rants


license_20130415071614_94143At right is a re-creation of the vanity license plate I saw on the ass of the ridiculously large and and even more ridiculously expensive-looking Fleetwood Revolution LE Earth Schooner cruising eastbound ahead of me in the No. 3 lane of the Pomona Freeway on Friday.

Maybe your interpretation is the correct one, but my reading of the incomplete words was as “SWEAT SUCKS,” which was followed by a semi-incredulous shrug of my shoulders while thinking that if the vehicle’s owner is proud to broadcast his or her or their aversion to any type of physical activity either laborious or recreational that produces perspiration, so be it.

Whatever floats your land boat, Jabba.

But then I got close enough to read the custom frame around the plate (also re-created below), and though it clarified things entirely it opened up a whole other level of incredulity, while inducing some chuckle-induced eye-rolling:

frameInstead of “SWEAT SUCKS,” the plate was an approximation of “SWEET SUCCESS.”

Full Disclosure: I am of the unwavering opinion that with the possible exception of 0.00002 percent of ALL the vanity plates in existence in the galaxy, the rest are lame.

So it is that from so unapologetically biased a basis I decree this particular plate is among the other 99.99998 percent, first and foremost because in the list of unwritten rules regarding vanity plates (the first one being: Don’t get a vanity plate), one of the top ones is:

If, in the course of requesting and acquiring a vanity plate, there is any possible ambiguity in the lettering that could cause a misread, you shouldn’t get that vanity plate.

I can just imagine this owner smugly ordering and blissfully attaching this plate to his spanking new Fleetwood’s backside, proud to proclaim his financial achievement and totally blind to the fact that it can be so easily misread… until it’s finally brought to his attention by other lesser motorists at various red lights or RV parks.

“Ha! ‘Sweat sucks!’ That’s funny! I hate sweat, too!”

“No! It’s ‘Sweeeeeeet successssssss!’

“Oh. Well… ‘Sweat sucks’ is better.”

“But it’s –.”

“Whatever, dude.”

Eventually it happened enough times where the owner frustratingly figured he had to get the frame to put a stop to the madness. And that’s where the unwritten subsection of that unwritten rule above comes in, involving the unfortunate after-the-fact realization of the confusion inducement:

If, after acquiring the plate you only then are made aware that it is being misread, you should immediately surrender the plate and by no means purchase and install a customized frame to clarify and or correct and or otherwise correctly and completely spell out the misinterpreted wording.

Of course, there’s no real penalty for breaking these rules, just as there’s no real cure for dumbshit. But in looking further into this specific violation one wishes there were ordinances prohibiting a person’s transgressions against basic common sense — for their own safety!

Allow me to explain, by showcasing the specific recreational vehicle in question, one which  veritably turns full-sized quad-cab pick-up trucks into Tonka Toys like this, by the way (click it for the bigger picture):

2010 Fleetwood Revolution 42W LE 3 Slides + full sideslide

Check out the size. This beast is 43 feet long. It’s powered by a 400-horsepower diesel engine. Width and height I’d guesstimate to be 10 feet and 12 feet, respectively. Something that big comes with a big price tag. A quick check of the internut found used and new ones in a price range spanning $200,000 to $400,000.

Four. Hundred. Thousand. Dollars. Gasoline not included.

In a nutshell: the vehicle alone makes a bigger-than-bold statement. By itself it already screams FLTHYRCH, so putting a vanity plate as a backside exclamation that augments that blaring point is RDNDNT at best and DNG STPD, at worst.

Why stupid? Well see, it’s all well and good if the only attention this vehicle attracts is from the likes of mild-mannereds like me and the reactions don’t go past smirks, chuckling and eye rolls.

