2007 Apr #1 | Southern California

Ah, the wonderful post office. I had sent this to Monica back in January, and they finally decided to send it back to me 3 months later with writing all over and it all scuffed up.

I hate people who stand in the left side. Every country in the world has the "walk left, stand right" rule in escalators. Nobody can claim ignorance of this rule; you simply have to be a jerk.

I rented a Pontiac G5 for the drive down to Fullerton. It worked pretty well, except...

...after driving for a few minutes I noticed I couldn't find the cruise control. I checked the manual, and this is where it would be if the car had it. Wonderful, a 6-hour drive with no cruise. Oh well, at least I got used to it driving to Sioux Falls from Selby. Although my calf was a little tired at the end of the trip. So new rule in life: always check the rental for cruise.

And another life rule I always forget: I need sunglasses to drive. I'm way too sensitive to light, but I always forget to grab sunglasses as I'm leaving. So I have to buy them at gas stations. Thankfully they're usually under $10.

Aw, I should have held off on the sunglasses; it's pretty hard to beat $2.

I don't know if other people do this, but I tend to form friendships on long drives with the people who drive at the same speed as I do. This car, SUV, and I drove near each other for about 3-4 hours. I thought of them as "pals" and actually got annoyed when other people would drive between us.

This woman came up to the counter and complained 3 times about her food. Honestly, it's a fast food burger. If it has something on it you don't like, pick it off. If you can't, eat it anyway. I don't particularly like cheeseburgers, and I hate mayo. So what do I do if I order a plain hamburger and get a cheeseburger with mayo? Scrape off the mayo and eat the rest.

Another life lesson: never park by the circular metal covers at gas stations. That's where the trucks come to fill the gas tanks with fuel, and I was stuck here for a while waiting for them to leave. If I would have had the Explorer I would have just driven over the curb, but this little thing probably would have gotten stuck.

A car completely full of balloons. That's gotta be a hazard.

If there's one thing living near a city and driving a lot has taught me, it's that constantly changing lanes to get in a faster-moving one is almost completely useless. It's like the stock market; everybody else notices the other lane moving faster, so they also get into that lane, including tons of people in front of you. So you can work yourself to death switching lanes every minute, and you won't get there any sooner than if you just sit in the same lane. Obviously this doesn't work if one lane is constantly going 5-10 mph faster than all the others, but when everything gets bogged down, that doesn't happen.

I picked this black SUV to track on this section, and over the course of about 30 minutes he would get ahead, then I would get ahead, and it would keep switching. Sometimes he stayed in the same lane; sometimes he kept trying to get in a faster one. Nothing mattered; at the end, we were basically right next to each other still.

I saw this weird sign in a little convenience store.

It turns out the had some videogames in the corner, and rather than spending the money to keep them all running, players were supposed to turn the power strip on to play and then off when they were done.

They also had move lists stuck under the plastic covers, which I thought was a nice idea.

The one thing I really hated about the Pontiac G5 is the rear stuck up, so it was pretty much impossible to see what was behind you. On the plus side, the outside mirrors were wonderful: if you didn't see a car in your side mirror, there wasn't one beside you. Whereas with the Explorer, you have to actually look over your shoulder because the mirrors don't show everything to your side.

The pier at the south end of Venice Beach. I went there very early to avoid any traffic, but I forgot that also meant everything would be closed for a few hours.

A view up the beach from the pier.

There were some really nice houses along the beach, and I especially liked the ones with huge windows.

Muscle Beach before anybody got there. I thought there would be at least a couple of hardcore weightlifters, but it was deserted.

I like this: equality.

The trees in this area were covered in grafitti, so the park service spray painted over the grafitti with gray paint to match the trees.

Surfing seems like an awful lot of work for very little gain. It takes forever to swim out there, and then you only get to surf for a minute or so. Kinda like snow skiing.

A neat mural painted to make it look like the side of the building isn't even there.

A Jewish center right next to a porn shop.

I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention to the houses when I glanced up and saw a wolf. I just about took off running until I realized they were just statues. But for half a second there I was in complete fight or flight mode.

Santa Monica beach.

The trucks have almost-flat tires so they can drive on the sand better.

A bunch of people were training for an AIDS marathon. The self-rightousness of these people kind of bothers me. After all, if they really wanted to fight AIDS with money, they would be much better off working at their job for the same amount of time as they spend running. They'd make a whole lot more money and be able to help more. Of course, that wouldn't be as much fun.

I had the same feeling working on a house for the Habitat for Humanity spring break trip back in college. We had a few professionals working with us, and I realized they were so much better at it than we were that we volunteers would be better off flipping burgers or something and using the money we earned to pay a couple more real construction workers to take our places.

The little amusement park at the Santa Monica pier.

And a chess park.

A big sand-roller thingy that you could pull behind a truck to make a picture in the sand.

I don't know how big or strong a fish would have to be to pull those poles in, but I'd be scared to just leave them like that.

I was getting pretty hungry. The motel was supposed to have a continental breakfast, but it wasn't out by the time I left, and it was almost 9:00am now. I just happened to notice a motel with outside meal seating, and even though it looked pretty expensive, I decided to treat myself a bit.

The hotel was the Georgian, and I had a french toast sufflé, which was absolutely delicious.

I thought this was cute.

The Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica is a little shopping area. I like the bushes shaped like dinosaurs. Some were even fountains.

Every single parking garage should have something like this.

The bus in the area was 25 cents for most people, 10 cents for seniors. I thought it would be more of a hassle to make change for 10 cents than it would be worth, but then I remembered old people tend to always have change.

A volleyball area.

This bookstore had a cat roaming around in it. Rule #1 with animals: if you pet them, they will follow you around forever. I managed to lose it by diving around a corner when it wasn't looking.

There were lots of shops with signs like this along the beach.

This one had these really neat lamps in the back, and I couldn't believe I could get four of them for $10.

And I was right. The sign was referring to a few things on the shelves to the right which nobody looks at because they are distracted by the lamps.

The rental car had a volume adjustment for the radio and CD player. Which I found out creates a bad incentive because it turned too quiet when I was stopped, so I'd speed up really fast to get it back to the volume it was while I was driving.

I just noticed I'd had this in my travel bag which I had hauled through all the airports. You'd think they would confiscate it. After all, they confiscated the bottle water of the people around me, and you'd think stabbing a pilot would be a bigger fear than bonking one on the head with a water bottle.

I took Highway 5 south and Highway 101 back north. 101 is the older and slower of the two. On the highway signs they put a city that it up ahead, because a highway labeled "north" might end up going east, west, or even south for a while. I think Ventura was a bad choice here. I have no clue where it is. What they should have put is Canada. I don't think 101 quite goes into Canada, but at least everybody knows that's north of wherever they are.

So how does he buy lunch? Ha ha. Boy does my mind wander when I'm bored. Then I realized he probably just brown bags his lunch, which ruined my joke.

I hate these signs. "Run easy?" "I am what I am?" What a sign for failures. If you run to have fun and don't work at it, you're probably not getting enough of a real workout for it even to be worthwhile. How about working hard to improve yourself? Naw, that's, like, difficult. We don't want that.

People generally sit in the 4-person seats facing each other because it appears there is more room. However, it's actually better to sit in the seats with only 2 people. While there is more air space between the people facing each other in the 4-person seats, you have to constantly fight for foot space and usually end up sitting at some goofy angle, whereas with the 2-person seats you have plenty of room for your feet.

I always get impatient when making chocolate chip pie and put the chocolate chips in before it has cooled. Which results in, well, chocolate pie instead.