Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Another new adventure

Filed under: — stan @ 9:14 pm
Photo by Tom Henneman

I signed up today for the stair climb up the Willis Tower in Chicago. This is the building that used to be the Sears Tower, and it’s the tallest building in the United States. It’s almost 1 1/2 times the height of the U.S. Bank tower here in L.A.

Based on my time at Aon in April, I think I should be able to climb the Willis in just a bit under 20 minutes, which seems respectable compared to last year’s results.

This should be fun. And as always, it’s a fund-raiser for charity, so if you can, please make a small donation in my name to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.


Seals on a Sunday Morning

Filed under: — stan @ 6:14 pm

On Sunday morning, I took Lucinda down to La Jolla Cove to see the seals. We go to see them every time we are in San Diego. This time most of them had gone in the water to forage by the time we got there, but there were several swimming hear the beach, and also a few still sleeping on the rocks.

We watched them from the breakwater for a while, and I got some good pictures. As always, my camera rocks. When we left the beach, we went back to Sunny Jim cave and took the walk down the stairs to see the waves in the cave. When we were in there, we could hear some sea lions nearby. They sounded like they were in the cave, but we couldn’t see them.

Finally, we went and picked up Grandpa and we all went to lunch at Costa Brava in Pacific Beach. This is a Spanish restaurant, and it was quite good.


The Sea World Circus

Filed under: — stan @ 11:36 pm

Lucinda and I went to San Diego this weekend to visit with Grandpa and also to visit Sea World and also go see the seals at La Jolla Cove. We went down on Saturday and went to Sea World first.

We rode the sky ride, and while we were on that, we noticed the big stadium they have facing out on to Mission Bay. We hadn’t noticed that before, so we decided to go see the show there. It was a show that was entirely circus acts, with no animals at all. Aside from the obvious caveat that humans are indeed animals. It was still pretty entertaining, even though there were no leaping dolphins.

A bit later in the day we went to see the “Blue Horizons” show, which also had a lot of circus acrobatics, but this time with the addition of dolphins and a pilot whale. I took a bunch of pictures in search of some dramatic action shots, and I think I got some good ones.

When we left, we went to visit with Grandpa for a bit before bed. Overall, it was a fun afternoon.


Topiary Tour – Go West

Filed under: — stan @ 9:08 pm

About a year ago, I had the idea of putting together a theme ride to see examples of topiary, since I’d seen a number of them here in Pasadena and as far east as Glendora. We did this tour back in March. Then we discovered a new piece in Glendale, and I started to think about making a second Topiary Tour. And after some pointers from friends, one tip from Google, and an accidental discovery, I had enough examples to put together a second Tour. So today was the day.

We headed out across Eagle Rock and Glendale and into Burbank. Then we turned west and headed to the south entrance to Burbank Airport, where there is a topiary airplane. It was a pretty good example of topiary.

Leaving the airport, we headed south to our next stop. But along the way, I spotted a sort of cartoon lizard in a car peeking over a fence. So we stopped for a look and found a boneyard of carnival rides. That was very deeply weird, and really pretty entertaining.

Continuing south, we got to our second stop. A Shell gas station in Burbank with a topiary sea serpent and two winged horses. They looked a bit like My Little Pony with wings. The serpent was a bit sparse, but the others were pretty good.

Our next stop was a topiary Bugs Bunny in Toluca Lake. Then we stopped for snack at Priscilla’s. That left only one more topiary stop, which was the dolphins that we’d found in March. I had to get a souvenir picture riding the dolphin.

After that, we headed home, but on the way back through La Cañada, Don spotted one more in front of a house on Berkshire Drive. That made for a nice end to our Topiary Tour.

46 miles.


A fun Tuesday night adventure

Filed under: — stan @ 11:34 pm

On Monday, I was just poking around the net looking to see if there were any good movies that Kathleen and I could go see on Tuesday night. And I spotted John Waters in a banner ad on the L.A. Weekly site. We’re both big fans of his, so I had a look. It turned out he was speaking and doing a book signing at a theater in Little Tokyo. So we just had to go.

On my way home from work, I stopped at Vroman’s in Pasadena and picked up his new book, Role Models.

I rode the train downtown, since the theater is just two blocks from the Little Tokyo station. On the way I got to read the first chapter of the book, where he talks about how he likes Johnny Mathis. As I suspected, it was hilarious.

When I got there, I met up with Kathleen, who drove in from the Valley. We went and had a quick dinner around the corner. Then we went over to the theater. We saw my friend Sherri and her friend there, and the four of us went in. John Waters came out and read three short excerpts from his book, and then he sat down to talk with Carrie Fisher. They were very entertaining and funny, and it was all well-worth the trip.

Afterward, he greeted fans and signed books in the lobby. Overall, it was a most excellent weeknight adventure.


Lawn decoration gone mad

Filed under: — stan @ 3:10 pm

Last December, when we rode to see the Never Open Store, we stopped to see the House of Davids. I recently read about another house near there that had some similar over-the-top lawn ornamentation. So a theme was born.

Today’s ride was to Hollywood and Hancock Park in Los Angeles to see these two houses, as well as Snow White’s wishing well on Larchmont Blvd.

The route out was pretty straightforward. We saw the L.A. River Ride crossing over Fletcher Dr when we crossed the river. Then we rode into Silver Lake. The first house was on the east end of Hollywood on Virgil Ave. And yes, the decorations were pretty over-the-top. Then we continued on south to go to Hancock Park and the House of Davids. Then it was just a short distance back to Larchmont. It appears that Adrianna Caselotti’s house has changed hands, and the new owners took down the picture of Snow White on the wishing well.

We stopped for bagels at Noah’s in Larchmont. Then we headed north through Hollywood and then back home by way of Eagle Rock.

It was a nice ride.

40 miles.


Car report – the first year

Filed under: — stan @ 10:37 am

It was a year ago today that I got my new car. At the time, I was anticipating doing a fair bit more driving than in the past, between having to ferry Lucinda around to her activities and also heading out into the dating world. The days when I could drive my car less than 1,000 miles in a year are gone. My hope for this year was that I could keep it under 10,000 miles.

It’s not likely to get better any time soon, since I have a kid going into middle school and a girlfriend who lives out in the San Fernando Valley. The final tally was 9,979 miles for the year. I made my goal, but just barely.


Memorial Day

Filed under: — stan @ 9:28 pm

Some odd things happened today. First off, every Memorial Day we get groups of WWII fighter planes flying over our house. The noise they make is quite distinctive and different from modern small propeller airplanes. But this time, we also had a low flyover by a four-engine jet. This was obviously not a WWII airplane, but was certainly related in that it’s some sort of military plane, and after some poking around, I think it was a C-17.

In the afternoon, Lucinda and I went hiking up the Mt Wilson Toll Road. We took Suzie along to see how she would do. It was quite hot, which I guess had something to do with the fact that we set out at the crack of noon. Next time we will have to leave earlier.

Coming back down, we saw fire trucks parked by the trailhead, and heard a loud helicopter noise. And then a Sheriff’s Department helicopter came flying out the narrow opening of Eaton Canyon. This was an impressive bit of flying, and we figured that something must be happening, since they don’t fly helicopters through narrow canyons for fun.


A hot spring in Los Angeles

Filed under: — stan @ 7:53 pm

Today’s bike ride was a trip out to Encino to Los Encinos State Historic Park. Some years ago, I was contacted by one of the volcanologists at the USGS Volcano Hazards Program for help setting up a web site. Her research involved the chemistry of water in natural hot springs as a clue to what is going on below the ground. She sent me a list of all the known hot springs in California, and I noticed that one of them was in L.A. I looked up the coordinates and found that it was at Los Encinos Park in Encino. Of course, my first thought was that this would make for a good sightseeing bike ride. The spring itself is not very hot. The water temperature is about 79 degrees Fahrenheit and the water flows down into a small lake where there were ducks and geese. The water is all fenced off, so we weren’t able to feel it.

It was a perfect day for riding. We headed straight west, across Glendale and into the San Fernando Valley. We took Moorpark St most of the way, although we had to do a short stretch on Ventura Blvd. When we got to the park, Kathleen was there. She lives nearby so she came over to meet up with us. That was a nice treat. We looked around the park a bit before heading out for the trip home.

We rode up into the Sepulveda Dam recreation area and took the bike path there up to the Metro Orange Line. When they built the busway, they built a bike path parallel to it, so we took that all the way to the end of the line in North Hollywood. We had a snack stop at Panera Bread there, and then we continued on. They built a bike path down Chandler Blvd all the way into Burbank, so we took that. Then we turned south to get to the L.A. River. That was where we saw “Chuck Norris Rules” and the awesomely ridiculous limousine.

We rode the L.A. River bike path down to Fletcher, and then took Eagle Rock Blvd north. That was where Sage got a flat. One of the guys helped change the tube, but when he pumped the tire up, it blew out. Turned out there was big cut in the tire. So we had to put a tire boot in it before changing the tube again. But then we made it home just fine.

58 miles.



Filed under: — stan @ 5:56 pm

On Saturday afternoon, I took Lucinda to the Grammy Museum. They have an exhibit about Michael Jackson that she was interested in seeing. They had some of his costumes there, along with letters, handwritten song lyrics, and various other items from his life.

On the other floors of the museum they had other exhibits related to music. I thought the highlight was the exhibit about the ’60s, which focused on Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. They had Jim Morrison’s Boy Scout membership card. Just the idea of Jim Morrison as a Boy Scout made my brain hurt.

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