But seeing as it’s piloted by a privileged 1-percenter hogging up the public highway lanes across this great city, county, state, and country, rolling along surrounded by the rest of us 99-percenters, there are inevitably some far more desperate and angry than I who instead of seeing a humongous RV with a lame vanity plate and a lamer explanatory frame, sees a giant bag of money driven flagrantly by someone who just has to be an equally ginormous tool. Maybe they imagine a neon sign in the rear window that says RIPE FOR THE PICKING and/ or a bumper sticker that reads:

DRIVER CARRIES NO MORE
THAN $10,000 IN CASH.

Maybe it’s a 65-year-old handyman who’ll be lucky to retire at all and sees nothing funny about it. Maybe it’s a 20-something day laborer with a family back in Mexico who hasn’t been able to send money home in a month for lack of work. Maybe it’s a gangbanger and his homies with nothing better to do. Maybe it’s a guy rapidly approaching 50 who’s putting himself through a training program at his own expense in hopes of landing a job that barely pays him in a year a tenth of the top-end cost for that RV. Oops, that last one’s a bit too close to home.

Without belaboring it any more than I’ve already belabored it, my point is: One person’s “success” is another’s “sucks.”  Especially so the latter when it’s those that fail at recognizing they’re doing themselves no favors by flaunting their SUCS to those among us who think that SUCS.

 

 

There’s a subset of strangers and acquaintances I meet and or interact with out there who — despite all evidence to the contrary — find it perfectly acceptable to call me “Bill.” I find it fascinating. What I also find fascinating is that it’s not a two-way street. If I did go by “Bill” I would bet the odds would be preeeeeeetty long that anyone would auto-default to “Will.”

To me this kneejerk opt-in to an overtly familiar short-version of William is an intriguing  paradox because anyone familiar with me knows I don’t cotton to Bill in the slightest, and if you’re not familiar with me why are you going there without even the courtesy of asking my preference or permission to do so?

Does this substitute-B shit happen to  the world’s Waldos and Wades and Walters and Warrens and Waynes, Wendells, Wesleys, Winstons, Woodys, Wyatts and Wyntons?

“Hi. How are you, I’m Don Geevadam.”

“Hi, Don. I’m Walt Weethadoubayoo.”

“Pleased to meet you, Balt.”

Halt! Never happened. Never bill — I mean: will.

But it happens to me. And when it does — far more than it should — I am quick to correct, as in this screengrab example below that I’ll leave you with from a Facebook exchange this morning with the Auto Club of Southern California over my disappointment that a new program I was interested in wasn’t available to us because our Ford is a hybrid (slightly enlarged if clicked):

aaa

 

Two things you can count on angelenos to bitch and moan about: rain and traffic.

Orb weaver doesn’t give a shit. Orb weaver’s bad ass. Rain? Feh. Traffic? Go ride a bike, says Orb weaver.

The President of the United States is in town and it’s all about the gridlock everyone gets stuck in. Boo. Hoo. I swear, Khaddafi could’ve been found living the low life in some City Hall sub-basement and the top story would be how much worse the traffic is in and out of the Civic Center because of the ensuing lockdown.

 

The second time in my life that I biked up and over the Sepulveda Pass was last weekend during my Autocalypse Now Ride. The first time? Waaaay the hell back in 1991. I remember it well because it was a rather epic ride. The woman I was dating at the time had decided to go to the beach in Santa Monica with her daughter, and since I’d already been planning on biking from my apartment in Glendale to a morning softball game in Sherman Oaks, I thought what the hell and decided to bike the rest of the way to the sea.

Think about that for a second: Glendale to Sherman Oaks to Santa Monica. Roughly 31 miles. With a league softball game in the middle. Twenty years ago. Pardon me for crowing a bit about it.

Of course the trek was predicated on my crossed-fingered hope that I would somehow be able to locate my girfriend on the crowded sands somewhere between a pair of predetermined lifeguard stations. If so, I could throw the bike in her trunk for a drive home. If not, it was going to be a long and exhausting ride back to Glendale.

