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What’s next for the UK economy? #FinanceFriday

I’ve checked the price of gold this morning and looked at how the stock market is performing. The price of gold over the week has fallen and the stock market was boosted on Tuesday but has fallen since. This shows that investors have been selling gold to buy into the stock market but today the gold price is rising, so investors are nervous again. The news of a successful vaccine from AstraZeneca boosted the stock market but doubts have been cast on the validity of the trial which has made investors nervous. There was an error but I’m sure the data is sound. I think they will need a further trial and it should include participants in the US, which is a major market.

what's next?

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A Covid Christmas? #health

Many people are now thinking about Christmas now the Prime Minister has set out the restrictions for the festive season. As always, the new rules for a Covid Christmas seem confused and unclear. We are supposed to form an “exclusive” bubble to minimize the chances of transmitting the virus. The important word here is “exclusive”. People within the three household bubble can see each other but no one outside the bubble. Can we trust other people in the bubble to obey the bubble rules? What if there is a teenager in the bubble who is likely to sneak out to visit friends?

covid Christmas?

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Keeping the camera level #photography

On Sunday, I went into the town centre to photograph our conservation zone. It will be improved over the next three years as part of a Heritage Action Zone. I wanted a shot of the clock tower but as I was taking my first shot someone started talking to me. He was sitting in his car about six feet away and asked what camera I was using. Of course, I can talk about photography all day but it was cold and I have poor circulation in my fingers! I took a few shots of the clock tower but I was too close to it and had to tilt the camera upwards. I prefer to take shots like that with the camera level. Keeping the camera level can be difficult, it can tilt on two axes. You can put a spirit level in the flash hot shoe. My camera has a feature to help me with the one axis and stop me from tilting it sideways.

Wednesbury Town

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Elf and safety #ramble

Once again, it’s Sunday morning and so I’ll share my thoughts with you. Overall I think the government has been fairly pragmatic in dealing with the pandemic but leadership has been lacking. In China, everyone wore masks even on the street. They didn’t mess about. The police enforced the wearing of masks and they sprayed the streets with disinfectant. They built hospitals at break-neck speeds. Their experts (not politicians) addressed the nation. Despite having a huge population, China had a total of around 86,000 cases and 4,600 deaths. The UK has had 1.49 million cases and around 55,000 deaths. The UK from the start was ill-prepared. China was short of PPE too but they ramped up production and faced up to the crisis. The UK exported PPE and told people masks wouldn’t protect them. The government was thinking about money, not our ‘elf and safety!

Looking after my elf

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An expanding money supply #FinanceFriday

When investors are fearful and expecting the worst they buy gold. An expanding money supply also prompts investors to buy gold. The price of gold has gone up all year driven by that demand but the gold bull run is coming to an end as investors see better opportunities. They are returning to the stock market but for some strange reason, they are also turning to cryptocurrencies. Should you join the rush to buy bitcoin? I’m not tempted but if you can afford to buy into oil and natural gas then that would seem to be a good investment as the world economy gets moving again.

an expanding money supply

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Christmas with covid #ramble

I live alone and so I spend a lot of time by myself. It allows me to write, edit photographs and play Grand Theft Auto without interruptions! It can be lonely, especially at Christmas. Christmas with covid will be even worse and many others will be lonely too. I’ll try to think of ways to keep in contact with people and the telephone and texts are the obvious way to do that. Today, I have a meeting that will be conducted using Zoom. That is a new aspect of technology I will have to get used to.

Ted and eddy

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Experiments in art #photography

We now have darker days and we can take more atmospheric pictures. We need to keep the shutter speed quite fast for our landscape pictures while controlling the exposure for a darker more atmospheric shot. If you want lighter pictures that highlight those wonderful autumn colours you can try using the pop-up flash to highlight leaves that are close to the camera or even use a Speedlight on high power.

experiments in art

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Crazy people and Facebook memes #ramble

It’s Sunday morning and so as always, I’ll share my thoughts with you. Facebook is driving me nuts and wasting my time this morning. One of those loony anti-vaxxers posted one of their conspiracy theory memes on one of my business pages. I want to delete it and ban him. Facebook refuses to cooperate! I wish they would stop changing Facebook and start fixing the errors. I wish I could say these crazy people have no influence but they are obsessed and so they just keep posting misinformation and spreading the anti-science memes. Facebook needs to be more proactive against these crazy people too.

crazy people

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Friday the 13th #FinanceFriday

There was some optimism in the London stock market at the beginning of the week. The Biden win coupled with news of success with a vaccine from Pfizer boosted the market. However, the week is ending on Friday the 13th with the virus spreading at an alarming rate and central bankers urging caution.

Friday the 13th

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Mental health in 2020 #psychology

It has been a difficult year with covid and mental health has been a problem for many people. It has highlighted the need for more mental health provision and better mental health provision. Some people suffer year after year and even when they get some help the therapies on offer seem inadequate and ineffective.

mental health
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Age of the image #photography

Last night I watched Age of the Image on BBC iPlayer. it explored historical images and the power of the image to deliver a message. We all produce images now and the selfie is our modern-day equivalent of a portrait. Some bloggers are now called “influencers” and they use images to influence people. The image is a photograph but it is wrapped in words that enforce the messages. This truly is the age of the image, images are everywhere.

age of the image

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Trading with eToro #FinanceFriday

I’ve been trading with eToro for the past few months and I’m very aware that over 70% of investors lose money trading CFDs (contracts for difference). I started making a small profit, in dollar terms yesterday but I’m still making a loss when I take into account the exchange rate. Trading with eToro isn’t a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. It is interesting and I do get live stock  and commodity prices. My investment is modest and so I’m only trading stocks at the moment. I bought Microsoft this week and so far I’m in profit. Of course, it costs money to trade and the costs are hard to assess. Unlike other trading platforms that charge a fee, eToro is commission-free but you lose money on the spread between the buy and sell prices. eToro only shows one price which I think is the mid-price.

trading with eToro
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Still-life in lockdown #photography

There are lots of different kinds of photography and still-life isn’t an obvious one. Still-life is associated more with drawing or painting but it can be an interesting way to practise your photography. I’m planning on some still life photography through the lockdown which starts this week. I can find things to photograph and play around with the arrangements and colours. I can also edit the photos and see what I can do that is interesting in PhotoScape. So still life photography has lots of creative options.

still-life

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Remember, remember the fifth of November. #ramble

It’s Sunday morning and so as usual I’ll share my thoughts with you. OK, I’ll admit it, my mind is starting to go. I spent the whole day yesterday thinking it was Sunday. I even wrote a blog post which I don’t usually do on a Saturday. I’m now progressing from losing my memory to not knowing what day of the week it is! Every day is very similar, though. Anyway, remember, remember the fifth of November was a reminder of Guy Fawkes’s attempt at blowing up parliament. Now we have a lockdown starting on the fifth of November. Will the fifth of November ever be the same again? We should firmly blame Boris and his chums for a distinct lack of leadership, I think their thinking is fuzzier than mine. We can also blame the idiots who “don’t believe in Covid” and those spreading conspiracy theories.

remember the fifth of November

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Falling dominoes and other thoughts #ramble

We have all seen those falling dominoes. One domino falls and that cause the next to fall and the next to fall and so on. We are all falling dominoes in a pandemic. A super-spreader can infect more than one person and over a wide area if they travel around. There are some people who don’t believe in covid! They should be taken to a hospital to see for themselves. I blame the government to some extent, in the 80’s the message was clear about AIDS. We saw gravestones in TV advertising warning of the dangers; now we have fumbling bumbling Boris dithering and talking about personal freedom.

