LAX Shuttle Buses A Menace

lax shuttle pic

Going to LAX to pick up a loved one? A friend? Or perhaps you are going on a trip and will need a ride to the not-so-wonderful airport known as LAX.

First off, what does the “X” stand for?
Nothing.
Yep, it’s simply a placeholder so that the airport’s abbreviation has the required three letters. A portent to a poorly planned airport? Maybe.
LAX_many planes

I have lived in Los Angeles my whole life. As a teenager, I remember double dating  at Encounter, the rotating restaurant that used to serve a hamburger large enough for four people. I remember because it was awkward being on a date with a cute guy, and I had no idea how to get my section of the dinner-plate-sized burger  in my mouth in an attractive way. The fact that the entire restaurant was rotating didn’t help. But during the time period, which was the mid-60’s, it was not difficult to drive around LAX nor was parking a problem. Here’s a picture of how it used to look.          lax rest blk wht with parking

FAST FORWARD TO THE SHUTTLE BUSES

We all understand the wonderful intention of the shuttle buses at LAX. They are supposed to bring passengers from the various long-term parking lots, hotels, and car rental companies into the terminal. But have you ever looked into those buses. THEY ARE MOSTLY EMPTY!

I had not thought about it previously, but when I fly for short periods, I use one of the parking options outside the airport. And every single time I have been driven into the terminal, my shuttle has mostly been empty. Now multiply that by all the companies that drive a shuttle into LAX.

I own a Subaru Outback Wagon, a reasonably sized vehicle, yet  driving around LAX I feel like I’m in a mini-compact-bumper car.  I had always made the assumption that the buses were annoying but a good thing in that they transport many people. WRONG!

lax-poles and sunset sky

Next time you are unfortunate enough to have to drive around LAX, especially for an arriving passenger, take a look inside the buses. You will see either empty or almost empty buses. They clog the car traffic and create a terrifying ride around the terminal. A couple of nights ago, while picking-up my son,  there was a “Wally Park” bus on my right, and two on my left. Two were empty. One had three passengers.

TRANSPORTATION CONTROL AT LAX – DO YOU EXIST?

If so, how about some “boots on the ground” in the form of traffic control to keep it moving? To keep it fair for cars being squeezed by EMPTY shuttle buses.

How about a restriction on how many buses each company can have in the terminal at one time? And how about a stipulation that requires buses to have a minimum capacity of 1/2-1/3 full based on total possible capacity of the bus prior to entering the terminal?

Yes, one could say then why not impose car pooling on the cars entering? But as I said. I have lived here my whole life and we never had it so bad at LAX. Yes, there are more folks now calling Los Angeles County home. They flock here in search of a Golden Dream that California is mythically known for. So why not make it a reality and not a myth. California should be where dreams come true, not nightmares.

How about it LAXDOT??
parking at lax before structures Here is a picture of how it looked “pre-parking structure” era at LAX.

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Filed under Airport Shuttles, LAX, LAX Traffic, Los Angeles Airport Shuttles, Los Angeles International Airport, Traffic control LAX

Manicure and Pedicure for Four-Year-Olds?

Recently, the salon where I get my hair done installed 10-12 throne-style spa chairs. I stopped to stare. They look less like “chairs” and more like a “Barcalounger” for giants or a “Lazy Boy” on steroids. They looked inviting and intimidating at the same time.

In the throne sits the client looking bored and superior, as they are perched up higher than anyone else. On each side of the throne are busily working masked Asian women looking like they are uncovering delicate bones from an archeology dig that will reveal the meaning of life. Or the “Holy Grail.”  Another masked woman sits on a miniature blue chair that looks like it is made for a child. She is working busily at the client’s feet.

I have the feeling the client would love to pull out his/her cell to check for any recent emails or text messages, but most unfortunately possibly the only real block to one staring at one’s smart phone is the manicure.

Both hands being confined at first to small pink or pale blue plastic containers of warm sudsy water. Then each hand is held against the fat arm of the throne chair, having stubborn cuticles trimmed on one hand while on the other each nail is being filed with the same stroke one uses on a Stradivarius violin. Sadly, the client must wait until the end to see who sent them the most recent text or the latest news of the day.

Still staring, I see a cute blonde girl clicking away on her iPad. Too adorable! But then she climbs into a throne chair next to her mommy. This young girl is four-years-old. The masked women move in on her with the grace that demonstrates precise teamwork. After the soaking of the hands, and feet, but wait, her feet don’t make it into the footbath. One woman holds the bubbly water container up to the little girl’s feet.  The four year old has picked her color and makes funny faces while the women work on her tiny hands and feet and even tinier nails.

Before I know it, a boy, perhaps three, but no older than four, whose mom is having her nails done in the regular manner, at a regular manicure table in a non-throne chair, now climbs into a throne chair. And the team moves in on him. But wait, here’s another fourish-year-old climbing into a throne chair. Is this nursery school or a beauty salon? I’ll guess making mud pies is out of the question for these kids.

Toxin Alert

What about the many chemicals that are contained in nail polish? Yes, nails are supposed to be dead, right? But isn’t some of that stuff absorbed? What about the fumes that are predominate in any nail salon? The reason that the-smarter-than-the-client-women-who-work-there are wearing face masks.

In fact, according to a post on The Huffington Post Blog nail polish may contain formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate. I say some because there are a few brands that responded to health concerns and removed these dangerous chemicals from their polishes. To further support this, Medline Plus, published by the National Institute of Health has published the same information with suggestions on how to treat toxin exposure to nail polish from either swallowing or breathing the fumes. One consideration is size and weight.  Here’s the link http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002722.htm

Perhaps there is a new sort of pressure on west Los Angeles mommies to “treat” their daughters and (surprisingly) sons to a pedicure and manicure to what? Keep up with the Joneses? In researching the cost of west Los Angeles manicures and pedicures, one salon listed titles such as “Mom-i-cure”$40; Kid-i-Cure” $9; and “Hold My Hand Gelicure” $75.

I think everyone should pamper themselves with bubble baths or massages or even buying a new purse that you just love and have to have. But this is different. This is exposing extremely young kids to toxins that can affect their health,. But possibly worse, its going to set precedent for a very long life time of expectations of a lifestyle they may demand.

And I can’t imagine being four and getting upset over chipping a nail.

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Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs and the Use of Sotalol

rocky from TyRocky

I originally wrote this blog in December 2012. I posted it and then pulled it  as I was afraid that it would jinx something, such as Rocky’s life.  Rocky passed away on February 11, 2013, and I do feel that there may be other dog owners who can benefit from knowing our experience regarding Sotalol.

Whoever is in charge of allowing dogs to have congestive heart failure does not have a heart.

My dog Rocky, a boxer mix, had congestive heart failure. Although he is a mix, his mom was a pure breed boxer, and boxers tend to have heart disease. I rescued him 13 years ago. Last April, on a visit to my mom’s home in Indian Wells, California, Rocky started acting nervous. We had visited my mom’s many times, so the next day when his breathing seemed too fast while he was at rest, I took him to a nearby vet, who ran an EKG and told me Rocky had a dangerous cardiac condition. He said his blood pressure was very high and Rocky was started on blood pressure medication.

As soon as we arrived back in Los Angeles, I took Rocky to a vet I knew well. He said Rocky had nothing wrong with his heart. I followed up with a cardiologist who agreed.  They both said now Rocky’s blood pressure was too low.

Was the vet in the desert a quack?

A week later, he started coughing. Back to the vet we went. We were told kennel cough. But the cough persisted. Rocky was put on even stronger antibiotics.

He kept coughing.

Then disaster struck. While on a walk only a few minutes from home, Rocky began to cough and passed out. He urinated as he collapsed, and it appeared he was dying, which I think he was. Luckily my son was with me. He ran home to get a car. Just before he returned, Rocky’s breathing picked-up and he slowly came back to life. This same scenario happened the next day after breakfast.

After the second collapse, we saw an internist at the same large veterinary clinic, since the cardiologist only works on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We were there for 6 hours. The vet ran every test imaginable and put Rocky on many medications, adding new antibiotics for the cough. On Tuesday we finally saw the cardiologist again, who diagnosed Rocky with congestive heart failure (CHF). The bill for these two visits added up to thousands of dollars.

After getting the correct diagnosis and correct cardiac medication, Rocky was doing as well as could be expected-until last week. On December 7th, Rocky wanted to go out around 2 am. Once outside, he ended up collapsing like he had when this started. Only this time he also started shaking and overall it was a worse type of collapse.  As a result, in an email, his cardiologist suggested I increase his anti-arrhythmic medication, Sotalol. So I followed her suggestion.

This brings us to last week. Last Monday to be precise, one week after increasing the Sotalol. He seemed fine other than his coughing had increased.  As I put his leash on him, he became excited about going on the walk and collapsed and urinated. He recovered.

