Archive for February, 2009

So on my previous post I lamented large and loud and long about that dang City of Los Angeles Department of Building & Safety requiring the back half of the house to be reinforced to a ridiulously heavy-duty level if we were to dare to consider widening the dormer and adding a bathtub to the second floor.

Turns out I was wrong.

We haven’t even gotten to what the city has to say yet.

What happened was the structural engineer — who must be from the firm of CYA&H (Cover Your Ass & How) — is the one that ordered up those 17 (maybe 18) 4″ x 4″ structural support posts and the double-sandwiching of the existing floor joists. Then instead of the architect giving us a call to say “Hey, you might wanna look at this just in case you doubling your budget is something you DON’T want to do,” he just rolled them plans over to the city and submitted them.

Without showing them to us first.

Is it me, or did the architect skip delivery on  what I would call a Crucial Bit of Information? I won’t jump to conclusions just yet, because after all I’m just a layman who kneejerked his blame at the wrong entity, but it seems to me that if I hypothetically I was an architect and the hypothetical engineering plans for a hypothetical home renovation plan I was hypothetically involved in just unexpectedly doubled in hypothetical scope and cost and time, I just MIGHT hypothetically wanna clue the homeowners in on it.

Because you know, hypothetically the homeowners might be all OMGWTF!?,  and to me it’s better to OMGWTF!? before — I say: BEFORE — a civic authority knows about something, rather than after.

Sorry for the lack of posting these last few days. Part of it is do to the last bits of on-the-job stressness and another part is the shellshock I’m suffering over our latest renovation revelation. Read on…

So our architect left an email message for Susan prior to this past weekend. He’d taken the plans down to the city permitting office and wanted to know what might be a good time to come over Saturday to “digest” the results of the meeting with her and our contractor. There was something ominous in his choice of  “digest” as a term.

I was off watching the seventh stage of the Amgen Tour of California so I missed out on all the fun. But I heard aaaaaaall about it when I got home.

“It’s not good,” Susan told me.

But before I get into what exactly wasn’t good, let me give a nutshell about our original plans. Essentially it involved taking the rear dormer (previously divided into a tight bathroom and an even tighter galley kitchen of the apartment it used to be) and widening it by about 2 feet on either side to create a master bath, replete with a massive 75″ tub big enough to fully submerge me, a big shower, along with dual sinks.

Not a simple job, by any means, but seemingly doable, yes?

Uh, no. Or at least, according to the city’s building and safety geeks, not without first installing a series of 17 (maybe 18)  4″ x 4″ structural reinforcement posts from the top of the second floor down to the foundation at strategic points along the outer walls of the house as well as within the new dormer — and the ones in the walls of the dormer would need to go down and be anchored into concrete footings under the house. And let’s not forget double butting each floor joist from the south side of the second floor to the north.

That kind of WTF hellacious additional demolition would involve the opening up of basically every interior and exterior wall at the back of the house, which in turn would cost a helluva lot more money. A ballpark estimate of  the additional work from the contractor takes our $60,000 project and doubles it.

All for about 20 square feet and a bathtub.

Thankfully cursing out the City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety don’t cost nothing because if it did I’d have run up a big bill seeing as how I’ve been doing plenty of that.

Needless to say, Susan and I are exploring options such as leaving the dormer dimensions as they were and losing the tub — that we already bought, by the way. Saying goodbye to the tub is a bit of a bitter concession for me to make because all my apartment-living adult life I’ve never had one big enough to just fully soak in and it was the one must-have thing I wanted as part of this project.

Fuck you, City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety — with your choice of a double-butted floor joist or a floor-to-roof 4×4. Seventeen times. Maybe 18.

I got all hyped up about the Tour of California coming to town and with it the greatest field of professional cyclists ever gathered together in the United States and decided to volunteer as a course marshal. While I’d been hoping to be positioned somewhere around the Rose Bowl, instead I was assigned to marshal the section of street in front of 4318 Commonwealth Avenue in La Cañada-Flintridge, some four miles away from the stadium. This actually worked out better. Since there weren’t many other spectators other than a few residents and my fellow marshals, my duties consisted of me having to do not all that much but stand in my orange volunteer shirt and cheeer them on when they passed.

