Wednesday, November 6, 2013


For lunch today we had ham and mash, a particular favourite with my kids in spite of - or perhaps precisely because of - its culinary simplicity.

As my son was tucking into his ham, I was reminded of when he asked me what it was made of. "Pig butt!" I replied jokingly.

Given the Newblets' undeniable proclivity for said pork product, it was of course only a matter of time before someone uttered the words "I like pig butt and I can not lie".

Monday, September 30, 2013

Sport stacking

For about a year now, my 10-year-old has been into table tennis, or Ping-Pong, as it is colloquially called in these parts. This summer, his coach suggested he take part in the AAU Junior Olympics, a grand-sounding but sadly hyperbolic event conjured up by its grand-sounding but sadly hyperbolic organisers, the Amateur Athletic Union. For when we arrived at the venue to register him, we were disappointed to discover not athletes from the four corners of the Earth, but rather young people from the four corners of the United States.

Megalomanic monickers aside, the list of sports in which medals were up for grabs at the Junior Olympics was equally strange. Sure, there were typical Olympic disciplines like track and field sports, swimming, several martial arts, gymnastics, hockey (the non-glacial kind), weightlifting, wrestling and, as I mentioned at the outset, table tennis. There were also more Americocentric sports like bowling, cheer-leading, rope-jumping and baton twirling which, although not necessarily featured at the Athenian Games, are, at least, energetic and athletic in nature. For some odd reason, cricket also made the line-up, though I can't for the life of me imagine that they managed to scrape together more than two teams because NOBODY plays cricket in the US. So I guess the winning team got gold, the losing one silver and ... hey, who cares about bronze anyway?

And then there was sport stacking.

Sport stacking could only exist in a country that proudly and enthusiastically holds annual Rotten Sneaker contests (to find America's smelliest shoes), a beer pong "world series" (bouncing table tennis balls off various objects and finally into disposable beer cups), suite-jumping (photographing yourself leaping strangely on hotel beds), and hot dog-eating tournaments. Indeed sport stacking is so undeniably sporting that it has to remind you thereof in its very name - in case you didn't realise.

So what exactly is this sport that the International Olympic Committee has so shamefully overlooked since probably the dawn of time? In a nutshell it's this: contestants are presented with three piles of plastic cups. But these are not mere beach party plasticware like the cheap stuff used for beer pong. Oh no, these are state-of-the-art rigid plastic cups with holes in the top as approved by the World Sports Stacking Association and supplied by the only authorized manufacturer and, coincidentally, the governing body's official sponsor: Speed Stacks Inc, a link to whose site is helpfully provided in the top right-hand corner of the WSSA Web site.

The rules are as follows: the cups in the three piles must be arranged into a pyramid - "up-stacked" - and then disassembled into their original piles - "down-stacked" - as quickly as possible.

And that's it.
Stack 'em up!
To be fair, that's not quite it because at the start and finish contestants have to hit a bar containing a stopwatch - the so-called "StackMat" - which, not surprisingly, is also sold by Speed Stacks. And sometimes there are nine cups, sometimes twelve, and contestants either stack against the clock, against other stackers, individually or as a team. But it's not exactly rocket science, and certainly comes nowhere near the complexity of the offside trap in football or the intricacies of who attacked whom first in fencing.

But that's precisely the point: the rules are simple, the victors obvious. Just like there cannot be a draw in baseball or American football games or a coalition in US government (and don't get me started on the "us" and "them" of international relations), the winner in sport stacking is the person who hits the timing mat first.

Not surprisingly, therefore, sport stacking is extremely popular. In fact, it dwarfed all other sports at the AAU Junior Olympics in sheer numbers of competitors - all of whom, naturally, had to pay the organisers to take part. But
I'm always suspicious of monopolies, especially when money is involved. I therefore strongly suspect that the founder of Speed Stacks, a certain Bob Fox, is probably as rich as the inventors of other fads, like Silly Bandz and Beany Babies.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Open Letter

To the Cyclist in the Sauna,

Please note that a sauna is not a warmup, cool-down, stretching and newspaper-reading room. If you wish to use the sauna, ask yourself if you are wearing any (or in your case all) of the following items:

- A one-piece cycling outfit
- Socks
- Underwear
- Clip shoes

Should you upon close inspection discover that this does indeed apply to you, kindly disrobe and take a soapy shower rather than inflicting your disgusting stink on less perverse club-members.

