Can we trust our memory?

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I am back to school… and two rather sad facts about human nature
I have learned during the last weekend. First is that it is almost impossible to get rid of the stereotypes which rule both our consciousness and subconsciousness. The other is that one absolutely can not rely on human memory.

When you hear such provocative statements you feel strangled with all of this sudden ferocity of our existence and first thing you want to do is to argue, to scream, to deny, to subvert all these arguments. But then you start to memorize: what was I eating three days ago for lunch? When was the last time you saw your parents? Have you seen this movie? Have you read this book? Have you met that lovely person before? Sometimes you may find yourself in an awkward situation and you must admit that you really don’t remember if you had an appointment with this lady or that gentlemen, this Mr President or that Her Majesty and you didn’t say what you thought you had said…

There are even studies which show that you can’t fully rely on the witness testimony during the criminal processes which in combination with severity of judgments which depend on the moment of a judge’s day and may result in a lighter sentences for criminals for the same crime if an early bird judge will give its sentence in the morning than if it would have happened in the evening… Isn’t the world cruel enough to give us another trouble? Would we ever overcome this memory “weakness” ?

From now on you will probably look from a different angle at the whole digitization, internet-ization, computerization, media-tization, etc. Has humanity found its Holy Grail for making the memory reliable? Isn’t the web already functioning as such? Aren’t those countless apps for smart phones already taking off from our shoulders the burden of memorizing things? Do you really think its going to make us more stupid now? Or shall we be thankful to the modern technology for its salutary influence on our daily life even for the price of carrying in each pocket those countless gigabytes of data which we may never use or see again?

If you think the technology make us stupid, well, wait for that early morning in the court when the night owl judge will have to make up his or her mind…

P.S. How a fruitful start of my postgraduate studies in social psychology at SWPS in Sopot… 🙂

The Plague of Plenty

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Problem statement

Good and sunny morning in my kitchen. There are hundreds of spices in the drawers, plenty of groceries in the fridge, couple of shelves filled with cans, bags and boxes and I am staring at the stove and thinking of what to eat. Eventually I take the bread with butter and sliced chicken with maybe few leaves of a lettuce. Like every morning…

Then when I finish my breakfast I go upstairs and open the wardrobe. There I stand still for few minutes to arrange my work outfit for today. Instead of new ironed shirt and new pair of chinos I grab a pair of jeans, polo shirt and the jersey. Almost the same as yesterday but with different colors and with definitely the same shoes. With the wardrobe packed with trousers, sweaters, t-shirts, and shoes I hardly ever wear 70% of them. So where’s the point to keep them all? Shall I wait for those rare occasions that will never occur or for the vintage comeback from the 90’s (my oldest t-shirt I’ve got is from the ’96…)

Then in the evening when I’m back from work and I want to have few minutes in silence with just one of my books I turn to the bookshelves. Each time I promise myself to read one of those untouched since I have bought them or got them as a present. I counted my library two weeks ago and there were 1206 books in the room and circa about 40% which I have never opened. When I am going to read them all, especially with the new books coming every week or so?

Question

How it come that with so many receipts in the internet we still eat the same things every day or at least every week? Is it a kind of a dreadful dressing routine or emotional attachment to those few quotidian clothes we wear? And is it just the laziness that keeps us out of the unread stories which are catching dust on the bookshelves?

Solution

Well, my cooking attitude was born in the 90’s when all we had for most of the dinners were potatoes, sausage and stewed cabbage.
I will remember for the end of my life those mid 90’s crisis breakfasts and suppers with a slice of bread with margarine and thinnest slice of tomato. I’m struggling with it even now while being called a minimalist or a kitchen layman whereas it is just the sense of unnecessary excess that causes confusion on my table. This attitude has secretly proliferated  into my wardrobe and onto my bookshelves. Therefore from now on I promise to buy only groceries from a snag list, to donate my wardrobe dust catchers to a charity and to free my unread books to a local library or to my friends and family.

Motto for next month:

Let me free from the excess, from this plague of plenty.

What if society is a tropical forest?

