October 31, 2013
Halloween 2013

Cruft Manor returned to our Halloween traditions and had our busiest year ever. We once again had plenty of full size candies, made a listing of costumes, and made a timelapse movie.

300 Full Size Candies, ready for the trick or treaters!

Our pumpkins looked great this year.

The outside of the house, with our terrifying Dalek guarding the door.

My daughter Mira, as a Kyoshi Warrior from Last Airbender with her boyfriend, Nick.

Best costume of the night: The boy as the Death Star!

Great couple costume of the House & Carl from Up.

Once again, I made a timelapse movie of handing out candy to the kids. Unfortunately, the GoPro camera stopped before the end when it ran out of batteries. I'll need to rig up a power supply in the future.

Halloween 2013 - Timelapse from Michael Pusateri on Vimeo.

When people come to the door, I ask every person what they were dressed as and wrote down their answers. I am careful to ask what they are, accepting their answers rather than interpreting what I see.

I now have nine years of data to compare, going back though 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Here are the top ten costumes for the last nine years compared.

Our biggest amount of visitors in recorded history of Cruft Manor. The same generic costumes like ninja, witch, and cat popped to the top again. A brand new entrant to the top 10 were the Monster High Doll costumes. These are very popular with the young ladies. Lots of homemade costumes for the older kids which is good to see. Since I speak with every trick or treater, I get time to really look at their costumes and talk about them. I'm never in a rush and want each kid to be able to take their time. They are often paralyzed with indecision when faced with the choice of full size candies.

Almost everyone had a costume this year, but we still ran into a few without costumes. We were prepared this year and had masks on hand to hand out. The costumeless only got a candy if they took a mask and put it on. People were kinda excited about this.

After giving out ~300 full size candies, we ran out a little after 9PM and closed up. A few kids came by as I was shutting down and they got microwave popcorn packets.

This year's complete costume list of 264 people:

3 50s Girl
1 80s Girl
1 80s Witch
1 Accident Victim
1 Airline Pilot
2 Alice
1 Anonymous
1 Apple Juice
1 Army Man
1 Aurora
1 Ballerina Zombie Roadkill
3 Batgirl
2 Batman
2 Belle
1 Black & White Waldo
1 Black Swan
1 Bloody Mary
1 Boo (Monsters, Inc.)
1 Bumblebee
1 Bush
2 Buzz Lightyear
1 Candy Corn
3 Captain America
1 Carl from Up
1 Carlos Beltran
8 Cat
1 CERT Person
1 Cheetah
1 Cholo
1 Chucky
2 Cinderella
1 Clark Kent
1 Clone Trooper
3 Clown
1 Construction Worker
1 Cookie Monster
1 Cowgirl
1 Crash Test Dummy
1 Crayola
1 Creeper
1 Dark Alice
1 Death
1 Demigod
4 Devil
1 Doctor Zombie
1 Dodgers Fan
1 Doll
1 Dragon
1 Easy E (in blackface)
1 Elmo
1 Enderman - Minecraft
2 Evil Jester
1 Ezio of Assassin's Creed
1 Fairy
2 Finn from Adventuretime
1 Fionna from Adventuretime
1 Fireman
1 Frankenstein
1 Gangster
1 Ghost
2 Giraffee
1 Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
1 Green Lantern
1 Grillin & Chillin
2 Grim Reaper
1 Halo Soldier
1 Hellraiser
1 Hermoinie
1 Hobo
1 Hobo Angel
1 Hockey Player
1 Indian
2 Iron Man
1 Iron Man III
1 Jack Skelington
2 Jailbreaker
2 Jake the Pirate
1 Jasmine
2 Jason Voorhees
1 Jester
1 Joker
1 Katara from Last Airbender
1 Katniss
1 Killer
2 Killer Clown
1 Kyoshi Warrior from Last Airbender
5 Ladybug
2 Leatherface
1 Lightning McQueen
3 Luigi
1 Mad Scientist
1 Masquerade
1 Master Chief (Halo)
1 Matrix Person
1 Medusa
1 Merman
1 Michael Myers
1 Mickey Mouse
1 Mime
1 Minion
4 Minnie Mouse
1 Miss Captain America
1 Monk
1 Monster
7 Monster High Doll
2 Mummy
4 Nerd
11 Ninja
1 Ninja Lord
1 Nun
1 Old Lady
1 Old Man
1 Owl
1 Pink Goth Pirate
1 Pink Power Ranger
6 Pirate
1 Poker Cards
2 Power Ranger
2 Princess
1 Prisoner
1 Raggedy Ann
3 Rapunzel
1 Reaper
1 Red Queen
1 Rick from the Walking Dead
1 Robin
1 Roman Empress
1 Russian Soldier Alien
1 Sailor Venus
1 Saka from Last Airbender
1 Santa
1 Scarecrow
1 Scary Clown
2 Scream
1 Shadow
1 Singer Bumblebee
1 Skateboarder
2 Skeleton
1 Skeleton Motorcycle Rider
1 Snow White
1 Soldier
1 Spidergirl
2 Spiderman
1 Squid
1 Storm Trooper
1 Superman
1 Taco
2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
1 Teenage Zombie
1 The Death Star
1 The Doctor (11th)
1 The Doctor (9th)
1 The House from Up
1 Tinkerbell
1 Transformer
1 USC Student
7 Vampire
1 Vietnam Soldier
1 Warrior's Girl
2 Wednesday Adams
2 Werewolf
10 Witch
1 Wizard
1 Wonder Woman
1 Woody
1 X-Ray Patient Gone Wrong
4 Zombie
1 Zombie Cheerleader
1 Zombie Skeleton

