Monday, 28 February 2011

Tragedy and joys

A stunning sunset
This week there was an immense tragedy at our house, Macbook Pro number 2 died. We bought Macbook Pro's just before we left America because Ian's old work one went on and on and on and still works even now, if a little cranky and needs to be constantly plugged in but it is 8 years old. We expected new ones to do the same, but oh no! The extra expense of buying what we thought would be a robust and reliable computer turned out to be a bad move. We don't know for sure if Macbook Pro number 2 died of the same disease as Macbook Pro number 1or not, aka a logic board, as we have to go all the way into Riga to take it to an apple repairer to find out, but we do know if it is then it is mega expensive to replace. So two computers bought a month apart both die within three months of each other, somehow don't feel like such an ardent Mac fan anymore.

A creative project this week. One of our neighbours isn't
sleeping well and is pregnant and a pillow like this helped
me all those years ago (over 21 now, help!) and so I had a
go at making one from fabric and pillows that weren't being
used for her. Kept me out of mischief for an afternoon anyway
Last week I mentioned that the majority of Latvians use a third of the electric we do which I found quite shocking, as I thought we don't use that much electric, but this week I am not so sure. A survey of households by a social and research agency found that only 4% of economically active Latvians use less than 100 KW/hrs per month, as unemployment stands at around 20% and if all of the unemployed used less than 100 KW/hrs then that is a quarter of Latvians in total not nearly half as Latvernergo stated. It does get complicated trying to compare the figures though as they are not comparing like with like and maybe the other proportion of folks are pensioners and possibly those out in rural areas do not use much electricity either as the study was done in Riga. What is for sure is that the rates are going up even though Latvernergo are not in any danger of making a loss, because by August of last year they were well in profit, but the bigger the profit the more tax so I guess the government or the IMF are happy. Just a shame those profits are not being invested in a better network, particularly in rural areas so that when the neighbours starts milking the cows the lights don't dim for everyone else on the line. The survey does call into question where Latvenergo gets their figures from though.

You have to trust me on this, I took this picture of the
sparkly diamond rain and would it show up on the camera?
No of course it didn't. Still you can see we have a lot of
snow still
We have still been having lots of glorious sunny weather and hardly a cloud in the sky for most of it too. The temperatures though have still been low, around -20s at night and -15-ish during the day but the last couple of days it has been gradually warming up and may have even briefly got to close to 0C today. Had to take a layer off just to shift some wood as I was getting too hot. There was one day this week it was so pretty as it looked like it was raining diamonds, just imagine a very slight drizzle but with the sun shining and instead of wet drops of fine rain, they are shiny, sparkly dancing, dazzling, lights shimmering their way down to the ground. It felt like another gift from heaven to remind me of the richness of God, a message to me to not worry about tomorrow because God has my tomorrows in his hands. At least the continued cold weather meant I finally got out skiing this week, I couldn't put it off any longer. I didn't do badly at all, I made my own little track around our orchard while Ian was busy digging in the snow with his tractor to clear a path down to our unfinished barn and I only fell down five times, twice in the first five minutes. One thing I did find was that getting up from a groomed track (ie one made by a skidoo and so compacted) was easier than trying to get up from the fresh snow of my home made track, every time I put my hand down it sank in the snow up to my elbow, and digging in my sticks didn't help either. In the end I found out that laying the sticks across the snow and leaning on them that way helped me to get up, difficult to explain and probably hilarious to watch, so glad none of you were there to see me.

