Stan’s Obligatory Blog


The Metro Tour East

Filed under: — stan @ 12:41 pm

It rained all day Saturday, and there were still supposed to be scattered showers on Sunday, so the bike club ride for today was the Metro Rail Tour East. This is a ride to Glendora and back, and the route is designed to always be within two miles of the nearest Metro Rail station. That way, we have a quick bailout option available if it starts raining. We’ve done this ride many times before, so there wasn’t anything to take pictures of.

37 miles.

Route map and elevation profile


ME72 Tank Wars

Filed under: — stan @ 5:44 pm

Today was the ME72 robot contest at Caltech. I’ve been going to see these things for over 20 years, and it’s always entertaining. The theme this year was “Tank Wars”. Each team had to build three tanks, and the tanks had to fight for control of three bases on the playing field. Each base had two buttons on it, and to take control of a base, one team’s machine had to push the button corresponding to the color of that team. One base was on the ground in the middle of the playing field. One of on a see-saw, and the third one was on top of a platform with ramps leading up to it from both sides. The ground base was worth one point for each second of control. The see-saw was worth 1.375, and the platform base was worth 1.75 points per second. As a result, most of the time, machines from both teams would go up to the platform, and a lot of times they ended up just alternating control of it for the duration of the match. So the point advantage of the platform wasn’t that much of a factor in most matches.

One funny thing was that they had a fire extinguisher handy by the playing field. This was because of the incident two years ago when one of the machines caught fire in the middle of a match.

The first match was won by the Riveters team. They had a clever strategy. In each match, they had one machine go and take control of the see-saw base. Then the machine would drive to the center of the see-saw and balance there, so no other team’s machine could even get on the see-saw. This worked well for them, and in the end, the Riveters were the only undefeated team of the day. And that included the final. Very well-done. They deserve both ears and the tail.


Biddy Mason Memorial Park

Filed under: — stan @ 2:51 pm

Last week, I saw an article on Atlas Obscura about Biddy Mason. who was born a slave in Mississippi in the early 1800s, and won her freedom after being brought to California. It was really a remarkable story, and it said there is a small park in downtown L.A. that tells her story. From the address, I knew we’d been by there a hundred times, but we’d never noticed it. So that was our destination for today.

The ride was basically to downtown L.A., then home via Echo Park and the Arroyo Seco. We rode down Huntington Drive, and then Mission Rd. There is one stretch along Mission where there are always several cars with Denver boots on them.

When we got downtown, we went looking for the park. It turned out to be in the alley behind the buildings there, which explains why we’d never noticed it before. The panels on the wall told her story. She really did have a remarkable life.

After looking at the park, we noticed that the alley we were in was right behind the Bradbury Building, which is an ornate old building that was J.F. Sebastian’s home in “Blade Runner”, as well as appearing in lots of other movies over the years. We had a look into the lobby there before continuing on our ride.

From downtown, we rode out 7th St to Westlake, and then up into Echo Park and our snack stop at Chango Coffee. As always, there were lots of Echo Park people with their absurdly-well-behaved dogs. I got a sort of artisanal version of an Egg McMuffin there.

On the way home, we took one more short side trip. I’d heard recently that the city of Pasadena had put a plaque in front of the apartment building where President Obama lived when he was a student at Occidental College. So we had to go see it.

39 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

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