Archive for July, 2008

In no real order:

  1. Haircut.
  2. Take the dogs for a good long neighborhood walk.
  3. See “The Dark Knight” with Susan.
  4. Replace the bottom bracket on my bike and maybe get a new handlebar stem, and a new chain and while I’m at it swap out the brakes (and put them back on my road bike) with the new set that’s been sitting in my closet since a week after I got the bike last January.
  5. Drop off my rear wheel at Orange 20 to get it rebuilt with a new hub, because the bargain-basement loose-bearing hub that came with the bike is toast.
  6. Hit a driving range because I’m scheduled to play in a business trip golf tournament (at this PGA championship-level course in Savannah, Georgia, where I’m bound to break records for the highest score — even with steady practice) in less than two months and I haven’t so much as picked up my clubs in more than two years (other than to put them in the basement).
  7. Go to an AT&T store and get the new iPhone because I can’t wait no longer — but I’ll have to because by “get” I mean wait 10 days (or more) for it to arrive because the AT&T stores around town are apparently on a no-stock/shipment-only basis. Yes, that’s right. I’d rather wait a week-and-a-half (or more) than in line at The Grove for an hour or so. Because I hate lines. And because I hate The Grove. And yes I understand there are other Apple Stores out there. I’m not an idiot. I hate the Beverly Center, too. And the Glendale Galleria.
  8. Put Buster through a test day and night run in his new outdoor tortoise house I built last month.
  9. Go for a Sunday morning bike ride.
  10. And probably a half-dozen other things I can’t recall right now because it’s Friday afternoon and I just wanna go home and chill with my baby and a DVD.

UPDATED (07.27): 1. Not done. 2. Not done. 3. Done. 4. Partially done. 5. Done. 6. Done, and didn’t hit too badly for a two-year layoff. 7. Done. 8. Done. 9. Not done. 10. Well, I did laundry and watered the yards. Bonus unseen big task: Basically rebuilt the bottom of the new tortoise hutch, replacing the screen and slats with plywood.

Yesterday I participated in the first of a series of summer bike rides hosted by Councilman Tom LaBonge (which I posted about over here at L.A. Metblogs). While cyclists turned north onto Larchmont from 3rd Street (heading to the Baskin-Robbins in the village there for some free ice cream), my friend and 4th Street Bike Boulevard matriarch Ingrid, snapped me corking the vehicular cross-traffic just as the ride’s accompanying LAPD cruiser that had been bringing up the rear of the pack pulled in behind me (click to marginally biggify):

Needless to say with me on my bike, owning the road and stopping traffic with the LAPD backing me up… I love this photo. Thank you Ingrid!

P.S. Her encompassing Flickr photoset of the ride is here.

Animals, man. I’ll tell you: I can pretty much be in the most fantastic place anywhere and if so much as a dung beetle makes an appearance (as one tireless and determined one did pushing its dungball through the grasses of the plateau of the Toltec ruins we explored; but I’ll spare you) I almost immediately bring my camera to bear upon it.

Such was the case of this lizard, which my sharp-eyed Susan spotted at the top of a 10-foot rock wall as I photographed details of the pyramid’s base adjacent to where it was hanging out and catching some rays, giving me plenty of time to mount my 300-mm lens and pull it in closer (click for moderate enlargification):

Somewhat surprisingly there wasn’t a whole lot of indigenous fauna to be found throughout our travelings. Not counting the countless stray dogs and grackles — and the dung beetle, of course — I had somewhat been expecting more variety of wildlife.

… is not just that they end, but that they take place. They are a false escape, a phony freedom. Because you come back into an office with piled-up work that you’ve essentially put off for the time while you’ve been away. This is not an attempt at profound observation, just a recognition of the way things are — magnified moreso in light of the fact that this is the first vacation I’ve taken in two years where I’ve had a job to return to once I got back.

Thus, attempting to disseminate stuff heaped pyramid-like onto one’s desk is made all the more difficult when one’s mind is still wandering around a 1,000-year-old Toltec landmark of similar if much more well-engineered design, such as this one found in the town of Tula (click to biggify):

And in my case it’s not just pressing tasks, but the without-warning surprise addition of extra work thanks to the transfer of one of our editorial team to another department.

