Getting Scared of Biking in Long Beach Now

I have not been biking much these days;  I do it when I can.  Back when I began blogging on this here platform, I was on the bike and Metro almost everyday from the Valley to Long Beach.

I live in Compton now, and my biking range goes all the way to downtown LA, though it's been a while since I've done a ride.  I do not bike as much in Long Beach.

The days of biking are gone for the time being, mostly because of a job.

But even when I get on a bike, I'm not as freewheeling as I used to be.

Maybe I'm getting socialized into fear. 

Maybe I'm getting older.

Maybe I've gotten too sensitive to the stories I occasionally read on BikinginLA.  Stories of
fallen bicyclists and pedestrians, whose names occasionally whir in and out of local news with little fanfare or visible outrage.

Maybe I've lost too much trust in drivers and the social fabrics.   I've read too many stories about bikers in LA on sites like LA Weekly and KPCC, and people not on bikes largely remain brazen and entitled to their cars and retain a largely accusatory attitude towards bicyclists as if there are no bicyclists who drive.

Maybe I've gotten too sensitive to the numbers.  Recently, the Governors Highway Association found that California leads the nation in bicycle deaths.

I know that there is a small chance, a 1 in 4919 chance of getting hit and being killed on a bicycle, which is actually a much smaller chance than dying from a motor vehicle accident.  Death on a bicycle is the 17th most common way to die according to Medline.  Motor vehicle accidents are 8th.  Not that I would rather die by car in car, but at least there are some safety features that might be able to protect me, whereas if I am hit by a car, it's my body exposed and hopefully the damage is minimal.

All this worrying has gotten to me.

I'm ALWAYS looking over my shoulder nowadays, sometimes even when there is a bike lane.

For the first time in my adult biking career last week, I biked a route more on the sidewalk than on the actual street.  Even in the vaunted "most bike-friendly city" in the nation.

The streets that got me shook?  A couple east-west streets.  It would be no big deal for most veteran bicyclists, but if I'm riding it, there are probably lots of people who are also not, and are probably sidewalking it.
  • 7th Street on the way to CSULB, which is bad as a morphs into a 3-lane speedway on the way to the 22 East freeway.
  •  Willow on Signal Hill, which has 3 lanes, an uphill, and a 40 MPH speed limit

How News Media Fosters De-Humanization: A Case Study

First, I genuinely wish the families of Lexi and Lexandra Perez and Andrea Gonzalez prayers, good vibes, and karmic good.  

Rest in peace Lexi, Lexandra, and Andrea. 

I also wish for the same for the man who ran them over and his family.  Most would be understandably mad at him not only for killing, but for also fleeing. 

When these things happen, everyone loses.

Here's to hoping for an evolution into safer streets for everyone.

* * *
It was only a matter of time before they located a driver suspected of killed these three trick-or-treating teenagers in Santa Ana.

While it's good news, I was pretty irked by OC Weekly's coverage of this finding.

I wouldn't doubt any of the claims that OC Weekly is making, but it's their emphases that bother me.  Which emphases?  The ones that do more than identify but also further brand this individual as nothing more than guilty criminal before any investigation or trial has been set. 

As someone interested in Linguistic Anthropology, I always wonder how reporters use words to describe their understanding of a situation.  I definitely believe that their own background influences how they see and ultimately represent the background of a victim or an accused criminal.

I tend to think that media, most of whom are white, would be quicker to label a lower-class black guy with a more crystallized "criminal" branding than they are a lower-class white guy.  Possibly out of intent, more likely out of habit.

The basis of the article is the accused and his "long rap sheet." I must admit that I was a little curious as to who he was.  The OC Weekly dug that up, but they only trotted out his criminal record;  who really was he outside of this criminal record?  We don't know anything about his mom, or the two people he was with.  Why would they let him drive?  We don't get that idea whatsoever, and are not really exposed to any other complexity of his life other than the part of his history that notes his criminality.  

The OC Weekly's emphasis on his "rap sheet" only serves to crystallize and make it seem like what he did was ultimately of a permanent, intentional mindset.  I'm not sure why they decided to make his criminal record a "thing of interest," and focus of an article, rather than as simple background and part of a tragic story.  Though I am referencing a different article in a different city with a different writer, when Nathan Louis Campbell apparently rampaged and ran over those pedestrians with his Dodge Avenger at the Venice boardwalk last August and killed the honeymooning Alice Gruppioni from Italy, even he was not saddled with the broad brush of a menacing "rap sheet", he was simply "once locked up for shoplifting" though the article makes mention of another incident.

