December 16, 2008

palintology290.jpgWhen I was in DC last month, or was it the month before? (time slips away) we were all being distracted by a bleeding Wall St, falling dollars and the presidential race – and in particular DC was distracted by the Alaskan phenomenon. At the time no one seemed to quite know what to make of her but this clever cartoonist of the Washington Post caught the feeling nicely – along with a terrific pun/play on words to boot. Made me laugh out loud, which does not usually happen when I am reading the newspaper.

Taxi Story – The Ethiopian

October 9, 2008

cab.jpg(Starting to slip into a US drawl) “Howya doing? Hope Street please.” (this was in Washington DC).


“Do you know where that is?”


“Are you able to take me there?” (it is considered a tough part of town)

“Mmmmmm.” Read more

Departing DC

October 2, 2008

craig290.jpgDeparting Washington on a clear fall day with a low rising sun and blue sky. The sun at that angle highlights the deciduous woodlands and between them and the placid Potomac, with early morning rowing teams sliding into their day, I am reminded of what a beautiful part of the country this is. Read more

This is so, like…like!

September 28, 2008

union-station290.jpgOverheard (not of this guy) at Washington Union Station… “Hi, yeah, it was so like, well… like you know, like… you know. Uh huh, uh huh, No like, I was so, like worried, like, ….I don’t know why I was like, but I was like, really, you know… uh huh, uh huh, No, like he was like smiling at me like! Yeah, like… like!”    Snap, hang up. What on earth was that? Read more

Capital on the Capitol

September 25, 2008

capitol290.jpgThe squirrels jump around in the lawn of the late afternoon and are (hopefully) oblivious to the fact that they are nut hunting and burying in the shade of the building which best symbolises the power of America, perhaps even more so than the White House. That is only the working office of the President. This is the seat of Congress. Where the course of America and all who sail in her is charted. Read more

Food by Weight

September 22, 2008

foodbyweight290.jpgThis country still has the capacity to surprise me. Mainly with the little things – launching an air-strike against someone in the middle of the night on the other side of the globe, or firing off yet another shuttle from Florida are so passe. But this morning, sitting behind the Capitol in a hole in the wall cafe for the first time ever, I paid for meal by its weight! Read more

When in Rome Do What the Romans Do

September 21, 2008

b_29_290.jpgIn DC that translates, in my book at any rate, into going to “the Mall” – and not to a shopping centre but to the strip of beaten up turf around which Washington seems to turn. Read more

You Have a Foggy Bottom

September 20, 2008

foggy-bottom290.jpgAny town that can straight faced call a Metro stop (and suburb) Foggy Bottom has to have something going for it. That the train line stop is underneath the George Washington University Hospital suggests someone in the planning department might have had a sense of humour as well. Indeed, this town has a lot going for it and my wandering out for a coffee last night and a quick downing of the books for a quick sneak into the Smithsonian Air and Space museum reminds me again how attractive and appealing this town is. Read more

Docile in Los Angeles

September 18, 2008

We have become docile travelers, tamed and very compliant.  Watch us be herded around the appallingly designed Terminal 4 of LAX by TSA teamsters trained (by Heathrow strumpets I imagine) in the cattle yards of Texas and who consequently have little discernible notion of what service looks or sounds like. Service is not their mission. Their mission is to keep the long tangled queues moving. And they are very long and very tangled. I look with some wistful nostalgia at the now unused escalators up which we used to bound arriving from overseas and heading off to our US domestic connections without a bag screening device in sight. Now the lines (I have Christened them the “Mohammad Atta Lines” for that is his enduring legacy in this country after all) snake out onto the sidewalk as passengers wait their turn to have their shampoo checked and shoes examined. As I joined the Mohamed Atta conga line this morning I was keeping a surreptitious eye on my watch as the countdown to my domestic connection started as QF107 arrived at the terminal at LAX. Fortunately, in the end I walked from the careless embrace of the TSA teamsters straight into an aircraft mostly boarded and getting ready to leave. But see what has happened? No hustle or bustle. No remonstrating at the counter. No rush from cab rank or connecting terminal to make a closing gate. We have learned to add hours to the check in process, how to pack our pockets to clear X-rays quickly, to don socks on the day of travel with no holes in them. We shuffle along, herded in murmuring acceptance of all the impositions made in the name of security. We even tolerate the bored attempts at humour by the TSA staff (“Ladies and gentlemen, if you do not have a boarding pass you do not exist” OK, two LA cops thought it was funny. They were the exception). 13 hours over the Pacific in cattle class does not predispose me to their jokes – even if they were trained to handle us in the cattle yards of Texas.