Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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10/7/2005

I made it to the front page of CNN

Filed under: — stan @ 1:00 pm

Admittedly, this is still a bit odd…

screenshot

Spotlight

Filed under: — stan @ 12:28 pm


Lucinda got a “Spotlight Award” at school today. They gave out a couple of awards to kids in each class in the school. We don’t actually know how the kids were selected for this, but we thought it prudent to be supportive and enthusiastic for her.

10/5/2005

I hate to travel

Filed under: — stan @ 6:11 pm

I hate to travel. Mostly, I just hate being anywhere that is:

  • Not home;
  • Not Los Angeles

So this week I went on an overnight trip for work. The trip was to the Bay Area, which is actually not a bad place in its own right. But I just hate to travel. Whenever I’m traveling, I feel like the hapless Traveler from National Lampoon, circa 1973:

“The Traveler will find the local currency incomprehensible and will be unable to fit it in his wallet.”

I started out at Bob Hope Airport. I’m not sure exactly why I find this funny, but it is. Orange County has John Wayne Airport. So naming the little Burbank airport for Bob Hope makes some sense. We practically flew over his old house on the climb out.

The trip to San Jose took about an hour, which is not bad. I’ve only been to San Jose airport once before, and this was the first time for renting a car there. So I followed the signs — and ended up standing outside at a shuttle bus stop. OK. So I got on the bus. And here is where it took me:

After all that foolishness, the car renting thing was pretty easy. Except that they didn’t have any more smallish cars like I’d requested. So they offered me a minivan. Yikes. But I didn’t want to have to wait some more, so I took it and headed out up the 101 freeway.

Now I’ve noticed that the Bay Area really doesn’t look much at all like Los Angeles. And that’s all right. But I did miss the big lighted street signs we have here. I missed a couple of turns on my way to the hotel because the streets were not well-marked, and the signs were hard to see in the dark. I guess that was my punishment for trying to minimize my time-away-from-home by leaving late and arriving after dark.

In honor of Chuck and his ‘view from here’ series, I stuck my camera up to the window and snapped a picture of the Jack-in-the-Box drive-through next door. That was about it for scenery. The other windows in the room looked into a hallway.

The next day was all-meeting, all-the-time. Which was good, since that was the whole reason for the trip. In the morning before we started I got to tour around the Menlo Park USGS campus, which is kind of fun. I always chuckle at the reinforced building. Earthquake scientists are generally more aware of earthquake safety than the average person, but the big steel girders on the outside of the building are just a bit over-the-top.

After the meeting broke up I went around a bit more to visit and to see my computers there. I have a set of computers that I administer that I’d never seen, so I was curious what they looked like.

Then I headed back to the airport. At 5:00PM. People like to complain about traffic in L.A., but the 101 heading south to San Jose was pretty bad by any standard. One thing that was funny was the sign I saw that reminded me of just how far from home I was:

  • Los Angeles 404 miles

When I finally got to the airport, I returned my rental car and then decided to do something subversive. There was a whole crowd of people waiting for the bus back to the terminal. So I decided to walk. While there were no signs that this was prohibited, they certainly didn’t try to encourage it in any way. It turned out to be something of an overland bushwhack. There was no sidewalk. The sprinklers were running. And I think there was a troll under the bridge. On the way, I also noticed a ‘Bike Route’ sign on the road there. I ride in a lot of crazy places, but I would not choose to ride a bike anywhere near that airport. I can’t believe they went to the trouble of putting up ‘Bike Route’ signs in a place where nobody would want to ride, yet they didn’t build sidewalks in a place where many people could choose to walk.

Check out the walking route

After running the aquatic gauntlet, I got to the terminal. I beat the bus. And I was able to change to an earlier flight. Things were looking up. We took off right at sunset, so the view out the right side was great, with Monterey Bay and a stunning red sunset. Soon after, we were landing in Burbank and I finally got to go home. I was gone for 28 hours. I’m such a poor traveler.

This is a first for me

Filed under: — stan @ 3:49 pm

Heh. This is the first time I’ve noticed a hurricane with my name on it:



10/2/2005

Mother on Fire

Filed under: — stan @ 6:42 pm

mother on fire
Today we went to see Sandra Tsing Loh’s new show, “Mother on Fire“.

Sandra Tsing Loh and I have similar backgrounds. We’re both half Chinese and half German. We both got degrees in Physics from major universities. We both spent some time working in the aerospace gulag of Hughes Aircraft. But then she went off into performing arts and writing, while I became a computer nerd.

