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March 15 - April 2, 1998

I spent a couple of days in Bangkok before heading to San Francisco. In the airport in Bangkok you have to pay an airport departure tax. You can either pay it at a booth, or you can use a machine. But at the machines they have women standing there who take the money from you, and feed it into the machine for you. Sort of defeats the purpose of having a machine.

As the plane was taking off, I noticed that there was a golf course between the runways.

A month earlier, in Hanoi, I'd come back to my room one night, and turned on CNN to discover that a China Airlines Airbus A320 had crashed in Taiwan. Now I was on a China Airlines Airbus A320 bound for Taiwan. As we watched the news on the plane, I wondered if, on the day after the crash, they showed the news of their plane crash on their other planes.

Anyways, we didn't crash. It was a three plus hour flight to Taiwan. Then a nine plus hour flight to San Francisco. I landed in San Francisco ten minutes before I left Bangkok.

At customs they ripped my pack apart. The customs guy apologized all the time, but said he had to, because I'd just spent two days in Bangkok, which is a suspiciously short period of time. He hated his job, and, after 22 years, he only got two weeks of vacation a year.

Eric was at the airport to pick me up, and we headed back to his place in San Jose, with a brief tour of Silicon Valley. I hung out at Eric's for the next week and a half. Spent most of my time in the library, researching markets for my articles.

There was a software job fair in San Jose, so I decided to check it out, just for fun. If I wanted to, I could have gotten a job like that. They're desperate for programmers down there. But I really don't want to live in the States. But I did pick up lots of free stuff.

I had just read Travels in a Strange State, by Josie Dew, a British woman who cycled across the States. In it she keeps mentioning all the horrible murders and rapes and stuff that she hears about while she's traveling in the States. While I was there a woman in the Bay Area tied up her three daughters' hands with duct tape, duct taped their mouths shut, and one by one smothered them against herself, before attempting suicide. Then there were the two kids who opened fire at the school. I really don't want to live in the States.

One night I met Derek and Ron for Thai food. They ate a lot, to make up for there being so few people. Ronny was leaving for England the next morning. We decided to start a magazine. Stay tuned for details.

One night we went out with a bunch of Eric's friends from work, and such. We wended up at this dance club. They played all 70s disco. It was just like being back in Australia, except everyone was much older.

Went and visited Hannah. Got her to play some Hip. It was the first time I'd heard the Hip in a year. We were going to play some tennis, but it started to rain, so we checked out Stanford instead. The place was crawling with weddings.

The next day we visited Murthy. Met his wife and baby. He seemed to think it was a nice place to live, but I'm not convinced.

Finally I headed up to Derek's. I filled the void on the couch left by Ron. Spent the next week and a half hanging out in Oakland/Berkeley/SF.

One night we went to see The Newton Boys. After we met Derek's computer geek from Waterloo friend, Gavin. Gavin brought Gwen and Ann with him. I asked Derek if they were computer geek groupees. Derek said Gavin met Gwen over the internet. Then we met up with Gavin's computer geek from Waterloo friend, Ian, at the Jupiter Bar. Derek decided he didn't want to hang out with computer geeks, so he took Gavin's Coffee Crisp, and we went home.

I went to a bank to cash a traveller's cheque, and they finger printed me. I don't want to live in the States.

On Saturday I hung out with Eric. We went to Chinatown, and Fisherman's Wharf. And we went to some chocolate factory.

Derek's friend Carolyn, from New Orleans, arrived, and we went for crepes at Ti Couz, and then shot some pool at The Elbo Room, where some guy was making up rules.

One day I went to Alcatraz, but I escaped. I don't know what the big deal is. You just get on a boat.

It was cold and rainy. Alcatraz was pretty interesting. Did the audio tour.

Then Derek and Carolyn and I went to see Sandra Bernhard. She was okay.

The final score in Trivial Pursuit was Derek 6, paul 4. In pool the final score was paul 6, Derek 3.

I caught a flight from Oakland to Seattle, and from there got the bus to Vancouver.

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