Deprived European difficult child is back from States - with cereal and stories to tell (long)

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by SuZir, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    difficult child is back and already in his own home. I haven't had time to make anything from my condensed or evaporated milk yet, neither have we had time to use husband's wing sauce. But easy child has tasted his Twizzlers (good but not mind blowing) and cereals (Kellogg's Froot Loops with Marshmallow, Reese's Puffs and Chocolate Lucky Charms) have been evenly divided between difficult child and easy child. And difficult child could spend a day at home before heading to his own home so we got to hear more stories too. He did have a good trip and he enjoyed his time there a lot. He got along with his team mates better than expected and made some new friends with boys from other teams. Didn't get himself in any major trouble and for once he wasn't the one getting most fines (inside team discipline system.) (He was the second and probably only because one of the new boys in the team is even worse scatterbrain than he is, but still, he racked up much fewer fines than usually.)

    But here are some of his observations (keep in mind, these are just his thoughts):

    - Again people were really extra friendly, nice and helpful and interested about them. This may be because they were mostly in small town or in the nearby smallish city. And they were a sport team from 'exotic' country (if you look it from your point of view.) So people probably showed more interest for them than would normally be common.

    - Rush hour in New York is mad. New York is mindbogglingly huge.

    - Great selection of all kinds of ethnic food all over the world also in smaller cities. Food in restaurants is very cheap and there is enough of it (again his perspective, if portion is big enough for him, it is probably much too big for average person.)

    - Everyone having really nice cars. And big cars. In average cars were much bigger than here. Gas was really cheap (that probably explains a difference, and our taxes for new cars explain the rest. The new car you pay 16 000 dollars we usually pay around 25 000 dollars. And if the car is bigger, the tax rate goes up, so the difference gets bigger.)

    - Work has to be cheap. Every place was very staffed. In restaurants there were probably twice or thrice as many waiters than same size restaurant would have here. Same with supermarkets, a lot of staff. There were also lots of people working in jobs that don't even exist here. Packing grocery bags, welcoming people to somewhere, carrying bags, just hanging around and doing little bit this or that. (This may explain something I have wondered a bit when reading your posts. Most of your difficult children seem to easily find a job and find a new one after they loose the one before. Really doesn't work like that around here. We have very, very limited job market for unskilled workers and finding a new job if you are a difficult child or lost your last one because your own fault - forget it.)

    - Many people being extreme in size. People, especially women tended to be either very skinny or obese or very obese. Much fewer of those people who have that extra 10 to 20 pounds that they plan to get rid off, when they just find the motivation (which will likely be never.)

    - Everything was very heavily packed leading to huge amount of trash. Very little recycling going on what they saw.

    - He finally got what was meant with 'the significance of the frontier' that he has been taught in his English classes to explain American culture. He had never really understood before that the optimistic, unlimited possibilities train of thought is not just a pep talk, but a real and huge difference in the core of thinking. (I'm rather proud of him getting that one.)

    - People spend awfully lot of time in their cars. He met many people who commute even three or four hours per day.

    - Every car really being an automatic. (He did know that beforehand, but still he found it odd. We tend to prefer manuals.)

    - People working a lot and work being a centre of their life. Short vacations, long workdays. Lots of talk about work. Little free time.

    - Being busy seems to be a status thing. People talking a lot about being awfully busy and having to work so hard while not really doping much to get all the things they talked about actually done. difficult child felt that if they would just stop talking about their business and actually do things efficiently they would soon be done and could do something fun instead.

    - people are very involved with charities and are much more religious than we are. People actually going to church.

    - School is really strict and a lot of work. He felt he could have never made it through. He talked with local boys and their school days seemed very long to difficult child. Both now and especially for younger kids. And amount of homework was huge, though what he did see it, he thought it was mostly busywork. The material he felt was rather similar, except of course the languages (our kids tend to study at least two, usually three or four foreign languages from early on, for example difficult child started his first foreign language in grade 3, his second in grade 5, his third in grade 7 and his fourth in grade 10), but you put your kids to work much harder with it. One of the US boys showed difficult child his math book and he felt it was same level than his math book and could have done the exercises easily, but the amount of home work that other boy had to do and turn in was four times what he was asked to do. And our kids don't have to turn in any homework, only some essays etc. they don't want to spend class time on and that are assign to homework because of that. It is considered that homework is there to help them learn and if they don't do it, it is their problem and shows up in exam. And if they do well in exam without homework, they didn't really need to do it. It is not about the amount of work but what you learn. If you can learn with less work, good for you. I do know you have different level of courses in your high school so I don't know if that book was for some lower level course. Boy who showed it said it was the hardest class they offered in his school though, something called AP Calculus BC, but I don't really know your system so I don't know if he was telling a truth, or if it just felt the most difficult for him.

    -Little recess in schools. difficult child doesn't understand how especially smaller kids make it through the day. In our schools classes are 45 minutes and after every class there is 15 minutes recess and kids have to go outside to play. In elementary schools we have playgrounds where kids play and also possibility to play soccer or basketball. Also skip rope, playing tag etc. are popular with younger crowds. In middle school they mostly play soccer etc. In High School (grade 10, and age 16 onwards around here) kids are allowed to stay also inside or leave school yard if they wish. And they may even have classes put together and have hour and half class and then half an hour recess. Younger ones are allowed to stay inside only if it is very cold. Usually limit is around - 5 F but kids often feel that school thermometers are adjusted so, that they never go under it (they may have a point, teachers and parents hate what kind of hellions our kids tend to turn to, if they can not get their free outdoor playtime. And after all, it's just matter of dressing up correctly.)

    And the matter with cereals: After tasting those I do understand why you eat so much less candy than we do. If you start your day with those, you certainly don't need any candy later in the day :bigsmile: They really are sweet. And colourful. I have seen Froot Loops (without marshmallow) also here, but they certainly are not that colourful (I think EU forbids using many of those food dyes or something.) I do wonder though if it really is common to let kids eat these kind of cereals regularly or are they more like the Sunday treat they are in our family? If kids really eat these for breakfast and go to school after that, how on earth are they able to sit still? And doing it without much recess? Mine would had been climbing on curtains after that kind of breakfast, when they were small... I also wondered how nutrition info was given. In our products information is always per 100 grams so it is easy to compare. they usually tell it also per portion but because portions vary, I find it more difficult to compare, when it is only told per portion. And those portion sizes. If your portions in restaurants are huge, portions in cereal are anything but. I mean, do people really eat that 20-30 g portion at time? For me it seems very small for breakfast. Okay, I'm a tallish and active adult women, I eat more than many. My kids eat much more than average people. But really 3/4 cups of cereal for breakfast? And difficult child also brought home a can on soft drink that said there was two portions in it. It was half an litre can. Do you really share you soft drink cans?

    Oh, and link to his former adventures in USA:
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    You might be proud of difficult child's observations as he was pretty accurate on many.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "work is cheap" but we do have a lot of unskilled labor jobs, they just don't pay well and most don't have or have few benefits

    Extreme size thing might be dead on. I don't live near New York, so can't say for sure but we have a major problem with obesity here due to those enormous proportion sizes he experienced and a booming junk food market. Show an american a normal portion size and they might faint, or at least call you a liar. The fast food industry wars (super size please) have made the problem much worse.

    We do have too much packaging, way too much. And few recycle.

    Automatic transmissions are popular, but many still like the manuals. I can drive both, but prefer the automatic. easy child and sister in law drive both.

    Work IS the center of things and being busy (or rushed) is the popular thing, even if a person really doesn't have anything to be rushed about.......they'll drum up something if needed. I do my best to avoid being rushed but our society is geared that way and it makes it difficult.

    School, I have to agree with you on. I've thought of homework as "make work" since I was very young, I've seen nothing to change my mind as an adult. Each year it seems someone somewhere decides kids aren't doing enough of this make work and so require much more be done. in my opinion it's having the opposite effect on our kids. Instead of helping them to learn, they're growing bored with the material or confused with how it's presented or both. in my opinion they're also trying to introduce certain concepts much much too young. A child still needs a chance to be a child.

    When I was a kid there was an hour for lunch and a morning recess, sometimes an afternoon recess if the teacher felt we were too fidgety. I know Darrin gets a half hour for lunch. Period. Now when you consider some of that is actually eating his lunch.....there is very little time for playing unless you want to go hungry. Kids aren't allowed to talk during lunch either, while they're eating they have to sit and be quiet like in the classroom. Ridiculous. All that pent up energy just waiting to get into trouble. omg

    Sadly, many kids start the day with those cereals. They taste really sweet, but aren't anywhere near like they used to be when I was a child. I can't stand to eat them now because they don't taste good. I eat normal unsweetened cereal.

    And no, no one shares a can of soda. It's another example of portion size. Company puts 2 portion sizes into the can so it seems you're getting more for your money. lol

    So all in all, difficult children observations were really good. :)

    I'm glad he had a good time and did better than usual discipline wise.

    This was a nice thread to mull over with my first cup of coffee this morning. :)
  3. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Your son is very astute - I agree with just about everything he observed. I'm glad he had a fun time here, and hope he comes back again to visit! I'm so glad he came to NYC (I'm from there) and happy that he had a good impression of our fine city. It really is great.
    Funny story about Froot Loops - a cautionary tale, actually. Personally, I never cared for those types of cereals, so I didn't eat them as a child. When my daughter was young, she wanted Froot Loops and totally fell in love. She ate them every morning for a while. After about a week, her poop came out the color of the rainbow and I didn't connect the dots. I thought she had a disease, so I rushed her to the pediatrician! (She's my oldest child, so I was not too swift). Needless to say, no more Froot Loops!
  4. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    That is kind of what I meant. Around here 'giving benefits' is not a matter of choice. Cost for employer is not just a pay check they write, they are paying big part of health care etc. of their employees. No one asks if they want to do so. They have to. So hiring is much more expensive around here and no one hires for the job that doesn't produce. That may keep our unemployment rate higher (though I'm not sure what it is in USA right now, we have 7 point something currently, tough times etc.), but when you have a job you can live with that. But it also means that there is little work available for unskilled and we bribe, motivate, force, kick hineyes etc. of our young for them to acquire skills. Schools are free (both universities, colleges and vocational schools) and intake is geared so that we will end up with approximately needed amount of doctors, hair stylists, lawyers, plumbers, auto mechanics, carpenters, nurses, teachers etc. But for unskilled, only few job opportunities exist and you can certainly not afford to screw too many of those opportunities up.
  5. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Our unemployment rate is higher, I believe. Last I heard anyway I think it was around 9 percent or something. I had to stop looking as when you're looking for work it's depressing.

    I did recently read an article that most people avoid certain jobs like the plague, considering them beneath them or whatever. So I've redirected more towards those jobs, as in factory ect. Repetition I can do once I catch on as long as there isn't too much heavy lifting involved. The pay isn't super wonderful, but it isn't bad either and there is benefits at least. Only thing I won't even attempt is fast food. Too chaotic for me pre Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and a thousand times worse post Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
  6. Marcie Mac

    Marcie Mac Just Plain Ole Tired

    Its interesting reading about the different points of view. Living in Ca, when I was younger, loved a stick shift, which came with a really small car, that went really really fast. After I grew up, and had to commute 45 to 60 miles for a job, in traffic which was a minimum of an hour, let me tell you shifting from first to second to first to second, barely ever getting into third - that got old fast. And I have seen more accidents than I care to in those smallish cars. The love of my life was my Fiat X19, and I was over the moon with them bring back the Fiats again but I had forgotten how tiny they were and as much as I like them, will give them a pass unless we move to a place that has wide open spaces. We just bought a brand new Mazda 5 (seats 6) at a time in our lives when I thought the soccer mom thing was over and done with but a new phase with wheelchairs, etc and ease of getting in for SO and mother in law with plenty of leg room was driving that purchase. Thankfully it gets excellent gas milage

