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Americans

Differences between America & Australia, Posts, Soapbox

My right to do what I want

It’s time for my weekly look at the differences between Americans and Australians.  This happened to me last night. I don’t think this would happen in Australia but I’d love to get some feedback from my Australian friends–or others who may have had a similar experience.

Am I looking at Australians through rose-coloured glasses? Is this being a bit harsh on Americans (not my friends though don’t you know)?  Or is it not a negative thing in a different context, with a different example?

Differences between Americans and Australians: my right to do what I want–you can’t make me

I’m sitting on the tarmac in Las Vegas airport on the last flight to Burbank (LA) and as we’re getting ready to pull back some smart arse starts talking back to the flight attendant.

While getting ready for the safety demonstration, the “hostie” asked him to please get off the phone as it was time to switch mobiles off.  Instead of wrapping up he kept talking.  She asked him again, quite patiently, to “please sir finish your call and switch off the phone.”  He kept talking, showing no signs of wrapping up his call.

Then minutes later when he was ready he said goodbye and switched off his phone. The hostie then reminded him that he must listen to her requests while on board the plane.

“I don’t have to listen to you, I turned off the phone before we took off, I can do whatever I want.”

Here we go.

She reminded him again that he needs to listen to their instruction and cautioned him.  With that she walks down the aisle to continue her checks.

He yells back again saying he can do whatever he wants.  (It’s his right).

The supervisor comes up the back to question him further.

“Excuse me sir are we going to have a problem on this flight?”

To which he says,

“No, she told me to turn the phone off, I got off the phone before the plane took off, she doesn’t have the right to tell me what to do.”

“Well sir, on board the flight you are required to follow our instruction so are we going to have a problem with that?”

“No, I did what she asked but if she asks me to pick my nose I’m not going to do that am I?’

“Well sir she is not going to ask you to do that.”

Blah, blah, blah on he goes about how he flies all the time and has never had a problem and how he’s going to write a letter to Southwest and how he’s already spent tens of thousands of dollars with them.

Then one guy ( who can fend for himself) stands up and says to the guy, “please stop talking, listen to them  so we can all go home”.

But Mr frequent-traveller-who-may-or-may-not-look-like-a-frequent-traveller is adamant he can say and do what he wants.

He is still rabbiting on about how he can do whatever he wants and his rights.

Meanwhile I sit back, three rows in front of him to the other side, and think, do I want to go home or do I want the plane to stop and get him off? My first thought is is he allowed to carry a gun? I’m guessing he’s not.  Or at least not a loaded one. Everyone is a cross between disbelief, sitting quietly hoping the issue will be resolved and looking back at him with intimidating stares begging him to pull his head in.

All he had to do was pull his head in.

I’m relieved when the plane stops and moves forward towards the gate. Now we’re sitting on the tarmac waiting.  The pilot asks us all to stay in our seats.  Is this going to turn ugly?  He must know something is going on.  Right?  How are those rights looking now mate?

Are we waiting for the cops to take him off the flight? Is he getting more ruffled sitting there knowing full well it’s because of a scene he caused?

So now I’m quietly anxious and nervous and text home an update. He didn’t pull his head in before why should he now? And as the minutes are counting down I’m thinking it’s obvious we’re waiting for someone to get him.  What on earth is he thinking?

Are we going to have an incident or are we waiting for him to cool down? But what if he’s waiting to cool down then when we get in the air he loses it?  Like my teenage girl when you think everything is ok, she remembers what happened then relives the anger.

The people in the row in front of me start talking about guns. Do you have one? What do you do? I couldn’t hear much of the conversation but I thought back about Lorie on Twitter and how she thinks if there’s a mass shooter there would only be two shots fired. What if the guy in front of me thinks he’s defending himself and fires a shot? Would he be a good shot and would the guy hurling abuse have a gun & shoot him or shoot the nearest person? What about stray bullets?

