A Travellerspoint blog

LA, Venice Beach, Santa Monica

After a rather tiring and relatively un-eventful trip from Milwaukee to LA (via Chicago), I arrive at the famous and lively city of LA. I get picked up from LAX by one those classical sleezy shuttle drivers who takes me to my backpackers (which I booked from NZ), the Venice Beach Cotel and overcharges me as expected. Fine, at least I am there.

Wow, what a shock! Let's just say the place is swarmed by street kids and homeless people who have saved their money and got a bed for the night in order to avoid the rain which has just set in. Gone are the sunny views you see on the hostel's website, gone are the CLEAN beds too. And what is with all the stairs you have climb with your pack (they forgot to take a photo of them) and the unfriendly people?!? After dropping my stuff off, and being made to pay the whole amount for the full stay, I go outside where "creepy" takes a new meaning. I go back in and try to ring Gareth's friend Michael from the hostel. No luck, I must have misdialled.

I go outside and see a Best Western Hotel a few doors down Creepmania St. Their rooms are a whooping $170 but the guy feels so sorry for me he gives me $99 rate after several barganing attempts. Still way too high for what I can afford.

I find a payphone and manage to ring Michael who comes and rescues me. Thank God for him! We go back to his place where other Kiwis are crashing on his floor, trying to rest before their flight the next day. Everyone is friendly and smiley and they all agree I need to find a new place to stay.

Michael and I jump on the net and after some ringing around we find this place where it looks like I will pay a whole $75 a night, but hey, who wants to be stuck at the crazy house in Venice Beach for $30?

So off we go to check out the room, looks ok, no homeless crazy kids hanging around. We go back to the hostel and put the hard word to re-fund my credit card money. Not having a great deal of luck since the manager is not there, but hopefully it will happen the next morning we are told. We rescue my backpack at least and take it to the new room.

We finally go to the supermarket and get some dinner to take home. We eat at Michael's after which he drops me off at my new home. Aaahh, bed, sleep...but then during the night I get woken up by constant comings and goings on the stairs which are right outside my door. Plus Michael said to make sure to put the latch on the door, but the door has no latch - it has long been ripped out.

So with little-ish sleep I drag myself out at about 6am and go in search of some cafe where I can do some work and grab a coffee - I have lectures to prepare and a talk to UCLA to stress about.

At Gareth's suggestion from last night (I managed to check my e-mail via the wireless connection), I bus into Santa Monica and find a nicer looking backpackers. So I take a bed there - $35 a night - I feel much better already. But of course, another re-fund to deal with back at the fancy hotel (though let me tell you, for the 75 dollars it's pretty shabby after all!!!), and yet another grumpy person who won't give it to me. But I am tired, moneyless, and hungry by this stage, plus the prospect of carrying all my belongings on the bus to Santa Monica does not enchant me. So he gets a piece of my mind. Re-fund is suddenly no problem, so is a receipt, great! Done.

I race back to the hostel with my everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-backpack and dump my stuff. On the bus I seem to have started a whole conversation with the entire bus population. Someone overheard a man asking me where I was from and now everyone on the bus is practically talking about New Zealand and some dodgy looking Latino guy hands me his phone no if I would like him to show me around. No thanks. Honestly. I take the piece of paper and say "thanks", but I hope we both know it ain't gonna happen. Please let me out. Finally, we are there and I am back to the new and improved hostel, where I have another problem. I promised to call Prof Sandra Thompson by lunch to arrange a time when I can get to Santa Barbara for her to meet me. My watch says 11am.

I need to call a toursit office to organise my getting to Santa Barbara first. A few calls later I have an Amtrack booking and am "all set" as they say here. I call Sandy at home and, yes, of course she can meet me at the train station and show me around Santa Barbara a bit, yes that will be lovely. Phew. Aaahh, the mad rush can now stop and I can breathe easy....except for the fact that in the process, I realize I forgot Gareth's mp3 player on the plane and trying to call LAX lost and found is a bit like trying to call Caesar in Ancient Rome - forget it! After wasting more coins on the phone, I get to an answer phone and as I brace myself to leave a message (which seems to be my only option since after calling several times it appears no one actually tends to this phone), the lovely happy sounding voice at the other end informs me the machine is full so no, I can't even leave a message either. Aaaah! Good-bye mp3 player.

Let's just hope tommorrow will be better and that I won't have to repeat the whole "staying and paying for 3 hostels/hotels in 2 nights" anytime soon affair. I wonder what else is in this now sunny place apart from weird hostels and strange people.

