Cookie Notice

However, this blog is a US service and this site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services and analyze traffic. Your IP address and user-agent are shared with Google along with performance and security metrics to ensure quality of service, generate usage statistics, and to detect and address abuse.

Friday, 27 May 2016


Feiertag or holiday post .....

There are four bank-holidays in May here, and this one fell on a Thursday so of course everyone has taken a long weekend and I'm the only idjit working! So relax and enjoy some housey pics, dear reader, for today is polemic free on the blog. If you don't like house renovation posts, apols.

Kitchen range
The old kitchen range and chimney dated from ~1920s as far as I can tell and were past their sell-by date in terms of being the main heat source for winters when -20° here in the high valley is not unusual. However, I took it out with great care, lots of photos and measured sketches and will pack all the bits on a pallet in the barn and shrink wrap. Over a tonne of brick, tile and mortar went in the skip. 

Chimney sweeps here also have a quasi-official function in that they must pass working chimneys as fit for use - and the old one was shot. They have an arcane scale of charges for the bi-annual cleaning - if the bottom door is less than 300mm from the floor, for instance, you pay a penalty fee for cleaning. So a new chimney for both the kitchen range / boiler and the big wood stove in the living room. Both logs not pellets - the valley will get cut-off from time to time and one needs to be able to burn the furniture if necessary ... wood is currently 40€ / m3 if you carry whole 'rounds' yourself from the state forests or 60€ / m3 cut into 1m lengths and split.

Going ...

Going ....


The new chimney

The old shingles came off, we uprated the rafters and re-covered for clay tiles. The house was built in two phases - the first c.1650 - 1700 and the second c.1750-1800 and the roof main structure is a mix of timbers from both periods, mostly high-grown Larch as dense as modern Oak (note for climatologists; timber from the 'little ice age' was much slower growing and dense and outlasts quick growing timber from the current warm period. When we start the next ice age in earnest, there will be a shortage of timber in US, Canada and Europe ...)

Tile battens here are 40mm x 50mm and I got a laugh when I told the tilers that in the UK ours are 19mm x 38mm. But then our roofs don't have to take 2m of snow. The Spenglerers who do the gutters also fully clad the chimneys - mine now need a layer of insulation on top so the external flue stays warm in severe cold.  The little steel triangles sticking up are to hold the snow blanket in place to thaw and are rather cutely called schneenasen or snow-noses. 

The barn is a 3-decker and the top floor was used to store hay cut from the meadows - which are as steep as they look. I'll be buggered if I am scything 2 acres by hand (Soay sheep are the answer - thanks for that suggestion; there are small herds in Germany) so I've been hard put to think of a use for it; a local chum suggested a small-bore rifle range as you can get 20m from the far end into the hillside. I remember banging-off ping pong balls at 15m at our school range with a rimfire .22 so the idea is attractive. 

Rafters are fully boarded, sheeted, counter-battens run vertically and then finally the H/D battens
A roof fit for an Alpine winter - and a new .22 rifle range?

Not a trick shot - note trees are vertical. Walking on the meadows is an art I am rapidly learning

This weekend I'm demolishing the little houses in the old roof. And trying not to drop very substantial 10" x 5" timbers studded with nails onto myself. Ground and first floor ceilings are stone vaults built from the local Dolomit - which looks to be the same hard-as-buggery Permian-Magnesian limestone I once quarried in South Yorkshire for roadstone. It takes diamond bits and lots of patience. 

My thermal store has also arrived from the UK; solar thermal panels from Poland, new roof windows from Slovenia and plumbing kit from the local OBI complete the cosmopolitan flavour. The barn-found door stop is a muzzle brake and a small section of gun barrel; I was never a gunner but it's 50mm across the lands and about 54mm across the grooves so possible from some sort of Anti Tank weapon.  

My new fave toy is the mini-dumper, which will quite happily carry over 300kg up the steep cart-track to the middle floor of the barn. Believe me, when you get to 57, you really don't want to do a 6m climb with 40kg a time in a wheelbarrow. 

One roof-house almost gone, just the big timbers to lose

And another to demolish. New chimney to right, plus purlin offcut; purlins here are glulam 8" x 8" and rafters 4" x 9"

My new fave toy in the middle barn 
New thermal store and muzzle brake doorstop

Have a great weekend all and remember we have the moral high ground; Brexit will be an act of courage from a valorous and defiant nation, and the Remainian cause based on fear and lies will not withstand.  

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Simon Jenkins: Why Brexit economic forecasts are specious

I have a good deal of time for the IFS and yes, I know how much EU funding they get. I'm not accusing them of corrupt practice or of distorting evidence. The fact is, one can find economic evidence that supports just about whatever hypothesis one can dream of. Sun-spots and the price of oranges? Done. Tie-width and hysteresis-driven efficiencies in the financial markets? Done. All IFS have done is take the Remainian assumptions from loads of other studies and apply them to a hypothetical scenario that probably only considers about 4% of the correlative factors it should do. Still, don't take my word for it - Simon Jenkins has it nailed in the Standard.
The Treasury has, for the duration of the referendum campaign, switched from being a respected economic institution to being a lobbyist for Project Fear. Its notorious apocalypse algorithm looked like a schoolboy spoof, with its subscripts and squiggles “proving” Brexit would cost every household £4,300. (Didn’t the Treasury once prove that EU regulation cost households virtually the same?) 

The Treasury thesis appears to be that the shock of Brexit would make Londoners poorer, interest rates higher and deter immigrants and rich foreigners from buying or renting houses in the capital. Prices would therefore fall. That is certainly plausible. Whether this would be a “shock” scenario for most Londoners is surely moot.

We are now entering a world in which economists simply seek predictions to support prejudices. The Treasury assumes that Brexit would lead to a fall in the pound. But surely that would make houses cheaper for foreigners to buy and push at least some prices back up? Why does Osborne not warn of a Brexit “soaring house price shock”?
In particular, he dismisses Osborne's claim that London house prices would fall by 20%
These imponderables are clearly too great for any sensible person — but not apparently today’s highly politicised Treasury. The wisest remark perhaps comes from Johnny Morris of the estate agent Countrywide, who says simply: “Brexit would be an unprecedented turn of events, with a wide range of possible outcomes.” That is economist-speak for “no one has a clue”. 
So, everyone from blokes in the saloon bar to social commentators have worked out that these economic forecasts are Drek. Let's admit we simply don't know what Brexit would bring - but we can cope with it. In any case, the argument for Brexit is not economic but moral; it is cowardly, unpatriotic and immoral to allow British sovereignty to be stolen by a cohort of profoundly anti-democratic and unelected EU officials. This is about Freedom, not geld.

We should have hanged Hirohito in 1945

We should have hanged Hirohito in 1945, and shedloads more Jap war criminals, too, and strung-up the Shinto priests who brainwashed the Japanese people. The cold war, of course, got in the way of justice, and we let Japan off when they promised to cut-down on bayoneting babies and hosting head-chopping competitions using Chinese prisoners. The Chinese have never forgotten the atrocities, the appalling cruelties, the inhuman violence and the mindless primitive savagery of the barbarian native Japs and neither should we - I recommend both the BBC series 'Horror in the East' parts of which are available on YouTube,and the book of the same name.

You won't know anything about the Rape of Nanking if you're Japanese. The Japs have heavily censored both school textbooks and official histories to whitewash their war-guilt. To those of us in Europe used to not only memorials to the victims of Nazism around us but to an active and vigorous educational programme to ensure such things cannot re-occur such official cover-ups are shameful and dangerous. Japan's weasel-worded non-apologies could have been written by Elton John's libel lawyers. 

And now as that mendacious fool Cameron leaves for Japan for his last G7 meeting before having to quit UK politics in failure and disgrace, Jap PM and Shinto-addict Shinzo Abe wants to drag the UK into the Jap war-crime whitewash by bringing G7 leaders along to a nationalistic Shinto war-shrine. Cameron of course is simply too ignorant of history to realise the significance. His advisers are not. And if I see the dough-faced moron grinning inanely on TV reports at the shrine, I think I will vomit.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Does Cameron take Euro-expats for fools?

The latest output from the Lie Factory is a stark warning that residence and property rights of UK nationals in Europe may be at risk. Does he take us for fools?

For a start, there are many, many more EU nationals resident in the UK than UK nationals resident in the EU. Like the million Poles whose boost to their own nation's GDP is substantial. Does Cameron really imagine that the Home Office will be telling all the Polish Sklep owners, the French IT businesses in London, the German and Italian caterers and restaurateurs that they must sell up and go? Even Cameron isn't that mad.

The principle that applies, and that will apply in the event of Brexit, is that those already established will retain whatever rights they have at the time of divorce, and that legal changes will only apply to future residents. 

Sorry, Dave, you're a nasty lying little spiv with no future and a shit political reputation. You will go down along with Gordon Brown as one of the UK's least effectual PMs. Now piss-off and get out of my road - I'm voting Leave, and so I'm sure will many expats who can see you for the lying hound you are. 

Monday, 23 May 2016

A month is a long time in politics

On 25th April, after the first round of the Austrian presidential election, I wrote;
I think the second round next month may be less dramatic, and the entire non-right wing vote will unite behind the green candidate, Van der Bellen, to give Austria a new President - a largely symbolic figurehead here where most power is devolved to the Chancellor and Länder.
I thought at the time it would pan out at 45% Hofer - 55% Van der Bellen - and would never have imagined that Hofer was within a hair's breadth of the Presidency. And the Chancellor to whom much power is devolved was then Werner Faymann, who, I wrote, had just scored a 72% approval rating for closing the Balkans migrant route. 

Well, even though I got Van der Bellen right, I didn't foresee Faymann's surprise resignation after the first round. His about-turn on migrants was too little, too late. A big tree felled. Just goes to show that a month is a long time in politics - and there's everything still to play for in the Euro referendum. 

And Hofer has everything to be cheerful about. The Austrian presidency shares many of the characteristics of the American vice-presidency in terms of its value vis-a-vis a pitcher of warm spit. The real prizes are the likely seats in the Federal parliament and the Länder governments to come - and my chum who sits as an MP for a Viennese constituency for the OeVP is actually safer than most of his colleagues. 

And still the BBC knows crap-all. I see their website has just compared Hofer's FPOe to Hungary's skinhead Jobbik party - when in fact the FPOe are a little to the left of Victor Orban's governing Fidesz. Maybe they should send a journalist to Europe to find out what's going on.  

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Why Cameron can lie so blatantly

The lies are coming thick and fast from the Number 10 / Whitehall Lie Factory - and becoming more and more outrageous. The Remainian campaign is descending to something beyond parody - no lie is too absurd, too incredible or too risible for Team Cameron to use. 

And the reason why is simple. If the Remainians win, no one will ever prove they were lying or not; they're throwing everything into winning, blind to the reality that if they lose, and none of the lies are proved true, they will have destroyed not only their own political careers but what ever residual consideration remains for political probity in the UK. In other words, they see no political future for themselves at all if out of the EU.

And that should sear itself into the minds of the electors; Team Cameron is only playing for its own selfish benefit, not for Britain's future.