Thursday, March 31, 2011

End Game (A Revisitation)

As smart and clever as I may be, I have positively no aptitude for strategic thinking. I can come up with a thousand great words for Scrabble, but cannot properly exploit them by angling them towards high-value tiles or taking said tiles away from my opponent. At least I have some ability in half of that game. I'm hopelessly lost in the so-called game of kings, chess. They say a grandmaster can see a number of moves into the future, often forfeiting well before it comes to an inevitable checkmate. I can't see one move into the future. I just move pieces around, aimlessly striking out at targets of apparent opportunity with no long term plan.

A very hazy understanding comes at last when the game reaches the closing stage called 'end game'. Most of the pieces are by now removed from the board, with just a handful remaining on either side. Here finally do I start to to enjoy myself. There is room to move about the board, and few enough elements that I can follow what's going on. Once a friend of mine and I tried starting the game at this point. I think I came closer to winning than ever before.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

To Love And Be Left

I do hope that you don't read that title and get the impression that this is a melancholy, lovelorn expression of pain. It is not that at all. Rather, my intention is to explore another of the many things in human behavior that I do not understand. Perhaps I'm not wired correctly, or maybe I'm the only one who is. I'll let you decide that. Now the thing is for me that pursuing a woman is very, very tough. There's nothing strange about that, I'm certain. It's a long process that requires much effort and no small amount of material and capital investment. What's different is that I insist on long-term returns.

I suppose that sounds cold and dispassionate. Well, I think you have to take that attitude in the scenario I shall lay out now: Imagine that you meet a woman who is a knockout and who you think is just fantastic in every respect. You want to take a chance, so you begin the charm offensive. It's then that you discover some bad news. It's not a a ring on the finger, which for me means that at least for now she's off-limits but some day might not be, but a piece of news: she's only in town for a few days or maybe weeks.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Proof I'm Not Aloof

As I've made abundantly clear, I never used to socialize all that much. It would happen once in a while, and somewhat more during the summer when I was among many of my Boy Scout friends all the time. I would have liked something to tide me over during the stretches of time during which I had no such social encounters. I mean by that of course that I would like to have had pictures and other visual documentation as mementos through which I could relive such high points while in solitude.

Pictures might have been taken, but could not easily be disseminated. I might have been able to take a look at some once in a long while if visiting a friend in person. You can guess about how often that happened. Enter today's internet, at last powerful enough to mirror the real-life socializing of human beings. I'm doubly blessed with its advent. I have so many friends now and so much to do with them. What makes it better still is that there is proof of it all.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I Stand In The Arena

I once made what I felt were some fair criticisms of the stand-up comedy I had seen to that point. I stand by them still. It was partly with them in mind that at long last I thundered once more into the breach and performed some myself for a change instead of playing the critic. I had last done standup some four years ago, and the elapsed time will give you some idea of just how well I felt it went. Since then, I've matured and learned a lot about communicating as well as being funny.

I received fairly little notice before the show, and this had the virtue of compelling me to go more or less with my first instincts as far as material was concerned. A scant few hours before showtime, there I was thoughtfully jotting down ideas in my legal pad, refining them and then memorizing what I had settled on while in the shower and en route to the theater. This is the routine that I have gotten into as a result of Toastmasters, and basically I treated standup as one more speech.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

No Quarter Given

There are many things that are hard, awkward, weird or uncomfortable for me alone in this world. I'll avoid making a phone call at all costs. I sent someone a letter in the mail because I was uncomfortable calling. It's very fashionable now to text and not call, but I was there before there was a viable alternative. That's just one of many things that are a bewildering, exhausting ordeal in my mind. I don't recommend it as a way of life.

I find that there are two things which I now use far more than I ever have, and so steps must be taking to acquire them in unprecedented numbers. One is checks, and that was dealt with by getting a massive checkbook with register. The other is quarters, and I wish sincerely that I could resolve that matter for nearly as long. The main thing is that I need quarters for laundry, but of course they are also an essential thing for parking in this city (That just doesn't happen to concern me).

Saturday, March 26, 2011


In such extraordinary times, one sees extraordinary things. When you consider that most people will do what is necessary, and sometimes incredible things are necessary, then you can react very calmly, as I generally do. When you act like everything's no big deal, peoples' estimation of you tends to rise considerably. So it must have been that I was quite impressive when I reacted with nothing more than an arched eyebrow to what I saw a number of days ago on the street in North Hollywood.

