German Town Is Offering Unemployed Alcoholics Beer as an Incentive to Clean the Streets

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A special project in the town of Essen, Germany, is designed to engage alcoholics and drug addicts in cleaning up the city’s streets, giving them a chance to pick themselves up and rejoin society. The project is called ‘Pick-Up’, and it pays the participants with a small hourly wage, along with free beer!

Although the beer is meant to be an incentive, the amount given away is small, so it won’t really cause a lot of damage. “The beer is distributed on the individual needs of the participants,” read a fact sheet from the organisation that manages the project. “Not everyone gets beer. Only the participants who aren’t able to do their work without it.”

The statement also mentioned that “Pick-UP isn’t about just cleaning the streets. The project has nothing to do with exploiting people. The idea is to allow participants, who are not forced to take part, to contribute to society in a way they otherwise wouldn’t.”

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Home-Delivered Airplane Food Is Actually a Thing in Germany

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‘Air Food One’ is a food delivery service in Germany that exclusively caters to people who happen to love airline food. I’m not sure what’s more surprising – that the service exists, or that there are actually people who like the flavorless reheated stuff that is generally passed off as food on an airplane.

Anyway, the service is being provided by a German grocery store in collaboration with the company that makes meals for Lufthansa. It includes weekly home delivery of meals that are supposed to be ‘business-class quality’. Apparently, online grocery store Allyouneed.com noticed there was a demand for airplane food from its clients, so it teamed up with airline caterers LSG to satisfy their cravings.

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Get Served by a Robot Bartender at Germany’s Robots Bar & Lounge

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Some bars use intriguing names just to attract clients, but the Robots Bar & Lounge in Ilmenau, Germany really lives up to its name. This unique venue not only has a technology-inspired decor, but also a humanoid robot bartender that mixes drinks and makes small talk with patrons.

The Robots Bar & Lounge just opened late last month, but it’s already hugely popular in the town of Ilmenau thanks to Carl, an unusual bartender who fits right in the techie atmosphere of the place. Carl is a humanoid robot built by mechatronics engineer Ben Schaefer out of parts from disused industrial robots. Schaefer says that although progress has been made in the field of robotics artificial intelligence is still in its infancy, but by placing a robot in an environment where it can observe and interact with real humans it’s much easier to test the programming and make necessary improvements than it would be in a closed laboratory. Apart from evolution, Carl’s secondary goal is to bring humans and robots closer together, and prove that “scenes from science-fiction movies are quite possible”. So far, the likable bartender is doing a great job, entertaining clients with his drink-mixing skills and the occasional small-talk. Unfortunately, his speech recognition skills and ability to interact are very limited at the moment, but like all bartenders he is a very good listener. To make sure he doesn’t bump into things and spill the drinks on his clients, Scahefer equipped Carl with a belt of sensors.

 

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German Driver Converts Old BMW into Pool on Wheels

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Tired of dealing with the unbearable summer heat, a 27-year-old driver from Eibenstock, Germany, had the not-so-brilliant idea to turn his BMW convertible into a mobile pool, by completely sealing the passenger cabin and filling it with water.

A pool on wheels sound pretty cool, but unfortunately for its creator, the local police didn’t think so. The nutty driver and three of his friends were driving their unconventional vehicle around town last Sunday, when they passed by a motorcycle policeman who happened to see the car had no license plates and that one of the passengers was riding on the trunk. As he pursued the suspicious convertible through Eibenstock, the officer noticed something very strange: every time it turned into a curb, water poured out of the vehicle. After a short chase, the BMW pulled over in a parking lot and the passengers, who were only wearing bathing suits, ran out and jumped into the nearby Mulde River. As he approached the empty car, the policeman discovered it had been converted into a regular pool on wheels. The interior had been sealed, painted blue and filled with water. The sides of the pool were lined with wooden planks, the steering wheel was covered in raffia, and next to the ignition switch was a beer bottle holder.

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German Star Wars Fans Build 1:2 Scale Tie Fighter

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The Star Wars universe has millions of fans throughout the world, and some of them really invest a lot of time and money into their passion for the franchise. Case in point, a group of German Star Wars enthusiasts who created an almost life-size model of the iconic Tie Fighter spacecraft out of wood, steel and plastic.

It took an army of hobbyists two years to complete, but the 1:2 scale Tie Fighter recently unveiled in Eichenzell, Germany, is a true DIY masterpiece. 20 Star Wars fans of different professions, from financial brokers to policemen and architects, put their blood and tears into this 5.30 m wide, 4.80 m long, 4.30 m high and 1.4 tons heavy model of the Galactic Empire’s starfighter. They worked in 12-meter-wide parking garage and spent an estimated €14,000 ($18,500) on necessary materials. The steel and aluminum frame alone cost €6,000 ($8,000), the wood was mostly provided for free, and the giant plastic ball that makes up the cockpit cost €1,900 ($2,500). Luckily, they had a couple of generous sponsors who took care of the bills.

