Monday, December 24, 2012

Curb Cuts Piss Me Off

Seriously, they do. Let me say that I am back in suburbia. As I drove down Mt. Diablo Boulevard after a run around the Lafayette Reservoir this morning, I noticed how the lovely suburb of Lafayette had really transformed its downtown since the last time I had driven through (maybe 7 or 8 years ago?).

Quaint, isn't it? For a mostly car-dependent place (there is a BART station a few long block away), Mt. Diablo is a very pleasantly-designed road. But another mile down the road, the road turns into this:


The landscaped center median disappears and the street widens. The pedestrians all but disappear. Granted, the intensity of the land use decreases significantly, but why not make the designed and landscaped commercial boulevard continuous to encourage better use of land, other than surface parking lots?  It's possible it was considered, but I believe that access is the biggest issue. Each and every business has its own driveway, some have two. Here's a map of all the curb cuts I identified. Curb cuts suck. Yes, they are a necessary evil, but they seriously piss me off. So, what's the solution?

To be continued....

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I heart America

Tonight, my fellow urban planning graduate students and I watched as America reelected its President. Today was the first time I have ever voted at an actual polling station rather than as an absentee. I am happy and proud to be an American. To have the opportunity to make a difference in my government. To have the right to a voice, whereas so many people have fought and died just to have that very right. Yes, there are many problems with the political system, and as I enter the profession of planning, I will have to deal with them on a regular basis. And yet, during times like tonight, I am so grateful that I live in a place where people can actively participate in decisions that will shape their lives. Whether it's a community meeting deciding local policy and development, or a nation deciding the leader of the free world, I am happy to have a voice.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bike Crash Recon

Still haven't gotten back on my bike yet. Luckily, it looks like it's in decent shape and rideable. Total damage to the body is eight bruises on the legs, two of which are larger than the size of a softball. Then again, at least this didn't happen:

Now, who's ready for Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Twice in a week?

Last night I was in another bike crash. This time, I landed on the hood of a '99 Nissan. Luckily, I was able to walk away with bruises. Physically, I'm fine. But psychologically, I'm completely rattled. I didn't realize how bad the shock was until I woke up this morning. Everything ached. I went to the doctor to get checked out, since I denied transport to the hospital last night (ambulances cost $6,000-$10,000!), and she recommended I see a counselor. Bah Humbug, I thought. I am strong and confident. I'll shake this off. 24 hours later, I can't.

I still need to assess the damage to my bike. The reporting LAPD officers gave me a ride home after the accident and threw the bike in their trunk. I put the bike next to the wall when I got home and haven't touched it since. I can't. I get shaky and am on the verge of tears. I am so angry that this accident has made me afraid. I am angry that using a bike for transportation is life-threatening. I am angry of the fear that has taken over, thinking about worse accidents that may come. Most of all, I am angry that motorists have won.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Reunited with LA and it feels... like a bike crash

I was ready to write a blog about how happy I was to be back on the best coast and see the manfriend who was in town last weekend and be reunited with all my colleagues at school. Unfortunately, this is my post instead.

Biking home to Santa Monica from campus today, around 4:45 pm, I was in an accident. My route is to take Ohio Street down from Westwood Boulevard (designated bike route), cut south on Westgate, then take Santa Monica for three treacherous blocks, to get onto Broadway (marked bike lanes). This no-bike-mans-land that lies between designated bike routes is a dangerous 6-lane thoroughfare, and cars are moving fast.

As I made my way from Westgate west down Santa Monica, a car turned right onto Brockton Avenue, cutting me off. The driver clipped my front tire. My bike went flying, and I jumped off and tumbled to the street screaming.

As I stood up, my initial reaction was not to assess damages, but to lash out in anger. I have had so many near-misses with drivers and so many confrontations, but this driver actually hit my bike. This driver hit me. The driver turned into the strip mall at the NE corner of Santa Monica and Brockton. I could see the driver, a woman, and she was smiling. Maybe it was her defense mechanism to react with laughter, but it set me off and I began yelling like a crazy woman. "You f*ing b*tch! You could have killed me!! You think this is funny?!!"

There were several witnesses walking down the street that saw the accident, and my angry, fear-fueled rant kept their attention. The driver eventually exited her car and began walking toward me. By that time, I had picked up my bike and wheeled it to the sidewalk. My anger had subsided into shock. I was shaking.

