Thoughts on the US

More lanes than an Aussie could imagine!
More lanes than an Aussie could imagine!

When I wrote this, it was our second last day in the US, we hired a car to tide us to our 10pm departure tomorrow.  It’s a pretty smart way to handle our luggage as we’ll have ‘checked out’ of our Airbnb.  The travel took us to Sauscilito, then south to Palo Alto and Moutain View.  To tech nerds, those are the homes of Facebook and Google.

I think I geeked out more than the BF and took lots of photos of the Google bikes and the general sites of what is possibly one of the biggest game changers in my adulthood.  Ten or twenty years ago, there were googles you swam with and a Google was a large number.  Now, it’s a verb.

The campus is much like a lot of the US – low level sprawl. Many building but none more than a few stories. Our return to San Francisco was between 5 -6pm, so we got to see a fair bit of traffic.  It made me somewhat hopeless about how American ‘is’.  This highway nation – things so spread out.  It’s just incredible to think people make these lengthy, congested commutes every day.  I can’t believe the level of industry I drove past – not heavy industry, but this medium level for the developed world – strange centres, huge hotels in the middle of an urban nothingness.  I feel lucky to have travelled to and seen so much of Europe and know that they present a slightly more balanced approach to life and work, and consumerism.  I know it’s not all rosy in Europe, but I just feel like they work harder to balance the pros and cons of everything.

via
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I suppose my melancholy isn’t aided by my current reading, a book I found in the Airbnb and am racing to get finished before we check out called Fast Food Nation.  I’ve been sickened by the accounts of how mega companies have lobbied government and got away with murder. quite literally.  There are meat packing plants that operate such that people have limbs amputated by machines, or have respiratory problems from cleaning everything with hoses at scalding temperature and bleach.  These cleaners are lower than the low that are those people who work in slaughterhouses, often illiterate, if not illegal migrants too.  And then there’s the inevitable infections and problems of spoiled meat – in a hurried production line, it’s bound to happen that fecal matter when removing a digestive tracts can spill and mix with meat.  Meat we eat.  However, despite E. coli being found as the cause for illness or death in people there’s not legal obligation for companies to publicise the recall (it could hurt their business too badly).  Furthermore, there is often such delays and hand wringing, that by the time the announced tainted meat is known, much of it is consumed.  Oh, and of course the meat distributors are the least likely to spoil their contracts by disclosing where meat has been on sold to – such as public school lunches in a time when the government seeks the lowest bidder.  It makes me sick to think how business and profits manipulate regulations, that effectively skirt so many responsibilities as HUMANS.  The ‘best’ meat, by and large, goes to the buyers who are big and demand it – sadly, the McDonalds is likely to have better tested meat from a better processing plant than a school lunch.  It just beggars belief.  I’m not really looking at the hamburgers as intently as I have previously!  That being said, I’m under no illusion that chicken farming, or fish farming is widely better!  However, it’s so hard to know how to thwart the greater hands at play here – I’m mindful green washing of products is just as prevalent, and adds a surcharge that may often be pure profits.

What are your thoughts on the ‘greatest nation in the world’?

Chicago in quirky photos

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Chicago knows how to make a stunning building
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Escalators for trolleys (or shopping carts as they call them)
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Snow blowing sideways, and Michael Jordan’s steak house
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Something you do not see in Australia – bags of salt for ice!
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These were flowers for my friend in Milkwaukee who I met in 2006 in France. Who knew one protected flowers (tulips under there) from snow like this?
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This stately building is now the Hard Rock Hotel where we stayed for 5 nights. Very nice! Very AnExactingLife – you can try a guitar in room!
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Pretty ceiling in a Bloomingdales
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Pretty outside too!
One of the presidential candidates businesses....
One of the presidential candidates businesses….
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Pretty ceiling in the former Chicago Athletic Association (which is now a hotel with Shake Shack in the foyer – the BF’s best burger stateside)
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Snow selfie!
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What is this? Salad you say?
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A former pool, restored to be a floor in the ‘hotel’ of the Chicago Athletic Association
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CHICAGO DEEP DISH PIZZA (yes, I am yelling, cause the fat kid loves food!)

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Last minute US trip

I may have alluded to a secret in my last post.  Not that I *know* my young brother reads this blog (I know R does, but I’m not sure about S), but I was adamant to surprise my brother, S, who moved to LA in Deceber 2015.

The BF was offered a work trip in Chicago, and some possible meetings in San Francisco. Initially I was luke warm on joining him, as I have been to both cities.  But then I thought ‘why not?’.  I have the money, and the time.  But the thing that pushed me over was the possibility of surprising my brother a week after his birthday!  So, to set it up, I made sure his girlfriend kept the weekend free, which she did, though there were many a check in, so she made sure it was OK for her to work on Saturdya morning and things like that.

