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Catching up

So, for some reason I fell out of posting much after my trip. Partly the move, partly... I don't know what. Time to sync back up.

The West Coast trip: we last left me in the Bay Area, having one day left. Monday was indeed spent at the California Academy of Science -- a line to get in but not too bad, then another line to get into the rainforest exhibit. That was fun: lots of plants, lots of birds and butterflies, and one you're in you're not rushed through, you can linger on the walkways. The exit is through the remodeled aquarium, starting with walking *under* the rainforest 'river', then exiting into the main multitank area. The aquaria were always one of the nicer attractions of the CAS -- sharks and coral reefs and penguins and all -- though the panoramic swim-around tank is gone. Lots of other CAS stuff is gone too -- the earthquake simulator, the minerals case, the butterflies cases. Two wings are devoted to climate change and evolution, with a higher placard to thingy ratio than I feel is proper. The stuffed African dioramas are still there, with a few live reptiles.

Shinier, and I didn't get to see the spiffy planetarium -- sold out already -- but I'm not sure it all is *better*. Cafeteria was expensive -- $3 for a pork bun -- but possibly good -- it was a *really good* pork bun.

I managed to organize a dinner at Ton Kiang, a rare dim sum for dinner place in the outer Richmond. Or not so rare, there seemed to be another one right next to it. Before that, I walked Golden Gate Park a bit, homesick (SF taking on the role of 'home'); I also met a young couple who were camping across the US or something. The road through (JFK road?) has bike lanes I don't remember, really wide ones too, like 60% of the road. Dinner was good: Dan and Blake and Jacque and Yani and Wei-Hwa and mates.

A friend I'd been out of touch with for years had been out of town for the weekend, but met my "I'm leaving at X" gambit with "I work in Berkeley at 9 tomorrow, I could meet you at 7". A lot earlier than I'm used to but I weighed sleep against old friend for a decade and friendship won, and I'm glad it did, esp. as she's not a great correspondent.

Portland

Then off north, to my host in Beaverton, some suburb to the west of Portland proper, and reminding me a lot of LA though she didn't think so. Wide busy roads, malls, long distances, tres depressing. Nice to see her again though. Wednesday I went to the Portland Zoo, then explored downtown a bit -- train seems to run north of downtown proper, e.g. of the busy skyscraper district. I crossed the river on one of the bridges, came back for dim sum with my host. Thursday I trained straight east, to explore Portland neighborhoods a bit, then doubled back for a really awesome classical Chinese garden in Chinatown (with somewhat less awesome tea shop) and a brief (hour) pilgrimage at Powell's, before meeting heron61 in person for the first time.

The Zoo station was wacky-cool, lots of science-type decorations, including a long core of something, and wall engravings like Pascal's triangle.

Possibly my strongest memory is of Marinepolis Sushiland, a floating sushi (kaiten-zushi, trays on a conveyor belt) chain. Silly-cheap by my standards: the most expensive tray was $3, and you could get tuna or salmon for $1.50-$2.00. In a sit-down restaurant here you'll likely pay $3 just for tamago nigiri (egg.)

Los Angeles

Just as SF let me take BART out of SFO, so I got to take public transit out of LAX, without insane bus rides. Actually, I recall Fanw's sister would take 2.5 hours to bus from Westwood to PCC, so I wonder if the train was any faster -- I took 2.5 hours, free shuttle to Green Line, to Blue Line downtown, to Red Line to Union Station, and finally the Gold Line to my stop, with a longer than guessed walk to my crappy motel. I'd been warned this was slow, vs. Flyaway shuttle straight to Union Station, but I wanted to try the pure transit experience. On the Green and Blue lines I was generally the only Anglo in sight, the others being blacks and Hispanics with a sprinkling of Asian.

The Westway Inn was weird. Claimed visitors not only needed permission but had a $10 charge per visitor. To discourage parties (across from PCC?) or prostitution? Typical crappy motel heater/AC unit, the ones with no hard temperature setting, just "hotter" and "cooler". OTOH, whee, way more spacious than Japan, and maybe even than the Motel 6 I was in here one night last winter, when desperate for a good night's sleep. Two rooms! Fridge!

As for time in LA, well, probably not too much to say in public; I got to see friends. John; John and family; John and family and friends, followed by Sarah and family (movie: "Moon", then remodeled Griffith observatory); new person off RPG.net, followed by another dinner gathering, aerolyndt and monty00 and K and others; finally a ride to LAX with aerolyndt.

I seem to be good at drawing together diverse interesting people in dinners, should do that more often.

Back

Of my housing choices I went with option #1. Laundromat is probably 6-7 minutes away; I'm been cycling clothes through the shower so have put off finding out for sure. Apartment is poorly designed in lots of ways, but the current landlord seems aggressive in fixing what they can. I'm finally off 2nd street! Been lazy about unpacking, though. Close to Bloomingfood's and the farmer's market, annoyingly far (12 minute walk) to Kroger's. I finally got lots of heirloom tomatoes here; not sure if they've gotten more popular or if I was better about getting to the market through August and September. Peach season seemed to end early, peaches were still around for a while but not as good.

Reading

(before trip) Gene Wolfe, book of the New Sun.
(after trip), 1491 (expansion of the article), Globalization and Its Discontents, Making Globalization Work, The Chinese Lake Murders (A Judge Dee fanfic by the translator.)

Links

tooth_and_claw assured me that my link dumps are appreciated, so I'll try to resume those. A couple of months worth will take some filtering and organizing, though, so not tonight.

Food

Someone's birthday dinner brought me to McAllister's tonight, a deli in Eastland Plaza near Border's. I had pastrami on rye with havarti, dark mustard, lettuce tomato onion and roasted red bell peppers. It was really really good -- juicy pastrami? $6.41.

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Damien Sullivan
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