I am also bothered by OC Weekly's use of the word "homicide" as one of the labels/tags for this story. It's an accident, a distinction that would be of no consolation to anyone, but quite different than "homicide", which is worth noting for a news source purporting to be objective.  He is being charged for manslaughter and fleeing the scene, not homicide or murder.

OC Weekly's emphasis on the rap sheet, combined with this mug shot of yet another black guy in our faces, and the lack of focus on the victims has definitely stirred reaction.  As of this writing, the OC Weekly has reaped the benefits of this reporting with over 144 comments.

OC Weekly's coverage of this case is what I consider the low, dim end of the spectrum.

In my anecdotal scan of the coverage of other vehicular manslaughters in LA and OC, no one has really cared to splay an accused driver's criminal history or "rap sheet."  It didn't come up for Vanessa Yanez, nor for Gary S. Hunt.

Incidentally, while the OC Weekly has drummed up much comments about Jaquinne Bell, they are also silent about Gary Hunt, a man recently charged with gross vehicular manslaughter and driving his pick-up truck under the influence on October 21st, rear-ending a car at a stoplight, killing a 10-year old boy named Rafael Israel Ramirez, and injuring three others.  I can't find anything about Mr. Hunt.

OC Weekly is the low, dim contrast to KPCC's coverage, which is also tied into such stories such as how unsafe Santa Ana's streets are in general.

One of KPCC's stories also features a picture of the accused, but it's the second picture after 2 of the 3 girls.

In the story in which they break the news of the accused capture, it's merely a report with only a sentence about prior convictions.  Their initial story got 2 comments.  The latest report has 4, which includes an insightful comment from a veteran LA urban planning commenter about the man's punishment:  taking public transit and biking for the rest of his life.

Live-Tweeting Halloween from West Compton, 2014

Last year, I wrote a little blurb about Halloween in Compton. I saw one comment trolling Compton on the KPCC Facebook page about neighborhoods (here is the article, not the Facebook page though); I decided that I wanted to live-tweet the actual experience of being here in Compton during Halloween. There are a few houses here and there around the Larger Compton area that decked themselves out, but it's definitely not everyone, and was pretty absent. We ourselves didn't look very festive other than a Jack-O-Lantern in front of our house. When it was all said and done by about 9:00 PM, I was able to almost-empty out one Target brand box of 60 fruit snacks that we'd bought from Target. We would give out not one, but two pouches of snacks. We have one full box of Target brand fruit snacks remaining, which we kind of anticipated. That said, here is Halloween in Compton, 2014. Our first trick-or-treaters were kind of from Compton, though they were picked up and driven in by one of my wife's long-time friends from Wilmington. There was a lot of down time. I carved a simple jack-o-lantern to signal that yes, indeed, come on in kids, take our candy! At one point in the night, we heard a bunch of kids, and my wife got mad that I didn't step outside of the house to welcome them in (and ratch up our trick-or-treat totals.) I told her something to the effect of "they'll come if they want to", which caused a micro-argument to ensue A few weeks prior to Halloween, a couple of contractors installed new city lights on our block. Stories from neighbors said that gangsta kids used to shoot out these lights; as it is we still lack a proper street sign on the street facing Central Avenue. We got one batch of trick-or-treaters, I suspect that they were the same kids from last year. I wouldn't have known if they were our neighbors. In the back of my I head I was still thinking about KPCC's article and my conversations with teachers about how trick-or-treating was a chance to get to know your neighbors. I blew it. I was more embarrassed at the thought of deploying my deplorable Spanish skills. Within 1 minute or 2, they were gone and I was eavesdropping on their other interactions. They didn't seem to have many after us. I was tweeting from my phone; I was trying to say that I was disappointed "that I couldn't *say more* than the cliche..." Autocorrect *sigh* The drought kinda ended, but it was really just ushering in the cold. Finished the night at around 8:45 AM as I was falling in and out of sleep. Throughout the night, I kept wondering what would happen if we made Compton an actual destination, and not just a place for people to pass through. What if we had a couple houses devoted to being really scary (and not you're going to be killed scary, but safe-fun scary)? What if we built the stuff that people wanted to see? What if.

