All things Virginian

On our way down the Skyline DriveFor the past four days or so we have been touring around Virginia with Dad and Mom T and I must say I have laid eyes on some of the most beautiful sights in nature that I have ever seen. The Shenandoah Valley surrounded by the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains are just stunning. Everything looks like a postcard. I really couldn’t believe I was actually walking around amongst these extremely beautiful sights.

And yes I’m still seeing and experiencing new things on a daily basis and I love it. Here is my list of observations for this post:

For those residing in the US, can anyone answer this little dilemma of mine? Why are public bathroom doors so short? I mean, why does everyone have to see my legs when I’m doing whatever I choose to do behind those closed doors? I feel it is an invasion of my bathroom privacy somehow. Am I the only one bothered by this? I wonder.

Glen Burnie gardenAs I understand it, any trip to the US is not complete without a visit to the one and only Wal-Mart. On my first visit I saw some things with which I was unfamiliar. First was an almost blatant display of obesity. Oh my God! I have never seen people that obese in my whole life. I kept looking at one woman while trying to decipher what I witnessing. Then I decided to stop before I made a fool of myself. I saw people packing extra weight in places I never knew people could carry fat, like on their back for example. Somehow, this made me feel good about my weight.

Another interesting sight was the Mennonites. When I first saw a woman with a small cap on her head I thought it was some form of fashion statement. But when I saw a second woman with the same white hat, I knew something was going on. Luckily, the husband was there to provide me with the answer.

I’m now in the process of Americanizing my accent. While in London I spent some effort Anglicizing it but it didn’t really work out. Let’s see if my efforts pay off this time. The first thing I’m working on is pronouncing the word "water." Instead of saying "wa-ter," which I guess is the British pronunciation, I’m trying to say it the American way: "wa-der." I guess I still sound weird but I will keep trying none-the-less.

That’s all for now. More to come as time allows.

29 Comments

  1. Linda June 1, 2005 at 2:17 pm

    hahahaha. this is too funny. as for bathroom doors, this is so true, for some. not all, but some. and the same thing goes for women’s dressing rooms in some clothing stores. this was actually a conversation between george and jerry on senfield.
    as for wal-mart, oh no, i cant believe you went in there. okay, well i guess you had to go in there at least one time to check it out for your self. yes, obesity very much exists in this country, and well, its an epedemic. i wonder what other things you noticed at wal mart?

    Reply
  2. natasha June 1, 2005 at 4:26 pm

    Ok Linda, tell me what ‘s wrong with Wal-Mart;-)

    Reply
  3. Alan B. June 1, 2005 at 5:20 pm

    Keep the British accent! Americans love it. A Brit reading the phone book sounds better than an American reading the Gettysburg address. If you had an Eastern European accent, that would be another matter.

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  4. hareega June 1, 2005 at 6:05 pm

    i remeber that funny comment by Bill Maher
    “Stop describing anyone is a Nazi. George Bush is not a Nazi, Republicans or democrates are not nazis, Nobody is Nazis……..except for Walmart :D”.
    As an obese man i enjoy being in america because i’m having an average weight here. I guess the main problem is people don’t advise the obese to lose weight because it may hurt their feelings. In Jordan i remeber almost everybody telling “beddaksh ten7af sheklak zay el feel” and my grandmother told me “3am tensa7 ya jiddeh sayer methel el bagara”, and my freidns’ first impression 8 months after seeing me was, even before 7amdella 3al salameh, “waaaaaaal sho amerka 3amleh feek”
    Anyway Natasha a few more weeks in america and you’ll recognize that there’s no american accent. There’s the american black accent where many words are read almost backwords (aks instead of ask” and the second half of every word is not pronounced and the southern accent and the asian-american accent where all letters are pronounced alike, and you’ll find arabs speaking english with ya3ni and bass and ma3lesh and aah as every other word, and the hispanicks who are the majority here start speaking in english then ben3ajgo and go “hombre yo no hablo el inglez por favor hable en solo el espanol” šŸ˜€ šŸ˜€
    o u’ll recognize that the american accent we know “the muhannad jazeereh accent” is not sth you’ll hear often in the street.
    enjoy ur time in the united sa

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  5. Linda June 1, 2005 at 6:33 pm

    you really want me to tell you Natasha or are you just being sarcastic?