Thank you.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Before we came to the States, we used to hang all our freshly-washed laundry out to dry on two clotheslines in our back garden. In winter, or when it was raining, my home office would resemble a Chinese laundrette, with a variety of foldaway clothes hangers completely filling one end of "my" space every laundry day.

We now live in a nice, middle-class suburban neighbourhood in the United States where, like so many other nice, suburban neighbourhoods across this nation, clotheslines are completely forbidden. After all, drying clothes are unsightly (didn't you know that?). Although there is a burgeoning "right-to-dry" movement that is attempting to get rid of such homeowner association-imposed bans, the fact remains that we live in an area where we are simply not permitted to dry our laundry in the great American outdoors.

Loathe to don wet clothes lest we drip all over the house and/or catch our death of cold, we have therefore had to acquaint ourselves with a hitherto unfamiliar piece of household equipment: a dryer.

And what a jolly useful contraption it has proven to be. Rather than spending her evenings laboriously ironing all our family's sundry shirts, blouses, long- and short-sleeved T-shirts, trousers, shorts, pants and socks*, Mrs. Newbie has become a woman of leisure who merely transfers our wet clothes from the washing machine to the adjacent dryer, turns a knob, presses a button, and hey presto: wonderfully crinkle-free dry clothes. If she's feeling particularly energetic, she will throw in an "outdoor freshness"-scented anti-static sheet. But when the whim takes her, she doesn't even bother with that.

Unfortunately, this labour-saving device is also a gateway drug on the road to sloth. For having rid herself of the necessity to iron all our clothes, Mrs. Newbie finds herself hard-pressed to press even the essentials: our shirts. These now pile up - neatly folded - in a basket on top of the washing machine. Now and again, when we have no more shirts and blouses in our closet, she will rouse herself into action and iron a couple for herself. But mine usually remain in the basket.

Which is why I mostly just wear T-shirts.

* Just kidding: she never ironed our socks or underpants. Though we do know someone who does (I mean theirs, not ours).

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Preppers are about as American as apple pie is commonly asserted to be (albeit falsely). Like Tea-Baggers, Mormons, the Amish and the National Rifle Association (NRA), I doubt preppers could have developed - let alone thrived - anywhere but in the self-styled Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

Fiercely independent, deeply patriotic yet doggedly suspicious of authority in general and government in particular, preppers tend to be politically conservative white Christians from low-income backgrounds. As such, they are like the distillation of the American psyche.

So what are they? Preppers believe that a catastrophic natural disaster or foreign invasion is just around the corner. Or, as they like to put it, "the shit is about to hit the fan" (SHTF). Convinced that the US economy, society and possibly civilisation itself are in imminent danger of destruction and/or collapse, they prepare - hence the name - for their chosen nightmare scenario by
  • Hoarding food
  • Stockpiling weapons and ammunition
  • Training in armed combat
  • Learning survival skills
  • Building emergency shelters
  • Disconnecting from the power grid and
  • Buying gold and silver, typically in the form of coins.
Although there may not be the 4 million or more preppers claimed by some of the myriad "survivalist" Web sites, they certainly are far more than a handful of paranoid gun-nuts. In fact there are so many serious preppers in America that Costco (a nationwide chain of wholesale stores open to the public) stocks a large selection of what it terms "emergency kits", ranging from water storage and filtration systems to a year's supply of food for four people, comprising 30,144 servings of freeze-dried and dehydrated meals (yours for only $3,999.99).

