Goodbye L.A.


Fair warning: departing from most of my writing, this post has nothing to do about physics or being a grad student.

Today I hopped on a plane in LAX and flew to Washington D.C. via Denver. (I flew on Frontier Airlines, a Denver-based company with spacious cabins and cute animals painted on their planes.) Aside from some trouble trying to keep my luggage under 50 pounds each and a 30 minute delay, things went very smoothly. From what I hear from some of the other Marshall scholars, the struggle to shave luggage weight was universal.

While I waited in the terminal, I was curious about the extent to which altitude might affect the weight of my luggage. My order of magnitude estimation was that the possible deviation is less that 0.2%, though I haven’t checked this. I’m not used to making those kinds of estimates and the practice was the only thing I could do to keep me from tearing my hair out in boredom. (I stashed a few back issues of Symmetry and Seed magazines, but those are reserved for the trans Atlantic flight.)

Anyhoo, as I flew over the Pacific Ocean for the last time in a while (we quickly turned around to fly east) and watched Manhattan Beach in the sunrise, I thought about the things I’d miss from Los Angeles. Here’s a subset of my list:

  1. The Los Angeles Lakers. Though their most promising days are in the past, I enjoy the current ‘underdog’ team much more than I liked the overblown drama of the later championship teams. And yeah, the NBA is more glitter than game, but I’m fine with that, too.
  2. The 3rd Street Promenade and Santa Monica Pier. Santa Monica is to LA what Berkeley is to San Francisco, though it’s a little cleaner and yuppie-filled. 3rd street is my favorite place in Southern California, you can’t beat the ambiance (especially during the holidays), street performers, street residents, etc. My favorite little-known spot: the aquarium under the boardwalk. Below, a view of an Iraq war memorial set up daily on the beach as seen from the pier:
  3. Hot Dog on a Stick. It’s really just a deeper-fried corn dog with a super-secret (and super-tasty) batter. However, replace the hot dog with american cheese and the resulting “cheese on a stick” is pure beach boardwalk bliss. Of course, it also uses up most of your daily recommended allowance of saturated fat and such. The “veggie on a stick” is a healthier alternative that still tastes delicious. And don’t forget that order of cherry lemonade.
  4. The beach. I’ll miss sandy beaches that you can jog/skate/bike along (the Santa Monica bike path is quite scenic). LA’s beaches are great for people watching; set out at the right time and one might actually believe that LA is full of the sun-tanned, bleach-blonde surfers and bikini-clad women that the rest of the world would believe. But, of course, there much more to LA than meets the eye. For example, I wouldn’t actually get into the water.
  5. Palm trees. They’re not native to LA, but they’re an icon of the landscape. Speaking of landscapes, the view from the Getty Center is quite nice.

Time is short for blogging these days (we’ve got a busy orientation schedule), but I’ll close with one last photo from Johnny Rockets on the Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade, my last ‘American’ milkshake:

*-the use of the word ‘last’ in the preceding post refers to the next two years only.

One Response to “Goodbye L.A.”

  1. 1 Tony (Shih-Arng)

    Hello Flip,

    My name is Shih-Arng (Tony), and you may remember me as one of the sophomore kids struggling in Physics262 this year, or from Physics 121.

    If you have time, I have some Stanford physics coursework questions to ask you, and I was wondering if you can give me your email. My email is:

    tonypan at


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