    Reply
  6. hareega June 1, 2005 at 6:44 pm

    yeah what’s the reason for the short restroom doors? why is there a 20 X 50 cm hole in the bottom of each door? ka7ateet bedhom ywafro khashab? šŸ˜€

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  7. Kagehi June 1, 2005 at 7:57 pm

    1. Obesity. Well.. When you have an endless supply of food and the people selling it are the primary lobbying groups responsible for setting government policy about it… Oh wait, I am a liberal, so I am *supposed* to be apposed to the government telling people they are idiots… But speaking of which, there is a movie called, “Super Size Me”, which was made about the subject. One of its funner points was that Bush’s new ‘No student left behind’ nonsense is causing schools to do the only thing some of them are good at, cutting physical education, extra curricular activities and sports, in favor of teaching kids how the fill in the right blanks on the tests that are ‘supposed to’ tell us how much they are learning. Rather than figure out what is wrong, set a universal basic standard, then enforce it in a rational way, we get tests. So now we are getting both stupider ‘and’ fatter as a country. Somehow people seem to have missed that in the last 50 year the world have gotten 50 times more complex, teachers have fallen behind even their students and ‘fixing’ the problem by using 1950’s logic about schooling is a ‘bad idea'(tm).
    2. Your accent. I agree, keep the british one. NY doesn’t sound like the south, and the south sounds nothing like the rest of the country. My sister lives in West Virginia and we living in Arizona can barely understand her. lol Now, I am sure we mangle a bit of it over here too. Like ‘warsh’ instead of ‘wash’, but imho, no where near as badly as it seems people in the south east do. šŸ˜‰

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  8. jareer June 1, 2005 at 9:16 pm

    Short restrooms ? This is the 10 million dollar question I have never had a satisfying answer for so far (10 years in the US). But I can tell you few facts in connection to this subject; first, I prefer the Turkish toilet with negative comments mentioned in a previous post over this kind of short door one. Second, Way to go, this is the land of shameless; you stay shy, I say bye-bye. Third, Ventilation is natural in this kind of restroom. Fourth, to keep the person on his/ her toes. In traditional, full door restrooms, people tend to compose songs, or start wistling; in this short door version, its practical, do it, and get out !

    Reply
  9. Luai June 1, 2005 at 10:05 pm

    I never really thought about the bathroom door length. Men have the urinals with usually nothing between them. YIKES! I guess you won’t have to worry about that unless you accidentally walk through the wrong door…and believe me you’ll know right away and run out of there so fast. At some stadiums there is a communal urinal which is basically a converted bathtub with water trickling through it. Really gross….but when 5000 people have to go at the same time this is the only way to do it.
    As for accents…I say Midwest accents are the coolest. Everyone can understand us!
    As for the wieght issue..come to Detroit to experience the most overweight city in the US. Even the mayor is talking about taxing fast food restaurants.
    Natasha hope you and Jeff are enjoying yourselves. I would like to hear more about any culture shock you are experiencing.
    Linda, you could always put “Walmart Sux” on your cap. Bet you’d like that.

    Reply
  10. iyas June 1, 2005 at 11:38 pm

    my friend from England once made the same comment about bathroom doors, he also noticed that they never fully close; there is always about half a centimeter which everybody can peek through. i personally don’t care since i am an exhibitionist.
    now if the bathroom doors are annoying you that much, i recommend raising you feet above the ground when you are sitting on the toilet. however, this is a delicate task as you run the risk of falling back and breaking you skull against the wall, or worse falling in the toilet itself. now many bathroom stalls have a rail next to the toilet paper holder. you can certainly use that rail to hold on to when you raise your feet, otherwise, try to find a prop to hold on to.
    best of luck, if you have any questions, email me. I’ll draw you a diagram.

    Reply
  11. Desert Island Boy June 1, 2005 at 11:54 pm

    Oh GOD NO!!!
    Jeff I can’t believe you let her into a WalMart!
    For the good of mankind, please consider using Tar-zjhay!
    And I haven’t figured the Mennonites out yet, even though one of my friends is of a proud Menonnite heritage. This much I do know, is that they are adamantly pacifist and stand against war in ways other conservative denominations in the US don’t seem to.
    Shenandoah is great! You must go in the fall when the leaves turn. Also, you’ll have to take a trip to Monticello and Colonial Williamsburg. Unless you dropkick that and just beeline to King’s Dominion.
    I’m still shocked to read that you’re stateside!

    Reply
  12. kinzi June 2, 2005 at 1:31 am

    I know why the doors are so short! It’s so you can crawl out if the lock gets jammed. Wait til you have kids…they crawl out before you are done and you may have to exit quickly unzipped.
    Obesity…wait til you visit Birmingham! And make sure to visit the “Country Home Buffet” to see the ultimate effects of a culture indulging itself to death.
    Linda, only 30 days until I get my Wal*Mart fix!
    I can’t wait! ;)Hey, enjoyed your story about Las Vegas. Can’t believe you FLEW!

    Reply
  13. hareega June 2, 2005 at 2:26 am

    wait to be shocked by the people
    before my first visit to america i thought americans were
    1- So Smart- turned out that the majority have average or below average IQs, and some are reallly stupid.
    2- So mean, turned out they are so kind and ready to help.
    3- So arrogant, absolutely not, many of them are down to earth and are just themselves.
    4- So clean and classy, no no no no!! Without generalization of course.
    I guess human beings are human beings wherever you go!

