Roland Dürre
Wednesday October 3rd, 2018

DIESEL

Selfie: “I cannot understand it.“

For many days, the main topic in the media and news has been nothing but “The Diesel”. I find this rather frustrating, because there are so many much more important social issues that need to be tackled. It is all Greek to me  (Ich verstehe nur noch Bahnhof).

Basically, it is very simple:

If I buy a low quality product, then I have a claim. If the transaction was a fraud, then I can try to bring the claim forward against the fraudulent salesperson.
That is something the rule of justice in a country should guarantee. If this no longer works because the concerns have become too powerful, then that is just too bad.
This is probably true for all goods, no matter if we are talking food or other products and also for services – and it should also apply to cars.

There are many things I no longer understand!

Why has nobody come up with the idea, especially when we are talking the current Diesel discussion, to simply abolish the subsidies on the Diesel tax? I mean, if the Diesel is such a bad product? After all, it is 22 Euro-Cent per litre in subsidies (in Germany, you have to pay 22 Euro-Cent less for Diesel than for petrol) that lets our “greed is great“ society crave for Diesel vehicles. Regardless of the fact that, in general, the “Diesel car” is more expensive than the competition, but in a state of greed, you do not tend to be very good with calculations.
Isn’t it normal, rather than a national emergency, if the greedy people will, once in a while, be the losers? Mind you, this is not meant to be gloating.

Neither do I understand that there seems to be nobody left who introduces a speed limit. Both on motorways and highways, this would considerably economize on fuel (and on human lives). And it has been obvious for a long time that, in cities, the rule of “driving 30” should be a matter of course. And that the “50” and “60” should be the exception to the rule.

I also do not understand why the Diesel is now such a huge topic. After all, we have a situation where, de facto, all combustion motors in individualized traffic (and, so I hope, not only where cars and motorbikes are concerned, but also where lawnmowers and leaf-blowers are concerned) will (hopefully soon) face their exodus.

Don’t we agree that, today, the discussion is not about whether my SUV has a Diesel or a petrol motor. Instead, it is all about whether you still drive a car at all. Because a) perhaps the climate catastrophe is real after all and b) I do not wish to have all those exhaust fumes in my lungs. It is not even necessary for me to ride my bike on the Rosenheimer Strasse in Munich during rush hour if I want to suffer. Even riding to the bakery on a Sunday morning on the Putzbrunner Strasse in Ottobrunn will do the job!

Neither do I understand that kerosene for airplanes and heavy oil for ships is taxed in the same way as petrol, although we know full well that we need to fly less. And why do they want to build still more runways? And why do we still burn brown coal (Hambacher Forst), thereby making life unnecessarily hard for alternative energies.

And I also do not understand why we celebrate the German Unity Day today. Wouldn’t it be better to use the day for working towards a decent Europe of Regions where people can live in confidence and courage?

These days, there is a lot I do not understand. Not only with respect to mobility, we are surrounded by mania. Is it already too late for our planet (Permafrost). I almost tend towards resignation?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Monday September 24th, 2018

Disruptive Technologies & Fear of the Future

Afraid of IT?

Are you scared of the more and more speedily growing complexity? And do you long for such buzzwords as agile, resilient, anti-fragile?

I never knew either of those fears. For me, the change was something exciting and I looked upon all the buzzwords as the normal result of more and more nonsense being talked without any responsibility in our times.

Because I believed that, even today, we experience nothing but very ordinary progress. Which, of course, at all times, has massively changed the world and society. Just remember the times between 1918 and 1938! Those were twenty years during which everything was in uproar.

And those times, too, can be summarized quite adequately by the words of Bertrand Russell:


» Every increase in technology will cause the same increase in wisdom, provided it is also meant to mean more instead of less human happiness. «


Because even then, it did not work.

There are at least three exceptional and particularly exciting technological dimensions.

  • World-machine interaction (sensors) instead of human-machine interaction.
  • Total networking of machines (IoT).
  • Learning machines at the roots (artificial intelligence) .

Well, these factors have the potential of new superlatives when it comes to change. Because the machines get exponentially more intelligent, they are connected world-wide and they will no longer need humans as connecting agents between themselves and the world.

Taken together, this will probably change our world and society as much as (or even more than) the triumphal procession of the “individual mobility based on combustion motors“ changed it. And that is an idea that brings even me to a point only slightly short of fear. Because the triumphal procession of the car really had tremendous consequences and it probably minimized the happiness of mankind considerably.

Well, the only hope that remains is that people will become wiser with the same speed as the “technological advancement“ gains momentum.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt

Erfolgreiche Projekte

Wann gelingt ein Softwareprojekt ?

Über “Projektmanager” und ihre Wünsche nach “Resilenz” und “Agilität”
kann man sich trefflich amüsieren. Vorausgesetzt, man ist nicht darauf
angewiesen, daß die bedeutungsschwangere Gruppe selbsternannter “Indivi-
dualisten” (mit Google-Einheitstelephon) irgendwann einmal liefert.

Deutlich schwieriger ist es schon, aufzuzeigen, wie man es besser
machen könnte. Nun hat mich jemand genau danach gefragt, und warum
sollte man nicht einmal die Projekte aus 35 Jahren Berufserfahrung
Revue passieren lassen, die gelungen sind ?

Dabei möchte ich mich unterscheiden von üblichen “Ratgebern”, die unre-
flektiert postulieren, was sie im Herzen bewegt. Ich nehme mir statt-
dessen reale Projekte und bilde Schnittmengen gewisser Merkmale.

1. Der Sinn eines Projektes muß allen Beteiligten klar sein.
Nur so kann die Unternehmensleitung Rückendeckung geben,
nur so erlebt ein Entwickler die Freude an sinnvoller Arbeit,
nur so wird das Endprodukt vom Nutzer angenommen.

2. Ein Projekt muß wirtschaftlich erfolgreich sein.
Vor allem aber: Man muß diesen Erfolg auch transparent machen
können.

3. Die Einfachheit und die Eleganz eines Entwurfs entscheidet !
– Das zu impementierende Verfahren sollte so einfach sein, daß
man es einem Siebenjährigen erklären könnte. Vereinfachen,
vereinfachen, vereinfachen.
– Das, was nicht vereinfacht werden kann, wenigstens sauber
modularisieren !
– Immer nur EINEN Standard für einen bestimmten Schnittstellen-
typ auswählen !
– Lieber die Aufgabenstellung reduzieren als das Team überfordern.
Tatsache ist oft: Erst wenn das Endprodukt unter realen Bedin-
gungen läuft, stellt man fest, was es wirklich leisten kann und
welche Funktionen auch tatsächlich genutzt werden !

4. Prototypen bauen !
Viel wichtiger: Wenn sie funktionieren, gnadenlos löschen und
neu beginnen !

5. Tote Pferde nicht weiterreiten !
So gut wie jede Entwicklung kommt an den Punkt, wo sich Fehler
in der Konzeption zeigen. Gnadenlos zurückbauen.

6. Keine Demokratie und vor allem KEINE KOMPROMISSE !
In der Sache nachgeben mit Rücksicht auf persönliche Empfindlich-
keiten (Na gut, Meike, Du kannst Dein Modul auch in JAVA schrei-
ben …) erzeugt eine sprudelnde Quelle von Problemen.
EINER leitet das Projekt, genau wie auch nur EINER ein Auto fah-
ren kann. Das ist das Erfolgsrezept der Seefahrt.

7. Mitarbeiter respektieren !
Auch vermeintlich “einfache Codierarbeit” ist erstaunlich nicht-
trivial. Der Architekt sollte den Maurer mit Respekt behandeln
und umgekehrt.
Aber niemals sollte ein Architekt mauern oder ein Maurer planen.

8. Kommunikation standardisieren.
Keine Dokumente und Codefragmente
hin- und herschicken. Kein kompromittierendes “WhatsApp” oder
“Twitter”. Schon gar keine “Google-Accounts” !
Wir müssen Kundendaten treuhänderisch behandeln.
Klare, eindeutige Begriffe verwenden !
Die Fachtermini des Kunden verwenden !

