Social Insecurity

I decided to apply for Social Security retirement benefits. Yes, I’m that old. I could wait and get a bigger payout in a few years, but it seems like a good time now to do this.

It was kind of a shock when I realized about a month ago that I could apply. I had that Dutch “dubbel” feeling – on the one hand YAY I can get some money back from the government! (Even if it’s a tiny bit) – on the other hand WHAT? I’m that OLD? How did that happen?

This morning I tried to log in to my SSA account to press the button to apply. Above is the screen I was greeted with.

What?

I have a hard time finding the right words to tell you what I think about this screen. To me, this is, in a nutshell, a perfect view of the United States right now. Technology that is so old fashioned that it’s laughable. A mindset that is so old fashioned that you wonder who is running things. Even my 83 year old mother is more tech-savvy than the people running this site. A website that has opening hours? WHAT? Is this 1990? Is this a third-world country without the resources to service the public the way other countries do?

You mark my words – in 30 years the United States will be well and truly in the shit. I wonder what things will look like for the country after this pandemic is over. How many homeless people will there be? How many people will have lost their life savings and their ability to retire at all because every cent they ever had is gone with health care payments and lost jobs. The people in Washington D.C., no matter the political party, have NO IDEA the wave of terribleness that is heading their way.

And still the propaganda machine rolls on and Americans wave flags and think that their systems are basically fine. I can only hope that enough people realize after this pandemic that tying health insurance to your employer is a system that doesn’t work for most people. I hope more people start to believe that health care is a basic human right. I hope more people believe that insurance companies and drug manufactures do not have the right to make billions on the backs of individual sick people. I believe that is morally wrong. It’s not the Wild West anymore folks. Wake up.

Free For All

On January 1, 2015, the EU in its infinite wisdom enacted the VATMOSS ruling which is intended to force companies such as Amazon and Apple to pay taxes on sales of electronically downloaded products.  Unfortunately, this far reaching tax law also affects individuals selling knitting patterns online.  Even more crazy, this law affects sales to individuals living in the EU, even if said knitting pattern designer lives and works in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world.  If you thought the U.S. was an overbearing bully of a country, well, the EU as a group of countries has just joined that club.

Over on Ravelry, Casey and team have been working around the clock to come up with a solution for all the thousands of pattern sales that take place via their site.  No, Ravelry is not selling the patterns.  They are only the vehicle which allows hundreds of independent people to sell their work.  If you want all the details about how Ravelry has come up with a (hopefully temporary) solution, please go here.

What is completely insane about this situation is that there is no threshold for small independent sellers, like me.  I read a lot about the situation in the UK, mainly because it’s so much easier to read about this subject in English, but also because there seems to be much more of an uproar in the UK about this.  The Dutch press, and people, seem much quieter about it.  But anyway, in the UK there is talk of convincing the government that there should be a threshold under which you are exempt form this nonsense.  Currently, in the Netherlands, the threshold is zero.  ZERO.  Sell a digital pattern for 1 euro and you are subject to this tax burden.  And it’s not so much the burden of paying the taxes – I’m fine to pay tax on what is owed – but the administrative burden is just awesome.

We are now required to 1) charge VAT according to the tax rate in the country of the buyer of our patterns; 2) provide at least TWO forms of proof of the residence of said buyer!; 3) file tax returns in those EU countries.  And this is true even if you live in Australia or Canada or Botswana and sell digital products to people in all 28 member countries for 1 euro a pop.

Some designers on Ravelry have gone with the solution to sell via LoveKnitting, a site in the UK that will handle this VAT mess for you.  But after a 6 month grace period, this will cost you .20p per item plus 20% of the sales price.  Plus you have to pay PayPal fees.  Plus take the VAT of an average of 20% off the top.  Pattern sales are hard enough to come by and this will mean that the price of a $5 pattern bought from an American designer jumps to $6.05 for me, and said designer will get $5 less 20% less 20p less PayPal fees.

Some designers have decided to stop selling to customers in Europe.  This makes me incredibly sad.  In the happy knitting world we have been open to everyone everywhere and via Ravelry we shared our craft and our lives (via images and forums) across all borders.  Now, thanks to the EU bureaucrats, we are separated, segregated, different.  Not to mention how angry I will be when I see a lovely pattern on Ravelry and try to buy it, only to find myself locked out because of this ruling.

Some designers have decided to set all their patterns to FREE on Ravelry.  The gorgeous patterns of Julia Mueller are now all free.

