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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

USP-Stanford Multiculturalism Forum
Day 15 (20/5) - Los Angeles


Another interesting sales tax puzzle: At the "build your own sandwich" place in Berkeley, my expensive sandwich got taxed but others' cheaper sandwiches didn't. Wth.

The San Francisco Palace of Fine Art was very very very pretentious.



Hollywood Boulevard

After walking down Hollywood Boulevard for 20 minutes looking for breakfast possibilities, we'd only found a Starbucks, a McDonalds and a Mexican place. This was because it was Sunday morning.

Seen on a Cosmo cover: "Sex 'facts' you shouldn't believe". What, everything in Cosmo?

McDonalds had a 'Swamp Sludge' McFlurry flavour (Shrek promotion) - brownies and green M&Ms. On a previous occasion I'd been told the latter was mint. Bah.

The others wanted to go to Santa Monica but I wasn't interested, so I considered the places I could go by myself. The Getty Villa Malibu needed advance tickets, which were sold out. I considered the Gerry Museum, but I'd seen better. So I decided to try the Tar Pits, but their stupid website didn't have any information on public transport, and the guidebook recommended driving a car since the public transit system sucked (thus also saving them the bother of printing public transport information). The hostel people knew though, so I left just before noon (I probably could've done one more thing if I'd left on my own after arriving at the hostel, oh well).

Working without a map sucks. The hostel said the tourist information (or whoever) used to give out maps, but not anymore. At first I believed them but later I saw people walking around with maps, and saw maps at the tourist information at the Chinese Theatre. !@#$

There were lots of people dressed up outside the Chinese Theatre - Spiderman, Jack Sparrow (whom we'd seem outside Starbucks in the morning), Darth Vader, Gandalf, a Stormtrooper, Superman, Supergirl and Homer Simpson. I saw fewer on Monday, so probably many of them were part-timers with day jobs.

In LA buses you can get a $250 fine and a citation if you 'act loud or unruly' or 'play a radio' Gah.

Beside the Tar Pits, there was also the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I figured I'd miss it since it wouldn't be very impressive (size notwithstanding) but I've since discovered it is "the largest encyclopedic museum west of Chicago" and has, among other things, René Magritte's La trahison des images (The Treachery Of Images; probably the only thing in the Modern Art collection I could've withstood),
Katsushika Hokusai's Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji, an Iranian depiction of the Prophet Muhammad which I would've been compelled to smash and some South and Southeast Asian Art that's probably better than what you can find there, at least in Southeast Asia. Hah. In any case I doubt I'd have had time to do more than see highlights, so.


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Ceci n'est pas une pipe
(Adapted from Facebook; Facebook walls don't like normal ASCII art)


Fiberglass Columbian Mammoths


Harlan's Ground Sloth


Sabertoothed Cat tooth development
Apparently you can't call them Sabertoothed Tigers, and they're in a different group from true cats. There was one part where they imposed a hologram of a sabertoothed cat on a fossil. Cool.

Modern cats attack the neck or throat of prey, but mammoths and mastodons had thick neck muscles protecting the throat. The sabers would've broken if the cats had struck there, and it is rare to find damaged sabers in the tar pits, so they probably attacked the animals' undersides.


Extinct Camel, with American Mastodon behind.

One of the advantages of coming so late in the day was that I got to go on the day's only guided tour of the tar pits outside.

The place is called the Tar Pits ("La Brea" in Spanish), but there's no tar there, since tar is manmade; asphalt is what seeps out of the ground. The reason it's called the Tar Pits is there's no Spanish word for asphalt. Hah.

Hancock Park (outside the museum) was built over oil deposits several miles wide, but the owner wanted to build a park for families to enjoy. No wonder America's not the world's most competitve economy, hurr hurr. The park being above asphalt, the plants die when it reaches their roots. Maintenance must be a bitch.

Bird fossils are very rare normally because they are hollow and light, but the asphalt preserved a lot of them.

They found a 9000 year old woman who was probably murdered (her skull was impacted by a blunt object), and was buried in a ceremonial burial (ie with items), but her actual bones are no longer on display (a cast of her head can be found at the Natural History museum next door). This is because of laws against the display of Native American remains. Bah.


