Dienstag, 29. Januar 2013

Königin Beatrix dankt ab...

Was wäre wohl eine angemessene Hommage aus Deutschland an die aktuelle Regentin der Niederlande zu ihrer angekündigten Abdankung am 1. April 2013?

Vielleicht eine Abschiedsrede von Hape Kerkeling?

Sonntag, 27. Januar 2013

Happy Snowmelt Sunday

So, it's that kind of weather, when mild temperatures and slight rain start melting snow to slush and also the nice opportunity to test the still-frozen waters in some places before it's all gone.

Wet, melting snow is a very cold mix of white on top and slush underneath. After taking several footsteps, which took me from wet snow over slush to wet grass and leaving trademark cool barefoot tracks, my feet were tingling and glowing very brightly in healthy pink. Surely invigorating and also very nice to feel Mother Earth's skin against mine again, when standing on grass... Instant recharge with positive vibes.

Well, this is proof, that rain falling is a source of happiness for me (see previous entry).

It's raining... and that makes me happy!

Yeah, I know, people are saying all the time, that I'm weird, so when saying, that I'm happy, since it's raining, I am not surprised, if this elicits shaking of heads in people and mutterings of "Weirdo!" under their breath...

They just don't know this:

Actually, there's nothing "new" about it... Many people, who were seen as "weird" at first have later become the coolest this world has to offer. I'm merely following good examples.

But why is it, that falling rain makes me feel happy, especially when winter, snow and ice are still here? Well, it marks the beginning of a mild spell, with temperatures rising clearly above frost level, and maximum temperatures even forecast to break the 10°C/50°F barrier next week. Our regional news network WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk) has its weather expert Jürgen Weiß claim on its web site: "Saturday's snowfall could have been the last for the time being". Kind of funny, if someone predicts the end of snowfall, when his last name translates to "white". But then, name humor isn't all that alien to me, since I am the namesake of a season, too... Spring.

In anticipation of milder days to come, I decided to be bold yesterday, when going to the neighboring city to buy a new cell phone - after my smartphone had crashed, after I dropped it accidentally in the tram, I had to get a replacement. The joke about that is, that a repair of the old one would be more expensive than buying a new one. So, the bold part was, of course, taking that trip on bare feet, despite slight frost. Since most sidewalks had been cleared of snow, were mostly dry and rock salt was used only in a few spaces, it felt not too cold. And it was liberating, after having to spend most of the time with my feet encased and imprisoned in closed foot coffins, to feel the ground underfoot and to walk the natural way, thereby relieving my joints of stress and adding to my happiness.

Walking on the cool ground and standing at the tram stop, my bare feet lit up brightly pink, indicating circulation working perfectly. Of course, people seeing me walk barefoot, sit in the tram or strolling through the mall to the electronics megastore to buy the phone were reacting the usual way: incredulous stares, nudging the people they were together with and whispering to inform them of the shoeless weirdness ahead, conversations suddenly stopping, when I padded past them on my happy feet... nothing out of the ordinary. And, just like when I bought a laptop computer there - barefoot, too - the megastore personnel did not react to my pedal nudity but treated me in the friendly, service-oriented way like they do with any customer. Just as it should be, a customer's outfit should not change their attitude. I'm glad that they live up to that principle over here.

On returning home after my little shopping trip, I saw that someone had decided to leave his/her mark in the snow by the wayside... pressing shod prints into the snow... Well, I decided to tune up the fun a few notches, by leaving my own footprints next to those...

Leaving such tracks is a cool thing to do - in a twofold way.

I am now looking forward to next week, when I will be able to walk the natural, refreshing, relaxing and recharging way on my trips to work and back - in addition to work running smoothly at the moment, this will greatly increase my good mood.

Furthermore, I am looking forward to the end of next week, when I will visit a little event on Groundhog Day celebrating the opening of my dear friend's Oriental Dance Studio after it has moved house to its new location (I already wrote about that here). Weather forecasts are indeed barefoot-friendly for that day.

For the remainder of this Sunday, I will, of course, spend it in my usual preferred way and celebrate it accordingly - happily barefoot all over:

Montag, 21. Januar 2013

Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and... Woot?? ME???