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People can use their hands and skills in many areas starting from handicraft, arts, services, care, farming, digging in the ground to picking up mushrooms or flowers and even in soldiering…Throughout the centuries thousands of such activities had been creating diverse and dynamic societies around the globe and across civilizations.
Now imagine you take the land from the farmers and give it to intense and big farming, you force the shopkeepers to close their workshops or stalls by opening new shopping malls, you pollute the gardens and orchards with toxic emissions and you destroy the factories or move them to other countries. What happened is you just removed many bricks from a wall thus made it weaker.
Even a light finger touch can make this fragile construction to fall into pieces or in other words a single spark can ignite this haystack of anger, frustration and hopelessness.

Now lets look at a forest. We all have been thought at school that
a healthy and strong forest consists of many trees species, bushes, grass, fungus and humus. Than on the other side we have human planted forests with very few type of trees if not with one which are extremely vulnerable to pests, wind and fire. Once destroyed it takes them ages to bring back a diverse life on its place. Anyway the factor of destruction is necessary to produce a new and rich ecosystem.

In our age of high unemployment especially among young people, with numerous examples of offshoring , moving machines, production lines and whole technologies to legally unbounded countries, where the employees are paid beggarly wages do we need a kind of destruction in order to bring back the natural balance of
a society? Can one use the parallel of a tropical forest to a human being society? If you consider humans as an ecosystem, why shouldn’t we try? We are animals though, so theoretically these rules apply to human race also.

Once we assume the above we must be aware of such a turning point may occur any time. Whether in form of a revolution or mass migrations, epidemic or other natural catastrophe we must be prepared. Do anything possible to keep our society in good condition, let the people use their natural skills and talents, free the spirit of human initiative and entrepreneurship.

And it is happening right now. Look around you and help all these city movements to preserve old professions, recipes, green areas, bicycle roads, children playgrounds, public spaces available to everyone and those who create any single workplace that can use the work of human hands and create beautiful things that a society needs or can use it for its own wellbeing and protection.

Be active, thing about your skills that you can share with others.
Be a living part of the unique tropical forest that your society constitutes.

Three weddings and a hangover

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This summer was full of weddings… It was such a fun that one could say that only a gay wedding was missing there this time. Unfortunately all those were not mine but these happy couples are still my close friends and to be there was a real pleasure and quite a new experience for such a wedding veteran like me. After few years break in this specialized entertainment industry I discovered that there are new fancy developments. Starting with VIDEOS! I watched it with my jaw down and eyes wide open and I thought yes, this is it! Just have a look at this example shoot in Wroclaw Thank you parents.

For those who prefer more traditional thank you you can now print a real professionally looking photo album with hundreds pictures.  There is plenty of printing services around you but just remember that prepare yourself and spend some time on editing to have an absolutely astonishing result and make sure the final product will be delivered before the wedding starts. The printing process may take longer than the time left to deliver it 🙂

An interesting variant from what I’ve seen so far were those famous speeches you have on the Danish weddings! These may take hours (fortunately during the dinner! 🙂 Speech is one of the main parts of the wedding ceremony as well as singing songs with lyrics based upon the groom and bride stories. Note that even if you don’t get a word in Danish you keep singing and laugh, its simply hilarious!

You will find such a variety of music both in Poland and Denmark and still you can dance your ass off if you like. With excellent live bands, basses, keyboards, percussion, vocalists, accordion, saxophone, acoustic guitar, piano, whatever you can think of…

When it comes to drinks I must admit that wine is taking over both in Poland and Denmark. Allthough both countries have nothing to do with wine apart from drinking it. Oh, ooops, I forgot, did you know there are  now some wineries in Poland and Denmark?? Just wait for the climate change to show its pawns! Have a look at Vineyard Cantina

Do you remember how to play wedding games? Well they always have played an important role all around the world. There is equal fun if you try to kiss the bride while the groom is out or you rip the veil off or cut the socks, or tail, or push the eggs through the grooms pants or run around the chairs or try to bribe the toast master to let you dance with the bride. All these wedding games make one good thing -bring the guests together and make real fun to all. So they did to me.

Yes, with all these videos, photo albums and games few things remain stable throughout the centuries – white dress, veil, good music, food and great fun. What else you need to help you survive this pleasant hangover next day?

