Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 67

Christmas lights in the USA

So…..there are lights, lights everywhere. Christmassy ones. And blow up Santas, and blow up snowmen, and I even saw a blow up pineapple, though what that has to do with Christmas, I cannot fathom.

Anyhow, putting up your lights in the USA has completely different connotations from Christmas lights on houses in the UK.

Face it, citizens of the UK, we sneer and tut at people who decorate their houses with what we would consider too many sparkly and colourful lights. We jeer at them, and because there is a class system that exists in the UK, we generally suspect that those with overt Christmas paraphenalia must be of the “lower-class” and therefore have no taste whatsoever.

Shame on us!

In the USA, it really is completely different. Anyone and everyone puts up their Christmas lights and they do it with great pride. There is ultimate respect for this and they are there to be enjoyed by the public, neighbours and nosy Brits like me. The array of Christmas lights here in Maryland hold no clue to class, since none exists. Putting up your lights is, pure and simple, a joyful thing to do to celebrate Christmas. And some of them are pretty amazing, and look pretty pretty and thus, I am slowly beginning to understand what it is that people love about Christmas decorations.

I still, however, only have a tree and some lights up the bannister thoough. There’s always next year 🙂

Christmas is a big deal

For some reason we had heard / thought / made up that Thanksgiving was a bigger deal than Christmas here. Not so. The Chrstimas vibe is ringing out and everyone is getting into the holiday spirit, well and truly. I’m not sure where we got the false info about Thanksgiving, but Christmas celebrations here are already beginning to feel pretty awesome. Next year I may not go to Florida for Christmas, and hang about here doing Christmassy things with candy canes and elves instead.

The Duke of Hazzard is true

Okay, so counties and states and cops in America…how does it work?

I explained this to my mother using whilst referencing The Dukes of Hazzard and the county line shenanigans going on there with Rosco P Coltrane and Boss Hogg etc. (Makes you want to watch an episode, doesn’t it?!)

Anwyays, this is how it actually in reality is, and not just as per an 80s TV show in a made up county.

Depending on the jurisdiction, in the United States, county police tend to exist only in metropolitan counties and have countywide jurisdiction. In some areas, there is a sheriff‘s department which only handles issues such as service of papers such as a constable in other areas, along with security for the local courthouse. In other areas, there are no county police and the local sheriff is the exclusive law enforcement agency and acts as both sheriff and county police, which is much more common than there being a separate county police force.

The sheriff can go where the hell is likes in his state, cos he has state jurisdiction. So now you know.

Tailgating

What is this tailgaiting thing? In the UK it means someone who drives up your car’s rear in their car. Here, it has an altogether and much more positive meaning.

In the United States, a tailgate party is a social event held on and around the open tailgate of a vehicle. Tailgating often involves consuming alcoholic beverages and grilling food. Tailgate parties usually occur in the parking lots at stadiums and arenas, before and occasionally after games and concerts. People attending such a party are said to be tailgating. Many people participate even if their vehicles do not have tailgates.

Tailgate parties have spread to the pre-game festivities at sporting events besides football, such as basketballhockey,soccer, and baseball, and also occur at non-sporting events such as weddings and barbecues.

In schools and communities nationwide, there are athletic departments, coaches and parents of student athletes who rely on post-game tailgating parties to build community and support for their program and team. Smaller, underfunded programs are assisted by the voluntary participation of parents and friends to feed the team and coaching staff post-competition, which establishes a strong core of support year after year.”

And then I got this email on my phone from the local news.

Wow, tailgaiting is a sport in its own right here in the USofA!

And I want to tailgate, please, someone in America 🙂

Bad Weather Survival Guide To Tailgating in Baltimore

by cbsexaminer

Don’t let bad weather ruin your Ravens tailgate (Credit, Antonio Paterniti)

Extreme-weather tailgating is the ultimate test of any football fanatic. To enter the ranks of the Ravens tailgating elites, fans must be willing to endure often brutal weather conditions that come with winter in Baltimore.

Luckily, the coldest month of the year for Baltimore is January, when football season for most is in recess, but with the Ravens’ record so far this season, an AFC Wild Card or Conference Championship game in 2013 is highly probable.

Either way, even in fall and early winter, temperatures will take a nosedive once the sun sets, increasing the risk of hypothermia. Occasionally, nor’easters are Maryland’s greatest winter storms and will dump heavy snow and strong winds. And to keep things interesting, ice storms are also not uncommon to the Baltimore area. However, much more common to the area can be 35 degrees Fahrenheit and rain, arguably one of the most miserable conditions for tailgaters.

The trick is not letting Mother Nature put a damper on your team spirit by following these bad weather “bare essentials.”

Food

Cold-weather food not only helps warm you from the inside out, but is guaranteed to bring smiles back as well. A hearty bowl of chili or chowder (typically clam, crab or a seafood chowder for Baltimore fans), hot sandwiches and a tall mug of steaming hot chocolate with marshmallows says it all.

For tailgating cooks, the colder the temperatures, the longer the prep time necessary for the grill. To cut back on pre-game cooking time, consider precooking as much as possible and then just reheating and re-saucing on the grill. Also, plan your menu wisely to include foods that don’t require a fork and knife, or bare fingers – instead opt for food on a stick or anything you can sip so that gloves can stay on while feasting.

Since grills lose heat fast when the lid is off, low and slow barbecuing can be your best bet on chilly game days. Also, with the grill working twice as hard to stay heated, come prepared with extra fuel. A good rule of thumb is to anticipate using about 25 percent more fuel than you would on warmer game days.

Clothing

It bears repeating that no fan has ever been steered wrong with layers, layers, layers. If done correctly, the rule of three layers will retain body heat and keep you dry. The innermost layer should keep moisture away from the body, so look for garments that are made of “wicking” material. The middle layer(s) should trap in warm air – think wool, down and thermal garments. The outermost layer is for protection against the elements, whether rain, wind or snow. The chief goal is water resistance so that the inner layers remain dry. This last layer doesn’t necessarily need to be thick, but must be weatherproof. Above all, your layers should allow for freedom of movement since it’s the science behind the layers that keeps you warm, not the sheer number of them.

Even if you layer perfectly, a cold head or cold feet will counterbalance your success, so hats are critical at all times and shoes/boots should always be waterproof.

Shelter

While canopy tents are often at the top of every tailgater’s list, tarps and windscreens will make the difference when it comes to battling cold winds or sideways rain. However the greater danger to tailgaters can come from tents and tarps that aren’t anchored properly and will blow away or give a sharp whip with strong winds. If tailgating on asphalt, add bricks or sandbags to your gear list to ensure the safety of yourself and nearby fans – plus the sandbags will come in handy after an unexpected snowfall, which may leave some wheels spinning for hours in the lot.

Happiness

When the going gets tough, the tough get going! It’s harder to constantly think about being cold when you’re moving around and staying active, whether that’s playing games or just huddling together and engaging in interesting conversation. Activity will keep your mind from focusing on the negatives and have you enjoying more of the positives. Remember, perspective is half the battle.

Before leaving home, review this checklist of essential gear to have when bad weather threatens Baltimore:

  • Tent or canopy covering
  • Tarps
  • Shovel
  • Sand bag or kitty litter
  • Ice scraper with brush
  • Broom (for heavy snowfalls)
  • Ponchos
  • Hand and foot warmers
  • Layers
  • Blankets (at least one waterproof and one fleece)
  • Portable heaters
  • Warm drinks – tea, coffee, hot chocolate
  • Waterproof shoes/boots
  • Wool or thermal socks
  • Face mask
  • Hat, scarf and gloves
  • Beer koozies
  • Add your own essentials gear to the comments section of this article for fellow fans to benefit from

Happy Tailgating!

Check out Tailgate Fan to keep the party going at tailgatefan.cbslocal.com.

Tailgaiting rocks!

And finally…..

Gun crime hits 1,000 arrests

This was a headline in the Baltimore paper recently. I’m not sure if this is good PR, or bad PR, but that’s still a ridiculously high number….

Baltimore City Police Reach Milestone With 1,000th Gun Arrestby sjohnson2

BALTIMORE (WJZ)— One thousand guns. Police have removed that significant number from city streets in what they say is the next step to cutting violent crime. The commissioner and mayor announced the milestone at the crime scene Wednesday night. Just hours later, more gunfire would ring out in several neighborhoods.

Mike Hellgren breaks down the significant statistic and what it means.

There’s been a barrage of stories on violence surrounding guns in the city–with gangs, and drugs…The number of murders has surpassed that of last year. So the mayor and commissioner wanted to make note of this milestone gun arrest.

Police mark the milestone of taking the 1,000th gun off Baltimore City streets this year.

They got it in Park Heights after a man broke into a home with children inside and stashed the gun behind a sofa.

It was significant to city leaders, who held a press conference on Manchester Avenue a few hours later.

The commissioner credited a new foot patrol program, which had more than 400 officers walking the beat Wednesday night.

“The horrific moment when someone broke into the house and violated their home. It’s a good thing our officers were there,” said Commissioner Anthony Batts, Baltimore City Police.

The commissioner did note a recent slight spike in violent crime, including a number of shootings in the Greenmount Avenue corridor, which have quieted in recent days.

Community leader Oscar Cobbs put the 1,000th gun into perspective.

“It’s a milestone, but I still say there are too many guns in Baltimore City,” said Oscar Cobbs, Park Heights.

“This is not a celebration. This is a call for further action,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “We are relentless in our pursuit to make sure that every neighborhood in our city is a safer neighborhood, and Baltimore becomes one of the safer cities in the country.”

Underscoring the battle police face, less than 12 hours later, police responded to four more shootings citywide.

The victims in those shootings from Edmondson Village to Druid Heights were young–22, 23, 24 years old.

Police say they plan to keep up those foot patrols. They’ll be fanned out in neighborhoods across the city Thursday night.

Police arrested 19-year-old Quincy Holmes in that 1,000th gun arrest in Park Heights. They say he assaulted the homeowner when she tried to get him to leave.

Guns, guns, guns. I still don’t get it.

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6 Responses to Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 67

  1. Kristin says:

    On pineapples- in Colonial America we entertained primarily in the home, and there was no greater sign of hospitality for your guests than having a rare, expensive, delicious pineapple all the way from the tropical new world of the Caribbean. So the symbol has lived on as a sign of hospitality, especially in colonial hot spots like Williamsburg, VA. Not necessarily Christmas themed, but tied into welcoming your neighbors and such.

    Enjoy the blog! Who knew so many things were different here than in the UK.

  2. Cindy H says:

    If you want to see a crazy collection of inflatables, head over to the corner of Ridge Road and South Rolling Road in Catonsville. Also in that area, Montrose Avenue is worth a look. Reputedly, the downtown Baltimore sight to see is http://christmasstreet.com/

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