Yes, the internet is a funny place at times... I blogged about my barefoot Saturday winter adventure, including my barefoot office shift - something which is quite ordinary for me, even in winter weather, when ground conditions are OK for my taste. Last Saturday was such a day, despite temperatures being as low as -5°C (23°F).

I also shared the blog post on Facebook and Twitter, as a good and nice Web 2.0 person does, and from Twitter, it got picked up as a news item on the Minimalist Running blog as a news item for the leisure news section:


And so, it happened, that my blog post about being barefoot on the way to work, partly on the way back home and during my Saturday office shift got paired with Selena Gomez  going barefoot backstage at a charity event, and being photographed sans shoes, alongside a grinning and shod Justin Bieber:

Yeah, that's another notch on being a barefoot sort-of celebrity... or then again, maybe not. It's funny, anyway, I think.

Sonntag, 20. Januar 2013

A Sunday to stay indoors... and relax. (Updated!)

Yes, the weather is indeed making decisions for me and I must say, I concur with this one: today is a day to stay indoors, relax, read a good book, meditate, watch a fun movie, meditate, take a nap, meditate, and then dip my bare toes in the snow that is currently falling (see update at the bottom!), and which will add 8 to 12 cm (3 to 4.75 inches) of new fluffy white stuff to my part of the world.

According to the meteo-warning service over here, there's even freezing rain imminent south from my place, as the warning chart for my state depicted above shows (my position is marked). That's the weird happening, if mild air flows in - in the upper layers of the atmosphere - making rain fall on frozen ground. I just hope, people will heed the warning and stay safely at home, rather than driving around.

Sometimes, winter provides us with the perfect days to sit back, or lie down, tuck ourselves in a warm blanket, have some hot coffee, tea, hot chocolate or (insert name of your favourite hot beverage here) and enjoy watching snowflakes dance, being just the laid-back and calm observer... seeing this picture on Facebook, I thought: "Yes, that's the calmness and ease I mean..." and then I thought: "had she blue skin, she'd be from Pandora... and Jim Cameron would sue the poor artist to hell and back!".

Well, to throw a pun which I guess many people expected: yes, this is one smoking hot native woman. I like this picture for its air of watching the world go by, while staying calm and cool. And, who knows, she might just be smoking those herbs which will later put her to trance, meditating and taking a wonderful spirit journey...

(Before any nit-picky Avatards begin hitting on me: yes, I know that the Na'vi don't smoke to go on their spirit journey... they rather eat Eltungawng, containing a psychoactive alkaloid, and then have themselves being stung by a Kali'weya, an arachnoid, whose poison, combined with the worm alkaloid (yes, eltungawng are glow worms!) sends them on their "dream hunt" - Uniltaron in Na'vi language... dont worry, I know a bit about Pandora, too... The Na'vi like to booze though... just check out the deleted/unfinished scenes of Avatar in the collector's edition for the after-hunt party, with Tsu'tey and Jake getting drunk together!)

Aside from being a perfect day to stay indoors, tuck in, enjoy the warmth of a snuggly blanket, it is indeed also a perfect day to let the mind and spirit wander... be it with or without herbal help...

Alright, whenever a hippie sort of person is writing about herbal help, others expect something like that depicted above, right?

In winter, especially on cold and snowy days like today, herbal help is more likely to come from mint, ginger or sage, used as tea against head colds, for instance. And today, I'd rather have mushrooms in the form of agaricus (the champignon) on a pizza or in a salad, than taking the kind that makes the world light up in many colors.

OK, I do not oppose the use of herbal helpers like weed or shrooms as a means to unwind and trigger thoughts, visions and feelings. Not at all! On the contrary, I like taking that occasionally, too. But then, I prefer doing so on warmer and sunnier days, with more color around me and when I can feel the world and Mother Nature in my preferred Nuddhist way.

Oh, of course, before I forget it: I am spending this indoor day naturally naked. It makes that aforementioned warm blanket feel even snugglier, while I'm dreaming of warm spring days to come...

Happy Nude Sunday, wherever you spend it right now.


After watching the afternoon fun movie (Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland), doing the laundry and relaxing, I carried out my plan to feel some of the fresh snow beneath my bare feet and leave my trademark tracks, too...

Samstag, 19. Januar 2013

Daring to bare it! (Well, my feet, that is!)

