Stan’s Obligatory Blog

7/3/2006

“I’m George Page for Nature…”

Filed under: — stan @ 7:17 am

I was reading the L.A. Times obituary page today, and I saw that George Page has died.

Back in 1986, when Cathy and I started dating, we pretty quickly evolved a routine where we spent every weekend together. Cathy worked at a bank at the time, so she came over to my apartment after work on Friday. She usually didn’t get there until 8:30 or so. I would have dinner ready when she got there. Then, we would spend the weekend together doing whatever, but always ending on Sunday evening with a pot of tea, a spice cake, and watching “Nature” on PBS. George Page was the creator and narrator of the show, and the introduction to every episode began with, “Hi, I’m George Page for Nature…”

It’s the end of an era.

7/2/2006

Glendora and back

Filed under: — stan @ 1:01 pm

Today’s ride was out to Glendora, with a stop at a new coffee shop there.

We started out with a big group. Probably the biggest to come on the ride in a long time. We headed east on Longden into Live Oak and on into Arrow Highway.

At the entrance to Santa Fe Dam there was a long line of cars waiting to get into the park. None of us knew what was going on there, but whatever it was, it must be good to get that many people coming out on such a hot day.

When we got to It’s a Grind, we took three of the outside tables and dragged them over into the shade. It was only about 10:00, but it was already hot. I had a large orange juice. It was fresh-squeezed and quite good.

After the stop, we headed up Barranca to Sierra Madre. There used to be a big plant nursury up there, but it’s gone now. In its place we could see the beginnings of yet another much-needed suburban housing development. The sign said “Coming Summer 2006″. Considering that they haven’t even gotten the roads in yet, I think they’re not going to make that deadline. Even if they have the help of Sukut (”Moving Earth to Award-Winning Levels”).

Coming down into Azusa, we got on the bike path briefly to cross the river into Duarte. Then we headed west, passing by the ‘Nun Crossing‘ sign and into Monrovia. From there, we basically went straight home across Arcadia and Sierra Madre.

When we got back to the park, I had 37 miles, and it wasn’t even 11:00. So I followed Jon home to South Pasadena. We paused briefly at a new plus-size store on Colorado. I’d never seen plus-size mannequins before. Then we rode south into San Marino and then took Monterey in to South Pasadena. After Jon turned off, I continued on Monterey Road out to Arroyo and then back by way of Holly St and Orange Grove.

By the time I got home, it was very hot. But it was a nice ride.

51 miles.
cycling

6/29/2006

Lida at Lunchtime (Again)

Filed under: — stan @ 10:32 pm

Today’s ride was the Lida Loop. If you want to see the route map, have a look at the one from last time. You can see the locations of today’s photos here.

There were a few amusing sights this time. When we were going up the hill by the Rose Bowl, there was a fire crew working in the brush. Nearby there was an artist painting in the shade. And there was a film crew working at a house at the top of the hill.

When we crested the big hill on Lida, we saw a garbage truck with a big public-service ad written in Armenian. That was an odd sight, but sadly I was not quick enough to get a picture of it. Then when we rode down into La Cañada we stopped to admire the plastic cows gracing the lawn of one of the houses.

The last part of the ride was two miles downhill back to campus, which was nice, since it was pretty hot.

18 miles at lunch, 26 for the day.
cycling

6/28/2006

Some more books

Filed under: — stan @ 10:45 pm

I recently finished two new books:

Why We Buy by Paco Underhill
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Why We Buy is a very interesting and entertaining book about the science of retail marketing. Mr. Underhill and his team have spent countless hours observing shoppers in stores to see what factors go into getting people to buy stuff. After reading this, you’ll never look at a store the same way again. He also wrote The Call of the Mall, which I read last year and enjoyed tremendously.

Fun Home is Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir. It’s the story of her growing up in a small town in central Pennsylvania and her weird family. She does a comic strip called “Dykes to Watch Out For“, and the book is all her drawings, but illustrating her childhood. It’s the sort of story that will have you alternately laughing and weeping.

Both of these books were very good, and I recommend them highly.

6/27/2006

Another stupid quiz

Filed under: — stan @ 12:57 pm

Found this one from Karl Elvis:


What Classic Movie Are You?
personality tests by similarminds.com

Yup. That’s about right. I guess it could have been worse. At least it’s not “Taxi Driver“.

6/25/2006

XXX marks the spot

Filed under: — stan @ 10:37 pm

Today we got a rare day out, so we went down to the Erotica LA porn show at the L.A. Convention Center. Despite the fancy name, this is basically a porn show for the masses, which means hordes of men with digital cameras. But hey, that describes me, too.

We got there and paid our $30 to get in. It seems a bit much, but the average porn consumer is used to being exploited by the people and companies that produce it. And so are we.

Inside we, wandered around. At the Babeland booth, they were giving away VHS tapes. Apparently, everyone wants everything on DVD now, so they brought all the old VHS stuff to the show as a teaser to lure people into the booth. And it worked. We snagged a copy of “The Fashionistas“, as well as about six other tapes.

We saw the ‘Monkey Rocker’ and also the ‘Pussy Shaver’, complete with a live demo of sorts. It was at least as much of a demo as they could have at an event where actual nudity was not allowed.

At one booth, Cathy was checking out a kegel-exercise-aid when I saw the Stupidiotic booth next door. I decided that I had to have a pair of the ‘Black Bar Privacy Specs‘ so I too can be anonymous.

We attended a seminar about female orgasm given by two women from The Pleasure Chest, which was interesting. We learned a couple of new things, and it was fun.

For some unfathomable reason, the room was chilled like a meat locker, so we had to go outside to warm up. On the way out, we saw the stretch-Corvette limousine, which is just wrong on many levels. Once we got outside, we saw the obligatory religious protester holding up a big sign and verbally abusing people as they walked in. I talked to the security guards and they went and told him to stop yelling at people and insulting them.

When we went back inside, we ran into Trisha, who we have met before at Inkslingers. This time she was working at a booth for an alt-porn web site.

Making our way across the giant room, we were wondering if we’d see Insanity Pictures, where we had met Michelle the last time we were there. But just before the end of the booths, we saw them. We got to chat with Michelle, and we also bought a copy of her new movie. Michelle is quite bubbly and animated, so we enjoyed talking with her. We also got a couple of pictures with her before we left.

They had a pole-dancing show on the stage at the end of the hall, which was very impressive. We also saw a break-dancing show that was very entertaining, too.

Then we browsed around just a bit more and then packed up all our loot and headed home. It was a fun afternoon.

Tattoos on the Queen Mary

Filed under: — stan @ 7:26 pm

On Saturday I went to the Queen Mary for the big tattoo show. As last year, there we had to park on the Pike in Long Beach and ride a bus to the ship, which is about two miles away. There was a long line for the bus, and then when we got there there was a long line for tickets. It was kind of annoying. Lots of people in the lines were saying we’d taken a wrong turn and ended up at the waiting-in-line convention.

Once I got inside, all that was forgiven. Almost. But it was still a fun time. I saw a lot of my crowd of friends that I only see at these events. I even saw Debra from Hawaii there. She used to live in L.A. and she moved to Maui in 1997. Since she went there, every time I see her, she’s smiling, so I think it agrees with her. She’s at Skin Deep Tattoo, so if you’re ever there, she’s the one to go to.

They were doing a body-painting show in the boiler room, but for some reason, that didn’t do much for me.

On the other hand, I did see an photograph several impressive back pieces. And later on, my old friend Barbara showed up, and we got to hang around for a bit. And we got to spend some quality time with another very drunk girl. That was fun.

So overall, it was a fun time, although I’m not completely sure it was enough fun to offset the aggravation of getting there.

But anyway, there are pictures in my tattoo conventions photo album.

6/24/2006

Leisurely Saturday Morning Ride

Filed under: — stan @ 10:49 pm

Since I can’t go riding tomorrow, I went on the Saturday club ride today.

I met Gene down by the freeway and we rode down to Temple City to the park where the ride started.

The route was a odd thing. It went this way and that way, doubling back on itself. “Noodling around”. Most of it was flat, but there was one pretty steep hill thrown in for no apparent reason. After that hill, Gene and John and I were ahead of the rest of the group, so we took a ‘longcut’ and went up another steep hill. That was where we saw the deer. A doe and two fawns.

After the ‘longcut’ hill, John said that he knew of another one right nearby that was an even longer hill, so of course we had to go do it. On the way up, we got a good view of the smog. We were also wondering why there was an electric fence along the side of the road. Then we saw the sign for the goat grazing brush control. But there were no goats in sight. Maybe they were on a coffee break.

After all the hills, we stopped at T-Burger in Monrovia. We sat around and socialized for a bit before continuing on. We rode out to Duarte and then down the Santa Fe Dam bike path. We took that all the way to Lower Azusa Road. From there we took the standard route back up Peck Road and back across Arcadia.

I’d thought that the ride would work out to about 40-45 miles, but when I got home, I had 57. So it was a bit more than I’d planned. But it was still fun.

57 miles.
cycling

6/23/2006

Earthquake Geek Stuff

Filed under: — stan @ 11:11 pm

Working in the earthquake business is great fun. Yesterday I got to take a tour of Pasadena City Hall, which is being renovated for earthquake safety. This tour was arranged through the Earthquake Programs Office at Caltech.

We met in the park across the street from City Hall. After signing the release, we walked across and went into the construction site. They are removing the entire original foundation of the building the putting friction pendulum isolators underneath it. The isolators are intended to allow the ground to move something like 24 inches in any direction underneath the building while allowing the building to remain relatively motionless.

They had some of the isolators stacked up in front of the building, so we got a good look at them. Being earthquake geeks, we all had our cameras out to take pictures. After that, we went down into the basement.

In the basement we got a look at the main supporting columns of the building. They are cutting each one off and building a new reinforced concrete mat underneath them. The mat sits on top of the isolators. They also dug a moat around the building, so that when we have an earthquake, the building can rock on the isolators within the moat.

City Hall is a U-shaped building, so they had to dig a big trench so that they could build the moat in a square. That way the two wings of the building will be tied together so that the entire building will move as a unit in an earthquake.

It’s not all that often that I see practical use of the stuff I do at work, so it was an interesting thing to see.

6/22/2006

Bicycle racing as economic metaphor

Filed under: — stan @ 12:48 pm

I’m not sure what this is doing in CNN Money, but they have an article about bicycle racing, and in particular, an explanation of life in a racing peleton in economic terms. It’s very amusing and also very true-to-life:

money.cnn.com/2006/05/26/magazines/fortune/peloton_greatteams_fortune_0612/index.htm

And a tip of the cycling helmet to Laura Lemay for the pointer to this.

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