Friday, November 30, 2012


"Sun/Moon/Dome" by Adam Leventhal, 5th & Main, Los Angeles

It's the buzzword of the era. Networking. Putting the word out. Connecting.

A few weeks ago I attended a "networking event" for entrepreneurs with a friend. Several people gathered together and each spoke about the product or service they could offer. The moderator emphasized that they were not here see the rest of the group as primary customers, but rather as connections to potential customers of their product or services.

Not in the market for party-planning services? No pressure! But if you have a friend who's thinking about throwing a kid's birthday, perhaps you'll remember the funny young woman who made such a great presentation, and pass along her card.

You aren't shopping for office space - but the next day at work on the phone your client reveals they're planning an expansion. Hey! You just met this great guy who's in the commercial lease business!

It was an interesting evening. I'm not an independent entrepreneur, not by a long shot. So I didn't join the group my friend invited me to. But it was intriguing. And it underlined for me how useful networking can be - and these aren't even people you know.

Playing together

Networking more frequently happens on the personal level. When you're reaching out to market something, whether it's a product or service you're selling or even just when you're trying to sell yourself, it's great to reach out to people you know.

I've been trying this in my job search, and it's been great to reconnect with people I've lost touch with. Even though I worry sometimes they think it's only because I'm looking for a job.  I've gotten some great tips, and some useful leads.

A lonely ship at sea

But, really, I have to confess I'm not very good at networking - I never have been. I don't know what it is, some combination of not wanting to be beholden to other people, fear of disappointing someone's expectations if they do give me support, and some weird kind of independent stand-offish feeling that, dammit, if I'm good enough I should be able to get a job on my very own.

I know these feelings are silly, untrue, and self-defeating. After all:
  • People love to do favors for others. I do, don't you? It's a good feeling to help someone. I shouldn't fear that people will look down on me for asking, and, in fact, I'd love to be able to help them in turn.
  • At the same time, I'm not asking anyone to go out on a limb for me, just give me a lead or a tip. It's my responsiblity what I do with it next.
  • No one stands alone. Even customers, clients, and employers like working with someone who's connected
What's the focus?

My biggest problem, though, is that I'm not really sure what I want. Do I want just another job?  There really isn't an equivalent of my own job available anywhere, so I have to adapt. And I can adapt going up - reaching for what might be a promotional opportunity. Or I can adapt going down - decide I'd like to learn more about something else, and going for a more entry level position. I can stay within my industry or field, or I can branch out into another one, adapting my skills to a new speciality.
Take a seat and pick your own color!
It's kind of hard to network with people if you don't really know what to ask for. "What do you want to do?" is a question that's come up in some of the conversations I've had, and I'm not quite sure I can answer it.

What about you guys - talk about your experience networking, and the things you've learned.

More rain

On the S curves
Waking up to another rainy morning. Yesterday it drizzled, then by nightfall, it became serious rain, and rained all night.

Yesterday morning's commute was lengthened by an accident on the S curves - 3 cars, one going into the guard rails.

Coming home last night there was another, in almost the same location - a van and an SUV head-on. Just as I passed the EMT and highway patrol cars guarding this one, I heard on the radio of another one behind me on Pacific Coast Highway at Las Flores Canyon.

This morning, Jack and I reluctantly went out in the downpour for his morning toilette, which - thank goodness - he performed promptly.

Be careful, folks. It's tricky out there.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Weekly Jack - Cozy

It's been raining. It started raining last night and it's raining today. Jack likes to stay in and get cozy when it rains.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thematic photographic - Flying

Carmi at the blog Written, Inc. posts a weekly photo challenge. This week, the theme is "Flying."

What's the best picture I have for "flying"?

The flying pig weathervane, of course.

It's my birthday!

I'm enjoying it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lazy weekend

Rose "Winchester Cathedral" in bloom in my garden
It's a lazy holiday weekend for us. We had a nice, simple, unconventional Thanksgiving dinner. [The Man I Love] got a nice piece of salmon filet which he cooked on an alder plank over charcoal.

We had nice little Yukon Gold potatoes and brussels sprouts from the Santa Monica Farmers' Market - the potatoes simply steamed with butter and parsley; the sprouts oven roasted with bacon.

With dill and mustard glaze
You've already seen my Quince Apple Crisp that was dessert.

No turkey leftovers for sandwiches, but we had some leftover salmon. This, flaked and mixed with breadcrumbs, seasonings and egg, made nice salmon cakes or croquettes for a Friday night dinner.

We stuck around home all weekend. On Black Friday we took Jack to a dog park, but stayed as far away from stores as we could. Saturday I joined the writers' workshop I've been going to. Saturday night - I confess we ordered pizza!

Tonight we're sharing a meal with our good neighbors - we're bringing dessert and a side; they're providing the main entree, a lovely looking rib-eye.

Hope you're all having just as nice a time.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Golden Apple

In Greek mythology, the Princess Atalanta, a superstar athlete, tells her father she'll only marry a man who can beat her in a footrace.To make the contest more interesting, it is decreed that those who try but lose will be killed.

The youth Hippomenes asks the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, for help, and she gives him three golden apples. Three times in the race, Atalanta pulls ahead of Hippomenes, and each time he rolls out a golden apple on the track, tempting her to slow and pick it up. He wins the race, and wins the hand of the princess.

The Golden Apples of mythology are generally agreed by scholars to have been quinces - Cydonia oblonga.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving market

Here's a sample of what we found at the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market on the day before Thanksgiving.

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Job search news

La Chouette, the lucky owl, Dijon, France
Well, the week before Thanksgiving is probably NOT the right time to reinvigorate your job search, but it is a good time to reflect, regroup, and plan to get started come Monday morning.

In November, I interviewed for a transfer position within my own organization, and despite an earlier set-back, I thought I did pretty well with this interview. I was calm, I felt comfortable. I emphasized the key strengths I could bring to the group.

The opportunity was only for internal candidates, and the short list was three people. They said they planned to make a decision within a week, but as of Monday, it had been two weeks since my interview. I understand - things happen; references take a while to gather, issues need to be discussed. But the longer things went on, the more clear it was to me that it would be another candidate that got the job.

Yesterday, I received the polite email telling me so.

I recently attended a day-long training session offered by Human Resources. We learned a lot about resume writing and interview skills, and resources for networking and searching for opportunities. Some of what the leader told us was directly contrary to things I'd heard from other facilitators.

Seven more months before my job disappears. There may be additional opportunities within my organization, but I can't rely on these. I need to look elsewhere. I started my efforts in September with a good to-do list of contacts to make, but as the autumn went on, I slacked off and spent most of my energy on this internal transfer. Time to get moving again.

La Chouette, the little stone owl on the side of Notre Dame church in Dijon, France, is supposed to bring good luck if you stroke it with your left hand. People have been relying on the little owl for luck since the 13th Century.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Is anybody listening?

Recent email correspondence:

Wednesday -
  • From: A 
  • To: B, C, D.
  • Subject: XYZ Meeting
  • Please find attached the agenda for the upcoming XYZ meeting. FYI, all historical records of the XYZ meeting are saved in our shared directory at [File path]
Thursday morning -
  • From: B
  • To:  A, C, D
  • Subject: Agenda for XYZ meeting
  • Where can I find the agenda for the XYZ meetings? Can you send me a copy?
Thursday afternoon -
  • From: A
  • To: B, C, D
  • Subject: RE: Agenda for XYZ meeting
  • All the notes for the XYZ meetings are saved at [File Path].
  • From:A
  • To: B, C, D
  • Subject: XYZ meeting handoff
  • Monday is my last day staffing the XYZ meeting, since I have tranfered to another department. Person B will be taking over my duties. Please find attached a document that describes all the duties for staffing the XYZ meeting. It explains where the records can be found in the network directory, and explains everything that needs to be done to set up the meeting. 
Monday morning -
  • From: B
  • To: C
  • Subject: Tonight's XYZ meeting
  • Do you know whether A will be coming to the XYZ meeting this evening? What does she do to prepare for the meeting? What do I have to bring? How many prints do I make? Do you have a copy of the agenda? Can I review it? Where is it saved?
Someone isn't listening.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Victory on the field, with streamer violation

Yes, to Albug who guessed the USC vs. UCLA game! And from where we sat, it turned out the right way.

We were in attendance for both fun and business, and at the wet and cold beginning of the day, with rain pounding down on the 101 and 134 freeways, it felt like all work and no play.

Where I am

Any guesses?

Posted live with the Blogger phone ap

I thought this was supposed to be fun

We're going to a big sporting event today. We have to leave the house at 8:30 am, parking will be a mess. It's been pouring all night, and in this particular sport, there's no such thing as a rain out.

