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 My vacation to America and what I found there

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Aug 14, 2002
A few of you will have noticed my absence over the last three weeks. Others may simply have not. I have been on holiday in America, or as they call it in America, vacation. I have learnt a lot and have much to share with you. The recent spike in grammer and spelling standards which you have enjoyed is about to end.

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The consequences of Determinism
I think nuclear weapons are good
What IS adequacy all about????
Where are we going?
Secret World Conspiricy Revealed!!!
Diary Entry 24/05/02
The Internet - where is it heading?
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Why US bombs should be banned
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Why we should make all guns illegal
Invasion: America
One Year since 9/11 and Americans haven't changed
I flew into San Fransisco Airport in a state called California. The flight had been long and tiring so I appreciated the quick laugh which was the visa application form that I was told to fill in. Those of you who are US citizens will have never had to fill out this form and in fact, probably have never seen it before. But let me just share some of the most absurd questions with you:

"Do you seek to enter the United States to engage in export control violations, subversive or terrorist activities or any other unlawful purpose?"

"Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organisation?"

Now I imagine that the idea is, that if you lie on you visa application and they find out, you can get into serious trouble. But I would like to think that the US police would have more to charge a terrorist with other than that they lied on their visa application. Fortunately I managed to get all the questions right and was allowed into the country.

The first thing that hit me about California was the heat. It was so hot that I found myself hunting for shade all the time. I was dreading the journey to my hotel in San Jose. Fortunately American buildings and vehicles all come with air conditioning.

The roads are much better than the ones here at home. American roads are called 'HighWays' and can have up to five lanes. As such, they don't ever get traffic queues in America.
America cars are all huge. Everyone goes around in 'SUVs' - these are large off road vehicles which get stuck if they go off road. Confused? So was I. Most American car adverts on TV show SUVs travelling up mountains, through rivers and deserts. In reality though, American roads are the smoothest I have ever seen and there seemed to be this general consensus to stay on them. But I guess it's the security of knowing that you won't be stranded if you take a wrong turn on the way to work and end up in the himalayas.

American TV is utter rubbish. I don't understand how Americans can watch it for longer than half an hour without going crazy. You only get about *ten* minutes of program before another advertisement break. I thought we had it bad over here. What really gets me is how they have an advertisement break just before the end of a program only to return to show the credits. Why on earth do you people take it? If networks showed half as much adverts but charged more for them they would still make as much money without annoying the viewers.

I didn't understand the American culture of tipping either. I tip the waiter and get served faster. I tip the hotel workers get friendlier service. I tip the policeman who pulls me over and I get arrested for bribery.

I met quite a few Americans and one Canadian during my stay. My impression was that Americans can be very stereotypical when they put their mind to it.


Glad you enjoyed our roads... (none / 0) (#1)
by Luke K on Wed Aug 14th, 2002 at 07:34:25 PM PST
As for are wonderful advertising we will never get away from it, every fuck faced ready to cheat you sells person wants to crank up your volume so you go deaf yelling buy buy buy here in america. Most americans use commericals as breaks between tv so we can grab more chips to stuff are faces with, to use the bath room, or get some air. If you time right you get back just in time to watch till another one comes on.

Yes but (none / 0) (#2)
by Anonymous Reader on Wed Aug 14th, 2002 at 09:23:08 PM PST
Did you fuck any of our exquisite high school chicks while you were here? If you didn't, you missed out big time on one of the finest resources our land has to offer.

And oh yeah, you're not supposed to actually watch American television. Its only real purpose is to tranquilize children.

did you come back with an amusing holiday hat? (none / 0) (#3)
by Mr Somebody on Thu Aug 15th, 2002 at 03:24:59 AM PST
& what sights did you see in San Francisco? I was over there 11 years ago, when the Doors movie was released. I managed a week in LA, and a week in Arizona too. Tuscon is great! & only a short drive to Mehhhiko. Universal Studios was rubbish though. Apart from the Cylon warriors of course.

Universal Studios, rubbish? (none / 0) (#16)
by Anonymous Reader on Fri Aug 16th, 2002 at 01:59:47 PM PST
You must have missed the E.T. ride.

Tourist visas. (none / 0) (#4)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Aug 15th, 2002 at 03:26:31 AM PST
I think the question is "Are you or have you ever been a member or representative of a terrorist organisation?".

It is very amusing to think what Gerry Adams put down for this question, when he went to the United States to visit Bill Clinton and do some IRA fund-raising.

When I last visited America, it was a trip to the delightful backwater of New Bedford, Mass. What amused me was the great number of houses made out of wood, rather than granite or redbrick. Literally, houses made out of wood. Like, not stone. That stuff freaks me out. -- because it isn't

Wooden houses. (none / 0) (#6)
by tkatchev on Thu Aug 15th, 2002 at 10:39:58 AM PST
So? In some places (i.e. where I live) wood is actually much cheaper than stone.

Peace and much love...

