Category Archives: Los Angeles

A Few More Thoughts On Jaywalking

Having had the adrenaline rush of almost killing some moron who thinks they can win a battle of momentum with a car, I’ve had a couple more thoughts.

  1. Adrenaline – ask for it by name!
  2. If you come to LA from another area where jaywalking is considered “normal,” either forget about that while you’re here or fill out your organ donor card. I know in New York City everyone was jaywalking everywhere, and Boston is worse. I don’t even want to think about what I saw throughout Shanghai! But here in LA the car is king and the drivers are morons. It seems that a certain central concept of jaywalking is the assumption that people have the ultimate right of way and of course the drivers will stop for you, even while they’re cussing you out. That’s an assumption that will put you in the ICU in Los Angeles.
  3. I wonder how jaywalking will increase as more and more cars on the road are equipped with automatic, semi-autonomous braking systems? The drivers may not stop for a jaywalker in LA, but the cars might.
  4. What percentage of cars on the road will have to have automatic braking systems before you’ll step off the curb in the middle of the street, oblivious to traffic, confident that something will stop the cars, either the car itself or a driver? 90%? 99%? 99.9999999%

That last point is the one I wonder about the most. The Law of Unintended Consequences!

If we make cars safer by putting in automated braking system, are we also breeding pedestrians to not look at traffic or care if it’s “safe” to cross the street?

Or is such a population of oblivious pedestrians self-limiting in size as Darwinian rules creep in?

Jeff Goldblum’s character in “Jurassic Park” said, “Life will always find a way” — so will death.

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Filed under Freakin' Idiots!, Los Angeles

If You Need To Give Your Heart Away For Valentine’s Day

What do you call someone dressed in black who’s jaywalking after dark across seven lanes of busy traffic in Los Angeles?

An organ donor.

If you need to give your heart away for Valentine’s Day, there are better ways to do it.

I don’t even remember seeing her until I was already standing on the brakes. There was a guy in the lane to my right, just a half car-length ahead of me, that might have seen her and started braking hard – maybe I picked up on that and reacted reflexively before I knew it.

One way or the other, both I and the guy on my right stopped, as did the person coming up from behind who swerved off to the left rather than rear ending me and killing Hissy. We all survived this time. Not by much, but I guess “close” only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and thermonuclear weapons.

Los Angeles is becoming the pedestrian death capital of the country. If you’re a pedestrian, try to at least make an effort to avoid being the next victim organ donor. Even if you don’t give a rat’s ass about your own health and safety, think of how much damage you’ll do to Hissy’s front bumper and hood as you’re pulped.

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Nabisco Premium Saltines with Unsalted Tops, to be precise.

Where did they go?

Was there an explosion at the Nabisco factory where only the Unsalted Tops production line got melted to slag?

Is there a huge underground market for Unsalted Top Saltines? Are they some sort of delicacy for newly liberated pot smokers in California?

Was there a toxic batch of “unsalt” which made them all get recalled?

I don’t know the answer, but it’s been three weeks and four different markets and I can’t find the Nabisco Premium Saltines with Unsalted Tops to save my life. Nada. Zip.

They all have the regular Saltines, mind you. Lots of them! In two of the stores I actually found the spot on the shelves where the Unsalted Tops were supposed to be, but that shelf space was filled to overflowing with the Regular Saltines.

I tried to call Nabisco to raise the alert, sound the alarm, raise a ruckus. Nothing. No comment. (This might be related to the fact that I was calling at about 22:00 on a Sunday evening and they’re only open 9 to 6, Monday through Friday, but I’m trying to go on a conspiratorial rant here!)

The one Ralph’s superstore did have the Kroger brand unsalted tops crackers – bleh!! I’ve tried them before. They’re one of the key reasons that “house brand” gets such a bad reputation.

[LATE EDIT] – After writing most of this last night, tonight on my way home I found them in a local, non-chain, mom-and-pop style grocery store. Our long, national nightmare is over!

Or maybe… Maybe that’s just what they want us to think…



Filed under Los Angeles, Paul

Someplace Special – February 08th

Staples Center, Los Angeles (about row ten or eleven – February 2010)

(About row ten or eleven, almost ten years ago. February 2010. Great concert, not sure that he’s capable of doing a bad one. I remember being freezing cold all night, even though we were indoors – the ice surface that my beloved Kings play on was right under us with just a layer of padding and some sort of hard flooring surface to protect it from us.

Go see a concert. Country, classical, rock, punk, whatever. Stadium seating, a big indoor arena, a place that only holds 100 with no chairs, whatever. Live music is good for the soul. Our souls can use some good these days.)

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Filed under Entertainment, Los Angeles, Music, Photography

Howling – The Video

Mondays are high on suckage. This morning, due a power outage overnight caused by the winds, the parking garage gate at work was working sporadically.

Of course, one of the sporads happened when I pulled up. Card was read, successful beep sound heard, reflexively started to pull forward – only to quickly realize that the gate hadn’t gone up. Stop, but now have to back up a couple of feet to reach the card reader again. Scan card again. Still no working gate. Punch the button to take a ticket. Nothing. Cars starting to honk behind me. (Only one gate into the stupid garage – lousy design!) Try the card again. Nada. Try the ticket thing again. Zippo. Now have probably a dozen cars behind me, impatient. One of the attendants sticks his head out to see what the honking’s about, pushes a button, the gate lifts. I stomp on the gas.


I still have good reflexes, apparently. No damage, but it was close.

With that disaster narrowly averted, here’s the video of yesterday’s winds that wouldn’t upload to save my life yesterday. (I’ve got a YouTube channel, let’s use it!)

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Filed under Los Angeles, Video, Weather

So You Want To Drive In LA?