Preppers even have their own reality-TV show (sponsored, tellingly enough, by the Wise Food Storage Company and the United States Gold Bureau). Entitled 'Doomsday Preppers', the documentary series charts how various people are getting ready for what they see is inevitable: an all-out assault on the American way of life, be it man-made or environmental. 

Unfortunately, preppers are not simply wacky loners content to play out their apocalyptic or Chinese-invasion fantasies in their own basements or woods in the same way that people used to gather for weekend 'Dungeons and Dragons' sessions. Often enough, their paranoia spills over into violent confrontations with the law.

Only last week, police arrested a 45-year-old survivalist who had spent 5-6 years breaking into cabins in the Utah mountains to steal food and guns. And almost exactly a year ago, police
in Washington state hunted a 41-year-old man who had allegedly shot dead his wife and daughter. They eventually tracked him down in a sophisticated fortified underground bunker in the forest, where a SWAT team had to blast its way through the roof. When they got inside, they found the man dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, as well as 13 guns and shelves neatly piled with ammunition, food and other supplies.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Odd products

 Also known as egg-white (shell not included)

 Because bacon is so hard to cook

 Where Hansel and Gretel went at Easter?

 Just like an arm. Only more plastic.

As eaten by Sam Shepard

Linguistic creep

Movie. Soccer. Truck. Highway. Yard.

Five years ago, those words would not have passed my lips, except to mimic one of our American cousins. Although I definitely knew what they meant, I would certainly not have used them in everyday life.

That has now changed, and I often now catch myself saying I'll kick my daughter's butt or asking the kids if they wanted to watch a movie. Maybe it's because my Americanized offspring have absorbed more and more of the local lingo - they adopted the accent wholesale some time ago - and are using it more regularly themselves. Maybe it's because that's what is expected of me in the Land of the Brave and the Home of the Free. 

Maybe it's simply time we returned to the Old World and its quaint old-fashioned vocabulary.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


This brings tears to my eyes

The things you can get in American supermarkets

Starring a five-person quartet!

Safety first

As some of you know, my wife and I are avid runners. In this capacity we often take part in races of various lengths. Travelling down to our most recent race, Mrs. Newbie pointed something out that I had completely overlooked: the difference between the precautions taken by race organisers in the United States and in our last port of call prior to expatriation: France.

In the "Hexagon", people who sign up for a race are required to supply a doctor's certificate confirming that they are at least physically fit enough to undertake a race of this kind. Those who run more regularly and are members of a club are automatically members of the French Athletics Federation, the FFA, and therefore just have to provide a photocopy of their "licence" to prove their aptitude for a race.

By contrast, in the US, where individual liberty is valued almost above anything else and where people are suspicious of any form of authority, race organisers do no require you to prove you won't have a heart attack and die while taking part in a sporting event. The general idea is that if you want to run a race, you shouldn't be prevented from doing so by some meddling medic. However, because America is also Tort Central, race organisers want to avoid being sued by litigious souls stupid enough to overexert themselves, but who have ready access to a lawyer keen to extract seven-figure compensation.

As a consequence, would-be participants in any race are made to sign extensive waivers designed to absolve organisers of any responsibility associated with racing. The following is an actual waiver that I signed and typical of the hand-washing that goes on:

"I realize that this course presents a number of potential dangers to me and I hereby  assume the risk arising from all of them. I realize that I will be running on a variety of surfaces, some of them far less than perfect. The roads are open  to motor vehicle traffic that has the right of way. I realize that the danger of injury and even death exists as well and I hereby assume all the risks that may be present on the course. I realize this race is a strenuous athletic event. I certify that I have no physical or medical condition which would interfere with my participation in the race and that I have trained adequately for this race. I realize that I have the sole and ultimate responsibility for my own safety during the race and that if I see a situation/condition which presents risk of injury to me, I will avoid the situation/condition or immediately withdraw from the race. I her e b y  waive for myself, my heirs, executors and all other successors of interest any  and all rights and claims which  I may now have or hereafter accrue against the organizers and sponsors of this event, against all other entities and people who may issue permits for or help with this event, and against all property owners of land which the course may pass. I make this waiver for all the rights and  claims that have been specific  ally referred above, and for all others which might not be specifically named. I agree and intend that the above recitations are contractually binding and if I or my successors assert a claim in contravention of this agreement, I or my successors shall be liable for the expenses (including all legal fees) incurred  by the other party in defending."
Last weekend, a 47-year-old runner had a heart attack and died a mile from the end of the New York City Half Marathon. In 2009, no fewer than three people died while running the Detroit Marathon. Although it is extremely rare for so many participants in a race to die, it only highlights the fact that if medically untrained individuals decide about their ability to run what is after all still an extremely long distance, their judgement is more likely to be biased and wrong than somebody with 6-10 years of medical training.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Changing-room etiquette

