Stan’s Obligatory Blog

5/16/2010

After the flood

Filed under: — stan @ 2:45 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip up to Tujunga to see if the house on Eby Canyon Road had been washed away last winter. We’d been up to see it last November, so we were curious to see if the deflection wall they were building worked. The house sits in a canyon right below the merging of two higher canyons, so when it rains, the wash there must turn into a raging torrent. It was a perfect day for riding.

We headed out across Eagle Rock, Glendale, and Burbank. I stopped to take a picture at Thirst Quencher Liquor. It’s not as funny as Hammered Liquor, but I thought it was amusing.

We rode through Shadow Hills. There were some steep bits, but it wasn’t too bad. Then we came out on Sunland Blvd and headed west to the mouth of Big Tujunga Canyon. The road into the neighborhood where the house is was under water. But it was only about 4-5 inches deep, so we just rode through it. Then up the hill on the other side and down into the canyon. And the house was still standing. The wash looked like it had been severely scoured by rushing water, and the culvert under the driveway was plugged. It also looked like the driveway had been buried by sand but they had had it plowed clear. So it looks like the wall worked.

Coming back across the wash, we rode through the water again, and then across Tujunga to get back to Montrose and our snack stop at Goldstein’s Bagels. It was a nice day to sit outside in the sun. Then we rode home by way of the trail over Devils Gate Dam and back into Pasadena.

It was a very nice ride.

47 miles.
cycling

5/9/2010

Great moments in speling

Filed under: — stan @ 3:45 pm

This past week, I saw an item in the news about Julia Louis-Dreyfus getting a star on Hollywood Blvd. And how they misspelled her name. So of course I thought that this should be a quick sightseeing trip. It was cool and overcast. A “May Gray” sort of L.A. day.

We rode over to Hollywood and found the star. They’d said that they were going to have it remade, but none of us thought they’d get it done so fast. But it had been replaced by a corrected star. Oh well.

After the sightseeing stop, we headed up the hill by a new route. This went up some steep little streets and brought us out by Wolf’s Lair Castle. From there, we rode up to the Hollywood sign. Along the way, we had to stop for a photo opportunity at the house with the garage door painted with books. Then we headed down the hill, past Lake Hollywood, and up the other side to come down into Burbank.

We stopped for snacks at Priscilla’s in Toluca Lake. And then we headed home by way of the Linda Vista hill in Glendale. It was still kind of cold, so we actually appreciated the warmth of climbing a hill.

It was a nice ride.

40 miles.
cycling

5/2/2010

Touring Downey

Filed under: — stan @ 1:12 pm

Today’s bike ride was a tour of Downey to visit several local sights. We’ve done this ride before, but it’s been over two years, so it was time again.

The first stop was the oldest operating McDonalds, where they had a small topiary hedge in the shape of the old-style McDonald’s logo. Then we moved on to see the two apartment buildings that Karen and Richard Carpenter bought with their earnings from their first two hit songs. Then we went to see their family home, which had been in danger of being demolished a couple years ago, but it was still there. And the final stop was at Dennis the Menace park, which, strangely, was not open at 10:00 on a Sunday morning. So nobody was in there, aside from a bunch of homeless people.

The highlight of our morning easily had to be the guy walking his pet raccoon. A raccoon on a leash is something we’ve never seen before, and the raccoon was very cute. We also saw Herbie in a driveway in Downey.

It was a fun little ride.

40 miles.
cycling

5/1/2010

True crime, right in my back yard

Filed under: — stan @ 5:49 pm

Today, Kathleen and I took the Esotouric ToursPasadena Confidential” true crime tour. This is a bus tour around Pasadena and South Pasadena to visit sites of all sorts of horrible happenings. And it was hosted in part by Crimebo, the Crime Clown, who made balloon animals and told stories of death and mayhem.

