Thursday, October 08, 2015

Bullets For Better Brains Law

In a piece in The Hill, Anhvinh Doanvo questions the Republican response that mental illness kills, not guns.
 "the record and policy proposals of most leading Republicans indicate  their interest in mental health is more of an excuse to not talk about gun control than a genuine effort to develop nuanced systems that reduce the federal budget and protect the safety of the public."

The Republicans are strong on cutting the budget and strong on preventing any form of gun control.  Actually, I don't think that many of them care that much about stopping gun control, but their funders do.  So, here's my modest proposal to tie mental health funding to gun deaths:

Bullets For Better Brains Law

This federal law would commit $1 million dollars to mental health research, education, and treatment for every person killed in the United States by a gun.  The amount per death would increase by the number of people killed in a specific incident.  Thus, if two people were killed, it would require $2 million per death,  three people would be $3 million per death, four people would be $4 per death, etc.  So the recent Oregon shooting where ten people were killed would cost $10 million per death or $100 million.

A commission of educators, mental health experts, police, judges, social workers, family of gun victims, and mental health patients, and suicide survivors would determine how the money is spent.

The intent of the law is to:

1.  Reduce mental illness in the US
2.  Increase understanding of mental illness
3.  Give budget cutting legislators more incentive to reduce gun deaths in the US

If the Republicans are right, theoretically, the more money spent well on mental health, the fewer gun deaths there would be.  As gun deaths drop, so would the budget.  For Republicans, except for the initial expenditure, it's win/win.  Gun deaths go down and the budget goes down with them.  (Not to mention the dropping of all the police, court, hospital, and emotional costs that are associated with each gun death.)

However if their theory doesn't hold up and gun deaths don't go down, then mental health will prove not to be the critical issue, and the Republicans will have to face the possibilities that guns are the real problem.

Fiscal Note:  According to USConservatives (and supported elsewhere) there are about 32,000 gun deaths per year.   Thus, this bill would, to start, require an expenditure $32,000,000,000, though that number doesn't include the extra costs for multiple death shootings.  With every thousand deaths reduced, there would be a $1 billion cut to the budget. 

[Repost cause Feedburner isn't feeding.]

Japanese Garden, Lilies, Birds, And Water

We visited with an old friend we hadn't seen in years.  She recommended the Japanese Garden in Van Nuys as the meeting place. 

Wow, we didn't even know it existed.  It was a great place to walk and talk. 

We know the Japanese Garden in Portland fairly well, having lived close to it when we were in that city for six months.   This one is totally different and interesting in its own way.

Lots of birds.  Like this osprey. 

And lots of lilies in a long flat rectangular lily and lotus pond.

And a wonderful way to catch up on lives. 

Not much time now.  Headed for the airport and Seattle before we get home.  If all goes well, we'll meet our granddaughter's plane in Seattle, which is why we're on such an early flight.  (Well, an 8 o'clock flight doesn't sound so early, it's getting to the airport on time that's the killer.)

So here are some of the pictures.


Snowy Egret

There's an American Bittern sitting on the rock

There's also a very big modern building on the grounds that seemed too big and the style too space-agey for a Japanese Garden.  It turns out the garden is really part of a large water reclamation plant which sits directly next door and the building is for that rather than the garden. 

I didn't take any pictures of the building except of the garden through the walkway around the building.

The AAA explains this relationship:
"The Japanese Garden at the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant, 6100 Woodley Ave., is a water-treatment facility highlighted by a 6.5-acre Japanese garden."

It's a stark contrast between the garden and the plant which abut each other. 

And, apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks the building (not the plant, but the building which I didn't take pictures of) is space agey. From a Memory Wikia:
"The location can also be seen in episodes of Knight Rider (1986), Murder, She Wrote (1993), Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (1995), L.A. Heat (1997), Charmed (1999), and Numb3rs (2009) and was featured in the action comedy Dead Heat (1988, starring Joe Piscopo), the crime drama Rising Sun (1993), the science fiction film CyberTracker (1994), the action film Red Sun Rising (1994), the comedy Bio-Dome (1996), the comedy Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997), the thriller Most Wanted (1997), the science fiction thriller Terminal Error (2002, with Marina Sirtis and Michael Nouri), and the science fiction film Sci-Fighter (2004). [1]"

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Chuitna Citizens Coalition Gets Rights on Lower Reach of Middle Creek/Stream 2003 But Not Main And Middle Reaches

 The decision is just out.  Here's the DNR press release with links to the decision.  Haven't had time to figure out what it means.  At first glance this looks like a cutting the baby in thirds decision that will leave everyone dissatisfied, but then the parts of the Creek where rights weren't granted, it seems, weren't denied, but deferred because "they were not ready for decision."  

