Thursday, 10 October 2013

Back to the barns!

Or would not tents be
the cheaper alternative?

Daily Mail: The Grand Designs house for first time buyers:
How you can get on the property ladder with a £41,000
three bedroom home

I know, Mr Neo and Mrs Lib are governing us. Clever is he who rips off his counterpart the best while best is calculated in buckets of Sterling, bags of Euro or piles of Greenbacks in our days and counterparts are regularly called customers, clients, often idiots and stupid.

I respect Kevin McCloud; he, his Grand Design programme has become a brand name, is the one who is trying to demonstrate that there are many different ways to build your home and dwell in a spectacular one-off or an ambitious dream home.

It is he who shows the nation that there is this opportunity of a self-build market against all the construction industry’s hard trial to channel the majority of all house buyers towards its shelves; readily available new builds, built while cutting all possible corners to reinforce margins, often part of soon-to-look-like-slums sleeping estates, where estate is too grand a word; one or two metre distance between the houses, bedroom three, four and possibly five being wardrobe-sized, the two designs, three colours, four shapes and five layouts so similar that I would need to raise a bespoke flag to find the one my family lived in cooped up in between cheapest wooden fences.

The industry claims UK house buyers would not want anything else but what it makes available; I doubt that.

But I also doubt that Kevin McCloud should use his name and brand for the described farmyard type barns; those poor and pity constructions are definitely not what we should aim for:

'We set ourselves the challenge of getting under the magic £50,000 and making sure that what came out the other side would be something we'd really want to live in, be really beautiful and not just more shoe boxes.'

The Barnhaus steel frame is lined internally with lots of insulation - straw bales being most cost effective - and doors and windows are added at either end.

Beautiful? ... not a shoebox? Give me a break!

Straw bales being most cost effective ... compared to what? To avoiding any need for any insulation or to living in a cave? Of all materials straw is probably one of the most complicated to deal with in reference to λ- and U-values, durability, fire resistance, etc. pp. Cost effective bales?! Another break, please.

I would have thought we finally have arrived at a point where designing, constructing and delivering any home would at least touch the subject of energy efficiency, durability, comfort and health? The article takes long and rather funny detours to avoid such basics:

Architect Ed Green came up with the award-winning design which gives buyers the 'skeleton' of a house, and allows them to adapt the original framework to their taste
The home, which is bigger than many modern new-build houses, will give first-time buyers the chance to build their own 'Grand Designs' home at a fraction of the cost.

Typically first homes under £90,000 will get a much smaller space to a 'substandard design', the winning architect claimed.

Is this some kind of April fools' joke? A substandard design replaced with a farmyard barn box? But it gets even better:

Pretty much the whole house could be built by a relatively unskilled person - except for the electrics.

Well, there is the real difference to the normal construction industry's approach; while it also uses relatively unskilled persons but charges an arm and a leg the self-barn-builder can build and finish his barn without going into any great detail, not to mention know-how, as to plumbing, heating, ventilation, tiling, windows, roof and foundation, thermal bridging, U-values, air changes and what not! Progress! Superb? The remains of British construction industry should turn pale.

Would climbing the property ladder starting from a substandard designed and built farmyard barn really work?

'And you can go on eBay and buy a steel barn frame the size of a family home for around £2,500.

Good luck, this is the next best solution to living in a tent; but then may be living in a cave would make more sense! It would definitely be more cost effective.

Carpe diem!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Topping out! Dundee!

The nicest tree we had so far for a topping out
in Scotland thanks to Total Build Team Ltd.!


Translated from an ancient German topping out saying;
may be dated, but then not outdated:

If this house will stand and stay
until all the envy and hatred passes,
then – indeed – it will remain
until the world has fallen to ashes!

Malice, enemies, grief and sorrow
shall evade your door!
Joy, happiness, bliss and glee
shall find the same and ever more!

This house shall grant
refuge and home
in glory and honor
to those, who dreamt it true!
Their verdict shall be:
"Lord, protect our home
 and give us your blessing, too! "

this house from danger at all times,
charm and shield his master's family,
may it stand safe and sound, year by year
and keep all worries out, thankfully.

This green tree shall be symbol
for our client's felicity
which shall dwell in this house
from now on to eternity.

hold onto
this house,
until a snail walked off its knees,
until an ant starved long and hard
for it to empty all the seas.
This drink to this house I dedicate
for it to stand and celebrate!

The snail is now on its way, the seas are rather rising and the HANSE HAUS house in Dundee will be finished by Christmas!

Thank you all visitors, friends, neighbours, maybe and hope-to-be customers and all helpers for making it a memorable day.

Carpe diem!

Thursday, 29 August 2013


"What's the crack?" In Dundee...!


Chill out! Now? Yes! Another foundation in for another HANSE HAUS, this time in Dundee.

That slab was done very well and in time under what was severe time pressure and lots of site restrictions thanks to the company Total Build Team Ltd., Peter Carnegie "and friends": Well done! Thank you for the hard, precise and neat, noiseless and reliable work to all involved in that enterprise; this was your second slab for a HANSE HAUS and when I say we are looking forward to be working on further projects all over Scotland it says it all, doesn't it?

It seems to me pride is returning into Scottish craftsmanship!

Thank you!


Yes: next stop next week: wind and water tight!

Carpe diem!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013



Day to day events and the jobs' pressures, mainstream's constant bread and games irrigation, floods of hard to differentiate pseudo-news mixed with unbelievable acts under UK's terrorist laws easily help (us) to forget and avoid the real problems. One being Fukushima!

- The racks inside the pool that contain this fuel were damaged by the explosion in the early days of the accident. 
- Zirconium cladding which encased the rods burned when water levels dropped, but to what extent the rods have been damaged is not known, and probably won't be until removal is attempted. 
- Saltwater cooling has caused corrosion of the pool walls, and probably the fuel rods and racks. 
- The building is sinking. 
- The cranes that normally lift the fuel were destroyed. 
- Computer-guided removal will not be possible; everything will have to be done manually. 
- TEPCO cannot attempt this process without humans, which will manage this enormous task while being bombarded with radiation during the extraction and casking. 
- The process of removing each rod will have to be repeated over 1,300 times without incident. 
- Moving damaged nuclear fuel under such complex conditions could result in a criticality if the rods come into close proximity to one another, which would then set off a chain reaction that cannot be stopped.

At Fukushima, they are dealing with massive amounts of groundwater that flow through the property, and the endless pouring that must be kept up 24/7/365 to keep things from getting worse. Recently there appears to be subsidence issues and liquefaction under the plant.

Liquefaction is explained here; just the same like pouring water into a sand-box when we were children. Only, in this case this is lots of water, contaminated, into grounds known to shake constantly and there are swimming pools full of nuclear fuel rods waiting to take a dip and melt back to where they came from... if not that one earthquake strikes first.

It would be interesting to hear and read from alternative sources about the situation in Fukushima. Fukushima Diary is one: a desperate voice.

Any more?

Carpe diem!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

An die Nachgeborenen...