All you need is yoga light?

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It started two years ago. With a patience typical for a “convert” I reached the point where I can touch my knees with my forehead and bind my hands behind the feet. However complicated it sounds like, the truth is there – yoga life brings you light!

I will always remember the night after my first yoga class when I slept like a baby and snoring like hell – as I was told the next morning. But who cared if I felt no sores, no pain, literally I felt like an angel! So I caught the hook or rather the hook caught me…

When I look now on my “yoga carrier” I may honestly say that it is still a yoga light one. Why? Have I ever tried to bath before and right after the class? Do I do it every morning and evening? Have I read the whole “Light on Yoga” by B.K.S. Iyengar yet? Did I give up on the whole meat of the world? Do I even fasten those two hours before the class? Nope, nope, nope, almost, almost there… And then if you watch few videos of any yoga guru you know that it is a yoga light version of what you are practicing.

But hey, tell me, isn’t it helping your body to relax? Isn’t your lumbago or migraine gone for good, aren’t your mornings so fresh now and isn’t your mind looking at things deeper than before? I bet they are, if not, please be patient, trust me and trust your body. It will do its job. Step by step you will get closer to your knees, maybe you will do it with the top of your head, and maybe you will even turn your full body on the other side but do it steadily! Remember, it’s not a competition, therefore no one is better then the other. Everybody is working out in silence and with patience for his own good.

I keep my fingers crossed behind my feet for you! 🙂

Namaste

PS.1 If you fell alone in a big/medium/small/micro city, don’t worry, you will soon talk to these funny guys net to your mat and what’s next is you will end up having drink or two oooops a tea or two at the neighbouring cafe! Voilà!

PS.2 If you live in Wroclaw, I recommend you Kuba’s classes. If you live in Gdansk, Sopot or Gdynia there’s no better place than this!

Riders and their little metal ponies

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We live in a world of exaggeration. We exaggerate in the architecture (remember those crazy facade colors of the 90s…), our houses in Poland with average of 139 m2 are one of the biggest in the World, we are right behind Americans and Australians. The cars on our streets are also getting  bigger and bigger so the average jogger or rider has to be more fancy and with the latest outfit style.

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If you stop for a while and look around on the streets you will notice that almost every cyclist wears those fancy sporty clothes like helmet (which I understand, safety first!) but also the performance ultra shorts, elite team short sleeve jerseys with anti-sweat-anti-stretch-anti-wind&sun&rain functions etc. You can hardly recognize who’s riding – is it a girl or a boy? There are almost no jeans and skirts on the bicycles! Unlike the Dutch or Danish streets where the riders are wearing suits or dresses on the wheels and those with shorts and jerseys are left to sportsmen.

Is it a must to speed 30 and more km/hrs? Do they need to sweat each time they ride their little metal ponies? Why can’t they just simply use their bicycles for going to work or to the local shop? I wonder how many of those “sportsmen” drive their cars to and from the office and take their kids to schools and kindergartens…and then in the evening they jump on their mount for a ride…

Can you imagine that my father used to take me and my sister to the kindergarten on his bike for almost 4 years? Yes, its possible! And my grandmother still could ride her bike to church while she couldn’t walk anymore, isn’t it amazing?

Lets free our ponies from the sweat slavery, let them live their lives without hurry and competitiveness. Lets start to live with them not for them. Hereby I declare that from now on I shall not to drive that 1.5 km to my office with my 10 yrs old Peugeot 406 when its raining or windy. What I need is just one good and warm coat… 🙂

How to keep your spirit human?

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Since I was a child there was always a fight in my mind between its right and left parts… In primary school my day schedule was filled with sport: swimming twice a day for 1.5 hrs workouts, weekly competitions, mid year workout camps. In the meantime I was trying to catch up with classes in math, chemistry, nature science carrying the books with me across the country. But when I was fed up with all that physical exhaustion I started to run a weekly school magazine…

Later on at high school, while solving mathematics/physics problems I used to sing in the choir and kept on issuing the magazine but this time in a monthly issues. There was so many maths and physics to catch up that these monthlies hardly managed to stay alive for those 4 years. But they did, fortunately.

