Speaking of Burgers – the Big Mac Index

I have a degree in Economics from the University of New England, in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia. I read for that degree when Friedman’s Monetarism and Reaganomics was all the rage and Keynesian economics was generally confined to those academics that had a true grasp of societal greed and the flawed assumptions Friedman based his theories on, not to mention that after periods of tight monetary control, generally inflation boomed.

So, what has economics got to do with burgers. Nothing really other than I started looking at cheeseburgers locally and that led me to think of the Big Mac Index. What started out as a joke has become a standard for measuring the purchasing power of different currencies against a very standard basket of goods, in this case, McDonald’s Big Mac.

Most of us of an age will remember the Big Mac rhyme, “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame-seed bun”. McDonald’s (Maccas in Australia, McDo’s in the Philippines) opened their first Australian restaurant in 1971, the year before I finished high school. For those curious, it was opened in Yagoona, a suburb of Sydney.

The rhyme came out on television and radio advertisements in 1974, when inflation was rampant, petrol prices were rising and Gough Whitlam was Prime Minister of Australia. It was a happy, catchy jingle.

I digress. So no matter where you are in the world,. a McDonald’s Big Mac is made with the same ingredients and the same way. McDonald’s does not just sell burgers. They have one of the best quality systems anywhere and so not only are the ingredients the same, the way they are produced, prepared, the amount of power used used on same machines for cooking, the whole kit and kaboodle, is standard everywhere. This means that a direct currency comparison can be made by using the cost to consumers of the Big Mac.

Comparing USD against PHP – raw data – suggesting the peso in undervalued against the USD (or, the USD is overvalued)

In 1986 the Economist published the Big Mac index. It was based on the theory* of purchasing-power parity, the theory suggesting that in the long-run, exchange rates should settle at a rate that provides parity between any two currencies for the cost of the Big Mac. As the Economist notes:

Burgernomics was never intended as a precise gauge of currency misalignment, merely a tool to make exchange-rate theory more digestible. Yet the Big Mac index has become a global standard, included in several economic textbooks and the subject of dozens of academic studies. For those who take their fast food more seriously, we also calculate a gourmet version of the index.

I am not thinking of applying an Angeles cheeseburger index … but then again 🙂

You can check the Economist index at The Economist Big Mac Index.


* “All theory depends on assumptions which are not quite true. That is what makes it theory” … Robert Solow in 1956

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A Crisis of Indecision … Again

I’ve finally completed the first batch of vessels and aircraft for my little coastal wars set. I will get around to posting photographs in a day or so. The crisis arrives as now I need to decide what to do next and I do have a lot in the lead pile. I was thinking of:

  • Finish off the coastal set as I have to paint:
    1. Italians
    2. More Germans
    3. More British
  • Do some other naval, such as:
    1. World War One
    2. Matapan Fleets
    3. Early World War 2 Germans and British
    4. My Spanish Civil War Fleets
    5. Argentinian and Brazilian World War One Fleets
    6. US World War One Fleet
    7. Soviet World War Two Fleet
    8. US and Japanese Pacific Fleets
    9. British Pacific Fleet
  • Finish my Moderns (Italians, Dutch, French)
  • Paint some 6mm figures such as:
    1. Classical Punic Wars (5 armies left to paint)
    2. Greeks (fousands of ’em)
    3. Dark Age Set (five armies left to paint there)
    4. Napoleonic Prussian
  • Victorian Science Fiction (Aeronefs and similar including 2mm ground forces)
  • Science Fiction
  • 6mm World War Two land forces including:
    1. Belgians
    2. French
    3. Early War Germans
    4. Late War British, American, Soviet or German
    5. Hungarians
    6. Finish the Japanese
  • World War 2 aerial – late war bombers and fighters
  • Modern Armies such as my Poles etc

Sigh – decisions, decisions. There are other items in the lead pile such as English Civil War, Dutch/Belgian and Polish Napoleonics, Napoleonic ships (1/2400 scale), and Ancient and Renaissance Galleys. I think I will need a burger and two beers to make this decision 🙂

Late note: I managed the burger and two beers, but am still undecided!

Keeping Numbers Up

I noticed that when there is a quiet period with few posts here in Thomo’s Hole, the number of visitors drops. I thought that I could try what many YouTubers do and set some clickbait in motion with headlines like:

You Won’t Believe This … Thomo trims his toenails!!!!

or

We were amazed that the Philippines has this … fish and chips at the pub!!!

or

Unbelievable … Angeles City Sports Bars are open to serve food and beer while showing sport – you won’t see this in Singapore!!!

