Archive for July, 2010

I wonder what the ultimate result will be from the wingbeat of this swallowtail who, before it gently fluttered away, amazingly let me get my camera all up in its probiscus as it rested near our garage this morning:

When you last saw our beloved 1954/55 O’Keefe & Merritt Model 535-2 With Grillevator and Hi-Vue oven periscope, she was enjoying a new oven safety valve and functionality to all her burners, but was short a couple cosmetic elements in the form of the frames around the Grillevator vent and periscope window and that left her looking a little less awesome.

She was missing those parts because they were both in a sad state of disrepair and we entrusted them with the fine folks at Antique Stove Heaven who left with them to work their restoration magique.

Well, today the repairman returned and installed them, bringing her back panel to a gleaming level not seen since she rolled off the assembly line so long ago (click for the bigger picture).

I came thiiiiis close to ordering a rechromed “griddle in the middle” but decided to give it some thought first.

Ninety-Nine minutes with the bees and a blossom this morning, condensed down to about 400 seconds.

Made a small but crucial leap off the 230s today. Stepped on the scale this morning and after what was only nine days but was starting to seem like forever fluctuating between 232 and 230, the scale showed that I’d fallen to 228. For those playing at home [crickets chirping] that totals to 8 pounds lost in the 22 days since I began counting calories July 6, and puts me way ahead of schedule about two pounds shy of half the way toward reaching my first-phase goal of 215 by November 1.

Certainly I might climb back up to 230 a couple times over however many days it takes me to get down the next step to 226, but the important thing is I’ve touched a new low in this downward journey.

But why exactly did I choose November 1? It’s really rather trivial. I’m scheduled to attend a tradeshow in San Antonio the first week of November, and historically such events are categorized by having to wear clothing into which I don’t quit fit. And in this case, since most of my businesswear wardrobe was triumphantly re-fitted from my 42-in waistline days weighing 260 to the 36-inch waistline I proudly attained when  I was around my slimmest ever at 208 pounds in 2006, I was facing the uncomfortable options of either buying bigger clothing, having those sport coats and slacks let out, or literally just sucking it up, squeezing my now 38-inch waist in and being physically uncomfortable and thus almost constantly disappointed throughout my visit to the big state of Texas at how far I myself had biggened since that victorious visit to the tailor four years ago — my first time ever going to tighten clothing to me rather than loosen it from me.

The choice was clear: none of the above. Or at least neither of the latter two. If I buy a new pair of slacks or jacket it’ll be because I want to, not because I have to.

After that show I go into Phase 2 and work toward 195 by March 1, with that number chosen simply because of the challenge it presents ing getting back down under 200 where I haven’t been since I was still in high school. The date was chosen because shortly thereafter Susan and I will be headed to Thailand and Cambodia for the next in our occasional series of once-in-a-lifetime vacations.

Another reason is strictly statistical: 194.7 is the border weight between “healthy” and “unhealthy” according to’s Body Mass chart.

Now to be frank, all those impersonal graphs and indexes that tell me I’m still very much overweight at 208 and barely borderline between a healthy and unhealthy weight at 195 can suck it. My individual reality is that I begin to look somewhat emaciated at anything below 210. Grounded in that awareness I don’t expect I’ll endeavor to dwell  too long in the house of 195 because the gaunt and drawn look is almost as unappealing to me as my pudgy profile. But be it 195, 20 or 210, wherever I end up, the one thing I will do is not make the mistake being finished. Getting to the goal is as important an achievement as staying there. And putting the scale away like I did in July of 2006 when it read 208 won’t happen again. Instead regular steps up onto it will foster regulation that prohibits any creeping growth and denial that ultimately brings about future loathsome belt notch surrenders.

A little over a year ago my friend Stephen Roullier introduced me to Blue Star Restaurant, a retroasis in the middle of a scrap metal wasteland south and east of downtown, and since then I’ve gone to no place more times for Saturday morning/early afternoon eats, in large part because the grillmaster there rustles up the most awesome burger I’ve ever had.  Ever. That grillmaster’s name is Paul Greenstein, and if you’re familiar with the downtown scene that thrived waaaaaay before the gentrified downtown as we now know it moved in — with places like Atomic Cafe, Gorky Park, Madame Wong’s, Al’s Bar — than you might recognize Paul’s name since he was a big part of it.  I believe somewhere else on his curriculum vitae you’ll find he once owned Millie’s here in Silver Lake. On top of that he’s a master neon-sign maker.

I had no idea who he was, of course, seeing as how my connection to that bygone era as a chronic Valley dweller involved one tentative late-night stop at Gorky’s sometime in the mid-1980s after a wide-eyed visit to the old Power Tools club when it occupied the ground floor ballroom of the Park Plaza Hotel.

During that same first visit to Blue Star with Stephen that I met Paul and fell in love with his fantastic Date Burger, I also met his car parked out front, hands-down one of the most unique vehicles you’ll ever see. Ever: A 1941 Tatra T87.

A what? Yeah, me too. The rear-engined jet-black sexy beast looks something like a VW Bug on steroids, only with a third headlight and the most hot-damn dorsalist of dorsal fins. It also looked brand spankadankin’ new, not at all like it had been almost 70 years since it rolled off the Czechoslovakian assembly line where it had been built.

There’s one reason and a whole bunch of money behind why. After winning it on eBay in 2001, Paul and his girlfriend Dydia meticulously brought it back — even sent it back to the Czech Republic for a 3.5-year restoration process that they estimate came with a $60,000 pricetag.

And it’s paid off pretty handsomely. There was a great spread on the car in Motor Trend Classics magazine, a precursor to the Tatra recently being announced as the winner of the New York Times’ Collectible Car of the Year Contest.

So why am I writing all about this? Mainly because I’m a sucker for awesomely authenticalized automobilage, but also for a simple little reason. Paul and Dydia had a party this past Sunday at Blue Star to celebrate the victory and Stephen was kind enough to pass along the invitation to attend. And while Susan and I were there I got a good enough shot of the T87’s fantastic badge, above, that I’ve goofed with in Photoshop and may put it onto a t-shirt or frame a print of it.

Sorry for the redundancy. I blame Ranger. Who snores, by the way.

This was the sunflower whose main bloom that the renegade squirrels took left me shaking fists at the rascally rogues. But one of the beautiful aspects of sunflowers is when they lose their heads, often times they’ll just shrug off the setback and make more. In this case, this subsequent flower pictured is one of three that have since opened up. Though none are near as large as the handful of initial blossom that was lost, size certainly does not matter to the bees, such as the one pictured above, coming in for a landing (click for the bigger picture).

In other news, I haven’t lost a bloom since Sunday when I removed the chicken wire fencing I put up around them when I first planted the seedlings in the soil. Turns out the perimeter barrier, which did a great job protecting the flowers as they grew to blooms, only better enabled the raiding squirrels’ access to their tasty bits.