Archive for March, 2012

I was pretty much gut-punched by the sudden and heartbreaking destruction by jays of an earlier backyard hummingbird nest and its two chicks that I’d been monitoring. It went from awesome to all gone in the blink of an eye and no matter how many times I’m shown how brutal nature can be, it never sticks.

In the days to follow I heard a familiar clicking that I hoped was their mother. And when I finally spotted this new nest in a tree next door I’d hoped it was the mother bird from the previous one, but when I saw two chick heads bob up above the rim, I knew it was a different bird.

These two are about the same age as the ones lost to the jays, and their nest is even more exposed than the previous one, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed extra tight that any marauding predator/scavengers don’t find it. Perhaps if tragedy befalls I’ll take it in better stride.

The noise you hear in the background is me doing some yard work after setting up the cam and spotting scope to get this footage.

As mentioned in my previous post, there were two encounters during yesterday’s ride I deem worthy to share and this second one involved a textbook self-entitled red-running cyclist. What makes this blatant demonstration of jerktastically sociopathic tendencies so remarkable is the street he crossed illegally. This wasn’t Clinton and Larchmont or Virgil and 4th or 7th and Cochran. This was San Vicente Boulevard: three lanes in either direction split by a double-wide median. Big sucker.

I want to make it clear: I totally hate this shit wherever it happens. It makes me want to make police siren noises. It makes me want to turn to the motorists beside me and plead for them to stop shaking their heads and lumpsumming me in with “gawdam bikers” like him.

I also want to make it clear: I’ve run red lights. But the reds I’ve run are some of the aforementioned ones at quieter, smaller intersections. And usually laaate at night when the only creatures stirring are zombie mice. And when I do it’s only after fully stopping and waiting/hoping/praying an appropriate spell for the light to change and after that then looking left then right, then left, then right, then left again to make sure the immediate vicinity is not only clear but that it’s vacant as far as I can see.

Then? I go for it. And you know what? On those ones run when I have timed my launch to coincide with the surprise arrival of headlights either way up or down the block? I actually feel a twinge of guilt. Even if there’s only the slightest chance I was seen transgressing, I feel like an assbag.

Not this guy, though. This guy’s the honey badger of assbags. He don’t give a fuck.

And you know what irks me most of all? The run saved him absolutely no time. Zilch. The light on Redondo there above turned green the moment he’d hit the opposite crosswalk. And wouldn’t you know…

Honey badger assbag spent those few ill-gotten few seconds doing what? Yep, waiting at the next red down Redondo at the much busier and unrunnable Pico Boulevard, giving me time to casually catch up to him and not have to wait nearly as long as he did for the green.

When I was blessed/cursed with the opportunity to work from home beginning in May 2010, I lost three of my eight regular readers who tuned in to my bloggings mostly because I always strove to relate the various failed relationships I had with my fellow road users whilst bike commuting 30-plus miles roundtrip 200-plus times a year.

In place of those frothy spittle-flecked regalings those readers were suddenly finding laid-back narratives about backyard flora and fauna, or whatever type of critter whichever of our cats had caught, or rainfall counts, or the latest backyarchaeological find, and maybe pictures of whatever libation I might have been drinking on the porch some sunny weekend afternoon.

Those poor readers fled such non-cycling things. I can’t really blame them.

Not that I’m returning to those glory days, but now that I’m volunteering on a regular basis with the SPCALA, and commuting crosstown and back by bike, as fate would have it I had an encounter worth writing about. A couple actually, but we’ll start with this one.

Allow me to introduce you to this car, a Lexus SUV, California License No. 6JJY356:

It’s hard to tell from the above still, but the vehicle’s at a complete stop in front of me. This after the female driver came up behind me whilst I was pedaling uphill in the right turn lane on Glendale Boulevard under the 101 Freeway in Echo Park, and then gunned it impatiently around and ahead of me while we were emerging from the overpass.

I can only guess at why the driver went stupid and rapidly decelerated to 0 mph: 1) because she’s in a car and she can do whatever the fuck she wants; 2) especially if it only obstructs a guy on a bike; 3) emerging so quickly from the complete shadow to the complete sunlight momentarily blinded her; 4) she dropped her cellphone; 5) she experienced a sudden shock at seeing the drained and closed state of Echo Park Lake for the first time because she’s from Brentwood by way of Dallas and rarely makes it this far beyond La Brea; 5) she was certain the onramp to the freeway was to the left straight up the hillside that Bellevue deadends into.

Regardless of what caused the ineptitude, she stopped long enough for me to catch up to her, pass her and complete the right turn she’d so brainfartingly impeded.

