Roland Dürre
Thursday January 31st, 2013

For Free: Eight Work Days …

I am sitting in my office. The spring sun is pouring in and the window is open. A copy of the Motorwelt magazine found its way to my desk.

Here is some information for all those nerds who do not know it: the ADAC is Germany’s most important association. It is the car drivers’ association. With 18 million members, it is the second biggest automobile club of the world (after the US’s  AAA). The “Moborwelt” is the monthly tabloid and central organ of the ADAC.

Formerly, the ADAC was mainly the lobbyist of the “car-drivers’ community”. Today, the ADAC is an organisation that mainly tries to get hold of their members’ best: the money. One of the means to this end is the “Motorwelt”. Through numerous adverts, it tries to seduce the ADAC members (and others) into buying marge-strong “special bargains” (often from highly profitable ADAC subsidiary enterprises).

The focal topic of the current edition (No. 2, February 2013) is “TRAFFIC JAMS”. It demands massive investments for extending the road system.

Here are a few citations from the magazine:
“Germany needs an all-enveloping street modernization program.”
As early as the title page, we are informed that:

“Nothing but TRAFFIC JAMS – 595,000 kilometres of cars standing in line – chaos on German streets.”

On page 20, I read:
“Et an average, every German citizen spends eight work days each year sitting in a traffic jam”.
And a little later:
“Citizens and the economy suffer from street conditions getting worse and worse. The politicians witness the strong increase in traffic but do nothing about it.”

For me, this is again something that stuns me. Because I believe we in Germany have more serious problems than the condition of our streets (education, demographic data, society, climate, …). In my opinion, the chaos is not caused by the standstill, but by all this mobility. To me, it seems that not only the German car drivers, but also the citizen “with foreign roots” is stuck. I am in favour of a soft but constant reduction and de-emotionalisation of individual traffic.

And speaking of myself, I am glad to no longer belong to the species “German car driver”. After all, I won eight work days, didn’t I? And when I also take into consideration how many hours the ”German car driver“ spends not sitting in the traffic jam and instead having to work behind the steering wheel, I feel truly happy. Some way or other, I seem to save a lot of time and energy. And then I can use some of what I saved for writing an IF blog article.

(Translated by EG)

Here are my tweets of last week on:
Blogging and Twittering, Wisdoms and Rules:

130207 Always expect the unexpected – are you listening, twitterers and bloggers? #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

13008 If you don’t try, you will never get the experience – a good strategy for twitterers and bloggers! #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

130209 Untangled yarn is good yarn – also when twittering and blogging! #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

130210 Unobscured is always best – also true for bloggers and twitterers! #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

130211 Nothing daunted, nothing dared – also a strategy among twitterers and bloggers. #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

130212 The unwilling messanger is a good prophet – also true for twittering and blogging? #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

130213 Ignorance is courageous –  especially when twittering and blogging? #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

There is a new tweet each day. See and “follow” RolandDuerre!

(Translated by EG)

I took the proverbs from Alle deutsche Sprichwörter.

Roland Dürre
Wednesday January 30th, 2013

South America’s Raw Materials

Our Federal Chancellor is a very industrious lady. She works around the clock. No matter how far she has to travel, she is always ready for a business trip. Now, Frau Merkel just returned from a trip to South-America with her entourage. With Brazil, she visited one of the future super powers. She went there in order to fight for raw materials. Raw materials for us. For Germany. For the German industry. Against the Chinese.

Well, I might have simplified it a little, but this is how I understood what the media have been telling us.

But what nonsense is this? We are living in a “global world” – especially when it comes to business. The EU and the USA keep telling us that their goal is a radically free market economy, except when we are talking their own business affairs. In Europe, too, privatization is the magic formula.

Consequently, it is clear that the raw material will end up with those who pay best. In fact, in the long run this might even help to support the good goal “no waste”. Except that we have not yet reached that stage. But it can happen quite fast.

China, however, is our production country. For many years, we have now closed down production plants in Europe and outsourced them to Asia. Because this is cheaper and we also get rid of all the noise and pollution caused by dirty industry. And now the only thing we have to deal with is how to dispose of the imported luxury waste.

With this in mind, it would seem that we have to see to it that China gets free access to the raw materials, wouldn’t it? And we should start planning where we can export our luxury waste to. The same is true for nuclear waste. After all, we can now finally export it abroad without breaking the law.

