Quid pro quo

Hello Maddy,

Thank you for really sending me some questions:-) Seems you liked my idea. Maybe we could elaborate further on that and get a blog-based/post-based exchange going, i.e. sending questions/thoughts back and forth and answering/thinking about them. Would be interesting. What do you think?

However, first things first. Now I’m going to answer your questions one by one. Yes, I chose to answer all three of them because they really made me think. I’ve been away all weekend (that’s why my answer comes a bit late) and besides my luggage I took these questions with me. It’s not that they caused me some sleepless nights, however, they made me think. Why? Because I came to see how hard it actually was to answer these questions quick like a shot. I was born in Germany and am living here all my life and should know a lot about the country and the people. I mean, that’s what we think we do, isn’t it? We think we know so much because we seldom confront ourselves with what we don’t know.
Another thing is that we become so, not ignorant (that sounds too negative) but too accustomed to the things around us that we hardly recognize changes – big or small. We observe so much that we hardly see a thing, if you know what I mean. So, you had me thinking regularly this weekend and I hope my answers will turn out satisfactory.

If you could recommend to a tourist one place, big or small, in all of Germany to visit what would it be?
Well, this one was easy. The answer is Munich. This city is just awesome. I’ve been there three times and it never got boring. Munich has so much to offer, from the Deutsches Museum to the Olympia Park (containing the former stadium of Bayern München). There’s so much to see that you simply have to go back (i.e. if you don’t stay for weeks).
Also, the surrounding landscape (the Alps etc.) must be quite a view. Unfortunately, I haven’t been there yet so I guess I have to go there.
And tradition is quite important in Munich (and the whole of Bavaria I think). You have the Hofbräuhaus with live music played by guys in traditional lederhosen (leather pants). It’s not the kind of music I like, however, we don’t have anything similar to that where I live. Actually, tradition is fading away in my hometown. But that’s another story. So, if you ever get the chance visit Munich. I can definitely recommend that place.

What’s a common household object in Germany that most likely isn’t in America or other countries?
You’ve got me there. As technology advances very quickly and everything has become and still becomes more modern I guess it’s hard to name a household object that you don’t have in America. Even a fridge telling you when your yoghurt ‘s best-before date has expired wouldn’t be something we only have in Germany. I don’t know if they already went on sale but you get my point, don’t you? However, I’m not leaving you without an answer on this one. I know that especially elder people still have their manually operated meat grinders which they also use for baking cookies. E.g. my grandma still uses one for baking her Christmas cookies. These old meat grinders have different stencils producing different kinds of cookies (flat, star-shaped etc.). Old people in America might still have these meat grinders too but that was one thing that came to mind.
Another object would be manually operated coffee grinders. Old people still like to use them to grind their coffee beans. If they don’t do so, they like to use them for decorative purposes by lining them up (yes, they often have more than one) on top of kitchen cabinets.

What’s a common German expression?
This question is really difficult to answer. It’s hard to find a common expression or proverb that is originally German. Nowadays these expressions and proverbs are all translated into different languages so that you can hardly trace their origin. And even if you could the expression wouldn’t be common only in Germany anymore. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to say that an expression is commonly German as I don’t know if it’s known everywhere in Germany. However, I thought of something that I am quite sure is only known in a small part of Germany. It’s an expression we tend to use in the region where I live and that you can only understand if you’re acquainted with this region’s tradition and dialect (Plattdeutsch or Low German – both words exist in English, as far as I know). So, it’s not commonly German but uniquely Rhenish:
‘Wat is dat für ‘ne Tünnes?’ Tünnes is the Rhenish form of Antonius (Anthony). However, if you don’t know what ‘Tünnes’ stands for you cannot understand the meaning of this sentence. In German this sentence means: ‘Was ist das für ein Blödmann?’. Translated into English it means: ‘He’s a dumbass’. So, actually, ‘Tünnes’, in this sentence, simply means ‘Blödmann’ (dumbass) but you cannot understand it if you don’t understand our dialect.

So, that’s it for now. I hope you’re content with my answers and you’ll think about my suggestions about the exchange. I’d be happy about a comment/feedback 🙂
Last but not least, here’s my question that’s hopefully going to make you think:

If hope dies last, what  do you think happens when hope is dead?

I’ve asked myself this question quite a few times without finding a categorial answer. However, I’m curious about your thoughts/answer.


Five of the Week #15

Some people say that men are born evil. I don’t want to discuss this here but still I think that there’s some truth to it. Most people turn out to be good, others don’t. However, even the good people are left with some evil in the backs of their minds. Most people might not be aware of it as it is no voice screaming at them to go slaughter their neighbors. No, I think it’s something more subtle. Something we might not recognize immediately because we never knew it was there until it surfaces. And then it startles us, maybe even scares us because we don’t recognize ourselves, don’t recognize our actual way of thinking, and we regret what we thought.
So, here are some thoughts we would never admit we have or had. If you read them I dare you to be honest to yourself and tick a mental box for each evil thought you had (at least once).

