Monday, 30 November 2015


The task for November was to count my books.

I had only Yael's number to start with: more of less 400 books.
As suspected, she turned out to be more controlled than I am.

The total amount of books in my possession is:
Dictionaries and language books: 31
Books in the little apartment: 33
Fiction, including Peter Wimsey: 179
Non-fiction: 250

In total, all summarized I currently own 493 books.

I just realised, I forgot the shelf with cooking books (11), psychology and management (6 + 8),
survival, outdoors, hiking and nature books (19) and interior (including sewing, furniture, interior design, zen and feng shui) (9). So now I have to add another 53 books

In all, the final number, all summarized,
the fact of the matter is that
I currently own at least 546 books.

I make no promises for the future.


I count my money once a month. Occasionally I add up the major assets in between just to see how bad things are going - or good.

I have counted my assets semi-regularly since 2009. Now I always count my money the same way but I do change it every now and then. This makes it impossible to graph the assets over a long period of time. But at least I am able to compare one month to the next. 

I have no debt and have not had since 2010.

I only count assets that are mine. The man counts his own assets, and in his own way. There are a number of reasons for this, all private. We also have lived and earned and saved more years apart than we have been together. We are also fundamental individualists so counting assets as a family makes no sense for us. (He is doing very well though and this last year has been amazing for him financially.)

I also only count assets that are mine right now. I do not include state pensions, locked assets that are only to be available after certain years, and assets that are currently not in my control. I do not distrust the pension systems etc, but it is out of my control so I will just count them as blessings when I get them.

Right now I also only include assets that I do not live in. I do not include the value of my apartment.
Because I live in it. I need it. I can not get rid of it without buying something else. It is therefore not an asset. If you have your assets locked into a house, I do not know what you would do. I realised those assets a year ago, reached FI and started living within the budget that my assets allow me to keep for thirty years. But you must make your own decisions.

I also do not include the value of items I still own. I may one day sell them, but the value of them then is completely unknown so incalculable. I might say the same thing about stocks and shares, and it would be a fair and just statement, but I have chosen to invest my money that way and I will just have to accept that I do not make sense all the time. 

All my assets are counted (minus pension, minus property I live in, not including any unrealised value of items) and then divided with my annual budget.

My annual budget is higher than my annual spending, my annual costs. Why? Because I am not stupid. Budgeting as low as you can go will get you into trouble. You must include all what if's and just in case's that are reasonable for the coming year. Not budget a year on the stingiest non-spending you can make yourself endure. Budget a year where you pay all the occasional costs of dentist, optician, health care, some kind of travel, clothes, heating, food and insurances to a reasonable level. Then you LIVE WITHIN YOUR BUDGET.

Every month I count my money (my assets) and divide it with my annual budget. The number tells me how many years I can live on my assets, as long as the costs stay the same (which they do not) or the assets do not increase (which they hopefully do). Dividing the assets down to a monthly sum only makes sense if you live hand to mouth and never pay anything in advance.

There are thousands of budgeting tools out there, and I use none of them.
I make notes in a note book.

Sunday, 29 November 2015


I met a man at the bus stop the other night.
He was carrying a large unframed oil painting wrapped in clear plastic. I saw him already when we got off the train and then I saw him again at the same bus stop.
We chatted. He was what if he had been a woman in his age would have been called tipsy.
The paining was by Franscesca something-letti and he had won it in a raffle in his art club. The painting was very nice and I admired it greatly. I fought a coveting feeling.
He thought it reminded him of early works by Gerard Richter and I said I agreed even though I didn't. I thought to my self how far back do you have to go to make that look like Gerard Richter's work? I thought it reminded me of carpets I had seen made inspired by areal photos of Dutch flower fields.
It was a nice chat with a stranger about things I often think about bur rarely talk about with people, except the man lately.

Currently I own only one original piece of art. It is an oil painting I bought in a small antique-junk shop in 1998 for €2, if I remember correctly. I tracked down a son of the painter recently and saw more of the painter's work. The painter is accepted an in a small group respected but most certainly not famous. I still like my painting the best. It is painted in 1957 by Palma de Majorca in Spain, and it is clearly fauvist. It depicts a scorching hot day in a small village. A cart with a donkey. Blue mountains in the horizon. Siesta.
It is a very peaceful painting and I love it very much.
This is an item I will keep for a very long time still - but I do not need to keep it forever, and it could be a lovely present to somebody one day.
Not yet though.

Saturday, 28 November 2015


I read mostly non-fiction.
I also love books.
Consequently, I own a lot of books that is non-fiction.

