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BNE
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An Australian View Of The USA.

Mon Feb 03, 2003 8:54 pm

Back in October I took a holiday to the USA, and here are some of my observations. Anyone else have any other holiday observations of a different country.

Every great American attraction comes complete with an even larger car park.

You may be able to get over 400 channels of TV, but that doesn't mean there will be anything meaningful to watch.

Why can't NBC,CBS,ABC,Fox, all stay in the same place when I move from city to city. Sure they are usually found in the lower 13, but its time consuming, to keep searching.

Your not from around here are you, You must be from England, NO Australia, we don't sound that alike.

Somehow Americans have acquired a taste for iced tea, Tea is meant to be served HOT, cold tea tastes awful.

I read in university that the state of Delaware has the lowest company incorporation costs and so a high number of companies are incorporated in this state. I now know the reason why, it is because they have erected a toll road which goes between Maryland, Pennsylvania or New Jersey, hitting you with a $2.00 toll, for about a 15 minute journey through the state.

The price in Australia is the price. We have GST but its is included in the advertised price. With our pricing you can at least mentally add up the prices before you go to the cash register.

Around 250,000 cars are said to use the Oakland Bay Bridge, while we waited to catch the 7;55am ferry we were one of 10 passengers waiting for the ferry. The ferry service needs to learn a thing about quick turn arounds like the Brisbanes City cat service, I think Southwest could even help them out.

What ever part of America you are in it can always lay a claim to something famous.

You know McDonalds is taking over the world when it has the highest signs of any of the competing food places. That you can drive 5 miles of one road, and go past 4 McDonalds, the 4th one happens to be in front of the place you are looking for but you drive past it. The McDonalds signs on the freeway lists McDonalds at all of the next 3 freeway exits. Geez I can't make my mind which one to go to, ITS NOT AS IF YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO WALK, or its not likely to run out of your favourite meal.

Meals are twice as big as they have to be, a couple of times I thought of just buying one meal and asking for an extra plate. There was a cartoon about this in USA Today, I would have cut it out but planes and scissors are not a good match.

Like meals everything in America is brought in bulk, I don't want a to buy milk in a one gallon container, how on earth does that fit in the fridge door. How about 600mls, when you do have the 600 ml to choose from which one is normal, Not low fat, extra this or that, or how about water bottles, I only want one or two, not 20 for the price of 12.

I love the US freeway system, there was a 2 lane high way all the way from Kansas to Denver, but there is almost nothing in between, while can't our number 1 highway between Brisbane and Sydney be like this.

When you go to an American store, everything is bigger, and they almost always got what you want. The size the colour. Sometimes you got too many choices.

It was good to read the papers and read all overs airline adverts. Some are quite clever, but at least there was variety. I also flew 4 different airlines on while in the USA. Try getting that variety in Australia.

Why fly non stop when you can connect
 
NJTurnpike
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Mon Feb 03, 2003 10:20 pm

So over here, not only are us English folks are mistaken for Aussies, but the Aussies are mistaken for the English. Glad to see something balances out  Smile

Interesting point about GST. The one place that mirrors that in the US is the ...state of Delaware. 0% sales tax. What you see is what you pay. I'm surprised that stores selling big-ticket items ever do any business in PA counties adjacent to the state line.

Hope you enjoyed it here.

 
pacificjourney
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Mon Feb 03, 2003 10:28 pm

The deal with the taxes always pisses me of as well no matter where it happens. The retailer knows what taxes to apply to the item so why don't they just put it on the price tag ? Frankly it always seems dishonest !
" Help, help ... I'm being oppressed ... "
 
Hepkat
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Mon Feb 03, 2003 10:32 pm

BNE, I think the reason taxes are often not included in prices is because:

1) Unlike in Europe, there is no federal VAT, therefore each state sets their own rate. Not including the taxes with prices makes it easier to compare actual prices accross state borders.
2) Consumers buying items from different states by mail order, internet, etc., do not pay VAT, therefore there's no need for them to see the price quoted with VAT. They're only interested in the actual price of the item.

You're absolutely right about the great variety of goods for sale. That's one thing I find myself missing a lot.

They only have 2 lanes between Kansas and Denver? That's it?!?!?!
 
TWFirst
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Mon Feb 03, 2003 10:37 pm

Very good observations! That's why travelling is so much fun - to observe practices and customs and realities of other countries and cultures - and reflect on the differences with your own. Sometimes they seem to make sense and you wish your own country would adopt such a practice, and sometimes they don't seem to make sense. But the differences are what make our world colorful and interesting - it wouldn't be as much fun travelling if the whole world was exactly the same.

