Everything is HUGE in the USA. Walk into a store, of just about any kind, and it will be seven times the size of any Australian equivalent.
This does mean more of everything. It's a guzzling culture of unbelievable magnitude. And I can see how it seems hard to resist it sometimes. Freeways are everywhere. Malls are huge, stores are packed to the rafters with so many choices it seems the only choice is between options rather than refusal. I got sucked into the BevMo "five cents for the second bottle" sale and forgot to look for organic wine. I now have two T-shirts from HotTopic (with cute fairies on them) because I was out shopping for a prom dress with a 16 year old. They're still 100% cotton, but chances are they're sweatshop central. Doug tells me that even when it says "Made in the USA," that can mean Guam, where the US labor laws don't apply.
I did find an audio bookshop for rickybuchanan
which has 5000 books for sale and rental. Check it out
and tell us if you need anything, okay? It doesn't look like they ship to Oz but they do have the whole catalog on the site.
As for the power part of this post, that relates to puzzlement over the whole "polarized plugs" thing, which, it turned out, has nothing to do with polarization of electricity in the positive/negative sense (thanks for the confusion, grmph). I spent some of this morning poring over Wikipedia and other online references trying to understand why some US plugs are polarized (have a larger pin  on one side than the other) and some don't. I already knew that some plugs here have no 'earth' (what they call the ground here). It turns out that one pin is 'live' (the Americans call it 'hot' while the Aussies call it 'active' apparently) and the other pin is actually neutral in most places, and the neutral pin is connected to the ground, apparently. So, the polarized plug grounds the power. Why you wouldn't do this at all times, I have no idea, but then I come from the land of 240 volt power and plugs you can only put in at a particular angle with permanent ground pins on most plugs and added switches at the wall for extra safety. My understanding today is that Australian and UK sockets won't even send live current unless the ground pin opens the socket up ready for it. Nice work. Yes, I am a geek. What can I say? I like learning new things.
Annoyances include the Vodafone mobile (cell phone) that was supposed to be unlocked and isn't, so I won't have a mobile for a few more weeks, the news that I can't use my Australian prescription for contact lenses here and that a US prescription would cost me a fortune(but OPSM delivers internationally, so that's an option), and feeling very left out of the last minute organization of the Melbourne Social Forum
. You should all go! And also that I still haven't posted about Cirque du Soleil's Varekai (definitely go if you haven't already) and the last few days in Melbourne town which will now be posted and back-dated, it seems. Sigh.
Oh, and people kill each other here with alarming regularity. And the war. It scared me from afar, the way this president talked. It scares me more from close up. This is Unsurprising. On the other hand, we have decided to name our dishwasher Dubya as it also makes a lot of noise without actually achieving much and no matter how much it pretends, nothing associated with it ever truly seems *clean*.
Good things include spotting a guy at the local den of caffeine with a red triangle across the back of his black MacBook and making his day when I became the first person to recognize it as the anarcho-syndicalist flag. Chatted with him and he seems like a good political contact to have. Tech geek, activist, the usual.
 They call it a blade here.