31 December 2009

Well, it does seem trivial now that you mention it.

It's not often you get a lesson in perspective from the business manager at a car dealership. Earlier this week, as we were driving to the dealership to finalize the purchase of the car we'd been leasing, the car was struck by a large piece of ice that had flown up from another vehicle on the highway. It was kind of scary and it made a loud noise when it hit, so we were worried that there was damage to the roof. Luc is very particular about the condition of the car so we were both relieved to find that the ice had struck the roof rack and there was no damage.

We spent a bit of time in the business manager's office while waiting for the paperwork to be completed. We went from discussing our respective Christmas's to learning about Ethiopian Christmas traditions to hearing about his experiences as a central banker in Ethiopia overseeing NGO activities, to his ultimate deportation to Eritrea when conflict broke out in 1998 for the crime of writing a report opposing foreign aid. He told us how he found himself in Eritrea, his father's homeland, with $20 in his pocket and the clothes on his back. He'd been forced to leave behind his house and all his belongings never to return.

When the talk returned to the business at hand, Luc mentioned the ice incident and how relieved we'd been that there'd been no damage. The business manager shrugged and said, "Meh. You can always fix man-made things". I thought to myself that this was not quite the response I would have expected at a car dealership, surrounded by perfect, shiny cars, but I didn't expect to be doing business there with an Ethiopian economist who'd lost everything and knew exactly how unimportant a scratch or dent actually is.

22 December 2009

By popular request.....the annual Christmas rant

I've been told by Madeleine that I must not abandon my traditional Christmas rant. I guess if you do something two years in a row it is a tradition. I didn't want to do one this year as I haven't been thinking about Christmas much, and it didn't seem particularly relevant to my life. I seem to have managed expectations well enough over the last couple of years so that I'm free to ignore Christmas much more this year.

Normally, I'd rail on about excessive consumption or teaching children a sense of entitlement, but I'm not really in a position to judge others given my own glass house. I might say something about the end of industrial civilization, but since Copenhagen, I think Christmas is the least of our worries.

So, I hope you enjoy your time off work and any meaning you may find in the season. Please don't steal too much from your grandchildren to provide for Christmas stuff this year. And by the way, your dog doesn't appreciate being decorated.

21 December 2009

Treehenge (stonehedge?) winter solstice sunrise

Meg and I watched the sun come up today through a gap in the trees. I'd been noticing for a while that the sun seemed to be rising closer and closer to this spot so I went out this morning and waited. Sure enough, I was rewarded with this view of the sun rising at its most southerly point of the year.

I feel such a relief on the shortest day. It doesn't get any darker than this. There are months of cold and snow ahead, but the days will get longer and the sun will rise higher in the sky. Welcome back, sun!

13 December 2009

Of chickens and carrots in the snow

I dropped in on the chickens this afternoon to give them some scratch and collect eggs (aren't they supposed to stop laying in the winter?). They were curious about the snow, which we've only had since Wednesday, but they refused to set foot outside the coop. They like to eat snow, but they don't like to walk in it.

I went to the garden to see if my carrots were still ok, and I'm happy to report they're fine. The soil was beautifully loose under the straw bale, and picking some carrots for dinner was hardly any more trouble than in August.

02 December 2009

The Story of Cap and Trade: this isn't going to end well...

Well, we all knew that there would be no action on climate change until the rich figured out how to get richer out of it. It seems they have now, so everything should be fine, right? Well, it looks like they might just be able to suck a few more dollars out of the world without actually making anything better at all. Watch The Story of Cap and Trade for some protection against the spin that will be coming your way soon.


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