Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Thanksgiving

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12/30/2007

I’ve never seen one of these break before…

Filed under: — stan @ 5:57 pm

Route slip

Today’s ride was the “Glendale Vistas” route. We haven’t done this one since June, so it was time. It was chilly this morning, but we had a good group of ten riders. Michael came out for the first time in months, which meant that there was going to be competition to be first to the top of the hills. And Vikki is visiting from Canada this week, so she came to ride with us, too.

We rode out of Pasadena to La Cañada. Then we turned up Chevy Chase for the first hill of the ride. The hill up the north side of Chevy Chase is long and winding, with a steep pitch at the end. Then a nice long downhill into Glendale.

At the bottom, we made a loop through Glendale, ending up on Glenoaks, where we stopped at Paradise Bakery. I had my usual two chocolate eclairs, since theirs are the best. And I wasn’t even worried about eating them before the steep hills in the second half of the ride.

Leaving the bakery, we rode back across Glendale and started up into the hills. The first big hill started out on Royal Blvd, which wasn’t too steep. Then we turned on Old Phillips Rd, which was close to flat. Finally, we took a right on Kidonan Dr, which is the steep pitch to the top. And that was where Things Went Wrong.

I was riding up the hill in my usual 39×17 gear, and I was pushing pretty hard to try and stay ahead of Michael. Then my chain skipped. I head the sound of pieces of metal falling on the ground, and the cranks spun free. I managed to get my foot out before falling over, and I looked down to see that the 17-tooth cog on my cassette had self-destructed. It broke into three or four pieces, and the chain was just wedged down into the space where the cog had been. I’ve been riding seriously since 1973, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this break.

Needless to say, this was a problem. First, we took the obligatory picture, and I stuffed a couple of the pieces into my bag for a souvenir. Then I walked up to the next flat spot. I was able to get the chain onto the next larger cog. The picture shows the chain on the 9 speed 8 speed cassette. Then I rode very carefully the rest of the way to the top. The other cogs didn’t seem to be going too far out of alignment, so the bike was rideable, but shifting was probably not a good idea.

Fortunately, we were getting close to the end of the ride, so just continued on. We rode down into Montrose and then up Hospital Hill. Then straight down and back into Pasadena and back to the park.

It was a fun ride, even with the broken cog. Things like that are rare enough that the inconvenience was worth it just to have the story to tell. And it was nice to see Vikki again.

41 miles and one broken 17-tooth cog.
cycling

12/29/2007

Fall Foliage – and a few very steep hills

Filed under: — stan @ 8:28 pm

Today’s ride was the Fall Foliage route through Monterey Park. Apparently there are some areas that have trees with leave that change color and fall in the autumn. And there are some very steep hills, too.

We met at Arcadia Park and headed out. The first part of the ride was pretty uneventful. The first funny thing I saw was a pet grooming place with a sign that said that they had “The Furminator”, which is apparently a line of anti-shedding products. Well, I thought it was funny.

In Alhambra, we saw a couple of abandoned couches. One on the side of the road, and a second one that was being picked up. So now we know what happens to all those abandoned couches.

We crossed over the 10 freeway on a pedestrian bridge, which was kind of novel. And it gave a good view of the freeway, and the lack of traffic at 9:30 on a Saturday morning.

Then we did the first little hill. It was something like 17%, but it was short. Then we had a short downhill, and that’s where we saw the big fountain. No idea what the reason was for it being there, but it was a nice fountain.

The next turn was up Cadiz St. This felt like the steepest hill of the bunch, but Frank said it wasn’t. But it was longer than the others, so the joy was long-lasting. And this was the hill that made me say ‘uncle’ and shift down a couple of gears. We regrouped at the top, and that was where we noticed that part of the group had taken a different route to avoid the hill.

Coming down off that hill, we crossed Atlantic Ave and then rode up another nice hill. And that was where we saw the purple house. Then we came down the other side and rode up into Alhambra. We stopped at the golf course and had snacks at the little coffee shop there. Jon and I were comparing our cleats. Mine are a lot less worn than his. I think that may have something to do with my rarely putting my foot down. We were also all amused by the display of golf energy bars.

Finally, we rode the flat route back to the park in Arcadia. When we were almost there, Bob got a flat. This is Bob’s second appearance in the Flat Tire Gallery.

Overall, it was a fun little ride.

44 miles
cycling

I have achieved success

Filed under: — stan @ 7:37 am

Success is mine. After many test runs, and tweaking the recipe many, many times, I have created what Lucinda and I consider to be the Perfect Blueberry Muffin.

And in the spirit of Open Source, here’s the recipe:

http://www.1134.org/recipes/blueberrymuffins.pdf

12/26/2007

What I did on my Christmas vacation

Filed under: — stan @ 5:02 pm

I took a vacation day today to do a house project.

Our house is very old, and part of the attic has no insulation. And so I set out to remedy this. I had to pull up some of the boards and stuff the batts of insulation into the spaces between the joists. As it turned out, I didn’t have to pull up all the boards, and the whole thing only took about two hours of fairly intense work. The worst aspect of it was that my dust mask got soaked with sweat, and air won’t go through a soaked dust mask. Which made it hard to breathe. Yick. Fortunately, I had a couple of masks, so I could switch them when one got too soaked. Fun times.

How we live today…

Filed under: — stan @ 4:53 pm

Saw this on Christmas day:

A big recliner chair, and six remote controls. Yikes.

12/25/2007

The devastation was great…

Filed under: — stan @ 11:48 pm

Christmas came, and Lucinda got a Wii. And she also got a few other things, but that was the big one. Thanks to Uncle Larry and Aunt Francesca for braving the crowds to find it and buy it for her. And we also had a nice dinner and visited with the family. So overall, it was a fun time.

Pictures are here.

12/24/2007

A Pinball for Your Thoughts

Filed under: — stan @ 6:30 pm

The ball got stuck like this tonight. This is pretty rare. In 24 years with this machine, I’ve only seen this happen once before. And I didn’t even get super-powers while it was stuck there.

12/23/2007

Mt Washington in Los Angeles

Filed under: — stan @ 11:28 pm

Today’s ride was the Mt Washington ride. We have done this ride before, but it’s been several months, so the time was right.

We rode north from Victory Park, up into Altadena, and then over through La Cañada and down Hospital Hill. Then we went straight down through Glendale and Atwater Village, over the Los Angeles River and down Riverside Dr.

At the end of Riverside, we went north on Figueroa and then turned left up Mt Washington. This is a nice little climb. Not too steep, not too long. And they repaved the road about a year ago, so it’s pretty nice for riding now. Note in the photos how everyone is smiling as they crested the hill.

Coming down the other side, we got on Ave 50 and took a little detour over to Eldred St. This is reputed to be the steepest street in Los Angeles. The grade is something a bit over 30% at the top. I’d read that the trash trucks back up the hill so that they don’t have to turn around at the top. They are afraid the truck would tip over if they did. We made a couple of attempts at riding up it, but none of us made it all the way to the top without slipping. But we did talk to one of the residents of the street, and he confirmed the story about the backwards trash trucks.

Leaving Eldred St, we rode north through Highland Park and then into South Pasadena, where we stopped at Kaldi’s for a snack. Then we went east through downtown South Pasadena, passing a large inflatable dinosaur. From there, we took Monterey Road east, turning south to get to Duarte Road, and then made a loop back to the park. By then, it had warmed up quite nicely, and we were mostly overdressed for the temperature. So it was a good time to be done.

40 miles.
cycling

12/22/2007

Bicycle tourist

Filed under: — stan @ 10:33 pm

Today’s club ride was one that I thought didn’t sound like all that much fun, so it was time for the special sightseeing trip out to Westwood. The main goal was to visit Frank Zappa’s grave, as well as a number of other sights along the way.

I rode down to South Pasadena and met up with Doug and Rachele. And we headed out. We went through Highland Park, making a quick side trip to see the second-smallest house in Los Angeles. It’s been fixed up, and it looks pretty good now.

We rode through Silver Lake and into Hollywood. Riding down Hollywood Boulevard is always a surreal experience, and one that’s best done early in the morning. We stopped briefly at the Chinese Theater to see the costumed performers posing for pictures with tourists.

Going across West Hollywood, we bypassed the Sunset Strip to make another side trip to see Dicks St. Then we went up Doheny to just above the Strip to see the Garagemajal. A lot of the neighbors were upset by it, since it looked like a giant parking structure. But now it appears that it’s just a very large extension on the house.

Crossing into Beverly Hills, we stopped for photo at the tree where Lindsay Lohan crashed her car last year. Then we doubled back one block to pass by the Menendez murder house. And then west again to pass the Witch’s House.

Leaving Beverly Hills, we rode out to Westwood. We stopped briefly to make a phone call, and in the process I slipped and fell on a wet spot on the street. Apparently, this wet spot is wet all the time, and it has slippery algae growing on the pavement. Sheesh.

When we got to the Pierce Brothers Cemetery, we headed over to Frank Zappa’s grave. After that, we played tourist a bit more in the cemetery. The pictures are all in the Graves Gallery.

The next sightseeing stop was Stan’s Donuts in Westwood Village. I always stop for a picture with businesses that have my name on them. (Like these: 1 2  3  4) Then we stopped off at Holmby Park for water before heading up the hill on Benedict Canyon.

At the top of the hill, we turned and took Mulholland all the way to Cahuenga Pass. Riding west to east on Mulholland it nice, since the trend is downhill. And it was a clear day, so the views were very nice. And then we took the most direct route home to Pasadena. We had one minor incident with a car in Glendale when it looked like they were going to pull out into us. Doug yelled at the driver. A little later, she caught up to us at a light. She was rolling down her window like she wanted to say something. I pulled out my camera and took her picture. And she shut up.

Overall, it was a fun little ride.

67 miles.
cycling

More home pinball fun

Filed under: — stan @ 9:31 pm

Lucinda is getting better at pinball. She knows the basic strategy for playing our machine, and she’s learning to catch the ball on the flippers to set up the two essential shots.

The basic plan for playing “Future Spa” involves getting the letters to spell ‘FUTURE SPA”, Each letter is worth 2,000 bonus, and you can get up to 42,000 bonus. And the four inline targets multiply the bonus up to 6x. So there are two essential shots to learn:

  • The left-flipper shot to the rollover for adding letters;
  • The right-flipper shot for the bonus multiplier targets.

And she’s starting to learn how to do the Slap Save.

We’re having some fun with this.

And Lucinda set a new personal record this evening with a score of 386,430 points. She was quite pleased.

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