Saturday, August 31, 2013

Today's walk report: 083113

So long August, 2013...

and good riddance!

It hasn't been the most pleasant month, nevertheless, I've learned a lot about myself and I'm a better person for it. I'm certain to do better in the future dealing with pain in the ass bullshit than I did this month. There really is quite a bit you can do to make your own happiness. Accepting things you cannot change and finding courage to change the things you can... you know? The serenity prayer, just without the God part because it's all up to you.

However, there's very little you can do about the weather. Even though summer is likely to become more brutal in September, I'm glad to kiss your ass goodbye August! I've got one more month of summer hot, sticky discomfort behind me!

Last fall I rendered this image. Just because it was the first day of autumn. Today I put a caption on it.

The reason I did this was because a lot of people were whining on Facebook, etc., about where did summer go and whaa, waaa, waaa... Except summer has another 3 weeks. I think the whimpering is a resurging little bitch from people's school days. School's open, Labor Day weekend... oh shit, summer's gone. Well it's not and for people who live in places like I do, SoCal in a Valley, Miami, New Orleans, Dallas (well, that one--serves them right), or Mobile, summer is probably going to do its best to push its way into fall's scene. Even when it really is "gone" it's relentless in places like these.

The walk.

It was almost 6:30 PM out the door. It was simply miserable once again. I didn't hang out for pictures because standing still made me acutely aware of the perspiration seeping into my clothes. I spotted something though. I saw an Anna's hummingbird again for the first time since spring, I believe. I can look back at photos and check that but for certain it's been months since I've seen one. I took a few shots but he was way too far away and in case you haven't noticed I've taken some decent hummingbird shots in the past, so I wouldn't want to tarnish that. Anyway, I like to follow these cycles, it can tell you about other changes which are about to occur. Last year it was the seagulls, they told me when the first rains were coming. Seagulls are sensitive to changes in barometric pressure. I kid you not, here I'll Google it for you.

The other little photo op I've been working on is to catch a post-sunset bat in flight. I'm getting closer. It's a total crapshoot. I put the lens at 300mm or slightly less, set manual focus to a distance I think would be a decent framed image and I try to capture one before the light is too far gone, relying on bats which are flying toward me. At least for the most part, there isn't much predictability in the course of a flying bat. I got close today but not nearly good enough to post.

That's it. I'll leave you with the final sunset of August, 2013.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Today's walk report: 083013

Preparing for a sunset.

Frequently before I leave the house I'll look outside the small west facing window next to my a/c unit to see what the sky looks like. Either that or I'll take a quick cruise out to the driveway and do the same. This is to get an idea of what sort of sunset to expect and decide on what I want to bring along lens-wise. I've mentioned before that I don't like to carry much on the walk. If it's going to be a picture taking walk I usually take the camera, over my shoulder using a BlackRapid RS-7 strap, my Canon 70-300mm telephoto and put my Canon 500D closeup attachment in my pants pocket. It's OK, it's in a plastic case. But I'll also consider carrying a Canon 60mm macro or a 18-55mm stock lens. Whichever one going along in a small zippered case which Velcros onto the belt that holds my pants up. If it's the 18-55mm that usually means I expect a nice sunset. Not that all sunsets aren't wonderful but some are better than others.

Today I took the 18-55mm lens.

It was 93º and 38% humidity out the door. It wasn't comfortable. The botanical garden is 1.85 km into the walk and when I go to the garden I like to slow down and look for pictures. Not today. I got to the garden, stopped and said out loud... fuck this.

I did get a somewhat unique photo op with a brown carpenter bee however. I took 125 shots with the 500D of this one in flight. It was basically hovering in one spot. Now, a variance of just a few cm means the difference between focus and no focus so it still wasn't an easy shot and when I say one spot what I really mean is an area of about 45 square cm (18"). Nevertheless, I got a moment or two in.

Onto the sunset...

The beginning.

