Saturday, August 31, 2013

Is it time to Sell Yet


I'm Leaving Las Vegas
Lights so bright
Palm sweat, blackjack
On a Saturday night
Leaving Las Vegas
Leaving for good, for good
I'm leaving for good
I'm leaving for good

When is it time to buy (and stay) or sell (and leave) your property?

One's decision is usually a classic example of confirmation bias. This bias affects other purchases like your Stock and Bond portfolios.

I categorise people's minds into DOWNER and UPPER. 

Prices going down

DOWNER: Prices are dropping, I best sell my portfolio

UPPER: Prices are dropping, time to buy a bargain

Prices going up
DOWNER: Prices are rising, cannot last long, sell now and take profits

UPPER: Prices are rising, I thought so, buy more now for instant profit.

So you can see that your reaction to a change in asset values up/ down can promote 2 opposite reactions.   We need another way!

In the UK property market I would instead start by consulting a historical price guide like this

And for Stocks, well: intense and varied Internet research of course.  My conclusion for September: Only an idiot would buy [or even Short] in this War torn, risky month.

UK Postcode Property trends
September stocks example
October Debt Ceiling
Sheryl Leaving Las Vegas acoustic

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Least surprising news of the year:

This time 10 Billion Euros

The people I feel very sorry for are the residents of Cyprus.   I'm not sure why Greece should command  seemingly limitless EU generosity, whereas Cyprus just gets beaten up


And we are not talking fluffy kittens I am afraid.   Just a whole country which has got used to a Standard of Living and wealth that it cannot afford or justify.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


This is not so much a comment about war, more about how Politicians and Government assume their citizens must be incredibly stupid.

Thanks to a broadly consistent Worldwide media we can assume

  • The Assad Syrian regime is viewed as more evil than the Syrian rebels
  • Various Governments have been just waiting for a justifyable way of making military strikes against Assad
  • The Chemical Weapons attacks potentially provide the justification.  However there are the rather major points that  a) we don't know for sure who initiated the chemical weapons, b) there is no approved UN security council resolution
So what is for certain?

  • Massive submarine and warship presence in the Mediterranean
  • Rather substantial military traffic from UK/France/America  already headed to Cyprus
  • Hysterically comical press reports that any potential conflict will last only 'hours'   (yes, but what happens afterwards, do we remember Afghanistan, Iraq?)

Let's face it we are going to WAR, WAr War
(not jaw jaw ) regardless despite all rhetoric about a reasoned debate.

It is 100% certain

In footballer speak it is about 200% likely

Economically the US really really cannot afford this

The downward effect on US and European Stock Markets will be profound.

Brent Crude and Gold Prices will rise dramatically

UK resolution to the UN security council

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Only Thing Worse Than

The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about - Oscar Wilde

And so I regret to say I pass this brief comment on Apple.

What is up with your Security Guys, or perhaps these leaks are not so accidental?

Recently my Feedly RSS reader is being bombared with pictures of Gold Coloured Apple iPhones, Scratch Resistant iPhones, Plastic iPhones, iPhones in the Freezer (testing). The list seems endless.

Cannot the whole world focus on something else? Since we know their is a product launch on September 10, 2013, how about waiting until then.


After writing this I find Gizmodo said this a lot better than I

Gizmodo: The End of Apple Surprise

New Mail at Google

I never thought I would have anything good to say about the new Google Compose mail interface....

Google, finally dropped support for the older full screen interface, (the one that you could until recently revert back to. ) This is what I did about 6 months ago when the new Window within a window, compose interface came out.

But I've found you can make it occupy a separate non docked window

And whilst the position of the toolbar/ribbon to me is stupid, I suppose maybe it is just closer to the text you are typing for long emails (anybody other ideas why you would put it there?)

What I have grown to appreciate is the extended keyboard help that I can summon with the ? key

And the division of email into Primary, Social and Promotions Categories.    I can look thru the promotion headings and with a * a # delete them all

So overall, I  am not so miffed overall and will keep Gmail as my primary mail provider.  Let's hope they don't decide to drop Gmail for no apparent reason.  I would be rather upset.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I disagree

How different cultures politey disagree

I don’t agree (German)
I’m afraid I don’t share your opinion (French)
I agree, up to a point (British)
Let’s agree to disagree (British)
We agree (Japanese)
We agree if all of us agree (Swedish)
We agree and disagree at the same time (Chinese)
Have another cup of coffee (Finnish)
I agree with you, but I don’t think my board of directors will (Swiss)
You gotta be kidding (US)
You are the boss (Filipino)
I suppose anything’s possible (Brazilian)
Let’s go and have a Campari and talk about it tomorrow (Italian)

Lausanne Triathlon 2013

We are fresh back from the 2013 Lausanne Triathlon.Overall a very pleasant experience, read on..

Since the fun did not start till just after noon this Sunday we have not only a lazy rise from bed today but also a Saturday of only moderate exercise   (A gentle swim in the Lake).

Marcus Race Report
Swim: I kept it very easy.  Mostly because the water was extremely choppy. Last year  wetsuits were suddenly disallowed just before the start. This year, allowed.   Thank goodness.

Bike: 6 laps and a 7th lap up a hill to finish.  A tough and hilly course.  As usual nobody except the few [including me] followed the rules of overtake on the left and stick to the right if slow.   But still I had an excellent time, though riding the old Condor cycle,  I had to take it gently.  (But see later, something got broke anyway!)

Run: All went according to plan.  I had not pushed it overall so there was lots of energy to plod the 4x2.5km course, smiling, waving to Agata and enjoying the day.

Some Pictures

Random people running

Let's be honest.  The triathlon is a place to view many skimpily clad women and men!

Complimentary Massage service, but large queue

The Blue Carpet exit from the Bike transition

 Darling Agata  Lap 3 out of 4

Music was bearable

 Agata on Lap 4

 Agata crosses the finish line

Marcus and Agata in transition

Marcus 02:43,  Agata 03:06.  
We were very pleased considering the difficult conditions, and our [usual] lack of preparation.

I'm sorry to bring this up.  But this year of 2013 when we are cutting back we noticed the cost of this 335CHF (230GBP) day

200 CHF for Triathlon Registration for 2
60CHF for Day Triathlon licenses
50GBP (75CHF) for A new tyre and tube for Marcus

Bicycle Repair
Towards the end of the Triathlon Bike I noticed a definite cyclic bumping from the back wheel.  About 1 week ago there seemed to be a bulge in the tyre/tube.  By race end it was like a giant distortion.

Luckily the combination [even] survived the cycle home, so late tonight I was inspecting:

Tube is definitely defective, see the 3 defect bubbles.

Some considerable time later I've changed both Tyre and Tube  (lasted about 2000Km) for Continental Force 24mm rear and 50gram Continental Supersonic Inner tube

Marcus drank: 500ml freshly squeezed orange juice, 1 Nestle Powerbar and 2 SIS Gels

Thanks to Lausanne volunteers for their good natured support and in particular Medalit who special support is really appreciated!

Triathlon Website
Picassa Album

Friday, August 23, 2013

Saturday Sermon:Zoroastrianism

It is always good to know and learn about a new religion.

Most people are indoctrinated by their parents or community with a religion from birth.  It is usually something other than Zoroastrianism.  So this short video serves as a good introduction

Keeping Zoroastrianism alive after 3,000 years

Of course for Marcus Zoroastrianism has indeed brought the world a great man, some [other people] have called him Godlike.  I am of course referring to the singer Freddie Mercury :-)

Freddie was not known however as a practising Zoroastrian, although his parents certainly were.  This might summarise the position:

Freddie arranged his funeral before he died. He had a funeral conducted by Zoroastrian priests. I have never read or heard anything about Freddie ever becoming a Christian. He lived a hedonistic lifestyle full of sex, drugs and debauchery and did it well. He only stopped this lifestyle when he discovered he was ill. He lived with his partner, Jim Hutton, until the day he died and wore a gold band on his left hand ring finger that was given to him by Jim. "God" is a more generic term to him and was not necessarily used as a term associated with worship or faith.

Personally I would prefer to focus this forthcoming September 02, 2013, which is given to be Freddie Mercury day on the singer and not his parent's, well meaning though quirky religion

Friday Afternoon Contemplation

John Mayer: Perfectly Lonely

It is Friday Afternoon once again.  The posts this week have been contemplative and so to round off week 34, 2013 some music.  Please follow the links.

John Hiatt: Perfectly Good Guitar

Thursday, August 22, 2013

It was Dead Jim

In case you missed the bombshell: NASDAQ market index halted on Thursday August 22, 213

Timeline of halts:

December 1987: Squirrel cuts power cable

August 1994:      Another Squirrel Bites a Cable

August 2013:      NASDAQ halts again

Here are my favourite Internet Rumours

  1. The FED did it!
  2. AAPL (sub 500) did it  (see also )
  3. Another Squirrel did it

Only time will tell what the real issue was.

Meanwhile in other diabolicals this week

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

This is not going to end well

This post is all about the comments.  But first I need a short introduction to the principles of supply and demand.

The basic concept is that if you are trying to sell something but nobody is buying then the price will go down/collapse.   Conversely if you want to buy something that is in short supply, the buy price will go up.   It's kind of baby grade logic/ mathematics.

The Swiss National Bank for example, weakens, or artificially fixes the rate of the Swiss Franc to other currencies, by oversupplying Francs (CHF) to the world, by printing them and promising to exchange them to other countries at higher than free market pricing.  As such, the Swiss Francs per GB Pound or US Dollar or Euro goes down.  

Now let us return to the above chart.  Countries on the right have been selling US Treasuries and there has been a mystery  :-) buyer in the marketplace buying everything up, no questions asked.

Without that buyer the price would have collapsed.   The sellers might have got less money, but hey, in order not to spook the market, the mystery buyer just keeps on buying.

59 Billion Dollars in June

It is just mind boggling.

And now here is where the fun starts.

Please now goto this webpage

And read the comments below the graph.  I was quite literally in tears of laughter.

Unfortunately behind the tears of laughter there will ultimaely be tears of trajedy as the Buyer of Last Resort transfers its obligations to the US Taxpayer.

But I urge you to get back to the comments pages, 7 pages of classics and counting ......




Tuesday, August 20, 2013

90 minutes of Swiss Traffic

The Swiss Federal Statistics office has computed that the average Swiss spends an incredible 90 minutes in traffic daily!

You can read this (in English I am surprised to find)

Mobility and Transport 2013

This was reported in the online news site

I am simply staggered!

When Agata and Marcus first came to Switzerland one of the biggest selling points was that Agata's work place was about 10 minutes from work, and that none of her work colleagues travelled for more than 30 minutes to get to work.

This is still the case several years later.

And for Marcus, his  daily pottering time is 40 there and 55 minutes back, but that is on a bicycle!  By car it would be less than 20 minutes each way.

So all I can say is that people in Canton Vaud must have it very easy and if our journey times are less than 60 minutes, then some poor buggers must be up to nearly 2 hours daily, just to setup the average.

Canton Vaud is going up in my estimation daily, and of course the Jewel in the crown is of course Lausanne

And who said I am biased :-)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Trying not to be Cynical

I can just hardly believe that Marcus is falling for the same kind of drivel that I cautioned Agata against when she first lived in England with me.

Then, my EVO  (and other) magazines were full of scratch-cards, which when Agata scratched, would with surprising frequency reveal that she  had won an important prize.  Being new to the UK Agata naturally felt that the streets of England were in fact Paved with Gold

I had to enlighten her that it was most probably a telephone scam where one had to confrm the prize by telephone and the caller would be kept waiting on the high tariff number, before in fact finding they had not actually won.

And so back to the above.  We've been checking some old email accounts, first logon in about 6 years ... Apparently in May 2007 the National Lottery emailed us to say that we had won 2.5M GBP.  All we had to do was email / contact a claims manager.

Well I never, I was almost tempted to make that call!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ah Oranges, where art thou

Marcus's move to a healthier and more natural juice lifestyle has hit a recent roadblock.   Availability!

I would have thought this was exactly the right time for /Peak Orange Availability/ but certainly not so recently in Switzerland

You may recall that since January   we don't buy any fruit juices but only drink Orange juice squeezed minutes  before we drink it.

In the last few weeks however:

Aldi Switzerland:  No oranges in their Supermarkets

Coop Switzerland: A small quantity of oranges seen  (and usually bought)

So I consulted the Sunkist chart and have an explanation.  Unlike Oranges that are drunk from the Carton, real Oranges are mostly January -> June,  and now we are in August.

This is a bit of a shocker and it seems that I need to wait until December until more varieties become available other than Valencia.

Unitl then I'll have it seems to pay quite a premium for Oranges.  Well fancy that.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sunday Sermon:Are We Alone

"In This World"

Lordy don't leave me
All by myself

Good time's the devil
I'm a force of heaven

Lordy don't leave me
All by myself

So many time's I'm down
Down down

With the ground

Lordy don't leave me
All by myself

Whoa, in this world

Lordy don't leave me
All by myself

When you watch this video you may acknowledge why humans long to find a greater meaning than the here and now.

Surely one rationalises that mankind is not alone in this world: All by itself

But just longing for it to be true does not necessarily make it so.  

Let there be a light

Mike Oldfield in London Mike Oldfield - Let there be light/ York Remix

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Google Drive Saga Continued

The Google Drive catastrophe story continues.

Let me start by saying that I've always had a great affection for Google and so my following words are not published easily.

It's sort of like having a Girlfriend/ Boyfriend who you thought was fantastic.  But over time they begin to let you down.  Despite this new behaviour you continue to give them /every chance/  but you eventually realise the time when you will be happy to have them out of your lives.

And so back to Google Drive.  After June 29th  when I found some important differences between the local PC server and Cloud Storage Google Drive images I had to [expensively] revert back to Server only storage.

Then the plan was that thought July I'd experiment back with Google Drive and get it working again, and our relationship would be restored.

So it is about 7 weeks later and 


The recovery plan was:

  • Moved all files away from Server Directory G:\*\Google Drive

  • Now disconnect Google Driver

  • Without deleting any host files
  • Now reconnect, and it needs to redownload all files

Now it is downloading 500,000 files
(no new files added to Google Drive area whilst this occurs

After 2 weeks!!

Saturday 20130810

It was on the last sync of 50,000 files  (out of about 500,000)


In fact all of the 48,026 files are missing.  Looking at the filenames they are duplicates of valid names  (notice the (1) part of the name)

Recall during the time of the file sync NO file activity on the PC drive, well or for that matter Google Storage on Cloud

Notice on PC hard disk that an additional directory is present that is not on host so delete local directory, thus manually trying to sync

So I did that, now Google Drive is further confused.  It seems to consider the 200,000 files stored in wiki to need re-syncing, or at least re-evaluating (Recall that before the total was down to below 50,000).  Somewhat inconsistent, right!

In the middle of the sync of 200,000 I performed a normal stop whilst 98,000 files remained to be sync'd

Then a restart of Google Drive

After almost a further 24 hours:

Restarted and it now says 39814 files to be synchronised.  Just before crashing it HAD synchronised upto and including all of the previous total which was 98,000 or so

Getting worse.  It now just wants to Disconnect.   And then if you try to reconnect you must start with an unpopulated drive!  That would mean starting again from scratch, which is what I did before.

So now I'm resorting to isolating the directories from the cloud that can't seem to sync with the PC and excluding them.  For Google Drive you can only select everything or exclude one or more top level directories inside your drive ...

Example exclude website from synchronising but sync everything else.

Now on completion of this sync it transpires the directory that I unchecked  (and also deleted at the host) is marked by Google Drive as 'missing'.  It now wants me to disconnect and start again.

I tried it twice, and yes, no other option

So after 2 weeks of leaving the server on, even getting out the Air Conditioner (to keep the computer cool), and all this merely to get the Cloud 100GB in sync with the host.




