People holding hands

Denmark, we need to talk…

Hey, Denmark.

Got a minute? Good. Uh, have a seat. I’d like to have a quick chat.

Look, you and I both know that we have a bit of a migrant problem. And by “migrant problem” I mean “thousands of desperate refugees escaping a bloody, five-year civil war that has likely claimed more than 300,000 lives.” But hey, you say “tomato,” I say “soul-crushing tragedy.” Semantics, right?

But I’m afraid you’re starting to have a bit of an image problem, too. You see, while some EU countries welcome the refugees, you are—how do I put this—acting like a bit of a dick.

Wait. Don’t get upset. I’m not saying you are a dick.

I’m just saying that when European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker suggests introducing quotas to accommodate the refugees and you respond by saying that quotas are not “something you care for” and insist that you have an opt-out of EU’s refugee policies, you look like a bit of a dick. When exhausted refugees get to your borders and you turn them around, you look like a bit of a dick. When you straight up block all highways and rail traffic from Germany to stem the passage of refugees to Sweden, you look like a bit of a dick.

When you take out ad space in Lebanese newspapers to tell potential refugees about your strict asylum policies in order to discourage them from ever coming to the country and holy crap, I can’t believe you actually did that! Jesus Christ, Denmark. Fuck! What are you even d–

I’m sorry, I lost my temper. My apologies. But do you see how that makes you look like a dick?!

So what I’m saying is: Maybe turn that down a notch?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I totally get it. We can’t possibly find physical space for all those refugee hordes here. I can barely find an extra seat on the train to put my feet up on the way to work. Now I suddenly have to share that space with an actual person?! Not on my watch!

Plus those refugees are from mystical, foreign lands, and if we know anything at all about foreigners it’s that they are automatically inferior to us and are totally incapable of ever grasping our progressive concepts like democracy, capitalism, and paranoid xenophobia. They have their own savage goals like “finding a place to sleep,” “having a roof over their heads,” and “not dying.” We’ll never see eye to eye.

And don’t even get me started on how much money we’d have to spend on all those refugees. Sure, Denmark, you may be among the richest countries in the world, but you’re not the richest, right? Why should you take responsibility?!

I can already hear some silly hippies with their silly words: “We have more money than we need. We can all help. You don’t need a second car or a new TV.” But if I can’t buy a TV for my bathroom, then how am I supposed to watch those adorable cat videos while sitting on the toilet? By using my smartphone? Honestly, have you seen how tiny a smartphone screen is? It’s minuscule! I can barely tell whether I’m looking at cats or some furry blobs making meowing noises. Nobody should be made to suffer that kind of injustice.

So yeah, it’s clear that you can’t do much to help those refugees. I’m not suggesting you start acting all compassionate or human or something. But maybe you can at least pretend? Maybe take in a few thousand more refugees, if only to make those smug Swedes look less high and mighty with their generous refugee policies? Maybe don’t actively punish your own citizens for helping drive refugees across a bridge? Maybe save money on printing ads in foreign newspapers and use that money for sensitivity training instead?

It’s like this. You can keep acting the way you do and be this Hungarian camerawoman:

Or you can clean up your image a bit by being more like these Germans:

I know it’s tough, but I’m sure you have it in you. Can you try and make an effort? For me? Thanks!

I’m glad we had this talk. Now go out there and make me proud!

And hey—Denmark—don’t act like such a dick anymore, okay?

If you’re in Denmark, here’s a bunch of stuff you can do to help refugees. If you’re not in Denmark, you can help as well.

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Riveting Hammer

In case of emergency…just chill, dude

I was in the metro the other day.

As is the custom in all public transport, there was an emergency brake hidden in plain sight. Which is to say, not hidden at all.

Because I’m the type of person who’ll take pictures of the most mundane things, I snapped this photo:

Emergency Brake Copenhagen Metro

Nice composition. Good lighting effects.

A pretty standard emergency brake deal, right?

But then…suspense…music crescendos…a sudden twist! Let’s take a closer look at the instructions:

Emergency Brake Copenhagen Metro Instructions

Notice anything off?

No, not that. That’s just Danish alphabet. How judgmental of you!

Here, let me help:

Emergency Brake Instructions

See it now? Good!

Isn’t it a bit…man, you still haven’t seen it, have you?

I’m talking about this:

Emergency Brake Close-up

The train will stop at the next station?!

Que?!

So let me get this straight: When I pull this emergency brake, it just gently reminds the train to please stop at the next station?

It’s a goddamn emergency brake. Shouldn’t it stop the moment you pull it? Nobody ever calls 911 to have a leisurely chat about when it would be most convenient for the next available police officer to pay a visit to their house and deal with the pesky “homicidal maniac” situation. Do they?

I would sort of understand the logic behind this brake if it were placed in an express train that skips a bunch of stations. But here’s the deal: The Copenhagen metro already stops at every single station. And these stations are no more than 2 minutes apart.

What’s your agenda here, Metro?

Emergency Brake Hammer

Oh! Oooooh! I see what this is. You’re just hoping someone mistakes it for an emergency hammer and starts to assemble their IKEA furniture directly in the train, don’t you? That’s when your staff shows up and “fines” them for “misuse,” right? Nice little racket you’ve got going on there, Metro. Bet you didn’t expect me to crack the puzzle so quickly. I’m on to you! I’ll be watching you from now on, with your fake “emergency brakes” and your oppressive “public decency” rules.

On second thought…I may be reading a bit too much into this. It’s probably a perfectly normal emergency brake that’s just learned to slow down and enjoy life. Maybe we can all learn a thing or two from it.

Big Ear Clown

22 more WTF Danish Halloween costumes

Ah, Halloween! The one day of the year when you can justify running out into the streets completely naked by calling it a costume. Uh…hypothetically. I wouldn’t know anything about being nude in Copenhagen’s main square on October 31 of last year. That’s slander and lies. Or, as the police records refer to it, “indecent exposure.” Hypothetical police records.

As always, Halloween brings with it shenanigans, festivities, and a bunch of silly, silly costumes. And many of the costumes available in Denmark proudly earn their place in the “WTF” category. I’ve already done this once before, but repetition is the mother of existential horror. So journey with me into the land of utter madness that is the Danish Halloween costume scene.

22. Naked Man

Naked Man Costume Small

A very authentic rendering of the male body. The level of detail here is unmatched. The carefully organized chest hair. The oversized, saggy skin that hangs loosely off the body. The giant crotch-eating worm with an Afro that’s attached itself to the man’s genitals (you can’t unsee it now).

21. Fat Killer Clown

Fat Killer Clown Costume Small

Eventually, Ronald McDonald realizes that the real killer all along was the diabetes brought about by rampant fast food consumption.

20. Santa Skin Suit

Santa Skin Suit Costume Small

“Ho ho ho! Meeeeerry Christmas, kids. You will never guess what’s inside the bag!”

“Actually, Santa, we don’t really want to kn–”

“It’s my face.”

19. Super Reindeer

Super Reindeer Costume Small

After Rudolf got bitten by a radioactive human, he gained the power of unlimited access to steroids. Seriously, this is quite possibly the absolute worst thing you could have done to a “Rudlof The Reindeer” costume!

18. Male Fever Rudolf Kini

Reindeer Mankini Suit Small

Aaaaand I stand corrected!

17. Zombie Traffic Lady

Zombie Traffic Lady In Yellow Costume

“Braaaaaaains! Braaaaaaaaains! I mean, use your braaaaaaaaains, this is the children’s crossing! Careful!”

16. Pinky Pig

Pinky Pig Costume Small

So many questions: Why does this pig have a human mouth? Why are its lifeless eyes boring straight into my soul? Why is it doing that weird “I’m riding an invisible motorcycle” mime?! Why is it wearing sneakers?! Why can I do nothing to stop these screams of terror pouring out of my mouth?!

15. Human Anatomy

Human Anatomy Costume Small

“OK, class. As you can see, the tibialis anterior is located just below…Timmy, stop crying…just below the…stop crying, Timmy…below the fibularis longus, which is the…Timmy! I said stop crying!

14. Waiter Skin Suit

Black Faceless Waiter Costume Small

“Some wine, sir? Riddle me this: What’s inside the glass on the left?”

“I don’t think I want to kn—”

“It’s my face.”

13. Jackie In The Box

Jackie In The Box Costume Small

This is actually a pretty cool concept, as long as you’re making that “I’ve just jumped out of the box” pose. However, the rest of the night must get kind of awkward. “For the thousand’s time: No, I’m not pregnant with SpongeBob SquarePants’s baby! Stop asking!”

12. Gangster Fat Cat

Gangter Fat Cat Costume Small

Say hello to my morbidly obese friend.

11. Stripper Kit

Male Stripper Costume Small

Epic douchey wink sold separately.

10. Baby Kit

Baby Suit Costume

Is that a doo-doo in your diaper, or are you just happy to…wait, don’t answer that.

9. Cereal Killer

Cereal Killer Costume Small

“Whoa! Cereal Killer? What happened to that ‘Killer B‘ guy?”

“I killed him. He was having far too much…pun. HAHAHAHHAHAHAHA!”

8. Naked Grandma

Naked Grandma Costume Small

Nothing gets the fun family conversation going like being vividly reminded of that time dementia made grandma do embarrassing things.

7. Mr. T Skin Suit

Mr T Costume Small

“I pity the fool who thinks my face looks like a Pikachu that swallowed a radish.”

6. Priest

Priest Costume Small

You can’t spell “blasphemy” without “orgasmic blow-up doll sex.” Or maybe you can.

5. Shark Victim

Shark Victim Suit Small

Cyclops?! Nooooooooo! They always eat the best ones!

4. Kiss The Frog

Kiss The Frog Costume Small

I don’t get it. What does that mean? “Kiss the fr…” Oh! Ooooooh! Yeah, real subtle, dude. Why don’t you just go ahead and simply slap something like “blow me” on there.

3. Breathalyzer

Breathalyzer Suit Small

Oh, for Dick’s sake! But hey, bonus points for finding a model with an uncannily appropriate facial expression.

2. Tree

Tree Suit Small

“…kill…meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…I shouldn’t…exist…”

1. Rubik’s Cube

Rubik's Cube Suit Small

“Solve me now to see what’s inside the Rubik’s cube!”

“Is it your face?”

“Don’t be stupid, man. This is just a costume.”

Wind Warning Icon Sock

Oh Denmark, you’re so cute!

You all remember hurricane Sandy, right?

Well you probably don’t know this, but on Monday we here in Denmark celebrated Sandy’s one year anniversary by having a storm of our own.

Not just any storm, either – the worst storm in a decade!

Before you put on your panic hats (is that a thing?), relax. What’s considered “the worst storm” for Denmark is called a “Wednesday” in the Philippines.

That’s not to say there were no consequences. Two people died. Public transport was in shambles. It took me 4 hours to get home from work, instead of the usual 1 hour. Trees were uprooted and posters of politicians were torn down.

All in all, however, Denmark is back to functioning normally. We simply don’t get cataclysmic weather happenings here.

That reminds me. Did you know that we once had an earthquake in Denmark, too? We did. In 2008 an earthquake hit Sweden and decided to take a slight detour to Copenhagen to buy booze. Typical Swede.

The earthquake was 4,7 on Richter Scale when it hit Sweden. Do you want to know how bad it was once it got to Denmark? Let me tell you:

Two Talking People Speech Bubbles

That’s me telling you stuff. You look so clueless!

It was around 6 in the morning and I was asleep. Suddenly, it felt like my bed started vibrating. My immediate reaction, of course, was to freak out and seek cover. Just kidding. My first and only thought was “Damn neighbours, why are they having a party this late/early?!”

With that I went back to sleep and slept until my alarm told me it was time to go to work. It was only when I got to the office and heard colleagues discussing the earthquake that I put two and two together (that’s four, by the way).

I remember the media making a pretty big deal out of it, too. There was an interview with a guy whose garden lamp fell over and broke. The interviewer, in all seriousness, was asking him detailed questions about the experience. The guy looked distressed and, while holding the broken lamp in his hands, said something along the lines of “You just don’t expect this kind of thing in Denmark!”

That’s true. You don’t expect any major catastrophes to happen in Denmark. Our disasters are little wannabe versions of their real equivalents.

And that’s, of course, a good thing. Let’s hope those wannabe versions never grow up.

