Friday, January 21, 2011

An Uncommon Nightmare

While my dreams are often unusual, defying time, space and logic, I seldom have nightmares. But last night's dream probably falls into the nightmare category, particularly since it was one of the few times where I could not immediately distinguish the dream from reality. Specifically I felt as if I were unable to get up from bed, as if somebody was sitting on me. Managing to get free I then left the bedroom and encountered other family members who told me it was almost 8 o'clock. I took a considerable period of time for me to realize that I was still asleep (if that makes any sense).

The interesting thing about this dream is that my daughter once had a similar experience when she was a teenager. She felt that she was awake, lying in bed, with somebody or something preventing her from leaving the prone position. She mentioned this to my dad, who though very intelligent and logical, also had some interesting beliefs, including things relating to paranormal activity. I think she was looking for a paranormal explanation from my dad, but he told her it was really a dream and she had never actually been immobilized. Apparently he had heard of such dream sequences before.

I do recall one other instance of not distinguishing being awake or asleep. I remember waking up one morning and looking up on the ceiling where the hard wired smoke alarm was usually positioned. But instead there was a large object, kind of light a small satellite or gigantic Christmas ornament with flashing lights hovering over the room. Frankly, I don't remember ever waking up from that dream, and I'm only assuming it was a dream because it couldn't have been real.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Who Moves Slower--The Federal Government or the City of Los Angeles?

I seldom watch much in the way of daytime TV, but when we were in the breakfast room at the Waikiki Hilton Royal Kuhio for five days I got to see some of the early morning news shows that I ordinarily don't view. One feature that made an impression on me was the story of some kind of upgraded military vehicle which was essentially like a new model year edition of an existing automobile, similar enough such that a trained user of the old model would only need a day's worth of training to get up to speed on the revised equipment. So when will the new model be available for use? In 2019, 9 years after the process to update the vehicle began. Why so long? Because of Department of Defense labyrithinal requirements for procuring "new" items of equipment. Can you imagine if it takes 9 years to provide a simple improvement of an existing item used by the government how much money the government is wasting in implementing this process?

Recently I was witness on a much smaller scale as to the snail's pace at which the city of Los Angeles operates. Two and a half years ago we set off our home burglar alarm when our motion detector thought a helium balloon in our den was an intruder. This cost us a $110 fine for generating a false alarm, which we accept as being our fault. However on top of that we were fined another $100 for not having an alarm permit. Well I have been paying the $30 alarm permit fee faithfully every year, so while I paid the $110 false alarm fee, I explained that I had a current permit in force, providing the permit number and a copy of my payment for the year in question. I figured that the $100 portion would be quickly waived, which seemed to be the case as I received no further requests to pay the $100. Until a year and a half later when I get a letter from a collection agency in New York saying that the city's receivable from me had been assigned to them for collection. Very fortunately for me the collection agency informed me how to formally protest the imposition of the $100 assessment for not having an alarm permit, which I quickly filed with the Los Angeles Police Commission. I was hoping that would take care of the matter, but I couldn't be sure because I never heard back from them. Until a year later when I received a notice that some subcommittee of the police commissioner had voted in a hearing on December 21, 2010 to waive the assessment. I'm not sure what part of this tale is the most appalling. The incompetence in mistakenly assessing me for not having a permit; ignoring my documented response which could have been easily verified in five minutes by a chimp. The glacial pace at which these events played out. The fact that it takes a meeting of the police commission to undo the mistake. Or the amount of city money that was obviously wasted by this process. No wonder why Los Angeles may go bankrupt by 2013.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

It Never Rains In Southern California--At Least On New Year's Day

It's another beautiful, clear sunny day here in Los Angeles. This is something like the 55th time in 56 years, that Rose Parade and Rose Bowl are being held under dry weather conditions. That's quite a feat as very few cities can make such a statement about their New Year's Day weather. Indeed, Los Angeles can't make the same statement about any other day--e.g., December 31 or January 2, which have often seen rainy days. It's truly a happy coincidence that it is always dry and usually sunny on New Year's Day as the world tunes in to watch the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl game. Now as my dad used to say, it really isn't a coincidence. His theory was that good weather on New Year's Day is part of what he called a psychic structure--essentially everybody here believes there will be good weather for the parade and game, and presto, here it is. That sounded hokey to me, but on the other hand maybe there's something to that after seeing year after year of good weather go by.

An interesting sidebar arose five years ago when our 50 year streak of rainless New Year's was about to be broken. The local weather station, KNX, had contracted its weather forecasts out to the Weather Channel, whose meteoreologists would banter with the news anchors as if they were in studio, even though they were actually sitting in Atlanta, and at times were unfamiliar with things Los Angeles. So when the news anchor introduced the weatherman with the comment about rain coming on New Year's Day, the weatherman replied "I love it when it rains on New Year's.". Well since it hadn't rained on New Year's in Los Angeles since 1955, he clearly revealed himself to be a stranger to these parts, though the local anchor quickly said something like, "Well as you know it hasn't rained here on New Year's in decades." Actually I found comments like this from the out of town metereologists to be rather annoying and actually wrote the radio station to complain. Not too long after that they swtiched to using weather people from the local TV station instead.

So we're really enjoying today's wonderful weather--especially since it's supposed to rain tomorrow.