Category Archives: Los Angeles

Patriotic Pipe Burst

What was the third most exciting thing of your weekend? (And the absolute MOST important indicator that you really, REALLY need to get a life?)

You know those little plastic (“Made proudly in America!”) American flags that real estate agents stick by the driveway of everyone’s house for miles around just before the Fourth of July? Most of the houses on our block still have them up. So I thought it was a little bit odd, but not too much, to see two of them down the block stuck in the middle of the street. I noticed it, but I wasn’t worried about it – kids goofing around was my assumption.

An hour or so later I heard some heavy, loud engines outside, which is unusual a bit since we’re on a very narrow, very steep street climbing to the top of a very big hill. They’re out there for a while, idling, then I heard them fire up and I saw two fire trucks passing by. Which is even more rare. So I go to take a peek.

The street’s completely blocked off in both directions. Time for a stroll.

As they said on Mythbusters, “Well, THERE’s your problem!”

That’s probably 20 to 30 gallons a minute being wasted there and we’re in the middle of a huge, dangerous drought. They’ll fix that quickly, right?! Or at the very least, get the water shut off. Right?!

But it’s odd that the fire department didn’t do that. Just shut off the water. Is this a “not MY department!” situation?

It’s 15:26 on Saturday.

It’s 26 hours later. We now have cones instead of “borrowed” tiny plastic flags.

The flow has increased and is probably 40 to 60 gallons per minute. So, ballpark figures, 26 hours x 60 minutes per hour x 50 gallons per minute = 78,000 gallons wasted.

It’s Sunday at 17:25

Ooooh, look! Trucks! And it seems that they’ve finally turned off the water. Round numbers, call it 100,000+ gallons wasted.

We’re doing something. Possibly surrendering.

We’ve dug a hole and now we’re filling it. One can hope that some sort of repair was effected while the hole was open.

Thinking about it, this is at least the third or fourth time something like this has happened in the three years we’ve lived here. At what point do the future costs of simply digging up and replacing the pipe all the way up and down the hill outweigh the sunk costs in all of these little halfway measures?

Everyone’s gone, there’s “something” filling the hole (“Siri, define half-assed job…”) that I’ll be trying to miss for years in order to save my car’s suspension, and there’s mud in the street all the way up and down.

Wow. Big thrills!

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Filed under Los Angeles, Photography

My Own Micro “Urban Light”

An art exhibit at the LA County Museum of Art which I’ve always wanted to see but haven’t ever yet motivated my butt to do so is Chris Burden’s “Urban Light”. While out walking this last Saturday I noticed my own micro version.

I had walked from Here to There on a Quest. It was along some busy, wide streets and I had strangers ignoring my attempts to help them. On the way back from There to Here I saw this side street running parallel to the Big Wide Boulevard and decided to take it just for the variety.

The first two street lights on either side of the street were these wonderful, ornate, cast iron (probably?) street lights that are probably 100 years old. It’s not a LACMA exhibit by a favorite performance artist – but it will do for now.

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Filed under Art, Los Angeles

Midnight Moonrise

From last night, a pleasant surprise as I did a last lap around the back yard just before midnight.

The moon is a few days past full and it was a dark orange coming up over the San Gabriel Mountains and Griffith Park thirty miles off to the east. The air was finally a bit cooler, there was a breeze, the owls were hooting down by the ball fields, and through the light pollution and haze I could just see the brighter stars of Scorpius to the south.

I’m going to miss this view one of these days.

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Filed under Astronomy, Los Angeles, Photography

I’ll Reject A Little Help From My Friends

I was taking a stroll today in an unfamiliar area of town, having a couple of hours to kill and in need of some exercise.

Walking along a major boulevard (four lanes in each direction with an occasional center turn lane which was often replaced by a concrete center divider with plants & trees) I was approaching a driveway leading out of a small shopping center. A car was waiting to pull out of the parking lot onto the main boulevard.

It was obvious that this was a driveway in which a right-turn was the only legal turn. While there wasn’t a concrete center divider here, there was a broad painted divider that was painted in a cross-hatch pattern that indicated that crossing it was forbidden. This made sense since turning left involved crossing at least five lanes of traffic – very dangerous.

But the lady waiting to pull out was obviously waiting for an opportunity to turn left. I walked behind her car and checked just before the sidewalk – yep, two signs there that said “Right Turn Only.” I also saw something else across the street, in a church or school parking lot…

I waved at the lady and got her attention, pointed at the “Right Turn Only” signs. She flipped me off.

Okay, so much for counting on common sense or intelligence. So I waved again, got her attention, and pointed across the street. She once again indicated that she thought I was “number one.” Then she saw her opportunity and floored it, crossing four lanes of oncoming traffic, cutting left onto that painted center divider, almost hitting a car coming from the right in those lanes, and then continuing her illegal and dangerous left turn.

At which point the police officer in the black & white cruiser in the school or church driveway across the boulevard, who had been watching her the whole time just waiting for her to do something stupid and dangerous, lit up his siren and lights and pulled in behind her. She was pulled over within about fifty yards.

