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One of the perks of my job is a free bus and train pass for the Metro service in St. Louis. I find myself making good use of this during my lunch hour to take trips downtown into the heart of St. Louis City.

It's a lot more fun eating my apple and yogurt lunch while wandering through the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park – which lies on the Mississippi riverfront and includes the Arch – than sitting in the windowless lab break room.

Especially on a warm day like last Thursday with a clear blue sky and the sun shining down. St. Louis may not have the grandest set of skyscrapers found in the United States, but it's a lot less shabby than it could be, and the Old Courthouse is an attractive link to the past set against the shiny glass backdrop.

The flags flying at half mast in memory of the Kirkwood dead brought a note of sadness into the view, alas, but overall it was a very affirming hour's interlude.