Monthly Archives: November 2006

free windows

Oh, Microsoft, are you THAT afraid of Google and the power of Writely?

home from Pittsburgh

I love coming home from colder places. It always makes me appreciate L.A., even if it can be a bit of a hellhole at times.

I am far too tired and lazy to write up all my Adventures in Pittsburgh(TM), but I will cover some basics now and leave the rest for later. First of all, I was there to meet the boyfriend’s family, and they were absolutely wonderful. Paul grew up in the Pittsburgh suburbs, in a township to the west called “Moon” (no, really) by the airport. His parents, like mine, still have the same house they did before he and his brother were born. And I loved meeting his parents, and finding out where he came from, and exploring the ravine he and his brother played in as boys (their equivalent of my rocky beaches in Oak Bay).

However, the most hilarious parts of the trip came on Friday, when I got to eat a cheesesteak at Uncle Sam’s and visit the Senator Heinz Regional History Museum. Which was an excellent museum. ESPECIALLY the room devoted to – guess what – ketchup. Heinz history, which I suppose also represents the outsourcing of American kitchens to mass produced, commercially sold foods.

Other adventures took place. Pittsburgh was interesting in a lot of ways. Non West Coast America fascinates me – I am such a product of the West that it’s actually hard for me to connect the idea that I live in the same country as cities like Pittsburgh. But it was awfully similar to Seattle in some ways – including its history as the jumping off point for expeditions further west in 1800, just like Seattle was the outfitting point for expeditions to Alaska in 1900. And then, in other ways, it was very different, representative of the trends that took place in east coast America, especially the industrialized North, throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Seattle, San Francisco, L.A., none of them ever had the industrialization transformation that east coast Northern cities did, simply because they were built post industrial era. And it was the east coast, not the West, that received the millions of immigrants from Europe in the 1900s, resulting in massive immigrant ghettoes of Jews or Italians or Irish. So visiting Pittsburgh was a refresher course in Post-Bellum America, because it was so typical of those sweeping trends that, eventually, took place in the South before they would take place in the Northwest.

I get distracted, I go on history tangents, it’s late, I should be asleep. But I’ll get through Pittsburgh eventually, and probably post more entries in the immediate future. It was a wonderful weekend though, with my much-loved boyfriend and his extremely kind family, and I’m sure that, because those are going to be my in-laws, Pittsburgh has not seen the last of me.

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angry pothead dinner theater

I’m helping my landlord out by renting the studio next to my apartment. He promised me $150 and to allow someone else to take over my lease. Sold!

Now, some background: this is the studio previously inhabited by the neighborhood pothead. He’s maybe 22, shaved head, Elvis Costello glasses, sleeves of tattoos – and a bad pot habit. Really bad pot. Skunk. Clouds of it coming out of his screen door. I don’t smoke myself, but I know low grade crap when I smell it. And I know, when there’s other idiot early twentysomethings coming and going, that the neighbor is likely dealing.

When I first looked at the place two weeks ago, it was apparent that there had also been a grow-op there as well. Bright lights, leaves on the floor, hydroponic growing supplies. I wanted to inform him that life is NOT a Showtime series, but didn’t, and instead, just asked that he clean up so I could show the place. Of course, that didn’t happen, and the hundred-odd emails I got from a Craigslist post became worthless as days went by, and I either had to show a filthy, marijuana-infused den, or turned people away and stalled.

Ten days after I’d expected to have a clean studio to show, I got tired of it, and called the landlord and the pothead. I told the pothead that if he didn’t have his stuff out and the place clean soon, I’d call a professional hauler and a cleaning team, and he would lose his deposit to pay for it. I told the landlord the same thing, and he said he trusted me to do whatever was necessary, and if I paid for anything, to take it out of my rent.

Amazingly enough, that got the pothead in gear. I came home Saturday to find him cleaning, and to find a totally different apartment. I lent him some PineSol, and the next day, when I showed the place, it was actually decent.

Cut to today. I have OPEN HOUSE ads on Craigslist for it. But I’d had it open for about ten minutes when the pothead charged in and demanded his key. I told him he had to promise not to lock it. He said he wouldn’t, so I could show it – and then locked it. Cue shouting match. He insisted the landlord was fucking him over; I told him that I didn’t care. If he didn’t unlock the apartment right then, I would call a locksmith to do it, and if I had to do that, he would pay for it out of his deposit. I got him to unlock the place by promising to call the landlord, and then he took off with the key.

And then he came back, still yelling about how he didn’t give thirty days notice, so he still had ten more days. Except he hasn;t paid for those days. Which I pointed out, which led to MORE yelling about how he needed his money. The prospective applicant looked terrified at this, as she filled out the forms at my living room table, but my roomate and I explained the situation, and she seemed OK with it.

