Tuesday, June 28, 2016

BREXIT: The Fallout

Doom Merchants
I told you so
You will be Sorry

Prior to the BREXIT referendum vote the REMAIN campaign made a series of desperate gloom ridden forecasts on issues from the cost of holidaying abroad to stock market collapse and beyond.  Post LEAVE winning I now see a re-referendum petition has been taken over by grumpy losers


Bad Sports
The key points are

- there was an extended campaign
- Britain voted to leave the EU/ EEC
- That is bloody it
- No second referendum is needed.  Come on

Another Bad Sport

Speaking of bad sports the leader of the Scottish National Party, of course Nicola Sturgeon now connives to remain with the EC, despite losing her previous Independence referendum vote.


UK Political Woes
A close friend considering changing his/her BREXIT vote because of the damage that might be done to the Conservative party.  But in practice they should not have worried.  The Labor party is the one that is really in the shit.

Jeremy Corbyn holds crisis talks with shadow cabinet.

Cameron walks the plank, but with honour IMHO.

In the following days let us see what happens.

Financial Perspective:
Too early to tell, but visions of long term financial catastrophe will have to wait by definition.   Short term, I expect volatility, some chaos, but no true calamity.

If CHF to GBP comes down to 1.1, then we can start talking.

German Perspective: Merkel: No need to be nasty

USA Perspective: US and UK special relationship is 'enduring', Obama says after Brexit


All Markets Down
Markets may be down.  But all the following markets are tragically overvalued, even at cob Monday June 26:   UK, USA, Japan.  Still overvalued by at least 20% IMHO, and this is a pre-BREXIT evaluation.

Ways Forward
Become aware of what formalities the UK must go through== 
Article 50: The Guide

If you want to currency speculate transfer money from CHF/USD etcetera to GBP now.   This policy works best if you might actually need to spend GBP forthwith, in which case you just bought yourself a nice benefit.

Dead Ringers

Then relax bt listening to Dead Ringers,  whatever your political leanings or beliefs about the BREXIT, it will hit the spot.

Monday, June 27, 2016

50 ways to leave your [ex] Lover

50 Ways

I am of course referring to the British exit from the EU.

First of all I would direct you to read the infamous article 50.  Why here of course

Or the simpler version is here

I can credit Reuters with only 10 ways  many of which make little sense.  So until we come up with 40 more bogus ways we will have to settle for:


Happy reading.

50 ways

Congratulations to three.co.uk

I have to express a warm thanks to the three mobile network.  That is


After the horrific loss of property that Agata and Marcus suffered last week  we have been struggling to recover.

When you have such a loss you need not just a calm head but you need some logistical help.  And a good Internet and Phone connection is in these days of 2016 a must.  Mandatory.

Unfortunately roaming Internet from our adopted home country Switzerland is not possible economically.  What a surprise!

Also in France it is not possible to buy a cheap native Pay as You Go Datasim with multiple GB of data capacity   ( do tell me if our research is wrong please! And yes we tried Free).   This is possible in a number of our other favourite and often visited European countries including England and Poland.

And in this case my UK, three.co.uk phone account comes to the rescue.

If you follow this link

to the feel at home section

You will notice that for many European countries data roaming without too many limits is now possible.

Well, I found that for unlimited data at UK home, it is limited to 12GB in Europe.  This is a pretty large limit, even for Marcus and Agata, the only gotcha is that this connection from your smartphone cannot be hotspot shared

As a test I off course tried to hotspot the connection and was rather surprised when the PC that was attempting the share got a /BAD: you are trying to share this connection illegally/ message.  Sort of Impressive!