Upcoming 2014 Elections: Leaning Towards a "No" on LA County Measure P/Proposition P

Measure P/Proposition P is about ensuring funding for County of LA (CoLA) Parks up till 2045 through a flat parcel tax.  As a parcel tax, it will require 66% of the voters to say yes, as opposed to a simple majority.

That tax would be $1.6 billion over the next 30 years, which would be $53 million annually.

People who support this proposition say that it is a continuation of funding Proposition A from 1992, which expires in June 2015. 

Proposition A in 1992 guaranteed $540 million over 22 years to various projects across LA County. 

Funds from Prop A went to many projects that have served as icons for LA such as the 4-year renovation of the Griffith Park Observatory, which was allocated $18 million, the rehab of the LA Zoo which was allocated $25 million, $17 million for the California Science Museum.  As for spending on things that are actually close to where I live, I saw that $1 million went to the development of MLK Park in LBC.  Other than construction of a swimming pool at East Rancho Dominguez, I didn't see any funds go to Compton.  Gang reduction programs were specifically allocated no less than $3 million, and nonprofit organizations $10 million.

The funds were raised through an assessment on each property depending on size.

Additionally, in 1996, voters approved another proposition A which gives over $28 million annually to parks.  This proposition will expire in June 2019.  In that round, it seemed that there was more emphasis on gangs I saw that a whole $5 million or so went to parks in "underserved" communities.  

Almost all the elements for me usually voting "Yes" on something vaguely involving public space are there:  money for parks, programming for gangs, etc. etc. 

I generally especially love the quality of CoLA parks, usually really spacious and well-kempt, and frankly, underused.  I really would hate to see the parks sink down to the level of say City of LA.  In my anecdotal experience, even here in Willowbrook with the Earvin Johnson Park, most CoLA parks are truly a cut above City of LA and other city parks, though this proposition does reach some of the smaller cities' parks.  However, I, like Mark Ridley-Thomas think that they don't seem to do enough for disadvantaged areas.

I realize that there is no such thing as a "soft" yes or "soft" no, simply just "yes" or "no."  Right now, given my information from the internet sources:  LA Times, KPCC, ballotpedia, I'm going with a 'no' that was just a "yes" about a minute ago.

The organizations I usually like are a "yes" vote:  LA Land Trust, LA County Bike Coalition, and Father Gregory Boyle who is an organization all himself.  There's also the Daily News.

There are two respectable organizations that advocate a "no":  LA Times on the basis that it was pushed out too fast and goes to a regressive tax, hurting the little people, and the Sierra Club, on the basis that they do not allocate much to disadvantaged areas.

I say "soft no" to highlight the fact that I have not fully marked my ballot and can change my opinion, and also that either vote seems fine, though it does actually put more burden on actual individual people rather than the bigger entities that it has traditionally been dependent upon.  For the time being, I see a lot more clean cut reasons to say no, than to say yes.

What makes the proposition something I am giving the "soft no" to?  
  • It is funded by a regressive flat tax;  every property owner across the county pays the same $23 per property each year on your property tax bill, no matter if you are the owner of the Staples Center or if you are the owner of a tiny little motor home in Compton on a gang-ridden street.  $23, when the average according to KPCC was around $13, while larger corporations paid in the thousands.  The LA Times Op-Ed in favor of a no vote notes that the range paid was from 3 cents to $10,000.
  • Questionable motives:  why the rush?  Why not use that same assessments structure enacted in 1992?  This a way of straddling the line to keep industries and small businesses happy?  Not made clear anywhere.  I do wonder what Supervisors Molina, Yaroslavsky, and Knabe have to gain.  It also seemed that Ridley-Thomas would have been on board, though he thinks there was not enough given to underserved communities.  To me it seems like a trial run to see what they can get away with.  I'm not sure why this was not anticipated and prepared for.
  • They don't specify their allocations, something they did for 1992 and 1996.
  • It seems that we could "survive" a temporary shortage in funding until at least 2017.  There still appears to unused money from 1996:  $134 million in unallocated funds.  Additionally, after scanning the documents of Prop A it seems that a lot of the projects in there got its money for specific acquisition and renovations that have already been completed.  The campaign for Prop P has not threatened jobs, but the lack of repairs, upgrades, and improvements, which might be a safe way of implicating but not threatening jobs.  There doesn't seem to be any sense of critical urgency from any of the proponents threatening livelihoods and current conditions, which also makes me believe that it won't be a big deal if this doesn't pass.
What would sway me to a "soft yes"?  
  • Essentially, just more information on why the proposition is the way it is.  I need more to go on than just "it funds parks and programs, etc..."  I need to know these things:  a)  why it relies on the flat regressive tax, b)  why the County Supervisors took so long before enacting this to appear on this ballot, and 3)  how badly parks and services might suffer if the money isn't there in the meanwhile.
  • Attempting to take the perspective of the three county supervisors and some of the planners' point of view, it seems like they are adapting this proposition in part because it finds a way around the constraints under the current measures. County Park Planner Clement Lau says that they are focusing on how to get parks in underserved areas, making it sound like it was not possible under the current system.
  • I would throw my support if this was really the only way of securing funding for the short and long-term.  It is risky to hold out until a later time.  The supervisors won't be able to get another item on the ballot until 2016, and we would not be able to use that money till 2017.  And just what would happen?  The Daily News makes this effect real.  They say this:  "Take for instance L.A. County where next year the city will get $1.4 million for maintenance and service thanks to previous propositions; that would dwindle the following year to $484,000 and then disappear by 2019 without voters approving a new parks measure." 
As it appears to me, it appears risky voting "no", but ultimately the measure seems to be more preventative and experimental, than critical, urgent, and targeted.  For me, I think this puts more pressure on getting it right in 2016.

Los Angeles (Silver Lake, Atwater Village, Eagle Rock), Filipino-Americans, Catholic Grade Schools: An Overview 1990-1998

The title of this article represents the time that I was in Catholic School grade in Los Angeles.  That's 8 years of grade school.  My 4 years in Catholic high school were another story altogether and radically different than the time in grade school.

I don't know that if I have many "special" stories or a story, worthy of a movie, or a memoir, but I was inspired to write primarily because of a KCRW/Zocalo segment on Catholic School education in the 1930s. Also, I was once told by someone that there aren't enough stories about "us", "us' meaning Asian-Americans, so here are a few more.

The popular media I've seen on Catholic schools have always involved white kids somewhere east dealing with nuns who would break pencils on their students' hands.  I've listened to and read articles about how the Catholic school was really strict about everything.

Some of those stories have resonated with what I experienced, but I don't think what I experienced exactly has been represented quite yet.

I only have realized my experience well after my undergraduate years.  In college at UCLA, I realized that a lot of Filipino-American kids in LA (When I say "LA", I tend to mean areas from Central LA (Historic Filipinotown) to Echo Park to Los Feliz to Atwater Village to Eagle Rock and Glendale) tended to go to Catholic schools;  I say this without wanting to discount the number that went to public schools, but I can't speak to that experience except for one year in kindergarten and my college experience at the UCs and CSUs.

I mention "Filipino-American" so much in this piece because I think Filipino-Americans and our experiences have kinda "flown under the radar" in popular discourse. Back then from the 1990s to 1998, Filipinos made up a visible population in many Catholic schools across LA, at least from what I "felt" at surrounding schools and in my own.  On anecdotal observation of my old school and schools across LA, they still do. 

I don't mean to speak on behalf of all Filipino American experiences in Los Angeles, but I think I have more than enough to "say something", at the very least about my experience.  I would like for my articles to be one dot that represents one experience in Catholic schools and through the Filipino-American experience, but also is one step in making the Filipino-American racial and ethnic category visible, credible, and present in recent history; ready to engage and participate in public discourses about education and other civic affairs.   I mention it at the outset because it is contrary to the dominant narratives which don't usually include people of color in the now.  By using "Filipino-American", I don't mean to "tribalize" or necessarily say that my experience was radically different than other students', but I just want to say that being "Filipino-American" was one lens through which I viewed things, just like being Mexican, being "short", being a girl, or being tall can affect the way you may perceive things.

Only after having married a Catholic school teacher have I come back to re-call what have been probably my most formative learning experiences.

My project and premise is simple:  I find myself trying to reflect on "what it all meant" and how bits, pieces, and chunks of the experience might have impacted me for today.

