In this series, I write about orators who made a huge impression on me. Here is how I met Augustinus Heinrich Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck.
Augustinus Henckel von Donnersmarck remains unforgettable. The first time I met him was at a meeting for ICL (International Computer Limited) customers. As opposed to Augustinus Heinrich Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck, ICL features rather poorly in the German Wikipedia version. Meant as a “thank you” gesture for customers and partners, we were invited to the “Hessischer Hof” in Wiesbaden. I owed my invitation to our very enjoyable and successful co-operation. In those days, ICL was a huge success in England, while it was more of a backbencher in Germany. That must have been at least ten years ago.

Among other items, ICL also sold two Unix lines, one Intel line and one Risc line. Incidentally, the ICL manager in Germany (I think his name was Herr Olschewski ?) was proud of having a very reliable customer basis and of never having written “red tape”. Regardless, ICL was taken over by Fujitsu shortly afterwards and then merged with FSC – which also will soon cease to exist. Interestingly, at one time (much earlier), there had also been an attempt at founding a CII (Compagnie Internationale Informatique), as far as I know also with BULL and ICL, but that was soon liquidated. Instead, Siemens and Nixdorf merged into SNI, which later led to FSC.
mehr »

Roland Dürre
Thursday February 26th, 2009

RMD – My Travel Journal – Thursday

From Amalfi to Napoli

Upon waking up this morning, we opened our shutters. The lady at reception had promised an excellent “sea view” and this was definitely delivered. We had a wonderful view onto the harbour, coast and the Mediterranean Sea, accompanied by splendid sunshine and no more wind. In short: a biker’s dream. After breakfast, we pedalled away at good speed. After riding another 6 kilometres on our “dream street”, which was even nicer than yesterday, we made a sharp left turn. Shortly before Maiori, we went uphill, through Tramonti to Corbara. Our final destination was Pompei on the opposite side of the mountain.

The pass is 650 metres above sea level, which means it is about 100 metres higher than Munich. Cars were required to have snow chains on board (being cyclists, we did not have any on us), and the salt on the road over the pass had been strewn even more generously than in Ottobrunn (although there was no snow to be seen anywhere). We were rewarded for the uphill struggle by a beautiful decline down into the valley. On the way to Pompei, we got lost, but we still managed to arrive in Pompei at 2 p.m.. We spent two hours on the ancient streets of Pompei, wondering all the time how people might have lived there some 2,000 years ago. Living there certainly was no picnic in those days. I guess people had to be pretty tough. Especially if you had the bad luck to belong to the slave population, you probably had nothing to laugh about. Just think of all those gigantic cobbles for the roads. Someone had to bring them.
At 4 p.m. it was time to say good-bye to Pompei. We wanted to be back in our room in the Bella Capri (which we had made a reservation for by telephone) in good time. I have never seen anything like the way back from Pompei to Naples and then through Naples to the harbour, where the “Bella Capri” is situated. Bumper to bumper, chaotic conditions on the streets. It felt like India, and then there were cobbles almost all the way (easily 20 kilometres) to boot. It was so bad it came out the other end and turned good again. Shortly before 7 p.m., we arrived at the “Bella Capri”, took the bikes upstairs to the 6th floor, and went to dinner – which was again a dream. For the statistics: this last day, we rode about 70 kilometres, with lots of hilly terrain and plenty of cobbles.

Tomorrow, we go from Naples to Rome by train, and then, at 7 p.m. back to Munich in the sleeping compartment (arrival time in Munich: 6:30 a.m.). Another beautiful trip is over. The week was short, because we had to finish when we were just into the spirit. But as we all know: you should always end when the going is best. That is what we do. I can only warmly recommend trying the trip yourself! As Seneca says: The reason why we do not dare trying out things is not because they are difficult – they are difficult, because we never try. And a trip by bike from Rome to Naples and the surrounding country is absolutely not something difficult – take my word for it.

This is how I close my second travel journal. I look forward to my next trip.

(translated by EG) mehr »

mehr »

Roland Dürre
Wednesday February 25th, 2009

(Deutsch) Vertrauen 5 von Ulf Posé in IF-Blog

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Our Fifth Day: A Morning in Sorrento

Yesterday night’s dinner was top quality. The Ristorante la favorita in Sorrento, CSO Italia 23, is truly a temple of high Italian culinary culture. In the high-ceilinged rooms, we enjoyed a royal feast, a collective orgasm. This is how carnival is fun.

