Count your Blessings – Week 7

We enter our final week of Count Your Blessings 2013, a week for the next generation. It has once again been an interesting journey through Christian Aid's annual charity project and it was good to take part again.

 

Last week I raised an additional £6.20 which brought my total to £28.10

 

And onto the final thoughts:

 

Monday 25

Children born into poverty are almost twice as likely to die before the age of 5 than those from wealthier families.

Give 5p for every birthday you have celebrated.

 

Tuesday 26

One in three girls in Niger are married before the age of 15, and 75% are married before the age of 18.

Give 50p if you have attended a wedding in the last year where the bride and groom were over the age of 18.

 

Wednesday 27

Child marriage often leads to early childbirth, the leading killer of adolescent girls in Africa. 

Pray for safety for all the young girls in the world who will give birth today.

 

Thursday 28

Maundy Thursday

Worldwide, around 215 million children work, many full-time.

Give 10p for each child in your family who has time to play.

 

Friday 29

Good Friday

For the first time since poverty trends began to be monitored, the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen in every developing region.

Give thanks and praise for the progress that is being made on ending poverty, and for everyone who is involved in this effort (that includes you!).

 

Weekend 30 & 31

Easter

In 2012, Christian Aid partner Ekta Parishad organised one of the biggest non-violent campaigns the world has ever seen. 60,000 people set off to march over 200km across India to hold the Indian government to its promises to protect the land rights of poor dalit and tribal communities. After 10 days, the march ended when the government agreed to the marchers’ demands. This momentous achievement could lift 400 million landless poor out of poverty in India.

Give thanks for this wonderful outcome and pray that the Indian government holds true to its promises. Pray for all those in the world who don’t have legal rights to their ancestral land.

Count your Blessings – Week 6

 

We have just two weeks to go now until Easter, Beth and I are going away for Easter week. We are doing a circuit of Western Colorado. Starting by going south to Great Sand Dunes National Park for a couple of days before heading west to Ouray in the mountains, north to Glenwood Springs and then east back home again. In five days we will do about 800 miles. Hopefully won't be too bad and there will be a lot of nice views.
 
That also means, however, that we are getting to the end of another year of Christian Aid's Count Your Blessings. Last week I added a further £6.80 to the amount that I have raised, this brought my new total up to £21.90
 
The theme for the penultimate week is health and homes:
 
Monday 18
2.5 billion people in the world do not have somewhere safe, private or hygienic to go to the toilet.
Give 40p for every toilet you have in your house.
 
Tuesday 19 
Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, HIV has orphaned more than 14 million children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Pray for children growing up without parents because of HIV/AIDS.
 
Wednesday 20
Malaria is a preventable disease, and yet a child dies from it every 45 seconds in Africa.
Give 50p if you know at least one way of preventing malaria.
 
Thursday 21
Over 100 million people around the world have no shelter whatsoever.
Give 30p for each bed in your house.
 
Friday 22
Today, an estimated 863 million people are living in slum conditions compared to 760 million in 2000.
Give 10p for each home you have lived in that has provided you with shelter and comfort.
 
Weekend 23 & 24
Palm Sunday
Governments in the developing world find it difficult to monitor pesticide use. In Ghana, 7 banned pesticides are still sold. Farmers misusing pesticides risk cancer, birth defects and damage to the central nervous system.
Give 20p for each household product you own with a warning label.

 

Value for money

For a while now I have been pondering a decent equation for working out an item's value for money. It is hard to quantify whether something is worth what you are paying for it. It is also a subjective thing, what is it worth to you.

I decided therefore to come up with an equation to work it out, and here it is:

(D + (P/2) * E) / C

Duration – amount of time to be spent with/doing the item in hours

Prep – time spent enjoying the idea of the item or raving about it afterwards

Enjoyment – How much you enjoy the item out of 20 (20 is best)

Cost – Cost in pounds sterling

Here are a couple of examples:

Lord of the Rings – 3hrs + 0 = 3hrs; 3hrs * 16 = 48; 48/12 (cost £12)=4

Karting – 0.5hrs + (10hrs/2) = 5.5hrs; 5.5hrs * 20 = 110; 110/30 = 3.66

Therefore watching Lord of the Rings is better Value for Money than Karting…

It works for most things, people are better than commodities (helped because you spend more time with them and hopefully enjoy them more).

For things like insurance and bills you can rename enjoyment as usefulness and use the same formula… Obviously free things are great value for money…

 

Count your Blessings – Week 5

We are getting further into lent and further into Christian Aid's Count Your Blessings. Last week I added £2.80 to make a total of £15.10.

Week 5's theme is a week for our precious planet.

 

Monday 11
The world’s poorest people are on the frontline of our changing climate – and they’re suffering first and hardest.
Give 50p for each light turned on unnecessarily in your home and 20p for every electrical appliance left on standby.
 
Tuesday 12
2 million deaths every year are a result of exposure to indoor smoke from cooking fuels.
Give 40p if your oven runs on electricity or gas.
 
Wednesday 13
Deforestation in Haiti is a severe problem. In the 1920s, 60% of Haiti was forested, now just 2% of forests remain.
Give 20p for each local park or green space where you live.
 
Thursday 14
About 20% of the population in the developed nations consume 86% of the world’s goods. 
Give £1 if you replaced an electronic item this year, instead of getting it repaired.
 
Friday 15
More than 80% of sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated, polluting rivers, lakes and coastal areas.
Give thanks that we don’t have to worry about what happens when we flush the toilet.
 
Weekend 16 & 17
While Christian Aid partners delivered life-saving food aid in Ethiopia during the drought of 2011, for many people the most pressing need was to save their livestock,  which are their livelihoods. Hereg Dane (pictured right) had already lost half her animals, but Christian Aid partner Agri Service enclosed a piece of land so her community could grow fodder without it being destroyed by wild animals or livestock. Thanks to this vital enclosure, Hereg has been able to save the rest of her herd.
Give 20p for each pet you’ve had that you could easily care for without worrying about food shortages.

 

Ice Soccer

Snow and I have not been getting on that well recently. Sure it is pretty while it falls but then it just sits around and stops me going places.

It did have one fortunate consequence though. Two weeks ago it meant that Ethan and I could invent the soon to be worldwide sensation of ice soccer.

Two players take to a quarter acre pitch and draw out a 40sq ft goal in the snow. It doesn't matter the exact dimensions as long as the area is approximately 40 sq feet. As such my goals tend to be long but narrow and Ethan's tend to be more square.

A five yard line is then drawn ahead of the goal all the way across the pitch. This is where you kick from if a goal is scored or the ball goes behind your goal.

The aim of the game is to get the ball to touch any portion of your opponents goal. It can land in and bounce out, glance a corner, whatever. If it touches the ground inside the goal area it is in.

You are permitted two touches of the ball. The first is your save of the previous players shot and the second is taken from where the ball ends up and is your shot.

Count Your Blessings – Week 4

Three weeks into Christian Aid's Count Your Blessings and we enter our fourth. Week 3 brought in £6.70 for charity from myself. This brings my total to £12.30.

 

Week 4's theme is A Week for Women as we lead up to Mothering Sunday this coming weekend.

 

Monday 4 March

70% of the world’s poor are women.

Give 10p for every woman in your family who has a job.

 

Tuesday 5 March

Every day approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries.

Give 20p for every pregnant woman you know who received a decent standard of medical care in the last year.

 

Wednesday 6 March

Women make up 64% of the world’s illiterate. 

Have a look at one of your bookshelves. Give 10p for each book by a female author.

 

Thursday 7 March

In India, tens of millions of women face discrimination and abuse for being single, porced or widowed.

Pray for fair treatment for women everywhere.

 

Friday 8 March

Women own only 1% of the world’s property.

Give 10p for each woman in your family who owns property, either jointly or by themselves.

 

Weekend 9 & 10 March

Mothering Sunday

Golbibi Kohsani, a 20-year-old mother of two from Afghanistan, has received a loom from Christian Aid partner RAADA to enable her to make an income from her skill at weaving traditional Afghan rugs. It takes her about 3 months to finish a carpet which she sells for about US$60. The carpets are made from wool from her own animals, and the extra income means she has more money for her family.

Give thanks for mothers and carers throughout the world who work hard to look after their families.

Visit christianaid.org.uk/motheringsunday for a thought-provoking Mothering Sunday church service plan, featuring more on Golbibi (pictured).

 

Count Your Blessings – Week 3

In week 2 I raised another £2.80 for Christian Aid bringing my total to £5.60 by raising money with their Count Your Blessings program.

This week's theme is Food and Justice.

 

Monday 25 February
Hunger is the world’s number one health risk. Every year, it kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
Give 50p for each meal and 20p for each snack you will eat today.
 
Tuesday 26 February
Almost 1 billion people don’t have enough to eat and go to bed hungry every night, even though the planet produces enough food to feed everyone.
Give £1 if you threw food away last week.
 
Wednesday 27 February
In the UK, less than 15% of average household expenditure goes on food and non-alcoholic drinks. In developing countries, people spend 60-80% of their incomes on food.
Give 60p if you spend less than 60% of your income on food.
 
Thursday 28 February
Food price rises hit the poorest hardest. Between 2011 and 2012, maize prices rose by 174% in Malawi. 
Give 10p for each tin of food in your home. Help fight hunger and poverty by holding a fundraising Super Soup Lunch for your Lent lunches. Visit christianaid.org.uk/super-soup-lunch to find out more.
 
Friday 1 March
Guatemala has the fifth highest percentage of malnourished children in the world, despite being a middle-income country. Tax dodging by companies means that it has insufficient income to tackle the problem of hunger.
Give £1 if you have ever grumbled about having to pay tax.
 
Weekend 2 & 3 March
With the UK hosting the annual G8 summit (a meeting for the government leaders of eight of the world’s most powerful economies) this year, 2013 represents a historic opportunity in the fight to end world hunger. That’s why Christian Aid is joining together with other agencies to call for a fairer food system that works for all.
Visit christianaid.org.uk/campaigns to say you’ve had enough of people going hungry and call on our leaders to act.

