The Ammer-Amper Radweg (AAR), Bavaria

Starnberger See from Gasthof Cafe Seeseiten

I am trying to get my fitness up to a decent level. I always feel that I should be able with ease to do 80kms in a day. 4 days’ ago I did 67kms from Munich to Starnberg to Tutzing and felt pretty well trashed after it. Yesterday I have had another go with better results. I did not manage more kilometers largely because I ran out of time. I started out heading from Munich to Dachau along the Würm cycle route. Relatively easy, but once in Dachau the cycle routes become less visible. I was looking for the AAR. Having found the Amper River heading into the town, I quickly saw the route markers and followed them. Short into the ride, the path gives two choices, one north to Allershausen and Moosburg, the other South West to Eching am Ammersee, Kempton and beyond. I took the northern route thinking that Freising would be a good destination – a terminus for the S-Bahn to get me back again.

This is not the prettiest route, there is quite a lot of intensive arable land. At this time largely growing sweet corn, but it has its moments. The Amper, like many rivers, just attracts flora and fauna; and when the sun shines, even a view from a utility bridge looks exquisite (right, just through Dachau). The route on a summer Wednesday was not very busy. It is fair to say that it would be peaceful if part of the route was not directly under the flight path of Munich airport. For a good part of the day, a constant stream of parallel planes preparing to land on the parallel runways threatened the enjoyment. But I suggest that riders persevere because the route does eventually move away and the peace is restored. There is a lot of water; not only the river, but also many pools (left), at least one of which (very close to Würmmühle, supports leisure swimming (it has a pontoon and steps to access the water). There is also a lot of forest; on a hot day, a good forest can be really cooling and also dampen any sounds that might be coming from planes or the nearby motorway.

I made it to Kranzberg but failed to see any directions towards Allershausen, so I opted to follow a sign for hikers directing them towards Freising. Not a bad idea, though the path ran out at Giggenhausen (5km short of Freising). A bit of road had to be done; though it was not too bad. Freising is nice. Good decision.

So today, I went back to Dachau and took the southern route. I had intended to follow the route all of the way to Eching and then move on the Herrsching where I could pick up the S-Bahn. It was not to be for a number of reasons. Though a key one was finding myself on the wrong side of the river necessitating a bit of tracking back to find a bridge. Many of said bridges are wooden (right close to Olching). Plenty of picnic places, but not many other eating opportunities. I found one Gasthof that was open (Gastätte Amperlust).

The southern route is much like the northern route. There are also some aeroplanes, though they are a little higher. There is lots of arable land to navigate. Plenty of forest, too. I only managed as far as Fürstenfeldbruck (40 kms from my starting point). Eching was signposted as another 22kms and Herrsching maybe 10-15 beyond that. With the time available that was too far. So I took a path to Munich via Aubing. And as ever, one finds things that one does not expect. For example, Puchheim, wonderful cafe/chocolatier (left with coffee at €1.60!).

Finally, there is always the thrill of industrial archaelogy. Now, it is quite normal to demolish buildings that are old or are no longer useful/functional. So to come across a large, derelict industrial building is unusual and quite exciting. I have no idea what it was, but it was worth a picture (right). It does look like it will be demolished shortly.

 

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My current climate change reading

I have been writing some short entries on my LinkedIn page recently. I thought it might be worth adding them to this blog.