Today is Ash Wednesday. When we were children, we always had to go to church on Ash Wednesday mornings and a cross of ash was drawn on our forehead. The message I read in this was: now the fun is over. That is why we were always a little sad when carnival season was over.
Even as a child, the symbolism of the ash had nothing suppressing for me, because I knew from early on that my life had started with birth, so consequently dying would have to be the end some day. It is the same as with computer programs: you get a syntax error if you „begin“ without „end“, and open brackets of any kind „(, [, { or <“ must be closed again.

Regardless of this, Ash Wednesday still makes me thoughtful. On our wonderful journey, I see many rotten things. We passed large, no-longer-busy industrial areas and agricultural facilities that were in desolate condition. Though beautifully situated, some hotels, restaurants, holiday facilities and apartments, but also common houses, looked like ruins. Along the way, we also saw demolished garages, service stations, wharves and many corroded ships. I am sure that all these objects celebrated their maiden initiation with great festivities and did their duties for many years. But, just as do we biological creatures, enterprises and firms in the world of industry also come and go.

Some of the corroded objects still had “for sale” signs. Occasionally the biker is tempted to buy a particularly nice hotel ruin in order to revive it. However, the first cost calculation shows clearly that this kind of thing will not pay. In the Italian industry, too, the economy only seems to work well when a family has been working it for many years. A family who nurtured the property over generations and lives off it more or less well.
Even during this beautiful vacation, looking at all those ruins, I remember the current economical and financial world-wide crisis. I never saw ruins of banks or insurance buildings on this trip. They always managed somehow. Personally, I hold industry, agriculture and commerce to be more important for the fulfilment of my primary needs. So far, I never found a good meal or a bed in an insurance building or bank. But as we all know, banks and insurances enjoy a very special esteem.

Over the last two decades, banks and insurance companies helped each other to reach the top through incestuous behaviour. They made huge profits without creating a productive surplus value. It is only a logical consequence that now the time of reckoning has come. The accumulated profits are now visible as losses, because the central terms “debit and credit, active and passive” are as important in accounting as “begin” and “end” are in programming. And hot air remains hot air, even if “asset financed”.
The profits made by the banks were privatized and consumed. But now everybody calls for socializing the losses through more federal credit. However, this is not going to work. Ten to twenty years from now, the bikers will also pass ruins of bank and insurance buildings, and, unfortunately, also ruins of federal institution buildings …

So much about my thoughts on Ash Wednesday. Barbara and me, however, will think nicer thoughts today, because the sun shines over Italy on Ash Wednesday, too. We start pedalling towards Amalfi on the very famous road from Sorrento to Amalfi …

(translated by EG)

mehr »

Our Forth Day: From Naples to Sorrento

On Carnival Tuesday, we were lazy. We ate an ample breakfast in our inexpensive hotel „Bella Capri“ on the 6th floor of a company building quite near the harbour. We had taken the bikes to the room with us, so we had to take them down again in the small lift (vertically, leaning on the front tyre). Using the lift between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. cost 5 cent, while it was free at night.

At 9.30 a.m. we went to Capri by ferry. The distance Naples – Capri is about 50 km as the crow flies. Taking 45 minutes, the ferry must be going more than 60 km per hour when at full speed.

Of course, Capri was absolutely terrific. We even managed to be a bit industrious, after all. We went to Capri Centro by bike, which is around 150 metres uphill. On the summit, we witnessed another carnival event with people wearing fantastic costumes and dancing on stilts and a true carnival brass band playing. By the way, the Capuccino cost 4 Euros and it will only be a question of time until the new entry fee for any drink will be 5 Euros.

We went on to Anticapri (which means high Capri, about 290 metres height difference). The cable railway to the highest mountain on the island was not active, so we went down to the “Blue Grotto”, the GROTTO AZZURRO. A swarm of tourists was just arriving in a big boat. They were all re-loaded into three smaller boats in “packs of five” and steered through the grotto. Initially, we were a little angry about having to wait at the rear of the queue, but when the tourists were all finished, we, too, were allowed our boat-tour through the grotto. And then the boats turned a corner and disappeared. So our bad luck turned into good luck, after all, because the Blue Grotto is truly spectacular, and without those tourists, this attraction would not have happened for us.

