Archive for September, 2009

Of Thunks & Hookers

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Weird day riding in today — and by riding I mean: Participating In An Ongoing Civic Study Of The City’s Capacity For Assholes. Not only did I have to deal with the bike’s drivetrain emitting phantom thunks whose source I couldn’t discern, but in addition I got right-hooked thrice by passing sedans. I haven’t been right hooked in ages, much less three times in what amounts to a 15 minute period.

Briefly by definition, a right hook is when the driver of a car on a cyclist’s left makes a sudden invasive movement abruptly and directly across the cyclist’s path in order to make a right turn either at an intersection or into a driveway. These can be aggressively intentional or lazily unintentional. In my case today the first and second were intentional, the third idiotically not.

Right hooks No. 1 and 2 happened within seconds of each other at Venice Boulevard a couple blocks west of Hauser and took me completely by surprise because I was riding in the bike lane somewhat pre-occupied with the second thunk that had issued  from my bike while I had been heading south on Redondo across Pico (the first thunk happened on 4th Street at Western). I stopped and checked everything out and all seemed in order, which was good. But that also made the jarring noise that much more a mystery that left me wondering what the hell was going wrong.

It was in the midst of that contemplation on Venice that a green SUV sped up and cut across in front of me — you know, because slowing down and dropping in behind me to make the turn safely is just not an option to most dickwads behind wheels. Still, I was in the midst of excusing the operator because she’d gotten ahead of me enough to make the gradual turn with a nice buffer of space between us, when the second hooker who was alongside me sped up and shot across my bow much closer, faster and at far tighter an obtuse angle, forcing me to hit the brakes.

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Neck ‘N Neck

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

For those of you who might be keeping an occasional eye on that little bike mileage tally box to the right, you’ll notice I’ve surpassed the 5,000-mile mark in my annual bike ridings, both commuter and recreational.

I should be all happy about that, but somewhat frustratingly I’ve actually biked less mileage than I’d accumulated on this day last year. And while it’s only a deficit of 15 miles it’s still a surprise to me that I’m basically running even with 2008.

I’d started out riding strong in 2009. Over the winter and into the spring I built up a 200-mile “lead” over last year’s efforts. And when I finished April far below average, I responded with “Bike Every Day In May” and knocked out 849 miles in that month alone. But then I flat-out faltered in the summer months, erasing that overall cushion so that now I’m knocking on October’s door and I’m really going to have to buckle down and crank it if I hope to finish this year with more miles than the 6,608 I finished with at the end of the previous one.

See last October I ended up riding my original record of 717 miles for the month. So unless I come close to matching that next month, there’s a chance November will find me not just 15 miles down, but 150 — maybe more.

Given last November’s lowlowlow mileage of 247 I’ll have a chance to play catch up this November, but then the pressure will be on to match or exceed the 547 miles logged in December 2008.

I’m telling you: this has all the makings of coming down to the wire — especially if we have wetter weather than we did at the end of 2008. After the first quarter of 2009 I was thinking 7,000 miles was totally attainable. Now I’m hoping for 6,610.

GORFEERT:TREEFROG

Monday, September 28th, 2009

refl(click for the bigger picture)

Cats & Dogs & Dogs & Frogs

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Earlier this week my friend Sean Bonner tweeted the need to find a new home for a trio of tree frogs for whom he and his wife Tara had been caring. Turns out the tiny things can be disproportionately noisy for their size, and Sean was having a hard time focusing on the management of his global network of internet domination, much less trying to enjoy delicious coffees while sounding business-legit what with a whole lot of croaking going on in the background of their Venice apartment.

So on impulse I tweeted back saying I’ll take ’em and that night I asked Susan “Howsabout some treefrogs?” Initially she was all “Huh? Treefrogs?” But then as the week progressed she got even more excited than I was and on Saturday Sean and Tara arrived with said three amphibious vehicles and some crickets (which they eat), along with a bag o’ rocks and a vivarium riparium terrarium aquarium solarium within which to contain the critters.

