Archive for April, 2008

Two nations divided by a common language

Giant Tioga

Over here SO many people have RVs – recreational vehicles. Otherwise known as shed draggers. This has never made any sense to me as they are ugly and HUGE and the cost of driving one around has to be more than petrol for a car + the cost of a nice hotel (and the RV parks seem to be a) pikey magnets and b) always in the most horrible locations.

Anyway – I was riding around recently when I spotted the name of a particularly common brand. I almost fell off the bike. It turns out that a large proportion of Americans drive around in giant Tiogas. Hilarious.

On a sort of related note – this made me laugh out loud – there’s nothing funnier than a government office taking itself too seriously: From the Register “UK Office of Government Commerce Cracks one off”

And a follow on thread: What happens when designers go bad/ blind.

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Restaurant etiquette


Imagine you’re having one of those wonderful meals (think French style dinner) that drift on for hours with languid gaps between courses where the food is important but not the only reason for being there.

That wouldn’t happen in the US.

Not just becuase of the food (obviously a major factor but I won’t go into that now) but because as soon as your cutlery has touched the plate it is whisked away, regardless of whether everyone else has finished. So even working in Pizza Hut (surprise revelation for you there- promise not to tell?) we never cleared so much as a side plate until all diners had finished. Here, even in a smart restaurant they clear things away immediately. I don’t like it – it makes me feel rushed and uncomfortable – they are obviously trying to get you out the door asap.

Another weird thing is how the locals use cutlery here – almost noone uses a knife and fork simulataneously. The way to eat, eg a steak is to cut some chunks off, swap fork into right hand and then stab the bits and then swap hands again if more chunks need cutting off. The first time this was pointed out to me I was horrified then when I recovered from the initial shock I thinkI giggled through an entire meal.


Daily memories of home that make me smile

There are a lot of good things about being here but I do miss my friends and family. I keep some things around the house that always make me think fondly of them. I’ve already mentioned my fabulous pictures that I bought from Alex as a moving present to myself.

Baubles Sofa

Every single day I see these they make me smile. I also love the plate that Annabel made and painted and gave me for Christmas. I hope she won’t mind that I use it to prop spoons on when I’m cooking.

Another favourite is the wonderful Japanese Mobile given to me by Catherine. This sits on my kitchen windowsill and dances in imperceptable breezes. I gave a similar mobile to Catherine several years ago. What I love so much about my one is that she has enjoyed hers so much she gave me one too.

Mobile kitchen

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Avoiding helment hair

I hadn’t realised quite how much I’d been dreading getting my hair cut here – but I have. I’ve seen so many women here with scary helmet hair the thought of leaving a hairdressers looking like that terrorised me. The preference seems to be for overly puffy and over hairsprayed middle aged hairstyles – these are particularly prevalent outside major city centres. (Think Hilary Clinton or Condoleeza Rice getting out of a plane – the hair is RIGID.) Urgh.

Anyway – I was reccommended a hairdresser. I went. I had my hair cut. She did exactly what I asked for and even blow dryed it as I’d asked. So that leads me to only one conclusion: they must all go in and ask for middle aged hair with all the bounce of Darth Vader’s helment. Scary.

Darth Vader

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Vegas circus shows

There are FOUR cirque de soleil shows in Vegas – so I thought I’d go an check one of them out.

1 – Zoomanity – already seen and wasn’t that impressed
2 – Love – Beetles focussed so could be amazing or crap but sold out anyway
3 – O – water based show that sounded amazing but closed the night I was available
4 – Ka – the write up didn’t grab me. I was looking for fabulous acrobats and aerialists not costumes…

So that’s how I ended up going to see Le Reve at the Wynn (so I’m lazy that’s where I was staying). Another water focussed show. Actually it was fun. The theatre was stunning – I’ve included a picture here to give you an idea of the atmostphere.

Le Reve

It was beautifully produced, packed with impressive bodies, great dancing and diving, however the actual standard of the circus stuff wasn’t up to Cirque standard. The greatest crowd pleasers were people dropping into the water from way up in the gantries. Showcasing an ability to *ahem* let go. Woo hoo.

Reve tree

Still I left feeling really good and only slightly damp. I enjoyed the show but what cheered me up most of all was the fact that it underlined to me that it’s not what you do, it is how you do it when it comes to performance. So there’s possibly hope for me yet.

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Slot machines…I just don’t get them

I tried my first ever slot machine tonight. I had high expectations – all those flashing lights, bells and whistles. I even got someone to show me how to do it. Basically you just push a button and the wheels go round. Sometimes you win and mostly you don’t. “But that can’t be all there is to it?” I kept protesting. Apparently it is.

I lasted 5 minutes. I’m not the gambling sort at the best of times but there’s just nothing to it. And the rows and rows of slots are just seedy – even in a smart hotel you look around and see at all the people shuffling dead eyed from one machine to another, pushng buttons like automata. I just don’t get it.

Still I managed to make the princeley sum of $29 (OK so I did start with a voucher for $25 credit).

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Dinner in Venice

Last night I had dinner in Venice. Or more specifically in the Venitian hotel as I’m still in Vegas. The restaurant was Italian bistro style, set under a beautiful blue sky with light fluffy clouds in a cobbled square, lined with shops and full of performers and people strolling around. There was even a canal complete with gondolas. The crazy thing was that this was INDOORS. Even weirder it was UPSTAIRS above the casino floor. (Who puts canals upstairs? I told you this place was crazy).


It was great though – fantastic Italian food including one of my favourites – arancini di riso, good wine and all far away from all the bling and wildly coloured casino carpets that make your head spin. And even though this was all indoors, the clever lighting (Ok and the fact that the sky was painted on the ceiling) made it feel like it was outdoors.


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Vegas … where elephants go to die

Las Vegas

I’m back in Las Vegas for a trade show. It is my second trip this year – and the place doesn’t get any less weird. Everything is full on bling. It starts with the slot machines at the gate when you step off the plane. I’m even quite sure I saw “menopause the musical”

Also it seems to be some sort of elephants’ graveyard- I really think it is where old singers go to die. Engelbert Humperdink is here, so are Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis and Celine Dion of course… who knew most of them were still alive?

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