Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Thanksgiving

7/29/2010

Limits of Artificial Intelligence

Filed under: — stan @ 10:01 pm

This is funny. I subscribe to a discussion mailing list that includes a lot of topics. Gmail has programs that look at the text of the messages to decide what ads to display on the page when I’m reading my mail.

So here’s the FAIL. You’d think that if they’re keying on ‘goldline‘ to trigger displaying the goldline ad, they might consider not displaying it if the next word is ‘scam‘.

AI FAIL

7/25/2010

Green House!

Filed under: — stan @ 1:43 pm

A couple weeks ago, the L.A. Times had an article about a house in La Crescenta. The owner had had it painted bright green, and the neighbors were all upset. Of course, I thought that this would make for a good sightseeing trip for the bike club. So today was the day.

It was a perfect day for riding. The route was a variation on the “No Tuna” route through Sun Valley and Shadow Hills. We started out across Eagle Rock and Glendale, and took Kenneth most of the way to Burbank. We had an early snack stop at Paradise Bakery in Glendale. Then we continued on, taking a short side trip to see the backyard pirate ship in Burbank. Then it was back to business, north on Glenoaks into Sun Valley.

That was where Keira got a flat. But that didn’t stop us for long, and soon we were riding past the dump in Sun Valley. The wind was just right to bring us the stench of rotting garbage. Yum. I love L.A.

In Shadow Hills, we saw people riding horses. But sadly, Lorenzo the Llama is not there any more.

In Tujunga, we started up the hill. We had to climb almost all the way up the hill to get to the Green House. But when we got to the top, there it was. Resplendent in its green-ness. I started thinking about having mint ice cream when I got home. I heard someone else talking about having lime sherbet.

I think it’s funny that they neighbors are upset about this house. Along the way, a car passed us with a bumper sticker that said, “Freedom is Not Free”. But it seems that the essence of freedom is that in order for you to have freedom to do as you wish, others have to have it, too. Including being able to paint their house bright green.

After seeing the house, we got treated to a very long downhill. Then we rode home by way of Altadena. It was a nice ride.

47 miles.
cycling

7/22/2010

Thursday evening bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 9:41 pm

For the first time this summer, I had a free evening to go bike riding. This was a nice treat, so I went and did my usual loop down to the South Pasadena water tower, and then up to the Rose Bowl to noodle around a few times before riding home by way of Altadena. Not much to say about it, aside from it was a very pleasant ride.

33 miles.
cycling

7/19/2010

This space intentionally left blank

Filed under: — stan @ 10:50 pm

Well, it’s July, and time for my annual spiritual pilgrimage to visit Austin and all my friends there. They have a big weekend party every year for the anniversary of the social club I started there, and so not only is everyone I know there, but they treat me like a visiting dignitary. And there’s nothing not to like about that.

Kathleen and I flew out on Jet Blue on Friday morning. When we arrived, my friend picked us up at the airport. He had offered his house on Lake Travis to us for the weekend, so we all went out there. When we got there, we made some mojitos. This is shaping up to be the Summer of Mojitos for us, and it’s been great fun. Then we headed back into town for some barbecue at the Founder’s Dinner. There was a good turnout, and it was nice to see everyone again.

Next up was the Friday night social at the Chain Drive. That’s the local gay leather bar in Austin. This time the air conditioner didn’t croak like last year. It was still hot, but was a very fun time.

Saturday was the main day of the event, and it was all being held at the country dance hall that they rent for their parties. They had a full day of presentations, some vendors, and then a party in the evening. No pictures from these, though, since it’s a no-cameras event. But it was great fun. And during the break before the party, we got to head back into town for barbecue at Pok-E-Jo’s, which is still my favorite barbecue place ever. And the party was one of the best, if not the single best party I’ve ever been to.

On Sunday there was just one event. That was a luncheon and keynote speech. They asked me to give the keynote this year. I made up four pages of notes so as not to forget anything, and I spoke for about 45 minutes, telling the story of how the group came to be, and why I did things the way I did. I ended with the story of how it then came back into my life two years ago and saved me from the sturm und drang of divorce. Over the years, I’ve had people tell me that finding the group changed their lives, and it was nice to be able to tell the story of how the group came back and saved my life, too.

On Sunday afternoon, we had a cookout at the lake at my friend’s house. We went and got some food at Central Market. I kind of hate to say this, but I really wish we had one of these here in L.A. It’s about the best food store I’ve ever seen. Then we went back to the lake to float on the water and just relax. It was a nice end to a really fun weekend.

Monday morning, we went into town and met my old college friend Mike for breakfast, and afterward, my other friend Stu picked us up and we went shopping. After 20 years, it was time for a new pair of boots, so we stopped off at Allen’s Boots and I found a nice pair. Then we had lunch at Pok-E-Jo’s again, and then spent the rest of the afternoon at the Yellow Rose. It was a perfect end to our little vacation.

When we got back home, I had the feeling like I’d just woken up from a very weird but really excellent dream. So I stood by the baggage claim and flapped my arms to see if I could fly. I couldn’t, so that meant it was all real. And that was the best feeling in the world.


