Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Page 1 of 4912345»102030...Last »

4/2/2022

Atomic Tourism

Filed under: — stan @ 7:36 pm

A couple weeks ago, my friend Gordon called me up and said, “They’re having an Open House at the Trinity Site on April 2nd. Want to go?” Gordon and I met sharing a cubicle at McDonnell Douglas back in 1982, where our department was all about nuclear weapons effects. And back then, we talked about wanting to someday go visit the Trinity Site. And it only took us 40 years to get around to it. But here we are.

We made arrangements to fly in from Los Angeles and New York, and meet in Albuquerque. I’ve been thinking about how much fun it was back in the ’80s when we had convertibles, so I arranged to rent us one for this trip.

On Saturday morning, we headed south on I-25 for something like 80 miles or so from Albuquerque to get to the site. Apparently this is a Big Thing, since there were many hundreds of people there, all for the same reason we were. There were tables set up at the edge of the parking lot with information about the Trinity test, and people to answer questions. There was a table with some samples of trinitite, along with Geiger Counters to show us that it was in fact radioactive. There was also a big trailer with a full-scale mockup of the Fat Man bomb, which was the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, as well as the same design as the ‘gadget’ that was tested at Trinity. And of course, there was the monument built at the spot that was under the tower where they assembled and detonated the ‘gadget’. Everyone wanted to get a picture with the monument, and we were no exception.

They had told us that it was still possible to find little bits of trinitite around the site, so we walked around a bit, scanning the ground, and we found a few pieces. They were small, about pea-sized. They were green, glassy on one side, and visibly fused sand on the other side. And after taking pictures, we left them on the ground for the next group to find.

The find part was the bus ride to the McDonald Ranch house, where they assembled the core for the ‘gadget’. That was several miles away, but certainly part of the complete atomic tourist experience.

Afterward, we headed out, stopping for lunch in Socorro before heading back to Albuquerque. When we got there, it was still daytime, so we headed out to see the three little cinder cone volcanoes on the west side of town. I’d seen them when I visited my college girlfriend Cindy in Albuquerque in 1980, so I was curious to see them again. The area they’re in is now part of the Petroglyph National Monument, so we couldn’t drive up dirt roads to the cones like back in the old days. We parked and hiked in to see them this time.

All around, it was a fun day, and I’m glad we finally got to do it, even if it did take us 40 years to get around to it.

2/15/2022

“To boldy go…”

Filed under: — stan @ 7:53 pm

We finally made it out to the Skirball Center to see their exhibit about “Star Trek” and its legacy in our culture. It was a good collection of stuff, some of it even dating back to the original series. Since back then it was just considered to be a stupid little TV show that would never amount to anything, it’s surprising how much stuff survived. And of course all the artifacts from the later series and movies were kept for their historical value. All told, it was a pretty amazing thing to see the legacy of this particular stupid little TV show.


11/24/2019

The Doo Dah Parade

Filed under: — stan @ 7:10 pm

Last week, I found out my friend Sue from the office was going to be one of the Grand Marshals for the Doo Dah Parade. So that was the plan for the Sunday ride today. I made a slightly shorter route, so we could make it back by 11:00. When we got there, I rode around to the staging area to find Sue and her crew. When I got there, Morgan wrapped a feather boa around my neck, and I got to be an honorary Seismo Sistah. We did two laps of the parade route, dodging a hail of flying tortillas. It was a weird and entertaining experience.

33 miles.

Route map and elevation profile

8/13/2019

The Transit Museum

Filed under: — stan @ 9:09 pm

Today was a day involving a lot of subways. First, we rode the subway to Brooklyn to go to the Transit Museum, which tells the history of the subway system in New York. I’ve been there before, but only in 1985. The exhibits include lots of old trains, and even some so old that they were in regular service the last time I went to the museum.

We stopped in at the Transit Museum gift shop. I got an antique metal strap from a retired subway car. And also a hat and shirt with the number “1″. I’ve long said that the IRT number1 train is my spirit animal.

Then we rode the Q train back to Manhattan. We rode it all the way to the end of the line. This was largely because the last three stations on the line are new, part of the Second Avenue Subway. This is the newest subway line, and I had to see it, since I can still remember everyone talking about how it was the Next Big Thing, and how it was Coming Real Soon. And that was when I was in high school in 1976. But they finally got some of it built and running. Riding it was like seeing a unicorn in the wild.


8/12/2019

The Met and the NHM

Filed under: — stan @ 9:09 pm

Today was a big walking tour around Manhattan to see the two big things we wanted to see. Kathleen wanted to go to the Met, and I wanted to go to the Natural History Museum. The Hall of Dinosaurs there was one of my most favorite things when I was a kid.

At the Met, we saw the “Camp” exhibit, which was very entertaining. Then we walked across Central Park, stopping for lunch at the boathouse for lunch. At the NHM, we saw the two big dinosaur halls, and also the special T-Rex exhibit, where we got to see the new vision of T-Rex with feathers.

All around, it was a fun day.

8/11/2019

Playing tourist on the Lower East Side

Filed under: — stan @ 8:43 pm

Today’s adventure was to play tourist in Lower Manhattan. We started with dim sum in Chinatown, which was good. After that, we walked a bit to get to the Tenement Museum. We took the “Hard Times” tour, which was recommended as a good overview of the sorts of experiences and problems that recent immigrants had to deal with. And seeing the tiny apartments inside the building – yikes.

After the tenement tour, we went to the Eldrige Street Synagogue. This dates back to around the same era as the Tenement Museum. And we never knew that there was a large Jewish settlement in northern China in the late 19th century, populated largely by Russian Jews.

After the museum tours, we walked back to the World Trade Center and took the ferry back across the Hudson to Hoboken.

8/10/2019

Visiting Stamford

Filed under: — stan @ 8:43 pm

This summer’s big trip was a visit to the East Coast. First, to Stamford, Connecticut, where Melissa is having her White Coat Ceremony. In the Physician Assistant program, this marks the end of the first year of classroom instruction, and the beginning of about a year and half of real-world experience with doctors and patients. It’s a Big Deal.

We started out our day at LAX, which is generally not the way one wants to start any particular day. And today was a brilliant example of that, since when we got there, we quickly found out that our 9:30AM flight had been delayed until 3:15PM. Fortunately, I’d come prepared with my MacBook and a few movies. So we watched “Pandas” and “Long Shot” while sitting in the terminal at LAX.

We finally got underway at just a bit after 3:00, finally getting to JFK at about 11:45PM. The plan had been to take the train to Stamford, but because we were getting in so late, Melissa was able to drive into the city to pick us up.

In the morning, we all headed up to Sacred Heart for the ceremony. It was nice, and the 39 students all looked very pleased.

The next day, we played tourist a bit around Stamford. We went to the Stamford Nature Center. We got to see feeding time for the little river otters.

The original plan was to take the train to New York after the Nature Center, but I had contacted my old high school friend Steve to see about when we’d be able to get together. And it turned out that not only does Steve have a very nice boat, he keeps it at a marina in Stamford, just a half-mile from the hotel where we were staying. So we arranged to stay one more night in Stamford, and then we went sailing with Steve on Saturday. That was a nice and unexpected treat.

After sailing, we rode the train into New York. The, two subways and a PATH train later, we came out in Hoboken to visit with my old friend Gordon.

So far, it’s a pretty fun trip.

12/31/2018

The Bridge to Nowhere

Filed under: — stan @ 7:22 pm

Since Lucinda and Melissa are both home from school right now, I suggested that we take a hike out to the famous “Bridge to Nowhere” at the Narrows on the east fork of the San Gabriel River. So today was the day. This was my third time doing this particular hike.

I had it lodged in my memory that we were supposed to have to cross the river four times, but in the end, it turned out to be six times. The river is higher than it was the other times I’ve been out there, which made the crossings a bit more difficult. In the end, I had to stop and take my shoes off to wade across about three of the crossings. Between that and losing the trail a few times along the way, the trip out there took longer than the other times. And when we got there, it was pretty cold and windy, so we didn’t spend much time at the Bridge. Coming back was a lot easier, though. We’d made all the mistakes on the way out, and so we were able to avoid them coming back.


11/17/2018

Earthquake Tour with Atlas Obscura

Filed under: — stan @ 8:38 pm

Today was the latest version of the San Andreas Fault tour with Atlas Obscura. This is about the fifth time we’ve done this tour, which is based on Sue Hough’s book, Finding Fault in California: An Earthquake Tourist’s Guide. Back in 2014, Sue took our office on a tour based on her book, and I knew immediately that this tour would be a hit with the Atlas Obscura crowd.

The first stop was the McDonald’s in San Fernando, which has a nice little fault scarp between the drive-through and the parking lot. This is a remnant from the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake. After that, we headed up the 14 Freeway, passing over the famous interchange that fell down in 1971, and then again in 1994, and then on to the Antelope Valley. We stopped at the scenic overlook by Lake Palmdale, and then took a short walk up the hill to see the famous road cut where the freeway cuts through a hill that was pushed up by motion on the fault.

WE stopped for lunch at Charlie Brown Farms in Littlerock, and then we went on to Pearblossom. We stopped for a photo-op at the signs marking where the fault crosses the road. There was a pair of signs there that someone installed decades ago, but those signs were vandalized some time in the last year or so. So Morgan and I had made a new pair of signs, which we took a field trip to go and install back in May. The new signs are still there, and still look nice and clean and new. After that, we went just a short distance down the road to go see the Pallett Creek trench site, which was the birthplace of the relatively new science of paleoseismology.

Heading up into the mountains, we stopped to dig a bit in some fault gouge in a road cut near Big Pines. Then we went through Wrightwood, and on down into Cajon Pass. That was the final stop, at Lost Lake, which is a small sag pond. It’s a pretty unlikely place for a lake, which is the charm of it. After that, we headed back to Pasadena.


8/17/2018

The Corpse Flower

Filed under: — stan @ 5:34 pm

Last week, there was great excitement around here because one of the Corpse Flower plants at the Huntington looked like it was about to bloom. Kathleen and I went there to see it, and we were ready to go back as soon as the flower opened. But it never happened, and in the end they dissected the flower to try and see why it didn’t bloom. But then on Thursday, we heard that one of their other plants had bloomed unexpectedly, so at lunchtime on Friday, I rode my bike over there to go see it.

It’s reputed to be the biggest flower in the world, and yes, it’s big. It was roped off, which made it hard to lean in close enough to smell it. I was able to just pick up a little bit of the famous smell of the flower. But still, ever since I first heard about this plant on an episode of “Nature” on PBS back in 1986, I’ve always wanted to see one. And now I’ve finally had the chance.

Page 1 of 4912345»102030...Last »

Powered by WordPress