Eurovision Song Contest 2017

All right, it’s this time of the year again: it’s Eurovision! The biggest and longest running

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ESC 2017 logo

song competition in the world, that claims to be unpolitical, but everyone and their grandma knows it’s not.

Granted, a few stars rose from the ESC and managed to build a career, but for the most part it’s cheesy and sparkly and gay and fun and pop songs and Eurodance and ballads all in 3 big shows. I’m not a huge Eurovision-geek, but being into it once a year is perfectly fine.

I would like to talk about 2 things about this year’s ESC: Russia and Italy.

As we all know, Russia is boycotting the ESC this year, after Ukraine forbid russian entry Julia Samoylova to enter the country. Now, this may sound mean, even more so because she’s disabled and sitting in a wheelchair, but she broke ukrainian law by performing on crimera without going through Ukraine – in other words: she flew directly from Russia to crimera to perform and that resulted in a 3 year ban to enter Ukraine. There’s another 140 artists that share the same fate.

Is Ukraine being too hard? This is very hard to answer. Russia obviously is trying to be the victim here, I mean: there’s no way Russian authorities didn’t know about Samoylovas ban to enter Ukraine before choosing her and they chose a disabled artiest on top of that – someone you’re going to feel bad for easily. This was a calculated conflict from Russia, they knew this would happen and they knew Ukraine would not make an expection, because these two countries are in war and Ukraine is still damn pissed about crimera.

However, neither country was interested in resolving this conflict, the EBU said Samoyolova could perfom in Russia and her performance could be streamed live during the show, but both countries declined and neighter offered another solution. Every single person with a brain their head should’ve known either Russia or Ukraine was going to pull one out after Jamala won last year and quite honestly, nobody really seems surprised either. It’s a little sad, because Eurovision is supposed to bring countries together and it has been used to deepen an ungoing conflict this year. Personally I think both countries should’ve acted more peaceful.

Leaving Russia and Ukraine behind, I would like to talk a bit about Italy this year. Yes, Italy, the huge favorite. Some people think the song is overrated, I personally really like it. I think it’s a catchy popsong, that’s fun to listen to and you don’t feel bad listen to it more than once. I’m also a huge fan of Francescos rough voice and hope he can deliver a great perfomance in the finale.

However, I think having a great song is not the only reason so many people support Italy this year. I often read comments about Italy being robbed 2015 and they finally deserve

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Italy: Francesco Gabbani

the win they should’ve taken two years ago. Rewind backwards to 2015 when Italy was the huge fan favorite and took an undisputed clear first place in the audience voting. That night european people decided “Grande Amore” was their winner, but a hand full of profressionals decided to make a much more radio-friendly song the winner: Sweden. Since Italy was so widley supported by fans, many felt Italy was robbed by the juries and now that Italy has another outstanding top song, the support is there once again.

Additionally, I would like to add Jamala was second place last year: she was second place in jury voting and second place in audience voting. She won, because Australia did very well with the juries, but not that good with the audience and Russia did very well with the audience, but not that good with the juries. Once again, just like the year before, we have a huge difference between the fan favorite and the jury favorite and fans felt their winner was robbed once again. Add to the fact many people believe the votes for Ukraine were out of political interest and you kind of understand why the fans finally want to see “their winner” actually win.

Italy would be a very “safe” winner this year. After all the controversy around the ukraininan win last year and their trouble with Russia this year, Italy is very safe. They already deserved it two years ago, they don’t have any major problems with other countries, or at least not of the scale that Ukraine does, and they have a good song you can play on the radio in most parts of the world. It’s a “feel good” song at a time when many people don’t feel that good and problems are rising all around us and maybe we need a song to win, that makes us feel good for 3 minutes.

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Protugal: Salvador Sobral

The other favorites to win are currently Portugal and Sweden – also two very safe options – and Bulgaria, another controversial entry, because ever since Russias announced they won’t participate this year, Bulgaria is basically Russias secret entry, because their artist has russian roots, is very well known in Russia and is expected to get many russian votes. Quite honestly, I really REALLY don’t want Bulgaria to win and it has nothing to do with their song, unfortunately, it’s 100% politics: I don’t want this mess a second time in a row. It’s been a long time since ESC was as political as it is this year and I want to have a break from that next year. Every once in a while: okay, but not every year.

I’ll be rooting for Italy, I really like France and Belgium as well and hope they’ll be doing great this year. My own country? Germany? Set to lose again, no point talking about it.

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Adopting a Dog in Germany

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our old girl in spring 2014

Ever since our old girl had to be humanely euthanized at the age of 16 in July of 2014, my father has been thinking about adopting another dog. As time went on, the thought became a serious wish and he started actively looking for dogs.

First off all, where can you buy/adopt a dog legally in Germany?

  1. you can buy a puppy from a breeder
  2. you can look into newspaper advertisements or the internet to get a dog from a private person who wants to / has to give the dog away
  3. you adopt a dog from the shelter
  4. you adopt a dog from one of the many animal rescue /helping organizations around

It’s actually forbidden by law to sell dogs on flea markets in Germany and if I remember correctly there’s exactly 1 pet store in the entire country, where you can buy puppies. Personally, I think the best way to go is to look for a dog in a shelter or adopt one from a trustworthy rescue organization (many may act out of good will, but it often lacks a professional execution).

I also understand why some people would rather have a puppy from a breeder, because that way you can check on the parents of your dog and the environment it’s been growing up in and basically you can be sure the dog has never really experienced anything bad and you get the characteristics you’re looking for in the specific breed you want to have. It’s the safest way to get a healthy normal dog, if you want to go to the trouble of finding a good greeder and spending a lot of money for a purebreed puppy.

sleepy girl

sleepy girl

I reason I prefer “second hand dogs”, is mainly because I respect the choice to buy a puppy from a breeder, but I want to give the older dogs sitting in shelters and foster homes a chance as well. They may come with a problem here and there and it takes them longer to get used to their new home and both of you need time to get to know eath other well, but it’ll work out eventually with rigth amount of patience and love.

So, my father read an advertisement on the internet and called the women who copuldn’t keep her 10-year-old Beagle anymore, but he was too late. After turning down 20 people who weren’t goof enough, she gave the dog to a shelter a week ago. My dad went to said  shelter and there was the Beagle.

You see, it’s not that easy to adopt a dog from a shelter. They usually have you come several times to go for a walk with the dog, so you two get to know each other. They will also have talks with you about your experience with dogs and what kind of environment you can provide them and if they feel you’re unfitting, no dog for you. They usually try very hard to find good people, but that’s not easy, especially for older dogs.

Most people look for young and healthy dogs, that leaves the old ones and those with medical issues harder to find a new home for. When my father went for a walk with said Beagle, two women spoke up to him. The first one complained that dog would be too old for her liking, but the second one was very happy for that old dog to have someone interested in taking him. Faith in humanity crushed and instantly rebuild, I guess.

The usual procedure is, after you’ve decided you want to have the dog and the shelter staff agrees with you, you get the dog on probation, so to speak. Usually it’s a few weeks and after that time, you call the shelter and tell them how’s it going. In an ideal situation, you tell them all is fine and you keep the dog. If not, you bring the dog back. Many shelters have you pay the adoption fee after this probation period, in case you keep the dog. The shelter my father wants to adopt said Beagle from, even brings the dog to your home, to see the future environment by themselves. I think that’s awesome.

It may sound troublesome to get a dog from a shelter, but I think it’s good everyone tries their hardest to find good owners for the dogs.

Pet Facts from Germany

I’m working as a veterenary nurse/technician in training in a small vet clinic in Germany and after I watched some veterenary videos on youtube, I decided to tell you guys some facts about pets in Germany.

