A Touch of Alyricism

Dedicated to the equally fascinating topics of autistic advocacy and the 'sisterly sophistries' of radical gender feminism. Other topics may occasionally crop up. Contactable at alyric@gmail.com


Polemicist since Grade 8

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

California Dreaming

In the light of writing those compositions we were, universally, I think, afflicted with in elementary school – “What I did on my holidays”.

In this case, while changing hemispheres, we took advantage of the route and had a little look at California, which is a remarkable state with lots of features, among which:

San Francisco: a metropolis of sophistication and it’s really beautiful as well. We were there on July 4 and it was delightful to see all the hampers and deck chairs traveling to some scenic spot to make the most of the day. It was also surprisingly cool.

Autism Diva: On the way to the Sierra Nevada we dropped in to see the Diva. In case you don’t know – she’s really pretty! And while that’s important for some she’s really bright too! I can’t say we solved the problems in the universe in a couple of hours and I don’t think we really tried but it was a nice chat and I would have liked to be there longer except for one little thing__

Central California – home to orange trees – lots of them and temperatures of around 45o Centigrade. Not too surprising that the hottest place on earth, Death Valley, isn’t too far away. I don’t like the heat that much - and I grew up with temperatures like this. It’s no fit place for humans in Summer.

Sierra Nevada – or Grand Sequoia National Park: Totally awesome. The majesty of the trees and the setting takes some beating.

Los Angeles: - Had to go there – have a family of movie buffs etc. It’s composed of equal parts tacky, California beautiful and run down. Burbank is all business. We met that typical US social indicator there – poor service. And they do it really well – appear to be really helpful just short of actually doing anything. It’s a quiet rebellion I think and the capitalists should take note – pay peanuts – get monkeys.

Big Sur: advertised as the most beautiful coastline in the world, and for once the advertising is right on the money. I should add that the driver on this expedition did a remarkable job of handling a yank tank and the processions of palaces on wheels.

Silicon Valley: Continuous suburbia for forty miles in any direction. Looks brisk and purposeful.

And that’s about it until we hit destination - the capital of the second largest nation in the world - Ottawa, Ontario. I have a theory about designated capitals – they usually end up on real estate that nobody especially covets. Canberra is usually described as a waste of a perfectly good sheep station and it could have been plonked on beautiful Twofold Bay. Brasilia is in the middle of the Cerrado, which is quasi monsoonal and the altitude is trying. Ottawa has some swamp-like features and the humidity in Summer would give Singapore serious competition. That said, it’s gorgeous – green, spacious, can walk everywhere (where we are at any rate). I don’t care too much for the grand metropolis, so this is perfect. The people are really hospitable with an interesting quirk. I thought I was suffering from a fairly common phenomenon – we do things different back home and different always translates in the mind erroneously as better. But no, others have noted that Ottawa seems to prize incompetence and overly values petty rules and regulations and that is surprising for a well educated population, where the pay rates as I understand it don’t sink to the menial as they do in the US. I’m wondering if the lack of capacity might have something to do with an undue emphasis on the interpersonal, so much so, that the essential – actually being able to do whatever is required has been swept to the margins. It’s somewhat baffling to be confronted with so much amiable idiocy and no one seems to have cottoned on to the fact that saying ‘I don’t know’ is better and less harmful in the long run. It saves having to undo the erroneous advice as well as actually getting the thing done. I also think that this has some bearing on the pitiful state of autistic inclusiveness in decision making processes. If the interpersonal is pre-eminent, then what autistics have to offer becomes devalued in this society – to the detriment of that society in fairly obvious ways.


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