It’s Cross-Cultural Wednesday

Here at the blog, it’s cross-cultural Wednesday.

During the previous week the simple cultural differences about grocery shopping came up. When I was young and had never been to Europe I had heard that the Europeans were more likely than Americans to do daily grocery shopping and to get less at a time.

Now it is decades later: is it still like that? So far, in my own humble experience, which may not be typical, the difference that I have felt the most is this: 1) In the USA, usually, if a customer dares try to assert their right to use a re-usable bag they brought with them, the cashiers normally manage to force at least one or two more plastic or paper bags onto the customers. Those who accept being supplied their bag by the store, may be allowed to choose paper or plastic. 2) In Germany, many shoppers show up with their own basket. The situation is the opposite of how it is in the USA. If you have really neglected to bring your reusable bag or basket with you, the shop can sell you one – but they are able to trigger your sense of guilt or just social faux pas. Germans bag their own groceries except that they re-use their own devices meaning their skills at packing and estimating exactly how much fits both their budget and their basket – and often to ride their bike or walk it home.

For Americans in Germany the shock of the cashier staring at you as if you are nut job for not having brought your basket is profound. For Germans, I imagine that it may be truly upsetting – especially for the environmentally conscious, to bring in their basket and have unecessary plastic bags forced on them and to have cashiers look at them as if only naughty idiots touch their groceries immediately after purchase. In either direction, one can adjust but I think it is natural for someone to feel weird when confronted by the other approach.

Granted many of those who only use one shopping basket either shop often even though they are not financially poor or because they are. A lot of married women in Western Germany have not had careers and if their husband has not provided two cars or if she has not traveled with him in order to retain control of the car while he is at work, they are left with bikes, or public transit and their own feet. As a side effect, there are a lot of married German woman out there with their baskets as one means of getting out of the house even if they don’t have jobs.

Daily Life as a Spiritual Experience 2014

Here are a few basics tenets of what spirituality is and how it works in real life.

1) Being alive means that you are having a spiritual experience. When it does not feel subjectively as if one’s life is not even vaguely spiritual that means that: A) either you have had your entire brain and life force removed or B) you are having a day or year or decade that spiritually actually is not, or does not seem to be working out for you.

2) Basic methods of assessment: A) If it is making you miserable but making you (or I or anyone) a better person – like drug or money or sexual or political power withdrawal or some kind of misery like that, no longer beating your spouse or stealing etc… Then it is probably spiritually good even though it sucks right now. Sometimes things get worse before they get better. B) if the misery is not being caused by painful changes that are causing you (or I or all of us) to become a better person then spiritually that may be more like bad pain than good pain and you should change what you are doing. C) Done correctly, good oriented spiritual practices will also help you be happy and to have a life that you like although you will meet people who disagree or who don’t fathom how the life that is right for you is not the way they prefer to live.

It actually takes place in the real world. The best simple way to understand is to say that it has to do with being aware – self consciousness is a biggie in those who like to get into dialog about what is spiritual and what is not.

Writer’s Advice – mixed bag February 2014

There is a lot of advice out there for amateurs and for those aspiring to be professionals. It does seem to be true that when the successful are polled although they did all have to write well and make the right connections the ways that people connected the dots, so to speak, is not the same. It seems the individuality does have a real influence on the best methods for how someone can find their own greatest success.

For those really just looking for a steady job there are ways to do that as a writer but the whole approach and ambiance may be different from that of ‘the writer as artist’ or ‘big, huge star author’. The most published writers are often the journalists, advertising writers. The other mos published do so as part of their daily jobs that may make some writers uneasy. As previously mentioned: grant proposal writers and people working corporate documentation.

Other prestigious positions as writers, are the academic realm and in the arts.

Nonfiction books often sell more easily than fiction although passionate readers of fiction may find that hard to believe.

Blogging – what does it mean? 2014

Here we are again. You readers are welcome and appreciated whether that’s my Dad or if it is one of women and men who have connected with in an online only or even Ashley checking in after she’s been back in the USA for a while.

Two people I have some personal feelings about are having their birthdays today. I won’t go into it any further than that.

Blogging: why do I even do it? Back when I was often easy to find at the Monon Coffee Company in Broad Ripple for at least a few hours weekly or only 4 hours every two weeks if I had less interest there were other people who blogged including ‘Jen who usually wears a dress.’ Jen is younger than me and I think she managed to get hired writing about food. We were never close but were often in the same cafe at the same time. We are the same gender but I have been observed in trousers more than in a dress during recent years. I have mostly worn dresses and skirts at work. I can break the habit of not and get back into dresses but have to remember to not engage in certain kinds of play or work when I do and it can take a few weeks or even months before everyone gets used to seeing me in a skirt or dress enough to influence me in the morning by having changed their expectations of what I will be wearing when they see me.

