Monday, January 15, 2007

Home For Christmas

For christmas I flew back to Boston to be with relatives. Having lived in America my entire life up until recently it was an interesting experience and I was surprised by the differences in American culture that I noticed upon returning.

After not owning a car the last year and a half I was amusing at how often people would drive when they could walk. My favorite experience the past few weeks was when I went out to lunch with some friends. We pulled out into the road, which was the main road for the town and the traffic on the road was almost bumper to bumper, stop light to stop light. Five minutes later about a mile up the road we pulled into the restaurant. It was like in Office space where the guy with the cane is walking faster then the cars. The best part was that the car I rode in was a hybrid and during the middle of lunch we briefly talked about the price of gas at the pump.

Jen and I walked around town, but still it was surprising how often we had to convince people that we really could walk a mile to the store and didn't need a ride. Someone once told me that the streets of Europe are not as handicap accessible as in America, but at least in Arlington that wasn't true at all. Lots of sidewalks don't go down to the road on corners, trees have uprooted chunks all over the place, many side streets simply didn't have sidewalks, and some side roads had no sidewalks and barriers on both side (so you couldn't even walk in the dirt) highly discouraging anyone from walking that way. One day it was sixty degrees or so outside and we were happy to see other adults outside until we realized that every single one was in some sort of workout clothes and running or "quick" walking. As far as I can tell walking in America is only for exercising, not for actually getting somewhere.

Although I knew that there was less adds on TV back home in Norway I was surprised just how many there actually where. Every few minutes, another set started for your enjoyment. I watched the evening news a few times and was annoyed at just how poor the news is here. The things that they report that are not important or the lack of actual news in a five minute span was amazing.

Part of the fun of visiting was eating all of the food I missed, I wonder if Norwegians who live in the America miss brown cheese? Every other day we went to a different old favorite restaurant with friends. The food was fine, but I think in my head I had been looking forward to it for so long that they couldn't match up to my expectations. One in particular I was looking forward to was Mountain Dew. I it different tasting over in Europe, but of course by the time I came back here it doesn't taste as good as I remember.

What would going to the US be without visiting a mall and the local megastores. Apple stores sure seem to be doing well and I couldn't help but noticing every time I was in one there were more girls then guys in them. As some of you know I enjoy transformers so it was fun going to the toy stores where after such a long time they were all new to me and I couldn't help but pick up one or two. Similar to the malls we went to the local grocery store. The amount of variety and over abundance of "stuff" at places like super stop in shop is amusing. Having become accustom to shopping in stores who's total size was only the size of the produce section at stop and shop I really had to question if getting to choose between two hundred tooth brushes had any benefits.

During this whole time the closest I got to programming was getting a new MacBook. I have to say I am very happy with it. The speed jump from my old 667Mhz powerbook is amazing and I can actually do real work on it (rather then sshing somewhere else). I like the built in iSight and set it up to take a picture every time it wakes up from sleep after a set amount of time which has presented me with a range of amusing photos, such as the one on the left. Touching on some of the software I must give credit where credit is due, iMovie/iDVD is slick, really slick. I video taped Christmas and with just two hours work pulled it off the camera, did basic editing, titles, transitions, and slapped it on a DVD with photos also taken during the video taping.

One task I got done while here was closing my savings account with Bank Of America and opening one with ING direct. Besides having a horrible website, Bank of America's savings accounts have a dirt floor low interest rate at .5% last I checked verses ING's 4.5%. If you are interested in opening an ING direct account send me and e-mail and I can send you a referral e-mail which will give you $25 just for opening the account. A nice easy way to get a better return on your savings and a little bonus.

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