Fear of the mask

“1, 2, 1, 2, is this thing on? Alright, let’s go.”

(sung to Fear of the Dark by Iron Maiden)

I am a man who walks alone
And when I’m walking a dark road
At night or strolling through the park

When the wave begins to change
I sometimes feel a little strange
A little anxious when it’s asked

Fear of the mask
Fear of the mask
I have a constant fear that something’s always near
Fear of the vax
Fear of the vax
I have a phobia that someone’s always there

Have you run your body down the hall
And have you felt your neck skin crawl
When you’re searching for the sight?
Sometimes when you’re scared to take a breath
At the middle of the room
You’ve sensed that something’s on to you

Fear of the mask
Fear of the mask
I have a constant fear that something’s always near
Fear of the vax
Fear of the vax
I have a phobia that someone’s always there

Have you ever been alone at night
Thought you heard gasps behind
And turned around and no one’s there?
And as you quicken up your pace
You find it hard to breath again
Because you’re sure there’s someone there

Fear of the mask
Fear of the mask
I have a constant fear that something’s always near
Fear of the vax
Fear of the vax
I have a phobia that someone’s always there

Fear of the mask
Fear of the mask
Fear of the mask
Fear of the mask

Fear of the vax
Fear of the vax
Fear of the vax
Fear of the vax

Reading conspiracy theories the night before
Debating witches and folklore
The unknown troubles on your mind
Maybe your mind is playing tricks
You sense and suddenly eyes fix
On dancing shadows from behind

Fear of the mask
Fear of the mask
I have a constant fear that something’s always near
Fear of the vax
Fear of the vax
I have a phobia that someone’s always there

Fear of the mask
Fear of the mask
I have a constant fear that something’s always near
Fear of the vax
Fear of the vax
I have a phobia that someone’s always there

When I’m walking a dark road
I am a man who walks alone

Dear America

as a citizen of Germany all of my life and a past scholar of the German school system I have learned about the past of our mistakes in our history. The mistakes of my grandparents and great-grandparents and how Adolf Hitler came to power at some point in our history, leading to a collapse of the institutions I have known for good all my life.

The whole system started to fall apart based upon a lie, the lie that the Jewish people were to blame for all the suffering out there. Soon, the conversation shifted from blaming Jewish people to blaming other folks. Or in the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Or in the words of the past Gerald M. Weinberg:

If you solve problem no. 1, problem no. 2 gets a promotion.

Watching the events unfold in your country has bothered me for the past five years. The parallels are striking at times, even though you are foolish enough to do your own mistakes and neglect them as often as I find parallels.

The events that happened now half a year ago, exactly 6 months to the date of my publishing this blog entry, you should listen more to what history can teach you. I still see you promoting a lie so intense that can become the downfall of your society. I still see you promoting falsehoods for the good of a few, rather than taking into consideration the goodness of your people or humankind in total. I still see you dragging yourself into the end of the democratic experiment that started more than 200 years ago on a daily basis.

Please consider my words moving forward. Not necessarily for me, but mostly for you. While I believe that a stable America may help in (re-) building a more stable world overall, I fear for the outcomes of the alternative reality that I see you heading towards.

Kind regards

a concerned German.

Troubling vs. Nurturing Organizations

Just a few days ago I got an inspiration driving my intellectual curiosity to the point that I finally decided to write a blog entry about it. It’s been a long time since I wrote regularly here, so bare with me.

The source of the inspiration stems from Virginia Satir’s The New Peoplemaking book and my observations over the years that workplaces sometimes are put into family metaphors. That triggered a thought while reading from Satir about troubling vs. nurturing families to adopt her words to organizations. I will probably invite you to join in my thought experiment while I keep learning from Satir’s almost 50 years old work in the following blog entries – I hope.

Continue reading Troubling vs. Nurturing Organizations

A tale of history

Disclaimer: The following story might be disturbing to some of you, especial if you happen to live in the United States of America right now. It’s more on the political side of things, rather than dealing with my more professional life. The sole reason for this is that I cannot keep my mouth (or blog for that matter) shut to the things that are happening around us today.

Hitler’s Signature

About nine years ago, my family bought a house that we hopefully will own directly at some point. It’s a rather old house, built in 1938, so I knew what we were setting up for when we made the deal. I knew I’d need to add new isolation, maybe new windows, and eventually replace the heating system that was roughly 20 years old at the time.

Step forward a few years, and it became clear we needed to replace the heating system. Not because it was failing, but because the chimney was getting wet to the point where the water came back into our living places. The chimney was pretty small, so a fix by a pipe was not an option. We didn’t have the means to buy a heating system right from our pockets, so I seeked to get a support program for replacing the old heating.

In Germany, that meant to get an assessment from an energy consultant. I made an appointment, brought the documents from the house construction with me, and let her dive through them. At one point, she called out: “Omg, the Führer signed this one.” And indeed, right on the first set of construction documents, there was Adolf Hitler’s signatory on it. I couldn’t believe it.

Then the consultant explained the circumstances to me. Back in 1937, the regime wanted to set up a military training ground in a village nearby. That military training ground still exists as of today. However, there was a small settlement of people in that area, so they relocated them. It turned out, that we bought one of the houses that were built for that matter. The houses left and right to ours have the same basic construction and were built for the same reason.

