sephira: (GK masks)
My German is barely at the intermediate level, but the here-unnamed male subject who lives with me indicated that he wanted to learn another language, and he is not interested in Japanese (and who would want to teach anyone Japanese anyway? It's really difficult!), so I TRIED.

ME: Okay, so your father is an author and you were raised in literary circles, right? I'm assuming you got a slightly better than usual language-related education. So then you know what a subject and an object are, right?

HIM: Not a damn clue.

ME: Well, okay. The subject is the actor of the sentence. The object is what is acted upon. So ich liebe dich means "I love you," and du liebst mich means "you love me." Ich changes to mich when it’s the direct object.

HIM: Whoa whoa, this is America. We don’t just shove words into clearly defined roles here. Mich is free to decide what type of word it wants to be without having its position dictated to it by society. Go back to China, you fascist commie!

ME: But I don’t think Chinese changes its personal pronouns according to case!

HIM: This is frustrating, so I am going to give up. Hey, I have this song in German that I like. Will you translate the lyrics for me?

ME: Yes, the lyrics are "please never listen to this song in my house ever again."

I’m not sure whose idea it was to have a 55 mph speed limit for trucks, probably Satan's. Anyway if you haven't driven long distances in America before, what happens on four-lane highways is this: the right lane is always full up with these slow trucks or people hauling their refrigerator collections or whatever, so for long stretches there is by default no passing lane.

So all it takes is one Boomer douchebag (and it’s ALWAYS a Boomer douchebag) who thinks Nixon is still president, and who can't possibly speed up to get past a truck because that would be speeding, and so drives alongside the truck for like five miles until they slowly, SLOWLY inch ahead of it and let the 17,000 cars lined up behind them pass. When you'd think they would be in a hurry to get where they are going and do whatever it is Boomer douchebags do these days, like writing erotic John Lennon fanfiction, or starting a war with Iran. And then it takes every bit of effort not to flip them the bird, because you just know that if you do that, 100 miles later you and them will end up stopped at the same rest area, and it will be REALLY AWKWARD and you will have to pretend you don't recognize each other.


via [ profile] runawaynun
With regards to the region of the US you are from, or now live in:

      What do you wish you'd know before you moved there?


      What do you wish non-natives knew about your area? What practical things would you tell a newcomer to help them get by there?

Stuff like:

"You should always wear sunglasses when outdoors in the Midwest, because the pigeons there go for the eyes"


"Everyone in Pennsylvania eats spaghetti with their fists; it's a major faux pas not to."

Except you know, true.
Non-Americans (and some Americans too, unfortunately) who treat the American Imperial measurement system like it's some sort of punchline. America uses the Imperial system! Hahahahah! So?

"Well.. the only other countries that use it are Liberia and Burma!"

Why is this an argument, exactly? If everyone but Liberia and Burma jumped off a cliff, would you?

See, what brought this on is that I've had a very bad week because I've been editing physics papers for cash, and every physicist in American this week decided to submit their bountiful calculations in Imperial. And I have had to write to them ruining their days by telling them to convert all these numbers, and then enter the conversions myself, which is really fun! I know exactly what a kip is now! I will be the life of parties!

So you'd think that this experience would make me resent the Imperial system for screwing up modern physics, not the metric one. But it's kind of doing the opposite. Why? Well first, because of conversations like this:

Me: "You have entered all these car values in hp. The people you are writing for will not accept them. You have to convert them."
Physicist: "Into what?"
Me: "Uh, watts I guess."
Physicist: "That's ridiculous, you goddamn crazy person. HEY LOOK AT ME MY CAR HAS 119,000 WATTS I AM DRIVING A GIANT LIGHT BULB."

But more so, it's because I think if pro-metric people weren't so obsessed with overturning the old system 100%, there could be room for a two-tier system in which physics and the like was carried out in metric, and day-to-day stuff was in Imperial. Which is almost the system that America has by default, but not quite, as can be seen from this week's physics papers.

