Things I learned when the power went out

Heater Meal
Heater Meal heating

The power going out in some ways turned out to be a nice little lesson on survival after the “Big One”.  In my corner of the SGV trees didn’t just break apart they were uprooted with giant rootballs leaving craters behind.  All that flying and falling trees made for numerous power lines down and power out for me for two-and-a-half days.  The clean up was all outside instead of inside, but still took plenty of man power to get things back in order, not unlike the aftermath of Northridge.

Once it became apparent that it would be days instead of hours before power was restored my neighbors and I got the brilliant idea to cook up all the perisables in our fridges and have a giant “candlelight potluck” party on the first night.  Chilly as it was in the house it was fun just talking with the neighbors, commiserating on the lack of power and just feasting and enjoying all the wine. Continue reading “Things I learned when the power went out”

Thar She Blows!

No, it’s not talk like a pirate day—it’s just windy as all get-out! And it doesn’t have anything to do with Blogging.LA blowing out candles.

In case you haven’t been able to load twitter or step outside today, you very well know that the wind is blowing hard here in LA. As I made my way East on the 101 toward my Studio City home last night, all sorts of debris blew past, including some old woman on a bicycle saying something about my little dog. A brief scan of twitter let me know that people from various parts of the city have been without power, such as a few friends in the Eagle Rock/ Glendale area.

What’s your experience of the wind been? Let us know in the comments—what part of town are you in and what effects have you witnessed?

8 Days and counting until the Great California Shake Out.

The Great California Shake Out
The Great California Shake Out

Are you ready to Drop, Cover and Hold on?  Mark your calenders for 10/20 at 10:20AM for the next installment of the Great California Shake Out.  This is an annual quake drill on a statewide level and there is much going on in L.A. for the event.  Not signed up yet to participate?  There is time to do so on their web page HERE.

Its been over 17 years since our last big quake here in L.A. (Northdridge 1994 to be precise).  Many here don’t remember the shaking or waiting for sometimes days for water and power to be restored.  The Shake Out is about more than just riding out the shaking, its about preparing to be a survivor in the time one waits for help to arrive.  Their 7 Steps are outlined in their web.  In short be prepared to be on your own until help arrives.For me October Shake Out prep involves going back through the Earthquake kit, updating food, batteries and water that have gone stale over the last year. Continue reading “8 Days and counting until the Great California Shake Out.”

STROMWARTCH!!11!!: Silver Lake

1" @ 9AM • 3" @ 11AM • 4" @ 3:30PM

OK, yeah… so, second off that is a full-on rain-o-meter you see pictured above, which for better or worse definitively demonstrates the degree to which I am a raincatching geek. Seriously, I’ve been quantifying the wet stuff since I was 10 years old. I have no idea why. And if it’s any consolation, I didn’t buy the decorative contraption myself,  it was a gift from my beloved wife (probably because Susan got reeeeeal tired of me taking Sharpies to various vases/glassware and inking inch mark approximations all up and down them).

Thirdly, if you look in the background of the middle shot you can make out most of what is in fact a 9-foot-tall wooden heart leaning up against one of our trees in the backyard. That’s a longer story I won’t bore you with here, but yup: we have a rain-o-meter AND a 9-foot-tall wooden heart in our Silver Lake backyard. WIN!

But firstly: Dang if today’s cloud action didn’t dump one,two, three, four inches of precipitation between the hours of 8AM when I set the precipitometer up and 3:30PM when the storm called it a day. Of course your inch-count will vary, but still that’s pretty badass as far as water falling from the sky during the fall. I don’t have LA’s meteorological history in front of me but I’ll bet you October is typically one of our drier months and this drenching could rank as one of the biggest October storms Silver Lake — or perhaps Los Angeles as a whole — has absorbed.

