Today i broke out of the college bubble and took a trip down to the mall. I intended to visit the Apple retail store to pick up a copy of Mac OS X version 10.1, and in general wanted to spend some time off campus. So i got some readings for class printed out, scrounged up some bus fare, and headed on south to Bloomington.

Upon arrival in the mall, i was confronted with a huge billboard that said, "Minnesota salutes your bravery and courage!" which people were signing and which was to be sent to New York. Next to the billboard, in the rotunda in the middle of East Broadway, was a Volunteers of America choir in the middle of singing America the Beautiful. Towards the end, the conductor directed the audience to join in, and upon completion of the song, the onlookers on the first floor and peering over the railings above erupted into a great round of applause and cheering. I walked on to the Apple store. There were flags everywhere. The Stars and Stripes hung from each support column on either side of the hallway, spaced a mere, say, 7 meters apart. Huge flags adorned the display windows of Victoria's Secret and The GAP and the White Bean Candle Company. Kiosks sold flag paraphernalia and "Osama Bin Laden: America's Most Wanted" t-shirts. Stores were taking donations for the Red Cross; red, white, and blue were everywhere. This country has exploded into a frenzy of patriotism while i wasn't looking, trapped in my tv-free ivory tower.

I arrived at the Apple retail store, but they were sold out of the OS X 10.1 upgrade. I poked around anyways, investigated this improved OS that i was planning on throwing away a whole $20 on. I played with it on a dual-800MHz G4 machine, and was blown away. Even on a more timid iMac, much closer in speed to what i have now, it was impressive. I was really sad that they were out. I continued to wander the mall, and walked along nearly all 4.3 miles of storefront in that monstrosity. I ate at Taco Bell.

I visited a flag shop. They had an impressive collection of flags, but were sold out of all but the crappiest, tiny, polyester U.S. flags, and were mysteriously out of those of Afghanistan. I wonder if they were sold or removed from the shelf... I asked if they had any two-sided Oregon state flags, but they only had the state seal, without a beaver on the back. That was sad. The woman at the register started talking to me, asked if i was from Oregon, asked if i was white or mixed. I asked her where she was from; Somalia. I bought flags for Austria, the EU, and the Basque country, as well as a couple postcards. That woman told the man who was ringing me up to give me 10% off, because i was a "good guy".

I wandered for a while longer, then took the bus home.