Roland Dürre
Saturday September 30th, 2017

Isn’t Life Nice if You Are Not on the Phone All The Time …

Sometimes I am not sure why, but it seems that, these days, I never have time to write. Perhaps it is because I enjoy life very much and take plenty of time off. Which means that IF Blog suffers.

Consequently, for reasons of efficiency, I use ideas I discussed with other persons as a basis for my articles. Which is what happens today.

For instance, if I have a new business partner and we plan to exchange ideas quite frequently (cooperating), then I ask him not to send me emails but instead to switch to a chatter of his choice. And I start a thread for us.

Besides, I ask my business partner to only call in case of emergency (for instance if I am late for an appointment) or if there is something really important that absolutely needs to be talked about immediately.

If necessary, I initiate a shared document or a shared documentation room and then the cooperation can start.

Once in a while, it is necessary to communicate synchronously. It can happen either “f2f “ (face to face“) or, depending on the topic to be discussed, in a nice coffee shop or in a working environment (quiet office with white walls and preferably white tables).

If the location-time threshold is too high, then “f2f” is too much of a nuisance and we use telecommunication technology instead. The worst-case scenario would be the classic telephone, mostly we use the videophone. We synchronize our appointments in the chat, but only for the near future. Because appointments in the far-away future would unnecessarily impair our freedom. And who knows if, a few weeks from now, a meeting is necessary at all?

If we are a team (more than two persons), then the good telephone conference is out of the question. In that case, I usually insist on videophones. Because I consider it rather sub-optimal to have a telephone conference with several persons simultaneously.

🙂 Incidentally, a telephone call is nothing other than synchronous transfer of voice over IP.

But here comes my article:


My mobile number is public knowledge. It is on my internet page. It is easy to find me there. Luckily, nobody calls me, not even bad bots that, allegedly, visit my website all the time in order to do this kind of thing. The number is also part of my signature and I still send far too many emails. Because there are so many persons who are immune to learning and insist on email, even sending files (especially word documents) via email.

So much about internet nonsense

Image by Christian and Daniel (©
Visual-Braindump 2016) during the last Dornbirn PM Camp.

But even in normal circumstances, the telephone does not ring often. My friends only call me in emergencies, because they know that interrupting people through the telephone is
not just impolite but also detrimental to the person you call. If the telephone rings all the time, I cannot concentrate on my work. And I do not want to throw away the most precious commodity I have: time.

So I rarely use the telephone. For instance in order to exchange ideas at a pre-arranged time. Which, then, will happen quickly and efficiently.

More and more often, I replace the classic telephone by videophones, face time, hangout, skype or some such. Simply because then I can see the persons I communicate with, and vice versa. We sit in front of the computer anyway, because, during our exchanges, we also trade information on another level (perhaps visually or audio). And then we write the results down while we talk. Mostly, we also write minutes, not because we need to prove something later, but because we want to preserve our results and conclusions.

If I were to talk on the phone all the time – as I frequently see it around me – I would manage to do only a small fraction of the things I actually do.

And that would mean I wold not have any time at all left for writing IF Blog articles. Or to travel and see nice places.
Some people I know, especially if they work in huge enterprises, cannot work during the day at all because of all the meetings.

They do the work at night. They talk on the phone during the two hours they spend sitting in their cars. Because this is rather practical, isn’t it? And then they complain that they have no leisure time left. Sooner or later, they will suffer from a burnout. This is not what I want to happen to me.

Consequently, my telephone is on “do not disturb” for 12 hours each day. Then no incoming call can disturb me. If I actively monitor my telephone, I, of course, notice that someone tried to call me. And if necessary, I can call back. And then I enjoy being a nuisance, because, after all, the caller, too, had accepted that his call might have been a nuisance to me.
Well, some people annoy me. So much on cell-phone etiquette or #newwork 4.0.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Friday September 22nd, 2017

Krampfhennenreport #1: VerbraucherschützerInnen

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Friday September 15th, 2017

My USP :-)

What is my value?

When I was young, some adults called me a good for nothing who, they were sure, would never amount to anything. One of them was my mother. She said it to my face more than once. At the time, it annoyed and hurt me. On the other hand, it was not so bad, because I definitely preferred becoming a good-for-nothing to becoming the same type of adult person I sometimes saw in my vicinity. In my mother’s eyes, those were definitely no good-for-nothings. And it must be said that eventually, I, the black sheep in the herd (as I often felt) did not turn out too bad, anyway.