I decided to do the same.  After all, my pattern sales have been almost nothing the past years.  I sell, on average, a pattern a month.  That’s it.  So, on January 1, I set them all to FREE.  And as of this morning, 2 January, 2015, over 2,000 copies of my patterns have been downloaded.  This morning I have 3 patterns on the Hot Right Now page in the pattern search on Ravelry.

While I love the fact that people are discovering my patterns, I have real mixed feelings about how this has happened.  This tells me a few things, that frankly, I think Ysolda has already known and talked about on her blog before.  First, most people think that knitting patterns should be free and aren’t willing to pay for them.  Most people think that your time, as a designer, is worth nothing.  And that they deserve to get stuff for free.

Second, people will download free patterns just to have them.  They will most likely never use them or knit them.  But since they are free, they will download them and store them on their hard drive with no intention of ever bringing them to life, which, frankly, I don’t like at all.  If you are going to the trouble of downloading them, then make them.  I spent hours working on these patterns because I wanted to see them made and enjoyed and USED!  This irks me more than point one about expecting to get them for free!

Anyway, the world has changed and we have to adapt and change with it.  Even Trent Reznor puts music online for free.  Some authors have offered their books for free.  And by “free” I mean given away, not pirated or stolen.  So, my patterns are free, but I’m going to try something different too, that I’ve seen on other sites such as podcast sites and others offering information and entertainment on a small scale.  I’m putting up a DONATE button.  I’m also going to add all my patterns to the blog so that you don’t have to be a member of Ravelry to see them or download them.  This might take a few days so bear with me.  I have no idea if anyone will donate a penny because they have downloaded a pattern or knitted one of my free patterns.  But I have to believe that most people play fair, even if “fair” means different things to different people.

Please continue to support small, micro businesses in this new economic world.  Whether from an Etsy shop, or Ravelry, or from their own web sites, the micro economy should not be ignored by us consumers, nor by the big heads in government who set policy we all need to follow.  Since the 1970’s I’ve seen bumper stickers and posters reading “Buy Local, Think Global”, encouraging consumers to support local businesses without forgetting that we are part of one world environmentally and economically.  This needs to be changed to “Buy Small, Think Big”.  Support the individuals who make your world more interesting and rich.  And don’t forget that rules and regulations affect us in ways that might not be obvious at first.  Think bigger than your own self interest.

Word Press as Selling Platform

Today I spent some time looking at plug-ins for WordPress that allow you to set up a shop on this platform.  What a sad state of affairs this is!

There are quite a few shopping basket tools, but that is only part of the puzzle.  If you want to sell knitting patterns, for instance, you can use the shopping basket api that Ravelry uses – they offer it to members to use for free.  But if you are interested in selling shippable products, or something other than downloads, or you have many items you want to sell, or you want something even mildly sophisticated, you have to look further.

I looked at 4 different plug-ins, reading info on their sites and also looking up reviews that others have posted online.  There’s a pretty good review already written HERE so I won’t bother re-writing it.  It basically states everything I found.

It appears that Shopp is the best of the bunch, but it seems far from ideal.  There are plenty of people who absolutely hate it and wish they’d never tried it or started with it.  And there are others who like it and find it acceptable.  In either case, both sides state that support is either minimal or abysmal, apathetic or even hostile to users.  You have to be able to either tinker happily in the guts of WP code, or pay someone to do that, if you want to really use Shopp well.  And it’s full of bugs.  And can break your site if you aren’t careful.  Sheesh.

I was looking up this stuff for a friend who wants to set up a shop.  I also looked at complete package deals like Strato, where I used to have my web shop hosted.  It’s a lot more expensive to go this route, but the time saved and headaches saved might be worth it.  These packaged sites are professional and trustworthy (at least the ones I know).  You have a lot less flexibility regarding look and feel (you must use their templates, but can change colors and background and header images, but the structure is theirs).

It seems that small companies are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to e-commerce.  They can’t afford an IT team to create custom sites.  They are probably not IT savvy enough to look at code and see what’s going on with a WordPress problem, and even if they were is that what they should be spending their time doing?  So they turn to all-in e-commerce solutions that are meant for small companies and they all look pretty much the same – cookie cutter sites.

For myself, I’m going to be trying my best to set up a shopping basket on this site in the near future.  I want to start selling some patterns from here, as well as from Ravelry.  Even if everyone I know is on Ravelry, it seems the professional thing to do to offer patterns on my own site too.  And it keeps my IT skills sharp (or my frustration level high, however you want to look at it).