Now, I've commented on derring-do in the course of crossing the street before. Nowhere is there anyone more brave bordering on foolhardy than those souls who can't spare the time or the effort to reach a crosswalk in order to reach the other side of the street. What of those who do the right thing and use the crosswalk? Surprisingly enough, they sometimes find a way to introduce that spice of life danger into the equation, as I saw. It really was a sight to see, and I shall do my best to do it justice so that you know I'm not deliberately blowing something out of proportion just to make a worthwhile post.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Janey Law

I gather that in the army, every officer and enlisted man is regarded as a rifleman. At least I heard remarks along those lines made in 'Patton' and 'Band Of Brothers'. What it means to me is that no matter what duties any of them is assigned, they must be fit to fight. Whether a cook, a typist or a driver, each was to be in good shape and familiarity with the tools of war. I find that admirable if as true as I imagine it to be. I don't think it is so true in other realms of human endeavor.

I happened to be out on the sidewalk in front of my bank when a meter maid was writing a ticket for some SUV. I say meter maid in spite of its perhaps archaic nature because I know of no more appropriate term, be the person in that job a man or a woman. I cannot think of anyone in Parking Enforcement who appeared fit to do anything but what they were, and in many cases I think they would benefit from being shifted to something even less labor-intensive.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Dignity This?

In that great game 'Oregon Trail', the best job one could have seemed to be banker. Each one did have its outstanding features, but for my money, you couldn't beat banker. I guess that what set it apart were the intangibles. There's an air of class, sophistication and dignity to being a banker. You wear a fine, well-tailored suit and have as your workplace a building with much gravitas to it. That at least is the situation of my imagination.

I believe that is the case for the big time bankers who do not even deal with the public. Of course, those ones are probably in the biggest trouble of all these days, but supposing that we are discussing an honest banker, that's what I'm picturing and admiring. Consider alternately though the banker who is reduced to handling the business of consumers. I still think that it's a dignified position to be a banker in one of those local neighborhood branches. It's good, honest work, though it may not be so lofty.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Florida Florida Florida!

As social as I feel I have become (and I admit there are limits to that), I remain a homebody. Every excursion out of the house must surmount my natural reluctance to go anywhere. That happens much more now, and the consequences of it not happening reinforce my ever-increasing desire to get out. Even so, an outing across town is one thing; traveling out of town is something else entirely. I generally avoid going anyplace that will keep me from getting back to my own bed in the same day.

The one place I do go with any regularity is within a day's drive, luckily enough. I've become a fond devotee of Greyhound, and so long as I can do things that way, I have no real qualms. It's seedy, sometimes unreliable and never entirely safe, but it's cheap and does not strip away my sense of liberty. It may take seven hours to get somewhere on the highway instead of one, but the only one who can rob you of your dignity in the process is yourself (and many people do avail themselves of that option, which is fun to watch). God, how I do love to travel that way!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

B As In Boy

I've always said that verbal communication ranks higher than text-based in terms of the information conveyed. On the whole, I think that's true, but there is one area where text is indisputably superior to any other means. When you need to relate a name, an address, a number or any other thing where every single little syllable must get through perfectly, you can't beat a text or email. Of course, it remains possible for there to be a typo. One must be vigilant, as in all things.

I was just thinking about the particular brand of verification that we all relied on and which still is employed in situations where one really cannot transmit a text (a good example of which would be when one has to call a government office. I am certain that the technology will reach them in some twenty years). What your typical person will do is offer a word which begins with the letter in question, and it must be a word which cannot possibly be confused with any other. "It's Boyle Street. B as in boy, O as in Oprah..."

Monday, March 21, 2011


I was scrutinizing a map which related a trip I was to take from my home neighborhood of North Hollywood to the distant outpost of Glendale. Taking public transportation as I habitually do, I am used to what would appear to be less than efficient routes. No one can travel around the city as the crow flies, but I cannot go even as the crow walks, if it should ever do such a thing (to be frank I cannot say I've ever seen it do anything in particular except mark my admissions of being in the wrong). So it was in this case, but for an understandable reason. Standing in the way of my speedy trip like a tree stump in the yard is that glittering jewel in the crown of LA's parks, Griffith Park.

