Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Ima Very Important Mother Fluter

This week is Jules' VIP week at school. It means we made a poster about him with pictures and his favorite things and colors and he had to talk about himself in front of everyone. He said he was shy. It also means a family member can come in a talk to the whole class about themselves, too. I vaguely remember doing this for Matthew and Diana, my nephew and niece, when they were in kindergarten but dude, that was a million years ago. And Patrick might've gone once. Anyway, I'm going tomorrow and I decided to take my flute and piccolo and play for them. I've known about this for ages and had plenty of time to prepare but what can I say? Last minute almost always works out so I never learn my lesson. Maybe I'll talk about loving music and practicing. I'm pretty sure that's something I can talk about with authority. I'm taking a CD with the backing band  from this jazz book I've been working on with Lynda, and am hoping I have it down well enough to play it in front of them. I practiced it for about 45 minutes with and without the band and it sounded good enough for kindergarten. By tomorrow it will be awesome. Because that's what happens when you practice.

(Most of the time.)

We also picked up some super cheap but still nicely made recorders, flute pencils, and little erasers shaped like eighth notes. Patrick, for some reason, did not initially want me to put the pencils in the plastic carrying case the recorders come with, so I went to Walgreens to find some rubber bands. While I was walking around, I ran across this body lotion by that brand "Hempz." This is the same brand they used at the spa I visited in San Diego and I really liked it but haven't been able to find in an actual store. While I was idly walking around in Walgreens (I love browsing Walgreens), this man came in and said loudly to the girl stocking in the makeup aisle, "DO YOU HAVE ANY PUMICE STONES?" Except he pronounced it "pomice." The girl, understandably, didn't understand him, so he said, "Maybe your assistant over there [there was another employee nearby] knows." So they go over and the other girl shows him and he asks a million questions about pumice stones, which is weird, because they may have had a couple different brands or sizes but seriously, a pumice stone only does one thing. It might be one of the earliest self-care inventions. You know? The caveman invented fire and realized that because he could now see his feet, he'd better figure out a way to get those babies soft again.

(After he walked away, the other girl said to the first, "Do I seriously look like somebody's assistant??" Her incredulity was a tiny bit misplaced, because, well, yeah, kinda, but I understood her point, having worked in retail myself.)

So I walked by the first girl and we rolled our eyes about this crazy guy, doing price comparisons and consumer reports analysis on pumice stones, and I was about to ask her if they carry the Hempz brand  shower lotion, and oh yeah, what about that Biosilk stuff I use in my hair, and then I realized, there are two people shopping here and one of them is paying for a pumice stone with nickles and dimes and the other one is buying expensive body lotion and rubber bands. I mean, these girls won the jackpot with weird customers tonight. So I paid for my stuff and left.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Why, yes, I do have an opinion on things! Thanks for asking! - Updated

I got an email from Metro, inviting me to take a survey about their proposed budget and (I guess) offering me an opportunity to voice my opinions about their services and what changes I would like to see.

Needless to say, this could not have been a more perfect opportunity. Maybe if they'd asked my opinion on sidewalks, parking lots, and mall design? I mean, seriously. WHY DID I NOT STUDY CIVIL ENGINEERING? Oh, yeah: math. Anyway, I did not waste this chance.

(There's irony in that paragraph. And maybe a little regret.)

One of the questions was this:

"How should we improve our highways and manage congestion?"

Then they included the following paragraphs, which, frankly, made me laugh out loud:

"Metro's Highway Improvements and Congestion Management programs are designed to tackle the ever present issue of traffic congestion in the region, whether by assisting broken down vehicles, clearing traffic accidents, promoting ridesharing or providing toll-based alternatives to waiting in traffic.

The average commute time for LA drivers is around 30 minutes and the average one-way trip is 20 miles. Would you support converting more regular lanes to toll/carpool lanes to reduce commute time or increase highway speed?"

My answer included the following:

"If I could make my 20 mile commute in 30 minutes I would not be here making comments. That would be a miracle. You're totally dreaming."

I mean, what the hell? I leave home between 5:45 and 6:15 every day. My commute is 19 miles. If I leave earlier or later, it makes no difference: those 19 miles take 45 minutes to an hour (more frequently, an hour) and sometimes an hour and ten minutes. The same goes for going home, at 4:30. The only way anyone could do a 20 mile commute in 30 minutes during the average times people actually have to be at work would be if they were flying. Hovercraft, actual airplane, wing appendages: whatever, there's just no way for a normal person to make that commute.

One thing I didn't tell them was that I thought that their freeway assistance program was pretty great. I used it a few times in my old Toyota (once I had a flat on the 405 going south to a meeting at a Barnes and Noble in Brea or somewhere like that), and the guy was there in under 10 minutes. I think this even hapened in the days before I had a cell phone, because I remember using the call box. And I've seen them on the side of the road, helping other people. I didn't mention it because my personal experience is from like 20 years ago.


I got old all of a sudden. In a post about Metro, I got fucking old.

Anyway, it's nice that I had a chance to tell them what I think. And hey, I think taking away regular lanes to create more carpool or toll lanes is a terrible idea. They need to come up with something more creative than that. And no, though they didn't ask, I don't think self-driving cars is a good solution either.


I completely forgot that after we took Jules to Walt Disney Hall for one of their "Toyota Symphony for Youth" events, they also (made the mistake of) asked for my opinion on that experience.

Needless to say, I had nothing but praise for the musical portion of the event. They staged a little performance piece with a pianist and the piano technician (possibly an actor, or just a very gregarious tech?), and Piano No. 605, and the orchestra. It was cute, an hour, and Jules loved it. However, they had some pre-show activities that I was a bit disappointed in. Here's what I had to say:

"My family and I attended the most recent Toyota Symphony for Youth (Art of the Piano) and while my six-year old enjoyed the actual performance very much (we were sitting in the Orchestra View section, right behind the trumpets and timpani player), I was a little disappointed in the pre-concert activities. I really expected more: perhaps a blown-apart piano to inspect, or hands on with the guts of an instrument. I was disappointed in the amount of instruments offered in the "petting zoo" - I understand that for health reasons you couldn't offer up woodwinds for trying out, but demonstrations or performers would have added so much more than the few drums/percussion instruments and the violins (no bass?? I heard a woman in line behind me hoping there would be a double bass to try, and I'm sure she was disappointed, too). The drum demonstration was a lot of fun, though, and we really did enjoy ourselves (all the volunteers were very sweet and made it a very fun day). I just think there were more opportunities to make that a truly immersive experience for everyone."

Yeah, man, I said "immersive."

Spewing my opinion, one email and blog post at a time, that's me.