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Posts posted by Neil373

  1. I find the most annoying thing about the EC card is not being able to use it in different European countries. I have a Commerzbank EC card which will let me do everything in Germany, but will only allow me to take out cash in any other Euro country, and a UBS EC card on my Euro account in Switzerland which only seems to work at cash machines in Euro countries, but works no problem in the UK in GBP.


    Fortunately, all petrol stations take Visa/Mastercard, otherwise I'd currently be trying to push my car down the hard shoulder of the A5 between Frankfurt and Basel :-)


  2. If I wrote a list of all of my pet hates about living in Germany and then added that to my list of pet hates about living in Switzerland it still wouldn't be half as long as my list of pet hates about living back in Blighty.


    The German police did stop me and try to fine me for cycling through a stop sign once, but that was back in the good old days before the wall came down so I got off by claiming diplomatic immunity :-)


  3. Kamil has now moved down to Zürich, but he'll be able to tell you who to contact at 1880.


    @Tommy - please edit your post and PM Kamil's email address to Big-Bonus. If you publish an email address on a bulletin board then there are systems which will identify the address and poor old Kamil will have his inbox filled with spam mails advertising viagra.





  4. If it's 7.30am on a Sunday morning and you've been out drinking since rugby match started at lunchtime the previous day then I heartily recommed "Toffis", you can get a sort of English breakfast washed down with a great Bloody Mary. Or if you're too sick to eat, ask for the Legionaire's Breakfast... A black coffee, a glass of brandy and a filterless gauloise cigarette.


  5. The bookfair is good, but go on the last day as most of the stands sell off a lot of their stock at bargain prices. I bought a rucksack full of English books there last year for the price of a couple of paperbacks at Heathrow airport.


    A couple of tips:


    Take lots of cash, and in small denomination notes, as they often don't have enough change.


    Don't be afraid to haggle.


    They don't always advertaise that the books are for sale, so you have to go and ask at each stand if they are selling their stocks. Unfortunately, several of the large UK publishing houses won't sell any of their stock, but it's always worth asking.


  6. :(


    I'd love a couple of pints of Guinness this evening but 420kms is a bit too far to drive for a pint.


    Mind you, I do miss wandering in there on Saturday afternoons and being abused by Paddy Kelpie when he comes in steaming drunk from the night before and tries to pour me a pint (Is he still managing the place or has he finally been sacked?).


    ahhh the good old days !



    As regards online referendums - we are already seeing those, eg with N-TVs online telephone polls. I wouldnt mind betting that in 20-30 years time, maybe even earlier, we might be deciding all major issues by mouse click and have done away with the current voting system altogether. Good or bad? Discuss!

    I'm going to sit on the fence on this one and say...Good and Bad.


    Good because we, the people, can wrest control away from the often corrupt professional politicians and have a more direct say in the affairs of our countries.


    Bad because the majority of the electorate are unfortunately neither educated nor informed enough to make decisions that affect the lives of millions.


    For example, how many people in UK vote Labour because "My father voted Labour his whole life and if it's good enough for him then it's good enough for me" or Conservative because "my family have always voted conservative... besides, Daddy would disown me if I voted liberal...isn't that right Camilla?"


    Unfortunately, political education in many countries is left up to the families, and many young voters have already been brainwashed by the time they get the chance to vote in their first general election. They have never been exposed to the arguments of "the other side". perhaps the right to vote should only be given to those who attend a short (impartial) course on politics and government.



    If they want to influence the direction a country is going then they should change their nationality to that of the country they want to change.

    Neilg I quite agree... only another 10 years living in Switzerland and I'll be able to vote...yippee!!


    But why are we getting so het up about voting anyway? Is it really that effective?


    Does the electorate of a western civilised country really have the power to change things these days?


    - Your choice of party to vote for is extremely limited, to stand a chance of getting something changed you can normally only vote for one of three parties, and it is extremely unlikely you will find a party that supports all of your views.


    - You can rant and rave as much as you like, even organise protests with 100.000 people, but your combined voice will be a mere whisper in comparision to the Blue-Chip CEO who has a quiet word in the ear of the Chancellor/Prime Minister to say "Change the tax laws to favour me or I'll close down all my factories in this country and outsource everything to China".


    - Once your chosen party does get into power, how many of it's election promises does it actually keep...10%? may be 20% if you're lucky. Even governments don't have the power to change all that much, they're too busy trying to keep the country afloat on a day to day basis.


    - Most of the governments in Europe are mainstream centre parties, the policies of Labour, Conservatives & LibDem in the UK are not radically different, it's not like we have a large communist or facist party to worry about. Over time, this has led to the electorate becoming apathetic, people don't bother voting because they think that whoever gets in power will run the country in pretty much the same way as the previous government... and on the whole, they are right.


    The only way to have an effective electorate is for the people to be involved in the day to day dcisions of government, and the only way to do that is to have referendums on practically every decision. I would like to see a society where at least a proportion of the voting power in parliament (e.g. 650 parliamentary votes and another 650 votes directly (and proportionally) representing the votes from the public) is given directly to the people and I can come home in the evening, flick on my PC, log in and cast my vote on the days referendums: "Do you think the UK should declare war on Norway? Please vote Yes, No or Abstain"


    If you really want to change things then go into politics, otherwise, just make the best of it (not lump it) and get on with life, life's too short to get stressed about politics.


  9. Rick, if you go to Hamburg mabe you can find a ship unloading tea and throw it all into the harbour in protest :lol:


    When I moved to Germany it was by my own free will, I could have stayed in UK and exercised my vote there (in fact, I still can - and will, as soon as I find somebody worth voting for). But I decided to move to Germany for five years, and now Switzerland, and I'm quite happy to give up my right to vote in the national elections of my host country in return for certain benefits that I wouldn't get in the UK, for example, an efficient public transport system and pubs that don't kick you out at 11pm (or midnight as I believe it will soon be).


    "No taxation without representation" is only a just cause to fight for if you don't have a choice, and as expats, most of us do have a choice - we can vote with our feet. If you don't like the regime of your host country then either return to your native country or go and find a country that you do like.


    I believe that in most countries, after you have lived there for a certain period of time, you can apply for citizenship and the right to vote, so if you're particularly keen to exercise your democratic right then just hang in there until you qualify for citizenship! :P


  10. BIC/IBAN 101


    A BIC Code is a Bank Identifier Code issued by SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Communication). Think of it like an email address, SWIFT provides a messaging system which moves money from bank to bank, and each bank is identified by a BIC code.


    The BIC Code is made up of several parts, for example, the BIC code where I work is PARBCHZZ. The first four letters identify the institution, in this case PARB stands for BNP PARIBAS, the next two the country - CH for Switzerland and the last two the city ZZ for Zürich.


    E.G. Commerzbank Franfkurt is COBADEFF, Natwest in London is NWBKGB2L and so on


    If you need to find your BIC code, look here.


    The IBAN (International Bank Account Number) is a system devised so that transfers between individual bank accounts in different countries can be processed automatically. To do this a format was agreed upon which would allow the payment systems of the clearing bank to immediately know the exact bank account that a payment is supposed to go to. The IBAN is formed using the following information:


    The 2 digit code for the country of your bank (which is provided by the BIC code of your bank)

    A 2 digit checksum

    Your Bank Sort Code (Bankleitzahl)

    Your Account number


    For example, if you have an account with the number 3751569 at Commerzbank in Frankfurt your IBAN would be DE30500400000003751569, broken down as follows:


    DE - Country

    30 - Checksum

    50040000 - BLZ (sort code) of Commerzbank Frankfurt

    0003751569 - Account number (three zeroes added as fillers because the account number was not long enough for IBAN rules - 22 characters)


    (Oh, and before any of you ask... I just made up that account number, but you never know, it could exist, if you're feeling generous, try transferring some money to it and confuse the hell out of some poor Frankfurter!!!)


    Here is an example of a UK IBAN:IBAN: GB99 RBOS 1234 56 12 3456 78


    The spaces are only put in to help you read the number more easily, if you enter an IBAN on your online banking you do not need to incude them.


    And that's about it ! Every bank account in the world can now be identified by it's BIC & IBAN... big brother is most certainly watching you.


    I hope that clears up some of the mystery for you J-M.







    In light of your failure to make the correct decision in electing your

    President, thus yet again showing you to be unfit to govern yourselves, we hereby

    give you notice of the revocation of your independence effective as of Monday 15th November 2004.


    Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties

    over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she

    doesn't much fancy.


    Your new Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Tony Blair M.P., for the 97.85% of

    you unaware of the outside world, will appoint a Minister for America

    without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be

    disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated in twelve months time to

    determine if any of you noticed.


    To aid your transition into a British Crown Dependency, the following

    rules are introduced with immediate effect:


    1. All citizens are to look up "revocation" in the Oxford English

    Dictionary. While there, check the pronunciation guide for "aluminium" -

    this may be surprising for you. Generally attempt to raise your vocabulary

    to acceptable levels. Look up "vocabulary". Using the same 27 words

    interspersed with "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable form of

    communication. Look up "interspersed".


    2. There is no such thing as "U.S. English". We will let Microsoft know on

    your behalf.


    3. Learn to distinguish British and Australian accents. It's not



    4. Hollywood will henceforth be required to occasionally cast Englishmen

    as good guys.


    5. Re-learn your original anthem, "God Save the Queen". Please ensure that

    you have complied with the first law before attempting this.


    6. Stop playing American "football". There is only one kind of "football".

    What you refer to as "football" is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you

    aware of a world outside of your borders may have noticed that no one else

    plays it. Play proper football instead; to start with get the girls to help

    you - it is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, eventually, be

    allowed to play rugby, which is similar to American "football", but does not

    involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full Kevlar body

    armour like nancies.


    7. Declare war on Quebec and France, using nukes if they give you any

    merde. The 97.85% of you unaware of the outside world should count

    yourselves lucky - the Russians have never really been bad guys. "Merde" is

    French for "sh*t".


    8. 4th July is no longer a public holiday. 2nd November will be the new

    national holiday.


    9. American cars are hereby banned. They are crap; it's for your own good.

    When we show you German cars you'll understand.


    10. Please tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us crazy.