Archive for the ‘resource management’ Category

Reading, Seemingly on a Theme

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

I just finished ” The Tenth Circle” by Jodi Piccoult and am now about to take up another as the book club I belong to here has a couple of others currently on the shelves. This club, quaintly called The New English Book Club (no-one knows if the old one still exists…) is more of a travelling private library, really. It has stood the test of time, being formed about 30 years ago when books in english were difficult and very expensive to get here, while at the same time there were and still are, many Anglo Uruguayans plus a steady stream of expats coming and going who also read and enjoyed english. One interesting membership feature is that the number has been capped at 25, pretty well the maximum any house could accomodate if everyone turns up on the one day! Half the membership is reserved for Uruguayan nationals and the other half available to ‘transients’ as people like me are termed. Socially it is a tremendous point of contact for newbies and locals alike, each benefit, and in the several years I have belonged I have found these women to be not only great friends but a huge source of information on all aspects of life here. Transients come and go, but the locals never relinquish their membership (only one involuntary ‘resignation’ has occurred since I joined 5-6 years back) and with the median age of the local/permanent members around the mid 70’s ! it can be said that these girls have lived through all of Uruguay’s modern history, so discussions get onto some very interesting topics, although generally carefully steered away from the difficulties of the still fairly recent military dicatorship and current politics, which for some, are also very difficult. However, that still leaves religion and sex to talk about…. The several hundred books are sorted into the major categories popular with the members (romance, mystery and crime, good modern fiction, non fiction, short stories and ‘lighter, aeroplane paperback novels’ ) and move every month to a different member’s house. The wooden boxes in which they travel are designed to tip up onto one side and stack on top of each other in an ingenious arrangement forming a temporary bookcase, resting atop of a row of wooden stools (which also travel with them) . During the month the member hosts the fortnightly morning coffee gatherings at which we all hand in our current books and select new titles. We all pay US$25 per quarter to provide new books, ordered in a couple of times per year from the best seller and publishers lists in UK and USA. We then auction off those books which have either been on the shelf 2-3 years or, occasionally,which have just not appealed or lived up to their promise. These we pay for in pesos, and thereby fund the carrier(fletes) to move the books each month, have a catered end of year lunch and make donations to one or two local causes per year. But I digressed – I meant to comment that the story of The Tenth Circle is built around there being one additional circle of hell in addition to Dante’s nine, all of which relates to the afterlife, of course. Despite the fact that I love murder mysteries and anything to do with forensic investigations and profiling, etc, I am not intending to plunge off into a focus on life after death. (DH and I have already made known our wishes for cremation when our times come.) And yet, the following items may seem to have made this a theme for this month:

I read this morning’s online edition of my fav Aus newspaper the following intriguing item:
Grave concerns as Chinese cities run short of burial space Property The Australian
The kernel of the piece is that traditional belief that the peaceful repose of the soul after death requires actual interment in a grave. Presumably a second best alternative, burial at sea or in a river is being subsidised by the goverment of one large city as trading in the costly cemetry plots around that and other cities points to the pressure of shortage of arable land as China’s rapidly growing cities enroach on surrounding countryside.

While still in bed this morning, I had been watching a BBC World item on how methane gas harvested from a rubbish dump (coincidentally also in China) was a small but potentially significant contribution to the carbon credits balance through the electricity it provided to several thousand homes.

Juxtaposing these two items, and taking into account the changing composition of the Earth’s atmospheric gases today, and the whole phenomenon of our changing patterns of climate, led me to wonder, which is more carbon efficient, burial or cremation? Perhaps there’s a quilt or a series in this….

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