Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Just a quick yay for Cathy

Filed under: — stan @ 8:07 pm

Just wanted to put this picture here. We took Lucinda to a school carnival yesterday, and Cathy did some climbing too. And I think this is remarkable in a good way, since I don’t know all that many 43-year-old moms who will hang upside down from a jungle gym.

Psst – Wanna buy a house?

Filed under: — stan @ 7:32 pm

Today’s ride was the Mt Washington loop, passing the Self-Realization Fellowship. I’ve done the route map before, so if you want to see the map, just look at the time we did it last year.

It was a dreary day at the start, but we all thought it would get nice later. We started out going up Hill St to Woodbury Road, and then out to La Cañada. On the way up the first real hill, we heard a strange beeping. It turned out it was James’ heart rate monitor. He’d had an accident last fall, and was only recently able to start riding again. Today was only his second time back on the bike. So apparently the hills were getting to him.

We rode up past Descanso Gardens, and then down Hospital Hill into Montrose. Then we went left and took Verdugo Road all the way down to Eagle Rock Blvd in Glassell Park.

The road made a little loop down near the Los Angeles River, and then we took a left on Figueroa to start back north. We went just a short way to the turnoff for Mt. Washington. Then we were going up another hill. It was nice this time, since the road was recently repaved. The last time we were there the surface was utterly wretched, but this time was nice. On the way up, James turned off the alarm on his heart rate monitor so we wouldn’t have to listen to the beeping. Near the top, I snapped a picture of him that pretty much summed up the hill-climbing experience.

At the top we took a moment to regroup and catch our breath by the gates of the Self-Realization Fellowship. Then we went north on San Rafael Ave along the top of the hill, and then down the other side.

When we got to the bottom, we saw The House. I’d seen it linked on L.A. Curbed last week. It’s a tiny little run-down boarded-up shack. Only $449,000. It did have a pretty big yard, though, so maybe it’s not all that bad. But it still seems like a lot of money for a house that’s listed as “uninhabitable”.

Leaving the house behind, we passed a church with a small crowd of protesters in front. Apparently the church had made a deal with a cell-phone company to put antennas on top of the tower and these people were unhappy about it. They were saying something about it lowering property values. After seeing the shack down the street, I didn’t think that would necessarily be a bad thing…

At Ave 50, Gene took a wrong turn. Which was funny, since he’s the ride leader, and we were following his route slip. But James took off to catch him while the rest of us continued on the proper way. They caught up with us a little while later. James was red-faced, panting and sweating, but they’d caught us.

We stopped for a snack at the little coffee shop in South Pasadena. The one that has a sign advertising “Pastries Fresh Daily” next to a jar of Twinkies on the counter. Yum. While we were there, we also met Packard the dog. He’s a 17-year-old Husky mix, but very friendly.

The last part of the ride was across San Marino and back home. But when we got on Duarte Road, Newton and James took off and missed a turn. I went after them, but I lost them when I got caught at the light at Rosemead. By the time I got a green, they were long gone. I think they might be in Arizona by now. Or at least at Newton’s house in West Covina. So I just kept on riding on Duarte Road until I got out to Monrovia. Then I went north a bit on Myrtle Ave, passing “The Wizard of Bras”, and then headed home by way of Sierra Madre.

It was a nice ride.

50 miles.


Movie costumes, neon art, and lunch at a big gay hangout

Filed under: — stan @ 8:49 pm

Today we had a little adventure in Los Angeles. The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising downtown had an exhibit of costumes from movies last year. This is the same place where we saw the “Star Wars” costumes last fall. We’d only seen some of this year’s movies, but it was still fun to see them close up. We saw costumes from “Harry Potter”, “King Kong”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, and such. We also saw the figures that were used for filming “The Corpse Bride”, as well as the Vogons from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. It was a nice little adventure.

After that, we walked across the park to the Museum of Neon Art and saw the current exhibit there. MONA is still easily our favorite art museum of all.

The last part of our adventure was to go to West Hollywood for lunch at the French Market Place. This was Lucinda’s first time there, and she liked it. And we found out that, despite it being a big gay hangout, they have a children’s menu and crayons there. They also have koi pond inside the restaurant, and Lucinda liked watching the fish. So overall, it was a fun afternoon.


