Stan’s Obligatory Blog


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.


Getting on the bandwagon

Filed under: — stan @ 10:35 pm

I see that both Karl Elvis and Laura Lemay are doing the Technorati tags thing on their blogs. Sensing a bandwagon, I thought I should find out more about this. Turns out that I’m already in it, and never knew it. My blog categories are all automagically turned into tags when I post. As an example, look at stuff tagged as ‘life in l.a.‘ and there we are.

Of course, putting tag links on posts is a bit of a problem. I tried editing some posts and inserting the links by hand, but that’s kind of a pain. Ideally, there should be some Wordpress plugin that just makes a footer on each post with links to the tags based on the categories of the post. But if such a beast exists, I haven’t found it yet. And I don’t feel like hacking Wordpress right now to add it myself. So this will likely remain a problem for a while.

And there you have it.


Up on the roof…

Filed under: — stan @ 7:30 pm

Lucinda asked to go up on the roof today. Doesn’t everyone let their five-year-olds go up on the roof? So we went up together. And since we were going up, I brought my tools along. The city had moved our electric service to a new pole, and the service wire was hanging a little low, so I figured I could just move the clamp up on the pipe thingy to get the wire off the gutter.

So there you have it. An idyllic day having quality time with our child up on the roof of our house…

Technorati tags: home repair | kids

Sunday bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 1:59 pm

It was another perfect day here in Southern California, and perfect for riding. Today’s ride was a relatively flat one. We headed east a bit and then south through Temple City. That was where Jason got the obligatory flat tire. It’s just not a complete bike ride unless someone gets a flat.

After the flat, we soldiered on. We had to take a little detour because part of the usual route is under water due to the recent rains. So we went a different way, passing “Nice Guy Tattoo”. Then we got on the Rio Hondo bike path and headed south.

When we got to Whittier Narrows, we got off the bike path and started back north through Rosemead. This is where we passed the Green Acres Lodge, which is the convalescent hospital where Curly Howard died.

Continuing north, we passed through San Gabriel and San Marino, and finally back into Pasadena. Our snack stop was at Il Fornaio in Old Town.

After a brief rest, we took the Prospect Ave route around the Rose Bowl, and then Arroyo up into Altadena. We got on to Altadena Drive for the long downhill back to the park. That was where we passed the ‘Walsh house‘ from “Beverly Hills 90210″. Then we came down the hill and we were done.

It was a fun time. 40 miles.

Technorati tags: cycling


I’m a nerd

Filed under: — stan @ 9:10 pm

And it’s not just on my license plate.

I am nerdier than 98% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Bike maintenance

Filed under: — stan @ 8:21 pm

After the ride today, I noticed a small aneurism on my front tire. So I headed out to the bike shop and got a replacement. I also got four new brake pads. They are Clark’s CP200 for the front and CP202 for the back. Steve at Open Road recommended having softer ones on the back. So now I’m ready for tomorrow’s ride.

Sunset Plaza

Filed under: — stan @ 5:52 pm

Today I did ride in the Hollywood Hills with Gene. It was Sunset Plaza, which is a place I used to ride a lot back in the late ’80s, when Cathy and I lived in Hollywood. So today I brought Gene over to see how much fun the hills can be.

We started out with the usual ride across Eagle Rock. Gene declined to go up the terrifyingly steep hill, but we still went past it just to look. Then we headed across the L.A. River into Los Feliz. We crossed the Shakespeare Bridge, and then headed south into Hollywood. We took Fountain Ave across Hollywood, which was the epitome of the gritty urban cycling experience. We even passed L. Ron Hubbard Way, which the L.A. City Council renamed for the late charlatan some years ago.

We then went into West Hollywood, and then up onto the Sunset Strip. We saw the restaurant from the final scene of “Annie Hall”. Riding a bike down the Sunset Strip always seems a bit odd to me, and it’s really not a lot of fun. There is a lot of traffic, and the road is kind of rough. But all was forgiven when we turned on Sunset Plaza and headed up the hill.

The funny thing about bike riding in Hollywood is that it gets really quiet and pleasant as soon as you go up a hill. Once we turned off Sunset, it was very nice. Just a quiet winding street with lots of very large houses perched on the hillside. There was one house in particular that was really impressive. It was huge, and it just dominated the hill. Anyway, it was a nice ride up the hill there, and from the crest, we got a nice view of Century City and the winter smog.

From the top of the hill on Sunset Plaza, we headed down into Laurel Canyon, passing near Wonderland Ave, which was the scene of the Wonderland Murders. Then we crossed over Laurel Canyon, passing by Houdini’s old house and headed up Willow Glen Rd, which climbs up the side of Laurel Canyon to Mt. Olympus and then down into Nichols Canyon.

When we got down into Nichols Canyon, we took a left and went up Nichols Canyon Rd, which brought us up another big hill, ultimately coming out on Mulholland Drive. From there, we headed east, taking the long downhill into Cahuenga Pass, and then down into Burbank. We had a short stop at Priscilla’s for a drink, and then we headed home.

The essential question was whether to take the northern route home up Hospital Hill, or the southern route through Eagle Rock. Gene suggested the middle route up Mountain Ave in Glendale. We’ve passed this hill many times on the regular Sunday rides and never gone up it, so I figured it was worth a try. Yow. It turned out to be a much harder climb than I’d anticipated. I finally had to say ‘uncle’ and shift to a lower gear to make the last bit to the top. But the view was nice. The road was closed, since it had some damage from the rains, so it was nice and quiet.

Finally, we headed down the big hill back into Pasadena. It was a fun ride.

54 miles.

Technorati tags: cycling


Toluca Lake

Filed under: — stan @ 4:24 pm

Todays ride was “Toluca Lake”. We started out going straight west, over the historic Colorado Street Bridge into Eagle Rock and then on into Glendale. Then we went south a bit through the L.A. Equestrian Center and into Burbank. Our snack stop was at Priscilla’s in Burbank. After that, we continued west just a bit into Toluca Lake just to pass by Bob Hope’s old house. Then we came back by Forest Lawn and onto the L.A. River bike path. Apparently, something had happened along the part where the bike path runs along the freeway, as there was a fire truck, an ambulance, and a couple of Highway Patrol cars there. And also, one of the light poles was knocked over. Finally, we headed home through Eagle Rock. When we crossed into South Pasadena, we got a nice view of Mt. Baldy, complete with snow. Overall, it was a very pleasant ride.

43 miles.

Technorati tags: cycling


My page rank is climbing again…

Filed under: — stan @ 10:37 am

A while back, I had the number one match in Google for the phrase “I hate Texas”. That was before I moved our web site to the new domain name. After the move, Google crawled us again, but that page had fallen to #73. But now that we’ve been on our new domain name for over four months, it’s climbing again. Today I see that my page is now up to number 34 in a search for “I hate Texas“. Things are looking up.


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.

Powered by WordPress