Stan’s Obligatory Blog



Filed under: — stan @ 9:00 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s lunchtime ride was a sightseeing trip over to Glendale. I saw a picture on Franklin Avenue of what has to be the best liquor-store-name ever: Hammered Liquor. So this was our destination for today.

We started out going up to Union St and taking that through Old Town, and then Colorado across the bridge and down into Eagle Rock. A right on Figueroa brought us up the hill, where we took the quiet way across Eagle Rock.

Coming back down onto the busy streets, we took Wilson over to Chevy Chase, and then right on Maple. And then, at the corner of Maple and Glendale, there it was:

Hammered Liquor

Hammered Liquor Store. I got out my camera and snapped a couple of pictures.

Continuing on, we made a little loop through Glendale and headed back towards Eagle Rock. We had to ride on Colorado for a few blocks to get across the 2 freeway, but then we took Yosemite across to Figueroa.

On the way back, we tried a new route variation. Instead of going up the long hill on Colorado, or up the steep hill on La Loma, we took a left on Brixton. The map showed that this came out at the top of the Colorado hill, but gave no indication of what the trip would be like. It turned out to be a nice quiet residential street. But the Law of Conservation of Hills required that we climb a bit. Instead of the long Colorado hill, we had two short, but very steep pitches. I don’t know how steep they were, but I almost had to shift out of my 39×17. But it was nice to come out at the top of the big hill.

When we crossed back over the bridge, I took a couple more pictures. Then the last part of the ride was back across Pasadena on Green St and then back to the office.

18 miles at lunch, 27 for the day.


Like a fish out of water

Filed under: — stan @ 12:27 pm

Ray had a link to a Flickr photo set taken in New Orleans after the flood. There was one picture in it that I particularly found interesting in a very surreal way:

It’s sort of reminiscent of the old Urban Legend about the SCUBA diver found dead in a tree.


A ride to Bonelli Park

Filed under: — stan @ 8:29 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was out to Bonelli Park in San Dimas. There was a big women’s triathlon going on there, and we thought we might get to see Vikki racing in it. It was a very hot and sunny day, so I brought along my big water bottle.

I wore my new Navigators team kit. I’m not generally one for wearing the jerseys of major professional teams, but I feel a slight connection to the Navigators. Their founder and team manager is an old friend. We were junior racers together back in 1977. He’s in this picture on the far left in the light blue jersey. And here’s a picture from when I saw him at the Tour of California. I told him I’d get one of his team jerseys just so I could tell the story on rides.

We started out going east through Arcadia. We took Sierra Madre out to Santa Anita and then went down to Longden and took that all the way out to where it put us on Arrow Highway. Then we turned right on Azusa Canyon. Well, some of us did. The others missed the turn and just kept going. I pulled out my phone and called Newton to tell him that they’d missed the turn, but I guess he didn’t hear it ringing. So I left voicemail and we just kept on going.

We took Cypress St east all the way to Reeder, which then turned into Puente St. We took that until we got to Via Verde, where we took a left and headed up a nice hill. Jon was the first to the top, and when I got to the top he was waiting for me. And he made me promise that I’d mention that he was the first to the top. And yes, Jon was the first to the top of the hill.

Continuing on Via Verde, we rode into Bonelli Park. This was the site of the Danskin Women’s Triathlon. They had started at 6:45 in the morning, so we figured that most of them would be done by the time we got there, but there were still a few people finishing. We looked around, but we couldn’t find Vikki and her team. I tried calling her, but I guess she wasn’t near her phone, so I left voicemail. (Are you seeing a pattern here?)

When we were getting ready to leave, I saw a woman holding a big blue mylar shark balloon. So I had to ask her about it. She said it was so her friends could find her. Maybe we should have tied one of those to Vikki. Anyway, I snapped a couple of pictures of the shark before we left.

On the way out of the park, we took a somewhat creative route that took us through the maintenance yard and then past Raging Waters and Puddingstone Lake before we came out in San Dimas. Then we stopped at the Bagelry, where we had a bagel.

After the snack stop, we got on Gladstone and headed west. This is the nice street with the very slight downhill slant, so we all feel like a million bucks when we’re riding on it. Except for Jon, who got a flat. We found a small bit of shade to stop in while he fixed his tire. And did I mention that Jon was the first one to the top of the hill?

After the flat, we continued on Gladstone. That was where we saw the “Day Laborer Site” spot and also passed behind the Miller brewery. Years ago I remember reading about how there was an idea to put an NFL team in a new stadium in Irwindale. I thought that this would be perfect synergy. The brewery is already there, so they could just run a pipe directly into the stadium.

After we passed the brewery, we turned and went into the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area. We stopped for water at the nature center. Then we rode up the bike path to the bridge into Duarte and got back on the streets for the last part of the ride home.