Noodling around the San Gabriel Valley

Filed under: — stan @ 4:45 pm

Today’s installment of the Foothill Cycle Sunday Moderate Ride was roundabout tour of Pasadena and close-by cities.

We started out from Victory Park with some nice sunshine. Right at the start I tried a quick bit of Myspace-style self-portraiture. That’s taking a picture with the camera held at arm’s-length. I take pictures on almost all the rides, but it’s rare that I actually get in any of them. So this was my attempt to make up for this. But to really get a good bike-riding picture, I need a longer arm.

We headed east to Sierra Madre Villa, and then south to Huntington Drive. From there we went west a bit and then south into Temple City. We took Broadway west back into San Gabriel, and then Mission north to San Marino.

A left on Monterey Road took us across San Marino, and then we got on El Molino and rode all the way north into Pasadena and Mountain Ave. Then we took a left to go to Lincoln and then a right onto Forest. It was there that Rick started complaining about his pedal, so we stopped to see what was wrong. It turned out that one of the screws in his cleat had fallen out, and the second was nearly out. He managed to get the one screw back in, but he had to bail and head for home at that point.

At Washington we went left and rode down past the north end of the Rose Bowl, and then up the hill on the other side to Linda Vista. We went right there and then left on Inverness to start riding up the nice hill there. We rode up for a bit to get to the place where the road was washed out. We had to squeeze in between a fencepost and a cliff to get past the barrier, and then we rode past the washout.

After that, we rode up some more on St Katherine to get to Wendover and the top of the hill. There was a nice view from up there. Then we went down San Augustine to Figueroa and Chevy Chase. A quick left on Inverness again, and we were riding along the top of the hill. Then a right on Hempstead took us back down to Chevy Chase. We went left there and rode up to Foothill Blvd in La Cañada.

We took a right on Foothill down to Oakwood, where we stopped at a little coffee shop. It was our first time stopping there, and likely the last. The people working there got everything wrong on our orders.

After the stop, we rode up Oakwood for a bit and then took a right on Knight Way. Then another right on Crown Ave to get back down to Foothill. Then we turned left and dropped down the hill to Oak Grove by JPL. A right on Oak Grove brought us back into Pasadena and Woodbury Rd.

We went left on Casitas and went up the hill to Ventura, where we took a right. At Lincoln we went left again to get up the hill to Loma Alta, right at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains. We took Loma Alta all the way up to the top of Lake Ave. Along the way I stopped for a picture of something not-quite-identifiable. It was a squashed bag with what looked like a large bird’s foot sticking out of it. Yick.

At Lake we went right, down the hill. Then a left on Mt. Curve and Maiden Ln to get to Rubio Canyon Rd. Another left took us around the mouth of Rubio Canyon and Loma Alta again. Then we went left on Pinecrest to the base of the Mt. Wilson Toll Road, which was closed by a large landslide over a year ago. The landslide was still there, and it doesn’t appear that there has been any work done on trying to clear it. You can see this in this picture taken just over a year ago. About the only thing different is that there is more vegetation growing on it now.

From there, we got on Altadena Drive and rode down the hill back to the park. At that point we had gone 35 miles, so I took Sierra Madre Blvd east to Sunnyslope to add a little bit more. I went up the hill to Grand View and then east some more to Baldwin. Then down the hill to Sierra Madre and back home.

41 miles.


An earthquake tour by bike

Filed under: — stan @ 10:40 pm

Route map and photo locations

Since this coming week is the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, I decided it was time to do a bike ride with an earthquake theme. The route was to visit a number of locations connected with the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake. As it turned out, none of my regular riding group could make it today, so this was a solo effort. The day was overcast and cool, with some intermittent light sprinkles, but overall it wasn’t a bad day for riding.

I started out heading across Pasadena to La Cañada and then up Foothill Blvd. I took Foothill all the way up to Sylmar. It was a pretty long ride, but it was all right. Once I got past Tujunga, it looked, felt, and smelled like I was out in the country. That’s always kind of a weird feeling when one is within the Los Angeles city limits.

When I got up to Sylmar, it started to look more urban, but in a barrio kind of way. That was where I saw the “Live Poultry” shop. Then I got up to where all the freeways meet at the north end of the San Fernando Valley. I stopped there to take a picture of the Los Angeles Aqueduct Cascades. This is where William Mulholland gave his famous “There it is – take it” speech back in 1913.

Then I rode up a little hill to get into the little valley where the big I-5/CA-14 freeway interchange is. The ramps here fell down in both 1971 and 1994, and the photo of the fallen overpass is one of the iconic images from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

I got a nice view of the overpasses from down below. Then I got on San Fernando Road and started back south. That was where I saw the car with the big German Shepherd sticking out of the sun roof. Then I turned right on Balboa and headed down into the Valley. I took a left of Woodley so I could come down next to the Los Angeles Reservoir. The dam here was damaged in the 1971 quake, and a large portion of the San Fernando Valley had to be evacuated for a time because of the danger that the dam would collapse. Sadly, it was not possible to actually see the dam from the road. The USGS has a fact sheet that tells the story of the dam.

At Rinaldi St I took a left. I went a short distance and then stopped at Eden Memorial Park. I’d planned on visiting Groucho Marx’s grave there, but when I saw the Star of David on the fence I knew that they would be closed on Saturday.

Continuing on, I took Maclay St back up into San Fernando. I took a right on Glenoaks Blvd., which is a big and busy street, but it has a bike lane, so it’s not all bad. I took that all the way back down to Sun Valley, passing the big landfill and recycling center (stinkeroo!) and KAOS Auto Parts. Then I turned left on Tuxford to get to La Tuna Canyon Road.

The four miles uphill in La Tuna Canyon is always fun. On the way up, I passed the Dog Resort, and also another mailbox painted with hot-rod flames. Then when I got to the top, the sun came out. I got out my sunglasses and continued down the other side into La Crescenta.

A quick trip up Hospital Hill, and then it was downhill all the way home. It was a nice ride.



The #1 thing you don’t want to see when you come around the corner…

Filed under: — stan @ 5:40 pm

This afternoon I had to go to the grocery store to pick up some things for dinner. While I was there, Cathy called me and said that our neighbor’s back house was on fire. It was fortunate that she was able to warn me about this, because there are few things more disturbing than to come around the corner and see three fire trucks and an ambulance parked in front of your house.

The fire department was very efficient, and they put the fire out pretty quickly. Have I ever mentioned that Pasadena has great city services?

Fortunately, nobody was hurt in this, although the entire neighborhood is probably going to be extra-sensitive to the smell of smoke for a while. Which is perhaps unfortunate in that I’m barbecuing dinner tonight…

Yes, we live in Earthquake Country

Filed under: — stan @ 9:11 am

Today there was a copy of “Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country” included with the morning paper. Over the last ten years, I’ve handed out many of these booklets at disaster preparedness fairs all over L.A. I’m glad to see it getting wide distribution with the Times.

Next week is the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, which was the event that pretty much started all of modern earthquake science. This is what led ultimately to the current understanding of the earthquake cycle and why we need to be prepared for earthquakes. And in some small way, it’s also what led my having a job running the computers for the Southern California Seismic Network. (Have I mentioned ever that I really like my job?) And I even got to contribute a little bit to the book. I made the map on page 30, showing the first hour’s activity after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. The ‘recent earthquakes‘ maps didn’t exist back then, but I took a catalog listing of the first hour’s earthquakes and fed them into the map program to simulate what it would have looked like.

So for everyone who lives in California, keep watching the ground. And for everyone who doesn’t, Nyeah, Nyeah! there are earthquake hazards in lots of other places, too.


House of Prince, House of Moe

Filed under: — stan @ 9:57 pm

Route map and photo locations

A couple of weeks ago, I saw an item on The Smoking Gun about how Prince was being sued by his landlord because he had painted his house purple. The copy of the document on the site gave the address, so I immediately plotted a route to ride out and see it. Today was the day for sightseeing.

I met Gene at the park, and we headed out. Right after crossing the Colorado St. Bridge, we got a very good view of the burned out mansion in the San Rafael Hills, so I stopped for picture. Then we headed down into Eagle Rock.

We took Eagle Rock Blvd and Fletcher down into Silver Lake, and then across the Shakespeare Bridge and onto Hollywood Blvd. We rode all the way across Hollywood and then took a little side trip to see Dicks St.

From there, we went back up Doheny to Sunset and headed west again. Just before the Beverly Hills line, we turned and went up into the hills. We stopped for photos at Prince’s house. We saw the “3121″ by the mailbox, which isn’t the address, but the title of his new album. The house was not purple, so I guess he had it painted again.

From there, we continued on up the hill. At first we missed a turn, so we went up a horrendous hill, only to have to come back down. Then we found Thrasher Ave, which was where Moe Howard lived. We stopped for a quick picture at Moe’s old house, and then continued on, going back down the canyon to get to Sunset Plaza.

A left turn on Sunset Plaza sent us uphill again. This time we rode all the way to the crest, stopping only briefly for a photo of the mobile dog-grooming van. There was also a construction site with a scaffold that had half of a mannequin on it. That was kind of strange and worthy of a photo. Then when we got to the top, we headed down the other side. We stopped for another photo of the foundations of a new house. Obviously, the definition of a ‘buildable lot’ is somewhat different in the hills.

Continuing on down the hill, we took a side road to get to Wonderland Ave. But Google Maps had lied to me, and the road ended partway down, so we had to turn around and come back up. Then we took Lookout Mountain the rest of the way down to Wonderland.

After a left on Wonderland, we groaned up yet another steep hill. I stopped for a picture of an Elvis mural on one house, and then we continued on to see the house that was the site of the 1981 Wonderland Murders. Then we turned back down and took Laurel Pass and Allenwood up to Mulholland. We stopped at the park there to get some water.

After just a short jaunt on Mulholland, we turned left on Laurel Canyon and headed down into the Valley. We stopped for a photo of the ruins of a house that had slid off its foundation earlier this winter. Then we went the rest of the way down the hill.

At the bottom, we stopped to see a house I’d seen on L.A. Curbed. 636 square feet on a 0.04 acre lot for $499,000. It made the $1.27 million house we’d seen in Laurel Canyon look like a bargain.

For the trip home, we took Moorpark and Riverside back across Studio City and Burbank, passing by Bob Hope’s old house in Toluca Lake. Then we went up to Kenneth and Mountain in Glendale and took them back to Verdugo.

The ride up Hospital Hill was all right. We had a little tail wind, which helped a tiny bit. Then we took the standard route home across La Cañada. I stopped to snap a picture of the Linda Vista overpass where the stencil said “LINDA VITSA”. They probably outsourced the stencil-making.

From there, it was downhill all the way home across Pasadena.

56 miles.


Dog Fun

Filed under: — stan @ 10:35 pm

Yesterday, I saw that Heather B. Armstrong had posted a video of her dog Chuck wearing an ice cream container on his face. I thought this was tremendously funny, and I showed it to Cathy and Lucinda.

This evening, I finished off a container of ice cream. Lucinda immediately grabbed it and stuck it on Buddy’s face. We didn’t think that Buddy’s head would fit in it, but it did. And from the noises coming out of it, he was having Great Fun. He was even pushing it against the furniture to get his snout deeper into it. So perhaps this can be a new blog meme. Post pictures of your dog with a Dreyer’s Ice Cream container on his face…



Filed under: — stan @ 12:56 pm

It rained yesterday. Hard. I’m usually pretty skeptical of the weather forecasts, since it’s late in the season for rain here. So I rode my bike to work and was rewarded with a very wet ride home. The worst part of it had to be the ‘rooster tail’ of water coming off the front wheel that just happened to go exactly into my eyes. Yick.

This morning the forecast was for the rain to blow out during the day. I went outside and it wasn’t raining, and there was even a little blue showing through the clouds. So I got on my bike. I made it about a half-mile when the sky just opened up. I got totally soaked. Riding home in the rain isn’t too bad, since I can dry off when I get home. But riding in to work in the rain sucks. Sitting soaked all day in the office sucks. So I turned around and went home to get the car.

When I got in the car to drive in to work the rain had stopped and the sun came out. It’s a good thing I don’t believe in God. If I did, it would be really hard not to take this personally.

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