What Hand Signals Should I Avoid When Traveling Abroad?

When you’re trotting the globe, it’s important to know when to keep your hands to yourself.

Thumbs up

In parts of Latin America, West Africa, Iran, and Sardinia, a thumbs-up doesn’t mean “Hey! Good job!” It’s more akin to flipping someone the bird. A friendly thumbs-up has landed lots of unwitting travelers on the wrong end of angry glares.

The OK sign

In many countries, the okay sign is anything but okay. In the Middle East, it’s a threat. In Turkey and Germany, it’s basically means, “You’re a jerk!” In Brazil, it’s just like giving someone the finger.

The peace sign

If your palm faces outward, the V-sign can symbolize peace. But in the UK, if you make the mistake of turning your palm inward, it means quite the opposite – a ruder version of “Take a hike!” If you’re ever in a pub and want to order a pair of drinks, don’t flash the bartender two fingers. You might accidentally order yourself a knuckle sandwich.

An open hand

Extending your arm and exposing your palm may seem like a cordial way to wave hello, but in Greece, it’s a not-so-cordial sign of disrespect. Centuries ago, the Byzantine Empire shamed criminals by painting their faces with black cinder, ash, dirt, and dung. Today, an extended open hand basically means you want to spread that concoction on your foe’s face.

Sign of the horns

Horns are great if you want to tell someone to rock on, but find an alternative if you’re in the Caucuses, Italy, Greece, or Spain. Over there, devil horns mean, “Your loved one is a cheater!” That’s because during the middle ages, men with cheating wives were shamed by donning horns.

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Roadside Bear Statue in Wales is So Lifelike That Safety Officials Want It Removed
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Wooden bear statue.

There are no real bears in the British Isles for residents to worry about, but a statue of one in the small Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells has become a cause of concern. As The Telegraph reports, the statue is so convincing that it's scaring drivers, causing at least one motorist to crash her car. Now road safety officials are demanding it be removed.

The 10-foot wooden statue has been a fixture on the roadside for at least 15 years. It made headlines in May of 2018 when a woman driving her car saw the landmark and took it to be the real thing. She was so startled that she veered off the road and into a street sign.

After the incident, she complained about the bear to highways officials who agreed that it poses a safety threat and should be removed. But the small town isn't giving in to the Welsh government's demands so quickly.

The bear statue was originally erected on the site of a now-defunct wool mill. Even though the mill has since closed, locals still see the statue as an important landmark. Llanwrtyd Wells councilor Peter James called it an "iconic gateway of the town," according to The Telegraph.

Another town resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Telegraph that the woman who crashed her car had been a tourist from Canada where bears are common. Bear were hunted to extinction in Britain about 1000 years ago, so local drivers have no reason to look out for the real animals on the side of the road.

The statue remains in its old spot, but Welsh government officials plan to remove it themselves if the town doesn't cooperate. For now, temporary traffic lights have been set up around the site of the accident to prevent any similar incidents.

[h/t The Telegraph]

The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.

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