We Don’t Control Technology. Technology Controls Us

At a first glance it might sounds silly, but every time I look around me, I can’t help but think it’s true, and it only gets worse by day. Think about it. You go to a restaurant and see a family or a group of friends, at the table, all on their tablets or smartphones, browsing the internet, not exchanging a single word during the entire meal. Later, they all pack their stuff, and leave. I always wonder why did they went out in first place and not stay locked in their rooms and chat via Facebook, while eating alone.

Visiting a new city / country often turns, for most people, into a quest to find a Wireless Network, just so they can talk to someone else, or update their Facebook status about the new ‘exciting’ location they are at. We are losing ourselves into the technology in our pockets and not living in the present day. The acute desire to always be connected and record every move we make, makes us forget to actually enjoy the moment, and be there, with the persons sitting next to us.

The social disease of recording our moves, checking-in from every location, posting pictures of the food we eat, and look in a certain way for the photos we ‘HAVE TO’ upload online, turns us into the slaves of the applications we’re using. Some people say: ‘I need to check-in now, because later it won’t be valid anymore.’ or my old time favorite: ‘I need to smile in a certain way, because otherwise I can’t post the pictures online.’. To whom are we trying to prove what, by acting in a way we are not, just for the sake of being connected, with some people we most of the time don’t even like? It seems like lately what’s more important than anything, is live to the expectations of a pretended life.

I don’t think, for most people, there’s anything more painful when going out into the real world, than the lack of internet connection or the ‘Low Battery’ warning. It makes me wonder, when and where do they actually live if they are so busy with technology all the time? They live on the social network or in the real life? Because most act like their life is over when the battery dies.

I believe we are missing on a lot, because of this kind of perspective on socializing… We have no idea how to enjoy a moment of silence in the nature, we can’t enjoy a peaceful meal with our loved ones, without obsessively check our phones every few minutes and posting a picture of the food on Instagram or Facebook, and we definitely don’t enjoy special moments in our lives, like birthdays, holidays, fireworks and so on, without letting go of reality, and moving ourselves into the piece of technology which has to record it all.

I find it particularly sad to know some people can’t spend a moment alone with their own thoughts, without playing loud music to push away loneliness, and without connecting to a social network, to scroll through other people’s lives. Is like we are trying to run away from … ourselves.

And what is so social about Facebook? What does it have so special that makes us give up the most beautiful application, REALITY, just to spend virtual time, with out eyes glued to a screen? Why are we so afraid of the Low Battery warning, when it actually means: ‘Why don’t you look around you and find someone real, to really talk to?‘. What makes us chose the pretended life of so many online ‘friends’ (who only wish you happy birthday because Facebook informs them to do so) over our real friends and family, sitting right next to us?

Such a beautiful world out there, and we push it away for a small box with a screen… Who controls who again?

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Food Diary: Happy Chicken? – The Horrors Behind the Industry

We hear a lot of times the expression: “You are what you eat.”. Some of us have no idea how true this is. You have to see the growing up/old process as playing with Lego. You add more bricks everyday to the structure, and they have to be the right bricks, otherwise the whole construction will come to the ground.

You only get one body, one chance at being healthy. Everything you put into your body will eventually do you good, or wrong. It’s up to you to decide what’s best, and you can only do this if you know the whole story. This is why I find it very important to share a few thoughts on the truth behind the chicken industry, hoping you will find this article useful, and help you chose better next time you go out to eat/buy meat. It was extremely difficult for me to put all of these into words (it wasn’t done without a lot of tears), but shedding some light on the matter is much more important.

In the race towards producing more and cheaper food, we sometime forget the quality is what really matters, long term, and not the quantity. Here are the horrors which happen behind the scenes.

The chicken meat production

Let’s take a closer look at one of the most desired meat on the market: chicken. The chicken on the right is how the animal used to look like, 60 years ago. The one on the left is how chickens look today, a fast growing breed of chicken, which came into the picture after the war, as a cheap solution to bringing more meat into our homes.

