Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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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.

1/8/2005

Tattoo Expo

Filed under: — stan @ 11:32 pm

tattoo convention
Today we went to the big Body Art Expo at the L.A. County Fairgrounds. As tattoo conventions go, this one is kind of lame in that it’s not put on by tattoo people, but at the same time, all our tattoo friends are usually there. We took Lucinda along, since she said that she wanted to go. We wandered around there and visited with everyone we knew. Lucinda got a little temporary henna tattoo, and we generally had a fun time.

1/6/2005

Earthquake!

Filed under: — stan @ 9:06 pm

news truck
We had an earthquake this morning. M4.4 centered near Fontana. This wasn’t a Big Deal as these things go, but it did make for a busy morning at my office. The non-seismologists at Caltech tend to measure earthquakes by the ‘news truck’ scale, and by that measure, this was only a ‘two truck’ earthquake. Still, it made a traffic spike on the Earthquake Hazards Program web servers, and generally made things busy for a while.

1/1/2005

It’s still more madness!

Filed under: — stan @ 7:36 pm
So today was the Rose Parade. We live right at the end of the parade route, so this affords us a somewhat odd view of the event. It began like a Soviet May Day, with an overflight by our most fearsome military aircraft. So I went outside and snapped a picture of them flying over the hedge. Then I took a short bike ride down to the park. The In-N-Out Burger mobile units were all set up and ready to feed the marching bands when they got there.
One thing I thought was a bit odd was that with all the Department of Father Homeland Security talk of terrorists wanting to attack an event like the Rose Parade, whose idea was it to give out a toy called a “Bomb Bag”?
After a while, the horses started to arrive. I thought that the cowgirls with the stars-and-stripes outfits were cute.
One guy seemed a bit concerned that the crowds might walk on his lawn. He put up a little temporary fence, just like the stores on Colorado Blvd.
The true nightmare scenario of an event like this is to need an ambulance. That happened this time. It wasn’t clear exactly what happened to the man, but they were doing CPR on him, so it couldn’t be good.
The mule group had a trailer that said, “Hauling World Champion Ass”.
Usually, all the horse people are just eating In-N-Out burgers when they get here, but this year, one guy brought a barbecue grill and set it up right out in the street.
Back down on the parade route, there was lots of trash left by all the people. A lot of it is Chick tracts and other religious pamphlets. The other thing we see is people bringing a mattress to sleep on and then leave it after the parade. But the city is on top of it. By tomorrow, all the trash will be gone, and it will be as if it never happened.
Of course, little girls love horses, and Lucinda is no exception. She went out with a bag of carrots.
This afternoon, we went to see the floats close-up. Who knew that the surface of Saturn was covered with dried apricots? Another odd thing was the Home Depot float, “Saturday in the Park”. It was not clear why it had a fire extinguisher mounted right on the front. And the Roto-Rooter float was kind of funny. What else would it be but a big tree with massive roots?


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