£65 million for a piece of bronze? Craziness.

I’m watching the BBC ten o’clock news. I’ve just watched a piece about the sculpture which has created a new world record for the most expensive item of artwork to be sold by auction. £65 million (£58 million plus Sotheby’s fees) is ridiculous. How many mosquito nets would that buy to help prevent malaria spreading mosquitos in Africa? How many water filtration systems could that provide for third world countries? How many people could this sum of money help to start their own businesses and become less reliant on charity?

I know I’m probably in a minority, but I strongly feel that spending this amount of money on some static, unresponsive lump of metal is immoral. A huge fuss was made when the UK wide amount of money raised to send aid to Haiti reached £35 million, and that’s only half what someone has splashed out on something that will probably sit in a bank vault, or heavily guarded display case.

This is an excellent example of the huge divide between the richest and poorest in this world. According to Oxfam Unwrapped, this sum of money could pay to build 38235 classrooms or 151515 libraries, train 1,300,000 farmers, buy 812,500 cows or provide clean water for upwards of 72 million people. Hmmm, cold bronze statue/clean water for an entire country. Such a hard choice.

Random things (you’ve got to love it when I run out of ideas!)

Ten days left of my January NaBloPoMo. And nothing interesting happening in Jennieworld. I’m over tired from rushing round after a group of five and six year olds yesterday at Techniquest  in Cardiff Bay. Cheeky’s yeargroup had a school trip and I volunteered to be a parent helper. What. Was. I. Thinking? I suppose it wasn’t that bad. The problem was that I’m just not used to kids that are like little Houdinis. I’ve put the fear of God into my two from a very young age and so they don’t stray far from my side without express permission. The six children entrusted to my care yesterday hadn’t had that, and so scattered around the museum the moment we got through the door. I spent the morning feeling slightly panicky, trying to marshall them all into looking at the same exhibit at the same time (futile. Extremely futile. And foolish. Not to be repeated in a museum aimed at children with hands on exhibits). In the afternoon I was a little more accustomed to them, and so let them dash from place to place. I, meanwhile, walked continuously round the museum (it’s open plan, so the theory is that you can see the children all the time. This is not the case.) counting the children in my group, repeating their names like a mantra each time I saw them. Of course, they all needed toilet stops every time I turned round, and of course, one of my group managed to lock themselves in the toilet cubicle. Thankfully, he managed to unlock the door before the member of staff could return with the screwdriver; I was very glad as I had visions of being sacked from my voluntary parent helper role before I’d had a chance to get started!

The children were all asked what their favourite bit of the day was. My favourite bit was definitely the moment I did a last head count once we were back in the school playground and I was relieved to find that all of my group were back safely! I’m sure though that actually teaching wouldn’t be so stressful, I just saw the group when they were at their most excited and hyperactive! I honestly don’t think they could have been more energetic and lively if I’d fed them all pure sucrose all the way to the museum on the coach!

In other news, I’d like to mention an appeal that I heard mentioned on the radio the other day. Marie Curie Cancer Care are looking for volunteers to give an hour to collect money and sell daffodil pins for their annual appeal in March. This is a great opportunity for those of us who are richer in time than money and who would like to help out. Marie Curie Cancer Care provide nurses to care for terminally ill cancer patients in their own homes, and I think they do a wonderful job. So, if you’re in the UK and have an hour to spare in March, click on the link above and register. They have set themselves a target of 20,000 hours and so far have 2051 hours promised. I’ve just volunteered. Will you join me?

Do you know, that between going on a school trip and going to the Pantomime last night, I didn’t knit a stitch yesterday?! I think I’m having withdrawal symptoms and will have to make up for it today! I’m working on the collar of my jumper now, so I’m hoping that the last few inches won’t take too long. I’m itching to move on to the next project (or more truthfully, finish the one I started when I got bored in the middle of my jumper!).

Also, I’m in the process of updating my blogroll. If you can see any obvious ones I’ve missed out, please let me know.

A good day (despite the depressing weather!)

Today was a good day. I generally like Tuesdays anyway as I get to spend most of the day with my Mum and Dad, something which I value a lot after living away from them for the better part of ten years.

We did the weekly food shopping and we made our donations to the Haiti disaster relief appeal. Then we spent a quiet afternoon in the house and I worked on my jumper. After fetching the children from school, I managed to finish the second sleeve and start sewing the pieces together in preparation to knit the collar – I’m nearly done! It will only be the second jumper I’ve made myself, so I’m excited to have it finished as soon as possible!

I always go to my Google blog reader first when I go online, and I was happy to read Ysolda’s post about how she decided to donate a percentage of the sales of her patterns for this month to the charity, Medecins Sans Frontiers to help with their Haitian appeal. Initally she was donating 50%, but due to the overwhelming response of knitters to her generosity, she has sold more than she ever imagined and has been able to raise the percentage to a whopping 80%! She has already been able to donate more than £3700 to the appeal, which, as she pointed out, is far more than she would have been able to donate on her own. So, I’ve just bought the Ishbel shawl pattern  now, as it’s one I’ve been eyeing up for a while! Ravelry have a list of patterns whose designers are donating some of the proceeds of the sales to Haiti, and apparently some people have been buying the patterns as gifts for knitting and crocheting friends (not that I’m hinting!!).

