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When I was going through my bag of non-Chilean coins, I had some trouble identifying the US money, particularly the nickels. When did that happen? They’re all asymmetrical and it looks like old Jefferson took a step back while they were taking his daguerreotype, or like a less-than skilled photographer was aiming for his likeness when the icecream truck went by and he (the photographer) whirled around.

Another troubling money-type thing was the US five-dollar bills. I’m as into pinky purple as the next gal, but it just seems so… counterfeit looking. Which, ironically, is I’m sure what it was designed to avoid. But seriously, the 5-dollar bill? Did people get tired of working with the 20s? Was the payoff too great?

In non-money related news, I noticed the last time I was in the states that whereas previously, public bathroom hand soap squirted out in pink, blue, or occasionally creamy white, it now is dispensed in a bubbly foam. It’s fun to wash with, and even more fun to guess from what part of the dispenser it will fly, but seriously, was liquid soap so passé? Is this like when gel gave way to mousse in the 80s? Does that mean eventually we will mostly stop using soap except for a certain set of people who remain irrevocably trapped in bygone eras and still carry combs in their back pockets?

On this, most recent trip to the United States I went to the movies with my mother, and saw there, in large font, at the bottom of the information screen at the end of a preview, that the movie advertised “DEPICTS TOBACCO CONSUMPTION.” It does not claim to depict tobacco consumption by twelve-year olds, nor by people hooked up to portable oxygen machines, just regular people smoking. Or chewing. Or for all I know, pinching snuff.

I can get behind the pretty money and the squishy soap, but what kind of a world it is that we are living in when you have to warn someone that you might see smoking? Is there some kind second hand smoke on the big screen gets in my eyes movement? I wonder if I am alone in thinking that this is overkill, and I wonder if I stayed here longer what else would seem absolutely bizarre to me. I like freedom of information, I do. But I’m baffled. It’s like suddenly finding out that there’s something big and important and horrible and you’ve been sitting blithely on your couch reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma when you should have been out fighting marauding warthogs in your neighborhood.

Or maybe it’s nothing like that. So… um… when did the fluffy soap start? Anyone?