In the great move of 2014, I got rid of 4/5 of all existing books and before that, in 2009 when the tenants took possession of the house, another half was sent off. Through my life, I always have had a long-term relationship with my books. (In feng shui terms they were in my relationship corner both literally and figuratively).

Currently (as it is a fluctuating number) I have the following amount of non-fiction books per shelf:
41 books on art and Scandinavian history.
33 books on poetry including a few volumes published by friends.
30 books on 16th century Scandinavian and western European history.
42 books by Arthur Quiller-Couch and on British poetry of the 18th and 19th century.
46 books on architecture, history of science, science and history.
33 books on Western European 16th century history, especially Alison Weir.
18 books of comics including Nemi, Arne Anka, Jan Stenmark and Sempé as well as books on music and brass works.
41 books on historiography, sociolinguistics and other things and a little hidden are the collective works by Alain de Botton (which might be on its way out relatively soon if his current attitude does not change).

In total that makes 244 books of non-fiction.
I might have forgotten some by the bed, on the dining room table, by the sofa, and borrowed by the man. I probably should make that an even 250 just to not make my madness seem any better than it is.

Friday, 27 November 2015


We store our chargers and cables in a cast iron wok that sits in a large flower pot on top of an old plate. The juggling balls live in there too. It also holds our camping batteries.

Hear me out, there is reason in the madness.

The chargers need to sit in the open air and even better in something fire proof. This is important. Chargers are notorious fire starters, especially older ones but new electronics can also cause over-heating and internal fires. Battery chargers too can short-cut their circuits so they should not be packed down with the camping gear. Besides, we use them for all trips and as in-case-of for emergency cuts too. (And for when someone, yours truly, has forgotten to charge her phone and finds this out on the way out the door. She plugs in the charger to load it on the run. Amazing what lessons can be learned by making the same mistake over and over again!).

The cast iron wok that sits in a large flower pot on top of an old plate is placed near two electrical outlets. It is very conveniently placed where we usually come in and empty our bags and pockets. It looks organised as it was thought out in advanced but it really was not. The whole thing sits under a fixed low hanging light where a plant used to sit. The space can not be used for anything without rehanging the lights and we are way to lazy for that (it really would be part of a major project, I promise, it is more than being lazy, but still...)

The whole thing also keeps cables and chargers away from other flat surfaces needed for other things.
It also makes use of the empty flowerpot. The plant now lives in the window. It is a she and she has a name because she has her own story. The cast iron wok is too nice to just hurl out even if we are not using it,  as nobody buys a cast iron wok these days.
The juggling balls? Well, if we are ever going to learn to juggle, they must be available when the talent hits us. And besides, they keep the sound of chargers dumped in cast iron down.

The heads of the chargers all look similar (hey, what happened to that EU regulation requiring electronics placed on the market to have interchangeable chargers??). I marked some of them with a dot of nail polish on two sides in order to make them differentiable in the full snake pit.

It really works well, almost as if we had thought about it.

Thursday, 26 November 2015


The total amount of books in my possession has not yet been counted, but I own the following amount of fiction (This is the smallest and most countable subsection of books I own as I am not really a lover of fiction literature. Reality is so much more varied and unexplainable than any story that can be invented. Why? Because an invented story has to make sense and reality really very rarely does. But I digress...):

Besides the 41 books related to Peter Wimsey, I own 138 other fiction books and novels.

Per shelf they are:
18 books primarily by Marian Keyes.
39 books by authors from the antiquity, the anarchism, and by Tony Hawks etc.
41 books by primarily Virginia Woolf, Josephine Tey, Agatha Cristie, Fredrika Bremer and John Donne.
40 books by C.J. Sansom, Frederick Forsyth, Michael Montaigne and a bunch of books I just want to read before I give them away.

I suppose John Donne should be on the poetry shelf and that Michael Montaigne isn't strictly fiction, but they are both my go-to reads for when I want to read something nice and easy to make me feel good and if I want to read something just for the pleasure of reading.

In total with the Wimesy books, that makes 179 books on fiction to be added to the total sum as a part of my task of going through my books this month.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


I am in love with Peter Wimsey. Not even a little bit. I really do love him.

I met him in a taxi many years ago.
He was going to an auction, but had forgotten his catalogue and the first thing he said was:
"Oh, damn". How can you not love a man like that?

