Thursday, February 09, 2012

Parking meters in Old Pasadena

This article on how the history of parking policy has influenced the built environment in Los Angeles is fascinating. Intriguingly, it tells the story of the parking meters in Old Pasadena, with which I had a run in in 2007. Apparently I was caught by famous parking meters that have much aided city cohesion and promoted urban charm. Certainly I was completely unaware that Old Pasadena had been a rough neighbourhood only a few years previously. When I visited, I thought it was very nice.

It is interesting, though, that a lengthy, in depth article on the subject chooses to use as a particular example something that I encountered in person, and which affected me enough to make me blog about it at the time.

Of course, what annoyed me in 2007 was not that I had to pay for parking - I put money in the meter - but the incredible efficiency of the enforcement. I received a parking ticket even though I returned to my car no more than two minutes after the meter expired. If I was a resident of Pasadena and visited regularly and was aware of hyper-efficient parking enforcement, I would not doubt have got back to my car two minutes earlier, or put slightly more money in the meter to start with. This one happens when one travels. You don't always understand local norms, and you can sometimes get in trouble due to it.

Friday, February 03, 2012

They are still doing it after all this time.

An old complaint, but I live in the UK and most of my family live in Australia. In such circumstances, the DVD is the perfect gift for birthdays and Christmases and such. It is inexpensive, lightweight and easily mailed, and provides you with an opportunity to give a thoughtful gift if you understand the tastes of the recipient.

That the movie industry (with its stupid region coding) actually tried (and tries, to some extent) to stop me from doing this, just boggles the mind. Seriously, this is an industry that is too dumb to live. (I make no comment on the morality of anything, merely on their dumbness).

Monday, January 30, 2012


Last week, I was in a car, being driven south along the Israeli coast, from the Lebanese border in the direction of Acre. We were of course driving south, but my mind kept telling me we were driving north.

The reason for this is because the coast I have done the most driving on is the east coast of Australia, and when you are driving with that coast on your right, you are going north.

However, there is more to it than that. The water looked similar to what you find off Australia. I am used to the Mediterranean having tiny little waves, if any, but there are some quite decent waves hitting the Levant in winter. There appears to be a bit of an Israeli surf culture, to. (Wherever there is a surf culture, there will be Australians around, too. One of the charms of the slightly storied but twee French resort of Biarritz is to turn a corner and find an Australian surf shop / cafe that could just about be in my home town of Wollongong). There are rock platforms in the water of the Levant, too, some of which have rock swimming pools cut out of them in a way that is also common in Australia. And there are eucalyptus trees - native to Australia - on the shore. (Oddly enough, possibly the first time I ever heard of the state of Israel as a child was when I was told that native Australian eucalyptus trees had been introduced to the relatively barren land of Israel, where they had grown well in a similarly harsh climate to that of Australia).

So it felt like the Australian east coast. However, that still wasn't it. I have driven along other coasts in the past without the unutterable sense that I was driving in the opposite direction from the one I was. After a moment, though, I figured it out. The issue was the sun, which was over the sea in a south-westerly direction from me. In the northern hemisphere, the sun is in the south, and in the southern hemisphere the sun is in the north. So the sun in the afternoon driving south in Israel was at a very similar angle to the sun in the morning driving north in Australia. And a check just now tells me that Sydney is at a latitude of 34 degrees south, whereas Haifa is at 33 degrees north. So exactly the same angle. Interesting.

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