Since the beginning of this week, when snow started falling and clad my part of the world in white, I had to wear shoes most of the time, when going to work and  back home. Barefooting in sub-freezing conditions and on snow was possible only for a few minutes and necessary to keep me from getting cabin fever. Furthermore, walking on snow and frozen slush in shoes was a clumsy and awkward thing, compared to my otherwise sure-footed gait when being in direct contact with the ground underfoot. And, as usual, longer times in shoes also put more strain on my knees and hip joints, resulting in pain, at times.

Since Thursday, no new snow had fallen, and most of the sidewalks  and paths on my way to work had been cleared of snow (Except for the odd patch of snow or frozen slush here and there).

So, in order to increase my happiness and decrease stress and strain on my joints, I decided to try some  frost barefooting on my way to this week's Saturday office shift. With morning temperatures around -5°C (23F), mostly dry consitions, where the sidewalks were cleared, walking was easy and my feet lit up in pink within a few steps, indicating circulation working properly. My preparations included wearing long underwear, leg-warmers and applying bag balm to my feet as unsulation. Of course, I made sure not to wear any metal foot or toe jewelry to prevent coldth damage.

My usual antagonists and major pet peeves of winter barefooting - grit and rock salt - were lying in a few places, especially at the tram stop, where I had to board the tram to get to the central station. But I was able to evade them and had none of those nasty little grains sticking to my bare, living leather soles.

I carried my pair of closed Birks as emergency shoes, lest I encounter longer stretches of snow or wet places, where salt might have produced puddles of sub-zero C cold water - but I did not have to put them on...

I have spent the whole office day barefoot. And the office building's landlord was in today, too, and saw me barefoot on one of my breaks outside the office. Since he knows that I'm a barefooter, he smiled and just said "Make sure to dress up warm enough.". I smiled back, telling him, that I'm doing so and that was it.

On my way home, I had to use a different bus stop. Saturday connections on public transport in that industrial area are less than well-adapted to people having to work on the weekend. Having to go to that other bus stop meant partly having to walk over sidewalks, that haven't been cleared of old snow and frozen slush. Walking on that and having to wait for the bus prompted me to don my aforementioned emergency shoes on the way to prevent frost damage to my bare feet. Arriving at the bus stop, I could see that a lot of snow had been cleared... by using lots of rock salt (yes, that's salt in that picture below!). And since I did not want to feel that on my soles, I kept my shoes on.

But aside from those moments, I was able to spend a barefoot day at work and do a little barefooting on the way there and back.

I knew on Friday already, that the weekend might be a nice one, despite having to work, when the day unfolded with fiery colors from the sun rising through a misty layer of haze... but it was almost therapeutic for recharging me, by enabling me to feel the world with my bare feet again, after being entrapped in foot coffins at the beginning of the week.

Within the next two weeks, milder temperatures are forecast, with almost pre-spring conditions predicted for Groundhog Day (cloudy, 9°C - almost 50F).

I hope, that this is coming true, since my dear friend Sandra will celebrate the opening of her Oriental Dance studio at the new address on that day. I am planning to visit that event - barefoot, of course.

Spiritual affirmation before work...

Sometimes, a morning before work provides me with nice insights, thoughts and feelings which befit my mindset of being a less than typical man - especially on a Saturday morning, when I normally have the day off, but have to work a weekend office shift.

"Less than typical man" here refers to me not believing in the ways of how men have to act, according to current mainstream, "civilized" society: competitive, all elbows, having to be #1 on the list instead of being one among many caring and sharing human beings.

So, a Facebook friend's posting really touched me, reflecting my inner self and thoughts about the world at large:

"have you honoured the sacred feminine today.. ? its not MANS WORLD anymore.. and I dont meant that in a feminist way.. the feminine and the sacred in all of us and all of life has been living in shadow.. technocracy had reigned in the last age, which is now finished.. The sacred feminine must be exalted, cherished and honoured for us to live in balance with ourselves, with nature and creation.. 

