Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Thanksgiving

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5/31/2010

Memorial Day

Filed under: — stan @ 9:28 pm

Some odd things happened today. First off, every Memorial Day we get groups of WWII fighter planes flying over our house. The noise they make is quite distinctive and different from modern small propeller airplanes. But this time, we also had a low flyover by a four-engine jet. This was obviously not a WWII airplane, but was certainly related in that it’s some sort of military plane, and after some poking around, I think it was a C-17.

In the afternoon, Lucinda and I went hiking up the Mt Wilson Toll Road. We took Suzie along to see how she would do. It was quite hot, which I guess had something to do with the fact that we set out at the crack of noon. Next time we will have to leave earlier.

Coming back down, we saw fire trucks parked by the trailhead, and heard a loud helicopter noise. And then a Sheriff’s Department helicopter came flying out the narrow opening of Eaton Canyon. This was an impressive bit of flying, and we figured that something must be happening, since they don’t fly helicopters through narrow canyons for fun.

5/30/2010

A hot spring in Los Angeles

Filed under: — stan @ 7:53 pm

Today’s bike ride was a trip out to Encino to Los Encinos State Historic Park. Some years ago, I was contacted by one of the volcanologists at the USGS Volcano Hazards Program for help setting up a web site. Her research involved the chemistry of water in natural hot springs as a clue to what is going on below the ground. She sent me a list of all the known hot springs in California, and I noticed that one of them was in L.A. I looked up the coordinates and found that it was at Los Encinos Park in Encino. Of course, my first thought was that this would make for a good sightseeing bike ride. The spring itself is not very hot. The water temperature is about 79 degrees Fahrenheit and the water flows down into a small lake where there were ducks and geese. The water is all fenced off, so we weren’t able to feel it.

It was a perfect day for riding. We headed straight west, across Glendale and into the San Fernando Valley. We took Moorpark St most of the way, although we had to do a short stretch on Ventura Blvd. When we got to the park, Kathleen was there. She lives nearby so she came over to meet up with us. That was a nice treat. We looked around the park a bit before heading out for the trip home.

We rode up into the Sepulveda Dam recreation area and took the bike path there up to the Metro Orange Line. When they built the busway, they built a bike path parallel to it, so we took that all the way to the end of the line in North Hollywood. We had a snack stop at Panera Bread there, and then we continued on. They built a bike path down Chandler Blvd all the way into Burbank, so we took that. Then we turned south to get to the L.A. River. That was where we saw “Chuck Norris Rules” and the awesomely ridiculous limousine.

We rode the L.A. River bike path down to Fletcher, and then took Eagle Rock Blvd north. That was where Sage got a flat. One of the guys helped change the tube, but when he pumped the tire up, it blew out. Turned out there was big cut in the tire. So we had to put a tire boot in it before changing the tube again. But then we made it home just fine.

58 miles.
cycling

5/29/2010

Artifacts

Filed under: — stan @ 5:56 pm

On Saturday afternoon, I took Lucinda to the Grammy Museum. They have an exhibit about Michael Jackson that she was interested in seeing. They had some of his costumes there, along with letters, handwritten song lyrics, and various other items from his life.

On the other floors of the museum they had other exhibits related to music. I thought the highlight was the exhibit about the ’60s, which focused on Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. They had Jim Morrison’s Boy Scout membership card. Just the idea of Jim Morrison as a Boy Scout made my brain hurt.

Another Disneyland first

Filed under: — stan @ 11:15 am

Over the last two years, I’ve taken Lucinda to Disneyland many times. It started out as something for us to do that she would enjoy. But over time, I grew to like it, too. And yesterday I went there on a date for the first time ever. Kathleen came over in the morning and we headed down. My friend there was going to meet us at the gate, but he got stuck fixing the dragon and had to send one of his friends out to let us in. But we got in and got our day going.

We hadn’t thought about the fact that it was Friday before Memorial Day. The parks were pretty crowded. At least compared to what I’m used to from bringing Lucinda on random weekdays. We picked up passes for Soarin’ over California and then walked back to try out California Screamin’. The line wasn’t long and it was fun enough that we did it twice. I tried to take an upside-down picture in the loop, but I just got a nice shot of the seat in front of me. It’s tough to get the timing right with digital camera lag.

We headed over to Disneyland and picked up passes for Space Mountain. We figured we’d save them for later. But the line wasn’t too long, so we went in it and rode it once. After that, we did the Matterhorn, Big Thunder Mountain and Pirates. After all that, it was almost time for our passes to Space Mountain. We rode the train around to Tomorrowland, since I’d never been on the train before. When we got there it wasn’t quite time for our passes. So we waited in the regular line and rode once, and then took our passes and went around to ride again to finish our day. Both times we made a point to be in the front row to feel the wind. Since you can’t really tell how fast it’s going in the dark, the wind is the only real clue. And besides, it put us in a better position for the final picture.

At the end of the day, we went and had dinner at the Jazz Kitchen, since that’s become my sort of constant backdrop to see my progress. And I think my life has rebooted quite nicely.

5/26/2010

Words to live by

Filed under: — stan @ 6:45 am

I’ve never been much of a fan of commencement speeches. I was quite happy that there was not one at my college graduation. But I recently read the address by J.K.Rowling to the Harvard Alumni Association. And this really seemed like words of wisdom. Perhaps because it kind of sums up my life for the last two years:

I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive… And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

http://harvardmagazine.com/commencement/the-fringe-benefits-failure-the-importance-imagination

5/25/2010

More frontiers in the kitchen

Filed under: — stan @ 6:39 am

I put some mint in my backyard planter a while back. It was just sort of going along until I fertilized it, and then it took off. I could hear the plant yelling, “Wheeeeeee!!!!” and it got to growing so big I was thinking I’d have to cut it back. So I was thinking of things I could do with the mint, and I hit on the idea of making Mojitos. So I looked up a recipe, and we were off and running. I’d never had a Mojito before, but Kathleen had, and she said they turned out quite well.

So I’ve passed yet another frontier in the kitchen. Good fun.

5/23/2010

The Glendora Bougainvillea

Filed under: — stan @ 5:07 pm

Last March, when we did the Topiary Tour, we stopped to see the Glendora Bougainvillea. At the time it didn’t look like much, so we wanted to go back and see it in bloom. Since it’s now May, we figured this was the time to do it.

It was a bit chilly, but a nice day for riding. We headed out straight east to Glendora. And when we got there, the bougainvillea was blooming, but not in a really impressive way. It’s big, but it just didn’t have all that many flowers on it. We figured that maybe that had something to do with it being nearly 110 years old. Anyway, we took a few pictures. And there was one vine growing up through one of the bougainvilleas that had some unusual and pretty flowers on it.

Our snack stop was at Classic Coffee in Glendora. After that, we headed south and came home by way of Cypress St through Covina. That was where we saw some front-lawn topiary. They looked a bit like Scottish Terriers, but we weren’t quite sure. Then, a bit farther down the road, I saw a new hot-rod mailbox. That’s the first one I’ve found since last summer.

Coming back through Santa Fe Dam, we were happy to see that the bike path had been repaved. And the cacti were flowering, too.

It was a nice ride.

42 miles.
cycling

5/20/2010

In today’s obituaries…

Filed under: — stan @ 8:19 am

Another person whose name you’ve never heard, but who changed the way we live today:

John Shepherd-Barron, credited as the inventor of the Automatic Teller Machine, has died.

“It struck me there must be a way I could get my own money… I hit upon the idea of a chocolate bar dispenser, but replacing chocolate with cash.”

The first machine went online in 1967. And like the invention of the tortilla chip or ramen noodles, it changed the world.

Here’s his obituary.

5/16/2010

After the flood

Filed under: — stan @ 2:45 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip up to Tujunga to see if the house on Eby Canyon Road had been washed away last winter. We’d been up to see it last November, so we were curious to see if the deflection wall they were building worked. The house sits in a canyon right below the merging of two higher canyons, so when it rains, the wash there must turn into a raging torrent. It was a perfect day for riding.

We headed out across Eagle Rock, Glendale, and Burbank. I stopped to take a picture at Thirst Quencher Liquor. It’s not as funny as Hammered Liquor, but I thought it was amusing.

We rode through Shadow Hills. There were some steep bits, but it wasn’t too bad. Then we came out on Sunland Blvd and headed west to the mouth of Big Tujunga Canyon. The road into the neighborhood where the house is was under water. But it was only about 4-5 inches deep, so we just rode through it. Then up the hill on the other side and down into the canyon. And the house was still standing. The wash looked like it had been severely scoured by rushing water, and the culvert under the driveway was plugged. It also looked like the driveway had been buried by sand but they had had it plowed clear. So it looks like the wall worked.

Coming back across the wash, we rode through the water again, and then across Tujunga to get back to Montrose and our snack stop at Goldstein’s Bagels. It was a nice day to sit outside in the sun. Then we rode home by way of the trail over Devils Gate Dam and back into Pasadena.

It was a very nice ride.

47 miles.
cycling

5/9/2010

Great moments in speling

Filed under: — stan @ 3:45 pm

This past week, I saw an item in the news about Julia Louis-Dreyfus getting a star on Hollywood Blvd. And how they misspelled her name. So of course I thought that this should be a quick sightseeing trip. It was cool and overcast. A “May Gray” sort of L.A. day.

We rode over to Hollywood and found the star. They’d said that they were going to have it remade, but none of us thought they’d get it done so fast. But it had been replaced by a corrected star. Oh well.

After the sightseeing stop, we headed up the hill by a new route. This went up some steep little streets and brought us out by Wolf’s Lair Castle. From there, we rode up to the Hollywood sign. Along the way, we had to stop for a photo opportunity at the house with the garage door painted with books. Then we headed down the hill, past Lake Hollywood, and up the other side to come down into Burbank.

We stopped for snacks at Priscilla’s in Toluca Lake. And then we headed home by way of the Linda Vista hill in Glendale. It was still kind of cold, so we actually appreciated the warmth of climbing a hill.

It was a nice ride.

40 miles.
cycling

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