Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Notes from Los Angeles

After the whole move and everything, I totally forgot about my pitstops in Los Angeles. The photos below include works from LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), The Broad, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, and Little Saigon in Westminster.


Moved to the Suburban Jungle

For those of you who have not been following my Twitter feed, I have recently moved from San Diego to the San Francisco Bay Area. I had been doing some intensive job searching the past six months or so–primarily because I knew that I really needed to get out of academia. I’m sure I could have done okay in it if I were in the right environment and working with the right people, but that’s really hard to find. Besides, I was really tired of the long hours, getting paid peanuts, and the unrealistic expectations which I’ve seen driven more than one person crazy.

To be honest, I was mostly tired of getting paid peanuts. I know my worth. And for the amount of skilled work I do–which is in the service of science and the betterment of human health–I knew I shouldn’t be paid less than some secretary who occasionally fiddled around with spreadsheets on a bad day. So I decided to go to the “dark side”, a.k.a. industry. I mean, sure, it’s not completely altruistic and as I’m finding out, there are other sorts of challenges I have to face. But at least now, I’m not employed by people who are deathly allergic to weekends and I’m getting paid enough to cover my rent and maybe have some savings left over.

Anyways, work at the new place is interesting so far. I probably will say very little about it (if any) seeing that I’m in R&D and have signed all these confidentiality forms. So I guess I’ll just leave it as an exercise to the reader to imagine what I’m doing.

Moving is always an interesting proposition. For most of my adult life, I have either lived out in the middle of nowhere or in cities. I swore that I would never go back to suburbia. Yet here I am, in suburbia. And yes, in some aspects, it’s as horrifying as one might imagine it to be. I lived in the suburbs while I was growing up, and I really did not like the upwardly mobile snootiness that went with it. Mostly because I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I still feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. Not because of how I look or dress–as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to camouflage myself better–but my way of looking at things. The advantage now, of course, is that I’m not as stuck in suburbia as I was when I was a kid without a driver’s license and no access to public transportation. I can easily go into the city without much trouble or even drive into the wilderness (with a little bit of planning) if I wanted to.

To be fair, though, not all suburbs are quite the same. Here, there’s an added layer of the tech world to contend with–the assumption that if you’re going to fit in, you’re going to have to show off your smarts, ambition, and newly acquired bling. You go to some place like Target in order to get toilet paper and laundry detergent and you find soccer moms on every aisle, chatting to people about their high-powered jobs at some startup while juggling their kids’ extracurriculars.

I mean, of course I want to do well career-wise. But I don’t particularly want my ambition to bleed into every other aspect of my life. I guess that’s where the philosophies of the average suburbanite and mine diverge. I don’t want my life choices to be driven by the need for status or succeeding in the yuppie rat race. I just want to avoid the bullshit and do whatever I find that’s both practical and fun.

(I’m also trying to aim for minimalism which is the complete opposite of the obsession with stuff people around here seem to have, but that’s a topic for another blog post…)

NaNoWordSprints Prompts for April 2017

Oops, I’m late. But I have a very good reason! I’ve been in the middle of moving in the last part of April. But finally here they are: the @NaNoWordSprints prompts that I tweeted out during April. Have fun if you decide to use them on your own!

* * *

March 31, 2017, 4:00pm-6:00pm (UTC-8)
Parts of First Lines

  • It was a bright cold day in April (15 min)
  • It was the best of times, it was the worst of times (20 min)
  • It was a wrong number that started it (30 min)

March 31, 2017, 11:00pm-2:00am (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 1)

  • Before it happens (10 min)
  • He went about humiliating them (20 min)
  • Last of the true romantics (10 min)
  • Crystal clear results (15 min)
  • Wasn’t a total bust (20 min)
  • Well, this won’t last long (10 min)
  • The good old days (30 min)
  • An out-of-this-world deal (20 min)

April 1, 2017, 1:30pm-2:30pm (UTC-8)
Plot Bunny Infomercial

  • Something hilarious and eye opening (10 min)
  • Something sinister happens in some very old archives (20 min)
  • This kiss of death (5 min)

April 1, 2017, 8:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 2)

