Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Another fun generator

Filed under: — stan @ 12:57 pm

Remember the last big Internet boom? That was the time when ‘dot-com’ meant ‘instant millions’, rather than ‘miserable failure’. And it was the time of the classic Web Economy Bullshit Generator.

I’ve got a collection of 400 screenshots of dead dot-coms, just in case you want to reminisce about Webvan or Kozmo or any of the others.

And now the web is back, so there’s a new Bullshit Generator:

The Web 2.0 Bullshit Generator

So let’s all harness citizen-media blogospheres. Yow!


More Cold War Memories

Filed under: — stan @ 8:27 pm

I got another one of my old Cold War Civil Defense booklets scanned. This one is about exercises that you and your family can do at home to prepare for nuclear holocaust.

This is the latest addition to our Cold War memorabilia. And it is another from the stash I acquired earlier this summer.

A very nice ride to nowhere

Filed under: — stan @ 2:47 pm

Today’s ride was a very pleasant ride to nowhere in particular.

We started out from Victory Park and headed east. We rode through Sierra Madre and Arcadia to Duarte. Then we took the San Gabriel River bike path up to the mouth of the canyon before turning south again and riding down through Azusa.

Next, we turned east again and rode out to Covina, and then south a bit before heading back west. We took Badillo St all the way back through Baldwin Park to get to Peck Road. Then we turned north and took Myrtle Ave into Monrovia.

When we got to Old Town Monrovia, we stopped for a snack at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf there.

The last part of the ride was straight back through Arcadia and Sierra Madre. When we got back to the park, I had 42 miles, so Ben and I rode down to Caltech. We stopped for a drink at my office, and then headed back.

It was a very pleasant ride, even if we didn’t go anywhere in particular.

50 miles.

Of course, the real fun began when I got home. I noticed that my back tire was going flat. So I took it off and found that I’d run over a tiny thorn. I looked in my patch kit, and all I had was one of those long oval patches. So I cut it in half to make two patches. I patched the tube and put the tire back on. Then, while I was pumping up the tire, the valve broke off. In over 30 years using presta valves, this is the first time I’ve had a valve break off. But the really irritating thing about it was that I’d just used my next-to-last patch fixing that tube. So I got my spare tube and put that in. But while I was levering the tire onto the rim, I suddenly heard that little exhale sound from inside, and I knew I’d just pinched the tube. Crap. I pulled out that section of tube, and there was a little rip in it. Good thing I’d cut that last patch in half. I patched the hole with the second half of my last patch, and then I carefully finished putting the tire on. It’s holding air, but I think a trip to the bike shop is on my schedule for tomorrow.


A new use for my pet project

Filed under: — stan @ 12:47 pm

I just noticed today that someone is using the email generated by my pet project to feed a blog:

Now this person is just taking the default mail profile. This is for earthquakes M5.5 and larger worldwide, and M4.5 and larger within the United States. The system allows for users to set up custom mail rules. Maybe I should figure out how to post here by email. Then I can set up a rule to have it display all earthquakes in the Los Angeles area.


Lida and a story about a bear

Filed under: — stan @ 6:27 pm

No, we didn’t see a bear on today’s ride. But a bear figured in it anyway.

I met Vikki at lunchtime and we headed out to do the Lida Loop again. There was some filming going on up the street from our office today. The crew sign said “ANONYMOUS”, which wasn’t much of a clue. But they had about the nicest portable bathroom I’ve ever seen.

We did the usual route through Old Town to the Rose Bowl, and then up and over the hill. We came down and back into Pasadena, passing JPL. It was near there that we started talking about the relative danger of different careers, and Vikki mentioned that geology is one of the most dangerous ‘white collar’ careers. I’d heard this before, and the danger is usually attributed to geologists having to spend time doing field work in remote areas.

This led to Vikki telling a very long story about a field trip she took years ago that involved helicopters, forest fires, pointed sticks, and a large bear. I can’t even begin to do the story justice here, but it was alternately inspiring and hilariously funny. So this is a reason to come along on the Foothill Cycle Sunday Morning Ride. If you come on the ride and Vikki is there, be sure to have her tell the story about the bear.

When we crossed Lake Ave and the bear story reached the part involving the pointy sticks, Vikki’s chain came off. It wedged itself between the chainring and frame. It was pretty firmly stuck, and it took us several minutes of pulling and twisting to get it unwedged. After it was all over, we realized that this would have been a picture-worthy moment, but by then it was too late.

After the chain incident, we headed back down the hill to the office, and the bear story was wrapped up. When we got back to campus, they were still filming, and there was also a news crew there. It’s unusual for news crews to show up there when there hasn’t been an earthquake. We never did find out what they were doing there.

It was a fun ride, bear and all.

18 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.


A day out playing tourist

Filed under: — stan @ 8:54 pm

Today was a day for playing tourist right here in Los Angeles.

We started out at the MPAA gallery in Beverly Hills for the “It’s Alive!” exhibit. This showed animatronic animals and monsters from movies. For some reason though, T-Rex from “Jurassic Park” just isn’t all that fearsome when he’s only 10 inches tall. We saw Aslan the lion, from “Narnia”, who apparently has no legs. And I got a picture of Cathy with Mighty Joe Young’s hand and head. It was interesting to see. The actual models were not animated, but they had TVs set up around the room showing clips from the movies that the models had been used in.

After lunch, we went to the Marvel Super Heroes exhibit at the Science Museum. This was really intended to be just a basic science exhibit for kids, and the super heroes were just there to try and get the kids interested. Still, Lucinda had some fun there, lifting the car with Iron Man’s mechanical arms and such.

The last part of the exhibit was about the history of comic-book super heroes and how they have evolved with our culture. There was a large poster of Peter Parker hanging up his Spider-suit while declaring, “and every boy… sooner or later… must put away his toys and become a man”. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought this was very sad.

Outside the museum, Lucinda did some climbing on the rock scupltures, and then she and Cathy both were swinging on the ropes attached to the ‘Big Lever’ exhibit.

By the time we were ready to leave, it was close to 5:00, so we thought we should just go to dinner, rather than brave the Los Angeles traffic to get home. Since we were close to Downtown, we went to Union Station so that Cathy could have her official Birthday Dinner at Traxx. We’ve been there a few times before, and it’s always been good. And this time was no exception. We had a very nice dinner outside in the courtyard.

It was a fun day.


Cathy’s birthday

Filed under: — stan @ 10:11 pm

It’s Cathy’s birthday, so we went down to Orange County to her parents’ house. We had lunch and a chocolate cream pie. Then Lucinda stayed there with Grandma and Grandpa while we went out for the afternoon. On the way back, Cathy got to visit with Barney the greyhound.

This was the 21st time I’ve been with Cathy on her birthday. The first was when we were first dating. I lived in a little apartment building at the time, and we were treated to one of the neighbors singing “Free Bird” really loud. We still talk about that. Today was a nice day, but not so exuberantly nice as to make either of us sing “Free Bird”. Still, we had a nice time.

Have I mentioned lately that Cathy is the best?


A trip to Westwood

Filed under: — stan @ 7:53 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was a special one. I met Gene and Jon at the park and we rode out to Westwood to do some sightseeing.

We took the standard route through South Pasadena and Highland Park. Then we crossed the L.A. River into Silver Lake, and then on into Hollywood. We rode down Hollywood Boulevard, which is always a kind of surreal experience. Then we took some back streets through West Hollywood to get to the Sunset Strip.

A couple blocks on the Strip brought us to Doheny, were we took a little side trip to see the Garagemajal. Indeed, it was big. I had a hard time fitting it all into one picture.

Next, we rode some more on Sunset and crossed into Beverly Hills. Our first sightseeing stop was at 722 Elm, which was the Menendez murder house. Then we continued on a bit to see the Witch’s house on Walden. Then we came out on Santa Monica Blvd and rode through Century City into Westwood.

The main attraction there was the Pierce Brothers cemetery. We had been there last November to visit Marilyn Monroe’s grave, and today we were there to see Rodney Dangerfield. We also stopped to see a number of others, including:

Pictures are in my Graves Gallery.

When I first came to California in 1978, I spent the spring racing my bike with the Claremont Colleges cycling team. Eric Douglas was a student at Pitzer College at the time, and I remember that everyone there regarded him as being somewhat strange. I thought that this was kind of novel, as I was usually the one the other kids thought strange, so it was odd for it to be someone else.

Dorothy Stratten was the 1980 Playmate of the Year, and I remember her just because she was the first Playmate I ever saw who was younger that I was. At the time I felt that that was something of a milestone. Of course, now I’m old enough to be the typical Playmate’s father, which I guess is also a sort of milestone. But let’s not dwell on that…

Leaving the cemetery, we rode through Holmby Hills to the park so we could get some water. While we were there, Jon bought a burrito from a catering truck. Then we headed up the hill.

The main climb was through Benedict Canyon, which is generally a pretty nice street for riding. This brought us up onto Mulholland Drive at the top of the ridge. Then we rode Mulholland all the way down to the 101 freeway in Cahuenga Pass. This was a small part of the ride that wasn’t so pleasant. Riding 20 feet away from a freeway is not very nice. But it was only for a short distance. Then we headed down the hill into Burbank and Forest Lawn.

At the entrance to Forest Lawn, there was a huge funeral procession. The main road into the cemetery was completely filled, and the line of cars waiting to get in was backed up down the road for about a half-mile. And, since we are in California, about half of the cars had only one person in them.

The last part of the ride was across Glendale and Eagle Rock. I broke a spoke in Glendale, but it turned out to be on the left side, so I was able to replace it right there. Then we took Colorado across Eagle Rock, stopping at Trader Joe’s for some orange juice.

The homestretch was up the Colorado hill and back into Pasadena. It was a nice ride.

65 miles.


My Canon commercial

Filed under: — stan @ 12:41 pm

hawkI recently got a new camera. It’s a Canon Powershot S2 IS. My last two cameras were Canons, too, and I was very happy with them.

This morning, I looked out the front window and saw a hawk on our driveway. Hawks don’t usually come this far down out of the mountains, so this was kind of a treat. It was standing there, tearing up a small piece of meat. So I grabbed the camera and went outside. I managed to get pretty close to it. Close enough that the 12x zoom got a good look at it.

Actual nature, right here in the wilds of Los Angeles.


Lunchtime bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 8:30 pm

Route map

Today we gave Lida St. a rest. For the first time in a month, we went somewhere else.

We started out across campus and down San Pasqual St to Sierra Madre Blvd. Then we went south, almost to Huntington Drive to get on Monterey Road. Then we rode west across San Marino and South Pasadena.

Just after crossing the Gold Line tracks, we turned north on Arroyo and rode back into Pasadena. We went left on La Loma and up the hill there, then north on San Rafael to Colorado. Then we went left and then right on Patrician Way to go up the hill behind Eagle Rock. We had just ridden down the hill there on the Sunday ride a couple weeks ago, but I’d never been up that way before. It was nice. On the way up, I took a couple of pictures, and I gave the camera to Vikki to take a picture, since I’m almost never in the pictures from my bike rides.

At the top, we went down the winding road down to Linda Vista. When we got to Lida St, we paused to wave at the hill. Then we went down into the arroyo and past the Rose Bowl. We rode up the other side on Washington and back across Pasadena by way of Mountain and finally down Wilson and back to the office.

19 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.

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