Archive for December, 2012

rain1213The weatherfolk were talking about last night’s/this morning’s system serving up a second helping today, but I’m calling this storm done, one that dropped a half-inch of rain into our backyard precipitometer. Mayhaps the current bluster and blue skies will give way to more gray later, but I’m not going to sit around waiting for it.

December 13: 0.5″
Season Total: 6.6225″

I’m not usually so tardy with my timelapsings, but then rarely do I attempt to capture anything more than a couple hours. This one — November 17th’s 7th-annual Great Los Angeles Walk, organized by Franklin Avenue Blog’s Michael Schneider — ran a weeee bit longer. Starting at about 9:30 a.m. and traversing a 17-mile route over about eight hours from downtown to Ocean Park in Santa Monica, my attempt wasn’t a total success. An inexplicable camera fail resulted in the stretch walked on Melrose between La Brea and almost La Cienega being unrecorded. And then there was the matter of the rain that fell upon us that day eventually being enough to get into the camera housing and fog-up of the lens the last couple miles.

Those discouraging things were quantified by YouTube repeatedly aborting attempts to upload the mega-sized files of higher-resolution versions, until I gave up for awhile until finally exported it in a stripped down old-school 320×240 and said to hell with it. YouTube finally relented and so here it is, an 11:21 minute  jerkjumpy document of a long walk across the city.

Last Saturday was the training day scheduled for the freshly minted volunteers of the inaugural class of Glendale’s Trail Safety Patrol program. I was among 17 others who sat in the Glendale Police Department’s Community Room for eight hours to learn about procedures, first aid, protocols, and such.

A reporter from the Glendale News-Press, Brittany Levine, was also in attendance. By far the most engaging segment of the day involved Glendale Police Officer Larry Ballesteros who discussed the best ways to deal with the inevitable “difficult” people we will meet on the trails. He asked for examples and I offered a scenario involving a speeding mountain biker. The ensuing exchange between myself and Ballesteros made it into her article published yesterday introducing the program.

Not being a regular reader of that newspaper, but being a regular reader of Rodger Jacobs, my thanks go to him for finding it and mentioning the article on his blog.

The pilot program set to begin next month rises from the ashes of cutbacks first to the city’s rangers and then to its naturalists program that basically has left Glendale’s 5,000 acres of open space pretty much unmonitored this past couple years.  The Trail Safety Patrol is modeled after the successful Mountain Bike Unit (MBU) program, which I was a member of in 2004-2005. It was during that same period that Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge was considering changes to Griffith Park’s master plan. Much to the joy of equestrians and hikers he ultimately bowed to the pressure they induced and opted to keep the long-standing mountain biking trail ban in place, and in the summer of 2005 I wrote him lengthily asking that he consider implementing an “MBU-Lite” version in Griffith Park, after the jump.

Needless to say LaBonge gave it zero consideration.


Bit of a somber day, what with the passing and burial of our frog Hop. Funny how such things can sdrain the color from a day. But I finally snapped out of my funk to bring some color to our standard icicle’d eaves and reindeer in the form of some strings of never-before-used lights, three of which fit perfectly in framing the entire railing across the front of the house (click it for the bigger picture):

Happy holidays!


“Baby?” Susan said softly this morning with a serious undertone that indicated something had happened.


There was a pause.

“Hop’s dead.”

She’d found him last night before going to bed.

“Oh,” I sighed. “I’m sorry about that.”

Hop became part of our family a couple years ago or so when we adopted him from my friend Sean Bonner along with two other European treefrogs he’d had. The trio was driving him crazy with the racket they’d make at inopportune times, such as the middle of the night or during business calls. Susan, to my surprise, approved of the transfer and quickly named them Hop, Skip, and Ajump.

Skip and Ajump, the Europeans, died within the first year, but Hop proved to be of tougher stuff, and Susan dutifully made weekly trips to the local pet store for crickets that she regularly fed him. I’d augment his diet with the occasion fly I’d trap under glass and release into his aquarium. He was a swift and sure hunter.

