Germany

An intern at Volkswagen actually behind the emissions scandal

Wolfsburg, Germany- In the midst of finger-pointing exchanges, it seems that the truth about who is actually behind the emissions scandal at Volkswagen is finally coming to surface. After the chief executive Winterkorn resigned “in the interest of the company” and denied any wrongdoing and not knowing anything about the “diesel dupe,” it seems that he may have been telling the truth.

Markus Schneider, 22, was hired on as an intern at Volkswagen as part of the HR team. His tasks primarily entailed bringing coffee to his boss, making copies and answering phones in a true polite manner.

But Markus wanted more; he wanted to leave his mark at Volkswagen. On his own, he came up with the “Diesel Dupe”, a device that was put in diesel engines and could detect when they were being tested, changing the performance accordingly to improve results.

“The CEO’s didn’t know about it, of course not,” Markus told us in a confidential interview. “I acted on my own. I went to the designers and manufacturers and told them that this new device is mandatory in every vehicle. As an intern, they all knew the power I had and didn’t question my orders. Within weeks, they started installing the diesel dupe. I was very proud of myself.”

The recent scandal, however, upsets Markus very much. “I was hoping to get a promotion, you know. It is a brilliant scamming technique and I fooled everyone at Volkswagen. Now, everyone is resigning and I am out of job. It definitely didn’t turn out how I wanted it to.”

Inspired by The Onion

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Merkel resigns: “I don’t get paid enough to deal with this sh*t”

Berlin, Germany- People across Europe have woken up to some shocking news on the morning of August 22, 2015. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany and the unofficial leader of the European Union, decided to resign from her position.

Looking tired and weary-eyed, dressed in her usual frumpy power suit, she held an emergency press conference in the Press and Information Office of the Federal Government in Berlin. “I stand here before you to tell you that today I officially resign as a Chancellor of Germany. Recent years have brought on so much baloney, I think I just don’t want to deal with it anymore […] and honestly, I just don’t get paid enough to deal with this s*it.”

When asked what are some main reasons for her sudden resignation, she laughed loudly and stated: “Where should I even begin?”

In her three hours long explanation speech, she stated that “it all started with Americans spreading the financial crisis upon everyone, and while Germans are good with savings and planning, other nations aren’t and they just pissed away the money and then came to me to bail them out […] So everyone is unemployed, and now we have millions of so-called “refugees” who are fleeing to Europe and expect me to take care of them. We don’t have enough money for everyone, don’t you get this? WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY!”

She also expressed that her party, Christian Democratic Union of Germany, is putting her under severe pressure. “My party is ready to get rid of me because they think I am babying everyone; and they are absolutely against all the Muslim refugees. In addition, my reputations among German people has been tarnished; I have German citizens demanding not to spend our hard earned money anymore and asking me where on Earth are we going to place all those refugees?”

Terrorist acts across Europe also horrify Mrs. Merkel. “The spread of terrorism across Europe has just been awful. I keep asking Hollande (President of France), to be more active and take more severe precautions but he just laughs and says we got it under control. I would’ve taken more aggressive measures, but you know, with German history and all, my hands are kind of tied.”

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Inspired by The Onion

Is life without bread worth living?

I have been trying to eat no carbs (well, let’s be honest- LESS carbs) and I truly am struggling.

In the mornings I find myself confused, puzzled and almost sad because I used to always start my day with bread. Grilled cheese sandwich, PBJ sandwich, omlette with toasted bread, toasted bread with butter and honey, garlic bread with cream cheese, baked ham and cheese rollups…. I mean the list goes on, people!

Now, I stare at the fridge and I can not possibly think of things to eat in the morning without bread! I consulted a few recipe websites, and boy oh boy, no bread breakfast requires cooking. I hate cooking! And I hate cauliflower! I do not want to eat cauliflower hash! And who in their right mind eats vegetable miso soup with chickpeas for breakfast? Have people lost their minds?

The suffering continues through lunch. Like my Grandma, I always dip my bread in soup and wipe the plate with it. Now I can’t do that anymore. And how can I turn down endless bread sticks at Olive Garden? Am I supposed to wait for other food to come out and not indulge myself in warm bread sticks? How?

As the night falls, my bread-less life proves to be a challenge. Pass on the sausage bread, Leah! Forget about the pita bread pizza, Leah! Don’t touch the pretzels, Leah! Agh, end the misery!

I love the simplicity of bread, its practicality and its deliciousness. And as I (try) to live my life without it, I ponder…. Is life without bread worth living?

