Tuesday, August 14, 2012

let them drink bacon vodka or observations on the current state of america

bacon vodka

just a few observations from our time in the states. it's funny how time away makes what was once familiar seem strange, tho' i simply don't recall some of this stuff, so maybe it's new in the past decade or so...

~ there's a real obsession with anti-bacterial hand cleaners. in bathrooms, in the cleaning product aisle, on the dish soap, little purse-size bottles. apparently americans are really, really scared of bacteria. and i wonder if it's not contributing to illness and allergies.

~ there's a lot of fake stuff - especially fake sweeteners and fake creamers. i just wanted some ordinary half & half in my coffee and that was a rare commodity in many convenience stores, tho' 5 sweetened, artificial flavors of carnation wanna-be cream(er) were on offer.

~ waitresses introduce themselves, "hi, i'm shelly, i'll be your server." do i really need this information? do people actually take note of it and remember their server's name?

~ the lighting is really, really depressing in shopko, k-mart and even macy's. what's the purpose of that? wouldn't good lighting move more merchandise? how can these stores be so off on this important detail?

~ walmart's new logo doesn't hide that they're still pure evil.

~ enormous, chernobyl (as in possibly irradiated), giant fruit and vegetables - peaches bigger than a softball, same with plums and the leeks, as big around as my calves, i tell you. we also had a 50 pound watermelon. talk about having to pee after that...

~ only in the states could you overhear a casual conversation at the airport between two waiting passengers on the merits of the M16 vs. the M4.

~ struck by how people who have BEEN there, still pronounce iraq "eye-rack."

~ a shocking lack of recycling. i had a little shudder of horror every time i saw a bottle or can in the ordinary garbage can.  this is part of why the US is consuming far more than its share of resources.

the French sell their souls to the American market. #latergram

~ vodka that comes in bacon, marshmallow, cake or cookie dough flavors. i can see these are produced in france, but still, they apparently know what the american market craves.

~ direct marketing (long ads on television and in magazines) of prescription meds. man, that must drive doctors nuts.

~ no television show can be watched or enjoyed with any sense of continuity because it's constantly broken up with ads. i remember when i first came to denmark, it was agony for me to watch an whole episode of the x-files without commercial break, because i was so accustomed to the release of tension the commercials brought with them. now, i can hardly stand to watch television in the states. and don't even get me started on the shameful coverage of the olympics by nbc, i'm still not over that.

~ automatic-flush toilets. these possibly symbolize everything that's currently wrong with america, not to mention scaring the living daylights out of the user. apparently people cannot even be trusted to flush the toilet on their own these days.

~ interesting how with two acts of terrorism committed while i was there - one in a crowded movie theatre in colorado and one at a sikh temple in wisconsin - that i never heard them referred to as terrorism. it seems that word is now reserved only for acts committed by muslim extremists. if you ask me, both of those maniacs were also terrorists. 

~ car design has truly gone awry. i talked about this a little bit after my visit two years ago, but it's only gone downhill. even old design stalwarts like mercedes have given up and started making what appears to be a chevy impala with a mercedes logo. it's sad, really.

lest you think i only observed the negatives, i'll be back soon with a list of positives. because there are also good things about the land of my birth. you just have to look for them a little harder.


d smith kaich jones said...

so much right here, but.

i always remember my server's name - always, always, and i always use it. it's disrepectful to not see him or her as another human being.

i love that we can still have discussions about guns. so far. (although perhaps an airport is the wrong place to do so.)

we have a president who says tally-ban. eye-rack seems no less silly.

my town charges me money to recycle, and it's not cheap. and i have to "rent" a container, for which i would be charge monthly. so i don't. i jokingly say they should make the rich folks in town pay their fair share re: recycling - no doubt they have more to recycle than i do.

the sikh temple shooting was referred to as an act of terrorism on most of the stories i heard or read. the movie theater shooting? to call that terrorism would make Big Hollywood uncomfortable, and that is a nono.

but yes - the cars are ugly and all look alike. that's why i have a jeep. and the drug ads? scary as hell.

and nbc's coverage of the olympics? exactly the way they feed us news - only what they think we need to know. when we bitch about the mainstream news media, this is why.


d smith kaich jones said...

ummm . . . chargeD monthly . . .

julochka said...

debi - I by no means advocate dehumanizing the waitress, I'm just not sure I need to remember her name. but maybe that's because I'm generally bad at remembering names.

julochka said...

and as for paying to recycle? that's madness. it should be part of regular trash collection services, like it is in many parts of the world.