Not sure what this is a footprint of but have wondered if
it was a lynx. One of the ladies I teach English too, saw one
while out skiing this last week.
We have had a fun time reconnecting with folks this week, about time too really as we have been back over a month already. Some friends were having a short break at the disney like castle quite close by and so we joined them at the end of their skiing day for a meal. Two days later and we joined some more friends for another meal round at their house - I could get quite use to this, saves me cooking anyway. On our way back, however, from the second meal we were stopped by the police, who for some reason were parked smack bang in the middle of the road outside our apartment, only we didn't realise they were police because it was dark, until we saw the reflective police stick that is, being waved by one guy indicating for us to pull over, although the road is that narrow that wasn't an option so we just stopped. It is quite normal to be stopped by the police here and it is nothing to worry about, we have been stopped numerous times, usually on the way to the airport but a lack of language here is a big help and all they want to see is driver's licence, technical documents and insurance documents - which should be in the car anyway. Often we get stopped during holiday times ie round about Christmas and Jani, the mid-summer festival time as they are checking for drunk drivers but they stop just about everyone then, so not a problem. What they were doing outside our apartment is beyond me though, as it is hardly a hive of activity. There is our apartment block of 18 apartments and a few houses on our street and hardly else anyone uses it, especially at that time of night and not all of them have cars either.

The view from the front door of our
other apartment
The update on our heating is that this week we have had good heat in our radiators despite the fact it has been so cold, so I am expecting a lower bill than the month before paradoxically. We shall see if our theory is correct that the lower the heat in the radiators the higher the bill because it is not high enough to switch on the recirculation pump, since we are charged for the amount of water pumping around the radiators and not necessarily the heat they contain.  The good news is that our house is sending off a letter of complaint this week as enough people have signed the letter and the heating company will now have 28 days to reply, should be interesting to know what they have to say. We shall not be paying for last months bill until it has been rectified that is for sure.

We feel like we have really made progress this week as we have finally just about finished off our other apartment and cleaned up the layers of dust from all the work. so if you were following last week I did get my sums right this time and we had more than enough flooring to finish the job off (Phew!). We are really pleased with it, as it looks very smart in a shabby chic sort of way. We have tried to use the original fittings where possible, which in reality means the doors and door frames and that is about it and we have taken the walls back to the rough plastered finish which is actually quite rustic in a way and I love the texture. It still looks a bit spartan and I have to sort out some pictures to hang up and we still have a few finishing off jobs such as beading around the laminate flooring as we didn't find any at the big diy stores (so it is not just our small local stores that don't have it in). I think we will try and make our own later on with our own wood and a router or maybe it will just not get done like the apartment we live in as we still waiting for skirting boards or beading to finish off the floors here too after nearly three years. So who is up for a visit now it is looking smart? One thing that is nice is that I now have somewhere that I can work which is not our bedroom and I can walk up to the apartment for a bit of exercise too. Unfortunately there is no internet there so I have to download all my work at home first to my computer so that I can read it when I get there, but perhaps it is a good idea there is no internet to distract me while I am there, probably get much more done.

This now has my desk and books in
We have had a few visitors to the apartment already, one day we left the door open as we were taking things up and down to the basement and an open door is an open invitation here, so one of our neighbours wandered in to have a look, she was impressed with the changes and my Latvian certainly stretched to "skaista" - beautiful, and the international "super" which was rather sweet. We also had young visitors today as unfortunately the lady we visited the other day for one of our meals out wasn't feeling very well over the weekend and is in hospital for a short stay and her son needed taking to basketball practice and then stay at our apartment for a short while to wait for his dad. I suddenly realised how out of practice I am with having kids around in my own place, there isn't much to do and not much in the way of things to drink but we coped and set them to work helping Ian take a load of wood down into the basement - as you do, nothing like a bit of child labour to keep the place warm. Actually they were very good and very helpful.

Looking back towards the front door
we have left these door frames unpainted
to match in with the doors. It means
the toilet door does not look so glaringly
modern compared to the others now

I love this mulberry colour in the living room. And do you
like the two little African guys in the corner, a present from
our son from his African trip

This is the bedroom and you can
see the door which had the paint
stripped off, sanded down and linseed
oil added 

Monday, 21 February 2011

Strong? Who me?

