Archive for April, 2013

Tommy’s Burger With A Side Of Bike Hate

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

photoMy friend David and I have made it something of an irregular tradition to walk to Tommy’s for lunch every few months, and schedules conspired to allow us to do that today, joined by his brother-in-law Mark who was in town to participate in Sunday’s CicLAvia.

So after we got our burgers and fries and drinks, we settled into a section of counter near the end, and conversation included my TAP card travails and, of course, CicLAvia, which apparently caught the attention of an elderly gent a few feet away, who approached after I mentioned coming back to downtown via the Blue Line that day.

He stepped toward us saying how he heard me mention the Blue Line and that it’s his firm belief that bikes have no business being brought on the trains.

I held myself back from saying something impolite  and instead curiously inquired as to why he was so firmly against the acceptable and encouraged practice. He replied that cyclists already have a form of transportation at their disposal and they shouldn’t be crowding up the train cars.

Wide-eyed at such an idiotic statement, I started to point out that by his logic walking was a form of transportation, so why wasn’t he an equal opportunity hater in feeling the same about all those pesky pedestrians loading up the trains, but realized I was in a battle of wits with an unarmed geezer.

And the fact is, there is a kernel of truth buried deep under his bullshit. MTA rail cars are really not designed to accommodate anything but passengers, and I don’t think they ever will be. One needs to remember that back in the early days of our reconstructed light rail system, bikes were not only allowed on trains during limited time-frame windows, but you actually had to be registered and carry an MTA-issued picture ID card that had to be presented upon demand.

We’ve come a long way since then, baby. But it’s been an uncomfortable integration.

Today sure, a couple cyclists with consideration can position themselves out of everyone’s way, but it’s still awkward, at best. Add more cyclists and compound it with the inconsideration that is too often demonstrated in blocking aisles and doors and seats, and to a degree I can appreciate where this grumpy old man is coming from. I could just imagine him on the Blue Line on Sunday with a train car overloaded with raucous bikes and riders coming to or going from the event, and all he can do is get progressively grumpier as the trip went along.

But instead of  commiserating with him, I asked him next if he felt the same about bikes and buses. And he was quick to say they had no place there either. When I mentioned the bikes are stowed outside the bus, that didn’t matter to him. He just shook his head vehemently, spitting out some more generalized negativity that concluded with this doozy:

“Bikes are the reason for everything that’s wrong in this city.”

I stood stunned for a moment, trying somehow to understand how someone could wholesale equate cycling to “everything that’s wrong…” to the city’s struggling economy and to its crime and to its homelessness and to its school drop-out rate, and its gridlock. How does one even begin to counterpunch such a ridiculous haymaker? People with more patience and smarts might know, but for me there is simply no way or reason to continue a discussion or debate with so spiteful an intellect of such a small caliber.

So I didn’t.  Instead, I wished real hard to myself that I never be so hateful and stupid about anything if I’m fortunate enough to get to be this kook’s age, while out loud I brought it to his attention that by insulting and demonizing cyclists as a whole he was in fact insulting and demonizing me — to which he replied that he didn’t care and restated that all of us are inherently detrimental to his way of living (or at least what little living he’s got left).

With that clarifying point of order out of the way I then admonished him for making such a despicably baseless judgment and criticism, adding that though I was personally raised not to make such uninformed criticisms, he and his insults were making it hard for me not to formulate one about him. Raising my voice well over his and in no uncertain terms I insisted that in the interest of stopping his senseless jawing so that he could return to gumming the remainder of his Tommy’s burger, he vacate my vicinity as quickly as was physically possible for a man of his years.

That caught him off-balance, and some flustered words fell out of his mouth whose syllables quickly broke apart into gibberish, before he realized we weren’t ever going to be friends and complied with my directive to cease and desist being audibly inane in my specific direction.

David, Mark and I hung around long enough to finish our meals and for my hackles to lay back down, before taking our leave to ruminate on the walk home the fact that no matter the issue, some people will find a way to magnify it out of proportion and hate on it all the harder.

 

 

CicLAvia Interrupted

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

This incomplete video tells the story of my incomplete plan to ride the full CicLAvia route from downtown to the sea and still have plenty of time to get to a volunteer appointment at spcaLA’s adoption facility in Hawthorne at 1PM.

I didn’t get on the route until 10:45AM, and basically had to bail an hour later when epic bicycular gridlock left me only able to traverse about a third of the 15-mile course. With my appointment looming I headed south from Venice Boulevard at Arlington in the Mid-City District through West Adams, Jefferson Park and Leimert Park, getting on Crenshaw Boulevard for the rest of the journey up over the heights of Morningside Park and down past the 105 Freeway to El Segundo Boulevard.

On the way back I biked only to the 105 Freeway and boarded the Green Line to the Willowbrook Station where I boarded the Blue Line back to downtown. Detouring over to the Bicycle Bread Company, afterward the uncharacteristically balky camera only records a brief stretch up Union to 7th Street before powering down.

Commute-LAvia

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

This Sunday is the next CicLAvia, in which a route through the city is closed off to motor vehicular traffic and open only to the wide variety of self-propellers: cyclists, walkers, joggers, skateboarders, skaters, and the like.

I’m looking forward to this one in particular because of a couple firsts. The first first is that the course is brand new, spanning between downtown and the beach mostly via Venice Boulevard (click the graphic below for the bigger picture).

ciclavia

The second first is that contrary to every one of the past five CicLAvias I’ve participated in, I actually don’t have the day to myself and instead have someplace to be. Fortunately that place is down South Bay way and thus I’m relieved that I can avoid missing my first CicLAvia by incorporating it part of my overall roundabout outbound commute.

Specifically, I have to be in Hawthorne by 1 p.m. ready to participate in an spcaLA-offered beginner dog training class. So my plan is to roll downtown around 9 a.m., and just get meandering west until I arrive at Venice and then make my way around the marina and across Ballona Creek onto the bike path that winds its way alongside the sand out of Dockweiler State Beach. From there I’ll bail inland and back onto the streets via Imperial Highway, working my way onward via a staircase of eastbound/southbound/eastbound/southbound streets until I arrive at my destination, like so:

restway

Depending how I’m feeling about pedaling the entire distance home afterward, I may head up Crenshaw to Leimert Park and roll back home across the basin, or I’ll just ride the rails back into downtown by intersecting with a Green Line train to the Blue Line (perhaps working in a stop at Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers since I’ll be in that area).

Vanity Inanity

Monday, April 15th, 2013

license_20130415071614_94143At right is a re-creation of the vanity license plate I saw on the ass of the ridiculously large and and even more ridiculously expensive-looking Fleetwood Revolution LE Earth Schooner cruising eastbound ahead of me in the No. 3 lane of the Pomona Freeway on Friday.

Maybe your interpretation is the correct one, but my reading of the incomplete words was as “SWEAT SUCKS,” which was followed by a semi-incredulous shrug of my shoulders while thinking that if the vehicle’s owner is proud to broadcast his or her or their aversion to any type of physical activity either laborious or recreational that produces perspiration, so be it.

Whatever floats your land boat, Jabba.

But then I got close enough to read the custom frame around the plate (also re-created below), and though it clarified things entirely it opened up a whole other level of incredulity, while inducing some chuckle-induced eye-rolling:

frameInstead of “SWEAT SUCKS,” the plate was an approximation of “SWEET SUCCESS.”

Full Disclosure: I am of the unwavering opinion that with the possible exception of 0.00002 percent of ALL the vanity plates in existence in the galaxy, the rest are lame.

So it is that from so unapologetically biased a basis I decree this particular plate is among the other 99.99998 percent, first and foremost because in the list of unwritten rules regarding vanity plates (the first one being: Don’t get a vanity plate), one of the top ones is:

If, in the course of requesting and acquiring a vanity plate, there is any possible ambiguity in the lettering that could cause a misread, you shouldn’t get that vanity plate.

I can just imagine this owner smugly ordering and blissfully attaching this plate to his spanking new Fleetwood’s backside, proud to proclaim his financial achievement and totally blind to the fact that it can be so easily misread… until it’s finally brought to his attention by other lesser motorists at various red lights or RV parks.

“Ha! ‘Sweat sucks!’ That’s funny! I hate sweat, too!”

“No! It’s ‘Sweeeeeeet successssssss!’

“Oh. Well… ‘Sweat sucks’ is better.”

“But it’s –.”

“Whatever, dude.”

Eventually it happened enough times where the owner frustratingly figured he had to get the frame to put a stop to the madness. And that’s where the unwritten subsection of that unwritten rule above comes in, involving the unfortunate after-the-fact realization of the confusion inducement:

If, after acquiring the plate you only then are made aware that it is being misread, you should immediately surrender the plate and by no means purchase and install a customized frame to clarify and or correct and or otherwise correctly and completely spell out the misinterpreted wording.

Of course, there’s no real penalty for breaking these rules, just as there’s no real cure for dumbshit. But in looking further into this specific violation one wishes there were ordinances prohibiting a person’s transgressions against basic common sense — for their own safety!

Allow me to explain, by showcasing the specific recreational vehicle in question, one which  veritably turns full-sized quad-cab pick-up trucks into Tonka Toys like this, by the way (click it for the bigger picture):

2010 Fleetwood Revolution 42W LE 3 Slides + full sideslide

Check out the size. This beast is 43 feet long. It’s powered by a 400-horsepower diesel engine. Width and height I’d guesstimate to be 10 feet and 12 feet, respectively. Something that big comes with a big price tag. A quick check of the internut found used and new ones in a price range spanning $200,000 to $400,000.

Four. Hundred. Thousand. Dollars. Gasoline not included.

In a nutshell: the vehicle alone makes a bigger-than-bold statement. By itself it already screams FLTHYRCH, so putting a vanity plate as a backside exclamation that augments that blaring point is RDNDNT at best and DNG STPD, at worst.

Why stupid? Well see, it’s all well and good if the only attention this vehicle attracts is from the likes of mild-mannereds like me and the reactions don’t go past smirks, chuckling and eye rolls.

But seeing as it’s piloted by a privileged 1-percenter hogging up the public highway lanes across this great city, county, state, and country, rolling along surrounded by the rest of us 99-percenters, there are inevitably some far more desperate and angry than I who instead of seeing a humongous RV with a lame vanity plate and a lamer explanatory frame, sees a giant bag of money driven flagrantly by someone who just has to be an equally ginormous tool. Maybe they imagine a neon sign in the rear window that says RIPE FOR THE PICKING and/ or a bumper sticker that reads:

DRIVER CARRIES NO MORE
THAN $10,000 IN CASH.

Maybe it’s a 65-year-old handyman who’ll be lucky to retire at all and sees nothing funny about it. Maybe it’s a 20-something day laborer with a family back in Mexico who hasn’t been able to send money home in a month for lack of work. Maybe it’s a gangbanger and his homies with nothing better to do. Maybe it’s a guy rapidly approaching 50 who’s putting himself through a training program at his own expense in hopes of landing a job that barely pays him in a year a tenth of the top-end cost for that RV. Oops, that last one’s a bit too close to home.

Without belaboring it any more than I’ve already belabored it, my point is: One person’s “success” is another’s “sucks.”  Especially so the latter when it’s those that fail at recognizing they’re doing themselves no favors by flaunting their SUCS to those among us who think that SUCS.

 

 

Backyard Workout: First Set Of Ten

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

With the scheduled physical training component of my public safety training coming to a close, it’s time to open up on my own and be my own drill instructor (minus the yelling). So I set out this morning to do a three-station set of simple and effective exercises: jump rope (100 reps), sit-ups (25 reps) and push-ups (15 reps), followed by 60 seconds of recovery before doing it again.

Times 10. It took about 30 minutes and succeeded in getting my pulse rate elevated while working my lower, mid and upper body:

A half-hour after I started this first set, I’dcranked out 1,000 jump rope reps, 250 sit-ups and 150 push-ups… just the kind of warm-up I needed to for  2.5-mile jog.

I swear I’m beginning to like this stuff.

First Flight

Monday, April 8th, 2013

A small chrysalis found in the backyard dirt a couple weeks ago developed in the safety of our old frogquarium where I placed it, and when I checked it this afternoon found the moth within had emerged:

moth

So I popped the top and just managed to catch it on camera before it lifted off.

This is not to be confused with the giant chrysalis found March 6 that’s also in the frogquarium still a work-in-progress.

Morning Routine

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Part of our morning routine: Pumpkin, Ranger, Patchy, The Jig, and Pepper nomming in their regular spots. Not shown: Bink, who prefers to dine upstairs rather than mix with the proletariat. Also not shown: The elaborately choreographed pre-nom dance that happens with everyone eventually winding up where they’re supposed to be.