Kerry and I spent the last week visiting relatives in South Carolina, New Jersey, and Connecticut. I've spent most of my adult life in California and the contrast with the states back east gets more vivid with each passing year. For starters, they have water so there's no need to take a five-minute shower; lingering is permitted. And, of course, with all of that water comes humidity. Kerry likes it; I don't. Not much one can do about it except move 3,000 miles, or thereabouts, to the west. They have Civil War monuments; we have at most Civil War reenactments (a practice I've always found slightly odd). They are surrounded by physical reminders of a deep American history. The American slice of our traditions tends to be of more recent vintage. They have hills; we have mountains. They seem to have more songbirds than we do. Finally, and this may be a regional conceit, I think our food is better. Napa is fairly well known for its culinary obsession. While Kerry and I are admittedly rank amateurs, the obsession of the pros does tend to influence our food choices. The fact is that our decision to stay in California all of these years is an obvious reflection of our own preferences. I'd like to think those preferences have not evolved into parochial snobbery, but it's hard to judge. Suffice it say that for the time being we're satisfied with living here and visiting there.