Based on my eye-opening and sometimes gut-wrenching experiences of American changing rooms, I would like to propose the following

Ten Commandments of Locker-Room & Spa Etiquette
1. Thou shalt not spray gym-provided deodorant on the top of thy head and arms, nor on thy feet or backside.
2. Thou shalt cure thine nappy rash before parading around in the nude.
3. Thou shalt not steal mine towel. I tooketh it into the shower for a reason.
4. Thou shalt not claim non-existent linguistic skills and confidently assert that Europeans are Australian.
5. Thou shalt not attempt to sell fellow sauna or hot-tub users on the alleged wonders of vacation cruises. Europeans don't cruise.
6. Thou shalt not pre-warm thy sportswear in the sauna. The same applieth to tennis racquets and gym shoes.
7. Thou shalt not dive into the whirlpool.
8. Thou shalt not sit fully clothed in the sauna. Thou only looketh like an idiot.
9. Thou shalt not blow-dry thy nether regions. Especially not with one foot on the sink.

And finally:

10.Thou shalt not prominently carry paperware betwixt thy buttocks.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Local Crime

We clearly live too close to Detroit. This is getting unbearable.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Snow Days

Today's a "snow day", in other words a day when my children get off school because there's so much snow on the ground that school buses can't get through the side streets of individual subdivisions, i.e. neighbourhoods, which, in contrast to main roads, don't get cleared immediately.

As you can imagine, children love snow days because they don't have to get up early and can instead spend the entire day making snowmen, sledding and having snowball fights rather than listening to their teachers and learning.