Much to my relief I found her. But that successful conclusion is not the point. The point is that from a bicycling perspective of Sepulveda Boulevard between the two decades that separated my riding it, we’ve come a long way, baby. Both literally and figuratively, with some of it good and some of it leaving a helluva lot to be desired.

When I got on my bike last weekend, the vast majority of the ride from Silver Lake to the top of the Sepulveda Pass was done over a nice mix of Class I bikeways and Class II bike lanes. We had the LA River and Chandler bikeways connected mostly by the Riverside Drive bike lanes. Then the Chandler bike lanes to the Orange Line Bikeway. South of Ventura a bike lane’s been laid down almost to the top. And that bad little bit o’ almost is what I want to focus on.

But before I do, in salute to the good that’s been laid down, let’s remember that in 1991 there was no LA River or Chandler or Orange Line bikeways. There may have been a Riverside Drive bike lane, but there certainly wasn’t a striped lane on Sepulveda.

So I was cheering and marveling all along that first 27 miles from Silver Lake up through Sherman Oaks, but I quit rah-rah’ing just as we were arriving at the three-lane Sepulveda Tunnel when the bike lane abruptly ended, leaving me entering the tunnel with fellow rider Ann past a dark signal light above a Bike sign which hung above an  “In Tunnel” sign (at left, click to enlarge) and wondering what confederacy of dunces decided such an apparently malfunctioning after-thought would suffice in protecting cyclists when they are at their most vulnerable/least visible.

Inside the tunnel I saw there was a sidewalk to our right to desperately bail out to if needed and I reached back to turn on my rear flasher to provide some type of increased visibility. But about midway through when a procession of vehicles (including an MTA bus, several passenger vehicles and a Super Shuttle van) entered the tunnel behind us, I moved to the middle of the No. 2 lane and decided to forsake any coolness by augmenting my rear light with some serious flapping and waving of my arms in hopes my funkily animated silhouette might draw the drivers’ eyes before they were right on top of us. With two southbound lanes all vehicles cleared us smoothly, except the van which somewhat unnervingly got to about 10 feet behind me before it got a chance to change lanes.

Note: It’s distressing times like that when wheeljockeys blithely steering thousands of pounds of steel up my ass  that I wish I had a double-barreled paintball gun with which to level at their heads and splatter their windshields.

(more…)

As evidenced by discovering two relatively fresh piles on the parkway today while sweeping up the frontyard and sidewalk, either one dog-walker or more have become perfectly OK with their pooch pooping in front of our house and then failing to remove the fecal matter.

As such I’m mulling over the following options for signage and could use guidance among the following three I’m considering:

  1. Please scoop your dog’s poop
  2. If you’re not a dick, up the dogshit you will pick
  3. Circumstance and a dogged (no pun intended) sense of righteousness will eventually conspire to allow me to catch you not cleaning up your dog’s dungheap. So by all means, go ahead and let your pooch crap in front of my house — again. But be warned: when that glorious day of reckoning arrives, I shall race down like winged vengeance upon the steaming pile, palm it from where it lays and do my level best to decorate the back of your head with it.

No. 1 is respectful and direct, but I like No. 2’s Yoda-esque truth. No. 3, though, is very, very satisfying, but would require a pretty large piece of cardboard, hope that the offender isn’t too short-attention spanned, and probably a good lawyer to help get me acquitted of any assault charges. Thoughts?

You might recall past blog posts of mine regarding driveway blockers and how I deal with them. Most get a page-long letter scolding them for their inconsideration. Some get cited, and the occasional superfail gets his or her car’s ass towed to the nearest impound yard.

Well, thanks to the internet, I have found a far more concise version to that correspondence option, courtesy a 1974 answer from Cleveland Stadium to a Browns fan and season ticket holder who wrote to complain about the frustrations forged by his fellow fans who deigned to fly paper airplanes during games:

Gentlemen:

I am one of your season ticket holders who attends or tries to attend every game. It appears one of the pastimes of several fans has become the sailing of paper airplanes generally made out of the game program. As you know, there is the risk of serious eye injury and perhaps an ear injury as a result of such airplanes. I am sure that this has been called to your attention and that several of your ushers and policemen witnessed the same.

