While getting some video of Buster our Russian Tortoise enjoying today’s breakfast featuring her first nomtastic hibiscus bloom of the spring, into the frame fluttered by a local butterfly to say hi (click it for the bigger picture):
Fri 17 May 2013
Thu 16 May 2013
At 6AM during our dog walk, while proceeding northbound on Parkman toward Marathon, from the east side of the street we observed the first of two coyotes heading southbound across the street coming up behind an unaware woman walking her small pug on-leash.
I intercepted the coyote before any contact occurred and ran after it to Marathon where it stopped in the middle of the street midway up the hill to the east between Parkman and Occidental:
The second animal, identified as the previously seen “special needs” coyote by its noticeable head tilt and awkward gait, was then found by Susan and Ranger in the yard of a residence on the east side of Parkman between where the first coyote was encountered and Marathon. After flushing it from the foliage it observed us momentarily before proceeding southbound on Parkman toward Bellevue:
Concurrently, the first coyote came westbound on Marathon, crossed Parkman and then Silver Lake Boulevard and was last seen on Marathon heading up the hill west of Vendome.
Thu 9 May 2013
Wed 8 May 2013
There’s velo drama in Northeast Los Anglees, and you know it has to do with bike lanes because that’s the SINGLE MOST GALVANIZING ISSUE to communities across the city nowadays. In this case, it’s the proposed, supported, vetted, approved, and funded plan to add Class II bike lanes on North Figueroa across Northeast Los Angeles.
All was going accordingly until a righteously indignant area mouthpiece orchestrated and staged an anti-lanes campaign citing the complete and total devastation that would be wreaked upon area businesses and stakeholders if any vehicular traffic lanes were sacrificed for dastardly cyclists. The bike community reacted initially with something of a collective “Pfffft!” a bit like the way Gov. Gray Davis dismissed the recall campaign that ended up successfully putting a “Former” before his title and a Schwarzenegger in his chair. And sure enough the rhetoric proved loud enough to gain the traction needed to get the noodle-spined Highland Park Neighborhood Council to reject the proposed, supported, vetted, approved, and funded lanes in favor of an alternative route that, of course, stays off Figueroa, and is ironically as weak as those naysaying councilmembers’ aforementioned backbones.
That in turn has gotten Los Angeles City Councilmen Jose Huizar and Ed Reyes — both of whom who have been very pro-bike in the past — to suddenly backpedal their support and slam on the brakes pending additional input regarding the alternative route.
In short the lanes are in serious danger of being disappeared.
It is entirely similar to the actions taken by the Burbank City Council in the mid-2000s, when they ignominiously caved to resident pressure and outcry (with claims that more bikes would bring greater gridlock — and crime!) and slaughtered a proposed, supported, vetted, approved, and funded route connecting the LA River Bikeway with the Chandler Bikeway.
So you know I sat myself down and tapped those councilmen out a letter, the gist of which is if you guys wanna deny the entire city those bike lanes I’ll still ride there, but when I do I’ll deny the business in your districts my entire wallet. And the point being that the decisions they make not only effect their constituents but those beyond their jurisdictions:
Councilmen Huizar and Reyes,
I am an avid urban cyclist who has ventured all over this city on two wheels. I am disheartened by the tactics used by some in the community against the proposed bike lanes on North Figueroa, and I am dismayed that it is having the desired effect in getting both of you to step back and suddenly qualify your previous support.
Personally, I ride all over the greater Los Angeles and Southern California areas with or without bike lanes beneath me. And if, like the Highland Park Neighborhood Council, you bend to the pressure being exerted to kill these lanes in your districts — lanes previously approved and funded — you can bet for sure I’ll continue to utilize Figueroa through the Northeast area.
But here’s the problem. Axe those lanes and I also guarantee that whenever I’m on those rides, I will make it my own personal mission to purposely avoid doing any business at ANY establishments on those routes throughout your districts.
If I’m dying of thirst coming back from a ride around the Rose Bowl I’ll either quench it somewhere in South Pasadena or wait until I’m west of downtown. If I’m on a ride that’ll leave me hungrier than a bear I’ll either pack a lunch with me or just suck it up through Eagle Rock and eat in Glendale.
It’s not much money for sure, but it’s mine. And I for sure won’t spend it in districts led by purported bike-friendly councilmembers who can so readily backpedal on what is clearly an IMPROVEMENT to the communities they serve.
Do the right thing, gentlemen. Support and build the North Figueroa bike lanes.
Tue 7 May 2013
My iPhone’s weather app is still trumpeting the possibility of a scattered shower or two throughout the day and even into the night, but it seems a remote possibility, any amount of which might be added to our backyard precipitometer would at best be negligible.
So as things stand this morning, the total from what’s been dubbed the “Miracle May” storm (and the first measurable rainfall around these here parts since March 8) that helped firefighters contain the regional conflagrations that were in various stages of control, stands at 1.625 inches. That surprising amount pushed that which hath fully fallen on our Silver Lake backyard this entire rainy season well up past the 20-inch mark — a far cry more than what’s fallen on the city’s official rain catchers.
And not a moment to soon, since that season ends at the end of June, and until yesterday Los Angeles was officially on track to record its fourth driest season since records started being kept back in 1877. Now it’s the sixth most-parched with an official total of 5.84.”
May 5-6: 1.625″
Season Total: 20.695″
Thu 2 May 2013
I was crestfallen Wednesday to find the backyard bushtit nest, so patiently and painstakingly constructed by the adorable little birds, destroyed by scrub jays. That makes two years in a row the jays have swooped in and wreaked their special brand of havoc on my beloved bushies.
