Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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I’m still a poor traveler

Filed under: — stan @ 6:22 pm

I had to take a trip to the Bay Area for work. Since I hate to travel, I decided that I would try and make it as much of a fun adventure as possible.

The trip up was fine. It was a little unusual to see another airplane landing right next to us in San Jose, but it was interesting to watch. Since my last trip, I figured out that I don’t want to wait for the car-rental-shuttle bus. It’s stupid. 3 1/2 miles on the bus to get to a place that’s 400 yards from the terminal. So I did the overland bushwhack on foot to get to the car rental lot. They were out of the tiny little cars that I’d asked for, so I ended up with a big and comfy car. It was fine.

When I got to the office, it was all-meeting, all-the-time. Which was fine. We had lunch at a nice little restaurant in Menlo Park.

At the end of the day, I got out my directions and got in the car to go up to Sonoma State University. My old net.friend Sara was on a trip there. In nearly ten years that I’ve known her, this is the first time we’ve ever been in the same state at the same time. So I figured it was worth 77 miles to visit. On the way up, I played tourist a little bit. The row houses in San Francisco were painted some amusing colors. And I’d never been across the Golden Gate Bridge before.

When I got up to Sonoma, I found Sara in Target. The airline had lost her luggage, so she was buying essential items. We had dinner at Applebee’s, which was about the only sit-down restauraunt in sight there. And while we were having dinner, I got to see her geeky side, text messaging herself as a method of taking notes. We had a nice time visiting.

Tuesday was another all-day meeting. I also got to go in Building 2 for the first time. This is another of the buildings there that have been reinforced with big obvious steel girders on the outside. From the picture, could you guess that earthquake scientists work inside? Lunch was at Angelo Mio, which used to be my favorite restaurant there, but it’s apparently changed owners over the years. It was still good, but not quite as good as before.

For dinner on Tuesday, I met up with Grace, who was over the hill from Santa Cruz to get her knee injected. She also brought along the famous Malcolm. We had a nice dinner at the Left Bank, where they had tables outside so we could sit with Malcolm, and Grace could feed him little bits of calamari. Malcolm was very cute and friendly. He sat on my lap, but I think that was just so he could get a better view of the food on the next table. At the end of dinner, I took our souvenier photo Myspace-style. Single-handed with the camera at arm’s length.

Wednesday was more meeting, followed by the trip home. We got finished a little bit early, so I managed to get on an earlier flight back. Total time away from home: 54 hours.


Mercury in retrograde…

Filed under: — stan @ 5:37 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was a sightseeing trip to see two castles in the Hollywood Hills.

We started out on Paloma, and we hadn’t gone more than a few blocks when Michael had to stop. His pedal was coming off. I had a look at it, and it appeared that the last mechanic who worked on it had cross-threaded it. The crank threads were stripped out, and it was a total loss. So he pulled out his phone to call home for help, while the rest of us continued on.

The church in Eagle Rock didn’t have a witty sign up today. Just a hand-lettered paper saying that the sign was being rebuilt. Maybe they need to use the Church Sign Generator.

When we started up the little hill on St. George, Matt and Newton blasted by me. I got out of the saddle to chase them and PANG!!! It was a tremendous spoke-breaking noise. But when I looked down, my wheel wasn’t wobbling too badly. So I rode up the hill and we found a shady spot to stop and have a look. I’d broken two spokes, right next to each other. So that explained why the wheel was still mostly straight, but just hopping a little. There really was nothing to do but go on.

We turned off Franklin and headed up the hill. The streets up there are narrow and rough. But they are also very quiet. We rode up Hollyridge to the first castle. On the way up, we passed another house with a castle-like stone wall in front. But it wasn’t the real castle. When we reached the real castle, it was quite obvious.

From there, we rode down into the canyon below the Hollywood sign. Then we rode up the other side, coming out at the top of the ridge by Wolf’s Lair Castle. I took a couple of pictures there before we saw Gene walking up the street, holding his broken chain like a dead snake. We were all astounded by this, since we’d had a very bad run of mechanical problems today. Doug mentioned that someone he knows always says that when Mercury is in retrograde, it’s bad for mechanical things. Not that any of us believes in astrology, but that’s about as good an explanation as any for what happened.

Someone had a chain tool, and Gene had a quick-fix link, so they pieced it back together. While they were doing that, a very attractive young woman on a bike stopped to chat for a few minutes. She said that she lives close by there in the hills. Sadly, that probably means she won’t ever come out to Pasadena to ride with us.

When the chain was fixed, we started out again, heading toward the Hollywood sign. When we got to the junction at Mulholland, we’d lost most of the group. I rode part way back and didn’t find them. So I pulled out my phone and called Newton. He said that Gene’s chain had broken again and that they were still back at Wolf’s Lair. So they ended up having to take several links out of the chain to get it to go back together.

While we were waiting for them, Doug and I rode the short distance up Mulholland to get a close-up view of the Hollywood Sign. Then when we were re-grouped, we headed down the hill to Lake Hollywood. From there, we rode up one more steep hill and then down to Barham for the long downhill into Burbank. When we got there, we stopped at Priscilla’s for snacks.

On the way down the last hill, I had noticed that my handlebar tape was unraveling. I had lost my handlebar plug, so the tape was coming undone and flapping in the wind. Is there no end to the torment? I ended up stuffing it with a paper napkin for the ride home.

After the stop, we headed back home by the most direct route possible. Being on gimpy bikes tends not to encourage taking the Long Way Home. Fortunately, we managed to make it back to Pasadena without further incident.

43 miles, one stripped pedal, two broken spokes, one broken chain, and unraveling handlebar tape.


Lunchtime bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 8:23 pm

Today’s ride was an easy, flat one. We rode east through Arcadia and Temple City, and then north to Sierra Madre.

The only picture I took was of a half-finished topiary rocking horse on Grand View in Sierra Madre.

From there, we came back into Pasadena on Sierra Madre Blvd, and then back to the office. It was a bit cooler today than it’s been lately. Still hot, but not like the last week.

19 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.

Schadenfreude, anyone?

Filed under: — stan @ 1:01 pm

Enron founder Ken Lay dies

Lay “suffered a massive coronary and died,” according to his pastor, Dr. Steve Wende of Houston’s First United Methodist Church. “Apparently, his heart simply gave out.”

I think there are several snarky comments about that that are fairly begging to be made…

Actually, the only reason I mention this is just to have an occasion to use the word schadenfreude. Truly a $10 word if there ever was one.


“I’m George Page for Nature…”

Filed under: — stan @ 7:17 am

I was reading the L.A. Times obituary page today, and I saw that George Page has died.

Back in 1986, when Cathy and I started dating, we pretty quickly evolved a routine where we spent every weekend together. Cathy worked at a bank at the time, so she came over to my apartment after work on Friday. She usually didn’t get there until 8:30 or so. I would have dinner ready when she got there. Then, we would spend the weekend together doing whatever, but always ending on Sunday evening with a pot of tea, a spice cake, and watching “Nature” on PBS. George Page was the creator and narrator of the show, and the introduction to every episode began with, “Hi, I’m George Page for Nature…”

It’s the end of an era.


Glendora and back

Filed under: — stan @ 1:01 pm

Today’s ride was out to Glendora, with a stop at a new coffee shop there.

We started out with a big group. Probably the biggest to come on the ride in a long time. We headed east on Longden into Live Oak and on into Arrow Highway.

At the entrance to Santa Fe Dam there was a long line of cars waiting to get into the park. None of us knew what was going on there, but whatever it was, it must be good to get that many people coming out on such a hot day.

When we got to It’s a Grind, we took three of the outside tables and dragged them over into the shade. It was only about 10:00, but it was already hot. I had a large orange juice. It was fresh-squeezed and quite good.

After the stop, we headed up Barranca to Sierra Madre. There used to be a big plant nursury up there, but it’s gone now. In its place we could see the beginnings of yet another much-needed suburban housing development. The sign said “Coming Summer 2006″. Considering that they haven’t even gotten the roads in yet, I think they’re not going to make that deadline. Even if they have the help of Sukut (”Moving Earth to Award-Winning Levels”).

Coming down into Azusa, we got on the bike path briefly to cross the river into Duarte. Then we headed west, passing by the ‘Nun Crossing‘ sign and into Monrovia. From there, we basically went straight home across Arcadia and Sierra Madre.

When we got back to the park, I had 37 miles, and it wasn’t even 11:00. So I followed Jon home to South Pasadena. We paused briefly at a new plus-size store on Colorado. I’d never seen plus-size mannequins before. Then we rode south into San Marino and then took Monterey in to South Pasadena. After Jon turned off, I continued on Monterey Road out to Arroyo and then back by way of Holly St and Orange Grove.

By the time I got home, it was very hot. But it was a nice ride.

51 miles.

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