Archive for February, 2013

You might remember last September when I wrote about visiting the garden of Bamboo Charlie (nee Charles Ray Walker) after I learned of his sudden demise. If not, you can read and see about it here.

Bamboo Charlie was homeless by choice and a beloved fixture in that area near the Boyle Heights Sears, carving out a quirky paradise on a slice of land near the east bank of the LA River. After I learned about him when his story made the LA Times, I failed to go see him when he was alive and so was heartbroken to only be able to visit his place after he was gone. It was a magical place.

One of the things I did when Susan and I visited was take a mature chili pepper from one of the many plants he had cultivated and put it in my pocket. When I got home, I harvested the seeds and planted them.

They sprouted and grew pretty quickly and even blossomed when pretty much everything else around the house was battening down for winter, but I wasn’t sure if the bees had pollinated any of the plant’s flowers. I should never doubt bees getting the job done because when taking out the trash yesterday, I glanced its way and was surprised to find two peppers have begun growing from where blooms had been, like so:


It’s a small tribute, but I’m happy to see Charlie’s legacy live on. Heretofore they are called The Red Hot Charlie Peppers.

I just read that the city of Pasadena has opened up its first “bicycle boulevard,” which comes during the same weekend that the city of Glendale unveiled its brand new Trail Safety Patrol Program. The best LA could do is get its mayor to sign a bike parking ordinance — not insignificant, mind you. But still somewhat indicative of a gridlocked metropolis that has its head stuck up a collective tailpipe.

Speaking of Glendale, it was my pleasure this Super Bowl Sunday morning (before heading down with Susan to my friends Arnold and Martha’s place in Newport Coast and cheering on the Ravens to victory) to be one of the first to be of service in a volunteer capacity in the Verdugo Mountains as part of the freshly minted program.

For my first excursion (timelapsed above), I and my fellow volunteers Paul Rabinov and Mark Kobayashi rode up into the Verdugos on a purely magnificent high-definition visibility day via the Beaudry North Motorway from the trailhead to the benches at the intersection of the Brand and Verdugo motorways before coming back to visit Tongva Peak and then heading back down to the trailhead via the Beaudry South Motorway.

It was an absolutely amazing day to be on the trails, introducing ourselves and the patrol to practically everyone we met along the way.

If Los Angeles was even half as open-minded and forward thinking about its open space trails being rightfully accessible to all modes of user instead of patently and institutionally discriminatory against the type I happen to favor then I’d be devoting my time to a trail safety patrol program in that city. But it’s not and it’s a safe bet to say they never will be. So Glendale? I’m all and proudly and bright-yellowly yours.


Glendale Trail Safety Patrol volunteer Mark Kobayahsi. and my smugly satisfied, blindlingly yellow-fied self atop Tongva Peak on such an incredible clear day. Photo by fellow volunteer Paul Rabinov.




Today’s topic is the WSTB — the Work Sample Test Battery — the standard physical agility test that anyone and everyone must pass in order to graduate from the public safety training program in which I’m currently enrolled. A non-pass/fail benchmark version was administered last Saturday to show each of us in the class where we each were at individually. Not coincidentally it’s the same exact test I took 17 months ago when applying to the institution.

The WSTB is comprised of five events, each one timed:

  • 99-Yard Obstacle Course
  • 6-Foot Solid Fence Climb (finished with 25-yard run)
  • 6-Foot Chain Link Fence Climb (finished with 25-yard run)
  • Body Drag (165-pound dummy dragged 32 feet)
  • 500-Yard Run

Readers of this blog with exceptional memories might remember that I wrote about my “triumph” at getting over the solid fence after I took that first test back in August 2011. The rest of you can refresh yourself with that post here, if you wish.

We were given our results from Saturday’s test last night and because I’m a comparison geek and very proud of the across-the-board improvements I’ve made between the two administrations of the WSTB separated by almost 1.5 years, I thought I’d lay down my results side by side:

 Event  August 26, 2011  January 26, 2013
 99-Yard Obstacle Course  19.4 seconds (179 points)  18.3 seconds (193 points)
 Solid Fence Climb  13.6 seconds (87 points)  7.3 seconds (177 points)
 Chain Link Fence Climb  8.2 seconds (75 points)  7.7 seconds (80 points)
 Body Drag  5.2 seconds (55 points)  4.5 seconds (57 points)
 500-Yard Run  129 seconds (25 points)  103 seconds (33 points)

Points are awarded based on an individual’s finishing time in each event, with those points obtained from the obstacle course and the two fence climbs comprising the largest percentage. Minimum passing score is 384 points, and if you happen to be blessed with super human speed and strength, you can actually get all those points from the obstacle course and the solid fence climb. For the rest of us mere mortals, the chain link fence and body drag and 500-yard run are needed to fill in the shortfall.

On August 26, 2011, I rumbled and bumbled (rather humbled) across the finish line with a total of 421 points. On January 26, 2013, I comparatively cruised to a score of 540. Though the differences in times are minimal in several cases, I’m hugely pleased to have shaved a full second off the obstacle course and 26 seconds in the run. But clearly the greatest gain both in time and points came from the success I had in getting over the solid fence.

But we’re just getting started. This initial test was basically a status update. We do it all over with a mid-term in March and then a final in April (and “final” is the operative word: pass and continue on, fail and be dismissed entirely from the program). Rather than rest on what I was able to achieve this past weekend, you can bet in the time between now and then I’ll be taking opportunities that will allow me to increase my individual and overall scores.