    I will agree food portions are over the top here. We eat out a lot, but mostly always at buffets where we can enjoy different kinds of ethnic foods. They make money on me because one small plate and I am done, and SO, well, he is not a money making proposition for them LOL My boys, especially difficult child, are fast food junkies. I tried to keep it at a minimum when they were little, but schools here, at lunch, would have it delivered to the lunch room and they had choices of Micky D's, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried. Trying to get them to eat packed lunches was impossible. Its changed now, and they bring in sushi, salads and other ethnic foods (could be because of the neighborhood we live in) . When I was growing up, we always ate fresh made "cafeteria" food - there were no other choices. Watching the boys eating habits now that they are older, Jamie has tapered off a lot off fast food and only eats it after a 12 hour day at work. He loves Fresh and Easy foods that are prepared fresh that day, and when he does cook, its mainly Indian food, and ingrediants must be be organic. Its funny because Jamie is overweight, and Danny, well his food consists of 99% fast food, is really skinny. I guess they were both blessed with totally different metabolisms. And I am one who is always battling with those 20 pounds or so, we went back east last year to Ohio visit my mother, and we were just stunned by the amount of obese people. So much so that SO who never really pays attention to that kind of thing just went "WOW' Every other store front seemed to be a place to eat. I had forgotten growing up back east there was not a lot to do - we did a lot of visiting other relatives and everything revolved around food - doesn't seem like you were there for more than 10 minutes before the table was set. When my cousins took SO and I out to Golden Corral, I had my one plate of mostly veggies, and it was constant hammering by them with "is that all you are going to eat, you really need to eat, I can't believe that is all you are going to eat, you need to try some of this and some of that, you are way too skinny" during the entire meal, meanwhile one cousin had 6 full plates of food (not counting dessert)

    I had to chuckle about the breakfast cereals. Giving Danny Fruit Loops or other kinds of similar cereals would be a guarantee that i would receive a call from the school about his behavior shortly after his arrival there. He had options of Cheerios or waffles with a drop of maple syrup (he would often gulp that stuff from the bottle so I had to keep it hidden) Lunch money had to be given directly to the school, otherwise, any money in his hands would be spent at the grocery store on sweets before he arrived at school, then I would get "that call" he was out of control. They didn't help any because soda's were readily available for them to purchase. Thankfully he grew out of that -fast forward to today, you couldn't get him to eat anything sweet for any amount of money.

    But thank you for the perspective - it made for interesting reading and thought

  7. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I just had to comment... I have a huge smile on my face. Your difficult child really paid attention!

    I've never seen Froot Loops with Marshmallows - YUCK! That would be like putting sugar on your sugar, to me. I do like cereals such as Rice Chex (little rice squares, minimal sugar) and Shredded Wheat (not the frosted kind) for snacks, though. No milk. The serving is 3/4 cup because it's supposed to be "part of this nutritious breakfast" including, say, eggs, a meat, fruit or juice...

    New York City is just too big for me. Too big, too busy. Cincinnati and Columbus hurt my head, and they're SMALL comparatively speaking.

    We do have lots of great ethnic food. I just wish we could get true chorizo in Ohio. Food in restaurants... Depends on the restaurant! Waffle House is cheap. Red Lobster, medium price... And specialty places like Flemings - OMG!!

    We don't have a VAT (yet) on our vehicles, we do have more room for them, and again comparatively, gas here is REALLY inexpensive.

    Our minimum wage is like $7.25 an hour... I believe that is about 5.86 Euros?? But even so, it is not required that they have any kind of "benefits" such as medical insurance or anything else unless they work more than about 30 hours a week on average. For instance Onyxx gets nothing like that. Me? Well, we've unionized. I think this is something else you don't have? Grocery baggers are there because it was a way to get younger people into the work force, and now we are used to it. I love going to the stores where I bag my own stuff. I don't end up with 40 lbs. of canned goods in one flimsy plastic bag that way. And, yes, difficult children seem to get jobs more easily than the rest of us!!!

    There are a lot of teensy or huge people. Technically if I plug my weight into a BMI calculator right now I am morbidly obese for my height. But then those calculators don't take into account that right now I'm two people! Even so - BFF and her hubby, my other BFF, are very much overweight. Your difficult child would have loved my immediate family - all of us are pretty normal weight - husband is 170 lbs at 72", Jett 155 at 63", Onyxx 135 at 63", me AND Bean 185 at 63", Raven is the skinny one at 140 at 72". My Mom thinks she is HUGE and she is 170 at 63". (Yeah, we're all about the same height, LOL!) Once I deliver Bean, I will be about 20 lbs overweight. I'll be happy to go to 140-145.