Please be advised that since you are in a position to control or terminate such action on the part of fans, I will hold you responsible for any injury sustained by any person in my party attending one of your sporting events. It is hoped that this disrespectful and possibly dangerous activity will be terminated.

Very truly yours,
Roetzel & Andress
By Dale O. Cox

The hilarious response below is just about the best worst example of customer consideration I’ve ever encountered… but then again, in hindsight it’s somewhat par for the course given the giant fah-kyoo the Browns gave the entire city of Cleveland in relocating to Baltimore as the Ravens in 1996 (click it for a larger version):

And of course in my own twisted mind, I readily adapted such matter-of-factness to possibly pertain to the next person who flagrantly impedes our driveway ingress/egress:

Dear [Make] [Model]:

In case the tow truck gets here before you can leave, I felt you should be aware that some asshole is parking you like it’s OK to block me.

Very truly yours,
The Garage

Think of the amount of printer ink I’ll save!

I wonder at times about high-priced bicycles and the companies that make them. When the people involved decide upon the retail price, do they do it in all unblinking seriousness believing it an entirely valid amount, or do they nervously hunch over somewhat reflexively in wide-eyed incredulity, like they’re doubtful they’ll get away with such an outrageous thing.

Certainly I understand that R&D, and materials and manufacturing and design and components and craftsmanship and overhead and advertising all play important roles in bumping up that final figure. But when I see Cannondale’s Flash Hi-Mod 29’er profiled in the Health section of today’s L.A. Times and priced at five thousand eight hundred and ninety nine dollars, all my mild-mannered and rational understanding goes out the window and what I really want to do is storm their HQ, kicking all sorts of ass between the front door and the vault that keeps the documents showing the actual total per-unit cost as being $795.23. Or for the sake of argument let’s say it’s $1795.72.

For a bike. Not including the 200% mark-up. Or the sales tax.

Yet the folks there at Cannondale with the key to that vault in one collective corporate hand manage to staunch any snickering and straight-face you when they hold out their other collective corporate hand demanding payment of  five thousand eight hundred and ninety nine dollars for what I’m sure they pretend is the privilege of riding such an exceptionally state-of-the-science mountain bike.

And it may be. But it’s still just a bike, one that’s sporting a huge profit margin.

I’m sure there are people out there with that kind of scratch who will oblige. Just as there are those who’ll fork over amazing amounts for designer blue jeans.

Now, I don’t want to squelch the evolution of bike technology. Like I said, I understand that there’s a pricetag attached to the latest and greatest and I’m all for making bikes betterstrongerfaster. I just will never accept a figure so exorbitant. Because I come at it from an insulted perspective that probably insults Cannondale and any other company charging such sums. I rode a $300 track bike for more than 6,000 miles until the frame weakened a year ago. Then I sent the manufacturer the old frame and  $119 for a replacement frame, and I’ve been riding that ever since. Prior to that I put more than 5,000 miles riding a 1970s-era 10-speed someone had thrown away and that I invested a few hundred bucks returning to rideable condition.

My mountain bike: a $350 expenditure purchased over the internet more than seven years ago.

My most expensive bike? A 2000 Giant OCR-3 for which I paid $500.

The most expensive bike I ever bought: a $900 Klein that I returned less than a week later wondering how I could’ve been such a sucker.

Even if I had a spare five thousand eight hundred and ninety nine dollars hanging around and could get past the ridiculousness of making such an obscene purchase without having myself committed to an institution for the financially inane, do you think I would actually go up in the Verdugos or the San Gabes and actually ride the thing?

No, I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. At that price, it would be a far better thing to hang it on the wall as testament to wretched excess then to risk getting such a masterpiece dirty!

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