This feed contains pages with the tag "Americana".

I use this tag for my observations on all the little weird things about living in the USA as an Australian.

Plain Talking

I got reminded again today of how much Australian slang I use day to day.

My experience with Americans so far has been that they speak very plainly and get quite confused if you don't as well. The stereotypical Australian playfulness with language doesn't translate very well. Any sort of reference or pun leaves them stumped. Service staff in particular get derailed.

I recently replied to an email late at night asking the recipient to get back to me "when he was vertical again". I wouldn't really consider that Australian slang but if you were to say that back home most people would work out what you meant.

At the end of a meeting I was in yesterday one of my colleagues asked that an agenda item be added.

Work out what DQ meant by 'keen as mustard'

I didn't even realise I'd said it until he mentioned it. One of the other Aussies in the room, Woz, looked at me blankly and mouthed "they don't know?".

No they don't. I'd covered the etymology of keen as mustard in a previous post and explained. They just looked at me blankly.

So today we were sitting on the balcony drinking whiskey (it's Whiskey Thursday after all) and I said something in Australian slang again. Yet another Aussie, Astrid, commented that I did use a lot of it. Well, of course, I haven't been here long enough for brain rot to set in.

Besides, if they think I'm gonna arse about and talk like a bloody seppo they're a few tinnies short of a six pack. ;)

Amazed Medically

Healthcare here is a windy maze of dark passages all alike. I'm paying an additional $100/year to be a member of an organisation that replicates the free medical centre back home. I can now make same day appointments to see "a doctor". Not "my doctor", just a doctor.

When I'm sick I don't care who I see as long as they're qualified and can help me. The whole concept of Primary Care Physician is nice if you plan your illness well in advance.

I saw a doctor last week for a sinus infection and she said if I wasn't better by Monday or Tuesday to contact her and she'd give me a prescription for antibiotics.

One of the nice things about Metropolitan MD is you can contact your doctor via email. So I did and she responded to say she'd get the prescription sorted out. I got a followup email saying I didn't have a pharmacy listed on my profile but she'd found one near my house and ordered the antibiotics. A few hours later I get an email from the pharmacy saying their ready to pickup.

I'd say the $100/year has paid for itself already. Luckily I can afford it.

Revenge of The Shredder

When we moved to the US several people warned us of the real and present danger of identity theft. Yes, that's right, in every dumpster are identity thieves waiting patiently for your carelessly discarded credit card applications.

I took all the hysteria with a grain of salt. Americans are somewhat renowned for their love of it. After a while though, a few truths glimmered through the steaming morass of fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Banks and credit agencies here seem to be out to get you. Read the Terms and Conditions on a few of the mountains of 'pre-filled for your convenience' credit card, personal loan and overdraft applications you get on a daily basis.

Charging fees and interest is one thing but increasing the interest rate (or APR as it's known here) when you default on a payment is just....evil. I don't use that lightly either. It's truly evil. If you're in the unfortunate circumstance to not be able to make a payment they make it harder for you to make the next one. Then there's the concept of a 'universal default', where when one credit agency reports you've defaulted a payment they all increase your interest rate. Now the stories of spiralling credit card debt start to come into a new focus.

Throwing that 'pre-filled for your convenience' credit card application in the trash doesn't seem so wise now.

So we bought a shredder and I have to say it's actually kinda fun. When we open our mail now it gets sorted into four piles.

  • Recycling - all the envelopes and assorted other bits of paper
  • Filing - the boring, adult stuff like bills and what not
  • Reply paid envelopes - I'll get to this later
  • To be shredded - anything with our names or info on it

Shredding your documents isn't actually truly irreversible but for our purposes it increases the difficulty enough so the guys in the dumpster favour an easier target. Remember you don't have to out run the bear.

It's actually kinda carthartic to destroy the useless crap companies keep sending us. However the thing that fills me with glee out of all of this is the reply paid envelopes.

Initially I would just stuff them with all the contents of the original envelope, minus the pre-filled forms, and post them off. Then, after reading this story, I started stuffing them with whatever junk mail came to hand. I even tried sending a handful of pennies.

We occasionally get a pizza delivered from Goat Hill Pizza (awesome pizza btw) and they always provide a bunch of sachets of parmesan cheese and red chilli flakes. So I started stuffing the envelopes with a sachet each.

One night we're having people over for dinner and I'd made some Italian style pasta dish. One of our guests asked if we had any parmesan cheese and we're actually totally out. Until I remembered the unposted reply paid envelopes on the bench and opened one to produce a sachet of parmesan cheese.

I know this silliness isn't going to cost the companies concerned enough to stop them doing it but I figure I'm making some mail clerk's day a little weirder