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Quality chocolate for .50 cents

Alright, alright. You can’t get it in the American stores. For many reasons, chocolate in U.S. is not only expensive but the presence of cacao is terrifically low and sugar content abysmally high. But that’s how we like it I guess.

I liked it that way too until I discovered a German store called Lidl (Lidl is pretty much a copycat of Aldi or kind of like Dollar General with better quality products). There are many things in my life that bring me joy and finding great chocolate for the price of a hamburger at McDonald’s on Wednesday’s is one of them.

Lidl is/was a shabby-looking store with a strong warehouse feel. Nothing fancy or classy about it- but Germans love it. Almost instantly as I walked in, a 100 g (3.5- Ounce) of chocolate caught my eyes. Wrapped in an appealing, yet simple wrap tempted me from the shelves. Milk Chocolate for 50 cents. (Mind you, this was like two years ago so the price really hasn’t gone up at the time of writing.) This chocolate wasn’t expired or poisonous. It didn’t give you painful diarrhea. It wasn’t like godawful Hershey’s with their butter substitutes and whatnot. This was genuinely good chocolate. Because it was so cheap, I had to hoard it. I couldn’t pass on such a deal! I bought different kinds: the alpine milk one, the one with nuts, raisins, the white chocolate kind. I thought I died and went to heaven.

Needless to say, all that chocolate was gone before I could bring back any to the States (so I had to go back to the store and buy more). I miss that chocolate. I genuinely miss it. It crosses my mind specially as I wander down our Publix section or when I shop on Amazon. Good chocolate for little money does exist. It exist in the world of the good ole Germany. Now, who in Germany is reading this and is willing to ship some over to me? 😀

P.S: Thanks for reading my post! Leave a comment on what product you miss! 😀

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Link to my book on Amazon (since I haven’t posted one in like half a year 😉

Snow perfect

“I looked out the window and for the first time in my life I saw snowflakes falling from the sky. I wrapped myself in a blanket and jumped to the window. Everywhere I looked, there was a white layer covering the Earth; ground disappeared, snow covered tree branches with a white coat. Cars were covered in a thick layer of white puffiness. For minutes I stared at the snowflakes and watched them twirl in the wind. Then, I put a coat over pajamas, changed slippers for boots and ran outside. Soft, wet snowflakes landed on my face, melting at the touch of my skin. It felt like rain, only softer. I looked straight in the sky; the air was foggy while dancing snowflakes approached the ground.”Jenna Gunner

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Fall of the Wall

Berlin celebrated twenty-five years since the Wall came down. The media reported with an abundance of pictures of the before and after, and Merkel made a glamorous speech on how dreams do come true.

Where were you when the Wall came down? Do you remember it? Was it a memorable event for you?

I wasn’t phased by it as much as some of my German friends but I am fascinated by the stories. This idea of putting a wall up to separate people… is crazy. I asked Jutta, now an older lady who lived in the West, how come the people didn’t mind the wall? I can’t imagine passing a wall by every day and not think of people on the other side. Not being bothered by this limitation of the world. “You get used to it. They had heavy guards and even if you wanted to wonder about the other side, you were best off not to.”

I can imagine a life in that time, and I hope a wall like this will never again be erected…and if it is, we know that it will come down because human spirit will not accept it.

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The egg of social divison

For those of us who grew up in the States, a Kinder egg, a delicious white and milk chocolate egg, is not a common childhood memory. As a matter of fact, they are forbidden as they contain a little toy which, of course, American children could choke on but European children somehow do not.

Anyway, I had the honor of having my first Kinder egg in Frankfurt, Germany. I was visiting my friend from Bosnia who is now first generation German. Mira opened her palm, and handed me a Kinder egg. “Here, try something very European.” “What’s this?” I asked her. “This was my favorite thing growing up, it’s really good.” I gently unwrapped the plastic around it and indeed, inside it was a chocolate egg. I bit into it and felt something against my teeth. There was a little plastic box that I opened as I chewed on the rest of the chocolate. In it was a toy I had to assemble… it turned out to be a dinosaur.
“Intriguing,” I commented. “Yeah, all the kids here know them. I used to only get them when I was really good, or for holidays- but some kids got them all the time.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “Surely they can’t be that expensive.” “Well, I don’t remember how much they were back in the day, but now they cost around 65 cents.” In dollars, I guess that would be roughly 80 cents. More than a hamburger at McDonald’s. “Some kids got them every day. I was always so jealous. It made me realize some parents have more money to spend than others.”

Intrigued as I was by this piece of information, I went home and did some Math. If a child got it 5x a week, that would total to 3.25 euros a week. 13 euros a month. 156 euros a year. That’s roughly 200 dollars on a little piece of chocolate. I could understand how parents that do not make a lot of money couldn’t buy it. With 200 dollars you can buy clothing or shoes or other types of food for your child. And if the kid didn’t get it everyday, it at least became something special….because I am sure the kids who had it every day thought nothing of it.

Did any of you experience this Kinder egg “social division”?

Like, share, comment, tell me your thoughts! I love reading your responses!

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Nazis on the dark side of the Moon

Sometimes, well, actually quite often these days, I really don’t know if I am able to be write about something people will like… or care to read. The movies made these days…. the books written…I personally find them to be dull; the writing is so uninspiring. Let me give you an example: yesterday night David made me watch a movie called “Iron Sky”, a movie talking about how “the Nazis set up a secret base on the dark side of the moon in 1945 where they hide out and plan to return to power in 2018.”

Needless to say, I fell asleep in the middle, but I have to say I was quite envy at whoever made the movie. It got a bunch of funding from the European agencies and somebody actually thought that the script was so good it should be turned into a movie. Not only that, they actually convinced others that a plot with Nazis living on the dark side of the Moon is a sci-fi comedy/action that will attract audiences. They got money to shoot it too! Either I have no sense of humor anymore, or they are better at selling their plot… just as a writer, I find it mind-boggling. But I guess it’s the crowds that decide in the end….

Did any of you watch the movie? Or read a book that you couldn’t believe anyone in their right mind would publish?

P.S: Thank you for reading my blog. Shout out to my followers!! :))

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Goddess a few times a week

I am not a goddess in most aspects of my life, but I sure as hell am when I go shopping. As a consumer in America, I get treated like a goddess. Those who have never been outside the States, don’t know what kind of hell awaits beyond the borders.
In Europe, for example, there’s no such thing as returning stuff without a receipt. There is no such thing as returning stuff and get money back. They normally give you in-store credit and that’s it. There’s no speaking to the manager to complain…the manager doesn’t give a sh*t.

Before you say that isn’t true, I will admit Europe has improved their customer service a lot in recent years. Specially Germany. They have really changed their communication with the customers. But Italy…just try returning something in Italy. Or Spain. Try complaining at a restaurant that you don’t like the food. They will kick you out of the restaurant for the audacity to say anything back to them.

Once my Mother bought something at a fancy Italian clothing store for me. Unfortunately, I was too fat to fit in their biggest size. When we tried to return it, they said (after good half hour of arguing with the ladies that work at the register-guess what, no customer service section there), that we can get in-store credit. I said: “But I am too fat for all your clothing, nothing fits me.” Did they care? No. Did they try to appease me? No.

I guess what I am trying to say is…next time you have to complain to the manager because you don’t like a product…or you want to return it…or perhaps you don’t like the way you were treated…be happy you have the option of doing that. Somewhere else they would tell you “too bad” or wouldn’t even talk to you.

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What Germans really love the most

It’s not beer. It’s not wurst with sauerkraut either. Nope, it’s not fancy cars or wearing lederhosen on a Sunday.

I think anyone who’s ever been on a road in Germany will agree that Germans, above all, love STAU. What is Stau, you ask? Stay is a German word for traffic jam. Traffic congestion, if you will. But this is not the rush hour kind. No, this Stau is a result of Germans unanimously going on holidays. Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, they are always on holidays (apparently the minimum is 3 weeks. Minimum!)

I’ve had my share of traffic jams in Orlando and Atlanta, but the Stau in Germany deserves a separate mentioning. They wait in lines for kilometers upon kilometers, not seeming to care. Some read a book while waiting, some walk around and get a smoke (can you ever see that happen in the U.S.?), and some take their kids for a number one in the nearby grass. Some stretch, do a little yoga right on the side of the road or listen to the music like they are already on the beach, relaxing.

It’s simply incredible… and they must love it. Because I have never seen as much Stau as I did in Germany. I have never seen people more relaxed and willing to wait in 20 kilometer lines in their Audis and family vans just to go vacation in Croatia, or Italy. I think they don’t even like vacation, they do it for the traffic jam and the amazing stories they can tell about the Stau they were in.

Did anybody else have the same experience? Like, share and comment, please. Let me hear your thoughts! 🙂 Thanks for reading my blog!
P.S: My book, which talks about an American doing a study abroad in France, is available on Amazon. Check it out! 🙂 🙂 It costs less than a Starbucks coffee and you can enjoy it longer!

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