When it came to think about the university, the choice was again very obvious and kinda natural. I started first with Drama School (why not?) but ended up on Environmental Pollution Science. You should know that I couldn’t imagine stop singing so I joined the Wroclaw University of Technology Choir. During the rest of my educational carrier I toured half of Europe and America and surely the whole Poland. I continued writing at home, “for the drawer” as we call it here …

Now…Is writing and singing enough while working for a high tech company? Nope, its not, so why not to start thinking of a human arts post graduate study? Which can be whatever but preferably philosophy, sociology close to any -ogies which may stir up my mind again and let the thinking flow and flow. For a technical mind with human arts flavor its a way of watering the soil, nourishing it with new ideas. It broadens perspectives and inspires that famous out of the box thinking, so desirable in our current liquid modernity as the polish sociologist calls “… the kind of chaotic continuation of modernity, where a person can shift from one social position to another in a fluid manner.”

Let it be fluid then and let’s see what happens next.

The unfinished book maturates in the drawer … 😉

A letter from the past. 25th Anniversary of Polish Freedom

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This morning I was watching Barack Obama driving through the streets of Warsaw to celebrate with Polish people the 25th Anniversary of the Freedom and first free elections behind the Iron Curtain that happened on the 4th of June 1989. What was I doing that time? I was only 13 years old, finishing primary school, thinking of my future education and witnessing the Wind of Change blowing throughout the European prairies. So when I came back from work I went straight upstairs and opened my memoirs box (yep, I’m sentimental 🙂
What I’ve found was a bunch of letters I once wrote to my beloved friend, who was taken by her parents on a summer trip and to Greece and escaped from there later to Canada, right before those first elections. Her mother told her in that bus to Athens, that she would never see her friends and grandmother again…

Raciborz, 31st October 1989

Hello!

Bogna, I am sorry for not replying for such a long time but it was not my fault, its just that nothing is worth to write about. October was very, very hot with temperatures up to 31 Celsius! Polish television is getting better and better, there is still no English at schools because there are few English teachers, so I went to an English course and I now need to pay 37,420 zlotys per 94 classes.

Bogna, I am so, so curious what is going on there in Canada, how is the TV, how is your city, what are your plans for the future?! So let me start about myself.
I have graduated the school year 88/89 with very good results. I am now in the 7th grade (7d), my master teacher is Mrs Piasecka and half of the class is new. They came from 6e which was another athletic class and guess what, they just don’t know anything! I didn’t go to the School of Sports eventually and I think that was the right decision.
Now I can spend my time at different classes and courses like  English, chemistry and in general I have a lot of spare time and almost not getting ill, which I am happy for.
After the primary school I would love to continue in High School, preferably in the Human Arts profile or biology-chemistry but its not decided yet whether we would stay or we would emigrate to Germany for good (we’ve got all the passports already and anyway there are only us, uncles from the 9th floor and both grandparents who stayed in Poland so maybe we will meet abroad?)

I spent my summer holidays in Zagorze Slaskie, at that hotel from Rafako, my father’s company. I wanted also to go to DDR but I was too late with my application, and there were no places left.

So as you know in Poland we have a PRESIDENT (hi hi hi) Jaruzelski and I am not sure if that’s gonna change anything for good since the ham costs ca. 30,000 zloty, the sausage from 3,000 to 40,000 zloty, one pack of matches is 25 zlotys, ice cream almost 200 zlotys, bread 1,500 zlotys, bread-rolls 150 zlotys and butter 5,000!!! Literally every day the prices go higher and higher like crazy, seriously! Before we leave Poland I don’t know whats going to happen…

Nothing has changed in Raciborz, well maybe apart from that our blocks are not from Rafako anymore, but they belong to a company that bought them from Rafako for a song … So as in our backyard and there are also changes in the city. A lot of new blocks are being constructed (even next to our school) they also build a new post office and telephone exchange building which I hope will eventually give us the long expected phone number!

On our backyard more and more people are leaving for I don’t know where and there are also new people coming so in the end you really don’t know who’s still there are who are these new people. Once upon a time everybody was saying hello or good morning but now forget about it and there’s even no smile! (well, with few exceptions maybe).