  • I’m still digging (10 min)
  • Been around awhile (20 min)
  • Go over the edge (30 min)
  • The packing peanuts are much better (10 min)
  • Chaotic, irrational, raucous (20 min)

April 2, 2017, 9:00am-12:00pm (UTC-8)
Art at Lestat’s

  • Wake up and die (10 min)
  • Up in the air (20 min)
  • Apocalypse (30 min)
  • Burning leaf (10 min)
  • Floundering (20 min)
  • Unlikely romance (30 min)
  • An unexpected gift (10 min)
  • Unconvincing disguise (10 min)

April 2, 2017, 5:00pm-8:00pm (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 3)

  • Feeling morally superior (10 min)
  • Covered in shattered glass (20 min)
  • A combination of openness and secrecy (30 min)
  • Believed to be dangerous or potentially violent (10 min)
  • Find a loophole (15 min)
  • Keeping your friends close and your enemies closer (30 min)
  • There’s just something about this place that turns people into monsters (20 min)

April 3, 2017, 8:00am-10:00am (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 4)

  • Draw the line (20 min)
  • Tell them exactly how you feel (30 min)
  • The swirling vortex (10 min)
  • Hero in jogging pants (20 min)
  • The next big thing (5 min)

April 3, 2017, 1:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Postcard Prompts 

  • Tea house (10 min)
  • Promanade (20 min)
  • Polar bears/out of place (30 min)
  • Coast to cactus (10 min)
  • Village (20 min)
  • Under the spotlight (30 min)
  • Ancient times (20 min)

April 3, 2017, 8:00pm-2:00am (UTC-8)
Plug Your Ears…It’s Kpop!

  • Wake me up (10 min)
  • Mr. Ambiguous (20 min)
  • Very nice (30 min)
  • Mind your own business (10 min)
  • Please don’t (20 min)
  • Last goodbye (30 min)
  • Chase me (10 min)
  • Apology (20 min)
  • Broken doll (30 min)
  • Butterfly (10 min)
  • Don’t look at me like that (20 min)
  • The closer (30 min)
  • Windy day (10 min)
  • Jackpot (20 min)
  • Coup d’état (10 min)

April 4, 2017, 10:30am-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 5)

  • Mind-boggling (10 min)
  • A slightly better chance (20 min)
  • Bad news for the twins (30 min)
  • All it takes is vision and guts (10 min)
  • Can’t hold it back (20 min)
  • Something disturbing (30 min)
  • It’s always nice to be reminded what a horrible person some people think you are (10 min)
  • A recipe for disaster (20 min)
  • Pretty close to their limit (30 min)
  • Now they’ve done it (10 min)
  • For evil to triumph all that is necessary is for good men to do nothing (25 min)
  • Continue to have problems with it (10 min)
  • Cheap self-esteem boost (15 min)
  • Sorry to hear he died (20 min)

April 4, 2017, 8:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Disney Songs

  • A whole new world (10 min)
  • I see the light (20 min)
  • I won’t say I’m in love (30 min)
  • I’ll make a man out of you (10 min)
  • Something there (20 min)
  • Out there (30 min)
  • Zero to hero (10 min)
  • Let it go (20 min)
  • Poor unfortunate souls (30 min)
  • Friends on the other side (10 min)

April 5, 2017, 11:00pm-1:30am (UTC-8)
Madam Sprints (Part 1)

  • Strength (10 min)
  • Burden (20 min)
  • Secret plans, hidden dishonor, frustration and the possibility of failure (30 min)
  • A hard struggle (10 min)
  • Stubborn (20 min)
  • Emotional dejection, disappointment and sorrow over past events (30 min)

April 6, 2017, 9:15pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Madam Sprints (Part 2)

  • Initiative (10 min)
  • Surprise (20 min)
  • Advantage (30 min)
  • Mysterious appearance (10 min)
  • Attraction (20 min)
  • Not normal (30 min)

April 7, 2017, 8:30pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 6)

  • But it’s so small (10 min)
  • Now here’s a doozy of an ethical dilemma (20 min)
  • Just lighten up (30 min)
  • Hostage rescue (10 min)
  • Why do we assume that any part of what was captured was the truth? (20 min)
  • Your chance to come clean (30 min)
  • Some of them are selling information (10 min)
  • A noble experiment (20 min)
  • Separated at birth (15 min)