Perhaps the next business trip our Federal Chancellor takes will again be to Africa. Of course in the interest of Germany.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Tuesday January 29th, 2013

Stress in Enterprises (A Case Study)

This morning, I heard on the Bayern-2 news that more than half of the German employees suffer from stress caused by their job. If you ask me, I would modify the statement: “caused, among other things, by their job“. As to the information itself, I believe it. Our government wants to do something about it. I find that a little on the humorous side. It sounds like another one of those nice statements of intent where there is actually no real possibility of change.

The message reminds me of something I experienced a short time ago.

One of my friends is a very intelligent, well-educated, integer, friendly, responsible and sustainably successful manager. In fact, he is one of those persons I would like to recruit for InterFace AG on the spot.

He is a very loyal employee in a German concern and has personnel responsibility. A year ago, the concern gave him a new task, so he took responsibility for a new area. It was an area where much had gone wrong, yet this area was rather important for the economic success of the enterprise.

He started with all the enthusiasm in the world, motivated the team, invested a huge amount of personal energy and managed to improve the most important business indexes – and thus the cost-return situation – in a most impressive way within one year.
But the concern is in a phase of change. Considering this situation, the numbers you get to read are quite good. But they are not good enough for the directors. Because the financial plans are ambitious. And the stock exchange has high standards.

Consequently, after one year, my friend is now being asked to reduce the team by three. He has no idea how to maintain what has been achieved, let alone how to continue in the same way with three less. Management, however, says: “all you have to do is put enough pressure on everyone, then they will somehow manage“. Personally, I would like to emphasize “somehow”.

Now he has to identify three “underperformers“. The rest will be done by the personnel department (HR for human resource).
Naturally, this causes stress for all parties concerned. Mind you, there is no doubt that there are more prudent ways towards success. There is a high probability that the path the enterprise decided upon will be detrimental in the long run. You can easily come up with reasons for this (provided you can ever give reasons for anything that relates to the future). But more often than not, cost reduction through personnel reduction is considered to have “no alternatives”.
And I am happy that I am “my own entrepreneur“.

(Translated by EG)

This is a true story. I will not give you details, such as the concern, the task and other particulars. My friend would be made to suffer if this kind of information were to go public.

Roland Dürre
Monday January 28th, 2013

How Our Mothers Differentiate …

The story of the day before yesterday with the mothers and their jobs a few days ago is still on my mind! Especially since I have actually come across the term “foreign roots“ more often.

In official statistics, they informed us about mothers “with foreign background”. Well, the opposite of “foreign roots” would be “national roots”, wouldn’t it? Or do they mean “German roots” as opposed to “non-German roots”? And do mothers really have roots?

What nonsense. I decided to reciprocate and came up with a totally different differentiation of mothers.

Some mothers are “strictly Catholic”, some are “enlightened Lutheran”, “Jewish”, “Islamic”, “Buddhist”, “atheist”.

Some mothers are “Barbie-doll mothers – some are “totally over-over-protective“.

Some are “Sagrotan mothers“ who have their sons circumcised for reasons of hygiene and some are “bum mothers”.
Some are “rich mothers” and some are “poor mothers“.

Some are “working-class mothers“ and some are “mothers with an academic background”.

Some are “3-c mothers“ (church, cooking, children) and some are “1-c mothers” (career).

Some are “ethically upright mothers“ and some are “mothers with an amoral life-style”.

Some are “single mothers“ and some are “part-time mothers“.

Some are “zero-child mothers” and some are “n-children mothers”.

And then I will do a statistic overview about how many jobs are available for all those categories.

Thank you very much!

(Translated EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday January 27th, 2013

Another Sunday …

On Sundays, I usually try to think about the last week, what the next week might bring and what I plan and intend to do. Both in my private and professional life. As I look back, I remember what news I heard last week.

And again, I find it rather terrible. I was particularly annoyed on reading the anti-word (Unwort) where they said something about “mothers with foreign roots”.

The next thing that comes to mind is the Federal Minister of Defense. He absolutely insists on getting a few drones for the armed forces. Or rather: “He defended the fighter-drone plan” (see Zeit), again using dialectically rather questionable vocabulary, such as
“Un-crewed aircrafts carrying weapons have the same effect as crewed ones. It is always a human who decides whether or not a missile will be shot”.

Allegedly, he told this to the “Bild-Zeitung“. And, to show us how diligent he is, he added that he would like to develop this drone technology in Germany. Welcome home, lobbyist. After all, we do not want to jeopardize our world-wide standing in the weapons dealing sector.

