I’m slowly making the adjustment, getting my mind out off the space of the British village of Barrington (left) and into the Pacific Northwest village of Woodinville (right).
Okay, maybe not so much of a stretch.
Apart from the scenery (and the language), though, there are real changes that I always notice throughout the daily pace and balance of life. Drivers are more aggressive in the US, although it might be just that the vehicles are so much bigger. The price of gas is well below the magic $4/gal (0.75 euro per liter) threshold where Americans change their driving habits, so I suppose it’s no surprise that there are still so many Ram Chargers and Suburbans on the road.
I’ve made the rounds of the shopping and the medical services, provisioning the closet, kitchen, and medicine cabinet back home. There’s just nothing back in the Netherlands to compare to a Costco: vast selection / low bulk pricing. The suitcase is stuffed; It’s funny what I end up missing.
People’s hot questions this trip concern the effect of Greek financial troubles on the euro. Will they default, how low will the euro go, are there lessons for the US. It was a bit surprising, i thought the questions would be about the UK elections (zero local interest in that) or the summer vacation season (less than zero interest).
I’m not sure why it’s bubbled up so high. The news shows blame the recent gyrations in the stock market on uncertainty about the euro. Conservative talk show hosts proclaim it a cautionary example of where Obama is taking the country (‘Are they unionists or socialists?’), Business interests are eying the prospects for improving exports (bad: a weak euro makes US goods more expensive, and Europeans don’t have savings or wages to buy luxury goods).
This trip was to be with my daughter for her foot surgery, a variation on my procedure last summer. She had it done at Children’s Hospital, a wonderful facility north of the city which does wonderful work on the wide spectrum of pediatric illnesses and inherited disorders. A much more maternal facility than the hard-charging adult centers I frequent, it is delightfully furnished and thoroughly equipped using local philanthropy from the Gates Foundation and others. (Insert reflections on public / private health care systems here: I’m still sorting my feelings)
The surgery was done yesterday morning, and she came through fine. She popped out high-fiving the nurse that she hadn’t died: the delightful side of operative narcotics. She was thoroughly sick for the next twelve hours, though. The drugs giveth; the drugs taketh.