Moscow is having a very, very mild winter. No snow anywhere and my window is open right now.
Natives and other Russian-speakers with the right skills are getting paid much more than they would in similar corporate jobs in the US or Europe; one person today told me it was three times as much.
Just before I got here I had lunch with a woman who emigrated from Russia twenty years ago. Her first piece of advice was "don't get married." I haven't been out of the office much, but I don't feel much at risk.
In fact something about this city makes me feel perpetually under-dressed.
The amount of renovations and new construction is staggering. I haven't seen any part of the city whose looks reflect the fact that Russia is still, in some ways, a developing country.
The fact that Russia has 26 billionaires and is the most expensive city in the world probably helps.
And oh yeah, my tri-band US cellphone works here! Email made the long line at passport control a little less demoralizing.
For frequent flyers - turn yourself into a perk-maximizing robot. Guides and tips and deals and stuff. e.g., spending your employer's money? Here's the best rewards card. It's always better if it's freeee.
Taking the train through southern California is a strange, foreign luxury, like having a sommelier pour your drinks at a football game. Most of the trip has been through densely populated areas, so the driver's been leaning on the horn (or the conductor's been hanging on it, or whatever) most of the way. The train tracks don't skirt the cities - it's a constant level of sprawl and we're just cutting through it. Mostly, though, it's the novelty of public transportation that makes an impression - you've given up some of your God-given auto-driving freedoms to sit on this train, and in exchange you get to sit and relax for a bit.