Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Last Thursday was "Black Thursday" for Greece. News reports told the world that Greece's budget problems were bigger than people had thought. Traders dumped Greek bonds.Greece's debt is now 'junk'...the rating agencies say that if the country is forced to reschedule creditors could get back only 30% of their money. Naturally, lenders are nervous. And investors fear that Greece's problems are not limited to the Hellenes. Sovereign debt problems are as 'contagious' as HIV. All it takes is a little hanky panky of the wrong sort...and you've got it!
Greece's budget deficit is 8.7% of GDP.
Portugal's deficit is the same.
Spain's is higher - at 10.4%.
Where's the US deficit? Last time we looked it was projected to be as high as 12% of GDP.
By many measures, the US is actually in WORSE shape than Greece. And the rating agencies have already warned about a possible downgrade of US debt too.And by all measures, the US has the biggest pile of debt in the world... Just wait until the sparks hit it. You'll see the world's biggest blow-up!
These dire words brought to you by "The Daily Reckoning" I read today the number of US citizens who have renounced their citizenship and are taking up permanent residence in other countries has more than doubled in 2009 over 2008. Are the rats abandoning the sinking ship? Just asking.
I always got on well with these folks, although I was never sure that I was good enough for them. She was on the top ten picky list for sure. I always thought that one day she would push the wrong button on me and it would be over between them and me. It happened in this house. She called me in to do touch ups in her stairwell. Just a bit here and there, and it would be fine. I warned her that the paint had to be from the same can as what the original job was from, or the touch ups would show. She assured me the half empty five gallon pail that she brought up from the basement was the right paint and just go ahead and do it. It was an hour of work, hardly worth driving out for but she had agreed to my fee. As the paint dried, it became obvious that it was a slightly different colour. Needless to say, she was displeased. Her perfect walls were ruined and now I had to get some new, fresh paint and redo the whole entry which had a curved staircase and was not easy to get at. I drove back to town, purchased the paint, brought some scaffolding, and fixed the problem properly. It looked like new, but now my bill was $300.00 instead of $50.00.
She flipped out and would only pay me the $50.00. I did not argue with her, but did try to be reasonable and persuasive. Just then her husband came in the door. His wife was in hysterics and I could see by his reaction that his thoughts were "Oh no, not again." Much to my relief, he grasped the situation immediately and took my side, as he was a man of logic and reason. He finally got firm with his wife and told her to "just pay the man!"
Amidst dirty looks and much muttering, she wrote the cheque and tossed it my way. I thanked her and left.
I have not seen either of them for a few years now, but neither have I had a call asking for my services. It is just as well.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
We have a similar situation unfolding in Ottawa at this minute only it involves something much more serious than football. War. There is a ruling now in the House that the government has to turn over all secret documents to the sitting opposition because they have a right to know. They must have freedom of information. How this came about is the result of political game playing around the allegations that Canadian Forces in Afghanistan turned over prisoners to the Afghani Army and these prisoners were tortured. Torture in warfare, in a Muslim nation? Who'da thunk it? If all the secret documents surrounding Canada's security are released, there goes our National Security and there goes our game plan in Afghanistan and there go some more lives of our boys manning the stations over there.
So now the political parties in Ottawa have two weeks to come up with a solution, whereby National Security can be maintained, while at the same time, all the information a person wants will be provided. No doubt the solution will be that all MP's who read these documents will be sworn to secrecy. If that is indeed what will happen, what was the point of it all. This sensitive material that the Liberals want so they can embarrass the Conservatives, will not be allowed to go public because of the secrecy that was sworn. It is like the preacher who played hooky on Sunday morning and went to play golf instead of preach. He got a hole-in-one, but then had a real dilemma. Who was he going to tell?
A flood due to a leaky roof was the source of one my contracts here and I had to strip some very beautiful and expensive fabric wall coverings that I had recently hung. Another unique thing about this couple is that they own a vacation home, in St. Martin, The Bahamas. I have hinted and hinted ..... but to no avail. I have also done a tremendous amount of work for their son, who was still living at home and going to school when I first met this family but now has a home and family of his own. That makes me feel my age.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
When I first met her, she still had a husband and three teen aged sons. She began her makeover in her master suite. In the following years, she renovated and renewed the old house until it sparkled and shone and looked like a million dollars. There are so many stories I could tell about her and her house, but I will restrain myself. While I was working there after the renovations were well under way, she found her husbands credit card statement and was puzzled over the trip to Paris and the fur coats. She had not been to Paris, neither did she own a fur coat. She dug further and to make a long story short, she got a divorce. Her husband was in the leaky condo fix up business so needless to say he was wealthy. She got the house and continued to spend money on it. At one point she was without a kitchen for six months because each time her new cabinets were installed, they were either the wrong colour or the wrong style. (Different from what she had ordered) Her boys had BBQ'ed hot dogs beside the pool for six months.
She was very particular about how things were done and when she found that I could meet her standards, she started referring me to her decorating clients. We have had a very good working relationship for many years now. I meet her every so often at the hospital when I am there visiting a new baby in the family or dealing with an aging father. She always has time to chat and invariably the chatter goes to the health care system. She has been in it for all her working life and has some interesting observations and ideas on how to make it better. But, as all people who do the day to day stuff and know how to improve things, she is not listened to. She is putting in time now and no longer cares and just wants out in order to get her pension and get on with her design business.
She has built two houses since then and I have worked extensively in each one. She is one of the many sources of work I have had over the years.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
The setting of this house is ideal. The long driveway is off of a very quiet cul-de-sac and behind is a green ravine and forest. Only one neighbour is visible through a grove of Maple trees. In the front of the house, the sunny side, is a beautiful swimming pool. The back has a huge deck for entertaining, and a large grassy area for the kids. What a great house, and what great people.
I also painted for Mary's brothers, her mom and dad's house when it was newly constructed, and Bob's brother's house. All in the family, you know.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
We were in no hurry, so a little detour off the beaten track revealed this old cabin on a rocky ledge off in the distance. Telephoto lenses do not respect "NO TRESPASSING" signs.
Oroville has its own Golf Course in the middle of the rocky desert. The contrasts are more stunning in the hot and dry summer months.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Now, just a year later, someone saw the potential and has fixed it up, at least on the outside. I would be afraid to walk in the front door lest the ugly, wobbly stair rail is still there, not to mention the dog smells and the Chinese wallpaper.