Scope Creep

What is scope creep?  Click here, or see the following extract:

Scope creep refers to a project that has seen its original goals expand while it’s in progress. As the term suggests, scope creep is a subtle process that starts with small adjustments and ends up resulting in projects that take far longer to complete or even fail before they are finished. Even if the project is completed, scope creep can result in final deliverables that look nothing like what was originally envisioned.

Scope creep may also be called creep of scope.

Think:

  • Death by a thousand cuts
  • Boiling a frog

Then you probably have a good idea about what this article is about.

Those of us who work in projects know what scope creep is.

Build me a car.  Here are the specifications.

Then five hours before planned delivery date:

Oh, and can the car also have a kettle built in?  And it should be blue.

Scope creep also happens in our daily lives.

At church:

G in G, can you organise the annual cricket match in a fortnight.  Our team captain is on a business trip and can’t organise it.

Sharp intake of breath.

Yes, I will.

(Passive aggressive British “tut” and shrug of shoulders.)

Then two days before said match…

And can you pop over to church to load the cricket kit into the church car?

(Strange, I thought I was organising, not doing…)

Then one day before the match…

Can we [= you] put the TV on in the church so that the cricket players can watch the England games straight after the football match?  Can you also let the cricketers know that they need to start one hour earlier?  Also, can you come to church on Saturday to mow the church lawn so that the visitors get a good impression of church?  [And fourteen other requests.]

So from organising to being literally hands-on.

Voom!  Pup!  Pup!  Pup!  Lawnmower starts on a scorching hot, redhead-unfriendly morning.  Schatz, patient as ever, is sitting in the shade.  Mrs Busybody is standing over me.

Why have I set the blades at this level?

Why don’t I empty the lawnmower bin more often, like I do?

Why haven’t I mown the grass behind the church?

I bite my tongue.  I grit my teeth.

I finish the mowing.  I come back to Schatz.  I turn into stereotypical fiery redhead.

A dictionary’s worth of expletives leave my mouth.

I tell Mrs Busybody:

I have done everything you asked.

I add:

I am sorry.  I cannot help you any further.

This is a British euphemism for:

Now get lost and leave me alone!!!!!

I head off to cricket and drink a pint of Pimms in the shade.

Howzat!

Have an un-creepy day, won’t you!

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Pack die Badehose ein…

Pack Your Swimming Trunks is the title of a German-language song from the 1950s.  Last weekend Schatz and I did not need to pack them.

We decided to spend Saturday, a glorious, sunny, day (28 degrees celsius) at Unterbacher See, a beauty spot to the south of Düsseldorf.  Specifically, the south beach, where the FKK (naturist/nudist/au naturel) section is to be found.

I had been two or three times before, and I liked it.  Clear water in the lake, very friendly people.  Schatz had seen some of my pictures from Unterbacher See.  She had visited its website.  She, too, wanted to try the place out.

G in G:

Schatz, are you sure you’re happy to go to the FKK section?

Schatz:

Yeah, what’s the big deal?  I’ve sat in the Tecaldarium sauna before.  No problem at all to go there.

G in G:

Fair enough.  Let’s do it then.

One hour and €4 each later we arrive at Unterbacher See.

Schatz:

G in G, you will need to wear one thing here.

G in G:

My glasses?

Schatz:

Yes, and your hat.

We reach the FKK area.  Schatz picks a suitable spot in a slightly shaded area next to a row of trees.

We drop off our things.  Towel, goggles… clothes.

All of them. Every. Single. Piece.  (Except for my hat, of course.)

Schatz gets undressed as casually if she were about to jump into the shower, totally un-bothered about being in her birthday suit (Adamskostüm) with what seems to be half the population of Düsseldorf.  (Well, let’s just say, hundreds of people there.  But only one redhead there – namely, me, Ginge in Germany.)

We both lie down on our beach towels, pretty much oblivious to all the other birthday suits surrounding us.  Schatz rolls over.  I spray sun cream over her body from head to foot.

 

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!  Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!  Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

 

The sun cream is a bit cold.  Probably not a bad thing when it’s nearly 30oc.  One side, then the other.  (Now Schatz has a good idea how it is to be a rotisserie chicken.)