falling dominoes

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Autumn colours #photography

I went out on Sunday and took a few photos of the autumn colours. Photography helps me get much-needed exercise but it was damp and chilly on Sunday so I didn’t stay out too long. The colours of autumn can give us great photos but the colours can become a mass of oranges and red without anything clearly defined.

autumn colours
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Preparing for another lockdown? #ramble

It’s Sunday morning and so as usual on a Sunday I’ll share my thoughts with you. Avoiding contact with people is difficult and I live alone so I miss having visitors. This is likely to continue right through the winter. The only thing to do is to adopt a positive mindset and accept the limitations. Many people are not accepting the limitations and will enjoy Christmas as they usually do. I expect they will be drinking too much, crowding into shops and hugging each other in drunken denial of the situation. Should we be preparing for Christmas or preparing for another lockdown?

preparing for another lockdown
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It is going to be a long winter. #FinanceFriday

As covid infections rise I fear that it will be even worse when winter arrives. A half-term lockdown has been rejected by the government but that will probably make a Christmas lockdown more likely. The limit for contactless payments with a debit card was increased earlier this year to £45 but the Bank of England says that people are holding more cash. It seems likely that people who normally use a lot of cash and spend it in the shops and pubs are withdrawing the same amounts but saving it and spending less in places like the pubs. They will spend it eventually of course, which could give the economy a boost. The way things stand now, the economy is likely to get worse before it gets better; it is going to be a long winter.

It is going to be a long winter

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A long winter and a mental health crisis? #health

The covid epidemic is worsening and the government is losing any little respect it once had. It couldn’t even come to an agreement with Andy Burnham, mayor of Manchester on new restrictions there. It should have at least tried to protect the incomes of those on minimum wage. They will now have to try to survive a winter of stress and mental health problems while negotiating the minefield that is claiming benefits. They won’t find it easy and it will be too much for some.

mental health crisis

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Shooting in a dark grey light #photography

I went out to take some photographs of our conservation zone on Sunday before the renovation starts. It was a dark grey light with an overcast sky. The light was diffused and I had little shadow and that made my shots a bit flat.

dark grey light

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Do dead flies go to heaven? #ramble

Do dead flies go to heaven? I imagine there are religious people who would object to that question. If your belief system isn’t robust enough to withstand questions then it’s a bit fragile. People tend to believe all sorts of things and their beliefs won’t stand up to scrutiny. Scientific belief, however, can usually hold up to scrutiny. The laws of science have to be proven before they are accepted and there is a distinction between the laws of science and scientific theories. In religion, there is no distinction. So heaven might be full of flies or it might not or heaven might be just a theory and not exist at all.

Do dead flies go to heaven?

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Is inflation the price we have to pay as a result of covid #financefriday

The transmission rate for covid in the UK continues to rise as the government seems to prefer to ignore the science in favour of trying to keep the economy open. Is it delaying the inevitable? Wetherspoons pub chain reported a loss this morning and Marstons announced job losses. In the long run, people will have to pay more for their pint if they drink in a pub so why haven’t they increased prices?  Prices will also have to go up in cinemas and theatres as they have to get used to smaller audiences. Inflation is the price we will have to pay for not getting this epidemic under control.

the price we have to pay

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Ideas for composition #photography

The composition is important in photography at all levels. It is the first thing you learn about. It is also fun to experiment with composition and try something new to see if it works. When we look at a photograph we make comparisons. Although the photograph itself is flat we see a landscape that has depth and we see the scene going away from us. We unconsciously compare the size of different things in the picture and assess how far away things are. We see things in the foreground as being closer to us because of their size relative to similar things in the background.

composition

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Twisting the narrative #ramble

Once again it’s Sunday morning and so I’ll share my thoughts with you. People still claim that the government is trying to control them. There was another comment on Facebook about Bill Gates having an interest in a vaccine company. In fact, Bill Gates has a foundation that tries to vaccinate children again deadly diseases in the third world. People twist the narrative to create their own narrative that aligns with their own twisted view of the world.

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