Archive for May, 2008

First Look: Upstairs

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

With our tenant Joe’s unexpected and sudden demise almost two weeks ago and the subsequent cleaning out of his belongings being completed by his brother yesterday I finally got a chance to get up there and take a good look around.

Susan I had initially planned on cleaning it up and renting it out for at least double if not near triple what the rent had been (Joe’d lived here since 1986), but on further review we’ve decided not to have to bother with all that and instead go ahead with our ultimate plan of reclaiming the space to the house by reconnecting the first floor to the second with an interior staircase and turning the 3 rooms, 2 half-baths and sliver of a kitchen up there into a master suite.

Flickr photoset of those thumbnails is here.

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It’s gonna be a long, expensive process but so worth it to have the house all to ourselves and so much sooner than we’d expected.

Finding The Bright Side

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

It’s disgusting that I went into the office yesterday at 2 p.m. to get caught up on work I’d been putting off until the last minute, and didn’t emerge to come home until 6:35 a.m. this morning. That’s right: 16.5 hours. No sleep, unless you count the 45 minute pass-out on the floor of my office because I couldn’t sit in my chair another second.

The good news is I’m decidedly not at all as behind as I was 16.5 hours earlier, and the bright side of all this is that I got home in about 23 minutes because the 405 to the 10 to the 110 to the 101 looked like this  the whole dang way:

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FTW!

Cactus Pad Update

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

Back in early April I turned my backyard spotlight on the bud that had sprouted from a one of three dismembered cactus pads that I’d found last summer and thunked into some soil.

Immediately after that first post there was some drama I never reported about. See, I moved the pot atop a fence post so that it could get more exposure to the sun and not long after that — maybe a few days or a week — damn if the pot hadn’t been knocked over into the neighboring yard, either by cat or squirrel or wind.

Peering over the fence down into the out-of-reach abyss where the pot was still intact but the cactii were strewn about it, my first thought was that unless I wanted to trespass into that backyard (which I didn’t) I’d just have to reconcile that my cactus dreams weren’t meant to be. I was appropriately bummed.

Then the next day, I got out of my wahmbulance and MacGuyver’d myself a trespass-free solution. Using the long arm of an old tree-branch trimmer I tied the pooper scooper to it and also knotted a long piece of twine from the handle of the scooper with hopes of being able to extend it to the ground on the other side of the fence and retrieve the pot and pads by pulling the twine and opening/closing its poop-scooping jaws.

Well it worked for all three cactus parts, but the pot proved to be too large and heavy for the scooper to handle (I’d later retrieve it when I opted to trespass into that yard after the incident with our cat Jiggy and the baby opossum that turned out to be a baby skunk).

Though I wasn’t sure if the fall and the prolonged exposure hadn’t damaged the pads, I still went ahead and re-plunked them into a larger pot of soil, placing it on the ground and surrounding it with some heavy-duty garden wire.

And dang if all three hearty pads didn’t rebound magnificently. As you can see below in the upper left, the first bud has turned into a prickly juvenile pad of its own, and the other two smaller pads are now hosting growing buds, too:

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Amazing!

I’m Too Old For Such Things

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

If straight-up, no-frills urban cycling is a drug, then I’d liken it to marijuana, not only because a large segment of so-called “society” wants to keep it stigmatized and its purveyors negatively stereotyped, but also because of late radical anarchistic bike rides have begun to take place because apparently the high one gets just from a bike commute or a Midnight Ridazz ride isn’t enough for some and so has sent them in search of a stronger rush.

I’m talking about yesterday’s freeway ride — the second in which a group of renegades who ride under the name “Criminanimals” entered the gridlocked 10 heading east. Pedaling through the traffic they transitioned to the 405 North then exited.

At first glance this seems like a really cool thing the really cool kids did. But me being a stodgy codger I second-glanced and came to my own personal conclusion that my little two-wheeled addiction is good enough for me and I don’t need to seek thrills of that nature. That’s a roundabout diplomatic way of saying I crunched the risk v. reward numbers and came away calling bullshit.

The first ride took place a couple/three weeks ago and was a success in that no one got dead, injured, ticketed or arrested. Word, pix and vids of it spread around the internest and among the various cycling groups and it was enough to generate a lot of woohooing and bring about an encore, and that too apparently and thankfully went off without a hitch as well — not counting a CHP officer’s involvment.

Several people who I’m acquainted with joined in the madness and several other people I’m acquainted with were in support of it and lamented not being able to attend. I’m not going to judge anyone for their decisions or endorsements, but I am going to call the events out as stunts that have the potential to do more harm than good, not only to the bodies involved, but also the efforts that strive to legitimately bring bikes out of the gutter pan and into traffic lanes.

One might say that’s a bit hypocritical of me, since I’ve illegally corked my share of intersections during plenty of group night bike rides these past two-and-a-half years, and in fact I’m reconsidering my future participation in those. I haven’t made any decisions yet, but we all evolve. Last year the bulk of my mileage was group-oriented riding and recreational. This year of the 2,300 miles I’ve cranked around the city so far, more than 1,900 of them have been solo, commuting to work and the occasional errand.

Last year was about partying, this year’s about business. Does that mean the party’s over? Unknown. But I do know that for the first second-Friday of the month since my involvement with Midnight Ridazz began in December 2005, I missed the ride not out of a prior obligation or an insurmountable sudden onset of lazy, but out of a genuine lack of interest.

We’ll see if that trend continues, but in the meantime at the core of my cycling advocacy be it for fun or a paycheck, I don’t claim to be a role model. I’m just a guy who likes to ride his bike. Safely.

No, Really… Just Put That Anywhere

Friday, May 9th, 2008

So progress continues with our deceased tenant’s next of kin clearing his property out of the upstairs apartment. I came home tonight to find what very well may be the dearly departed’s death bed discarded with a flagrant lack of regard or responsibility in front of the house (along with two not-pictured huge plastic bags o’ crap; click to triplify):

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Ridiculous.

Murder Off The 101

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

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As the crow flies the dead body was found a half-mile from my front door. As the bike rides it’s about two-thirds of a mile away. Far enough away for some, but too close for comfort for me.

I pedaled upon the cordoned-off scene above on my ride home from work last night. It was about 8:30.  I’m on Vendome looking west up Dillon Street, which is immediately south of the 101 Freeway.  After answering my question of “what happened?” with the question “do you live around here?” that I dutifully answered, an officer told me a homicide investigation was taking place.

My first thought was that it was gang-related. But then I watched as officers stepped over  a low guard rail and disappeared into the foliage adjacent to the southbound lanes of the freeway, and that struck me as decidedly un-driveby. When I got home I posted about it on L.A. Metblogs and then emailed Ruben Vives who writes The Homicide Report blog for the L.A. Times.

This morning I learned from Vives that the victim was woman and that detectives aren’t sure how long she’d been dead as her body had been there for some time given its state of decomposition.

In an eerie coincidence, it was only yesterday that I found myself looking through the Los Angeles Public Library archives at photos from the Hillside Strangler serial murders case, wherein a number of the victims were dumped along roadsides and freeways.

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Has It Been A Year Already?

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

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Seems like only yesterday my Susan and I were wandering in wonderment the walks and waterways of Venice.