Monthly Archives: September 2018

Americaneeze

Americaneeze

I think we often forget that we have a “borrowed” language. Over time our use of English has evolved and probably not for the better. I am the first to admit that my language skills are lacking. Anyone reading this and other postings can testify to that fact. I’ve always been a bit better with numbers.

I am a reader and always have at least one book in process. Despite my exposure to great word smiths my writing talent is stagnant. I am in awe of published authors.

However, there are a couple of commonly used phrases that make my skin crawl and both involve “dangling” participles:

“Where are you from?” Not only the participle “dangle” but what does this really mean? Where do you live or where were you born or where were you just before where you are now or…….. How about “Where are you living?” of “Where is your home?”

“Where are you at?” What is it with the use of “at”. Why is it needed? Wouldn’t “Where are you” suffice?

As time passes Americaneeze evolves. I have tremendous admiration for the language employed by our founding fathers. They had the ability to effectively and concisely convey thoughts and actions. The following is an excerpt from President Washington’s farewell address and concerned the dangers of the two-party system. (I sited this in an earlier post and it is well worth repeating)

“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus, the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.”

Observations while traveling in Europe

Observations while traveling in Europe

Traveling can be a beneficial learning experience. Not all countries provide services or solve problems using the same methods. Following are some observations:

In all of the cities and towns that we visited there was a substantial use of bicycles for common transportation. Also, the prevalence of electric power assisted bikes is increasing.

In the downtown sector of one town the public transport was with Electric buses.

Historic downtowns remain busy & vital with retail businesses on the ground floor and accommodation on the levels above. In some cases, restaurants are located in what used to the back yards between buildings with access via alley ways.

There is extensive use of round-abouts and traffic circles rather than stop signs and traffic signals.

Petrol & Propane gas hybrid cars and trucks are a popular cost containment option. Gas is very expensive usually costing double the cost in the US.

In one hotel’s bathroom the bathroom door served double duty. It could be used for bathroom access as well as to close off the area occupied by the commode!

One hotel had a self-service kiosk for guest check in & key room key issuing.

Trains coverage is extensive. They are reliable, fast, inexpensive and comfortable. The one we rode on was electric powered.

Rest areas were no more than 10 miles apart on the motorways.

When there was a traffic slow down or backup on the motorway the cars in the right-hand lane would move onto the shoulder, but keep moving slowly. The cars in the left-hand lane would all move to the extreme left side of that lane. This a allowed a center access lane for police & emergency vehicles if needed.

Not all of the EU countries have been granted the right to adopt the EU currency. There are economic conditions that must be met. In these countries the EU is still accepted by most shops but the US$ is not.

Taxes are always including in the selling price (not added on) and tipping is either included in the price or optional.

Two Americans in Europe

Two Americans in Europe

At the time of composing this Jeanette & I are on a river cruise on the Danube. So far, we have visited Budapest, Bratislava & Vienna (Wien), all capitals of their respective countries. Broadening education is always a bi-product of travel. All of the countries we have visited are members of the EU. All three are quite small, both in area and population.

Hungary has about 8 million folks with just under 2 million residing in Budapest. Slovakia has about 5.5 million with about ½ million in Bratislava & Austria has about 8 ½ million with just under 2 million in Wein.

Hungary is about the size of Indiana, Slovakia is about the size of Mississippi & Austria is about the size of Maine.

Not all members of the EU are using the Euro. One prior member (the UK) chose to retain their currency, while others were not authorized to use the Euro because their economies were considered too weak.  Hungary still uses the Florent, but almost all retailers accept the Euro. The official currency of both Slovakia & Austria is the Euro.

On a recent trip to Iceland our auto rental agent shared her view of US citizens. It was not that of the “ugly, loud American”, but that of naiveite. The more I travel the more that comment rings true.

America emerged from WW II as a superpower primarily because of a vibrant and growing economy. We were envied and admired by the rest of the world. We were considered to be number one in production (& productivity), technology, individual freedoms & standard of living. Many of us still believe that is true, but that is only a “belief” and not in touch with the facts. Unfortunately, we have been in a status decline for the past several decades. Our slide resembles the slide experienced by the UK that started over a 100 years ago. The UK was “the” superpower for several hundred years expanding their influence into America, Africa, India & Australasia (among others). Like many dominant countries & city states before them they eventually maxed out their influence and the decline commenced.

The US is still in the early stages of declining influence. The dollar, once the fall back currency for the entire world, is no longer accepted in most of Europe. If a country does not officially use the Euro, they always accept it as medium of exchange. While English is still the official 2nd language in most of Europe it is sobering to remember that is not ours and has its roots in the Germanic languages.

We have found most people here to be friendly and respectful, but not that interested in or concerned about goings on in the US. We do not seem to be the focus of their attention. The histories of these countries go back thousands of years. Borders have changed numerous times and all of have experienced numerous political systems.

stay tuned for more on this