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Los Angeles California

 

We had booked accommodation in every location, except Houston, which we changed en-route, before leaving Sydney and in every case the hotels had been well chosen. 

So when we got to 'Beautiful Hollywood Apartments' in Los Angeles at ten o'clock in the evening, after a long day, driving, walking and flying, we expected to find a nice room waiting for us. 

Instead we found a series of non-descript residential apartment buildings in an area where every second building seemed to be rundown or for sale. After walking from one to another Wendy discovered that the least attractive looking one, with steel cage doors across its entrance was the address on our booking form. 

Very fortunately we'd decided at the last minute that if we were to do many of the things we'd planned we'd need a car in LA.  So I'd booked one while leaving Las Vegas.  We'd originally planned to catch a train to a nearby station, the reason for choosing this place, and walk up the hill to a 'beautiful apartment'.  

So at least our bags were in the car and not on the street.  But there was nowhere to park, except in driveways that were in occasional use.  Eventually someone came out of the cage and Wendy was able to go in.  "Yes," there was such an apartment.  But no one had seen its owner for months.  Certainly not today. 

Wendy can be quite assertive in such situations. Craig and Sonia still retell a famous incident in South America:  "I'll call the police!" "No I'll call the police,"   The young man at Agoda got the treatment.  New accommodation was found, complete with free car parking, close to Hollywood and Vine. 

In the meantime we needed to leave the other place.  Someone was entering the driveway. Traffic was mounting behind her car. A remotely activated gate prevented me moving forward. To get out of the way I needed to get our car onto the footpath and then back onto the road.  A car stopped to let me get out but another driver, angry at the extended delay decided to overtake.  It was the nearest thing to a serious crash I've experienced in some time.  Fortunately he was as quick on the brake as on the accelerator.  He screeched to a stop about four inches from my door.  A bit of adrenaline there for both of us.  I was tired and hungry and it was all starting to feel like a bad dream.

To top it off, the new place was one of those low rise motels you see in movies, where you park your car facing your door.  I was not impressed.  The reception office was inside an armoured glass box with a two way speaker and one of those draws to pass a credit card one way and get the key and TV remote the other. Not encouraging.  Haven't they seen 'No Country for Old Men?  We had a single flimsy door between us and 'crime central'.

To reinforce this impression there was a strange pair sitting in a disreputable looking car out there.  They hadn't moved.  What were they up to?  Should I mention them to Wendy?

I carried the bags in and put them well away from the door.  I looked around.  The chairs were too small to put under the handle. The chain would have to suffice.

Relief.  The odd couple and their car had gone.  We went out for a walk to get food and look around. I became less concerned. There were certainly quite a few odd people about but this is LA and most seemed to be well down the road, homeless and so relatively harmless.  The room was large with a table and chairs.  Maybe the food helped.

In the morning things seemed better.

The bed was large and comfortable. The shower was good; even the towels weren't too bad; and there was no trouble getting and extra one for Wendy's hair.  Free parking for guests, in a town with little unpaid parking, meant we could come-and-go easily and walking to the nearby station was an option.  I found a very nice restaurant within walking distance for our last night in America and I could even get Jeopardy! on TV. 

I drove Wendy to where she wanted to go, on the other side of the city, and while she made her penultimate grandmotherly foray I went off to the Tar Pits, as annoyingly, the adjacent Los Angeles County Museum of Art was closed until tomorrow. 

 


Santa Monica Los Angeles - Click on this picture to see more LA

 

And the next day one of my favourite galleries, LACMA was open so Wendy in turn investigated the ancient sticky demise of unfortunate mega-fauna in the tar ponds next door while I revisited some old familiar works of art.

 


Los Angeles County Museum of Art - Click on this picture to see more

 

Later we drove down to Santa Monica. 

LA was OK.

 

Then it was time for the marathon flight back to OZ. And even that was relatively pleasant because although we had no upgrade we had exit row seats and it was Qantas - much nicer than American Airlines.  Unusually I was able to sleep. 

 

 


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Travel

More Silk Road Adventures - The Caucasus

 

 

 

Having, in several trips, followed the Silk Road from Xian and Urumqi in China across Tajikistan and Uzbekistan our next visit had to be to the Caucuses.  So in May 2019 we purchased an organised tour to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia from ExPat Explore.  If this is all that interests you you might want to skip straight to Azerbaijan. Click here...

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The Meaning of Death

 

 

 

 

 

 

'I was recently restored to life after being dead for several hours' 

The truth of this statement depends on the changing and surprisingly imprecise meaning of the word: 'dead'. 

Until the middle of last century a medical person may well have declared me dead.  I was definitely dead by the rules of the day.  I lacked most of the essential 'vital signs' of a living person and the technology that sustained me in their absence was not yet perfected. 

I was no longer breathing; I had no heartbeat; I was limp and unconscious; and I failed to respond to stimuli, like being cut open (as in a post mortem examination) and having my heart sliced into.  Until the middle of the 20th century the next course would have been to call an undertaker; say some comforting words then dispose of my corpse: perhaps at sea if I was travelling (that might be nice); or it in a box in the ground; or by feeding my low-ash coffin into a furnace then collect the dust to deposit or scatter somewhere.

But today we set little store by a pulse or breathing as arbiters of life.  No more listening for a heartbeat or holding a feather to the nose. Now we need to know about the state of the brain and central nervous system.  According to the BMA: '{death} is generally taken to mean the irreversible loss of capacity for consciousness combined with the irreversible loss of capacity to breathe'.  In other words, returning from death depends on the potential of our brain and central nervous system to recover from whatever trauma or disease assails us.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Bertrand Russell

 

 

 

Bertrand Russell (Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970)) has been a major influence on my life.  I asked for and was given a copy of his collected Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell for my 21st birthday and although I never agreed entirely with every one of his opinions I have always respected them.

In 1950 Russell won the Nobel Prize in literature but remained a controversial figure.  He was responsible for the Russell–Einstein Manifesto in 1955. The signatories included Albert Einstein, just before his death, and ten other eminent intellectuals and scientists. They warned of the dangers of nuclear weapons and called on governments to find alternative ways of resolving conflict.   Russell went on to become the first president of the campaign for nuclear disarmament (CND) and subsequently organised opposition to the Vietnam War. He could be seen in 50's news-reels at the head of CND demonstrations with his long divorced second wife Dora, for which he was jailed again at the age of 89.  

In 1958 Gerald Holtom, created a logo for the movement by stylising, superimposing and circling the semaphore letters ND.

Some four years earlier I'd gained my semaphore badge in the Cubs, so like many children of my vintage, I already knew that:  = N(uclear)   = D(isarmament)

The logo soon became ubiquitous, graphitied onto walls and pavements, and widely used as a peace symbol in the 60s and 70s, particularly in hippie communes and crudely painted on VW camper-vans.

 

 (otherwise known as the phallic Mercedes).

 

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