My Personal Wish for 2017:
Gratitude and Considerateness, both for You and Others.

Many years ago, I already noticed how important it is to be considerate, both towards yourself and other persons, in what you do, but also towards the entire creation. I also started realizing quite some time ago that appreciation is the basis for peace and that appreciating yourself is the first requirement if you want to be able to appreciate other people.

But it took me almost 66 years to discover that the ability to be grateful is probably the most important requirement for a happy life. Today, I am infinitely grateful for all the things I was allowed to experience and learn in my life.

Consequently, it is my personal wish for 2017 that the degree to which I am thankful will and can continue to grow. And that is exactly what I also wish all my friends, and especially the IF blog readers!

So:
For 2017, I wish you loads of beautiful things so that the degree to which you can be thankful will grow at your heart’s desire. And I wish us all the ability to be very grateful!

Health is also a very important commodity. So I also wish you all very much health!
As opposed to this, the small piglet is just supposed to bring a little luck. May the portion of luck that gives us the extra joy always accompany us all!

Best wishes for the start of the New Year and the same for the entire 2017!

Einen guten Rutsch und ein gelingendes Jahr 2017!

RMD

P.S
I use this beautiful picture every year as an illustration of my new year wishes. It was originally designed by my dear friend, the photographer Rolo Zollner. It is listed as “common licence“, which means that you all can use it, provided you tell all your readers where you found it and who designed it.

May it bring as much happiness as possible to as many persons as possible, and in particular to Rolo!

Generally speaking, cars dominate the “mobile life” in Central America, too. I was well aware of it. And yet I was surprised when I saw the number and frequency of congestions in the big and small cities. The same is true for the (probably only imagined) dependency on all kinds of combustion motors.

Let me first say something about cruises:

Well, we did an entire round through the Caribbean on the huge TUI ship “MeinSchiff 4“ – with four days at sea and ten days on shore. This ship does the same route several times between December and February, another “MeinSchiff“  does another round in the same area with other destinations. Then they go to new waters and cruise those. Cruises have become a sort of “regular service”, which certainly facilitates the logistics. But it also makes the travelling experience a little more “convenient”. And, of course, there are ships from many shipping companies doing business in the Caribbean.

World tours individually designed, for instance from Hamburg back to Hamburg stretching over a time frame of nine months with new routes, have become scarce. That is true for all the shipping companies I know, such as Costa, Celebrity or MeinSchiff (TUI) – and the same is true for the small ones.

However, this is not bad news, because travelling on a ship has a huge advantage. Throughout the day, you will see many places in various countries and you can actually structure your day quite intensely and individually. The often inconvenient transport happens at night and is very comfortable. That means a ship is basically a mobile hotel where you wake up at a new location every morning.

I am well aware of the problem of cruises (and far-away vacations in general). As a general rule, only flying long distance will take you there – and a ship is definitely a strong “environmental sinner”. That means one cruise every year will destroy all the efforts I make towards getting a more environment-friendly carbon dioxide footprint. Even the fact that I no longer drive a car or go by bike or public transport in Germany is little help.

Let me explain step by step:

During our two-week cruise through Central America, the people check in and out of the ship at one of two harbours: La Romana and Montego Bay, both of which have a harbour and an airport in Jamaica.

As a general rule, you leave the ship where you boarded it. That means that these convenient cruises expect you to return to the place where you originally arrived. Consequently, you will not need an open jaw ticket. We boarded our ship in La Romana in the Dominican Republic (R.D.), where we also left the ship. Luckily, that meant the shortest flight from Munich to the Caribbean.

We wanted to see as much as possible of the country, rather than just collect impressions through car and bus windows. What we wanted was get into contact with “the country and the people”. And that is what we also accomplished. We often went places on foot and – unfortunately – only once rode bikes. We used cars (taxis) three times. We took four organized tours, for which purpose we often used a bus and various-sized boats. Once, a cable car was our means of transportation.

How it started:

On December, 9th, around 4 p.m. and after more than ten hours on board, our plane landed at the airport of La Romana in the Dominican Republic. From the landing strip, the bus took us to the harbour, which was about ten minutes for the few kilometres. The luggage was delivered directly from the plane to the ship cabin – which means that, in terms of logistics, the transfer from home to the ship was really optimal.

