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Advent 2021 day 8

It looks like YouTube doesn't (yet?) support 8K. The most that my cat 8K test offers in the download options is WebM 2160p; the same as the video for... what was it, last Sunday?
Note that the YouTube app won't offer these sorts of resolutions if it doesn't think your device or bandwidth is up to it. To see/download all available resolutions, you'll need something like NewPipe.


Pensions revisited

It may be that France is actually a lot more generous than seemed at first glance.

Talking to some women at work, it seems that their pensions vary from €1,000 to €1,400 depending on how long extra they worked. The base pension is about a thousand, and each extra year typically gets a hundred a month extra.

Now, here's the kicker. It seems as if everybody talks about pensions using the brut figure. I don't understand that, as if we are talking brut, then I'm on two grand a month. That's sure as hell not what goes into my bank account!

So, let's look at this. In order for me to retire at the age of 62 with a full pension, I will need to have made contributions for 172 trimesters. There are four in a year, so let's just call them seasons.
172 seasons is 43 years of working. Which means that if you start work at the age of 18, you'll have the required number by the time you get to be 61.

When I reach 62, having started work here in France at the age of 35, I will only have accrued 110 seasons. Which is why the pension that they are offering me at 62 is about €550 a month (or €613 brut). When I was talking to a woman at work, she replied quite blatantly that if the government offered her that, she'd just wet herself as her electricity bill is over half that. I gasped - mine is about thirty a month! Okay, granted, I don't keep this place at 24°C in the winter (the kitchen is about 7°C right now!), but still. Nearly three hundred? WTactualF? At any rate, throwing in the towel at 62 is not really a viable option.

Anyway, when I reach 67, I will have racked up 130 seasons, which is 32½ years of contributions. A mite over a decade short. But France is going to offer me practically the standard basic pension anyway - €984 brut (or about €880 in reality). If I then choose to work an extra year, they will bump it up by the hundred-ish they offer to others (€1092 brut, about €975 net). It looks like I can only work one extra year. There's one woman who is working to 64 to get 4×10% (or ~€400) extra, but, come on, I'll be one foot in the grave by then! Still, it's pretty damn generous of them to offer that.

I'm seeing a social worker next Wednesday to confirm this, as it says at 67 I will have 130 seasons, and at 68 I'll have 147. I dunno about you, but I don't think 130 plus four is 147!

My pension will be a bit less than everybody else's because I think I am likely to lose a little something due to missing a decade of contributions, and also the top-up will be missing points. Points are fractions of a euro or something, it's complicated how it works out, suffice to say that you get about 77 a year, so I'll be missing around eight hundred. Or, a rough back of the envelope calculation... uh... eighty four euros? Kind of expected it to be more than that!

Anyway, one thing is quite clear, I will have to work until at least 67. It would be to my benefit to work until I'm 68 if I am capable. And France isn't particularly screwing me for missing a big chunk of time regarding contributions. I suppose they figure having to work an additional five years more than makes up for that. After all, the €613 brut that they would be offering me over five years comes to nearly thirty seven thousand, so me contributing rather than claiming that will likely count for something here.

But, still, it's pretty generous to offer more or less what the going pension is, rather than doing something nasty like saying it's pro-rata according to seasons paid in, which if the base is a thousand, would work out to be about €755, or about €675 net.

So, yeah, it actually looks as if France is being pretty generous here.


Missing England?

I was speaking to a friend last night (why the video was late) and we got on the topic of things that I miss from England.

Let me first say, clearly, that I do not regret moving to France. Even working until I conk out. I have a peaceful life, I like it here. As an introvert, the fact that nothing ever happens is appealing.

But that doesn't mean that there is nothing from my past life and past country that I miss. There are. It's only natural.

In no particular order:

  • Tea shops
  • Proper actual honest-to-god TEA (thank god for Amazon)
  • Garden centres (Jardiland tries, but it isn't the same, it needs a tea shop)
  • Lamb hotpot
  • All day breakfast (but you can keep the fried tomato half!)
  • A proper sponge cake because I don't know what the Frenchies do wrong but their cakes are nothing even remotely close to a Victoria Sponge.
  • W.H.Smith (or any bookshop where I can read the books in an afternoon, thank god for Amazon)
  • Traffic lights where everything stops for the pedestrians.
  • A half litre pot of yoghurt for a pound (I used to like Rachel's Black Cherry).
  • Baked beans - I used to get these from a supermarket in Châteaubriant for about €1/tin, but then The Withdrawal happened, and since they weigh heavy there's no point even looking at Amazon (twelve tins for €28,47 or four for €17,86, both "free delivery").
You'll notice that food and tea feature a lot in this list. ☺


Mamie Fletcher's House 8

My brilliant beta testers

I decided, rather than look for beta testers when I had a "release candidate", I would get them involved fairly early on. When the game was playable, if a little basic, and it can develop organically with their ideas and feedback.

