Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Wicklow Mountains


The stark landscape that lies between us and the sea.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Local currency


Wealth used to mean something you could directly use – food, tools, land. Later gold came to symbolise that wealth, paper notes came to symbolise gold, computer digits came to represent notes … until we get to Wall Street credit-default-swap derivatives, in which hundreds of billions of theoretical dollars can evaporate overnight without ever really existing.

As time goes on and the arcane world of globalised finance breaks down, we might have to rein in our wealth and return it to some tangible form. One way of doing this is to create a local currency, used only in your town or county.

Local currencies can be based on anything, just like national money. If we in County Kildare agreed to begin a local currency – say, the “Dara” – it could stand for one sack of potatoes, one kilo of wheat, one hour of labour, or whatever we choose. Such currencies were common in the 1700s and 1800s, and towns like Cloughjordan in County Tipperary are now considering returning to a local currency like they had 150 years ago.

Such currencies can be a way of keeping the wealth circulating locally, by putting it in a form that cannot be used outside of the local area. If all businesses in town are using the euro, then an international corporate chain could be sucking money out of the local area – by definition, if it is making a profit here, it is taking more money out than it is putting in.

If local businesses agree to use the local currency, though, they are encouraged to patrionise each other’s shops, and keep the money jumping from one person to another without ever leaving town. Money can enter the area through residents’ salaries or wages, but far less of it goes out again. This is one reason certain immigrant groups have thrived -- one study I read showed that Chinese-Americans used each others' small businesses so much that money circulated six times in their community before leaving.

Once currencies are established, local communities could extend the financial infrastructure with local banks or stock exchanges. The latter could be stock markets in the traditional sense – opportunities for local people to share the risks and rewards of their local businesses.

These ideas may seem exotic, but they were done before in Ireland, and can be again. Such local resilience would help in situations like the bank collapses last fall, and ensure that if anything happened to the global money supply, we would have a local back-up.

Photo courtesy of www.numismotography.com.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Woodpile



This is one of three. Personally, I think we have enough. What do you, the viewers at home, think?

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Updates

The Girl and I drove to our land today, where we are building our home. Work is progressing swiftly -- one advantage of building during a bursting bubble is that the builders are not busy. The roof beams are up, the underroofing covers the structure, and the slates are half on. We hope to be in by Christmas.

The Girl and I scattered radish seeds around the back of our property, hoping they would offer an abundant crop. We already have a forest garden in the shade of the copse, with blueberries, strawberries and many other plants under the hazels. My mother-in-law suggested we get a broom-plant, which is native to these marshy soils and fixes the nitrogen the other plants will need. She also suggested replacing the grass with clover, which will not need to be mown as often and will also fix nitrogen -- an excellent idea.

We talked about other plants we could have, bee-plants that would retain their flowers early in spring or into the winter darkness. I always wanted a flytrap, both as pest control and for entertainment value. They are native to swamps, so should probably do well with our soil. I always check myself before bringing in plants from alien bioregions, but this will be in a pot, and as it is native to the Okeefenokee, I don't see it overrunning Ireland.

Most of you know that we had to build our house where the garden once stood, due to local ordinance, so we had to take down our greenhouse and garden beds. The earth from the beds, which my mother-in-law built up over years of composting, is now in a giant pile of earth while the house is being built. When it was first shoveled to one side it was a four-metre-tall pile of bare earth, and was quickly covered with weeds that have now gone to seed. any suggestions for not getting seed-infested garden soil?

While we were there The Girl and I swept out the shed in the back corner of the property, where we have our food stores, and snacked on the mint that is now growing rampant over the giant earth piles.

Finally, we travelled to all the nearby villages - Timahoe, Prosperous, Rathangan, Kilkullen -- and put up dozens of flyers for the Luka Bloom concert, now only five days away.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Luka Bloom to play free concert for us


The latest news from FADA: Luka Bloom, the well-known Irish folksinger, has offered to perform a concert to benefit our group, and we’ve lined up a venue for him in Newbridge, County Kildare on Oct. 1.

In his 15 albums over the last 21 years, Bloom – a Newbridge native and brother of famed singer Christy Moore -- has become one of the most famous names in Irish folk music at home and around the world.

