Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Seals on a Sunday Morning

Filed under: — stan @ 6:14 pm

On Sunday morning, I took Lucinda down to La Jolla Cove to see the seals. We go to see them every time we are in San Diego. This time most of them had gone in the water to forage by the time we got there, but there were several swimming hear the beach, and also a few still sleeping on the rocks.

We watched them from the breakwater for a while, and I got some good pictures. As always, my camera rocks. When we left the beach, we went back to Sunny Jim cave and took the walk down the stairs to see the waves in the cave. When we were in there, we could hear some sea lions nearby. They sounded like they were in the cave, but we couldn’t see them.

Finally, we went and picked up Grandpa and we all went to lunch at Costa Brava in Pacific Beach. This is a Spanish restaurant, and it was quite good.


The Sea World Circus

Filed under: — stan @ 11:36 pm

Lucinda and I went to San Diego this weekend to visit with Grandpa and also to visit Sea World and also go see the seals at La Jolla Cove. We went down on Saturday and went to Sea World first.

We rode the sky ride, and while we were on that, we noticed the big stadium they have facing out on to Mission Bay. We hadn’t noticed that before, so we decided to go see the show there. It was a show that was entirely circus acts, with no animals at all. Aside from the obvious caveat that humans are indeed animals. It was still pretty entertaining, even though there were no leaping dolphins.

A bit later in the day we went to see the “Blue Horizons” show, which also had a lot of circus acrobatics, but this time with the addition of dolphins and a pilot whale. I took a bunch of pictures in search of some dramatic action shots, and I think I got some good ones.

When we left, we went to visit with Grandpa for a bit before bed. Overall, it was a fun afternoon.


A fun Tuesday night adventure

Filed under: — stan @ 11:34 pm

On Monday, I was just poking around the net looking to see if there were any good movies that Kathleen and I could go see on Tuesday night. And I spotted John Waters in a banner ad on the L.A. Weekly site. We’re both big fans of his, so I had a look. It turned out he was speaking and doing a book signing at a theater in Little Tokyo. So we just had to go.

On my way home from work, I stopped at Vroman’s in Pasadena and picked up his new book, Role Models.

I rode the train downtown, since the theater is just two blocks from the Little Tokyo station. On the way I got to read the first chapter of the book, where he talks about how he likes Johnny Mathis. As I suspected, it was hilarious.

When I got there, I met up with Kathleen, who drove in from the Valley. We went and had a quick dinner around the corner. Then we went over to the theater. We saw my friend Sherri and her friend there, and the four of us went in. John Waters came out and read three short excerpts from his book, and then he sat down to talk with Carrie Fisher. They were very entertaining and funny, and it was all well-worth the trip.

Afterward, he greeted fans and signed books in the lobby. Overall, it was a most excellent weeknight adventure.


A hot spring in Los Angeles

Filed under: — stan @ 7:53 pm

Today’s bike ride was a trip out to Encino to Los Encinos State Historic Park. Some years ago, I was contacted by one of the volcanologists at the USGS Volcano Hazards Program for help setting up a web site. Her research involved the chemistry of water in natural hot springs as a clue to what is going on below the ground. She sent me a list of all the known hot springs in California, and I noticed that one of them was in L.A. I looked up the coordinates and found that it was at Los Encinos Park in Encino. Of course, my first thought was that this would make for a good sightseeing bike ride. The spring itself is not very hot. The water temperature is about 79 degrees Fahrenheit and the water flows down into a small lake where there were ducks and geese. The water is all fenced off, so we weren’t able to feel it.

It was a perfect day for riding. We headed straight west, across Glendale and into the San Fernando Valley. We took Moorpark St most of the way, although we had to do a short stretch on Ventura Blvd. When we got to the park, Kathleen was there. She lives nearby so she came over to meet up with us. That was a nice treat. We looked around the park a bit before heading out for the trip home.

We rode up into the Sepulveda Dam recreation area and took the bike path there up to the Metro Orange Line. When they built the busway, they built a bike path parallel to it, so we took that all the way to the end of the line in North Hollywood. We had a snack stop at Panera Bread there, and then we continued on. They built a bike path down Chandler Blvd all the way into Burbank, so we took that. Then we turned south to get to the L.A. River. That was where we saw “Chuck Norris Rules” and the awesomely ridiculous limousine.

We rode the L.A. River bike path down to Fletcher, and then took Eagle Rock Blvd north. That was where Sage got a flat. One of the guys helped change the tube, but when he pumped the tire up, it blew out. Turned out there was big cut in the tire. So we had to put a tire boot in it before changing the tube again. But then we made it home just fine.

58 miles.