One thing though - I thought the Delaware Bay Bridge toll was $3.00, not 2. Could be wrong, but I drove it for the first time this past October, and I too had the very same observation - that little state ripped me off just to drive through it for 15 minutes!! Big grin

An unexamined life isn't worth living.
 
Alpha 1
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Mon Feb 03, 2003 10:46 pm

You may be able to get over 400 channels of TV, but that doesn't mean there will be anything meaningful to watch.

Amen to that!  Big thumbs up

Why can't NBC,CBS,ABC,Fox, all stay in the same place when I move from city to city. Sure they are usually found in the lower 13, but its time consuming, to keep searching.

Simple-because in some markest, signals would overlap. If you had the same channel for each station in the northeast U.S., or in South Florida, or in Southern California, signals would overlap, and there's be chaos. The FCC allots the different frequencies simply to keep things from overlapping.

Somehow Americans have acquired a taste for iced tea, Tea is meant to be served HOT, cold tea tastes awful.

Your opinion. I love iced tea, especially in the summer. It's a great thirst quencher. My dad makes the best iced tea around. I also like hot tea on occasion. If iced tea is made right, it's wonderful.

Like meals everything in America is brought in bulk, I don't want a to buy milk in a one gallon container, how on earth does that fit in the fridge door.

Duh-try putting it IN the fridge and not the door, maybe? And, with three kids, if I didn't have a gallon container of milk, I'd be in the store EVERY FRIGGIN' DAY buying milk. Sorry, but that's a pretty naive little observation.
 
FDXmech
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Mon Feb 03, 2003 10:50 pm

Like meals everything in America is brought in bulk, I don't want a to buy milk in a one gallon container, how on earth does that fit in the fridge door.

Milk is also sold in 1/2 gallon, quart and pint containers.
You're only as good as your last departure.
 
LHMark
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 1:29 am

One thing that Irks me about the US is our disdain for mass transit. The Oakland ferry story is a good example. Oh, for a better way to get to our strip-malls!
"Sympathy is something that shouldn't be bestowed on the Yankees. Apparently it angers them." - Bob Feller
 
Hepkat
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 1:52 am

Like meals everything in America is brought in bulk, I don't want a to buy milk in a one gallon container, how on earth does that fit in the fridge door.

Duh-try putting it IN the fridge and not the door, maybe? And, with three kids, if I didn't have a gallon container of milk, I'd be in the store EVERY FRIGGIN' DAY buying milk. Sorry, but that's a pretty naive little observation.


Interesting observation. In Europe, refrigerators are a LOT smaller, more like our student refrigerators in college dorms. At least here in this part of Europe, they're usually no taller than your waist. This means you can ONLY buy milk a liter or two at a time, which means the average consumer here goes supermarket shopping 2 or 3 times a week versus once a week for Americans who usually have much larger refrigerators.
 
JetService
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 2:51 am

In Indiana, groceries aren't taxed. The price is the price. Not sure if that's a state thing or Federal.

And I concur with Alpha 1; anything less than a gallon of milk and we'd be going every day. It doesn't help I'm a cold-cereal junkie (Cinnamin Life)  Big thumbs up

"Shaddap you!"
 
TWFirst
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RE: JetService

Tue Feb 04, 2003 2:56 am

It's a state thing. You need to get out of Indiana more  Big grin
An unexamined life isn't worth living.
 
travelin man
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 3:18 am

Honestly, regarding confusing the accents, I still get it wrong sometimes. For some reason to my ear, Australian and English accents seem awfully similar (and I have visited both countries). But when I hear some phrases like "Good on ya", then I know exactly whom I'm dealing with.

And the interstate (I-70) between Kansas and Denver has two lanes in each direction, like most rural interstates. Of course Interstate 5 in Southern California in some places has 7 lanes in each direction.
 
Illini_152
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 3:55 am

Heh, the one I found most amusing was last summer. There is a toll bridge everywhere when you try and get into the state of New Jersey. But it's only a one-way toll.

It's free to get in, but 'ya gotta pay to leave. I always thought there was a little joke in there somewhere, I'll let you know if I find one.

The United States is so large, that you'll find significant cultural differances just travelling in the country, much like one would while traveling from country to country in Europe.