April 8, 2017, 10:00am-12:00pm (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 7)

  • Go there and take your chances (10 min)
  • Isn’t particularly secure (20 min)
  • During a storm (30 min)
  • More than meets the eye (10 min)
  • At least there’s hope somewhere (15 min)
  • Funny and interesting (5 min)

April 8, 2017, 6:30pm-8:30pm (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 8)

  • A slight overreaction (10 min)
  • No doubt has the talent (20 min)
  • A new, separate vulnerability (30 min)
  • Unclear on the concept (10 min)
  • Sometimes people are stupid (20 min)

April 9, 2017, 7:30am-10:00am (UTC-8)
Vampire Cafe Sprints

  • Burst into flame (10 min)
  • Bitey adversary (20 min)
  • Looking a little pale (30 min)
  • Bloodlust (10 min)
  • Garlic breath (20 min)
  • Mysterious happenings (30 min)

April 11, 2017, 7:00am-8:00am (UTC-8)

  • Decisions must be made (10 min)
  • A very high price (20 min)
  • The devil’s bargain (15 min)

April 11, 2017, 8:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 9)

  • Contradictory statements (10 min)
  • Well, it’s about time (20 min)
  • Save a lot of effort (30 min)
  • The most valuable property (10 min)
  • Turned up empty (20 min)
  • A dangerous ideal (30 min)
  • Paranoiac delusions (10 min)
  • That got him kicked off (20 min)
  • The last to know about it (30 min)
  • Fun and games (5 min)

April 12, 2017, 2:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Asian Art Museum

  • Cascade of letters (10 min)
  • The treasure wall (20 min)
  • Ensnared (30 min)
  • Freaking out (10 min)
  • Fish out of water (15 min)
  • Catching a ride (5 min)

April 12, 2017, 8:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 10)

  • Growing pains (10 min)
  • A charming personality (20 min)
  • Relentless navel gazing (30 min)
  • Crazy like a fox (10 min)
  • Throw them out (20 min)
  • Prepare to die (30 min)
  • House was burning down (10 min)
  • Another diatribe (20 min)
  • One of the great tragedies (30 min)
  • Delaying tactic (5 min)

April 13, 2017, 10:45pm-1:00am (UTC-8)

  • Stuck (10 min)
  • Stinky (20 min)
  • Getting caught (30 min)
  • Signs (10 min)
  • Loud music (20 min)
  • Rage (10 min)

April 14, 2017, 8:30am-12:30pm (UTC-8)
Soundtracks (Part 1)

  • Stardust (10 min)
  • The hollow (20 min)
  • A beautiful mind (30 min)
  • Pride and prejudice (10 min)
  • The king’s speech (20 min)
  • House of cards (30 min)
  • The crow (10 min)
  • Willow (20 min)
  • Hook (30 min)
  • Inception (5 min)

April 14, 2017, 4:30pm-6:30pm (UTC-8)
Meow Sprints

  • Seeing double (10 min)
  • Disguise (10 min)
  • Secret relationship (30 min)
  • Sniper (10 min)
  • Conquering snow (10 min)
  • Flying (20 min)

April 15, 2017, 9:20am-1:00pm (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 11)

  • And you thought you had a bad day (10 min)
  • Start a revolution (20 min)
  • The ultimate goal (30 min)
  • Refuse and risk death (10 min)
  • Done with wit and love (20 min)
  • Before it’s too late (30 min)
  • Some are just lucky (10 min)
  • A limited resource (20 min)
  • Masterminded the plot (20 min)

April 15, 2017, 2:30pm-5:30pm (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 12)

  • Make a difference (10 min)
  • What’s the catch? (20 min)
  • Vast wasteland (30 min)
  • Transfer control (10 min)
  • Do whatever it takes (20 min)
  • Potentially harmful effects (30 min)
  • Fallen through the crack (20 min)

April 16, 2017, 7:40am-11:00am (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 13)

  • Seen to be believed (10 min)
  • Highly respected (20 min)
  • The naughty ones (30 min)
  • We do this all the time (10 min)
  • A kick in the gut (20 min)
  • Broken the pledge (30 min)
  • Signal succumbs to noise (10 min)
  • Someone makes a complaint (15 min)
  • Fooling themselves (10 min)

