Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Just one more thing I love about my job…

Filed under: — stan @ 11:36 pm

Today I was walking across campus to go to a meeting, and I found a chunk of dry ice on the sidewalk. There is a guy who delivers it to Chemistry on Tuesdays and Fridays, and sometimes pieces break off when he’s unloading it. They’re usually just little chips, but sometimes there are bigger pieces. One of the things I find tremendously amusing about working on the Caltech campus is that finding dry ice on the sidewalk is not all that unusual. And when I find a bigger piece, I pick it up to bring home, so Lucinda and I can play with it.

So today I found a piece that was almost the size of a brick. I got excited and picked it up. I put it in my bag. Then I realized that I was on my way to a meeting, so I couldn’t take it home. There was no way to keep it cold until it was time to go home. So, what to do?

In the end, I dropped it in one of the fountains just to watch it bubble. It was amusing in a geeky sort of way.

Have I mentioned lately that I love my job, and not just because I can find dry ice on the sidewalk?


Bubbles – almost

Filed under: — stan @ 9:51 pm

Today’s bike ride was a sightseeing trip to see the “Bubbles” art installation in Silver Lake. Sadly, we managed to miss it. I wasn’t paying attention at the right moment, and we rode right by it. When I realized we’d ridden past it, I looked at my clock, and it was still before 10:00, so it wasn’t open anyway. So we missed it. D’oh!

We started out from Victory Park under gloomy skies. It was damp and threatening to rain. Gene decided not to do the ride today because he thought we’d get rained on. But the rest of us soldiered on. We headed west and north, up to La Cañada, and then took Chevy Chase up and over the hill in to Glendale. Along the way, I saw a storefront for a soon-to-be-opened cafe. The sign was kind of funny, since I’d never seen graffiti-style Armenian writing before. But I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s in Glendale.

Then something happened that nobody quite understood, and we found ourselves on San Fernando Road. But that was all right. We just took a right on Fletcher and got back on track. Crossing the L.A. River, we entered Silver Lake. We took Silver Lake Blvd past the reservoir and down the hill, passing by the Bubbles installation. And when I realized we’d passed it, I also realized we were too early for it anyway, so we just continued on.

Riding through Koreatown and Hancock Park, we came out at 2nd and Larchmont, right across from Snow White’s Wishing Well. Then we turned and rode up Larchmont to Noah’s Bagels.

While we were having our bagels, someone said, “Where’s Ben?” That was when I noticed that he was sitting on the sidewalk behind the table next to ours. He was fixing a flat. So I leapt up and grabbed my camera to get a picture for the Flat Tire Gallery.

After the snack stop, we rode east a bit on Melrose, passing the big front gate at Paramount Pictures. Then we turned and rode up Wilton. Along the way, we passed a bunch of abandoned couches, but I wasn’t fast enough with the camera to capture them. Then we turned right on Franklin to start the ride home.

On Franklin, there was an airstream trailer that was covered in graffiti. It looked pretty odd, so I took a picture of it. Then we rode across the Shakespeare Bridge and then over to Rowena Ave to get back to Fletcher.

Going through Atwater Village, I noticed that the muffler man had been redecorated. The took the Santa hat off him, and he was repainted with hearts. I’ll try and get a picture the next time we go by there.

The route home was up Eagle Rock Blvd and then east across Highland Park. I saw a couch there, and this time I was able to get a picture, so at least I didn’t come home empty-handed. Then we turned left on Ave 64 for a final climb up Burleigh to La Loma. That was where I saw the house that looked like a giant pagoda. It was pretty funny, so I took a picture of it.

After all that, we just took Orange Grove home across Pasadena. When we got back to the park, it was pretty early, so I rode out to Sierra Madre and back for no particular reason. Then, when I got home, my odometer said 49.3, so I rode around the block just to put it over 50. We didn’t get rained on, so it was a nice ride.

50 miles

Tammy Faye Starlite’s Born Again Again!

Filed under: — stan @ 12:00 am

Tonight we went to the Renberg Theater at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center to see Tammy Faye Starlite’s Born Again Again! I’d seen a short review of her show recently, and it sounded like a hoot. She was described as being as “If John Waters and Pia Zadora had a love child”. It was also the first time we’d been to the Renberg to see someone other than Varla Jean Merman.

The show was a send-up of both country music radio and Christianity, and it was tremendously funny. The format of the show was the “KKOK Hoedown”, where Tammy was making a personal appearance on the radio show, being interviewed by the DJ, and singing songs for the listeners. She talked about her joy in being “born-again again”, and sang a rousing song:

“If you’re comin’ down sweet Jesus
won’t you come all over me!”