But no, it's gotta be one or the other. I am not sure where this pro-metric confidence comes from, exactly. I mean let's leave aside all the old philosophical arguments and the fact that it was implemented by crazy French people who wanted a ten-day week and thought that the most efficient way to introduce a new distance measurement was to MEASURE THE ENTIRE EARTH. The imperial system is really better for some things. OMG it is true.

For one, metric units are too large. I was talking to someone in Australia the other night and they were talking about how happy they were at all the exercise and healthy living they've been doing lately. "I've lost like 3, maybe 4 kilograms!"

Well, that's just not that impressive. I've lost nearly ten pounds is impressive even though it's the same frickin' thing. The kilogram is too large a unit to suit human weight. And the next step down is too small: "I've lost 3 kg and 240 g!" Yeah, ok.

The same thing applies to distances. Say we enter a magical universe for a second in which a meter is exactly a yard. How do you say "two feet" in metric? "Two thirds of a meter?" Not only is it too many syllables, it's absurdly precise, like you just pulled out a measuring tape to make sure you were getting it right. Imagine directing a parallel park like that:

"You still have over a foot of space left behind you!"
"A foot? Sacre bleu! What is this 'over a foot'?"

Then there's this ridiculous assumption that the base-ten system is automatically better for everything. I agree, it is very good for math. And currency. I like base-ten currency. It makes adding things easier for people that don't like numbers. But as many others have pointed out, if you think that advantage applies to everything, you have obviously never cooked anything before.

I mean, say you have a bunch of something, and you're measuring it according to a decimal system. You divide it by two and you get five. You divide those two piles in two again. There, you've already lost your whole numbers. Now divide those again. 2.5 divided by 2 is... uh...


Now, let's look at your crazy ridiculous antiquated American weight system. You have 16 ounces of flour/beans/cocaine/etc. You divide it in 2 and you get 8. Divide that in two and you get 4, then 2, then 1, all without breaking into craziness. It's completely logical, and it doesn't involve the French. But nooooo.

Man, this might be the longest math-related rant I have ever written.

Right after we moved into this place, I came into the kitchen one night to find that the newly-installed-in-the-new-house washer, a front loader, had reneged on its promise to magically not spill water all over the floor, and was now spilling water all over the floor. And because I'd been in the other room with headphones on, this was not just a minor spill, but gallons and gallons and gallons of water. More gallons than the average American milk container, I tell you.

Usually, I do not scream when things break.  But I have seen enough terrifying safety videos for my mind to have formed a strong association between “water on ground" and "DEATH FROM ELECTRICITY". In that instant, I didn't really have time to carefully rethink my long-held but unexamined beliefs, which went something like:

STEP 1: Water

Step 2: ???

Step 3: DEATH

Or, in diagram form:

Luckily, an actual real life electrician-trained person lives in my house, and he came running thinking I was being murdered. Then he stopped, gave me a puzzled look, and stepped into the water to attempt to stop the flood. At this stage I logically began to scream  “NO, WAIT! YOU’LL DIE!"

Read more... )
sephira: (GK flag)
Part of what I do to amuse myself on long roadtrips is take note of the different habits of drivers between states. Why are these differences there? Are they based on laws or customs, or just local temperament? Is it all just a product of road-based boredom?

For example, I noticed that as soon as you cross the border from California into Nevada, people lose knowledge of the fact that left lanes are for passing, or at least for going faster than the people who are driving to the right of you. Everyone just fans out, driving in a horizontal convoy at precisely equal speed. Try to indicate that you would in fact like to pass someone in the leftmost lane, and you will be met with the bewildered-yet-horrified expression that would usually only greet someone trying to aggressively speed through a presidential funerary procession.

Has the concept of passing lanes not reached Nevada yet? Is the state living in blissful pre-passing-lane ignorance? Maybe, because I did not see any ‘Keep Right Except To Pass’ signs. Or it could be an agreed-upon trait, in which Nevadans have just decided to forge ahead on the highways side by side, in solidarity. I guess I could ask someone from Nevada, but I’m not actually sure that people from Nevada really exist. I kind of get the feeling the state is putting it on. “And then right, we’ll have HOOKER BILLBOARDS, and all drive alongside each other next to them. Those Californians will never figure it out!”

