This post deviates from the general theme of 3D printing and software curiosities. It is ‘ancient’ history from an old travel blog I was writing while traveling around Australia.

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Phoar, so I just got diverted from our little trip around the country to the tune of 38,000 km. Yup, I had a quick adventure to the big bad US of A. The company that I work for literally flew me halfway round the world to Atlanta, GA, for an OpenGL bootcamp at the Big Nerd Ranch. Which, for the hard core software developers, was well worth the 30+ hours cramped into an aluminium tube and the crazy jet lag induced midnight sun. It was five days jammed full of real-time graphicsy goodness; we covered tons of content including some stuff I have always wanted to learn (vertex and fragment shaders), as well as stuff I never knew I wanted to learn (streaming vertex buffers and masking). Not to mention all the things I picked from the other attendees venturing in from all kinds of companies including Boeing, 20th Century Fox, Nikon, Google and a whole stack of cool independent ‘I program what I damn please’ programmers.

Anyhow, all of my preconceptions about travelling to the USA could pretty much have been summed up by Quentin Tarantino’s film, Pulp Fiction and in principle I had to agree with the reverse of the sentiment of one his characters, Vince:

Vincent: You know what the funniest thing about America* is?

Jules: What?

Vincent: It’s the little differences. I mean they got the same shit there that they got here, but it’s just – it’s just there it’s a little different

Jules: Examples?

Alright, well they have factory outlets – so I visited the ‘World of Coke’ which was a bit weird for a couple of reasons: The first being the metal detectors at the front door, and the big sign informing “No weapons”. Huh? They need a sign for that? Awww, but how am I supposed to open a Coke if I can’t blast the top off with my 9mm?

The second is being blasted by corporate branding and messaging the whole time, yes alright, I get it! Universal quality and universal availability. Damn it, now I’m thirsty. Though it did make me wonder: now that Coke owns SPC, maybe the factory outlet in Shepparton will be changing some time soon? Maybe someone dressed in a giant can will wander around exclaiming how good baked beans are for the heart? But you can bet your socks that nothing will be mentioned about farts.

Oh and without a doubt the best oddity would have been the ‘Walk for a Diabetes Cure’ being held in the shadow of the World of Coke building. Here, outside thousands of people are being handed icy cold cans of Coke as they pound the pavements for a cure of diabetes. And inside, people are informed to ‘drink as much free Coke as possible’. It kind of struck me as a bit of a ‘Russian space agency uses a pencil, while NASA develops a pressurised pen’ kinda moment.

Yet Pulp Fiction didn’t exactly paint an entirely accurate picture of the USA (yeah, I’m just as shocked as well). Nobody swears! ALL the people I met in the USA were extremely friendly, polite and nice. Except for maybe the drug dealer walking down the street yelling ‘crank’ at the top of his voice – that was a little weird; I think I had wandered into a dicey part of town (which is easy to do; take a left – expensive looking cafes and boutique buildings, take a right - $2 shops and boarded up windows), but I sure wasn’t slowing down to stop and find out if the gentlemen yelling ‘crank’ simply needed some help starting his Model T.

* Vincent actually refers to Europe in the film.