Thursday, 28 December 2006

Frohe Weihnachten und einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!

This is most probably my last post for 2006, so I'd like to say a belated Merry Christmas to you all, dear readers, and all the best in the new year!

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Communication problems

Following the earth tremor of 8 December, Weil's mayor, Wolfgang Dietz, wrote to Barbara Schneider, one of the city councillors in Basle, to express his concern on behalf of the upstanding citzens of Weil that Swiss officials couldn't be bothered to inform anyone on this side of the border about what caused the quake. Herr Dietz and Frau Schneider have a bit of previous, shall we say, dating from a couple of years back when they were in opposing camps during the Germany vs Switzerland "Zollfreie Straße" controversy (long story, will cover that one another time - suffice to say that the Swiss didn't have a leg to stand on).

Anyway, this time Dietz socked it to Basle again, lambasting the lack of communication coming from the city. The first he heard of the little matter of geothermal activities in Kleinhüningen having been the trigger was through the press, he said. The tremor had also caused a great deal of unnecessary worry and agitation among Weil's residents, so reports said. Dietz wasn't alone in expressing his concern: his counterpart from St Louis (F), also gave Basle a pièce of his mind.

My personal view of all this is that seems a bit strange for the Swiss to bang on about romantic notions of tri-border cooperation when they can't even stick their finger out to inform their close neighbours about the background to last week's events. Incidentally, a fortnight or so ago a free brochure landed in my letter box entitled "metrobasel". It was full of glossy pictures and "visions" of how cross-border cooperation can be harnessed to consolidate Basle's economic prosperity. It had plenty of quotes from Basle's councillors, academics and captains of industry, talking about ambitious rail and building projects etc., but notably not a peep from anyone either from France or Germany. I then saw the list of the project's official partners at the back of the brochure and it read like a who's who of Basle's corporate movers and shakers. Now, there is a temptation to be cynical here and suggest that Weil and Lörrach, or Huningue and St Louis for that matter, weren't even consulted about this important project either.

Sunday, 10 December 2006


Basle was raised to the ground by an earthquake in 1356.
Basle is on a fault line, and seismologists say that a major earthquake could hit the region again at any time. In the time I've been living in Weil, several notable earth tremors have been recorded. Most times they occurred at night when I was fast asleep. The only time I actually felt something was November 2005, when there was a quake measuring 5.4 on the Richter Scale. The epicentre was in Waldkirch (D) near Freiburg but could be felt here. Windows started to shake and it was a bit scary.
Anyway, another tremor occurred at 5.50pm on Friday 8 December. However, the difference with this one was that it was "man-made". According to press reports, the epicentre was directly under the border area of northern Basle (Kleinhüningen) and Weil. It turns out that it was caused by a Deep Heat Mining project located in Basle only 100m or so from the border. There had been several more minor earth tremors in the 24 hours prior to this quake, and these have continued up until today, albeit barely detectable.
Although the quake on Friday evening only measured 3.4 on the Richter Scale, it felt worse, by all accounts, because the tremor occurred only 5 kilometres below ground - most natural tremors are a lot lower (15 to 20km). I say "by all accounts" because I was totally oblivious to it. By my reckoning, I'd just come out of work and was on a tram in the centre of Basle at that time and didn't notice a thing. A colleague said she felt a tremor earlier at around 5pm - which I also didn't notice.
Ho hum. Anyway, here is an article about it in German which I've scanned (click to enlarge):

Saturday, 2 December 2006


Went to Frankfurt last Thursday to take in the UEFA Cup group tie between Eintracht Frankfurt and Newcastle United. Joined up with Scott from Zurich on the train, then Rob and John from Mannheim onwards. The four of us later met up with others who had travelled up by car.

The time prior to, during and after the match was punctuated somewhat by Rob. He'd done some digital photo work and produced a collection of photo stickers of your's truly showing the email address of this blog at the bottom. Aided and abetted by John, he then proceeded to distrbute these stickers liberally throughout Frankfurt's public transport system. If you are surfing this blog for the first time after having spotted one of these stickers while going down a U-Bahn escalator in Frankfurt, I can only apologise for photo in question, hope you have recovered from the trauma and welcome you to my blog.

The match ended 0-0.