Thursday, January 31, 2013

How not to plan your day

"Do these pants make me look fat?"*

So, I was well prepared for my interview. It was scheduled for mid-day. I was going to go into the office, work a few hours, and then head across town for my interview.

I dressed, did my hair -

Oh, yeah. I had a hair appointment yesterday evening. My stylist and I decided we would change my hair - a shorter cut. This morning, after my shower, I had to figure out how to style it.

To resume - I did my hair, put on my make-up, and headed out the door.

There's a basket on the hall table where [The Man I Love] and I put our car keys. I'm usually the first one out the door, but this morning, [The Man I Love] had a breakfast meeting and left early.

We both drive Hondas. My set of keys was not in the basket.

This has happened before - and we've both done it to each other, so I'm not blaming anyone. But I had to find the spare key and use it to drive to work.

When I started the car, I realized I was low on gas. I meant to fill up last night on the way home from the salon, but I'd been so hungry I just decided to get home fast. Even though the warning light was not on, I made a mental note to leave the office early enough to fill up the tank.

A few emails back and forth, and suddenly, oops, where'd the morning go? I put on some lipstick, touched up my hair, went to the ladies room and went out to the car. Don't forget to bring the job description and my notes to study while waiting for the appointment! Forgot to gas up, but, hey, the warning light's not on so I'm good.

No sooner did I merge into traffic on the 10 freeway than the cheerful yellow warning light clicked on.

I made a calculation in my head. How many miles to my exit? What's my car's mileage? Would there be a gas station on that unfamiliar road, or should I get off and find gas - except I wasn't sure which exit would be right....!

I gambled. I could probably make it there, and then worry about gas when the interview was over.

Still, my eyes kept going to the needle, noting it was still above the line.

Got off and headed south on Vermont and I still had half an hour before my appointment time. No problem! There's a Unocal! I pulled in.

The place was full, cars going every way. There was an empty pump but I was pointing the wrong way. I popped it into R to turn around - and someone pulled in! Then I saw someone exit, so I quickly grabbed the spot.

"Cash Only" said a hand-lettered sign. I checked my wallet. A five, two ones and... a twenty!

Into the cashier's office. Just as I stepped in the door, another customer stepped up to the counter. He was a tall, thin, Asian young man - since this was near USC he was probably a student. Definitely a student, I thought. A foreign student.  In halting English and hand gestures, he tried to get instructions for the car wash. The Latino cashier tried to help him through the thickness of the bullet-proof screen, but they were having a hard time communicating. I waited. Patience, I thought. I have twenty five minutes.

Finally he stepped away and I slipped the twenty under the screen. "Twenty on pump 6!" I said.

Twenty got me back up above the halfway mark on my gauge (California gas!), and I continued down the boulevard, located the parking lot, and identified myself to the attendant. As I'd been promised, my name was on a list.

Following the directions on my phone, I headed for the entrance. It was as described, but there were construction machines to dodge, and then one of the lobby doors was blocked off by a worker. I went around him and introduced myself to the receptionist, who called up to announce me.

I sat on a chair and checked my watch. Ten minutes. Sigh, relax.

"Hi. Come right this way." Off to my interview.

*"Delusions of Grandeur" by Rene Magritte, 1967, bronze, at the Getty Museum (No, that's not where I'm interviewing)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

More job search news

Why elephants? Tell you later!
Thank you for all the nice thoughts on my job interview. The one I went to yesterday went OK - I'd rate myself a B+ grade. I don't think I nailed it, but I did OK. We'll see the results soon.

Tomorrow I have another job interview. It is with an outside organization, not within my current organization. It would be a new and very interesting industry, using some of the skills I've gained here but also some skills from earlier times in my career.

It will pay significantly less than what I currently make - but it would be interesting work. And - hey - it's interview practice, if nothing else. I could probably get that B up to an A with enough practice.

Signs of Spring

My morning walk is now brightened with bright yellow, as the acacia trees in my neighborhood come into bloom.

The genus Acacia has some 1300 species. Most of these are native to Australia, but there are acacias native to Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.

The trees in my neighborhood are Acacia baileyana and Acacia dealbata, both Australian species brought to Southern California as ornamental plants.

