Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Special Library in England

This might just be the smallest library in the world. The phone booth was purchased for 1 pound and reopened as a community book exchange in Westbury. There are over 100 books plus movies and music CDs in the little library.

The white notice says the following "This is a unique and well used facility but to operate efficiently, an exchange of books is essential. If you take a book, please leave one in its place for the continuing success of the book exchange and the enjoyment of all its users. Thank You."

It reminds me of tourist fales in Samoa and backpackers in different parts of the world where there is a bookshelf for travellers to leave a book they finish reading and swap it for one left by a previous traveller. If e-readers take over there won't be a need to exchange bag and beach battered books. That would be a shame because it's interesting to see what other travellers have been reading.

Image by David Hillas

Monday, August 15, 2011

Snowing? In Te Awamutu? Really?

In a rare occurence today we had several flurries of snow in Te Awamutu. It didn't last long but the white stuff falling gently from the sky and swirling in the wind did look pretty for a few minutes. Nobody is talking about global warming in New Zealand today. Instead many areas of the North Island are experiencing the novelty of snow.

I was excited to see the white stuff this morning and rushed to the phone to urge my Mum to look out the window before it stopped. She talked about sleet but I'm sure there were genuine snowflakes landing on the glass. Later on there was a lovely flurry with snowflakes like white polka dots decorating the deck chairs. My sister phoned from the Kapiti Coast to share her delight about snow falling there.

The South Islanders are probably scoffing at the North Islanders as we get all excited over an itty bitty amount of snow. They are blanketed in snow for the second time this winter and of course the Southern Alps are majestic white mountains every winter. But it is so unusual to have snow in northern, low altitude areas of the country that we are enjoying the unique experience.

The woman recording the video below captured the rare event and her commentary says it all really.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Still Squashing After All These Years

It can be a bit tough sitting at the computer for hours at a time while I'm studying. It's not a lifestyle I'm used to and I know I couldn't tolerate a desk job 8 hours a day 5 days a week. But at least I get a break from studying several days a week with a game of squash. I don't play competitively any more but I've got some regular social games that I thoroughly enjoy. I've had the odd squash injury and have a niggling lower back problem. Fortunately it rarely bothers me on the squash court. Once I sprained my ankle exactly a year to the day that I had sprained it previously. However I have never had an accident on the squash court like the one in the video below. Maybe it's just as well my club doesn't have glass backed courts!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Economic News Baffles Me

There is plenty of information about the world economy in the media but not much in the way of explaining how it all works. At least not in a way that I can understand it. I saw an article in the New Zealand Herald by columnist Garth George who asked the questions that I've been wondering, such as where does all that borrowed money come from? He doesn't give any answers but his article and some of the comments were interesting to read.

An excerpt from his article is below or click on the title to view the full article.

Debt Madness Demands An Explanation

What I would very much like is to have someone explain to those of us who are fiscal ignoramuses what these incomprehensible figures mean.

For instance, where does all this unbelievable amount of borrowed money come from and why do governments allow themselves to get into such a situation?

How come the US$5 trillion surplus that Democrat Bill Clinton bequeathed to the US in 2001 has in a decade, most of it under Republican George W Bush, been turned into a $15 trillion deficit? How does the US Government manage to pay the interest, let alone any principal? What is the money spent on? What are the chances of such a debt ever being repaid and, if so, with what?

What happens if a major creditor suddenly calls in loans? What is the security offered on such loans?

Where does the IMF get the money to lend to nearly bankrupt nations? Is that also borrowed and if so where from? If all the borrowed money was repaid today, where would it end up?