Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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4/26/2009

A ‘fun’ ride

Filed under: — stan @ 6:36 pm

Today I did something different. It was the City of Angels Fun Ride. We’d seen this ride go by last year. The idea of riding with a rolling road closure was appealing, since it meant that we wouldn’t have to stop at all. So I thought I’d try it. I guess I was expecting a well-disciplined group that could ride smoothly together, which can be a lot of fun. When I got there, I saw Ben from the Sunday Morning ride group, so we rode together.

As it turned out, this was a sort of different usage of the word ‘fun’ with which I was previously unfamiliar. Because of the rolling road closure, they required that we ride in one large group. This was a lot like riding in a large racing peleton, but with mostly riders who do not know how to ride in a peleton. So the end result could more accurately be described as ‘harrowing’. We toured around the city, but really couldn’t do any sightseeing, since I didn’t dare look away for even a second. During the first part of the ride, I only saw one rider crash. This was pretty remarkable, considering all the bumping and bonehead moves that I saw going on in the group.

They had a rest and snack stop at the Ford Theater in Hollywood. I grabbed an orange and a few cookies. Then, when it was time to go, several more riders fell while pulling out of the parking lot. They hadn’t realized that the street was uphill, and they were in the wrong gears. Turkeys.

For some inexplicable reason, the police escort we had forced us to go really slowly into Griffith Park. We rode through the park, and then made one lap around it. At the end of the lap, we were about to leave the park and ride back to the finish. But they made us all stop. They said we had to wait 10 minutes for some reason that they really didn’t make clear at all. At this point, I’d had enough. I wasn’t enjoying it. So I unpinned my number from my jersey, pulled out of the line, and rode home.

The ride home was very nice and relaxing. Even having to deal with cars and traffic signals was much mellower than my experience riding in that group. So overall, it was not an especially nice ride.

77 miles.
cycling

4/25/2009

Nice dinner at Drago

Filed under: — stan @ 11:50 pm

For several years I’ve known Silvio from the Sunday morning bicycle club rides. About a year ago he mentioned that he manages Drago in Santa Monica, and he said I should come out some time for dinner. So tonight was the night.

We made an afternoon of is. Shari and I did some costume and jewelry shopping across Hollywood on the way out there. And when we got there, a table was ready and waiting for us. After looking at the menu, we decided to go for the prix fixe menu. Silvio said he would pick the wine for us. He selected and comped us a very nice bottle of Sicilian red wine that was very good, and went well with the filet mignon and lamb chops we had picked.

At the end, he brought us a special dessert sampler, which was all very good. Overall, it was a very fun little evening.

4/18/2009

Hey! I can see my house from up here!

Filed under: — stan @ 5:41 pm

A few weeks ago, I signed up for the Climb California stair climb up the AON tower in downtown Los Angeles. And yes, it turned out to be an interesting adventure.

Since doing this meant missing my regular bike ride, I decided to ride my bike there. Besides, I figured that would give me a good warm-up for the stairs. The guy who organized our group lives right across the street from the tower, and he said I could leave my bike at his place while we were climbing.

When I got downtown, I heard a savage yell, and I saw what looked like a group of Vikings in front of an ATM. They were being filmed for something or other. It almost never says what they’re filming.

When I got to Dan’s place, I changed while we waited for the rest of our group to arrive. Then we took a picture before starting out. Notice how we’re all smiling and ready. Then we headed across the street and took our places in line to start. When they said “go”, I just sort of trotted in the door and starting climbing the stairs. The actual flights were very short. Only about 8-10 steps each before a turn. I took the first 32 floors two steps at a time. But after that, I had to slow down a bit and go to single steps. Running up stairs is a lot like bike riding up hills, and it brought out my competitive side in the same way. I passed lots of people on the way up. Each time, after passing someone, I just focused on catching and passing the next person in front of me. Nobody passed me.

I took my picture Myspace-style at about floor 43. At that point, I could really ‘feel the burn’, and it was pretty grim, as you can see in the picture.

When I went around the last turn and saw sunlight in the stairwell, I knew I was there. I sprinted up the last flight and up onto the roof. Then I stopped and just stood there panting in the bright sunlight. After I stopped panting, I got my picture taken with Hollywood in the background.

Looking around at the commanding view from the roof, I said, “Hey! I can see my house from up here!

