Stan’s Obligatory Blog

5/20/2012

The Pasadena Marathon

Filed under: — stan @ 1:20 pm

Today’s bike club ride was one that didn’t really go anywhere in particular, aside from up and down a bunch of hills. But we did have a brief sightseeing stop at the 15-mile mark of the Pasadena Marathon. My stair-climbing friend Veronica was running in it, and based on her previous time of 3:44, I figured she’d be passing the 15-mile mark at about 8:40. Which gave us just enough time to ride up there from our 8:00 start at Victory Park. And she was right on schedule, running by us at 8:40:28 on her way to a new personal best of 3:42:49.

After that, we continued on, riding up through La Crescenta, back down to La Cañada, and then up and over the big hills past Sacred Heart school, and also Patrician Way. It’s all one hill, but we rode up and down it twice by two different routes. Then we rode to South Pasadena for cold drinks at Kaldi’s.

By then, it was pretty hot, and the last part of the ride didn’t include any more big hills. We just rode home at a leisurely pace. It was a pleasant ride.

42 miles.

5/19/2012

Derby time

Filed under: — stan @ 11:04 pm

Tonight was time to go back to the Doll Factory in Los Angeles to see another L.A. Derby Dolls match. This was our third time going, and we’ve enjoyed it every time. Like last time, the game was a bit of a blowout. But it was still a fun time.

We got some drinks and then dinner from the Mesohungry truck again. And I got a cookie from Freshly-Baked. It was quite good, and I know my cookies. Lucinda tried it and then she and London went back and they both got the ice cream sandwiches from them. As I said, their cookies are quite good.

The game was entertaining to watch, although next time I’m bringing real earplugs. The wadded-up bar napkins just didn’t quite cut it. Still, it was a very fun night. I recommend it highly.

4/29/2012

The cupcake ATM

Filed under: — stan @ 2:25 pm

A few months ago, I read an article about how Sprinkles cupcakes in Beverly Hills had installed a ‘cupcake ATM’ on the front of their store. This is an automated machine that sells a selection of their cupcakes 24 hours a day. The very idea is quite absurd, but it’s also funny. And of course, I immediately looked up where it was so I could plan a bike ride there to see it.

On the way across Hollywood, we stopped to see Carol Burnett’s star in front of the old Pacific Theater. We’d heard the story as part of the Neon Cruise last night, so I wanted to stop and see it.

In West Hollywood, we went past Dicks St, which we’ve been out to see before. Then it was on into Beverly Hills to see the Cupcake ATM. We got there just as the store was opening. There was a line outside waiting to get in. But we were there for the machine, so I went straight for that. It has a touch screen menu that was easy to use, but it really needs an awning over it. It was very hard to see in the sun. It played a little earworm ‘I love Sprinkles’ jingle when it wasn’t being used. I guess that’s its way of being its own carnival barker.

I selected a Dark Chocolate cupcake. I put my credit card in, and the machine started making a lot of mechanical noises for a few seconds before the little cylinder on the front rotated around to reveal a single cupcake in a little box, ready to go. It was packaged quite nicely. I took it out and ate half of it right there. Then I stuffed the box in my pocket. I was curious to see how well it would travel.

You can see it in action on youtube.

We had a quick bathroom break at Will Rogers Park in Beverly Hills before heading up Benedict Canyon. When we got to Mulholland Drive at the top of the hill, I took out my cupcake. The top had separated from the bottom on the ride up. So there are limits to how well it can travel in the little box. But it was still tasty. It was about as good as a bought cupcake can be. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to baked goods in general.

We rode along Mulholland for a while, stopping briefly to look at the mailbox at Fire Station 97. Then we turned off down into Studio City to stop at the gelato place we like there. After that, we headed home by the shortest route. This was a bit longer than our usual ride, and it was getting late. When I got home, I had 59.7 miles, so I went around the block once, just to make it a nice route number with a zero on the end.

60 miles.

4/28/2012

Saturday night neon

Filed under: — stan @ 10:49 pm

Since the Museum of Neon Art is in the process of moving to Glendale, they held a special Neon Cruise on Saturday night, beginning and ending at the Americana there. This was our third time doing a Neon Cruise, and it was fun like always.

The actual cruise route was very similar to the others. There are some neon signs in Glendale, but apparently, not all that many. We headed into downtown Los Angeles by way of Angelino Heights. The cruise is not just neon, but also takes in a lot of local history, so the old Victorian houses on Carroll Avenue were a nice sight. When we got downtown, we had a brief stop at Phillippe’s for snacks, drinks, and neon signs. I think this may have been the only time I’ve ever been to Phillippe’s when I wasn’t on jury duty.

I brought along some cookie’s I’d made and shared them with the other tourists on the bus. It’s a good way to try out new recipes, since I’m doing development now of recipes to enter in this year’s L.A. County Fair.

Heading out of downtown, we went up into Hollywood for a trip down Hollywood Boulevard, and a stop at the Cat and the Fiddle. After that, we headed back to the Americana for the end of the tour.

It was a fun evening.

4/14/2012

When girls collide

Filed under: — stan @ 10:02 pm

It’s time for another visit to the Doll Factory to see the L.A. Derby Dolls. We enjoyed this a lot the first time we went, so we’re back for more.

We made a point to get there a bit earlier this time. Partly to find a better viewing spot on the rail, partly to have time to get dinner from one of the food trucks there, and also to have a chance to see the vendor area. We had a look at the Blue Velvet cupcakes, gourmet cookies that were almost as good as the ones I make at home, and lots of roller derby clothes for sale. Then we went outside and got some burgers from the Mesohungry Truck.

Coming back inside, it was almost time for the game to start. Tonight’s match was between two of the Derby Dolls teams: Fight Crew vs Sirens. I don’t know how they decide who is going to be on what team, but it seemed that the Fight Crew was outmatched. The game was interesting and exciting, but in the end, it reminded me of my college days, watching Rice football games. Those games were never even close. Still, the whole thing was tremendously entertaining. And we’ll definitely be going back again in the future.

4/1/2012

Historic Lafayette Square

Filed under: — stan @ 10:12 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a sightseeing trip to Lafayette Square in Los Angeles. This is a little pocket of old mansions just west of downtown, surrounded by much more downscale neighborhoods.

We rode downtown by way of Huntington Drive and Main St. We had to stop for a train by the L.A. River, but it was moving, and we soon got past it and rode through downtown. On the south end of downtown, we saw a test train on the soon-to-be-opened Metro Expo Line.

After a few miles on West Adams, we turned north and got to La Fayette Square. It’s largely closed off to the surrounding area. Most of the streets are blocked, and there are only a couple of ways in and out. We came in through a sidewalk entrance on the back side of the area. We rode around a bit, marveling at all the enormous old houses.

Our snack stop was at Noah’s Bagels in Larchmont Village. After that, we made our way home by way of Silver Lake and Eagle Rock, and up the Colorado hill back into Pasadena.

It was a nice ride.

42 miles.

3/8/2012

Art Night

Filed under: — stan @ 11:17 pm

After stair-climbing practice on Thursday, I got changed and walked over to the Pershing Square Metro station to meet up with Kathleen. She had texted me that she was riding the Red Line in from North Hollywood. On the way over there, I looked back and saw a nice view of Venus and Jupiter, close together, and both right over the Aon building that I’d just climbed.

When Kathleen got there, we walked up the 102 steps (I counted them) to get from the subway platform to street level. And then we headed over on 4th St to go see some art. We met up with Zana there, and we set off in search of the food trucks that are usually at Art Walk night.

It turned out that the food trucks were parked in a lot by Main and 2nd. I decided to try the Rebel Bite this time. I got the Sundried Tomater Melt, and it was quite good. After that, we went to see some actual art. There was a lot of nice art to be had, and the crowds were not too bad this time.

All in all, it made for a fun evening.

2/23/2012

They can’t all be gems

Filed under: — stan @ 7:12 pm

I went downtown at lunchtime today to do the stair practice at the Aon building. So far this year, I’ve been going pretty well at this, turning in times that are about 30 seconds faster than I was doing last year at this time.

As always, I was dreading it all the way down there on the train. When I got there, I got changed and I didn’t wait around before starting up. There were a few people who started before me, but I caught and passed them within the first ten floors. And then I was alone the rest of the way. I took a look at my watch at 32, and it said something like 5:10. So I knew this was not going to be a record-setting climb. But amazingly enough, I was able to pick up the pace a bit, and I did the second half of the climb faster than the first half. I looked at my watch again at 54, and it was right around 9 minutes. So I knew I had a fighting chance to come in right around 10 minutes, and I managed to pick up the pace some more for the last four floors. And after taking a couple minutes to catch my breath, I looked at the watch again, and I saw that I’d done 10:03. It’s a measure of how much faster I’m going this year compared with last year that I look at that time, and I think, “Meh, that’s only so-so.” But last year, I was struggling to get under 10:30. So there’s really nothing to complain about here.

I took a couple of minutes to look at the view. I took a picture of the same view from last time, but it’s really not the same without the spectacular sunset colors.

On the way back, I had a few minutes to wait at the 7th St/Metro Center station, so I had a look at one of the new Expo Line trains parked in the station. We’d seen a test train running on the new line last Sunday. So I guess they’re getting close to opening it.

All in all, it was a pretty good outing, even if I didn’t get a new best time.

2/11/2012

Roller Derby!

Filed under: — stan @ 11:07 pm

Recently, Kathleen and I have watched a number of documentaries about the revival of roller derby. And it looks like something fun to go see. The L.A. Derby Dolls recently changed their policy to allow all ages to come to their bouts, so asked Lucinda if she wanted to go. And tonight we all went to see the show.

Getting there turned out to be a big ordeal, but that was just because of some problems on the road, and ordinarily, it’s not all that bad of a trip. We got there just before they introduced the skaters before the bout started. Next time, we’ll plan on getting there earlier. They had a whole vendor area, as well as food trucks outside. Truck Norris was even there. Inside, they had the banked track set up, with sort of standing-room bleachers set up around it. The regular tickets are general admission, and there are no seats. But because of the way the platforms are set up, it wasn’t a problem. We found a little bit of space along the railing and let Lucinda and London take that, while we stood behind them. So we could all see just fine.

At the start of the match, they explained the basic flow of the game, so it made some sense. And there was a lot of fast action. The announcer said that at least one of the jammers is a speed skater in her other life. And it showed when they got going. It was a lot of fun to watch. At half-time, they had a bout a 30 minute break, with a band playing in the vendor room. Lucinda and London went and bought themselves some shirts. It looked like they had a good time there.

All in all, it was tremendously entertaining.

1/2/2012

Floats!

Filed under: — stan @ 9:14 pm

Since we’d spent the morning going to see the horses, afterward, we took a walk over to see the floats. They park them down the street from my house, and they’re on display for the afternoon after the parade, and the next day. Since that generates a lot of traffic, the parade people give everyone in my neighborhood free tickets to go see them.

One of the floats had a little replica of Mt Rushmore, complete with Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Elvis. Hmm. That doesn’t sound right…

The RFD-TV float had Trigger and Bullet prominently displayed. The Paramount Pictures float had the classic USS Enterprise. And we got to see the La Cañada float with the flying pigs that we saw on last Sunday’s bike ride. And finally, we got to see the big Natural Balance Pet Foods float with the wave tank and the surfing dogs.

It made for an amusing afternoon.

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