This is a picture I drew many years ago at a
time when I was not feeling strong at all.
That's like me at the front but I do realise
there is someone looking out for me and
backing me all the way
Twice this week someone has commented that they thought I was a strong person, not true! Really! I know I do bounce quite easily though, as I am an optimist by nature, I do look for the positive signs to tell me that all is not really lost. The ongoing relationship problems of a family member and some other news that can't really be shared in an open forum like this, certainly has knocked me though and I am getting rather tired of our house not selling yet, so happy is not a description I could use this week, nor have I felt particularly strong but I can sense that I am on the up when the fields of snow didn't just seem to sparkle with diamonds today, they looked like 30 carat diamonds not your measly one carat jobs. Snow sparkling like diamonds always reminds me of the richness of a life lived on the edge, a life that money cannot buy and it invigorates me every time and reminds me of the care of my Father in Heaven that created such richness. Also a friend and colleague posted a message which included the phrase "Carpe Diem" - seize the day, which doesn't mean be eternally busy but to seize the opportunities that come your way and I feel that we have done that and I feel that should continue to mark us as a couple - so I am seizing the day and let that drip into my soul to encourage me for the journey ahead.

My interpretation of the tearing of the
temple curtain
My eternal optimism fuels my studies too, if I didn't think that something could be done to turn around this trajectory we are on, one where we show no consideration for the poor and continue to trash the planet expecting our children to clean up, or our grandchildren or even worse not actually expecting anything and giving no thought at all to the future of this planet, then I wouldn't be doing the course I am (Managing Sustainable Rural Development, in case you don't know). I do believe there is a possibility of turning around the fortunes of people out in rural areas, so that they once again feel they can earn a respectable living from the land they love. I also believe that it is possible to turn around the degradation we see of the landscape and so stories like the one from Planet Earth, where organic waste can turn polluted soil into a rich varied habitat and lock up or deal with the poisons, really encourages me. It is incredible that the waste we discard has the potential to create such life all due to the microorganisms it contains. I feel that life can be like that too, some things we think are waste in our lives can actually have the potential for so much growth and redemption. So my prayer this week is that all the dross and waste will indeed by redeemed into something that creates life.

A butterfly in the hand, symbolises holding onto hope for me
This land of Latvia certainly needs a lot of redemption and there are plenty of statistics out this week to prove it for instance there are over 170,000 needy people in Latvia, and that is needy as described by Latvian standards not UK standards. 170,000 doesn't sound like a lot in some ways but it is 7% (1 in 14) of the population and it is 170,000 real people. Last year the Latvian Government spent 89.7m LVLs on a social network for the needy - amazingly, less than the banks earned in profits last year. Doesn't seem right does it, when the minimum subsistence level is greater than the money given to the poor? The figures for the Minimum subistance level released this week came to 171.41LVLs for a months worth of essential shopping, interesting isn't it when the social scheme gives people a basic minimum wage of 100 LVLs a month - makes you wonder what people feed off? Fresh air?

Ian and my favourite embroidery that I have
done. The original photo that inspired this
was taken in our garden in Denmark
The Latvians do not use up as many resources as many of us in Europe, obviously they can't afford it, and so the thought of electricity rises seemed scandalous, until I realised that actually it wasn't going to affect many people at all. In reality it is our electrical usage that seems scandalous in comparison. We had always prided ourselves on our low usage of electricity but I was obviously comparing myself in the wrong direction. The electric tariffs will only increase once 1200KW/hrs of electricity has been consumed and this means that for just under half of Latvian households there will be no change in the costs of electric and for another 30% there will be a one Lat difference or less per month. Our consumption of around 300 KW/hours per month means that we are in the top 24% of customers and therefore we are one of households paying more for our electric. It really shocked me to think I use more electric than about 75% of the population of Latvia and not only that but I was using over 3 times the amount as some do. I think we need to look at our usage once again and make some changes. So what's your electric consumption in one month?

