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Understanding Greek Water Bills, Or Not
Here’s something that proves you can’t take Greek at face value. A water bill was accompanied by an official letter from the water department. I got the gist of it, but thought it would be fun to write it down, word for word, exactly as it was written. Well I’m not taking water here, I love the Greek language and the letter was written quite correctly. What I wanted to do was do an exercise on how one language literally translates to another if you use a dictionary, instead of just reading it and absorbing what the writing says.
Keep in mind that in Greek, as in many languages I suppose, certain words have many different meanings and you need to use them in context. When a word had more than one meaning, I chose the most appropriate, or rather the least inappropriate. I also put the words in their literal order rather than moving them to where they would be if we were translating into English. This is how you can see how sentence construction is different between the two languages.
Here is how my dictionary and I translated the text:
“After the plumber’s suggestion and our investigation, it was confirmed that yours water meter was in such a place where sitting impossible the meter reader towards yours absent. You ask us to place the water meter yours to such an extent (outside the house yours) so that it can still happen reading the mark and towards the absence yours…. [no idea – word not in my dictionary] bills and meter reader will occur regularly and will not accumulate ‘necessity’. For more information, ask the appropriate local plumber or call 22460…”
It’s understood? Basically, we were all told to move our water meters from inside the yard to the street so readings could be taken regularly. Ours was moved a few weeks before receiving the letter so we are on the right books and our invoice is finally up to date.
Here is the full story:
Originally the meter was in our downstairs entrance hall and we were never there when the man came to read it. So we put a wire on our front door so it could be opened without a key and anyone could come in whenever they wanted or needed. Do you remember this English lifestyle around 1949? This simple arrangement, however, seemed to put the water man off and he never figured out how to get in. It always confuses the electric meter reader because our bills seem to be calculated by thinking of a number between one and ten, multiplying it by Pi, dividing it by the age of someone’s mother-in-law, adding 6% tax for fun, deducting 6% for no explainable reason and adding a zero.
Back to the water bill. There are a few bills, it was clear the meter had not been read – €8.00 for three months in the summer? I do not think so. So when I went to pay it I told the helpful guy at town hall what the current reading was. He accepted the idea of someone wanting to be honest about his water usage, but when I asked him to adjust the next bill up accordingly, he seemed slightly bewildered. He called for help from another helpful official. She, having paled somewhat at my request to be billed correctly, took note of the reading. We all agreed that the next invoice would more accurately reflect the correct price.
The next bill arrived in due time and was again estimated at €8.00, so I did the same again, going back down to the town hall. This time there was a different, helpful young lady on duty and she asked me if I wanted her to calculate the actual cost on the spot. I could pay for it all now… but only if I really wanted to. ‘You do not have to. I will not do it. Nobody ever does. It was my turn to be stunned and in shock I decided to pay next time when the bill showed the exact amount.
It is estimated at €8.00.
Finally, thanks to moving the meter outside, we are the proud owners of an up-to-date bill that literally breaks down into:
Water value 69 mx3, 49.20 € – It seems logical to me
Final value of the thing done €39.36 – Suppose the meter is moved (20% covered by the Town Hall)
Fixed final value €2.99 – Assume a fixed football match
Tax (6%) €2.95 – Supposes to reimburse part of the €9.80 paid by the town hall to move our meter
Tax (13%) €5.51 – That’s the bit that adds up for fun
Round (something) of the €0.24 bill – No idea where that 24 cents went
Procedural difference €0.23 – Neither what this bit means
But what I am sure of is that our bill was then rounded up to 48 cents which cost us €100 including moving the meter. Which makes our annual water bill (and you’d be surprised how many people ask what our annual water bill is) about €120, or just under seven pounds a month for two people in a two bedroom house with garden, washing machine, bath, shower etc. (This was written a few years ago).
I’m going to stop scrubbing it now and go and happily water the garden.
In fact, I won’t, because we’re saving water, not because of the cost. There has been little rain this winter and the reservoirs are already low. So remember, when you come to Symi, stand in a big bowl when you shower; use this water for the toilet or mop outdoors with it; put dishwater on the garden; if you need to flush, only flush when you really need to; turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or shaving; while the shower is warming up, run the water into a bucket for later use; place the washing machine drain hose in a (large) bucket and use it in the garden, floors, etc. ; do large wash loads rather than many small ones; save rainwater where and when you can and be sure to turn off the taps. Oh, and in the winter, only shave and shower once a month and only if you need to.
In fact, you should do all of this wherever you live to help the planet in general. OK, I’m really going now. I just got a letter from the electric company that is starting; “As for the yarn that belongs to you on the doors that belong to you…”
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