Saturday, 30 January 2010

Changes! Changes! Changes!

NOTE: I wrote and scheduled this post before I did the perm rod experiment so some things may seem out of sync. Sorry
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A recent comment to one of my non-hair posts cheekily asked me about my hair and what it was like now *grin*; I had assumed that the xmas pics were good enough to tide y'all over - but clearly not lol, so here's an update.

A New Fullness
When compared with my installation, my hair is looking much fuller. Is this due to pregnancy hormones or is it a result of 9 months of new growth and my hair relaxing into its locking pattern? I'd like to think it was the latter, but I have this niggling worry in the back of my mind that someday (someday after this baby has been born) my hair will fall out again and once again I'll look like a stickle brick or a hedgehog. I mean - after rocking full twistouts and curly fros for a few years - you can tell I wasn't feeling the skinny plaits on my head.

I did like the pliability of the baby locs, I could fold them around a curler for even as little as an hour and I'd have a wicked set. Braid outs and bantu knots were also a doddle. I had so many options and had to be careful because (it seemed as though) my hair strands were abandoning my head by the thousands! My hairline - particularly at the temples was especially fragile.



New Locs
Time, love and patience have allowed the fragile (baldy) bits to recover... and I now have a crop of 7 stubby locks (about 2 inches long?) on one side and a similar group on the other. Mostly these babies are kept hidden by creative styling *giggle*.

The main reason for me 'hiding' them is because they keep coming undone and it was a right pain to have a curly afro in the middle of the other locs... twisting them around eachother and then around more stable neighbouring locks has given them time to 'catch themselves' so they stay in their interlocked pattern and have a chance to grow (i.e. lock up).


Braiding
There was a while back (after this rant) that I plait all those baby locs in tiny braids just so they would stay - trust me, I was at the end of my tether with these guys. I really have to thank Nicole & Anthia-Ofo for recommending braiding. I was so convinced it was a 'no-no' because it would somehow 'negate' my SLs, but at the end of the day, it's my hair.  I paid for the installation and upkeep but ultimately it's attached to my head and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. So I did.  Things turned around after that :)

I also found myself braiding the loose ends, some locs had unravelled as much as 2/3rds  of the way (journeying from end to root) and it annoyed me, so I plait them.  I didn't do them all - I don't think I'm that anal, but some looked really crazy so they received a lil TLC. Bear in mind we're talking like 10 out of 454 locs here so in the grand scheme of things - hardly significant. I just wanted to mention it in case someone is reading who cannot get to a Consultant for a repair job and was wondering...



Matting, Bunching & Slipping
These have been my main bug bears throughout this journey. Well, that plus the dreaded hair loss lol!  You start out with perfectly uniform size 0 locs... and a couple of months later your head is full of mutants! Pole or Number 1 shaped loccies turn into figure 8s or 'qs and bs'.  Ends unravel or mysterious holes appear in the middle for seemingly no reason at all!



You learn to take it all in stride. You realise that you can't control your hair journey any more than you can control the weather. "It will do what it do". I used to really be in a panic about it - wondering if I was going to have a mix of skinny and thick locks, and I think SLers may worry a lil more than other lockers on account of the money we've invested in our heads -  but I've decided that it'll all work out in the end. I'm not the first to experience bunching and from looking at the blogs and fotkis of those who've gone before - in the end, it'll be all good - so, no more stressing for me.

Hair Care
Since my son likes to 'swing' on my locs (yes, he'll grab a fistful from each side of my head and lean back as far as he can go without falling!) I keep my hair covered as much as I can when I am at home (with HIM) and when I sleep.  Mind you, that swing test is a good myth buster for all those out there who think SLs are too small and will just break your hair.

I'm still using my loc soc but this one is getting a lil loose (lil man likes to pull this too) so I don't style it out of the house anymore.  I've considered satin pillow cases and bonnets but at the moment I am still far too lazy to be bothered. Why am I covering my hair - just to minimise the amount of lint/dust etc that can find its way into my locs. I also find that the soc helps my stubbies (baby locs) to lie flat - I really don't need to be walking around looking like a hedgehog.

I've also added fractionated coconut oil to my haircare routine - it's incredibly light. I mix it with sweet almond oil and apply a few drops to my scalp every now and then. So far so good.

Build Up
Not much of an issue anymore. I had that scenario where I found the dreaded white stuff stuck in a few locs mostly at the nape of my neck;  for me this was not helped by banding as the bands were preventing a thorough rinsing out of the shampoo etc; so I abandoned banding after 3 or 4 months. I still braid but I can't spend ages in the shower doing my hair when I've got little ones banging on the door, so I'm sorry but most days I just wash as normal (I can see some of you saying - that's probably why my ends have unravelled and you may be right - but what's done is done lol).  Of course, I don't recommend that SLers stop braiding and banding before their consultants advise them to - it was mine who suggested I stop, had she not mentioned it I'd probably still be a faithful SLer today *giggle*.



When I saw Chi from Hair by Chi back in December, he had soaked the offending locs in ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar ) and lovingly tended to my babies before styling. Ladies, this man is so tender with your locs you will not want to leave his chair! Plus the conversation is always either stimulating or hilarious (hahahah just thinking about it).

I've also learned that the key to avoiding/handling buildup is in the rinsing. Sure you can use clarifying shampoos if you like but I'm wary of using them (too much) because they really dry out the scalp and if you already have dry scalp you wanna avoid them like the plague. As regards rinsing, think of it this way. Imagine if you were not locked, you'd probably shampoo, rinse (once or twice) then repeat right? (Generally speaking). So in this case you wanna either dilute your shampoo or use smaller amounts - whatever you prefer (and I'm referring to co-washing with conditioners as well when I use the term 'shampoo').

Once you've lathered up, paying more attention to your scalp than the locs: if you're a faithful SLer or 'new age' traditional/braid lock rocker it's unlikely that you'll have much product in your hair so you don't need to slather the lather over the locs as much as you need to focus on cleaning your scalp. Fingertips (not fingernails) work just fine on your scalp to lift any muck off your head (remember to be gentle!) Gently squeeze, pat or smooth the lather down the length of your locs so they get their turn but try to avoid any scrubbing or vigorous rubbing motions - particularly if frizz is an issue for you.

