Tuesday, August 22, 2017

On The Fast Track

I used to be against carpool lanes and express lanes.  This was my reasoning.

If you’re going to force people to travel with at least one other person, then there must be a better way of doing it, such as some sort of positive reinforcement to the people engaging in it, but without being a detriment to those not doing it.  And removing one lane from a five lane freeway, which is the size of most freeways in the Los Angeles area, is a detriment to the greater public.  That’s a 20% in driving space suddenly taken away from a work force and a travel force, many of whom could not possibly commute with someone else given the insane distances that comprise Southern California. 

And then there’s another thing.  Enforcement.  Carpool lanes are extremely difficult for law enforcement to monitor.  It’s not like there are little ramps along the carpool lanes on which motorcycle officers can sit and dole out citations as single travelers pass by illegally.  I see so many drivers in the carpool lanes who are single occupants, and non-hybrid/electric vehicles, that it makes my head spin.  What a foolish plan for such a large urban area; the honor system. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Night Duster

It was a typical summer evening in the Central Valley; still very warm and humid air and a flat horizon all around with just a few ribbons of car lights indicating distant roads.  We were driving back down Highway 99 south of Bakersfield after an afternoon of getting a few things done for Brenda’s parents.

To our right at about Two O’Clock appeared off in the distance a bank of horizontal lights that were moving above the ground.  We quickly identified them as the flying lights of a crop duster spread out across it’s wings.  The pilot made sweeping turns and dips down to the dark fields for maybe fifteen seconds, and would then ascent back up and into the black sky.  There were moments when we couldn’t see him at all as he turned away from our direction.  But sure enough, the row of lights reappeared as he flew in our direction, maybe two or three miles from us.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

"She's A Valley Girl And There Is No Cure"

My last visit there to the original mall has always haunted me.  I was reminded of the poignant memory after reading Kevin D. Williamson’s article, “Closing Time,” in the National Review this week.

During my high school days at Ulysses S. Grant, and with my girlfriend Trish, I went to what probably amounted of hundreds of movies in the General Cinema Theater on the third floor.  I even saw “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” in that theater.  It was a strange feeling walking out of the theater at the end of the film through the entrance that had just been a location for the movie I had just seen. 

I remember going to Perry’s Pizza, and to the arcade.  I often visited my friend, Debbie who worked at Crabtree and Evelyn inside the mall.  She always seemed surprised to see me for some reason.  “Ah, we’ve spent most of our pre-adult lives in this mall, Debbie, so don't be so shocked.”  Debbie was one of the cuter girls who ever worked in the Galleria, so he naiveté was always excusable in my book. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Poop Bag Controversy

I don’t often rat on my friends, but I also don’t talk to this friend much anymore.  So without identifying him, I want to tell you a quick story that I though was completely odd and has stuck with me because there seemed something in it that smacked of some weird kind of retribution.  I think it’s because I love dogs to the “nth” degree that I probably remember this story so clearly.  For what his problem was exactly, I don’t know, but here is the story. 

I used to go to dinner with a friend of mine rather regularly, but I’d say, at about two month intervals.  One night we were at dinner at a local restaurant, and he started to tell me a story that had just happened that same morning.  He said that he had put out his plastic city issued trash cans onto the street in front of his house the night before, and as he was walking to the car on his driveway, a young woman who was walking her dog happened to be lifting up his trash can.  Mind you, the trash had not been picked up yet.  She placed a poop bag, the kind you’d find at a park or that you can buy at any pet store, into the trash can. 

Health Insurance Is Not Insurance

I believe that there is a huge misunderstanding about what insurance is when it comes to health care.  What most people think of as health care insurance is not how one would define as traditional insurance.  The concept of insurance was designed to protect people from catastrophic events.  For instance, when you buy automobile insurance, you pay a reasonable premium into a pool of funds that will pay out if you experience a huge, costly event such as an accident, or a car theft or massive vandalism. 

The problem is that what most of the world calls health care insurance is exactly not that.  Think about this.  What if every time you went and got your oil changed in your car, you made an insurance claim.  Or each time you get windshield wipers put on your car, you made an insurance claim.  How about each time you had to get new tires for your car, and tires are expensive.  But what if you made an insurance claim for your tires?  If this were the accepted status of what car “insurance” was, then premiums for Allstate, or whomever you use, would be in the tens of thousands in order to cover the cost of every shmo who wanted their air filter changed. 

And that is exactly what the problem is with health insurance.  What most people think health care insurance is, ain’t insurance.  It could only be called insurance if it covered catastrophic events such as the breaking of an arm, or cancer, or a heart attack. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Just Another Couple Of Dates

There was a time when I was seeing my therapist many years ago, one of the several spans of time during my life that I was going to him for advice of differing sorts, that I told him about this gorgeous girl I met in Santa Monica.  Her name was Julie.  I had actually met her at a Del Taco drive through in Marina Del Rey.  She was so sexy and pretty and sitting in her friend’s blue bug’s passenger seat while they were ordering.  I was getting back into my car on Lincoln Avenue when I decided to put my order to go into my car (I had walked up and ordered), and go up and talk to her.  It was a funny scene.  Her friend was ordering while I was squatted down on the drive through curb talking to her on the passenger side with my elbow resting on her friend’s car.  I got Julie’s number and told her I’d call her.

I took her out on a date and we went to eat at a place on Main Street in Santa Monica, kind of on the far northern side of the same street of where the Oar House used to be if you remember that place. Also, north of Schatzi, or whatever Arnold Schwartenegger’s restaurant was called.  We had a great dinner that night and enjoyed each other’s company.  She wore tight jeans that made my heart flutter and all that I could think about was that I wanted to sleep her directly in the next few weeks. I was about age twenty-seven, so forgive my directness of intention; I was young at the time.  As we were walking to our cars (now that I remember it, we had both driven there separately and we had parked in the same lot near Ocean Park Blvd by coincidence), she pulled out a cigarette and puffed it pretty quickly so that as we arrived at the lot, she had finished her cigarette down to the nub.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Planning Of A 50th Birthday Bash – A Man’s Naïve Yet Unwavering Determination

I really needed a few days rest after the big event for Brenda before embarking on writing how I got the whole thing done.  I had a deep fatigue once it was all over. But I’ve now slept late for a few days and am back up and running.

The party was just incredible, and it went literally exactly how I planned.  It took a lot of energy and time to arrange, but it was worth it because she would only turn fifty years old once.  Being that it was my idea and execution, it was like planning an entire wedding when I had never in the past planned any event whatsoever.  Nothing bigger than, say, six people going to a movie together, and that was back in my twenties.  Actually, I remember helping arrange a barbeque related to Brenda’s aunt and uncle flying in from Oklahoma just a few years ago, but my role was simply to make a list of presumed attendees and what they might bring; hot dots, chips, buns, salsa.  You get it.  It wasn’t anything that took more than a half hour at the most to create and send out. 

The idea of Brenda’s "50th Birthday Bash" occurred to me about a year and a half ago.  It was, at first, a vague notion; the kind that one briefly daydreams about because it feels still distant over the horizon.  But time is a funny thing.  It creeps upon you, changing its perspective from a benign haze located somewhere in the fog of the future to the menacing reality of a freight train triggering blaring red lights and flailing crossing arms.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Time After Time

Tonight, with my significant other taking care of her mother for a week, I went to see a movie here in Burbank called, “Hell Or High Water,” which was a well-written film.  After I left the theater, I turned on my car’s XM Radio, which had already been set to the eighties channel. I normally listen to the Highway Country on channel fifty-six, but just before arriving at the movies, I had switched it the channel feeling like a little taste of the eighties.  As I drove away, Cindi Lauper’s,“Time After Time” started to play. I was never a huge fan of the song, but for some reason tonight it hit me hard in taking me back to my high school days, and specifically, to memories of my high school girlfriend, Trish.  I don’t know why this was.  I previously wrote about my experience of having a high school girlfriend in “High School Girlfriend.”  I allude to that article because having her in my life at that time was very significant to me.

When I heard Lauper’s song, it was neither her voice, nor the lyrics per se, that whisked me away.  I am a very auditory person in the way of musical instruments.  In fact, if I’m not listening to a song carefully, I usually digest the melody, the chord structure, and the general “sound” of the song faster than I notice the lyrics.  With many songs, I could hear a song once or twice and then play the general chords and melody on the piano.  It’s only when I focus my attention onto a song that I really hear what the story is about.  

In order to leave downtown Burbank and towards my house, I drove west over the Olive Avenue bridge that spans Interstate 5 freeway, and suddenly it was the flanger guitar, which backs the song, that arrested me and brought me back to the 1980s.  Immediately, I felt the desire, like a homing pigeon that suddenly got his bearings, to drive to the front of Trish’s family house, which was 7.7 miles away from where I was.  I went west on Victory out of Burbank, turned left onto Fulton Avenue.  As I rounded the corner onto Oxnard Street making a right turn, being that it was nighttime and not that well lit around there, I tried to make out the first visible residential street sign to my left…Nagle Avenue.  “Nope, that’s not it!”  It was always the second street.  “Ah, there’s Varna Ave.”  I turned left, past another high school friend’s house, Christine, a blonde who hung out with the stoners and who later posed nude in "Hustler Magazine," which, by the way, I had no qualms about investigating while at university.  She had a body that rocked. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Right Turns

I think it's time to review how to make right turns because I notice this all the time.  When people are approaching an intersection and want to make a right turn (this also applies to those turning into driveways of businesses from busy streets), they tend to make their turn from the driving lane (if it's a one lane road in either direction) or from the second lane (if it's a two lane road in either direction), thus, blocking the free flow of traffic.  This bugs the *&$# out of me because the person is relying on my brakes just so that they can make a turn with a looser radius.

For the record, the way that right turns are supposed to be made is for the driver to merge toward the curb and keep just a few feet away from it while making his or her turn.  This creates a separate lane for the person making the turn allowing the people in the lane from which they left to keep driving straight without having to yield to an idiot with their head up their %** and probably a cell phone in their hand.  It sounds like a little thing, I'm sure, but especially for someone who enjoys driving and is good at it, being blocked suddenly by people making very loose right turns invokes fantasies of having an unregistered heap and hurdling it into the backs of these drivers' cars.

So, let's be civilized and simply safely and prudently merge to the right when making right turns people.  

Monday, June 27, 2016

"And Coming Up Next..."

Just so you know ahead of time, this doesn’t end well for the Big Bad Wolf.  He ends up in an iron cooking pot, getting seriously if not fatally burned.  Don't go away!

I was watching an early episode of "Undercover Boss" on Netflix the other night, and I noticed that even in 2010 when the show began, they were already doing the reality show format where at the end of each segment they stated, “And Coming Up Next…” and they showed a few scenes from upcoming segments.  They do this with virtually every reality show and then some.  I don’t watch a large number of reality TV shows, but my spouse likes “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” a lot, so I tend to see almost all of them.  The formulaic singular evil competitor is getting old by the way, but my lady still watches all episodes.  And I watch a few unscripted shows now and then on streaming media.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Aeronautical Expansion Suits

I was one of the few who was invited onto a test flight.  The test was not for the aircraft itself, but for a piece of equipment that was being tested to save a person’s life in the event of an emergency while on an aircraft.  I can not mention the company name, nor when or where the event occurred.  But I will say that those of us who witnessed this test all had some personal connections to the people in the company who ran this test. 

I sat in the middle section of the Boeing 757 that I boarded.  My seat was on the aisle of that middle section.  What was being tested was a suit that a person could theoretically wear in the case of an air disaster.  It would not be used for things such as turbulence or for unscheduled landings, but rather, for catastrophic events such as complete depressurization from a side of a plane being sucked out of the fuselage and for complete structural break ups. 

The idea is that as a plane gets into trouble, this suit, which is made of a thick rubber like substance (the actual materials being unknown to this writer) covers the entire body with the exception of the passenger’s head, is either manually triggered, or automatically triggered via a guage that measures rapid loss in barometric pressure.  With the triggering of the suit, it immediately expands like a blow fish around the passenger, creating a large insulation of air around the person’s body.  The area around the neck is configured in a way to expand completely around the head with supplementary oxygen for maximum protection against forced trauma from flying objects and concussions with objects in the airplane, and with the plane walls, etc., itself.   

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Thing About Unions

I know how touchy a subject this is for a lot of people because of the sheer amount of workers in unions, but I think it’s an important one because of it’s effect on businesses and the economy.  And I want to be clear that I love the American worker, no matter how he or she comes.  However, I think that unions served their function at the beginning of the twentieth century, and that now they have gone way beyond that original intention of protecting workers’ conditions.  They are about gouging companies for as much as they can with little regard for the companies’ survival, and therefore, with little regard for the long-term welfare of individual worker anymore.  The union is an entity that has long ago outrun it's initial objective. 

I’ll start out with a story.  When I was fifteen years old, I went to work for Hughes Market’s Store Number One on Ventura Boulevard and Goldwater Canyon Boulevard (now a Ralph’s) as a box boy.  My duties, as you would probably guess, were to efficiently pack customers’ barrel sized paper bags with the items that they had purchased.  I became, after a time, the second fastest box boy employed there after a packing “master” named, Hirach.  Hirach was of Hispanic descent, was short and stout, slightly older than I by a couple of years, and to be certain, guy was fast as lightening.  He just had the feel for packing bags. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Shooting Range

I had another nice shooting session the other day with a Glock 19 and fifty 9mm rounds.  

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Some Bag Bad-Assness

I downed a bag during my Muay Thai class this morning and got a few cheers.  The way I see it, the bag had it coming!  -Photo courtesy of Bridgett. 

Bob's Big Void

I don’t make it a point to eat at Bob’s Big Boy all that frequently, and when I do, I am lucky to have the most iconic Bob’s of all in my back yard.  I’m talking about the Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank.  People call it the “Toluca Lake Bob’s Big Boy,” but other than it sitting in a neighborhood that is tangentially close to the Toluca Lake hoods near by, it is most certainly not in Toluca Lake, which is simply a section of the City of Los Angeles.  The restaurant sits in the City of Burbank proper.  I emphasize this point because I think that it is important to know which city has protected such an architectural monument as designed by the noted Wayne McAllister.  All that one has to do is to look up the restaurant on Wikipedia to find out all about its fascinating design and business history. 

Tonight, while my girlfriend was out of town at her mother’s house for a few days, it was getting late, and I hadn’t cooked anything to eat yet (anyone who knows me is no laughing to themselves because they know I never cook anything for myself), and the eateries around town were getting ready to close.  There are a few twenty-four hour places nearby, but since I tend drop in on their limited number all of the time, I felt like going somewhere fresh tonight.  So I picked Bob’s Big Boy.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Smart Phone Absorption

I am re-reading The Great Gatsby right now, and it occurred to me that I seldom see kids, or even adults for that matter, sitting and reading books anymore.  It’s like the shiny thing (their cell phone) keeps them occupied because after every Facebook post, or Tweet, or Instragram photo, there is another quick one-hundred and forty letter “fix” accompanied by a photo that satisfies their need for short term stimulation.

I will sound like a male chauvinist now, but i don’t mind because this is absolutely true.  The next time you are driving, or are walking your dog, or are out and about in society at all, take a gander at the next women you see under the age of fifty who is walking on the sidewalk.  You will almost never see her walking straight ahead with her eyes up in front of them.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Government's Smoking Governors

I was at a lovely woman’s birthday party recently and ended up in a conversation with her father.  He is a dyed in the wool staunch Republican.  As we drifted into the subject of the elections and politics, he expressed his strong beliefs that government needs to stay out of people’s way and only provide the most necessary of services.

