Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Halloween

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4/11/2005

God Hates Shrimp

Filed under: — stan @ 2:50 pm

This is pretty funny:




And this one is in the same vein, but older:

http://www.godhatesfigs.com

4/10/2005

Downfall

Filed under: — stan @ 8:28 pm

We went to see “Downfall” today. This is the story of the last 12 days in Hitler’s bunker, and it’s my nominee for the ‘feel-bad-movie of the year’. But at the same time, it was very interesting. Bruno Ganz was great in the role of Hitler. He was very believable, which is often difficult for actors to pull off when playing a very famous person. This film also makes a good companion piece with “Blind Spot – Hitler’s Secretary”, which we saw a couple of years ago. This film was told largely from the viewpoint of Traudl Junge, the aforementioned secretary. She also appears briefly in the film, speaking at the beginning and the end about her personal feelings of guilt for having been a part of such a monstrous evil.

“I realized that she [Sophie Scholl] was the same age as me, and I realized that she was executed the same year I started working for Hitler. At that moment, I really sensed that it is no excuse to be young.”

4/9/2005

Picnic Valley

Filed under: — stan @ 5:48 pm

Since I can’t go riding on Sunday, I met Newton today and we went out to Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park in San Dimas. It was a perfect spring day, aside from being a little bit windy.

We started at Live Oak Park in Temple City and rode up to Irwindale and the Santa Fe Dam bike path. That was where Newton got the chance to be the latest entry in the Flat Tire Gallery. His tire was one of the ones that has some goop inside it that is supposed to seal punctures, but instead, the goop just sprayed out of the tire and got all over him. Yick. And that’s why I’ve always been skeptical of that goop.

After putting on a new tire, we continued east through Glendora. We took Sierra Madre Blvd until it ended, then we went south a bit and continued east on the old Route 66. In San Dimas, we went south, passing by several stables. Then we continued on into La Verne, where we passed Brackett Field and the drag strip at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds.

From the Fairplex, we went west up the hill through Picnic Valley. Back in 1978 when I used to ride with the Claremont Colleges cycling team, we used to ride around there. We always called it the “Picnic Valley ride”, although I never knew why. It was only today that I saw the “Picnic Valley” sign, so yet another of the Mysteries of the Ages has been resolved.

We rode up Via Verde, over a fairly large hill, coming down the other side into Covina. We were going to stop at a little cafe there, but it was closed. But that was where I saw the Proposition 65-ish warning sign about the building being unreinforced masonry that is unsafe in an earthquake.

After that, we got back into Azusa, passing the old Drive-in there. It was just after that that we were cut off by a guy in a car who wasn’t paying attention. He cut in front of Newton and immediately turned into a parking lot. So I took out my camera and took his picture. Now, what he did was most likely an honest mistake. He wasn’t paying attention, but if he’d owned up to that, it would have been fine. But no. He got belligerent and started yelling and cursing at us. So we just left. But then he caught up to us a few miles down the road and started harassing us. This was truly the tipping point between an honest mistake and Active Stupidity. He got out of his car and tried to challenge us to a fight. But we just ignored him, and he finally went away.

The last part of the ride was through Monrovia, where I got into one more fight with a car. A couple in a car pulled up next to me at a stop sign and started turning right across me. So I yelled at them. And they started yelling back. Now I realize that there are lots of bike riders who don’t follow the rules of the road, but I’m not one of them. But while I was presenting what I think is a valid complaint – you don’t turn right through another vehicle – they just kept yelling at me about how bike riders don’t stop for stop signs. So whatever.

Anyway, when it was all said and done, it was actually a pretty pleasant ride.

57 miles.

For the record, the CVC sections that they violated are:

21750. The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle or a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken vehicle or bicycle.

22107. No person shall turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after the giving of an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.

22108. Any signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given continuously during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.

22109. No person shall stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle on a highway without first giving an appropriate signal to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear when there is opportunity to give the signal.


4/7/2005

Book meme

Filed under: — stan @ 1:27 pm

I was recruited for this by Carol. I’m not usually a ‘joiner’, but here goes:

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book would you want to be?

Not being familiar with this story beyond the barest essentials, and because Carol already staked out 1984, I’ll have to go with another Orwell story: Animal Farm. I read this when I was about 10 or 11, and I really liked how the animal characters allowed us to see human behavior from an outsider’s viewpoint.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Hrm. Not recently. I don’t read much fiction. When I was 11 or so I read A Wrinkle in Time and I remember thinking that I’d like to meet a nerdy smart girl like Meg.

The last book you bought is:

Astro Turf by M.G. Lord. A kind of weird mishmash of history of JPL and the space program along with musings about gender roles and her father. It was tremendously entertaining.

The last book you read:

Confessions of a Raving Unconfined Nut. Paul Krassner’s memoir of the Sixties. Lots of funny stories about life in the counterculture. Krassner was one of the original Yippies. I still remember all the talk about Yippies and the riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention. It’s funny to find out a lot of it was all a joke. Highly recommended.

What are you currently reading?

This month’s Scientific American and National Geographic. I guess I’m between books right now.

Five books you would take on a desert island:

Rivethead by Ben Hamper. Fear and loathing and lotsa laughs on the assembly line at General Motors.
Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition by Ed Regis. Weird science and even weirder scientists doing it.
The Control of Nature by John McPhee. When it’s Man vs. Nature, guess who usually wins? A very entertaining collection of stories of human hubris.
Floating off the Page by the Wall Street Journal. Funny articles from the center column of the Journal. Radium water tonic, rat restaurants, a reporter eating a five-pound steak. It’s all in here.
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman. I learned lock-picking from this book. It’s also very funny.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 people) and why?

I dunno. Most of the people I know who read interesting stuff don’t have blogs. If I break the chain, am I going to die?

4/5/2005

Aquarium

Filed under: — stan @ 7:06 pm

Since Lucinda is off school this week, we made arrangements to go to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. Cathy scored some free tickets a while back, so the conditions were perfect. We went with Heather and Jacob from up the street, as well as their mom.

When we got there, we wanted to see the otter feeding, but the tank was empty for cleaning. I guess the otters were in a motel somewhere. So instead we went outside so that Heather and Lucinda could pet the rays and touch the starfish and anemones. Then it was feeding time for the sharks in the touch tank. That was entertaining, even if they are all fairly docile sharks.

We also saw a diver in one of the tanks, cleaning the kelp leaves. I wonder how they put that into a job description.

We went into the Lorikeet Forest, and Lucinda managed to persuade one of the birds to land on her arm, so she was happy.

They had one exhibit of shark eggs with little windows in them. We could see the little sharks wriggling around inside. Very Alien-esque.

Later on, we went back inside and saw feeding time at the South Pacific exhibit. They had three divers in the tank handing out food and being mobbed by the fish. One of the divers had a microphone and she talked to us and described what was happening. That was an interesting addition to the show.

When it was time to leave, we took a moment to see the driver’s-eye view of a bit of the Long Beach Grand Prix course, since we had to cross the street to get back to the parking structure. Then we headed home, getting immediately stuck in traffic on the freeway. Have I mentioned recently that I love living in L.A.?

There are also a few more pictures in Lucinda’s photo album.

4/4/2005

On this day in history…

Filed under: — stan @ 1:24 pm

It was 1986. Dinosaurs roamed the earth. I was a programmer at McDonnell Douglas. In the evening, I went to aerobics classes at Golden West College in Huntington Beach. It was the ’80s and all.

It had been three years since I embarked on my self-improvement program to defeat my innate shyness through sheer Spock-like force of will. Overall, I’d made great progress, but it still required some conscious effort to maintain. So I made a point of going out on dates just to ‘keep in practice’.

There was this exceedingly cute girl I always saw at aerobics. I decided to ask her out. I figured it would be good practice. So we went out. It was April 4, 1986. We went to Walt’s Wharf in Seal Beach.

We had a pleasant evening. Later on, we went back to her apartment in Long Beach. The earth even moved for us while we were chatting on the couch. We even made plans for a second date.

And now, here we are nineteen years later. It’s all a bit hard to believe that we’re old enough to have been together for so long. But it’s been a fun journey, complete with buying houses, two cross-country moves, pets, family trauma, and a child. And I wouldn’t have wanted to do it all with anyone else.



4/3/2005

Rambling around the San Gabriel Valley

Filed under: — stan @ 1:53 pm

Today’s ride was a pleasant ramble with no mountain climbing or anything extreme.

We started out going east through Sierra Madre, Arcadia, and Monrovia. We took the rolling-hills route, since it has less traffic. We ened up going through Duarte to the San Gabriel River and Santa Fe Dam area. It was a perfect warm spring day, but we could see the snow up on Mt. Baldy off the distance.

We went south on the San Gabriel River bike path down to South El Monte, and then headed back west through Temple City. We passed the old Driftwood Dairy there. It’s a bit of a throwback to an earlier era here.

After passing Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, we took Huntington Drive through San Marino. From there, we went north, climbing the scarp of the Raymond Fault to get back into Pasadena. We stopped for a snack at Corner Bakery on South Lake Avenue.

Next, we headed east, across the Caltech campus. We stopped at one of the pools there to look at the egret. Then we continued on, back across Pasadena.

When we got back to the park, we only had about 37 miles, so Kevin and I continued on up Altadena Drive. We went and looked at the massive landslide that has buried the old Mt. Wilson toll road. It was pretty impressive. Then we continued on across Altadena to the top of Lake Ave and Alta Loma. Just below Rubio Canyon, we saw the historical marker for the old right-of-way from the Mt. Lowe Railway.

At the top of the hill, we continued on Alta Loma to Lincoln Ave, and then down to Mendocino. We took Mendocino back across Altadena, and then back to the park.

It was a very pleasant spring ride.

50 miles.



4/2/2005

Insert a quarter to activate the Devil

Filed under: — stan @ 6:08 pm

dancing devilWe went to the Museum of Neon Art today. This is the last weekend for the current exhibit, so we wanted to see it before it went away. And we were not disappointed.

The exhibit had two parts. One part was neon beer signs and old neon business signs from the ’50s. There were some great old signs there, although sadly, the ceiling was too low for some. So we had to make do with the neon sign for “Al’s LIQ”, because that was all that would fit. The other part of the exhibit was neon and other electric sculptures. One piece we particularly liked was “A Dime a Dance”. This was a four-foot-tall Satan puppet on strings. He was standing on top of a lucite box with a neon sign inside it. The card said, “Insert a quarter to activate the Devil”. We just couldn’t resist that. The speakers began to play “Pipeline”, and the Devil danced for us. It was great fun.

After dancing with the Devil, we went outside and Lucinda played in the park next to the museum. Then we went to Chinatown and had Dim Sum at Empress Pavillion.. We’ve been going there since it opened in 1989 or so. It’s always packed, even though I think the food is a bit overrated. The restaurants in San Gabriel are just as good or better. But Empress Pavillion is still one of the best-known Dim Sum places in L.A. And it was good.

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