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Is Your Child Using Drugs? Rent a Trained Sniffer Dog to Find Out

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German entrepreneur Reitner Reuther has made headlines in the national media for offering a very unique service. He gives parents who suspect their children of using illegal substances the chance to find out for sure by hiring a trained sniffer dog.

Statistics show drug abuse among youth is an increasing problem all around the world, but parents in Germany now have a new way of dealing with it without involving the authorities. Reitner Reuther believes his sniffer dog Thor is able to find even the most secret stashes of narcotics that can often be “too sophisticated” for parents to discover, so he set up a website where he offers to conduct discreet searches at the clients’ homes, at a rate of €95 ($125) per case. Thor completed his training to become a police dog in Texas, USA and specializes in sniffing out cannabis, heroin, speed and ecstasy. Parents get in touch with Reitner and they set up an appointment. When their child is away at school, he brings the dog by to search the house. According to his owner, no matter how well the drugs are hidden, nothing gets by Thor.

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Meet the German Family Who Lives without (Almost) Any Money

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29-year-old Rafael Fellmer and his family lead a very frugal lifestyle, one that requires them to spend almost no money at all. They get their food from organic supermarket dumpsters, “pay” their rent by doing all kinds of chores around the house and use a barter system to get the things they need. They only use money when they absolutely don’t have any other choice.

Rafael Fellmer was born in a good German family. His father is a successful architect and his mother an art therapist. He himself graduated in European Studies, in Hague, so there’s no question he could have gotten a good job, if he so wanted. But a few years back, Rafael realized there were things in this world much more important than money. He started gradually reducing his expenditures by doing things that didn’t require him paying anything. The economic crisis, the global food and water shortage, climate change, they all inspired him to live a frugal lifestyle, and made him realize that giving up money is a sure way to a more stable world order. Although there are those who consider him a “deadbeat” for not getting a proper job and providing for his family from supermarket dumpsters, Rafael Fellmer commands a lot of respect from those who share his views, and he is considered the leader of the life-without-money movement that is gaining a lot of popularity in Germany.

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Living with Wolves – The Amazing Story of Werner Freund

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79-year-old Werner Freund has a unique gift. The ex-paratrooper and now wolf-researcher from Germany can get along with wolves so well, it’s almost like he’s a member of their pack. In fact, it’s been 40 long years since he started living among wolves and rearing them from pups at his ‘Wolfspark’ sanctuary , located in Merzig,  in the German province of Saarland. The close relationship between Werner and his wolves is quite obvious from pictures of him leaning back on his haunches and howling, and of the wild beasts eating meat straight from his mouth.

Wolves are generally a feared species; come into close quarters and your chances of making it out alive are quite slim. But things are different in the case of Werner. It’s like they’ve accepted him as one of their own. When Werner is around, his wolves are actually playful, docile and submissive towards him. Perhaps it’s because he’s successfully asserted his dominance as the alpha male in the pack. The park is inhabited by wolves from six different packs around the world, including Siberian, Arctic, Canadian, European and Mongolian ones. They were mostly acquired as cubs from animal parks or zoos and hand-reared by Werner.

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Vegetarian Designer Opens Special Butcher Shop with Fluffy Meats

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It’s called “Aufschnitt” (German for “cold cuts”) and it’s a unique butcher shop created by designer Silvia Wald, who is actually a vegetarian. What’s even more bizarre is that she makes all the “meats” herself, by hand, out of fabric…

Every item on display at Silvia Wald’s Aufschnitt shop looks good enough to eat, only nothing is really edible. The young designer creates all her products from textile material and sells them as pillows, cushions or cool decorations. An engineer for clothing technology, Wald started making her delicious fluffy meats in 2009, as a small project, but after seeing how popular her few sausages were, she started making all kinds of other textile foods, from salami to large pieces of ham, from materials like cotton stretch velvet, lycra, wool or micro fibre. Then she opened her own little butcher shop in Berlin, where she sells her creations to both meat lovers and vegetarians. The designer says her favorite clients are the kids who always like to take a bite of her forever-fresh products,  just to see if they’re edible.

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Swearing Hotline Lets Germans Blow Off Some Steam, for a Fee

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Boss giving a hard time at work? Wife can’t seem to stop nagging you when you get home? Do you feel like lashing out at people all the time, but are afraid of social consequences? Fear no more, as an innovative new hotline allows frustrated people to use their most fowl language as a way to blow off steam.

