Friday, April 30, 2010

Simple Bike Ride

Listening to Little Boots and I'm in a really good mood.

Yesterday I went for an impromptu bicycle ride in conditions I usually prefer to not (read: really windy) but once I got out there, it wasn't so bad. South, East, and West riding wasn't so bad - once I went North it was a bit interesting. The only bad thing I guess you could say was that at times I felt I was being pushed from the side, so my wheels had this odd slippy-slidy feeling. Other than that, it was a beautiful day for riding.

Here's a blurry me in my riding outfit:



Aside from my cell phone, sunblock and water, this is what I usually carry with me (paper, pen, money, cards and ID in the event of an emergency; lip gloss and perhaps mascara in the event of an attractive someone):



This would be my bicycle.



I haven't named it yet, but we've been through a lot together. Some great rides. I've never experienced a flat with this one, and I've been riding it steadily for going on a year and a half.

I usually start out all my rides on the Orange Line Bike Path at White Oak and Oxnard in Encino:



Sometimes I continue along, heading West until I reach Canoga Station in Woodland Hills.



In between points I usually happen upon some beautiful flowers growing, especially during this time of year. It makes for a more pleasurable ride all around (some of the following photos were taken while in motion, so please excuse the quality):





I try to pay attention to all of the signs, which is why I'm surprised when others are surprised when they get into accidents or why there is a bicycle on "their side of the pathway":






I mean, the pathway seems to be clearly marked to me, but what are you going to do except ride, walk, and drive safely? On the return trip I sometimes keep going down the pathway past the Velodrome, baseball and soccer fields until I reach the park:




And then I head up Balboa Boulevard on home. It ends up being about 15 miles round-trip - a simple ride whether sprinting or coasting at most any time of day. Depending on what's going on this weekend, I might try a longer ride up to Granada Hills and back. We shall see.

TGIF, everyone! Make it a great weekend.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

To Be Bespectacled or Not to Be Bespectacled

Seriously, that's the question.

I prefer to wear glasses on days when I'm not interested in wearing my contact lenses - either I wore them too long the day prior or I'd rather not be bothered. My optometrist said that my eyes are really dry and I need to invest in some re-wetting drops; until I remember the next time I'm at Target I've been making good use of my glasses. I love them so and would wear them everywhere if I could - but at the monetary rate they went for I am simply too afraid to think about riding my bicycle while wearing them. What if they fell off? What if my vision was so sharp that I got a headache? (It's happened before.) I can barely see without the aid of something, so to not wear them is not an option.

I happened upon an amusing interview from ESPN, talking with bespectacled BMX-ers about their experiences and perhaps considering alternative options. Naturally, some ride with; some ride without. Some say that as long as you're wearing a helmet they should stay on - something I never thought about, but it completely makes sense. Sadly, I can't find the continuing article that details experience of "some of the guys that used to rock glasses [who] have since moved on to other options", but in the meantime I guess I'll just accept that if they can wear their glasses while doing tricks, then I can wear mine while riding uphill both ways.

Now that I think about it, I could always invest in a glasses strap, perhaps one in a deep violet hue. Oh yeah, I'm totally feeling it now, especially since (per one of the guys) "when you're riding, [glasses block] out dust and debris from your eyes and you look sexy". Something tells me that I can function comfortably within that advantage.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Weekly Conundrum


I love going to the local farmers market every Sunday. Rain or shine, at some point between 8:00 am and 1:00 pm, you will find me there. While it's the promise of consistently good produce that keeps me coming back, it's also the sense of community, seeing familiar faces, knowing where my food is coming from. It just feels good, and I don't know how better to express it.

I walked there today, about a good quarter-mile from my house. After this weekend, I just wanted to make sure the ol' legs were still responding to messages from the brain. That and the weather was just great. Taking in the bright colors of the flora and fauna springing to life helped a lot as well. I normally ride my bicycle to the farmers market, but I'll have to admit that sometimes it's a bit of a pain. Not always, definitely not if I get there before 10:00. But today I got there at about 11:30 and, understandably, everyone wanted to get their goods for the week.

The Encino Farmers Market is actually met by a bike path and has signs surrounding it that encourage the use of bicycles:







The great people over at the Midnight Ridazz community have even put up one of these "Caution! Pass With Care" signs on the southeast side of Louise/Victory:



What makes me wonder is why with all the bike-friendly signage in the vicinity the only available bicycle parking is this (this being behind some petition tables positioned at a small entrance to the market, well away from where could be considered remotely accessible)?



