Monday, April 30, 2012

Walkin' in L.A. Part 2

We finished walking through the unique neighborhood next to the Hollywood Bowl, down the hill to the main street and through a park with the nicest restrooms this side of Disneyland (it helps that there is an equally nice L.A. County Sheriff's station in the park - why I have no idea since it is the city of Los Angeles) and on up the street to the Hollywood Bowl.  Sometimes visitors will be lucky enough to visit when a performer is doing rehearsals during the day and the Bowl is open and no charge - we only had workmen to see when we were there.  Lots of construction was going on that day.  The Missus has never let closed gates or keep out signs deter her and we went right in to look around.  We wanted to visit the (free) Hollywood Bowl museum but it seemed to be closed for Good Friday.  After we finished here it was back to the Escape for the next leg of the tour.
The view as we left the really cool neighborhood

The L.A. walkers reading about the history of the Hollywood Bowl.

The view of the Bowl; and this isn't from the cheap seats either!  It sure looks different in the daytime without a crowd.  The Missus and I have seen many great shows here over the years.

Young Son sitting in the very seat that he will occupy this Friday evening when he is here with his date to see Coldplay perform.  Can you find him?   The three guys sitting together are some of the workmen enjoying their lunch break.

The Missus at the stage.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Walkin' in L.A. Part 1

The song says no one walks in L.A. but the Grouch family decided to do a walking tour of some sections of Los Angeles on Good Friday.  It was a beautiful day and perfect weather for some walkin' in L.A.

We loaded up the Missus' trusty Escape hybrid and headed to a neighborhood near the Hollywood Bowl.  Since L.A. is 'green' these days we figured the hybrid would give us good cred with the greenies in the area.  We were following two walking tours laid out in a book that charts interesting walks through various neighborhoods in the city.  

We parked in an interesting neighborhood built on the side of one of the ridges near the bowl.  The houses were unique and screamed 'money' just looking at them

We're ready to start the walk.  Uphill. Very uphill.

Going up, up, up!

Every type of house can be found here.  What a view!

One of the goals of the walk:  the elevator tower for the residents.  In order to access the houses higher up on the ridge this elevator is available for them to use.   Them, not us.  We didn't get to ride in it.  Boo!

Pretty cool!
Love the houses, the foliage and the Jeep!  Someone has good taste here.

Off to the Hollywood bowl next!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Man vs. House

So, awhile ago young son was cleaning up the detritus left behind in older son's bedroom at Grouch estates after older son moved into his own place.  Young son was busily cleaning away and vacuuming (or 'sweeping' as we quaintly refer to it at G.E.) when he came to me to report that: 1. the vacuum cleaner (a.k.a. the 'sweeper') was making a really strange noise; and 2. it wasn't working worth a plugged Greek drachma.  My diagnosis was something was stuck in the brushes.   This lead to a full scale disassembly of the machine.  It is amazing how many parts there are in a vacuum cleaner these days!  In fact it is amazing that they manage to fit so much in such a small chassis.  It is so amazing that it took me two days to get everything back together and reassembled.  In the meantime I learned that the hose was clogged which when cleared, the machine worked just fine.   Lesson to self:  read and apply Occam's razor to all future home repairs.

So, a couple days later around midnight or so I realized I needed to empty the dishwasher before going to bed.  I opened the door and Lo! the machine was full of tepid water.  Rats.   I did the usual immediate action drill:  Turn it on again.  I heard the pump running but making a weak strangled sound.  Open the door.  Still full of tepid water.  Unplug the machine and plug it back in and try it again.  The poor pump sounded like something was caught in its throat but it couldn't pump out the water.  I started to roll up my sleeves to tackle the repair when the Missus rightly told me to go to bed as the dishwasher would still be full of water tomorrow when the sun would be up and so would I.  I agreed and decided to take the trash out to the trash can before going to bed.  I turned the door knob on the outside door and the mechanism went 'sproing' and pieces flew out of the door.  I couldn't believe it!   I went to bed.

The next morning I tackled the dishwasher.  First I had to bail out the water.  Once I got most of it out I needed to use the turkey baster to suck the rest of the water out.  I gave the rubber bulb a squeeze broke!   Great, three for three!  I managed to get the water out, disassembled the mechanism, pulled all sorts of yucky stuff out of the pump, filled it up with water still sounded strangled.  It wasn't draining.  So I disconnected the drain line and used a straightened paperclip to pull even more yucky stuff out of the drain line.  Put it all back together and...yes!  It worked!   Now to the hardware store for a new door knob and lock, install it and...yes!  it worked too!

I was beginning to feel like a real tool using primate with opposable thumbs when  the Missus informed me that the sweeper (a.k.a. the vacuum) wasn't really fixed after all.  The brushes only turned when the handle was almost horizontal to the ground meaning the user would have to be three feet tall or push the machine around from the kneeling position.  With extreme trepidation I removed the shell from the machine again and quickly determined that a crucial switch that turns the brushes off when the handle is vertical was out of its designated place.  I chastised it and sent it back to its niche and reassembled the infernal device and... yes, yes!  It worked for real this time!

So ended my saga of man vs. house, or perhaps more accurately, the revolt of the machines.  Watch out Skynet, watch out Colossus, you're next on my list of things to fix!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Snow Business

So I thought that my friends were too Southern California; you know, sun, surf, palm trees, roller blading along the beach...the whole SoCal thing.  When I heard it was snowing in the mountains I decided we needed to combine a shooting trip with a snow trip.  What a great idea!

Saturday morning at Grouch estates it was about 48F and partly cloudy but 35 minutes later and 3,500 feet higher it was in the high 20s, foggy, snowing like mad and blowing like a banshee.  Great shooting weather!

We drove up to the valley were we shoot in the spring and summer. This time 6" of snow covered the valley.   We set up, shot for an hour or so, got cold, had a great time, got everything snow covered and wet, decided to go home.  Just as we packed up the sun came out, the snow stopped the temperature went up and the mountains tried to lure us into staying for the rest of the day.  But, we had guns to clean and gear to dry so we headed on home.  Another successful trip!

Setting up the targets, the watermelons, and the jugs with blue and green water in them.

Getting set up to shoot in the snow.  The well prepared stayed warm!

That is a lot of snow!

Ready on the left?  Ready on the Right?  The line is ready....

Monday, April 16, 2012

Nostalgia so strong it almost hurts

I guess my advancing age is causing my brain to do weird things and dredge up old memories that have been long submerged.   Tonight I suddenly was transported to Ft. Lauderdale circa early 60s to a hot and humid July evening.  My family and grandparents had just dined at Patricia Murphy's, a swank restaurant at the Bahia Mahr marina.  Murphy's had a wonderful garden surrounding the building with tropical plants that a small boy could wander through on the paths that wound through the grounds.  A dock was nearby where a party boat would pick up passengers for a cruise on the intercoastal waterway.  I was standing by the water as the boat churned by, lit with colored Japanese lanterns and crowded with revelers laughing and having a great time.   As they passed by some couples on the deck shouted over to me "we'll be back!"  I remember at that moment I wanted to be on that boat more than anything in the world.  My father was standing beside me and said that they must have thought we were waiting to go for a ride.  I knew that I was.  I saw that boat disappear into the darkness, still with the sounds of the laughing and music.  It was magic to a little boy.   I can remember it like it was yesterday.

Does this mean I'm getting old when the past is almost as real as today?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from the Grouch family!  It was an absolutely gorgeous day in sunny Southern California and the Grouch family gathered to celebrate the day minus Oldest Daughter and little ladybug but they were in our thoughts.
The extended Grouch family dog pack was present for the day's events, all six of them!
It was a nice breezy day for  taking Easter pictures.  The Missus goes for the cover shot for a glamour magazine!
The Grouch family after church minus Older Son, who headed back home after Mass to relax before returning for dinner

Young Son shows his appreciation for the Easter Bunny's basket of candy

Young Daughter can't wait to bite the ears off of the chocolate bunny!
Oldest  Daughter  with little ladybug taken on Easter and sent by the modern miracle of technology direct to us on this day.  Wish they had been with us in person!