It’s called “Schimpf-los” (German for “swear away”) and it’s an innovative new hotline that has operators standing by 24/7 ready to take serious verbal abuse from people who feel like blowing off steam by swearing. ”We don’t judge people who are angry,” said Ralf Schulte, one of the creators of this offbeat service. ”It happens. It’s natural. With us you can blow off steam no strings attached.” The 41-year-old entrepreneur set up Schimpf-los along with partner Alexander Brandenburger, after drawing inspiration from their own stressful daily routine. They realized their idea would help people avoid altercations at the workplace or at home, by providing an alternative place to release all tension. ”If you’re stressed out at work, you go home and your partner gets an earful,” Schulte comments. “Even though it’s not her fault.” With Schimpf-los, angry folks need not worry about this kind of scenarios anymore.

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Germany’s Trendiest People Converge on Berlin for the Hipster Olympics

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With the real Olympic Games about to start in London, Berlin’s self-proclaimed hipsters though they’d organize their own competition to find the most athletic hipster in Germany – the 2012 Hipster Olympics.

The tongue-in-cheek event took place last Saturday, and drew a crowd of over 6,000 hipsters to a club in east Berlin, for a series of nine ironic sporting events. Ironically, there were a lot of applicants who wanted to join the game, but a panel of hipster judges had the difficult task of choosing only 60.  ”We had to select the coolest ones,” said 24 year-old Alexander Bernikas, head of the Original Hipster Olympics Committee. The skinny-jeans-wearing, jute-bag-carrying contestants were split into twelve teams of five, and pitted against each other in ironic events like a horn-rimmed-glasses-throwing contest,  a vinyl-spinning marathon or a skinny jeans tug of war.

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German Couple Build Fairy Tale Castle in Their Backyard

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Heinz and Hildegard Schönewolf, from Dudweiler, Germany, have spent the last 37 years building a 350 square-foot fairy tale castle, right in their own backyard.

It’s amazing the kind of things people create in their backyards. Just a few days ago we posted about the stunning Four Seasons Garden, and the impressive replica of the Golden Gate Bridge built by Larry Richardson, and let’s not forget the backyard Titanic we featured a while back. Today, I found some photos of a colorful castle like the one you usually see in children’s fairy tale books, and learned it was actually built by a retired bricklayer, right in his own backyard, in the German town of Dudweiler. The 76-year-old castle enthusiast spent 37 years building his masterpiece out of stones, bricks and thousands of bags of cement.

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Test Your Middle Finger at the Bavarian Finger Wrestling Championship

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Finger wrestling, or “fingerhakeln”, used to be the way the men of Bavaria settled disputes back in the 17th century, but now it’s just an obscure sport that draws hundreds of strong men to the German region, for the annual Finger Wrestling Championship.

Now, I knew about thumb wrestling and toe wrestling, but I was totally oblivious to finger wrestling. That’s probably because it never caught on outside Bavaria, but the men there take it so seriously they even have a championship to determine which one has the strongest middle finger. The 35th edition of the annual Finger Wrestling Championship was held in Schnaitsee, Chiemgau, right in the heart of Bavaria, and brought together 156 competitors ready to snap their fingers for the title of champion.

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Mysterious Real-Life Robin Hood Leaves Envelopes of Cash to the Needy

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It’s nothing short of a modern-day miracle,when envelopes stuffed with cash just keep appearing all over town. And not just small cash, we’re talking large amounts. Since late last year, envelopes containing sums up to 10,000 euros are being mysteriously ‘given’ to those who are in need of money, in the German town of Braunschweig. The donated money that’s been accounted for so far amounts to a whopping 200,000 euros.

While the benefactor is unknown, the beneficiaries have so far “suspected” a hospice, a robbery victim, various charities, and also the family of a handicapped boy. The cash-stuffed envelopes have been left in prayer books in churches, beneath doormats and also in letterboxes. There are several theories as to who is behind this sudden ‘shower’ of cash in the settlement. Some say that it could be a lottery winner and others feel it’s probably someone who’s received a large inheritance. Whoever it may be, the person is being hailed as a present-day reincarnation of Robin Hood, who we’re not yet sure if  is stealing from the rich, but is certainly giving to the needy.

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German Man to Sell His Face for Tattooed Advertisements

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A German man loves dogs so much that he wants to build a museum dedicated to St. Bernard dogs. So what does he do to raise the money? Why rent out his face, of course. The idea seems so simple, I wonder why people don’t do it all the time. Maybe because no one wants to walk around with a bunch of advertisements TATTOOED on their face. But Uwe Troschel has no such qualms, so he’s perfectly happy to rent out sections of his face for companies to place their advertisements on.

Each section comes at a price of its own. So to put up an ad on Troschel’s forehead costs 50,000  euro, and each cheek, 20,000 euro. The nose is priced at 2,000, and if any company is interested in the entire face, it would set them back a whopping 100,000 euro. His intentions are commendable, but I’m not sure this is the right way to go about helping his four-legged friends. After all, when this is all said and done, they might not even recognize him…

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