Friday, November 30, 2007

Some Call it Winter

The rains are officially upon us. We woke up and looked out the window, excited by the promise of thick gray clouds and the cool dreary mood. I don't think it has rained in Los Angeles since we left seven months ago.

Rain is a rare blessing here in Southern California. I think we typically have only 10-14 rainy days all year, all within the months of November to April. Aside from the renewing and life-giving properties, when it rains, life is different. The pace of life slows down. People don't leave the house. Traffic comes to a grinding halt. It's literally headline news. People here react to a rainy day as a hardy new-englander might react to a severe ice storm.

I was a wimp this morning and decided to do some yoga stretching instead of venture out into the downpour. Quite a contrast to life on the trail, where we would venture forth regardless of the conditions. Lauren joined me, and then went out for a walk anyway.

As I look out our windows, I delight in the anticipation of what is to come. The scorched earth of the San Gabriel Mountains will be quenched and the threat of fire will fade away. The vegetation will once again begin to grow, and stabilize potential mudslides. Everything will turn lush and green. Soon we'll look out and see the snow-capped San Bernardino Mountains towering above 10,000' in the distance.

As a native of the east coast, it's a stretch for me to call it winter, but I love this time of year.

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UPDATE: This evening I happened to turn on the evening news to see a "special live report" from a news correspondent. He was showing viewers how to use their windshield wipers and check their wiper fluid. Surreal to say the least.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Appalachian Trail Journeys

Last week we finished writing a short article describing our volunteer experience on the boundary in the Mahoosucs. The article will probably run in Jan/Feb issue of the A.T.C. publication Appalachian Trail Journeys with accompanying photos, so be on the lookout for it.

Why Does A Salad Cost More Than A Big Mac?

Cheap and filling food is far more prevalent these days rather than nutritious options. On the trail, it was disturbing to see the limited options for the locals, especially in the south.

Jason Kottke pointed out a thought provoking article about the new "Farm Bill" and how Government spending does not match-up with its own Nutrition Recommendations.

The bill provides billions of dollars in subsidies, much of which goes to huge agribusinesses producing feed crops, such as corn and soy, which are then fed to animals. By funding these crops, the government supports the production of meat and dairy products -- the same products that contribute to our growing rates of obesity and chronic disease. Fruit and vegetable farmers, on the other hand, receive less than 1 percent of government subsidies.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Them Damn Kids

We just found out that one of our friends from the trail, "Lifesaver" has released an album with his band "Them Damn Kids," under Chestnut Tree Records. They have a fragile, melodic sound, that Lifesaver shared with us at various points along the trail on an acoustic guitar.

They will be touring the west coast next month, actually playing down the street from us in Hollywood on December 2, 2007. See you then, Lifesaver!

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UPDATE: Nice job at the show, Lifesaver. It was good to see you and catch up. Sorry we couldn't stay until the end. We're enjoying your CD.

Adjustment - Part 4 - Los Angeles

We're back on the west coast and doing quite well.

We ended up switching our plane tickets and returning two weeks earlier than anticipated, which has turned out to be an incredibly refreshing decision. After being nomadic since April, it feels good to have a stable place to call our own, and to make headway with all of the adjustments of health care, jobs, and other loose ends.

Our new place is approximately one mile from where we used to live, and we couldn't be happier. It's quiet, with nice breezes and on the fifth floor of a seven story building; we rarely take the elevator just to prolong our trail legs a bit longer. From our living room we look out to the mountains, Griffith Observatory & Hollywood Sign, Downtown, and two Frank Lloyd Wright houses.

Our friend was moving out as we were returning, so we were able to take over the lease and slip in at a way-below-market rent. Half the price of our old apartment, or 1/3 the price that our old landlord is charging since we've left!

You can reach us at our new address:
Ben and Lauren Thompson
5217 Hollywood Blvd #508, Los Angeles CA 90027