Schatz gets her e-book out and starts reading as if she were on her living room couch.  I do the same with my book on Russian grammar… as one does.

After a few pages, Schatz suggests going for a (skinny) dip in the lake.  We go ankle-deep.  It’s slightly cold.  By no means a complaint.  It’s what you need.  Schatz is the first to immerse herself in the water.  Like a coward, I walk into the water up to my armpits.  I then take the plunge.  Literally.

Whoooooar!  That is nice and cooling.  Good job we have waterproof sun cream on.  We swim for a good twenty minutes.  It’s too nice to come back to dry land.  Sailing boats and kayaks cruise by, waving to the people in their bathing birthday suits.  The  bathing birthday suits wave back.

Schatz comes back to our spot, borrows my rucksack to use as a pillow, rolls over and has a power nap.  I read my Russian grammar book.  Schatz is happy and content.

So, overall impression?

  • There is nothing at all erotic about an FKK beach.  If getting a thrill from naked flesh is your “thang,” then visit the internet, not the FKK beach.
  • Everybody there had body confidence.  There were people of all shapes and sizes there, from pensioners to single people, to families with children of all ages, all happily lying there or strolling around.
  • One thing: piercings.  Let’s just say, why would you want to place a bumper sticker on Ferrrari?  Why?  Why?  Why?
  • Nobody stares at you, not even at the only redhead there.  They’re all either reading their newspaper (handy in lieu of sun cream, I guess), their e-reader, or their Russian grammar book.
  • There is nothing as nice and as cooling as swimming au naturel in the lake (temperature: 21oc).
  • Schatz loved the place.  She was happy to lie there without any clothes – or the slightest hint of embarrassment.
  • She loved the coffee and the bratwurst at the snack kiosk.
  • Schatz herself actually mentioned there were no posers in the FKK section, but there were lots of them in the non-FKK section, preening themselves, worrying about their looks, planning the next bleaching of their nasal hair, etc.
  • We both plan to go again.  Next time I will plunge straight into the water, and not just tip-toe up to my shoulders and shiver.  Just take the plunge – literally.
  • From a health point of view, we both got our daily dose of vitamin D and no sunburn.  Bingo!

Have a textilfrei day, won’t you!

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Rule, Britannia!

So, main event completed: visit to my Dad’s grave.  Dead and buried, as he would himself doubtless say have said.  What did Schatz and I do on our four days in England?

Quite a lot in a short amount of time.  Fortunately the weather was remarkably on all four days.  Only when visiting the cemetery did we experience any precipitation – the right weather for such a visit.

Our base was Saltburn-by-the-Sea.  This time a 4-star hotel, a bit of a step up from when I lived in the town in the early 90’s: a bedsit.  The views!  Huntcliff.  The pier!  Redcar steelworks.  The beach, full of dog walkers and their dogs, happy as anything, tails wagging away for England.  I think I even caught the sun… (Not too difficult for a redhead…)

Saturday morning meeting with my ex-maths teacher and fellow church warden, Mr N.  “Call me Rob, not sir.”  Yes, sir.

Saturday dinner in the Thai restaurant, where the Thai waitress spoke surprisingly good German, having overheard me and Schatz speaking in Schatz’ native language.

Sunday morning stroll through the town down the cliff path, along the beach, taking hundreds of photos on the pier, then the hike back up the cliff path (someone maybe needed an oxygen cylinder in their rucksack).  Then our sore feet took us back to Emmanuel Church and the chip shop opposite, just as it opened.  Small cod and chips for Schatz; jumbo battered sausage, chips and curry sauce for me.  All consumed while seated on the church wall.

Finally, fed and watered, thanks to England’s liberal Sunday trading laws, back to our hotel room for a shower, followed by a lie down to let our feet cool off.  Not so much strength through joy, as sweat, through joy…

Have a joyful day, won’t you!

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The Modern Parents

First of all, a few facts about me.

