Issue of 10 November 1998.
An Australian in Santa Rosa (10/Nov/98).
The strangeness of details in this culture is fascinating. Why do Americans like thick, beige carpet so much? I can't figure it. They drink coffee like dishwater with Parisian essence, and think new houses, and track housing, are wonderful. We have seen houses we did not need to walk around, because we had walked around identical ones a street away. This does not seem to adversely affect the price. And ceilings... they love low ceilings! We have seen few houses in which I could not trail my index finger along the ceilings like a trolley car in the streets of some picturesque German town, or an electric bumper car in Luna Park. This flat is luxury---nine foot ceilings! There are restaurants that have sidewalk tables, but you can't help feeling that the aim is more to expand capacity than to give people the chance to enjoy the street.
Nevertheless, there have already been some lovely aspects. I recently ate the best mole (chocolate-chilli) chicken ever. I spent the awesome sum of US$150 (A$240) on a super colour printer. The natives are friendly and interesting. Once you know where to look there's everything from nerd shops to extreme Italian cake shops, Oriental provisioners to brew pubs (though they do look like bars from the movies). Stay tuned for more cultural reflections.
At HP we work in `cubes', and your average cube is not adorned with much beyond pictures of your family even after 20 to 30 years of toil. Perhaps a pile of disused instruments, stacked casually in the corner of the cube, and for which the average (Australian) university department would hock its postgrad's collected grandmothers. I reckon that when I've settled in properly my cube will look like Dr Who lives there.