Archive for November, 2008

Listen To The Mockingbird

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

For a few weeks now, Susan and I have been bamboozled by the beeping bird. Usually in the early morning hours was when we’d hear it the best — just a solitary and evenly interval’d “BEEP!” But despite efforts I was never able to get a visual on the feathered fiend.

Early on in the mystery I asked Susan if there might be a smoke detector in the upstairs whose battery was failing thus triggering a warning alert, but Susan insisted they were all hardwired and that couldn’t be the source of the sound. In addition sometimes the sound would emanate from the trees around the southeast corner of the house and sometimes I would hear it distinctly from the trees to the northwest across the street, Then there were the extended periods where we wouldn’t hear it at all.

I was all set to chalk it up to general wildlife weirdness when the enigma was revealed Thursday whilst up on the roof hanging our holiday lights on the front dormer. Suddenly: BEEP! And it was close. I scanned the trees around me, but was pretty dang sure it came from inside the upstairs, so I stopped what I was doing and listened intently by the front window and in about a minute there it came again: BEEP!

Removing the screen I clambered inside and stood still. In a few more seconds the sound came again and I had a visual. But it wasn’t a bird at all. It was, in fact, the smoke detector in what had been our tenant’s bedroom. When I detached it from its wall mount I found it was indeed hardwired — but also came with a battery back-up in case of a power failure. Aha!

I brought the unit downstairs and showed Susan and we both did some eye-rolling in relief that our weeks-long residential conundrum was finally over — and we figured that the reason we thought the sound originated from different places outside was because of what window it would come out of and what obstacle the waves would bounce off of.

That may be true, but I learned yesterday that’s not the whole truth.

See, whilst raking leaves in the backyard Saturday morning, from overhead came suddenly: BEEP! I looked up at the rear dormer wondering could there be another failing detector upstairs, but as if in answer there came a second BEEP! and I wheeled around to find the culprit. Let’s just say they don’t call them mockingbirds for nothing.

As best I can figure it the sound was such a regular occurence that one of our local mockers couldn’t help but eventually pick up on it. And with such a pitch-perfect impersonation that might also explain why Susan and I were hearing it from beyond the house.

Awesome.

We’ve Got Spirit, Yes We Do…

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Typically I don’t really feel the holiday verve until well into December and subsequently don’t even think about busting out the  lights and and busying myself hanging the stuff before December 1. This year having decided to undertake the additional task of draping the twinklies from the second floor dormer for the first time, I figured I’d best stop just thinking about it and go get maximum mileage out of the end result. Thus a couple hours this Thanksgiving Day was spent untangling strings and figuring out how and where to plug everything in:

I think it came out purty.

Thanking Of Me

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Among the  variety of people, things and events the L.A. Times gave thanks for in its lead editorial in today’s paper they made sure to appreciate me too:

We also thank those who can drive but don’t, who bike and carpool and make good use of their EZ transit passes on two dozen public transit systems from Lancaster to Long Beach. Whether they’re motivated by gasoline prices or the health of the planet or the chance to just look at the city, block by block, we thank them for leaving their cars at home.

Right backatcha LAT.

Next Best Thing To Being There

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Thanks to Illuminate LA’s posting of a complete audio recording of the landmark City Council Transportation Committee’s bike-themed meeting last Friday, I was able to catch up on all that transpired. While it sounds as if forward progress is being made on the whole there was also a share of bureaucratic laterals launched in the form of 60-day continuances to investigate and produce feasibility studies on various topics.

It’s a seemingly never-ending process that’s a necessary aspect of government, but it’s one that rarely fails to wear me out.

Speaking of wearing me out, I was particularly miffed by the LADOT’s Michelle Mowry when commenting on the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights (CBOR) created by members of the Bike Writers Collective, and already endorsed by several neighborhood councils.

Here’s a transcription of what Mowry first had to say about the document (which I might add the representative city attorney’s office present at the meeting demeaned as “a rather long laundry list of matters”):

“All the rights included in the twelve items listed in the Bicyclists’ [sic] Bill of Rights are protected in some way, shape or form already. Some of them are federally protected. Some are state protected.”

