Stan’s Obligatory Blog


Lookout Mountain

Filed under: — stan @ 8:00 pm

Today’s bike ride was another trip up the Hollywood hills to see the former Lookout Mountain Air Force Station. I recently got a DVD of a documentary about their work filming all of the nuclear bomb tests in Nevada and also the South Pacific. We’d done this ride before, but I figured out an easier way to get there this time.

On the way to Hollywood, we ran across the Thai New Year festival. That was kind of entertaining. Then we headed up into the hills. On the way up, I saw a fire engine. I’ve often wondered if they could fit those things up those narrow winding roads in the hills.

At the top, we took a quick turn through the portion of the street with the sign saying it had been “withdrawn from public use”. I have no idea what that means, but we still were able to get through. And that was a good thing. That put us at the top of Wonderland Dr, and it we didn’t have to do the uphill slog to get to the old Air Force building.

The former Air Force film studio is now a private house, so there’s not a lot to see from the outside. But it still looks like a 1940s military building, which makes for one odd-looking house.

We rode the rest of the way down Wonderland to get to Laurel Pass, which took us up to Mulholland Dr. Along the way, I saw the house with the alligators in front.

We rode a short distance east on Mulholland before taking some little streets down into Studio City. We stopped off at the gelato place. Sadly, it was kind of chilly today, so nobody was really in the mood for gelato. Doubly sad, since the last time we were there, it was 105 degrees and the gelato freezer was broken.

The rest of the ride home was pretty unremarkable. Pleasant, but not outstanding.

47 miles.


Had a couple free hours…

Filed under: — stan @ 4:34 pm

Lucinda is really enjoying sleeping in on weekends. So I had a few hours in the morning to go riding. I did a variation of the Foothill ‘Crown City Trainer’ ride, since I was in the mood to do some hills.

I got an action shot near the South Pasadena water tower. One of the houses there had a flat-topped mailbox that I could balance the camera on for a picture.

By the time I got up to the top of the big final hill, the sun was out, and it had turned into a very nice day. I stopped to look at the view and take another picture with the help of another mailbox. Then I headed home by way of Altadena.

At the corner of Mendocino and Lake I saw a sign advertising ‘Marcial Arts’. That’s a FAIL. Right up there with the exceedingly stupid TV movie they screened at my office a few years ago.

It was a nice ride.

32 miles.


I broke the curse!

Filed under: — stan @ 6:52 pm

Today was yet another practice climb at the Aon building in downtown L.A. So far this season, I’ve been consistently going slower every time I do it. So today was my chance to turn things around.

There was a good crowd there to do the climb today. I let a few people start out ahead, just so I’d have some people to catch and pass on the way up. My plan this time was to make the first big mechanical floor by the three-minute mark, the second one around seven minutes, aiming to be at the 60th floor in less than 10 1/2 minutes. I set my metronome on 76 for this attempt.

I got to 20 and the first mechanical floor at about 2 1/2 minutes. The second one was just under 7. By then, I’d passed everyone who started in front of me. And this was now the hardest part of the climb. I find it very hard to keep going when I reach the 45th floor or so. But this time, I just kept thinking,

“It won’t hurt less if I slow down.”

My experience is that slowing down doesn’t make it hurt less. The only thing that does is to stop and rest, and I’m too competitive to do that.

Today I noticed one other milestone that I filed away for future reference. The stairs in the Aon building are all just bare concrete, but starting at the 58th floor, the landings have linoleum on them. So that’s a good landmark to indicate that The End is Near. Landmarks like that are good to have, since I try very hard to not look at the floor numbers. They just go by entirely too slowly.

When I stumbled out on the 60th floor, I stopped my watch and saw that I’d made it up in 10:23. I was quite happy about that, since that was faster than last time, and it was also three seconds faster than my previous best practice time, and five seconds faster than my best from last year.

Back at the bottom, I spent a few minutes talking with Vanessa from the Lung Association. This is her first year organizing this event, and I think she’s doing a very good job so far.

On the train back to Pasadena, I had the usual Climber’s Cough. I wanted to tell everyone on the train, “Don’t you want <koff koff> to take up competitive stair climbing <koff> so you can be healthy <koff koff> like me?”

Good times…


Here’s real progress

Filed under: — stan @ 1:06 pm

Last Saturday was the anniversary of an important turning point in my life. It marked three years since Cathy moved out. I wrote about this after one year, and again at two years. It was helpful to stop and take stock and see how far I’d come in putting my life back on the rails. But this year, the day came and went and it wasn’t until today it even occurred to me that it was a significant date.

Now that’s progress.


Well, at least I’m consistent…

Filed under: — stan @ 5:33 pm

Today was another practice climb up the Aon building in downtown Los Angeles. This is the fourth practice this spring. This time, I dialed the pace down a bit on my metronome. I’d been running it at 80 and failing to keep up. So this time I set it for 76.

There was a pretty good turnout for the practice today. I got there late, so I was by myself at the start. Last time, I paid attention and figured out that the two big un-numbered mechanical floors are right around 22 and 44, which is right around the 1/3 and 2/3 marks of the building. These make good landmarks.

I got to the 1/3 mark all right. But just a little bit before the 2/3 mark, I was nearly overcome by a wave of “OMG what the hell was I thinking when I signed up for this,” And that sort of thing makes it hard to push through the pain barrier. Of course, the funny thing is, it still hurts just as much if you slow down.

Somehow, I managed to keep moving, and I made it to the top in 10;42. That’s two seconds slower than last time. Last time was, in turn, eight seconds slower than the time before, which was six seconds slower than the first time.

So each time, I’m going just a little bit slower than the last. At least I’m consistent.


I can haz redistribution?

Filed under: — stan @ 8:00 am

Which kitteh are you?

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Filed under: — stan @ 5:57 pm

Today I got an email with this link:

They’re saying that the moon is going to be closer to the Earth than any time since 1992. So I did a little calculation to see how much bigger it would look. Turns out it will look like a quarter 8 feet away. Instead of the usual size of a quarter 9 feet 4 inches away. Look at the picture. The quarter on the left is bigger than the quarter on the right by the same amount that the moon will look bigger on Saturday.

Dramatic, isn’t it?


Las Vegas is more than just stair climbing

Filed under: — stan @ 6:55 am

Here’s the rest of our weekend in Las Vegas.

On the way out, we stopped off in Primm to ride the Desperado roller coaster. We’d seen this last year, and since Lucinda and I have gotten into riding roller coasters, I wanted to try it. It was a whole lot bigger than California Screamin’, and the track was a lot rougher, but it was still fun.

Saturday afternoon, we went to see the Atomic Testing Museum. That was a fun time, and I highly recommend it.

On Saturday evening, we had dinner and then went to a wedding. Javier is one of the top stair climbers, and he was getting married at the chapel at the top of the Stratosphere Tower. All the top stair climbers were there. It was a nice time, and he looked very pleased. And no, we didn’t all take the stairs up to the chapel.

On Sunday after the race, we went over to Randy’s house, which is very close to the Stratosphere. Then we all went to Luv-It Frozen Custard. This is apparently a local favorite, and after trying it, I can see why. It was very, very good.

Finally, on our way out of town, we stopped off at New York New York and rode the roller coaster there. That one was smoother than the Desperado. It had a loop like California Screamin’, and it also had a barrel roll, which I’d never done before. That was a fun time.

After all that, we headed home. It was a very fun weekend.


Kilotons o’ fun

Filed under: — stan @ 5:35 pm

On Saturday afternoon after the stair climb, we paid a visit to the the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas. Since I like to collect Cold War memorabilia, this was right up my alley.

They had a special exhibit there about Las Vegas during the Cold War. Apparently, the nuclear tests going on just over the mountains were a big tourist draw. In the exhibit, they had a mannequin that had been nuked in one of the tests where they built towns out on the test site to see how ordinary houses would stand up to nuclear attack. They also had other artifacts from the 1950s nuclear testing era, and overall, it was a very entertaining collection.

Of course they had a gift shop. I got a DVD of a film about Lookout Mountain Air Force Station, which was the top-secret Air Force film studio that filmed all the atomic tests. We went to see that on a bike club ride last year. I also got a shirt with a picture of Miss Atomic Bomb 1957, and a couple of other little things.

All told, this was a very interesting and entertaining museum. It’s affiliated with the Smithsonian, which I find tremendously amusing, since it’s very hard to believe that anything in Las Vegas could be worthy of the august Smithsonian.

One quarter million…

Filed under: — stan @ 6:20 am

The M9.0 Tohoku Earthquake in Japan last Friday has caused a spike in interest in earthquakes. That’s pushed the USGS Earthquake Notification Service, also known as my Pet Project, past its latest milestone.

Yesterday, I saw that ENS had passed 250,000 subscribers. It still amazes me that something I invented is used by so many people worldwide.

After the M7.2 Sierra El Mayor Earthquake last year, it processed about 700 earthquakes and sent 4,600,000 messages. But at that time, that was enough that the system ground to a halt under the load. This time, the system ran fine the whole time. I checked the logs, and in the first 24 hours after the Tohoku Earthquake, it processed 308 events and sent about 4,500,000 messages about them. I’d done some re-architecture of the database last year to increase its performance, and the system ran fine this time.

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