When you've finished each braid or cluster of locs, rinse. Then rinse again. And again. And again. Basically you wanna rinse at least twice as much as you would have done with your previous hairstyle (i.e. permed, natural, whatever). If your hair can stand it, use the shower head and angle the jet appropriately so it gets to all the locs (especially the ones at the nape of the neck and all lower layers as the suds from the top locks are likely to be seeping into those underneath).

As much as this adds time to my hair washing routine, I can say without a doubt that it has been helping me keep the buildup at bay and so I'll be sticking with it. Let me know if it works for you.

Hairstyles
Hmmm, this post is getting too long so I'm about to wrap up - however, I did mention that I miss the pliability of my freshly installed days when I could leave curling rods on for as little as an hour and still be curl-tastic. Well, this is no longer the case.  The other day, I tried bantu knots overnight and I might as well have not bothered because one hour after taking them down in the morning, my hair was hanging straight again.  It's a shame cos the curl had looked wicked!   Same thing happened when I tried the flexi rods (wet set), the curls just aren't lasting.  Thinking back - my last braidout style probably worked because I'd had my braids in for about 3 days before taking them down... Hmmmm. Maybe I need to start using a setting lotion...

With my temples recovering, I've become more adventurous with my hairstyles as well - substituting a lot more flat twists, buns and ponytails for the everyday straight looking 'freestyle'. I'll try to post pics of these in later posts but y'all know how reluctant HRH is to take hair shots, so it'll have to be when my daughter has time to help me.

A tout a l'heure.

Love from London

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The Coil Review - Welcome to 2010

I just love this video!

http://vimeo.com/8574254


little bit more about the coil review
http://vimeo.com/5419739



For more about The Coil review as well as interesting articles and photo galleries - please visit their website.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Perm Rod Curls... Day 2 (Growing on me...)

This is a follow up to my last post.

The curls are growing on me: hair looks fuller (and shorter).
Photos taken by the Golden Girl - with the usual larky shot thrown in at the end.






Not a fan of the side shots though....




Monday, 25 January 2010

Perm Rod Curls... Day 1 (Not sure yet)

I came across a small bag of perm rods last night. I must have bought it during my early SL days (heheh listen to me talking like I am some big veteran!)

They're black and they said 'large' but they didn't look that large to me (sorry no pics). I'd washed my hair earlier in the day and it was still damp although I indulged in a good few sprays of more water because my last attempt at curling (with flexi rods) failed miserably and I really wanted this to work.

Dampened the hair, rolled the hair, a quick blast from my hair dryer to avoid that 'oh no it's morning and my hair's still damp' scenario and then I went to sleep. (I literally mean a quick blast because HRH was lying down next to me and as soon as I switched the dryer on he gave me a look that good have frozen the equator, so I put it away quickly... I figured my life was worth more than bone dry hair *grin*)

Woke up this morning, thankful for another day. The rods hadn't been that difficult to sleep in (covered of course by the trusty old loc soc) but I'm not sure I'd wanna sleep with them in my head every night. I mean - I'm not from East Enders.



I took them out this morning much to the amusement of HRH and Golden Girl (our growing princess). They both said something along the lines of :

"Hmmmm, that's different..."

I gotta catch the 7:20 train - who had time to do 'fix' it? So off I went like a poster girl for 'Curls R Us'. Unsurprisingly noone in the office noticed/said anything. (I told you where I work is soooooooo PC, they'd probably be afraid that I would sue them for some sort of racial profiling or something equally bizarre).

Looking in the bathroom mirror I did some uhmming and ahhhing of my own - I don't yet know if I do or don't like it - but I have to agree with the family... it IS different.

What do YOU think?


Yes,  I know I look tired... the young prince has been ill so there have been a series of sleepless nights (and changing vomit soaked clothing and sheets in the middle of the night really is no fun),  I've had the meanest cold on the planet, I'm anaemic and fat and pregnant and still have to go to work every day. (So show me some love :P)



Don't ask me what was going on with the left side (my right) of my head here... it just decided to do its own thing. Golden Girl thought it was funny and should be included.



Not so bad from this angle - maybe it'll look better tomorrow?

More on Haiti (Author Unknown)

Another interesting read, sent to me via email (Thanks Catherine).
I'm sharing not because I am anti-establishment or anti- a particular govt but because it was rather educational. Of course if it is not factual please comment with corrections etc.
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HAITI

