Stan’s Obligatory Blog



Filed under: — stan @ 7:32 pm

Last week, I saw an article in the Times about how some coyotes had moved into a burned-out house in Glendale. I thought this sounded interesting, and it could be yet another theme for a sightseeing bike ride. I’d also recently found out the location of the fabled Altadena wallabies, so we had an animal theme today.

The wallabies are just a bit up the hill from Pasadena. They’re apparently not always out, but today we could see one through the fence. Just a wallaby-shaped silhouette. Sort of like the Wallaby Protection Program. But we did see it.

We went up and over the hill to get to Glendale, and just when we were almost to the coyote house, I broke a spoke on my back wheel. I managed to true the wheel enough to keep going, but it was still a big gimpy.

The burned-out house was at the top of a pretty steep hill. It was a nice setting, but the house is a mess. We didn’t see any coyotes, partly because they tend not to come out in the daytime, and also because they were probably underneath the house, and we couldn’t see down there.

Our snack stop was at Paradise Bakery in Glendale. After that, we took a side trip up to Sport Chalet in Burbank so I could fix my wheel. I got a replacement spoke and sat down to fix it. Fortunately, it wasn’t hard to do, and we were back on the road again. Still, with the general gimpiness of my bike, we took the direct way home.

It was a nice ride, aside from the broken spoke.

35 miles.


Well, I really can’t complain…

Filed under: — stan @ 8:30 pm

Today was another practice run up the Wells Fargo building in downtown Los Angeles. I’ve been doing well at this so far this season, setting a number of new personal records, so I was hoping to pull yet another rabbit out of my proverbial hat tonight. But sadly, it was not to be. I didn’t go faster than I did on Monday. On the other hand, I didn’t go slower,either, so I really can’t complain about that at all.

This time, it seemed like there were a lot more people there than before. There was a long line for the sign-in at the YMCA. When we got over to the building, there was a long line outside waiting for the stairs. Why is it that the single most painful athletic thing I’ve ever done draws such a crowd?

When they finally let us in, I stood at the bottom of the stairs for a few minutes. There were a lot of people in our group, and I wanted to give them enough time to spread out before I came up and tried to pass them. And that strategy worked. By the time I was passing people, they were all spread out, and it was pretty easy to get by. That’s my ideal situation, since passing people gets me motivated to go faster.

I had a look at my watch at 27, and it said 4 minutes and a few seconds. That was good. That meant I had a chance at going under 9 minutes again. And like Monday, when I got to 50, I was at 8 minutes. So I did the best I could to put on a burst of speed at the end. I managed to do a little bit, and I sprinted the last two floors up to 55. I got up there and immediately dropped to my knees on the landing, panting like a dog. But when I looked at my watch, it said 8:59. Not faster than Monday, but not slower, either.

And I really can’t complain at all about that.


Did I mention that this is great?

Filed under: — stan @ 10:53 pm

Today was another practice run up the Wells Fargo building in downtown Los Angeles. I set a new personal record last week when I climbed the 55 stories in 9:03. And today, I did 8:59. As I’ve been saying a lot lately, “This is great!”

I rode the train downtown, and it was a pleasant journey, as always. I walked over to the YMCA and got changed, and then went and got in line at the Wells Fargo building. When they let us in, I waited a couple minutes before starting out, since I wanted the group to spread out a bit before I had to pass them. It’s always easier to pass one or two people at a time, as compared to passing a big crowd all at once.

I tried hard to not look at the floor numbers, and that was helped a bit by the fact that It took me about 35 floors to pass everyone from the group that had started before me. When I got to 28, I looked at my watch. It said 4:24, and that was a good sign. I knew then that I had a chance at going under 9 minutes.

When I got to 50, I looked at my watch again, and it said 8 minutes. So I knew I had a chance. I kept going at my same pace until I saw 53, and then I did my best to put on a burst of speed. Which was a Tremendous Effort, but I suppose was not really all that fast. But that didn’t matter. I heaved myself up on to the landing at 55, and my watch said 8:59.

Did I remember to mention that this is great?

On the way home, I saw a cloud of what looked like some several hundred bats flying over 5th St in downtown L.A. That was odd, since I wasn’t aware of any bat colonies here, unlike the one we went to see when we were visiting Austin in July. According to Curbed L.A., they’re swallows.

When I went down into the subway station, I got there just in time to see the train leaving. The video monitor said there would be another train in 5 minutes. And 5 minutes came and went. 10 minutes came and went, and 15 minutes came and went. So I amused myself by taking some pictures of the neon art in the Pershing Square Metro station. But finally, the train came. And I got to go home.

It was a good evening. Did I mention that this is great?


Time for the County Fair again

Filed under: — stan @ 8:49 pm

It’s the end of summer, so it’s time once again for the Los Angeles County Fair.

I didn’t win a ribbon this year. But if you want to try, here are the recipes I entered:

Blueberry Muffins
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

In any case, they didn’t get a ribbon, unlike last year’s entry.

It was a nice day for the fair. It’s usually very hot there, but today was nice. We went there with Lucinda and her friend London. Being the age that they are, Kathleen and I figured we’d send them off with some money, and we’d only hear from them when they needed more.

Right inside the gate, we were assaulted with the stands offering Everything! Totally! Fried! Yick.

First off, Kathleen and I headed over to the Culinary Styles area. I wanted to see if I’d won a ribbon, since they don’t publish the results. I didn’t win anything, so we moved on. We stopped in to see the garden model railroad. It was amusing to see that they had a lot of familiar Los Angeles sights rendered in miniature there. After that, we wandered over to get some Dr Bob’s Ice Cream. Then, we went into the pet area, since they had a pen with some wallabies in it. Not your usual pets, but interesting and cute.

Next, we found the arts building, so we could go see the Museum of Neon Art exhibit there. It was a small exhibit, mostly of old neon signs from their collection. At that point, I got a message from Lucinda. They’d gone on some rides, and they were out of money. And they wanted to buy themselves tails. So I told them to meet us outside, and I gave them some more money. We followed along to see the tails, and they were cute.

For lunch, we went to King Taco. Then, after having the pork carnitas, we went into the barn to see some baby pigs. We looked at all the animals, and ended up at the far end just in time for the pig races. That was amusing, and at the end, they gave us all coupons for a pound of bacon. Made from the losers, presumably.

The final act was to walk through all the exhibit halls and marvel at the endless rows of booths selling all manner of crap. In the end, I bought a hat, which was a fairly modest thing, compared to some of the stuff they were selling there.

It was a fun day.

Yet another ‘theme’ bike ride

Filed under: — stan @ 12:27 pm

Since today is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and all of America is holding various events to mark the occasion, I thought that we at Foothill Cycle Club should join in. So today’s bike ride was a route to visit the World Trade Center memorial at the Los Angeles Fire Department training center near Dodger Stadium. We’d been to see this once before, but I knew that they were going to be having some sort of event going on there today.

We rode out, across Glendale, and then down the L.A. River bike path. Then up into Elysian Park, where we took a short side trip into Echo Park to stop at Chango Coffee.

Leaving Echo Park, we had to go back up a pretty steep little hill. I’d checked out that part of the route in Google Maps Street View, and it really hadn’t looked all that steep there. But everyone who rides with me knows that that’s just how it goes. We’ll find ourselves riding up a wall, all the time while I’m saying, “But it looked flat on the map!”

Rolling down past Dodger Stadium, we came to the LAFD training center. And yes, they were having a big event going on. They had fire trucks, news vans, and a big crowd gathered. We stayed for a little while to listen to the speakers, and then we headed home. The route back was pretty direct, taking Broadway out of downtown, and then up Huntington Drive.

When we got back, it was just me and Carla, and I had only 38 miles. So we took another little side trip to try and see the Altadena wallabies. They weren’t out when we went by, but at least we know where they live now, so we’ll go back another time.

It was a nice ride.

42 miles.


Four tenths of a horse!

Filed under: — stan @ 11:28 pm

Today was another practice run up the 55-story Wells Fargo building in downtown Los Angeles. Last time, I set a new personal best with a time of 9:11. And today I beat that. This is great!

I went down there after work with Morgan from my office. She did the U.S. Bank climb last year, and she’s hoping to improve her time, too. We got changed and headed over. They let us in in groups of about 10, at intervals of one or two minutes. I don’t know why they do this, but this gives me a goal for each climb. I let my group go ahead, and then I want to catch and pass all of them. Once that’s done, I see how many I can catch from the group that started in front of us. It’s nice to have goals.

On the way up, I tried not to look at the floor numbers. The landings all look the same. The only thing that changes is the floor numbers, and they go up much, much too slowly. I took a quick look when my watch said I’d been going one minute. I figured I had to be at least on 8, and I was pleased to see I was on 9. So then I tried not to look until I got into the twenties. At 27, I took a look at my watch, and I was at four minutes and a few seconds. That was good, since that’s just about the halfway point. I was around 50 when the watch ticked over 8 minutes. I was hoping at that point that I might make it to 55 before 9 minutes, but the last two floors are bigger, so that added a few seconds, and I came up on the landing at 55 at 9:03. Still, that’s 8 seconds faster than last time, and 25 seconds faster than my best time last year. Nothing not to like there.

Morgan got to the top just a little after me, so I had my camera out to record the occasion. She looked pretty weary at that point, but that’s not surprising at all.

So I did some math:

700ft = 213m
170lb = 77kg
77 * 213 * 9.8 = 160730J
160730J / 543sec = 296W
296W * 0.001341 = 0.397Hp which rounds to 0.4Hp Yay!

Did I mention that this is great?


Parking isn’t Rocket Science…

Filed under: — stan @ 8:21 pm

Last Sunday, we went to the “Spinal Tap” show at Hollywood Forever. Going to one of these screenings has been on our list of things to do for a long time. And we had a nice time – once we got in. The process of getting in was so aggravating and so frustrating that we ended up wanting to never come to another event again.

The process of scanning the tickets and parking passes at the gate had something very, very fundamentally wrong with it. Tickets were sold online, and they were the print-at-home kind with a bar code. So when you get to the gate, all they have to do is scan them and you’re done. There is no reason why it should take 3 minutes to scan the tickets for one car. If the people at McDonald’s ran their drive-through like that, they wouldn’t get fired. They’d be taken out back and shot.

There was a line coming out of the gate and down Santa Monica Boulevard. At Gower St, the line turned and went down the street. We spent 45 minutes waiting in line on Gower St, not moving one inch. Because every time a little room opened up in the main line on Santa Monica Blvd, cars coming down Santa Monica Blvd would fill it in. The only motion on the Gower St line was when people in front of us gave up and bailed out.

We finally bailed out and ended up on Santa Monica Blvd going the other way. There was a short line there for people turning left into the entrance, and we got in that way after waiting just a few minutes. Because the guy directing traffic at the gate was giving equal priority to the line of 10 cars on Santa Monica turning left and the line of 200 cars on Santa Monica turning right into the gate.

This was stupid.

There was no reason why this should have been such an ordeal.

How it really should be done:

There should be just one line. Put us a sign at the entrance that says something like, “Line for Cinespia forms on Gower St”. Put up a sign at the southwest corner of Santa Monica and Gower that says the same thing. Put a security person there to watch over it and direct.

Now that there is just one line, send someone down the line to check that everyone has their tickets. There is no reason why the people with the scanners should be fumbling with money. That slows everything down. Any car that does not have the proper tickets gets a yellow Post-It on the windshield. When they get up to the turnoff into the gate, have someone meet them there and sell them the tickets or whatever that they need. By the time they get to the scanners, they should have everything in place to be scanned. There is no call to hold up everyone else because someone isn’t prepared.

This sort of thing just isn’t Rocket Science. It’s not that hard. It would make for a more pleasant experience for the attendees, and far less verbal abuse for the people working the gate.


A fun evening*

Filed under: — stan @ 11:05 pm

On Sunday night, we went to Hollywood Forever for one of the Cinespia movies. Tonight it was “This is Spinal Tap“. It was a fun evening, with one big exception. And that was almost enough to make me never want to go to another of their shows again. But aside from that, it was a fun time. We brought a little picnic dinner, along with the chairs we got for going to “Hamlet” and “The Captains” back in July. So we had a nice time. After the movie, we visited the photo booth and got our picture taken with Stonehenge.

* I’ll write about the utter idiocy that was the line for parking in another post.

Glendale Vistas again

Filed under: — stan @ 12:16 pm

Today’s bike club ride was an old route we haven’t done in quite a while. It’s the “Glendale Vistas” route, and it goes up into the hills above Glendale. I broke my bike on this ride four years ago.

It was not a bad day for riding. It was promising to get hot, but not nearly as bad as some other days have been. There’s not a lot to say about this route. It doesn’t go to any weird sightseeing spots. The most excitement we had was at the stop at Paradise Bakery. They have the best chocolate eclairs there.

After the eclair stop, we headed up into the hills. That was where I got the picture of Alan doing the ‘walk of shame’, pushing his bike up the hill.

It was a nice ride, even if we didn’t do any odd sightseeing along the way.

41 miles.


Neon lights, but not so much water as last time

Filed under: — stan @ 11:30 pm

Last December, we took the Museum of Neon Art’s Holiday Lights tour. And as it turned out, that was the night it was pouring rain in Los Angeles, which is not so good if you’re riding in an open-top sightseeing bus. So tonight, we went to do the summer version of the neon tour, and it seemed like a pretty good bet that it wasn’t going to rain.

The museum has moved out of the old bank building on 4th St in preparation for their move to Glendale next year. So the tour began in Chinatown. There is a lot of nice neon dating back to the 1930s there, and it was always a stop on the tour, so it seemed like a good place to start. While we were waiting to go, we wandered around and took pictures of the neon as the sun went down.

When it got dark, we all loaded up the bus and headed out. They took us downtown to see all the old theaters on Broadway, as well as a number of other old neon signs in the area. Then we had our first stop of the tour, at The Golden Gopher. Word is that Gopher has the oldest liquor license in L.A., and it’s apparently one of very few that allow for take-out. And the little gophers inside were cute.

Leaving downtown, we headed up across Echo Park and Silver Lake into Hollywood. There is a lot of neon and other electric signage in Hollywood, so that was a natural for the tour. Eric was our guide for the tour, and he was very entertaining, telling us stories about the different signs along the way, as well as maintaining a constant patter about which historic buildings have been converted to loft housing. There’s a little video excerpt you can see there that will give a taste of what the tour is like:

It was a very fun evening.

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