Posted by michael at 11:30 PM
October 07, 2013
The Gate

I tap my hand on The Gate, my ring connects, and the sound travels up the hillside.

Drinking from my bottle, I think about slowing down my heart, and look down the canyon, toward the city.

Cyclists find challenge in riding uphill. Sounds a little silly, but the tough work of riding up a steep hill is the goal for many in the quest to get better.

The Gate is at the end of a short route I've ridden over a hundred times. My friends and I call it Tour de Steve, in honor of our friend and coach, who loves to take people up it. Others know it as Paso Alto to Glen Oaks Dead End.

The route is about 2.5 miles at an average grade of ~5%. In cycling terms, it's challenging, but not insane. "A good training climb" is how most people view it. The different parts have names in my mind that only I know. In my mind there's the "veteran straight", the "quick down", the "hot bend", and "not quite corner".

I've ridden up in group, dragging new riders along, encouraging them upwards. I've ridden up when feeling full of energy and when my muscles are cramping. I've ridden up in the pouring rain, the blazing summer heat, enveloped in fog, and in the fading light of dusk. I've ridden up with my heart heavy from one of the inevitable gut punches that life can bring. I've ridden up after surgeries and broken bones.

Climbing up to the The Gate is part of many of my rides. It's how I measure myself. With all the technology someone can use, nothing is more revealing than how you actually feel while testing yourself.

I rarely ride up with others. It's a ride I do when alone. Sometimes for speed, sometimes as a warm-up to the rest of my day, sometimes simply to see if I'm healed enough make it. Sometimes it's simple to see if I can will myself to do something hard instead of taking the easy road home.

The point is to ride it, regardless how I'm feeling. To push myself, even though no one else cares or is even watching. The climb is just about me, no one else.

Everyone needs a Gate to reach. A way to see how you are doing, without comparing yourself to others, or caring what others think. In today's connected world, many are obsessed with sharing and comparing everything publicly. Looking at the relentless oversharing that make up much of our personal interactions, it seem to me that rarely do people have a private test. A truly personal way to check themselves.

In the end, it's about how you feel about yourself, and not about anyone else and what they do or think. Getting to this is perhaps the toughest climb of all.

Posted by michael at 11:07 AM