The contention that the Voodoo religion is a serious factor in causing the misery of Haiti is a myth, and a pernicious myth at that.
Haiti, once called The Jewel of the Antilles, was the richest European colony in the entire world, richer than the colony of America .  Economists estimate that in the 1750s Haiti provided as much as 50% of the Gross National Product of France. The French imported sugar, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, cotton, indigo dye and other exotic products from Haiti . In France they were refined, packaged and sold all over Europe . Incredible fortunes were made from this tiny colony on the island of Hispaniola .
How could Haiti have once been the source of such wealth and today is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere ? How could this land that was once so productive, today be semi-barren? How did "The Jewel of the Antilles" become the Caribbean 's poorest.
ROOT CAUSES:
INTERNATIONAL FORCES
One of the primary reasons that Haiti was such a productively rich land was because of slave labour. Not only did the slaves work long days under tremendously unsafe conditions, with little or no technology beyond hand labour, but Haiti 's slave system was the most brutal in the Caribbean . Many documents of Western slavery explain that the ultimate threat to a run away slave is that they are going to Haiti or Jamaica .
Unfortunately for the masses of Haitians, slavery did not die with French rule... Rather, the basic concept of forced cheap labour was passed on to the emerging native Haitian elite. The French system allowed for some slaves to earn their freedom by exceptional work. This system worked well to get more productivity from the slaves, and the system was tough enough that very few slaves were able to earn their freedom.
A second group of slaves who became free were the mulattoes, the children of white masters and black slave women. These children were in a middle ground, uncomfortable to both slaves and whites. The slaves never knew how the white man would respond to his child, but often the slave owner didn't want to be reminded of his paternity. Thus mulattoes were not welcomed in either community. Many mulattoes received their freedom and formed a special middle class elite in the colonial period.
A special class of freed slaves emerged. About 1/2 of them were freed black slaves and about 1/2 of them were mulattoes. They could receive some education, operate businesses, own property and in general imitate the French.
This imitation of the French became the hallmark of these freedmen. They wanted a clear separation from their slave backgrounds. Thus they imitated the whites... They adopted their religion, language, dress, culture, education and ways.. But, most importantly for this story, they learned the value of slave labour. The colonial French heritage carried on in the Haitian elite's imitation of the French labour system. This is an important factor in Haiti 's later misery.
INTERNATIONAL BOYCOTT OF THE NEW HAITI .
After the Haitian revolution which concluded in January, 1804, Haiti became the first black Republic. The United States was still a slave nation, as was England and France . The U.S.A. and European nation  decided that Haiti 's model of a nation of freed black slaves was a dangerous precedent. Europe and the U.S.A. boycott of Haitian goods and commerce plunged the poor Haitian economy into chaos. Haiti had no Navy and these nations put a ring of ships around this tiny nation stopping import or export for years. They would for no reason bombard the island with cannons to make them an example.
It is difficult to measure the exact impact of this international conspiracy. Here was a nation of ex-slaves trying to rise to democratic self-rule, trying to run an economy in which the majority had only served as slaves before. The international boycott of Haitian products at this time was devastating for Haiti 's long-term economic development.

THE FRENCH DEBT OF 1838...

Black nations love to celebrate their Independence , but unless you fight for it over and over, all they got was Dependence.Trinidad , Barbados , Jamaica and some Africa countries paid what was called  indemnity fee to get Dependence from Europe .
In 1838 President Boyer of Haiti accepted a 150 million francdebt to pay this indemnity. Indemnities were paid for lands of former slave owners taken over after the revolution. For the roads and buildings that they use to make money. This debt plagued the economy of Haiti for over 80 years and was not finally paid until 1922. In the meantime Haiti paid many times over 150 million francs in interest on this debt. It is difficult to measure the incredible harm which this did to the Haitian economy.
THE UNITED STATES OCCUPATION OF 1915-1938
Perhaps the most serious blow Haiti ever had to her independence and self-image was the occupation of the United States Marines in 1915. The marines invaded and took over control of the island. Collection of revenues, the banks, land and property was now in the U.S.A. hands. The U.S.A. forced through a New "Haitian" Constitution which repealed the 1804 provision that foreigners could never own land in Haiti . The U.S. decided who would and would not be government worker. The U.S. rape the country of it’s resources. Since the U.S. administrators could not speak French, they abolish education for 90% of the population. It was a crime to read, just like blacks in the states.

POST WORLD WAR II UNITED STATES DOMINATION
The occupation ended in 1934. However, the U.S. presence in both the economy and internal government affairs was well established. Ever since the occupation and increasingly since 1946, the United States , through the power of its aid packages, has played a central role in Haitian politics. In this way the U.S. has contributed to the misery of Haiti since it has given oppressive governments comfortable aid packages which kept these rulers in power for U.S. gain. The U.S. pay to keep brutal Haitian governments in power so that American military, propaganda and economic interests could be served. The result may well have served the interests of U.S. control in the region, but the issue here is the cause of Haitian misery. U.S. backed governments have certainly been a major factor in this suffering.

The people ran away from the lowlands, the plantations, away from the cruel rulers who would have effectively enslaved them again. They ran to the mountains where they would be safe from the soldiers and police of the u.s. backed Government. And their they have in large measure remained. This pattern of relocation has defined several aspects of Haitian life which undermine the development of a healthy economy.

The price the Haitian masses have paid for their freedom has been to live at or below subsistence, remaining in their tiny huts and non-fertile mountain regions in order to have peace and freedom from oppression.

For nearly two centuries they have sub-divided their small plots among their generations of descendants until the plots of land are very tiny and relatively unproductive.
A widespread attitude has developed holding that no government could ever be good government. Folk wisdom seems to demand that one retreat ever further from government and eke out an existence outside the mainstream of society and make their own law in these poor regions.
All of these factors contribute greatly to the misery and Haitian people suffering. They are a direct legacy of Haitian politics and government. These evils are brought to the Haitian people by the greed of the Elite Haitian Government low dogs and supported by Foreign pit bulls.

THE ELITE'S PROTECTION OF ITS WEALTH.

For the most part the 3% of the people who constitute the Haitian elite are descendants of those same families who were free prior to the independence of 1804. There are elite which is mainly mulatto and some blacks. These two groups have their own fights and battles, but in the in cases when the masses have attempted to rise up and assert the rights the elite and rich blacks rallied together using their wealth and power to crush the masses.
SUMMARY OF THE ROOTS CAUSES
The poverty and misery in Haiti are human created. The root causes are the political and economic systems which have dominated Haiti for all her Dependence years. These oppressive factors have come from the International community, especially France and the United States . However, the Haitian elite - the children of the slave masters, comprising of only 3% of the Haitian people has also been a major factor in creating and continuing these oppressive conditions.

Haiti: The Hate and the Quake - Sir Hilary Beckles - 17 January 2010

I want to share with you this article by one of our Professors - it is a discourse on Haiti and the current situation.  I'd like to thank Sean Spencer for bringing it to my attention.


* This article may be viewed in its entirety at http://www.nationnews.com/story/guest-column-hilary-beckles-copy-for-web
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The University of the West Indies is in the process of conceiving how best to deliver a major conference on the theme Rethinking and Rebuilding Haiti.

I am very keen to provide an input into this exercise because for too long there has been a popular perception that somehow the Haitian nation-building project, launched on January 1, 1804, has failed on account of mismanagement, ineptitude, corruption.

