Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jupiter dances with Venus and Luna




Thanks Dad for the heads up, literally!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cai Guo-Qiang Installation at Melrose and Highland


My favorite site specific installation in Los Angeles.

Mozza and Casa Bianca: Italy's Ambassador's in L.A.


Calamarata with guanciale, tomato & spicy pickled peppers, perhaps the most perfect incarnation of "pasta" ever conceived. Osteria Mozzo




Casa Bianca's "Deluxe Pizza" with sausage, mushroom and green pepper. This is the kind of pizza that conjures up memories, real or imagined, of playing stickball on a busy street in Brooklyn in the 1950s, riding bikes to the movie theater and sneaking in to watch Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot.

On the street: BMW H7




Last weekend, I spotted this BMW H7 parked outside the gallery. I had a feeling it was being used by auto dignitaries in town for the LA Autoshow. But is it available? The distributor plates tell me that it's available to an extremely select few individuals with serious clout in Bavaria, Jay Leno for example.

Monday, November 24, 2008

L.A.'s Solar Initiative: Green Revolution or Insider Scandal?


LAIST reports today that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will unveil a plan to install solar panels throughout the city that will deliver 10% of the city's power within 12 years. Dubbed Solar LA, the mayor states the plan will jumpstart green economy jobs in Los Angeles and claims it's the "largest solar energy plan in the country."

While this sounds like music to the ears of all environmentalists, there's another perspective on this deal that explains the inner workings of how a plan like this gets formed and who really benefits from it:

From Ron Kaye LA:


The mayor cut thea deal with his long-time pal Brian D'Arcy -- the IBEW union boss who runs the publicly-owned utility behind the scenes -- to suddenly end 10 years of resistance to solar energy and embrace it as a city-wide mandate.

The price is that all the work must be done by IBEW workers on the DWP payroll -- humble workers who thanks to the mayor's generosity are enjoying 6 percent wage hikes in the nation's worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, increases that come on top of their already inflated salaries.

In a matter of a few short weeks -- without public hearings of any consequence or any kind of coherent analysis or study or even the involvement of the public and DWP commissioners -- the City Council agreed to put this outrageous plan on the March 3 primary ballot "to let voters decide."

Whoa! Now this proposal sounds terrible. Why is the City Council putting this plan before voters when it was drafted by the union that stands to benefit from it? Why didn't the council simply approve the plan without voter approval? Where is the truth? Is Solar LA the dream of green energy realized or a blank check to the Mayor's buddies at IBEW?

The Pink Sari Gang: India's A-Team




I just heard about the Pink Sari Gang on Morning Edition. All I have to say is these ladies are the physical incarnation of all that is good in the world. If you're a drunkard or corrupt official in India, watch out! The Pink Sari Gang is out there. Reminds me of another vigalante group of freedom fighters...


The A-TEAM Intro - Click here for more home videos

If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Best Pork Chop of my life


Last night was our second visit to Animal on Fairfax. Their food is incredible. The service is so friendly and warm. The spartan decor and rock music are de-riguer of fancier, more expensive joints. Best of all, there's a real joy expressed in the dishes there. You're just happy when you're eating the food. I can't explain it any better. The food is a true anti-depressant.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

eBay still doesn't trust me to sell "branded" items


It's been months since I first got blocked by eBay for attempting to sell genuine "branded" items. eBay continues to block my sales, with no evidence of counterfeit intent on my part. They insist I have to build up my feedback, but block me from selling, which is how one builds feedback. When I manage to sell something within their secret restrictions, I get glowing positive feedbacks. In fact, my feedback scores exceed eBay averages in 75% of categories. Their logic is fundamentally imbecilic, which may explain why their Trust and Safety Department took 6 days to come up with this excuse for an explanation to their unjustifiable policy:

Dear 69fasty,

Thank you for writing eBay in regard to the recent blocks you have encountered. I apologize for the delay in our response to you as we've been experiencing unusually high email volume.

We understand that you may be disappointed about the selling limits you are experiencing, and we hope you'll understand that account and listing restrictions are intended to provide the most positive buying experience possible, which increases overall sales for sellers. We apologize for any unnecessary inconvenience.

Unfortunately, we can't raise your selling limits at this time, but we'd be happy to review your account again after 90 days. Our considerations include buyer feedback, time and activity on site, and compliance with eBay policies.

It is important to note that the restriction you encountered was not directed specifically to your account but rather a site-wide initiative that we've implemented. As such, all sellers that regularly sell various items on our site were faced with this restriction at one time or another.

The best course of action for you at this time would be to continue selling your luxury items on the site within your limits.

If you have other types of items you may be able to list them on the site once you have hit your monthly limits to help you build your selling reputation on eBay and generate revenue.

Please visit eBay's Help pages for more information on our listing policies and guidelines:

http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/seller-rules-overview.html

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Bethany

eBay Customer Support

Once again, eBay encourages me to continue selling within the limits they placed on my account, but fail to disclose what the limits are. I can't think of any other comparable situation where this paradox of logic exists, at least in the free world. Maybe Guantanamo? Why eBay fails to enact real policies that address counterfeit sales without restricting legitimate activity is beyond my comprehension. Their shareholders are missing out on my seller fees, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching.


Mailman Steve: A True American Hero


Hero or Criminal?

Mailman Steve, as he's affectionately known by the neighbors he serves in Apex, North Carolina, was found guilty of failing to deliver years worth of junk mail. When prosecutors notified the neighbors he serves of his accused crime, only one person responded, in support of their mail carrier.

From The News and Observer:

Padgett built up good will on his route by handing out treats to dogs, making sure packages were left on dry porches and introducing himself to customers. Children called him "Mailman Steve."

The U.S. Postal Service never received a complaint about the missing mail and didn't know anything was amiss until they were contacted by a utility worker who noticed the excess mail at Padgett's house in Raleigh. Postal inspectors went to the home this spring and discovered the third-class mail piled in his garage and buried in his yard.

The judge showed mercy and gave him a fine, probabtion and community service. I say he deserves a medal and presidential pardon! Mailman Steve, I salute you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Free LA ZOOs lone Elephant: Write to LA City Council Today!





Thanks Jessica for forwarding me this call to action!

Subject: Write LA Council Members Today 19th (Tell Them to Free LA ZOOs
lone Elephant)

My favorite animal lovers, LA City council meets today to decide on the fate of their lone elephant who is confined by itself in an unsuitable enclosure. Elephants need space or they often die (LA zoo has lost 13 elephants to complications from illness way before their natural life span.) My email is below and so are the council peoples email addresses. It'll take you less then 5 minutes.

From: alex

To: councilmember.reyes@lacity.org; councilmember.greuel@lacity.org; councilmember.zine@lacity.org; councilmember.labonge@lacity.org; councilmember.weiss@lacity.org; councilmember.parks@lacity.org; councilmember.cardenas@lacity.org; jan.perry@lacity.org; councilmember.wesson@lacity.org; councilmember.rosendahl@lacity.org; councilmember.smith@lacity.org; councilmember.garcetti@lacity.org; councilmember.huizar@lacity.org; councilmember.hahn@lacity.org

Sent: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 1:50:30 PM

Subject: Free LA ZOOs lone Elephant

Dear Council Members,

I am writing you to encourage you to shut down the LA Zoo Elephant exhibit and send it's single lonely occupant to a Sanctuary.

It's unacceptable that Los Angeles, a city I am generally proud of in terms of it's enlightened citizenship and forward thinking policies, would not follow the humane example of other cities and get rid of elephant exhibits which put entertainment value above the health and welfare of these very special and intelligent creatures.

There is just no reason elephants should be dying and suffering because of unsuitable conditions under our watch. Elephants also are social creatures and to leave this creature in solitude is simply cruel.

Please do right by our city, and our collective humanity and send Billy to a natural habitat sanctuary.

I implore you to please put the best interest of this great animal as a top priority. Its the right thing for our city, and for our children.

Sincerely,

Alex
http://engagedobserver.blogspot.com/

Beach House: "Used to Be" [Video Premiere]



directed by Matt Amato, is for the Used To Be 7" release.
Trains? Check.
Lone Desert Vistas? Check.
Wandering along desolate bi-ways in retro cars and vestiments? Check!

Way to go Matt!

A Tale of 2 Companies GM and Toyota

I smell a revolution brewing...

Which company would you invest in? GM or Toyota?

GM




From ABC:

All three CEOs - Rick Wagoner of GM, Alan Mulally of Ford, and Robert Nardelli of Chrysler - exercised their perks Tuesday by flying in corporate jets to DC.

Wagoner flew in GM's $36 million luxury aircraft to tell members of Congress that the company is burning through cash, asking for $10-12 billion for GM alone.

"We want to continue the vital role we've played for Americans for the past 100 years, but we can't do it alone," Wagoner told the Senate Banking Committee.

While Wagoner testified, his G4 private jet was parked at Dulles airport. It is one of eight luxury jets in the GM fleet that continues to ferry executives around the world despite the company's dire financial straits.

or Toyota


From Toyota:

A Camry Hybrid Fueled by CNG

As you very likely know, we’re big believers in the concept of hybrid vehicles. We build gas-electric hybrids in several styles; one of them, our Prius, is the most fuel-efficient vehicle in America.

But we also believe that there’s more than one way to solve a problem. One problem we’d like to solve involves the unpredictable nature of gas prices.

Gas prices are relatively low now, but they were incredibly high last summer, and could well revert to those high levels. But the price of compressed natural gas (CNG) remains fairly stable, and there’s a strong, reliable domestic supply of CNG. It just happens to be one of many alternative fuel applications being explored in Toyota’s broad sustainable mobility research and development strategy.

That’s why we built a special concept CNG Camry Hybrid that we’ll display at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday.

To convert a stock Camry Hybrid to a CNG vehicle, the gasoline fuel system was replaced with a CNG system that includes a pair of CNG tanks installed in the spare-tire well of the vehicle’s trunk. Because it now lacks a spare tire, the CNG Camry Hybrid rolls on runflat tires. And roll it does. With the proposed CNG equivalent of 8 gallons of gasoline in its tanks, the estimated range of the CNG Camry Hybrid is more than 250 miles. Link that efficiency to the price of CNG and you can see why we’re interested in this – as this is written, CNG is about a dime cheaper, per gallon, than the national average price of regular-grade 87-octane gasoline.

But price and efficiency are only the tip of the iceberg of CNG benefits. Natural gas also produces lower particulate emissions and lower levels of nitrous oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2) and non-methane organic gasses (NMOG) when compared with gasoline. And because CNG is so clean, potential wear and tear on an engine fueled by it is greatly reduced.

Those are the considerable upsides to CNG. There also are downsides. An important one is that there are fewer than 1,000 CNG refueling stations in the U.S., with fewer than half of them open to the public. Also, natural gas is less dense than gasoline. So a CNG engine will have approximately 10% less power than an equivalent gasoline engine. Also, a CNG vehicle’s fuel tank must be cylindrical, so it is more difficult to package than a gasoline tank, which can be shaped to conform to any available space.

We want to underscore the fact that the CNG Camry Hybrid is just a concept vehicle. This concept vehicle is a statement that we intend to include CNG in our diverse portfolio of future alternative-fuel R&D. Our purpose in building it as a concept is to demonstrate the efficiency and adaptability of Hybrid Synergy Drive, and to demonstrate that we continue to work with a variety of powertrain concepts to ensure that we have products that meet the current and future needs of our customers on a global basis. We think you’ll find the CNG Camry Hybrid interesting. So if you’re visiting the LA show, feel free to drop by and take a look.

GM must be allowed to fail. Bankruptcy is the best, most efficient way to re-organize this company. Their management is living in a make believe world, much like the French monarchy in 1788. Their private jets parked in DC speak volumes louder than their testimony before congress. I say OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! On this, Mitt Romney and I agree.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nic passes the Morning Becomes Eclectic torch to Jason Bentley


Congratulations Jason Bentley. We'll miss you Nic.

From KCRW:
With a passion for music and culture, host Jason Bentley diligently serves up the hypnotic pulse of modern city life and club culture.

How to Address the American Automotive Industry Crisis


Let's face it, we're gonna have to do something about the mess this guy got himself into, but let's do it smartly. From everything I read and hear, this is the best way to address Detroit's failure to provide products that Americans want to buy.


How to Address the American Automotive Industry Crisis


1. Perform an assessment of global auto industry financial landscape with the goal of creating a level playing field. Some auto companies outside the US already receive government support in various ways. Germany is a part owner of Volkswagen. Japan invests heavily in battery technology research that has directly benefitted Toyota. Our government ought to do a similar job supporting our auto industry, but not exceed what I'd call a "global average auto industry subsidy." Let's figure out what that average is and give Detroit the same support.

2. Provide tax incentives to promote the roll out of hybrid and non-carbon based transportation vehichles. Give hefty tax breaks for buyers of full electric cars, lesser tax breaks for buyers of hybrid cars, no tax breaks for buyers of traditional gas powered cars, and hefty tax penaltys for buyers of gas guzzelers. Spend the tax money on investments in new energy technology, creating high paying jobs!

3. Do away with the fleet fuel economy standards and apply a gas tax to spur consumers to choose fuel efficient cars. Rather than mandating that Detroit sell a fleet of vehicles with some minimum average fuel economy, instead apply a gasoline tax that will encourage consumers to buy fuel efficient vehicles. This does away with the loopholes that allow 8 mpg SUVs to fill our streets. Rubbish! No More! Spend the tax money on investments in new energy technology, creating high paying jobs!
4. Any car company that accepts US Taxpayer Funds can no longer lobby or sue government agencies.

Friday, November 14, 2008

eBay doesn't want my business


eBay continues to suspect that I might be a peddler of counterfeit goods, and insists that I only list one branded item every month or so, depending on their mood. Since their process for deciding who is restricted or what level of restriction is placed on a given account is secret, we're all left to guess what our limits are, or if Terri (Office of President of eBay, my pal) is to be believed, we should "test" our limits from time to time to guess what they are. I thought I had garnered enough positive feedback, and I was ready to suck up to the Borg and try my luck. Here goes...

Dear Ms. eBay,

Thank you for choosing my account for special restrictions on branded items. Without knowing the qualification requirements, since they are a closely guarded secret, I believe that I would qualify to have those secret restrictions raised based on the fact that I have built a long-standing and consistent positive history of selling such items. I believe I may be eligible to have these limits raised and would like Ms. eBay to review my limits.

Best,

69fasty

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My letter to Senator Barbara Boxer regarding the upcoming transportation bill


I got an alert from the LACBC today that pointed to the Rails to Trails initiative. Their goal is:

to build on the success of the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program in SAFETEA-LU. The goal: empowering dozens of communities to each advocate for $50 million in federal funds to make focused investments in infrastructure and programs to shift automobile trips to walking and biking. The campaign aims to double the federal investment in active transportation in the next reauthorization.

I wanted to make sure my senator, Barbara Boxer, was aware of my position on this incredible opportunity to make good on the potential of bicycle transportation infrastructure investment. Here's my letter. I encourage everyone to take action and contact their senators today.



Honorable Senator:

I wish to let you know how important it is to me that the next federal transportation bill creates walkable and bikeable communities. I am a cyclist here in Pacific Palisades and greater Los Angeles. I find it appalling that there is not a greater emphasis on non-car transportation, specifically bicycle transportation corridors throughout Los Angeles. Transportation studies consistently show that the majority of trips are 3 miles or less, well within the ability of bicycles if safe bicycle transportation corridors existed. I believe that it is imperative for my city and state's future to embrace bicycling as a viable and relevant transportation option. I encourage you to look at the success of cities like Portland Oregon or Copenhagen Denmark to see how the quality of life improves when government invests in bicycle infrastructure. Less congestion, cleaner air, reduced dependency on foreign oil, healthier americans, lower health care costs are a few of the benefits of investing in bicycle infrastructure. I totally support the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's 2010 Campaign for Active Transportation to provide communities across the country with $50 million each to invest in biking and walking that will clean our air, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve public health, reduce congestion and improve quality of life.

Your Pal,

Alex

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Paper Mag 24hr Store Sunset Blvd.

Last night, Heather and I rode the scooter to our old 'hood at Sunset and Larrabee to visit Paper Mag's 24 hour popup store. It closes today at 6pm. There's bands playing and cool stores selling cozy items.




Friday, November 7, 2008

Madonna at Dodger Stadium









Amazing concert.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Protect Marriage - Let's Have a Consitutional Ban on Divorce!





The real threat to the institution of marriage comes not from inclusiveness
in the tradition, but from the possibility of divorce. Let's protect marriage by
making it illegal to divorce. Come on! You made those vows "till death do us
part." If you're allowed to just end it when you feel like it, that cheapens the
vows for everyone else. It makes marriage a sham. Let's protect the sanctity of
marriage. End divorce for all straight couples now!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

538's Final Prediction is out


FiveThirtyEight has predicted Obama with 348.6 electoral votes. Let's see how close he got tonight!

Vote Today

You can vote today.

Biodiesel from a fungus?



If we needed another reason to save the rainforest, along comes Dr. Gary Strobel who discovered a fungus that produces diesel hydrocarbons readily. From physorg.com...

"This is the only organism that has ever been shown to produce such an important combination of fuel substances," said Professor Gary Strobel from Montana State University. "The fungus can even make these diesel compounds from cellulose, which would make it a better source of biofuel than anything we use at the moment."

The fungus, which has been named Gliocladium roseum, produces a number of different molecules made of hydrogen and carbon that are found in diesel. Because of this, the fuel it produces is called "myco-diesel".

"Gliocladium roseum lives inside the Ulmo tree in the Patagonian rainforest. We were trying to discover totally novel fungi in this tree by exposing its tissues to the volatile antibiotics of the fungus Muscodor albus. Quite unexpectedly, G. roseum grew in the presence of these gases when almost all other fungi were killed. It was also making volatile antibiotics. Then when we examined the gas composition of G. roseum, we were totally surprised to learn that it was making a plethora of hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon derivatives. The results were totally unexpected and very exciting and almost every hair on my arms stood on end!"

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sunday Part 2, Amir's Garden, Malo & Scoops


As if a sunrise hike in Rustic Canyon was not enough, Heather and I took Sasha to Griffith Park to visit Amir's Garden.
A little rain does wonders for visibility.

Sasha and I pondered what's in store for this cleared area of Griffith Park.

Sentinels of the Fires

No visit to L.A. is complete without a taste of Malo's Burnt Habanero and Cream Salsa...

followed by a sampling of Tai's latest creations at Scoops!

My favorite store in L.A. The Bicycle Kitchen needs to expand! There's a line out the door on Sunday afternoon. My spokes need some love!

LACC's Shadow Exhibition

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Rustic Canyon, 7am November 2, 2008



















A quick downpour followed by a light drizzle set the stage for our hike this morning at Rustic Canyon / Camp Josepho. I have not been there in years, and it was great to see how beautiful it is on a rainy morning. It also smelled amazing!