Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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Another tattoo show…

Filed under: — stan @ 6:02 pm

It’s time for the July edition of the Body Art Expo. This is the big tattoo show at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds. They promote it pretty heavily, and it usually gets a good turnout.

I usually go to these things on a Saturday, since that’s the big party day at them. But this time, I couldn’t go then, so I went on Friday night. This is usually a little slower and a little less crowded. But that’s all right.

I saw several people I’ve met before at these things. So we got to compare and see who got what new tattoos since the last time. That’s always fun.

Shannon had a booth there this time, so I was able to visit her, and also got to see Amy eating a big tub of popcorn. If you knew Amy, you’d know that that’s totally out of character for her. But she was desperate for food.

Overall, it was a pretty fun time, even though it was a Friday night.


The Secret Life of Cows

Filed under: — stan @ 6:43 pm

Today we went out to Santa Monica to Track 16 Gallery at Bergamot Station to see “The Secret Life of Cows“. This was a photo exhibit of digitally composed photos showing real cows in weird, funny, and impossible situations. It was tremendously amusing.

Sadly, they’d sold out of the book, so we didn’t get a copy. But we are going to order one from the gallery next week when they get more.

We also browsed around some of the other galleries. We saw some nice art, but nothing that quite matched the cows.

So if you’re in L.A., head over to Santa Monica and see this. If not, get the book. It’s great. The show runs through August 4th.


Wired to Win

Filed under: — stan @ 7:44 pm

We went to the IMAX theater in Exposition Park today to see “Wired to Win“. This is about the 2004 Tour de France and how the brain adapts to competition. It was pretty interesting, and the racing footage was pretty well done. In particular, the shots of what it looked like in the pack were very realistic, and they captured pretty well what it’s like to be in a 200-rider peleton.

We also went to see the “Goosebumps: The Science of Fear” exhibit in the museum. That was pretty interesting. I’d never even realized that there was such a thing as “Fear of chickens”. Apparently, fear of creepy, crawly animals is a big thing, so they had an animal exhibit where people could pet a small snake, a giant millipede, and a giant hissing cockroach. Lucinda liked the snake a lot.

Also, they included a section on collective fears of society. It was pretty funny to see the collection of things we’ve been afraid of. Sharks, microwaves, and rock-n-roll. It was all there. But my favorite was the bit about bicycles.

Afterward, we headed home, but not until Lucinda could play on the ropes at the ‘Big Lever’ exhibit outside.

And just for the record, I know what it’s like to ride in a big peleton. Here’s a picture of a Category 1/2 race at Super Week in Milwaukee from 1978. Like Waldo, I’m in it:


Strawberry Peak

Filed under: — stan @ 7:44 pm

Today we went up to the San Gabriel Mountains to do another hike. Since Lucinda did so well on Echo Mountain, we decided to try Strawberry Peak.

We headed up to La Cañada to the Angeles Crest Highway. We got our day pass for the forest there and then drove up the mountain. Near the top, we saw a plume of smoke ahead. We’re having an early fire season here this year, due to the dry winter, and our first thought was that it was a brush fire. But when we got there, we were greeted by a scene straight out of “The Road Warrior” The Angeles Crest is a favorite road for people to ride ‘crotch rocket‘ motorcycles. It looked like two of them had met head-on in the turn there. Both bikes were lying in the middle of the road, one of them on fire. Both riders were lying a short distance away. One was moving slightly, so he was still alive. The second was still. People were there directing traffic, and they said help was on the way. And people have asked me why I don’t ride a motorcycle. Heh.

The hike up was pleasant enough, aside from Lucinda wanting to stop and drink water every 100 feet. It was a hot day, and the creek in Colby Canyon was completely dry. We hiked up to Josephine Saddle, where we sat in the shade of the water tank for a bit before heading up the peak.