Add that when the traffic getting in and out looks like this:



...and this:



...and that the state of the pathway looks somewhat like this (one of the good portions):



...it all can be made out to be something of a "why do I even bother" kind of situation. But I bother anyway, as it's a highlight to my week that I would rather take part in than not. Granted I walked today and there was a lot more honking and cars turning left instead of right out of the driveway than normal, but it was still a delight. The woman I get cara cara oranges from gave me a free avocado. I am not complaining.

My roommate has written emails about the bicycle parking situation, but that was about six months ago. Until then, we're making do (and enjoying the delicious fruits and vegetables while we're at it).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bad Pain

Today was not a great day. It started off great - a great workout, a stress-free ride home, some reading/writing/editing done, and the promise of an afternoon at Disneyland to sweeten the deal. I wore an excellent outfit and a smile on my face. At 70 degrees and sunny (and in being in the company with my father and younger brother) it was going to be a fabulous day to end a rather sub-par week. I was never more wrong in my life.

The afternoon quickly took a 180-degree turn en route to The Happiest Place on Earth when my lunch decided to come up in a brown paper bag. I was actually relieved, as I had felt queasy and hot in the car for the past thirty miles. What threw me off was when we got to Disneyland - I was ready to resume things and party down as I always do. But I didn't. I made a beeline straight to the Grand Californian Hotel restrooms and puked my guts out. Three times.

I had to assume this was a bad case of food poisoning. What else could it have been? I hadn't done anything out of the ordinary. I'd not been having dreams of fish. An hour later I met with my brother in the Park to get some ice cream - figuring a scoop of rainbow sherbet might help things along. While in line, I took a sip of electrolyte-laden Gatorade in the hopes to replenish what I lost. A minute later, I ran to the restrooms by The Gibson Girl and proceeded to make out with the toilet.

I told my brother I'd be going to First Aid to lie down.

Two hours later, I felt worlds better. No queasiness, no nothing. A bit sore from the forward-moving/bending and morning workout, but no biggie. I felt like me again, and that's all that mattered. Crisis intervened, if not averted. The staff was even kind enough to provide a wheelchair for free (and two sick bags) if in the event that walking around made me feel sick.

I felt great, if not pathetic. Sadly we didn't go on many rides, with the exception of The Haunted Mansion. I even walked around a little bit and felt good. It wasn't until we were wheeling it to Fantasyland that my hips, lower back, and thighs started killing me. I attributed it to sitting down and voted for ditching the wheelchair, but for some reason we didn't. What if something happened? By the end of the night, however, I was writhing in pain during a showing of The Enchanted Tiki Room. I was not enchanted. I was in PAIN. I needed to leave. I needed to lie down. It was not funny anymore. This was at about 8:30 pm.

We thought we'd be heading out at about 9:30 pm, but it turns out our ride wasn't able to get there until 10:40 pm, so for an added hour and change I was in absolute, dizzying pain. I could not think. I swore uncharacteristically, pissing off my little brother. And after swirling a few sips of water around in my mouth (I was afraid to swallow), I made friendly with one of the sick bags. Needless to say, I was miserable.

On the way home I was able to stretch on the backseat of the car and sleep for a good 45 minutes. Having headed upstairs to call it a night, I find that while I am still sore, I feel relatively okay. I ate a bowl of cereal and drank water just to put something in my system, and everything has thankfully stayed down.

Now the question of the day: what was wrong with me? I really don't know what my body was telling me not to do, but this experience reminded me that sometimes sh*t happens and there is very little you can do about it except cry, swear, and later apologize. Especially with physical activities, sometimes it's going to hurt. The only real bad pain I've had as a result of cycling was when I fell really badly - twice. One time, I'd gone down a steep incline and inadvertently hit the brakes too hard, causing my bicycle to flip out from under me and land on top of me as I skidded down part of the hill. My right hip has two gnarly scars on it, and my abs felt like over-stretched rubber bands. The other spill involved me running off onto the dirt from a pavement path and wiping out like a loser - lovely road rash on my arm, and again the skin on my right hip tore. It was fabulous. Both times I went to work the next day. I really shouldn't have.

