I love L.A. Well mostly Pasadena, and nearby places like Sierra Madre, tucked up close to the lovely San Gabriel Mountains that you now can actually see in the winter and sometimes even in other seasons. I lived in and around Pasadena from late 1979 to 1987 when the smog was so bad, the nearby San Gabriels were usually hidden by an acidic white haze. California has done a pretty good job of limiting the growth of air pollution by cars and factories since then, even as the human and car population has mushroomed. Today it was so clear and warm as we walked a few blocks to eat sushi for lunch, I wondered why I ever left. Massachusetts has its charms too, I suppose. But in winter, not so much.
In Sierra Madre, a small bar had a Belgian beer festival tonight, and with a group of friends from work, I enjoyed some glasses of an exuberantly flavorful and sweet beer called Delirium Tremens. Upon regaining my senses enough to safely drive my rental car toward the hotel, I came upon a favorite bookstore, Vroman's (I notice that Vroman's now proclaims that it has a MySpace page, making me wonder if the cool phase of MySpace might have passed me by - not that Vroman's isn't cool, but who wants to be friends with a bookstore?).
One thing you can count on with Vroman's: bargain books that they don't usually have at Borders or B&N. And tonight serendipity hit me hard, even though I have to pack all the silly things in my poor suitcase for the flight to Boston in about eleven hours. But I'm still happy with my haul of $4 and $5 specials. The Action Hero's Handbook. Introducing Einstein (a cartoon version). The Naked Cartoonist. Pioneers of Flight (a paper airplane book). Einstein's Unfinished Symphony (about gravity waves). 50 Facts That Should Change The World (they really should). Life: The Odds (873:1 they won't). And Astro Turf, a personal memoir that also tells the story of JPL.
Now I must pack, sleep, and dream of a free first-class LAX-BOS upgrade (which thanks to the wonders of the web and 24 hour planning, I've already confirmed, and even printed my own boarding pass). Sometimes things just work out.