1. Shut the f**k up!
Imagine yourself being totally tired or just really pissed off. We all have these days where we get up on the wrong side of bed. Everyone you meet tells you some (in this moment) uninteresting things which annoys you even more. At the end of the day your glad the day is over and then comes someone you really hold dear, telling you something more or less interesting/important. However glad you might be to be at home, the place where you hoped to be able to relax, these words are the straw to break the camel’s back and you just think “Shut the f**k up. I heard enough of that gibberish at work.” Some time after that you’ll be startled you ever thought something like this in the same or in similar situations.

2. You deserve this!
You’re standing in the kitchen, looking out the window and your neighbor is mowing his front lawn. His new car, which he is washing every day (or so it seems) is standing in front of his house. Of course he has showed it to you an annoying hundred times and told you that when he overtakes you, you’ll feel like your cars not even moving. Suddenly, there comes a car down the road, too fast of course, hits your neighbor’s new car and drives off. Your neighbor’s shouting at the escaping driver and you think: “You deserve this, you stupid show off.”

3. Beat it!
Do you have kids? Well, I don’t but I imagine they can be pretty annoying sometimes. OK, I do some private tutoring, so I know they can. However, as parents you have to be with your kids 24/7. When they get older that might change but for it’s different for a long time. And kids can be very insistent when they want something. I know that from personal observations and it even annoyed me although it’s interesting to watch. Now your kid asks you something for the hundreth time and I can imagine a lot of parents saying “no” and thinking “Why don’t you just beat it?”

4. Get a Job!
When you live in a city there’ll be homeless people around. Homeless people, we all know that, beg to get some money. As long as they don’t get pushy that’s no problem. However, if your walking about the city and the third or forth street persons asks you for a dollar, it might become annoying. Especially if it happens on three or four consecutive days. It’s nothing personal against these people as they are just trying to get through the day somehow, but  how often have thought: “Get a job!”

5. Do us/me a favor and die!
We all have these neighbors. They’re old, bored and resentful. And whenever they feel slightly bothered by someone they call the police or threaten you with their lawyer. I know that a lot of direct neighbors do suffer from someone like this. Sometimes they feel like this man’s watching their every step, phone in one hand, camera in the other, 911 already dialled so that he only has to press ‘call’. Some day it happens that they take it too far, threatening their neighbors with police and lawyers, telling them how awful they are and what a bunch of spoiled brats they are raising. Do you know a situation like this? Well, some people might think:”For peace’s sake, do us a favor and die!”


Five of the Week #14

It took me a long time to find something I could write about. All kinds of ideas were flying around in my mind but somehow I wasn’t able to grab one. Finally, I made it. So, here I am, writing again.

People like complaining. I’ve seen my share of people doing so with good reason or just for the sake of complaining. Well, I guess you can meet people like these anywhere at any time. They’re everywhere. In the supermarket, in the bus or just sitting in the same café as you. Sometimes they’re even in your own family. Actually, we all have something to grumble about, don’t we? I don’t necessarily mean the obvious things like the gas price or almost everything becoming more expensive. No, it’s the small things to beef about. It’s got to do with our being too hard to satisfy. It’s the things that bother us with time. However, when these things are gone we start complaining about their being gone. I guess it’s better to begin now before I start to confuse anyone with my explanation.

1. Sunshine/Hot weather
It’s summer and the sun is shining. The temperature outside is around 30 – 35° C (approx. 86 – 95° F) and the sky is all blue. Let’s say we have this weather three days in a row. People will start complaining about the weather being too hot. You can only do things (shopping etc. ) in the morning or in the evening. However, because everyone thinks this way, the shops are crowded with people and shopping will take longer than usual. During the day everyone seems to be at the nearby lake, swimming in the cool water or having a barbecue, thus, the lake’s crowded, too. Last but not least, when you’re not on a day trip to the lake, you’re relaxing in the back yard until your neighbor starts to have a barbecue. As “the idiot from next door” is “too stupid to barbecue correctly” all the smoke will be in your garden. And because your neighbor “doesn’t know when to take the meat from the barbecue grill” your garden will smell of anything but summer.
It’s then that people start longing for some cool rain to make the heat go away “and the idiot neighbor stay inside”.

2. Rain
Now the desired rain sets in, the temperature drops and it rains for two days or a bit more. The sky is gray and opening the shutters in the morning becomes more and more of a torture. Well, what happens now? People will start to complain again because there is too much rain. It’s too wet to go to the lake and too cold to sit in the garden. And anyway, “why do the idiots next door have to rediscover their libido?”
Why did these people wish for rain in the first place? Why not be as content with three days of rain as with three days of sunshine? It’s strange, isn’t it?