However, the check-in at the ship took rather long. On this route, the ship only has two “change days” (they used to call them arrival and departure days) and that means that around 1,000 new passengers will arrive from their own charter flights in a short time interval. We were just about the last. That means it took some time before we were on board, even though the check-in, too, was rather well organized with many desks. But, as I said before: the good news was that the luggage was sitting right in front of our cabin.

The voyage starts!

We arrived on December , 9th. The 10th of December was a day at sea en route to Jamaica. That was quite well, because it was a needed day of leisure after the long flight. We arrived at Ocho Rios harbour in the morning of December, 11th.

December, 11th – Ocho Rios – Jamaica – – ON FOOT
Departure time around 7:00 / arrival time 20:00

This is the first mainland day on our trip and my first time in Jamaica, the country of Bob Marley!

One of Ocho Rios’ attractions is the Dunn’s River Falls. They are “waterfalls” where the water flows down on a plateau-like descent. You can climb up through the flood of water from down on the ocean for around fifty metres. It looks spectacular – in fact it looks a lot more dangerous than it actually is. .The sweet water is pleasantly warm, which makes the entire adventure a nice joke. Finding the shallow places is no problem, which means you can easily do it without a guide.

Barbara at the Dunn’s River Waterfalls on her way up!

On board the ship, there is a “day’s itinerary” for each day (printed in paper, too) and, with the exception of days at sea, there is also “harbour information”. It contains useful information and a map of the harbour. On the map, we can see that, apparently, it is not too far from where our ship is docked in Ocho Rios to the Dunn’s River Falls. Our estimation is that it might be between five and ten kilometres.

Consequently, we set out to hike the way. It is a little cloudy, which is naturally good news for our December paleness. Again and again, it rains. But that is not a problem for us, because the rain is warm. In fact, we consider it nice refreshment. Once in a while, we seek shelter and thus have our first chance to get in touch with the local population.

For us tourists, the admission fee for the Dunn’s River Falls is 20 USD per person. There is no discount for retired persons. Many families who live in the country with their numerous offspring are also standing in the queue. In their faces, you can see how they are looking forward to the experience. They pay half. The organized trip from the ship to the waterfalls would have cost us around 50 USD, but that would not have been hiking. Instead, we would have had a bus and a guide.

Early in the afternoon, we are back on board. On the whole, we hiked perhaps around 15 kilometres, which is not bad, is it? Later in the afternoon, we go to the “village”. Most of the shops are closed. After all, it is the Third Advent Sunday. I would like to buy a Bob Marley T-shirt. Actually, due to the Sunday, many shops are closed, but there are still enough open.

Bob Marley is truly worshipped here. He is the national hero of Jamaica. In general, T-shirts are cheap, only buying Bob Marley comes at a higher price. After having looked in several shops, we find an official T-shirt I rather like. However, depending on the shop, it costs between 20 and 36 USD. As opposed to this, a “normal” T-shirt can be bought for five or even (considerably) fewer US dollars. The salespersons strictly refuse to sell the Bob Marley shirt for less than 18 USD. It seems to me that selling the national hero for little money is definitely sacrilegious.

Our ship takes off after darkness has fallen and continues to drive along the coast of Jamaica to Montego Bay (Mo Bay). And a nice red original Bob Marley t-shirt is sitting in my “suite”. I will wear it on Silvester Eve at home.

December, 12th – Montego Bay – Jamaica – – ON FOOT, Taxi
Departure time 7:00 / arrival time 22:00; doing our own tour

This is how a Christmas Tree looks in Jamaica. The one you see here is being erected in the centre of Montega Bay.

Incidentally, the second change day of this route was in Montego Bay. This means that around 1,000 persons leave the ship and 1,000 new arrivals board. However, this does not concern us. After all, we want to go back to the mainland.

The “harbour information” map shows us that the way to the centre should be around seven kilometres, which means that it is definitely possible to hike.

So we start: first along the Southern Cros Blvd, then turning left onto Howard Cooke Hwy. This time, there are hardly any clouds and practically no shadow. Regardless, we arrive at Montega Bay Market after little more than an hour.

