Archives for May 2005

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Biking: Hollywood to Manhattan Beach

I started off yesterday pretty lazy, just working on some stuff on the computer. I felt like I wanted to go for a ride, but didn't really have a destination until I found out a friend's birthday party was happening in Manhattan Beach. I needed to go to Hollywood first, though, to check in with Hollywood Pro Bicycles. So I decided I would take the subway over to Hollywood, and then ride to MB from there. Kathy would be meeting me at the beach, so I'd stick the bike in her car and only have to ride one-way.

The ride took me the length of the Ballona Creek Bike Path and then from the airport down to Manhattan on the beach bike path, so of the 20 miles I would put close to two-thirds on bike paths. That makes for a nice trip. I think it took me an hour and fifteen minutes, including hitting seemingly every red light on La Brea and riding into a headwind approaching the ocean. My ride was slightly different than that shown in the map -- instead of starting out by going east over to Vine only to come back west later I just went straight down La Brea to Jefferson. That worked fine (other than the lights).

The bike shop's going to order a tribar (vaguely like these, but differently shaped) for me to try out, which I'm looking forward to. I really want a grip position that'll keep me low and leaned forward for speed and power.

Mmmm... e17

I set up enlightenment 0.17 on my laptop today (click on the image, and then all sizes to get the full sized image).


Since I last took an e17 screenshot in December, they've added multiple desks, key bindings, and a whole host of other things that make e17 into a very usable window manager. It's still under heavy development and probably not even close to a release, but in my playing around it's working just fine. It still just supports one background on all desks and there isn't any true support for transparent terminals yet, but I think it's close enough that I'll use it on the laptop.

There's so much movey-goodness that you can't see in a static screenshot, but I still think the shot looks great.

Time to Buy a GPS Unit

I'm about to set off from JPL to Kathy's new apartment in Studio City. Roughly that means taking this route, though obviously being on a bike I won't be hitting up the freeways. bikemetro gives me a route that's 16.68 miles long, and overall drops 518 feet. In between, though, it first goes up 200 to 300 feet, then drops 900 or so, and finally rises back 150 - 200 feet. That should make it a bit of a workout.

I'm more worried, though, about the fact that there are 24 steps to the directions. I wrote them down on an index card, now we'll see how I do at reading the card and road signs while negotiating traffic. This is one of those situations where a GPS unit would be mighty handy.

It's Hot Outside

I'm about to head out on my bike ride back from JPL to Downtown. The JPL Weather Station says that the current temperature is 88 degrees. That's down only two or three from today's high. The solar raditation, though, is down from close to 100 watts/sq. foot to 48.6. I guess that means that while I'll still sweat on my ride, I won't get too burned. I am getting a sizeable farmer's tan, though.

LA Weekly Writes about Red Line; Still Doesn't Check a Map

The LA Weekly cracks me up. In March they asked us

Ever wonder why a leg of the Red Line ends at Wilshire and Normandie, miles short of the museums and office buildings that would make it worthwhile to thousands?

I said that no, I hadn't wondered that, seeing as the line actually ends one stop later at Wilshire/Western.

And now in this week's issue they tell us where to drink along the Red Line. But again something funny caught my eye.

The Powerhouse, across the street to the east from Hollywood & Highland, the Red Line’s penultimate stop, deserves the honor of your visit if only for its dive-bar tenacity amid rampant swankification.

Hmmm... My dictionary tells me that penultimate means next to last. And my handy Red Line map tells me that there are in fact two stops past Hollywood & Highland. And just a bit before this we read

Traxx has a timeless romanticism about it; it also has great crab cakes (although you might have to eat them standing up). When you’re done, take a calm walk among the train-runners past the many numbered tracks toward Vignes Street, make a right at the end of the tunnel, and board the subway for central downtown.

I know, they probably just wanted an excuse to talk about tracks and numbers and such, but if you're giving people directions, don't make them walk more than they have to. The Red Line entrance before the train tunnel is much closer to Traxx.

Biking and Star Wars

It's Metro's Bike to Work Day, so that's what I did. Well, ok, I did it 'cause that's what I do every day, but it still counts. And JPL was having a Bike to Work event too, so I ended up with a $20 gift certificate to Pasadena Cyclery and a Metro-branded patch kit.

This morning didn't begin cycling, though. Instead I threw my bike into the back of Kathy's Explorer and we headed to Hollywood, catching the 6:30am showing of Episode III at the Arclight's Cinerama Dome. Reserved seating meant we left Downtown at 6 and had plenty of time to spare once in the theater. They installed digital projectors in the Dome for this movie, so the best movie-watching experience in LA is now even a bit better. And off-peak tickets (6:30am is definitely off-peak) are only $11. And yes, I liked the movie. I didn't see Ep. 1, and I thought Ep. 2 was ok, but I thought 3 was very good.

LAist Reading Stack of Old Papers, Finds Midnight Mission

Ah, LAist, late to the story and skimpy on the details... Today they discover the Midnight Mission saga that became a story about a month ago when the new facility opened. The Christian Science Monitor did a piece of reporting so shoddy that I don't really feel the need to link to it and put it onto the AP wires, and now here we are still having to talk about it. Brady rebutted the piece on April 19th, and I covered NPR's followup on blogdowntown a week ago. But today LAist jumps in. Aside from their usual lack of timeliness, they also lazy their way around some important facts you would think the extra time would have allowed to be researched.

