And For My Next Tricks

Now that we’re on the downhill side of the last month of 2006, it’s time for a no-muss no-fuss look at my resolves for the coming new year:

  • To conversate in Spanish
  • To comprehend Flash and build me a new-fangled website with it
  • To continue to pound the pavement of my neighborhoods and build a catalog of imagery
  • To go to Yosemite
  • To stand atop Death Valley’s Eureka Dunes
  • To put more miles on my bicycle than my truck
  • To read Cervantes’ “Don Quixote”
  • To stand on a scale and have it read 195
  • To document the rise and demise of next year’s Echo Park Lake lotus grove with a daily photo of its progress

On a much tighter time frame, today I resolve to:

  • Get a haircut
  • Replicate a photo of mine someone found on Flickr who is interested in running it on the cover of a local literary catalog but needs a high-res version I don’t have, dangit
  • Get a Christmas tree
  • Decorate it
  • Sweep/rake up the backyard
  • Review my planned public transit route to get me to/from work tomorrow
  • And if there’s any other time left after all that’s done, maybe a bike ride as payback for the pizza we had last night while watching the thorougly enjoyable “Cars”

UPDATED (5:12 p.m.): Got everything on today’s list done. Yay! Except the bike ride. Boo!

An Inspector Calls, Part Deux

I’m not going to worry about linking back to the previous frustrations regarding the water heaters other than to remind anyone who might recall how the initial Building & Safety Department inspector wouldn’t sign off on it when he was first out way back at the end of May and I pretty much blew a gasket over that and the faulty job the contractors did that resulted in the inspector basically saying “Pfffft!”

So I huffed and puffed and grrr’d and snarled and blogged then we went on vacation and put the whole thing out of my mind until Susan was like “Hello! Where does this thing stand!?” and I was like “Oh, right!” and finally got around to doing the job myself last month — very well, I might add, though I’m not the inspector… who I then promptly forgot to call to come back out until last weekend when Susan was like “Hello! Where does this thing stand!?” and I was like “Uh, oh right!” and scheduled an appointment for today for the inspector to come out and when he showed up I crossed my fingers as he took a good look around and in the end gave me this (queue the angels singing):


And I said hell yeah!

Catching Up

Even if I have nothing of importance to say, I really dislike letting the blog stagnate, and rare is it that I go so many days without slapping something up — a photo or a flashback entry. Anything. So howsabout some bulletpoints that fill in the blanks and myabe look forward a bit:

  • Films watched: All (surprisingly) of Poseidon, 15 minute of Hoot, Most of Hombre, All of Jonathan Demme’s Neil Young: Heart of Gold.
  • TV watched: The finales of Deadwood and Entourage followed by two-minutes of the horrid Lucky Louie. A buncha HGTV. Five minutes of Monday Night Football on ESPN.
  • Events attended: Saturday at the Sunset Junction Street Festival.
  • Errands run: Ranger to the Echo Park Animal Hospital Saturday morning for her second round of puppy shots. Bike wheels taken to Bicycle Kitchen for long overdue truiing (aka balancing).
  • Books picked up:  The Adventures of Theodore Roosevelt by Theodore Roosevelt. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. The President’s Assassin by Brian Haig.
  • Books put down:  The Adventures of Theodore Roosevelt by Theodore Roosevelt (after 97 pages) . Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (after 10 pages). It’s a lame reason but they’re both just too much work to read.
  • Jobs applied for: 2.
  • Freelance assignment accepted: 1.
  • Current percentage level of confidence that I will ever work full-time again: 54.
  • Current weight: 214.
  • Number of days (at six days per week) the painters have been on premises: 19.
  • Current percentage level of desire that they will be finished soon: 97.
  • Number of evenings Bink spent outside, refusing to come in: 2.
  • Number of Diet Pepsis consumed: 18.
  • Things being considered for the upcoming Labor Day weekend: Hike to Mugu Peak with lunch at Neptune’s Net afterward. Walk the nine-mile route from the San Gabriel Mission to Olvera Street to celebrate Los Angeles’ 225 birthday. Take Shadow to Balboa Lake in the Sepulveda Basin for 12th anniversary of us finding each other there.
  • Things I’d like to do right this minute but can’t: Take the Red Line out to North Hollywood with my bike and cycle the bike path along the Orange Line route to Woodland Hills and back.
  • Things I can’t do right this minute but would like to:  Relax.

The Joys Of Webcamming

I got my hair cut today. Other than come home and rinse it out, I had no idea how severely short it now is until I saw an older webcam snap from earlier today. So I promptly assumed as similar a post and did a before-and after:



Feels about five pounds lighter.