Our Mo Bay amusement tour is rather long. The return trip seems to be longer than the way out when we are half way. Perhaps it is a good idea to take a taxi? At this very moment, a taxi driver sitting at the kerb asks us if he can take us to the ship. He will drive us for free, because then he can enter the harbour taxi area. If you are parked there, you can earn real good money. Later, we will learn that going by taxi from the ship at the harbour to diverse destinations will always be several times as much as is normally charged. We are a little exhausted and gladly accept the generous offer.

Late in the evening, the journey continues to Mexico. Between Mo Bay and Cozumel, however, there is the second day at sea on December, 13th.

December, 14th – San Miguel/Cozumel – Mexico – – RIDING OUR BIKES
Departure time 6:30 / arrival time 20:00; doing our own tour

Cozumel is an island sitting before the eastern coast of the Mexican peninsula Yucatán. We leave the ship rather early and first stroll towards the centre of the small village San Miguel. On the harbour information map, the way looks considerably shorter than the one to Montega Bay (and that turns out to be true). Regardless, the number of taxi drivers who tell us that it is too far to walk feels like a hundred.

However, we do not manage to get to the centre, because we discover a bike rental next to a motorbike rental (exclusively letting Harley-Davidson machines) on the right side as you walk into the town. The bike rental will close at 4 p.m. (after all, darkness falls early), but since this is early afternoon, there is enough time left.

They offer very simple bikes for 10 USD – only equipped with a brake and lacking both gear shifts and an additional hand brake. For 15 USD, you can get some sort of trekking bike, which has a gear shift and free-wheeling. And then there are some electronically supported “fat boys”. You can hire them for 20 USD. Prices are for one bike and one day.

Well, I rather like the idea of trying an electrical fat boy. However, the salesperson warns us that the batteries are just in the process of being loaded and that this will take some time. Since I feel a little “unfamiliar” with only a pedal brake, we take two “trekking bikes” for 30 USD.

A nice long bike trip brings us to the northern beaches of Cozumel Island on the coast of Mexico.

The bikes are well-oiled, the tyres have enough air. The bottom bracket of my bike seems to have a problem, since it makes strange noises. Regardless, we very much enjoy riding the bikes.

First, we continue on our way to the centre of San Miguel. We look at a few shop windows. As everywhere, there are many jewellery shops, specializing in diamonds. They will continue to haunt us throughout the entire trip.

Then we go back in a northerly direction, passing the bike rental and the ship and then onto a street going north along the eastern coast. We ride along exquisite hotels that look quite expensive and seem to stand sentinel on the way like pearls, except that the distance between two of them is mostly a few hundred metres, occasionally also one or two kilometres. We ride quite a far way along the ocean and we really enjoy it – then we get hungry and thirsty. We turn around, again pass the ship and go to the bike rental, where we hand back our bikes. Then we walk a little more than one kilometre back to the ship. It was a great day. In the evening, we depart for Belize.

I almost forgot:
In Cozumel, shortly before the bike rental, we visit a small bar on a minor road, where we have “free WLAN”. In return for drinking two cups of coffee and one bottle of water for three times three USD, we can use the internet and read and send emails. Answer chats. Download the SZ and do whatever else has accumulated.

December, 15th -– Belize City – Belize – – BUS, BOAT, ON FOOT
Departure time 9:00 / arrival time 20:00; organized trip.

It seems that Belize City does not have a harbour that can be accessed by ships as huge as the MeinSchiff 4. On this one visit of the mainland, the ship does not enter the harbour as usual. Instead, it lies at anchor far out. Consequently, it has to tender. Normally, that is a procedure where the ship’s own lifeboats are launched, and then they have to commute between the ship and the mainland. In Belize, they provide a regular tender service for this. Since we booked an early organized trip that departs early, we can use the second tender to the mainland.

Our trip seems to look quite attractive to many passengers. We need two busses. Everybody wants to see the Maya heritage. We are early, the busses have not yet arrived. Consequently, we wait in the harbour building. It feels a little like when I was in primary school – we stand in rows of two and wait. Then our bus arrives and we are transferred to Tower Hill. This is where, at long last, we get “local treats” – chicken with inlaid onions and delicious vegetables. Along with it, we get the standard “wedding” – that is rice on black beans. I know the “wedding” from our Cuba bike tour two years ago. Since I do not like rice, I pass on it. However, all the other dishes are really tasty – simple and delicious.

Now we are full and content, and thus move into small but very fast boats that are supposed to take us to Laimanai. We are the last to board and consequently sit at the very rear. The boats hurry to Laimanai at tremendous speed. All we can see to the right and left are the water fountains. On or way back, we will apply a different strategy.

At long last: the Lamanai Maya Temples.

This is what we do. On the return trip, our seats are at the front of the ship. And the view is spectacular. Also, the boat no longer seems to go quite so incredibly fast
The Maya city of Laimanai was truly very impressive. On the way back, however, there are some small problems. First, our captain has to help a boat that cannot move on. And then our bus gets stuck in a mega congestion.

This is how the end of the shore trip is as late as 7.30 p.m. .There is no time left for a stroll through Belize City.The only things we can report are those we saw from the bus. To us, Belize looked very British, not just because you drive on the left-hand side. That was something we already knew from Jamaica.

As soon as we arrive back on the ship, it sets out. To be sure, it is not quite as punctual as usual. It is a little after 8 p.m. We had to wait for another tour group that was a little late. Now we set out for Honduras.

December, 16th – Roatán – Honduras – – ON FOOT, Taxi
Arrival time 9:00 / departure time 20:00; by ourselves

View from the ship – looking towards West Bays, which is where we are headed.

Roatán is an island situated half an hour by ship from the mainland of Honduras. Today, we want to go to the “Westbays“. Because they say the beach is particularly nice there. And, if possible, we would also like to ride bikes again.
First we enter the small town east of the harbour and ask the local population where we might rent a bike. The answer is: not on this side, but perhaps on the northern side of the island, that is behind the mountains. That is where you might find a bike rental. We can go there by taxi.

But that would not make sense, would it? Then we try to find out how far it is to the “Westbays“ . We get different answers and eventually agree on the number seven. But we are talking miles. So we start out. And before we leave the town, we discover a very special place. It is a small park area with benches that seem to be dedicated to friends of Honduras from Taiwan. There is pretty good public WLAN. We are online for the second time on this trip and download all we need.

Then we start out on foot. Back to the ship, passing the ship and going towards the “Westbays“. Time and again, it rains. Initially, we take shelter under palms that line the streets. Since that is not much use, we eventually continue hiking even when it rains. After all, the rain is nice and warm.

All the time, taxis stop next to us and offer their service. And they warn us that the way to the “Westbays“ is quite far and also rather arduous. Then we are beyond the half-way point. We take a break and enter a bar. And we drink several bottles of Salva Vida, which is one of the local Honduras beers. And we enjoy the sun of Central America on the pedestrian overpass. If paradise is half as nice …

So far, the street had no inclines and went straight along the southern coast. It was a nice path. Now we will have to turn inland. We wonder if it would be a good idea to turn around. Or should we go to our destination and then let a taxi transfer us home?

Again, it rains. Rather heavily. So far, we were always dry again by the time the next shower came. Now this no longer works. The rain finally drenched all our clothes. Now the path leads into the mountains. The view gets nicer and nicer – the path steeper and steeper. Initially, it is only up, then suddenly first down and then up. Extremely often. And as soon as, after a steep decline, we think that now the way must go down to the ocean, the next incline waits.

On our way, we see many tourist attractions. Several “Flying Dogs““Cool Runnings“, a Monkey-Park and similar things are supposed to lure the hiker. However, all those places seem to be closed – perhaps due to the rain.

Finally, we manage to arrive on the beautiful Westbays beaches. They certainly look nice, but they are also full of reclining chairs. On the water, the boats are sitting nose to nose. This is a little sobering. But then, we managed to get here and reach our destination, didn’t we?

It was a strenuous hike. Now we are really soaking wet. We find a taxi. For 10 USD, it takes us home to our ship. We are cold in the taxi. So the air conditioning is out and the windows are open. This is better. What a great day!

