Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Once upon a time…

Filed under: — stan @ 5:53 pm

With all the excitement about the new “Simpsons” movie, we are seeing Matt Groening everywhere. He was on “The Daily Show”, he was in last week’s L.A. Weekly, and he’s in today’s Los Angeles Times. And we had to marvel about how he’s really hit it big. Back before “The Simpsons“, he drew “Life in Hell“, which ran in the L.A. Reader and later in the L.A. Weekly. We were big fans of “Life in Hell”, and we went to several of his signings for the “Life in Hell” books. We have all the early books signed by him, complete with a drawing of a rabbit in each one.

I recently found this calendar that he’d signed for us back in 1988. This was when he was doing the animations for “The Tracy Ullman Show”, but just before the debut of “The Simpsons”. So for once, maybe my pack-rat tendencies paid off.


Wired to Win

Filed under: — stan @ 7:44 pm

We went to the IMAX theater in Exposition Park today to see “Wired to Win“. This is about the 2004 Tour de France and how the brain adapts to competition. It was pretty interesting, and the racing footage was pretty well done. In particular, the shots of what it looked like in the pack were very realistic, and they captured pretty well what it’s like to be in a 200-rider peleton.

We also went to see the “Goosebumps: The Science of Fear” exhibit in the museum. That was pretty interesting. I’d never even realized that there was such a thing as “Fear of chickens”. Apparently, fear of creepy, crawly animals is a big thing, so they had an animal exhibit where people could pet a small snake, a giant millipede, and a giant hissing cockroach. Lucinda liked the snake a lot.

Also, they included a section on collective fears of society. It was pretty funny to see the collection of things we’ve been afraid of. Sharks, microwaves, and rock-n-roll. It was all there. But my favorite was the bit about bicycles.

Afterward, we headed home, but not until Lucinda could play on the ropes at the ‘Big Lever’ exhibit outside.

And just for the record, I know what it’s like to ride in a big peleton. Here’s a picture of a Category 1/2 race at Super Week in Milwaukee from 1978. Like Waldo, I’m in it:


Strawberry Peak

Filed under: — stan @ 7:44 pm

Today we went up to the San Gabriel Mountains to do another hike. Since Lucinda did so well on Echo Mountain, we decided to try Strawberry Peak.

We headed up to La Cañada to the Angeles Crest Highway. We got our day pass for the forest there and then drove up the mountain. Near the top, we saw a plume of smoke ahead. We’re having an early fire season here this year, due to the dry winter, and our first thought was that it was a brush fire. But when we got there, we were greeted by a scene straight out of “The Road Warrior” The Angeles Crest is a favorite road for people to ride ‘crotch rocket‘ motorcycles. It looked like two of them had met head-on in the turn there. Both bikes were lying in the middle of the road, one of them on fire. Both riders were lying a short distance away. One was moving slightly, so he was still alive. The second was still. People were there directing traffic, and they said help was on the way. And people have asked me why I don’t ride a motorcycle. Heh.

The hike up was pleasant enough, aside from Lucinda wanting to stop and drink water every 100 feet. It was a hot day, and the creek in Colby Canyon was completely dry. We hiked up to Josephine Saddle, where we sat in the shade of the water tank for a bit before heading up the peak.

The final climb up the peak is the highlight of this hike, since it includes some interesting rock climbing. Lucinda liked it, but she also was a little scared by some of it. She’s been on climbing walls before, but this was a real mountain with no ropes or safety harness.

We climbed to the top of the rocky portion just below the peak. At that point, Lucinda wanted to go home, so we turned around and headed down. It’s more important to us that she come away from the experience with a good memory than it is to actually reach the top of the mountain.

On the way down, Lucinda drank the last of the water, and we vowed to bring more along the next time. She also had to be carried for a bit. I hurt my back the last time I carried her, so Cathy had to do it this time. Still, we had a nice time.


Believe it, or not!

Filed under: — stan @ 8:33 pm

Today we took Lucinda to the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum in Hollywood. She’s been wanting to go there for several years now, ever since she saw the building with the T-Rex head sticking out of the roof on Hollywood Boulevard.

The museum itself is perfectly located. It’s in the middle of the tourist-trap section of Hollywood Blvd, right down the street from the Chinese Theater, and diagonally across from Hollywood and Highland. Inside, it’s a weird collection of stuff. Some of it old, some of it morbid, some of just plain weird. Pictured here is the vampire killing kit, the two-headed baby skeleton, and the most unbelievable of all, an original press kit from “Mr. Ed“.

Like I said, it’s a weird collection of stuff. But it made for a fun afternoon. Now, if only the Museum of Death would re-open…


Wind caves in the OC

Filed under: — stan @ 9:43 pm

Today we went down to the OC so Lucinda could visit with Grandma and Grandpa. While she was doing that, Cathy and I went out. We went to Aliso and Woods Canyon Wilderness Park and did an easy hike there. I’d found it on the net yesterday, and the wind caves sounded interesting.

The actual trail was very easy walking. There were lots of people riding bikes there, also. It’s probably a better trail for bikes than for walking, just because a bike can cover the distance much faster. Signs warned of mountain lions, but we didn’t see any evidence of them, aside from some large scats along the trail.

We saw a flowering cactus along the trail, as well as lots of colorful birds. There was a very large birdhouse a short distance away from the trail. The sign said it was a raptor perch for hawks. We saw some hawks flying around, but we didn’t see them landing on the perch.

Cave Rock was a large outcrop of sandstone with some small caves in it. They were large enough to crawl inside, but not high enough to sit up in. The sandstone is quite soft, and people just can’t seem to resist carving their names in it. We saw one name dated 1927 on the side.

The highlight was Dripping Cave, which is reputed to have been a hideout for stagecoach robbers in the old days. The ceiling still had black soot on it from campfires.

On the way back, we came across a rattlesnake snoozing on the trail. It was about 3 1/2 feet (1m) long. It woke up and looked at us, and then slowly slithered away into the brush.

Overall, it was a pretty nice little hike.


Woo-Hoo! Free ice cream!

Filed under: — stan @ 10:34 pm

It was Free Ice Cream Cone day at Ben and Jerry’s. The line was pretty long, but it went fast. And the ice cream was good.


Dinosaurs and other geek diversions

Filed under: — stan @ 9:10 pm

Lucinda’s class has been doing a unit on dinosaurs lately, so we decided to take her to see the new “Dinosaurs Alive!” IMAX movie at the California Science Center. They are also having an exhibit of “Star Wars” props and costumes there, so we figured it could be a very fun day in a geeky way.

We went down there and got our tickets for the movie. Then we headed in to the museum. There was a long line for the “Star Wars” exhibit, so we went away for a little while. When we came back, there was no line, so we went right in. They had a lot of the original models and costumes from the first movie, which was fun to see. I particularly enjoyed looking at the Millennium Falcon model. There was a lot of detail on it that wasn’t apparent when it was moving in the movie.

After “Star Wars”, we went over to the aerospace gallery. We saw a model of the 1976 Viking Mars lander, and I thought of the story about it that is told around the Seismo Lab. Apparently, one of the guys who retired recently built the seismometer that went to Mars on the Viking lander. But before it went out, the Caltech property people slapped an inventory tag on it. The next year, they came back to do an inventory and they asked about it. He told them it was on Mars. For some reason, they didn’t believe him. But they didn’t take him up on his offer to go there and see it.

We headed over to the IMAX theater to see the dinosaurs. The movie was pretty well-done. The CG-animated dinosaurs were pretty realistic, and there were lots of gratuitous 3-D effects.

Overall, it was a fun time, and I got some more pictures for Lucinda’s photo album, too.


Walt’s for 21

Filed under: — stan @ 10:04 pm

Saturday afternoon, we all went down to Seal Beach. The occasion was the 21st anniversary of our first date. So we always go back to Walt’s Wharf to reminisce and marvel about how half the people working there now weren’t even born when we first went there.

They don’t take reservations for dinner, so we went down early. It was a nice day, so we figured we would put our name on the list and walk down to the beach for a while.

When we got to the beach, we saw the usual wildlife there. I got a nice shot of a wading bird in the surf. Lucinda wrote her name in the sand. Then we walked over to the concrete wall next to the pier. It was low tide, so we got to look at all the different shellfish clinging to the wall. That was interesting in a slightly geeky way.

On the way back to the restaurant, we stopped in a little shop that has lots of beach-theme stuff. Lucinda got a little fish fossil, and a fossil shark’s tooth. Her class has been doing a unit on fossils lately, so she wants to take them in to show.

When we went back to Walt’s, we were at the top of the list, and they gave us a table. We were upstairs, right next to the table where we sat on our first date.

After dinner, we walked back down the street to the little bakery we had passed earlier. We all got big desserts there. Yum.

And as always, we had a fun time.


Got pole?

Filed under: — stan @ 9:42 pm

I saw this on Susie Bright today. It’s the end of the world as we know it. And in this case, that’s a Good Thing.

Pole Dancing Parties Catch On in Book Club Country

And of course, we have to remember that Cathy is also quite good on the pole. Maybe we’ll have to get one for our house…


The jig is up…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:27 pm

Lucinda is going to be eight next week, and she’s now old enough to understand what it means that we have no cable TV. And she’s been lobbying for it for several months now.

So being the doting parents that we are, we agreed to get it for her. I think we must be remembering things we felt we were denied as children, and we figured that we could spring for it.

We signed up for DirecTV, which seemed to have the best deal for what we wanted. Or at least what Lucinda wanted.

On the other hand, this also means I get to watch “The Simpsons” again. I’ve been missing them ever since KTTV replaced their transmitter several years ago. The old transmitter made a decent signal at our house, but the new one has a more directional beam, and it goes right over our house because we’re too close to the mountain. Since we got the satellite thingy, I figure I should get some enjoyment from it, too.

So let the games begin. Can you hear our IQs dropping?

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