Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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An invention that changed the world

Filed under: — stan @ 1:43 pm

This was on the obituary page of the Los Angeles Times today:

Rebecca Webb Carranza, 98; Pioneered Creation, Manufacture of Tortilla Chip

“It was 1950, and the El Zarape Tortilla Factory, among the first to automate the production of tortillas, had used a tortilla-making machine for three years.

Corn and flour disks poured off the conveyor belt more than 12 times faster than they could be made by hand. At first many came out “bent” or misshapen, as company President Rebecca Webb Carranza recalled decades later, and were thrown away.

For a family party in the late 1940s, Carranza cut some of the discarded tortillas into triangles and fried them.”

And the world changed.

Sadly, she apparently never realized the full financial success that ought to come as a result of changing the world:

” After Carranza and her husband divorced in 1951, she signed the business over to him.

He soon opened a tortilla chip factory in Long Beach but closed it in 1967, partly because of competition from national companies that had discovered the sales potential of the salty chip.

Rebecca Carranza returned to East Los Angeles and worked into her 80s, first as a meat wrapper at grocery stores and then as a U.S. Census taker.”

Still, it’s a great story.


A Blustery Night

Filed under: — stan @ 9:24 pm

Last night we had some intense Santa Ana winds here. The house was creaking, the dogs were whimpering, and the power went out. So Cathy had to spend the night with our scared six-year-old, and I got to spend the night with two shivering dogs.

This morning, I went outside to survey the damage. Our street is a mess, but it was mostly just branches. Only one complete tree fell down on our block. The power came on at about 7:30 this morning. And I still rode my bike to work today. It was actually pretty amazing how fast I got there, riding with a 50-mph tailwind.


I’m not paying for this!

Filed under: — stan @ 11:00 am

varla's cd
Last night, we had a rare evening out. We dropped Lucinda off with Aunt Maggi and then headed over to Hollywood to see Varla Jean Merman’s new show, “I’m Not Paying For This!”.

We first went to dinner at the French Market Place in West Hollywood. We had a nice dinner and browsed a bit at our favorite gay gift shop, Dorothy’s Surrender. Then we headed over to the Renberg Theater at the L.A. Gay Center.

“I’m Not Paying For This!” is Varla’s new show, and it’s her tribute to the Seven Deadly Sins. She had a song for each, and it was very entertaining.

According to Varla, Lust leads to “guilt, a fractured tailbone, and a soiled clown suit”.

Varla also displayed a new talent, playing the theme from “Star Trek” on the theremin.

At the end of the show, she did one encore, singing “Girl With a Pearl Necklace” and also her “Schoolhouse Rock” medley.

Afterwards, we bought her new CD and she signed it for us. Overall, it was a very fun evening.

Her show runs through February 5.


Since everyone else seems to talk about TV…

Filed under: — stan @ 8:19 pm

Since everyone else seems to talk about TV shows from time to time, here’s mine.

I don’t watch much TV. Hardly any, in fact. This probably due more to lack of time than to snobbishness, but I have to admit to not being interested in most of it.

But I do see a lot of filming around town, and today they were filming for “Numb3rs” on campus. Caltech gets used a lot as a location, and if you know the campus, you’ll see it a lot.

The funny thing is, when they’re filming, it usually just looks like a bunch of people standing around. Very little visible action goes on. Still, it’s interesting to see this sort of thing, particularly when a location gets dressed up as something completely different.

Addendum: They were still doing it today so I added some more pictures.


Tattoo Convention

Filed under: — stan @ 11:19 pm

Body Art Expo
Yup. It’s time for another tattoo convention. This time it’s the winter edition of the giant Body Art Expo at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds. Today was a perfect day for it. The sun was out and it was warm.

When I got to the Fairplex, they were having the Easyriders bike show and an RV show, too. So the parking was packed. But that’s normal for any event that’s held there. There’s always something else going on.

When I got there, I saw my friend Stormy and her dog Nakai. Nakai is a service dog in training, so she get to go places where ordinary dogs don’t. She was also very cute and smart.

When I got inside, I saw David and his friend Justice. Justice recently moved back to L.A. after moving away after the Northridge Earthquake, and she had some concerns about Los Angeles and earthquakes. Since I’m in the earthquake business, I did my best to allay her fears.

A bit later, Mandy and Rob showed up. They were my ’straight friends’ for the afternoon, since they don’t really fit the freak mold. But it was nice to see Mandy again.

I saw Rick at the Mermaid’s Tale booth.

Anna was at here Anagram Fine Art booth again, so we had to visit and take a picture.

They had a fashion show, which was amusing. The outfits were from the Folter booth, and they were very nice. Brought out lots of cameras. The funniest bit was the first two girls who came out and posed. Then they turned around and flipped up their short schoolgirl skirts to show us their panties that said “PERV” on the back. Sadly, I was not able to capture that moment, due to digital camera lag.

There was also a booth for Utilikilts. I stopped in to just say hello. (waves to KarlElvis) And while I was there, two of the girls from the Folter show stopped by.

So it was a fun afternoon. All the pictures are here:


Random stuff on a Rose Parade Day

Filed under: — stan @ 6:09 pm

Today was the Rose Parade here in Pasadena. And it rained on the parade for the first time since 1955. So we didn’t go, and I’m told that lots of other people didn’t go either.

In the past, they parked the horse trailers on our street to collect the horses at the end of the parade, but this time they had the trailers at the St. Luke’s parking lot up the street. So I just got one soggy-horse picture.

The National Weather Service had issued a flash flood warning for Los Angeles County today. The rain was bucketing down for a while here. When it stopped, I went outside and snapped a picture of what passed for storm damage on our street.

Later, we took our dogs for a walk. We passed the shuttle buses for people who came to see the floats. I had to take a picture of the ‘Live in Baton Rouge’ advertisement. It’s always odd to see places advertising for people to move there. And the ‘viva mas barato’ just clinched the deal. Back when we lived in Hollywood, there was a store near our house called ‘Las 3-B: Bueno, Bonito, Barato’. So we always get a little laugh from stuff like this.


Over the river and through the woods…

Filed under: — stan @ 11:53 pm
flying grocery bag
surfliner train at night

Today we rode the Amtrak Surfliner down to San Diego to visit Grandpa Schwarz.

The trip down was pretty uneventful. We rode the Metro Gold Line to Union Station and then got the Surfliner southbound. Lucinda played with her Game Boy and also did some games in Highlights. The train stopped a few times on the way down. At one of the stops I saw a campaign sign for an upcoming election. There are few things more forlorn-looking than a campaign sign for a Democrat in Orange County.

When we got to San Diego, Grandpa picked us up at the station and we went to lunch at the dining room at his place. The dining room where he lives is actually quite good. The place is run by Hyatt, so the dining room is equivalent to a hotel restaurant. We had a nice lunch, and then we went down to his apartment.

Lucinda played piano with Grandpa for quite a while. She played with the animal puppets he has. We also marveled at the miraculous flying grocery bag we saw out of his window. Our grocery bags are usually flightless, but this was was swooping up and down outside the tower for a long time.

When it was time to go home, we went to dinner before going to the train. Then we got on and rode the train home. It was a nice day. It was long, but it was nice.


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.

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