American Lifestyle

Chronicles of a Spanish student in the land of freedom

TV WATCHING IN THE USA

According to A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day; this is the same than talk about 28 hours/week, two months of nonstop TV-watching per year or for a person of 69 years old that means spend 9 years in front of the idiot box like a vegetable.

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The problem it’s so serious, TV addiction have awful consequences like sedentary life (people drop sports to watch TV), lack of communication in the bosom of the families, aggressive behaviors in easily influence people (when the kids finishes elementary school they have seen in average on TV 8,000 murders and by the age of 18 200,000 violent acts; the 79 percent of the Americans believe that TV violence helps precipitate real life mayhem) or health problems (obesity, vision issues, etc.).

The statistics are frightening:

– Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 3,5
– Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680
– Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV and spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54
– Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
– Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500 hours
– Percentage of Americans who say that they watch too much TV: 49
– Number of videos rented daily in the U.S.: 6 million
– Number of public library items checked out daily: 3 million
– Percentage of Americans who pay for cable TV: 56

But you can understand this when you see TVs on every place – banks, gymnasiums, airports, repair shops, doctors offices, department stores, restaurants, etc.-

During my searching in the Internet to document this post I read all kind of stuff and it´s really alarming read things like that in the forums:

“I didn´t know where else to put this so I´ll just put it here. I’ll just put it here. I think I’m addicted to the TV. I’m really REALLY serious. It seems to be the only thing that matters to me. If I miss a show it’s devastating to me. It’s ruined my life. I wouldn’t do my homework because a show would be on. I wouldn’t pratice piano or dance because a show would be on. I don’t do anything but watch the TV. I don’t spend time with my parents (in the short time of the day they’re actually home) I just watch TV. And I don’t know how to stop. I want to stop I want to not be addicted anymore because it is seriously ruining my life.

I am really serious about this, this is not a joke”.

But the most terrible thing is to read answers like that:

“kno how u feel im like that tooo i have to watch my shows lol or ill die my mom is the same way with some shows buh i dont think its that serious buh try to make a chart of how much u watch tv and then try to limit the amount u watch maybe that will work buh i dont see anything wrong with it”

Maybe if you are a TV addict you are wondering how can you avoid this fatal addiction. I can give you some advices to stop:

– During one week you have to count the number of hours that you watch TV.
– Write a list of all the other fun activities that you can do at home instead of watching TV. Try to consider healthy activities like read, household projects you´d like complete, exercise, family life, etc.
– Establish a limit of how much TV you can watch in one week. The objective is to reduce this amount of hours week per week until you reach a normal average.
– Finally if this “detoxification program” doesn´t works you should consider removing your TV for a set period of time.

In closing I only have to say that TV can teach and amuse and, of course, it´s a good source of distraction, but like all in this life you can´t make abuses because if you do that you will have troubles.

November 26, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

DISCRIMINATION IN ALBERTSONS?

Are foreigners discriminated against in the USA?

This is the question that I present to you reader.

A few days ago I was with my friends in the well known supermarket chain, Albertsons, trying to buy alcohol for the weekend.

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When we got to the cashier she asked us for our ID. My roommate, in a friendly way, showed her his passport, but to our surprise the cashier saids that our passports are not allowed in this shop.

We asked her, what we have to show to buy alcohol in this establishment? She answered that the only acceptable ID is the California ID. Also she offered us to talk with the boss.

Irritated, we went to talk with the manager, a squared-minded woman, who limited her explanations to say that if we don´t have a California ID we can´t purchase alcohol in this store.

So angrily we asked her the next question: so foreigners are not welcome in this establishment? Her answer… I´m sorry but I don´t make the rules and this is Albertsons’ policy, but if you want you can buy the alcohol in the shop on the other corner.

Really surprised we asked her if this is discrimination, because we want to buy the alcohol in this shop because it’s cheaper.

To sum up we couldn´t buy the alcohol. It would be interesting to consult a lawyer to see if Albertsons policy is constitutional or not.

November 12, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

POLICE ABUSE IN USA?

Why in general are police officers rude and aggressive and treat you like a criminal when they stop you?

