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Below are the 11 most recent journal entries recorded in mark_time_42's LiveJournal:

Thursday, June 21st, 2007
11:34 pm
More Catch-up (and Mustard)
Riverside County Transit Research  --  March 14-16, 2007
      Southern California Transit Advocates produces an annual reference book for public transportation in the region. I usually wind up handling most of the Orange County section, a few of the city-operated shuttles in east and southeast Los Angeles County, and one oddball far-off corner of Sow Cal. This year’s excuse to take a couple days off for a research trip was Riverside County.
      I reserved a room at the North Palm Springs Motel 6 for a couple nights, then slogged through the PM commute on 3/14. I took a quick rest break at downtown Riverside, also to pick up the new schedules for Riverside Transit Agency. Once I knew when I was getting to Riverside, I tried calling old pal John Sally, but no surprise he be out of town. As spawled as Palm Springs is anymore, there’s still not much by that particular Motel 6…just a couple convenience stores and a Denny’s. They somehow never cease to amaze me with mediocre food and lousy service! Had a better, healthier dinner the next night across the freeway at a Wendy’s.   Former longtime Los Angeles Top40 DJ Dave Hull still does evenings at KWXY-FM, which is still “easy listening”.
      Was up long before crack of dawn, check out the Blythe bus system and still get back to Palm Springs early enough to do some riding there. “Desert Roadrunner” has 3 routes, all starting in front of City Hall. Route 1 circulates around the city, Route 2 connects the city with several places on the fringes of town, and Route 3 is a commute-hours express from “downtown” to the big employers…a couple state prisons in the desert west of town. I made sure to ride all of Route 2, partly as it included a side trip over the Colorado River into Ehrenberg, Arizona.  Interstate transit rides are uncommon, especially in these big states West of the Rockies.  When I got on, the driver asked where I was going? That happens often on these small-city shuttle lines, where they seem to know all their regular riders, where they get on and off, etc. I just wanted to ride one loop around, which I guess was OK. Reading the system brochure later, I notice there’s even a provision for this in the fare structure, that no one take more than two consecutive round-trips without paying another fare.  I was the only rider out to Ehrenberg, where we picked up someone heading into Blythe. We slowly built up riders out to and in Mesa Verde, most of them eventually getting off at the community college up on a ridge northwest of town. Lack of sleep caused me to nod off a few times en route.
      I got back to City Hall just in time to pick up Route 1. I occasionally happen upon a driver who wants to “talk shop”, and this one recognized my OCTA cap, being a former Orange County resident. This was good, as it kept me awake. This in-town route is almost a double-loop. I rode the west half, then got off at the point nearest City Hall to walk a bit, take a couple amusing bus stop photos (some stop signs there are attached to the sides of benches?!), get an extension cord at a hardware store, and grab some lunch at Popeye’s Chicken (including some sweet potato pie, yum) before heading back west.
      I’m mentioned SunLine in previous trip reports involving the Palm Springs area. They’ve been experimenting with alternative fuels for several years, including hydrogen. From the outside of their compound, it looks like the bus yard doubles as a natural gas conversion plant. Instead of their usual convenient “bus books”, all they had were individual schedules, and a very small route map. I would find out later they are in the middle of some route and schedule restructuring, so did not want to print all-schedule books until the route tweaking was finished. There was a serious backup in the left turn lane to get back to I-10. Turns out there was an accident on the freeway, so it was good I took a chance on some back road to skip a couple exits.
      Besides lack of eats, this Motel 6 also suffered from lack of bus service…3 miles to the nearest bus stop! I parked behind a convenience store, and waited for what would be a very late Line 14 to downtown Palm Springs (30 minutes behind?).   I was hoping for a decent/cheap dinner spot at or near where two useful bus routes connected. I knew from past experience the places along and near Palm Canyon where Lines 14 and 111 meet would be nice, but also very pricey. Many were running “misters” to spray water droplets on sidewalk-side diners. I did spot a deli a few blocks east on Tahquitz, mentally filed away for future reference.
      Line 111 is the backbone route for SunLine, running from Palm Springs to Indio along state highway 111, and connecting with all their other routes. I took the 111 to Cathedral City, then transferred to the 30 to ride north and west to where it crossed the 14. Just a few chain eateries around where the 30 starts. I noticed the old 7-11, whose Big Gulp was practically a life-saver on a couple previous hot-morning visits, was gone. Even less up at the 30/14 transfer point, across from a small mall east of downtown Palm Springs. The lateness of the 14 helped here, as if it was on-time, I may have faced a long, dull wait.
      Friday morning I was up early, this time to explore the Banning-Beaumont area on my way home. As with Blythe, I have passed through the area often, but had not stopped to smell the cow manure.   I also took the opportunity to finally get out and look at the large dinosaurs behind the Burger King in Cabazon.

