Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Fifteen times!

Filed under: — stan @ 6:41 pm

On Thursday, I took Lucinda to Disneyland. A lot of schools are back in session now, but Pasadena doesn’t start for another ten days, so we figured it would be a good time to go. We also had made a deal that Lucinda was going to ride California Screamin’ this time. She’d passed on it twice when we were there back in June.

When we got there, we went in and rode Soarin’ Over California first. For some reason, Lucinda didn’t want to go directly to the big roller coaster. But after that ride, we walked over there and got in line. Fortunately, the line was very short, since Lucinda was looking decidedly like a lamb being led to slaughter. In the pictures, you can see she was very skeptical. But when we got off, she said, “That was so fun! Let’s do it again!”. And we proceeded to do it three more times.

The girls also rode the Silly Symphony Swings once somewhere in there.

Next, we went to lunch and then had some ice cream. Then we went back and rode California Screamin’ three more times. Now we were up to seven, and Maddy and I said we wanted to do something else. So we walked over the Disneyland.

We rode Space Mountain three times, Splash Mountain once, Big Thunder Mountain twice, and the Matterhorn once. And after all that, we went back to California Adventure and rode California Screamin’ eight more times. That made a total of fifteen for the day. We probably would have kept going, but they were shutting the ride down at 8:00 for the World of Color show. So that made for a good excuse to stop.

Finally, we walked over to Downtown Disney for our usual dinner at the Jazz Kitchen.

It was a very fun day.

The rest of the pictures are here.

The short version of the story

Filed under: — stan @ 6:38 am

We went to Disneyland yesterday. This is the short version of the story:


The moment of truth

Filed under: — stan @ 8:35 pm

Today was the day for entries in the L.A. County Fair’s “Culinary Styles” baking contest. I’ve been working on my recipes for several months now, and the day of reckoning has arrived.

I came home from work and baked up one batch each of my peppermint chocolate cookies and peppermint chocolate muffins. Then I picked up Lucinda and we headed over to the fairgrounds. We went into the building and dropped off my entries. This time I made a point to look and see just how much baked stuff had been entered. The long tables covered with baked goods reminded me of the final scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. And my cookies and muffins were going to be taken in and put somewhere way back at the end of the tables, possibly never to be seen again.

Well, it’s still a good adventure.


Visiting San Diego again

Filed under: — stan @ 9:43 pm

This weekend, Lucinda and I took a trip to San Diego to visit with Grandpa and to go see some animals. We were supposed to leave in the morning, but Lucinda slept in. She was at her mom’s house, so I had no way to go wake her, and her mom was at work. When it got to be close to noon, I talked to her mom and told her I was going to get my lock picking kit and let myself in to wake Lucinda up. Once again, I’m eternally grateful to Richard Feynman for teaching me lock picking. It comes in handy from time to time.

We got on the road at the crack of noon and headed for San Diego. When we got there, we went out with Grandpa for Spanish food at Costa Brava. Afterward, we went back to his place to visit for a while. I was telling them the story of the morning’s adventure, and Lucinda asked me to teach her how to pick locks. So I set her up with the desk drawer lock and showed her how to do it. Have I ever mentioned how proud I am of my kid?

On Sunday morning, we went down to La Jolla Cove to see the seals. We also went down into Sunny Jim cave again. Then we went and had lunch with Grandpa before heading up to the Wild Animal Park. We took the tram ride around the park, and I got a lot of good animal pictures. As usual, my camera rocks. We also took the balloon ride, which gave me the willies, but Lucinda liked it. We spent the whole afternoon there and we had a nice time.

It was a fun weekend.

Lucinda’s pictures are here.

The animals are here:

O hai!


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Filed under: — stan @ 10:50 pm

Well, it’s July, and time for my annual spiritual pilgrimage to visit Austin and all my friends there. They have a big weekend party every year for the anniversary of the social club I started there, and so not only is everyone I know there, but they treat me like a visiting dignitary. And there’s nothing not to like about that.