Due to the potential noise factor, Susan and I set ’em up outside on the backyard patio. But on Sunday we were forced to relocate them indoors  for a couple reasons. First, they were pretty quiet across the evening, with only a couple brief vocalization demonstrations. That will undoubtedly change, but for now they’re indoors because of the second reason: It’s much easier to catch one in an enclosed space rather than in the great outdoors. This we learned the hard way after we fed them some crickets and then I idfrogiotically decided I wanted to hold one and it understandably wasn’t really in the mood to be held.  Promptly jumping from my hands it then hopped through the fence into the neighbor’s yard forcing me to trespass in panic onto their property where it leaped away from several of my  attempts to apprehend it until ultimately and much to my relief I corralled it and was spared having to report back to Sean and Tara that, uhhhhh… I accidentally introduced a European treefrog to the wilds of Silver Lake south of Sunset Boulevard. Whew!

So inside they came to their new place by the window next to the stairs, where we pretty much left them alone and except for a couple episodes they were very quiet the rest of the day and night, and where I learned they’re pretty tough to properly photograph (click for marginal biggification).

Talkin’ ‘Bout Regeneration

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

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(all images can be clicked for the bigger picture)

A couple weeks ago Susan came home to find a tell-tale lizard tail on the kitchen floor, but unlike the last time when Jiggy brought a tail and its lizard inside, the rest of the reptile was nowhere in sight so we figured (hoped) that Jiggy had just brought the tail indoors and the rest of the reptile escaped.

Until this morning when I found Jiggy sitting atop the picnic basket on the floor of the nook in the dining room, very keen on whatever might be underneath.

Sure enough there was the alligator lizard, who’d been there long enough to fully molt — and to grow a replacement tail!

I was happy to find it in such decent health and after I shooed Jiggy away was able to catch it up in a Mason jar and release it outside.

Circa 1915

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

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The floor-level outlet that has provided the power to our entertainment unit has long needed upgrading. It’s old two-pronger (as evidenced by  the interesting decorative detail around the plugs, as shown above) that has been an overloaded trooper in steadily supplying the needed juice through an eight-outlet powerstrip to all our audio/visual stuff. But it wasn’t until I was back there this weekend trying to make heads and tails of the massive tangle of cables and cords coming and going from the stereo, Playstation, VCR, TV, turntable, DVD, speakers, TiVo and satellite receiver  in order to get the DVD player and TiVo working with the TV and the TiVo working with our new DirecTV receiver that I found out how old when I opted to replace it for a more modern three-prong plug — and one without a metal faceplate.

After removing it, I looked on the back and found a series of patent numbers listed, the first being the top one in this pic:

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Using Google to put the pieces together I eventually found a series of websites that told me this particular outlet had been in service in the house going back as long ago as 94 years, maybe a year or two less. One can only imagine the variety of things it powered over all those years.

U.S. Patent No. 1, 146,938 for an Attachment Plug Receptacle was applied for by inventor Harvey Hubbell on July 23, 1914 and approved July 20, 1915.  Hubbell’s most famous creations were the pull chain electrical socket and his original 1904 plug, which eliminated the need to hardwire devices directly to their power source. This plug adapted any of the past attachment plugs to now standard or knife blade plugs common to that era.

Melrose & Western, 11:07 Monday Night

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

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I may be wired different. A troubled morning commute to work that features three flats (Nos. 23, 24, 25 for the year, if you’re counting, which I am) and an angry left hamstring leaves me arriving an hour and a half late to a busy Monday at work. Then I put in a long day playing catch-up that doesn’t see me leaving the office until 10:15 p.m.

And after all that I’m actually looking forward to the bike ride home. Because there’s literally few things more soothing to me than a slow and steady 15-mile night ride across the sleepy streets of Los Angeles.

Like I said: I may be wired different.