Lord Peter Wimsey is the main character in Dorothy L. Sayers detective novels published from 1923 until the beginning of the second European world war.
In 1998 an unfinished manuscript was edited and published by Jill Paton Walsh who since then has continued publishing a number of books based on Sayers writings and now, quite independently, extends the story about Peter and his wife Harriet Vane.

I own - currently, I might add - 41 physical books about Peter Wimsey. All titles, most first or old editions, and in several languages. This is not too many and none will get cleared out in the November Challenge.
I also have all books as electronic versions to dip into when bored, and to reread several times a year.

There used to be many more physical books in my possession but in the great clear-out in 2014, I got rid of many of the lesser good editions and translations (including a horrid German translation of Busman's holiday, that skipped all sentences with words too difficult to translate!).

Books that you have read so many times that you almost know them by heart, are a wonderful way of training your new language. While the original text runs in the back of your head, you can read the translators version on the page. New words will become connected to old phrases. Although a translation always will present a character in a different light (which is why you never really want to read a translation if you can read the original), it will always aim to retain some of its original flavour.

(The man has read most if not all the Wimsey books too.
He had to; he had to know who the competition was. A fictional character!
I was horrified to hear it. But I know it is true. Often I start a sentence with: "Oh, this reminds me of what Peter said..." adding a long quote.
The man claims his other competition is Emperor Charles V whom I also constantly refers to.
I should be utterly ashamed of myself - but I can't be. I know that to be true too.)

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Living the Good Life? This is an example of what I consider a Good Life:

"Cosimo, the head of the family, was particularly fond of living in the country and used his time in his villas to demonstrate to the rest of the world the simplicity of his republican lifestyle. Clad in simple garb of a country dweller, he loved to cultivate his own garden. He would prune the wines while his in-house scholar, Marsilio Ficino, read aloud to him from the works of the Greek philosopher Plato." (page 95)

This is the way Cosimo Medici is described in my book about 15th century paintings by Rose-Marie and Rainer Hagen. In all reality, it is more a book about 15th century culture than about art. They describe life from perspective of what you can see in 15th century paintings.

The text on the price tag indicates that the book was bought in Lithuania so I guess I got it in the spring of 1990 when I was in Kaunas at the University. After all the run-ins with the remnants of the Soviet Army (Lithuania was declared independent then by everybody except the Soviet Union so tanks roamed the streets.) I probably needed art to calm me in the evenings. (I also suspect it was the only book I could get hold of written in English. It was common in Eastern Europe before the change to provide only very inconspicuous literature in English.)

Now, the man and I read it out loud while drinking coffee in bed on Saturday mornings.

If I ever get filthily stinking superfluously enormously rich, I will rather have an in-house scholar than a live in maid. Possibly reading Plato, never ever Aristotle, although preferably Epicurus (not to anybody's surprise.)

Monday, 23 November 2015


There is snow.

I love it. I really absolutely love it. I love the way it lights up the nights and the way it muffles the sounds of traffic. Beautiful. I love the sound under my shoes.

I went out and listened to the sound under my shoes. I walked with my tongue out trying to catch the snowflakes. Beautiful. The snow came last night and I am by now done with it.
Thank you. Good bye. I am good for the season, thanks.

Could you please go back to where you came from - please?
I really hate travelling with snow on the ground, in the air, in the weather prognosis.
Everybody becomes skittish and me especially. 

Sunday, 22 November 2015


Vad är det för fel på hotell?

Mitt hotellrum är så kallt efter klockan 10 att jag sover i fleece tröja, mössa och strumpor.
Ljuden från hissen går genom väggarna och jag är ändå inte närmast.

Personalen är antingen alldeles för krävande artig eller inkompetent ointresserade.

Fast just detta hotell har goda äpplen, bra tvålar (att ta med hem) och mjuka handdukar (som man inte ska ta med hem). Det finns dessuom en pizzeria om hörnet och en domkyrka över gatan.
Internetuppkopplingen är stark och stabil.

Det bästa av allt? Jag kan äta havregrynsgröt med gravlax till frukost.

Och efter en vecka kan jag åka hem med minst en månads förråd av tvål.

Friday, 20 November 2015

No, no I still do not like ice cream and no, no freezer function at all. My freezer compartment is not even at fridge temperature.

Well, at least I have advanced my total knowledge about the world around me.

Thursday, 19 November 2015


My neighbours have renovated again. This time by the look of it, a bathroom.
What they put out to trash was about two litres (in a five litre bucket) of high-hygienic water-based medium-gloss white paint. Exactly what I need for my kitchen cupboard in my little apartment (there is only one kitchen cupboard).