FADA has worked with some moderately well-known people in the past – one of our members, Padraic Dunne, did a radio show a while back with Rob Hopkins of the Transition Town movement, and Irish television personality Eddie Hobbs gave a talk for us, and Duncan Stewart – host of the programme “Eco Eye,” on national Irish television – spoke at our first big event. Never, though, have we worked with a well-known musician.

We have been selling tickets and putting up posters all over the area, but we have a lot more to sell – so if you happen to live anywhere close to us, please e-mail me.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

More music

From the Bia Linn opening back in July. Just a snippet, used with permission.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Stone bridge


Between the twin towns of Ballina and Killalloo, County Clare. It's a one-lane bridge for cars -- a traffic light lets lines of cars through in turns.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Preparing for autumn


This past weekend was amazingly sunny and pleasant for this time of year, but we are approaching the official end of summer, time to harvest the year’s abundance.

Most gardeners will be flush with certain crops right now, you probably want to preserve them as much as possible. Can, freeze or dry your tomatoes, ferment or pickle your cucumbers, Freeze or dry your courgettes and marrow (zucchini to Americans). Beans and peas can be dried, salted or frozen for food during the winter. All over the hedgerows here the brambles are erupting with blackberries, which can be made into jam to provide Vitamin C during the winter months.

Some plants can be left in the ground all winter – parsnips, for example, can merely be left in and collected as they are needed. Cruciferous vegetables like kale or mangold can be left all winter, its outermost leaves collected a few at a time.

Most gardeners dig up their potatoes for winter, but they can be kept in root cellars. Farmers used to pile up potatoes and cover the pile with earth and straw, with only a short, wide tube poking through at the top to allow the potatoes to breathe. You can keep most root vegetables in boxes of sand in the basement – carrots, beetroot, turnips – and they will usually keep all winter, longer than they would in the refrigerator.

This is also a good time of year to stock up for emergencies or lean times. You can fill shelves in your basement with dried pasta, beans, peas, lentils and other staples, as well as non-edible things like toilet paper. Calculate how much you and the others in your family might eat in a day -- using the trinity of starch (pasta, rice, bread), protein (beans, peas, lentils) and vegetables -- and then plan your meals accordingly.

Finally, if you don’t already cook, this is the best time to learn, to know what to do with all that surplus. You don’t need to do what the celebrity chefs do on television – just know how to assemble starch, protein and vegetables into a meal everyone will eat.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Conversations on the train at night



The Girl and I rode the night train across the middle of America. She dressed for a Missouri summer, but the train was kept frigid, so she wore two of my shirts over her sun dress. Drifting but not yet sleeping, she idly coloured the papers scattered on the seat trays, and the teenager across the aisle leaned over and spoke in low tones.

“Hey, you mind if I ask you a question?” His name was Allen, he had said earlier when we introduced ourselves.

Sure, I said.

“You seem like you have a really good relationship with your daughter ... like you guys do a lot together.”

Thank you very much, I said smiling. We don’t always, but on this trip we’ve gotten a lot of time.

“Well, I ask because my girlfriend and I are thinking about having a baby, and I want to get advice from about what we should do. We think sixteen is old enough to have a baby, and we really want one, but we want to do it right.”

Well ... first of all, I said, I think you’re doing exactly the right thing in asking people and not rushing into it. Right there, as a teenager, you’re showing better judgement than some people a lot older than you.

So I asked some questions. How long have you been together? Do you both work? What kind of family do you have around? Do you have any experience with children? What would you like to do eventually, and what does your girlfriend want?

He was very forthcoming – he and his girlfriend have been together a couple of years now, since they were fourteen. They both come from broken homes and have limited education, but they love each other, and they have relatives. He works hard, he said, and thinks he can support them.

You seem like you really want to do the right thing, I told him, so I’ll be honest with you – my advice would be to wait.

I gave him my reasons. Because if you don’t want to repeat the patterns of your parents, I said, you’re better off with more experience behind you. Because children of teenagers are more likely to have problems – not always, but more often. Because people should see some of the world while they can, and it’s harder with a child.

Because I expect the coming years to have a lot of unexpected problems, and if you lose your job, or one of you gets sick, it could make life harder for your child, and the world is already full of hungry children. You know how many people there are in the world now?

“Um ... thirty trillion?” he asked gravely.

