Monthly Archives: March 2013

More on the politics of beer in Montana. Politics and beer have been joined together since the beginning of our country. Remember the Whiskey Rebellion? There’s a good book on the history of the saloon period from 1870-1920 called “Faces Along the Bar” by Madelon Powers. People who say they loves their freedoms turn around and like to control other people’s ability to brew their own brew. They also seek to control people’s leisure time. It’s an old story.

Staff and Workers and Big and Small

I shop at a huge supermarket/organic food combination store in Bozeman, MT.  Their organic department is quite good.  I was  going to remake a delicious Chicken Tikka Masala recipe from Bon Appetit’s April issue.  I had made it the night before to much praise by finicky husband.  I had all the exotic ingredients like Garam Masala, turmeric, chiles de arbol, cardamon pods.  I did not have Ghee (clarified butter) and was told to substitute vegetable oil.  It also said to use yogurt but not Greek.  I only had Greek.
So the point and relevance is coming, I promise you.
I am standing starring at the yogurt section.  Oddly, there now is very little old type yogurt.  Mostly Greek.  As I’m pondering, the usual helpful employee asks if there is something she can help me  with.  I usually say, “No, I’m fine”.  This time I mentioned there being no “regular” yogurt.  She explains the difference between them is mostly texture and how she has a hard time eating regular because the thickness of the Greek is so satisfying.  I tell her that I used the yogurt with the Indian spices to marinate the chicken.  We both pondered and decided to stick with the Greek since I had more of a variety of container size and whatever was left over I could eat.  I then showed her the jar of Ghee and asked about using that or the vegetable oil.  She immediately said, “Oh, the Ghee, of course.”
I thanked her profusely and went on my way to checkout where the bagger asked if he could assist me to the car (whispering as they always do), “I’d like to get outside. It’s so nice out.”   We chit chat all the way to the car.
I realized that the woman who helped me probably felt some satisfaction in helping me and it was a nice change from stacking shelves.  And with finally a nice sunny day, who wouldn’t want to get outside and see the beautiful snowy mountains and breathe fresh air?
Then off to Costco I went where the same people have been helping me for 15 years.  The same woman admires my flowers and I tell her that they last at least two weeks.  I talk to the checkout guy and ask how his son with cystic fibrosis is doing.  He has insurance which is much needed.
Why would anybody shop at Wal-Mart other than hoarders of cheap crap?
By the way, our local store is not all that great although it’s trying for more “organic” and the check out people are mostly kids or tired looking adults who none the less do smile and ask “How’s it goin’?”

I do  wish the “big” stores had lower ceilings and didn’t feel so…well…big. But the happy helpful staff makes up for that. (Although I do wish the bagger last week hadn’t coughed and sneezed all the way to the car.  No paid sick days?)  And I do wish the smaller stores weren’t so strapped that they can’t afford to pay decent wages to  their workers so that they felt more like…well… “staff”.


“To err is human. To cover it up is weasel.” (Scott Adams).

A therapist friend recommended a new book called “Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) by Tavris and Aronson.  I read a couple chapters and then skimmed through the rest.  It reminded me of books by Malcolm Gladwell and the “Nudge” guys who are friends of Obama.  Simple premise and lots of interesting examples.  The premise in “Mistakes” is that people use a lot of self justification to defend bad decisions or hurtful behavior.  Another phrase for this is “cognitive dissonance”.  Cognitive dissonance is the “state of tension that occurs whenever a person holds two cognitions (ideas, attitudes, beliefs, opinions) that are psychologically inconsistent, such as their example:  “Smoking is a dumb thing to do because it will kill me” and “I smoke two packs a day.”  (Not sure this is the best example as tobacco is addictive so there’s a reason it’s hard to stop the dumb thing.)  They also use the example of trying to make sense out of contradictory ideas such as Albert Camus’ idea that humans spend their lives trying “to convince ourselves that our existence is not absurd”.  This causes anxiety in most humans , they say.

It hit me that these psychologists must not be Jungians.  Carl Jung embraced contradictions and was not cowed by them.  The whole concept of the shadow aka our dark side is based on humans being born hardwired in a certain way but through the software of life that includes families, friends, and work, we begin to experience  our opposites; the contradictions in life.   If we learn and grow and accept these opposites/ contradictions, we are healthy.  If we just can’t see our “dark side”,  we  don’t know that we live in a place called Weaseltown. Continue reading