Her latest show is about parenthood, and particularly about the travails of trying to get her daughter into a good school in Los Angeles. Having just been through that particular crucible last year, we were primed for a good time. And she did not disappoint. The show was a hoot, with stories about the Los Angeles Unified School District, where the kids eat candy and are stalked by an obese mountain lion in the hallways, to a bidding war over a house in La Cañada and talk of moving to Utah. It was hugely entertaining and tremendously funny.

If you’re in Los Angeles, go see this show.

Whittier Narrows

Filed under: — stan @ 12:44 pm

Today’s ride was down to Whittier Narrows and back. This was a good choice for today, since a lot of our regular routes go into areas that have a lot of smoke from the brush fires in the mountains this week.

We started off heading east through Arcadia and Monrovia. We took the upland route through Monrovia to get in a little hill. That was where Doug broke his chain. I’ve been cycling seriously since 1973, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen a chain break. I’ve heard of it before, but this is the first time I’ve seen it happen. It’s not a flat tire, but it was unusual enough that I took a picture to put in the Flat Tire Gallery

After the chain repair, we continued on, passing through Duarte and getting on the San Gabriel River bike path. We took the path all the way over Santa Fe Dam and down the river. There were two places where the path was being rebuilt. The pavement was gone, and we had just dirt and loose sand to ride on. At the second spot, there were some trenches for the new construction, so we had no choice but to hoist the bikes up and carry them through.

When we got down to Whittier Narrows Dam, we took the cross path to get to Durfee Ave. That was where Gene got a flat. So we stopped at the corner of Rosemead and Durfee and he fixed his tire. For some reason, it smelled like a sewage treatment plant there. I’ve still got a stuffy nose from being sick this week, but it was still pretty rank. After putting in a spare tube, Gene started pumping up the tire. Then the valve stem snapped off. In 30+ years of cycling, I’ve seen this happen several times. So he had to put in his second spare tube. Since this was caused by something other than the initial puncture, I figured it constituted a ’second flat’, so I took another picture.

After the tire repair, we took the Rio Hondo bike path back up to Lower Azusa Road. We got off the bike path there and went west a bit to El Monte Ave. This is the street with the biggest bike lane ever. We rode this all the way up to Duarte Road. Then we took a left and a right, ending up on Huntington Drive.

Huntington Drive took us back through San Marino. At Old Mill Road we took a right, taking that and El Molino Ave back up into Pasadena. Then we stopped for a snack at the Corner Bakery on Lake Ave.

The last part of the ride was across the Caltech campus and then home by way of San Pasqual and Altadena Drive.

49 miles.


cycling

10/1/2005

My domain is broken…

Filed under: — stan @ 1:52 pm

We’ve had the ‘cosmo.pasadena.ca.us’ domain for our home mail server for over six years now, and it stopped working yesterday. It turns out that the delegated manager for ‘pasadena.ca.us’ went out of business some years ago. This is why I wasn’t able to contact them last year when I moved our web site to 1134.org. So apparently Neustar decided to take back ‘pasadena.ca.us’, since the former manager of the domain was defunct. And in the process they lost my subdomain. I contacted them and they said I have to fill out some paperwork, get it notarized, and mail it to them with a copy of my driver’s license. And then maybe I can have my domain back.

In the meantime, our email is broken. Mail to us just bounces with a ‘no such domain’ error.

More construction

Filed under: — stan @ 1:42 pm

Our house is an odd mish-mash of add-ons and little projects. The former owner’s name was Floyd, and he did lots of projects around the house over the years. And they have left all sorts of little traces. One big trace was the window into the laundry room. The laundry room used to be the back porch. When Floyd built the family room, he turned the former back door into a window that looked out on the porch. But then he built the porch into a room. So what used to be the back door was now a window looking into the laundry room. Very odd and basically useless.

We’ve been meaning to do something about that window for nearly ten years now, and today was the day. I finished tearing out the remains of the old door frame. Then I built a new frame to fit into the space. It was a nice, snug fit. I had to whack it with the hand sledge to get it into place. The last step was to cover the opening with plywood. Floyd’s home improvement projects tended to be done with whatever scraps and junk he had lying around. So in memory of Floyd, I scrounged a piece of plywood from our neighbor’s re-roofing project to use to cover up the old window. It seemed a fitting tribute to the spirit of Floyd.

That’s all for today, but I’m planning on getting some paneling to just replace the paneling on the wall to cover where the window was. On the other side, I’m going to put up drywall. But those are projects for another day.

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