9. Anzahl der Mitarbeiter
benötigte Externen und benötigte
Zukaufprodukte reduzieren !

10. Die Werkzeuge müssen sich der Idee unterordnen und nicht umgekehrt.
Haskell, Lisp oder “Clojure” machen noch keinen genialen Entwurf.

11. Die Chemie im Team muß stimmen !
Die “menschliche” Komponente ist zu 70 Prozent entscheidend für einen Projekterfolg.

12. Keine “Gnadenhäppchen” für die Mitarbeiter
in Form von “kostenloser Maté” und “Kickerautomat im Flur”. Das ist keine Wertschät-
zung auf Augenhöhe. ORDENTLICH ZAHLEN ! Das garantiert souveräne Mitarbeiter.

Abgesehen davon: Arbeit kann und soll durch sich selbst schön sein und
muß nicht mit albernen Spielereien “aufgepeppt” werden. Was dabei heraus-
kommt, kann jeder sehen, der ein aktuelles “Windows” öffnet.

-hb

Hans Bonfigt
Sunday September 2nd, 2018

(Deutsch) Es plappert der Spiegel am rauschenden Bach … (I)

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Tuesday July 17th, 2018

Innovation. Management. Future.

I did it ?!

More and more enterprises create positions that they call “innovations management”. Whenever I hear such a thing, I am tempted to ask these managers what exactly their job-description is (regardless of the fact that I do not really believe in precise job descriptions).

More often than not, the Innovation Manager will sit in the Human Resource (HR) Department. After all, it is his main task to make the employees “more innovative“. Besides, I do not really know why you need HR.

“What exactly is innovation?“

That is a question I rather like asking the “Innovation Managers”. Mind you, this is not with an evil purpose. I really do not know what innovation is. Except that it is a buzz-word everybody seems to use these days.

I particularly like asking such stupid questions when I meet people who are supposed to make very classical-style enterprises more innovative. For instance when we are talking the financial sector, i.e. banks and insurance companies.

In such situations, I always remember the definition given by Simon Grand (St. Gallen). He called innovation “creative destruction”. This might not be very helpful. But at least it is a definition that indicates that innovations usually cause change. And nobody likes change. Except when you have a massive problem.

Which brings us to the next question:

“What exactly is a problem?“

I find a definition that describes rather drastically what a problem is:

“A state of affairs that cannot continue“.

It might be the task of innovation to change such states of affairs …
And then we are in the middle of such horrifying scenarios as fragility and disruption, which threaten our stability. After all, innovation is supposed to help when it comes to strengthening the anti-fragility of systems that are threatened by disruption. And if you listen to what managers generally believe today, then disruption obviously increases. Which is due to the ever increasing complexity (also one of the general managerial beliefs).

“Disruption and anti-fragility “

Two more of those nice buzz-words. You fear the one and you are supposed to create the other. And if the Innovations Manager sits in the HR department, then, naturally, he has to create the innovation with his resources – that is with the people. Consequently, he has to provide the employees with better equipment for dealing with disruptions, thus taking the system for which they all work to a higher level of anti-fragility.

“How do you go about doing this?“

Here are a few ideas.

Perhaps you want to tell stories. You could describe a nice working and living environment. You could introduce values that may sound well but are really hard to realize in old systems. Because the opposition among the persons and institutions can hardly ever be overcome.

Or maybe you will want to introduce new forms of communication such as barcamps with which you hope to penetrate walls and bunkers in the enterprises.

But who knows if any of this is enough?

I do not know. I look forward to reading or hearing stories about successful innovations management. I would really like to tell those stories to a broader audience.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Eight years ago, a small team around Wolf Groß established the Münchner Webwoche – at the time it was also called Isarnetz. Since then, it took place every year and will now be held for the 7th time!

And in those seven years, it changed and improved quite a bit. I helped a little when it was initiated and accompanied it over the years as advisory board member. Sometimes I invested more time and energy, sometimes less. It grew to be a great event.