Whiteboard hung above Pit 91. I love the FAQ about no dinosaurs.
They excavate in June to early September. I bet it's because they get cheap student labour then.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of Pit 91 while inside, thinking it'd be open after the tour. Ah well. It looked like lots of black goo with coloured flags marking bones which were sticking out of the goo, and there were many planks laid out above the asphalt to walk/work on.

The bones don't all sink to the bottom because an animal may get trapped, and then the ground level will rise around it (asphalt solidifes when mixed with dirt etc), forming another layer of asphalt mix.


Lump of asphalt with bones in observation pit.

They had mass entrapment events. A bison, say, would walk onto the asphalt, thinking it was solid land (if dirt had formed a layer on top) or water and get stuck. Carnivores would come, and get stuck too. Then scavengers would come and get stuck. And then insects would come, and also get stuck. So they have 3.5 million fossils so far (the most Ice Age fossils of anywhere in the world), even though a major entrapment like this would happen just once in 10 years.


Pit 9 - Elephant Pit, since they found many mammoth and mastodon bones inside.


Man with dogs


Pleistocene garden - so called because the plants you see were those that flourished in the area during the last Ice Age.
If you see black marks on the tree, this is because people use asphalt to write on it


Mural of animals


American Mastodon + 6 year old child


Columbian Mammoth

There were fossils of a 'Fragile Eagle' and an 'Errant Eagle'. Wth. Where do they get these names from.


California Turkey, Ancestral Californian Condor, American Neophron


Dire Wolves


Californian Sabertooth, with American lion behind.


Paleontologists at work in the fishbowl laboratory


Picture of Pit 91 excavations

There used to be horses in the New World, but they went extinct 8000 years before the Europeans came.

The asphalt is not always in the same place - hot/cold variations will cause it to liquefy and solidify, and new deathtraps will be created.


Turtles chilling

The shop had 'soap rocks' (self-explanatory), which were 'tested on human beings'. Gah.


Venus fly traps - $9.99 each!


Pit 91 from outside the fence

On the way out I took the 212 in the wrong direction - I thought I was taking it back to Hollywood, and kept hearing the PA system announce "La Brea and XXX road", but when I opened my eyes (Greyhound overnight isn't the best form of accommodation) I was in the hills above LA. Gah.

People in LA are larger than in the Bay Area.

Only 2 people wanted to go to Universal Studios the next day, so we decided not to. Instead, we planned to watch the taping of the Late Late Show, featuring Frigid Girl and Liquid Nitrogen's hero - Craig Ferguson.

Sign: "Feng Shui. Love Spells." Wth.


Santa Monica Beach. Gloriously full on a beautiful Sunday. The rest of the beach was similarly packed.


Continuing the tradition of 'Muscle Beach'


Santa Monica Beach


Weird bicycle


Venice Beach at 6:30


POW Memorial


Filming near Venice Beach (taken from the bus)

I've never been so pissed off with public transport in a city before. The buses in LA are infrequent, routes and connections are weird (usually I can grok them quite easily), there aren't maps at the bus stops (San Francisco helpfully had maps at most) and the Metro doesn't go to many places. No wonder the daypass is so cheap ($3, and one way is $1.25) - you get what you pay for.


"America's best"
Yet, they claim to be America's best. My theory is that those who proclaim that they are the best are bad, like this random fried chicken place I saw in Malaysia in the middle of nowhere which claimed to be 'America's Favourite Chicken'.


Minute Maid is very proud of their lemonade with no lemons (seen at a Mexican place we had dinner at).

Mexican food is all variations on the same thing - a flour covering with rice, beans, salsa and meat inside. At first I considered the possibility of inauthenticity (my J2 Chinese teacher claimed Western food was either fried or grilled, and one visiting Professor used to think Chinese food in the US was authentic and all greasy) but then there are so many Mexicans in California, so this is a powerful countervailing force.

There were 4 very noisy girls on the Metro ignoring the threat of a $250 fine (3 Blacks and 1 Asian). 2 were dressed very skankily, like hos (they weren't even nice hos - they were in shorts but had fat legs; their ample cleavage far dwarfed mine, but their tummies also bulged. Ironically the other 2 loud girls who were less aesthetically unappealing weren't dressed so skankily). All the while, they were shouting and shrieking at each other at the top of their voices, calling each other bitches and engaging in general nigger talk, as well as clapping constantly. They also did things like sitting on each other's laps (after which one shouted "we get $5000 per hour") and unzipping another's shorts. Naturally, other people were looking at them.