To me personally, it would be quite nice to see drones with “foreign roots“ fighting  those with “domestic roots“ “abroad”. And I would certainly enjoy it if those with the “domestic roots” won. After all, I am proud of German engineering. Even if those with “domestic roots” were to fight others with the same roots (provided far away from home), it would be commendable. Eventually, the victory would be with the one who has more of them. And that means they would buy more from us, thereby strengthening our economy and creating jobs.

The bad news is that the drones, no matter what roots they have, are usually used against rather defenceless persons. Persons who probably only follow what is (from our viewpoint) a totally blinded conscience. And what if, perhaps, we will eventually have to use them at home? That would not be my idea of a good joke.

Then I remember our Federal Minister of Science. She says she wrote her doctorial thesis all by herself (see  Zeit). But, how evil is the world, now she has to defend her title. And totally without drones, too. Regardless of the fact that most of what is written in her work actually did not originate with her.

But she says: “My dissertational thesis is not plagiarism”. Being commander-in-chief of the doctorial-title industry, that is probably the only thing she can say.

Here is a possible solution to the problem: why not restrict the issuing of doctorial titles to projects such as those where drone are developed? Cheating is a little harder there. It is called business espionage or even worse. However, this proposal will not be easily applicable to the arts.

Mind you, in an enlightened world, a doctorial title is nothing more than perhaps a particularly precious certificate. Like the black belt in project management or in judo. But it is certainly not an extension of your personality you have to make part of your name as a “title”. Something that probably only the Germans of all the nations in the world do.

And the question whether or not such a certificate, after some time has gone by, is owned justly or not is probably not something you should blow up out of proportion. When all is said and done, both the domestic and foreign citizens find it more important to have a driver’s license – which, strangely, you also get for life. Fear thee not: I am not going to demand life-long for aggressive behavior behind the steering wheel.

Which brings me right to the next topic. The Federal Minister of Transportation caused me most amusement last week. He wants to reduce the aggression on our streets. It is something he really wants to do and even spend money on. Totally ignoring psychological and neurological findings. Even the humor displayed in the Spiegel (I do not mean my mirror) will not help me there.

Even a politician should know that, until a short time ago, we humans were nothing but “ape-like monkeys” – except if he is a creationist. After all, humans, too, are mammals. Sometimes this is cute, sometimes it is not all that cute.

To be sure, we also strive for social interaction. And we enjoy developing positive social relationships. Given certain circumstances, however, we naturally tend to go over the top. Not just on the streets. But as long as cars maintain their social and emotional importance (in fact, it is even promoted with billions of euros), drivers will remain socially isolated and sit behind the wheels of their maniac machines like omnipotent deity, including a tendency towards aggressiveness. No penalty catalogue reforms and campaigns will help there. If you go over the top when in charge of such an over-potent machine, there will sometimes be dire consequences. But then, the weapons lobbyists in the US also accept this risk – which is why they continue demanding that automatic rifles can be sold over the counter.

Well, I was not going to write about the news from the USA, AFRICA or ASIA. Instead, I would like to wish you a nice Sunday.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday January 26th, 2013

Quit Smoking With Olf :-)

In brand eins , there is always a “the world of numbers” on one of the first pages. I particularly enjoy reading it. And it often makes me smile. Sometimes I am surprised.

Once in a while, I find something I definitely have to share. Here is a citation and my comment:

Intensity of the body odor of a grown-up person wearing fresh underwear and sitting down who has a hygienic standard of 0.7 baths per day in Olf …… 1

Intensity of a chain smoker with a hygienic standard of 0.7 baths per day in Olf…… 25

Intensity of body odor of an athlete after sports who has an hygienic standard of 0.7 baths per day in Olf …… 30

Mind you, I myself used to smoke. I am very glad to have quit. But I am pretty sure I would immediately quit smoking after having read this.

Incidentally, if you search the meaning of the word Olf in Wikipedia, you will notice where the smart editors of my favourite business magazine acquire their knowledge. The numbers are identical with the first three examples used in the Wikipedia article on Olf. Except that it says “reposing“ instead of “sitting down“ and the entire text is a little longer.

(Translated by EG)

🙂 Now I would like to know how many Olfs a freshly custom-cleaned Porsche has when driving through the inner city with 30 km/h.

Roland Dürre
Friday January 25th, 2013

The Direct Path to Nerdism

This is about quality control for IT projects. You have to obtain certificates. Here is an original question you get preparatory for an exam.

“Quality management of a product consists of quality assurance, quality planning and quality control. You are responsible for quality assurance in an IT-based project. Name three central tools you need for quality assurance…”

If you can answer this and most other questions of the same sort correctly, you are a certified quality manager.