Buried beneath the rubble of imperial propaganda, out of both Western Europe and the United States, is the evidence which shows that Haiti’s independence was defeated by an aggressive North-Atlantic alliance that could not imagine their world inhabited by a free regime of Africans as representatives of the newly emerging democracy.

The evidence is striking, especially in the context of France.

The Haitians fought for their freedom and won, as did the Americans fifty years earlier. The Americans declared their independence and crafted an extraordinary constitution that set out a clear message about the value of humanity and the right to freedom, justice, and liberty.

In the midst of this brilliant discourse, they chose to retain slavery as the basis of the new nation state. The founding fathers therefore could not see beyond race, as the free state was built on a slavery foundation.

The water was poisoned in the well; the Americans went back to the battlefield a century later to resolve the fact that slavery and freedom could not comfortably co-exist in the same place.

The French, also, declared freedom, fraternity and equality as the new philosophies of their national transformation and gave the modern world a tremendous progressive boost by so doing.

They abolished slavery, but Napoleon Bonaparte could not imagine the republic without slavery and targeted the Haitians for a new, more intense regime of slavery. The British agreed, as did the Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese.

All were linked in communion over the 500 000 Blacks in Haiti, the most populous and prosperous Caribbean colony.

As the jewel of the Caribbean, they all wanted to get their hands on it. With a massive slave base, the English, French and Dutch salivated over owning it – and the people.

The people won a ten-year war, the bloodiest in modern history, and declared their independence. Every other country in the Americas was based on slavery.


Haiti was freedom, and proceeded to place in its 1805 Independence Constitution that any person of African descent who arrived on its shores would be declared free, and a citizen of the republic.


For the first time since slavery had commenced, Blacks were the subjects of mass freedom and citizenship in a nation.

The French refused to recognise Haiti’s independence and declared it an illegal pariah state. The Americans, whom the Haitians looked to in solidarity as their mentor in independence, refused to recognise them, and offered solidarity instead to the French. The British, who werenegotiating with the French to obtain the ownership title to Haiti, also moved in solidarity, as did every other nation-state in the Western world.

Haiti was isolated at birth – ostracised and denied access to world trade, finance, and institutional development. It was the most vicious example of national strangulation recorded in modern history.

The Cubans, at least, have had Russia, China, and Vietnam. The Haitians were alone from inception. The crumbling began.

Then came 1825; the moment of full truth. The republic is celebrating its 21st anniversary. There is national euphoria in the streets of Port-au-Prince.

The economy is bankrupt; the political leadership isolated. The cabinet took the decision that the state of affairs could not continue.

The country had to find a way to be inserted back into the world economy. The French government was invited to a summit.

Officials arrived and told the Haitian government that they were willing to recognise the country as a sovereign nation but it would have to pay compensation and reparation in exchange. The Haitians, with backs to the wall, agreed to pay the French.

The French government sent a team of accountants and actuaries into Haiti in order to place a value on all lands, all physical assets, the 500 000 citizens were who formerly enslaved, animals, and all other commercial properties and services.

The sums amounted to 150 million gold francs. Haiti was told to pay this reparation to France in return for national recognition.

The Haitian government agreed; payments began immediately. Members of the Cabinet were also valued because they had been enslaved people before independence.

Thus began the systematic destruction of the Republic of Haiti. The French government bled the nation and rendered it a failed state. It was a merciless exploitation that was designed and guaranteed to collapse the Haitian economy and society.

Haiti was forced to pay this sum until 1922 when the last instalment was made. During the long 19th century, the payment to France amounted to up to 70 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

Jamaica today pays up to 70 per cent in order to service its international and domestic debt. Haiti was crushed by this debt payment. It descended into financial and social chaos.


The republic did not stand a chance. France was enriched and it took pleasure from the fact that having been defeated by Haitians on the battlefield, it had won on the field of finance. In the years when the coffee crops failed, or the sugar yield was down, the Haitian government borrowed on the French money market at double the going interest rate in order to repay the French government.

When the Americans invaded the country in the early 20th century, one of the reasons offered was to assist the French in collecting its reparations.

The collapse of the Haitian nation resides at the feet of France and America, especially. These two nations betrayed, failed, and destroyed the dream that was Haiti; crushed to dust in an effort to destroy the flower of freedom and the seed of justice.

Haiti did not fail. It was destroyed by two of the most powerful nations on earth, both of which continue to have a primary interest in its current condition.

The sudden quake has come in the aftermath of summers of hate. In many ways the quake has been less destructive than the hate.

Human life was snuffed out by the quake, while the hate has been a long and inhumane suffocation – a crime against humanity.

During the 2001 UN Conference on Race in Durban, South Africa, strong representation was made to the French government to repay the 150 million francs.

The value of this amount was estimated by financial actuaries as US$21 billion. This sum of capital could rebuild Haiti and place it in a position to re-engage the modern world. It wasillegally extracted from the Haitian people and should be repaid.

It is stolen wealth. In so doing, France could discharge its moral obligation to the Haitian people.

For a nation that prides itself in the celebration of modern diplomacy, France, in order to exist with the moral authority of this diplomacy in this post-modern world, should do the just and legal thing.

Such an act at the outset of this century would open the door for a sophisticated interface of past and present, and set the Haitian nation free at last.


Sunday, 24 January 2010

British Banker Bonus Bonanza? BOGUS!!!


See? I'm so indignant about the whole thing that I had to express it with B's! I mean - after you read the title of this post didn't you feel like saying 'Bahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh'.


It all started with this article... OK, I lie, IT all started with capitalistic banking desks betting that the value of property could never go down (I'm exaggerating of course) and mortgage brokers stopped doing due diligence when assessing the credit risks potentially presented by new customers... yada yada yada. We all know the story.

The Credit and Collateralised Debt desks across the Investment Banking universe virtually imploded, banks (retail and investment) were crippled by the blast, others were brought to their knees before coughing their last, spluttering amidst the dust and fumes of the rubble and fading into the ether (cos you and I know there is no banking heaven...).

Jobs were shed as quickly as a fur coat at a PETA conference.  There was a 'weeping and a-wailing and a-gnashing of teeth'. The good years were over, belts were tightened, heads kept down. Whomever raised their necks above the parapet was handed his/her redundancy cheque. Things generally sucked... and the maelstrom that hit the Financial Services industry was so severe that it threatened to bring down the entire financial system.  Imagine that - a global recession triggered by what started as a few missed mortgage payments. This is how interdependent we have become on a global scale.

The other 'B' word was bandied about: "BILLION-DOLLAR BAIL-OUT!"  As companies failed (mostly banks and insurance companies followed by tremours in the Motor Industry as credit lines became increasingly illiquid tempers flared and the underlying anger felt by the masses rose....

That tax payers' dollars (and pounds) were being used to 'bail out' these companies angered many.  Probably rightly so, although some argue that since corporation tax is at 50% and the richer members of society also pay close to 50% tax then really the money the banks were being bailed out with was largely supplied by the banks anyway.

I'm not gonna get into that, although I did recently hear the statistic that the richest 15% of the UK population is responsible for 50% of the UK's revenue from taxes... if this is true there must be some superbly 'rich b**tards' living in the UK!

Anyway - we were talking about what made me descend into a string of B words.  It was this article (and the millions like it)

Bank Slashes Bonus as Tax Hits Home  
(I should mention that any UK bonus greater than £25k is now subject to 50% tax. Bear in mind that most Investment Bank employees already pay tax at the higher rate of 40% anyway...)

And this article:
Goldman Sachs Bonus Cut - the following sentence in particular...

"Goldman's 32,500 staff, including 5,500 people in London, had been expected to receive more than $600,000 US (£300k) each from a "compensation pool" usually amounting to about half of the bank's revenue.”
This is such poor reporting and yet I have been hearing this and similar stories all week. I mean honestly now, do you really believe that EVERY employee in this Investment bank will receive an average bonus of £300k? Really?

And will Joe Bloggs in the street really read that article or hear that report on the news and think: 'oh that's just the average some will get more, some will get less"? Or will it just sink in as

"there are 32,500 staff and they were each going to get over £300k but the government stepped in and stopped it."?
Cos that's just plan wrong... and irritatingly misleading... and this is what is annoying me!

I don't work for Goldman Sachs, but I have worked for 3 top tier Investment Banks and a good portion of my employed friends work for IBs too. Sure you have highflying traders and sales people along with other Front Office personnel who earn massive commissions and generate millions of dollars in revenues for the company. Yes. But you also have the other 3/4 of Bank staff who support these guys and perform all the Middle Office and Back Office functions to keep the bank going - accountants, controllers, compliance officers, legal teams, HR & Administrative Staff, Technology and Operations - just to name a few. 80% of these people do not take home £100k a year, many of them will get an average bonus of what? £5-10k? £15-20k (or higher) if you're more senior and it's been a good year? The highfliers at the top (and/or in Front Office) skew the average calculation.

So it feels like the 'public' - no let's call it the media - the media are stirring such discontent amongst the public that they're ultimately making Joe from Ops and Judy from Product Control (as well as Dennis for Equity Trading) pay for the problems/mistakes of Magnus from the Credit Desk… and I don't really like that at all.

If Judy got £10k as her bonus (after expecting none) I think she sure has a right to go hop skipping down the lane as happy as a lark cos someone noticed she did a good job (while the rest of her colleagues were getting laid off).

However, that's not the world we live in - if the media catch Judy rejoicing to her husband on her mobile phone on the way home simply because she's happy to have received any bonus at all this year - they will assume she is one of 'those Bankers'  and crucify her even though the woman probably only got £7k!

Listen Judy, girl, don't hop and skip... you'll get fired and that's not on.

Anyway - I just wanted to get that off my chest. Phew.
Rant over.

ps. before you get me wrong - I don't think that any of the teams on the desks responsible for the deep pile of toxic debt that brought down banks like Lehman Brothers etc should receive whopping bonuses either. In reality many of the senior members of those teams were fired, followed by a 'restructuring' exercise resulting in a downsized desk (fuelled by many redundancies) - so the people who are left, on the desk and elsewhere in the Bank are people who have been working their butts off a) to keep their jobs so they can pay their own mortgages and b) to save the Banks from going under (so they can keep their jobs and pay their own mortages). And remember these people have been working in unsavoury environments, with little job security, watching members of their teams/departments disappear and listening to news reports of public outrage at potential bonus payments. Maybe the guys at the top - like the CEOs etc who are likely to receive millions of dollars in bonuses should forgo theirs this year so that Judy etc can have her £7k in peace.

image copyright www.javno.com

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

DIY: Fixing Holes in Your Locks

"There's a hole in my lock-ettes, dear sista, dear sista,
"There's a hole in my lock-ettes, dear sista, a hole!"
"So fix it, dear sista, dear sista, dear sista,
just fix it dear sista, dear sista fix it!"

So I did.

I found this 'hole' in one of my locs on the left side of my head while retightening this week.


"Hmmm..." I thought, "How'd that get there?" and more importantly - "How do I fix it?"

Well, once again I have to give thanks to the online community and the usefulness of the internet; I especially need to thank Kalia Dewdrop whose video and related posts ( here and here ) equipped me with everything I needed to give it a go. Knowledge is power I tell you!

Some things I did differently - for one, I don't use a latch hook. That thing looks so 'huge' and cumbersome I refuse to touch it. No offence to anyone who does use it OK? To each his own.  I used ole faithful 'Yarnie' for this - and I have even included another pic of him for those of you who were wondering.



(Yarnie is of course what's left of a cut down plastic yarn needle, whose eye I widened by following Nubian Princess' video instructions - gotta love YouTube!)

Here is a pic of the repaired loc - not bad even if I do say so myself. (Apologies for low quality images, had to use my camera phone and it doesn't have a very good flash).



Nubian and Kalia's videos are included below for those of you who are interested.




http://kalia-dewdrop.blogspot.com/2009/08/how-to-fix-holes-in-your-locs.html
and the video is here:

Friday, 15 January 2010

Product Review: Tamu Organics "Beauty with Responsibility"














Company: Tamu Organics - The Essence of Africa
Products: Premium HAND MADE Moisturisers, Soaps and Spa Products
Owner: Afriyie Boateng, (Black Female Entrepreneur)
Websitehttp://tamunatural.co.uk/
Blogtamunatural
Facebook: Tamu-Skincare
TwitterTamuSkinCare

Special Offers: 20% off in January! (Use code 20% at the checkout)

Little pots of luxury. 

That's how I'd describe the range of 'decadent' whipped body butters Tamu has to offer. I like to support local businesses and Female entrepreneurs and this company ticks all the right boxes for me.

Founded on principles of social responsibility, fair trade and ethical investment; Tamu not only walks the walk but talks the talk: all the products are handmade and the ingredients are sourced from Tamu Founder, Afriyie's village in Goaso, Ghana.

These women personify what Tamu is about: economic empowerment for the historically underdeveloped, giving them a fair chance at an equal footing on the financial ladder.

The product range is based around shea butter and black soap (more on the latter later); the process of growing, harvesting and 'processing' the shea butter is a personal and labour intensive one - this is reflected in the high quality of the products.  Furthermore (and much to my delight), they contain no petrochemicals (no mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffin etc.), artificial fragrances or parabens; and the soaps contains no SLS.

So what's in the body butters? Only the finest organic ingredients, mostly Ghanaian Shea butter and fragrant essential oils. Hmmmmm....

"Rich, thick and whipped" that's how they're described on the website, and yet, less is more with these butters as a little bit goes a long way; the butter is so light and fluffy and it literally melts into your skin. How sumptuous is that?

Clients can choose from five luxurious creations:
You can also opt for the straight up 'simple' (if you can call anything in this range 'simple') - unrefined shea butter.  My favourites are the Cocoa Vanilla and Almond Brule (which my daughter loves and therefore stole from me!)

Everything comes beautifully packaged and you can understand why the savvy Beauty Spas have begun clamouring for stock!

Not into whipped body butter?  You can still pamper yourself with the luxurious Moroccan Rose Silk cream - which is absolutely divine. (Sorry, to gush - but it really is, unless of course you don't like roses!)














The Moroccan Rose line sits at the top of the Tamu product range and includes a Luxury Silk Body Bar, Sensual Body Oil and Himalayan Bath Salts which I tried out with HRH one evening and 'relaxing' just doesn't do justice as a description of the experience - trust me on that one! It was as if all the stress and strain of the day vapourised into the steamy rose scented air around us. Sleep was inevitable and oh so sweeeeeeeeeet! (Especially after a day of sliding around in the snow and running around behind the kids!)







I must also mention the handmade soaps. Yes, this phenomenal woman makes these herself. How'd ya like 'dem apples?  Not counting the Moroccan Rose bar I've already mentioned, you have three choices:
I love the way, Afriyie (aka Lady Tamu) has taken time out to provide suggestions on which products will be suitable for what skin types and each product page is chocked full of information on the ingredients and how to get the best out of the products. Just lovely!  (I'm going to shut up now before you think I'm a sales rep or something lol).

So, if you're looking for something different this year (and still have some leftover copper from xmas just waiting for the January Sales) - you could do a lot worse than to invest in a few Tamu products.  Pamper yourself and empower someone at the same time - sounds like a win-win to me :) (Shipping is worldwide, yes that means Barbados too lol).

If you do try them or have already tried them - do post a comment and let me know your thoughts.

With Love from London,

xx

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Oh Haiti, I am Sorry

When I first heard the news, I immediately wondered: "since when do we have earthquakes in the Caribbean?" - a stupid knee jerk reaction because we do have them... I have just never heard of one of such magnitude before.

My heart truly bleeds for the people of Haiti; the children, the families... Not long ago thousands were lost in floods after a hurricane (and I do mean thousands despite media efforts to play it down) - why does it feel as though every time they get back on their feet - some new adversity presents itself?

And yet, I take courage in the fact that with each adversity - hurricane, coups, international intervention - in the midst of great poverty and suffering - these people are DOWN but not OUT. They get back up again and LIVE, they refuse to be wiped out or play the role of the victim. They play the role of overcomers.

I know that you - as readers - are scattered across the world so I am not posting links today - please contact your nearest disaster relief centre or the Red cross or whomever and donate something to those in need in Haiti. Billions of dollars were raised on behalf of the countries hit by the xmas tsunamis a few years back - let us do the same for our Haitian brothers and sisters.

One love.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

If My Locks Ever Look Like This....

If My locks ever look like this :



I will chop them off post haste.

Of course, you can argue that all he needs is a retighten or a good palm rolling session etc. - but seriously, if I ever look like that, they're coming off!

Monday, 11 January 2010

It's Still Blooming Awful... (but there a bits of Blooming Marvellous in between)


Still not about hair...
I have just over 12 weeks to go, and many of you have been asking how my pregnancy is going.

Well for one, since I blogged so much about the last one (e.g. Blooming AwfulThe P-listNew Enemy On The Battlefield and so on - click here to see them all); I just haven't had the gumption to do it again - especially because I could only be crazy to be doing this again!

I know you've been good friends and not said that out loud, but I say it out loud all the time lol. I must be crazy. I love my son to death but carrying him to term was a nightmare and now we have Bambino (Baby # 3) and as much as I know I will also love him/her to bits, I still think I must be crazy. Oh well - God knows best :)

So, given that the worst bits of the Hyperemesis Gravidarum occurred BEFORE I went back to work, I've not had to take any time off (so far).  In the beginning, when I could not move and yet I needed to be on point for my other kids - especially for my son who was still so dependent: I crawled up the steps to my local GP (doctor) and begged them... literally, I refused to move until they prescribed me something USEFUL.

