Back from the Southland, and all is well. The drives down and back were without incident, although at-times hard rain in the first hour of each journey made things occasionally tense. Midway, off to the right of I-5 outside Bakersfield, a tall column of smoke appeared. From afar it looked like a house fire or maybe even a plane crash; as it became clear, more like a volcano without a cone. Having seen "The Fires of Kuwait" I guessed correctly at what I was seeing; but it was strange because there weren't any indications of industry visible for miles, just empty fields. As I drew near the flaming torch within the gray clouds of rising smoke could be seen, spewing out inferno at an angle, like a wound in the earth. A portable flashing sign appeared, advising motorists to tune their radios to a certain frequency for "Fire Info", where a repeating message explained not to call, that it would take a few days to transport the equipment necessary to extinguish the oil well fire. I was reminded of Wyatt's Torch in Atlas Shrugged.
B was having problems with the end phase of a relationship, so I only saw her briefly at the office (my company's corporate headquarters). There I met some of the people I'd worked with seven years ago, on this project that's still alive after all that time, amazingly. Even though I was there for four years, I can't recall a thing about their software product now.
Made the requisite visits to the "Hi De Ho" comic shop in Santa Monica, where I bought nothing but did enjoy the photographs in a book called Cars Of Cuba <1>; and to the huge "Record Surplus" ("the last record store") on Pico Blvd. I easily spend entire afternoons browsing through their upstairs "balcony", where everything's a dollar.
Where I ate in LA:
I stayed in the "Continental Plaza" hotel near LAX. This is via the deal you can get with Traveler's Aid for lodging near the airport. Each terminal has a Traveler's Aid booth - asking there about hotels gets you a voucher, in the best cases good for half off. (I know all about this because I myself manned the booth in Terminal 2 Saturday afternoons between 1991 and 1993.) Up in my hotel room there's much chatter on the televised business news about the merger between Exxon and Mobil, how it's due to falling oil prices worldwide. Prices have dropped by dollars to the barrel, yet my costs at the pump remains stable. This is because, according to an article in the "LA Times",
Californians use a special cleaner-burning gasoline mandated by law that is more expensive to make and is produced by relatively few refineries, so that small changes in supply and demand keep it on a price trajectory that is separate from national trends.
Driving around LA in the weekday afternoon I indulged in one of my guilty pleasures, listening to John & Ken on KFI. Stable, moral John; and the generally rational but occasionally (and gleefully) fascist Ken, who at times is such a pinhead! They were discussing Furbies, the catalyst for Ken's assertion that only "trailer trash" are shopping early on the day after Thanksgiving - these are the people getting into fights over the desirable but-in-limited-quantity toys. (I'm still not entirely clear about what is a Furby, but this site provided some enlightenment.)
Something I noticed about LA: "Thrifty" is gone. That word always felt a little uncomfortable and out of place in excessive Los Angeles. From what I could tell, "Rite Aid" has absorbed all the "Thrifty" drug stores. Long-term Angelenoes, sing the now-obsolete refrain from their jingle with me:
bento - see this footnote in a previous entry
BLT - Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato
KFI - 640 AM, Los Angeles <3>
LAX - Los Angeles International Airport
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<1>It's an interesting place because of the quantity
of 1950s American automobiles there - well-maintained as
transportation since none were imported
after the embargo of the early 1960s was established.
<2>Rather than a temporary weekly affair, this is a
permanent place near
Beverly Hills, and a big LA tourist attraction pre-Disneyland.
<3>Home also of the loathsome Dr. Laura