      Banning and Beaumont each used to have its own small circulator-shuttle system, but they were combined into a regional “Pass Transit” about 3 years ago. Their online schedule and system map were out-of-date and only small portions of the new information was on any buses, but I managed to try out 3 of their 6 routes this morning. One other vital piece of info I was seeking for the Transit Guide was the Pass Transit mailing address. Nothing listed on their website, or in the phone book. No one at Banning City Hall knew anything, and the only bus schedule they had were many copies of the Riverside Transit Agency bus book. The Chamber of Commerce was of some help…the clerk actually knew that “Pass Transit” existed, and approximately where their bus yard was located. Her directions got me within a block of 550 California St. in Beaumont, which was pretty much on my way out of town.
      Heading west on I-10, I spotted the new Big Boy restaurant of Calimesa…just after passing the exit for it. I intended to get off at the next exit and go back, but next to the exit ramp was a Baker’s. I used to stop for dinner at a Baker’s near Riverside, during the couple months I worked the late shift at the Census Bureau in 2000, as it was the most edible of the 24-hour fast-food spots on the way home. Far as I can tell, they still have no locations outside Riverside and San Bernardino areas, and they have added to the odd mix of burgers, chicken, and Mexican. There are even some vegetarian items now! I had grilled chicken, a salad, and lots of iced tea. Only other stops on the way back were for Foothill Transit, Duarte and El Monte bus info.

Current Mood: nostalgic
Tuesday, June 19th, 2007
8:35 pm
Bob Visit Cont'd

Monday 6/18
Orange County, including the Tricky Dicky museum, Polly's pie restaurant, Downtown Disney, Crystal Cathedral grounds, and Angels-Astros.  We drove through Fullerton en route, but the only MarkTime historic site we passed was the former home of my PO Box.  Did pass the "Frat House" in Yorba Linda, aka my first Orange County address, easily identifiable by the fish mailbox.  The Richard Nixon museum/library/birthplace/resting place was much like my previous 2 visits, except this time there was someone to open and show off his birthplace house, and the presidential helicopter was new.  Downtown Disney was still a clean strip-mall with proces on steroids...how could we expect anything less?  A security checkpoint has been added between there and the Disneyland/California Adventures gates area (they should have added a realistic touch..."Are you bringing any fruit into California Adventure?).  We got to Angels Stadium way early.  Bob wanted to an El Pollo Loco, having read about them in a business section once, and he got to ride a bit of OCTA as the #50/Katella goes from near the stadium to across the street from one of the charbroiled chicken chain's City of Orange locations.  A roller-caoster game, as the Angels built a 4-1 lead over 5 innings, had a couple bad innings to fall behind 9-4 up to 7th-Inning-Stretch, battle back to tie in their half of the 7th, then regain the lead in the 9th.  Chone Figgins, who was batting all of .160 when Sweetie y me went with our church group to the June 1st game, has had some hot month!  After going 6-for-6 and driving in the winning run tonight, was up to .284.

Tuesday 6/19
Turista Day...NBC and Sony/Columbia Studios.  I could have been happier about the NBC studio tour in Burbank, but apparently a lot of filming/taping activity meant many of the soundstages were off limits, leaving the tour-guide to talk about what was happening behind a lot of heavy sliding doors.  We did get to sit in the audience area of the Tonight Show studio, listening to soundchecks by some of the band Sugarland.  The Sony/Columbia tour more than made up for it...we had not one but two very knowledgable and enthusiastic (though thankfully not over-the-top chipper) tour guides, and we got to poke our noses into several of the soundstages, plus a Foley (sound-effects) studio, and a backdrop artists' studio.

Bob heads back home tomorrow morning.  I'll be off the rest of the week, taking care of home stuff I should have done BEFORE his visit, and a bit of transit touring.

Current Mood: okay
Sunday, June 17th, 2007
10:15 pm
First, one addition to to the Cucamonga post...the city ballpark is on Jack Benny Way, just off Rochester.  Both names are a tribute to the mentions the city got on Benny's radio show ("This train going to Anaheim, Azusa, and CUC-a-monga").  This line was usually voiced by Mel Blanc, of Warner Bros. cartoon voice fame...why not a street for him, too?

Bob visit, continued:
Friday 6/15 -- Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood, including Little Tokyo, the City Hall area, Union Station, Olvera Street, Wax Museum, Walk of Fame, Grauman's Chinese (and Egyptian), and the Hollywood & Highland slopping center.  Latter was a bitch, as some red carpet non-event (apparently sponsored by Soap.net?!?) at Kodak Theatre meant some serious pedestrian detours on Hollywood Blvd, ugh aargh @#$%!?!   We had driven downtown, stopping for breakfast at Mike's Hockey Burger at the seriously industrial corner of Washington & Soto, then we parked at Union Station and rode transit all day.  Met Sweetie at her workplace and we 3 went to Dodger Stadium for the Dodger-Angels game.  [I see I already used the line "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. Brooklyn Dodgers of Los Angeles" in a 2005 post]  The blue team beat the red team.