In passing between her and the curb to make my turn I let curiosity get the better of me and inquired aloud as to what she could possibly be waiting for before continuing on my way to the left turn lane at Echo Park Avenue. Only at that point two-thirds of the block away did she catch up to me and in passing give me a look of “Oh, it’s one of those crazy self-entitled bicylingists. Who think they own the road and can do whatever they want. Like stop in the. middle. of it — wait, uh…”

I confirmed her insanity finding by returning her glare and then gesticulating in a generalized nonspecific manner that was supposed to indicate my abject disdain but instead may have resembled either a strange kind of dance or a seizure of some sort. I’ll have to work on that.

She, of course, responded by rolling down her driver window and as she casually turned right onto the freeway onramp — this time not stopping dead — flipped me the bird.

Ever so fresh.



This is the odd perspective you get from my Silver Lake backyard when you jam an old low-res camera into the eye-piece of a 20X spotting scope (at right), duct tape them both together and point the contraption down at Sunset Boulevard and capture at a frame a second the river of humanity that surges through this spot just past the beginning of the seventh mile of the LA Marathon. First it starts as a trickle with the elite runners, then the street soon floods curb-to-curb before eventually easing back down to those diehard participants slowly bringing up the rear.

All in, it’s about two hours condensed down to about eight and a half minutes that to me gives off something of a vintage vibe, as if this was footage shot with a rudimentary camera in the 1920s and colorized.

UPDATE (3.19): For a less strange look, here’s some real-time video of the thundering herd as it passed me at the curb. After setting up the scopecam Susan and I walked the half-block to Sunset to support and cheer on my neighbor Dean who was running in the LA Marathon in support of and to raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project. When we got there, we found another neighbor, Ralph, who’d brought out his drum (as well as an excellent St. Patty’s Day-green dye job to his  goatee), so Susan went back and got my drum and together the two of us banged on them (with another neighbor occasionally accompanying on cowbell) as a parade of  thousands of marathoners entered the race’s seventh mile in Silver Lake.

February 15 was the last date of measurable rainfall. January 23, before that. This once-a-month stuff is waaayheyhey below normal, but at least last night/today’s deluge brought down a full two inches according to the backyard precipitometer.

Them meteorologicalists say there should be some more on the way tonight and tomorrow, but as of this afternoon the season-to-date total — tallied from where this station sits next to the suddenly very happy rosemary bush — stands at 20.156″.

UPDATE (3.18): While there was another half-inch more rain that dropped Saturday night and Sunday morning, I doubt if there was a single participant who wasn’t relieved and thankful that the storm abated before the start of the LA Marathon. The season total now stands at 20.656″.


Not counting my first 16/17 years when I didn’t have any reason to know any better, since then as a sports fan I’ve been taught this lesson too many times: Your heroes are expendable.

I learned it first and hardest when first baseman Steve Garvey was allowed to go to San Diego at the end of 1982. Eight baseball seasons of my childhood as a fan were literally anchored to the “Durable Dodgers” infield of Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell and Ron Cey. For me to ever consider that quartet unbreakable was unthinkable. Until, of course, it was broken up, first by trading Lopes to Oakland before the 1982 season.

A part of me still hasn’t forgiven, and all of me will never forget how unique it was to have been able to count on the same four players for so long. Something like that in this day and age of pro sports is about as unlikely thing to ever happen again.

The class on Harsh Reality was in session again yesterday in which I learned that Lakers great Derek Fisher was traded to Houston.

All I can do is shrug, though. And remember his character, his leadership and his clutch play best exemplified in what is no doubt in my mind the greatest and most improbable finish to a basketball game ever, during the 2004 playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs:


Not too long ago, Susan, Ranger and I did a hike up the Beaudry fireroad in the Verdugo Mountains, and while Ranger came away from the excursion with a tick next to her eye, I came away parasite-free and with a random acorn from the trail that I picked up with the intent to plant.

It has since risen to a seedling:

It was doing very well in the biodegradable seed cup I had buried it in (and was quickly outgrowing), and I can only cross my fingers and hope I didn’t do it any damage when I carefully extricated it and replanted it in a bigger pot with some fresher soil, as shown above.

I’m certainly nothing more than an armchair botanicationalist, and thus initially doubted it was any sort of oak since it wasn’t bearing the traditional oak leaf shape, but upon googling “acorn seedling” I eventually wound up at a nice web page sporting images of a Live Oak baby that looked remarkably like this one.

In case you weren’t aware, Live Oaks can live a loooooooong time, such as the one in Encino I wrote about 20 years ago that was determined to be more than 1,000 years old. Read and see all about it here.