Thursday, May 24, 2012

Life’s been busy…

It’s been a couple of weeks since there was time to sit and write.  Not a lack of thoughts, my notebook has lots of notes in the margins about things I want to explore, but a lack of time.  The events competing for attention are good things, but, in the aggregate, they take their toll.

Anyway, as the weather suddenly bursts into summer in the UK and long holiday weekends accumulate ahead, it will be a good chance to catch up with my events and fellow expatriate blogs.  A couple of quick notes to get rolling:

  -- Eurostar has restored  Any Dutch Station to it’s selections for the Netherlands, reducing the price of travel to/from England by about 40 euro over selecting the Any Belgian Station or Brussels destinations.  It makes no sense, but it saves about a third as peak summer travel season approaches.

  -- Rules for leased car deductions are changing in the Netherlands on July 2012 to encourage the use of more environmentally friendly automobiles.  This has caused a rush to exchange cars: my dealer (confirmed by a separate leasing company) said that they could no longer confirm delivery of fuel efficient automobiles by the deadline.  It’s also cut the amount of negotiation: I got the price pushed down 10% but no further.

  --  Landing in Seattle on a recent Delta flight, the crew announced  that we could see the local Ikea as we landed and  encouraged people to stop and shop.  It’s an annoying bit of product placement, likely to come to a RyanAir flight shortly.

  -- And, on that theme, any parent who buys their children tacos and burritos to eat on the plane should be forced to sit with them.  The smell, the grease, the mess in the seat pocket was terrible.  I don’t know why the airlines don’t insist on flight friendly fare if they are going to allow people to bring meals on board.

  -- The US seems as enthusiastic as ever about achieving greater government cutbacks, even as European voters are rejecting politicians who implement similar austerity measures.  It will be interesting to see if there can be a real debate about the merits of taxing the top 2% vs. the bottom 20%, about whether a dollar spent by the government is more wasteful than a dollar spent by an investment firm, about how to educate students to stimulate creativity and competitiveness, about whether there should be a balance of power between owners and labor.  Europe’s policies seem more correct to me, but the American middle class won’t understand until they feel the true pain of the Rynd-ian policies they are backing.

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