The actual surprise was comedic!  So… I had his address as 236 Main Street, but in actual fact, that’s the join between a huge pet store, and a huge grocery store.  Definitely no one living in that joint compound!  Alas, he was at 235 Main St, which we confirmed by the BF asked his GF what their address was as the ‘courier was asking’.  See, something Dad ordered for S’s birthday hadn’t arrived on time for his birthday, and there’d been many an email to try and sort it out between me (who’d placed the order for Dad), Dad, and the two LA dwellers!  Alas, we found the right address, and then… The inter phone or buzzer was broken?!  It seemed to play a Mexican radio station or nothing.  Or course, my brother’s girlfriend is saying to my BF ‘just get the courier to call S’!  In the end, I stepped back and from the curb, took a gamble and hollered out my brothers name to an open window.  And he appeared!

So many things went wrong, and could have continued to!  What if that wasn’t his apartment?  But it was!

We spent the weekend together, and then flew to Chicago on Monday.  I was so pleased we got a snow storm (something the BF hadn’t experienced) and it was quite intense – snow blowing practically horizontally!  But it was just one day, so that was nice.  The hotel was selected by the BF’s company, which was the Hard Rock Hotel in the old Carbon and Carbite building, which was beautifully ornate.  The rooms were a touch quirky, and it was well located to Michigan Ave, known as the ‘Magnificent Mile’ of shopping…  More on that later, for sure

We then headed back to California on Saturday, for the far more temperate San Franscisco which I was in just over a year ago.  Due to plans being very up in the air, we ended up going for an Airbnb, cause lemme tell you SF is not a cheap city, especially on a Saturday night.  So many places were sold out too!

We leave on Thursday, so some of my posts will have to wait til I get home (and I’m yet to master a way to get photos from an iPhone to a work iPad to WordPress – it might be beyond me!  Suggestions in the comments are welcomed)

Portland is funny

If only I had a need for a kids tent!
If only I had a need for a kids tent!
Cause I would be SO fit!
Cause I would be SO fit!
I love this idea - no waste!
I love this idea – no waste!

 

Donut stain glass..
Donut stain glass..
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hehehe

 

Creepy right?
Creepy right?
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If it wasn’t pink, the BF might have got one of these
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Again, too cute

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I promise, I will FIND time to post all about my FABULOUS birthday dinner on Saturday, and one blogger/reader friend who got in on the biggest secret surprise of all – wow, I was gob smacked.

Pretty stuff seen in the US

SF beauty
SF beauty
Target cushion - I want
Target cushion – I want
This was a window display, too cute to pass without a photo
This was a window display, too cute to pass without a photo
Toothpick art
Toothpick art
What a gorgeous day for a long walk
What a gorgeous day for a long walk
Salt & Shake bathroom - cool no? A former film theatre I think
Salt & Shake bathroom – cool no? A former film theatre I think
Schoolhouse Electric - a failed bus trip missed it on the outbound.  But well worth the effort
Schoolhouse Electric – a failed bus trip missed it on the outbound. But well worth the effort
I'll take that all thanks!
I’ll take that all thanks!
I'd like the globe for a certain birthday party
I’d like the globe for a certain birthday party
Too cute... my terrarium has died :(
Too cute… my terrarium has died 🙁

You can buy this?

Surely these products don’t sell…

Well at least they make the healthy stuff look appealing
Well at least they make the healthy stuff look appealing
I didn't have any the first visit... the second visit, I wasn't so strong
I didn’t have any the first visit… the second visit, I wasn’t so strong
Who knew there were this many flavours.
Who knew there were this many flavours.
You can't buy crabs in our deli
You can’t buy crabs in our deli
This is what I did for Val Day last year!
This is what I did for Val Day last year!
Oh my, any wonder I made it back alive
Oh my, any wonder I made it back alive
Mmmm
Mmmm
Yes, I'd like those too
Yes, I’d like those too
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Never seen an ice cream version of these

 

WHAT THE?  But you know, I wanted to try them.
WHAT THE? But you know, I wanted to try them.
The choice!?!?
The choice!?!?
I want one - these are in grocery stores
I want one – these are in grocery stores
We seldom even find normal pretzels in Australia, but then all these choices!
We seldom even find normal pretzels in Australia, but then all these choices!
So little, so sweet
So little, so sweet
What the... it's a thing, I found out
What the… it’s a thing, I found out
I want these!
I want these!
Cute... though I believe out of season...
Cute… though I believe out of season…
Equal opportunities cake makers
Equal opportunities cake makers
This is obscene - and so not that practical as a catering item, as it was pitched
This is obscene – and so not that practical as a catering item, as it was pitched

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What is this...?
What is this…?
That is not for human consumption is it?
That is not for human consumption is it?
so much choice
so much choice
no no no
no no no

 

Sweet with savoury - this combo is too weird
Sweet with savoury – this combo is too weird
Wow... and so cheap
Wow… and so cheap
Wow, when powdered mash is just too hard
Wow, when powdered mash is just too hard
right...
right…

What’s the weirdest thing in this post for you, or the weirdest thing you’ve seen sold in a grocery store?