Weird Weather

Cathy Cole's photo used through Creative Commons license

One of the things I love about LA is the way bad weather is regarded as such a bizarre, unforeseen anomaly. (Insert lyrics to “Camelot.”) It’s chilly by LA standards in Chatsworth today (66) and grey. I walked outside to second-hand smoke with my boss this morning, and she looked up at the dreary sky and said “What weird weather,” this being a fairly common response to 66 and overcast here in the Valley. When I first moved to LA years ago, after an extended stint in the upper midwest, it used to crack me up when people would say that. Cloudy sky? “What weird weather.” Drizzle? “What weird weather.” June gloom in September? You got it: “What weird weather.” I used to think of these exclamations as symptomatic of Angelinos’ hot house flower-ish inability to withstand anything but a narrow, precipitation-free  temperature band. This dismayed surprise, like the hats and scarves that get put out on the shelves when the temperature drops below 70, made me smile the vague smile of superiority that anyone who has lived ten Midwestern winters can’t help but feel when an Angelino complains that it’s cold.

Well, it took about two and half years for my blood to thin sufficiently that I am now compelled to bust out my wool beanie and flannel sheets when it’s in the 50s. And not only has my standard for what constitutes “cold” changed radically, but I now understand that weather-induced bewilderment totally differently. I no longer see it as a sign of weakness, but more like a synecdoche for a pervasive culture of optimism–like “How strange that it should not be a nice day!” And what’s so wrong with believing it’s going to be beautiful? Raised on the east coast, I was brought up to be suspect of too much optimism. I come from a family of sardonic, leftist Jews who regarded unadulterated  cheer as some sort of borderline retardation. But LA has changed me. I’ve lived here long enough that I find myself surprised on a day like today when the sun doesn’t come out. Weird.

Bears in the Foothills of the SGV.

This video showed up in my email this morning.  Not everyone in the SGV, include me among them, think that bears in our yards are a bad thing.  This homeowner had them in their Koi pond and enjoyed it tremendously.  They have the right idea, give them distance to stay safe and enjoy the visit the best you can.  Not all bear visits are bad news.

Angeles Crest Highway Reopens

Mountain View
View from Mt. Wilson just off Angeles Crest Highway

Last Friday, Caltrans announced that the portion of California State Route 2 known as the Angeles Crest Highway is now open over its full 66-mile length from La Canada Flintridge to Wrightwood (see June 3 press release on this page). This has been a long time coming for Los Angeles area sports car and sport bike enthusiasts, as well as hikers and others who have discovered this nearby escape route over the years. Unfortunately, the Highway has had more destructive disasters than the castle in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”.
Continue reading “Angeles Crest Highway Reopens”

CERT getting into gear

CERT I recently posted about CERT training in LA and here’s a gentle reminder that now’s the time to get started. There are a ton of classes starting up this week. Actually for some places Monday was the first class but my Google Alert got piled in a bunch of emails so hey, better late than never eh? If you missed the first class you can make it up later so no reason to not jump in. I’m going to be going to the Woodland Hills training so if anyone reading this can make it, say hello! The online calendar is a little out of date so I contacted them this morning and they sent me the up to date full class schedule.

Arsonist at large in Los Feliz

Corner of Franklin and Vermont about 12:15AM, 4/29/11

Someone was Lighting a String of Trashcan Fires late Thursday Night / Early Friday Morning

I took the picture to the right myself. Firetrucks were already on the way, and in fact, already in the area, as this was at least the third trashcan fire lit.

I felt slightly guilty snapping the pic, like I should have done something more, but my Android doesn’t have a “Fire Extinguisher” App, and I really didn’t have that much water on me at the time.

“I.C.M.E.” indeed. Eyewitness account after the jump.

Continue reading “Arsonist at large in Los Feliz”

How Many Rads is LA REALLY Getting?

Radiation Alert! Want to get a heads up on the radiation fall-out hitting LA right this minute? Check this out!  It’s a live streaming radiation monitor set up in West LA so you can see what’s going on at any time of the day or night.

There’s even a chat set up, so you can get answers to all your burning questions.

These guys also get bonus points cuz the device glows in the dark!