There's the obvious great memories.  Graduation.  Field day at the base of the Griffith Observatory with In N Out Burger.  Field trips.  The last days of June which involved wrapping school textbooks in brown covered wraps.  Halloween.  Christmas shows.  Valentines Day with "school families." Talent shows.  School festivals.   The American flag popsicles on hot days.  Art class.  Birthdays in school which evolved into these dance parties as we got into "junior high" from 6th - 8th grade.

There was the mundane things outside of the classroom.  The assignment of play areas.  The dodgeball wars on the playground. P.E.  Kickball.  An almost all-asphalt playground that also served as a parking lot for church on Saturdays and Sundays.  Basketball rims put up around November to coincide with "basketball season."  The organic separation of boys and girls, except for occasional boys vs. girls games.   

There's the everyday rituals that I remember and suddenly miss.  School uniforms and wearing them correctly.  The morning assemblies which began with lining up, and doing a Pledge of Allegiance.  The birthday announcements.  Staring at the analog clock in the back of the class to make sure it was almost close to 3:00 PM dismissal time. Taking home parent envelopes. Getting dropped off in a car behind the cones.  Going to my parents' or friend's car after school.  Or going to daycare after-school.  Homework time during daycare, and then play time after homework.

The school was dominated by car-drivers, and I imagine, probably still is given the geographic spread we students covered.  My dad usually dropped us off because my mom always drove and went to work early at the hospital.  Incidentally, only one kid I knew lived close enough to walk to school;  everyone was shuttled in a car, and I was pretty much able to recognize different cars that everyone was shuttled in.  One carpool of an extended family of Fil-Ams was (kinda mean) called the clown car.  Biking was completely non-existent, though I do remember one incident during the Summer my sister entered Kindergarten;  a little white girl was riding a bike with her older adult-sized brother who was probably somewhere between 15 and 25.  She was bleeding from the nose and was crying.  Some other adults rushed and asked what happened.  He said that they had been hit by a car;  yikes.  Didn't have any effect on what I thought of biking.

There's the curious markings of what made those years clearly the 1990s.  The computer lab just before computers became normal in every home.  A TV with a VCR occasionally being dragged into our classroom.  The slow-moving printer that printed tear-able flaps on each side of the paper which we'd have to rip off, which some used to make these little crafts.  The occasional guestspeaker whether a DARE officer or a missionary.  The principal outlawing "baggy pants" and "jeans" for fear of any association with gang culture.

Of course there wouldn't be the Catholic "school" without the classrooms, my classmates, and teachers and their personalities.  Each year, we fluctuated between 32-35 students, which means that there was enough a crowd in the class, but still kind of intimate.  We had one desk and all books contained within it starting in 2nd grade.  We stayed in one classroom.  We occasionally switched seating positions.

I also remember every single teacher and their quirks.
  • 1st grade was a super-tall white lady who brought who equally super big son and daughter to school one time.  
  • 2nd grade was a Filipino lady almost my parents' age (and definitely taller than my 4'8 mother) who said that she was older than most of our parents;  she was the first time I was acknowledged as doing well in class.  
  • 3rd grade was technically a nun with a nun with an Irish accent, but did not really dress the part and was acknowledged as one of the nicest teachers;  for some reason I did the worst under her.  
  • 4th grade was a taller, thin white lady with curly hair and what someone described as loose lips;  she was cool, she apparently might've dated a vaguely Asian guy that was also helping at our school, and where I felt I found an "academic groove."  
  • 5th grade was the same Filipino lady who incidentally was chosen as my sister's godmother;  I struggled again.  
  • 6th grade was an older white lady with short hair and a passion for diagramming sentences.  I probably forgot, but I felt like I learned a lot from her.  
  • 7th grade was slightly split between a white guy who left in the middle of the year and was replaced by a fresh college graduate, the son of the long-time school secretary.  
  • 8th grade was a younger, hip cool white lady who specialized in teaching Math and saw me off to the selective Catholic high school of my choice.
I don't know if I could name every classmate, but we spent enough time to where I can recognize faces, though if you ask me to name a kid from a different grade, that might be a little challenging.

Nowadays, as people in our 20s and 30s, I could probably recognize probably a fraction of those who went to the school from 1990-1998.  Probably more likely if you were at the school for at least 4-5 years.  Pretty much if you were a girl in 6th grade or older by the time I was 11, I was probably crushing on you.  It is really really weird saying this as a 30-year old man, but as a growing 10-11-12-13-14 year old, I was a fan of pretty much all the girls.  To me at that age, they weren't little school girls, they were growing, taller-than-me fully formed women.  It didn't make a difference if I was able to be with them or Tyra Banks. Who was hot or not became a topic of conversation amongst the boys starting at 10 years old.  I already had my first two crushes by then.  A Filipina and a Korean girl.  They reminded me of the hit song by Ace of Base, "The Sign." 

Around me, some of the boys were even more knowledgeable about females, their anatomy in a way more advanced than I was. One of the boys proudly admitted that "Showgirls" was his favorite movie, which shocked the teacher, but not really me, because I had no idea what that was.  Another talked about how he wanted to do something pretty lude to a computer teacher, which made me wonder what he was talking about.  That was 5th grade.  I don't think I was an angel, I simply didn't know what the heck these kids were talking about, at the time.

I also remember how friends and closeness shifted as the years went by.  Throughout my time at the school, anyone who liked basketball was someone I grew close to --- that also happened to be a lot of the Filipino-American kids.  My dad was unique early on in schooling in that we were relatively close to a few of the black families in my grade.  As the years came, some parents also gravitated towards my parents and vice versa, mostly the Filipino immigrant parents, which happened later.  I already was brought there because my g-sis, 2 years older than me, had been enrolled and also came to crushing on her friends, this group of attractive Filipina girls who each seemed out of my league.  I did outside activities with other kids which centered first around karate, then Filipino folk dancing, then basketball, and then theater drama. 

I do remember that we created outcasts.  There was never any overt reason why we created outcasts, but it probably had to do with a combination, "cooties" or some kind of irrational fear of "contamination", which is something of an embedded statement about class, and weakness.  A few of my friends were instigators against these outcasts:  they would laugh them off, trip them up, I guess it looked a lot like bullying.  With my friends as aggressors, I never looked at it as that, but upon reflection it probably was.  

I was never big enough to bully anyone, but I do remember occasionally partaking in the teasing of certain kids for questionable non-reasons.  Some of it was "just because."  Some of it was because I really thought some people were gross or disgusting;  actually having a running conversation with some people, one tall Mexican girl in particular, seemed really disgusting to me, and I feel awful upon reflection.  But they probably didn't take me that seriously cause I was like 4'8 and known for farting all the time at least throughout 7th grade.  Irony is that I'm married to a pretty tall Mexican girl now, so...(God's way of getting back at me?)

When I think back critically about how my views have changed, there are things that make me wonder about how much has changed within student culture.  The rumors of having a lesbian principal.  Usage of the word "gay" to describe things that were "stupid."  Parents complaining about fundraising for air conditioning which never came in my 8 years.  Wanting and having the few Filipino teachers that were at the school.  Having almost a majority Filipino-American school and then transitioning into a majority white American high school where Filipinos existed but were not the dominant group.

Now as a 30-year old with a wife teaching at a Catholic school, a lot of my memories have been triggered, and myself making a foray into education, and I wonder about the current-day functionings:  is enrollment falling as it is across the board in Catholic schools?  How do they integrate technology into the classroom?  What immaturities are the kids running with now?  Do they finally have air conditioning?  Is the school still something of a pipeline to my ever-popular high school?

Unpacking more later.

LA Magazine's Description of a Disneyland Map from 1968 Is Disappointing

In the above link you will see a map of old Disneyland which looks a lot like Disneyland as it was when I last took a visiting cousin in June of this year.  The basic sections of the park are there with the exception of ToonTown.

The author doesn't go as in-depth as I expected, except to name a few things from the bygone era.  What's interesting is the sponsorship of attractions by major corporations including good ole Monsanto, Kodak, General Electric, Carnation.  Nowadays, I can't think of any other particular brand within the park other than Disney.  What would have been interesting would be side-by-side comparisons of different attractions and locations.

I wonder about the mundane things that make up the experience at Disneyland:  how long were the lines?  How were they managed?  What were the prices relative to now?  What was the surrounding geography prior to building the extra resort areas?

I also wonder what Disney was like before all the relatively recent cinematic successes of the Disney princesses and cartoons.  What was the electrical parade like?   

This would have been a whatever type piece that I wouldn't have thought about much again, if there wasn't one part of this blog that is banal and perhaps under the radar for 99.9% of the population, but irked me a little maybe because the writer used a phrase that I disliked when I don't think it's necessary.

