October 2010 Archives
Two weeks. Two of the best weeks of our lives. Two weeks ago I met mm at Orlando airport and we had a great week at Disney, followed by a wonderful relaxing week here at home.
This morning I took her to ORD and watched as she went through security for her flight out. We did not want to be separated, but sigh, what can we do. We’re doing this for our future. I couldn’t help crying, back in the car, when I stopped at a bank car park when she called, and at home. Everything and everywhere reminded me of her; she’s only been here a week and her imprint is already so strong. Even in the bathroom, eating the the leftover food she made, taking out the trash. I ran 8k for the first time since the marathon, and that reminded me of her too — that I didn’t get a chance to take her out to Foster beach or that it was too windy for us to go cycling. I’ve been tracking her flight all day, in its own window and I stare at the map every few minutes.
I kinda knew it, but I’ve basically avoided it but now only 10hrs after we couldn’t stop waving good-bye at each other, I can’t deny that my life has been lonely and how much I miss her. There’s still a few years of hard work to go, and I’m sure we’ll be fine, I can’t wait to be with her again.
mm’s last full day. We made it to Lincoln Park market finally, had a sandwich picnic on the grass. I’m trying to savour every second. She made me minced beef rice, just like old times, and we watched Transformers. I can’t write more, sorry.
Walked around Navy Pier, not a lot to see really, but an important Chicago destination. Tried to take mm to Frontera Grill, we got there around 5.30pm and there was a 60-90min wait already. Not worth it, we went to Whole Foods and went home. We seem to be staying home a lot, I feel guilty and want to take mm out but she keeps saying it’s fine to be home. She’s been tired and working hard so I think it’s okay.
Went to the outlet today, it was fun. We bought quite a few stuff. At home I made steak and we watched Bones again. Sigh.
Seems all very normal and domesticated, except it isn’t. Not quite. We were both at work, and I waited for mm to finish. Had dinner at home and watched Bones. I so wish today was a normal day for us. Sigh.
After work, we went to see billy elliot at the Oriental. First time at the Oriental was when I saw Wicked, and the theatre is still imposing. We drove and parked next doors.
The show wasn’t full, about 25-30% capacity only. I can still remember the film, and it was good to see the musical version. The Billy for the night was JP Viernes, and overall the show was good. Not outstanding, still enjoyable. Lots of memories on the miners’ strike, I doubt many people in the audience understood or were there for that.
Drove in to work, cos of the weather and so it’s easier for mm. Showed her around and left her with her dept. She had lots of meetings and it was surreal to see her at odd times between her meetings. I got us sushi for lunch which we both ate in my office. Early night.
I was determined to take mm out to show her around. Even though she says it’s okay, cos I’m sick, I dragged her out. We hit the usual, the bean, the park, the lake. It was windy although dry. After visiting the town we went to Whole Foods. Made salmon at home, it was nice again. She’s now addicted to Bones and I just happened to have it on Netflix, so we’re watching it. Very domestic, watching tv at home.
Weather was crap today, rain and thunderstorms. I wanted to take mm to Lincoln Park market, but was discouraged by the weather and the fact that I was sick. What we did was to go to Ann Sather’s for brunch and I took her to Jewel’s. Just a relaxing day.
Checked out of the hotel and went back to Epcot. Did Soarin’ and Test Track again. Lunch of burgers at the electric umbrella and it was time to say good-bye to WDW. Sniff, sniff.
We had different seats on the flight back, she was up front in first and I was back in coach. I was really tired and we sat there in the food court and I fell asleep at the table! Taxi home and it was time to introduce mm to my apartment. I think she likes it. Neither of us want to leave Orlando, but it was nice to be home. I’ve been fighting a cold all week, and it was great to sleep in my own bed. Having mm there was a big bonus of course.
full flickr set: here
Our last full day here, full of memories. Today is the turn of Animal Kingdom. Again parking was organised and we were at the entrance in no time. We headed straight to the Kilimanjaro Safari and got a fastpass. There was time, so we did the Rafiki Planet Watch train ride and walked around the Pagani Nature Trail. Even before going into the safari we’d seen tigers, gorillas and bats. The Safari was modeled after a regular African safari, and the animals there did roam free. There were elephants, hippos, rhinos, wilderbeests, thompson gazelles, cheetahs, flamingos and warthogs. Reminded us of Kenya. So nicely done that we got another fastpass immediately to go on it again.
Lunch was fairly standard American Chinese food in Asia — orange chicken, sweet and sour beef, with rice. We’d purposefully opted out of the meal plan, wanted more flexibility to what we ate. It’s a good plan, where you can have 3 self serviced or 2 self serviced and 1 served meals a day, plus snack. The thing is, we have to eat at disney resaturants. If we’d been on the plan we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to the lobster place last night.
Anyway, we took some pictures at the tree of life and against the expedition everest ride (no, we didn’t go on that). We did go on the Kali River Rapids, and luckily didn’t get very wet, compared with some people who were completely soaked.
Then it was time for the parade. AK wasn’t very crowded today and we even managed to find a couple of stools to sit on the side of the road. Plenty of space to watch. This parade isn’t as good as the others, we still enjoyed it. There was time for pictures with Pluto, Goofy, Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore before catching the Nemo show.
Animal Kingdom closes early, at 5pm. The day was far from over. Had dinner at the lobster place again, this time the quality wasn’t as good, so it will be our last visit. After dinner it was time to hit Magic Kingdom again for the Electric Parade and the fireworks. We didn’t get a very good view of the electric parade, stuck at the side with an official bang in our way. With our cameras (mm got a new s95 before coming here) we were doing pretty good.
Oh. The fireworks. Absolutely beautiful, set against Cinderella’s castle. mm took pictures while I took videos. Afterwards we did not want to leave. We lingered to have a dole whip, and take pictures of the castle. Absorb absorb absorb the atmosphere. We had to practically trea ourselves out, because the trams to the car park were ending service. Sigh.
full flickr set: here
A really hot day today for Epcot. Lovely park, I can see why it’s a favourite. We started at Future World, got a fastpass fo Soarin’ and then set about exploring the rest. There was Nemo & friends, the shops at Innoventions, and Club Cool, where we could try for free different flavours of soft drinks from all over the world. Perfect for a hot day.
What can I say about Soarin’ but how amazing it is. It’s a simulation of hang gliding through different parts of California, from the beach to vineyards to downtown LA. I managed to video most of it. Very relaxing, very awesome.The other side of Future World was Mission: Space and Test Track. More rides that I want to go on again. We actually ended up going on Test Track twice, the second time I videoed as well.
Our visit coincided with the International Food and Wine Festival, where in addition to the countries at world showcases, there were stalls from other countries with signature foods and wines. We had scallops from NZ, lamb and barramundi from Australia, mussels from Belgium and a beer flight of 3 different beers. A little expensive, still worth trying for the experience. We visited several countries, shops and boat rides. Very relaxing.
We got a voucher for boston lobster feast. It’s not by any means an upscale restaurant, but the lobsters were good and kept coming. There was also clam chowder, shrimp, other seafood, prime rib and salad. I think I had 3 or 4 lobsters, by the end I was only having the tail, didn’t even bother with the head or claws. Made a change from all disney all the time, and I’m glad we have a car.
Went back to Hollywood Studios for a walk around and shopping. Still couldn’t get into Toy Story. We have to leave something for next time, right?
full flickr set: here
Universal studios today. Or more precisely the Islands of Adventure part, there are 2 parks and this is the one everyone goes to, because of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But first, there was the main street and the Seuss section. We breezed past the Seuss section, cos we know nothing about Seuss. In any case we wanted to get to Hogsmeade.
The village was authentic, with Hogsmead station and Hogwarts express. There was a Honeyduke’s for sweets, owl post, restaurants, Ollivanders and of course butterbeer. Yummy. The castle at the other end of the village was home to the ride. It was a very intense and occasionally dizzy ride. Strapped in a pod, we went up and down, sideways and rotating all around while play quidditch, or fighting death eaters. The line was long, about 1.5hrs, I thought it was worth the wait.
Lunch of ribs, corn, rice, beans and it was onto the rest of the park. Jurassic Park, Toon land and Popeye’s boat, and another signature ride, Spiderman. This one was 3D too, following Spidey as he flies from building to building fighting villains. Good fun. The outside of the park, between IoD and the studios, is an area called Boardwalk. There are restaurants, cinema and a hard rock café. I wanted to get a shirt there, but alas, it looks exactly the same as my London shirt. Not worth getting.
On the way back, we stopped by the Premium Outlets. We were both pretty tired by then so we did the outlets very quickly. Dinner was drive-thru McDonalds heehee. I wanted the angus burger and mm hasn’t had it before. We sat at a comfy cushioned seat by the lake back at our hotel, proving that it isn’t necessary to go for fine dining to have a nice meal.
full flickr set: here
Monday. Park #2. Hollywood Studios. Oh wow. What a collection of bright colours. From reading online guides, we knew that we must go to Toy Story Mania to get a fastpass first thing, but we were too late, all had been given out. So we went back to the entrance and started exploring. The centrepiece was the giant Mickey’s sorcerer’s hat in the middle, and it was a landmark. The long stretch of Sunset Boulevard on the right was full of shops, which led to the popular Tower of Terror and Rock’n’Rollercoaster rides. We went to the respective shops but didn’t go on the rides.
What we did catch were all the shows, we were at the showtimes board constantly and managed to fit them all in:
- Beauty and the Beast — where they fit the musical into just about 25mins
- Indiana Jones — with the actual stunt doubles who did the stunts on Raiders and reenacting the scene with the WW2 plane
- Lights, Motor, Action — driving stunts, including chases, leaps over trucks, motorcycles, speedboats and cars coming through a building
- Backlot tour — gentle train ride through parts of the working studiio
- Great Movie Ride — another gentle ride with a little action, presenting movie history
We caught the block party parade, with singing and dancing cartoon characters. And then it was time for Fantasmic. I’d originally planned for us to start at Epcot then end up here for the show, I’m glad we just did Hollywood Studios in a day. By the time we got there, more than 1hr before the show was due to start, all the seats had been taken. We were lucky to get 2 standing places at the front of the standing area, which turned out to be pretty good locations. The signature Fantasmic show was all about water, laser and all the disney characters. Very spectacular and a great end to another wonderful day.
full flickr set: here
We had breakfast at the pepper market again, and then set off for our first disney adventure. Where else but the magic kingdom? We were there the whole day, and we could have stayed much longer if we weren’t so tired.
Parking was free for disney resort guests so we saved $14. The car park is huge, but very well organised and marked. Trams took us to the entrance and we took the monorail over to the park. Magic Kingdom is the one that other disney parks around the world is modelled on, so the layout is familiar. We had our first photopass pic taken at the main entrance, just below the railway station. It is as easy as they say, just hand the card over to the photographer and pose.
We were lucky to catch a parade straightaway, what a good start. The park was crowded, as expected. Our first ride was Stitch’s Great Escape at Tomorrowland, only a 5min wait, it was great. We got a fastpass for Buzz Lightyear and lined up for the Speedway. In between, we rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority ride. Everything was as magical as advertised.
After Tomorrowland we explored Toontown. I hadn’t expected to stay there long, we ended up spending a fair bit of time at Mickey’s and Minnie’s houses. Lunch was pizza and pasta, nice and simple. After lunch we did the relaxing rides — Snow White, Pooh, Philharmagic. The only disappointment was that Small World was closed for renovation. Onward to Liberty Square, the Haunted Mansion and a ride on the steamboat. Again, relaxing. We gave Big Thunder Mountain a miss but went on Splash Mountain. It was way less scary than I remembered.
Before dinner we went to explore the shops on main street. Oddly enough, neither of us were tempted to buy, although it was great to explore. I had dinner reservations at the crystal palace, it was a character dinner with pooh, tigger, piglet and eeyore. The food was standard buffet fare of salad, chicken, roast, pasta. The characters came by and took pictures with everyone. It was great.
It was almost dark by the time we came out of dinner. It turned out that it was one of the nights of the Halloween Party, which was extra admission. We were supposed to have a wristband but we kind of stuck around and managed to catch the parade. Tired but very happy.
December — I finally got the pics done and loaded, so I’ll be posting catch up posts for our vacation in Orlando.
My flight was in the morning, and I toyed with taking public transport for a second before deciding on taxi. Check-in and flight were uneventful, it actually arrived early. As I was on the way to pick up my luggage, mm called me, frantic. She’d missed her flight at Miami. I couldn’t get much details while I was trying to console her. She was first on the waiting list for the next flight, in about 1 hour, and I was hopeful that she’d get on. I guess she isn’t as familiar with domestic flights.
Her luggage came with the original flight, which arrived less than 30mins later. I grabbed it and found a bench seat. She called back and confirmed she had gotten on the later flight so all was well. Worse case scenario, it’s a 4hr drive to Miami, and I would have done it.
We got the rental car and to the resort without any more drama. I’d gotten a good deal at the coronado springs. Wow, it’s a huge hotel. We got a room in building 8A in the cabanas area, it’s a decent 3-star room with enough space and a large bathroom. Nothing fancy.
It was already dark, so we walked out to the El Centro lobby area and had dinner at the Pepper Market. That is a self-service place with different stations for different types of food. In keeping with the southwest theme of the resort, we had Mexican. It’s so good to be eating with mm again, even though she was pretty tired. Went back to the room and she was asleep right after showering. Took me a longer time, I played on the mbp for a bit while she slept.
In less than 24 hours’ time I will meet up with mm at Orlando airport. I’m arriving from ORD, she’s arriving from LHR. Then we will pick up a rental car and drive to walt disney world. We’ve been planning this for a while, and been looking forward to it immensely. Everything is planned, and I’ve reserved tickets and done as much prep as I can:
- flight — we’ve both checked in to our respective flights already; she’s coming back to Chicago with me
- taxi — my taxi is booked for tomorrow morning; she is taking a taxi to Paddington, and has her Heathrow Express ticket already
- car — I researched all the big car rental companies and finally got a deal at Dollar, for an SUV even cheaper than a compact at Hertz/Avis
- hotel — booked through a travel agency, who found us a nice deal at the Coronado Springs resort
- meals — we’re not taking the dining plan, as we wanted to be flexible…it’s not that useful for 2 adults
- meals part 2 — I have a booking at the disney character dinner at the crystal palace; she doesn’t know about it, i hope she likes it
- park tickets — I got park hopper tickets at pre-increase prices by buying them early; also got a 1-day pass for universal
- maps — all printed
- itinerary — have a high level idea of which park to go on which day, but leaving it flexible
- photopass — prepaid for the photopass cd, saving $50
I’d say we’re ready for a nice time.
mm is in London this week, but all we’ve managed were emails and a couple of very brief phone calls. I’m not used to the time difference, she’s jetlagged. By the time I get round to calling her it’s her 10pm and she’s in bed. I’ve woken her up twice now, eeek. Doesn’t matter, we’ll see each other on Saturday.
I was talking with a UK colleague today and I realised I’ve picked up a little bit of an american accent. Subtle pronunciation and the way some vowels got flattened. I had to consciously get back to my londoner accent. It felt strange. Although, to an american I still sound different.
- does it work? if not, then throw away
- would I replace it if it were broken or lost? if not, then I don’t need it
- does it seem potentially useful, but has never been used? applies to far too many gadgets bought, especially kitchen gadgets
- was I saving it? then use it, otherwise it’ll go bad
- does it serve its purpose well? if it isn’t that useful, chuck it
- has it been replaced by a better model? do I have that better model? if yes, throw away the old version
- is it nicely put away in an out-of-the-way place? where I’ll never find it, get it out and get rid of it, it’s taking up useless space
- does this memento actually prompt any memories? most souvenirs only succeed in taking up room
- have I ever used this thing? most likely not
If I can focus, I can probably get rid of at least half my possessions and I won’t miss them. I should make myself do that.
I’m still thinking about Sunday’s race so indulge me for another marathon post please. If I hadn’t been running, I would probably have been watching the whole race on TV. And watched in wonder at the final 1k battle between Sammy Wanjiru and Tsegaye Kebede. Wow!! The way they ran, it looks like they’re sprinting and not having run 41km. Sammy’s kick at the end…I’m awestruck now.
On another topic, I met a guy today who’s run Chicago, NYC, London, Paris, Rome, and a Swiss marathon (Zurich? Jungfrau? I have to look it up). And he came in at 5.17 on Sunday. I feel I didn’t do too badly.
Learned a new phrase today on the rw.com forums — redemption marathon. While we’re still at good fitness form, go run another marathon soon after this one, especially if the performance wasn’t ideal. For example NYC on 7 Nov is a perfect opportunity to redeem for Chicago. Hmm.
Official results came in quickly yesterday, official photos are still being sorted — they must have taken hundreds of thousands of pics, and all have to be tagged. I saw a few already on the site, and I’m very tempted to buy a couple.
The official results came with splits. It’s easy to see how I started at a reasonable pace then slowed right down at the end. 35k is mile 21, just past Chinatown and into the barren, shadeless lands of Wentworth and Michigan.
I still think I did okay in terms of pacing. Could I have pushed harder? Probably, but it may have caused injury and the wheels really coming off. People always say don’t worry about the time for the first marathon, because it’s all about gaining experience. I can’t agree more. Next time, I’ll need to get even more miles in during training, and seriously ramp it up. If there is a next time.
42km (26.2miles) 5:38:53hr 8.04min/km
Race #10. The Big One. I went to bed at 9pm, but wasn’t able to fall asleep right away. Woke up at 1am, tossed and turned again. Alarm went off at 4.30am. Had a big breakfast of cereal and cream cheese bagel. A banana at the BoA tent when I got to Grant Park. That was very nice, having a quiet area to sit down and no-queue portaloos.
At first I lined up with the 5.30 pace group, then decided psychologically I’d rather run with a faster group and get overtaken by slower ones than never being able to catch up with a group. So I moved up to the 4.30 group. It was warm already, so I knew it wasn’t going to be a fast day for me.
I was less than 15mins behind the gun, so kudos for organisation. The interesting sight was sweatshirts and t-shirts being flung to the sides as the race got going. The early parts — Columbus, Grand, Rush, State were all familiar territory. I was doing pretty well, conserving energy and enjoying the crowd support along the way. When we turned up La Salle and to Old Town and Lincoln Park the crowds got scarcer but I was going fine. I stopped at the medical tent at mile 5-6 for a band-aid to patch up a toe that was threatening to blister. By then the sun was beating down pretty hard and I took gatorade and water at every station.
My friend Karen was at Sheridan at mile 7, it was great to see her and she took a few pics of me. The turning point was at Addison and wow! the crowds there was phenomenal, Boystown really did us proud today. I ran behind Batman and Batgirl for a while, there weren’t that many people in costumes today, the ones who were got a rousing cheer. I was feeling good all the way back downtown and into the loop. More wonderful crowds all the way to the halfway point just past Sears Tower (almost immediately behind the office actually). I hit 13.1 at 2.35, was I feeling like I have 50% left? Yep.
I took a portaloo break at mile 14, and by then I was getting a little tired. Walked through each aid station but ran between them. My colleague Michelle was supposed to be at mile 19-20 but I couldn’t see her. I did see Eiffel Tower guy, boy that must be heavy. And then I got past 20 miles without hitting the wall, PR yay! Chinatown was another nice part, with crowds. Miles 21-23 down Wentworth was tough, with not a lot of cover.
Then it was miles 23-24 and the lonely run up Michigan. The event alert system had been upgraded to Red for a few miles now. Had to dig deep and keep moving. My knees were starting to hurt, which I ignored. The numbers got smaller and smaller and all of a sudden there was only 1 mile to go. By then I knew I’d miss 5.30, but it was okay. The end of Michigan and the right hand turn into “Mount” Roosevelt and 600m to go. Had enough legs to run up, and then it was the left hand turn into the home stretch. It is very moving, to see the finish line.
I got my beer, rested a little at the tent, then took the “L” home. Had a little scare with getting dizzy and had to get off at Sheridan for fresh air. The walk home from the station was long, long, long. Ice bath, chocolate milk, reheat pizza from yesterday. Exhausted. Knees hurt like hell. Blisters on right foot. But it’s all good.
So I did it. ! finished a marathon. Results:
- overall: 29959 / 49586
- gender: 12459 / 16186
- age division: 1112 / 1437
Flickr set: here
Thanks to: Karen, Michelle, everyone at work who were so encouraging; Janet for tracking my progress all the way in London; mm who says she’s keeping me under surveillance; Debra for the daily support. And most of all, every single volunteer along the route.
This is almost everything I’m taking with me to the marathon tomorrow. The only things missing are the camera (well, cos I was using it to take the pic) and my shorts. This is a lot of stuff! Although, I’ll be wearing or carrying the majority. From top left:
- water belt
- spare t-shirt
- titanium necklace
- race shoes with D-tag already in place, plus socks — I’m racing in these very light nike lunar racer 2
- knee straps
- bondi band that says 26.2
- race t-shirt
- course map and paperwork
- nike+ badge — I got this at the expo and it apparently gives free gifts or discounts or something
- KT tape — which I will apply on my knees and shins before bed tonight
- wet towel in ziploc bag, this will be gear checked and used post-race
- small hand towel that fits in my pocket
- ID, ICE card, credit card, CARA membership card, CTA pass
- keys, money
- bloks — tequila and cola flavours
- gu — blueberry and chocolate
- nutrigrain bars — the only reason I take these is because they are soft and chewy
- bagel — in the morning I will fill it with cream cheese and chop into 4 bite-sized pieces, nutrition for mid-race
- Bank of America customer upgrade gold wristband — allows access into BoA tent with water, bananas, toilets and seating
- number bib with gear check and 312 beer tag
- Polar HRM and strap
- run 75 miles (120km) // done: 94.4 miles (152km), could have done another 8k to get to 100 miles; but as I’ve run something like 250 miles in the last 3 months I’m not bothered
- PR HM // done, took 9mins off
- cross-train (bike, weights, whatever) at least once a week // done: 2xweights, 2xcycling
- monitor bp and heart-rate // done, with disappointing results and not much of a solution except go see a doctor which, um, I haven’t done yet. may be I need another challenge to add it as an item
- vegetarian day x4 // done: I did 4 vegetarian wednesdays, I may make this a habit
- new recipe x2 // done: 1, 2
- finish that roll of film in the lomo and develop it // done, with quite pleasing results
- build a new lightbox // done
- LL rewrite: 10,000 words // done: 10,380 words, 65,000-ish to go
- outline this year’s nano // done: a (for me) non-angsty novel backdropped by 12 races over 12 months
I kind of want to find something to post but I’m fresh out of ideas. Too much tv, running, race planning. I’m not eating right, even though I’m eating more carbs than usual, I should be eating more. Ugh, I can’t take too much bread or pizza or pasta, makes me feel bloated.
Forecast is warm on Sunday, up to 25°C. That’s worth freaking out about. Then again my colleague reminded me that I’d been training all summer in much much hotter conditions, so I should be used to it.
So here’s a completely random picture of hello kitty. This was in NYC.
It’s almost that time of year again. Compared with last year I’m actually late with the planning, cos almost 100% of my attention is on marathon prep. But I sat down the last few days and outlined it.
The story this year, not surprising, is about running. 12 chapters, following a year of races. It’ll also be a romance. The progression and ups and downs of training / racing will be echoed by the development of the relationship. For a change I might tone down on the angst. Let’s see if I can manage that.
3.01km 21.27min 7.07min/km
I changed my avatar, found this on the runnersworld forums. I think I tweeted that I’m going to be insufferable until and after the marathon.
I gave in and bought a replacement nike+ sensor. As much as I like the app, I will not have the iphone battery run out 400m from the finish line. Not at this race. So I calibrated it, and was a little aghast that all my previous runs may have been overestimated, that I am even slower than I thought. Argh!
Too late to worry about it now. There’s no time to re-train. Anyway, I went for an easy 3k according to the plan. For the first time since the awful 20-miler there was almost no pain and even a little spring in my step. I was unsure of what tapering will bring, seems like it’s working and I am getting rested physically and mentally.
Legend has it that a couple of Austrian photogs discovered a factory full of intriguing plastic cameras in Russia and saved these cameras from being destroyed. In doing so, with its unique and quirky effects, a cult was created. I thought long and hard about getting the original LCA cameras, but chickened out and got a holga instead. And one that had been modified to take 35mm film to boot.
This is the first roll that I developed. Most were blurry, I got may be 5 out of the roll that were interesting enough to keep. Going back to film, i have to re-learn the art of taking just one pic per scene. The lens is also really basic, so I can’t expect it to perform in low light conditions, or to pick up any sort of detail. So, lots of light and distinct images only. Despite the lack of focus, I like the painting quality of the results. Now I can see the effects, the next roll should be more interesting.
via kottke, a map of Europe according to Americans. There are other stereotypes, including Europe according to Britain (most of mainland Europe = Evil Federated Empire of Europe), France, Germany and Italy. Pretty accurate, IMO.
Reminds me of a recent joke that was circulating around fb:
A teacher at an International School gave a class assignment: “Describe your own personal opinion of the food shortage in other countries around the world.”
African student: what is “food”?
European student: what is “shortage”?
Chinese student: what is “personal opinion”?
American student: what is “other countries”?