Professor Wolf Groß is the initiator and driving force of the Second Munich Digital Dialogue. Consequently, for him, the purpose of the Webwoche is:

“The data scandal around facebook and Cambridge Analytica, along with the onslaught of hate posts and conspiracy theories in social networks, shows that it cannot just be about promoting digital transformation. We also have to develop rules for controlling the digital future.“

Incidentally, Professor Wolf Groß is not related to my partner “Wolf“ Wolfgang Gross. We are talking two different persons who also write their names differently.

The Webwoche:
For the program, click here. The Facebook usercode is @muenchnerwebwoche, on twitter, the most important hashtags are @isarnetz, nd #mww18 and #digitaldabei.

Here is a citation from the Münchner Webwoche website:
The Münchner Webwoche is the one inspiring digital event in Munich and was initiated by the association Isarnetz. During the event, Munich enterprises and organizations meet because they want to actively shape the digital change. They organize events around the topics technology and digitalization, promote  networking events, sponsor hackathons, Barcamps, podium discussions, workshops and seminars. They also show what digital and creative potential lies in the metropolitan region of Munich.

The 7th Münchner Webwoche is from 19th to 28th of April.

Perhaps we will see each other there during one of the events? It would be a true pleasure for me to see you!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
There is no deadline for also participating with your own event. After all, everything is digital. 🙂

Roland Dürre
Wednesday December 27th, 2017

The “Mercedes Benz“ among my E-Bikes!

Today I will tell you about my third electric bike – my Utopia London. On top of normal bikes (meaning bikes with no electric drive, which I still like using occasionally), I already told you about the electric bikes I use: the familiy eCargo (our “VW Bus“) and my electric Mountain-Bike (my “Jeep“). Now, I added an electronic long-distance and travelling bike to my collection: the Utopia. I will tell you about it today!

This is how the electronic London looks on the Utopia website.

On the left, you see the London with its special frame. The one I have at home is almost identical. I only got it this autumn – and still it already shows considerably more than 2,000 kilometres.

Among other things, that is because, thanks to the electric drive, I now also go long distances by bike. I mean distances for which I used to take public transportation (of course, if a distance is less than 10 kilometres in Munich, I do not use my electronic bike, but the normal one…).

I enjoy taking the “electronic” bike instead of using public transportation if either my destination is a rather long distance away or/and if the return trip is late at night. A short time ago (mid-December), for instance, I went to Garching to attend an evening event at TUM. Without my e-bike, I would have used the S- and U-Bahn trains from Neubiberg to Garching, because by bike it is more than 30 kilometres one way and that distance used to be a little too far for me.

After my return, my tachometer actually read “relaxed” 65 kilometres. Especially during the late return trip from Garching that started around 8.30 p.m., it was definitely very convenient to roll the approximately 70 metres of altitude and more than 30 kilometres back home to Neubiberg with electronic support.

But back to my Utopia London. The specialty about this bike is that it has a front drive. As far as I know, Utopia is the only German producer that makes electronic bikes with lots of comfort and high loading capacity that have a high-quality front drive.

Front drives suffer a little from a bad reputation, because this technology is often used for the cheap(est) bikes. The disadvantages people usually associate with such bikes are not at all present at my London. On the contrary.

To the left of the picture, you can see the front drive VR1F of my London. After having covered almost 3,000 kilometres, I am now an absolute front drive fanatic. Especially on the wet and slippery autumnal roads, it is simply fantastic how the front drive holds track even on difficult roads.

Whenever my bike travel companions got stuck on difficult roads or even gave up, my front motor bike continued to carry me where I wanted to go. It also does so in the “push mode”, which, basically, if you have front drive, should be named “pull mode”.

The VR1F is a drive with permanently activated synchronization (DirectDrive without gearing mechanism) that is integrated into the front tyre. 90% of the electricity that goes from the battery to the motor is thus brought onto the street via the front tyre for movement. As always, the back tyre is pushed by the physical power of the human. With my bike, this happens through the use of the well-established Rohloff-14-Gear-Hub-Drive. You cannot get much more comfortable than that.

This is how the bike becomes the “vehicle with two-wheel drive” – on top of having an optimal weight balance (the motor is in front, the Rohloff is at the rear). Naturally, this is not possible with the motor in the rear tyre as our eCargo has it. As opposed to the mid-bike motor, you also suffer no loss through the hub or because of having to transfer the power to the rear wheel via the chain.

The bike is absolutely silent. You cannot hear anything of the electronic workings. Currently, there are seven different programs for motor control that perfectly support the person who rides the bike. The Rohloff feels soft as butter when you change gears – and I do it really often in order to maintain the optimal pedalling frequency. This is far easier with an e-bike than with a bike that has no additional push.

I rely on very competent service people at Dully’s BIKESTATION – unfortunately, they do not sell the Utopia brand – and when they tried my bike, they were really impressed by this drive. Consequently, I can really recommend both the drive and the motor (as well as the entire bike) with a very good conscience.

On our driveway shortly before starting.

If you see it from the side, the wonderfully classical cross frame of the London is obvious. It is made in Aalten (Netherlands) by a small manufacturing firm. You can also see the left hand battery. The second, right hand, battery is symmetrical to it. I find two batteries ideal, because they mean I will never have stress. If a trip is longer than I had anticipated or if I have used up more electricity than I was going to and one battery is empty, then I just push one lever at the control panel and can continue with another full battery.

The (electronic) control:
The control panel is connected to an app. The app recognizes the bike and contains all the relevant data. Through the app, you can quickly load or activate a new program at any time. Thus, you can use the cell-phone you applied to your handlebar as a convenient display – which means you will no longer need your tachometer or GPS system.

The range:
What I said earlier in my mountain bike article is also true with this bike: the range depends on many factors. What altitude profile does your route cover? Which program have you activated? What is your pedalling frequency? Do you have headwind or tailwind? How difficult is the terrain? Do you save energy? What is your weight and that of your luggage? And similar factors.

Based on my experience so far, I assume that I will always manage more than 100 kilometres, even if conditions are difficult, with my two batteries. Normally, I am sure day trips of around 150 kilometres will not be a problem.
I also noticed that I now ride far higher average speeds than with my good old Roadster (also from Utopia) without electricity. In the city, my average electronically supported speed was almost 50% faster (regardless of traffic lights). In other words, now I can also cover long distances in 75% of the time they used to take.

This experience really makes me look forward to many nice trips through Germany, Austria, Italy, perhaps even France and other countries, in 2018!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

🙂 Well, I remember my promise to write more about sex and electric bikes. Consequently, I will now relate my experiences with my eWMe 627 from CONWAY.

I already told you about our eCargo. Not only is the car no longer at all an option when we go shopping; for the grandchildren and for leisure activities, too, the cargo has turned into the absolute favourite means of transportation for the entire family. And for me personally, the eCargo triggered the “electric bike preference”.

My E-Enduro with a 160-mm drive, the Conway eWME 627 as the second E-Bike in our family.

Formerly, I often went into the mountains with the Mountain Bike. Uphill, I was never very fast. And, naturally, I did not become faster in the last few years.

Which made it more of a challenge for me to go on bike tours in the mountains as a couple or in small groups. My younger and more athletic travelling companions always had to wait for quite some time sitting on top of the mountain until they finally saw me push my bike up. I was not the only one who found this unnerving.

Then came the summer – and consequently the yearly Peloponnesus mountain bike tour (near Gythio and Mani). So I decided to test an electric mountain bike at our familiar bike salesman (Dully’s BIKESTATION).

To say it in a nutshell: I was absolutely fascinated. Consequently, I bought one and now mountain biking is again something I truly enjoy. In 2017 in Greece, I covered about twice the distance (and altitude) from the years before.

About the bike and its technology:

As you know, my eCargo has a rear motor (GoSwissDrive), a simple ladder network and a hub dynamo at the front tyre. I find that rear motors are only ideal for a Cargo bike, the chain is not too strained and, thanks to the hub dynamo, it can also be used at night, even if the battery is empty or you do not carry it with you.