The most remarkable thing about Hop was his call. He didn’t make it much the last year or so, but there were times before that when he’d let loose with a series of loud and sharp noises that best could be described as sounding like a small dog barking. Yap! Yap! Yap! Sometimes it would go on for a few seconds. Sometime a minute or more. Seriously, it was quite the surprise that something so loud came from something so small, and one of my goals was to get audio  of the vocal display. It proved impossible, because he’d always clam up before I was ready to record.

Frog’s are decidedly difficult to read so it was also impossible to know if we were doing right by Hop. My main presumption was that if we were doing something drastically wrong, Hop wouldn’t have hung around as long as he did. Still, I’d thought about getting him a tank mate, but not enough to risk Hop not getting along with the new amphib, or perhaps getting along too well and producing a bunch of little Hops. I was also notoriously lax on cleaning his home, but he actually seemed to be troubled more during the few times I would scour it, then if I left it alone to just become an algae growing experiment.

Susan came downstairs, checked the tank and then came into the study a few minutes ago as I was writing this. “Hop’s still dead,” she said.

“Yeah. I’ll clean out the tank after I finish this.”

There was brief talk of a more convenient and disrespectful disposal, but we decided to bury him in the side yard. It will be a simple and quick ceremony, but far more fitting a family member than flushing.



You don’t remember that thing I wrote about DIY’ing a loooong-leaking hose faucet last January, do you? Of course you don’t. Imention it because after being proving myself to be so slow to put off what in essence turned out to be such an easy and water- and money-saving fix, one would think that if any other H2O-No! pops up around our 106-year-old domecile, my conservational self would hippity hop to getting it repaired, yes?

Not so much.

Case in point: the fill valve inside the toilet in the bathroom off the study. It literally has been running for about nine months. Not pouring, mind you. In fact, the flow was slight enough as to be almost imperceptible. But it was continuous nonetheless — 24/7/365. And I’ve been aware of it aaaaall thiiiiiiis time.

Suffice it to say it was ever on my to-do list, but always getting bumped to the bottom.

Not that I did nada. As best I figured it, the valve was not shutting completely after flushing. As the water would refill in the tank, it would almost-but-nooooooot-quiiiite close off. So hell yeah: I tinkered with it on a whole bunch of occasions — twisting a screw there, repositioning the floatball here… I even went so far as to buy a replacement assembly at the local hardware store about six months ago. But it was 15 inches tall, whereas the tank won’t accommodate anything more than a foot high.

So the fill valve went on incessantly overfilling. Draining water with juuuuuuust-so-slight a ssssssssssssssss and the occasional very quiet “gloip” noise that sounded as if the world’s smallest cottonmouth snake with a burping problem was living in there.

But of course, I wouldn’t be writing about this if there wasn’t a happy ending, right?


It came in the form of the Fluidmaster 400LS Fill Valve With Leak Sentry Technology, that I found in the back end of my closest Home Depot yesterday. Ten bucks.

Not only reasonably priced, but miracle of miracles, I dropped it in and it went to work without me having to do the slighest bit of adjusting.

And that makes me nervous. So whenever I’m at my desk I keep an ear toward the bathroom, to hear if the tiny burping snake has snuck back.

Sssssssso far, sssssssssso good.


Though the storm system now leaving the area was pretty much deluge-poor and instead mostly a steady dripper these last four to five days, the tedium of the lack of variation was beginning to feel a bit like we might be headed for 40 days and nights.

Don’t misunderstand me, I luvz me a good and long rainstorm, but I also have about a three-day limit to my tolerance before the steady grayness becomes heinous and I want to will all the low hung mung far, far away.

Deficiencies in downpourings notwithstanding, this slow-rolling series ended up dribbling an exceptional total amount onto our Silver Lake backyard. According to our trusty precipitometer, it fell to the tune of about 3/16ths shy of four inches, or 3.8125″ if you want a more exact estimation (pictured at right, click it for the bigger picture).

November 28 – December 3: 3.8125″
Season Total: 6.1225″