Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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There’s nothing cuter than baby seals

Filed under: — stan @ 10:39 pm

This past weekend, Kathleen, Lucinda and I took a trip to San Diego. We went down on Saturday morning, and after lunch with Grandpa, we went to the cove and saw the baby seals. The pupping season for the seals runs from the end of January to the beginning of March, so we wanted to see the newborn seals on the beach.

It was a fun time. There were quite a few babies there, and I was able to get some good pictures.

After seeing the seals, we walked over to Sunny Jim Cave and took the walk down the tunnel to the cave.

It was a fun weekend.

The seal pictures are here:

baby seal

Lucinda’s pictures from the weekend are in her photo album.


A veritable walk in the park

Filed under: — stan @ 10:16 pm

As part of our weekend in San Diego, I managed to convince both Lucinda and Kathleen to try a stair climb. The Lung Association had one there at the Omni Hotel downtown. It was a short one – only 31 stories. And as I always say, “How hard could it be?”

We went down there on Sunday morning and got our numbers. Then we wandered around a bit before we found the starting line, which was a the back door outside behind the hotel’s main entrance. There was a group of firemen in full gear getting ready to go. They let me go ahead of them, although a few had already started up. I went first, and Lucinda and Kathleen started just after me.

I caught and passed the firemen about halfway up. I also passed a couple of other people. I’d set my metronome on 90. I figured I needed to crank the pace up, since the race was so short.

I thought that the finish line was on 32, so I’d planned on starting my final sprint to the finish at the landing just above 30. But then it turned out that the finish was on 31, so I only got in a short burst at the end before I came out at the top. I took in the view for a couple of minutes before Lucinda and Kathleen got there. They both said that it wasn’t as hard as they’d expected.

After that, we all went back down to the bottom to see the results. My time was 4:03, which was all right, but not spectacular. For a long time, I was in second place in the 50-59 group, but then two guys in the last group to climb beat my time and pushed me down to 4th. So no medal for me this time. But Lucinda got one. Her time was 7:13, and that was good for 3rd place in the 10-19 age group.

Overall, it was a fun time.

Results are here:


Practice makes pain

Filed under: — stan @ 10:02 pm

Today was the second practice climb at the Aon building in downtown Los Angeles. Erik and I headed down there at lunchtime with hopes of trimming some seconds off our time from last Tuesday.

I set my metronome on 80 again, in hopes of being able to maybe keep up with it better this time. But for some reason, I’m having a hard time getting into the right mental space to deal with the pain of stair climbing. When I got to about the 30th floor, I felt like I was gonna die. Erik had started about 10 seconds behind me and he caught up with me around the 40th floor. We stayed together the rest of the way to 60, but I was really struggling.

When we got to the top, I adopted my usual curled-up-panting-on-the-floor posture for a bit. Then we took in the view and talked with some other people who were climbing the stairs too. They were people who worked in the building, and they were not signed up for the race.

In the end, I had 10:32, which is 6 seconds slower than last week. But since Erik started behind me, that means at least he made our goal of doing a better time than last time.

Regardless, it was a good lunchtime adventure.

When we went back to the car, I noticed the building across from where we parked.

Argue Pearson Harbison & Myers

There’s a lawyer named Mr Argue? Talk about destiny…


Yo Ho Yo Ho… well, you know the rest

Filed under: — stan @ 10:32 pm

Today was a holiday for Pasadena schools and also for people who work for the government. So that meant another trip to Disneyland. This time it was me, Kathleen, Lucinda, and Lucinda’s friend London.

When we got there, we headed for Lucinda’s favorite ride: California Screamin’. We rode it twice before lunch and twice more afterward.

After that, the girls decided it was time to go to Disneyland. So we walked over and rode the Matterhorn. Then we went and got Fast Passes so the girls could drive the Autopia cars. They were not good for a bit more than an hour, so we split up. Kathleen and I bit the proverbial bullet and stood in line for Space Mountain. The ride must have broken down briefly while we were in the line, since we spent a lot of time standing in one spot. And even the Fast Pass line got long. But they got it running again and we got on. It was still fun.

When we got out, it was time for the girls to drive at Autopia. Lucinda was very pleased to see that she’d grown enough to drive. So they went off to do that and Kathleen and I took a monorail ride. When we got back, the girls were done driving, but they wanted to go again. Since we’d gotten four passes, they could do that. This time, we just stayed nearby to watch them on the ride. We also got to see a kid barf. It was just like being in a John Waters movie.

By now it was close to getting dark. So we went back to California Adventure and rode California Screamin’ one more time. Then the girls rode the Silly Symphony Swings a couple of times before we called it a day.

We all walked over the Downtown Disney. Sadly, our traditional restaurant was booked up solid, so we had to find a Plan B. The Uva Bar and Cafe had an outdoor area that wasn’t crowded, and we had a patio heater, so it wasn’t bad at all. So we had a nice dinner there before heading home.

It was a very fun day.

The rest of the pictures are in Lucinda’s photo album.


Always good to have an exit strategy…

Filed under: — stan @ 7:20 pm

Today’s bike ride was one that didn’t go anywhere in particular. The weather forecast was a bit uncertain, and there was a chance we might get rained out again. So I devised a route that went 40 miles through Los Angeles, but was never more than about a mile from the nearest Metro Rail station.

It’s good to have a way available to bail out if the weather goes bad.

It rained hard on Saturday night, and it was cold in the morning. The snow was down quite low on the mountains. I guess this scared a lot of people off. So it was just me and Silvio who were hard-core enough to go riding. We headed out, into downtown Los Angeles. I got a nice view of my nemesis: the U.S. Bank Tower. Then we headed out through West Adams and then up into Larchmont.