[Note at 11:17am same day after a little more careful reading:  It also says at the end:  "We will not approve significant impacts to the Chuitna River."  The mine plans to excavate thousands of acres 300 feet deep, including parts of the river.  They then say they will restore it after the coal mining.  But shutting down of the river - even if they actually can restore it later - has to qualify as "significant impacts" and so this seems to be a significant win for the Chuitna Citizens Coalition.]

Here's the press release: (with links to the whole decision)
"Decision reached on water reservation applications in Chuitna River watershed
The Division of Mining, Land & Water has issued a decision on the Chuitna Citizens Coalition Inc.'s three applications for instream flow reservations for Middle Creek/Stream 2003, a tributary of the Chuitna River. Two of the applications are for segments of the stream located within the footprint of the proposed Chuitna Coal project.
After review of the facts in the administrative record, public comments and hearing, the decision grants the Chuitna Citizen Coalition's application for the lower reach of Middle Creek/Stream 2003 but does not grant its applications for the creek's main and middle reaches. This decision does not award any permits or water rights to the proposed coal project.
This decision is a reasoned approach that reached conclusion on the lower reach of Middle Creek/Stream 2003 while denying the applications for reservations on the main and middle reaches because they are not ready for decision. The division cannot not yet determine, on this incomplete record, which of the competing applications for the same water would be subject to a preference as the most beneficial use. The division will adjudicate any remaining requests for water rights or instream flow applications in the Chuitna River watershed after the Clean Water Act 404, Surface Mining Coal Regulatory Act (SMCRA) and Title 16 fish habitat permits are done so that we can consider impacts to the watershed by an approved mine plan. We will not approve significant impacts to the Chuitna River. [emphasis added]
Please review the following documents to better understand the decision.

OK, that's it for now.  The mine company, PacRim, and the various other opponents flat out said the reservation should be rejected, so in that sense it's a loss for them and a win for the Chuitna Citizens Coalition, but I hate to talk in terms of wins and losses.

This is not over and the decision is likely to be challenged in court. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Dave Schade To Sign Chuitna Decision After Hours Tonight - To Be Posted Tomorrow Morning - Memos and Maps

As a blogger who works from home or wherever I happen to be, but basically without colleagues, I sometimes feel like maybe something happened but I didn't know about it.  I did google around to see if the Chuitna Citizens' Coalition application for an Instream Flow Reservation had been decided on before posting last night that the decision was due today.

This morning I checked the DNR webpages and also the Coalition's Facebook page, but there were no announcements.  I called the Chief of the Water Resources Management Unit, Dave Schade, who is the person who has to sign the decision.  His phone said he's out of the office for a week or so.  So I tracked down someone else and left a voice mail.

Elizabeth Bluemink called me back a bit ago to say that Schade will sign the document around 8pm tonight and that it would be posted tomorrow morning.  In the meantime, she's sending out copies of documents that are related but don't talk directly about the decision.

So I've posted them on Scrbd and embedded them below so you can look for clues to what the decision will be.

1.  A memo to the Commissioner of DNR called a primer on Types of Water Use.  This is sort of a Water Use for Dummies version that's pretty straightforward.  As I read it - having been to the objections hearing, but without any specific expertise here - it sounds like the opposition's arguments that the application should be simply denied was a lot of smoke.  But I'm sure there are subtleties here I'm missing.  Judge for yourself. 

2.  A list of water reservations certificates in Alaska.  There are 75 bodies of water listed (mostly rivers, then creeks, then lakes) and 131 certificates.

3. A map of the Chuitna Coal Mine project - which I can't totally make sense of.  I think my problem is that this is about the mine and doesn't identify the area where the Chuitna Citizens' Coalition is applying for the IFR.  But maybe I'm just missing it.

4.  The memo sent out to notify potential objectors to the reservation that the hearing would be held.  I don't have that up in this post, but I did post it before the hearing and have it at Srbd already.

Monday, October 05, 2015

IFR, Fish v. Coal: The Chuitna Water Decision Due October 6

Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015 is the court ordered deadline for the Department of Natural Resources to make its decision on the Instream Flow Reservation application by the Chuitna Citizens Coalition.  I did a brief post during the lunch break for the hearing back in August and was hoping to try to give a better sense of what was argued.  But as a presidential candidate recently said, "stuff happens" and I didn't get around to it.

But tomorrow the decision is due and so I feel a need to at least say something here.  For a more organized view of the hearing itself, you can check Zaz Hollander's ADN article

Above everything, you need to understand what an IFR application is, because this hearing was about such an application.

This is important if you are to understand anything about this, because those opposing the application from the Chuitna Citizens' Coalition argued they had no business filing for this application in the first place and that DNR has only one option:  to reject it.   So Read Carefully.

So here's from DNR's own website:
What is reservation of water for instream use?
A reservation of water for instream use is a water right that protects specific instream water uses,such as fish spawning or recreation. It sets aside the water necessary for these activities and keeps later water users from appropriating water that may affect the instream activity.
Water can be reserved for one or more permissible uses on a particular part of a stream or lake during a certain period of time. Under AS 46.15.145, permissible instream uses include:
  • Protection of fish and wildlife habitat, migration, and propagation
  • Recreation and parks
  • Navigation and transportation
  • Sanitation and water quality
A reservation of water for one use may also allow that same water to be used or reserved for another purpose. For example, a reservation for recreation may also benefit fish spawning.
Like an out-of-stream water right, an instream reservation of water is similar to a property right. It cannot be abandoned,transferred, assigned, or converted to another use without approval of the Department of Natural Resources.
Who can apply for a reservation of water?
Private individuals,organizations, and government agencies may apply for a reservation of water for instream use.  

Underlying Conflict

Essentially, the hearing exemplified the two narratives that were spelled out by sociobiologist E. O. Wilson's two narratives as he spells them out in his book The Future of Life.

"It's a battle between two narratives:

Narrative 1:

The free market is the most economical system for bringing prosperity to the world and government regulation just screws things up.

Narrative 2:
The free market has many positive benefits, but it also commodifies our collective resources resulting in the catastrophic destruction of the Earth's species and if we don't stop this trend immediately, we will destroy those things that makes life possible on earth."
 Essentially, the testimony given by the Chuitna Citizens' Coalition followed Narrative 2.  The testimony by PacRim and their supporters was based on Narrative 1.

It's sort of like the flat earth battling the round earth people.  Their predictions will be wildly different because they are beginning from wildly different assumptions about the nature of the world.  

This is going to be pretty quick and dirty because I squandered the month I had to write this.  (Presumably DNR's decision maker on this, Dave Schade. made better use of his time than I have.)

PacRim proposes to build a mine.  Part of the plans call for them to excavate down 300 feet for thousands of acres, essentially wiping out the river.  Then they plan to restore that river to better than it was.  The Chuitna group doesn't believe that can happen.  They're applying for an instream flow reservation mainly because they are concerned about the salmon whose path to the tributary will be interrupted for the years that the mine exists. 

Also, there are different water bodies referred to.  There's the Chuitna and then the tributaries. 

Some issues that were raised at the testimony:

Procedural Issues

1.  PacRim argued that the Chuitna Citizens' Coalition shouldn't even be able to apply for an IFR.  They said this amounted to private citizens taking over public policy decisions the state should make.  CCC argued they would get no regulatory power, only the right to protect the river by getting the state to enforce their IFR.

2.  PacRim argued it's too early for them to apply for their own permit and CCC's permit shouldn't be reviewed until they are ready to have a competing permit.

3.  PacRim argued that if CCC got the IFR, it would kill the mine.  CCC argued PacRim's process could then keep going, but PacRim reps said their financial backers would all pull out because it would show the state opposed the mine.

4.  PacRim took the unusual position for a coal mining company (and it was echoed by the other resource extraction groups that testified) that the state and feds had excellent, rigorous regulatory processes that should be followed through that will protect the public and thus this IFR application was not only unnecessary, but counter to the process.   I don't recall so much praise for regulation by such organizations ever before. 

Measurement Issues

1.  Technical data about river, fish, flow, etc.  PacRim said that CCC's application was invalid because they had no data.  And what they had was methodologically flawed.  From my rough notes on the PacRim's first go at it:
"Lack of specific data.  Not even stream based data in places.  If the citizens coalition is asking to fulfill the role of government,  they should be at least as prepared as the government as another applicant.  That is the way it should be.  Huge problem.  Did not have site specific info.  Info about flow levels, specific features - ripples, spawning habitats.  At least one field season of work.  Methodology of their study is flawed.  Not appropriate here.  Quick and dirty method.  Hasn’t been validated for small streams like this."
The CCC argued there data and methodology were good, but PacRim's were bad.

2.  Economic Impact Data - PacRim's data focused on financial value of the coal.  CCC disputed their projections, saying there was nothing there to back them up.  Furthermore, given the change in the price of oil and the decline of coal everywhere, the PacRim project would now lose money.  CCC (different groups like Inlet Keepers also testified for CCC and I'm not distinguishing here who said what) also argued for considering a much wider range of economic impacts to be measured - the cost of the salmon fishery's damage, and even the cost of environmental infrastructure which helps clean the water and air and keeps the salmon and other species healthy.  They also talked about the recreational value of the land.  This is where the E.O. Wilson narratives seemed most obvious.

 Other Issues

There were a number of other interesting twists and I won't try to cover them all.  But a key one was the presence of the Alaska Mental Health Trust which stands to gain income from the mining on their land.  This income would be used to help provide mental health services in the state.

But I think the key issue is the conflicting narratives about the use of collective resources and private entities - whether they are coal companies or private citizens.

The impact of coal on climate change was also raised and how Alaska is the most impacted state already with melting glaciers and permafrost, eroding shorelines, ocean acidification, and loss of polar bear and walrus habitat. 

Criteria for the Decision

The criteria for making the decision are also listed on the DNR website: (I've reformatted them a bit to make it easier to read)

"When your application is complete, it will be reviewed to determine
  • the need for the reservation of water and 
  • its impact on other water right holders and 
  • the public interest. 
An assessment will be made to determine if water is available for the reservation and if the information in the application is accurate and adequate. Public notice of the application must be given."
[UPDATE 10:41pm - here are the more detailed criteria I published in the August 20 post on this:

AS 46.15.080. Criteria For Issuance of Permit.

(a) The commissioner shall issue a permit if the commissioner finds that
(1) rights of a prior appropriator will not be unduly affected;
(2) the proposed means of diversion or construction are adequate;
(3) the proposed use of water is beneficial; and
(4) the proposed appropriation is in the public interest.
(b) In determining the public interest, the commissioner shall consider
(1) the benefit to the applicant resulting from the proposed appropriation;
(2) the effect of the economic activity resulting from the proposed appropriation;
(3) the effect on fish and game resources and on public recreational opportunities;
(4) the effect on public health;
(5) the effect of loss of alternate uses of water that might be made within a reasonable time if not precluded or hindered by the proposed appropriation;
(6) harm to other persons resulting from the proposed appropriation;
(7) the intent and ability of the applicant to complete the appropriation; and
(8) the effect upon access to navigable or public water.]
But whatever decision is announced tomorrow, you can rest assured it will be challenged by the party whose argument did not prevail.  This is just the beginning.  

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Humans Versus Robots Answering Phones - LADWP Human The Worst

This past week I've been going through my mom's mail and calling different government agencies, insurance companies, utilities, etc.

I'm totally fed up.

I'm tired of machines asking for account numbers.  Or giving me five choices.  Then three more, then two more, none of which fits. 

Even though they are getting more sophisticated ("If you need more time to find the number, just say 'need more time'), most of the time I really need to talk to a human because I have issues the computers aren't programmed to handle.   And sometimes they don't even work - "When you're ready, say 'ready.'" just kept playing the music even though I said "ready" several times with increasing volume.

If it were simple, I'd just do it online in most cases, simply to avoid the machines answering the phones.  I'm calling because my issue needs a human.

Most of the humans I eventually talk to are really good.  To give you a sense of my . . .  well frustration isn't quite right because my expectations are so low now.  Exhaustion is probably closer.

The LA Department of Water and Power (LADWP)- There was a bill that was due Tuesday.  Since we only got here Tuesday, I hadn't seen it or paid it. 

I just called to see if they had a grace period of a few days.   When I finally got to the human, I told her my mom's name.  Well, the account was in my step-dad's initials (just the middle initial was different from my mom's).

Steve:  Well, it's my mom's account.  She just died.   The name you have has been dead for thirty years.   I'm just trying to find out the grace period or if there's a place near by where I can pay this.
LADWP:  If the account holder is dead we have to close the account and open a new account.
Steve;  That's fine, but for now I just want to pay the bill right now and I'll change it later.
LADWP:  If the account holder is dead we have to cut off the service in three days unless there is a new account and it will cost $19 to change it.
Steve:  The account holder has been dead for over 30 years, I don't see how another week or month is going to matter.
LADWP:  Once we've been notified we shut off services after three days unless it's changed.

You can imagine how I'm feeling now.

Steve:  Look, I just called so I could pay this bill on time and now you're threatening to shut off the water and power?
LADWP:  I'm sorry that is the policy.  Please give me your social security number.

When I hesitated, she repeated the turn off the service threat.  "We need it to check your credit."  OK, I can understand, and credit checking is one of the reasons one has to give a social security number, but it doesn't mean, in this identity theft era, that I like it.

She put me on hold.  When she came back I had collected myself and voiced my dissatisfaction in a mostly calm, but impatient voice.

Steve:  Look, I've been calling lots of organizations since my mom died.  You are the first person I've talked to who hasn't had the decency to say something like, "I'm sorry for your loss."  And all the other places have been understanding and offered me extra time if I needed it.   You, in contrast,  are threatening to shut off the water and power in three days if I don't do everything you say.  I might as well be talking to a robot who isn't programmed to understand human beings and have some discretion or decency.  

At that point she changed her tone.  She apologized, gave her condolences, but also said they deal with thousands of people every day and don't know what the circumstances are.  In the end, she said I could mail it in and not go to the office and stand in line to pay that day.

My assumption is that LADWP is putting lots of pressure on employees who answer phones, and that is reflected in how this woman responded.  I'm sure there are lots of people who skip out on unpaid bills, but that's no reason to treat me like they did.  In the end she acknowledged this was a long time account (my family moved into this house in 1956) and that the bills were always paid on time.

I'm inclined to think the problem really rests on LADWP.  They're known for scandals about hig employee salaries and  their billing as well as over expenditures and secrecy.

I don't think they should get any rewards for customer service either.

And let me say that every other person I've talked to over the phone since my mom died has immediately stopped and offered condolences and been extra nice and accommodating in handling the issues.  It hasn't always been quick and there have sometimes been problems down the line (although Verizon lowered the rate to $96 a month - tv on vacation hold - the new bill was for $335), but when I've called back they've been gracious and helpful.

NOTE:  I started this several days ago.  Saturday this letter arrived from LADWP addressed to [initials] Deceased [last name].  Maybe I should put it on my mom's ashes until she decides what to do with it. (I've already sent them a check.)  Except it's not to my mom, but my step-dad whose been dead over 30 years.  I could take it to the cemetery and tape it to his memorial. 

I've smudged the initials, last name, address, etc.
We've had letters addressed to my mom, and to her estate, but not with 'deceased' as part of her name.  More reason to believe this is an insensitive organization and it wasn't simply the operator I got. 

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Things Presidential Candidates And Their Handlers Say

An opinion piece in the LA Times pointed out that some US presidential candidates are beginning to explicitly express their previously euphamized prejudices.  After quoting Ben Carson's 'a Muslim shouldn't be president' remark,  Michael Finnegan gets a bizarre response from his campaign manager:
"Carson campaign manager Barry Bennett said the comments were justified because Islam calls for killing gay people (Muslim clerics say that’s untrue), and that’s incompatible with the Constitution (the Constitution says “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States”)."[emphasis added.]
It's not totally clear whether Bennett says that's incompatible or the author.  Presumably it's the author.  But in any case, is he really saying Carson's against an Islamic president because he's concerned about gay people?  Really?

I've looked for Carson previous support of gay anything, but I can't seem to find it.  Is that really the reason thinks a Muslim can't be president? 

