Archive for March, 2009

I won’t dilute things with an over explanation here other than to say I was out in the backyard this past weekend and to my astonishment I found new life springing vitally forth from a decrepit cactus pad hanging over the fence that taught me a lesson in perseverance. See for yourself:

cactus

crashafter

So yeah, that’s the aftermath of the accident I witnessed at 3rd and Commonwealth this morning.  The driver of the blue Subaru was turning left from 3rd to go south on Commonwealth when it was struck by the beige Ford coming east on 3rd. I rolled up on the scene to help and called 911 at the request of the driver in the Subaru and also because the passenger in the Ford was exhibiting some distress and complaining of chest pain.

From past experience I know how much being a witness to a traffic accident can suck, but not nearly as much as being in an accident without any witnesses stepping up so of course I provided contact info to both parties as we awaited the arrival of the police and fire departments. I also waited until the police got around to taking my statement.

While I’d hazard that both vehicles are totaled, it appears fortunately that all persons involved escaped with no serious injuries. Certainly and thankfully there was nothing observed externally that resulted. The young man driving the blue Subaru didn’t seem more than shaken up, and what I expect wasn’t more than  a precautionary measure, the elderly couple in the beige Ford were transported to a hospital by attending paramedics.

It’s always a shame that accidents have to happen, but any can be walked away from are the best kind, so here’s hoping everyone involved did and I’m glad I was there to be of some service.

If you wanna hear what the impact sounded like (captured via the voice recorder I just happened to be carrying to test it out — yes, a replacement that arrived last night for the one stolen from me last week), then click here for an audioclip of what I like to call the whoa!smash followed by me telling no one in particular that I “Saw that happen… Totally saw that happen!” before rolling in to begin checking if everyone was all right.

So with the astounding recovery of my lost camera memory card yesterday comes various documentationings of a Saturday full of bikes, first at the LA Bike Summit at LA Trade Tech, and second at the Hope Rides Again event in Hollywood. I didn’t go as crazy with the camera at the former as I did at the latter, but instead of reposting it all here, I’ll just show you the links:

LA Bike Summit photoset is on Flickr, here.

Hope Rides Again recap is on LA Metblogs here, YouTube timelapse clip of the ride here; another of Lance speaking here; and the Flickr photoset here.

Earlier this week I lost a brand spankin’ new fangled audio recorder to some churchgoing thief that I had left regretably unattended for a few minutes, tempering what had been an enjoyable visit for an organ recital at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles.

Yesterday, an otherwise fantastic day has been shaded by a second fail.

After a day filled with bikes and friends and awesome and bikes, involving my attendance not only at the inspiring LA Bike Summit at LA Trade Tech College, but also as part of a select group of several hundred riders accorded the opportunity of rolling Sunset Boulevard with Lance Armstrong (or at least if not directly “with,” than at least at the same time and place) and attending an after-ride event with/for him sponsored by Nike at the Ricardo Montalban Theater on Vine Street, I came home to discover I was a big loser for a second time.

This time it’s my digicam’s memory card that’s gone, containing most of my photos from the phenomenal day.

What happened was this: I ended up filling the card up capturing an extended video clip of Lance taking the stage and being pretty inspirational. So when it beeped its alert that there was no more room, I swapped it out for the one in my handlebarcam that I had taken off the bike and put in my backpack when I’d locked up upon arrival. Afterwards I put the handlebarcam away and slipped the filled memory card into the outer pocket of my backpack and went back to snapping pix and just freakin’ loving the fact that I was getting the opportunity to enjoy such a unique event. And free beers! Woot.

In spite of the rockin’ set Ben Harper was playing, fatigue set in around his third song and I split for the ride home  with Ingrid and her partner Patel Kjtel. Upon arrival I eagerly went to retrieve the card from my pack to begin the download process and it was not there.

Needless to say I was pretty much filled with self-loathing that was forwarded to a fitful night of sleep that ended when I gave in and just got up at 3 a.m. to stew in my own lameness and regretfully recall some of the images I’d caught that were gone forever. The only bonus of such a pre-predawn one-way raid back into consciousness was that for the first time in my life I actually welcomed the spring forward to Daylight Savings Time. It may only be a manufactured hour on the dial but trust me, there is a gloom and despair that comes with kissing goodbye a night’s zzzzzz’s at 2 a.m. as opposed to 3 a.m. Therefore, I didn’t lose an hour so much as get to a less indecent morning hour that much quicker. Hey, I’ll take the little victories wherever I can find them.