An hour later, the landlord’s buddy shows up (another Russian) and adds a new lock, handing me the new keys. Now, I can lock the place with keys that the pothead – and his friends – don’t have copies of. The pothead is getting his deposit back as well, but seriously. Angry Pothead Dinner Theater is sometimes more entertainment than I can handle.

not posted to metblogs after all

decided this was more a personal blog than a item:

While we’ve been having Summer, Part Three here for the last two weeks, it’s been storming up in the Pacific Northwest. There have been record rains, resulting in floods from Oregon to British Columbia. But it really hit home this week when I found out that the water in Vancouver was actually unsafe due to the rain. The storm has stirred up the resevoir so much that the water is silty, and residents of Vancouver, as well as some other smaller BC cities like Nanaimo, have been told to boil tap water before drinking it.

What does this have to do with Los Angeles? More than anything (even watching Jericho), it made me feel the need to stock up on those emergency kit items. Vancouver, BC is the last place on earth I would expect to have drinking water issues. If there’s a run on drinking water in a city that gets THAT much rain, then I feel compelled to make a safety announcement to Los Angeles, where water in its river and rain forms is much more scarce. Please buy your emergency drinking water now.

As for Vancouver, the worst of the crisis is over. Jeffrey at Metroblogging Vancouver reports that coffee shops are able to serve again. Water is heated enough in the process to make the coffee, although it still must be boiled before drinking directly. But I’m taking this seriously: if I need clean water to get my caffeine fix, I’d better stockpile it early.


Vancouverites are being told to either not drink the tap water, or
boil it for a minute. Stores are out of bottled. This is not
something I would ever expect in Vancouver:

a new life milestone

I have finally, FINALLY outgrown having to furnish a home in IKEA!
This is a major life milestone! That whole post I did a while ago
about being a grownup? Here’s the definition: not having to furnish
your home in a mishmash of IKEA and Craigslist. I’ve always done that
out of financial need, and a kind of “why bother, I’ll just be moving
soon & dumping it” philosophy. Now, I have a hope of getting an
semi-permanent home with the boyfriend soon. In fact, when it comes
time to decorate our dream Echo Park/Silverlake bungalow, we may be
able to step all the way up to H.D. Buttercup!!

Add to being a grownup: enough permanence that it’s actually worth the
time, effort and money to nest.

history nerd moment

Google Earth now has maps by cartographers from the past:

I love old maps. I love previous misperceptions and interpretations
of geography. I am a HISTORY NERD. I can’t wait to get home and play
with this.

i hate you, max brooks

SOMEONE (by whom I mean Paul) bought – bought! – “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” last week, while bored at a Barnes & Noble. So of course I read it over the weekend. Well, Friday/Saturday, technically – it only took me four hours or so.

Consequently, I have been very upset since. Zombies are nonsensical to me, but hey, if you substitute “riots and civil wars related to massive bio-crash” for “zombies”, and just roll out all Brooks’ “Great Panic” and warfare-related consequences…it pretty much scared the bejebusdamn out of me. Especially the part where people panic and roll north, because zombies freeze solid in cold, so the US government instructs CNN to tell people to flee to Canada. Of course, then they start suffering, because they’re suburban Americans, and start infighting and eating each other instead of conserving resources and working together to survive the winter. The part about people fleeing north and then freezing and starving to death once they went north out of zombie range really disturbed me, because the Donner Party and the Franklin Expedition are two of my worst nightmares, and who’s to say that in a climate-change related civil war, caused by lack of resources, people wouldn’t be that stupid?

I know this came up in a lot of reviews, about how zombies were just a metaphor for disaster, and not necessarily the stupid horror creation to be taken literally. I know that Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and related other movies are metaphors for social reaction. And that’s why I have spent the weekend having horrible nightmares about the upcoming (and thank you Al Gore for making this worse) apocalypse. When climate change and lack of sustainability cause a famine in the United States, and the people who suffer the most for it – the lower income in cities, or in areas that completely lack agriculture – start pouring into the rich white neighborhoods that still have resources, what will happen? How stupid will people get? I’m afraid of Katrina-style suffering on a mass scale, afraid of the stupidity that goes with fear, afraid of having a suddent shock of an event – whatever it is – plunge millions of people into despair, without the resources to survive.

So it isn’t so much the zombies. It’s what happens because of the zombies. And I guess I have to give Max Brooks credit, because the Zombie Survival Guide seemed like such a joke to me, and his book is actually so serious, in the way it explores the consequence of a global-scale disaster. It still doesn’t mean that I didn’t have nightmares about the apocalypse, much like the ones Linda Hamilton has in T2 (which also scared the bejesus out of me when I was twelve). I take things too seriously, I take things too much to heart – and what I can’t figure out, right now, is to stop what’s coming.