Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Some fun on a Friday

Filed under: — stan @ 10:44 pm

Today, Lucinda’s class did a little performance at lunchtime. The had been rehearsing some songs for the last few weeks, and today was the day that they invited the parents to come and see. So they all filed in and took their places on the front steps of the school. They sang “It’s a Grand Old Flag”, “America the Beautiful”, “God Bless America”, and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”. It was all very cute.

It was also an interesting adventure, since I rode my bike to the school from the office. It’s about 5.5 miles, and the last bit is pretty steep uphill. It wasn’t bad, though. I’ve done it before. And on the way back, I passed by some filming near Caltech. Whatever this was, it was a big shoot. There were trucks and trailers parked along the streets for a couple of blocks on both sides.


Neon Art Opening Party

Filed under: — stan @ 1:45 pm

On Saturday night, we went to the opening party for the new exhibit at the Museum of Neon Art in downtown Los Angeles. This year is the 24th anniversary of the museum, and we’ve been going there for almost all of that time. It’s still our favorite art museum.

There was a pretty good crowd there, and lots of nice neon on display. We saw the dancing devil from last time, as well as some new pieces. And they had food there, too. Lucinda and I chowed down on the chocolate chip cookies. After riding 66 miles that morning, I figured I’d earned some.

There were a number of religious-themed pieces. There was Jesus on a cross decorated with neon and peeps. There was also Jesus painted on beer-bottle caps. There were also some animal pieces. One had a neon frog leaping into a pond, another had a neon frog skeleton, and a third had an animal skull with neon antlers. It was fun.


Insert a quarter to activate the Devil

Filed under: — stan @ 6:08 pm

dancing devilWe went to the Museum of Neon Art today. This is the last weekend for the current exhibit, so we wanted to see it before it went away. And we were not disappointed.

The exhibit had two parts. One part was neon beer signs and old neon business signs from the ’50s. There were some great old signs there, although sadly, the ceiling was too low for some. So we had to make do with the neon sign for “Al’s LIQ”, because that was all that would fit. The other part of the exhibit was neon and other electric sculptures. One piece we particularly liked was “A Dime a Dance”. This was a four-foot-tall Satan puppet on strings. He was standing on top of a lucite box with a neon sign inside it. The card said, “Insert a quarter to activate the Devil”. We just couldn’t resist that. The speakers began to play “Pipeline”, and the Devil danced for us. It was great fun.

After dancing with the Devil, we went outside and Lucinda played in the park next to the museum. Then we went to Chinatown and had Dim Sum at Empress Pavillion.. We’ve been going there since it opened in 1989 or so. It’s always packed, even though I think the food is a bit overrated. The restaurants in San Gabriel are just as good or better. But Empress Pavillion is still one of the best-known Dim Sum places in L.A. And it was good.


The egret is back

Filed under: — stan @ 10:34 pm

The egret was back on campus today. This is the same one that likes to hang around the ponds at Caltech.

I got a nice close-up shot of it this time, as well as some of the turtles and tadpoles in the pond. The tadpoles were easily the biggest I’ve ever seen anywhere. They were as big as a Six Dollar Burger. No wonder the egret likes to eat from the ponds. I don’t actually think the egret could eat one of them, but it probably eats the ones that haven’t had time to grow quite so large.


To the egret…

Filed under: — stan @ 10:55 pm

There is an egret who sometimes hangs around the Caltech campus. There are a few little pools that are stocked with frogs and mosquito fish, and apparently the little fish and tadpoles are very tasty. So the egret hangs around the ponds and eats. It’s an interesting bit of actual nature, red in tooth and claw, in the middle of the big city.



Filed under: — stan @ 10:08 am

We’re having more rain today, and it’s kind of windy. Whenever it’s windy here, the birds are all lined up on the wires with their beaks into the wind. When it’s not windy, they don’t all face the same way.


Letting Go of God Again

Filed under: — stan @ 11:11 pm

We went to see Julia Sweeney’s show “Letting Go of God” back in December, and we liked it so much that we decided to see it again. So we called our friends who are always interested in L.A. culture and asked them if they wanted to join us. So we all met in West Hollywood for lunch at the French Quarter for lunch and then headed over to the show. Even though it was Super Bowl Sunday, the theater was packed. The show was just as good the second time around, and we all enjoyed it tremendously.

Afterward, we all headed over to the Hollywood Forever cemetery so our friends could see the statue of Johnny Ramone.


The Real O.C.

Filed under: — stan @ 9:52 pm

Today we took a trip to the O.C. so that Lucinda could visit with Grandma and Grandpa. It’s also a chance for us to get out and do some non-kid stuff for an afternoon. So we went to see “Finding Neverland“. It was good and entertaining, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that we got to go out and be a ‘couple’ again, rather than having to be parents. So after the movie, we were faced with the usual problem we have when we go there. What is there to do around here? So we did the thing that they have in abundance there. We went shopping! Of course, all the places look the same. Just big faceless malls. But who can argue that tattooing hasn’t hit the mainstream when we walked into a mall in Orange County and saw a billboard with a prominent tattoo theme?


Shannon’s birthday party

Filed under: — stan @ 11:41 pm

Our tattoo artist friend Shannon had her fortieth birthday party this evening. It was at a little tapas restaurant in Old Town Pasadena. As one might expect, it drew an eclectic collection of characters. It was a fun time. They had a flamenco show there, and they made a point of dragging everyone who was having a birthday up on the stage to participate.

Also, quite unwittingly, I took one photo that was kind of funky and arty and quite the sort of thing that I’d like to be able to do. It was an accident, but here it is.


Crank Science

Filed under: — stan @ 3:34 pm

Working in the earthquake business, my office is like a lightning rod for cranks. There are many, many well-meaning people out there who all think they have solved the problem of earthquake prediction.

Yet another of these well-meaning people has been contacting our office recently. So we invited him in in the hope that just having a chance to explain himself to an audience might help him to feel that he was being listened to.

Of course, his presentation was very much classic pseudoscience. He had data in the form of millivolt-range measurements of voltages in the earth. From this, he made the conceptual leap to assuming that the slight differences he was measuring were somehow related to earthquakes. As one of his handouts said:

It has been shown that large earthquakes can be detected months in advance. This was demonstrated by Chinese scientists in the Beijing Seismological Bureau in 1976

Actually, so such thing has ever been demonstrated, yet he acted like this was a well-established fact.

To be sure, there is actually some serious research in the area of measuring electrical properties of the Earth related to earthquakes, but it’s thus far not produced any dramatic results. In particular, Dr. Anthony Frasier-Smith is considered to be the foremost expert on electromagnetic phenomena associated with earthquakes. But when we mentioned his name, our guest said that Frasier-Smith had already dismissed his ideas. Then he did the classic crank thing of invoking Galileo.

Never a dull day at my office.

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