  • 20% of german households home a cat and 14% home a dog, making cats the most vs000291-europaeisch-Kurzhaarpopular pets in Germany. The most popular breed of cat is the European Short Hair. The most popular dog is the Mixed Breed – I’m not kidding.
  • Germany has 100% no kill animal shelters. Here in Germany it’s forbidden by law to euthanize an animal unless it suffers from an incurable desease that cuts down greatly on the quality of life of the animal.
  • You need to pay taxes for a dog, because they leave their feaces wherever you’re walking them and that sh*t needs to be cleaned up by someone. You don’t need to pay taxes for cats – living 100% inside or not doesn’t matter at all.
  • Our shelters are anything but empty, sometimes overpopulated, but if you want to adopt an animal from a shelter, pe prepared that you will have to come several times to get to know the animal and convince the people from the shelter that you can provide appropriate living conditions and care for the animal, be it a great dane or guinea pig.
  • Germans have a serious helper syndrom when it comes to animals. Since living conditions for pets are generally pretty good here compared to many other countries, there’s a lot of people trying to help animals in countries with worse conditions by bringing them to Germany. However, many people also see this practice with great concern, due to three main reasons: 1. Our shelters are full as they are, we have more than enough pets waiting to be rehomed on our own. 2. Imported dogs often come with deseases that’re naturally not seen here, leishmaniasis for example. 3. It doesn’t help the situation in the country of the animals origin at all.
  • The practice of neutering and spaying is very common over here and many people who don’t want to breed will neuter/spay their animal to make life easier and less stressfull for themselves and the animal. However, if you go very strictly by law, you’re actually fordidden to remove an organ unless the animal suffers from problems with it. Thislaw is usually interpreted very… open minded.
  • If you want to own a dog taller than 40cm or heavier than 20kg, you will have to pass an exam that will test basic knowledge. I did hear rumors one state is panning on having everyone take this exam, regardless of how tiny the dog is. I totally support this, because of the high amount of aggressive little dogs I see every day at our clinic – our small muzzles are much more in use than out big ones.
  • Ever since the early 2000s there’s been a new stricter law regarding the ownership of AMERICAN_STAFFORDSHIRE_TERRIERdog breeds that’re classified as potentially dangerous. Every state has it’s own laws, but you can generally say that if you own a dog from these lists you will have to pay higher taxes, need to provide special requirements in terms of the housing situation of the dog and you will have to pass a special test. The dog might also need to have it’s race determinded even though it’s a pure breed. Races that usually fall under these laws are e.g.: Pitbull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bullterrier and to a lesser degree e.g.: American Bulldog, Dogo Argentino, Rottweiler. Since the Stafford was a pretty popular breed prior to these laws, after they became effective german shelters were run over with Staffs and Staff Mixed Breeds.
  • It’s forbidden to cut off the tail or any other body part off the animals body for beauty reasons as it has been common practice in several breed of dogs like the Boxer or the Dobermann. Recently there has also been a case in court where it was forbidden to breed canadian-sphynx cats, because their havily reduced whiskers for beauty reasons are considered an act of animal cruely as it leaves the animal handicapped. … so why is it still allowed to breed pugs or cavallier king charles spaniels?
  • There are many places you can take you dog with, even restaurants and shops might allow you to take your dog with you.
  • Exotic pets like different types of snakes, bearded dragons or spiders and turles are on the rise, but they’re still very far behind the “classic” pets.
  • Cute rabbits and guinea pigs are still considered typical pets for small children and Kaninchen_20090127_0023often given to them as presents, even though I personally think they’re unsuited for children. They’re very afraid of humans and don’t like to be petted, need a special diet that is often messed up and die very easily if not provided with proper care. In the past decade the overall knowledge of the average Joe on how to keep such an animal has greatly improved. There’s still a lot that needs to be done for the smallest of pets, though.
  • There are still people left who believe a female dog needs to have a litter of puppies at least once, before she can be spayed safely. This is nonsense.

I guess that’s it for today. Of course there’s also acts of animal cruelty in Germany and it’s not always as rosy as it seems to be. We have problems as well, but we try to work on them, but like ever there’s much to be done.