But  it got so much  worse. He began to collapse repeatedly:

  • Wednesday morning, two days later, he woke as usual at 7 am. But he didn’t make it out of my bedroom. He collapsed and urinated.
  • Wednesday afternoon he collapsed
  • Thursday 1:30 am he collapsed and urinated
  • Thursday at 9:30 am, he collapsed

He had stopped eating as well.

I emailed his cardiologist to ask what criteria she suggests for euthanasia, and I also asked her to confirm that the increased Sotalol is not a possible reason for this sudden decline.

Her response surprised me. The usual tone of compassion was absent. Instead she told me that unless I bring him in for an EKG and lung x-ray, there was no way to know what was going on. She said that if I do not bring him in, I should euthanize him.

I was stunned by her response. I wasn’t sure if the car ride would kill him, but I knew it would be close. But the question about the increased Sotalol had not been answered. I went online and you can read it for yourself at this site http://www.drugs.com/pro/sotalol.html or you can read the text from the link here:

Congestive Heart Failure

Sympathetic stimulation is necessary in supporting circulatory function in congestive heart failure, and beta-blockade carries the potential hazard of further depressing myocardial contractility and precipitating more severe failure. In patients who have congestive heart failure controlled by digitalis and/or diuretics, Sotalol should be administered cautiously. Both digitalis and Sotalol slow AV conduction. As with all beta-blockers, caution is advised when initiating therapy in patients with any evidence of left ventricular dysfunction. In premarketing studies, new or worsened congestive heart failure (CHF) occurred in 3.3% (n = 3257) of patients and led to discontinuation in approximately 1% of patients receiving Sotalol. The incidence was higher in patients presenting with sustained ventricular tachycardia/fibrillation (4.6%, n = 1363), or a prior history of heart failure (7.3%, n = 696). Based on a lifetable analysis, the one-year incidence of new or worsened CHF was 3% in patients without a prior history and 10% in patients with a prior history of CHF. NYHA Classification was also closely associated to the incidence of new or worsened heart failure while receiving Sotalol (1.8% in 1395 Class I patients, 4.9% in 1254 Class II patients and 6.1% in 278 Class III or IV patients).

To summarize the above statement, if someone has congestive heart failure it can get a lot worse from taking Solalol.

So I cut Rocky’s dose back to what it had originally been and he has stopped collapsing and has almost completely stopped coughing. Today is Sunday, Dec. 23, and he just finished eating his normal full dinner. I don’t have final answer as to if all of this has been caused by the increased medication.  After all, he did collapse prior to any change in medication. So it’s not a clear cut situation. Yet, the vet’s response should have stated that , yes, it is possible the sudden decline could be caused by the increased Sotalol.

Afterword: As stated above, Rocky passed away on February 11. Clearly his condition worsened, but equally clearly is the fact that by increasing the Sotalol, he had became much worse very quickly due to the drug. By reducing the dose back to what it had been, he had another good month, and as my son said, one good hour with Rocky is worth it.  Toward the end of January, the cough worsened again and he progressively became worse until he had to be euthanized. I will miss him forever.

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Would You Like a Semi-Auto Gun with Your Glass of Milk?

“Originally intended to protect our civil rights in 1787, our right to bear arms in 1987 has backfired. Instead our rights have been taken away.”

This was the opening line to an article I wrote that was published in the Los Angeles Times. At the time I was responding to an incident that had been published in the Metro Section on June 22, 1987, back when the Times had a Metro Section. At the time car passengers on freeways in Los Angeles were being shot and killed. The case I was responding to occurred to a young man riding as a passenger with his son in the back seat. I wrote, “That young man no longer had any rights when he was fatally shot in the neck by a passing maniac. ” This was not a single event. Back in ’87, people were getting shot on the 10 freeway, and it was not believed to be gang related.

Fast forward to 2012 and the shooting of 20 beautiful little kids and six adults whose rights were also taken away.  So now everyone wants to ban the sale of firearms. Rightfully so, but the guns used by the killer were legally purchased by his mother. So it goes beyond gun control. The guns should have been locked in a safe and the ammo? Who has tons of ammo sitting around his house? How did a 20 year old get the ammo?

The news media is now stating that the mother was from New Hampshire and was “comfortable” around fire arms. Great! But what in the world does that have to do with owning a semi-automatic rifle? If you want to kill a moose, it’s already an unfair scenario with a single shot rifle.  Will  someone tell me where a semi-automatic weapon comes in?

