Wild West

DSC_0440W7 is once again in the land of the free, in the land of the almighty superlative, in the land where Adele’s songs still play up and down the radio, in the land of gigantic portions, in the land where people think freedom of expression means the ability to drive the biggest car that fits on public highways.

Hmm, looks like I might suffer a slight attitude problem here. I’m counting on my local friends coming to the rescue.

Does This Look Kosher to You?

horseLast week, Liz Lui described a Korean BBQ-inspired marinade, listing a quarter of a spoon of Kosher salt as one ingredient. Kosher Salt? I have seen this mentioned a few times, so I finally made my way over to Wikipedia.  Allow me to quote:

“The term "kosher salt" derives from Germany and not from its being made in accordance with the guidelines for kosher foods as written in the Torah (nearly all salt is kosher, including ordinary table salt), but rather due to its use in making meats kosher. ” [^]

I can’t be sure, but believe Kosher Salt is what the Germans call Pökelsalz, salt for use in food preservation. The reference to the German expression of making meats kosher is an amusing linguistic round-trip though. Surely, the word Kosher originates in Yiddish, and probably once meant exactly that: in accordance to the rules detailed in the Torah. Used in colloquial German, the word now has the wider meaning of “OK,” “good,” “eatable.” A crook isn’t a kosher person either.

Kosher Salt. I learn something every day.


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The Four Corners of the Sky

airplane Some while ago, I recommended Michael Malone‘s Handling Sin, a wonderfully hilarious novel about life’s most outer reaches of sanity. I have now read his latest offering, The Four Corners of the Sky

While not quite as hilarious, The Four Corners of the Sky is one of the nicest books I read in a long time. Amusing, engaging, with a good dose of good old romance. You won’t want to put it down until you’re done.

Highly recommended.

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cockpit More tales from America: The engines are running. We’re 36,000 feet up and cruising against 70 mph headwinds towards Greenland.

Dingdong, it goes. “Would passengers… Mr So-and-so and… (another pause and some paper ruffling…) .. and Mr Something-or-rather please let themselves know to a member of the cabin crew? Mr So-and-so and Mr Something -or-rather; if you are on this plane, please make yourself known to one of my colleagues.


Why do they always make announcements that sound like they don’t know who’s on this plane and who isn’t?


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It’s Flickr’ed

Following my detailed report of our recent holiday trip through some of America’s south west (you can read it all here in backwards order), several people have asked to see more photos.

I have good news for you.

All photos are now available on Flickr, and I even had mercy to set only 76 out of 518 for public viewing. So, if you are friend or family, you may wade through all 512 pictures. Otherwise, enjoy an overview via a subset of 76.

Click here for the USA Oct 2006 set on Flickr.

Cold Beer, Dirty Girls


This is the last section of our journey through America’s Southwest: we had to return to Las Vegas, clean the rented camper van, return it to the rental company first thing in the morning and make our way across the big pond.

After having spend almost two weeks in nature and in almost entirely quietness, I found it quite difficult to cope with Las Vegas and its never ending plethora of flashing and blinking and moving and -most annoying of all- constantly bleebing or tooteling gadgets absolutely everywhere.

We dutifully explored some of the casinos (not the one advertised in this photo, though). Nothing invested, nothing gained, nothing lost. Just the way it should be; we prefer spending our money on things other than gambling. And so we did:

We invested into two tickets for Cirque du Soleil‘s Mystere at Treasure Island. A stunningly beautiful, artistic and acrobatic show, and money very well spend indeed. This is the third Cirque du Soleil production, and probably the most stunning one we have seen. It’s not designed to tour and can take full advantage of all the stage technology, therefore.

What a show!

Carnegie Hall

I went to Carnegie Hall last Friday. OK, not quite. Just Carnegie House, or to be perfectly correct, the Carnegie Public Library.

I hadn’t known until then that the very same Andrew Carnegie of Carnegie Hall also funded well over a thousand public libraries (the Carnegie Libraries) after he sold his enterprise for $480 million back in 1902. So, Brentford and Hanwell both got their public library from him.

Interesting little local finding.

Andrew Carnegie, to quite Wikipedia, is known for having, later in his life, given away most of his
riches to fund the establishment of many libraries, schools, and
universities in Scotland, America and worldwide.


American Endings

We watched the recent re-make of Pride and Prejudice recently, and were very much surprised to learn the movie had been made in a "regular version," and in a version featuring an "alternative American ending."

All through the movie I couldn’t help thinking what this alternative American ending might be.

Maybe they’d stand up hands on hearts and give some patriotic speech about democracy and the need to free the world?

Would  Elisabeth and Mr. Darcy leave for America in search of a better world?

Maybe there’d be a good shooting and a carriage chase?

We saw the alternative American ending, and it was of course none of the above. Instead, it featured a sickening sweet romantic screen with Elisabeth, Mr. Darcy, torch lights, amber tones, in short, as if someone would have set out a very romantic scene and poured Marble Syrup all over it.


Bigger Than Life

Statue of Liberty
In America, things tend to be bigger, whiter, shinier, than anywhere else. Virginia Strawberries can be as big as a small apple. Braeburn apples, a small to mid-sized apple in the Olde World, tend to be a rather large variety here. Coffee milk comes in Half and Half (half cream half milk), thus whiter and creamier than anywhere else.

My favourite superlative American contraption, however, must be the flush button at the mens’ urinal. Normally a pound-coin sized contraption, or a lever signifficantly smaller than your average door handle, American flush buttons always appear ready for action on a somewhat larger scale. I am always reminded on an old German cartoon, where the plumber from hell mounts an industrial-scale, 10 inch pipe with valve above the bath, explaining the somewhat puzzled housewife that it wasn’t a beauty but the tub would be full in less than 3 seconds.

So, anyway, here’s one of those lovely flush buttons. Gotta love them, ey?