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small orange square Snapshots of the day:

  • Breakfast in the small restaurant inside the historic San Carlos train station. I exit as a CalTrain arrives, but too late: I touch its doors, but they've already closed - instead of them opening for me it's already pulling out.
  • Five minutes' observation of mass in Chinese, standing in the rear of the St. Peter & Paul's Catholic Church, just off Columbus on Washington Square. Always thought this was Grace Cathedral... later, the actual position of that church is realized as atop Nob Hill, noticed when driving out of the City.
  • Oppressive bad vibes at Pier 39 and along adjacent Fisherman's Wharf: endless souvenir shops all with too-loud radios blaring commercials and smug announcer voices. Along the street, homeless beggars every few feet with their cups, cans and signs, and across the way an amplified Peruvian pan-pipe band.
  • Observed the loading of the Mason & Powell line cable cars at the Taylor St. terminus - five are available, queued up with crews, but only one is used; the tourist-passengers are therefore made to wait and packed in like sardines.
  • Pulled over under a shady tree, headachey and fatigued, on a deserted dry Californian parkland road, seat reclined, windows opened, listening to Leo Kotke perform on "A Prairie Home Companion." Just before falling asleep, jolted to sudden wakefulness by the buzzing of a wasp, inside.
  • Coffee at the Los Altos "Peets" where I recognize (in the vicinity) some of its regulars, in particular one of their weird children, who accosts me with a "magic wand" surmounted by an aluminum-foil star. I ignore him.
  • Driving all over on nebulous shopping errands, at strip malls and inside the tacky Sunnyvale mall, but nothing was purchased. Bright sun, hot sticky atmosphere, resisted with the air conditioning inside my vehicle. Listening to last night's tape of "This American Life": a program about two brothers and a female friend from North Carolina who rode their horses across North America, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
  • Riding home from "Oregano's Wood-Fired Pizza" <1> I crossed paths with another cyclist, who had a very bright helmet-mounted headlamp which made him look like something from "The 5000 Fingers Of Dr. T".

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small cyan square From The Practical Nomad by Edward Hasbrouck:

Given the lengths some people from other countries will go to acquire a US passport, it may be surprising that fewer than 10% of US citizens have a passport, the smallest percentage of any First World country.

US passports are the most valuable and widely used travel documents in the world, getting you into more countries, more easily, than any other. If you hold a US passport, you are one of the world's travel elite. Consider yourself privileged, and take advantage of the opportunities it gives you.

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<1>I had the Chicken Pesto with Sun-dried Tomatoes - adequate, only slightly gooey, crust was almost good. I'd go back.