All The News That Is Fit To Print

In the UK there are national newspapers that are published daily (some of which still report news) and local papers that are published weekly and focus purely on local events. Here in the US there is only one true national paper, the tabloid US Today. There are a few papers tied to large cities that are available across the country, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, but these papers will still have sections that focus on local news.

One of the consequences of the lack of national dailies is that many local papers are published daily. The city of Fairfield, with a population very similar to that of Slough in the UK, supports the Daily Republic. The city of Vacaville (pop 89,000), some 5 miles North of Fairfield, has a daily newspaper; The Reporter. Vallejo (pop 117,000), 7 miles to the South of Fairfield, has the Times-Herald. I have no reason to assume that these cities, which are far from vast metropolises, are unusual in supporting daily papers.

The Daily Republic reports on council deliberations, road accidents, and events; much like a UK local papers. It also includes regional, national and international news. A typical front page may have a story about Iraq, a story about the California state budget, and coverage of rodeo triumphs for a team from the local air force base. The roots of the paper date back to 1855 and it claims the distinction of being the first paper in the country to run an editorial supporting Abraham Lincoln as a candidate for President of the US.

I know that there are some daily local papers, such as The Liverpool Echo, but these are published only in the largest cities.

While on the subject of newspapers, I shall moan about an annoying habit of US journalists. They create newspapers that do not exist when writing about UK papers, they will say that a story was carried by The London Times; which implies that the word “London” is part of the title, which is not the case. I know that using the The Times would be confusing as in the US that name implies The New York Times. However, I wish the form The Times of London would be used.

Published in: on 29 July, 2007 at 8:10  Leave a Comment  

Quiz Night

In the UK, I used to enjoy participating in pub quizzes; even going so far to take part in a regular pub quiz league. Last night, I attended my first US pub quiz. As an added bonus the bar was a brew pub, part of a small chain that makes first rate beer – well at least the British style draught ale I tried was excellent.

We went to the quiz as part of a Meetup, a social networking group here in the US where people with similar interests meet. The group that we met with is a dining group, so interested in food and drink. Our team consisted of my wife, her niece, and one of the people we met. We scored a respectable total, better than either of the two teams made up from the Meetup group. Our best round, rather worryingly, was one on violent deaths in the movies. My wife’s niece identified a photograph as being Lindsay Lohan. I maintain that I did not spot her because it was such an unusual shot; she was sober in the picture.

Fortunately, there were no sports rounds. My baseball knowledge has moved on a little in the year since I moved here, I can now provide an answer other than Babe Ruth or New York Yankees, but I don’t think I could yet hold my own in such a round.

Published in: on 25 July, 2007 at 17:26  Comments (1)  

Happy Birthday To My Blog

Today, July 18, is the anniversary of my first post to the blog. In that time there have been 132 posts; eleven per month. Although as the figures down the right-hand side of the blog show, this is not a consistent rate of posts. Last month was the quietest month and the busiest was August, the first full month of posting.

In that year, I gained employment and moved from LA to The Bay Area. The blog’s title changed to reflect that even though LA is still the closest city South of San Francisco on the I-5 it is nearly 400 miles away from where I now live. The next major change is likely to be the purchase of a house before the end of the year.

Published in: on 18 July, 2007 at 8:05  Comments (1)  

Uniform Reading Numbers

My blog articles get read by a few people. Over the last few thirty-days; a period when my blog has been fairly short on new entries, most posts have ten or so reads. The exception is the post in number one place, which has been read 108 times in the last thirty days. It is an article about the uniforms worn by staff at Hot Dog on a stick that I wrote during the first month of this blog. My first thought was its title, “Violation of The Bill of Rights”, might have attracted attention from people looking for commentary on the policy of the US administration. However, looking at the search terms that bring people to my blog it is clear that there is a real appetite (sorry for the pun) for articles about Hot Dog on the Stick.

To update my comments in that post, I have yet to find better lemonade, even if now I usually mix lemonade with ice-tea to make “Arnold Palmer”; my default soft-drink when out and about.

Published in: on 16 July, 2007 at 17:18  Leave a Comment  

Fuel Economy

The cost of petrol (gas) is reported on a daily basis on the TV news here in the US. The national average was over $3 a gallon and then dropped back. California has the highest price in the country, due to extra taxation. Compared to the price back in the UK, $3 is still cheap, but for a country that was paying under $2 a couple of years ago, this price hurts.

