Archive for August, 2008

Hold the front page…..NOT

I’ve mentioned the level of journalism you’ll find in some of the papers here before. Today I read a Pulitzer prize possibility in USA Today (the newspaper you step over when you leave a hotel room in the US). Anyway, today’s gripping front page news (below the fold but still front page) was that 21 year olds get shitfaced to mark the ability to drink legally. Who knew? Lucky we have such insights or we wouldn’t know what was going on in the world.


Additional insights include the shock revelations that, during the 24 hours surrounding their 21st birthday celebrations 54% experienced a hangover (surely not), 34% threw up and amazingly 26% suffered embarrassment.

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When bigger is better

I know I spend quite a lot of time bashing some of the stuff out here (don’t mention the food – urgh). Anyway there is one thing that is waaaaaay better. Don’t laugh but it is washing machines. Yes they are butt ugly but they are HUGE so you can get masses of stuff in, but they also only need 20 mins or so to wash your clothes. The fact that they are ugly isn’t a drama as they won’t really fit into most kitchens anyway – as you can see this is in the cellar. I guess that’s why you don’t see them in Europe.

washing machine

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Turning into a boy here

I’ve never been much of a fan of TV stands. Well actualy that’s not quite true – they have always been in the same category as white goods and lawn mowers as far as how interesting they are to shop for. A girl going out to buy a TV stand must be the same as a boy going off to buy conditioner or hair straighteners. Anyway I finally gave in and bought a TV stand.

OMG this thing has transformed my life (OK not quite but it HAS transformed my living room). All the DVRs/ music stuff etc are no longer scattered around the floor with their accompanying tangle of wires and cables. This thing is fabuous. Unfortunatey I don’t have a before picture but here’s after:

TV stand

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World’s Largest Pheasant

One of the *ahem* unusual places that we drove through on the road trip was Huron, South Dakota. This small town has only one distinguishing feature – that’s the World’s Largest Pheasant (yes that’s right a 28 foot tall, 22 ton pheasant) perched on top of the Dakota Inn. Can you imagine sleeping in the room underneath? You’d be expecting that crazy bird to come crashing through the ceiling any minute.


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Another thing that really struck me on the roadtrip is how much of the scenery is absolutely stunning. The trip took us as far as South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. Touring round here was completely breathtaking. Here are a couple of tasters.

Devil’s tower



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Dreams of cheese


I spent an astonishing amount of time during the trip fantasising about food. The most frequently occurring food-based daydream was about Welsh Rarebit. I mean bread that isn’t sweet, toasted and slathered with melting strong cheddar, with just a hint of Worcestershire Sauce. Mmmmmmmmmmmm

It isn’t that you can’t get cheese over here – in fact everything seems to come with cheese (even steak – yuk) but it is always looks and tastes like the plastic processed orange stuff you get in squares or plasticine with holes (AKA Swiss Cheese here). I think it might actually be against the consitution to have a sandwich without “Swiss” cheese.

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Sod house on the Prairie

While travelling across America one of the things that struck me most was quite how big this place is. Yes I know that shouldn’t really be a surprise but in between the towns there’s a lot of nothing. Really a lot. I mean hundreds of miles of prairies where there is no mobile phone coverage, no internet access and no decent coffee (Not even Starbucks).

It is a strange feling because in the UK or even most of Western Europe it is almost impossible to drive more than 40 miles or so without hitting a town. Here you can drive for a day and barely see signs of civilisation.

I didn’t care much formuch of the Minnesota I saw (one you’ve seen one flat, grassy landscape then you’ve pretty much covered them all). There was the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic HIghway we followed for aaaages. There’s just nothing there. I recall in my dim and distant memories of watching Little house on the Prairie” on TV absolutely nothing ever happened. I don’t think much has changed today. After a many hours of this tedious terrain I saw a sign that said “Sod House on the Prarie”. I couldn’t have agreed more *

*although subsequently this turned out to be a house made using an ancient sod based building technique.

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What I’m missing

Wow it has been a while since I’ve posted (thanks to some of you for the reminder). As you may know I’ve been away – a quick trip to London, then some time in Chicago then an absolutely awesome 3300mile roadtrip across some of America. (more about that later).

Being in London made me realise what I miss more than anything else:

– friends and family
–  decent food  (It isn’t that you can’t eat well here , just it is more likely that the food will be sugar and lard ridden or just plain disgusting)
– irony
– national newspapers (all the dailies but the WSJ have a bit of the “Lost Cat Found” about their local stories.
– food (I’ve taken to fantisizing about food the whole time).

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Quacks with humour

Does anyone else think it is hilarious that the name for the British plastic surgery body is BAAPS? (British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons).

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