(This page created 3 October 1996.)

Wanderjahr: Week 3

Locations: Long Beach; San Bernardino; Los Angeles; Manhattan Beach; Santa Monica
Dates: 9/1/96 - 9/7/96

Sunday morning KaeSa and I met Chris B for brunch. Late, we attended a cool African cultural fair, prompting a lot of thoughts about race and culture but no conclusions.

Then it was back to Irvine to see Diana and David Eppstein. Nice to see them again, but was very tired and eventually decided to head back to San Bernardino that night.

Observation about LA: there are far fewer bumper stickers here than there are in the Bay Area, and those that do exist are mostly supporting radio stations or sports teams. I'm used to seeing a lot of political bumper stickers and a fair number of cute-slogan ones... On the other hand, LA has far more vanity plates (license plates with words or phrases on them, not customized license plate holders).

It was kinda fun to be loose in unfamiliar territory with nothing but an LA area map (from AAA) and directions from friends to guide me. Gave me a certain feeling of independence. I know, I know, most adults are used to this, but I've only owned a car for two years now, and I've never used it much. I never did get used to the idea that I could just get in the car and drive somewhere I'd never been on the spur of the moment. While planning this trip, I several times considered going by bus or train instead of driving, but I'm glad I decided against those plans; controlling my own transportation gives me far more freedom and far less worry about schedules, even though it means I spend far more time having to concentrate on driving. (If I were travelling by train, I could spend much of my time reading or writing, or even appreciating scenery. On the other hand, in practice I know from experience that I would spend most of my time conversing with fellow passengers, whether I wanted to or not.)

Anyway. Did little besides gaming for the next couple of days in San Bernardino, plus a little research on Voudoun for the game I was going to GM. Also finally talked with Rob; my plan had been to visit him in Albuquerque briefly in mid-September en route to Boston, then go back and stay with him for a month or more in early '97, when it'd be too cold to be on the east coast. As it turned out, Rob had just accepted a job in Japan, and would be moving there in November. So I decided to spend a month in Albuquerque in the Fall, and arrive in Boston later than previously planned.

On Friday, I drove into downtown LA to meet Joaquin and two Sanwa friends of his for lunch. I spent the afternoon at the way cool LA main library, a few blocks from Sanwa; I read a lot about Santeria and Voudoun, and gaped in admiration at their enormous collection of kid books. They have more Joan Aiken books in that one building than I've ever seen anywhere before, including several I'd never heard of. Very impressive.

Managed to get to Manhattan Beach before rush hour got too bad; went bicycling that evening with Joaquin and his housemate Jill on the walkway that runs along the beach. Yet another in a long series of cool sunsets -- though I never did see any of the truly spectacular ones that Los Angelans kept telling me about. I think that's mostly 'cause I usually saw sunset, if at all, from near the beach, where there's very little smog to bring out the rich colors.

On Saturday, I headed back into LA proper to see Clive and (later) his sweetie Tiffany. Was running late, so I skipped breakfast; got lost on the way to Clive's, so we didn't manage to get to the Santa Monica promenade until about 1 pm. We went to a little brewpub there for lunch; 45 minutes after we'd ordered, the waitress came back out and asked, "What did you two order again?" She turned out to have a fairly good idea of what we'd ordered, leading me to suspect it was the cook who'd lost the order, but it was still frustrating, and I was ravenous. I decided my bad-service demon had finally caught up to me... (I have a long history of getting really atrocious service at restaurants -- servers forgetting my order or getting it entirely wrong, moldy food, uncooked food, being charged for bottles of wine that we didn't order, you name it. Sarah calls it a Job Complex; I call it a bad-service demon. Or maybe I was a bad waiter in a past life.)

Talked with Clive and Tiffany for a couple hours after lunch, saw a promo tape for Clive's way-cool thesis project (a bicoastal play, with the actors being linked via telecommunications lines and rear-projection screens), and headed off to see Samuel.

And got lost on the way for the second time that day, doing much to remove my new-found feeling of independence and capability. Sigh. Went out to Indian fast-food with Samuel, his sweetie Brenda, and half a dozen of their friends. Didn't get nearly enough of a chance to discuss topics of shared interest with Samuel -- we've half-jokingly talked in the past about setting up a VR world-design company -- but had a fairly pleasant time nonetheless. Eventually drove back to San Bernardino. The next morning, I had cause to regret the Indian food... Oops.


Movies, Books, etc.

The Shining
Pretty good, & Jack is awfully scary. Would've been scarier if I hadn't known about a few of the surprises ahead of time.
To Die For
Disappointing.

Jed Hartman <logos@kith.org>