Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday Sermon: It is what you do from now

It is what you do from now

I hope that you can play this 40 second extract of the UK Television series Derek.

For a long time I had dismissed the accomplishments of the comedian Ricky Gervais  based on what I had once regarded as his obnoxious television series   The Office

But over time I have had an epiphany

I think the turning point was the discovery of his film  (actor and director)  The invention of Lying

But the purpose of today's sermon is simply to ask you to view the television series Derek  where Ricky plays a 50 year old care worker in an old people's home.

The series includes

A lot of vulgarity

A lot of profanity
Characters who are mentally not well adjusted

An introduction to Derek

However the actions of Derek are somewhat transcendent and through his simple actions and behaviour you can learn a lot about your own and other peoples humanity.

Series 1  broadcast in 2013 is available now on Amazon

Series 2 has it's last episode on Monday December 22, 22.00 UK time.    And then it too is available from Amazon

Derek; The final chapter
In the run up to Christmas I think that a dose of Derek, preferably the finale, or the entire Series 2, or both Series 1 and 2 if you are a newbie; would set you up for a more caring, forgiving and meaningful Christmas.  And hopefully the effect will extend into 2015 and beyond.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Hinge

You might presume that it is difficult to philosophise about a hinge, but Marcus will certainly try

About 2 weeks ago without warning our Bauknecht (aka Whirlpool) fridge door refused to close.  We pinned the problem down to the top hinge.  After some poking around with tweezers a white plastic component fell out in bits.   Something was definitely wrong.

Even a Hinge is complicated

The Hinge design looks bizarrely complicated so we studied it and then consulted Uncle Google as to why ....

200K+ cycles

It has to be Engineered for a large number of Open/ Close cycles

Door Sag

Must not drop over time otherwise the door and cabinet face will become unaligned with other cabinetry in the kitchen.

Low Profile

The Hinge folds in on itself to save space

Click Shut and Hold

Once closed there can be a locking mechanism to keep it shut

Opening past 90 degrees

People expect a wide opening angle

Support a weight over 50Kg

The design has to be robust and support a huge weight that may be on the outer edge of the door (away from the hinge).

Until today, Marcus's favourite more Engineered than you might think lecture used to quote Fire Door design.  But I think Fridge Hinges are now also candidate, now I know more about them!

Human Error

We thought we could replace the hinge ourselves and so we found the manufacturer Service Centre and ordered the hinges.  They only ship in pairs (bottom and top).   It was 110 CHF  (113 USD).  [Welcome to Switzerland].

Imagine our surprise when we were supplied two identical hinges  (on the left in the diagram) but the hinge that had failed was a mirror image  (shown on the right).

Yes, they had sent us two bottom hinges, but explaining that, despite several diagrams and emails was not easy.   The initial replies were "you are definitely wrong, we sent you the correct parts".

Some while later ... they sent us new hinges but also insisted that we had to send the 2 wrong hinges back.

Following the Procedure

We figured out that in order to remove minimal screws we had to remove the outer cabinet door from the fridge. 

But even that mounting has a bizarrely large set of screws.

Eventually as you can see we replaced the hinge and fiddled around with the numerous adjusting screws so that the outer cabinet door is exactly aligned with the other cabinets.

So what did we learn today?

  • That to err is human and quite annoying.
  • That once again Marcus and Agata acting as an effective team got the job done.
  • Costs in Switzerland are just astronomic.  Not a learning point, but more of a confirmation.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Chargeable Internet moves to the Skies

Today was a Good [Internet] Day

I was interested to read today about the cost of a Wi-Fi connection on some American domestic flights shown here in this Maphappy article

Agata continues to remind me that my prediction about personal unlimited Internet at home, and in fact throughout Switzerland is now a reality in 2014.   And my second dream, that of widely available and free Internet outside the home is slowly becoming a reality

Unmetered Home and Phone Based Internet

In December 2014  I wrote this  and essentially Marcus now enjoys totally unlimited Internet anywhere in Switzerland.

It's radically changed my connected lifestyle. Example:

I take the metro home most days and via my Android smartphone, and at its full HD 1920x1080 pixel display resolution; work my way thru my new daily YouTube videos based on my subscriptions. 

Swiss Free Internet

Our home town of Lausanne now has citywide free Internet, although the number of actual access points is still rather limited

Geneva Airport has free wi-fi, well for an hour or two, after signup

Most coffee shops  (Starbucks) or Fastfood (McDonalds) offer free wi-fi

Many hotels provide free wi-fi

Some restaurants  (but not enough) provide free wi-fi

Free / Unmetered Internet in Europe

Marcus and Agata can speak from experience from our home countries of England and Poland.

In both countries 4G phone internet connections are widespread offering (say) 40Mb/sec download speeds and large or unlimited data plans at sensible prices:

 UK: 15GBP Data Only Plan.  1 month.

UK: 15GBP.  Unlimited Data. 4G.  1month

On a point of principle we insist on free Hotel wi-fi.  If it's not free then you can forget about us booking with you!

