Hans Bonfigt
Friday September 22nd, 2017

Krampfhennenreport #1: VerbraucherschützerInnen

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Hans Bonfigt
Monday May 22nd, 2017

Wut essen Seele auf…

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Saturday April 15th, 2017

A Day in the Life of a Bicyclist – SHOPPING

New series, because active mobility is important to me.

Once in a while, I go shopping. For instance when I need milk for my coffee. After all, you only get top-quality coffee froth with excellent fresh milk. My favourite is the 3.8% fat milk you get at demeter. It is available in brown one-litre glass bottles. For me, it is important that the container is glass, because products like milk in the tetra pack or yoghurt in plastic containers are a no-go in my book as a matter of principle these days. Just like I also never buy beer in tin cans.

Close to my house, the milk I want is only available at a bio-market called denns. It opened some time ago on the Putzbrunner Strasse in Ottobrunn, not far from where I live. The shop is part of a bio-chain with the same name. They are probably quite the experts when it comes to really earn money with the label “bio” (unless they become their own enemies by offering poor service in their chain stores).

Careful! You do not necessarily get what you read on the label.

The entrance seems to welcome you, but that is a misconception. As soon as you enter, you see the PAYBACK machine to the right. – PAYBACK  are those who currently do the “ONLINE SHOPPING HAPPINESS WEEKS“. In my book, PAYBACK is a modern way of bullshitting customers. And as I see it, bullshitting customers is not really something that should go with “bio”, is it?

My other experiences in the same place, too, are in accordance with “pretty is what pretty does”. When at the check-out, I also always have (too) long to wait and the service persons are not particularly friendly, either (at least as far as I was concerned until April 2017). There is exotic fruit and non-exotic fruit at the wrong time of year. Everything looks too much “bio, bio, bio” to me. On the whole, it seems more appearances and show than anything else.

Usually, most of the customers come shopping in their big limousines, although they live just around the corner. That, too, is something I would not associate with the attribute “bio”. Here is a metaphor: the typical customers are not do-gooders wearing Birkenstock. Instead, we are talking the chic super-mom who, driving her SUV, looks more like a super-bum. However, some customers come by bike – and so do I.

In my opinion, a rather exciting criterion for determining “customer friendliness” is how bike-riding customers are treated. There is at least some symbolic meaning to be deduced from the fact that only the most simple of – alibi – bike racks can be found at a rather remote place. And if said bike rack does not even have a roof, although the entire building has a long overhang, then this is also a message.

The small bike rack is rather remotely positioned and has no roof (and currently it is not overcrowded).

But what is the “evil cyclist” supposed to do when there are many customers and the “cyclists’ parking” is chaotically overcrowded?

;-)Then we evil cyclists will park our bikes on a common parking space – if there is a vacancy. And why not?

Two bikes belonging to two persons (the same is actually true for three or four of them) only need as much parking space as one car (with one person).

The highly motorized Denns customers will probably not like this “evil” behaviour.

Generally, many car drivers get annoyed with all those bikes on parking places. Some of them get so upset that they start yelling at people – and, depending on the personality and stress level of the car driver, said yelling might be intense, aggressive or even offensive.

There is enough space with overhangs for dry bike parking, but they are reserved for more important things.

Whenever someone starts this kind of trouble, I remain polite. I do not reply to the accusing words of the car driver with my favourite expletive “What do you want, you car driver!”, neither do I stoop so deep as remaining unperturbed and saying something like “Again, you can see that car drivers are definitely the lowest of the low”.

In former times, that is what I would have done. But I have become older and more sedate. Consequently, I give them a very friendly smile and tell them ever so politely that “parking places, after all, are for parking vehicles, aren’t they? And aren’t bicycles also vehicles?”. Naturally, if there is a parking place that costs fees, I am more than willing to pay.

Trouble is pre-programmed. More and more bicycles will appear, among them also some for transport of heavy material. There is no other alternative if we want shopping to be possible in the cities. Even now, the problem – no bicycle parking – arises more and more often, not just in front of shops with many customers, for instance discounters, but generally in the public domain.

Even today, there are many shops where cyclists are appreciated and taken seriously. Here is a beautiful example, also quite close to my home, in Neubiberg.

At REWE near the Neubiberg S-bahn train station, the cyclists’ parking is directly next to the entrance and has a roof.

At REWE near the Neubiberg S-bahn train station, the cyclists’ parking is directly next to the entrance and has a roof.

At the Neubiberg REWE, there used to be just a very small parking place for bicycles. Now the management reacted and installed a big, roofed area for bicycles right next to the entrance!

There is just one downside: whenever many customers are shopping here, the new and really not very small bike rack is also too small. However, you could easily remedy this by parking in the second row as well (with a passage between the two rows). For the users, it would be easier if there were a marking on the tarmac to indicate where the second row is supposed to begin. How about this idea of mine to improve matters? Basically, a cyclist does not need a bike rack when shopping. The marked free area that cyclists should then use with discipline is a lot more important.

In this place, the friendliness towards cyclists is symptomatic for the entire service. Whenever I shop at the Neubiberg REWE, I notice with approval how nice the shop looks inside and how friendly and eager to help all the service persons are. Maybe there is a correlation between “cyclist-friendliness” and “good service for the customers”? And probably being cyclist-friendly is more and more profitable for the shops! Because there are more and more cyclists who have more money than many car drivers – and who very much appreciate quality.

RMD
(Translated by Evelyn)

Roland Dürre
Thursday March 2nd, 2017

My Friend, the Marten.

My Friend is Back!

 

Ermine (Mustela erminea) in summer pelt.

I have been driving cars since I was eighteen. And through all those many years, I had one arch-enemy: the legally protected marten.

Countless numbers of times, I wanted to start my car – and it did not start. Because that animal had bitten through a wire.

As the years went by, I spent quite a lot of money on the repairs. And there were also many things I tried in order to prevent it from happening! Every evening, I put a grate underneath the car (and in the morning, I had to remove it again). I tried quite a few voodoo methods, which were just as useless as high-tech in the form of small ultrasonic devices in the car. I truly tried everything in order to keep my enemy away from my car.

Here you can see a stone marten. Whereas the picture above shows a weasel, who also belongs to the marten family.

Now I finally won the battle. I no longer own a car. And that saves me a lot of money. And besides, I no longer have the problem that I despair in the morning because my car does not start.

Once in a while, I have a flat tyre when I want to climb my bike. That is not a problem, because I can easily take another bike. After all, I have several. And whenever I have a puncture, it is not because of the marten. Mostly, it is because of a glass splinter or a sharp piece of split or some small piece of metal.

Consequently, I made peace with the marten. At least that is what I thought!

And what happened yesterday? In the morning, my heating system notified me that my solar water warming panels are defunct. The mechanic said the damage is not covered by the maintenance contract because it was caused by a marten. He said this kind of thing happens quite often. And I had to pay.

Well, he is back …

RMD
P.S.
I took both pictures from Wikipedia.
The beautiful picture of the weasel (top) is from the central media archive Wikimedia Commons. Copyright is with James Lindsey, the source is 
http://popgen.unimaas.nl/~jlindsey/commanster.html
The stone marten image (Martes foina) is by Atirador.

Roland Dürre
Sunday January 29th, 2017

Painful Experience as a Democrat.

One of the reasons is probably the “oligarchy of the parties” (according to Karl Jaspers) that has taken (almost) all Europe into custody. More and more, we now “enjoy” the results of this development that has been getting stronger and stronger over the last few decades.

Besides, it really annoys me that the powers that are generally called lobbyists now have an overwhelming influence in society and politics. Lobbyism has become part of the system and rules and harms the common interest – often quite apparently at will. I witness all the time that the thus generated real (and often non-transparent) power structures ruthlessly sweep away the efforts and success of groups and individuals. The damage done to both humans and our future is willingly ignored, because more often than not, the only thing that counts for the powerful is money and power.

In addition, there is a historic (birth) defect. In most of the democracies I know, they (almost) always – directly or indirectly – vote for a boss. The elections determine who will be in power. It might be a caste or an individual. But I do not wish to hand power to a system or even to individual persons. Because it is not what modern times call for.

A short time ago, Niels Pflaeging twittered a question:
“All #leadership must be shared!“
Or
“
Is #leadership a collective and social phenomenon that is always present in social groups?“

In these sentences, I would probably have replaced the word #power by the word #leadership. But regardless: I rather like the first sentence and believe that the second sentence is outdated. Maybe it was true in former times, but such an image is not fitting for a world where sympathy, considerateness, democracy, freedom, equality, friendliness (towards fellow humans) reign instead of enmity, respect, participation, appreciation …

Enterprises and all other social systems do not need strong leaders. And this opinion of mine is older than the election of Trump for president. I do not like powerful persons, no matter if you call them president or chancellor. In my opinion, centres of power and power fights are less than optimal. They are something I personally find offensive, I am fed up with them. But on the other hand, behavioural patterns such as the “Mother Theresa” concept (total sacrifice for others) look suspicious to me. The same is true for persons who sacrifice themselves as martyrs for social, political or other goals.

Not only in political systems, I would wish to see coordinators who organize and build networks at the top. Social consensus about central topics must be worked out together and we (as the rulers – Souverän) must be given the opportunity to finally vote on alternatives and decisions that have been well prepared.

This might be our future. Today, however, I remain in the still unpleasant present in this respect and will describe the “pain I feel as a democrat” that actually even increased over the last few weeks. I was going to write a few satires in the “first person”, introducing some politicians. The first was going to be the SPD top politician Sigmar Gabriel. It was to read more or less like this:

“My name is Sigmar Gabriel. I am 57 years old and, until recently, I was Federal Minister for Economic Affairs. To this day, I do not know how I ever managed to get that job. After all, the only thing I did through all my life was teaching adults in union-loving enterprises and, above all, be a political functionary. And this CV made me Minister of Economic Affairs of the powerful FRG! And Vice-Chancellor! Well, it is surprising, but then, apparently, the success speaks in my favour, doesn’t it? Now they say I cannot lead the SPD into the electoral campaign as their top candidate. In fact, my party, those ungrateful villains, downgraded me because, allegedly, the people in Germany do not perceive me too positively. Regardless of the fact that I was a huge success and the German economy is booming as never before. And, basically, we have no unemployment, either. But then, I know about intrigues and power play. And everybody knows you cannot win them all. However, that is fine by me – Germany has become too small for me, anyway. Besides, you have better chances of a career in Europe, just look at comrade Schulz, the rogue. Consequently, I am now going to save the world and do a stunt as Minister of State of the FRG. After all, that is a nice job for a thorough-bred politician like me. Besides, I have wished for some time now to work a little less – after all, I am again going to be a father (which is no small achievement at my age). Being Minister of State is something I can do with one hand bound behind my back and I always wanted to do a little world-travelling, anyway. I am sure it will be a good experience for my baby if it cries and I can be away from home… “

This is where I will terminate my satiric remarks, because I feel it is not nice and rather cruel to write these kinds of things in the name of another person, even if, in cabaret, it is a commonly used form of satire. Writing like this will not alleviate my pain, because there are many reasons for those. Today, I will only tell you about my SPD pains. They are only a small part of my democratic ache. Basically, I understand less and less what happens at the SPD.

Let us start with the Federal President. When I was in grammar school, they taught us that the fathers of our constitution wanted the Federal President to come from among the people and that he/she should ideally not be a politician. It seems that – as so often at school – I misunderstood something. Article 55 of our constitution says:


(1) The Federal President may not be a member of the government or of a legislative body of the Federation or of a Land.
(2) The Federal President may not hold any other salaried office, or engage in any trade or profession, or belong to the management or supervisory board of any enterprise conducted for profit.


Well, those sentences are written in the present, aren’t they? That means my teacher was wrong and Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier can actually transfer directly from being a minister to Schloss Bellevue and Villa Hammerschmidt.

I have never met Walter Steinmeier. Regardless, primarily due to how he conducts himself and acts, I hold him in high respect. But he, too, spent his working life in the ivory tower of politics and that was also where his career was. He was very successful and as a reward, he got the ministerial posting to a high political office. It is quite possible that many persons considered him the last famous SPD person to have been highly regarded by all.

Now, they just go ahead and make him Federal President through (secret) party agreements. They continue to pull the strings. The post of Minister of State that thus becomes vacant is simply given to the not so well-loved Minister of Economic Affairs. His prodecessor – Brigitte Zypries – is an interim candidate  and even calls herself interim minister (Übergangskandidatin). All these things happen in times that cannot really be called politically easy. Is this in the best interest of the German population?

Because the people do not love him, the new Minister of State Sigmar Gabriel was no longer accepted as head of the party and also not made candidate for chancellor. In other words: he had to go. In front of the microphones, he says that, becoming a father, he wants to work a little less in the future. And on the very day after his inauguration, he flies to Paris where he meets obsolescent persons. No matter if you are well-loved or not, standing in the political limelight is even nicer if it is abroad.

But that is not all. The new SPD hope is a man who came to my attention mainly because he is politically unremarkable, but also because he is a very active “master at pulling strings”. He has been living the good life in the European Parliament ever since 1994. Before that time and partly also during that time, he was the major of Würselen (Nordrhein-Westfalen). In 2012, thanks to proportionality and secret agreements, he managed to become the Präsident des Europäischen Parlaments.

Since he seemed so unremarkable to me, I looked him up in Wikipedia. Now I would kindly ask all those who think about voting for SPD to look up the curriculum vitae (Lebenslauf) of Martin Schulz in Wikipedia. You can learn how, simply by being party member and representing their policy, you can make a career with just a few small tricks. It is a good example for the fact that in the SPD internal policy is more important for a career than being active in favour of social democracy.

For me Herr Schulz is a “Gabriel square“. Again, it gets painful: for me, Europe is so much more than just the EURO and the EU. To me, the new SPD top man looks like a symbol and metaphor for the poor state of the EU. An EU that is dominated by nations and economic interests and boycotted by small countries. There is no consensus about values, it is politically disrupted, mega bureaucratic and over-regulated. Basically, all nations want out, but they lack the courage. The EU that many see as something we cannot do without is a threat to a humane and democratic Europe of regions. But perhaps the EU and the SPD have something in common: they both seem to have forgotten the people of Europe.

Now they want Martin Schulz to save the SPD. A party we would badly need as general hope for a new democracy. I personally doubt that he, with his methods, can save the SPD. However, I am fairly convinced that he will not give new life to the idea of social democracy.

Neither is it any help for me that the USA now have Trump, which gives them totally different problems. Which means that my pain will not get any less acute.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Die Winderhitzer der Völklinger Hütte.

““Die Winderhitzer der Völklinger Hütte”. Also Vintage”

Regardless of the fact that I consider email vintage technology, I still have some email addresses. Many useless and stupid messages arrive.

It is my task to then delete those emails and ask my communication partners if, please, they could use other ways of communication.

Today, something happened that made me smile. I received an email from a beloved and long-time friend whose technological competence I rather appreciate.

He sent an email to a lot of people ( (all@XYZ.de):


Hi,
Could you please leave us alone with this totally irrational discussion!!!!!
I, too, said what I think about mail distributors and internal mail in the survey about new communication forms.
This is another typical example illustrating the fact that intra-company emails are total nonsense and why email distributors inparticular should be immediately made redundant.
To all, and I really intended to write this!


Incidentally, the “totally irrational discussion” was about the problem with rechargeable i-phone batteries and their exchange.

I replied as follows:


Your email made me smile. 🙂
After all, I totally agree with you – except that I am even more radical. Email is no longer a general communication channel. Instead, it is a totally old-fashioned one which – it goes without saying – should no longer be used in modern enterprises.
Emails to third parties should only be sent in those few instances where in former times you actually wrote a letter, sent a telegram or went to a public phone booth. Everything else should be done with tools that are adequate to the task.
Best wishes and a nice weekend to you!


Yes, I, too, dislike emails. More often than not, they have huge footers made even larger by artificial nonsense and totally uninteresting advertisements or stupid legal disclaimers.

