Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Thanksgiving

7/31/2016

Pyramid Scheme

Filed under: — stan @ 3:17 pm

A few years ago, the Sunday bike club group rode the Ciclavia to Venice. On the way back, we passed by the back side of Angelus-Rosedale cemetery, and I noticed a 10-12 foot high pyramid in the cemetery. I was curious, and I found out that there were two pyramids in that cemetery, and only three in the Los Angeles area. We rode down there to see the two pyramids, and today’s ride was to Brand Park in Glendale to see the third one and complete the trilogy.

The pyramid is in the small Brand family cemetery, which is all the way in the back of Brand Park. We had to walk our bikes past a gate, and then we had to walk up a flight of steps at the end of the road to see it. It was about the same size as the other two pyramids, but it did not have a door like the others.

After seeing the pyramid, we went to Paradise Bakery for eclairs. I’ve always said that their eclairs are the best, although they seem to have altered the recipe a bit. The filling was more whipped-cream-like than it used to be, and the eclairs were about 50% larger. But it was still good. Then we headed home by way of La Cañada. In the end, when I got home I realized I’d made a mistake, and the route was not quite as long as I thought it would be. But we got to see the pyramid.

32 miles

Route map and elevation profile

7/24/2016

Dome Day

Filed under: — stan @ 2:51 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a dome-themed ride. First, we went to see the “Domestead” in Glassell Park. This is a three-level house in a geodesic dome built into a hillside. And on the way back, we went to see the ‘Bubble House‘ in Pasadena, which has the distinction of being the only such house still standing in the U.S.

The Domestead is just one street below the “Big and Small House” that we went to see a couple years ago. And they’re both at the top of a pretty steep hill. Not quite as terrifyingly steep as the one we rode up last week in Echo Park, but still pretty steep. You can see it on the elevation profile. It’s the spike at about the 12 mile mark.

After we saw the Domestead, we continued on, picking up the L.A. River bike path. Our snack stop was at Spoke in Frogtown. I saw that they were selling vintage vinyl records for $5 there. Which is about what records cost back in the day. But $5 was a lot to me when I was 14 years old.

The route back was kind of roundabout, which was by design. Along the way, I had a laugh at the laundromat with the sign that read “LAUNDY”. Then we ended up in South Pasadena for the ride up Los Robles to the bubble house.

41 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

7/17/2016

Doheny Library at USC

Filed under: — stan @ 2:09 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a mishmash sightseeing ride.

The first bit of sightseeing was the closed bit of the 210 freeway in Pasadena. This didn’t have a catchy name, like “Carmageddon” did, but seeing a freeway with no cars on it is strange no matter what. There was even a news truck parked on the overpass. But when we looked, it was really only the ramps that feed into the northbound 210 that were closed. It was really pretty anticlimactic.

Continuing on, we headed south into downtown Los Angeles. We took a short detour to go see the old Fire Station 23 on 5th St. This was the location used for all the firehouse interior scenes from the 1984 “Ghostbusters”.

The main bit of sightseeing for the day was Doheny Library at USC. I had recently been to a talk at Caltech where the retiring Vice President of Finance told us a story about the library building. Apparently, when Rice University was starting up, they had their architect design the main administration building, as well as the library. The two buildings were meant to form the ends of the main academic quad on campus. But due to some financial trouble, the library was never built. In the meantime, Edward Doheny gave USC a donation to build a new library. They contacted their architect, who was the same one who had designed the buildings for Rice, and he told them that he had a library already designed and ready to build, so that’s what they did. So in the end, the building that was designed to be a companion to Lovett Hall ended up being built on the USC campus. When I heard this story, I figured it would make a good sightseeing destination, both for the architectural interest, and because Amiee and I are both Rice alumni. And sure enough, it looked a lot like Lovett Hall.

Riding back up Hill and Olive, we went back into downtown, and then turned west. The plan was to try a new route to get to Echo Park and Chango Coffee. I’d looked up a way to get there from Benton Way in Silverlake. And as it turned out, that way involved riding up and over a short, but terrifyingly-steep hill. It’s pretty rare that I have to use may lowest gear, but it came out today.

Once we made it over that hill, we were in Echo Park. But we had one more bit of sightseeing. I’d read an article in Atlas Obscura about Randyland, which is a big art project in front of the artist’s house. And as it turned out, he saw us on the street and came down to tell us about it. That was nice, like the time we got the special tour of the backyard boat in Sun Valley.

Our snack stop was at Chango Coffee. Then we rode around Dodger Stadium to Chinatown, and then back to Pasadena by was of the Arroyo Seco bike path. It was a pretty entertaining ride.

45 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

7/11/2016

A Weekend in Las Vegas

Filed under: — stan @ 9:34 pm

Last February, when we were in Las Vegas so I could climb the Stratosphere Tower, my old friend Gordon came out from New Jersey to visit. We used to go to Las Vegas a lot back in the ’80s to play blackjack. So this was a fun little excursion to remember the Old Days. In the process, we went looking for prime rib, and ended up at the Orleans, which turned out to also have a pretty good low-key blackjack game. While we were there, Kathleen signed up for their players club, and they sent her an offer for two free nights at the hotel. So that was our adventure for this weekend.

We drove out there on Saturday. When we arrived, we checked in to the hotel, and then I went downstairs to play some blackjack. I’d resurrected the practice program I wrote back in 1990 and played with it a bit this past week, so I was able to remember Basic Strategy this time. I had two losing sessions, took a short break, and then I got lucky and ended Saturday up by a little bit.

After dinner on Saturday, we headed downtown to go to Atomic Liquors. I stopped to take a picture of the big neon sign across the street that announces, “Llamas stay for free!”. Atomic is a little dive bar where people used to sit on the roof to watch the nuclear tests back in the 1950s. Now it’s a bit of a hipster hangout. Apparently, living downtown seems to be an up-and-coming thing in Las Vegas, just like it is here in L.A.

Sunday, I spent almost the whole day playing blackjack, and ended up down by almost $100. But that’s not bad for as much time as I spent at the tables.

On Monday, I went down to the casino before breakfast and quickly got cleaned out of a further $100. At that point, I took a short break before trying again. And this time, the magic worked. I had three good sessions, and in the end, I basically broke even for the weekend.

Before heading home, we went to see the Atomic Testing Museum. We’d gone there before, and it’s an interesting place, so I wanted to go again. It turns out that the place I was born, Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, was one of the four finalists when the AEC was first deciding on where to do nuclear testing. Yikes.

After the museum, we headed home. And in the end, I got to come home a winner. I had brought $500.00 to gamble with, and when it was all done, I came home with $500.50. Yay!

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