So finally
Marcus will not forget this great assistance that three.co.uk has been in our time of need.  Calling banks, credit card companies, insurance companies,  all of that was made easier thanks to three and I'm now sort of a fanboy and will write soon to tell them so personally.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

LokSak Waterproof Phone Bag Review

Subtitle: Not bad then

At a recent Cycle Exhibition in Switzerland one of the stalls was selling LokSak, Waterproof Smartphone bags.  And for a bargain price.  Since this is Switzerland I nearly fainted with shock.   Here is my review

But I have a Case
First off you might not need a cover, but as Athletes we have some specific requirements

- First we take our phones everywhere.  Imagine you are in the mountains, with phone signal, but lost.  There are so many reasons why you should always carry a phone during your training exercise, and for most Ultra trail competitions, a phone is a mandatory kit item, just like a jacket or a whistle.

- If we are out exercising it is likely we will be sweating!  And it could easily be raining.  So water, or salty moisture is likely to attack our phone

For this reason a hard shell or even a folding case covering the front is not sufficient.

You really something that is waterproof.

A Plastic Bag
Until LokSak Marcus used the Plastic Bag re-cycle strategy.

Simply, you find a heavyweight, watertight plastic bag.  Put the phone in it, and I select one that is long enough to have a simply fold to stop water getting in.

This won't work if you fall into a lake, but it will keep the phone totally dry in the rain   (of course you are using Bluetooth headphones so the bag is totally closed without headphone lead).

This is an actual photo of a particularly strong plastic bag that lasted the last 5 months, that is over 400 individual uses, before it tore and had to be replaced.


I bought two loksak bags and the newer design has a double ziplock seal.

Unfortunately after about 3 weeks of use, this split at the top, and so I've repaired it with the unsightly duct tape shown on the left

We are now into month2 of usage, about  5 weeks in

So the views are

- The idea is that you can see the display inside the bag, it's waterproof and you can use the touchscreen and press the buttons.  All without getting the phone out.

Sounds fantastic right?

- The loksak is a little wide, they have different bags for different phone sizes.  The consequence is that pushing the phones side buttons feels like its stressing the plastic body of loksak.  But it is still working and it's still waterproof.

- I did test the waterproof in a sink of water.  Yes it works.  For us though we don't intend to use the phone in a bag underwater.  That would be crazy.  Just inside the bag whilst out exercising in all weathers.

- As you can see between the used and original bags the transparency seems to be fading

- The advantage over a regular plastic bag being able to operate the phone without removal is good.  Though for photos I do take it out, so its not always a saving.

- Putting the phone in and closing the seals is very fast, and faster than putting into the old plastic bag and folding over.

Well if it wasn't for the plastic between the two seals splitting and having to be duct taped I would have given this product a full thumbs up.   Now I still recommend it.  The cost for 2 bags for about 10 USD i.e. 10 CHF.  More than the 0 cost for the reused plastic bag.  If it lasts say 2 months for 2 bags then I'm pretty happy, so it's still an OKay buy.

Loksak Waterproof Phone Bags

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Heartbroken and Upset

Subtitle: Robbed Blind

This is a short and bitter post to almost cry and scream aloud on the Internet about the fact that our beautiful Motorhome has been broken into at great loss to ourselves.

This just happened in Avignon France.

We had packed the usual load of mainly professional Sports equipment in training preparation for our French etape stage which is in some weeks time.

We left our Motorhome to goto the famous /Palais des Papes/  and after paying returned to our motorhome to find

- Stolen Bicycles
- In particular Agatas Ribble, Black, Shimano Dura Ace 7900 bicycle.  her only bicycle.  Without which our holiday is diminished and her etape is clearly impossible without replacement
- In particular Marcus' beautiful hand crafted Ribble / Dedacciai  Red framed HF 83+ and Shimano Dura Ace 9000 bicycle.
- Stolen computers
- Sports equipment for example swimming, players, specialist equipment gone
- Our sports timers and watches gone
- Even my specialist bicycle lights and trail running lights stolen
- Even my reading glasses stolen
Our bicycles were discretely placed inside the motor home and our motorhome is also discreet and not in any way standing out in france aside from the Swiss registration plates.

