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Don’t cross the border from Luxembourg to Belgium if you have a suitcase of money in your car. That’s the kind of advice a few well-off Germans would have appreciated a few months earlier.

A gang of criminals, pretending to be policemen, made at least €500k during the last years by stopping business class cars with German number plates and somewhat elderly drivers, returning from Luxembourg via Belgium to Germany.

The cars were then searched for unusual amounts of money with the apparent claim that the policemen had to verify whether the money was not forged. Apparently, it is not that “unusual” for people to go to Luxembourg, to withdraw around €10-20k in cash and then to come back to Germany.

The police believes that not all the poor victims filed charges later on, as some might be afraid of being sued for tax fraud. After all: why would you go to Luxembourg to withdraw considerable amounts of money in cash?

I have to admit that I kind of admire the style of these criminals. Nobody got hurt or was even threatened.  Anyways, you can read the full story (in German) here.

Very recently, the price for a barrel of crude oil exceeded for the first time $100.

Just a bit of story behind the story: It was in fact a single person, Richard Arens, who was responsible for crossing this “magical threshold”. The professional trader bought 1000 barrels at a price of $100 (… apparently, $100,000 is the minimum trading amount …), only to sell them a few minutes later with a total loss of $600. He did this according to his own account, to later tell this story to his grandson. 🙂

Bad pun: If he had kept the oil, he would have paid $100,000 for enough oil to light an “eternal flame”.

A Kodak Ex-1011 digital picture frame with Wifi.

Pictures are uploaded by family members, automatically downloaded from a website and the proud owner doesn’t even need to know what the internet is.

I don’t like criminals who use force or even merely threaten to use force. I like the slick Thomas Crown kind of criminal.

In Dublin a single criminal yesterday pulled a pretty cool stunt. He drove up to the Guiness brewery with an empty trailer, and drove away with beer worth about 64k Euros. That simple.

Pretty cool, I must admit. Only that I don’t like beer …

Similar stunts are apparently not that rare (these were all found on the link above):

Thieves in Gloucester made off with four lorries full of cans of lager last year, worth £500,000

Russian tree-planters punctured a vodka pipeline crossing the Latvian border. Customs officials believe that bootleggers had been selling the spirit for decades

Irish customs officers seized 1,500 liters of pure alcohol from the IRA in 2005 in a raid on the illegal distilleries that helped to fund their operations. Along with the alcohol they found bottling and capping machines and high-quality copies of brand labels, which allowed them to make near-perfect copies of many spirits on an industrial scale


A vodka pipeline?? I still learn new things every day …

Tchibo (a German chain of coffee shops/cafés) currently also offers a correspondence course at the Private University of Applied Sciences at Göttingen  (no English Wikipedia page yet, its homepage is here) . The details of this offer are here.

I’m still a bit undecided and don’t really have an opinion on this issue yet. Needless to say that it has a certain comical element. (“Would you like anything else with your coffee? Maybe a university degree?”) Also needless to say that the decision to take up a course at a university should not be made while buying roasted beans. But then the PUG claims that interested customers will only be sent a brochure and that they can make the decision at home. At the end they surely were hoping to cause a bit of a stir by this unusual co-operation with Tchibo (which they did).

As we all know, there is no such thing as bad publicity.  The very same university was in the media before with its “Find a job or get your tuition fees back”-offer. If six months after graduating with a diplome/masters degree you still haven’t found an adequate job, you can claim back the tuition fees for the last year. (See the German Wikipedia page.)

In case you’re wondering: the PUG is actually doing pretty well in the university rankings.

Have you ever found yourself in the situation where you wanted to buy a diamond but were simply overwhelmed by the amount of offers out there? … No? Well, then this search engine is exactly what you don’t need:

Amazon diamond finder

A pretty nice interface though.

… because, at least so far, I didn’t get a parking ticket. [Funnily, after writing these few words, I had to run back to my car as I forgot to put the parking permit for EPFL behind the windshield.]

I just got my second parking ticket yesterday. But this time it was a “mere” 100 Francs (60 Euros). If this linear trend continues, the parking ticket after the next after the next after the next after the next will be free! Hooray! Finally something to look forward to!

Until last Thursday, the last parking ticket I got was from the
Bostalsee (close to Saarbrücken). I simply forgot to pay. It would
have cost 2 Euros for the whole day, but even the parking ticket
was only an amazing 5 Euros (… and they paid 1,10 Euros to send it to me.)
But here in Switzerland, “the authorities” are not quite as lenient. While moving
some stuff to my new appartment, I parked my car outside our
building for about 20 minutes. I was not blocking any exit
or emergency access (but I admittedly parked on the
sidewalk where it was forbidden). 120 francs. About 70 Euros.
Welcome to Switzerland!


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