Archive
Senseless Bits

  • If you have a Platinum AMEX they refund the application fee, so it’s essentially free.
  • The online application requires residence and employers for the last 5 years, countries visited and declaration of any criminal red flags, but not infractions such as speeding tickets.
  • The in-person interview for those in the San Francisco Bay area takes place at SFO. The office is outside of International Arrivals near immigration.
  • You must bring your passport to the airport along with your provisional acceptance (from the online application).
  • The interview consists of questions that confirm the information in the application. Additional questions asked in our case: “How often do you travel outside the US?”, and “Which airports do you generally depart and arrive into the US from?”, which seemed to be for the purpose of telling you where kiosks were located in those airports.
  • The rest was just banter-chat questions. Nothing spooky, no interrogation vibe.
  • They fingerprint and photograph you, but no passport photo in advance is required.
  • They do add a sticker to your passport, but it’s very small. It doesn’t appear to be RFID, and we’re not sure what the purpose of the sticker is, as the kiosk does not interact with the sticker, nor do you show it to anyone in the process. Weird, right?
  • They then give you an instruction leaflet, and take you to a dummy machine to show you how to use it. They train you on the process of entering the country, and give you a few troubleshooting tips.
  • The impression is that if you’ve been provisionally approved online, the visit’s sole purpose is to capture a photograph and fingerprints.
  • It really didn’t feel like an interview. They don’t take you into a little room, the office is a bit like a bank or a rental car desk.

We were told that the entry process is:

  • Go to the kiosk, which is normally near the crew line.
  • Put the ID page of your passport in the slot for scanning.
  • The kiosk then wants to take your photo, and your fingerprints
  • It then asks you the standard customs questions, which has the added bonus that you don’t ever have to fill out the customs declaration manually again!
  • If approved, it prints out a card/sticker that you show/give to the customs officers as you pass through the customs line. Unfortunately you don’t get to skip that line.

One note — this system does not work for travel (land or air) into Canada or Mexico. Apparently there’s an alternate system for these borders, which requires its own fee, etc.

If you get a new passport, or are near expiry, you have to then take your new passport to the airport to update your records and get a new sticker, but you don’t need to make an appt for that.

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Irish food, despite what Anthony Bourdain would like to assert, is bad in all sorts of incredible ways.

Is there a general agreement on whether or not it’s OK to handle your own luggage at a hotel? I pack light and I’m territorial. Get your paws off my things.

It’s quite a novelty to hear your surname called on the PA at the airport with complete assurance that it’s not you they’re looking for.

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If asked, a true Scottish gentleman will not tell you if he’s wearing his kilt in the traditional style. However, he will often quite happily show you.

There were no oranges in the Orangery.

Scotland has a national toffee.

If you’re ever at a ceilidh and someone asks you to dance the Cumberland, politely refuse.

The best man’s speech involved a recollection of misdeeds in Amsterdam. Still not sure which variety.

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Peets was created in 1966 (Bay Area); Starbucks was created by Jerry Baldwin (Seattle, 1971) in the image of Peets. Howard Shultz joined Starbucks in 1982 but left to create Il Giornale in 1985. Starbucks owners bought Peets stores, and sold Starbucks name to Il Giornale.

Thus what today is Starbucks is really Shultz’s rebranded vision Il Giornale; And what is Peets today is really the original vision of Starbucks, which, by the way, was the original vision of Peets.

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So far: partied in La Grange, worked up a good Bourbon drunk, sat for hours with an old friend, met a great pup, dined at Jack Fry’s, beers at Nachbar.

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The setup: A Broadway-style musical about the power of God and how He directs us to do strange and delightful things in our lives. The lyrics in the dream were so crisp, entertaining. I had a sleeping sidethought to look it all up on Google, as if this dream existed elsewhere.

Note: I am an affirmed athiest.

Vignette No. 1
A bookish woman, aged ~30 laments her station in life. Flash, an idea, God inspires her —

No prospects — oh, great!

no lawyers nor surgeons

will wed me this year, or next or this decade

Vignette No. 2
Friendless man is sent back in time via a device that falls from the ceiling, fridge door handle, goes back in time to become friends with Kenneth Branaugh — Eric Bana.

Vignette No. 3
Conservationist becomes an eagle, falls out of a tree, catches mice, slowly morphes and becomes fulfilled.

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Maggie Mason née Berry offered a point of inspiration:

Prompt on page 16 of
No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog.

Three insulting words I’d love to teach you:

1. Spacker
Highly derogatory. Refrain from using in front of UK nationals or those sensitive to the word “retard”.

Cior: Why can’t Sally figure out how to use the sphygmomanometer or the pulse oximeter? The first machine was not broken, nor was the second…

Ciaran: [ Matter of factly ] That’s because Sally is a spacker.

Cior: [ uncontrolable laughter, to the detriment of a fresh abdominal incision ]

2. Goat Rope
As in, “Working with Sumati was like pulling a goat rope.”

3. Bad Actor
As in, “The fit Hilary threw at brunch was surreal, bad acting.”

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From Wikipedia

Lawson married art-collector Charles Saatchi (the nutter who commissioned The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living) in September 2003, and came under some criticism when it was suggested she had started her affair with him before the death of [John] Diamond (her late husband). (In her newspaper articles she consistently showed a liberal attitude to sexual morality, even seeming to come close to admitting to bisexuality.)

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“And under that brilliant mid-spring sky, a woman on Civic Drive complained that a known antagonist ‘is harassing her via astral projection from Illinois.’”

Via the East Bay Express crime blotter.

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San Jose, broiled salmon, orange tan sales guys with mayonnaised hair, senseless schwag, endless laps around the expo floor, snide expressions lofted by competitors, rejected ex-employees hounding for gossip, manufactured enthusiasm for everything.

It was a regrettable day.

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