Time and Money
Specialist equipment like this can't be adequately insured  (please let us know if you know different for Swiss residents, suffering a loss outside of Switzerland in a mobile home).  So we face a major financial loss in the order of 5 figures CHF/ USD,  because the even the raw cost of the bicycles was in that order.

BUT TIME is the even greater issue.  Nearly everything that was stolen was researched, and in most cases, bought on special offer and hand crafted in the case of our race bicycles.  This took many months to do, in most cases it was evolutionary.  A change of braking systems here, a new carbon fibre seat there etc.

We are basically totally screwed.  

Oh, and they broke our motorhome too.

We try to approach life in a benevolent, tolerant and giving fashion, but events like this make us wonder if this effort is really worth it or not.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Shitournalism Part2

Subtitle: Shit Journalism #2

Marcus already commented on the state of Apple rumour journalism here

I also commented that the Hardware-less WWDC announcements were appropriate

Unfortunately I had forgotten one important factor.  Namely that only an actual hardware announcement would stem the flow of absolute drivel that I continue to face on a daily basis via my RSS articles feed.

Of the 1000 articles of a variety of topics that I scan and read if appropriate,  the number of Apple speculation articles is preposterously high.

Another One
In this latest piece of twaddle


- They say that the iPhone 7, will have an audio jack and 2 SIM slots
- They make reference to a set of photographs, from a repair company,  wow, what a quality source
- In those photographs, I see a dual camera, reference to Sandisk Memory component
- I did not see any Audio Jack
- In a linked photograph I see a Dual SIM part, but not in a completed phone
- Are you shitting me?

Strong language, because this is just a total waste of my time.  I can't think of any rational person that would take this of evidence of anything.

But if I was to believe it,  the story would be

a) Apple decided to remove audio jack
b) Apple thinks again and puts it back
c) Apple gives us dual-sim, which Asian carrier have done for perhaps the last decade and is common Industry Smartphone practice  (even OnePlus now has a Dual SIM offering)

Real Engineering
Real Engineering takes time and involves prototypes.  Prototypes are made with features and tested.  Not all features make the final production design and manufacture.

If we think back to the olden days, with some IBM equipment I was familiar with, whole hardware features might be included, produced, and not switched on or disclosed or used.  Because there was not the time to document, code (the associated Software) and adequately test them

Back in the day,  my Zilog Z80,  which I initially had to hand debug, in Hex,  had undisclosed instructions, that never made the docs.

The Answer
I am going to make a list of the sites that are sending me this drivel.  And see over a period of some weeks the ratio per site of drivel to value.  And if the drivel ratio is too high then disconnect.  And if it gets worse, take the extreme step.  Step of the grid; into a ultra marathon trail running programme.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

BREXIT: Make your Mind Up Time

Today is voting day for BREXIT.   If you have registered to vote, then make sure that you do.

I believe the primary consideration should be the health of your country, that is Britain, post vote.   If you feel leaving will make the country more prosperous, more together, or better by the metrics that you choose and value, then vote LEAVE.  Else if the reverse is true vote REMAIN

Peter Gabriel:JeuxSansFrontières‬

Secondary Considerations
What I think should not be a deciding factor are secondary matters outside the main question.   Here are some factors that should NOT influence your voting choice

- But voting LEAVE will crush the Conservative party
- EC won't trust us if we vote REMAIN
- EC says they will punish us if we LEAVE
- America won't like us if we LEAVE
- But Germany wants us to REMAIN
- But the EC will collapse if we vote LEAVE

In Out Shake it All About

So please, Dear Brits.  Just VOTE!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The End of Money as we know it

Mervyn King: The End of Alchemy

Subtitle: The End of Savings as we know it

Last week, in a further attempt to simplify Marcus' life I have began reconciling, or well actually closing Bank Accounts.  It's like this:

- In the old days you had a Current or checking account
- Then perhaps a Savings or Money Market account

- But today, thanks to Money Printing, Zero and and in some cases NIRP Central Bank Interest rates, deposit account interest is close to zero.

How close?

