February 29, 2008

February 2008

Highlights: February marked another month of travel and visitors. Our best friends from Australia came out for two weeks and we did just about everything the Southwest has to offer - from Vegas to the Grand Canyon to Hollywood. It was a great reunion! We also spent a couple of days visiting Heather and Jodi in Minneapolis to celebrate birthdays and get a little taste of winter. Finally, at the end of the month we moved into a 1-bedroom in our same building. It's 1000 sq. feet of heaven and we have rarely left it since we moved in. March will be the first month since we got back from our trip where we don't have any trips planned or visitors coming. We'll be laying low, hanging with friends...

February Films:
  • Persepolis - 4/10
  • In Bruges - 9/10
  • There Will Be Blood - 7/10

    February Reading:
  • Eleanor Rigby - 8/10 - Coupland
  • Time/Rolling Stone

    February Miles:
  • 99.5 miles or 4.73 mpd (counting days I was in town)

    NEW - February Mileage:
  • 107 Total Miles Driven By Car (we car share with the Bills)
  • February 28, 2008

    I’m all the way back in 27a - a window seat. I hate the back and I dislike the window seat. When you pee twice an hour and you’re prone to brief moments of claustrophobia, window seats at the back of the aircraft just don’t work out. Lucky for me though, the middle seat is unoccupied. That’s one less person to witness me freaking out and one less person to crawl over.

    Over California: I just spotted my apartment building from 15,000 feet. I even like it from way up here. Okay, I admit - maybe the window seat is nice for take-off and landing.

    Over Nevada: The young woman in front of me is fat and jolly. One of those folks you hope not to sit next to on a flight when you don’t feel like talking or being squeezed to death. I can see that she’s watching a DVD. Something tells me it’s not Fight Club. I take a genre guess. Romantic Comedy. I lean forward and peer over the seat to find Sweet Home Alabama playing.

    Over Colorado: It came over the intercom suddenly and clearly. “Ladies and Gentlemen. If there is a Doctor or nurse on board, please press your call button.” This sends people into a mild frenzy. All the fake sleepers sit up. Headsets are removed. I look in front of me at all the little red lights above everyone’s seat. I’m lucky to be in the back of the plane. One light, two lights, three lights! A man slowly stands up and looks mildly annoyed, like this was an interruption to his viewing of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue he just picked up at the airport. A flight attendant moves quickly from the back with a first aid kit and joins the medical guy and they proceed forward, right through the curtain and into first class. The woman behind me snickers to her husband, “Ha! It’s someone in first class.” As If this classist woman believes someone in first class deserves a heart attack or something. Ten minutes later all seems to be okay. But I was nervous for those minutes in limbo. I mean, this is a direct flight that I went out of my way to purchase and the thought of an emergency landing is enough to make me lose my mind - especially because we’d probably have to land in Denver.

    Over Colorado: Free food! The advertisement in my seat pocket suggest Sun Country Air was the 2007 “#1 Airline for Customer Satisfaction.” I bet it’s because people love getting the meal. Unexpected free food can drown out any sort of complaint. The guy to my right carefully takes his sandwich out of the plastic and places it neatly on his tray. And then he bows his head down and prays like this ham and cheese sandwich is the last meal he’ll ever eat. I imagine him offering up requests for the person in first class and maybe even for me, the scruffy cut up jeans guy to his left. He’s still praying when the attendant offers me the same sandwich. Unfortunately, the sight of cheese sends my stomach into mayhem. But I take it anyway and offer it to the woman in front of me.

    Over Minnesota: I just finished several pages of The Stranger by Camus. It’s number 27 out of 55 books I’m reading in my late twenties that I should have read in my late teens.

    “Attention passengers. Please put your seat in the upright position and put all electronic devices away.”

    February 23, 2008

    If you live in one of these cities, and need to get to another one of these cities, you might consider taking the bus.

    I know what you're thinking. Greyhound. And Greyhound probably conjures up images of grime and long hours and funky smells, like traveling in a developing nation or something. It means multiple stops in out of the way towns. And costs that compare to driving your own vehicle.[a] But there is a new bus in town. It's MegaBus and here's why it's worth considering:

    1. Speed - MegaBus travels directly from city to city without stopping except for a short food break. I have taken MegaBus on several different routes and each trip took approximately 15-30 minutes longer than a car. Not bad when you consider how much easier it is to read, watch The Office on your iPod and stare out the window while riding on the bus.

    2. Costs - Ticket prices are unbelievably cheap on MegaBus. And I mean the kind of prices that we paid for public transport twenty years ago - especially if you book a couple of weeks in advance. For point-proving purposes, here are a few one-way examples I just plugged in over at MegaBus.com (vs. car costs @ .30 cents a mile):

    3/13/08 :: LA to San Diego - $1 ($36.30)

    3/13/08 :: LA to San Francisco - $10 ($114.60)

    3/13/08 :: LA to Las Vegas - $8 ($81)

    3/13/08 :: Chicago to Minneapolis - $15 ($122.40)

    3/13/08 :: Chicago to Indianapolis - $15 ($54.90)

    3/13/08 :: Chicago to Milwaukee - $1 ($27.60)

    3/13/08 :: Chicago to St. Louis - $10 ($89.10)

    3. Cleanliness - Each bus is clean, has a bathroom and the seats are nice and comfy. Plus Megabus targets a younger crowd and that usually translates into a pretty laid back atmosphere.

    4. Green Friendly - Even if every bus trip meant ten less vehicles doing the same trip, the environmental effect would be more than noticeable.

    We may not be up to European standards, but this is one step in the right direction. Next time you're thinking about getting in the car for a road trip to Wrigley or a weekend in Vegas, take the bus instead.


    [a] Now to Greyhound's credit, they seem to recognize their reputation and seem to be going in a new direction. In fact, their new slogan is "We're On Our Way" but truth to be told, they're still a long way off.

    February 16, 2008

    It's not too often that those of us living in Los Angeles can brag about something being cheap. Our cost of living is higher than almost anywhere in America, excluding New York and San Francisco. Not only is our studio apartment rent higher than most of your three bedroom house mortgages, we also pay more at the pump, the grocery store and even at the movie theater.

    So you can imagine my delight every time I go to our favorite locally owned fruits and veg shop - Lake Produce - where the prices on just about everything are significantly lower than everywhere else in town. Here's what I got today, all for the rock bottom price of $19.50:

    1 - Cantelope
    12 - Jonagold Apples
    2 - Carrots
    3 - Potatoes
    3 pounds of Strawberries
    1 - Grapes
    9 - Bananas
    1 - Celery
    1 - Onion
    3 - Limes
    2 - Lemons
    2 - Jalepenos