Archive for August, 2010

In response to my post about helping my daughter learn how to drive at the Hollywood Bowl (where I also had my first driving experience at 10 years of age), reader Gary commented that he, too, experienced his first motor vehicle operation at the fresh age of 7 running over empty beer cans with his dad at the Hollywood Bowl parking lot, and surmised that there are probably a buncha angelenos who had impromptu lessons on that landmark’s blacktop.

Gary had the excellent idea of forming a club and throwing an annual picnic, and I responded to that telling him the least I could do was create a t-shirt.

And so on my lunch break, I did (click it for the bigger picture):

If you absolutely love it and gotta have one, it’s available here at Zazzle.

Over several get-togethers, beginning a week or two before Susan and I bought the Ford Escape on July 31, I’ve been able to be a dad to my daughter Katie more than anytime in the past five years since we started seeing each other again, and maybe in her entire life — not for lack of trying, mind you.

It was awhile ago, when Susan and I were just barely thinking about getting a new car that I suggested and Susan agreed that rather than trade her 1994 Honda hatchback in for the $500 a dealership would give us or sell it privately for perhaps $1000, we give it to Katie.

And when we saw Katie over the July 4 weekend, we told her our plans, in part because she mentioned that she was considering saddling herself with the costly burden of a new car. She seemed excited and appreciative, but she was also a bit apprehensive in that she had minimal experience with a manual transmission.

So about a couple weeks afterward Susan drove my truck to work one day and Katie and I took the hatchback out for the two of them to get acquainted in the parking lot across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, which was an entirely intentional choice because that was the same exact place 36 years earlier at 10 years of age where I first drove a car… if you can call cruising around the parking spaces in low gear at less than five miles an hour with my mom nervous in the passenger seat and me barely able to see over the wheel of her 1965 mustang, driving.

Everything was going great with Katie until an over-zealous groundskeeper told us we couldn’t practice driving there and grumblingly I obliged and we left, making our way over to a parking lot at another somewhat-less-positive personal point of interest: the Los Angeles Zoo.

Fortunately we were left alone and Katie went through the basics of first and second and reverse gears. Some aspects went smoother than others, but overall she rocked it and  I was as proud of her as I was thrilled at the opportunity to be of service and of benefit to her.

The next week I brought the car in to my awesome mechanic (Long Automotive on Rowena in Silver Lake whose motto should be “You Can’t Go Wrong With Long”) with instructions that he tune it up, smog it and look it over veeeeeery carefully because if anything needed fixing I didn’t want it becoming Katie’s problem. Turns out he recommended some relatively big ticket items: the water pump, timing chain and right front axle. But despite a repair pricetag that was more than the car was worth, I trust Long implicitly: he wouldn’t say those things needed fixing if they didn’t. So I didn’t hesitate.

The following weekend I drove the Honda out to Granada Hills and picked Katie up for some more practice. By that time the new Ford was in our garage and if things had gone according to plan Katie would be the new owner of the Honda, but the car’s pink slip had pulled a disappearing act and Susan had to order up a replacement from the DMV. And wait.

So instead we did some more first/second/reverse practicing in a nearby parking lot and then some residential street driving before ably tackling busy Reseda Boulevard north into the hills and back.

And yesterday, with the pink slip still nowhere in sight, I drove out there again and in addition to some parking lot and residential street/major thoroughfare driving, we graduated onto the 118 Freeway out to Rocky Peak and back to Balboa Boulevard, which is when I snapped this picture of her.

So proud I am. Of her. Of me. Of us.

I first heard its unique and loud call from inside the house and after the third sounding came to the bay window in the dining room to see what I could see, which was nothing because it clammed up for whatever reason. Then I saw the way the afternoon sunlight was hitting the few remaining suflowers and I decided to bust out the DSLR to more properly immortalize them…

And while I was moving around Coyote Corner doing just that the bird called again almost from directly over my head in the tree overhanging the sunflowers, and there it was (click it for the bigger picture):

Much larger than your average parakeet, it looked more cockatiel than conure, but I’ve never seen so colorful a cockatiel. And unlike the skittish flocks of yellow-chevroned parakeets that can often be found flitting noisily about the place, this bird had no problem being in such close proximity to me, leading me to think it either was or had been a pet. And when I mimicked its tweets we even got something of a dialogue going on, at least until it tired of the dead-end conversation and flew westward out of the tree directly into the setting sun where I lost sight of it, but later heard it tweeting from somewhere across the street.

So if anyone’s missing a unique looking and sounding bird or knows of someone who is, it was last seen and heard yesterday afternoon south of Sunset and east of Silver Lake Boulevard here in Silver Lake.

Literally moments after Susan had left this morning for her regular salon visit, a strange cat sound issues forth from the kitchen area and I arrive from the study to find a nice-sized alligator lizard on the floor bracketed on either side by Pepper and Ranger who are both looking down at it rather tentatively.

I immediately advise the cat and dog to vacate their locations and they do. Unfortunately so does the nice-sized lizard, straight into the space under the large free-standing pantry (that Susan built by herself several years before meeting me). I can’t say if Susan ever cleaned that void the lizard now occupied before I came on the scene in 2004, but I know for a fact that in the six years since then it has been left untouched as dustbunny incubator.

As is sometimes the case with me, simple plans have a way of getting complicated, and my simple plan to drag a rod across the space beneath the pantry and force the the lizard out from under the undoubtedly filthy place got really complicated when after doing so there was no lizard. In the reptile’s place came shoved out an amazing bundle of pet hair, an old barely chewed rawhide bone, and various bits of cat and dog kibble.

So my next step was to move the pantry out into the kitchen in hopes of revealing the lizard. But all that revealed was more pet hair, and by more I mean a metric shitload. On the OMFG scale of 1-10, 10 being Evacuate Immediately, this was an 8.


Earlier this week, our bike-friendly mayor helped unveil a new public awareness campaign a few months in the making long before Villaraigosa suddenly found it fit to champion bicycling as a viable commute form. The end-result of the campaign is a poster to be installed in a couple hundred locations throughout the city urging motorists to put a minimum of three feet between their vehicles and any cyclists they pass on the street. The screengrab above from LA Streetsblog shows a photo that documents one of the first of the signs found actually installed out there in the gridscape.

Sure looks pretty, doesn’t it?

But there’s one problem, and it’s a facepalm doozy in the form of good intentions badly executed. Of the three sides available on the triangular display, the poster’s been placed in the side that leaves it entirely invisible to motorists, the very people for whom its effective message of safety is meant.

“But Will,” you might think of asking, “couldn’t it be that the other two sides show the same poster?”

While that would be nice and ideal, as I understand it that’s not the case. The other two street-facing sides of the display offer different ads.

“But Will,” you then might think of asking, “surely this isn’t the case with e-v-e-r-y installation of the poster?”

I certainly hope not, but I’ve read in the comments to that post on LA Streetsblog that others have been found mounted in three-sided displays with the same street-blind placement.

Made with the Twitcast app on my iPhone propped against a beer can.

Arachnophobes beware! I finally timed it right and captured the largest of the many orb weavers in our backyard this morning building its new web. This timelapse at a frame a second, captures about an hour’s worth of webspinning.