Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Thanksgiving

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4/29/2012

The cupcake ATM

Filed under: — stan @ 2:25 pm

A few months ago, I read an article about how Sprinkles cupcakes in Beverly Hills had installed a ‘cupcake ATM’ on the front of their store. This is an automated machine that sells a selection of their cupcakes 24 hours a day. The very idea is quite absurd, but it’s also funny. And of course, I immediately looked up where it was so I could plan a bike ride there to see it.

On the way across Hollywood, we stopped to see Carol Burnett’s star in front of the old Pacific Theater. We’d heard the story as part of the Neon Cruise last night, so I wanted to stop and see it.

In West Hollywood, we went past Dicks St, which we’ve been out to see before. Then it was on into Beverly Hills to see the Cupcake ATM. We got there just as the store was opening. There was a line outside waiting to get in. But we were there for the machine, so I went straight for that. It has a touch screen menu that was easy to use, but it really needs an awning over it. It was very hard to see in the sun. It played a little earworm ‘I love Sprinkles’ jingle when it wasn’t being used. I guess that’s its way of being its own carnival barker.

I selected a Dark Chocolate cupcake. I put my credit card in, and the machine started making a lot of mechanical noises for a few seconds before the little cylinder on the front rotated around to reveal a single cupcake in a little box, ready to go. It was packaged quite nicely. I took it out and ate half of it right there. Then I stuffed the box in my pocket. I was curious to see how well it would travel.

You can see it in action on youtube.

We had a quick bathroom break at Will Rogers Park in Beverly Hills before heading up Benedict Canyon. When we got to Mulholland Drive at the top of the hill, I took out my cupcake. The top had separated from the bottom on the ride up. So there are limits to how well it can travel in the little box. But it was still tasty. It was about as good as a bought cupcake can be. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to baked goods in general.

We rode along Mulholland for a while, stopping briefly to look at the mailbox at Fire Station 97. Then we turned off down into Studio City to stop at the gelato place we like there. After that, we headed home by the shortest route. This was a bit longer than our usual ride, and it was getting late. When I got home, I had 59.7 miles, so I went around the block once, just to make it a nice route number with a zero on the end.

60 miles.

4/28/2012

Saturday night neon

Filed under: — stan @ 10:49 pm

Since the Museum of Neon Art is in the process of moving to Glendale, they held a special Neon Cruise on Saturday night, beginning and ending at the Americana there. This was our third time doing a Neon Cruise, and it was fun like always.

The actual cruise route was very similar to the others. There are some neon signs in Glendale, but apparently, not all that many. We headed into downtown Los Angeles by way of Angelino Heights. The cruise is not just neon, but also takes in a lot of local history, so the old Victorian houses on Carroll Avenue were a nice sight. When we got downtown, we had a brief stop at Phillippe’s for snacks, drinks, and neon signs. I think this may have been the only time I’ve ever been to Phillippe’s when I wasn’t on jury duty.

I brought along some cookie’s I’d made and shared them with the other tourists on the bus. It’s a good way to try out new recipes, since I’m doing development now of recipes to enter in this year’s L.A. County Fair.

Heading out of downtown, we went up into Hollywood for a trip down Hollywood Boulevard, and a stop at the Cat and the Fiddle. After that, we headed back to the Americana for the end of the tour.

It was a fun evening.

A visit to the Bunny Museum

Filed under: — stan @ 9:53 pm

Today is Obscura Day. It’s a day to see and do odd and obscure things. And today, I noticed that there was an event very close to my house. The Bunny Museum was hosting an event for Obscura Day. They’ve been on my list of things to go see for a long time, so today was the day.

We went up there after I got back from bike riding. I knew where they were, since the giant topiary rabbit in the front yard is one of the stops on my Topiary Tour bike ride. We signed in and took the tour.

There were bunnies. Stuffed plush bunnies. Porcelain figurine bunnies. Real, live bunnies. Freeze-dried former live bunnies. Pictures of bunnies. Household objects in the shape of bunnies. Books about bunnies. Books with ‘bunny’ in the title. It was impressive.

It was an amazing and amusing afternoon.

More weirdness by bike

Filed under: — stan @ 8:12 pm

On Saturday morning, I went out for a little ride. I wanted to go see the Doo Dah Parade. It’s only about a mile from my house, but it didn’t start until 11:00. So I rode there by way of Duarte.

