Stan’s Obligatory Blog

10/18/2009

Down for the Count – Again

Filed under: — stan @ 7:10 pm

Today’s bike club ride was my “Down for the Count” route out to Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City to visit the grave of Bela Lugosi. The last time we did this ride was two years ago. And with everything that has happened in my life since then, it seems like it was another life. So it was time to do this ride again.

It was cool in the morning, and there was a slight mist around the towers in downtown Los Angeles. This combined with the morning sun reflecting off the windows of the new Ritz Carlton to make a very striking sight.

When we got to Holy Cross, we first went to the Grotto to see Bela Lugosi. Then we wandered around a bit near there, where we found Sharon Tate, Rita Hayworth, and Jack Haley. They have all been added to the Graves Gallery.

On the way back, we stopped at Noah’s Bagels on Venice Blvd. Then we rode Venice almost all the way into downtown, and then north to Silver Lake for the trip home. Once we got to Fletcher Drive, we were back on familiar territory. From there, we took the most direct route home, through Eagle Rock and up the Colorado hill into Pasadena.

It was a very nice ride.

53 miles.
cycling

10/17/2009

More fun with the silver ball

Filed under: — stan @ 11:41 am

Lucinda and I have been playing more pinball lately, and today she set a new personal high score. Her previous high score that I recorded was 386,430 points, and this time she did 561,510. She says that she thinks she did 800,000+ once, but I don’t have a record of that. So I thought I should take a picture to record this occasion.

10/15/2009

Just another day at the office

Filed under: — stan @ 10:02 pm

Today was the California Shakeout, so of course all of us at the Earthquake Hazards Office participated in the drill. And I found out that I can fit under my desk.

10/12/2009

Pre-disaster sightseeing

Filed under: — stan @ 3:46 pm

Last Friday, I went to a talk at Caltech about debris flows, and how they are almost certainly going to happen this winter because of the Station Fire. The speaker made mention of one particular house in Sunland. She said that the house had been destroyed by debris flows in 1978, and that it was then rebuilt in exactly the same place. Because of this, it is expected to be destroyed again when the rains come. So of course, I immediately looked up the address and worked out a bike route to get there and see it.

I took the direct route there, since I didn’t feel like riding through Burbank and Sun Valley on a weekday. And riding up Foothill Blvd through La Crescenta and Tujunga was no picnic, either. But I made it to the mouth of Big Tujunga Canyon and got to take in the charred mountain vista. It was impressive. Then I rode up into the little private neighborhood on the north side of the canyon. The fire had come down to within about 100 feet of the houses there, and the burned area looked pretty devastated. And when I found the house, I could see why it had been destroyed. There is a large drainage area above it, and it’s situated in a narrow part of the canyon. And there is no debris basin above it. Anything that comes down from that drainage gets funneled through the canyon where the house is. I suppose the owners know this. Aside from mud and rocks destroying the house every 30 years, it looks like a very pretty and idyllic place to live.

On the way out, I saw two news trucks parked at the mouth of Big Tujunga Canyon. The first rain of the season is predicted for tonight, so they may be setting up to see the first mudflows.

It was an interesting little sightseeing ride.

38 miles.

Addendum: Here’s the Google Maps view of the terrain there, and you can see that there are two big canyons north and northwest of the house, and both those merge into the narrow canyon where the house is. Check it out.

cycling

10/11/2009

Nerdcore Rising

Filed under: — stan @ 6:43 pm

movie posterLast night, Leslie and I watched “Nerdcore Rising.” This was easily the funniest music documentary I’ve seen since “We Sold Our Souls for Rock ‘n’ Roll.” It follows MC Frontalot on his first tour. The tour starts off slow, with small groups in little bars in the south, but it ends in a big way, with a big show at a video game convention. Along the way, they interview fans and others about Nerdcore rap.

Now it’s time for a little braggadocio
while I swing my arms like Ralph Macchio.

This is an obscure little movie, but Netflix has it, and it’s definitely worth watching. And besides, the beginning of the DVD version announces:

This film has been modified from its original version. It has been made more awesome for this screen.

