Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Day at the Races - Saturday 8/23/2008

I've been reading about how California's Central Valley produces something like 75% of most types of fruits and veggies grown commercially in the U.S. Click on that link for a picture of this amazing approximately 450 mile feature.

As we arrived at the Auto Club Famoso Raceway outside of Bakersfield I saw this mound. Can it be?

Does the Central Valley also provide the world's supply of Cheetos coating!?

As we waited behind our friend Racer's rig to check into the ANRA Cool August Nights nostalgia drag races we discovered that the air conditioning in our idling Echo was no match for the 100 degree temperatures.

We're here as part of the crew!

There's lots to watch while you wait your turn!

See those fruit trees behind him? Part of the bounty of the valley. We drove through miles of these on the way up here.

Hydra helps unload the Phantom Bantam!

Racer built this car from the ground up. Those metal flames are removed before start up, of course. For more info, including videos, click here.

His talented daughter did the graphics, including the saucy rooster.

The yellow band means you've paid your entrance fee to the races. The orange band means you're part of the crew.

I had one too!

It started to cool off as the sun went down. There was plenty of time for talking, although a lot of punch lines were lost in the roar of the engines. Some of the cars are so loud, when they started up I literally jumped!

Thank goodness Racer's daughter brought us earplugs!

Racer's daughter and future son-in-law and I drove to a space at the end of the track and walked back to try and get a shot of DP (the driver) opening the shoot as they crossed the finish line during the qualifying round. We were turned back by a staffer who pointed out the places where cars had come through the concrete barriers.

Oh, yeah. That shattered glass we walked around...

I'm not sure I'd have been so confident walking down there if I'd sat in the stands beforehand. Some of the cars get up to 190 miles per hour on that short track!

This shot is of a couple of cars burning rubber and heating up their tires so they expand, right before their runs.

Racer, DP and Hydra right before the first elimination race for the class. It was interesting to watch his face as the time came near.

These drag races are more about the skill of the drivers than about just having the fastest car. You have to get as close to a time of say, 7.60 seconds as you can without completing the run any faster.

It was interesting to watch DP's face as the time grew nearer. Concentration, adrenaline...

The car was towed almost to the starting line.

Unfortunately, when he revved it up for the race, something went terribly wrong. Possibly as bad as a thrown rod.

I remember Dad uttering those words over the engine of my beloved Renault 10. Sigh.

So we packed up. The others drove back to the San Fernando Valley and to Big Bear. Ooph. We were so glad that we'd decided to make a mini-vacation of it and stay in Bakersfield for the night.

Really fascinating, fun and interesting night!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sanchez Produce - Friday 8/22/2008

I'm so glad I stopped by the produce stand again today! Not only to take a shot of the cute new sign, but also to pick more heirloom tomatoes. This time I nabbed a few pounds of green ones. I'll figure out how to cook 'em on Sunday.

It was great to see JS there. He was glad to see me too. He's the son of the woman who owns the stand. Great kid. He's the drum major of his high school band now, and still plays the saxophone. He was chosen as part of the Bands of America Honor Band to march in the next Rose Parade. Only 300 kids from the whole U.S. get to do that.

He's a senior and so busy with school, college applications, etc. I told him about my niece who was in drumline. She's working for a TV station in Kentucky now and her husband is a band director.

JS said he's debating whether to major in business or music. "Why not both?" I asked. He said he's considering that. I just hope he keeps music in his life in some way.

If you'd like to visit Sanchez Produce, you can get directions by clicking here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Local Grapes - Thursday 8/21/2008

These small round Thompson grapes came to the office via Jens, who got them from a neighbor. I have to go check the vine behind our house and see if anything came to fruition!

Non-commercial Thompsons are smaller and less oblong than this backyard strain, which is probably from heirloom stock (like mine.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Foot at the Gym - Wednesday 8/20/2008

Had a kind of wretched day at work. It lasted from 6:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. I took a script with me to read over a stress-eating lunch which included the dreaded french fry. (Okay, french fries.)

A fairly new client--who is not completely educated in what we do here--yelled at me over the phone, questioning our methods, our charges and by extension my integrity. It was highly unusual. I stood my ground, but it was no fun.

On the way home I stopped at the gym, thinking I'd just do the minimum. Maybe 20 minutes on the elliptical or some weight machines.

But there was a spinning class starting shortly after I arrived. Usually I'm in and out of the gym by the time it starts at 5:15. I tried spinning when it first came out in 1847 or thereabouts, when I was working at UCLA and using the gym there and I didn't like it much. I figured I could do part of the class here and feel okay about leaving early.

Wow, the class was aMAZing. Dimmed lights, good music, and a really responsive bunch of fellow spinners. Halfway through the hour-long class I thought I couldn't do any more. But, as I sometimes do with the elliptical machine, I thought I'd just try for another five minutes.

I hit a zone! It was incredible. Lovely endorphins washed away everything. I did the whole class and felt really proud. I didn't think I could really hack 60 minutes at that activity level, but it was great.

I stopped for Thai carryout along the way and didn't get home till 7:30 (15 hours after leaving home and about 1 1/2 hours before bedtime) but to quote Bill Murray in Meatballs, "It just doesn't matter."

Yay, gym!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Same Place, Same Time - Tuesday 8/19/2008

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about this as a photo that had gotten away. This week I had my camera on the front seat of my car, where it belongs, as I neared Hollywood Boulevard.

I was actually astonished to see the same guy on the same bench under the same billboard.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Food Pix - Monday 8/18/2008

The more I take photos of food, the more I respect people who do it well. It's so easy to make things look just gross.

These are pickled eggplants I found in an Indian grocery. They were good, actually.

All the pictures I took of our little writers' group feast on Monday turned out blurry. Blame it on hunger!

Nice colors, though.

Another good meeting.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dream Big, Little Man - Sunday 8/17/2008

Rocky chats up the metal hen in the living room.

You go, boy.