Not that many, I said – it’s seven billion – but a lot of them are already going hungry, and many of those are children.

“I know if we have a child, I will really do everything I can to take care of it,” he said.

You seem like you really want to, I said – but no matter how sure you feel inside, you need to be in a really secure situation. And waiting probably won’t do any harm.

He digested this solemnly. “So you think we would hurt our child by having it now?”

None of us can know what will happen either way, I said. I’m just saying it seems riskier now, and there would seem less risk in waiting. Whenever you have a baby, though, break your parents’ cycle, and be the best Dad you can.

“I will.”

We talked a lot more, and when we arrived at our stop and before I picked up a suitcase and sleeping Girl, we shook hands. “Thanks, mister,” he said.

Bless you, Allen. I’ll be thinking of you.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Come on then John

This is one of the local folk musicians who played at the opening of Bia Linn garden back in July. The guitarist, Rubber Keogh, began his set just as the rain began, and you can see it in the background.

The song, by the way, is for young people about to leave childhood behind and work in the mines:

Schooldays over, come on then John,
time to be gettin' your pit boots on
On with your sark and moleskin trousers,
time you were on your way
Time you were learning the pitman's job and
earning the pitman's pay

Come on then Jim, it’s time to go,
time you were working down below
Time to be handling a pick and a shovel you
start at the pits today
Time you were learning the collier’s job and
earning the collier’s pay

Come on then Dai, it’s almost light,
time you were off to the anthracite
The morning mist is on the valley, it’s
time you were on your way
Time you were learning the miner’s job and
earning the miner’s pay

Schooldays over, come on then John,
time to be gettin’ your pit boots on
On with your sark and moleskin trousers, it’s
time you were on your way
Time you were learning the pitman’s job and
earning the pitman’s pay

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Rapids


Streams pour over the glacial boulders of the Wicklow Mountains.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

The Girl


"I like tsunami best," The Girl said, apparently in reference to an earlier conversation.

For what? I asked.

"It's my favourite flavour."

Okee-dokey, I said. What does tsunami taste like?

"Quite salty."

I imagine so. So, what do you like tsunami-flavoured?

"Pizza. I like it with tsunami and cheese."

Friday, 11 September 2009

Remembrance

Eight years ago today I had just quit my daily newspaper job, frustrated that they did not want to publish the things I wanted to write about. I was volunteering with the Greens, the only group concerned with peak energy or reviving local agriculture, and working at a warehouse in Minnesota.

As we carpooled to our shift that morning, we heard on the radio that a plane had hit the World Trade Centre, but we were not sure how serious it was -- there were no details at first, and I knew a small plane had once hit the Empire State Building. News of a second plane, of course, told us what was happening.

That morning, I silently held a co-worker whose father was supposed to have been on one of the flights – he wasn’t. We turned on the television in the break room and watched the towers fall like candles melting in fast-forward. We heard about the Pentagon.

At lunch I wrote these words and sent them to my Green friends:

We awoke to a different world Tuesday morning. Like all Americans, we have spent hours with our families and co-workers around the radio and television; we have mourned the loss of friends and acquaintances; we bowed our heads silently in memory of the dead.

This is a crucial moment for the American people. National crises usually lead governments to justify expanded military powers, greater prejudice, less liberty and equally vain attacks on innocent subjects of other governments. We must stand for a higher principle and not remake ourselves in the image of our enemies.

Rather than resume our routines passively and fearfully, we call on Greens and all Americans to organize their friends and neighbors for the common good; to donate blood for the wounded; to do chores for neighbors in mourning; and to continue fighting the poverty and injustice that has not gone away.


I regret to say those predictions held up pretty well over the next several years. In the next few months many people were obsessed with conspiracy theories, anthrax, extreme nationalism, anti-Arab prejudice, and palpable fear, which have mercifully abated as life went on.

Eight years later we have made County Kildare our home, and I read in the local paper that Catholic and Protestants will hold a joint service today at the 9-11 memorial in Donadea Forest. People here were moved to commemorate that tragedy with a two-metre-high replica of the World Trade Centre in the middle of the woods, engraved with the names of the dead. They planted an ash grove in a clearing to remember the event, and named a road through the forest after a local man who died that day. (Remember that most roads, even major ones, don’t have names here.) They even refer to it as 9-11, even though of course over here, September 11 would ordinarily be written 11-9.

