Apr 11

Taking in CicLAvia

There are times when an idea is good. There are times when the implementation of that idea is excellent. CicLAvia falls into the latter category. To make it even better, the weather in Los Angeles was perfect for a bike ride through the city.

On Sunday, I packed up the kids and we went over to Hollenbeck Park to see one of the end-points of CicLAvia. We’ve visited the park before and enjoy it immensely. There is rarely more than 50 or so people around the park, so it was even more amazing to see hundreds of Angelenos congregating at the northern end of the park with their bikes, scooters, skateboards and feet.

LA Cyclists

According to their site:

Ciclovías started in Bogotá, Colombia, over thirty years ago as a response to the congestion and pollution of city streets. Now they happen throughout Latin America and the United States, connecting communities and giving people a break from the stress of car traffic. The health benefits are immense. Ciclovías bring families outside of their homes to enjoy the streets, our largest public space.

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Apr 11

Stopping to smell the roses…

I have a habit of being nosy. I also have a habit of putting off somethings. Everyday, I drive by a building with a scarecrow painted on the wall. I love the look of it, and sometimes hope for a little back up in traffic, so I can look at it longer. For the past 4 years, every time I drive past the wall I think, “I really should take some photos of that.” One day…

This morning, I was going to drive over near Chinatown to take pictures of graffiti under a bridge. I’ve been meaning to shoot that one almost 6 years. On my way, I decided to go past my scarecrow. Then decided to get out of the car and snap off a few pictures. I stood there, looking at this building, and saw something I had never noticed from the car: the entire building was covered in graffiti. Not only that, but the one building was actually two buildings.


I’m nosy…remember.

I did a u-turn to find the entrance to the compound. I knew that sometimes these places are locked up tight and often, even when I’m shooting them for work, I get hassled. Today, I got doubly lucky. The people inside the business were more than happy to allow me to shoot the art on the walls. They told me that the artists come in and ask if they can grab a spot. The building owner is aware of the artwork on the walls. This makes for a very wonderful relationship between all three groups.

The work inside the compound is amazing, even more impressive than just the scarecrow. If you visit El Sereno and have a chance to see these in person, I highly suggest you do so. Otherwise, you can look at what I shot, today. There are a lot more pieces on the wall, but I think this is a nice sample.

And no…I never did make it over to Chinatown. One day…

Mar 11

Saving our Teachers

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10:  Teachers who ille...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Things are dire in LAUSD and being a parent at a lower-income school, it’s even worse. Six highly trained and credentialed teachers were given pink slips. In a world of budget cuts and people losing their jobs, this may be ho-hum to most, but these 6 are extraordinary individuals. Our school has a great Dual Language Program (Spanish) and one of the teachers who received an RIF (Reduction in Force) was the one who started the program at the school. In fact, three of the teachers who were notified teach in the Dual Language Program. Our school is also, along with the middle and high school, in it’s preliminary years of becoming an International Baccalaureate (IB) school. Over the past 2 years, all 6 of these teachers have gone through the IB training to ensure the goals of the program are being followed.

With the District proposing an increase in class sizes (We currently have 1:20 in grades K-3, the District wants 1:29), this means that in addition to losing the 6 teachers, the school will have to buy 7 more teachers who may or may not be qualified to replace the lost teachers. As it stands, LAUSD does not have any extra teachers who have already gone through IB training and often, teachers who are credentialed to teach Dual Language, aren’t necessarily interested in doing so. The lack of trained IB instructors puts the schools upcoming approval in jeopardy.

The best thing, is that the school is being proactive about keeping these teachers. For our students and for the approval of becoming an IB school, it’s paramount that these teachers remain. On Tuesday, signs were posted alerting parents to what was happening and six chairs are outside, so that students can write words of support or their names on the paper provided. Next Thursday, the school is holding an emergency meeting to inform parents and the community what is happening. I hope more parents show up and more write letters to the District urging them to retain these teachers for next year, no matter the final budget outcome. We need these teachers!

Mar 11


Remember my last post back in August 2010 about the cover of Women’s Running Magazine? I did wind up canceling that subscription and oddly, my Runner’s World subscription stopped coming to me at the same time.  That was no skin off my nose, as I wasn’t interested in reading it anyway.

Or so I thought.

I found that a lot of my motivation to run, to try new trails wasn’t because I enjoy it (I don’t), it was because Runner’s World magazine offered me helpful tips on many things, that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. Sure, I could go to the website and find articles, but the problem is two-fold: 1) I’d wind up searching for the same items or 2) I find myself getting bored with technical speak or stories on athletes, I don’t care about.

When I signed up for last month’s Firecracker race, I got a subscription to Runner’s World.  Last Friday, I received my first copy and…

April 2011 Runner's World

When I saw it, I just laughed, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Mar 11

The neglected blog

Remember when I used to write? When each new discovery and test and general silliness was posted here? Lots of things have happened that made me stop updating this site, in general, but I think I’m ready again. To be sure, I never stopped writing. There are 117 drafts–spanning between August 2009 and last Friday–are mocking me. And guess what? I’m going to delete them all. It’s time for a new start and to refocus on what I like.

Aug 10

Black Women Run, Too

I recently received the Sept/Oct 2010 Women’s Running magazine and there’s a strong chance I may cancel the subscription. The magazine itself has some almost-useful-to-me information, but each time it comes in the mail, I’m reminded that the magazine is really not geared to me as a black female.

Women's Running magazine

Women's Running magazine

Just a glance at recent covers can tell you that. In the two years this magazine has been coming to my house, I don’t ever remember a woman of color on the front of the magazine. Inside the magazine, not one of the articles features a woman of color. Three ads contain a woman of color: One Latina near the beginning of the magazine, then on page 76 (this issue is 80 pages) in the lower left corner and again on the back of the magazine. The only time you see females of color accompanying an article is when they are children. Of course! It’s so uplifting to see young black and brown girls interested in fitness. *eyeroll*

Of course, this is nothing new. Women of color are be used to the dearth of useful information in magazines geared to (white) women It does not seem to matter how much of a rock star plumber, engineer, chef, or accountant they are. Self, Shape, Women’s Fitness, Prevention, and Fitness Magazine have never pretended to cater to me. That’s why I will never subscribe or read these magazines. But when I saw “Women’s Running” (previously Her Running), I had wrongly assumed that meant all women. If anything, this is extremely clear in the beauty sections, which mainly focus on products geared to those with fair skin and non-kinky hair. In other words, I’m not going to hold my breath expecting an article on which hair care products are best for black women who swim. Which is okay. I don’t need Women’s Running to change to fit me.

I think what astounds me most, is that when you consider the make up of the US Woman’s Track & Field team, it is mostly black women. I do not recall seeing them interviewed in this magazine. However, I do see many interviews from past white Olympians, including those who have never won a medal. When I go running in my neighborhood the young Latinas and older Asian women put rest to the belief that only white women run. When I join a race and see so many black women of various ages, I refuse to believe the image these magazines give me. There is a reason that I follow @blackgirlsrun on Twitter.

Sadly, there’s not many options for me out there. Heart & Soul magazine has a very, very limited fitness section. I used to subscribe to this magazine for years, but figured it was time to let go when I only wanted to read one article from it. Instead, I’ll continue what I’ve been doing; sending out tweets and blog posts asking black female athletes for tips. Word of mouth is strong among black women. We have that going for us.

Hopefully, I’ll learn of a useful-to-me magazine.

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Jul 10

So you want to grow your own food (Part 2)

Your soil is prepped and you have a rough sketch of your water needs, as mentioned in Part 1, but now it’s time for the best part: picking your plants.

Choosing Your Plants

Find Your Zone

I love growing vegetables, even the ones I won’t particularly eat. I often grow extra produce so that I can trade with neighbors or use in my compost pile. Most people start off with tomatoes. Tomatoes are easy to grow and aren’t too tempermental. Best of all, they only need minimum watering. If you live in Southern California, you can actually grow some tomatoes year round if you let them go to seed. Ideally though, they need warm weather to get sweet and ripe.

Depending on your growing zone, you may be able to grow many different kinds of plants. For example, I’m in Sunset Zones 19, 20, 21. I would love to grow apples or pears for eating, but it will be a toss up as to if I’d get fruit at all. Sunset  Zone 22 can grow edible pomes.

You’ll notice that I listed 3 zones above. That’s because my tiny backyard ans 3 different microclimates. In fact, even the temperature will vary 3 -5 degrees depending on location. Some areas are in full sun year round. Others get only 3 – 5 hours of sun during the summer months and are in shade the rest of the year. I highly suggest checking out Sunset’s Western Garden book for Southern California gardeners.

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Jul 10

So you want to grow your own food (Part 1)

Recently, I’ve been asked about how to grow food at home. This is something I get rather excited about, not only because I love gardening, but I love seeing people talk about how they use the food they grow in their meals. Let’s face it, this economy has us all re-evaluating out food choices. When you go to a large grocers and see sad produce at exorbitant prices, it gives you pause.

I hope to be able to get you started on growing your own food, but this is especially geared toward people who live in the city. I grew up in the suburbs. We also had herbs growing in pots and grew a few vegetables, but most of our plants were indoors. When I moved to Hollywood in ’98, we lived in a courtyard apartment. The courtyard was very shaded and cool. Had I wanted to grow lettuce year round, I could have. Behind our apartment was a 6′ strip of concrete that was sunny year round. Trial and error taught me what I could grow and where. All of my produce and herbs were grown in pots and buckets. In 2006, we moved to El Sereno. I took my back yard from looking barren to a complete jungle in just a couple of years. (Side note: Those pots you see in the second photo are the same ones I used to grow veggies in, back in Hollywood.)

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Jul 10


Trust in friendships is a fickle thing. For some people, it’s easy to trust others. For people like myself, there’s a brick wall that needs to be torn down before trust can be established. In my case, that can take years. I may not develop a lot of friendships, but those I do have are very dear. I know that I can tell these people things without finding out later they’ve blabbed it to others. They also know that I’m fiercely loyal when it comes to such things, so they’ve nothing to worry about.

But the hardest part is always that first step, especially in an online environment where things you can type can be sent to just about anyone. I freely admit that I don’t put all of myself out there. People get to see a lighter, more frivolous person. My friends, especially my close friends laugh, “No wonder everyone thinks you’re nice.” I have to explain to them why that wall is a little thicker, a little higher for people online.

A few days ago, my husband asked me if I had seen something someone posted. I told him, “Oh, I hid all of her stuff and removed her from following me.” He asked why, since she seemed so harmless to him. I then told him about all the times things were said to her in private messages, only to have her turn around and tell the other person or someone else you just happen to know. Do you know how awkward it is to have a friend from one social site tell you a story their friend told them and it’s the exact same thing from a different social site that was told to be kept underwraps? This is exactly why I’m a bit weary of DMs, IMs and Skype. The topic often turns to gossip, which I want no part of, even in face-to-face settings. This is why most of my IMs or DMs are with guys. They don’t gossip as often as the women who IM or DM me.

We all have friends that we can trust to a certain degree. The one friend you can trust to always make everything about herself. The one friend you can trust to have a shoulder to cry on. The one friend you can trust to always find some way to get into trouble. The one friend you can trust to know just what to say, but more importantly when to say it.

And even though that first step into a deeper friendship can be scary. Keeping that trust in someone can be hard. I know. That’s why I let friendships go. I’ve stopped trusting them and the wall was rebuilt. But it’s really great when you get there.

Jun 10

Activities That Take Less Time Than Registering for Swim Classes at Richard Alatorre Pool

There’s incompetence and then there’s mind blowing WTFness that makes you worry that the people in charge are capable driving, breeding and/or voting. Today’s experience registering for swim classes definitely fall into the latter. With only 36 families in front of us, what should have taken, at the most 10 minutes, took a little under 3 hours. Two hours and 51 minutes, to be exact.

How is such buffoonery possible? Well, first off, they would not pass out registration papers to us while we were standing on line. Considering some people were registering 3+ children, logic would dictate that making the registration forms available would have been the most efficient way to handle this. When I spoke to the woman handing out the forms, she said that she’s only handing out 10 at time so that she won’t get confused.


Her exact words were, “Well, whether you have them now or get them later, you still have to stand in line.” I said, “I get that, I just thought I’d spend my time effectively. I thought this would be…efficient.” She just looked at me.

As we got closer to the front, I overheard her talking to other parents. That’s when I learned that the line wasn’t just for swim classes, but also for people signing up for team sports or the Jr. Lifeguard program. Once again, logic dictates that separating us into 3 separate lines would be the best course of action. Especially since, I also learned that after you filled out the registration papers, you’d have to go stand on one of these lines anyway.

What it came down to was that I got to spend 2 hours in the sun, standing on line to get a piece of paper that I could complete. Once that was done, I was given the opportunity to stand on yet another line, to give that paper to someone else.

I can think of several ways this registration could have gone so much faster. Making the registration forms available online, would be awesome. Even better, would be to allow for online registration in the first place. The multiple line suggestion above would have worked wonders, too.

Then I started thinking about other things I could have done that wouldn’t have taken nearly as long:

  1. Getting a new license at the DMV. Hell, doing anything at the DMV.
  2. Standing on line for a ride at Disneyland.
  3. Getting a DBA.
  4. Filing for unemployment benefits.
  5. Going through airport security. Internationally.
  6. Finding parking in West Hollywood during Pride.
  7. Getting an outside table at Doughboys.
  8. Listening to a speech by Bill Clinton.
  9. Getting inside the Federal Building.
  10. Visiting an IRS office.
  11. Driving to San Diego, Palm Springs or Santa Barbara.
  12. A dinner cruise in Long Beach.
  13. Watching TWO soccer matches.

I could go on, but what it boils down to is that whoever was the mastermind of today’s events should be fired. Immediately. Or at the very least, someone with half a brain should be in charge of registration from here on out.