Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Window Dressing

I have noticed that retail staff often remove their shoes before setting up displays in shop windows.

The managers of their shops obviously fear the appearance of scuff marks on the shiny window ledges.

If you have a wood or vinyl floor, do you care about it as much as the managers of these shops care about the window ledges of their shops? Shoes can so easily cause scratches or leave marks on your floor. Especially if people get stones or other sharp stuff stuck on the sole.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to.... Taiwan!

Taiwan- World Factbook

Government Information Office, Republic of China (Taiwan)

Taiwan Headlines

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to Taiwan, because it is the custom in that country to remove shoes when entering homes.

I read in the newspaper this week that criminals were being offered, as an alternative to fines, the punishment of having to play card games with elderly people. Apparently, the criminals learned respect this way. What a creative punishment!

You have to feel for the Taiwanese, having a powerful neighbor next door who refuses to acknowledge their right to determine their destiny. It is incredible to think of the high-minded arrogance of the Chinese government which threatens to go to war if Taiwan declares her independence. I almost hope that the Taiwanese do declare independence soon, so that the USA can take the Chinese government down a peg or two.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Broken Glass

Today I took some glass bottles to be recycled. We recycle quite a lot in my home. My sister who moved out this year was very big on the environment and recycling.

The ground next to the recycling bins was covered in broken glass. Bits of glass stuck to my shoes.

Now if I had come home and kept my shoes on, what would have happened? What effect would the small particles of glass embedded in my shoes have had on the carpet or any kind of floor?

Do you see what I am getting at?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to.... Austria!

Austria page in Wikipedia

Austria Tourist Guide

Austria Today

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to Austria, as it is common in that country for people to remove shoes when entering homes.

In many Austrian homes it is the custom to provide guests with slippers. This is a custom that is apparently declining, sadly. Still, removing shoes is far more common than in Britain.

Austria was in the newspapers today. Bird Flu has now spread to Austria from the east, which is a little worrying. Austria has always been a frontier of Europe. For many centuries, Austria was the frontier of Christendom against the Islamic Ottoman empire. Several times, the Muslim Turks laid siege to Vienna. Now, the Bird Flu virus is laying siege to Europe. Personally I am not inclined to panic about the Bird Flu epidemic. I do not expect it to be all that bad.

I went on a school ski trip to Austria when I was 15. I was not very good at skiing, unsurprising given my Dyspraxia, but it was interesting to see that country.

Austria is a Catholic country. For information about Roman Catholicism, visit:

Chick Publications


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Some Serious Theology- Are you a Tramplian or an Offalist?

You may be sick of the Calvinist/ Arminian debate, so let me introduce you to some new theological terms; Tramplian and Offalist.

Tramplians like to trample the carpets or flooring of their homes with their shoes on. They find it rather objectionalbe to be asked to remove their shoes when visiting somebody else's home.

The central principle in Tramplian theology is the freedom of the will. They believe that they should be the ones to decide whether they take their shoes off at a dinner party. Their attitude is "I decided what outfit to wear. I decided what shoes to wear. I should be able to keep them on if I like". They do not believe that a hostess should impose shoelessness on them.

Tramplians have a strong belief in the goodness of hosts. They consider that a hostess should be above all concerned for her guests wishes and convenience above keeping her home clean. They believe that if a hostess likes them enougth to invite them into her home, she will accept them with their shoes on.

Tramplians believe in the power of their own ability to keep their shoes clean. They consider themselves to be grown-up and to be careful about what they tread on. They do acknowledge that their shoes can be tainted by the corruption of dirty streets, however they hold that this can easily be dealt with by wiping their feet on their hostess' doormat. Their shoes can be restored to cleanliness by the exercise of their will.

Offalists in contrast, always remove their shoes at the door. Offalists believe in the Total Depravity of the soles of their shoes. The corruption of city streets has completely ruined the condition of their shoes, they argue, and the only hope is a change of nature for their feet, namely into slippers or clean socks. The Offalist pays heed to warnings about the health risks of pesticide, lead paint and animal excrement.

The Offalist upholds the sovereignty of the host. The hostess has been very generous in inviting her guests, however, she is sovereign over her own home and has the authority to set the rules. She will not allow anything corrupt to defile her home. Those who would enter her home must not come in their own shoes, but must meet her condition of a change into slippers or stocking feet.

The Offalist holds that the root problem of the Tramplian's theology is human pride. The Tramplian is proud of her ability to make decisions about her outfit. She is proud of her Manolos, her Prada heels or her Jimmy Choo boots. She is too proud to combine her outfit with stocking feet. She resents the idea that her hostess would not accept her in her own shoes.

The Offalist argues that if the Tramplian would only forsake her pride, she would actually find that she was far more comfortable in slippers, socks or bare feet. Her determination to remain in her stilettos will in the end hurt her feet and drag her to destruction. She may well remain outside the dinner party in the outer darkness.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to.... Albania!

Albania- Wikipedia entry

World Factbook: Albania

Welcome to Albania

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to Albania, because it is the custom in that country to remove shoes in homes.

Among my best friends are a couple who served for two or three years as missionaries in Albania. The husband had been interested in Albania as a young man, but he was nto converted until his thirties and discovered his missionary call late in life. The couple would tour the various towns and villages in the mountain country and preach the gospel. The man pastored a church that they planted in the village of Terpelena.

When Albania's economy broke down completely in 1997, the country fell into civil war. As they had children, my friend's left, along with the majority of missionaries. The various churches that had been planted in the country were forced to look after themselves.

My friends are still in contact with the church they planted. They occasionally travel to Albania to visit it. The pastor of the church now is a Gypsy in his early twenties who has hardly any education and who lives in poverty. There are many problems and disagreements in this congregation, but it continues.

My friends continually receive letters from their Gypsy converts asking for money. There is simply so little economic future for the country. The best prospects for a young man in Albania lie in going to Greece to seek work.

While Albania was not on good terms with the Soviet Union, it was an extremely severe Communist regime until 1991. It was officially atheist and prohibited all religious activity. After the end of Communism, the country experienced a flood of church planting by missionaries. This has now died down. The Evangelical churches are divided and suffer from many difficulties. The challenge of planting churhces in a culture without any Christianity must have been huge.

The majority of Alabanians are nomminally Muslim, but not very strict. There is some effort to spread more rigid Islamic practise. There are Catholic and Greek Orthodox minorities. The Jehovah's Witnesses are laboring hard to make their own converts in the country.

There is a missionary organization dedicate to work amongst the Albanian people in Albania, Kosova and elsewhere. It is called the Albanian Evangelical Mission. It has a website:

Albanian Evangelical Mission

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

'Wearing Shoes in Your Home is a Health Hazard' by Paul Rebhan

Paul Rebhan wrote:

When you walk through almost any part of a city, and even in the suburbs, your shoes pick up a multitude of unwanted hangers-on. If you wear those shoes in your home, you run the risk of endangering your family's health by spreading viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, other pathogens, allergens and toxic substances.

Nocent items such as these may be commonly found on sidewalks and streets:

- Remnants of feces from dogs, cats, rodents, birds, other wildlife and sometimes, even humans.
- Urine from the same sources.
- Excretions such as saliva, mucus, sweat and sometimes, blood or vomit.
- Remains from insects and rodents
- Remnants of garbage including food waste and toxic cleaning products.
- Residue from insecticides, oils, gasoline and grease.

Even indoor spaces such as the floors of restrooms are frequently contaminated with urine and hospitals or doctors' offices are fertile hotspots for a variety of germs that may end up on your shoes. Soil around homes and parks may be contaminated with lead, pesticides, lawn chemicals and toxic wood preservatives.

Residue from humans and animals may contain common viruses and pathogens such as hepatitis, herpes, E. coli, tetanus, rabies, strep, hantavirus, or cold and flu causing germs. Garbage residue may carry traces of toxic products such as formaldehyde, industrial chemicals, dyes and lead. According to Dr. Leo Galland, author of "Power Healing", lead tracked into a home and accumulated in carpet dust often exceeds levels requiring clean-up at Superfund toxic sites.

These items may be on the ground in very small deposits that are unnoticeable to the naked eye. Shoe soles are generally made of leather, rubber or other porous materials that allow the absorption of microscopic substances. Wiping shoes on a doormat or rug may remove some of the larger materials, but will not eliminate microscopic germs.

Once inside your home, contaminated shoes become a conduit for disease, spreading germs to carpets and even hard-surfaced floors. If you walk on those floors later without shoes, the germs can spread to your feet and be carried to other places such as your bed. If children are allowed to play on the floor, germs can easily spread to their hands, clothing and mouths. Even pets are at risk of picking up and spreading these germs.

