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Mount Orégano
Sue Burke
American truisms 
3rd-Oct-2012 11:55 am

I don’t get back to the United States every year, so when I do, I find surprises. This year, I spent August 24 to September 8 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, visiting family and friends, and Chicago, Illinois, attending Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention. Here are some observations:

American steakhouses are a true culinary treasure and should be celebrated. Although Spain has great pork and seafood, its beef is tender but bland. That’s because in Spain, the animals are slaughtered a year younger than in the US, so their flavor is less developed. I yearned for some good American beef. And oh my God, is it good.

Speaking of food, I observed in several supermarkets that home cooking seems to be on the wane. I could have bought ready-made anything. Although there does seem to be an increased interest in cake decorating.

I know this may be hard to believe, but clerks and waiters exceed their European counterparts in service and amiability. Some of them even seemed to be enjoying their work. Maybe they weren’t, but they put on a convincing act.

Television commercials have not improved.

Politics in the US actually may not be more nasty than politics in many European countries, but television ads, which are far more numerous in the US, make the nastiness harder to ignore.

Milwaukee and Chicago are pretty — even beautiful — in ways rarely seen on television and movies, which is the chief way foreigners learn about the US.

The science fiction convention was a blast, but too big. With more than 5,000 people attending, almost everyone was there, but I couldn’t find many of the friends I had hoped to meet there.

In the US, seems to be no other setting for air conditioning other than “arctic wasteland.”

— Sue Burke

Also posted at my professional website, http://www.sue.burke.name

3rd-Oct-2012 01:57 pm (UTC)
With more than 5,000 people attending, almost everyone was there, but I couldn’t find many of the friends I had hoped to meet there.

Wow...this is so true of big cons. There were people whom I knew to be there somewhere but I never even saw in passing. I knew they were there, but...

And it -is- hard to ignore the commercials. In Oklahoma, we probably have the least (because OK is considered a foregone conclusion), and we're still sick of them. At least we don't have a land-line, so no phone calls.

Edited at 2012-10-03 01:57 pm (UTC)
3rd-Oct-2012 07:55 pm (UTC)
At least American politicians use less profanity than Spanish ones.
3rd-Oct-2012 08:00 pm (UTC)
I'll bet ;o)
4th-Oct-2012 01:17 pm (UTC)
Very interesting.

I find that same arctic blast thing in my house. My air conditioner seems to have one setting...cold. Either it's cold or its off. There must be a better way.
4th-Oct-2012 08:41 pm (UTC)
We only have one small room air conditioner in our house, and it's job is to protect the computers in our home office -- in the rest of the house, I open the windows in May and close them in October. Not the best way, either. At the height of summer, dinner is a salad. Every day.

Edited at 2012-10-04 08:41 pm (UTC)
4th-Oct-2012 10:32 pm (UTC)
When I grew up, in New York, no one had air conditioning at all...but it is so horribly muggy down here in Virginia (except for this year, which was rather nice), that it is very uncomfortable without it.

Though if the air conditioning had a dehumitifer setting, that would probably solve a lot.
5th-Oct-2012 12:50 pm (UTC)
It's so dry here that we have an evaporative cooler, or swamp cooler as they're called in Texas. It's a fan that draws the air through a wet screen to cool it. It works pretty well, and the humidity is welcome.
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