Named after industrialist and philanthropist Griffith J. Griffith (who evidently believed fervently that misery loves company), the park is a worthy rival to Central Park of New York and Grant Park of Chicago (to the latter of which must now be added Millenium Park). That is unquestionably so in my book, possessing as it does such landmarks as the Batcave and other historical chapters of note, not to mention actual natural beauty and splendor. Griffith Park may not have the incidents of civil unrest that other cities' greatest parks do (ceded as those were to MacArthur Park), but it is a great park.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Yesterday I wrote a big, lofty piece on writing philosophy. I didn't mean for it to get so 'important'. It had its origin in a status update. As I said then, I hardly seem to post those anymore, and figured that it was because I was writing so much for this blog now. I tried to address the terrible shortfall over on Facebook, where I had gone so many times to write an update only to come up empty. It's an uncommon thing to find oneself bereft of any idea worthy enough to make into a status update. Actually, I should say that it's a very common thing, but it's more uncommon to keep from going ahead anyway.

Well, this time I started to write one about how I don't write them anymore. I like to be brief and concise, so that's generally my objective. I don't always manage it. One line became two, and two became three. Before I knew it, I had a full-blown paragraph which had no hope of being read all the way through by anyone in that forum. I myself would skip past it. Keeping my nose to the grindstone and reading long uninterrupted text is no easier for me than for anyone else, my ability to write such text notwithstanding.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Curious Progression

It's interesting to consider how my habits have changed online in just today's internet. When I say that, I mean what it has been since the advent of social networking sites. What it was when I first began online seems too primitive even to grant consideration now. My first step into social networking was on Myspace. By the time I had heard of anything like Friendster, it was already gone. On its successor Myspace, I diligently updated my status, mood and customized my page to the extent I knew how. So important was it to have a great background and song blaring out!

Before I even joined that, I knew of Facebook. It was engulfing the nation's colleges at the rate of a handful a day. It would leave its exclusion to schools behind soon enough. When I joined, it was with the zeal of the converted, and I was posting status updates throughout the day most days. Friends today who knew me then will confirm how annoyingly I flooded the site with a myriad of trivial thoughts and mundane updates.  I understand it was more than some could bear, and they 'ignored' or 'unfriended' me for my boorish behavior.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bird And Sheep

I was walking from a nearby friend's building to my own late one Sunday night, listening to music but being observant of my surroundings. I had just gotten past this overgrown patch of vegetation in front of a vacant lot and was passing by the building which neighbors my own when I saw something lying on the ground in front of me. It was a little bird, and it was entirely motionless but seemingly alert on the driveway into the building's garage.

I was struck first by intrigue and then by concern. I expected that it would flee once I even came near. It didn't. I knelt and reached out to it with my hand, obtaining no reaction. I actually touched it, and it didn't budge. I had been afraid it would hurt me when I tried that, but it did nothing. It seemed that the bird must be hurt. I could think of no alternative explanation for its wakeful state and inactivity. I stood up and looked around, as if there would be someone there to take over or resolve the source of my worry. Nothing doing- I would have to shoulder this thing alone all the way.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I had just exited a bus and was about to cross the street when I saw an ambulance tear around the corner and make its way behind a restaurant where a fire truck already lay idling at the curb in front. I could not make out the nature of the emergency from my vantage point, and it seemed unwise to attempt getting closer. It was not the ambulance's objective that was of real interest to me anyway. I was thinking more of the unique freedom that both firefighter and paramedic have on the roads.

It seems like they are more or less at liberty to ignore whatever standards of road safety they like so long as they cause no collateral harm and reach their destination in the shortest amount of time possible. I would not be the least bit surprised if there were someone in either profession who, with exasperation, would want to dispel my ignorant beliefs in this matter. I hope they'll keep that to themselves, because it makes me happy to think of someone existing who speeds along the roadways unfettered by ordinary bounds like the rest of us.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I'm Sorry At Gunpoint

It seems like there are more apologies than ever before if my observations are to be relied on. People aren't doing more bad things, unless we're accounting for a burgeoning world population in recent centuries, but they do now seem to be more aware of being in the wrong. It's at least partly that and partly that they care more about the consequences of how people feel. That would all be fine if it weren't for the timing of it all. No one is ever sorry before they have to be. I was reading about a fashion designer who let his anti-Semitism show- twice- under the influence. He was fired in short order, and do you wonder at how quickly he became contrite?

