This is quite some stuff to work through, because everything in Germany is complex 😀

Travel health insurance or the foreign national health insurance?

This will depend on the legislation in that country, and on what type of job status you will have there. For example for Spain, when being employed or self-employed there, you have to be part of the Seguridad Social public health insurance system and pay fees there (though only ca. 50 EUR monthly) [source]. If you want to avoid that and still want to work, you may have have your business registered in your country of origin and only work telecommute jobs – should generate no problems, though I have no experience with that so far.

When not being part of the foreign national health insurance system, you can get insurance from a private health insurer – either a regular rate that covers also costs abroad, or a specialized travel health insurance (which will be cheaper in nearly all cases).

Selecting an adequate insurer

I have no experience with any of the below, but they'd be the first I would look into.

Travel health insurances:

  • Auslandsreiseversicherung der HANSEMERKUR Reiseversicherung. As offered by Mawista GmbH as an intermediate, for example. The special thing about them is that this insurance is possible for up to 5 years in a row, while most other insurers only have a max. duration of one or three years. Costs are a bit higher though, normally 59 EUR monthly (18 – 65 years, without U.S. and Canada).

How to re-enter German health insurance

Once returning to Germany, you have to re-enter the German health insurance system (except you can keep your existing health insurance, which is for example normally possible with travel health insurances for 6 – 12 weeks a year). Here are several options how to re-enter the system, by adequacy:

  1. As self-employed person: "voluntarily insured member" in public health insurance. This is generally the most recommendable variant. However, public health insurers have to accept you only if you have enough pre-existing health insurance time (de: Vorversicherungszeit). They might still accept you if not, but it's not guaranteed by law. If they do not accept you, you would have to enter private health insurance, given the obligation to have health insurance while in Germany.
    The required pre-existing health insurance time is 24 months within the last 5 years [SGB V §9 (1) 1.] This refers to times in the public health insurance only [source], but that should be confirmed again. So when going abroad after 24 or more months of public health insurance, you can stay 3 years without caring about re-entering. To keep your right to re-enter while staying abroad after that, you can re-enter as a voluntarily insured member without entitlement to benefits (because you are abroad). This will cost you about 40 EUR monthly – 2695 EUR * 10% * 14.9% as of 2013 [SGB V §240 (4a), compare Bezugsgröße]. I guess this is what public health insurers usually call "prospective entitlement insurance" (de: Anwartschaftsversicherung). They usually want to tell you to get that type of insurance immediately when going abroad, but that's only needed after three years as reasoned for above.
  2. As non-employed person. Even without entitlement to become again voluntarily insured in a German public health insurance, you can enter it by leveraging the very law that obliges everybody in Germany to have health insurance since 2009. For that, you have to cancel your self-employment when coming back to Germany, and not take on an employee job either. This makes you a person with obligation to get public health insurance according to SGB V §5 (1) 13. a), and any public health insurance has to take you in. This is sometimes called "Versicherung der ansonsten Nichtversicherten", "Auffangsversicherung" or "Bürgersicherung" in Germany. The rate is the same as for other voluntarily insured members, ca. 130 EUR monthly.
  3. As employee. This is the simplest case, as all employees are obligatorily insured in the German public health insurance. However, former self-employed people won't like this 😉
  4. Other options. See the publication "Mitgliedschaft in der gesetzlichen Krankenversicherung nach Auslandsrückkehr" by German Ministry of Health.

It seems like this:

  • The lashing capacity LC according to the norm (EN 12195-2) means the maximum allowed force on the strap in straight pull.
  • When buying lashing straps, you might get an additional second LC measure that is double of the normal LC. This is the lashing capacity in round pull.
  • Why is round pull LC double that of straight pull LC? Think of an application where you connect two points have 180° deflection of the lashing strap (around a tube or similar) at each, in effect making the lashing strap go a full round. A model for this is a small set of pulleys with two barrels and double string. Each of the strings of the one lashing strap (one going forward, the other going back) now has only to bear half of the force between these two points that you pull together, which doubles the lashing capacity compared to straight pull. And as in a pulley system, the force on the belt is the same everywhere as it can distribute evenly, so the part in the 180° deflection point also bears just half the load of the full system.
  • To make the confusion complete, there is a code concerning straight line seams on the lashing straps. They are called “ton lines” (German: Tonnenstreifen) and people think that they indicate: one stripe per 1000 daN lashing capacity in round pull (not in straight pull). But I have yet to see the norm text for that and could not find any source (Hey regulators! You still don’t have these as open content? C’m on, nobody wants to pay 224 USD for the EN 12195-2). In case of lifting loops, they are called “load bearing capacity stripes” (German: Tragfähigkeitsstreifen) and there, indeed, one stripe seems to mean 1000 kg of capacity, but in direct pull.

See also another (German) site with explanations of the lashing strap norm’s abbreviations (LC, HF, SHF, STF, BF, BFmin).

Before using information in this text for security critical applications, check the facts for yourself. I do not take any responsibility!

