Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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12/12/2011

The Wettest Place on Earth

Filed under: — stan @ 10:29 pm

Kathleen and I took a trip to Disneyland today. We’d planned this a couple weeks in advance. What are the odds it’s going to rain? Note that that statement is a close cousin to “How hard could it be?”, like I say before all my stair climbs. So today it rained. Not the hardest rain we’ve seen around here, but enough that it was very wet, and it was quite cold by SoCal standards.

On the other hand, this meant that there weren’t that many people there. So the uncomfortable cold and wet was offset by the lack of lines. It was a lot like the very wet day we spent at Universal a last year. Note the picture of the queue for California Screamin’. I’ve never seen it that empty before. We were able to just walk up and get on. And I did just that. Seven times. On one of them, the sky opened up and it started raining hard right in the middle of the ride. Getting hit in the face with raindrops when you’re going 60mph on a roller coaster is a uniquely unpleasant experience.

One of the good aspects of Disneyland is that there are a lot of indoor rides. We rode Space Mountain four times, and the longest wait was about 15 minutes. So that wasn’t bad at all. Even the line for the newly-revamped Star Tours was only about 20 minutes. Kathleen even got me to go to the Tiki Room. She said it was something that fascinated her as child, and I could see why. Although I found the singing flowers to be a bit nightmarish.

We finished the day off with our traditional dinner at the Jazz Kitchen. It was a day of tradeoffs, but all around, it was fun.

12/1/2011

Wild night

Filed under: — stan @ 7:23 pm

This has all been covered other places, but here are a few random pictures from Thursday morning, December 1 in Pasadena. It’s fortunately not often that I step outside in the morning and think that my street looks like a war zone.

11/19/2011

A weird Saturday morning bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 1:08 pm

I had a few hours free this morning, so I went for a short bike ride. I wasn’t planning on going to see anything in particular. Just wanted to tool about a bit. But it turned out to be a weird little morning.

I rode out to Arcadia, and smack into a traffic jam in the detour around a parade route. It was a strange parade, consisting entirely of marching bands. And there were essentially no spectators. Just people who were with the bands. And one of the bands was marching and playing, and chanting, “We want fried chicken!” It was weird.

Heading back to Pasadena, I found out there was a UCLA game at the Rose Bowl, and the street I wanted to ride on was closed. OK, so a game at the Rose Bowl isn’t all that unusual, but I thought the girls on top of the Winnebago with the giant inflatable CU buffalo were funny.

After getting past the Rose Bowl, I headed up into Altadena for the trip home. And I rode right into a crime scene. The L.A. County Sherriff had a block of Christmas Tree Lane closed off with cars and deputies at both ends, and a helicopter circling overhead. The told me they were chasing someone on foot, so I thought it was probably best to just get out of their way.

And finally, I went by the house where the wallabies live, but they weren’t out today.

All told, it was a weird morning’s ride.

28 miles.

11/13/2011

The Great Wall of Los Angeles

Filed under: — stan @ 6:51 pm

This Sunday’s bike club outing was a ride to North Hollywood to see the Great Wall of Los Angeles. This is a long mural painted on the side of a flood-control channel that depicts events in Los Angeles history. It starts with giant slots and saber-tooth cats at one end, and goes up to the 1984 Olympics at the other end.

It was a good day for riding, and we had a good group. We headed out across Eagle Rock. In Burbank, we took the Chandler Bikeway for a while, which was where we saw perhaps the fattest chihuahua I’ve ever seen anywhere. It looked like a bratwurst with four toothpicks for legs.

Oxnard St took us the rest of the way to the park that runs alongside the mural. We came in at the modern-day end, and we worked our way back through time to the mammoths at the start. Then we turned on Chandler for the ride back. Our snack stop was at the Panera Bread at Chandler and Lankershim in NoHo. Then a bit more on the Chandler Bikeway across Burbank, and then back home via Yosemite Dr in Eagle Rock.

When we came back into Pasadena, we saw the first bleachers going up for the Rose Parade. Like the first robin of spring, that’s a sure sign of the changing seasons around here.

It was a nice ride.

45 miles.

10/30/2011

Down for the Count, 2011

Filed under: — stan @ 5:27 pm

It’s Halloween weekend, and time for our bike club ride out to Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City to visit Bela Lugosi’s grave. This time, we had a little extra in the form of a PBS biography program about Bela Lugosi that aired on Saturday night. So we got to learn a bit about how he pretty much originated what we think of as the standard vampire character.

It was a nice day for riding. We headed down through downtown L.A., we saw the Occupy L.A. encampment by City Hall. And we had to take a little detour because of the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon. Several key streets were closed for the event, but we were finally able to make our way through and then head out West Adams toward Culver City.

When we got into Culver City, John got a flat. In the process of fixing it, he accidentally pinched and punctured several more tubes before we finally got the tire back on and holding air.

Continuing on, we got to the cemetery and headed over to the Grotto, where Bela is buried. As always, people had decorated his grave for Halloween. On the way out, I was talking to Michael and found out that he was part of the original punk rock scene back in the late ’70s, so I took him to see Darby Crash’s grave on the hillside by the entrance.

On the way back, we stopped for bagels at Noah’s, and then headed back by way of 4th St. That’s a nice, quiet street. Not at all the place where you’d expect to run across the Batmobile. We see some decidedly odd things when we’re out riding.

All told, it was a fun ride.

52 miles.

10/16/2011

The House of Davids

Filed under: — stan @ 6:23 pm

I recently read that the House of Davids is for sale. Apparently, Norwood is dismayed that his house is more famous than he is, and so he wants to move away. So I figured we should pay another visit. I’d heard that he was going to be having a yard sale, but we were too early for that.