Would the guy with the bad attitude think it’s time to pull out his gun. And why am I thinking about who’s carrying a gun? Isn’t that what the strenuous security measures are there for?  But if you’re a psycho then could you get around the security measures?  Can I trust them? And why–if guns are a right and used for personal protection–are we not allowed to carry them on board a flight?

Am I going crazy?

Finally the doors were opened and two ground staff came to escort him off the flight.  I was so surprised to see two women and not security or police.

He was escorted off the flight in a bit of an anti-climax. Thank God. I was expecting a tantrum-like scene that would make my daughter look like an angel. He still didn’t really get it though. He was still playing the it’s-my-right power card and “you just can’t do that” to him.

Here’s the thing. In “the future” post October 21, 2015 (had to get a Back to The Future Day reference in there somewhere), post 9/11, post mass murder after mass murder you just can’t do that. You just can’t do that.

So we’re taking off half an hour later than scheduled but I feel safer. I started thinking about what would happen if we were in the air and he wouldn’t stop. Then what. Would we have to pull together and fight him down. Cause I would. I’d be amongst it. I’m not going down wondering.

So you see it’s not your usual “Difference between Americans and Australians” post.  The rest of the flight–filled with Americans–did not agree with this guy.

But engrained somewhere in many American’s psyche is that whole “my right to…” thing.  And it’s not always a bad thing.  Sometimes it’s used for good and not evil.  But I wonder if America and its taglines “living the dream” or “the land of the free” leads some of its citizens to believe that means they can do whatever the bloody hell they want.  Because it’s their god-given right.

And, by the way, dickheads are all over the world.

In Australia we have dickheads you can put up there on Wikipedia as the ultimate definition of a dickhead.

We have bogans that think they’re tough and give lip.  And in Australia I wouldn’t be scared of guns I’d be scared of the fighting–fists as weapons which do get through the security checks.  But I think in Australia we might be more worried about the consequences. I don’t think we’re prepared to take the chance that we might be black-banned from flying again–or at least for a long time. I don’t know.

That’s where you come in. What do you think? What would you do? Do you think a guy would talk back to–and continue to talk back to–a hostie and then a supervisor on a Qantas internal flight or Virgin flight?

When we landed I felt like doing American/Chinese style woo-hoos and clapping that I landed safely. What a bizarre situation. Come on Chuck Lorre we can make an episode out of this one. Let’s do it.

Meanwhile. I’m exhausted and signing off.  And weirdly, the kids didn’t know what had happened to me but when I came home they raced out of their rooms and welcomed me home with hugs and kisses. Yep, life is short … and too short to be a dickhead.

xx It Started in LA xx

PS:  My congratulations to the crew of the Southwest Airlines 845PM flight 143 from Las Vegas to Burbank who handled the situation with professionalism and putting our safety ahead of their schedules.

Gun control or Pro gun
Differences between America & Australia, Posts, Soapbox

Difference between Americans and Australians: guns

Difference between Americans and Australians: guns

Another week, another shooting. But it’s not about the guns. Guns don’t kill people. No wait, the bullets do, no the people do. Wait, who kills people? The cars kill the people. No the drunk people driving the cars kill the people. Wait. The vacuum cleaner does the vacuuming, no the person does the vacuuming. I’m confused.

This is arguably the single most dividing issue between Australians and Americans. And it’s not all Americans and my guess is it’s probably not all Australians either.

After a shell-shock week, my daughter and I have been questioning whether or not it’s time to move back home.  And while my son isn’t as vocal as we are his Twitter and Facebook has had their fair share of “the gun debate” issues.  Mr H? He’s in London so all’s good in his world.

What Americans think about guns

We’ve heard sound grabs of the likes of Donald Trump who shoot their mouth off because they can–to get on TV screens, radios and column inches in the papers and on websites and that’s fine. We expect it. It’s not great but we can live with it.

But you don’t expect it from the media.  At least I didn’t.  You might have seen this clip doing the rounds during the week:

 

It got me—and many, many others—so incensed I thought we should call for the sacking of these ill-informed presenters.