Example- Iced Tea. If you are north of the Mason-Dixon line, iced tea is served, by default, unsweetened. However, the further south you get (except for Florida, that's now considered a Yankee state) the sweeter it gets. When I was in South Carolina, the decanter at the airport actually had it warm, with a bucket of ice next to it. It was so sweet, the only way they could dissolve all the sugar was to heat it. It was like drinkin syrup. Note- NEVER insult sweet tea while in the south. You will get your ass kicked.

Gotta love that accent though, especially on a nice southern belle!

--
Mike O'Malley
Happy contrails - I support B747Skipper and Jetguy
 
JetService
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 4:02 am

TWFirst, I do get out of Indiana; I just don't buy groceries in other states  Laugh out loud
"Shaddap you!"
 
Guest

RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 8:17 am

New Hampshire also has no sales tax. You actually pay "the price".

New York City has no sales tax for clothing bought under $110. Gotta love that too. Everything else is nearly 9%.

Delaware has low incorporation costs and also a very friendly judiciary for corporations. Most companies are "Delaware corporations", but headquartered in other states.

Not sure why you complained about the milk. You can buy milk in just about any size here. Including 16 and 8 ounce containers.

There are never too many choices.

TNNH
 
AC320
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 8:21 am

There are never too many choices.

One time someone said there are never too many Starbucks and look what happened there.........
fuddle duddle
 
Guest

RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 8:42 am

there still aren't. in ithaca if i want a grande mocha coffe chip frappachino, the best i can do is stare at its picture online and romanticize my past summers in manhattan
 
mls515
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 9:01 am


There's no tax on groceries in Iowa either, except on junk food. And we along with several other states have a bottle deposit for beverage containers. That's not included in the price either. Not only do different U.S. states have different sales taxes, in my state at least different counties and municipalities can impose a small sales tax on top of the state tax. I still say prices should be marked with the tax included though. We'd get over it.

About the refrigerators, I noticed that the 2-liter bottles of cola over in the UK were tall and skiny while the American ones are shorter and fatter. Less shelf space?
 
BOEING747-700
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 11:02 am

I think another reason for the tax not in the price is because the native americans do not pay tax at all. Somepeople do not pay tax wile most people do. That would be my guess.
 
PerthGloryFan
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 12:20 pm

Great observations BNE. Very similar to mine from our visits.
Especially "the" tax - got caught many times, got out the amount on the price tag then saw the actual price was more. Interestingly, Lousianna is the only state that will refund state paid taxes on non-consumable items when foreigners leave.

One thing that did strike me was how low tech somethings appeared - especially the use of ice instead of refrigerators to keep drinks cold in many shops.
In San Franciso at the Cuppa Joes (coffee & internet cafe) near our hotel if you asked for a Coke they took a warm can of the shelf and poured it into a glass filled with ice (customers would go beserk if you did that here in Perth). Similarly the small shops along Royal St, New Orleans sold soft drinks and beer from big tubs of ice which they emptied onto the sidewalks every morning, which was one way of cleaning the pavement I guess.

Another interesting thing was all the old (60+) folk working in the hospitality industry, especially places like Ryans, K&W, Crackerbarrel, Western Sizzlin', etc - here in Oz 90% of fastfood employees are no more than 18yo, after that they have to be paid adult wages so they're dumped.

And something else that I noticed - the recycling of place names! Like, just how many Jacksonvilles and Springfields are there? Every city seems to have a suburb called Arlington. When I told a friend that I had been to Oshkosh she wanted to know why I hadn't visited her. So I had to explain I had been to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, not Oshkosh, Nebraska about 80 miles from where she lives in Scotts Bluff!
Also "cities" that aren't! Spent many a laid back summer day checking out the airparks and airfields around Lake City, Columbia County Florida; quaint little town maybe, but shure ain't no city!
That being said there are some great placenames too - how evocative is "Golden Gate Bridge", or "Phoenix Sky Harbor" or "Avenue of the Americas" in Manhattan? All just full of wonderful imagery.

A great thing though about the US is their preservation of history - here in Perth, West Aust if something is more than 25 years old it usually is bulldozed and maybe a small plaque is attached to the new thing put in its place.
My wife spent about 3 weeks during Sept/Oct last year in Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota (Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Badlands, etc) and was blown away by the sense of history that even the smallest roadstop had.

I think this is a reflection of having so many decentralised states that have bred all the variations and unique local cultures across a vast country, whereas here downunder we have the vastness, but only a few isolated parts of Queensland and Tasmania really have their own character. It is this great variation that makes North Carolina my favourite state (well of the few I've visited so far) - the Smokys, the historic Heartland and the Coast; and my favourite place in th USA? Atlanta-Hartsfield of course, that is sure some airport!  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

PGF
(Honorary Tarheel)

 
blink182
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 12:51 pm

Meals are twice as big as they have to be.

