Posts tagged ‘people’

December 28, 2012

Drive-thru Nation

I never thought that eating while driving was a good idea.  I also always thought it was a rather good  idea to actually park your car, get out, walk 30 feet to a door, walk in,  order your food, sit down (or the other way around if you choose to not go to a fast food restaurant) and eat it without spilling ketchup all over yourself because you are eating that double burger with extra cheese and the curly fries with one hand while maneuvering a big ass truck (or a Honda Civic or anything in between).  Alas, I seem to be in the minority as some recent observations have confirmed.  We are all used to the Drive-thru fast food joints, all the big names of this world and slowly getting use to the drive-thru upscale coffee places (yes, I am talking Starbucks) although I am still wondering why I would want to pay almost $5 for a medium (they call it grande) Frappuccino and then not enjoy it because I am  negotiating Los Angeles/Bay Area/Toronto/add other places as appropriate traffic.

The latest, and I have seen it several times now including today, is a Drive thru drug store, like Walgreens, or Rite Aid or one of those.  I am waiting for Drive thru Safeways, and Drive thru fine dining (you’d get a complimentary linen napkin and probably one of those self-heating containers to keep the bisque warm ), for men only I could envision a Drive thru haircut place, I assume most women would not go for that one, but one could definitely drop off dry cleaning in a Drive thru kind of a way.  Why hasn’t anybody thought of that yet?  They probably have and I am just too out of touch to have heard about it – yet.

Drive Thru - so very convenient.

Drive Thru – so very convenient.

What I still don’t understand is the appeal of all of that.  Is the act of getting out of the car so inconveniencing people that they avoid it at all cost, although we are reading constantly that even a little exercise every day helps a lot in terms of health outcomes or do people love sitting in their cars so much that they don’t want to get out ever?

One thing, I believe, Drive thru anything is often not: faster.  The Starbucks this morning had a line of at least 5 or 6 cars whereas we were the first in line inside.  I remember distinctly one time when, on a road trip, we went to have lunch at a fast food restaurant and on our way between tour parking spot and the door had to cross the Drive thru lane.  We almost got run over by a driver too focused on deciding between the tantalizing meal options so I remembered the car.  When we came out, after ordering food and eating it, sitting on a chair with a table in front of us, washed our hands in the bathroom, and walked out, that driver was just ordering his food at the Drive-thru window.

So much for faster.

I think it comes down to the word I have learned to hate: “convenience”.  Getting ones butt out of the car and walking a few steps  is so not convenient so people much rather sit in the car longer to avoid that hassle.  How sad is that!

November 9, 2012

Of Cows and Curtains

I just returned from a business trip to Australia and so a blog post about an Australian

can’t be far.   This specific one is about Queensland, the subtropical north-eastern part of Australia where my travels always take me.

No DST here! pic:

In late October, when the rest of the country goes on daylight savings time, Queensland doe not.  Queensland keeps its regular time with the comment that there is nothing wrong with it (true) and that a subtropical climate does not require that (well, maybe).  The reasons you hear when questioning that inconvenient habit (for travel to other states  it means to get up at 3:30 am to catch a 5:00 am flight to be in Sydney for a 9:00 am meeting) is that it negatively impacts the cows resulting in less milk.

It appears the Queensland cows are a very delicate breed as clearly the Californian or Austrian cows are not affected by the time change and happily continue to produce milk.  But, of course, we can’t rule that out.

The second in line argument is even quainter and has to do with curtains.  So here the story goes: the typical Queenslander comes home from work and apparently draws the curtains shut immediately to keep the sun out.  Now, this habit will inevitably lead to some fading of the curtains which is only exacerbated when – due to daylight savings time – the typical Queenslander gets home an hour – as the sun goes – earlier .  Just think of all the additional fading that takes place during that hour.

Both arguments, but especially the latter one, strike me as quaint, sort of from the 50s.  My interpretation is easy: people just don’t want daylight savings time and for no better reason than “we didn’t have it before and so we don’t need it now.”

Just guessing, though.

September 1, 2012

Party Pooper

Party pooper is another of those funny words – at least my 8 year old thinks so.

A party pooper is somebody who ruins the fun and the enjoyment of a social situation, most notably a party, for everybody by being negative, gloomy, foul mooded or nagging.  People can be one-time or occasional partypoopers – which is bad enough – or habitual party poopers which means it is likely their personality rather than a bad day/week/month that makes them so unpleasant to be around.

