Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Economics 101

The following came in on an email today and was too good not to share with you all:

It is

the month of August, a resort town sits next to the shores of a


It is raining and the little town looks totally deserted. Times


tough; everybody is in debt and everybody lives on


Suddenly, a rich tourist comes to town.

He enters the only hotel, lays a 100 dollar bill on the


counter and goes to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to

pick one.

The hotel proprietor takes the 100 dollar

bill and runs to pay his

debt to the butcher.


Butcher takes the 100 dollar bill, and runs to pay his debt to

the pig


The pig raiser takes the 100 dollar bill and runs to pay

his debt to

the supplier of his feed and fuel.

The supplier of

feed and fuel takes the 100 dollar bill and runs to

pay his debt to the

town's prostitute that in these hard times, gave her

"services" on


The hooker runs to the hotel and pays off her debt

with the 100

dollar bill to the hotel proprietor to pay for the rooms that

she rented

when she brought her clients there.


hotel proprietor then lays the 100 dollar bill back on the

counter so that

the rich tourist will not suspect anything.

At that

moment, the rich tourist comes down after inspecting the

rooms and takes

his 100 dollar bill, after saying that he did not like

any of the rooms,

and leaves town.

No one earned anything. However, the

whole town is now without debt,

and looks to the future with a lot of


And that, ladies and

gentlemen, is how the United States Government

is doing business


Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Importance of Being Ansa

“Oh, wow! Aren’t those gorgeous irises?”

“Would you like me to take a picture of you beside them?”

“Oh yes, please!”

“Oh honey, I didn’t mean on top of them!”

“Whatever.....is this my best side?”

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I Blink Therefore I Am.

I’m fully electrified again. The generosity and sheer goodwill of people can be astonishing.

Joe, (and his son) who had done the catastrophic work on the electricals for the garage, found a retired electrical inspector in the village (I knew this man but didn’t know of his prior profession) who came over at 10 in the morning and finished off the job at 8 o’clock that night.

It was an awful ‘tangle’, he said to me, one of the worst he’d seen. It would’ve been better if he had rewired everything from scratch as it would have been a nice short day for everyone but where you’re ‘untangling’ it takes forever, each switch, each light, each circuit. He had the patience of Job. A solid man of few words, very upset at what had been ‘done’ to me. I assured him the fellows had the best of intentions, they really thought they knew what they were doing.

At the end of all this I asked him how much I owed him, him being a master electrician ‘n all. He hemmed and hawed, said he’d hate to charge me too much would $20 an hour be OK? OMG. I can’t even imagine what this would have cost in Toronto. I paid him the money, asking him was he really sure? He looked relieved. He said he was afraid it might to be too much.

I tested all the new lights and plugs, I didn’t need to, but he was like the proud father of a newborn. Everything worked beautifully.

Then to top all this off, Joe shows up today wanting to refund ‘all’ the money I paid him or at least paying me back the money I had paid the electrician. I said of course not. He had not wilfully ‘bad-wired’ me and the rest of his work had been superb. He looked as if he could cry.

He’s back next week to build me a ramp for the garage.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Life’s like that, isn’t it though?

A day can be a mix of good, not so good, and sometimes awful.

It is hard to be away from Toronto and have two good friends in not very good shape in hospital. Phonecalls and emails only fill you in on so much of it. Thoughts of them underline my day, every hour a stray thought. How are they? Is he out of the coma?

I’ve been having long overdue work done. A wooden floor has now been put in an empty shell of a new garage abandoned with abundant promises of return ‘in the fall’ in 2007 by my erstwhile handyman. I’ve also had a professional looking 16’ workbench and shelves for the tools installed in same. And hooks for hangy things. I’ve already started an empty tin collection for nails and screws. I’m a great one for the gear around the stuff. Though I must say I’m looking forward to fixing up some chairs and refinishing furniture in my very own workshed. And oh yes, Strawbella is looking forward to her new HQ.

I’d not found another handyman, you see, finding a new anything in this little outport is very difficult, due to village politics and people being related and that kind of thing. I couldn’t offend prior handyman even if he hadn’t shown up for 2 years. Joe, my new one, is a brother of Leo, my factotum. And the matter was handled very delicately indeed, my being privy to such ways on a small island off the coast of Ireland in the summers of my childhood and having a full drenching in village-speak. I should give lessons.

Electrifying said garage has been another story. Ditches were dug for the tubing, lines were strung, and hookups were connected to my impressive looking electrical panel in the house (completed 2 years ago with circuit breakers and ‘enough power to light up the village’ per installer). The panel box reacted most unfavourably to this assault and tripped breakers, shorting out my stereo speakers permanently it looks like. I’m fair lost without my music and my CBC, I am.

An SOS went out for an electrician to sort out the mess. Electricians are very thin on the ground in this neck of the woods. The fellow who replaced my antique system two years ago was only in town briefly on vacation and is now back at his millionaire job in the Yukon. Another local is adverse to any extra work as he likes to spend his day job earnings at night on on-line poker. Another is on the town council and doesn’t want his handiwork exhibited locally because of insurance (?!).

You see the disadvantages of living in a very small community?

But I have faith. I do. Really.

I only have to look at the wee farm out back (I’ve got potatoes, I’ve got onions, I’ve got collards, yeah collards!!!) and then over my shoulder at the ocean and thank Gaia for creating such a paradise and for plopping me in the middle of it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Charts & Graphs

I’m a great one for the charts and graphs. I find them easy to understand, and easier still to ascertain where funds, particularly government funds, are being thrown:

Take this one, a U.S. military spending vs other countries per capita chart:

Astounding, isn’t?

And then you get the health care industry bribery level (a.k.a. 'campaign contributions') in the U.S, which basically insures there will be no reform to universal health care:

Yeah, that's millions and millions.

And then you get the breakdown of cost in US dollars per person of health care in each country of the world and the most expensive is the U.S. – without universal health care! More than twice that of the superb universal health care systems in Canada, France and Sweden!

Rank Countries Amount
# 1 United States: 4,271
# 2 Switzerland: 3,857
# 3 Norway: 3,182
# 4 Denmark: 2,785
# 5 Luxembourg: 2,731
# 6 Iceland: 2,701
# 7 Germany: 2,697
# 8 France: 2,288
# 9 Japan: 2,243
# 10 Netherlands: 2,173
# 11 Sweden: 2,145
# 12 Belgium: 2,137
# 13 Austria: 2,121
# 14 Canada: 1,939
# 15 Australia: 1,714
# 16 Finland: 1,704
# 17 Italy: 1,676
# 18 United Kingdom: 1,675
# 19 Israel: 1,607
# 20 Ireland: 1,569
# 21 United Arab Emirates: 1,428
# 22 New Zealand: 1,163
# 23 Spain: 1,043
# 24 Greece: 965
# 25 Portugal: 859
# 26 Slovenia: 746
# 27 Singapore: 678
# 28 Argentina: 654
# 29 Uruguay: 621
# 30 Bahamas, The: 612
# 31 Barbados: 601
# 32 Korea, South: 470
# 33 Lebanon: 469
# 34 Saint Kitts and Nevis: 408
# 35 Czech Republic: 380
# 36 Bahrain: 358
# 37 Hungary: 318
# 38 Brazil: 308
# 39 Chile: 289
# 40 Slovakia: 285
# 41 Costa Rica: 257
# 42 Poland: 248
# 43 Panama: 246
# 44 Estonia: 243
# 45 Mexico: 236
# 46 South Africa: 230
# 47 Colombia: 227
# 48 Dominica: 208
# 49 Trinidad and Tobago: 204
# 50 Grenada: 193

{Source: World Bank}

Makes it all easier to understand, doesn't it?

Now, where's the outrage from the huddled, sick and bankrupt masses?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Solstice Blog Jam

It’s Solstice. Always a bittersweet time for me. I love the long evenings, here the sky is bright till 10.30 and the sunsets spectacular, often painting the sky in oxblood. But I’m also aware that now we are at the top of the roller coaster plunging slowly downwards to shorter days, longer nights. Solstice. I want to race around the trees, dance naked in the moonlight, wake the birds from their slumber. As I did once upon a time.

I’m down with another one of those colds that seem to plague me after each trip out of here. I had a brief layover in Toronto between flights and I seem to have picked it up there. Naturally the dreaded “Swine Flu, ZOMG!” flits through my brain like so many bats in a belfry until I am brought down to earth by the thoughts of those who would give anything to have my symptoms. One dear friend in Ontario on life support due to respiratory failure and another who had his leg amputated from diabetes last year now facing the amputation of his other leg. He’s still smoking, of course. And a dear friend here in Newfoundland who had unexpected major surgery when she was on vacation out west and is still recovering and will be for a while.

Perspective. I drag it forcibly into the belfry and start shooting it at the bats.

I still have files to clear up, columns to write, stories to edit, the to do list is long. How silly it would all look if I was taken seriously ill suddenly. How meaningless. And no, I’m not depressed today, just reflective. I plan to meet with some friends in the afternoon, walk the dog, have dinner in an inn that has become a favourite and finish reading my latest book, a whopping 500 packed pages.