7/13/2010

Not exactly the bee’s knees

Filed under: — stan @ 5:43 pm

Recently, I’ve noticed bees inside my garage. Just a few at first. They would show up and fly around whenever I turned on one of the big shop lights. And it turns out there was a beehive built into the back wall of my garage. I didn’t know about it for a long time, since the entrance was outside on the back of the garage, and that’s right on the wall at the back of my yard. But the neighbors behind me told me about it and showed me where the bees were coming from.

So I did a search on ‘bee removal’ and came up with a few places to call. They all quoted about the same price for taking it out, and All Valley Bee said that they could send someone out Sunday afternoon. So I went with them, and the guy showed up and thoroughly sprayed the hive to kill off the bees.

The pile of dead bees on the floor of the garage was pretty impressive in a weird sort of way.

The next day, their dispatcher called me and we set up an appointment for them to come back to do the actual removal.

When they opened the wall up, there were still some bees in there, and they were not happy. The guys sprayed them and then waited a few minutes for them to drop. Then they finished opening the wall and took out the hive. They said it was something like 30 pounds of honeycomb in there. They cleaned up the wall, caulked the holes to the outside, and filled the space with fiberglass insulation.

On the one hand, that means my workshop is once again usable. On the other hand, maybe having a bee hive in the yard was why I got such a good tangerine crop last fall. But either way, no more bees.

7/11/2010

Sunday donut

Filed under: — stan @ 12:28 pm

Today’s bike ride was one of those nowhere-in-particular rides. The only sightseeing opportunity was the Donut Hole in La Puente. Giant donuts are always amusing.

On the way back, we saw a big coyote in Arcadia. They’re not usually seen out after sunrise, so that was kind of unusual.

It was cool and cloudy and perfect for riding.

44 miles.
cycling

7/6/2010

There’s nothing in IMDB about this…

Filed under: — stan @ 6:52 pm

Since I got a flat on Sunday’s ride, I took a ride over to the bike shop today to get a new tire. And on the way back to my office, I saw this sign. I always like seeing familiar places dressed up as something different. They had signs up that they were going to be filming all day on Wednesday. As always, they don’t say what they’re filming. But one of the customer reviews on Amazon of John Cheever’s novel Bullet Park mentions that he thinks it would make a good movie.

7/5/2010

The 5th of July

Filed under: — stan @ 6:33 pm

Today is a government holiday, and I didn’t have anything else pressing that I needed to do, so I went for a bike ride with Don. We didn’t go anywhere in particular. Just down the Rio Hondo bike path and then up the San Gabriel River to Santa Fe Dam. Here are some random photos from along the way.

There was a high temporary wall around a lot in Temple City. So we peeked inside to see what they were building. It was bare, except for a large oak tree and a fake-tree cell phone tower.

Along the San Gabriel River, there were a lot of people riding horses. There was also a bit of WTF-style graffiti.

There was a fair amount of water coming out of Santa Fe Dam. At least it seemed like a lot for being this far into the dry season.

In the Santa Fe Dam nature area, we saw a family of California Quail crossing the road. I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to catch the line of little baby quail.

We stopped at Encanto Park. I noticed the sign that said that the playground was built by the Miracle Recreation Equipment Company. I guess if nobody gets hurt, it’s a Miracle.

On the way home through Monrovia, we found a rare large-mouth bass mailbox. And I got my picture taken with the big plastic cow.

It was a fun ride.

44 miles.
cycling

7/4/2010

Sunday ride to San Dimas

Filed under: — stan @ 7:59 pm

Today’s bike ride was on out to San Dimas. This is an old route, and it doesn’t go by any celebrity graves, topiary, or hot-rod mailboxes. But it’s a nice ride anyway, and it was time to do something without a lot of hills. It was cool and overcast, so it was pretty much perfect for riding.

We headed out, east into Azusa, where I got a flat. This was the same tire that went flat last week, so I think that’s a sign that it’s time for a new tire.

Next, we saw an abandoned couch. Well, actually it was a chair. But it was good enough for a picture.

We rode down through the little canyon to get to Via Verde, which was just about the only hill to speak of on the whole route. Then we came back through West Covina to our snack stop at Panera. By then, the sun was starting to break through the clouds, and it was turning into a really nice day.

On the way back, Pat got a flat
Pat got a flat.

Overall, it was a nice ride,

45 miles.
cycling

7/3/2010

Toy Story

Filed under: — stan @ 10:24 pm


On Saturday night, I took Lucinda and her friend to Hollywood to see “Toy Story 3” at the El Capitan theater. We’d gotten a mailer about it that said they were going to have a sort of carnival midway set up behind the theater for the kids to play in after the movie. Sort of like the “G-Force” attraction that they built last summer.

The movie was good. Sad in a lot of ways, but very well done. We all enjoyed it. And afterward, they played for a while in the little “Toy Story Fun Zone” carnival that they’d set up on the playing field behind Hollywood High School.

It was a very fun evening.

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