So I set up my spare cam on a mailbox across the street and captured just that as they whizzed past.

UPDATED (9:55 p.m.): After a meticulous frame-by-frame review of the footage I found what seems likely to be legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong looking over to say hey to me as he pedals past, and me totally ignoring him (annotated and clickable for your enjoyment):



It’s a mad hectic convoluted crazy work week that’s left me off my bike for two straight rainy days and waking to anxiety attacks at 3 a.m.. For better or worse it will all be behind me in a few more days, so in the meantime I took a few seconds to stop on my bike ride in and finally snap this half-buried cherub through some chainlink who’s long cheered me the many, many times I’ve passed it on the Ballona Creek Bikeway.

Today would be the two-week anniversary of me dropping off my iMac at the Glendale Apple Store, to replace a failing logic board, but fortunately the work was completed and I was able to retrieve it Saturday.

I’d written about the issues I had with being forced into paying for a data transfer option by the tech at the store’s Genius bar when I delivered the desktop, and then again about the additional issues that resulted from a call from a tech who had wondered mistakenly why my computer had no RAM in it and expressed little confidence the data transfer — that I considered entirely unnecessary in the first place — was going to be successful.

In the end it all worked out. The new board was installed and a test-fire of the computer showed all my files still alive, and when I went to to begrudingly pay the $50 donation to Steve Jobs’ Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund data transfer fee I was pleasantly surprised to hear from the tech that there would be no charge. I wasn’t told why and I frankly I didn’t care. I just appreciate that Apple could’ve taken my money and decided to do the right thing.


Scenes from Friday the 13th’s “Take The Fifth” ride in celebration of the fifth anniversary this month of the first Midnight Ridazz:

Well, me going cold turkey in canceling my subscription with the L.A. Times lasted all of two weeks. No, I’m not going back. Not yet at least. But being that my newsprint addiction is lifelong and irreversible, I can’t go any longer without a fix — and sorry, but all the internet news out there does not replace the literal and tactile and olfactory joy of holding and perusing an actual paper.

That’s right, I even love the smell of ’em.

The words told me by George Lucas, the Herald Examiner distributor who gave me my first job, still ring true.

“Don’t even think about looking at the porn in my briefcase!”

No, that’s not it. Before he told me that he told me something else back in 1977 as he smoked filterless Camels and drove me around in a beat up Ford F150 truck showing me what would be my paper route. “People may not know where their next meal is coming from,” he said. “Or their next pair of shoes. They may not even know whether they’ll be sleeping in a bed or on a bus bench. But people will always want their newspaper.”

Champions of the online news revolution may scoff at such sentiment as quaint at best and extinct at worst. But I know it isn’t. It’s alive and well in me today. I want my newspaper.

So first I thought about keeping my source local and going with the Daily News — and I probably would’ve had someone over there thought to put a subscription page on their website. But instead the only sign-up option I was given online was a tollfree number to call and good grief but I imagined getting connected to a call center in Manila or Mumbai with someone wrestling to subdue a marked accent with painfully perfect grammar whose name was not Eddie or Nan or Brendan even though that’s what they’d say it was.

Instead I went to the big dawg. The New York Times. I have never before subscribed to the New York Times, mainly because it is hella expensive. My L.A. Times rate was an awesome $99 a year, which works out to about 27 cents an issue. The New York Times “special introductory” offer is $6.70 a week for 12 weeks — or about $1 an issue — and after that it’ll double!

That’s a lotta paper for a paper.

But this morning when I looked out on the front steps and saw today’s issue sitting there waiting for me I didn’t doubt its worth, nor my willingness to pay such a premium. I was just happy to see it, and will be at least for the next four months. I can’t say at this stage if I’ll pony up $2 an issue after that, but maybe I will. Or maybe I’ll give the Los Angeles Times another look. By then, the changes that resulted in my breaking things off will be implemented and maybe at that time I’ll find my first love better for it.

I doubt it. But we’ll see.