Wet to the bones, a little exhausted but very happy: our arrival at the West Bays Beach in Roatán/Honduras.

This was the first week! In my next post, I will tell you about the second week, which was from December, 17th to December, 23rd. It will start with a day at sea.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Tuesday December 27th, 2016

Cyber Christmas.

Klaus Hnilica (KH), who created
“Carl & Gerlinde”
regularly writes IF Blog articles.

I received special greetings from him while staying in the Caribbean.

Then I asked him if I may publish his poem.

And Klaus said yes.

Here comes (Translated by EG)!


Our first Cyber Christmas ?!?

Moritz, Stella and Agathe,
even Granny says: I’ll wait,
until Sonja shows us all:
the tree is beamed against our wall
as hologram in 3-D space
where real trees sat in former days,
it even has some sparklers on,
which means that Granny’s fears are gone!
It was our Grandpa’s strange desire
that we wear cyber glasses with frames of wire,
But Simon put no glasses on:
he navigates the Christ-Child drone,
which – and Granny wins the bet –
is naturally a little late.
That means we all will see and hear
with “real augmented“ coming near,
how “virtual“ is now rather old
and our dinner gets quite cold.
The cyber angels are not able
to blow some warmth towards the table.
When finally we hear next door
“hallelujah”, we yearn for more.
For Simon this is no big deal
his smartphone makes it all quite real!
A drone is doing all the singing
with tyres quite still and rotors swinging.
And when our Grandpa rings the bell
it says: I come from heaven, not from hell,
I bring the presents right from there,
old Santa Claus knows where they were!
The heap grows into quite a tower
a virtual presentation shower,
that makes our Markus yell quite loud,
and Anne falls from her chair of cloud,
when small Agathe squeaks with pleasure
and yells like crazy for good measure,
just as the goose is much enjoyed
by all the guests today employed.
The drone alone remains aloof,
it will land on another roof.


(Translated by EG)

Happy season’s greetings from 

Brigitte, Klaus and all the family!

P.S.
I’d like to thank so much Eveyln (EG) for the translation. What a great work! She has all my adoration.

In my last post, I started telling you about my last trip through the Caribbean under the title Travelling in Central America (Unterwegs in Mittelamerika). One of the surprises that made me happiest was that I found three countries that have no federal destruction machinery, also known as army or military system.


A short trip through the Panama Channel in a pleasure boat. On the horizon, only just visible, you can see the Puente de las Américas, which was opened on October, 12th, 1962. Having an open height of 61 metres, it is still not high enough for some ocean giants.

Actually, one of my dreams is to live in a country that decides not to have an army and consequently will also do without the elements that go with an army, such as weapons industry, compulsory service and/or mercenary armies, etc. That would be a country that has no ministry of war or defence and no soldiers who work machines the sole purpose of which it is to kill humans and destroy cities.

I still find it regrettable that, immediately after WW-2, the Adenauer administration purposefully and secretly worked towards a re-armament, regardless of the fact that the German Parliament had refused a national re-armament in its first state debate on November, 24th and 25th, 1949. See also the article on the Himmeroder Denkschrift (and especially the part about the Himmeroder Expertengruppe).


Let me cite Wikipedia:

In May 1950, keeping it top secret, Adenauer had instituted an office under his military advisor, General Gerhard Graf von Schwerin. Its official name was Zentrale für Heimatdienst (ZfH) and its task was to select former officers, generals and admirals of the three military sectors who were “unblemished” and some of whom could be counted among the military resistance against Hitler in the broadest sense of the word. From this group, a team of German experts for military expert exchange with the allied forces was to be established. They were also to represent Germany in negotiations with allied partners. Regardless, some of them were subjected to intense criticism.

As early as April, 25th, 1953, Adenauer had reached his goal and the re-armament of the FRG was a foregone conclusion. It was probably in reaction to this that the Nationale Volksarmee (NVA) was established on January, 18th, 1956.


Back to Central America:

In Belize among the Mayas 🙂

I had already known that Belize was a country without an army. However, I was surprised to learn that the same was true for Costa Rica and Panama. During discussions, I had long been in the habit of mentioning Belize as an example for a country without army. At the time, my argument in the discussion was always countered by others saying that, basically, Belize was just a (hidden) colony of the USA.