Count Your Blessings – Week 2

So the short week one is already in the books and I have already raised £2.80 for Christian Aid by Counting my Blessings

The theme this week is Peace and Reconciliation.

 

Monday 18

At the end of 2011, an estimated 42.5 million people were living in a place to which they had been forcibly displaced due to conflict or persecution.

Give 10p for every year you have lived in your current home.

 

Tuesday 19

In countries torn apart by war but now at peace, such as Angola and Sierra Leone, Christian Aid is helping communities to rebuild their lives and to work towards peaceful, long-term development.

Pray for lasting peace and reconciliation for communities recovering from conflict, especially those in the news at this time.

 

Wednesday 20

Four out of five refugees are hosted by developing countries, many of whom provide refuge despite their own national challenges, including food and water shortages.

Give 20p for each time you stayed with family or friends in the last year.

 

Thursday 21

Sudan’s civil war claimed more than 2 million lives, mainly due to hunger rather than as a direct result of the combat. Fighting disrupted farming, and raids by combatants took the little food farmers had left.

Give 20p for each conflict mentioned in the news today.

 

Friday 22

At least 37.6% of the world’s population live under authoritarian regimes.

Give £1 if you did not use your vote in the last local or general election.

 

Weekend 23 & 24

Colombia has the second highest number of internally displaced people in the world. In the last 25 years, the armed conflict has forced more than 8% of the population off their land. Christian Aid partners, local communities and their leaders, like Misael (pictured) risk their lives to speak out, calling on the government to protect their lives and their rights.

 

Pray for safety and strength for people all over the world who face violence and persecution for taking a stand against injustice.

Count Your Blessings – Week 1

 

Once again Beth and I are not giving things up for Lent, instead we are completing Christian Aid’s Count Your Blessings where they give a thought for the day while also raising money for a good cause. I will once again be keeping track of our progress on the blog.

The resources are available here: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/getinvolved/lent-2013/count-your-blessings/resources.aspx

Wednesday 13 February

Ash Wednesday Around 24% of children of primary school age in sub-Saharan Africa and 7% in Southern Asia do not attend school.

Give 30p if there is a non-fee-paying primary school where you live.

Thursday 14 February

Children under-five of educated mothers — even mothers with only primary schooling — are more likely to survive than those of mothers with no education.

Give thanks and praise for your education and for the doors it has opened for you professionally and personally.

Friday 15 February

Illiteracy affects more than 120 million young people globally, compounding the disadvantages they face in life.

Give 20p for each favourite childhood book you can still recall well.

Weekend 16 & 17 February

If you don’t know your legal rights, you can’t defend them. In São Paulo, Brazil, tens of thousands of people live in unsafe housing. Those who complain to their landlords risk immediate eviction. Christian Aid partner Gaspar Garcia runs a human rights centre (pictured) where tenants can go to receive free legal advice and to join forces with others in a similar situation to demand change and to face their landlords together.

How many of your human rights can you name? Give 10p for each one.

Game of the Year 2012

While it was a great year for movies in 2012 it seemed to be a fairly lackluster year for games. I am also finding myself with gradually less time to play the big releases when they came out. It seemed to be a year when small games could shine though. In a year when I played just 12 new games the bottom of my top 10 may not exude quality but the top games were all ones I have greatly enjoyed.

10. Worms Revolution – PC

9. Catherine – XBOX360

8. Fez – XBOX360

7. Mark of the Ninja – PC

6. Mass Effect 3 – XBOX360
The first two Mass Effect games were my Games of the Year and the first game was my game of the last decade. Mass Effect 3 was therefore a bit of a letdown. It wasn’t just the terrible ending, it just felt dull compared the supreme second entry. The series went further away from its RPG roots as the series progressed and ended up mainly as a Shooter. This diluted what made the series interesting in the first place.

5. Thomas Was Alone – PC
A nice little Indie game that makes you care about little blocks with its charming narrative and fun puzzle gameplay

4. Trials Evolution – XBOX360
I loved Trials 2, the only problem was that it was single player, Trials Evolution added an exciting multiplayer that had my friends and I chuckling away. The user made multiplayer tracks just added to a great experience.

3. Spec Ops the Line – PC
A great narrative makes some for some occasionally iffy shooter mechanics, you want to keep playing to find out what happens next.

2. F1 2012 – PC
The third time is a charm for Codemasters’ F1 series, the first game was good because it was the first entry for years. The second didn’t really hold my interest as it largely fixed the bugs from the first game while confusing with an odd menu system. The third game does away with the menus altogether and seeks to just get you racing quicker. The controls take a little getting used to but once you do they feel pretty tight. I am enjoying this game.

1. Max Payne – PC
After LA Noire lost me with its narrative and repetitive gameplay Max Payne did a great job of building my trust in Rockstar again. The controls are tight and exciting, the narrative is interesting and keeps you playing and the bullet time effects are great fun. All that plus it is a great game to look at and has a lot to offer. It is my game of 2012.

image from Rockstargames.com