My mountain bike has a different system. It has a Shimano mid-bike motor at the crank. SHIMANO Steps-System is a system of e-bike components (motor, battery, control, range calculator, …) that was designed exclusively for mountain bikes. The same bikes are also available with Bosch technology. When I tested them, I liked the Shimano system better because of the interval-free support and the better coordination.

As with Bosch, the heart of the Steps-System is the mid-bike motor. It weighs 2.8 kg and is perhaps one of the lightest motors on the market. The mid-bike motor sits in the crank; as opposed to front or rear drivers, it is not a direct drive. Instead, it has a gearing mechanism. You can also easily ride without electricity, the motor will not slow you down. You only have some additional weight because of the motor and the electric gadgets.

That is probably the reason why mid-bike motors will always make a slightly grating noise. The only relatively soundless motors are those from Impulse and Brose, all other motors (by now, many companies along with Bosch, especially from Asia, offer them) are far noisier than direct drives – which you really cannot hear at all. You also always get a slight push when the motor turns itself on for support, which is not what you get with the direct drives that sit in the front or rear tyre.

Regardless, I believe that the mid-bike motor is the best for mountain bikes. The weight of the motor and battery are close to the crank. Whenever you go up or down steep hills, this is definitely an advantage.

Most of the electric mountain bikes have a simple ladder network (one gear-wheel at the front and quite a few at the rear), it is the mechanic Shimano XT for the Conway. It might be a disadvantage that, if you have a mid-bike motor, the entire power (both from the human and from the motor) is transferred to the chain and the gear. But, as I see it, that can be ignored for the mountain bike, because everyone knows you have to change the chain and the pinion at regular intervals.

Range

I am always asked: “How far can you go with one full battery?”. This question is not easy to answer. Naturally, the range depends on such parameters as the incline of the course a biker selected. For long inclines in one row, you need more electricity than if you go up and down the hills alternatively all the time. The frequency of pedalling is also important (If I am correct, the ideal frequency is considerably higher than 60 per minute). And, of course, it also depends on the mode you chose.

STEPS has three modes: ECO, TRAIL and BOOST. If you save electricity by using ECO and if you cut down the motor when you go downhill (due to the mid-bike motor principle, STEP cannot recuperate, so it makes sense to switch the entire drive off whenever you do not pedal – and if you do not pedal, there is, naturally, also ZERO motor-caused resistance), then the range is generally more than 100 kilometres, i.e. in the three-digit area.

If you use the mode TRAIL, I would assume that you can always easily go around 70 kilometres with 700 metres of altitude. However, if I use BOOST and really force the bike up the mountain, then I can easily imagine that the power is low after 20 kilometres. That never happened to me. I assume it would be more like a fun-ride.

For travel bikes, I would not recommend the mid-bike motor. But I will tell you more about this when I describe my Utopia London.

For me, my e-mountain-bike is a constant source of delight. If I go downhill, I no longer have to accept the high speed of former times (I always wanted to make up a little time when I went downhill, because I had always lost so much time going uphill). And above all, the electric day trips now take less time – which means I no longer need to get up so early and I also return home earlier than I used to. If, formerly, the entire Sunday was “wasted”, I now have time left for other interests.

On my trips with Barbara, I now had to wait for her at the top of the mountain. That was also true in Greece. I went with electricity, Barbara without. Circumstances were now reversed.

Barbara’s electric mountain donkey, the Conway 327.

Later, she also bought a Conway 327 – and now we have great fun together. Our day trips to the Bavarian Alps no longer take too much time and we no longer have the burdensome long inclines we used to have. And I truly look forward to the spring and am absolutely sure that, in 2018, we will often spend time in the Alps. And I also truly look forward to the two weeks of biking and swimming in August/September on the Peloponnesus!

My next article will be about my Utopia London with front drive. For me, it is the perfect travel and everyday bike. If I see similarities between the eCargo with and a VW transporter, then the eBike is more like a jeep and my London would be something like the Mercedes S-Class Limousine.

So “my Mercedes” (of Utopia) will feature prominently in my next e-bike article.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I took both pictures from the Conway Website – you will find several links to this site.