The deer must be getting hungry now as they are beginning
to make their way into the gardens
Okay a bit back to front this week but I have stopped pontificating now, so what has been happening? Well it has been very cold and beautifully sunny all week again and forecast for much the same for the next few days which means temperatures around minus 21C in the mornings and lower. One of the biggest problems at this temperature is getting cars started and ours has been reluctant to get going, and takes ages to defrost but since it has been sunny we start the car and park up around the corner and let the sun do a bit of the work for us. Unfortunately for some of our neighbours coaxing the car into life has been a bit more of a problem and so we have twice had to get the faithful old tow rope out and lend a hand. In one case it meant quite a few of our neighbours could all get to the shops instead of having to walk in the cold, I think they were rather grateful.

I admit it, I am untidy with papers, books and embroidery
scattered all over the sofa
On one day this week we noticed a lot of people milling about and a lot of cars which is unusual for this area, unless something is going on. We managed to work it out when we spotted the local hearse amongst the crowds, aka a bright red minibus; not the sombre black estate car for folks around here. We felt very sorry for the folks gathered as we knew they were in for a long cold day as people were spilling out of the chapel into the open air due to lack of space for the funeral service and at -12C it isn't pleasant to be standing around, mind you from all accounts it is not much warmer inside the chapel at this time of year either. The service is not the end of it, as people will gather at the graveside too and speak some words of how much the person meant to them, and if there is a lot of people that is a long time spent out in the cold, only warmed by the vodka that sometimes flows at these things.

Much tidier with our new acquisition. A rather neat set of
shelves with a cloth basket at the top - perfect for my
embroidery
We have also been progressing ever so well with getting our other flat finished. We laid a laminate floor for the hallway and were really pleased with it and pleased with the fact there was so little waste but we needed something to edge the floor with and tootled out to look for some beading, just regular beading nothing fancy. Well there was some beading in one of the shops but not the right sort, it was too small for the gap. Oh well! Next job! We then progressed to laying the laminate flooring in the living room and it was looking good, we were on a roll but... for some unknown reason we hadn't bought enough boxes we were three pieces short of finishing when we ran out. The problem is that we bought the laminate flooring on a trip into Riga and we didn't really want to go all the way back there. We gambled instead on there being the same flooring at a nearer store, only 45 mins away instead of an hour and half away and fortunately the gamble paid off and they had the right flooring with the same code, so we bought the extra sheets and another 11 boxes so we can do another two rooms with it. Sorted! Well I hope so as long as I have done my sums right this time. Can't believe we ran out, it's not like me, must be losing the plot. As we were carefully loading the car to try and make sure the weight was in the centre of the car, so we didn't destabilise the car in the icy conditions, a guy kept trying to attract our attention and eventually tried to talk to us, unfortunately he couldn't speak English and we had no idea what he was after, or if he was just trying to be friendly which happens sometimes. Only when we finished loading up the car did I suddenly realise that the guy was actually hoping we would give him a tow to start his car, as it was only then that I noticed he kept walking around a car with a tow rope all ready on the front. Doh! Our Latvian does need to improve. Just as I realised though someone else agreed to tow his car, so we thought he could share in the towing ministry and let him get on with it. Well you have to share the blessings don't you!

The temperature in our kitchen on Tuesday morning (11.7C),
 it has got better every day since. Not so sure about the
outside temperature though - that's the bottom reading and
that is minus 23C.
Update on our heating: I didn't need to go and do a sit down protest at the local heating company we have actually had reasonable heat this week - wonder if the boss reads my blog? Somehow doubt it! Our kitchen has gradually warmed up over the last week which has been wonderful and now I can sit in the living room with just the addition of a quilt on my legs.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Convulsions


Ice on the inside of our car window. The literal translation
for these in Latvian is ice flowers ie ledus puń∑e
(pronounced lay-dus poocha)
The world has certainly gone through some convulsions this week and I thought I was just going to have a quiet week in contrast but towards the end of the week I found out that someone in our family was having severe relationship problems and I ended up spending quite a bit of time on the phone one day. It was very draining and I found it so sad, so Ian and I ended up at our local bakery for a pastry and a cup of tea. It didn't change much but the walk in the rather cold temperatures of about -17C certainly helped work off some of that agitated feeling. The rest of the week was quite boring really, I did some decorating (and I remembered to take pictures) and I did my studies. Boring is good sometimes though as it can be quite restful and peaceful.