Are Americans living in a police state?

Serious questions, but I’m convinced that there are many people who can answer this question easily because they have had such an experience.

It’s very common to hear stories told by Americans about the police abuse of authority…

Serious cases of abuse of police authority have stimulated intense public debate during the last years. For example, a videotape of Rodney King being beaten by Los Angeles police officers or reports of the torture of Abner Louima by New York City police captured the public’s attention and raised troubling questions regarding the limits of legitimate police authority in a democratic society.

Friend’s personal story

On thursday, 2.30 am, my friend was stopped in the first position of the line waiting for the green light. At this moment a friend appeared on the sidewalk. My friend, obviously, shout him to enter in the car to take him home.

A few seconds later a police car was lighting him with a white light and making stop symbols with the siren.

My friend parked his car on the hard shoulder and opened the window. A few seconds later a police officer armed with a flasligth was in his window lighting him in the eyes and shouting all kinds of crap.

The conversation went like this:

POLICE OFFICER: (In rude tone) Do you know what a green light means?

FRIEND: Yes, you have to go with a green light, but my friend was entering in the car…

(Interruption)

POLICE OFFICER: (Shouting) Green light means you shall go no you must go!!!

FRIEND: Yes, I´m sorry but I didn´t see the lighter turning on and also my friend…

(Again interruption)

POLICE OFFICER: (continuesa talking in bad manners) Did you see that behind you there were three cars waiting to go? You put the other drivers at risk!!!

FRIEND: I´m really so sorry

POLICE OFFICER: Are you drunk? And what about the other passengers?

(In this moment an other police motorbike and two police cars arrived to the place of the “infraction”)

POLICE OFFICER: Do you have any ID or a driver’s licence?

FRIEND: I only have my ID here, because today is Halloween and I don´t have pockets in my costume to carry my driving licence.

POLICE OFFICER: Is this your car?

FRIEND: No, I rent it at Enterprise

POLICE OFFICER: Show me the car insurance.

A few minutes later my friend got a ticket for not going on a green light and another ticket for driving without a licence. No explanation about how much the ticket would and where he can pay it. Only a citation for few weeks later.

So, after this story many questions came to my mind…

Why did the police officer treated my friend like a criminal?

Whydid  he light my friend’s eyes all time with the flashligh?
Two motorbikes and two ´police cars behind my friends car for a green light ticket?

Why did the police officer use bad manners with him?

A citation for a green light?

Stories like that make you understand why (in general) Americans have a fear of the police. It´s paradoxical that people have fear of police when in theory their work is to protect the citizens and make them feel secure.

So the USA is the land of the freedom, isn´t it?

November 12, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

THE ENTERTAINMENT CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

Yes!! We are in Las Vegas, the center of gambling in the United States and the world. As is well known, Las Vegas is located in Nevada, the state that is well known for its easy marriage and divorce proceedings, legalization of gambling and, in some countries, prostitution. It also has some of the country’s strictest drug laws (but the reality it’s so contradictory, because in cities like Las Vegas drugs are so commonplace).

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The city is riddled with casino resorts, various degrees of adult entertainment and also the availability of alcoholic beverages at any time.

Las Vegas is also called Sin City, a nickname wich derives from the fact that the city caters to various vices (legal or illegal) like sex services (prostitution, sex shops, strip clubs, etc), gambling (betting shops, gambling, etc) or drug use (alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, etc).

Other cities that identify as Sin Cities in the USA include New Orleans (wild partying), Indiana (alcohol, gambling), Windsor -Ontario, Canada- (gambling), Lynn -Massachusetts- (“Lynn Lynn the city of sin you never come out the way you went in; wine, whiskey, women, and gin; Lynn Lynn the city of sin”), San Franciso (marijuana consumption), etc.

Gambling addiction

Gambling addiction (also known as the name for compulsive gambling) is one of the most common mental diseases in the USA since gambling was legalized in some states.