A nice bystander lady asked if I was OK. I replied that I thought so. All I could tell was that my ankle had gash, but other than that, the bike looked to be ok, and I didn't appear to be suffering any major injuries (thanks to whatever higher power may be).  The bystander lady asked if I wanted to call the police or to write down the driver's license, but I just said no. All I wanted to do was be home. Be safe.

The driver came over and began to apologize. I could tell she was very sorry, and I felt terrible for yelling at her. I tried to talk, but couldn't stop shaking. All I could manage was to mumble that I was fine and asked her to please be careful when driving. But that was all I could manage. I had to just walk away. I just wanted to go home.

By the time I walked my bike down the block, I began sobbing uncontrollably. Getting into a bike crash isn't like a fender bender in a car. Your entire well-being is at stake. It's not just a dent on your bumper, it's harm to your body. It must have looked odd: a grown woman in workout gear crying hysterically as she walks her bike down the street. Even the homeless guys that sleep at the corner of Bundy and Broadway stared sympathetically as I walked by.

When I finally got home, I cleaned the blood from my right leg and bandaged up the gash. Finally, I was calm enough to understand the situation that had just unfolded.

As a former intern of the LA County Bicycle Coalition, I should have known what to do. I should have called the police and filed an accident report. I should have taken down the driver's car make and license plate number. I should have taken pictures and recorded witness statements. But when you have been thrown from your bike and your body lands on the hard asphalt below, doing these things are the last thing on your mind. This incident should have been reported. It would have added to statistics that aid in the creation of better bike infrastructure and policy. But I didn't do it.

As I write this I am still shaking. I doubt I can report this accident after the fact. The least I can say that came out of this is that the eight or so bystanders and driver may now have a greater awareness of bikers and potential consequences. I was lucky. Had there been a car behind the one that clipped me, I may not be writing this right now. All I know is that I am glad I am still here, and this accident, while terrifying, will not hinder me from a life of active transportation.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hello Suburbia!

Summer is over... Waaahhhh!!!! *sob sob sob*

I flew from Chicago back to California yesterday. For the next few days I am staying in the charming suburb in which I grew up and my parents still live. This Bay Area town has changed quite a bit since I lived here. While it's always been a middle-class community, it now caters to a higher income level than I will ever likely achieve.

The charming and pleasant Diablo Valley
I blame Chicago for aiding in my gaining of 5 pounds over the summer. So many gatherings, festivals, food, and beer, beer, and more beer! So now that I'm headed back to LA where the pressure to be thin and "fit in" in Hollywood is so strong, I've decided that I need to get my ass back in gear.* I read something about the Bar Method and guess what?! There's a studio just 1.4 miles from my parents' place. Because it was so close, I chose to ride my bike. Just when I thought LA was the worst possible place ride a bike, I forgot to look at my sweet, happy, picturesque home town. I was actually shaking for the 10 minute ride being so nervous about the 6-lane roads and car-centric strip malls. I rode in the middle of the road for the most part. There was only one other biker that I saw and a pathetic attempt at bike infrastructure (sharrows, in my opinion, don't count). So, suburbia, you provided a great childhood, but only by car.
Luckily, Main Street isn't so bad.

*I actually have never felt pressure to be thin in LA, but it seems like that might be the case based on the US Weekly magazines that I read from the oversized mail drop in the hallway of my apartment building before my neighbor picks up her mail. However, I am now apart from my beloved manfriend (hence the earlier sobs) and must also be a super hot mama for the man without whose support I could never get through grad school.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How can we activate escalators?

If you're like me, an I'm-almost-about-to-be-late-but-if-I-powerwalk-and-and-make-some-strategic-jay-walking-decisions-I'll-make-it-right-on-time type of person, then you loath escalators. Usually it's faster to take the stairs, which makes no sense because an escalator is a moving staircase! It does a majority of the work for you, yet most people let technology do all the work for their bodies.

I see people hustle through the "L" platforms and rush through the pedway, but soon as they step onto an escalator, all movement stops. They just stand there. And stand and stand and wait and stand and wait until they have reached the top where they realize their legs can magically move again! This is not only a public health concern, but making me late! And a lot of people don't even have the respect to stand to the right of the escalator allowing those that choose to use their magic, muscle-powered legs and butts to walk past them on the left (whether they don't know to let people pass on the left or just don't care is beyond me).