Being able to drink your beer in peace is of huge value.

Today, I voice my opinion on many topics, often give presentations and impulses, inspire young and older, female and male persons. This is how I want to help them towards becoming a little happier and more successful.
Some young start-ups and also some already quite established enterprises can rely on me as an actively involved party. I help them to find the right questions. Because these are the requirement for change and innovation.

I build networks for people all the time (if I believe they should be networked) and then I am happy if everybody benefits.

Once in a while, I ask myself:
Am I qualified to do it?
It is a question I myself cannot answer.

But, during the thinking process, I at least found my personal USP (“Unique Selling Proposition“).

I owe my unique selling proposition to a combination of three specialties of my life-line:

  • Firstly: I have been working with, at and for computers since 1969. The Germans call it informatics. During the first ten years (in the 1970ies), I mostly did “industrial informatics”. Consequently, I missed out on the “toy” computers Commodore and Atari to some extent. As soon as UNIX found its way to me (or I found my way to UNIX), I caught up in the pc sector. That was in the 1980ies. During those years, I did many things. For instance, I had an intense involvement with several operation systems, such as process computers, communications computers, main frames and distributed data processing. At the time, it was called MDT and had originated at companies like Kienzle, Nixdorf,  Olivetti and, of course, also Siemens. I was also part of software developing teams for remote data processing, storage, banks, transaction monitors and many other applications. And in the process, I used and sometimes also developed various assemblers and higher languages.
My personal highlight was the development of a window manager where I was part of the developers’ team. It ran both on graphic and digit-based end devices and was called Collage. Collage was also a Siemens AG product. However, as was – unfortunately – so often the case during the phase of the slow downfall of the sector data processing at Siemens AG, it had no chance on the market
    Matters continued in the same way and this is how I basically experienced everything that is important in digital life first-hand. This is why I call myself – not just in jest – an IT pioneer of the second generation. The honour of having been part of the first generation belongs to the founding fathers of electronic calculating systems: Konrad Zuse and my first informatics teacher in 1969, Professor F. L. Bauer of TH Munich (today TUM).
    In the 1990ies, my programming shoes were hung on the wall in more than just the symbolic sense. I remained true to IT – well, nothing else was imaginable – and I tried to remain up-to-date as far as possible when it came to digitalization.
  • Secondly: all my life, I was extremely lucky in that I always learned a lot, especially during those phases of my life that came after school and university (unfortunately, university was not at all where I learned a lot)! Mathematics certainly helped me to remain a critical spirit. However, in many fields, I acquired the most precious knowledge initially from older persons and later also from persons my own age and younger. 
Quite a few teachers, also outside my professional field, became friends with me. Examples are Klaus-Jürgen Grün and Rupert Lay. There were other great persons too who accompanied me as teachers. It started with my time at Softlab – where I had a very wise boss. I had to attend “personality-promoting” seminars, because it was a requirement if you wanted a managerial career (at the time, I still wanted a career). From that time, I remember an enterprise that called itself TPM (Training Psychologic Management). It was situated in Frankfurt and their founder was named Uhlenbrock (or something that sounded similar). He was in charge of my first seminar on the beautiful lake Starnberger See, from which I really personally benefited a lot. In those seminars, I not only learned from the trainers, but also from the other participants I met. 
I also want to thank the many colleagues whose professional competence I looked up to and from whom I learned so very much for the craft. Later (in the 1990ies), I often went to workshops with Simon Grand of RISE, an institute at Hochschule St. Gallen. Again, I met many nice persons and great enterprises and had terrific verbal exchanges with them.
  • 
I spent the last ten years mostly on Barcamps, besides playing an active role for the development and propagation of PM-Camps. I had a great time and met even more wonderful people than in the years before.
    Last not least, I also have to thank my children. It made me truly happy that I was given seven children. More often than not, I believe that I learned more from and through my children than from all the rest. Consequently, I know that living and learning are synonymous.
    As long as you live, you learn.
    And as long as you learn, you are alive!