The term can obviously be abused to try and pressure people into doing things they don’t want to do or don’t feel comfortable doing.  It is a way of exerting peer pressure.

“Oh, come on Jason, just because you had five beers doesn’t mean we can’t take a joyride in your dad’s Porsche now.  You are such a party pooper.”

There are other words for such people but none quite as graphic as party pooper.   Spoilsport would be another, or killjoy – both convey their meaning pretty unambiguously.

Searching for a fitting picture I found a lot of toilet humor.  Kind of disgusting so I leave you to image who a party pooper situation looks like

August 30, 2012

Guy’s guy

I just thought about an old friend and how to best describe him and the term “guy’s guy” came to mind.  That is definitely one worth explaining.

This guy really doesn’t look much like a guy’s guy, pic:

So a guy’s guy is a heterosexual man who prefers the company of other man and favors  in masculine activities.  Playing rugby is definitely a guy’s guy activity, so is cutting down trees, fixing up old cars, many forms of extreme sports, notably those which require lots of strength and power.  Ball room dancing – despite the fact that requires a lot of endurance, is not a typical guy’s guy activity.  Another important aspect is that to be a guy’s guy the guy has to be admired by other men.

The gy’s guy opposite is the “Ladies’ Man” – any major achievements in ball room dancing are more likely to make you the latter, building a barn with your bare hands and a few tools over the weekend will definitely make you more of a guy’s guy.

Another expression saying pretty much the same thing is “man’s man”.

June 2, 2011

Traveling abroad

Interesting factoid about the US and maybe an explanation why sometimes people here come across as, well, somewhat ignorant when it comes to the rest of the world.

The statistics I am citing is not uncontested, if you search you will find a different data, although likely not dramatically so.  The important point , however, is not whether a particular number is 10% or 15% but that it is not, like 85%.

Anyway, I am talking about passport ownership which correlates strongly (if not perfectly) with travel abroad which – at least in the opinion of this travel-obsessed expat – equals a deeper understanding and sympathy for different cultures and different ways of doing things.

So the number of Americans owning a passport seems to be somewhere between 10 and 25%.  Which means that 3/4 of the American population never even set foot into Mexico or Canada, let alone Laos or Namibia.

The only number I could find for Europeans were Brits, and there the number of passport holders seems to be in the low 70%.

A more interesting question as the actual percentage is the question why the percentage is so low.  The US is a big country and so it is easier not to leave it than, say, not to leave Switzerland ever but still – wouldn’t one think that at some point people would want to see what’s out there?

Cost of travel gets mentioned a lot but to me that is a smoke-screen.  If someone can afford a F-150 truck they can afford a vacation in Mexico.

Some point out that Americans don’t have an “imperial history” and therefore, unlike for example the Brits, they are, as a people historically speaking, not used to travel.  I tend to discard such arguments because, as a people, historically speaking the Americans are also not used to owning over-sized flat screen TVs – and still everybody has one now.  Maybe that is simplistic but on some level valid nevertheless.

There might not be much interest in the rest of the world.  The news, if one can call them that, certainly do nothing to encourage taking an interest in foreign countries.  Unless there is a major catastrophe (tsunamis, terrorist attacks, earthquakes and plan crashes come to mind), or some exciting human interest story (people caught in collapsed mine behaving valiantly) the rest of the world barely gets mentioned.    The impression most Americans get from watching the news is that certain death is looming abroad.

Still, one would hope that the people of the sole remaining self-nominated superpower take a bit more interest in the rest of the world  – which, by the way certainly does not see itself as the rest of the world or the non-US territory.

May 28, 2011

Queen bee

If you think that a queen bee is the boss lady of a bee hive, she who is the single fertile female in a hive of honeybees – then you are correct.

The queen bees are at it again, pic:

However, that is not the only way in which this term is used.  A queen bee is also a woman who is in a dominate or favored position over her female peers.  The term is used mainly to refer to young women, girls actually, often high-school kids who have a dominate position in their group of peers, that is their class or school.

Queen bees are the cool ones, the ones who set the trend and get the hot guys.  If a queen bee wears a particular sweater today everybody else will want it tomorrow.  She is frequently emulated and often envied.  Since assuming and keeping such a position is not easy queen bees are often mean and condescending,  surrounded by a clique of “girl-friends”  who would sell their soul to be her.

Queen bees are feared but generally not loved.  Mean queen bees have become quite an issue in the US society and so books are written and movies are made about queen bee characters.