And so the chargeable Internet moves to the Air

Well, within Europe I have yet to find any Internet possibilities on any plane journey!   But after Google searching it appears that US airlines have it, and it is without exception chargeable.

So the move to the guaranteed chargeable Internet has moved from the ground into the Air!

I do look forward to the day when a basic level of Internet is free to use at all points of the Developed world on land, and sea, and in the air.

And now ... Back to Ice Cube

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Bicycles

Now that my road bicycle rebuild is halted waiting on a missing part from my Dura Ace 9000 Chainset Marcus has consoled himself by looking  at the advertising emails sent from the defacto 3 mail order English Cycle distributors that supply the UK and Europe.   (Note that Wiggle also ships internationally including the USA and Australia)

Chain Reaction

Best of 2014

Clearance road bicycles

To me of the big three listed here, Chain Reaction is still the most Cycle focused supplier.  (For Swiss deliveries choose courier not post unless you like waiting ).


Ribble prices are always bonkersly low and I 100% recommend their bike builder to provide you a custom build next road bicycle.   Besides that they have a special Christmas XMAS12 coupon as shown above.

Ribble Bikebuilder

Ribble HF83 custom build


Wiggle still garnishes the highest regard in our household and we regard them as the behemoth of the Sports world globally.  We find their orders can arrive in as little as 3 days from ordering all the way from Portsmouth England to Lausanne Switzerland, passing through customs  (large DHL bill comes later) like a hot knife thru butter.

- Large discounts on all fully assembled bicycles for Christmas.       I checked ...

Wiggle Carbon road bicycles, sorted by those on sale percentage

Thinking Back
I thought about the Wiggle built bicycle deals and how I would have reacted as a kid if my parents had instead told me:

- Good news son, a new Bicycle for Christmas
- Just one small thing, we are not buying you a bicycle
- Just the frame and parts
- And you'll have to order and assemble them yourself
- And sort out any small compatibility issues
- You should probably have something working by February

I think as a kid I might have preferred a ready built bicycle [from Wiggle].  I think if I had left it to mum or dad, or the butler,  OCD perfection might indeed have resulted in a February availability.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Coffee choices for the discerning

The topic of conversation for today is the choice between Ground Coffee or Nespresso.

The Cafetiere Method

You either buy roasted beans and grind them yourself or buy the pre ground powder directly in the supermarket.

You place what seems like a large amount of this powder into a usually glass shaped vessel together with boiling water, stir a little and then a minute later press down with a plunger that pushes the grains to the bottom leaving filtered coffee on the top that you can drink.

+ Makes a lot of coffee
+ Waste is only the spent coffee grains
+ Relatively cheap (cf Nespresso)
+ Easy to clean in the Dishwasher
+ Access to a vast range of coffee beans from a multitude of manufacturers from the Supermarket store to the dedicated coffee boutique retailer
- Unable to switch coffees for different tastes in 1 cafetiere

The Nespresso Corner

+ Makes an individual coffee
+ Able to change coffee type per use
+++ Machine can dispense coffee in < 30 seconds (from cold!)
+ Modern machines are sold at a loss/ break even at about 100 GBP.  (The real expense and profit is in the capsules)

- Aluminium capsule should be recycled
- Aluminium capsule container is expensive to manufacture
- Machine needs maintenance every 3 months or so
- Capsule trays should be washed and cleaned frequently
-- Coffee capsules cost about 0.5 CHF each
-- Capsules available via mail order or by exception in a Nestle Boutique store  (we have many near us in Lausanne given that Nestle world headquarters is 20Km away!)

At the time of writing:  Agata who is an extremely busy person enjoys the convenience and variety of Nespresso.

Conversely, Marcus who has the time and appreciates economy votes for Cafetiere.


Some other considerations:

In Switzerland

We have never invested in our own Beans grinder because in Switzerland you do not have to.  

Supermarkets (as shown above) have an industrial machine in an open area for free communal use.  [NB: I suppose the convention is that it's for grinding beans you bought in that Supermarket, and not some you sort of brought from home, purchased elsewhere!]

The Motorhome angle!
We considered the practicality of Nespresso in a Motorhome environment since higher end Motorhomes have space for a Nespresso machine, sometimes on a motorised hidden platform!  Since Nespresso capsules can only be bought mail order  (Nespresso boutiques excluded) obtaining the capsules might be tricky and disposal also inconvenient.   Probably Cafetiere might overall be more practical. And when made in the morning, placed into a Thermos.

For the present, Marcus is out of the office working environment.  At home I have the time to make Cafetiere coffee which I feel is both cheaper and more environmentally friendly than Nespresso coffee.

Nespresso coffee is both a treat and a palava.   The treat is being able to have the coffee of your choice in less than 30 seconds.  The palava is the capsule disposal and the knowledge that this entire cycle is expensive and wasteful.

For the time being then; we are a two coffee system household.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Builders Progress

When you are hand crafting something to perfection one has to realise that it will rarely if ever just magically come together.

And so I must remember to sound happier about several more hours spent in our basement Cave in Lausanne as Marcus rebuilds his training bicycle for the 2015 season.

