Archives for October 2007

Der Reformationstag

The Reformationstag is celebrated on 31st October each year. It is the day on which in 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, critising certain aspects of the Catholic Church and thus starting the Reformation in Germany.

It is a bank holiday mainly in the eastern part of the country.

To hear a simple explanation in German, listen to the podcast:

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Oil price over $90 per barrel

I read on Helge Keitels’ Twitter this evening, that the oil price had gone through $90 per barrel, so I went straight over to the BBC News website to check out the details. There is even talk there of hitting the $100 mark by the end of the year!

With petrol (Super, 95 octane) costing 1.379EUR/litre this evening in Oberursel, I could of course just be smug and say that I took the right decision to lease the bio-ethanol car. When people complain about the price of petrol at a Stammtisch that’s probably what I’ll do as well.

But on the other hand, my wife does not drive a bio-ethanol car so we won’t be totally unaffected and even I am meant to put normal petrol in the tank for the winter to create a more cold-resistant mix.

I’ve been through my car log books to see how the petrol has got steadily more expensive. When I first came to Germany in 1995 I paid 0.787EUR/litre – that means that the price has almost doubled in that time! It’s not as if that was down to inflation, but more a case of rising oil prices and in particular the green tax on fossil fuels.

As little as 5 years ago, when the Euro was introduced, I paid as little as 0.939EUR/litre.

The public perception is that the prices always increase with the oil price, with the green tax, with VAT and so on. But they never seem to go down again for any reason, even if the oil price does.

Looking back through the log book for the last 12 months I can almost confirm this – the price has been rising steadily and only twice have I seen it drop back.

However the $90 price may now affect the price at the pump, most people seem to just accept it and pay – realistically they don’t have much choice. You won’t see the sort of protests in Germany as you do in France or the UK.

But when you travel on a long journey, the cost of that journey has effectively doubled as well now. That said, travelling with the family can still be cheaper by car than by train!

People now look to technology to provide an answer to both problems – the cost of the fuel and the environmental impact. At the IAA last month the manufacturers showed off their new eco-friendly models, but the reports that I read said that most were not in production yet.

There is, however, one worrying thought. At the moment I have the double-bonus of bio-ethanol. I am doing my bit for the environment and saving money at the same time. What will happen when Governments realise that they are going to earn less on fossil fuels as people change over to greener options, and start taxing the alternatives just as high?

Let’s hope that it doesn’t come to that, just yet…

When translations go wrong – the podcast

Sometimes you see signs that have been translated into German, only not quite translated correctly. This can have funny results. Graham saw, and photographed, several of these whilst on holiday on Lanzarote and today the Monday Podcast discusses what he found and why such mistakes happen.


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Download the MP3 file | Subscribe to the podcast
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