It’s time to get CERT-ified

With all the brouhaha going on across the world it’s time to remind all of us Angelino’s that we’re living on top of a ticking time bomb and we all should do our parts to be prepared. A few years ago a bunch of the crew went out and got CERT training. For the un-initiated, CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team and the training is provided free of charge to everyone 18 and older living in the city of Los Angeles.

Local government prepares for everyday emergencies. However, during a disaster, the number and scope of incidents can overwhelm conventional emergency services. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program is an all-risk, all-hazard training. This valuable course is designed to help you protect yourself, your family, your neighbors and your neighborhood in an emergency situation.

CERT is a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens may initially be on their own and their actions can make a difference. While people will respond to others in need without the training, one goal of the CERT program is to help them do so effectively and efficiently without placing themselves in unnecessary danger.

The course is one day a week for seven weeks with a total of 17.5 hours training time. In the classes you’ll learn to:

  • Manage utilities and put out small fires,
  • Treat the three medical killers by opening airways, controlling
  • Bleeding, and treating for shock,
  • Provide basic medical aid,
  • Search for and rescue victims safely,
  • Organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective,
    and collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts.

I missed the initial classes but now that I’m back in LA I’m getting my training at the first available class. If this sounds like something you’re into (and it should be dammit) check their calendar for a class near you! You can also peruse the class manual online.

Help the Red Cross

While this doesn’t directly relate to Los Angeles, I don’t really care. Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last 24 hours, you know some serious shit went down in Japan. Stuff that could easily happen here in Los Angeles. YOU can help. Donate to the Red Cross. There’s a direct link HERE. You’re welcome to click on the Japan tab, but remember there’s bad things happening elsewhere. Why not make a general donation? The money will go where it’s needed most.

C’mon. Skip the Starbucks once and spend that money to help those in need. Who knows? It could be you seeking out the Red Cross after a huge quake here. Wouldn’t you want them to have enough supplies for you?

Weather Or Not

A late-afternoon search yesterday seeking a post-surgery collar option for our dog that would be even slightly less medieval than those demoralizing plastic cones of doom the vet’s office default on (found one), brought me to the Burbank Petco on Victory Boulevard and Hollywood Way and right through the most amazing meteorological event I’ve experienced in all my years as a native angeleno.


Apologies for such over-excitement, which in fact took me by surprise since I’m someone who normally shakes my head at all the STORMWATCH excitement manufactured by our local media anytime the weather drops below 70 and a cloud forms in the sky. But this was pretty jaw-droppingly unique and I was blown away by whatever it is you want to call whatever got dumped there: snow, sleet, icy rain, hail. A weatherman on CBS2 used a term I’d never heard before that sounded like “grapple.” I just call it stop-get-out-the-car-and-snap-pix amazing:


Snow Rhymes With Whoa!

Which is what I said when I looked out my kitchen window and saw how low the snow did go thanks to yesterday’s storm and last night’s chilly temps.

So as is my sworn duty, I clambered out atop our steeply pitched roof  of our Silver Lake abode and from the 10 snaps I made across the vista to the north I cobbled together a panorama I’m not too modest too say kicks total panorama ass:

Click to enormificationalize this baby:

Do you know where your fault lies?

I do, and its not far from where I live.  40 years ago this week was the San Fernando Quake that caused extensive damage and some loss of life here in LA.  As a result of that quake legislation was pass requiring you to disclose earthquake faults near or on your property when you sold it.

The California Geological Survey has had the task forever of mapping those surface faults that put homes and humans at risk. Up until this week you had to either buy their CD or paper maps to get the information.  Now you can download the forms in PDF format, if only out of morbid curiosity, to find what faults are near your home.  The link to the CGS site HERE. Metro Los Angeles is covered in the maps.  Although the map isn’t labeled by street, it does drill down to street level when mapping out the known surface fault lines.

Of course knowing where the faults around you is half the battle.  The bigger one we seem to get lax with is quake preparedness…check out CA Shakeout for more information on how to prepare for quakes, especially big ones.