Sandwich
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Pffffttt, feminism. Back in the golden era of the 1950s, women went to university to get their M.R.S. degrees, leaving them fully qualified to make intelligent (but not too political) conversation at dinner parties and plunking them into a rich “learning” environment full of eligible men that they could spend the rest of their lives serving. These days, women care more about their own hopes and dreams than those of the men in their lives. Imagine! It’s one thing to have your own career, but it should play second fiddle to your husband’s work ambitions. Ladies, your born and bred task is to take care of your husband and pad his ego. You can have your own hopes and dreams, but those better not overshadow those of your man. Back in the good old days, women rose to the challenge of the tasks that they were born and bred to do – tasks that have fallen out of favour in our feminist society.

Cooking

Thanks to feminism, women think that cooking is something they don’t have to do anymore. Back in the day, women used to consult all kinds of cookbooks to make creative concoctions out of spam and Jell-O to serve at fancy dinner parties, but not anymore! Women these days don’t have to learn how to cook in school, so most never even learn how. Now, some people might say that cooking is a life skill and that both men and women should learn how to do it, but let’s be real here; the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so you’d better get in that kitchen right now!

Cleaning

Now, husbands and boyfriends should be perfectly capable of picking their own socks off of the floor, but the rest of the housework is your responsibility. If you can’t polish your mantle until a white glove comes out clean, you aren’t doing it right! A man’s home is his castle, so you should scrub and rinse until that castle is squeaky clean. Men do not know how to use mops and they’re usually far too tired after their long hours at their important jobs, so you’d best tackle that kind of work yourself. If you are also tired after your day at your full time job, just remember that you are woman and you are born and bred to balance housekeeping duties with everything else in your life. If you can’t manage that on your own, clearly no one made you do chores when you were growing up.

Playing Waitress

Men love it when women feed them, so don’t even think about asking your husband to get his own dinner. It is rude and disrespectful to do so in front of other people, because it clearly undermines his role as the head of the household. Sure, he can get up and go get his own food, but let’s be real – that’s asking a lot. If you really love him, you will put food on his plate and serve it to him as if he were 8 years old again. If you really love him, you’ll arrange it in a smiley face.

Talking Like a Lady

Women folk these days swear like sailors. Everyone knows that real ladies don’t curse, but 21st century girls have forgotten that somehow. When in doubt, keep your mouth shut. If you stub your toe really hard, accidentally burn that roast you were preparing for your husband, or lock your keys in the car, just grind your teeth. Eventually, they’ll crack, but at least you’ll be a lady!

Flattering His Ego

Menfolk are sensitive, delicate souls. They’ll never admit it, but they need constant flattery just to get by in life. Make no mistake, ladies. Unless you butter up his ego, he’ll never get that promotion, and it will all be YOUR FAULT. He needs to tell you how great he is all the time. If you’re thinking that this is a two-way street, think again. You’re a woman ad tough as nails, so if he ignores that extra effort you spent dressing up for your date or making him his favourite dinner, that’s just part of being a woman. Deal with it.

Looking good all the time

Remember those days when women used to dress to the nines just to see and be seen at the local grocery store? What happened to those days? Women these days are so lazy, they think that yoga pants are outside clothing. Going out for a few minutes to pick up the mail? Doesn’t matter. You should get yourself dolled up anyway. God forbid you be seen in public with your man looking anything other than perfect. You are his accessory, so look like it! Also, whatever you do, don’t get fat.

Dressing to the Nines

Ahhh date night. If you aren’t doing it, you really should be. Once you do, make sure you dress up. Back in the day, women always looked perfect for their men, but most of you think it’s ok to let a man see you looking like a human being. Shame on you.

Catering to His Every Need

You are a woman, and therefore, you have secret psychic powers. These are dished out to women at birth, and you should have spent your lifetime honing them. If you haven’t, you’d better start now, because you can’t expect men to just tell you how they feel or what they need. You should just KNOW that. Communication isn’t manly, so it’s your job to just figure it out. After you have performed your Vulcan mind meld and figured out what your man wants and needs in his life, you should do everything in your power to fulfill those needs. So go get him a cold one and make him a sandwich.

Obviously, this is a parody. This blog post popped up on my Facebook news feed (for the record, it was there because a friend was slamming it) and I just couldn’t resist. I know it’s not an article in a serious publication, but it still bothers me that people write and spread this kind of stuff.

I think cooking and cleaning are important life skills – for everyone. Men and women alike need to learn how to keep a clean house and feed themselves and their families. Both men and women can support their partners, flatter them, and make them feel loved. Both men and women can occasionally put in some extra effort to dress up, cook up a special meal, and do something special together. The best part about living in a world with equal footing (hypothetically – we’re not quite there yet) is that we don’t have to let our genders define our relationship. We can just be together as equals.

For the record, I have nothing against making my boyfriend the occasional sandwich, but I also love it when he makes me sandwiches. Our relationship is a wonderful world where everyone always has delicious, homemade sandwiches.

About these ads

Earlier in the week, Taylor Swift pulled her catalog from Spotify, stating that she doesn’t feel that the streaming service compensates artists fairly. Naturally, this caused an instant backlash, because it is totally reasonable to expect artists to offer their work everywhere on the Internet for free. Forget the fact that you can still listen to her music for free on YouTube and all sorts of places. She pulled her music from one of the biggest services on the Internet, and a lot of people are not ok with that for some reason.

I’m not going to tackle the issue of streaming rates and artist compensation at the moment, because that’s a whole other rant and as something I care about very deeply, I want to give it the full focus it deserves. There’s another issue that grabs my attention here, which is that a lot of people feel wholly entitled to Taylor Swift’s music. The logic seems to be that, as her fans, Taylor owes them access to her music on Spotify. After all, it’s the fans that got her to where she is, right? Wrong.

Taylor Swift and other musicians, artists, actors, and writers do not owe you anything. They create entertainment and whether or not you buy it is totally up to you. Yes, Taylor Swift got to where she is because people like and buy her music, but she owes her success as much to her ability to put out music that people enjoy and to a lot of killer marketing as she does the fans. If she wasn’t making catchy songs and getting them out there in the first place, there would be nothing to buy. It’s no different than any other product. Apple is successful because it has a lot of customers, but few people say that Apple “owes” them a cheaper iPad because they like the iPad. They buy the iPad because it has features they like and credit Apple’s success to its ability to keep turning out those features. If iPad stopped doing business with a particular retailer, I doubt many people would be screaming that Apple owes it to them to sell its products there. But somehow with music and other creative work, people feel a lot more entitlement.

Maybe it’s because artistic work feels more personal. A really good song can seem like it is speaking to you, and you can spend hours of your life getting lost in a novel. But just because artistic work has the power to rouse your emotions does not mean that you are entitled to it. Commercial artistic work is a product and it is not different from other commercial products. If you like it, want it, and can afford it, you buy it; if you don’t, you don’t. It’s pretty simple when it comes down to it. No one “owes” you that enjoyment.


Nosferatu (1922) with English captions

Halloween isn’t really widely celebrated in Germany, but it has been gaining some ground over the past few years. When I first moved here, it wasn’t really a thing outside of a few expat circles, but I’ve seen more and more decorations go up in shops and restaurants, costumes for sale, and even posters for costume parties. This year, my local Lidl even had Halloween candy for sale. I’m not sure if it’s a touch of Americanization or spillovers from the international community living here, but I kind of like it. Sadly, there will be no costume parties for me this year. I have a bad cold, so I’m spending my day watching scary movies and drinking ginger and garlic tea.

Anyway, because it’s Halloween, I thought I’d post one of the most famous German movies of all time, “Nosferatu.” F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent film is pretty much “Dracula,” but the studio couldn’t get the rights to “Dracula” at the time. See, in 1922, Bram Stoker’s novel was just 25 years old, so it was still under copyright. Stoker’s widow, who managed his estate, didn’t want to give Prana Film the rights to the original book, so the company just changed the names and a few plot details such as the setting and time period. Although that might sound like a recipe for a terrible, cheap rip off, “Nosferatu” is a fantastic German expressionist classic. Watch it for the amazing cinematography, creepy costumes, and dramatic silent movie acting.

*Note: this version uses the “Dracula” character names, but the original version of the films changed them. So, Dracula should technically be Orlok, Jonathan Harker should be Thomas Hutter, Mina should be Ellen, and so on. I prefer the original, but I also wanted to post a video from a credible channel. “Nosferatu” is public domain in most countries, but is still under copyright in Germany and most of Europe. Viewster is a legal video streaming service based in Europe, so I’d assume they had permission to upload this movie.

I’ve had this rant on my mind for ages, but never committed it to writing. Every time I leave the house, I’ll see something that reminds me that, “Oh yeah, I wanted to complain about this on my blog,” but then I get home and get distracted with other things. Today, I didn’t leave the house at all, but I did remember that texting and cycling annoys me, so here we go.

Why, oh, why do people do this? It’s both dangerous and annoying. We get it drilled in our heads time and time again that we shouldn’t text and drive but somehow it’s ok on a bike? The answer to that is that it’s not ok. If you do it, you suck. Are you in such a hurry that you can’t pull over to the sidewalk to write your message? Are you that hooked to your phone that you’re willing to endanger your own life and the safety of those around you? Are you even thinking about the consequences when you do it? If the answer to any of those questions is “yes,” you need to get your priorities straight.

To start with the less serious issue here, it’s annoying as hell for other people on the road. When you text and cycle, you bike like a drunk person, only much slower. Steering with one hand, holding a phone, typing on a touch screen, and pedaling are too many tasks to do at once, so it makes you meander across the road or lane. Plus, since your attention is elsewhere, you are slow. It’s hard for anyone cycling behind you to pass you, because you take up the entire lane. Everyone else on the road has to watch out for you, because you’re not watching anyone else on the road.

But to get more serious here, texting and cycling dangerous. Cycling is something that requires your full attention; drivers aren’t always looking out for you, so you’d better be looking out for them. If you’re texting, you can’t do that. You could get hit, and it would totally be your fault. On top of that, you’re also putting other people at risk. Bikes aren’t as large and powerful as cars, but you can still hurt someone if they dart out onto the road in front of you. Yes, they probably shouldn’t be doing that, but what if they’re a little kid or a pet? Sometimes, people and animals end up on the road when they shouldn’t be, so you should be watching out.

So, leave you phone alone for a while and keep your eyes and full attention on the road. If you need to text someone that you’re late or spend some quality time with Google Maps, pull over and do it off of the road.

It’s that time of year again: my Facebook feed is filling up with all things fall and the blogsphere is waxing poetic about autumn. If the Internet is true to life, then fall is almost everyone’s favourite season. I don’t understand it at all.

I’ve always been a summer child. I was born in summer, after all. Each year when the spring equinox rolls around, I feel like a weight is lifted from my shoulders. The autumn equinox, on the other hand, has the opposite effect. It’s just a reminder that things will be dark and cold for the next half year, and I don’t like it at all.

Many people like fall because of the colours of the changing leaves. I do see the beauty in it, but it also feels a little bit sad to me because I know the leaves will fall soon and nature will go to sleep for a few months. Spring is also a colourful time of year, and the tulips and daffodils that peek out of the ground carry the promise of growth, greenery, and warmer weather. To me, both times of year are beautiful, but one is more of a melancholic beauty and the other is a joyful kind of beauty.

I don’t like fall clothes. In all my years on this earth, I’ve never truly mastered knitwear and layering. I feel more comfortable in light fabrics and bright colours. Give me a silk sundress over a wool coat any day. I also feel like spring and summer fashion is a lot more low-maintenance. I don’t need to spend extra minutes layering on coats, scarves, gloves, and hats every time I go out; I can just slip on a pair of ballet flats and walk out the door. I’d be happy to never look at another pair of boots again if it meant that I could always be that lazy and still stay stylish.

I get why most people are happy about the end of hot summer weather, but I don’t share that feeling. My ideal temperature is around 27 degrees, so cooler weather means less comfort. BBQs and weekends at the beach are always things I miss around this time of year. Plus, fall is really dark. Why do people want to trade bright, long days for short, dark ones?

The season isn’t a total loss. Thanksgiving and Halloween are always lots of fun, and pumpkins are in season. Still, I’ll be patiently awaiting spring.

Thanksgiving Weekend is well underway in Canada and like many Canadians abroad, I’ve appropriated the holiday in my new country. In typical Thanksgiving fashion, we hosted a small dinner for a few friends last night and went to bed with (too) full bellies. Still stuffed from the night before, we spent much of the morning and early afternoon watching YouTube videos. My boyfriend wanted to revisit shows he watched when he was growing up and ended up putting on this video.

It sort of struck me that we were watching this account of growing up in post-war Germany while we were so full from the night before that we couldn’t even eat breakfast. If Thanksgiving is a time to feel thankful, I sure did feel thankful. By today’s standards, we don’t have a lot of money, but when I thought about it, I realized how incredibly rich we are. We have a secure roof over our heads. We have enough to eat and if we put a little bit aside, we can even throw a feast every once in a while. We have relatively nice clothes in very good condition and can replace them when they break. We live in an incredibly stable place with great access to education, health care, and social support. We might feel some ups and downs, but compared to most people throughout history, we pretty much live like royalty. I also definitely feel lucky that I didn’t have to endure the aftermath of a war.

This video isn’t as lighthearted as the others that I’ve posted so far, but I didn’t set out to make “German Video of the Week” a slamfest on Schlager culture. I wanted to post the various facets of German culture. This is definitely part of the history here and it’s an interesting thing to watch. It’s in German, but if you’re learning, it’s fairly easy to understand. The program was intended for children, so the language is straightforward. If you don’t speak German, I still recommend watching it. I think you can probably follow a lot of it through the visual parts of the show.

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I’m down with the “reuse” part of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra.

When I was 23, I bought myself a fake Christmas tree. I think real trees look a lot nicer, but though there’s nothing quite like that real pine-y smell that fills the living room over the Christmas season, I opted for a fake version that I could store in the cellar during the other 11 months of the year. Partly, I made this decision because real trees are pretty expensive and for around the same price, I could get a “tree” that I could use over and over again. But, a larger part was because I thought it was a more environmental choice. I was wrong.

Making choices is a big part of living a more sustainable lifestyle. Sometimes, it can feel like an uphill battle, because it feels like you’re surrounded with things that involve pollution, exploitation, and long-haul transportation. It feels like no matter what you choose, you’re contributing to the problem. Some people get overwhelmed and turn a blind eye, whereas others struggle through it. Personally, I feel that a middle road is the best approach for me. Obviously, I can’t avoid harming the planet 100 percent of the time, but I can cut back my impact. This is a learning curve and I’m always learning about new ways to lead a greener lifestyle.

One of the biggest things I’ve done is try to reduce my consumption and the subsequent waste of that consumption. To avoid throwing things out or buying new things, I often use reusable products. Still, “reusable” doesn’t necessarily mean sustainable, because some products involve far more energy to produce than they’re worth. Over an entire life cycle, they still involve more resources than using disposable products over that period of time. If you’re struggling with the reusable vs. disposable issue, here’s a handy guide.

Cups, Mugs, and Glasses

It takes fewer than 40 uses for a reusable cup of any material to break even with disposable paper cups, even when you throw washing the reusable cups into the mix. Ceramic mugs take the longest to break even at 39 uses. Plastic travel mugs take only 17 uses to break even. That means that if you go to Starbucks twice a week, it only takes a couple of months to make your reusable travel mug more responsible. Reusable cups and mugs take longer to break even when you compare them to Styrofoam cups, but considering the fact that Styrofoam takes forever to break down, I think the overall impact of reusable cups is still lower, especially if you use them for years. Most coffee-to-go comes in paper cups, so get yourself a travel mug or two and hand it to the barista when you get coffee on the go.

