Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Third time around

Filed under: — stan @ 4:48 pm

Today was the Lung Association’s “Fight for Air Climb” up the Aon building in downtown Los Angeles. 63 stories, 1377 steps, 858 feet from street level to the roof. Back in 2009, this was my first competitive stair climb. At the time, I’d entered it on a lark, just because I was curious what it would be like to climb that many stairs, and also because I thought it would be novel to stand on the roof of the building. Now, two years later, I’m doing this one for the third time. I guess that means I like it, even though it’s still the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Lucinda and Kathleen were both doing it, too, just like the little one we did in San Diego. We all went downtown together. We were with Mark and his West Coast Labels team, which is a great thing. We got to go in the first group with the elite runners at 9:00. In my case, that meant that there were fewer people to pass on the way up, which generally makes for a faster time. Kathleen and Lucinda made a point to start at the back of our group, since they weren’t planning on going terribly fast. Still, it meant that we’d get to all meet up again at the top.

When it as time to go, I trotted into the stairs and started climbing just like always. Once again, I left my metronome off for the first half of the climb. I just went at a comfortable but reasonably fast pace until I got to about the 30th floor. Then I turned the metronome on and used it as a target pace to maintain. Along the way, I passed a few of the people who’d started in front of me. At the 60th floor, I saw Randy’s wife, Lynn. She took pictures as I went by. I guess that the fact that I even noticed that she was there maybe meant that I wasn’t going fast enough. From there, it was just a couple more floors. When I saw the light from the roof door, I managed to find a little bit extra for a final sprint up onto the roof. As soon as I passed the timing mat, I got down on the ground and panted for a few minutes. Then I spent a few minutes looking at the view before I saw Lucinda come out of the stairway. We sat down and had some water while we waited for Kathleen. It was a nice day, and it was a good day to be up there.

When Kathleen got there, she sat down and rested for a few minutes before we all headed back down the other stairs to the party on the 60th floor. While we were there, I saw two girls with some very nice and large tattoos, so I went and found Oz and Randy so we could all do a picture of the tattooed stair climbers. By then, word came up from the ground that they were posting the times.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that my time was 11:45, which was only three seconds slower than last year, which is pretty much the same speed. While I’d have liked to go faster, it apparently wasn’t in the cards this time. But that was all right. In the end, it was good for 3rd place in the 50-59 age group, and 19th overall, out of 547 runners. I can’t complain about that. Lucinda did well, also. Her time was 20:57, which was good for 3rd in her age group, and was also faster than more than 50% of the women there. That’s not bad at all. So we both got a little podium time at the end. And Mark and the West Coast Labels group got the fastest times in almost all the age groups.

Overall, it was a fun outing. Now we will take a break and come back in the fall at the U.S. Bank tower climb.

Full results are here:


Slow food

Filed under: — stan @ 7:26 pm

Today at lunchtime, I took a walk across campus. At the turtle pond, I saw that a fish had somehow gotten out of the water, and was lying dead on the ground. And the turtles had noticed this, too. As I was watching, I saw a very leisurely feeding frenzy develop. This was interesting enough, and slow enough, that I had time to walk back to my office to get my camera.

So here they are, in all their torpid glory.


Translating Raymond

Filed under: — stan @ 10:51 pm

Tonight, Kathleen and I went to see a preview screening of “Exporting Raymond“. This is a documentary about adapting and remaking “Everybody Loves Raymond” in Russia. I’m not a big TV watcher, so I’m only dimly aware of this show, but I hear it was quite popular for a long time. And the story of trying to translate it into Russian culture was very entertaining.

The film was made by and centers around Phil Rosenthal, who was the creator of “Everybody Loves Raymond”. He narrates the film, and he’s in almost all of it, as it chronicles his trips to Russia to advise the producers there about casting and acting to re-create the show.

In the end, it’s just a silly sitcom, but to see it this way with Phil as your guide, it’s really hilarious. Phil was at the screening, and he took questions at the end. He was just as funny in person as in the film. So overall, we really enjoyed this.


Ice Cream!

Filed under: — stan @ 9:09 pm

A new gourmet ice cream place just opened up around the corner from my house. So we took a walk up there to try it out. And it was quite good.

I think we’re going to be walking up there a lot this summer. Yum.


A shortened Sunday ride

Filed under: — stan @ 9:17 pm

Today’s ride was supposed to be a slightly shorter ride than usual, since I had to be back early to cook a big Easter dinner for family. But it turned out to be even shorter than that. We got rained out again.

We rode up through La Cañada and then down the big hill into Glendale. That was all just fine. But then it started to rain. Just a light sprinkle at first, but then it started raining in earnest. So we turned tail and rode to the Metro Rail station at Southwest Museum. From there, we were able to ride the train back to Pasadena. It wasn’t raining quite as hard as the last time we got rained out, but it was still enough that riding in it was No Fun At All.

In the end, we got home without getting too wet. But it was wet enough that my bike computer stopped working. So I don’t know exactly how far we actually rode.

20-mumble miles.


Bird is the word

Filed under: — stan @ 7:26 pm

This little bird was hanging around in front of my office all morning today. I looked through several online bird-identification guides, but I still have no idea what it is.

Addendum: My friend Karl Elvis identified the bird. It’s a guinea hen. Apparently, they are kept as domestic fowl, but they are originally from Africa. I guess that would explain why it wasn’t in the ‘Birds of North America’ guide.


Last practice

Filed under: — stan @ 9:03 pm

Today was my last practice run up the Aon building before the stair climb a week from Saturday. Randy was visiting from Las Vegas, so we met up there to do it.

As always, I rode the train downtown. I hate driving downtown, and try to avoid it whenever possible.

When we got there, we got suited up and headed up to the 4th floor, which is the staging area for the practice climbs. Randy was planning on doing the climb three times. Once slowly just to see what it looked like, once for speed, and one more time I guess for just sheer perversity. I planned on only doing it once, and going as fast as I could.

I repeated my experiment from last time where I started out without my metronome again. I climbed up to 32 before I turned it on. I had it set on 76, and it was hard to keep up with at that point. But I could see from my watch that I was on track to do a pretty good time.

The last 10 or so floors were a real slog. I could hear some people just above me, so I tried to catch them before the finish at 60. I caught a couple of them, but not all. Still, when I came out, I had 10:24, which is my third best practice time ever, so I really can’t complain. It was a fun little evening adventure.


In-N-Out purge

Filed under: — stan @ 8:44 pm

There was an article in Saturday’s L.A. Times about how In-N-Out Burger had recently demolished what was formerly their oldest location, across the freeway from their headquarters in Baldwin Park. So I immediately thought that this would make a good sightseeing bike ride. The article also mentioned that now the oldest In-N-Out location is now the one right near here in Pasadena, so I included that in the route.

It was a perfect day for riding. We started out going past the In-N-Out on Foothill Blvd in Pasadena. Then we headed south all the way to Baldwin Park, where we saw the remains of the former burger stand, followed by the gleaming new headquarters building across the freeway.

Our stop was at Panera Bread in West Covina. The sun was out, and it was just a nice day to sit outside for a bit.

46 miles.


Downtown art

Filed under: — stan @ 11:27 pm

Lucinda’s been on Spring Break this week. So she’s had an unpredictable schedule, and tonight she decided to spend the night at her friend’s house. Which meant that I had an unexpected free evening. So I called Kathleen, and we made plans to meet up in downtown L.A. for the Art Walk. I’ve heard about these things for years, but this was the first time one fell on a night when I could actually go.

I rode the train downtown and we met at the Museum of Neon Art on 4th St. We joined up with the night photography group there, and we all headed up Spring St to the Los Angeles Times, where they were having a ‘popup event’ in the parking lot. We saw lots of nice photos by Times photographers, and we also took some photos of our own. I was kind of fascinated by the Wells Fargo building sign reflected off the One California Plaza building.

After that, we walked back down Spring St to the galleries near MONA. In one of them, we saw a photography show by Jake Thomas, who played Lizzie McGuire’s little brother on the Disney Channel. He’s grown up now, and his photos were quite good.

One of the attractions of the Art Walk is that all the gourmet catering trucks come and set up shop along Spring St. We stopped in at the Lake Street Creamery truck and got some very good ice cream.

All in all, it was a very fun evening. Parking there was kind of an ordeal, but I didn’t have a problem, because I rode the train there. It was a good time.


Susie Bright!

Filed under: — stan @ 11:31 pm

Susie Bright was doing a reading and book signing at my favorite book store, Book Soup. So Kathleen and I met up in NoHo and headed over the hill to go see her. We planned on getting there early, since I know from experience that they don’t have many seats at these things. As luck would have it, right after we got there my friend Nina Hartley showed up, so we staked out seats for ourselves and for Nina and her husband, Ira, also known as Ernest Greene.

Susie read a bit from her book, and she talked some about what went in to writing it. She also answered a lot of questions from the audience. In the process, we even got to meet Ali Davis, who wrote the hilarious book True Porn Clerk Stories.

At the end, we waited in line to meet Susie, which gave me a chance to talk with Ernest some more. We both like to collect Cold War memorabilia, and Kathleen and I had just been to the Nuclear Testing Museum in Las Vegas last month.

All in all, it was a very fun evening.

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