We took Royal Oaks for a bit before going up a small hill into Bradbury to get on Lemon Ave. Then we took that into Monrovia and got on Colorado. Then we took a right on Michillinda and rode up to the little street behind Sears and cut over to Rosemead and Orange Grove to get back to the park. At that point I had 49.3 miles, so I rode a few blocks extra on my way home to get to a nice round number.

50 miles.


Have I mentioned lately that I hate my alma mater?

Filed under: — stan @ 7:41 pm

I recently wrote a bit about what I consider a cautionary tale of parenting gone wrong. I find it quite amazing that it still bothers me as much as it does, now nearly 30 years after it began.

The Rice Campus Store says:

Graduating from Rice University is an achievement that can be celebrated every day of your life.

But what if you don’t feel like it’s something to celebrate?

I’ve tried to make peace with my Rice experience. I even volunteered to interview prospective students for the university. I thought that this might help me to focus on and remember the positive aspects of my experience there. And in a way it did. It’s a fine school. There’s nothing wrong with it. It just wasn’t where I wanted to be, and I was forced into going there by a threat of being disowned. So I can focus all I want on the fact that it’s a good school and that I got a good education, but at the end of the day, I didn’t want to be there. And to this day I still wish there were some way to undo it or at least to forget about it.

This is why after 24 years I’ve not made even a token donation to Rice. When I graduated I took my diploma and left, and I swore a solemn oath that I would never give them anything. Every fundraising letter goes straight into the trash. I was so unhappy there that there’s really nothing they could do that would make me want to contribute.

Like my diploma in the attic, my college class ring has suffered from neglect over the last 24 years. I got it just because my mother thought I would want to have it as a memento some day. Given that she was the one who forced me to go there, you know where this is headed. I wore it for about six months and then put it away. I just didn’t like looking at it.

I haven’t seen it for at least twelve years, but the other day I ran across an ad for a place that buys scrap gold. I thought that that might be just the ticket. I could get rid of an unwanted memento and get some cash in the deal. So I went and found the ring.

Seeing it again brought back lots of memories, mostly bad. I looked at it for a bit. It was like new, since it’s almost never been worn. I took my pocket knife and carved some scratches in it, but I stopped because I didn’t want to ruin the knife. Then I took it outside and took a hammer to it. Hey, since I’m selling it as ’scrap gold’ I should make it into scrap, right? I put it face-down on the concrete and smashed it flat, and then I turned it over and beat on its face. I completely smashed the three owls and the word “RICE” on the front. That was very cathartic, since I’d fantasized about doing that pretty much ever since the day I got it.

This was all extremely satisfying in a very sad way.

Then I packed it up in a box and sent it off for scrap. I think it’s kind of appropriate that the gold buyer is near Houston, so my ring can go home to die.

When I retire in 2025 maybe I’ll feed my diploma to the shredder. If there are still blogs then I’ll post pictures.

In the meantime, you can just see the before-and-after of my class ring, and the check I got for it. Maybe I’ll donate the money to the college I really wanted to go to.


Another ride at lunchtime

Filed under: — stan @ 6:55 pm

Route map and photo location

I went for a short ride with Vikki today at lunchtime. This time we went west, just for something different. It was a warm day, but gloriously clear and generally very nice for riding.

We rode down into San Marino, taking El Molino down to Mission. Then we went right and rode across San Marino and South Pasadena. At Arroyo, we went north towards the Rose Bowl. A left on La Loma brought us across the arroyo and up a nice little hill.

At the top of the hill we went right on San Rafael and took that up to Colorado. Then we got on San Rafael going north into the hills. We rode up the hill, passing by the old Kresge Seismological Lab before cresting the hill and coming down the other side to Linda Vista, above the Rose Bowl.

We took Linda Vista up into where it turned into Highland in La Cañada. Then we went up a bit before looping back by JPL and heading back into Pasadena. The last part of the ride was straight down Wilson Ave and back to the office.

19 miles at lunchtime, 27 for the day.


My greatest ride ever

Filed under: — stan @ 1:44 pm

This is an old story. I’ve told the story on countless bike rides over the years, but I’ve never written it down. So, 28 years after the fact, here it is, to the best of my recollection. And fortunately, this was not lost to the ages. My father was there with the camera, and got some pictures. So I actually have a record of this experience.

It was May 28th, 1978. I was 18 and just graduated out of Junior racing and into Category 2. There were three big races over Memorial Day Weekend, culminating in the Tour of Somerville. This particular story concerns the Sunday race, which was the Tour of Nutley in Nutley, New Jersey. I’ve always wished that my greatest bike racing memory could have been attached to a place with a less-goofy name, but such is life.

The race was 100km around a course in downtown Nutley. It was about 60 laps. There were probably 200 riders in the field, and it was nothing particularly out of the ordinary for me at the time. There were riders from all the big teams at the time, including most of the U.S. National Team and a few riders from Europe. We started out and I just rode in the pack.