Filed under: — stan @ 5:56 pm

On Saturday afternoon, I took Lucinda to the Grammy Museum. They have an exhibit about Michael Jackson that she was interested in seeing. They had some of his costumes there, along with letters, handwritten song lyrics, and various other items from his life.

On the other floors of the museum they had other exhibits related to music. I thought the highlight was the exhibit about the ’60s, which focused on Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. They had Jim Morrison’s Boy Scout membership card. Just the idea of Jim Morrison as a Boy Scout made my brain hurt.

Another Disneyland first

Filed under: — stan @ 11:15 am

Over the last two years, I’ve taken Lucinda to Disneyland many times. It started out as something for us to do that she would enjoy. But over time, I grew to like it, too. And yesterday I went there on a date for the first time ever. Kathleen came over in the morning and we headed down. My friend there was going to meet us at the gate, but he got stuck fixing the dragon and had to send one of his friends out to let us in. But we got in and got our day going.

We hadn’t thought about the fact that it was Friday before Memorial Day. The parks were pretty crowded. At least compared to what I’m used to from bringing Lucinda on random weekdays. We picked up passes for Soarin’ over California and then walked back to try out California Screamin’. The line wasn’t long and it was fun enough that we did it twice. I tried to take an upside-down picture in the loop, but I just got a nice shot of the seat in front of me. It’s tough to get the timing right with digital camera lag.

We headed over to Disneyland and picked up passes for Space Mountain. We figured we’d save them for later. But the line wasn’t too long, so we went in it and rode it once. After that, we did the Matterhorn, Big Thunder Mountain and Pirates. After all that, it was almost time for our passes to Space Mountain. We rode the train around to Tomorrowland, since I’d never been on the train before. When we got there it wasn’t quite time for our passes. So we waited in the regular line and rode once, and then took our passes and went around to ride again to finish our day. Both times we made a point to be in the front row to feel the wind. Since you can’t really tell how fast it’s going in the dark, the wind is the only real clue. And besides, it put us in a better position for the final picture.

At the end of the day, we went and had dinner at the Jazz Kitchen, since that’s become my sort of constant backdrop to see my progress. And I think my life has rebooted quite nicely.


True crime, right in my back yard

Filed under: — stan @ 5:49 pm

Today, Kathleen and I took the Esotouric ToursPasadena Confidential” true crime tour. This is a bus tour around Pasadena and South Pasadena to visit sites of all sorts of horrible happenings. And it was hosted in part by Crimebo, the Crime Clown, who made balloon animals and told stories of death and mayhem.

It seems that back in the ’50s, there were a lot of married men who were secretly gay, and who ended up murdered by tricks they’d brought home. There were also a fair number of people who just went off their nut and killed their families. And I’d always wondered where Sirhan Sirhan grew up.

This tour is not for everyone, but if you like the Dearly Departed Tour and the Museum of Death, you’d probably like this as well.


Cue the “Chariots of Fire” music…

Filed under: — stan @ 8:39 am

Here’s my finish-line picture from Saturday. And actually, I don’t think I look all that bad. Sure, I was in a lot of pain at the time, but I’ve seen much worse.

I talked with Erik, and we’re starting our planning for September and the U.S. Bank tower. You can see it behind me in the picture. Last year, I did it in 15:07, and we’ve set a goal for this year to go under 14 minutes.


The 1,377 Steps

Filed under: — stan @ 2:42 pm

So today was the big event. The 63-story stair climb up the Aon tower in downtown Los Angeles. After all the practice runs and all the mental preparation, it was showtime.

Since I was scheduled to start in the first group, I had to be there by 8:00, so I got up early and took the Metro Gold Line downtown. I got out of the Red Line subway station about 10 minutes before 8:00. Kathleen had ridden the subway in from the Valley, and she was already there. It’s always good to have a personal cheering section at these kinds of things.

I got registered and got my number: 404-Not Found. Well, I got a chuckle from it anyway. We saw Susan from the Stratosphere stair climb and U.S. Bank stair climbs there. There were several people there who we recognized from Las Vegas. It’s apparently a fairly tight-knit group that does this weird little sport.

When 9:00 came they had us line up to start. I went pretty far back in the line. I knew that the front guys were going to go very fast, and I didn’t want anyone passing me. I haven’t been passed on the stairs yet at one of these things, and I didn’t want to start today. When it was my turn to go, I ran in the door and started climbing.

I was quite a bit more serious about it this time, compared to last year. I didn’t carry my camera along to get a pain-picture on the way up. All I had was my stopwatch and metronome. And in the heat of battle I forgot to start the stopwatch at the start. D’oh! But my end-of-the-line strategy worked, and I passed about six or eight other guys on the way up. Kathleen had taken the camera and gone up to the 60th floor. They had the door open there to watch us go by. She said I looked like I was in some pain at that point, but you can’t tell from the picture because of the blur. And when I saw sunlight on the last landing, I managed to find a wee bit more for a final sprint up the last flight. When I got to the top, two guys took my arms and sat me down in a chair. I guess I must have looked like hell at that point, but I don’t know. At least they didn’t feel the need to give me oxygen like some people. I stayed on the roof for a little while to look at the view. While I was there, Randy from Las Vegas took my souvenir photo with his iPhone. Then we went down the stairs to the 60th floor, where there was a little party going on.

I had some oranges and water, and my breathing returned to normal. I was talking with a guy from Sacramento who had seen my web site and bike riding stories. So we traded some bike stories and compared our experiences climbing the stairs. Then Erik showed up. He’d gotten there a little late so he didn’t get to start with our group. We all hung around on the 60th floor for a while before taking the elevator down.

At the bottom, they’d already started posting results, and I was very pleased at my time of 11:42. My goal had been to be under 12 minutes, so this was quite good. And in fact, doing the math shows that I was going as fast as my last practice run. The practice runs were only 56 stories, so the fact that I was able to maintain that pace for the extra flights was a Good Thing. Erik turned in a time of 11:45, which means that all our practice runs to learn the pace worked. And the fact that I beat him by 3 seconds was a nice bonus. And in the end, I was 3rd in my age group, and 24th overall. I was 24th last year, but there were a lot more people doing it this time, so overall, I’m pleased.

A little bit of math gives my power output to be 273 watts, or 0.37 horsepower.

Kathleen and I hung around and schmoozed some at the little street fair they had at the bottom. We got some bagels, and I got a little massage. Then we headed back to the subway to go home.

It was a most excellent little adventure. Now we’re looking ahead to the YMCA stair climb up the U.S. Bank tower in September. Onward and upward.

Update 4/25/2010: They have the final results posted here. I was 22nd overall out of 493 runners, and 3rd out of 20 in the men’s 50-59 class. It was a good outing.


Space Mountain x 5

Filed under: — stan @ 7:02 pm

This weeks is Spring Break for Pasadena schools. Apparently, this is later than all the other school districts in southern California. This worked out well for us, since it meant that this week was not in the blackout period for our friend Mike’s Disneyland pass. So yesterday we went down there and met up with him in front of the gates. He let us in with his pass and turned us loose as he headed back to work.

We went to California Adventure first. We rode the Golden Zephyr, which was entertaining, since the wind was picking up, and it was close to the level of wind that would close that ride down. After that, we went on the Jellyfish ride, and then the Mulholland Madness roller coaster. We looked at the line for Toy Story Mania and decided it was too long. So we went and had lunch instead. Then it was time to go Soarin’.

Now it was time for the Main Event. We walked across to Disneyland and headed straight for Space Mountain. The sign said the wait was about 20 minutes, so we stopped and picked up Fast Passes and then went to wait in the line. We rode the ride, and when we got out, we had only 15 minutes before we could use our passes to go back in. So we walked over to Star Tours, which had no line at all. We rode that and then went back to Space Mountain for a second time.

Next, we walked over to Big Thunder Mountain. Again, we picked up Fast Passes and then waited in the not-very-long line. The ride was fun, as always. When we got out, we had about a half-hour before we could go back. So we went over to the Matterhorn and found it closed for maintenance. They said it would be open on Saturday, but that was too long to wait. Instead, we went back for some old favorites: Pirates and the Haunted Mansion. After that, we went back to Thunder Mountain and found it closed for repair.

At this point, we needed to do something different, so we went to Toontown and rode the Go Coaster. This is a relatively tame ride now, but it was Lucinda’s first roller coaster. Then we went back to Tomorrowland so the girls could drive the cars at Autopia. But along the way, we stopped and picked up some more Fast Passes for Space Mountain. So after they finished driving we went back and rode for the third time.

We went back and checked and found Thunder Mountain was open again, so we used our passes and rode it again. By that time, it was starting to get late. I said we had time for one more ride, and the girls said they wanted to ride Space Mountain again. So I told them we could go back there, pick up Fast Passes, and then they could do their gift shop time while we were waiting. They bought matching Mickey Mouse sweatshirts. Then we headed back for our fourth run on Space Mountain.

When we got there, we had 15 minutes to go before we could use our passes. The sign said the wait was 15 minutes. So we waited in the line, rode for the fourth time, and then we walked around and used our passes to ride it a fifth time. That’s the most times on any one ride for us except for the day at Universal when we rode the Mummy eight times.

On the way out, we stopped for the obligatory dinner at the Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney. This is my sentimental favorite, since I can line up all our pictures from there and see my journey through and climb out of Divorce Hell.

It was a very fun day. Tiring, but fun. All the pictures are here.

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