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Friday, April 25, 2008

Sampler: Mortgages Made Simple: Loan Modifications, Do they really happen - April 25, 2008

Check out this latest version of Mortgages Made Simple. Our lender offered to refinance us at a lower interest rate for no cost. It can happen to you, too. -- Douglas

Loan Modifications, Do they really happen - April 25, 2008

Loan Modifications have become a hot topic lately due to the subprime crisis, but are they the proverbial leprechaun with a pot of gold, or that elusive shooting star? We actually know two people that were offered incredible loan modifications from their lender. Mortgages Made Simple logo The interesting thing in both cases was neither were subprime borrowers and both were contacted by their lender. And one was our Co-host/producer. We'll tell you their stories and....

If you're not feeling so lucky, you can contact your lender and ask for a loan modification. With a lot of persistence you can get it done. For a brief list of lenders who are more likely to help you out please email us.

(Via Mortgages Made Simple with Rick Gundzik.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Podcasting in Plain English from CommonCraft.com

The folks at CommonCraft.com have done it again. An excellent video which explains podcasting in a few minutes.

Monday, April 21, 2008

$ - Event: Earthfest at St. Cyril of Jerusalem School - Apr 26

St. Cyril School will host its first annual Earthfest on Saturday April 26th from 11am to 10pm. Come enjoy all the traditional events of the spring carnival (rides, raffles, food, live music and organic beer and wine at the bar) with the added benefit of learning more about how we can care for our planet from vendors of canvas bags, earthquake kits and other eco-friendly products.

Entry tickets are $5 per person for ages 5 and up with extra tickets sold for food booths and rides.

Event: 4th Annual Green Gardens Tour from LAist

LAist points out this upcoming garden event. It is a fee event, but some might be interested in checking out this tour of Green Gardens.

Photo Preview: 4th Annual Green Gardens Tour

This upcoming Saturday, April 26th, marks the 4th Annual Green Gardens Tour, which gives attendees a backstage pass to see six home gardens on the Westside that "demonstrate sustainable designs, practices, and technologies."

Continues on the web site

(Via LAist.)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Walking/Biking Van Nuys 007

4.15 miles on my bike today (Red on map). Picking up some streets I missed last week and starting to migrate further north.

View Larger Map

Friday, April 18, 2008

Andrea Louise (almost) LIVE tomorrow at Noon PDT!

I will be producing a LIVE re-broadcast of a concert by our friend, Andrea Louise, tomorrow (Saturday) at 12 Noon PDT. We are hosting a LIVE chat via uStream while we and the fans watch the show from tape.

You can join in the fun by clicking the link below...


or watch directly from here, using the video player and chat room below.

You can purchase Andrea's CD, So Far, direct from CDBaby.com

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Event: Earth Day and the Island Fox

Earth Day and the Island Fox
This Saturday and Sunday,
Friends of the Island Fox
will be at the

Los Angeles Zoo Earth Day Expo 2008

April 19 and 20, 2008
10:00AM - 4PM

The event will highlight California Wildlife and part of that focus will be the endangered island fox.

The Los Angeles Zoo is home to a male San Clemente Island fox. FIF and representatives from the Channel Islands National Park will be up near the island fox enclosure providing activities throughout the day.

  • 11:30 AM & 2:30 PM Fox Health Check: Participate in all the steps that biologists do in the field to check the health of wild island foxes.

  • Noon & 3 PM Radio Tracking Demonstration: How do biologists find small island foxes on large islands? Come and help us a track a radio collared animal in the zoo.

  • 1 PM Exhibit Talk at the Island Fox Enclosure

Come out to the L.A. Zoo, help celebrate Earth Day and find out how you can help preserve California’s unique wildlife diversity like the endangered island fox.

(Via Friends of the Island Fox.)

New Media Interchange Meetup - Interested?

I am looking to launch yet another meetup (Oh Noes!) , but one in an area I don't think is currently being served in LA. I want to bring together New Media Tech folks like Flash animators, podcasters, videobloggers,etc together with creative and entertainment types like writers, actors and directors so that we can share information on producing New Media.

