Addicted

As we look around us, across our circles of friends, it may strike us that substance abuse is so common. We were almost naively hoping that our friend, who owns a restaurant, enjoys drinking alcohol; but as time goes on, it is too obvious that the clinical addiction to alcohol is making his life hell, and frequently embarrassing his family members who also work at the restaurant. We cringe so badly, when he is drunk and groping a woman indecently again, in front of his own teenage daughter. Likewise, we were hoping that our friend was playing computer games as a nice hobby, but, day after day, the shocking amounts of time spent gaming instead of working in a job indicates clinical addiction to the computer game, beyond reasonable doubt.

Oh, what a tragedy. For the addicted person, he or she is – more often than not, in denial. Friends around them find it astounding that they do not even identify addiction as a basic problem. It is ever so obvious to people around them that drunken misbehaviour often causes extraordinary problems, nearly warranting police attention, and that it is unrealistic to spend five to six waking hours of the day gaming instead of working, that is not even to mention the sleepless nights gaming away.

Friends who feel saddened by the addicted friend’s predicament start doing research about addiction, and quickly become very much more knowledgeable about the twelve steps to recovery, than even the addicted person himself or herself.

No matter how much surrounding friends care about the addicted person in anguish, it is the addicted person himself or herself who must take the first step upon professional treatment in order to make any progress towards recovery. It is fundamentally important for the addicted person to turn from denial, accept the addiction and move forward with the programme of treatment.

Encouraging a loved one to sign up to rehabilitation for alcohol abuse or computer gaming addiction may be much more difficult than you think it is, when that person is not willing to accept that the addiction is ruining their lives. If so many different people from different contexts- extended family members, colleagues, casual acquaintances, nasty neighbours, friends of friends from birthday parties all say the same thing about the addiction that they observe, and people remark upon the particular signs of addiction that they often see in the same person, perhaps the addicted person will finally start treatment one day, knowing that the collective opinion of so many people on that addiction can’t be so wrong. ‘How come everybody is saying that I am clinically addicted to alcohol? Maybe I actually am addicted to alcohol.’

It can be tricky to know how to persuade a family member or beloved friend go into the treatment facility to pursue rehabilitation. One may hope that talking to the addicted person clearly, face-to-face, with compassion, kindness and genuine concern, repeatedly, may one day result in successful recovery, even though completion of rehabilitation may be two long years ahead in the future.

Different religious backgrounds – Christians

It is a joy and a privilege to know people from different cultural backgrounds and different walks of life. There is much to gain through business networking, knowing more about the thoughts and opinions of other people, and socialising generally, getting to know one another while having great fun. Indeed, while different individuals may come from a diverse mix of cultural backgrounds with involvement of very different cultural customs according to their own upbringing, there is also great diversity in terms of religious beliefs in this world. It is an active world with dialogues, exchanges of viewpoints, and engagement of minds.

In the Western world, there is such a large population of Christians, and much of the history of Western Europe is rooted in Christian faith and Christian traditions – it is as though Christians are everywhere, any way that you turn on a high street in town. Perceptions of Christian people can be very mixed. People have had very positive experiences of Christian people, and some have reported particularly unpleasant encounters with Christian people. Christians seem to vary greatly in terms of popularity: high-profile businessmen, celebrities, scientists, the bank clerk you may have seen yesterday, the shop assistant who took your card payment last week, a local bus driver. According to people’s perceptions of Christians, there might be a few existing stereotypes of Christian people: they are old, boring, hanging on to customs of singing hymns from a past age. Christians are sometimes thought of as strict people who do not know how to have fun.

While stereotypes are not entirely helpful, there is much joy and intrigue that seems to be coming from circles of Christian friends, who progress through their work in adult life following various stages of education.