Meanwhile 1 quiet guy with a bicycle was with them. I commented on the hos bit to Huishan and she said the pimp was following them, a comment which made me hoot loudly.

I saw 6 Korean churches in LA this day. Wth.

I'd forgotten to bring a towel and by the time I returned to the hostel the drug store the receptionist had directed me to in the morning had closed. I looked at some souvenir shops, but the cheapest towel I could find was $10 (the most expensive was $24.99 though the guy immediately cut his price to $19.99 when he saw my reaction), and had 3 girls in thongs showing their butts off, so I bathed without a towel (I tried using tissue paper to dry off but it disintegrated). Surprisingly, it was an acceptable experience - it must've been the dry weather.


Quotes:

I hate Mexican food.
Originally I was going to make some Bourbon Chicken to eat at work since my brother in law gave me some whisky, but I saw miso paste in the fridge and so decided to make Miso Braised Pork. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out very well - it's definitely worse than my cream overload Carbonara and my first anaemic curry.

It didn't start off very well - I didn't tell my mother what cut of pork I was going to use, and then bought it at 1.5x the price she'd bought it for at Shop and Save. Later, I was supposed to cover the pot and simmer for 3 hours. Maybe it was using a pot instead of a Dutch Oven, or maybe the recipe doesn't scale down well (I divided by 6) but after 45 minutes everything was a burnt mess.

After cutting away the burnt bits I found the one serving left to be edible, if a bit flavourless. I tried to salvage it by dissolving miso paste in chicken stock (I'd also used stock initially instead of water) and throwing in the pork, skipping the soy sauce (who cares if the sauce is yellow instead of black?) so hopefully it's alright now.

I'm going to grill some peppers to go with the meat later. Hopefully they'll turn out alright. Cheese (proper cheese, not Kraft Singles) is horrendously expensive.

[Addendum: I should've gone all the way for the sauce: soy sauce, ginger, garlic, which would make it like the original stock. Oh well, the miso's the most important bit.

The peppers looked alright - I'm only going to eat them on Monday. No jalapenos of course, and I didn't have Oregano so I used thyme, since the bottle said it was good for cheese.]

Friday, June 08, 2007

"What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet, isn't much better than tedious disease." - George Dennison Prentice

***

It keeps getting better...


Shrek 3 not suitable for children

"I TOOK my six-year-old daughter to watch Shrek 3, thinking it was another wholesome animation for children.

But both I and my wife (who has a master's in Early Childhood Studies) feel that it is not suitable for children.

There are some good values to be learnt from the movie. However, I find several aspects of the movie make it not suitable for children.

One of the scenes portray one of the main characters 'Arthur' feigning extreme sadness to fool an old and pitiful magician.

He succeeded in getting his way, and was not at all apologetic that he had used emotional manipulation to do so. Children watching this would obviously pick up the message that it is all right to manipulate others to benefit oneself.

The other objectionable scene was towards the end where an angry 'Prince Charming' starts cutting off the heads of animals/mannequins on stage.

No doubt, he was 'acting' in a drama production, but his characterisation makes it totally believable that he would do the same to actual people or animals.

If the visual images of the beheadings and its irreverent portrayal could leave an impression on an adult like me, what impact can it have on young children?

Another objectionable portion is the negative portrayal of traditional fairy tale heroines.

Characters like Snow White and Rapunzel were portrayed in a negative light - as demanding, unreasonable, impatient and manipulative characters, totally different from the virtuous, pure, sacrificial and long-suffering characters that we know them to be in the original fairy tales.

To innocent young children, this may put confusion in their minds as to what their fairy tale heroines are truly like. Should they continue to admire them and embrace the virtues they portray?

My last point has to do with mismatch of the modern American English spoken with the traditional costumes and setting of the movie. The gentlemen and ladies of that era gone by certainly do not speak in such rude and over-the-top manner. So this represents another historical misrepresentation.

The movie has a good ending and some good lessons but overall its irreverent tone, historical misrepresentations and violent images will not leave many positive nor wholesome impressions on our children and young people.

