So sad that Amsterdam will most likely endure the same fate as most human endeavors that are liberal, compassionate and deeply civilized: it will be reclaimed by the cold, encroaching waters of the sea. It may take a hundred, even a thousand years, though, so maybe before it is lost its peaceful culture of consensus and tolerance will somehow influence the rest of the world. Maybe. But, it is a cynical age we’re living in, and it seems that brutality and greed rule the day.

Brutality and greed, I’m sure, are the specials this morning at Cracker Barrel, where my colleagues and I are having breakfast. I had no say in the choice of restaurants, but, like a good traveler, I am being tolerant of this strange culture I am visiting. Hopefully, the menu will feature some kind of all-you-can-eat challenge–“rupture your stomach lining with our massive Triple Meat Mexican omelet and win a year’s supply of Fruit Roll-ups!”–, ’cause this morning I’m feeling as if I can take on all comers. Refill my soda, lady, and bring me another pork danish.

The blueberry pancakes were tolerable actually, unlike the manufactured down-home charm hanging off every fixture and filling every available wall space: quilted aprons; iron skillets;Uncle Bledsoe’s handmade spittoons. And of course the American flag was available in a multitude of forms, for the extra superpatriotic folks who love to fly them colors. Which don’t run, by the way, or so I am told.

I did happen upon the audio book collection there, and found some pretty decent titles, even decent AND unabridged titles. The deal there is you buy the audio book outright–about $20-30–but when you return it, you get your money back minus $3 for every week you kept it. Not a bad deal, if you find something you like. The only problem for me is returning them–the nearest CB is in Mechanicsville.

I rented a Lemony Snicket book, and a collection of Phillip Dick short stories. They do make my daily drive a bit more tolerable. I began looking for audio books on the Internet and found an unabridged Moby Dick download. Its running time was 21 hours.

I am going for a run in the pissy drizzle to try and burn off this sudden afternoon rage that has developed inside of me. The urge to kick and scream is almost overwhelming. I hope I make it through OK.