It was a nice day for riding. We headed out across Highland Park and down into Silver Lake. Then into Hancock Park to the House of Davids. He had one of the Davids wearing his holiday regalia, I guess just to show what they look like around the holidays.

After that, we headed north into Hollywood. Our snack stop was at Groundwork Coffee on Sunset. It was a nice day to sit out in the sunshine. Just like the day when we were sitting there in the sun reading the CNN news crawl across the street telling us that the Metrodome in Minneapolis had collapsed from the weight of the snow on the roof.

From there, we headed home. On Fountain Ave, we got to see a fairly violent car crash. A small car ran a red light and T-boned a big pickup truck. Made quite a sound.

And that was our ride for the day.

42 miles.

10/15/2011

Tim Burton at LACMA

Filed under: — stan @ 10:55 pm

On Saturday afternoon, Kathleen and I went over to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see the exhibit on Tim Burton.

The exhibit was great fun. They had examples of all his artwork, all the way back to notebook sketches from his high school days in Burbank back in the ’70s. And I’m sure he enjoys having his old artwork on display along with the teacher comments and rejection letters that it got back then. That sort of thing is always fun.

This is a very popular exhibit, so they had separate tickets for it. It was very crowded, and took quite a while to get through, since there were so many people there. But it was fun time.

10/13/2011

Artwalk October

Filed under: — stan @ 10:50 pm

This Thursday was time for the monthly downtown Los Angeles Artwalk. So after work, I got on the train to meet up with Kathleen downtown.

The food trucks were out in force again. Kathleen got a lobster roll from Lobsta Truck, and I got Korean BBQ cheese steak sandwich from the Kogi truck. Odd, but quite tasty.

After that, we headed out to make the rounds of the galleries. I took a few pictures, but not many, as the lighting is not really conducive to that sort of thing. Still, we saw lots of art of all kinds, as well as the insides of a lot of ornate old buildings downtown. As always, it was a fun time.

10/10/2011

“I am not a crook” and other great moments in history

Filed under: — stan @ 9:01 pm

Monday was a government holiday, so Kathleen and I went down to Yorba Linda to visit the Nixon Library and Museum. I’d been there before, many years ago, but I’d read recently that it had been taken over by the National Archives, and that they’d reworked the exhibits into a more fact-based form. So that made it worth the trip.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my mother ranting about how much she hated Richard Nixon. She’d gone to high school for a year in Whittier in about 1953 or 1954, so I guess he was prominent around there then. And of course, he’d run for President in 1960, just after I was born. Then, in 1973, my mother and I spent the summer watching the Senate Watergate Committee hearings on TV. This, of course, culminated in watching Nixon’s resignation in August of 1974. So you might say that Richard Nixon was a big part of my upbringing.

The museum isn’t nearly as glamorous a setting as the Reagan Library, which we visited on this holiday last year. But it’s still interesting to see. The first portion of it covers Richard Nixon’s life from the beginning up to his second term as President, with a small detour with a gallery devoted to Pat Nixon’s life. A lot of interesting and significant things happened during his time in office. The trip to China was one that he could take credit for. The moon landings, not so much, but he was still there for it.

Then we came to the final gallery. The color scheme changed, and we went into Watergate. The old museum had a gallery devoted to Watergate, but it was told from the Nixon point of view. Which is to say, it was a sort of bizarro-world version of the story. There used to be an exhibit where you could listen to an excerpt from the so-called ‘Smoking Gun tape‘ where Nixon and Haldeman are discussing the cover-up of their involvement in the Watergate break-in. And the sign on the exhibit told us that we could listen to it and hear clearly that they were not talking about a cover-up. But listening to it, it seemed pretty obvious that they were. So now, the exhibit has a series of touch screens where you can listen to excerpts from the tapes, and the synopsis on each one actually tells what it’s about, and the pieces of the story all fit together.

And then there was an entire exhibit devoted to the 18 1/2 minute gap. They had a picture of Rosemary Woods stretching across her desk to show how she might have ‘accidentally’ erased part of the tape. They also had a listening station where you could listen to the entire gap tape, complete with the clicks that indicated where there were multiple erasures. The only thing missing was the song.

They even had the lock picks that were found on the Watergate burglars. Being that lock picking is a hobby of mine, I found this amusing.

After that, we went outside to take a tour of the former Marine One helicopter, which was the Presidential helicopter for Presidents from Kennedy to Ford. We finished up with the tour of the family home and a visit to Richard and Pat’s graves.

It was an interesting day.

10/9/2011

Another urban bike tour

Filed under: — stan @ 12:53 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a sort of random tour of L.A. It was also the day of the third CicLAvia, but we decided not to go to that, since the last time, it was crowded enough that it didn’t feel safe riding in that group. Too many people seem so have the attitude that if there are no cars around, they don’t have to pay attention to anything or follow any sort of rules of the road. So that was out.

A few weeks ago, I read in the L.A. Times about a place in Echo Park that has a room full of vintage pinball machines and hosts a pinball league. So that was one stop on the tour, mostly just to see where it is. On the way, we went past a car club meeting in Echo Park. The Nash Metropolitan hot-rod was pretty funny.

When we crossed Alvarado St, we found ourselves facing a hill that looked like a wall. But it looked flat on the map…

Continuing on through Silver Lake, we went into the east end of Hollywood, where we had a brief sightseeing stop at the Vista Theater. This is the place that as a small Walk of Fame composed of the hand and foot prints of some of the lesser-known stars of cinema.

On the way back, we stopped off at Antigua Cultural Coffee for snacks and drinks.

It was a nice ride.

40 miles.

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