As promised, I have indeed returned, from 10 days in lovely Ireland. I believe I'm the first tourist to have sucessfully managed to get a sunburn while visiting the country. In a lame effort to remain on-topic, I'll offer up a couple of observations: The U.S. government takes a beating overseas, especially in Europe, but from what I saw, puts on a very good public face. The customs and immigration officials we encountered were particularly efficient and helpful. TSA's workers make the best of a very difficult situation brought on by the policies they're required to enforce. (Thank you, Richard Reid, for making every single airline passenger remove his or her shoes before going through the metal detector). Think about this next time you travel: Who do you have more difficulty with: The federal officials manning the various checkpoints, or the private-sector employees of the airlines?