The federal government needs to absolutely ban semi-automatic assault rifles.  But we must look beyond that. How do we get America to go a step further and to lock up its guns? How do we prevent the sales of ammunition to a mentally ill  20-year-old? How can any owner of firearms find it acceptable to allow the guns to be as easily accessible as a glass of milk?

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Tranform Your Halloween/Thanksgiving Pumpkin

ImageReduce waste and get more out of your holiday pumpkin by transforming it into a holiday decoration. The one above was transformed by simply using high gloss red spray paint, glitter, ribbon, and other decorations. If you celebrate Chanukah, simply use blue paint instead of red.

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eBook or Print for Self-Publishers?

With the close of Borders, it has become evident that electronic publishing is in and print is out. For those who prefer the smell of ink and paper, this is devastating news. Perhaps the physical aspect of holding a book versus holding a tablet is more romantic? Or maybe it’s the nostalgia of shelving books in alphabetical order. After all, when finished, the print book gets placed on a shelf to collect dust. While some will never pick up a tablet and will forever insist on a hard copy, the forests of the world are rejoicing.  So are trash dumps. Yes, many books are recycled to friends and family, but others do end up taking up space in dumps. Score one for the environment with eBooks!

If you are a first-time author with a terrific novel, you will be faced with the decision of print or eBook.  Last I checked it cost around $800-$1000 to publish a print novel. But that’s not all. Many publishing companies also demand a royalty agreement. Why in the world should you pay one penny to a publishing company to whom you have already paid for printing expenses? It simply doesn’t make sense.

Last December 26, the Los Angeles Times ran an article by Alex Pham called “Book publishers see their role as gatekeepers shrink.” http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-gatekeepers-20101226,0,7119214.story. In effect, some authors are looking forward to their publishing contract to expire, so they can electronically publish with Kindle. Why? They will make a much bigger commission. At Kindle authors earn a 70% commission per sale.  For me the decision was easy.

I published my first novel as an eBook. I couldn’t justify the expense to create a print book that I expected only friends and relatives to purchase. So I began by reading up on it from Kindle’s Direct Publishing site (KDP). Start with the first link, “Getting Started & FAQs.” Then read the forums that are applicable. I posted on the forums and got help really quickly. I even got hold of a live person from Kindle when I needed to. Here’s the link: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin.

If you don’t have time, there are companies that do eBook Conversions. One I highly recommend is Booknook.biz http://booknook.biz/. I found them through the Kindle forums. I had gotten extremely frustrated with uploading my book cover. I was concerned about the way my book was displaying and Hitch explained that books display differently depending the device or computer being used. It was a concept I had never thought of!  She didn’t charge me and emailed me later to see how it went.  She sends out a monthly newsletter that is full of helpful information.  A million thumbs up for Hitch!

So you decide, print or eBook. In case you haven’t checked out my eBook, you can get a free sample on my webpage http://www.ginaladinsky.com or my Face book author’s page at http://www.facebook.com/editprofile.php?sk=contact#!/pages/Gina-Ladinskys-Author-Page/147005248709226?sk=wall

By the way, the only thing it cost me to publish my eBook was my time and $200 to create a “Doing Business As.”

Stay tuned for more info on eBook publishing.

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Do You Read?

But do you really read?

Teaching writing at various community colleges in Los Angeles for the past ten years has taught me that there are too few students who really understand how to read for college. Sadly, most students come into freshman composition, a university level reading and writing course, extremely unprepared. Oh, they can read the words. They can stare at the page for long enough, but they walk away from the reading with very little.  They will scan the reading and vaguely answer some reading analysis questions, but most do not really consider the reading in a manner that involves critical thinking where they actually interact with the content.

The rude awakening comes when students realize that in order analyze a reading, they must read it more than once, and, worse, they must take notes and ask questions. When the analysis paper is assigned, some students will demonstrate their lack of willingness to dig in and read as their essays will contain erroneous information from the reading such as incorrect names or circumstances. In other cases, students won’t quite understand what the paper should be about as they have not fully digested the reading in the first place.  On the other hand, students whose homework reflects a concentrated effort at deciphering through the reading consistently demonstrate effective essays.

By the end of the semester, the students who have performed poorly will excuse themselves by saying they simply don’t have the time needed for the class.  They have work and family and can’t be expected read more than once. Or worse, they will blame the teacher. Yet, this same population of students attend college feeling they are deserving of the degree that is promised after a certain number of units are earned. And they expect that they will also be awarded the new, sparking career that goes along with the degree. After all, this is America and everyone is entitled to an education.

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Filed under Reading, College Composition