From what I can tell online, after Carson said that prison made people gay,  he then apologized and said being gay was not a choice.  For most people going to prison isn't exactly a choice either. 

But if someone links pedophilia and bestiality with being gay, is there any doubt about what his views on gays?
"CARSON: Well, my thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman. It's a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality. It doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition. So he, it's not something that is against gays, it's against anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society. It has significant ramifications."

There's a problem in a diverse nation like the United States when people don't get to talk about a wide range of topics with family and friends who disagree with them.  If you only talk about these things with people who agree with you, you're in for a big surprise when you get outside your circle, which presidential candidates eventually have to do.

I was trying to find something about how the brain keeps most people from saying offensive things.  I don't seem to be using the right search words, but I did find this article in Psychology Today that touches on that idea.  It's from someone with an identified mental health issue, but it seems to apply to many politicians.
"At the age of 62, I know that my social and emotional regulation skills are still sometimes lacking. I have a self-righteous streak and think that people need to hear what I have to say. I sometimes feel justified in saying things because I believe them to be true, even if my comments may not be appropriate at the time. My ex-father-in-law used to say to me "Michael you are such a smart and talented guy in many ways, why can't you control your mouth?" I had no answer to this question and felt I had two choices: be an idiot and speak my mind, or shut up. I still occasionally vacillate between the two options and have mixed results."

Friday, October 02, 2015

Homeless Follow Up - It Looked Like A Raid

 I mentioned the homeless lined street in Venice last night near Gjusta's.  Today after running various errands, I did a loop to the beach on the way home and passed the street where all the homeless were.  And it looked like a raid.

In Anchorage, the police go through homeless camps along the bike trails and clear everything out.

And here were Hazmat and garbage trucks and people high-pressure- hosing down the sidewalk.

Didn't look good.

But along Rose Avenue all the belongings were piled up on the sidewalk there.  It went way on down the block.

So I pulled over between two parked cars and asked someone what was happening.

They're cleaning the street.  They do it every Friday.

Sometimes things aren't what they seem to be. 

[Feedburner problem, going to repost this to see if it gets through.  Sorry for those who've already seen this.]

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Gjusta A Nice Dinner With Friends

Friends suggested we go to dinner at Gjusta's.   When they described its location, I realized I'd read about it and even biked by it once on my way back from the beach to my mom's.  The LA Magazine article had said:
Located just around the corner from the Google's Venice headquarters, the view of Gjusta from the street is rather unremarkable, a white-washed warehouse with a set of accordion-style windows along its front. Step inside, however, and you'll find yourself in a massive kitchen space, illuminated by large skylights that wash the room in sunlight. - See more at:
Located just around the corner from the Google's Venice headquarters, the view of Gjusta from the street is rather unremarkable, a white-washed warehouse with a set of accordion-style windows along its front. Step inside, however, and you'll find yourself in a massive kitchen space, illuminated by large skylights that wash the room in sunlight. - See more at:
"Located just around the corner from the Google's Venice headquarters, the view of Gjusta from the street is rather unremarkable, a white-washed warehouse with a set of accordion-style windows along its front. Step inside, however, and you'll find yourself in a massive kitchen space, illuminated by large skylights that wash the room in sunlight."
Located just around the corner from the Google's Venice headquarters, the view of Gjusta from the street is rather unremarkable, a white-washed warehouse with a set of accordion-style windows along its front. Step inside, however, and you'll find yourself in a massive kitchen space, illuminated by large skylights that wash the room in sunlight. - See more at:
Located just around the corner from the Google's Venice headquarters, the view of Gjusta from the street is rather unremarkable, a white-washed warehouse with a set of accordion-style windows along its front. Step inside, however, and you'll find yourself in a massive kitchen space, illuminated by large skylights that wash the room in sunlight. - See more at:
No, I hadn't saved it.  I just looked and found it again.  That piece was October 30, 2014 and it said the visited it on its second day open, so it's just under a year old.  But my image was that this was where well paid Google employees went for breakfast and lunch.  Translation:  Probably very expensive.  (In the end the bill was less than $20 each and we were all full.)

I remember the article had said there's no sign telling you it's there and so at the time I took down the address to find it.

Well, see that little white paper tacked onto the door?  It's as close to a sign as there is:

My first thought when we stepped inside was 'rustic.'  There's a huge counter with food from desserts to pastramis and lox to exotic salads and pizza.  And there's bread.

On the left is, obviously, pizza on the bottom.  On top nearest is a salad made of what they called sunchokes, but I know as Jerusalem artichokes.
We had some and it was very good.  There was also a potato and beet salad.

We were determined to go to the beach today after I went through my mom's mail.  I got through as much as I could stand - I'd like a law passed banning robot phone answering - and reluctantly drove.  I'd rather go by bike, but it was going to be dark on the way home and I'm still timid about street riding at night, especially with J.

So we got a couple of hours in at the beach.   I got to do a little body surfing, though the surf was small and choppy and came at different angles.  But even so the water felt wonderful. It's definitely warmer than it was when I was growing up here.  Once I dive under an incoming wave, I lose 50 years with the rush of the water all around me.  It's fabulous.  And when you catch a wave it's heaven.  If I had to pick a way to die, it would be in the surf.  I still remember body surfing on Bali in 1968 during a Peace Corps school break.  The surf was perfect and when we were resting on shore, my friend said he'd been worried about sharks.  My reaction was, that the surf was so good, it would have been a perfect way to go.  Then a coconut fell between us and I thought being killed by a coconut was not the perfect way.  Anyhoo, I thank my parents for moving to California when they did and ending up near the beach as a kid.

We ordered our food at the counter and got some table space in the back outdoor patio.  It was a perfect place to be with good friends and sit and talk. 

This is a peculiar and changing neighborhood.  The street that runs into restaurant has homeless tents and belongings along the sidewalk on both sides.  Remember, this is a block a way from the Google Venice headquarters.  There's also a huge Gold's Gym across the street.

I don't normally take pictures of homeless without permission and I don't like to ask so I rarely have pictures, but you can't identify this guy trying to sleep across the street from Gjusta's.

I did google after we got home to get a little more background and found that Bon Apetit magazine listed Gjusta, just this August, as number two in its list of America's Best New Restaurants.

In an odd twist I also learned that we ate at their sister restaurant nearby at a friend's suggestion last July. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Anchorage Flirts With Snow

Tuesday was a bit hectic as I tried to finish My Name Is Red before my book club meeting (didn't make it), deal with insurance companies, and pack and clean the house for the house sitter before I trip south.

It rained most of the day and in the afternoon the rain alternated with snow flakes, but not enough to stick.  But our book club meeting was on the Hillside about 1000 feet above sea level.  And there, by the time I left (early to finish packing at get to the airport), there was snow sticking.

Back closer to sea level at the airport, the spotlight outside just after security highlighted the falling flakes.  I used a neon filter in Photoshop for this one.

We left late due to computer problems at the Anchorage Airport, which included reading each boarding pass to someone over the phone.  In Seattle?  She was too busy to ask.

But once again I was pleased with how Alaska Airlines has mastered the logistics problem of getting people's luggage into the terminal quickly.  And I wonder why other airlines can't match them.  Here's the carousel 15 minutes after the door opened on the plane.  The luggage is there, but not many of the passengers had made it yet.    Maybe because it was it was 6:30 am.  But it happens on almost all the flights we've been on and we've been on a lot lately.

 And Alaska Airlines gives out $25 vouchers for future flights for people whose baggage isn't there in 20 minutes from getting into the terminal.

We walked the mile from the bus stop to my mom's house (it will always be 'my mom's house' I think) then I got on the bike before it got too warm and rode out to the beach.  I felt like a puppy who'd been locked up inside all day.  It felt great.

I looked at this Quixote sign and wondered why it seemed familiar.  Then I remembered I'd just read an LA Times article online the other day about the CEO.

"Mikel Elliott is co-founder and chief executive of Quixote Studios, the entertainment industry's premier studio and equipment rental company, presiding over a fleet of Hollywood's most elegant talent trailers and motor homes as well as more than 1 million square feet of movie, TV and music soundstages, production offices and parking lots."
 This was in the parking lot just north of the Santa Monica pier.

In another Santa Monica parking lot there were cops on motorcycles driving through an orange cone obstacle course.  It looked like they were training - going through narrow curves.

There was a group waiting their turn.

Been cleaning out the room where my mom had her computer - hoping, but not really expecting, to find the keys to the safe deposit box.