Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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3/29/2005

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.

3/7/2005

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.

2/21/2005

Stormy

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.

2/6/2005

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.

1/30/2005

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?

1/29/2005

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.

1/27/2005

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.

1/15/2005

Body Worlds

Filed under: — stan @ 11:09 pm

Today we went to the Body Worlds exhibit at the science museum. This is an exhibit of real bodies, preserved with plastic and on display for us to see in gory detail. It was really quite interesting. Cathy’s friend Cathy from Texas came here for the weekend to see it, and she liked it a lot. So overall, it was an interesting adventure.

1/13/2005

Our house is falling apart (continued)

Filed under: — stan @ 6:24 pm

As I noted a while back, our house is falling apart. We managed to make it through the torrential rains without too much leakage, and today the roofing guy came out to fix the roof. He put a new roof on the laundry room and put a new crown on top of the house. But when he came down, he said we should have a look at our chimney, as it appears to be falling apart. I went up and took some pictures of the cracks in it. Most likely, they were caused by earthquakes, as our house has experienced several significant earthquakes nearby over the years.

Anyway, I guess we will have to decide if we want to do something about this.

1/9/2005

Sunday fun

Filed under: — stan @ 7:43 pm

Today we went to the Skeptics Society talk. The speaker was Jared Diamond talking about his new book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. We’ve seen him before, and he’s an engaging speaker. I also read his other book, Guns, Germs, and Steel and enjoyed it immensely. From what he said today, it sounds like his new book will be worth a read. Also, he said that the L.A. County Natural History Museum is going to be doing a special exhibit on this topic starting May 1.

lake
It’s been raining for three days straight here, and the lake is back in our yard. Today was the biggest we’ve seen it get in nearly 10 years in this house.

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