Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Stuff: How Much Do You Really Need?

If faced with an impending cataclysmic event like a fire, hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, landslide, etc, that was going to wipe away your home, your accumulated possessions, what would you take with you, if you only had a handful of minutes to pack?

In the Australian bushfire catastrophe it seemed like the first things many folk thought of, after the people around them, was their pets and the family photo albums.

What's Important?

We work long hours and long years so we can afford ‘stuff.’ Stuff that uses up a world’s worth of materials, energy, land, water and creates enormous waste. But when the chips are down, and the brown whatsit is hitting the spinning thing, what is it that we really cling to as being important? It doesn’t appear to be the plasma television or coffee maker that spring to the frontal lobes. It is those things that connect us to one another. MasterCard had it right when it advertised that there are some things that money can’t buy. The ‘priceless’ in our lives.

And it is this that we gather to our bosom when loss is imminent. The irreplaceable. The photos of little Johnny or Janey playing in the packing box of the TV are worth so much more than the appliance itself.

It can be an enlightening exercise to list, say, only 10 things you would want with you, were you never to see your domicile again.

Your Money or Your Life

This sort of evaluating and prioritising is part and parcel of the book, Your Money or Your Life. A seminal publication, first published in 1992, but based on experiences road tested by Joe Dominguez as far back as 1969.

One of the exercises in the book is to “Go through every room of your house and inventory everything.” The authors say, don’t let embarrassment or guilt discourage you. Because as they point out, you simply come away with gratitude for the things you do own. A revelation, which may assuage that otherwise nagging need for yet more stuff. “So much dissatisfaction comes from focussing on what we don’t have that the simple exercise of acknowledging and valuing what we do have can transform our outlook.”

As the environmental educator Steve van Matre saw it, "The key to a good life is not having what you want, but wanting what you have."

Living with less (or not desiring more) can be the route to a simpler and happier life. And it sure makes it easier to decide what to take with you, when the carpet is suddenly pulled from beneath your life as you knew it.

from TreeHugger.com ...read more

Monday, 23 February 2009

Are Gift Cards the New Bottled Water?

You can buy disposable, plastic gift cards at the corner store. Most supermarkets devote an entire end cap to the solicitation of gift cards. The logos and products of various chain stores grace the front of these cards: Starbucks, McDonalds, Target, iTunes, Chili’s, Pizza Hut, etc. You can buy gift cards in dozens of denominations to almost any corporate store.

Now there is a new gift card on the market. It’s made by the credit card companies. A citizen may buy a sixty dollar Visa/MasterCard/Discover/ETC Gift Card and give it to their cousin as a birthday gift. The cousin now has sixty dollars that he can spend like cash. But it’s not cash. It’s a disposable gift card that works like cash but is somehow different than cash. What? This is too stupid to catch on. Oh,really? They’ve already bottled up the water and sold it to us at a premium, proving nothing is too stupid to catch on. They’ll probably start bagging up the air and selling that. And we might buy it...read more.

from TreeHugger.com

Sunday, 22 February 2009

"Kissing Bridges"

Last weekend, while watching the movie "The Bridges of Madison County", I decided to check out websites about covered bridges in North America.

This idea was reinforced this week while coming home from Elmira, Ontario, the centre of Mennonite country north of Kitchener. We bypassed the highway in West Montrose where one of the last covered bridges in Ontario crosses the Grand River. What a great event it was as we waited for a horse and democrat to cross the bridge towards us. We were transformed back to the last century right there on the approach to the bridge.

So my research began with a site called Madison County, Iowa - Home of the Bridges of Madison County that details not only the covered bridges but also the movie.

The next stop was a great site in New Brunswick with a pictuure tour of some of the 66 bridges left standing including the the world's longest (1282 ft built 1901) at Hartsland on the St. John river.

Finally at A Guide to Old Covered Bridges of Southeastern Pennsylvania I found the following explanation of just what covered bridges mean to all of us.

"Covered bridges symbolize small-town North America. Something from the nineteenth century, a little archaic and strange to nineteen-nineties eyes, picturesque and sentimental, "kissing bridges" recall a time when life was simpler and closer to the land -- if only in our dreams. Covered bridges complement autumn leaves and autumn emotions. Photogenic and often remote from the Interstate Highways and cities of the twentieth century, covered bridges lure the explorer to find the little streams and dirt roads that the twentieth century has almost passed by."

I couldn't have said it any better...

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Speaking of Golf

GOLFER: "Think I'm going to drown myself in the lake."
CADDY: "Think you can keep your head down that long?"

GOLFER: "I'd move heaven and earth to break 100 on this course."
CADDY: "Try heaven, you've already moved the earth."

GOLFER: "Do you think my game is improving?"
CADDY: "Yes sir, you miss the ball much closer now."

GOLFER: "Do you think I can get there with a 5 iron?"
CADDY: "Eventually."

GOLFER: "You've got to be the worst caddy in the world."
CADDY: "I don't think so sir. That would be too much of a coincidence."

GOLFER: "Please stop checking your watch all the time. It's too much of a distraction."
CADDY: "It's not a watch it's a compass."

GOLFER: "How do you like my game?"
CADDY: "Very good sir, but personally, I prefer golf."

GOLFER: "Do you think it's a sin to play on Sunday?"
CADDY: "The way you play, sir, it's a sin on any day."

GOLFER: "This is the worst course I've ever played on."
CADDY: "This isn't the golf course. We left that an hour ago."

What's The Difference Between a Bad Golfer And a Bad Skydiver?

A Bad Golfer Goes Whack ... Dang! A Bad Skydiver Goes Dang ... Whack!