Posts Tagged With: education

THE LIFE STYLE OF VILLAGERS

Yesterday, our group arrived at this couple’s home and began helping me cut up vegetables. The woman would catch my eye and hold up her hand for enough carrots. She shook her head for the peas not to go in yet. Then indicated silently when the peas were added to the pot. She began the clean-up while the this typical Indian dish was cooked.

It surprised me that the husband directed the cooking action. Theo is adding spices. Pam is stirring. Notice the husband has leather shoes.

Ranvir told us that every household that cooks for itself has one of these treasures. Curry, cumin, turmeric, coriander, cardamon, cumin seed, and mustard seed. Sometimes ground cloves, ground cinnamon and basil seed.

Families cook outside in a home-made adobe stove. In the pan goes mustard oil first. The vegetables are carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, red onion, potatoes, peppers and peas. Stir fried first, a bit of water later to steam until done.

The wife cooked the naan on that same stove with a special pan of some kind. Her recipe is millet and water. We all tasted the food by scooping up the vegetables with a  piece of naan. Yummy.

The father gave us a tour of his property where he grows most of the food for this extended household. He has guava trees and another tree from which you use the twigs to brush your teeth. I’ve already forgotten the name of it.  I carried a branch around with me for two days to see what it was like. It has an alum feel and the broken end of a small branch acts like toothpicks and floss. (Indian people use regular toothbrushes.)

Using well water,  one daughter-in-law  hand washes clothes.  Each married son has his own house and an out-door bathroom with a flush toilet flowing into a common septic system. The toilets and septic system a benefit of Grand Circle.   Even though he isn’t as poor as most in this area, Grand Circle want people to adopt better hygiene. If Grand Circle hadn’t stepped in, they would simply use the ground and bury their waste. He sets a modern example for his kids, grandchildren and neighbors around him. Another form of education.

The kids have ample room to run around and play in a clean area. It is typical of older children to help with younger children in Indian families.

Someone made a rustic jungle gym.  Strong poles are tied together for the kids to swing and climb upon.

A group picture before we leave. Carol and Kathy hold up samples of the wife’s colorful clothing.

The family bids us goodbye.

They have a cow for milk.

From their long driveway, we see a beautiful girl with a baby. Ranvir speculates that she is probably 15 or 16 years old. Typical age for poor, uneducated girls to marry.

Our next visit in the village is a Women’s Cooperative where we will eat lunch. This woman, Joy, a dietician decided to help one family, and never left India.

These women are from a warrior tribe. Their husbands hunted tigers and leopards and sold the skins illegally. During a government crackdown, they were arrested and imprisoned. With their husbands in jail, these wives had no skills to make a living except prostitution. How would they survive?

At the Cooperative, they learn new skills. This gentleman shows me a block printed bed cover.

We’ve seen how it is done. A student carefully practices on a small square.

Some learn to sew. I buy three pillow covers and a lovely embroidered purse. Prices are a bit higher here than on the street, but still a bargain.

Men help the women, they keep track of the money, some  sew and/or maintain the machines and buildings. They also have a flush toilet on the premises.

Illeka is my lunch mate and she teaches me arabic  names of food we are eating and I give her the English words. Illeka is talkative and can  speak  somewhat garbled English and French.

Kathy has her picture taken with the women she bought things from.  Illeka indicated she wanted her picture taken with us.

But we misunderstood her. She wanted her picture taken with me with something I bought that she made. She showed me her craft and I obliged by buying this little hat hair pin. She was really sweet and charming.

Tomorrow, we take a long train ride to Bharatpur.

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NOT ALL TAXES ARE BAD.

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California is considering a 5% severance tax on oil extraction from California to provide  billions of dollars for education. I can hear the hue and cry, NO MORE TAXES.  Not all taxes are bad. The oil industry pays less than 1% severance taxes to California, but Alaska get’s 50%. Wyoming gets 45.4 %, and N.D. a state that is booming right now, gets 5%. Texas get’s 66% in three different taxes, value of oil as it comes from the ground, a clean-up tax and a “regulatory” tax.Thirty-four states get oil severance taxes.

I see something wrong with this ballot measure.  California needs to charge 15% because we have heavier environmental safety formulas for gas. We are providing our neighbors with cleaner air at our expense. And, we watch the oil company profits soar into the billions each year as they laugh their way to the bank.  And, we watch Federal subsidies on oil. I call it theft of our tax monies levied to get friendly senators and representatives to keep it going.

Charging a 15% severance rate, could be applied to lower state taxes at the pump by 5%, for our gas.  Put 5% towards strengthening education, and 5% toward transportation.

Whether you use it or not, public transportation benefits everyone. It connects people to jobs, and community services. It reduces pollution and eases congestion. It helps create local jobs and strengthens the economy. Studies have proven that to be true. Our future has to be infrastructure that takes an investment and commitment from our local officials as we move away from gas guzzling cars, especially in cities.  We need it.

 

Education has gotten so expensive that kids without job prospects, start life with student debt. Core classes are not always available, meaning it takes longer to fulfill requirements..  Elementary education has suffered draconian cuts year in and year out and deserves a boost.  We penalize the very thing that will energize our society and make us a leading state again. Lets put California  back on the map.

Tax the right industries, those that pollute and damage, and reward those that enhance our society. Isn’t that a good idea?