The final climb up the peak is the highlight of this hike, since it includes some interesting rock climbing. Lucinda liked it, but she also was a little scared by some of it. She’s been on climbing walls before, but this was a real mountain with no ropes or safety harness.

We climbed to the top of the rocky portion just below the peak. At that point, Lucinda wanted to go home, so we turned around and headed down. It’s more important to us that she come away from the experience with a good memory than it is to actually reach the top of the mountain.

On the way down, Lucinda drank the last of the water, and we vowed to bring more along the next time. She also had to be carried for a bit. I hurt my back the last time I carried her, so Cathy had to do it this time. Still, we had a nice time.


Believe it, or not!

Filed under: — stan @ 8:33 pm

Today we took Lucinda to the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum in Hollywood. She’s been wanting to go there for several years now, ever since she saw the building with the T-Rex head sticking out of the roof on Hollywood Boulevard.

The museum itself is perfectly located. It’s in the middle of the tourist-trap section of Hollywood Blvd, right down the street from the Chinese Theater, and diagonally across from Hollywood and Highland. Inside, it’s a weird collection of stuff. Some of it old, some of it morbid, some of just plain weird. Pictured here is the vampire killing kit, the two-headed baby skeleton, and the most unbelievable of all, an original press kit from “Mr. Ed“.

Like I said, it’s a weird collection of stuff. But it made for a fun afternoon. Now, if only the Museum of Death would re-open…


Echo Mountain

Filed under: — stan @ 7:04 pm

Today Lucinda and I did the hike up Echo Mountain. This is close to our house, and it was a nice day for it. The actual hike is about 2.5 miles each way, and the climb is about 1,400 feet.

We started at the trailhead at the top of Lake Avenue, and we headed up the trail. Lucinda did very well. She maintained a good, steady pace most of the way. She didn’t even complain, aside from wanting to take a few breaks when we came to spots of shade. After we passed the 2-mile marker and I told her we were almost at the top she started running. This was the first time that she has done an entire hike like this unaided. Last summer when we climbed Mt. Lassen, she did about half the hike riding the mule.

Along the way, we saw some interesting nature sights. There were lots of lizards along the trail, and a hawk soaring overhead. And there were some nice cactus flowers near the start of the trail.

At the top, Lucinda had fun poking around the ruins of the former White City. She was going to try out the Echo Phone, but she got self-conscious about yelling into it. We sat down and had some snacks amid the ruins. And she particularly enjoyed looking through the rubble of the old powerhouse.

Finally, we headed back down, covered with dust. Overall, it was a fun day.


Wind caves in the OC

Filed under: — stan @ 9:43 pm

Today we went down to the OC so Lucinda could visit with Grandma and Grandpa. While she was doing that, Cathy and I went out. We went to Aliso and Woods Canyon Wilderness Park and did an easy hike there. I’d found it on the net yesterday, and the wind caves sounded interesting.

The actual trail was very easy walking. There were lots of people riding bikes there, also. It’s probably a better trail for bikes than for walking, just because a bike can cover the distance much faster. Signs warned of mountain lions, but we didn’t see any evidence of them, aside from some large scats along the trail.

We saw a flowering cactus along the trail, as well as lots of colorful birds. There was a very large birdhouse a short distance away from the trail. The sign said it was a raptor perch for hawks. We saw some hawks flying around, but we didn’t see them landing on the perch.

Cave Rock was a large outcrop of sandstone with some small caves in it. They were large enough to crawl inside, but not high enough to sit up in. The sandstone is quite soft, and people just can’t seem to resist carving their names in it. We saw one name dated 1927 on the side.

The highlight was Dripping Cave, which is reputed to have been a hideout for stagecoach robbers in the old days. The ceiling still had black soot on it from campfires.

On the way back, we came across a rattlesnake snoozing on the trail. It was about 3 1/2 feet (1m) long. It woke up and looked at us, and then slowly slithered away into the brush.

Overall, it was a pretty nice little hike.


Dinosaurs and other geek diversions

Filed under: — stan @ 9:10 pm

Lucinda’s class has been doing a unit on dinosaurs lately, so we decided to take her to see the new “Dinosaurs Alive!” IMAX movie at the California Science Center. They are also having an exhibit of “Star Wars” props and costumes there, so we figured it could be a very fun day in a geeky way.

We went down there and got our tickets for the movie. Then we headed in to the museum. There was a long line for the “Star Wars” exhibit, so we went away for a little while. When we came back, there was no line, so we went right in. They had a lot of the original models and costumes from the first movie, which was fun to see. I particularly enjoyed looking at the Millennium Falcon model. There was a lot of detail on it that wasn’t apparent when it was moving in the movie.

After “Star Wars”, we went over to the aerospace gallery. We saw a model of the 1976 Viking Mars lander, and I thought of the story about it that is told around the Seismo Lab. Apparently, one of the guys who retired recently built the seismometer that went to Mars on the Viking lander. But before it went out, the Caltech property people slapped an inventory tag on it. The next year, they came back to do an inventory and they asked about it. He told them it was on Mars. For some reason, they didn’t believe him. But they didn’t take him up on his offer to go there and see it.

We headed over to the IMAX theater to see the dinosaurs. The movie was pretty well-done. The CG-animated dinosaurs were pretty realistic, and there were lots of gratuitous 3-D effects.

Overall, it was a fun time, and I got some more pictures for Lucinda’s photo album, too.


Guide Dogs

Filed under: — stan @ 9:09 pm

Last year, Cathy found a little article in the Auto Club magazine about a school near San Francisco that trains guide dogs for the blind. It said that they had an open house that we could visit. She loves dogs, and she wanted to take a trip up there to go to it. I thought that surely in a city the size of Los Angeles, there must be something comparable. So I went looking, and found Guide Dogs of America. It’s in Sylmar in the northeast corner of the San Fernando Valley.

They have a graduation and open house every three months there, so we made plans to go to one. And today was the day.

The graduation involved the class of dogs that are being given to their new masters, as well as the people who fostered the dogs as puppies. The puppy raisers do the basic training and socialization of the dogs, and then some specialized trainers teach the dog how to be a guide dog before they are matched up with blind people in need of dogs. It’s a pretty amazing process, and it was very obvious that the blind people were very happy to have the dogs to help them. Apparently, the entire service is free to the blind, and it’s largely supported by donations and volunteers.

We got to meet a lot of dogs in training. The foster families are encouraged to bring them to events like these so that they can get used to the environment. We also got some information about possibly having them do a presentation at Lucinda’s school, and also how to sign up to foster a puppy. We may or may not do that soon, but we probably will some day.


Tammy Faye Starlite’s Born Again Again!

Filed under: — stan @ 12:00 am

Tonight we went to the Renberg Theater at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center to see Tammy Faye Starlite’s Born Again Again! I’d seen a short review of her show recently, and it sounded like a hoot. She was described as being as “If John Waters and Pia Zadora had a love child”. It was also the first time we’d been to the Renberg to see someone other than Varla Jean Merman.

The show was a send-up of both country music radio and Christianity, and it was tremendously funny. The format of the show was the “KKOK Hoedown”, where Tammy was making a personal appearance on the radio show, being interviewed by the DJ, and singing songs for the listeners. She talked about her joy in being “born-again again”, and sang a rousing song:

“If you’re comin’ down sweet Jesus
won’t you come all over me!”

She also reminded us that “1 cross plus 3 nails equals 4-given”.

She told a story and sang a song about one of her many marriages. And we all sang along with her:

“Did I shave my vagina for this?”

But then she told us about her most recent marriage, and how she was “with child” again. She came out into the audience and had people put their hands on her stomach while singing “God Has Lodged a Tenant in My Uterus”.

This was all tremendously funny and entertaining.

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