In his book "The Secret Life of Germs", Philip M. Tierno, Jr., Ph.D. suggests a simple way to avoid this hazard: "One should adopt the hygienic Japanese practice of having separate footwear for outdoors and indoors, and leaving the outdoor shoes at the threshold".

References: Philip M. Tierno. Jr, Ph.D.: The Secret Life of Germs, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control: An Ounce of Prevention, Dr. Leo Galland: Power Healing, Spectrum Magazine: Our Daily Dose of Poison, Logan County, CO.: The Online Courthouse, Gary Null, Ph.D.: Natural Living with Gary Null

Monday, February 06, 2006

Removing Shoes in Somebody Else's House

Most of my posts on this blog have dealt with having a shoes-off policy in one's own home. There is the question of whether to remove one's shoes in the home of somebody who does not share one's conviction on this subject.

I have never visited anyone for years who has asked me to take my shoes off. I should be quite delighted if I visited somebody who did. I stayed in Helsinki with a family who all removed their shoes at the door. As I knew this was the custom in Finland, they did not need to ask me to do so. Whether they would have asked me to take them off had I kept them on, I do not know.

There are some people who say that if you expect people to remove their shoes in your home, then you should remove your shoes in othr people's homes, whether they ask you or not.

I have some sympathy for this position. I would like to set an example. It would send the signal that it is not unreasonable to expect shoes-off at the door. If I visit somebody's house and I keep my shoes on, then I keep thinking about all the dirt I am spreading in their house. It plays on my mind.

On the other hand, if I am visiting a house where people frequently wear shoes indoors, then it will do little good my removing my shoes. It would just get my socks dirty.

More significantly, in Britain it is not the accepted norm to remove one's shoes when visiting somebody's home. In fact some people would consider it rather rude. If people in Britain want to remove their shoes to make themselves more comfortable, then they will ususally ask permission (British people are so silly!). It is not unusual for some people to offer to remove their shoes when visiting somebody. This is a nice gesture, but most people in Britain are silly enough to decline this offer. It is also pointless to do this if the hosts have their shoes on.

As I am a typically polite Englishman, I am always concerned not to be seen as taking liberties in other people's homes. So, if I visited a home where the hosts had their shoes on or where I knew they often wore shoes indoors, I would keep my shoes on.

On the other hand, if I visited somebody who answered the door without their shoes on, I would probably remove mine, unless I knew they commonly wore shoes in their home. I would do this just to set an example.

If I was with my parents, I would do whatever they did. I tend to defer to them.

On one occasion, I visited a home where they often kept their shoes on. The lady of the house had just vacummed the carpet and it looked so clean. I just had to take my shoes off, even though they had their shoes on. I could not bear to defile this freshly-cleaned carpet. It did not bear thinking about.

When I used to visit my ex-fiance, I used to take my slippers with me. She and her parents never asked me to remove my shoes unless they were muddy (despite their being far more obsessive about cleanliness than me). I changed into my slippers on principle and I am sure they appreciated it.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Kick Off Your Shoes

Kick Off Your Shoes

Article by Deena Wade

Thailand Culture

Thailand Culture

A guide to etiquette in Thailand.

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to... Iceland!

Iceland Page in Wikipedia

World Factbook: Iceland

Icelandic Tourist Board

Go Iceland

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to Iceland, because it is customary in that country to remove shoes when entering homes.

Iceland made it into the newspapers today with the plans of it's government to aim for the elimination of all use of oil as fuel. The plan is to power the whole country with geothermal energy and hydrogen powered cars. With a smaller population, this should not be too difficult for them. I wish them success.

Iceland was colonized by the Vikings in the 'Dark Ages'. During the period of about 500-1000, there was some global warming which enabled civilization in northern europe to thrive and rapid colonization by Viking settlers. They brought many Irish slaves with them, with the result that Icelanders are partly of Celtic stock.

Contrary to the stereotype, Viking civilization in Iceland was very sophisticated. In 930 AD, the Icelanders founded the world's first parliament.

However, the global warming that was occurring at the time resulted in a southward drift in ice that lead to some harsh winters around 1000 AD. This lead to hardship and a breakdown in law and order in Iceland. However, this decline inspired the great Icelandic contribution to literature, the Sagas.

The sagas were epic poems of norse heroes. They were not mythical tales, but socio-realist tales of feuding, conflict and grudges. They are not the most cheerful books you could read, but an excellent way to learn about Norse civilization.

The Icelandic geothermal geysers are one of the world's most interesting geograpical features.

About half of the population of Iceland believe in the existence of Elves.

Did I mention Bjork?