In Monrovia, I saw a house that had bushes that were trimmed so they looked like they came out of a Dr Seuss book. A few of them had very flat tops, and I was curious if I could stand my water bottle up on one of them. So I did. I had to put my walled on the bush to spread the load out, but then it made a fine little table.

In Bradbury, I saw a golden mailbox. I suppose it only gets good mail. No bills or jury duty summons ever could sully the golden mailbox. Then, around the corner, I saw the chromed stamped steel mailbox with a hot-rod flames flag. That was a good one, too.

When I got to Duarte, I saw another flat-topped tufted bush, so I stood my water bottle up on it for a picture.

There was a school sign that said “DOLPHINS WILL ROCK THE TEST”. That’s not what The Onion told me.

On the way back through Arcadia, I stopped to look at the tennis-playing light fixtures, and I also saw some peafowl wandering about.

When I got back to Pasadena, it was time for the parade, so I went to see that. Here are the pictures:

http://www.1134.org/gallery/index.php/stan/random/doodah2012

24 miles.

4/22/2012

Castle Green

Filed under: — stan @ 10:16 pm

Today was the springtime Castle Green tour day. Castle Green is an old hotel in Pasadena that has been converted into apartments. It’s a unique place. I’ve been here for the tour once before, but that was years ago, so it was time to see it again.

The tour starts when we walk into the lobby. The sign said that the lights were deliberately left exposed without glass globes so that we could see that they were using electric lighting, which was a new thing when the building first opened.

We walked up the stairs one floor at a time, stopping to see the apartments that were open for the tour on each floor. We got to see one apartment that Tim Burton used to live in. That was most likely back in the days when Old Town Pasadena still smelled of urine, and was a relatively cheap place to live.

The building and decor in Castle Green are very interesting and amusing. We enjoyed seeing how each apartment was decorated. I particularly liked seeing how each person who has one of the end apartments decided to decorate the round room in the turret at the south end of the building.

We made our way up one floor at a time, until we came out on the roof. After that, we went back down to see the rest of the first floor, and also the one open suite in the basement.

It was a fun afternoon.

Fern Dell and the Haunted Picnic Table

Filed under: — stan @ 8:41 pm

Today’s bike club ride was the “Fern Dell and The Trails” ride to Griffith Park. This is the first time we’ve done this one since last summer.

It was cool and overcast when we started out. We had a good-sized group today. The route out took us through Eagle Rock and then down to the L.A. River and Silver Lake. We had to take a small detour there, since there was a sign that said that Glendale Blvd was closed for a short stretch. So we went up Riverside to detour around it. Then we headed up Hillhurst into Griffith Park.

The ride up to Griffith Observatory is always a joy. That is, it’s a joy if you like riding up steep hills. It’s a pretty hard climb, but we got to the top all right, and we rested for a few minutes on the lawn there. Then we headed down Western Canyon Road to Fern Dell and The Trails.

The cafe was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it. There was a line, and about half the tables were full. That was kind of unusual. I also had a laugh at the stuffed crow nailed to the roof of the building. Shades of the Dead Parrot. I also thought it was funny that they made a point of telling us that the plastic utensils are biodegradable, even though they looked and felt like regular plastic. And I was also amused by the choice of sugar, liquid sugar, raw sugar, and honey.

When we left The Trails, we had to ride back up the hill into the park, and this time, we continued on all the way up Mt Hollywood. When we got to the top, my phone was making its ‘barking sea lions’ sound for an incoming message. Carla said that Silvio had gotten a flat on the way up. So I rode back down to find them. When we got his tire fixed, we started up again. Just over the top, John and I stopped to have a look at the ‘Haunted Picnic Table‘. This is a pretty good prank. The guy who made that story up made a very convincing-looking fake L.A. Times web page for the article. The key is that ‘rn’ can look like an ‘m’ in the location bar of your browser. So we stopped for a photo-op with the crushed picnic table before headed down the hill.

At the bottom of the hill, I heard the sea lions barking again. This time, Carla said that Silvio’s tire had blown out back up near the top of the hill. So we turned around and rode back up the hill to find them. About halfway up, we found everyone else coming down. They said that Silvio was throwing in the towel. He was walking down the hill, and had called home for a ride. So the rest of us continued on.

There were some fire engines and an ambulance parked by the river where the bike path starts. I have no idea what they were doing there, but they looked like they were doing something.

We rode down the bike path all the way to the end where Riverside goes over the river and turns into Figueroa. From there, we rode up Figueroa into Highland Park, and then across the arroyo to South Pasadena.

All told, it was a pleasant ride. It was supposed to be about 45 miles, but with all the extra riding up and down Mt Hollywood, when I got home, I had 49.5. So I rode back down the block once just to make it come out to a nice round 50.

50 miles.

4/18/2012

It’s been 100 years

Filed under: — stan @ 8:35 am

So it’s time for the Gin and Titonic ice cube tray. We got one of these recently, and here it is in action:

4/15/2012

Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh my!

Filed under: — stan @ 8:21 pm

This week’s bike club ride is a theme ride with a kind of silly theme. It’s April 15th, and that’s a day that many people associate with something painful. So I thought it was time that we go and ride up Mountain Lion Hill again. That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done outside of a skyscraper stairwell. But then, I’d been reading this past week about Glen Bearian, the bear that came down out of the mountains to feast on Costco meatballs from suburban freezers in Glendale. I looked it up, and the neighborhood where he was stealing meatballs is not far from the mountain lions on Pine Glen Road. So a theme emerged. I had lions and bears. All I had to do was find a tiger and we would have the holy triumvirate of Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh my!

Tigers are kind of thin on the ground here in southern California, so in the end, I had to settle for a school in Glendale with a tiger mascot painted on the wall by the front door. Close enough. And we were off.

We rode up into La Cañada and down Hospital Hill into Montrose. And then the long uphill grind up Briggs in La Crescenta. That’s a hard hill, and when we got to the top, the fun was just beginning. That was where we got to Pine Glen Road and Mountain Lion Hill. That’s about a 20% grade, and it goes on for a good while. But at the top, we got a very nice view. Then we headed down Pine Cone Road.

The next major turn was on Santa Carlotta in La Crescenta. But it appears that they’ve changed the street signs since the last time we were there. We missed the turn, and when I got to within sight of Foothill Blvd, I knew something was wrong. I turned around and headed back up the hill, and I got all the way to the top without finding it. It turns out the turn was on Orange, and then the name changed a block later. But that meant I was back on the route.

A turn down Boston Ave brought me to the neighborhood where the bear was found. They had a big rolling sign set up to remind anyone to call 911 if they saw a bear.

Our snack stop was supposed to be at the little bakery on Ocean View in Montrose, but it seems to have changed owners, and it’s not open on Sundays any more. So we ended up at the Coffee Bean across the street. We got a table in the sun, so it was pleasant.

After that, we rode down into Glendale to pass by the school on Broadway, just so we could complete the triumvirate of Lions and Tigers and Bears. Then it was home across Eagle Rock and up the Colorado hill back into Pasadena.

It was a slightly shorter ride than usual, but with the hills, it was still good.

36 miles.

4/14/2012

When girls collide

Filed under: — stan @ 10:02 pm

It’s time for another visit to the Doll Factory to see the L.A. Derby Dolls. We enjoyed this a lot the first time we went, so we’re back for more.

We made a point to get there a bit earlier this time. Partly to find a better viewing spot on the rail, partly to have time to get dinner from one of the food trucks there, and also to have a chance to see the vendor area. We had a look at the Blue Velvet cupcakes, gourmet cookies that were almost as good as the ones I make at home, and lots of roller derby clothes for sale. Then we went outside and got some burgers from the Mesohungry Truck.

Coming back inside, it was almost time for the game to start. Tonight’s match was between two of the Derby Dolls teams: Fight Crew vs Sirens. I don’t know how they decide who is going to be on what team, but it seemed that the Fight Crew was outmatched. The game was interesting and exciting, but in the end, it reminded me of my college days, watching Rice football games. Those games were never even close. Still, the whole thing was tremendously entertaining. And we’ll definitely be going back again in the future.

4/8/2012

Did I ever mention that my camera rocks?

Filed under: — stan @ 3:54 pm

It was a warm, sunny afternoon. And the hummingbirds were out and about. So I got my big zoom lens and sat on the swing on my back porch to see if I could get some pictures of them. And I’m very pleased with my camera.

This camera is the sixth Canon I’ve owned, and they’ve all been great. I’m still getting to know this one, but even now, I’m getting great results from it.

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