Author Topic: 16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America Until They Moved Here  (Read 46116 times)

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Luci

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Midwest US here with knowledge of the southern coast: Every house I know of except one has a wood frame. Some multifamily buildings are concrete block, but even brick is just brick siding on a wooden frame. For a few years there was a trend for steel frame but that was found to be very impractical because beams that small react to temperature changes so drastically even in a temperature controlled building. Wood is much more stable.

I've noticed hotels being built. One or two stories are nearly always wood frame.

Most of my friends and family carry enough cash for small purchases. I for one will not use a credit card for purchases under $20.

The US is so diverse! The only thing I found that is everywhere is that restaurant food portions are huge. It's fine with me. I just carry out the leftovers and have lunch the next day.


Twik

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Pyjamas - (Contoversial here, I know) People on this site insisting that it's OK to walk around in public, attend university lectures etc in pyjamas. I have never in my life seen anyone walking around in public in their pyjamas, and certainly never at something like a university lecture, or on an aeroplane.


Oh dear, no.  Many, or dare I say *most* of us find it appalling that people wear pajamas in public quite often here.

This is one topic I've railed against, yet several of my friends and acquaintances think it's absolutely fine.

Mind boggling!

I've seen it, and it's not pretty.
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RingTailedLemur

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I can't imagine living in a wooden house.  Doesn't it get cold?

sparksals

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I can't imagine living in a wooden house.  Doesn't it get cold?


They are filled with Insulation.  We also have furnaces in winter and some have AC in summer.

Judah

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« Reply #34 on: November 16, 2013, 01:38:16 PM »
I can't imagine living in a wooden house.  Doesn't it get cold?

They aren't just wood. It's usually an outer layer of siding or stucco, followed by a layer of tar paper, followed by the wood frame, then the insulation, followed by a vapor barrier, followed by drywall. My 50-year-old wood frame house is actually pretty warm in the winter. And in the summer, the shade trees keep it nice and cool.  Of course, it helps that we have a furnace and central air too.
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jedikaiti

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I almost never carry cash. Cash is easy to lose, and easy to spend with little to show for it. I rarely go anywhere that I can't use plastic, which can be replaced if lost, spending is easier to track, and offers me rewards points for buying the stuff I was going to buy anyway.
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Wordgeek

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When I was in Queensland, I was amazed by the wood houses.  On *stilts*, no less.  I had never seen a house with legs before.  An American friend told me some places in the southern US also have houses with legs.

Canadian houses mostly come with basements, because of the cold.

Katana_Geldar

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Ah yes, the Queenslander. Basements are rare here, we have an 'under the house' instead.

camlan

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On the subject of house building materials - and again obviously my knowledge comes from news reports on TV - I never understood why houses in tornado areas always seem to be built of wood. Doesn't that make them more likely to blow down? Or is the thought pattern 'it's going to blow down anyway, may as well build it out of something cheaper to rebuild than brick' ?


Well the quick and easy answer is that concrete walls don't do much good when the tornado rips off the roof.

But most people just don't get how destructive 'just wind' can be. An F5 has winds of up to 250 miles per hours. Take a car, throw it at a building at 250 miles per hour, see if the building holds up. Now try and price that at a level suitable for family homes . . .

Even an in home shelter runs $4,000 or more. Doing a whole home that way won't happen any time soon.

We have a lot of wood here, and it is relatively easy and inexpensive to harvest. Bricks are more expensive to make, and stone is more expensive to quarry. Homes made out of stone or brick or even just a brick facade, are just more expensive.

We do have brick and stone houses, and in some areas of the country, they are much more common and popular. But people tend to build with the materials that are to hand, and for much of the US, that has meant wood houses.

Most houses do have a concrete foundation, even if the framework is wood. Older houses will have stone foundations. Even houses with no basement will have a concrete slab for the foundation.
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camlan

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If you think the US is big, check out Canada, which is the 2nd largest country in the world in land mass.  It is very easy to drive across a State or two in the US in one day, but it can take days to drive N/S in a province.   


I was also VERY surprised that the US can be so conservative and have strong religious views.  Coming from Canada, which is very diverse, but still very secular - religion is more private.  I am always surprised by the number of churches here.  We were driving through KY a few years ago and there were churches everywhere, but it was very rural.... I dont' know where the people were coming from for all these churches.


My town in MN has about 10 churches within a few miles.

On the east coast, where the states are much smaller than on the west coast, I can drive from Maine through New Hampshire, then through Massachusetts and Rhode Island and into Connecticut in less than 5 hours.

In Texas, that amount of time might take you to the next city.

As for the churches, don't forget that a good number of the early settlers from Europe came here for religious reasons. The country has a long history of religion affecting the laws, population movement, and popular culture. Stands to reason that religion is very important in many areas of the country.

As for all the churches--many of these small churches have correspondingly small congregations.

One small city I lived in had two Catholic churches, kitty-corner across the street from each other. One was founded by Irish immigrants, the other by Ukrainian immigrants. The small city I live in now once had two Catholic churches, the one founded by Irish immigrants and the one founded by the French Canadian workers who came down to work in the mills. Since at the time all Masses were conducted in Latin, it wasn't just a language barrier that prompted them to form separate churches--I suspect the churches were a stabilizing social force and helped to create community, as well as a place where you could meet people who shared your cultural background.
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nutraxfornerves

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Where I live, it used to flood a lot. So, houses were built with what was called a "flood basement," a first story designed so a flood wouldn't hurt  it. The  part you live in was about 6-10 ft (2-3meters) above the ground. Most flood basements have now been converted to living areas, often an apartment for rent.



