Archives for December 2004

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tomorrow, today, whatever

Don correctly pointed out to me via email that at the time I said "tomorrow" in the last post, it was in fact today. Details, details.

I just finished my first final. I felt really good about it, so that hopefully means something. Every time midterms or finals come around I get reminded just how much I dislike having to write with a pen. It hurts after a while. My poor little hand and wrist isn't used to it.

I've got one more final in an hour, and then there'll just be one paper between me and really being done with the semester.

tomorrow will be a fun day

Tomorrow morning I've got a final at 8am.


Yikes. I get to go write about censorship for a couple hours. Four essay questions. Number one will be about violence. We watched Natural Born Killers in class, but I skipped it. Number two will be about porn. We watched Deep Throat (which I also skipped... even if I was about porn -- porn in the morning? that's just not right), Body Heat, and Bitter Moon. Questions three and four will be about political correctness. We watched Year of the Dragon (which I'm watching right now) and read Nation of Victims and Bias. I feel ok about the final as a whole, but 8am is so early. I'm going to watch a bit more of this film and then just go to bed.

Oh, and I also have my other final tomorrow at 11am. That's 40 multiple choice questions about communications and sports. Lots of stuff about how the media creates the story of sports, etc.

changing LA, 14 pages at a time

So Bob Hertzberg's has linked to my blog a couple times now. If you're an LA person and you haven't seen Hertzberg's site yet you really should check it out just to see the great job his staff's doing with their newslinks. They're very comprehensive in rounding up what's going on in LA.

That said, though, I don't think that all too many people are reading. The five or six mentions I've gotten have led to a total of 15 click-throughs. I get far more referred traffic from Jim winstead's blog (with 47 referred visits last month... I know, I'm big-time, eh?). On the non-blog-side, the most referral traffic I'm getting right now (not counting search engines) is from, linking to my four year old senior english paper comparing visions of the future in the books Snow Crash and Brave New World.

movies and food

I put together a pretty successful little trip this evening. I needed to pick up some food and a pair of DVDs that I was supposed to have watched in class during the semester. So tonight, after finishing up a paper, I made the rounds of and to see what I could do. One of the problems with my neighborhood (and the area around USC, oddly) is a lack of good video rental shops, so anywhere was going to be a bit of a drive. Blockbuster these days allows you to check what stores have what titles, and as luck would have it no one store in my area had both the titles I needed. But I think I did well for myself...

From my apartment I headed west and went 110N -> 101N. Exit Santa Monica, head north a few blocks up Western to Hollywood. At the Blockbuster there I picked up the DVD of Bitter Moon.

From there I headed east on Hollywood, and not far down the street at the three-way intersection of Hollywood, Sunset, and Virgil, I stopped and picked up the DVD for Body Heat. Oddly, these two Blockbusters have different pricing. A week rental is $3.99 at Hollywood/Western, while the same at Sunset/Virgil is like $4.30. Odd. Both get tax added on after.

From there I headed a block or two back west on Sunset, turned south on Vermont, and headed down to the Little Caesar's at Vermont/1st. $6.50 for a large pizza and an order of crazy bread, and I was headed back downtown.

Total trip time: a little under an hour.

i moved out here for a reason, you know

Ok, this crappy weather in LA thing has gone on long enough. It's cold, and cloudy, and they're calling for rain, and that's really just not what I agreed to when I moved out here. Today: high of 58 and rain. Tonight: low of 50 and showers.

Yesterday's low temp was 42 degrees, just two degrees off the date's record low. December 3 the numbers were reversed, with 40 as the actual and 42 as the previous record.

That's just not cool. I like the clean air from the rain, but these clouds and I aren't on speaking terms.

Dec. 21 I fly back to MI for a few weeks, but there at least the crappy weather is a part of the deal.

Downtown: Red Car RFP

CRA/LA (Community Redevelopment Agency) just posted the RFP (Request for Proposals) for their downtown Red Car study. Basically, this is will be a $100,000 study to "provide recommended development approaches for the resurrection of downtown red car trolley services." The RFP going out means that the study is about eight months away from completion, figuring two months to choose a proposal and then six months or so for the study. The tasks listed in the RFP look good and comprehensive. They ask a lot of the same questions I've been wondering about recently (curbside vs. median, traffic impacts, etc).

The interesting parts of the RFP don't come until page 19. Feel free to skip up to that point (unless you're someone actually considering putting in a proposal to do the study, I guess). On page 20 the tasks start, and as I said they seem very comprehensive. Quick vocabulary for you, since I had to look it up: kinematic envelope.

The next thing you'll want to look at is the 7 page conceptual design doc done by Korve Engineering in 2001. That's Exhibit C in the RFP doc list.