And what could be better than that?

Griffith Park on a gloomy day

Filed under: — stan @ 3:02 pm

Sunday’s bike ride was over to Griffith Park. It’s a nice route with not a lot of hills. It was cool and overcast, and it never really warmed up.

As you can guess from the pictures, there wasn’t much interesting or amusing along the route today. The two girls riding horses in the park were cute, but aside from that, there wasn’t much else to see.

43 miles.
cycling

10/9/2009

Well, I’m still trying to go low-car…

Filed under: — stan @ 7:22 am

But between being a half-time single parent having to ferry Lucinda around, and then having a girlfriend who lives in Santa Monica, I’m really racking up the miles on the the middle-age-mobile. I think I’ll still come in under 10,000 for the year, but it’s a far cry from the days when I drove less than a 1,000 miles a year.

10/7/2009

More on my Pet Project

Filed under: — stan @ 7:12 pm

earthquake map
There have been a lot of earthquakes this afternoon. In particular, there have been these three big ones:

M7.3 2009/10/07 23:13:49 -13.145 166.297 33.3 VANUATU
M7.7 2009/10/07 22:18:26 -12.554 166.320 35.0 SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS
M7.8 2009/10/07 22:03:15 -13.052 166.187 35.0 VANUATU

In the Earthquake Notification Service, also known as My Pet Project, subscribers can pick their own location and magnitude criteria for notification, but the general rule is that the larger the earthquake, the more people want to know about it. And anything over M7 will generate a lot of mail. So I went and poked through the logs to see just how many messages it’s sent in the last few hours.

It’s currently not quite 7:00PM here in Los Angeles. I looked at logs back to 2:00PM, which is about when these big events started coming through the system. And the notification system has sent 642,590 messages in that time. That averages out to about 36 messages a second for five hours. No wonder some ISPs with automatic filters have blocked our mail servers as suspected spam sources.

Just for perspective, the system has sent about 775,000 messages in the past 24 hours. And this is not a record. The 24-hour record for the system is 943,833 messages in 24 hours, and that was set last Saturday.

10/4/2009

Off to watch the races again

Filed under: — stan @ 9:20 pm

On Sunday, Lucinda and I went down to Carson to watch the final day of racing at the Elite National Track Championships. We’ve been going to this for the last few years, and it’s always a fun afternoon.

When we got there, we saw my old racing friend Cleve at the video camera by the finish line. He and I used to ride races in the New York area, and particularly, the Tuesday and Thursday evening races they used to have at SUNY Old Westbury on Long Island.

The first races we saw were the men’s team sprint finals. And then it was the highlight of the day: The men’s Madison final. This is always a fun race to watch. It’s very hard to keep track of what’s happening, but there’s so much action that it’s just fun to watch anyway. The race is 200 laps, so it lasts a while, which is different from most other track events. So it’s good all around.

The last event of the day was a women’s Madison. This is the first time I’ve ever seen women riding one of these races, and they did very well. In the end, Team Vanderkitten gained a lap on the pack. They rode very well and clinched the victory. I hope they make the Madison an official women’s event in the future. These women showed that they were up to it.

It was a fun afternoon. It was about as much fun as it’s possible for me to have when someone else is riding the bike.

9/30/2009

A Man Called 1/3 Horse

Filed under: — stan @ 6:46 am

I was curious, so I did a bit of math. Climbing the U.S. Bank Tower required lifting my body weight 1,018 feet in 15 minutes and 7 seconds.

162 lb = 73.6 kg
1018 feet = 310 meters
73.6 kg x 9.8 m/s**2 x 310 m = 2.24 x 10**5 joules
15 min + 7 sec = 907 sec
2.24 x 10**5 joules / 907 sec = 247 watts
247 watts = 0.331 horsepower

That’s just the power to lift my body weight, and I’m neglecting the energy that went into running on the stairs, passing people, and panting like a dog. So my actual power output was a little bit higher.

I think that’s pretty good for being nearly 50 years old.

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