Mind you, this is separate from the new theatrical form which rivals Kabuki in its symbolism, subtlety and many complicated layers, the public apology press conference. I could go on and on about that, and probably will in future if I haven't already. No, I just find it uncanny how hearts and minds change with just a little gentle prodding in the form of threats to one's livelihood. The fashion designer might have remained a bigot the rest of his life, but just after being ruined professionally he was so very sorry and enlightened!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Herr Holbrook

It's interesting what has happened since I grew back my moustache and stopped getting my hair cut. The moustache always has been polarizing, with favorable and unfavorable comments regrettably breaking down along gender lines, with women on the wrong side of the debate. Only recently, with my curls becoming more pronounced as the volume of my hair has grown, have there been any opinions on the matter of the hair which adorns my scalp. It's a considerably more complicated thing, the feedback with which I have been furnished free of charge.

There are calls for me to get my hair cut from men and women alike, but the support has been similarly cross-gender. I usually tell guys who are critical of any such thing to pound sand. I listen more carefully to women, but naturally grant the most consideration of all to those who are unattached. Men and women alike who are offering a job also get a fair hearing on the matter of my hair. I think that's all quite reasonable of me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

For Him

I happened to be glancing at my shampoo bottle while in the shower, trying to find some indication of how often I should be conditioning when I noticed an interesting reference to a 'Little Black Dress'. Having heard this before, I thought of what that meant. I understand that women consider a slinky black dress to be an indispensable element of their wardrobe, as it is so versatile and compatible with other items. I've heard of this, but can't say I would definitely be able to see it at work.

What I started thinking about was whether there was any corresponding article of clothing specifically for me, and if not, whether I might be able to profit by conceiving of one. The immediately obvious stumbling block is that there are few single piece outerwear garments for the man. There's the jumpsuit, and overalls are really stretching it. Pitching either as a mens' little black dress would seem to be a tough sell, in spite of their meeting at least the letter of the concept if not the spirit.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Who Are You Kidding?

People really make me wonder with their schemes. The way they believe they can put one over on others or avoid an unpleasant outcome with feeble little ruses is rather amusing. I'm sure I'm in that number as well, but there are some things I don't see as viable. I once served as a middleman in between a devoutly religious friend and various retail outlets which he was forbidden to exchange money with on the Sabbath. I was unconvinced that the Almighty would be fooled, but was content to help anyway.

In another, more pervasive case, we superstitious humans place a great deal of importance on avoiding the number thirteen (I guess we really never will get too far from the bewildered, overmatched caveman who possessed not even the intellect to overcome his physical deficiencies). We avoid it however we can, even when the only way is to not avoid it but agree that we have. It remains common practice to omit the thirteenth floor from official recognition, regardless of how tall the building really is. If it's less tall than that, it's easy. If it's much taller, it's still pretty easy. When it's exactly that tall, it's a rather transparent ploy. A building I regularly have reason to enter refers to its uppermost floor as the penthouse rather than the thirteenth floor.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Damned Lies

I'm prepared to put up with a lot from those close to me. After all, they're only human, isn't that what people say? Being so, it's only in their nature to falter even when their intentions and motives are good. They will let you down when you are counting on them, and sometimes actively work against you. Worse still, they will lie right to your face. As I said though, they are human, and I forgive them. What of that which is not human, however? The alarm on my phone failed me enough times that I had to just stop using it. Forgiveness comes slowly in that case.

Something I'm still wrestling with is a recently acquired thermometer. As I write this, I feel sick. I'm congested, coughing and sneezing. I feel too hot and I am getting headaches. Not to worry though, because the thermometer report that I'm being delusional, and my temperature is in fact well within the parameters for good health. A lot of other people may have left the critical thinking to machines, but I still handle that myself. The GPS can take a stab at plotting a course to my destination, but when it starts directing me off cliffs and into lakes, I take over again. So it is with this deceitful thermometer.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Vote Boat (Or, The Choose Cruise)

There have been some more obvious and less obvious complications to life as a result of having recently moved three times in the space of three months. Of course getting people to help you move starts to become a challenge. Finding things around the neighborhood begins feeling as futile as it is difficult. The mail has more and more trouble finding you. Then there's something else which has to do with one's address changing a lot: voting registration.