The pain is made worse, because fuel economy has not previously been a priority for Americans buying cars. The trucks and SUVs that have been popular for many years guzzle gas at a ridiculous rate. Now, as people start to care about fuel consumption, advertisers are starting to focus on the economy figures. Manufacturers who make those guzzling behemoths are forced to get into the act by claiming best in class figures, ie this vehicle is not as bad as other similar ones. In the US, advertisers are allowed to headline the highway mileage. This is the mileage that one could get in optimum circumstances at 55mph on a freeway, not in actual use. This makes the proud boast that the Chevy Tahoe can get 20mpg, hollow at best; real world figures suggest that actual economy is about 15mpg. This suggests that US manufactures will struggle to reach the government mandated figures of 35mpg by 2020.

There is one mitigating fact to take into account when looking at US fuel economy, a gallon here is less than in the UK. One UK gallon = 1.201 US gallons. The US gallon is smaller, as in pre-revolutionary days the UK short-changed the colonists by sending under-measured gallons.

Published in: on 15 July, 2007 at 11:17  Leave a Comment  

Die Hardest

It is probably the first film to take its title from a slogan on a car number plate. You may not know which film I am discussing, particularly if you are in the UK. Here in the US, Bruce Willis’ latest outing as John McClane is called “Live Free or Die Hard”, a reference to New Hampshire’s license plate slogan. It seems that in the UK, the film is called Die Hard 4.0. I am not sure why the film received a different title; maybe it was assumed that non-US markets would not get the reference.

The title for this post comes from a working title for the movie, a reference back to the second in the series, Die Harder

Published in: on 13 July, 2007 at 17:24  Comments (1)  

Sporting Triumph

The long wait for a homegrown champion at Wimbledon, the most British of sporting contests, continues. Here in the US, however, after six years of victories by a Japanese star, a Californian has triumphed at an event epitomizing modern America. In front of 50,000 spectators and televised live on national TV Joey Chestnut ended Takeru Kobayashi’s reign as Champion of Nathan’s Famous International July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest. He ate 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes, smashing Kobayashi’s previous best of 53.5 dogs. This is equivalent to 20,394 calories, or over ten days of recommended calorie intake for a sedentary middle age male.

Published in: on 5 July, 2007 at 17:33  Comments (1)  

4th of July

Today is the 4th of July, a holiday here in the US. It is commonly referred to as Independence Day; this is a misnomer as it commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The writing and signing of this document while an historic event did not bring Independence to the thirteen colonies; this took a long war that finally ended with the signing of a treaty in 1783.

Such historic pedantry aside, this is a big national holiday; most shops and restaurants shut. It is celebrated on the actual date; so we have a holiday this year in the middle of the week. All across the country even more American flags than usual will be on display and tonight there will be firework displays; like 5th November in the UK; but with better weather.

For any American readers of this blog, I shall take the opportunity to repeat something that I have had to mention to a few people at work. The 4th of July is not celebrated in the UK or any where else in the world for that matter, as it is a specifically American holiday. The UK would have a lot more Bank Holidays if we marked each country’s independence from us (There at least 34 countries that have a national holiday celebrating independence from the UK)

A piece of historic 4th July trivia; on the 50th anniversary of the signing, 4th July 1826, the second and third American presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both died.

Published in: on 4 July, 2007 at 6:46  Comments (1)  

Great Memory

I thought for a moment today that I had encountered some exceptional customer service. I was in a diner ordering a sandwich for lunch. The woman behind the counter, who had served me in the past, wrote my name on the till receipt which she handed back to the kitchen staff. I thought “Wow, she remembered my name from two weeks ago” Then I realized I was wearing my office id tag; she had just been smart enough to read my name on it.

Published in: on 2 July, 2007 at 20:39  Leave a Comment  

Not just vanilla or chocolate

There are some things that just go together: fish and chips, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, bangers and mash, beer and more beer, ice cream and extra virgin olive oil with sea salt. OK, not so sure about that last one, but I did see it on the menu at a café today in Sonoma. I am afraid that I cannot confirm if it tastes as bad as it sounds, after trying chilli ice cream in Dar-Es-Salaam, I have become less adventurous when eating ice-cream.

Published in: on 1 July, 2007 at 17:23  Comments (3)