Tuesday, August 29, 2000 10:50 PM
part 1

Here I am in sunny California. The sunlight here isn't as strong as it is in Australia, so my skin doesn't turn to ash and fall off. :-) My skin, which became even paler while I was in Iceland, remains its own light source. If I have a tan when I return to Australia, then some people will think that I wasn't working.

Being in Los Angeles is like being inside television, except that not everyone is beautiful, and there are quite a few homeless people. Actually, I'm in Santa Monica, which, while it is surrounded by Los Angeles, and at one time was part of Los Angeles, is now a separate entity. Residents are adamant on that point.

I thought that it would be difficult to get lost here, since the streets in the immediate area are numbered (2nd, 3rd, 4th... there are a few exceptions, such as 8th street, which is named Lincoln, and 13th street, which is named Euclid), and there are street signs on every corner. However, having studied the map for only the sections that I thought would be of use, when I walked out of that region, I became, as hikers say, geographically misplaced. I need landmarks because street names are generally unhelpful. Eventually, I found my way back again by simply walking in the opposite direction. I also got lost in the office, but so do most new people here, apparently - some of the cubicles contain a *map* of the layout!

I went to the beach on Saturday. The path to the beach leads down a hill. All the way down, I was distracted by the view and kept stumbling, as my brain expected each step to be at the same level as the one before. I should pay more attention to the road, otherwise I'm going to hurt myself, but it's quite a view. There are two paths that extend the length of the beach, before one reaches the sand. One path is reserved for pedestrians and a separate path is reserved for inline skaters and cyclists, with a sign designating which one is which. Naturally, some people obviously can't read, and try (briefly) walking on the cycle path. Such an action is not recommended. Perhaps it is the designers' little joke, but the paths cross at a certain point. For the pedestrians, it's worse than attempting to cross a main road. If a pedestrian were lying stricken on a road, I think that at least some cars would stop... Public places like that always seem to attract the skater who travels at great speed and weaves between the other people on the path. That's not recommended, either.

Near my apartment is a bird conservation area. Currently, it is conserving a large number of pidgeons, several squirrels (which don't even fly, except, perhaps, when thrown with great force), a few ducks... and one rooster. I doubt that that complies with the original specification.

I'm not much of a food person. I eat mostly because I have to. Despite that, I have tried some of the local cuisine: a cheese pizza is exactly that - a pizza base covered with cheese. I guessed as much, but now I know for sure. The problem with a cheese pizza is that the cheese is molten, so the slices can't be picked up because the cheese just pours off. A Gaughin salad is more appearance than substance - beans, cucumber, tomato, onions, tuna, all separated as though they aren't allowed to touch. Perhaps a Van Gogh salad would be a better name. :-) Finally, a tuna melt. It's essentially tuna covered in melted cheese. Unattractive, but it tastes well enough.

Venice beach is like another world. Darren and Laura Jane live in an apartment on the beachfront. I've visited them a couple of times already and sat and watched the people outside walking past. Red, yellow, pink, white, black, blue, green. And that's just the skin. As for the the hair colours... just about everything imaginable will pass eventually. It's said that if you sit in a café in Paris, eventually the entire world will pass by. At Venice beach, it seems to happen at least twice per hour.

Darren, Wason, and I, went to a bar to play air hockey. Darren and Wason insist that the game is easier after one has consumed a certain amount of alcohol - more than a little, less than a lot. They were vague about the exact amount. We discussed it until we had narrowed the quantity to more than none, and less than too much. In any case, they drank and I didn't, and they won, and I didn't, so there might be something valid in their theory. If there is, then next time they'll have to stay sober to make it fair.

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