Se7en Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me

The rules:

1. Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
2. Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

I was tagged by Sean Bonner.

1) Valuable Lesson
Though no longer phobic nor as full of abject hatred for cockroaches as I once was, my previous fearful irrationality about the creatures can be traced back to the time when I  perhaps 4 or 5 years old, and not knowing any better while thirsty at La Cienega Park across the street from where I lived at the time, I picked up a can of Coke someone had left opened on a wall and when I found it still contained a fair amount of beverage I took a big swig only to immediately discover the can also contained a cockroach that was now crawling around my mouth. Needless to say I spat it out, squashed it and then for good measure jumped up and down on it until I was exhausted. Though I’ve mellowed with age these last few years, there was a long stretch of my life where I would cross a street to kill a cockroach.

2) It Is Never Better To Be Sorry Than Safe
In addition to pepper spray that I’ve carried mounted on my bike since the summer of 2007 I now carry a stun gun with me whenever I ride. I hope I never have to use either or even threaten to do so, but if such a situation presents itsel, I’m a firm believer in it being better to have something and not need it than the other way around.

3) A Cartoon Made Me Do It
Some of you may already know this about me, but that’s why “probably” is in the headline: In what’s perhaps the most brazen thing I’ve ever done in my life, I purchased a Penthouse magazine when I was 8 years old. Why would I want such a thing? Well, because of the funny pages of course. A previous visit to a barbershop had me sitting next to a gentleman who was perusing a copy and at one point he turned a page and I spied this marvelous half-nekkid busomy vixen with wild black hair in a comic called “Oh Wicked Wanda!” and I went into full-tilt WANT mode. I committed the mag’s title to memory, saw it was carried in the neighborhood liquor store and shortly thereafter, a plan was hatched.

Utilizing my freshly learned cursive writing skills I “forged” a note from my “father” authorizing the store’s clerk on the corner of Tower Drive and Wilshire Boulevard to “Please sell my son one Penthouse magazine.” Though scared shitless I nevertheless went into the place with the note and a bag full of allowance pennies/nickels/dimes, where I first pretended to be interested in the candy. When I’d milled around the place enough and it finally time to put up or shut up, I walked up to the counter with the note and the money. The clerk, a big bearded dude read it (one can only imagine how poor the handwriting was), looked at me, looked at the note and there was that frozen moment where the entire existence of the world hinged on his response. Then he nodded with a smile that I can only describe as impressed, turned grabbed a copy and bagged it. As he counted out the change I looked everywhere but at him, and when he was done, he slid the leftover coins back to me and then handed me the treasure. I did my best not to run out of the store.

The tragic end of the story is that I never got to look at it. When I got back to the apartment, my mom was home from work and all I could do was quick-stash the issue under the mattress. That wasn’t the problem, The problem was the next day turned out to be the day our twice-monthly housekeeper Bob came and cleaned the apartment. Of course he changed my bedsheets and of course he found the Penthouse and of course he called my mother at work at with “Guess what I found under your son’s bed!?”

To her credit my mother was not outraged. The way she tells it, when Bob called her in shock and surprise, she told him that she was just glad to know I liked girls and not boys. Then she instructed Bob to throw the trash out. That evening she confronted me with the news and asked me where I’d gotten it. I told her I’d found it on the way home from school because I didn’t want to give up my source, in case I ever decided to try again — which I didn’t.

4) Nerves Of Steal
I went through a ridiculous clepto phase as a kid. I would take stuff just to take it. Once I stole a treasured stopwatch from my godparents. Because it was shiny. I hid it by burying it in the dirt, which of course ruined it. In that same time frame I stole my friend’s Schwinn Stingray. He lived around the corner from me and I hid it in the back of the apartment building. As if I was ever going to be able to ride the thing.

5) Rescue Me
As an adult, I am helpless to bike by a lost plush toy without stopping and rescuing it. The most recent one found was last week during the rains. Flickr pic.

6) At The Sound Of The Beep
Most of you already know I’m a fool, here’s just the latest proof. This Sunday morning I heard an electronic beep-beep-beep that would pause and then beep-beep-beep again. I tried to ignore it, but as I took out the trash I lost it and suddenly the most important thing in the world was finding and killing the source of that beep-beep-beep. It didn’t take long to locate where it was coming from: inside the debris bin stationed in front of our house and rapidly filling with splinters and rusty nails and plaster and lathe and other crap currently being demolished as part of our upstairs renovation.