  1. I’m a redhead.
  2. I live in Germany.
  3. I’ve a mum.
  4. I’ve no dad (since 16 January).
  5. I have my Schatz.
  6. I have no children (unless there’s some Boris Ginge-in-Germany that I’m not aware of from my year abroad in Russia).
  7. I believe in the saying, “None of us has been to the North Pole, but we all know it’s pretty freezing there.”

I haven’t read Viz comic for about fifteen years.   One of their best comic strips was The Modern Parents.  This is the topic of my rant du jour.  First of all, have a read of the following snippet.

mod

Before anyone says, “Ah, but you’re not a parent yourself, so how can you have a dig at parents?” please scroll back up to fact 7.

I’m not a parent, but I bump into them and their offspring at church, in cafes, on the tram, in the library and of, course, on Facebook.  So, in a way, I see myself as an outside observer.  Let me give you a quote.

I aim to be not just their [my sons’] father, but also their best friend.

Those were the exact words of B, an acquaintance of mine, in early 2017, whose sons Whatsapp him about once a month.

And some other quotes, this time from CEB, a former classmate of mine.

Number 1:

So [daughter’s name] and I have just tried out [son’s name]’s pesto crusted salmon as he got all the ingredients a week early. The Asparagus was very tasty, hope he manages as well in his master chef competition. Had to wait till 7 as we had to watch the golden compass for [daughter’s name]’s homework!

Number 2:

Mother’s Day over for me. Well done to [daughter’s name] who cooked smoked salmon and scrambled egg bagels with orange juice and coffee for me, my sister and niece.  Soooo impressed at the beautiful prayer she wrote for me for Sunday’s church service.  Nine years old, and writing like a theologian.

Etc ad nauseum.

Now clearly, to quote the liturgy, “it is right to give thanks and praise,” but I would question whether putting your children on a pedestal for everything they do, and in such a gushing manner, is really necessary.  Imagine if your line manager at work acted in a similar manner…

So proud of Fred for the way he cleaned the toilets at the bus station this morning.  Those endless hours of showing him how to mop floors have most definitely not been wasted!  Go, Team Toilet!

How about:

Astounded at how Julia has made such delicious slices of toast today, using our secret method.  Three customers have all taken photos of their toast this morning.  Catering Assistant of the Year!

All of these quotes just remind me of Mr “Which Was Nice,” a comedy character from The Fast Show, a hit comedy series from the 1990s.

Is the aim of all these posts to be “two-sheds”: Anything You Can Do, I Con Do Better, as per the song?  Is it projection?  “Because my offspring are so clever, that is proof that I am clever.”

As for being your sons’/daughters’ best friend, may I, as a mere non-parent, humbly suggest that you leave it to them to decide who will be their best friend, as a refusal can often offend.

(Am I being too harsh?)

Have a praiseworthy day, won’t you!

“We need to talk…”

First of all, your Bible quote du jour.

Matthew 18:15-17

Dealing With Sin in the Church

15 “If your brother or sister[a] sins,[b] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[c] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Since coming out of hospital a month or so ago, I had bitten the bullet and asked Billy to give me some space.  In other words, please stay away from me.  Like in the Jewish momma joke:

  • Don’t phone
  • Don’t visit
  • Don’t talk to me
  • Don’t Whatsapp me
  • Don’t email me
  • Don’t SMS

I had become fed-up of his:

  • Unsolicited hospital visit
  • Late-night starting arguments in his self-created Whatsapp groups
  • Interfering in everything from the colour of the toilet paper in the church toilets to how German funerals should be conducted
  • Etc etc etc
  • Ad nauseum

Last Sunday Billy asked to meet up with me for a coffee “to bury the hatchet” (sic).  I acquiesced.  I had a feeling the meet-up would be a bit pointless but we can but hope and pray, I guess.  And besides, I thought this could be my chance to tell him to his face what others had been saying behind his back.

We meet at the appointed hour, at the appointed place, a public place with plenty of people around.  I had prepared bullet points notes to refer to in case needed.

First ten minutes: stilted conversation.  My mind is thinking on every so slightly weightier matters than Billy’s new flat being near the big shopping arcade.  I am thinking of D, dying of pancreatic cancer.

