Labor Day weekend is less than a week away. Here’s some tasty news chum to get you through the week:
- Relaxen und vatch das blinkenlights! Back in the 1960s, you knew it was a computer if it had loads and loads of blinking lights. In fact, a popular meme (mimeographed educational memo exaggerated) going around read: “ACHTUNG! Alles touristen und non-technischen looken peepers! Das machine control is nicht fur gerfinger-poken und mittengrabben. Oderwise is easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowen fuse, und poppencorken mit spitzensparken. Der machine is diggen by experten only. Is nicht fur geverken by das dummkopfen. Das rubbernecken sightseenen keepen das cotten picken hands in das pockets, so relaxen und watchen das blinkenlights.” I mention this because the Lost in Space computer prop has recently been reconstructed. What caught my eye for this article was (a) that the Lost in Space computer was later used as the Batcomputer, and (b) that the TV shows of the 1960s used surplus, 1950s-era Burroughs B205s whenever they needed something cool and blinkenlighty.
- The Nodpod. Ever attempt to fall asleep on an airplane or vanpool? Your head droops forward and back as your neck gets sore. There’s a proposed solution. The nodpod. The NodPod, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, claims to provide a more comfortable, upright snooze by holding your head at a 90 degree angle. The cushioned sling attaches to your headrest (without blocking the screen of the person sitting behind you) and can be adjusted to keep your noggin snug in place.
- Lint in our Oceans. We’ve all seen lint in the lint trap, and worried about how dryers are destroying our clothes through friction. Washers have the same problem, especially for clothes made of plastic — and polyester is plastic. Microfibers wash off, go into the oceans, and harm sealife. The linked article purports to solve the problem through a magic ball that captures polyester microfibers. Potentially interesting.
- Scary Math. Does math scare you? How about mathemagic involving the (horrors) number of the beast (not his better half, 333, or the neighbor of the beast, 667). I’m talking about Belphegor’s Prime, a supposedly sinister numeric palindrome that has a NUMBER of odd qualities. Or at least that’s what one mathematic trickster would have you believe. The number known as Belphegor’s Prime is exactly, 1,000,000,000,000,066,600,000,000,000,001. For those without the fortitude to stare directly at the infernal number, that’s a one, followed by 13 zeroes, followed by the traditional Number of the Beast, 666, followed by yet another 13 zeroes, and a trailing one. Learn all about it here.
- Kosher Frozen Custard. If you’ve ever been to St. Louis, you likely know about Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard — a classic on Route 66. Did you know it was Kosher? Here’s the story of how that came to be.
- Daugs in Northridge. IHOP has been on the move in recent years: it vacated its long-time location on Reseda Blvd for the former Rosies at Tampa and Nordhoff. So what is happening with the former IHOP? It is becoming Daug House, a restaurant for craft hot dogs. Dog Haus emphasizes community engagement and support through the outreach programs which connects with organizations around the area, such as schools, churches, nonprofit organizations, and little leagues. The menu includes all beef skinless Haus dogs, hand-crafted Haus sausages, a proprietary grind of chuck and brisket Haus burgers, sliders, sides and desserts. While we’re on the valley, here is Eater LA’s list of great Valley restaurants, almost all of which are clustered around Ventura Blvd, because we all know that for the foodie crowd, there is no life in the valley north of US 101.
Last night, we had a Shabbabaque at Temple (“Shabbat” + “Barbeque”). There was a bunch of food leftover, and so I brought some home — the sliced tomatoes and roasted zucchini — and threw it into a crockpot. That’s a great thing to do with leftovers: make a stew (and I intend to suggest formalizing that next year*). Just like at the Shabbabaque, I’ve got loads of leftovers — onsies and twosies of news articles — that don’t make a coherent dish. Perhaps they’ll make a good stew. What do you think?
Jewish Summer Camp
Food and Eating
Local Returns and Departures
Although you’re probably still wondering why an article written in Spring 1995 seems so eerily accurate about Donald Trump today, I’d like to give you some more things that you probably haven’t thought about:
- Gases and the Body. You’ve probably become more and more aware of the microbiome in our bodies. You probably haven’t given a lot of thought to the gasses in our bodies, except when they escape from ends of the digestive track. However, a new study shows how the gases swirling inside our bodies can power our brains and affect the way we act. Some gaseous neurotransmitters (or gasotransmitters) are produced by your organs and tissues. Others—such as nitric oxide (NO), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), methane (CH4), hydrogen (H2), and ammonia (NH3)—are the products of fermentation in your gut by microscopic organisms like bacteria. These tiny molecules feed and help regulate your cells and those of the microbes living inside you—complex relationships that can have much larger consequences. An interesting addendum: biological processes can also be harnessed to turn Carbon Dioxide into a fuel.