So what about making it easier for people? I wrote an article last year about how point of decision prompts increase the usage of stairs instead of elevators. Why not use the same idea for escalators? Here's a fast and simple idea to increase movement on escalators:

I took this photo the other day and Nordstrom Rack on a power lunch shopping run (although it ended up being just window power shopping because I had to remind myself that I should not be spending student loan money on discount shoes). It irked me that I had to wait behind other bargain hunters, who clearly were power shopping like myself, but froze once on the escalator. With just a little spray paint and some stencils, would these signs get people moving?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Intern Redemption

Now that I'm back in school, I get to be an intern during the summer between my two-year program. It definitely has not easy being a 29-year-old intern. There was a time when I ran projects or played an integral role in large, multifaceted projects, but now I have to do a lot of grunt work (necessary for a project's success) and sit in on meetings, but do so silently and in the corner.

Yesterday, I sat in on a meeting for two BRT lanes that will be implemented along the Ashland and Western corridors. In attendance were a bunch of people from agencies all over the city. Near the end, when the formal presentations were finished and discussions were winding to an end, I made a comment. Yes, a lowly, data entry, know-nothing intern spoke up! My comment was promptly ignored and the discussion continued without acknowledgement of my comment. *Cue sad trombone*

But I wasn't going to give up! I had a question! And I asked this question! And it was answered, but the other people in the meeting began talking over the answer because evidently it's not important to know the answer to a question asked by an intern. Duly noted.

I left the meeting, completely discouraged. Changing careers sucks! Just when I was at a point in my last job where people respected and heeded my opinion and suggestions, I was knocked back down to intern status.

Then today, out of the blue, my boss says, "Thanks for speaking up yesterday! It's unusual for interns to speak up, but I'm glad you did. You had some important things to say, that needed to be said."

YES! Score one for the intern.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Nobody Walks in LA...

....which sucks when you move back to a city where walking is normal.  I'm back in Chicago for the summer, interning for the City (unpaid), waitressing (due to unpaid internship), and trying to maintain some sort of social life. But that's old news...

Now that I'm back in Chicago and after a weekend in New York, my feet hurt. Really hurt. I'd gotten used to walking around campus and the local shops near my quaint little place in Los Angeles, but it did not keep me in shape for real city walking. Just today, I took a very, very, very long extended lunch and went from City Hall to the new City Target, to Nordstrom Rack, to Old Navy, to Pot Belly's, and back to City Hall. That excursion was a mile! And that was just lunch! So, part of my lunch trip was buying new, comfortable shoes. That, and my other flats are so dingy and gross I actually get whiffs of the stench while I sit at my desk. So now I can continue to walk, walk, walk, walk...

Monday, June 4, 2012

If you drive a Mercedes...

I hate you! Like the bitch that honked at me furiously tonight for doing nothing but legally biking on a road. People like you suck. That is all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Um... Public Speaking... uhh... Ya Know?

In grad school, students give presentations--lots of presentations. Today, I listened to SEVEN student presentations in two classes. Some good, some bad, and some that could have been great had I not been so distracted by the presenters saying "um" or "ya know" or "uuuhhhh...."

Public speaking is a learned skill. It takes practice. Part of it is getting over the fear of public speaking and the other crucial aspect is refining how to speak in public. I was fortunate enough to have a Toastmasters group at my last job. We were an informal club, but followed the Toastmasters International guidelines. Part of process is having a Ah-Counter tally the "fillers": the um's, uh's, and ya know's. Had I not participated in this group, I never would have known how many times I used a filler in even a three-minute talk (after you go past 10, the counter stops counting). It gave me a keen awareness of how fillers weakened my speeches and arguments. Now, I take my time when public speaking and rather than say a filler, I talk more slowly and pause to gather my thoughts.