I might have sounded a little short with Agata but she reminded me:

You love it really!     And I am quite sure she is right.

The impetus to remove the older components from my current Dedacciai training bicycle was

  1. The Integrated Handlebar arrived from Taiwan about 4 weeks after I ordered it.
  2. Paul came to pick up my old Condor Bicycle frame (making some space in the Cave)
  3. He made me an offer which I accepted for the Campagnolo drivetrain which I had moved this May 2014 to the Dedacciai

How beautiful is all of that!

Initial Mounting

How is it going?
The progress report I gave to Agata was that the handlebars are now mounted but the cabling  (not shown) was a total nightmare.

Like in the old days  (and I mean back to my first Dura Ace in 1981) these handlebars have holes so that the cables may pass inside the handlebars.   But getting the buggers in there, cut to the right length was non trivial.   Full photo moan/ triumph will be reported when build is complete.

For now though, can you spot something important in the above photograph that is missing!   Yes the small plastic Crank Arm fixing bolt, Shimano part Y1KY08000 is not in the box.   I asked Chain Reaction to send me one please. With the Christmas post I'm sure it wont arrive until 2015.   And I cannot ride the bicycle without it. 


Overall Marcus is still [very] Happy in Lausanne

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday Sermon: Please don't let it be a Muslim

Chris Rock: Crazy

This is a short response to the ongoing Sydney Siege on December 15 2014

I do remember the days when Chris Rock, (the Black American Comedian and a personal hero of mine) used to do a routine on his stage show about being crazy. And, how interactions in the workplace were awkward if you shared the same Ethnic origin of the perpetrator.   

The above audio clip refers.

Today a similar dilemma faces people of Religious faith. In particular Muslims, since worldwide there continue to be many self celebrated acts of barbarism and brutality that are perpetrated by people claiming to represent the religion of Islam.

Tony Abbott: Very Disturbing   (original since taken down)

In this respect I feel that Australian Prime Minister; Tony Abbott was being deliberately misleading when he continually stressed the possible /political motivations/ of the attacker(s).
(original video has now been removed and above one changes emphasis and waters down political ... hmmm)

The facts of the ongoing siege are not public but indications would lead me to think that it is Religiously motivated. Please watch the Abbott video clip again and substitute the word Religiously for Politically.

And SO
My advice to thinking and peaceful Muslims would be in this form:

I used to live in a peaceful neighbourhood.

Over time my neighbourhood changed.  Violence became commonplace.

Insiders continued to made excuses that it was the fault of others outside of the neighbourhood.

I left the neighbourhood

BBC Sydney Siege Updates
Lindt Cafe Facebook

I can sleep anytime

Marcus would like to claim that he follows the Jack Reacher school of sleeping:

Sleep when you can, because you never know when you're going to sleep again.

In fact as the years pass by sleep is not so much a necessity more of a demanded or justified luxury.

In earlier times and befitting a career in the IT industry Marcus was proud to state that his nightly sleep quota would average out at about 5 hours.   I would famously say and still feel that if I goto sleep after 03.00 in the morning then I will certainly be grumpy to rise at 07.00, but 08.00 would be just fine.

But today I am reformed and would say that

  • Even if you can survive on a consistently shorter sleep cycle, you can also appreciate how delicious it is to sleep longer.
  • I'm now a personal advocate of 8 hours sleep per day, including an afternoon nap of about 1 hour
  • If you invite me over don't be offended if after chatting and getting very comfy I take a nap right then and there

So let's hear it for a lifestyle that includes a respectable amount of sleep per night leaving us fitter and more alive to face the challenges of the coming day.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lausanne Midnight Christmas Run 2014

We are delighted to report that Agata, Jenny and Marcus have just completed the Lausanne Christmas run 2014.

As Lausanne residents and runners we felt it was our duty to participate.

Construction of the Marquis started a few days ago, Marcus has been monitoring the progress as he usually smoozes past it on one of his daily runs.

Lausanne being a small-ish town we were not too surprised to have bumped into Jenny early one morning last week whilst out running.

We agreed that we would try to do the Christmas run and so we met late Saturday evening and then walked down the /mountain/ into town.

And then we bumped into Medalit!  Medalit was doing her usual volunteering work for the race, giving pre race advise and guidance to competitors.

The finish line and in the background is a  red Datasport Van stuffed full of timing electronics.

Before the race it was very very crowded!

And then we set off.  And then it felt really crowded.  After a few minutes it became clear that with all the traffic we might as well just cruise along and take it easy 

Still, we  all put in a good effort. Special mention to Jenny because she was running with her post race clothes in her rucksack as ballast.

The course is quite hilly but despite that we completed the 7.5Km distance in about 35 minutes.  Not bad for a post dinner race, late on a Saturday night.

Mind you it was freakishly warm (9 degrees) which was a help to us all

 After the finish ....

We headed to the Marquis.  It seemed like most of Lausanne was there!

Now we can walk back home and pat ourselves on the back knowing that we've done our local Christmas race duty for 2014.

Lausanne Christmas Run 2014