The ending...

and from the "other side"--that would be facing east.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Today's walk report: 082913


After a high of 106º today, here's what I got for my walk.

That's all I have to say about it.

This was on the playlist... I'm not wanting to subject you to the weather here.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Today's walk report: 082813

The more boring the walk, the longer it seems.

Vintage: A calculated long term corporate scam. In the case of stereo equipment, 1st outmode the media. Get rid of vinyl records. In the beginning everyone complained about CDs, that the quality was less than that of vinyl. But soon people forget and CDs become the excepted format. Then it's MP3s and AAC taking over and CDs start to disappear. All they have to do is tell people over and over that it's just as good or better and eventually the masses agree. I wrote about the resurgence of CDs in the year 2020 here and interestingly enough it's one of the most frequently hit posts I've written (that doesn't mean it was any good but it means I was at least onto something). Next music becomes download only, soon it will only be available via subscription streaming. But wait a minute, "Vintage" kicks in, now records are cool again but they don't cost $4 anymore, now they cost $24. The $150 turntables of the past now become vintage "stereophile" at $100s more with rogue companies making basic decent equipment at highly inflated prices. Meanwhile receivers which accommodate phono connections are high-end elite. It's all planned out. Bring shit back, charge plenty for doing so and all along the consumer thinks they're so hip, right there, on the cutting edge of what's cool. People remain clueless and kids getting into vinyl then use their USB turntables to convert the plastic to MP3s for their iPods. It's a viscous cycle of stupidity.

The walk.

I would have sworn once I got to my destination I had walked 3 miles or 4.83 km. Of course had I stopped to calculate I would ave realized that was not true.  I walked alongside the Orange line bus line. I had decided to look at A/V receivers at the nearby Best Buy, I was trying to resolve a day-long dilemma I was dealing with. I didn't resolve anything but I think I've come to a conclusion.

Here's the start of the pedestrian walkway/bike path which parallels the metro Orange line busway. So boring I can't even come up with something boring enough to compare it to. Four more blocks that away also gives you a ridiculous amount to traffic to breathe in off to your left.

Back in June I had posted about fixing the old Harman Kardon TA-260 stereo receiver which I fondly grew up with. It was a momentous occasion. I have been enjoying music once again from this almost everyday since... for hours on end... until today. It stopped. Power still went on and seemingly all of the appropriate tubes were lit but alas, no sound. It's a question mark on the 4 tubes with the caps on  you see in front because those particular tubes have tubes have the filament almost completely encased in the plate structure so it's normal not to see them lit. The caps, of course, come off easily. I took it out of the cabinet once again and inspected top to bottom. There was nothing obvious.

So I searched for someone local. This guy was really helpful and referred me to someone else. The deal there is $150 to get this on the bench and see what's wrong. Ouch. However, what I found on the other side and the reason in part for the trip to Best Buy (horrible place to shop by the way--don't shop there) was that you cannot find a receiver anymore less than 17" wide. Within about a 1/4" that's the "standard." Two, even if you find something close that might fit in the cabinet here, it's not going to have a phono connect. Nope. Sorry. The other thing is the vertical mount, not every receiver can go vertical and that's what I want, otherwise the cabinet loses it's class. So... that also means a slightly recessed cabinet and some front bezel to mount. Vintage Marantz receivers fit this condition however they are usually too wide, hard to find and when you find one people want ridiculous amounts of money for them because they're "vintage."

Marantz 2225 stereo receiver.

I have an inquiry into one other location for repair on the TA-260. Hopefully it's a lower bench price from someone who is as confident and nice as the guy I ended up calling on the referral. The $150 to look at guy. The guy who is also 5-8 weeks out on projects. It's $150 because it's tube by the way. It's much more difficult to trouble shoot than solid-state.  Solid-state is $75. Fortunately I have a schematic. I'll name names once I get this going. I'm sure there's another walk in here somewhere. By the way the floor guy at Best Buy time lined his life for me like this, turns out he went to all of the same schools I went to before college... "When I got out of elementary school Star Wars came out, Junior High grad was The Empire Strikes Back and High School was Return of the Jedi." Oh no! I looked up at the "Geek Squad" sign and immediately started questioning how I measured my own life.

