Entries for year: 2016

Memorials/Denkmals that work

I’ve recently had the pleasure of traveling with a group of international friends (an Australian couple, INTJ & ESTJ; a Dutch woman ENTJ; and a German ESTJ with an ESFP British wife – the Brexit discussion was lively); plus my American sweetie ENFP and me, an ESTJ.  Yes, we had some diversity! 

In Berlin, we went to a number of memorials (called Denkmal – denk means think and mal means time in German) and then we compared our reactions.

A very effective memorial for all of us was the Reichstag, now also functioning as the Capitol. When its burnt shell was captured by the Russians in 1945, many soldiers wrote their names and messages in Russian on the walls.  A recent renovation uncovered those and a guide tracked down as many of the soldiers as possible and wrote a book about their lives. 

The French contributed a memorial to democracy in that building.  They looked for what made each elected Member of Parliament equal, and it was the rectangular mailbox!  They recreated hundreds of those mailboxes stacking them up like in a post office and inscribed each with the name of a democratically elected Member of Parliament up to the year 1938.  That included Hitler and Goebbels by the way!  Their particular mailboxes are often punched in by those visiting the memorial. 

The dome of the building has been resurrected in glass and offers stunning views of Berlin and a history lesson as you walk up.  You are reminded of the past and how some things must never happen again and how others need to happen again and again. 

From the dome, you could see in the distance the Holocaust memorial that looked like a Jewish cemetery with its irregular stones of varying heights.  However, upon actually visiting that memorial…well it was disappointing for all of us.  

It is made up of granite, casket-sized and shaped rectangles of varying heights, arrayed in a pattern reminiscent of farmer’s fields. While there are small signs saying not to run as you walk between the structures or to climb on them, many people ignored that. It became a playground for so many – the antithesis of the events it is there to memorialize. 

Our group had many ideas of how to change it, such as surround the area with glass walls topped by depictions of barbed wire with only a few entry points.  The names of the concentration camps could be etched in the glass along with the numbers of people who perished in each.  The reverent and somber mood was not there and it should have been!

We also went to the Jewish Museum in Berlin.  The entry to the museum is quite confusing unless one stops to really pay attention.  You begin by walking down stairs to a central hallway with three angled halls going off from it.  Each angled hall represents a thread of Jewish experience – continuity, diaspora, or the holocaust. The only one of us who fully appreciated it was the ENTJ, in part because she was so well steeped in history and the facts, and in part because she quickly understands symbolism.   She could draw upon both her Intuition and her Sensing. The rest of us missed it.

And we went to the Berlin Wall Memorial.  That one worked for all of us.  This Denkmal was blocks long at a place in the city where the actual border cut across an apartment building, a church and a cemetery plus gardens and streets.  The stories of each and of the wall were laid out in storyboards along with videos and interviews with people who lived it.  The names of those who had died while crossing were also included.  Very powerful.  Even though there were large grassy fields that one could play on, no one did.  It was clearly recognized as a memorial and treated as such.

For all of us, the memorials that worked created a mood of reverence, the opportunity to go in-depth and learn more intellectually about the events and simply to experience the pull of raw emotions.  

Have you experienced a memorial that worked for you? Why?

 

 

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At the Olympics in Rio!

If you follow any international news or sports, you're following the Rio Olympics. Here is this American ESTJ's perspective.
 
Before I arrived, I was reading newscasts about mosquitoes, robberies, protestors, impeachment, etc.  Here I find very little evidence of any of that. 

I did happen to spot some broken window panes in the Rio de Janeiro Parliament building.  This building was the home of the national Capitol until it moved to Brasilia in 1960.
 
I asked our student guide if the broken windows were from Olympic protestors.  He said that in a way they were.  He has not been able to attend classes for the last four months because his university is shut down.  Why?  The professors and staff have not been paid and are on strike.  The protests were about money going to the Olympic Games, instead of education or other needed social services, let alone infrastructure to clean up the water.
 
And the games go on.  There are hordes of people excited about the Olympics.  There are also lots of armed soldiers near every major venue and gathering point.  

Subways and trains are packed, not only with the locals but also with people from all over the world.  You hear lots of languages.  People are friendly and helpful, even those not wearing the bright yellow jackets signifying them as helpers. They are calling out directions to trains to the venues in both Portuguese and English.

Security lines to get into the venues seem to be running smoothly now.  We're lucky to be in the preferential lines due to our age of over 65.  Museums also often give free membership to those my age, and half price to those 62-64.
 
