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Pleased as Punch at the Passport Agency

As much as I try to be an organized and semi-responsible adult, I always manage to leave everything to the last minute, which is why I found myself being patted down the other day by security at the San Francisco passport agency. This was a visit I’d been dreading, delegating it to the ranks of the DMV and cleaning the litterbox. And with this attitude I let myself get “wanded” by a guy with a handlebar mustache and took a number (23, to be exact) to wait with the hurried masses to renew my passport on the fast track.

Two to Tango

My memories of cultural dance performances are not fond ones. Taking the stage to a thunderous “A-LOHHH-HA” and demonstrating the hula to hundreds of tourists at the Polynesian Cultural Center was not my idea of a good time when I was 10. Then there was that time at the Greek Easter festival when an elderly man pulled me into a humongous dance circle to solicit a good laugh at my expense. But I digress…

More recently, I met my mother for an indulgent week of eating and shopping in Buenos Aires. I was keen to distinguish us from the tourists who had no doubt shelled out lots of cash to see one of the famous tango shows (you know, the ones with live horses on stage?). Being cheap – I prefer “frugal” – I mused that only tourists go to those shows. Travelers like us sit in bars until 4 a.m., drinking Malbec and smoking cigarettes, even if we’re ardently anti-smoking at home.

Taxicab Confessions: I Have No Idea Where This Place Is!

A cab ride is like a snowflake: No two are ever exactly alike, and if certain conditions aren’t met, it can lead to total meltdown. I’ve been in smelly cabs, music-blaring cabs, heat-cranked-high on a summer’s day cabs and burn-rubber cabs. Perhaps most disquieting for me was the cabbie in San Francisco who, after gliding through a stop sign at the top of Nob Hill, answered his ringing cell phone with a cryptic “yes, they’re kicking in, and, man, is this some good s*’&t.”

FlowRider, Take it Easy: The New Cruise Ship Surf Park

Don’t wear your lowriders on the FlowRider®! That’s the best advice I can give you after checking out the surf pool on board Royal Caribbean International’s newest cruise ship, Freedom of the Seas. This summer, I had the opportunity to scrape the surface of this floating skyscraper – its ice skating rink and boxing ring, the mini-golf and rock-climbing wall, its 22 bars and, yes, the fabled FlowRider, which became titillating in ways I don’t think the designers intended.