That is why I intended to talk to the people living there about the topics #NoArmy and the US dominance. And I was surprised to see how all the people I talked with in these three countries felt not having an army was really something very positive.

Regardless, I can well imagine that the CIA controls these countries. However, the people living there I talked to denied this. To me, they all seemed to be very independent and democratic. They pointed out that their country lives in peace with all other countries of Central America and the rest of the world.

Neither could I detect a US dominance as far as business is concerned. As everywhere, the cars, busses and trucks were from Asia and the EURO was just as welcome as the USD.

This picture was taken at our departure to the Puma waterfall scientific centre at Costa Rica when we started an organized and wonderful trip to the Veragua rainforest.

Our female guide in Costa Rica who accompanied us during a trip starting from the Puerto Limón was able to describe the situation very precisely. She remained in Costa Rica after having been on vacation there. Today, she is a young grandmother, living with her big family and working in charitable projects that want to support soft tourism that will eventually channel the money into the right hands.

But our time in Belize also quite exciting. This is where I noticed that there is still a lot of British colonialism. Belize was also the only country on our trip where the cars were driving on the left side. In Panama, I saw a truly healthy national pride. At least judging by what I felt, the people and the country were not at all controlled by the USA.

But even if this were not true: I personally would prefer being a little under US colonialism to having an army.

This is how the three countries have again become real valid examples for the fact that it is possible to do without an army and probably even to do better without. And this is how, for me, the Puente de las Américas became a symbol of hope and for a peaceful future without weapons.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday December 26th, 2016

Touring Central America

An “Alien” on a Huge Ship.

We returned from our ocean trip on Christmas Eve and already spent two wonderful days in our “home sweet home”. The repercussions of the trip are still with me – now I reflect all those many adventures that happened during fourteen very intense days.

In the last two weeks, we visited eight countries. From La Romana in the Dominican Republic, we went to Jamaica, then Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia and back to La Romana via Santo Domingo.

Just as we had hoped and anticipated, it was pleasantly warm in the Caribbean. Whenever clouds showed up, they were welcome, because the prevented us from getting sunburn, regardless of us basically always staying outside and enjoying the fresh air. The rest of the time, sun and rain switched places frequently, with advantages in favour of the sun. Once in a while, there was quite some wind.

It was night for almost thirteen hours, and I mean a rather dark kind of night. That meant there was always enough time to really get enough sleep. Keeping our balcony door open, we enjoyed the sound of the water at night. More than eleven hours of the day, the sun shone really bright – which was enough time fill with intense adventures.

To be sure, it was a typical “all included” trip on a huge ship with more than 2,000 passengers. There were plenty of animations on diverse big and small stages. As often on cruisers, they tried to make the passengers feel that theirs was a glamorous world of luxury.

As far as we were concerned, we defined the boat trip a little differently and did not organize it in the same way as the majority of passengers. Consequently, we always stayed outdoors and did not eat in the big or small restaurants inside the ship a single time.

Instead, we always ate in one of the two small beer-garden-like open-air restaurants. And it almost went without saying that we never attended one of those many shows that actually fascinated many of our fellow travellers. This is how it became a very simple vacation, just for Barbara and me.

A private “crusader” in Roatán (Honduras).

In the daytime, we spent each day in one of six countries and two days in various places in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Dependent on the situation, we spent six out of ten days away from others, hiking privately and once riding rented bikes. We took up offered trips twice. At night, we were always on the ocean. The same is true for the four ocean days during which we let our souls relax and digested what we had experienced.

Two gigantic ships meeting in Cozumel (Mexico).

During the next few days, I will relate what went through my head in all those days. For instance that we actually visited three countries that do not have their own armies and how we saw that the majority of people living in those countries were very happy and proud of this fact.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday December 24th, 2016

(Deutsch) Frohe Weihnacht

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Thursday December 8th, 2016

Good-Bye Until After Christmas!

And a Happy Christmas to You All!

The picture was taken two years ago when we were rafting in China.

Starting tomorrow, we will be in the Caribbean.

To be sure, I do not feel
“that the time is ripe to begin afresh“!!!

