Letter 3 (page 4)

I do like ...

There are a number of things I do like here:

  • The price labels in the supermarkets have a section that tells you the price per unit of weight or volume. This makes it simple to compare two brands when the products come in different sized packages.
  • I have no figures but I think car theft must be less of a problem than in Sydney as there are plenty of unlocked cars, often with the window down, in every car park.
  • It seems that the Post Office takes 3+ days to deliver a letter but they deliver on Saturday and Post Offices are open from 7.30 am weekdays and on Saturday morning.
  • Since dogs can transmit the disease rabies to humans, dog control is much stricter than Australia. I don't think I've seen a single dog running loose. Most people put their rubbish out in plastic bags rather than bins as it seems that they wont be disturbed.
  • There are no cockroaches and very few ants.
  • The NBC national news is just news (if O.J. Simpson counts as news). There is no sport or weather; there are local news broadcasts if you are interested in these things. We normally watch NBC news then the British ITN news.
  • Late night shopping every night can be handy though its only possible because labour rates are low.

The best thing though, until the novelty wore off, is radio station KIMN which plays only "70s feel-good oldies". How refreshing it is to hear Tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree, the Mixtures singing The pushbike song, our own Olivia with Take the chains away, Boston with More than a feeling and ELO with Don't bring me down.

They can't help it - they're American ...

There are so many bizarre things that I feel I must comment on:

(Something is missing here - corrupted in the computer meltdown.)

I continue to be surprised at how many things have different names. We all know to say sweater, not jumper but you will be met with total confusion unless you say turn signals, not indicators (incidentally, many Colorado drivers don't use them), denatured alcohol, not methylated spirits, to go, not take away, comforter, not doona, licence plates, not number plates and wildfires, not bushfires.

A shop assistant approached me once and asked if I needed any help and I made the mistake of saying "No, I'm 'right" meaning I'm OK. His look suggested he thought I was using right as the opposite of wrong and he was therefore having difficulty understanding what there was to be right or wrong about. Did he think I was trying to pick an argument with him?

Tom Brokaw normally reads the NBC news. No problem there but his name is now part of the name of the program. Thus, when he is away, the graphics leading into the news still say "NBC News with Tom Brokaw" and a voice says "This is NBC News with Tom Brokaw - tonight with Fred Smith".

The garbage collection system has to be seen to be believed. [I've since discovered that other places have mechanized pick up - June 99.] In Australia, I think most councils have started using private contractors, rather than run their own trucks and keeping their own staff. Here, it appears that every household (or in our case, the Home Owners Association) is responsible for hiring their own private contractor, so a truck may drive half a mile before the next bin. The driver does it without help, so in our complex of 55 townhouses, he picks up the garbage from one or two units, jumps in the truck to drive 5-10 m, jumps out for the next pickup, drives another 5-10 m and so on. I had expected that there would be standard-sized bins and as they do in Turramurra, the driver would use a mechanical arm to grab the bin and empty it into the truck. As a concession to the driver, there are two steering wheels and sets of pedals, so he can jump in on either side. There is no collection for recyclables.

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