Last year about this time as Susan and I were planning on Thanksgiving in Death Valley — part of which involved me fulfilling a long-delayed plan to mountain bike from Ubehebe Crater to the Racetrack Playa — I was shopping for bike-mountable HD or near-HD cams upon which to immortalize the journey.

I narrowed it down to a couple of makes, and was leaning towards the Go Pro Hero, but ultimately couldn’t force myself to part with the required $300… and it was just as well because bad weather ended up with me wisely postponing the endeavor, which I ended up doing the following April — or at least the 14-mile uphill part of it (but still HD cameraless as I remained hesitant of the pricetag).

Fast forward to last weekend while at Costco and out of the corner of my eye I spied a Go Pro Hero cam package for substantially less than $200, and while it wasn’t the full 1080 HD model, it was the 960. Pleeeeenty enough definition for me. The ultimate selling point was that the unit has a built-in timelapse function. And you aaaaaaall know how much I am loving of the timelapse.

So I bought it and then side-ordered the handlebar mount so I wouldn’t have to look like SuperDuperDork with the thing mounted to my helmet. That accessory arrived yesterday and if all goes well with the work I’ve got to get done today, I expect I’ll take the bike out for a spin around the hood this afternoon and see if the thing’s worth keeping or returning.

Thought you might like to reflect on this piano-key perspective I was surprised to discover in the living room this morning (click for the bigger picture):

It’s not every day that the haphazard pile of foliage that is our Russian tortoise Buster’s grub inspires me to grab a cam and capture it, but then again it’s not every meal that it falls into such a display of symmetry and color:

After typically tumbling the foodstuffs into Buster’s pen, I was particularly struck at how the quartet of purple-y snail vine blossoms ended up arranged in an arc around the hibiscus bloom.

One of the benefits of getting out of the house and on the road early to get to an 8 a.m. flu shot appointment is having a few minutes extra to extend my commute along Ballona Creek to Centinela Avenue where I could de-bike, count coots in the water and grab a seat to watch that little bit of world go by — and on such a beautiful day, too:

Sharp eyes might wonder where Le Noir might be. Indeed, I’m back on good and dependable Ol’ Yeller — again — because Tuesday night Le Noir developed a mysterious and disconcerting cla-thack noise emanating repetitively from somewhere along the cranks/bottom bracket. This was coupled to some weird handling issues developing with the front fork and so I had to make the decision to leave her at Orange 20 in the capable hands of Jim C. to resolve and repair.

As if that’s not frustrating enough, on the ride in to work yesterday morning on Ol’ Yeller against my better judgment I decided to stop and fiddle with the funked up front derailleur (a contraption that I never fail to screw up further whenever I touch one). Sure enough by the time I was done messing around turning the trim screws and trying (and failing) to tighten the cable the derailleur wouldn’t move the chain onto the big ring much less get out of the way to allow me move it along the different gears of the rear cassette, so I was forced to basically single-speed it on the mid-ring the remaining 14 miles in.

That may not seem like a big deal, but when one’s legs are accustomed to pedaling a chain around a 53-tooth front/16-tooth rear gear set, being reduced to the much smaller 42/18 often left me over-spinning like Dorothy’s nasty Toto-taking neighbor.

At the other end of the day I dreaded rolling all the way home like that so I busted out the multi-tool and eventually lucked into solving the problem. It certainly wasn’t skill that brought about such a satisfying resolution. Just me twisting and turning and dismantling and reattaching things until it worked again. Yay.

Even better, this morning. I lowered the seat a quarter inch, and dropped the adjustable stem a notch, while rotating the bars upward just a smidgen, and for the first time since I had to haul her out of hibernation following my slow-speed collision with the double-parked minivan on Le Noir last month, she feels almost dialed in. Almost.

Anyway, we enjoyed a few minutes of relaxation, while I admired the morning and even gave a few bits of dog kibble (that I carry now in case I happen upon a hungry stray) to the gang of pigeons who stopped by to say hey.

Then it was on to work.

So because I knowz you can’t get enough of my timelapsificationz, here’s the Youtuber of this morning’s trip into work along the route I call the “right angle” owing as it mainly follows Hoover south and then Jefferson east, as opposed to any of the “staircase” treks I make across town via 4th Street and Venice:

My friend Julia inquired recently about how our Russian tortoise Buster might be doing in her new digs:

Buster's New Home

I’m way happy to report she has really taken well to her new 25-square foot outdoor residence. It’s a far far more improved thing than the aquariums she’s lived in since 2001 when my mom found her in her Sherman Oaks backyard. She’s getting loads of natural sunshine and exercise — I’ve even set up a rock-filled pond (OK, so it’s just a water-filled pan with some stones in it) in case she needs a sip.

PS. Last weekend I reinforced the screening material of the roof/door with some old fencing material we had hanging around — the better to keep squirrels and other such critters from getting in as well as to deter any of our cats (namely Pepper and Jig) from stretching out on it and stretching it out.

There’s another pic on Flickr, here.

Rising from the terrorizing ashes that were the 1972 summer games in Munich, my fervor for the Olympic games probably crescendoed in 1976 when Bruce Jenner won the decathlon and I decided I wanted to become a world-class decathlete by 1980. That pipe dream was crushed when I approached Coach Hills at Le Conte Junior High with my hopes of beginning my training immediately and he shook his head wondering where the hell did I expect to find a pole vault much less get permission from the LAUSD to risk the injuries I would undoubtedly sustain in doing so.

Good thing for that reality check too, because had I spent the following four years dedicating my life to bringing home another decathlon’s gold it would have been wasted thanks to the U.S. boycott of Moscow’s Olympiad. But of course, then I would have had to dig down deep and keep it all going for another four years and try to win it in my hometown, which — win, place, show, or no — would have made a great story. But I digress.

When the games came to Los Angeles in 1984 I enjoyed them, but I didn’t physically go to any venues. Mainly I watched the events on television and reveled in the Two Greatest Weeks Los Angeles Has Ever Experienced.

Since then my “love” of the games has disipated to almost nothing — and I’m not really sure why. The spectacle is there, and the thrill of competion and all that, but it’s all become just one big “meh!” to me.

Whether it’s right or wrong, I think I pretty much blame NBC going back to the games in Australia in 2000. Though I’m sure it could have been any network trying to figure out away to broadcast live sports back home from halfway around the world, NBC seemed to be peacock proud of its “live on tape” extreme-delay coverage. I wasn’t. Knowing I was watching something that had taken place 10 hours previously — and whose results I could find online in a mouse click — succeeded in taking a good measure of the immediacy and enjoyment away.

Things didn’t really seem to improve in Athens four years ago, and in what may be the only time I tune in this time around, I was shown last night it’s still the same old thing — compounded by the fact that I was watching the US team whomp all over a categorically overmatched  Japanese team in an essentially meaningless prelim womens beach volleyball match that was already ancient history at 15 hours old.

Was that all NBC had for me? Even Michael Phelps swimming practice laps would have been as interesting.

Not NBC’s fault, but the Beijing air around the volleyball facility looked like a crapsoup and the teams were reportedly playing in a light rain. Rain? There’s no raining in beach volleyball!

Sadly the most compelling news out of the games yesterday was the murder of an American there.

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