*waves to the Nacho Libre watchers that were lurking in the street and waving at us afterwards*
In backlash to International Talk Like A Pirate Day yesterday, today has been officially (by people I know) tagged as International Be Silent Like A Ninja Day. I'm going to prattle on as usual, but you have to read it silently, mmk?
Today I find myself down to the last lot of photos. The ones that didn't fit any of the categories I've been posting. So without further ado, I bring you:
So before The Mighty America and Burning Man, I actually spent some time in Brisbane, hanging out with pombagira, diogenes_stone, tigerweave and windsongk (who generously allowed us to stay in her home). Polly was delivering a paper at a conference at Brisbane University, you see, and we were plants in the audience. Turns out she didn't need us, since her talk was well-received anyway, but we had fun hanging out there. BU is a beautiful sandstone edifice, that makes one want to be all serious and staid:
I liked Brisbane. I don't think I'd like to live there, since in August it was 24 degrees during the day which implies too much heat altogether for the summer. But it was a nice town to hang out in. The people were very friendly and open. The shopping was a bit ho-hum, since Brisbane appears to be a town built to service the agriculture industry and thus is geared with chain stores, franchises and 'in-and-out' food outlets. The botanical gardens were beautiful, and I liked the colours of the city.
Polly and I had a picnic:
Which involved finding cold stuff and liquid and sitting in the only shady spot we could find. Who says you need parks and stuff? It's the attitude that makes a picnic.
Things happened in Brisbane. Intense things. Things I don't really understand. I lost a friend, and I'm still a bit bemused about why. However, growth = change, and I can live with that. I doubt if I'll be going back to Brisbane.
In Taipei, of which I only saw what was out the airport window -
- I discovered how China Airlines manages to make their tickets so cheap. This lady was giving directions to the transit counter:
Can I just say that China Airlines was a very enjoyable and efficient service to fly with. The food was good, the staff were very helpful and friendly, and the English translations of the Chinese instructions over the PA were entertaining. Also, it was an interesting experience to be in the minority, since most of my fellow passengers were Chinese speakers, and I got to spend 24 hours sharing a tiny space with people that I essentially could not communicate with. I have since learned the knack of sleeping on planes, by the way. So yeah, if you get a chance, try them.
And then there was Berkeley. Some people might recognise these places:
dragonvyxn took me on a dog-lover's tour of San Francisco, in which I saw the Mission SPCA (which has quarters better than most dogs here get even if they have a home), where I got to witness a behavioural assessment of a stray dog. We went to Point Isobel, a large off-leash area on the coast. We went to a smaller dog park in Concord (at least I think that's where we were) and watched a behavioural modification session with a small Yorkie that was afraid of basically everything. From there we went to the home of the trainer and mingled with four gigantic clowns of various pedigrees. I know most people would go "YAWN" but for me it was a huge buzz to see how things are done elsewhere. I also met dragynsidhe on this visit *waves*.
Miki took me to a French cafe, where we sat under a beautiful lemon tree
And perved at a beautiful barista (because, you know, scenery is relative)
I think he was a little spooked by this multicoloured woman with an accent desiring to take his picture, but he was also very obliging and made good coffee.
Miki took me up the hill above her place to show me the city at night:
And here's the view from Steve and Olivia's (nice people who gave me a lift to BM) roof:
And then there was theheretic who has the coolest T-shirt:
I really enjoyed my visit with him and desu, although it was all too short. I was very impressed with their local knowledge as they drove me around Pleasanton, and very VERY impressed with the guy in Oshkosh overalls leaning on a fence smoking a pipe, that I'm sure they arranged to be there just for my visit. ;-) Also, cornbread? Awesome stuff. Straight out of the oven, with honey - ambrosia. Mmmm, cornbread..
There was also much flora and fauna to be observed:
At Harbin (where I wasn't supposed to take photos but I'm pretty sure they meant only of the naked people). We also saw at Harbin - a bat, a snake, a coyote, jackrabbits, a large hawk that we hoped would turn out to be an eagle, some lizards, a tunnelweb spider hole, and what I think was a whippoorwill. beagl has a knack for attracting wildlife, but unfortunately his superpower failed on the raccoons, who turned up their noses at our offering of cat food and stayed invisible.
I lke the colours. It reminds me of the desert in the Central Plateau, where on first glance everything appears to be just brown, but on closer inspection there are many subtle and beautiful colours making up the whole picture.
Then there was Burning Man, where people engage in strange activities:
And the scenery is beautiful despite the harshness.
I said in my first post that I thought the waffle burn was the biggest fire I'd ever seen. When I got to Southern California, it was really dry. Really really dry:
(I think there are sheep in that photo somewhere but I couldn't see them) Also, there are feedlots. Imagine acres and acres of pens of cattle, standing around because there's nothing else for them to do while they wait for the next dose of automatic feed and antibiotics. And the smell! It's only grain-fed cow poop and dust mixed with water, but somehow it smells like death.
As we passed Pyramid Lake on the way into LA, we saw a fire. Fires are common at this time of year around there, and the chapparal is evolved to burn regularly, but this was a biggie:
It burned for the four days I was in LA, and destroyed 4200 hectares of land. There were helicopters with monsoon buckets, but they looked like little insignificant dots against the wall of smoke that was rising from the fire, and I can't see what effect they might have had.
I also saw this, which I found ironic:
In LA, there's a large Mexican population. One of the things I noticed was the way jeans were displayed in shops:
This makes sense to me. I mean, most people want to know what jeans look like from behind, right? And the mannequins themselves actually have a butt, unlike the ones in shops here. Nice.
And here are a couple of buildings:
Incongruous? Hell yes.
And this is just cool.
So there you have it. Tonight, I'll put everything in a gallery on my site (yes, with full-sized photos Jez), and post a link for anyone who's interested.
Your normal programming will resume shortly. I would just like to say, though, that I still feel very much as if I have one foot in each world at the moment, not fully in either, and I don't know where I really want to be. My welcome back home has been overwhelmingly positive, I have never felt so appreciated or so accepted. But I'm different. It's not going away.