Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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So it’s ‘delurk’ week…

Filed under: — stan @ 7:59 pm

I’ve seen everywhere else that it’s supposed to be ‘delurk’ week. According to my statistics pages, I get something like 300 people a day visiting the blog portion of my web site. On average, the whole site gets something like 2,000 visits a day.

As Butch Cassidy and Sundance said:

“Who are those guys?”

So please to be leaving comments here. Can be just an anonymous “hi”. Just make some noise or something. I can hear you breathing out there…


Another invention that changed the world

Filed under: — stan @ 9:51 pm

Momofuku Ando has died. In case you don’t know, he invented instant ramen noodles. It’s amazing how little things can change the world.

As recounted in his 2002 autobiography, “How I Invented Magic Noodles,” Ando’s eureka moment occurred in 1957, when he noticed a long line of customers waiting for service outside a noodle shop. He asked himself if there was not a faster way to serve all those busy-but-famished construction workers and salarymen

This is a story in the same class as the invention of the tortilla chip. It’s a small thing, but one that touches many people’s lives.

And I always thought it was sad that the inventor of the tortilla chip did not become fabulously wealthy. It only seems right that someone who changes the world should be rewarded. And in this case, it’s a happy ending:

The focus on convenience, taste and price turned Nissin Foods Co., his small Osaka company, into a $3-billion multinational corporation with 29 subsidiaries in 11 countries.

The full story is here:,1,1366040.story?coll=la-news-obituaries&ctrack=1&cset=true


The shortest street in L.A.

Filed under: — stan @ 5:56 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was a sightseeing trip to see Powers Place. This is reputed to be the shortest named street in Los Angeles. It is 13 feet long.

Setting out from Victory Park, we rode down Sierra Madre Blvd to Huntington Drive. Then we went right and rode almost all the way to downtown L.A. Forking off on Mission Road, we skirted the east side of downtown, passing through the warehouse district. I saw my first abandoned couch of the day there. Then we turned right on 4th St and rode across the bridge. We got a nice view of the downtown towers, as well as the Metro Red Line yards.

Coming in to Little Tokyo, we went left on Central Ave and headed down into the industrial underbelly of downtown. There was a strong smell of food processing there. Then, at Pico, we went right, and I took a picture of the Coca-Cola building there. This is a famous building that was built to resemble a ship.

Riding west on Pico, we went through the garment district, and also passed the site of the oozing oil last year. Then we rode through the convention center and on to Powers Place.

At Powers Place, I stopped for a couple of pictures. It really was that short. Then we headed north on Hoover to 11th and over to Vermont.

Vermont Ave was really wretched to ride on, but the whole point of it was to get a picture of the “Porno Mania” sign at Olympic. It’s not every day that you see a store with such a straightforward name.

Turning on Wilshire, we got off of Vermont and then took some smaller side streets to get up to 2nd St, which we rode all the way over to Larchmont. Along the way, we saw the second abandoned couch of the day, as well as the Harbin Deer Antler Trading Company. We were happy to see that the health department gave them an “A”, so they are handling the deer antlers in a sanitary manner.

At Larchmont, we stopped for a bagel at Noah’s. Then we continued north, passing by Paramount Studios on Gower. Then we heard a tremendous “POP!”. I looked back and saw Jon stopping and looking at his back tire. The tire had come off the rim and blown out the tube. There was a rip about four inches long in the tube. So I took out my camera and took a picture for the Flat Tire Gallery. Jon replaced the tube, and we were on our way again.

The rest of the ride home was the standard route back from Hollywood. Across the Shakespeare Bridge and then home by way of Fletcher, Eagle Rock, and Yosemite. That was the site of the third and final abandoned couch of the day. Then we got to the Colorado Hill. We climbed the hill and then rode back across Pasadena to the park.

Aside from the traffic on Vermont Ave, it was a very pleasant ride.

43 miles.


Magicopolis and a trip to the beach

Filed under: — stan @ 9:43 pm

Today we took Lucinda out to Santa Monica to Magicopolis. They have an afternoon show on Saturdays.

Inside the theater, I was glad to see that the building had been retrofitted for seismic safety. And in between the steel beams, they had had various famous people sign their names on the bricks. That was kind of fun. David Bowie’s note was just behind our seats.

The show was a lot of fun. They did most of the standard magician’s tricks, but with their own spin. The show stars Steve Spill and his wife Bozena Sparrow, and part of the act centers on her being from Eastern Europe. In one bit, she comes out on stage with a box labeled “Acme” and talks in her fractured English about how she ordered a trick from Acme Magic. It is the ‘disappearing bandanna’, but then she pulls out a banana. She follows the intructions, folding it over and totally squishing it. Then she makes it disappear. This was a new twist on an old trick.

Overall, this show was a lot of fun. They also have a little magic shop in the front of the theater. Lucinda got a set of foam balls, complete with instructions on how to do a few tricks with them.

After the show let out, we decided to walk down to the beach. It was a nice day, and it was only a few blocks away. When we got there, Lucinda ran around in the surf and collected shells until the sun went down. Then, on the way out, we saw a seagull resting on the sand next to an empty malt-liquor can. We figured he was sleeping it off.

At the top of the bluff, I got a nice picture of the sunset over the beach. Then we went home. It’s days like this where I just marvel at how much I like living in Los Angeles. It’s really and truly my most favorite place.


Queen Mary and the submarine

Filed under: — stan @ 7:35 pm

Today we went down to Long Beach to see the Russian submarine and the Queen Mary. Cathy and I had been there to see the submarine once when Lucinda was a baby. Now that she’s big enough to climb through it, she wanted to see it. And we hadn’t been on the Queen Mary tour since 1988. When we got married, we spent our honeymoon playing tourist in Los Angeles.

The submarine is tied up next to the Queen Mary. There is a little building with an exhibit and gift shop by the entrance. They were playing Russian martial music, which the sign said they have available on CD. Just in case you’re missing the old days of the Soviet Union.

We took the tour through the submarine. Lucinda was amused at how small it was inside, but climbing through small spaces is easy for a kid.

After the submarine, we took the tour of the Queen Mary. It was interesting, although I kind of think the computer in the radio room was not original equipment.

We stopped for lunch at one of the onboard restaurants. They had had an exhibit of Hurrell glamour photographs of Hollywood stars from the 1930s on the walls. That was interesting, and it also fit with the whole art-deco theme on the Queen Mary.

Continuing the tour, we headed up to the bow. Lucinda was amazed at how heavy the anchor chain links were. We also saw a pelican flying among the seagulls overhead, which is a little unusual. Then we headed down to the engine room. I loved the 1930s control panels. We also saw the propeller, which was interesting, since it’s something that’s not normally visible on ship like this.

Of course, I also took a bunch of pictures of Lucinda. They are in her photo album.


2006 Car Report

Filed under: — stan @ 6:14 pm

I went and checked my records for 2006. I’d decided to keep track of my car just to see exactly how much I was (not) using it.

During 2006, my car came out of the garage 44 times. I was a bit surprised at that. I thought the number would be lower.

I drove a total of 904 miles in 2006. This works out to an average of 20.5 miles for each time the car came out.

The longest time I went without using my car was 6 weeks from the end of July to mid-September. When I took it out after that, I had to hose it off because it was so dusty it was hard to see out the windows.

I drove to work 3 times in 2006. I was a bit surprised at this, since it usually rains more times than that in a typical winter here. But this year was relatively dry, so I was able to ride my bike almost every day.

It hardly seems worth keeping the car for this. The insurance alone costs about $18 for each day I used the car. Or, on a per-mile basis, it comes out to 88 cents per mile. I didn’t have any repairs this year. I changed the oil once. But on the other hand, renting a car 44 times would probably cost more than I spent on keeping mine.

Oh well. I guess I’ll just keep it the way it is. At the rate I’m going, it’s going to last a long time.


New Year’s Day

Filed under: — stan @ 6:10 pm

I woke up early this morning to the sound of the B-2 bomber circling overhead. Normally, this might be cause for some alarm, but today it just meant that the Rose Parade was about to start.

Being an airplane geek, I got the ladder and climbed up on the roof for a better view. I got a pretty good shot of it when it made the turn at Colorado and Sierra Madre. The planes banked over towards my house, so I could see them pretty well, even if they were a mile away.

A bit later, we all walked down to watch part of the parade. As always, there was a tremendous crush of humanity there, and since I don’t like crowds, it was somewhat unpleasant. But it was still worth it to see the über-geeky Stormtroopers in the parade. I don’t really understand this, since the Stormtroopers were just about the least sympathetic characters in “Star Wars”. They were just anonymous agents of evil. It was also funny to see them in the park after the parade, eating In-N-Out burgers while still in costume.

We walked back home to see the horses. They always park the horse trailers in our neighborhood. Along the way we saw a guy shoveling horse shit off the street. I always marvel at how they manage to keep our streets pretty clean despite the number of horses.

On the way back to the house, we stopped to pet a llama. That was a new experience. Its fur was very soft.

Next, we walked up the street to where the horse trailers were parked. I had a bag of carrots, so Lucinda, Claire and Rose could have some treats for the horses. We got to pet the miniature horses from the “Petite Elite” group, which were all very cute.

We also visited with some of the other horse groups. The girls got to sit on top of one of the big horses so I could take pictures of them. We hung around the horses until the carrots were all gone.

It was a fun day.

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