My Guinea Pigs Anton, Patti & Rosi

My Guinea Pigs Anton, Patti & Rosi

Italy – the Winner of Hearts / Eurovision Song Contest – the Grand Final

So… I guess if you loose, you’ve got to do it right and walk out of it with 0 points together with the host. On a brigther note, the german and austrian contestants are planning on making music together now, because they came to like each other so much. That’s… good news, I guess?

I’m super happy for Belgium and Latvia for walking out of the contest with two very modern and unique songs so successfully. I mean: 4rth place and 6th place? Can’t complain about that. =D

So, let’s talk a bit about the voting. I took a quick look and here’s what I noticed: In case of Germany, the jury-voting seemed to be better than the televoting. However, if it had been only televoting, we would’ve still walked away with at least 5 points and a 25th place, so I guess we do have some friends in Europe left after all. And the host? Still last with 0 points. Ouch.

Now, here’s another interesing piece of information: If the contest would’ve been 100% televoting, the clear winner would’ve been… Italy with a full 80 points ahead of second place Russia. That’s right, the oh-so-loved Sweden, would’ve been thrid. So basically the juries made Sweden win. In the full split result chart you’ll notice the jury-votes for Italy are shockingly low compared to the televoting results. Nice and bitter taste, isn’t it?

Yeah, I’m not really happy with the overall winner, even more so since it’s a jury winner on top of that. I really liked the russian entry, because I think it’s a very well performed awesome power-ballad, but I wouldn’t have wanted Russia to hold the next contest considering the more recent law changes and overall anti-tolerant direction the country is taking. This is not the artists fault and I still love her singing, I just don’t want Eurovision in Russia right now. A few years ago it was all right and maybe in a few years it’ll be all right again, but not right now. Please don’t take this the wrong way.

Either way, why is it I’m not that happy with the overall winner Sweden? Well, for once Sweden already won 2012 and that was just 3 years ago and now we’re already going back there. Sweden has as many wins as Ireland now and I think a contest is boring if one contestant is dominating too much, like Ireland was 30-20 years ago.

The other thing is… I think Måns Zelmerlöw is too perfect. The song, the performance, the guy himself – everything is calculated to win, like a cardboard cutout, and it was successfull. Sure, if Sweden wants to win the ESC so bad, they can pour that much enery in it to produce the picture perfect Eurovision song/singer/performane, they are free to do so, but I don’t have to like that. I like the quirky entries more, the unusual ones. I still like Seriba best! I totally overlooked Italy, though, and they blew me away in the final, awesome surprise.

About the voting system: I think it’s problematic the way it’s done right now. I mean, it’s a good idea to have a jury to counter the inevitable blockvoting, but the juries themselves are usually just random musicians. I mean, how about you have “real” juries with people who actually really know their stuff about music, who seriously studied music or something.The juries should vote for the music, the performance, the package and not against televoting, something that is happening on purpose. I’m actually not quite sure if I wouldn’t like to try an ESC on televoting alone – since Italy would’ve won, you can’t really argue the eastern European countries would dominate too much, would you?

And about Blockvoting: Sweden got 12 points from all scandinavian countries – Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. Sure, to win you need 12 points from other countries as well, but if that’s not a prime example of block voting, then what is? And when the easter european countries do this, people are so enraged they favor their neighbors, but when scandinavia does it, nobody bats an eye. Double standart at it’s finest.

And Australia? They did great, walked away with a 5th place and a nice song. To win the song was too… soft I guess. It’s a great mainstream pop-song, but it’s too clean and flat I guess. For winning, it would’ve needed a few more high points I guess? This is a song that does well in charts and on the radio, but that doesn’t mean it’ll win the ESC. Still a great song, though and I think it’s a bit sad Australia has to leave the Eurovision-circus already. Awesome guest entry, though. Keep the good mood up, Kiwis! =)

And lastly, the contest was so serious this year it was way close to actually resembling a cultural event, too close for my taste. Israel with their “Golden Boy” rescued the Grand Final. So, for 2016 how about we go back to our fun and crazy ESC that we love, instead of falling asleep after the 20th ballad?