Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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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.


Our weekend

Filed under: — stan @ 8:22 pm

Lucinda had a sleepover at Aunt Maggi’s house this weekend. We took her down there on Saturday afternoon. On the way back, we stopped off in Long Beach to have dinner at El Torito and look at some desks for Cathy.

On Saturday night, Cathy and I had one of those rare nights out as a couple. It was fun, and we didn’t get home and in bed until close to 1:00. Then on Sunday morning, we both got up early. I went for my regular Sunday morning bike ride, and Cathy went to the gym.

Lucinda and Aunt Maggi went out for a while on Saturday night. On Sunday they went to the pool near her house in Irvine with another family. Lucinda had a couple of other kids to play with, which worked out well.

Sunday afternoon, it was time to pick up Lucinda. On the way down there we saw a car lose its wheel on the 405 freeway. The left front wheel came off, and the hub fell down onto the pavement in a shower of sparks. It would have been spectacular at night. At the same time, the wheel rolled away across all five lanes of traffic. When it hit the center divider, it bounced up in the air and landed on the other side of the freeway in the oncoming lanes. We watched it bounce three times on its way across the lanes before it went off the other side of the freeway. It was probably the single most spectacular incident that either of us had actually witnessed on the freeway.


Have I mentioned that Pasadena has great city services?

Filed under: — stan @ 8:23 pm

This morning, we woke up to find that another big branch had fallen off the tree in front of our house. This one was almost as big as the one that fell off last year.

Cathy called the police non-emergency number to see what we should do, since the forestry department wasn’t open at 7:00 on a Sunday morning. They sent a car out to have a look, and then they contacted the on-call guy at forestry to have him come out to take care of it. While we were waiting, they borrowed my little bow saw and cut up the branch a bit so that it wasn’t blocking the street. Have I mentioned recently that the city services in Pasadena are great?


A story about a teacher who changed my life…

Filed under: — stan @ 8:42 pm

When we visited Grandpa last week, I got to dig through some piles of old photos and rediscover pieces of my past. I found a big stash of pictures from my bike racing days, which was fun. I also found my 6th grade class picture. This was from Radio Park Elementary in State College, PA.

I will never forget Mr. Wagner, and I think of him pretty often, considering how long ago I was in his class. But the reason is simple. In the fall of 1970, he won some sort of sweepstakes, and his prize was a trip to the Rose Bowl and Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. This seemed terribly exotic to all of us kids there in central Pennsylvania. When he came back, he gave our class a slide show of his trip. Lots of pictures of parade floats and football. Both things that really don’t interest me. But I remember one thing he said about the trip. That it was 75 degrees on New Year’s Day. And I made a mental note right then and there that when I grew up, I wanted to live in this ‘Pasadena’ place. And now, here I am. And it’s quite nice. So I will always fondly remember Mr. Wagner for (perhaps unwittingly) piquing my interest in Southern California, which has turned out to in fact be my Most Favorite Place.


Sir! Yes Sir!!!

Filed under: — stan @ 10:43 pm

This evening, our dog Buddy was barking out the front door at something, so I looked out the window and saw a supremely weird sight.

There is some group that does a ‘fitness boot camp’ thing at the park down the street from us. They run around the park and do calisthenics and such. Apparently, this evening the instructors decided to take them out of the park. So I looked out and saw a whole bunch of people lined up down our street, all holding poles and doing calisthenics. So I grabbed my camera and went outside and took their picture. They thought this was funny, but I told them that I thought it just looked supremely weird. Then the instructors barked something at them about not talking, and they all jogged off down the street.

Now I’m not one to shy away from exercise, especially when it involves a bicycle. But this sort of thing, and especially paying for it, just strikes me as weird. But whatever. After all, I used to be an aerobics instructor, and that struck most everyone who knew me as weird. Anyway, it’s just all part of the stuff that goes on in our neighborhood.


We’ll Always Have Paris…

Filed under: — stan @ 4:09 pm

The August issue of “Outside” magazine has an article titled “The New American Dream Towns”, and Pasadena made the list. There is an article about this in the Star News today.

I’ve always been skeptical of these ‘places rated’ surveys, since they always seem to end up liking dreary little cities that I’d hate to live in. I always remember when Rand McNally’s Places Rated Almanac picked Pittsburgh as the most livable city back in 1984. I was living in San Diego at the time, and everyone there was incensed that anyone could think that Pittsburgh was a better place to live than San Diego. The irony of this was that while I was pretty sure I’d hate Pittsburgh, I hated San Diego, too.

My personal rating scheme has a complex checklist:

Is it Los Angeles or close by?

  • Yes
  • No

We’ve lived here in Pasadena for just over ten years now, and we like it a lot. It’s a very pleasant town, and we have lots of city culture here. If you want real gritty urban culture, it’s close at hand in Los Angeles. The mountains are pretty. But calling it “a Paris on the 210 Freeway” is perhaps a bit much.


I’m getting around a lot these days…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:05 am

It’s kind of novel. This time, it’s in the Palm Springs Desert Sun:

Once again, they spelled my name correctly. I asked the reporter and he confirmed that the newspaper did indeed have ‘Schwarzenegger’ added to their spell checkers, which of course made spelling my name a snap.


Fifteen more seconds of fame…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:10 am

I got mentioned in a column in the Pasadena Star News on Sunday:

link to the story

“With California’s barrage of earthquakes, and even a tsunami warning last week, the Web site of the Pasadena office of the U.S. Geological Survey has been working overtime.

And it overloaded briefly Thursday.

Within minutes of the magnitude-4.9 earthquake that struck in the middle of the day near Yucaipa and shook all of Los Angeles, hundreds of thousands of people were pointing and clicking on the USGS site.

The number of hits peaked at more than 4,000 per second five minutes after the quake, said Stan Schwarz, system administrator for the USGS Pasadena office.

The system became overloaded and went offline shortly thereafter, but was up and working again about 45 minutes after the quake.

The largest number of hits came from the “Did you feel it?’ map, which doesn’t exist on any other site, Schwarz said.

The USGS’s new tool, which color-codes the likelihood of aftershocks in the next 24 hours, only registered about 6,000 of the 250,000 hits during the peak.

Schwarz said the site gets about six months’ worth of average traffic during the hour immediately following any earthquake that people in Los Angeles can feel.

And, he said, the peak time has gone down, probably as a result of more broadband Internet connections. “It used to be five or six years ago, the peak traffic on our Web site was 10 minutes after the earthquake,’ he said. “You could practically set your watch on it.’”

Ever since the Hector Mine Earthquake in 1999, I’ve made a little side project out of studying the traffic surges our web servers get after earthquakes. As a sysadmin, it’s largely a matter of self-preservation, since I hate it when they go down.

Note also that the reporter spelled my name correctly. This is unusual, but when she asked how it was spelled, I told her, “it’s easy – it’s spelled just like ‘Schwarzenegger’, but without the ‘enegger’”. She just laughed, but I figured that anyone in the newspaper business in California knows how to spell ‘Schwarzenegger’ now.


A few more seconds of fame

Filed under: — stan @ 1:56 pm

I sent an item in to Steve Harvey’s column in the Los Angeles Times yesterday, and he published it today, complete with the photo I sent in.,1,6592639.column?coll=la-mininav-california&ctrack=2&cset=true

Also, my dead dot-com gallery got linked from Milk and Cookies the day before yesterday.


Echos from the past

Filed under: — stan @ 10:52 pm

Every Memorial Day weekend there is something that happens near here, because we have fighter airplanes from World War II flying over our house. It’s kind of odd, but also interesting. The sound is distinctive, and quite different from any other kind of current airplane. It’s not every day that you have a piece of history flying overhead.

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