Archive for August, 2010

I think the straw that broke it was stepping on the scale yesterday and having it show me the third in a straight string of increases, this one a  1.4-pound gain to 229.6 from the previous day. It’s certainly not the intake that’s driving that number in the wrong direction; I’ve been pretty good at keeping it to an average of 2,300 calories per day. No, it’s the output that’s keeping me stuck in this purgatory. The entire lack of it. This was not a surprise to me, just a long-overdue wakeup call.

And so after pronouncing to my wife last night that I would get up and I would go for a bike ride, mindblowingly for only the second time in two months, I did get up this morning wrestling victoriously against  the usual apathy and excuses  and got on my bike at 6:30 a.m. for a 14-mile sunrise ride up to to the Riverside Drive bridge by the 134 Freeway and back. Oh yeah, and it was pretty out there (click it for the bigger picture).

And what I’ve figured from that hour-long jaunt is that the six pounds I’ve lost over this past 50 days of calorie counting has come entirely from atrophied leg muscle. Seriously, I came off the LA River Bikeway at Fletcher, and by the time I got up the slight grade on Glendale and Silver Lake boulevards to the reservoir — a gentle incline that I used to blast across without giving it a second thought — the legs t’were a-burnin’ and the wind I was a-suckin’. Wow.

The payoff however came when I got home and stepped on the scale and said “I dare you to piss me off” and it opted  not to, instead showing me at 225.4 — a new low.

Sure, I know in this see-saw scene I’m likely to step on the device tomorrow and have it show me 228.8, but I can deal with it as long as I keep my patience and my ass in the bike saddle more than once a month.

What can I say, I’m a sucker for cereus cactus blooms, which open nocturnally this time of year for one night and one night only, closing up the next morning never to bloom again. As such, the local bees (and occasional carpenter bee) waste little time diving in to frolic in the flower’s funstuffs we until about  7 p.m. (the first four minutes). After that it’s just the progression of the petals opening wider.

I think the last cereus timelapse I posted here was of a bloom closing up at daybreak, so at least this time it’s different in that the above shows a bloom opening up at sundown.

As with any previous captures, this is a two-hour interval, in this case filmed August 23 from 6:03 to 8:03 p.m. at one frame per second via the timelapse function of a point-and-shoot Canon Powershot SD1100, supplemented by a tripod-fixed light source aimed on the blossom to provide illumination after dark.

Music via YouTube’s Audioswap feature:
Title: In And Out Of Days
Artist: C-Mon & Kypski
Album: Where The Wild Things Are

Last year, or perhaps the year before, a lady friend who previously blogged under the nom du net of Jo Gillis sent me a batch of sunflower seeds harvested from some she’d grown that year. This is the first one to present itself among the mostly smaller lemon queen sunflowers that surround it.

It is magnificificifitrifiwificent. And I photographed it not just because it is bodacious, but because the squirrels are apt to come get it, behead it and take it away any minute. Literally: at any time.

Having decimated the backyard patch, they’ve now quit ignoring the flowers of Coyote Corner and have started their path of piecemeal destruction. And I am doing my level best through clenched fists, teeth, and sphincter to leave the pellet gun alone and understand that squirrels are a part of the econiche and are just exploiting the resources made available.

But it’s hard. And it’ll be harder when I look out the window and see this beauty gone.

It’s roughly 80 seconds this phoebe (I think) spent at our bird bath, but through the magic of Quicktime I’ve put the way brief timelapse on an endless loop. Now all it needs is the appropriate musical accompaniment… “Rockin’ Robin” perhaps?

I missed capturing the latest cereus cactus flower’s nocturnal opening Tuesday night, but yesterday morning I set up my cam before the bloom  at 6:40 a.m. and timelapsed the following two sunrise hours of it slowly — almost imperceptibly — closing up shop.

There are certainly lulls in the activity, but it’s fascinating (to me, at least) not only how the bees frolickingly  interact with the blossom but also as the opening gets progressively smaller how they seem almost hyper-aware that their time with the flower is fleeting.

There’s a jumping spider who hangs out on the edge of the petals at one point, and keep an eye out near the middle for the big carpenter bee — especially nearer the end when it barrels its way inside through the almost-closed petals for one last round.

The scale upon which I have been weighing myself these last four years (and these last 43 — and counting — days) has been an off-the-shelf, 9-volt-battery-powered digital model purchased from Rite-Aid… or maybe back then it was still Sav-on.

Wherever it was acquired I’ve never really cared whether it was ultra-accurate, just that it was within a pound or two of whatever my ever-fluctuating specific weight was at the time.

Lurking in the shadows of the spare bathroom is another digital scale that I haven’t utilized this time around, in part because in 2006 during the course of my six-month 52-pound drop from 260 to 208, on the one or two occasions I stepped on it, its measurement varied from mine by as much as five pounds… in the wrong direction — and that was not only a blow to the momentum, but also a seed of doubt planted. “What if that scale’s right and mine’s wrong?”

Sturdier dieters than me would discard the more forgiving scale and start using the less forgiving one, but I clung to the scale I’d been using, of course not without always wondering what the other one might read.

Well, about a week ago I finally manned up and ventured into the spare bathroom, where I hauled out that long-bothersome sucker for a comparison. Sure enough, my scale read 228. That scale read 231.

So I said to hell with both of ’em and their discrepancies and went research on their varying asses. Googled up “most accurate scale” in my web browser and bless them, I found Consumer Reports had done a test to find the best one out there and the result was the Taylor No. 7506.

I told Amazon to ship me one and it arrived this morning.

Stepping to it I was ready to accept whatever it calculated my weight to be. But first I took to my go-to old scale, which read read 226, and then the possessed one in the spare bathroom, which listed me at 232. The respective bipolar bastards dared deliver a six-pound spread.

Then came the new scale’s verdict: 227.6 (its 10ths of a pound are new and a nice touch).

So while it would be nice to list 226 as my weight today, I’m sucking it up and recalibrating to 227.6. Maybe that extra 1.6 pounds is the confidence I have of it being a more realistic assessor.

UPDATED (9.17): Thanks to the Natural History Museum’s Spider Pavilion webpage, I’ve learned this is not an orb weaver, but rather a jewel garden spider. The difference? Orb’s tend to sit smack in the middle of their webs, whereas jewel’s like to hide out in the foliage around them — and that’s exactly what this one did.

Whatever biological elements conspired to limit our property’s usual orb spider inundation this past year or two are not in effect this time around. These awesome arachnids have been out and about the yards early, albeit smaller in size than I typically see.

Until this morning, when I found this fine large specimen working on its web under the backyard bougainvillea (click it for the bigger picture):

For all you arachniphobes out there… sorry. It can’t all be hummingbird chicks and butterflies.

If it’s any consolation there is of course the drawback that I’m walking  face first into far more webs strung across walkways and such. But doing my exceptionally erratic version of the spiderwebfacefreakout dance is mostly a small price to pay to get to hang with such amazing creatures.