Attending an Athletics (Track and Field) session is like watching a three ring circus.  There are usually several events going on at the same time - pole vaulting, running, discus, and shotput can all be happening simultaneously.
 
And depending on where you are sitting you either see the competitors looking the size of an ant or you can see a real person!  If you're up high, watching a long race while the runners spread out, they look like a snake.  And in the steeplechase when they jump over hurdles, they look like a snake going over a lump.  No, those were not my images; they came from my Intuitive friends.

Etiquette at a track meet is interesting.  The Brazilians have gotten so excited over their athletes that they cheer loudly even at the moment when the starter needs to shoot the gun.  No one can hear, so now there are calls from all over the stadium for silence.
 
And so as not to block the view of others behind you, you are supposed to stay in your seat and not stand up and cheer for your favorite athlete.  The one time that is not followed is when Usain Bolt (the fastest man on earth!) appears; all sorts of people are there who do not usually go to track, so everyone stands up with excitement because they these folks don’t know track etiquette.

No "booing" is supposed to occur since we are honoring the achievements of every athlete around the world.  However, that rule has been broken several times, which really does tarnish the games. 

The medal ceremony is the one time when all eyes focus on one place and everyone stands for national anthem of the gold medalist’s country.  That is a really good feeling!

This is an exciting time to be in Rio and to be a citizen of the world.

 

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Preparing for the Rio Olympics!

I’m going to the Olympics in Rio! I had the opportunity to go to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, so this one will be an interesting contrast.

How do I prepare as an ESTJ?  As you know, preparation is pretty important to people of my type!

Part of travelling is learning what I really need and when to just let go.  Long ago, I made it part of my routine to acknowledge that I would inevitably forget something or need something I never thought of packing.  My goal is to figure out what that is as soon as possible and to logically analyze where and how to get it! 

There is my somewhat cautious SJ side that says watch out for mosquitoes, robbers, and bad water, etc.  I hope to handle those negative possibilities with a bit of preparation along with actions to minimize my risks – take mosquito repellent, carry only small amounts of cash, drink bottled water and bring antibiotics, just in case.

There is my Extraverted side – so much to do and so much to see.  I need to make sure I don’t get worn out.

There’s my ESTJ "take charge" side. I’ll be travelling with several others and I need to remember to take other’s needs into account.  I can’t order them around and expect to build relationships.  Luckily the tickets we already have will do some of that structuring for us!

The Olympics is all about organization, something I love. I’m fascinated by how others structure events.  At the Olympic track and field venue, there is a timetable that is rigorously applied; huge timers are always counting out the number of minutes and seconds until the next track and field event starts.  It will be interesting to see how the Latin culture handles the time issue.

I really don’t follow sports that much.  For me, watching the field workers set up the events sometimes is more interesting than the actual events. 

For example, with all those throwing events (hammer, discus, javelin) I don’t know good form from bad form.  I can understand long throws and short ones.  But what I like best is watching the little remote control cars that the field helper puts the thrown object into and then the person with the remote control speeds back to the athletes. 

I admire the helpers in the trucks who set up the hurdles quickly and then take them down quickly; it’s a study in efficiency.  Love it!! 

So, look for me in the crowds at the track and field finals, the team synchronized swimming, and the women’s diving.  I’ll be waving directly at you!!

 

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Reading Type into Reading

I don’t usually spend a lot of time typing the people I meet either in person or in a book.  And the people I spend time with are grateful for that! 

But sometimes I just can’t help it.  That just happened when I read A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman and “met” Ove and his wife, Sonja.  The book is about the impact (planned or not) one life can have on many others.

Ove seems like an ISTJ to me with his focus on structure and details and doing what needs to be done with little fuss and fanfare. He likes following the rules and seeing his world in straightforward ways. (Okay, so he goes a bit over the top into curmudgeondom, but still, his basic personality is intact.)

Sonja is probably an ENFP, loving color and change and creativity and seeing potential in people.  She cares about enjoying life wherever she is and in whatever circumstances she finds herself in.

He is loyal to those he loves, although the concept of love is a tough one for him to acknowledge.  She accepts people for who they are and the concept of love is not a just a concept, but a reality. 

She speaks and he listens, and they love one another deeply.  We grow to love them both too.

Just to keep going with this opposites theme … if you know the RIASEC model, there’s another chance to see differences!  (RIASEC refers to Holland's six personality types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional.)

