Stan’s Obligatory Blog


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.


Google works in mysterious ways, aka this is funny

Filed under: — stan @ 12:54 pm

Every so often I poke around in the logs for my web site and see what people are looking at and where they came from. Today I noticed something funny. My statistics for this month said that the number three search string was ‘Ramones’, and looking at the logs showed that I was coming up in an image search. I went to see the Ramones live once, back in 1980, but I certainly don’t have any pictures of that. I’ve also been to see the Ramones dead a couple of times. My picture comes up on the second page of the search results. It’s from the day I rode over to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery with the bike club and we visited Dee Dee Ramone’s grave and also the memorial to Johnny Ramone.

But the picture that comes up in the image search is of a squished crayfish. Why that picture? There are ten pictures with that blog entry. None of them have any alt text. How did the Infinite Wisdom of Google select that picture over the others?

Try the search

I’ve read that Google is God. Maybe there are some things Man was not meant to know.


Atomic Tourist, aka Fun with Google Maps

Filed under: — stan @ 5:01 pm

Google maps is great. Check this out:,-116.046867&spn=0.006287,0.007832&t=k&hl=en

It’s the crater from the 1962 ‘Sedan’ test at the Nevada Test Site. It was an experiment in ‘nuclear excavation’, aka digging big holes with atom bombs. This was all part of Project Plowshare, when they actually were considering using ‘nuclear excavation’ to cut a pass through the Bristol Mountains east of Barstow for soon-to-be-built Interstate 40. Fortunately, this was ultimately deemed a Bad Idea and was also precluded by the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963.

Scrolling south a bit, and zooming out, here is something else:,-115.936747&spn=0.053129,0.062656&t=k&hl=en

This is Frenchman Lake, which was the site of the 1957 Priscilla test. This was the test where they built bridges and buildings out on the dry lake bed to observe the effects of the blast on the structures. Sadly, Google doesn’t have the higher resolution satellite picture for this region, so we can’t see them in the lake bed.

If you zoom out a bit, you see this:,-116.059055&spn=0.100594,0.125313&t=k&hl=en

Every one of those divots in the earth is a subsidence crater left from an underground nuclear test. The Sedan crater is at the top of the image. If you grab the map with your mouse and scoot it around, you can find other valleys there that are also filled with nuclear divots.

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.


More construction

Filed under: — stan @ 7:32 pm

This evening after dinner I put up railings on three sides of the upper level of Lucinda’s new play structure. I also ordered the monkey bars.


Geek break

Filed under: — stan @ 7:57 pm

Note to self: I set up natd on Moe today so that Lucinda’s Mac can connect out to the Internet. To do this, I had to recompile the kernel, with these new options added:

options IPDIVERT

Then I had to add the following to /etc/rc.conf:


And voilà. It works. Now Itunes can see the Apple music store and Cathy can load up her ipod with all manner of stuff.

Have I mentioned recently that FreeBSD rocks?

There’s probably a closer bagel place…

Filed under: — stan @ 12:58 pm

Today’s ride was out to San Dimas to have a bagel at the Bagelry there.

It was a perfect day. The sun was shining at 8:00 in the morning when we set out. The ride out there is pretty straightforward. It’s just straight east. Across Arcadia and Temple City. Then through the Irwindale gravel pits. Straight across the auto-shop ghettos in Azusa and the endless shopping centers in Covina.

The only real excitement of the ride out there was when we discovered an error in Gene’s route slip. Several of us took a wrong turn and ended up going a few extra miles. Darn.

When we got to the Bagelry, we sat down and had bagels. The bagels there are pretty good, and they taste especially good after riding twenty-something miles to get there.

After the bagel break, I was talking with the couple on the tandem (I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your names. If you read this, mail me and refresh my memory.) and I saw how they do their navigation. She clips the route slip to his back pocket and reads it while they are riding. It reminded me of reading about the Long March where the soldiers would pin little inspirational notes from Mao on the cap of the soldier in front of them so they could march and be indoctrinated at the same time. (Not that I’m comparing Gene’s route slips with Communist propaganda or anything. I just thought it was a funny mental image.)

When we got back on the road, for some inexplicable reason everyone started riding really fast. These rides usually move along at a pretty good pace, but this was beyond our usual speed. In fact, we were going so fast that I almost had to break down and shift to a higher gear. My bike has 18 gears, and I use all one of them. I go on 50 and 60 mile rides up and down mountains, and I never shift. It’s kind of silly, but it’s a holdover from my racing days. In the East Coast racing culture, the theory of training was to ride everywhere in one gear, usually a 42×18 or equivalent. The idea was that riding that gear up hills will make you strong, and riding it fast on flat land or downhill will teach you to spin the pedals smoothly. So it’s been 25 years since I last raced, but I grew so used to just riding everywhere in one gear that I still do it to this day.

The rest of the ride back was pretty uneventful. We came back across Azusa, Duarte and Monrovia. Then we went up Highland Oaks in Arcadia to Grand View. We took Grand View across Sierra Madre. This was our hill for the day. As usual, Matt was first to the top.

When we got back to the park, it was only 11:00, so Vikki, Matt, and I decided to do a little après-ride up across Altadena. We went up Altadena Drive, and then took some little residential streets across the upper part of Altadena. We passed the big landslide on the Mt Wilson Toll Road, and also passed the Mt Lowe Railway historical marker at the bottom of Rubio Canyon. Then we came out at the top of Lake Avenue. We took Loma Alta down the hill to Lincoln Ave, and then went past JPL on Windsor Road. From there, Vikki headed off for home, and Matt and I came back on Woodbury Road. It was a very pleasant ride.

54 miles.


Construction update

Filed under: — stan @ 4:02 pm

Today I put down the plywood flooring on the upper and lower platforms on the tower. I also built the two large “X” braces on the sides. Now the tower is very stable. I can stand on it and it doesn’t wobble at all. Ray mentioned that he thought that doing the concrete footings is hardcore. I wouldn’t think of doing something like this without them. Lucinda’s swing set is also anchored in concrete. When I was a kid, my Dad did concrete for my swing set, and it was like a rock. I remember going over to some other kid’s house to play and having his swing set topple over when we were playing on it. Of course I knew that would never happen with my swings. And so of course I decided that it should never happen to my kid’s swings, either. So I make concrete.

Next order of business is going to be the ladder to climb up to the top, and railings around the top platform. Then I will add the monkey bars.


Building project

Filed under: — stan @ 7:27 pm

Lucinda has been asking for a play house in the back yard. I told her that that would be too big of a project, but that I would build her a play structure with monkey bars. So I’ve been building. So far, I’ve got the basic tower erected. It’s anchored in the ground with concrete footings under the posts, so it’s pretty stable. I still need to do some more bracing on it for lateral stiffness. Then I will put in another set of concrete footings for the other end of the monkey bars. Then she will be able to play on it.

In some ways, this is kind of an insane project. But at the same time, I have fond memories of my father building insane things for me when I was little, and I want Lucinda to be able to think back on the same sorts of things when she grows up. So it’s off to Home Depot for me.


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.

Powered by WordPress