Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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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.


Playing tourist

Filed under: — stan @ 6:13 pm

One of the great things about living in L.A. is that we can just go out and play tourist any time we want. So today was the day.

We went over to West Hollywood and had lunch at the French Quarter, which is one of the big gay hangouts for Sunday brunch. The food is pretty good, too. And for us, it’s a chance to see what it’s like to be in the minority.

Next, we went to the Hustler Hollywood store. I got a DVD player for my 10th anniversary at my job, so we wanted to get something to play in it. Outside the store, we saw Ron Jeremy’s hand prints in the concrete. They had several others, but he was the one we are most familiar with.

After that, we went back to Hollywood Boulevard. Along the way, we passed Rock-n-Roll Ralphs on Sunset. We used to shop there sometimes when we lived in Hollywood, and it was always an adventure. When we parked, we saw the to the Skooby’s Hot Dogs car, as well as the dancing shoes on the parking structure. Then we went to the Erotic Museum for the Hollywood Sex Gods exhibit. It was interesting, giving the history of movie censorship from the Hays Code up through the establishment of the present ratings system, as well as a little bit of history of the association of porn and Los Angeles. We also saw some original Vargas Girls, Hugh Hefner’s robe, slippers, and pipe, and the inside of a Real Doll. Yikes. It looked kind of like the Terminator’s love-doll fantasy, with the metal skeleton exposed.

When we left to come home, we passed the former Pussycat Theater on Hollywood Boulvard. I find it immensely amusing that the former smut palace, done in by the invention of the VCR, has found new life as a church.


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.

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