Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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My Five Things

Filed under: — stan @ 8:52 pm

OK. Since Gilby tagged me, here are five things about me that might not be generally known:

1. I know how to do plumbing and electrical work. My father had been setting up his own chemical company when he was poisoned by methyl iodide in 1974. I had to learn to do this while he couldn’t work. And to this day, I’m not afraid to sweat-solder pipes and pull wires through walls and such.

2. I have very good lab technique. My father was a chemist (see #1 above), so I never wanted to be a chemist myself. But I took a course in it just because I was curious to be able to understand what he was talking about. One day I goofed and went to lab when I was dressed up in a white shirt, tie, and suit jacket. I made it through the three-hour lab without spilling anything. My TA was so impressed that he said he would give me extra points if I could do that every week for the rest of the semester. So I did. I never spilled anything on my clothes. But one night I forgot to change before going to dinner and I got spaghetti sauce on my white shirt.

3. In the late ’80s I worked for a time as an aerobics instructor. Back in 1983, some guys I knew used to talk about the girls they would see going into the aerobics class at Golden West College in Huntington Beach. I thought it was kind of sleazy to be just standing outside and ogling the girls. So I signed up for the class. Besides, I figured I’d get a better view from inside. And it turned out to be a lot of fun. So when they offered a ‘how to be an instructor’ class, I took it. I ended up doing it for three years at the Westchester YMCA in Los Angeles.

4. I took a course at UCLA Extension once called “Performing Stand-Up Comedy”. It was largely an exercise just to overcome my innate fear of public speaking. I never would have been able to do this if I hadn’t done the aerobics thing (see #3 above). And it was an interesting adventure. I’ve used what I learned there to help whenever I have to speak to groups in meetings at work and such. Also, the class mid-term exam was at the Laugh Factory and the final was at the Comedy Store. So I have actually performed at both those places.

5. I like country music. When I was a bike racer in the late ’70s, the car we had at the time had just an AM radio, and a poor one at that. About the only station that worked well on it was WHN in New York, which was the country station. And I grew to like it. But the experience of actually living in Texas soured me on it. I haven’t been able to stand to listen to country music since 1991, and I’m a bit sad about that.

As for who to tag with this, I guess I’m just a poor meme-transmitter. I can’t think of anyone I want to tag. Good thing it’s not a chain letter.


I have a dream…

Filed under: — stan @ 8:40 pm

That someday we might see this all across this great land of ours:

Now I know it’s probably naive to think that the Republican Party could go out of business, but hey, everybody’s entitled to have a pipe dream…


Astro Turf

Filed under: — stan @ 10:54 pm

This evening, I went over to Hollywood to the Center for Inquiry to join in their monthly Skeptic’s Book Club. I’d heard about this when Jodi mentioned it last month. This month’s book was Astro Turf. I’d read this book last year and really enjoyed it. So when I heard that M.G. Lord was going to be at the meeting tonight, I figured it was worth the trip.

The group was very pleasant. We got to ask M.G. questions about the book and about the process of researching and writing it. And M.G. signed my copy, and was even nice enough to sit for a souvenir picture. It was a very fun evening.


Five flat tires

Filed under: — stan @ 10:18 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was through Turnbull Canyon to Whittier. It was kind of a chilly day, and still wet from the rain last night.

We started out from the park, heading south and east. In El Monte, Jon got a flat. Of course, I took the obligatory picture for the Flat Tire Gallery. While he was fixing it, I had a look at the Army recruiting office there. They had a big rack outside the door with brochures in English, Spanish, and Korean. I’d never seen Army recruiting literature in Korean before.

After fixing the flat, we continued on, turning onto the San Gabriel River bike path. We rode that for a short distance to Ramona. Newton had ridden in from West Covina to meet us there. At that point, James, Jon, and Grant all missed the turn. So Newton took off after them. We figured if anyone could catch them, it was him. A few minutes later, my phone rang. It was Newton. He said that James and Jon had disappeared off into the distance and Grant had gotten a flat. So we rode down a mile or so to watch him fix it and so I could get a picture. Then we went back up to Ramona and continued on the ride.

In Baldwin Park, we passed In-N-Out Burger and their big “In-N-Out University”. Then we rode down to the north side of Turnbull Canyon Road.

Up to this point, the ride had been fairly flat, but Turnbull Canyon is a nice little hill. We rode up and regrouped at the top. I took a picture of the view of downtown L.A. from up there. Then we rode down the south side into Whittier.

Just before the bottom, Philippe got a flat. So we stopped while he fixed it. Then, when he was pumping up the tire, the valve stem snapped off. I’ve seen this happen before. I consider this to be a second flat, even though we hadn’t actually moved since the first one, so I took another picture.

When Philippe was finally inflated again, we continued on down into Whittier. We stopped at a little bakery downtown. It was pretty good, but it was kind of cold to be sitting outside.

Leaving Whittier, we rode back along Workman Mill Road to Durfee and then over to Whittier Narrows. At this point, Philippe got his third flat tire. We cheered, because this broke the old record of four flats on one ride.

From there, we took the direct route home, straight north through San Gabriel and San Marino. For some reason, this ride seemed much longer than it really was. Perhaps it was something to do with fixing all those flats. In any event, we were all ready to be done.

46 miles.


Turning night into day

Filed under: — stan @ 9:23 pm

This evening, I looked out the back of the house and I saw a glow coming from the next block. So I went outside to see what it was.

Around the corner there was a film crew with a big light on top of a crane. They were lighting up a couple of houses bordering on the former hospital up the street from our house. They do a lot of filming there, so this wasn’t anything unusual, aside from the big light. I didn’t see any snow there this time.

I took a walk around to the back and saw that the parking lot was packed as full as I’ve ever seen it. The guard told me that there were two crews working there. The big light crew was filming for “Shark“, and there was another crew filming for “Rush Hour 3” inside the hospital building. The scenes that they were filming must have taken place during the day, since they had big tents and lights set up around the windows so that it would look like day from inside.

I walked around the building and had a look at the ‘crime scene’ that the “Shark” crew had set up outside.

It’s always fun to see a little bit of how they make the illusion.



Filed under: — stan @ 6:40 pm

I got a new book yesterday. The Rejection Collection: Cartoons You Never Saw, and Never Will See, in the New Yorker. It’s a collection of cartoons by regular New Yorker cartoonists, but they are all cartoons that were rejected for one reason or another.

They range from Politically Incorrect to just plain Bad Taste, and many of them are utterly hilarious. It’s sort of a peek into what the New Yorker would be like in Bizarro World.

I like this book a lot.


Another one of those ‘noodling around’ rides

Filed under: — stan @ 5:46 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was Gene’s “Wild Oats” route, named for the fact that the snack stop is at Noah’s Bagels, right next to the big Wild Oats store on South Lake Avenue.

It was chilly in the morning, but it was sunny and clear, so it promised to warm up later on. Yesterday was the big USC-UCLA football game, and UCLA won. So Vikki showed up in her full UCLA team kit. Not that she cares about football. But she said that she knew it would annoy any USC fans who saw it.

We started out going east on Sierra Madre, all the way out to Santa Anita. Then we turned south and rode all the way down to South El Monte. There, just before Whittier Narrows, we took a small side trip. There used to be a Nike anti-aircraft missile site in South El Monte. The radar site was on top of a hill a bit to the east, and the missile launch pads were on Potrero Road. Today, it’s an army reserve site and part of Whittier Narrows Park.

Continuing on, we got on Lincoln Ave, going south into Montebello. That was where I saw another couch for the Abandoned Couches Blog.

We rode through Montebello and then back north into Monterey Park. There were a couple of nice hills, including one steep pitch that was something like 15-18%. Then we headed up into Alhambra.

Along the way, some of us missed a turn, and we ended up shortcutting about a mile off the route by mistake. But that was all right. We headed north through San Marino and up to Wild Oats and Noah’s Bagels.

We got a table outside and had our bagels, while the local pigeons pecked up crumbs around our feet. They seemed to have no fear of people.

The last part of the ride was back to the park, but by a roundabout way. We went south, and then took a small detour to pass the mansion we’d read about in the paper recently. It’s for sale for a mere $52 million. Oddly enough, they didn’t have any “Take One” flyers outside.

From there, we rode back across San Marino, up into Pasadena, and back to the park.

40 miles

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