Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Two Entertainers

Filed under: — stan @ 5:43 pm

Today’s bike club ride was another celebrity grave tour. We rode to Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills to visit the graves of Lock Martin and Liberace. They are buried in the same section of the cemetery, but they are each remembered for things that could not be more different. Everyone remembers Liberace and his piano. But Lock Martin’s signature role was one where his face could not be seen. He was the seven-foot-seven actor inside the suit, playing Gort the robot in the 1951 film, “The Day the Earth Stood Still”.

We rode there by way of Eagle Rock, through Los Feliz, and then up and over Mt Hollywood. On the way there, Stewart got a flat on Eagle Rock Blvd. This marks his second appearance in the Flat Tire Gallery.

After riding over Mt Hollywood, we turned left and rode to Forest Lawn. We stopped there for a bit to admire Liberace’s signature and piano drawing on his monument. Then we continued on to our snack stop at Priscilla’s.

The route home this time was the one that goes up and over the Linda Vista hill in Glendale. When we’re coming home from the Burbank area, there’s really no way to get back to Pasadena that doesn’t involve riding up a pretty big hill. Some are bigger than others, but there’s always a hill. This route is the middling one. The hill is bigger than the easiest way back, but nowhere near the punishing grind that some of the other routes have. So we rode up and over, and down the other side to pass the Rose Bowl. And then home on Orange Grove.

It was a pleasant ride.

45 miles.


More adventures in duct-tape astrophotography

Filed under: — stan @ 10:40 pm

Today was the transit of Venus, and I was ready with my small telescope and solar filter. I was home most of the day because the big oak tree in my back yard was being trimmed. That took a good part of the day, and by the time they were done, it was just about time for the show. So I set the telescope up on the driveway and settled in.

My astrophotography rig, such as it is, consists of my Canon A570 camera attached to the eyepiece of the telescope with some packing tape. It’s pretty simple, but it works. The first photo shows the Sun just before the start of the transit. The second was taken when Venus was fully in front of the Sun, which was about 30 minutes in. The other photos were just taken at random times along the way. Sunset was just after the mid-point of the transit, so the last photo was taken just about the mid-point. And of course, while I was doing this, the neighbors were stopping by to look at it, and I even had some people who just happened to be passing by stop for a look.

All told, it made for a fun afternoon. And that’s a good thing, since it won’t happen again until the year 2117.

Tree – Before and After

Filed under: — stan @ 5:54 pm

So here’s my big oak tree, before and after the guys with chainsaws spent the day cutting and thinning. And now I have even more barbecue wood to add to all the wood I collected after the big windstorm last year.


Another survey party

Filed under: — stan @ 10:12 pm

Tuesday was a unique treat. I got a chance to go downtown to do a survey climb up the U.S. Bank Tower staircase. I’ve done this now for the Aon Center stairs, as well as the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas. And both of those times, I found that the published step counts they quoted for promoting the stair climbs were wrong. So this was a chance to see if the 1,500 step count for this building was right. I suspected from the start that it was not.

A few months ago, I’d emailed the organizers of the Stair Climb for Los Angeles at the downtown YMCA to see if this trip could be arranged, and they came through. I was to be at the building at 10:00 on Tuesday morning, where I would meet Whitney from the YMCA and we would climb the building and take in the stairs.

We got checked in and got little adhesive visitor name tags to wear. The guard asked us if we wanted to take the elevator up to the top and walk down to count the stairs. We just looked at him like he was crazy. I walked down a 42-story building once and swore never to do it again. So we went outside and he opened up the door next to the sidewalk and we started up from there.

It turns out that this staircase is much more consistent than I’d remembered from the races I’ve done before. Most of the building was two flights per floor, 11 steps per flight, with right-hand turns. This pattern covered something like 47 of the 73 floors.

There was no 13th floor.

Oddly enough, 2 was missing, also. When we started up from the lobby level, the first floor number we saw was 3. And at 5, it settled into the regular 11/11 pattern all the way up to 46. Then there was one weird floor, and it was back to 11/11 until 58. At that point, there was the only fire door we encountered, and it switched to left-hand turns for a short while. Then it was back to the same pattern up to the last office floor on 71. The floors were numbered up to 74, and then there was just a short two flights up to the roof door.

By about the 50th floor, my shirt was totally soaked with sweat, and my adhesive visitor tag fell off. So I picked it up and stuck it to my notepad.

When we got to the landing by the roof door, the intercom box squawked at us and asked if we were ready to come down. This was a bit creepy until we saw the video camera on the opposite wall. They were watching, and they’d seen us on the monitor. So they said the guard would meet us at 71 and we could ride down with him.

On the train home, I added up the steps. I got 1,679 1,674 as the final tally. And that night, I made up a chart of the stairway. Now I know how to attack it to climb it in the most efficient and balanced way possible. And that’s a good thing. Not only will I avoid wasting steps along the way, remembering the stepping patterns is a good distraction to avoid the “OMG! What the hell was I thinking signing up for this again!” that I always get around the 45th floor.

So now we’re ready to race.

The stair charts I’ve made are all here:



Filed under: — stan @ 4:55 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a trip out to the Flyaway bus terminal at Van Nuys Airport to see the giant neon sculpture by Lili Lakich there. She was the founder of the Museum of Neon Art, and she is still involved in the art scene in downtown Los Angeles. Since it’s the last Sunday of the month, it’s time for the ‘longer’ ride, and a trip to Van Nuys fit the bill nicely.

It was a good day for riding. We headed out by the most direct route across Eagle Rock and Glendale, and then took Moorpark across the Valley to Sherman Oaks. Then we turned north and picked up the Metro Orange Line bike path out to Van Nuys. Along the way there, we thought we’d found Waldo. A short ride up Woodley brought us to the airport. And yes, the piece is big. It would have looked more impressive in the dark, but it was still a nice piece.

When we were leaving the airport, I got a message from Carla that she’d gotten a flat when she was leaving home, and she was going to meet up with us along the route back. As it turned out, we found her on the Orange Line bike path on the way back. We stopped at Panera in North Hollywood for snacks.

After that, we headed home by the straightest route possible from Burbank back to Pasadena. It was a pleasant ride.

58 miles.


Hey! Who broke the sun?

Filed under: — stan @ 7:36 pm

Today was a solar eclipse. Here in L.A., we’re too far south to see the full annular eclipse, but we still got something like 85% coverage, which was still fairly dramatic.

I got a little solar filter for my Meade 2045, which is my ’small and portable’ scope. I set it up in front of our neighbor’s house where there was a clear view through the trees. I was even able to get some pictures by just duct-taping my little Canon A560 to the eyepiece. So the first photo shows the sun just a few minutes after first contact. The second is at maximum coverage. And the third photo shows the little crescent suns projected on our neighbor’s house by the sunlight filtering through the trees.

It was good geek fun. All the neighbors came out to look at it. And now that I have the filter, I’m ready for the transit of Venus on June 5th.

The Pasadena Marathon

Filed under: — stan @ 1:20 pm

Today’s bike club ride was one that didn’t really go anywhere in particular, aside from up and down a bunch of hills. But we did have a brief sightseeing stop at the 15-mile mark of the Pasadena Marathon. My stair-climbing friend Veronica was running in it, and based on her previous time of 3:44, I figured she’d be passing the 15-mile mark at about 8:40. Which gave us just enough time to ride up there from our 8:00 start at Victory Park. And she was right on schedule, running by us at 8:40:28 on her way to a new personal best of 3:42:49.

After that, we continued on, riding up through La Crescenta, back down to La Cañada, and then up and over the big hills past Sacred Heart school, and also Patrician Way. It’s all one hill, but we rode up and down it twice by two different routes. Then we rode to South Pasadena for cold drinks at Kaldi’s.

By then, it was pretty hot, and the last part of the ride didn’t include any more big hills. We just rode home at a leisurely pace. It was a pleasant ride.

42 miles.


Derby time

Filed under: — stan @ 11:04 pm

Tonight was time to go back to the Doll Factory in Los Angeles to see another L.A. Derby Dolls match. This was our third time going, and we’ve enjoyed it every time. Like last time, the game was a bit of a blowout. But it was still a fun time.

We got some drinks and then dinner from the Mesohungry truck again. And I got a cookie from Freshly-Baked. It was quite good, and I know my cookies. Lucinda tried it and then she and London went back and they both got the ice cream sandwiches from them. As I said, their cookies are quite good.

The game was entertaining to watch, although next time I’m bringing real earplugs. The wadded-up bar napkins just didn’t quite cut it. Still, it was a very fun night. I recommend it highly.


Stand and Deliver in Turnbull Canyon

Filed under: — stan @ 4:01 pm

I got a robo-call from Lucinda’s school a few days ago that said that they were doing AP testing this week. That got me to thinking about Jaime Escalante and his calculus class. I remember reading about them in the summer of 1982, when ETS was challenging their scores and made them retake the test to prove that they really did know calculus. This story was the basis for the film, “Stand and Deliver“. So I planned out a ride to visit Mr. Escalante’s grave at Rose Hills in Whittier.

It was chilly this morning, and GT was cold when we were starting out. A little while later, we had to stop when Stewart got a flat.

When we got to Rose Hills, we were able to find the space pretty easily from the location given at But sadly, Mr. Escalante’s grave is unmarked. It seems odd for someone who had such an effect on the world.

Continuing on, we rode across Whittier and up Turnbull Canyon. After a brief stop at the top, we headed down the other side and turned for home. Our snack stop was at Merengue in Monrovia. By then, it had cleared up and turned into a very nice day. A good day for riding.

51 miles.


Saturday morning on my bike

Filed under: — stan @ 5:52 pm

I went riding on Saturday morning. Nothing special. Just a loop ride to nowhere in particular. But I did see a couple of funny mailboxes in Arcadia. One was a miniature of the house, and the other was a steam locomotive.

I rode through South Pasadena and saw a Gold Line train passing through. I don’t know what they’re complaining about there. That’s the quietest train I’ve ever not heard. And I’ve got very sensitive hearing.

Going by the Rose Bowl, there were the usual assortment of people running, skating, walking, and so forth. I did see one attractive and pretty heavily-tattooed young woman running there. That always makes my day. And on that note, I took a short side trip on the way home to visit Shannon.

It was a nice little ride.

29 miles.

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