This disease has tragic consequences like alcohol or drug abuse, families wrecks, etc. For lot of people, the expansion of legalized gambling destroys individuals, increases crime and, ultimately, costs society far more that the government makes. Under the stress of losing everything, many problem gamblers commit domestic violence.

These are only some of the signs of a gambling addiction: preoccupation (the subject has frequent thoughts about gambling experiences), escape (the subject gambles to improve mood or escape problems), lying (the subject tries to hide the extent of his/her gambling by lying to family, friends or therapists), loss of control (the person has unsuccessfully attempted to reduce gambling), etc.

Pathological gamblers lose all the money they have, then they run up credit card debt. They sell or pawn possessions and plead for loans from family and friends. More than half end up stealing money, often from their employers. The average Gamblers Anonymous member will have lost all his/her money and accumulated debts ranging from $35,000 to $92,000 before seeking treatment. Thousands file for bankruptcy. Many addicts who can´t be helped commit suicide.

Gambling online
An other phenomenon that has increased gambling problems is the Internet, day by day it’s more common see new web sites were people can bet easily. Some of the most well known are bet and win (www.bwin.com), 888 (www.888.com), etc.

With this new way of betting everything is easier for the gamblers, only having an Internet connection the gamblers can lose comfortably sitting in their house all of their money. Gambling is so far than a click.

Film recommended to know more about gambling addiction

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Even Money is the realistic story of a gambling addiction. The movie is divided into two different parts, the first one talks about three main figures and their gambling habits that put them in deep troubles; in the second part the viewer can see the fight to survive when you have gambling addiction.

Visit the official web site of this movie:

http://www.yarifilmgroup.com/films/evenmoney/

 

My personal experience in Vice City

I stayed only for one weekend, but this time was enough to understand how Las Vegas works. People enter the casinos with the mentality of wining lots of money, but the reality is that they lose all of their money in only few hours…

Staying in Las Vegas people lose the sense of the money’s value, after all you are only betting plastic chips, it doesn´t matter, it´s only plastic, no money!! But the good idea of using chips is not the only thing that invites you to bet; Suggestive music, pleasant employees, stimulating lights, alcohol, etc… Indeed, all those things invite you to bet more and more, and when you are conscious about all the money that you have lost is so late…

I have the luck of not liking gambling (for me Las Vegas was only a tourist trip) but during this weekend I saw people losing lot of money very fast. If they knew how hard it’s for them to earn money!!

October 30, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

FAST FOOD IN THE USA

Fast Food History

For people who don´t know where the concept of fast food was born, this happened in CA when in 1948 Richard and Maurice McDonald chalked out a design for a menu type of hamburger restaurant on a tennis court.

Their goal was to make the operation as efficient as possible. Compared with previous fast food chains they planned them to sell hamburgers at a lower price. They hoped that the lower price would increase the number of customers and the greater volume sold leading to higher profits. They also decided to concentrate on selling a few items. To test their ideas, they opened an octagonal-shaped hamburguer stand in San Bernardino, California.

Personal comment

Hamburgers, pizzas, hot dogs… yes! I´m talking about fast food, the kind of food that is really easy to find in USA.

Americans are getting fatter every year. What are the reasons? This a controversial topic, but many people attributes this problem to the abuse of fast food and the absence of exercise in most of the population.

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The fierce competition for customer loyalty between the fast food chains (McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy´s) have promoted their over-sized burguers, extra-large servings for fries and buckets of soda, all at low prices.

The main problem is that as American eat out more and more frequently, they become accustomed to those oversized portion and think that such portions are normal. The high caloric content of these excessive meals leads to weight gain for regular fast food customers. As is well known obesity carries many dangerous health problems (like diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.).

The data is alarming:

– It´s stimated that kids get up to 40 percent of their meals from fast food chains, convenience stores and restaurants.
– There are fast food franchise outlets in 13 percent of the nations schools.
– One American Medical Association study stimates that 300,000 americans die each year from obesity related causes such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

In my opinion American society should make a change in their nutrition habits and become aware of the importance of a well-balanced feeding.