I’m Finished Venting

Back in May I posted about having an inspector call to examine what turned out to be the unapprovable installation of the venting pipes leading from the new water heaters put in earlier that month. I had grand plans of making it a DIY job instead of attempting to get the negligent plumbing company in question back out here to rip us off further, but one thing led to another and dang if the whole thing didn’t slip my mind.

Well a couple weeks ago Susan and I pow-wowed over our upcoming agenda items and with me duly reminded that this was still on the books we decided to get the job done once and for all so last week we made a Home Depot run for what yesterday I discovered turned out to be the wrong sized piping. So back I went and returned all of the stuff and got the right size stuff and a couple hours later I’m happy to say that our water heating vents are now as up to code as I can hope (or at least until we get the inspector back out here to find something else wrong). it was a relatively easy job of changing out about eight feet of single-wall piping for double wall in the basement, and then adding enough sections to extend it at least 12 inches above the roof line (I went a little beyond that mark), like so:


Despite the installers “guarantee” the work was up to code, given the multiple messages I left for them that went ignored and unanswered, I have no doubt the shisters would’ve loopholed out of that responsibility and raked us for overcharged materials plus another mass of labor had we gotten them to come back out here.

And besides, it gave me a sense of accomplishment that resulted in a big proud hug from my baby, plus a chance to get up on the roof and check out the nice view (click to biggify):


Harvest Time

Buster the tortoise, goes cuckoo for two things: hibiscus blooms and the blossoms that a plant called the snail vine produces (no doubt because the little purple flowers have something of a resemblance to snail shells… personally I don’t see it).

When my mom lived in Sherman Oaks she had a snail vine plant growing all over the north fence of the backyard so whenever I was over there I’d always be sure to load up on the morsels to bring him for Buster to enjoy — and boy did she. But ever since my mom sold that house a couple years ago, the supply of snail vine blossoms tanked. So much so that last year Susan and I got a snail vine plant and tried to get it to grow in the north yard but it hasn’t been doing very well, producing only the occasional bloom. We planted a hibicus as well that’s put out some flowers, but they’re all over the neighborhood so supply isn’t at all an issue with them.

Leave it to my mom to find nearby a snail vine source while she was minding our animals during our vacation last month. No, not just a source. A mother lode that’s readily accessible from the sidewalk on Hyperion north of Sunset. I made a trip over there last weekend and plucked 50 blooms off in a matter of minutes and there were thousands left:


Taking the long way home I ended up stopped on Rowena and relieving the hibiscus plants lining the south sidewalk of some of their bounty as well:


The result is Buster has been in food heaven all week.

Making A CASE

Needing another break from the ongoing transcribing “process,” I turn to a relic that’s never been too far from my desktop since the late 1980s. It’s one of two things I cherish from my predominately uncherishable stepfather Bill Cox — neither of them officially bequeathed to me after his 1988 death so much as just unofficially kept.

The first is far more historic in sports circles: a game ball from the 1930 Rose Bowl game, presented by USC to Buster Keaton and signed by the team that trounced Pitt 47-14. Keaton and my stepdad were friends and I’m guessing. Owing to Keaton and Cox not caring for the ball very well it’s in pretty sad shape. Various tains and scratches and just good old age mar the players’ signatures and other decorations inked on it some 76 years ago when it was presented to Keaton.

But it’s the second item that’s the object of my distracted attention. It’s nothing really, just a two-bladed Case knife whose handle is made from some unknown material:


It’s the knife Cox kept at his desk up until he died and I’ve kept it at mine since then. Not that I used it for all that much, but with it close at hand and ample the occasions to get distracted from the task at hand (such as the painfully laborious one today), time and again I’ve pulled it out of the pen cup where it resides with other mostly unused obects of my past such as my letter opener and pica pole and pondered about its age and materials and such. Since Cox was 87 when he died I was always curious as to whether I was the keeper of some century-old blade that he might have had since his youth.

Well, not quite. Thanks to the markings and stamps on the blade hilts and the magic of the internet — specifically Case Knives’ excellent website — I discovered the truth of the matter. First I found out from the pattern stamp that reads “5254” that the first “5” stands for the handle’s material, which is “genuine stag” (whether that’s bone or antler I don’t know). The “2” after it indicates the number of blades the knife has and the last two numbers show it to be in the “Trapper” pattern.

And it’s age? Well, that mystery’s solved as well. The logo style on the pointy blade’s hilt (Case calls it the “tang”), which reads like this:


Signifies the knife’s anywhere from a year to 16 years younger than me, manufactured somewhere between 1965 and 1980.

So much for another piece of history. And so much for me trying to avoid returning to my duties.