Posted by Adreane 12:27 Comments (0)

Final day in Milwaukee

So there it went, the conference is now already finished in a flash. I had a wonderful stay here and also a really cool time at the conference. I met such famous and interesting, and truth be told, fun people too! John Haiman turns out to be born in Timisoara, Romania, and as he put it "I have now joined the famous club of linguists who are left-handed runners". So there you go! He is the Inconicity King so who am I to argue? I also managed to get myself a lunch date for Tuesday in Santa Barbara with Sandy Thompson (how cool!). Anyway, I will be sad to leave the comforts of the Ascot Hotel whose free shuttle service I will miss thoroughly (I quite fancy myself as having a cheerful driver at my every begging call: "Where would you like to go today miss?"). Back to reality, from now on, it's just me and my backpack (which I didn't recognize at LAX since it is Gareth's old pack ooops, it turned out they didn't lose my luggage after all). So before I go, here are some more photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/andreeac/sets/72157600105093716/

Check out the nice Art Museum. Some pretty interesting talks were missed for that visit, but you know, Monique and I enjoyed being all 'cultured' and inspired for a few hours.

So the plan is: party tonight at someone's house tonight (all 150 of us, Americans have some big homes here!), then getting picked up at 7:30am for my 9:14am flight to Chicago and then on to LA. Venice Beach here I come!

Posted by Adreane 16:27 Comments (0)

Day 3 of conference...

Even though I am surrounded by enormous talent here, and the papers are all pretty cool (it's not often that you get to go to a conference which really matches your own research interests), I am finding myself starting to nod off, especially towards the end of the day. The day is structured in a rather spartan-like manner, with 2 or even 3 plenaries in the morning (the plenary talks are given by invited researchers - these are the big names), followed by a 30 min break, then 2 sessions (of 30 min each) of the regular people (this is where I was too), then 1 hour lunch, then another 2 sessions (30 min each) of regular people, 30 min break, and 2 more plenaries at the end (more famous people). So you don't really want to skip much, other than possibly the stuff in the middle. But I might just have to!

Anyway, crap, I a missing this one talk I promised to go (he came to mine and asked nice questions...), so anyway...I decided that the 1 hour run in the mornings before all this madness was my ticket out of jetlag. Nothing like sunshine to fix things. Here i go....

Posted by Adreane 10:10 Comments (0)

One for the linguist geeks

ok, I am sorry, but I just have to write this entry about the conference (you knew it was coming)...The people here are just incredibly famous, it's like the Hollywood of linguistics. I have been and will be attending talks by:

    Alison Wray (the expert on formulaic language, she gave the opening plenary),
    Joan Haiman (iconicity and economy),
    Adele Goldberg (the much-too-young-mother of Construction Grammar),
    Anne Peters (who does cool stuff with kids and language acquisition),
    Michael Tomasello (THE Michael Tomasello from the Max Plank Institute), Chuck Fillmore (the deixis God),
    Sandra Thompson and Yoshio Ono (no explanation needed really),
    Michael Noonen (the master on Complementation),
    Lily Wong Fillmore (who is indeed Chuck's wife),
    Joan Bybee,
    Hongyian Tao,
    Andrew Pawley (who asked me a question yey in my talk and was ever so kind),
    Phillip Durrant....

ok I'll just stop now, but let's just say for the non-linguists reading this, these giants are the ones who wrote the textbooks that linguistics students were brought up on, breathed and sweated in both grad and undergrad school. It's so tempting to go around with my camera photographing everyone. But must resist. Must look like grown-up, calm & collected, sophisticated up-and-coming researcher. Ok, I can do this ... she says clutching her camera. Here we go.

Posted by Adreane 08:57 Comments (0)

5 cool things about UWM

First, they have PRETZELS!!!!!
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And they even have a campus fountain ... IMGP0029.jpg

Like any decent US college they also have a good bookstore with lots and lots of university Hollywood-like stuff: t-shirts, jackets, pens, bags, you name it, all with UWM on them. IMGP0025.jpg

And of course, they have some nice looking "serious" buildings tooIMGP0031.jpg

The other cool thing they have is an Arts and Crafts Center which offers free courses, like beading and book binding, and photo album making classes.
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No underwater basket weaving though :(

Also, the university has free internet for anyone to use (even Joe Bloggs with no student account)! How great is that?

Posted by Adreane 12:28 Comments (0)

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