As a bonus, here’s some BBC footage of what they refer to as “scenes of chaos” from the bad flooding we had in Denmark in 2011. WARNING: graphic content. Do not watch that video if you’re sensitive to any of the following:

  • Cars almost having to stop driving, due to too much water
  • People walking through water that reaches all the way up to their knees (!)
  • Clouds

That wasn’t for the faint of heart, was it? I hope you all survived the ordeal!

Gentleman With Monocle and Cane

Where the fuck are your manners?!

I may be the first one to utter this brave statement, but here goes:

“People should be considerate of each other.”

You can freely quote that revolutionary statement on Twitter, it’s on me.

Sure, it sounds obvious, yet the more I observe people lately the more I become convinced that many just don’t give a shit. In their minds they exist in the world populated by nobody else. Sort of like Will Smith in I Am Legend, only without the zombies.

I’ve been raised to always be polite to others. Stuff like “giving place to an older person on the bus”, “opening doors for women” and “not throwing feces at strangers” are second nature to me. I don’t say it in a “look at how awesome I am” way (although I am, indeed, awesome). It’s just that I’m hardwired to have manners.

Here in Denmark I’ve actually had to tone down some of my polite behaviour. Sometimes it was considered fake, as if I was trying way too hard to “pretend” to be nice. Occasionally women would even get outright offended, because I dared to question their self-sufficiency with my offer of holding doors for them or carrying heavy objects. Listen, I’m all for it. “All the women, independent, throw your hands up in the air, clap your feet like you just don’t care and do the Macarena” (I’m a bit foggy on the exact Destiny’s Child lyrics).

Bodoland India Women Girls Dancing Ceremonial

Exhibit A: Independent Women

Thing is, it seems this has deteriorated to the point where everybody is so independent that they stop caring about how their actions affect others. That’s not being independent, that’s being a selfish prick. So for those people who forgot how to co-exists with others, I’ve devised this handy guide for common social situations. If you’re already a considerate person, think of this as a refresher. Also, keep being awesome. If you’re one of the selfish pricks, you’ve probably gone off in search of a site that doesn’t chastise you.

It’s OK, we’ll just laugh at you behind your back.

1. Buses (trains, metro, tandem bikes) are not only for you

You’ll probably find it hard to believe, but your backpack does not have feelings. It won’t be offended if you don’t reserve a seat for it. It will be just as comfortable on your lap as it would be on an otherwise empty seat next to you. You know who may want to use the seat? Hint: the answer rhymes with “other people”, because it is, in fact, “other people”.

So cut that shit out. Stop sitting by the aisle, blocking others and reserving the empty window seat for your invisible friend Bob. Stop putting your shit on the seat next to you, just to carve out some of that “personal space”. If you want “personal space”, go live in a cage.

2. Doors just want to be held

Most doors are designed to be closed when not being actively held open. They are also solid objects, which makes it difficult for people walking behind you to walk through them. Holding them for someone is the easiest way to tell them “I’m not an asshole”. Try it.

On the flip side, if someone’s holding the door for you, here are helpful tips on making them not want to murder you:

a) Avoid strolling through the door they are holding for you, without offering to take over or even acknowledging their existence. They are legally allowed to put a gypsy curse on your whole family if you do. Look it up.

b) Do make an effort to speed up if you have some distance to close. That way you’ll get some exercise and show appreciation for another human being’s politeness. It’s a 2-for-1 deal you rarely see outside of discount supermarket chains.

c) A smile and a “thanks” is in order. If you can’t muster the energy to move your jaw or are mute, a simple nod will work. If you are physically unable to nod, you may want to take a trip to the doctor instead of walking through doors like some kind of a door-walking-person-thing. I’ll work on my imagery if you promise to work on not being a shitty person.

3. People are not walk-through

Until teleportation technology is perfected, we’ll have to stick to the old fashioned “moving through empty space” method to get somewhere. If you’re blocking the only exit route from a train with your body, people won’t be able to exit the train. Interestingly, you won’t be able to enter the train, because none of you are ghosts.

You would think that simply understanding the laws of physics would help you get this fact. Yet somehow the Danish transportation authorities found it necessary to actually film an instructional video on how to properly make space for people exiting a train. If you were ever wondering why they did that, it’s because of you. You have made them waste money on this instead of making trains run properly. You suck in so many ways.