More later.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Checking in at Chez Jay

Chez Jay's entrance
This weekend we checked in at Chez Jay, the venerable dive bar and steak house on Santa Monica's Ocean Avenue.

The last vestige of the casual, beach-bum vibe that was Santa Monica before the glossy hotels went up, Chez Jay has been under threat of change since the city began building a large park and subsidized housing on the land next door and behind the old dive.

The City's plan called for the restaurant to be redesigned to provide outdoor dining and more "family compatible" space opening onto the park. That's a pretty tough call for a joint whose claim to fame includes being Beach Boy Dennis Wilson's favorite place to get his load on.

So it was a small victory this October, when the City's Landmarks Commission voted to designate Chez Jay as a local landmark.

We stopped by for a cocktail, and to soak in the frowsty, sleazy - and, yes, historical - atmosphere. I had a gimlet.

Chez Jay's future is still in jeopardy, however, so the story's not over. The ownership of the land it occupies is entangled in the demise of the state Redevelopment Agency.  If it's sold on the open market, developers could raze the funky joint and erect yet another multi-story hotel in its place.

Painted fan vent from the parking lot
 If you're in Santa Monica, take the time to have a cocktail here before it's gone.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Strange weather, strange clouds

We're having some strange weather here. Yesterday was cold, quite cold. Today it's supposed to get up into the 80s and be very dry.

Saturday afternoon, a sheet of cloud hung over the West side of Los Angeles, and the setting sun turned it a murky yellow. Here's a shot I took while riding in a car on Pacific Coast Highway.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thematic Photographic - What's for Dinner?

Carmi at the blog Written, Inc. posts a weekly photo challenge. This week, the theme is "What's for dinner?"

Carmi says, For the next week, look more deeply into our kitchens, restaurants and other venues where we gather to break bread and discuss the day just completed. It could be a picture of food, a peek inside your fridge or pantry, or something remotely related to the place where dinner is shared.

Sometimes the answer is - Noodles!

Sawtelle Avenue, in West Los Angeles, is a place where you can get almost any kind of noodle you can think of. This is a bowl of Tsukemen noodles, served at room temperature alongside a bowl of broth called tonkatsu. You dip the noodles in the rich, thick, porky broth, add a squeeze of lime. Maybe a bit of something from the array of pickled condiments that cluster at the table.  At Tsujita LA's tiny corner cafe, they are proudly called "artisan noodles" - something special indeed.

They are so special there are usually lines at lunchtime, so if you're short on time but still want noodles, you can just sit down next door at Nong La Cafe and have a bowl of Vietnamese rice noodle soup, or Pho. This is chicken pho, or pho ga, served with herbs and bean sprouts to garnish, and a bowl of sweet-sour-hot chile sauce to dribble in for extra taste.

Others may prefer the classic beef pho, here served with rare steak and beef balls - pho tai bo.

Still can't decide? You can wander up the street and choose a noodle of your choice - ramen, or udon or soba. There are Korean noodles, Japanese cold noodle salad, and even a kind of fusion ramen, sprinkled with cheese.

Noodles! They're what's for dinner on Sawtelle Avenue.

Vietnamese Cha Gio, at Nong La Cafe.

And, yes, you can get egg roll with that!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thematic Photographic - What's for Dinner?

Carmi at the blog Written, Inc. posts a weekly photo challenge. This week, the theme is "What's for dinner?"

Carmi says, For the next week, look more deeply into our kitchens, restaurants and other venues where we gather to break bread and discuss the day just completed. It could be a picture of food, a peek inside your fridge or pantry, or something remotely related to the place where dinner is shared.

A Brouwerij West Blonde from Palo Verdes.
 How about beer?

I'm not much of beer drinker - I prefer wine, mostly. But this weekend we went to a place in the Los Angeles Arts District called the Little Bear.

They have a great selection of Belgian-style beers and ales, and also great pub food.

A pink tinge, a malty sweetness with a dry, tart finish

In honor of the political "War on Women" I had a glass of Feminist Ale from Redondo Beach's Monkish Brewing Company. It's a Belgian-style tripel ale, spiced with hibiscus. Mmmm! Tasty! With extra feminazi spicing!

I also had a comforting bowl of tomato soup and a simple grilled cheese sandwich. Yum.

[The Man I Love] had what you might call LA style moules marinieres - mussels with Mexican chorizo. Delicious!

The ugly face of dog-poo fascism

My rural neighborhood is full of dogs. Almost every house is home to a dog - or two. Neighbors meet one another while dog-walking. Some of us are known by our dog's name, instead of our own human name. 

