A Wireless Way To Beat Traffic

socalwireless.gifIf you are free tonight and want to head up to Pasadena I’d recommend checking out the monthly Southern California Wireless Users Group (SoCalWUG) meeting. They are always very interesting, even if you aren’t a diehard wireless user. Tonights meeting will include a demo of Traffic Gauge, a wireless device which sits in your car and tells you (in real time) what roads to stay the hell away from.

Unfortunately I always forget about these meetings and have something else planned for tonight but if anyone can make it I’d love to hear their thoughts on this. I’ve enjoyed myself very much the times I have gone and tonights plans look super interesting.

Work the vote

You may have noticed in the news lately that there is a major shortage of pollworkers for this coming Tuesday’s presidential election. According to USA Today, there is a shortage of half a million pollworkers right now. This shortage is bound to cause long lines, frustration, and potentially, ballot problems or delayed results in the election.

I’m a volunteer pollworker. I take a day off during regular elections, primaries, and, if necessary, special elections to work at my local polling place. And I’d like to ask you and your friends and family to join me.

It’s not difficult – you need to learn the processes and procedures so that the election rules are upheld, but they’re not complicated. You might be surprised by all the checks and balances that happen in an individual polling place to make sure all voters and ballots are properly accounted for. Don’t get me wrong – the hours are long, the pay is negligible, and dealing with grumpy voters who have been in line for an hour can be challenging. But you get the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve directly participated in and helped others with the electoral process – and I can tell you, it’s immensely satisfying.

This election promises to have one of the highest turnouts in recent history, and we need more pollworkers to help make sure it goes smoothly. I know we’re all busy, but I think that taking one day out of my busy schedule to help make sure something as important as a presidential election runs smoothly is something I can make time for.

The Los Angeles County Clerk’s office has information on volunteering as a pollworker. It’s not too late to volunteer – training sessions are going on right up until a couple of days before the election. No matter what your political affiliation or opinion, please take a look at your schedule and see if you can help. The integrity of the electoral process depends on volunteer citizens.

And if you can’t volunteer, please be nice to your volunteer pollworkers on election day. :-)

Lunar Eclipse

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I raced home from work tonight with high hopes of clear skies. I’ve been out on the deck and was graced with one clear area in the clouds to snap a few shots just as I was setting up the tripod of the total lunar eclipse. The moon had barely risen above the hills and of course was only about 20% covered. I’m still tweaking the camera settings, too.

Totality begins at 7:23 PM and ends at 8:45 PM (that’d be when you see nothin’) and then the earth’s shadow moves away from the face of moon at 9:54 PM.

Catch it if you can. Spaceweather has the full story including photos from all over the world.

UPDATE: Photos posted as the evening progressed.

All Hail Rain

Did anyone else just get hailed on? I’m over in Hollywood and I’d swear that last downpour let loose some teensy little hail. They were about the size of, um, lentils? And melted rather quickly. But they sure sounded noisy and bouncy.

Chinatown life 12 noon

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Apparently I am not doing a very good job of superheroing my neighborhood of chinatown. The police have currently yellow taped my block and helicopters are overhead looking for a criminal of some sorts. I must stay inside. My only hope is that the perpertrator is some hipster with stickers gone awry. Personally I think this is a pretty shitty way of getting me to blog.

My digicam just ran out of batteries…grrr. The police are currently two blocks up from this pic. Please avoid…unless you have roast duck to deliver to me.

Vegged Out

Some might say the aftermath of this wreck on the 5 Freeway South at the Glendale Boulevard Bridge gives new meaning to the term “roadside vegetable stand” while most commuters will call the clean-up effort by a far more ominous name: Sigalert.

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Not sure of the how and the why, but as I rolled north slowly past this totaled 18-wheeler with its crushed cab and its cargo box torn open like the world’s largest sardine can, I said a prayer for the rig’s driver and sent out some extra hope that the rest of us on this rain-slicked day will take a little heed along with a little foot off the gas.

Getting to the Getty

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My wife and I have always intended to get to the new Getty, but there was such a crush when it first opened that we figured we’d wait…and here we are still waiting. We’ll get out there, I promise.

In the meantime, fellow metroblogger (from our DC affiliate) Tom Bridge has posted a thoroughly spiffy gallery from his trip to the Getty today. If you’ve procrastinated as badly as we have, or even if you haven’t, go have a look!

Wireless LA

Mike Outmesguine has this scoop over at The Wireless Weblog – Mayor Hahn has a panel of bigwigs putting together a plan for us LA types with laptops to get our wi-fi on city-wide.

îI want Los Angeles to remain at the leading edge of innovation and creativity,î Mayor Hahn said. ìWe need wireless access to the Internet everywhere in the city ñ not just in select locations. I believe that Wi-Fi and ënext generationí technologies will help us bridge the digital divide.î

More can be found in this press release.

Paper Votes

This doesn’t apply to people in Los Angeles County but if you live in Alameda, Merced, Napa, Orange, Plumas, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Clara, Shasta, or Tehama – or know someone who does, you should go check out the Paper or Plastic campaign. Voters in those counties will have e-voting or traditional paper voting options and there’s some things they should know before making that choice.

Write that Novel!

bannerLogo.gifNovember is National Novel Writing Month. While it’s not a specifically Los Angeles activity, there will be local meet ups at coffee houses all over the LA Basin.

Everyone’s got at least one novel in them, and why agonize for years over that manuscript? Valuing quantity over quality, NaNoWriMo is a seat-of-your-pants approach to writing. On November 1st some 30,000 people all over the globe are going to be putting their plots to the test. Signups have already started – check out their website for complete details on the challenge.

NaNoWriMo founder, Chris Baty, will also be visiting Los Angeles to promote his book, No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days.

I’ll be going for my fourth win this year, you can read my travails and triumphs as I go along on my blog. And if you’re really interested in viewing lots of other bad fiction, see this site that lists oodles of blogged NaNovels. (Past winners also include Kathleen McGivney and Will Campbell.)

Sometimes… Dead Is Better

ps.jpgAh yes, Halloween doth approach and an election shortly thereafter, and with the two come neighbors who festoon their frontyards with graveyards and goblins and political placards.

Walking the dog last night and passing this display a few doors to the south of me I couldn’t help but scoff at the irony and then wonder (and take a pic ó†yes, I carry a cam with me practically everywhere) why the Halloween-happy homeowners could so miss the juxtapositional implication of standing a Kerry/Edwards sign smack dab in the middle of so-faux headstones for Freddie [sic] Kruger [sic], Vampyra [sic], Vlad the Impaler, Boris Karloff, and others spelled correctly or not.

Sure, I hear you. You’re saying the irony might have been intentional. Maybe they’re Bushies having a snide laugh at the democrats’ expense? Doubt it. First because the Kerry/Edwards sign’s been proudly flying solo in that yard for weeks. And second because it’s a medically proven fact that most republicans are irony-deficient.