Tagged: california

Freeway Bound

A Street Surrounded By LA's Superhighways

Over at the excellent Twelve Mile Circle, Tom Howder recently wondered: where’s the smallest chunk of occupied land completely surrounded by Interstate highway?  Well, if “occupied” means “residential,” the answer might be Wright Street, a stubby cul-de-sac tucked inside the looping ramps of LA’s Harbor-Santa Monica Freeway interchange:

Wright Street and the Harbor-Santa Monica Freeway Interchange, 1964.

Wright Street (at bottom) and the Harbor-Santa Monica Freeway Interchange, 1964.

Back in 1884, Wright Street was just another new road on the outskirts of Los Angeles.  Bungalows quickly filled its freshly-surveyed lots, and as the city grew, apartments and commercial buildings soon followed.  In 1954, California’s first superhighway, the Harbor Freeway, passed two hundred feet westward, and a scant seven years later, the Santa Monica Freeway encroached from the east.  Construction began on the connecting ramps, and Wright winced as road workers halved its length, blocked off one end, and encircled it with concrete pillars topped by pavement.

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Attention To Detail

An Unexpected Discovery At Legoland

Mickey and Shamu hog most of the attention, but the discerning Bay Area six-year-old has another reason to travel to southern California: the sleeper theme park known as Legoland!  So, to it, my family unit went on a sunny spring morning a few days ago…

The following night, children and grown-ups alike dreamt of Miniland: the exquisite collection of urban mockups, clad in 20-million Lego blocks, that anchors the park at its center.  Within, you’ll find Washington D.C. and its monuments, a kid-friendly Bourbon Street sans the boobies and barfing, New York’s Empire State Building, and the Lilliputian City of San Francisco:

Miniland's San Francisco: Pier 39 in the foreground and the skyline to the upper right.

Part of Miniland's San Francisco: Pier 39 in the foreground, skyline to the upper right, and giants at left.

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Wild Coincidence

Big KnifeOn politics, we may not see eye to eye, but I’m still a fan of the Governator!  What’s not to love?   Arnie knows how to handle a knife.  The Terminator kicks ass.  And, above all, his pickup lines can’t be beat!  My personal favorite is six words of pure captivation:

I want to penetrate your body.

Go low and slow, with the trademark Austro-Hungarian accent, pulling “body” into a pair of separate utterances – baw and dee – otherwise, it doesn’t translate!  Also, to maximize success, win four Mr. Universe titles beforehand.

Earlier this October, Schwarzenegger and a gala of local Democrats intersected, by chance, at a San Francisco hotel.  Always the prankster, the Governator crashed the party, where, inexplicably, former councilman Aaron Peskin invited him onstage.  In the ensuing hell that broke loose, California Assembly member Tom Ammiano delivered assorted pleasantries, including “you lie!” as Arnold took the podium, and “kiss my gay ass!” on his way out.

A few days later, seemingly punitively, Arnie vetoed Ammiano-sponsored State Assembly Bill 1176, an inoffensive piece of legislation concerning the finances of the Port Of San Francisco.  As sometimes happens, he issued a statement that explained why, a portion of which is reproduced below:

Veto Statement for AB 1176

Veto Statement for AB 1176

We’ve highlighted the letters on the left margin, that, when read from top to bottom, spell a not-so-nice phrase.  Holy moly!  Did the Governator really mean that?

A Schwarzenegger spokesman calls it a “weird coincidence.”  But statistical experts disagree and have determined the odds of those words appearing at random: approximately one in 10,000,000.  Tsk tsk, Arnold!

However, hold the phones, for the creative insulter has a variety of tools at his disposal.  “FU” is great, but merely one of many pairings of Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words with pronouns.  There’s the milder, classic options: Damn You, Bite Me, etc.  Go homophobic, and you’ve got Fag Hag and a slew of filthier slurs.  And there’s more — all together, by my rough estimates, two-hundred-or-so foul and/or demeaning phrases of seven letters or less, depending upon the context.

Given that, and the Governator’s prodigious press output, we calculate the chance of him issuing an inadvertent insult, vertically along the left margin, in some document, over the span of a year, at about one in 50.  Still improbable, yes, but not one in 10 million, either.

For truly shocking levels of unintentional rudeness, go global!  From the billions of paragraphs created each day, an accidental left-letter insult is born once a minute.  Generalizing a bit, and counting what’s spelled in the verticals and diagonals throughout the entire text, an unplanned vulgarity enters the world every second!

Viewed as a “word search,” the Internet becomes a vast, angry sea, foaming with unpremeditated abuse and profanity!  Can someone upgrade their content filters to “bleep” this kind of thing, ASAP?  Please?!?!

Quick, Ammiano, draft some legislation to that effect, and Arnold, sign it this time!  We’ve got to save the children!

Roughing It

Tomorrow, my family unit embarks upon its annual journey to the wild lands of northeastern California, where we’ll spend seven days in the woods.  Our camp is truly in the middle of nowhere - on the shores of a lake in a remote corner of a rural county that encompasses a grand total of two (2) stop lights in its entirety.

Where it's at!

Where it's at!

There, we’ll awaken to the honks of geese floating through the fog.  Frolic lakeside in our skivvies.  Whittle.  Bake our extremities in the sun. Skip stones.  Canoe.  Use crude implements to prepare dinner, and with indescribable pleasure, vanquish a day’s hunger.  Spark twig-and-log teepees.  Roast marshmallows.  Poke at campfire coals.  Stroll under starlight to water’s edge.  Gawk alternately at Milky Way and Perseid streaks.  And finally, bathed in the crisp silence of mountain air, give ourselves back to glorious slumber.

But, most importantly, we shall wash away years of accumulated shame - finally hooking one of the wise and elusive inhabitants of the nearby loch.  For if we do not, Four-Fingered Jack and his Discount Online Fishin’ School will be receiving a most strongly-worded correspondence.  Of that, I can most undoubtedly assure you.

This is gonna be good.