A Pail of Air

One of my favorite science fiction short stories is "A Pail of Air" by Fritz Lieber.  Who knew that:

1. It was done as a radio play on NBC's "X Minus 1"
2. It is available on the internet!

So, for your listening pleasure, here it is:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Puppy pics

More puppy pics for the Kerby fans.  She has made herself part of the dog pack at the Grouch estates whether the other two wanted her to be a member or not.  They've given up, knowing the resistance is futile, and tolerate her now.   Kerby likes to use the other two as furniture when resting.

Roscoe makes a very handy chin rest

Just how close can Kerby get to Molly?  How much more comfortable can one puppy be?


In an incredibly self-serving experiment to see how much one word  'Brony' can effect traffic to my blog, I am posting a picture of the billboard for the 'My Little Pony' cartoon series as seen along the 101 freeway in Hollywood.  I must confess that I do not understand the grip that this series has on the teens of today, but so be it.  I guess it is better than being devoted to, say, 'South Park'.

Citizen Grouch recommends

Ok Grouch fans, it is time for one of my occasional book/movie reviews.  Yay!  

Those rich plutocrats out there (you know who you are, you one percenters, one and all) who have cable may have been watching a series called 'Game of Thrones" based on a book series by George R.R. Martin called the Song of Fire and Ice series.  By the way, all savvy novelists these days write book series, taking the story line out multiple books in order to keep their reading public buying the next book in line in order to see if some day the story will be wrapped up.  Anyway, this review is not about the Game of Thrones nor is it about the Song of Fire and Ice series so if that is what brought you here, sorry. 

Actually the book review part of this is about a book series, and it is a series by George R. R. Martin and it is quite good but the author being very savvy has stretched it over nine books!  It is the Camulod series and it describes life in post-Rome Britain and the rise of Arthur.  Camulod is what we know as Camelot and it begins as what today would be seen as a survivalist's retreat in the wilderness to defend against the collapse of society.  How cool is that?   It is a pretty realistic description of the politics and society of the Romans in Britain who have 'gone native' and allied with the Celts in order to defend against the marauding Picts, Scots, Danes, and other foreign tourists.  The one constant through book 6 has been Merlyn, the grandson of the co-founder founder of the retreat (a Roman CSM) and now the guardian of young Arthur, the...wait a minute, I can't tell any more  because it will spoil the story line! Let me just say that the story logically explains everything in the Camelot legend without resorting to magic.  The Lady in the Lake, the sword, Merlyn's 'magic powers' the round's all there and well done.  Fortunately for me the county library has had books 1 through 6.  As a small government guy I have to say that public libraries are one of the small number of services that should be funded for the public without hesitation.  A library is the depository of the world's knowledge and history and all at a person's beck and call just for a small portion of your property tax. This service is worth more than every penny it gets from us.

The movie review is for a kind-of related topic.  The movie?  The Eagle, a recent release that we saw on DVD last night.  We got the DVD from (wait for it) The Library!   Story line is about a young officer sent to a remote Roman fort in Britain (tie in to the book review) whose father was ordered to march the IX legion north, past Hadrian's wall into Indian territory.  They didn't come back and nothing was heard from them again.  Much like at a job when someone resigns to go work somewhere else and is blamed for everything that goes wrong after he's left, the father is blamed for the loss of the legion and the eagle standard (oh, so that's where the title comes from!).  The newly minted 2LT is determined to show his men that he has the right stuff.  The NCOs at the mess mutter that he is a loser and they're all going to die.  Once again I can't reveal any more but it is a pretty darn good movie with beautiful scenes of the Scottish highlands (and Hungary for some reason), drama, manly men with muscles, blood, mud, and redemption.   I rather enjoyed it!

See the links for more on both the books and the movie:

Be careful and don't read too far into this person's blog because he reveals the whole series!