  1. One of the issues with climate change is that we are finding that the estimates of, say, the rate of glacier melt, ice sheet loss, etc. is greater than we anticipated. This gives deniers the opportunity to say that the science is wrong. Why do scientists get the estimates wrong? A recent scientific American blog (https://lnkd.in/eP4k_k8) offers an insight into this. In a nutshell, there are different groups working on the estimates. “Consider a case in which most scientists think that the correct answer to a question is in the range 1–10, but some believe that it could be as high as 100. In such a case, everyone will agree that it is at least 1–10, but not everyone will agree that it could be as high as 100. Therefore, the area of agreement is 1–10, and this is reported as the consensus view.” The consequence is that if the few researchers estimating on or near to 100 are actually correct, their estimates are not reported. Instead, the consensus view is taken as a correct estimate rather than one that itself is subject to some error and judgement rather than as fact. Scientists make judgements on the basis of data; some may feel, understandably, that there are insufficient data to shorten the estimates. Essentially more work is needed. In the meantime, the ice melts.
  2. Furrer et al Business & Society (2012) 51(1). surveyed banks to investigate the concept of decoupling, the process by which firms enact policy relating to a theme or topic, but do not sufficiently integrate it into the core business, such that it is rendered non-strategic. The identify three types of bank in the context of climate change – hesitators (they have a policy but do not do much beyond buying electricity on a green tarrif, but are the majority); Product Innovators (products are linked to environmental impact of investments, but are not linked into the value creation of the bank); Process Developers (have created inimitable climate-sensitive processes and products that potentially give competitive advantage, but still insufficiently developed in the value creating activities of the bank), Forerunners (integration of climate-sensitive products into the banks’s value-creation processes). Interestingly forerunners are the bigger global banks. There does not seem, in any statistically significant way, to be a link between local environmental imperatives and flexibility in the banks’ policies, suggesting that all policy is set centrally, probably globally. This might explain why European banks may not sell services around emissions trading for their clients.
  3. Böhm, Misoczky and Moog (2012) Organization Studies, 33(11) have another look at carbon markets. As suggested in earlier posts, carbon trading was pushed in Europe by the British partly because of a distinct possibility that some firms, like airlines, could make money out of the trading process. Böhm et al consider emissions trading between members of economic blocs (the EU) and between nations of the North and South both (the formal Clean Development Mechanism and the informal Voluntary Offset Market). Their conclusion – in line with the work of Newell and Paterson (2010) – all of these initiatives constitute climate capitalism which enables firms and elites further to accumulate, find new markets and exploit the poor (polluting, land accumulation, etc.). They are badly – or corruptly – regulated and are manifested in, often, unrecognisably-green large capital projects. Essentially, emissions trading is not a viable regulator of carbon production in its current form. The question is, can it be reformed or is Green Capitalism an oxymoron?
  4. Continuing on my informal literature review on business management and sustainability, yesterday I read a couple of papers. The first by Natalie Slawinski and Pratima Bansal, “A matter of time: the temporal perspectives of organizational responses to climate change”, Organization Studies (2012) 33:11 makes the following point: firms can be classified as short-term or long-term. Short-termers are firms that invest in and utilise technology towards reducing environmental impact such as carbon capture, with a view to reducing costs. Long-termers are not so good with the technology, but are more holistic, invest in alternative sources of energy, where cost reduction is not the primary objective. Neither is better than the other, necessarily. The second paper from the same journal, volume and issue, Gareth Veal and Stefanos Mouzas, “Market-based responses to climate change: C02 Market design versus operation” discusses carbon trading as a mechanism for reducing carbon emissions using the European Emissions Trading Scheme as a study. There is a lot of discussion about whether commodifying carbon is a good mechanism. I did learn that in the mid 80s when the UK held the EU presidency, it led on devising and implementing this scheme and ensured that European airlines were subject to it.
  5. Today I’ve read research by Lesrud and Meyer (2012) in framing climate change. Their empirical work involved surveying professional stakeholders in Alberta’s shale oil and tar sands industries. Not surprising there is some scepticism about human-generated climate change. What I did not know was that Canada withdrew from the Kyoto protocol in order to exploit these carbon-intensive resources.
  6. I’ve just been through the 14 most recent volumes of Strategic Management Journal and found not a single article on climate change. There are a few articles discussing CSR and stakeholder perspectives, but these are not focused on climate change; rather shareholder value.

Lucky Strike inanities persist

As observed in my previous post on not-so-Luckies, the current campaign shows an unattractive packet of cigarettes with some silly statement that one is meant willingly to waste time with. So, here (left), something like “make a compliment. Simply.  A stranger.”  Oh yes!  That is what cigarettes do for you. Only smoking strangers are willing to share your lethal habit and smell like an ashtray.

Let’s try another one (right). “Newly fallen in love. In 11 minutes. Offline…” I’ve no idea with that one. 11 minutes to smoke and fall in love with those that you have previously complimented in the cold and wet smoking shelter provided by your employer?

Thank goodness for JPS (left). Really simple until…one looks closer and there is a picture of one of the earlier advertising posters with those lovely young people slowly killing themselves whilst waiting to get into a festival of some kind. Interesting.

 

Deep leisure time

I’ve had quite a busy year. Many of us have. I am, at the time of writing this, in a short period of wind down and reflection. Only in these times is it possible to see things that one does not usually notice. First of all, wonderful interventions that humans make for other creatures that make a huge difference to them but requires just a bit of broad thinking when it comes to design. The picture on the left is a swallow looking after its young – it is mid-August, so I assume it is the second brood. But if you look carefully, this is a human-made thing. And what is more, it is in an underpass that carries a cycle- and foot-path underneath one of the busiest stretches of railway in Munich. Somebody consciously put it there.

