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10 things in 2 days - The Annals of Young Geoffrey: Hope brings a turtle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Young Geoffrey

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10 things in 2 days [Jul. 31st, 2014|01:08 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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I'm not sure I've ever visited a place whose advance publicity was so accurate. For many years I've dismissed suggestions of visiting Los Angeles with variations on the retort, "Why would I want to visit a hyperthyroid version of Sudbury?" I like urban urban spaces: high density cities, with crowded sidewalks and a core easily explored on foot.

Turns out I was pretty much on the money. Like Sudbury, LA is a sprawling mess of a suburban city, with multiple "cores" connected by crowded freeways like so many ganglions linked by over-extended synapses. The air is visibly filthy and tastes foul and there isn't a pub within walking distance of our hotel at Melrose and Wilton.

All that said, there have been some surprises.

  1. There roads here are narrow! Or rather, the lanes are. We've rented a super-small car and I still feel crowded in my own lanes when not on a freeway. Who'd have thought this auto-centric city would have tighter driving spaces than Ottawa or Montreal?

  2. The Hollywood Hills are really fucking high, and Mulhulland Drive is well-worth making a tour of;

  3. The Hollywood Bowl looks really small and old from up there;

  4. Teeth. I've never seen so many faces with so few teeth. The Brits might be notorious for "bad" teeth, but US television hasn't told me that so many (poor and poorish) Americans have no teeth;

  5. Motorcyclists habitually ride between lanes of traffic on the freeways, scooting along like bike-couriers in Toronto;

  6. In general, the drivers here are really aggressive and make those in Montreal look like effete English dandies (yes, like effete dandies!). I was nearly side-swiped at least three times yesterday alone, with a couple of other close calls;

  7. Walking about makes me feel significantly thinner than I do back home; but

  8. Muscle Beach makes me feel significantly weaker;

  9. For god's sake, pay attention the curbs when you park here, not just the signs. Not noticing that you've parked to a curb painted red can cost you — sigh — $93.00; and

  10. The Oaxacan Mexican restaurant across from our hotel serves food unlike anything I've had before. Tex-Mex it ain't!

Now, off to bring Raven a coffee and start the day.

This entry was originally posted at http://ed-rex.dreamwidth.org/262816.html. Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.

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[User Picture]From: sinnamongirl
2014-07-31 10:58 pm (UTC)
Oh, I meant to say in your last post, about the cheese and the Pardon? That was hilarious. It was so... Canadian. Sort of like when my Welsh friend told me "there's nothing better than a good queue" and it was so British. But I am very glad you guys made it.

The no teeth thing, yeah, you'd be surprised. I had an aunt (deceased now) who had something like 13 teeth left, all rotting, but she was very poor and the low-cost clinic would only pull something like 2-3 teeth a month, for whatever reason, and then she'd be totally toothless until the dentures were approved, which was an indefinite prospect, so she just planned on scraping up the money and going to Mexico and getting it all done at once. I'm actually not sure she ever got it done, now I think about it.

It's also why I recently spent 5 hours sleeping on a sidewalk after work; no dental insurance, no way to pay for even a cleaning (though the dental school apparently only charges $30 for a cleaning, I still didn't have the money), and there were 2 days of free dental care if you were willing to line up and wait. They expected to serve something like 1500 people over those 2 days... it can be really, really hard to find affordable dental care here.

edit: Also, have you tried any of the taco trucks? I'm 99% sure they have those in L.A., but they're rickety little RV trailer type things that generally serve the most delicious tacos in the world, and while others might be suspicious of the cleanliness, I've never had a problem. Though I've never eaten at one in L.A.

Edited at 2014-07-31 11:00 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2014-08-09 03:10 am (UTC)

Teeth but no trucks

We never did try a taco truck, probably unfortunately. LA was definitely the culinary low-point of our trip. But when in San Francisco, we did sample a couple of greasy-but-delicious fried hot-dogs from a cart on our first night and, in Seattle, we enjoyed a couple of ostensibly Japanese-style sausages from a truck that were quite tasty indeed.