I would like to write you about the winter holidays I had in Zagorze Slaskie. So, it was super, super, really cool and very super simply the best winter holidays I have ever been to! We had a lot of excursions, discotheques, movies, great teachers and of course the people over there – a big bunch of good friends! When going back home some of them had tears in their eyes… On the very last day we had an art exhibition of all our art works and the hotel director told us that we were the most joyfull and singing group she had ever hosted at her place!

Few last words for the end with greetings from folks from the backyards and our neighbors: Asia, Ola and Madzia. Please give my best regards to your parents, your sister and your little brother.

I look forward for your letter.  Bye!

Fabian

Sex and the City vs Girls

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Once upon a  time I was dying of laughing while watching every Friday night two of Sex&theCity episodes. Together with my sister who was at that time still studying  and I was spending Friday evenings with her and my beloved Foxy New York Ladies instead of having beer with my folks from my first job. Today, after thorough lecture of two books “Farewell to Growth” by Serge Latouche and “Swiat na rozdrozu” by Marcin Popkiewicz the undertone has changed. Adding to this the recent acclaimed “Girls” by Lena Dunham and you end up at least with a grim on your face.

Why? Consumerism, materialism, hedonism once in the 90’s TV series later on radiated across the whole globe, whether its South America , Africa, Asia or even Africa including the Muslim, Orthodox,  Catholic, Jewish or whatever countries. Imagine everybody lives the life of my excellent and magical 4 of Manhattan? We would need at minimum over 20 Earths in order to run such a way of life. Our only Earth is too small, there is too few resources for us all to run this horn of plenty. If you say its a fairy tale for adults I would agree, but the idea behind this great TV series is not only the sexual liberation of women, gay men or others but also the lifestyle which says: “Consume & have fun while you still alive” (you may refer to Miranda’s mother death in one of the last episodes). Please add to this picture hundreds of pairs of shoes and dresses, all-inclusive trips to the end of the World only to have a drink and buy another pair of shoes…

In this moment the “Girls” are approaching in a juxtapose to what Sex&theCity offers almost in every aspect. The idea of Latouche’s de-growth materializes here if you look at the modest second hand clothes, eco-food, eco-life, small apartments with co-tenants, bicycles, subway, buses, holidays at friend’s house. I would rather call this circumstantial since the idea of the authors was probably to show the hopelessness of youngsters life, seeking for job or money, looking for dreams that will never happen. Nevertheless if the screenwriters could expand some of its plots we could end up with a quite solid remedy for the ideology of growth.

So, watch the two, enjoy but please read Latouche or Popkiewicz and think how to keep ourselves alive. On Earth.

Pies w dom, radość w dom.

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Niełatwo mi było podjąć decyzję. Tygodnie przekonywań, rozmów, konsultacji z rodziną, z przyjaciółmi, z psiarzami. Jak trudno namówić kogoś, kto nigdy nie miał psa! A jednak można, warto i nawet trzeba próbować! W efekcie zakończonych negocjaci wygrała opcja na maksa i tak oto od dwóch miesięcy rośnie nam w domu psiecko. Jak na drożdżach. Wiecznie głodny, a więc na dokładkę do miseczki kwiatki, trawka, patyczki, kupki i kubeczki, choć staramy się mu to wybijać z głowy. Chyba skutecznie, bo jest o niebo lepiej niż w lutym…

Ciekawa ale i zrozumiała rzecz, że wraz z Ozzim pojawił się wśród przyjaciół nowy, wielki temat rozmów i pytań, wśród których obok tego o zdrowie pojawiło się nowe: o Ozzinkę! No i w tym miejscu następuje cała lawina opowieści dumnego psiaty… Kto by pomyślał…

Pies w dom, radość w dom. Autentycznie i bez ściemy. Wraz z nim pojawiła się w domu znośna lekkość bałaganu, dosłownie uroczego! Nota bene Sznaucer spośród wielu swoich zalet ma tą jedną, że nie gubi sierści, a bałaganiąc robi to z takim wdziękiem!

Psiodzice są dumni ze swojej psiociechy!                                          Psiodzice wszystkich ras łączcie się!