Practice is the best way to learn a language. But of course. You don't need a school to practice, but still, my school English got me started. Now I'm starting at zero with Spanish, and I wonder how to do that. So here, I explore the best available tools. As usual for an open source enthusiast, I try to find free and open tools for it. Where unavailable, I'm content with just gratis tools for now 😀

As for learning style, I like self-study for the very basics and daily real-world practice beyond. I abhor educational course materials with conversations … the slow speaking makes me feel even more dumb than not understanding a word. So below, I focus on basics to learn by heart for bootstrapping and on real-world content beyond.

Goal Definition

Let's start with my modest set of goals for now:

  • Pronunciation.
  • Basic everyday conversations. Means, about everything that is not philosophy, rocket science or otherwise highly technical or complex.
  • Following conversations. Getting the meaning when following native speakers' conversations and talks in normal speed.
  • Computer aided reading. Understanding plain every text when reading it in the foreign languge, but it's ok to do so with software support at word level.
  • No focus on writing, though. It's the least required skill for cultural immersion. In my case I have English as my default language for writing, and need to keep it up or I would unlearn it.

Bootstrapping Toolkit

An intensive self-taught course to get you started with Spanish from scratch. This bootstrapping phase should not consume more than 150 hours, that's half way of what would make you reasonably fluent in Spanish for example [source]. In contrast to the "practice and refining phase" which is about learning alongside use, the bootstrapping is really work. Let's get used to the fact 😉 And see this Guide to learn languages [by yourself] for a successful training style and motivation management.

  1. Complete course. Choose according to your taste:
    1. ProSpanish course. Taste differs, and I found this one to be highly effective and relevant from the first word on to achieve fast results for speaking Spanish, as it teaches you basic sentence structure by example. (While the FSI courses below are a more traditional / school type version going through situations etc.). Also I found the ProSpanish course to be very "friendly" and patient, I really like to listen to it. It is however way shorter than the FSI course (about 3 hours compared to 30-40 hours), but might teach you enough for this "bootstrapping level" already.
    2. FSI Spanish Courses. Public domain and available online as both text and audio. This is esp. awesome as these are recommended as the best material in the "How to Learn Any Language" site [source], and they know what they're talking. Following a course is very convenient and you will not need most of the other things in this list. But some folks, including me, do not like courses (feels too much like school …). For these, the other items in this list are sufficient: learn some words and phrases, look up some grammar, then start consuming easy real-world content.
  2. Pronunciation. Spanish is said to be among the world's most phonetic languages: If you have the spelling, you can pronounce the word. How to learn the rules for that?
    • Spanish for Dummies: Vowels and Consonants. Two videos with the most concise and understandable presentation of Spanish pronunciation that I could find. Keep listening to them, and you'll know …
    • WordsGalore audio vocabulary. The best way to learn Spanish pronunciation that I could find so far. WordsGalore is a gratis (yet not free) vocabulary trainer software with the special feature that you can just scroll through its word list very fast, and it will speak the selected Spanish word. This way, I was able to infer the pronunciation rules from the examples in half an hour, while at the same time training pronunciation and memorizing the rules by example rather than in abstract form. See also my post on the WordsGalore installation instructions for Linux.
    • 123teachme.com: Spanish Pronunciation Lessons.
    • Mightyverse. Thousands of native speaker videos for pronouncing words, phrases and short texts. Indeed, watching people speak is another thing than just knowing the rules.
  3. Grammar cheatsheet. What I want is just a 2 page A4 grammar to fix above your monitor when instant messaging, e-mailing or writing in Spanish, and to learn by heart that way. I have not found a good free one, so I created this open content Spanish Grammar Cheatsheet (source here). Corrections to me, please!
  4. 1000 words. Learning the 1000 most frequent words makes you understand 88% of oral Spanish [source]. However: It's no good to learn more than these in list style (it does not work that way). Instead, start learning by example after that – see the other toolkit below. I also found that it makes the most sense to only learn the "production" direction: see the English word, say the Spanish one. It's the difficult direction, but you need it to speak, and it implies the other one. Options where to get the word list, by adequacy:
  5. 250 conversation phrases. Modules of daily conversation, to learn by heart and construct sentences with. Because grammar and single words do not help to create real-life sentences (want a funny illustration? see message 64).
    • Create your own list. I did not find a list that's really about the most useful phrases and sentence modules, so I'm compiling my own and will publish it here.
    • SpanishDict Phrasebook. 8000 phrases already – but the problem is, there's no help narrowing this down to the 250 most relevant ones.
    • WordsGalore: 1100 Spanish-English Phrases. Great list of short sentence building blocks. Gratis but not free.
  6. Desktop vocabulary and phrases trainer. There are several options of course. Here is my list of desktop vocabulary software for Linux, ordered by my own subjective evaluation (the best first):
    • Mnemosyne. Very very nice, free and open source software. You can add sound, images, videos etc. to question and answer sections, and it has a sophisticated algorithm to not waste your time on words you know. There's even an Android application for training; see below. See also my post on installation instructions for Ubuntu 12.04. Vocabulary card files for Spanish words and phrases are available via its old site; I propose to use the following:
    • Parley.A sophisticated vocabulary trainer application for KDE4, free and open source. Includes the option of playing sound files for the pronunciation when doing the flash card testing. Available in the Ubuntu archives. What got on my nerves however was the inefficient way it asked me for words I knew, so I chose Mnemosyne over it. Recommendations of word lists for it:
    • WordsGalore. A gratis (yet not free) software that comes with a vocabulary of the 1000 most frequent Spanish words (it's CC licensed now, see above). I missed a "ask the Spanish word" mode in this. For installation on Linux, see my instructions.
    • KWordQuiz. Also nice. Shares the same XML format with Parley, with a bit less featured interface (like, no lesson grouping for words).
    • granule. Quite nice and usable, including sound file support for pronunciation. However, unlike Parley it seems to be no longer in active development. Version 1.3.0 is available in the Ubuntu archives, but version 1.4.0 is already out.
    • OpenTeacher. I did not test this; yet it seems to have no support for attaching audio files for the word pronunciations.
    • KVocTrain. Vocabulary trainer application for KDE3. I used it in 2000 and contributed the first vocabulary file to it 🙂 Now it is superseded by Parley or KWordQuiz for KDE4.
    • Even more options. A German article listing even more Linux vocabulary trainer applications.
  7. Smartphone vocabulary and phrases trainer. I'd like to have an Android application that I can feed these 1000 words and 250 phrases into, for training in them whenever there's a spot of free time to do so. Proposals, as per my own evaluation:
    1. Mnemogogo and Mnemododo. An Android application and plugin for Mnemosyne (recommended above) to learn the vocabulary and phrases on the phone.
  8. Language basics material. Something to help learn and combine the above pieces. By adequacy:

Practice and Refining Toolkit

Once beyond the basics, I like to learn a language "effortlessly" while using it rather than as a dedicated activity. Here are tools to help with real-world content while refining pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar:

  1. Talk to a native speaker. The most fun and awesome way to learn a language. Either you are really lucky and have a patient native speaker friend. If not, you could go straight for an immersion experience. Or to fiverr.com, where nice native speakers are up for video-teaching you for $5 (for Spanish: uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete … and many more).
  2. Content for practice. Not using a language in daily life makes you forget it again. In my case, I practice English by writing everything in it, but could consume content in Spanish. Just some stuff that I find interesting; only real-world content, no educational resources any more:
    1. Textual content. For example, read Google News in Spanish.
    2. Audio content.
    3. Video content. When using subtitled video content, I found it a good idea to progress from videos with English audio / Spanish subs to those with Spanish audio / English subs to those with Spanish audio / Spanish subs (the latter at first when watching a second time).
      • Of course there are thousands of videos on YouTube, with and without subtitles. You can download the videos for offline use with an open source tool like youtube-dl, and you can download the subtitles with various open source tools.
      • You can watch full movies online with added subtitles, at universalsubtitles.org. You can watch English full movies with Spanish subs and vice versaThey use their free & open source Amara software. It is not clear to me so far if the subtitles themselves are open content (see here vs. here). For offline use, again download the video with youtube-dl and the subtitles from universalsubtitles.org by clicking on the required language in the left-hand list ad selecting the "Download" button. Then play both together, for example in VLC: with the subtitles in SRT, SSA or TTML format, go to "Media -> Open (advanced) …", select your video, and and use the "Use a subtitles file" additional option to add the subtitles.
      • You can download free & open subtitles for movies you own at opensubtitles.org and watch both together (see last paragraph for instructions).
  3. Translator browser plugin. It has to be high-usability. I would suggest it has a mouse over mode that is active when pressing a dedicated modifier (like the Windows key, sitting quite lonely on the Linux machine keyboard here). The translator also should be capable of interlinear translation, displaying the translated words above the original ones in a separate line; that's even more comfortable for texts with lots of new words. By adequacy:
    • Hyper Translate Plugin for Firefox. It translates selected text in a tooltip, whether single words or whole phrases. The most comfortable tool I could find, if you configure it so that it translates single words on double clicks and phrases when selecting them and pressing "Ctrl". Also, this works really fast. However, it seems to me that this plugin (in the version from mid 2012-08) has a huge memory leak, so I have to re-start Firefox from time to time to not run out of RAM. But I have to investigate further if it's really this plugin …
    • Wiktionary and Google Translate Plugin for Firefox. Double-click a word (or for hyperlinked words, use the context menu) to translate it. Also can be configured to use a mouse over mode (using a modifier key), but that mode is not really usable for switching between words to lookup, as the lookup itself is quite slow and the popup closes only when configured so and when the mouse is at least ca. 3 cm from it. Also, this cannot inline-translate whole phrases, so takes more work when not understanding a complete sentence (and you don't want to go for whole-page translation by Google, which is available from this). And what's really a nuisance: it always presents you the translation in the first language in which the word is found in on Wiktionary, with no way to configure lookup priorities. On the upside, the word lookup relies on free & open Wiktionary, the translation tooltip contains much information and is freely styleable.
    • Inline Translator Plugin for Firefox. It translates selected text in a tooltip, whether single words or whole phrases. This relies on the proprietary Bing Translate API, and at least it stopped working because the author's account balance for that service ran out.
    • Easy Google Translate Plugin for Firefox. To be tested.
  4. Audio slowdown browser plugin. Something that can speed down the audio or audiovisual playback by a configurable amount, while keeping the pitch of the voice intact. This should enable you to follow regular speed native speakers' material. There's a speed setting on youtube.com (behind the gear button on all videos), and there's a way to play back with VLC in slower speed in two steps (using the "Arrow Left" key). But this will not keep the voice pitch intact. [TODO – Still to be found.]
  5. Writing assistant. A desktop application both for interactive and non-interactive writing. It should include a grammar checker, spelling checker, accent auto-correction and in-text commands for translating words (like typing "es:occupy", and it converts it to "ocupar").
    • LanguageTool. Open source software for style and grammar checking that is both available as stand-alone and LibreOffice plugin.
    • LibreOffice. For spell checking in non-interactive writing.
  6. Mobile phone dictionary. For Android, as we're about free and open here.
    • QuickDic [here on Google Play]. My current favorite: free and open source, fast, and independent of any Internet connection by offline storage of the dictionaries. It uses Wiktionary data, so has about 40 000 entries.
    • English Spanish Dict.FREE. Gratis but not free; ad-supported with an ad-less pro version available. Also offline, and with the advantage of having 86 000 words.
  7. Extensive online dictionary. Including all the really special and technical words. Should also include pronunciations of the words.
    • SpanishDict Translate. Phrase and word translator, including one million words with very informative output. Gratis but not free.
    • Wiktionary for Spanish. Upside: Free and open. It has ca. 40 000 entries as of 2012-07. Not that many, but a good start.
    • linguee.com. Not to be missed in this context, because it's very useful for exact translation of really special words and phrases. It's based on automatic evaluation of professionally translated texts, like EU laws.
  8. Spanish verb conjugation tool. Options:
  9. Grammar essentials. A ten-page or so short grammar to learn by heart over time. It's not meant to construct sentences (it does not work that way) but to have the basic rules in mind for recognizing them again in real-world examples, thus making the most of the examples you encounter. By adequacy:
  10. Extensive grammar reference. Word of caution on grammars first: open your grammar book only after having made good progress with learning by reading and listening — it will make no sense to you before [source]. There are several out-of-copyright grammars available; you might learn some funny ancient Spanish, but then that's what free and open Spanish sounds like 😉 The following recommendations are mostly from Google Books; they are available as downloadable PDF, but then lack the searchable text from Google's online version. But since it's public domain material, we could add it and re-publish. By adequacy:

 Background Tools and Resources

Standards for v-belt profiles

Basically, there are these groups of v-belt and other belt profiles in use in Europe today:

  • conventional or classic v-belts (German “klassische Keilriemen”): standardized in DIN 2215 / ISO 4184; using one-letter profile names in different sizes (Z, A, B, C, D, E), in many cases the profile is also named by its width in millimeters (10, 13, 17, 22, 32, 40).
  • narrow-profile v-belts (German “Schmalkeilriemen”): standardized in DIN 7753 Part 1 / ISO 4184; using SP profile names in different sizes (SPZ, SPA, SPB, SPC). Probably, “SP” stands for German “Schmalprofil” (“narrow profile”).
  • high-performance narrow-profile v-belts, open shoulder, toothed (German: “Hochleistungs-Schmalkeilriemen – flankenoffen, formgezahnt”): standardized in Europe in DIN 7753 Part 1; using XP… profile names in different sizes (XPZ, XPA, XPB, XPC).
  • wide-profile v-belts (German “Breitkeilriemen”, “Variatorriemen”): standardized in DIN 7719 / ISO 1604.
  • flat belts (German “Flachriemen”): used in different applications such as tangential belts, folding and conveyor belts and machine belts [source]. There seems to be no widely accepted standardization in this area, they are named by the measures of their rectangular cross-section.
  • round belts (German “Rundriemen): mostly used for conveying and driving tasks in mechanical engineering.
  • ribbed v-belts (German “Rippenriemen”, “Mehrrippenriemen”): in cross-section similar to flat belts, just that the bottom looks like multiple little v-belts running in parallel. Used for example in several modern vehicles.

For a short description of the different types, see HUG-Technik on Keilriemen [German]; for a more detailed introduction, read tedata.com on v-belts. For an overview about DIN and ISO standards relevant for v-belts and similar devices, see HUG-Technik on important standards for belts [German]. See also the English Wikipedia on mechanical belts and the German Wikipedia on v-belts; though both of them lack extensive information on belt specs yet.

The DIN and ISO standards cited above are used in Europe; in the US, the standard RMA/MPTA (and in the UK, BS 3790) specifies minimally different but overall compatible profiles with other profile names. [source]

Standards for v-belt length

Length conversion table. A very important tool to work with belt specs is a v-belt conversion table. That’s because the type of length for nominal length (the length to give when specifying a belt) is different for the different types of belts (for example, it is “inner length Li” for classic v-belts – also the only error in the v-belt  conversion table linked above).

Li, Lw, La. For every v-belt, one can give three lengths: inner length Li, effective length Lw and outer length La. These abbreviations are derived from German words “Innenlänge”, “Wirklänge” and “Außenlänge” respectively and might only be in use in Germany. Inner and outer length are the inner resp. outer circumference measure of the v-belt, without any linear tension on the belt and in circular shape. Effective length is a fictive median length of a v-belt that is the circumference at a certain depth of the belt profile. Namely, at a depth that has the “effective width” (German “Richtbreite”), for which see the corresponding column in the v-belt conversion table. Lw is used as the nominal length of belts with profiles SP*, XP* and X*. Synonymous to Lw, some manufacturers use Ld or Lp. [source]

Belt number. For classical v-belts, there is another identification system in addition to the “20 x 3500 Li” type: the belt number (German “Riemen-Nr.”). It consists of the normal profile size designation letter and a number that normally corresponds to the inner length in inches (rounded, where necessary); for example, “Z 22” or “D 150”. [source] A list of these numbers can be found on this v-belt index.

Measuring v-belt profiles

Real-life examples of measurements – all values below are measured with light touch of the caliper:

  • height of v-belts
    • nominal 10 mm; measured 9.3 – 9.7 mm (in convex curves, 9.8 mm)
  • width of v-belts
    • nominal 12.5 mm; measured 12.3 – 12.4 mm

Measuring v-belt lengths

Measuring v-belt length Lw. It is usually proposed to measure a v-belt by cutting it and nailing it flat to a board [source]. However, this is not what you want if you need to determine the size of a new v-belt that has lost its labelling. So here is a different procedure that I developed and tested successfully:

  1. Mark a line on your flat, hard floor by taping 2 measuring sticks to it, and also tape an end stop marker like a flat wood piece to the start of the first stick.
  2. Add a small cable tie around the v-belt to be measured and use that for marking the start and aligning it to the start marker you taped to the ground.
  3. Roll your v-belt on the ground along the measuring sticks until you went one full circle.
  4. Take the measure and interpret it as effective length Lw of the v-belt (which it is, approximately).

You could do two or three measurements and take the average, but this seems not necessary as this kind of measuring, properly executed, has repeatable results that are up to 1 mm exact. In contrast, measuring with a flexible measuring tape while holding the v-belt in your hands is not recommended, because the results are less exact (my experience: repeated measurement of a single belt resulted in 3505 mm Lw and 3520 mm Lw, while the result with the roll-on-floor technique was 3522 mm Lw). When measuring while holding the belt in your hand you have to take special care not to bend it during measuring, as bending will increase the measurement more towards La; for the above example, measuring with light bending increased the measurement to 3533 mm Lw while it should have been 3522 mm Lw).

It is said that the measure taken by this procedure is the “median length” of the v-belt [source], though “median” here it is probably not meant in the mathematical sense of “length at a profile height where half of the profile area is above and half is below that height”. In practice, these measurements are said to be a good enough approximation of the effective length Lw. While it is a good enough approximate, my tests suggest that the length measured this way also depends on the properties of the belt build-up, so is not always the average, median or whatever length that could be generically specified. The measurement is for “something between inner and outer length”; exactly which mostly depends on how the belt is built, namely, how far to the outside the pull-resistant strings are located. Because, these seem to work like a hinge when bending or unbending the belt, affecting the depth of the area on each side that gets either compressed (so, shortened) or pulled on (so, lengthened). These fibres are normally located right below the upper edge of the belt, so the measure is normally more towards the outer length than the Lw measure is.

Measuring v-belt length La. It is said that one can do that by placing the belt in circular shape on a flat surface and placing a flexible measuring tape around it [source]. However in practice, this is hard to do as you need some tension on the tape to not measure too much. It works well when the velt is still mounted, though.

Determining Lw without a belt. In case you have a device needing a belt but don’t know which one, place a rope around the belt path that has approx. the thickness of the pulley profile grooves. Mark the length of rope you need, take it out again and measure that length when laying it straight on flat ground. This is a  good approximate for the effective length Lw of a fitting belt. (As an alternative, there is a formula to calculate this from La or Li, and online calculators for that.)

Various experiences with measuring v-belts

  • At times, some v-belts seem to use the wrong signing schema. One belt had the classic profile, so the signing of “20 x 3550” was to be interpreted as Li = 3550 mm. However, all measurements turned out with Lw = 3522 mm, so an even larger measure of 3550 mm can only be La, not Li. The formula produces a result coherent with this: La = Lw + 31 mm = 3522 mm + 31 mm = 3553 mm. Another, quite old belt from Continental was SPA profile so should be labelled with Lw, yet the label said “12,5 x 1200 La“.
  • Amount of difference between measured flat length and Lw. In one case, a classic 20 x 2000 mm Li belt was measured with 2060 mm flat length. Lw according to the formula is Lw = Li + 48 mm = 2048 mm Lw. The difference of 12 mm is quite small and probably comes from the fact that the pull-resistant fibres are not exactly located at the diameter corresponding to Lw; see above.
  • Different formulas for converting to / from Lw. Interestingly, there seems to be at times a slight divergence of what formula is to be used for converting from effective length Lw to Li and La. For example, this v-belt conversion table and basically all other such conversion tables on the web state for a 17 mm wide classical v-belt: Lw = Li + 40. However, one 17 mm classical v-belt belt was found with an inscription saying “PETER-BTR 17 x 1320 Li / 1363 Lw”, corresponding to Lw = Li + 43.

Storing v-belts correctly

It is said that v-belts are normally built by manufacturers to reach a lab runtime of 25 000 hours [source]. If this is reached in practice also depends on proper storage conditions.

If properly stored, v-belt properties do not change for several years. However, most rubber-based products will deteriorate if improperly stored or handled (like being exposed to oxygen, ozone, extreme temperatures, light, humidity or various solvent agents). [source]

Therefore, the storage location should be dry and dust-free and must not contain chemicals, oils or solvents at the same time. V-belts should be stored without any force on them (pressure or pulling force) to avoid any permanent shape changes and other damaged. This also means that they should only be stored in hanging condition if the hanger pin is at least ten times the height of the belt profile. Additional maintenance hints for rubber products are found in DIN 7716. [source]

I found what really brings the world forward: perseverance resp. aggregation. This can be aggregation of knowledge, of tools etc.. Everything large or powerful is something aggregated that has been developed in many years. The whole technological culture of humanity is actually something that was aggregated over thousands of years.

Aggregation is actually much more important then ingenuity; or even, ingenuity is in many cases the result of unhindered intellectual aggregation, in the sense of being something acquired by people who have the desire and possibilities to always learn something new in a certain area.

So for a society it is much more important to create infrastructure etc. taht fosters unhindered aggregation (which includes collaboration, synergy etc.), than to invest in supporting the “highly gifted” people. The same applies to personal life: there are only very few occasions where an ingenious idea or even a decision makes a big difference; the most part is work, and work is only fruitful if teh results can aggregate to something good for one personally.

You might have realized my increased interest in resilient communities and all the autarkic technology that they need. Why is this? Of course it is a viable (any my personal) answer to the current financial crisis and generally to the dangers of globalization. But it is also more. Here is a wild and quite unordered list of reasons why I like the “autarkic resilient community” idea:

  • Earning bread, not money. Autarky is about, I want to earn my own bread, not money. That’s the most free style of working, when you create what you need, being neither dependent on others for creating nor consuming. With money, you depend on others for that both.
  • Leaving personal exploitation. It is also my personal way and tool to get out of exploitable dependencies. Totally out. It is the hard-hitting, full-scale, quite extreme solution to that problem. After I met with exploitation in various ways in my few years of adult experience, I do no longer want anybody to do anything like that to me. In effect this means, I do not want anybody “above” or “below” in any kind of hierarchy, as all these relationships can draw resources to the degree of exploitation. The “theoretical optimum” would be personal autarky, with the ability to help all the people around (which would also meet ones social needs). However, this is technically impossible, and still quite lonely: the feeling of being cared for is actually also a good experience. So interdependence is o.k. and desirable, where this means peer-to-peer relationships where no partner can (or will) exploit the other. Like the people within one resilient community, who are able to trust each other. And also like multiple resilient communities, supporting each other, but being fully able to immediately stand on their own if there is the need for it.
    I must admit that this solution to cope with unrighteousness (esp. exploitation, see above) is not really a solution: it is just avoiding to meet with unrighteousness. This is because I see no meaning in coping with or fighting unrighteousness, because it should simply not exist. Being able to successfully fight against unrighteousness is a qualification one would not need in the “ideal world”, so there is better stuff to learn. But that is my view of things. Also, I still think that one should be able to clearly communicate to people that what they do is unrighteous, so that they have a chance to repent and undo what they did; but investing more energy and resources to actually fight back is beyond what I think is meaningful. Instead of that, I better want to invest my energy and resources into developing a parallel, resilient “new world”, where righteousness lives. (To be clear: this is not blasphemy, it is irony. Righteousness lives with God in Heaven alone, but in a very limited sense one could apply it to resilient communities that are able to exclude unrighteousness by reorganizing themselves, through resilience.)
  • A give-based society. This is another personal reason for this autarky thing: I tried to live “according to the moral standards of the New Testament” in my life up to now, which is in essence: to love your neighbor as you love yourself. But it did not work out: “the system” exploited my graciousness, just as people exploit the grace of God. Because “the system” is all about taking, while NT is all about giving; both systems work (and the NT system is much more pleasure to live in), but not if they do mix with each other (then the NT part is worst of all). Which means, God has to find a place for me now … as I still hate the “taking-based system” of capital / wealth / rights aggregation in economic and personal life, and love the “NT system”, the NT standard of love, but find it impossible to live it out in a world of exploitation and hard, exploiting competition. I think the autarkic community thing can be that kind of place for me.
  • Exploitation-free society. I do not exploit, so I do not want to be exploited. It’s akin to anarchism. As people and institutions are unwilling to respect that, I will move out of all their systems. That’s the background of autarkic communities. Among the expolitation-prone relationships to replace are: institutionalized health insurance; the whole “free market economy” thing where every contract is basically exploitable by the other party; large nation states with all their inefficiency and very limited participation options in parliamentary democracy; intellectual property industries; landlords; commercial products; and so on, and so on.
  • The philantropic component. Ah, and yet another thing. Though I have to admit a deep frustration about the “state of the world” and esp. about the business world, and though I seek total independence from peple now, my philantropic, visionary strain did not vanish. This autarky project is not just about autarky for myself, but at the same time about inventing and providing the necessary tools to everybody, so that people can start their own autarky from scratch.
  • A Robinsonade. Still another thing: It is quite interesting that my enthusiasm about autarky started already in my childhood, me writing the story “Primitive Lage” (primitive state) at the age of 12-14 (?), which was kind of a Robinsonade.
  • Against the moral dilemma of inhumane globalized production. And again, another reason: autarky solves the moral dilemma of globalization, namely, that it is not meaningfully possible (except perhaps for the rich) to not buy all the products that have been produced in inhumane conditions somewhere overseas.
  • Ad-free society. And still another advantage: in autarky-based economy, advertisement is unnecessary. Which will add to the efficiency and profitability of this mode of economy, as advertising is simply waste of resources (time, money, energy … everything). Because it is a pull-based economy: people search for the design they need, and then produce it themselves.
  • On not needing large systems. Autarky-based economy and autarky-based society is the discovery that any large-scale system (political, economic, technical) is unnecessary. Which introduces simplicity, as all these large-scale systems are unmanageable, or nearly that, and a good percentage of the population is busy with steering them (using statistics, controlling, business administration, politics and the like). People in the autarky movement have the right to be no longer interested in steering large-scale systems, and to not search for solutions to their problems (“the global problems”).
  • Solving over-population. In autarky-based society, there is not even a problem of global over-population, because of the following emergence: an autarky community will take care to get no bigger in numbers than the amount of people it can feed sustainably (and also in times of crop failure).
  • It’s about small-scale socialism. Autarky-based communities are actually socialism. But small-scale, and that makes the difference. Large-scale socialism cannot work because there is a large free rider and inefficiency problem: large systems are hierarchical, and those higher in hierarchy can always be free riders, as those below have no influence options and also there are no market forces that hinder managers from being too much of a free rider. In small-scale socialism however, every inefficiency and free riding hurts everybody, and as there is no need for hierarchy, there can be effective governance to tackle inefficiency and free riding.
  • It’s Marx minus utopies. The Marxist interpretation of this new autarky movement would probably be that the means of production are now returned to the hands of the people. But contrary to Marx, whose image of humanity was flawed by optimistic utopism, the autarky movement includes precautions to be resilient against the inherent evil of the human being: the means of production are not returned “to the people” as a whole, but to small communities who use them only for themselves (with very limited external trade). Without a central market and central governance, there can be no centralized exploitation (as in real socialism), autarky communities can only fall one at a time. There is no point in using the means of production in any centralized (large scale) way, as this just elicits centralism and centralized exploitation again.
  • Against institutionalized politics. The governance of an autarky community is the governance of a small-scale society: one needs to employ principles learned in friendships, marriage, partnerships, tribes and villages; not those form any kind of larger society where any degree of anonymity exists. Because the examples of small-scale societies mentioned before can be stable, by our experience, so can be the autarky community. And yet: autarkic communities (at least the ones with software governance) are the grassroots approach to pose an end to the system of “politics”. Where the definition of politics is that it is about power: about getting ones chosen way done, not about choosing the right or best way. Only in small-scale entities, where problems are small-scale and therefore understandable and solvable, opinions and therefore politics can be avoided. So it should be done in these small-scale autarkic communities.
