Whale Watching from Long Beach – Saturday

I’m booked on another boat, this Saturday morning out of Long Beach Harbor on Long Beach Sportfishing’s whale watch boat.

I thought I’d throw it out as an open invitation to everyone who might want to head on down the 710 (or down the street if you’re one of our LB readers) to hop on a boat this weekend and see what’s out there. I’m on the Saturday @ 10 AM boat as a rookie whale watch naturalist, there’s another at 1:30 PM and the schedule repeats on Sunday. $10 for kids & seniors, $12 for adults.

We’re expecting excellent weather on Saturday with westerly winds 10 to 15 knots and westerly swell of 2 to 3 ft. They’re spotting Pacific gray whales every day from the whale census at Pt. Vicente so there’s a good chance we’ll be able to catch sight of one. Even if we don’t there’s always lots to see – sea lions, skimmers, gulls, pelicans, terns and the magnificent dolphins.

Redondo Beach Sportfishing also has boats going out at 10 AM and 1:30 PM every day.

Sean’s List – free crap

Anyone want this crap? I haven’t used it in years and if no one here has any use for it I’m going to throw it on Craig’s List. Basically if you can pick it up, it’s yours. First come first serve.

– Sony External CD-R/RW burner with Firewire and RCA ports.
– iOmega Zip 250 Drive (USB)
– Optimus Dual Casette Deck with levels and junk.
– Stack of Playboy Magazines. (Since I quit working their they still send me one every month, they have probably been thumbed through once and that’s about it. Assorted issues from the last few years. And trust me, that last few years can *barely* be considered porn.)
– Stack of Lucky Magazines. (These were Caryn’s and were HEAVILY read, and stickered, and all that. Might be good for cutting out pictures or something? Or for making a fire?)
– Hughes DirectTV box.

OK, that’s it for the moment. If this all goes quickly I might put up another batch of fun.

You say you want a revolution?

viacomoutdoor.jpgOkay, here’s how NOT to endear people to your product in 3 easy steps:

1. Design weenie car. (Shoot from low angle to counteract weenie-ness.)
2. Have ad agency create marginally amusing outdoor ad for car.
3. Pay media company to install ad at high-visibility 3-way intersection on artery route during morning rush hour.

(To maximize consumer disenchantment, use minimum number of safety cones so route narrows to two lanes in one car length.)

LA should go Open Source

In a totally bad ass move Councilmembers Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel and Jack Weiss introduced a motion today to divert millions of dollars spent on potentially unnecessary software expenditures into a fund dedicated to the long-sought-after expansion of Los Angeles’ police force. Anyone with half a brain knows this is a good idea, unfortunatly it’s been a long time since anyone with half a brain was making those decisions. From the press release that just showed up in my inbox:

“For taxpayers, this is a no-brainer,” said Councilmember Eric Garcetti, member of the Information Technology and General Services committee. “By engaging this online community, we can make our own communities safer. Free open source software can be as capable and more secure than products that cost the city millions.”

“By rethinking the way we do business and taking advantage of new technologies, City Hall can save money * money that should be going to pay for ambulance service and police officers,” said Wendy Greuel, Chair of the Audits and Governmental Efficiency committee.

“Open source software offers an interesting opportunity to save public money,” said Councilmember Jack Weiss, chair of the Information Technology and General Services committee. “The City should explore open source software and all other potential savings that could provide funds for additional police officers.”

I’m too psyched to type anymore at the moment, here’s the official docs: Motion (9K PDF) | Press Release (28K PDF)

Duh: Cell Phone Users Drive Like Drunks…

I can’t say I find the results of this study very surprising (tip: Slashdot):

A University of Utah study claims that drivers who use a cell phone will be ‘more impaired than drunken drivers with blood alcohol levels exceeding 0.08.’ The study also says that use will turn a driver who is age 20 into age 70. Hands-free systems apparently don’t help much either as they still require a driver to ‘actively be part of a conversation.’ What about in vehicle systems like OnStar?

Whenever I see someone ahead of me who’s driving while on a cell phone, I make sure to pass by them in a hurry!

Systems Crash on 110 South

Here’s one of those hazards of 21st century technology: my car crashed on the 110 last night. No, not the actual car, just some sort of software problem. My 2004 Toyota Prius gave me some sort of Hybrid System Warning (with all lights on the dash and assorted warning beeps). I exited the highway post-haste and parked safely at the LAPD Internal Affairs office parking lot (seemed like it’d be a safe spot) and waited for roadside assistance.

Unfortunately the closest dealer for me to be towed to was Carson (where I bought the car) and not to Hollywood where I’ve had it serviced in the past. They’re looking at it now and I’m happy to report that they’re able to duplicate the problem (how many times have you called tech support and you can’t get the system to do whatever it is again?). I figure half the battle with fixing a car like this is figuring out the problem in the first place.

I consider myself lucky that the car didn’t quit altogether and that everyone on the 110 was nice enough to let me off quickly (I put on my hazards and I’m telling you, everyone yielded to me immediately). I had an alternator problem in my traditional car about 10 years ago (also on the 110) and lost all power and couldn’t even signal to get over to the shoulder and had no power steering or anything. I much prefer this sort of breakdown!

I’m carless at the moment, but if the repairs take more than a day I’ll have to get a loaner or something. Or maybe just start walking to work again.

Tonight @ Arclight


Update: obviously it rocked. I was planning to take a photo of Will Campbell in the theater but unfortunately right when he walked by so did David Schwimmer who was sitting right in front of me and I looked like some kind of nuts-o-fan trying to get a photo. Caryn was totally embarrassed. Sorry David, I really, really was trying to get a photo of a blogger, not you.