What attracted our attention in Capri were the orange-coloured and extremely slim public coaches. They all had numerous bumps on both sides, despite their slim design. The numerous scooters (moped-like moto-trollers) also stood out. I imagine that during high season, when 15,000 visitors come to the island every day, it will be quite crowded and noisy. In February, however, Capri is a place where you can feel comfortable.
We went back to Anticapri by bike (another 290 metres in altitude) and then to the harbour via Capri. The ship departing at 5.15 p.m. brought us back to Sorrento (taking about 20 minutes). The tourist information by the harbour was open and a nice gentleman (Nino) booked us into an excellent hotel, again for 70 Euros!

To be sure, that was only a little more than 20 kilometres today, but at least we climbed about 600 metres in altitude (the way from Sorrento harbour up to Sorrento Centro is also uphill, you go up a beautiful, steep coastal road). Tonight, we are dining Italian and tomorrow the way from Sorrento to Amalfi will again be significantly longer, as well as full of hills to climb up and roll down!

(translated by EG)

mehr »

Tuesday February 24th, 2009

Special Edition: Radio Philosophy #007 – LUST.

Paul McCartney of the Beatles in India,
witnessing two monkeys on the street
as they copulate.
They are so wonderfully uncomplicated,
he is fascinated.
So he decides to write a song:
Why Don’t We Do It In The Road.
Well, why don’t we do it?
The story is:
Lust started to disappear
when evolution invented consciousness.
Then came the church
demanding modesty and morals.
Ever since then, we are ordered to
substitute airplanes for orgasms.
To make the bargain more attractive
Herr Freud called in sublimation.
The mortal blow to lust came
with the slogan in Bild-Zeitung:
Lust-trips sold to those who’re old.
Boy, could we be reeling
on our streets, had we not foolishly
tripped over consciousness.

(translated by Evelyn Gemkow)

Roland Dürre
Monday February 23rd, 2009

RMD – My Travel Journal #23 – Carnival Monday

Our Third Day: From Gaeto to Naples

We had another day of long distance riding. For the first 50 kilometres, we still had rather high traffic, before we turned right and rode in the direction of Pozzuoli along the coast. Here, traffic was less dense, it was more pleasure riding the bikes.

All of a sudden, we were in the middle of Africa for several kilometres – on the streets, almost everybody’s skin colour was black. And again there were many girls leaving us in no doubt what they were offering. We found that rather thought-provoking.

Again, we rode a total of 105 kilometres, but this time the whether remained at its best all day long. The coastal road with the small pass from Pozuoli to Naples being closed because of a landslide, we had to turn around and ride through the tunnel on the main road. What a tunnel! It is as high as a cathedral. In Naples, we finally found a hotel (Bella Capri – a back packer hotel). Now I am sitting here and finishing my journal of travels for the day – albeit not before having relished another delicious meal with special Napolitan cakes for dessert.

Let me give you an idea of the costs: the ticket Munich – Rome in the double compartment was 500 Euros. Staying overnight was 70 Euros for the fist two nights, and only 60 Euros in Naples. Lunch and dinner was always less than 40 Euros – including wine and water. Tomorrow, we are going by ferry, and then comes the trip from Salerno back to Rome on Friday. As you can see, it adds up. It is quite possible that flying to Tuneais and staying in an “all inclusive” hotel might have been significantly less expensive. But this is somehow nicer, the adventures are more numerous and more intense than they look on paper.

And about the streets: yes, there are many cars in Italy and the Italians always seem to be going somewhere. But if you want to go from Rome to Naples by bike, there is hardly an alternative. We saw many cobbled streets and “mended” roads. Sometimes it feels really bumpy. And if you are riding on the right side of the street, you have to be careful. Since the embankments are rather “unstable”, it can easily happen that you accidentally slip down 20 cm or more – which would probably meant you could not avoid falling from the bike and hurting yourself.

About the hotels: everything is clean and the hosts are all friendly. What is more: all rooms have floors made of tiles or granite – never carpets (I hate the carpets in German hotels)!