But this isn’t a story about our house or the neighbors’ houses.

Military training ground

There are public opening hours for the military training ground. As of today, German and British tank divisions use it for training purposes. At my first job, I found that the way to work was way more efficient when driving during public hours over that tank training ground rather than using the public roads around it, so I have been on that property a couple of times. You can still see the old village structures on there. And I will never forget the day when I found myself in my small car among 20 tanks, 10 in front of me, 10 behind, and got quite scared.

The German military base nearby isone of the largest – if not the largest – and according to Wikipedia, serves 4.300 soldiers. The British division is located closer to Paderborn in Paderborn-Sennelager, while the German troops are located in Augustdorf.

The name of the German barracks is indicated as “Gfm Rommel Kaserne” on road-signs, and I regularly drove by those signs for many years on my way to work. A few years back, I watched a piece on TV about Third Reich area military names still in use today. That’s when it clicked for me. General Field Marshal Rommel refers to no other person than Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, probably one of the most evil leaders during the Nazi regime in Germany.

My parents visited with us the close-by Nazi concentration camp in Bergen-Belsen, and I remember how sick that made me as a teenager to go through that part of our history. It’s a piece of our piece that I won’t deny, but also a piece of our past that I hoped would not exist. Back when I was in my 20s, my father consumed TV stations with the history of that area. At some point, he told me, that he was doing that because he never got to know any of that from his parents. They were outright silent on it, so as an adult he was still curious. Both my grandfathers served in World War II, and one of them even went into captivity in Stalingrad.

With all that in mind, I was disgusted to find out, the close-by barracks were named after such a leader from the Nazi regime, and even worse, the naming took place in 1961, several years after the Nazi regime had fallen. The name is controversial and has been debated for decades, according to information on the website of the Bundeswehr (German). Personally, I think they should rename it, but it seems to be decided by our military leaders whether that’s going to happen.

But this is not a story of renaming the local military barracks.

What this story is about

Now, suppose chancellor Angela Merkel or President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier were publicly announcing to keep the name of the military barracks to someone with a central role in the Nazi regime. A regime that killed several million people for reasons we consider outright wrong today. Don’t get me wrong, I think Field Marshal Rommel did do some achievements during his career. Is he worth remembering in this manner? I don’t think so.

Now, especially my American readers, go back to the moment where you read about me suggesting Angela Merkel would publicly announce to keep the name of the barracks, and your reaction to that. Go through this state of emotion one more time. How does your stomach feel? How does your throat feel like? What is going on in your mind?

This is the type of reaction that black Americans feel every day once they ride past a military barrack named after a military leader from your Civil War time. The is the feeling any non-white American has during an interview with your President when he puts renaming your military bases off the table. That is the feeling every black American has when being stopped by the American police force.

I don’t want to tell you what to do about it, as I think you probably already know.

Informed-consent workshop on LeSS with Craig Larman

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to join Craig Larman at a client for an informed-consent workshop on Large-scale Scrum (LeSS). Ever since I took his class in 2015, I was interested in how he starts off a LeSS adoption – or potential LeSS adoption, I should say. He asked me to do a write-up.

We had overall four days at the client. The first day was half Legacy TDD and half Impact Mapping. For day two and three we were off-site from the client with about 30 employees from different departments including finance and controlling, organizational development, and the CEO. The final fourth day we spent back at the client answering questions, and a three hours all-hands introduction to LeSS.

Continue reading Informed-consent workshop on LeSS with Craig Larman

Data-driven tests in Junit5.0.0-SNAPSHOT

It’s been a while since I wrote code these days. Back in late April however I found myself in a Coding Dojo at the Düsseldorf Softwerkskammer meet-up working on the Mars Rover Kata. I have a story to share from that meeting. However, since I tried to reproduce the code we ended up with that night, and I decided to give JUnit5 (and Java8) a go for that, I ended up with a struggle.

Back in the days with JUnit4 I used the ParameterizedRunner quite often to use data-driven tests. I never remembered the signature of the @Parameters function, though. The Mars Rover Kata also includes some behavior that I wanted to run through a data-driven test, but how do you do that in JUnit5? I couldn’t find good answers for that on the Internet, so I decided to put my solution up here – probably for lots of critique.

Please note that I used JUnit 5.0.0-SNAPSHOT which is a later version than the alpha, but probably not the final one.

Continue reading Data-driven tests in Junit5.0.0-SNAPSHOT

State of Testing 2016 – My view

Usually I don’t write many promotions for other’s contents on this blog as I try to keep it personal and focused on my personal views. Recently I was contacted on the International 2016 State of Testing report, and whether I would like to do a write-up about it. I asked whether it would be ok to post a personal view, so here it is.

Continue reading State of Testing 2016 – My view

Testing inside one sprint’s time

Recently I was reminded about a blog entry from Kent Beck way back in 2008. He called the method he discovered during pairing the Saff Squeeze after his pair partner David Saff. The general idea is this: Write a failing test on a level that you can, then inline all code to the test, and remove everything that you don’t need to set up the test. Repeat this cycle until you have a minimal error reproducing test procedure. I realized that this approach may be used in a more general way to enable faster feedback within a Sprint’s worth of time. I sensed a pattern there. That’s why I thought to get my thoughts down while they were still fresh – in a pattern format.

Continue reading Testing inside one sprint’s time

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