Kathleen and I flew out on Jet Blue on Friday morning. When we arrived, my friend picked us up at the airport. He had offered his house on Lake Travis to us for the weekend, so we all went out there. When we got there, we made some mojitos. This is shaping up to be the Summer of Mojitos for us, and it’s been great fun. Then we headed back into town for some barbecue at the Founder’s Dinner. There was a good turnout, and it was nice to see everyone again.

Next up was the Friday night social at the Chain Drive. That’s the local gay leather bar in Austin. This time the air conditioner didn’t croak like last year. It was still hot, but was a very fun time.

Saturday was the main day of the event, and it was all being held at the country dance hall that they rent for their parties. They had a full day of presentations, some vendors, and then a party in the evening. No pictures from these, though, since it’s a no-cameras event. But it was great fun. And during the break before the party, we got to head back into town for barbecue at Pok-E-Jo’s, which is still my favorite barbecue place ever. And the party was one of the best, if not the single best party I’ve ever been to.

On Sunday there was just one event. That was a luncheon and keynote speech. They asked me to give the keynote this year. I made up four pages of notes so as not to forget anything, and I spoke for about 45 minutes, telling the story of how the group came to be, and why I did things the way I did. I ended with the story of how it then came back into my life two years ago and saved me from the sturm und drang of divorce. Over the years, I’ve had people tell me that finding the group changed their lives, and it was nice to be able to tell the story of how the group came back and saved my life, too.

On Sunday afternoon, we had a cookout at the lake at my friend’s house. We went and got some food at Central Market. I kind of hate to say this, but I really wish we had one of these here in L.A. It’s about the best food store I’ve ever seen. Then we went back to the lake to float on the water and just relax. It was a nice end to a really fun weekend.

Monday morning, we went into town and met my old college friend Mike for breakfast, and afterward, my other friend Stu picked us up and we went shopping. After 20 years, it was time for a new pair of boots, so we stopped off at Allen’s Boots and I found a nice pair. Then we had lunch at Pok-E-Jo’s again, and then spent the rest of the afternoon at the Yellow Rose. It was a perfect end to our little vacation.

When we got back home, I had the feeling like I’d just woken up from a very weird but really excellent dream. So I stood by the baggage claim and flapped my arms to see if I could fly. I couldn’t, so that meant it was all real. And that was the best feeling in the world.


Toy Story

Filed under: — stan @ 10:24 pm

On Saturday night, I took Lucinda and her friend to Hollywood to see “Toy Story 3” at the El Capitan theater. We’d gotten a mailer about it that said they were going to have a sort of carnival midway set up behind the theater for the kids to play in after the movie. Sort of like the “G-Force” attraction that they built last summer.

The movie was good. Sad in a lot of ways, but very well done. We all enjoyed it. And afterward, they played for a while in the little “Toy Story Fun Zone” carnival that they’d set up on the playing field behind Hollywood High School.

It was a very fun evening.


The next big event

Filed under: — stan @ 9:10 pm

It’s time for the annual Stair Climb to the Top, up the U.S. Bank tower in downtown Los Angeles. I did this last year, posting a time of 15:07. This time, I’ve got some more experience from the Stratosphere and Aon stair climbs, and my goal is to go under 14 minutes.

This will hurt a lot. It will also be great fun.

As always, this is a fundraiser, this time for the YMCA in Los Angeles. So if you can, please make a small donation to them at my sponsors page.


Five Wrights

Filed under: — stan @ 5:42 pm

Today’s bike ride was one that John White had suggested. A meandering route to see five different houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. One was in Pasadena, and the rest were in the Hollywood and Los Feliz areas. It was a perfect day for riding.

We started out from Victory Park and headed west. Near the Rose Bowl, we took our first detour to see La Miniatura.

Continuing on, we went south through Eagle Rock, across the L.A. River and into Silver Lake. Our second stop was the Ennis House, high up the hill just below Griffith Park.

Next, we turned around and headed back down the steep hill we’d just climbed, and all the way down to Hollywood Blvd and Barnsdall Park. This is the site of the Hollyhock House.

From there, we went west into Hollywood, and turned north up the hill behind the Chinese Theater. After another steep climb, we came to the Freeman House. This one is very near the house we went to see in 2006 on another architecture tour.

There was only one more house to see, and it was on Hollywood Blvd, but on the far western end, where it winds its way up into the hills above the Sunset Strip. We rode just a short distance on Sunset Blvd before turning and heading up the steep hill to get to the Storer House.

At this point, we’d seen all five houses, and it was time to climb up and over the hills to get to our snack stop at the little gelato place on Tujunga Ave in Studio City. We rode Hollywood Blvd all the way to its end near the top of Sunset Plaza. Along the way, we saw an abandoned couch. Couches don’t usually end up out in the street in neighborhoods like that, but there it was. At the top, I got my picture taken with an ostrich statue in front of a house that had a whole collection of animal sculptures. We continued on, down into Laurel Canyon and up to Mulholland Drive. We stopped for water at the Fryman Canyon overlook and then headed down the other side into the Valley.

We had gelato in Studio City, and then headed for home. We stopped briefly at Velo Studio in Burbank to see some of Keira’s artwork on display there. Then we headed home through Glendale, where I got a flat.

It was a fun little ride.

51 miles.


Disneyland for Graduation

Filed under: — stan @ 11:04 pm

Thursday was the last day for school for Lucinda, and her last day of elementary school. She’s off to middle school next year. So of course, that meant it was time for another trip to Disneyland.

We went down there and met our friend Mike, who let us in with his pass. He’s been telling Lucinda that she should try riding California Screamin’. He’s been telling her that for at least a year, but so far she hadn’t done it. I rode it back in May just so I could tell her what it was like. I thought that today would be the day.

When we got back there, I got us Fast Passes for it, and then we went to ride Mulholland Madness. That’s a kind of silly little rollercoaster, and it’s kind of rough. The brakes on it are very harsh. But with that as a warmup, we headed back to California Screamin’.

We went through the short line and got on. But at the last minute, Lucinda got cold feet and walked across to the exit platform. So it was just me and Maddy. I got out my camera and we were off. The first ride was a bit weird, since at one point I looked down and saw that my hat, which was on the floor by my feet was missing its band. I thought it had been blown off by the wind, so I spent the last 2/3 of the ride reaching down there trying to find it. So I kind of missed most of the ride.

In the end, it turned out that the hatband had come off, but it was sewed to the hat on one side, so it didn’t get lost.

Of course, this meant we had to ride it again.

The second time, Lucinda almost sat down to ride, but at the last second she walked across. She said she would ride it for sure the next time we come. In the meantime, I put my hat in the little pouch in front of the seat, so I knew it was secure, and I could pay attention to what was going on this time. I had one weird introspective moment when we were going down the big second hill. I was thinking, “I used to hate rides like this. But now… Wheeeeee!!!” I had the camera out to get an upside-down picture on the loop, and I also made a point to look out to the side just to watch the world flip over. That was novel.

After that, we walked over to Disneyland and rode the Matterhorn. While the girls waited in the line, I walked over to Space Mountain to get Fast Passes, but they were giving ones for 10:00 that night already. So I knew that if we were going to ride it, we’d just have to bite the proverbial bullet and wait in line. Which we did. And it was a fun time, even if we did have to wait 45 minutes for it.

Next, we rode Big Thunder Mountain twice, once through Pirates, and even did the Indiana Jones ride. Lucinda had done that one once before, about two years ago, and she didn’t like it then. But this time she thought it was all right.

Finally, after the requisite stop in the gift shop, we headed over the the Jazz Kitchen for dinner and a souvenir photo.

It was a very fun day.


Another new adventure

Filed under: — stan @ 9:14 pm
Photo by Tom Henneman

I signed up today for the stair climb up the Willis Tower in Chicago. This is the building that used to be the Sears Tower, and it’s the tallest building in the United States. It’s almost 1 1/2 times the height of the U.S. Bank tower here in L.A.

Based on my time at Aon in April, I think I should be able to climb the Willis in just a bit under 20 minutes, which seems respectable compared to last year’s results.

This should be fun. And as always, it’s a fund-raiser for charity, so if you can, please make a small donation in my name to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

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