kapokanadensis

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About kapokanadensis

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  • Location Stuttgart
  • Nationality Canadian
  • Hometown Peterborough
  • Gender Male
  • Year of birth 1979
  • Interests Lots of stuff, nature, everything plants, woodworking, car and home repair, badminton, cycling, squash, darts, road trips, hiking, films, reading....

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  1. The dumbest person I have ever met!

    When it comes to firewood, old Swabian guys are like Snoop Dogg ist to Marijuana.  As soon as there is the slightest whiff, they materialise out of nowhere as if they've been beamed in by the Enterprise.  It happens every now and again that you'll get a tap on the shoulder as you've got the chainsaw going full-blast cutting up wood - 'Was machen Sie mit dem Holz?'   We were taking down a huge cedar with the help of a crane truck, so BIG chunks of tree coming down at a time.  I was working ground crew that day, and we were working hard to get the pieces cut up and chipped so the climber could keep working.  Suddenly there's this old guy grabbing chunks of wood, as I'm cutting them off!  then he goes to the other groundsperson, grabs that wood, as giant chunks of tree are being lowered and the climber is sawing away up above.    I stop him, and in my limited German at the time, explain: Look around, we're all wearing helmets!  The implied Anglosphere meaning is of course - piss off!   He taps his nose, runs off.  A few minutes later, there he is again, wearing a construction helmet!  I learned a great deal about the literal-mindedness of Germans that day.  I did manage to get him to piss off though.  
  2. The dumbest person I have ever met!

      You would think, however that girl with the stitches recently managed to procreate...
  3. The dumbest person I have ever met!

    A lot of idiocy on the jobsite:   I assigned my coworker to clean-up and chipping duty, as I was up a tree and I needed the better guy to help with the ropes, getting branches safely to the ground.  Got finished up to a point where I could take a break, came out of the tree and rounded the corner to where the guy was operating the chipper.  There he was, standing with one leg in the hopper of the running machine, supporting himself by holding on to the safety shut-off bar, and ramming a chunk of wood towards the business end of the machine with his other foot, not a few centimetres from the feed mechanism.  The whole town heard some pretty choice English swear-words that day.    That same guy was helping on another tree take-down.  When you don't have enough room to drop a tree, you have to dismantle it.  I got to the point where the tip had to be taken down, so you tie it back to the tree and have your groundsperson get it down in a controlled fasion.  The big trick is, you can't just grab it, you have to feather it as it falls, for good reason.  I explained this seven times, including just before I made the final back-cut - feather it, don't just stop it!  So the tip falls, and he grabs it.  I saw this and got my spikes out of the tree and bear-hugged the stem just in time to get the rodeo ride of my life.  Again, with the English swear words that day.    Another guy who couldn't get through a garden gate three times before he figured out he should turn the branches he was carrying... Another who cut his finger off with a battery-powered hedgeclipper because he tied the safety off and attempted to catch it as he stumbled off a ladder... Another who needed 16 stitches in her thigh by using a running hedgeclipper like a machete... that same girl 15 metres up a tree with a chainsaw with no helmet, safety glasses, steel lanyard, hearing protection, chainsaw pants, main rope or a chainsaw license... stupid stupid stupid.   
  4. Or:  Oh hey, you're from Canada, do you know Greg from Vancouver?    Sorry guys, but it's just a slightly gigantic country, I don't know Greg from Vancouver.
  5. You guys are mostly just, like, Americans, right?
  6. Selling a car in Germany

    All those calls you're getting are resellers, they've got their phones rigged to automatically call as soon as an ad like yours is posted.  So, like you said, virtually instantaneous.  Also super, super annoying.  Don't bother with any of those guys, they will ask you to hold the car for them, or offer a ridiculously low price, or spin some nonesense about buying a car for their dear old mom or some BS like that.   Only sell in person, only negotiate in person, don't hold the car for any one, and take cash only.  Once you demand those things, the resellers will back off quick enough, and you should be able to get through to the people who are seriously interested.  
  7. Alternatives to selling my car

      You might consider not having a car at all if this is the case, company car included.  It would be parked at least 99% of the time, it's difficult to justify any major cost outlay for that amount of (dis)usage.    Check out www.mrmoneymustache.com, you might find some useful tips there on how to rearrange your financial situation and tackle your debt.  It's all about money, but also a lot of it is about acknowledging your irrational mammal behaviour and tempering it in order to live a more fulfillled life.   It's fun reading.  
  8. Alternatives to selling my car

      It's much more than that.  The running costs on a bigger car are more expensive than those of a smaller car - that difference is a loss.  The interest and fees that you have been paying on the loan is a loss.  The depreciation of the new vehicle is entirely your loss.  The lost interest on other potential uses of that money is an opportunity cost, and therefore also a loss.  Had you bought a used car, the depreciation would be significantly lower.  Had you bought a transit pass and a bike instead of a car, even more so.  These are more useful comparisons, and can help you get a better picture of your situation.  New cars are a tremendously good way to make lots of your money quickly evaporate.  You are out thousands and thousands of Euros.   500 € a month for a car is REALLY expensive!  That's 6000 a year out of your after tax income!  Useful is to calculate a per kilometer cost to a car - my big diesel truck that I own outright costs me 45 cents a kilometer, only 15 cents is fuel - adds up real quick.  A new car that you're still paying for is much more expensive per km.  Looking at it this way helps me decide whether to drive or to take transit or the bike.  Train tickets are super cheap when compared on a per km basis, and bikes nearly free.    But, don't worry about it, it's in the past!  Make some changes and dig yourself out, no biggie!  Just don't fool yourself into thinking it's just a couple of thousand Euros, that kind of thinking allows you to slip back into the same behaviour in the future.  
  9. German house insulation vs US?

