Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to be German



I haven't been living in Germany for about 3 years now and here I thought that living abroad has made sooo different from all the Germans. This morning I stumbled upon this article: http://venturevillage.eu/how-to-be-german-part-1 and was in shock: I am as German as potato salad!
 I LOVE my house shoes (for me, I love to get the bunnies and tigers because they feel so fluffy and look cute), breakfast is the most important meal (if I can have a real German one - with M├╝sli and Vollkornbr├Âtchen ;-) ), I don't like fizzy drinks but I LOVE Apfelschorle. It seems there is only one Germanism I could conquer: I do not obey the little red man. As a matter of fact, I never have. Needless to say that this has gotten me a lot of nasty looks from older ladies, angry comments from parents and even at 3 AM with no cars for miles on the road, a police man felt the need to come over and tell me that what I was doing was not right.
Two days ago somebody asked me if I considered myself German, after reading this I can say that the answer is without the shadow of a doubt: yes!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Oh Ford

After three months in Cincinnati, I have packed my backpack again, put on my traveling boots and now I am finally back on the road. First stop: Detroit, aka Motor City.
Naturally, I spent an entire day at the Ford Museum. And while the history behind the car company is really interesting and it was cool to see the assembly lines in the Rouge Factory, it was the way the brand name "Ford" was presented at the Rouge to the visitors that impressed me the most.

Ford Rouge Factory

It started on the bus on our way to the factory. We were shown a short but dramatic video about the Rouge Factory. And while we were already in the mood, the first thing we got to see at the factory was a documentary about Henry Ford and his success story. Before we actually watched the documentary, an elder gentleman (honestly, he looked like he had met Henry Ford in person) spoke a few - dramatic - opening words. Just to make sure we would all be aware of the greatness of the movie we were about to see. The movie was only 15 minutes long but it had all the tricks of persuasion that you can imagine: moving words, touching music and, of course, drama. Apparently, this wasn't enough so we were shoved into the next movie theater where we watched the making of a Ford pick-up truck on seven screens with live effects (steam, water splashing, vibrations). And somehow the very dry, sterile process of  car construction became really dramatic. Why do I keep stressing this word? Because even though I know that Americans love the pomp and the drama (at least, that's how I call it from my rather rational and serious German perspective), it never became so clear to me as it did watching the skilfully made propaganda at the Ford Museum. Believe me, if Americans want to sell you something or convince you of something, they sure know how! Long live the spin doctors! If even I had tears in my eyes and for a split second believed that American cars are better than German cars - I can see how an entire nation started believing that there is no real breakfast without bacon and eggs, I can see how so many people in the world know the slogan "yes we can", and I can definitely see how a great part of the world could be convinced to believe in weapons of mass destruction. I am not sure if this is something we should admire or something we should be scared of ...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Of Frogs and Men

If you have a repugnance to short-bodied, tailless amphibians, stop reading now because this is not going to be pretty! Also, if your favorite fairy tale is the "Frog Prince", reading on might cause a traumatic experience that I don't want to be hold responsible for. So move away from this while you can! For all the rest of you, especially the ones who like a slimy story: You are going to love this! It's the classic theme of survival of the fittest, it's the classic story of frogs and men.



It all started one sunny day in May. After two weeks in the States and two weeks of suffering through winterly temperatures, every sign of spring, sun and warmer climate was welcome. So when I looked at the army of tadpoles in the pool, I saw sunny days and warm summer nights spent outside to the soft croaking of frogs. What I failed to see in this romantic midsummer night's dream was the green horror that was about to unveil its warty face to us. To be fair, Sam warned me. He had been through this before and he knew what was awaiting us. But kill all the tadpoles? That seemed far too cruel! So the tadpoles stayed. Until one lovely night, about one month later, there it was: the first croak. Needless to say that Sam went ballistic and set out to get the frog but it was just so beautiful. The pleasant breeze, the candles, the one croaking frog. So the frog stayed. So did the next four. And then the next three. I have never had frogs before in my backyard so I still found it charming to listen to the frogs' "conversation" and trying to imagine the exciting things that must go on in a frog's life. Until one night when we were trying to watch a movie outside and the incredible volume of the frog pool party became unbearable. This was it! Sam had had enough and was not willing to listen to any of my fromantic arguments any more, he was going to get these frogs out of our pool! Armed with a pool skimmer, Supersam went on a mission. He threw over 10 frogs over the fence - with little to no effect. The croaking seemed even louder than before (maybe the frogs he threw over the fence were desperately trying to get the attention of their pool buddies...). From this point on, every night outside became an ordeal. We couldn't talk, nor just sit their quietly because quiet just doesn't exist any more with roughly 50 frogs in your pool. 50 and counting, as these little slimy amphibians shamelessly multiplied right in front of our eyes. I had learned my lessen, now we had to do something about IT. So here we were again, Supersam and me, fishing for frogs. While Sam caught them, I was supposed to hold the plastic frog prison bag. However, have you ever hold a bag with one or two living frogs inside? They move. And struggle. And jump. And squirm. And croak. I just couldn't take it. I threw the bag as far away as I could and as IT started hopping towards the pool, I grabbed a fin (don't even ask where it came from!) and threw it on top of the bag to stop the frogs from escaping. Now, if you are the biggest animal lover in the world, I have probably committed a horrible crime. But if you are just a city girl like me, not used to nature and wildlife, I think I acted perfectly reasonable. And as it turned out, I didn't kill any of the frogs. But we had to abandon our mission. For the night. But we were determined to finish what we had started. It was either us or the frogs!
Yesterday was the night. This time, I was fishing for the croaking creatures while Sam stuffed them in a big juice bottle (please note that we recycle very creatively!). With this technique we were actually able to catch about 13 frogs! The silence around the pool was stunning. The noise inside the juice bottle on the other hand rather disturbing. So we decided to take them as far away from the pool as possible. After driving for 30 minutes (feeling like a criminal trying to get rid of compromising evidence), we found the perfect spot. Next to somebody's house that looked like it could have a pool or a pond. Okay, I admit, we were just tired of driving around with 13 frogs frogs in a juice bottle and just chose the next best spot. I am not sure if the owners woke up to the sound of desperately croaking frogs or if the frogs started their odyssey back to our pool (What do frogs do anyway? Do they stick together as a team? Is it every frog for himself?) but honestly, I don't care. For now at least the backyard at night is exactly how it's supposed to be: moonlit, pleasant and frogless!