California dream

This will be a quick one, as I have a latte to drink before it gets cold.  I am in California, meeting my family before heading to Maui for a wedding and then back to California for my college reunion.  So before the events of the next two weeks–
I feel a little fresh off the boat to say the least.  I divided by 0 when the customs official asked me why I was visiting China, and I had to explain that, actually, it was the US that I was visiting.  Money has flummoxed me too:  I can’t really understand how people distinguish bills when they are all the same shape and color.  And this concept of adding tax to prices resulting in inelegant numbers, like $8.61, seemed very odd to me;  in China, prices are in denominations of 1s and 10s, with no fractional and useless change.  When my sister went to pay for a $2.06 coffee with her credit card, nobody batted an eye.
Americans come in all shapes, colors, ages and sizes, but everyone I met has shared that perfect pearly smile.  Why are all these people smiling at me?  What do they want from me? It’s a little unsettling. 
Silicon Valley in particular is bizarre. I am sitting in a cafe at 10 am with a circle of a dozen ladies who lunch in spandex yoga suits and sundry comfortably-dressed intellectuals reading the paper or on the internet.  Get over the fact that the WiFi I am using to connect to Gmail has been provided by Google itself — Big Brother anyone? — but getting lost driving around this part of the country is like wandering aimlessly on the web:  there’s VeriSign, with a lovely fountain over its blue tile corporate logo, and Palm, a megaplex branded with 20 foot orange circle corporate logos, next to BMC Software, down the street from and StartupYou’ or eThis and eThat. 
Appropriately I have been reading Stanford Magazine, which is actually really good (and may indeed inspire me more to donate the alma), which talks about algorithms and mountain climbing and equality and eating habits.  Stanford, and this little famous valley, are driven by curiosity and the sense that any imaginable is possible.
Beijing is like that too, I suppose, but in a different way.  Outside the window of my cafe are a parking lots, seven American flags, and trees in every color of foliage. 
I am not in China anymore.
Eeps, battery dying, and my three pronged plug doesn’t work in this country.  I wonder if buying a converter for my power source will be as hard as converting back to an American myself….