Friday, August 27, 2004


Ahhh. The jackhammers have stopped. Whacking at that wall is bad enough, the clouds of dust settling on the parked cars until it looks like it's snowed is weird, but the bzzzzz. Bzzzzz. Bzzzzz. all day long is going to drive me over the edge. Fortunately, there's a weekend ahead.

Since the aim of this blog is to write and edit every one of these entries in an hour or less, sometimes I don't finish my thoughts, or leave out stuff I was meaning to write. This can be because I get interrupted by the mailman or a phone call, or, just as likely, my own brain failing to be organized enough. One of the things I meant to add to the construction piece was that there's also some in front of my building, so that you can't use the sidewalk. This has been there nearly a month, and I can't tell what they're doing, except it seems to have something to do with the sewers, because they're also in the basement of the building facing the street. And this, it occurred to me, may have something to do with the fact that the bakery on the corner seems to have ground to a halt in the middle of its construction. Somewhere waaay down in the blog, I mentioned that there was an ungodly smell that emanated from right in front of the door to the place, and now I'm wondering if they've stopped work until this sewer business can be fixed. I do know, however, that the people living in the €250,000 (asking price) apartments next door have to walk on a board over mud and sand to get to their front door. Lovely.

I also got some details on Hartz IV, the new unemployment rules, thanks to the mighty Walter Flaat, who has his own blog, and who had this to say:

"It's a reform of social security where the unemployment
benefits and the regular social security are made of equal
height so that they would both get the same amount each month.

"This makes for quite a financial drop for people on unemployment
benefits. Adding to that is the rule that says you only get 1
year of unemployment benefits.

"After that, you go in to the regular social security which states
that you can only have so much possessions (if you own a house
for instance, you have to sell it off).

"Now all these unemployed people have to find themselves a job
within a year or 'eat' their posessions, in practice that would
mean that people have to take any job they can possibly find."

The amount in question, I believe, is €345, which means that for a year, you get a princely €690 a month. More than I make most months, but unless you live in a cheap city like Berlin, hardly enough to live on. And among the things you're obliged to sell off is a kid's bank account: if your kid has over a certain amount in the bank you get the money. No wonder Chancellor Schröder got pelted with eggs the other day.

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