And clearly I should have better researched my stance.  Because in doing more research for this piece I found another Fox News presenter ranting pro guns.  Apparently “they” say that Fox regularly preaches right-wing conservative views.  I found this review on Fox and Friends which made me chuckle.  No wonder I’ve never tuned into Fox News.

Even less surprising is that I haven’t heard anything from either Fox News or Fox & Friends in response to my suggestion–I guess any publicity is good publicity.  Hmmm…

Clearly, for a network like Fox to put these people up there to a national audience this is purportedly representative of America’s views on guns.

And to a large extent it is. Many Americans genuinely believe in their right to bear arms.  And believe stuff like this:

http://twitter.com/sonslibertytees/status/623553547603415041/photo/1

Back to the Fox and Friends story.  When it started appearing on Facebook I did a Twitter search for the show. I found another story on one of the presidential candidates Ben Carson discussing gun rights. Here’s some examples of the response on twitter:

And I had this fun Twitter exchange during the week:

Damn that I misspelt cowboy! That was the last I heard from Kimberly Huggard.

Then there was this:

Nice one Lori.  And there’s this:

Oh look… it’s in response to Fox News again. I’m finally seeing the pattern.

And while we’re on the subject of Fox News presenters here’s another one just for fun:

http://twitter.com/mmfa/status/649407149072781312/photo/1

Thankfully not all Americans share the same views.

OK, so while new host Trevor Noah isn’t American, his audience is laughing.  If you’re interested–cause there are funny grabs there–I’ve chopped the segment down and you can watch it by clicking on this link.

What Australia thinks about guns

Not just the Australia, the rest of the world. Piers Morgan has been very vocal on the issue. Unlike many of the arguments pro guns cheerleaders are outlining, some prominent (and other stupid) public figures, he’s done his research and uses logic and reasoning as the basis of his argument.

But this isn’t really about him is it? It’s about Australians and our general attitude to guns.

Australians haven’t grown up to believe we have a constitutional right to carry a gun so we’ve got a fundamentally different perspective on the matter.

We don’t believe that if we send our kids to College with guns they won’t get shot.  (We believe in sending our kids to Uni without guns and still not being shot).

I wish I was a cartoonist and I could draw a cartoon of a mad shooter coming in with his gun showing the entire class dressed as cowboys drawing their guns from their holsters like they’re Quick-Draw McGraw asking for a truce while they draw their guns so they can shoot him first.

They seriously think that if they don’t arm teachers and don’t abolish gun-free zones this leaves the students exposed and vulnerable.

And they seriously think that it’s better to have an all-out shoot-it-out.

Or, like poor old Kimberly Huggard on Twitter thinking there would only be two shots fired.  Two.  And that is assuming the shooter shot the first one and some hero with a gun in his pocket takes a clean shot and takes out the shooter. How romantic a notion Kimberly. Bravo.

No, in Australia we can’t bear to hear the arguments in favour of guns.  Completely intelligent people just need to say one thing in favour of guns like this…

… then he’s lost all credibility with us.  Really? …. Really?  Seriously?

But what is the difference between Americans and Australians when we’re talking about guns?

Australian comedian Jim Jefferies, also doing the rounds of Facebook & Twitter, best sums up Australia’s views on guns. He’s Australian and it’s stand-up so he swears like it’s 3am and he’s had 500 beers.

If the Americans can get over the swearing it’s educated, logical and bloody funny.

 

On a personal note, scrolling through comments and Twitter have left me feeling sick to the stomach. The indignation and righteousness of Tucker Carlson (never trust someone with two last names) makes me want to pack my bags and run back home.

I love lots of things about living in LA—and I’m thankful I’m not surrounded by ignoramuses suggesting we arm our kids and teachers with guns to protect themselves—but you only have to witness the hateful attacks on those trying to curb gun violence to wonder if they’ll ever stop and reflect.  And use logic.

I’m hoping this country will evolve and look past “my right” to carry a gun which is effectively saying I don’t give a shit about the repercussions to the society I live in, as long I can do what I want.

xx It Started in LA xx

 

Patriotic
Posts, Visiting LA

Red, white & blue: Fourth of July

I’ve done it…We’ve done it!  We have now spent our first Fourth of July here as a family.  I’m glad it’s come around at the ten-month mark rather than early in our time here simply because we’re more acclimated and we’re in the groove of life here.  This way we get to appreciate the holiday rather than being freaked out–overwhelmed–by the sea of red, white & blue.

Australia Day in Sydney and Melbourne & the Fourth of July in LA are not dissimilar celebrations–it’s summer, many celebrations take part around the beach and there are fireworks. We spent our Fourth of July at a friends’ insistence in Mission Beach, San Diego and I’m so glad we followed her advice.  I really miss the kids having freedom to walk to the park, beach or corner shop without me having to accompany them.  Over the four days we were there they were able to do exactly that.  It was sooo liberating. But while the fourth of July is similar here as it is at home it’s also different: same, same different as we’d say in China.

It’s so same, same different in fact that it’s hard to articulate why. Firstly I would say that Americans seem more patriotic and they’re not afraid to be: they put it all out there: their American flags, dress in stars and stripes, paint their nails and even dress their homes.

Nails

You can never have enough red, white & blue

But we do too.  We’ve got our Australian flags, flag bathers and throw parties but maybe stop at decorating our nails and houses.

The impression I get is that the fourth of July revolves around community-based activities whereas our celebrations tend to revolve around parties with friends.  So even though we were “grilling” at a friends’ house we were also on the beach and interacting with others.

Two revellers being pulled along by their mate on the bike

Two revellers being pulled along by their mate on the bike

Many communities hold parades or fairs so everyone gathers in the same place.  I love that because the atmosphere is so electric.  And everyone is so bloody friendly.

A set-up the envy of many including the beachside "grill".

A set-up the envy of many including the beachside “grill”.

 

Not unlike us festivities start early–we saw a group doing shots at around 11am and still going around 2:30.  But they weren’t going in the late afternoon as they would’ve been doing at home. But starting early in America seems to also mean pacing yourself (a foreign concept for many of us Aussies).

The ability to practice the art of “pacing” lies in not always having a drink in your hand.  It also means hanging by the beach with the kids, going on a bike-ride up and down the boardwalk or chatting with fellow revellers.  Novel huh?  I quite liked it truth be told. Perhaps the biggest difference though is the LA element.  Once all the fireworks were done everyone went home.

To the Americans the fireworks were the grand finale and signals time to go home.  To Australians it signals the end of formal proceedings and time to start partying.  Which is usually, I have to say, when the trouble starts.  By our standards it’s an early night but here it’s the end of a fun day out.  And it ends in fun rather than drama or alcohol-fuelled incidents: we don’t have an off button (design flaw?).

Maybe as a new Ausmerican we can work out how to get somewhere in between…?

 Mission Beach for 4th of July

I’ve already blogged about our weekend away at Coronado Island when we first went to San Diego in April but I really wanted to talk about what a great spot Mission Beach is to holiday.

Three reasons to holiday in Mission Beach:

  1. Freedom to wander and walk (and bike) practically everywhere, such a nice change from the “get-in-your-car-for-everything” mentality of LA.  Also for our older kids we can give them the freedom to walk to the beach and the park on their own.
  2. Summer by the beach: totally unpretentious and lots of things to do (what more can you want for your summer holidays?)
  3. Watersports galore–jet skis, water skiing, wake boarding, paddle boarding, you name it it’s there.  If you feel like indulging yourself try the Hot-tub cruise boat.