Selfie a day in the US of A

Day 1 - the mecca of clothes is found
Day 1 – the mecca of clothes is found
Mum attempting to selfie for me (does not work!)
Mum attempting to selfie for me (does not work!)
What are those kids doing with that sea lion
What are those kids doing with that sea lion
A place I didn't get a selfie
A place I didn’t get a selfie

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It's even pretty from afar
It’s even pretty from afar
I look hot with headphones right?
I look hot with headphones right?
How about sunshine at Alcatraz?
How about sunshine at Alcatraz?
A day exploring alone... armed with coffee
A day exploring alone… armed with coffee
Again, kicking myself I didn't bring my Xmas gift, the selfie stick
Again, kicking myself I didn’t bring my Xmas gift, the selfie stick
Keeping it weird
Keeping it weird
Powell's book - a book store to end all book stores
Powell’s book – a book store to end all book stores
I am calm... now I have donuts!
I am calm… now I have donuts!
Opps I've been forgetting, on the MAX in Portland
Opps I’ve been forgetting, on the MAX in Portland

I’ve been hiding in the US

It feels like a long time since I blogged.

Mainly cause I’ve been exhausted.  Work takes it out of me.  I don’t like it.  And I even don’t like it when I get back from two weeks of recharging (or should that be refueling) holiday in the US.  I’ve had one day back, and I realise all too quickly everything that’s wrong with the culture due to the ongoing restructure. The pressures of work were spilling into my home too, and it’s nothing to say of the things on my BF’s mind – his work’s really ramped up too!

The city by the bay
The city by the bay

So it was nice to have two weeks away with my mother in the US.  We spent about 10 days in San Francisco and then four days in Portland, OR.  It was a lovely refreshing cool time, without much rain (but alas, SYDNEY! It’s bucketed down since I returned early on Australia Day – that walk to and from the station is less pleasurable with an umbrella!)

I ate everything that was

  • caramel flavoured
  • cinnamon flavoured
  • maple flavoured
  • cheesecake-y
  • weirdly flavoured, like honey lavendar or caramel with bacon
Voodoo donuts in Portland - maple bacon mmm
Voodoo donuts in Portland – maple bacon mmm

I’ve now rounded out to a whole number in weight, and it’s ghastly! Even more ghastly that in a handful of days I’ll be 30, and a week later, I’ll host a fabulous dinner party, complete with catering, gown, map themed decadence.  Reckon I can drop 10kg in two weeks? (I’m not serious, but I am eating healthier!)

Oh, and did I share? For Christmas, I got SURFING LESSONS – I’m sure I did.  Anyhow, I have to fit that in at some stage, I’m really looking forward to giving it a whirl once the sun is out…

I think I’ll do some grouping of my holidays photos, I’m thinking of posts

  • all the food
  • weird things about America (mainly text that one!)
  • you can buy that?
  • pretty stuff – houses mainly, but some art too
  • signs that I love, or just don’t get!
  • a selfie (almost) every day

As always, I’ve been reading y’all – I’m just useless at commenting when not on the laptop.  I’ll work on that!

Things I achieved in 2011

*Published in 2019, but back dated to be ‘year end’ summary*

Wow, only two or so years ago at time of writing, and I’m already thinking ‘what did I do that year?’

  • I went to the US, with a side trip to Israel
  • I met close friends from Sydney in NYC for a night or two
  • I saw Cirque de Soliel in Radio City Hall
  • I did a huge road trip all over Israel with a fantastic friend I met in Paris in 2010
  • I suffered major plane delays with Delta back to the US, so moved to El Al
  • Successfully met my NYC to Chicago connection to meet a friend from studying in France in 2006
  • Shopped my heart out in Chicago (hello Banana Republic and Victoria’s Secret)
  • Met my family in NYC, having all flew into the US at different dates/times (Mum: conference in Colarado, Brothers a few days before Dad)
  • Visiting the ‘YMCA’ in Harlem where my brothers were staying!
  • Freaking out about dogs after staying with a family in Connecticut I met on the plane from NYC to LAX in 2008
  • Visited Washington DC alone, meeting up with a friend form Paris in 2010, somehow, without a mobile phone!?
  • Continued to save my pennies for a house deposit
  • Had an offer accepted on a loft opposite Mr DIY’s rental terrace, for the building society to reject my application based on the property valuation 🙁
  • Visited endless open houses!
  • Successfully bought the loft pre auction, that settled on 22/12/2011
  • Lived at home until the day my property settled
  • Pre bought furniture, such as second hand dining chairs, the tenant’s kitchen table and buffet, and crockery
  • Tried a homeopath/natropath for psorasis