I’m not much of a photographer, y’know?
I like taking pictures, but I’ve never been consistently good at it. I’m drawn to take pictures of things that I find interesting, amusing and attractive, but they’re rarely techically good photos. I only know the basics, rule of thirds, the basics behind depth of field, the importance of focussing on the subject and whatnot.
Regardless, I keep a flickr to put my pictures up for my friends to see them. This will make for a valuable collection to be able to share when I get back home and want to remember or show off what I’ve done.
America is a pretty fascinating place, with this in mind. Where I am has umpteen opportunities for me to take pictures, because everything is so very different, interesting and amusing. Sharonville, Ohio, shows all the hallmarks of rapid urban development and town planning done better than it is in the UK.
All the infrastructure is overground. I find it vulgar, but interesting to look at. Nearly everything in Scotland is buried, even out in the sticks where I come from. Phone, electricity, traffic lights and signage all hang from pylons here. It must be a nightmare when there’s a serious wind storm.
For those of you that don’t know me, I’m fascinated by radios. If you take a look through my photo collection, you’ll see some of these things.
Radio Antennas. They’re everywhere. It’s paradise! Here’s a bit of a dirty secret of mine… I spot them, jump on to Wikipedia and read about them. Don’t tell anyone, they might think I’m a nerd or an engineer or something.
Trust me, the pale nerdy guy from Scotland to land in America during one of the ‘worst’ heatwaves the country’s had in years. Charities are giving away air conditioning. It’s a completely alien concept to me. I like curling and wear shorts when it’s 12C. Here, I’m exposed to 100F (39C) on a daily basis, and as you can see, it’s not really colder in the evening or at night… I’m adjusting, but it’s a slow process, and I’m unlikely to be fully acclimatised by the time I have to leave. Needless to say, I’m limiting my exposure to the sun, but I’ve still experienced a change in skin colour, however it’s not red, which is a welcome change. Factor 30 does help.
One particularly fascinating day was when Maria, my partner in crime, and I went to see some baseball. Once we had a rudimentary understanding of the rules, it became quite good fun. However, it does lead me nicely into some of my more personal observations about the US.
Life over here seems to be defined by consumption. That’s not necessarily as bad as I make it sound. You see, everything is constantly available in such abundant quantities, and easily available at that. It doesn’t matter whether it’s gas, food, space, entertainment or whatever you’re looking for, there’s a competitive market for it, and someone has made it easier and cheaper for you to get their product or service than everyone else.
Look at the baseball, for instance. There were more food shops and stalls in the ball park than the local mall. Then there was the merchandise stores, the beer vendors and the people offering you pictures or tickets for the next game. Don’t forget the vendors that come to your seat - beer, water, ice cream, snow cones, candy floss and more came to you. Then there’s the advertising ~ The official beer of the first innings, the official beer of the team, the official vehicular sponsor of the event, the company that presents the maintenance of the grass… If it’s a part of the event, it’s been paid for by someone offering something to everyone in the stadium. People go to the ball game, not just for the game itself, but for the entire event - the minigames in the middle, the trivia, the food, the beer and the atmosphere. The baseball itself is just one element of the entertainment… Just one more thing to be consumed. I felt it got a little bit lost in everything else, but it was still great watching, and I’m slowly becoming more obsessive about it. Que “Go Reds!” and other such appropriate phrases.
The game also highlighted another huge cultural difference between “us” and “them”. At the beginning, the national anthem was sung, and everyone faced the Stars and Stripes. At the 7th Inning Stretch (wikipedia it), God Bless America was sung by the crowd and accompanied by a saxophonist, and once again the flag was faced and hats removed. People have an intense national pride - they love their country and what they believe it stands for. A returned soldier from Afghanistan got the biggest applause of the afternoon. There were chants of “USA! USA!” as fans left the stadium. It seemed much bigger than Reds vs Cardinals or, dare I say, Rangers vs Celtic, our equivalent. This was a celebration of being American, and small differences such as what your team or your state were, in the long run, unimportant. In the end, somebody always wins, and that person is an American.
That got quite heavy. Here, have a picture of a Red Bird to lighten the mood. I like to think is the inspiration for the bird of the same colour in Angry Birds.
We saw it when we went for a walk, I thought it was interesting, amusing and attractive, so I took a few pictures of it. (I’ve been advised it’s a Cardinal. I don’t know how it got so involved with the Catholic church, but there you go!)
That’s all from the land of plenty for the moment - a thousand words is enough for y’all to digest for one evening!