But in between the headshaking and unspoken invectives as those wee hours slumped and staggered onward I also pieced together what I imagine happened: At some point after I put the card in that backpack pocket, I retrieved my iPhone from that same pocket to check and see who else might be Twittering from in the house. In the course of pulling out the phone I figure the card came with it and it fell to the floor.

Of course that means it might still just be there in the vicinity of my seat. And I plan on returning to the theater today with fingers crossed in hopes that, A) there’s someone such as a guard or custodian present and accessible, B) they’ll let me in to have a look-see, C) the cleaning crew either had/has the night/day off or if they were/are on duty just did a bottle pick-up as opposed to a thorough sweep, and D) the card is indeed there.

Lots of obstacles to overcome, but I gotta try.

UPDATED (2:40 p.m.): Well, guess what? I’m back to only being a one-time loser: found it! I arrived at the Ricardo Montalban Theater a little after 12:30 p.m. to find the place wide open, and an employee telling me to go ahead and look, but warning me that the clean-up had already taken place. Not only that but she said the house was full dark in the midst of some sort of tech rehearsal — literally pitch black. So I detached one of my bike headlights and used that to help me make my way to the section I’d been sitting. A first pass yielded nothing. Next I scanned the floor of the row in front of me. Nothing. Coming back to my row, I went hands and knees and did a methodical look-around. And there it was, half wedged beneath a grate cover under the seat in front of mine. Oh happy day!

Today was an odd day. I took it off from work because Susan and I had planned a “summit” with the architect and contractor regarding our upstairs disrenappovationtment (aka the $62,000 bath tub) — and that actually concluded quicker than I’d figured and more importantly on a positive with some hope that with a redesign we can get everything we want into the existing dormer space without having to rebuild the back half of the house and reinforce it down to the earth’s core.

So afterwards in addtition to the errands I planned to run, I decided since it was Thursday and the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles has free mid-day organ recitals (that I’ve been wanting to attend for a long time) I’d go check that out as well.

So I biked down there and grabbed a mid-section pew seat all to myself. Marveling at the church’s exquisitely gothic interior I snapped some pix with my ever-present digital cam. Another gadget I brought with me to try out for the first time was my new Sony digital stereo audio recorder, purchased a couple days earlier. I figured this would be a great environment and the church’s organ — an instrument they tout as one of the largest in the world — would be a great subject to record.

So when organist S. Wayne Foster stepped out and introduced himself I hit the record button, propped it on top of a the pew in front of me, and sat back to enjoy the show, which was marvelous. Forty minutes later it was over and I left the tape recorder where it was along with my backpack and bike helmet on the pew and got up to snaps some pix.

Before you say “STOOPID,” I agree with you. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t just pack up my stuff and carry it with me while I snapped, but I didn’t. And if you’ll be so kind, allow me my rationalizations.  There were maybe 50 people in the audience with me and more to the point: I was in a fucking CHURCH. Though shalt not steal: HELLO!?

Here’s the first kicker. After I finish taking my shots. I come back, grab my pack and  helmet and walk out, buying a CD and making a little small talk with the administrator on my way out the door. As I was the last one to leave, almost immediately thereafter the administrator swings the big bronze doors shut and not more than 5 seconds after that it dawns on me: I’ve left my recorder inside. So I bang on the bronze door but there’s no answer. Fortunately I find an open door into the smaller chapel next door, work my way behind that altar and out the back into a courtyard where I find an unlocked door and get back into the main sanctuary. There I find a person and apologize telling them I left something where I’d sat for the concert. She tells me to go ahead and look.

I do. It’s not there.

I search my bag wondering if I’d gone crazy and put it in there without being aware, but I didn’t. Then I ask the lady if there’s a lost and found that someone might have turned it in to and I follow her to the office of the administrator I’d bought the CD from and tell him what happened. He’s polite and friendly but pretty much all he can do is shrug and take my name and number in case it turns up. I thank him and leave.