I couldn't agree more. This is probably a big reason as to why the US is so obese. We drive everywhere and eat huge meals. I have began to start ordering a small size when possible because a medium size will keep me full for a week.

blink
Give me a break, I created this username when I was a kid...
 
VonRichtofen
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 1:11 pm

The price in Australia is the price. We have GST but its is included in the advertised price. With our pricing you can at least mentally add up the prices before you go to the cash register.

Right, because adding 4% (or whatever the tax rate is) on to the total is such difficult math  Yeah sure

In Canada we have GST too, it's 7%. All provinces except mine also have PST added on top of that. The advertised price does not include the tax. It's easy to mentally figure it out. Here's an example. Say you have a tax of 4%. The advertised price for an item is $1.00 So with tax your total will be $1.04
If it was $10 then your total would be $10.40
If it was $2.50 then your total would be $2.60

This isn't rocket science.

Oh, and about the big portions in resturaunts, I'd like to get a lot of food with my meal especially if I was on vacation!! More bang for your $1.00, or $1.04

Kris
 
Guest

RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 1:34 pm

BNE,

Don't know about what's in Brissy supermarkets these days, but in my local Coles we have the following milk:

300ml carton
600ml carton
1litre carton
1lite plastic bottle
2litre plastic bottle
4litre plastic bottle

Not to mention the different types, full cream, low fat, organic, skim milk, calcium enriched and the different brands / combinations.

But will agree with you food serving portions are huge in the US, it irks me as it's a waste - but worse than that I get bugged by the staff of the relevant restaurant "Is there something wrong with the food, sir?" - and they are persistant too!

Out of a normal sized meal in your standard US restaurant I'd probably eat not more than a third of the meal and that is plenty for me. Oh, and the drama if you order only an appetizer (entre').. LOL

But that is what discovering different culturs is about.

Probably the most horrid thing I have seen in all my travels is the dreadful *western breakfast* in Malaysian hotels - as they don't eat pork - you get some replacement stuff called beef bacon or turkey bacon - or beef ham. It's disgusting.

mb

Teddy doesn't like fake ham. Eeerrr.
 
Guest

RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 2:25 pm

there are no seperate salaries in america for differently aged employees.

there are laws that require employers to pay employees on performance, not on age discrimination. it's a pretty serious set of employment law. you can't pay people less or more because they are too old or too young.

TNNH
 
mls515
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 2:48 pm

PerthGloryFan said it was in Australia where the wages are different.
 
jcs17
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 3:08 pm

Heres an American's view of Europe (Ive been to several countries on several different trips, although England differs a lot from the mainland)...

Plain cold cuts for breakfast is certainly different. Here, cold cuts are usually reserved for lunch, and even then, they are between pieces of bread with condiments on them. I usually skip the cold cuts and go right for the pastries which are always excellent.

In the major cities, every third auto seems to be a tour bus...and those tour buses arent like your average Greyhound bus. They are absolute monsters, I am still in awe of how the busses get down some of those narrow streets!

Nearly ever car has a manual transmission, very cool! Even top of the line cars are equipped as manuals. Even the busses are manuals with about 16 gears.

Its also pretty cool to see different car makers that arent in the US (or at least in any kind of mass quantity). Citroens, Renaults, Vauxhall, Opel, Rover, Fiat, Pueguot.

Kind of expanding on that topic---some taxis are actually Mercedes. In America, if you own a Mercedes, chances are you arent driving it as a taxi.

For some reason, Europeans arent big fans of ice cubes. In America half of your cup of soda is usually filled with ice. In Europe you are lucky if you get three or four ice cubes. I guess the positive is that you get more drink!

People tend not even to raise an eyebrow when your American accent gives it away that you are not a local. In America, we seem to have a facisination with asking questions to people who are here on vacation.

Suburbs in Europe arent like suburbs in America. It seems odd to see a suburb devoid of an ugly strip mall or 48 theater cinema.

Its refreshing not to see 1000ft. high McDonalds signs from the highway, or billboards while driving on the highway in the country. It seems that in the European countryside there is a complete lack of advertising, which is nice.

So much historical architecture. There are so many cities in Europe where it is just amazing to look down the street and just see these gorgeous buildings that were built long ago. Good for you, that you didnt rip down all of your "outdated" buildings in the 50s and 60s....when so many old buildings in American cities were torn down.