I know. (none / 0) (#7)
by because it isnt on Thu Aug 15th, 2002 at 12:20:30 PM PST
It's usually because where you live, getting stone is hard work, because it's buried under lots of trees :)

The interesting thing about Aberdeen is that prior to about 1960, every building -- residential, commercial, governmental -- without exception was made entirely out of granite*, from the Kemnay granite quarry. I'm not sure why, but nowadays Aberdeen is being disfigured with ugly steel, glass and concrete monstrosities, and residential buildings are made from cheap bricks from England or France transported all the way to Aberdeen, but nobody local is buying Kemnay granite; it's all being shipped overseas at great cost for prestige buildings.

And no, they don't make houses out of wood in Aberdeen. Only roof tresses and garden sheds.

* AND CEMENT, OBVIOUSLY. -- because it isn't

Adams claims he was never in the IRA... (none / 0) (#18)
by silver bullet on Fri Aug 16th, 2002 at 03:37:03 PM PST
As <a href="">this article</a> explains.<p>

Security force assessments contend he has held a number of senior positions within the IRA, including membership of its ruling army council, but Mr Adams has never wavered in his denials.

This is the "big lie" theory of propaganda writ large. Keep on saying something, no matter how ridiculous it seems, eventually people will believe it.<p>

What I can & can't find in the U.S. (none / 0) (#5)
by Ernest Bludger on Thu Aug 15th, 2002 at 09:27:20 AM PST
As some observant readers may know, I'm currently in San Antonio. I'm unable to find:

1. A decent coffee. A can get a strawberry/caramel frappacino with whupped cream and nutmeg in a container that would house a family size milkshake back home, but a simple macchiatto made by a barista that knows his or her trade seems difficult to come by. [I'm off to Philadelphia and Boston after San Antonio, so things may improve].

2. Cheap decent fruit. I know I'm looking in all the wrong places, but US$1 for a banana?! Sheesh.

I am able to find:

1. An impressive use of concrete, particularly in relation to the road network (as noted by PotatoError). USAians seem to love their concrete flyovers. I can understand this. I used to build similar things with little building blocks and matchbox cars and tracks. Mine had more colour (yes, that IS how you spell it) though. I also used to build impressive 'loop the loops' that I suspect would result in much litigation should they be actually be built 'in real life'. My matchbox car collection would probably be worth something now. I should visit ebay sometime.

2. Big cars. I want a pickup truck. A huge one with lots of spotlights. I had a great laugh when I saw such a car with a number of small model pickups on the dashboard. My matchbox car collection does not, to the best of my recollection, contain any pickup trucks.

3. The Dallas Cowboys. They are at training camp down here, and they are in the same hotel I'm at. I've been in the lift with some of them, and they are very very large. Like seriously big. Whilst I should be giving them the benefit of the doubt, given the short amount of time I have spoken with them, they don't appear to be the most intelligent people in the country. But did I mention that they are large?

Y'all try and have a nice day now. I shall continue to deal with a mild to moderate case of jetlag.

Color vs. Colour (none / 0) (#8)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Aug 15th, 2002 at 12:58:11 PM PST
You'd be spelling it in German without American good ole boys.

Ach so! (none / 0) (#9)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Aug 15th, 2002 at 01:55:12 PM PST
So this is your excuse for butchering the English Language?

American good ole boys. (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by Anonymous Reader on Thu Aug 15th, 2002 at 02:32:36 PM PST
We will eternally thank them, and the other members of the coalition (you know, the Australians, Canadians, New-Zealanders, South Africans, Brazilians, etc. American participation was the most important, with Russian participation, but the others did their part too).

We are thankful for your merciful and generous intervention.

It is sad that it began after 2 long years of war and supplications from Europe. It is sad that it came after Pearl Harbour (p. i.). It is sad that it came after Hitler declared war on the USA. Those annoying historical facts make some people believe that you had no real choice, that you were not so generous (but they stay conscious that the good ole boys helped a lot).

Ja (none / 0) (#15)
by Ernest Bludger on Fri Aug 16th, 2002 at 12:36:27 PM PST
You'd be spelling it in German without American good ole boys. Sorry, your point is? Would this somehow be worse than what we've got?

American good ole boys (none / 0) (#21)
by Anonymous Reader on Tue Aug 20th, 2002 at 07:40:57 AM PST
Not to forget the good ole' MI6 boys who convinced the US that a German sponsored Mexican invasion was imminent if you didn't get involved in the European campaign.

All credit to those Americans who refused to let their nazi-sympaphising compatriots win and came over and joined the RAF.

Back to the original topic, shouldn't we be using the original greek? We're all big enough to learn more than 26 letters aren't we? How many squiggles do the Chinese and Arabs use? Aren't we as good as them?

How many squiggles? (none / 0) (#23)
by because it isnt on Tue Aug 20th, 2002 at 03:02:02 PM PST
Well, the Japanese/Chinese for colour is "呈色" (teisuki), which has 13 strokes. "Color" has 5 strokes and "colour" has 6. Does that answer your question? -- because it isn't

The Cowboys are collegiate men, (5.00 / 1) (#17)
by Adam Rightmann on Fri Aug 16th, 2002 at 03:24:58 PM PST
and many are college graduates, particularly those who played at proper Christian Colleges like Notre Dame. They were most likely exhausted from learning the playbook (generally the same size and shape of those old VM/CMS manuals) and several inches thick, comprising hundreds of different plays, and two-a-days under the brutal Texas sun.