  • A mistrust against centralized systems. Main reason for establishing an autarkic community is because I do not trust any centralized systemt to be able to create and maintain adequate living conditions for people.
  • Liberal or social? By the way, is the concept of autarkic communities a (neo-)liberalist or a socialist idea? None of it, and both of it. It is totally liberalist regarding its relation to the state, by not needing the state for anything any more (dear state, if you read this: this does not mean that I intend to do anything against the state; it’s just not needed). And it is totally socialist regarding its inner relations, by needing the other members of the community for everything, by implementing “small-scale communism” within such a group. It seems that the sum of liberalism and socialism in any culture has to be the same for the culture to work; but the distribution can be chosen. So either the “public society” can be mainly socialist, allowing the “private life” to be liberalist / individualistic. Or vice versa (as in the case of autarkic communities). Or a mixed variants in various degrees (as in the case of most Western societies).
  • Biblical support? By forcing things a little, one can even find Biblical support for the autarky / autarkic community idea:  Rom 13:8; I Thess 4:10-12; Acts 2:44-45.
  • Easier to build and maintain than a state. More reasons why to prefer the autarkic lawless system to the large-state law system: it needs less effort to build, while it needs a large movement to change a state, and a large movement to keep it in order, means one community cannot guarantee it. Whenever you cannot maintain or uphold something, you need to let it down because it is a waste of resources. Means you need to let down society with all its problems and questions to go managing the small community, which is manageable.
  • It’s simpler in small societies. Things that will no longer be necessary when moving to autarky-based economy include: Customs duty, and all entailed administration. Because autarkic economy has the intrinsic motivation to not buy essential goods, there is no danger to come into unhealthy dependencies by trade (which just adds luxury items), so trade needs not be regulated.
  • Work as fun and fulfilling. It is true (esp. in the first time) that there is much less luxury and leisure time in an autarkic community. There would be also no commercial entertainment available like videos and music (apart from the vast amount of cost-free stuff on the Internet). And also, people will have to work more. All this is no problem, however, as work is fun and meaningful and fulfilling now. There is simply no need for entertainment, leisure time and luxury if people like their work, think it is meaningful and have enough social fun in an unstressed working condition as to not need leisure time or entertainment. People will value their work to be meaningful because they do create the essential things for themselves, and help the world to do the same – while work for luxury and pseudo-products (like McDonalds food …) is not meaningful because it is avoidable.
    If you want a book to look up more on this: Jerry Mander (Ed.), Edward Goldsmith (Ed.): The Case Against the Global Economy: And for a Turn Toward the Local [here on Amazon]. There is also an excerpt chapter on Indian local economy (swadeshi).
  • The right to use ones full potential. In my view, the “right to use ones full potential, for the good of oneself and of all” should be a fundamental right in society. But it is not, because the unemployed people are not allowed to use their full potential, as no corresponding counter-value is offered to them (by means of a job, or other means) that would allow them to use their potential for the good of theirselves. They could, however, use their potential for volunteering, for the good of all; but a part of the fundamental right proposed above is also to use ones potential for oneself. Because if volunteering is the only option, it is not voluntary, it is collective slavery.
    Now there is no such right in Germany: GG Art. 2 (1) allows to use ones full potential if it does not hurt the “rights of others”, and others have the right to not offer somebody a job – which is the problem of the unemployed. GG Art. 12 (1) allows to choose ones job freely; but does not guarantee the option to choose.
    GG Art. 2 (1): Jeder hat das Recht auf die freie Entfaltung seiner Persönlichkeit, soweit er nicht die Rechte anderer verletzt und nicht gegen die verfassungsmäßige Ordnung oder das Sittengesetz verstößt.
    GG Art. 12 (1): Alle Deutschen haben das Recht, Beruf, Arbeitsplatz und Ausbildungsstätte frei zu wählen.
    Now, what would an autarkic community improve here: by being autarkic (independent of the job market), it allows everybody to use his / her potential, for the good of theirselves and others. Society should at least guarantee to found autarkic communities for the unemployed, so that they can use their time and power to their potential. There are “education” and “occupation” programs for the unemployed, but these are currently just “1 EUR jobs”, which is far from a counter-value for using the “full potential” of time and power.
  • Replacing bad rules. This society has “bad rules”, so I do not want to get socialized into it, instead I want to found my own. The bad rules are the excessive protection of properties by the forces of the state: while the rich get richer, the poor not even get something to help themselves out of being poor. They get subsistence fees. But let’s not miss the exceptions where the state indeed tries to help people realize their full potential, like the EXIST program.
  • The advantage of deliberate societies. Autarkic societies are about deliberate societies: the thesis is that a society that can select its members will work better than one that needs to include everybody just because he / she got born there. This is not about elitism, but about being able to abandon people who do not obey the “social contract” of a society.
  • Eliminating resource conversion friction loss. Also, autarkic community is about eliminating the huge amount of loss (“friction loss”) that happens both when converting personal resources (knowledge, qualifications, tools and time) into money, and money back into personal resources (products and services obtained). This loss is due to many reasons: the state captures near 50% of resources in one full such cycle; there is maximized commercial gain of the supplier parties involved; one might not be happy enough to have customers whi pay good in timely fashion, or even can pay good; and one might not even be happy enough to be able to convert ones resources to money at all (called unemployment, which is a problem in the socioeconomic system, not a necessity of the physical world). In addition, the rich and powerful people succeed to make this system work at a surplus for them, even increasing the loss that the other contributors have to bear in this resource-to-money-and-back cycle, and leading to unhealthy concentrations of power and money.
  • Post-scarcity economics. When it comes to autarkic / sovereign / resilient communities, people often talk about “post scarcity” economy. This does not mean to exploit nature (or fellow humans) even more so that one personally has no scarcity any longer; as this is what people try nowadays, and it creates all sorts of wars and problems. Post-scarcity is about adapting ones choice and use of resources so that the supply is abundant relative to ones use. Then, people can stop fighting against nature and fellow creatures, because there is nothing any more to struggle about. The choice of resources to use would then include all the abundant and the renewable resources of nature: water, air, soil (silicium), aluminium, sun energy, wind, wood, … . Behind the open design idea is the conviction that humanity is depraved of much potential well-being because institutions keep back their designs as secrets, instead of publishing them for all to see and use. read more on that “scarcity economics” background of capitalism.