Painting is easy but it is not the task that provides the good final result.
To get a good result from the easy paining, the preparations are essential. And those are not easy.
The preparatory work takes time, as there are several steps with drying time between. It does not help, that I seem to only paint in houses where the previous painter has been an amateur (the man included).

For the kitchen cupboards, I wrote a list of all steps so that I could cross them out one by one and feel good about it. This is the list and it has now been executed:
- Wipe down everything with washing liquid to degrease it.
- Scrape or scrub off all paint the previous owner painted on handles, tiles etc.
- Scrape with a hard scraping iron off all bubbles, drips, spilled plaster, brush hair and all and anything stuck in the paint.
- Wipe with dry cloth the dust off. Here I also had to remove seven thumb-tacks under the paint. (Why would anybody cover thumb-tacks with paint?? (effing amateurs grumble mutter…)
- Sandpaper everything. Don't be shy about it. If you can see it now, you will also be able to see it with the paint covering it. Paint does not fill cracks.
- Wipe with dry cloth the dust off.
- Scrape again as something will undoubtedly be found that is easier to scrape off rather than sandpapering it down.
- Wipe the dust off with a wet cloth.
- Wash with paint cleaner (soda) in the suitable strength.
- Let it dry. (Takes longer than you think).
- Wipe with dry cloth.

- NOW it is good to plaster anything uneven. I had no plaster at home so I ....
- added the base coat first to all inner sides and shelves (three, and I painted it with an old radiator brush – perfect actually).
- Wait for seven hours minimum until it stops stinking and is completely dry. (A little tea light burns the smell particles and helps a bit if you as I have to sleep in the same room.) Opening the window only helps with the smell but slows the drying time if the temperature outside is less than about 15 degrees C. When the shops opened, I bought plaster, and touched up all little cracks and unevenness with my smallest plastering iron.
- Wipe the plaster even with a wet sponge to get as many of the ridges off as possible. Let plaster dry, sandpaper, wipe, dry.
- Repaint with base coat.
- Dry while waiting seven hours.

- Add top coat. This was so easy because my neighbour uses really good, brand-name paint and my base-coat was some supermarket quality.
Because it is inside a narrow cupboard with overhang it took three quarter of an hour to do the base coat with a brush. I used a small sponge-roller for the top coat, even if I then had two tools to clean. It still saved so much time.
- Wait to dry the top-coat. (I went and used the remaining paint on trimmings, rails in the wardrobe and some other details around the house. When I came back the top coat was dry-ish.
I will add another top coat of pain(t) tomorrow because I have it easily available. The sponge-roller rests in a plastic bag until then and it will make it look not only OK, but really good.
Then finally, I will be able to put everything back into the cupboard (of course going through everything, washed it, and got rid of a few plastic buckets at least.) Puhu!
Total cost for a newly painted, hygienic, fresh-looking inside of a kitchen cupboard - the cost of plaster. All the rest were tools I already have (and have too much of) and the left-overs of my neighbours.

This was the final result:

Ice cream

I am not really keen on ice cream and eat it very rarely (sorbet is ok though). 

Yesterday though, in the shop (milk, pasta and hard bread) the bing-bong announcement said they sold ice cream cheaply. Holiday special (no, as far as I know there is no holiday this week.) They might be referring to christmas - still six weeks away, and not really an ice cream event. And before I digress into my hatred of christmas (no capital letter on purpose!)... where was I?

So yesterday - I bought cheap high quality brand name ice cream.
I took it home.
I put it in the freezer to eat my dinner first.
And I forgot it!!!

I was reminded by John saying he had found treats in his freezer!

Now I want to go home from work. I have an urge to just leave and go home and eat said ice cream. Straight out of the tub with a spoon.

Today day will be remembered as the day I really, really, really wanted to eat ice cream.

(I hope it lasts until I come home so I actually eat the tub before my sad freezer destroys it.)

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


In my little apartment (my personal hide away, the over-nighter close to work, my bug-out apartment, my safety net or just my personal home), I have 34 books and 11 maps and guides of different kinds.

I have now been through them all, flipped the pages open in all of them to see which emotions I would get. Surprisingly many went straight out to the charity shop. (Some because I have an electronic version too.)

There are 19 novels. (I always imagine that I will sit and read novels in my little apartment when the rest of the world is on fire and the euro zone has crashed.) I don't really read them, but it is relaxing to see them. Most of them are old favourites that I almost know by heart. There is also an adventure book about somebody who paddled the entire Amazon that I read in the fall of 1990 (bought in the US.) that I have always thought I will re-read.

There are also 5 cook-books, 5 books about interior design, feng shui and renovation projects, and 2 books about history and historic buildings. I also have an old school book about Scandinavian literature with mostly poetry that I read most frequently.

That makes 33 books in total. The last one is a booklet from a magazine in the mid 2000's about wellness and living the good life. It has numerous exercises in it to do when there is a need to feel better. I am thinking that one day I might feel really really bad about the world around me, so I'm keeping it as a precaution.

With one person after another breaking down mentally around me and one after the other of our common institutions threatened, I will keep it.

Saturday, 14 November 2015


Souvenirs are for people who:
- don’t trust themselves to remember
- go to places to tell others about it (meaning they live in the face of others)
- don’t take time to enjoy the place while they are there (also only takes pictures without people on them)
- think they will never travel ever again (so everything has to be collected for the future). 

I have souvenirs. I have a nightgown bought while at one of my German university still in use, a key chain found on the street outside my house in Shanghai and of course my lovely hand mirror from Hungary. Are they not souvenirs? I have a short memory, like telling people about my travels, usually work hard while travelling and never expect anything nice ever to happen again. 

Friday, 13 November 2015


You know what the fellow said - in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgia's, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace - and what did that produce. The cuckoo clock.
Orson Welles at the Prater in The Third Man (1949, directed by Carol Reed)

Except that Switzerland never produced cuckoo clocks.
Clocks, yes, and very fine ones, but never clocks for people who miss their budgie and wants an hourly memorial service.
At the time of the Borgia's, there was also no Italy. The area was a multitude of kingdoms, princedoms, dukedoms and bishops-doms mixed with independent cities and private estates. The Borgia's were also not Italian in any sense. They descended from Valencia and are mostly famous for producing a number of Popes with despicable morals in the 14th-16th centuries.
The thirty years possibly refers to the period 1476-1507 which is the lifetime of Cesare Borgia, also known as Duke of Valentinois or possibly his father pope (yes, Pope!) Alexandre VI.

And when the Borgias were in power, they and their contemporaries used the Swiss as mercenary armies. The Swiss federation at that time consisted of only the eight cantons to the west. Their fighting power were famous at the time for beating Duke Charles (the Bold) of Burgundy several times in the 1470s. Even today, the popes and the Vatican have mercenary troops from Switzerland to defend the Vatican, called the Swiss guard (and in uniforms resembling their traditional costumes).

In the Swiss Federation at the time, the valleys had self-rule. At the time, they had relative democracy in comparison to everybody else. Democratic societies for non- nobility at the time but not quite in our sense of the world.
The brotherly love in the true familiar sense of the word it was not. You had to be a born in a local family to be included in the democracy, compare today's Swiss citizenship regulations. Peaceful it was not. Not the times, nor the place.

But I love the film and I know the quote by heart.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015


Oh, dear, I seem to have lost my will to leave my job.
Which is Dreadful.
I am supposed to be only working for fun and until my FI-number solidly reaches back up to 30.
(Which is a silly waiting period as my retirement funds starts paying out in 18 years, but anyway.)
I am supposed to retire early am I not? Not? No.

These are the reasons:
- For the first time in my life, ever!, I work for a manager and owner that I not only respect but also like. Shocker! I am not certain how to handle this. I like the management as well as my colleagues. We are a truly odd bunch and cooperate in very unusual ways but I really like them. I am as shocked as you are.
- I like what I do. I do not work full time and no over time but it is at a very high level, requires an unusual set of competences and provides a service for clients which is truly appreciated. The bossier I am, the better they like it. How can I not like that?
- I get to travel a little bit for work which is nice when I am not actually doing it. It takes me to places I would not go to otherwise, forces me to be innovative with what to do and see and I get to look into a part of society not generally open.
- I have managed to set up a life-work balance, home-away balance that calms my restless wanderlust and satisfies my need to safe. My office is anywhere I want it and right now it is set up nicely.
- I truly have the nicest clients who are the kindest people in the world and seems to be quite impressed but what I know and
- I will also get new project involving the China-offices and if technology and diplomatics works out the way it is planned, I will be going home to Shanghai this spring. How could I possibly leave before that? The man also likes China so he would be coming too.

I am a smug cat on a pillow, I know, but I am old and I have worked very very hard to get the qualifications to take the chance that I went looking for, which placed me where I am today.
I am grateful and I have finally had some luck. I have however paid very highly for it. I have done my dog years as well as almost two decades of hard labour. I bloody deserve to have a job I like.
For a while. 

