Monday, 29 September 2008

Gerry Rafferty

For the edification of my friend Philip, who, even though he is from Scotland, admitted he wasn't familiar with the music of Gerry Rafferty.

Home and Dry

Get It Right Next Time

Right Down the Line

Baker Street


Thursday, 18 September 2008

Worst Crisis Since 30s

More negative news about the economy, only this time about the U.S.A.:
Worst Crisis Since '30s, With No End Yet in Sight

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Baltic States' Banking Systems in Trouble

A while back I heard (probably on the radio) that heating costs in Vilnius are now as high as they are in Brussels. I wonder if salaries here are half or a just a third of what people make in Brussels? Doesn't seem to make sense, does it? I understand that this is mostly the result of market forces, but that doesn't make tolerating it any easier (and I know in my heart that the owners and upper-level managers of the heating company here are getting filthy rich). Well, I have to admit that I'm not on the city's centralized heating system, but I figure it won't matter too much since we're heating with natural gas and the price of that has also gone through the roof. I think this winter will be telling as people struggle to pay for heating and food. I haven't seen any figures about whether salaries and pensions here are keeping up with inflation, but as far as I know, they aren't in most parts of the world. But it's not only the people here that are having a tough time of it...

Here's an article I found recently about the banking systems in the Baltic States. It's from right here: The translation is mine.

Citigroup: Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Banking Systems in Trouble

SEB Bank is getting ready to announce losses in Estonia and Latvia, and the profits of Swedbank in the Baltic States are dropping because of greater losses in the loans sector. This news was reported by Baltic Business News and based on a report Citigroup sent its clients.

Losses caused by bad loans means that dividends for the next 2 years will stay at the same level as they were the previous year, Ronit Ghose, an analyst at Citigroup, wrote.

"The economies and banking systems of the Baltic States, especially in Latvia and Estonia, are in trouble", Ghose wrote. "Our visits to Tallinn and Riga this week have caused us to worry even more about a collapse because it hard to imagine a quick turnaround in this region...

The article goes on to say that pre-tax profits of SEB in the Baltic States would drop 40 percent from EUR 261.62 million (USD 372.05 million) to EUR 156.97 million (USD 223.23 million) and that the profits of Swedbank from operations in the Baltic States would most likely drop from EUR 502.31 million (USD 714.34 million) to EUR 439.52 million (USD 625.05 million).

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

This Is Aikido?

The other day, my wife took our son to the introductory lesson of the aikido club that trains in Simono Daukanto Primary School, where my son goes to school. She wanted to find out about fees, the class schedule, etc. Although they arrived a bit early, the head of the school (and president of the Lithuanian Traditional Aikido Association) had already launched into his introductory speech. She was, however, able to catch the part with him saying that it was essential to learn aikido to help protect the country from the hoards of "darkies" moving here. Huh? What was that? Now, I'm used to hearing all sorts of people spout all sorts of racist and nationalistic crap here, but using aikido and a rented space in a public school for such a forum seems way out of line to me. Isn't there some international aikido association that this guy could be reported to? From what little I know about aikido, I can't imagine that any dojo (or national organization) would support such hatred. In fact, it seems the antithesis of what aikido stands for. Anybody have any ideas? Thoughts?

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Bike Tour

I just can't seem to get motivated to write about Lithuanian events/news since I returned from the U.S.A. If someone's waiting specifically for such topics, all I can say is forgive me and maybe I'll have the time and inclination to write about those things some time in the near future.

But something else caught my eye today. I was visiting today and started thinking about the possibility of going on one of the tours they offer: Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Togo/Benin, and Ghana. At US$1490 for two weeks (includes lodging and two meals a day while traveling), the price seems a bit steep. There's no way I could afford such a trip this year, but I might be able to do it (or something like this) next year. But I was wondering... Would anybody out there be interested in such a trip (specifically, joining me on such a trip)?

Friday, 5 September 2008

The Rio Bravo

I just noticed that The Rio Bravo has several songs available for download on their website ( I haven't listened to all the songs all the way through, but Mordecai is interesting, and I'd say that the others are worth a listen. Some parts of Life in the West remind me of an ELO song, strangely enough. Must be the same chord progressions.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Adomas on TV

Yesterday the ensemble that my son Adomas (Adam) is in played in the concert at the President's Office to celebrate the beginning of the school year and Freedom Day (the day the Soviet Army pulled out of Lithuania). The concert was broadcast on Lithuanian National Television. Despite a bit of a problem when they started playing (the keyboard hadn't been turned on) and one a little later (the keyboard player's chair [and keyboard player] fell off the stand it was on), I think they did well. Here's the link to the footage of the concert: They go on stage at the 41:10 mark, just about exactly halfway through the concert. My boy's the sharp looking, focused one playing the bongos. Yeah, I guess you could say I'm proud.