Those who are very needy and dependent on a safety net, such as the physically or mentally disabled who are unable to provide for themselves.  Babies and toddlers in need of support who come from families who have no means or sense of how to provide an infrastructure in order to raise a child; some of those parents abusing drugs themselves even in the prenatal period while carrying their babies.  But when it goes beyond that, there comes with it an extraordinarily high amount of wasted spending on those who would rather not work and who end up taking the money and going to Laughlin for the weekend. And I doubt that our tax dollars are meant to be used that way.  

He he also talked about the right to fire arms and the usually assortment of politically conservative views, many of which I agree with. 

He then got onto the subject of government setting limits and restrictions on public smoking.  He felt that, again, government had no place in stopping people from smoking.  He said something to the effect that, “Americans are stupid people.  If they want to smoke and ruin their lives, then let them.  But don’t have government tell them or anyone if they can smoke or not.”

I had to disagree with his point about government's tampering with smoking rights.

A Tilted Perspective

A thought occurred to me the other day.  How far is it until you start to experience curvature of the earth, excluding topographical irregularities?  Well, right away, technically.  But I decided to use one degree of curvature to represent significant change. 

Before I did the simple calculation, I wanted to see what my gut sense of mileage would be equaling one degree of curvature.  Without thinking about it too much, I decided it would be between 125 miles and 250 miles (between 201 and 402 Kilometers), and to pick a number, I chose 125 miles. 

I did the calculation and found that at the equator, one degree of curvature would be just a bit over 69 miles (111 Kilometers).  This surprised me as it is a smaller number than I thought it would be.  So, when I drive up to my girlfriend’s mother’s house and back in a day as I am sometimes prone to do, which is about 244 miles (392 Kilometers) round trip, I experience a combined total of 3.5 degrees of earth curvature there and back.  That’s quite a bit in just a few hours. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Star Spangled "Girl"

A close friend of mine recently directed me to a YouTube video, which contained the musical intro of the opening credits to an obscure Neil Simon film based on a play that he wrote called, Star Spangled Girl.  Neither the play nor the film were hits in any respect; that’s probably why you’ve never heard of them.  The song that is played during those opening moments as a Greyhound Bus travels down Pacific Coast Highway is called, “Girl.” 

This is the very same song (with a slightly altered first verse) that Davy Jones was recording as Marcia Brady asked Davy’s lead recording engineer that she speak to him to get him to perform at her high school in the 1971 Brady Bunch episode, Getting Davy Jones.”  I had always appreciated this early 70’s crafted song through my youth and I had learned to play it by ear and and often sang it along with my assorted piano repertoire when nobody was in the house, opening with it’s Carpenters “Close To You” style intro and all.  I even went as far as looking for it a few years ago on iTunes to see if it was real but didn't find anything at the time.  Haha. What a dork I am!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Road Trip To Jackson Hole Wyoming

Sunday, December 27, 2015:
I woke up at 5:55am, showered and then spent forty-five minutes packing my Jeep with all of the items we’d need for our trip in the upcoming days.  I finally got out of my garage at 7:18am, drove to McDonalds on Olive and Verdugo, grabbed two Egg McMuffins and a large orange juice, and parked on the side of Olive Avenue.  As I ate them all up, I called Brenda to wake her up, telling her to be ready by 9:00am.  She had spent the last two days at her mother, Letha’s, house after a Christmas day gathering at her brother’s home in Bakersfield. 

I got to Brenda’s mother’s house at 9:20am and let Susie out to pee in her back yard, then packed Brenda’s bags into my Jeep.  Brenda then misplaced her make up bag and searched her mother’s house for twenty minutes, which ended up being in a bag she had already thrown in the Jeep.  We then got on the road, straight up Interstate 5 and arrived in Oakland about fifty minutes late for my aunt’s memorial, which had actually only gotten started about fifteen minutes beforehand due to everyone being late arriving from varying parts of the state. I nervously read a heartfelt speech that I had prepared for the event.  Everyone seemed to appreciate it.