Click to "embiggen"

When I look across the canyon to the other side, I can see that there are trees in bloom there, as well.

Their blossoms are such a cheerful bright yellow, and look delightfully like little puffs of passementerie fringe, little pompons of bright fiber.

I've written about Acacias several times on this blog - but perhaps it's because the sight of them bursting into bright bloom each year in the cold months always reminds me that springtime is coming.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Job Interview tomorrow

I've got a job interview tomorrow.

It's an interview to rank applicants who passed the test I took a couple of weeks ago. Once the list has been ranked, there are three vacancies to fill. I'm not sure how the three departments are filling their positions. Will the same top three candidates interview for all three departments? Or will departments choose from a larger top-rank list?

The interview will be a "panel" interview with one or more of the panel being people from completely outside our organization. And since it is hard to know which position a candidate will actually compete for, it's hard to research and target your answers directly. I'm studying the job description and thinking about my qualifications in a general sense, how they adapt to various applications.

Anyway - I'm trying to be "up" for my interview tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Afternoon fog

[The Man I Love] and I are both a little worried we're coming down with colds...or flu (knock wood). I'm staying home today in my pajamas.

The day was glorious, however, bright sunshine and clear skies, but at 4:00 in the afternoon, the fog suddenly rushed up the canyon. How strange it is to see the fog moving beneath a bright and clear sky.

This is such a vivid demonstration of how climates and weather are like respiration - the valley breathes in and the moist air of the coast rushes in to sooth the dry lungs of the high inland flats. On another day, at a different time, the dry air of the desert will rush through our canyon, to sere the leaves and grasses on its way to the coast.

This afternoon, when the fog came in, it piled up against the obstruction of the mountain mesa, and soon our whole view was filled with vapor, before the sun set and darkness covered all.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Rain again!

It's raining again!

Maybe this will bring out the wild mushrooms in the park!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bad Boy

He's asleep now
Somebody got himself in trouble today.

Today while Rosa was at our house cleaning, Jack slipped out the front door. Rosa saw him on the street and called him but he just kept going.

She called [The Man I Love] to let him know, but I got home first and and discovered he was gone. I called and whistled and searched, to no avail.

Then, about an hour after Rosa had found him missing, I got a phone call from a neighbor. Jack was at her house, and ready to come home.

She'd come home to find him shut in her next door neighbor's yard. The gardeners had been working there, she said. He must have gone inside the gate, and then when the crew left they'd shut him inside. Our neighbor said he'd been frantic, hearing Rosa's calls and our calls while he was trapped behind the gate.

Minutes after her phone call, he was hurtling down the stairs into our house. Bad Boy! He is all tired out now.


Find some everywhere you look. This was in the window of an antique bookstore in London, off Tottenham Court Road.

What kind of magic will you conjure up today?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Happy belated anniversary, my darling!

So we did it again!

We forgot our anniversary. Our 26th wedding anniversary was Friday, and we didn't remember it until today! We were walking back from our hike when I suddenly remembered, and told [The Man I Love]!

I love going exploring with you!
Who had forgotten it, also!

Of course, we did have a lovely day on Friday. We stayed at home and made homemade barbecue chicken pizza. And we watched movies on TV - I think that was the night we watched "Airplane" for the umpteenth time. It's still hilarious!

I'm sure glad we're relaxed about things like anniversaries!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tuna Canyon left turn

The trail climbs
 Today I returned to Tuna Canyon, and instead of turning right at the fork I turned left and followed the Hearst Tank Mountainway trail.

Click to "embiggen" and see the flowers
This was a steep uphill climb, curving through shady oaks, but relentlessly climbing. At a saddle between two ridges, you could see to Malibu. Here, the first flowers of the early spring showed, the white Buckthorn, or Ceanothus megacarpus, is blooming.

Then the trail climbed once again, and it ended at a broad flat open space that overlooks the ocean and the Los Angeles Basin. From here, you can see the Santa Monica beach and pier, and the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles.

Here, too, is another kind of Topanga magic - a stone labyrinth or spiral maze, creators unknown. Though a little goofy and hippy-ish, in this setting it is charming and magical.

In addition to the stones that make the spiral, people have left beads, shells, and spelled out words in pebbles.