The walk for anybody keeping score was only 3.80 km in each direction.

UPDATE, 083013.

The TA-260 is in for repair with this company. So far, a very pleasurable experience. I enjoy talking a/v with fun and knowledgeable people. It will be close to a week before a damage report comes in. Part of the conversation was the resell value of the receiver. While I understand the popularity of "vintage" audio I was a bit surprised to hear an approximate value of $1,250. So, at least to a degree, the repair becomes less of a want and more of a potential investment. To be honest, I hadn't really thought about it before.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Today's walk report: 082713

Walkin' with a dead man over my shoulder.

Today I was in court. Turns out I didn't need to be in court but it also appears to me I had to go there to find that out. I think the courthouse might be in cahoots with the $3 per 15 minutes parking structures.

Anyway, I was out of there in less than an hour... $10 parking.

I decided to hit my old neighborhood again on the way back. I had a plan. Before I got too far with the plan I remembered something that crossed my mind on the way to court. I might have forgotten to put the SD card back into my camera this morning. Sure enough. Highland Avenue going into Hollywood caters well to photographers, however--not like it did back in the early 90s but still better than most places. I might have been the 1st customer of the day here. I told them I'd never been in there but I have. I just never bought anything before. $14.99 + tax for a 4GB no-brand card. That should be a $5-6 card gentlemen.

Back to the plan.

I parked my car off the famous Larchmont Blvd., there was this guy. I don't see these fruit vendors here in the San Fernando Valley but here in my old hood I used to buy pineapple from one every time I walked to the bank.

I told the guy, vuelvo en un momento. I wanted to walk up the boulevard a ways because I saw something driving by I thought was interesting.

Before I got to that there was this. This used to be a Blockbuster store, now it's Flywheel. Apparently a new 30-something exercise craze using stationary bikes in a "pump it up" atmosphere. The music I could hear inside (a class was in session) was sort of Technopop. Actually, I don't know wtf you call it but I couldn't handle it. I asked for my amusement if they had a "progressive rock" class and was told they did. I can't imagine this working for someone like me. I need to get on the bike and do this at least 4-5 times a week. Anyway... more power to them.

The lobby area.

Since there was a class in session I couldn't look inside so I pulled this off the web.

A 10 ride package is $225. You can buy a pretty good indoor trainer for about $400. Despite all of that, I'd be into coaching a 50-60 age group class. That might be a fun little gig. I didn't ask. Thing is a couple of doors down was our old Italian restaurant/deli/market, Alessio's Deliitaliano. I still know this neighborhood.

That's what I was curious to see. After Alessio's was sold it became another Italian eatery called, La Bottega Marino. Not anymore. What I found amusing was when we had the place I often talked about opening a little Mexican eatery on the boulevard.

Guess what? And by the way, Pinche can mean either "cook assistant" or "fucking." As it this fucking thing isn't working right... I never hear it used in a good way. I've heard it a lot in my life too.

I headed back to the car and I got my pineapple.

Meanwhile my plan was to go to Astro Burger on Melrose Ave. for a breakfast burrito and a photo walk at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. That boy in front of Alessio's is Alessio by the way and back during early teen years we frequently did the Astro Burger/Hollywood Forever thing for Sunday brunch.

Part II: I see dead people.

Hot and humid. In the rear is the main Mausoleum.
Founded in 1899, Hollywood Forever Cemetery is one of Southern California's oldest cemeteries and it's a reflection of Hollywood's history. I could write a book about it. In fact, I came close. The book was called, The Hollywood Underground and it almost became a video project with an Academy award winning editor, Gene Ruggiero (Around the World in 80 Days.) In the late 1980s I got a photo assignment to photograph where famous people were buried in SoCal for the Italian equivalent of People magazine, Gente (yes, that means People). This was for November publication that year in honor of the Italian celebration of All Souls and All Saints Day on November 1st and 2nd. I photographed famous people's grave sites at two Forest Lawn cemeteries, Westwood Memorial, Holy Cross Cemetery and Hollywood Forever (Hollywood Memorial Park). 