    It's not just packaging, though that is bad; we also waste huge amounts of usable resources. Like food. Drives me NUTS when the kids do this. I eat the crusts on my sandwiches. The kids do, too, now, to avoid my wrath.

    My commute is 10-15 minutes. I hate being cooped up any longer. I cannot imagine having to commute more than 30 one way.

    ...I drive a 5-speed manual... By choice. The salesman could not believe I wanted one. I like the control and the fun quotient!

    I wish we did not have to work so much. We have little time for vacation. I think this could make a huge difference in our health... And as for busy, I like to be busy but I like to have time to relax, too. I hate the overscheduling that goes on with our kids.

    I have specific charities I support, though not always monetarily. I have my beliefs, too, but rarely attend church...

    Homework is a pet peeve of mine. It's busywork. I can see finishing classwork, but mostly the repetition of the subjects is pointless and more stressful than it should be. I always thought term papers were busywork, too. Now I lived on the USA/Mexico border so we took Spanish every year, so in 9th grade I took half a year of German. Then in 10th grade I moved to Ohio and it wasn't required, in fact Jett isn't taking anything and Onyxx dropped out of Spanish after 3 weeks because it was "too hard"... They haven't made either of them take anything like that. I think it would be useful for them. AP classes have college credit, so some of them are very difficult.

    When I was a kid - we had 30 minutes of recess in the morning, AND afternoon, AND at lunch. Now? HAHAHAHAHA. 15 minutes if they're lucky in the morning, and a few minutes after lunch... That's it.

    I prefer a small amount of candy to that much sugar on my cereal... LOL! And we eat a LOT of candy. That's my opinion though.

    Also, our bottles of soft drinks are 2.5 servings - HAHAHAHAHA. 0.6 liters = 2.5 servings.
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Those 5-speed manual transmissions? Around here, if you've got an "econo-box" car (small commuter, cheap on gas, low on both space and power)... the only way you're going anywhere in the winter is with a 5-speed manual. The automatics shift at the wrong places for winter driving, and you end up fishtailing... IF you can even get going. So... I drove a 5-speed for years. Otherwise? mostly seen in sports cars and hot trucks.

    As far as recess goes... around here, they are guaranteed an hour for lunch - of which they can only spend 20 minutes eating. Two 15-min recesses. And some schools are now scheduling shorter PE classes... daily. Because... kids need to MOVE. Yes, it is backed by research.
  9. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    IC, I wish they'd do that here!

    Actually, Jett will have PE classes daily for an entire quarter. Then no more for the year.
  10. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    You are right ;) he is curious kid like that. Either he doesn't pay attention at all and notices nothing, or he notices everything. That is one thing I have enjoyed always with him. He does often have his own, unique perspective and observations. Sometimes they are great fun :bigsmile:

    In fact we, officially, don't have any set minimum wage. But if it gets under 6 euro, there is a good chance that government agency that oversees worker safety issues gets interested and police will be looking if there is any extortion etc. going on. Lowest real salaries tend to be up from 7 euro. We do have very strong workers' unions that are the ones negotiating minimum wages and other benefits for their business with employers' unions. Law just states some ground rules about vacation length, double salaries on Sundays, maximum overtime work etc. to protect the weakest.

    That is dead on. And reason we prefer manuals. Even with bigger cars it is very difficult to drive in deeper snow (or get yourself out of snow mound) with automatics. Manual gives you more control.
  11. These observations are very true for Canadians as well. I think our obesity rate is slightly lower than the US (but we are catching up fast) and our unemployment rate is slightly lower than the US right now as well - but not as low as yours, Suzir. Our minimum wage is $10.25/hour and our dollar is almost at par with the US dollar right now.

    We rarely eat those sugary cereals. Once a year, maybe. There's enough junk available that I just don't think they need to start their breakfast with it.

    I can drive both manual and automatic but I drive an automatic - just more convenient. husband just bought a BMW that has 'sport mode' so you can shift gears like a manual without the clutch. Fun driving if you're on the highway without hurting his bad knee.

    And yes, homework is a huge pet peeve of mine. Much of it is busy work and my easy child is so busy after school with dance that it is difficult to balance busy work homework, dance and necessary homework. Ugh.