To Americans who have heard 9-11 invoked with manipulative frequency, perhaps one more tribute is white noise. But how many American counties put up monuments to the 3,500 who died in the Irish Troubles? True, their deaths were a trickle over thirty years rather than a single televised event, but that also means an entire population lived with a tangible terrorist threat as most Americans – even after 9-11 – have not. And Ireland has only one percent of the USA’s population – the toll would be equivalent to 300,000 Americans.

But Ireland had it easy compared to most places. How many of us take a day to commemorate the millions who died in Rwanda? Or to the tens of millions who died under Mao Tse-Tung? Or the several thousand who were killed on September 11, 2001 by hunger in the Third World, and the several thousand more who similarly died every day before and since?

Let me also note that such services here would seem simple and strangely apolitical to most Americans. It would not occur to most people here to connect the attacks with the federal government’s invasion of Iraq, which is recognized as being unconnected. There will likely be no Lee Greenwood songs, no air shows, no pyrotechnics. Instead, neighbours will pray together in the woods, which always seemed to me the most appropriate place for prayer.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Last bluebells


Bluebell season is over now, but I still have this photo -- the last I will see of them for several months.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Landing in America

We landed in Minneapolis after a long and rocky 12 hours of flying and layovers, and the Girl and I were anxious to get to our friends’ house in Minneapolis and rest. So, as planned, I called them to tell them our plane had landed.

Plan A: Call them on my mobile phone. Unfortunately, it was not working with US networks as it was supposed to.

Plan B: Use a pay phone. Unfortunately, it needed US quarters, and I hadn’t had a chance to exchange the currency.

Plan C: Use a credit card to call. No, the operator asked for a zip code, and I don’t have one, nor does Ireland have any postal codes.

Plan D: Take the light rail – Minneapolis has a great rail line, which goes straight from the airport to within a few blocks of my friends’ house. No, this was the weekend it was closed for repairs after an accident.

Plan E: Take the bus -- but the bus lines were working around the light rail repair, and the route would have been rather complicated.

Plan F: Oh forget it, I’ll take a taxi.

Take me to 115th Avenue and 135th Street, I said as I loaded the suitcase and A Very Patient Girl into the taxi. (Address made up for purposes of publication.)

“Can I have an address?” said the driver, whose command of English was not the best.

One Hundred and Fifteenth Avenue and One Hundred and Thirty-Fifth Street, I said. That corner.

“I need an address,” he said, and I realized he had to punch the numbers into a central computer and get directions dictated to him. I made up something that would get us close.

After a few minutes of driving, I realized that he was not only new to Minneapolis and America, but apparently driving, and would pause hesitantly, panicked, at stop signs, going over a mental checklist of what to do. He began wandering around the suburban roads, lost.

Knowing he was a recent immigrant and that it could not be easy for him -- and that his English was much better than my Somali -- I tried to stay patient and diplomatic, and not shout:

IT'S. A. GRID. The streets are straight and follow compass directions. They are numbered in sequential order. It can’t get easier.

It was left to the five-year-old from a different continent to shout from the back,

“Papa, we’ve passed that house before.”

“Are we going in circles?”

“We should have been there by now!”

Eventually, we got there. I paid him what it should have cost us.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Monday, 7 September 2009

Notes from America

Our visit to America served many purposes. We visited family and friends in Missouri, including elderly relatives who have always been central to my life, and are now in their eighties. I went shopping in the Land of Cheap Stuff, wearing the rattiest clothes possible there and returning with new clothes, shoes and laptop.

I spent an amazing week with old and beloved friends -- many of whom have their own children, whom The Girl loves to see. And I gave two talks in the Twin Cities on what the future might look like.

I gave one talk at the Walker Methodist Church in Minneapolis -- which I knew well, and spoke at several years ago when I lived in Minnesota -- and another two nights later at MacAlester College in St. Paul. The audience was attentive and asked a good range of questions on both nights, and part of the Walker talk was broadcast on public radio.

