Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Page 19 of 46« First...10«1718192021»3040...Last »

8/23/2011

Well, this certainly made for an interesting day

Filed under: — stan @ 8:16 pm

There was a fairly large earthquake in Virginia today. Magnitude 5.8, which was strong enough to be felt as far north as Toronto. This is an unusual event, and it brought the news trucks out to the office for the first time in quite a while.

My Pet Project told me about the earthquake first, with a message that it had been detected by the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center’s seismic network. Given that this was an unusual location for an earthquake that large, I wanted to get independent verification that it was real. So I had a look at Twitter. And sure enough, there were people talking about it already. So I had a look at the web servers to see that they were doing all right, and I checked on the ENS (aka My Pet Project) database to be sure it was doing all right. Then I headed across the street.

Channel 7 was the first to arrive. Seeing that first news truck after an earthquake is like seeing the first robin of spring. Soon, we had a large collection of them parked all around the building, and they filled up the media room for the quick press conference that was organized for the occasion.

It’s always entertaining watching the media frenzy after an earthquake. So it made for a fun afternoon. And ENS picked up over 2,600 new subscribers today. It still boggles my mind that something I invented is being used by more than 280,000 people.

8/1/2011

Monday evening fun

Filed under: — stan @ 10:59 pm

Monday evening was an exercise in contrasts.

First off, I went downtown for the first stair practice session at One California Plaza. This is a 42-story building, so it’s bigger than my usual practice sessions at Millikan Library at Caltech. I’d done this one once last year, so I was curious to see how I’d do on it this time.

There was a good group there for it. We all trooped over there and handed in our signed waivers to the building guards. Then the let us loose in the stairs.

Because the building is relatively short, the stairs were pretty much straight up. There was just one break in the middle for a big mechanical floor, I passed one or two people, and one or two passed me. But they were people who are very fast, so I can’t complain too much. And in the end, I got to the top in 7:31, which is a good 35 seconds faster than I did it last year. Nothing not to like there. And we got to ride the elevator back down this time, which was good. I’d said that I wasn’t going to walk down unless the building was on fire.

Afterward, just a bit of contrast, I went out to Burbank and met up with Kathleen at the Smoke House for their Monday night special. Prime rib, and 1/2 off wine. Again, nothing not to like there.

It was a fun evening.

7/30/2011

Hollywood Sightseeing with the Krell

Filed under: — stan @ 6:29 pm

This afternoon, Kathleen and I went to Hollywood to see the exhibit at the Linwood Dunn Theater gallery. They were showing props and other artifacts from the 1956 movie, “Forbidden Planet“. In keeping with the theme from last Thursday, this movie was based on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”.

We saw some of the equipment they used to make the all-electronic music for the movie, which was pretty unusual for 1956. We also saw some miniature models used in the filming, as well as the full-sized Robbie the Robot suit.

After this, we went to Hollywood Forever to do a bit more sightseeing. We went to Hollywood Forever, and I got some new entries for my Graves photo collection.

And on the way home, I saw some minor words of wisdom tie-wrapped to a pole.

7/25/2011

The Captains

Filed under: — stan @ 11:35 pm

Tonight, Kathleen and I went over to Hollywood Forever for a special screening of “The Captains“. This is a documentary by William Shatner, where he goes to meet and interview all of the actors who have played starship captains in all the incarnations of “Star Trek“. It was a chance for him to confront and embrace what is surely his legacy, and to talk with the others and share their feelings on their participation in “Star Trek”, which will likely be the one thing they will all be remembered best for having done.

As one would expect, there were lots of fans there in “Star Trek” costumes. I don’t have a costume, but I brought along my tribble. And each incarnation of the show and each captain had its own set of fans. Even after all these years, it’s still an amazing thing that it took on a life of its own and became such a pervasive part of our culture.

William Shatner was there to introduce the film. Beforehand, I saw him in the middle of a little scrum of photographer, along with Henry Rollins. (WTF? Henry Rollins? What’s he doing here?) In his introduction to the film, Shatner spoke of how strange it was to be introducing this film at the cemetery in Hollywood. Looking over the back wall, we could see the sound stage where they filmed the original “Star Trek”, nearly 50 years ago. He talked about how he originally came to the part of Captain Kirk, and how nobody really thought the show would amount to much in the long run. And his having to come to terms with the fact that that one role has in many ways come to define his life. Apparently, it’s been an interesting journey.

The film itself was very entertaining. The other captains all came into it with at least a bit more warning that they were doing something that would be career-defining, since they all came along after “Star Trek” had become a worldwide phenomenon. Each one had a slightly different take on how their character should work, and hearing their reminiscences was a lot of fun.

In the end, Shatner came to terms with his legacy, which was the main reason he made this film. It was a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it.

7/22/2011

Can this be for real?

Filed under: — stan @ 8:11 am

This was in the L.A. Times yesterday:

Bicyclist harassment outlawed by Los Angeles City Council
New law makes it a crime for drivers to threaten cyclists verbally or physically.

By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times

July 21, 2011
The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday passed a pioneering new law intended to protect bicyclists from harassment by motorists.

The ordinance, which backers described as the toughest of its kind in the nation, makes it a crime for drivers to threaten cyclists verbally or physically, and allows victims of harassment to sue in civil court without waiting for the city to press criminal charges.

I think this sounds like a great idea. It remains to be seen how it will work in real life, but at least somebody is thinking about it. And that in itself is remarkable.

The whole story is here:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bicycle-law-20110721,0,3219222.story

7/7/2011

Shakespeare in the Park

Filed under: — stan @ 11:34 pm

Last summer, Kathleen and I used to have picnics at the Old Zoo in Griffith Park. And while we were there, we saw the Independent Shakespeare Company doing their summer show in the park. We were having a picnic there last week, and we saw the rehearsals, so tonight we decided to go back and have another picnic and see the show.

The show was a reinterpretation of “The Merry Wives of Windsor“, set in 1920s London. The show got a good review in the L.A. Times. Neither of us is especially familiar with Shakespeare’s plays, but we looked up some information about it beforehand, and Kathleen brought up a synopsis of it on her iPhone, so we were able to refer to that at times when it wasn’t clear what was happening.

All in all, it was a very fun evening.

7/4/2011

Echo Mountain for the 4th

Filed under: — stan @ 11:58 pm

Tonight, Kathleen, Lucinda, and I hiked up Echo Mountain above Altadena to watch the fireworks. Apparently, this is a popular thing to do, since there was a pretty big crowd headed up the trail. It’s about 2 1/2 miles to the top, and by the time we got there, most of the prime picnic spots were taken. But we managed to find a reasonable place to set up, and we had a little picnic while we waited for the sun to go down.

When night fell, we could see the entire Los Angeles basin laid out in front of us. And we could see people setting off backyard fireworks all over the city. Some of them were quite large. But when it got to be 9:00, the big fireworks shows started. The one at the Rose Bowl was the closest to us, but we could see them going on all the way down to Long Beach, which is something like 35 miles away as the crow flies. We could also see a big show going on at Dodger Stadium, which was just in front of the downtown skyscrapers, and another show going on just beyond downtown. It was kind of strange to see the fireworks peeking through the gaps between the big buildings.

I’d brought a light tripod, and I set my camera up on it. I set it on the timer, and had it take several shots at a time. There’s no way to hold the camera steady enough without a tripod, and it’s best if I’m not even touching it when it’s shooting, so I just had it snap away by itself. And I got some nice pictures just by random chance.

When it was all over, everyone headed back down the trail at the same time. The hike down was like driving the 405 on a Friday afternoon. Lots of stopping and waiting. But it was still a fun little adventure, and I think we’re going to do it again next year.

6/25/2011

Evening Electric

Filed under: — stan @ 10:27 pm

On Saturday night, Kathleen and I went over to Glendale for Evening Electric, which was a small party put on by the Museum of Neon Art in their new home on Brand Blvd. This was just a preview, and the museum won’t be opening there for real until next year, but it was a chance to see the space with a few pieces of their collection in it. They also had drinks, food, and a silent auction to benefit the museum.

And yes, it’s still my favorite art museum.

We had a nice time there. The food was good, and there was an open bar, complete with an animated electric sign. They said that the sign really used to say “BAR-B-Q”, but they just left off the last part of it for tonight. The cake was a rather alarming shade of red, but everyone said it tasted good. They had a guy playing a singing saw, which was interesting. Sort of like an acoustic version of a theremin.

In the end, I bid on only one item in the silent auction, but I got to bring it home. It’s a small plasma dome, and it’s entertaining to watch with the lights off. And it’s for a good cause, since it helps raise money to support the museum.

It was an entertaining evening.

What is it they say about a bowl of cherries?

Filed under: — stan @ 4:09 pm

On Saturday morning, Lucinda and I went to Leona Valley with Kathleen and her daughters to all go picking cherries. I’d never been there before, but I looked it up on the map, and Leona Valley is a long, straight valley west of Palmdale, and the San Andreas Fault runs right down the middle of it. So I was curious to see how obvious the fault would be on the ground there.

We all met up in Newhall and then we all went the rest of the way in my car, since it’s big enough for five. When we got there, we had a look a the cherry orchards that were open and picked on to go in. We got our buckets and went to it.

They said that they had a small crop this year, due to a hard freeze late last winter, but there were lots of cherries on the trees, and we quickly filled the buckets. In the end, we had something like 12 pounds of cherries, and they were very good.

After that, we found a shady spot and had a little picnic before heading home.

It was a fun little morning adventure. And I even found a new hot-rod mailbox:

mailbox

6/9/2011

Art Walk

Filed under: — stan @ 10:38 pm

Tonight was the monthly Art Walk in downtown Los Angeles. We’d gone to this back in April, and it was a fun time. Lucinda and I went downtown and met up with Kathleen there. We made the rounds of the galleries and the food trucks. We got ice cream from the Lake Street Creamery, which was good, as always. We found the Grilled Cheese Truck, but sadly, the line for it was too long. I suppose that’s a recommendation. The Lobsta Truck also had a really long line.

We started out the evening at the Museum of Neon Art, since this is their last week downtown before they move to their new home in Glendale. From there, we just sort of randomly wandered around, looking in the galleries. There was lots of nice art, some old signs, and lots of neon. One of the galleries was in the old Los Angeles Stock Exchange, which was a very ornate and interesting building. There were even swastikas decorating one of the very old bank buildings on Spring Street.

All told, it was a fun evening.

Page 19 of 46« First...10«1718192021»3040...Last »

Powered by WordPress