Category: Los Angeles

Nov 16 2008

Southwest 2795 – SFO – LAX

I’m currently sitting in SFO, waiting for my flight back to LA. The flight’s apparently on time (the first on time flight I’ve had in longer than I can remember!), but oversold…they’re calling for people to switch planes, offering up $200 plus price of ticket and a flight at 9pm. Eh. Doesn’t sound like such a good deal to me, the extra hours of parking in LA would chomp into that a bit.

The one time I’ve taken that kind of deal from an airline it was one of those perfect offers that I couldn’t say no to. I was flying from Las Vegas home to San Jose, and there were terrible storms in SJ. Thunder, lightning, high winds, the whole bit. Our plane hadn’t even been able to leave San Jose yet, it was stuck on a ground hold.

The flight before mine had just been canceled, mine was delayed at least 2 hours, and the gate agent was telling us all that there was a strong chance the flight would be canceled completely. The initial offer was to be put on a flight later that night, and in return get a free round trip ticket on the airline (this was American) anywhere in the continental US. I offered myself up for that one, hell, it was VEGAS, I wasn’t going to complain about being stuck there (didn’t hurt that I had friends who lived there), and my job was flexible enough that the world wouldn’t end if I showed up late in the am. An hour later, the gate agent tells me that the second flight is probably going to be canceled as well, which meant there wouldn’t be any more flights out that night.

Since I’d offered myself up to be bumped off of my flight earlier, they were going to give me a comp hotel room and food vouchers, plus a first class seat on the first flight out in the morning.

Everyone who’d waited and tried to go on the actual flight was shit out of luck – they had to wait until the morning to fly as well, but the airline doesn’t comp things because of weather. Some of them even tried to offer up their seats to see if that’d work, but you kinda can’t offer up a seat on a flight that was canceled.

I was lucky, no doubt. I’d ended up in their system as someone who had volunteered to give up her seat for a flight that was subsequently canceled, which made everything their fault, not the weather’s. It was a little funny seeing all the same faces on the flight that morning as the people on the original flight from the day before. They were all tired and grumpy. Me, I’d had an extra night in Vegas, in an actual hotel, hung out with my friends for 12 hrs, AND got a free round trip ticket.

I’m not an “expert” traveler, but I have traveled enough that I’m getting pretty close. So my one piece of advice – if airlines are asking people to jump flights, think about a few things:

– Likelihood of the flight you were originally booked on leaving

– Likelihood of the flight you will be placed on leaving (if one flight’s overbooked, chances are very good that the whole airline is all day)

– If being placed in a hotel – what hotel, and does the airline fully pay for it. This can be significant, as some airlines only have discount vouchers for dumpy motels, while others will put you up in a “real” hotel.

– Price to you if you don’t get home until the next day. This includes job responsibilities, baby/pet sitting, parking, etc.

– Can they get your luggage off of the current flight? Sometimes the answer is no.

– Where are you. I was once on a flight from O’Hare to Dulles that was delayed on the runway for 6 hours before returning to the terminal for technical issues. After waiting another couple of hours in the terminal we were offered (all paid) a night in the hotel, dinner/breakfast, and a flight out the next morning. No miles, no money. I asked ‘what if we don’t want it,’ and they told me that the plane had to get to Dulles regardless, so it would eventually be leaving. It just may not be leaving until 3am. Well, I truly didn’t want to spend a night in the O’Hare airport hotel, I really wanted to sleep in my old bed, and at this point, I kinda felt like I’d waited for so long that I deserved to go home. So, I waited! Flight landed in Dulles at about 4:30am. The original flight was supposed to leave O’Hare at 4pm. It was absolutely insane, but at the end it was kind of fun flying on a 747 with 10 people on it (everyone else had decided to spend the night).

Another announcement asking people to volunteer. If they gave more than $200, maybe people would take it?

Also, the more desperate they get, the better the deal. For example, the deal here just changed – now they’re offering a 5pm out of Oakland instead of the 9pm flight here.

Me, I need to get back tonight. I could theoretically get back later, but I’d have to get to oakland, and I’d much rather get home at 6 than at 9. Plus, I checked baggage, and I’m always to paranoid to flip flights when I’ve checked a bag. I don’t think I would take this deal, no matter how great it became, I just want to go home.

That’s another big thing for ppl to remember – Southwest, in particular, is a wonderful airline to change flights on. However, if you have a checked bag, you have a good chance of losing it.

I fly from LAX to SFO a lot, and more often than not, San Francisco is fogged in. If I don’t have bags checked (which is most of the time I fly), I go from counter to counter around LAX looking for another Southwest bay area flight leaving earlier than my delayed flight. And 9 times out of 10, I get on a better flight. Now, depending on where I’m going, San Jose can be more trouble than its worth, but Oakland is just as easy as SFO. So ALWAYS check around at the other flights, and especially with Southwest, just ask someone. All the Southwest gate agents are really nice, and extremely helpful.

