Archive for the ‘City life’ Category

"You want me to wear what?"

“If she only had a brain…”

Dear College Coed,

In the future, you might want to put down the cell phone and stop texting when a customer is waiting to pay you.




PS: You’d think this would be obvious…

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Let's be careful out there

Let’s be careful out there

Do you remember those films in driver’s training classes, the ones that are supposed to teach you about the hazards of the road? Inevitably, at some point, a child rushes out from behind a parked car and you have only a moment to avoid hitting him.

Tonight was one of those moments.

I had gotten off the #12 Santa Monica Bus at my usual corner, Palms and Sepulveda Blvds. Now, before I go any further, you have to understand this is a busy, dangerous intersection. It’s not Wilshire and Sepulveda, thank Heaven, but it’s heavily traveled, and I regularly see bad accidents and near misses there. People rush yellow and red lights, they turn after the lights have changed, the setting sun is often right in your eyes, pedestrians regularly do dumb things… the whole nine yards. (1)

So, just before 5PM, I’m waiting to cross Palms to go home, keeping my usual eye on traffic. Sure enough, there is a car with a couple of people in it (older, but not elderly I think, and I believe a woman was driving), next to me, waiting to turn right, across my path. And, of course, the driver is watching the oncoming traffic on her left, never once looking right to see anyone on her right, the direction in which she’s turning. I can’t tell you how often I curse under my breath at people who do that. (I was once nearly run down by a USPS driver doing just that. But, hey, he yelled “sorry,” so it was okay.)

So, I take note of her, but then I hear a man yell “STOP!!” and a little girl of around five goes zipping past me into the intersection trying to beat Daddy across the crosswalk, which was already flashing red.

Naturally, this was the moment the car, whose driver had never looked right, chose to start her turn.

And also the moment the little girl, in her pink outfit with a pink helmet on a pink bicycle (still had the training wheels on) heard her Daddy and stopped right in front of the moving car.

I of course, am standing there like a moron not believing what I’m seeing.

Thank God the driver must’ve heard the father or caught a glimpse of the girl, or both — she stopped in time so the child experienced only the barest tap (I heard her say “OW!”). The kid then rode to the other side, while the Dad stopped long enough to slam his fist on the hood of the car and yell a choice word or two (I’ll leave them to your imagination) and then catch up with his daughter, who I imagine was in a deserved bit of trouble.

The driver sat there in shock, and I walked home imagining the horror I’d just missed.

Naturally, the vast majority of the blame is on the driver. Too damn many people never look right when turning right, so focused they are on the oncoming traffic and looking for a chance to go. If the girl had been injured or, Heaven forbid, killed, I’d have gladly testified against them.

But the father bears a bit of blame, too. Let’s face it, little kids are often idiots, blissfully unaware of the dangers of the world. She’s out on her bike, riding with Daddy, the crossing signal goes red, and I can just imagine her saying “I’ll beat you!”

Now, such a moment is unpredictable, but what on Earth was he doing letting her ride along Palms at rush hour, with that intersection in their path,exposing her to foolish drivers? His own carelessness could have cost him his daughter.

Thankfully, no one got more than a fright this afternoon. I hope they all learned a needed lesson.

(1) The LA City Council deserves a lot of criticism for this. While they concentrate on tree-trimming regulations and more benefits for their union cronies in order to buy votes for reelection, an intersection like Palms and Sepulveda (and its twin Palms and Sawtelle) have inadequate traffic control: no turn signals, leading to all sorts of messy, hazardous situations. Daily. Their neglect of street maintenance and traffic signals is scandalous.


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"Banned by Nanny State"

“Banned by Nanny State”

I want to congratulate my city councilman, Mike Bonin, for his support of Los Angeles’ ban on plastic grocery bags.

You see, earlier this evening, I was at my local Albertson’s (1). While there, I had trouble finding a handbasket to hold the items I was buying. The manager saw me and came up to apologize. You see, they were low on baskets and had to order 200 more because…


Which phenomenon, by the way, has happened before.

Knowing our city council, they’ll probably pass an ordinance against stealing the baskets, rather than admit their mistake and rescind the bag ban.

Great work, guys.

(1) Sepulveda and Palms, if you want to know where the cool kids shop.

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"Banned by Nanny State"

“Banned by Nanny State”

I’ve already made clear my opposition to Los Angeles’ ban on plastic shopping bags handed out by stores with your purchase. Now, here’s an example of why that law is just plain stupid:

Today I had to stop at the grocery store to pick up some vegetables for dinner. (Broccoli crowns, to be precise.) I did not have my “environmentally friendly” (but health-hazardy) reusable bag with me. As I ride the bus to and from work  (environmentally friendly! Yay, me!), I didn’t have one with me. So my choice was to either walk all the way home, get a bag, come back, and walk home again, or just go inside, buy the broc, and “go bagless.” I chose the latter.

Kind of. You see, I still had a Dread Plastic Bag with me: the transparent plastic bag we put our vegetables in before buying them, which I used to carry the crowns home in.

So what’s the point of the ban, man?

Repeal it.

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"Signal, blast it!"

“Signal, blast it!”

So, this morning I was nearly hit from behind by a cyclist who came up the sidewalk behind me without bothering to let me know she was there. Had I moved a half-step to the right at the wrong moment, she would have taken my knee out.

Were this the only time something like this happened, it would be annoying, but nothing to write home about. Just one of the annoyances of pedestrian life.

But this happens far too often not to be infuriating. Do people riding bicycles not understand that people in front of them might not know they are there? That even a low-speed collision can cause serious injury? Is it too hard to use a horn, or a bell, or even to call out “coming through?”

From the Los Angeles municipal code:

  • Sidewalk Riding (LAMC 56.15) Prohibits the riding of bicycles (or other human power devices) on sidewalks (bikeways or boardwalks) with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Disallows the riding of bicycles on Ocean Front Walk in Venice.

I maintain these people are breaking that very ordinance, though small satisfaction it will be to me for them to get a ticket while I’m on the ground, writhing in pain.

Wait! What am I saying? Bike riders are healthy, Green, saving Gaea — they’re virtuous!  The sidewalks and roads are theirs by divine right, and therefore they need not worry themselves about lesser mortals such as you and me. It’s your responsibility to watch out for them, you drudge, lest your body damage their bike.

Meanwhile, I have to keep looking warily over my shoulder when walking to the grocery store.


PS: My apologies to any civilized riders reading this. I just needed to vent.

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satire dwarf grumpy

So, I nearly get run over twice this morning on my way to the bus to work. First by an idiot bicyclist who comes up behind me and does nothing to signal she’s there. If I had taken one half step to the right at the wrong time, she’d have taken my knee out.

Note to bicycle-riders:  you do not own the right of way. You may feel virtuous for being healthy and saving the Earth or whatever, you may be hugging yourself and kissing the mirror in self-delight, but you are still riding a vehicle that can cause injury. Keep it on the street where it belongs, not the sidewalk. And if you can’t, at least have the courtesy to signal!

The other incident was the usual moron turning right but not looking right, thus not noticing the pedestrian on the curb, because said moron is too busy watching traffic on his left. I really think I should have the right to fire an incendiary round into the gas tanks of said morons

This has been your public-service gripe of the day.

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You want to jaywalk, buddy? Well, the city has a message for you:

Or maybe Nature was having a bit of a joke. 😀

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Okay, I’ve heard of stores and producers tracking purchases to see who’s buying what (What do you think those grocery store member’s cards are for?), but to plant a GPS tracking device in detergent so the manufacturer’s ad agency can follow you home is going a bit far:

Unilever’s Omo detergent is adding an unusual ingredient to its two-pound detergent box in Brazil: a GPS device that allows its promotions agency Bullet to track shoppers and follow them to their front doors.

Starting next week, consumers who buy one of the GPS-implanted detergent boxes will be surprised at home, given a pocket video camera as a prize and invited to bring their families to enjoy a day of Unilever-sponsored outdoor fun. The promotion, called Try Something New With Omo, is in keeping with the brand’s international “Dirt is Good” positioning that encourages parents to let their kids have a good time even if they get dirty.


Fernando Figueiredo, Bullet’s president, said the GPS device is activated when a shopper removes the detergent carton from the supermarket shelf. Fifty Omo boxes implanted with GPS devices have been scattered around Brazil, and Mr. Figueiredo has teams in 35 Brazilian cities ready to leap into action when a box is activated. The nearest team can reach the shopper’s home “within hours or days,” and if they’re really close by, “they may get to your house as soon as you do,” he said.

Once there, the teams have portable equipment that lets them go floor by floor in apartment buildings until they find the correct unit, he said.

Brazil has a very high crime rate; can you imagine how a woman going home from the market will feel if she notices she’s being followed, or there’s an unexpected knock at the door from someone claiming to be there to give her a prize?

Why do I have a feeling this will end in tears?

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So, a few minutes after I got home this evening, I heard lots of sirens and then helicopters overhead. Naturally, I had to go see what was up. This is what I found, just a few yards from where I live:

Lots of LAPD:

And still more were arriving:

While, behind the police barrier tape, some were talking and waiting for who-knew-what:

This many cops probably meant there was a gun involved, so I thought it best to stay behind the fence and keep the nice officers between me and… whoever they were looking for.

And, to add a surreal moment to this Southland scene, as I ran through the grounds of my building to get that last shot of cops in action, I passed our swimming pool … and two women passionately kissing.

Only in LA. 🙂

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I’m not asking for much

Just man-portable missiles I could fire at bike riders who nearly knock me down from behind when I’m walking. Angry


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That’s a relief. After today’s earthquake, I was scared to death I’d have a destroyed or at least severely damaged aquarium on my hands. Instead, I get home to find not even a drop has spilled, and the fish are doing their usual thing, wondering where the food is.


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Just some observations from the last couple of days.

Drivers who turn right from the center or left lane, left from the right or center lane, or go straight from a left-turn lane: Do they think they have a “You won’t die from your own stupidity” card?

A women’s clothing line that has the word PINK splashed in giant letters across the buttocks. And yet they get ticked when we stare?

People who order caffeine-free non-dairy cafe au laits. I think the humor is lost on them.

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