I hate email dialogues that cause a constantly growing series of email incarnations through more and more dialogue steps. With every reply, you create a new email that contains the same as before, with the addition of the last reply.  When the internet was first introduced, they made an attempt to make the design of email communication a little more agreeable. For example there was the so-called tofu rule.

Unfortunately, however, “tofu” was only applied by very few users and consequently failed.

As a general rule, communication will be carried out as a “thread“. Ever since we have the perfect chat, email is mostly obsolete. In the “peer2peer“ thread, I can always immediately see what has been recently said. That is also true for persons with whom I rarely communicate – where it is extremely valuable. Threads are also a good tool for more than two persons who wish to communicate. If you use email, you immediately get a catastrophic flood of “cc”-s and “bcc”-s.

Moreover, I enjoy using images, audios or small videos in my daily communication. How cumbersome is this both for the sender and the recipient if you use email? Just look how easily bbm, wechat, whatsapp, the FB “messenger“ or Skype, the twitter  “dm“ (direct message) etc, work. Not to mention Snapchat, the system with the most modern and simple of all user interfaces.

Even better for structured communication, even in bigger teams/groups than chat systems are “communities”. There are many communities in the internet, for instance in Google+. They show you how it is done. And how you can communicate well and yet very structured and highly efficient with very simple means within an organization. And how you can do totally without the email nonsense, rather than flooding the non-interested and non-concerned parties with spam all the time!

Note also:

The telephone is also OUT. I only use my telephone after having made an appointment in advance to do so, if there is something important I need to do or if I want to talk with someone and pay full attention. Consequently, I no longer use the telephone in the car or in public places like trains. And even for important issues, I only use the telephone if image telephones (Hangout, Facetime, Skype, Cisco, Citrix …) are not an option because the person at the other end prefers the good old telephone.

In case you forgot: the “telephone” function on the smartphone is also just an app for synchronous spoken communication that enables your connection with addresses made up from telephone numbers (digits) and through “voice-over-IP“.

Consequently:
If someone calls me and I reply with
“Now who interrupts me in my work?“,
then I kindly ask you to forgive me.

I continue to be available on the telephone for all those who need me. Here is my physical telephone address 0049 171 4850115 (unfortunately, the symbol telephones have now been out of fashion for a long time). But, please, only call if it is really important and totally urgent!

In all other instances, please ask yourself if it might not be enough for you to use asynchronous (spoken) messages through one of the chatters I use or, if it is about a specific topic, for you to send a message to the respective community.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

+On Thursday, at 11.50 a.m., in the fully packed “facility cafeteria”, Hubert Spiegel related the strange circumstances that led to the disarmament of the mysterious “mirror devil”. He started a little awkwardly by saying:

img270

“Well, you know, I am not really a patient of this “facility”! But my mom is! At her own instigation, she was admitted here five years ago! You may not believe this, but she liked the pasta soup served in this “facility cafeteria” so much that she refused to go anywhere else. Now isn’t that really mad?

Well- and now I come for a visit as often as I can. But then, you do not always have time, do you? After all, we all have to really work hard. Basically, none of us has a money machine at home, …

Aside from this – even if that may now sound a little strange – I am not one of the loonies residing in this “facility”!

But then – and I admit this quite frankly – sometimes in the morning at six when I am standing in front of my mirror in the bathroom and looking at this “stranger’s face” that smiles back at me, I start wondering if I, Hubert Spiegel, perhaps am mentally handicapped after all!

Neither am I all that sure if the person I see with that huge stupid grin on his face is actually me? Or maybe that is someone else altogether? Perhaps a “Peeper”? Or even one of those “stalkers”, as they call them in America…

Are you also familiar with the sensation that a stranger’s face follows you each day into your bathroom? Until you are standing in front of your mirror? The only thing that has proved to be helpful for me is sticking out my tongue at him!

So!!! Yes – I have to really do some prolonged asshole licking…

Because if the other one also gives me his asshole licking, then I know at least that he is no better than I am, which means there is no need for me to worry about him staying in my bathroom – if that is what he wants, he is quite welcome!