Next, graffiti. In Germany there is a lot of official graffiti in underpasses and the like. This is not official (right), but it is on the side of a school. And what a school it must be when whoever sprayed it thinks that unless you read James Joyce’s Ulysses then one has not lived their own life (or a better translation than that). The point remains, how wonderfully bizarre, even if it is ironic. The School, incidentally, is the Bertolt Brecht Gymnasium in Pasing, Munich. That might have something to do with it?

Then there’s toilets. I was cycling along, actually looking for one. And here it is (left). It has an electric door opening to a spotless pissoir that is cleaned each time on leaves. Not good on water consumption, but jolly welcome.

In Munich, I have a favourite park, Nymphenburg Schloss Park. It is a castle with just the most amazing grounds. The trees are wonderful – basically, a collection of the former Kaiser. But that aside, this is real sanctuary. But where there are trees, there is an abundance of other flora and fauna. Dragon flies are just extraordinary and easy to find in the park. This one has large fans at the tips of its wings. Look more closely and one can see that this one is having a meal. Even more extraordinary, the camera on my mobile can capture this.

 

Lucky Strike plasters Germany Summer 2019

Ok, the summer winner is Lucky Strike. Everywhere one finds their inane slogans. Here (left) “Tell. A Story. With six words”. As if I have nothing better to do. OK. I rise  to  the  challenge. “Smoking  these  brings  premature,  painful death.” Or BAT knowingly sells addictive and lethal products.” Do I win?

Come on Germany – or at least the Government – fall into line with the rest of Europe and end cigarette advertising, at least on the streets.

Travel advice – missed connections on Deutsche Bahn

We all miss connections on trains and have to work out how to manage the journey. Natives know roughly how to negotiate their own railway system – I think I am reasonably good with the UK system, though by no means all-knowledgeable – but when we travel beyond our borders, it can be a bit daunting when things go wrong, especially at the end of the day when there are no more trains going to one’s planned final destination.

So, on 27 July 2019 I was heading to Munich from Hastings in the UK. That involved four different train operators: SouthEastern Trains, UK; Eurostar; Thalys; Deutsche Bahn (DB). The bookings had to be made through each individual train operator. Using ticketing agents makes it more expensive. They do not optimise on price. When booking one has to ensure changing time between trains and some delay wiggle room. For example, the Eurostar was 25 minutes delayed leaving London and accumulated further delays en-route; for example, waiting to enter the Channel Tunnel. I’d allowed myself 75 minutes changing time at Brussels Midi (left). About right for the middle of summer when it is really busy.

The train was making good progress towards Köln where I was going to change again at 1955 on to the ICE to Munich.  Changing time was 45 minutes. Owing to a power failure at Aachen, we were delayed by 150 minutes. That was my connection lost. So, what’s to do? The Thalys train manager was at the end of her tether. It has been a tough week with record-breaking temperatures and any number of delays as the infrastructure struggled to cope. I felt for her.

Here’s my advice, get a “Bescheinigung” (right) from DB. At Köln, there was an information “Schalter” on the platform (Gleis 4) where it could be issued. Essentially, this confirms that the connecting train was late (although it was a non-DB train that was late, it was late because of a DB infrastructure failure) and that it is possible to travel on a non-booked train at no extra cost. DB conductors are quite strict with tickets, so take the argument away from them, especially when our language skills are not the best. I eventually travelled on the 2230 Köln-München train. Arrival München Hbf 0602. Not the most comfortable experience as it is not a sleeper service, but it got me to my destination.

Happy rail travelling.

Summer 2019 cigarette advertising, Germany

The current crop of cigarette billboards in Germany are interesting. JPS continues its “death is better value than you might think” campaign (left, apologies about the shadow; confirms it is summer, I suppose). JPS is a curious brand that seems not really to know what it stands for. For example, elsewhere in this blog are examples of JPS and young creative people as well as JPS innovative packaging.

Then there is Winston. Not a regular high-street advertiser, but when it is there, one wonders about the campaign managers. The latest, “for short journeys, for long journeys” is particularly fatuous. That aside, the packaging now carrying acute warnings about the effects of smoking on health seems to suggest that blindness is a badge of honour. Maybe, another interpretation from the one probably meant, blindness is the short journey and the longer journey is death? Especially if one goes for the bargain 36 cigarettes for 10 Euros?