Berthold Brecht, 1953
reading by the author

Der Text:
Wirklich, ich lebe in finsteren Zeiten!
Das arglose Wort ist töricht. Eine glatte Stirn
Deutet auf Unempfindlichkeit hin. Der Lachende
Hat die furchtbare Nachricht
Nur noch nicht empfangen.
Was sind das für Zeiten, wo
Ein Gespräch über Bäume fast ein Verbrechen ist.
Weil es ein Schweigen über so viele Untaten einschließt!
Der dort ruhig über die Straße geht
Ist wohl nicht mehr erreichbar für seine Freunde
Die in Not sind?
Es ist wahr: ich verdiene noch meinen Unterhalt
Aber glaubt mir: das ist nur ein Zufall. Nichts
Von dem, was ich tue, berechtigt mich dazu, mich sattzuessen.
Zufällig bin ich verschont. (Wenn mein Glück aussetzt, bin ich verloren.)
Man sagt mir: iß und trink du! Sei froh, daß du hast!
Aber wie kann ich essen und trinken, wenn
Ich dem Hungernden entreiße, was ich esse, und
Mein Glas Wasser einem Verdurstenden fehlt?
Und doch esse und trinke ich.
Ich wäre gerne auch weise.
In den alten Büchern steht, was weise ist:
Sich aus dem Streit der Welt halten und die kurze Zeit
Ohne Furcht verbringen
Auch ohne Gewalt auskommen
Böses mit Gutem vergelten
Seine Wünsche nicht erfüllen, sondern vergessen
Gilt für weise.
Alles das kann ich nicht:
Wirklich, ich lebe in finsteren Zeiten!
In die Städte kam ich zur Zeit der Unordnung
Als da Hunger herrschte.
Unter die Menschen kam ich zu der Zeit des Aufruhrs
Und ich empörte mich mit ihnen.
So verging meine Zeit
Die auf Erden mir gegeben war.
Mein Essen aß ich zwischen den Schlachten
Schlafen legte ich mich unter die Mörder
Der Liebe pflegte ich achtlos
Und die Natur sah ich ohne Geduld.
So verging meine Zeit
Die auf Erden mir gegeben war.
Die Straßen führten in den Sumpf zu meiner Zeit.
Die Sprache verriet mich dem Schlächter.
Ich vermochte nur wenig. Aber die Herrschenden
Saßen ohne mich sicherer, das hoffte ich.
So verging meine Zeit
Die auf Erden mir gegeben war.
Die Kräfte waren gering. Das Ziel
Lag in großer Ferne
Es war deutlich sichtbar, wenn auch für mich
Kaum zu erreichen.
So verging meine Zeit
Die auf Erden mir gegeben war.
Ihr, die ihr auftauchen werdet aus der Flut
In der wir untergegangen sind
Wenn ihr von unseren Schwächen sprecht
Auch der finsteren Zeit
Der ihr entronnen seid.
Gingen wir doch, öfter als die Schuhe die Länder wechselnd
Durch die Kriege der Klassen, verzweifelt
Wenn da nur Unrecht war und keine Empörung.
Dabei wissen wir doch:
Auch der Haß gegen die Niedrigkeit
verzerrt die Züge.
Auch der Zorn über das Unrecht
Macht die Stimme heiser. Ach, wir
Die wir den Boden bereiten wollten für Freundlichkeit
Konnten selber nicht freundlich sein.
Ihr aber, wenn es so weit sein wird
Daß der Mensch dem Menschen ein Helfer ist
Gedenkt unserer
Mit Nachsicht.

Carpe diem!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Let's go back to Jackson

Nancy and Lee

Carpe diem!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Fiddling a Warming Tune

... sending shivers down your spine!

Five hundred years sound okay, but then...

Carpe diem!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Industrial Warmth

2001 to 2011
hottest decade

The report, The Global Climate 2001-2010, A Decade of Climate Extremes, analysed global and regional temperatures and precipitation, as well as extreme events such as the heat waves in Europe and Russia, Hurricane Katrina in the United States of America, Tropical Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, droughts in the Amazon Basin, Australia and East Africa and floods in Pakistan.

There must have been some decades hotter than that, don't you think so? But then, may be that was before mankind? About three thousand generations of home sapiens ago? Fact is the above has happened in parallel to what is called the industrial revolution, its derivatives and septupling ourselves from 1bn to more than 7bn (if not more) today; now the questions are, what is the time delay between cause and consequence and what kind of point(s) of no return have we crossed already that could cause sudden death(s)?

Carpe diem!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Faster Construction

of a HANSE HAUS house
going up in Crieff, Perthshire...

[be patient while the pictures are loading]

day four: Friday evening

day one: Tuesday 0600, before the storm

 0630, let's move

slab preparations

crane positioned


first wall down

a wall full of holes...which one is that?

 a wall painted? why?

slide it in!

a tight site!

 day two

 day three

 day four: closing the roof

It is not Coco's masterpiece (Meister-Stück), alone,
but it needs dedicated teams of architects, engineers, manu-facturers
in the offices, the factory and on site plus thorough, accurate preparations.
 day four, Friday evening: a tidy construction site.

Carpe diem!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Snowden: the HK interview

PRISM ... Whistleblower...