- Bank account of 1000 CHF  (about 1000 USD)
- Interest per year 0.1 CHF  (10 cents!!)

Multiply this up:  for a Deposit of 10,000,000  [10 million CHF aka 10 million dollars] , interest would be 1000 CHF, in other words not enough to live on, for 1 year.

So if the banks would lend me money on the same basis that they are crediting me,    I could

- borrow 10M CHF
- use 100K CHF per year to live on
- pay my 1000CHF interest to them to keep it legal and nice and tidy
- leaves me 99K per year of usable income
- This would last me 100 years.  Surely enough.

Indeed,   Are you F*****ing kidding me?

- Yes, the banks won't lend me millions of CHF
- However Central Banks worldwide  (well Japan, European Central Bank,  Bank of England, Federal Reserve) are creating money, ie. inflating the money supply like confetti.

I was relieved to hear that India under the control of Raghuram Rajan has not caved to such short term prosper, long term, catastrophic mechanism.  See here

In view of the ultimately not only counterproductive but unworkable idea of printing money and saddling future generations with debt, one could implement this idea personally.  Well, in fact, you're just mirroring the Government's monetary strategy right ...

Death with Debt Strategy
Moral and Ethical considerations aside  (i.e. the follow is knowingly leaving the world in a shittier place than when you entered)

- You knowingly take on huge debt
- At very low to almost zero Interest
- You service the debt and don't pay it off
- You get old, and die with the debt
- The debtors take the hit

Youth with Debt Strategy
Moral and Ethical considerations aside (i.e. your policy is flawed,  unplanned, illogical, arguably burdening others, but you have to survive)

- You take on large by your metrics debt as a student  (tuition and accommodation costs)
- You are unable to save for a Mortgage at today's House Prices
- You give up on the housing market
- You believe in the new generation of social services like Uber, or airbnb.  You don't invest in your own car for example.
- You don't take out a pension or save for retirement, because your savings are so small, there is just no point
- You believe that eventually somebody will sort it out

Is there an answer then?

My sagely advice would be

- Take the 30 minutes of your life to watch the  above YouTube video please

- Personally I will buy and read/ listen to Melvyn's book
- There are no simple answers
- QE (Money printing),  Government Bank bond purchases and other monetary and fiscal tampering mechanisms have clearly failed.
- Such Mechanism work only in the short term, and only if everybody else is not doing it too, in which case even the short term effects are nullified.
- Luckily for Marcus and Agata our 2 most invested countries  (UK and Switzerland) are not in the Euro, the Euro currency is not sustainable even in the medium term.
- If you have only Euro investments, including Pension Funds, consider diversifying them.  You have time, say an 18 month horizon.  Invest elsewhere.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

General Guisan 2016

Pre General Guisan

Subtitle: Ouch and Ouch

After the day spent at Chamonix volunteering we came away with some satisfaction, but also knackered quads from our brief mountain run.

Later that night, literally every step was agony, and so we were not sure if we could or should attempt the forthcoming 40Km hike / march that is called General Guisan.

For background on Guisan see our 2015 attempt

2016 Attempt
Since Lausanne and Vaud Canton Switzerland is experiencing weeks of torrential rain, a dry Saturday morning forced the issue.

Although every flippin step, even to walk was excruciatingly painful, we got up, got on some hiking gear, and got to the race start at Mezieres for a respectable pre 09.00

We still did not know if we could actually jog, but we thought at worst we'd have to walk the 40Km.   The race plan was:

- If it is flat plod / jog
- If it is a descent: plod / jog ...in pain
- If it is a hill: walk

Less than 5Km and we spot the crazy wooden house

 Agata is getting away again.  She is fast

 Stop 1

 Men in military uniforms with Swiss flags

 Beware of the killer squirrels

 Stop 2

 Stop 3

 Agata says get a flippin move on

 Split point for the 40Km marche

 Good Swiss Cows

 More Swiss Cows

 One of many tractors

 Gingerbread house

 Stop 4

Marcus manages a smile, though we are both still in leg based ouch agony.