Somewhere along the way a breakaway got started and they got quite far ahead of the pack. I didn’t think much about it, since I had no (well, not many) aspirations of greatness at the time. But at about 20 laps to go, I found myself at the front of the pack. We were going along at racing speed, which was probably about 25-28mph, but I was just sort of loafing. I saw a guy in a red jersey take off from the front. I was just watching him go, figuring that he wouldn’t get far by himself. But then I saw John Quinn, who was the guy who ran my racing club, standing on the side of the road. He saw me at the front and yelled, “Go after him!” So I did. I jumped up and got on his wheel. He pulled me around for two laps before he even let me take a turn pulling. I took a quick look back and I couldn’t see the pack. When I pulled through he said something to me like, “No! Bigger gear!” So I dropped into a big gear and took a pull.

We traded off pulling for a couple of laps before I looked back and saw two other guys coming up to join us. I thought this was a Good Thing, since I didn’t think I’d last in a two-man breakaway. With four, I thought we’d have a good chance of making it to the finish without being caught. When they joined us, we settled into a pace line and life was good.

I hadn’t thought much about who these guys were, but the announcer started telling the crowd about us when we passed the starting line. It turned out that the guy who started the breakaway was Tom Doughty, who was on the National Team. The two other guys who joined us were Kent Bostick and Rick Baldwin. This was where I started to get scared. I used to get pumped up for races by reading race reports from Velo News, and so I knew that Rick had finished 8th in the 1977 National Road Championship, and I remembered reading how the National Team coach was “drooling over the raw power of big-boned Kent Bostick”. Suddenly I was feeling like I was a bit out of my element. I was a just-graduated-from-juniors kid. Yikes.

After a few laps, we got within sight of the front breakaway. But we didn’t quite catch them. To my credit, I was not the first to fade. It was either Kent or Rick who first started to lose it. But we were all getting tired. All of us except for Tom, the National Team guy. He finally got tired of pulling us and just left to join the front group. By this time there were only about five laps to go. I was still holding out hope that we could make it to the finish, but it was not to be. I ended up riding by myself, trying desperately to stay away from the pack. But at one lap to go, just as I passed the finish line, the pack blew by me like a train. I could barely turn the pedals by that time. So I just wobbled over to the side of the road and fell over on the grass.

Some people from my club picked me up and carried me over to a wall and sort of propped me up there. They gave me something to drink. I was a bit delerious at that point, but I still knew that I’d done something that everyone considered to be amazing. So even though I felt half-dead, it was fun.

So this was my greatest single day of bike riding ever. It was great fun. It was my greatest triumph and greatest defeat all at the same time. And I wish I could have had more like it. I had other days of triumph, but this was the only time where I could truly say that I’d given it all.


Not for the faint of heart…

Filed under: — stan @ 9:34 pm

Route map and photo locations

Today’s ride was over to Hollywood to get a peek at a real estate listing I’d seen on L.A. Curbed. Realtors are notorious for always making every house sound like the best thing ever, so I was a bit shocked when this listing said that the house is “not for the faint of heart”. That seemed remarkable enough to warrant a look.

We started out heading west on Paloma and then got on Orange Grove to get to the Colorado Bridge. Then we took Colorado across the arroyo and down the hill into Eagle Rock.

Yosemite Drive brought us across to Eagle Rock Blvd, which we rode down to Glassell Park and Ave 36. A right turn put us on Fletcher to cross the L.A. River and into Silver Lake. Then we took Rowena and St. George to the Franklin Hills and Franklin Ave.

Crossing the Shakespeare Bridge, we came in to Hollywood, and we took Franklin all the way across to Highland, where we stopped to see the house that is ‘not for the faint of heart’. There was just a small walkway between two buildings with a few mailboxes. The house itself is behind the buildings and up the hill. 65 steps up the hill, to be exact. Since the mailbox is down by the street, the mailman won’t hate you, but I’d bet the pizza guy would. The house also has no parking, which is unheard-of here in Los Angeles. And all this can be yours for only $795,000.

Continuing down Highland, we got back on Franklin, passing by the Magic Castle, as well as the motel where Janis Joplin died. Then we turned right on Outpost. I’d ridden up this hill once before, when we first moved to Hollywood in 1988. I never rode up it again. And today I remembered why. It is a hill that is also not for the faint of heart. It starts out steep and just gets steeper at the top. And the road is rough. So it’s a tough climb.

At the top, we went right on Mulholland for the cruise down into Cahuenga Pass. Then we went over the freeway and rode through a little residential area to get to Barham Blvd, which brought us down into Burbank. We passed by Warner Bros and the somewhat shabby-looking Starlet Apartments. Then we stopped for a snack at Priscilla’s. I had a bagel and a large orange juice.