It seems that back in the ’50s, there were a lot of married men who were secretly gay, and who ended up murdered by tricks they’d brought home. There were also a fair number of people who just went off their nut and killed their families. And I’d always wondered where Sirhan Sirhan grew up.

This tour is not for everyone, but if you like the Dearly Departed Tour and the Museum of Death, you’d probably like this as well.

4/25/2010

Three American sex symbols

Filed under: — stan @ 5:45 pm

Today was the last Sunday of the month, and time for our monthly ‘longer ride’. This is to allow us a chance to do some sightseeing that’s beyond our usual 40-45 mile range. And today’s ride was a trip out to the Pierce Brothers cemetery in Westwood to pay respects to three American sex symbols:

  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Bettie Page
  • Farrah Fawcett

Between the three of them, they covered the decades from the ’50s all the way through the ’80s.

It was a perfect spring day for riding. We headed out across Eagle Rock and then down, over the L.A. River, and into Hollywood. That’s where we saw Tinkerbell and some super-hero that I don’t recognize. Riding down Hollywood Boulevard is always an amusing and surreal experience.

Continuing on, we took in a small part of the Sunset Strip, and then crossed into Beverly Hills. We saw the Menendez murder house and the Witch’s House. The Witch’s House was recently renovated and has a nice shark mailbox out front now.

Leaving Beverly Hills, we passed Century City, where Silvio had another of his fancy carbon-fiber spokes break. This happened last month, too. And again, the wheel went so far out of true that it was hitting the frame, rendering the bike unrideable. So he had to call home for help while we continued on our way.

When we got to Westwood, we spent some time browsing around the cemetery. Marilyn’s crypt is easiest to find, since it’s well-marked and always has fresh flowers. Bettie Page is buried in the grass nearby, and she also had some fresh flowers. Farrah is on the other side in the small section with vertical headstones. It’s almost all very-famous people buried in that section.

We looked around a bit more to see who else we could find. We liked the stone for Jeff Morris, although I had to look him up to remember who he was. I also made a point of showing Carla the spot where Frank Zappa is buried, since he has no marker.

Leaving the cemetery, we stopped briefly at the little park in Holmby Hills before heading up Benedict Canyon. We regrouped at the top before going down the other side on Coldwater Canyon into the Valley. Our snack stop was at the little gelato place in Studio City where we’d stopped the day we went to see Michael Jackson’s house.

From there, we headed straight home across Toluca Lake and Glendale. It was a very nice ride.

60 miles.
cycling

4/24/2010

The 1,377 Steps

Filed under: — stan @ 2:42 pm

So today was the big event. The 63-story stair climb up the Aon tower in downtown Los Angeles. After all the practice runs and all the mental preparation, it was showtime.

Since I was scheduled to start in the first group, I had to be there by 8:00, so I got up early and took the Metro Gold Line downtown. I got out of the Red Line subway station about 10 minutes before 8:00. Kathleen had ridden the subway in from the Valley, and she was already there. It’s always good to have a personal cheering section at these kinds of things.

I got registered and got my number: 404-Not Found. Well, I got a chuckle from it anyway. We saw Susan from the Stratosphere stair climb and U.S. Bank stair climbs there. There were several people there who we recognized from Las Vegas. It’s apparently a fairly tight-knit group that does this weird little sport.

When 9:00 came they had us line up to start. I went pretty far back in the line. I knew that the front guys were going to go very fast, and I didn’t want anyone passing me. I haven’t been passed on the stairs yet at one of these things, and I didn’t want to start today. When it was my turn to go, I ran in the door and started climbing.