The snow had drifted over our road way, and so this is Ian
heading off to get the tractor as the car could go no further
I did make it down to the local heating company to complain about our communal heating but the boss was not in and I haven't had anyone to translate for the rest of the week so I have left it for now. There is a possibility of a letter going from everyone in our apartment block but that depends if it gets organised. People don't always work very well together in our apartment block, some do, but others are quite awkward or maybe it is just distrustful - which given the history of Latvia is not surprising - but it does make trying to get something organised incredibly hard work. The temperature in the apartment hadn't been bad since I went down but they are beginning to slide again which is not fun when the temperatures outside have been very low, i.e.-24C this morning, meaning it was 12.9C in the kitchen. I think a little visit maybe in order and maybe even a little peaceful sit down protest, after all I am sure it will be warmer to do my studying there than at home at this rate. We will see, I will make a decision in a couple of days time, might just bottle out but you never know.

Digging the roadway again
Being peaceful can give a lot of room for pondering though and so I have been doing a lot of that. As we were away in Australia for around two months I somehow missed the news about an organisation called UK Uncut, well that and the fact I don't follow the UK news very much these days, but when I found their story very inspiring. Just in case you don't know they are a group of people who got together and were moaning about the fact that large companies seem to get away without paying taxes and yet those taxes were equal to some of the services being cut to the poorest in British society, so they decided it was about time they did something. They peacefully demonstrated in Vodafone premises to highlight their avoidance of taxes and pointed out it would save the cuts in benefits to those living in London, which may force many to move away. It was simple! It connects the corporate avoidance measures to concrete issues facing the Brits. Does inspire me to do a peaceful sit down protest though.

Some of our apple tree coverings had come undone, at such
cold temperatures it is not good for our young apple trees. I
found some compost bags and slipped them over the top,
but they didn't go all the way down to the bottom so I piled
snow up around the base. Hope this works.
So what about Latvia, where are the injustices there? There are plenty and Neo last year highlighted quite a few when he hacked into unprotected tax accounts and used the information to point out how much people were being paid in companies where workers were taking pay cuts. But how about today, or this week? Well Swedbank have just released their end of the quarter profits for October to December last year, a profit of 18 million LVLs (£21.5m, $34.5m). This is the same Swedbank who lent heavily to the Latvians and in so doing contributed significantly to the property bubble. The profit for the year after taking into account the bad debts was 73m LVLs (£87m, $140m). In some ways this is probably peanuts in global banking terms but to Latvians it is a lot. The mess the crisis caused meant Latvia took out a big loan with the IMF and they are insisting that Latvia cuts a further 50m LVLs from their budget, on top of the enormous cuts they have already had to make last year and on top of the ones they had already planned for this year. So while Swedbank are recovering quickly, the poorest of the poor are paying off the loan from the results of fat cat speculation with cuts to their services. But it isn't just Swedbank, SEB banks profits made a mere 36m LVLs, and DnB Nord 20m LVLs, another of the big banks, Nordea actually made a loss of 12m LVLs however. The combined profits of the three banks last year amounted to 46% of the cuts that the Latvian Government are going to make this year.