It seems like there is no middle ground when it comes to shopping for clothes. It is either the swanky boutique or a "hole-in-the-wall" kind of place. Also, typical European fashion tends to be more modern, while we are still sort of traditional in our dress.
America's chickens are coming home to rooooost!
 
PerthGloryFan
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 5:02 pm

People tend not even to raise an eyebrow when your American accent gives it away that you are not a local. In America, we seem to have a facisination with asking questions to people who are here on vacation.

Hey yeah, now that you mention it that's right.

First response, especially darn sowth, is often a "whhhaaatt?". (Which I did find a bit irritating, a more pleasant "pardon?" or "excuse me?" seems more polite.) Followed by a "Yah folks not from round here are yah?".
Er, no we're not.

The classic was when my wife and her friend, a local, were standing the checkout queue (sorry, "line") at a K-mart in north Florida chatting away, when at the next checkout a little girl started tugging at her mother and saying, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!"
Eventually the mother drawled, "What is it Kirsty?"
"Mommy, that lady talks funny!"
And mommy responds, "She shure does Kirsty, she shure does."
At which both my wife and her friend fell about laughing hysterically much to the wonderment of the staff and other customers.
Poor little Kirsty probably hadn't ever left Columbia County and was probably never likely to either.

On the other hand our friend in Nebraska was forever showing off "her friend from Orstralia" when my wife was travelling around through the midwest last year; and everyone was really laidback about overseas visitors.

Oh, and as for wages based on age, unfortunately governments downunder have always had policies of "youth" and "training" wages for employees under 18, they can't be expected to be as productive as adults apparently. It's probably a reflection of a general anti-youth feelings that many communities seem to have here unfortunately. Just witness the full security alert that erupts when a group of more than 4 teenagers enter a shopping centre or get on a train here. I caused a major stink when I insisted that my backpack be searched when I was leaving a major city department store; well they searched the bags belonging to the 3 kids who left before me, so why not search mine too!

PGF
 
KAUSpilot
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 5:24 pm

The ice differences take some getting used to.

It was strange having to ask for Ice with all my sodas in Europe. After a while you get in the habit of asking for it and they'll just give you an extra cup filled with ice with your drink.

When I visited Europe it was on a pre-packaged tour.....almost everyone we came into contact with spoke english very well. Not to sound arrogant, but it was almost like some kind of huge amusment park, except for that part in Paris where our bus was broken into and our souveniers from germany, italy, austria, and switzerland were stolen.
 
User avatar
BNE
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 7:15 pm

One thing though - I thought the Delaware Bay Bridge toll was $3.00, not 2. Could be wrong, but I drove it for the first time this past October, and I too had the very same observation - that little state ripped me off just to drive through it for 15 minutes

Yep you might be right TWFirst I think it might have been $3.00 but not sure, but the point of having a tollway through such a small state was quite funny.

Duh-try putting it IN the fridge and not the door, maybe? And, with three kids, if I didn't have a gallon container of milk, I'd be in the store EVERY FRIGGIN' DAY buying milk. Sorry, but that's a pretty naive little observation.

Without having to remodel the fridge and have some wasted space most Australian fridges (the old ones anyway) don't have space to fit a 4litre jug of milk. I am surprised that you wouldn't buy more than 1 if you are going to run out.

Another question, Why does milk have extra Vitamin D, what's the deal with this. I think part of my problem with buying the milk every second day in different areas you would stand at the fridge in the supermarket trying to work out which one was normal. There was always heaps of 4 litre milk but not so many 600mls or 592mls available.

With the roads I should have said 2 lanes either way.

JCS17 thank you for your observations, When traveling you see something that makes you that you think, why are you doing it that way, and then other times Why are we do things that way.




Why fly non stop when you can connect
 
LHMark
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Tue Feb 04, 2003 11:36 pm

TWAneedsNOhelp, that may be true about the Ithaca frappuccino, but there's alwas Moosewood, paradise of vegans!
"Sympathy is something that shouldn't be bestowed on the Yankees. Apparently it angers them." - Bob Feller
 
prosa
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RE: An Australian View Of The USA.

Wed Feb 05, 2003 2:49 am

New Hampshire also has no sales tax. You actually pay "the price".

In addition to New Hampshire and Delaware, Montana and Oregon have no sales taxes. Alaska has no statewide sales tax but most municipalities impose their own.

I think another reason for the tax not in the price is because the native americans do not pay tax at all.

Only for certain sales made on the reservations. They pay sales tax like anyone else for sales made elsewhere.

"Let me think about it" = the coward's way of saying "no"

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