Important for those on Housing Benefit!

...and LESS I FORGET:

In case you have missed this, the max rent levels (LHA) currently accepted are about to drop significantly from  01 April 2011! This due to Government savings – i.e. they want to reduce the amount of benefits they’re now paying out. Well, at least that is what it seems to be…

This means that first of all, those that have had the £15 top up will lose it from that date.

After this you’ll need to know when your rent anniversary date is – from that date you may be re-assessed on the new lower rent level which effectively could be less than your rent is & force you to move out. What the Government has said is more or less that you are protected under the old scheme until your anniversary (rent check) date – after this you could be protected for another 9 months ~ but ~ this is pending changes such as someone moving in/out/you having a baby which will affect the ‘number of bedrooms’ you’re assessed on. That’s the rough guidance on it!

Do find out which date this will kick in for you, by calling your Housing Benefit office.

They won’t be able to give you more than a guidance on the date as they can’t predict what kind of changes you will have, but they will be able to give you your anniversary date and then you can calculate the other 9 months on top to know when you think it will start affecting you.

 *Should you for any reason be stuck & can’t move when change kicks in (& it turns out you can’t afford staying), you might be able to claim DHP (discretionary housing payment) to help you out until you can move out.

 Sorry to be the bringer of bad news, but I’d rather you’re all forewarned & forearmed!!!! & geared to deal with the change when it comes.

 

XXX


Prohibition night

The Strange Love that is Cats in Sinks...


 It’s
not that I lack of things to write on ( I've had a cake disaster, two birthdays, a London commute-route debacle where I encountered an extremely ‘gay’ fetishy bloke who is now on the look out to make me his faghag or is possibly not gay at all & wants to shag/sub or dom me, one fab & detrimentally inspiring afternoon at the Affordable Art fair, my waterpump on the boat spilling water everywhere, making my boat tilt to the left from water in the hull & me thus sleeping on my extra bed, two excellent club nights, a hangover from Mescal, a person who completely made me blubber by being the first person to be honest to me on a matter, listen to a taxi driver instructing my company in how to endear oneself to a lady like me, deflect invite texts sent by said weird ‘gay’ fetishy bloke, and finally a very nice Strada meal & drink with a friend ), but I’m just kinda uninspired… with exception of the fact that my workmate Bernie sent me this pic yesterday:

 

 

Upon which I recalled a friend’s cat who always drink from the kitchen tap & Elfys fab sink-pic of her cat, so I had to go to google images and input ‘Cat’ and ‘Sink’, getting some prime pics:


 Collapse )Collapse )


Hopefully that might put a smile on today!  :-)



*with a small apology to those for whome images of cats does nothing ~ feel free to bypass!

 

Slacktivism

A friend put up a link to a marvellous (& somewhat dry) blog regarding hyped up 'breast cancer awareness' games on FB - i.e. the ones where you post something obscure which is to refer to your handbag/underwear colour or sexual preference (this somehow expected to mysteriously affect men so much they'll want to engage in the cause... surely? although men don't even pay attention to their own testicular cancer, which understandably would/should be more important for them).

But this post is on the surfaced word 'slacktivism'

"describes "feel-good" measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the slacktivist."

I am without doubt guilty of this... Was I always guilty of this? Yes. I had spells of giving money to Greenpeace & vague intentions to be active in Amnesty (but never did). My active involvement has been giving money, signing petitions, spreading the word about petitions &… nothing more. But in that there are two strong factors: I have serious, personal doubts marching has any effect. Secondly: I really, really sincerely, hand on heart, absolutely honestly, have no time. When work stresses you so much you have heart palpitations (as it did two years ago), then it is somehow hard to find time to be involved in someone’s dire situation in a distant country elsewhere, even though I fully well know their situation is much much worse than mine... It's not that I don’t understand my problems are paltry in comparison – it’s that all of my to-do/ to-prepare-for wraps me up nevertheless. And the little left is time I need as down time, slacker time, thinking/digesting time. Perhaps if I felt I could have a true effect, that it wasn’t a pouring into the bottomless well of cyclic unevolved humanity (be it human slavery, torture & abuse/usage etc), it would be different? Homing a homeless cat = that's hands on, something I can do, giving instant result (granted: I want a cat so we're not really talking a sacrifice here..)

But they are all excuses - it’s the endlessness of causes that deters the most. The non stop misuse and outer world coldness that exhausts the soul; just reading makes your heart tired & ready to drop out of the chest.

At the same time though: you can sort of marvel at people who can’t even find the energy to put a signature to a web petition. Granted, perhaps not every day, but surely, once a week the two minute process cannot cost that much? And with the change of heart on the forest sale, it does seem to occasionally have a true effect.

Upon which: this link is to a cause close to my heart ~ bear bile milking. Please sign if willing to; bears have not only been killed as trophes far more than for the need of meat, but also been for centuries made to dance, fight & wilt away in cages for our entertainment. But sign it mostly because China is likely to care more & more about its image in the world now - so this is a good time & place to say no. The upswing of Chinese traditional medicin is harvesting the body parts of every rare breed left on the planet. These are petitions we can’t afford not to sign as the newly rich/middle class of China cries out for luxury goods & mythical fix it all drugs. If we don't they'll continue treating animals of this earth as theirs alone to harvest.

'Slacktivism' it is – yes – but sincerely: it's better than nothing.

Seriously & lovingly yours ~  Anki Wikman.

Ps. I am, btw, so not getting into my Lycos email account currently, so hold off emails to me this week.
 

Gothic birds..


 This curious & intriguing link has been popping up on FB the past couple of days  ~ & is certainly worth a peruse whilst having a cup of tea.  :-)

http://www.cracked.com/article_19042_6-terrifying-ways-crows-are-way-smarter-than-you-think_p2.html

It has reminded me of the tales of my paternal grandmother; a lady who I never got to know as she died when I was only three. The tales are many about her however as she comes from a strand of ancestors reputed to be 'gifted' - Ellen Ingeborg (as was her name) had the intuitive talent of knowing when people was about to come to visit. She heard what in the nordic countries is called 'fore-steps', i.e. sounds of steps on the veranda before a visitor arrived. The tale goes she would instruct member of the family to put the kettle on the stove as 'such & such' was coming. And apparantly she was never wrong...

But the tale of the crows is a different one. High up in the harsh, mountain & pine adorned north of Sweden there's never been a phletora of wildlife (aside from moose & bear!). Besides the cat, my grandmother used to feed the magpies & crows around the pretty majestic, big wooden red house. Her & the birds formed such a strong bond, that on the rare occasion when she left the house to wander down to the village shop, the birds would insist to come along, flying overhead. But ~ this the curious part ~ my grandmother used to stop, wave at them & tell them that they could not follow, that they should head back.  The tale goes, that the birds obeyed her every time...

~ There, a little slice of intriguing nordic mysteries for you, in this grey start of March!  ;-)

The Big Companies that most certainly aren’t ‘in this together’…


There's been on-off mentionings in the news of great companies evading tax, so I re-searched web as to the worst companies.& found this article:  http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/tax/article.html?in_article_id=521644&in_page_id=11#ixzz1DYMu1Rim

But the quick list as to the worst offenders are:

Total number of subsidiaries in tax havens*

Shell - 47
HSBC - 62
BP - 85
Vodafone - 50
Glaxo - 13
Rio - 18
BHP - 24
British American Tobacco - 41
Lloyds Banking Group - 135
Unilever - 5
RBS - 121
Xstrata - 7
Barclays - 298
Diageo - 7
BG Group - 10
Tesco - 40
Standard Chartered - 37
Anglo-American - figures unavailable
SAB Miller - figures unavailable
Astrazeneca - 3

Total - 1003

*Tax havens analysed: Cayman Islands, Jersey and Guernsey, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos Islands, Luxembourg, Vanuatua, Mauritius, Malta, Cyprus, Nauru, Monaco, Panama and Liechtenstein.'

~ For me this means I have conclusively the incentive to close my Barclay account & start a Co-op one; I’ll make sure to quote the article in my last email to them... 

As for ceasing to shop food in Tesco, this will be considerably harder: it’s the nearest shop to me.
And the forced, american style ‘how are you’ chit chat that Sainbury insist their till-staff should engage in, still makes me shudder…

 


peek a boo!

Hey, Happy Valentine ~ yes: to you guys!


It’s that day of the year that has a good third of the population about as depressed as they were at Christmas. Well, no – probably only half of that third, because hand on heart, the prospect to force up feelings on a day where you may not feel it (or even fancy sex) & sit next to other couples in restaurant acting just as forced because they’ve come from work & are far more stressed than feeling romantic… then, really, this is a moment for a sigh of relief!

I am a happy single. But it’s taken me long to get there; to cherish my own mindset & company. To not feel the lack or a void of something. That said, as most of my friends know, I desire a family, so although I am untroubled by the romance of today there are other days when I feel the pang & wonder what the future hold.

 But, to take the edge of any seriousness of today, I found some vintage valentine cards on the net that amused me. I cherish you all: for the comments you make, for the smiles you bring to my face, & the chuckles you bring out of me. For the year that’s been & the interaction I’ve had with you here and in clubs, don’t think every little contribution did not matter = they're little beams of light that pierce the gloomiest of days & light up existence ~ & sometimes even make me dance. So, from me to you, a friend’s Valentine: you are cherished!

 


Ps. I got confirmed who Donovan is this weekend. I was only introduced a couple of times, but the pics and stories I've seen the past days has made me really sad I didn't get to know him better. I'm so sorry for your loss guys - even more sorry someone with such a friendly spirit is now gone. XXX

Only for prospective Boaters! :-)

 I've had a fair few prods now from people to share some of the basics of living on boats & boat buying. Recalling well the struggle I had to find comprehensive information on the web when I attempted to research, I can fully appreciate the need! So, to give you all a good starting point, I have compiled a 'basics' under the cut. It's mostly centered on choosing boat & boat purchase tips - it's harder to give an overview on boat living as all boats are kitted with different electrical/heating/toilet systems, so this part is briefer but you can naturally come up to me in clubs and ask questions. But I hope I can provide a good starting point for you!