Mandy_Fish said...

The automatic flush toilets are not because people don't flush ... it's so people don't have to touch the filthy toilet at all. See, it's related to the germ phobia of the hand sanitizer!

Mel said...

Really interesting list of observations. My best,best friend moved to Canada a few years ago, and her biggest observation is the sensationalized way the US news is reported. Fear! Outrage! Opinions! She said it's easier to be afraid in the states. The biggest difference I've noticed is that Canadians are so darn polite and kind.

Yes, we're petrified of germs!! MRSA, swine flu, you name it, it's out to get us! I'm concerned that I've seen doctors and nurses using a squirt of antibacterial gunk instead of washing their hands. Hot water and soap, please!

The recycling thing makes me crazy. I think most Americans have no clue where food and raw materials come from and where the trash goes, and I'm not sure they care. I've lived in states where you have to haul the recycling to centers and sort it yourself. I do it, because I've been to a lot of landfills, I used to work in the environmental industry and we are a shameful, wasteful nation. I do my part.

I'm also in complete agreement about the coverage of the recent mass murders, it is terrorism, and it's not getting the coverage or the outrage it warrants.

Also have to agree on the Olypmics, I found the coverage to be infuriating. We're huge volleyball fans, and never saw an entire match in the finals. Set one, cut to the end of set four and wonder what the heck happened. And the closing ceremonies? I wanted to tell Bob Costas to shut up and let us listen to the music - but he commentated and babbled his way through everything. So frustrating.

And it's not just vokda. Have you seen the cereal aisle? I have mental overload at the grocery store, there are too many choices, not many of them good for you. I've started shopping at ALDI and Trader Joes, because they are small and offer limited, but real food choices. I'm not lost in there an hour trying to figure out which of the 8 varieties of triscuits or wheat thins is the regular kind we like to eat.

I believe if more US citizens would travel, they's see themselves and their country through new eyes.
Sorry I went off a little, but I enjoyed your post and agree that there is much about our world that is crazy. There is good too, but sometimes you have to look a little harder.

Magpie said...

yes yes and yes.

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Yep, pretty much.

I just read this article today about the rampant use of triclosan in all of those antibiotic handwashes and toys and and and... and it would seem it impairs muscle function. Maybe that's why we're not flushing our own toilets, we simply lack the muscle function.

We don't have to pay for recycling here, but it isn't offered either. We do recycle, and I drive it down the road to the recycle center every other day.

I'm thankful that I'm out here in the woods, I can pretend that some of what you've ranted about doesn't exist. fingers in ears, lalala.

Kelly said...

Love the post. Vote, Recycle, pay taxes and travel to a third world country. Wouldn't it be nice if these were requirements for citizenship. It would make us all more aware, more responsible, kinder and more appreciative. And maybe give up our obsession with "stuff".

Molly said...

What Kelly said, I love that. Though for us I'd change the last item to travel to a first world country (though maybe not the States), to be more appreciative of how functioning democracies can work ... oh god, is there such a thing??

j. wilson said...

Having not lived anywhere but in the states I make the same observations as you do. So don't despair, there are some thinkers out there! Really, all that antibacterial stuff freaks me out. I fully believe in the value of a little germiness and don't get me started on non-dairy creamer or fake sweetener. Last week I bough some cranberry juice and failed to read the label. I took one sip and immediately spit it out, grabbed the container and sure enough, the word LITE was printed in very small print under the flavor. Ugh. Awful!

I now seem to only shop in thrift stores as they have the most natural light. It's a win-win. Cheap, good light and hey, I'm reusing old stuff!

I love the town I live in. Our recycling bins are larger than our trash bins!

We don't have a TV but we watch shows online so often get stuck with the same commercial played over and over again. There are pluses and minuses there, the minus is that I am super tired, appalled and insulted over those direct marketing commercials. SUPER tired.

As for the lack of using the word terrorism strikes me as conflicted. Americans thank the troops who are off fighting the war against terrorism and yet...you nailed it!