April 16, 2017, 2:45pm-6:30pm (UTC-8)
Soundtracks (Part 2)

  • Glory (10 min)
  • Lady in the water (20 min)
  • Dances with wolves (30 min)
  • Legends of the fall (10 min)
  • Tomorrow never dies (20 min)
  • The terminal (30 min)
  • Far and away (10 min)
  • Dangerous beauty (20 min)
  • The missing (30 min)

April 17, 2017, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 14)

  • Get no respect (10 min)
  • Not yet available (20 min)
  • One of the best (30 min)
  • Definitely not the one (10 min)
  • Not terribly serious (20 min)
  • They’re giving up (30 min)
  • Too much to swallow (15 min)

April 18, 2017, 6:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 15)

  • The blunt truth (10 min)
  • To get kissed (20 min)
  • Considerable velocity (30 min)
  • No natural resistance (10 min)
  • Wish list (20 min)
  • A couple days late (30 min)
  • Once again lose faith (10 min)
  • Crash and burn (20 min)
  • Backing down (30 min)
  • Offer another gift (5 min)

April 19, 2017, 9:30pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 16)

  • Might implode (30 min)
  • Jumps the shark (30 min)
  • Keep coming back (30 min)
  • Everything within our power (30 min)

April 20, 2017, 11:15am-3:00pm (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 17)

  • The full spectrum (10 min)
  • Vintage photographs (20 min)
  • In the planning (30 min)
  • Prepared for the coming onslaught (10 min)
  • Free advice (20 min)
  • Angst ridden (30 min)
  • Unusual sensation (10 min)
  • And you thought your morning was bad (20 min)
  • The hard questions (30 min)

April 21, 2017, 1:00pm-3:00pm (UTC-8)
The Broad (Part 1)

  • I’m sorry (10 min)
  • You’re a very special person (20 min)
  • Like you, I despair (30 min)
  • Spray (10 min)
  • Birds (15 min)

April 21, 2017, 9:30pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
The Broad (Part 2)

  • Going up (10 min)
  • A traveler (20 min)
  • Dragon (30 min)
  • Funny faces (10 min)
  • Cooking (20 min)
  • An overwhelming sadness (30 min)

April 22, 2017, 11:30am-1:00pm (UTC-8)
LA Times Festival of Books

  • A question of character (10 min)
  • You can’t go home again (20 min)
  • Public and private languages (20 min)
  • Girls with dangerous friends (10 min)

April 23, 2017, 7:30am-11:00am (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 18)

  • Lightning on demand (10 min)
  • Weird things (20 min)
  • Inspiring or just silly? (30 min)
  • The truth behind the spin (10 min)
  • Sticks and stones (20 min)
  • The scream (30 min)
  • Can’t see the forest for the trees (10 min)
  • Radically different (10 min)
  • A battle of wits (30 min)

April 23, 2017, 8:40pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
LA Times Festival of Books (Part 2)

  • The hunters and the hunted (10 min)
  • Disappearing acts (20 min)
  • Walking the line (30 min)

April 24, 2017, 7:00am-11:00am (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 19)

  • Logical fallacy (10 min)
  • The solution is really quite simple (20 min)
  • Finally goes off the deep end (30 min)
  • Turn down the lights (10 min)
  • Not proud (20 min)
  • The world is in your hands (30 min)
  • He’s back (10 min)
  • Sinister speculations (20 min)
  • Going for broke (30 min)
  • Burning sky (5 min)

April 24, 2017, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 20)

  • Amazing, unsettling, inspiring (10 min)
  • A series of beautiful illustrations (20 min)
  • An interesting chain of events (30 min)
  • Upon first meeting (10 min)
  • Courageous and truthful (20 min)
  • Next door yet worlds apart (30 min)
  • Sees things a little differently (20 min)

April 25, 2017, 11:30am-3:30pm (UTC-8)
Idioms (Part 1)

  • Once in a blue moon (10 min)
  • Not playing with a full deck (20 min)
  • Not a spark of decency (30 min)
  • Piece of cake (10 min)
  • Kill two birds with one stone (20 min)
  • Keep something at bay (30 min)
  • It takes two to tango (10 min)
  • Every cloud has a silver lining (20 min)
  • Drastic times call for drastic measures (30 min)
  • In the heat of the moment (5 min)

