Hi, School!

First, let me clear something up: For the most part I wasn’t an awful person in high school; I was mostly just an awful student.

Second: These are stories as I remember them, not deep dive researched facts. I reserve the right to get things wrong, to leave things out, and to contradict myself. I contain multitudes.

I wasn’t supposed to go to El Camino Real High School; I lived in Canoga Park, and my house was in the borders for Canoga High. But I wanted to go to ECR because they had a better drama department, and I wanted to be an actor (with about the same level of realistic planning as a five year old has when they want to be an astronaut who fights fires, and is also a video game champion).

The problem: LAUSD requires you to have a reason to transfer, and in the days before charter schools “I MUST SHARE MY GIFT OF ACTING WITH THE WORLD” wasn’t a good enough reason. So my folks and I found another way: a gifted transfer. I used a dubious gifted test from elementary school as an excuse to get back into the gifted program, and that was only offered locally at ECR. After a year of skating through the gifted program I returned to regular classes, where I thrived (or just continued skating at the new, easier level).

The “become an actor” plan didn’t pan out, but I did meet Katherine at ECR, and that was better. If you’d like to know how that story goes, you can read my ancient short stories I wrote for an English class when I finally decided to properly go to college instead of skipping classes and hiding in bookstores. That’s right, even my wild college escapades were boring.

Three dollars per mile!

First, The Thanks and The Asking

People. PEOPLE. Thanks to the donations you’ve given, at this point I’ve had three dollars donated for every mile I traveled! THAT IS OUTSTANDING. Thank you! It would be AMAZING if that trend continued. Share and make it happen, because YOU ARE AWESOME.

Next, The Hopefully Interesting Ramble

It’s probably hard to tell, but I sometimes do a bit of research before I go out on a ride so I can have some ideas for things to talk about; that’s how I knew about the Tataviam Tribe and Charles Maclay. It started with a 1923 map of the San Fernando Valley from the Library of Congress.

Why, this very map in fact!

Lots of changes in the last 100 years. One of them is that green box around streets in the Northeast corner of The Valley.

Why, this very box in fact!

The largest thin in the bost is the name Maclay. It’s the street name, but it’s larger than the other streets in the area, so I searched for it and found this article:

San Fernando’s Maclay Avenue isn’t just a name to the city founder’s family. But for a Native American tribe, it must go

…and that led to this video:

The Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians: Renaming Maclay Avenue

That’s a little heavier than I usually like to go in these videos, but I’m always interested in finding out the history of The Valley. So in it went.

The Oviatt Library was different. I already knew about the filming at CSUN, and I knew where I could find those clips, so I didn’t look it up ahead of time. When I got home I realized I’d been going to that library for over 30 years and I had no idea who it was named after, and thought I might find a History Fun Fact or two that I could throw into the edit.

…and that led to this article:

Oviatt name removed from CSUN library, lawn effective immediately

Then: Mom!

Mom didn’t just teach 36.6 miles away for twenty years. For most of that time, she taught first grade. I’ve taught first grade; it’s hard. Kids aren’t used to longer school days, and the sheer number of different subject (and amount of information students are supposed to learn in each of them) is overwhelming. Add to that teaching kids for whom English is often a second language and the pressure skyrockets. I don’t think I could have done it. Go mom! You rock.

A nearly-current picture of Mom and me.

The Thanks and The Asking (slight return)

This is probably my last TogetheRide post of 2020. It has been thrilling and inspiring to see people give so much during this wacky, difficult year. Let’s all have a 2021 with more of the inspiration and less of the difficulty. A year that lets us actually see each other’s faces! And enter the “Tell Me Where To Go” contest!

Happy New Year!

This post’s rides:

Weaving around town

The title of this post makes more sense after you watch.

Wicker, Wicker, Wicker…

You might have watched that and thought “How the heck did he find four wicker pop culture references?” Well, I’ve got news for you: I barely scratched the surface of the world of wicker. Vox did a whole video on the pop history of a wicker chair.

Yes, their video is better than mine. They have a lot more money. (also more talent)

You can also read about the 13 most iconic wicker chairs of all time.


Donut King II is not the most famous giant donut on a building in Los Angeles (that would be Randy’s by LAX) but it’s a very similar giant donut on a building. A very different option for giant donut is the donut hole, where you actually drive through the donut. Read some donut words here!

Too much monkey business

If you’ve never seen “Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp,” you are about to experience…something. The pitch meeting must have been amazing. “Okay, here’s the idea: You know how people loved that talking horse show? That was just one animal! What if we did a show where everyone is a talking monkey? And the main character has a Humphrey Bogart voice? And there’s a monkey band- not The Monkees, but actual monkeys? This thing is gonna be HUGE!

I have no idea why the person who posted this added the Get Smart theme to the beginning when the actual theme for the show SLAPS.

This week’s rides:

What happened last week?

THIS happened, for corn sake!

This week’s four rides:

Edge of Simi

Four and a half years ago, I rode my first century ride from Toluca Lake to Santa Barbara. I was so worried about making it over the hill into Simi Valley that I took a different route with longer, less steep hills. I finally went over the pass last week- and discovered it’s now not a big deal.

I took Box Canyon back. Winding road, lots of blind corners, and only one lane in each direction with almost zero shoulder. A little spooky.

Bike Tag

The BikeLA subreddit plays bike tag. One person rides somewhere and takes a picture. When the next person finds it they take a new picture somewhere else.

I found this Karate Kid/Cobra Kai Mural:

My bike fell over while I was taking this.

…and I submitted this Nipsey Hussle mural:

La Crescenta & Tujunga

Windy Day

It was supposed to be a lazy ride, but wind means work.

San Fernando Valley Half Century

I had originally planned to ride through Simi again, but I forgot my pump and if my bike breaks down it’s a lot easier to get help and a ride home from the San Fernando Valley.

A Contest!

What horrible and/or wonderful place will I be riding to? YOU GET TO PICK! Just make a donation of any amount to sponsor my TogetheRide here and pick a location within 25 miles of Universal Studios. Put your pick in your note to me!

Look, a map to help you pick! Remember, it has to be bike accessible. I will not be riding into the ocean.

TogetheRide is a community-wide cycling challenge that is raising $5,000,000 in critical funds to support the work of the Los Angeles LGBT Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation and create awareness about the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic. More information is here.

I’ll put all of the entries in a list and let the computer pick one at random. I had two thoughts about when to end this. I think it’s going to have to be the end of February (yes, months away). I don’t want it to end in the middle of winter when I can’t predict if I’ll be able to ride. So,let’s say all entries due by February 28th.

I spent way too long making this fancy image that only shows up for a few seconds:

Me on a fake "choose your own adventure" book cover.

And If you’re not an ancient person who remembers the reference, here’s what the real books looked like:

That Abominable Snowman is HUGE.

This ride:

Going to Pasadena, just to see what’s going on.

I’ve seen the see-through bike shorts twice in the last three weeks, and both times they were Rapha shorts. Rapha is not a cheap brand, and I highly doubt they’re shorts are supposed to be semi-transparent, so it’s probably one of two things:

  1. The rider is wearing his expensive shorts as much as possible to squeak out every cent of value, or
  2. The rider is too vain to buy the right size shorts and is squeezing into the size they think they should be.

My shorts are nowhere near as nice, but they’re about one-ninth the price so I’ll live with them.

My pictures from the Eagle Rock Community Teach-In are on Flickr (yeah, some of us fogies still use Flickr): https://www.flickr.com/photos/dogwelder/albums/72157714683094498

If anyone ever looks at this in the future, they will wonder why I was having lunch with the Governor at a laundry. Or anywhere, really.

Rides from this post:

Bonus link to explain the title of this post:

Hey, I passed an arbitrary number!

I went for a ride Sunday. I didn’t make a video (some rides are just… rides, y’know?) but I did take exactly one picture:

I didn’t notice the driveway part of the face until I got home.

Also, I passed an arbitrary number! What number? THIS number:

That’s right: the coveted FOURTEEN PERCENT MARK! Also 500 miles.

But the most important number: 60%. That’s how far I’ve come in my goal to raise $3000. I’ll get there with your help. And remember: I’ll ride a mile for every dollar raised UP TO 5000 dollarmiles!

Go here and give! And send your friends as well!

Here’s the ride:


Classic TV, Classic Rock

The Brady Bunch house is only a few blocks from my apartment, but living in the San Fernando Valley – particularly if you live near the studios – means the chance that you live near or in a movie location is very high, so that’s not as big of a deal as it may sound.

The remodel was a weird project. The exterior & the sets didn’t really line up. There’s a fake window in the show version that they had to jam in below the roof line. And I haven’t seen much of the inside, but I hope they ignored the show’s bathroom layout and installed a toilet.

Big Boy restaurants sure had some creepy commercials. I was looking for a Pappy Parker chicken cartoon, but found this:

And I guess they used to dress like Boy Scouts.

Paty’s has also been used for filming. This is Dwight from The Office:

Really captures the feel of the place.

Rides in this video: