Archive for July, 2010

Forgot aaaaall about this fella found on an afternoon bike ride of about a couple weeks ago (but who’s counting? I am. It was 16 to be exact.) at the corner of Mateo and something near the Arts District. I pedaled past it. Did a double take. Turned around. Stared at it for a bit suddenly doubting if it was spelled incorrectly.

You know how it is with some words you’ve known all your reading/writing  life but you see them in print wrong and they just catch you off-guard by suddenly looking right? It’s the flip of words that look wrong when they’re right. Like “weird” as an example. Weird always looks weird to me.

Anyway. So I snapped the above picture and forget about it 25 seconds later because since my cellphone had died I was on the hunt for a payphone to call 911 about a guy I saw from the 6th Street Bridge I’d just come across back from Boyle Heights who was prone in the LA River bed about midway to the 4th Street Bridge and thrashing about like he might’ve been hurt and who couldn’t hear me yelling at him to see if he was all right and so I figured since the LA River at dusk is waaaaaay down my personal list of places I’d like to be laying about and flaying I decided that while I certainly could be wrong it might not be anywhere near that dude’s first choice either so I reconciled it would be the far, far better thing I do not to ignore his potential plight and instead to summon people who might be able to help him if he needed it.

But that’s another story. Actually, no it isn’t. Other than finding that payphone across from Wurstkuche and reporting the situation and hoping the guy was OK, that’s about all of it. But wow. I don’t if I’m more impressed by the digression or the length of that run-on sentence.

Annnnnnywaaaaaaay. I remembered the typo when I saw the shot of it this morning browsing through my archives, and damn if it still made sense to me enough that I resorted to looking it up in the dictionary just to make sure “enterance” wasn’t in the dictionary.

And it wasn’t.

But it still looks like it should be.

In honor of Bastille Day I resubmit a photo of the Seine and Notre Dame Cathedral taken from our wonderful room at the Hotel le Notre Dame on Quay Saint Michel  in the Latin Quarter along the left bank of the river during our visit in May 2007.

A week into the diet and I’m down two pounds and that’s right where I want to be. There probably are nutritionists out there who’ve spent careers studying physiologies and metabolisms and can site data to back up their claims as to the complexities of losing weight, but as I’ve said before as far as I’m concerned, at its simplest — or maybe simplistic — level, shedding or gaining pounds is the result of an unequal input/output equation.

Plus time. And that’s where the trouble comes in. People want to rush the job and so they get suckered into spending money on fads and wonder pills and miracle contraptions from an industry that feeds off our need for immediate gratification. Think about it, which website would you be more compelled by:


We want our weight lost and we want it now!

But for me what makes the methodical long haul more digestible is knowing that basic equation (for my weight/age):

  • +/- 3,500 calories = +/- 1 pound.

These last 10 pounds I added on didn’t magically appear over It was a slow process over the 10 weeks beginning when I started working from home in May and stopped all my bike commuting. Throughout that period I kept eating as I had been, and with the severely reduced activity level to counter it managed to overdose a cumulative 3,500 calories every week on my way to finally having to surrender a belt notch at the beginning of July (one that I should have let go in mid-June but I was in denial). Better late than 10 more pounds later, that notch was my wake-up call to begin the march in the other direction.

And so far in this first week I’ve trudged downward, accumulating an approximate per-day calorie deficit of 1,000. Multiply that by seven days and you’ve got 7,000 calories. Divide that by 3,500 and  two pounds gone. See how simple that is?

Notice I didn’t say “easy.” Yesterday in fact, was tough. I was hungry pretty much from 10 a.m. until Susan got home and made dinner, and I’m looking sideways at today hoping things are easier. The good news was I didn’t nosh on a metric ton of cashews and trail mix. Instead I tried to fill the void with pan-fried greens and sugar snap peas and baby carrots. And more sugar snap peas and more baby carrots. Then I had a 60-calorie sugar-free pudding cup. Then I had some cashews — but kept it to one measly serving.

Thankfully between that and Susan getting home my iPhone4 arrived and the new toy diverted my attention from my stomach and thus prevented me from risking a return to the nut jar and going full-on Cookie Monster on it. Whew!

Above is our beloved mid-1950s O’Keefe & Merritt stove that I’ve gotten so enamored with in since the oven’s valve failed and we had the fine folks at Antique Stove Heaven come out to make repairs last week — which included fixing the range’s “Grillevator” broiler that has not functioned for at least the 10 years Susan’s lived here and cooked with it, and perhaps a lot longer than that.

As an aside, the only reason I knew about Antique Stove Heaven wasn’t via The Google but rather The Old-Fashioned Way. I found the place on Western Avenue when me and my friends Julia and Dave and Jeff and Amanda put on our crazy shoes and spent a day walking the 28-mile length of the street from Griffith Park to the sea in October 2008.

As we await the repairman’s return with the repaired and rechromed frames to the gaping holes you see behind the burner/griddle deck — that’s the broiler’s vent on the left and on the right the oven’s “Hi-Vue” periscope window (a niftycool and energy efficient golden-age gimmick that allows looks at whatever’s cooking in the oven rather than opening its windowless door) I’ve paid some attention to some of its long-neglected bits. I’ve put lights back in the oven’s dual sockets, and I’ve cleaned the periscope’s mirror as well as the internal piece of glass in the oven’s roof that one looks through to see a reflection of whatever’s in there baking, like so:

And in between such administrations in hopes of finding out if the unit was made in 1954 or 1955 (the internet is surprisingly lacking readily available pages devoted to these dinosaurs), I’ve tried unsuccessfully to read the info on the ID plate attached rather inaccessibly under the deck’s lid, down there with burners, and worn down by wear and tear and time and grime.

So today I finally quit craning down in there and failing and just extracted the plate:

Trouble is after 56 years it’s pretty much as hard to read out in the open as it is down in its regular location, but here’s what I’ve deciphered through the wear and tear of time and grime:

Sadly, no actual year is stamped into the plate, but it’s cool knowing it was made right here in L.A. In fact, odds are our O’Keefe and Merritt didn’t travel far from its birthplace as the company’s main manufacturing plant was on OLympic Boulevard in Boyle Heights.

One of the reeeeeeally cool things about working at home is being able to bring the laptop out and work in the backyard. And one of the reeeeeeally cool things about working on the laptop in the backyard is that you look up and see a Cooper’s hawk looking back at you like it could take you if it reeeeeeally wanted to (click for the bigger picture):

So you run inside to get your old DSLR and run back out to find the badass bird still perched where it had been  just long enough to get the shot above and then this one when it decides it’s time to go:

And you’re all “Damn!” Not just because it left too soon, but because you somehow managed to get a never-before shot that doesn’t totally suck of the hard-to-photograph raptor in mid-air.

I’ve had some early success with my newly undertaken diet. Stepping on the scale this morning at the beginning of Day No. 3 I was surprised to find myself suddenly four pounds lighter than the 236 I was when I started this thing on Tuesday. Hang on now, don’t worry. I’m sensible enough to be aiming for an average loss of a little more than a pound a week, and I’m well-versed enough in the process to know such a drastic fluctuation could very well “correct” itself at tomorrow’s weigh-in and I could be back where I started.

But it was still a heartening and empowering victory to see the numbers go in the right direction so quickly. And I do consider it a victory — however false or small, because I do consider a diet a war. As such, I couldn’t help but think about those retreating four pounds as an occupying enemy to whom I felt like calling out “Yeah, you’d better run. I’ve only begun to fight and you’re gonna lose!”

Ultimately and simply, it’s a numbers game for me. I don’t care about nutritionists and their books on how to lose weight. Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem might work for a lot of people, but I don’t need them. I follow the basic rule of outputting more than I input. And right now even at its most sedentary my body burns about 3,000 calories a day. So by doing nothing more than consuming an average 2,000-2,500 calories a day I am guaranteeing that I will lose.

Sure that’s the easy part. The hard part is the doing it.

Fighting — getting mad — is the trick for me. It’s like a switch that I can only flip after an interminable amount of time doing nothing but thinking about doing something. I spent the last two months feeling myself growing and even when I finally had to admit defeat and surrender a notch on my belt a couple weeks ago, I still hadn’t found the resolve to take action. But when I finally did, it was very liberating. Tremendously invigorating — this time even more than when I last went to battle in 2006, because now I remember how good it felt to break 210. How proud it made me feel.

And how I can’t wait to get back there again. Slowly and steadily.

The picture you see framed and hanging above was snapped of a gray wolf at the Los Angeles Zoo 10 years ago. So enamored was I with the portrait that I cropped the 3″ x 5″ print to what you see and enlarged the hell out of it with my scanner, surprised that it held together.

Around three years after that I had a poster made of it and took it to a local framing place so that I could properly display it. Trouble was the difference in price at this place between getting it custom framed or just getting it mounted in a standard 24″ x 36″ off-the-shelf frame was hugely more than my budget could bear at the time, and so I chose the lesser-expensive option and ended up with one of my favorite photos drowning in a sea of dark brown matte (visualize the wolf centered in the middle of a frame/matte that was basically three times as tall as what’s above and you’ll get the idea). Yeah: lame.

Not lame enough not to hang in the livingroom of the Silver Lake apartment I lived in at the time. But after I moved in with Susan in 2004 the best I would allow it to do was occupy space either in the basement or leaning against various walls in the study.

But this is not the boring story of me finally running the picture down to a different framing place and getting the whole thing redone. Of course not. Instead, this is about me going Capt. DIY armed with nothing more than a pencil, ruler, X-acto knife, box cutter, scissors, hacksaw, staple gun and a half-baked idea that I might just be able to reconfigure the whole thing. So I dismantled the pieces, crudely measured, semi-cautiously cut and then reassembled everything and voila!

Don’t look too closely unless you want to see imperfections in where the top corners come together, but regardless of that I ended up with a frame proportional and complementary to the image, making it suitable to proudly and finally hang in the window above what’s now our landing room.