Here at the center of the spiral, a peace sign and beads.

Such a discovery to be made, right here near home. What will you find, in your explorations this weekend?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tuna Canyon walk

The trail begins
My friend P and her dog Lola took Jack and me for a morning walk in Tuna Canyon Park, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

At the fork in the road. To the west, Malibu
Beautiful views of the water and Malibu.

To the east, steep canyons and Catalina Island
It was a perfect morning, clear and bright. After our cold spell, it has warmed, and even at 8:30 in the morning the sun was bright.

Lola on the trail
The trail gives a good workout, especially for Lola's short legs. The wide fire-road is easy to follow, whether walking or biking.

What a beautiful day! I'm so lucky to live here!

Thematic Photographic - Multiples

Carmi at the blog "Written, Inc." posts a photographic challenge each week at Thematic Photographic. This week, the theme is "Multiples."

Carmi writes: "There's a certain appeal to pictures of many of the same thing. Sometimes you can see patterns in them. Or sometimes they all look identical. Or just similar enough to attract the eye. Or different enough to prompt discussion." Share your images at "Written, Inc."

A table for twelve, in a trendy London restaurant/arts venue, set with the classic Eames dining chair, viewed in perspective. Multiples, in a pattern. It's pleasing to look at. Right?

Friday, January 18, 2013

West LA landmark

Click to "embiggen"

Crapi Apartments on Overland Avenue in West LA.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thematic Photographic - Multiples

Carmi at the blog "Written, Inc." posts a photographic challenge each week at Thematic Photographic. This week, the theme is "Multiples."

Carmi writes: "There's a certain appeal to pictures of many of the same thing. Sometimes you can see patterns in them. Or sometimes they all look identical. Or just similar enough to attract the eye. Or different enough to prompt discussion." Share your images at "Written, Inc."

Click to "embiggen"

A thickly planted garden bed brings together in one shot a multiplicity of the striking and bold flowers of the perennial thistle, Eryngium giganteum. This is the variety also known as "Miss Wilmott's Ghost", for its eerie silvery bracts, but perhaps also because the legendary English gardener, Ellen Wilmott, loved it so much she surreptitiously sprinkled other peoples' gardens with its seeds, leaving a legacy that would multiply after her death.

These plants thrive at the Thames Barrier Park in south-east London.  Multiples - with bees!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Throne of Weapons

Click to "embiggen"
"Throne of Weapons" - Cristovao Canhavato (Kester) in Maputo, Mozambique, 2001

This is an artwork displayed in the British Museum. The accompanying note reads:

"This Throne is made from decommissioned weapons collected since the end of Mozambique's civil war in 1992. During the war, seven million guns - none of them made in Africa - poured into the country. In 1995 Bishop Dinis Sengulane initiated a project called "Arms into Tools." The Mozambican people were encouraged to swap their weapons for agricultural, domestic, and construction tools. Artists then turned the decommissioned weapons into sculptures.

This is a contemporary artwork, but thrones and stools are traditionally symbols of power and prestige in Africa. They are also symbols of discussion and debate."

A Throne made of guns, for those who would exalt and worship weapons. Mr. LaPierre, your chair awaits you. Sit on it.

Is this any way to do business?

LA Grafitti
At work, we're working with a local businessman who is collaborating with another local business. We're providing a venue and services for a short-term project of theirs.

Business A is a repeat customer of ours. We've been doing business with him for the past 10 or more years. The final result of the project is wonderful. The methods used to get there....not so great.

Business B is Business A's most recent collaborator. Over the years, we've seen Business A work with other collaborators, and, in some cases, have been witness to the rather ugly dissolution of the partnership.

This year was not much different than most. We've had to argue with Business A; negotiate the terms of the contract. Because he's had the ear of the boss of our parent organization, we've allowed him privileges that we normally don't - like breaking certain deposit payments into installments. We've had a difficult time finalizing details, and have had to hound his insurance provider for the correct documents, but in the end, we've managed to stay on top of things. We're only two days away from the unveiling of the project.

The head of Business B just came into my office, looking all serious, and asked to sit down privately. He had a request. Would it be possible, he asked, to change the name on the contract from Business A to Business B?