Saturday 6/16 -- Morning in Pasadena and San Gabriel, via Rose Bowl, Colorado Blvd, Noah's Bagels for Breakfast, and the San Gabriel Mission.  Afternoon out to The Valley...Andrea had an appointment in Tarzana of all places, and Bob and I rode along.  We walked a bit along Ventura Blvd. while waiting for Sweetie, with stops at a somewhat interesting used CD store, and at Jamba Juice.  We had lunch at Good Earth in Studio City on the way back.  Andrea and Bob were both worn out by the day, so we all went to our respective abodes for the balance of the day.

Sunday 6/17 -- I had usher duty at church, so Bob was to be on his own for at least the morning.  After many, many false alarms and crossed-wires, we finally heard from Don-O...Bob drove up to Grover Beach City Whatever, while I wound up helping Andrea with a few home chores, etc.

2 days to go...Orange County tomorrow, thanks to us going to the evening's Angels-Astros game, and Tuesday maybe tours of NBC and Sony studios.

Current Mood: calm
Thursday, June 14th, 2007
11:29 pm
Rancho CUC...a-monga
Bob "Anthrocoon" Nelson arrived at Long Beach airport this afternoon, for a 6-day La-LA-Land adventure.   I met him down there, getting in a bit of a bus adventure via Long Beach Transit's routes 101 and 102.  We lunched at the Souplantation salad/soup/pasta bar in Lakewood, then took the long, slow slog out to Rancho Cucamonga for a minor league ballgame.  Was only my second minor league game since moving out here, and my first California League game ever (still dunno why I never got to games in Cotati/Rohnert Park when the "Redwood" team played there, or to San Jose, I know not).

We made a point of getting two seats on the 3rd base line, so the sun was not in our face before sundown.  However, turns out the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes is one of those teams with a "Best Seats in the House"-type promotion.  This usually invoves a couple huge recliners, and sponsored by a local furniture store.  THey needed two people together for the game, so guess who they chose!  Nice seats, except for a railing bar partially blocking view of home plate, and they were on the 1st base side, sun in face for about 30 minutes.

THe Quakes are the California League Class A affiliate of the "Los Angeles" Angels of Anaheim.  THey would beat the Lake Elsinore Storm (San Diego Padres affiliate) 4-3 in 10 innings.

5 days to go...

