Monday, 1 December 2008

Unexpected happenings

The first unexpected happening this week was seeing a stork flying around Ergli. They are supposed to have left a long time ago, like September, so as you can imagine this was not a happy looking stork flying around with two foot of snow on the ground. I felt God was telling me to expect the unexpected, not sure what that meant and still don't.

The next unexpected happening was our youngest son, Matthew winning the Let's mUve competition where he designed a new concept for a wheel - don't ask me what exactly but it looked good. It is amazing because it was a competition for undergraduates and Matthew is not even an undergraduate yet. We were amazed as we were just really pleased he had got to the finals and were telling him how brilliant it was that he had got that far, we didn't actually expect him to win - mind you I don't think he did either! I also felt that it was another sign to expect the unexpected.

We managed another day of snowshoeing which was good but the snow has nearly gone now leaving some fantastic ice structures, pity they are a yucky colour though.

Last year we spent Thanksgiving in Colorado with the usual trimmings that go with Thanksgiving. I loved the Turkey, potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes and salads but I have to say I was not that keen on the sweet potatoes baked with brown sugar and marshmallows on the top - a little too sweet for my liking, and cranberry and jello (jelly - often strawberry) salad I find a little too unusual. I did like my friend Tina's cranberry and apple salad though (thinking about it I think that was a different meal but I do remember eating Turkey and pretending it was Thanksgiving). This year was a little different, there was lamb and errr pork (surprise, surprise), and lots of salads made from fresh vegetables, a red cabbage and onion baked dish which was really nice but no Turkey and no sweet potatoes - not exactly something you find about 15 miles away from the Russian border which is where we spent Thanksgiving. It was a good time though and there was even pumpkin pie (made from real pumpkin not out of a can) and apple pie for dessert. The food and the company was good though and I did say that I thought having a day set aside to be thankful to God and to spend with family without opening presents was an idea which should be exported but I was told that really it is often only about stuffing ones face and has little to do with being thankful at all in most American homes which is a shame.

I have been reading on my course about the change in production from Ford's original mass production to the Toyota model of batch production and this set me thinking in terms of employment generally. The basic minimum wage has become a symbol of the difference between ideological thinking of the right and left parties. The right argue that to have a basic minimum wage is detrimental to the markets and the left arguing that it is a basic human right to have a fair minimum wage. I have to side on the left side of that debate for a different ideological reason and that is I think it is wrong for companies to expect the state to provide their workers with subsidies while at the same time complaining about the level of taxation. I wondered if there was some sort of a biblical principle on the matter and I am beginning to think that maybe the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 21:1-15) is actually a good principle of an employer being fair in a sociological sense. A denarius was the equivalent of an unskilled workers daily wage and so the vineyard worker was ensuring that people of the area were at least achieving a basic daily wage. I can almost hear the employers squeaking now that production would become too costly but I would argue that it is too costly not to, and also those at the top seemed to have managed quite nicely on the backs of many workers who do not ask for much beyond a decent living wage. 

Monday saw us taking a trip to Riga to see if we could find a stove with a boiler for a reasonable price and reasonable quality. We could find some wonderful looking stoves but not many with boilers. We only saw one which was in stock but without the boiler that seemed to have a good build quality and would take two weeks to order with the boiler but it was pricey. We were informed of a stove with a boiler that was cheap enough but we couldn't see it before putting down 50% of the price and was made in China.... hmmm! We loved our Danish stove and the quality was good, and we are kind of spoiled but a good quality stove with a boiler shouldn't be impossible to find .... should it? Well we will have to keep looking I guess.

Additional note for my American friends I mean a wood burning stove that heats the house and water not something you necessarily cook on.

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