China to Overtake US Economy

China to Overtake US EconomicallyThat’s a recent headline on Fox News.  Yeah, Fox News so you know it has to be pretty serious when even they agree with the IMF predictions that China will overtake the US economy by 2016.   I thought the article was right but deep inside me I didn’t want to believe it.

I still believe in the American spirit of striving to be the best…  at least I did until I read a comment I received on my cooking blog today.  I had written a post many months ago about the best onion ring recipe in the world and I received this comment:

No one said math was going to be involved.  Here in the USA we use Fahrenheit.

Recipe looks fine but converting the oil temp will stop me in my tracks.  🙂

Seriously?  She can’t figure out how to convert a temperature?  People around the world who use Internet/blog recipes from the USA have to convert from Fahrenheit every day of the year and none of us finds it that difficult.

If this were the first comment like this I’d say it’s a once-off and not to worry but sadly it’s not.  Which brings me back to the original subject.  Have Americans lost their competitive spirit?  Maybe Romney was right about the 47% and too many people find competing all too hard?  The tertiary education in the US is widely regarded as being the best in the world so there are some pretty cluey people coming out of American universities but there seems to be a real split between those and the ones who can’t figure out how to convert a temperature.

Personally, I find it quite stressing.  This is where my children and grandchildren live and it’s not the same sort of place I grew up in.  Yeah, we were taught from kindergarten that the US was the best in the world and had everything and we didn’t need to ever leave the states to find anything better.  It didn’t exist, my 5th grade teacher said.  Mind you, she also said that Castro was a hero to the Cuban people and then had to turn around and say he was a bad Communist.

The US needs to control its debt, stop spending trillions fighting wars they can’t win and be a good global citizen who doesn’t go around telling other countries what they should do.  It doesn’t seem like such a monumental problem but there are so many special interest groups who must be listened to, it might be impossible to achieve a solution.


The In-laws Are Coming!

the oldsOkay, you’ve seen my photo and you know I’m older than dirt because I told you so.  Well, imagine ME having the in-laws coming to visit for two weeks for Chrismas.  Most people my age don’t have in-laws any more.  I found out today that they’re arriving on the 17th.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like my husband’s parents.  They are over 90 and are still living independently and get around better than I do if I admitted the truth.  Their social calendar is dwindling a bit since most of their contemporaries have passed on but they still go to the golf club for dinner a couple of times a week, attend functions in Melbourne for former university lecturers where they gab about holograms, still participate in charity work and clubs and they have a 5 acre garden that until recently they cared for by themselves.

These are NOT old people waiting to die.  My mother-in-law is the sexiest old woman I’ve ever met.  She will flirt with any man and I doubt she realises she’s doing it.

They are delightful people.  A few years ago we took them to Europe with us for nearly a month.  They have relatives in Scotland and they wanted to attend their grandson’s university graduation, plus they wanted to see Salzburg and Rome and Paris…  oh and London and Glasgow too.  They were in their very late 80s then and I was a bit worried about how they’d cope with all the walking around.

Remember what I said about them doing all their own gardening?  They had more energy than either John or I.  If I said, “would you like to have a rest for a few hours?” the answer was always no, they were ready to see something new.

The only problem we ever had and it wasn’t a real problem was that my father-in-law thought he should help to move the suitcases off the trains.  If you’ve been on European trains before you’d know you have about 90 seconds to get off (or on) a train.  No time for a 90 year old to fiddle with a suitcase.  “Dad, move out of the way, the suitcase will land on you,” John yelled once as he was tossing the bags to the platform.

I got on the next train and J’s dad said, “I don’t like it when John gets angry with me,” and I felt really bad for him.  John did apologise and explained (again) why we had to hurry and that he wasn’t angry.  His dad understood but didn’t appreciate hearing that he was nearly 90 and catching a 32 kilo suitcase being tossed from a train was not a good thing for him to be doing.

It was like taking children with you on holiday but you couldn’t spank them.

It was a wonderful holiday and I have memories I will treasure for a lifetime.  They live in country Victoria and the Victorian siblings think it’s time that “the olds” as we all fondly call them should move to a smaller place and one near public transport.  90 year olds with arthritis shouldn’t be driving.  Neither was a great driver when they were young but now we all worry.

The reason for the trip is for my husband, the baby of the family, to convince them that living up here on the Sunshine Coast is a good idea.  Whenever they visit I wait on them hand and foot and spend time entertaining them every day but I’ve never had them for 2 weeks straight.  Because I’ve spoiled them in the past with fancy breakfasts, lunches and dinners, they are going to expect the same and I don’t have the time I had before.

I’ve warned John that these are HIS parents and he’s going to have to help me get the house ready.  He decided we could afford to get some help to do that.  :eyeroll:  He hates housework more than I do.