So get yourself a cup of tea, here goes:

Collapse )
Prohibition night

Promise kept :-)

This Monday the kittens left... and I found myself in a suddenly very empty boat, but at least (after some texts) reassured they were happy to be back with their owner (which we'd briefly had had some doubts about.. or at least the not so cat-friendly estate he was living in).

But a few wanted pics, so here's a glimpse of the brief four-legged glory that was my kitten lodgers:



If you don't fall for Ms Ollie, you're made of stone.....



..and the key ring she somehow managed to locate & drop by my feet to signal my boat was seriously lacking in cat toys... ;-)



Shy Mickey takes an elegant pose...

And a handful more under cut:

Collapse )
 
In a good mood

*blushing* (correction post)

*laughing & blushing* Sorry for the cliff-hanger! LJ kept doing funny stuff with my post, & then work applied it’s ‘10am sharp’ block ~ so all I could do was see the comments come in with no ability to log on. Right, here’s the full story:

Yesterday was not a good day... :-(
 
Catching up with emails last Monday at work , I was greeted by this email from the cat shelter I’m currently focused on:  

Hi,

Gemma (this the foster carer of one of the cats I visited) said that you were looking at lots of  cats so I don't think it will be worth my while in visiting you if you are going to take a cat from somewhere else.


I was somewhat bewildered. Was it just me, or had I just been snubbed? Was I expected to show loyalty to one cattery alone? I felt a bit like I’d joined a dating site and received an email from them after two months stating, well, hey, if you haven’t picked a boyfriend from us in this time then you’re clearly not really interested & we’re deleting your account. Woooooo!?

But I attempted to respond with patience. And this - the first occasion - it uprighted itself: she responded reason for her email was that she had very little time to give so would I be ok to pick a cat first, & then she’ll come & do a home visit? Sure, I replied. At that point thinking (generously, as you do) that it was just a misunderstanding.

Collapse ) So this week she sent an email suggesting a number of cats. ‘Cool’, I thought, ‘but I’d be a bit more specific to get the right cat’, so I wrote back that I may have a child in the future or / and a second cat, so perhaps some of these cats would fall out naturally as not suitable for those scenarios?

Upon which I got the following response: 

‘I think if you are thinking of having a baby in the near future then it would probably be best not to have a cat.  I can't imagine that there would be many quite places on a narrow boat that a cat could hide in if it needed to get away from the noise of the baby.  A  lot of the rescue cats we get have been through a lot and I don't think that they would be able to cope.’

 … when I got that air just went out of me & for once I did something I rarely do: I left the fight.

I wrote to her I withdrew my application. I just can't deal anymore with shelters treating my openess as an instant opportunity to turn me down. Yesterday it really felt that to get a cat from the shelters I’d be better off a/ lying and b/ keep my mouth shut on everything. So yesterday ended on a depressed note… 

On good side at least, Stefy ( thank God for her!) has invited me to a pool, sauna, yoga session followed by dinner tonight. I’ve been looking forward to it all week & now... I really need it.  :-/
 

O…here we go again…

Yesterday was not a good day... :-(

Catching up with emails last Monday at work , I was greeted by this email from the cat shelter I’m currently focused on:  

Hi,

Gemma (this the foster carer of one of the cats I visited) said that you were looking at lots of  cats so I don't think it will be worth my while in visiting you if you are going to take a cat from somewhere else.

I was somewhat bewildered. Was it just me, or had I just been snubbed? Was I expected to show loyalty to one cattery alone? I felt a bit like I’d joined a dating site and received an email from them after two months stating, well, hey, if you haven’t picked a boyfriend from us in this time then you’re clearly not really interested & we’re deleting your account. Woooooo!?

But I attempted to respond with patience. And this - the first occasion - it uprighted itself: she responded reason for her email was that she had very little time to give so would I be ok to pick a cat first, & then she’ll come & do a home visit? Sure, I replied. At that point thinking (generously, as you do) that it was just a misunderstanding.

Since then I’ve done two home visits of cats – one in Pimlico, the other in Kentish town - before the kitten-emergency paused all progress. I’ve also battled through torrential rain to Battersea ( which turned out to be quite a distance from nearest tube & a two-security-gate-enforced bastion looking worryingly set as if about to take on a riot of animal haters) to sign with them. But that’s an aside: my focus has been with Paws for Life & to get a cat from them primarily.

I’ve also strained to keep an optimistic tone in all my emails to this woman, since I was possibly trying her patience a bit with wanting to visit the cats first (*clearly here also here a bit wary since that email-battle I experienced three years ago with Mayhew in order to get Happy).

So this week she sent an email suggesting a number of cats. ‘Cool’, I thought, ‘but I’d be a bit more specific to get the right cat’, so I wrote back that I may have a child in the future or / and a second cat, so perhaps some of these cats would fall out naturally as not suitable for those scenarios?

Upon which I got the following response: