Category Archives: Los Angeles

Tonight’s Motorized Moron

From last evening as I was leaving the office we have all of the necessary elements – a cozy parking garage, a visitor with a huge vehicle and a tiny brain (or something tiny that he’s overcompensating for), an inability to bother reading directions, and enough Dunning-Kruger to make it into a nightmare for everyone else.

First, the cozy parking garage. There’s only one entrance and upon entering you immediately turn right. The main exit is next to the entrance, but once you’ve turned right after coming in, you really, really need to go around the loop and approach the exit head on. You need to be small and zippy to try to come back out the way you came in and make that turn into the exit lane.

Second, that huge vehicle. A full-sized Hummer. I don’t even see how he got it in to begin with. Not small. Not zippy.

Third, if you’re a visitor you need to pay in advance to exit and get your ticket processed as paid. This is particularly true if you are having your parking validated by whoever you’re visiting – if you’re at the exit you can only pay with a credit card, not the little validation stickers.

Fourth, this freakin’ moron figured NONE of those rules applied to him. The universe would bend to his will…just because!

Wrong.

I had the poor luck to be the one just leaving when Mr. Wonderful roared the wrong way out of that right turn only lane at the entrance. I wanted to get home and realized that standing on principle and getting T-boned by a Hummer wouldn’t expedite that, so I let the asshole cut me off and try to get out that exit.

And try. And try. And back up and try again. And again. Until he finally got those monstrously huge off-road tires up onto the curb and muscled it around to drop down into the exit lane somehow.

Forgive me. I saw what was coming next, as clearly as Cassandra ever did. I looked into my rear-view mirror hoping that I would be lucky and be able to flee toward the other exit that I was quite sure this clown didn’t know about. I looked…and saw three cars already backed up behind me.

Trapped.

Of course, Mr. Wonderful hadn’t bothered to get his ticket validated before he got in. Yet another silly rule that didn’t apply to HIM.

Then the real fun starts. After a good three or four minutes he finally decides he’ll bite the bullet and pay for the parking himself. Of course, his credit card gets declined by the machine. Or he’s such a moron that he’s putting it in wrong. It could have gone either way.

The honking has now started behind me. I look in my rear-view and now see close to a dozen cars behind me, all the way to the back end of the parking garage, with more coming down from the top level and more coming up from the bottom level. God alone knows where security is to punt this asshole out into the night and clear the way for the rest of us to go home.

Of course, now he wants to back up. But he can’t because I’m there. And I can’t back up because the guy behind me is just six inches back. And he can’t back up…

Mr. Wonderful is leaning out of his window and yelling at me now. I spread my arms and shrug, the universal symbol for, “WTF is your problem?”

Mr. Wonderful would now like to get out of his car, no doubt to scream in my face or take a punch at me, but his Urban Assault Vehicle is so tightly jammed into that exit slot that only the Jaws of Life are cutting him out of there. He can’t open the driver’s door because the payment/validation machine is blocking it and he can’t open the passenger side door because there’s a concrete wall there. His Hummer’s tough, but not punching-through-six-inches-of-rebar-enforced-load-bearing-concrete-wall tough.

Mr. Wonderful now decides he’s just going to put it into reverse anyway. No doubt he thinks he can just crush my van like an old beer can. (This may or may not be true – the Big Blue Max does have 198,000 miles, but it didn’t get there by being poorly designed or built.) Except that those monstrous tires are jammed into the slot now between the concrete curb, not quite straight, and he can’t get any torque or movement. He’s jammed.

I figure this is the point where he’s going to just floor it going forward and snap off the bar that’s down at the exit. When suddenly, I see movement in the rear-view.

Somewhere four or five cars back, someone got enough maneuvering room to finally wiggle out of line and cut off into the empty parking spaces. They’re headed toward the downstairs exit. The car behind him promptly backed up and followed, and the car behind me has started to follow as well. Like lightning, before anyone else can pull back behind me, I’m in reverse until I can maneuver and I’m following the line of cars down to the other exit.

First in, last out, so I’m about the fifteenth or seventeenth or twentieth car waiting in line downstairs at the side street exit, but we all have parking cards. With traffic coming out of the Trader Joe’s interfering with the smooth flow of exiting cars it takes at least another five or six minutes, but I’m finally free.

I swing around the side of the building and check as I’m driving by the main exit. There’s Mr. Wonderful in his humongous bright blue Hummer, still stuck like a cork, still with no way to get out of his car, now with a new line of cars honking behind him (what’s the problem with those folks, did they not see the mess that I was escaping from??), still with no sign of security to let him out.

Almost fifteen minutes of my life I’ll never get back just because one asshole has a huge car in order to prove something, can’t read directions, can’t drive, and is too freaking stupid and incompetent to do something as simple as validate a parking ticket (or pay for it) and drive out of the garage.

All I know is wasn’t still stuck there when I got in this morning.

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Filed under Freakin' Idiots!, Los Angeles

Spoiler Alert

There’s a white Porsche 911 that I see a couple of times a month when I’m headed to work. I always see it within a couple blocks of home so I’m assuming he lives and/or works in the area. The car is noticeable because the spoiler is always deployed.

Not a big deal – but I always loved seeing the spoiler deploy at speed and then come back down when the vehicle slowed. That’s cool!

So when I see it stopped at a light and the spoiler’s up, I figure it’s broken. When I see it stopped at a light (a couple times a month) and the spoiler’s up (every single freakin’ time, a couple times a month), I’m about 99.999% sure it’s broken.

Before I go jumping to conclusions, I checked. Yep, it varies a bit by model, but the spoiler’s supposed to deploy when you go above about 75 mph and come back down when you slow below about 50 mph.

If you’re at a stop light and it’s up, it’s broken.

So then I went and checked the second question I was interested in. It’s a newer model, probably no more than two or three years old based on the license plate numbering, so new it was worth well more than $150,000. And all Porsche models apparently come with a four year warranty.

So here’s my question – if you have a car that’s worth more than I make in a year and it’s under warranty for repairs (or even if somehow it’s not), why do you drive around for months with something obviously broken?

Really! If you care that little, I’ll tell you what – I’ll relieve you of that horrible burden! I’ll trade you straight up, my nineteen year old minivan with 198,000 miles on it for your late model Porsche 911 turbo with the one broken part. I guarantee that I’ll have that sucker fixed inside of a week and you and your slacker attitude will feel right at home in the Blue Bomber MomMobile.

I’m a giver!

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Filed under Freakin' Idiots!, Los Angeles

Who Says We Don’t Get Snow In Los Angeles

Part of it’s the definition of “Los Angeles” – for those not familiar with the area, the “Los Angeles Metro Area” is bigger than some US states. In addition, there’s a lot of variety in the geography of the area. “Los Angeles County” has everything from beaches (at sea level, obviously) to mountains that go up over 10,000 feet. Those mountain peaks get snow quite often in the winter, and there are multiple ski resorts up there within an 90 minute or so drive from downtown LA.

But in the actual city limits of “Los Angeles” it’s a bit odd to see actual snow. Most of the city limits are below 3,000 and we only get cold storms that dust those low peaks every few years. But they make for fantastic picture postcard photos.

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Filed under Los Angeles, Photography, Weather

If I Were Her…

On the way home tonight I was deeply saddened to see how far the quality standards for BMW manufacturing have fallen.

A good chunk of my drive home coincided with a similar route by a woman driving a brand new (still has the paper plates!) BMW X6 M. It was deplorable how shoddy the construction was!

First of all, the vehicle was obviously built with no turn signals whatsoever. How can they get away with that? Aren’t there Department of Transportation standards that they have to adhere to?

Apparently not. Block after block she drove, weaving through traffic like Dale Earnhardt at Daytona, and no matter what, those turn signals never blinked.

And that’s not all! Being stuck behind her at a couple of red lights, I was horrified to see that her brand new, shiny, $100,000+ vehicle apparently also came without a gas pedal! The light would turn green and we would just sit there, waiting, going nowhere! She was obviously aware of the problem since she appeared to be texting a BMW service agent about the problem.