Brian Tan Cheow Eng"


Obviously he's never deconstructed fairy tales.
Democracy and the internet in Singapore: The supply of alternative political content during general elections

"When elections were called for in November 2001, the new legislations were put into use and were directed at the Think Centre. In the first instance, the Centre received a fax from the Elections Department at 5 pm on Friday the 19th of October. The fax was an order to remove all materials from their website that could be construed as elections advertising. The fax was received at 5.11pm and the order was to be executed by 11pm the same day, giving the Centre less than six hours to act (Gomez 2002, p. 89). The Centre received a second notice from the Elections Department on the 23rd of October 2001. This time, they wanted the removal of an article entitled “Young Singaporeans, can the PAP safeguard your future” which was written by a youth member of the Singapore Democratic Party. This time the Centre was asked to notify the Elections Department in writing the exact time and date of the article’s removal, failing which the Centre would be prosecuted under the Parliamentary Elections Act (Gomez 2002, p. 92). What is ironic is that these threats were directed at the Centre even though the Centre had written to the Elections Department on 10th of October 2001, asking what contents from the Centre’s website should be removed in order not to infringe the Parliamentary Elections Act. However the Centre obtained no response, but received these two threats of prosecution instead (Gomez 2002, p. 91).

In another online and election-related incident, the police chose to apply the Penal Code against Robert Ho, a retired ex-journalist who posted an allegedly “inflammatory” article on the Singaporeans For Democracy (SFD) website and soc.culture.singapore newsgroup on 19 October 2001. The article posted on both sites was the same but with slightly different headlines: “Break the Law - Like Your PAP leaders” and “Break the Law and get away with it, Like PAP”, respectively. The Straits Times reported that “The document allegedly encouraged electors to enter polling stations without authority on Polling Day”, after the Attorney-General declared that four senior PAP ministers were innocent of breaking any laws that disallowed unauthorised persons waiting and loitering outside polling stations on Polling Day in the previous elections in 1997. Instead, Mr. Ho was arrested for attempting to “incite violence and disobedience to the law which is likely to lead to a breach of the peace” (Gomez 2002, p. 99). He was then forced to undergo psychiatric tests. He was acquitted by the courts on 14 December that viiyear after a courtordered psychiatric evaluation found that he had a “long history of psychiatric illness” (Gomez 2002, pp. 99-104)."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

"Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering - and it's all over much too soon." - Woody Allen

***


I ate at an atrocious Zi Cha place ("Sew An Seafood Cze Cha") recently. Shockingly, it was at Glutton's Bay beside the Esplanade, where all the food is *supposed* to be good. There were no ingredients in the rice and they threw in frozen mixed vegetables, resulting in it having hardly any taste (it didn't help that it wasn't salty enough either); it was the worst fried rice I'd ever had. This 'crab meat fried rice' didn't have crab, but flavoured flour packed around crab claws. Wth.

There is a 'Delilah Pub'. Gah.

A Malaysian businessman had a project in Istanbul and wanted to send an underling there to set up an office. The next day his mother called and asked: "Why are you sending my son there? Is there Halal food in Istanbul?"

I was commenting that black jokes were the funniest racial jokes, and my brother in law commented that most black jokes were written by black people.

My brother in law says the "speak bad French to get the French to speak English" trick works with everyone, even old aunties.

I now have all 6 Fabled Lands books. Yay.
USP-Stanford Multiculturalism Forum
Day 14 (19/5) - Adieu


This was the final day of the program, and we had a Forum with the Stanford students.


Walking in for the final time

On the way in, I plunged my face into a fountain (not only was the fountain water colder in the morning, I figured no dogs would've bathed inside yet). The chill was invigorating.

We didn't know they were providing us breakfast, which was nice (Strawberry Cream Cheese is weird). Unfortunately it wasn't nice enough to tempt more than 6 (?) of the Stanford students to come; various parties the night before (one had fireworks) might have had something to do with that.

During the forum we were supposed to talk about puzzles we found in America and our paper topics. I realised I could've done the thing about Asian men and non-Asian women, but in the process of doing research for it I would've been beaten up (since I'm not an Asian girl).

Someone commented on faux diversity in Stanford - in a picture they had promoting the school there was a picture of one White, one Black, one Asian. OTOH, NUS is even worse - on a similar picture we had promoting our centennial, almost all of the students were foreign exchange students.

Ady observed that the Chinese and Indians in the US want to get a Green Card and stay there. Meanwhile, those in Singapore still identify with their home countries, have a mercenary attitude and want to get out as soon as possible. I interjected that this was because those in the US are there because they want to be there, while those in Singapore had to be bribed and imported.