High Speed in the Hills?

I live in Silver Lake and I have DSL through SBC. I’ve had it for 2 years with no problems. I have a friend who lives in Silver Lake, on a different hill, who still can’t get it. She’s been using dial up and that’s getting unbearable. Here’s the problem, she’s at the top of the hill by Fletcher and Glendale and the closest DSL box is at the bottom of that hill – unfortunately it might be the only one left in California that isn’t Fiber Optic. The result being that even though she gets solicited for DSL by SBC, Earthlink, and everyone else all the time, when she signs up and they come out to install it, they find it’s not possible and give her her money back. So she just got an offer for DirectWay, but that is going to cost $100 a month and the uploads top out at 55K, barely any better than dial up so I advised her to stay away from that.

What I want to know is does anyone have any ideas? Know of any ISPs who would want to run a line up the hill and potentially get a whole neighborhood of clients as all her neighbors are in the same boat. Calls to SBC about the issue have resulted, not surprisingly, in nothing. Apparently there’s no plans to add a new box, or update the old one.


Groundhog Day

groundhogdayhome.jpg Happy Groundhog Day, everybody. This is, of course, one of those crazy rituals that blizzard-addled easterners perform to give themselves a reason to live until spring comes. Like football.

For rodents, groundhogs are pretty cool. You know the “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck…” tongue-twister? Woodchuck is another name for groundhog. (I guess “How much ground could a groundhog hog if a groundhog could hog ground?” doesn’t trip up the tongue as well.) Animal Planet has a spiffy site about these cute critters, including info on the pagan origins of the Day. And don’t miss groundhog.org, the Official Site of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. If I were still reading Robert Anton Wilson on a regular basis, their whole Inner Circle business might give me the willies.

The groundhog is also a member of the club Rodents With Which Bill Murray Makes Funny Ha-ha (“Mister Gopher” of Caddyshack fame being emeritus, naturally). But as Murray says in Groundhog Day the Movie: “This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.”

Yeah, I guess apart from the Movie, the Day doesn’t have much to offer Southern Californians — except as an exercise in eye-narrowing, lip-pursing wonder at those wacky snow-people back east and their paganistic hubbub.

But as for me, there’s a SoCal annual animal-related event I’m waiting for next month. Six more weeks of winter or no.

Woohoo, Public Transportation

My car-less state has been getting me down lately, so whenever I’m not working like crazy, I’ve been looking for stuff to do that’s easily accessible via train or bus. When I saw Xeni’s post about tonight’s RES screening, I thought, “Hey, isn’t the Egyptian Theater near a Metro stop?”

A quick check of Metro’s trip planner revealed that I wouldn’t even have to walk to the red line — a bus to Hollywood and Highland stops right on my corner. It was really easy to get to the show, and fun to watch a bunch of music videos on the big screen (there were lots of puppets and a few kittens involved).

I wasn’t looking forward to waiting at the bus stop by myself afterwards, but I ended up having a long chat with some guy from Connecticut who moved to L.A. to become a rock star. We talked about about how great L.A. is if you’re used to east coast winters, and he told me that if I really want to make my dreams come true, it’s not about hoping, it’s about planning.

I’m still “planning” to get a car as soon as I can afford one, but in the meantime, does anyone have any other suggestions for fun stuff to do that’s public-transportation accessible?

Silver Lake Coffee Bonus Hours!


I about crapped my pants when I saw this sign. Unfortunately I’d left the digi cam at home so this camphone shot will need to do the trick. That’s right, Silver Lake Coffee is now open much, much later. As anyone who knows me knows I love this place. The best coffee in town coupled with free wi-fi – it’s amazing. The problem has been that they shut down early. Er, they used to. They also just painted the place and I’m digging the dark red walls way more than than the hippy-yelllow they were previously. So of course, this means you can get your bananna espressos smoothies after dinner now too.

Superior Jury Service

I reported bright and early yesterday morning to the Los Angeles Superior Court in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Hill Street for Jury Duty. I took my orientation packet and sat in the large waiting room and, um, waited. Promptly at 7:30 am our jury coordinator, Betty, began her orientation. She had a voice like the narration on an airline security video. And man did she know her script. All queries were addressed and even inane questions got the same prompt airline-attendant-tone-of-voice with hand motions to match.

After a half an hour of filling out the short form that came with our summons and directing those who wanted to postpone or excuse their service to the appropriate place, we watched a few videos and sat to wait. The new system is on-call for five days/one day in the courthouse and/or one sworn trial. Today they had a great need for panels and about 115 of us showed up and by 9:30 Betty was calling off names to report to different departments.

I was part of the first group called and we went to Department 12 and waited for an hour as the jurors already empanelled on Friday returned for their continued service. The needed to fill only two seats on the panel plus two alternates. After the voir dire was completed we returned to the waiting room and I waited for all of ten minutes to be called again at 11:30 for a panel that was going to start at 1:30 – so I was released for lunch.
Continue reading Superior Jury Service

RES screening at the Egyptian tonight

The year’s first RES screening of digital shorts and music videos takes place at the Egyptian theater tonight. Among the works scheduled to screen at 8pm:

Interpol’s “Evil,” a troubling puppet-driven work that is the music video debut of acclaimed photographer Charlie White. Also on tap: 2 Many DJs side project Soulwax’s video for “E Talking,” an alphabetical lesson in pharmacological jargon directed by Evan Bernard; a pair of Fatboy Slim videos involving song, dance and frisky felines, directed by Jon Watts; and “Dream,” Dougal Wilson’s latest for Dizzee Rascal featuring the rapper as a pint-sized MC spitting his rhymes at bizarre ghetto puppets.