Sometimes you need to take a break. I don't plan on getting out of bed tomorrow for anything or anyone. No brunch, no bicycle ride, no nothing. Sometimes you need to exercise your right to chill out. I'm really upset that today turned out the way it did. And that's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day

Did you do anything special this Earth Day?

Last year I totally missed Earth Day. It's only now that I realize that it's Earth Day that I shouldn't have felt as bad as I did. Today I did nothing different than I already do - I rode my bike, I took mass transit, and I walked. I could have been greener, I realize; I could have limited today to just man-powered devices. I'll make a note of that - but for tomorrow, and not merely for Earth Day 2011.

Let's face it - one day will not do much to help with the globe's ailment other than raise awareness and incite good feelings. But, hey, that's the start/furthering of something positive, something proactive. While everyone goes to bed with a smile on their faces knowing they did something to help the state of the Earth, my fear is that things will go back to "normal" tomorrow, and the next day. So, I pose a question to you: what can we do everyday? What can we adjust with the goal of emitting less toxins than we are already? Hell, even if it's not toxins, can we lighten up on the electricity? The water? Admit it; whether reverting to sunlight until 6pm or limiting showers to ten minutes or less, every little bit helps.

Think back to elementary school. I remember my first grade teacher, Miss Pikes, telling us five-year-olds that the plastic rings on six-packs of soda cans can be dangerous to animals. Twenty years later and I'm still snipping each ring before I throw them out. The three R's are now Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and have been, again, for the past two decades. What do you remember?

So yeah, I didn't do anything different today. Nothing was uncharacteristic; nothing was a chore. Today is Thursday, April 22 - another day in another year. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why I Will Not Be Seeing "The Losers"

(Editor's note: If you haven't noticed already, I - like others - at times have strong, one-sided opinions on things I have no idea about. We all do, but at the same time we are all entitled, as long as we realize this fact. It makes us comfortable. It validates something, I guess. Naturally, most everything stated here is based on opinion and experience. I've never let anything get to the point of personal insult, and believe that in normal circumstances as long this unspoken rule is applied, anyone should be allowed a rant. That said, feel free to continue, and as always please take anything I say with a grain of salt.)

I have so far seen a few films this year that I thoroughly enjoyed - and by "thoroughly enjoyed" I mean that I didn't want to get up and walk around as a result of being antsy and irritated. I'm honestly not the biggest movie person you'll ever meet, but I pick potential favorites like I pick a pair of shoes or someone to get to know better - show me something good and (while never guaranteed) it's possible I'll buy. Favorites I have - Donnie Darko, Fight Club, Eraserhead, Little Miss Sunshine, Coraline and others - just don't ask me to be excited over, I don't know, Hot Tub Time Machine. I won't write it off completely but likely will enough to rent it eventually. There are still a number of films that I intend on seeing this year but as it has stood since I was last a hopeless doting fangirl, unless I expressly show interest I will likely want to do something else.

Therefore, as mentioned, I will not be seeing The Losers, the most obvious reason quite possibly being the trailer. Because of it I've already seen the best parts of the movie, and don't find it logical to spend $15 on a plot I'm no longer interested in seeing unfold. Also, like Wanted before it (the Fight Club rip-off that it is), I honestly can't believe that someone of Zoe Saldana's stature can kick ass in the way that she's supposed to - just like I couldn't believe Angelina Jolie's stunts. Both actresses are effing beautiful, have appealing figures and dirty mouths; I get that - that didn't keep me from laughing so hard during the latter film. I remember having received complaints from the neighbors. I share the same sentiment for Saldana as I did for Jolie: just have sex with the lead already and be done with it.

Aside from the fact that it looks super contrived and unnecessarily over-stylized (advertising is everything), the biggest reason I will not be seeing The Losers - at least in the theater - is because, well, I'd much rather throw my money towards one of these, or perhaps these. I really want new pedals and grips for my bike. Hell, I'd like a bowl of matzoh-ball soup from Greenblatt's or to get either my rook or daith pierced. You know what I'm saying? Any of the aforementioned is likely to be far more pleasurable an experience than sitting through a two-hour bleh-fest. The threat of a kick in the teeth would probably produce more adrenaline. Different strokes for different folks, I guess - and that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I Like It Rough

Sunday morning I woke up just after noon feeling super sore. Sore toes, sore calves, sore knees... sore thighs, hips and waist. Sore shoulders, arms, forearms, wrists and jaw. No, I hadn't gone on a bicycle ride, or worked out (with the exception of a 5-mile run earlier in the day). I certainly didn't meet anyone special. Rather it was the collective result of a typical Saturday night involving friends, much laughter, and a pair of lace-up leather heels. Choose your own adventure, much?

