Tuesday, September 26, 2000 2:53 PM
part 2

I was here for a month before I was told that it had rained. I blinked and I missed it. What I did see was a light mist that made the air slightly damp, but which didn't reach the ground before evaporating. I would get wetter than that by spitting into a strong wind. Then some people complained that it was a cold day. Cold, in that sense, means that I perspire slightly less while I'm walking around outside.

Venice beach continues to amuse me, and I visit it often. I saw a sign that said "Female drummer". Just in case it wasn't obvious from her appearance, I suppose, or if the crowd were so thick (literally, not figuratively, speaking) that one had only sound and no sight of her.

The bus is another place for unusual sightings. I catch the bus every day to work. Owing to the traffic on the roads, the bus takes just as long as for me to walk there, but I arrive in air-conditioned comfort, and I have to walk only about three kilometres, instead of ten. My favourite commuter is the teenager whose hair is styled to resemble a jester's cap. All he needs to complete the image is to colour his hair yellow and red and attach some bells. He certainly enjoys the attention that he receives.

Other sightings from Venice beach include someone wearing a t-shirt with the caption "Who is John Galt?" on the front, and "Atlas Shrugged" on the back. Even given the title, there would be many people who would not know that the answer is contained in a book. It's not even a great book. A t-shirt is an unusual medium to broadcast the wearer's membership of an "elite" group. Literary exclusionism. Yay.

A different kind of exclusionism is the Palos Verdes estates. Three of us went to lunch at JP's home, which is at the top of a hill on the Palos Verdes peninsula. The view is magnificent, and even vacant blocks of land have an asking price that ends with six zeroes. Before lunch, we rode bicycles around some of the streets nearby. One person's front garden contained live peacocks. It's said that planting the right kind of plants will attract certain types of birds. That garden must contain the rare ferraro plant, but I didn't see it, despite the fact that the flowers seem to be always coloured red. In the suburbs where the rest of us live, the common fjord or holdon plant might attract the occasional squirrel.

I'm sure that it is because I cut a fine figure on a bicycle, but I was attracting a number of looks while we were riding around. Or perhaps it was the fact that I was wearing jeans and big black boots, while the others were wearing shorts and sneakers. Then again, perhaps it was the fact that the others were obviously suffering from the heat and exertion, while I had barely raised a sweat. They should walk more. It has benefits. :-) I was Cool McCool. Danger is my business. They don't make cartoons like that anymore.

The apartment in which I am staying is part of a block which is like a hotel without the room service. It's called "corporate housing", and apart from checking in on arrival, and checking out on departure, it's like living at home. When I arrived, there was the seemingly usual comedy of errors. I'm sure that I attract things like this. It certainly makes for fun reading afterwards.

This routine began when I was told that there was no room at the inn. This kind of problem has existed for more than two thousand years. :-) Okay, so the original story is almost certainly a myth, but I will overlook that. Fortunately, though, the situation has improved since then, and I was placed in a hotel that is located conveniently across the road. I was even told that this happens a lot. Apparently, that particular establishment is routinely oversubscribed, and the neighbouring hotel is always the backup. I'm sure that the respective owners are pleased with the arrangement.

When I returned the next day, I spoke to someone else, who then assured me that there was no record of my reservation. Note for future reference: where possible, always speak to the same person. Eventually it was found and I checked in. Some days later, I found that my letterbox key didn't work (I don't expect too much mail). The following day, they replaced the key, which also didn't work. The day after that, they replaced the entire lock. That seemed to me to be a somewhat drastic solution, but it worked. As crises go, that's the worst of them so far. It could be worse.

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