Stay tuned for upcoming site changes…..

On My Way

This is the road to….. a better future?  I think so!

This photo was taken Sunday at the half way point in my little 6km run in the dunes.  As you can see, it looks more like Spring than Winter.  We haven’t had any Winter so far this year.  The important point about this photo is that I was RUNNING again.  I seem to always need/have a running break in December.  I can’t seem to get out of the hibernation feeling to keep my legs moving.   I already feel the days getting longer and the stress and uncertainty of the last few months is finally leaving me.  I’m feeling more energetic by the day.

Today I also passed an important milestone.  I went to the BLTC in Amsterdam and had my interview to get into their CELTA training school.  I had to take a 1 hour test on grammar and writing and then give a 5 minute lesson on a language topic.  You won’t believe this – heck I still don’t believe it – but I got ALL the answers right on the test!  I was sweating that thing!  I guessed on some of the grammar.  I mean, I can write a decent sentence and I know when something is “wrong”, but do you know what the “present perfect continuous” tense is?  I had studied up (good thing) but still have a hard time keeping all the various verb tenses straight.  My 5 minutes of teaching didn’t go as well, but hey, that’s what they are going to teach me to do, right?  Right.

So, after chatting with me, and reviewing my test, I was told that I’m IN and I have the very last place available in the course that starts 30 January.  It’s a 13 week course and is very intensive.  I expect to be very busy with the course, and knitting designing.  I’m very excited to start!  This is a whole new direction for me and I’m really excited about it.

I had another success today too.  A friend asked me to update her web site for her and I said I could do it.  It’s not a blog, it’s a real content site.  It’s made in Joomla, a content management system (CMS).  I’ve never seen Joomla before (this blog is made with WordPress).  But what the heck, it can’t be that different, right?  AND she had lost the user name and password so I had to go into the SQL database and run a query that would create a new user.  Eek!  At least I had access to that via the web host site.  Anyway, to make a long technical story short, I managed to remove a page, change a menu, remove some links and images and not crash anything at all!

All in all, it’s been a pretty damned good day!

That Time of Year

It’s that time of year when people are getting ready for the holidays, buying presents, decorating the house, preparing for guests.  Us? Not so much.  At least not yet.  Our holiday cheer is taking a beating.

If you’ve been following along with the story, first we were moving to London, then we weren’t, then DB would be unemployed here in NL since he quit his job to move to London, and now, dear readers, I’m going to be unemployed as well.  You know I never write about work in the blog, since it’s a damned small country here and it’s not a good idea to piss people off in a public forum (at least not yet; let’s wait and see how the end of this story really plays out).  But I will say that my lawyer is talking to their lawyer and hopefully we will all come out of this better off than we were two months ago.  Sigh.

Now, what do you do when your entire household will soon be without a job?  Go shopping of course!

We’d been wanting to buy some new kitchen pots for quite a while and with all the holiday sales going on, we decided now was the time.  We found these in a small lovely kitchen shop in Haarlem, regularly 380 euros on sale for 149 euros.  You can’t beat that.  They are stainless steel, built to last, safe to use everywhere, even the oven (except for the lids).

So, that’s our Christmas shopping out of the way!  Ha!

I also got a new iPhone 4S.  I’d been wanting get one since they were launched, but was waiting for…. well I don’t know what for.  A better price I guess.  I really wanted to get onto Vodafone’s network since they, and KPN, have the best network in the country.  T-Mobile is bloody slow and unreliable.  Telfort has a good phone network (they use KPN’s network), but their data traffic is the slowest of the lot.  Believe me, I’ve tried them all.  I was just very undecided if the quality of Vodafone was worth the premium price to me.

I built a business case spreadsheet.  I compared the price of ordering an unlocked phone from the US and having my mom send it to me.  I compared the 2 year cost of ownership in every configuration and carrier I could think of.  Until recently, getting a new 2 year contract with T-Mobile was the cheapest deal.  But then as of 2 days ago Vodafone dropped the price of the phone and is offering 4 months at half price for the service.  I plugged those new numbers into my spreadsheet and voila, Vodafone and T-Mobile were the same price over the 2 years!   Off I went to the Vodafone shop in Haarlem and came home with a lovely new white 16GB iPhone 4S.  Yea!

That’s the end of my toy shopping for the year.  I don’t need anything else.  I have to start being really conservative with money – from now on.  No clothes until I have a new job and need work clothes.  No shoes.  No tech toys.  No software.  No yarn – I have a house full!  No fancy dinners out – ok, maybe now and then dinner at an “eet cafe”.  We are so lucky to have all the great things that we have, and now is the time to appreciate what we have and realize that we don’t need a damned thing more.  Except jobs.

Zoom Zoom Saturday

It was a busy day yesterday!  First off, I picked up my newly ordered mobile phone, a Sony Ericsson x10 mini pro.  In red.  I bought it from Bol.com since they had the red one in stock and it was the cheapest I could find.  I bought it without a contract.  I’d already done the math and for a one year contract anywhere, you are just as well off buying the phone loose and getting a separate SIM-only contract.  Here’s a picture of my new baby.

Isn’t it cute?  It’s small.  It fits into the palm of my hand.  I’m loving the keyboard.  And it’s Android which makes it small and smart.

I picked it up at the post office at 10:00 and by 10:30 I had it charging and I’d already set up our wireless network and was downloading apps.  Of course since it is so small there’s no point putting video on it, or complicated games.  I have my iPad for that.  But for calling and messaging I’m really loving it so far.  In another week or so I’ll post a longer review.

Saturday was International Record Store Day, and here in the Netherlands that’s a big deal.  People here are big music lovers and there are more record stores per capita than anywhere I’ve ever been.  And you know DB, he is a music fanatic and so of course at 9:00 in the morning he was off to his first record store.  He scored some nice vinyl there, plus a lovely present for me:  Fleetwood Mac Rumors on vinyl.  Nice.

Then we were off to Amsterdam.  More record stores needed to be visited and I wanted to get my SIM card for my new baby so I could actually make phone calls.  I did that at the PhoneHouse, the one on Heiligeweg, just off the Kalverstraat.  They were so nice!  Good customer service is hard to come by here, especially in Amsterdam, but these people were just wonderful to everyone who came in.

After that chore was done, and DB was back from another record store (more vinyl scored), we were off to the Grand Opening of Penelope Craft.  Ms. Malia has set up shop on the Lange Leidsedwarsstraat, not far from Leidseplein.  It was hoping with people, including all the usual suspects (but not Andy nor Ginni – we missed you both!).

Shortly after I took these photos, even more people showed up so that we spilled out into the street.  Malia popped open the champagne and we toasted her success.  It’s great to have another yarn shop in Amsterdam.

By this time my stomach was telling me it was time to eat some dinner, so we headed out to the Spiegelgracht to find a restaurant.  We passed a shop I just couldn’t pass up.  Worse than a yarn shop.  You guessed it.  Chocolate.

We walked into van der Donk, chocolate makers.  Oh man.  Here’s a photo of what we bought:

As you can see, they are small.  Not much bigger than the chocolate covered almonds on the right that we also bought there.  We are rationing them.  Two per night.  That’s all we are allowed.  Savor each one.  They are truly incredible!  Cost?  15 euros for that box of 35 beauties on the left.

We finally did find a place to have dinner, but not where we wanted to go.  It was unbelievably busy in the city and we were lucky to get a table at a small Italian restaurant near Rembrandtplein.  We even had a table at the window and watched the tourist boats go by.

So, that was the busy zoom zoom Saturday.  The weather was really nice!  Here’s the thing.  Every year that we have a beautiful April, July is rainy and terrible.  We’re preparing ourselves already.  Get out there and get the sun while you can! Now THAT should be printed on a Dutch tile!

Egmond 1/4 Marathon

Today I ran the 10.4km race at Egmond.  It was seriously tough.  I managed it in 1 hour 12 minutes and I was very happy with that.  As you can see in the map above, we ran along the beach and through the dunes.  These dunes at Egmond make “my” dunes near Bloemendaal seem almost flat.  These were real HILLS!

The weather was really good – also like this map!  It was windy though and along the beach the wind was against us.  Ugh.  But it was above freezing temps and the sun was shining so I shouldn’t complain.

We started in Egmond aan Zee, ran through the village before heading down to the beach.

We only ran 2 1/2 kilometers on the beach, but that was enough.  The flags tell the story.

At the end of the beach section we had to “run” up very steep dunes in loose sand, up and over.  No one ran.  Everyone walked up that part.  Then, in kilometers 6 and 7, there was a series of steep hills which was really tough.  After that it leveled out a bit and we headed back to Egmond.  Kilometer 10 was just plain mean with one last hill.  I wanted to sprint to the finish, but I was finished and just couldn’t muster any more energy.  This finish time was 12 minutes slower than my best 10k, but with this terrain I was actually very happy with the result.

Oh yeah!  I had a technical breakdown during the race.  I was running with my Garmin watch and my iPhone running the Nike+ app.  During km 4 the watch suddenly died.  I tried to turn it on again and it just started beeping and flashing and beeping and flashing and then died again.  I tried again and it died again.  I was pretty pissed off about that.  Stupid expensive over engineered piece of equipment.  And speaking of running gear, did you see that Nike and TomTom have teamed up and are coming out with a new running GPS watch?  Due out in April but I hope to have my hands on one very soon.  🙂  Hmmmm how will I do THAT?

Running and Waiting

Sorry, no photo this post.  I really have to get used to the weather and darkness again and start carrying my camera with me always so that when there IS good light, I have photos to share.

So what DO I have to tell you?  Some good things, like running the 8km race last Sunday (during the Amsterdam Marathon) in record time!  I ran a cool 10km/hour to come in at 48 minutes.  I’ve never run so fast in my life.  And this is the farthest I had run since the knee operation.  I was really beat after the race and I was sore for a couple of days afterwards, but I did run 5km last Wednesday and again 8km today, so I’m well and truly back!  Today’s run was tough though.  I was tired and the wind was really blowing.  I ran in the dunes and most of that is open and not sheltered from the wind.  It feels so good to just be able to make progress.

The not so good thing that happened in the last week is that my lovely iPad quit working.  OK, it still worked, but it would no longer sync and would hardly charge.  I took it Thursday night after work to the iCentre across from the Central Station in Amsterdam.  They have a repair center there.  The guy did all the tests I had already done at home.  It didn’t work for him either so he is sending it back to Apple and I should have a bright shiny new one tomorrow morning.  Unfortunately, since it wouldn’t sync, I couldn’t back up my data that I had in the app “Things”.  I had 2 months worth of work meeting notes in there!  All gone.  Bummer.  The “waiting” in the title of this post refers to me waiting for my replacement iPad.  It’s amazing how addicted you can get to a new tech gadget in so short a time.  I miss the little guy.  He’s so handy.  I’ll be glad to have a new one Monday.

My advice to anyone who has a new apple product that isn’t working well – TAKE IT BACK!  That’s what warranties are for.  I read so many posts on forums by people who were trying everything to get their iPad to work and just wouldn’t give up trying things.  Good grief.  Just take it back and get over it.

I have something else exciting to write about but that will be in the next post.  It’s a yarn topic so I’ll keep that separate. 🙂

I promise to have photos next time.

Running With Numbers

Nike+screen

I’m BACK!  Today I did two things for the first time.  One, I ran 5km for the first time since the knee operation, and two, I ran with the new Nike+ iPhone app.  What a great morning it was for both events!

DB and I went to his favorite running place – the beach.  I prefer the dunes myself, so we trade off, depending on the weather.  It was low tide, but the sand for some reason was softer than I’ve noticed before, which made for a squishier and more difficult run.  No matter.  I easily finished 5km with lots of energy to spare.  You have no idea how happy that makes me!  The knee felt fine.  The ribs still a little sore (man am I sick of that).  In two weeks I’m running a 5km race in Haarlem and I’ll be really ready for it (and should be faster than today).  Mid-October I have a 8km race and I’m sure, at this rate, I’ll be up for that too.

Now, about the gadgets and numbers.  I’m a self-confessed gadget freak and numbers junky.  My running gadgets have progressed with my running itself.  Here’s the gadget progression:

Nike running watch
Nike+ and iPod nano
Nike+ wristband and iPod of some type (nano or shuffle or iPhone)
iPhone with RunKeeper app (horrible, didn’t work)
Garmin 305
Garmin 405
Nike+ iPhone app

All the above gadgets are still working just fine.  The Nike watch works perfectly after 7 years.  There was no need to continually upgrade gadgets except for my continual need for more and better data and smaller and more clever devices.  Last year you could have seen me running with the Garmin 305 (affectionately known at my house as The Fridge) on one wrist, the Nike+ wristband on the other wrist (because of a challenge with work colleagues), my iPhone for music and a phone if needed, AND a camera for decent photos, AND 5 extra kilos on my body.  Good grief.

As I’ve left gadgets behind, DB has picked them up.  He started using my Nike watch when I bought the Garmin 305.  When I stopped running with my knee problems he started using the 305.  Now that’s his, and I bought the 405.

Today I ran with the Garmin 405 and my iPhone in my pocket, playing music and tracking my run with the new Nike+ app, and 5kg less on the body than last year.  I felt practically lightweight.  I took a couple of photos with my iPhone after the run, and as usual the photos themselves are crap, but I wasn’t packing a real camera.

beach running

How was the Nike iPhone app?  Fantastic!  After the run I started to wonder why I spent 280 euros on a Garmin watch when I get just as much info, and more fun, from this iPhone app!  Damn, why didn’t Nike release this app 3 months ago?  Would have saved me a load of money.

The GPS on the iPhone, combined with the app, worked flawlessly.  This was my main complaint with RunKeeper, which never worked well and which I abandoned pretty quickly.  With the Nike app I got a voice notification of distance and pace every km, which was nice and you obviously don’t get with a watch (only a beep).

While the app gives you the basics of distance, pace, time and mapping, you also get the fun things Nike adds to the experience of running.  From your iPhone itself you can tag your run with weather, type of surface you ran on, your rating of the run (with smiley faces) and notes you can type in.  The app then syncs automatically with the Nike+ web site.  You can see your stats and history and all your Nike+ info directly from your iPhone, or from your computer of course.  When I got home and logged on with my laptop I could see everything I had just done (see top image) plus I set up two goals for myself and joined two challenges (Netherlands provinces competing against each other, and Men vs Women).  Nike+ makes it just so much FUN to use their devices and software.  The Garmin site has just as much info for you, but it’s just not as much FUN, visually or using communities to interact and participate in.

I’ll keep using both devices for the foreseeable future.  Why not?  I’ll take all the stats and maps and challenges and such I can get.

Now that I’m back to regular running again, you, dear reader, will be treated to stories of my running again.  I hope you don’t mind.  And maybe even be inspired to keep at it and not give up.  If I can come back from injuries and carry on, so can you.

Running, yes you heard me right

This morning DB and I went running on the beach.  Yes, you heard me right.  RUNNING.  OK, it wasn’t a lot of running, but still.  We did  (1 min run, 2 min walk) x 5.  My knee, and the rest of me, felt great.  The only thing that kept me from doing more was some sense of caution and also this nagging cold that just won’t go away.  I’m still coughing crud from my lungs and my nose is still red from blowing it constantly.  I figured some cold salt air would do me good.  It certainly wouldn’t do me any harm.  The plan now is to increase this routine so that next week I’ll do (2 min run, 2 min walk) x 5.  And so on from there.  I don’t go back to the physical therapist for 3 weeks.

The above photo was not taken today.  I didn’t take any photos today.  But the skies looked about like this and there were about this many people around.  I would have taken a photo with my iPhone except that it takes really lousy photos.  I was talking to DB this morning about phones.  Since I was one of those people camped out in front of T-Mobile nearly 2 years ago to get my iPhone, my 2 year contract is nearly up.  Will I go for the new iPhone this summer?  Or get a Blackberry?  I can’t see myself with an Android phone somehow.  But why not a Blackberry?  What do I actually use my iPhone for?  Not nearly what it is capable of, that’s what.

I have to say, though, that the iPhone is my favorite mobile phone ever.  I’m pretty picky when it comes to phones.  I’m never satisfied.  The iPhone has been the best so far.  The interface is great, the screen is beautiful, the speed is just acceptable, it plays music and video, shows me when the trains will be late, when it will rain, educates and entertains.  What more do you want?  A decent camera and a keyboard, that’s what.  I miss a keyboard I can really type on.  And I miss a decent camera on a phone.  You know what?  If this thing had a decent camera, and a keyboard, I would blog more often.  I would take a photo, write some snappy text, and use the WordPress app to get it here in a jif.  My iPhone has become my excuse for NOT blogging?  That’s pretty pathetic!

What do you think of the iPad?  Laying in bed yesterday morning, finishing reading “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, DB said I’d be the perfect candidate for an eBook reader.  He’s always teasing me about the space my books take up.  I said, “sure, buy me an iPad for my birthday.”  I’m not completely convinced though.  I’m sitting here writing this on my trusty MBP and wouldn’t have it any other way.  Spending 500 bucks on a glorified book reader and movie player is something I just can’t justify right now.  We have enough toys and besides I’m just not sure I’d really use it.  What do you think?  Are you buying one?

Oh yeah!  Speaking of toys…. a guy sitting with us a Vapiano Friday night mentioned you can buy original VW bugs here, well restored, for around 10,000 euros.  Or less.  Oh man.  My first car was a ’68 VW Bug.  Would I want one again?  It has a certain appeal…..