After 40 minutes, 60 minutes, Billy is still talking about his new flat, like a ten-year-old telling parents what he had done at school today.  I am starting to day-dream.  The washing-up, the laundry, etc.

Finally – after an hour Billy remembers.

Oh yes, you said you wanted to talk to me about a few things to do with why you wanted space from me.

I tell him in a matter-of-fact way, very calmly without raising my voice (for I do not wish to encourage the stereotype of the fiery redhead) that I have serious concerns about his anger management.  I then give him a few examples of when he has exploded with rage.  He says he accepts he has anger management issues.  Good.  That’s a start.  But then at that incident and at this incident, if X hadn’t done this, he wouldn’t have had to scream and shout at them.  Someone else’s fault.  No personal responsibility.  Worrying.

I then ask calmly, like I was on my interrogator’s course again, is it possible that the reason why people have lost their temper with you is that you have provoked them time after time until they can take no more?

By now Billy has started cooking.  He has started hyperventilating, scowling at me, shouting over me:

No!  You listen to me!

All of a sudden, Billy grabs his coat and his daysack and storms out.

Oh, well, Billy has thus proved he has anger management issues.  Next time he sees me, he will probably move to the next step in his cycle of anger management, namely, look at me, puppy eyes and try to latch onto me and others heading off to Sunday fellowship lunch.  He’ll be wasting his time, I’m afraid.  High hedges make good neighbours.

Wer schreit, hat unrecht.

Have an anger-free day, won’t you!

rsz_anger-management

FKK’ing Eck!

Nudity.

There!  That’s got your attention, especially if you are a stereotypically repressed, prudish Brit…

And for those who are into puns, let me explain the title of this post.

  • FKK: German word, Freikörperkultur – literally, “free body culture”, or naturist.
  • Eck: shortened form of “Ecke”, German word for “corner”.
    • My Dad was a regular customer of a German pub called “Danziger Eck”.
    • There is a flower shop in Düsseldorf called “Blumen Eck”, which must belong to an Anglophile, “Blumen” the German word for “flowers,” and the shop name being a pun on “Blooming heck” (much beloved of Coronation Street characters).

Soooo, back to the topic…

Today I finally went to Unterbacher See, a local open-air swimming area, typical of Germany: an artificial lake with a park, artificial beaches, changing rooms, toilets, play park, etc, etc.  I’d been meaning to go for the past five summers.  Today I got my swimming kit and a couple of books and headed off there.

It turns  out the Unterbacher See also has an FKK area, also known as a “textilfrei” area at the southern end of the area.  I decided to throw caution to the wind and my clothes to the ground.  I headed off to that section, five minutes stroll from the entrance.  My observations:

  • There were hundreds of people there, of all shapes and sizes.  Most people made me feel anorexic, and the average age was 40+.  I’m guessing that once you’ve hit 40, most people’s pride and vanity have already gone.
  • There were couples there, there were families there, there were single people there.
  • Pretty much everyone was reading a book.  Many were reading newspapers.  I guess the newspapers provided better cover against the intense sun.
  • Nobody seemed to bat an eyelid as the sunbathers strolled around in their birthday suits, heading into the lake for a dip.  Likewise, nobody seemed be looking anyone else up and down.  And even if they had, well, a 46-year-old naked big-bellied German (or Brit) is not exactly erotic.
  • Even the staff at at the nearby kiosk did not react at all to the queue of Germans in the buff.  Let me just state here and now: I ordered a Cornetto ice cream.  I could not bring myself to order a bratwurst.

Two hours and two chapters of Blogging for Creatives later, I showered, dressed and headed back to the city centre, a slightly redder shade of pink, including parts of my “whitey from Blighty” body that do not normally see sunshine.

Would I go again?  Well, put it this way, I won’t be booking two weeks in a naturist resort.  On the other hand, sunbathing among a bunch of salad-dodging middle-aged Germans is actually a pretty mundane experience.  Mostly I would stick to clothing-on areas, rather than head for the FKK area.  At least now I can say, “Been there, done it, not worn the t-shirt.”

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Have a textilfrei day, won’t you!