California Drought: I Am Honestly Confused about My Water Bill

The drought has become extremely severe, so I've heard from the local news and from social media.

According to a Jet Propulsion Laboratory guy, we have only one year of reserve supply left and will be digging hard at underground water.

I understand the drought at a superficial level.

We've heard about the drought for years.  When there isn't an accident or amber alert, the flashing electronic signs on California highways mention the fact that we are in a "serious drought" and that we must "help save water."

I get that we have a finite amount of resources.

I get that we need lots of rain for several years to get back to "normal."

However, I don't think I completely understand the entire picture of our water supply.

The number one thing I am confused about (and hope not to alert my water company is):  my water bill is still around $30-$40 for a single-family home with three people.

That's awesome for my income and allows me to keep on going as I am.

I get that I am not a heavy commercial water user (like say, a golf course owner) and so my prices might not that be high anyway.

But if we really are in a very dire situation why are the water prices I pay not skyrocketing as well?  Or is that just lurking around the corner?  I know that water restrictions are along the way.  

I do want to keep paying what I am paying, but I also am curious as to how this is happening.  Supply is apparently low, demand is probably high, but prices remain low?  What am I missing here?

I mean, I hope the low prices continue, but can anyone actually explain?

Now, Where to Bike for My Edamame?

Welp, I talked trash about the Fresh N' Easy here in Compton when I first got here, wishing instead for a Trader Joe's.
  Probably the same odds as the Chicago Bulls getting the first pick in the 2008 NBA Draft which was 1.7%, which is to say, probably not a good chance.

Now it looks like the Fresh N' Easy chain is closing up a bunch of shops across the Southland.  Kinda sad, as is any failure, but hopefully something better awaits.

The most notable things for me about the particular Central and Rosecrans Fresh N' Easy were that: 1)  it was completely all self-check-out and 2)  recently found that it was the only place to get edamame.

I don't know where unless I go outside of city limits to Gardena (for the Albertson's on Artesia, which I'm not completely sure has edamame) and/or Torrance (Trader Joe's).

Other than that, I did not find the selection that remarkable or radically different than what I could find across the street at Food4Less.  I did not find that food was "fresh", as it appeared that a lot of the food came in packages.  The fruit and vegetable section was not especially large --- it was just one other aisle on the south side of the store in addition to its numerous aisles.

Judging from the physical junk mail I get, the alternatives to getting Fresh Food are the aforementioned Food4Less, Ralph's, Superior, Payless Foods.  I have no idea where people actually do groceries, though that would be an interesting survey.

The main takeaway for me is now that I know for sure that I have to DRIVE to get my edamame.

What It Means to Have People Buzz Over Some Filipino Guy Being the Center of Mainstream Media Attention

You feel that you kinda "fit in."  That you're the "in thing" at least for one hot night. 

Manny Pacquiao is 1/2 of what is expected to be the the "richest fight" in history, though he's only going to get 40% of the purse when he finally fights Floyd Mayweather on May 2. 

I've written about the "meaning" of Manny Pacquiao.

After a childhood of looking to black Americans in the media as a rough model for "how to be" (something heavily referenced on the new ABC show Fresh Off the Boat), it has been thoroughly vindicating seeing someone who looks like he might be someone you actually know be a center of mainstream media attention.  It's one thing that he's one of us AND talented, it's another thing that he's one of us, talented, AND acknowledged by mainstream media.

For Filipinos, he's been everything.  Every night that Manny has had a fight since around 2004 has been a rallying/gathering point for many Filipino-Filipino-Americans all across our diaspora.  His fights have been their own holiday/reason enough for a party, regardless of religion, political views, etc. 

I've watched his fights at friends' family's houses, friends of friends houses, streamed it online, etc.  I've monitored Facebook and social media after those fights.  I've seen the gamut of reactions from a gamut of people, young, old, big, small.  I've seen friends and aunties get almost cocky and boasty after Pacquiao's delivered a knockout blow.  I've seen the exhultations, exhilerations, and failures. 

He hasn't lost much, but the last one he did to Juan Manuel Marquez, some aunties were actually crying at the fact that he got knocked out. I myself delivered my own expletive-filled and borderline reactionary racist rant after the fight, with Mexican friends and Mexican wife around.  I'm glad that no one was uploaded any video of that reaction.

If it weren't for his vicious left hook, Manny "looks" like he could be the one of the drunk uncles kicking back at a family party.  He could be the Filipino guy with his family you see at church (if only he was Catholic).  I can tell you that unless you were the relatives of Ernie Reyes Jr. or Dante Basco, you'd probably never felt as related to someone in the media as you have Manny Pacquiao.

He's a figure who "feels" close to everywhere I go, everything I regularly do as a Filipino or Filipino-American residing in Los Angeles.  He "feels" like someone who is where I am, does what I do, and is still recognized for one thing he does pretty well.

Seeing him be a big figure in general feels like a big accomplishment than itself.  I personally feel that race and ethnicity don't even matter (even though this is why he has such a following.)  What I mean by this is that race and ethnicity don't matter in that he gets the mainstream media attention just like an attractive white lady can get the mainstream media attention, albeit I'd hazard that he worked harder than the average attractive white lady to get that attention.

The shelf life for any superstar athlete in the media is somewhat fleeting (though less so in the age of social media), and Manny has managed to keep the steam building for almost 10 years now.  I was amazed that Paris Hilton knew who he was.  Then came the praise from other pop figures from Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, and well, even Beyonce herself.  The idea that he is known and acknowledged make us also feel known and acknowledged.

Cell Phone Zones in the Library?

About 90% of the time I'm at a library, I bring a laptop.  In fact I typed the bulk of this blog from a library right, the El Toro Library in Lake Forest.

Usually libraries have only a few "spaces" for laptops.  Spaces meaning "desk space" and a "power outlet."

To a library with which I am not acquainted or a busy library, it usually takes anywhere from a minute to 3 minutes to find a suitable place to settle at a space. It usually takes about a minute to unload the stuff.  The computer if not on standby takes another minute to unload.  That's about anywhere from 3 minutes to 6 minutes to settle down. 

The thing that messes up/threatens that settled downness? 

A phone call from work, which I frequently get when in a library.  Matter of fact, the library staff just told me to take the call outside, and I was on the phone for less than a minute.

A phone call from work is not usually a big deal in most contexts, but traditionally the public library has been the space of enforced "quietness."

A phone call from work means I have to do one of three things:  A)  talk really really low (my preferred option)  B)  go to a place outside and talk, while leaving my laptop at the space.  C)  pack up and leave and then go outside and talk. 

If I get clear-cut options, I usually opt for option A if I don't have anywhere to go immediately and want to remain in the library.  Option B, I'll take if it's clear that my talking would really disrupt the quietness.  Option C, I'll do if it's time for me to leave anyway.

However there are times when I'm combining option A and B, and it's just kind of frantic.  I am thinking specifically of the Santa Monica main library and the County of LA Library in West Hollywood, where in both modern, spacious libraries, I was trying to do option B, but found myself doing option A while trying to keep eyes on my laptop and backpack.  I mean, I don't think people would steal, but I'd rather not have taken any chance on a $1,300 laptop.

I think a few solutions would be:  a) some kind of cell phone zone/room located in an area with full visibility of my stuff.  This means altering the layout of libraries so that there isn't so much stuff in the way.  b) having a soundproof room with surveillance cameras (not a fan of this but...) c)  if the library is large enough, having one zone that is not rigorously subject to the expectation of silence/quiet.

Being a Gentrifier in a Neighborhood with a Generational Gang?

The article (20 Ways Not to be a Gentrifier) struck a few nerves.  I mean I agree and disagree with the sentiments, but I think the disagreements are worth noting.

Danette Lambert, the writer, argues that it isn't necessarily moving into the neighborhood that 'makes' you a 'gentrifier', it's what you do, which includes "ignoring the tastes and culture of the people living there.'

First off, I think labeling anyone a 'gentrifier' is always going to be destructive and divisive.  I don't think anyone takes kindly to being labeled something negative.  It's an advocacy article intended for an audience the writer doesn't write for, but actually written for and in the language of the writer's advocacy circle, framed as an 'objective' "how-to" article. 

That said, I think I agree with the intention of the article which is to promote more behavior that builds community within a community.  However, I don't think I'd take as much of a "do-this and this and this" patronizing type tone.

Aside from the patronizing tone, I don't know to what degree the advice is effective in all neighborhoods.  I think that the advice from Lambert's article might work for a place already in full gentrification mode ala Highland Park, but I'm not sure if it works for a street with a gang on it. 

As a middle-class raised person raised with an Anthropological lens, I fully agree that I shouldn't "ignore the tastes and culture of the people living there." I say hi to my next door neighbors, but saying that to anyone around the block sometimes yields a funny look.

The underlying issue is that there appears to be some real distrust here.  Not only are the tags being kept alive by people, but every house still has a gate, and more often than not you'll find a big hulking pitbull to bark your ear off. 

My next door neighbor has a fortress for a garage gate, which they open every morning before work and close every night after work.  The only thing we know is that they throw some big parties in that fortress there, but they don't seem like a gang, though we can't be 100% sure.

I pointed out to my wife that I never see when people do their groceries, she said that people do their groceries at night so that no one sees what they have.

I feel like every house is their own little tribe.

Despite the distrust that appears to be apparent, I do recognize my neighbors as people.  I do think I like to see the optimistic side of my neighbors.

I'm pretty cool with life here on the block, however, the existence of gang tagging and looming threat of violence hints at another question addressed towards, what to do about a gang culture that appears to be a part of the social fabric of your neighborhood?

I mean I would like to re-organize the enthusiasm gang members have for their gangs into something else. But it seems like any real solution will take some real work and time that would involve people wanting to change themselves rather than attempting to force a change.