Gas station without pumps

2021 September 16

Secret Walks: Harvey West Loop

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 15:49
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On Saturday August 28 and Saturday September 4, my wife and I took another walk from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover. This time we did the Harvey West Loop.

Why two weekends? Well, it is a bit complicated. My wife does not like walking downhill, particularly not on steep, narrow, possibly slippery trails, and so we decided to the the loop in the reverse direction from the book.  We also started the loop in the middle, at High and Highland, as that was the closest point to our house.  The first part of our loop, into Harvey West Park, was familiar to us and we had no problems, but we could not figure out what trail we were supposed to take through the woods to get to the stairs at the top of the park.  We eventually retraced our route and did the downtown half of the loop.

On Tuesday August 31, I went by myself to do the Harvey West half of the loop by myself in the forward direction.  I had no trouble following the route in that direction, but I did not want to take the High–Coral bike path for a third time, so I tried a different way home, going up the Wagner Grove trail and coming back down Spring Street and past Westlake.  That route was about 4 miles.

On Saturday September 4, my wife and I did the Harvey West part of the loop in the reverse direction, now that I knew which path to take.  The photos below are from all three walks, but are ordered in the way we had intended to do the walk originally (starting at Highland and High, doing the reverse of the Harvey West loop, and then the reverse of the downtown portion).  I’ve added a few photos that were off the main route in appropriate places.

The California buckeye is rather strange, in that it loses its leaves during the summer. The fruit has not yet developed the dark brown that it gets later in the season.

We walked past the cemetery, but did not go in. Some day we should take the tour that the Museum of Art and History has put together.

Although we did not go into the cemetery, I took a picture of the Chinese arch with my camera zoomed way in.

The city no longer allows children to play on the steam engine in the park, though they did about 20 years ago, when our son was about the right age for that.

This is the pump track at Harvey West, which we went past on our first visit. This view is from past where we should have turned.

If you go well past the pump track, to the end of the park, there is this rather interesting multi-trunk tree. If you get here, you’ve definitely gone way past where you should have turned.

Coming back we passed the spiderweb playground, which was not seeing much use.

This is the correct (east) end of the pump track, opposite where the trail goes up.

This is the entrance to the trail—the rail fence is for the pump track.

Going up has several switchbacks, like this one.

Yet another switchback.

After the switchbacks, there is a wooden bridge, which is mentioned in the book, as there is a fork in the trail going in the downhill direction that the book suggests.

Looking down the incorrect fork of the trail from the bridge shows a fallen tree almost blocking the path up from Wagner Grove.

Let’s take a short break here for some photos of the Wagner Grove trail, which is a gentler way up to the bridge.

The service road at the east end of Harvey West Park (just above Wagner Cottage) leads through Wagner Grove.

Wagner Grove itself is marked with a commemorative plaque. At the time I wrote this message, Google maps has incorrect information about Wagner Grove, putting it in Evergreen Cemetery instead of in Harvey West Park. They also have a photo of the cemetery, rather than of Wagner Grove. I’ve sent them feedback, but it might take them a while to fix the map.

Here is a view from the downhill side of the fallen tree blocking the trail. It does not completely block the trail, but the part underneath has a steep slide slope and looks like slippery dirt.

This graffiti summarized my feelings about going under the fallen tree.

Luckily, I had noticed a trail just a little ways back that connected the Wagner Grove trail to the upper trail that the book had us use.

The connecting trail had stairs at the top, as well as at the bottom, so was much easier for me than squeezing under the fallen tree.

Getting back to the main route:

There are some fairly long stairs for the steep part of the hill.

After the stairs and a switchback, there is a final bridge and stairs out to Meadow Court.

The entrance to the park at the end of Meadow Court is easy to find in the forward direction.

We always stop at the Little Free Libraries that we pass on our walks. This one is on Sheldon.

This is the top of the Logan steps, which provides a pedestrian shortcut to cut off the big switchback on Highland.

This is what the Logan steps look like from the bottom—a long steep sidewalk with the steps at the top end.

Let’s return now to the downtown portion of the loop:

The plaque commemorating London Nelson’s gift to the Santa Cruz schools should really be replaced with one that spells his name correctly.

The frescoes in the Post Office are quite nice.

I only took photos of two of the frescoes, because the other one is behind a locked gate on Saturdays, when part of the lobby of the post office is closed.

Finally, I’ll toss in a couple more Little Free Libraries:

This one is on High Street, and I did not initially recognize it as a library.

This one is on Escalona.

2021 September 2

Fifty-second weight progress report

This post is yet another weight progress report, continuing the previous one, part of a long series since I started in January 2015.


My weight is about where it was a year ago, though the variance may be higher this summer than last.


I’m pleased to be out of the “overweight” region, but I still have a lot of pandemic pounds to lose. I’d really like to get rid of another 16 pounds, which could take me another 9 months at my current weight-loss rate.

For August I upped my bicycling to an average of 2.3 miles/day—which is better than the previous months, but still too small—about half what I did before the pandemic. Some of that bicycling was going to Audrey Stanley Grove for Santa Cruz Shakespeare staged readings and the season announcement for 2022. This year’s staged readings were ok, but not great—both plays seemed to be in early workshop stages and needed some more rewriting.  The best of the 2019 staged readings (The Formula) is being planned as a full production (a world premiere) for 2022.

I did get in about 225k steps in August (about 7.3k steps a day), slightly up from July . A big chunk of the steps comes from doing the “secret walks” once a week, though last week’s walk did not get written up yet, because we were not able to figure out the reverse route at one point and so cut the walk short.  I walked the confusing part in the forward direction yesterday (plus some more walking on an alternate longer route home, plus walking downtown for dinner, so I got in 17k steps yesterday). I now know which trail to take, and so my wife and I will retry the walk this weekend.

2021 August 29

Good juxtaposition of titles

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:22

There was a good juxtaposition of articles on the Guardian web page today:

‘The smartest person in any room anywhere’ In defence of Elon Musk, by Douglas Coupland‘People wanted to believe’ Reporter who exposed Theranos on Elizabeth Holmes’ trial. As blood testing startup founder’s fraud trial looms, John Carreyrou says hero worship is still a problem in Silicon Valley

So we have a hero-worshipping article right next to a warning that “hero worship is still a problem” and the possible consequences (massive fraud) of hero worship. I wonder whether the pairing was deliberate or accidental.

(The article about Elizabeth Holmes’s trial is worth reading, but the one about Musk is a cringey hagiography—guess which one got top billing by the Guardian.)

2021 August 23

Dragon key holder

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 15:18
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In 3D printed names, I showed a key holder for my home and office keys, which finally failed after 3 years.  My family has been bugging me to replace it anyway—pointing out that it is stupid to have one’s name on a key holder, as it makes it easy for anyone to figure out what doors the keys are for if they get lost.


The key holder cracked at one of the bolt holes. It was still sort of usable (the keys were still constrained by the bolt and the cover plate was not yet coming loose), but it looked bad and would sometimes snag when I was trying to get it out.

I decided to make a new key holder with a dragon motif, based on a sweater from Past Times that has gotten too moth-eaten to wear, but that has a pattern I like.


I took only the dragon part of the pattern, which is 18 pixels by 109 pixels (20 by 111, if you include a 1-pixel white border).

My first job was to transcribe the knitted pattern onto squared paper, then type it into the computer.  I had hoped that OpenSCAD’s “surface” function (which I used successfully for the quantum dot pendant) would let me convert this image easily to a 3D relief, but it did a terrible job, as each black dot became a sharp peak.

I ended up using the Pillow fork of the PIL Python package to manipulate the image and export it in PNG format.

    im_5=im.resize([5*(num_rows+2), 5*(num_cols+2)], Image.NEAREST)

I resized it by a factor of 5, ran it through a “max” filter to spread out the black, then smoothed it.


The PNG file is the negative of original image. Unfortunately, the checkerboard grid does not print well at the size I needed to make the image.


I edited the pixels manually to get a somewhat more printable shape, then did the same sort of spreading and smoothing.

I initially printed just the dragon on a little oval, to see how it would come out, before adding the rest of the key-holder design from the original key holder.  Because OpenSCAD produces huge STL files when the “surface” function is used, I simplified the STL files with


Here are the 3 samples. The top one tried just expanding the pixels to 5×5, the second one did the smoothing, and the third one got rid of the checkerboard patterning.


The first two prints were failures. The top print was done face-down on the glass bad (as I had done the previous key holder), but there was too much spreading on the first layer. The second print failed because the glass plate rotated during the print—I had to add hot glue to it again, to keep it in place.


The final key holder is ok, but it would really look better if I had a smaller nozzle (the 0.4mm nozzle limits the horizontal resolution).


Here is the finished key holder with keys—I expect that it will last another 3 years (though I did use 50% fill this time, to make it a little stronger).

I’ve uploaded the design to

Final 3D-printed “quantum dot”

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 14:44
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In 3D-printed “quantum dot” and 3D-printed “quantum dot” revisited, I wrote about my attempts to 3D-print the image from

I finally got good prints from the resin printer at work (they had to clean the optics on the printer) and a decent print of the “stage jewelry” version on my Monoprice Delta Mini printer. I gave away all the prints (including the failed ones) to the physicists who provided the data, except for the one best print in each size.

The STL files from OpenSCAD are ridiculously large (17.8MB and 19.1MB), but they can be reduced using without much loss of detail to under 1MB.

The OpenSCAD program, scaled data file, and two STL files are available at


Here is the resin print, which is 50mm in diameter. The peaks come out clean and sharp, but my only color choices were black and clear (the only two resins BELS had).


The back of the print has the scaling information, but even with sanding the spots from the supports are annoyingly visible.


The stage jewelry version is twice as big, with a diameter of 100mm (I measured it at 104mm—I think my printer calibration may be a bit off).


Again, the back has the scaling information. Using “concentric” for the bottom layers made for some interesting patterning.


Here are the two quantum-dot pendants side-by-side, to show the relative sizes.

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