I was surprised to find when an election came around after my first move that my registration had been updated along with my mailing address. This was nice, as I had resigned myself to being ineligible for that one. I'm a conscientious voter, and I get some pleasure out of it as well. So, when I saw that a deadline had come for registration in advance for yet another local election (of which there are so many here; I've voted more in the last three years than the seven previous in which I was eligible), I naturally sought to check whether my registration had updated once again.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Collared Magnet

In many of the less creative comedies, you see bumbling single guys concocting and carrying out ploys to getting the attention of and win affection from attractive ladies. These ploys typically backfire with comical results. An implication is that the ladies need do nothing in order to get offers except wait until a good one comes in. They certainly never seem to attempt their own such maneuvers in order to make a match for themselves with some dream guy. I wonder if that's really so.

The other day, I happened to see something which may have been nothing more than it seemed, but which may have been a woman-driven date scheme. There I was, standing outside a coffee shop in a not entirely unfashionable area. I do love my people-watching, or as past readers may recall I own up to it being, gawking and staring. I had witnessed a gaggle of attractive young women sweep into the cafe, and thought no more of them. A minute or so later, another woman approached the place. I'm not sure she ever managed to get inside.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I guess I'm sensitive when it comes to restaurants, probably because I don't have so much disposable income to lavish on such luxuries. I don't know if that makes me more demanding than a fatcat who regularly eats at top-rated eateries in the Michelin guide, but I don't think so. I do know that I'm more susceptible to getting angry at a restaurant than most of my friends. I take after my mother that way. For that reason, I try to stick to places where one cannot expect much at all; namely I mean your typical fast food places, albeit the more reputable ones.

After improv class, we always go to a frozen yogurt place. After demeaning ourselves in scene after scene for laughs, we generally feel we've earned it. The yogurt place, about which I've written in the past, is cheap and reliable. Their habit of throwing open the side door late at night during the dead of winter aside, they're pretty good to us, and I can't complain. A pizza and panini-type place we recently went to as a change of pace however, easily can be complained about.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Theater In The Found

What kind of a person would go out to the theater and pay good money to see a movie that already was there forty-five years ago, is available on home video and regularly plays on television? I guess that I am exactly that kind of a person. This is something I have done a few times. I have perhaps seen old movies in the theater more often lately than I have seen new movies there. It may be odd, but that's just the kind of guy that I am.

I find it very enjoyable to see at long last a movie that I have come to love dearly on tv screens. How can one seriously be enriched and inspired by something they have never seen on the big screen- how can they call it their favorite movie of all time? I know they can and do, but only for lack of opportunity. One of the things that is best about this town is that such opportunities abound. Theaters all over Los Angeles screen great old films every week, and I'm appreciative of how fortunate I am to be here. I believe there was one such place where I came from, and to my knowledge it's gone now.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Parting Is Such Sustained Suffering

It's interesting how those who are one's friends in general can be one's enemies in particular matters. There will be those who will gladly die for you unless the sacrifice is necessary because you didn't like 'Freaks And Geeks'. Most friends will turn on you when you withhold yourself from them for any reason, even be it pure necessity.

I have written before about saying goodbye either in an ordinary social situation or in advance of a long period of separation. Each of those is difficult for me, but distinct from both is the goodbye said to someone who is hostile to the idea of one's leaving. Added to the necessity of suppressing my constant desire to keep the good times going is the challenge of confrontation, which may be of a jesting nature in part, but which is also in part serious. It's tough.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I don't exert myself physically beyond an unusual amount of walking, but when I do the evidence is written all over my body more eloquently than I could hope to duplicate here. I think that it's partly due to my adoption of an attitude similar to the protagonist in 'Gattaca'. Many of the things I do I am not equipped to come through safely and efficiently. When I go out at night via public transportation, I know I won't be able to come back the same way late at night. Rather than staying home, I just do it anyway and figure I'll work something out. It's similar with physical activities.

Take roller skating for example. I ought to know better than to do that. I don't have a good track record, and there's no safety net for me if something does happen. Protecting oneself from all the harm in life is protecting oneself from life itself though, and so I go ahead with it anyway. The other day I did just that, and as I write this, I suffer the consequences in private. There are bruises around my knees, and while I don't have any color swatches on hand, I can safely say that they are some faint shade of purple. It's a good thing that it's not obvious shorts weather at the moment. I would hate to have my good looks spoiled.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Who Rules?