April 25, 2017, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Idioms (Part 2)

  • Add insult to injury (10 min)
  • Ace in the hole (20 min)
  • Barking up the wrong tree (30 min)
  • Sleep with the fishes (10 min)
  • Spill the beans (20 min)
  • Take with a grain of salt (30 min)
  • Throw under the bus (10 min)
  • Get bent out of shape (5 min)

April 26, 2017, 12:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
From Random Wikipedia Articles

  • Mistakenly thought (10 min)
  • Point of no return (20 min)
  • Purposes and interests (30 min)
  • Delicate in appearance (10 min)
  • The old part of town (20 min)
  • Conscientious objector (30 min)
  • Gradually strengthened (10 min)
  • Arms and artifacts (20 min)
  • A new contract (30 min)
  • Inadvertently released (5 min)

April 26, 2017, 8:00pm-2:00am (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 21)

  • Vehemently opposed (10 min)
  • Tipping point (20 min)
  • Coming back in new ways (30 min)
  • Earnest and undeniable (10 min)
  • A special place (20 min)
  • Under threat (30 min)
  • Massive advances (10 min)
  • Part of a trend (20 min)
  • Sit down together (30 min)
  • Warning signs (10 min)
  • The real and the artificial intertwine (20 min)
  • Embarrassing attempt (30 min)
  • Effectively organize (10 min)
  • Incredibly simple (20 min)
  • Something shiny (15 min)

April 27, 2017, 11:05am-2:35pm (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 22)

  • This would be it (10 min)
  • Single, bored and lonely (20 min)
  • The thrills of amateur surgery (30 min)
  • Debut performance (10 min)
  • Animal combat (20 min)
  • A very narrow focus (30 min)
  • Riding the waves (10 min)
  • Entirely at fault (15 min)
  • A little too close to the truth (15 min)

April 27, 2017, 8:00pm-2:00am (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 23)

  • Undo the damage (10 min)
  • Pure comedy gold (20 min)
  • Comes in many guises (30 min)
  • Coercive interrogation methods (10 min)
  • Emergency action (20 min)
  • Making contact (30 min)
  • Not impressed (10 min)
  • Tactics and devices (20 min)
  • Afraid to come forward (30 min)
  • You can never have too much (10 min)
  • Making appearances (20 min)
  • Common landmarks (30 min)
  • Looking for a gift (10 min)
  • A secret hollow book (20 min)
  • There’s still not enough (10 min)

April 28, 2017, 3:00pm-7:00pm (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 24)

  • Lose most of its value (10 min)
  • Ambassador of hope (20 min)
  • Some people take it more seriously (30 min)
  • Legendary fighters (10 min)
  • Gone from the world (20 min)
  • It’s all in the mind (30 min)
  • Dark outrage (10 min)
  • Music and light (20 min)
  • Free and uneasy (30 min)
  • Fundamental differences (10 min)

April 28, 2017, 8:00pm-2:00am (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 25)

  • A little inspiration (10 min)
  • Wasn’t all that pleased (20 min)
  • A matter of life and death (30 min)
  • Be difficult (10 min)
  • Arguments that never end (20 min)
  • The trap (30 min)
  • The opposite direction (10 min)
  • Make the insurmountable look insignificant (20 min)
  • The ugly side (30 min)
  • In stunning detail (10 min)
  • Strong enough to seize power (20 min)
  • Explosive energy (30 min)
  • Many strands (10 min)
  • Quite a collection (20 min)
  • A classic trick (15 min)

April 29, 2017, 6:30am-10:00am (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 26)

  • You only live once (30 min)
  • Tiny, beautiful and exquisitely cruel (30 min)
  • Challenge your senses (30 min)
  • Take a stand (30 min)
  • Symbolic gestures (30 min)
  • Tensions high on both sides (30 min)

April 30, 2017, 8:00am-12:00pm (UTC-8)
Common Phrases (Part 27)

  • A thousand year old ruin (30 min)
  • Terror takes the sound before you make it (30 min)
  • Alarm bells (30 min)
  • The last ones leave us know (30 min)
  • Gone but not forgotten (30 min)
  • Held a strange sway (30 min)
  • What lies beneath (30 min)

Postcard #132 – Plaid Everywhere

This postcard was sent to me by a doctor who plays in a rock band. Cool, huh?

