Archive for January, 2011

(click it for the bigger picture)

The high concentration of rainfall in December followed by a condensed cold snap that gave way to the present warm-up conspired to trigger a lot of the backyard foliage — including our callalily —  into blooming early, perhaps sensing winter had come and gone and spring was here. I snapped the newest of its three  flowers this morning as it hosting a visiting fly.

The following was a comment (not necessarily as long-winded as I can usually be, but certainly verbose as comments go) that I added this morning to a post at The Eastsider LA Blog about a lone representative of the species spotted and photographed at an area little league field, submitted after reading one commenter who openly expressed a blanket fear of them. I liked it so much I decided to post it here.

Certainly motivated city-dwelling coyotes can be intimidating, but the best way to counter an elevated fear of them is with knowledge. These are dynamic creatures who in their natural range are far more fearful of us than we need to be of them.

With urbanized coyotes it’s important to bear in mind that they’ve become so habituated within such densely populated environments as ours because they are so adaptable and infinitely opportunistic. But rather than fear them (or concurrently just dismissively accept them) you should be afraid and hold accountable those of us humans who provide them with an excess of opportunities to exploit. Be it access to unsecured garbage containers; pets allowed to roam free (especially at night) or off-leash in parkland; pet food and water sources left in breachable yards after dark; or people who directly offer them food (the worst if well-meaning culprit), there are too many reasons for coyotes to walk among us.

I have had a variety of close encounters with coyotes going back to my early teens (which would be sometime between the demise of the dinosaurs and the dawn of the internet). And what I know is this indefatigable and amazing species plays an important role in our ecology and deserves both our respect and our diligence.

Back in November on, I posted about a fancy new fully cinematic and futuristic Air Force “It’s Not Science Fiction” commercial I saw on TV that utilized a decidedly disaster-struck  6th Street Viaduct (over a CGI’d full LA River below) upon which a dramatic rescue operation takes place. I paused the TV to get the following still of the wreckage-strewn bridge:

A search upon the internest for an embeddable version of the ad was fruitless — at least until I saw the ad again a couple days ago and so reminded I did another search that was fruitful. Here’s the full spot in its incredible scifitastic entirety (I particularly love the monster medevac jet coming straight over an enhanced downtown LA skyline and coming in for a landing directly upon the derelict span), but I’d highly recommend going to its YouTube page and experiencing it in all its full-screen HD glory.

Ironically, given the projected 70% failure rate of the decaying bridge in the next natural disaster, the footage showing the bridge collapsing is the one bit of reality in an otherwise fantastic fantasy.

For as conscientious and proactive about the environment and resource conservation as I like to think I am there are things that happen that just make me scratch my head at what a lazy dummy I can be. Case in point: this spigot, which in the picture below you’re seeing in its deaththroes as a leaker — something it’s been for a looooong time.

I’m embarrassed to say how long. A couple years– that I’ve known about it, and goodness knows how much further back beyond that.

How bad a leaker? Bad, but don’t judge by that picture, it wasn’t that bad. What you’re seeing there is drainage with the valve fully out after I’d shut the water off to the entire house.

In actuality, though it was still reprehensible. How much so  I discovered two weeks ago when I finally began to sort of think about maybe getting around to some day doing something about fixing it. I placed the business end of the hose that’s normally attached to the spigot at the mouth of a five-gallon water bottle beneath it. While I can’t pinpoint the exact rate of flow, I can tell you that less than 45 minutes later the vessel was almost a third full. When I checked again some three hours later that morning, the bottle was full. And leaking out, of course.

So you figure we were pouring out about 1.5 gallons of water every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year for the past two years, minimum: 1.5 gallons x 24 hours x 365 days x 2 years = 26,280 gallons.

Stupified by such procrastitorial lunacy, four days later (or should I say 144 more gallons) I went to our local hardware store, and bought a replacement spigot (they call them “bibs”) figuring I would wrench the old one off the pipe and with some sealant wrench the new one on. Yeah, fat chance. Because what I found out when I got home was that the old spigot featured a coupler/sleeve thing welded to the water pipe.

Visions of plumbers danced in my head.

But wait, I thought. Maybe I could replace the washer? That seemed like a good idea until I stripped the head of the  screw holding the worn out gasket. Then wait again, I thought. Maybe I can just replace the entire old valve system with a new one?

This past Sunday (that’s right, another 288 gallons later), I went back to Baller’s with that plan and the worker just chuckled. They don’t sell just the guts of a hose bib. You gotta buy the whole thing. I told him I’d bought one of those already (and that I’d tried unsuccessfully to loosen and unscrew the guts out of that one) but the water pipe size is smaller than the bib size.

“Oh so you need to cut off the old bib at the water pipe, get a coupler and weld that on,” he counseled. Which would be great if I had a welding device and some sort of welding experience.

Visions of plumbers danced in my head again.

“You could always just replace the washer” he said, and I shook my head as he took the valve and attempted unsuccessfully to remove the ruined gasket screw. “Or maybe not,” he said handing it back. Then it dawned on me and I asked if he had any screws the same size handy. He did and I came away from there with a 74-cent rubber gasket and a 29-cent screw.

And once home I pecked and pulled at the rotten old washer until it crumbled from around the stripped screw, then I used a pair of pliers to grip it and got it loose and out. Then I put the new gasket on with the new screw, and reinstalled the bib guts into the bib. Then I turned the water shutoff back to on and damn if the sucker’s been dry this last 36 hours (or 54 gallons).

I still feel like a fool for waiting so long, but at least now I’m a proud fool.

(click it for the biiiiiigger picture)

Yeah yeah, I know it looks like I was really drunk as I snapped this recently completed Caché/EyeOne/ Skypager mural around the corner from our house, but you can’t blame it on my blood-alcohol level so much as my trying to use an iPhone Panorama360 app in a way it’s not designed to be used. Even so, you get the idea how awesome it is.

And as a bonus Caché himself was there and I expressed my gratitude for all the wonderful gifts he’s given the community and I learned from him that the “Cycle LA Via” section was entrely done via brushwork by a San Francisco based street artist known as Skypager.

I would be a lousy wildlife photographer. No patience. Fortunately in the case of catching hummingbirds at our front porch feeder, I didn’t need to have the level of inner peace that would typically be required by a professional. Still even standing at the camera for even a couple minutes taxes me — at least until this happens (click it for the bigger picture):

Now it’s on to a quick trip to the hardware store before parking myself in front of the TV to find out who’s going to the big dance. Personally, I’m hoping the single syllable teams beat the double syllable ones. In other words: Bears beat the Packers, and Jets top the Steelers.

Approaching my tenth anniversary as a subscriber, I’m pretty much an OG when it comes to Netflix. But I’m thinking it might be time to call it quits. It’s not really Neflix’s fault, but it’s certainly their predicament — one made ever the more aware to me with last night’s spinning of the “Despicable Me” Blu-ray they sent.

Hollywood studios have certainly been trying to make Netflix and other mail-order/point-of-purchase movie rental companies pay in an effort to recoup losses piling up from a drop in the number of their DVDs the public is no longer purchasing. And they’ve succeeded on certain fronts. Last year Warner Brothers won the right to delay providing new releases to Netflix for 28 days in an effort to bolster sales.

Maybe that’s worked for them. Certainly there are legions of OMG-gotta-have-it impulse buyers who will race to purchase the latest from “Harry Potter” and “Twilight,” but I’m not among them. Case in point: my last DVD purchase was “Avatar” when it came out last spring. Before that the latest “Batman.” Before that I’m pretty sure it was a couple years with the latest (and hopefully final and definitive) version of “Blade Runner.” In other words, I’m very picky with the movies I add to my sparse — and dusty — collection of DVDs. The day you see me spending aaaaaaany amount of money to add a Jennifer Aniston vehicle or “The Green Hornet” to my permanent collection is the day I need to either be dressed up in a t-shirt saying “I’m Hollywood’s Bitch” or smacked soundly about the head and shoulders. Preferably both. In either order. Every day for the rest of my life.

Like the good little Netflix OG subscriber I am, I’ve shrugged and accepted the imposed delay because with the exception of films such as “True Grit,” that hold extraordinary appeal enough to get me into a theater seat, I can wait until the DVD release and beyond a month or two to see pretty much everything Hollywood throws at me.

But last night was different. Last night something changed. Last night I personally discovered how petty and ugly and unblinkingly desperate Hollywood’s crackdown is getting while spinning the Blu-ray Netflix had sent me of Universal’s “Despicable Me.” After the movie ended I clicked to access the accompanying extras listed in the main menu and instead of being able to see an array of short films was shown that as a “rental copy” the disk contained only the film and should I wish to view the additional features it was demanded that I buy a copy.

Despicable, indeed.

And while I’m not readysetgo to finally say to hell with Netflix, it’s not going to take many more similar rental roadblock experiences before I enact my own across-the-board crackdown and cancel — even though I know it’s not really their fault they were dressed up as Hollywood’s bitch.