Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Down for the Count

Filed under: — stan @ 6:11 pm

Today’s bike ride was the “Down for the Count” route we do for Halloween. Out to Culver City and Holy Cross Cemetery to visit Bela Lugosi’s grave.

We rode out from Pasadena and through downtown L.A.. We got to see the progress they’re making on building the new Expo light rail line. It looks like it will be done pretty soon.

When we got to the cemetery, Bela’s grave was decorated by fans as it always is for Halloween.

Our snack stop was at Noah’s Bagels on Venice Blvd. Carla got me a bagel and put some birthday candles on it. That was very nice.

On the way back, I got a flat.

Aside from the flat tire, it was pretty much a perfect ride.

52 miles.



Filed under: — stan @ 9:18 pm

On Saturday afternoon, we rode the train downtown to go to the Natural History Museum to see the Spider Pavilion. It’s in the same outdoor tent that they use for the butterflies in the summer, so it’s a chance to see the spiders in a more or less natural-looking habitat.

The trip down there was a bit of an ordeal. There was a USC home game, so we thought it best not to take the car. Instead, we rode the train and planned on taking the DASH bus from the train station to the museum. Of course, that didn’t take into account the fact that the DASH bus was running an hour late because of all the traffic from the game. Things will be better when they get the Expo light rail line running.

When we got to the museum, I took a picture of Lucinda with the Megamouth shark. Compare this to the picture of her there in 2003. Next, we went to see their saber-tooth cat show. We’d read about this recently, about how they’d had to find a guy who could act as a puppeteer inside the cat suit to make the cat come alive. He did a pretty good job of it. Then we went to see the spiders. There were a lot of them, and they were quite large. Made for some good pictures, and lots of spooked kids. Apparently, there are still some butterflies in the tent, and several of the spiders had caught them and made a meal of them.

It was a fun afternoon.


Another Day at Disneyland

Filed under: — stan @ 10:56 pm

Wednesday was originally supposed to be a day off school for Lucinda. But at the last minute, the school changed the listing on the web site calendar. They told me it had been an error, and there never was a day off scheduled for that day. But I had already made arrangements for us to go to Disneyland. So I called Kathleen and the two of us went. This marks only the second time I’ve ever gone to Disneyland on a date. And it was great fun again.

We headed down there, and when we got there, we could tell it was going to be a good day. There was no line for the parking, which meant that it wasn’t going to be crowded. We rode the tram in and met Mike by the gate. He let us in with his pass, and we headed straight for Space Mountain. The line was only about 15 minutes, so we picked up Fast Passes and then waited in the line and rode it once.

By then it was lunchtime, so we went off and had some food. By then, our passes were ripe, but we thought we’d take in the Haunted Mansion and Thunder Mountain, since neither one had a line. Then we went back and rode Space Mountain a couple more times.

Then we walked over to California Adventure. We rode California Screamin’ three times together. And I rode it seven more times on my own. Even though Kathleen used to work summers at Magic Mountain when she was in college, she’s not up for spending an hour on the roller coaster. But no matter. My ten rides today brought my total up to 50 times on that ride. Which still strikes me as completely absurd. But it was Great Fun.

Finally, we headed over to the Jazz Kitchen for dinner. It was a very nice day.


Halloween preparations

Filed under: — stan @ 5:59 pm

Today’s bike ride was the “Glendale Hills” route. The idea was to take a tour through Glendale and see the Halloween decorations, and to see the beginnings of the single most elaborate display I’ve heard of yet. It was cool and generally a perfect day for riding.

The hills were every bit as difficult as we’d all remembered. But still much easier than any stair climb I’ve ever done. I’m finding that competitive stair climbing is making me a faster bike rider. Simply because I’ve learned to reach new levels of pain. Whatever works.

The Halloween decorations were amusing, although the giant steampunk drill wasn’t anywhere near complete. Our snack stop was at Paradise Bakery, and I had my usual eclair. It was good, as always.

It was a fun ride. Not as long as our usual, but it was plenty hard.

38 miles.


Four weeks to go…

Filed under: — stan @ 7:14 am
Photo by Tom Henneman

Four weeks from today I’m going to be in Chicago to try my legs on the stairs at the Willis Tower. As I’m fond of saying, “103 stories – How hard could it be?”

Of course, since I’ve done a number of big stair climbs before, I know the answer to that. Competitive stair climbing is easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Harder than any bike race I ever did. There’s really nothing else that compares for the sheer intensity of effort.

That said, I’m hoping to turn in a time right around 20 minutes, just based on my times for other climbs. So we’ll just see how that works out. I’ve started practicing again on the stairs at Millikan Library at Caltech. It’s only 10 stories, but it’s the biggest thing I have easy access to. I’ve been doing it six times in each session, and I’m going to work up to ten times, since that’s approximately the same climb as the Willis Tower.

The event is a charity benefit, so if you can, please make a small donation in my name to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.


Rained out

Filed under: — stan @ 9:07 am

I had a bike ride planned for today, but when I woke up, it was raining. That’s a little odd for this early in the season, but not unknown. Still, I went down to the park just to see if anyone else was there. On the way, I saw the sprinklers going, which always looks absurd. Nobody was there, so I went home and that was that.


Air Force One and a trip into the belly of the beast

Filed under: — stan @ 10:37 pm

Monday was Columbus day, and that was a holiday for all of us who work for the government. So I thought it would be fun to take a trip out to Simi Valley to see the Reagan Museum and Air Force One.

They built a whole new wing on the building to house Air Force One. It’s set up on pedestals to look like it just might fly away at any moment. It was interesting to see the inside of the airplane and how it was set up. And the other exhibits were also amusing, including portraits of President Reagan made with jelly beans. Yikes. They also had a small piece of the Berlin Wall there, as well as a collection of other items, including the suit he was wearing when he was shot by John Hinckley, and a bejeweled saber from the Boy Scouts of Saudi Arabia. Who knew there were even Boy Scouts there?

They also had an exhibit of a miniature White House. Apparently, the model builders keep the miniature White House up to date. Looking in the windows, we saw pictures of President Obama and his family. That was a little jarring, since the rest of the day was a solid Republican experience.

All in all, it was a fun day.


CicLAvia and the 442nd

Filed under: — stan @ 7:13 pm

Today was the day of CicLAvia. They closed 7 1/2 miles of Los Angeles streets to cars and let the bikes run wild. When I heard about this, I thought it would make for an interesting addition to the Sunday morning ride. And as it turned out, the route worked out well for a bit of sightseeing involving monuments to the 442nd Infantry. This was the Japanese-American unit in World War II. They were one of the most-decorated units in U.S. history. Was that just another case of typical Asian over-achievers?

It was a perfect day for riding. The route started in Boyle Heights, so we headed out from Pasadena, going south into Rosemead, and then over to East L.A. When we got there, we stopped at Evergreen Cemetery to see the memorial to the 442nd there. Then we headed over the Hollenbeck Park, which was the start of the CicLAvia route. The mayor was supposed to be giving a speech, but they said he wouldn’t be there until later, so we headed out. We rode into downtown and Little Tokyo. There, we stopped at the monument to the 442nd next to the Japanese American Museum. Then we rode across downtown and out to Mac Arthur Park. The route went north from there into the east end of Hollywood, where it ended.

We turned around and rode back along the route to near Mac Arthur Park, where we turned up Benton Way. We took that up into Silver Lake. Our snack stop was a LA Mill Coffee. Then we headed home by way of Figueroa St. In Highland Park, we saw an art project where someone had knitted covers for parking meters, signal boxes, and other things that are on the side of the street.

Coming home through San Marino, GT got a flat. This marks his first appearance in the Flat Tire Gallery.

It was a fun ride, and we’re hoping to see more events like CicLAvia in the future.

45 miles.


Turnbull Canyon, puercos, chivos, y conejos

Filed under: — stan @ 6:32 pm

Today’s bike ride was the old “Turnbull Canyon” route through Whittier and La Puente. It was a nice cool fall day. Perfect for riding.

We rode south, down the Rio Hondo bike path to Whittier Narrows. Then south some more to Whittier, where we rode up and over Turnbull Canyon. This is a pretty big hill, but all the way up I kept thinking, “No matter how fast I go, this doesn’t hurt anything like climbing stairs.”

We regrouped at the top and then headed down the other side. In La Puente, we passed a lot of houses with signs in Spanish advertising that they were selling “puercos, chivos, y conejos”. And I remembered the woman from “Roger and Me” – “You want pets or meat?

Our snack stop was at Merengue in Monrovia. I was admiring Carla’s nails and how they matched her phone. And she found my helmet hair very amusing.

The route home was the flattest way back, through Arcadia and back to the park. It was a nice ride.

45 miles.


Another day…

Filed under: — stan @ 7:23 pm

…another chocolate soufflé. It’s actually kind of refreshing to be making something different. Seems like I spent the whole summer making peppermint chocolate cookies.

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