Now the offer is $200 travel voucher, refund on ticket, and flight out of oakland at 6. Only one person volunteered so far, they need 5. It’s gonna be ugly once they start bumping people.

Aah well, enough blabbering for me, time to close this down and get on the plane!

Nov 04 2008

Vote Because You Can!

If you’re on the east coast, I hope you already voted, as polls there are closed.

If you’re on the west coast, please go vote if you haven’t!!

Me, this was my first election voting in the rather large complex I live in, and I had no idea what to expect. My complex has around 20k people, and voting here included four districts…all the surrounding complexes came here as well.

I was initially going to vote this am, and went to the polling place a little before 9 to check it out. I’d been thinking I was going to miss the morning rush by going then.

Not quite. There was a line wrapping around the block (further than I could see), and I was promptly told they were guestimating a three hour wait. I absolutely love that so many people turned out to vote, but I waited four hours to vote in Virginia during the last election (8am – 12pm) and didn’t really want to do that again.

I left, went to work, and went back to vote around 3:30. It was still slightly crowded, but the only problems I could see were due to the terrible process they were using. Every person had to go to a security guard type person who then looked up our apartment building on a map to figure out our district (we’re all in the same zip code). I saw him easily spending 5 minutes per person.

After the district was all figured out, we were shuffled into colored lines. Each district had about four voting booths inside, and a poll worker person would come out and call for more people as they were available. I was pink, which had a short line. Green had a huge line, and the other colors had no line at all.

Couple things worth mentioning:

– You could find out what color line to get in if you looked for your polling place online, but the letter sent in the mail only included district number. If you hadn’t looked online, you had to talk to the dude.

– The places for us to line up were marked by pieces of masking tape on the ground with the name of the color written on it in ballpoint pen.

– Districts are supposed to have the same number of people by census, but
not necessarily the same number of registered voters. Some thought should have been given to the number of machines used per district, it made no sense to have machines sitting idle like that.

– There was no exit. People would have to either smush past people online to walk out the door, or walk around tables, past another district’s voting machines to get out.

Make copies of that stupid map so one person wasn’t the hold up (people really can find their own apartment on a map), make big colored signs to mark where to stand, and massively speed up the process right there. Have signs saying which numbers were which colors, since a ton of people brought their letter. Let people find their own way, and only deal with the dude if they couldn’t read the map.

Obviously, the silly process isn’t important in the long run, but it did astonish me how little thought seemed to go into it. I mean…how hard is it to buy green cardboard. Or at the very least, a green marker.

The complex was great about notifying people about voter registration,
but didn’t mail or post a thing about actual voting – I was amazed there wasn’t at least one sign telling us where to go. How about posting something, and telling everyone to look up their color online before going? Not everyone would, of course, but it couldn’t hurt.

Anyway, once inside, it was the usual. One person looked me up, had me sign, another person looked up my address, checked it off. I was handed a ballot, and waived to the first empty machine.

I voted, making sure to make big strong punch holes in that thingy (no hanging chads for me!). After, I handed the ballot to another person, who made me watch them scan it to see the light turn green (this part was new to me).

I was seeing a high number of people being told they couldn’t vote – I’d previously only seen this happen once before in NY (which didn’t have provisional ballots). I’m not sure of the reasons, at least once person simply “wasn’t on the list,” but it was a little weird, especially since it wasn’t that crowded. 3 people out of the 50 or so in there really is a large number.

Voting is a big deal to me. It’s a right every American citizen has, and needs to exercise. Nobody ever gets to know how I voted. I’m sure everyone could guess my vote for president, but I have a feeling not everyone would agree with me on some of my votes for propositions (of course I voted no on 8). And that doesn’t matter one bit! My vote is my secret, and nobody gets to know anything about how I feel.

To once again use one of my favorite quotes… “the personal is political.” Today, more than any other day in the year, it’s very, very true. The results of this election will effect your life in one way or another over the next few years. It could also drastically effect the lives of other people. Complaining later means nothing. Voting today is what will mean something.

Sure, the process isn’t perfect, and there was a lot of stupidity going on today. At least the process exists, though, and we have that chance to vote…even if it takes hours to do it.

You have a right to make your opinion heard. Use it.

Nov 02 2008

Weather!!

We had weather in LA yesterday. Really! Actual, normal weather. The sky opened up, and it began pouring, complete with thunder and lightning.

This is really not news, but here it’s pretty funny. Nobody is ever prepared for rain. People don’t know how to drive when the roads get slick, and since it never really rains, there’s always a ton of stuff sitting around outside. Everywhere you looked yesterday people were scrambling trying to pull down halloween decorations, or for one poor unfortunate soul on my street, thanksgiving decorations! So much for being a little early with that turkey – it’s kind of waterlogged now.

