Freesteel Blog » The steak was a mistake

The steak was a mistake

Saturday, February 11th, 2012 at 11:30 pm Written by:

Well, that was easy. Two days on the train from Chicago. Unfortunately I had the worst seat in the carriage, opposite the stairs with the exit light bright as daylight that never turned off, sharing the double seat with a large guy and people tripping over my toes at night when I stretched them out into the aisle. It felt like I didn’t grab a wink, and I tended to give up at five in the morning and be first in at breakfast. The coffee seemed to get rid of my headache.

At breakfast the waitress packs everyone in four to a table, which is good because I don’t otherwise talk to strangers. The old bearded guy opposite me took exception to the dollar coins I had in my pocket, telling me they were “junk”. In fact all dollars, even the paper ones, were junk because they were fiat money. We should be using gold, which is the only real non-debasable currency. That’s all very well, I said, but I can’t buy my breakfast with gold, can I? So it isn’t money, is it? The conversation went downhill from then on. You see, abandoning the gold standard, I was told, results in bad things happening like that hyper-inflation in Germany which eventually precipitated World War II — a mere 15 years later. “You seem to know everything,” the guy told me as he stormed off.

I don’t know everything. Just more than you. Which isn’t very much.

Lunch and dinner were by reservation only. On day two my food stocks were running low. The reservations were called for at 3pm. We rolled in through Albequerque at 4pm for an hour long stop where I had expected to stock up. Forget it. If you don’t have a car you simply cannot go shopping in the United States. The plain clothes cop who came on board to rifle through everyone’s stuff and ask where you were going and what you were doing merely added to the irritation.

There were about a dozen amish on the train with funny beards and cloth bonnets. They had been munching through the remains of their McDonald’s on the first day. And their quaint old fashioned clothes had buttons. So much for those lying National Geographics exposes of their lifestyle. They had their own germanic language (in which to chat about farming equipment), but bible studies was in english. Why not Latin?

The train rolled into Union Station an hour ahead of its bogus schedule, so I hung around reading the Railway Users news waiting for the HSMWorks team to arrive. The newspaper had some excellent rants about the place and the plans for high speed rail, but I’ve lost my copy or I would have copied them in.

So now I’ve been dropped into intimidating corporate CADCAM business land in a swanky hotel. I had a shower and then decided I needed my things washed. Expensive meals are one thing, but I really draw the line at a laundry bill that charges $4 for each pair of underpants to be cleaned (ie more than they cost to buy). I looked for a coin-operated laundrette on googlemaps. It was about 2 miles away under the Coronado Bay Bridge. I went down a rather dodgy road on the way there (past people sleeping up against fire hydrants in the dark), and came back along the side of the main highway, which wasn’t much better.

Oh yeah, the lads went to a very fancy steak restaurant (if you need to ask the price you can’t afford it). I had to have a steak at least once while I’m in America, so decided this might as well be it. It did not agree with me at all. You know, one of the odd things about America is the single-ply toilet paper. What’s that all about? Back home two sheets of two-ply folded once over is sufficient, but here you have to make this fist-full of confetti.

We went to the zoo in the morning. The pandas were a dud. However the gorillas put on a really great show, with the big silverback male generally getting pestered by and pissed off with the little one who was momma’s boy so couldn’t be batted around the head like he deserved. The whole crowd was fascinated.


  • 1. Andy replies at 12th February 2012, 9:19 am :

    Keep these going Julian.

  • 2. Dan Falck replies at 12th February 2012, 11:48 pm :

    Hi Julian,

    How long are you going to be on the West Coast? Come visit Oregon for some weather that is similar to England’s. get in touch with me.


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