By contrast, Camel persists with the primary colours campaign (seemingly the “Let’s Camel” campaign) and has moved away from the “Do your thing” nonsense. So, Camel eschews the health impacts by focusing on the top of the package. The tagline seems pretty meaningless “spontaneously simply ride into the blue” – rather literal, I know, but it sometimes works with German. In line with Winston and JPS, there are 35 cigarettes for a tenner.

I found another example of this campaign on one of those circular billboards which point out to the road. These can be hazardous to photograph for obvious reasons.

So this one (right) tells us that it really really tastes good. Having never smoked, I cannot vouch one way or the other for this claim. It is still deadly. Echt!

Joan as Police Woman, Brighton, 21 June 2019

I was not going to do a review of this Joan as Police Woman gig as regular readers have probably read all they need to about our numerous audience experiences, most recently last year in Vienna. Indeed, I was not particularly excited about this “Joanthology” tour as it was billd as a solo set. Joan Wasser’s bands have, consistently, been excellent, worthy of critical review in their own right, and extraordinarily complementary to her vocals.

So convinced was I that it would be a disappointment, I did not attempt to write a set-list or get too close (the venue, a church, had unhelpful seating – we’ve never sat down at a JasPW gig before). Having said that, never before have we seen a grand piano on the set. Wasser’s keyboards are ordinarily electric/electronic and configured for standing only. So, all different. The audience was largely made up of Wasser devotees, and one get’s the impression that very quickly she felt at ease and amongst friends. I sense one needs to have that feeling when alone on stage. Indeed, she was conscious that there was part of the audience staring down on her from a balcony, prompting the comment after her first song, “I hope none of you people are piano teachers”.

So, Joanthology is Wasser’s self-curated “best of” album. A triple, with the third CD consisting of tracks taken from BBC sessions. We actually have yet to listen to these, having purchased the album a couple of weeks’ earlier. So, not much was new. Joanthology has a few new offerings. One of which is a song called “What a World”. Now having seen JasPW numerous times, this song is familiar. Though it turns out that Wasser performed this song for a few years before she decided it was largely unperformable. The absence of the song from the repertoire and its failure to appear on any of her albums did not pass by her most devoted followers who, apparently, badgered her to do something with the song. Or, as Wasser explained, to rework it into something that she could like.

Wasser was also drawn, disarmingly, to develop the story around “Real Life”. It is a love letter sent to a bloke she wanted to get to know better. The thing is, he was about 6000 miles away, so it was hardly ideal. Suffice to say, it did not quite work, but have a listen and pick out the lyrics that might have had an impact on the recipient.

Anecdotes aside, this is probably the most accomplished we have ever seen JasPW. Completely in control, at ease and beguiling the audience to a person. Whilst we did not have the best position in the church (churches have posts and generally lack raised seating or stages), it did not really matter. Wasser’s vocals just danced around her rearranged songs and curated set. She had to be on top form to pull this off. She was on top form.

December in Seville – Museo de Belles Artes

Take your passport for free entry into this wonderful example of a city gallery celebrating the work of its sons, if not artist daughters.

There is a lot of extraordinary medaeval – largely religious – art here. 

At last, something to smoke

 

It has been a quiet time on the cigarette advertising front. Those halcyon days of the Gauloises couple in the bath and the Pall Mall happy couples through the seasons. seem to have left us. The only narrative advertising at the moment is JPS (latest left). It’s couples again, one female, one male smoking, the other two watching them kill themselves. This time we are stuck in a queue on a dirt track of some description in Germany (check out the number plate); though there is some bunting on the side and a small roadside tent to suggest this is some festival thing. They have a cool box being used as a seat.

That is genius in comparison to West’s latest advertising. In-your-face West (right). Pretty  meaningless. “Gute Aussichten- Top Preis” Good view/outlook? This is all about price, though. 35 fags for 9 Euros. Red or silver. Made for good times, apparently.

And then there is…Down to Earth rolling tobacco. New up on billboards – though this one of an evening is obscured by a blue van. The campaign approach is not to disguise the harmful effects of tabacco; indeed, quite the opposite. They seem to be proud of their product’s contraceptive properties. Or even its carcinogenic qualities.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the following historical background to the product:

The company was founded in 1982 by Bill Drake, author of The Cultivators Handbook of Natural Tobacco, Robert Marion, Chris Webster, and Eb Wicks, a plumbing contractor who took out a loan to finance the startup. In January 2002 the company was acquired by Reynolds American and is now a wholly owned independent subsidiary of Reynolds American, which is in turn 42% owned by British American Tobacco. Japan Tobacco announced in September 2015 that it acquired the right to sell Natural American Spirit products in markets outside the United States.