The L.A. Report Ė Part 16



Hey Everybody,


This report is a bona fide ďLA ReportĒ because Iím finally fully back there!


In August last year, after a year and a half in Madison, Wisconsin, I found a programming contract at an insurance company in Irvine, California.It was still pretty far from my condo in Sherman Oaks (60 miles) so to avoid a 2-hour commute each way, I rented a bedroom during the week from a retired guy and went home every weekend.The guy I rented from was super nice.He had a cute little white Cockapoo dog and I would play tug-of-war with him and take him for a walk if David was late getting home, etc.


Irvine is in Orange County, just south of L.A. County, but it some ways, it seems worlds away.Orange County is even more expensive than L.A. County.The median price for a home Ė before the market collapsed a few years ago Ė was something like $650,000, while L.A. was something like $550,000.These days theyíre down to merely exorbitant figures of $445,000 and $350,000, respectively.Iím way under water in my condo; the value is down to around $280,000 but I owe $345,000.Eventually the value should get back up there but itíll probably take several years.For now, I guess itís not a problem unless I want to sell or refinance.


Everything in Orange County is immaculate and new or new-looking.All of the lawns are meticulously groomed and the buildings, streets and parking lots are spotless.Most of the major local streets are divided and the speed limit is 50 or 45.The population is even more ethnically diverse than L.A.; the majority of the minority is Asian, mostly Chinese.At least it seemed that way to me.


My Sunday night drives down there at about 8:30 were not congested so I was able to make it down there in about an hour.I would get to Disneyland about 9:25, which is when the fireworks start, so I got to see them almost every Sunday night for 2 or 3 minutes.Coming home on Friday night was a different story, however.Even though I was going the opposite direction of most of the traffic, it still took between 90 minutes and two hours to get back.


In May, I got lucky again and found a programming contract with Union Bank in L.A.Itís 27 miles from Sherman Oaks but itís mostly a reverse commute so it takes less than an hour to get there (not bad by L.A. standards).There are some stop-and-go sections but itís not like that all the way - in fact, I can get up to 80 m.p.h. on two stretches.


Now I can sleep in my own bed every night, not just weekends. Iím back in the swing of things with contra dancing, hiking, friends, the Getty museum, golf, the beach.I filled my hummingbird feeder a couple weeks ago and got hummingbirds in just a few days.But I wonít be getting any cats until my employment situation stabilizes.Iíve gotten involved with Ė a Web-based organization that has a myriad of special interest groups you can join for free, from Astrology to Zoos, and everything in between - like walking, poker, hiking, yoga, dancing, photography, singles, etc. Ė you name it.Iíve been to two word games (Scrabble, Boggle, Bananagrams, etc.) events and one Charades one.


Do I miss anything about Wisconsin?Yes, I miss seeing my sister and brother and their families, my aunt and cousins, a few friends I made, going to Minneapolis to see old friends, fall colors and fireflies.


I played golf on Christmas Day.The course was in Griffith Park, where they have the annual Holiday Light Show.So here I am playing golf in 70Ėdegree weather with Christmas music playing and Christmas lights just coming on, with three Asian guys who hardly spoke English.Very surreal.


I havenít gotten back into acting yet Ė I felt like I should continue to concentrate on my ďrealĒ job for awhile.But I intend to soon.In fact, I just reactivated one of my casting notice Web subscriptions.


My MS is still (knock on wood) about the same - pretty mild.I lost my health insurance in April 2009 so I havenít been taking that expensive drug since then but so far (knock on wood again) it doesnít seem to have hurt me much.I do have insurance now but itís one of those crappy policies that hardly pays for anything.Iím still running 18 miles a week so Iím incredibly fortunate.I ran a 10K in December and plan to do some more this year.


My last L.A. Report was almost 2 Ĺ years ago but then, I didnít have much to report.Hopefully, my next one will be sooner.