We stopped for a bagel at Noah’s in Larchmont before heading east into Silver Lake for the ride home. The route back went up Figueroa St, which basically parallels the Metro Gold Line. By this time, it was fairly clear, and we were pretty sure it wasn’t going to rain. But it was still cold.

All in all, it was a nice ride. The route wasn’t bad, so I’ll probably keep it for other times when there is a chance of rain.

41 miles.


Here we go again…

Filed under: — stan @ 6:08 pm

Today was the first practice climb for the American Lung Association stair climb up the Aon tower in downtown Los Angeles. I did this race last year, and also the year before. The 2009 event was my first stair climbing race ever. So, like last year, I’m making a point to do the practice climbs. There’s nothing quite like the real thing.

Erik and I went downtown at lunchtime to do this. The practice climb is from the 4th floor to the 60th. This is just about 90% of the full climb. This was my first big stair climb since last December’s race at the Wilshire-Figueroa building. At that climb, I set my metronome at 80 and that pace worked well, so I used the same setting today.

It’s amazing how the memory of how much it hurts fades. But after climbing 25-30 floors, the memory came back. Yow. This is still the single most painful athletic thing I’ve ever done. By the halfway point, I was having trouble keeping up with the metronome. But my new method for doing the turns was working well. I managed to avoid a lot of wasted steps on the landings between flights. I’ve also taken to wearing my bike riding gloves and using the handrails more. And in the end, I made it to the top in 10:26, which is two seconds faster than my best practice run from last year. So I have hope of being able to improve on that in the next two months.

There is another practice climb next week on Thursday. Then the following weekend is the ALA stair climb in San Diego. That one’s short – only 31 stories. Lucinda and Kathleen are going to try it, so it should be a fun little outing. Then in March, I’ve got a trip to Las Vegas for the Stratosphere Tower climb. Then more practice before the Los Angeles event on April 30th. So it’s going to be a busy springtime of endless stair climbing.

As always, there’s a LOLcat for every occasion:


Car culture

Filed under: — stan @ 9:19 pm

Southern California is widely regarded as the center of car culture in the U.S. And while it may seem a bit strange, that was our theme for today’s bike club ride. Normally, we regard cars as a nuisance at best, but today we were out to sightsee some car culture.

It all began with an article in the L.A. Times on Friday:

Molly and Stan Hyman are hitting the road and they’ve put their garage up for sale.

And by the way, their six-car garage comes with a house.

The Burbank couple are automobile enthusiasts and restorers who in 1995 custom-built their garage/house to give themselves room to rebuild and showcase vehicles.

So I just knew we had to go see this garage. The article also mentioned:

It’s in a residential section adjacent to Burbank’s Media District, close to Warner Bros. Studios. Cross noted it’s also near Bob’s Big Boy, where hot-rodders and car cruisers congregate weekly. Nearby are George Barris’ Kustom Industries, which builds movie cars and hot rods, and entertainer Jay Leno’s Big Dog Garage.

So we had a tour. We’d been by the Barris showroom before, so I looked up the addresses for the Hymans’ house and also the Big Dog Garage, and we were off.

Along the way, we also saw a car-themed decoration on a dental office. That was kind of weird, but it fit the theme of the day.

Our snack stop was at Priscilla’s in Toluca Lake, right near Bob’s Big Boy and the Barris showroom. Jay Leno’s place was up next to the runway at Burbank Airport.

The ride turned out to be a bit longer than I’d thought, but it was a perfect day for riding, so it was all right.

55 miles.


Urban hiking

Filed under: — stan @ 10:26 pm

A while back, Kathleen said she wanted to try doing one stair climb, just for the experience. To see what it’s like. That day is fast approaching, so we went hiking in Griffith Park tonight, since that’s at least good practice for that sort of thing.

Hiking at night, it’s hard to get good pictures. But I did find one really good spot to balance the camera to get a good steady shot with the city lights behind us. And it’s still remarkable that we can hike up mountains in the middle of the city.


Cultural history

Filed under: — stan @ 10:34 pm

This past Thursday was the anniversary of The Day the Music Died. I’m not quite old enough to remember that, since I wasn’t born until later that year, but I remember people talking about it when I was young. It seemed to be something of a cultural touchstone for a generation. So when I found out that Ritchie Valens is buried in the cemetery behind the San Fernando Mission, I knew we had to take a ride up there.

It was a very nice day for riding. It got quite warm, and the only bad part was that the wind picked up when we got near San Fernando. We fought a headwind most of the last few miles to the cemetery. When we got there, we saw that someone had already put some fresh flowers there, probably on Thursday. It’s also interesting to see the things people leave behind. In this case, coins and guitar picks.

On the way back, the wind held steady, which was all right, since we were riding with it now. That lasted all the way to La Tuna Canyon. Then we got the joy of riding four miles uphill and into the wind. After we crested the hill, it was downhill into Montrose. Our snack stop was at Goldstein’s Bagels. Then we headed home. It was a very nice ride.

55 miles.

Macho Like Me

Filed under: — stan @ 8:29 pm

macho like me
This afternoon, Kathleen and I went over to West Hollywood to see Helie Lee’s solo show, “Macho LIke Me.” This is her story of frustration at how she was treated as a woman, and her decision to try living for six months as a man to see if it was better.

She started out the experiment with the idea that being a man had to be better, but she found that it came with a whole different set of limitations. And of course, there were a lot of funny stories along the way.

This was a tremendously entertaining show.

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