People who live in this day and age generally believe in honest, dynamic communication, rather than didactic instructions, perhaps the bigotry that people were used to about seven or eight generations ago, at least in much of the Western world. The Christian man from today whose thoughts are full of ideas of ‘praise the Lord’, whose tongue is full of the phrases ‘praise the Lord’, is nevertheless realistic about his own vulgarity, his own tendency or inclination to curse and apply crude language, quoting the example of walking around at night to go to the toilet. Upon stepping on an odd object such as a drawing pin with a sharp point, he is blurting out some not so nice English words. Friends who are around are amused at the thought that a Christian man gets injured by a sharp point in the middle of the night and still calls out ‘praise the Lord’. The reality fell short of this heavenly ideal, and they can also identify with their own weaknesses, vulnerability to physical pain, and the ungodly tendency to curse, sometimes.

The sales manager’s teenage days were also sources of entertainment to her friends. Being a Christian teenage girl, she disliked chemistry as an academic subject and appeared to be uncommitted to her studies. There is the tale that the chemistry teacher sighed in despair and remarked: ‘Dear girl, where are you going to go in life?’, displeased with the lack of focus, to which the pupil immediately responded: ‘Chemistry homework does not matter. Jesus loves me, and I am going to heaven!’ This true story of such a proclamation to the teacher has amused Christians, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and Taoists alike.

The girl was expected to be submissive to the teacher at school, to listen to the explanation of the importance of chemistry. From this world, there are indeed many indications that chemistry does indeed matter. This is not what the Christian teenage girl accepted at that moment on that day. Instead of being submissive, she demonstrated firm Christian faith, her belief in Jesus, and heaven from Christian doctrine. Whether people feel that she, as the Christian teenage girl, was right or wrong about chemistry on that day, many people feel intrigued and amused that the discussion between the teacher and pupil took a dramatic turn and was elevated heavenward.

Upon knowing other people as people, we may find that Christian people, while greatly varying in their good deeds and bad deeds, often do not think that they live on some kind of ivory tower or moral high ground, as the stereotype goes. Often, Christians do not think of themselves as high priests ready to judge us, ready to condemn the world, to impose doctrine upon other people. Many such individuals seem to want to share their beliefs and thoughts openly, honestly, and plainly in their own language. Many Christians simply want to tell you how it is, in ways that are easy to understand. Commonly, they have track-records of friendships with persons from other faiths: atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and so on. While issues of heaven, hell, and damnation may potentially be overwhelmingly serious, many Christian people are openly communicative, listeners to other people’s thoughts, and having great fun, cracking jokes and getting on with life just like anybody else. Perhaps, it pays to know a Christian colleague, supplier, business partner, or friend from a birthday party.

I want to go offline.

I feel I am not keen on FACEBOOK. I just go to play volleyball and badminton, locally in Munich and also in Prague of the Czech Republic. People write to me via facebook and I don’t even bother to respond. I just play volleyball in Munich, mostly. The people are real. They have flesh and blood, and they are sweating at the volleyball court. People have the concerns:

如何有效 避免骗子盛行?

如何鉴别目的不纯的人?

Beauty – expectations – Belarus

There is a lady from Belarus. She works in architecture. She lives in the Czech Republic, but when she’s back in Belarus, sometimes she walks around with no make-up on her face, then, someone in the street starts speaking to her, ‘Dear lady, why didn’t you put make-up on your face?’ 她说,她不化妆走到街上,人家就说话了。不认识的。她说,是这样的。真奇怪,本来就是一个非常漂亮的姑娘。She says, people just expect her to use cosmetics!

Things from the perspective of a hospitality owner

Guesthouse owner: As we cordially welcome you to our guest house / bed-and-breakfast, and indeed hope you have a most enjoyable stay, we hope to boast of being some sort of a refuge of yours- to help you escape the everyday pressures of life! You shall ‘find yourself’ once again!

Let me guess- you are probably going to write a review of our property on TripAdvisor.com. We almost expect you to do that. All year round, are you finding your home life to be very demanding, in terms of upkeep? Well, we propose to be some sort of a contrast to that then!

