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The Real and the Unreal

Posted 14 April 2007 - The Hague (NL):


Here's a list of some more things I noticed in Miami (in random order):

- A persistant vague area between reality and fiction is created in the media. Horrible news is brought in the same way a spectacular movie is advertised. Reality shows used to report about extreme and/or strange situations in real life, but in a way it also reshapes reality and makes the extremes acceptable. Also in the streets, many people are partly real and partly not-so-real, in the physical sense. Scary to see how normal it is to have a ... job (fill in body part of your choice, because it can be anything);

- Each and every road sign is in text, even speed limits signs explicitely define that the number on the sign is the 'SPEED LIMIT'. By the way, a lot here is 'explicit' in the sense that everything needs to be explained for everybody to understand and accept;

- Cars don't have license plates on the front;

- Lots of people speak South American Spanish which is definitely nicer to hear than Northern American English;

- People actually use doggybags, which reversely leads to giant meals that are impossible to devour (even to me who can take in quite some food in one go);

- Standard size for drinks is >0.5 liter and its served in massive cups with massive straws. Just like the exhaust pipes for cars, they are about twice the size in diameter compared to European ones;

- All the newspapers and talk shows are in some way or another related to the War against Terrorism and it's impossible to find your way around it.

Below photos show the weather conditions in Miami on two consecutive days. Current weather in Holland: sunny, >20C - a perfect spring day. Quoi qu'il en soit, the best thing about visiting the USA is that it makes you very happy to go back home.


( Miami - USA, April 2007)
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Heading home

Posted 12 April 2007 - Miami (US):


Reporting from Miami, for the last time as we are flying home this afternoon, arriving tomorrow morning. Our meeting yesterday night was wortwhile, so all we've got left to do here is wait for the plane back.

A short description of today's photos: Taxis on Ocean Drive, happy Americans and the flying track of a Flinstone-like public transport system of Downtown Miami.


( Miami - USA, April 2007)
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Hello Sir, how can we help you today?

Posted 29 March 2007 - The Hague (NL):


Another trip to my beloved Estados Unidos lies ahead, to Florida this time. Miami is on the agenda for the second week of April. Looks like I'll finally have my maiden flight on a 747 :)


( Hawaii - USA, January 2006)
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Access denied

Posted 24 March 2007 - The Hague (NL):


Once created to (1) withstand atomic attacks (2) exchange information freely, the internet has started to spark concern among many nations' authorities. When I was in Dubai (Dec 2005, see posting 10 Dec 2005), I already noticed that some pages were inaccessible over there. The idea of internet censure now seems to flood the world. And if it's not about making complete websites unaccessible, people get 'eavesdropped' about their visiting behaviour. Read this to know more.


( Washington DC - USA, May 2005)
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Posted 22 May 2006 - The Hague (NL):


Few things annoy me as much as faulty process automation. "You can collect your new bank card at the post office. Please be aware of the opening hours of your subsidiary" -> mentioning which one-and-only branch needs to be visited for this purpose, but NOT mentioning what these opening hours are. Or voice recognition systems with hearing problems, or incorrect automatic debiting from your bank account by energy/internet/water/telco suppliers. And the impossibility of banks doing what they're supposed to do, which is manage money instead of selling holidays, insurances and holiday insurances (although that's maybe not related to process automation - it's still very annoying..).

Also ranking very high on the list: traffic lights. It's not without reason that in spoken language they are usually referred to as stopping lights, because that's what they are in essence. Even when there's no-one around, they'll keep you waiting until it's your turn. Who is writing the process for these terrible machines? Annoyed once more by having to wait at traffic lights for ages when driving towards tennis yesterday morning, I decided to look up who invented this crappy instrument. (We will find this who did it, we'll smoke them out of their holes, we'll get them running and we'll bring them to justice) Mysteriously, there's a whole list of inventors and patent holders, scattered all over the place and hardly locateable. Smart-asses. Here's another link instead - a website that describes the etymology of the traffic light phenomenon.


( Washington DC - USA, May 2005)
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Posted 26 January 2006 - The Hague (NL):


Within a few days, China will celebrate the start of a new year: The Year of the Dog. Interesting how they name years after their favourite food..


( Washington DC - USA, May 2005)
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Posted 12 January 2006 - The Hague (NL):


I'm mentally preparing my third trip to the United States by re-reading the book "Put your best foot forward - USA - A Fearless guide to Understanding the United States of America", issued before Sep 2001 by the way. I was offered this interesting piece of litterature by my favourite colleague back at the State of Maryland - European Office. The book is full of interesting advices which should enable any visitor to survive US-specific obstacles. Below are some interesting quotations from the book:

- We have learned to see ourselves as a beacon for democracy and free markets;
- America is the land of endless opportunities;
- 'How are you?' is not a question;
- Americans smile and say 'hello' to strangers;
- Americans value good manners and proper social behaviour;
- Americans are very proud of their country and what they have been able to achieve;


Two more days to prepare myself...


( Washington DC - USA, May 2005)
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