Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Lots of candy and a telescope, too

Filed under: — stan @ 10:23 pm

Here’s the report from Halloween night. Lucinda went out with Cathy and some of the other kids from our neighborhood, while I stayed home and handed out candy. I set up my telescope in the front yard and let the kids look a Jupiter and also Comet Holmes. The comet was a special treat, since I’m usually kind of hard up for something interesting to look at if Jupiter or Saturn isn’t up.

Overall it was a good evening. Lucinda came home with 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg) of candy, which we all considered to be a good haul.

While I was getting out the telescope tripod…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:42 pm

There is a large web in the back of my garage, with a nice big black widow on it. This is easily the largest one of these spiders I’ve seen around here. I guess it’s well fed on all the other creepy-crawly things that live in our garage.

More comet

Filed under: — stan @ 6:26 am

I snapped a few more pictures of Comet Holmes last night. It’s a bit dimmer now. The first picture is a 10-second exposure on ISO 400. I finally figured out how to set the camera for long shutter times. Compare the second picture today with the second picture yesterday. Both are 1-second exposures on ISO 800. They look pretty similar, but for some reason, it looked a lot dimmer to the eye.

Just for the record, the telescope was a Celestron C-8 with a 32mm eyepiece, giving about 60x. The photos were all cropped and then scaled down by a factor of 1.9, so they are all showing the same size field. The camera is a Canon A560, and most importantly, it was attached to the telescope with Scotch® brand packing tape.


More duct-tape astrophotography

Filed under: — stan @ 10:19 pm

Today I heard about Comet Holmes, so I wanted to go out for a look. And it’s nice and bright. It should make for a good show on Wednesday when I do candy-and-telescopes for the neighborhood kids.

It was bright enough that I thought I’d try to photograph it. I’ve done duct-tape astrophotography before. So I got some packing tape and attached my new camera to the eyepiece. Then I set it on manual, no flash, 10-second timer and shot some pictures. The top one is with it set on ISO1600, which came out pretty grainy. The lower one is on ISO800, and it’s a bit cleaner, but doesn’t show the dust cloud around the comet as well. Still, it’s pretty remarkable as these things go. And it’s a bit more spectacular than the last time I tried to photograph a comet. Anyway, I think it’s not bad for a basic point-and-shoot camera taped to the eyepiece.

It must be a misprint…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:07 pm

The calendar says that we’ve been married for 19 years today. But it must be a mistake. We’re not old enough for that to be true…

But we went out for a nice dinner at Cafe Bizou anyway.


Down for the Count

Filed under: — stan @ 3:41 pm

Today’s ride was one that I’ve been thinking about for several years. And since this is the weekend before Halloween, the time was right for a trip out to Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City to visit the grave of Bela Lugosi.

(If you want, you can cue the song by Bauhaus.)

The route out there was basically the same as when we rode to visit Moe Howard’s grave, and also when we went to the bike race at West L.A. College.

It was a nice day for riding. We headed down Huntington Drive and Mission Road into downtown L.A. Then south almost to USC before we turned on Adams for the ride out to the west side. That was where we saw the somewhat odd-looking house. It was reminiscent of the Witch’s House in Beverly Hills, and also the Viking house we saw in Tujunga.

When we got to the cemetery, I got out the map I’d downloaded and we went looking. Bela Lugosi’s grave is pretty easy to find. He’s in The Grotto, and not far away, we found Bing Crosby, too. The next stop was Barney Oldfield. He’s best remembered as the first great race-car driver, but not many people know that he was a professional bicycle racer in the 1890s.

We went over by the big crucifixion statue to fine Eadie and Elena Del Rubio. Years ago, we saw the Del Rubio Triplets in the Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood. Today, Eadie and Elena are buried right near each other, with one more space between them, presumably for Milly when the time comes.

The last stop was to see Darby Crash from the seminal punk band, The Germs. Be sure to go read the story of the band. They had a lot of influence and really made their mark, even though they were only active for a short time.

Heading back, we went up to Venice Blvd. I got a flat. We stopped at a little French bakery in the Helms Bakery complex. The eclair there was pretty good, but we were kind of annoyed by the fact that they wouldn’t let us sit at the outside tables unless we ordered from the menu.

The rest of the ride was pretty straightforward. We took Venice all the way back into downtown, and then north on San Pedro and Alameda to get to North Main. Then back home the way we’d gone out in the morning.

It was a fairly nice ride, although the traffic on Venice was kind of heavy on the way back.

As always, I put the pictures in my Graves photo album. And yes, so far I’m quite happy with my new camera.

55 miles.


I got my new camera

Filed under: — stan @ 2:07 pm

My new camera came yesterday. I took it for a short ride today, just to try it out. I didn’t feel up to doing the full club ride today. I was sick this week, so I’m trying to rest a bit.

I rode over to Arcadia to meet the group. Then, from there, we all rode over to the Elks Lodge in Pasadena to see if anyone was there for the ride. At that point, I turned off and went up past the Rose Bowl and back home across Altadena.

I stopped at the curve overlooking JPL. There is a trail there, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the ‘Fire Danger’ sign say anything but ‘Extreme’, but this week I can actually believe it.

There was an empty house on Ventura St that had a big ‘Auction’ sign in front of it. This is the first one I’ve seen, but I don’t think it will be the last.

I saw the people on “Christmas Tree Lane” putting up the lights for their big display. I didn’t know that they started on it so early. We’ve lived here for 12 years and never gone to see their big show.

I also saw a yard sale with a strange sign in front. I kind of liked the touch of the flowers with the half-a-mannequin.

27 miles.


Sunday’s ride with no pictures

Filed under: — stan @ 10:37 pm

If we rode our bikes to Glendora and back, but I didn’t take any pictures, did we really go anywhere?

After yesterday’s little disaster I was camera-less today. So right up front, I told everyone that nobody was allowed to get a flat today, since I wouldn’t be able to take a picture for the Flat Tire Gallery.

So we rode out to Glendora. It’s mostly flat land going there, since we did mountains yesterday. It was a nice time. We even averaged over 17mph for the trip, which is pretty good. When I was racing, I used to average about 18mph on my 42-mile ‘off-day training ride’. So to be going almost that fast 30 years later is not bad at all.

We stopped at the little French bakery in Glendora. It was pleasantly warm by then, so it was nice to sit outside in the sun.

Overall, it was a nice time. And we have something special planned for next weekend. For a long time, I’ve been wanting to go visit Bela Lugosi’s grave. We’re probably going to do that next Sunday. I even came up with a snappy name for the ride: “Down for the Count”

I hope my new camera comes before next weekend.

40 miles.


A nice day in the mountains, but a minor disaster

Filed under: — stan @ 7:19 pm

Today’s ride was one of my favorites. Up San Gabriel Canyon, right on East Fork, and then up the back of Glendora Mountain. I met Gene at the park in Pasadena, and we rode out to Encanto Park in Duarte to meet the rest of the group for the ride. My little GPS said that I started at 825 feet at Victory Park. At Encanto, it said about 600.

We headed up the bike path to get to the bottom of the canyon. Then we started up the mountain. It’s a nice climb. There were more up-and-down sections than I remembered, but it was still a nice climb up to the turnoff for East Fork.

A little ways up East Fork, there was a turnoff for Shoemaker Road. I’d read about this before, and since I was a couple minutes ahead of the main group, I turned off to do some sightseeing. I rode up a short distance to a nice overlook. I thought it would be a nice photo location, so I propped the camera up on the stone wall by the side of the road. I set the timer. But when I went to go sit in front of it, the velcro on my glove caught the camera strap and pulled it off the wall. It fell on the ground, hitting lens-first. The lens got knocked crooked, and when it tried to move, it just made pathetic little electric motor noises.

I rode back down the hill and into Camp Williams. While we waited for the rest of the group to arrive, I got the camera to boot up. But the lens was out of alignment and couldn’t focus properly. So that’s about it for my trusty old Canon A70.

The GPS read 1711 feet at Camp Williams. Then we started up the main hill. There were a lot of motorcycles out on the road. The noise was pretty annoying. But on the good side, they tend to travel in packs, so it’s quiet for fairly long stretches between groups. It was a nice, steady climb up the back of the mountain. At the top, I stopped an talked with a couple of other riders for a few minutes. The GPS read 3423 at the top. We’d climbed about 2,800 feet (about 850m) on the ride. When Gene got to the top, he just kept going, so we headed down after him.

The ride down the front side of Glendora Mountain Road is very nice. The road surface is good, with nice sweeping turns and good views. The last time we were up there the road was closed, and the time before that it was cold and raining. This time it was just perfect.

When we got to the bottom, we all decided that we were done for the day, and we headed straight for home by the most direct route.

Aside from the broken camera, it was a very nice day.

64 miles.


Lida Classic

Filed under: — stan @ 7:02 pm

I was supposed to go riding with Eric today, but he forgot his bike. So I went riding by myself. And, as always, when I’m going alone, I always do the Lida Loop.

It was a perfect day for riding. Nothing much happened, aside from seeing a deer when I was going up the hill right by the Art Center College. I rode right past it before I even noticed that it was there. And it paid me no mind until I slowed down to take its picture. The deer seem to not care if we get very close to them, as long as we’re not looking at them. But as soon as we look at them, they get spooked.

Anyway, it was a very pleasant ride.

18 miles at lunch, 26 for the day.

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