From Wikipedia

A whistleblower (whistle-blower or whistle blower)[1] is a person who exposes misconduct, alleged dishonest or illegal activity occurring in an organization. The alleged misconduct may be classified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health and safety violations, and corruption. Whistleblowers may make their allegations internally (for example, to other people within the accused organization) or externally (to regulators, law enforcement agencies, to the media or to groups concerned with the issues).
One of the first laws that protected whistleblowers was the 1863 United States False Claims Act (revised in 1986), which tried to combat fraud by suppliers of the United States government during the Civil War. The act encourages whistleblowers by promising them a percentage of the money recovered or damages won by the government and protects them from wrongful dismissal.[2]
Whistleblowers frequently face reprisal, sometimes at the hands of the organisation or group which they have accused, sometimes from related organisations, and sometimes under law.
Questions about the legitimacy of whistle blowing, the moral responsibility of whistle blowing, and the appraisal of the institutions of whistle blowing are part of the field of political ethics.

For me there is way too much discussion about the moral aspects of the blower and his actions while the misconduct of the so-called intelligence services obviously of all coloeurs seems to be taken as an unavoidable or like something without alternative. Even if there was no alternative why are we never told the truth and why would what Snowden did then be illegal?

Carpe diem and thank you: Edward!

p.s.: Reader: I hope you are aware that those so-called services, Prism, Tempora, Echelon, etc. pp now monitored you reading the above, watching the video... and should you not have left this site after reading the headline for less than 6.54 seconds you are now followed day and night, whatever you google, you read, write, copy or delete, for at least an unknown time period - only, to store the evidence found in case they come across you or your clan again... and they will:

Welcome to the Club!

Monday, 24 June 2013

ASM - Syndrome

The AssangeSnowdenManning Syndrome

Funny? It is really not funny!

Carpe diem!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

That's Service for You!

Useless, hopeless: rip-off: as usual!

Yes, it is raining in Scotland...
We have a new car! Well, it is 24 years old; 22,000 miles on the clock! Almost untouched, a collector’s item, a top of the (old) line 300E 4-matic, a mind-boggling £35k in 1989!

4-matic was Mercedes’ even more sophisticated but then more complicated answer on the Audi Quattro technology. It is obviously a human misconception that we all need to re-invent wheel after wheel after wheel, but then…

Picking it up and taking it home - the first 800km trip for the car in 10 or 12 years, it did very well except for a somewhat retarded automatic gear changing when arriving at home - was a good idea.

Then,  I made an expensive mistake: I thought it sensible to have the gearbox checked at the local super specialist, the one and only MB dealership in a 200km circle. Booked it in for 0800 on a Friday morning and agreed to have it hooked up to the service system, read out any messages with a special eye on the 4-matic system, change the transmission oil and filter – just that, no more, no less! While on the phone we agreed I would arrive at 0800, sharp, wait for the works to be done; as usual i-pad and i-phone plus endless mails and a coffee or two would give me some “office-time” in a corner seat.

While the registration had already given her, a thoroughly telephone-marketing-trained question-and-answer-machine-lady, all relevant details, plus postal code, name and even date of birth (mine) she went through all the data at least three times; in times of Tempora and Prism, the hunt for Mister Snowden from HongKong to Moscow and the brewing 52 years in prison for a Mister Manning you would have thought that with the postal code alone they would be able to read your mind forward and backwards, but … unexpectedly my experience with the same workshop, different people and different ownership about nine years earlier when they were not able to find an electronic mistake on an almost brand-new G400 and our more or less constant spare-part orders (we dare owning other exotic Mercedeses…), obviously was not part of their data-collection-bonanza. Ten minutes into that repeating process of personal data …

… I should have noticed that I was on an entirely wrong trip! Her answer on my polite request to watch the computerised test and check, more specifically to see that readout with the car hooked up to the DTC, the data link connector, was: “No way!” Health and Safety would not allow any third party in the workshop, too dangerous, one could be hurt 2… 3… 4… finally: “…but we can print out the read-out data and discuss it with you in the office”. And "Yes, our staff knows those cars, very good really, has worked many times on same...".

This time that H&S crap should have – finally - rung all bells, after all I am in construction (!!); and I should have thought about that “… could be hurt…” line much more seriously!                    