After all five of us made it to the top, we took an ‘after’ picture and then headed down the stairs to the 60th floor. This was a big open unfinished space. They had water and cut-up oranges. We just wandered around and looked at the views out the windows. Then we got in the elevator and rode back down to the ground.

When we got down, they were already posting the results. I was pleasantly stunned that my time of 12:50.49 was good for 23rd overall, and 20th among men. There were only four men my age or older ahead of me. I was very pleased. Especially since I’d prepared last night by sharing two bottles of wine with a friend and staying up until 2:00 so I looked and felt my best. I guess all that bike riding really is good exercise after all.

Afterward, we headed back across the street to Dan’s place. I had some chips and salsa before mounting up my bike for the ride home. My legs felt a little tired, but it wasn’t bad at all. So overall, I give this adventure an “A”.

29 miles by bike, 62 stories by stairs.

Update 4/20/2009: I found the final results online, and it looks like one later climber beat my time. D’oh! So I was actually 24th overall out of 327 finishers. I was 21st among the men, and 7th in the men’s 40-49 group. Still, I don’t think that’s half bad.

Full results are here: http://events.bazumedia.com/event/CCA2009

4/12/2009

Sunday afternoon, with leather

Filed under: — stan @ 11:22 pm

On Sunday afternoon, I went over to Santa Fe Dam to join some of my friends at the Renaissance Faire. They’d decided to meet there en masse today. Little did we know that Easter Sunday is the busiest day of the year at the park there.

The trip out there was easy, until we got to the corner of Irwindale and Arrow Highway. This is nowhere near the actual entrance, but the line of cars waiting to get in was all the way back there. We sat in line for about 45 minutes to get to the front. Then the police closed the entrance and put up a sign saying it was full. So we drove down to where the bike path goes over the dam. I was thinking we might be able to park there and bushwhack over the dam to the fair. But there was no place to park there. So as a last-ditch attempt we went and parked on one of the streets by the chemical plants behind the Miller brewery. I knew that there was a back entrance to the park there. I figured we could walk in from there. There was plenty of parking there, but the walk in turned out to be something like 1.5 miles. But it was a nice day, so it wasn’t too bad.

When we got there, we got our tickets and went in. The plan had been to meet at noon, and it was 1:45. But it turned out that everyone else had had a similarly epic journey to get there. So we were able to meet up with the group at a picnic table in the shade. It made for a very pleasant setting to watch the cavalcade of weirdness passing by.

At the end of the afternoon, we hitched a ride out with a couple from the group who had gotten there early and had their car into the parking lot. But even that was a epic journey. It took us something like 45 minutes to cover the 1.5 miles back to my car.

When we got to my car, I started it up and started to back out of the parking space. Then I heard it make a weird SNAP noise. And it would not go into reverse. I ended up having to push it out, which was difficult, since the front wheels were in the gutter at the side of the road. Fortunately, I was able to rock it back and forth enough to get out. Then I used my bicycle-riding-up-hills-in-stupid-high-gears muscles to push the car out far enough to be able to get out going forward. It was a very weird ending to a weird afternoon. So to celebrate the weirdness, we went to Kabuki in Pasadena for sushi. Yum.

It was both a very weird and very fun afternoon.

4/5/2009

A 24-hour vacation

Filed under: — stan @ 9:35 pm

So here are some random images from our 24-hour vacation to Ventura.

We brought our bikes, so we could go riding on Sunday morning.

On the way out to dinner, we saw seagulls walking around near the park, looking for food. We don’t see many seagulls inland in Pasadena.

We had dinner at a restaurant with a martini bar, so we started off with caramel-apple martinis, which was novel.

After the ride on Sunday, I took a walk while Susan showered. I saw utility boxes painted and turned into art. I also visited the Albinger Archaeological Museum and saw the excavated foundations of the original mission church.

Before heading home, we had lunch at the marina, and got a souvenir picture with a tile mural of a sea otter.

It was another nice, albeit short vacation.

Edit: (4/7/2009) And this trip has turned out to be the swan song of our relationship. It all collapsed for reasons I’m not going to go into. It’s sad, but it will be all right in the end.

A nice ride out of town

Filed under: — stan @ 7:31 pm

For a year now, Susan has been telling about the rides she used to do with the Channel Islands Bicycle Club when she would visit Ventura. So this weekend, we headed up there for an overnight micro-vacation complete with a bike ride on Sunday morning.

The ride started at the park next-door to the hotel, which was very convenient. It was relatively warm for 8:00AM. The ride went up to Ojai and back, including a gratuitous climb up the Dennison Grade on Highway 150.

We started out on the Ventura River bike trail, which paralleled the 33 Freeway. We rode through some oil fields on the way out of town, but we were out in the country very quickly. We went up past Lake Casitas, which had some very nice views from the road. Then it was down into Ojai. That was where I saw the Muffler Horse. I’ve seen Muffler Men before, but never a horse.

A bit later, we saw a house with the front yard turned into a large found-object art project. That was pretty amusing.

Then it was time for the gratuitous climb. It was a pretty nice uphill, with a nice viewpoint near the top, complete with a wall I could balance the camera on for a picture. Then we turned around and went back down.

At the bottom, we picked up a stiff tailwind, and we were able to cruise at 30mph easily. That was fun for a few miles. Then we got to the snack stop. We loitered around for a bit until a group decided to head back. We rode pretty much straight south back to Ventura. It was mostly downhill, but with a weirdly varying wind that kept changing direction on us.

The last part was back down the bike trail we’d started on, which let us off right by the park where we started.

It was a very nice ride with some very pretty scenery.

41 miles.
cycling

3/14/2009

Under the Sea and up on the rocks

Filed under: — stan @ 9:24 pm


This afternoon, Susan and I took Lucinda and her friend to the California Science Center IMAX theater to see “Under the Sea 3-D”. We’ve been fans of the 3-D IMAX movies since going to see “Sea Monsters” last year.

When we got there, Lucinda had to try lifting the truck at the lever demonstration exhibit in the parking lot. Today was the first time that she was big enough to be able to lift it.

The movie was good, although it was a bit odd, since it was narrated by Jim Carrey. I guess he’s trying to stretch his dramatic range a bit.

After the movie, we went into the museum. Lucinda and her friend wanted to try the rock climbing wall. Apparently, it’s harder than it looks, since they only made it about halfway up. We looked around the museum a bit more before they closed. Then we headed home, after the obligatory stop in the gift shop.

It was a nice afternoon, and marks the first time that Susan and I have taken Lucinda somewhere together.

Pictures are in her photo album.

3/7/2009

Divorce! The Musical

Filed under: — stan @ 11:37 pm

Tonight was a little live-theater adventure. Susan and I went to Hollywood to see “Divorce! The Musical“. Since I’m part-way through this rather grim process, I’m ready to laugh about it. So I figured that this would be an appropriate outing.

The mood of the show covered the range from unspeakably sad to hilariously funny, which is no mean feat. The story is about Penny and Rich, married four years and getting divorced. There are therapists, lawyers, and dirty tricks on both sides. It’s all very true-to-life. It illustrated the emotional roller-coaster ride with songs like “Lawyer Letters”, “Winners and Losers”, and “There Were Good Things”. There are snippets of a few of the songs on the show’s web site. At the end, Penny and Rich sign their final agreement, which leads in to the very poignant final song, “Pennies and Riches”.

It was a very good show. Both heartrending and hilarious. It’s quite rare to find those two in the same place.

2/16/2009

Yet another day at Disneyland

Filed under: — stan @ 12:03 am

I took Lucinda and her friend Claire to Disneyland today. I still think it’s a bit amazing that I’m willing to go to Disneyland, but in any event, we had a fun time. Most of the pictures are in Lucinda’s photo album.

We rode lots of rides, and it was actually a very fun day. And I got a big pickle.

1/17/2009

Visiting San Diego for a decidedly geeky purpose

Filed under: — stan @ 10:42 pm

This weekend, Susan and I went to San Diego to see “Star Trek: The Exhibition” at the San Diego Air and Space Museum. This was a show of costumes, models and props from the “Star Trek” TV shows and movies. A lot of the artifacts from the original series are lost, but they had a lot of things from the more recent shows.

On the way in, Susan had to stop for a photo-op with the life-sized standup of Charles Lindbergh that was in front of The Spirit of St. Louis.

Inside the exhibit, they insisted on no photography, so we don’t have pictures of us on the bridge of the Enterprise or in the transporter. I did sneak one picture of the Guardian of Forever from “The City of the Edge of Forever”. Still, it was a fun time.

We also wandered around the rest of the museum. We saw a reproduction of the Red Baron’s airplane, as well as his collection of medals from the war.

Afterward, we went to visit with my father for dinner at his place.

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