Tuesday, 10 November 2015


Note to self:
I really astonishingly do know what I am doing, and my clients do know how much I know and they really like it. They make me feel good about myself and although I rip them apart, they like me.

Will it ever be possible for me to remember this? It would be nice to be able to sleep the night before an assignment. Ever.
But now I can sleep.


I live in rain countries, I cycle all year around and I like being out of doors.
Consequently I need rain clothes.

Currently I have the following rain appropriate clothes and gear.
- Brown rain boots (proper rubber boots, bought for €10 in Belgium 2011, used rarely and unless new loose soles are put in, not very comfortable to walk in. Essential for those special days.)
- Rain jacket, black (Bought probably 2006 - and its lovely new upgraded replaced bought 2015)
- Rain trousers, black (Excellent, bought a long, long, long time ago and will be used for another 20 years. Got a new elastic for the waist put in this year.)
- Umbrellas: 2 (I hate umbrellas, they are not for out of doors when it rains in any of my countries but they can be useful, I agree for that expected down pour when dressed nicely and crossing from the bus to the opera - or something). I have one white with the European Parliament logo, gifted probably 2010 that is occasionally brought but rarely used. I have one enormous (thing gargantuan over-sized golf umbrella) from a client in Germany, with their logo; gifted at a memorable visit in 2008 (possibly never used, and possibly never will and possibly will never got rid of).

In rain, I also use hiking boots, single layer synthetic knitted gloves (bright green, bought for €0.50 around 2005 and still refusing to break or wear out) and/or cap used when hiking (newly acquired in 2015 in France from the friends in Saint Quentin for €2.50).

Unfortunately, I brought nothing of this with me to the far north where I an right now. Expecting snow and cold, I instead got a week of pouring rain. I will be wet and cold for a week. My hotel room has a bathtub and it will hopefully drive out the cold in the evenings.

Monday, 9 November 2015


Sleeves are usually needed for the fall season.

There is one easy way to extend the use of summer clothes into the colder seasons (sorry Aussies and Brazilians, I am in Western Europe.)  The trick is to add sleeves.
Not permanently and not to the clothes themselves, but rather to your outfit and especially outdoor clothing.

I read about this in a book advising on ultra light hiking, and I saw them on the marathon runners that came trough town a few weeks ago. I had made myself a pair of sleeves for this summers hiking-vacation. It worked so well, that I now carry the sleeves with me everywhere and use them regularly.

The sleeves are made from the top end of a pair of socks. The heels were broken on a pair of long socks where there was nothing wrong with the shaft of the sock. (That IS the proper name, stop giggling.)
I cut diagonally from right above the heel slightly over to the top of the foot (the sock was folded lenght-wise and I cut it double with my fabric scissors, but any scissors and any angle will work.)
I then pulled the sock shaft (stop it!) on to my arm, top fist, which left the top of the foot over my hand. The sewing machine was out on that day for another project so I made one finger-thick button hole in each end, and voilá, I am Morticia Addams.

Under a jacket or a sweater they are barely seen, add a pair of gloves and they are invisible. But it is amazing how much warmer you will feel. I have worn them scrunched down as two wrist bands when it got warm, and I have tucked the toe up under the sleeve in fancier places.

These socks were long from the beginning, and when I add them to a short sleeves shirt, it looks quite stylish and fashionable (no, my sense of style is not extremely high-fashion).

I also cut off a pair of much shorter socks and got myself something more of an arm-muff. For me with long arms, most of my jackets are ever so slightly short in the sleeves. This extra wrist protection are a good send on early mornings. I just slide them on when going cycling and the additional warmth is instant.

As all my socks since decades are always solid black, so will all my extra sleeves will be black. It suits me and my clothing. If you have more colourful socks, perhaps colourful socks that you do not want to wear any longer, there is nothing that would stop you from adding Argyll sleeves to your golf outfit or Daffy Duck sleeves for your kindergarten play date. What ever your lifestyle.

If you live in a warm climate, a pair of sleeves in the back pocket makes you keep your hot hot-weather outfit looking good all though the night. Keep them on for going to Mass, take them off for your jazzy show-off's. 

Sunday, 8 November 2015


Investing for Retirement part 2 is the continuation of the ambition to invest for the retirement already mentioned in earlier post on investments but it all starts with how to calculate Net Worth. This is also the last post in the series of the advice from Early Retirement Extreme website. Although neither Early in my case, Extreme or even Retirement for that matter, it was the site that kick-started me sometime in 2009, 2010.