I could tell he was geared up to explain and plead, and provide all kinds of justification for what he considered a rather startling request.

I think he was a little surprised when I said, "Sure, we can do that. Here's what I need from you...." And I provided him with some sample documentation.

You see, Business A has done this before. Oh, yes, and much more than this. We've been involved in so many complications of his.  Hiding from process servers. Insufficient payments. Once, we had to collect on a past-due bill after he stiffed the Police Department. We've already learned to accept only cashiers' checks from him. Wonder what it is this time?

The one good thing about my job going away is that I'll never have to deal with this guy again!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

You would never know

Unless you looked, that I am wearing an incredible pair of socks today!

Let's see if these can keep my socks from getting mixed up with [The Man I Love]'s sock drawer!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Date night

A sidecar at Musso's
 Last night we went out to the movies and then dinner. A date night!!

We saw "Argo" - which I highly recommend. Then we had a dinner date with a friend from out of town. He was staying in Hollywood, right at Hollywood and Vine, so what better recommendation for a Hollywood experience than Musso and Frank Grill? We called and made a 7:00 pm reservation.

The perils of LA traffic are predictable, yet sometimes even the best of us forget. We took Santa Monica Boulevard from the Westside to Hollywood, and at Wilshire we got snarled in the lane closures and congestion near the Beverly Hilton for the Golden Globes Awards. Luckily it was only the set-up day on Saturday and not the show!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

California cold spell

Our house
It's cold here in Southern California, and for those of you who live in really cold places, what that means is that we have weather like yours. It was 22 degrees Fahrenheit overnight, and it's expected to stay that way for another couple of days.

Unlike people who live in more northern climes, we feel the cold more in Southern California, and while you might think that's because we're pampered, thin-skinned wimps, there's another reason. Our houses are simply not made for cold weather.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Take your dog to work day

Today Jack came to work with me. Here he is waiting for the postman.
Live-blogged on my I-phone.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thematic Photographic - On the water

Carmi at the blog "Written, Inc." posts a photographic challenge each week at Thematic Photographic. This week, the theme is "On the water."

Water has played an important part in Carmi's life. What about you? Share your images at "Written, Inc."

Click to "embiggen."
Rivers are such an important part of human civilization. Estuary, highway, food source, power source - human beings have clustered at the river's edge since the beginning of time. Here in one of the world's mightiest cities in 2009, we rode a water taxi on its still-vital river.

You know what city it is, don't you?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Happy birthday to the London Tube!

The escalator down to the Piccadilly Line
Today is the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, or "the tube."

I love subways - something about a magical train underground that whooshes you from place to place without dealing with traffic seems great to me. I spent 4 years living in New York City during its dirtiest and most dire years, and rode the subway everywhere I needed to go.

I love exploring Los Angeles' small light rail system - some of it underground and some overground. I liked using Seattle's Bus Tunnel. In every city I visit - from Chicago to Edmonton - if there's a subway I like to try it. The Paris Metro. The London Underground.

Happy Birthday to the Tube!

Adventures in Job Searching

Today I participated in an activity that all too many Americans have participated in since the downturn of the economy - I took a qualifying exam for a job.

This was for a position in a public agency, and it was the kind of exam that uses a computer scan for grading; the old "fill in the bubble with a Number Two pencil" kind of exam.

There were over a hundred applicants. We all sat at tables in a big room, and as the test booklets were handed out, we were warned not to open the booklet until instructed.

Let's just say that the experience took me back to high school. There were questions about grammar and spelling, questions about logic, problem-solving questions, and - of course - math.

"Mr. Jones gets a monthly salary of $4,560. If he gets a 3.2% pay raise, what will his monthly salary be?" If his employer cuts his hours by 10%, what will his monthly salary be?"

 "If it takes a team of 7 people 9 days to do a job, how many days would it take a team of 3 people?" Ummmm.....I'm not even sure how to start figuring it out! Should I just pick one of the multiple-choice answers that seems right? Should I skip it and come back to it?

Moving on, I'm given a scenario of 8 workers who must be scheduled for shifts, and each worker has conditions that must be met - worker A can only work in the afternoon, worker B must share a shift with worker C, and worker C can only work on alternate Tuesdays. How many workers will be available on Thursday next?