I decided to count the fillers of my colleagues, just out of curiosity, to see how many times they used fillers. Turns out, they use a lot. In one 20-minute presentation, there were 72 ums. That's about an um every 16 seconds.  I counted 58 ums in a 15-minute presentation (an um every 15 seconds) and a combined 28 ums and ya knows for a 15-minute presentation (an um every 30 seconds). I hate to see my brilliant and creative classmates sabotage their hard work due to lackluster presentation skills, but because I do not want to be the asshole who points it out to them, I will just... um... blog about it instead, ya know?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Year One Nearly Done

I've been in LA for 8 months, 17 days. In less than 3 weeks, I'll be kissing this smog, traffic-clogged metropolis goodbye for the summer. LA isn't all bad. It's been a rough adjustment, and I don't know if I'll ever be adjusted to this city. I appreciate all it has to offer, but I'm ready to go back to sweet home Chicago. But then again, I'm leaving views like this:
View from Will Rogers State Park

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Expo Line Fun!

I'm a plannerd. I know it. It can't be denied. I was so excited all day to take the new Expo Line home!
Today started off with taking the Rapid 10 from Santa Monica downtown. I put my bike on the front of the bus and got off near the Los Angeles Planning Department. There, I waited for over an hour to finally talk to a planner about a school project. Turns out, as a planning student, they don't ever teach you how to read a goddam zoning code! This shit is more confusing than linear algebra using matlab. But, the good planner lady (who confessed, "I tell you what, I don't even know most of this stuff. I just learn as I go") set me straight about the true meaning of FAR restrictions within a "D" condition zone.

Interned all day, met up with a friend for drinks, then jumped on the Expo Line at the Pico stop. I happened to sit near a couple who were trying to be inconspicuous with their permanent markers (really, wasn't working since I was getting a buzz off the fumes). I couldn't tell if they were trying to tag the beautifully new and clean rail car, or doodling. With my happy hour liquid courage, I asked what they were drawing. Turns out, they just went to the Fashion District and were writing their names on matching underpants! They just were hanging out exploring the city all day had no plans and were happy to ride the Expo Line for the first time like me. I told them I had to go home and do homework. That's when they told me they had the hook up for some good herb.

Now normally, I don't just take "drugs" from stranger on public transit, but these boys seemed nice. They said the herb would be good for my mental health. So I totally got set with some Ginko Baloba and St. Johns Wort! Yes! Herbal supplements rule! See? Public transit totally rocks.

Monday, May 7, 2012

War Against Obesity

More and more I see articles and posts about the obesity epidemic or plainly put by some, against fat people. Now, there are many arguments as to why more than 30% of American adults are obese and another 30% are overweight: bad diet, sedentary lifestyle, lack of nutrition education, income and access to fresh food, tax structures that make cheeseburgers cheaper than celery, and as a planner, a poorly built environment. Here are a few recent articles to start:

"No Longer Just "Adult On-set'"
"The Linked Burdens of Obesity and Diabetes"
 "Fat Forecast: 42% of Americans Obese by 2030"
 "Everything's on the Table in the Fight Against Obesity"
  "Obesity: Moms May Need Reminder That Too Much Baby Fat isn't Healthy",0,3137744.story

Our car-centric lifestyles prevent many Americans from walking to school, work, or to the store. Traditional Euclidean zoning that creates separation of uses also creates barriers to a car-free lifestyle. Streets are designed with vehicles in mind, pushing them through as quickly and efficiently as possible (LOS!), while active forms of transportation such as biking and walking are rendered dangerous endeavors. One of my professors, Dr. Richard Jackson, created a four-part documentary series that looks at many of the factors of the built environment that contribute to the obesity epidemic.

HBO has its own documentary premiering this weekend.

With all this focus on obesity and being overweight, will any of it change? Creating bike-friendly, walkable environments is something that will take years and people love their cars, so then what? I read a blog where the author wrote he is "tired" of fat people. The reactions in the comment section were irate. Yet I can empathize with the author. While there are many socioeconomic factors that come into play (which I am in no way discounting), for those that have the financial means and are educated about diet and exercise (some of my friends and family), yes, I am tired of seeing them literally killing themselves as their weight continues to grow. I have friends and family who I love, and diabetes and other chronic diseases are just around the corner, if not already there. There is the added issue of sensitivity. If I were to ask one of my family members to come workout with me, that person would take offense to the notion that they need exercise. Even my father suffers from sleep apnea due to being overweight, and he knows it's bad to eat as many cookies and chocolates as he does, yet he continues to do so. So what's the solution? How can we motivate people to do something?