I will try to force myself to focus more on managing my investments. It is so paralysingly boring but I know it has to be done.

The first I did was to go through the list of blogs and websites that I read. Not all are paralysingly boring but then most of them are not about investments.
So I started a new list with blogs and websites that is actually about investments. About long-term, safe, dividend giving, interest providing, security establishing investments. Money people I, if not trust, at least can stand. It is not a very long list. But still, all are paralysingly boring.

My investment targets are the following.
- Make about 30 years x an annual budget = sum of money (almost check) and hang on to it until I am at least 60 years old (this is the current task)
- Live healthily until I am 90 years old (family average; in progress)
- Die without money (and have no children: check)

My investment principles are the following:
- Avoid the Euro zone financially (The reason for this is a very long story with lots of unique personal reasons and it is not a suggestion for everybody)
- Smallest portion of assets are in stocks. They must all be dividend paying, all must be in large companies, long established, with serious products, serious leaders etc. No start-ups, no bad (personal opinion) products and not run by somebody commonly known to be a fool (it eliminates more companies than you can imagine, as when it comes to financial matters, I have a very generous application of the term "fool".)
- Stocks are bought to keep forever and on one market only. The one I follow and understand. I do not chase individual companies around the world.
- Cash is king but and I keep a hopeful eye on interests.
- The rest is put in shares of investment funds that are not run by fools, or good investor's bad owners as fools, preferably in a combination of funds with varied profiles, reflecting all my different aspects.

I have no idea what I am doing but I do the best I can and knowing that some do not even do that, there is nothing else I can do. But I will task myself to try to read more of the paralysingly boring investment information.
My aim, possibly my vision, although not as certain as a plan and not even in the region of a promise - but I will try to focus more on money, and how to make them grow.

Friday, 6 November 2015


Vad är det för fel på flygplatser?

Varför är allt alltid dyrt på en flygplats? Tror de att alla som någonsin använder transportmedlet flygplan också är gjorda av pengar?
En koppp kaffe är exklusiv och kostar därefter. En smörgås är aldrig bara en bit mat, det ska vara ett konstverk och betalas som ett unikum.
Dessutom är allt bara snacks, alla äter konstant på flygplatser men det går inte att få en vanlig tallrik mat. Pubmat, snack, smörgåsar, minipizza - jag vill ha en dagens med mjölk. Men det går inte. Det är inte flygplatsmat.

Varor som säljs är presentförpackade och upphåsade till höga prisnivåer utan att ge värde för pengarna. Till och med exakt samma produkter är extra stora till extra stora priser.

Jag tror det är det där jävla unnandet som dyker upp i koncentrerad form.
Eller möjligen att shoppandet lugnar nerverna för flygrädda.
Eller att folk som flyger en gång om året eller mindre fortfarande tror att det finns något att köpa på flygplatser som inte finns någonannans stans. Och det kan möjligen vara sant. INGEN skulle någonsin köpa vad som säljs på flygplatser om det såldes i en vanlig butik.

And do not even start me on the faux-tax free shopping!

Thursday, 5 November 2015


I am starting the November Task with one specific section of books.
I own a lot of books for learning languages. In the 2014 clear out, some was cleared out, especially lower level German but also for Spanish and Hungarian (which I now regret as these languages slide away from me).
I still own 31 dictionaries, word books, study guides and course books.
Currently in my possession are the following books per language:

Say it in French pocket (written 1962 and it is pure entertainment to read)
Oxford English-French pocket
Svensk-fransk pocket
French Verb pack
Norstedts franska ordbok Édition étudiant
Escalade 2 (text, exercise and correction book)
Ny fransk grammatik
Teach yourself French in 24 hours
Alter Ego 1 (text and exercise book)
Vokabeltrainer auf Audio-CD: Französisch

Thesaurus pocket
Engelsk Universitetsgrammatik
The Concise English Dictionary (one of my favourite books, I would bring this on a deserted island, it contains so many interesting facts. Bought in London 1983 for £3.99)
Modern Svensk-Engelsk-Svensk ordbok

Svensk-Tyskt pocket
Tysk-svensk-tysk ordbok
Norstedts tyska ordbok
Modern tysk grammatik
Erkundungen Deutch als Fremdsprache Sprachniveau B2

Dutch for travellers pocket
Colloquial Dutch
Klare taal (in progress)
Zo gezegd 2 Nederlands voor anderstaligen, text and exercise book (Flemish Dutch and although officially there is no difference, there is a difference!)
Nederlands module 2.1 (on the list of things to do)
Study pack from Joost Weet Het!