  • Thirdly: I have always been a revolutionist who got considerably more criticism than praise for his “strange” opinions. Today, I have a positive explanation: I think that total breaking in, as it was practiced on children as early as during the 1950ies, did not manage to erase everything in me. A bit of autonomy, joy of life and basic trust remained in me. And quite a few attempts at indoctrination were in vain.
    Well, when I was an employee at Siemens and Softlab, I soon discovered that this was not my world. And I had the wish to become an entrepreneur and was lucky enough to make a success of it. Consequently, I had the chance to build my own world, the InterFace Connection GmbH
    The first ten years were like a dream. Our success came around almost effortlessly and we went beyond all borders. Unfortunately, I later made a number of entrepreneurial and human mistakes. And a few times, luck just was not with me. The enterprise survived these misfortunes quite well – and I now have a few more experiences of the kind: “what you should not do” . I am happy to let others benefit from my own experiences.

So I will continue for a few more years and enjoy doing so. And a little feedback will always make me happy. 
Especially positive feedback.

RMD

Roland Dürre
Wednesday September 13th, 2017

Entrepreneur’s Diary #123 – Appraisal Interviews

Evening Event BICCnight “it at media“ in the foyer of the Funkhaus Bayern. München, 22/07/2011 picture by Stephan Goerlich

For today’s entrepreneur’s diary, I chose a very banal topic: The Appraisal Interview.

Together with Wolf Geldmacher, I founded the InterFace Connection GmbH in 1984. Immediately, we had ten successful years as the producers of the software HIT-CLOU and quickly became the leaders on the market for text systems on UNIX in Europe. Because we were a great team. It was a true delight. In retrospective, those were the ten best years of my professional career.

Before we founded InterFace Connection, I had worked for Siemens and Softlab. I wanted to adopt all the things I found good in those enterprises in my own firm. It was quite a number of things. However, there were many more things that did not find my approval and I consequently wanted to handle them differently – those were the more important things.

Among other things, I am talking the chance to decide what tasks were delegated to whom and also of deciding what, when, how and where the work had to be done. At Siemens, the delegation of tasks was “from top to bottom”. That was not what I wanted. And during the first ten years, thanks to a high degree of self-organization and a huge amount of self-responsibility both of the team and the people at InterFace Connection, this worked (very) well.

Both Siemens and Softlab had things I liked. For instance the yearly appraisal interview. It gave you the chance to speak openly with the boss of a hierarchical system at least once every year. I found this a good idea and did the same at the Connection. Regardless of the fact that we always were an enterprise of “open doors” – which means that all employees could come and pour out their sorrows over me and Wolf at any time. Today, I still recommend the “open doors”. However, I no longer recommend the appraisal interviews. The reason is that you do not need them.

At InterFace Connection, this is what happened: after three months (shortly before your probation time ended), there was the first appraisal interview and then, always before a years was over, there was the next. Thus, depending on the time a new person was employed, the interviews took place all the year round. There was also a structure for the interviews. Looking back upon the last year was a considerable part of the interview, then came the exchange of feedback and eventually the negotiations of a new income. I always asked my employees to be well prepared and saw to it that I, too, was always well prepared.

Basically, it went quite well. Except that a few wise-cracks thought it was perhaps unfair. After all, the entrepreneurial context of one month might be totally different from another month. And this could mean that a rise in income based on the current situation might not be fair.

We reacted to this and re-scheduled all (!) the interviews to take place at the end of the year. This had considerable disadvantages and made the topic a sad one. The stress level in November and December climbed another notch. That caused lack of motivation and exhaustion. Nor did the direct comparison make things any easier. At the time, I did not yet understand that there is no such thing as justice (or: there are many definitions of justice).

Perhaps one could construct a “justice based on need”. But justice based on achievement is definitely nonsense.

Today, I believe you cannot set dates for interviews of any sort by following a rule. Let alone if the date is in the far-away future. No, you always have to have an interview close to the occasion, when you have a good reason or at least a current situation that allows or demands it.

Especially communication between humans always has to take place when the necessity arises. For instance, dissatisfaction must never be conserved until the yearly appointment in order to then open the frustration nozzle.

More money agreed upon in ritualized interviews is only the second-best thing. It is better to talk about distributing the success exactly at the time the success happened. And it would be best to let those decide who actually were the ones who made the success possible. At team level.

Wages are a difficult topic. I already wrote about it quite a few times and probably will soon again write about it. Because it is not really goal-oriented that, in Germany, you get more money every year until you are quite old – up to retirement – and, on the other hand, decreasing wages are not really possible during the active time of a work contract. Simply because the achievement curve, even of a programmer, cannot point upward all your life long. But I will write about this at another time.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
For more articles of my entrepreneur’s diary, click here: Drehscheibe!

