Oh...I've crossed a line

I told my dad that I didn't have time to talk to him tonight because I want to watch Paris Hilton on Larry King live.

Carts! Carts! Every Downtowner needs one

I'm not talking about the grocery cart, I'm talking about the card you need to get your laundry to and from your apartment, your groceries home from the store, while you are picking pop cans out of the trash.

I have a cart. It was given to Alex and I when we moved into Santee Court. After three years of rugged abuse (I used it to move a microwave from Santee Court to the PE Building, waaaaaaaaaay overweight, and I didn't think it would make it), it's about to retire. Knowing how I am with my stuff, it's likely to be around for another 9 or 10 years.

When my cart and I are out and about, at least one person asks me - where did I get my cart. I feel bad because it was just given to me, and I can't share my joy in carting with anyone, outside of telling them, "back off, this is mine, and don't think I just leave this sitting around in the laundry room!" Errr, I mean - you can get one at Ralphs.

But, nooooooow I am in a position where I need to do some cart shopping, preparing for the inevitable cart breakage. So, because I have a wild and crazy audience (maybe one or two people a day, if I'm not quitting my job or running for office), I wanted to share my results with you!

Just your plain old cart from Target:

$29.99, online
Nothing too fancy here.

Looking a little more sturdy, and the possibility of accessories:

$39.99, without liner, online
$44.98, with the removable liner (for those who don't want to show their unmentionables...I promise, no judging)

Then, OMG - we hit GOLD people!
Without a doubt shopping carts make transporting groceries from a car or bus to your home a whole lot easier. They're also great for hauling loads of laundry to the laundry room or launderette. Unfortunately most have trouble getting up stairs or curbs, but not ours. It climbs so easily we've come to think of it as the mountain goat of shopping carts. Weighs a mere 11.7 lbs. and folds up to 9" deep to store in your trunk, hang on the wall, or tuck in your closet. Some assembly required.
This is what I want. Alex...can we break into our Las Vegas fund and buy this?

The Real Life View:

$39.95, and you can buy this online too.

So, don't steal the pretty carts from the Fairfax Farmers Market. For God's sake, don't think of stealing the carts from our (hopefully opening soon) Ralphs.

I'd just like to point out that I'm the oldest of four...

From the Los Angeles Times

Firstborns found to have higher intelligence

A study of 240,000 Norwegian men says eldest children have IQs 2 to 3 points greater than younger siblings'.
By Denise Gellene
Times Staff Writer

June 22, 2007

Wading into an age-old debate, researchers have found that firstborn children are smarter than their siblings — and the reason is not genetics, but the way their parents treat them, according to a study published today.

The study of 240,000 Norwegian men in the journal Science found the IQs of firstborns were 2 to 3 points higher than that of younger siblings. (The average IQ is 100.)

Though that may not sound like a lot, experts said even a few IQ points could make a big difference over the course of a lifetime — and set firstborns on a trajectory for success.

UC Berkeley researcher Frank J. Sulloway, who wrote a commentary accompanying the study, said 2 to 3 IQ points could translate to an added 20 to 30 points on an SAT college entrance exam.

"You go to a certain school, meet a famous professor, and the next thing you know, you've gone on to medical school, made a great discovery and won the Nobel Prize," said Sulloway, who writes about family dynamics and personality development.

The research is the latest twist in a phenomenon that scientists have long noticed but have been at a loss to explain.

Year after year, more Nobel Prizes go to firstborn scientists and authors. Firstborns garner more than their share of National Merit scholarships and fill American colleges in disproportionate numbers.

Theories for the so-called birth-order effect abound: genetics, family interactions or socioeconomic factors.

After years of research, there is no consensus on the effect — or that it even exists.

Eric Turkheimer, a University of Virginia researcher, said there are just too many variables that shape an individual.

"There are millions of tiny things to control for," he said. "I'm very skeptical of the possibility of getting this worked out in a systematic way."

Lead author Petter Kristensen, an epidemiologist at the University of Oslo — and a second-oldest son — said he did not believe in the "birth-order effect" when he started his research, which was originally aimed at assessing the validity of IQ tests.

His experience as a physician taught him that firstborns have lower birth weights and other health disadvantages. "In medical studies, nearly all the differences favor younger children," he said.

Making his research possible was a requirement ofthe Norwegian army that all conscripts undergo an IQ test. Kristensen looked at test results of all conscripts ages 18 to 19 between 1985 and 2004.

His analysis found that firstborns had an average IQ of 103.2, about 2 points higher than second-born males and about 3 points higher than men born third.

With these results in hand, Kristensen then pursued a deeper question: What was the cause of this disparity?

Using the same data, he looked at second- and third-born men who became the eldest in their families due to the death of one or two older siblings.

He found that those men had IQs close to that of firstborns, with second-born men at 102.9 and third-borns at 102.6.

The findings suggested that the mechanism behind the birth-order effect is not biological but related to social interactions within families.

He surmised that older children are showered with attention early in life and treated as leaders in the family. They are handed more responsibility after younger siblings are born and live with higher expectations from their parents.

The results supported findings from an earlier study, published in February by the journal Intelligence.

That study found the largest IQ gaps occurred in families that were relatively affluent or had well-educated mothers. The researchers were uncertain why these factors played a role.

Spacing between births also was a factor, Kristensen said. Children born less than a year apart had the greatest IQ gaps. Differences in IQ scores diminished when there were more than five years between the first and second child, he said.

Understanding the determinants of IQ has important social implications, said William T. Dickens, an economist at the Brookings Institution who studies the relationships among IQ, race and income.

A margin of five IQ points represents one-third of the wage gap between white and black Americans, he said. Identifying the factors that affect IQ could lead to ways to correct social inequities, he said.

"Raising minority children by 5 IQ points would have a huge impact on their lives. There would be a notable increase in the average income and a decrease in dropping out of schools. It would mean a lot," he said.

Some researchers remain unconvinced of a birth-order effect.

Joseph Lee Rodgers, a psychology professor at the University of Oklahoma, said results of the two Norwegian studies contradicted findings of smaller but similar studies conducted in the U.S., where different cultural factors might come into play.

"The bottom line is: These studies are not ultimately convincing until we can reconcile them with other studies," he said.

Still, Rodgers said, the Norwegian studies "raise a fascinating question."

Kristensen said it was clear the results don't apply to all families and the odds of the first child being smarter are not overwhelming.

Among brothers with unequal IQ scores, there was a 56.7% probability that the oldest brother would score higher, he said.

Sulloway also cautioned against defining firstborns as winners and everyone else as losers.

The author of "Born to Rebel," a 1996 book examining birth order, he said younger siblings develop talents and abilities not demonstrated by older siblings.

Revolutionary thinkers, such as Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton, had older siblings, he said.



I'm sure it's waaaaay better than Nascar

Metro Rail Maintainers Win at International Rail Rodeo

Metro’s team of rail equipment maintenance specialists took first place, June 2, in the maintainers competition at the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) International Rail Rodeo in Toronto. Metro came in third in the combined team score.

Eric Czintos, Ronnie Burt and Toshimasa Manaka outpaced rail maintenance teams from San Francisco’s BART system and from the Denver Regional Transportation District to win the event. The Metro team placed second in this category in 2005 and 2006.

Metro’s rail operators -- Tu Phan and Robert Rodriguez -- placed seventh in the operator competition. The men have competed together and separately at previous international competitions, scoring wins for Metro in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Metro’s ranking in the International Rail Rodeo continues the agency’s winning record in competitions with the nation’s largest transit agencies. In May, the agency’s team won the Grand Champion Award at the APTA International Bus Roadeo in Nashville.

Acting Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Flowers congratulated the Metro Rail team on behalf of all employees. “We have the best maintenance team in both rail and bus in the nation,” she said.

A total of 20 of North America’s rail transit systems, with 36 operators and 53 maintainers, participated in the annual event. The International Rail Rodeo was held at the Toronto Transit Commission’s Greenwood Yard.

Willie Nelson said it best...

It's been a week now since I left my previous job @ eCivis. It's been a long, fun week. First off, people knew I was looking for a new position. There were certain things at the company I didn't really buy into, which made it difficult to enjoy the work. Second, I was having a tough time seeing where my skills were advancing, or would be advanced in the future. And, I have to say that at this point...it's been that way for a couple of years, and I have only myself to blame.

There's this part of me that just wants to spill the beans on why I left so abruptly. At the same time, it's not the way I want to work. No job is 100% perfect. And, I know that sometimes...sometimes...I may be hard to keep happy. I have high expectations, and I admit that I expect more from those around me than what I expect of myself. I also have to say, Chris presented me with a great offer, and I had to take it. I missed working for her, and I am excited to be back!

I will say I have missed talking with my previous clients. They know who they are. The Harley rider in Florida, The Moms in Virginia and Arizona, people who live "on Island", north of here, south of here...on and on and on.

This I will say, and I've said it in interviews. I love the bureaucracy...the local governments and the people who make that whole thing work. My favorite part of the job was to hear people talk about how frustrating their job was because they had four million tasks on their desks, budgets to complete, forms required, and then to hear them say "and, now I have to do this grants thing? Ah, coooooooooome on!"

The clear majority of the people out there who make those cities run, work their butts off. For most of them, they will never be recognized for the work they do above and beyond. Most will be presented with eye rolls when they say "I work for the City of...", knowing the preconception that follows.

So, for those who don't know the joy of procurement forms, budget meetings, and the endless chatter of "The council told us to do more with much less"...take a moment and thank your management analyst, budget directors, administrative support, grant coordinators, and senior principal analysts. They make your city run much more smoothly, when compared to what you would do to it.

In closing, I'm going to a Dodger game tonight, and I'll be thinking about all the grant writiers, coordinators, and terrified workerbees I've left behind.

Oh...and Ricky's last day was today.

Art Walk Gets Wheels

Art Walk Gets Wheels
News Brief

A proposal to extend DASH bus service to Gallery Row during Downtown's
monthly Art Walk was approved last week by City Council. The first Art
Walk DASH will run during the June 14 event. The service will be
entirely funded by the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council,
which drew up the proposal. Council approval was needed to allow First
Transit Inc., which operates the DASH lines in Downtown, to invoice
DLANC directly. The free service will run from 7 to 10 p.m. every
second Thursday of the month and cover the blocks bounded by Second,
Ninth, Spring and Main streets.

page 2, 6/4/2007
� Los Angeles Downtown News

Witnesses say four officers in downtown L.A. beat a homeless woman who was resisting arrest

LAPD arrest leads to investigation
Witnesses say four officers in downtown L.A. beat a homeless woman who was resisting arrest.
By Tami Abdollah, Times Staff Writer
June 7, 2007

Los Angeles police said Wednesday that they were investigating allegations that four officers beat and pepper-sprayed a downtown homeless woman before tying her arms and legs after she resisted their attempts to subdue her.

Faith Hernandez, 34, who was wanted on a felony narcotics warrant, was approached by several officers about 1 p.m. Sunday because she was in an "illegal" cardboard structure near Gladys Avenue and 6th Street, said Capt. Andrew Smith of the Los Angeles Police Department's Central Division.

"One of our officers approached her, told her she was being detained for that investigation and she immediately took off running," Smith said. "She punched one bicycle officer in the head as he was trying to detain her, and then she kicked several officers. She also spit on several officers, and she attempted to stab the officers that were trying to detain her with an ink pen."

The officers hit her legs with a small police baton, kicked her once and used pepper spray, Smith said.

Four officers — three men and a woman — were involved, he said.

Hernandez, who was charged Tuesday with assaulting a police officer with a deadly weapon, remains in custody in lieu of $75,000 bail. She sustained a half-inch cut to her forehead, Smith said.

Pete White, co-director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, a watchdog group that monitors the LAPD, said witnesses described the woman as mentally disabled and weighing 90 to 100 pounds. He said the officers startled her by yelling "Hey" and then used excessive force when she ran.

White said several people in Gladys Park witnessed the incident, which lasted about eight minutes. He said they protested by sitting in the street and called his office to complain.

O.C. Hasson, 60, who lives on 6th Street, said that from his bathroom window he saw the woman running away.

"They threw her down, she tried to get back up, and they threw her back down. And when she tried to get back up again they started hitting her," Hasson said. "They allowed her to get up after that, and let her go almost across the street, as if they knew she couldn't get away. And then one of the officers took his foot and tripped her on the ground, and they dragged her a little bit, and they were still beating her."

Hasson said he had seen police harass downtown homeless people in recent months, but nothing like this.

"It's the worst thing that I've experienced," he said, "the worst thing I've ever seen."

White said none of the LAPD's public-safety video cameras in the area provided useable images of the incident, but that the LAPD would review any video from the public.

"I'm hoping a video will surface," Smith said. "We'd love to see a video of this because we think it'd indicate exactly what our officers did" was exaggerated by witnesses.