Five places to eat in Mission Beach:

  1. The Mission–dubbed as the best breakfast place in SoCal and I have to say I strongly agree.  Great coffee too (psst no bookings, rock up early and put your name down with the masses but it all seems to move fairly quickly).  3795 Mission Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92109 Ph: (858) 488-9060
  2. Saska’s–local sushi joint (and grill all in one) and great service when you ask for Carson 3768 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 Ph: (858) 488-7311
  3. Arslan’s Gyros–amazing Greek food: fresh meat, great pita bread and dips and a great atmosphere (especially when you bring your whole group of 30 peeps and takeover the restaurant) 3861 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 Ph: (619) 962-9925
  4. Better Buzz–another top breaky spot with Aussie-approved coffee, selling the very-LA acai bowl. Even with queues going out the door it’s worth the wait. 3745 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 Ph: (858) 488-0400
  5. The Ale House–we didn’t eat there but we had one of the Chefs come and cook our BBQ for us. I continue to salivate over the beef he cooked. Dee-vine.  Oh, and our friend is good mate’s with the owner who brought over the best fish, prawns & scallops from his Fish Shop–yummo (Pacific Beach Fish Shop1775 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109 Ph: (858) 483-4746). 721 Grand Ave, San Diego, CA 92109 Ph: (858) 581-2337

Five Seven things to do in Mission Beach:

  1. Hang by the beach … of course.
  2. Head around to Mission Bay and go crazy on water sports rental.  The Bay is perfect for recreational activities. I recommend the Hot Tub Cruises ;).
  3. Hire bikes or a segway. I need to tell you Segway riding is not as easy as it looks but it’s fun once you get the hang of it. I just wish they’d lower the riding age because the kids love it.
    Hire bikes from Cruiser King on Mission Blvd and we got our Segways from the Catamaran.
  4. Book a fire pit by the beach (complete with Adirondack Chairs and Tiki torches. Fabulous.  Now there’s no excuse not to roast marshmallows and make smores.
  5. Book a Hot-tub cruise (you know you want to)
  6. Relax and let the kids exhaust themselves on activity overload–a perfect recipe for a great night’s sleep so you can do it all over again.
  7. Visit one of the many nearby attractions like the San Diego Zoo.  As you know if you’ve been following along we loved our visit and I highly recommend it.)

We stayed at the conveniently located Catamaran Resort and Spa is in the Bay.  Having the pool is a great option (especially for pool-side cocktails) and the kids love the Arcade with complimentary gaming. I think we’ll be getting in early and booking our spot in Mission Beach for next year’s Fourth of July.  Can’t wait!

xx It Started in LA xx

 

Update July 24, 2014 @ 4:00PM LA time

Tomson
Expat tales, Posts

Creating memories: remembering the good forgetting the bad

Tripping down Expat memory lane

I’ve mentioned a couple of times now that we lived in China–Shanghai actually.  I have such amazing memories of our nearly two years there despite it being a really tumultuous time.  I wonder if you asked my close girlfriends back in Australia what they would say about my time in Shanghai.

I’m tripping down memory lane for two reasons today:

  1. We spent a fun weekend catching up with dear friends from Shanghai last weekend in San Diego  and naturally we took a great trip down memory lane (I’ll post a full report on San Diego)
  2. One of my readers asked me to write about the not-so-good stuff about LA and how there are days when you go enough’s enough, I just want to throw in the towel and give it all up just to be back in the comfort zone of family and friends living a normal life.

It was so good to hang out with our neighbours from Shanghai.  We lived in a fabulously salubrious apartment called Tomson Riviera–the most expensive apartments in Shanghai–it was ridiculously convenient to Super Brand Mall, another fabulous Mall, IFC, we had the Shangri-la and great restaurants but we still had a Blind massage and “local” amenities so we felt like we were in China and not some surreal world.

Tomson

Home in Shanghai

Our neighbours lived in the apartment downstairs from us and they had to put up with our kids thudding up and down the hall like a herd of wild elephants.  We would see each other most days–either in the morning at the gym or around 4:30 for Orange Blossoms or wine (or both–morning and afternoon that is not Orange Blossoms and wine but come to think of it yes to both).  We would also schedule shopping days out or “Tomson Tours” as we liked to call it where a bunch of us from the apartment block would go out and explore areas (like a day trip to Expo) or factories and shops we’d heard about from other expats.