The drugs I was given with my son, did absolutely nothing. NOTHING. Such that I didn't even bother using them because what's the point in putting something into your body if it doesn't do anything? Stupse. This time I did my research. Thank God for the internet. I scrolled through yahoo forums; Facebook groups and Mum's Net forums and sifted through loads of advice and suggestions from Helpher.org and Blooming Awful(UK) and went to the GP armed with a shortlist of medications that other mum's swore by.

Once in that office, I burst into tears, "I have to be able to look after my son", I sobbed, "I have to be able to go back to work"

"I HAVE TO HAVE A LIFE!"

The thought of being bed ridden for another 6 weeks, followed by several months of impaired sub-par function was not appealing to me at all. Who would look after my little boy? It's not like HRH could stay home - we'd need a full time carer/nurse and with me off on Maternity Leave who was gonna pay for that?

Luckily for me (given our notoriously reluctant NHS service), my doctors agreed with me and signed off on the medication. Talk about a massive difference!  The vomiting and loss of appetite came under control. When I say loss of appetite - I can't think of the right word for it, you don't want to eat because you know you are going to vomit, and even when you want to eat, you are afraid that you're going to vomit, and counting down the minutes until you do vomit -- it's not a pleasurable experience.

Anyway, this was controlled - I still felt nauseous but not to the point where I couldn't even lift a finger and I definitely wasn't vomiting every hour.   I can eat certain things and maintain some semblance of normalcy, and the rest I just keep to myself because not even HRH gives me any sympathy anymore (like I did this on my own lol).

So,  there has been less medical intervention on a daily/weekly basis (no hospitalisation etc) because of the medical intervention (prescriptions) early on. It's not all roses though, working and trying to act normal takes its toll on me; and it is rather difficult to keep food down while in office but I am not drowning yet so I'm just doing my do.

3.5 months or so and it'll be over. That's what I keep telling myself. This too shall pass. So I'm not blogging about how miserable this pregnancy has made me - I'm just concentrating on hair and weird articles about KFC adverts and silly White Van drivers who won't slow down in the snow :)

Oh yeah - and thanks to fellow bloggers like Yahvinah, Roseann and Brown Buttahfly who shared their experiences with Hyperemeis Gravidarum and offered much appreciated words of wisdom; and to everyone else who has been encouraging me online and in person. I truly appreciate it.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

It's Oh SNOW Beautiful!

(Warning: still not about hair - sorry).

I've been having an interesting 10 days, so you'll have to continue to take my posts with a pinch of salt and know that they are tongue in cheek as usual.


Today snowed. Y'all in the UK done know that. The past couple of days have been glorious, postcard picturesque, fairy tale fantastic; we've been living in a winter wonderland...



However, this is England not Canada, so as the snow falls overnight, we sleep restlessly, wondering whether the trains will work tomorrow; will the buses hold the road tomorrow, will the schools be open, and if they're not - will you still be expected at work anyway? Lol.


For the most part, I have been enjoying this – despite slipping and sliding and straining my weakened/extended tummy muscles all over the place.


I was a bit annoyed this morning when– after raising myself outta my warm bed, digging my car out from the ‘snow drift’, scraping ice off my windshield and driving (drifting!) to the station with my teeth chattering - I discovered that the blessed people at Network Rail had cancelled not one, but two of my morning trains (7:25 and 7:36) leaving me to stand exposed in the early morning darkness with a zillion other commuters for half an hour (since the 7:48 was delayed).

The only good thing about the build up of people was that it meant we were all squooshed together in the train (literally like sardines in a can) which is very good for warming up short pregnant people.

When I caught my connecting train – someone even got up and gave me their seat. So I was warm and happy for most of my commute in... only to spend the final 5 minutes of the journey sliding and sloshing all over the pavements as I negotiated the puddles of slush vs deadly black ice in an attempt to get into my building!
I was still happy though. I made it in to work on time and I didn’t vomit on anyone. I was a good employee and a good citizen lol.

Fast forward to home time... which came early today because 1) I got a message from HRH saying our son’s nursery would be closing 2 hours early so could I collect him by 4pm (which is when I normally leave work)... and 2) I received an urgent email at 2pm advising me that my daughter’s school was closing in half an hour ‘due to adverse weather’. Man... ya gotta love the UK. Amazing what a ‘little snow’ can do – just wreak havoc with everything!

So I went from being ‘good employee’ to ‘that employee with kids who has to leave early cos of those pesky kids’... and of course there were the looks like “I bet she made that up, it aint snowing THAT badly out there...”

Anyway, I packed up and headed off, cos at the end of the day, I am mummy and mummy Lioness has to see about her cubs (everyone knows lions just parade about and look good!)




The trains home were jam packed, either everyone else had kids to rescue as well or some sort of mass hysteria had hit the city! There was such a mass exodus hahah and you should have heard the spouses calling their partners “Get out now while you still can! They’re predicting more snow! They say train services will be disrupted, delayed or cancelled randomly!” (Mass hysteria I tell you – not that this stopped me from phoning HRH and suggesting he let his workers go home early, cos no point in them being unnecessarily stranded in the boon docks for nothing! Yes guys - you owe me :P

With this ‘every manjack for himself’ mentality – there was no hope of me getting a seat on any of my trains home, so I just stood and thought happy thoughts, and that was fine by me.


Stepping on to the platform at my station I almost disappeared completely. I swear the snow came up to my eyes... but then again I am on the short side *grin*. I dug my car out again and sat inside with the heat full blast until both me and my darling machine were defrosted. Off to pick up the cub.


CJ found the snow fascinating, and kept trying to catch the big fat flurries as they fell from the sky. So much for helping me get him into the car seat quickly!

Nursery says – ‘we might be closed tomorrow...’;
 I’m thinking – ‘you better not be, I got work to do!’  I mean, have you ever tried working from home with a mobile one year old running up and down? Let’s just say it calls for superhuman powers of patience and concentration and I am NOT up for the challenge this week.
Fun, fun, fun!

Off to collect the other cub, crawling along at 5 miles an hour *yawn* but really I am still not bothered because everything is just so beautiful and the snow has killed all the noise so it’s all so quiet... I love it!

I turn the corner to get off the beaten track (and its miles of traffic) and head slowly down a snow packed lane, it's getting dark but I’m still loving it.

I pull over for a sec to answer the phone (it’s the girlie cub) – I let her know I am almost there. Check my mirrors and indicate, I let one car pass me, then I pull off (still at like 5 miles an hour lol).... there’s a van behind me – wouldn’t you know it the dude is travelling a lot faster than most other people on the road and decides to beep his horn at me in disgust – then overtake me like he’s driving in the F1? "Ok, boar pig (i.e.road hog) – you guhlong". I’m still not bothered. These roads are treacherous and I am not going to die just because you want to “hurry up and wait”, plus there is a blind corner up ahead and I am gonna take my time in case someone is coming or the kids are walking there.

He speeds pass me, I watch him and right before my very eyes – I see him washout. At first I thought he was parking because why else would his van be heading over to that side of the road? Then I realise that he actually has no control over his vehicle, so I let my car grind to a halt; driver behind me also stops and we both watch the speed demon in fascination as his unwieldy van does a sweet 180, missing a guard wall and a railing by a nose hair.

He looks at us, we look at him – and for some strange reason, without any warning at all, I burst out laughing.


I don’t know why I found it so funny; maybe it’s that Bajan instinct to laugh first, help second... or maybe I’m just mean. But I laughed... and he saw me laughing and I still didn’t feel bad about laughing. I just cracked up, thinking “that’s what you get man!” sometimes there’s no point rushing, as Bajans say “tekking time ent laziness” (although I substitute ‘foolishness’ for ‘laziness’. We will all get there in the end – well, most of us anyway.

Shamefaced, he managed to point his van in the right direction and STILL zoom off round the bend. Me? I STILL didn’t go any faster than 10 miles an hour – why? So I can wash out too? No suh, not me!

Funny how when I did round the bend, his stupid van was still there waiting at the junction to join the looooooooooooooooooooooong queue of traffic heading down the hill. Me? I live uphill. I couldn’t stop laughing as I pulled out of the junction and headed in the opposite direction, all the while explaining to CJ: “tekking time ent foolishness... especially when the council won’t salt the roads. HAHAHHAHAHHAHAHA.

I LOVE SNOW!

"Nobody does racist like KFC?????" - from The Mongoose Chronicles

I came across  this article today

Nobody Does 'Racist' like KFC, The Mongoose Chronicles

The ad left me speechless(re: the stereotype -but some may add that you'd have to be a cricket fan to understand the context/not to take offence). Different people may find this benign, offensive or racist.
I think my girl says it well so I'll let you read her words and decide for yourself.

Comments welcome as always.
xxx

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Can't Work /Won't Work - WHY???????


image copyright http://deluxeteachers.files.wordpress.com


Sometimes I wonder why people do the jobs they do. Are they in it for the money or did they just fall into their career straight outta school? Did they plan and strategically manoeuvre themselves until they got this job? Or is it just something that pays the bills?

I'm back at work and xmas is definitely over!  No more Mr & Mrs Nice Guy - no siree, say hello to Mr & Mrs can't bothered even though I'm getting paid to do this (or is it that they're at the:'I don't get paid enough to do this' stage?)

We're in investment banking. And yes, everything has to be done yesterday, yes, we're often stressed out and definitely overworked but in most cases we're (comparatively) well paid - just think about what teachers, nurses etc have to deal with and what they get paid! SO is there really a need to make things more difficult or act like they're gonna be so much harder than it need/ will be?

My current project kicked off last summer while I was still on mat leave. I picked it up in the Autumn when my colleague left for her maternity leave (great team for babies eh?): she did a lot of the preliminary analysis and project initiation and left me quite a thorough handover plan which I picked up and ran with.

Amazingly (not) when I started following up on tasks and issues, many of the listed contacts claimed not to know anything about the project or any prior conversations had with my colleague - sometimes even after I fwded the email chains they'd had (they preferred not to respond when I did that lol),.

In some cases senior staff had not passed info on to their junior team members so the juniors genuinely didn't know about their required role in the project but this was the exception.

What gets me is that some ppl are (possibly) so enamored with their own self importance that instead of getting on with stuff - despite joining the party late, they're still harping on to anyone who'll listen, that they only joined project 2 days/2 weeks ago so weren't involved in original analysis so don't know where these estimates/approvals come from. Blah blah blah.

SO WHAT?

Get over yourself. The figures didn't come outta thin air. Your boss (or colleague who has now left the bank) supplied them.

This project had a life before u, (yeah I said it), now stop moaning and get with the program. Before u were on it, it was scheduled to be released in x month. Instead of grumbling that it can't possibly happen, how about looking at why your colleague thought it could be done and work with the rest of us to make it happen man!

Puhlease!

I just don't understand why some people seem to go out of their way to undermine or retard progress? It doesn't make sense - aren't we all on the same side?

You may not like your job but that's no excuse not to be the best at it that you can be, think about how many lost their jobs when Lehman and Bear Stearns disappeared? Now - let's all hold hands and sing along together before I have to take off my shoes...

And if this post is all over the place and weird that's because I'm a hormonal pregnant woman who just wants a little peace!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year from my family to yours.
May your days be filled with peace and prosperity;
May you overcome obstacles that previously held you back;
 May you expand your borders and may that which had been stolen or wrongfully taken from you be returned and restored;
May your cupboards never be empty;
May your children call you 'wonderful';
May your friends and family call you 'a blessing';
May your spouse/partner respect your perspective;
May you walk in wisdom and in favour; bringing love and solace to those you meet;
May peace fill your footsteps so that wherever you walk you leave a trail of harmony;
May you be healed and whole.


And if you're bored you can look at this pictures of me dancing about on Christmas day and laugh. (Baby was nice to me that day).

All the best!

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