I'm sure, in the off season, they would have been happy to discuss Chomsky, Proust, Dali or Sun Tzu with you.

A. Rightmann

True, but (none / 0) (#19)
by Ernest Bludger on Fri Aug 16th, 2002 at 10:20:50 PM PST
is pre-season training part of the season, or the off-season? Or should I leave my dichotomous classification behind and join the real world where there are four seasons? I asked this of a Cowboy in the lift who was preoccupied looking at a photo of himself in a newspaper of sorts (in the photo he was wearing a no 80 jersey - do they have that many players in a team? Wow!). However he seemingly couldn't hear me over the loud rap hop music playing through his headphones. For what it is worth, he wasn't as large as many of the others (but his headphones were large).

Coffee and fruit. (none / 0) (#20)
by hauntedattics on Mon Aug 19th, 2002 at 11:04:58 AM PST
Philadelphia and Boston will definitely improve your odds of getting a decent coffee. You may have to hock your firstborn to pay for it, but you'll get it.

Cheap fruit is plentiful in that haven of American capitalism, the supermarket, especially at this time of year. Again, you'll have better luck finding supermarkets in Philly and Boston, where people actually live in the city.

Where are you staying in Boston? Maybe we'll pass on the street. If you need ideas for fun stuff to do here, let me know.

You're right. (none / 0) (#22)
by Ernest Bludger on Tue Aug 20th, 2002 at 01:28:00 PM PST
Both Philly and Boston (in the 4 or 5 hours I've been in the latter so far) have been much better than the south for food and drink. Though the quantity thing still has me puzzled. It all makes San Antonio seem all the more authentic, in that it's possibly the least authentic place I've seen in years.

I'm staying in Harvard Square but will be heading downtown in the evening(s). It would be amusing to walk past you and mr_attics on the street! I'll be the nerdy (but not geeky) looking chap with a banana and a bemused look. Thanks for the offer of information; if the people I'm catching up with don't have a clue, I'll get you to post some ideas.

Harvard Square (none / 0) (#24)
by hauntedattics on Thu Aug 22nd, 2002 at 10:30:56 AM PST
An amusing thing to do while walking into the T in Harvard Square is to look at all the scruffy "runaway" kids and realize that they're all rich punkasses from the glitzier suburbs.

There's a good fruit stand in the Harvard Square T, if I remember correctly. And tell the "Smell the Aroma!" guy I said hi.

Welcome to America... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
by Roninspoon on Thu Aug 15th, 2002 at 04:18:45 PM PST
Welcome to America. I think you'll find that our country is filled with an inordinately large number of both; gun waving lunatics who deny the virtues of the bible and a good Christian upbringing, and Bible waving lunatics who deny the virtues of guns and good marksmanship training. Occasionally the two meet, tussle briefly, and then intermarry and procreate. The result is always new and confusing legislation. The irony is generally not lost on most of us.

While you're visiting, might I suggest a day trip to the Valley of Fire, there you'll see dirt. It's some of our hottest and driest dirt. If hot dirt isn't your cup of tea, then consider a visit to Dallas, Texas or Las Vegas, Nevada. They're essentially the same as the Valley of Fire except that you can revel in a mugging or two while enjoying the hot dirt.

This isn't to say that the United States has nothing more than heated sediment to offer visiting tourists. We also have legalized prostitution and gambling, subsidized farming and the Olsen twins. I've heard there's more, but I don't get out much.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip. Or, if you've already returned, Congratulations, you've escaped prosecution as a potential terrorist and the CIA has decided you are little or no threat to our national security.

I hate to be pedantic. (none / 0) (#13)
by dmg on Fri Aug 16th, 2002 at 10:09:01 AM PST
After all, adequacy is above pedantry for the most part, but I have to take issue with the statement: "The flight had been long and tiring so I appreciated the quick laugh which was the visa application form that I was told to fill in."

I do not believe it is possible to apply for a visa to enter the United States of America whilst en route. I believe that a visa must be applied for and obtained whilst not in the USA.

What you probably were asked to fill in was an I-94 Visa Waiver which allows you to stay in the USA for 90 days without a visa.

Fellow Americans, you may be surprised to realise that citizens of many borderline Communists countries, France, the UK, etc are being admitted to our country with only the most cursory screening. Meanwhile here at home we are not allowed to take our nail clippers on board a plane.

What's up with that ?

time to give a Newtonian demonstration - of a bullet, its mass and its acceleration.
-- MC Hawking

Pedantry is my mortal enemy, (none / 0) (#14)
by because it isnt on Fri Aug 16th, 2002 at 10:45:21 AM PST
however I must take issue with your statement "we are not allowed to take our nail clippers on board a plane".

This is factually incorrect. You may take nail clippers on board a plane provided they are stored in your hold luggage. You may not take nail clippers into the plane's cabin. -- because it isn't


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