Water Bottles

I think most people are pretty familiar with the fact that reusable water bottles are better than disposable ones, but I’ll still say it: reusable bottles are better. Plastic takes a lot of energy to produce, so throwing it out after a single use is not green. I know some people are thinking “but I recycle my water bottles” or “but I reuse my water bottles” but neither of those are great options. Recycling is usually better tha throwing things away, but it still takes energy. In comparison, washing a reusable bottle doesn’t have much of an impact. If you reuse your bottles, you shouldn’t. They are not designed to withstand several uses and break down faster than bottles designed to be reusable. This can cause bacteria to grow in the little cracks that form in the plastic.

Grocery Bags

Recently, California became the first state to ban plastic bags. A lot of people gave them a big pat on the back, but others were a bit more critical. Some reusable bags have to be used a lot to break even with single-use plastic bags. Cotton is the least sustainable reusable choice, as it requires a lot of water and energy to produce. You have to use a cotton bag 131 times before it breaks even with a plastic bag and more than that if the plastic bag is reused a couple of times or used as a garbage bin liner. Other materials only require a few uses to break even, so they’re a much better alternative to disposable plastic bags. Overall, reusable bags are still better, but you should make sure that you reuse them enough to make it worth your while and you should only use cotton bags if you plan on keeping them for a few years. Personally, I have had most of my reusable bags for years and I use them a lot, but I also seem to acquire reusable grocery bags. They just appear out of thin air and sometimes I don’t know what to do with them. It’s definitely something to think about.

Christmas Trees

A couple of years ago, I learned to my dismay that real trees are almost always more sustainable than fake ones. First of all, trees absorb carbon, so tree farms are fairly neutral in terms of carbon emissions. Because trees grow in a good chunk of the Western Hemisphere, they’re also usually growing in similar conditions to their natural habitat. That means that they don’t require all that much energy to produce in the first place. Second of all, most trees come from close to home, so they don’t travel very far to get to your house. Finally, most fake trees are made of plastic, which has a pretty high carbon footprint. It can take over 20 years to make the environmental impact of a fake tree as low as that of using real trees for the same amount of time.
If the trees in your area have to be shipped in from somewhere far away, then a fake tree can be a better bet if you use it for many years in a row; otherwise, opt for a real tree. If you do have a perfectly good fake tree and want to switch to using real ones, find it a new home instead of tossing it.

Napkins

Reusable cloth napkins may seem like a better choice than disposable ones, but the issue is actually kind of complicated. Cotton is not a “green” fabric and as many cloth napkins are made of the stuff, they can have quite the impact. Reusable napkins also tend to get dirty quite quickly, which means that you have to wash them a lot. Still, paper napkins also require a fair bit of resources to produce and transport and create a lot of waste. In restaurants, paper napkins are usually the better choice, because reusable napkins take too much wear and tear and usually end up damaged before they break even, and napkins must be washed after every single use. However, you can tip the scales in your own home to make reusable options more sustainable. Wash napkins in cold water, hang them to dry, and don’t wash them unless they’re actually dirty. You can make them even greener by choosing linen or polyester fabrics.

How Can You Make Reusables Even Greener?

As you can see above, reusable usually comes out the winner, although there are a few exceptions. Because reusable items get greener with each use, there are a few things you can do to help reduce your footprint.

Buy Second Hand

You can find most of these and other reusable products in thrift stores and garage sales. Cotton grocery bags and napkins are a lot “greener” when you stretch them out into a longer life cycle. If you really must get a fake Christmas tree because of your budget or because your apartment doesn’t allow real trees, look around for a used one. I got my first Christmas tree for free at a yard sale. I originally took it as a joke because the house I was renting had a weird window looking into the storage room (which used to be a carport) and I wanted to decorate it as a Christmas scene as a prank on my roommates, but I ended up using that tree for 3 years.

Donate

If you’re bored of a perfectly good reusable item, donate it or give it away instead of throwing it away! That way, you continue its life cycle.

Get Crafty

If you sew, use fabric remnants to make things like reusable placemats, napkins, coffee sleeves, and grocery bags. I’ve made some pretty nifty things over the years using fabric left over from clothing projects.

Upcycle

Repurpose old or broken things into other things. You can turn old tees into carrier bags, jeans into placemats and pot holders, dress shirts into napkins, and so on.

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