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Showing posts from February, 2011

Mountains, Desert, Ocean: Can One Place Have It All?

Sunday, while Hollywood was getting ready for its big night, with Oscars, red carpet, and gowns, we travelled to the mountains to enjoy the snow. We loaded the skis onto the Jeep and headed for our favorite local ski resort, Mount Baldy. Here's what we found: I am sometimes reluctant to make the journey to Mount Baldy. Not that it's a long one by L.A. standards (45 minutes from our home to the parking lot) but - when it comes to skiing I am spoiled because I grew up on a mountain. Anyway, the view from the top is reward enough: the Mojave desert to the north, the Pacific to the south, and a checkerboard called Los Angeles county in between. Mount Baldy is one of those L.A. excursions that make me wonder how one place can have it all: the desert, the beaches, the mountains; surfing, skiing, hiking... Is it a surprise that the movie industry should have settled here? Images from top to bottom: palm trees against the San Gabriel Mountains ;  Lord's Candle,  a drought t

Diversity in Numbers: Defining the Angeleno Family

What makes L.A. the city it is? What separates it from the rest of the U.S. or at least from most of it? Why is Los Angeles the perfect place for people like me? Diversity. That, for me, is what it comes down to. According to the  U.S. Census Bureau Almost one in two persons in L.A. county - 48 percent to be precise - identified themselves as Hispanic/Latino in 2009. (The corresponding number for the U.S. as a whole is 15.8 percent.) 13.4 percent of Angelenos identified as Asian; 9.3 as black. (Multiple answers were possible.) More than every third person in L.A. county (36.2 percent) is foreign born as opposed to one in ten (11.1 percent) for the U.S. overall. More than half the population of L.A. county older than five years (54.1 percent) speaks a language other than English at home. The U.S. number is 17.9 percent. The numbers as such are mind boggling but what really amazes me is that all these different people - a total of almost ten million - basically get along. L.A. has

Change of Tide for Across the Pond - A Note to Readers

It's time for a change. What until recently was Across the Pond - An Expat in Vienna and L.A. is now simply Across the Pond.  With the new title come a new subtitle and a new focus. In short, I am done comparing, done with exploring "the gap between Europe and the U.S., the differences in culture, lifestyle, and politics". I simply want to concentrate on where I am now. Since my family and I moved back to Southern California from Europe six months ago Vienna, Austria, and the Old World have been getting smaller in my rear view mirror. The images from years lived on another continent are being replaced by more immediate impressions. L.A. has a way of doing that to people - at least to those who are not repelled by its fragmented and forgetful nature. If we love L.A. it commands our undivided attention. (For more on this see my earlier post When Europe Disappears.) Going forth Across the Pond will focus on life in L.A. and what shapes it. Expect posts about the people,

The Other Night in Mammoth: Tonic on the House

The other night, at a bar in Mammoth, California, I ordered a glass of tonic (with ice and a slice of lime). No alcohol because I do not drink alcohol. My husband went for beer. When it came to paying the bar tender wouldn't charge us for the tonic. Why so? "If you are driving nonalcoholic drinks are on the house." I was driving. Thank you! Can you imagine something like this happening in Austria? My friends in Vienna still find it hard to believe that somebody would not drink alcohol. Never? they ask. Not even wine? And what about beer? In bars in Austria I have heard of rounds of vodka or tequila on the house but never of free nonalcoholic beverages. International data consistently show that Austria is a leading country when it comes to alcohol consumption. According to the World Health Organization Austrians (age 15+) consume 12.7 litres of pure alcohol per year. That is 50 percent more than Americans (8.5 litres). Of the 189 countries listed in the WHO's data

Eat Less! Government Finds Tool Against Obesity Epidemic

Washington thought long (and hard?) about how to best tackle the obesity problem in this country. This week it published new dietary guidelines for Americans: eat less, avoid oversized portions, drink water instead of sugary drinks. According to the two agencies which came up with the new plan - the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture - the new recommendations provide "authoritative advice for people 2 years and older about how proper dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases". The suggestions are "based on the most sound scientific information". Which information? Scientific? Avoid oversized portions. Isn't that a no-brainer? The governmental departments of Health and of Agriculture have been in the dietary recommendation business since 1980 and have published new suggestions for healthy eating habits every five years since then. All the while we have grown bigger and bigger.