    Very insightful observations by your difficult child.
  12. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    What is a litre? Ha-ha. It is so interesting to see things from another country, even slight differences. We always go to Canada in the summer, half the boxes of food are on French and half in English- also things like cereal may be the same type box, but inside is a different product, like Fruit Loops would be little balls that taste NOTHING like Fruit Loops here. The candy is all so different there, even though there are pictures on the label....WTH is it? It's just different and cool! I always like to try new things, but things are so, so weird!!!! It's mostly inedible to me- we bring our own. But the fisheries sell fresh fish, so fresh it's coming off the boat. OMG Haddock from Nova Scotia. I could cry, it's so good. I'm glad you child had such insights on others and products, it's so cool, he most likely can't even tell you all he experienced. There just isn't words! Good for him!
  13. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Interesting stuff! I'm glad that he got the opportunity to get a look at us. I've never been to NYC, but I hope to go one day. It's really mind-boggling how vast our country is in area.

    I think that one of the reasons that we have automatic transmissions is because we do drive that far and that long and the traffic really is that bad. Using the clutch to brake in stop and go traffic for an hour or so is murder.
  14. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Sorry, British spelling for liter. And I forgot to change that one (I do try to use US measurements etc. because it makes more sense that one person has to do the conversions than that many have to.) By the way, how would tell quantity of something around liter? Would it be more common to say a quart or two pints or four cups. I did wonder because a liter is a very 'basic' quantity to us. We say a lot of half a liter, one third of a liter, 5 liters etc. Do you commonly use for example quart or would it be more common to say two pints? And two quarts or half a gallon?
  15. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    We would say a quart and a half gallon. Although, most of our liquids come in a half gallon or gallon, except for soda which comes in 2 liter bottles (besides 12 oz cans), and half and half comes in quart sizes I think (I don't drink coffee, so I'm not 100% sure). Most people would have to look up that 1 quart is 4 cups.

    There is a joke around here that a manual car comes with a built in theft guard because so few know how to drive them. I don't know how to, but my son and his wife will only drive manuals. My mom stopped driving a manual when we lived in Atlanta and she was riding the clutch in traffic all the time. I drove 4 hours a day for work when I lived in Atlanta - 2 hours each way. More if there was a really bad accident.

    Food portions in restaurant are huge, and I usually order off of the appetizer menu - and that's still too much for me. They do this to draw people in as food costs are the lowest expense for restaurants. Wait staff in restaurants have a minimum wage of $3-something an hour because they are tipped employees.

    The only federal law about benefits is that anything worked over 40 hours in a week is overtime (paid at time and a half). According to federal law, 40 hours is full time. There are no federal laws pertaining to sick leave, vacation, or employer provided health benefits. Some states have laws requiring paid sick days, although my state isn't one of them. Companies add those benefits to attract the better employees. However, in this economy with 8.3% unemployment, they start cutting those benefits back. Some companies have policies where 30 or 35 hours is considered full time. At the firm I worked for before I became disabled, you could get employer provided health insurance if you worked 25 hours a week. However, only full time (40 hours plus) employees got paid sick days (5 per year) and paid vacation (2 weeks per year). We don't have free university, tech or vocational schools, and even before the recession I was seeing jobs requiring a 4 year college degree that were paying $10/hour. A 4 year degree can cost anywhere between $25,000 and $50,000 (or more) and it is generally required that you start paying school loans back (with interest) starting 6 months after you finish school. I guess they figure you're going to live with your parents or with roommates because you can't really live on your own on $10/hour here with school loans to pay back.

    Busywork homework and little to no recess have been huge complaints since my son started school (he is now 21). It is very different from when I was in school even, and I had my son when I turned 18. I credit the little to no recess to the huge uptick in ADHD diagnosis's. If the kids can't sit still because they aren't getting enough exercise, they need medication - or that seems to be the mindset of a lot of people. How well a child "stays on task" is now part of a report card in elementary school. As far as homework, schools teach to proficiency tests here that grade the schools and teachers based on how well the kids test on a test given once a year. Repetition and rote memorization are drilled into the kids, and there is also a lot of drilling on how to take a test. It's a huge flaw in our educational system. AP Calculus is the hardest math class in high school here, in general (AP stands for Advanced Placement so a student generally has to test into the class, or have received a certain grade or higher in the AP math class preceding that one.)

