Monday, April 26, 2004

Country Living is not all fun you know .... 

The Ann Arbor News [Extract]

Spring has arrived, bringing mud with it, thawing of Livingstone County's 680 miles of gravel roads means a muddy mess

Like the sight of the first robin or a young man's fancy turning to love, a sure sign of spring in the country is the thawing of gravel roads.

The mud can sink a vehicle up to its wheel axles; the potholes and ruts can wear bearings and knock front ends out of alignment. And the April showers that bring May flowers have Mike Craine, Livingston County Road Commission managing director, saying tongue-in-cheek that conditions right now are "exquisite."

"This is country living," he said. "A lot of people still are not aware that country roads are like this every spring."

[ Full Article from Ann Arbor News ]

© James Walsh,2003-2004


Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Country life, climate and the weather ... 

I've mentioned it previously, but one of the things that I find quite different about living in the country versus living in the city is the impact of the weather has on our daily lives. When I lived in the city, the weather was more an incidental part of our existence. Of course a beautiful sunny day would be appreciated, but it usually didn't impact on our daily life greatly as we busily scurried about our daily routine of getting to the office, fighting with the traffic, etc; Conversely of course, when the day was windy or rainy, it had minimal impact on our lives, it was more an minor irritant than anything else.

Since we have moved to the country, I find that we now listen ever more closely to the weather forecast, and often plan our day accordingly. In Ireland, the weather is always mild but always changeable. When the weather is good we are in a glorious paradise here, and when the weather is bad we tend to find a nice cosy spot and stay indoors. For example if it is going to be a sunny, warm day we will schedule the days activities around outdoor pursuits and leisure activities such as walking on the shore etc; or gardening etc; We will spend time in the sun room and in the rooms of the house that benefit from sea views. However, if the day is going to be wet and windy for example we will plan our days activities to minimize our need to be out in the elements, and will spend most of the time in the more cosy living room at the back of the house.

Our new found fascination with all things meteorological takes me back to the days of my childhood in the country, when my ancient grandfather would demand a hushed silence when the radio announcer would read out the weather. I remember the gilded phrases in dulcit mid-atlantic tones of "anticyclones", "rising slowly", and "isobars", the ticking of the old clock in the living room .... doesn't history repeat itself !!

© James Walsh,2003-2004


Thursday, April 01, 2004

April Fool pension joke falls flat (Reuters) 

I had a little chuckle when I read this on Yahoo News ... Happy April Fools Day !

"TOKYO (Reuters) - How's this for a government pension scheme: In lieu of payments, give eligible recipients five lottery tickets a year and a chance to win millions.

A Japanese daily playfully reported on Thursday, April Fool's Day, that Japan's government was considering handing out lottery tickets to make up for future cuts in payments from the ailing public pension system.

"The aim is to suppress the public's discontent by giving them a dream that they may win millions," the Tokyo Shimbun said in the article, one of four joke stories it printed for the April 1 edition.

Some readers, however, aren't laughing.

"I don't want to see a joke that may not be so much of a joke," said a woman in her twenties, one of many young Japanese who already feel like paying into the ailing system is indeed akin to gambling.

More and more Japanese, especially the young, widely believe that they are unlikely to get much out of the pension system even though they may have to shoulder a bigger burden in payments than their ageing parents did.

By 2025, Japan is expected to have one person over 65 for every two of working age, the highest ratio among industrial countries."

© James Walsh,2003-2004


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