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November 20, 2000
about doctors, cucumbers, shopping with politics and housewives.
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My week started reasonably well, as I finally got a medical report from El Camino Medical Group, which I need for INS (immigration). They say there that I have got no leprosy, TBC, AIDS etc. One worry less.

With the help of Martina I got through to see a gynecologist (for all you speculator out there -- no, I'm not pregnant). This is an area where Sid cannot be really useful, proportionally to his experience in the field. Making a visit to such facility always ranked with me way below seeing a dentist, tax collector, or executive director's office, but after this Wednesday, all changed. From now on, I shall gladly return among nice, friendly nurses, lab technicians, and doctors (all female). Well, I should still go to see a dentist, but I REALLY don't feel like it now. Give me time.

On Tuesday I went back to the climbing gym, we got our own ropes with Alfy and it went quite well. Alfy seems a little behind me in skills on the wall (we're just about equal when bouldering), but not much. There are plenty of pretty routes at Planet Granite (Santa Clara), more technical rather than requiring power or endurance, and they urge you to think.

Martina also brought me pickles. I don't like regular American pickles much, but we have a German butcher here who carries good pickles. Martina bought me a bottle, so that I know next time what to buy. My biggest problem here is to find things that match my tastes. It usually means roaming the stores, reading everything there is to read on every box, contents, producer, directions for use, as familiar European brand names don't work here. Any help (trailing Sid or Martina at shopping) spares me much label cracking next time. Well, I put the pickles in our fridge. Sid came home, checked it out and said, "wow, you bought these good pickles", and I admitted, "no, Martina brought us those", and he said, "Well don't you like them???" -- see, those pickles sat in the fridge for all three hours and the bottle WAS NOT open. I think that my claim that I EAT pickles and that I INTEND TO EAT them, made him quite disappointed. But I was able to save a few pickles into a salad and for sauce tartar, and I even think there are still one or two at the bottom of that bottle, right now.

However, for a potato salad I needed mustard. I took Cecilia and drove to Piazza's. Trouble. I found a rack with spices and vinegar, but no mustard. Countless Thai and Chinese concoctions, but no bloody mustard. Another desperate soul seemed being adrift there, who was looking for chilli, and could not find it. So I asked her whether she thought they carried mustard there and where they could have placed it (I sometimes wrestle with a fact that alien logic is applied here, when arranging product racks. Shavers cannot be found next to shaving lotions (!!!), other cosmetics or cleaning supplies, but with TV sets and computers.). The aforementioned woman rejoiced and pulled me to a rack with mustard and ketchup (next to vegetables!) and she even recommended one to me to buy. I thanked politely and aimed to leave, but I was not going to get away this easily. What was I thinking about the political situation, she asked, and kept going. I began to babble something neutral and looked for ways out of there. This woman was, actually, the type of slightly bored, trying-to-be-attractive American housewife, who, out of lack of other duties, "devotes" herself to public enlightenment (preferably amongst poor immigrant women, who must be awfully "primitive", as their original countries lack both in politics and choice of hamburgers).

Just so you know, this is not a crusade against housewives. I truly can't get enough of my mandatory vacation here, but I don't intend to get bored, and I have not been. People aggravate me, who have everything one can have, but they "can't find happiness", for they imagine that it is something that others (government, their spouses, their children) ought to PROVIDE, and since they are not PROVIDED, the poor wretches are so frustrated and suffer loss of PURPOSE, that they eventually compensate these feelings by some kind of missionary peddling.

Fortunately for me this dame was not as much interested in my opinions, as she felt the need to step on an imaginary soap box and voice her own ideas. On how this Bush is as bad, as he is rich (she herself did not look like a person of feeble means), and how she does not feel safe in this country (we would routinely leave our car windows rolled down, with our laptop and a GPS spread over the seats; before I leave our apartment in the morning, I open the balcony door and keep it open -- we live on the ground floor -- just to change the air properly), and how one voter was not allowed to cast a ballot and what a scandal it was (as far as I remember, that dufus was not allowed because he had no means to prove his identity). Sigh. No, I did not start an argument with her, but I stayed upset all the way home. I think that it works here quite the opposite way to our old home. People outside big cities lean right, for they must work and they want to work and they don't intend to finance no-gooders. You will find more lounge communists here in the metropolitan areas, who would whine how desolate the poor people really are, but they themselves each own a house with an appropriate number of cars in their garage, and live off stock market revenues. They just sometimes cannot figure out who would the person be, to go first swinging on a lamp post, if their beloved underbelly of the working class got to power. So I say to myself, a law which allows you to shoot anybody who trespasses onto your property and won't leave when thrown out, is not a bad idea at all, and if we Czechs had something like that in the '48, we could have spared ourselves those forty years of "dictatorship of the people".

Otherwise, there's not that much going on, locals rumble that this is a crazy cold winter (we had white frost twice already!!!), but I still enjoy it. Days are getting short, but they're sunny and warm (I wear trousers and a t-shirt). On Saturday we went to the ocean and there were few who were sunbathing... since I arrived, I had seen the local ocean only once before and weather was nasty then, so we liked it this time, of course. Sid took pictures enthusiastically, only none of us realized that it was me who had the camera last, and it was when I TOOK out the film from Yosemite... well... "one" did somehow forget to insert a new film. My darling managed to vent it quietly, there was no domestic violence scene :-). Instead, we went again to Mezza Luna for dinner, and it seems that salmons are much better behaved than halibuts (it got dark meanwhile, so there was not much to see from the window).

I spent most of my time in front of my computer, checking out Paint Shop, we finally made pages on Mono Lake and Yosemite, and Sid made me an applet for HTML colors. A happy family. .

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