Friday, November 14, 2008


“Yesterday was the “Great Southern California Shakeout Drill,” where thousands of Southern Californians simultaneously were supposed to “drop, cover and hold on” for two minutes of imagined seismic activity.

I was in a coffee shop in downtown Burbank a few months ago when the building started to shake. At first I thought a truck was passing by, but when the building continued shaking, I knew that it was something else. People started looking at one another. I started packing my belongings. That 5.4-magnitude tremor in July, centered in the hills east of Los Angeles, was my first California earthquake.

I really didn’t know what to do, but I didn’t think I wanted to be inside the place during an earthquake. There was a period — just before panic began to set in — when folks in the shop were looking around like they didn’t know what to do.

The quake was over in a few minutes. No horrible damage was done. Nobody got hurt. It wasn’t the “big one.” But it was nothing to sneeze at.

Being a transplant from the Midwest and having lived in the East, I have contended with

tornadoes, nor’easters, snowstorms and even hurricanes.

But earthquakes are a different story.


“Where were the flags?”

I am a veteran. I served my country in the United States Air Force. I am proud to be able to say that, despite the anti-war sent

iment that is around.

I am not a warmonger, but under certain circumstances, I feel it is necessary to go the distance where the defense of the country is concerned, I have much love for those who have served — and 

are serving — the United States of America.

So imagine my concern on Veterans Day, when I realize that I did not see any flags — no more than usual, anyway. I mean, come on. We are presently in the worst times that country has seen in years. Two wars going on. Two, Afgha

nistan and Iraq. So we should be grateful for the dedication of the U.S. service members who are doing what they do. Since the war began in March 2003, 4,196 Iraq war casualties have been recorded.

But where were the flags Tuesday?

I couldn’t find many. As a matter of fact, if I didn’t know it was Veterans Day, I wouldn’t have known it was Veterans Day.

Sure, there were the usual parades and memorial services and whatnot, but you would think there would be more …  

Monday, November 10, 2008


It’s been almost a week since The Event, and the excitement has yet to wear off.

“Good morning!” the bus driver says to me as I climb aboard the 150. She’s smiling. I haven’t seen her in a few days, so I don’t know if her smile has anything to do with The Event last Tuesday or if this is just her way. I hadn’t noticed the two times before that I’d ridden on her bus.

“Good morning,” I respond as I use my TAP card to pay my fare and head to a seat.

I like sitting by the window, curbside, near the front. Usually, I don’t have a problem finding a seat … especially at this stop near the beginning of the run.

The bus is not too full, which is about normal for this time of morning. You’ve got the usual passengers, a healthy mix of brown and beige faces, some attempting to wake up, others fired up and ready to get the day started. But there’s something different today. Just about everyone seems to be smiling. More than I remember. It could be my imagination, but I don’t think so.

I settle in for the ride toward Universal City, near where one of my favorite Starbucks is. It usually takes the better part of an hour to get out there, but I’m in no hurry. I usually crank up my iPod and listen to some tunes as I either read the paper or watch the passing scenery along Ventura Boulevard. No music for me today, though. There’s something going on and I want to check it out. I want to fully absorb the atmosphere.

There’s an older woman in the front seat, nearest the driver, and she’s reading a copy of “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” written by the president-elect in 1995. The woman’s copy looks as if it’s been around, a library copy maybe. You know, with the heavy-duty plastic cover on it. The woman looks up and around, we make eye contact and she nods before getting back to her book.

After a while, from the back of the bus I hear laughter. It’s not unusual to hear such laughter, since some high-school students ride the 150 to get to school. And you know how youngsters seem to be laughing a lot more than we adults.

I listen more carefully and I hear snippets of a conversation:

“What he needs to do now…”



“Maybe now I can…”

 I listen to these snippets for a good while, and before long…

 I, too, am smiling.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Heading to work"

Commuting. To work. This can be one of the most stressful times of the day. I mean, you're heading into a place where you may not really want to be, anyway. And on top of this, you must contend with people who are pushing and shoving and whatnot... to the point to where you might just want to say, "STOP, I want to get off!"

It's OK though. At least you have a place to go, somewhere to be and a way to get there. Even if it is via public transportation. 

No complaints from me, though. I mean, I am happy to be able to take the train and a bus (and sometimes even another bus) in order to get to work. 

I mean, with the present state of things these days, it's
 a good thing to be able to have a job. Any job. And since I have been blessed with having a job, I am not going to trip on the little things like ... getting to and from work. I prefer the Red Line, myself. Having lived in New York City for many years before becoming a West Coast transplant, I am fond of a good subway system. Even used to it. Comfortable.

Besides, contrary to popular belief, everyone who lives in Los Angeles is not "blinging." Some people are just glad to have enough to ride Metro.

And we have a new president of the United States. Barack Hussein Obama, a black man!

There is plenty to be happy about ... as we head to work.