Current Mood: tired
Tuesday, June 12th, 2007
7:00 pm
Catch-Up Post #1 - Chicago Trip 4/07
Wednesday 4/25
      My morning commute is fairly reliable, despite the distance and number of buses involved. I almost always take the MTA Lines 266 and 62, getting off at Norwalk Blvd. for a quick bit of breakfast before catching either the next 62, or the Norwalk Transit 4 or 4-A, or just walking to the Metrolink train station. I take the train to City of Orange, a long walk or short shuttle ride to the office. By far the weakest link is the first bus, the 266 on Rosemead Blvd. This route is operated by a cut-rate contractor, using hand-me-down equipment such as 20-year-old rattle-traps, or dinky shuttle-craft with the seating arrangement apparently meant for school children (narrow seats, narrow rows, narrow aisles, lots of big blue-collar riders). Even the contractor-driven buses MTA had purchased in this century have serious issues…the fare boxes are broken no less than 9 days out of 10, the stop-request signals work maybe half the time, and sometimes at least one seat is missing. Sometimes they are late, which for me is only bad if it’s over 15 minutes late. Sometimes they don’t show up, which sucks as the next scheduled bus is thus standing-room-only, and I do miss my connection. On Fridays it often arrives early, which in the bus biz is at least as bad as not showing at all, and I miss that one too often even when I can leave early to catch it. 
      The afternoon commute, on the other hand, is extremely variable. The shuttle back to the train is usually OK. It does have its moments for a few days after a service change, while the new operators get used to the schedules, all the turns, and the traffic flow. When I remember to do so [Note to myself: Do this again on Monday, June 11th], I get out there early on the first day after a service change and guide the operator through all the stops and all the turns. The trains have trouble keeping their schedules in the afternoon. I can’t figure out why they are late at Orange, as there is little of the freight traffic that so often gets in the way from Fullerton west. What I take from Norwalk station depends on what time we finally arrive…if more than 5 minutes late, I pretty much count on missing the Norwalk Route 8, though sometimes that’s because they decided not to run that particular trip anyway. My fallback is walking over to the nearest MTA 62 stop, which I can count on getting unless we’re really behind schedule, if only because that bus route is so late so often in the afternoon. How late it is determines what I catch home after, and how far I wind up having to walk home from its nearest stop.
      I mention all this within my Chicago trip report as this nerve-racking unpredictability affected my ride home to get my luggage. The commute home this Wednesday approached worst-case, so a few things were left undone in my haste to transfer items from my daily backpack (unimportant things like cell phone, camera, keys, etc.) to my baggage, and then lug the three bags to the Montebello 50 bus stop for the ride to downtown Los Angeles, first leg of the home-to-LAX adventure. Had I gotten home a few minutes earlier, I would have preferred using the more direct routing of MTA 266-Metro Green Line-LAX Shuttle, though again I could not count on the 266 either being on-time, or having a big enough bus to allow me to struggle on and off with luggage. The Montebello 50 is also chronically late in the afternoon and evening, but I can count on it to show up, and with generally well-maintained buses. I got to the stop at Washington and Loch Alene a few minutes early, and the bus arrived almost on time…but kept going without even slowing down!?! After a few seconds of shock, I grabbed my bags and trundled in the direction of Rosemead Blvd., just in case the MTA 266 was late. It was, just not late enough. I called Montebello bus dispatch, who by now no doubt have my name, phone number, and picture on a bulletin board somewhere. They transferred me to the Customer Service voicemail; no surprise, I have not heard back to this day (5/23/07 as this is being typed). I called for a taxi, and $32 later I was at Union Station. The wrong end for catching the Flyaway bus to LAX, but I did have 8 minutes to pass through the entire facility to get to the transit plaza, no problem.
      All this rush-rush put me in a great mood for dealing with the next phase, the airport. I will eventually write an essay on what I think of LAX, but it does have its good moments. Such as this one. From off the bus to check-in to security to the food court near the gate, it was maybe 25 minutes, and at least half of that was the long shlep from Terminal 7 (where Untied Airlines has its check-in and baggage claim) to Terminal 6 (where many of United’s gates are exiled). I had time to casually savor my $8 bratwurst and fries combo, while watching the Golden State Warriors beating the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the San Francisco Giants having their way with the Dallas Mavericks. Or, maybe…could see both screens from my seat, just too far to read the scores, and forget trying to hear anything in the sausage shop/microbrew bar/Starbucks combo.
      Aisle seats allow a bit more stretch room than window seats. I won’t even consider “middle” seats anymore. Which reminds me, why would airlines consider the wider aircraft worth hyping? They just mean more middle seats (who wants to be in the 3rd of a 5-seat row, especially with an unexpected bout of stomach flu?), more people fighting over carry-on space, and slower passenger loading and unloading. I don’t even want to THINK about the double-deck Airbus A380, now being tested even as airports decide if their worth the necessary terminal space expansion.
      LAX provides regulation-size resealable clear plastic bags, for carrying what small liquid bottles they allow in carry-on luggage. I just place mine in checked luggage, but picked up a couple in case I happen to need to take a quick weekend carry-on-only trip, and to send one to ex-APA person Bob Nelson for his upcoming first visit to Pacific Daylight Time.
Thursday 4/26
      I forgot how good rain smells. Sister Betsy picked me up at O’Hare. She had laser eye surgery recently, so had trouble seeing with the rain. I took a nap, then rode with Betsy on some errands. The Polish deli near her closed, so she now has to go up near Milwaukee and Bryn Mawr. Even with my ethnic background, I didn’t know it was possible to have 30 or more different hams.
      I called Andrea at least once each day of my visit. It was getting more and more obvious the new granddaughter was arriving Soon, so Sweetie was very distracted and more tired every time I checked in.
Friday 4/27
      My one full day to run around, a bit cold & wet. Betsy dropped me off at the Harlem/Higgins ‘L’ station. I was going to head straight downtown, but spotted a Pace suburban bus with an odd route number, 423. There are similar route numbers over in Wilmette and Glenview, but no 400-series was over this way when I lived here? One was getting ready to leave, heading for the Wilmette ‘L’ station. Sounded like an adventure, so I hopped aboard. Besides, logging any new lines in the Chicago area, especially in Chicago or the north and northwest suburbs, is a challenge. Far as I can tell, this one long route was pieced together from former Pace routes on Harlem Ave., something in Glenview, and one of the short community routes in Wilmette and Winnetka. I got to see all the housing and commercial development going in at the old Glenview Naval Air Base, and all the big-box stores filling up the open land between the northern suburbs. Wilmette is the north end of the Evanston ‘L’ line (the Purple Line in present-day CTA lingo). Took that from end to end, and connected to the Howard (“Red”) Line to downtown. Nearing Berwyn Ave. station, I needed a bathroom break, so I got off, took the 92/Foster bus west to Clark, and walked a block north to “Kopi: A Travelers Café”. Was a great day for some of their cinnamon hot tea and some exotic goat cheese sandwich.
      Continuing south on the Howard Line, I had intended to exit at Washington St. subway station, but I discovered too late there was none. The station I wanted was now called Lake St., I guess the better to connect with the State/Lake station on the Loop ‘L’, and the former continuous platform down to Monroe St. was closed off and dark.
      After my bit of downtown wandering, and the long hoof up to the new Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) headquarters out at Lake and Jefferson, I entered the Clinton ‘L’ station to try out the new Pink Line. Nothing new about the any of the tracks it uses, , but there were a couple bits of track I hadn’t been on since they hadn’t been in revenue service since before I was born. After circling the Loop clockwise, it heads west on the Lake St. (Green) Line to Paulina Ave., then heads south on a stretch that was originally built eons ago for a short-lived crosstown “Metropolitan” Line, but after the Congress/Dearborn/Lake/Milwaukee subway was built, this piece of track survived only as a connector track to allow equipment to run from the “Blue” Line to the rest of the system. No stations have been added to this mile since the Pink Line started, but I could see placing one at Madison/Paulina, to serve the United Center (Bulls and Blackhawks) and all the semi-gentrified development pushing west from downtown. The rest of the Pink Line uses the Cermak Branch of the “Blue” Line. The Pink Line operates every day all day, while the Blue Line’s use of the Cermak Branch is now limited to weekday commute hours.
      Easiest way to get new-for-me CTA bus routes is also to use variations on traditional routes. CTA has expanded upon their recent return to limited-stop routes overlaid on the regular routes. This trip, I would ride about half the X54 on Cicero Ave., much of the X9 on Ashland, and a piece of the X80 on Irving Park that I’d missed on my Sept. ’05 visit. One of the X54 stops was across from the venerable City News magazine stand, so I had to get off there.
      Sisters Laurie and Susan were due in about 7 PM Friday, but they got in after 9…obviously Laurie was not doing the driving J. That was OK, as Betsy had more preparation time, and we got to watch most of that evening’s Cubs game.
Saturday 4/28
      Festivities wouldn’t start until “around noon”, so I headed out for a bit of walk, mostly around Norridge. Still a nice place to walk as newer suburbs go, but some of its older, smaller bungalows with large front lawns are being replaced by dreaded mini-mansions. I wound up at the Polish produce market at Lawrence/Cumberland, to buy some apples, some Polish chocolate-covered plums, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a display of Stella d’Oro cookies. They were common in Chicago stores until the 1990s, then vanished. Saw a few of their cookies in Buffalo a couple years ago, but not the sweet puffy Anginetti cookies I’d loved so much. I had mentioned them to Andrea the first time we visited an Italian market, and every time since she would bee-line for the cookie section at any Italian market we were near and start pointing at anything that looked exotic. I had to buy a bag, and to make sure at least some survived the trip home to show her.
      I got back to Betsy’s just as her son/my nephew arrived, with his girlfriend. Rest of the day was a blur of loud chatter, food, and loud chatter.
Sunday 4/29
      Susan and Laurie headed back to Buffalo about noon. I had to head down to the Midway Airport area to meet old radio & travel pal George Greene, who was driving through the southern fringes on the way home to Akron from a weekend in Peoria.
      I went by way of Quimby’s Bookstore, which still has a good supply of zines in the front section, even if some of the issues were obviously still there from my last visit. I made a point of checking for transit-oriented zines. There were several issues of Watch the Closing Doors, which I already trade for. There were a couple really old issues of Journal of Ride Theory, which had some transit articles amongst the amusement park ride humor…wonder if this zine still exists? Yet another thing to add to the “Google, Time Permitting” list. I also found The Constant Rider Omnibus, a nice reprint of all the first 3 issues. I had swapped for issue #1 back in 2000 or so, but never got another. Maybe she will be impressed by the review I gave it in the May 2007 issue of Transit Advocate and wish to trade again? No sign of any other transit zines, known or unknown. I did get to trade for a few issues of TwentyBus and their tales of San Francisco MUNI riding back in the mid-90s, but I hadn’t seen one since until a Southern California Transit Advocates member got hold of one somewhere about 2 years ago. The author had moved to Los Angeles (small world) and wrote one issue but sounded like that would be it. If I find that copy around my apartment ever again, must attempt to make contact. I forget the name of the other transit zine I recall seeing…this one was back in the mid-80s, issued by a radio tape trader I knew then in the San Diego area. When I visited San Diego the first time in 1993, the bus and Trolley schedules brought back memories of that zine…he had deliberately made his zine the same size, and with a similar enough cover design, so as to distribute them in San Diego Transit schedule racks! By the way, am still looking for the zine store that supposedly exists somewhere east of Hollywood.
Monday 4/30
      Alana Nicole Gonzalez debuted in Whittier about 3 AM Pacific time, after a labor that started Saturday evening. The grandmother was proud, but understandably hard to understand…would not get many details for a few days, and I’m sure there’s still things I haven’t heard yet.
      When old radio/travel/baseball/hockey pal John Clemmer was out my way last year, he made sure I told him if/when I was next in Chicago. He dropped off his kids at school and drove up to Berwyn for lunch. I stopped in Oak Park on my way down to Berwyn, as I was curious about the new Oak Park Shuttle bus. Well, it’s really a small van, and does not start operating until 10 AM so I could only try a small piece of the route and still get to Czech Plaza by 11 AM. I made sure to order something that came with dumplings. The Czech version is more like sliced bread, very similar to the bread portion of an Asian steamed bun but without the filling. We were both stuffed, so got our included dessert to go. I wound up having my poppy seed cake that evening, helping to kill time between buses.
      I had a few hours before meeting old radio/train museum pal Norm Geuder up in the Old Neighborhood (Edgewater/Rogers Park era), so I did a bit more adventure riding, and tracked down the new HQ of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). Their former digs had many racks with every bus and train schedule in the six counties of northeastern Illinois. The current place has just a small rack of Chicago and regional transit system maps and commuter train skeds, and a couple touch-screen kiosks to print out any needed schedules.
      Norm is recovering from past health problems, but bus rides and long walks are still out. He has gotten to know every decent delivery place in his area, and called in an order to his local pasta place. The sausage & pasta dish I got was enough for two meals (guess what was Tuesday breakfast!).
      The Indian/Pakistani portion of Devon Ave. is nuttier than ever…even this late on Monday night, with half the stores already closed for the day, the streets and sidewalks were nuts, and the 155/Devon bus was stuffed. As usual, the transition to the old Jewish portion of Devon was abrupt, dark and quiet.
Tuesday 5/1 and after
      Slowly packed up all my stuff for the mid-afternoon flight back. As usual, wound up having to box up some items, mostly the bus maps, tapes, and the cookies, to mail myself at work. Got the box on Friday already.
      I really should have taken the rest of the week off, even just to stay home and recover from another hectic few days in Chicago and/or with family. Alas, too much to do at work, and with the transit advocate group…it was already newsletter time, and we had tables at two events the next weekend, the regular annual one at Fullerton, and an alternative energy fair in Rancho Palos Verdes. I’d never been on the Palos Verdes peninsula before, and the group president and I agreed that someone needed to keep an eye on the guy who volunteered to run our table at that event, so I made the long transit trek over there Saturday morning. Despite the “green” nature of the event, it could not even pretend to be transit-friendly…1½ miles mostly downhill from the nearest bus stop, and guess what going back. I left the event early, as the guy, the lack of sleep, and the lack of Andrea conspired to give me one nasty headache.
      Did not get to see Andrea until Sunday afternoon, and then it was mostly to help with lots of deferred yard work.

Current Mood: groggy
Saturday, May 12th, 2007
6:10 pm
Not Gone, But Forgotten

Oops, almost two years!  My sweetie has been delayed, so I have a couple hours to "kill" checking old e-mails, etc.

Let's see, what's new since last post?  Not much....

*  No longer president of Southern California Transit Advocates...now just vice president.  I am also the newsletter editor, which I consider even more important than my executive board seat
*  Still in two Alternative Press Associations (APAs), though one has changed hands and name (Passions is now Grassroot Reflections), and the other is long overdue arriving in my mailbox (APA Centauri, oh where art thou?)
*  My zine MarkTime is still in business, and still my preferred means of spreading my news and opinions to the masses
*  Still with Sweetie, 4½ years later
*  Just met up with all my direct living relatives, a couple weeks ago in Chicago.  Of course, I made a pilgrimage to Quimby's Bookstore, which still carries lots of zines
*  Slooooooowly cleaning out my apartment.  Just went through a big batch of old 3½" floppy disks, to seek out old articles and photos, and then to send them on to a friend who still uses the disks for storing data.

Will be sure to post some detailed trip and life blatherings in the next week or so.  Be Seeing You!

Current Mood: restless
Monday, August 1st, 2005
10:32 pm
Travel Season Has Begun
Just back from a long weekend on the road with Sweetie. Hey, just realized we beat our record for most time together "alone" (without any of our friends or relatives taking part). Incomplete snippets of the past weekend's action:

We left Friday noonish, after a delay caused by her being out of clean towels, needing to shower after washing and drying a batch, etc. I had had this hope of avoiding the crowds one of our days at the Gilroy Garlic Festival by getting there Friday. With the late start, however, the next best thing was to take a different route. Instead of the usual boring 5, we wound up taking the slightly more scenic, more roundabout 101. Traffic basically sucked til downtown Santa Barbara. We passed within a mile of the exiled Don-O's Dog Pound...I pointed out a few 101-visible highlights from my May visit, but did not stop or even slow down.

Our lodgings were much closer to motel-weak Gilroy this visit. Hollister had cleaned up a little since my mid-80s visit to the then-legendary KHIP radio. Friday dinner, suggested by the Best Western night clerk, was The Vault, a former Bank of America downtown. Good chow, and some entertainment...the fire department stopped by here and the movie theatre next door (perhaps the "Human Torch" in Fabntastic 4 was too realistic?). While we were leaving, we saw a couple of them across the street, in a doorway with a spotlight...making shadow puppets!

Gilroy Saturday, the usual hot & crowded. Again, much of the time was spent in the misted Wine Tasting tent. Between that, 3 winery visits, and Casa de Fruta, we each sampled a dozen wines in just over 24 hours. Yum.

We spent the evening in San Juan Bautista, another cutsey antiques town. The local mission was in "Vertigo". Several worthy restaurants there. I was aiming us towards the "Cutting Horse" steakhouse, but their sign was not spotted while driving the main street. We parked just off the west end of the main drag, and found a little German restaurant. After a decent dinner, we walked around, and found the steak place almost across the street. Also saw a couple interesting Mexican eateries, plus Chinese, Italian, and even Basque.

Sunday breakfast, at suggestion of the day clerk, was Jerry's in Hollister, a decent enough coffee shop. Service was a tad slow, but that was OK, it gave us ample time to plow through the Sunday San Francisco Chronic-Ill. Back up to Gilroy, though only for the wineries and the Outlet Mall, then fighting the usual nasty traffic on the eastbound Route 152 for Casa de Fruta then home. Well, not quite...Andrea surprised me by broadly hinting thatit would be nice to find a place for a good nap, preferably in Los Baños. That's where we stayed for our 2003 Gilroy trip, and she didn't have to add that she hoped we'd have dinner at the Woolgrowers' French-Basque restaurant, too. Some of those places do not even have Sunday hours, so I told her Plan B would be the Andersen's pea soup restaurant in Santa Nella. Didn't need to do that, as the Basque place was still serving that evening. Fewer courses than in '03. but so what, still too much food.

Today, Andrea surprised me again, as we took an even more scenic route back...State Route 33 to Ojai, then 150-126-23-101 back to LA.

Current Mood: gotta hit the road more often!
Sunday, July 3rd, 2005
7:17 pm
One Month Later...
As already noted, this "Blog" is not the be-all and end-all of my writing activities. For me, the Papernet is still the place to be.

I somehow made it through nearly every event mentioned in my last, pre-June entry. I may eventually post details, but as usual you're better off getting my printed zines for any long, involved report, or anything quicker than through a Blog.

The Headline News version to the month (now to get the crawl on the bottom of your screen to work :) :

* SWING OUT SISTER - fun show, though no Andy Connell!?! and no slow numbers (such as "Forever Blue", sniffle)
* SAN DIEGO - semi-fun weekend...Cubs won twice, a favorite record store moved but I tracked it down, and more different transit lines used. Alas, could go as it was a Sweetie-free weekend, aargh! At least this time she let me know in time to plot out this trip
* WASHINGTON NATIONALS - Angels at them for dinner the night I went, though won the other two games
* LA ANGELS OF ANAHEIM VS. BROOKLYN DODGERS OF LA - the red team beat the Blue team

"Newsletter Publisher" has again been added to my transit-activist job description. The founder and long-time publisher of the "Transit Advocate", a monthly bulletin from the Southern California Transit Advocates, is taking a 6-month break to prepare for married life. I'm writing this here Blog entry while waiting for a couple articles to be e-mailed here, then it's back to setting up the July issue. Will sign off for now, but will return later if nothing's in my e-mail box yet.

Current Mood: a quickie between zines
Tuesday, May 31st, 2005
8:51 pm
Activity Calendar Update
Some additions and changes to the upcoming kibbles & bits of free-time activities:

* 6/1 - Swing Out Sister rare live US appearance
* 6/4 - Kid's Day at LA Library (tentative)
* 6/3-5 - Cubs @ Petco Park (1, maybe 2 games possible)
* 6/11 - Southern California Transit Advocates meeting, Los Angeles (see you there?)
* 6/13-15 - Nats @ Anaheim Stadium of Anaheim (maybe get to 1)
* 6/24-26 - LA @ LA of Anaheim (no less than 1)
* 7/29-31 - Gilroy Garlic Festival
* 9/1 - Sweetie Day
* mid-September - Sisters' big road trip

Likely no new entries here until next Monday...yep, one of those weeks, which of course is both good and bad. (More to write about, less time to do the writing!) See yah.

Current Mood: tired
Monday, May 30th, 2005
6:50 pm
OK Weekend, After All
[The telenovela continues, after these promos for soccer games and the usual Tom Green/Johnny Knoxville-level comedy shows on Tememundo]

"P" did call back about 1:00 Saturday afternoon, but would indeed be traveling with his fiance and future stepson. I begged off, officially as I was not wanting to bum them out so much. True to a point, however I think the fiance would have bugged me too much. Strong opinions are one thing, however when based on faulty data things can get just a bit nasty for no good reason.