Have you ever quantified care for your household? Are you finding it to be a burden, sometimes? Apart from the obviously spiritual, psychological, emotional aspects of inhabiting your usual domestic space at home, there are inevitably the highly practical sides of maintaining your own house or flat, whether you are paying mortgage or rent regularly. What is a hassle-free way of dealing with all that, then? Is there ever a hassle-free way round it all?

Is there so much housework at home sometimes that, you feel like you are working, at home, cooking a meal, after you were working all day long? You pay for someone to clean your home for you? How will you sustain the funding to pay the working wages for this person, then? Challenges in funding this activity means that many householders simply do the housework themselves, instead of hiring external help from a cleaning agency or an individual.

We dare to say that we provide some sort of haven of peace and enjoyment, if only because we take the work, away from your holiday! You won’t even involve yourself with the hassle of sorting trash, and throwing out the big bag of household trash! You are not going to be getting sore backs, sore arms, and fatigue, even from simple activities like sweeping the floor until the debris has come off, and mopping the floor until the cleanliness situation is satisfactory to you! At home, you cannot avoid the task of clearing the table, and wiping the table clean- one way or the other, dirty things have to be made clean. We do that for you!

We operate an entire army of housekeepers, cleaners, and seasonal assistants to keep our guest house in good order, ensuring that all the crucial work gets done – repairing hinges of cupboards before loose things become a problem, installing curtains and you could be surprised at how time-consuming it is, scrubbing bathtubs so that you do not need to think about it, and generally doing everything else to ensure that you do not end up getting repetitive strain injury from undertaking too much housework yourself. If you are not impressed, be impressed! Little things speak volumes, dare I say! We give medals to our top cleaners, and send them on holidays too.

My personal take upon Feng Shui- so powerful!

For 28 years of my life I was so entirely skeptical about Chinese Feng Shui. I thought it was complete nonsense and I was totally dismissive of Feng Shui. One day my Chinese friend started chatting with me about Feng Shui and how it helped her in her life. For example, when she was in and out of court, those court battles, it was awfully stressful, she used Feng Shui tools to help resolve that quicker than it was otherwise going to take. 化官非 I didn’t believe Chinese Feng Shui. She showed me three pages of a Chinese Feng Shui book. I was immediately stunned. Feng Shui predictions were so accurate- it really scared me. I was doing very very well in my life. Financially I was really fine- suddenly I had a big problem with money- quite accidentally. The problem was predicted by Chinese Feng Shui ONE YEAR AHEAD OF TIME – I thought I was just really unlucky that bad things happened to me. Chinese Feng Shui could have helped me anticipate good things and bad things to come, so that I can take advantage of good things, and wait for terrible things to pass!

Allegedly psychopathic, intimidating Shaoyu Hu of Sichuan Province

The world of social media is almost unsurprisingly full of conflicts and problems.

We see that allegations/ accusations have been made against a man by the name of Shaoyu Hu of Sichuan Province, from a distressed woman who seems innocent. This person Shaoyu Hu is described as a cyber-stalker, obsessive, who writes bitterly sarcastic, inconsiderate and intimidating messages to other people via the social media site facebook. Comments by Shaoyu Hu reek of deep jealousy of persons who had the chance to study and work outside China, who can actually speak the English language. Messages from Shaoyu Hu are threatening in nature, and he has been described as psychopathic. On his own facebook profile he describes himself as having attended a university in Anhui: studied at 安徽农业大学; he describes himself as having had secondary education: [a school in Sichuan Province] 四川省射洪中学; and he describes himself as working in fisheries: 一名水产养殖工作者,来自中国四川。Users of facebook who do not wish to be harmed or abused are advised to stay away from him and to block him on social media.

A man without a girlfriend

There are plenty of men who aspire to become a father for the first time, for the second time, for how many times, to build a close-knit family. There are men in large numbers who have succeeded in marrying or otherwise settling down during their twenties and thirties, for example, who work hard alongside the wife or partner to provide for their various young children at home. Undoubtedly, there are men in various age groups – thirties, forties and fifties, for example, who enter the dating scene, bid for a girlfriend only to receive one rejection after another rejection. There are the men who get hold of a girlfriend, only to have her leaving the relationship – and, she may or may not provide feedback upon the relationship. So, that’s a rejection too. Have you ever asked yourself, why? Why is this happening? 

I am a woman who finds it staggering that so many middle-aged men of various nationalities of the Western world get even the basics of dating wrong, horribly wrong. They know that they wish to have a child in the future, and they need to give the woman enough confidence in them to agree to be their wife or long-term girlfriend, so that child-bearing is going to become a reality. It is not happening.

These men would do well to remember the lessons that they were taught while they spent time in primary school, then secondary school, and also things that they were taught in the family growing up. Be polite; be respectful towards other people; undertake some kind of worthwhile activity and develop some kind of interest, to have something to say about life, even though it matters less as to what it actually is. It seems that it is not a part of the character of some men, to even be respectful and polite towards other persons up to an acceptable degree. When a middle-aged man has a temper tantrum in literally the supermarket next to a giant box of oranges, the girlfriend is only going to be too glad to leave the relationship with someone who looks like a man but constantly behaves like a fretting child in private and also in public. He might have charmed her into a relationship in the beginning, but she will not stay. Her life is not actually bullying the supermarket checkout person, did he figure that out?

There are more extreme problems than shouting bullying curses at a supermarket checkout person who just works away at the cash till. There are men who engage in more manipulative behaviour than that, and their track-record has been described as nothing short of ‘sinister’ by expert psychologists. There are men who constantly use emotional blackmail, trying to get a girlfriend in the first place or in the very initial stages of dating a lady, and their problematic behaviour just sets off alarm bells for the woman, and everybody around them such as colleagues and friends. 

“If you leave me, I am going to jump off that rooftop.” To be told this again, and again, and again. One may wonder whether the woman subjected to such emotional blackmail has enough good sense and intelligence to figure out that it is emotional blackmail. That is emotional blackmail used by the self-punisher. A good, decent woman is going to know that she wishes to build up a good family that is functional, not dysfunctional and based on manipulation as well as threats. What makes the emotional blackmailer think that she will not walk away from the romance, or refuse to take part in the romance, in the first place? Abuse can happen from male to female, and also from female to male. Any woman who wishes to fetch a good partner for child-bearing shall be wise to refrain from using emotional blackmail, just as any man with child-bearing aspirations shall be wise to avoid emotional blackmail.

I look around me, and I see that there are numerous middle-aged men who chronically fail to get hold of a partner for child-bearing, despite their relatively handsome looks and family origins. They shall do well to evaluate their own patterns of behaviour, their conduct in public and in private, and seek the honest opinions of people around them such as colleagues and friends. “Where am I going wrong?” Unless they correct their problematic attitudes and behaviour towards other people, there will always be a discrepancy between child-bearing aspirations, and the bitter reality of childlessness. No woman signed up for a dysfunctional family, a dysfunctional future generation. 

Chickweed

I am delighted to have encountered chickweed, with the scientific name Stellaria media. It is called a weed, so I presume it is considered to be a nuisance sometimes. I literally stumble upon chickweed sometimes, across the Czech Republic. That makes a great lunch!

A number of sources on the internet hold accurate information about chickweed. It is very worthwhile to consult these sources of information. Relevant content full of scientific information has been published by: the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs of the Government of Ontario in Canada; The Royal Horticultural Society of the United Kingdom; and numerous universities.
It is a matter of labouring to gather this delicate plant from the fields of the Czech Republic. After washing chickweed then it is a matter of cooking a yummy nutritious meal out of chickweed and something else. In the Czech Republic we have many random, clean fields, and large stretches of land in some geological park which practically functions as my allotment of vegetables or my garden, as the land is rich in chickweed and other weeds. I sometimes like to forage for my chickweed immediately after raining as I expect that the rain washed off any and all of the urine of dogs, birds, hares and so on. I also tend to forage for chickweed in spots that are probably not the kinds of spots that dogs go, to urinate and mark their territory. For fairly obvious reasons, I would not find it pleasant to get my hands on the urine of a dog.

I am wondering, would you prefer to use an instrument with a blade to cut off chickweed, or would you prefer to use your hand to pull off bundles of chickweed? I have done both, and while I can use my hand to grab a bundle of chickweed and pull off a bunch, I prefer using an instrument with a blade such as a knife or a pair of scissors. This is because, from my own experiences, the few inches of chickweed near the ground are usually in a bad condition as far as my eyes can tell – the leaves looking not nice, as they look weak and they are also yellow and pale in colour, and they basically look like what I don’t want to eat. Instead of me taking the whole bundle of good and bad plant material home, only to discard the bad parts at home and increase the volume of trash, I want to discard all the unwanted plant material on the spot.

The field is delightful, the scenery so pretty. I try to place a time limit upon how long I spend gathering chickweed from a spot, bearing in mind the time I spend walking to the spot, the time I spend walking from that spot back to my home, how I have a job that I work in all week, and I have other things to do like washing clothes, buying birthday gifts for my friends, reading newspapers, and so on. To be efficient with time, I endeavour to grab a huge amount of chickweed per visit – as much as possible, enough to go on one dinner plate. If I do well, perhaps that’s several dinner plates, bearing in mind I serve other types of food alongside it. 

The simplest ways to cook chickweed are also the most charming. I wash the chickweed absolutely thoroughly after picking them from the fields, ensuring that all soil particles are gone and that there is no other nasty dirt there. I just pour vegetable oil upon my frying pan, heat it up, throw some chopped garlic in, add a little salt, and place lots of chickweed in the frying pan. I would say the amount is two to three portions of the five portions of fruit or vegetable needed in one day. As you can expect, it cooks very quickly and it is just delicious, and healthy. As soon as you start cooking chickweed, you stop cooking chickweed as there is no need for any further heat.

I can eat chickweed alongside all sorts of other food – pan-fried chickweed alongside mashed potato; pan-fried chickweed with small pieces of bacon all over, served with plain white rice; supermarket instant noodles with chickweed all over the noodles; cream of chicken soup with chickweed on top; pan-fried chickweed with chickpeas, oven-roasted potatoes and minced meat; oriental egg fried rice with chickweed all over; mushroom stew with chickweed tossed in; Southern Chinese style steamed egg with chickweed in its midst. This tasty vegetable never disappoints me – I feel so excited, thinking of all the chickweed recipes. One can come up with thousands of ways to serve chickweed as part of a meal, very easily.

Cobnut Trees of Prague

I am pleased to say that I know the cobnut trees of Prague. There are various places of the Czech Republic with tall cobnut trees growing. In the autumn, heading into the winter, these are great times to take cobnuts directly from the sourcing tree, which is of the hazel family. Birds of various kinds eat these cobnuts, and we as humans eat these highly nutritious cobnuts too. I have always been impressed with the pleasant taste of cobnuts- so nutty and almost creamy, just as a nut should be!

Cobnut trees are thriving a great deal in various spots of Prague, for example, on a street right outside the residence of the ambassador of the United States. There are rows and rows of cobnut trees at that location, where I go to harvest – or shall I say forage- for cases of clusters of cobnuts. I like to grab cobnuts the other side of the street in Prague, rather than on the residence’s side of the street, so that the Czech policeman looks at me jumping up to grab nuts a little bit less, and I would like to attract as little attention as possible given that I am not one of those really glamorous spies in movies about to take bold action to do something that’s really interesting for the police.

Pigeons eat cobnuts, other birds eat cobnuts, why can’t I? And they are free of charge, unlike bags of nuts from the supermarket. Birds even fight quite brutally up the top of the tree, and they knock down clusters of cobnuts, which then become food for me. From my personal experiences, I haven’t been finding cobnut trees so easy to handle, but rather tough to tackle, in terms of the motive to get free nuts to eat. The low-lying husks of cob nuts within the grasp of my hand may be gone already. And I am a very short woman with jumping skills that are quite unremarkable, eager to seize one cluster of dozens of cobnuts, stuck to the dried brown husk of the autumn, with the hard brown shell upon the exterior of every cobnut. 

I have used various tools to help me access the cases of cobnuts. I succeeded in using a large umbrella to bash cobnuts out of the tree, thus they landed onto the ground. I used a long stick to whack clusters of cobnuts so that they fell down for me. I borrowed a friend, who let me sit on his shoulders, while I pulled branches of the tree and seized clusters of cobnuts. One set of cobnuts, all surrounded by the shell and stuck to the husk, is quite awkward to touch with my hands as the object is very sticky, and potentially messy, with bits of dirt stuck there. Another challenge is that the cobnuts don’t simply fall off the husk. They can be quite firmly lodged into the structure of husks, so then I use my fingers to pinch the shell-on cobnuts out of the big structure of the network of husks. However, it seems to cost me too much of my energy to pinch with my hands, so I dump the case of dozens of nuts upon the ground, then I use the heel of my shoe to press upon the husks or I jump and stamp upon the husk almost quite violently to expel the cobnuts from the sticky husk.

If I am not careful, I could be losing more energy swinging my arms, jumping up and down, pulling tree branches, and hitting nuts with an umbrella hoping that the ambassador of the United States of America isn’t interested, than the energy that I gain out of eating cobnuts- and that’s after the hard work of removing the hard brown shell, not just the hard work of taking the food from the tree and separating that from the husks!

I am aware that many Czech people like to use husks of cobnuts as home decoration due to the interesting shapes. However, I am not planning to take these husks, for fear of also bringing ants and other crawling insects home. I abandon the husks of cobnuts upon the grass on-site, taking home one or two bags of shell-on cob nuts.

These nut shells are the toughest, hardest shells that I have ever known. They seem to be the opposite of peanut shells or pistachio shells, which are ever so easy to crack. Even walnut shells are simple and easy to crack open. Cobnut shell? In the past, I used various items to try to crack open the shell, only to break that item that I hit the cobnut shell with. If I am going to buy a nut-cracker, I consider that too much of a financial investment, so I could consider buying a second-hand nutcracker, but then I have yet another utensil to have to handle when I move house a few years later, and every box of my things will bear weight upon my ailing arms.

A workman’s tools shall double up as a nutcracker good for cracking the very tough shell of the cobnut. I also have success using a tough frying pan to bang upon the shell. My experience tells me that I should control the force of my hand, not to use full force to hit it so that the shell shatters, and the nut that I wish to eat is split into almost a hundred pieces. In that case, I eat everything that I can eat, and discard the shell fragments. As I control the force of my hand nicely, I split the cobnut shell, but the entire cobnut remains intact. Oh, it would be charming to bake apple pies and pear tarts, with cobnuts upon the tart. I can also eat an oriental stir-fry of rice noodles, with cobnuts thrown into the dish. I can make a chocolate cake, with cobnuts all over the cake. I may enjoy a crepe or pancake with blueberries, raspberries and cobnuts, together with friends. Thank you, dear enriching tree! What a source of nourishment! 

I did not always discard broken cobnut shell fragments as trash. Shapes of broken shells are elegant and almost poetic. By all means, I use glue to stick fragments to cardboard paper to make a collage, and I have already made several heart-shaped decorative pieces for various friends out of these brown shell fragments. I used these shells to make a charming, quite three-dimensional Christmas card. Away from arts and crafts, in the winter I also use the shell fragments to boost road safety in Prague- seeing that heavy snowfall may make Czech roads very messy indeed, and melting snow may result in dangerously slippery ice, I throw handfuls of these hard shell fragments to increase fiction and combat against how slippery the Czech road is. Nature’s free gift!