Stan’s Obligatory Blog

9/12/2009

More local bike sightseeing

Filed under: — stan @ 12:09 pm

On Saturday morning, Lucinda and I went for a bike ride. This time we went a bit farther than we’ve done before, and we rode down to see the weird palm tree near Caltech. She thought it was pretty entertaining, so we had a nice time.

9/7/2009

Fun at the County Fair

Filed under: — stan @ 9:41 pm

Today, I took Lucinda and her friend Claire out to the Los Angeles County Fair. We went out early in the day, when they were running the $1 special for tickets. It was a perfect day for the fair. It was hot, but only a normal sort of hot for Pomona. The heat wave of the last week finally broke, so we were able to enjoy the day.

The fair is known for some weird foods. And we were immediately reminded of this by the sign advertising chocolate-covered pickles. Yikes. We were not up for trying that. We did try the chocolate-covered bacon, which was decidedly weird. I kept thinking that the chocolate would have been better without the bacon. It wasn’t bad, but the bacon didn’t really add anything other than some crunch and just plain weirdness. And we also didn’t want to try the “Totally Fried Fair Special”.

We stopped by the food exhibit to see if I’d won anything with my baked goods. I hadn’t really expected to win, but I figured it would be an interesting adventure no matter what. And I did see my Black Walnut Bread on display, which was rather novel, even if it didn’t win anything.

They have a lot of concerts at the fair, and one I saw on the schedule was kind of amusing. Apparently, Creedence Clearwater Revival has been revived in some form, now 40 years later. But since the original name of the group had the word ‘Revival’ in it, what could they call it? “Creedence Clearwater Revisited“, of course.

Lucinda and Claire rode a lot of the rides, and they ran through many of the fun houses, too. We went and saw the farm animals, and they got to pet some sheep and goats. They also played a few midway games.

Through all of this, we could see the smoke plume from the Station Fire burning off in the distance. The wind was blowing the smoke away from us and up to the high desert, so the air where we were was fine. But it still looked kind of ominous.

Overall, it was a fun day.

9/6/2009

Riding away from the brushfire smoke

Filed under: — stan @ 12:25 pm

Sunday’s bike ride was a route I made up that took us as far away as we could go from the smoke of the Station Fire, which has been burning in the Angeles National Forest for the last 10 days. We rode down into Downtown Los Angeles, and then out on Wilshire for a bit before turning north to get to Larchmont Village. Then home through Hollywood and Eagle Rock.

It was a nearly-perfect day for riding. There was just a hint of smoke smell in the air when we left Pasadena, and we quickly left that behind as we rode down Huntington Drive toward downtown L.A.

In downtown, we rode down Grand Ave, past the skyscrapers on Bunker Hill. I got a good look at the U.S. Bank Tower, which was nice. I’ve signed up to do the “Stair Climb to the Top” there in a few weeks, so I will be getting more acquainted with it then.

In Larchmont, we usually go to Noah’s Bagels, but this time we did something different. There is a farmer’s market there on Sundays, so we went and got snacks there instead. It was pretty nice. Then we headed up into Hollywood, passing the stage for “Divorce Court“, and also the Suicide Girls office.

As we rode back into Pasadena, we could faintly smell the smoke from the fire again, but it wasn’t bad. So overall, it was a nice ride.

40 miles.
cycling

9/5/2009

Butterflies and a dinosaur

Filed under: — stan @ 6:07 pm

On Saturday, I took Lucinda and her friend to the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum so they could see the butterflies on the last weekend of the exhibit. They have the butterflies there every summer from the end of May through Labor Day. This was the first time I’d taken her to see them since 2004.

When we got there, there was a tremendous crowd of people in the the park, and we realized that there was a USC football game about to start in the Coliseum next door to the museum. This made getting inside a bit of an adventure, and if I’d known about this, we might not have gone today, but we were already there, so we made do.

The butterflies are in a large outdoor cage, sort of like a small aviary. They enjoyed seeing the butterflies flying around, and also finding some caterpillars, spiders, and other insects there. One of the docents helped them to find some of the more interesting sights, including the web of the spider that inspired E. B. White to write Charlotte’s Web.

Afterward, we went inside for the “Dinosaur Encounter“, where they had an animatronic dinosaur that came out and walked around the room. It was a pretty good effect. We’ve seen robotic dinosaurs before, most recently a few weeks ago when we went to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, but this was the first time we’d seen one that actually walks around free. It was quite novel.

Finally, we spent some time looking at the gems and minerals exhibit before going home. It was a fun afternoon.

9/4/2009

Who brought marshmallows?

Filed under: — stan @ 10:09 pm

On my way home today I saw that the Station Fire had a big flare-up this afternoon. Given that all of us here in Pasadena have been living in the smoke and ashes of this fire for over a week, was it a faux pas that I was barbecuing dinner tonight?

Dinner was pork chops marinated in rosemary and balsamic vinegar, and corn roasted in the husk. It was all quite good.

9/3/2009

Onward and especially upward…

Filed under: — stan @ 6:57 am


I registered for the Los Angeles U.S. Bank Tower stair climb today. It’s on Friday, September 25th, and I’m hoping to make a decent showing there. When I did the AON tower stair climb back in April, I came in 24th out of 327 runners, and I’m hoping to improve on that this time. Given that my time for the 62-story AON tower was 12:50, I’m hoping to make the 73 stories of the U.S. Bank Tower in just a bit under 15 minutes. Based on the 2006 results I found online, this would put me at about 30th among the men and about 35th overall. Hey, I’m goal-oriented.

As with the other stair climb, it’s a fundraiser for charity, and I have to solicit donations to make my fundraising goal. In this case, the donations go the Ketchum Downtown YMCA, which I think is a good cause. I used to go training classes there back in the ’80s when I was an aerobics instructor. So this is my way of asking all my friends to consider making a small online donation.

I will be taking my camera along again, and I’m going to get some pictures from the roof of the building, and also probably an ‘action shot’ or two on the way up. Just so you can see how hard I’m running to get a good time.

And as always, there’s a LOLcat for every occasion:



9/1/2009

Yum

Filed under: — stan @ 9:49 pm

I took part of the afternoon off so that Lucinda and I could bake blueberry muffins, black walnut bread, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies to enter in the Los Angeles County Fair. It was unbearably hot in the kitchen, but in the end, everything turned out quite nicely. Then we made the trip out to the Fairplex to deliver everything. The guard gave us directions, and we drove through the fairgrounds to the hall where the food exhibit will be held. They put little tags on everything I brought, and now we’re done. Apparently, they don’t announce the results. You have to go to the fair to find out. But we’re looking forward to going to the fair anyway. After all, what’s not to like about a place where you can get chocolate-covered bacon?

A tiny feast

Filed under: — stan @ 6:57 am

This morning I went outside and found my mint and dill plants completely eaten. And some fat and I guess minty-fresh caterpillars lounging on the stems. Sheesh.

8/30/2009

Another view of the fire

Filed under: — stan @ 11:32 pm

Before coming home tonight, I got a view of the Station Fire from the 14th floor of my girlfriend’s Marina Del Rey high-rise. It was impressive that the fire was visible from that far away. And it was a bit scary to think that I was about to get in my car and go to my house, which is almost directly underneath it. Eep.

Carbon Canyon

Filed under: — stan @ 10:26 pm

This morning, I’d planned on doing a bike ride to the south, away from the mountains and the smoke from the Station Fire. But when I went outside, the smoke was so thick I could barely see to the end of my block. So riding around here seemed like a really Bad Idea. So I hatched a plan to go riding somewhere else. I called Newton, who lives out in West Covina, and I asked him what the air was like there. He said it was fine, but that he could see that Pasadena was completely invisible under a blanket of smoke. So I figured out a route to start in Covina and go over Carbon Canyon into Brea. It was 41 miles, and would be nowhere near the smoke.

I went down to the park just to see if anyone else would show up. I figured we could all go in my car and go riding out there. But nobody else was there, so I just headed out by myself. The first picture shows the view from the park, looking towards the mountains. And there are mountains there, even if you can’t see them. They are only about 2 miles away, which gives you an idea how thick the smoke was. As soon as I got a few miles east, the smoke cleared, and it was a pretty nice day. I parked at Covina Park and mounted up to ride.

I passed Alpha Omega Burgers, which I thought was funny, since that was the name of the doomsday bomb in “Beneath the Planet of the Apes“. Perhaps they should have a slogan, “Our Burgers are the Bomb”.

When I got to Chino Hills, I saw some people playing rollerblade hockey. That was kind of novel, since I’ve only ever seen hockey played on ice before.

I found a hot-rod mailbox on Carbon Canyon Road. At the top of the hill, I balanced the camera on a fence post for a picture. Then I headed down the other side into Brea. When I saw the oil wells, I knew I was there. I rode around to Brea Blvd and turned right. This brought me into Brea Canyon, where I saw the historical marker for Don Gaspar de Portola’s 1769 campsite. I also saw the small forest of oil derricks in the canyon.

On the way back on Grand Ave, there was a speed sensor sign. It said I was going 11mph. It was uphill. At least it didn’t tell me to slow down.

Back in Covina, I saw a warning sign to watch for deaf children. That was an unusual sight, but I guess there must be a reason for it.

It was a nice ride. Clear air, even if it was pretty hot.

41 miles.
cycling

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