I get outside where I’m flummoxed and frustro-angry. I can’t believe some fucking sinner just pilf’d my recorder. I guess I should be grateful the straight-to-hell goer was kind enough to leave my backpack and helmet alone.

Here’s the second kicker.  Upon getting home and uploading the pix I took, I’ll be damned if there aren’t three images taken at 12:52, 12:54 and 12:59 p.m., respectively — the first two show a shiny little silvery something which is my recorder propped up against the top of the pew and in the third one, it’s gone.

See for yourself. I’ve added an arrow in the first two, indicating the recorder’s location (the thumbnails are clickable for biggification). What’s notable also about the middle image is that the thief, is more than likely one of those people.

1 2 3

And the rest of the errand run didn’t get much better. I broke an ATM with four people in line behind me. Well, I didn’t really break it, but it took a minute of whirring and clicking to figure out it couldn’t give me $40 and then shut down, pissing everyone off. Then at Home Depot because they don’t have bike racks, I had to lock-up to a lamp post and the bike slipped as I was unlocking it and the seat tube skittered against some concrete, bringin about a six-inch scratch in the paint. Dammit.

Just one of those fucking days I guess.

It may still be a couple weeks until spring gets sprung, but to a batch of Ballona Creek amphibians making a racket loud enough to stop me and my bike cold last night for an appreciative listen, it’s already here.

Hear them for yourself in this audio I captured on-scene last night by the Duquense Bridge

Close your eyes and it could almost be a bayou in Louisiana!

For pretty much every year since its inception in 1985, the L.A. Marathon has taken place on the first Sunday of March, and for the last 15 of those first Sundays I’ve gotten my ass up at some ungodly hour, and gotten my ass out there either to jog/walk the marathon, ride the bike tour, or on three of those Sundays actually do both events.

Late last summer when the marathon was sold to a group that includes Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, the city bowed to pressure from a coalition of Koreatown and South Los Angeles churches and made the sale conditional upon a “never on Sunday” clause. These churches had long complained of the impact the event’s street closures had on their congregations that day, and so to placate them the City Council forced the new ownership to move it to a different day.

After initially choosing February’s Presidents Day, it was quickly realized that wouldn’t work and thus relocated it to Memorial Day. This is wrong on a couple levels. First, it’s a three-day holiday weekend, which means people are more interested in getting away — be it to the beach or to their barbecues — so marathon attendance is likely to suffer. Second, barring some meteorological anomaly, the last Monday in May is historically much warmer than the first Sunday in March. This will not only further deplete participation, but will increase the chance of people actually dropping dead on the course.

All because some churches (some of which are no longer impacted by the marathon thanks to the marathon’s current A-to-B course implemented in 2007) got all righteously indignant. Interestingly enough, church-rich Pasadena is staging its first marathon and bike tour the third Sunday this month and worked in conjunction with those houses of worship along its course to offer alternate routes to their congregants to get them in the pews. Imagine that: a cooperative effort that works a solution instead of creates a new set of problems.

Anyway, that long preamble rant is because earlier this week I decided that with or without the marathon, I wasn’t going to let what would be my 16-year-old tradition pass without me getting my ass up March 8 at some ungodly hour and going for a long “Not the L.A. Marathon Bike Tour” bike ride. I charted a rambler of a 34-mile course that included visits to the Watts Towers, Boyle Heights, the L.A. River bed beneath the 6th Street Viaduct, Union Station/Los Angeles Historic Plaza, the Disney Concert Hall, MacArthur Park, Alvarado Terrace, and the Pantry for breakfast.

Trouble was this morning I realized March 8 isn’t the first Sunday in March. That was yesterday. For the first first Sunday in March since 1994, I slept in. I’m feeling both lame and bummed that I let my personal tradition flitter away unawares.

Oh, it’s still on for next Sunday. Might even add a meandering streets tour of the West Adams district as penance that pushes the route up near 50 miles. If anyone out there wants to come along for all or just part, let me know. I plan to depart from the SilverSun minimall at Sunset and Parkman at 6 a.m.