Did I go inside like the smart person I often allege myself to be and change out of my flip-flops into some sturdier shoes, while also grabbing a pair of work gloves? Maybe don some long pants while I was at it? Nah. I just climbed in and clambered to the top of this decidedly unstable pile of potential tetanus shots and pain and commenced trying to pinpoint the beep-beep-beep’s position, which was of course some unknown depth beneath the surface of the stuff and required much shifting and shoving of junk.

Eventually over the course of several minutes I moved enough of the crap to uncover the source and it was a smoke detector, whose tone was a warning that the unit had detected its hard wiring had become detached. No shit. In fact, it was the same smoke detector I wrote about last November here.

By all rights I should have stabbed/scratched my hands/feet/ankles/wrists several times over. But in there among all that injury potential, ironically the only wounds I suffered came when I was unsuccessful in opening the device to get at the 9V battery so instead I bashed at it with my left fist lacerating a knuckle until it cracked apart and I was able to yank its guts out and triumphantly put an end to the beep-beep-beep.

7) Ride The High Country
I am harboring delusions of going to Death Valley this March, but the nutso part isn’t in the going, it’s that when I get there I want to get a dawn start from Ubehebe Crater and ride my bike the 26 miles of really bad road to Racetrack Playa where my wonderful wife Susan would then meet me and we would camp out that night on the Grandstand. That’s been at the top of my “To Do In Death Valley” list since my first visit in February 2003. If I don’t do that this March, then it’ll be November. Defintely going to cross that off in ’09.

Who I’m tagging: Susan Campbell, Bryan Frank, July Frey, Joel Ordesky, Liz Rizzo, Mike Schneider, Heather Schlegel.

She’s So Crafty

Aha! My mom-away-from-mom (otherwise known as my mother-in-law) Jeanette is quite the crafty one. Not only in the wonderful handmade things she designs and makes (most recently for us a really cool Halloween card), but also in her ability to tag me from her blog to participate in a meme that a fellow blogging craftian previously ensnared her in.

Jeanette writes:

Here are the rules:

  1. Link your tagger.
  2. Share seven facts on your blog – some random, some wierd.
  3. Tag seven people at the end of the post by leaving names as well as links to their blogs.
  4. Let them know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Done, done and as follows, done:

  1. I have logged almost 5,600 miles commuting by bike across Los Angeles this year and have managed to avoid all vehicles in motion and at rest, except for one. And it was at rest.
  2. As a child I taught myself how to tie my shoelaces in an effective manner but one lacking both efficiency or style. I tie my shoes the same way to this day.
  3. A piece of my hip bone was removed and installed to serve as the reconstructed bridge of my nose when it was destroyed along with other facial parts and systems in a motorcycle accident 13 years ago. Thanks to an excellent cosmetic surgeon the extracted section of bone was shaped so precisely a planned titanium screw to hold it in place was not required.
  4. I walked 28 miles last Saturday from one end of Western Avenue in Los Angeles to the other. It took more than 11 hours. I did this with five other fantastic urban explorers for fun. Some say, I have a weird idea of fun.
  5. I carry kibble and jerky treats with me in my backpack should I encounter any hungry stray dogs on my bike rides.
  6. I have never been to places like Rwanda and Zanzibar and Argentina, but I have never been to New York City.
  7. I have a story that’s been in my head for a couple years that I’ve finally started writing involving a young boy, a certain mythological fairy that collects teeth on a pay-per basis, and a monster living in the kid’s closet. I want to go into details here, but if I do then I won’t write it.  Personal bias notwithstanding, it has the potential to be quite entertaining. Unless I fuck it up.

Seven totally random bloggers I tagged (seriously, I do not know them at all, I Googled “random blog” and randomly tagged the following (I hope they don’t hate me too much for it):

  1. Random Blog
  2. My Random blog
  3. Random Good Stuff
  4. Random Camera Blog
  5. Random Blog From A Random Person
  6. My Random Blog
  7. Blog Random

Interview With The Three Felines

So my baby was catching up on my blog and found a comment to my Dodger game post from Shannon and when she clicked over to read her blog called “Sha in L.A.” she found a cat interview meme and took it upon herself to put the following questions to Bink, which you can read here. Susan left it to me to interview the other three cats in the house:

Top to bottom: Pepper, Jiggy, Pumpkin

1. Your ages?

Pepper: 8 last week.
Jiggy: 3 1/2 — but don’t bother asking Pumpkin… he’s a bit “challenged” shall we say?
Pumpkin: I’m the Pumpkin!
Jiggy: Pumpkin’s about 4-1/2.

2. Your ages when came to live with your people?

Pepper: 1
Jiggy: 12 weeks or so.
Pumpkin: I’m the Pumpkin!
Jiggy (sighing): I’d guess Pumpkin was about 1-1/2.

3.What color are the collars you’re wearing right now?

Pepper: Collars? I don’t wear no stinking collars.
Jiggy: Likewise.
Pumpkin: What’s a collar? I’m the Pumpkin!

Continue reading Interview With The Three Felines

Deeper Meme-ing

Ahhh yes, I found I have been tagged to provide “Eight Things You Don’t Know About Me” by my favorite red-headed Pittsburghian grad student Carolyn who over at her Pinky’s Paperhaus blog has seen fit to include me in her chain. Other than qualifying the title with “Probably” between the “You” and the “Don’t” let’s get on with it shall we?

1. I was born with shortened achilles tendons and walked in a modified tiptoe for most of my childhood. To correct this I had to wear a variety of clunky orthopedic shoes as a child that worked to stretch the tendons. The absolute coolest part (and by that I mean entirely not cool) was that the shoes were outfitted with complete with those metallic taps on the heel whose *click* sound or lack thereof was respectively designed to remind me that I was either walking correctly or not. You can just bet I loved tapping down echoing elementary school hallways.

Fortunately by the mid-1970s, the famous Earth Shoe with its negative heel came into being and by 5th grade from then I was shod in a slightly more stylish (at least for the time) and decidedly less noisy shoe. And they worked. My tendons were declared officially elongated by the following year.

2. At 12 years old I wanted to be a decathlete after Bruce Jenner won the Olympic decathlon in Montreal in 1976. I even went to see my favorite phys-ed instructor, Coach Hills, at Le Conte Junior High during summer school and told him of my goal. He very realistically asked me where the hell was I going to find the athleticism required, much less a pole to vault over anything with. That was the end of that dream.

3. I knew instantaneously that a relationship in its early stages with an otherwise wonderul gal during the summer of 1984 was over when during a hot tub party the subject turned to favorite writers and after I earnestly said Hemingway was one of mine, she sounded off in all her learned San Diego State freshmen-year glory about her abject hatred for him, adamantly insisting he was too verbose, with the others present pretty much in agreement. Excusing myself I calmly got out of water, dried off, dressed, left and never spoke to her nor saw her again.

4. I wore a t-shirt with the famous Farrah Fawcett poster on it for my eighth grade school picture. In ninth grade I wore overalls, which were all the rage that year.

5. When I was in third grade down the driveway alongside the apartment building I lived in I’d onyourmarksgetsetgo race airplanes passing high overhead and think I beat them.

6. I’m self-taught in the art of shoelace tying. The method I figured out on my own as a kid is clumsy and slow and wrong but it works for me still to this day.

7. At around the same time I was racing planes I accidentally discovered how to roll my tongue when I said the word “checkers.”

8. I secretly heart memes (but I do not tag anyone directly).


Fellow blogger Julia who I met alongside the LAX runway when we both went there to see the humonstrous new Airbus A380 historically come to town back in March (who knew my YouTube clip of the landing would garner more than 11,000 views!) has tagged me with a meme that she in turn was tagged with last month, the rules of which are as follows:

  1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  2. People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own eight random things, and post these rules.
  3. At the end of your post you need to tag eight people and include their names
  4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Meme party pooper though I may be, I’m going to ignore the last two rules as I never move a meme beyond me to anyone specific, instead choosing the much safer route of inviting any readers to pick up the ball and run with it if they so desire and then link post a comment linking me to it. So with that here’s my eight random/facts, habits, and anything else that comes to mind:

1. When I sit working at a computer I have to have a sharpened pencil behind my left ear. Rarely do I actually write with it. Most often whenever I take a break from typing I’ll grab it and drum it on the desk or twirl it in my fingers for a few seconds or gently poke the pencil point against my fingers before re-docking it on my ear.

This is not a life-long habit. It developed after I quit smoking 10 years ago I think as something of a substitute tactile stimulation that replaced the cigarettes.

2. Speaking of aural issues, I’m not sure if it’s a structural issue with my lobes or I’m just going deaf, but when riding a bike generally at anything greater than 10 miles per hour that movement is enough to generate a windsound across my ears that blocks out most conversation delivered at normal speaking levels. As most people I ride with don’t yell when they ride I have to ask them to repeat themselves.

And no, I don’t have to have a sharpened pencil behind my left ear when I ride.

3. On the bike tip, for a lot of the shorter or local rides a lot of people I cruise with can just hop on their bikes and go. Not me. Whether I’m riding five miles or 50, before I saddle up I make sure I’m packing with the following (in no real order): first-aid kit, innertube patch kit, two spare innertubes, tire irons, spare chain, flashlight, knife, pepper spray, writing pen, notepad, camera, spare camera battery, lip balm, jacket, bandana, gloves, helmet, pump, multi-tool, chain tool, socket wrench, full water bottle, energy bar(s), hand wipes, MTA fare tokens, lock, cell phone, wallet, whistle, necklace with dogtag and lucky travel mojo. Optionals: flask of Drambuie and a Motorola walkabout radio.

4. Following in the footsteps of Julia’s literary-related answers, the first book I ever read was Richard Bach’s “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.” I was in third grade. Like Julia I too was 13 when I read Stephen King’s “The Shining.” I no longer read much by him but “The Shining” will always be on my all-time favorites list.

5. When I was a really young kid I thought I was related to Dodgers pitching legend Sandy Koufax because we were both left-handed.

6. I was glad Earl won in the recently concluded season of “Survivor” but I never forgave him for killing a snake in one of the early episodes who was bisected for the crimes of being venomous and within striking distance to unnerved Earl’s machete.

7. I remember all too fondly and forelornly when television was filled with shows crafted by things called “writers” who used their “imaginations” to “create” interesting “plots” filled with “characters” that were given life by “actors” who moved them through a series of humorous and/or dramatic events. Now I sadly and more often find crack television like the above-mentioned “Survivor” and “American Idol” and “The Next Big Thing” and “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Hell’s Kitchen” and “The Next Top Model,” some of which I find myself increasingly and shamefully addicted.

8. When I do any type of extended manual labor such as yard work (today) or moving my fingernails are always sore and tender to the touch afterward. Am I alone in this affliction?

Taking Stock & Looking Ahead

As I finish up my third consecutive week working here in El Segundo, I’m pretty pleased with my cumulative commute score of 6-6-2, which translates to six days driving, six days mass-transitting, and two days bike commuting. Certainly the less I’m crawling the freeways in my truck, the better. But still… I could’ve been a lot lazier and the tally could’ve been a lot worse. And, hey eight non-vehicular days are nothing sneer-worthy.

Still, it could’ve been better, especially these last two drag-ass mornings that left me running late and with little choice but to drive. Today I was just no-excuse stupid slow, as opposed to yesterday where I could blame the rain if I really wanted to, but I won’t. I was on track to bus-train-train it on-time, but wussed out. Though I must admit that the super-slow surface street drive* home last night and my wonderful encounter with the window punching self-entitled urchin (see yesterday’s post below) notwithstanding, it was nice not to be out in the inclementia.

* The eastbound 105 was so hellishly clogged the
trip to the 110 Freeway was optimistically
estimated to take 25 minutes, so I just stayed away.

Yet still I’m the kind that’s irked at easy ways out and so next week I’ll be back at it, looking to go 0-4-1 or even 0-3-2… or at the worst 1-3-1. If I’m a real bad ass I might set out at like 4:30 a.m. and get one more pre-marathon training trek in and walk the 15.5 miles to work. Hell, that’ll require a whole new scoring column… something like 0-3.5-0.5-1. I know, I know: get the net.

In the interim I’m sure Susan and I will log a four-mile walk around the neighborhood this weekend, and Sunday’s shaping up to be a bright bright sunshiny day for my planned group bike ride from the Cornfield at noon down to Watts Towers for a tour and back. Despite the short notice it looks like it’s generated some interest, and though I’m always retiscent to predict turnout it wouldn’t surprise me if I roll up on Simon Rodia’s awe-inspiring creation with 20 – 30 of my fellow cycling citizens.

Cinco Cosas Que Usted No Sabe Probablemente Sobre Mi

I wasn’t invited to this meme party but I saw Cybele was and so was Sean too so without explanation or my usually extrapolation I’m chronologically crashing this “Five Things You (Probably) Don’t Know About Me” thing:

1) My nickname as a baby pretty much up until I hit double digits was “twig.”

2) Dad? At 5 years old I thought I was related to famed L.A. Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax because we were both left-handed.

3) Weapon of mass distraction. At 7 years old I peed on someone in self defense.

4) Not worthy! The scariest thing I’ve ever done was when I was 24 and mounted the gentleman caller scene from Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” on three-days rehearsal with the wonderful actress Beverly Leech for Stella Adler in one of her legendary master classes.

5) Permission to come aboard! I joined the United States Navy. Twice, at age 18 and again at 28. Passed the physical, took the oath and everything. Never served. Discharged both times. Loooooooong stories.

Bonus) Cross my heart and hope to die. At 30 I had a needle stuck in my eye. While wide awake. No anesthetic Had to watch it and everything.