That weekend I also met with a group trying to start Transition-style organisations – a great bunch of Midwestern neighbours, each with their own stories of how they came to realize that we all faced a time of crisis, and found each other. There must be a hundred times as many people out there who feel like they’re the only ones. Some people I meet confide that they are hot-composting, raising chickens, making their own ethanol and so on, but don’t broadcast it – only a fraction of this movement can be seen above the surface.

Thank you all to the people who helped publicise the talks and those who helped organise the events. Thanks to everyone who came, who listened, who questioned. I hope to be back next year, and perhaps speak in multiple cities – until then, keep in touch.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

First day


Should she stay home? I wondered. Homeschooling works well for some, and I don’t want her to be swept away in a mob of influence, a world of preadolescent marketing. I don’t want her to be warehoused as I was.

On the other hand, schools here seem superior to those I went through, we like her teacher, and she craves the company of other children – and we live out in the country. She can always begin staying home next month, next year, in five years, if she needs it – and in the meantime I can keep teaching, including things schools don't teach.

In any case, The Girl walked into her first day pleased and unperturbed.

Friday, 4 September 2009

An Open Letter to Amtrak


Dear Sir or Madam:

When I visited my native USA this summer, I needed to take my daughter from Minnesota to Missouri, a thousand-mile trek across the Heartland. I decided to use Amtrak, and wanted to share with you my perceptions of the journey.

I wanted to avoid driving for several reasons. I didn’t want to strap a five-year-old into a car seat for 12 hours, or be forced to stop at numerous roadside franchises designed to sell movie promotional toys and congealed pseudo-food. I remembered the last time we made the journey, when a kamikaze deer smashed our rental car and left us stranded on the Iowa highway. Most of all, though, I wanted to see how easily one could journey halfway down the length of America without a car.

Let me start by noting that everyone I dealt with at Amtrak was courteous and helpful, even funny. As superior as the European trains are, their staff would be less likely to make friendly conversation as they processed our ticket, or smile as they gave us directions. A European conductor might be less likely to stop by especially to check on my daughter, or to announce after an empty small-town night stop, “Folks, that was Dwight, Illinois, and we hope that was as exciting for you as it was for us.”

The staff’s best efforts could not make the train ride a pleasant experience, though. We showed up at 7 am for our 7:45 train – the only train going to our destination that day -- which showed up at 8:30. The delays only increased as the day progressed, and we finally arrived in Chicago two hours late, missing our connecting train. We finally reached Alton, Illinois in the small hours of the morning, long after we were supposed to arrive.

As my daughter played in the seats, she poked her leg on a metal corner, and I considered whether I needed to bring her to the emergency room for a tetanus shot. The toilets were miniscule and poorly ventilated. The only food available on the first, nine-hour leg was six cars up, I was not inclined to leave either a sleeping child or my belongings. The dining car on the second leg opened two hours late. The food that I could find was of vending-machine quality but three times as expensive.

It was a pleasant summer evening travelling from Chicago to St. Louis, but the cars were kept sufficiently frigid that the Russian immigrants in front of us complained loudly. Whether because of the food, the temperature or the stress, my daughter spent most of the next day vomiting.

A sixteen-hour plane trip, by contrast, would probably involve a few full meals, many snacks and a selection of movies. I don’t require an on-board masseuse or French waiters, but some accessible juice or pretzels would go a long way.

A more fundamental problem, which I know is out of your control, can be shown by a brief glance at the map on your web site: Amtrak has only a small number of lines that must stretch between two oceans and serve 300 million people.

Nearby towns that do have Amtrak lines are often inaccessible to each other, as the lines run parallel for hundreds of miles without meeting. For example, Denver, CO and La Junta, CO both have Amtrak lines and are 176 miles apart. But to get from one to the other by train, one must travel from Denver, Colorado to Galesburg, Illinois (!), 889 miles away, and then travel another 896 miles back to La Junta – a 1,785-mile trip in all.

Alternately, one could travel from Denver to San Francisco (1,266 miles), San Francisco to Los Angeles (381 miles) and Los Angeles to La Junta (1,115 miles) for a 2,762-mile journey – again, to travel 176 miles.

To use an example closer to my birthplace, Poplar Bluff, MO and Fulton, Kentucky are 117 miles apart, but to travel from one to the other would require an 858-mile trip to Chicago and back. Oklahoma City and Dodge City are 263 miles apart, but a train would have to take a 1,548-mile journey through Fort Worth and St. Louis to get from one to the other.