Have you had to talk parents into assisted living situations?  We are not looking forward to it.  J’s brother, sister and sister-in-law are considered bullies by the olds for bringing up the idea of moving.  They aren’t ready but they live in the middle of nowhere and have no family close by.  We’ll have to be very gentle indeed.  Wish me luck.

We Should Pay for Online News

We should pay for online newsI know this subject isn’t going to be popular with some people but I’m convinced that with the number of small laptops, smart phones and tablets, the days of carrying a newspaper neatly tucked under our arms are nearly over.  I was having coffee with a friend the other day – a much much younger friend, I might add.

During our conversation I mentioned that I’d seen something in our local paper, the Sunshine Coast Daily that day and began talking about the article.

“You still read paper newspapers?” she asked.

“Don’t you?” I replied.

She shook her head and said, “It’s old news by the time it gets to me.”

Ever since CNN began 24/7 news coverage, the writing has been on the wall about print newspapers.  Is there a newspaper without an online presence?  I doubt it.  Their sales of advertising and newspaper copies reduces every year so how can we expect decent news if we’re not willing to pay for it.

Their writers won’t work for nothing, nor will their photographers, editors, or type setters/designers.  I asked my friend Cindy if she’d be willing to pay to read her local paper online or one of the major big city newspapers and she said absolutely not.  “Let them get their money from advertising,” she told me.

I knew I had a steep hill to climb on this issue but I persevered.

“Do you see many ads on the Internet newspapers you read?” I queried.

She thought for a moment and said she wasn’t even sure that they had any, so I asked her to look.  Sure enough there were ads all over it and she had no clue.

“If you are so numb to those ads, how much money do you suppose they’re making off people just like you?  If nobody is clicking and buying, they aren’t making much money off advertising.  Advertisers pay for results.”

After a bit of brow wrinkling and twitching in her seat she mumbled something about making better ads that she would notice.  I could tell by the volume and tone of her voice that even she didn’t believe what she was saying.

The bottom line is, do we want quality news about what’s going on in our community and around the country and the world?  If we’re satisfied with getting national snippets from inferior journalists, then the price we’re paying for online newspapers is just fine but it’s not good enough for me.  I’m not going to be satisfied with content that’s only gleaned from sources in another location or content provided by sponsors.  Sure, we all know that sponsored content happens even now but do we want nothing but sponsored articles?  Not me.

I want to know there are people with cameras and notebooks actively getting a good story.  For me, news isn’t about branded content.  That’s not news for me – it’s fluff, cash for comment sort of thing.  I acknowledge that newspapers both print and online need to have some of that just to pay the bills these days but come on, surely news is important enough to fork over a few dollars a month to pay for it.  It will make a huge difference to what we’ll be getting.

Sure, we can get our news off Twitter or Facebook but I’d prefer it from a local newspaper I trust.  I want to pick up my tablet and read the news while I’m getting my hair done or waiting to get a tyre changed or waiting for the dentist or doctor.  If we all contribute a little, we’ll get a better product.  Good writers are worth reading.

The Best of Intentions

spelling, or lack of itWe’re working on a new food website project and in order to create a searchable index of ingredients, my husband the programmer must parse recipes which will be included in the search.  You would be amazed at how many spelling errors there are in recipes on blogs.

I know there will be some who honestly don’t know any better but I believe the vast majority either have no clue that it’s important or are lazy.  Either way, routinely bad spelling or grammar will reduce a website’s reach.  With so many good blogs out there, why would you read a blog you have to struggle to understand?

My favourite from today is 3 bacon rashes.  or 2 tabelspons week tea.  or all purpoise flower.  Spelling like this makes creating a good search extremely difficult.  Yes, we crack up at some of the funny ones.  I thought I’d write a blog post on my food blog about it so that food bloggers would realise that even after a new post has been created, there are people still going to the older posts.  They’re found on Google or Yahoo! or other search engines, links from blogs or from social media.

If we want people to take us seriously, we need to be able to follow the recipe without scratching our heads.

Anyway…  I ended up really pissing off a woman I like who’s a non-native English speaker.  For some reason she felt that I was attacking people who try to write an English blog when it’s not their native language.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  The truth is, it’s the English speakers who are too lazy to proofread their blogs.

Honestly, if someone reads their recipe and doesn’t catch glaring errors, I can’t take their blog seriously.  That said, we ALL make typos and we all miss things.  If you miss something 3 times proofreading, you’re never going to find it.

I felt really bad that I hurt my friend’s feelings and I regret making the post even though I got a huge amount of comments on the post from people who feel the same way I do. I’m not an unkind person and would not have posted my views if I thought it would cause discomfort.  I have apologised and hopefully our virtual friendship can continue.  If not, it’s my loss.

Have you ever written something that someone thought you were picking on them about?

We’re all responsible for the words we write.  We aren’t responsible for how someone else’s perspective views them.