It was use of the adjectival phrase, "politically incorrect."
There are some comically dated attractions: the now politically incorrect “unfriendly Indians” who burned settlers cabins - See more at:
There are some comically outdated attractions:  the now politically incorrect "unfriendly Indians" who burned settler cabins.
There are some comically dated attractions: the now politically incorrect “unfriendly Indians” who burned settlers cabins - See more at:
Ask yourself, would the phrase have been OK if the writer simply wrote this?

There are some comically outdated attractions:  the "unfriendly Indians" who burned settler cabins.
To me it would've been fine, he could've done without that "now politically incorrect."

I almost categorically dislike writing that includes that phrase, "politically incorrect" because it tends to signal a writer who appears to quietly show disdain for what they perceive as a more diverse, inclusive status quo.  It's like a quiet clamoring for the exclusive "good ol days."  I'm not going to try to guess the writer's intention, but in my experience, it's usually not a good sign.

The idea of "politically correctness" rests on the idea that some "truth" is not being spoken and/or is being censured/hidden because the person/entity (Disney) speaking does not want to offend people. It is as if the writer was saying that Disney was speaking some 'truth' by having this "unfriendly Indian burning cabins" show/exhibit, Disney made a reactionary decision to cancel it, and have been prevented from doing this only because some customers got mad and started crying to put it crudely. 

Maybe that is exactly what happened, but as a part fan of the general stuff that Disney puts out, I'd also like to think that the internal decisionmakers of Disney itself became more diverse, aware, and more inclusive and sought to do away with the exhibition "organically."

Observations of Truckers from a Truck Stop in Tulare County

Recently, I was sent out to survey truck drivers for 5 days in Tulare at a diesel station for trucks.

Before the project began, the only reason I knew Tulare is because my sister's first-year college roommate was from Tulare.

I had no idea what Tulare was about, only that along Route 99 it was above Bakersfield, and below Fresno(yes). 

After these 5 days, I can say that I've gained a better appreciation of the area and the (changing) demographic of truckers.

I'm a(n) (almost) life-long Angeleno, buried in the city, where almost any object is readily available if you just have the money.  I've come to appreciate and "re-visibilize" truck drivers as a necessary part of the economic and social infrastructure.  I think having been in a city and urbanized towns for my entire life, I have been exposed to lots of demographics and lots of people, which is good, but I feel like I know them only superficially, and fill in the rest of my information about them with my imagination.

That said, here are a few things as an Angeleno that I observed about truckers through either observation or conversation:
  • The popular image of a trucker is probably a single white male, which definitely exists, but I met with my share of black, Latino, Asian, Indian Sikh, men and women, mid 20s - mid 50s
  • I saw bits and pieces of inter-racial solidarity:  a guy with a white redneck T-shirt buddy buddying with some other black uh blackneck buddy, another time where a white guy just walked up and saw his old black buddy in the truck and simply started jabbing with him
  • I did see moments of inter-racial tension:  a white guy that I had interviewed 10 or 20 minutes before had become impatient with a truck that was parked in front of him.  The truck in front of him was driven by a black man.  The white guy got increasingly frustrated and started honking.  Then he got out of his truck and walked yelling at the black guy.  At some point, I remember him yelling "N*** think they own the world" and continued honking before ultimately deciding to back up from his diesel station and making his way out.
  • Another moment was of this inter-racial tension was during an informal conversation that I had with a trucker from the Mid-West whom I had previously interviewed.  He pointed out the Indian Sikhs and talked about how they in particular were driving rates down.  A few Sikhs drive in pairs or more, which is a better deal for a distributor than him alone.  He lamented that they also tended not to spend money within the US and would send that money home.
  • Many of these truckers were open to my interviews;  I conducted about 130.  Some loved talking to me, others thought I was in their way.  Some probably legitimately had to get somewhere, others just wanted me gone.  Some got increasingly suspsicious of the survey, some warmed up as we went along.
  • Most seem to be proud of having driven everywhere
  • A lot of the white truckers do hold conservative views, which is not really a shocker:  One California trucker made a comment about high-speed rail taking away from resources such as addressing the water crisis.
  • A lot of white truckers from the East seem to dislike California, making comments about everything from the speed limits (which is apparently 80 in Florida), to the water crisis
  • Some do reminisce on when they was more to pick up and deliver in the Central Valley.