It took me a long time to accrue any wisdom at all. I feel as if I have just begun to learn anything. Perspective in particular came slowly, but finally I believe that I have some. It began with professional athletics. When I was a boy and the Arizona Cardinals had finally had a decent season for the first time since they had moved to town, their ownership made a push for a publicly-financed stadium. Naturally, being something like fourteen or fifteen at the time, I was firmly in favor of it. The ballot measure failed, and I was positively livid at the senior citizens who had reportedly filled up buses to go to their polling places and voted down the plan.

At long last, I have an appreciation for their point of view and no longer consider football stadiums to be a high priority in public policy. Now, I'm not getting into a corporate welfare rant here. It's more about what's ultimately important in life. I consider athletics to be of such value that you can't imagine. Pro sports are a separate issue. Another story from my childhood comes to mind. The players of one league or another were on strike or contemplating it, and my whole world was crashing down. My father said something that was of little comfort at the time, but is great solace now in helping me see things clearly.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dogged And Relentless

I continue to turn to afternoon walks in hopes of better learning the neighborhood and receiving inspiration for writing. Having walked every street in the triangle formed by the three major roads that border my home, I have lately turned to the far side of one of the two which run more or less North and South. On one of the side streets there, I did see something interesting enough. On the gate of one home (which I would not say sings out a very enticing song to thieves), an oddly specific sign warned troublemakers of a "German Shepherd On Duty".

On reading that, it occurred to me that I had seen an animal behind the fence moments before. I went and took a second look. There indeed was a German Shepherd about identical to the one pictured on the sign, except that the latter one watches you intently and alertly, and the actual one there was motionless and apparently sleeping. I stood there and watched it, soon judging that this dog was not nearly so dutiful as I was meant to believe. Understand that I was not any more likely now to rob the place, but figured that it would not be any tougher for the dog's presence.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bump Or Stick Her

I ride in a lot of people's cars, and they seem to blend together in my memory. You'd think I would know everyone's cars, but I don't. I'm always walking strategically behind the driver of whatever car so that hopefully they don't notice my ignorance. I am quicker to observe details about the cars of strangers, be they parked or in motion. Something interesting is bumper stickers. I may not be the first person to comment on them, but I will have my say in any case.

To me, bumper stickers are a lot like cats. The more you have, the more cause there is for people to worry about you. It seems like all of them out there now are of a political nature, when once they were strictly humorous. One is probably fine, especially if it is for an active election campaign, but each one after that is more reflective of an unhinged mind. Worse still, each one increases the odds of your car being defaced in your absence as an answer to your political expression. I don't think it's worth it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Yesterday I spoke of some of my exploits as a pedestrian. Today I offer another. Being out and about on foot as much as I am, I bear witness to some remarkable things. They seem remarkable to me, at any rate. A high percentage of them occur in Hollywood. To the person who lives outside Los Angeles, Hollywood may be more a distillation of their ideas regarding the entertainment industry more so than it is a physical place where people live, work and engage in recreation. To have one's imagined Hollywood replaced with the genuine article is not necessarily a disappointment, but it is not an easy swap.

I always say that it is the weirdest place I've ever been, and I repeat that now. You see things happen there that are somehow understandable only in that context and in no other. It's like a geographic equivalent of intoxication. To say that one did something because they were in Hollywood is about as acceptable as because they were drunk. I would take that anyway. Of course, the two excuses coincide with great regularity.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


As I don't drive and often find mass transit less than efficient for certain trips, I do a lot of walking. Probably I walk with a purpose other than fitness more than anyone I know, so I feel it's fair for me to consider myself something of an authority on the matter. Take my usual Thursday, for example. The nature of a public transportation grid is that it handles straight lines a lot better than it does trips that have very many turns, so you wind up with itineraries like the one that brings me to my Toastmasters meeting: a bus ride occupies the first ten or so minutes, and walking the remaining twenty. On the way back from the meeting, I tend to walk the whole way, which amounts to an hour or so.

I cross a lot of streets in this way, and most of them legally. Sometimes the 'Walk' signal is controlled automatically and you must surrender yourself to its inscrutable will. Other times, you are granted free will in the form of a button. It's been suggested that the button is often a mechanical placebo, but let's say that it does what it claims. I'll tell you what I do. I approach the intersection and locate the button. I search out any people waiting to cross from my side, and if none are there I look across to the other side for people going the other way. If there are none, I then can assume that no one has pressed the button. I then hit the button hard three times if it is of old construction, or just once if it is a newer model.