A Life Lived in Shorts


Charlie BrownIt is a strange day in southern California when you wake up and the temperature reads 46 degrees. I’m not complaining, I spent 40-plus years in the Midwest and I still visit there regularly and prefer the softness of the air mattress over the possibility of being banished to the back porch to “suck it up and be a man you California wuss!”

Because we are wusses. People who are native Californians will try to tell you there are seasons here, but the sun does strange things to your head so I think it’s just the long term effects. I have never seen a more fearful expression on a human being’s face than when a young woman asked me what winter is like, she was considering going to Northwestern University, and I said “do you have any idea what a wind chill of twenty five degrees below zero feels like.”

The horror crept into her face the way a smile creeps onto the face of a Scrooge. She had to let it seep in, she had to calculate the fact that she probably has to wear a heavy coat when it hits 50 here so how many layers were required to insulate her body from that temperature. Now that I think of it, maybe her face looked that way because she was trapped in a math loop carrying the decimal.

But you see “business casual” in Los Angeles means shorts and a t-shirt. So it is just strange not to don that in the morning. Yes, yes, I know you’re going to react with “come on!” I’m just saying that I love a life lived in shorts. Easier footwear selection, easier to wash, you never even consider ironing shorts, and one pair of khakis goes with everything. And it’s just what I’m used to.

Really that’s all. It’s just what you’re used to. And we want it perfect. When it’s cold, people want it warm, when it’s hot people want it cooler. The fact is, we’re all wusses.

But…I wrote a blog on Tuesday about how my inner Christmas jukebox only plays two songs and this morning I’m humming “White Christmas.” And it’s probably all due to the cold.

Groundhogs strike!



Punxsutawney Bob, second cousin of Punxsutawney Phil, made famous in the film “Groundhog Day”, has announced that this February 2nd, all groundhogs will be on strike.

With the entire Punxsutawney clan having been raised in captivity for years, they finally wisened up to the service they provide and the retroactive wages they are due. Bob said in a statement “there are hundreds, maybe thousands, I don’t know it’s hard to count on these claws, people on TV reporting the weather, getting paid lots of money to make their fur look the way it looks. And their forecasts are completely unreliable. We’ve hit 96%.”

It’s a simple matter of getting what’s due.

The GHU (Groundhog Union) simply wants to be reimbursed for their time and accuracy. They think they deserve a couple of nice nights out at some of the fancier raw food eateries and they want security beefed up for their brethren who are still out in the wild trying to ditch the wolves, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, bears, large hawks and dogs that want to eat them.

A famous southern groundhog, General Beauregard Lee, opposes the Union.

General Lee does not want any intervention and believes that the groundhogs can live any way they want and should not be influenced by any government or corporate agenda. His stand is that the groundhogs themselves should take over the unveiling of the future of winter and allow the lesser of the population deliver the message while they remain safely ensconced in their burrows. They will sell their prediction for a set amount and take care of their own property and concerns.

He’s got a small but loyal following but officials are working with the Union in an attempt to come to an agreement by midnight tonight so the brightest and best of the groundhogs will still perform their duty and see if they see their shadow.

Let the Sunshine In



The temperatures have finally normalized in Southern California, reaching 80 degrees the last two days. Now before you move on to another blog in disgust, that’s not what this is about, so please bear with me.

It did help when the train was stuck for somewhere between 2 1/2 and 3 hours. We were able to get off and sit on the platform or just hang out on the train with the doors open. 80 degrees in January is not the same as the summer so it wasn’t hot, it was rather pleasant. I luckily had a book and an iPhone with a full charge to listen to music instead of all the complaining.

But it made me think about how people bond more in my old home of Chicago this time of year. There’s something that brings people closer together in the winter. When it’s super cold and the wind chill dips below 0 you think about an elderly neighbor and check up on them. If a friend of yours heat goes out you don’t think twice about offering them the floor to sleep on. (I mean come on, if you live in a studio with a futon couch, that’s all you have to offer.)

And of course, the biggest bond is the snow. Everyone becomes friendly neighbors when you get hit by a big snow, which doesn’t melt and then you get hit by a big snow again. Helping to dig someone out, throwing your coat on and braving the cold because someone’s trying to get down the street and their tires are spinning and not moving and of course, respecting the shoveled parking space marked by two folding chairs. People help each other more under these extreme circumstances without even needing a thank you. That can wait until the summer block party when you love everyone after 8 beers.

There’s not really an equivalent in Los Angeles. But while everyone was complaining about not being able to get anywhere, stuck at the same station, I was grateful for the beautiful weather and that I chose the 32GB iPhone over the 16GB.

Two Great Truths


There are two great truths I believe: everyone should be nicer, and it should not be cold in Southern California.

“It’s always 72 and sunny in LA.” That’s a line from Steve Martin’s “L.A. Story” and in the three years I’ve lived here I’ve found it to be true. So when I found myself today wearing a long sleeve shirt under a sweatshirt and a knit cap on the top of my head, I was sure that the Mayans had just missed it by a few weeks. Now I’m sure that your reaction will be somewhere between “Aww, poor baby” and “F@#K YOU” depending on where you might live. But I was cold!

When I frist moved here it was October and people were wearing fleeces in eighty degree weather. I couldn’t understand it. For the first six months I never wore long pants. The only reason I did switch from shorts is that I got a job as a US Census Crew Director so I had to look official. Shorts and a T-shirt is business casual here, but I had to look a little more respectful. But it was only cargo pants and I still had a short sleeve shirt on, no jacket.

Everyone told me my blood would thin. That is the statement that has been made since I moved here. That I would start to feel the subtler differences. But my Chicago skin has been forged over forty years and so it has not changed. I have not shed the skin for a Southern California wimpy version. Today I was cold because it was cold.

It was 55 degrees.