And the final insult ...   I took all the host files and moved them to the BIN.  But there is no way to delete the files out of the BIN all at once.  Delete 100 files at a time from the 500,000 in the bin.  Great Idea Google!  I posted to Google here.  And by the way here is the link to the Drive Forum

The Last Sock

Every Friday after work,   I retire one pair of Business Socks. By which I mean they are discarded hopefully to the clothes recycling bin near our home in Lausanne.

Clearly this situation cannot continue.

Either  I will run out of socks, OR ???

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Good Service

Subtitle: Well Reasonable Service

Sometimes it is plausible to have some sympathy for retail motor dealers.   Over time, certainly in England,  increased competition has meant that New Car profit margins have been slipping.

Additionally,  another important revenue stream:  Car Servicing has been diminishing.

  • Modern cars are usually very reliable
  • Service intervals can commonly be once per year or even once per 18 months
  • The concept of the initial service, shortly after a new car sale is often gone. (Example for our Audi the dealer was not interested in a service after sale to change the oil.  They sort of refused me!)
  • Warranty durations have gone up.  5 years is not unheard of.
  • Servicing costs may be according to a fixed price scheme

And then we come to Switzerland.

Could it be the last bastion of the smug car dealer?

  1. Whilst the Swiss Franc has grown stronger by over 30% relative to UK and German currencies in the last few years, new car prices have stayed constant.
  2. Yes, it is totally un-frigging believable!
  3. As a sweetener some dealers introduced "free" peace of mind packages including free servicing for say 3 years.
  4. The government then introduced a punitive import duty on new, non dealer imported cars.  This killed overnight the growing importation marketplace where you could literally save 30% on the cost of your new example, German Car.
  5. As if by magic, Swiss car dealers who were beginning to think of offering moderate Car discounts, had a miraculous change of heart.
  6. Further, to counter the "free servicing" the cost of expendables like oil at garages miraculous inflated itself.  Here is my horror story from 2012

So you can call me downtrodden, or having low expectations BUT

I'd like to report a pleasurable Audi service from Audi Crissier Lausanne for our baby Audi TT.  2 year service/ 15K Km.

  • Audi Crissier gave me a quote for the service before hand
  • They did arrange and execute the change of our Front Brake Pads and disks under warranty to cure the squeaking
  • They performed the work according to time schedule promised
  • They cleaned the car
  • They stamped the service book
  • They spoke English to me
  • They cost was under 200 GBP, ( which by comparison is less than the cost of a weeks Food shopping)

Bravo Audi Crissier!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Considered Consumerism

I have long been a fan of Panasonic's linear motor drive waterproof shaver range.

They give you an excellent shave,  plus being waterproof you can not only use it in the shower, or use it with shaving cream, but clean it daily under the tap.

I reviewed it in detail here

Unfortunately the ES-LF71 model comes with a fancy charging and cleaning station which utilises specialist WES035 cleaning cartridges. Clearly I could not find these in Switzerland so an eBay purchase and wait later they arrived.

They were expensive, but of course work fine.

If you follow Panasonic's logic you can get a great shave, then when your shave is dirty you can pop it into the dock where it can be cleaned, and then dried.   The whole process takes over 30 minutes.

But when I step back the process can be seen in a more sinister light

  • The cartridges are expensive.  Over 15GBP (i.e. >20 CHF USD) for 2.
  • At that cost I can imagine the shave costing me >1 US Dollar per week, just in cartridges.  That's a wonderful revenue stream to you Panasonic!
  • They are custom plastic, and not recyclable

  • I begin to cringe when I think of the materials used to make the dock, and the materials used to make the cartridges.   I can just put the shaver under the tap instead!

In my case the shaver was on special offer, and this was the only Panasonic model I could find with a Power switch, useful so it does not turn itself on whilst you are travelling (causing both a potential problem at an airport, plus a dead discharged shaver at your destination, where you did not bring the charger since you were travelling).

ALL of this rant is just a metaphor or an exemplar for Considered Consumerism

  • By all means buy something that does its primary job well
  • But watch out for running costs
  • And  special parts which are unnecessary and environmentally wasteful
  • Start with the small items and move up to larger wastes

When these cartridges run out,  I plan to go back to water only washing.

Peter Singer on Altruism