Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Halloween

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Tattoos on the Queen Mary

Filed under: — stan @ 7:26 pm

On Saturday I went to the Queen Mary for the big tattoo show. As last year, there we had to park on the Pike in Long Beach and ride a bus to the ship, which is about two miles away. There was a long line for the bus, and then when we got there there was a long line for tickets. It was kind of annoying. Lots of people in the lines were saying we’d taken a wrong turn and ended up at the waiting-in-line convention.

Once I got inside, all that was forgiven. Almost. But it was still a fun time. I saw a lot of my crowd of friends that I only see at these events. I even saw Debra from Hawaii there. She used to live in L.A. and she moved to Maui in 1997. Since she went there, every time I see her, she’s smiling, so I think it agrees with her. She’s at Skin Deep Tattoo, so if you’re ever there, she’s the one to go to.

They were doing a body-painting show in the boiler room, but for some reason, that didn’t do much for me.

On the other hand, I did see an photograph several impressive back pieces. And later on, my old friend Barbara showed up, and we got to hang around for a bit. And we got to spend some quality time with another very drunk girl. That was fun.

So overall, it was a fun time, although I’m not completely sure it was enough fun to offset the aggravation of getting there.

But anyway, there are pictures in my tattoo conventions photo album.


Earthquake Geek Stuff

Filed under: — stan @ 11:11 pm

Working in the earthquake business is great fun. Yesterday I got to take a tour of Pasadena City Hall, which is being renovated for earthquake safety. This tour was arranged through the Earthquake Programs Office at Caltech.

We met in the park across the street from City Hall. After signing the release, we walked across and went into the construction site. They are removing the entire original foundation of the building the putting friction pendulum isolators underneath it. The isolators are intended to allow the ground to move something like 24 inches in any direction underneath the building while allowing the building to remain relatively motionless.

They had some of the isolators stacked up in front of the building, so we got a good look at them. Being earthquake geeks, we all had our cameras out to take pictures. After that, we went down into the basement.

In the basement we got a look at the main supporting columns of the building. They are cutting each one off and building a new reinforced concrete mat underneath them. The mat sits on top of the isolators. They also dug a moat around the building, so that when we have an earthquake, the building can rock on the isolators within the moat.

City Hall is a U-shaped building, so they had to dig a big trench so that they could build the moat in a square. That way the two wings of the building will be tied together so that the entire building will move as a unit in an earthquake.

It’s not all that often that I see practical use of the stuff I do at work, so it was an interesting thing to see.


Cold War Memories

Filed under: — stan @ 1:08 pm

The other day, Paul Roberts stopped by my office to visit. Paul worked at the Seismo Lab for many years before he retired to pursue a new career as a teacher. Over the years, he has found lots of great Cold War memoriabilia. And this time he brought me a small stack of civil defense booklets from about 1960. So they have joined our collection.

I scanned in two items so far. The first is a collection of newspaper articles from the late ’50s that were reprinted in a 1960 booklet titled “Can We Survive an Atomic War?”. It provides an optimistic view that the United States could survive a nuclear war with only about 160 million deaths, tops. Given that the total population of the U.S. was only 179 million in 1960, this doesn’t sound all that optimistic. They also note:

Of course, even if you lived safely through the H-bomb attack…your troubles would just be beginning.

Yup. Got that.

The second item is a cheery little pamphlet from 1958 called “Facts about Fallout Protection”. It tells the basics about what fallout is, and what sort of shelter is necessary for protection. It doesn’t talk too much about the specifics how how to make a shelter, but it does mention that “Your family’s favorite canned foods can be a morale lifter” when you’re hunkered down in there.

So enjoy the fond memories. I’ll post more when I get around to scanning the other booklets.


Gay Pride

Filed under: — stan @ 10:20 pm

Today we went out to West Hollywood for the Los Angeles Gay Pride Festival. Cathy and I believe that it’s important to expose our child to all kinds of culture, and also that it’s good for the soul for us to be in the minority from time to time. And besides, it’s just a lot of fun.

It was a perfect day, sunny, with a cool breeze. There were seagulls splashing in the fountains at the Pacific Design Center. When we got there, the parade had just ended, and there was a big crowd already. The outdoor dance floors were packed, and the thumping disco beat was all-pervasive.

They had lots and lots of food and drink booths. A few people were a little blotto, and we saw one man heaving in the gutter late in the afternoon, but overall it was a well-behaved crowd. There were booths selling real estate and gay-themed vacations. There was even a booth for a sperm bank marketing its services to lesbians who want children. It was all very cute in a weird sort of way.

We wandered around and took in the sights. Lucinda got a couple of beach balls, some balloons, and some other little trinkets. As always, it’s good to be a cute kid. She also enjoyed seeing all the costumes there. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were there and dressed in their usual outrageous costumes. Lucinda was wondering where they get their shoes, so we told her about the stores that cater to the drag queens. She also got to see boy-couples and girl-couples walking hand-in-hand and kissing under the trees, so it was truly something we don’t usually see in Pasadena.

And yes, there is perhaps no sadder and lonelier sight than the Gay Republicans’ booth. They are there every year, and every year they get ignored.


An island adventure

Filed under: — stan @ 7:51 pm

Today we went out to San Dimas Canyon Nature Center Ho’olaule’a. The reason we were there was because Aunt Maggi’s church group was going to be doing a hula performance there. Hula for Jebus. It was an interesting thing. Hula as a vehicle for proselytization was just not something I’d ever thought of before, but apparently they are having fun doing it.

After the hula show, we went for lunch. On the way there, I saw the display of T-shirts about Spam, and I remembered that Hawaiians eat a lot of Spam. So I decided to get something made with Spam. But when we got to the food booths, the one place that had the Spam musubi was sold out. But they said that they had sent someone to get more Spam, and they would have it soon.

So we got a barbecued chicken and pork plate and shared it, while I watched for the Spam to arrive. When I saw them hoist the menu, I went over, and they were already selling them. It was basically like a large sushi made with Spam. The block of rice was about the size of a bar of soap with a slab of grilled Spam on top, and it was wrapped in seaweed. I got two. Yum.

On the way back, I stopped by and bought one of the “I (heart) Spam” shirts. I needed to have it. Another booth had a whole line of shirts that said “I Don’t Speak Spanish. I’m Hawaiian/Tongan/Samoan/etc”. This was something I could relate to. I’ve been mistaken for Mexican many times, and I even managed to pass as Mexican when I went to Mazatlan in 1984. But they didn’t have a shirt that said “I Don’t Speak Spanish. I’m half-Chinese and grew up in New Jersey”.

After lunch, Lucinda, Cathy, and Aunt Maggi went shopping at the booths there. I found a shady spot and sat down. They bought some necklaces and flower hair clips. All very cute. It was a fun time.


A visit to the Petersen Museum

Filed under: — stan @ 5:25 pm

Read the sign

Today we went over to the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. This was an amusing little bit of history, since Los Angeles is a city that grew up and was largely formed by the automobile.

The first thing we saw there was Art Arfons’s “Green Monster” out in the parking garage. Years ago I saw a documentary about him on PBS, and it was very interesting. Art is something of the hard-luck story of the land-speed record circuit. He set the record three times, only to have each record broken just a short time later.

On the second floor of the museum they had three special exhibits. One was about Hot Wheels, including full-sized Hot Wheels cars that were built for the exhibit. To an eight-year-old boy in 1968, Hot Wheels were the stuff of dreams. And it’s tremedously funny that someone took the time and effort to actually build real cars out of them. The second exhibit was “Cars and Guitars” with lots of rock stars’ cars. That was amusing. They had a couple of Elvis’s old cars, including one that he shot in frustration when it broke down.

The third exhibit was about the future and alternate power sources. That was mostly amusing because they talked about hybrid cars and had a 1917 Woods hybrid. Apparently it was an idea ahead of its time. They said that at the time it was the worst of both electric and gasoline, and it didn’t catch on. They also had a mockup of a proposed nuclear-powered car, but I think I’m glad that that never got serious consideration.

The last part of the museum we visited was the children’s area on the third floor. Cathy and Lucinda took turns climbing into the Indy car there, and they also posed in the Model T.

And of course no visit to a museum with a kid is complete without the gift shop. Lucinda got some little trinkets and Cathy got a “Built for Speed” pinup girl shirt.


Bring on the dancing horses…

Filed under: — stan @ 10:58 pm

Cathy saw an item in the paper this week about the Fiesta of the Spanish Horse. It was at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank. I’ve been by there hundreds of times on my bike, but I’d never been inside. So we decided that this might be something interesting.

We don’t really know anything about horses, but it was interesting to see them close-up and see the riding demonstrations. Apparently, a big part of their training is teaching them the distinctive gait. It looks a bit funny at first, but we got used to it. And in the show, they did it a lot, along with other moves that made the horses look like they were dancing. So overall, it was an interesting thing.


Movie costumes, neon art, and lunch at a big gay hangout

Filed under: — stan @ 8:49 pm

Today we had a little adventure in Los Angeles. The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising downtown had an exhibit of costumes from movies last year. This is the same place where we saw the “Star Wars” costumes last fall. We’d only seen some of this year’s movies, but it was still fun to see them close up. We saw costumes from “Harry Potter”, “King Kong”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, and such. We also saw the figures that were used for filming “The Corpse Bride”, as well as the Vogons from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. It was a nice little adventure.

After that, we walked across the park to the Museum of Neon Art and saw the current exhibit there. MONA is still easily our favorite art museum of all.

The last part of our adventure was to go to West Hollywood for lunch at the French Market Place. This was Lucinda’s first time there, and she liked it. And we found out that, despite it being a big gay hangout, they have a children’s menu and crayons there. They also have koi pond inside the restaurant, and Lucinda liked watching the fish. So overall, it was a fun afternoon.


Twenty years…

Filed under: — stan @ 11:00 pm

It’s April, and that means it’s time for our trip down to Seal Beach for dinner at Walt’s Wharf. That was the site of our first date. It was April 4, 1986. So this year marks twenty years together, which still sounds like a long time to us. We certainly don’t feel old enough to say, “We’ve been together twenty years”.

So we went down to Seal Beach. When we got to Walt’s, there was a wait. Apparently they don’t take reservations for dinner, so we got the little pager-thingy and went out walking on Main St. We walked down to the pier, but it was closed, apparently because they have some heavy equipment parked on it to repair a wall underneath. Then we browsed around in various stores until they had a table ready for us.

We were seated upstairs, just two tables over from where we sat the first time. We had a nice dinner, finished off with some killer desserts and a souvenier picture. So overall, it was a fun time, and a good way to mark twenty years together.


Tour of California

Filed under: — stan @ 7:46 pm

On Sunday afternoon, I took Lucinda down to Redondo Beach to see the last stage of the Tour of California bicycle race. It was a perfect winter beach day, warm and sunny.

This was actually the first time I’ve ever been to an actual professional bicycle race. It was nice. The crowd it drew and the riders in the race were all impressive. The race itself was pretty exciting, with an early breakaway that lasted nearly the whole distance before being caught on the last lap. Lucinda liked watching it, and I got to tell her stories about my bike racing days while we were watching. We also got to see a BMX stunt show, and wander around near the beach. It was a very fun afternoon.

And on a related note, I had found out recently that my old bike racing friend Ray is the founder and manager of the Navigators Insurance Pro Cycling Team and that he was going to be at the race. Lucinda and I had spent a good bit of the afternoon looking for the team camps without luck, but at the end of the race, we saw the Navigators team car go by and we just followed it to their camp. After the prizes were awarded, we found Ray. It was fun to visit with him and reminisce about the days when we were young, strong, and fearless. And Lucinda got an official Navigators cycling cap. So this was a special treat to top off a very nice afternoon.


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