What I’m curious about, though, is why plaid is associated with Christmas (because this is supposed to be a Christmas postcard). Aren’t plaids types of tartan fabric with certain patterns that are specific to Scottish clans? That doesn’t seem particularly Christmas-y to me.



Postcard #130 – Carbohydrates on Paper

I really enjoy getting unusual and unexpected postcards in the mail. And this one is certainly out of the norm. Most people send scenic cards. This one is bread! I’m not sure what type of bread this is–it looks like rye or pumpernickel. If you, dear reader, are more familiar with Russian cuisine than I am, let me know what this is.

The slogan on the card is translated roughly as “The homemade meal is the art of caring for your loved ones.” I think this holds true if you’re a good cook. Me? I’m rather middling and I think I’d better express my love by not subjecting people to my cooking.



A Stroll Through The Getty Villa

I went to the Getty Villa in Malibu (not to be confused with the Getty Center) on Sunday. It was a perfect, warm sunny day. The museum is basically a replica of an ancient Roman villa and it houses the Getty’s collection of classical antiquities. Unfortunately, the entire second floor was under renovation so I was unable to see that part of the museum.

Selections from SFMOMA

I recently went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I’ve always wanted to go there but had never had the time before. It’s one of those places where you just know that devoting anything less than an entire day is a shame.

Below, I’ve included photos of a couple works at the SFMOMA that I particularly liked. There are also additional photographs on my Twitter feed. There’s currently a Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit as well, but no photos were permitted for that one. Despite the crowds, it was really fantastic and I highly recommend it to anyone planning to go there between now and May. (Well…almost everyone. I overheard one guy who didn’t like it. So if you don’t appreciate twentieth century expressionism and abstract art, you might not want to waste your money on an admission ticket.)

I will admit that when I first encountered modern art, I didn’t really understand it. I still don’t understand half of it. But I’ve grown to appreciate it and find it more as a jumping off point for an artist’s philosophy–what they want to say, what they’re not saying, and whether they mean anything at all.

Postcard #120 – A Car from Poland

This is a perfectly nice postcard. Except there’s one thing wrong with it. There’s nothing written on it. It’s virtually new.

I received this in an envelope from Poland along with a generic greeting on a separate sheet of paper. I’m not sure if the sender doesn’t understand the concept of a postcard swap or has an entirely different philosophy about it. Or maybe the sender is really paranoid about having anything posted, so sent me a blank card just to be safe.

Most people would be like, “Ah, a free postcard! I can send this to someone else!” I personally feel a bit uncomfortable about that if the sender does not explicitly state that I can use it. Besides, there’s a rule on the Postcrossing site that says that you can’t reuse postcards, so that’s out even if you wanted to do that. And seriously, I’m already tempting  the wrath of the postcard police by just posting this postcard on this blog.



Garden Tapestries

Garden tapestries from Giza, Egypt. An exhibit in Encinitas, CA.

License Plates Observed

Last year, I was pretty bored being stuck in rush hour traffic so I decided to make my commute a little more productive (or useless, depending on your point of view), by making a note of the location of different license plates. The following figure is a compilation of a year’s worth of data:


There are several caveats about this geographic heat map. Since the observations were done primarily in California, of course the top number of license plates will be California. I also recorded plates from Canada (a couple) and Mexico (mostly from Baja California and about as many as Arizona plates). I actually saw zero North Dakota plates during the observation period, but about one week after the observation period ended, I saw two separate vehicles with North Dakota plates.

I suspect the map would look vastly different if I lived in a different Californian city (particularly one where there is almost no tourism), let alone in a different state.

The most frustrating aspect about the data collection was that sometimes it was impossible to tell where the plate was from because of the way it was mounted on a vehicle. Sometimes the license plate holders would cover all of the license plate except for the alphanumeric code. Occasionally, I could guess fairly confidently what the plate was if the font/color/design matched the default plate of that state, but if someone had a vanity plate, I had no clue. In the cases where I was unsure, I did not record them.