    It depends on the age of the house and condition it's in.  Modern houses in Ontario are still built with wooden frames and brick veneer (Vinyl in the Maritimes - so ugly).  But, the level of insulation is steadily improving.  Prior to WW2, houses in Canada were wood-frame with no insulation, just a dead air space between the exterior sheathing and interior wall.  Often those houses had an unheated crawlspace or nothing at all below, also with no insulation in the floor joists or attic.  But, they were built with the idea of burning coal or cords and cords of wood to heat them in winter, which at the time were cheap and abundant.  Those places are cold in winter, but very pleasant in summer.   After the war, houses started having vapour barriers out of tar paper installed, and occasionally using thin bats of fibreglass insulation between the wall studs and in the attic.  Plus, the houses were generally smaller too, so, snug.    That progressed to pvc vapour barriers, tyvek external sheathing, and better, thicker fibreglass insulation (which I have installed quite enough of in my life).  Modern houses are pretty good.  Now what's available is spray-on insulation which covers everything in between the wall studs, and is enormously effective, done before the drywall goes on and after all of the plumbing and electrics are installed.    My inlaws were very unimpressed with the Canadian style of building, and constantly expressed their worries about us burning up in a house fire in our wooden house.  Honestly, fuck em', wood frame houses are cozy, easy to reconfigure, easy to heat, easy to build, and can last hundreds of years.  In every city here in Germany are prime examples of ancient wood-frame houses that have withstood the test of time - they're called Fachwerkhäuser, there's one here in town that's 550 years old.    
  10. Do people at the "Ausländerbehörde" speak English?

      There are so very many ways that Germany is more difficult than it needs to be, but in my experience the Ausländeramt in Stuttgart has been a great exception.  The whole process for me was pretty straightforward, the Beamter mostly polite and professional, easy breezy.  Compare that to getting Permanent Resident status in Canada for my wife - holy cow what a difference.  The immigration process in Germany is orders of magnitude easier than it is in Canada.  Nobody at the Ausländeramt spoke English to me though...  
  11. Alternatives to selling my car

    Like you said, that car is costing you, even when it's sitting around.  It's a compromise, the longer you own it, the more of a hit in depreciation and ownership costs you'll take, but on the other hand the more desperate you are, the lower the price you'll get.  Jump on the first reasonable offer and be done with it.  Learn from your mistake, pay down your debt as fast as you can, and don't get yourself into that position again.    Why would it take you four years to pay down 12k in debt?  That's only 3k a year, are you earning minimum wage or something?  I have a very modest income, probably much less than yours if you have a company car, and could knock that shit down in a year or less.  Get hardcore and get out of debt.  So long as you have consumer debt on stupid shit like cars, (furniture, cell phones, eating out...) you have negative net worth (unless offset by other assets), which is a crappy position to be in.  Understand that regardless of your income, if you have negative net worth, you are POOR!  That means: no private car, no vacations, no eating out, no club nights, no Netflix or TV, no clothing purchases beyond the absolute necessities, nothing not absolutely necessary, until you have the resources to pay for them out of pocket and not worry about having enough to pay the bills.   You can do this, good luck!  
  12. Flower market/wholesale flowers

    There are loads of u-pick gardens around, where you can pick what you want and leave money in a box on an honour system, usually by the roadside.  I know of one in Mainhardt, there are others certainly closer to Stuttgart, don't know any off hand.  They are obviously very seasonal, and the logistics of it would be difficult and time consuming.  Better to order from a florist, and have that headache looked after for you, you've got enough on your plate as it is, what with a wedding to plan and all.   At any farmer's market there are flower sellers, there is one at the market in Bad Cannstatt.  Whether they are significantly cheaper than a florist is debatable.    You might make up a wish list of what you want, and get quotes from two or three florists, you might get a better deal that way.    
  13. Diesel cars banned in Frankfurt

      No, you can't.  Unlike gasoline cars, where you can indeed just top off an empty tank and drive away, you need to bleed the air out of the fuel system in a diesel before it will run again.  From that standpoint, a diesel is no better than an LPG.
  14. How to work legally as a cleaner

    @mingos, alarm bells are ringing when you say 'freelance cleaner'.  Have you been approached by a cleaning company that wants you to work for them as a subcontractor?  Did they offer you a 'good' deal at 15€/Hr?  If this is your situation, turn away from it.   And don't worry about paying income tax, it's entirely fair at normal income levels, and you do get a lot for it.    If you have an income of 13000 €, you'll pay some tax, but not a lot.
  15. Buying an Erholungsgrundstück (??)

    Question the logic of purchasing a weekend house.  It will tie up a significant amount of your capital that can be invested elsewhere - this means significant opportunity costs.  It won't appreciate in value significantly, and in the meantime will cost you in maintenance, repairs and taxes.  It would sit empty most of the time, costing you even when you're not using it.    Renting a Ferienwohnung over a long weekend once every month or two would probably work out cheaper, even in the long run, plus you get to explore different areas that way, not being obligated to go back to the same place all the time.  If you're not going to live there, and you can't rent it out, it's not a good investment.