Life’s a marathon. You need courage to start, strength, endurance and will to pertain and a bit of luck to be successful. Not all of us have their share of luck though.

That’s why Susan Keohan, one of our esteemed SAP Mentors, has initiated the SAP Community Challenge Fund Raising Campaign during SAPPHIRE NOW 2013 benefitting Doctors Without Borders.

During the 3 days of SAPPHIRE NOW 2013 from May 14-16 in Orlando, Florida, all the participants who sign up for the challenge will contribute to the fund raising by logging footsteps made, kilometer covered running, coffees consumed or any other “challenge” they come up with.

Susan put it like that:

“It is well known that over the course of the conference, attendees will be logging some serious footsteps. Some may even organize into morning runs – before the heat of the day can beat on us. Practically everyone has a smartphone that can track your distance or some other device like a Fitbit that will also track it.

If you will be doing enough running or walking, and prefer to track something else, how about how many coffees you consume, or how many evaluation cards you fill out after a session?  Or how many SAP Mentors you can get photographed with?  
You decide – anything that is fun, OK?”

I personally will contribute to the challenge by running and counting the kilometers covered. My goal is to go for the marathon distance over the three days of the Sapphire Now event. Let’s see whether I go beyond ;-)…

At the end of Sapphire Now 2013 in Orlando we will do the math, sum up all the contributions made, e.g. kilometers run, and make a corresponding donation to Doctors Without Borders based on our individual commitment.

Want to join and support the campaign?

If you want to support the campaign with your own contribution, either as participant or as sponsor of one of us already signed up participants, please don’t hesitate to sign up at our SAP Community Challenge Fund Raising site on the SAP Community Network or drop me a note that I should enter you…

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

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… of the cold. 10°C yesterday when I was out running, now we’re back at 2°C. It’s a freezing cold Siberian wind blowing from the East that takes all efforts to stop me, creeping through my soft-shell jacket, showing no merci with me. I feel like a turtle that wants to hide its head away in its shell, trying to minimize the skin surface that is exposed to fierce nature. For a moment the question passes my mind why I am out here? I wish I were 5725 miles away, somewhere warmer and less windy. But then I tell myself that I am not that easy to break. So all of me retreats into my inner shell, cutting myself off from the surrounding, my eyes locking in onto the trail ahead of me, my feet mechanically pushing me forward like a clockwork. The cold air hurts in the lungs with every breath and forces tears into my eyes. Which are nicely complemented by the song that I have chosen to keep me running today because of its powerful beat: Dry Your Eyes from Angels & Airwaves. LOL 😉

Sometimes, especially when traveling and in spots where I have not been before, I love running because it’s a beautiful way of exploring the surrounding. You take a steady pace, not too fast, and just keep going while you let your eyes absorb the scenery: a city just waking up early in the morning and people pouring out of the subway on their way to work, the illuminated shop windows in a main street at night immersed into magic neon light, majestic mountains encircling a lake in the Alps. When in “exploration mode”, I keep running and my mind nearly feels like floating around freely, open, curious, all around, going here and there, just absorbing. It’s a great way of finding out more about new places.

But sometimes, like today, when you know your way by heart, if one could send you out there with your eyes blind-folded or at pitch-black night, because you know the trail by heart, you’ve run there a hundred times, know every pothole you need to avoid and every tree root you shouldn’t stumble over, and if then the weather seems to have made plans to play games with you, then running is the exact opposite. Then I lock myself in. I don’t look left or right, just straight down in front of me. I put the music to maximum volume, have some song with a decent pace push me along, every part of my mind concentrated somewhere inside me (hopefully the head ;-)) and there is just one thing to do: Keep running. Forget all the rest. And keep going.

I like it both ways. The latter one is a bit harder to your will. But if I get into it, and add a bit of anger about the cold, or the wind, it’s the perfect mood to push myself over the limit. Just like today. Because when you start against the wind, and as usual want to return home after a while, the wind will have to blow in your direction at some point in time, no matter what. And that makes you just “fly” back home.

It got dark by the time I return back home. What a lousy weather. Enough of it now. Let spring come please. But for now I feel — fantastic again 🙂

“When I was a child growing up in Salinas we called San Francisco “the City”. Of course it was the only city we knew, but I still think of it as the City, and so does everyone else who has ever associated with it. A strange and exclusive word is “city”. Besides San Francisco, only small sections of London and Rome stay in the mind as the City. New Yorkers say they go to town. Paris has no title but Paris. Mexico City is the Capital.