I live in Australia.. the australian make psyche in general is extremely afraid, ignorant and often abusive to the sacred feminine.. its a harsh country for spiritually inclined, earthy people who honour deeper ways of being and seeing. I was afraid to come back here for that reason. There was a time in our history when the European settlers came and there was very few white women. The govt realised there was an issue and sent more out with the sheep on ships from Europe. It shows up in the collective psyche. something is missing. A period of extreme harshness etched in the Australian male collective psyche and overflowed onto women who have also taken on very masculine traits. I personally have always found this very hard to live amongst and have found peace in native teachings and studying ancient and native cultures to discover a deep reverence for the feminine, the sacred, for creation, for spirit and for life. Its time for me to make some decisions on where I can dwell and find resonance. 

Our biggest challenge in western cultures is to return to the sacred... deep in our feminine bones, we hold the great secrets. What everyone turned to the Goddess beside them and said, what would make you happy? And if every Goddess committed not to consumerist, materialistic wants but asked her deepest sacred self, "What is truly sacred to me? and how do I access that daily?" ahhhh.. I am exhaustsed... its hard to be here in this country.. I am sad for my indigenous ancestors who tended this land so careful , living deeply and sacredly in tribe.. however , we are in a new age and we must learn from our deep ancestors and think the brightest thoughts to regenerate that which we find ourselves being custodians of : whether that be our own sacred bodies, our families or the land we dwell upon.. the deep feminine needs ALL of us to pay attention and listen quietly..."

(by: Billa Kgari)

Photo: Himba Woman, by Sebastião Salgado, captioned as follows:

As the earth is sacred, so our bodies are sacred.
And there is a particular sacredness to the feminine body. According to an ancient tradition women carry a sacred substance in their physical and spiritual bodies that has to do with their potential to give birth and to take part in the process of creation. Through knowing how to help a soul taking on a physical body, women are spiritually and physically at home in the mystery of creation.
The sacredness in women's bodies and the sacredness in earth are deeply connected.

My response to her posting was:

"The world, as in creation, has always been mostly female... the name "Mother Nature" is there for a good reason, since She bears and gives birth to the world at large and us, too. Think about fire: the male part is the spark, while the female part is the flame, which burns on for a longer while. Realizing that and cherishing the universal female giving us warmth and light, as fire does, can and will lead to a gentler world.

I suppose, though, that will take very long, since the male mind is all about elbows and competition, hoarding wealth, being #1 instead of being one of a caring and sharing many.

But, we can sow the seed of that future now. Your words have been one of those seeds. I try my best to spread a few seeds of my own, too. It also adds to my good karma account."

It's good to be reminded of the really important things, when facing another day at the office, in the Matrix/Babylon artificial world of facts, figures and money. 

Donnerstag, 17. Januar 2013

It's winter wonderland week...

Yes, mid-week has passed, and after three days of snowflakes flurrying around, there has been a pause in snowing last night. Well, after about up to nine inches (around 23 cm) of snow falling in the past three days, I'd say, it's time for a break, in order to let municipal services clear the streets properly - and some sidewalks and bus stops, too...

For an urban, flatland region like the Ruhr Megalopolis, this much snow is quite a lot, really.

We might see a very beautiful side of winter in the days to come, since there's cloudy, sometimes fair conditions forecast for Friday. However, there have been nice moments already, starting on Monday, when the first snow fell, and I still had hopes of public transport running almost normally... after all, at least one bus had braved the trip to my usual bus stop (but it was running late, of course, making me miss my relay, resulting in me being late for work - just like most people). And at work, I could see, that the office janitor had a new toy to play with...

On Tuesday morning, I saw that another few inches of snow had fallen, and despite the frosty conditions (mid 20s Fahrenheit, around -5°C) that fresh fluffy snow was beckoning me to try how it feels on my bare feet. So, when arriving at the office place, I slipped out of my closed-toes Briks, and enjoyed a short walk (about 30 meters) from the parking lot to the rear entrance of the building - that felt just as invigorating as an extra cup of coffee... and it prevented my feet from suffering from cabin fever, since these conditions call for wearing shoes, according to my barefoot comfort temperature chart...

I'm quite sure that seeing the bare footprints in the snow boggled the minds of some people who arrived there after me.

But it's not just the frost and snow that makes me wear shoes at the moment - in many places, grit and rock salt have been strewn liberally onto sidewalks and around bus and tram stops. While this is done for the general safety of people (anti-skid measures), walking barefoot on that stuff is quite unpleasant. Especially salt, melting snow and ice, leaves sub-freezing cold puddles which are likely to lead to cold damage on my feet, if I were to walk through them. Therefore, I choose the slightly unpleasant feeling of walking with my feet hidden in those foot coffins for a little while, hoping and praying for milder days... and those will come, too.

Until then, I will continue trying to frind beauty in the current wintery conditions... after all, it has a certain winter wonderland look to it, at times... for instance yesterday morning... even under street lights, it looks a little magical. And I am not the only one braving the snow barefoot... in the second picture: a rabbit did so too... I hope, it quickly found a safe burrow to warm up its paws again.

I guess, winter will go on, at least until we get the verdict on Feb. 2 - for the show ain't over, until the fat Groundhog sings. As stated above, I (and my bare feet) wouldn't mind a few mild days, though.

Dienstag, 15. Januar 2013

Some people just beg for it... how to make my Shit List!

Yes, indeed, they beg to be put onto it:

Who deserves this special entry and how did he do it? Well, I already posted last Friday about the poor young man from Gambia and the less than legal proceedings of his deportation.

In order to find contacts about legal counsel in Switzerland, his current stop on the way back to Gambia, I posted a call for help in several web forums, including one, which I thought might be helpful... HipForums - yes, I should have known better, for in the German-speaking section, I got this posting as a reply:

Drogenhaendler, gangster, terrorist!
Sowas braucht Europe nicht!
Absachieben mit vorheriger DNA feststellung"

Translation: "Gambia? Young? Drug dealer, gangster, terrorist! Europe doesn't need this kind! Deport him and put a DNA sample of his on the record!"

Since another posting by that forums user read "The source of ALL problems in the world are the jews!", it's quite clear, how "hip" this very user is... Calling a forum "hip" is no protection against attracting idiots.I also made that clear in a reply post, where I told the forum at large, that that special user has now made my ignore-list and that it's prudent to warn others about Nazi paroles and slogans... these are already lying on the web and in public like piles of shit no one wants to step into (least of all barefoot!)

Montag, 14. Januar 2013

Oh, it's fluffy and white... Monday morning surprise!

Whee, it's snowing!

(Yes, that was sarcasm, Sheldon!)

While it's fun to have snow falling and covering the world when having a day off, it's not quite as much fun to have to get to work and rely on public transport. Even less fun is to have to wear shoes most of the time getting to work and back... I might be able to do a little snowfooting when leaving the bus and getting to the office... hopefully before our workplace's janitor has spread loads of salt onto the sidewalk and the driveway.

With about two inches of snow, people will start throwing grit and/or salt onto sidewalks shortly, making it almost unbearable to walk barefoot - due to the burning sensation of the salt, the sub-zero cold melting water and lots of little grit grains which are just waiting to burrow themselves into bare soles.

And the forecast for the next days? Today: cloudy, as soon as the snow has ceased... and then: slight snowfall on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday... with a little cloudy interruption on Friday...

Oh, yes, and temperatures around or just just below freezing level, tops. Well, winter isn't over yet. The show isn't over, before the fat Groundhog sings - and that will happen on Feb. 2, telling us, if there is a mild six-week remainder of the season...

Sonntag, 13. Januar 2013

Sunday... a day to gather necessary positive vibes...

Considering the things happening in the last few days (since Friday, that is), I am tapping into the positive vibes supplies Mother Earth can give me a bit more today, looking to gather a bit more to send out to people in need as well as to power me up for the next week's tasks, too... I hope that meditating a bit more later on will provide me with that extra power and a feeling of vision as well as ease... the second image below is a good basis for ease, since it reminds me a lot of that classic Slade song, where it says "And I'm far, far away, with my feet down in the clouds...".

What did happen on Friday making me ask for a bit more positive energy than usual? Well, the day itself started off nicely, even fair and sunny, which was delightful indeed, since I was able to soak up some sunlight on my breaks at work, and also leave the office (and the week at work) behind, while walking into the colorful dusk after work - barefoot, of course, since even the slightly frosty conditions did not hinder me from being in direct contact with Mother Earth - both before and after work.

True to my personal happiness recipe, I was doing my best to draw positive vibes and happy energy from seemingly small things, like standing barefoot on grass or soil, being directly in touch with Mother Nature, taking several deep breaths to unwind, relax and power up at the same time. In the morning, that meant getting quite frosty energy, too, since temperatures were slightly below freezing level and the rime on the grass or the odd frozen puddle on the sidewalk provided truly refreshing sensations before work. After work, the sun had warmed and dried up the sidewalks and also thawed the rime on the grass, so that I had a delightfully soft and moist encounter with grass and soil after work, while looking at the western sky just after sunset, with dusk setting in after 5 pm.

So far, the week had work had gone by smoothly, I was looking forward to the weekend and to recharge my inner batteries. Just on the way home, I received a message on my smartphone, though, which was making me feel sad and angry about German refugee authorities... I had donated money to hire a lawyer to help a young African man in not being deported from Germany. A formal complaint was issued to the Hamburg district court who is in charge of the asylum and deportation proceedings, since the man also requires medical attention. The deportation was postponed, at least, and things were looking hopeful, until I received message, that he had been deported - without heeding the complaint and still being ill - and has now arrived in Switzerland on his way to being brought back to Gambia.

The whole deportation procedure was carried out by the Hamburg district court in a very dilettante way, including several procedural errors and also making use of false statements. The German authorities pulled this dirty trick to make sure that the lawyer cannot represent her client any longer. This transfer without proper medical care is illegal and yet another example of human rights violations in asylum procedures in Germany (which are quite often reported e.g. by Amnesty International or Humans Rights Watch).

Yes, this is happening in a "civilized" western nation, which is not only part of that economic and political stewpot known as European Union, which won the Peace Nobel Prize but also still the third-largest arms exporting nation in the world (only surpassed by Russia and the USA).

After reading that, I put my smartphone into my jacket pocket, and just as I was getting near my stop on riding the tram home, I stood up, but had forgotten to pack my phone into its protective slipcase or to close the pocket... it fell out, to the tram floor, and when I picked it up, I saw that the display glass was shattered, with lots of spider-web cracks in it... Oh great. Now that kind of damage is not covered by warranty and I'm not insured against it either... I'm not connecting this minor mishap to the news I received, but rather to my own negligence. It could have happened any day. Oh well, it's merely material damage that can be repaired. Far more important is that the young refugee's story comes to a happy ending - due to his illness and the deportation process itself, he has already suffered injuries of body and soul. He needs all positive energy and prayers he can get.

So, while this Sunday, as usual, is of course one of the weekend days I spend naturally naked at home, and also celebrate that freedom, it also is a day to gather and send out positive energy in more than the usual amount.

Freitag, 11. Januar 2013

TGIF - today: Frosty Friday, too...

Yes, it's this classic occasion to rejoice, as the week inside "The Matrix!" is going to end today. It also marks a profound change in mood, since it's going to be a cloudy and sometimes sunny day, according to forecasts as well as indicated by a clear sky this early morning.

That's the first sunny day of the year in my place... please note, that I haven't written anything about glum and grey skies or complained about the rain, which most often came down as a drizzle. I was too happy about the temperatures staying in the mild zone, wll above 5°C (40F) and enjoying my barefooting in puddles and on wet soil and grass, too.

Especially in grassy areas, the ground was as waterlogged as a wet sponge, which turned normally cold winter into a belated autumn mushroom season. Walking barefoot through that wetness might have made me develop webbed feet at some point...

Now, with the clear sky and dry forecast, cold air is coming in - well, no surprise there, since it's still winter, after all. And forecasts are telling me of maximum temperatures just above or at freezing level for the next days to come - and possible snowfall on Monday evening and Tuesday... so, after "Thirsty Thursday", today is "Frosty Friday" at my place.

And, for today, as well as for the days ahead, my barefooting will require the usual protective precautions for frosty dry conditions: toe rings come off, leg-warmers come on and bag balm will be applied, making my winter feet all shiny again. If forecasts are correct, it will be only a little cool spell, no harsh frost, followed by another mild spell within one week.

It's three weeks and a day until Groundhog Day, and we can hope, that Phil doesn't see a shadow, allowing for a mild rest of winter, before the spring equinox arrives, marking the end of the cold season and the calendary beginning of the barefoot and skyclad season, which will last - hopefully - at least until the fall equinox (preferably longer).

Perhaps the spring fairies might be convinced to make an early visit this year...