Category Archives: environment

Monday Morning Diversion: Birdz & Beatz

By way of backstory, our previously existing birdbath proved to be low enough for our cats to nab the occasional sipping or splashing birdy — the most recent victim being a yellow-rumped warbler on Friday. So with a step ladder found discarded on the street last week I raised the water’s level to an elevation more than double its previous height and thus far more advantageous to our feathered friends rather than my beloved feline fiends. Then of course, I set up a camera up yesterday to timelapse the popular new set-up, and set the ensuing clip to a techno dance track that occasionally syncs with the birds’ movements so that it seems they’re boogeying more than bathing. Enjoy.

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?

L.A. loves its cars and the Electric Car is our future.

Cadillac ELR
Cadillac ELR formerly known as the Converj coming to us soon.

Wednesday I got to meet up with GM exec Jim Federico, Executive Director of Engineering, Electric Vehicles at the L.A. Auto Show. I got to ask some of my own questions as well as those you readers posed as part of the ticket contest I was able to run. It was an interesting visit, certainly a lot of information with some answers as well. Where to start with the questions and answers is my big dilemma.

Al Pavangkanan posed the question regarding new battery technology. Jim couldn’t give specifics of what they have in store but did say that they are working with the battery suppliers to develop new technologies that will give us more power for the size compared to what we have now. The problem all the manufacturers have run into is that there isn’t a rush to develop batteries as there isn’t really a market demand for them yet in quantities to offset their costs. Those costs affect what we pay for an EV now, but as demand increases, production increases there will be more incentive to develop new battery technology and help lower costs.  Continue reading L.A. loves its cars and the Electric Car is our future.

The View From Here

Here being this spot around sunset yesterday, about three-quarters of a mile downstream from Fletcher Drive on the westbank of the Los Angeles River, from which I did not previously know that the Hollywood sign was visible. One gets so used to looking at the landmark straight on that it’s a bit of a surprise when it pops into view from such wider angles (click to embiggen):

After the jump I also caught a bit o’ video of a great blue heron successfully fishing in an eddy for dinner, and after that in about the same place as the shot of the Hollywood sign grabbed a really crappy still of a perching osprey, one of the rarest birds to be found around the waterway, who swept in for a landing while I stood there gaping.

Continue reading The View From Here

Urban Nature Call: Western Tiger Swallowtail

It’s been going something like this for summer after summer after summer: I’m in the backyard. A western tiger swallowtail swoops in and busies itself fluttering along the overgrown bougainvillea, never fully stopping at one bloom. I rush into the house, grab the camera, and by the time I rush back out, the elusive creature is either long gone or it lingers haphazardly just long enough for me to get one reeeeally blurry shot before it leaves.

Today it went exactly like that up until the last part where I got one shot that was as if the gorgeous thing decided it had enough fun playing with me and posed, and I offer it for your pre-Labor Day weekend viewing enjoyment  (click to biggify):

Hope y’all have a great holiday.

Timelapse: Bridging The Great LA River Bikeway Divide

There’s about eight miles of Los Angeles River separating its bikeways in Elysian Valley and the city of Maywood. Like most normal people you probably haven’t troubled yourself wondering if that entire stretch of riverbed between those two points is navigable by bike. But if you’re like me and my friend Andrew it was time yesterday to see if we could connect those two dots. We did.

A selection of stills from the trek are viewable here on Flickr, most notable among them is the Bicycle Monument installed below the Olympic Boulevard Bridge, the in-water river chair (full functionality proven by Andrew) south of the 10 Freeway overpass, and best of all: the fellow south of the Washington Boulevard Bridge sitting on a utility cable spool reading a newspaper who looked at us as funny as we looked at him. A map of the entire 22-mile-route we rode is here.

Stump Speech

Tree stump speechTrees are a big deal in Santa Monica. Sometimes they get manicured. Sometimes they get cut down and cause a controversy. In this case, on 11th Street near Santa Monica Blvd., a lone protester has made a stand on a tree stump. The handwritten note taped to the traffic cone on top of the stump reads:

R.I.P. *Here remains what was once a beautiful TREE cut down under our very noses. When will [our] city cease this action?

Hopefully, the city had a good reason to cut down the tree, i.e., that it was dead or dying, rather than just some form of aesthetic tree gentrification. I did see some newly planted trees nearby on the same block, so perhaps that is what will happen here too.

Urban Wildlife: Awesum ‘Possum

On our dog walk this very early morning Susan, Ranger and I close-encountered this young opposum — a remarkable member of our urban animal kingdom that I adore and will protect and defend vociferously — after it scaled the front gate of a house we were passing on LaFayette Park Place in Silver Lake. Its entire lack of fear of us humans and our excited canine in such immediate proximity led me to wonder if the creature was ill, but it seemed — at least outwardly — to be in good health.

PS. Yeah, I’m the kind of animal geek who gets excited by prehensile tails — semi or otherwise — in action.

Big Tujunga Canyon Is The Latest Reason Why I’m Proudly & Forever A Tourist In My Own Town

I’ve been up Big Tujunga Canyon once in my life. Or rather down it. Near the end of the last century, I rode in a Hogs for Dogs Ride put on by the Pasadena Humane Society, and I was part of a huge, mostly Harley caravan that went up Angeles Crest Highway to its intersection with Big Tujunga Canyon and came back down to civilization. Being on two wheels along such winding roads in close proximity to other motorcycles in front, beside and behind one, strictly limits how much of the breathtaking scenery one can absorb.

So it was that research on a project this past Thursday afternoon took me to Bolton Hall Museum in Tujunga and afterwards for a drive up into the canyon in hopes of generally locating a long-gone 130-year-old homestead’s location. With the road practically to myself I drove up slowly, stopping frequently to stand drop-jawed at how dramatic and gorgeous is the canyon.

Big Tujunga Canyon
A bend in the river (click to embiggenate).

The above snap doesn’t really do the scene justice, and neither will any more words about it. So I’ll just finish with: if you haven’t been, go. And if you have been, go back. I know I will.



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

Win Tickets to Ocean Voyagers 3D for World Oceans Day

June 8th is World Oceans Day, a day to “celebrate and honor the body of water which links us all, for what it provides humans and what it represents.” As a nod to World Oceans Day, the LA 3-D Club, in conjunction with San Diego-based PassmoreLab, is presenting the Los Angeles premiere of Ocean Voyagers 3D tomorrow night at the Downtown Independent. The 72-minute documentary features rare footage gathered by filmmakers with unprecedented access.

Narrated by Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning actress Meryl Streep, and filmed over a 5-year span in the waters of French Polynesia, Hawaii, Alaska and beyond, the film follows a mother humpback whale and her newborn calf in a “coming of age” journey for the neonate giant. is giving a pair of tickets to the screening to one commenter. Leave us a note and one lucky winner will be selected around Noon tomorrow.  See below for more details about the event:

Ocean Voyagers 3D Screening + Q&A
Sunday, June 5, 2011 at 8pm

Downtown Independent Theater is located at 251 S. Main St., Los Angeles, 90012

$5 for current LA3DClub members; $10 for non-members (admission is waived with USC Student ID)
FREE if your comment is selected at random!



Sustainable future for the Auto in L.A.?

running red test
Intelligent Vehicle in a "running the red" test.

Yesterday I sat in on a panel discussion with some pretty esteemed folks discussing the future of the automobile and its sustainability as a transportation mode in the Los Angeles “Megacity” of the future.  The panel consisted of local government bodies, think tanks and the like.  All agreed that the freeways now are full and it will only get worse when a project 50% population growth takes place over the next couple of decades.  There is no money for new freeways or other transportation infrastructure so we have to make the best of what we have.  That means finding ways to reduce congestion and traffic which will help with air quality and general quality of life.

One of the solutions is “intelligent vehicles” that communicate with each other to avoid accidents that cause congestion and traffic jams in the first place.  Other solutions to reduce traffic include “congestion taxes” in certain population centers in the area as well as “road taxes”.  These taxes will be used to fund the infrastructure needed to make intelligent vehicles work.

An intelligent vehicle is one that communicates with others on the roadway.  It shares basic info such as direction of travel and speed and allows the systems to warn each other of potential hazards.  Alarms go off when such a hazard is detected to alert driver to potential problems to make decisions on how to avoid a collision.  Further down the road there will be sensors on the roadways that collect data from numerous cars on the road to alert them of problems and alternate routes to avoid congestion or jams. Continue reading Sustainable future for the Auto in L.A.?

Recycling Your Junk

Sign at GelsonsI like an uncluttered room. Spare space=creative energy. So why is it that no matter how much stuff I throw away, there is an endless supply of miscellaneous junk lying around?
Take my house for example. It’s only occupants are me, my love-man Dan and our trusted canine. Okay, throw in a host of relatives who visit (camp out) regularly and a bevy of out of town, quite loved friends who stay for long weekends, so there is a lot of traffic. Somehow we end up with a lot of stuff.
Lately, the garage has been filling up with old cell phones, TV’s, endless cords, out of date CD players, not to mention a huge bag of batteries. My first inclination is to toss this stuff… but I know I shouldn’t, hazardous waste and all. So I was very excited to see the banner outside my local Gelson’s on Franklin in Hollywood advertising their monthly e-waste recycling on the 2nd
Saturday of each month. Next one is May 14th.
I inquired inside as to what they took and it was everything electronic, especially computers. They even take batteries inside the store at the managers station. Yippee. On further research, I found that your local Best Buy also recycles everything electronic. And the county of LA does it too. So the cleaning rampage begins once again. Much to my boyfriends chagrin.

It Caught My Eye: Humma Time

In my unofficial and unavoidable capacity as Lead Surrogate Uncle and Security Chief to the hummingbirds who nest in our front and back yards each year, I endured tragedy and enjoyed triumph with last year’s batches of chicks. Only one of the four survived to fly its frontyard nest, and getting that one to that stage proved quite the dramatic and ultimately fulfilling experience.

Well the next chapter in the saga has commenced, begun this morning when I got buzzed closely by a gonna-be-a-momma humma (I believe a rufous hummingbird) who lighted on the location it had chosen for its partially constructed nest (as seen above) and busied herself in the branches a few feet above where I happened to be standing in the backyard.