A Gadget Mystery For Today & All Time: How Did These Cat Pictures Get On My iPhone?

A couple days ago, as I do on a basis sometimes more semi-regular than regular, I dumped all the photos accumulated on my iPhone onto my desktop’s iPhoto program. Except this time some of the image being imported weren’t my photos, namely those eight above that feature a passel of black-and-white kittens, taken Friday, May 11, specifically between 11:13 and 11:23 a.m.

No, seriously: I did not take those. I’ve never even seen those kitties or know anyone who is raising such a crew of cats. Most certainly I can assure you that I DO NOT paint my toenails as can be seen on the feet of perhaps the photo taker in that triplicated groupshot snap in the middle of the bunch.

Though Susan probably wouldn’t ever borrow my phone much less know how to take a picture with it, I asked her if they were her pics and she said they weren’t.

So how the hell did these snaps get on my iPhone? I do remember on the same day these pictures were taken, some status updates suddently started showing up on my Facebook page via my iPhone’s Facebook app that I didn’t do — odd two-letter combos like “Rw” — and I quickly reset my password. Could the two anomalies be connected?

This is krazee.

Of Prowling Trespassers & Punk Taggers

Wow. This morning was a double whammy full of assholes. At 5:20 a.m., Ranger started barking her “this is for real” bark and sure enough after bolting from bed and looking out the bedroom window there was a shady looking creep casually walking the brick walk on the north side of the house like he owned the place.

I got dressed and downstairs and out to the street in time to find the prowler — who turned out to be our block’s most notorious nuisance transient — coming back onto the sidewalk from a house a few doors south of ours. He wore a blue hooded sweatshirt pulled up over his head. Of all things he had a golfbag handcart and was carrying an arm full of magazines.

When he saw me approaching he commenced walking away  but I caught up close enough to inquire how it was that he came to be pushing a bagless cart down the street at such an odd hour. “Bought it,” he responded without breaking stride. I let it be known I didn’t believe him, then I advised as we arrived at the cross street that parasites such as himself are not wanted on this block, and that it would extra-especially be in his worst interest either to be found by me setting foot on my property or anywhere near it for that matter.

“In case you don’t remember which house was mine that you cased, it’s the one overly decorated for Halloween,” I said. “Should you decide to come back. I’ll be waiting.”

He grunted, and I apologized that I couldn’t stay and chat longer but I had to go call the police on his thieving ass.

“Go ahead,” he said, as if I needed his permission.

It was in walking back home that I noticed the graffiti tags, freshly sprayed in silver and black paint sometime in the evening on garage doors and walls along the west side of the block, including mine:

Since it didn’t look like any of the local gang tags I’m only all too familiar with (and since our block is rarely hit and never so heavily), my first hunch was it was done by the prowler who really is a multi-tASSker who counts theft, squatting, harrassment and arson among his suspected crimes. But after notifying the police I attempted to erase it with some graffiti remover and elbow grease (the smaller black one came off quick, but the larger silver one didn’t). While down there scrubbing a car pulled up and the guy inside said he lived down the block and was trying to see the extent of the vandalism.

The reason being he had just rented out an apartment to a single mom with two teens who regularly had classmates over, and coincidentally some silver spray paint he had stored in his yard had been stolen.


Secret Shanghai Santa?

The mailman rang the doorbell yesterday holding an air mail package that he said needed a signature, so he handed it and a pen to me through the screen door and since I hadn’t been expecting anything I looked it over unsure what it was and where it had come from. For Susan, perhaps? No.

All I could immediately tell was that it originated in Shanghai, and it was indeed addressed to me. For some odd reason the address on the label also included my Google Phone number.

I hesitated for a split second since I was certain I hadn’t ordered anything from the People’s Republic of China, but with a curiosity-stoked what-the-hell I signed it anyway, returning the package and pen to the postman so that he could tear off the form and be on his way.

I closed the door and looked again at the package for clues. The return address was simply “DX Shanghai Postbox 443-068.” No company name. Nothing beyond a registered mail barcode label, and a postage meter stamp indicating it began its journey to me on November 28. Later on I’d run that barcode number through usps.com, but come up with nothing but the following chronology:

  • Delivered, December 17, 2010, 12:39 pm, LOS ANGELES, CA 90026
  • Arrival at Unit, December 17, 2010, 8:05 am, LOS ANGELES, CA 90026
  • Processed through Sort Facility, December 15, 2010, 9:47 am, JAMAICA, NY 11405
  • Origin Post is Preparing Shipment
  • Foreign International Dispatch, December 08, 2010, 11:20 am, SHANGHAI, CHINA PEOPLES REP
  • Foreign Acceptance, November 28, 2010, 1:16 am, PORTEE

On the back was the customs declaration indicating the category of the item as “gift” valued at $4.10. The description: “Festival Gadgets.”