Now I know Mowry is a proponent of cycling. I know in her otherwise bureaucratic heart she wants cycling issues in Los Angeles addressed and advanced. But I can’t help but take issue with her first comment that essentially dismisses the rights as being redundant because of certain existing protections. The thing is, her waving of uncited federal and state statutes in such a “been there, done that” way, not only misses the point of the CBOR, it belittles what I believe the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights hopes to achieve.

Mowry may understand there’s legal repetition in the words, but what she isn’t getting is that it’s more than being about the vowels and consonants. It’s about the need in this bike-unfriendly place to assert our rights and have them recognized in a document that is as affirmative as it is symbolic.

It’s not that I don’t care that the United States or California constitutions — or the Ten Commandments for that matter —  might have my rights as a cylist covered under some overarching umbrella. It’s that I care more and can be greater vested in action that can be taken on a local level and that will have a direct impact on an increase of awareness and safety on the streets where I ride.

A Post-Rainstorm Conversation With Buster The Tortoise

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

As readers may recall I finally made good this summer on a long-delayed plan to build our Russian tortoise Buster a 25-square-foot outdoor pen to liberate her from her unsatisfactory indoor confinement in a 3-square-foot aquarium.

Buster’s pretty much been loving the expanded living space ever since… well, at least as much as a grumpy tortoise can “love” anything. And in the wake of last night’s brief but torrential rainstorm I checked in on our rascally reptile to see how she weathered the wetness.

Me: Hey Buster! How ya do —?”

Buster: Where the hell you been? Get me the fuck inside.

Me: What?

Buster: You heard me. Get me the fuck out of this shit.

Me: But I thought you liked your new digs.

Buster: Yeah, liked is right. As in past tense. As in not after last night. What the fuck was that? You decide to hose down the backyard and drown me at midnight you bastard?

Me: Huh? No, that wasn’t me. That was the rain.

Buster: Ha. Right. That makes it all better. As if seven years of living inside a glass box inside a building I know what the fuck rain is. Assbag. Get me out of here. I’m drenched, everything’s drenched— and what was all that booming and flashing.

(more…)

Going To Newport Beach On Business, Car Free = Hell Yeah!

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

I have a two-day conference I’ll be attending for work in Newport Beach at the end of next week. You had to know I’d look at getting there and back car-free, and you had to figure I’d find a way to do so:

  • Bike to Union Station
  • Take Metrolink’s Orange County Line to Santa Ana station (one-way fare: $8.50)
  • Bike From Santa Ana station to Newport Beach Hyatt (roughly 18 miles utilizing the Santa Ana River Bikeway and PCH)
  • Or bike from Santa Ana station along surface streets and save about five miles… but maybe add them back in a detour that explores nearby Irvine’s purportedly plush pedaling pathway network.

Returning home Saturday evening would essentially be the reverse except the weekend return trip Metrolink fare is only $6.50.

PS. Having my bike so as to be able to get up early Friday and Saturday mornings and go for sunrise bike rides around Newport and its back bay? Priceless.

The Envelope Please

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

As expected, I reached my 6,000th mile on my way home last night, entering it roughly in the Melrose Hill vicinity of Western Avenue and Hobart and exiting it on approach to Santa Monica Boulevard on Heliotrope. In the midst of it I stopped at no better place to commemorate the achievement than  where my cycling enthusiasm got restoked way back in the summer of 2005:  the Bicycle Square/Quadrant/District/Zone/Land/Arena at Heliotrope and Melrose… pretty much the ground-zero of the city’s bike culture:

Of course I timelapsed the whole 15-mile ride home, but for the sake of expediency I’ve extracted the momentous (and at times gridlocked and gloriously lane-splitted) mile and saved it as a Quicktime file — albeit about a 15-meg’er what with me slowing the frames down a bit — that can be viewed here.