Which brings me to the pain, the type that was very reminiscent of intense weekend bicycle rides that, admittedly, I haven't partaken in for quite some time. It's been hard getting people together and coinciding schedules, but to be honest there's no excuse not to get out there on my own. In training for next year's LA Marathon (I believe in taking my time), I've been running and building muscle, getting used to the good, deserving type of pain that requires a clench of the jaw, controlled breathing, and a deep stretch before bed. But there's nothing like the good pain of a long bicycle ride.

Although I haven't done so in a while, I enjoy that (with enough water and the right pair of Novara padded shorts) I can hop on and go for hours. I intend to do a 35-50-mile ride this weekend, and this is the event I'll be partaking in this June. Only 70 miles. Eventually I'll work my way up to 100.

I'd totally quote Madonna's "I'm Breathless" right now, but that might be toeing the line a little more than I originally intended.

It's A $in

I'm not a fan of Ke$ha - not a real fan, anyway. I actually think aside from her hair, she has a very unkempt look and perhaps I could get an STD just looking at her. What a horrible thing to say, yes, but what can I tell you? She's grody. However, a few days ago I downloaded two of her singles - "Tik Tok" and "Blah Blah Blah", the former after its constant assault on the radio; the latter after watching Kevin of The Kevin and Bean Morning Show on KROQ's parody of just how effing ridiculous she is. And she is. I am not denying that fact.

I write music reviews and feature bands on semi-regular basis - schedule permitting - and as a result am open to new things. A lot of new things, however, sound the same, and Ke$ha is no exception. She's going for an edgy sound that falls short tremendously, causing everyone to write her off as delusional. Perhaps that's her goal? I've streamed the rest of her album Animal elsewhere, and it just gets worse... with the exception of "Backstabber". I don't know what to tell you, but as buzzed-in-the-club music, it works to a degree. Can you tell how confused I am?

That said, the two previously mentioned singles are great walking music - and I walk a lot. It's not necessarily dance music, but it's icky pop, and I don't know what to tell you (yes, I'm aware this is the third time I'm using this phrase) - the tempo for each song is about the same and the songs are so full of air that I can't put any lasting thought into dissecting them. I can't help but smile at how silly it all is, and what "talent" is now defined as. At the same time, her persona reminds me of the Facebook photos of some girls I knew and wanted to be when I was younger. Let's just say that the grass is dry and brown on the other side as far as I'm concerned. Ugh. Greasy hot mess.

Ke$ha needs to stay in the studio and never come out. (Some people might object to the first portion of that statement, but I digress.) If she were some faceless individual I might be able to tolerate what she and her people are going for, but the fact that she comes out trying to be an actual performer is what's sad and embarrassing. The troll belongs under the bridge. And that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Haven't I Seen You Somewhere Before?

I've been taking the bus somewhat regularly for the past twelve years, starting when I got my first job as a student aide at age thirteen (previously mentioned in this post). Initially my mother would take me to work, but she understandably got tired of driving the ten or so miles - which I found interesting because she pushed me to apply for the job in the first place, but I digress. Long story short, for the benefit of both parties she taught me how to take the bus. She told me which one to take and at what time. She also told me to have a book handy if in the event that I got bored. The most invaluable piece of advice she gave was that I not draw undue attention to myself or talk to strangers. I took this as an opportunity to observe the hell out of who came through the doors at nearly every stop. This I could do. This I did, happily.

I grew familiar with a number of people in my first year on the bus: the older gentleman of about ninety with the jet black hair, the big n' tall woman who sometimes smelled of chicken noodle soup. One particular day in winter, however, a man came on the bus that I would never forget. His head was bald, his face shaven, the corners of his mouth soft and drooping. He was all dressed in dark blue save for a pair of brown shoes spotted with age. He carried a big rolling bin draped in a black plastic bag with a Linus-blue blanket on top of it. The handle had duct tape wrapped around and through it. That wasn't enough, of course - he wore a pair of yellow goggle glasses that literally magnified his eyes to the size of silver dollars. That day he stood in front of me, grabbed onto the bar overhead for balance and inadvertently or otherwise proceeded to bore out my soul as he towered over me. I was already tired and cold that morning, but at that moment, I quickly became frightened for my life.