The houses were wood because wood was plentiful and the right kind of clay for brickmaking was not. Wood construction also makes it easier to upgrade or remodel a house. Tearing down a concrete wall so you can add on a bathroom is not my idea of fun.

Wood generally is better if you live in earthquake country--although there are lots of conditions & caveats to that. Since wood is flexible, it can withstand some of the force better. If a wood building does collapse, it's ore likely there will be pockets where people can survive. Wood, being lighter, is also not going to fall into a crushing mass of debris.

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Thipu1

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Re: .
« Reply #41 on: November 16, 2013, 03:08:49 PM »
I can't imagine living in a wooden house.  Doesn't it get cold?

They aren't just wood. It's usually an outer layer of siding or stucco, followed by a layer of tar paper, followed by the wood frame, then the insulation, followed by a vapor barrier, followed by drywall. My 50-year-old wood frame house is actually pretty warm in the winter. And in the summer, the shade trees keep it nice and cool.  Of course, it helps that we have a furnace and central air too.

I grew up in a house that was built in the 1840s.  From the outside, it appeared to be a wood house. 

It wasn't. 

In the 19th century, the area in which we lived was a major source of bricks for the buildings in NYC. Since bricks were literally as cheap as dirt, everything in our little town was made of brick.   It wasn't unusual to have the proverbial brick 'you-know-what' in the back yard. 

    Our house was an example.  Both the exterior and all the interior load-bearing walls were brick.  This made changing the arrangement of rooms impossible. The original owners added the clapboard siding to make the place look more genteel. 

It's odd that I'm now living in a brick building that was constructed in the 1860s.  It could be said that I'm living surrounded by my native soil.  Would writers of Vampire fiction find that something interesting to consider in a plot? 
   

VorFemme

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You're not required to eat the whole thing right there in the restaurant.

That's another thing that boggled a brain or two, that you can get part of your meal wrapped to go home with you.  On the other hand, my brain is slightly boggled that other countries don't do that.  Sure, the portions are much smaller, but what if you aren't feeling well or the appetizer was more filling than you expected?

You can here in the UK, depending on what kind of restaurant it is, I think. If I go to my local Indian or Chinese I have no problems asking for leftovers to be boxed up to take home.

Admittedly I've never been to the States so my sole knowledge of eating out comes from TV and I'm sure it's all embellished for the purposes of entertainment, but I watch programmes about US restaurants with a mixture of fascination and horror. The portions are just *so* gluttonously huge, and there never seems to be any fresh veg - all meat and carbs. I remember when Jamie Oliver did his programme over there he said it was cheaper for low income families to eat junk in fast food places 7 nights a week than it is to buy food to cook at home and I found that a bit staggering.

On the subject of house building materials - and again obviously my knowledge comes from news reports on TV - I never understood why houses in tornado areas always seem to be built of wood. Doesn't that make them more likely to blow down? Or is the thought pattern 'it's going to blow down anyway, may as well build it out of something cheaper to rebuild than brick' ?

Part of the high cost of ingredients to make food is that poorer families don't always live within walking distance or even mass transit riding distance of reasonably priced food stores.  The closest places to them for them to buy "stuff" are expensive convenience stores attached to gas stations and priced much higher due to higher costs (downtown property, higher taxes, possibly higher theft risk, shoplifting, and some merchandise having to be tossed because of spoilage).

And mass transit is not an affordable option in many USA locations, either.  You almost have to have at least a bicycle of your own if you want to get further than you can walk - and bicycles aren't cheap & they can be a target for theft - whether as a bicycle or as "scrap metal".
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VorFemme

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I can't imagine living in a wooden house.  Doesn't it get cold?

They aren't just wood. It's usually an outer layer of siding or stucco, followed by a layer of tar paper, followed by the wood frame, then the insulation, followed by a vapor barrier, followed by drywall. My 50-year-old wood frame house is actually pretty warm in the winter. And in the summer, the shade trees keep it nice and cool.  Of course, it helps that we have a furnace and central air too.

I grew up in a house that was built in the 1840s.  From the outside, it appeared to be a wood house. 

It wasn't. 

In the 19th century, the area in which we lived was a major source of bricks for the buildings in NYC. Since bricks were literally as cheap as dirt, everything in our little town was made of brick.   It wasn't unusual to have the proverbial brick 'you-know-what' in the back yard. 

    Our house was an example.  Both the exterior and all the interior load-bearing walls were brick.  This made changing the arrangement of rooms impossible. The original owners added the clapboard siding to make the place look more genteel. 

It's odd that I'm now living in a brick building that was constructed in the 1860s.  It could be said that I'm living surrounded by my native soil.  Would writers of Vampire fiction find that something interesting to consider in a plot? 
   

But would baking the soil into brick remove whatever essence it was that made it "native soil" - I seem to remember the Saint-Germaine Chronicles by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro had the vampires have to replace the native soil in their resting places (or the soles of their shoes - wherever they had it stashed) once it had been "used" for a while.  I just haven't read it recently enough to remember how often...

I do remember a vampire that had lost her supply of native earth resorted to looking through the hulls of ships, looking for ballast from her native country...there was none to be found in port at that time and she did not survive until the next night.
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