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LIBBY, MONTANA

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Driving from Kelispell to Libby yesterday morning  brought us through 9 miles of road work much of it really, bumpy gravel.

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Elevation rises, more trees and stump farms with scraggly second or third growth. One plot had about 3 scraggly trees and nothing but stumps. This is lumber country obviously and the twigs we see everywhere that pass for trees is disheartening even if it is private land.

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Libby is called the City of Eagles. We didn’t see any flying around or nesting spots along the roadway, but there were plenty of them around town.

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We had expected to see the Museum and Nordic Heritage Center, but it was closed.

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We missed by one day the Nordic Heritage Days annual celebration. This sign was left on the street. We pulled in to stay at the VFW in town and just walked the downtown area and took pictures.

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I  judge the health of a small town by its art or lack of it, good beer, buildings that are well cared for and if you see a nice child care center, a drug treatment center, senior center, plenty of doctors offices, a hospital and good looking schools you know you are in a progressive community. Libby qualifies. The main street was only about four blocks long and two blocks deep, but it was full of murals and they are expensive. DSC00811 (Copy)

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Even their garbage cans were painted. This one mentions their Annual River Front Blues Festival. DSC00807 (Copy)

They still have a working theater in town. Nice.

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The Libby Cafe claims to have the best huckleberry flapjacks in Montana.  I liked their sign.

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This one too.

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Libby has an Amtrak Station so you can get where you want to go. Country living, small town, pretty nice place to live.

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A SUNI-YI VILLAGE AND CEMETERY

When I’m home, I always have projects to do that take gobs of time. Or, I’m having gobs of fun. The next three weeks,  I’ll be having therapy for my hip three mornings a week plus other doctor’s appointments, and my blog may be quite sporadic. I wonder at times like this how our travel companions who were severely injured in the May 27th accident are faring? I’m back revisiting my 2006 trip to China, and, suffering embarrassment as I was reminded that I had blogged my China trip last year. I totally forgot. Maybe it was the bap in the head during the accident that made me forget.  In any case, UNESCO made this cemetery a place of interest because China has not allowed burials for over 200 years. All bodies by law must be cremated. This rare cemetery belongs to the minority Yi people, and we visit their nearby village.

The minority Yi living here are poor. The place is littered with garbage.

Raw sewage runs through the  town in these runnels. They have electricity now, fairly new for them.

The streets are narrow; the buildings show their layers of history from old to ancient.

The major crop for them is corn. They raise pigs and we see dogs and wonder if they are raised for meat rather than pets.

The people mostly ignore us or hide their curiosity.  Like most minority villages, they work together and share the work and the harvest.

And, like old China, women go to work in the fields with their babies on their backs.

We saw women and children and our group engaged them. The child with the mother in the blue sweater was scared of we big noses and ran away from us.

She managed to bring him close to us. Vicki told us, do not give these people money and turn them into beggars. But, here we see that a member of our group did it anyway, and the little boy in red has his hand outstretched for more. The Cemetery is a new UNESCO site and soon, these people will have a steady parade of tourists with money in hand. Handouts warp their way of life,  rather than enhance it.

The children seem quite happy and well fed.

Who are we to decide their lifestyle needs improving?  The minority people are allowed two babies per family.  The government handed out condoms and demonstrated them by slipping them on their fingers. On the next visit, they found condoms on fence posts, hanging in the windows and on bushes. The people thought they were magically going to work by having them around.

Superstition is handed down from generation to generation.  Some of the practices of the minority people in the region are pretty strange.  These Suni-Yi believe spider webs are good luck and will not break up a web. The Wah minority favor rat meat. In older times they lent their wives to friends, or two sisters were allowed to share one husband. Some Wah are still nomadic. Girls live in white tents. Any man can fornicate with her because she has to have a baby to prove that she is fertile before she can marry.  But, the tent is guarded by a dog and the man must fight off the dog with stones and fists. The government discourages these old rituals and practices with some success.

We leave the area thinking of the vast differences in culture there is in the same country without the influence of immigration as in our own melting pot of diverse cultures. We are truly stepping back in time, here.

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ECONOIMIC SKILLS SADLY LACKING

 

Weary of rain, feeling trapped inside staring at too many tax papers, I went on a rant, yesterday,  and, I got it wrong. Vanguard recommended a 529, not a 526 educational account. Guilty of basically ignoring these accounts, I misunderstood the letter I received. It seems the old ESA accounts, that I opened, will be taxed upon withdrawal only if the beneficiary has both types of accounts, the 529 and the ESA. In my own defense, the letter wasn’t very clear and the companies will not speak to you if your social security number is not on the account, even if you generated the account and paid into it.
To make up for it I downloaded an online lecture on economics from  The GREAT COURSES, a fantastic college level course taught by Harvard PH.D., who teaches at Carnegie Mellon University. His award winning research is supported by the National Science Foundation. Through my account, they allow me to share it by email with friends and family, but not on my blog. 

However, I spoke with Kathleen Fournier from The Great Courses. She suggested that anyone can find this free course online by going to: http://www.teach12.com . The lecture you want is China_India_Branstetter.  He talks about the future of the US with China and India predicted to be the next great economies. This learning  company has marvelous stuff. I’m soooo glad I found them. You will be too.

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