Thursday, 31 March 2011

Cute California License Plates

I saw two neat (California) license plates this morning:

On a Mercedes E350: SMBGURU

On a Nissan Pathfinder: OTTSUV

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Buying glasses in the USA...

I think I've found something that the UK does better than the US. I probably haven't, I probably just haven't figure it out yet, but... it's glasses!

My employer here in California provides something called "vision insurance". A free pair of glasses every year or so (up to some low, low limit), with a co-pay, and a free eye exam every year, with a co-pay.

I was, I'm ashamed to say, naive enough to think that this was a good thing when I first moved here. What I *should* have realised when I saw the word "insurance" was 'Oh oh! This is going to be complicated and expensive!".

Here in California, they like to take things that are medical related, and wrap them in layers of insurance. Because, hey, you need *insurance* against having your eyes tested and having to buy new glasses. And there are medical people involved ... they're *bound* to be expensive.

In the UK, when you want to buy glasses, you go to an opticians, you get an eye exam done, it's usually free, it *might* cost UKP10 or even UKP20, and you pick glasses. And they make them up for you, you wander around for an hour, you come back and get them.

They also give you your "prescription" so you can order glasses online.

Here in the USA, there don't seem to be any competent big glasses superstores. The ones that *look* like they might be those sorts of stores don't - in practice - have opticians available to do eye tests.

I went into a few and said I wanted to buy glasses, and they asked me when I'd like to make an appointment... WTF? An appointment? Yeah, they said, when suits you? We might have some slots this week. WTF? Slots? I'm here *now*! This is a *shop*, right? This is *America*, right? What's the problem? Ah, you have to make an appointment. Who's your insurance with by the way? OK, thanks, I get it.

I eventually rang round a few wee small boutique opticians near where I work to see if they could see me "now" ... this was on, like, a Monday afternoon. I had to ring five before one said they could see me now. The glasses were expensive (even after the "insurance"), and I still haven't received them. Hopefully next week! (I mean, the optician is very nice and all, but it's like the UK way, only dearer and more complicated!)

I like the UK way of getting glasses better. It's capitalism done right. The American way is ... I don't know, but it's downright UnAmerican.

(Just in case you thing I'm some sort of whinging foreigner in California, I flippin' *love* it here. Almost everything is better. It's great. But some things could do with some improvement...)

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Corned Beef

In the US, it's kind of a tradition to eat stuff called "corned beef" and cabbage on St Patrick's day.

To me, corned beef is, like, the beef equivalent of spam. It comes in tins. Nobody eats it. [0] Ever. Certainly not on Paddy's day.

I imagine corned beef in the US is much more palatable. Must try it sometime.

(Cabbage, on the other hand, is common in Ireland. My favourite is savoy cabbage chopped up small and sweated in butter with bacon for multiple hours and lots of pepper. Mmmmm.)

A little difference, to be sure.

[0] Obviously *somebody* must, otherwise you wouldn't be able to buy it in e.g. Tescos.