3. Music
Music at a party is as safe as the Bank of England. People like to sing along or just dance. However, here too, we have the party poopers who don’t like the music. Tastes differ and that’s good. But do some people, therefore, have to start to beef about everything they don’t like? Either “the music is too loud” or it “simply sucks”. For once, I’d like to see these people at a party with no music. I’d bet my behind they’d start to bitch about there being no music. But once the music starts…I think you know the rest 😉

4. Nothing on the TV
How often have you heard someone saying “there’s never anything good on the TV”? Quite often, right? There is never anything on the TV when one has time to watch it. That’s why people start complaining. However, if there’s anything they might like to watch and you tell them “Hey, today’s this and that on the TV” they say something like “I don’t feel like watching TV today”, “Let’s do something else” or “I think we’re (I am) watching too much TV lately.” The last sentence is really important/annoying because how can one watch too much TV when there is, supposedly, never anything good on TV?

5. Children Living Next Door
“Can’t that effing brat shut up for once? I’m trying to read the newspaper, goddammit!” When you have children living next door you might have heard that sentence from your husband/wife/boyfriend etc. In their opinion children are always crying, screaming, jumping…in short, children are loud (which holds true to some extent). The people who tend to complain about the neighbor’s children’s behavior are often those who were the same when they were little. They’re always talking like “if he doesn’t learn to play the guitar until tomorrow, I’ll call the cops”. But once the neighbors kids have grown up and/or moved out everything’s become quiet. There are no sounds of a badly tuned guitar to be heard, no little wanna-be pop star screeching songs into the hair dryer. Silence settles down. A silence that makes the once complaining husband feel uncomfortable although he’d never admit it.

Five of the Week #13

The big bad post – number 13. Where I live people don’t like the number 13 and I grew up with that superstition lingering in the back of my mind. However, it turned out that this number didn’t and doesn’t affect my life in any way. What I observed is that the “fear” of the number 13 is more rooted in the elder people than in the young ones. That might have to do with the loss of beliefs or traditions but it’s also got to do with everyone being superstitious in their own way. They tend to be superstitious about things they can understand, things that affect their lives more than a number.
Honestly, that’s the way I think about the 13, too. I don’t see how a Friday the 13th should be any worse than a Monday the 8th. If I walked under a ladder and a can of paint dropped on my head on either day, I’d still blame it on bad luck and not on the respective date. However, I am superstitious. Before each soccer match I put on my left shoe first and I always wear the shirt with the number 6 on it, though the number doesn’t bear any special meaning. And I even got injured (left shoe first & wearing number 6)  but still I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would never put on my right shoe first and wear the shirt with the number 8, 10 or whatever. It just wouldn’t feel right and if anything bad occured I’d blame it on my messing up my ritual.
Anyways, this post revolves around five random facts about the number 13 – either making it more evil or less evil, it’s up to you. Some may sound like conspiracy theories but I am just presenting some ideas here.

1. Infernal Bells
The Song ‘Hells Bells’ by AC/DC begins with the tolling of a bell four times. In total, the bell tolls 13 times. It is about the narrator dragging his victim into hell. If you like rock music and AC/DC, you probably like this song. If not, just listen to it. It’s a great song (as are all of AC/DC older songs) and it’s not evil. 😉

2. 13 Letters
My name consists of 12 letters (you have to believe me here) so I am off the hook…for now. However, the names of serial killers like Charles Manson, Theodore Bundy, Jack the Ripper or Jeffrey Dahmer consist of 13 letters. I’m not saying that people with 13 letters-long names are necessarily evil but still it might be something to think about. At night. When you’re alone. And there’s a storm raging outside and…I’m sorry :-). Pretty scary though, isn’t it?

3. A Transition
Turning 13 means the beginning of adolescence. The time when parents start to become difficult ;-). When you listen to music you don’t even like just to annoy others. When girls get interesting as more than just friends. It’s the time when life begins to change a great deal and this change lasts for a couple of years. I’d say it’s the most significant change in life (or at least one of them).

4. A Delicious 13
The most famous cookie here in Germany has 52 “teeth” (that’s what we call these little things at the sides of our cookies). This would be 4 x 13 teeth if the cookie was a square instead of a rectangle. However, the cookies have 2 x 14 + 2 x 12 teeth. Was this done on purpose? Would the cookie considered to be evil if it was a square with 4 x 13 teeth? 😉

5. Enjoy Your Meal
Judas, the traitor, is said to have been the 13th person to arrive at the Last Supper (although the Bible did not number the people present). However, some American presidents did not attend, or tried to avoid, dinner parties where 13 guests were already present. In France, a 14th guest could be hired for any dinner consisting of 13 people. Yes, the hired people were something like professional guests. So, although the Bible does not link Judas to the number 13, it had a big influence over two millenia and I think it still has.