She also reminded us that “1 cross plus 3 nails equals 4-given”.

She told a story and sang a song about one of her many marriages. And we all sang along with her:

“Did I shave my vagina for this?”

But then she told us about her most recent marriage, and how she was “with child” again. She came out into the audience and had people put their hands on her stomach while singing “God Has Lodged a Tenant in My Uterus”.

This was all tremendously funny and entertaining.


Theme days at school

Filed under: — stan @ 10:01 am

Friday was “Wear your favorite sports team’s jersey to school” day at Lucinda’s school. But we don’t really follow sports in our house. So we were kind of at a loss at first. The only sport we’ve ever gone to watch is bicycle racing. So Lucinda decided to wear the Navigators Cycling hat she got last year when we went to see the Tour of California. I had a Navigators jersey, so she wore that, too. So she had a team after all.



Filed under: — stan @ 1:23 pm

Cathy and Lucinda were decorating the house for Valentine’s Day. Lucinda went around and stuck little hearts on just about everything that didn’t run away. Being that Ripley is 12 and very mellow, she didn’t run away.


No ’sexy-time’ in America…

Filed under: — stan @ 10:09 pm

Today we went to the Center for Inquiry in Hollywood to hear a talk by Marty Klein titled “America’s War on Sex: Why the Christian Right is Obsessed With Your Sexuality”. This talk came highly recommended, since Nina Hartley said he was a good speaker when I’d mentioned to her that we were going to go.

His talk was very good and very entertaining. Sadly, it was also a bit depressing, but that wasn’t due to his delivery or skill. It was just the subject matter. The most memorable quote:

“Conservatives want to make government smaller. They want to shrink it down until it can fit under your bedroom door.”

Anyway, it was a fun time, and afterward, we went to Babeland and bought a new sex toy. That seemed appropriate in some way.

And Nina was right. Marty Klein is a good speaker, and if you get a chance, go see him.


A ride in the Hollywood Hills

Filed under: — stan @ 8:14 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s bike ride was a nice jaunt through the Hollywood Hills to stalk Lindsay Lohan. I’d read yesterday in the gossip column that Lindsay Lohan had checked into rehab. The article mentioned Wonderland Center. So I looked it up. They have a web site and everything. But when I saw the address, I thought, “I’ve been by there on my bike a hundred times, and I’ve never even noticed that there was anything there.” So I figured a ride out there was in order, just to see how they have the place hidden.

I started out across Pasadena on Orange Grove. Then I went down the Colorado Hill, but I took the ’shortcut’. I’d never been down Brixton before. It’s steep, so going down was a whole lot easier than going up. Then I took Yosemite and Eagle Rock Blvd down through Glassell Park.

The church on Eagle Rock Blvd had a new sign up today, so I got a picture. Then I took Fletcher down to the river, pausing to take a couple of pictures of the Muffler Men in Atwater Village.

Crossing the river, I rode through Silver Lake and over the Shakespeare Bridge into Hollywood. I rode straight down Hollywood Blvd, which is always kind of a surreal experience early in the morning. At the Chinese Theater I saw a big crowd of tourists looking at the footprints and getting their pictures taken with someone dressed as Charlie Chaplin.

Leaving the tourist-trap Hollywood, I continued on to Nichols Canyon Road. I took a right there and headed up the canyon. Nichols Canyon is easily my favorite road in the Hollywood Hills. It’s nice and quiet, it was recently repaved, and it’s not too steep. I stopped for a picture in someone’s driveway mirror, and also for a picture of the Keith Haring mailbox.

At the top of Nichols Canyon, I took a left on Woodrow Wilson to get to Mulholland. Along the way, I passed number 7734. Our house number is ‘1134′, and I tell people it’s easy to remember because you can put it in a calculator and turn it upside-down to spell ‘hEll’. But 7734 is even better. It spells ‘hELL’. So there.

Woodrow Wilson comes out on the crest of the hill right at the intersection of Mulholland and Laurel Canyon. I went left on Mulholland to pass by the rehab center gate at 8207 Mulholland. When I got to the gate, I could see why I’d never noticed it before. It’s just a little driveway, and you can’t see the gate unless you turn and go up to the bend in the driveway. Of course, there’s no sign. There was just one lone paparazzo staked out in a Land Rover with blacked-out windows parked across the street. I snapped a quick picture of the gate and then continued on Mulholland to go refill my water bottle at Fryman Canyon Park. For some reason, I felt like I needed a drink.

I filled my water bottle up at the park and then headed back down Mulholland. At the second intersection with Woodrow Wilson, I took a left to take the shortcut down to Cahuenga Pass. I also wanted to pass by for a look at Harrison Ford’s old house, which is for sale. They’re even having an open house there on Sunday if you want to see it. It’s “Reduced!” to only $1,299,000.

Coming out down in Cahuenga Pass, I took the bridge across the freeway and then went up Wonder View to avoid riding on Cahuenga Blvd. Usually, I have trouble convincing other people to go this way, since it’s a pretty steep hill. But since I was riding alone, I was free to go up any hill I wanted. And this one was it. Then, at the top, I went down Lake Hollywood and came out on Barham for the ride down to Burbank.

I rode down through Griffith Park to Riverside, and then into Glendale. I took the direct route across Glendale to get to Colorado in Eagle Rock. Then back across Eagle Rock on Yosemite, up the Colorado Hill, and back home.

It was a pleasant ride.

47 miles.


It’s not often I get to do astronomy during the daytime

Filed under: — stan @ 11:31 pm

Today I got notice from my friend Dave that Comet McNaught is bright enough to see during the daytime. I’d heard about this comet, but it was too low during the evening to see it over the houses across the street. But the report said that it was now bright enough to see during the day. So I immediately went out to look.

I stood in the shadow of the roof of my house, but I couldn’t see it. So I got my binoculars. Then I found it. It was impressive. It was as good as the nighttime comets I’ve seen from here, since the light pollution here in Los Angeles usually makes it hard to see the comet’s tail. But this one was bright. I could see the head, and a little bit of the tail. I tried to find it with my telescope, but without stars to guide me, I couldn’t find it. Still, I was able to get a photo of it. I used my Canon S2 with about a 10x zoom. You can see the comet as a little fuzzy point in the photo. The tail doesn’t show up in the picture, but it’s still impressive that it’s visible at all.

Since I’m not a night person, it’s perhaps a bit unfortunate that I have astronomy as a hobby. So it’s nice when I get a chance to do it during the day.

Very chilly bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 9:31 pm

Today’s bike ride was held on what will probably be the coldest day of the year. It’s the coldest day I’ve ever seen here in L.A. since I moved here in 1982. It was 28 degrees on my back porch this morning. I wore almost everything I own to try to be warm, including my bagfoot. When I rode down to the park to meet the group, I slipped on some ice. That was shocking. I’ve never seen actual ice on the ground in L.A. before. It’s something that just Does Not Happen.

We started out from the park and rode over past the Rose Bowl, and then up into La Cañada. Then we went down Hospital Hill into Montrose.

In La Crescenta, we stopped to see the Rock Haven Sanitarium. Marilyn Monroe’s mother reputedly spent some time there, as well as other screen stars of bygone years.

The ride was supposed to be through La Tuna Canyon, but none of us was looking forward to freezing on the four-mile downhill into Sunland. So we decided to do a different ride. We headed down Verdugo and into Glendale. Then we took Mountain and Kenneth over to Paradise Bakery.

At Paradise, I had my usual two chocolate eclairs. They have the best chocolate eclairs there. Then we rode down Sonora to Riverside and got on the L.A. River bike path. We took the path all the way to Fletcher. At the little cul-de-sac at the end of the bike path, I saw another abandoned couch for the Abandoned Couches Blog.

The way home went up Eagle Rock Blvd and then across on Meridian St. It was there that I noticed the Vikki and Newton were twinsies today, so I took a picture of them in their nearly-matching yellow helmets and jackets. Then we rode across South Pasadena and San Marino, and finally up Sierra Madre Blvd and back to Victory Park. When I rode home across the park, I saw that the ice had melted, so guess it warmed up a little bit today.

41 miles.


Tattoos on a chilly day

Filed under: — stan @ 8:41 pm

tattoo show
Today I went out to the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona for the winter edition of the Body Art Expo. I go to all the local tattoo conventions. I have a whole circle of friends there that I see nowhere else.

Today was a beautiful day, but chilly by SoCal standards. For a tattoo convention, this is a Bad Thing. The whole idea is to be warm and comfy so that everyone can show off their decorated skins. And that all breaks down when it’s cold.

Nevertheless, I soldiered on. I saw a bunch of my tattoo friends there, which was fun. I also met a woman with a trained rat on her shoulder. She said that it was a ’service rat’ that would alert her to impending seizures. The rat had a little leash with a tag that identifed him as a service animal. That was the first time I’ve ever seen a non-dog service animal.

God’s Girls had a booth there. My friend Erica models for them. She wasn’t there, but I stopped in and talked to them a bit, so I thought I’d put in a plug for them here.

It was a fun day. I took some pictures. I visited with friends. Pictures are in my tattoo conventions gallery.

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