As for teeth, at least in Ontario, dental isn't covered by public health insurance. But I suspect the (relatively) low incidence of bad/missing teeth here has to do with the fact that other stuff is covered, so that more people can scrape together the necessary cash to take care of their dentistry. (That I believe dental care should be covered as part of basic medicare probably doesn't need saying, but I'm saying it just for the record.)
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[User Picture]From: sinnamongirl
2014-08-12 10:48 pm (UTC)

Re: Teeth but no trucks

L.A., even though I've only driven through once, is not a place I'd like to go. Except possibly to see the Hollywood sign in person, do the few touristy things, but if L.A. fell into the ocean due to global warming, I'd be okay with it.

The food cart thing is so amazing to me; Portland (did you skip Portland? it's skippable, but they do amazing things with food carts and taco trucks) has food cart pods here and there, so you can choose between 20 different bad-for-you options. So great. Though the one poutine cart insists on making their poutine with a weird rosemary sauce instead of gravy.

Oh, as a Canadian, what's your opinion on poutine? To me the rosemary sauce is gross, I want like... brown gravy. Maybe with some sort of spice, but the thickness of the gravy has a lot to do with the flavor, and a thin little sauce doesn't cut it.

Another question, now it's come up: Is Canadian health insurance a blanket thing, or does it vary from province to province? Like if you moved from Ontario to Winnipeg, would it be a completely different plan/coverage and stuff?

When one does have dental insurance here in the U.S., preventative care is automatically free, so that's something. You get 1 free cleaning and checkup per year, *if* you have the insurance. And for all my libertarian leanings, it drives me nuts that there isn't at least a program for basic preventative care here in the U.S. One visit a year for teeth, one visit a year for health checkup, one visit a year for eyes. How hard is that? We've GOT the money, as a country, it's just spent all wrong.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2014-08-13 01:41 am (UTC)

Re: Teeth but no trucks

I'm glad I experienced (a little bit of) LA, but I have no desire to go back, either. To me it's the utter antithesis of what a city should be. San Francisco, on the other hand ... but I hope to post about my passion for that city soon — maybe even tonight.

We did miss Portland. In fact, our experience of Seattle was limited to its downtown, the farmers' market and port, and the Boeing plant (yep. Took the tour. Nearly missed our flight out because it was so much further from town than we'd figured. And because I forgot to factor in rush hour, I'll cop to that.)

Oh, as a Canadian, what's your opinion on poutine?

Can't stand the stuff. And am sceptical about how "traditional" it is. I don't actually remember hearing about it until the late 1980s or early '90s. (And Wikipedia kinda backs me up. Invented in the '50s, which I suppose makes it about as "authentic" as bluegrass, so I'll stop complaining about that.) But it's not to my taste, I've never been a big fan of fries and I've never liked that brown gravy at all. (Bag of cheese curds, on the other hand, or the sort of thing I could make disappear in minutes, so I never buy 'em.)

Is Canadian health insurance a blanket thing, or does it vary from province to province?

Varies from province to province. If you're from Quebec and travelling, for instance, you might need to supplement your card with some cash, because Quebec pays its doctors less than most or all other provinces. But if you move, you need just a few months residency in the new province to get "signed up" to your new home's system (and the old one keeps working until your eligible). One or two provinces may still even charge some kind of annual fee (a couple of hundred dollars at most, I think.)

But yeah, I think vision and dental should be covered. How are you supposed to find a job if your teeth are rotting out of your head, or keep one if your eyes are going to shit (to crudely make the utilitarian argument in favour).

More to the point, as an anarchist sympathizer, I think that public health care leads to a significant increase in human liberty. As per my LJ friends' list, where at least two or three people have quit their day-jobs to pursue their writing careers simply because of the security of knowing their hospital stay would be covered in an emergency.
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[User Picture]From: dewline
2014-07-31 11:33 pm (UTC)
1. Hollywood TV footage certainly never encouraged such impressions in my mind!

4. One more reminder to keep pushing for dental to be rolled into our medicare regime up here, with no apologies.
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