Hollywood Forever is behind the back lot of Paramount Pictures. Paramount bought the property from the cemetery. They are "mirrored lots." RKO also bought property from the cemetery. Since 2002 the cemetery itself has been engaged with a  nonprofit group called Cinespia using the cemetery as an outdoor movie theater during the summer, showing classic films on the side of a mausoleum while film-watchers picnic on the lawn. Last I checked it's a $10 ticket.

The large tomb at the center of the "lake" belongs to philanthropist William A. Clark Jr., (that's also my photo on the Wikipedia link) who founded the Los Angeles Philharmonic and donated the Clark Library on the UCLA campus. I've been told they open this now for an occasional tour but I've never seen the inside. I have actually seen a number of "forbidden places" in SoCal cemeteries. Most significantly, the private chamber of Jean Harlow in the Great Mausoleum, Forest Lawn, Glendale. I has fine sliding down the steps like a snake to avoid video surveillance but when my camera shutter clicked inside the marble walls it was loud enough to alert the staff--busted!

The sarcophagus-bench of 1930s-50s actor Tyrone Power.

Swan. I believe there are just two. They are a relatively recent additions. Just  a few years ago the park was inundated with Canada geese (Branta canadensis). They seemed fine about NOT migrating and shitting everywhere. I wonder how they were dealt with.

I suspect the lake was not very healthful for the water fowl for years. Before the cemetery was bought by Tyler Cassidy (the TV series Six Feet Under is loosely based on Tyler and his brother Brent--they consulted on the show) the lake among other things were in horrible condition. In 1939 the cemetery was bought by an ex-convict named Jules Roth. Among other things he never connected the property to city water, relying on an on-site well instead. Basically the guy ran the place into the ground (sorry) and he went bankrupt in 1997, passing away in 1998. I don't know if he was buried there or not. Shortly thereafter Tyler Cassidy bought the property for a mere $375,000 and set out to restore it. They've done a good job for the most part except its blatantly overcrowded now and has had a particular attraction for some rather ostentatious grave sites catering in particular it seems to an Armenian population.

You be the judge...

It just seems to me there could have been a better balance between good taste and the historic significance of the cemetery. However, the entire concept of what cemeteries are all about runs contrary to my beliefs.

Jayne Mansfield's cenotaph. This was defaced years ago, it finally got fixed. Some creep came in and scratched her face off.

There are a number of  cenotaphs on the site.

It reads...

Johnny Ramone

Hattie McDaniel. Jules Roth was not only a crook, he was a racist and wouldn't allow Afro-Americans to be buried in the cemetery.

Meanwhile... Why did the peacock cross the road?

So he could chill out on the other side.

one more...

Tastes like chicken.
Feral cats typically abound. I only saw two today.

They may have scattered some because usually they would group off the mausoleum just inside this construction. I was always under the impression that all of that grass area was part of the Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. & Jr., memorial you see.

Inside the main mausoleum.

David White, Larry Tate of the TV series Bewitched was cremated. His son Johnathan was killed 3 years earlier as one of 270 people to lose their lives in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguolla, professionally known as Rudolph Valentino.

One of the many beautiful stained glass windows.

Back outside...

Griffith Jenkins Griffith (the name was so nice they used it twice), 1850-1919. Philanthropist. He was the founder of Griffith Park in Los Angeles.

Cecil B. DeMille, American film director and film producer. His wife Constance is next to him.

Would you believe...? Get Smart, certainly one of my all-time favorite TV series.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Today's walk report: 082613

Walk and chew gum at the same time.

I did the up and down, long walk to the supermarket again today. This time to pick up some chewing gum believe it or not. For some reason I am fond of chewing gum while on walks. I've been known to chew as many as 4 pieces of gum on a walk. Amazing. In general, aside from walks, chewing gum seems to displace some nervous energy and precludes me from engaging in bad nervous habits like biting my lower lip. I've been out of gum for awhile now. I'm a wreck.

My mom used to say this, typically when she ran into a woman she didn't find to be very bright, she'd say, she's too stupid to walk and chew gum at the same time.

I happen to be quite adept at walking and chewing gum at the same time. Mom would be proud.

I don't usually buy cold water, I get the room temp water off the shelf. Tonight it was an after thought and I took it from the "impulse" fridge at checkout. It was indeed too cold for me to drink more than a little. The gum isn't that good. I can't recommend it. On a scale of 1-5, 5 being best, it gets a 3.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Today's walk report: 082513

When does walking actually become a walk, as in, I'm going for a walk?

For some people getting up from the couch and going into the kitchen, then back again, is a walk. I was trying to qualify or quantify if I was going for a walk this morning at 11:30 or not. Here's the deal, I needed to go to Home Depot and pick up an all-in-one toilet repair kit, then stumbled on a couple of good plant deals in the nursery there. I had decided before leaving I would take my camera either for pictures at the nursery (it helps me plan some things in the garden here for one) and/or stop by the college campus and go to the botanical garden on the way home. I chose to do the latter.

So I could park in the shade I went to covered parking which is up on a hill well above the center of campus. The center of campus being where the garden is. For a bird that's about 390 meters. I, however, took the steps. I also covered a few to several laps inside the garden itself. The garden is about 95x75 meters. Here's what I stopped to take pictures of during my "laps" in the garden.

The Cloudless Sulphur or Cloudless Giant Sulphur (Phoebis sennae). Last week when I did an afternoon walk this was the first little critter I saw. Likewise same this time. However, today it didn't disappear so quick and I finally got some pictures.

Marine Blue (Leptotes marina) on some variety of Callistemon (bottlebrush). There were several flying about this bush and I finally saw what I've determined was a male but I couldn't find one landing and staying still for a wee moment.

one more...

Than I happened upon this lovely couple.

Mom left but dad was hanging out, keeping an eye on me.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum). The male holds the female by the neck with its anal clasper while copulation takes place, it can last up to 30 minutes. Notice the heart shape. Romantic, no?

Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis), perhaps calling attention to his anal clasper?

Cereus sp. cactus flower. I need to try and be a little artsy from time to time. By the way, I had these confused  with the San Pedro cactus (Trichocereus Pachanoi) flowers awhile back, they grow right next to each other. I'll probably fix that later.

My red-tailed friend letting me know it's not far away. I see some downy young feathers often. This bird is growing up. My guess is by winter it will be fully adult.

I was still debating if I should officially consider this excursion as a "walk," until I looked up at the steps back to the car.

End of walk one. Start of walk # 2.

This is right at the 1.2 km mark, 3/4 of a mile in and pushing 6:30 PM. This is one of those shots I'll take just in case there's nothing else up the road.

and there wasn't much. I took some pictures indicating the school was ready for "fall" quarter starting tomorrow. I made the mistake of walking the campus 1st day of fall two years ago. It's totally chaotic. Today it's signs like this, everywhere. L.A. County Sheriff's will be everywhere too. It's their big opportunity to "shine."

Bees loving the cereus sp. cactus, end of day. I know that bats are big pollinators of these and other cactus at night and I usually see bats around dusk. I'd like to camp out, maybe bring a lawn chair sometime and see if I can catch any of that.

Yesterday I mentioned "losing" this green lynx spider (I think that's a right ID) right before I had the opportunity to go from my Canon 60mm marcro to the 70-300mm with a 500D close-up attachment. Well, it was right there again today and this time I was ready.

On the lighter side...

Thanks again for coming along on my walks today!