Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Our lavish New Year’s celebration

Filed under: — stan @ 8:49 pm

So we had it all planned out. We had reservations for an early dinner at Cafe Bizou in Old Town. But after I rode my bike through there today, I thought that the traffic and parking would be a nightmare. But we thought we’d be able to beat that. We could take the train.

So we went to the train station, and we waited. The train station is in the middle of the freeway, which is actually a kind of hellish place. And we waited there for about 15 minutes before the train got there. This should have been a tip-off that something was wrong. We got on the train, the doors closed, and then we just sat there for 10 more minutes. Then they announced that there was some sort of problem with the tracks up ahead, and they were having to run single-track, so we were waiting for the train going the other way. And then we sat some more. Finally, we pulled out of the station. And the train went rocketing down the track at a good 15 miles per hour. When we got the next station, then the train just stopped and sat. Then the train going the other way came in. We bailed out and got on it and rode it back to where we started.

All of this ended up being a good hour spent sitting on the train. So we left the train station and went and had dinner at El Torito, which was just fine.

It’s madness I tells ye!

Filed under: — stan @ 5:27 pm

It’s been raining all week here, so I haven’t been able to go bike riding, and today was no exception. I even got so desperate that I brought my bike inside and hooked it up to Cathy’s air trainer thingy and rode stationary for about 45 minutes. I hate riding indoors. It’s work. I just keep looking at the clock and thinking, “am I done yet?”

But then, this afternoon, the clouds parted, and the sun came out. It was still cold, but I decided to go for a ride anyway. Then I noticed an aneurism on my back tire. It was going to blow out at any moment. I still went riding, but I made sure that my first stop was the bike shop.

I got a new tire, and then I set out. I went down Colorado Boulevard to check out all the people camping out for the Rose Parade tomorrow. So, as I promised Grace, here is my report from the butt end of the Rose Parade. This is the first of two parts.

First off, I noticed the that the Pasadena Christian Church had staked out a big chunk of the sidewalk – directly in front of our neighborhood gay bar. Was this a coincidence? Traveling down the parade route, I saw lots of stores with temporary chain-link fences over their storefronts. Office Depot was boarded up, and we aren’t even expecting a hurricane. In Old Town, there were several board-up companies doing a brisk business covering up the storefronts there. And the traffic was horrendous.

After that fun, I did a regular ride. This was a slightly shortened version of Gene’s “Just One Hill” ride. And, as always, there was just one hill. But it’s a big one, and the route goes up and down it several times on different streets. There was still a lot of water on the roads, but up in the hills it was quiet, and there were very few cars out. I noodled about in the hills for a while before coming down into La Cañada. From there, I went past JPL and back into Pasadena for the ride home.

22 miles.


Train to San Diego

Filed under: — stan @ 10:52 pm

Today we rode the train down to San Diego to take Lucinda to visit Grandpa Schwarz. This was an all-day affair that started by taking the Metro Gold Line from Pasadena to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. From there, we got on the Amtrak Surfliner for the ride down the coast. The rain had stopped, so we got a good view of the mountains with a fresh coat of new snow. The train goes along the coast for a lot of the trip, so we got some nice views of the beach, as well as the San Onofre nuclear power plant.

When we got to San Diego, Grandpa picked us up and we went to his apartment there. He showed Lucinda how to hold the castanets, which she enjoyed, since it meant she could make lots of noise. They also played the piano together and drew pictures on the computer. There are more pictures of Lucinda from the day in her photo album.

Finally, at the end of the day, we rode the train home. It was really a very pleasant ride.


More geek stuff

Filed under: — stan @ 2:46 pm

I added some logic to our main page to have it automatically pull out the last 10 blog posts marked with a category of ‘adventures’. It then uses these to make a list of links to the posts on the front page. All of our older adventures have been relegated to the ‘old adventures‘ index page.


It’s bucketing down…

Filed under: — stan @ 11:18 pm

lake in our back yard
The rain is falling harder now, and for the first time in years, we are getting a little lake in the back yard. This is the first time we’ve had the lake since the El Niño of ‘97-’98. It’s impressive. We don’t get many thunderstorms here, but there’s lightning and thunder tonight.

A dreary day

Filed under: — stan @ 7:02 pm

Who says it never rains in California? Today was pouring down rain for most of the day. So I had to take my car to work instead of riding my bike. Trying to make the most of this, I stopped off on the way home so my car could get its every-other-year smog test. Like in an alien abduction, it got a probe up its butt and got measured. But all is well, and it passed.

And thus ended the dreary day.

More Wordpress geek stuff

Filed under: — stan @ 1:49 pm

A long time ago, I wrote a little PHP routine for our main home page to automatically add holiday decoration at the top of the page. I adapted it for Wordpress today. I made a file ‘wp-holidaydecor.php’ which queries the database to get the next holiday and its lead time. If there is a holiday coming up, it calls a function to insert an appropriate image from the ‘holidayimages’ directory. I had to hack the main Wordpress ‘index.php’ file and add one line:

< ?php include (ABSPATH . 'wp-holidaydecor.php'); ?>

I added this right after the ‘<div id=”content”>’ line.

The other part of this is the ‘holidays’ table I added to the database. I wrote a little Perl script that calculates the dates of the holidays and populates this table a year at a time. Right now, it’s filled through 2005.


Sunday bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 2:06 pm

Today’s ride was Gene’s “Horizontal Bomp” ride again. Good for a chilly day. We went east into Monrovia, then south to Temple City and back through San Gabriel and San Marino. We stopped for a snack at Il Fornaio in Old Town. Then we went down past the Rose Bowl for the trip home. The bleachers are set up for the Rose Parade next weekend. Down by the Rose Bowl we saw some sort of old-car meet going on, as well as the big tents where they are building the floats for the parade. Then we went up the hill to Altadena Drive for the trip home.

40 miles.


Christmas with the family

Filed under: — stan @ 9:52 pm

Today we went down to Leisure World to see the family for Christmas dinner. We brought the tamales that we made, as well as Lucinda, who was quite excited at the prospect of getting lots of presents from her relatives. We ate ourselves into oblivion. It was fun.

You can see all the pictures from the day at


I got published!

Filed under: — stan @ 7:57 pm

my article
Yesterday I heard that an article I wrote was published in Seismological Research Letters. It’s a novel thing to see something I wrote printed up and looking official. So today I borrowed a copy to have a look. It’s a fairly light article, the gist being that every time people in L.A. feel an earthquake, they all come to our web site and sign up for the mailing list. This surge lasts for about two weeks after each major earthquake, and it represents a ‘teachable moment’ which we in the earthquake business can use for public education and outreach.

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