Archive for July, 2009

Dueling Coyotes

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

So I did a 67-mile ride this morning that sent me from Silver Lake through downtown across the L.A. River and east across Whittier Boulevard to the San Gabriel River, then downstream to where it empties into the bay. Then I came up through Long Beach along the Shoreline Bikeway to the Los Angeles River and back up into downtown and home.

The highpoint was a rare treat. Some angelenos might go their lives not seeing a coyote in person, much less seeing a mother coyote defend her den and pups against a hungry rogue male. But that’s exactly what I saw on the San Gabriel River bed south of Washington Boulevard (click for the bigger picture):

coyotes21

You can’t tell much by this picture. seeing as the momma coyote is hunkered down and only her ear’s visible (in the center of the lightened circle an arrow indicates it). I have some video of the clashing standoff and a timelapse of chunks of the the long ride that I’ll link to tomorrow.

UPDATED (7.19): OK, here’s the timelapse vid of most of the ride. The cam was stop-n-go but finally recorded at length from the 2nd Street tunnel down to Seal Beach. Then got hinky again along the Shoreline Bikeway before staying on up the L.A. River where the battery finally pooped out just after crossing Imperial Highway. If it seems exceptionally speedy it’s because I recorded at one frame every two seconds, instead of every one second:

And here’s the regular real-time vid I got of the two coyotes. It was quite fascinating to watch, not just because it was like stumbling on to a scene playing out on the plain of the wild wide-open west instead of the concreted banks of a channelized and urbanized realm, but also because of the inherent drama of both creatures attempting to survive at the expense of the other:

Bee Movie

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Yeah, yeah… again with the sunflowers. Susan posted a couple awesome shots of one the first bees to dive into our sunflowers when she got home yesterday. This morning before leaving for work I found one digging in and couldn’t get an in-focus macro image of the critter despite repeated attempts.

So I flipped the cam to movie mode and was a bit more successful with this short clip:

Coming Saturday: The Gun Butt Ride

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

gunbuttIn the wake of yesterday’s egregious encounter, I’m feeling the need to cleanse the palate by knocking out a long recreational ride I’ve been wanting to do since last year’s July 4th Washington Boulevard trek.

In a nutshell, it’s about a 67-miler that will start in Silver Lake, head across downtown to the 6th Street Bridge, then take Whittier Boulevard out to the San Gabriel River, where I’ll follow its bikeway downstream to Seal Beach and then work my way across Naples into Long Beach along 2nd Street(and its new Sharrow’d lane) then boarding the Shoreline Bike Path on the beach to downtown Long Beach where I’ll get on the L.A. River Bikeway and head inland, with my sights set on Blue Star Restaurant in the Scrap Metal Distict for lunch before heading home.

I’m calling it the Gun Butt Ride because the route looks something like the butt of a gun. Don’t argue with me.

I’ve tweeted about it and posted it to midnightridazz.com and now tossed it up here in case there are any other hearty early-rising riders interested in joining me for the 6 a.m. departure from Silversun Plaza in Silver Lake. I’m going to try to keep a 15-mph-plus riding pace, but will be taking breaks at the 6th Street Bridge, Pio Pico State Park, the Naples canals, some place along the L.A. River and of course Blue Star for tasty foods and beverages. Estimated arrival time back in Silver Lake: 1 p.m.

Behold: SunflowerCam

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Instead of a wide shot showing a whole lotta nuthin’ going on outside, this morning I zoomed across the backyard to two of the first-blooming sunflowers:

sflowercam

The latest image in a steady progression of pretty much the same dang thing can be viewed here on the Webcam page.

Milestone: To 4,000 & Beyond

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

I pedaled into my 4,000th mile of the year right about here on Bates Avenue between Lexington and Gateway:

4000

Threat Successfully Diffused Defused

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

I’m southbound on La Brea, pedaling in the curb lane. There’s a parked car between me and Wilshire Boulevard so I work my way to the left edge of the lane and as I get there a sedan in the center lane passes me and I see there are four males in it — all of them wearing identical redshirts. Maybe they’re carpooling to work or a job site. Or a parole hearing.

The light at Wilshire is red and as they come to a stop in their lane I pass them noting both front and rear passenger-side windows are down as I come a stop in mine. At the green I get going across the intersection and by the time I get to 8th Street they’ve pulled abreast of me and slowed slightly and I’m getting a sense something’s up. Keeping my focus ahead of me I brace for anything from a “Get off the fucking road!” to having something thrown at me, but nothing happens until the driver hits the gas and the four bust out loudly laughing and they pull ahead. Then the passenger riding shotgun sticks his arm out the window with his fingers splayed wide yells out “Honk!” a couple of times as he makes ass-squeezing gestures with his hand.

One might argue that perhaps it wasn’t about me. That maybe I wasn’t the subject of their moronic attentions. I’d counter that given the arm’s-length proximity of my rock-hard gluts to their soft-serve intellects, it’s hard to imagine the display being meant for anyone else but me. Either way, I smile at the buffoonery, mostly in relief that that’s all there was to the encounter.

But that’s not all there was.

(more…)

When A Battery Dies

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

We’ve owned a handheld, rechargeable so-called “one-million candlepower” spotlight for going on four/five years now. I bought it at Pep Boys for $9.99. We’ve used it primarily to illuminate the backyard for wild critters prior to letting the dogs out for their nighttime pee.

No surprise: in the past few months the battery’s been on its last legs. Despite a full 12-hour charge, that used to keep the device shining bright for a week or more, the light has started dimming — now to the point where we only get a few seconds of brightness before it fades to black.

My first inclination was to pitch it and go get a new one, but I decided to crack it open and see if the battery was replaceable. Or if not that, at least recycled properly. Sure enough, I unscrew the six screws holding the thing together and find her powerplant to be a 6-volt, 4.5Ah brick of sealed lead-acid deadness. Hopping on the webernets, voila: I’m soon clicking a link to a battery warehouse siteĀ  where I find an exact duplicate for $7.95. Nice, but the trouble is shipping the thing’s going to cost me an additional $9.25 bringing the total cost to $17.20 (not including tax). I sigh and look at another battery website and their version is $12.95. I don’t bother checking the shipping. Instead I go over to Amazon and locate a new “one-million candlepower” light for $38.99. I’m pretty sure I could walk into any auto part/hardware store and find a high-powered spotlight for less than that, but then again… maybe $17.20 isn’t such a bad deal after all.

For my last trick, I load the battery up in my pack and bike it across town, on my way to work stopping in BatteriesPlus, a dedicated battery store on Sepulveda Boulevard in Culver City. The clerk tells me they normally stock that type, but they’re presently sold out and won’t get a new shipment in until Friday afternoon.

The cost? $19.95. I’m not sure if I’ll go back there, order it online or just get a totally new one, but at least I was able to leave the dead battery with the clerk who said he’d see it was properly recycled.

Epilogue: You can chalk this post up as one of life’s more trivial trivialities, but to me this shows me why our trashcans are loaded with items like these — and the batteries,too. It may not be entirely cheaper to throw the old out and go buy an entirely new one, but it’s certainly easier.