Driving in Los Angeles can at times be… “challenging.” Yeah, that’s it, let’s say it’s “challenging.”

But with experience you learn to recognize certain little signs and behavioral clues that can give you an early warning that “something’s up.”

For example:

Seeing one brain-dead moron with a fancy car and an attitude that screams “Traffic rules are for peons like you!” is not unusual. They might be doing something like doing an illegal U-turn on a curve with a restricted view across a double-double yellow lined median and three lanes of heavy oncoming traffic and a huge “NO U-TURNS!” sign.

Not unusual.

But when you see a half-dozen brain-dead morons lined up to do the exact same thing? And some of them aren’t even USC lawyers in BMWs and Jaguars that cost more than you make in a year? (Of course, most of them are – but some aren’t!)

Something. Is. Up.

Map from Google – scribbling from Paul.

One – I was on Ventura Boulevard, headed west. As you can see, this is right where it crosses under the 101 Freeway. We sailed past Topanga Canyon Boulevard without a problem.

Two – The brain-dead morons┬ádoing illegal U-turns on a curve with a restricted view across a double-double yellow lined median and three lanes of heavy oncoming traffic and a huge “NO U-TURNS!” sign were right where you go into the curve and under the freeway. The guy in front of me slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting one of them, I managed to stop without hitting him. With the first moron “blocking,” the next two guys just decided to go! go! go! and follow, figuring (correctly) that we wouldn’t just slam into them out of spite. (It was touch and go.) They cut across traffic and get onto that onramp onto the eastbound 101.

Why didn’t they just take the normal onramp that’s like 50 yards behind them? Why are there so many of them? Why did that helicopter just tear over our heads heading westbound over the freeway at about 500 feet?

Something. Is. Up.

Three – When we get going again I see that there are probably six or seven more cars lined up behind them, all waiting to make the same illegal U-turn back onto the onramp. Is the onramp lane closed? No, it’s full. It’s full all the way back beyond Sale, over a half mile, with other people trying to cut into that lane.

You NEVER see this many people backed up at this onramp, even at the height of rush hour. And it’s not rush hour.

In this day and age, there is a second thought that pops up at this point. All of these folks are doing their very best to go east, almost recklessly. You’re going west. What are they trying to get away from that I’m driving straight toward?

But I don’t see any lights or emergency vehicles up ahead (yet) and I’ve always wanted to see a Kaiju eat Woodland Hills, so I press on.

There’s more near gridlock at Shoup & Ventura, a hundred yards west, as even more cars are trying to turn north on Shoup, enough so that Shoup is clogged and they’re partially blocking the intersection. But I get past that just as a second helicopter tears by overhead, and I have a view up to my left at the freeway and I see that it looks like one of those helicopters might be landing on the freeway.

Something. Is. Up.

Four – The pieces fall into place. Big accident on the 101? Probably eastbound between Woodlake and Topanga? Freeway closed? But those who know the area have gotten off on Ventura Boulevard which is running roughly parallel to the freeway. Now that they’re past the accident, they need to get back onto the freeway. But that onramp isn’t designed to deal with that sort of load, so it’s backed up and gridlocked. This in turn causes the brain-dead morons to bypass the line and do the illegal U-turn thing.

What are they trying to get away from? Losing fifteen or twenty minutes and being late from dinner. That’s why they’re risking their lives, my lives, other people’s lives.




The moral to the story: In Los Angeles, even if you only have a ten-minute, six-mile commute to work on the surface streets, check the traffic before you get in the car. Something might be up that will turn it into a thirty-five minute trip with a possibility of death and/or dismemberment!

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Filed under Freakin' Idiots!, Los Angeles

Group Mind Question – January 14th

Two things happened this weekend that got me wondering how much life in Los Angeles might be different from life elsewhere. The two incidents involve using phone apps and the Internet to do routine things and I don’t know if that’s a “La La” thing (or at least a big city thing) or something that’s happening everywhere – so I’ll ask.

First incident – I needed a haircut. Desperately. I don’t get my hair styled, I get it cut. Helen Keller could cut my hair, so I don’t go anyplace expensive. I believe I’ve ranted about this before. Bottom line, Fantastic Sam’s and SuperCuts are high end for me. The new Great Cuts chain is $3 cheaper and gets me the same results.

Saturday is a busy time at these places, but now they have this app where you can “check in” well in advance and then just walk in and be next, or close to it. I found out about this one time sitting there for about a half hour and watching three or four guys come in and get started within a minute or two while I waited. And waited. And waited. It was really annoying. But now I use the app! So when I was leaving the hangar, thirty-five miles and forty minutes away, I started the app, checked in, and when I got there I was in the chair in about a minute, bypassing the two or three guys who were there waiting.

It was great! Of course, whether or not using the app is “fair” all depends on whose ox is being gored, obviously!

Second incident – we wanted to see a movie, but our schedule was sort of up in the air. Almost every theater around here now has the advance ticket sale option where you not only buy your ticket but also reserve your seat. Even if you just walk up to the window, you still pick an assigned seat. Since you’re stuck with the system one way or the other, we usually log in and buy tickets and pick seats in advance. But today it was more of a spur of the moment thing, so we didn’t.

Walking up to the window at 11:28 for a 11:30 movie we found there were only four single seats available for the movie we really wanted to see. We ended up seeing another film (“Molly’s Game,” which we really liked, BTW) at noon instead.

Question – if you’re living in a smaller town in the US (Vermont, Maryland, Texas, Arizona… I know you’re out there) or outside of the US, is this level of online or electronic scheduling and ticket purchasing as routine or even required these days? It happened here quickly, within a year or two at most, but I was wondering if I would be looked at like I had two heads if I wanted to buy movie tickets on my phone in West Smalltown, Ohio?

Just curious.


Filed under Castle Willett, Los Angeles