I marvel at the service still provided to me by a computer technician from Toronto who handled my IT dilemmas there. I called him yesterday due to Vista spooler problems. I could not print. On either of my printers. I had tried everything, web solutions, re-installs, updated drivers, etc. Saturday evening, hopeless, right? Daniel called me back within an hour and sorted it all out on the phone with me. It took 30 minutes.

How much do I owe you? I asked, willing to pay just about anything as I wept with relief. Oh, $30, he said, it only took half an hour.

Yes, these magical people walk among us, restoring our faith in the generosity of the human spirit.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

One of these Days

{where the cabin will sit, if and when I get around to it!}

1. I’ll not procrastinate and then when even a small little glitch occurs in my life it won’t be cataclysmic in its domino effects.

2. I’ll actually be able to enjoy the opening up of a day when simply everything planned doesn’t happen for one reason or another.

3. I’ll actually buy the daffodil bulbs and plant them all over the little hill by the sea.

4. I’ll go to look at some small cabins and order one and get it installed way up high amongst the trees on the hill at the back of my house so I have somewhere just to meditate, dream, design without phones or computers distracting me.

5. I will actually say: How exciting, I have literally nothing to do!

6. I will sit down and take a week and edit my short story collection.

7. I will utilize a wonderful prepaid gift my daughter gave me of a service creating a book of my pictures and poems.

8. I will welcome drop in visitors and not get edgy because of (1).

9. I will have all ingredients on hand to cook a spontaneous large dinner and get on the phone and invite people over that day, last minute, like a few of my much admired friends do.

10. I will actually show up at the old folks’ home near me and say: Hey, I’d like to volunteer, anyone need some reading to?

11. I will clean a room every day, tidy up as I go, clean the bathroom after use and not be cringing when drop-ins wish to use it.

12. I will do something with my stash of wools and the plans I have to recycle old aran sweaters into awesome bags.

13. I will decide that enough is enough. More is only more. Simplicity of possessions and desires makes for serenity and like, um, discipline and routine makes for good orderly direction.

One of these days I won't behave as if I've got 200 years to live.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Safe and Sound.

(Picture is taken from a boat on the Seine last week.)

It seems like forever since I’ve been here, and I’ve missed reading my blog-buds’ posts which I will get caught up on over the next few days.

First up: Dublin

My time there was awesome, met with all I had planned to meet (with one regrettable exception) and the weather was totally accommodating. I completed the Dublin Women's Marathon and was duly medalled. My family came up from Cork to spend a couple of days sans spouses (thanks, in-laws!) so that the four (the other two are far flung at opposite ends of the earth) of us who got together felt like kids again and celebrated at midnight by taking a horse and buggy through the streets of Dublin, clip-clop, clip-clop resounding off the cobblestones and buildings as we tipped our virtual hats to the ghosts of all the more famous and patriotic who had gone before us on similar conveyances.

I don’t think we ever stopped laughing. We’ve planned a major re-union in 2011, back on the land of our mother’s ancestors on the Beara Peninsula. Guess who’s in charge of the newsletter and the T-shirts?

Dublin is a little more humbled, a little more down-to-earth and I found it refreshing. A combination of the demise of the Celtic Tiger, government corruption and the Ryan Report. Reality checks are filtering through but people are optimistic and actually looking forward to a saner time more in keeping with old values. Both of the brothers are planting, one has even gone so far as to acquire a flock of sheep (he’s an accountant, like me!) and we discussed cows and chicken coops to our heart’s content. My sister was seeking advice on tilling her urban garden and starting her self-sustaining lifestyle. We were all on the same page, as the saying goes.

One of the many highlights was a niece, sending a 3D picture of her unborn child to my brother’s mobile as we were having lunch, with the caption: “Hello, Grandad!” It will be his first and it was an emotional moment for all of us but more so for him seeing the little face and hands. Isn’t modern technology a marvel, we all said.

A major change for me since last time was the accessibility and sophistication of public transportation. I seriously think Dublin has to be on the cutting age of transit between Dart, Luas and Aircoach which brought some of my friends up from Cork in a matter of hours. My family chose the train and Luas as their methodology. When the oil crisis hits, Dublin will be just grand, thank you very much. Other cities take note.

There is so much more to write about but for now I’ll end this first episode. I’m delighted to be home back on my little corner of my little universe. It took me a solid 24 hours of travel to get back here from Paris. 24 Hours! But I napped so much on route that jet lag was deleted completely.

So what have you all been up to while my back was turned?