Man Purses (or Why Gucci and Prada Should Thank Steve Jobs)

My boyfriend wants a man purse. Let me start by clarifying that he’s a meat-eating, college football-playing, stands-up-to-pee, redblooded American male…nothing girly about him, not even metrosexual.  And he’s decided he needs a purse.  

Despite my initial giggle, his logic makes sense.  Men like gadgets but always carrying a computer bag or a briefcase is a pain.  And their pockets get pretty heavy after adding a wallet, at least one phone, and a camera. Not to mention books, umbrella, ipod, etc…  

Enter the iPad:  This is the game changer.  It may replace your Kindle, your phone, and potentially your camera. But it won’t fit in your pocket. And the smart guys out there will realize they can use an iPad bag to carry the other items normally weighting down their pockets.  Of course since it’s designed to house the latest technological innovation, it’s still manly.

So far, I’m mostly seeing iPad sleeves or mini-computer bags. But the man purses are coming…cleverly disguised as iPad bags!



The German Beer Wars

This blog is about food, travel, and fun – with a healthy dose of Germany thrown in. What better way to start off than with beer? 

Most restaurants and beer gardens here serve only one brand of beer, so the choice usually is limited “what type of beer do I want tonight?” That being said, it’s really hard to get a bad beer in Germany!

But we were curious and wanted to investigate the controversial question of Best German Beer.

Our completely non-scientific study began with many trips to my two closest grocery stores (I have to carry it home on my back, hence the “closest” and the “many trips”). After buying one of every German beer, excluding light, alcohol free, diabetic, and Beck’s Lime*, I ended up with the magical total of 64 beers. Just the right number to fit on an NCAA bracket. Though there were a few outliers, the Selection Committee decided upon 4 “regions” of Helles, Pils, Weissbier, and various Dunkel Bier.  

Let the games begin!

* While Beck’s Lime is incredibly tasty, it has an extra ingredient and does not conform to the Reinheitsgebot. Plus, it would have put us at 65 beers…)





Make yourself at home....and please sit down to pee

When studying a foreign language, culture usually is part of the curriculum.  Not only does culture make language studies interesting, but assuming the goal is to function effectively in another country, you'll want to understand all aspects of life.  Specific topics of study will differ depending on the focus of the class or the experience level of the students, but generally they are: food and drink, education, business, religion, politics, etc.

Until recently, I thought I had a fairly good grasp of German culture.  There were studies from 7th to 11th grade in high school, a semester at a German university (living with a family) and summer internship as a steel mill engineer.  After that came two years living and working in Hamburg and Berlin, and now two years in Munich.  But the Germans continue to surprise.  Ironically, at a Fourth of July picnic at a biergarten, we learned something that definitely is not taught in German class:

At home, German women make their men pee sitting down.

Honestly, I don't remember exactly the circumstances of the conversation.  At some point, a German woman was describing the experience of potty training her young boy and clearly stated that upright urination will not be taught or tolerated at home.  Logically we asked what, uh, technique her husband uses.  The answer was clear:  he sits to pee because she forbids him to stand.  Needless to say, the conversation got interesting from there.

The first response was a quest for understanding:  “Why?”.  Answer: Because relieving himself from a vertical position has a higher potential for splashing, dripping, or general messiness, and she will not allow that or clean it up.  The second response was a defense of manhood, from an American man married to a German woman:  “No red-blooded American boy of mine will pee sitting down!”  (I’m guessing that they are still discussion about this – no children yet.)

The next response came from Frau Schnitzelbahn herself, and questioned the choice of restricting freedom to prevent a problem vs. having clear consequences to address a mess when it happens:  “Why don’t you just have a household rule that if someone makes a mess, they are responsible for cleaning the entire bathroom?”  (That’s how it was in my house – you make a mess, you clean it up.)  Our German friend understood the alternative, but prefers her method.  And the men accept (acquiesce?).

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense as part of the broader culture.  Germany is a land of “kontrolling” – lots of rules, people challenging the rules, and people to enforce the rules.  It also fits with the German characteristic of preferring direct conflict (vs. America where we tend to prefer indirect conflict and subtlety).  Indeed, this will be the topics of future posts...

But is this really the case overall, or just an isolated behavior?  Time to torture the guys at work.  I can attest to the fact that they happily use urinals in the office, but they admitted that they sit to pee at home – and for the same reason, wife’s orders.  One said that his mom taught him the same thing, and he does believe that small (cannot be seen) splashes make it out of the bowl and onto the floor.  Another said that he does it as a compromise, but also thinks it makes less noise for people outside.  A third explained that since his wife cleans, he’ll do what she asks.  Culture confirmed.

It’s not the nicest topic with which to start a blog, but you don’t get lessons like this every day.  At least future topics at Schnitzelbahn have nowhere to go but… up.

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