Richard Lewis Explains How Cultures Interpret Time

In this fascinating post, Richard Lewis (author of When Cultures Collide) explains how various cultures consider/view/understand time. Most of us in the West are used to “Linear Time” (i.e., event A happens, followed by event B, and so on) whereas people in southern Europe interpret time as being “multi-active”:

Southern Europeans are multi-active, rather than linear-active [read Lewis’s analysis of cultures as multi-active, linear-active, and reactive]. The more things they can do at the same time, the happier and the more fulfilled they feel. They organize their time (and lives) in an entirely different way from Americans, Germans and the Swiss. Multi-active peoples are not very interested in schedules or punctuality. They pretend to observe them, especially if a linear-active partner or colleague insists on it, but they consider the present reality to be more important than appointments. In their ordering of things, priority is given to the relative thrill or significance of each meeting.

In countries inhabited by linear-active people, time is clock- and calendar- related, segmented in an abstract manner for our convenience, measurement, and disposal. In multi-active cultures like the Arab and Latin spheres, time is event- or personality-related, a subjective commodity which can be manipulated, molded, stretched, or dispensed with, irrespective of what the clock says.

“I have to rush,” says the American, “my time is up.” The Spaniard or Arab, scornful of this submissive attitude to schedules, would only use this expression if death were imminent.

There are also other great bits from the piece. This part about Japanese culture I had never known before:

Another example is the start and finish of all types of classes in Japan, where the lesson cannot begin without being preceded by a formal request on the part of the students for the teacher to start. Similarly, they must offer a ritualistic expression of appreciation at the end of the class.

Read the rest here.

Remembering Carl Sagan: “We Are the Custodians of Life’s Meaning”

We lost Carl Sagan on this day, seventeen years ago. It was only in the last few years that I have discovered his voice and his wisdom. And I wanted to share one of the best compilations in his memory, compiled by Reid Grower and simply titled The Sagan Series. It’s a series of ten YouTube videos with Sagan narrating the wonder of our planet, space exploration, and our life’s purpose.

My favourite is probably the first video, which to this day, is still the best encapsulation of why man should and will venture out into space.

But my favorite quote probably comes from the third video, titled “A Reassuring Fable.” In it, Sagan notes on the meaning of life:

We long to be here for a purpose. Even though, despite much self-deception, none is evident. The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning.

He goes on to say:

We long for a Parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better, by far, to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable…If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal.

Amen.

Regardless of where you stand in the religion/science spectrum, The Sagan Series is the best thing you can watch today.

Wyoming and Yellowstone via Instagram

I just recently returned from a fifteen-day road trip out West. Along the way, I ate amazing barbecue food in Kansas City, saw the most gorgeous sunset in rural Kansas, crossed paths with celebrity mechanics in Colorado, and made way too many photography pit stops while getting to the ultimate destination, Yellowstone National Park (where we spent seven days). I have been slowly editing the images I have taken in and around the park with my primary cameras (Canon 7D and Canon 5D Mark II) as individual posts on my photoblog, Erudite Expressions; that Yellowstone gallery is now complete. Here, I wanted to highlight some of the mobile photographs I captured during this trip, most of which were taken with Instagram on my iPhone.

Stopping in rural Wyoming

Stopping in Rural Wyoming.

One of the most fruitful stops was this unassuming place called Cowboy Cafe in the town of Dubois, WY. Don’t let the tiny size fool you: the food here is spectacular. We met a group of people inside who said they’ve been coming to Dubois for fifteen years, and for every year they come, they have their breakfast, lunch, and dinner here. The TripAdvisor reviews aren’t wrong here. This hole-in-the-wall is a must when stopping in Dubois (or perhaps even making a special visit out of your trip if you’re in the Jackson Hole/Grand Teton area). The pies here, made daily, are to die for.

Cowboy Cafe

Cowboy Cafe in Dubois, WY.

A horse farm in Dubois, WY.

Tire tracking in Dubois, WY.

Population: less than 1,000. Amazing small town atmosphere.

Perhaps a better view of this scene on my photoblog, but…

The Tetons.

Fall approaching in Yellowstone National Park.

Crystal clear lake.

The most popular feature of Yellowstone National Park (also presented here in long exposure form)

The world-famous Old Faithful geyser.

Because of the wind gusts, it was a not-so-uncommon occurrence with people losing their hats at the park. Here, I document a white hat lost in the Grand Prismatic Spring area. Compare to the photo of “The Red Hat” lost at Mammoth.

The Lost Hat.

A hot spring at the West Thumb Basin (next to Yellowstone Lake):

At the West Thumb Basin.

Fall colors at Yellowstone.

An out-of-this world scene at Mammoth Hot Springs (compare to this photograph):

Mammoth.

We spent a few days in West Yellowstone, Montana. Among other things, the town is famous for these decorated bison found on its streets. You can read more about this initiative here.

Buffalo statue at West Yellowstone, Montana.

Sunset in West Yellowstone, MT.

I took a late evening bike ride to the far edge of the city of West Yellowstone. I wound up on this rural road and saw an incredible sunset in the distance:

End of the road. Remains of the day.

On the way back from Yellowstone, we took a different road: I-90 in Montana to I-25. We stopped in historic Sheridan, WY:

Old railroad. Sheridan, WY.

Exploring Sheridan, WY.

This was a peculiar sight. The word pharmacy spelled in Russian Polish on the back wall in Sheridan, WY:

Pharmacy.

And what would a trip to Wyoming be without a stop in one of its greatest store specializing in barbed wire?

The best store in all of Wyoming.

I have dozens of more mobile photos that I captured on this trip, but the significant ones I’ve profiled in this blog post. If you’re still curious to see more photos, I highly recommend checking out my Yellowstone Gallery and reading through the captions of each individual post. This was an amazing road trip, if my photos are any indication :).