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small green square More el Niño rains today. Woke up without sore throat but lots of congestion - no sneezy cold feelings, so maybe it's just the weather.

small yellow square Wrote a long email to G. Been composing it for a day or two. Attempted to explain the difficulties he could encounter, as he plans to leave not only his wife D but his home & job in Virginia at the end of this week for a month-long & possibly permanent solo cross-country driving tour to Utah, to ski. He is a recovering alcoholic who knows nobody there, and has never lived alone, or outside the Beltway. Now that I've mentioned it I'm sure you'd like to read the whole thing, but it contains chunks of his previous emails and I think that would be rude. Here's a segment, however:
I don't mean to belittle your dream of living an austere life elsewhere. But... it seems to me, the smart way to do it would be to fly out, reconnoiter the living situation, maybe even get a job lead, then upon return cleanly wrap up your life Back East before driving out for good. But my impression is you're blinded by that zero-G thrill of the slopes, a month of skiing is all you'll accomplish and you're avoiding thinking about how messy you'll be making life for yourself, just a little later. I mean, what about cash? Is this trip going to be financed by a stream of Visa bills addressed to Virginia? Is that wise, or honorable?

small red square Listening to Terry Gross' "Fresh Air" - heard bits of various experts' discussions of Presidents on this, their Day - the Lincoln guy described circumstances around the Gettysburg Address & read it - rather moving. Another said the Jefferson was the 'dead white male' who still matters.

small white square I suppose I should describe the Tung Kee Noodle and why I'm there so often. I like it because it's fast. cheap & tasty. It's a NoCal South Bay restaurant chain that was started by a very industrious Vietnamese immigrant (Tan Lu) in 1983. ("Tung Kee" was the already-there name of the first restaurant he bought.) Like many places of this ethnic persuasion the waiters' chores are a little different than normal, making it more of a fast-food operation: each table has a plainly-marked number on its edge, and when you leave you go up to the cash register & state your number, whereupon your check's retrieved and you pay & split (tips optional, on table or into the urn at the checkout). Tung Kee's owner states that he'll never raise his prices, hence they're fixed at their 1983 amounts. I always get either the Rice Stick Soup or the Rice Stick Wonton Soup; this gets me out the door for either a little under or a little over $3, for a big bowl (and I get the small) filled to the brim with a densely-stocked broth containing two shrimp, two beef balls, some thinly-sliced beef & thickly sliced chicken, a bit of a leafy condiments (scallions and I think cilantro), some sprouts and the "rice stick" which seems to be a kind of flat rice noodles <1>. Plus several won-tons if I get the deluxe. There's a rapid turnover, lots of bustle, and it's single-friendly. Plus afterwards the Mountain View branch is handily located on Castro Street with several bookstores nearby. There's seven or eight branches around town now; I've heard them characterized as the McDonald's of Vietnamese food. When I first arrived last year there seemed to be an effort afoot to rename them "TK Noodle", but now the business cards show the old name with only three branches, and others in the chain are now labeled "New Tung Kee". Mitosis: like an amoeba the operation most have split.

small blue square Dinner: a quick chopped beef sandwich at Armadillo Willy's, an acceptable barbecue chain here with a branch nearby. Sat at the deserted bar & was confronted with the choice "Spicy or Mild?" and I chose spicy, which was a little too hot - I'll probably regret it on the way out - choose Mild next time.

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<1>I quizzed an Asian co-worker on this and he stared blankly. "Why rice stick?" I wanted to know. "What stick?" He couldn't explain, it just is. I've seen the bundles of this rice pasta in the big Chinese supermarket I frequent for my weekend Dim Sum, Ranch 99 - the labels say "Rice Stick". Where's the stick? Back