We were each others’ sounding boards, rocks but it was a great balance because we weren’t living out of each others’ pockets.  Our kids (with some 10 years plus between them in ages) are pretty much carbon copies of one another in temperament and roles which cracks us up–especially our two youngest “princess” daughters.

Fast Forward three plus years and they’ve repatriated back to Seattle and we obviously moved back home and are now here.  A lot has happened in both our lives since we moved back home but it was like no time at all had passed, we were just loving catching up and everything clicked back into place.

I wrote the other week about how Americans struggle to laugh at themselves but it was Sue who laughed at me moving to America where I would “never live” and now I have more than one American friend.  It was Sue that had to listen to my ear-bashing of Americans and how Australians don’t really “do” Americans as a rule yet she was one of closest friends in Shanghai.  And it was Sue that came to rescue when my princess was having one of her (very regular) tantrums–oh and of course to help with our many dress-up opportunities.

But it got me thinking about our time in Shanghai–and back to my reader’s feedback.  Not once did our trip down memory lane touch on the bad bits about being there.  We led the most glamorous lives and according to Mr H all I did was “shop, shop, shop” go to the gym (yes, I was a gym junkie) and eat at fabulous restaurants and jump the queue and get into great VIP bars inside the best Clubs in Shanghai. But living in China was also hard.  There’s not enough time in this post to try to get you over the line to understand the daily drudgery but it was there.  (Hmmmm maybe it’s time to publish that book after all.)

So why are trips down memory lane always so good?  I don’t know much about psychology but I’m guessing that has a lot to do with it, that it’s in our best interests to remember the good bits and flush out the bad bits.  We do remember some bad bits–and that’s how we grow as people but by and large we look back on life (hopefully) rather fondly.

Get me out of here

When we were in Shanghai I remember vividly wanting to go home.  I think it took me eight months to get over.  I loved it but I hated not having friends (despite of course having friends).  The closing chapter of my book was all about the realisation when we left that I had friends the whole time.  Good friends.  But those friends played different roles in my life compared to my friends at home.  I likened my time in Shanghai to The Wizard of Oz that, like Dorothy, I had what I needed the whole time: Dorothy needed to (ironically) get home to Oz and me, well I had friends.

Jump forward nearly four years in the future to today in a new country yet again.  I have made some great friends here in such a short time.  I’ve been welcomed and included and had lots of fun.  Repeat after me: I have made friends, I have made great progress.  There was a time not so long ago I may have forgotten this lesson though.

was pretty miserable a couple of months ago.  I announced to Mr H that I’d had enough, I wasn’t happy that the kids were missing out on the great things Australian private schools had to offer them and I wasn’t sure this is were we should raise our kids for an extended period.  That was totally my “get me out of here–now” moment.  I hadn’t shared it directly with you to put it quite as blunt as that but I had written about some challenges we were having, conflicts in ideology and questioning whether we fit in or not.

I missed the “anniversary” of us being here eight months.  What a great sign that things are on the up-and-up again.  Of course we fit in. The kids are getting a great experience going to school in a different country and (hello!) living amongst the rich and famous has (big-time) the fun element.

Coming back from holidays does that to you though–you get this spring in your step, a rejuvenation like you’re ready to kick on.  I felt precisely the same way when we got back from our Spring Break in Wales.  We used to call them “Get out of China” days you needed to regularly get out in order to come back in fresh.  Maybe it’s the same wherever you are as an Expat?

And catching up with friends that get you also does that to you–recently having dear friends here from Australia and just his past weekend with our Shanghai-American friends.  They’ve given me my confidence back that I’m doing ok.

Wherever you are you have your good days and your bad days–home, overseas, on holidays.  However much money you have you have your good days and your bad days.  No matter how successful you are you have your good days and your bad days.  What I’m learning all over again is that, despite my fear and loathing of rollercoasters, that’s life.  Hop on and enjoy the ride and essentially they’re the same wherever you go.  OK, maybe some are bigger than others but the bigger the climb, the bigger the thrill.

Enjoy–and make the most of–your rollercoaster.

xx It Started in LA xx

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