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25 September, 2005

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Not in much of a picture taking mood today I'm afraid. But I couldn't resist this shot of people flying through the air in the Civic Center subway station. They also occasionally make whistling sounds.

25 September, 2005

Day 72. This was my last full day in Los Angeles and I had made plans to meet up with my friend Mojo. John had to head back to San Diego so we went over to Union Station to find him a train. I'd never spent as much time in Union Station as I had during this trip and I got to be very impressed by its architecture. Plus there were a lot more trains passing through than I originally thought. Still not nearly enough though.

I gave Mojo a call and he said he'd drive over to the train station from wherever he was. John and I hung out in the station for about a half hour waiting for his train to start boarding. I don't know what it is about this station in particular but there are always people here with a tremendous amount of luggage who look like they've been here for days. How late could these trains possibly be? Or are the people just showing up exceptionally early? One day I hope to find out.

While Union Station looks quite nice, it's lacking the activity found in most major train stations. Maybe it's different during rush hour but in all the times I've seen it, it seems relatively quiet. Train stations should never be quiet. What a contrast to something like Shinjuku. I wondered how Los Angeles would handle that kind of activity. Maybe someday.

I walked John to his track and as his train was pulling out Mojo called from the parking lot. My good luck in timing was continuing.

Mojo has this awesome two-seater convertible which we drove around in the streets of Los Angeles for a while. It's a whole lot of fun to drive in this city with a cool looking car and the roof down. And Mojo really knew how to handle that car for maximum velocity, turning radius, and the like. This is the kind of town where such a vehicle is appreciated.

We stopped in the Korean part of town and went to this large and crowded restaurant with all sorts of Asian dishes. It was a section of the city I'd never been in before. Yet another surprise from Los Angeles.

I found out that Mojo had become somewhat of an expert on fighting traffic tickets. It seems his cool car was something of a magnet for them so he had to learn how to beat the system if he didn't want to be deluged with tickets forever. By simply going to traffic court and observing, he was able to learn a great deal and with that knowledge not only was able to beat three tickets he had gotten but also was able to help a number of other people get out of theirs. He was really able to get inside the head of the ticketing cops and see just where the weaknesses in their cases were. He managed to play on the biases of a judge. He saw how to make a cop get defensive and thus lose his case. Plus he discovered all sorts of bureaucratic tricks and maneuvers that seem to work a great deal of the time. A lot of the stuff he told me only applies to California but all that means is that every state has a trick of its own if you take the time to learn it.

This is the kind of shit that always intrigues me: When you look at a situation that everyone thinks they understand and which purports to have certain limitations and then someone comes along and figures out how to completely manipulate the system and gets it to work for them. Could anything better define what hacking is all about?

I didn't think I was going to spend the better part of the night talking about how to beat traffic tickets but it really is fascinating to learn and theorize about all this stuff. If you have the confidence to just jump into something, there's nothing you can't make some sort of dent in.

Of course we talked about other things like Mojo's work on "Battlestar Galactica" which I've now finally been convinced to check out. Special effects for the next episode were rendering even as we spoke. And that was only one of his projects. Hearing about all this activity was like having an energy drink. I felt really inspired to work on more things. Which I guess is a good way to feel in tinsel town.

Throughout the evening we had been wandering from place to place and driving through the streets. I almost expected Mojo to get a ticket so he could demonstrate to me how the system worked. We went to the top of a hotel with a terrific view of Los Angeles and sat in a revolving restaurant for a while. That was where I was to learn a very valuable lesson.

I had my video camera with me in anticipation of getting some footage for the movie. But I no longer had it when we left the hotel. And it wasn't just a simple matter of forgetting it. I hadn't lost or left anything behind during this entire trip. When I got up to leave it wasn't there which is why I didn't pick it up or even remember it.

As soon as I sat down at the table and put my camera on the floor I had already lost it. Unbeknownst to me, that part of the floor was stationary while our table was moving very slowly. So throughout our entire stay at the revolving restaurant my camera was in effect passing by everyone in the place. It probably passed me a few times too without my ever noticing it. I guess nobody else noticed it either because we were able to find it later in the evening once I realized that I had forgotten all about it. But I'm sure all sorts of things are misplaced in this manner. Next time I'm in a revolving restaurant, I'm going to keep an eye out for all of the various objects that may be silently revolving without their owners' knowledge.

The night ended and it was time to think about resuming the eastward journey tomorrow. I still haven't made up my mind on whether I was going to stay in Chicago at all which is as far as the train from Los Angeles went. Amtrak is such a ripoff compared to all of the other trains I've been taking. It would actually be cheaper to stay in a hotel for a week than to have a closet sized room for one night on the train. I'll make the final decision tomorrow.