Stats You Could Never Live Without
Trip Start Aug 25, 2011
47Trip End Sep 26, 2012
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I browsed through the all reliable source called the World Wide Web for some information, hard cold facts backed up by my own, errrm, research. First, I wanted to find some sort of statistic on swearing. I could swear (sorry, couldn’t help myself) that I saw somewhere that the Irish are at the top of the list. Maybe I just made that up, since I couldn’t find anything on the net. How do you measure swears? It’s different than in the states. At home, much swearing is almost a type of anger, even if the person speaking is not angry. For instance, in the states, we slam our finger in the door, we holler obscenities. Another example, we put rather graphic phrases together. A popular one – Mother Eff-you-know-what. It’s brutal! And yet another way Americans swear that I can think of is just to make a scene, look cool, draw attention, show others that you are living on edge. High school teachers know what I am talking about. As I would substitute teach and listen to kids’ lips flap in the wind, I notice how they really don’t mean what they say. They may even look around, searching for approval. They are cool kids, after all. The Irish, on the other hand, just swear. No reason, no purpose behind it, no attempt to be the rebel. And the funny part is, it doesn’t hurt my ears. Everyone does it. My profs, even the quieter ones, slip a few here and there. It’s not like at home where you have that one professor (people at Cal State Fullerton can relate. Dr. Rodgers, anyone?). Here, people don’t walk around the halls laughing about the colorful words a professor said. Instead, they will laugh about the entire package of a professor that might perhaps be more colorful than others. Who’s grand idea was it to give our professor Niall a megaphone during our fire alarms? Not only does he yell his obscenities on the loud speaker, he plays the tin whistle and makes fun of students. All with a megaphone. And when I say everybody swears, I mean it. Not only do students like to shoot out the four-letter words as they have a pint, the folks serving those pints like to, also. So do the folks serving your coffee. Once I asked a coffee man to grind some beans for me. The grinds were sticking to his machine, so he called them "s*** beans" and said he shouldn’t have agreed to grind them for me, they’ll ruin his machine. So much for being greeted with a smile. Yet, he wasn’t angry, and he still chatted with me. He held no grudge. He just fancied making a few obscene comments. People walking around the streets like to share a few exciting words, too. And so does the television, no bleeps. And the words are not just in anger. They just, well, are. Some that I hear more often – where I might say “wow” or “ay” in amazement or exasperation, they say “Jesus,” which sounds like "Jaysus!" The tamer version of exasperation is "Och," which I first read in Angela's Ashes, then got extremely excited when I heard it in real life. They also will string a few together in a sort of sigh or exclamation, “effin’ hell!” And when they don’t want to go out with the eff word, the Irish have their own version, which I hear often. “Feck” or "Feckers." Apparently, that version is the one that you say when you are trying to watch your mouth, though to my American ears, it hardly seems nicer. Funnier, yes. Grandmothers say it, to boot! I guess it’s like when we say “fudge” or “frick,” only it feels a bit more on edge. My favorite is one combination I honestly can't say I've heard before, "For eff's sake!" And here, I hear it several times a day. Usage example:Me - "For St. Patrick's Day we should watch Darby O'Gill and the Little People." Irish response - "For eff's sake!" Nothing else, case closed. I could go on with funny swears, but I won’t for sake of boring you all with too much writing on one subject. But I will end with this: the part that amazes me the most is that NOBODY CARES. Words fly, and no one gives a you-know-what. No one scoffs. No one stares. You sit in a restaurant, even a fast food joint or pub with children around, and I have not once heard anyone get upset or even shoot one judgmental glare. Swearing is just there, just a part of normal vocabulary, everywhere. Which is why I thought there was some statistic I could share with you about how the Irish were the top swearers in the world or something like that, but unfortunately I couldn’t find anything. Any of my readers find otherwise?
Of course when I start looking for statistics, I get on a roll. I found some fun ones. The first that I just had to find was beer consumption. The Irish love their beer. Really, that’s all they claim there is to do. Friends get together and go to the pub. They may not go with the intention of getting drunk, unlike people in the states. Drunkenness isn’t the goal, though it is definitely a side effect. No, they go for socializing, and the pint is the social tool. I found a few lists on the internet and learned that Ireland and the Czech Republic are often fighting for top beer consumption in the world. I believe it. The difference between the two countries, at least what I found from traveling, is that the Czech Republic drinks a lot because beer is cheaper than water. Also, they make their own lovely kinds, several different types on tap, all the tastes of the rainbow. Yes, even a monastery or two in Prague had its own brewery. How awesome is that? In Ireland, the choice of beers on tap is slim – Guinness, Murphy’s, Smithwicks, Heinekin, Bulmers (cider). Some pubs might have something different on tap, usually advertised, too, in order to entice people inside, but for the most part, these are the choices. The Irish don’t have a lot of kinds, but they have a lot of it. One list I found that seemed good for sharing puts Ireland as the number one beer drinking country in the world at 155 liters per person per year. And that’s an average, folks. You have non drinkers or those who don’t really drink much, which means others are well above that average. 155 liters is 41 gallons, 460 pounds of liquid, fits in a tank 36”x18”x16” (found this info on aquarium sizes. I hope it’s accurate!). That’s a lot of beer. According to this list, Germany comes second at 119 liters, Austria is third at 106 liters, and the US is at a measly number eight at 85 liters. Can you believe that the Irish drink almost twice as much beer as Americans? Now that I’ve been living here, I can.
Many people smoke, here. Usually if I am out with a group of 4 or 5 people, chances are that at least one of them smokes. I was curious about these stats, so naturally I looked them up. 36.3% of Austrians smoke, putting them at number one. That’s slightly over one in three. Greece comes in second with 35%. Ireland and the UK are tied for number twelve with 26%. And based on my own experience, this makes sense. The US is way down the list at number twenty-eight with 17.5%. They all eat at Maverick’s in Norco.
I’m reading a book called The Geography of Bliss, which is a journalist’s experiences as he searches for the happiest country in the world. I don’t know exactly how you measure happiness in physical numbers, and neither does he, but his quest to discover how is one of the motivations behind his book. I looked up a happiness list, finding Venezuela at the top with a 55% happiness rate, Nigeria at number two with 45%, Ireland and Iceland at number three with 42%, and the US, Netherlands, and Philippines at number four with 40%. Don’t ask me where these numbers came from or how they were figured out. Though I think this is interesting, nonetheless.
Lastly, at least for now, yet very exciting for me to discover: Tea! The Irish LOVE their tea. They drink Irish tea, which is really just a black tea that’s far more exciting than Lipton. The most popular brands that I’ve seen are Barry’s, Bentley’s, and Punjana. I think they call it a golden blend, which distinguishes it from regular black tea. Always, always, tea is served with milk. It used to always also be served with sugar, but people are becoming more health conscious, so often that is omitted. Some of my friends can’t drink tea without milk. This isn’t including fun flavors, like Earl Grey, Green Tea, and different herbal teas. When the Irish say “tea,” they mean the gold blend with milk. If they want something else, they say so. I found on the trusted web that people in the UK consume the most tea (but of course), at 2.3 kilograms of leaves per person per year. Wowee. The Irish come second at 1.5 kilos, and the US comes thirteenth at a measly 0.2 a year.
Alright, that was fun. Time to cook a turnip and red cabbage, the last two items (besides potatoes) left from last week’s vegetable basket.