Ove is a “Realistic,” dedicated real, tangible things with his building, and fixing.  Sonja is the opposite, a “Social,” into helping people grow and develop through her teaching of “unteachable” kids. 

But he ends up building things all the time that help people!  Someone’s car breaks down, and he fixes it just to shut them up and stop asking for help.   And no matter what he does, he seems to inadvertently help others.  And in the process we see type development happening! 

While getting acquainted with their characters, I was also reminded of some research on couples by Drs. Julie and John Gottman.  They documented that on the average 69% of the issues couples have with one another will never be solved.  But they can be discussed in civil ways and perhaps even accepted.  Expecting the other person to change usually is unrealistic!!

That research was particularly helpful on a recent trip I took to Russia with my sweetie and another couple.  When we would find ourselves being annoyed with our partners, we would pipe up, “okay, that’s one of the 69%.” 

We would observe other couples bickering and think to ourselves, they probably were at 89%!  But beyond that we did not type them.

I don’t know if you read type into fictional characters, or real ones for that matter, but I can recommend this book, which is a good reminder that learning to accept differences helps in enjoying life! 

 

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The Perennial Pleasures of ISTJs

Every year, my ISTJ sister spends a week at her condo in Florida and for the last few years, I’ve been joining her. We do the same things she’s been doing every year: kayak on the Manatee River, swim in the condo’s pool, go out on a sunset sail, sit on the beach, walk along the sound, and eat crab legs at three different restaurants.

If you’re an ENFP, you may think that sounds like hell, repeating the same activities year after year. You would prefer to go to a place you’ve never been to, and explore all of its possibilities.

But wait a minute, let me make a case for the ISTJ way of vacationing, because I suspect that anyone, of any type, might enjoy it.  

First of all, because my sister has been doing these things for so many years, she knows how to do them right. For example, when we go kayaking, we go on Monday because that’s when we’re most likely to be alone on the river. The night before, she takes two bottles of “Simply Lemonade,” empties a little off the top, replaces it with vodka and puts the bottles in the freezer. The next morning, she packs a bag for each of us with a bottle of spiked lemonade, a bottle of frozen water, and a hefty serving of dry roasted peanuts. We each bring a small cushion to put behind us, which makes the seat very comfortable, and for three hours, we drift quietly down the river, paddling only to steer the kayak, admiring the trees and flowers, eating peanuts and getting a pleasant vodka buzz. It’s heaven, and I look forward to it all year.

Of course there are surprises; there are always surprises. One year the kayak rental owners had a peacock on the premises who was showing off his plumage, another year, an owl was perched in a tree right above us and hooted down at us. One year we saw an alligator sunning himself, and one year we actually saw a manatee. 

The point is, my sister has done this so many times she has worked out the kinks, and she knows how to make the experience simply perfect.

I once read a quote by a world famous chef. His advice to young cooks is to make a dish so many times that you have experienced almost everything that can go wrong with it, so you know how to avoid the possible errors. When it comes to vacations, my sister is like that famous chef. She has made all of the errors, and she knows how to avoid them.

ISTJs get a lot of flack for being resistant to change, but there are good reasons for their resistance. It’s because the routines and traditions that they have developed were hard won. They made all of the mistakes and learned all of the lessons, so now their finished product works every time. We need to remember that when we go in with our ideas for big changes. First, we need to ask why things are the way they are, and to acknowledge all of the painful lessons that have been learned.

I know that when I first arrive at the condo, the chicken salad and gazpacho that my sister has prepared will taste absolutely delicious and just the way I expect it. I know that while I’m with her I’ll never be hungry, thirsty, hot, cold, uncomfortable, bored or afraid, because my sister has experienced it all before me and now knows how to avoid it. I don’t have to repeat her mistakes, and that’s a great gift she gives to me.

This year, we did some new things, mostly because so many people had recommended them to my sister that their experience almost made up for her lack of experience. The new things were fun, but they weren’t perfect, like the old things. We came away with a little bit of dissatisfaction and things we would change if we came back next year.

For years, the people at my sister’s condo community complained about the temperature of their swimming pool. It always seemed too warm or too cold. But now the maintenance men seemed to have found the perfect temperature, where you don’t get any shock when you jump in, but it still feels refreshing after the hot sun. It took at least 20 years and a lot of aggravation to find that perfect temperature. I never jump in now without remembering what went into that lovely water. Thank god for the things that are perfect every time, and for the people (mostly ISTJs) who finally got them to that place.

 

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