Tuesday morning I woke at 3:30 a.m. to go catch a flight to Los Angeles. When I pulled out of the driveway at 4:20 a.m., my car had a flat tire. My wife kindly drove me to the airport, where I made my
6 a.m. flight to Los Angeles with time to spare. I worked productively in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
My assistant had pointed out that a hotel near the airport was advertising itself as having a tremendous sale. It turned out that this was the odd little hotel at Manchester and Lincoln, at which I have stayed many times over the years in its many incarnations. I think of it as one of those non-chain establishments where the value is good and the rooms are clean, but it usually has a kind of Second World feel to it, as if it were in Hungary in 1974. This time, it turned out it had been remade into a
"boutique hotel". I am fond of this odd hotel, so I thought I'd try its new incarnation. This airport-adjacent locale meant it was in/near Westchester, just down the street from an apartment in which we lived from 1991 to 1993. When we lived there, I was on a temporary work assignment (that turned into a decade-long sojourn). Being used to a charming little house in Mesquite, Texas, I termed this structure the "pink stucco nightmare". I have had genuinely fond memories of it, though, ever since.
Our favorite place to get breakfast was an outlet of the local chain Grinder's. I decided to go there for dinner, to have breakfast at night. Sadly, it was closed, a casualty of the economy now living on in my memory alone. When I arrived at the little boutique hotel, I found that parking was 20 dollars. Parking at an LAX airport hotel should never be 20 dollars a night. Also, I found that every guest there was European and hipper than I am. It is easy to be hipper than I am, but it is not as common to be European in Los Angeles as it is to be me. On the other hand, I am unique and many European people live and visit Los Angeles. The room was very nice and boutique-y, and I watched television and checked my computer and read "Little Dorrit" on my e-reader.
When I left the hotel at dawn Wednesday, everyone (but me) was eating a breakfast buffet and listening to techno music. I drove my rental car downtown, somehow managing to park in the Catacombs near the county archives. I completed my business at the courthouse. I called my assistant to get me an earlier flight, as my trip was originally planned to last a few days. She called back to say she could get me on a 12:10 p.m. flight. I began running back to get my rental car, when she called back to say that the flight was full, and I was on a 6:40 p.m. flight home.
I decided to spend my noon hour at Griffith Park Observatory. The last time I had been there I saw
lots of hawks, including one that had captured a little chipmunk it carried in its talons like a theme park ride. I think of that little chipmunk sometimes, snugly in the grasp, riding in mid-air. I hope, somehow, that it escaped, though I know that raptors need to eat.
When I first arrived, I heard a little chip-chip of a bird. It turned out it was on a bush not far from me. I did not know what kind of bird I was seeing, but I learned later it was a California towhee.
I took lots of pictures of California towhees. I stopped in the Observatory to ask the information desk for a birding guide. She instead gave me a map to the ranger station, about a mile or two away.
I drove to the little ranger station. There they had a display of a half dozen common local birds, though no proper bird book. I showed her my digital camera pictures, but she did not know her birds. She was an immense help, though, because she showed me where all the birds right by her little center were used to hanging out. She showed me where to look. Soon, I saw numerous acorn woodpeckers, a black phoebe,
numerous white-crowned sparrows, mockingbirds, and a red-tailed hawk.
I came out of the park on the Glendale side. You'd think, having lived in that area for some years, I would have remembered it better, but I got a bit lost and wandered way too long. I did not reach the westside of Los Angeles until 3 p.m., when I stopped to get a late lunch. Then I went to the public library on Manchester. I was so happy there--I could log into the internet and do work, and even charge my cell phone. I will visit that library again, as it was very conducive to getting things done. Next time I will be even more productive because I will not tour San Fernando Boulevard.
I caught my United Express flight in time, and sat next to a fellow who was dealing with 18-wheelers transport and going to visit a dying friend. A woman with a charming Canadian accent one row back was
talking about how she was training to do "business intelligence". Later, I saw a driver hold up a sign that said "Deloitte Leadership" something or other, so I suspect that was for her.
United Express is one of those airlines that gate-checks larger carry-ons and then returns them
at the gate. Last night, though, they switched it to make us all go to the place where checked bags come to pick up our carry-ons. One man droned with a drone worthy of a particularly emotive experimental music that he had been an XYZ important flyer club member who flew jlk times a year and this was UN ACCEPTABLE.
We all need to speak one word as if it were a two-word phrase from time to time.
My wife kindly met my flight at 11.35 p.m. This morning, I limped my car to work on its tiny ("doughnut") spare. I worked well today, though I still have much to do. I am thankful for much to do. I went to NTB, a tire chain, where they patched my tire at a cost of 23 dollars. I worked until 5.30. My wife had a meeting tonight, so I stopped by a Chinese buffet. I ate healthy food, but too much of it, and then went home.
Today I won a used computer on eBay. I will install Linux and lots of music programs on it. I must decide whether to go with Pear Linux again, or Bodhi Linux, or go with something non-Ubuntu-based this time.
I am not in the slightest an open source purist, and my musical hobby requires me to be able to use LAME and export/encode mp3s, so I will find a distro that is as newbie-friendly and plug-n-play as possible.
I figure configuring a used machine will reduce the risk of me doing something wrong and damaging my regular laptop that I use for work travel.
Tuesday a work matter required me to change audio from one format to another. I quickly downloaded Audacity, found that with LAME it offered lots of codecs but not the exotic one desired. I think
downloaded VLC, which offered exactly the conversion ability I needed. I may start using VLC whenever I need to encode or convert. I love that two freeware programs of roughly 20 MB each could do so much.
My dog likes to chase a stuffed brown rabbit and a very long snuffed schnauzer dog.