May 23, 2011

Trailer trash

Today’ term isn’t very nice, in fact it is derogatory and should not be used when addressing people – unless you don’t care that they hate you afterwards.  Trailer trash, also called white trash, is a very negative term for poor white people.  The terms derived from trailers or mobile homes where a lot of poor people live.

Example 1, Pic:

Living in a trailer is not a strict requirement for being trailer trash, nor is anybody living in a trailer automatically trailer trash, it is more how a person behaves, dresses, talks and acts that make them trailer trash.

Another example, pic:

Here are some of the attributes that in combination would make somebody trailer trash: poor personal hygiene, like BO (body odor), bad, stained teeth, greasy hair, foul language, slutty or slovenly clothing, dirty houses and yards with lots of junk strewn around.  Beverages of choice will be cheap canned beer and food of choice will generally be deep fried and purchased at one of the major fast food chains – and that would include breakfast.

Since pictures sometimes truly say more than a thousand words I am attaching several pictures which should get the point across.

May 21, 2011

Second coming

I am on a roll here with religion and this being the day of the predicted rapture or second coming of Jesus and me giving some wrong numbers about people’s belief about this topic in this country yesterday I feel compelled to revisit the topic.

So here we go with a nice little article plus overview statistics courtesy of the Pew Forum.  So according to this 2006 Pew survey a full 79% of Christians in this country believe in the second coming of Jesus.  That is an amazing number if you think about it.

Now to the number I misstated yesterday – “only” 20% of the US Christians believe that this will happen in their lifetime.  A back of the envelop calculation shows: about 80% of the about 310 Million (307 and some odd in 2009 so I rounded up a bit) are Christians and 20% thereof believe that Jesus will return during their life time, that is a whopping 50 million people.

50 Million people living their lives expecting that there might not be a tomorrow – that is a truly scary thought.

May 20, 2011

Rapture Day

Interesting times are just around the corner.  On May, 21 – or so the story goes in the extreme corners of the religious right – rapture day is upon us.

I just couldn't resist this one, pic:

Rapture – for those not imminently familiar with the term – is the second coming of Jesus, when all the Christians, dead or alive, are gathered up and meet God in heaven, or the air, or somewhere.  The relevant biblical passage is 1 Thess. 4:15-17 if you want to read up.

In case you are not American you might wonder if this is some kind of tasteless joke that I am playing here but let me assure you, it is not.  There are people who believe that on May 21 of this year the rapture will occur (just like there are people who believed that many times before about seemingly random days and are still waiting).

In an interesting twist, even some of the most fundamental of right wing Christians, have publicly stated that this is nonsense.  The guy behind all of this, one Harold Camping, is no unknown in the end-of-the-world-is-near business, he already claimed back in 1994 that the rapture is upon us, but that simple facy does not seem to distract his followers.  After all, we are all wrong once in a while, right!

To round this blog out I was looking for some hard data on a number I once read and remember but have no source for, namely that 25% of American’s believe that the second coming of Jesus will be happening this year (that is an give year we just happen to have) and a full 50% believe that it will happen during their life time.  I couldn’t find any reputable stats on that but googling “believe in rapture during life time” I came  across and amazing number of webpages dedicated to the topic – go check them out yourself.

May 16, 2011

Art vs Prudishness

David's assets are modestly hidden in this picture, Pic: Tina Baumgartner

Here is another story under the heading “Only in America …”  This one plays in the town of Abilene in Texas and started with some new people moving into the neighborhood and putting a piece of art into their yard.  Not just any art, though, a replica downsized version of Michelangelo’s David.

David is a good-looking guy and he doesn’t wear a fiber of fabric on him – neither in the marble original located in Florence, Italy nor in the replica downsized version now adorning that front yard in Abilene.  And that is where the problems start – a statute of a nude guy upsets the neighbors – they find it offensive, they are outraged.   Especially the families are upset, specifically the mothers because children start asking questions and comment on David’s “assets”.

“So?” I am inclined to say – being my immoral European self – let them ask and then answer, its not like some explicit sexual act is being shown here – just a guy.  And: “To hell with all the prudishness and moral outrage over body parts.  Get over it, explain to your child that this is how they used to do it back in the days in Italy and that they didn’t think much of showing a guy’s (insert word for the body part in question you normally use at home, if you don’t use one it is about time you start).

Word is, that the homeowners have no plans to take David away or put a pair of swim trunks or a fig leave on him – I’ll try and follow that story, though, to see how long it will take for them to crumble under the combined moral outrage of an entire neighborhood.

Be strong, guys!