Oh, and that's another thing: Nevada and Northern California alike are full of people who drive exactly at the speed limit. As in, they see the sign by the road and think “Yup, that is the number I will drive my car at. Here I go. Whoops, almost got half a mile above it there. Steady on, self.” I cannot stress enough how completely and utterly insane this is, especially compared to the southern half of the state. If you were to represent the range of attitudes towards speed limits (x) and actual driving speeds (v) using mathematical formulae, it would look something like this: 
...with the Greek symbols representing 'the weather,' 'how many cops I have seen today' and 'the square root of how much time I have before I'm late to work, multiplied by how many texts I have to send before this coming freeway exit.'

Another thing Northern California made me notice is how much I have subconsciously missed my own little corner of Washington. For example, when I was somewhere up in the mountains, I stopped and asked a guy for directions in a motel parking lot. The conversation went like this:

Me: Excuse me, how do I get into the reception area? The sign does not match up with reality.

Guy: (thinking) Man, this woman in the SUV has just realized that I am holding a huge shotgun.


I almost hit one of those on the way, actually. I saw my headlights reflecting in its eyes, but then it obviously thought to itself “No, today is not the day for my glorious deer sacrifice” and wandered away to go be a deer.


Aug. 15th, 2011 07:40 am


Also, I have a guest column on Cracked today: 6 Reasons Your Plans to Move Abroad Might Not Work Out. It is wonderfully depressing! Please go read!
So this weekend we were on our way to Pendleton and decided to stop at the Vasquez Rocks. You are probably thinking "What the hell are they?" MOVIE GEEK PARADISE is what they are. According to a local movie-industry guy I was talking to, the rocks have long been a popular choice for moviemakers because they're close enough to LA  to fall within the limits of regulations of union laws and stuff, and yet still give the appearance of a desert-scape out in the middle of nowhere. Also, the rock formations are just weird as hell, so they provided a suitably 'alien' background in shows like Star Trek, Buck Rogers, and the original BSG. So the rocks played a big part in establishing the original Classic Spage Age sci-fi look we all know and love. I was reading on a blog somewhere lately about how fifty years ago, alien worlds looked like Los Angeles County desert planets, whereas now, they all look like British Columbia lush otherworldly forests. Then:
But even though all the cheap sci-fi has deserted us for Canada, the area has legit nerd history. )
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Usually we just sit around waiting for the Americans to figure out a way to bring down the mothership. HURRY UP, GUYS.
Me: Hi, American notary guy! I need a notarized copy of these two documents. I figure you can do that, because you are a notary.

Notary guy: I can't do this one with the kangaroo on it. It needs to be notarized by the department that issued it. You should take it there.

Me: That's 9,500 miles away.

Notary: Sorry, we can't do it.

Me: Okay, I guess that one wasn't crucial anyway. Can you just verify a copy of my wedding certificate? I need proof that it's a genuine copy or they won't accept it as a proof of name change in Australia.

Notary: No, this was issued in Nevada. I can't tell if it's a real marriage certificate.

Me: This was the marriage certificate that the government accepted in order to issue me a card that lets me onto military bases. And fly on planes. And get a driver's license. Everything in my wallet is in my married name because of this certificate. It is real.

Notary: Sorry, it's California regulation. I can't notarize it. You'll have to go to the place that issued it for that.

Me: In Nevada.

Notary: Yes.

