More blather about the San Franciso trip:
The security procedure at Munich was more thorough than expected, with three security checks to pass through, with everyone having their shoes, bags, and jackets scanned slowly. The staff were aggressive, rude, and dismissive. Transatlantic flights still have the no liquids rule (very small amounts allowed in transparent bags), but other carry-on such as laptops is allowed.
Surprisingly, the officials on the U.S. side were much more pleasant, though arrivals must have their fingerprints scanned and a picture taken with a webcam. There were posters promising to treat people with respect. It might be a californian thing, because it wasn’t this good when I travelled to New York in 2000.
At San Francisco airport on the way back, most people just had the regular amount of scanning, but I was one of every N people who had special attention, going through the “puffer” machine, which blows airs at you so it can detect explosives residue. I’m sceptical that this can ever be anything other than undersensitive or oversensitive (various Irish people have been wrongly convicted for IRA attacks over the years based on false positives caused by playing cards, soap, etc), and doubt that it’s ever tested in action, but was pleased when the light went green.
They were nice about it though. I even had a friendly conversation with the guy who searched my bag and found a Toni Morrison book. He was telling me about some marriage problems she’d had recently, but after some confused googling I’ve concluded he was mixing her up with Terry McMillan (both American black female authors with male first names, and surnames beginning with M, I suppose). Until I figured that out, I liked the idea of the security guard appreciating literature.