    Obesity is a huge problem and there is more than one cause. Food portions have gotten larger. "Junk" food is quite a bit cheaper than healthy food. And a couple of decades ago the government or the American Medical Association, or whoever it was, decided - based on one flawed study - that saturated fat was the really bad thing responsible for heart disease. So the low fat trend started, and food was altered to have less fat, which meant that they added sugar and carbs to replace the flavor. Too much saturated fat isn't good, of course, but too many carbs is worse. (Speaking of food, GMO (genetically modified) food isn't labeled here like it is in the EU, so if you were eating Kellogg's cereal chances are you had some GMO food. Most of our corn and almost all of our soybeans are genetically modified. Not sure if that is a concern of yours or not.) As far as portion sizes in the nutrition information - no, we generally don't measure it out and eat it as it says, and we don't share a can of soda. Often people are fooled by portion sizes in product labeling. They don't read the part where it says, Number of servings: 2. It is often just assumed that it is a single serving, and assumed that the nutritional information listed is for a single serving instead of doubling it. I personally would have a hard time eating 3/4 cup of cereal plus milk.

    People being so busy makes me tired. Everyone is always in such a hurry. On the other hand, we don't get as much time off from work as people in Europe and we try to fit in the fun stuff when we can. Personally, I require downtime or I am just not pleasant at all to be around. Also, when two people meet for the first time, often the first question is, "What do you do?", meaning - what is your job or profession. I've heard that's not necessarily the case in other countries, though I don't have any personal experience with that. Here your job position or profession seems to define you, and people are definitely preoccupied with that.

    My son and I were talking last week about our cars being bigger than cars in Europe, and I think just about every other country. He was telling me that North America is the only continent where the Honda Accord is sold (the Accord is basically a larger version of the Honda Civic). We seem to have some weird preoccupation with size. I have a Mazda3 that is small and easy to parallel park, gets good gas mileage, and can only comfortably seat people in the back if they don't have legs. :)
  16. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    LOL Heather, you give a good explanation of the US but I sure hope with your little car you dont end up with any grandchildren soon or end up needing an electric wheelchair. I can barely fit car seats into my Focus now because they increased the size of the mandatory car seats and the one I bought will not fit in my focus in the way it was made to turn rear facing. I had to give it to Cory and Mandy for their SUV. I use one of the older and smaller ones you can haul around. Not the legal one but oh well. If I had all 4 down Keyana would have to sit in the front even though she is too young. My car will also not hold one of those lifts for the power chairs. I am going to eventually have to trade in for a minivan. I hate the thought of putting another car payment on me but it seems inevitable if it comes to that. And from what I understand of the cost to get a van customized...oh my gosh! I have no clue how I will ever be able to afford it. Right now I cant even lift my regular wheelchair into the trunk by myself so I dont take it out alone. Its pointless.
  17. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    That is exactly the problem... we had to get rid of our econoboxes because... the kids don't fit in the back seat - not either one of them. They are tall, but worse than that, they are "all leg"... very, VERY long-legged.
    We're stuck with... vans, or full-size crew-cab trucks - or boat-sized luxury cars and even then the back seat isn't big enough. Ain't nothin' else out there that fits a 38"+ inseam.
  18. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    It's a smaller car, but it is definitely not an econobox car. I love my car and the main reason I got it is because I don't hurt in this car like I have in other cars. If I do hurt, the seats are heated and that helps a lot. 28/40 gas mileage doesn't hurt either. easy child and his wife aren't planning on having kids for at least 10 years, if at all, and difficult child probably won't (and shouldn't) have kids. Chances are high that easy child and his wife will be living out of state by then. They're going to have to move for grad school, and neither are in love with this state.
  19. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    difficult child can't even fit in the driver's seat of that car. No joke.
    I would be able to drive it and enjoy it... I've always liked them. But... too many years left before the kids leave home. <grin>
  20. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Then he would have to be extremely tall. I have a 34" inseam and there is plenty of room left to move the seat back, and it has a telescoping steering wheel.