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In July and August 2023 Wendy and I travelled to the United States again after a six-year gap. Back in 2007 we visited the east coast and west coast and in 2017 we visited 'the middle bits', travelling down from Chicago via Memphis to New Orleans then west across Texas, New Mexico, Nevada and California on our way home.

So, this time we went north from Los Angeles to Seattle, Washington, and then into Canada. From Vancouver we travelled by car, over the Rockies, then flew east to Toronto where we hired a car to travel to Ottawa and Montreal. Our next flight was all the way down to Miami, Florida, then to Fort Lauderdale, where we joined a western Caribbean cruise.  At the end of the cruise, we flew all the way back up to Boston.

Seems crazy but that was the most economical option.  From Boston we hired another car to drive, down the coast, to New York. After New York we flew to Salt Lake City then on to Los Angeles, before returning to OZ.

As usual, save for a couple of hotels and the cars, Wendy did all the booking.

Leaving Sydney

Breakfast in the Qantas lounge on our way to Seattle
Wendy likes to use two devices at once

 Our first stop was Los Angeles but it was just a stopover on the way to Seattle.

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Travel

Southern England

 

 

 

In mid July 2016 Wendy and I took flight again to Europe.  Those who follow these travel diaries will note that part of out trip last year was cut when Wendy's mum took ill.  In particular we missed out on a planned trip to Romania and eastern Germany.  This time our British sojourn would be interrupted for a few days by a side-trip to Copenhagen and Roskilde in Denmark.

Read more: Southern England

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.

Read more: The Meaning of Death

Opinions and Philosophy

The demise of books and newspapers

 

 

Most commentators expect that traditional print media will be replaced in the very near future by electronic devices similar to the Kindle, pads and phones.  Some believe, as a consequence, that the very utility of traditional books and media will change irrevocably as our ability to appreciate them changes.  At least one of them is profoundly unsettled by this prospect; that he argues is already under way. 

Read more: The demise of books and newspapers

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