I've decided to split this list into multiple parts because I keep thinking of things to include. I will do my best to accompany every item with a picture or a video even. The links below the pictures will take you to the respective picture on my PicasaWeb Album where you can zoom in and examine every last detail.
Light switches and Outlets
|Light switch and outlet with Sharpie for scale|
|Hole-punch with Sharpie for scale|
|DIN A4 Binder - Exterior|
The binders compliment the brilliance of the hole-punches well. Some key things to notice about the exterior of the binder are: metal protecting high-wear locations, hole on the spine to facilitate removal from shelf, slots on cover so that it can close all the way. Germans take their binders seriously.
|DIN A4 Binder - Interior|
The inside is also worth noting. The rings are not stupid and round, the locking mechanism is well-built, and that piece spanning the two ring-posts snaps down on top of the papers to keep everything from flopping around when the binder is closed. Binders are a very small part of life, but they are so completely different than ours in the US even though they serve the same basic purpose of holding documents together. Amazing, right?
Volumes written on drinking vessels
|Volumes on drinking vessels|
This is a difference that you might not notice at first. I'm pretty sure it's some sort of law that you have to have a marking of volume on any beverage you sell in Germany. The three vessels pictured have examples of these markings. Whenever I order a drink in America I felt like I was getting ripped off because there's no way to tell how much you've been given. If the mark is on the glass, at least you know when you're being swindled.
I know, right? Something so simple, so straight forward, you might ask: how can it be so different? You'd be surprised at how fundamentally different windows in Germany are as compared with those in the States. First of all, they don't use screens here. I don't know if it's because bugs aren't a problem or they think it's a waste of time to put in screens, whatever, I've never seen them here. Second, they put the blinds on the outside of the window. Crazy, right? I actually like it better that way because you drastically reduce the amount of surface area capable of holding dust in a room when you take out the blinds. Also, blinds on the outside can prevent a little bit of rain from getting in. Third, windows here don't follow the two-pane, slide-the-bottom-up model that we're used to. No, they do this crazy thing where the window can either tip into the room from the top:
|Window - Tipped open|
|Window - Swung open|
Both of these functions are controlled with the same single handle you can see on the left side of the window. (In these pictures you can also see my outside-the-window blinds.) This design has it's pros and cons. In the tipped position, rain can't get in unless it's accompanied by heavy wind. When you swing it open, you're opening the entire window, not just the bottom half like with US windows. However, either way, you need free space inside in order to open the window. With the sliding model, this is not an issue. Again, they're still windows, but they're just different enough to make an impact.