Choose the sentence that contains a grammatical error. Read sentence A. Then choose a sentence that would restate it in a better way - including "d. none of the above."

There I was, staring at the bubbles on the test page, gripping my pencil, sweating and twisitng my feet together under the desk, writing on scratch paper (provided) and erasing furiously. I felt suddenly thirteen years old again.

The other applicants were all ages, all ethnicities. Some were dressed in suits and wore ties; others more casually. Some were very young, fresh out of college, and others were older, with graying hair. One man near me wore sagging jeans and a sweatshirt. Still, I glanced at him suspiciously. Was he better at math than I am?

Two and a half hours were set aside for the test, and I finished in about two hours. I went back and checked over my math questions - there were only 20 - and reworked the ones I was uncertain about. But, seriously, in today's workplace, who does math by hand?

When was the last time you were made to feel like you were back in high school?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Thematic Photographic - On the water

Carmi at the blog "Written, Inc." posts a photographic challenge each week at Thematic Photographic. This week, the theme is "On the water."

Water has played an important part in Carmi's life. What about you? Share your images at "Written, Inc."

Click all photos to "embiggen"
 The water is all around you in Venice, Italy. The city rises up from the lagoon; the broad canals serve as roadways for transport both public and private, and in the neighborhoods, narrow waterways route quiet boat traffic.

Here, we've pulled away from the city out into the lagoon, on the vaporetto from the Fondamento Nuove stop, heading toward the islands of Murano and Burano.

The Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta detta I Gesuiti - Church of Santa Maria Assunta -  is silhouetted against the sky. The saints and angels atop the white stone facade strive and reach upward, wind-blown and bristling above the red tile roofs, still visible as we pull away from the city.

We are off to the islands.

Here the vaporetto's wake sluices the ruins of some medieval building off the island Madonna del Monte.

Fishermen try the quiet waters off Sant 'Erasmo.

In Venice, being "on the water" is just like being anywhere else.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Back to work!

Grafitti sign left along Regent's Canal, Bethnal Green, London

I'm back at work, and back to the task of job searching.

Before we went to London, I hired a temporary worker to replace one of my colleagues, who'd found a transfer position. We interviewed people who were part of a pool of temporary workers used by my large bureaucratic organization - they provide temporary labor to the many departments here. We were specifically instructed to consider this pool of workers before we considered people from outside the organization.

I have to tell you that my expectations were initially low for filling the position. I did not think we'd get a very good person. However, I was surprised. First of all, these workers are hungry. They have been circulating in our organization for several months, and are eager to learn all the inside skills that make them valuable. Second, these workers are very practiced at job interviews. They are constantly interviewing, whether for some of the rare permanent positions that open up, or for all the temporary assignments that ebb and flow in our organization.

We offered the position to R., a very poised young woman who knocked it out of the park, interview-wise. She started work last Thursday; I gave her a tour of the building and introduced her to her new colleagues; then I began training her in her new duties.

These duties include working in our arcane financial software - an overview of our budgetary process - and a broad overview of our business model and the day-to-day flow of tasks. She stayed with me, and I think she's going to be great. She's very professional, hits all the right notes, and is eager to learn.

On Friday, just before she ended her shift, her phone, stowed away in the back of her desk, buzzed. She apologized, and asked me if it was OK to check it. I nodded.

It was our organization's HR department. She made the short list for a permanent position with another department. Could she make an interview appointment Monday (today) at three?

She was very embarrassed. I told her not to worry - I understood. Our position was temporary, and it was to be expected she was also applying for permanent positions. I told her we could adjust the schedule so she could make the interview,  and suggested that she cite the training we'd just completed as her experience using the financial software.

Today we worked some more, and she did well. I let her have a half hour breather before her interview. She returned feeling optimistic. The department said they'd have a decision by the end of the week. If they don't offer it to her, then the person they do choose must be awesome!

Meanwhile.....I've sent out a bunch of job applications to outside organizations, with no response. I've applied for a transfer position within my own organization, but it's for a more junior position than the one I already have. I'm supposed to take an exam for it on Wednesday - I have never had to take a "test" for a job before, and it's a little intimidating. What if I fail to qualify for a job that's actually a demotion for my current job?

