Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Thanksgiving

8/28/2011

Barbie

Filed under: — stan @ 1:59 pm

It’s the last Sunday of the month, so that means it’s time for the slightly-longer Sunday morning bike club ride. This is our chance to go places that are a little farther away than normal. So today’s ride was out to Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, to pay respects to Ruth and Elliott Handler, who were the founders of Mattel Toys. They are respectively credited with inventing the Barbie doll and Hot Wheels. Even though those are just toys, they made a mark on the world.

We had a smallish group today. It was forecast to be hot, and I think that scared some people off.

The route took us through downtown Los Angeles, and then out along West Adams, roughly paralleling the new Metro Expo line. We got to see it along the way. It’s coming along nicely, and it will probably be ready to open pretty soon.

In Culver City, we saw the hill with the Culver City stairs. A lot of the competitive stair climbers I know practice there. By the number of people going up there on a Sunday morning, it looks like a popular place.

There was construction on Sepulveda Blvd down near Fox Hills Mall. That was a bit unpleasant. But we made it to Hillside Memorial Park just fine. The Handlers are buried in the far back of the cemetery. Elliott died fairly recently, so he just had temporary marker next to Ruth’s. They are also buried next to their son, Kenneth, who was the namesake of the Ken doll.

On the way back, we saw a fountain in Culver City that seems to be popular with little kids. We stopped for a bagel at Noah’s on Venice Blvd. It had turned out to be a perfect day. It was about 76F, with a nice breeze off the ocean.

We took a new variation of the route back this time, going on 4th St through Hancock Park. This allowed us to take a one-block side trip to see the House of Davids. There was an article in the Times recently about this. The owner wants to sell the house and move away. Apparently, he is dismayed that his house is more famous than he is. Go figure.

As we got back to Pasadena, it got quite a bit hotter. But it was still below 100, so it wasn’t as hot as we’d been expecting. There were big thunderclouds up over the mountains, which is not unusual this time of the year.

It was a nice ride.

55 miles.

3 Responses to “Barbie”

  1. G.M. Grena Says:

    You linked to the 2nd of 4 videos PJ Glassey posted about the Culver City stairs (a.k.a., “Jefferson stairs” or “Baldwin Hills Stairway”). The 1st was in 2009, the 3rd later in 2010, & the 4th in 2011. I’m hoping there will be a 5th this year with Sproule Love!

    I was not able to find technical info about them online (the CA State Parks page for the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook doesn’t say much, but they do provide a link to a PDF schematic of the overall park & its location), but I did find some conflicting counts:

    “375 to 500+ steps” (clearly including additional steps on long horizontal landings)

    “around 500″ (probably influenced by the former)

    “375″ (again, probably influenced by the former, but also possibly by the 375′ marker, which I’ll discuss later)

    “about 300″

    “230ish”

    “282″

    “281″

    “281″

    “281″ in a comment by Thianne G. on May 11, 2012

    And a variety in 4 comments on this Yelp page:
    “281″ by Lei W., 2/18/2011
    “280″ by Oscar P., 9/22/2012
    “282″ by Amy C., 10/1/2012
    “282″ Vivian C., 10/7/2012

    I’m sure there are more, but that’s a good sample of the top results from Google, & from these, it seems likely there are either 281 or 282. I rode my bike there today, & spent 2.5 hours measuring every single one (I had originally estimated it would only take about 20 minutes!).

    Due to the irregular, handmade construction of these steps, there is no absolute right/wrong set of measurements. I made my measurements in the general center of the steps, but even these are approximate due to the uneven surfaces, uneven edges, & in some cases sloping mud at the horizontal/vertical junction making it impossible to get an exact measurement. In most cases, however, my readings are accurate to within a quarter inch, though some can be off by a whole inch.

    After adding them up, my horizontal sum is 780 feet, whereas the Google Earth reading is 895 feet. My vertical sum is 246 feet, & Google’s is 273 feet (422-149). Why such a huge discrepancy?

    If I were to add an entire inch to each horizontal measurement, it would only add about 23 feet. Sorry, but there’s no way my measurements were off by several inches, with the possible exception of the longest landing that’s about 56 feet (I was using a 25′ tape).

    My vertical readings were far more accurate than the horizontal readings simply due to the shorter distances, & the level nature of the step, whereas the horizontal edges are very broken.

    So how accurate are the measurements using Google Earth? Well for general distances in terms of miles, they’re excellent. The problem with these step measurements is that the satellite is not necessarily directly over the steps, so there’s an unknown amount of skew. For example, yesterday I measured the 7 major staircases along the beach bike trail south of the Redondo Beach pier. When I got home & began documenting them, analyzing them in Google Earth, as I moved my cursor over the image of the steps, the altitude kept dropping even as I was positioned over the more-than-6-foot-wide bike/ped path, which is almost perfectly flat.

    I mentioned earlier that I’d return to the 375′ marker. It’s embedded in the center of the next-to-the-top landing, & you can see photos of it here. I have to believe a semi-competent surveyor installed that marker at that level rather than at the top landing or a lower one for sound reasons. But guess what that level is according to Google Earth when you zoom in on it? 401′. Those who think California is sinking or that Global Warming is causing the seas to rise should investigate this!

    One more note on the readings, which I’ll post below in a separate comment: Two of the long intermediate landings are significantly sloped (one is about 1 foot, another is about 2 feet over their respective horizontal distances). So rather than adding my approximations to the actual step height, I broke each step into 2 faux steps: one with the vertical guess paired with the actual horizontal reading, & another with the actual vertical reading paired with a zero horizontal reading. So even though you’ll see 283 XY readings, my actual step count (stone steps, not the number of human steps to climb them) is 281, but see my asterisk note following these general stats:

    Maximum Horizontal = 672″ (56′)
    Average Horizontal = 33″
    Minimum Horizontal = 12″

    Maximum Vertical = 20″ (*)
    Average Vertical = 10.5″
    Minimum Vertical = 3.5″

    * (give or take an inch; the step is 2/3rds concrete+stones, 1/3rd dirt, which is unusual since all the others are completely concrete+stones; this one’s the first step up after the second landing, which is the one with a 2-foot slope, so I suspect there was originally another step located here, which would lend credence to anyone who counted 282 prior to its destruction)

    It’s worth mentioning that the first 68 steps are all over 8″, averaging around 13″. A typical skyscraper step is 11″ horizontal (actually 12″ with a 1″ overhang), 7″ vertical. It takes 421 of those to reach the 246′ height of this outdoor staircase (6300 Hetzler Rd, Culver City CA 90232).

  2. G.M. Grena Says:

    # X Y (from bottom to top; measured in inches but shown in feet)
    1 1.0 1.3
    2 4.8 2.3
    3 7.3 3.5
    4 10.1 4.7
    5 13.3 5.7
    6 16.5 6.6
    7 19.0 7.4
    8 75.0 8.3
    9 78.3 9.2
    10 81.8 10.1
    11 85.1 11.0
    12 87.5 12.0
    13 92.1 13.0
    14 96.1 14.1
    15 102.1 15.0
    16 107.3 15.9
    17 116.5 16.6
    18 125.8 17.5
    19 131.5 18.4
    20 136.0 19.3
    21 159.7 21.3 (faux step; sloped horizontal)
    21 159.7 23.0
    22 162.9 24.3
    23 165.7 25.3
    24 168.7 26.3
    25 173.0 27.3
    26 179.1 28.2
    27 183.4 29.2
    28 187.0 30.2
    29 190.8 31.2
    30 195.0 32.2
    31 198.5 33.1
    32 217.0 34.1 (faux step; sloped horizontal)
    32 217.0 35.5
    33 219.9 36.5
    34 222.9 37.8
    35 226.2 38.5
    36 229.0 39.5
    37 232.1 40.5
    38 235.7 41.5
    39 239.6 42.5
    40 243.8 43.5
    41 247.1 45.0
    42 251.0 46.0
    43 254.5 47.3
    44 257.2 48.5
    45 260.3 49.6
    46 262.7 50.6
    47 265.9 51.8
    48 268.5 52.7
    49 271.5 53.7
    50 274.4 55.0
    51 277.4 56.0
    52 280.7 56.8
    53 284.2 57.8
    54 287.5 59.0
    55 290.2 60.0
    56 293.7 61.0
    57 298.9 62.5
    58 302.4 63.9
    59 307.5 65.3
    60 312.8 66.9
    61 317.1 68.0
    62 321.8 69.3
    63 325.6 70.2
    64 329.8 71.5
    65 331.5 72.4
    66 333.5 73.3
    67 334.8 73.7
    68 336.8 74.3
    69 339.4 74.7
    70 340.9 75.5
    71 344.7 76.3
    72 347.2 76.8
    73 349.9 77.4
    74 352.5 78.2
    75 355.7 78.9
    76 357.0 79.7
    77 358.5 80.0
    78 360.1 80.6
    79 361.3 81.0
    80 363.7 81.7
    81 365.0 82.5
    82 366.3 82.9
    83 369.0 83.9
    84 371.9 84.7
    85 373.4 85.3
    86 374.9 86.1
    87 387.4 86.5
    88 389.4 87.1
    89 391.6 87.8
    90 392.9 88.2
    91 394.5 88.8
    92 395.9 89.7
    93 397.0 90.2
    94 399.3 90.8
    95 400.8 91.6
    96 403.3 92.2
    97 404.6 93.0
    98 408.6 93.7
    99 410.4 94.5
    100 414.0 95.5
    101 415.7 96.4
    102 418.6 97.2
    103 420.1 97.6
    104 421.7 98.4
    105 423.4 99.1
    106 425.1 99.9
    107 426.3 100.3
    108 428.6 101.0
    109 430.0 101.9
    110 433.3 102.6
    111 434.8 103.0
    112 437.3 103.6
    113 438.6 104.5
    114 441.6 105.1
    115 442.9 106.0
    116 446.1 106.9
    117 448.9 107.7
    118 450.4 108.7
    119 452.2 109.5
    120 453.6 110.3
    121 455.0 111.1
    122 456.4 111.6
    123 457.9 112.5
    124 460.4 113.3
    125 463.2 114.2
    126 464.6 115.0
    127 467.0 115.9
    128 468.6 116.6
    129 469.9 117.1
    130 471.5 117.9
    131 472.8 118.4
    132 474.5 119.1
    133 475.9 119.8
    134 477.5 120.5
    135 478.8 121.3
    136 480.2 122.2
    137 481.5 123.0
    138 482.8 123.9
    139 485.1 124.4
    140 486.5 125.4
    141 487.9 126.3
    142 489.3 127.2
    143 490.7 128.1
    144 492.3 128.8
    145 493.7 129.7
    146 495.2 130.6
    147 496.5 131.5
    148 498.0 132.3
    149 499.3 133.1
    150 500.9 133.9
    151 502.3 134.8
    152 503.8 135.5
    153 505.2 136.5
    154 506.9 137.3
    155 521.9 138.4
    156 524.8 139.2
    157 526.2 140.0
    158 527.5 141.0
    159 528.9 141.9
    160 530.3 142.8
    161 531.7 143.8
    162 533.0 144.6
    163 534.4 145.5
    164 536.3 146.5
    165 537.6 147.4
    166 538.9 148.2
    167 540.2 149.1
    168 541.5 150.0
    169 543.6 150.8
    170 544.9 151.8
    171 546.5 152.6
    172 547.8 153.4
    173 549.5 154.3
    174 550.8 155.2
    175 553.2 156.0
    176 554.7 156.8
    177 556.1 157.8
    178 557.5 158.6
    179 558.9 159.4
    180 560.3 160.3
    181 562.8 161.0
    182 564.3 161.7
    183 565.8 162.5
    184 567.3 163.3
    185 568.6 164.0
    186 569.9 164.9
    187 571.0 165.8
    188 572.0 166.5
    189 573.2 167.1
    190 574.5 167.9
    191 575.9 168.6
    192 577.2 169.6
    193 578.5 170.5
    194 579.9 171.3
    195 581.3 171.9
    196 582.3 172.7
    197 583.8 173.7
    198 585.1 174.8
    199 587.3 175.4
    200 588.6 176.5
    201 590.6 177.4
    202 593.4 178.3
    203 594.8 179.1
    204 596.1 179.9
    205 597.4 180.6
    206 600.0 181.4
    207 601.3 182.4
    208 602.7 183.4
    209 603.8 184.3
    210 606.4 185.5
    211 609.1 186.3
    212 610.5 187.4
    213 612.3 188.3
    214 615.1 189.3
    215 616.5 190.3
    216 619.1 191.0
    217 620.5 192.2
    218 622.0 193.2
    219 624.3 194.0
    220 625.8 195.1
    221 628.6 195.9
    222 629.9 196.8
    223 631.3 197.8
    224 634.2 198.9
    225 636.9 200.2
    226 638.3 201.3
    227 640.9 202.2
    228 642.5 203.1
    229 645.2 204.1
    230 646.6 205.2
    231 649.4 206.0
    232 652.0 207.3
    233 655.3 208.4
    234 657.9 209.5
    235 660.6 210.4
    236 663.1 211.5
    237 665.5 212.5
    238 667.9 213.6
    239 670.5 214.7
    240 673.2 215.9
    241 675.9 216.5
    242 677.4 217.3
    243 680.1 218.2
    244 683.7 219.3
    245 686.6 220.3
    246 689.8 221.3
    247 692.3 222.0
    248 705.6 223.0
    249 707.8 223.8
    250 710.7 224.8
    251 713.2 225.7
    252 715.8 226.6
    253 717.9 227.4
    254 720.1 228.3
    255 722.9 229.3
    256 725.7 230.2
    257 728.0 231.1
    258 730.6 232.0
    259 733.5 233.1
    260 736.0 234.2
    261 738.6 235.3
    262 741.3 236.3
    263 744.2 236.9
    264 745.9 237.6
    265 748.6 238.4
    266 750.2 239.1
    267 751.8 239.7
    268 753.2 240.3
    269 756.5 241.0
    270 758.1 241.4
    271 759.7 242.0
    272 762.7 242.3
    273 764.7 242.6
    274 766.7 243.0
    275 768.6 243.3
    276 770.6 243.6
    277 772.6 243.9
    278 775.0 244.4
    279 776.7 244.8
    280 778.4 245.1
    281 779.9 245.6
    [upper platform viewing area]

  3. G.M. Grena Says:

    Oops! Double-checking myself, I discovered I skipped a duplicate step near the top! The coordinates up to the 275th step are correct, but here are the right ones for 276-282:

    276 770.5 243.6
    277 772.5 244.0
    278 774.5 244.3
    279 776.9 244.8
    280 778.6 245.1
    281 780.3 245.5
    282 781.8 245.9

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