Sweetie checked in at last about 2:30, on her way home from driving Big Brat to the Fullerton train station. Big Brat was to drive down to visit Little Brat at school in Mission Valley. I did not ask why the change. Sweetie was a bit down due to a minor cold, so did not want to go with our original plans (visits to some Wilshire museums and restaurants), but did sorta OK my staying over Saturday and maybe Sunday. I wound up there until about 3:30 this afternoon, when she dropped me off on the way back to Fullerton to meet Big Brat's train. A very quiet couple of days, mostly cable TV (including much of the "Law & Order SUV" marathon, though she'd often click away during commercial breaks and not return until the commercial break on another station), and a couple videos ("While You Were Sleeping" [with me pointing out a few places we visited or passed on our Chicago trip last year], and another I'll have to mention later if/when I remember it). We popped out only for meals, and for some gardening Sunday morning.

No new restaurants to report, as her cold limited how adventurous we were...kept close to Sweetie's place, and had nothing more exotic than the "$6.95 all-you-can-eat" at walking-distance, oft-visited Casa Jimenez. We did consider trying the new "Zen Buffet" for Sunday dinner, but neither of us were hungry enough to justify $10.99, and besides I have a coupon at home but did not have my house keys when we were near. Settled for ho-hum "Hong Kong" strip-mall Chinese. Decent breakfast Monday at the Chef's in La Puente. Lunch at BJ's Pizza (no relation to the BJ so-called "Chicago-style" chain) in Montebello. As often in California, they are chintzy and wimpy with the tomato sauce, but the pizza was still reasonably edible.

Will be a bad week for seeing Sweetie...I'll have to miss our Wednesday class for Swing Out Sister, and the Little Brat will be up for the weekend because Sweetie's sister will be down for the weekend. The sister does seem to like me OK, but that's too much family to get Sweetie away for long. We did have the previously-scheduled Kid's Day at the LA Central Library, but I get the feeling Sweetie will conveniently "forget" she'd signed us up. I would love to go, but it would not be the end of civilization if we missed it...IF SHE LETS ME KNOW IN TIME. Always plenty of other one-day and weekend events to consider, long-running projects requiring attention, etc. Next weekend's "Plan B" is to take in one or two Cubs games in San Diego.

The latest APA Centauri arrived in Saturday's mail. It was a special "milestone" mailing, #150, however even with my 11-page Baseball one-shot, the mailing is a wee bit on the wimpy side...too few contribs, averaging too few pages, and nearly all lacking mailing comments. Also got a tape-letter from one of my Ohio pals, yet to be heard, and a free lunch for 2 at a Central Coast restuarant, the latter courtesy a drawing at the Avila Beach Fish & Farmer's Market last weekend.

Which reminds me, still no follow-up word from Don-O, so guess if there's anything to tell about his Los Angeles & Burbank visits, I'll find out in his blog rather than first hand aargh.

Current Mood: contemplative
Saturday, May 28th, 2005
9:38 am
Left Hanging
With both of Sweetie's daughters out of town, zine-pal Don-O IN town, and a local transit pal heading off to maybe the eastern Sierra, I would not be hanging 'round the house wondering what if anything will be going on this weekend.

Sweetie had in fact used "we'll have the weekend" to keep from from so much as touching her soft, beautiful tush Tuesday night. I did go to her place last night, Casa Garcia dinners in hand, but once dinner and the DVD of the wacky Norwegian film "Elling" were finished, she all but pushed me out the door with a vague "maybe tomorrow". This sort of think is getting so old, it's now eligible for ½-fare on the bus.

By leaving me hanging and bouncing on the bungee cord, transit pal "P" is also left partially hanging. Sure he can just take off with just his fiance and her son, but being the decent pal he can sometimes be, "P"'s holding off writing me off until fiance's morning class is over this morning. He's even willing to put up with me being even more grumpy and frustrated than normal. Of course, this is partly because my presence will hopefully take some of the edge off "P's" fiance's own grumpiness (examples: "Why can't you be more normal? When you getting a haircut? When's our wedding? Who what when where why and how about everything else?") and the fiance's son's overly-chatty, overly-clinginess. I did enjoy the ride with "P" on a complete circuit of the "City of Bell Gardens Trolley" mini-bus yesterday.

Don-O's probably sick of my face from my visit to Manhattan Beach-in-exile last weekend. I no doubt forced him to take more buses in one day (including every local San Luis Obispo route that operates on weekends) than he normally takes in a week, and hey Don-O drives even less than I do? Anyway, he left me a brief message when he arrived in Los Angeles Thursday night, but left no contact number and has not been heard from since. I had Friday off, plus today through Monday, and was hoping to at least join him for the pilgrimage to Amoeba Records and/or a few of the sights that inspired Charles Bukowski to write such happy lines about the lesser Hollywood area. I may just have to head out that direction on my own later this day, while the welcome early June Gloom keeps the Solar Death Ray at bay.

Good stuff soon:
* Rare live Swing Out Sister concert, Anaheim
* Cubs in Los Angeles and San Diego (though most likely will miss going, ugh)
* Children's reading day at Los Angeles Central library
* APA Centauri mailing due in my mailbox "any day now"

Current Mood: Bad Luck to cross MY path
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