Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Thanksgiving

5/30/2011

More adventures in the kitchen

Filed under: — stan @ 9:28 pm

I’d noticed a while back that Kathleen had an ice cream maker in her garage, so I asked her to bring it over this weekend. I thought that this might make for a nice little culinary adventure.

I looked up a couple of recipes for homemade ice cream. I mashed them together and scaled them down a bit, since we were going to make a small batch for the first test of the machine. I thought chocolate chip sounded good, so I got out my little rotary grater with the shaving attachment and made a bowl of chocolate shavings. We scalded some milk and then chilled it in an ice bath. Then we put that and the cream into the ice cream maker and started it up. We packed it with ice and salt, and things were off and running. It took a bit longer than the instructions with the machine said, but in the end, we could see the ice cream forming nicely inside the can. When it was ready, we mixed in the chocolate shavings and put it in the freezer to harden.

And yes, it was quite good.

5/29/2011

Return to the Scene of the Crime

Filed under: — stan @ 8:51 pm

I’d read recently that Michael Jackson’s doctor was being prosecuted in connection with his death, I thought we should take another ride out to visit the scene of the crime. We’d gone there once before. It was a perfect day for riding, and we were in for a lot of it. Since my wheel mishap last week, I’d gotten a new wheel. Since it’s been 3 1/2 years, I thought I’d better change my chain and cassette again, lest I have a repeat of the broken gear incident of 2007. So I took a picture of my clean new drivetrain. It won’t stay that way for long.

We headed out by way of Highland Park, where we got to see Chicken Boy standing next to a billboard advertising a McDonald’s chicken sandwich.

We rode across Hollywood and down the Sunset Strip. The banners told us it was “The Street that Rock Built”. I suppose that’s a fair statement. After that, we crossed into Beverly Hills and rode across to just past the city limits, where the road went back into Los Angeles. That’s where we saw Michael Jackson’s former house. The notes and flowers were gone from the gate, and there was just a realtor’s sign out front.

From there, we headed over to Benedict Canyon, and along the way, I had to stop to admire what I think is one of the greatest mailboxes I’ve ever seen. Then we turned and headed up the canyon. We took a short side trip up Westwanda Dr to see Yvette Vickers’ house. She was in the obituary pages recently with a rather bizarre story, so I wanted to see her house.

At the top of the hill, we regrouped and then headed east to Coldwater Canyon. Mulholland Drive is a pretty nice road to ride on. Then we went down into the Valley and our snack stop at the gelato place in Studio City.

The trip home was pretty straightforward, passing across Glendale and Eagle Rock. It was a very pleasant ride.

56 miles.
cycling

5/25/2011

Now that’s stability

Filed under: — stan @ 5:39 pm

This is from one of my office mail servers:

Copyright (c) 1980, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

FreeBSD 4.8-RELEASE (EQINFO) #0: Wed May 14 10:10:17 GMT 2003

Welcome to FreeBSD!

This is eqinfo3.geo.berkeley.edu.

%date
Wed May 25 12:07:21 PDT 2011
%uptime
12:06PM up 2192 days, 1:34, 1 user, load averages: 0.15, 0.05, 0.01

Yes, that’s right. Six years without a reboot. FreeBSD is up to release 8.2 now, but the old system is ticking along just fine.

5/22/2011

Another architecture tour

Filed under: — stan @ 5:16 pm

I recently saw an item in the Los Angeles Times about the last remaining Greene and Greene house in L.A. being for sale. So I looked it up and we took a ride out to see it today.

We rode into downtown L.A., and then down through to Adams, near USC. Along the way, we passed the convention center and its sign for the “Everything to do with Sex” show. Then we headed west on Adams. The house itself is in the “Harvard Heights Historic District“. Which is apparently a fancy name for a former high-class neighborhood that’s kind of gone to seed. The house across the street was quite large and ornate, but it had broken windows and just did not look like it was being maintained.

Our stop was at Noah’s Bagels on Larchmont. Then we started for home. David got a flat, and while he was changing the tube, I checked the true on my back wheel. It was way off, and a closer look showed that one of the spokes had pulled out of the rim. This sort of thing is never a good sign. So I trued the wheel as best I could and we continued on.

After just about another mile, David said his tire was going flat, so we had to stop again. This time, I took a close look at his tire and found a staple stuck in it. Mystery solved.

Going up Benton Way in Silver Lake, I spotted a new topiary. I don’t know if it can be incorporated into one of the existing Topiary Tours that we do, but I will keep it in mind.

In Eagle Rock, my bike started making a weird noise. Turned out the spoke had come loose from the rim and was flapping around. So I stopped and twisted it around the spoke next to it to hold it still for the ride home.

When we got back into Pasadena, we saw a roadblock in Old Town, so we went to see what it was, and we rode into the middle of a Ferrari show.

It was a kind of strange, but very fun ride.

41 miles.
cycling

5/19/2011

Another person who changed the world we live in

Filed under: — stan @ 7:53 am

In today’s obituaries, we have Willard Boyle, one of the inventors of the CCD, which makes digital cameras possible. I believe that this ranks right up with the invention of tortilla chips or instant ramen noodles. This has enabled an entire generation to post endless streams of Facebook profile pictures. And as is often the case, they didn’t set out to invent the thing they invented:

In the fall of 1969, Boyle and his co-laureate, George E. Smith, both of them at Bell Laboratories, gathered in Boyle’s office after lunch to think about ways to develop a new memory device for computers. Within an hour, they had come up with the rudiments of the CCD.

And this is why we need places like Bell Labs, where scientists can just play around to see what they come up with.

Read the whole story here:

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-willard-boyle-20110519,0,4043815.story

5/17/2011

Major geek

Filed under: — stan @ 8:25 pm

This evening, Kathleen and I made the trek over to west L.A. to the Nuart Theater. The occasion was “The People vs George Lucas“, which promised:

The People Vs George Lucas takes a hard look at the man behind the most popular franchise in film history and asks: What the hell happened?

I’d recently borrowed DVDs of Star Wars Episodes 1, 2, and 3 in preparation for seeing this. And yes, having finally seen those movies now, I can understand all the anguished cries of disappointment that I’d heard from all the geeks when they first came out. The film’s web site even went so far as to say:

Is The Phantom Menace so bad it should carry a health warning?

So yes, this was all tremendously entertaining, and well worth seeing.

5/15/2011

Viva Las Vegas

Filed under: — stan @ 10:12 pm

I’ve been to Las Vegas twice in the last two years, both times to compete in the Stratosphere Tower stair climb. Each time, after I came back, Lucinda said that she wanted to go there. So this weekend, we did just that. Lucinda and I took a trip to Las Vegas with Kathleen and her daughter Trinh. It was a pretty free-form affair. We had two rooms reserved at the Stratosphere, and the only planned activities were riding the three big roller coasters. Beyond that, it was all open.

We headed out early Friday afternoon. That put us ahead of the Friday afternoon traffic, and it got us there a bit early. That meant that we had time to stop off at the state line and ride the Desperado roller coaster at Buffalo Bill’s in Primm. As always, Lucinda was a bit apprehensive, but afterward, she said that she liked it. So that was good.

When we got to Las Vegas, we checked in and then went to dinner at The Peppermill. Kathleen and I had gone there back in March when we were there for the stair climb, and we liked it. After that, we all took a walk down the Strip, since the girls wanted to do some sightseeing. Along the way, a homeless man christened Lucinda with a new nickname: “Pebbles”. After that, we went back to the Stratosphere and took a ride up the tower. At the top, we took in the view and had a look at the rides and all the lights from the city.

On Saturday morning, Lucinda and Trinh went to the Premium Outlet downtown to shop for swimsuits. And after that, they went to the pool. So that left me and Kathleen to our own devices. I got up early and went to do some stair climbing with my friend Randy. We went to Fitzgerald’s in downtown. Apparently, this is the hotel that the fire department trains in, so they don’t have a problem with people coming in there to run the stairs. We did the 33 floors four times, which was fun in its own weird way. Stair climbing is still the most painful thing I’ve ever done, but I still like it. I really can’t explain that.

After the stair climbing, Kathleen and I went out for some sightseeing and visiting. We had found out that my old tattoo artist, Dave Zero has a shop just about two blocks from the Stratosphere. So we took a walk up there to go see him. After that, we spent the rest of the afternoon there doing more typical Las Vegas-y things.

When dinner time arrived, we walked back to the Stratosphere and got the car. Then we headed down to Circus Circus to meet the girls there. We were all going to ride the Canyon Blaster roller coaster in the Adventuredome amusement park. We rode the coaster twice, since it was a pretty fun ride. Then we all went to dinner there before heading downtown. We’d seen an article about the Neon Museum and how they had a display of old neon signs on Fremont St in downtown. Since I’d never been there since they’d built the Fremont Street Experience, it seemed like it could be a lot of fun.

When we got there, the girls saw the zipline down Fremont St, and they all wanted to do it. I wasn’t really in the mood for it, so they went without me. While they waited in line, and I scoped out where to stand to get the best pictures when they came down the wire. My new camera has a low-light mode that works pretty well. They enjoyed their ride, and all in all, it was a very fun evening.

On Sunday, we checked out of the hotel and headed over to Randy and Lynn’s house for a barbecue. The girls went in the pool with their kids. Lucinda got a little sunburned, but aside from that, it was a good time. After that, we stopped off at Luv-It for some frozen custard. Yum. Then we went to New York, New York to ride the roller coaster there. But sadly, the wind had picked up enough that they’d closed the ride, so that will have to wait for next time.

By now, the girls were tired, and it was time to head for home. It was a fun weekend.

5/7/2011

Neon philately

Filed under: — stan @ 6:09 pm

Today, we went over to Glendale to a small party that they Post Office and the Museum of Neon Art were holding for the official release of a new stamp with a design based on neon art. This was held at the Americana in Glendale, which I’d never been to before. Kathleen described it as being “just like Disneyland, but without the rides.” I guess we’ll be seeing more of that area in the future, since the Museum of Neon Art is going to be moving in across the street some time early next year. They had the artist there to tell the story of how he came up with the design, and also to sign envelopes and sheets of stamps for the collectors.

We took a walk around just to see what else was there. We saw the requisite religious fanatic telling us the end is nigh. We also saw some faded old advertisements on a wall across the street. Being a cooking geek, we had to take a browse through Sur La Table to look all the overpriced kitchen gadgets.

It was a fun little afternoon adventure.

5/1/2011

The relatively flat ride to nowhere in particular

Filed under: — stan @ 1:44 pm

I didn’t have any particular destination in mind for this Sunday’s bike ride, so it seemed like a good time to do the Relatively Flat Ride. This is the route I made up that tries to avoid as many hills as possible.

It was a nice day, and overall, it was a pleasant ride. The only blot on the day was provided by the driver of a white Nissan Frontier truck, license number 7N63399, who was acting like an asshole. But he stopped doing it and took off when he noticed I was taking pictures of him. Such is life on the road.

Aside from the aforementioned asshole, it was a very pleasant ride.

42 miles.
cycling

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