Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Those amazing animals

Filed under: — stan @ 4:02 pm

I was looking out the window today when I saw the neighbor’s cat batting at the bush in front of our window. The cat had a mouse treed in the bush. After a while, it knocked the mouse out of the bush and proceeded to sit and play with it on the lawn. I went out to snap a picture. The mouse was just dazed and panting on the grass. It was bleeding a little bit. I took my pictures and went back inside. The cat came back and took the mouse off to parts unknown.

Later on, I went in the back yard and noticed a rather colorful dog turd on the grass. Our dog Buddy had eaten some crayons a couple of nights ago. And the evidence was there for all to see. So I went back and got the camera again. So here it is, in full macro-focus glory: orange and blue crayon-speckled dog turds. Yum.


Our Holiday Feast

Filed under: — stan @ 9:26 pm

So today was the big holiday feast. Not a lot to say about it. I made the traditional turkey and cornbread stuffing. I also made herb bread and two kinds of olive tapenade. And potatoes au gratin.

The main thing was that we got to use our fun little wine chiller thingy.


Enter the Matrix

Filed under: — stan @ 6:24 pm

Last spring, Cathy had some trouble with her car. We ended up spending close to $2000 on fixing it. Our hope was that this would buy us another two years before having to replace it.

Sadly, this was not to be. After 129,000 miles, it was time.

So we bought Cathy a new car today. It’s a Toyota Matrix XR.

The amazing thing was, this wasn’t a horrible experience.

We started out looking at used cars. Cathy wanted something with a higher crash safety rating than her old Honda Civic. She liked the look of the Matrix, but being short, she needed to sit in it to be sure she could drive it.

Cathy contacted AAA and they referred her to Longo Toyota in El Monte. We went down there and had a look.

In the end, we found a used Matrix that had all the features Cathy wanted, but a new one with the same features was only $1,500 more. So we bought that.

Now this was a very weird, but still pleasant experience. Apparently, Longo fired all their car salesmen and replaced them with human beings. Everyone we dealt with there was pleasant, helpful, and knowledgeable. We thought we’d stepped into some weird Bizarro World where car buying doesn’t involve high pressure sales tactics, bodily-function deprivation, and being locked in a room with “The Closer”. It was all right.

And on a completely unrelated note, this weekend my car rolled over 100,000 miles. With the miles I drive, I probably won’t be able to keep it for more than another 15-20 years.


Candy and telescopes

Filed under: — stan @ 9:33 pm

So it’s Halloween night. Lucinda and Mommy and Aunt Maggi got dressed up in their costumes and went out with some of the neighborhood kids. They had a good haul. Aunt Maggi even had to come back th the house to get some bigger bags so they could carry all the candy.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I did my usual thing. I set up my telescope in the driveway and handed out candy. This year was good, since Mars is well-placed in the evening right now. I’ve been doing the ‘have some candy and look through the telescope’ thing since 1998, and it’s taken on a life of its own. A lot of the kids and their parents remember me and make a point to stop by our house so they can look.

It was a fun evening for all of us.


Beverly Hills

Filed under: — stan @ 7:35 pm

Today I went out to Beverly Hills for a safety fair at the weekly farmers’ market. This means to sit at a table, hand out earthquake information, and answer the three big questions that everyone asks:

  • When is the Big One going to happen?
    We don’t know
  • Is my house near a fault?
  • Where are there faults around here?
    See those trees over there?

It’s actually kind of fun. Particularly when it’s in Beverly Hills. The town where you see two Rolls-Royces in a driveway, each with “My Other Car is a Rolls-Royce” on the back.

The Beverly Hills Police were there, showing off their rescue vehicle. Since they almost certainly need such a tank-like vehicle on a daily basis. The Fire Department was there with their Urban Search and Rescue vehicle. I didn’t see the Mountain Rescue Team this time, but I’ve seen them before. I bet the city services there are great.


That bear cost HOW MUCH?!?!?!

Filed under: — stan @ 8:27 pm

Today we went to two kids’ birthday parties, back-to-back.

The first party was a Michael’s in Glendale. The kids all made a tic-tac-toe set, which involved much painting and gluing and pizza and cake. It looked like they had fun.

After that, it was on to the Glendale Galleria and Build-A-Bear. This is apparently quite the sensation with the young kids these days.

When we got there, they were just getting started. Each kid had a $20 budget to work with. They all started out picking out their animals. They have rows of bins with unstuffed animals ready to be picked. Lucinda picked out the rabbit, which turned out to be $20 for the animal alone. So we were on the hook for any accessories. And with racks of stuffed-animal clothing, shoes, hats and even little “Livestrong” bracelets for the bears, there were guaranteed to be accessories. A whole store full of accessories. Oh, the humanity…

They actually did a very good job with the birthday party. They had the kids singing songs while they stuffed the animals. They had them pick out little hearts to put inside the animals. They did everything to keep the kids entertained and engaged through the whole process. I guess that’s what we’re really paying for here.

Anyway, the kids had a good time. And as we were leaving, I noticed that the mall had thoughtfully provided an AED unit just outside Build-A-Bear, perfect for parents when they realize they just spent $50 on a stuffed animal.

After that, we all went to dinner at Islands. The kids had one large table, and the adults got two small tables. And cake was had by all.


T. Marvin Hatley, or Another Mystery of the Ages Falls

Filed under: — stan @ 12:42 pm

Since we went on the Tour of Laurel and Hardy last weekend, I was reading a bit about them today, and I ran across this:

“Trivia: The composer of the famous Laurel and Hardy theme song was T. Marvin Hatley.”

Years ago, I used to ride a lot in the Hollywood Hills. I would go down Mulholland Drive to Cahuenga Pass and then make a loop by going up Woodrow Wilson Drive. This was a steep hill, and by the time I got to the top, I was usually seeing stars. And at the top, there was a house with a wall in front with large letters spelling out “The T. Marvin Hatley Estate”. For fifteen years, I’ve wondered who T. Marvin Hatley was, and now I know. Here is his biography from

Of course this means another bike ride. I need to go back there and do the climb up Woodrow Wilson to see his house again, even though it probably doesn’t have the letters on the wall any more.


Mother on Fire

Filed under: — stan @ 6:42 pm

mother on fire
Today we went to see Sandra Tsing Loh’s new show, “Mother on Fire“.

Sandra Tsing Loh and I have similar backgrounds. We’re both half Chinese and half German. We both got degrees in Physics from major universities. We both spent some time working in the aerospace gulag of Hughes Aircraft. But then she went off into performing arts and writing, while I became a computer nerd.

Her latest show is about parenthood, and particularly about the travails of trying to get her daughter into a good school in Los Angeles. Having just been through that particular crucible last year, we were primed for a good time. And she did not disappoint. The show was a hoot, with stories about the Los Angeles Unified School District, where the kids eat candy and are stalked by an obese mountain lion in the hallways, to a bidding war over a house in La Cañada and talk of moving to Utah. It was hugely entertaining and tremendously funny.

If you’re in Los Angeles, go see this show.


Something funny

Filed under: — stan @ 6:07 pm

On the way back from dinner last night, we passed the Colonial Kitchen restaurant in San Marino. It appears that their neon sign is having a problem. It says “Colonial chen”. But I read recently that the city of San Marino is now about half Chinese, so perhaps this alteration to the sign is their way of trying to assimilate…


I don’t use my car much

Filed under: — stan @ 12:14 pm

Today I got my car out of the garage. This weekend is the Inkslingers’ Ball in Hollywood, so I’m going to use the car to get there. I determined that I need to buy gas. This will be the fourth time this year I’ve have to do that. And then I noticed an actual cobweb on the dashboard. I can’t even begin to describe how happy that made me. I’m just so glad that I use my car so infrequently that not only do spiders build webs in it, but the webs turn into old, dusty cobwebs. It’s great.

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