I hate cars. I also really dislike the general public's belief that bigger and faster are better. I wish gas prices would go up even more. Maybe instead of whining, people might rethink what and how they drive.

Okay, that's my four cents. Looking forward to your pluses!

keishua said...

lol. this is so true on many levels. it makes me sad but some of those things in certain pockets of ppl are not true. for the mass of this country tho, i say it is true. sadly.

will said...

We're the most curious and hypocritical Country on the planet. We put 1 out of every 100 of us in prison. We don’t and won’t fund schools or daycare centers and we laugh at the idea that science is more important than sports. And, come election time, only 33% of registered voters will vote.

We are armed, dangerous, medicated and generally we don’t know our neighbors.

Despite, or maybe because of, with 2+ million people in the military we will bomb the shit out of anyone who disagrees with our foreign policies, especially if a soldier or yellow ribbon around a tree is involved.

Yet ... we fear germs, dirty toilets, foreigners, the homeless, atheists, vaginas, smart women/smart men, homosexuals, liberal politics, unions, socialism, children playing without adult supervision and French movies.

DahnStarr said...

Wow, first off I think you have hit a nerve judging from all of the comments. Which is not a bad thing.

Living in a very rural community in Nevada we do not have access to a lot of 'modern' items such as recycling. I'm not kidding when I say that we just got a recycling center two years ago. It does not accept plastic and we have to drive our stuff to the center. They in turn have to take it to Salt Lake City, Utah.

The first time I went to the "big city" (Reno) and a public toilet flushed for me and the water facet turned itself on I was shocked. You have to admit it is a lot nicer than not having to flush because you are standing over a hole in the floor!

Direct marketing of drugs has been going on for far too long. "Your head hurts? Take xxxx! Your heart will stop but...your head won't hurt anymore!"

As someone that was a food server it was nice when the customer used my name but it didn't bug be if they didn't....just don't call me "sweetie", "honey" or "babe" because I will reply "yes, sugar lips!?!"

I gave up on television years ago. I just can't afford it...over $50.00 a month!?! I don't think so. (There isn't any free public access where I live.)

The reports that I have read regarding the Sikh Temple have refered to the killings as domestic terrorisum. As for the Colorado movie theatre, I don't feel that the term terrorisum applies. That along with the killings that just happened in Texas (yesterday?) were the acts of sick men with mental illnesses. That being said it isn't any less of a terror situation for those who were involved.

Now as for food...we have far too much crap in our food supply which isn't good no matter how you look at it. I have seen more of a movement back toward growing, buying and eating real food. We don't have a year round farmers market here but for the few weekends that it is open it does a brisk business.

According to the doctors that I have talked to regarding anti-bacterial hand cleaners, they don't recommend it. It takes away the "good" bacteria as well. I tend to stay with locally made goat soap and water.

In an attempt to teach my daughter that there is more to this world than what she saw at home, I tried to travel with her as much as possible. I went so far as to take out a loan to send her with People-to-People on a ten day tour of Europe. At the time she considered it a vacation but it did teach her a lot about the world and herself. It has been one of the best things that I have done for her and consider it an investment in our future.

There are those here (U.S.A.) that are self absorbed and shallow but there are also a lot of us that are open minded and looking to better our country and our planet. We just don't make as much noise. I like to think that we are the slow and steady types and will in the end win the race.

Veronica Roth said...

Read your post to my British partner Robert and he said, "Scary". I have to agree with him. I do see some vestige of Americanism in Canada now and it makes me want to scream. Being away from the continent for month at a time, it all becomes clearer doesn’t it? PS Last time I was at a state fair in Washington state there was deep fried butter on offer!?!

d smith kaich jones said...

Julie - The recycling is part of our regular trash pickup, but requires us to "rent" a separate container (you're not allowed to buy one of your own), and entails an extra fee. It must be on the street a different day than regular trash, and if, like us, you can't get it to the street because of yard logistics and space, and other silliness, you must pay an additional additional fee, in addition to the additional fee you already pay to have the trash picked up from the backyard. It would cost us an extra 25 bucks a month or so, and I know people who stopped recycling when all these new rules & regulations were trotted out. I agree - it's ridiculous - but it's what gov't does best. Charge you money. You never see recycling containers in the poor neighborhoods. :) It drives us crazy also.