Well, now that we have survived the way from Rome to Naples, we are spending the evening in Naples, where the small motorbikes seem to be rolling through all the small and colourfully illuminated alleys. All those altars, all this busy night-life on the streets … it definitely has its charms.

I am content and a little proud to have managed the roughly 280 kilometres from Rome to Naples in a speed that was rather steep for me. Tomorrow morning, we first go to Capri by ship and then on to Sorrentino. So soll es sein, so kann es bleiben!

(translated be EG) mehr »

Our Second Day: From Anzio to Gaeto

Nice weather, one thermometer we saw showed 17 degrees Celsius. For more than 105 kilometres, we ride through beautiful scenery, one place is more picturesque than the next. Luckily, there is even less traffic as we roll on. Making up for this, more and more cyclists can be seen, both alone and in groups. Sometimes we see 20 or 30 cyclists at a time, often uniformly dressed in loud colours and riding on racing bikes at a hellish speed. We give and receive a friendly “salve”. Later there are also some motorbikes. Off the roads, we see wreaths with pictures and crosses. The three small oranges we bought last night taste delicious as a second breakfast.

Then we continue rolling south along a flat road with only geographical variation in altitude. To the right is the sea, to the left lagoons, a small dam through the water. We see a nuclear power plant and ride along the fences of a huge military area.

In between, the road gets sandy. At the Ristorante Il Pirata on the Via Pontina Km 105 in Porto Badino, we eat an excellent lunch: seafood aperitifs, delicious spaghetti, and gnocci. The half-litre of local wine (a dream) and the final espresso taste like sin. Then we turn south again. Streets are wet, so it must have rained recently.

In Speronga the sun is shining. We indulge in another portion of ice-cream on this trip. Again, it tastes sensational. The ice-cream alone would be enough to make it worthy of a trip by bike through Italy. Now comes the last leg of the day, because we want to spend the night in Gaeto.
Suddenly dark clouds appear on the horizon. And then it rains. First just a little, then more and more, sometimes with little icicles mixed in. We can still see the brilliant sun shining et the edge of the clouds. The hotels along the road are all closed, so we have to keep a stiff upper lip and just go on for some uphill and downhill stretches interspersed with a few tunnels. And then it lies before us – Gaeto.

By now being quite wet, we ride down and ask a gentleman with a dog if he knows a hotel that is open. He does and describes the way to the nearby three-star “Flamingo”. Straight on until “ultimo” and then turn right. We find it without a problem. The GPS shows 106 kilometres. It never counted the way underneath the tunnels. We enter the hotel, shed our wet clothes, take a hot shower and welcome the evening, looking forward to a nice warm bed.

(translated by EG) mehr »

Behind, Riding Towards Anzio

Going through Rome is not for bikers who are out for pleasure. More for the likes of us, who might be termed “hard nuts”. We are going south towards the sea. All this rubbish on the street really hurts. And Barbara is surprised about all those “ladies” waiting for customers in the parking lots. Then we see the sea in front of us. It is just a few more kilometres down into Guardapasso, where we eat our first Italian Pizza in the (early spring) sun for lunch. I send a few SMS and then on we go to Anzio.

It is about 70 kilometres from Rome to Anzio. We arrive in the afternoon: carnival all around us. The market place is full of people, a wonderful theatre for children is playing on a simple stage, confetti lie strewn all around the place. We indulge in some delicious ice-cream, along with an excellent cup of cappuccino. A Brazilian procession is moving over the market place. Loud drums and dancing girls a little under-dressed for the weather can be seen everywhere.

Finding a hotel is not at all easy. This is absolute low season and all hotels are closed. The “no parking” signs are valid from April, 1st. After some time, we find an old Albergo with the door open (LA TAVERNETTA – Via Catilina, 7 in Anzio). The nice boss has three beautiful salt-water aquariums, but no WLAN. It seems like there is no internet-café, either. Is it possible that 70 kilometres south of the Eternal City there is no internet connection?

The room is not exciting, but very large. It is heated by gas. Breakfast was included, but the milk that went with the milk-coffee tasted abominable. It was accompanied by two pieces of rusk and two sealed plastic croissants. With the exception of another couple, we were the only guest in the Albergo that night. But it was a nice and quiet night. We slept really well and we are now refreshed and eager to do the next stretch.

(translated by EG)