A few thousand years ago, homo sapiens invented  the wheel and – a little later – the lever. It took us humans a few more millennia until the wheelbarrow was invented – although it is, basically just a combination of the wheel and the lever. After that, it did not take too long for such basic things as the crank and the gear-wheel to be invented. And the steam engine, the Diesel motor and electricity…

And with the information and communication technology, we really got under way.

This looks like they took me to the photo studio – and I was probably wondering what was going to happen.

I often wonder when our house had its first electric motor. I am sure it was no earlier than 1955, when we moved from the country to the city. I still remember that, in the late fifties, a spin-dryer for our laundry basement was a modern achievement – and it definitely had an electric motor.

As far as I remember, there were no other  electronic devices (Elektro-Geräte) in our household at the time. Until we got the first Märklin model railway. Then things really started to happen.

Up until then, the mechanical devices in our household all had a hand-crank. And complicated gear-wheels. For example the meat chopper, the coffee grinder, the machine for making cream. The drill, too, was hand-worked.
Consequently, I admired gear-wheels very much …

There came a day when our teacher took the class to see the Renk Zahnradfabrik
(it must have been in my third or fourth form)
– today, it is a stock-market enterprise and part of  MAN AG.

The school was next to St. Anton’s church and not far from the “Wittelsbacher Park“. In this park, you could see something special: the “Rudolf Diesel Hain“. It was a quadrangle that had the size of an allotment garden and cypress-like plants grew all around it. There was an entry and an exit and inside were huge rocks from Japan. On copper plates, one could read what the Japanese People had written to thank the Great German Rudolf Diesel for his invention of the motor (at least that is how I remember it) that saved mankind world-wide from debasing and hard physical labour. That is why they had made the City of Augsburg – where the great man had been born – a present of this rock.

The Rudolf Diesel Hain was a nice piece of nature that became my cherished refuge when I could not be bothered to attend weekly mass on Sundays.

For me, the tour of the plant was very exciting. It is definitely something special to see how iron is processed – and the people working in the business were just as special. After the tour, the tour guide gave our teacher a rather heavy gear-wheel (perhaps 20 cm in diameter). It must have weighed several kilograms.

I assume that the gear-wheel was a throw-away product. It seems that the wife of our teacher was not too enthusiastic about the strange thing he brought home.

When school started on the next morning, he put it on his desk and announced: now you all will write an “adventure report” about our trip. And the winner (the student who wrote the best report) was going to get the gear-wheel as prize.

I was absolutely over the top. Because I absolutely had to get this gear-wheel. To be sure, I was the total outsider, because writing was my Achilles’ Heel. Since I had learned to read before starting school and was already through with most of the Karl May books, I found the school books rather boring.

But what is all this if there is a prize you absolutely want to win? Nothing!
Consequently, this was an essay I wrote with more effort than I ever again did anything in my life. I wanted that gear-wheel, still remembered my fascination with the trip and wrote the script for the play. I even tried to avoid formal mistakes and took care of my punctuation – which were things that, in those days, I generally could not have cared less about. I even took special pains with my handwriting. I strongly suspect that those became the only pages in my exercise books that were not poorly scrawled.

Since that day, I know the meaning of the word “motivated”.

I had to wait a day or two, then came the decision. And – lo and behold – I came in first and won the gear-wheel. And I was the happiest person alive. I remained the happiest person on the way home. However, when I arrived at home, the only comment my mother had when she saw my good grade on the essay was “there you see: if you make an effort, you really can write a good essay”. The gear-wheel was not at all appreciated. On the contrary. The comment was: “What a peculiarity are you bringing home this time?”

Well, my teacher had probably met with the same indifference a few days earlier when he brought it home. But that was not really much of a consolation for me.

The gear-wheel got a special place in my room. It smelled nicely of machine oil.

I still remember how, perhaps ten years later, my mother forced me to throw it out. It was a really nice gear-wheel.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Monday August 7th, 2017

(Deutsch) Hans im Glück, Version 2017

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.