Hans Bonfigt
Monday September 11th, 2017

Autobahn 2.0: Der neugrüne Rassismus – Hully Gully

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Sunday September 10th, 2017

Another “Coming Out“ – #BTW2017

A cynical party-parody. Unfortunately, I mean it seriously, which makes it a sad thing.

In two weeks, I will again have to vote.

Perhaps 50 years ago.

My civil “super-ego” forces me to go to the elections. After all, I do believe that democracy is doubtless one of the better political systems, even if ours has been seriously perverted and consequently suffered huge damage due to “election marketing”, the dominance of lobbyism when it comes to legislation and government and a party oligarchy.

Besides, the party I vote for will not only get my vote but also one Euro from the state (if certain requirements are met ).

Consequently, I have spent quite some time already in preparation for the next election Sunday. Here is the current state of my personal evaluation. I chose the exclusion principle:

For historical reasons, I cannot vote for the big “people’s parties“ CDU and CSU. They both are responsible for the German re-armament against the expressed wish of the German people. In quite a goal-oriented way, it was prepared by the protagonist Adenauer immediately after WW-II and then realized as soon as possible in a fashion that I would call “criminal”. 
In doing so, they failed to take advantage of a unique historical chance. A chance that perhaps no other country except Germany ever had – which was due to its miserable history in the 20th century. As a consequence of the establishment of the “Bundeswehr”, the GDR followed suit three years later with the creation of the “Volksarmee” – and that was the moment up from which two German states, both heavily armed, confronted each other on either side of a brutal border. 
Without re-armament, the revival of the German weapons industry would not have been possible, either. Another result was forced labour that they called “compulsory military service”. It cost me 18 months of my life. 
Moreover, both “C-parties” have – to this day – seen to it that the political and social characteristics of the FRG are such that it became an opportunistic and egoistic welfare system. Protection of your property has become the highest social value. Even the “C” in the name cannot camouflage that fact. 
Under CDU dominated governments, the state became a marionette of the industry, the destruction of the environment (air, water, soil, nature) was accepted and even promoted (!), as for instance can be seen in the war on the streets. It became the ruling task of the educational system that young people should be turned into consumers and trained to be the labouring masses for the industry. Social solidarity was misinterpreted and freedom was sacrificed. . 
Parties that, to this day, believe that all these measures were good will not get my vote.

Neither can I, these days, vote for the SPD and Green Party, because they not only supported all these things, but also must be made responsible for making foreign German Armed Forces activities possible. At the time, the red-green coalition broke a taboo:
The German Armed Forces were no longer exclusively for defence, but “in order to take world-wide responsibility”. Consequently, that was the time when the FRG started to not only export weapons but also war. 
Unfortunately, if you take a close look at history, the polemic rhyme: “Who was the traitor, social democrats?” is only too true for the SPD. Even my agreeing with the ideal of social democracy cannot make up for this. 
As I see it, the Green Party developed from an idealistic-moralistic party to become an indoctrinated event – besides, I observe that the change from being an opposition to becoming a reigning party took place in an exceptionally foul way: ideals were sacrificed for positions and power.

I do not want to give my vote to the FDP. I am not really familiar with their negative historic achievements because I never took great notice of the party. However, in my perception, the FDP is and always was a party that – with the exception of a few protagonists – always acted rather opportunistic. It also basically always functioned as a party of patronage. And they received even more huge donations from industry than the other aforementioned parties. Besides: if someone demands and propagates FREEDOM yet does not know the meaning of the word, then I do not want to support them.

So what other parties do we have?

Currently, the AfD is rather successful. Well, I need not give reasons in this article why I cannot and will note vote for them. Just like the NPD is out of the question for me. Luckily, it seems like the NPD is no longer relevant. Regardless of the fact that, for reasons I cannot follow, the aforementioned parties constantly seem to try and forbid the NPD, rather than the AfD.

Next, let us take a look at the “Freien Wähler“ and the Freie Bürger Union (FBU). In Wikipedia, several groups of voters  and one small party call themselves “Freie Bürger Union“. They are present in various German cities and constituencies. Bavaria is a regional centre of these groups. And: they consist of bourgeois conservative or rightist-liberally  oriented regional communal politicians, activists and sometimes former representatives of the CDU/CSU who are no longer party members. I cannot give them my vote. 
Among other things, the Freien Wähler want to strengthen municipal self-administration. Their given reason for becoming candidates both on county and state level is that the politics of county and state undermine the independence of the municipalities The party is in favour of separate financial responsibility for the municipalities. On the European level, the party demands that excluding a region must become a set rule in parliament. I cannot vote for them.

So now I need to discuss the “Piraten”. According to Wikipedia, this party considers itself the party of the Information Society and thus as part of the international movement for participation when it comes to the change, they give high priority to “digital revolution” and consequently the information society. I rather like that. In fact, I already voted for the Pirates once in the past. To me, they seemed like a party full of values that, luckily, did not have a programmatic approach. Instead, they basically want to provide their know-how on digitalization, which is a focal point of their agenda. I also knew some members of the Pirate party. They were small entrepreneurs or else freelancers. Some of them were quite nice. 
Then, however, the Pirates thought they had to write a program and thus give up the principle of free actions following the best possible knowledge. In my eyes, this was how they exchanged their agile souls for the hope of success. Ever since then (as a matter of course), their development was in one direction only: down. For me, they were no longer a party I could vote for. What a pity.

Now I already analysed 10 (in words: ten) parties and none of them can get my vote! Am I heading towards abstaining? Will I let my election-Euro go unused? Well, not all is lost, because there are a few parties left.

I find Die Linke in Wikipedia. It says that Die Linke (aka  Linkspartei )  was created through the merging of the SPD splitter WASG and the Linkspartei.PDS. The latter is a result of a re-naming of the SED successor PDS in 2005. This is how Die Linke suffers from a stigma that, to this day, has prevented it from becoming acceptable in society. Allegedly, there are still numerous SED and Stasi people on board, although this seems unlikely to me, if only for demographic reasons. If I were the Wahlomat kind of person, I would probably vote for “Die Linke”, because in their program, I find quite a few things that I absolutely agree with. 
On the other hand, I own a small but industriously earned amount of money – and there is a historic fear in me that the communists might wish to take my millions away from me. As they say: “Only the most stupid calves will vote for their own butchers.“
Apropos calves: there is a Song, but it is directed against the AfD – rather than against Die Linke. However, I do not wish to be a stupid calf.
On the other hand, perhaps I should vote for Die Linke, after all? With modern “democratic honesty”, you should probably vote for the party that you like best. Consequently, I cannot discount the possibility of giving them my vote. Albeit without enthusiasm. But then, enthusiasm left me a long time ago.

But I have not yet reached that stage. I keep looking. Riding my bike to Unterhaching, I see a poster advertising “Die Grauen”. I am thinking of my sparse pension. If I had nothing on top of it, I would be really poorly off. Regardless of the fact that I paid the highest possible pension insurance for decades.
However: Die Grauen have the slogan “For all Generations”. What a disappointment. They are not in favour of us retired people, after all.
However, I find it nice, because I have children and grandchildren. And I want them, too, to be well off. 
According to Wikipedia, “Die Grauen” see themselves in the tradition of the movement Graue Panther that was founded in the 1970ies by Trude Unruh. As opposed to this movement, the party does not see itself as a party for the elderly, but instead has an all-encompassing political approach that they also want to see reflected in the name tag amendment. They formulate their philosophy in the foreword of the party program: “In a global world that moves faster and faster, Die Grauen want to combine the energy of youth with the experience of the elderly and form a society worth living in”. Well, this seems to sound nice. For me, however, it contains too many buzzwords. So I will gladly forget Die Grauen.

I start getting desperate. I found a dozen parties – and only one of them is even remotely an option. But – as they say: never give up. If you fall down, you have to get up again. Clean your mouth and continue.

So I continue. And lo and behold, I see a poster with a very special message:
Don’t be a Horst!

That is something I understand immediately. I definitely would not wish to be one. When he was Minister of Health in Berlin, he committed enough crimes. And now he is king of Bavaria. 
Except: the poster advertises “Die Partei”. According to Wikipedia, DIE PARTEI  is a party for work, for a constitutional state, for animal protection, for elite promotion and for basis-democratic initiatives (Apronym: Die PARTEI). It is a German small party that was founded in 2004 by a few editors of the satire magazine Titanic and distinctly has parody character.“ 
We also read: Die PARTEI meets the legal requirements formulated in the Parteiengesetz. However, some doubt that their program is actually meant seriously. Among other things, they imitate characteristics and electoral campaign methods used by other parties and occasionally some of the members are seen on other party’s events.