07:56, I arrived in front of the same lady’s desk – us old (!) German borns are terrible when it comes to punctuality. Repeating all data two and three times and then asking what was wrong as if I had not given all details before, ended with the sentence “Okay, the car will be ready by five o’clock… do you need a lift?” Well! ”No!
I was lifted stante pede! Lifted into that orbit of bad memories and that ugly experience with the same shop, different actors, nine years ago; that same arrogance of altering anything their way and of how best to rip one off. “No! I will stay, it is a defined job and was booked to start at 0800 with me waiting.” “Basta!”. “But checking the old car thoroughly will take some time… we do not know the outcome, yet, it might take some...!”.

Well, I stayed …

less than 1% of all W124 built came as 4-matic

09:45, eight or ten e-mails later found the car just “lifted” with the transmission oil making a mess instead of running into a collection tray; all eyes on the workshop intruder walking right into the workshop did not stop the intruder taking a good look at the underside of his 24 year old new car. Except for the oil all over the place... looking very good, the car! The workshop? Discussable!

10:30, I had long returned to the same chair to do some more e-mailing, the technician came in to tell me that a test drive had revealed the same odd behaviour of the car; he would have to check the pneumatic and hydraulic pressures in the gear and transfer box and no, the car would definitely not have any diagnosis connection to read out any mistakes… Oh (!?); so (?!)  … back to waiting.

11:40 the same technician explained that he had not been able to check those pressures, confirmed again that there would be no diagnosis option for that kind of old car, that I would have to book it in again as he would have no more time…

12:10 the car was parked in front of the show-room.

12:35 I was presented with the invoice; the fault had not been found, a bulb had been changed and two different but unknown quantities of oil of unknown quality had been changed costing £67.50 plus one filter; the morning was summed up with the detailed report-line: “REQ OIL CHANGE AND CHECK AGAIN”.

Brilliant; LAB cost was discounted 40% at £225.72, obviously from 376.20, which, generously calculated, from 9:30 to 12:10 computes to an hourly rate of £141.08. Okay - discounted to so much more favourable £84.65.

Completely frustrated I left this centre of excellence trying to add up this £1,700+ bill from nine years ago and the above £385.99; that old invoice had said “Fault not found” after the car had been parked three days in the same workshop with 17 hours invoiced. Once home I "googled" that diagnostic capacity of the W124 series... and guess what...!!? Correct: the workshop lacks the equipment or the capacity to use it; definitely the car does not!

You might ask why I did it again? Well, meanwhile the ownership had changed, there could have been room for improvement and getting a lot better; I tend to trust people, naively, d'accord - but then it got much worse: at least last time I did not inherit a dent:

Thank you,  ...!*#*'!

I wanted to return immediately to make a real fuss... and made my way, but then...?

And why do I like those old cars? It is more that I dislike today's electronic plastic bombers Mercedes-Benz (and others) build for us, their customers; they just too obvious are made to boost shareholders’ value by promising the blue from the sky look wise and also performance wise but only until guarantee and warranty are done with. It needs electronics and software service and updates to help those wanna-be classics to become real vintage cars – but that is not driving new business so our throw-away-society shan’t leave room for anything sustainable. As BMW has admitted they build cars to last a life time - and that life-time is defined by BMW to be six years; thereafter it is time for the customer-idiot to invest into a new model and re-start depreciation from five or even six digit purchase prices to neglectable chump change five or seven years down the line.

Yes, and some days sheit happens! Lots of! I would not recommend that workshop unless you want to stick with one of those plastics until guarantee lapses...

Carpe diem!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

fly tipper watch your fly!

Need any more help?

Hey, tipper! We will love to help you cleaning out that old shed of yours! Or is it that this past due old man finally died; and you now need to pimp hat dirty old cottage fast, cheap and furious; just to get it on the market and cash in on your inheritance? Easy money, isn’t it?

Anyway, maybe we are wrong and you just failed to see the consequences. However, we do not need your old rubbish on our land; we do not want it! And I indeed long for telling you that personally!

Abriachan: Tuesday: May 28th 2013, evening, between 18:00 and 21:00: did anybody come across a pickup or a car pulling an open trailer driving through Abriachan in a rather obvious search for his private landfill site? The load looks very recognisable!

Meanwhile we will take that heap apart and should we find anything…

Carpe diem!