Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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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.

7/7/2018

More Failure

Filed under: — stan @ 8:56 pm

Last February, we went to see the Museum of Failure when it was set up in an old warehouse in the Arts District. I recently found out that after that closed, they set it up at Hollywood and Highland. So today we went to see it. A lot of the exhibits were the same as before, but there were a good number of pieces that were not in the old museum. Each one had a card next to it that described what it was and why it failed. And always snarky comments about each failure.

One good bit was the small room at the back with pens and Post-It notes so that people could anonymously confess to their own personal failures. Some of them were really hilarious. Kind of like PostSecret.

After that, we went and had a very nice dinner in Hollywood at Off Vine.


6/15/2018

The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library

Filed under: — stan @ 3:47 pm

Last week on “The Daily Show”, Trevor Noah mentioned that they were going to have the Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library in Los Angeles for two weekends. Since I took Thursday off to go to Santa Cruz to fetch Lucinda, I also took Friday off, just because I have a ton of leave that needs to be used. So I figured that today would be a good day to make the trip to West Hollywood to go see this.

Right at the entrance, they had the Trump Nickname Generator. Everyone ran the generator, and then was given a little nametag. Mine said that my Trump nickname was “Total Amateur Stan”.

Next to the nickname generator, there was a timeline of Trump twitter, all the way back to his first tweet on May 4, 2009. There was a display analyzing his tweets by the number of mentions of people, of numbers of times he used particular words, and topics that tweets were about.

Possibly the highlight of the museum was the little Oval Office set, complete with American and Russian flags, a desk, and a golden toilet. Everyone wanted to get their picture taken sitting on the golden toilet.

In the corner, they had the Trump Inauguration cake. The cake was made of styrofoam, covered in fondant icing, with only a small sliver of actual cake in one spot on the bottom layer.

The “SAD!” retrospective was also very funny. Just a sampling of the many things Trump has deemed to be “SAD!” over the years.

Overall, this was all tremendously funny. It had to be, since the actual underlying reality of it is pretty horrifying.

6/14/2018

And then this happened…

Filed under: — stan @ 10:47 pm

Last September, we took a trip to Santa Cruz to move Lucinda into her new home-away-from-home at UC Santa Cruz. And today was the other bookend for that experience.

A couple weeks ago, Lucinda asked if I would come to Santa Cruz to help her move out and bring her home. At first I thought this would make for a grueling day or two days, but at the same time, I realized it was an opportunity to spend a day with her. As she’s growing up, opportunities for things like that become more rare. So I worked out a plan. I would fly to San Jose in the morning, and then rent a car there. I was able to set it up with Hertz that I could rent the car at San Jose Airport, and then bring it back the next day to their office in Pasadena. So the plan was to pick up the car and drive it over the hill to Santa Cruz. Then we loaded up all her stuff into the car. We stopped off in downtown Santa Cruz for lunch, and then we headed for home.

We took the 101 south for a good bit of the trip. We had to take some small roads to pick up the 101 in Prunedale. Then we went south on the 101 for what seemed like forever. Along the way, I told Lucinda that I wanted to take a short side trip to the Carrizo Plain to see Wallace Creek. That’s a very desolate and remote place that is famous among seismologists. To get there, we had to take Highway 58, which I expected to be like Highway 46 that I took home last fall. But no. Highway 46 was divided and almost like a freeway, while Highway 58 was like a narrow, winding country road. We took that for a very long time before we came to the turnoff. That was a small, but well-paved road. But we were only on that for a short distance before we had to turn off onto a small dirt road. At least it was pretty well-graded, so it wasn’t a big deal. But as city people, we’re just not used to be out in the middle of nowhere and being all alone for as far as we could see in any direction.

There’s a small guest book at the site, and it looks like it gets a visit about once every week or two on average. I wrote us into it, and then we walked up the trail to go see the famous creek. Well, actually, ‘creek-bed’. It only has water in it on fairly rare occasions when it rains. But it was impressive. The channel is pretty deep, and the offset where it crosses the fault is really obvious. The sign said that they figured out that the offset of that creek-bed represents 3,800 years of earthquakes, and that led to knowing that the San Andreas is moving an average of about 1 1/3 inches a year.

We walked a little bit down the trail to see a pair of smaller offset creek-beds. They were channels that were offset by about 30 feet in the 1857 Fort Tejon earthquake. They weren’t as big and obvious as Wallace Creek, but it was still impressive to be able to see how much the ground moved in one event in 1857.

When we finished at Wallace Creek, we continued east on the 58 to get to the 5 freeway at the Buttonwillow offramp. That’s a little cluster of gas stations and food places to cater to people traveling between northern and southern California. We had some dinner there, filled the car up with gas, and then we headed home. And yes, it was nice to get to spend a day with her doing this.

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