Well, basically I am the type of reader who reads POSTILLON, but you must never be too one-sided. “Die Partei“ is also called the satire party. When I hear satire, I think cabaret. And immediately, I think of people like Bruno Jonas, Claus Wagner, Dieter Hildebrandt, Gerhard Polt, Jörg Hube, Josef Hader, Georg Schramm, Maximilian „Max“ Uthoff, Sigi Zimmerschied, Urban Priol (Pelzig) and Werner Schneyder. Not to forget the much-loved Hanns Dieter Hüsch. These are all people I saw many times and some of them I was personally acquainted with. They all absolutely impressed me with their sensitivity, their sharp intellect and their precise logics. I admire how they were able to retain their sense of humour in the face of everything. These are people I managed to have honest discussions with quite quickly.

Most of the cabaret people I saw on TV or when I went to their shows made a huge impression on me. Maybe it makes sense, after all, to actually vote for a “satire party”. Especially if such a party offers itself to frustrated non-voters who need to be persuaded to vote at all? 
Unfortunately, this party, too, has a shadow looming over it. A short time ago, I followed a constructive facebook discussion about whether or not anybody can call himself responsible if he votes for a satire party in times like ours, where the social spiral rapidly points downwards and huge problems loom over the horizon. Because times are basically the exact opposite of hilarious. 
As I see it, this is a serious argument. But then, maybe we should solve the problems with serious humour? So now I found another party besides Die Linke that might qualify as a recipient of my cross and one Euro.

However, I want more. This is not the way to get on. So now I use another concept of thought and ask myself what was the last relevant social change in Bavaria I considered progress and which party initiated it.

The answer is easy – it was Non-Smokers’ Protection. In Bavaria, it has now even been enforced on the Octoberfest, which is something that seemed to be unthinkable for a long time. Consequently, this year, I can really look forward to the Octoberfest that takes place at the same time as the elections. I will spend the evening of election day with friends drinking in a smoke-free environment. In Bavaria, the protection of non-smokers was initiated after a plebiscite “Non-Smokers’s Protection” on July, 4th,2010 after a successful  petition for a referendum  “For true non-smokers’ protection!“. The petition had aimed at changing the Bavarian Health Protection Law (Gesundheitsschutzgesetz, GSG). As a consequence, they eventually installed a ban on smoking  in all pubs without exception. The C party had been against it on the grounds that, allegedly, the entire Bavarian restaurant sector would be ruined. The initiative had come from Sebastian Frankenberger and the ÖDP.
Well, my discussion of parties had actually not yet mentioned the ÖDP. Incidentally, their program is a fairly good match to my ideas. However, I sometimes fear that there might be a lot of protestant frugality and catholic saintliness in this party. However, as long as the goals are the right ones and I am not forced to become a catholic…

So now I found three parties that might actually be worthy of my vote: Die Linke, the Partei and the ÖDP. During the next few weeks, I will gather some more information and think about it – and then I will decide. After all, I know full well that decisions are always made under uncertainty.

And now, for the time being, there is an end to me “outings”.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Today, when I rode my bike home, I saw a DKP poster at the Ottobrunn S-Bahn station. It said: “More Income, Less Armament”. Well, that sounds reasonable and rational. But can anybody vote for DKP? Somehow or other, that would be strange.

Klaus Hnilica
Friday September 8th, 2017

Pure Slug Terror

Carl and Gerlinde (Instalment # 53)

Somehow or other, Carl could very well sympathize with the murderous ideas that were reflected in the eyes of his neighbour Konrad whenever anybody uttered the word ’slug’!

After all, this peace-loving owner of solar panels had a spacious garden – including numerous vegetable plants and a glamorous flower bed. Just like Carl himself! And like him, Konrad, too, did not want to poison his family by using enormous amounts of the snail and slug bait ’metaldehyde’, did he?
So what to do? After all, every summer, as soon as dusk neared, these disgusting, finger-thick, brown ’slime-slinkers’ started their silent attack on defenceless zucchini plants and freshly planted marigolds like modern guerrilla hordes? And only when morning dawned and they had mercilessly eaten up everything, they dastardly retreated into their ivy-covered hideouts?

So it was no surprise that not only Konrad, but also many other garden owners patrolled their gardens like South-American murderer brigades equipped with headlamps, secateurs and razor-sharp spades. They did their murderous craft with exactly the same stealth and ruthlessness as those slimy ’slug monsters’ did theirs!

Yes – Carl had to admit that he would really have enjoyed taking part in such revenge crusades against this ’slug pestilence’. And that he had actually already taken his torch and his secateurs and been secretly at it when Gerlinde was not at home in the evening. But provoking a ’permanent crisis’ with Gerlinde for this reason – that was definitely something he did not want at all!

After all, his darling Gerlinde was a passionate animal rights activist and could not treat any animal poorly, which is also why she mostly only ate vegetarian! Except if an attack of hunger forced her to spontaneously fry a mountain of pork schnitzels or a leg of lamp. Or, even worse, if one of those sneaky gnats or horse flies was bold enough to NOT bite Carl on his lower arm but instead her on her lily-white neck: those were the moments when she actually was able to do some deathly beating!

My God – what a fuss she had made about it when, two years ago, he had tried to fight the slug terror with beer traps. He had actually filled several jam jars with beer and sunk them into the soil in the garden at strategic points! And – just like he had intended – said jars had been full of drowned slugs in the morning. Basically, one would think that was not a bad way to die – drowning in ’Krombacher’ – was it? But his super-sensitive Gerlinde had a totally different opinion!

She almost suffered a yelling attack when he, imprudently, showed her one of the well-filled jars with the ’slimy’ slugs in it – before she disposed of them into the sewage system.

Well, it must be admitted – they did not look particularly appetizing!
But then, according to everything he had read about it, these poor snails with their minuscule brains had not suffered very much, either.

Since, however, Gerlinde, even in discussions that lasted several hours, could not be persuaded, he soon realized that, even if, perhaps, the fight against the ’naked slug’ might be won in this fashion, the price would be the loss of his ’naked Gerlinde’! And that was definitely a price he was not willing to pay. It was better that these nice snails kept eating up all the vegetables in the garden – if that was what they and Gerlinde wanted!

Totally unexpectedly, the solution of the problem came from Gerlinde’s friend Hannelore! Because Hannelore’s animal-loving Kurt had developed the following procedure against the evil slug: in the morning, he strolled through the dewy grass carrying parts of yesterday’s FAZ and collected two or three well-saturated slugs on their slimy return trip with the big double-pages of the newspaper. He added the occasional half-nibbled leaf of funkia and then formed an easily manageable box of several layers that he encircled with rubber rings.

These daily three or four boxes with still living slugs would then soundlessly disappear in the biological waste container in summer. And with the exception of the slugs, everybody was happy!

Of course the layer of paper for the ’slug post’ should not be too thin, because otherwise everything would be slimed through in no time and the cute slugs would sit on the underside of the biological waste container on the next morning. Then the entire packaging procedure would have to start again until the waste was emptied next Monday.

Well- and that was exactly the weakness of this ’slug elimination program’ designed by Carl’s animal friends!

Carl suddenly discovered a hitherto unknown sensitivity in himself when some lone ’slimy plant eaters’ sat on the border or the lid of the biological waste container and slumbered in heavenly peace!

Strange? – all of a sudden he felt pity for these slimy monsters that yesterday had still eaten into his zucchini plants and he embarrassingly found that he no longer had the strength to send them back into the container after they had so courageously liberated themselves from their ’ FAZ incarceration’ . Instead, it felt almost like a compulsion to give them back their freedom. …

Gerlinde and Hannelore actually even cried a few tears when, a short time ago and after his first glass of beer, he admitted this weakness of his. They would not have believed it possible that the otherwise sometimes quite rough Carl was capable of such sensitivity. It was quite sweet – really sweet … …

After his third bottle of beer, Carl found it just as sweet as his two admirers. However, he considered it more prudent to perhaps not mention that he actually had released the few who managed to break through into freedom – but, of course, freedom meant the so much more attractive freedom in his neighbour’s garden– and not in his garden!

And since slugs are by nature rather discreet creatures, there was certainly no danger that this small secret they shared with him would see the light of day any time soon. …

KH
(Translated by EG)