Inside? Nothing in the way of additional documentation, just…

… five, individually bagged battery-powered strands of 30 LED lights (as seen above in that hard-to-tell-what-the-hell-that-is photo of the bunch of ’em with one powered up). These are MUCH nicer then the strings of 10 LEDs from Ikea that I adorned my santa suit with for last week’s All-City Toy Ride.

Which makes their unannounced and unintentioned arrival from halfway around the world all that much more of a mystery.

Dangerous Keys

So the great Silver Lake Reservoir draining is finally complete and the big water bowl is empty… until they get around to refilling it. All of its potentially toxic water has been flushed away through a series of subterranean tubes connecting to the Ballona Creek which pours onward into the Santa Monica Bay where the carcinogenic parts per million of all that bromate-tainted water will be diluted into inert nothingness, or an unexpected complex chemical reaction with the saltwater and the bacteria and the styrofoam and the plastic bags and the shopping carts and the gull shit and the hypodermics will ultimately create the monster for the three-quel to the coming sequel of “Cloverfield” who will then go on a rampage across the city. Could happen.

As the reservoir’s level has slowly lowered over the last 60 days, people have been either hopeful or apprehensive as to what might be revealed rusting and rotting away down there on the bottom, but there hasn’t been anything noted as of yet. Personally I know of one 27-year-old relic that’s down there somewheres, if it didn’t get swept down a pipe at some point in such a long interim. It’s a set of keys on a ring, one which I heaved over the fence into its southeastern waters one very early morning back in 1981.

The keys were to the Swensen’s Ice Cream Shoppe that used to be on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, across the street from and in between what used to be Fiorucci’s and RJ’s restaurant. I had worked at Swensen’s for a while during my first and second year at Beverly Hills High School, promoted to night manager before I was fired by the owner’s daughter — Desiree or Dell-something; who badly managed the place for her dad — for not being willing to hold some marijuana for her.

I turned in my keys, cleaned out my locker and collected my final paycheck. I stayed pissed off for awhile not just because I was out of a job, but also because Swensen’s had been the center of my social universe. To have both yanked away so unfairly was a good lesson to learn early but nonetheless a hard one.

A few months later I ended up getting a stockclerk job at the long-gone Hunters Books on Rodeo Drive and Little Santa Monica (they’re calling it Santa Monica South nowadays), but in that unemployed interim I helped my mom, by then a distributor for the Herald Examiner whose territory included Echo Park, Silver Lake and Los Feliz and Franklin Hills. On weekends I’d get up with her at 2 a.m., and together we’d go pick up all the papers at the Herald Examiner plant downtown, then deliver whatever routes were open or down and we’d get home around sunrise. During the week I’d often have to go across town after school on my little Yamaha Champ scooter and help with collections or customer complaints. Sometimes I’d drive the old 1965 Ford Mustang and cover paper routes solo, especially those in the steeper areas of Silver Lake and Echo Park, where paperboys never lasted.

I don’t remember how long it was after I was fired from Swensen’s that I found the spare “just in case” set of Swensen’s keys I’d had made on my own at some point after I’d been promoted to night manager. Maybe it was a couple days later or a couple weeks. However long it was, when I discovered them I immediately saw dollar signs and started plotting a little payback heist. Ultimately I decided to hit the place in the morning on my way to school. Come up Wilshire to the alley between Beverly and Rodeo at something like 7 a.m., enter through the back — it would be easy pickings. There was no alarm and no surveillance system. And knowing exactly where the money was kept after closing, I could be in and out without turning on a light in a minute, tops, and a couple hundred bucks richer. Maybe a little more if sales had been exceptionally good.

Continue reading Dangerous Keys

Somebody Stop Me!

What the hell am I thinking!? I do a 15-mile walk across Pico Boulevard from downtown to the beach on Saturday (plus about four more getting to the walk’s start and to the bus from the walk’s end)and this morning sore as heck not only am I biking into work but then afterward I’ll be biking up to Griffith Park for the DWP Festival of Lights Bike Night?


How’d He Do That?

So a couple days ago I decided to have some e-fun for Halloween. Specifically, I built a mock L.A. Times web page with a news feature headlined “Legend of the haunted Griffith Park picnic table” that I posted and linked to from Blogging.la:


[click here to go to the complete story]

It’s not my first time with this type of gag. Back for April Fool’s Day last year I did a less-sophisticated rendering which told the strange and disgusting tale of a living and carnivorous 200-pound tumor that had escaped in the valley.

By “less sophisticated” I mean that this time I went a bit more intricate. Waaaaay more intricate. With the tumor piece I’d crafted a decent mimic page that looked real enough, but none of the links worked as I didn’t trouble with taking it to the next level and making all that crap active and so forth.

This time I went the extra pixels and did all that tedious stuff, which actually took more time to do than the writing of the tall tale that I pounded out over the course of a couple hours’ work last week and yesterday.

Brief backstory: I got the idea for this ghost story back when I first biked past the table’s location back in 2001. But when I found the scene still exactly the same earlier this year the gears started turning.

But the true catalyst that got it all going last week was the availability of the otherwise nonsensical domain: latirnes.com. Sure, it spells out l-a-t-i-r-n-e-s, but at a casual glance at a browser window’s address bar the “r” and the “n” look like an “m” and that can be perceived as latimes.com. Why is that a big deal? Well, when I did the tumor piece I basically had to load it up on my domain so that when the link on Blogging.la was clicked the page that opened up in a browser had an address that was http://www.wildbell.com/blahblahblah and that was a total gag killer right at the top.

This time I wanted the added authenticity. Not only would I do my best to follow the Times’ online style and format, but I’d make all the links live — and the icing way up top on the spoofcake would be the latirnesdotcom page address.

Of course all that realism didn’t stop me from sprinkling the piece with all sorts of hinty details as to its fake nature… from the “Norm Bates” byline to the post time of 10:31 p.m. (as in October 31) — even the map illustrator is none other than Michael Myers, the indestructible evildoer from all the Halloween films.

And I didn’t suffer with factual accuracy. As the civic-services-savvy L.A. City Nerd jovially pointed out in the comments on Blogging.la, I blew the story’s cover by referencing the city’s tree division when Griffith Park has its own forestry outfit.

Hell I barely spellchecked the thing.

I also didn’t bother expounding my original storyline, wherein investigation via mediums and seances uncovers that it isn’t Nancy and Rand who are haunting the place but rather the ghost of an Asian man who had been lynched up on that tree during the horrible Los Angeles Chinese Massacre of 1871 — and that it was his ghost who murdered Rand and Nancy.

Had I been even more obsessed I would’ve biked up there after dark and gotten creepy shakycam video of the crushed table a la Blair Witch.

Insetead, what you see is what you get. And I’m pleased with the result.

Now the more pertinent question might be why’d I do it? And the plain and simple reason is that I had fun. This last few weeks of job hunting and dwindling account balances have left me plenty of opportunity to doubt and dwell and doubt some more. However brief this frivolous endeavor’s respite, it did me good every time I giggled like a giddy school kid at everything from figuring out how to implant the LAT favicon in the address bar to making the photo windows pop-up.

The devil’s in the details, so they say. And I certainly enjoyed the dance. I hope you enjoy the finished product. Happy Halloween.

Putting The “Ca-Ca” in Cacophony

Here we go. Dogs get fleas. I get neighbors. More specifically rowdy craptastic decibel-loving punktard jackholes who repeatedly demonstrate their rank ability to disrespect anything but their own selfishly skewed perception of themselves at the centers of their own fucked up universes. This time I happen to be two houses south of that center.

It’s apparently supposed to be their world and I’m just to suffer in it but I never got that memo. There’ve been several occasions of them blasting their techno narco corrido assho music in their backyard, most notably during the heat wave that we found when we returned from vacation last month. We managed to bear with that in part because we kept the house battened up with fans twirling and the combination served as an excellent shield against their excessive noise.

But today with the somewhat pleasant temps there was no escaping the caophonous cavalcade. It started shortly after we returned from a Home Depot run and continued for several hours, unti it was Susan who had finally had enough and dialed up the police to report them. I had pretty much barricaded myself in the library watching preseason football on the NFL Network and so I wasn’t so readily effected. But not even two hours later as we were getting set to grill kebobs and the music was still going at a stupidly high we-don’t-give-a-shit-about-anyone volume I retrieved the phone stood tall in the backyard calling the 877/ASK-LAPD non-emergency number again to request officers make a repeat visit — if they made one at all yet.

The dispatcher told me they had already answered the first call Susan made.

I told the dispatcher they clearly didn’t take the first visit very seriously, hoping he could here the thump and bump beats going on in the background. Apparently he could, because he concured with “apparently not” and told me they’d send officers out for a second visit.

During this exchange I was spotted through the foliage by one or more of the culprits, because suddenly the music shut up and from the ashes of that silence rose a cockroach or two in indignant protest:

“It’s the daytime. We can do whatever we want!”

I’m not even going to dignify that bullshit with a response other than: wrong you are dipstick!

“They called the cops without even coming over first!”

Ooops! Our bad. I forgot to consult their “Can’t We All Not Get Along” rulebook which I’m guessing states that before contacting the police with a formal noise complaint it is up to the offended party to risk a confrontation or escalation of antagonism by taking the law into his or her own hands and going over to the offenders to try to reason with them.

Yeah, because that always works.

Nah, since calling the police hasn’t had any thing but short-term effect (the same as when you shine a light on rats they run away and hide but always come back when the light goes away) and any kind of face-to-face is only going to result in putting me and several of them in jail and/or the hospital, the only viable solution is clearly to devise some sort of backyard slingshot shit launcher that I can use to strategically bombard their asses with cat, dog and puppy poo.