I estimated these figures by looking at the stops on your web site and Google-mapping the distances between cities, so the mileage may not be exact -- for Google’s directions, like everything else in America, assumes that you will drive. But you get the idea.

To understand how strange this is, consider my own home of Ireland. The Irish are not the most crisply efficient people on Earth, but their trains usually arrive once every half hour, and if they are five minutes late an outraged grumble ripples through the assembled commuters.

Cross-country trips – only the distance of a cross-state trip for us, of course – have fairly good food served in your car, comfortable seats, wireless service for laptops, and so on – and it is no more expensive than Amtrak per unit of distance, even though everything else in the country is two or three times more expensive.

Other European countries have even better service. When visiting Germany, I could tour major cities with a toddler, limited German and no car, through a series of national rail lines, urban trams, buses, subways, and sub-subways under the first set of subways.

A common response is that America is a much vaster country, so compare Ireland’s dozens of lines and stations with a US state about twice the size – say, Wisconsin, with one Amtrak line and two stops. Or compare vast to vast: Russia is larger than the United States, yet Russians travel 1,220 kilometres per person per year by train, while Americans have only 80 kilometres – behind Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Egypt.

You could argue that this indicates our prosperity, as more people can afford their own cars. But far fewer Americans had their own cars when there were more trains, indicating the opposite: that more people need to pay for cars because they have no rail service. Europeans often travel 10,000 percent more by trains than Americans do, and they are not necessarily less prosperous nations.

We used to be better. The golden spike in the transcontinental railroad looms large in our history books, and my country was once covered by a capillary network of lines that reached hundreds, if not thousands, of small towns. Visit or live in Missouri or Kansas towns, as I have, and you will often see a long-abandoned train station in the old town centre, tracks still visible under the grass. We deserve better, as a civilised nation and alleged superpower, than to live with so many new ruins.

Trains or streetcar networks once branched out inside cities as well – my grandparents met and fell in love on the St. Louis trolleys, around the time Judy Garland was singing an ode to them in the film Meet Me in St. Louis. The film was set in 1904 and made in 1944, so the trolleys had been around for decades at that point – but tragically, not for much longer. They and other streetcar lines were bought and destroyed by a coalition of oil, car and tire companies long ago – the companies were later found guilty of criminal conspiracy in federal court, and fined $5,000 each.

Recent rail lines in St. Louis and Minneapolis were built only after decades of fierce opposition, and critics unfavourably compared existing light rail lines to road use – without comparing it to a road that goes from point A to point B without meeting any other roads. I will also hear people claim that the trains are largely empty, without noting that the cars on the road are also largely empty. And if the stations in Minneapolis and Chicago were any indication, there are far more people clamouring to use even Amtrak than the stations can handle.

I realize I’m conflating the apples and oranges of heavy and light rail, Amtrak and streetcars. I realize I’m ranting about decisions that were made far above you or long ago. But I bring it up to show that I am sympathetic to your situation. I suspect your likeable and highly professional staff works very hard under difficult conditions and an insufficient budget – paid, I understand, not by taxes as roads and electric lines are, but on fares alone. I suspect you are considered, like the Postal Service, a vestigial bit of infrastructure in this era of frequent flyers and broadband, relegated to the poor, the elderly, nuns and the Amish, left to die of natural causes.

I think this is seriously misguided. Rail worked for us for decades, and today Third-World peasants can count on transportation freedoms that most Americans cannot. Every surge in the price of fuel, every dire warning about the climate's transformation, every new plunge in the economy makes Americans’ constant driving more difficult and rails more viable.

But if more of us are to travel by rail, we should be able to widely, with trains running many times a day to many destinations. Riding the train should be an experience people will seek out, and to which we will return.

I have used Amtrak before, and I expect I will again, so let me know who I can write to help change this. Feel free to pass it on to your head of projects, your CEO, the Secretary of Transportation, whoever you think appropriate.

And get that metal corner sanded off.

Top photo: Amtrak train (public domain)
Middle photo: Amtrak lines (each dot represents a station)
Bottom photo: Ireland, smaller than Wisconsin. Each dot represents a major city; individual stops not shown.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Tuesday, 1 September 2009