I can speak personally about weight loss and know that it's hard. I was overweight for several years, but came to this realization: I EAT LIKE SHIT. Having a giant burrito every day for dinner is not healthy, even if it does have some tomatoes and lettuce in it. And dancing at the bars and clubs at night? That's not really exercise. Especially after downing half a dozen high-calorie drinks through the course of the evening. So I got off my sedentary butt and started eating right and getting daily exercise. It took a few years to get to a healthy BMI (not skinny, but healthy), but I did it. It's definitely not easy and to this day, every single day is a struggle to make the right food choices and incorporate some form of physical activity into my day, even if I have to wake up before the sun comes up for a run. I understand that this isn't the solution for everyone (access, preexisting conditions, etc), but can work for many. I just don't want to see my friends and family suffer from preventable diseases. So whether it's through urban and regional planning or just trying to encourage health and exercise, I'm fighting a war against fat, a war against obesity. It's good to know I'm not fighting this battle alone. I just hope we win.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I should have gone to B-school

I'm taking a class at the business school, which is kind of awesome. It's a great school and I get to take advantage of it while not having to pay a tuition that is double what I currently shovel out to the University of California system.

Business school is a different beast. First of all, the classrooms are way nicer: padded swivel chairs and wooden desks that form a tiered half circle. These rooms have never seen the likes of a sticky, careless undergrad. Second, the age group is closer to mine. I'm not the oldest hag! But this also means that the students tend to be more aggressive in their ambition. Third, it's a sausage fest! If I were a single gal, let me tell you, I'd be marketing myself to be the trophy wife of the next up-and-coming entrepreneur.  But because I am very happy with my man who is far far away in Chicago, I try to speak up in the 92% male-dominated class and challenge some of the thick-headed men so as to gain respect and not seem like the dumb girl in class.

Because there are so many dudes (I'm one of two women in a class), the class discussions are pretty entertaining and at times just plain chauvinistic. The conversations also tend to digress into weird tangents. For example, yesterday a a real estate development case study analysis discussion went into parking requirements, which lead to taking about Prof. Donald Shoup, the parking policy master, which turned into the class, professor included, singing a Salt-N-Pepa song.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Worst LA Drivers Classified by Car Brand

I've been a bike commuter for nearly five years now. I've come to the point where I ride more cautiously around some car brands than others. This list, which LA-centric, is slightly different from what I would write for Chicago (Chicago merely consists of taxi cabs and buses).

This list is a completely stereotyped personal analysis of drivers in Los Angeles and the cars they choose to drive, but I'm sticking by it. Also, given the tragic story of Sussana Schick and her alleged hit-and-run accident by a Lexus, I am even more convinced my list is spot-on. You can find developing news about the accident at Biking in LA.

Cars to watch out for when on a bike (in order of worst to better drivers):
  1. Mercedes Benz. These people are all for show and care more about money than the well-being of anyone else who doesn't appear to make more than a Louis Vuitton handbag per day salary. I find Mercedes drivers not only careless, but downright reckless. They have an elitist mentality that they can drive all over the road because godammit, they are in a Mercedes!
    There's actually a woman that lives on the next street over from me. Her car is parked in the ally, which I use to ride my bike to my place. Here apartment isn't a shithole, but it isn't the anywhere near the Ritz, let alone a DoubleTree. But every single day I see her outside in the dirty, smelly ally waxing and polishing her precious black Mercedes. I eye her suspiciously just waiting until the day she sideswipes me.

  2. BMW. Beamer drivers like to go fast. They have some inherent need to constantly gun the engine at every light only to come to a screeching halt at the next red light only 200 meters ahead. Most of these drivers aren't too bright, in that they clearly lack any foresight.

  3. Lexus. Need I say more?
  4. Audi. Audi drivers make plenty of money to drive a BMW, but choose to go for a more sporty style. However, this brush of modesty is short-lived. See this post for one of my favorite Audi driver experiences.
  5. Honda, Ford, Hyundai, Toyota, etc. These brands are all grouped in the same pool. They are your everyday drivers who may even ride bikes sometimes, or at least are friends or colleagues of cyclists. While they are also prone to being total jerk-offs, they can be placed near the bottom of the list.

  6. Bentley, Maserati, Ferrari, etc. Interestingly enough, the drivers of these uber-luxury brands tend to be pretty cautious drivers. I suppose I would drive as careful as a kid with a drivers permit if my car cost a quarter million dollars, too.
So there you have it. My officially unofficial list of the worst car drivers in Los Angeles. Avoid them at all costs when on a bike, or even in a car for that matter. One thing I do think about when I recover from near death bike/car encounters: if ever I do get hit by a car, please make it an Aston Martin.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

So I Might Make a Decent Living

So the other day in statistics, we reviewed multiple regression analysis and the use of dummy variables. Not super exciting in itself until applied to something I care about: my future salary. We reviewed the most recent alumni survey results from my graduate program and did some statistical analysis.

Surveys were sent out to around 2000 grads and 617 responded (n=617 as a sample size. See what I learned?!). When the sample was limited to only those working full-time and making less than $400,000 (to create a normal distribution), the sample size dropped to 440 respondents. That taken into account, the average salary for a graduate with a masters of urban planning is $98,385! I can feed my unborn babies with that and maybe even send them to college--public, of course.

Then things got more interesting. Using multiple regression analysis, this was determined to be the best fit model for masters of urban planning graduate income:

Income = $62,252 + $1,678*(Years of of school) + $787*(Time employed at current job) + $7,320*(Male) + $1,562*(Private Sector*Years out of school)

What this means is that a starting salary should be around $62,252. I am more than OK with that number. But then it brings into light the fact that women still make less than men. Men will, on average, make an additional $7,320 a year just for having a penis (to this fact, one of the boys in the class blurted out, "YES!!"). Private sector jobs usually make more and the longer you've been out of school or at your current job, the higher your salary will be. However, all these variables only count for about 35% of explaining salary amounts.

This leads me to the conclusion that all I really want after graduation is a job.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Grad School is Hard

So I'll be the first to admit that last quarter I was bored. I sailed right through my classes and excelled. This quarter, I've already dropped a class (die, GIS, die!!) and have, well, not quite excelled at all my remaining three. It's not that I am failing or anything, but being the overachiever I am, when I was presented with a B- (gasp!) for a group paper assignment, I freaked out a little. So I'm trying to rationalize why winter quarter is such a kick in the butt:
  1. I've had to do a lot of group projects. They take time to coordinate. I don't have time.
  2. I had four classes instead of three. But then I dropped one, so it should be easier, right?
  3. Statistically speaking, there's only a 60% chance that I actually understand statistics class (with a five percentage point margin of error)
  4. I had my birthday in early March and party planning is exhausting, especially when coordinating for your guests to wear Zubaz.
  5. I'm homesick for the Manfriend and Chicago and thereby spend my free time pining, doodling hearts and deep dish pizzas.
  6. I joined the club water polo team. But this actually relieves stress, you know, beating up on undergrads a decade younger than me.
  7. Looking for summer internships is time-consuming and it takes a lot of effort and thought to write the perfect cover letter.
  8. Too much California sunshine makes me lazy.
I think I'll blame it all on #8. In the meantime, I'll eat a tub of Safeway/Vons/Dominick's spinach dip to make me feel better and further delay doing anything productive.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Bike and I are a Sad Statistic

I love my bikes. I love them both the same. Actually, I love one a little more than the other because I have spent far more money on it over the years. I wonder if that's how parents feel about their kids. Then clearly, I'd be the favorite child. But I digress. I love my bikes.

I remember the first road bike I ever bought. It was magic. All those gears, the light weight frame! Then I locked it up at the Walnut Creek BART station on my way to the City. When I came back, I found an empty rack. I guess I'm not the only one. My dad brought this article to my attention.

Walnut Creek has one of the highest rates of bike theft! So what can be done? Besides using a U-LOCK (now I know), how about locating the bike racks in place that has more foot traffic, then let's say, tucked away in an alley between the station and a parking garage? At least near the bus stop circle so that people waiting for a bus can ward off potential thiefs. Jane Jacobs would say we need more "eyes on the street." There is safety in numbers and perhaps safety for our precious bikes with better design.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I can actually cook

I've had 10-12 hour days, four to five days a week for the past four weeks. Today was the first weekday in at least two weeks that I got home before 10pm. Granted, I left the house at 5:30am. The point is, I had a little time to make a delicious home-cooked meal. And (not to brag or anything), it's f*ing amazing.

Dinner tonight is a caramelized onion and honey goat cheese pizza. See the recipe here (and I added some spinach). So tonight, I will eat this delicious pizza, drink a bottle of wine, catch up on a lot of trashy TV, kiss the Manfriend goodnight via Skype (God, I miss him), and finally get at least SEVEN entire hours of sleep. Winter quarter is killing me. Here's to a night off!

Monday, January 30, 2012

How to be an urban observer and not look like a pedofile

I am taking a physical planning class and most of the projects are about really "getting to know" a neighborhood. We were supposed to pick a place in LA of which we had no prior knowledge, so I chose a little area in Venice that is supposed to be an arts district. Unfortunately, I got screwed because I split the area with another chick in the class (who later dropped) and got stuck with part of the 'hood that has maybe one art gallery, only two restaurants and is dominated by an elementary school.

The next assignment is to truly understand the land uses and interactions of people with the built environment, which includes documenting the comings and goings and demographics of the neighborhood, morning, afternoon and night. Well guess what? Kids will be going to school in the morning and you know what else? Kids will be leaving school in the afternoon. So my assignment is to profile the coming and going of kids ages 5-10.  Maybe I should just borrow my dad's glasses from the 70s and grow a mustache then call Chris Hanson from NBC and dare him to catch me. Maybe I should just dress like a Catholic priest? I'm talking about sitting for hours and staring at people who all are still in the single-digit age group here!

I decided to do some research to see what constitutes female pedofiles, and use that as "what not to do" examples. Turns out, most ladies who want to rob the cradle are targeting boys in high school. The instances of disturbed women looking at elementary schools for victims is a rarity. So when a concerned parent (or cop) comes up to me after creeping on their children, I can confidently say that I do not fit the female pedofile profile, but would they need a babysitter ever? I'm a student and short on cash.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

U-Spunk: Koreatown

spelunking |spiˈlə ng ki ng |
noun. the exploration of caves, esp. as a hobby.

urban |ˈərbən|
adjective. in, relating to, or characteristic of a city or town : the urban population.

Urban Spelunking aka U-Spunk
noun. UCLA's foremost student-run organization concerned with exploring the urban jungle.

Last night was the second official U-Spunk adventure. Being urban planners, my fellow colleagues and I are interested in exploring the built environment in which we are currently residing. This includes taking public transit and immersing ourselves in the history and culture of different neighborhoods (booze is a BIG part of most cultures, fyi). The chosen neighborhood of exploration last night was Koreatown.

Our fearless leader, officially titled, Mythological Leader, guided a group of 30+ and growing from the safe haven of Westwood Village onto the 720 bus and into K-Town at Wilshire and Western.  I was coming down with a cold and only made it to the first of 14 stops that evening, but this included an overview of the area demographics; a hike up to the top of a parking garage where we learned about soju and subsequently drank soju; a walk by a "Hostess Bar" and the officially titled, Hardcore Street Bitch, giving us sobering insight into the world of human sex trafficing; a stop at local bar, Frank and Hanks; authentic Korean food and more soju and rice wine at the very, very Korean (we were the only group of people that weren't Korean, save our Korean exchange student) establishments of Toe Bang and Dang Sung Sa.

On our way to get some Seoul food!
Learning about our urban environment
Unfortunately, I missed out on some fun stops. One being the Korean tradition of passing around a bottle of whiskey (note: not actually a Korean tradition). Can't wait till the next urban adventure!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I suck at blogging.  But I'm back from Winter Break, and I vow to at least post once a week. I hope...
Speaking of Winter Break, it was awesome. It ended with a kick-ass party with all the MURPs (Master of Urban and Regional Planning kids). I got to see family, lots of friends, went to San Francisco, Mexico City, Costa Rica and Chicago. For a quick recap of the Indian wedding I attended in Costa Rica, see this blog post.

El Zócalo in Mexico City

View from the Go Go House in Domincal, Costa Rica

For Urban Planning Grad School Quarter Number Two, I am taking four classes. This quarter is going to be rough. More later.