Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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New pup

Filed under: — stan @ 6:28 pm

We got a new puppy yesterday. Some years ago, we’d promised Lucinda that we’d get her a puppy when we lost one of the other dogs. With Buddy gone, we decided it was time to go ahead. Cathy had started scouting a few weeks ago when we knew this was coming, so we were ready.

Bella is a chihuahua-mix who we found from Ruff Riders Rescue. Lucinda wanted to have a small dog. She is estimated to be about four months old, and she has a very nice personality. And of course, she’s very cute. So Lucinda is happy.

San Dimas and West Covina

Filed under: — stan @ 5:30 pm

After yesterday’s debacle, today’s ride was very pleasant. Even if we didn’t really go anywhere in particular.

We started out from Victory Park and basically headed straight east all the way out to Azusa. Then we went south a bit and then east some more to Covina. It was almost completely flat, and with a slight headwind.

In Covina, we headed south and then dipped into San Dimas for a bit. We went up a couple of nice hills, and then started back. There was supposed to be a little ‘extra credit’ detour that took in a couple more hills, but we all missed the turnoff for that. Dunno why.

The snack stop was at Panera in West Covina. There was a very long line, but the bagels were good. Afterward, we took a group picture, since five of us were wearing our custom Sunday Morning Ride jerseys that Newton designed. Of course, since he picked the colors, he’s the one in the picture whose helmet matches.

The route back was pretty straightforward. Through Baldwin Park into El Monte. That was where I got the picture of the “PAINLESS DENTAL” sign with the fine print, “Our goal is“. Then up to Arcadia and back into Pasadena. We saw some peacocks in Arcadia.

It was a very nice ride.

46 miles.


I’d like to call this ‘a cautionary tale’…

Filed under: — stan @ 1:18 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride began badly and never really recovered. I’d like to call it ‘a cautionary tale’, but sadly, there really was no message of caution to be taken from the experience. About the best thing that you could say was that nobody died. Still, it’s disturbing how fleeting life is. You can be just going along, minding your own business, and you can suddenly be taken out by someone else who does something egregiously stupid.

I rode down the Victory Park to meet up with the Foothill Cycle Saturday ride. From there, we rode south into San Marino. And that was where our troubles began. We were riding down San Marino Blvd when we were passed by a silver Mercedes driven by a teenage girl. She immediately put on her brakes and turned into a driveway. Tom and Ben were in the lead, and they both crashed into her car. The rest of us managed to stop in time. I got out my camera and started taking pictures just to document the scene in case there was any dispute about what happened.

It appeared that what she did was an honest mistake, albeit an extremely stupid one. A lot of motorists seem to regard bicycles as stationary objects, and they don’t understand that you can’t just stop and turn right after passing them.

After taking a few pictures of the scene, I took out my phone and called 911. That connected me to the California Highway Patrol, which wasn’t much use, since we were nowhere near a freeway. So I hung up and tried to call the Pasadena Police. As is the case with these sorts of things, I suddenly drew a blank on the number. So perhaps one lesson of this is to program the phone number of the police into the cell phone.

When I remembered the number, I called and told the dispatcher what had happened. She was very helpful, and connected me through to the San Marino Police. Have I mentioned lately that Pasadena has great city services? They said that they would send a car and the paramedics out. Within two minutes, they were there. San Marino also has great city services.

The police took reports from all of us, and I gave them my card in case they want the pictures. By then, the girl’s father had shown up. They offered to take Ben’s broken bike down to Temple City Bikes. It appeared that they were really making a good-faith effort to help out, which was a good thing.

The paramedics put Ben in the ambulance to take him to the hospital to be checked out. He said that he didn’t think he was badly hurt, but it seemed the prudent thing to do. Tom’s house was nearby, and he felt good enough to ride home, so he said he would call Ben’s family and tell them what had happened.

After all of this. a few of us decided to keep on riding. If you dwell too much on all the bad things that can happen to you, you’d never leave the house. So we soldiered on.

In South Pasadena, we rode up a very steep and generally nice hill. Then we rode slowly down the other side. We were all still a bit spooked.

We rode down past the stables on San Pasqual and then up the west side of the arroyo. I was slightly amused when we found ourselves riding on Easy St. Then we went up Patrician Way and down Glenoaks to just above the Rose Bowl. From there, the ride went back to the park. It was still early, so I went left on Lida and rode up and over the hill there.

I finished off the ride by going back across Pasadena to home.

I’d like to say it was a nice ride, but that’s not really possible, given what happened.

39 miles.


They say ‘all politics is local’…

Filed under: — stan @ 7:39 pm

There are a couple of local political issues going on here in Pasadena right now. So I just wanted to mention them.

First is Measure A, which is an attempt at a referendum on trying to get an NFL team at the Rose Bowl. Los Angeles has been without a football team since 1995, and we’ve been getting along quite nicely without it. There have been efforts to get a team back here, but the NFL always seems to want the city to pay for either a new stadium or major renovations to an old one. This seems like a bad deal. Now they say that having a team would bring untold riches to Pasadena, which seems doubtful. What it would do is cause all manner of disruption to the area around the Rose Bowl. And again, we’re doing fine without it.

I read part of the text of the actual proposal. I didn’t read the whole thing, because it’s 96 pages long. But they laid out the basic argument for it in the first 10 pages. They say that the city is currently on the hook for several million dollars worth of maintenance and improvements to the stadium. They claim that the NFL would pay for this and more. That the NFL would sink something like 500 million dollars into the stadium. This seems very far-fetched. Judging by the past, the NFL usually wants to spend that much money on its stadiums, but they prefer to spend someone else’s money. Like ours. So even if this passes, it seems unlikely that the NFL would actually agree to its terms.

The second issue is that someone has bought the old Shakey’s Pizza at 2180 E. Foothill Blvd and wants to build a strip club at the site. Apparently, the city made rules years ago that forced all the ‘adult’ businesses like that out, and it seems that they want to keep it that way. But the courts decided some time ago that cities have to make some accomodations in their zoning to allow these sorts of things somewhere, and apparently the old Shakey’s qualifies. So the city council is trying to figure out a way to change the rules to not allow it. Changing the rules to not allow something is just because someone is uncomfortable with it is just not fair. And they are bandying about all sorts of improbable statistics in support of this, like claiming that a strip club would cause a 100% increase in crime and such. Sheesh. We’ve lived near things like this before, and it’s not that big of a deal.

You can read about the latest on this at the Pasadena Star-News web site.

But what it all really comes down to is: we hate football, but we like strip clubs. So there.

Wednesday lunchtime ride up Lida

Filed under: — stan @ 5:36 pm

Route map and photo locations

We have a couple more weeks before the time change, so today I went riding with Vikki at lunchtime again. We did the fast-becoming-classic Lida Loop.

It was a perfect fall day today. The air was cool, the sun was warm, and it was stunningly clear. A perfect day for riding.

We rode from the office, going through Old Town to get to the Rose Bowl. Then we went up the hill on Lida. On the way up, I saw that the coyote paw that I saw last week was still there. I thought some animal or another would have taken it away to gnaw on by now.

When we got to the top, we flew down the other side into La Cañada and then back into Pasadena. The one picture I took was of the view of the mountains from the road just below JPL.

Crossing Pasadena on Mendocino, we rode to just before the Altadena Country Club. Then it was straight down the big hill back to the office.

As I said, it was a perfect day for riding.

18 miles at lunch, 26 for the day.


Playing tourist in Los Angeles

Filed under: — stan @ 7:03 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s Sunday club ride was a sightseeing trip to Downtown Los Angeles. I had read that they had a fake toll plaza built on 4th St as a set for “Live Free or Die Hard“. It was a kind of dreary day, with a slight misting drizzle, so there were only five of us today.

We rode down Sierra Madre and Huntington Drive to get to Downtown. On the way, I picked up another couch for the Abandoned Couches Blog. Then we took Main St into Downtown.

Crossing the 101 Freeway, we passed the old Hall of Justice. This building was ‘home away from home’ for Sirhan Sirhan and Charles Manson, as well as being Control Secret Headquarters in the title sequence from “Get Smart”.

We took a right on Temple and then a left on Grand to ride down through the towers on Bunker Hill. At the overpass where Grand goes over 4th St, we stopped and saw the ‘Toll Plaza’. It certainly looked real. The toll booths looked real, and they’d painted lines on the street so the whole thing looked like it had always been there.

We rode around to Hope St to get a better view. At the top of the ramp, there was a broken NYPD police barricade. The guard there told us they had filmed a stunt there yesterday. He showed us how the barricade was built of balsa wood, and it had cuts in it so that it would break in predetermined places. I got a picture of Vikki lifting it up to see how light it was.

Leaving Downtown, we rode down Grand to Wilshire. This is where we saw the street dressed up as Tokyo last winter. This time it was just plain Los Angeles.

Continuing on, we took Wilshire through MacArthur Park, passing the über-cool American Cement Association building. It’s been converted into lofts, and it’s a very dramatic building.

Turning off Wilshire on Alexandria, we rode up to 2nd St, where I picked up some more couches. Then we turned right on Larchmont and went to Noah’s Bagels for a snack.

At Melrose, we passed Paramount Studios, as well as a big sign for a burlesque show. Looks like fun. Then we took Bronson north all the way to Franklin. Then we turned right and rode over the Shakespeare Bridge to Rowena Ave.

At Fletcher and Riverside, I stopped to get a new picture of the hillside art project. Then we rode up through Eagle Rock to Yosemite Dr. I picked up one more couch there. Then we took the ’shortcut’ up the Colorado Hill. It’s short and sweet. I actually said ‘uncle’ and shifted to a lower gear to get up the hill.

The last bit was to take Orange Grove and Paloma back to the park. At that point, I had 38 miles, so I rode out to Sierra Madre and back just to pad it a bit.

42 miles.



Filed under: — stan @ 8:20 pm

We had to put Buddy to sleep today. This was a very hard thing to do, since Buddy is one of the sweetest and most affectionate dogs we’ve ever known. But he’s a biter.

Buddy has been part of our family for four years. For reasons nobody can seem to remember, we’ve always been calling him “Butt-Boy”. When we first adopted him, he decided that he was Lucinda’s dog. He was always very affectionate with her, and he stayed close to her all the time. Lucinda liked to play with him and get him to jump for treats. But he was always good with her, no matter what she did to him.

About three weeks ago, he bit a workman who was in our neighbor’s yard. This was the fourth time he’s bitten someone in four years we’ve had him. We took him to training classes, we got a muzzle, we got an electric-shock training collar. Still, he just would go berserk at completely unpredictable times and bite.

So in the end, we decided that we just couldn’t live with the uncertainty and the liability of having a dog who bites. And nobody else wants to adopt a dog who bites.

Good-bye Buddy. We will miss you.


Lida at Lunchtime

Filed under: — stan @ 5:29 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s lunchtime ride was the Lida Loop again. Vikki couldn’t go, since she is still recovering from the Furnace Creek 508 last weekend. Her team did well, though.

I left the office and took the usual route through Old Town and then down to the Rose Bowl. Then I went up the little hill on the other side to get to Lida St. On the way up the hill on Lida, I saw a paw in the road. It looked like it came from a coyote or perhaps a medium-sized dog. There was no evidence of the rest of the animal nearby.

Continuing up over the hill, I rode down Chevy Chase into La Cañada and then back into Pasadena by JPL. I saw Shannon at her house and stopped to chat for a bit. I also took a picture of her little driveway art installation.

From there, I got on Mendocino for the ride across Altadena. At one point, a little tiny dog chased me down the street. I had to outrun him, since I’d forgotten to wear my chain-mail socks today.

A little bit farther down the road I saw some filming going on. No sign of what they were filming, though.

The last part of the ride was down the big hill and back to the office. It was a very pleasant ride.

18 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.


Columbus Day

Filed under: — stan @ 8:08 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today is the Columbus Day holiday, which means a day off for government workers. So I went for a bike ride.

The ride was a sightseeing trip up into La Crescenta and Tujunga. In particular, I wanted to see Pine Cone Road, which figures prominently in John McPhee’s book, The Control of Nature. In the opening of the third section of the book, he describes a night of heavy rain and its resulting debris flow. The flow came down Pine Cone Road and buried the house at the bottom of the hill. But the house was no ordinary house. It had reinforced concrete walls and was nicknamed “The Fort”. It filled up with mud and rocks, but was otherwise undamaged. So I figured that this would make for a good sightseeing trip.

I rode up to La Cañada and met up with Erik. He works in my office, and so we both had the holiday off. We rode up to Rosemont and then turned up the hill.

The sides of the Crescenta Valley are pretty steep. And they get steeper up near the top. This road was no exception. We took it all the way to where it ended, and then we turned to go west a bit to La Crescenta Blvd, which then went farther up the slope. Then, at the top, we saw Lower Shields Debris Basin. A quick right turn brought us to the base of Pine Cone Road, and to “The Fort”. The house looks pretty sturdy. In the book, McPhee mentions that when the owners rebuilt, they added a second floor and put the bedrooms upstairs. And the house is still there today.

In the book, McPhee also mentions the steepness of Pine Cone Road. He says it is “steep enough to stiff a Maserati”. Needless to say, I wanted to ride up it. It was steep, but not the steepest hill I’ve ever seen. It was probably about 20-25%. Still, it was a good climb up the top. At the top was Upper Shields Debris Basin, and also a commanding view.

Coming down off the hill, we rode up into Tujunga. This was for a quick side trip to see Elliott’s house from “E.T.” This house is also at the top of steep hill.

From there, it was all downhill. We took Tujunga Canyon down to where it turns into Honolulu. Incidentally, this is also where they had a temporary internment camp for Japanese-Americans in 1941 before they were shipped off to Manzanar.

Continuing on down the hill, we went into Glendale, and then took a left on Chevy Chase to ride back up and over the hill. On the way up Chevy Chase, we saw a bobcat. This was the first time I’d ever seen one in the wild, if a suburban yard in Glendale counts as ‘the wild’. I took a couple of pictures of it to commemorate the occasion.

Continuing on Chevy Chase, we climbed the hill and headed down the other side, back into La Cañada. At the bottom, Erik headed for home, and I headed east, back into Pasadena. I took the ’scenic route’ home, up to Mendocino and then home by way of side streets. Along the way, I came upon a hawk that had just killed a pigeon. It was standing on top of the pigeon carcass in the middle of the street. When it saw me coming, it picked up the pigeon and started to fly. It was apparently a pretty big effort to fly while carrying a dead pigeon, so the hawk just flew up into the first tree, and it just sat on a branch there. So I took a picture of it.

It was a fun ride.

43 miles.


Standing on the edge of the continent

Filed under: — stan @ 9:54 pm

Today we went down to San Diego to visit with Grandpa. We took the train, which is generally fairly pleasant. When we got there, we went to brunch at a restaurant right on the beach. So Lucinda got to play in the waves a bit. We also saw some seals swimming by.

We had a nice time visiting. Then, when it was time to come home, the screwup began. When we got to Grandpa’s car in the bowels of the parking garage, he thought I had the key, and I thought he had the key. But no, the key was up in his apartment. So we had to climb the stairs back to the lobby and then get the security guy to let us in to the apartment to get the keys. So we left late for the train station. On the way there, we consoled ourselve by noting that the northbound train is always late. And when we got to the station, we found out that it was in fact 9 minutes late. The problem was, we were 10 minutes late. And we got there just in time to see the red tail light on the train leaving the station.

So we went and got a little takeout dinner and waited for the next train. Naturally, it too was late. But in the end, we got home fine, and just a little worse for wear.

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