    Reply
  14. Linda June 2, 2005 at 3:47 am

    Okay, where ever you go in America, you will come across so many differnt types of people. that’s the greatest thing about this country.
    but, in regards to public bathrooms, just try avoiding them. i have using a public bathroom.
    and here is a tip when using one: after conducting your business-
    1. Turn the faucet on and rinse your hands a bit.
    2. leave the faucet on, go to the paper towel holder and pull down some paper twoel. Let it hang there.
    3. Go back to the faucet and now clean your hands real well.
    4. After cleaning your hands, do not turn the faucet off. First, grab the paper twoel you pulled down earlier, dry your hands, and then with the paper towel, turn the faucet off.
    5. Do not throw away the papertowel just yet. Use that paper twoel to open the door as you exit.
    6. Once outside of the bathroom, find a trash can and toss the darn thing!

    Reply
  15. kinzi June 2, 2005 at 3:51 am

    Or, bring some anti-bacterial hand gel everywhere. Natasha and Jeff might feel guilty using all that water.

    Reply
  16. luai June 2, 2005 at 11:57 am

    Linda,
    I can’t believe you do that too. I am exactly the same way and ususally get laughed at for it. I really hate it when someone takes your towel before you get a chance to grab it. You then have to start again at step 1. And I never understood with the automatic flushing systems, automatic faucets, and automatic paper towel dispensers…you still have to open the door with your hands. What I really hate are those places who only have the hand dryers; on some you have to press the button to start them…then how do they expect you to open the door touching all those germs. Something about saving the environment not providing towels…but what about my health.
    Natasha,
    For men atleast, there is nothing to worry about regarding bathroom privacy as long as they don’t violate the unspoken “rules”. Never look up and if you need to say somthing or have a discussion, you never make eye contact. Violators could very well find themselves getting their @$$ kicked.
    And finally whatever you do NEVER, I repeat NEVER, enter a Port-A-Potty!
    http://www.portakleen.com/porta_singles.html

    Reply
  17. natasha June 2, 2005 at 12:30 pm

    Ok guys I’m serious. What’s wrong with Wal-mart. It has almost everything you need and it is very cheap. what’s the problem? Enlighten me.

    Reply
  18. Linda June 2, 2005 at 1:27 pm

    Natasha,
    The problem with Wal-Mart is that it is a combination of all the evilness that exists within our consumer, corporate society. Yes they donate money to charaties and yes everything is cheap there. But, if you look into their business practices you will know what I am talking about. I can’t go into detail now about them, because I have to go to the local fabric store and buy some rinestones for my graduation cap. When I come back home late at night, Ill give you a list of some the unethical things they do as a business.

    Reply
  19. Desert Island Boy June 2, 2005 at 6:16 pm

    Ah, Wal-Mart!
    Beyond the shoddy service, the overcrowded check-out lines and inferior products, which I grant you, can be attributed to my personal tastes. (I will concede that Sam’s Club will have usually good quality products)
    However, WalMart is the frontrunner in the race to the bottom. They’re this growing behemoth that destroys local flavor. It’s not so bad in suburbia, but in small towns and densely urban areas, a new Walmart is the death knell for small mom-and-pop stores, specialty stores, instead absorbing those who can no longer compete into their near slave labor workforce. They have no union to protect their workers, who more often than not have to pay out of pocket for their health insurance.
    Walmart is such a big retailer that it can dictate prices to its suppliers, even if those suppliers, usually in third world countries have to operate at a loss just to keep Walmart’s business. There is no way that an American manufacturer can competitively supply merchandise to a Walmart anymore. Walmart beats out several COUNTRIES as one of China’s top ten export customers, independent of any other US trade customers.
    And it’s track record in dealing with female employees is downright medeival. It just recently settled or lost, I can’t recall correctly, a large discrimination suit.
    Walmart isn’t the only one doing it, but the story is that Walmart is the Poster Child for American corporate greed and exploitation.
    I mentioned one other outlet earlier, and there is another discount warehouse that used to be called Price Club (I hold myself to strict rules about not giving corporations free publicity, unless it’s critical in nature) Search your feelings you will. They are more community friendly and can be close to competitive with Walmart

    Reply
  20. jareer June 2, 2005 at 6:21 pm

    Hey,
    There is nothing wrong with wal-mart.
    Just buy from where you like until you find something you don’t like to a degree you no longer desire to buy from them.
    All others try to “Ishabbi7” 3alayki since you are new in this wonderful land.
    They have their reasons not to shop there, and you have your reasons why you buy from them; thats all what matters.

