I'm sitting in the Hong Kong airport on my way back to Saigon. Just took a shower after a combined 17 hours of flying, not counting the layover time in Chicago. I feel like a new man! Only 2.5 more flying hours to go.
Last week I visited my mom and sister in Vermont and my dad in Naples, Florida. Each time I go back, I'm always struck by things that have become more noticeable after living abroad for a while. One was that now there are flat panel TV screens everywhere. Another is the how young people are completely digitized now. I landed in Boston instead of Burlington on my way in due to a late flight from Hong Kong. So I stayed with my uncle in Boston on Friday night and took a bus to Burlington on Saturday. The bus was filled with college students and 20-somethings, all texting or iphone-ing the whole 5 hour trip. I think of myself as pretty digital, but sometimes wonder if I'm losing touch with tech trends as I near 40. For example, I feel a little stronger about privacy than they do. Things change.
Another big takeaway was how wealthy America is and how wasteful our culture is. I especially got this impression in Naples. Nearly everyone drives big, spotless, late-model cars. The stores are huge and packed full of every good imaginable at super low prices. I visited a Super Target in Florida and was blown away even though I had visited these stores before when I lived in the US. I wanted a battery-powered electric toothbrush and the models were all new, with two vibrating doohickies to clean your teeth better instead of the one I remember. It made me think about capitalism and consumerism, always pushing ahead with the next new thing to render your old -- but good enough -- thing obsolete so you'll buy the new one. I stopped by McDonald's (always a favorite) and was a little surprised by how much waste my meal generated.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm an unabashed and unreconstructed capitalist. It's the best system so far for creating wealth and lifting people out of poverty. It's just that, at times, it seems excessive. Oops, I gotta get on my flight soon. Will have to gather my thoughts and revisit this topic again.