I was quite a bit more serious about it this time, compared to last year. I didn’t carry my camera along to get a pain-picture on the way up. All I had was my stopwatch and metronome. And in the heat of battle I forgot to start the stopwatch at the start. D’oh! But my end-of-the-line strategy worked, and I passed about six or eight other guys on the way up. Kathleen had taken the camera and gone up to the 60th floor. They had the door open there to watch us go by. She said I looked like I was in some pain at that point, but you can’t tell from the picture because of the blur. And when I saw sunlight on the last landing, I managed to find a wee bit more for a final sprint up the last flight. When I got to the top, two guys took my arms and sat me down in a chair. I guess I must have looked like hell at that point, but I don’t know. At least they didn’t feel the need to give me oxygen like some people. I stayed on the roof for a little while to look at the view. While I was there, Randy from Las Vegas took my souvenir photo with his iPhone. Then we went down the stairs to the 60th floor, where there was a little party going on.

I had some oranges and water, and my breathing returned to normal. I was talking with a guy from Sacramento who had seen my web site and bike riding stories. So we traded some bike stories and compared our experiences climbing the stairs. Then Erik showed up. He’d gotten there a little late so he didn’t get to start with our group. We all hung around on the 60th floor for a while before taking the elevator down.

At the bottom, they’d already started posting results, and I was very pleased at my time of 11:42. My goal had been to be under 12 minutes, so this was quite good. And in fact, doing the math shows that I was going as fast as my last practice run. The practice runs were only 56 stories, so the fact that I was able to maintain that pace for the extra flights was a Good Thing. Erik turned in a time of 11:45, which means that all our practice runs to learn the pace worked. And the fact that I beat him by 3 seconds was a nice bonus. And in the end, I was 3rd in my age group, and 24th overall. I was 24th last year, but there were a lot more people doing it this time, so overall, I’m pleased.

A little bit of math gives my power output to be 273 watts, or 0.37 horsepower.

Kathleen and I hung around and schmoozed some at the little street fair they had at the bottom. We got some bagels, and I got a little massage. Then we headed back to the subway to go home.

It was a most excellent little adventure. Now we’re looking ahead to the YMCA stair climb up the U.S. Bank tower in September. Onward and upward.

Update 4/25/2010: They have the final results posted here. I was 22nd overall out of 493 runners, and 3rd out of 20 in the men’s 50-59 class. It was a good outing.

4/15/2010

Space Mountain x 5

Filed under: — stan @ 7:02 pm

This weeks is Spring Break for Pasadena schools. Apparently, this is later than all the other school districts in southern California. This worked out well for us, since it meant that this week was not in the blackout period for our friend Mike’s Disneyland pass. So yesterday we went down there and met up with him in front of the gates. He let us in with his pass and turned us loose as he headed back to work.

We went to California Adventure first. We rode the Golden Zephyr, which was entertaining, since the wind was picking up, and it was close to the level of wind that would close that ride down. After that, we went on the Jellyfish ride, and then the Mulholland Madness roller coaster. We looked at the line for Toy Story Mania and decided it was too long. So we went and had lunch instead. Then it was time to go Soarin’.

Now it was time for the Main Event. We walked across to Disneyland and headed straight for Space Mountain. The sign said the wait was about 20 minutes, so we stopped and picked up Fast Passes and then went to wait in the line. We rode the ride, and when we got out, we had only 15 minutes before we could use our passes to go back in. So we walked over to Star Tours, which had no line at all. We rode that and then went back to Space Mountain for a second time.

Next, we walked over to Big Thunder Mountain. Again, we picked up Fast Passes and then waited in the not-very-long line. The ride was fun, as always. When we got out, we had about a half-hour before we could go back. So we went over to the Matterhorn and found it closed for maintenance. They said it would be open on Saturday, but that was too long to wait. Instead, we went back for some old favorites: Pirates and the Haunted Mansion. After that, we went back to Thunder Mountain and found it closed for repair.

At this point, we needed to do something different, so we went to Toontown and rode the Go Coaster. This is a relatively tame ride now, but it was Lucinda’s first roller coaster. Then we went back to Tomorrowland so the girls could drive the cars at Autopia. But along the way, we stopped and picked up some more Fast Passes for Space Mountain. So after they finished driving we went back and rode for the third time.

We went back and checked and found Thunder Mountain was open again, so we used our passes and rode it again. By that time, it was starting to get late. I said we had time for one more ride, and the girls said they wanted to ride Space Mountain again. So I told them we could go back there, pick up Fast Passes, and then they could do their gift shop time while we were waiting. They bought matching Mickey Mouse sweatshirts. Then we headed back for our fourth run on Space Mountain.

When we got there, we had 15 minutes to go before we could use our passes. The sign said the wait was 15 minutes. So we waited in the line, rode for the fourth time, and then we walked around and used our passes to ride it a fifth time. That’s the most times on any one ride for us except for the day at Universal when we rode the Mummy eight times.

On the way out, we stopped for the obligatory dinner at the Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney. This is my sentimental favorite, since I can line up all our pictures from there and see my journey through and climb out of Divorce Hell.

It was a very fun day. Tiring, but fun. All the pictures are here.

2/25/2010

Hot set up the street

Filed under: — stan @ 11:27 pm

The old hospital up the street from my house gets used a lot as a filming location. But it’s fairly rare that they film anything there outside the building. But they had the street posted for no parking tonight, which meant they were going to be filming on the street. So I took a walk up to see what they were doing. It was novel seeing the old hospital dressed up again as a hospital. It’s been closed for almost ten years now. They had a car on a platform set up with lights. The street was a little bit wet, which means they’d been filming something with the car driving on the street. I guess now they were going to film the close-ups of the actor inside the car. There was a tremendous amount of activity, but very little action, which is typical for these things. I gather it’s a pretty slow-moving business. But we all know that the end result looks good.

2/20/2010

Very precise

Filed under: — stan @ 5:46 pm

Tomorrow is the Pasadena Marathon, and they have signs up on all the streets that are going to be closed for the race. The signs on the street by my office all say that the road will be closed from 1:00AM to 9:05AM. I wonder what’s special about 9:05? And if I go up the street and around the corner, will they say 9:06?

2/15/2010

Another day at Universal, with much less water

Filed under: — stan @ 8:55 pm

Since Lucinda and I had the Presidents’ Day holiday off today, we decided to go back to Universal again. They only sell tickets with the ‘buy a day and come back any time for a year’ thing, we figured we’d take them up on it. Since today was a nice sunny and warm day, we figured there would be more people than last time, but the upside to dealing with crowds was that we weren’t going to get soaked. So we gathered up Kymber and we all headed over there this morning.

When we got there, we immediately headed down to the lower lot, since the sign said that the lines for the rides down there were not very long yet. We rode Jurassic Park once, then the Mummy twice, and then back to Jurassic Park again. In between the first and second Mummy rides, I stopped at the snack bar and got a napkin to make some earplugs. And then I was much more comfortable. As I’ve mentioned before, riding a roller coaster with two ten-year-old girls can involve a lot of screaming. The first picture on Jurassic Park had me stoically holding my ears to block out all the screaming on the final drop.

We had lunch overlooking the end of the Jurassic Park ride, and then we went back up and saw the “Waterworld” show. After that, we did the obligatory tram tour. I got a chuckle from the Los Angeles Fire Department golf cart. We usually think of the fire department with lots of gear going very fast to put out fires. And the image of them puttering around in a golf cart was just a bit absurd.

After the tram tour finished, we went back down to the lower lot for the “Backdraft” show. And then one more time on the Mummy. By then, it was getting late. I figured we had time for one more ride, so Kymber and I got in line for Jurassic Park again. This time Lucinda didn’t want to go for some reason. So while we were waiting, I texted her and said that we were going to send her a message from inside the ride. I wrote up a short message:

AAAAAAAAAA!!!

and saved it in the ‘Drafts’ folder on my phone. Then, when the boat was just tipping over the edge of the final drop, I pulled out my phone and hit ‘Send’. The ride photo shows me holding my phone in the air as the boat plunged into the water at the bottom.

All around, it was a fun day, even if we did have to wait in line some. The rest of the pictures are in Lucinda’s photo album.

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