But still, I will be gone for some time. On Christmas Eve, I will be back and meet my children and grandchildren – those of them who are in Munich.

It looks a lot like I will not read any emails until then. My many chat dialogues will get a break and I will probably only rarely be on the internet at all.

During the next two weeks, I will try to live only for Barbara and myself. Many thousand miles from “sweet home”, I will simply ignore all messages from the world. And during that time, I will not publish anything on the IF blog, either (if anything is published, it will be by one of my friends or by my bot).

Normal life as I had it will start again on the evening of Christmas Day. As has been my custom for many years now, I will again spend the evening in the Munich Lustspielhaus to watch Willy Michl (It is well worth clicking onto the link). I will also howl “Silent Night, Holy Night”, listen to the eternal ISARFLIMMERN and enjoy the fact that the days will gradually get longer.

It would be a huge delight for me if I were to meet a few of my friends in the Lustspielhaus on December, 25th for Willy and if we could then do some “exchange of ideas” before the concert and during the interval!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Wednesday December 7th, 2016

Cancelled: #AktMobCmp 2017 will not happen!

actmobcmp_100-300x86#AktMobCmp 2017 – which was scheduled for January, 5th and 6th, 2017, in Unterhaching – has been cancelled. The reasons are:

In 2016, we had almost 30 participants. Regardless of this number being a little on the small side, the last #AktMobCmp was a success. We had hoped to get around 50 participants in 2017.

The reason why we now cancel is simple: so far, the number of registrations is so small that we would have to assume a total of fewer participants than last year. And a two-day barcamp with few participants simply does not justify the rather intense preparatory work.

However, the cancellation for 2017 does not mean that I or we give up or quit. I would really like to try again in 2018. As before, there is the necessity that persons who want to promote a better mobility should network through institutions, clubs and interest groups. And there are so many exciting topics around “future mobility”.

In 2017, we want to discuss these topics, along with “active mobility in everyday life” in evening meetings. We already have good ideas and want to put them into practice with some partners.

Auf viele gute AktMob-Veranstaltungen in 2017

Auf viele gute AktMob-Veranstaltungen in 2017

May there be many good ActMob events in 2017!

We will invite to the events through the central “MeetUp“ and also communicate them through other channels. Maybe this is how we will get enough participants for a second try on the 2017 AktMobCmp. After all, it is quite possible that the lack of more interested persons is due to the timing (vacation time and holiday).

All those who would have liked to attend AktMobCmp 2017 in Unterhaching, please accept my apologies. And, please, let it be an extra motivation for you to come and support us during the evening events in 2017.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Tuesday December 6th, 2016

Soon, I will be electing a Federal Chancellor …

Not true, because basically, I only vote for a party …

Hier mit Klaus Hofeditz bei der Strategie Klausur 2016 von PM-Camp.org in Berlin.

Yours truly with Klaus Hofeditz during the strategy meeting 2016 at the Berlin PM-Camp.org.

… who then, along with others, will decide about the Federal Chancellors. And maybe then the top candidate of the party that got most of the votes will also become Federal Chancellor. But that is not necessarily a foregone conclusion.

For next year’s federal elections, there is a shimmer of hope for my super-ego  #Dumusstwählen. Because my super ego says I, as a person who believes in democracy, have to vote. Yet my conscience forbids me to give my vote to any of the “normal” parties. Consequently, I have a dilemma.

But there is hope: Serdar Somuncu will be a candidate for “die PARTEI”. I looked for information that might tell me if he is a valid alternative. And that gave me the idea of running for the Federal Chancellor candidacy myself.

After all, if I become a candidate, then I will definitely know whom to give my vote. Let me be cynical: it is not all that difficult to become Federal Chancellor. It is probably easier than it has ever been before. After all, Trump, too, managed to become president. And populism is something I am quite good at. Better than some might believe.

But then, at my age (66), I do not at all feel like burdening myself with all the things that a candidacy would involve. And the almost senile candidates, all of whom pretend to be young (not just in the US election campaigns) are really something I abhor.

So:

There will not be a Federal Chancellor Roland Dürre. But perhaps Serdar Somuncu? At least, he likes Woody Allen and Bert Brecht. That means he cannot be all that bad, doesn’t it? Nor do I mind him being Turkish. I rather like people with other cultural backgrounds.

