The mind boggling hunting shacks of Germany and Switzerland

This is an artistic a snap as I thought I could take of a lone hunting shack at the edge of a farmer’s field in north central Switzerland:

Oh, the fun you will have sitting warming in this shack, covered by a thick wool blanket, waiting patiently for some animal to thoughtlessly walk into the crosshairs of the telescopic sight on your rifle.

I prefer fishing.

What I’m not quite sure about is why these shacks are so predominant in Germany and Switzerland, yet in other countries are much rarer or impossible to find.

One of my favorite projects – 4

Continuing the series, as part of a large IT transformation that I helped drive, it was necessary for us to hire 20+ talented IT professionals. And add to that around 30 mostly Indian colleagues that were to join us to run the Transition and Transformation (T&T) program. And add to that at least two other large IT teams we wanted to consolidate. And because we had so many people, it was necessary for us to locate and rent a building dedicated to IT. So I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take off my IT transformation hat and put on my facilities management hat.

This blog series recollects a bit of the journey before too much time passes and I forget some of the more interesting details.

Ongoing third parties – coffee and drinks

The building we rented had three cafeterias: a large one with a full size refrigerator and a sink and enough place for seven or eight tables; a medium with with a full size refrigerator and a sink and enough space for three tables; and a small one with a half-size refrigerator and a sink and standing-room only.

This means we had a few luxury items to buy: plates and bowls and forks and knives and even miscellaneous things like bottle openers.

And we had a few necessary items to buy: fire extinguishers, first aid kits. It was also on my list to buy a portable, automatic heart defibrillator – but I never got around to it.

Being no expert in this area I really learned a lot from the professionals, especially my colleague Pascal who was a real facilities manager. We decided to explore having coffee, drinks, and even water delivered by an company specialized in this. (Yes, even water, because you get a water dispenser that must be kept current with plastic cups, a filter, plus a bottle to provide carbonated water on demand.)

The coffee service – which we later expanded to include vending machines – was an interesting learning experience for me. Essentially, you sign the contract and all the hardware and service is provided to you by the company. Additionally, someone from the company comes into the building daily to clean the machines and refill them if necessary. You pay the company on a pay-per-consumption basis. It is, quite literally, a plug-and-play service that even from my facilities management perspective could not have been easier.

Maybe pride goes before a fall, but nevertheless when I returned to the building several years later for a going-away celebration I could not help being a bit proud of what the cafeteria was stocked with, as this snap shows:

 

Extreme danger in the Schwabian Biosphere Reserve

The Schwabian Biosphere Reserve is an amazing, amazing place of nature, where you can talk long walks and enjoy the trees and the flowers and the birds.

And occasionally have a panic attack, such as coming across something that looks like this:

The hidden sign catches your attention, so you move a bit closer and see this:

In German the text reads: Lebensgefahr! Absolutes Betretungsverbot. . . which is roughly translated as “Life threatening danger! Tresspassing is absolutely forbidden! This complete area is forbidden due to its previous use with munitions.”

 

 

Carthusian pond

As artful a snap as I thought I could take of a pond across from an ancient Carthusian monastary in north central Switzerland:

It’s really more of a holding pond for water that trickles down the hill above, chills for a while in the pond, then continues down to the Thur River below.

Testing Tweets

Intense, passionate conflict between heartfelt human emotions

Deep within the Swiss village of Rorschach there is an open air art exhibit that provokes intense conflict between conflicting emotions. This is one of the most magnificent, stunning works of open air art I have ever seen, because the artist has very carefully established an intense, passionate conflict situation between heartfelt human emotions.

But what emotions are these?

The beautiful – stunning works of mosaic art, very carefully crafted over weeks if not months.

The hideous – enclosing these magnificent works of art in ugly industrial monstrosities.

The callous – letting weeds and wild grass grow within the monstrosities, showing the world that despite a superficial attempt at protection, in reality no protection is intended.

Here is an example of one of these:

And here is a second example:

Magnificent, absolutely magnificent!

Those amazing Ritley’s: the world’s first selfie

Continuing the series, I am always surprised when I encounter someone who has not heard the name Ritley.

OK, maybe I am an exception – I have not yet made my mark. But . . .

Hardly a man, woman or child anywhere on the face of the planet has not heard of their stunning accomplishments. They are a family steeped in the tradition of excellence, whose capacity for profound intellectual thought is exceeded only by their talent to affect meaningful changes (which often border on the revolutionary) to the fundamental problems of global significance they selflessly tackle.

This snap is not just any snap. Now hanging in the world famous Smithsonian Institution (Record Number SIA Acc. 11-006 [MAH-3002]), in its very own case in its very own room, it is in fact what most historians universally agree is the world’s first selfie, taken during the 1970’s by Arlene Ritley, using a real camera with real film:

As a very small boy I remember seeing this snap for the first time and simply being amazed – turning the camera to take a snap of the person doing the snapping. “This is amazing and unbelievable!” I think I said.

And Mrs. Ritley turned to me with a warm smile, then she slowly raised her head and looked deep into the distance, saying to me – and I remember it well –  “Oh, glorious day upon us!” It seems Ritleys are always using expressions like that. “Remember this moment, my dear child, for I am calling this revolutionary technique a selfie, and I am hereby giving it freely to the world – just like generations of Ritleys have done – for the betterment of all mankind.”

And with this Ritley contribution, many decades ago, the selfie was born.

If you happen to one day make it to Washington DC, and if you have a bit of spare time to visit the Smithsonian Institution, just ask any docent to point you to the Ritley Room – a tiny room to be sure, but the only room in the entire museum to house just one artefact, the world’s first selfie!

Those amazing Ritley’s: the historical context

I am always surprised when I encounter someone who has not heard the name Ritley.

The Ritleys.

OK, maybe I am an exception – I have not yet made my mark. But . . .

Hardly a man, woman or child anywhere on the face of the planet has not heard of their stunning accomplishments. They are a family steeped in the tradition of excellence, whose capacity for profound intellectual thought is exceeded only by their talent to affect meaningful changes (which often border on the revolutionary) to the fundamental problems of global significance they selflessly tackle.

For more than half of recorded history, the Ritleys have distinguished themselves by their extraordinary and selfless contributions to the welfare of mankind. This tradition was begun in southern Europe nearly fourteen centuries ago, by the inspired Roman emperor Licinius Ritleyus Magnus, who directed the finest scholars of that era to prepare a manuscript (the Constabular Codex) which could serve as constitution for a revolutionary new form of government, democracy. This Constabular Codex was borrowed and translated from Latin and used nearly vebatim in 1215 by King John of England, where it thereafter became more widely known as the Magna Carta. It is said to form the cornerstone of liberty and the chief defense against arbitrary and unjust rule.

The Magna Carta, an important document that transformed the European approach to government is almost an perfect transcription of the somewhat older Constabular Codex, written by the great Roman emperor Ritleyus Magnus.

Politics, natural philosophy, art, medicine . . . Each subsequent generation of Ritleys has pushed this legacy of excellence to an even more stunning degree. From the philosophical contributions of St. Ritley of Aquinas in 1428 (who, blind and deaf in his later years, communicated his thoughts to his next-door-neighbor Thomas, who wrote them down),

Shown with pen in hand, St. Thomas of Aquinas profited by transcribing the brilliant ideas from his next door neighbor, the much more famous St. Ritley of Aquinas

to the engineering accomplishments of Ewan MacRitley and his revolutionary device for sheering sheep in the Scottish Highlands (the sheep were skewered laterally through their midsection and spun at high speed, as upon a lathe) —

The very clean results obtained by shearing a sheep using the technique developed by Ewan MacRitley, by skewering the sheep then rotating them at high speed on a lathe. Unfortunately, certain physio-mechanical problems involving sheep and skewer are irreversible and have yet to be overcome.

there is no one alive in the world today who has not been touched, time and again, by the profound legacy this family has left to mankind.

And today, the tradition continues!

In subsequent blog posts I will share some revolutionary ideas that the modern generation of Ritleys has brought forth to the world.

The mind-blowing mystery tower hidden deep in the forests of Switzerland

Switzerland is a land of many secrets. Everyone knows about the banking secrets, where anyone around the world can hide their money in a famous numbered bank account. Everyone knows about the secrets of lost paintings from WWII, hidden deep in bunkers underneath the Swiss Alps. Everyone knows about the secret Freeport in Geneva, which provides storage lockers at an airport that bypasses customs control, no-questions-asked, and where, according to experts, the overwhelming majority of the world’s art and archaeological treasures have been squirreled away by poachers and collectors alike.

But if you have lived here as long as I have, you know there are other secrets – real secrets – secrets so terrifying that even the Swiss themselves never speak of them, even in the privacy of their own homes. Secrets which, if you were even to whisper them to a close friend at a bar, mean you would be likely to simply disappear.

The Eschenberg Tower (in German, the Eschenbergturm) is one of these mysteries. It has been rumored to be a huge steel tower, many hundreds of feet tall, hidden deep within the thick forests of north-central Switzerland.

Who built it? Nobody knows.

Why was it built? Nobody knows.

Does it really exist? A secret that no Swiss will ever reveal to you.

Well, for several years now I hike through the forests – not knowing exactly if this rumor is true – so you can imagine my surprise when I found myself on a lonely hiking trail and I saw this sight:

Could this be that mystery tower?

My heart began to heartbeat. My pulse began to pulsate. My sweat began to sweatswate.

I approached slowly – and cautiously – in a state of near disbelief – until my eyes gazed upon this incredible sight!

It is indeed a tall tower, many hundreds of feet tall. Here is as artistic a snap as I thought I could get:

So, yes, I can confirm that this tower really does exist. But I cannot even dream of letting you know where. And in fact, after leaving he tower, I totally wiped my mobile phone to ensure there was no electronic trace whatsoever of where I have been.