Despite Jag's perception that hiphop treats women as sex objects and are the lesser gender, he found that most organisers of hiphop events there were white women.

Someone overhead a black woman talking to another black woman on the train that she'd moved to a new neighborhood and it was nice, but that the best thing about it was that it was an all white neighborhood. But then as a Chris Rock routine went, "I love black people, but I hate Niggers".

When they came to Singapore, the Stanford students went to Malacca. On returning, a couple were glad to return to Singapore because affirmative action is in the Malaysian Constitution and Singapore is meritocratic. Wth. As someone pointed out: it's more likely because Singapore represents civilization, with aircon and safe drinking water.

After the forum was only the second time I saw a girl in a bikini on campus, and the second time I saw someone in a fountain.

The girls said I looked like a minah. Uhh.

For lunch we went to an Italian place where the names of the foods were in Italian and there was no English translation. My theory was that the waiter could laugh at how we mangled the Italian names. I had Spaghetti alla Vodka. It had bacon too. Mmm.

I found that 2 more batteries dropped out, including 1 rechargeable (but it was 4 years old). Gah. I then wrapped the rest in a ziploc bag to wedge them into the case.


Little Red Riding Hood (she says she looks like an Indonesian Maid, because only they take pictures alone)


Roomies

After some farewells, the 7 of us set out for San Francisco to catch our bus for LA. While waiting almost an hour for the Caltrain I got a cheap thrill out of standing on train tracks for the first time (Vinod and the other Indian guys had gotten their fill of it on earlier days).

Backpacking with 6 people using wheeled baggage was interesting. At times (eg just before turning left in front of a steep hill in San Francisco) I was almost tempted to walk a longer, steeper route than strictly necessary.

The overnight bus wasn't too bad. There was more legroom than the Eurolines bus I took.


Quotes:

They try to be colour-blinded (blind)

air'm'br'air'ce race's (embrace races)

core'noy'sear (connoisseur)

We're from Singapore. We speak English, but we have a lot of people who speak Chinese, Malay and Indian. (Tamil)

[Female student on guys not talking: They're just standing still and keeping quiet.] They're communicating with their minds. [Female student 2: Guys like to make girls talk about them.] [Male student 2: Let them talk about us.]
VietPundit: Racist America?

"I get angry when I hear some leftist idiots claim that America is a “racist” country. Sure some Americans are racist. But you know what? I’ll let you in on a little secret, ok? Some Vietnamese are racist, too. Yup, that’s shocking, ain’t it?

The truth is that there’s less racism in America than anywhere else on earth. Just from the little corner of Asia where I came from: the Vietnamese hate the Chinese, who can’t stand the Japanese, who despise the Koreans, who of course loath the Japanese, and you can complete the circle yourself. Even amongst Vietnamese, Southerners hate Northerners, and vice versa. Even in my tiny hometown of Da Nang, people from District One consider those in District Three (on the other side of the Han River) backward and stupid.

Am I making too broad a generalization here? Of course I am. And that’s the point. There’s prejudice everywhere you go. There are good people everywhere you go, too, and there are plenty of them in America. Just go to any American embassy abroad and look at the long lines of people waiting to apply for a Visa, and tell them that America is a racist country."
Google Language tools translates "台式比薩" as "Desktop Pisa".

Babelfish goes one up and renders it as "Table model ratio".


"而小印度一帶,除了清潔程度的差別之外,看起來就和印度的某些街道一模一樣。"

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"An author is a fool who, not content with boring those he lives with, insists on boring future generations." - Charles de Montesquieu

***

Channeling my inner misandrist:


Men who don't want to get married have commitment issues.
Women who don't want to get married are modern, empowered women who don't need to depend on men.

Men who use sex aids are sad, perverted and can't get laid.
Women who use sex aids are liberated from patriarchy and adventurous.

Men who use computers a lot are geeks.
Women who use computers a lot are technologically savvy empowered women who don't need to depend on men.

Men who skip PE are lazy.
Women who skip PE have cramps.

Men who don't make the first move are cowards.
Women who don't make the first move are testing fickle and unreliable men.

Men who flirt are thinking with their penises.
Women who flirt are just having fun.

Men who are found in female toilets are peeping toms.
Women who are found in male toilets are escaping the queue.

