Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Shopping For A New Store

The other day I went to the Vons grocery store to do some shopping. This was just because my ride had to pick up some things there. I invariably go to the Ralph's within walking distance, and so I'm used to it in spite of the Vons being part of the chain from back home. There's a kind of exotic quality to going to the Vons, though. Everything feels different, and even though the differences are all trivial, they add spice to life.

The parking lot is smaller. That suits me, as I walk and don't drive. The signage is different, and the building. There are no practical consequences to these things, though. What matters a little more is what they sell and where they put it. The layout is a little different, which is thought-provoking. Regrettably, I can't stand how much thought I have to put into the matter in a grocery store with which I'm intimately familiar.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sleep Like A Man

Accepted wisdom is frequently just unexamined wisdom. Generations of fathers have told family members reaching for the breadsticks or the tortilla chips at a restaurant that they are some kind of a scam that benefits the restaurant. There's no logical basis for thinking so. What could the restaurant gain from filling you up with cheap food and sending you home with your expensive entree in a box? Even if you left it behind, what do they get from it?

Still such saying persist. I cannot for the life of me fathom the meaning that lies in the old saying, 'sleeping like a baby'. I could get angry thinking about it (as in fact I did before sitting down to write this in a bid to defuse the fury). You're supposed to have slept like a baby if you did so deeply and without interruption, awaking fully refreshed. Which aspect of that is akin to any baby you've ever heard of, save for the terribly ill ones?

Monday, February 27, 2012


I've never done any real golfing. I've done some mini-golfing (which is sometimes enjoyable but which can bring you to the point of tears as a child, I found). I lived around the corner from a golf course for years, but never did more than sneak onto the nearest green to sink some putts. What I'm getting to is that I never had the experience of creating a divot- that tear in the turf made by a vigorous attack on the form of the ball. They say you're supposed to fix it up before you go, though I don't see how that's a lasting repair.

I think of those divots whenever I find myself moving furniture about the home. This is not often. It's a hell of a think to see what has become of the space you forgot once it disappeared under a chair. Even if you're diligent enough to ensure that nothing important goes there and remains there, some rather interesting stuff can be seen, not the least of which is the depression made in the carpet by the legs of the furniture in question.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Late And Late

Saturday was one of those days of dominoes. It started off with me deciding to watch a dvd before I had to return to to the libray. It was the 1983 film 'Cujo', and I watched it. After a time, I took all three of the discs I'd checked out to the video store, figuring that I might get some other things done. I wanted to do my laundry, but decided that I didn't have enough quarters. First, I thought, I'll go over to the bank to get more.

I had thought about when the library would close, but gave no thought whatsoever to when the bank might do so. I confidently walked up to the doors with a full head of steam, but found the door resistant. Stunned, I started to walk away and then turned back to look again. There was the location's hours on the door. Sure enough, it was some thirty minutes too late. There would be no laundry cleaned for me on this day.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pride: Let It Ride

That outfit I wore for the speech I described yesterday was really something. I gave a rough description of it then, but it warrants something in depth. For the speech I was playing a character of sorts. I feel that I rather easily become a kind of sleazy producer or promoter type. It takes the slightest of nudges to make me look that way. The gray suit I wore was the one I almost always do (as the only alternative is the newer one that only comes out for weddings and funerals).

The brown shirt is several sizes too large. It only looks passable under a jacket. It has a collar, but doesn't exactly cry out for a tie. I forced one on, and could resist the whimsical choice of a shiny dark brown tie on a light brown shirt. I wore the nicest shoes that I don't worry about damaging, which were also brown, as I said. I have some dark socks now, but they're too thin, so I had to hope no one would notice my white socks. If I stand most of the time it works.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Speech Up

You may recall that I'm a member of Toastmasters. It's a public speaking organization. The idea is that you're improving at it. As long as I've been in the organization, I am often a poor example of how it should be done. I speak less often than I used to. I tend to disdain a lot of visual aids and proper apparel. I consistently wait until the last minute to prepare my speeches. So it was for the big speech contest the other day.

I knew I'd be doing it a month or two months before the day. That might as well be a million years, or a date that exists outside of time in infinity. It doesn't even seem real. Rather than planning something, I'd be more likely to make jokes about expecting to be dead then. Well, it eventually started to feel real. With maybe a week to go, I started to think seriously about planning a speech. Naturally day by day something more pressing seemed to come up.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kid Car

I had to go downtown for a Toastmasters thing the other day. This meant riding the subway line from end to end, which takes something more than half an hour. I brought a lunch (as suggested by event planners) and a book by Henry Miller to occupy myself on the train. This was fine, and the event was fine. What was interesting was the ride back, which tended to impair my ability to read the book, and ultimately my interest in doing so.

While walking through LA Union Station for my return trip, I noticed a sprawling horde of children in matching shirts accompanied by evidently responsible adults. I tried to stay out of their way, giving no thought to where they were headed. I went down to the train and waited for it to come and open its doors. It did so, I entered and I sat down. Then came the hordes. They collectively stormed aboard the train like a revolutionary army. It was quite a thing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

First Through Third Resorts

I don't really do too well with a lot of small, mundane things. I danced on camera for a rap video and the part of the day that struck the most fear into me was driving a car maybe fifty yards and parking it. It's those smaller things that are tough. Shopping for things is like that for me. I have a very short time limit when I need something, and when time's up I will either have what I need or do without. I often do without.

There are really only three places I really have the motivation to go when I need something. The place where I hope most of all to find things is the grocery store. I go there all the time, and it's very close to home. I would probably rather have some cheap, chintzy version of something from there than a good one or a better-priced one elsewhere, because it's quick and simple that way. If what I need is food, I'm good. Outside of food, they're not so strong.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


There are a lot of little things that people buy that don't seem so essential on their own. I mostly have eschewed these things, but have come to appreciate more and more that while there may be a hundred household items that each can be dispensed with individually, you suffer from trying to do without the whole lot of it. I mean therefore to start buying these things and seeing whether they have the same outsized positive impact on my morale that the mere act of showering and dressing every day does.

Even the most inveterate bachelor values toilet paper (comical beer commercials in which they pass it up in favor of their drinking habit aside). I used to buy the cheapest, but now I go for your ritzy, soft two ply. That was the extent of the paper products I bought that weren't bound for the computer desk. I used the toilet paper for sneezing, and it really wore me down. When you're sick and blowing your nose every couple of minutes, it gets sore. I've put up with that for the last time.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Couldn't Sleep

I make bad decisions sometimes. They often have to do with an urgent need to do something, anything, in order to get the decision over with. Sometimes there's really no explaining why I do these things. It can't be a secret urge to fail, can it? Whatever it is, I did about everything wrong that I possibly could in order to get to bed at a reasonable time last night. It was a critical thing that I get some rest, and I didn't manage it too well.

The first thing I did was to have a soda after or around 10pm. I know better than that, but the thing was in my hands before I knew it, and what could I do with an open soda except drink it? I knew I shouldn't have, but I did. I didn't think that it was going to be the difference between good rest and no rest. Little did I know that it was but the first domino, but it was. There were to be a number of horrible decisions to come.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Blockade

It's time again to look towards self-improvement. I have more a desire for cleanliness and order than I have the discipline to obtain those things. It feels incredibly good to walk freely about my room without fear of clutter, but tidying up is often beyond me. The merits of a room that smells nicely (or at least doesn't smell of anything) are self-evident, but I have a very difficult time keeping the things that make smells out of there.

The main thing is food. I'm about always eating, and I'm about always on my computer. My computer is in my room, and so the food invariably follows. I have been meaning to stop eating meals in my bedroom because of the very issue I outlined above, to say nothing of the crumbs that accompany the eating and the odors. Between the cleanup and the difficulty of keeping myself from eating in my bedroom, it's hard to say which is worse.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

An Idea

I get a lot of ideas. Most of them are unworkable to say the least. Some of them might have a glimmer of something to them, but I can't imagine that there is anything there that warrants a lot of work by someone who actually can mold such rough, crude thinking into anything useful. Such is the plight of alleged "big picture" people like me, who don't brink to the table what a details person typically does. I bet that a details person could actually come up with the big picture as well.

I had one of my big picture ideas the other day. Even a details man probably could not make much of it, but that is not to say that no one could have made money from it. That's a separate matter. What I thought of was how there's such a thing as buttermilk bread. You can drink buttermilk, although I wouldn't recommend it. I did it once when I was a boy, and really though there was a chance that what I drank was spoiled. To this day I'm not sure.

Friday, February 17, 2012

On Screen

It's an interesting thing when you perform on camera. It's all very repetitive and disjointed. Sometimes you're working very hard and doing a lot, and at other times you're doing nothing and waiting. It's different from live performance. When you do something live, you get pretty instant feedback. Either way a director or writer is giving you feedback, but in live performance it goes out there right away and you know whether people like it.

I did a music video a while ago, but it's only just out now. For me there's a bit of emotional distance already, but for those who are getting into it, it's just happening now. The lag time is interesting. I guess that I didn't have to wait to know whether my friends would like it. They were effusive with praise for the mere premise of the video, and so far no one has expressed disappointment when faced with the thing itself.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

When It's Cold

The weather in Los Angeles is about as pleasant as advertised, seldom getting too hot or too cold. When it is cold however, it can be pretty bad (if one is not comparing it to someplace like Chicago). Worse still is when it is both cold and wet. Most of this winter has been pretty mild. In fact, it has worried me plenty how nice it has been for much of the past months. There shouldn't be opportunities for shorts in January or February even here.

The last couple of days have seen us into a cold snap however, and a wet one to boot. When it gets cold enough for jackets, I like that, as I feel I look good in them. I start with my nice blue jacket, then transition to the leather one when it's cold enough for that. When it's cold enough for that one but too wet for it as well, I'm really out of luck. I end up in something that isn't adequate for one thing or the other. It's like Valley Forge.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Catcher On The 405

As I've noted more times than was really worth doing, I read a good bit.  have been less given in recent times to reading when out and about, finding that a book is rather encumbering when I don't have a backpack on me (after I finally managed to give it up after convincing myself that it wasn't so indispensable). I still manage to read occasionally when I'm traveling by Metro, and here is where an unhelpful manifestation of my concern about self-image comes about.

I don't pick books based on what I imagine people will think of me. It would be an exhausting, futile endeavor since I can't begin to imagine what my decisions do to affect public opinion most of the time. Still I do consider what people think once it's too late. There I'll be with a book that I fancy grants me some prestige or which could grant me greater appeal in the eyes of the fairer sex, and I'll start angling the book towards her.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Meat

I get into routines easily, or at least that is true of some routines. I don't manage to get up bright and early every day, and generally do no better than getting up when I have to most days. I struggle also to remember my plan to not eat in my room. Still, there are those things that I do well enough. I get a blog post up every day, and I stick to meals pretty well (although it might be argued that this is no virtuous routine).

As I related recently, I went with two slices of turkey rather than just one for my sandwiches. That had been brought about by something of a disruption. Another such change happened recently. Like most people, I shop for my groceries alone. I assume that is the case, anyway. The other night, I found myself at the grocery store with two others because the driver needed something there and refused to take us to a restaurant drive-through.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Something Lost, Something Gained?

One of the first notable incidents for me upon moving to LA was the theft of my iPod. This was a few years back now, and so it's interesting to contemplate what I think and feel about the matter now. I spent more on the thing than I would care to admit, and it meant a lot to me. Buddhists tend to discourage such attachment to material goods, and nothing suggests the wisdom of their ways quite like being stolen from. I doubt whether that happens when you don't have things.

At the time, I did my best to let the thing go. What else could I do? I made some effort to locate it online, as I was led to believe that thieves often try immediately to sell stolen goods. It didn't surface, and I just let it go. A roommate at the time was incredulous at how little emotion I displayed over the loss (though his perspective, drug-influenced as I suspect it was, was probably warped). It just didn't seem like it would do any good, especially because there was no one to be mad at but myself.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Down There

There is an element of life in this apartment building that I am not a part of and I do not see that changing terribly soon. On the ground floor there is a parking garage. Our unit is granted two parking spaces, neither of which do I use myself. Not having a car, it's easy to leave those spaces to the two who do. As a consequence, I have very little reason to go down there to the garage. Still, I sometimes wind up passing through.

That is where the garbage is, and I occasionally am the one to bring recycling down there (with the trash just going down the garbage chute). I also sometimes duck through the garage when I see someone lingering around the main entrance that leads through the lobby. Letting in strangers is generally discouraged, and so the easiest thing to do is to take the passive-aggressive path of least resistance. It works.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


A dear loved one sent me a package of some nice meats as a belated birthday gift. Naturally I ate some of it immediately, so little do I typically keep in the pantry. As a matter of fact, I'm embarrassed to say that I checked carefully to see whether it was precooked, and just ate it cold. I know that's not right, but it was my choice, and I stand by it. The sausage links were delicious as they were, and I was in no mood to wait for them to be hot.

It was curious that the deliverer of the package opted to place the box underneath our door mat. The box was not small. I would say that it was about the size of a regular shoebox, so I can't believe that the reasoning could have involved hiding it from a potential thief. As there's no other possible motive for not putting it on top of the doormat, I'm just at a loss to explain it. Perhaps next time I will lie in wait to demand an explanation.

Friday, February 10, 2012


The other night, I went to the movies with a friend. This theater was one of those cheap theaters, but because tickets are generally three dollars and never less than a dollar fifty, it cannot be characterized as a dollar theater. It's cheap, and it's rundown, but it serves well as a repository of movies that are no longer especially lucrative but have a way to go before they reach video. I had a good time at the movie, but imagine that an encounter I had will prove to be more interesting in the long run than the alien invasion movie we saw.

I went inside and bought a hotdog for a dollar, but no drinks, because everything else there is as expensive as it would be at a regular theater. I was standing there with the hotdog looking for where to buy a ticket when a middle-aged lady, apparently of Latino (if that's the proper thing to say) descent, approached me. She said that I looked familiar, and I replied that I do live nearby. She said that wasn't it, and that I looked like someone she knew but couldn't identify.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Never Free

When I was in college, I was rather more political. I had few interests that weren't tied into politics and current events. Much of my time was devoted to absorbing news and opinion, spouting out in turn a lot of strident stuff that hadn't been tempered much by the world or experience. These days, my views aren't terribly different, but my enthusiasm for what was then a game has waned, and my stomach for a lot of nasty infighting is gone.

Also gone is any urge to contribute time or money. A vote is about all anyone can hope for from me, but the ACLU doesn't understand that. They know that I became a member some six or seven years ago, and have inferred nothing from my decision to let my membership lapse not terribly long after that. Ever since then, I have received vain attempts to reignite my passion for the protection of civil liberties. Nothing can stop them.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Double Down, Erase The Frown

As I have noted more times than anyone is happy with, I tend to stick with food choices for a long time. I have eaten roughly the same three meals every day for a very long time, and only circumstances change that very much. I've been going with turkey and cheese sandwiches for weeks if not months, mostly with the same rye bread. The system works, but sometimes it falters, and errors can be some of the best fun in life, as I know from improv.

An example of that notable barely even to me is how the other day I used two slices of turkey instead of just one. I appreciate how minute of an event that is, and how easily it fits into the stereotypes of internet memoirs and their inanity. You will get no argument from me on whether this is a post of meaning or significance. It really isn't, but then it seems to me that Twain said something strikingly similar about Huck Finn, didn't he?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Something Lighter

I've always got a book that I'm reading. As long as I've been out of school now, which is a few years, I would have the vague feeling that I was failing some kind of assignment if I wasn't reading. An ongoing effort of mine is to correct some of the deficiencies in my schooling, and that means reading the classics. If the schools had their way, I never would have read any Hemingway, Fitzgerald or most of the rest. I had to take that upon myself, but I just can't manage it all the time.

I just got through with one of those books vigorously competing for the mythical title of Great American Novel, 'The Grapes of Wrath'. The book succeeds at conveying complicated and heavy stuff through relatively simple language, but it is nonetheless very heavy stuff, and I found it challenging. You grow through challenges, but you certainly don't want to face them every day. It's a pleasure therefore to read something a little easier.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Yesterday I wrote of watching movies twice, and rigidly adhering to a convention of never watching a movie twice for lack of time to do anything but watch films for the first time. I really have gotten wearing of being yoked into a lot of oppressive rules about such things. When I started doing Netflix, it wasn't long before my queue ballooned out of control, growing into the hundreds. It was a stifling notion that my every movie experience had more or less been plotted out for years to come.

Whatever difficulty I have with spontaneity, movie-watching is just that kind of an experience. I hate getting tight and not letting myself watch something on a whim because there are other movies that have been waiting and which "I have to get to". It starts to sound less like fun and a lot more like work, which I never have been much for. I have gotten to feel lately like I'd like to start forgetting about the rules that I impose on myself.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Never Again

Years ago, when DVDs seemed to be a collectible item and Netflix was not yet on the scene, I used to watch the same movies again and again. I wasn't going to go out to the video store. That kind of spontaneity was beyond me, and there was reward in watching the same things over and over anyway. Intimate familiarity was a pleasure, and total familiarity was always elusive. Each viewing of a movie yielded new details and enjoyment.

I can't manage to invest in a movie any longer the time necessary to get that. Somehow there is rarely the time to watch a movie twice, even if it is a movie a really want to. Many movies I can't bear to watch twice for reasons that have nothing to do with quality. With the other ones though, it's just a matter of time. Some movies I love dearly enough to watch over and over, though they are few in number. 'Executive Suite' is one, and there are others.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Deserter, Dessert

As a boy, I can't think of any time when we failed to keep desserts in the house. Growing up in Arizona as I did, ice cream fell in line with staples like bread, mill and toilet paper. We always had one half-gallon if not more, sometimes having the big huge container or the sack of little individual cups. It was all good, so long as there was something there. You just had to have something, even if it was just the bare minimum of popsicles.

I never even have popsicles anymore. Desert is non-essential now, which is a fact that was unfathomable once. Even when I was attending school in Chicago, cold desserts such as Klondike bars were a mandatory, positively essential item on every week's grocery list (which was straight out of Louis the 16th's kitchen by comparison with what I deign to eat today). I don't know why I didn't think more of hot desserts.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Not so long ago, I got a new wallet for Christmas. You'll recall my writing about it. It's very nice, so of course the first thing I did was to jam it full of everything that was in the old wallet (and which probably shortened its functional lifespan). I just did this automatically without taking advantage of the obvious opportunity for assessing the necessity of every item and thus increasing efficiency by winnowing down the number of items in there.

Well, I've done that now. You can just imagine the kinds of things I found in there. There are always going to be blank slips of paper that used to be receipts before the ink rubbed off. What was I going to do with those? I certainly wasn't going to use them for the purpose of substantiating claims for reimbursement. You have to have an employer for that. I wasn't going to use them for claiming business expenses on my taxes either, because I think you have to have actual tax liability first.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Dime? Not Small Time

I keep my loose change fairly well organized, and maybe better than some. Each denomination goes into a separate jar, with the smallest ones obviously accumulating most rapidly, being the heaviest, and amounting to the least in terms of value. I don't do much with those. I suppose that sooner or later I'll put them through one of those change machines only to be astounded at how little I get out of it. I have low expectations.

The larger denominations are really where it's at. The quarters are obviously for laundry, and for somebody else would also be for parking meters. The quarters are boring to me. The interesting denominations are the nickels and dimes. Those are the ones that figure into the time-honored expression about small-timing someone. I use them as a gateway to quarters. As you may recall, I buy sodas in the laundry room with them.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Worst Comes To Worst

I'll tell you something that I hate fervently. It comes from what I was writing about yesterday. It happens all too often that one is writing something with a pen only to have it dry out in the middle of the writing. Sometimes the thing is a check or some sacred government document. It looks bad, or at the very least suspicious, even if the next pen you manage to find is of the same or of a similar color. People can tell something is off.

What if you cannot find a pen of the same color? That's really bad. At that point, you've really got to start over if you possibly can. You look insane or too lazy to live if you keep going at that point. I'm loathe to waste a check, but what else can you do in that situation? You can't have that been seen by people. I would not even chance throwing that out intact or breathing word of it to a loved one, priest or other clergyman.