Snapshots of SoCal Housing Bubble Burst

As we know by now, there was a housing bubble, and prices were inflated, and lots of people bought too much house on too little money down, and these mortgages that were a bad idea to begin with were bundled up and sold, and then bad decisions were made by lots of bankers and by lots of consumers, and markets shifted and homeowners found themselves in situations of negative equity and foreclosure and then it rippled out and affected everything and we have the mess we are currently in.  We all know this.

So, instead of telling you something new, I am just showing you some local snapshots of things you already know.  These pictures show so clearly just one specific result, in SoCal, of the economic crisis. 

The first picture (above) shows the architect's dreamy rendering of this awesome house-to-be, complete with amazing view of the ocean.

This second pic shows the larger context of dreamy architectural sketch.

The third and then fourth pic shows the whole lot, fenced off, weeds growing, some construction started, the rest just partially done, left to weather.  There have been no changes since we first arrived in March.


Make a Wish, Tie a Twine

Since birthdays only come once a year, and shooting stars are challenging to catch due to urban light pollution, there are precious few valid opportunities to make a wish. Unless, of course, you live in our covenant-free neighborhood and happen across the Wishing Arch.

Some kind and quirky soul constructed an arch out of branches, installed it over the gate into their side yard, dubbed it "The Wishing Arch", and thusly facilitated thousands of wishes. While it is aesthetically more like a woolly pachyderm, in spirit it is quite lovely, moving, and somehow very touching. There is something beautifully human-scaled about this project. Each knot was hand tied, by one single person, as they paused on their walk. Each twist of string is a tiny physical token of a single person's longing. Each knot is one single little hope, one single little wish, one single little bit of proof that someone is hoping for something better.

Send me your wish, and I'll be thrilled to go tie it on to the Wishing Arch.


Dog Surfing Comp

After a week of computer trauma (broken keyboard that types 2-3 letters for every one letter you want to type. . .) our technology issues are mostly solved and we are back on-line posting the important details of our explorations.

Last weekend brought not only the great company of some wonderful visitors to our fair city, but also an outing to the Dog Surfing Competition.

The dogs all wear PFDs, and get pushed into the waves by their human. They get points for staying on the board, hanging 10 or 20, turning around, and length of ride.

I could go on about the scene, but really, you just need to look at the pictures. The smaller pics above are courtesy of A. Quigley. I, unfortunately, can't get them to enlarge. The one that looks like it is just surf is actually of a small dog post wipe-out. Also, check out the one of the acrobatic dad and two daughters with pooch on the tip!

The portraits below of are the contestants in the 21-40 lb. heat.

Here are some links to great youtube videos and other photos of said sport. FF/DH is committed to helping you waste time.



Nobody's in a Hurry but the Horses - Daybreak at Del Mar

My previous dabbling with ponies at Austin's Manor Downs has metastasized into a sizable and riveting mini-obsession at Del Mar. While both Manor Downs and Del Mar have notable histories, the league and caliber of Del Mar leaves Manor Downs in the dust back at the starting gate. Manor Downs is Texas' oldest track, and will always have a spot in the winner's circle in my heart, as that is where Ian and I went on one of our first dates. He bought me a frito pie and I knew it was love. The grandstand at Manor Downs is a huge and rickety old bleacher and offers just enough shade to watch the quarter horses. Manor Downs is fine and dandy, and well loved by all.

That said, Manor Downs doesn't hold a candle to Del Mar. Del Mar is oozing with old Hollywood style and glitz. Del Mar has hosted some of the most famous horses, jockeys, trainers and owners in horse racing. Del Mar Racetrack is in, well, Del Mar. It is ridiculously gorgeous in Del Mar. It is insanely stunning in Del Mar. It could not be prettier in Del Mar. The racetrack is situated a few hundred yards from the beach, and has views of the ocean, the mountains to the East, and most importantly, views of lots of amazing racehorses. It is heavenly.

Del Mar Racetrack was started by Bing Crosby and some of his buddies back in the mid 1930's. It opened in 1937, and Bing himself was the first fella through the doors. It was started as a pure leisure party diversion for Bing and his Hollywood pals, as their lives of fame and fortune up in LA were trying and stressful.

Many of the folks who hung out Del Mar came down from LA on the special Santa Fe Railroad racetrack train, which was just one big rolling party. If the train was late arriving in Del Mar, the races would start late.

The Del Mar track was the very first track to apply the technology used in film-making to document the horses crossing the finish line of the race. With all its Hollywood connections, it only makes sense that at Del Mar, film making would get its peanut butter in with horse racing's chocolate. Modern versions of the photo-finish technology pioneered in 1937 by del Riccio, a camera engineer at Paramount Pictures, are now used at almost every horse track in the world. Even Manor Downs.

On to our adventure! For the second week in a row, I had a pre-dawn bike load-in. This time, MK slept in at her own home and Ian resumed his position as my primary adventure buddy and partner in crime. We rode bikes from the Salk Institute to Del Mar along historic highway 101, a relaxed and stunning little 7 mile ride fondly referred to as the "Waves and Babes Commute" by some unnamed person *ahem cough cough Ian* who works at the Salk.

Every morning, a portion of the 1500 thoroughbred horses stabled at Del Mar for the racing season get their exercise. The exercise shifts start at 4 am, and run until about 10 am, when they clear the track to rake it flat and get it ready for the early afternoon post.

On the weekends, you can go to the racetrack, be seated in the fancy grandstand tables, eat an overpriced buffet dorm-food-esque breakfast, and watch the horses run. Lots of horses. Non-stop trotting, cantering, running, walking, exercising.

If you love horse racing, you can imagine how awesome this was. If you don't love watching beautifully perfectly fine-tuned athletes (both equine and human) push themselves to go faster, then this outing would have bored you to tears. The lousy breakfast would not have helped matters.

The videos below don't really show the amazing amount of muscle, strength, grace, and beauty each horse has, or the thrill of watching them exercise. To remedy that, you really should just come out and go to the track with me. Come on out, I'll teach you how to read the race form and place a bet for a trifecta.

Recommended Reading:
_Seabiscuit: An American Legend_ by Laura Hillenbrand
_Handicapping 101_ by Brad Free
_Horse Heaven_ by Jane Smiley (fiction)


Bike the Bay - More Sightseeing in Our Town

Last weekend, while Ian was in Woods Hole
drinking Offshore's Presidenti-ale Ale to the Chief with the Obama family, he missed out on the annual Bike the Bay community ride. Since we had both registered for the ride, and he was out hobnobbing with nobel laureates and the leader of the free world, MK scooped his registration and pedalled in his place. Lucky MK, sad Ian.

We loaded up MK's minivan pre-dawn, and made it downtown by about 6:15 am. The start was packed, and they released the riders in waves. We started around 7:30-ish.

The annual ride is a very sweet, very mellow, very flat 25 mile ride around the San Diego Bay. The big attraction to this ride is not only the free t-shirt, and option to buy Bike the Bay socks (somebody in their merch department is so clever! When will bands start selling concert socks instead just the same old concert t-shirts?) but that you get to ride your bike over the Coronado Bridge. The curious may check out this link for bridge stats and details. It is only during this one community ride each year that bicyclists are permitted to ride across this huge bridge that connects downtown SD to Coronado, spans the bay, and arcs way up over the shipping channel. Rad.

The ride goes all the way around the bay, so lots of shore birds and bunnies were out being cute. We also pedalled past the South Bay Salt Works in Chula Vista. Who doesn't love pedalling past a mountain of salt? How often do you get to see that?

We saw dogs in paniers, kids on mountain racks, and one very relaxed and lovely grandma on a cruisey beach bike sporting the bike licence plate "QNLATIFAH". That gal has some style.

At the end of the ride, there were lots of free bottles of Vitamin Water XXX flavor. Don't get the wrong idea; there is nothing that naughty about hydration. While there was a beergarten, there was a sad and disappointing amount of other free merch. Subaru was one of the sponsors of the ride, and I was hoping they were giving away free Subaru's. Unfortunately, they were stingey with the car give-aways. They didn't even give away free bike lights. I did get lots of coupons and a tiny tube of free Aquaphor and half a bagel.

If you check out this link, and go to time 7:40:12, you can see the ride photos of MK and I up on Coronado Bridge.