I decided that was not going to work as the discerning readers here would see straight through that in a matter of moments. Instead, I thought, that as I was listening The Clash singing Charlie Don’t Surf at the time of writing, I would add something ocean based.

The YouTube video below is your intrepid correspondent dealing with a Maui shore break in 2015, for you entertainment.

The only thing broken that day was my toe. 🙂

Painting Mojo and Thomo’s New Hole (temporary)

Thomo’s New Hole – work and wargame area combined and old Chichi who likes curling up on my computer bag and sleep here.

Thomo’s Hole has moved from Manila to Pampanga. This is a new temporary hole as Thomo’s permanent “he is never moving again … ever” hole is under construction. The new location is the province of Pampanga, famous for its food, volcanoes, screwing up air traffic for weeks in the 1990s, old US Air Bases and for being a considerably less expensive and lower stress environment to live in compared to Manila. I did think I was rather clever, managing to finish the move the day before Typhoon Rolly ripped through southern Luzon, however, perhaps I did not throw enough virgins into the volcanoes as Typhoon Ulysses managed to catch me at home last week (and scared the living you know what out of me).

Kits, wargame figures and my Commands and Colous Collection – unpacked bag of books on the bottom shelf

I think I will have enough space here, in the new temporary Hole, for the completion of some kits as well as playing some board games and figure games.

I should note that there are a number of bags of books upstairs still to be unpacked and some additional figures as well. I’ll get around to them in the near future when I can purchase an additional book case.

So what am I starting with to get the wargames rolling I hear you ask?

I had a hard look at what I had here and considered doing some rapid painting of some 6mm ancients and finish either the Punic Wars or Erik Bloodaxe sets.

I then considered getting stuck into painting the several thousand 6mm Greeks I have laying around.

The new local!

I then thought it a good idea to either finish up my World War 2 North Africa Italians but then I would need to purchase some 8th Army figures and vehicles and all wargamers know where that leads – on to the Afrika Korps and from there late war British and Americans. Yes, that way lies madness – or at least the normal wargamers megalomania.

I am also cautious at the moment about ordering items for delivery from the UK given the state of international logistics in these plague-ridden times.

That also ruled out the American Civil War project I have been considering.

I thought about painting my Early World War 2 Belgians – there are not so many and I have some other early World War 2 foes they can fight.

I then had a brainwave, for something really simple to play as a project. Why not refight the entire Peloponnesian War, both land and sea, over the coming months, until the permanent location is complete?

Right then, that’s decided.

I had one additional problem to deal with. Again, with all the moving and some work stress, I had lost my painting mojo. I looked at the projects here, both big and small, and settled on the idea of picking something that was already undercoated and ready to go and could be managed in small chunks.

World War 2 coastal vessels. So the 1/1200 scale Hallmark coastal vessels were examined and whilst there are some big vessels there, such as destroyers, liberty ships and such, 12 S-Boote and 4 R-Boote seem to fit the bill. I started them tonight and have the sea bases completed, well except for the wakes, they come when the hulls are painted.

Mojo Restored!


Play nice, roll high, and enjoy the game!

Another Proof Added to “Why the Southern Hemisphere is on Top of the Globe”

Quite a few years ago, in 1995 or 1996 if my aging memory isn’t failing me, I was asked to present a light talk at a company event in Trondheim, Norway. Norwegians are lovely folks, friendly, helpful and generous. They have an interesting sense of humour and when you are winding them up, you are expected to smile so they know you are teasing them. It was at the start of a large project so I wanted to both entertain and instruct. I started to think about the orientation of the globe. I presented a number of “facts” that proved Australia was on the top of the globe, and Norway on the bottom.

Why Australia is at the Top of the World records the three or four original “proofs” I presented as well as some added later. Stanley Friedman kindly provided an additional (and now the 9th) proof. It goes something like this:

Polaris (the Pole Star or North Star) is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor (α Ursae Minoris). It also happens to appear at a fixed point in the sky of the Northern Hemisphere with the rest of the constellations and stars revolving around that point. As we determined that stars are a sign of up and as the Northern Hemisphere has less stars than the Southern Hemisphere and must be less up, therefore down, Polaris must be the fulcrum that allowing for the various astronomical attractions and such, the earth rests and revolves upon. This is further confirmed by Proof Number 6, the Rotational Proof that has the earth rotating clockwise!

Thanks Stanley for the proof, this has been added the page here. Other proofs are welcome.

Well that was the week that was — the next week!

So, we are now at the week after the week that was. The condo building has three more days quarantine to serve then should have its quarantine restrictions eased. The mega city that is Metro Manila has another week to go before the government decides on whether to ease, tighten, or leave the restrictions as they are. Some of the cities in Metro Manila are performing better in comparison to others but will the government set tighter restrictions for some cities over the others?

After watching Kesari last week I have avoided rushing off and building a Sikh force for the Pehawar project … just!

I was able to work back in the office from Tuesday which was great. I am slowly cleaning my stuff out of the office in preparation for my exit from SOFGEN at the end of next week. Four more work days, then I think I will take a couple of weeks with my feet up, then full on looking for more work … if you know anyone who wants an old fat project manager, CIO, country head or similar, I am available!

The rules and the Army blocked up for the “press shot” 🙂

On the wargaming front, I completed the Anglo-Saxon DBA Army this time last week with the varnishing. Last Monday night I took the press shots of them (on the left and see 6mm Anglo-Saxons for DBA — 701-1016 CE). They are now waiting for me to get off my fat backside and paint up an opponent.

As for the middle eastern village buildings I was working on,  let me note that I have actually managed to do nothing at all on it this week.

It still looks exactly the same as the photograph below – in fact, it hasn’t moved at all on my painting/office table area thingy.

Plan is that today, I WILL finish these buildings. Some roofs, some windows darkened, a little sepia (maybe) wash and a dry brush and they will be finished.

I will then clean up the coffee table and my painting desk so I can do a couple of things. One is prepare the 2mm army for paint. Second is to sort books that arrived in the last nine months in a read/unread stack. Then I want to lay out some board games for a few solo games. Lastly I will need some space for a new laptop. My old one (now 5 years old) is giving me problems with the power supply – but it is probably a good time to get a new one.

So, a week when not so much has happened but hopefully ready to springboard into my last week at SOFGEN, then a couple of weeks of relaxation. Of course, the prospect of spending quality time by a pool with a hollowed out pineapple, a rum based drink in it and a fruit salad hanging off the side with an umbrella to reduce evaporation, well, in the middle of a pandemic, that may be hard to arrange but we will have a little period of relaxing.

Right then, where are my brushes?


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Well that was the week that was!

Well, that was the week that was. Monday was a normal day, well as normal as it can be under General Community Quarantine. Tuesday morning, however, things got interesting. There was a note on the wall of the condo elevator as I was walking to the office.  I didn’t read it until getting to the office. It noted that there was an active Covid-19 case identified in the condo. Letting my Admin Manager, know, I was instructed to:

  1. Go home
  2. Get a test to ensure I was negative, and
  3. That the office would be closed until after my test then a deep clean would be organised (I did wonder why the wait)

The specimen was collected when a doctor dropped around to the apartment and shoved a swab the length of my umbrella up each of my nostrils. Technically it does not hurt but my goodness don’t the tears half fall?

Result came back today, SARS-Cov-2 viral RNA NOT DETECTED.

Great, life can return to near normal and I can exit the Condo from time to time.

I still managed to work from home, uncomfortable as it was, finishing up a few things before my enforced retirement at the end of the month. I also worked on finishing up some wargaming things that had been hanging around. I also managed to catch a few movies on Amazon Prime and Netflix.

One that I really enjoyed was Kesari, a movie made in 2019 (IMDB Reference) which is based on the real story of the Battle of Saragarhi in which an force of 21 Sikhs fought against 10,000 Pathans in 1897.

The background story is based around Havildar Ishar Singh disobeying orders from his English officer and saving a Pathan woman from the local mullah and men. This was on the North-West Frontier in Tirah, about 20 miles from Chat, 40 miles from Peshawar. After that, Havilday Singh was sent to the outpost and then the Pathans decided to get restless.

Wikipedia notes about the battle:

The Battle of Saragarhi was fought before the Tirah Campaign on 12 September, 1897 between the British Raj and Afghan tribesmen. On 12 September 1897, estimated 12,000 – 24,000 Orakzai and Afridi tribesmen were seen near Gogra, at Samana Suk and round Saragarhi, cutting off Fort Gulistan from Fort Lockhart. The Afghans attacked the outpost of Saragarhi where thousands of Afghans swarmed and surrounded the fort, preparing to assault it. The soldiers in the fort, who were all Sikhs and led by Havildar Ishar Singh, chose to fight to the death, in what is considered by some military historians as one of history’s greatest last stands. The post was recaptured two days later by another British Indian contingent.

Well, according to the movie, 21 Sikhs and a Pathan cook.

The movie was brilliant, although without English dubbing. Still the subtitles were adequate for following the plot lines and once the Pathans attacked, it was not difficult to work out what was being yelled.

Best of all, the area the filming was in allowed me to get an idea of land form and colours on the North-West Frontier and therefore for my Peshawar project.