Equally, this doesn’t stop being true after you exit the train. If there are people exiting the train behind you and you stop immediately outside the exit to check your phone or scout for birds, they are legally allowed to trample you and then put a gypsy curse on your whole family. Truly I speak the truth, verily.

___________________________________________________

I think I should start working on a series of instructional and motivational books. I feel I’m born to do this, don’t you think? What about you, what are your pet peeves of late? Have you ever tried walking through other people to see what happens?

Yellow Bus

I don’t know!

This week’s challenge at Dude Write is to tell an embarrassing true story, but keep it under 1500 characters.

That’s around 200-300 words.

Damnit, but I like my words!

Anyways, here we go:

I moved to Denmark from Ukraine at the age of 14. I spoke no Danish at the time, because Russian and Danish languages are a bit different. Shocking, I know.

I did learn one phrase though. That phrase was “Det ved jeg ikke”, Danish for “I don’t know”. From that point on I used that phrase liberally to get out of all conversations. I was exactly 4% more eloquent than Hodor from Game Of Thrones, who only ever says “Hodor”.

One day I was on a bus, when a kindergarten teacher with 10 children in tow got on. She took all the kids to the back of the bus where I sat and started saying something to me.

I countered with my perfectly rehearsed “Det ved jeg ikke”.

Suddenly, the woman looked very upset and, in an angry voice, said “Det ved du ikke?!” (“du” is “you” in Danish).

I shook my head “no”, puzzled by her violent reaction to my poor Danish skills. How could I have upset her so much with my limited vocabulary?

Then she grabbed one of the kids, sat down sulkily next to me, and plopped the kid onto her lap. She kept glancing at me and shaking her head in frustration.

It was only after a few stops that I’d managed to piece the puzzle together in my head. She must have asked me whether I could move to another seat, so that she could sit down together with all the kids. When I said “I don’t know” she heard “I will not“.

Fun fact: “vil” (will) and “ved” (know) sound remarkably similar.

So I have effectively told her and the kids to go screw themselves.

Class act, Daniel.

Nest Digest: “Stressing over dressing”

We’re back with another installment of Nest Digest.

Quick recap for those new to Nest Digest series:

Denmark is a quiet place, therefore a mouse finding a piece of cheese is usually considered news of national importance. During the many slow news days I collect front page articles from Denmark’s two free newspapers – MetroXpress and 24Timer. I then bring you this urgent news, because the world must know!

Today I only have one headline for you, but it’s a good one. This, my friends, was the main front page headline of today’s 24timer newspaper:

Dressing Can Make You Stressed

Translation: “Watch out: Dressing can make you stressed

You’re probably thinking: “OK, Daniel, this is actually pretty legitimate news. If scientists have just discovered an ingredient in our salad dressing that can decrease our body’s stress tolerance, then it’s pretty vital for us to know. We should be alerted of these kinds of shenanigans by dressing manufacturers!”

Oh, you poor misled soul. Not only do you use silly words like “shenanigans”, you also have missed the point of this story entirely. This isn’t about dressing physically making you ill. This is about health-conscious people stressing over their food choices after buying dressing.

No, really.

So say one day Søren Stressensen goes out to buy himself some nice vegetables to make a salad. He figures, “Hey, you know what’s good with salad? Salad dressing!” (Søren’s smart). So he picks up some salad dressing to go with those delicious tomatoes, spinach and marinated plums (Søren’s disgusting).

However, when he gets home, something happens to Søren. He can no longer sleep, he cannot eat, all he can do is agonize over buying that damn dressing. He should have known better. He knew dressing wasn’t good for him, but he bought it anyways. That night Søren is permanently confined to a mental institution, his last human words being: “Dressing kills! Free Tibet! Also, barbarabarlabaBRABA!”.

OK so I’m exaggerating a bit (Søren doesn’t actually know of Tibet). But the newspaper really wants us to believe it’s a major issue plaguing Denmark. They have dedicated two whole pages inside the newspaper to the issue of dressing stress, complete with consumer interviews, related stories and expert opinions.

I must admit that, on some level, I’m quite impressed by the Danish media’s ability to turn anything into a story. I think I’ll go pitch them an article about this sandwich I once ate…