And thus I wrote about it on Facebook:
Cursed are the damnable — I say double-dawg DAMNABLE! — scrub jays who for the second consecutive spring have destroyed the nest crafted so diligently by the wee bushtit clan that had spent months making their home in the backyard victorian box tree. Leaving nothing but shreds of nesting material with nary a fragment of eggshell or chick in a wake punctuated by their shrill calls, the jays have retreated to the safe distance of a tree a couple doors down, shrieking in victory.
I inflexibly believe in the intrinsic worth of ALL creatures in the order of things, but nevertheless I have to fight hard the urge to load up my pellet gun, take a position on the roof and rid my neighborhood of a few representatives of these invading raiders who dare trespass agin me and my helpless hardworking bushies.
This morning, I followed up on Facebook, with this:
Yesterday, heartbroken and infuriated, I cursed at the scrub jays who decimated the nest the bushtits had spent months building in the backyard Victorian box tree.
I successfully curbed my righteous impulse to load up the pellet gun and use them for target practice, but that internal battle continues fresh this morning because who did I happen to spy building their own nest in that same tree? The jays!
They should not mistake my mercy for a welcome. With apologies to TLC, of them I sing:
I don’t want no scrub,
A scrub is a bird that can’t get no love from me.
Scrub jays are considered highly intelligent creatures on the whole, but this particular pair isn’t proving that belief. Despite my efforts to flail and hiss and shake the tree and act myself a fool in extending the unwelcome mat, they’ve continued to build the nest taking shape as shown in the following snap (note through the branches and leaves of the tree in the center of the frame the darkened patchwork of twigs about 18 feet up; click it for the bigger picture):
I recognize that one bird’s loss and another’s gain is the way things are and I strongly believe in the natural order and all creatures’ place in it, but by essentially putting so easy a target over my head — both too soon and so close to the scene of yesterday’s carnage — this pair of jays is making it all too easy to for me to question the respect I have to their right to live and instead entertain the notion of sweet nest-destroying revenge in the name of the bushies.
Tue 23 Apr 2013
My friend David and I have made it something of an irregular tradition to walk to Tommy’s for lunch every few months, and schedules conspired to allow us to do that today, joined by his brother-in-law Mark who was in town to participate in Sunday’s CicLAvia.
So after we got our burgers and fries and drinks, we settled into a section of counter near the end, and conversation included my TAP card travails and, of course, CicLAvia, which apparently caught the attention of an elderly gent a few feet away, who approached after I mentioned coming back to downtown via the Blue Line that day.
He stepped toward us saying how he heard me mention the Blue Line and that it’s his firm belief that bikes have no business being brought on the trains.
I held myself back from saying something impolite and instead curiously inquired as to why he was so firmly against the acceptable and encouraged practice. He replied that cyclists already have a form of transportation at their disposal and they shouldn’t be crowding up the train cars.
Wide-eyed at such an idiotic statement, I started to point out that by his logic walking was a form of transportation, so why wasn’t he an equal opportunity hater in feeling the same about all those pesky pedestrians loading up the trains, but realized I was in a battle of wits with an unarmed geezer.
And the fact is, there is a kernel of truth buried deep under his bullshit. MTA rail cars are really not designed to accommodate anything but passengers, and I don’t think they ever will be. One needs to remember that back in the early days of our reconstructed light rail system, bikes were not only allowed on trains during limited time-frame windows, but you actually had to be registered and carry an MTA-issued picture ID card that had to be presented upon demand.
We’ve come a long way since then, baby. But it’s been an uncomfortable integration.
Today sure, a couple cyclists with consideration can position themselves out of everyone’s way, but it’s still awkward, at best. Add more cyclists and compound it with the inconsideration that is too often demonstrated in blocking aisles and doors and seats, and to a degree I can appreciate where this grumpy old man is coming from. I could just imagine him on the Blue Line on Sunday with a train car overloaded with raucous bikes and riders coming to or going from the event, and all he can do is get progressively grumpier as the trip went along.
But instead of commiserating with him, I asked him next if he felt the same about bikes and buses. And he was quick to say they had no place there either. When I mentioned the bikes are stowed outside the bus, that didn’t matter to him. He just shook his head vehemently, spitting out some more generalized negativity that concluded with this doozy:
“Bikes are the reason for everything that’s wrong in this city.”
I stood stunned for a moment, trying somehow to understand how someone could wholesale equate cycling to “everything that’s wrong…” to the city’s struggling economy and to its crime and to its homelessness and to its school drop-out rate, and its gridlock. How does one even begin to counterpunch such a ridiculous haymaker? People with more patience and smarts might know, but for me there is simply no way or reason to continue a discussion or debate with so spiteful an intellect of such a small caliber.
So I didn’t. Instead, I wished real hard to myself that I never be so hateful and stupid about anything if I’m fortunate enough to get to be this kook’s age, while out loud I brought it to his attention that by insulting and demonizing cyclists as a whole he was in fact insulting and demonizing me — to which he replied that he didn’t care and restated that all of us are inherently detrimental to his way of living (or at least what little living he’s got left).
With that clarifying point of order out of the way I then admonished him for making such a despicably baseless judgment and criticism, adding that though I was personally raised not to make such uninformed criticisms, he and his insults were making it hard for me not to formulate one about him. Raising my voice well over his and in no uncertain terms I insisted that in the interest of stopping his senseless jawing so that he could return to gumming the remainder of his Tommy’s burger, he vacate my vicinity as quickly as was physically possible for a man of his years.
That caught him off-balance, and some flustered words fell out of his mouth whose syllables quickly broke apart into gibberish, before he realized we weren’t ever going to be friends and complied with my directive to cease and desist being audibly inane in my specific direction.
David, Mark and I hung around long enough to finish our meals and for my hackles to lay back down, before taking our leave to ruminate on the walk home the fact that no matter the issue, some people will find a way to magnify it out of proportion and hate on it all the harder.