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June 18, 2004 

This blog seems to be mainly about food. I'd apologise, but I'm just so flabbergasted by American food (and life in general) that I'm not going to. Today I had either lasagne or ravioli (I'm not sure which I ended up ordering, and it didn't look or taste like either, so I may have ordered something very different). Anyway, whatever it was, it came in an eight inch diameter, 1 inch deep foil dish full to the brim (with meat balls, sliced, and wrapped in tomato sauce and cheeses). There was also garlic bread, about 6 inches of it. I managed about half of each before conceding defeat. Next time I'm going to get a childs portion - that was the "small" lunch menu I ordered from!

Tonight I downloaded skype, a fantastic bit of software that allows you to make phone calls over the internet. As I'd managed to run up a $100 bill talking to paj for 20 minutes, and I get free internet access, this is pretty important. It turns out it's a pretty nifty bit of software. I'm very impressed. It also allows instant messages, and the only thing it lacks is a webcam facility, which means we have to use Micro$haft Messenger to see each other. Still, it's good to talk, as Bob Hoskins once said.

After we'd finished chatting I gave up and drove out to find something to eat. Suddenly a whole vista of restaurants opened up, from a steak and ale place, to Italian (not after lunchtime!) to a salad bar. Oooh, I thought. Salad. Now I can highly recommend the Red Tomato Salad Bar. For the princely sum of $9.27 (although on the menu it shows $8.69 - they add the tax on afterwards here, making it very difficult to work out what you're spending) you get all you can eat. And it's not just salad (which is good enough - the choice is fantastic, and no mayo in sight). You also get pasta, pizza, soup, chilli, rice, jackets, chowder... and that's just the savouries. Muffins, cakes, brownies, fruit, frozen yoghurt... The only thing you have to pay extra for is drinks other than water. I stuck with the water - they don't sell alcohol, and even if they did I was driving! Actually, I didn't eat half as much as that list implies - I had some salad, some pasta and some chocolate lava cake. But I'll go back and check out the rest of the things, you can rest assured.

I'm guessing the longer I'm out here the less I'll have to say. But the American lifestyle still amazes me, and there are things that I notice and can't believe. It's the small things - in every single public toilet I have been in (including the ones in the office block) the toilet doors are too small. They have about 10 inches under them, which is pretty normal. But then they are too short. Without fail, every time I stand up I can see myself in the mirrors opposite. Not just the top of my head, the whole of my head. That's not normal - particularly if there's a queue. They also don't fit around the edges, with about 3/4 inch gap each side - enough to see through quite comfortably. Or uncomfortably, if you're British like me!

You will note the use of inches there. I'm having to get used to using them as precision measurement. At home I'd use millimetres/centimetres for precision and inches for "about". Here I have to think in eighths and sixteenths of inches, aswell as worrying about gallons (US) rather than litres. Thankfully I'm capable of doing the maths, unlike a supplier today who had miscalculated the difference between miles and kilometres per hour, with potentially disastrous results. It's not brain science you know!

On which note I will leave you, because in every single one of the words ending in res in the previous paragraph, I typed ers. I will not succumb to typing liters. D'oh!