Because kids prefer snow days to school, a number of fun rituals have developed over here in the New World to encourage the crystalised water to come tumbling down aplenty. Although not entirely scientifically sound, they make fun reading nonetheless:
  • Putting a spoon under your pillow. Some say it should be licked beforehand. It doesn't matter whether it's plastic, metal or wooden, slide it under your pillow at bedtime, and a snow day is more-or-less guaranteed to follow. More comfortable variation: Putting the spoon in the fridge.
  • Putting a picture of the Virgin Mary and a dollar bill under your pillow. More pious and costly than a spoon you can steal out of your mother's kitchen, but just as guaranteed of success.
  • Putting a cotton ball under said headrest. Given how rare cotton balls are nowadays, if a child is clever enough to find one, it deserves a snow day for pure ingenuity.
  • Flushing an ice cube down the toilet at 9pm on the night before the desired snow day. But only one ice cube (we don't want to call up a blizzard or block the toilet, do we?). A tried-and-tested snow-producer this, though whether it actually works is anyone's guess. Variation: throwing ice behind you so that it lands in the toilet. May have to be repeated several times until you actually hit the bowl.
  • Saying "reverse" 20 times backwards. This one's challenging if your child is dyslexic.
  • Wearing your pyjamas inside-out and back-to-front. My son does this most nights anyway, so since we don't constantly miss school, I suspect this might be a dud.
  • Doing a snow-dance. The native Americans - red Indians to you and me - used this method to encourage rainfall, why shouldn't latter-day New Worlders dance to produce snow? Particularly likely to work if the dancer is wearing snowflake-patterned socks or sweater.
  • Putting an orange in the freezer. Yeah, right! 
  • Not thinking about or saying the word "snow". Very difficult if all you want is snow.
  • Dancing around a cup of ice. Almost certain to add 2-3 inches of snow to the night's snowfall. I wonder whether European cup-dancers would add 2-3cm instead.
  • Repeating a snow chant. Doesn't have to be complex. "Let it snow!" apparently suffices. Great for those unable or unwilling to dance. If you repeated often and loudly enough, the school authorities may offer you a snow day just to shut your kids up.
  • Yelling "snow day!" into the freezer. Alternate, equally effective shout out apparently include yelling into the bath tub and under the bed.
  • Placing 12 orange index cards on the hood of your car. This must be linked to the bizarre orange-freezing caper mentioned further up. If America had gone metric, this would, I believe, have been ten cards. But who has index cards in this digitised age? And how many children have their own car? The mind boggles.
  • Throwing a paper cup out of the window. Why this should elicit snow I really don't know. But at least it saves on clearing up.
  • Brushing your tongue for two minutes. I do hope this involves a toothbrush rather than a hair- or toilet brush. Even if this doesn't cause the sky to spew frozen gobs of water, at least your children have clean tongues. Tip for parents: get them to brush their teeth at the same time.
  • Drawing three Xs and then colouring them sky blue. I have no information on whether this should be done on a piece of paper as opposed to a wall nor how one might colour something that has no un-coloured middle, but then again, I'm just a stupid Old Worlder.
  • Running around the table five times. Not to be tried without adult supervision if your table is up against a wall. Injury rather than snowfall may result. The same goes for spinning around three times with your eyes closed.
  • Sticking a white crayon in the freezer - and then putting it under your pillow. Presumably alongside the spoon.
  • Sleeping on the opposite side of bed. I have no clue why this might work. Perhaps you feel so confused when you wake up looking in the other direction that you'll think it snowed. 
  • Wearing gloves to bed. Even if it doesn't have the desired effect, at least you won't have cold hands at night.
  • Placing ice cubes on your porch. This may well work. After all, if you put enough out there, you could be convinced it had snowed overnight.
  • Sprinkling "shaved" ice on the branches of nearby trees and bushes. A very unsubtle hint to the weather gods to send a big freeze. If very desperate - or out of shaved ice - simply throwing ice cubes at the aforementioned plants may also suffice. 
And finally:
  • Stacking pennies on your window sill.This one is clearly biased towards the rich, who have lots of pennies to spend on snow. Apparently each penny is worth one inch of the lovely white stuff.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


According to the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution, "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". Partly as a result of this, America has by far the world's highest per-capita rate of gun ownership, with 300 million guns distributed among 311 million inhabitants. That's nearly 89 guns for every 100 people. It's nearest rival, Yemen, is at almost 55. Put another way, the US has 4.5 percent of the world's population, but accounts for 40 percent of all civilian guns.

The United States ranks 10th in the global league table of per-capita gun-related deaths, topped only by  central and south American countries and Swaziland, whose small populations (with the exception of Brazil) skew their ranking. The rate of death from firearms in the United States is eight times higher than that in its economic counterparts in other parts of the world. Indeed, the overall firearm-related death rate among US children under 15 years old is nearly a dozen times higher than among children in 25 other industrialised countries combined.

Last December, a young man went into a primary school in Newtown, Connecticut and shot dead 20 six- and seven-year-old children and seven staff members before turning one of his guns on himself. As a visibly moved President Obama subsequently pointed out, this was already the fourth mass shooting in his first term in office, and the second such incident that year. A rampage at a cinema in July left 12 dead and 58 injured. Two shootings in 2009 resulted in 27 deaths and 34 injuries.

Since 1990, there have been 55 mass shootings in the US, yet there have been few if any calls for tighter gun control. In 1994, Bill Clinton enacted a federal ban on semi-automatic firearms (though only those manufactured after the law was enforced) and high-capacity magazines. This ban, which many claimed was in any case easy to circumvent, expired in 2004. All efforts to renew it have failed.