Over the rest of the week I worked on finishing the Anglo-Saxon 6mm DBA Army as well as the Middle Eastern Peshawar buildings (building progress photographed to the left).

The DBA Anglo-Saxons had the edges of the flags painted to remove the white edge and blend the flags in.

The Anglo-Saxons were then varnished with a spray matt varnish. The varnish is Liquitex Professional Matt Varnish an seems to have worked well. The army is shown on the right with the varnish drying.

The Liquitex Matt Varnish was the only spray varnish I could get from the local paint store. For gloss or satin, all I have are varnishes that require brushing on – perfect for ships, less so multiple figures on a base.

What’s next? Well tonight it is time for the Virtual Wargames Club (and tomorrow at 14:30 local time). After which, I will take some “press release” photos of the Anglo-Saxons, finish the Middle East village and then clean my painting table/office, as well as the  coffee table just over there to the right. I want to lay out a board game or two and have a play. In addition, I will also be looking for a new job more seriously as well as brushing up my COBOL skills and maybe learning ELM.

In the meantime, let me leave you with a little more of my movie recommendation (and in case you are wondering, in true Bollywood style, they did manage to weave two songs into the movie!

The Bridge

So I noted that I had hit The Wall the other day. Last night I gave myself a good slapping for both The Wall and noticing that the refrigerator (fridge, ref) was empty of beer and it was 10 minutes after curfew!

Decided that while a coffee was a poor second choice, it would need to do, so I decided to settle down with a coffee and finish off the Soviet aircraft so I have one complete new(ish) wargame set available. Photos will follow as tonight I just need to varnish them all and then will photograph collection tomorrow.

Getting some paint time in allows me to clear my head and think clearly, or rather achieve a state of “non-thinking”. Buddhists achieve this by meditating, I reach the same state painting and have the added benefit of having painted wargame figures at the end of the process rather than painful knees and hips from prolonged sitting cross-legged on the floor and chanting “Om Mani Padme Hum” for hours on end.

So what was my enlightenment  last night? Basically (no dice needed):

  1. Keep painting
  2. Brush up on COBOL skills (demanded coders these days)
  3. Learn Java 😦
  4.  Send CV to all contacts that can assist with contract work (obviously)
  5. Pick up some beer on the way home tomorrow night

So, next on the painting queue after the Soviet aircraft tonight? The 6mm Saxons, followed by a few 1/1200 scale coastal vessels then some 2mm imagi-nations.

On the technical front? Get gnuCOBOL working on one of my laptops and start a little coding project (will likely also require a database so double skills refreshing). Start learning Java – at least two hours a day.

On the job front – send CV to at least three potential employers/clients and follow up two previous contacts each day!

There! Sorted. Bring on the challenges, I’m ready to kick arse (or ass for you ‘mericans)! Oh, and pick up some beer on the way home!

The Wall

I’ve hit a wall, at least with wargaming, painting and books, my three pastimes (included in that is historical research which cuts across all three). About halfway through the current pandemic, I had no issues. We had managed to have all our staff working from home so everyone had a job and was being paid, the typhoon passed through with no damage to friends, staff and relatives, and I was happily working on securing some more business for the company. Relaxing time was spent painting some 1/285 scale aircraft and catching up on books I had not read. That all changed when the company I work for decided that I should be mandatorily retired as I was 65.

Now I am out chasing work (or rather staying in as part of the General Community Quarantine, chasing work). As I mention frequently, “Have Passport, Will Travel” (with apologies to Sam Rolfe, Herb Meadow and Richard Boone). I am looking for contract work for the next two years or so, either project management, COBOL programming (I have many years experience there a lifetime ago), or even as a fill-in executive.

The timing of all this is just perfect — looking for work in the middle of a pandemic, with rising unemployment rates, and where I am supposed to remain inside, is a challenge at best. Still, on the plus side, the labor laws of the Philippines ensure that unlike the time my job was made redundant in Singapore by that French company, this time at least, I will walk away with enough to see me through for the next few months while I find a replacement gig.

The Wall? Well, I am sitting here, on a Saturday afternoon at my painting come work spot in the apartment, looking at some Saxons who need paint, some Soviet aircraft to complete, some coastal ships and boats I prepared for painting about three years ago, a Napoleonic Prussian army prepared for painting 10 years ago, and about 10 unread books waiting for review … and I am not sure what to do.

Wargamer’s Decision time:

  1. Indeciselevly sit and have a coffee
  2. Books
  3. Soviet aircraft
  4. Coastal vessels
  5. Napoleonic Prussians
  6. Saxons

Bugger! At least it is simple and quick. Time to slap myself, get up of my arse and get moving!

Now, where’s my coffee mug?