Saturday, September 06, 2008

I Wanna Rock - Saturday 9/6/2008

And not so much roll.

At least, not while hiking.

Anyone know under what circumstances the round and egg-shaped bits of quartz are created? We also found lots of fairly crystalized quartz, like the stuff in the lower right corner.

We didn't really plan to, but we climbed through a barbed wire fence to check out some freeway-side detritus that Hydra thought might be a motorcycle gas tank, but which turned out to be an empty red 50 pound dog food bag.

Then we explored the huge terraces where the northbound 14 cuts through the hill just south of Santiago Road. Verboten! It's so cool to be a grown up and know that a) you probably aren't going to get caught because it's too much trouble to try and catch you and b) the fine would be worth it.

The base of each terrace is probably 15-20 feet wide. It was interesting to look down at the freeway and to realize that where we were standing was once the inside of a hill.

And me without my camera!

Possible geode.

More of the eggy quartz. (Don't quote me in any term papers, kids. This is not a technical term.)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Traveller - Friday 9/5/2008

A guy walks into a North Hollywood diner at 5:15 a.m. and asks, "How far is it to Venice, California?"

"Twenty-five minutes," P answers brightly. "You just hop on the 101 to the 405 and if you do it pretty soon, it'll be fast." She goes to do some side work in the back.

"Do celebrities come in here?" the Traveller asks the remaining servers. His hair is white and a little wispy. His skin is slightly florid. He's trim. He's wearing a purple polo shirt and light gray pants, and he carried in a very old fashioned tan leather satchel that's now resting near his feet.

"A long time ago," says A. "Not any more."

"We had Carmen Electra not too long ago," V says. "And Kristie Alley." (She means Kirstie Alley.) "From Cheers." Also from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and those Jenny Craig commercials.

The Traveller asks V if she knows how to get to Venice, California. She starts to tell him, but finds out he doesn't have a car. "I think you can take the subway there."

She starts to tell him how to get to the subway station, then looks across the restaurant to me, "You can get to Venice on the subway, can't you hon?"

"No," I say over my cup of coffee, "The subway doesn't go anywhere very interesting, except downtown."

He asks about getting a room there, if it's under $80. None of us know for sure, but we're doubtful. We live here, we don't get rooms at the beach. A turns her back on him, rolls her eyes at me and releases a short string of profanities before saying, "If you travel all the way out here you'd better be able to afford a room!"

The Traveller comes over to my table. "How far is it to Venice, California, do you think?"

"As the crow flies, it may be only about 15 miles, but by road it's more like 25. If you're taking the bus, it will probably take you a couple of hours. I don't know which line you'd need to take."

"Have you been to Venice?"


"Is it quite a place?"

"It's interesting. More interesting on weekends. There's a lot going on down by the water." I shrug. "You might actually like Santa Monica if you're going down there. It's the next town north and it's got more to it...a pier with rides and shops."

"But Muscle Beach, that's in Venice, right?"


I advise him to go back to the Greyhound station. They should have information about connecting buses. He asks about Hollywood. It's on the other side of the Santa Monica Mountains from here. I tell him he might want to stop there on the way, but he seems really focused on Venice.

As he walks back to his seat at the counter, I notice that my forearm is stretched across the open pages of my bound notebook. It's an instinctive thing that I find myself doing in public places even if the person I'm talking to could care less about what's going on in my pages.

The traveler asks a busboy if he knows where Venice, California is. "It's right next to Santa Monica, right? Muscle Beach is there."

He only gets a shrug and helpless open palms.

I think he said he'd come from Atlanta.

I have a feeling he's been dreaming about Muscle Beach for so long that he expects it to be in black and white.

I hope he gets there all right. I hope he's not disappointed.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Night the Inmates Took Over the Asylum - Thursday 9/4/2008

It started out to be a day like any other. I wrote at the diner. I worked. Had lunch at my desk. Worked some more. Drove to the gym and had my hand stamped to secure a place in the Spinning class.

I've take Spinning with two different instructors and I like the more aerobics-like one best. The road bikers seem to disdain this one a bit. They prefer the one where you are practicing skills that will get you past other bikers in a pack or up a big loooong hill.

Not going up big loooong hills is kind of the reason I come to a spinning class rather than hit the Angeles Forest Highway for my work out. That and the air conditioning.

Oh, yeah. And the music.

Anyway, a bunch of us are waiting and waiting. The door to the bike room usually opens about ten minutes before the class so we can get in and warm up a bit. At 5 o'clock one of the other waiters goes and asks to have the door opened.

The manager, who looks so much like a Looney Tunes caricature of a body builder that the appropriate music plays in my head every time I see him, comes over and obliges. The instructor is running late.

About 10 people file into a small room with a couple of dozen stationary bikes in it. Blue lights hang from the ceiling. The room is kept darkish, like a nightclub. Three sides of the room are glass. One opens to the rest of the gym, where people work out in bright circumstances. The other two are overlaid with black and white photos of Lance Armstrong riding in the Tour de France. His yellow clothes and helmet are the only color in the images. The Eiffel Tower is over my right shoulder.

After about 5 minutes, one of the people in the class says she doesn't teach here, but she does teach spin and she'd be willing to run the class. We all encourage her. When she says she doesn't have any music, but we could sing, we laugh. The fit and committed looking rider next to me says she has a copy of the instructor's music in her car...she uses it to run to.

So a few minutes later we're off! The woman leads us in a really challenging class for the remaining 50 minutes.

At one point the manager comes by and does a cartoonish little double take when he sees the gym member on the lead bike, which faces the rest of us from the front of the room. But he has the good sense not to make her stop. Better to have a room full of satisfied members than cave to the insurance policy.

At the end of the class, we all applauded the leader and the woman who had the music. It felt great that we didn't just blow off the work out or scatter to the elliptical machines in disappointment.

I might just be hooked on the Spinning. It really encourages you to take charge of your workout and challenge yourself.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Worklife - Wednesday 9/3/2008

What I didn't know yet when I took this photo was that my worklife was going to change for the better in just a few hours.

One of my clients decided to take its business elsewhere. One of my very difficult, demanding, nerve-wracking clients who never once complained about prices or turnaround times, but cited these things as issues.

This is hard on the business, except that really demanding clients diminish the already narrow profit margin. For me, it's honestly a relief.

No blame came my way. I have a good rep here. And when a small company like ours pays rent on office space, and secures the necessary resources, and offers its employees benefits like health care and a 401k, it's hard to compete with a home office.

Except that we offer a superior product.

It's just so frustrating to me that so many businesses are about the bottom line. Yeah, yeah, you've heard it from me before, but what ever happened to a goal of society building? If you sak me, well cared for workers are the infrastructure of any healthy economy.

After work, I'm going for a spinning class, and it just won't matter.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Bird Work - Tuesday 9/2/2008

I'm on my way to work.

These birds have already started their daily tasks. Preen, watch traffic, fly, eat, poop. Repeat.

Sometimes that seems like an apt description of my work day.

Except with a lot more reading.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day - Monday 9/1/2008

My fabulous writing group came up to Acton for the day!

No, I didn't kill and inter them.

But when you ask "What's there to do in Acton?" the first two things that come to mind (okay other than happy hour at Don Cuco's or hiking at Vasquez Rocks or touring the Agua Dulce Vineyards) are looking through the fence at Shambala Preserve and a stroll around Acton Cemetery.

Since my last visit, Shambala has put up tarps to keep people from viewing and probably pestering the lions, but the writers were very nice about seeing some way off in the distance.

Tomasina and Braveheart got tired of the cemetery before MH and I did. Braveheart was talking to the horses in the barn across the road as we approached.

It was a verrry good day. We wrote, we potlucked, we saw a little of what there is to see in Acton other than special events like organization-sponsored spaghetti dinners and monthly gymkhana competitions.

Oh, and Tomasina... to answer your question: the oldest legible grave marker in Acton Cemetery is in memory of Nellie Robbins Stanfield, who arrived there on October 18, 1898.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bottle Decor - Sunday 8/31/2008

The crepe myrtle, oregano, savory and parsley blossoms I put in the front bathroom yesterday are still holding up.

I love having a yard.

Love it.

Love it.

The antique bottles came from Lone Pine and Bakersfield. The little bowl is from the Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest. I'm not above mementos, but they need to be useful.