    Reply
  21. Arash June 2, 2005 at 8:14 pm

    It has almost everything you need and it is very cheap. what’s the problem? Enlighten me.

    Except meat. That’s because they took out the whole department when their meatcutters decided to unionize. They’re shutting an entire store in Quebec for the same reason. Cheap indeed.

    Reply
  22. metalordie June 2, 2005 at 8:37 pm

    IS GEORGE LUCAS VIRGINIAN?
    Doesn’t matter. Revenge of the Sith kicks the penultimate quintessential frolicking-through-the-rainbow-pot-of-Gold behindo.

    Reply
  23. kinzi June 3, 2005 at 3:41 am

    Metal! You’re back! I couldn’t find your blog and had been wanted to hear your comments on Sith.
    Wal*Mart just perfected what KMart and Target have been doing for years. Linda, I think a large percentage of the population of the US can’t afford to shop at stores (even the mom-pop stores) that you mentioned in an earlier blog about this awhile back. DKNY, I think you mentioned? I buy that at Souk Il Abdali used for a JD a pop, but retail, it would never be in my closet.
    Ethics like that MAY just be for the rich. Tell me more of your opinion when you get back! If I buy clothes at garge sales, I can send the 97% I save to Iraq. Same with the 25% I save buying toothpaste at Wal*Mart.

    Reply
  24. Dalia June 3, 2005 at 9:17 am

    Teesh – go to the inflatable pool section at Wal-Mart and look for a slip’n’slide
    You’ll see I wasn’t making it up šŸ˜‰

    Reply
  25. Jim June 3, 2005 at 10:27 am

    Rest assured the vast majority of us can afford to shop at Mom & Pop stores. Unfortuately Wal-Mart has driven most out of business.
    Natasha I wish I knew where you and your husband were going to be in VA. My uncle and family live in Vienna, VA and I might be able to arrange a nice dinner.
    Virginia is truly beautiful this time of the year. If I could recommend something I would say try visiting the VMI campus. While the campus is impressive what you want to visit is the chapel where Robert E. Lee is buried. It’s a breathtaking monument to one of the countries most noble citizens.
    I would also recommend visiting Thomas Jefferson’s estate at Montecello. Equally impressive.
    Warm regards,
    Jim

    Reply
  26. kinzi June 3, 2005 at 2:36 pm

    Jim, I’m glad in your sphere Americans are doing so well financially. Vast majority? Maybe in Virginia. And paying off the credit cards every month? Other than your taxes, any getting invested in Iraq? I’m not being sarcastic, and I am smiling. šŸ™‚

    Reply
  27. Jim June 3, 2005 at 3:11 pm

    Mom and Pop stores, the kind that dominated most of America before chain retailers, were usually owned by families either new to the area or the country. They always remained competitive due to other stores locally that would quickly garner business if one fell out of line.
    My family owned a general store, a la Sam Drucker on “Pettycoat Junction” for over 40 years. When grocery chains like A&P appeared they swept the smaller stores away. (A&P was actually the reason many monopoly laws were passed in the U.S.) Once you factor in centralized distribution, group buying and volume discounts it is extremely hard for individual stores to keep up.
    Out of hand credit card balances have little to do with Wal-Mart and I’m not sure where they come in to the discussion. If it’s an attempt to tweak me I’ll just point out that that if you’re not prepared to pay for what you buy then you shouldn’t buy it.
    As far as investing in Iraq goes I think Iraq is uniquely positioned to come out of the current turmoil as a Middle Eastern country with tremendous advantages both in investment and infrastructure. Much of this will come from foreign investors but a significant portion will come from Iraqi citizens. If, again, you’re trying to tweak me then the answer is “Nuts!”
    FYI: I live in Minnesota where we have the 3rd highest taxes in the country. Darn communists. (lol)

    Reply
  28. Mark James June 4, 2005 at 1:02 am

    The doors on the toilets are high so people can mop under them more easily. Nobody cares about seeing people’s feet. Also, it is a security feature so people don’t have sex in the bathroom, or whatever.

    Reply
  29. kinzi June 4, 2005 at 2:02 am

    Jim, I understand your position a little better, your fam having felt the effects. The “mom and pop” stores I grew up with in Lake Tahoe made a fortune fleecing the locals who had to drive 60 miles to get stuff other than gas and food. The ones my hubby grew up with in cenral IL closed when Dollar General came, not Wal*Mart. In Jordan, we actually forgo Safeway to shop at the mom-n-pop stores in our neighborhood.
    Credit card comment came from Calif friends, who can afford the brand-name stuff only because their credit cards are maxed. Meaning, no charitable giving and high anxiety levels.
    No tweaking intended. (Except for Linda, this is her passion and she has some great ideas about it)

    Reply

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