Personally, I find it very ironic that it should rain, and in November at that. One of the entries I wrote last year in November was about my irrational fear of lightning. In that entry, I said (direct quote) “I’m not so sure I have to worry about huge thunderstorms in LA.”

HAH!

Ok, this was one thunderstorm in allllll the time I’ve lived in LA. It still makes me laugh, though. Nobody expects “normal” in Los Angeles. This was very normal. People didn’t know how to react, but LA is still standing nontheless.

Now, if I could only get some snow…

Jul 14 2008

LA Cops – Another Good Thing

Really! That’s not a joke. I have had surprisingly “good” experiences with cops across the board, but this one takes the cake.

I was pulled over about three weeks ago for rolling through a stop sign. I’m absolutely positive I did it, I was late to an appointment, and I’m very aware that when I get rushed I drive a little more erratic.

Cop runs my license and discovers that it was suspended in Virginia (I had kept my Virginia license/registration for a number of reasons) for “lack of insurance.” Cop was also holding a valid insurance card. I think he was slightly entertained by the situation, I was stunned at hearing that my license was suspended and can only imagine how silly my reaction was.

He gave me a ticket with a court date, and waited while a friend of mine picked me up (since I couldn’t drive away with a suspended license) instead of towing my car.

Since then, I have gotten my Virginia license reinstated, have letters from my insurance company in both Virginia and California stating that I am insured, AND got my California license and registration. I also discovered that my license had been suspended due to my Virginia insurance company telling the DMV that I canceled my policy, not that I transferred it out of state. If they think you’re uninsured, your license is automatically suspended.

This morning was my court date. Driving under a suspended license is an “uncorrectable” misdemenor, which means a trip in front of a judge. Waited on a looong line to see the clerk, who discovered that my ticket didn’t exist. From there, I was sent to the city attorney’s office – same, my ticket didn’t exist. The cop never turned it in.

My theory? The cop didn’t really want to ding me for a situation that really was a mistake, Virginia reinstated my license as soon as I faxed them my insurance letters with no questions asked. I still don’t know how long my license was suspended for. I think the cop did, however, did want to give me at least some grief for not registering my car/getting my license when I moved here a year ago. So, he made me spend a day running around the city waiting in lines.

I understand that, and would rather waste a day on lines to verify that I didn’t have anything to do, than worry about standing in front of a judge.

So to whoever that cop was – thank you. I have no idea what would have happened in front of a judge, but I’m very thankful that I don’t have to find out.

Nov 27 2007

Shocked at School

I think a lot of people saw the bus safety videos in school with the huge accidents happening from not paying attention – in one a girl was run over by the bus, in another a kid sliced his neck open – pretty nasty stuff. Especially given that I was already kind of a fraidy cat. Scary TV and movies just weren’t my thing back then.

When I was in eighth grade, the trains from my suburb to NYC were upgraded to include a third rail to power the trains. In the great tradition of those bus safety videos, we got videos showing us how you would be electrocuted if you went near the third rail. Those were closely followed by some other videos on the dangers of lightning.

After those “educational” videos, I was certainly scared. My friends and I would throw candy down at the third rail, just waiting to see something sizzle. I had nightmares about stepping on the third rail and not being grounded properly, the whole concept of only being safe if electricity ran straight through your body freaked me out to no end.

Not that I needed scaring, electricity already had me scared enough, in the form of lightning. I’d spent every summer of my life in a pool, and knew full well what happened at the very first rumble of thunder. Lifeguards started screaming to get out of the pool. You were going to get electrocuted!!

I don’t know how many months or years later, but one night, I was on the phone in a room upstairs in my house. My house was set back somewhat from the road, and surrounded by big, tall trees. It was thundering and lightning out, but I was a teenage girl, and someone was on the phone.

The phone was wired, of course, no wireless yet, and set directly next to a window facing the trees.

I started jabbering away, and tried not to pay attention to the thunder and lighting. I distinctly remember turning my back on the window so I wouldn’t see the lightning. But then I heard and felt a huge “pop” in my ear…and the lights went out. I was fine, it was just some static thing, and it was hardly uncommon for us to lose power during a storm. Regardless, I was very spooked.

There have been lots of other incidents like that since – all coincidences that I’m translating as scary, I know. I’m that person who powers down everything the second there’s a storm. Or at least, I did when I lived in Virginia, my building was the tallest around, and was regularly hit by lightning during a storm. Our power would go out for a second or two, then back on, but even that was enough to make me worry about my electronics. I’m not so sure I have to worry about huge thunderstorms in LA.

That’s my thing. I hate lightning, am freaked out by the idea of electrical currents, and anyone who knows me has probably seen me turn green at the sound of thunder. Someday I’ll get over it, maybe. But first, I need to settle things with Tom Baker.

Nov 17 2007

Living in LA is Wacky

I live in West Hollywood, which is a pretty cool neighborhood to live in. I’m walking distance to the Grove shopping center, five minutes to the Beverly Center, and a little over 10 minutes from work….if there isn’t any traffic. In reality it tends to take me about 20 minutes to get to work, and 30 – 60 minutes to get home.

My neighborhood is very busy, lots of resturants and shopping, and traffic is obviously a problem.

On Wednesday, signs began going up warning of excessive traffic on Sunday – the Grove was going to be closing at four. I pretty much can’t leave my apartment if there’s going to be “excessive traffic” – god only knows what they consider “excessive,” considering what typical is (especially now that there are writers picketing outside CBS, and news crews all over the WGA office) – I finally got around to looking up what was going on today.

The Grove is having their tree-lighting ceremony, and apparently, it’s a big deal. The Goo Goo Dolls are performing, as well as Patti Labelle and a whole slew of other folks. Being able to walk to Nordstrom has always been nice, but this happening across the street is going to be sweet!

Guess I’m NOT stuck at home tomorrow night. I mean, with the traffic and all, it’s not like I can do anything else. Why not go?

I never thought it would happen, but, I’m really starting to settle in to LA. Go fig!

May 20 2007

And this is LA!

first off, all navigation systems are NOT created equal. the one hertz gave me was good, problematic at times, but good enough that I could see buying it. This time I have one from Alamo, and I would never buy it. It’s functional, but difficult to use, and I’ve crashed it twice already.

and speaking of crashing – I’ve crashed my treo three times in as many days. it may be time for me to start looking at new phones, I guess two years is a good run for this one.

On a happier note – I now officially live in LA, keys and all. I’m at a hotel in beverly hills until my stuff gets here in two weeks or so, but the apartment is allllll mine.

I start the new job tomorrow, so tonight is going to be spent watching TV and trying not to stress so much….I’m in that excited-but-way-antsy/nervous phase right now. well, and on east coast time…i couldn’t sleep late today, as much as I tried to.

enough with the blabbing for now….there’s a csi on now about a ‘killer video game,’ I think I have to watch and laugh.

[Posted with hblogger 2.0 http://www.normsoft.com/hblogger/]

May 06 2007

Home Sweet Home

Or at least, this will be home for two more weeks. I’m wiped out, to say the least, but actually signing a lease in LA and having an address I’m moving to helps my anxiety level a lot. Going into the office kind of both helped and made me more stressed out, but I think that was to be expected.

I was taking pictures of all of the apartments I saw (otherwise they all really start to run together) and uploaded the pics of the place I’m moving into. Here’s the view from my living room:

View

If you’re interested in seeing more, the whole gallery’s over at Flickr.

And now I’m off to be a lump on my couch for a while. :)

May 04 2007

How to waste time at an airport.

1) drink. two is more than enough, the idea is NOT to get drunk, just to make the wait more enjoyable. then do the following….

2) befriend random people and take some sick satisfaction that they’re stuck there longer than you. you also get great stories about how stupid ppl. don’t tell them they’re idiots, of course, encourage them to talk and entertain you.

3) window shop. You won’t find anything worth buying (well, I got the new tom clancy-lite book), but mainly just laugh at the crap for sale. seriously, who is gonna buy a brass statue of liberty in LA?

4) wander. lax is a big airport and worth exploring a bit. going from terminal to terminal is fine….the more you walk, the better you’ll be sitting still on the plane for six hrs.

5) people watch. guess where people are going…then see if you’re right. along those lines…

6) check out the different ppl at different gates. ex: folks going to tokyo vs those going to oklahoma. silly, but interesting.

7) read trashy magazines. books are for extended reading time…the plane….junk mags are for wasting time.

8) catch up on podcasts. just try not to look too stupid laughing at diggnation…remember, you’ve been drinking, but you are NOT DRUNK. no acting like a dufus.

9) write a long rambly lj entry.

and most important..

10) don’t get to your gate until just before boarding. don’t be that person who hovers….you’re all getting on the plane anyway, who cares if you’re the first person on in seating one. not to mention, its fun walking by all of the idiots hovering and getting right on the plane.

…and now I have wasted two hours, heard some good stories, met some fun ppl, and am boarding in 45 mins. not bad, right?

[Posted with hblogger 2.0 http://www.normsoft.com/hblogger/]

May 04 2007

Only in LA…

Parking attendant at the hotel this morning: ‘you have beautiful eyes.’

me: ‘thanks.’

him: ‘are they real?’

sheesh.

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