Me: If I was going to go all that way, why would I need a notarized copy? Couldn't I just get an original?
Notary: I guess!
Me: So what's the point of notaries in America, exactly?
NOTE: I did not really say that last part. He did not look very busy when I came in and I did not want to trigger an existential crisis. What really happened is that I started giggling hysterically and went into a long speech that began with the words "YOU AMERICANS" and ended with "One day you're going to move to Australia, and you're going to see HOW EASY EVERYTHING IS THERE AND YOU WILL BE SORRY"

And he was like "Thank you ma'am! Have a wonderful day!"
sephira: (Supernatural: Impala BW)
A while back I wrote this whole thing here about why you shouldn't post pictures of yourself with guns on the Internet because of its potentially deadly repercussions. I admit, I was wrong. You may as well have fun and post whatever pictures you want, because it ain't going to matter!

In case that link was the most depressing thing you read all day, here's some other pictures pertaining to the military!

Military pictures! )
ME: Husband, will you make me a patriotic velociraptor?



HUSBAND: I bought you a velociraptor! But you didn't specify size!

(Note: picture not mine. I do not have this many velociraptors.)

ME: Oh no! This will not do as an outdoor ornament!

HUSBAND: But look how detailed it is! Let's pose her behind houseplants and pretend we're the hunter from Jurassic Park!

ME: Okay!

Clever girl!

ME: This is getting too scary! I am going to start having those nightmares again!

HUSBAND: I will call your therapist! But now, it is PATRIOTISM TIME.

And it was, my friends. It was.
sephira: (NAVY GIRL)
"What amazes me is how much more bureaucratic the US has become, as compared to what can only be described as socialist “home turf” here in Norway. Why? Well, Americans seem to have a knack for over-doing everything. Whether it is music, or sports, war or tree-hugging, the Americans simply over do it. So too with bureaucracy (and unions)… It’s a kind of “go big or go home” mentality which permeates American life at so many levels and in so many directions. Which, I suppose, is both good and bad. It has given us the Harley-Davidson motorcycle, jazz, and umpteen other icons. But it has also given us mind bogglingly stupid, bureaucratic decay."

Ok whether or not you agree with anything else in that article, I link it now because it was the first time I've seen anyone else articulating what I was discussing with [ profile] violettavalery here (and have bored several people with elsewhere). And from another foreigner too!

I think a failure to recognize this, uh, feature of America is behind a lot of the partisanship and cultural chauvinism this place gets. Take, for example, the issue of gun control: Americans of the typical liberal bent will say "Why are you worried about us taking your guns? People in New Zealand have gun control, and no one is bursting into their house at night and shootin' their dogs!"

Meanwhile those of the libertarian/conservative bent will say "How can New Zealanders stand having gun control? Aren't they worried about people coming into their house at night and shootin' their dogs?"

In other words, one side sees the extra craziness inherent in American government as being universal; the other simply refuses to recognize that it's there at all, and figures that we're just some minor policy tweaks and tax breaks away from emerging Athena-like as a fully-formed Norway.

... and speaking of politikul miscommunication and partisanship, it is funny how the word 'socialist' is now so flexible and subjective that it's essentially meaningless, and yet no one anywhere seems to acknowledge this. (It's a bit like 'feminist' and 'fascist' in that way, although at least most people recognize that 'fascist' no longer means anything).

So you'll see otherwise highly intelligent people arguing/getting offended over/angsting about people's use of the word 'socialist', as if it's a plain-as-day, categorical, black-and-white description like 'Linux user' or 'blond'. OH WAIT WE CAN'T EVEN AGREE ABOUT THAT. Dear God, it's like watching people get into a FOR SERIOUS debate over 4chan insults.

"I can't believe those stupid Republicans actually believe that Obama is a cockmongler. I just had to defriend eight people on Facebook over it."

"Hello? Are you blind? If you look past the lies of the liberal media, you'll see his union and healthcare policies match up identically to the literature produced by the Cockmongler Party of America. Did you even listen to his last speech when he repeatedly refered to ''LOL COCK SOUP DESU'?"

"Look, you idiot, this chart shows that even after all his reforms, America would still register incredibly low on the International Faggotry Index, and that the median household Internets Winrar rate would actually rise. You are such an ignorant extremist."
Anyway to make up for all this negativity here is a patriotic velociraptor: 


June 2016



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