I see that Horton Plaza has a section of parking for pregnant women. As a male, if I park there, will the cops (or mall cops) treat this the same way they would if I parked in the handicapped spots? And if my girlfriend parks there, will they make her pee on a stick for verification? I mean, what if she’s only two weeks pregnant?
— J.B. Parks, downtown
Courtesy. That old, dead concept courtesy. Why, as a man, would you even be worrying about this? You drive up, read the sign (This space reserved for pregnant women), you check yourself out and decide you’re not a pregnant woman, and you drive on. You slightly inconvenience yourself for the benefit of another. Courtesy. Do you have to be threatened with an expensive parking ticket in order to follow a polite suggestion? The answer to your question is, no, you won’t get a fat fine for parking in a pregnant ladies’ space. Pregnant women do not have any special standing in law as handicapped people do, so no special laws are written for them. The spaces are reserved by the mall ownership as a courtesy to a special group of shoppers. You can flagrantly ignore the signs and the only punishment you might suffer is the angry glares of people who didn’t park in the pregnant spaces or maybe a pummeling with the purses of pregnant women who couldn’t park there because you did. Non-pregnant women, of course, can park there with impunity, since no one is likely to be nosy enough to ask what’s going on or make them pee on a stick in the parking lot.
Hey there, Matt:
When I was a young, troublesome rapscallion, one of my favorite destructive pastimes was to throw rocks at wasps’ nests. I discontinued these little adventures after the wasps finally caught up with me one summer afternoon and sent me off to the emergency room. My question is, what exactly are wasps’ nests made out of? Could it be wasp feces? Or do they just go down to the local Wasp Depot for overpriced supplies?
— Luscious Periwinkle, University Heights
Wasps aren’t a common Southern California urban buglet. They’re mostly found in mountainous areas and foothills, so maybe some explanation is required here. The nests of the wasps you will find locally (paper wasps, yellow jackets) look like irregular paper balloons (though yellow jacket nests are built underground or in crevices). Paper wasps prefer the eaves of your house. Bees and mud dauber wasps build nests from mud that they pick up and smoosh onto the growing structure. Paper wasps and yellow jackets scrape shavings from old fences, weathered telephone poles, any disintegrating wooden thing. And sometimes the odd paper bag or cardboard box in a fine example of natural recycling. Then they hang out chewing the shavings for a while, mixing them well with wasp spit. When they have an appropriately soft and sticky ball of pulp in their mouths, they head for the nest and spread the stuff onto the ballooning construction with their mandibles and legs. So the nests really are made of a form of paper — spat on, softened, squished, and compacted wood pulp.
Every now and then I will get solicitations from various religious or political organizations with a “suggested donation” to purchase their books or DVDs. They place a suggested price on it, but isn’t it true that if it is a donation, I can simply send one cent and by law they are supposed to send me the item? I’m not cheap, just thrifty in these hard economic times.
— Paul in Recession
A suggestion is just what it sounds like. Just a thought, a small hint. No one is holding a gun to your head or threatening to take you to small claims if you don’t send the full amount and demand your DVD. They’re just hoping enough people won’t want to look like cheapskates and will opt for at least the suggested amount. But I guess you can resist that kind of emotional blackmail.
Why do some old apartment buildings call themselves the Such-and-Such Arms? Like the Windsor Arms or the Johnson Arms? What are arms, besides the obvious?
— Madison Arms, Hillcrest
Arms, as in coat-of. The family crest. Tradition began with English tavern/hostels, often on a duke’s or baron’s land. To honor the landlord, the innkeeper would put the family crest on the sign and call the place the Smitherton Arms or whatever the duke’s name was. Emigrants to the U.S. had no local dukes, but they made up their own version of the tradition to add a touch of class (British-style) to their drinking or sleeping establishment.