Over the years we would see each other again - he would board the bus, and I would sit further away from the front, where he generally liked to sit or stand. This guy and I probably shared a space every day for the next five years thanks to that East-West bus each morning.

Fast forward another six years to 2010 (read: this morning) and to my taking a North-South bus as part of a regular commute. Who should I see board the bus just like it was yesterday? Creepy Mangnify-Eye Guy, that's who, except for one difference - he was wearing a khaki green hat. Still had the rolling bin. Still shaven, eyes still big as saucers. He could afford to be cleaner, but at least he looks healthy. Actually, he hasn't aged a bit. Perhaps he's Death.

What? You were expecting more?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Pedestrian's Review of Kick-Ass (contains pseudo-spoilers)

I saw Kick-Ass last night.

A lot of critics said that what really bothered them about the film was the fact that young people/children were shown killing relentlessly, and at a few points were being beaten to a pulp. To be completely honest, neither of those things bothered me. Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass/Dave Lizewski) and Chloƫ Grace Moretz (Hit Girl/Mindy Macready) handled their roles like pros. Seriously, everyone and their mother knows Moretz killed it. She's amazing. And no matter what anyone says, Johnson was great in his role. Of course it helps that I find him insanely attractive (those lips!; that hair!; those eyes!), but I digress.

So yeah, it wasn't the shootings through-the-skull/out-the-chin that bothered me, or somewhat watching a guy be microwaved to death (although, as a friend noted, I jumped at the blast). It wasn't Hit Girl calling the bad guys see-you-next-Tuesdays. It wasn't even Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong) later kicking the shizznit out of her that bothered me. Before I continue, I need to explain that I'm not an advocate of crass language or overt violence, but rather find it can be "appropriate" when "in context" (as "appropriate" or "in context" as one can get). I thoroughly enjoyed 300, Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2, Sin City, Gangster No. 1, and all other such clever, bad-ass, blood-laden films. Don't dare ask me why. Don't criticize the directors, producers and screenwriters as to why. Do consider the R rating.

That said, there were two things that rattled me, at least longer than they probably were supposed to. One scene involved Nicolas Cage. The other involved a hit-and-run. Both scenes were painful to watch, but I'll leave it to your own devices to figure out which one bothered me more.

Rating: 9.75 out of 10

Thursday, April 15, 2010

From the View of the Street, Part Two

In addition to riding my bicycle, I utilize public transportation to get around, whether for responsibility or leisure. Sadly, Los Angeles doesn't have the most reliable or available or service, but for what it is, it's okay. I've been taking the bus regularly since I was thirteen - to school and to a part-time job with the LAUSD - so there's something to be said about its overall impact on my life. For instance, if people ask me how to get from Point A to Point B, I like that I can list off a few lines going in their direction. I like knowing this information myself. I also like the relative freedom of hopping on, taking a seat, and getting where I need to go.

For all the "no muss, no fuss" experiences I've had, there have been some serious "WTF?!" moments as well. This entry will cover some patrons' habits that - while extraordinarily general - fall in the middle. That fact, however, doesn't make them any less annoying and discourteous.

My biggest observational peeve involves those who take the outermost seat in each row of two seats. This I can understand if the bus is empty, but even then I don't really. Perhaps it's just preference, but I'd rather sit by the window so that should someone take a seat next to me, (a) I don't have to slide over and/or (b) they don't have to crawl over me. Which brings up another point - if you're not comfortable with being surrounded by people, then you might want to get a car. If you find yourself taking public transportation in Los Angeles for as many years as I have, you will inevitably experience having someone's crotch in your face, and it won't be mutual.

Pulling the cord for a stop shouldn't be complicated, but I can understand if you've forgotten your stop was coming up and you yank the thing with an unintended force. Realize, however, that pulling it once is all that's necessary. There are these flashing signs on the trains/buses now that say STOP REQUESTED, and for some reason in between flashes some patrons re-yank the cord with just as much gusto, sometimes causing the thing to break. I have been on buses before where the cord legitimately didn't work before, so at times it's justified - but in that case, a little "Driver, next stop, please" works just fine. And if he/she doesn't listen/didn't hear you, an impassioned "STOP!" never hurts either. I guess that's why they installed those red STOP buttons on the newer buses now. They got tired of people yelling at them.