San Francisco put on a show for me. I saw her across the bay, from the great road that bypasses Sausalito and enters the Golden Gate Bridge. The afternoon sun painted her white and gold rising on her hills like a noble city in a happy dream. A city on hills has it over flatland places. New York makes its own hills with craning buildings, but this gold and white acropolis rising wave on wave against the blue of the Pacific sky was a stunning thing, a painted thing like a picture of a medieval Italian city which can never have existed.

I stopped in a parking place to look at her and the necklace bridge over the entrance from the sea that led to her. Over the green higher hills to the south, the evening fog rolled like herds of sheep coming to cote in the golden city. I’ve never seen her more lovely. When I was a child and we were going to the City, I couldn’t sleep for several nights before, out of bursting excitement. She leaves a mark.”

FROM John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley, 1962


[Teton Gravity Research Aerial Reel – The Bay Area in 4K from Teton Gravity Research on Vimeo]
Tip: Maximize video to fullscreen! And don’t miss lighted Bay Bridge at around 2mins 45secs…

Today’s the day. As if the gods had known it and are for once supportive to me, the sun’s shining when I wake up. It’s still only 2°C outside, but boy, the sun is shining. Finally. Today we will have our first rendezvous this year. Like every year on April 1st. The day starts with an appropriate breakfast — pankakes, maple sirup, icecream, orange juice, and a cappucchino, to get into a mix of Californian and Italian feeling. Ready for our day.

It was a Monday as well. April 1st, 1996. A very remarkable day for me actually. It was my first day as an employee of SAP Labs LLC. At the time still in Metro Tower in Foster City, before SAP Labs moved to Palo Alto where it is still today. I had just finished my Computer Science studies at university and had been working on connecting the SAP R/3 system to the Internet as my diploma thesis, when this whole thing turned out to be the start of a development project at SAP: the Internet Transaction Server. It makes for too long a story, but I ended up having the opportunity to come to California and work on the project at SAP Labs for 3 fantastic years. 

When I open the garage, she’s still there. I am relieved. Sometimes you wonder how you would react if the door opened and she was gone. Just a small pile of red rust left on the floor. Where she had been before. But she’s still there. As I have left her last October. Hidden under a red cover. It’s almost a celebration to uncover her. Carefully pulling the cloth off and revealing her step by step. Till finally, she’s back in old beauty. A bit older, but who isn’t? Still in perfect shape and her eyes blinking in the sun… She’s my 1969 Alfa Romeo Spider 1750. A real beauty, I think.

Alfa Romeo Spider 1750

I can still remember how exciting it was to arrive in California and start living and working there. Everything was a new experience and needed to be explored. I only knew San Francisco from the movies or stories I had heard and now being there, visiting the City in all its beauty, absorbing the buzz and the new impressions was for sure worth an experience. That’s when my love for the City got started. Love at first sight. She really left a mark with me.

Some careful wipes with a soft cloth to get the last signs of winter off — some dust here and there. We need some checks of fluids and the battery — still fine. So I carefully take a seat behind the steering wheel. Insert the car keys, send a prayer to heaven and turn the ignition. The engine gives it a try, but only for a split second. We try it a second time. Nothing. Hey, we’ll need some time together again, as it seems. Lot’s of talking. Begging. And finally, I’ll get her started… Not very smooth yet, but we’ll get there. As every year…

Alfa Romeo Spider 1750

We worked in a small team. Just four guys and a mission: Get the product ready in no time. I can remember how we worked like crazy: Thomas G did the development and benchmarking tools, Michael B did the R/3 specific protocol adaptations, I did the server core and the installer and Michael H took care of all the rest, including our travel itineries to Germany and back every few months. Some days we worked through all night, just to get the next milestone done or reach yet another looming deadline. It was the best team I ever worked in. The most influential project that I ever had the opportunity to be part of. Lot’s of hard work, but also lots and lots of fun! 

So finally, after some time getting warm with each other, we can take off… Leaving town behind us. Driving through the open fields. The cold wind blowing around my head, the wooden steering wheel feeling nice and soft in my hands, the sun above, the heating slowly getting warmer from below. It’s that very special feeling again. The one that makes her so unique. And she’s getting into it as well. Her engine gets warmer and runs smoother and smoother with every mile that we pass. She’s back to life. Finally. I think we’re getting into it again this year. It’s all memories and nostalgia about previous summers we’ve spent together. It will take some time, but we’ll get there again. We’ll have a great time together.

The three years passed like nothing. For some or the other reason the decision was taken to go back to Germany and not stay in California. It’s difficult to tell in retrospective what set the trigger. Many reasons coming together. But I guess you have to loose something first to really learn to appreciate what you had. Till today I wonder from time to time why I didn’t stay in California? How would my life have been since then? How would it be today? What opportunities did I miss? Was it right to go back to Germany? But then, in the end, I tell myself that it doesn’t matter. Decisions were taken differently at the time. Even though it was one of the best times in my life, it’s the past. And so things are as they are. What does it help to speculate about what could have been? It’s all memories by now. The only thing one can influence is the future.

Me and herSo Maybe this will be my year


It’s six days to go. Six days. I am getting excited. Six days until I will open spring season.

Today I open the traditional ceremony by watching my all-time favorite movie again: The Graduate. Young Dustin Hoffman’s debut from 1967. I have watched this movie a hundred times in the meantime, but I can always enjoy it again: The dialogs are hilarious, the whole visual appeal of the movie is timeless and the cuts are just brilliant! Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross and Dustin Hoffman are awesome… The soundtrack from Simon and Garfunkel is a classic!

I first watched the movie back then when I was still in school and later when I went to university. They played it regularly in a cult movie theater in Heidelberg. That’s when I fell in love with something else in this movie: Dustin Hoffman’s little red Italian car: An Alfa Romeo “Duetto” Spider! Funny how Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) is following his true love Elaine throughout California in the movie, riding through beautiful Californian scenery, crossing Bay Bridge in San Francisco, making his way from Los Angeles to San Francisco, to Berkeley, trying to gain her love…

While being at university in Karlsruhe, I had a night-time freelancer programming job at a startup company in the middle of nowhere, Germany: A company called SAP, located in Max-Planck-Straße, Walldorf, that at the time had an already impressive number of employees: around 500. While most of my colleagues at the time were still working on a mainframe system called R/2 and there were just first steps made towards a client/server-based solution called R/3, I was the “PC guru” who was programming frontend applications to visualize and provide drag&drop modification of org charts in the R/2 and later R/3-based HR application. As you can see, the company was already back then visionary enough to identify the constant need for a tool to help companies to flexibly reorganize 😉

2013-03-26_21-32-40Anyhow, it happened that a colleague of mine at the time was driving one of the successor models of this Alfa Romeo Duetto Spiders: A black one, with some fashionable 80’s plastic spoiler that Pinin Farina must have designed onto his otherwise perfect design in a moment of total derangement. But in the end, it was the car I needed to get and when the colleague decided to sell it, I become the lucky owner of an Alfa Romeo Spider! Who cared about this plastic spoiler… That’s how it happened that in the following 12 months, you could see happy me and a friend of mine, both Computer Science students at University Karlsruhe at the time, ride with a big smile hammered into their face, wind blowing around their head with the top opened, to Karlsruhe every morning to follow some lectures at University, and back to Walldorf in the afternoon to start their second life as freelance programmers at a company called SAP over night… We had a great time back then…

2013-03-18_13-55-05The fun lasted 18 months roughly, until a strange and seriously concerning rumble from the rear axle convinced me that Italian convertables are perhaps not something that a Computer Science student with just a nighttime job should really invest into. So I sold the car before it became an expensive investment ruin.

But the dream about an Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider, the original from the 1967-69 period, the one with the round tail, nicknamed “Osso Di Sepia”, remained with me for years. Like the tradition to watch The Graduate over and over again whenever it was played in the movie theater in Heidelberg…

Finally, in 2002 I decided to go get a Duetto. I started to browse various oldtimer forums, online used car sites and travelled Germany in search for my Alfa Romeo Spider. After quite a number of disappointments and learnings, I made the one out. My Duetto. A 1969 Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider. Born 1969. White. Reasonable condition. Some minor things to fix, but otherwise original and in good shape. A re-important from the US. It seemed we had been in search for each other. And there we finally got together… Lol!

IMG_1695And now, every year since then, there is this tradition of me watching “The Graduate” again a few days prior to April 1st, when my Alfa Romeo Duetto gets out of its garage after winter. She gets hibernated in October every year, covered with a blanket and on April 1st, no matter what weather the day happens to bring, I carefully lift the blanket covering her, send a prayer towards heaven that oxidation has had shown empathy with us again this winter and there’s not just a small pile of rust on the ground left of her, and after some de-hibernation and cosmetics, we go for our first rendezvous of the year… The top open, the sun above us — keep your fingers crossed –, the wind around us and attitude clearly being that this will be our year again… Get out of our way, ’cause here we come… The only living boy in

Six days to go. Six days…

lol 🙂