The reason for this is the National Rifle Association, arguably the most powerful lobby group in Washington. The NRA vets political candidates for their pro-gun stance and has vehemently argued against any limits on gun ownership, asserting - so far successfully - that it is the constitutionally-decreed 2nd-Amendment right of every American to have a gun. As a result, it is legal in most states to buy and own so-called "assault weapons" that are made specifically for killing many people quickly, but which serve no purpose whatsoever for hunting or fishing. Consequently, the vast majority of massacres are committed with legally-owned guns.

Americans are inherently suspicious of state authority and feel passionately about upholding what they see as their "freedoms" (i.e. rights) - including gun ownership. The Wild West, log-cabin, pioneering, every-man-for-himself mentality runs incredibly deep. This plus the NRA's stranglehold on the weapons debate and scaremongering that "the Government wants to take your guns away" means politicians automatically shy away from the issue. Just the hint of a desire to limit gun ownership can be political suicide. In the 2012 presidential election, neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama proposed limiting firearms.

Fortunately, the Newtown massacre has horrified Americans to such an extent that the debate finally seems to be on the table and tighter gun-control has a chance of success in Congress, albeit a slim one. Even the NRA is scared this time, though its proposed solution would be to permit people to carry guns in schools, claiming that armed teachers would be able to stop armed crazies.

President Obama has asked Vice-President Joe Biden to put together a report on possible changes to the law. Although it is likely that Obama will limit the controls on who can buy or own certain guns (there are, for example, currently almost no restrictions on gun purchasing at trade shows, which account for 50-75% of all sales), it won't affect those weapons already in circulation. Because of this, there has been a run on the purchase of especially assault weapons since immediately after December's bloodbath, with people desperate to get their hands on one of these insanely deadly guns in case the regulations are tightened. Indeed, gun shops are complaining that they sell out the moment they get a delivery, and gun manufacturers are working flat out to meet demand.

Last week it was reported that a man in Minnesota pointed a gun at his daughter following an argument about her grades at school. She had two got Bs instead of As. The man had only just bought the AK-47 assault rifle - and another rifle - because he had feared looming restrictions on gun purchasing.

The US may be the Home of the Free and the Land of the Brave, but in terms of guns it is truly the Home of the Dangerous and the Land of the Psychotic. I therefore sincerely hope that my family and I can avoid being involved in a shooting before we return to the relative safety of the Old World.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

French [Add Noun]

I used to think that "French" was a description of the language spoken by Fracophone peoples or an adjective that meant "pertaining to France". But maybe I'm too much of a stickler for linguistic accuracy.

Here in the States it can also have this meaning, though it can just as easily not do so, as the following misnomers show:
  • French fries: Everyone has heard of these. In Britain we call them "chips". Only the Americans seem unaware that they were invented by the Belgians. Briefly renamed "freedom fries" by US nationalists when France refused to join the Coalition of the Willing to Invade Iraq Needlessly.
  • French kiss: A teenage special this, defined magnificently by the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary - the New-World version of the OED - as "an open-mouthed kiss, usu. involving tongue-to-tongue contact". I may have received my first proper French kiss from my French teacher's daughter, but that still doesn't really qualify it as uniquely French. Spawned the verb "to French".
  • French toast: A staple weekend breakfast in American households, involving frying slices of bread dipped in a mixture of egg and milk. The (actual) French call this "pain perdu". Since neither eggs nor milk are especially French, and sliced bread certainly isn't, I fail to understand the French connection here either.
  • French bean: I say "green bean", the French say "haricot vert". Let's call the whole thing off.
  • French telephone: A combination telephone receiver-transmitter. By that definition, all our mobile phones are not Finnish or American after all, but French.
  • French dip sandwich: A hot roast-beef sandwich served with a side of beef cooking juice (known as "au jus") or broth, into which said item is dipped. Invented in New York - as in New York, USA rather the one that doesn't exist in France.
  • French fly: A button on the inside of zippered trousers, thereby allegedly keeping them flatter than externally buttoned ones. Do the French hide their buttons? And if so, why?
  • French dressing: Not vinaigrette, as you might expect, but a sweet, creamy salad sauce whose ingredients include ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, paprika and sometimes onions, apparently invented by Kraft Cheese in Chicago.
  • French manicure: A fashionable way to get your fingernails done involving, I'm told, a line of pink varnish at the top and white nail varnish below. Just like the French flag. Or not.
  • French onion dip: A mixture of sour cream, onion and chives used to dunk quasi-French crisps or tortilla chips into. Invented in that ur-French d├ępartement, California.
  • French roll: A circular or oval piece of bread, often sweetened, and therefore about as French as Marmite. Often used for the outer part of a French dip sandwich.
  • French silk pie: A creamy open pie filled with chocolate with a whipped-cream topping. The crust is similar to that of a cheesecake and therefore chilled, not baked. Appears to have been invented in South America. As in far away from France.
  • French chalk: Talc. Used by tailors, welders and metalworkers. Around the globe. Therefore about as French as water.
So in summary, "French" can mean using tongues, green, egg-and-milk soaked, deep-fried, all-in-one, hidden, sweet, bicoloured, dippable, dunkable or chocolate-filled. Obvious, really, when you think about it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


 We ain't from around these parts.

 When one of them schools crosses the road, you better stop!

Don't you hate it when your boss refuses to sack you?

Odd Products

 Forget hints of chocolate. This is chocolate-flavoured wine.

 Who wants that nasty packet ketchup when you can have the fancy stuff?

 Seeing has never been so safe.

 What do you mean, dogs don't need Uggs?

With this "total training system" you can jump on AND off!

Odd Words

As you are no doubt aware, I collect examples of the often cringe-worthy words that I encounter in the New World. Some of these are neologisms, some noun-verb transfers, some merely an odd use of common words in the English language. All are to my mind odd.

At the end of the year - or, in this case, the start of the following one, I compile a list of these "American words". Some of these are self-explanatory. For the others I offer a short explanation or an example of their use in local parlance.

So without further ado, here is my collection of odd words for the year 2012:

Boxing week - The week after Christmas
Jingle bell (v) -"With kids jingle belling"
Mistletoe (v) – Hang up and kiss under said foliage
Medal (v) - To win a medal
Betterment - improvement
Mosque (v) - Flood with mosques ("The mosqu(e)ing of America")
Me neither - Neither can/do I
Me either - I can't/don't either
The exact same - Exactly the same
Motor (v) - Drive forward
Foundationally (adv) - Fundamentally
Savings (sing.) - "A savings of $10"
Headachy – Akin to a headache
Peek (n) - "Peeks of sunshine later"
Fivepeat (v) - Repeat five times
Nother - "A whole nother matter" (ie. a completely different matter)
Childrening (n) - child-rearing
Right-size (v) - Optimise the size of something (typically by downsizing)
Clean house (v)
Leaningest -"Pisa has the leaningest tower"
Toxicest - The most toxic
Permission (v) - Permit
Resonate (with, v) - "A film you can resonate with"
Reference (v) - "Reference this document for a $200 saving"
Ovenable - Capable of being put in the oven
Clergy (sing.) - Priest
Troop (sing.) - Serviceman
Speech (location) - "Protesters waited outside Romney's speech"
Lodging accommodations (n) - Like a hotel, except you get to stay overnight?
Fan (v) - Support/follow on FB: "Fan us!"
Motorable - Capable of being driven on
Solutionism - "The new optimism" (Dow advert)
Workout (v) - "Invite a friend you don't ordinarily workout with to workout with you"
Actionable (adj.) - Capable of being put into action
Reach (v) - Call/contact
Convincive - Convincing
Outweaponed (& outgunned)
Do overed - Done over/conned
Suffer with (ie. from)
Helm (v) - "Our director is helming another production"
Advantage (v)