Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The French Are Right (sometimes)

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend a wedding celebration in Zurich. My favorite part (besides seeing friends) was the dessert buffet. There was chocolate mousse. There was vanilla mousse. There was strawberry shortcake. There was apple strudel. And there were cream puffs. So of course I took some of everything.

While we Americans piled our plates high with sweets the French guy sitting next to me had taken just one chocolate mousse and put it in the center of his plate. He shook his head at our indulgence and told us that it was better to enjoy just one small thing than stuff yourself silly. In other words, he was very French and we were very American.

It was only the next day that I realized sometimes the French are right.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The search for the long lost cup holder

If you're an American and you rent cars in places other than North America, chances are you'll have this experience:

You buy a soda at a grocery store or gas station. You get in the car, open it, start to drink it, and then look for where to set it down so you can get on your way. You try setting it in this place and that and finally come to the conclusion that the car is missing one important thing: a cup holder.

It's taken me five years of living in Europe but I now know to not expect a cup holder in my car. A cup holder is an American thing.

I had never considered this before. But when you think about it, what self-respecting European drinks on the run? No, better to spend 5 Euros on one soda or coffee and enjoy it for a few hours at a cafe.

But the cup holder phenomenon goes beyond cars. Take baby strollers. In the U.S., you can get a baby stroller complete with, you guessed it, a cup holder. European strollers, on the other hand, have places for shopping bags instead.

Have you ever searched for a cup holder and come up empty?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Not a time to celebrate

I heard the news from Swiss radio first: "Osama bin Laden ist tot."

"Really? They finally got him?" These were my thoughts as I lay in bed. Surprise. Disbelief. And finally, hope that the world will be a safer place.

And then I went to the NewYorkTimes.com and CNN.com and saw photos of Americans around the U.S. celebrating Osama's death with flags, fireworks, and cheers.

And then my hope was gone.

Have we learned nothing over the last ten years? Shame on people for celebrating death so outwardly. And double shame on the media for posting these photos on the Internet for the world to see.

Of course, following this story was another piece about how the terror level is even higher.

Yep. Instead of reacting in a way that would not feed a terrorist's motives any more than necessary, we celebrated in a way that would make them hate us even more.

Perhaps Americans abroad have a different view of these kind of events than those back home. If I had billions to donate to a cause, I would make sure all Americans could experience a world outside of their borders.

Until then, I guess the celebrations will continue.

What do you think?


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