INTERVIEWS

Ellen

1. Why do many people in USA usually go to fast food restaurants?
Because it’s fast and cheap

2. What are your favorites fast food restaurants?
I don’t like fast food

3. What are your favorite foods?
Going to the Natural Café and take a big Cesar Salad with chips. Ice cream for dessert.

Joy

1. Why do many people in USA go to fast food restaurants?
I think that they don’t have time to cook in home or they don’t have enough time for make large meals.

2. What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
I don’t really like fast food, I prefer to cook at home because it’s more healthy.

3. Is fast food the mean reason of obesity?
Probably, and also people should do more exercise.

Becky

1. What are your favorite foods?
Bacon cheese burger with fries.

2. Is fast food the reason of obesity?
I don’t think so, the problem is that people don’t do sports.

3. What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
McDonalds

4. Why do many people in USA usually go to fast food restaurants?
Because people are so busy and don’t have enough time for cook.

Exclusive interview with Arnie!!! (the blogging class teacher)

arnie

1. Do you usually eat in fast food restaurants?
Never since a long time ago. I used to eat this kind of food, but I decided to stop eating fast food since approximately 1984.

2. What are your favorite foods?
Thai food, Italian and Californian cuisine.

3. Is the fast food the reason for obesity?
It’s maybe one reason, but there are other reasons:
– All the food that comes in a box or package is fattening.
– With fast food people don’t feel satisfied and eat more.
– Another problem is the sugar, you can find sugar in every thing.

4. Why do many people in the USA usually go to fast food restaurants?
It’s convenient, it’s easy and of course it’s cheap. I think they like it. Marketing is also very successful. It’s part of the American culture.

5. Is it common in USA eats fish, fruit or vegetables?
Yes, I think that American eat a lot of bad food, but also vegetables are very common.

October 22, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Halloween in USA

Halloween is a party celebrated on the night of October 31st. In this night many kids dressed in costumes will knock on neighborhood doors saying “Trick or Treat”.

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It’s easy to find all kind of costumes, pirates, witches, ghosts, skeletons, werewolf, princess, etc.
On this day it’s so common to find different traditional activities like trick-or-treating, costume parties, Halloween festivals, bonfires, visiting “haunted houses”, viewing horror films and telling scary stories. Both children and adults enjoy the same stuff on this night. There are many symbols connected to this celebration, it’s easy to see the windows in houses and schools decorated with silhouettes of witches and black cats. But the best symbol in Halloween are the pumpkins (orange-colored squash). Because of that orange is one of the traditional Halloween color together with black (due to Halloween festivals and traditions took place at night).

The most common treats are caramel, dried pumpkin seeds, caramel apples and pop corn balls, but there are many more delicious recipes for this day like different kind of Halloween cakes, sweet potatoes, vanilla nut rolls, coconut jelly balls, sugar cookies or candied pecans.

Halloween in Isla Vista

For the people that don’t know where the major Halloween party area is for CA colleges, it’s Isla Vista.
Around 30,000 people arrive every year at this place to enjoy their stay during the five days that the Halloween parties last here. Because of that, the streets have plenty of people and it’s impossible to park in them.

During this week it’s easy to see really creative stuff out here on the street. Indeed, all people wear original customs, but one thing that is consistent over the years are the girl’s costumes. The vast majority of the girls dress up in sexy attire. In this way you can see on the streets nurses, cops, school girls or pixies, but it must always be sexy for some reason. But not all is funny, because of the fact that fights, quarrels and alcohol abuse are also some of the ingredients for this explosive recipe, around 200 cops will watch for the security on this night.

My advice for the reader is enjoy these days of partying but take care.

October 11, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hello world!

The purpose of this blog is to describe the American life style from another point of view. Spanish and American culture are completely different. Why Americans eat a lot of fast food, have other festivities, play other kinds of sports, drive bigger cars or always ask you about your day when you enter a shop? Many questions that I will try to answer during my staying here.

When I arrived in Goleta my first weeks were so strange (don’t say hard), because many things were new for me. Different language, festivities, public transport system, another way of thinking, specially the food was completely different.

Sometimes, in USA, a Spanish guy can feel that is in other planet.

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October 11, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment