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The Mall of America broke my brain! - helen-louise
The Mall of America broke my brain!
A brief rant:
Argh! I have just spent a very frustrating half hour in the alt.polycon consuite trying to figure out why my damn phone wouldn't connect to WiFi and kept attempting to dial up Orange GPRS instead. It transpires that I can only use my hotel WiFi username and password in my room. Argh!

The Mall of America is a scary, scary place. I'm not sure I can sum up succinctly why. The fact it contains a wedding chapel where you can get legally married (providing you are an opposite-sex couple and neither of you is already married) may have something to do with it. Also the food courts were absolutely terrifying. The only things I saw that did not contain more fat in just one meal than I usually eat in an entire day were the fruit juices and water. The level of artificial colourants was also fearsome. In the UK we have recognised that these things are bad for you and taken steps to limit their use: not so here where cookies contain alarming levels of bright red, blue and green.

I hit the Hot Topic, both Gamestops, and a shop selling Minnesota souvenirs. Then I headed back to the hotel for the alt.polycon introductions panel.

Current Location: in bed
Current Mood: okay okay

7 comments or Leave a comment
alexmc From: alexmc Date: 31st March 2007 07:31 (UTC) (Link)
> The fact it contains a wedding chapel where you can get legally married

In Beijing near Christmas I was in a hotel above a shopping centre. One day we were shocked to see a *mass* wedding. About twenty couples were getting married in near identical clothing. Scary.
redbird From: redbird Date: 31st March 2007 12:28 (UTC) (Link)
Note: in the U.S. what that wedding chapel means is that they're promising to have a minister, justice of the peace, or other person who is legally qualified to perform a wedding on premises at certain hours. The location itself is legally irrelevant: if two people (who fit the local qualifications, meaning not already married and, unless in Massachusetts, of different genders) want to get married in their back yard, or on the Brooklyn Bridge, or at a professional sporting event, they just need to find a willing officiant and get the license. [I've known people who got married in each of those locations, by the way.]

What it means that someone would choose to get married at the Mall of America is another question.
baratron From: baratron Date: 2nd April 2007 00:10 (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure what the law in the UK is. Until a few years ago it was only legal to get married in a Church of England church or registry office. Some other religious organisations got their ministers and places of worship accredited, but it was necessary to do this as they were not regarded as legal marriages otherwise.

Now the law says something about any "suitable" place, so anywhere that is regarded as properly ceremonial may apply for a license to hold legal marriage and civil partnership ceremonies. Apart from places of worship, other "suitable" places are museums, castles, old buildings and some hotels. The London Eye is licensed, and we're thinking of holding our legal ceremony there - not least of all because the size of the capsules strictly limits the number of guests to 25!

I'm flying into NY tomorrow. Staying in the YMCA in Queens the first night (in part because it's near the airport and I'm going to the mall there), and the Vanderbilt the second night (which is near the Rockefeller Center where the Nintendo World store is - I think it's on 47th St). If you're free for lunch or dinner on Tuesday or Wednesday I'd love to meet up. My flight out on Wednesday leaves at 11.30pm, so I'll be aiming to arrive at the airport at 8.30pm - as having missed my flight once I certainly don't want to do that again!

I have access to a "real" computer until 9.30am tomorrow, maybe as late as 11am if I don't bother trying to do something else before going to the airport for my lunchtime flight :)
redbird From: redbird Date: 2nd April 2007 11:48 (UTC) (Link)
Lunch Wednesday might work, if I can figure out a suitable place near my job (suitable meaning they can feed both of us and have seating rather than just take-out). Call me on 212-942-1710 (home) or 646-721-4041 (mobile) once you're in New York.
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baratron From: baratron Date: 2nd April 2007 00:30 (UTC) (Link)
To be fair, I wasn't thinking along the lines of "omg, the Americans eat so much shit" so much as "omg, the American restaurants sell so much shit". Like you say, the people in charge know full well that all that stuff is bad for you. They're the ones I'm angry at, not the consumers who assume something is suitable for human consumption because it's packaged and marketed that way :/

Outside of shopping mall and airport food courts, I've found two extremes of food - the complete junk of the burger places and Taco Hell, and really nice food. The Panera bread shop is excellent (we went back there for lunch today), and certainly wasn't expensive ($3.49 for a large bowl of soup and some bread). And the Hard Times veggie/vegan cafe that we went to last night had enormous main meals with protein, complex carbs (wholemeal bread or brown rice) and lots of fresh veggies for $5 or under.

The thing that makes me most angry is that fruit, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and pulses are among the cheapest foods there are - and you can live quite healthily on very little else. (Throw in some dairy and nuts and you have a perfectly balanced diet). Fruit and veg are expensive out of season, but if you buy them locally produced in-season, or if you buy them tinned and/or frozen, then they can be extremely reasonable. So why, then, do all "cheap" meals - in both the US and at home, it's true - consist of a slab of highly-fried meat in white bread with some limp, tasteless, leaves?

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baratron From: baratron Date: 3rd April 2007 16:21 (UTC) (Link)
Wow. Y'know, if you're anything like this abrasive, argumentative and dismissive in person, I'm not exactly surprised that you have trouble making friends.

I asked the friends I was staying with (from Chicago and the Bay Area) about your assertion, and they disagreed. They did point out that Rhode Island is small and doesn't have much farmland, so has to import a lot of its food from other states. I didn't have time to check the grocery prices in Minneapolis, but I got into NY last night and went into two supermarkets here. Both locally owned, not big chains. Bananas were 39c for 1 lb, grapes were 89c for 1 lb, sugar snap peas were 79c for 1 lb... As for Chinese greens (cabbages, pak choi, choi sum etc), they were around 99c for 2 lbs. The most expensive fruits were avocados, at $1.49 each, and cantaloupe melons at $3. All of these fruits and veggies were of a quality that I would buy and eat. There were some others even cheaper, but they were visibly a bit limp or tired.

As for the business about the food being "comprised almost entirely of GMOs" and GMOs "producing pesticides inside the food itself", man, you believe some crap. Most genetically-modified organisms contain one or two transgenes from other species. A few contain maybe up to 10. Yes, there has been cross-pollination of normal crops with genetically-modified pollen, but even then we're talking about one or two transgenes. Genes are made of DNA, and as a scientist, I do not fear DNA. There is no way for genes from food to become detached from the food cells' nucleus and somehow migrate into our human genome - if there was a way to do this, then genetic therapy for diseases such as cystic fibrosis would be much easier, and they wouldn't need to use retroviruses and modified cancer cells to do it.
ruth_lawrence From: ruth_lawrence Date: 1st April 2007 10:24 (UTC) (Link)
I visited it (after the Baltimore polycon), and found it highly alarming and very stuffy. Many shop fronts seemed like crepe-paer and foam props to me!

Not sorry I saw it, though.
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