Monday, December 24, 2012

Holidays Greetings

Smiley Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noël! Frohe Weihnachten! Честита Коледа! Schöni Fäschttäg! Buon Natale! Feliz Navidad! Smiley

Best of wishes to everyone for a safe and happy end to 2012 and a marvelous and healthy 2013!

For my fellow fans of one Vesselina Kasarova, the amazing Bulgarian operatic mezzo soprano, here is a little year end treat.

I don't know why this recording of Handel's Ariodante from the Liceu in Barcelona in 2006 hasn't been made commercially available yet. But here is a bit of it to give your holiday a dramatic stir.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Musing: Where Have All The Flowers Gone (or something like that)?

This shot was taken in spring, when the wild flowers were blooming all over town.

Those wild flowers are gone now, of course, though I wonder if the pavement still remembers the beautiful colorful little bee charmers that used to cast shadow on them early and late in the days.

Why would anyone want to live forever? It might be okay if one has really short memory and forgets everything soon enough that things always seem new and exciting. Somehow I doubt that that is part of the much longed for concept, though. People want to live long and remember everything. Something like a retentive slab of pavement. I suppose I'm odd in that I'd rather be the flighty wild flower. Long life is too boring for me.  Smiley

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday the 14th...

It's shaping up to be a rather horrible day... much less for me than for the parents and loved ones of those little kids and their teachers massacred by another gun toting youngster in yet another American school.

Not just another American school... Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Something to look forward to: Christiane Karg - Amoretti

Christiane Karg, the wonderful young German soprano, has a new CD out:

Mozart, Gluck & Gretry... How cool is that! Not only do I get to hear her sing some more, but I also get to hear rarely heard music from the period I really dig, too! A nice continuation from my first experience of her in the Salzburg Festival DVD of Mozart's Apollo et Hyacinthus.

That's another awesome bit of music that's not performed anywhere nearly as often enough at all... 

And to add icing on the cake, she actually granted me a cyber interview a few years ago.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Where is Smorg? (2)

I know, I know, there are many lakes around the city. But which lake features a local version of a Potemkin village on its south shore?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Classical Music and Theater (Ballet & Opera) Performances in San Diego, CA (November 2012 - February 2013)

14, 15, 16, 17, 18: Downtown (Civic Theater): Peter Pan. Cathy Rigby stars in the Emmy Award winning and Tony Award nominated Broadway musical.
 15: Downtown (Copley Hall): LJMS - Philharmonia Orchestra. Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra in Mahler's 9th symphony.
16: Pt Loma (All Souls' Episcopal Church): Maude Gratton organ recital.
16, 17, 18: Downtown (Copley Hall): San Diego Symphony - Beethoven's Pastoral. Christof Perick conducts the SDSO with Jeff Thayer (violin solo) in a program of Richard Strauss' Don Juan, Goldmark's violin concerto, and Beethoven's 6th symphony (Pastoral).
18: Downtown (Balboa Theater): Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. The Classics 4 Kids Philharmonic Orchestra and Malashock Dance perform a tribute to Victor Hartman to the music of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition.
18 (free): Downtown (Central Library): Public Library Concert Series - Camarada. Camarada performs music of Kummer, Devienne, Chaminade, Dutilleux, Piazzolla and Bloch.
Copley Symphony Hall from the balcony.

1: Banker's Hill (St Paul's Cathedral): San Diego Master Chorale - Handel's Messiah Sing-Along and Holiday Tea.
2 (2PM): Downtown (Copley Hall): San Diego Symphony - Big Business (1929) and Chaplin's Short Films: The Rink And The Pawn Shop. Russ Peck (organ).
2: Downtown (Balboa Theater): LJMS - The Romeros and Concerto Malaga. Handel's Messiah, Schubert's Ave Maria, Massimo Paris' Christmas Suite and Manuel de Falla's Villancicos.
7, 8: Downtown (Copley Hall): San Diego Symphony - John Williams in Concert. John Williams conducts the SDSO with Johannes Moser (cello) in a program of his cello concerto and greatest movie hits.
8 (free): Balboa Park (Museum of Art): Courtly Noyse - December Nights. Free with museum admission. Music of the Renaissance period.
8: Banker's Hill (St Paul's Cathedral): San Diego Master Chorale - Bach's Christmas Oratorio.
11: La Jolla (St. James by the Sea): El Mundo - Buon Natale y Felices Fiestas. Holiday program of Italian, Spanish and Latin American music of Legrenzi, Scarlatti, Kapsberger, Monteverdi, Castellanos, Duron, Ceruti and Cozzolani.
11: UCSD (Auditorium of TSRI): San Diego Symphony - Stravinsky, Mozart, Bach and More! Members of the SDSO's brass and winds sections perform famous chamber works by Gabrieli, Mozart, JS Bach and Stravinsky's Octet for Winds.
13: Downtown (Copley Hall): San Diego Symphony - L'Obsession Fantastique. Jahja Ling conducts the SDSO in Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, with Nuvi Mehta appearing as Francois Habeneck.
14: La Jolla (MCASD Sherwood Auditorium): LJMS - Yefim Bronfman in concert. Sonatas of Haydn, Brahms and Prokofiev.
14, 15, 16: Downtown (Copley Hall): San Diego Symphony - Symphonie Fantastique. Jahja Ling conducts the SDSO with Jeremy Denk (piano) in a program of Verdi's overture to La forza del destino, Mozart's 21st piano concerto, and Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique.
15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23: Downtown (Civic Theater): California Ballet - Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker.
21, 22, 23: Downtown (Copley Hall): San Diego Symphony - Holiday Pops: A Celtic Celebration. Matthew Garbutt conducts the SDSO, Eileen Ivers (celtic fiddle), the San Diego Master Chorale, San Diego Children's Choir in an evening of festive Irish holiday favorites.

1: Downtown (Copley Hall): The Strauss Symphony of America - New Year's Concert 2013 Salute to Vienna. Andreas Mitisek conducts the Strauss Symphony of America in Strauss' waltzes, polkas and operetta excerpts.
4, 5, 6: Downtown (Civic Theater): Rain - A Tribute to the Beatles.
8: UCSD (Auditorium of TSRI): Viviane and Nicole Hagner Perform Schubert. Viviane (violin) and Nicole (piano) Hagner and members of the SDSO perform music from Bartok's Rhapsody No. 1 and Schubert's Piano Trio No. 1.
11, 12, 13: Downtown (Copley Hall): San Diego Symphony - Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. Jahja Ling conducts the SDSO and Viviane Hagner (violin) in a program of Rossini's overture to La gazza ladra, Mendelssohn's violin concerto in E minor, and Nielsen's 5th Symphony.
12: La Jolla (MCASD Sherwood Auditorium): LJMS - Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Nicholas McGegan conducts the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in Corelli, Pergolesi, Vivaldi, Locatelli & Durante.
18, 19: Downtown (Copley Hall): San Diego Symphony - Broadway's Brian Stokes Mitchell. Randall Craig Fleischer conducts the SDSO and Brian Stokes Mitchell (vocals) in a program of Broadway favorites from Ragtime, Kiss Me Kate, and Man of La Mancha.
26: Downtown (Civic Theater): San Diego Opera - Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment. Yves Abel conducts L'ubica Vargicova, Stephen Costello, Donato DiStefano, Ewa Podles, Carol Vaness.
27: Downtown (Copley Hall): San Diego Symphony - The Magic of Mozart. Ken-David Masur conducts the SDSO in a program of the music of WA Mozart.
29: Downtown (Copley Hall): LJMS - The Joffrey Ballet.
29 : Downtown (Civic Theater): San Diego Opera - Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment. Yves Abel conducts L'ubica Vargicova, Stephen Costello, Donato DiStefano, Ewa Podles, Carol Vaness.
31: Downtown (Copley Hall): San Diego Symphony - The Magic of Scheherazade. Mei-Ann Chen conducts the SDSO in Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherazade.
Watching opera set change at San Diego Civic Theater

1, 3: Downtown (Civic Theater): San Diego Opera - Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment. Yves Abel conducts L'ubica Vargicova, Stephen Costello, Donato DiStefano, Ewa Podles, Carol Vaness.
7: Downtown (Copley Hall): San Diego Symphony - Gil Shaham In Recital. Gil Shaham (violin) and Akira Egushi (piano) in a program of Walton's violin sonata, Bach's partita no. 3, Beethoven's 9th violin sonata (Kreutzer), and Bolcom.
8, 9, 10: Downtown (Copley Hall): San Diego Symphony - Scheherazade. Mei-Ann Chen conducts the SDSO and Benjamin Jaber (horn) in a program of Price's Mississippi River Suite, R Strauss' 1st horn concerto, and Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade.
10: UCSD (The Auditorium of TSRI): LJMS - Benjamin Grosvenor in concert of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Scriabin, Granados, Strauss/Schulz-Evler.
13: Downtown (Copley Hall): Russian National Ballet Theatre - Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet.
14: Downtown (Copley Hall): Russian National Ballet Theatre - Prokofiev's Cinderella.
15: UCSD (The Auditorium of TSRI): Hopkinson Smith - German theobor. JS Bach's cello suites transcription for the theobor.
15: Downtown (Copley Hall): LJMS - BBC Concert Orchestra. Keith Lockhart conducts the BBC Concert Orchestra and Sophie Shao (cello) in a program of Britten's Sea Interludes (from Peter Grimes), Elgar's E minor cello concerto and Enigma Variations, and Butterworth's The Banks of Green Willow.
16: Downtown (Copley Hall): The Son of the Sheik. Russ Peck (organ). Silent film.
 16, 19, 22, 24: Downtown (Civic Theater): San Diego Opera - Saint-Saens' Samson et Dalila. Karen Keltner conducts Nadia Krasteva, Clifton Forbis, Tomas Tomasson, Gregory Reinhart. 24: Downtown (Copley Hall): Pipes and Drums of the Black Watch. The Black Watch and the Band of the Scots guards do British pomp and pageantry pieces.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A rat isn't racing anymore...

