Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Rock Lobster!

Filed under: — stan @ 11:37 pm

Tonight Kathleen and I went to the Greek Theater in Griffith Park to see the B-52s. We’d seen them last summer at a nostalgia show at the Hollywood Bowl, and it was enough fun that we wanted to see them again. It was a nice day today, so it looked like it was going to be a good night.

We got tickets in the side terrace area. I like that section, since the seats are cheaper than anywhere else except the benches in the back, and it’s raised up, so we get a good view of the stage. And as long as we get our tickets early, we get to be close to the edge, so we’re not that far off to the side. We did think it was funny that they had an entire section of seats there closed off, with camouflage netting over it, as if to try and make it so we wouldn’t even notice that there were seats there. The potted tree just added to the absurdity of it.

The show opened with Squeeze, which is another vintage band from the early ’80s. I’m not all that familiar with them, but once they started playing, I found that I recognized a lot more of their songs than I thought I would. They finished their set with their best-known songs, “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)” and “Black Coffee in Bed”. And then it was time for the B-52s.

There was a brief break while they set up the stage, but the Greek runs a tight ship. They have to be finished by 10:30 or 11:00 due to sound restrictions in the area, so they don’t waste time.

Once again, the B-52s did a great show. It was a lot of fun, and it was almost as if it was 1980 again. Nothing not to like about that. They played all their well-known songs, although Kathleen was hoping they would play “Quiche Lorraine“, and I was pretty much resigned to the fact that they weren’t going to play “She Brakes for Rainbows“. Still, we enjoyed the show. I shot one short experimental video with my camera:

It was a good chance to quietly weep for our lost youth. All around, it was a fun evening.


All aboard the Magritte train

Filed under: — stan @ 6:52 am

A few years ago, I went to see an exhibit at LACMA about Rene Magritte. When we were there, we saw his famous painting, “The Treachery of Images“:

this is not a pipe

Magritte is known for sort of teasing the viewer with images that can be self-contradictory, like the pipe with the caption, “This is not a pipe”.

So I thought of this last weekend when I was riding the train to downtown San Diego for the stair climb. I saw this pull into the station:

this train is not red

Who knew that the San Diego MTS had a surrealistic bent?


New horizons in insanity

Filed under: — stan @ 5:24 pm

Today was a new adventure. We’ve gone to San Diego twice now for the Lung Association stair climb, and that’s been fun. But it’s been mostly an excuse for a weekend in San Diego and to visit my father. At 31 stories, the climb itself just isn’t all that hard. But this weekend was the first San Diego Towerthon. This was a stair climb up Columbia Center in San Diego. We were only going to climb up to the 25th floor, but this time, the race was to see how many times we could do that in two hours. This sounded both insane and intriguing to me. After all, back in my bike racing days, I always did better in longer races than I did in short ones. So I thought this would be an interesting experience.

The climb was early on Saturday, which made it difficult to plan to come down that morning. So I hitched a ride with some of my other stair climbing friends on Friday and spent the night at one of the guest rooms at my father’s place. In the morning, I took the bus to the trolley, and rode the train downtown. This was my first time riding the San Diego train, and it was really quite pleasant.

When I got to the building, I checked in and got changed. Then we lined up, and they sent us into the stairs. They had timing mats in the entrance and at the top, and the computer was going to time each of our climbs up the building, and we had two hours to climb, starting from the time when we first stepped on the starting line mat. When it was my turn, I started my stopwatch and headed up.

At the top, we came out in the hallway on the 25th floor. There were volunteers handing out bottles of water and towels. Then they had other volunteers operating the bank of six elevators doing a continuous shuttle from 25 down to the lobby. That worked out well, and we never had to wait more than 20-30 seconds for an elevator for the trip down. One of the elevator operators was a priest, and when he had a look at us, he reminded us that he was qualified to perform last rites, just in case any of us needed that service.

I’d planned on being conservative and taking about 6 minutes to climb the building. But that turned out to be too slow. In the end, I averaged about 5 minutes each time, and in retrospect, I think I could have gone faster. After all, look at the picture. I’m smiling. So that definitely means I could have been going faster.

In the end, I climbed the building 17 times. I was pleasantly surprised by that, since I’d thought I’d only be able to do something like 15 at the most. The stairway was very consistent, and I was able to adapt the stepping pattern I’d worked out at the Aon building last spring to find the minimum-steps method to climb. And because I went up it so many times, I was able to make a chart of it to add to my collection. Sadly, it’s pretty competitive in the over-50 age bracket, and the overall winner, with 21 climbs, was Michael, who’s in the first picture. And I was fourth in my age group. The number three guy also did 17 climbs, but he did them a little bit faster than I did, so he got the medal. But that’s all right. I still got a medal for being part of the West Coast Labels/X-GYM group, which was by far the fastest team there.

After the race was over, I met up with Kathleen and Lucinda. The drove down in my car. We went and checked into our hotel for the night, and that was when I realized that I’d developed a huge blister on my left thumb from swinging around all the left turns on the stair landings. Ow. And also, I thought it was funny that our room number was 408, which is also the exact number of floors I climbed that morning:

Climbing from 1 to 25 = 24 floors;
17 x 24 = 408

What are the odds?

The 408 floors add up to 8,602 steps. That times 7 inches per step means the total climb I did was just a bit over 5,000 feet. Yikes.

Results are here:

I also made a graph of how many runners did how many climbs. The bars represent the number of people who went up N times. The far left bar is the 26 people who climbed it once. And the far right bar is Michael, who climbed it 21 times. I’m fairly pleased to be pretty far out on the tail on the right-hand side of the graph:

bar chart


Glendora and enlightenment

Filed under: — stan @ 9:08 pm

This week’s bike club ride was an old favorite with a new twist. We’ve done the ride to Glendora many, many times before. But this time, on the way back, we stopped off at the Dhammakaya University in Azusa to see the giant golden Buddha they have there.

The ride out was pretty uneventful. Lots of straight and flat roads. When we got there, we stopped at Classic Coffee for a bit before heading back. When we were riding through the new Rosedale development, Stewart reminded us of the giant Buddha, so we took a small detour to go see it. The people there we happy to tell us about the place, and to give us some information about meditation there. Seems like a nice place, even if it’s in kind of an odd location.

It was a nice ride.

37 miles.


Art Walk again

Filed under: — stan @ 10:22 pm

On Thursday night, Kathleen and I went downtown for the monthly Art Walk again. We’ve gone several times before, and it’s usually a fun time. This is the first time we’ve made it there since March, and it was a nice night for it. It was a pleasant evening and not too chilly.

As always, when we first got there, we set off in search of the food trucks. This time, we got some wrap-things from Cheer Burger. They were quite good. And while we were waiting, we saw the manufacturers plate on the back of the truck. So now we know where food trucks come from.

After eating, we wandered around the galleries. We saw lots of things we liked, a few that we didn’t, and that’s about normal for these things. I do think that someday we will have to get one of those jellyfish-looking lighted sculptures to hang in the house. And we didn’t come home completely empty-handed. We bought one small print from an artist in one of the smaller galleries. It was an odd little drawing of an armadillo with flowers growing out of its back. It’s kind of a weird size, so I need to order a special frame to put it in.

All told, it was a fun evening.


Two Entertainers

Filed under: — stan @ 5:43 pm

Today’s bike club ride was another celebrity grave tour. We rode to Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills to visit the graves of Lock Martin and Liberace. They are buried in the same section of the cemetery, but they are each remembered for things that could not be more different. Everyone remembers Liberace and his piano. But Lock Martin’s signature role was one where his face could not be seen. He was the seven-foot-seven actor inside the suit, playing Gort the robot in the 1951 film, “The Day the Earth Stood Still”.

We rode there by way of Eagle Rock, through Los Feliz, and then up and over Mt Hollywood. On the way there, Stewart got a flat on Eagle Rock Blvd. This marks his second appearance in the Flat Tire Gallery.

After riding over Mt Hollywood, we turned left and rode to Forest Lawn. We stopped there for a bit to admire Liberace’s signature and piano drawing on his monument. Then we continued on to our snack stop at Priscilla’s.

The route home this time was the one that goes up and over the Linda Vista hill in Glendale. When we’re coming home from the Burbank area, there’s really no way to get back to Pasadena that doesn’t involve riding up a pretty big hill. Some are bigger than others, but there’s always a hill. This route is the middling one. The hill is bigger than the easiest way back, but nowhere near the punishing grind that some of the other routes have. So we rode up and over, and down the other side to pass the Rose Bowl. And then home on Orange Grove.

It was a pleasant ride.

45 miles.


More adventures in duct-tape astrophotography

Filed under: — stan @ 10:40 pm

Today was the transit of Venus, and I was ready with my small telescope and solar filter. I was home most of the day because the big oak tree in my back yard was being trimmed. That took a good part of the day, and by the time they were done, it was just about time for the show. So I set the telescope up on the driveway and settled in.

My astrophotography rig, such as it is, consists of my Canon A570 camera attached to the eyepiece of the telescope with some packing tape. It’s pretty simple, but it works. The first photo shows the Sun just before the start of the transit. The second was taken when Venus was fully in front of the Sun, which was about 30 minutes in. The other photos were just taken at random times along the way. Sunset was just after the mid-point of the transit, so the last photo was taken just about the mid-point. And of course, while I was doing this, the neighbors were stopping by to look at it, and I even had some people who just happened to be passing by stop for a look.

All told, it made for a fun afternoon. And that’s a good thing, since it won’t happen again until the year 2117.

Tree – Before and After

Filed under: — stan @ 5:54 pm

So here’s my big oak tree, before and after the guys with chainsaws spent the day cutting and thinning. And now I have even more barbecue wood to add to all the wood I collected after the big windstorm last year.

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