Women who wear men's clothing are getting rid of impractical, outdated and sexist garb.
Men who wear women's clothing are gay.
USP-Stanford Multiculturalism Forum
Day 13 (18/5) - San Francisco


After about a week, the ends of my hair were starting to stick together a lot. Someone's theory was that it was because of the static, which is discharged in Singapore due to the humidity.

While hiking the previous Saturday, I was not the only one to damage my shoes - Tong Wei's got a hole.


We were supposed to go to Monterey today, but it fell through because we couldn't get a bus in time. Originally, Aileen, Weiwei and I were going to go to San Francisco, but the first was tempted by free lunch and so stayed behind with the rest, who did things like laundry, going for more talks in Stanford and watching a hiphop (?) concert.


Mission Dolores, the oldest building in San Francisco (founded 1776)


Chapel


Altar


One of the side carvings


Basilica


Altar


Water


Madonna and Child


Madonna mosaic


Guillermo Granzio. Mural about the Spanish arrival


Early 19th c. Spanish Colonial picture on paper with silk embroidery showing the 3 persons of the Holy Trinity


Indian hunting stuff


Cemetery








Mission

We wanted to get down to Fisherman's Wharf, and I asked one bus driver if his bus went to the sea (the bus didn't quite go to the wharf). He claimed it didn't. Later we found out, after trying the bus in the other direction, that his bus did. Mexican
busboys should learn to speak goddamn English.

We wanted to go to Alcatraz, but it was fully booked for the next 21 hours. Nearby, a scalper was hawking tickets for $30 (original price: $21.75). He claimed he was selling them on behalf of a timeshare. Right. My companion was inclined to buy tickets, but I wasn't hot about the idea - maybe I should've gone for it.


Pier 39

After lunch we went to Lombard Street, specifically the stretch dubbed "the world's crookedest street" (supposedly it's only the crookedest in the US, but I can't find information on which is the crookedest in the world).


Steep road in vicinity. It's so steep they have 90 degree parking, and tour buses and vans with a capacity of more than 8 people are banned from the vicinity.




View from top


Cable Car



Pizza ad: "Pizza Orgasmica. 'We never fake it.'" Seems they had pizzas like "ménage a trois," "doggie style," and "Latin Lover."

After that we proceeded to the Golden Gate Bridge, to walk it.







Sign on the bridge: "No U-turn". What moron would make a U-turn there?!

At one point, some of my batteries fell out from my camera pouch. Though I picked up what I could find, 1 disposable battery seemed to have rolled into the water.


Bay


Anti-suicide signs. My favourite is: "Crisis Counselling: There is hope. Make the call. The consequences of jumping from this bridge are fatal and tragic."











Rough halfway mark


Near the end


Cove on the other side


Heading back

The BART is convenient (if expensive) but the annoying thing is that it misses out large chunks of San Francisco - you need to transfer to the metro, which is annoying.

Ad at a bus stop about human trafficking: "Is someone you know being FORCED to work?" The bus driver was very amused and said: "Yeah, me!"

I don't know how people can get so upset about other people using cell phones, say, in the train. Carrying on a conversation on a cell phone really isn't very different from talking to someone beside you. Hell, since the other person isn't there it's even better since you get half the noise. If you want to ban cell phone usage, you might as well ban conversation.

I can't figure out how sales tax works. Some suggested that items below a certain price wouldn't get sales tax, but it doesn't work that way, as in these examples: $1 for 4 small chocolates (sales tax levied), $1.99 for cashew nuts at Safeway (no sales tax), $2 for 6 stink bombs in Chinatonw (sales tax levied), $4.99 + $1 for a sandwich plus a meal deal at Safeway (sales tax levied on the meal deal bit, not the sandwich, for $6.08 overall). It's seems arbitrary and bizarre.

[Someone: Sales tax probably works by classification. Basic food and non basic or non essentials. Just like Australia's GST.

The government or some 'independant body', of course, is the sole arbitrator of what is a basic food and what is not.]

The Safeway in San Francisco we went to had a coin dispenser at the end of the checkout counter which shot out the coins part of your change. This was very smart, not only because it saved labour but because some people would inevitably forget to collect their change or not bother, and they would be able to pocket it.

When I got back, I found that the guys didn't do laundry for me - they forgot, though I'd lent them my soap. Boo hoo. This messed up my clothes schedule for the week ahead.
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