Monday, January 23, 2006

A Comparison in Pictures

Even though we've been here for four months or so now, every other waking moment I'm thinking, "Oh my goodness, I'm living in America". I dare say I'll get used to it eventually.

Water Tower

Water towers are everywhere. One does see them in the UK, but not very often.

US Fire Hydrant

UK fire hydrant cover and signThis is a fire hydrant. You may recognise them from cartoons as being dog-urinals. The exact shape and colour varies between districts. In England, fire hydrants tend to be under the pavement (sidewalk), with only the cover showing and a nearby "H" sign.

Interstate road signsIn the UK, any numbered road has it's own unique number. Different sections of a road can have different numbers, but a single stretch cannot have more than one designation. For example, the A50 just east of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, suddenly and for no apparent reason, becomes the A511. It then turns back into the A50. At no stage is it ever the A50/A511. In the US, a road can have more than one number designated. One of many possible examples of this is where the I40 joins with the I85 between Greensboro and Durham. During this stretch, it is the I40/I85.

UK postboxUS mailboxBritish houses tend to have letterboxes in their front doors, through which the postman posts letters. The postman collects letter from postboxes that are situated at convenient places around the neighbourhood. (As an aside: each postbox bears the insignia of whichever monarch was incumbent when the postbox was made. This one was a George V box (1911 - 1935).) Here, the postman collects and delivers letters via mailboxes (red flag up means that there is mail to be collected). Each home has its own mailbox.

The other thing worth mentioning under this topic is the way newspapers are delivered. Have you ever seen, in films, a paperboy/girl who goes round on their bike, just throwing the papers in the general direction of each house? When I was younger, I put it down to the paperboy/girl in the film being too lazy to get off their bikes. As I grew older and saw it in film after film, I put it down to just being a film-cliche (like the tramp with the booze). Now I realise that the films depict it this way because it's actually true -- papers are just thrown onto people's driveways! This is yet another example of how moving to the US is like leaving real life and entering the world of TV and films.

US FlagFlags are everywhere -- even on the front of private homes! In the UK, flags only tend to come out for special occasions. I guess the recitation of the Pledge of allegiance in schools can also be mentioned here. In the UK, most schools have Assembly at least once a week. The whole school meets together in the school hall. This used to be to pray (and still is in many schools -- especially those with religious affiliations), but these days the praying has mostly been displaced by other activities.
Pecan pie

Pecan pie and Thanksgiving. 'Nough said.

School Bus
Otto driving a school bus
Yes, there really are big yellow school busses like the one Otto drives in The Simpsons!

Highway 98

Long, straight roads that stretch out into the distance. One can bang the car into cruise control and just enjoy the ride.

Feel free to add your tuppence worth. If I can get some more pictures, I may one day get round to doing another post like this one.


Michael Pahl said...

This is great! I was wondering where all the fire hydrants are over here! :-) Back home in Canada we have a fire hydrant right outside our house, and across the street is a school at which a dozen or more big yellow school buses stop every day. And nice long, straight roads everywhere you go...

Lorraine said...

I am so enjoying seeing America from a British perspective. Welcome to America. We're weird as bloody hell but not without our charms. (I felt the same way when I saw a double decker bus in London...geez, it really IS like the movies).

Michael said...

A favorite pasttime of young redneck boys is to climb said water towers and spray paint messages. Thus, in Jeff Foxworthy's famous "you might be a redneck if..." routine, one of his best is: "If you have to climb the water tower to defend your sisters honor, you might be a redneck."