No one likes dog poop dropped on their property, or near the mailbox, or where the car is parked. I carry a little dispenser of plastic bags when I go out with Jack, to pick up his droppings, and so do most of my neighbors.

Last week, some signs appeared on our street, stapled to utility poles. In a kind of perky, passive aggressive slightly guilt-tripping way, they exhorted us to pick up our dog's poop.

But then a few days later, new signs appeared.

They read:
 "The law requires pet owners to clean up after their dogs. It seems Encina Road is ignoring the law. It is an environmental hazard since the waste goes down storm drains and is unhealthy.
We know who you are and will report you to the proper agency.
Please carry a bag and clean up so we can all enjoy our environment."

I like the arch, accusatory touch of "it seems Encina Road is ignoring the law." The chilling fascist touch "we know who you are" - right out of a scary movie. And how, despite the concern about the environment, the author of this sign has stapled it to our beautiful and protected Coast Live Oak trees. And the nice touch of "please" in the final sentence. All it's missing is a smiley face and "have a nice day!"

You know the old saying:
First they came for the dog walkers
and I didn't speak out because I don't have a dog.
Then they came for the leaf-blowers that work before 8:00 am
and I didn't speak out because I don't hire a gardener.
Then they came for those who mingle their recycling with landfill waste
and I didn't speak out because I always recycle.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
With some apologies to Pastor Niemoller.

There are always going to be bossy scolds in our lives but this one seems particularly apt to Topanga to me. There is a rich vein of this kind of environmental moralist scold in Topanga, I'm sorry to say. 

How do you cope with the holier-than-thou in your neighborhood, home, or workplace?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Feeling optimistic

I interviewed for a job transfer today and I feel pretty good about it.

Thinking back on the interview, there were some good moments and I can't really think of any bad ones.

The interview panel says they will complete all the interviews today and make a decision by Friday.

There isn't anything I can do about it now, so tonight I will sleep a good sleep.

Wish me luck. If I get this transfer, I will stay in my organization, keep earning the same pay, and maintain my retirement savings.

Plus, it sounds more and more like a pretty cool job.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


A new restaurant on the scene in Santa Monica is called Tar and Roses - an odd name, perhaps. According to writer Jonathan Gold, it's a wine-geek phrase - a description of flavor notes divined from complex red wines.

And what could be more evocative than tar and roses on one's imaginary palate?

We visited Tar and Roses on a cool autumn night. We were seated in the back courtyard - a cozy brick-walled space open to the sky but warmed with heaters.  Like many new restaurants, the menu offers lots of small plates, things to share and nibble. Everything looked so delicious we took our time to decide.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Autumn sights

Persimmons at the Farmers Market

It's finally starting to feel like autumn here in Southern California. Here are some sights.

The weirdly wonderful blossoms of the southern hemisphere plant, protea.

 Red grape leaves in the chill of morning.

Brilliant multi-colored chiles and peppers, at the Farmers Market.

Golden cauliflower, also at the Farmers Market.

The streets of Santa Monica

Darkness comes earlier, now that it's November - but soon we'll turn our clocks back. Does it feel like fall where you are?

Bad boy update

This morning, Jack and I encountered our friends Patty, Patricia and Lola the bull terrier. Jack and Lola were off-leash romping, when Jack retreated to the bushes to perform his morning toilette. Then, as we called him to rejoin us on the street, Jack gave us a look over his shoulder and bounded up the hill, running up a neighbor's driveway. He looked down on us for a moment, savoring the moment, then ran up behind the house and disappeared.

He's pulled this stunt before, running up the mountain to visit folks on the street above ours. I took the car up there and searched for him, shouting his name. To no avail - although I met several friendly neighbors.

Minutes after I left, [The Man I Love] reports, the bad boy came running back down the walk to the front door.

Jack is a scamp.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mornings with Jack

Too much time has passed since Jack's last appearance on this page, so we'll remedy that today.

Jack is my good companion, and every morning we take a walk.

Click to "embiggen"

With the changing season, mornings have turned colder, and there's often a chill mist in the canyon. As we walk, the rising sun burns through the mist, or brightens the mountain across the canyon.

When we're back at my house, I tell Jack to sit on the street step, and I slip the lead off his head.

Click to "embiggen"
Then he takes off, running down the path to the front door.  Jack can run like the wind!

He waits for me on the porch, hungry for his breakfast!

There's your Weekly Jack.