Friday, August 28, 2009


Odd Products

(It's a doormat!)

"With poseable arms and gliding action"

Deluxe miracle Jesus action figure:
with glow-in-the-dark hands!

Vanilla twist flavour too: my favourite!

It even sells wine

Now should I put extract of imitation banana or the flavour of imitation butter in my cake?

I've always wanted a carpet that matched my clothes

Imported from the little-known canton of New Zealand

Fruit by the Foot

Fruit by the Foot is a rolled up candy that tastes extremely sweet* and vaguely fruity, and allegedly contains 25% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.

Contrary to its name it is about a metre long.

Being a FBTF virgin, I was challenged to eat an entire one. I managed, but nearly gagged!


* This is hardly surprising: the ingredients include sugar, maltodextrin and corn syrup. A 21-gramme pack contains 17g of carbohydrates - of which 10g are sugar.

Liquid Volumes

Americans consume their fluids the same way their cars do: by the gallon.

Whether it's milk, juice or liquid soap, the standard container size seems to be 1 gallon (3.78 litres).

Coincidentally, judging by the "1gpf" markings I see everywhere, it's exactly the same volume of water that most urinals and toilets consume with each flush.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Odd Letters

Suffice it to say that this customer will not be replying.

Only in America?

"[The murder victim] was identified by a serial number on her breast implants."

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Is that on the grass or in the bushes?

What if you want two?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Medical Abbreviations

It's one thing to have adverts for medicines on TV, especially since the manufacturers are required by law to state all known side-effects (how anyone ever buys that stuff is beyond me: virtually everything they advertise "may cause death"). But it also appears to have spawned a trend in medical abbreviations, for a variety of reasons.

One of these appears to be avoiding embarassment. After all, telling someone you suffer from ED sounds far less debilitating than admitting to an erectile disfunction. The same goes for ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and DID (dissociative identity disorder - itself a euphemism for what used to be termed multiple personality). 

Another is that it makes medicines sound more scientific and therefore more curative. Take NSAIDs, for example. Hands up if you've had one of these recently. No? Bet you have: they're non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin and ibuprofen to you and me).

A third reason is to make a serious illness sounds more harmless, trivial even. After all, wouldn't you rather have COPD than chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or prefer an SCA to a sudden cardiac arrest?

The list goes on an on.

In addition to the aforementioned afflictions, all of which I've heard mentioned on TV in their shortened, sanitised form, I've heard talk of HPV (human papillomavirus, one cause of cancer and genital warts), OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder: bad PMT) and DVT (deep-vein thrombosis).

I'm sure there are many, many more, but unfortunately I don't always have my iPhone on me to note them down while lounging in front of the television.

Which reminds me: I've got to go and watch TDSWJS (= The Daily Show With Jon Stewart).


Colonial Pedestrian Signals?

I've just made a startling discovery: the pedestrian signals in the United States appear to be relics of - or at the very least echo - the country's colonial past*.

Let's start with the "stop" sign, known locally as the "don't walk" signal. In most places on this increasingly standardised planet, this depicts a standing man in red. Here in the New World, although the universal danger or warning colour is retained, the man is replaced by a hand clearly making the classic Red Indian "how!" greeting sign normally used in western culture to indicate an order to stop.

The "go" sign, by contrast, features the globally typical "walking man", though here too there is a twist: he's not green, as is common elsewhere, but white.

Combine the two and you have what could be interpreted as: "Palefaces: You are free to move about as you please. Redskins: Hello. Stay where you are".

* This does not apply to traffic lights, which conform to the usual red-green pattern.


Their speciality: ribeye sushi

Direct sailings for Hogwarts

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lessons From America

Today we have been in the New World for exactly one year. In that time we've experienced a lot and found out a lot more about the locals and their culture.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of the things that we have learnt so far on our American adventure:
  1. Contrary to popular European belief, Americans are not universally stupid, un- or under-educated, little travelled, self-centred and unilateralist in spite of the impressions conveyed by some of the people they elect to high office.
  2. American cheese is made from pasteurised milk and is inevitably a variant of cheddar. Sometimes it comes in aerosol cans. As with all other food, it is indestructible.
  3. In baseball, the standard greeting for players of the opposing team as they are preparing to bat is "You suck".
  4. American cars are bigger, heavier and consume far more than their European counterparts. The same goes for many of the people.
  5. Every action undertaken in America is awesome, no matter how well it is performed.
  6. Americans put ice in everything - especially chilled drinks.
  7. When someone says, "How you doing?" they don't expect to hear an answer. They want an echo.
  8. All American vehicles have at least one cupholder between the front seats. If there are two, one is can-sized, the other coffee-cup size.
  9. There are neither pavements nor street lights in suburbia. After all, people drive everywhere. So far, we've some across drive-through and drive-past banks and ATMs, restaurants, libraries, car washes, pharmacies (i.e. chemist's), post offices, Fed-Ex drop-off stations and coffee shops. Apparently there are drive-through marriage chapels and funeral homes*.
  10. Everyone is on first-name terms. If you've never met someone before, they make a point of telling you their first name and asking yours. I've been addressed by my first name by car repair men, my bank manager, an optician, call centre agents, sales assistants and many other people I have encountered once in my life and am unlikely to come across ever again.

* In the case of the latter, I suspect the procedure is: drive in, drop off, shed a tear, drive away, pick up a cup of coffee on your way out.