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My old friend

  • Posted by howies
  • 30 October 2008


You can't beat the feeling of having fresh shoes. That wonderful aroma when you first take them out of the box and feeling like a king the first time you walk them down the street. They say so much about who you are and what you're about. Although Lord only knows what these battered old things are saying about me.

Most people I know bin their old shoes, but I never do. Take the shoe on the left. I probably should have thrown these things away years ago, but I can't. Even though I don't wear it anymore (or its other half ) I've kept it, just as I do all my other old shoes because of the way they evoke memories. When I look at them I feel good.

These were made by hand the old-fashioned way with black canvas and white rubber. They've got a classic gum sole which, to the uninitiated, makes that underneath look a bit like a potato waffle.

They're not the most comfortable shoe in the world - but they are grippy, familiar and safe, which is why I spent so much time skateboarding in them. I've probably worn them over 300 times. They look better now than when I first bought them too (although they smell a lot worse). The canvas has faded, the suede has gone bald and the white rubber outsole has yellowed and worn thin. There are ollie holes on the sides. They've done thousands of ollies. Even though I repaired them many times, the holes kept coming back.

I think they were born in Indonesia, but they came over on a boat when they were very young. I found them in a bargain bucket when I was visiting Manchester. They were b-grades that nobody else wanted. Since teaming up we've walked millions of strides together. We've danced a thousand twinkle-toed steps. They've propelled my skateboard for miles and miles. They were with me on what was probably my last ever skate at South Bank, and before that we went to Clearwater FL together on holiday. We've skated city streets, wooden ramps and concrete parks the length and breadth of this land. We've been on sandy beaches, through muddy fields, in the sea, through dog shit, cow shit and pigeon shit. They've endured spit, vomit, blood, sweat and beers. And they've never complained once. I dread to think what residues would be found if they were ever analysed in a lab.

Early next year I get to design a shoe, which for someone who loves shoes as much as me is pretty exciting.
I wonder where they will take me.

Don't use tomorrow to pay for today

  • Posted by howies
  • 30 October 2008


Whether you're a sub-Saharan nation or just a cashstrapped British shopper, debt's a killer. It kills your money. Because for as long as it hangs around, your debt means you can't make the most of today because you're still trying to pay for yesterday.

Personal debt's gone through the roof in this country. If you go and boil an egg right now, by the time it's ready Britain will be another £1m in debt.* By July last year, we collectively owed more than a trillion pounds (that's £1,000,000,000,000) on mortgages, loans and credit cards. Doesn't that seem just a little bit nuts?

Trouble is, everyone needs money. If you fancy a week's surfing, you need some cash. Even a couple of quiet pints requires the readies. And there are plenty of people out there who'll lend it to you. Or, in other words, to take a piece of your tomorrow in payment for today.

You might have a great week at the beach, or a cracking night out, but if you've done it on credit, it turns into a little black cloud over all the days it takes to pay off. (And sometimes a great big, fat black cloud.) Short term high, long-term low.

Living without debt means living without black clouds. It means living for today and tomorrow. It means escaping that feeling that you're constantly trying to dig your way out of a hole. (And, if it helps, remember it also means not adding to the squillions-worth of interest that the banks make every day, basically for doing nothing.)

From where we're sitting we just happen to think life's a lot more relaxed and fun if you can buy something without feeling that stab of guilt about your expanding overdraft, or the fact you should really be paying off the credit card.

Of course it means we can't have everything we want right now. But a bit of compromise today has got to be better than spending weeks, months or years with your options hemmed in by loan and credit card repayments.

Naturally, we'd hope you'll keep buying stuff from howies. It puts food on our table, after all. But if you can't afford something just now, we'd much rather you waited until you could. We accept cash, cheques and yes even credit cards. But we don't want your tomorrows.
We want you to have those.

by Mike Reed

*British household debt goes up by £1m every four minutes, according to the debt advice charity Credit Action. The trillion - pound UK debt figure comes from www.bbc.co.uk.

Work Hard Canoe Home

  • Posted by howies
  • 30 October 2008


After many years of living abroad, a man returned home one winter and found himself a small flat on the river. The flat had an ugly kitchen and horrible furniture but from the windows he could see swans and moor hens and coots, and at dawn and at dusk he could hear the songs of all the birds that had not flown South.

The man was happy in his flat, but he had only a little money and he wanted to find a way to live which would keep him from the pubs and the shops. So he took an allotment, which was also on the river, so that now he had a hobby and a place to grow his own food. And because on the bank of the allotment there stood a little mooring place to tie up boats, the man soon thought that it would be good to get a canoe to travel up and down from his flat to his land.

The man searched all around the town, and because it was then winter and few people were thinking of braving the icy river water, he eventually found a used canoe which he could afford. The man was excited but he asked himself 'What is the good in buying a canoe if it gets stolen?' So he told the canoe seller that he would be right back and he scurried off to buy a chain with which to lock up his canoe and keep it safe. But when the man returned to buy the canoe he found that the cold winter river had not put everyone off and that the canoe had just been sold.

In truth, the man was very cross with the canoe seller and he felt quite sad. He looked around for another canoe. But because by then the spring was getting closer, more people were thinking of getting onto the water, and the price of canoes began to rise and rise. So the man could not find a canoe he could afford.

The man told his story to an old, old friend, and for the man's birthday the old friend sent him a T-shirt on which were written the words 'Work Hard Canoe Home'.

It was true that the T-shirt was not a canoe and the man could hardly paddle it up to his allotment, but it certainly made the man feel better because it was a friendly present with a good picture on it and it was made from smooth, bright cotton.

So now the man wears his T-shirt when he works on the allotment and he has a security chain now so that next year, in the dead of winter, when prices are low, he can find himself a cheap canoe and buy it straight away. Until then, he stays out of the pubs and the shops and he eats his home grown vegetables and he looks at the river and he hears the birdsong and feels glad.

by Ed Lark

We do

  • Posted by howies
  • 30 October 2008


Do grow your own vegetables
Do smile and say hello to strangers
Do switch your mobile off
Do plant a tree
Do ride a bike* to work
Do stop e-mail
Do buy local
Do shred your credit cards
Do plant another tree
Do read books
Do live in a tee-pee
(at least one weekend)
Do crazy
Do love
Do hope
Do buy someone a cup of tea
Do take time out
We do

Next to the accelerator is the brake

  • Posted by howies
  • 30 October 2008


Not so many moons ago some 90 million bison stomped across the great plains of North America. Today there are just 3,600 left in The Yellowstone National Park (that includes the four featured in the picture below). To put that in perspective, Yellowstone Park holds the vast majority of what is left of the entire herd today. If we want to learn from this, we would do well to look at the Iroquois Confederacy. American Indians would only make a decision if they had considered the impact on the next seven generations. They would take a long-term view. They did not want a fast return or an exit strategy. They were connected to nature. They looked for a sustainable answer to their needs. 72,000 generations had taught them that. To them nature had to be worked with and looked after.

Today as we rush at great speed towards this thing called progress, it would be good if we
could apply their thinking to our world.
Maybe we could do with hitting the brake once in a while.

Maybe, we could plan a bit further ahead than tomorrow.

Watching Plants

  • Posted by howies
  • 30 October 2008


It's only for the dedicated. We wouldn't advise everyone to drop what they're doing and start watching plants and trees grow. You might get bored.

You might think nothing's happening. You might go and watch TV because there's more action over that way. But for the true believer in slowing life down, it might be one of the best things you ever do. Because you know that even if you can't see it, it's still happening. That tree is growing.

It's taking water up from the ground, and it's photosynthesizing sunlight. Leaves are unfurling, branches are reaching into new spaces and the trunk's getting a little bit fatter.

Life has been getting a bit faster for quite a while now.

We know what's going on everywhere, we fit people in and we all have to form opinions on new phenomena before we've had a chance to learn about them. So we like to park the fast stuff whenever we can. Taking it slow feels better for the soul, and doing one thing really well feels better than rushing five things and leaving them all half-finished. Your body likes you to keep it slow too. Your heart will only beat so many times in your lifetime, so it's probably a good idea to calm down and leave a little more space between those beats.

So go and your favourite local tree. Delve deep in the woods, nip down to the park or just have a look at the flowers in your backyard. They're all growing slow, just like they always did.

Give them a bit of your time and go easy on yourself. It's not a race.

Dan Germain

Leave your rubbish behind

  • Posted by howies
  • 30 October 2008


The leaking tap

The commute in

The tax bill

No clean socks

The pile of dirty dishes

That deadline

To do lists

No hot water

Paying the credit card bill late

Paying the credit card bill really late

Supermarket queues

Not having change for the shopping trolley

Another reality TV show

Parking ticket

Spam for Viagra

More spam for Viagra

The office stapler (with no staples)

Little things that become big things

Oh, you know, stuff









Uk's hours worked on average 1837 hours.

We work the longest hours in europe. Yet are the least productive

Feb 27th was 'it's work your proper hours day'.


Less Debt=More Play

  • Posted by howies
  • 30 October 2008


The banks make money by lending people money. They expect more to be paid back than the person borrowed. That is called interest. Building societies make money by helping people buy their house. They expect to be paid more back than the sum of which has been borrowed. This is called a mortgage. Credit card companies make money by people spending more than they can pay back in a month. This too is called interest.

Banks, Building societies and credit card companies are all useful things. And no one expects them not to make a profit from lending money to you or I. That's the deal. But credit cards and bank loans are pretty easy to get these days. But maybe that's part of the problem is that it has been made too easy to get credit. Because once you have one, and you aren't disciplined with it, then that's where it can become a bit of a trap. After all they work on the principle that you will bite off a bit more than you can chew. So you don't pay your credit card off at the end of month. You don't pay the mortgage off early. You also tend to increase the loan rather than the other way around.

So instead of some instant gratification try some delayed gratification. Instead of Buy Now, try Buy Later when you can afford it. Instead of spending, try some saving. If you donǃˆt have to stay on and feed the treadmill, you can get off of it at anytime. It's nice to have the freedom to do the things you love rather than the things you have to do. If a mate turns around and says lets go do a season over in Whistler, it would be great to say 'yeah, why not'.. Or to be able to decide to go backpacking around the world just at the drop of a hat. Or to take 6 months off work just to go get the fun. So save those pennies. Knowing you have this freedom will do more for you than you'd credit.

Live within your means.
To fulfil all your dreams.

P.S. If you are buying a howies product with a credit card, make sure you can pay it off this month. Or maybe you should buy it next month when you can afford it. We'd rather wait.
High street banks made around ¨£17 billion profit last year. That's ¨£45 million a day. Or ¨£500 a second.

HSBC is Britain's most profitable bank. They make around ¨£70 profit per customer.

helps you find a better interest rate on your credit card.

interesting information on banks etc.

ethical banks

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