Well, I'm a bit disturbed, I guess. Went riding around a bit in the evening and was cruising through downtown when I rolled to a stop just behind a dying rat at an intersection (I think it was Broadway and 10th). It had just been hit by a car and was laying there, twitching and looking mightily uncomfortable.
No, I did not take any photo of the rat dying on the street...
I never quite realized how expressive rats can be. This one had a broken back and probably a few broken ribs that had collapsed his lung. He couldn't breathe very well and kept lifting his head up trying to get more comfortable and also looking mighty horrified at his situation. He was hit rather than ran over, so his body was all in one piece. Both he and I knew that that wouldn't last very long after the light turned green at the intersection, though. I would almost swear that he was very aware of how awful his last moment looked destined to be.

Don't mistake me for any saint, though. I think the scene disturbed me much because I had a bad crash while riding down Catalina Blvd earlier in the year.  I was riding with a track group and when a rider ahead of me hit road debris and went down, it started an icky chain reaction, so to speak. Luckily I didn't break any bone, though it took the ER surgeon much suturing to make me look presentable again. I was wearing a helmet, of course, and so only had a mild concussion and was able to quickly get off the ground after impact, and got safely off the road. I had a much milder crash back in 1993 when my hand slipped off my mountain bike's handlebar when I hit a speed bump while traveling at less than walking speed. I didn't have my helmet on that time, though, and had a much nastier concussion that practically pinned my head to the ground after impact. My eyes rolled back toward the back of my head, so I couldn't see anything. That was one of my most terrifying experiences - laying on the pavement downhill from a blind curve, conscious and aware but couldn't see anything (I couldn't tell which way I should roll to get off the road). It probably only lasted less than a couple of minutes, but it felt like forever. So... I could sort of feel what that rat must have been experiencing...

I wished he had been knocked out or had died on impact. I couldn't fix him, nor did I have any syringe of anesthetic hiding in my jacket pocket that could offer him some respite... I guess the best thing I could have done would have been to stomp on his head to end his suffering as quickly as possible... but I hadn't the stomach for such brutality just then. No matter how merciful it would have been. So, I copped out, in a way. I had some Kleenex on hand and managed to use that as glove to lift the poor rat off the pavement, deposited him on the dirt under the nearest tree on the sidewalk before getting back on my bike just a few seconds before the light turned green.

He never made any noise, though he was definitely still (barely) alive when I took off. He even looked at me. I don't know what the look said. Maybe it didn't say anything and he was spacing out by then. After all, there's a really good reason why you shouldn't move a trauma patient before stabilizing his head, neck and torso unless you absolutely have to. I hope that didn't hurt him too much.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

San Diego Views Quiz #2

So, for those familiar with San Diego. Do you recognize these places? Smiley
A. This is on a bench... where?

C. You've gotta know this one!

D. The tower.... not the kangaroo!

E. You also have got to know this one!

F. He is north of the city limit...

G. A popular spot especially during winter months.

H. These guys hang out by a famous house.

I. You can see landing planes from here.

J. Which popular tourists attraction have this in its HQ?

K. This monument is a bit obscure, I'm afraid. It's in the city.

L. A freebie for those who click on it for bigger pic...

M. I've got to learn to photoshop. This is too easy!
N. The view here is spectacular at sunset!

O. It costs you $5 to visit here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How to help those affected by hurricane Sandy

You've probably heard of Hurricane Sandy, that icky nasty supersized storm that hit the US northeast earlier today. 

HMS Bounty replica was no match for the giant hurricane (Photo: US Coast Guard)
If you'd like to help in the relief effort, please consider donating blood at the blood bank near you and perhaps a little money to any of these worthy aid organizations, too:   

American Red Cross: Operating emergency shelters, providing medical care, supplies and clean up supplies to emergency areas.

Americares: This organization distributes emergency medical and clean up supplies.

Humanist Crisis Response: Funds emergency rescue and medical operations.

The Salvation Army: Provides food and emergency shelters to those displaced by the storm.

Feeding America: Provides food to local food banks.

The Humane Society: Rescues and shelters displaced pets. 

You never know when a freak disaster might strike your town instead of others'. Let's pay it forward and spread some good karma around!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Guest Announcement: Rossini's La cambiale di matrimonio live streaming via

Sono Artists' management in Vienna, Austria, had came up with another delightful treat for opera fans this opera season: Free live streaming of opera performances from various Viennese theaters via platform. Below is the official press release.

Global audiences will soon be treated to free, full-length, world-class opera productions live from the home of classical music, the city of Vienna. launches next week and is the first internet platform in Austria to offer live-stream opera and classical music free to global audiences., founded by Samantha Farber, Managing Director of Vienna-based artist management company Sono Artists, has partnered with the Vienna Tourist Board and Theater an der Wien in the Vienna Chamber Opera (Kammeroper) to present the first in an ongoing series of live-streamed opera productions broadcast directly from prestigious Viennese venues and more intimate settings. “It’s fantastic and exciting to open the curtains and take opera in Vienna to the world. Opera has such a rich cultural and artistic history, and we’re taking advantage of new technology to allow people everywhere to participate as audience members,” said Samantha Farber.

The premiere of Rossini’s La cambiale di matrimonio at Vienna’s Kammeroper will be broadcast on Monday, 21 October at 7:30pm (GMT+2). The production features an exciting cast: the newly founded young ensemble (JET) of Theater an der Wien, an international cast of singers including Lithuanian bassbaritone Igor Bakan, American tenor Andrew Owens, Australian baritone Ben Connor, and Italian soprano Anna Maria Sarra and mezzosoprano Gaia Petrone. The production is conducted and directed by up-and coming young talents Konstantin Chudovsky and Jacopo Spirei. “Many people think of opera as a rarefied and slightly exclusive art form,” said sono artist Igor Bakan, who is performing the role of Tobia Mill in the Kammeroper production. “ will allow both avid fans and newcomers to experience the thrill of live opera, and I’m really excited about it.” 

Audiences can watch the premiere of Rossinis’s La cambiale di matrimonio on on 21 October at 7:30pm (GMT+2).

More information: Alexander Löffler,, +43 699 11700739

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

San Diego Symphony Does Respighi, Haydn and Tchaikovsky 2nd Piano Concerto (with Garrick Ohlsson) [12 Oct 2012]

It had been a long while since I last dropped in on the San Diego Symphony, but Garrick Ohlsson was in town last weekend to do Tchaikovsky's 2nd piano concerto. Since when can a smorg resist a temptation like that?
Copley Symphony Hall box office
I couldn't resist the concert line up, but plenty other people apparently could as the main orchestra level of the auditorium was only about 70% occupied on Friday. Not that that didn't have its upside. Many of us who started out in the cheaper section got quite an upgrade into better (more centrally located) seats after the intermission. I don't think the ushers minded it much.

The concert started off with Ottorino Respighi's Ancient Airs & Dances Suite# 1. This is a rather neat set of modern rearrangement of late Renaissance music by obscure composers (one of whom was Galileo Galilei's dad!). I had never heard the music before and therefore was much looking forward to a new experience. Alas, I seem forever at odds with maestro Jahja Ling when it comes to delivery of chromatically expressive music. The Raspighi sounded like it could be absolutely delightful - a masterpiece of impressionistic descriptive scenery. The music wants to jump out at you, but its enthusiasm was foiled by excessive restraint and regularity, so much so that it left me feeling left out in the cold. I can't fault the technically impeccable orchestra. The instrumentalists delivered all that was asked of them, alas, they weren't asked to musically live out Count Orlando's march into the village or dance the gaillard or the villanelle or the play out the risque masquerade. It was like listening to Ben Stein dead panning a spicy Italian play, every syllable sounded out with the same weight and rhythm as the others. It took much of the charm out of some of Respighi's best orchestration. After a while I found myself disengaging and starting to pay more attention to the violinists' trouser cut, the paintings on the auditorium walls, the bald spot on the back of an audience member's head, among other things, than to the music I had paid to hear!
'scuse me while I take a little well earned nap...
That said, the Respighi still came out alright compared to what became of Joseph Haydn's witty Bb major Symphony (No. 102). Perhaps opera-fan me demand more emotional commitment in musical performance than warranted. That is possible. But I think even the musicians knew something was really off from the really lukewarm applause they got at the end of what should have been a really infectiously fun symphony. I mean, we're talking about the Copley Hall symphony audience that regularly give rousing applause and standing ovations even to mediocre performances here. The applause they gave after the first half on Friday night was comparable to a no applause at other more demanding halls! I had never been so tempted to walk out in the middle of a performance. The fact that this is such a fine orchestra that can technically do anything made it worse. A spirited performance by a group that could barely cope with technical requirement would have fared better than an indifferent one by a perfectly capable band, I think. Ultimately I think my problem is more with the bandleader (conductor) than the band itself. It was his vision of the music that I had problem with. He is probably too nice and mild-tempered a guy all around while I long for a more volatile musician waving the baton on the podium.

I'm glad I stuck around for Garrick Ohlsson's playing of the not often heard Tchaikovsky's 2nd piano concerto (in G major), however. Mr Ohlsson's vision of the piece was a bit different from mine, but he was both technically splendid and emotionally committed that his conviction not only won the evening, it also resuscitated the orchestra! Suddenly the players started to accentuate their phrases and indulged in tasteful rubato that made the music seemed came alive from series of printed notes on the score. Special notice to concertmaster Jeff Thayer (violin) and Yao Zhao (cello) for their solos and duet/trio bits with the piano. The rousing audience reception at the end was a big contrast to the one at half time. So much so that we were all rewarded when Maestro Ling urged Mr Ohlsson into giving us an encore. A fleeting playing of Chopin's C# minor waltz (Op. 64 No. 2).
Jahja Ling urging Garrick Ohlsson on for an encore during the sustained round of applause at Copley Symphony Hall Friday night.
A good finish can make up for a lot of sins indeed. After the show Jahja Ling, Garrick Ohlsson sat down with Nuvi Mehta (the associate conductor here who does the pre-concert lecture. He had a bit of an off night Friday, but he is usually a delight to listen to) for a little informal talk with the audience. I stuck around for a while, but had to leave before it was over.

There are a few good symphony concerts coming up this winter season. I'm hoping to catch a few, but have to see how my schedule would accommodate them. If you feel like enjoying some symphonic evenings while in San Diego, check out for their performance schedule.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The cleaning up of doping in professional cycling finally commences (I hope)

USADA finally published its evidence in the Lance Armstrong doping conspiracy case yesterday. For many of us cycling fans, it was a long awaited major punch with a real potential to actually do away with the hideously moral-corrupting omerta that has ruled the sport for far too long. 

First off, my salutations and hats off to the likes of Paul Kimmage, Gilles Delion, Nicolas Aubier, Graeme Obree, Christophe Bassons, Scott Mercier, Andy Hampsten, Greg Lemond and other long suffering clean riders that I had never heard of because most of the fame and news coverage they might have earned were stolen from them by the dopers who, some more understandably than others, chose the ends over the means, results and personal gain over moral integrity. 

These guys did the right thing and had to suffer a lot for it for a long time. Most were shunned out of their beloved sport as 'traitors'. Even the successful ones like Greg Lemond; his business was quite destroyed when he voiced his suspicion about Armstrong's doping. I have been riding my bike 200 or more miles a week since the beginning of the year and have made it a point to never run any red light (well, I did run a red light during the Giro di San Diego last month, but only because I was caught in a fast moving peloton that seemed bent on running all the traffic lights along the way. It was a matter of either going with the flow thru that first red light before sneaking my way out of the group or hitting the brake and cause a hideous bunch crash right in the middle of the intersection. I chose the former). It infuriates me when I see other cyclist run a red light and when I hear people generalize all cyclists as 'red light runners'. I imagine it's the same thing (but on a more frustrating scale) for clean pro cyclists when they keep hearing people blithely say that 'oh, they are all dopers anyway, so the field was always level.'

And thanks to the ex-dopers who have reformed themselves and have came or are now coming forward to break the silence. I've read Paul Kimmage's Rough Ride and Tyler Hamilton's The Secret Race and realize that choosing to not dope would have been very costly, perhaps seemingly too costly for them to be a viable option (after all, I've been young once and know how young people often have a hard time looking at things very far into the future). I also understand why a lot of angry cycling fans are now calling for no leniency for those who confess and now tell of theirs and others' doping. I wonder how they (the angry fans calling for life time ban and stripping of all results and prize money and endorsement) think that such a thing would encourage the emergence of any more eyewitness to this doping problem... Real life isn't black and white. A lot of crimes would go unsolved if plea bargaining isn't an option.

With due respect to Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy, and other prominent cyclists who are wishing that we would now all just 'look forward rather than back' at this doping thingy because today's peloton is supposedly clean. I digress... Remember why Frank Schleck didn't finish the tour this year? Honestly. It hasn't even been a month since another pro cyclist, Steve Houanard, got busted with a positive test. I have no doubt that PED abuse is rampant in other sports as well, perhaps even worse than in cycling and that cycling is cleaner today than it was in the 1990's and 2000's, but my brain isn't yet quite addled enough to believe that cycling today is now free of doping problem! Frankly, I'm getting suspicious of people who are trying to get people to look away from this exposé just one day after it came out... Is that how people who really want the sport to get cleaned up would act?

On the other hand... no cheer at all to those who still choose to root for team Lance against the world, including all those triathlon event organizers who keep inviting Lance Armstrong, even after his USADA sanction, to compete in their event in order to reap financial gain from his publicity. I don't care if the money they get out of it is then used for worthy charity work. The message they are sending to young athletes and to their audience - we don't care if you cheat and lie and try to destroy anyone who call you out for it as long as you can make us a lot of money - is still ugly and the very antithesis of what a sport is supposed to instill in people. Winning or losing isn't what matter, but how one plays the game. The end doesn't justify the means.  

Related links:  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Meet my new girl friend....

Well, I have moved again, into another apartment within the San Diego city limit. It's a really good move! My new roommate is the walking model of courtesy and consideration. I'm still close to cycling routes... and there's a pretty lady next door who's been making it a point to ambush me as I come out of my door every morning and then hangs around to see me when I come home later in the day.
Here she is... the most affectionate lass I've met yet! I call her Casey, and she seems to respond to the name. Casey really likes to be petted by a cycling gloved hand. And when you really pet her well she'll return the favor and give your arms and legs some good and rough licking (I didn't realize that I'm so ticklish until she did a good number on my knee the first time we met). 

The other day she decided to check out my living quarter and slipped in as I took my bike inside. The living room was rather dimly lit and she just plain disappeared into the many black corners!
I finally found her after a few minutes, hiding in between the books under the coffee table. The cat is a reader. A keeper if there ever is one!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Info Wanted: A Driver Intentionally Hit and Ran Cyclists in San Diego (Balboa Park)

Looking for:
- Vehicle: Silver Lexus with CA partial tags '6DTG'.
- Driver: White male in his 50-60's.
Below is re-posted with permission. Please contact San Diego Police (incident#12090017542) or Bruce Shank at San Diego Cyclists FB group if you have any information about the case. This guy meant to cause others bodily harms and could have killed someone doing what he did.
San Diego Cyclists. Be on the lookout and share. Hit and run on the Laurel St Bridge in Balboa Park. Silver Lexus CA partial tags 6DTG. Cyclists are ok but let's find this driver. San Diego Police Incident #12090017542.
I was traveling west on the Laurel Street Bridge through Balboa Park. The speed limit on this road is 15mph as the bridge is narrow and runs through the park. I happened to look at my GPS and noticed I was traveling at 17mph. Still, several cars passed illegally on a double yellow line at high rate of speed for a narrow bridge in the park. As I approached a group of slower cyclists I moved further left into the lane taking the full lane as allowed by law to pass them, especially since I was traveling at the posted speed limit. As oncoming traffic began to impede the cars that were illegally passing one driver behind us blew his horn for the short remaining portion of the bridge to the stop sign.

At the stop sign the driver begin yelling at all of us to get our bikes out of the road. I said to him three times while he was yelling that the speed limit is only 15mph and cyclists have the right to use the full lane. The man continued to want to argue. Me and the other cyclists tried to let it go and proceeded through the stop sign. The car also pulled away from the stop sign (I was up front, this happened behind me) and according to many witnesses the car deliberately swerved to clip the cyclists. After he hit the cyclists the driver sped off at a high rate of speed continuing west on Laurel Street and appeared to turn left on 4th Ave.

The driver was a white male in his late 50s to maybe early 60s driving a Silver Lexus with California Plates. Witnesses were only able to get the first few digits of the plate "6DTG"

SDPD officers who took the report said they would turn the incident report over to their traffic division but warned it wouldn't be investigated because the only damage was to the bicycles which is personal property. According to the officers SDPD does not investigate hit & runs that only involve damage to personal property - there has to be personal injury for an investigation. Cyclists had scrapes on their knees and legs and complained about bruises on their arms so the SDPD eventually said that satisfied as personal injury.
I will be following up on this with the SDPD if I do not hear anything back within 5 days. This issue needs to be pressed as these types of motorists need to be pursued and charged to full extent. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Friday ride up Lake Wohlford, Mt Palomar (S6) & Cole Grade: Part 1 of 2

Last Friday I got up at 4:30am to catch the 5:55AM bus up to Escondido to pre-ride the hardest section of the Giro di San Diego gran fondo route next Sunday (had to stop to see to a neighbor's dogs before leaving, hence the early wake up time). Long bus rides to remote cycling routes is the price one has to pay for not having a car, I'm afraid. I'm lucky that there's a bus connecting San Diego to Escondido, though. I wouldn't be able to get up there for less than $10 otherwise!

I had planned on taking off from Del Lago bus station in south Escondido by 7:10AM, though my bus driver was so safe she refused to go faster than 50 mph on the freeway even though the speed limit was 65 or 75... so I didn't get to there until 7:45AM. Thirty five minute didn't seem like much... until a few hours later when the sun started its attempt to melt me into a mushy goo climbing up the big mountain in the heat of noon. At 7:45AM it was still cool enough for me to keep my arms and legs warmers on, though, as I rode up Del Lago Blvd to Beethoven St and spotted the bike path entrance on the north side of the road.

Bike path between Kit Carson Park & Beethoven St in Escondido.
On the left side was Kit Carson Park. Looked much like an ideal start/finish place for rides up in this part of San Diego. There were a few joggers and dog-walkers using the path. Pavement was pretty good, though lots of brush debris that may hide tire-puncturing goat heads.

Bike path along east side of Bear Valley Pkwy
Turning north on Bear Valley Parkway past the San Pasqual turn off (you'd turn right there to go to the Zoo Safari Park) another bike path appeared on the right (east) side of the road. An extremely ill-maintained one this time, though I had to use it since the main road has no shoulder and the cars
were in the hurry to get to work. There was a bit of gentle climbing up the Bear Hills. A good warm up stretch before the turn off to Lake Wohlford Rd.
Bear Valley/Valley Pkwy at Lake Wohlford Rd
The real hills began going ENE on Lake Wohlford Rd, with the narrow road shoulder that were prone to pebbles of various sizes, slid down from the cliffs above. Aside from a couple of semi-trucks that whipped by me in a shower of dust and the dreaded bike-sucking slipstream (I'm never keen on being vacuum-pulled up a hill behind a truck when there are other trucks coming up behind me!), it was a nice 2 miles long ascent on a moderately scenic and pleasantly curvy road. The gradient was pretty consistent at 5-6% until the bridge near the top of the climb.

Lake Wohlford Rd
Lake Wohlford
Lake Wohlford turned up on the right (east) side of the road, looking all cool and majestic, and well visited by hawks and water birds. Alas, the place is now only open on weekends. Beyond the lake were a few restaurants and shops. I didn't stop since I still had plenty of water and the sun was getting hotter all the time.
Watch out for those cow crossings. They're grated irons across the pavement... almost as bad as railroad tracks.
After the lake, I descended into Valley Center and its dairy farm scent. The sun was getting high in the sky and the temperature was on the way up. Turning right onto Valley Center Rd toward Rincon I rolled down the most scary bit of riding for the entire day when the narrow and ill-paved road hugs the hill to the left and drops right down to the valley floor.

Cars and trucks trying to speed past on my left, a huge vertical drop to my right, and the road surface under my tires that looked and felt like it had caught a particularly virulent strand of small pox. The bike bounced around so much that it was all I could do to hang on for dear life. By the time Valley Center Rd finally leveled out my arms and legs felt like they had caught the spell Gilderoy Lockhart used in his attempt to mend Harry’s broken arm in ‘Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets,’ – quivery and quite practically boneless.
View of the mountains to the east of Valley Center Rd (S6)
Naturally I didn’t manage to get a photo of that stretch of the road… As it was, my favorite water bottle bounced its way off to Lalaland some way down the grade without me even noticing. I only found out about it when I reached down for a drink to find a whole lot of nothing being held by the down tube bottle holder. Annoyed, I was, though I wasn’t all that concerned since up ahead was the big building that was Harrah’s Casino at Rincon, a gas station and a 7/11 store where I popped in and downed a 6 chocolate donut package and a bottle of Gatorade before re-emerging with a fresh bottle of Sprite to serve as my second ‘water’ bottle (along with using the restroom and re-filling the other water bottle with tap water, of course).

Water stops at Rincon
I wasn’t familiar with the area, so I decided to fill up at the first opportunity I saw… The 7/11 store was well stocked and has a really nice and clean restroom, though food price was a bit steep. Next time I ride in the area I would try the Rincon Market down the road instead. Don’t know if it is better, but at least I’d be supporting local business.
Jilberto's Taco Shop on Hwy 76 just east of Valley Ctr Rd, the traditional start of Mt Paloma climb.
Turning right onto Hwy 76 I spotted Jilberto’s Taco Shop on the left side of the road that usually marks the start of Mt Palomar climb for local cyclists (from this point on the road goes up at 6% grade and doesn’t level out any until a little stretch just before the turn off to South Grade Rd).

It’s 17 miles to the top of the mountain from here. It was also 11AM and the sun was flexing its muscles a bit and I was starting to appreciate every little bit of shades the road side trees threw my way. A mile or so up the road was the turn off to Cupid’s Castle; the daft resort castle that you could actually spot from the road if you looked for it, which I did if only to mark it as the ‘a mile or so back to the Valley Center Rd junction’ landmark for the way down.
Hwy 76 climbs on and on east toward Mt Palomar.
Turns on the road didn’t bring any relief in its gradient. After what seemed like miles a green sign finally appeared on the side of the road marking 2000 ft elevation. At what elevation did I start riding from this morning? I had no idea! I knew that the top of Palomar Mtn was a bit over 5000 ft, though. That meant I had 3000 vertical feet yet to climb. An icky thought when my legs were already starting to feel a bit worn.

Spinning the next-to-easiest gear on up the road as my supposedly sweat-proof sunscreen started to melt into my eyes. The road seemed to be endless! It was supposed to be only 10 or so miles to the junction… but 10 miles on a 6% incline slope tend to dilate time a bit. But just as I started to seriously wondered if I had missed the turn off to South Grade Rd somewhere in my myopic ‘climbing a bit of the road at a time’ mode, the road leveled out (and even dropped a little bit, just enough for a little recovery coasting) and the turn sign turned up on the side of the road.

To be honest, as happy as I was to finally turn onto the S6 (South Grade Rd) up the mountain, I was even happier to see that the Oak Knoll Campground at the base of the road had a store that sold cold drinks! I was hoping for fountain drink (so I could put ice in the bottles), but they only had bottled drinks… But they were cold, and there was even a chest of ice cream bars, too (now you know why it took me so long to complete the loop. I kept stopping to eat!)!
Oak Knoll Campground general store.
Loaded with 2 ½ bottles of drinks (1 ½ bottles of Gatorade and 1 bottle of water) – I would have taken 3 full bottles, but my light backpack was already feeling like the big globe on Atlas’ shoulders – I turned back up South Grade Rd and immediately started suffering. It didn’t help that every few minutes I would hear a motor roar from above and one or a pair of motorcyclists in full body armor would come flying out of the blind curve up ahead.
Here comes another pair of speedy motorbikes roaring down South Grade Rd.
You know how some people can’t stand the sound of paper squeak or metal on metal rubbing? I can’t stand the sound of revving motorcycle engine… especially the unmuffled Japanese-made ones.

I don’t know why they put down a mileage marker every .2 mile instead of every mile, but it was tremendously helpful in getting me up that twisty road of endless aggravation! I kept promising myself that I’d quit and turn around at the next marker… I got to, say, mile 42.4. It’s at the left-turning switchback, so from the up-lane bike lane I got to take the shallowest incline around and the ride wasn’t feeling so bad. Let’s get to the next marker instead. Got to 42.6, feeling like dropping dead, but there was the 3000 ft elevation marker up ahead. Let’s get to that!
This road sign wasn't talking to me...
Now there... why not get to 42.8? 42.8 was at an icky right-turning switchback where the bike lane goes up the steepest line of the turn… but it would be so unseemly to quit just short of completing another mile! No, go to 43 even and then I can turn back! Got to 43… well the gradient must have dropped half a degree since my legs weren’t feeling so dead. Maybe I’ll make it further yet… Mile 43.2 marker; oh gosh, this is awful. I’m not gonna make it! But how unesthetic! Quitting at .2 beyond a mile? Let’s at least get nearly to 43 ½…. You know the story. I actually don't remember where on the road all the markers are, but that was how it went... Had to keep breaking promises to myself the further I went.

By the 3000 ft elevation sign, though, the most aggravating thing about the climb manifested itself… Dive-bombing kamikaze flies that will crash land on your face in their attempt at eating it! It was past noon now (my original 'turn around time') and I had been sweating up a deluge. The evaporated sweat left salt on my face that the flies found irresistible, so they swarmed around my head like a pack of bees after the Pooh bear. I only managed to get rid of most of them by splashing precious drinking water on my face to wash the salt off every so often.
Palomar Artesian Springs on South Grade Rd. All dried up in Sept 2012.
They used to charge 25 cents per gallon, I suppose. None of the faucets are working now. All the levers were removed.
Anyone of you that have heard of the Palomar Artesian Springs a mile or so before the top of the climb can stop counting on it as a source of water refill while climbing this route up the mountain. The levers were removed from all the water faucets. The place still constitute a nice resting spot with its shaded rock wells... I sat there for five minutes or so feeling quite utterly depressed. I didn't know how far I had still to climb and there was now only 2 gulps' worth of water left in my bottles.

(This is getting epic. Part 2 coming up in a bit)