It’s sad that such a prestigious, luxury automobile could have such defects. But what other explanation could there possibly be?

Let’s just hope that the airbags aren’t defective when that freakin’ moron with the ten-cent brain driving the $100,000+ SUV wraps it around a bridge abutment…

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Filed under Distracted Driving, Los Angeles

Regrowth

Back in November, our area of California (among others) burned. The fires came within a half mile of our house.

Now the next part of the cycle comes, with the winter rains and a possible El Nino year dumping higher than normal amounts of rain on California, causing mud slides, flooding, rock slides, and other problems in the burn areas as they’re no longer protected by vegetation.

But it’s amazing how quickly the hills can turn from black to green again.

The contrast can be stark and vivid. Parts of the hillsides can still be black as night, burnt, and charred, while patches or even whole mountainsides are an almost iridescent green.

These pictures, taken along the 101 Freeway between Camarillo and Woodland Hills (my son was driving, so I got to take pictures yesterday) show other damage such as this, where rock slides have caused temporary barriers to be put up and lanes closed.

I don’t know what causes this phenomenon where the new growth is in a mottled or spider-web like pattern across the blackened hillside. You can see the burnt bushes and trees everywhere, but the green undergrowth along the ground has started to be re-established.

Just a few hundred yards way, the entire hillside is iridescent green, with the black stumps of the bushes sticking up through it.

This is how the cycle continues. As green as it is now, this brush will grow up and over the summer will spend nine months turning brown and highly flammable.

This might go on for ten years or more, the brush and weeds growing thicker during the winter months, green for a few weeks, and then drying up and turning brown in April and May, finally baking itself into tinder by July.

It’s the same with all of these trees – most of them will grow back and become lush again, just waiting for the next brush fired to come through, when they’ll turning into flaming torches, their leaves and branches burning, breaking, and being blown for miles in the high winds, starting new spot fires ahead of the main fire, spreading it faster than a person can run.

That’s the cycle – burn, regrow, dry out, burn again.

Welcome to California. We don’t know what will try to kill you this year – the earthquakes, the fires, the floods, or the mudslides.

Down here in the lower elevations, it’s unlikely to be a blizzard or hurricane.

But wait for it. That could be coming soon as the climate changes unpredictably.

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Filed under Disasters, Los Angeles, Photography, Weather

El Nino

I don’t know if this has officially been declared an “El Nino” year by the National Weather Service (or whoever’s in charge of such things) but it sure feels that way to those of us getting drenched.

In an “El Nino” year, there’s a warm patch of Pacific Ocean water that forms around Christmas time (which has something to do with the name – google it) and the end result is an unusually wet winter in California. We get these “atmospheric rivers” that start funneling huge, wet, relatively warm storms onto the California coast, one after the other for days, one onslaught after another.

Whether official or not, this is what we get:

(I wasn’t driving, thanks!)

At this particular moment, the weather radar looked like:

(Image from Wunderground, despite their competitor’s ad, which I find somewhat hilarious and ironic and just a bit creepy.)

It’s quiet now, mostly, but there’s a lot of unstable air behind these fronts, and another couple of fronts to follow about every eighteen hours, so tomorrow and Monday look soggy as well.

While this might be beneficial in terms of alleviating our constant water shortages and drought in California and the Southwest states, it’s not so good in terms of the flash flooding and mudslides.

Welcome to California! If one thing doesn’t kill you, it’s opposite thing will!

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Filed under Los Angeles, Video, Weather

The One That Got Away

This is the view from the Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Hospital parking lot about 5:45 this evening as I arrived. There are storms coming and it was an interesting view.

It’s an okay view. But it’s the one that got away, the sunset that was FREAKING SPECTACULAR about a half hour earlier.

I don’t have any pictures of it to share.

It was enough so that even in our office it was like being in a giant neon tube. Oranges, reds, pinks, like some sort of Technicolor acid trip from the 1960’s.

But I was on deadline and had to get things done so I could get a FedEx package off and get out on time to get here, so there aren’t any pictures.

Possibly a poor choice of priorities. My apologies.

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Filed under Los Angeles, Panorama, Photography, Weather