This idea grows out of my Podcasting and New Media for Writers class that I teach for the UCLA Extension. I have had a really good time with that class as it focuses on "doing." We talk as much about the creative side of the New Media as we do the tech and everyone has something to bring to the table. At the end of the class, everyone has produced and released the first episode of their production, ready to continue as long as they wish

While there is a social element to all meetups, I want to focus on the Interchange of ideas and sharing real world, useful information that we each need to know. I imagine a "5-minute meeting" where you can ask a pressing question and provide a great resource (web site, book, person, etc) to share with the group. Then we can break up and discuss whatever we wish.

If there is already something like this, please let me know. If you are interesting in the New Media Interchange, contact me directly at douglas@welchwrite.com. If there is enough interest, I will find a venue and start to select a date.

Link: New Media Interchange Google Group Mailing List
Link: New Media Interchange Wiki

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Walking (Biking) Van Nuys 006

Another 4.25 mile bike ride today picking up the block to the west. We were only able to do a portion of the streets due to the long-ish trip to get to the neighborhood.

View Larger Map

Monday, April 14, 2008

Traffic: A shortcut past the Van Nuys-405 "barrier"

We have lived in Van Nuys for most of our 22 years in California, most of it right here in Van Nuys, in the crook of the 101 and 405 freeways. Once issue that has always plagued us was the barrier that the 405 can cause when trying to get from Van Nuys to the West Valley.

Due to the location of the freeway and the Sepulveda Dam, options for crossing the 405 are very limited. They included Ventura Blvd, Burbank Blvd, Victory Blvd and Vanowen. In the past, it has been very difficult to get over one of these routes, but the last 5 years or so have brought more and more gridlock during rush hours. The freeway on-ramp at all but Vanowen can cause westbound traffic to be backed up for blocks, sometimes all the way to Van Nuys Blvd. I had hoped that the completion of the new ramps at Sepulveda and Ventura might ease the pressure on the Burbank ramps, but I haven't seen any reduction in traffic.

So why a shortcut?

We discovered the free archery sessions at the Sepulveda Dam Recreation area a few months ago and love to go spend a couple of hours shooting at the range. Unfortunately, the traffic has made it more and more difficult to go the 2+ miles between our house and the park. After several times trying all of the routes above, (except Van Own) which seems too far north to be practical, I was getting very frustrated, just the opposite feeling I was trying to cultivate in the middle of the week. Our recent bike rides (and my Walking Van Nuys Project) turned up one solution though.

As you can see from the map below, the construction of the Orange Line Busway has opened a new router under the 405. In order to better facilitate access to the large parking lot at the Sepulveda Station, the busway includes not only a bike way, but also a driveway leading from Victory Blvd, west of the freeway to the parking lot. It is possible to enter the parking lot either directly from Sepulveda or off of Erwin Street.

View Larger Map

This shortcut has proven invaluable in getting to the archery range in a timely manner and allowing access to the West Valley from Van Nuys for other events. As we get back on our bicycles after a year away, this route can also be used, but the distance is a bit far, and we are not really up for doing a lot of pedaling in the dark on the return trip. Still, not having to use a car at all would be even better.

I am not a lawyer, or a city planner, and cannot vouch for the legality of using this route as a shortcut, but I have had no problem over the last several months. For your own safety, and the safety of others, observe the traffic laws and go slow. Also, watch out for walkers and bikers in the 2 areas where the bikeway crosses the road.

Walking Van Nuys 005

Around 2.25 miles today in a loop to our north. We kept to the big straight streets today. I will probably got back and hit up the cross streets on my bike, as it is a bit easier to do a lot of them in a short period of time. Click the picture for an interactive map of today's walk and all the past walks.

Walking Van Nuys 005

Link: Walking Van Nuys Google Map

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Walking Van Nuys 004

3.0 miles today, and almost completed the block to the east. A few segments will need to be picked up on future, regular walks. Luckily we got the walk in before the heat became too bad.

Link: Updated Walking Van Nuys Map

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Places LA: Star Party with the Sidewalk Astronomers

An evening out with the Sidewalk Astronomers (sidewalkastronomers.us) at Hansen Dam, in the North San Fernando Valley.

iPod Ready Video

Walking (Biking) Van Nuys 003

Walking Van Nuys 003Time for a neighborhood bike ride today. I almost finished my local 1 block area today and ventured across Van Nuys Blvd to start riding the block to my east.

This area of Van Nuys looks very similar when moving east to west, but moving north and south reveals some of the dichotomies of the neighborhood. Single family homes give way to apartments, commercial and even some industrial spots, as well as the "downtown" area of Van Nuys that is, so far, more than just auto dealers which dominate the streetscape, as you move further south.

Here is the updated Walking Van Nuys Map from Google Maps with today's route markerd in green.

View Larger Map

Star Party at Hansen Dam

Star Party
Originally uploaded by dewelch
The Sidewalk Astronomers held a Star Party at Hansen Dam on Friday night. They brought out their homemade Dobsonian telescopes and gave us great views of the moon, Saturn, Mars and more. Check out their web site above for more information.

Click the photo to see 3 more pictures from the evening.

A video from the evening is coming soon. Check back here in a few days or subscribe today to be notified automatically when the video is ready.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Walking Van Nuys 002

Second day of Walking Van Nuys, my on-going project to walk all the streets in my neighborhood. Today's walk 1.8 miles in 31 minutes.

View Larger Map

I am thinking of having a little walking get-together to walk sections of the major streets like Van Nuys Blvd. Anyone want to join in the fun? Email me at douglas@welchwrite.com.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What I'm Reading...

Dolce Italiano by Gina De Palma

La Bella Cucina by Viana La Place

Italian Slow and Savory by Joyce Goldstein

My Italian Garden by Viana La Place

Contorni by Susan Simon

Pots in the Garden by Ray Rogers

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Walking Van Nuys 001*

Updated: So this post got me to thinking. How hard would it be, and how enlightening to walk (or bike) every street in Van Nuys? I plan on doing as much as I can myself, but this would also be a great group project. Everybody walks their streets and then does a blog post on what they saw there, takes some pictures, etc.

I have set up a Google Map and started putting my own recent walks on it. I figured I wouldn't go back any further than March '08 so that I can really say I "looked" at the place I was walking.

Anyone want to join in on this little exercise? (ok, ok, bad pun) Drop me a line!

View Larger Map

Along with my daily exercise regime, I decided to make today's walk a photowalk as well. A friend's project to document and geo-locate interesting locations in his northern California town gave me the idea to start documenting some of the locations I pass on a daily basis.

If you visit these photos on Flickr, you will find they are linked to their location using Flickr's map feature. Please feel free to add tags and notes to increase the usefulness of these photos.

Link to Flickr Photo Set

Explore the Map

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Video: Dorkbot SoCal Meeting - April 5, 2008

A short video from this weeks Dorkbot SoCal meeting.

Speaker Description:

Thomas Edwards is a technology artist who is a recent transplant from Washington, DC (where he co-founded Dorkbot DC). He will be presenting "Phy2Phy", his campaign to link physical objects to other physical objects using the Interent. Phy2Phy concentrates on de-localization of interaction through the use of affordable hardware devices, and parallels the displacement of his own recent transcontinental journey.

Other speakers included Damon Seeley from Electroland, Gilad Lotan, and the guys from Makeway Racing.


DorkBot SoCal Meeting - April 5, 2008 DorkBot SoCal Meeting - April 5, 2008 DorkBot SoCal Meeting - April 5, 2008 DorkBot SoCal Meeting - April 5, 2008 DorkBot SoCal Meeting - April 5, 2008 DorkBot SoCal Meeting - April 5, 2008 DorkBot SoCal Meeting - April 5, 2008

More Photos

Link: iPod Ready Video

LA Wordpress User Group Meeting - April 6, 2008

We had our first LA Wordpress User Group (LAWPUG) meeting today at the Farmer's Market on Fairfax. Lots of familiar faces from the LA Tech community and a few new ones.

More photos available on my Flickr Account.

Friday, April 04, 2008


Scenes from this weekend's Tomatomania here in Encino, California

Link: iPod Ready Video

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Today's Walk - 2.1 miles

Another day in my exercise campaign. I am beginning to feel antsy if I can't get out and exercise, so that is a good thing, even if I am a bit sore. That mainly comes from the 2 cycling sessions we have done. Still getting back in the swing of riding the bike.

Saw this site along my way today. Ah, back in the days when a car was a car...and gas was 20 cents a gallon. (SMILE)


funny pictures

See more LOLCats at I Can Has Cheezburger.com