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Posts posted by dstanners


    Welcome to my world @Gambatte! Daily conversation with Kid 1: ““ALL OF THE OTHER KIDS HAVE GOT….[insert relevant console name, or mobile phone for that matter]”


    Presently the console of hope/desire/need/nightmares is the Nintendo Switch. Quite a few of his 11 year old friends have got a Switch, but definitely not all of them.


    He already has a laptop as a present for starting Gymnasium, but it's not really made for gaming. A couple of weeks ago he used some of his birthday money (with our consent) to buy Minecraft. Microsoft allow you to limit their access and also playing time, but to be honest so far we haven’t had a problem limiting his game time, as:

    1) he has to do his homework beforehand,

    2) he has other stuff he wants to do,

    3) he knows that when I tell him he has been on for long enough (somewhere around the 30 minute to an hour mark, depending on whether I’m busy!) the choice is to go along with it, or lose the laptop for a few days.


    Don’t read too much into the Console=play, Laptop=educational though. From what I can see, our kid spends most of his time on Minecraft (nominally "educational") punching sheep.


    Our current thoughts are that we will get him a Switch for Christmas with Mario Kart 8 (the game that: "ALL THE OTHER KIDS..."), but it will be with the same provisos as the Minecraft playing.


    A bit like with junk food/chocolate/TV, our view is allowing some controlled access today, may stop it becoming an obsession for them to binge on in future years.


    Let us know what you decide.


  2. Wind speed has been a bit closer to, if not over, three figures here in the Eifel. Generally it's lovely living in a log cabin up a mountain, but at 5/6am this morning it felt like the whole house might take off. No unseasonal damage (as yet) though. I've just got to collect my cement mixer from the field next door (for some reason that always takes off), and gather about 10kg of walnuts from under the trees (most have already been gathered over the past few weeks).


  3. Here is the basis on which they have agreed they can discuss:

    Ergebnis der Sondierungen.pdf_bn-234442324.pdf (welt.de)

    There are an awful lot of platitudes about cutting red tape and digitalisation, which is a lot easier to say that put into any practical form: particularly given that both of those words form the basis for the vast majority of the programme. For example, cutting red tape and digitalisation are going to be responsible for building more renewable energy plants and also more houses. Knowing how much fuss gets kicked up as soon as someone suggests building a wind turbine here in the Eifel, I wonder how many people consider the right of local residents to be involved in planning discussions and appeal decision to be pointless red tape?

    There are a few concrete points though, including not to impose a general speed limit, and increase minimum wage to 12 euros.

    Enjoy reading.



  4. 15 minutes ago, optimista said:

    75km an hour will be dissuasive

    It was 75mph, so fast enough for the motorway. I guess whilst the weight would make it thirsty, as long as there is scope to charge it via the solar panels, that doesn't really matter.


  5. I think this is a really good idea. One of the benefits of electric vehicles should be being able to move beyond the shape/space requirements which have been the norm for petrol vehicles, so I've been surprised how much electric vehicle manufacturers have stuck with the pre-existing format (I can only assume they think consumers will only buy what they know). This idea seems to make excellent use of the freedom provided by electric vehicles. I can't help but think they missed a trick on the extended solar panels, which could have doubled up as an awning for an even larger tent though.

    Students’ solar-powered camper van turns heads on 1,800-mile road trip | Electric, hybrid and low-emission cars | The Guardian


  6. 4 hours ago, MikeMelga said:

    First, it's not about making it legal. You just decriminilize it

    Decriminalising possession sounds like one of those nice "half way houses" to people who agree that the "war on drugs" has failed, but are more concerned that their middle class kids at uni might get a criminal record for smoking a joint and miss the big picture. I think that is flawed. If you legalise drugs, you remove the criminal element from the supply chain: that has to be the real potential upside...and of course, once production is lawful, it can be taxed (as well as quality controlled) and still remain cheaper than an illegal product.





  7. 56 minutes ago, keith2011 said:

    the waiting times in A&E, the cost of renting/buying housing, the length of the lines waiting for food handouts, the cost of getting a university education, how much you would get on the dole then compare salaries but don't try and tell me " the UK was not doing badly in the EU

    Being in the EU didn't mean that everything was brilliant. All of the examples you have given are a direct result of domestic policy by governments elected by the UK population. Financial deregulation in the 80s has fuelled the house price boom and resulting owner/renter inequality, foodbanks are Cameron's legacy to those on lower incomes and university fees were introduced by Blair and set wild by Cameron. The EU didn't implement them, nor was it able to stop them.

    The fact that the EU is neither perfect, nor a sure route to success for all Member States on all fronts, is no justification for leaving.


  8. I know a few of us use Transferwise (now Wise), and when transferring some cash last month I bought some shares (not a huge amount) because I like the business. They seem pretty volatile (regular 5% daily swings), which makes me wonder whether there is some day trading going on, or existing stock owners cashing out. I usually invest and forget so don't really care about daily changes, but as I bought these via an online platform I get lots of updates. Anyone else invest? 


  9. If you want an easy online platform for investing here in Germany, I have an account with scalable capital, and found it very straight-forward. It costs next to nothing (off the top of my head, I think it is about 10 euros a month for unlimited trades). There are plenty of other similar platforms for Germany though (trade republic, etoro usw) and you can google reviews comparing them.

    From the SC platform you can invest in many individual stocks/shares, commodities (also crypto currencies) and thousands of ETFs. 

    To my mind there are three apparent downsides to scalable capital:

    1) their prime funds (the ones they recommend) haven't performed that well. That is of course only a problem if you want to follow someone else's tips. However, from your messages, it sounds as though that may be precisely what you are after/need;

    2) there is a lag of about two or three days between you transferring the cash into the platform and that money being available to invest. These days there is no real justification for that, other than that being one of the ways SC makes its money (sitting on deposits);

    3) shares are limited to those traded on Gettex (which is still quite a lot).

    So, now I'll end with the caveat that I'm not a financial adviser, and it sounds like that may be your best first step!



  10. Kid 1 has returned home with the results of his first Klassenarbeit from Gymnasium (he was previously at a Waldorf school, so it was also his first ever school test in Germany). He got a 2, in German.



  11. Sounds like you want a new start. There are lots of friendly folk in both Hamburg and Cologne. Glad to hear you are trying to speak German - keep up with that. It'll be the key to making friends. Oh, and as Kiplette said, join a club...neighbourhood/village club, volunteer fire brigade, local walking group, 1FC/FCSP supporters' club...so many options.

    As for being rude, something you may have already noticed if your German is up to speed, is that Johnny German loves to speak in the imperative. This makes them sound rude/unfriendly, but they don't mean anything by it.  




  12. Good to have a first hand account from @French bean. I was speaking with my (UK-based) family over the weekend, and over the past fortnight they (in social services) have lost a few drivers who have gone to take up contracts as lorry drivers, as the delivery companies have started to increase rates massively (anecdotally an increase of £20 per hour). It seems as though this was a sector which was long-overdue a re-assessment of rates. Perhaps if the bit of hardship (empty shelves etc) caused by Brexit, leads to an increase in rates for certain professions, then the short-term hardship might not be such a bad thing. Perhaps a realisation that not all work should be a race to the bottom on price.


  13. 9 minutes ago, Dembo said:

    it seems to me that Schulz and Laschett are now in a race to see who can get the FDP on side

    Whilst it was being discussed a fair bit last night, that's a bit of a side show in terms of forming an effective coalition. The parties who really need to speak to one another are FDP and the Greens. Each of those parties would be willing to work with CDU or SPD (although they each have a preference) but that isn't enough. FDP and Greens are diametrically opposed on many key issues, and have to consider what they will concede to each other (more than CDU or SPD) in order to form a government. 


  14. You'd normally get a response pretty quickly (a day or two) unless the house is being sold as part of an estate requiring approval from all beneficiaries, then it can take a week or more.

    Two issues: 1) it's a sellers' market at present (I live near the RLP border), and 2) the price negotiations aren't as common a practice as they are in the UK/US. Taking those points in turn:

    1) The houses I've seen for sale over the past 6 months have all gone for at least the asking price. Most have gone for more.

    2) Even when it is not a sellers' market, from my experience there are plenty of Germans who put their home for sale at a price without really considering the possibility that someone might make a lower offer. If their house doesn't sell at a particular price, they might lower the advertised price at a later date. If you make a lower offer, many of these folk would assume you cannot afford more.


    So, as @karin_brenig has suggested, if you are genuinely interested in the house, call the seller (or agent, if one is involved), let them know that you remain interested, and ask for their view on your offer. Don't get your hopes up though - my guess is that they have sold it to someone else.




  15. It sounds like you are just making cosmetic changes to your garden and not building anything, so it doesn't inherently seem as something which would require a permit.

    For info, you can take a look at para 62 of the NRW BauOrdnung, which lists the buildings which do NOT require a permit:

    SGV § 62 (Fn 15) Verfahrensfreie Bauvorhaben, Beseitigung von Anlagen | RECHT.NRW.DE

    From what you have described, at most, placing some tiles would be a form of "Aufschuetterung"  covered by sub-para 9, and given you wouldn't want them to be over 2 meters high, under 2 meters deep or cover an area of over 400 square meters, you should be good to go.

    If you are still unsure, call your local Bauamt and ask them. In my experience, they are surprisingly helpful.


  16. 4 hours ago, Fietsrad said:

    "Laschet managed to come fourth from a field of three!", laughed a commentator.

    I missed that comment, but that was pretty much what I was thinking too. Scholz seems to be a shoe-in. I'm not really convinced by him, but he is a slick operator when it comes to handling the questions from both the moderators and (when he thought it was useful) the other participants. It seems that alone might be enough to win him the election.

    Although voting by post makes life easier, there's just something about voting in person which I prefer. We often have "Wahlschoppen" here in the village too which makes it more of an event: we had a turnout of almost 90% for the EU elections a few years ago. 




  17. On 11/09/2021, 20:54:12, kiplette said:

    In the UK, the kids get brought in to FS1 or the Reception class and left to weep with their new teacher, whilst the parents shove off (weeping or cheering, depending) until the end of the day. It is so much better here - a real rite of passage, and a great celebration.

    Great summary of both the first day of school in the UK, and how it compares with Germany. From my experience, kids here in Germany are quite a bit more positive about school in general, than in England. I wonder whether it is precisely this sort of start to school life which sets them up for a more positive experience? 


  18. Ha, yes, @emkayI have seen those. Of course along with Indiana Jones the 80s also gave us those Kathleen Turner/Michael Douglas films Romancing the Stone and Jewel in the Nile, which had plenty of treasure hunting in too. I remember liking those two films at the time and finding them pretty funny, but I guess the fact that neither seems to get an outing on TV any more (even in Germany) would suggest that perhaps neither stood the test of time.

    Whilst it isn't as selfless as skipping treasure hunting, when son 1 was born I had tickets to England v Wales at Twickenham and for son 2 I gave up a ticket for an Ashes Test at Edgbaston. So, I lost kudos for poor sporting attendance, but gained a bit in family relations...my kids would give me grief if they discovered I'd chosen to watch sport instead of their births, and my nephew is still very grateful for the tickets he ended using.