Winter wonderland! We went for a snow shoe walk around
our land. All I can say is never trust someone who says
that we won't have to fight our way through the trees!
It was pretty though and we are so grateful for having the
forethought to buy some good snow shoes before we left
the US, this is the second year they have been a boon.
Sorry for throwing figures around but it makes me mad that this situation goes on. The Latvians haven't got a lot of money and in fact many of them aren't even paying their heating bills because they are just so high and their wages have been cut and it is paying for heating or food in many cases and since by law the heating cannot be cut the food wins. Swedbanks quarterly profits would actually nearly pay what those in Riga owe the heating company. Also a recent sale of a Francis Bacon painting would have more than paid folks' unpaid heating bills. That song by Del Amitri comes to mind yet again, Nothing Ever Happens

"While American businessmen snap up Van Goghs
For the price of a hospital wing
Nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all
The needle returns to the start of the song 
And we all sing along like before"

This is the decorating. I think there are too
many blocks of colour on the left, but
that will probably be covered by a cupboard
anyway. It was fun to do though
Doesn't quite sound the same to "snap up a Bacon for half the price of Latvian cuts" but this song was being sung in 1990 and still the rich of this world pursue greed for their own pleasure. I am so pleased that UK Uncut are standing up and saying "Enough is Enough", the Egyptians are saying "Enough is Enough" and the women protesting against Berlusconi are saying "Enough is Enough" because Enough is Enough. It is time for a change in economics and politics that allow these things to carry on.

Our rainbow coloured house. This is looking
towards the kitchen with the door taken
off to be sanded down in the living room.

A close up of the detail in the hallway
Talking of the Egyptian demonstrations, I have found them so inspiring. Their dignity and restraint in their demonstrations and their diligence in their cleaning up operation should make us ashamed. The complicity of the northern nations to Mubarak's regime should not go by without comment either, the Egyptians could rightly stand tall and point their fingers at the north and say where were you when we were oppressed? They have demonstrated such unity almost unheard of in these days of firing accusations across religious and cultural divides. I have to stand up and say I admire what you have done, may you be an inspiration to many in this world and may your patience and persistence bear fruit. Keep going till you reach your goal. May those of us in the North have the humility to learn from them.
Since it is Valentine's Day - here
is a lovers' tree - all entwined.
Isn't that sweet.

  
Those twigs in the ground are actually bushes
These were the bushes in a previous year. Must take
another after the snow has gone

Monday, 7 February 2011

A funny old week this week.

Some sunshine after a week of grey and snow showers
Getting back into a routine always feels strange after a long break and this time is no different. Last week I started back on my course but got stuck on where to find figures for the number of folks employed (technical term used by me obviously cheers) in factories between 1750 and 1950, so if any of you has to hand this very important piece of information then I would love to know. Anyway I got a bit fed up of looking and went to the post office instead to take some embroidered hearts to be sent to Australia and to pick up some Kefir grains that had arrived from Denmark. The folksy embroidered hearts I had made were a thank you for letting us stay whilst we were in Australia (of course I forgot to take a photo) but as Australian laws are very strict on imports then I had to fill out a detailed form. The good news is the form is in English as well as Latvian, the bad news is I still couldn't read it as my eyesight is getting so bad that I can't read small print without my glasses, the good news is I bumped into a friend on the way up (said my eyesight was bad - all groan please at this point!), and she came with me in case they asked me any complicated questions in Latvian and so she ended up filling in the form for me. I guess I shall have to start taking my glasses with me everywhere now or wear them full time.

Love the golden glow of this house but I do think they
need some insulation in their roof spaces
I spent the rest of the afternoon drinking tea at my friend's home, as I am never one to refuse the offer of a cup of tea, and so we chatted about all kinds of ventures we could get into, in fact we chatted for so long Ian got worried as he had gone to do a day's work in a Riga hospital and was home mid-afternoon with no sign of me around when I was supposed to be studying. Mobile phones would be useful if you can hear them. Yes! My hearing is getting worse too. I must be falling apart at the seams. So instead of searching on the internet for facts and figures I chatted the afternoon away, dyed a grass-stained t-shirt to give it another lease of life, fed my milk-kefir grains a nice drink of milk and my water kefir grains a handful of sultanas, some sugar and a nice slice of lemon. Quite a productive day after all!

Glowing
We are still having issue with our communal heating and it was nice of them to turn up the heating for the start of my studies but it didn't last all unfortunately, just the morning. Amazingly though our radiators suddenly warmed up to a very pleasant temperature the afternoon before the Latvian Schools Winter Olympics was due to be held in our village. Some folks were staying in the accommodation block adjacent to the technical school that just so happens to share the same heating system as we do. A strange coincidence don't you think? We still have reasonable heat after they have all gone home but it does fluctuate somewhat and not sure how long it is going to last at all. Our bill for last months heating came through though and it is twice what it was for November which was a far colder month, i.e. -16C in November when we left and hovering around 0C most of this last week, and yet our apartment temperature was pleasantly warm. Needless to say I shall be down to the office this week with a record of the temperatures in our home over the last 10 or so days (as low as 13/14C some days) and explaining to them how they must be mistaken in their calculations, in other words they cannot charge us double for something we didn't get and we will not accept their charges. They are not used to people complaining directly to them and so it will be interesting to see what they have to say and how they try and deal with us. I can be quite persistent if I have to!

A glow on the horizon is a welcome sight around here but
not for the poor folks in Perth
On the subject of Australia I see that Perth is now suffering wild fires. It is amazing how a trip can make something much more relevant. We took a trip to Swan valley which is one area where the fires are raging and another two fires are along the road we took down to our holiday in Denmark on the south coast. How different things must be from a month ago. I know it is a vast country but the Australians are certainly getting hammered this season and I just pray that as a nation they will know how to pull together to weather these storms and come to value that sense of togetherness.

A work in progress, nothing like the slightly folksy hearts
I sent to Australia but a random assortment of fabrics and
stitches.
It is bizarre but one of the products of such storms is that it increases a nations GDP. GDP measures the production in a country and if a country suffers a catastrophe that requires a lot of construction this then gets reflected in an improved GDP. The country can be poorer due to the catastrophe but the figures look better. It is no wonder therefore that David C. Korten, an advocate for a new economy said "We can no longer afford to leave the design of our economic systems to professional economists who lack both the necessary skills and interests to design an economy that serves life (from "Do corporations rule the world? And does it matter?" 1998). We desperately need an economy that serves life instead of lives that serve the economy, it is time that the poor are no longer ransomed to the rich, it is time that our economies were based on what we produce in real terms not on some bankers fanciful make-believe and we can no longer ransom our children's inheritance. It is about time we stopped building up debt that our children will have to pay. Change is not going to be easy but why should our children pay for that change? Shouldn't we start now?

And now for some more creativity that I got
up to instead of doing coursework.

The train is the same one I took a picture of while in Perth

A bit of a play with iPhoto and voila1
I will finish with an amazing discovery today, an Amazon enigma that my facebook friends helped me to solve. I was interested in books written by David Korten and wondered about getting his new book a revised edition of an "Agenda for a New Economy: from phantom wealth to real wealth". Ordering it direct might incur taxes payable at the post office so I looked for an English source of the book and found that it could be purchased as an e-book from Amazon. Having just downloaded Kindle for Macs onto my computer I thought I might try that option and found out a used paperback was £10.21 or I can pay £10.59 for the Kindle version - strange for a new book! I then decided to look at the American site, after all there would be no delivery charges for an e-book would there? American site $9.99 - somewhat cheaper but that was on Safari and I had difficulty downloading e-books from Amazon using my Safari browser so looked on Firefox (are you still with me?) and found that it was now $13.79 downloaded via the international wireless delivery Amazon whispanet - Whoops! Looks like there is a delivery charge! For what? I have no idea, the internet is the internet, right? Anyway I asked my friends to try the link and found that they got a range of answers from unable to get it, to $16 something, and someone with an American account could get it for $9.99. So it would look like Amazon charges you differently depending on where they think you are coming from, and even that varies. Most strange! They must be practicing some alternative economics of their own. It certainly makes me less inclined to use Amazon although at times I have little choice.