Archive for August, 2011

This just in from my inbox:

FROM: Rio Hondo College
TO: William Campbell
SUBJECT: Rio Hondo College Police Academy

CONGRATULATIONS! You are invited to join the upcoming Rio Hondo College Police Academy class.


I had a moment where I was going to give up. At the Rio Hondo College Police Academy this morning, for the required physical agility test in hopes of being accepted as a cadet, I almost quit before I got started. In my group of applicants, in which I was the oldest by seven years over the next oldest and more than 20 years older than most of the rest, our first test was the six-foot solid wall climb. I threw myself at the thing and never quit trying until the monitor called time, but the end result was him writing “DNC” (Did Not Complete) on my time sheet. I had been unable to haul my carcass up and over the wooden planks. Six feet might as well have been 60.

Embarrassed I went to the back of the line for my second and final attempt. I was seething. Fuming. Pitying. I alternated between silently berating and encouraging myself. And by the time our group cycled through the first round, I was the only male who hadn’t defeated the obstacle. I was crushed. I was angry. And for a split second I wanted to run to my truck and just get the hell out.

But I stayed, and I tried to use that anger. I stared at the wall and I cursed it as those in front of me took their second turns, some of them practically vaulting over it so effortlessly. And I tried to picture myself in pursuit of a bad guy. And then it was my turn, and I called out my last name as had been instructed, and the monitor yelled “Go!” and hit the stopwatch and I charged the wall. Again I tried the technique that failed me the first time. I tried to use my legs, but my feet could get no traction on the wood, and I flailed against the panels, ending up standing in the dirt.

I suppose in that split second I could have walked away. Or I could have tried that same technique again and again until the monitor called time. But instead I crouched down low, sprang up, grabbed the top with both hands, and kicked my right leg up, trying to hook it over the highest plank,. But I didn’t quite get it and I ended up where I’d started. Again, I could have listened to the devil and just given up, but I crouched again, jumped again, grabbed again, and kicked again, and this time my right foot cleared the wall, hooked and held.

Then it was something easier said then done, but somehow I managed to haul the rest of me up and over and I landed in the dirt on the other side of the wall and sprinted the 20 yards to the finish cone. I heard cheers and claps behind me.

The monitor called out my time: 13.6 seconds.

I wasn’t the fastest. I wasn’t the strongest. I wasn’t the toughest. But I was the proudest. I beat the wall after it beat me and I let out a triumphant yell to celebrate.

PS. I went on to slowly and steadily and successfully complete all the remaining components of the test: the-six-foot chainlink fence (9.6 seconds), the 99-yard obstacle course (19.4 seconds), the 30-foot, 165-pound dummy drag (5.2 seconds); and the 500-yard run (2:09).


It’s a given I’m a nut, right? I mean, I don’t have to kualify my krazee, do I? I preface with that rhetorical because today while people all around me are moaning the organizer-driven and city-ordered demise of what was to have been this weekend’s Sunset Junction Festival, I did something I’ve long wanted to do that will no doubt be further evidence to support kookiness.

I put a chair up on the roof.

Work with me here: Given the characteristic keep on truckin’ angle of a pair of adirondack chairs Susan got me as a gift some years back, and given the angle of our steeply pitched roof, rudimentary calculationsĀ  led me to the conclusion that one of those chairs properly positioned in a straddle over the roof’s ridgeline would be inherently stable and secure and afford the sitter prolonged and infinitely comfortable access to the awesome views to the west and north.

And so today, I tested out that theory.

And proved its validity.

Oh yeah.

It was a clearer day than has been in the last week or two, so I aimed my backyard 60x spotting scope at the summit of Mt. Hollywood (1640′ elevation; about 3.5 miles away from me as the bee lines) in the late afternoon and captured the sundown activity at the summit of Mt Hollywood in Griffith Park:

Of ALL the times for my usually dependable GoPro cam to quietly crap out, it would have to be on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (or at least once a year if this program is deemed successful) to kayak a roughly two-mile stretch of the Los Angeles River between Balboa Boulevard and the Sepulveda Dam.

So instead of a timelapse capturing the whole amazing experience, all I’ve got is these first 130 frames that were snapped at the very beginning in the slow-moving waters west of our launch point under the Balboa Boulevard overpass as everyone in our group got acclimated to our boats. It’s better than nothing, but knowing what the dead camera missed and how I might not be able to capture it again, I can’t help but be bummed out and hopeful that the program is allowed to continue next year — because I’ll certainly do it again.

The best gift I ever got Susan was an electric tiller that she wanted one Christmas several years ago. She’s not used it once, but I’ve used it on several occasions to reinvigorate various stale patches of earth in the back and side yards.

Today was the latest example, with about 20 square feet of dense and dried-out clay in the backyard along the north fence. First I tilled that stuff into submissive nuggets, soaked it, then constructed something of a waterstop on the low end of the slope to prevent any wet stuff from flowing away and feeding the bougainvillea and palm tree.

This morning I tilled the area again which broke up the nuggets ‘n bits and made the patch almost presentably plantable, and then hit the local nursery and got a few bags of nourishing compost, which I poured out and mixed in with the standing soil, again with the tiller.

Lastly, I dropped 13 descendant seeds saved from last year’s sole harvested pumpkin (four of which were already sprouted and the rest in straight seed form, so that at present the patch looks a little something like this (click it for the bigger picture):

Technically I should of had this done about a month earlier, so it’s hard to say if we’ll have anything at all much less anything more than coffee mug-sized pumpkins by Halloween, but who knows. With a little luck maybe this patch will pumpkinize nicely.

Finally. It took a couple days for my first (and so far only) Great Sunflower Project bloom to get the attention of the local bees, but today they finally came a calling and made up for lost time while I had my camera set up beside it.

You’ll have to forgive me for remaining so perpetually enchanted by what might be considered such a commonplace or even mundane thing. One reason is because I had a hand in bringing the flower to its present state and thus the bee to it, too. But the bigger picture is that I take much joy in the creation of nature, especially in a world so full of its destruction.