Archive for December, 2008

Six Thousand Six Hundred and Six Point One Six Miles

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

That’s where my virtual bike odometer and I will end up for the year when I complete my planned 46-mile roundtrip bike commute tomorrow afternoon.

A huge part of that achievement was the fact that of 257 work days in 2008, I biked 197 of them — an achievement in and of itself.

But 6,606.16. That’s an achievement, too.

Here’s the 15 from this morning, along a different route that involved downtown and a flat tire:

Typically my commute mileage comes in around 30, but I’ll be leaving early tomorrow morning and taking the loooooong way in via the westside through across Brentwood to Ocean Park to the Santa Monica Pier and then the beach path to Venice and then through Marina Del Rey to the Ballona Creek Bikeway.

Just because.

Show of hands: how many people add miles to their trips to work, just because. That’s the magic of the bicycle.

On the return trip I’ll be coming home with decidedly less deviation along 4th Street and with one last climb up the Occidental rise south of my house. The same one upon which I pedaled into the back of that double-parked minivan back in September.

Of course there’s more to tomorrow’s extended trip than just because.  If I stuck to the routine I’d be 10 miles shy of the 6600 mark, and it just won’t do for me to be within striking distance of something — especially something so relatively irrelevant — and let it go unattained.

So there you have it. I set out this year to bike 3,000 miles. I had that done by early June. As to what’s in store for next year, at this late date I haven’t decided anything and in fact  I may just go all laissez faire and let the good miles roll across ’09 without a finish line. We’ll see.

UPDATED (12.31): Make that 6608.17. I was cut loose from work at noon today so I cranked out a couple additional miles meeting my friend Manny at Langer’s in MacArthur Park and biking home from there.

At 2:43 Sunday Afternoon

Monday, December 29th, 2008

photo

It is one of the two handmade Leon cigars my wife got me for Christmas.

It is an ice cold bottle of Pabst from the landmark Galco’s in Highland Park, the wonderful beverage repository I’ve been to only a woeful three times in my life; twice in the past week.

It is a break taken in one of the adirondack chairs stationed atop the loose brick patio — mossy and damp from the rains — that I crudely fashioned a couple years ago at the northeast corner of the backyard from some of the bricks that made up the 102-year-old house’s original 102-year-old foundation.

It is the aftermath of my victorious weekly war, and I survey the backyard battlefield raked and swept mostly clear of the fallen foliage dropped to the residual muck by gravity and quantified by the Christmas storm and subsequent winds.

It is an almost summer-like experience in shorts and a tee with the tinkling music of an ice cream truck heard somewhere not too far away, the sun shining over blue skies, and the 70-degree temps a welcome warm respite from the chilled days past.

It is the dog coming out with its ball to play.

It is my wife coming out to tell me she is going to the market.

It is the cigar smoke wafting into the sunbeams.

It is the leaves rustling in the breeze; none fall before me.

It is the gulls high in the sky flying back toward the sea.

It is my reward.

It is my heaven.

‘Twas An Early Christmas For This Raptor

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

falcon2

Outside my office window on Christmas Eve in surprise I spied bits of white suddenly drifting by on the breeze.

I wondered: snow? But the answer: no.

Instead it was feathers — lots of them floating on the current, and shortly thereafter I found the source of the stuff in a peregrine falcon that had made a kill and was tearing it apart atop the roof of the office building adjacent the one I’m in.

Above and below are  crappy 12x digizoom images, but the lens isn’t dirty on the bottom snap. The smudges behind the bird are a crop of feathers it’s just torn from its prey (unseen at its feet) and patooey’d into the air.

falcon1

Nothing says Christmas in Southern California quite like successful predation!

On The First Day After Christmas I Gave This Thing To Me…

Friday, December 26th, 2008

…Oooooooone Squuuuuuuuaaaaaaashed Thuuuuuuuuumb!

thumb

The picture might not do the mash justice, but see that abnormally discolored cloud of sadness within the bed of my thumbnail? Yeah:  hurts like sunovagunzabeech.  Suffice it to say it was bike-repair related and idiocy induced, and by way of a more detailed explanation let’s just go to the series of Twitter posts from the immediate mash aftermath going forward about 20-30 minutes:

  1. Right now I’m really admiring how long the pain lasts after you squish your thumb between the fork and spinning spokes.
  2. Beneath the nail is already some angry black ‘n bluing.
  3. De-Christmasing my bike & giving it a thorough cleaning as well as new front/rear brake pads, and I’m repaid in thumb squished agony? Nofair
  4. It’s one of those hurts were you almost wish the offended digit had just been lopped off. I said almost.
  5. Spewing a stream of invective to rival those which the father was famous for in “A Christmas Story.”
  6. snagdragalbasturdenfrakostenkluntbisquitweavernard!


Our First Annual Christmas Day Breakfast At The Pantry

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

Christmas Day Breakfast at The PantryWhy is it such a really  good idea as breakfast on Christmas Day at one of my favorite never-closed places in LA is an idea that never occurred to me until now.

Oversights like that frustrate me to no end, but I guess it’s better late than never to start an annual Breakfast At The Pantry tradition, which we kicked off with my mom, who came over for Christmas Eve and then spent the night trying not to freeze while asleep on our couch.

Coincidental bonus points for our server’s name being Jesus — who we left a 50% tip because anyone forced to forsake their own lives and those of friends and family on this day to instead serve strangers deserves nothing less!

Merry Christmas!

Sometimes There Are Victories, Part II

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

lostdog

I almost wasn’t going to post about this old gal, because people can only take so many bummers and I’ve been writing about quite a few of them lately. But just as I can’t not stop and offer help, so can I not keep my own personal spotlight shining on the growing problem of abandoned animals.

I got detoured by roadwork off Redondo Boulevard a couple blocks north of Jefferson on my drive in this morning and ended up on Cloverdale where I found her trotting up the street.

Same old story: Collar but no tag. I parked got out and called to her — even commanded her to “come here!” as had been wisely suggested, but nope. Beyond a lingering look at me from a house away it was nothing but “I don’t know you, leave me alone.”

I can relate.

And I almost left it at that. But then I turned around and parked up the block past her as she nosed around  in the gutter looking for scraps. Getting out with my requisite bag of kibble and jerky treats a house away from her, she paid me no mind. But her ears perked up and I got her attention when I shook the bag and clucked my tongue. Was it enough to bring her to me? No. She just stood there.

So I sat on the curb and poured out the bag’s contents onto the grass. She took a tentative stop toward me, but no more. So I got up and got back in my truck. Before I’d closed the door she was on the food, eating heartily. I debated getting back out and trying again, but I stayed put watching her eat, not wanting to risk frightening her away from what may have been the best meal she’d had in a long time.

I take equal measures of comfort and sorrow in that. Victory and defeat.

Chasing Rabbits

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

I put this up on LA Metblogs, but given my last couple posts about animal interventions I’d be totally remiss if I didn’t include this unique bunny encounter from Friday night here: