Saturday, July 30, 2011

Los Angeles Critical Mass July 2011

Last night was the last friday of July in the year 2011, which is why a thousand plus riders gathered to celebrate their right to exist as traffic on the streets of Los Angeles. I missed the start as I was helping a fellow rider repair a flat tire,


but it didn't matter. I could easily find the ride by looking into the sky and seeing a police helicopter hovering over Western and Olympic.



I rode fast thru the pack so that I could get to the front and shoot a static shot of the entire ride passing by.

Needless to say, Critical Mass was a very visible addition to the regular goings on about town last night.


People came out of their homes to marvel at the sight.


Tigger was a favorite with the children.


Some cyclists were spooked by the rollerblader


This is the normal operating procedure for this fellow


and his friend


This fellow had the coolest bike of the night, and he was riding fast!


A Unicyclist was assisting newer riders as part of the recently formed Critical Mass Support Team


LAPD and cyclists have joined forces to ensure the ride is safe and fun for cyclists of every ability.


Riding thru downtown, we came across an NYPD police cruiser, which can only mean 1 thing, we just rode 3000 miles


or a TV show was being filmed. Looks of joy from the crew ensued.


No ride is complete without a sound system


which I caught up to right at the entrance to the tunnel

On we rode to Mariachi Plaza for a rest stop with snacks for hungry riders


including ice cream for yours truly


a few minutes to take in the scenery



and off we rode back into downtown




I forget what happened next, but we ended up in Macarthur Park


and waited and waited. Finally the ride seemed to fizzle out (perhaps by design LAPD?)


While riders called it a night and dispersed, a small group continued to Hollywood.




Where we saw police engaged in non bike riding duties



Friday, July 29, 2011

Pissed Off Fridays!

Verizon provides telephone service to my parent's house. Recently my dad tried to remove a high speed internet line and downgrade to a regular DSL line. You would think a quick call to Verizon customer service would be all that's necessary to accomplish a simple feat such as this.....

Happy Customers! Yay!

50 hours of customer service calls later, Dad tells me this morning that they are finally getting the high speed internet line removed, but that they will have to lose their home phone number of 30+ years! This is the phone number that I grew up with. It's a number that gives me security and peace of mind. I know the tones that each number makes as if it is a song that I've been singing my whole life.

And now this number will be lost to my family forever because Verizon cannot provide the most basic of services in a timely manner.

Thanks Verizon! You're awesome, Great Job!

I thought the company bosses should know firsthand what a great job they've done, so I checked with Consumerist to find their email addresses and wrote them a thank you letter. Wanna see?

Date: Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 2:00 PM
Subject: Unacceptable Customer (Non)Service
Cc: Dad

Good Day,

It is only out of complete and utter frustration that I have resorted to contacting you directly.

My father has spent over 50 hours speaking with various customer support reps at your company to perform what to my ears should be a simple task: remove a high speed internet line and replace it with a regular home DSL line. Well, after those 50 hours, it's finally happening. But, he was just told that in order to complete the removal of the line, he will have to give up his home phone number of 30 plus years. It is beyond my comprehension that

A. This took 50 hours to accomplish

B. He must lose his home phone number of 30+ years

How on God's Good Earth does your company manage to fail my father so perfectly and precisely, fitting the worst possible image of a corporation that cares nothing about it's customers?

Should you have any sense of decency at all, you will immediately call my dad (310-459-****) and apologize for your ineptitude, ensure that my parents keep their home phone number, and perhaps offer him 50 hours of foot massages to settle your debt to him.


The Engaged Observer

Friday, July 22, 2011

Give Thanks Where Thanks Is Due


The Wolfpack reminded me that there are some people that need to be thanked for standing up for cyclists rights. You might do the same!


Subject: On Behalf of all Los Angeles Cyclists, Thank You!

Dear Councilmembers and Mayor Villaraigosa,

On the day you passed the Cyclist Anti-Harassment Ordinance, I was riding my bike on Crescent Heights at 6th Street. I was the victim of harassment by a DOCTOR in blue scrubs who honked at me, then jumped out of his white Mercedes 550 SL screaming at me and threatening me with clenched fists. I asked if he was having an emergency or needed assistance.


Thankfully, this diffused his rage enough that he decided to get back in his car and drive away. Unfortunately, I was unable to get his license plate or I would have been proud to be the first cyclist to make use of this ordinance!


I am grateful that this ordinance will hopefully deter this angry driver from harassing any other cyclists in the future. Thank You Councilman Rosendahl for your leadership to protect cyclists and thank you to the whole council for unanimously passing this important ordinance!

Your 2 Wheeled Constituent,

The Engaged Observer

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Passage of a Few People Through a Rather Brief Moment in Time


I know, it sounds like the title to a science fiction short story in the New Yorker, but this is a bike ride that explores the nooks, crannies and less traveled paths of Los Angeles. From their website:

One or more persons during a certain period drop their usual motives for movement and action, their relations, their work and leisure activities, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.

It's a bike ride.

Organized by The Royal Academy and Nathan Snider.

It meets every Wednesday at 8:30pm at California Donuts #21,
at the corner of 3rd & New Hampshire, in Los Angeles, CA.
We ride at 9pm.
We endeavor to return before the last red line trains
(around midnight).

Last night, Michael and I rode the Passage Ride from K-Town to South LA to Hawthorne to Manhattan Beach to El Segundo back to South LA and then K-Town.


In all, about 4 hours of riding totaling 40 miles, give or take a mile.



The ride organizers do a great job selecting routes that are interesting and fun to ride.


I was especially impressed with the use of freshly resurfaced residential streets that were still smooth and free of potholes.


Plus there's a sound system playing everything from Bill Monroe to the Muppets, quite a departure from the soundtrack of my spin class!


We also rode thru a couple parks, climbed a stair case a la cyclocross and rode down a walk street to the Manhattan Beach Pier.


If all you know about group rides is Critical Mass, and you're eager to explore a bit more than the major arteries of L.A., I highly recommend trying out the Passage Ride.


You're guaranteed to see parts of the city you've never seen, or see them in a new light, and this is coming from a native Angeleno.



Also, did I mention there's piping hot victory donuts at the end?



Ride On!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Carmageddon: Ground Zero


I woke up today expecting all hell to break loose due to Carmageddon. Then, nothing happened. The streets were empty, people actually listened and stayed away, stayed home and stayed out of their cars. Traffic was non-existent. That made my bike ride up to Mulholland and Sepulveda all the more enjoyable. What I found was equal parts amazing and boring at the same time. A bridge was being demolished and a (very wide) road was closed. Dozens of reporters were hanging out, along with a handful of residents who came to see the spectacle with their own eyes. Want to see what a billion dollars looks like?