 Stop 5

We get held up at the crossing for the longest time!  But for that our finish time would have been substantially quicker of course :-)

 Stop 6

5Km to go!

Vintage Tractor

A wall of cobwebs over 20 metres long.  Unbelievable and just a bit creepy

 We finished!

Our checkpoint card

Later that Day
Our closest small town and also metro stop is Sallaz.

For over 1 year, no in fact for over 2 years now they have been buggering about knocking down buildings, resurfacing, rebuilding the library  (yes with books!!) and rebuilding some accommodation.

Today was the /we really have finished/ celebration

Best bit for us was the munchkins playing on stage.  Very sweet.  Not shown but next to the stage a flock of proud parents congregated.

And Finally
Time to get back home finally and celebrate the end of the day with a spot of wine in our General Guisan commemorative glasses.  As you can see we have several years of them  ( one per entry)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Cleaning up the Mountain

Subtitle: Volunteering

Marcus and Agata are recently back from a trip to the Ski resort of Chamonix.   Now there is a resident Glaciar so skiing or snow sports are still possible even in June.

But no, we were simply Cleaning up the Mountain.

Every year the Canadian Sports company Arc'teryx  puts on a paid Sporting event where snowsports tuition can be experienced at modest prices,  and of course using Arc'teryx equipment.

It is an opportunity for the Company,  and for those interested in teaching and receiving tuition in climbing etc.

Our Bit
For our part, Marcus, Agata, Kathy and Dominic did the day 0 event.   Yes,  we decided to give our time and effort and drive all the way to Chamonix for a full day [unpaid] volunteering.

We met in Chamonix at Arc'teryx hq.  Later they would have some product displays, but when we arrived we just got a black bin liner, some latex gloves, and a T shirt that doubled as a lift pass.

A Steep Slope
We went upto the mid station to clean and Marcus, Agata and Kathy were told to walk around with at least 20 other people, with our bin liners to clean.

Marcus found that by the edge of the Bar was a steep almost vertical slope, covered in rubbish like plastic cups, beer cans.   Obviously nobody else was stupid enough to decend that rather wet and dodgy mountain side to clean ...

Ideal I thought, so long as I don't slip down the mountainside and kill myself, this will be really productive.

I tried to use the rule, always have one hand firmly holding something solid, the second hand holding an increasingly heavy bin liner or rubbish, before edging around.  No jumping from place to place like you would do in the movies.

So a while later Kathy and Dominic and Agata arrived to help me climb out which was a bit tricky since my rubbish bag was now too heavy.

 Agata, Dominic and Kathy

 Yes, we picked up a huge pile of rubbish

 A nice break for lunch

We admired the topically altered signs

A Mountain Descent

Stupidly in retrospect, Marcus and Agata thought it would be a brilliant idea to trail run down from the mid station to Chamonix town.

Though only about a 6Km descent we were under some time pressure, because the second part of the cleanup was in some selective town areas, and we did not want to be too late to arrive [everybody else took the cable car]

After about 3Km of descent, and a few near slides and falls we both admitted to be tired

After about 5Km, we both agreed our legs were shaking

Shaking is not good because it means that the next day, typically your Quads  (ie the large muscles on the top of your legs above your knees) would be in agony and need about 2 days+ recovery

Sure enough, 12 hours later our legs are in /agony/ recovery and we have a 40Km hike/ race/ run to attend to.  ooops.

About Volunteering
and Charitable Work

Marcus' thought are:

+ Do it because you have the time
+ If it makes you feel good
+ Only if you can afford it  (since you won't be paid)

- Not because you make yourself busy to avoid caring for yourself
- Not because you want to look Good
- Not if its a substitute for something the Government should be providing.  Two obvious examples:  Education, HealthCare

So it was the end of another busy day.  We really enjoyed the cleaning and the company. We arrived back to Lausanne.  It was tanking down with rain, just like it has been all summer so far.

Arc'teryx clean up mountain day