I realize that we now live in a modern age where men don't have to necessarily be chivalrous, as in giving up their seats for women, women/men with children/shopping bags or the elderly - but I'm a 25-year-old woman who will give her seat up for a man who looks like he's 60. I will gladly stand unless he says no. My point is that it should be common courtesy to think of others. I guess that's what this whole thing is about, actually. Sometimes I admit to being a little aloof - either I've had a really crappy day or my iPod is turned up a little too loud - but it's rare that I miss out on an opportunity to make someone's moment a bit easier. It's my little give and take with the universe, what can I say?

To be continued...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

From the View of the Street

(Editor's note: I am writing this during the early hours of Tuesday morning and I have not yet gone to bed; therefore, it is still Monday in my mind. Forgive any references to "today" or "yesterday" as Monday and Sunday, respectively, as technically they will be one day behind.)

(That said, this is not an anti-car blog, neither is this an anti-car entry. I have owned two cars in the past, and one of these days life might result in my getting another car; I still have a driver's license in case of emergencies - I just believe that people sometimes forget how much control they actually have. Ironically, it has taken being a pedestrian and cyclist for me to realize that. These are observations on ridiculously haphazard driving habits that are considered by some to be normal. As BikeSnobNYC has so eloquently said, "idiots travel by foot, car, and bicycle"; rest assured that I have plenty of material lined up for the "foot" and "bicycle" portions, which will soon follow. Thank you for your understanding. Without further ado:)


Traffic-wise, the last two days have been particularly adventurous. Sunday brought the rain, while today threatened rain but instead brought pockets of unexpected traffic not abnormal in the West Valley[-ish area]. I'm not exactly certain what it is about either situation that brings the worst of driving habits out of people. While somewhat influenced by outward elements such as slick roads or too many cars, there is a degree of selfishness and disregard that seems to compete for being the utmost reason behind such habits. (Seriously, someone should make a bumper sticker that says something to the effect of "One a$$hole decision, a lifetime in traffic.") For example, it seemed during the last couple of days that most drivers were either not looking both ways (for other cars, pedestrians, or cyclists), were cutting in front of other cars, speeding towards stop signs (leaving skid marks and smelling of rubber), or trailing behind left-turning cars well after the opposing light had turned green. It was almost as if their inner jerk hadn't seen the sun for a while and was making up for lost time.

I appreciate being observant when it comes to driving trends and habits as much as I don't because it tends to anger me. Actually, what tends to anger me as much as frighten is when I see indicating factors that a car accident has ended on the sidewalk, not on the road - already horrible in itself. I recently saw one of those new bus benches - thick, ridiculously heavy beige plastic - smashed to pieces, bent, and broken. The middle seat was nowhere to be found. Now, I understand that life or the universe or God (or whatever) allows what eventually happens to happen (and should the worst happen we have to deal the best we can [if we survive]) - but when it boils down to it, we have a say as to whether the decisions we make are for the better of all or for the better of our need to get somewhere a little faster. That said, I'm so glad that I wasn't sitting on that bus bench. Blood belongs in the body, not on the pavement.

Cars are machines. They can be efficient modes of transportation, or they can be weapons. I have a feeling that if more people really and truly realized the power source behind the operating mechanisms (read: the general you) we would see a sizable percentage decrease in what are considered relatively avoidable accidents. Let's face it: such accidents are as much a result of oversight or being in the wrong place at the wrong time as they are a result of being a f#$!%ing jerk. The sooner the latter is realized and dealt with, perhaps more accidents can be avoided.

To be continued...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Warmer Weather Activities

I'm going to try and fit in a long bicycle ride in before 8:00 tomorrow morning - not only because I want to get on with the rest of the day, but because it's getting rather warm this side of the Valley. Keep in mind that it's not yet mid-April. Soon will come the months in which it will be ill-advised to do any strenuous outdoor activity after 10:30 am on any given day. Bad air conditions, heat stroke, dehydration - you name it, and the Desert... erm, the Valley pretty much specializes in it.