After the stop, we headed east through the equestrian neighborhood, where I got a flat. I picked up a staple in my tire, and it went flat almost instantly. I gave the camera to Tommy to take the necessary picture for the Flat Tire Gallery.

Continuing on, we took Sonora, Grandview, and Graynold up to Kenneth in Glendale. Then we went right and rode across Glendale to Verdugo Blvd. That was where Doug got a flat. His tire leaked more slowly, since it was caused by just a tiny sliver of glass. But it was flat none the less, so he got another entry in the gallery.

After the second flat fix, we headed up Verdugo to Hospital Hill, and then it was the standard route home acrosss La Cañada and Pasadena. When we got back to the park, I had 43 miles, so I took a quick ride out to Arcadia and back just to get to a nice round number.

50 miles.


A visit to the Petersen Museum

Filed under: — stan @ 5:25 pm

Read the sign

Today we went over to the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. This was an amusing little bit of history, since Los Angeles is a city that grew up and was largely formed by the automobile.

The first thing we saw there was Art Arfons’s “Green Monster” out in the parking garage. Years ago I saw a documentary about him on PBS, and it was very interesting. Art is something of the hard-luck story of the land-speed record circuit. He set the record three times, only to have each record broken just a short time later.

On the second floor of the museum they had three special exhibits. One was about Hot Wheels, including full-sized Hot Wheels cars that were built for the exhibit. To an eight-year-old boy in 1968, Hot Wheels were the stuff of dreams. And it’s tremedously funny that someone took the time and effort to actually build real cars out of them. The second exhibit was “Cars and Guitars” with lots of rock stars’ cars. That was amusing. They had a couple of Elvis’s old cars, including one that he shot in frustration when it broke down.

The third exhibit was about the future and alternate power sources. That was mostly amusing because they talked about hybrid cars and had a 1917 Woods hybrid. Apparently it was an idea ahead of its time. They said that at the time it was the worst of both electric and gasoline, and it didn’t catch on. They also had a mockup of a proposed nuclear-powered car, but I think I’m glad that that never got serious consideration.

The last part of the museum we visited was the children’s area on the third floor. Cathy and Lucinda took turns climbing into the Indy car there, and they also posed in the Model T.

And of course no visit to a museum with a kid is complete without the gift shop. Lucinda got some little trinkets and Cathy got a “Built for Speed” pinup girl shirt.


A lunchtime bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 8:21 pm

Today I made arrangements to go for a bike ride at lunchtime with Vikki. So I rode my road bike in to work this morning, and at lunch we headed out.

On the way in I saw that they were setting up for some filming near campus, so on the way out we passed by there. There didn’t seem to be much going on at the time, but they had a lot of equipment ready to go.

We rode east out to Arcadia. Then we turned left on 1st Ave and took that up the hill into Highland Oaks. Then we went left on Virginia to get to Santa Anita, and then went up the hill some more to get to Grand View.

We rode across Sierra Madre on Grand View, and then went up the hill a bit more to go through Upper Hastings Ranch, which meant we went up the steep hill and passed by Lucinda’s school. Then we came screaming down the hill back to Sierra Madre Blvd.

From there it was a nice level ride back to campus.

When I was on my way home, they were finally filming something. They had a car on a flatbed truck with lights all around it and they were driving it down the street filming it from a camera on the edge of the truck bed. So at last they were doing something.

It was an achingly nice day, so it was perfect for riding.

16 miles at lunch, 24 for the day.


A new meme?

Filed under: — stan @ 12:18 pm

hollywood sign

Mike over at Franklin Avenue noted that it’s been 10 years since he moved to Los Angeles. And at the end of his post, he writes:

My first day in Los Angeles, after finally finding my hotel, I popped on the TV and watched the news. The lead story? The suicide death of former “Family Feud” host Ray Combs.

If life were a cliche, I would have taken some big lesson out of my first moments in Los Angeles: I’m moving to a town that turns even mild-mannered game show hosts to suicide.

But life isn’t always a cliche, although my first impressions were just as valuable: I’m moving to a town that leads its local newscasts with news of a mostly unknown ex-game show host offing himself.

Reading this, I immediately thought that this might make an interesting blog meme. What was in the news when you moved to Los Angeles? Seems like everyone here is from somewhere else, so it could make for some interesting stories. Post it here or in your blog and leave a pointer to it here. I’d like to see it.

In my case, it was July, 1982. I was just out of college and the first week I was here the big news was the “Twilight Zone” helicopter crash. I’d never really thought before about where movies came from, and that there were actual people whose job was to make movies, and that sometimes things can go wrong. I found that collision of reality and illusion kind of jarring and also strangely fascinating.

So, for everyone who moved to L.A., what was in the news when you got here?

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