San Diego

I’m in this city, which is diagonally across the USA from my home, for a total of 23 hours–from landing to takeoff. I’m here to join a presidential session at the American Education Research Association’s convention; my topic is what we can learn from the 2008 election. In August, I’ll fly to California for another presidential panel on basically the same topic, but that one will be at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting.

Meanwhile, I’ve had a brief chance to experience America’s 17th largest metro area by walking from the Gaslight District to Balboa Park, seeing some fine European paintings, and then taking a bus back to my hotel. I’m used to this kind of brief visit; I’ve also recently walked through Austin, Seattle, and Albuquerque. I tend to use analogies when I try to take in new cities. That’s no doubt misleading, but it gets you started. San Diego, to this very superficial visitor, is reminiscent of Miami (Spanish revival buildings, palm trees, strips of ocean water), Denver (long avenues lined with foursquare modern buildings and hints of mountains), and LA (freeways, canyons, and a similar ethnic mix). It’s a pretty far cry from Boston.