Sunday, December 7, 2008

Expect Nothing

Expect nothing.
Live frugally on surprise.

~Alice Walker

Of Note: The current financial situation has hurt the pockets of many folks. These tales can be heartbreaking as unfortunates are turned out of their homes and left with huge medical bills after their plants suddenly close and leave them with no jobs and no health insurance. The bigger story, however, is the psychological impact the downturn is having on the general population--even though we may not have been touched personally. Even though we have had many downturns and recessions since World War II. Even though we have a new political administration which said it will fix everything. This is translating in different ways for different people, and the market is taking notice. Comfortable over-stuffed sofas are coming back, replacing the cardboard-like minimalist versions so popular not too long ago. Card companies are replacing pictures of Christmas trees surrounded by a multitude of colorful packages with more austere shots such as a couple holding hands sauntering down a snowy country lane. Meaningful words and deep colors are in; short catchy phrases and pinks are out. Thrift Shops are full of customers from all walks of life. The international, traveling Millionaire Fair wants for attendees to view its luxury items as the rich pull back from ostentatious exhibits. It might not be a coincidence that the baking company which creates Wonder Bread and Twinkies is just now exiting bankruptcy. Could it be that humanity as a whole is waking up to simplicity as a way of life? If that proved to be true, oh what surprises might be in store for the "astonished onlookers," to quote an old man watching from afar.

Today's Weather Report: Very cloudy morning with temps below zero early on. Our outside wood burner has yet to be fully connected again after being moved in September. So, we've been burning wood in our large fireplace to keep parts of the house warm. Space heaters are taking care of other areas of the house. The wood burner installation dude is set to return next Tuesday. That's good because our patience for his return had run out. We certainly hope he keeps the appointment as the house gets a wee tad colder every day. Marie, who is a lot warmer than we are, took this minimalist shot last week in east Texas where the leaves have now fallen, providing an appropriate background for today's austerity theme.

Watch For Change Snippet: Muslims in India have a hard time of it generally. They have few opportunities in the caste system and are viewed below the "untouchable" Dalit caste. Pogroms have often decimated this population, though at 150 million the group has proved resilient. But a current trend in modern education among the Muslim youth is encouraging. In an article about the recent Mumbai affair, The Wall Street Journal noted: "The desire to learn English is ubiquitous as is the fascination for computers. Even in the disgruntled valleys of Kashmir, a press survey found that the iconic founder of India's most respected software company was a greater hero among Muslim students than the founder of Al Qaeda."

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