My new hire is really impressive - maybe she should be training me?

Cellar magic

A glass of Gordon's sherry
One of the London places I'd longed to revisit was a dark, secret wine cellar we learned about on our 2009 trip. Gordon's Wine Bar is easy to overlook if you don't know what you're looking for. But this unassuming little wine shop has been in business since 1890, although the building's history goes back much further than that.

The wine shop is on the ground floor. The bar is in the cellar. We'd gone before late on a hot summer night. This time, it was a rainy winter day and lunch time, and when we came down the steep and narrow stairs, the lunchtime buffet was still being served.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Super sausages

Although Wurstkuche is the invention of two USC business grads, it's a pretty simple idea. It's a hot dog  and beer place.

You line up at the counter and order your choice of sausage from the menu. You can get fries with that. You can also choose the garnish for your dog, and your choice of dipping sauce for your fries. The beer selection is a beer-lover's dream; Belgian and German beers both on draft and bottled.

Pay for your meal and then find a place to sit in the large dining room down the long dark hallway - communal tables with benches, a few smaller tables, and a bar can accommodate some two hundred diners, and it's always busy.

There's almost always a line at the counter, and the helpful staff takes your beer order while you wait - and delivers it, so you can sip your suds while you wait - and decide what kind of sausage to order.

In addition to the beer selection, the draw here is the inventive variety of sausage. There are over twenty varieties, from the common kielbasa to the exotic crocodile andouille. There are vegetarian sausages as well as sausages made from duck, lamb, bison, rabbit and even rattlesnake.

We ordered and then found a free table by the windows. A folded steel artifact, painted in red and stenciled with our order number guided the server to us when our meal was ready.

I went for a kiebasa with caramelized onions and sweet peppers, while [The Man I Love] chose duck and bacon sausage with jalapeno, and hot peppers instead of sweet for his garnish.

We split a large order of fries, which were amazingly good. Belgian-style double-fried, they were hot and crispy and held up well as they cooled, without getting soggy. We had a little pot of curry ketchup and another of chipotle aioli for dipping. I loved the aioli; the ketchup just tasted like regular ketchup that had been given a shake of curry powder.

Big squeeze bottles of mustard in many varieties were arrayed on the tables, and patrons swapped and borrowed them with casual cheer and good nature.

My kielbasa was good - porky and juicy with a nice snap to the casing. The onions and peppers were almost too much, and I raked some of them off with my fingers and ate them like a separate amuse-bouche. The top-split bun was nice, too; warm and with a nice yeast-baked taste, but not overwhelming or too hard.

And the beer! Wurstkuche doesn't include wine on its menu, although the counter staff said you could order it at the bar in the dining area. I'd been enjoying English cider during our London trip, so I was intrigued by a Belgian witbier fermented with apples, called Floris Apple Ale. It had an extraordinary apple-y aroma and flavor - a bit sweet but refreshing.

Apple ale on the left, Tripel Karmeliet on the right

[The Man I Love] had a Tripel Karmeliet, which he said was delicious.

 The clientele is equally exotic, exhibiting a finely tuned hipster aesthetic befitting Wurstkuche's location in the downtown Arts District. The decor is brick, black, and angular. Tattooes, trilby hats, tortoiseshell spectacles - make up the fashion statement here. It's clearly a young clientele - the picnic benches and the loud music are aimed at a young demographic.

Even so, there were some families with kids there - young hipster families, of course, but kids and hot dogs are a universal combination, even when Dad can have his with a Belgian tripel draft and Mom's having her french fries with a white truffle oil glaze.

3rd and Traction, condos and street art. Click to "embiggen"
This neighborhood was once a dark and somewhat dangerous place, frequently by pioneering artists working in rough warehouses, but now the brickwork and garage doors are festooned with signs advertising luxury "loft" condos, and the warehouse walls are colorful with street art.

Just across Alameda is Little Tokyo and MOCA's Geffen Contemporary branch. The Southern California Institute of Archtecture - SciARC - is located just a block or two away.  This artsy and trendy milieu puts its stamp on a place like Wurstkuche, which probably has something to do with its success, drawing people from elsewhere in LA to check out the same.  Still, at its heart it's just a great place to grab a hot dog and a beer.