With expedited passport in hand, it took stopping through checkpoints at SFO, Charles de Gaulle, Malpensa, Palermo and Amsterdam airports, back to San Francisco, onto Los Angeles before a keen Phoenix TSA official noticed I hadn’t signed mine two months earlier. I’m gonna leave this passport unsigned until someone forces me to sign it before arriving or departing their jurisdiction. The thing that annoys me isn’t so much this slip-up on my part, now turned study, it’s what little attention those pay who are hired to guard global borders. Of course my name isn’t Salman Abedi or anything close to it, however, I find slipshod border control quite alarming given terrorist bombings, slayings and current trending massacres using vehicles.
After spending seven consecutive weeks in a country where women still shake out rugs over their balconies, alongside men demolishing concrete and stone buildings by sledge hammer, I know culture shock will hit perhaps harder than jet lag; which form it comes always startles me.
Bitcoin’s ferocious rival, Ethereum, was our recent post-European trips hot topic during this last Bay Area engagement. No one speaking about Ethereum could explain them thoroughly; although what’s absolutely certain is Ethereum’s market cap: 20 billion dollars following Google’s quasi-endorsement. Ethereum’s stock rose 2700% this year; my patron who purchased Ethereum shares mentioned his only regret was not buying a large enough position.
Food can be a way cultures clash, language also, fashion too, and in some respects, climate. Sicily doesn’t suffer third world poverty; most Sicilians get by better than many living in Vietnam and Mexico. Staggering wealth, alongside how one achieves financial independence, specifically stemming from Silicon Valley, versus those counting down the years before cashing Italian monthly pensions seems disproportionate. Obviously that woman beating the dusty rug didn’t attend Harvard nor did her sweaty laborer husband. In spite of this worn couple tirelessly toiling, they’ll never buy status donating 100 million dollars to any hospital; in return see that medical center renamed with theirs emblazoned across its facade.
We didn’t necessarily need to travel 6,500 miles to realize upon return what a scale-tipping boom San Francisco continues holding. We could’ve driven 90 miles east to Modesto, come back, heard the Ethereum chatter, quickly logged into our Ameritrade account, snatching as many shares possible, comprehending cryptocurrency is a concept no one I spoke with could actually clarify. When I asked my brilliant patron, a founding member of an elite social media site-cum-venture capitalist, if he believed Ethereum’s stock could reach the 1,200 dollar range, he nonchalantly replied, “yes,” not “no” or “I don’t know.”
Psychedelic engineers inspired by Burning Man’s playa are under the assumption driverless cars are our future. Yet if I reported this opinion to the tirelessly toiling couple in Sicily, they would both laugh and tell me I’m pazzia. My business absorbs a 2.75 to 3.5% loss using Square, however, the ease of receiving our patron’s payment is worth Square’s processing fees. Few patrons use cash these days, less write checks. Half-joking, I inquired whether my wildly successful patron would mind compensating his Jehrcut with a few shares of Ethereum; he grinned — before leaving said, “See you next time,” shortly thereafter completed our transaction online with Jeanette.