Most likely, he is better qualified for Federal Chancellor than I. After all, I have too much “morbid joy when perverse systems die”.
RMD

About stand-by-jobs, facilitation and driverless underground trains. And about Uli.

I short time ago, I was introduced to Ulrich Sendler. Uli is an “Independent technology analyst” and musician. He writes books (that are even translated into Chinese, where they are best-sellers), gives presentations (judging by what I saw of him, I assume his presentations are rather competent and entertaining) and he also works as a counsellor and moderator. When we met, he told me that he will soon be speaking in Gütersloh on the keynote topic: “Automated Society”. You order a service via internet and the delivery or service will be carried out automatically.

For me, “automated society” and “self-service society” are also “buzz words” often used when people characterize our “new digitalized society” in our “post-fact everyday life”.

These expressions immediately triggered a few association and ideas:

Technology is there to make life and work easier for humans. There is a nice and nowadays often used buzz word for this:
Facilitation!
In Wikipedia, you find the definition: 
Facilitation is any activity that makes tasks for others easy, or tasks that are assisted.

In everyday life, this is responsible for the fact that work humans used to do is now easier because of technological advances. We might even end up having to do nothing at all.

Just think of Lufthansa pilots. Currently, they are often written about in the press because of their passionate attitude towards strikes. Your average poor pilot will only be allowed to actually become active for ten minutes of a long-distance flight, for instance to the Caribbean: when initiating and realizing the start and landing phases. He spends the rest of the time watching the plane fly. The poor pilot is not allowed to relieve his boredom by playing computer games. Presumably, alcohol is just as forbidden as visiting ladies – like stewardesses – in the cockpit. All that remains is boredom.

Wecker1In my vocabulary, these jobs are “stand-by-jobs”. Since I used to be a programmer, this would be like having to watch the computer programming itself and then being allowed five minutes to evaluate if the resulting program is what it should be. To me, such a job description sounds rather cruel. It is quite possible that such a stand-by job will cause depressions.

Two decades ago, there was a phase of about two weeks after I had switched to a new employer during which there was nothing to do for me. I sat in my office from morning to evening, was terribly bored and tried with all my might to do something meaningful. And the digits of the clock seemed to really, really creep.

Never again in my work-life was I as unhappy as then.

Münchner U-Bahnhof Dietlindenstraße (U6) - Urheber: FloSch - Eigenes Werk unter CC BY 2.5 (2005)

Munich Underground station Dietlindenstraße (U6) – by FloSch, under CC BY 2.5 published in Wikipedia (2005)

One of the systems the Stadtwerke München (SWM) supervise is the Munich Underground Network. The SWM are intelligent employers. They know that humans do not appreciate “stand-by-work”. Underground train drivers, too, have become “stand-by-workers”.

But the Stadtwerke want happy underground train drivers who are motivated to do their jobs. A short time ago, I learned that all underground train drivers have to exit at every station to control how full the train is. And after this has been done successfully, they have to signal that the train can continue. That is an important task.

This activity was introduced to make the platforms safer. Above all, however, it is a measure that serves the driver, because in this way his job gets more responsible and diverse, and he even gets a little exercise. That is good both for the body and the soul.

Except that in Nuremberg, the underground trains have been moving without a driver for many years now. And those in Lyon have been doing so for decades. And in both cases, the model seems to work quite fine, actually even better than with a driver.
May my readers come to their own conclusions.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Yesterday, I used the MVG Bus number 210 from Neuperlach Station to Ottobrunn, Jahnstrasse. The driver sat in his dark cabin and was rather isolated. All contact between vehicle and passengers was automated: the display and announcement of stops. The driver is reduced to being the one behind the wheel. He will stop the bus whenever he can see someone at the bus stop or if someone has pressed the button inside the bus. On this evening, I was lucky, because the driver drove very sensibly. He never accelerated too abruptly or stomped on the breaks with too much force. I found that rather agreeable. But there are also some drivers who really let their hair down. That is when you think a self-driven bus might have its advantages. Technologically speaking, I am sure it is already possible.