Now isn’t that really cute?

Well, you know, as time goes by, you simply come up with a few tricks, don’t you? After all, one is not totally brain-damaged! But just to be on the safe side, I regularly do the “ear-splitting test”!

Are you familiar with it? Because it is certainly of good parentage …
You would not believe how long this “ear-tip-stranger” needed before he eventually understood about the test and then managed to convince me that he really is not the evil one who wants to harm me! Because if there is one thing I really hate, then it is those poofters: I detest them as much as the devil hates holy water!

Anyway, initially it was always like this: whenever I gripped my ear and simultaneously stuck out my tongue – as did the guy opposite me – and whenever I then took hold of my right ear with my right hand – because I had to know, what the other one was going to do, didn’t I? – then that other devil always took hold of his left ear with the left hand … which means he did exactly the opposite of what I did? Can you imagine? Every single time…

Initially, it really almost drove me crazy! I simply could not believe that this stupid fucker was not capable of mimicking something as easy as this, instead doing exactly the opposite? I really found it unbelievable…

And, to be perfectly honest – I then started taking my orientation only from the lolling tongue. At least there I could be sure that I am really only dealing with the moron I knew…

But it was definitely no easy task!

Because as an extra devious plot, the idiot actually sometimes took his right hand to grip his right ear!

Yes – that is really what he did! But do you know when he did that? He did it exactly all those times when I touched my left ear with my left hand – that was exactly when he used his right hand, the trickster – and at no other times! Not ever at any other time…
Mind you, we are talking at six in the morning, and every morning – except Sundays – because I never wash on Sundays, nor do I even enter my bathroom! After all, Sundays are the days when I use water in the church for getting my skin wet – holy water!

Well – if you experience this kind of shit every day and then do not get mad, you are either completely gaga or – pardon the language – you are fucking way beyond caring!

But then, as I am sure you can easily imagine, I miss nothing. After all, who do they think I am? I am definitely not my mum!

Yes – if it had been my mum, then this devil in the bathroom would have been able to continue until doomsday. She would not have fought it; after all, she always was an easy pushover for all strange populist leaders.

But that is where I am different! I am far too street-smart to become thus victimized …

Would you like me to tell you how I won over this pig last Tuesday?
At six in the morning! In my bathroom! I bet you will never guess, although it is basically very easy if you think about it!

Well – last Tuesday – when I again stood in front of the grinning bastard – with my tongue lolling out down to my tits – and this devil also sticking it out – here is what I, the wise guy, did:
I moved my right hand to my right ear – but when the other one only grinned and moved his left paw towards his left ear – I moved like lightning and got my left hand to my left ear – which meant the stupid guy on the opposite side had no choice but to also grab his right ear – just like he always did…

And, people, I really wish you could have seen the stupid face this idiot with his lolling tongue suddenly made – with both paws holding both ears – exactly like me – and gone were the times of “left” and “right”, etc…

I can tell you, for me, this was an absolute hit on the head for liberty!

Because all of a sudden it dawned on me that this freaking idiot had just been tricking me all the time with his “right – left – turn” – and that he actually had been nobody else! No, absolutely not! In fact, it had always been me and me alone! Yes: me, me, me – opposite of myself – and with nobody else involved.

Can you imagine?

And what do you think how hilarious we found it and how we burst out laughing as soon as we discovered it! We fell over with laughter – both of us – and we truly went overboard and never seemed to be able to calm down… it was truly mad – really!

And now I am sure you will understand why I came here today!
Actually, I absolutely need to tell my mum about it! Even if it means she will start fretting before I start because she wants her pasta soup!

But she absolutely has to know that there has never been a stranger in my bathroom – never ever! It was always only me – and even me alongside me …

So, here we go and good luck to you all – but now I need to go and see her! She needs me!“

KH
(Translated by EG)

PS:
The author will relate this story (in Viennese dialect) during this year’s Halloween event of the “Authors Group TwentyTen” in the Hanau Olof Palme Haus.

Hans Bonfigt
Monday July 25th, 2016

Multikulti im Nahverkehr

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.