Svensk-spansk pocket
Spansk-svensk-spansk ordbok

Norstedts danska ordbok

Grammatiskt ABC
Svenska akademins ordlista

8 språk pocket: dictionary with 8 different languages in parallel.

Most of the study books are used, some are in current use and others are on the list of things to do (at least of the things I want to do).
I do find it helpful to go back to the texts I know when revising a language. I do not use dictionaries outside of regular class or school situations but then they are essential. Almost daily, however, I use an on-line language training and teaching site.

But really; 31 dictionaries and language books. Nobody needs that many, not these days. 

Wednesday, 4 November 2015


Set visions for your life. Maybe Health, Hearth and Head.

If you think you are overweight, you probably could loose 10% of your body weight. Start the work focusing on the first 3 kilos. It should take a month which means that the little changes you do, will stay with you and the weight will stay off.

Shelter and warmth and safety is next to your body, the most important target. Be safe with your home, own outright if you can or if the buying cost is more than 110 rents in your area, rent from the best landlord you can find and keep the payments.

Stay on a path of new knowledge. Accept all training offered, take the facts that float around and read something, anything, every day. Stay away from simple information (you know people, media or politicians) and look into knowledge (how to do things, learn the names of capitals or how your city is managed). You know there is a difference between knowledge that can be of use one day and the buzzing information that is only of use to others.

Other visions are of course Finance, Family, Friends.
Or maybe Food, Foreign, Flings?
Or possibly Money, Mortgage, Missions.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Post-retirement income

A study covering fifteen EU-countries was published today. The study called Ageing in Europe - Supporting Policies for an Inclusive Society shows enormous differences in post-retirement income across Europe.

In these fifteen member states, more than 50% of households report difficulties in making ends meet, according to new research by SHARE (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe) which looks into Europe's societal challenges of rapid population ageing.
The figure is only around 20% in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Read that again: 50% of households in Austria, France, Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Slovenia, Spain, Italy and Greece have difficulties making ends meet in post-retirement. In Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands it is 20% of the households who have difficulties making ends meet in post-retirement. (Norway is probably in there too but with a European Union view, rather than a European Market view, they are excluded from the study.)

Do you know will be your post-retirement income; regardless of when that happens?
Are you ready to fit a lifestyle within that income? Can you live within that budget?

If you include the value of your property in your net-worth (FI-number), you know that your lifestyle will change and that your budget will change (include rent) when/if the property is sold to generate money. Will that be a change you are happy about making or will you be required to make it as you retire?

Monday, 2 November 2015


The task for November is Books.
It is time for the coach and some tea. In Western Europe it is book reading time. 

The task is to go through the book-shelf, appreciate each book that I have and that I keep by re-reading it or using it for references. I will try to touch each book (with a dust-cloth at least). 
Either I remember it, am reminded of it, meet a complete stranger that is interesting or am entirely bored. Those books that without reading them, bore me, they really should not be allowed to sit on my book-shelf. 
I aim to sell or donate them. (What usually happens is that they go in a bag for a while, even a few months. Then we deliver a select handful in the free-book trading shelves that are around here and is where most of my books come from.) Some really need to be sold, but I think that will mean that I will donate them to some place who will sell them. I am currently too lazy to get on the second-hand book market as a seller.

The first task is as usual the most difficult. Look through all my books. How many books do I actually have? How many books do you have? This is the task for November.

(And this year this is becoming quite urgent as I am slowly running out of shelf space with all the books I gained for my latest degree.)

Sunday, 1 November 2015


Financial independence number: 28,89.

This means, I can live almost twenty nine years with my current lifestyle on my current assets (not including inflation or raised costs of living but I am hoping that dividends and interests will take care of that.) I also have a pension that will contribute in the year 2030, 2033 or 2035 but although it will be a welcome income, I am not counting on it and therefore not including any contributions to any pension schemes in my FI-number.

I am anyway very happy! Last month I was a little worried but it all has kicked back quite quickly.

The FI-number means that I can, whenever I want, walk away from work and do whatever I want. However, at the moment, I want to work the hours that I do with what I do.
It does however also mean that I do not really own anything. No house, car, jewellery, art, fancy clothes or fancy anything. On the other hand, I also do not have any debt, mortgage, student loans or risky investments.

I have a tiny but secure home base, a fancy man and a fancy education and there are thoughts bubbling to go for more.... (as in more education, not more men - or homes.)