Lastly, in the Welcome Home category of Sometimes It’s The Littlest Things That Can Do The Most Damage, my first bike ride home from work (after a 10-day recess; my longest of the year!) was brought to a halt on Jefferson Boulevard just east of La Brea Avenue thanks to a flat caused not by your typical nail or shard of glass, but by this little fella that I tweezed out of the tire tread lest it puncture the replacement tube I installed:

Back to life, back to reality.

Restless and not ready for sleep, I was scrolling through the images of our Mexico trip and came upon the seven-shot sequence I snapped shortly after our arrival (following a long walk across the city) at the landmark and historic Queretaro Aqueduct, started in 1726 and completed in 1738.

I’ve had little luck the last few tries with the stitching program I employ to put my panoramic shots together, and so when I loaded in the images I did so with little confidence it would work the first time out. Too my entire surprise, it did and allowed me to turn insomnia into something somewhat productive and share with you the vast majority of the 4,400-foot long Roman-style water project that while now long dry did in its day 270 years ago quench the freshwater needs of the burgeoning city (click to humonginate):

So we’re back and happy to be home with the animals, and the photo totals are in (after iPhoto crashed twice at various points during the import process, gah!). Over the nine days we were away in Mexico I took some 2,444 pictures (along with some 17 video clips). Susan logged 1,978 images. Jeez.

I guess calling us shutterbugs would be something of an understatement.

So where to begin with all those pixels? Well, after scanning through my mass of images I settled on perhaps the most unique one of the megabunch, a 75-second exposure taken at 10:35 p.m. local time July 14 from our rooftop terrace at the Hotel Posada de Santa Fe during our first night in Guanajuato. A strange thunderless yet steadily discharging lightning storm was happening out over the distant mountains to the south of the city (you’ll certainly wanna click for maximification):

Tell me, can you see the profile of the face in the clouds that Susan found immediately (and I totally missed until she pointed it out)?

Whether or not you can, what you’re seeing is the cloudbank illuminated by at least a half-dozen lightning bursts behind it over the course of the minute and a quarter. In comparison, here’s a shot taken of just one discharge in the center over the course of about 10 seconds (again, clickable for biggification):

After some serious whittling down to my favorite faves, I’ll be uploading them to my Flickr account… but that may take some time. In the meanwhile, Susan and I are unpacking and decompressing and glad to be back and paying lots of extra attention to our wonderful four leggers.

I won´t even try to figure out where to begin. We´ve seen the Toltek ruins in Tula and while there found a hole in the wall eatery in town called Parrillada Country that was a tasty treasure. We Strolled the richly historic streets of the colonial section of Queretaro and marveled at its remarkable collection of churches big and small along with its 280-year-old aqueduct, and since Monday have been here in Guanajuato at the Hotel Posada Santa Fe, our base of operations from which we´ve just been exploring exploring exploring: Diego Rivera´s childhood home, the mummy museum, the municipal cemetery, the Alhondigas (from which the decapitated heads of Mexico´s revolutionary leaders were hung on orders of the Spanish government in cages for 10 years, the hooks are still there… fortunately the heads were entombed in Mexico City after independence was won), the Don Quixote Museum, the underground transit tunnels, more museums and, of course, churches, churches, and more churches.

I apologize for the blog silence this past week. There are only two internet computers available at the hotel (which we didn´t even know about until yesterday) and I didn´t bring a laptop — and that´s just as well as I wouldn´t have had the time or energy to recount anything at the ends of our full days loade with (almost) enough margaritas, plenty of cervezas, wonderful food, countless places of interest, the excellent occasional company of former contributor and Echo Parkian Hexodus, who´s a temporary expat down here studying Spanish history at the university (and who pointed us to what´s become our favorite haunt: a cafe called Truco 7). Above all I´ve been able to share it all with my love Susan, the greatest traveling partner ever!

And tomorrow we come home… with some souvenirs, the thousands of pictures we´ve taken, the memories of yet another fantastic journey, and two renewed resolutions: to read ¨Don Quixote,¨and to learn Spanish if for no other reason to know how to ask for whipped cream on my malteadas!