Archive for May, 2006

You might recall my post from the end of April in which one of the waterheaters broke and we almost got super ripped off before getting a much better deal through Home Depot only then to get moderately ripped off with extras added to the bill by the plumbing company that showed up to do the job

In the time that’s passed the new appliances have been working great, but since permits had to be pulled for their installation I’d been waiting for a letter from the plumbers instructing me on how to negotiate the city’s Department of Building and Safety voicemail to schedule an inspection. Well, that letter arrived last week and I called and made my way through the telephone system easily enough to schedule an official visit for today. And sure enough, this morning I got a reminder recorded call telling me that the inspector will be arriving between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. At 1:15 p.m. there he was.

Twenty minutes later I’m out of the basement having said goodbye to the inspector who left me with this:


And in his wake I’m cussing a blue streak because now I’ve gotta call the plumbers and schedule them back out so they can charge us more money to fix what they did wrong so I can call the Building and Safety Department again and schedule another inspection. All because the single-walled vents can’t be less than six inches from any combustible material (which one is, running about four inches below a floorbeam) and they installed a Type B conduit backwards and then connected it to the old Type A pipes that run up the side of the house — and not anywhere near the now-required 12 inches above the roof.

Apparently connecting Type B to Type A is a no-no.

But there is ray of do-it-yourself hope flickering way down this seemingly never ending tunnel of despair. I’m pretty sure I can do this job myself. Not only that but I can do it even better than what the code demands. Check it: all I gotta do is first go get me enough double-walled vent pipe (which can come within’ an inch of combustible material) and replace the single-walled stuff with it. While I’m getting that I’ll get however much Type B pipe I’ll need to run up the side of the house and a foot above the roof as well. Once I’ve installed the double-wall pipe and reoriented the backwards conduit then I’ll swap out the Type A for the Type B and run it vertically up the side of the house a foot above the roof.

And to go above and beyond code, even though I’ll be certain to maintain that one-inch space between the pipe and any flammable material, I’m going to wrap any combustibles in the immediate vicinity in 24-guage sheet metal — which is something the asshat installers could’ve done in the first place with the single-walled pipe!

Repeat after me: ratzafrackin’ muzzafuzzin’ sunzabeeches.

Since I’m still not up to speed in terms of collecting my thoughts or getting a mass of photos from our weekend trip to Death Valley up and online, another brief post with a single snap (by Susan) will be all you get from me.


There I am with my trusty Ibex Monday afternoon at 1,386 feet above sea level on the floor of the Panamint Valley at the end of my 17-mile downhill on Wildrose Road, which began at Mahogany Flats Campground at 8,133 feet. The Panamint Mountains are in the background and I’m pointing to the 11,049-foot Telescope Peak, which is where I had been about 23 hours previously on Sunday.

I still can’t believe it.

In other news: Did ya see the sweet photo of the magnolia blossom I posted on I snapped that this morning. Or howsabout the photo I posted on Flickr of the mommy longlegs and her 50-plus children chilling in the garage that I found this afternoon while emptying the truck of all our camping stuff.

We’re back from a marvelous weekend in Death Valley where yesterday Susan and I and our friend Rachel hiked from the 8,133-foot Mahogany Flats campgound to the top of the 11,049-foot summit of Telescope Peak and back. About five miles in Susan and Rachel decided the 10,000-foot mark was a good place to stop and wait and rest while I went onward to the summit. And I got there, as shown, after making my way up and around 13 switchbacks, past countless glorious and ancient bristlecone pines and over one last steep and slushy snowbank to arrive about 2:30 p.m. I lingered about a half hour before making my way back down to my love and my friend and together we trudged the remaining five miles back down the range to the campground.


Today, I welcomed my 42nd consecutive year of existence with an achingly gorgeous and beautiful weathered morning at the campground. But this time instead of going up, I boarded my mountain bike after we packed up our campsite, and with Susan and Rachel tailing me soared some 17 miles downhill from 8,133 feet at the campground to 1,386 feet on the floor of the Panamint Valley, where it was a lot hotter than from where we’d come.

Without reservation it was my most unique and memorable birthday ever. And of course, I have tons of pix and much more I could say about the hike and the ride and the weekend, but at this point in time I am home and entirely spent and this will have to suffice.

I broke out of my biking commute doldrums today by hopping onto The Phoenix and pedaling 20 miles from Silver Lake north around the horn of Griffith Park across the valley to Encino for a noon dentist appointment, which I arrived for about 10 minutes late. Would’ve been there on time, but I got ambushed on Riverside in Glendale coming past the Equestrian Center by an at-times stiff headwind that never really let up for the remainder of the ride.


I had been planning on extensive blogifications of the journey (the return trip of which included a hop aboard the MTA’s vaunted Orange Line), but most of the pictures I snapped along the way are crap and the only incident of note happened up on Ventura Boulevard just west of the 405 overpass when this machotard in an old topless Scout with a modified noisefucker muffler and a bumper plastered with Marines stickers cut in front of me as if to make a right to get onto the southbound freeway. But instead it turns out he was just trying to thread his way through traffic because when things stacked up in front of him, the asshat wrenched back left to go around it. Trouble was since the quality of the curbside street was questionable and I didn’t really want to be passing all these right turners on their right, I had already done the same thins and was coming around him to pass on his left, forcing him to stop with a jerk lest I become hoodputty.

Well of course this miffed the bastid something good and when he finally got around the hold up and caught roaringly up to me he queried me with “Are you trying to get yourself killed?” To which I yelled “No, I’m just trying to get where I’m going but idiots keep getting in my way!” And then he came back with “Well you oughta be more careful!” And that made me laugh and say “Dude I’ve had far better drivers than you try run me under so you just don’t worry about me and go on and get now why don’tcha!” Then I made some shooing gestures and he gave me this weird look like he as just now realizing I called him an idiot and he raced off deafeningly only to get caught in traffic at the next light whereupon I shot by him and yelled “Semper fi!” He soon passed me again and saluted me back with the standard military-issue middle finger and I just waved.

After the dentist I cruised down Balboa south of the lake and picked up the Orange Line back to the North Hollywood Red Line station. Though I had been intent on heading downtown and dining at Cole’s, when my baby read yesterday my plans to solo to that landmark she said she wanted to go too and so I figured we’d check it out together the following weekend. Instead I exited the subway at Sunset and Vermont and just came home to finish up charging camera batteries and pack get our camping trip groceries.

We leave tomorrow for Death Valley around 9 a.m. so if I don’t have time to post before we go try to make our Memorial Day weekend a truly memorable one, then have a good safe one yourself.

Not a whole lot to report. The big event of the day was to be my first-ever visit to Cole’s Pacific Electric Buffet (I know… what kind of Angelino am I that I haven’t ever been to that historic L.A. eatery?!) but my mom wasn’t up to it so instead we walked down to Cafe Tropical and she had an espresso con leche while I gave their Cuban sandwich a try and regaled her with yesterday’s tale of good samaritanship gang aft aglee.

Other than taking care of some pre-Death Valley trip business, lounging in the hammock and TiVo’ing through last night’s two-hour season finale of Hunh? — I mean Lost — the only other thing I did was as a follow-up to my entry on Buster and World Turtle Day a couple days ago I dove into the blog archives and came up with the posts about the undeniable miracle of not losing Buster back in March of 2004, which you can read here if so inclined.

Or you can just peruse the following snip:

So it will forever be a mystery as to what put Buster over the balcony. Whether it was a sudden interest in what lay out there? Or a sudden push from one of the cats? I will never know.

But how did Buster survive the fall is as big a miracle as the timing of my turn onto Del Mar. Bigger even.

I would guess that from my balcony all the way down to the ground is a good 15 feet. Had Buster dropped all that way to the concrete landing, I don’t care how tough a tortoise you are, there’d be some damage at least — a chipped or cracked shell at the luckiest, but with nothing to cushion a 15 foot freefall, a crushed or broken limb or death would be far more likely.

There wasn’t so much as a scratch on her.

So what happened? One absolute mini-miracle after another (indicated as m1, m2). As best as I can figure, once past the point of no return, Buster did not fall at all out (m1) so much as straight down (m2). And about three or four feet below my balcony floor are these wrought iron rails spaced about six-inches apart that are curved outward at the top and extend about a foot(m3). My theory is that Buster landed on these extensions while falling somewhat parallel to the ground (m4; falling perpendicular to the ground she would have moved right between them) and slid down them without slipping through (m5), coming to rest between them and the other upright metal rails that enclose the garage area (m6). I then offer that at some point either immediately or after struggling to manuever she did fall three feet onto the floor of the garage rather than 8 more feet or so to the concrete walkway outside (m7).

Tomorrow should provide more blog fodder, either here or/and on I have a dentist trip out to Encino and I’m going to make the 17-mile trip out there by bike and the return trip using the MTA’s Orange and Red lines to get me back downtown, specifically 118 E. 6th Street, which just happens to be the street address of Cole’s because I’m jonesinghard for some historic restaurant action… oh yeah, and a french dip sammich.

I’ve been stubbornly holding steady at 218 with occasional visits back up to 220 over the past couple weeks, so I was getting used to the idea that I’d be here a bit longer than expected. Thus it was with a bit of gleeful surprise when an impromptu step upon the platform of truth (otherwise known as the scale) today yielded a result of 216, leaving me but one pound from my second stage goal and waaaaaay crazy ahead of schedule. Let’s put it this way. I originally planned back in January when I was 260 to lose 30 pounds by July 1 and the next 20 by October 1 with the final 15 gone by the first day of 2007. Then when I lost the first 30 plus two more by the end of March and entered second stage territory I kept the original first-stage deadline but opted to shave five pounds off the second stage goal because I thought dropping another 15 in three months was much more realistic than 20. Now I have a solid chance of getting rid of that five in the next five weeks and standing loud and proud before the world an entire 50 pounds healthier when Susan and I take our road trip to Montana and back.

Photo and headline crossposted from


That birthday present from my mom that I wrote about a couple days ago? I put it together this afternoon instead of going to play tennis. Man is it nice. I could spend a lotta zzzzzzz’s here.