Helping, without helping too much

Helping people is a good thing, right? We are being taught early in life that you answer “yes, of course” when somebody, anybody, asks for your help nicely. As we get older, wiser, more experienced, it seems only natural that we will be asked for help more often. It can be flattering to find your advice highly sought after. Research shows, however, that both parties in this situation – the helper, and the one being helped – may suffer negative consequences of too much help. I recently experienced this, again, and had to remind myself to say “no”, at least sometimes.

It started as an innocent message from a stranger in a public forum – just a quick question about a little detail of my life that I had shared. I replied, being the well-behaved, educated person I have been taught to be. Big mistake! Could I please answer some more in-depth questions, preferrably via email? Sure – why not, one email doesn’t cost me that much time. It didn’t stop at one email, though. The messages became longer, repeating questions that I had already answered. Would I please attach sample documents to explain what I meant? Oh, and I sent you a “friend request” on Facebook, because I really like you – we have never met in person, mind you.

So, after several months, I find myself researching information on the internet, collecting documentation about my findings, answering highly technical questions with longer and longer emails and messages. It’s starting to feel like a job – except I’m not being paid, or otherwise rewarded. I realized, that I had inadvertently created a dependency. This random stranger stopped doing their own research, learning for themselves. Instead they relied on the newly found “two-legged dictionary” that I had become for them.

No – this stops here! I realize that my experience and detailed knowledge could help others in a similar situation, and I am willing to share – but not to the point where it becomes a job. Sometimes you have to be selfish and put yourself before anyone else. Ignore what society is urging you to do.


Counterclockwise ALDI

counter-clockwise Aldi, new Aldi store Fort Wayne, germanize your shopping trip

On my way home from work today I stopped by the new ALDI that recently opened. For most people this is just a low-priced grocery store, but for me it’s a cure for the homesick blues that I still get now and then. This particular new shop features the counterclockwise set-up, which is a rare find. I don’t know what the statistics say, but from my personal experience most ALDIs are to be travelled in the clockwise direction.

The reason behind this can be found in shoppers’ psychology, and marketers’ attempts to manipulate the crowds. Most things in nature tend to rotate counterclockwise, if you let them – water down the drain, weather systems, even the entire planet Earth – they all rotate counterclockwise. People, and animals, feel more at ease and comfortable walking around a circle in a counterclockwise direction.

So, if you want your customers to feel good, spend more time in your store, and subsequently buy more stuff, you should let them flow naturally, counterclockwise. Be prepared to have more people crowding your aisles, spending more time in the store on average, and requiring more attention from your personnel too. On the other hand, if you have a small store with mainly simple, cheap goods, and not enough employees, your main focus would be to get people in and out quickly. That’s why most discounters, Dollar stores, or Walmarts, are set up in the “unnatural” clockwise direction.

If you have some time on your hands, try navigate any store against the planned layout – and pay attention to how that feels different.

Germanize the Bathroom

Those of you who have lived in different countries can probably relate to the mixed feelings I have about houses in the USA, compared to houses in Germany. The main advantage of home ownership in the US is that it is way more affordable, not just because of the generally lower price of land, but also because of cheaper building techniques.

The notion of economy doesn’t stop at the outside of the building; it continues on the inside, all the way down to the fixtures and appliances. I could talk about doors, windows, rain gutters, roof shingles, siding, water pipes, heating systems, electric installations, lightning rods, sump pumps, you name it – but after a while I realized, that my audience either doesn’t know what I’m talking about, or they do and don’t need to be remindHansgrohe shower headed.

I personally enjoy my spacious home and find solutions for some oHansgrohe batchroom faucetf its shortcomings.



With a little help from Costco and Amazon our bathroom has been partially Germanized. It is sporting a shiny faucet, which we installed last year, and a new luxury shower head, replacing an identical one that was getting worn, both made in Germany by Hansgrohe.

Rider Genes?

My daughter posted a picture on Instagram today, about her first motorcycle lesson. All geared up and excited. As I clicked on “like”, smiling, I was reminded of my own excitement when I had finally saved up enough money to buy my first motorcycle, 36 years ago.

antique rider gloves
grandpa’s motorcycle gloves

My mother didn’t like the idea of me riding, but she still gave me her father’s old motorcycle gloves, for good luck. I had never met my grandfather; he died long before I was born, but I remember photos of him on his beautiful Indian.

March 1981, BMW R65
BMW R65, March 1981

I knew I wanted to ride, in the front seat of course, when one of my classmates in highschool took me for a spin on his new HONDA in 1974. But, since my parents didn’t support the idea, I had to wait and save money to be able to pay for the licence, and for the bike, and I had to be independent.

I got my motorcycle license in 1980, and in March 1981 I laid down 9,100.00 Deutsche Mark in cash at a BMW motorcycle dealership for this blue BMW R65 with white hardcases.

Adventures 2.0

After 330 posts on an antiquated platform designed in the ’90s I felt it was time for an upgrade on my blog. Several important requirements had to be met: it should not cost more to run, I don’t want to lose any of my old posts, and the platform needs to be future-proof.

What looks easy enough at first glance evolved into a bigger project quickly, once I started thinking about the details.

  • create a subdomain in my webspace
  • install WordPress on it
  • find a suitable theme
  • get plugins (Jetpack, Syndication, Spamprotection)
  • configure my theme
  • make an about page, and a contact form
  • import those 330 old posts from Blogspirit – in chunks of 10 via 33 individual rss feeds

Karin's New Adventures home pageThis is what I’ve come up with. I like the clean, modern look of it. Also WordPress gives me more control and flexibility, so if the fashion trend changes, I can simply “go with the flow” and adapt – instead of having to start over.

What do you think?