And now I’m off to work a little more on my jumper before I head to bed. Goodnight!

Help for Haiti, a blogger’s appeal

I hadn’t planned to post about the need for financial aid in Haiti, as I figured that there was plenty being said and that surely everyone who can help, already will be. However, I rethought it when I read Susanna’s post today. She appeals for all bloggers to appeal to people’s better nature to make sure that all possible aid is given to the victims of this horrific disaster. Also, on reading on the BBC news website that the death toll could be as high as 200,000, I felt a stronger urge to say something.

There are so many ways you could give. There is the obvious way, directly to the big charities (in the UK the DEC, Red Cross, Oxfam, Christian Aid, etc etc). If you make and sell things (for example, via Etsy or craft fairs) you could donate a percentage of your profits for a certain time to the appeal (you can also buy from sellers who are supproting the appeal – a simple search of ‘Haiti’ in Etsy will bring up a whole list of items). You could have a small cake sale in your office and send the resulting money. I think that people would be very happy to help this cause in any way they could afford. And I decided that if I could sway just one person towards giving, even just a couple of pounds (/dollars/euros etc) then it would be completely worth the blog post.

I (together with Granny Anne) will be visiting our local bank to make a donation tomorrow. All major banks and the post office will accept money toward the appeal.

So please, if you can spare even a small amount, please consider helping these people rebuild their communities and restart their lives by making a financial contribution.

Update: Help the victims of the bushfires

The British Red Cross have set up a fundraising page for those of us in the UK who want to help the victims of the bushfires in Victoria, Australia. Click here if you would like to donate. This site just makes it easier for UK residents to donate rather than trying to work out exchange rates, commission fees and where would be the best place to donate. Also, when I tried to access the Australian Red Cross’ website yesterday it was far too busy for me to get anywhere near.

I’ve just donated, and it was really simple, took only a couple of minutes. I just wish I could have given more.

The death toll is currently at 181, and rising. I can’t imagine having to start from scratch, possibly not even in the same town as it could have been destroyed. I can’t imagine having to hold a family together without key members, or perhaps being a child without a family, bemused by the twist of fate which tore apart my family. For many, the loss of things; houses, cars, neighbourhoods etc is the least of their problems. Quite apart from all of those who have been killed by these fires, think of all those who have been injured.

What Marita wrote in reply to my post yesterday night is so true: “Give your loved ones a hug and tell them you love them. They can so easily be torn away from us”. How sad that it takes something like this, sometimes, to remind us of that.

Do a small (and painless) bit towards ending world hunger!

My friend over at Welshpurpletree put this on her blog today, and after following the link and playing the word games and Italian games for a little while I decided to post about it here too, in the hopes that maybe more people will pick it up. For every question that you answer correctly, twenty grains of rice are donated to those in need in the poorest areas of the world. It is funded through the banner adverts which appear underneath each question. Go and have a go – what do you have to lose? You might even learn something!

Relay For Life and positive response from fire fighters

Yesterday the children and I spent some time with two other members of the committee for Cancer Research UK Relay For Life Cardiff. I think I’ve mentioned that we’re all volunteers doing this event organising, and I think that we’re doing really well to stay positive despite what have been a succession of problems in the organising of our event in recent months. However, next year will be easier!

Anyway, we decided that yesterday we should visit some fire stations with the aim of trying to persuade firemen to take part in Relay For Life. We went first to Whitchurch Fire Station who, due to the short notice, didn’t think that they could help. However, they did point us in the right direction for people who wouldn’t be so tied up with other charitable works, and then they swept my boys away and into a fire engine, much to their delight! They were allowed to press the sirens on and off, and then were invited to open the main doors to the fire station! I think it really made their day!

After this we went to Central Fire Station which I think is the main fire station for Cardiff. Once again we were welcomed warmly, and here we received a very encouraging response. The fire fighters we talked with seemed very positive that they could get together a team for the event, and also a girl from the Fire Safety Unit was enthusiastic and promised to try to bring a team as well! And then, once again my boys were ushered away to play in one of the fire engines, and this time they were invited to have a go with the water hose! They quite literally bounced out of the fire station and back to the car!

Finally we visited Esporta fitness club in East Cardiff who were, once again, very enthusiastic. They took some posters to display as well as some flyers to offer to their members. They also said that they would try to organise some spin bikes to be at Relay For Life. This would be great as it would really reenforce our healthy living message that we hope to promote. We were told that Esporta sent a team to Race For Life, and so they were very likely to be able to send a team to Relay!

All in all, we had a very positive day, which was great after all the difficulties we have had to negotiate recently!