Not so much of a difference? Look closer and you will see how deformed its legs are, and how overweight it is compared to the chicken on the right. Why? It’s easy. Selective breeding turned the chickens into food eating driven machines, with the ultimate goal of delivering the big, juicy chicken breast, we buy from the supermarkets.

Chicken nowadays grow larger and larger, and so fast ( with an insane average of 60 grams per day), that they can barely stand up. Actually, they are growing at a rate three times faster than they used to, 60 years ago, in only 35-39 days! Sounds like Sci-Fi, but it actually happens.

The unnatural growth rate of these chickens doesn’t come without a price, but it affects their bodies, especially their hearts, lungs and bones. Most of them never walk in their lives, lying in their own feces, with open sores and wounds. Remember ever buying a whole chicken and discover its legs are cut off or have black spots here and there? That’s because of the bone deformities and the ammonia from their own feces, which burns the skin on the legs.

What also doesn’t help is the crowded sheds in which the birds are kept. With very little movement space, up to 19 birds can live in a sqm! Without ever seeing the sun, and touching the grass, that’s a very short and miserable life for a bird, especially when the mortality rate is pretty high.

If they make it at the end of the 39 days alive, they are killed by electrocution, which makes the bird unconscious, followed shortly by a bloody process which is meant to terminate its life, process which I don’t even want to recall…

Battery eggs and the caged chickens

This industry is separate from the one in which the chickens are raised for meat, and it starts with the chicks, freshly hatched. The females are separated from the males, and after the males are discarded (gassed – a slowly and painful death, then chopped for future processing), the females are put into extremely small cages (around 4 in such a cage), with no room to move around, where they eat, drink, poop, lay eggs, for a year, in almost complete darkness, without ever seeing the sun, time in which they lose most of their feathers, because of the severe stress they are put through.

The eggs are taken out of the cages, wrapped nicely, and delivered to your supermarket, in a pretty box, with pictures of happy chickens on it. Anything but happy I must say…

After the year has passed, the quality and quantity of eggs drops down, so the chickens are considered useless for egg laying, and moved to yet another part of the meat industry, where they get slaughtered.

Some rescued such birds, living as family pets, being loved and cared for, live for 8-9 years. Makes you wonder: is this kind of treatment necessary? Why killing an animal after one year of abuse, when with better care, the animal could live so much longer, produce better quality eggs, and live a normal happy life?

How can we, the buyers, help?

It’s a very tricky question, with a very hard answer. Not buying meat from the supermarkets, unless we know where it comes from( know the animals were treated with respect), and turning towards home growing or buying locally, from farmers, might be a start.

Also, you can avoid buying eggs from chickens in cages, but that’s not all you have to be aware of. Most products you buy at the supermarket contain such eggs, and as the producers are not forced to write on the bottles/jars/bags where do the eggs come from, you will never know the true story behind what you are eating. Examples of such products: cookies, pastries, sauces, mayonnaise and the list goes on and on.

The fast food restaurants (KFC, McDonald’s and many others) are some of the biggest buyers of birds raised in such terrible conditions. The pink mass on the left is called goop (mechanically separated chicken – basically everything they can’t use to sell goes in here, including bones), and it’s what we call the yummy Chicken Nuggets. Doesn’t look that good, huh? Would you like to know the whole process behind it? Here’s how the specialists explain what’s going on before it reaches our plates:

Because it’s crawling with bacteria, it will be washed with ammonia, soaked in it, actually. Then, because it tastes gross, it will be reflavored artificially. Then, because it is weirdly pink, it will be dyed with artificial color.

Even if the price of meat/eggs might be a bit higher in case of a chicken grown in normal conditions, I believe it’s worth it, in the end. Every cent paid extra, sustains the right type of industry. I don’t know about you but I care about the life of the animal and I want it to be treated with respect, and live a good life, even if its purpose in life is to end up on a plate.

And don’t believe chicken meat is the only one in such a situation. Not at all. Pink Slime sounds familiar? No? It’s a lean finely textured beef, added to ground beef as a filler or to reduce the overall fat content of ground beef. Heat and centrifuges are used, in order to separate the fat from the meat in beef trimmings and the resulting product is exposed to ammonia gas or citric acid to kill bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella.

Eating the meat or products coming from a stressed animal isn’t healthy for us as humans either. To make matters even worse, the combination of antibiotics, steroids, ammonia or acid which get injected into the animals, are transmitted to us, which makes our immunity system weaker by day.

In the end, we are what we eat. Treating an animal with respect, giving it a chance at a normal life, is what should define us as humans. This will be a small improvement in the life of the birds compared to the improvement in what we call humanity. That being said, go out there, ask questions, get informed, and choose right for both you and the animals!

Seeing the world through your eyes

Choose to see the world through optimistic eyes!

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After starting my blog, I got very lucky to meet a lot of wonderful people from all around the world. We shared stories and ideas and got to know so much about each other and about the place we call home. I’ve found out so much about everything around me, and I can’t be happier about this.

Going through other blogger’s posts, I’ve found similar stories, opinions on trips, places, people and experiences. It seems like even if we all talk about the same person, event or location and the pictures are pretty much the same, the posts are always very very different.

At first I wondered why? It seems weird. Then I’ve realized we all see and feel the world in a different way.We see everything around us, and paint our entire life, just as we are inside.

When it comes to travel, it will always open your mind, if you keep it open. Some see something as simple as a sunset and it makes them smile and fill their hearts with joy. Meanwhile, for others, the same view is worthless and might not even get noticed. Most people I know travel only to have fun getting drunk and spending money, while others meet people, absolve different cultures and traditions and, most important, grow.

seetheworldasyouareSome spend their entire life running after money, wasting it on nothing but meaningless things, finding joy only in what they can feed of. If it makes money, or if they can make it bring money, it gets registered. If not, it won’t make a difference to them. The way we experience our surroundings makes us pursue fortunes, destroy the environment, bring species to extinction, just so we can grow and spread our greed. Such people will never enjoy the simple things, events, places. If it’s not loud, expensive, fancy or cool, it’s not worth a second look, or a spot on the blog.

Some just can’t see past the ones mentioned above, and so, the same place or experience it’s very different from one person to the other. This got me to think about some people I know, who are always unhappy, cranky and mad at everything and everyone around them. How do they actually see the world I see? For sure it’s so different.

For me, the right way to travel is to open my mind and my heart, learn as much as I can, and meet as many people as possible. Once you open your eyes, you will see much more out there, then it’s noticeable at a first glance.  This can never fail, but it will take you places!

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The way we see ourselves is what makes us all unique. This is what makes our stories unique. No matter how many people you ask about a certain subject, the answer will always be different.

Who we are is how we see the world!

 

Well, wasn’t that a very short spring?

Spring is not here, not even close. Don’t ever trust a snowdrop in January! 🙂

Today we had a fairytale-like snowfall, and I don’t think I ever saw Mother Nature transform this beautiful before. Either this, or I really missed the snow!

Lisa most definitely had a great time checking out Mother Nature’s winter clothing.

And when it’s this cold outside, I never forget about my outside buddies, so the birdhouse provided shelter and food, during the storm, for this gorgeous bird. image_3

On our way back, we must stop to smell the roses (as it’s too cold for roses, we have to work with snowdrops and we don’t mind, at all 🙂 ).

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Happy winter-spring everyone!

Oktoberfest – Celebrating Beer At Its Best!

Short History

Oktoberfest (or “Wies’n“, as the locals refer to it) is held on the Theresienwiese, in Munich, Germany, and is the largest festival in the world, with over 6 million visitors, each year. Insane number, right? And such a festival needs years to become so big, so let’s find out how did it all started.

The field where the festival is held every year has been named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s fields”) in honor of the Crown Princess, Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen, who married Crown Prince Ludwig, on 12th October, 1810. All the citizens of Munich were invited to celebrate the happy event, and watch the horse races. The horse races were repeated in the following years, which created the tradition of the Oktoberfest.

Nowadays, the festival takes place during the sixteen days up to and including the first Sunday in October.

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The beer tents

We all love horses, but let’s admit it, they are not the reason for going to the festival. The real reason is called German Beer. With around 12,000 people employed, you will find plenty of it, in any beer tent you choose. The most representative Munich breweries Paulaner, Spaten, Hofbräu, Hacker-Pschorr, Augustiner and Löwenbräu are present at the location and ready to create a Bavarian Heaven for all the visitors!

Interesting facts about the tents

A festival in a tent might sound a bit weird to some of you, but when I say tent, I don’t mean your regular 2×2 m camping tent. The ones built at the Oktoberfest are huge, accommodating a large number of people, looking closer to a barn, than to a tent.  Around 58 trucks per tent start to bring the components to the festival grounds, in late July. When the last table was folded, and the dishes packed nicely in boxes to be stored until next year, you couldn’t tell the Wiesn ever took place. This usually takes place around the 1st of November. Impressive or what?

When you drink your beer, take a moment to be thankful for all the manpower dedicated to making it all happen!

How do I choose the tent?

Which is the best tent? There is no such thing as a best tent.

However, Schottenhamel is one of of the most important tents. Why? At the start of the festival, the mayor of Munich will tap the first keg and call out O’zapft is! Only after this, the other tents are allowed to begin to serve beer. It is also the largest tent, with over 10.000 seats!

DSCF6210Marstall (the newest tent at the festival, opened in 2014, after replacing the old Hippodrom tent), Armbrustschuetzen, Hofbrau Festhalle and Hacker Festzelt are only a few of the tents waiting for the beer lovers’ arrival. My random choice was Löwenbräu, as the massive lion displayed at the entrance (4.50 meters high) caught my attention, but all the other ones are just as welcoming.

Remember that in order to enter the beer tents, you have to be prepared for a long wait. With so many thirsty tourists around, it might be hard to find an empty spot, especially if you travel with a large group. Making a reservation prior to the visit, is recommended, but is not mandatory. Remember, you need to sit down, in order to drink or eat!

The Parade

If you visit Munich for the horses however, then you shouldn’t miss the parade. I know what you might think: horses and beer?! Yes, and the two blend lovely, since the 1800’s.

The first parade ever took place in 1835, held in honor of the 25th wedding anniversary of Oktoberfest founders King Ludwig I and his wife, Theresie. Since 1950, the parade takes place every year, when 9,500 persons, dressed in traditional costumes, take part in the parade and present an impressive variety of habits and traditional dancing routines. To make it even more exciting, the Munich breweries add their horse drawn beer wagons to the parade, pulling the beer all the way to the festival.

The parade takes place Every First Oktoberfest Sunday and it starts at Maximilianstrasse. Heading towards, Odeonsplatz, it will get to the official box of the Bavarian Prime Minister and the Mayor of Munich (the place where I stopped to watch) and continues to Briennerstrasse, Maximiliansplatz, Lenbachplatz, Stachus, Schwanthalerstrasse and finally reaches the Theresienwiese, after crossing the Kaiser Ludwig Platz.

The most amazing part of the parade, was definitely the end, when after the last few horses made their way through the crowd, huge cleaning trucks appeared and ended the parade, while the traffic came back to normal, in just a few seconds. Quite something to see.

With a mix of fun, beer tents, parades and street performers, Munich is a wonderful place to be during the Oktoberfest. Besides this, I highly recommend a tour of the city, as the architecture is impressive and worth seeing.