Dr Plokta (drplokta) wrote,
Dr Plokta
drplokta

California

I'm in California at present. I came over to run the bid desk for London in 2014 at Loscon in Los Angeles last weekend, and am now driving up the coast to San Jose for Smofcon, starting tomorrow.

Sold ten Pre-supports and eight Friends at Loscon, which isn't bad. I didn't get to see much of the convention, due to sitting on the bid desk from 10am to 6pm, and then being too jet-lagged to stay awake after dinner.

Monday, I drove up to Santa Barbara, better known to me as Santa Teresa from Sue Grafton's "Alphabet Murders" series of mystery novels. It's quite a pleasant town, and rather more attractive than most American towns. And it's mild and sunny, which makes a nice change from London in late November, especially this year.

US101 is really in a shocking state, with crumbling tarmac and bridges. US infrastructure in general seems to be in a bad way -- the airports feel like third world countries (LAX is not so bad, but SFO and Honolulu were both pretty bad on our last trip).

In Santa Barbara, I went to the beach (lots of pelicans) and the botanic gardens (lots of lizards), and also to the Apple store. My iPad developed a curious fault on the plane over. When held horizontally with the button to the right, there was an invisible line about 20% of the way across the screen from left to right that you couldn't drag anything across. Where it intersected the virtual keyboard, it also caused the "e" key to repeat itself, and the "d" key to add an "s" as well. The Genius at the Genius Bar agreed that it needed replacing under warranty, but they were out of stock. So I booked another appointment in San Luis Obispo for this morning, where they did have one, and I now have a shiny new iPad.

After San Luis Obispo, I stopped off at Hearst Castle, as featured in the works of Kage Baker, and did the guided tour. It reminds me of Portmeirion, if Clough Williams-Ellis had had about a hundred times as much money to work with. It has the same kind of Mediterranean feel, and the same use of purloined bits of architecture here and there. Photos to follow, but I don't have a card reader for the laptop.

Then up the Pacific Coast Highway through Big Sur, which is very twisty, especially for an American road. Stopped again to look at elephant seals, who have just arrived for their winter breeding season. The roadsign had a pair of binoculars on it, to indicate wildlife views, so I took my handy monocular with me, but I didn't really need it. The wild seals on the beach are no further away from the viewing area than they are in the average zoo.

Somewhere between Hearst Castle and Big Sur, I passed from southern California into Northern California, and it got cloudy and cooler. Still, it was nice to get a couple of days of sunshine.

Took me a bit longer than I expected to get to Monterey, so I will have to visit the aquarium here tomorrow morning rather than this afternoon. After that, I'm off to San Jose for Smofcon, and then home on Sunday evening, arriving Monday afternoon. And back to work on Tuesday.
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