Sunday, June 29, 2008

And His Twin D Cells

When I was in second grade, our parents never gave us Star Wars toys.

We never pulled back the wrapping on Christmas to let out a squeal of delight at our new Nintendo or XBox 360. And all we knew about farm animals was that pigs were round and horses were square and goats were triangular.

But I defy any kid of today to produce a toy as supremely cool as Billy Blastoff and his Lunar Rover. Take that, Buzz Lightyear!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Caterpillars of the Community

The caterpillars are trying to kill us.

In this whole global warming fight, the whole idea is to get lots of chlorophyll reactions going all over the world. I stole a passion flower pod from my neighbor’s garden and planted it in a pot where another passion flower had died on me. It shot forth a sprig and spiraled up toward life and abundance.

And then came the caterpillars, devouring machines with no sense of ecosystem balance. (Each of these pictures is of a separate ’pillar.)

Not every caterpillar knew where the juicy stems were.

We’ve kinda had a big back-and-forth lately between bugs and other tenants where I live, with the bugs catching probably the worst of it in a big-tent sleepover. I elected to leave these caterpillars be.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Long and Winding

These are in order from south to north, the reverse of how I took them.

At my cousin’s house, we watched a harrier, a bird that has a British jump-jet named for it. The harrier cannot hover like a hummingbird, but it can (and does) suddenly backpedal midair, to hold its position over something interesting like a darting animal.

Suspended Animation

I could write something clever about hanging a round, but maybe it’s better if I just let the pixels do the talking.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Land of Make-Believe

I should have known I was arriving in a place of enchantment when I stopped for gas.

A bridge to the future


Who da man?


Family Tree

More from Uganda

More on this rope swing later

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Nobody gets there alone.

Contemplating the future

It’s less scary with friends.


Billions of pixels are captured at high school graduations these days. I grabbed these colored dots in a hurry at my niece’s high school commencement and arranged them here to show roughly what the ceremony looked like.

The graduating class had about 200 students.

Standing in line . . .

. . . and her name is read. The crowd goes wild.

Acknowledging adoring fans.

Not the Miles—It’s the Hours

The sun went down over the Grapevine . . .

. . . and rose over Shasta.

Later in the morning I got to see Hood from Portland.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Feeling Begins

Tonight marked the commencement of the commencement season. We fĂȘted two family graduates (and a couple of others) with a backyard barbecue, then headed over to see the decorations that are going up for Grad Night, which happens tomorrow after the ceremonies.

I will not be present for the handing out of diplomas, because I will already be on the road toward the next commencement, which will take place a few latitude notches further north.

The Grad Night theme this year is Harry Potter, a multivolume tale describing the education of a hirsute ceramicist. Apparently the train here comes in to Platform 9 3/4, something like the elevator that stops at Floor 7 1/2 in Being John Malkovich. After the train ride comes a voyage across water that marks a kind of transformation, a good motif that crops up everywhere from the Odyssey to Exodus to Huckleberry Finn.

The water, in this case, has pedal boats in it, and it was put here just for the occasion: The high school doesn’t normally have a pond on the premises.

Tomorrow I hit the highway. More pictures if I have any, and if I have energy when I land.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Special Rider

My sister-in-law went to Uganda and I got a T-shirt. I can’t say all I got was the T-shirt, because I got the biker dude who’s wearing it too. Both his jersey and his leggings are more stylish than anything I usually wear on two wheels, so he’s an inspiration to me.

Although it may appear that his ride is fueled by firewood and charcoal, I have studied the physics of the equipment and determined that those are just extra freight, not an integral part of the propulsion system. Like my bike, his is a hybrid: It stores energy on the way up hills and converts that into velocity on the way down the other side.

My sister-in-law assures me that all the non-metallic parts of the sculpture are made from some kind of obscure nonrenewable rainforest materials—bark and leaves and so on. As Bukowski said, art should be dangerous.

(I think it was Edward Abbey who said that national parks should be a little dangerous too.)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Up before it made sense at all this morning to drive to Griffith Park with my bike on the back of my car, to ride back to Long Beach along the Los Angeles River, passing within a half-mile of my home, then back up to Griffith Park to retrieve my car and drive home.

I covered around 85 miles on two wheels, at a speed that pleased and surprised even me. Normally I don’t hustle along at quite such a clip, but for at least the first couple of hours this morning I was riding in a small bunch with some other folks who were setting a good pace, and that helps inspire a rider and protect him from the wind at the same time.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve done this ride, though this year they stretched it a little longer. Last year I was way too busy to even think about it; if I was doing any meaningful riding, it was mostly in Northern California, between filing court papers and hunting through box after box of miscellany for old financial records.

It’s nice to be back on two wheels more often, instead of spending all my free hours hauling north and south through California’s Central Valley.

Every rider wears something.

Wildfire swept through Griffith Park about a year ago (not for the first time), burning through more than a square mile of dry hillside, at one point threatening the Hollywood sign. I see the moonscape wreckage from the freeway every time I drive north, but I’m usually in the middle of traffic and trying my hardest to get out of the snarling L.A. freeway system to start the long ride up the middle of the state. Today I happened to be out of the car at a spot where I could get a good picture of some of the burned hills.