We’re Legal! We’re Californians

driver-license-photoTrip number two to the DMV this afternoon. We had a 12:15 PM appointment. The scrolling sign at the head of the line said wait times for folks with appointments: 12 minutes. Wait time without an appointment: 222 minutes!

Are you kidding me? That’s mind numbing.

Once we got to the head of the line and my paperwork was checked, I was sent outside to have my car inspected. This isn’t a safety or smog check. The inspector is making sure you’re registering the car you claim to be registering with the proper VIN number.


It was back to the head of the line where I was given a ticket, like at the deli counter at Ralph’s. I found a chair and waited.

A055, A056, A057, A058, A059, A060. That’s me! I was off to Window 5.

It was about this time when I realized the DMV process is the opposite of efficient! There are papers swapped and humans involved every step of the way. I can’t think of any private business this labor intensive.

I signed papers, showed my passport, took the eye test (corrective lenses required), had my thumbprint read and gave up my debit card.

The woman on the other side of the counter looked up and gave me my marching orders. Window 1 for my new California plates, then the photo line followed by Room 2.

Could I program this into the GPS?

So many steps. I got the plates without worry, had my photo taken (think Nick Nolte after his DUI arrest), thumbprint read again, signed some papers I didn’t read and headed to Room 2.

I walked in and spied Helaine. She was sitting in the back of a room full of the kind of chairs you’d find in a college lecture hall. She was already taking the written exam. She looked glum.

The clerk handed me a test sheet and I took a spot off to her left. I expected 10 questions. There were 36.

I was halfway through when Helaine got up and walked to the examiner. He actually looked like Nick Nolte on a good day, including a Hawaiian print shirt.

She smiled. 33 of 36 right. Pass!

I finished a few minutes later and apprehensively walked to the desk. “You must be Mr. Connecticut,” Nick said, with a smile on his face. He was the poster child for baby boomer Californians.

Number four, wrong. Number six, wrong. Number 11, wrong. Oh, crap! My test wasn’t halfway graded and I’d already missed three of the six allowed.

Nick continued looking. That was it. No more wrong answers. Like Helaine, I ended up 33 for 36!

I now have a jumble of papers which represent my temporary California license. My beautiful Connecticut 4CAST plates have been replaced by California standard #XXX### tags.

Obviously, I’ve gone beyond the designated time limit. I’d begun to worry I’d be stopped for failure to register. Now that problem is solved.

Today, we are Californians!

On Syria And War

I have avoided writing about Syria for the last week. I can’t wait any longer. I am adamantly against military involvement there. No boots. No planes. No missiles.

There are a few reasons, but the only one that really counts is Fox’s first rule of war: Never fight unless you’re ready to fight unconditionally–and we are not. That type of fight only comes from the kind of provocation we had in World War II and haven’t had since.

You can’t pull your punches or try and fight a limited war successfully. We have shown this time and again. Can’t we learn from all our mistakes?

If we still had a draft there’s no way this would be happening. Right now our army comes from a small sliver of our population. I personally know no family with an active duty soldier.

What Assad has done to his people is reprehensible, but we can no longer be the world’s police force. It has won us few friends, made plenty of enemies and cost us many lives and much treasure.

I hope cooler heads prevail. Probably not.

SoCal Weather: Location, Location, Location


The map above (click it to make it larger) shows SoCal temperatures just before 2:00 PM. Today is a perfect day to point out the tremendous temperature difference proximity to the Pacific can make. There’s a reason, besides the views, people want to live there.

Close to the surf, temperatures are in the upper 70&#176s and very low 80&#176s. Drive inland a few miles and you quickly hit the 90&#176s. Beyond the first small mountains, like in the San Fernando Valley, temperatures are in the triple digits. The 109&#176 is from Woodland Hills in the valley.

It’s this quick change over a short distance that often confuses out-of-towners. Most people see the temperature from LAX, right at the water’s edge. A more realistic look is CQT, the weather station on the USC campus near Downtown L.A. It’s 81&#176 right now at LAX and ten degrees warmer at USC!

Clouds over the desert are holding down temperatures there. Palm Springs is ‘only’ 99&#176.

It’s interesting to watch the local news to see the weather presentation. Ten years ago it was all L.A. Now the suburbs and exurbs get covered with their own extended forecasts. Depending on the station there are three, or four, or more extended forecast panels.

The numbers can be very different, especially when you throw in the inland mountains. At 7,000 feet ASL, Big Bear City Airport is reporting 54&#176 and rain. It’s dropped 18&#176 in 2.5 hours!

Here in Orange County We hardly used the air conditioner during August. September will be a different story. It’s been on round-the-clock and probably will remain so through the weekend.

It’s pre-fall back in Connecticut. Summer comes later here in the Southland.

We Went To Dog Beach


Lot of things are different here in California. That includes a beach where dogs are welcome off leash. Dog Beach is in Huntington Beach, aka Surf City. Helaine, Stef, Roxie, Doppler and I drove there yesterday afternoon.

The marine layer was in, leaving the beach cloudy and hazy. Maybe that was good. We were very worried about Doppler getting sunburned.

IMG_7371The beach was crowded with two and four legged bathers. Some dogs couldn’t wait to run into the surf and retrieve balls or sticks. Others were carried or otherwise cajoled toward the water. Not every trip to the waterline was successful.

With all those dogs you’d expect some conflict, but I saw none.

IMG_7486Doppler and Roxie both made it to the wet sand, though neither was interested in dipping their paws or even staying near the waves.

There was a lot to see on the beach besides the people and pets.

Surfers were riding the waves. Sometimes dolphins appeared (though not while my camera was pointing at the right spot) leaping out of the water behind the big breakers. In the distance were a few oil platforms and the misty outline of Santa Catalina Island.

IMG_7547Planes carrying banners flew up and down the beach, advertising local businesses and one TV show. At one point a vintage prop fighter flew by not more than a few hundred feet above the water.

There’s a lot involved going to this beach, including a post-outing bath for both Roxie and Doppler. They might not have been in the water, but they were surely in the sand!

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Doppler and Roxie Together


Two puppies, no waiting!

Stef came down to the 949 last night. She brought Roxie.

It’s funny to see how different dogs can be. Doppler and Roxie are perfect examples.  There is little they share in common.

Roxie likes to play. Give her a toy, she will chew it until it ceases to exist.  Doppler, on the other hand, has no clue what toys are for.  She is ambivalent toward all those things Roxie has fun with.

The same goes for affection. Roxie craves attention and approval. In bed she’s a cuddler.  Doppler is content laying down and being nearby, but left alone

Doppler is not a lapdog by nature. Roxie, who’s a little on the weighty side and was sold as a miniature, loves crawling into laps.

If Roxie was our 24/7 dog we’d be exhausted!  She needs to be engaged.


Helaine and I took both on our nightly walk yesterday. As a courtesy to Roxie we cut back to a mile and a half from our usual two plus.  Her stubby legs were working overtime. Next to Roxie, Doppler looked like a sprinter.

I’ve been asked how they get along. It’s not a simple answer. They both go out to do their business at the same time, often pulling their leashes in opposite directions. They walked last night without incident. They’re both outside in the California room right now and there is zero conflict.

However, there are times Doppler feels her space is being invaded by Roxie.  She will growl and even bare her teeth. We have never seen aggressive action from her before, even when little kids poke in a less than gentle way.  It’s not Roxie that bothers her as much as where Roxie is.


It’s short lived. A stern word from Helaine, Stef, or me is enough to put her back on track. We are careful she doesn’t move beyond the growl.

We love them both. They both make us happy. But, as with people, dogs have individual personalities.  We try and respect that.

Out… As If We Were Adults

Helaine and I went to Los Angeles for dinner last night. It’s around 45 minutes away on a good night, which last night was. We were meeting Evan Astrowski and his wife Ana at the Stocking Frame, downtown. You don’t hear too much about Downtown Los Angeles, because it empties out after business hours. There’s […]

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Dressing Doppler

It is another hot and unseasonably humid day here in the Southland. John Wayne International Airport is reporting 92&#176 with a dew point of 67&#176. That’s uncomfortable by any definition. With the Sun beaming down, it was even too hot for the convertible, as I discovered leaving the house with the top down! My mission, […]

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Clouds And Storms On An Atypical SoCal Day

I’m doing a little radar watching this afternoon. The weather is decidedly not SoCal-ish! It is hot. It is {sigh} sticky. Nearby John Wayne Airport hit 97&#176 with a dew point of 66&#176–and that’s with a seabreeze! That’s the kind of heat and humidity we left Connecticut to escape! This is a good day for […]

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Wow–They Sit Through Credits Here

Thursday afternoon and the Foxes took in a movie. Helaine and I went to see “In A World,” Lake Bell’s ‘dramedy’ about voiceover artists, but really about family. We liked it. The title refers to the iconic movie trailer line spoken by the late Don La Fontaine and later Hal Douglas. Bell, who wrote and […]

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All Hail Mike Pacific

My friends and relatives all think I’m a geek. I can fix most problems plaguing PCs. I built this website. I build my own computers. Sometimes, even a geek needs someone geekier! Yesterday morning I went to check on this site and found a cryptic automated note from the server. My blogging software wasn’t connecting […]

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