In the comments to one particular blog post, Justin Wisniewski of the Midnight Mission explains that the majority of Midnight Mission isn't government funded and that most of the amenities are a necessity for getting those who are homeless and want to re-enter society to succeed.

More correct would have been that the CS Monitor's so-called "amenities" are really just essentials, and that the facility intentionally receives no government funding for their operations.

The facility also seems to be in response to the renewed interest in downtown as a residential area and the desire of those moving in to have the homeless off the street. Affordable housing in a community with rising rents and increasingly upscale constituents doesn't seem like a solution that will be welcomed.

Ummm... Here's the thing. Homeless people living on the street are a problem. It's bad for the neighborhood, but far more importantly it's bad for them. As someone with a definite interest in Downtown, I don't care what the rents are in the building next to mine. Affordable housing has its issues (mainly in regard to economics), but I hardly think Downtown is somewhere snooty enough that people care that those next to them don't quite match the median income. People want a neighborhood that's liveable, and having homeless people living on the streets is just as bad for those individuals as it is for their neighbors.

No Follow Through

So after all my talk about the LA River Ride I didn't end up riding. My alarm went off at 5:30 this morning, and I'll be honest -- I just didn't feel like riding a bike. I guess this is why you register ahead of time: to give some incentive to follow through. I don't feel too bad, though; I did ride 100 miles this week and will do about the same next week. I think that earns me the right to a little Sunday afternoon rest if I choose to take it.

Just Missed the Fire

So apparently this afternoon there was a fire in Elysian Park. I'm trying to figure out exactly what time I would have been through there, 'cause it wouldn't have been much before the 1:55pm time the report mentions. I had probably been through the area mentioned less than a half hour beforehand.

And no, I didn't start the fire. I think I might have seen the smoke later, though.

Update (just a minute later): I just noticed that you can see the smoke in this picture I took at 2:07pm. I also see from timestamps that I came across the 110 just after 1:30pm, so that confirms the half hour or so time difference I had guessed. I would have come across on the Park Row Drive bridge, just above Academy.

A Not So Short Ride

My plan to take an easy 5 - 10 mile ride today as a warmup for tomorrow's LA River Ride didn't quite happen. Instead I got a little carried away and rode from Studio City to Downtown -- the long way. I rode Moorpark over until it ended at Riverside, then Riverside east past Disney and through bits of Burbank and Glendale before wandering into Griffith Park. I bought a smoothie and a bottle of water at the Pony Ride Refreshment Stand, and watched little kids ride ponies and trains. Then I got back on the bike and rode the rest of the way through the park, and continued along Riverside until it ended at San Fernando. I took that to Pasadena Ave, which put me on the North Broadway bridge, and right back on my normal route home from work.

But instead of just making the easy ride home through Chinatown I got the bright idea to check out Elysian Park. I pass the North Broadway entrance all the time, and I'd heard of the park but never been in it. I had no idea that it was close to 600 acres. I also had no idea that it went up so far. And yet, I rode most all the way to the top, even stopping to buy a snack and check out an inning of Little League at Elysian Fields.

Coming down was easy. The road wound down to Stadium Way, and then from there I hit Elysian Park Dr. down to Sunset. A left on Sunset took me to Beaudry, which quickly connected me to 2nd St. and the tunnel under Bunker Hill.

bikemetro puts the direct route from my start to finish at 13.5 miles, but I'm pretty sure the way I did it had to be 20. No matter which is technically correct, my unofficial mileage count for the week has now just crept over the century mark.

50 more tomorrow...

More Bike Fun

I'm still on track for the bike miles I mentioned earlier this week. I rode to work and back four times this week (20 miles each; 5 there -- with a train -- and 15 back). Then today I rode home from Hollywood and Highland, which I think is just a touch under eight miles. I'll take a similar ride tomorrow just to keep limber, and then should set me up to be feeling good for Sunday's LA River Ride. All told I should end up with around 150 miles this week.

While I was in Hollywood today I bought an Arkel Tail Rider from Hollywood Pro Bicycles. Very cool shop just a block off the Red Line station, and they carry a wide range of Arkel bags. I've had the Arkel Briefcase for a couple years now, and it's held up perfectly. I got the Tail Rider for those instances where I don't need all the space from the briefcase, just enough to carry tools, my lock, and maybe some snacks and water. Check out the features page -- the rain cover, the vertical shape, and the expandability really sold me. I told Alan Thursday that there was no shopping around -- the Tail Rider was what I wanted. Hollywood Pro Bikes had one, and now I have it. I'm happy.

Disposing of Electronics

A while ago now I upgraded both Kathy and my computers. Mine I replaced just guts; new CPU, motherboard, memory, etc, but still the same case. Kathy's computer, on the other hand, was in a tiny Dell minitower that had the motherboard connected into the the frame. Seeing as the motherboard was fried and the case wasn't even normal size for a mini motherboard, we ended up buying her a new case and ended up with the old one as junk.

I knew that it was bad to throw computers away thanks to their various heavy metals, but I wasn't exactly sure where you were supposed to take them. As a result, I did nothing, and for a while now the old case has been in the back of her Explorer.

Turns out the City of LA has an E-Waste program, so we just need to take it to one of their collection centers. That's really easy, and it makes me feel pretty dumb for not figuring that out a while ago.