So what is left for me to say? It is better if I shut up. But your comments would be very much appreciated.

(Translated by EG)

I discovered the topic in a Google+ discussion.

Klaus Hnilica
Thursday January 24th, 2013

When Men Do The Right Thing …

Carl and Gerlinde (XXIX)

Each day, it got clearer for Carl that there was no way out of the “thunderstorm that cleans the air“ in the form of an argument with Gerlinde. Otherwise, he was in danger of being driven to insanity by her shopping mania.…

For several weeks, no day had passed without Gerlinde persistently telling him that, again, some absolutely sweet, light-blue little pullover with beautifully open-worked raglan seams had shrunken so much without her having done anything that there was definitely no option but to throw it away: regardless of the fact that she had only worn the beastly thing three times and only hand-washed it in lukewarm water twice – could you imagine!

And then what about the annoyance with these stupid apricot-coloured cardigans you could not find in any of her usual boutiques, except at abominable C&A! And there – typically! – you only could get them in sizes fit for pregnant walruses and sumo-ringers, but not for normal humans. Let alone for her after her eight weeks of New York Diet and minus six kilograms, who now urgently needed all kinds of new clothes; including underwear – of course from Carl’s spring collection!

Or else she would grumble at the breakfast table, even before her first sip of coffee or bite of bread, about totally uncool Wedge Sneakers from Goethestrasse she had bought for a celestial bargain price. Due to the new padding she had to wear, these same sneakers caused her feet such pain that the only thing left for her to do with them was give them to the OXFAM people. Her only consolation was that those torture sneakers had not gone well with the new, exquisite, black Zoé Lu bag she had discovered in a tiny boutique after weeks of search, anyway.

But other than this exceptional lucky strike, so she lamented without ever pausing to catch her breath, the last few weeks had been so lousy for her that you really could no longer file it under ’the usual hard luck’! No – no matter how Carl tried to soften the blows, there was definitely more to it. After all, it was not just her impossible clothes where she kept being out of luck, she eagerly said while chewing: all Carl had to do was remember those insane, black, Moroccan olives from the market a short time ago. There had been such a huge discount on them that she absolutely had to buy four pounds, because everything else would have been the height of stupidity. But as so often, our dear Mister Carl had not liked their taste – and consequently they were thrown into the biological waste still wrapped in their original packaging!

Or the twelve bottles of Spanish red wine from Freixenet she bought at the bargain price of four euros and ninety-nine cents because she had intended to surprise him. They had immediately ended up in the sewers!

These days, this was always the typical chain of events whenever she wanted to do something nice for him, Gerlinde pouted – and then she disappeared among coughing and sneezing into her freshly prepared anti-chill bath, which almost had overflown, as well. …

“Just relax!“ Carl shouted after her. But then he was truly glad that she had left, because he simply could no longer put up with this wretched nonsense. Mind you, he certainly was patience and endurance personified. How often had he tried, during endless and grueling discussions, to discourage Gerlinde from this unspeakable hunt for bargains and rags. He had advised her to buy purposefully, moderately and without hurry, and told her it did not matter if it cost a little more! Above all, he had told her to always follow an exact plan when shopping and only buy what she had intended to buy! Wasn’t that a simple rule everybody could understand and stick by? Even she as a woman?

But today, Gerlinde was incapacitated by this admittedly evil cold. So here was his chance that, at least for one day, there would be no shopping chaos in his household! Due to this one-time chance, he was even prepared to go to the supermarket and quickly – before office hours – get the few things Gerlinde had written down:

1 LOAF OF WHITE BREAD – 4 LEMONS – 4 TINS OF SARDINES – 2 packages of BUTTER – 1 kilogram of LENTILS …

That was all!

It would be best to buy the white bread as he passed the bread counter when leaving, that much he knew although he definitely did not know his way very well in this allegedly so great supermarket, where he always had to spend endless time searching.

But maybe this was why they always did this product re-arranging. Besides, he had read that, in all the supermarkets of the world, the customers were encouraged to walk counter-clockwise, because significant studies had revealed that sales were higher than if customers went through the rows clockwise.

But now, with all this running counter-clockwise, he first had to find the lemons – he was sure they must be with the fruit!

Gerlinde often lamented that there was far from enough fruit – and when she arrived it was often already sold out!