Perhaps most interesting to me right now is the question of what lane you run the trolley in. The Korve docs call for curbside running, but the problem there is that you lose any possibility of curbside parking on that side of the street. The other mentioned alternative is center median running, but that's problematic as well (left-turn backups as well as the problem of needing a safe passenger space out there). What I would see is a solution that put the trolley only on one-way streets (to give us a few more lanes to work with). I would then let the right lane be all-hour parking (1 hour during the day, but not a 4-6pm no stopping zone, etc). I would make the second lane a peak-hour bus lane and run the trolley tracks there. When it came time for a station, I would just cut the tracks into that right lane and board curbside. Obvious problem is that people would need to learn to be good parallel parkers or they'll slow up the bus/trolley traffic, but you could just make the parking spots big to cut down on the pressure there. But that's just me talking; I haven't done my homework yet to see what other true street-running systems have done lately.

Interesting stuff. It'll be fun to watch this study develop, and to see if hard numbers can do something to counter the built-in resistance from people who think a trolley will make far worse downtown's already bad traffic (or whether the numbers instead validate these fears).

i'm still here

Not much here in the way of updates lately, but that'll happen come this time of the year. I thought that things would be lighter after last Thursday, but it turns out I'm still going to be busy straight on through the end of finals.

So USC's in the Orange Bowl... And in an orgy of bad planning my flight back from MI is scheduled to arrive into LAX right as the game is supposed to begin. I'm going to need to be seeing what can be done about that.

free water, a rarity in these parts

The water's been non-potable (ie. undrinkable) in my building here at work for a week and a half or so now. I'm not sure exactly the details of how it happened, but the word is "ruptured pipelines." That doesn't really affect me, since I don't generally drink from the water fountain anyway, but until the lines are fixed the contracting firm is providing bottled water on each floor.

That means that while I wouldn't normally be drinking water out of the fountain, I now have free bottled water today to help me get myself a little more hydrated.

ah, promises*

So I haven't watched last night's debate yet -- I went to sleep at 4pm yesterday and didn't wake up until 9am this morning. I did tivo it, so I'm planning to check it out this evening. That said, I saw an interesting tidbit in today's LA Times coverage.

Villaraigosa, who represents an East Los Angeles council district, said he would extend the Red Line subway to the beach.

Did he really?

If so, do these candidates even listen to what they're saying up there?

I would absolutely love to see a Red Line extension to Santa Monica, but the logistics are absolutely breathtaking.

  • Let's say it's 13 miles down Wilshire from Wilshire/Western to the end. Right now the estimated costs for the 3 mile Red Line extension to Wilshire/Fairfax are running around $300 million/mile. So a 13 mile project would cost $3.9 billion.

  • You have to get the no tunnelling under Wilshire law overturned, or waste time going around its boundaries.

  • You have to get the sales tax restrictions on subway spending overturned.

  • And maybe most importantly, the city doesn't control the MTA. The MTA is a countywide agency on whose projects the city of LA gets a voice. A big voice, certainly, but still just a voice.

Hopefully what he really said, or at least what he really means, is that he'll do what he can to get the process started. Because no matter what there's no way a line, even one approved today, would be running before a newly elected mayor termed out.

I would think it might be cheaper to just build a beach at Wilshire/Western.

Updated (2pm): Revised my distance estimate to a more realistic 13 miles down Wilshire.

time for some sleep

So one more paper is now done, and another will be turned in late. I finished my big paper for speculative cinema in just the nick of time this morning (after working on it for about 20 hours straight... I think that's a record for me. no clue why so slow). I then went to two classes, almost fell asleep in both of them, and now I'm back here. It's 3:50pm and I'm ready for a nap. I've been up since 9:30 yesterday morning.

That said I'm not the only one going through this right now... my roommate Magilla didn't sleep last night either; he too spent his night paper writing.

mmmm... keg cans

We had a meeting at my apartment on Monday, and one of the attendees brought with her some coffee and a box of Mousse Pocky sticks. I now have a new appreciation for the culture around me and a desire to go explore more of its tasty treats.

This coffee she brought wasn't normal coffee: it was cold. Now iced coffee isn't that weird of a concept; while I haven't much drank intentionally cold coffee, I do see it on menus at coffee shops. It's my understanding that usually iced coffee is sweetened, but I drink my coffee black so I was perfectly happy that this was black. In fact the name was "Drink It Black" (third item on the page). Apparently canned coffee is a pretty common thing in Asia. I had never heard of it.

Having now corrected that lack of knowledge, I made another radical discovery. Japan has black cold coffee in a keg can. Look at this. Amazing. Given the college lifestyle, what better to accompany an all-nighter than a six-pack of coffee keg cans? It's like you're halfway to the weekend, but you're staying awake.

My new mission is to explore Little Tokyo until I find such a wonder. I don't know, though, if it'll happen before my all-nighter that's set to be held tonight.