One thing that I need to invest in before it's too late in the season is a bottle of sunblock. Every year I tell myself that I won't be in the sun for too long, which isn't a lie as much as it is a gross underestimation. When springtime rolls around it is mad playtime. I live for April through October because, naturally, when the working day is done, girls just wanna have fun - my only deal is being three different shades of brown until the season ends. Hence the need for sunblock.

If I could veer off topic facetiously for a second, for some reason it seems that the fact that people with more melanin tan is some sort of a newsflash (if only phrased in more ignorant terms). I only mention this because of the kick I got in elementary school when I was "educated" by some classmates that 'black people don't tan'. I remember looking at them like they were aliens, but still find it hilarious years later and therefore mention it when it's somewhat relevant. Yes, my skin tans, but I personally don't find it worthwhile to spend hundreds of dollars a year on it as a seasonal accessory. With that said, uneven skin tone will be the bane of my existence until kingdom come. No matter what I do, my face will be a different color from my abdomen until at least late October - unless I buy a jumbo-sized bottle of sunblock. Although, over the years I've gotten really good at explaining the flesh-colored bathing suit.

Among other things besides sunblock, at least twice the amount of water, electrolytes, and water-rich fruits or vegetables are good "must-haves" if you're taking a ride in the heat. Unless you enjoy the feeling of collapsing on hot asphalt, of course. Now that I think about it, hot days mean deliciously cool evenings and therefore refreshing night rides - so it might be worth it to save up all energy until twilight hits.

EDIT: Weather updates say that tomorrow will be cloudy and cool, mid-sixties-like. Thanks, universe!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fascinating

Recently I had mentioned there being an island close to Cancun that is car-free. I found some information - not on the island, but - on Vauban, a district in the city of Freiburg, Germany.

Here's a YouTube video:



Here's a Wikipedia link (jump here for 'Transport').

It's all so fascinating, the measures some cities have made towards smart planning. How do you find it - as a wave of the future, or a breath of fresh air from the past, per our very-easy-on-the-eyes The Resident reporter?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Centered

My roommate got an idea from somewhere, I don't remember where exactly, to draw up a map of our neighborhood and to represent in some way a two-mile radius in all directions. So he did - as a result we've a modified Google map with a bright red circle therefore highlighting various places within "comfortable" bicycle-riding and/or walking distance. This so far includes (but is not limited to) the bank, the post office, a pet supply store, a few favorite restaurants, a few grocery stores, the every-Sunday farmers market. Again, I have no idea where my roommate came up with the idea, but it was a fabulous one. With its being stuck in plain view on the refrigerator, it serves as a good reminder of how possible it is to have one's life centered when it comes to the important things. Don't get me wrong; I like heading over the hill to Hollywood or the beach as much as the next person and manage to lead a life outside of my comfort zone. But in living in the Valley for the whole of my life and not really knowing what it has to offer, I've begun to like it more the more "limited" I've been. Surprises are found in holes in the wall, and in getting more acquainted with the Studio City area (a favorite, quite naturally), I've found it a little less imperative to head over the hill as often. At the risk of sounding redundant, it's a little like being over the hill without being over the hill - hip, chill, posh, and all other such loaded adjectives - except things still close around 9:00 or 10:00 pm, which I've always found insanely weird. Oh well, their businesses, their rules.

Still feeling torn when it comes to investing in four wheels, although not really. Yes, I'm referring to a car, not a Radio Flyer wagon, and therefore a never-gonna-happen these days due to unpredictable funds and exhaust fumes. Besides, I'm still loving the sweet smell of spring to be bothered [too much].

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Women and Bicycles, Part Two

To be honest, I wasn't aware that the first of these entries was a Part One, but after biking to the market today, I couldn't help touch on the subject of wanted and unwanted attention.

Sunday is my "get everything done" day, from grocery shopping to cleaning to taking out the trash to appearance-maintaining - all the things that need to get done to make the week run smoother. I'd already done the aforementioned with the exception of heading down to Trader Joe's via bicycle. Usually I like to be done with shopping by 2pm, but due to other pressing matters (read: sleep) I headed out a little later than intended. I hopped on the bike at around 4:30 pm, noting it was a bit chillier than usual when I noticed two guys on bicycles heading up behind me. I was naturally a little surprised but kept on riding. All of a sudden I heard a distinct "Wooo! Girl, I like your booty! I LIKE YOUR BOOTY!" I made a right on the next street.

Normally this doesn't bother me, but for some reason it did, as it invaded my space. I remember one time being told by some guy as I was mounting my bicycle that my thighs were 'thick and luscious'. My face was flushed out of anger and embarrassment, to be honest. First, no woman likes for her thighs to be described as thick, especially by a stranger. Second, the resulting responsive feeling was not one of flattery. It was eerily akin to the one time my ear was tongued out of left field in a club on New Year's Eve one year - I mean, really! Who was this guy?! Anyway, I eventually made it to Trader Joe's, but when locking up my bicycle I realized I'd left my wallet at home. So I bicycled back, grabbed it, and headed back. By the time I got there, the store had closed. Damn you, Easter Sunday. I didn't even get off of my bicycle.

Turning around, I headed back up the street and decided to sprint it back, just for fun. Rising body temperature cutting through cold air is always a thrilling sensation. Whoops, hollers, and whistles cutting through my euphoric space, however, aren't so much. Considering that I was wearing jeans, a bulky sweater, very little makeup and a helmet, I just don't know how anyone could find me attrac-- wait, let me re-phrase. How do you want me to react, gentlemen? Do you want me to give you my number? Take off my clothes? Drop it like it's hot? I mean, I know that people look, especially on warmer days and in tighter clothing, but I'll take the double-take over anything else any day. But I guess you can't help people, and you can't help what attention you get.

It's just so as;dl;ksflsk;'lk sometimes.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Letting Off Steam

This might not make sense to some of you, but it will make sense to others. Trust me, if you don't have a car and at times rely on public transportation in the Valley north of Ventura Blvd you'll understand what I'm venting about.

Metro is generally great when it comes to the Orange, Red/Purple, Blue, Green and Gold lines, but it's a constant fight when it comes to local buses. I try to avoid them at all costs, finding that my legs and bicycle are far more reliable at times. Still, when it's the only option, it's the only option. Sometimes I'm surprised at having a stress-free ride, but the only time that happens is when I'm not pressed for time. I often (daily) wonder how Los Angeles and its surrounding cities can call itself a city and still have at times a crappy execution of service. I'm venting, and since I'll be on a roll I'm throwing in some non-MTA material as well...

1. Connecting buses and their operators - if you see a bus has stopped at a red light and you have stopped at the connecting bus stop, why not wait a minute or two for the first bus to potentially let passengers off so they can cross the street to get on your bus instead of having to wait another 40 minutes?

2. Very happy to see the prominently placed bike lane on Reseda Blvd; bravo. Now, why does the 741 Rapid not operate on Saturday/Sunday? There are a million people looking to get somewhere every day of the week, not just Monday through Friday. While I understand the underlying logic, I don't understand the lack of availability. Sure, the 240 is operating, but not often enough. (This sentiment also applies to some lines stopping service just before 9:00 pm during the week.)

3. North/South buses tend to run very few and far between - not just on the weekends, but during the week. In fact, during the weekend I just pretend they don't exist. I am extremely thankful that where I generally need to go requires an East/West bus (whether heading to Hollywood or Woodland Hills), but good grief, man.

4. I find it a little ironic that the area bordering Warner Center Transit Hub has the most ill-paved streets and sidewalks. It is a deadly feat to bicycle on Canoga Ave between Owensmouth and Oxnard, and to be honest it is a real shame. It is literally right around the corner from the Hub. Also, the "I've a Lexus; hear me roar" mentality in the vicinity of Topanga Canyon Blvd/Victory is just... I don't know. You couldn't pay me to bicycle on Topanga. I'd be asking to die.

5. And finally, the problem of congestion. No one likes to ride in a bus that jam-packs patrons like sardines, but when you have to be somewhere, there's little to no choice. People have to be places; they're going to be pissed if they have to wait for the next bus. I remember one summer afternoon heading home from work at about 2:00 pm and the bus was already filled to capacity. The operator had to drive past a stop crawling with people; it was so sad. This bus in particular was running every 30 minutes that day - is that hint enough that there should be a touch more frequency? I mean, just a touch?

These are pretty much rhetorical questions, but if anyone would like to answer/discuss/vent, please do. I normally don't complain about Valley public transportation, because when it's good, it's exceptional. But when it's bad, it sucks like you wouldn't believe.