Today, there were heaps of gorgeous mangoes on the tables, also two brands of sweet melons and beautiful papayas – they were not precisely cheap, but huge – delicious-looking pineapples – at a bargain price – and heavenly, yellow kiwis. She liked kiwis, didn’t she? So what could be wrong with him taking advantage of this unique opportunity and really stock up? He was sure Gerlinde would be enthusiastic…

But where to find those damned sardines? As far as he remembered, that was next on the list. Or where to find someone you could ask? Today, the supermarkets no longer seemed to employ those people! They were hiding, because they themselves did not know where to find things; after all, the products were now put into the shelves by cheap leased labor.

In his misery, Carl simply asked the small, corpulent saleslady behind the fish counter where he could find the sardines! And since she was so friendly with the information she provided, he also bought from her a good portion of seafood salad and two delicious portions of smoked trout she assured him more than once had only just arrived.
But before he actually reached the alleged proximity of the desired sardines, there were a few tests he had to pass – like in a fairy tale: countless long and high shelves filled with inlaid herrings in hundreds of different jars and tins. He got the impression you could get twenty different kinds or marinade and more! In fact, you could even get them in tomato juice, which was something Gerlinde had asked him to get a hundred times already. Consequently, he boldly put no less than five tins of them into his trolley, topping them with eight different glasses of mussels, before starting to look for the butter…

Who but his impossible, stubborn solar-inspired neighbor Konrad and his frozen Luise were standing before the butter shelf! And were they not just at the moment trying to find what they wanted among all the two hundred different butter brands? Just like he was going to?

There was nothing to it but escape!

At dawn, the Konrad family was definitely not something you wanted to cope with. Not even Gerlinde could expect this kind of sacrifice of him! As fast as lightning, Carl turned left towards the red wine and instinctively grabbed a bottle of Amarone for 36 euros.

But unfortunately, he was too late!

“If that isn’t our dear neighbor stocking up his wine depot after the holidays“, he heard someone say behind his back. Carl turned around, pretended to be surprised at seeing them and said: “Oh my God – it is the Konrad family! Are you, too, out shopping?“

“What does it look like to you, Mr. Neighbor?“, a smiling solar Konrad yelled over the distance of five rows of shelves.

“Aren’t you in a good mood so early in the morning?“, Carl’s attempt at humor was a little forced. Still, he asked Mr. Konrad if he, too, liked  Amarone.

“My husband only drinks German wines“, wrinkled Luise interrupted them, “with those, at least you know what is inside“.

“That is true“, Carl nodded thoughtfully, “but if you stick to the high-priced wines in here, you will also never go wrong …“

“Well, we certainly cannot afford to buy one bottle of wine for forty euros“, Mr. Konrad grumpily replied.

“So what do you drink?“

“You know, in the Palatine, you can get quite a good vintage for next to nothing if you buy directly from the winegrower?

“Is that so?“, Carl said while adding eight more bottles of Amarone with a feeling of satisfaction he seldom experienced. Meanwhile, the Konrad couple shook their heads and went their way.

But Carl really got fed up when, back at home, Gerlinde – in cross-examination style – asked no less than five times about the stupid lemons and sardines. Not to forget the eight times she asked about the shitty butter and lentils. Did she imagine there were no other problems in the world?

Typically female: never look beyond your own plate. After all, there might actually be more to see than these narrow-minded household peanuts.

The great fruit he had bought was not even ignored!

And when he dared to politely mention it, Gerlinde only retorted she did not know what to do with this amount of products? Was he supposed to get a bigger refrigerator immediately now, as well, or what on earth did she expect? Unbelievable what women imagined …

If that was all the gratitude he got for voluntarily doing Gerlinde’s household chores, then thank you very much – he was not going to do it again!

The same was true for such wisecracks as “I do not remember having written Amarone onto the shopping list”. Consequently, Gerlinde was never ever going to hear about the eight beautiful bottles of Amarone that were still sitting in his car: except if she was prepared to join him when he indulged in all the eight little bottles…


Here are my tweets of last week on:
Blogging and Twittering, Wisdoms and Rules:

130131 Subject and sovereign are often both wrong  – do you hear me, twitterers and bloggers? #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

130201 Infidelity will make men wise – a strategy for twitterers and bloggers? #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

130202 Punish infidelity by forgetting it – also when twittering and blogging! #Twitter #Blogging #Weisheit

130203 Punish infidelity by forgetting it – also true for bloggers and twitterers! #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

130204 Infidelity is often the price you pay for infidelity – also among twitterers and bloggers. #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

130205 Infidelity will bounce right back to the origin – also true for twittering and blogging! #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

130206 Always expect the unexpected – especially when twittering and blogging? #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

There is a new tweet each day. See and “follow” RolandDuerre!

(Translated by EG)

I took the proverbs from Alle deutsche Sprichwörter.