I understand that people make stupid, dangerous, illegal turns. I’m sure they do it in other cities, but it’s an artform in Los Angeles at times. But ignoring the cop that’s right there in plain sight and figuring that you can get away with something blatant? I don’t understand that at all.

Finally, a show of hands of who out there thinks that she learned anything from this? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Okay, who thinks she tried to blame me for distracting her or some other bullshit when she tried to talk her way out of the ticket after being pulled over?

Yep. Me too.

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Filed under Distracted Driving, Los Angeles

Los Angeles Mask Usage Data – June 20th

First of all, Happy Solstice! At 03:32 UTC tonight (20:32 PDT, 23:32 EDT) we were at the point where the Sun is at the highest point relative to the North Pole due to the Earth’s 23.4Ā° tilt relative to its orbital plane. In other words, the longest amount of daylight and the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest amount of daylight and the beginning of winter in the Southern Hemisphere. From here on out, the days get shorter a bit more every day, until the situation is reversed and the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest daylight on Tuesday, December 21st, at 07:59 PST.

It’s a cyclic thing.


California has officially come out of the pandemic lockdown and as of Tuesday, June 15th, in most places masks are no longer required for fully vaccinated people.

Key words in there – “in most places,” “required,” and “for fully vaccinated people.”

I thought it would be interesting to see how many folks are still wearing masks in general today. In this section of California, compliance with the mask and social distancing mandate has been pretty darn good in most places. I don’t recall seeing a single unmasked person in the grocery store or any other indoor space in well over a year. Granted, I haven’t been out that much at all, mainly just to the grocery store once a week and the odd other store run here and there. But I figured that now that the mask requirements have been lifted, we’ll start seeing folks ditching the masks. I was curious as to how fast it will happen.

Places like the gas station, where you’re outdoors to begin with? I was sure that we would start seeing masks being a rare thing. Much to my surprise, I haven’t seen it yet. The last time I got gas, last Sunday, everyone at the pumps, without exception, was masked up. Let’s say that it was a pleasant surprise.

At the grocery store last week and this, I again was pleasantly surprised to see all employees and all customers masked up. I’m betting that a lot of places, particularly those handling food, will keep requiring their employees to be masked for some time, just to reassureĀ  their customers that it’s safe. (And health care and hospital facilities are exception to the lifting of the mask mandate – EVERYONE’s still required to be masked up there, and my money says that requirement will stick for quite a while.) But I was sure that this week I would see at least one or two of the 50-60 customers in the grocery store going unmasked – nope, not yet!

At the restaurant where I pick up our to-go breakfast every week, it was packed due to Father’s Day and folks who were eating were of course unmasked. But of those waiting for a table or waiting to pay or waiting for a pickup order, all except for two young guys (20-ish?) were masked.

So we’ll see how long this goes on. I think there are a lot of other variables, in particular how the Delta variant affects infection, hospitalization, and death rates. We’re down to less than 10 deaths a day in LA County, and while that’s not zero, it’s a LOT better than the hundreds and hundreds per day that we saw just five or six months ago. But if Delta doesn’t cause a huge fourth wave, opening up the theaters and ballparks to full capacity doesn’t trigger a new outburst, and more and more people can finally get convinced to get vaccinated, we’ll see if mask usage becomes an “only when required” (i.e, hospitals, public transportation, etc) item within a few weeks.

Personally? I’ll still be wearing one in public and indoors for a while longer. I want to start getting outside for more exercise ASAP and I’ll carry one them should I end up in a crowd or indoors someplace (i.e., stopping at 7-11 to get something to drink while out on a walk or run) but I won’t use it or need it when I’m just walking down the sidewalk. On the other hand, any time I’m in a situation, indoors or outdoors, where someone else asks me to put a mask on, I will. It’s not a big deal.

As for anyone who wants to ask me why I’m still wearing a mask indoors when it’s not required? Well, they’re “special,” in particular those who want to be in your face out of nowhere about something that’s absolutely none of their god damn business, so they’ll get full frontal snark right between the eyes from the beginning. Just sayin’.

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Filed under CoronaVirus, Health, Los Angeles

Hail, Yeah!

It rained in Los Angeles today. Yes, for those of you who have never lived here, that *IS* a big deal, especially in a drought year like this.

Even more importantly, especially for storytelling and narrative interest purposes, we got hail and I happened to be out in it instead of being locked away in COVID quarantine for the 356th day in a row.

Just after spending almost three hours (AGAIN!!) in the dentist’s chair, having horrible, torturous things done to my body and face and jaw and teeth, I was driving home and had to stop in a local Target store of a couple of quick things that the grocery store didn’t carry.

And, yes, there were other folks out there with their cell phones taking picture of this icy hazard, our very own snowdrift! (Or “icedrift.” Or “temporary accumulation.” Or whatever.)

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Filed under Los Angeles, Photography, Weather

Rumbling

Maybe I’ve been to too many airshows (like there could ever be such a thing!) or maybe I’m just attuned to the noises that planes make, but I’ve recently noticed something and tested out my theory yesterday.

Sometimes when I’m working in my home office I will hear a deep rumbling that will last for several minutes. It’s plenty loud enough to get my attention, almost like a large semi idling while parked outside – but we’re on a narrow side street at the top of a freakin’ huge hill, so we get very, very few big trucks up here. They can come up here – the trash trucks are weekly visitors, and every now and then we’ll get a big moving truck or something, but they’re rare. So when I start noticing these sounds several times a week, I got curious.

Yesterday it was cloudy and cool, and that might have helped with the acoustics. But when I heard the sound and it had been going on for a minute or two, long enough to register, I went outside to look. The sound was quite distinct, but fading off to the north. A quick check of my FlightRadar24 app confirmed my suspicion:

We may be on a very narrow, steep hill which discourages trucks, but we’re also directly under the flight path for jumbo jets heading from LAX to Asia. While a great many of the newer big jets have much quieter engines, the older jets are noisy, and many of them have been converted for cargo. That rumbling I had just heard was a KAL cargo 747 headed to Seoul.

Is it repeatable?

Two hours early I heard it again and didn’t wait, immediately went outside. Too cloudy to see anything, but the app showed that it was another cargo 747 headed to Seoul, this time from Atlas Air.

I love the sound of jet engines in the morning! Or, in this case, the late afternoon and evening. Or whenever.

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Filed under Flying, Los Angeles

Random Old Photos – January 26th

Almost eight years ago. Coincidentally the same trip when I took the picture that became the header photo for this site a month later (and still is).

Angels spring training in Arizona, this game at Tempe Diablo Stadium. In back of the field there’s a big hillside. Personally, I would rather pay the $10 (or whatever) to sit in a seat and have access to food, drinks, bathrooms, and a decent view rather be up with the rattlesnakes and scorpions (a decidedly non-zero probability in those parts), but that’s just me.

It’s also weird looking at these pictures (and I’ve been noticing it a lot in videos of all sorts of sporting events from previous years) and seeing no one even dreaming of wearing a mask or practicing social distancing.

I doubt we’ll see that opportunity for spring training in March of this year.

Well, belay that. It is Arizona, and they haven’t been real strict about COVID restrictions. There’s a reason that the San Francisco 49er’s played their last few games out of Phoenix, and the San Jose Sharks are right now playing their “home” games there. It’s possible that for spring training in seven or eight weeks they’ll have some fans in the stands.

We won’t be among them, even if it is “legal.” If the last four years have taught us anything, there’s often a world of difference between “legal” and “smart.” And in those cases, “legal” can also lead to “dead.”

Even if the rattlesnake doesn’t bite you on the leg while you’re traipsing through the desert mountainside in shorts and flip-flops.

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Filed under Los Angeles, Photography

Same, Cedars! Same

The cedar trees were bent over pretty well in some stiff winds before the rain and snow moved in.

I know the feeling.

Same, cedars! Same. Bend, but don’t break.

But that’s a lot of bending. It’s been a long couple of weeks.

A day off, or five, would be nice. But not yet. “…miles to go before I sleep,” and all of that jazz.


Wait – did I say “snow?” Don’t I live in Los Angeles? Like, in the city, not up in the mountains?

Yes, and we didn’t get any snow here. (Yet.) We’re at 1,078 feet elevation and it’s only predicted to get “below 2,000 feet.” Which means that the Grapevine on I-5 (4,160′) going up to NorCal will be a mess, as will the I-15 (3,776′) headed out to Las Vegas. In addition, we all know that the San Gabriel mountains here in LA County go up to well over 10,000′, so there’s snow there all the time in the winter. (People are often amazed that there are ski resorts within a 60-90 minute drive of downtown LA.)

Remember Mount Wilson and the cameras we watched last summer with the brush fires there?

(Image from the HPWREN cameras on Mount Wilson, run by UC San Diego.)

It’s a freakin’ winter wonderland up there.

But closer to home? Places where you don’t normally get snow that often, maybe once a decade or less? Like, Malibu? You know, going through the Santa Monica Mountains between the San Fernando Valley (where I am) and the beach (where Malibu and Pepperdine University are)?

The tallest peak in Calabasas is 2,163′ and the tallest in the Santa Monicas is out in Ventura County at 3,114′. There are the canyon roads that run through there – twisty, turny, two lanes, can be fun, can be a nightmare if there’s an accident or landslide or rocks in the road or a brush fire? Topanga Canyon? Malibu Canyon? A bunch of those roads at their peaks go over 2,000’…

I would love to stay up all night to see if we get a dusting here so that I could go out in the yard and make a two-inch tall snowman – but I’m going to collapse and get some sleep instead.

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Filed under Los Angeles, Photography, Weather

Red Leaf Saturday With Berries

Fall has started to arrive in SoCal.

It might not be the Black River Valley or Franconia Notch, but we do get some color.

Not sure what these are, but there are a bunch of them in the parking lot at my office.

Even better, with COVID the lot and the building were almost empty, so I didn’t have to deal with anyone wondering why some lunatic was wandering around the parking lot taking pictures of leaves.

Yeah, like that’s EVER stopped me!

It was odd being in the office for a couple hours (computer problems, had to get it back online) but at least I had something spectacular to look at when I came out!

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Filed under Los Angeles, Photography