I have been told by professional writers that if I am a professional writer I should blog. I liked people reasonably well, as well as preferring to write professionally rather than only as an amateur but I write more from love than out of ‘obeying my boss’ and that really shows in both bad and good ways.

I’m not always sure what it means that I do. That may be normal. If nothing else, some of you will read a few words from me today and remember that I exist.

Next Steps 2014

The Children of Loki is now a complete science fiction novel. Presently I am seeking literary agent representation and a good publishing contract.

There are mixed reports from other authors about how hard or easy it is the first time. I have met authors who did have their very first novel published by a respectable publishing company without an agent and other authors who wrote loads of novels, then turned to self publishing in the hope of making any money from all their work. That is far from the whole story of how it works. I’ve heard of people landing a great contract on their 5th novel, or that after becoming famous customers aka FANS will buy all that stuff the author wrote while still being scoffed at.

I would prefer to land a contract that gets it released by 2015 but there is no guarantee. This makes 2 novels so far by this author. Expect more.

Environmental Sustainability in a German Village 2014

Some of them could tell you in English and others would explain in body language or perfectly clear German.  Obviously, if the German makes no sense you will get confused despite their straightforward, clear verbal expressions. 

There are many who care about the environment around here.  It shows in a variety of ways.  Waste removal is handled rather well and to a level of complexity not even Americans are used to. 

In addition to that, many local farmers – and Farmer Schmidt really does live locally to where this message is coming from, may make many decisions based on knowing that the land needs to still be fertile in 100 years and that poisoning everything with pesticides is not a good idea. 

Not only that, but there are wind farms around here supporting clean energy for the future.  This is a modern reprieve of the wind mill.  Where this message is coming from there are a few of the really old wind driven mills in the village, and over the hill giant modern metal wind farm wind mills stand tall.  This region is very much like the flatlands of the American Midwest with a steady strong wind coming in from the West – unless you are heading into Doerverden in which case the wind tends to blow in your face irrespective of which angle you approach the center of the village from.  No need for a motorcycle just to feel the wind blowing in your face here. 

Finally, there are also solar panels around town.  Not everyone has them but there are noticeable enough for regular G8 nation types and the borgeoisie to be pleased and impressed.

Most of the time the brick work seems almost paranoid, but a great way to protect the forests…until we get really strong winds and I start praying that the breezes won’t make a mockery of the little bits of clay sticking up in the path of the wind.  Luckily it was only like that twice last year. 

If you see an animal which has natural head gear that looks just like the Loki crown in the Thor movie, guess what – you’ve spotted the local big goat.  They really do sport horns of that exact kind and have beards as stylish as urban adult male jazz musicians.  You can wave or pretend its nothing.  I am only aware of 2 in the whole village which are really like that.

Poetry – a personal view

Warm weather

Light souls

Elves or just small animals – observing, fluttering, hearing, as if you are really there

Teen using lap top

Woman as Mom using laptop

My kid calls me by a nickname I first used when working at a Summer Camp – actually taking care of younger people before they grew up.  I was sincere but there was less commitment than with my own child. 

Poetry can allow people to express various aspects of one situation.  I do like free verse, but I am enough of an educated intellectual to also like
it when people using classical verse forms.

Oh, sure, just explain that it 4 line stanzas of iambic pentameter and remain clear

When I have tried it, I sometimes found that one line makes me have to go back and change three other ones because it really won’t work otherwise.

By the way:  Thanks to having spent 1994 – 1999 living in the UK, my own countrymen, the USA will not accept blood donations from me.  In a way this makes me happier but they said it because I have been exposed to England’s “mad cow disease problem”.  I think it was caused because someone made them cannibalize and they know it is wrong so much that it makes them go insane even when they were not told that was what they were being fed.  There are chicken farmers in the USA who I heard do that.

That was not iambic pentameter by the way.

Sticking in comments that seem unrelated unless one understands the situation does not always yield good poetry but sometimes it does.  When reading poetry ask yourself: would this make sense in the context of an entire situation even if it does not make linear, one topic sense?

I am not sure, but the Germans might not use as much growth hormone on their dairy cattle.  Around “here” there is not so much early onset adolescence as in the USA with the present generation.