The testers were Vince, David, and Tony. They were chosen as Vince, David, and myself are The Usual Suspects when it comes to testing Tony's games.

All got on board in a great way, along with Sofia (Tony's daughter). Starting in mid August as I was developping Mamie, they quickly did weird things, mashed random keys, and tried to make things go wrong. And they were rewarded with some amusingly peculiar behaviour (such as trying to jump through a wall leaving Lucy bouncing like the Energiser bunny). Quite a number of major rewrites were involved. The first version of ghost touch detection was, well, let's just say I don't think I have a copy of that code any more. Good. ☺

Spurred on by their enthusiasm for the game, I added all sorts of features such as the flickering candle, the doors, skill levels, spiders, and lots of 'scenery' to pretty things up a bit. A also reworked a lot of the objects (chairs, tables, etc) to draw only what was necessary, as trying to handle too many transparent pixels slowed things down. So much that it was starting to get a bit laggy on a Pi 2. The main place where this hurt was The Theatre with all those chairs and windows. But after those changes, passing through there kept the frame rate up nicely.

Let's just say, Mamie Fletcher's House would probably be a bit 'meh' without the valued assistance of my beta testers.


But that's not all...

I'd like to take a moment to give an additional thank you to (in alphabetical order):
  • Sofia
    For the little scared noise that Lucy makes when touched by something; and for the "Oh, yes!" that she says when finding a film. Vince wasn't keen on "Oh, yes!", he said "Aha!" might be better, until I pointed out Lara Croft whose "Aha!" is (in)famous. The choice of wording was chosen by me. I'm one of those people that tends to prefix sentences with "Oh,".
  • Tony
    For volunteering to compose a theme. I suggested something, and he came back with something completely different that was exactly the right ambience.
    I'll talk more about this on day 11.
  • Vince
    Last, because V, but by no means the least. If you've played any level at all that has messed with you, done something strange, or made you scratch your head... blame him. I was never a gamer. I suck at games, so my level designs were part "introducing things" and part "oh, let's make a pretty room".
    It's Vince that bent and twisted the game engine into all sorts of alternate realities, such as ladders that only go up. Or a level essentially free of ghosts (or is it?). Or that one with all the Mega ghosts locked in a room.
    And he's totally to blame for the idea of putting a hole in the floor at the top of a ladder. It is actually possible to jump away before the fall happens, but chances are you took a 25% hit falling. I did.
    Still, it's his level designs that make the game interesting.

Like I said, my brilliant beta testers.

Thank you, guys. Thank you.


Tomorrow, how to make things more challenging.



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Steve Drain, 8th December 2021, 22:01
Here, you can order 6 1kg tubs of Heinz beans from Amazon for £23. ;-)
J.G.Harston, 12th December 2021, 12:22
When I lived in Hong Kong it was proper honest-to-goodness out-of-a-cow milk that I missed. Proper Tetley's got imported my the ton, but the milk has to be sourced locally, and there was always something weird about it. Not enough fat or too homogenised or something. 
When I went to Japan for a fortnight I took 120 Tetley's with me - and I almost ran out. 
Talking of Hong Kong I've got five years missing in my state pension because I need to gain 35 years of contributions between the ages of 25 and 65.
Rick, 12th December 2021, 12:45
For some reason, when we first came here, mom thought that milk was only available in UHT format. 
It took a bit of convincing that, no, that white stuff in the plastic bottle is real honest to god semi skimmed. 
(plus full fat, plus "lait ribot" which is sort of part curdled - really not good for tea!)
David Pilling, 15th December 2021, 04:06
Pensions - you are convinced that in 20 years time the rules will be the same(?) 
I paid what I was asked through my working years - and what I have is a mess because the system changed along the way a few times. 
One scandal is that it is all so complicated and not written down anywhere that I can find on Google. There's a UK government phone number you can ring and they're very good and helpful, but they run rings around you, they know all the catches and you (with nothing written down) don't. 
You can top up your UK pension and it can be worthwhile. 
The whole pension thing is a case of give us your money today and we will give you something much later - and much later is much later... It is unlike the normal transaction, here is 5 bob, give me an apple, and if the apple does not live up to my expectation there can be discussion and resolution. 
Proust seemed to have trouble with time in France. Maybe some madelines would help. 
Talking of cake - cake flour seems to be a national thing - during the flour shortage which 2020 is chiefly remembered for - the comment section on the Tesco web site turned ugly over Polish double 00 flour "why doesn't it say what it is for in English".

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