- Drywall. It know, it sounds like something out of Surprisingly Awesome: The exciting history of drywall (gypsum board). Gypsum is noncombustible, and compared to other wall materials, like solid wood and plaster, gypsum boards are much lighter and cheaper. As a result, drywall is popular in homes across the U.S.: According to the Gypsum Association, more than 20 billion square feet of drywall is manufactured each year in North America. It’s the staple of a billion-dollar construction industry that depends on quick demolition and building. It can also be deadly.
- Architectural Security. Have you ever closely looked at the architectural characteristics when you are out and about. It turns out that many of them exist to enhance security. “The inside of a building in it of itself can be a security tool,” says Geoff Manaugh, an architecture writer and blogger of BLDGBLOG. “If you don’t think about buildings in terms of security and you don’t think of architecture in terms of burglary, you can really easily overlook these things.”
- The Most Cost Effective Pizza. Due to the nature of geometric math, the larger pizza is almost always the most cost effective pizza. Just remember to refrigerate the leftovers. The math of why bigger pizzas are such a good deal is simple: A pizza is a circle, and the area of a circle increases with the square of the radius.
- Embedded Links. Much as you try not to do it, a determined hacker can design a link such that almost anyone will likely click on it. Human traits like curiosity “cannot be patched” against these kinds of vulnerabilities, says one leading computer science researcher. And so, you can be the smartest security buff in the world, yet researchers could probably still trick you into clicking on a dangerous link.
Moving away from politics for a moment, lets have a moment of silence for some once great malls in the valley:
- Woodland Hills Promenade. The Daily News is reporting that the Woodland Hills Promenade may be moving into the dying mall category. Specifically, Westfield appears to have plans to wall off the interior of the mall, leaving only the exterior facing restaurants and theatres. What they plan to do with the interior is unknown, but there are rumors of turning it into housing. This was once the high-end mall; how the mighty have fallen.
- Laurel Plaza. Also being reported by the Daily News is the closure of the Macys at Laurel Plaza, once the per-eminent mall in North Hollywood. Most of the mall was demolished after 1994 earthquake. It was there in 1955, at the height of the San Fernando Valley postwar building boom, that the May Co. opened its regional headquarters surrounded by an ice skating rink and other stores. Four years earlier, Valley Plaza opened around the corner as the largest shopping mall in the West. Now, both are just fading and dying.
- Panorama Mall. I highlighted this in an earlier post, but it fits the theme. There are plans afoot to revitalize the area around the Panorama Mall, again, once a major shopping center that has seen a significant decline in its anchors. : The long-empty office tower — vacant since the 1994 Northridge Earthquate red-tagged it — is going to be revitialized. Developer Izek Shomof bought the Panorama Towers building last year for $12.5 million and plans a seismic retrofitting to make 192 live-work units and retail space on the ground floor. It’s the centerpiece of several major changes coming to the area. Another developer has purchased the struggling Panorama City mall and plans improvements. An old Montgomery Ward department store is being transformed into a mixed-used living and retail complex that will include a grocery store, movie theater or big-box retailers. No word on what is happening to the former Ohrbachs, which last I recall was an indoor swap meet.
I know my last few posts have been political — it is just that my concerns over the Republican nominee have incited a passion in me that makes me want to ensure his defeat. So a last political note, and then we’ll move on to something different to chew: some news chum about food, medicine, and science.
… to those of you who cannot bring yourself to vote for Hillary because of her character and the character flaws you think you see, please read this article. You’ll learn how you’ve been fed a diet of genetically modified truth, something empty of nutrition and value, and that has spoiled your appetite for something that is actually healthy. Then read this article, and learn why the Clinton that you see in the news is very different than the Clinton those that work with her see, and why those who do work with her are fiercely loyal to her.
… to those who are Republican who still can’t bring themselves to vote for Clinton after seeing the truth — those who deny the truth about Clinton just as you deny climate science and the value of vaccines — then read this post. Learn how, as the DNC and Trump’s behavior has shown, he spits in the face of traditional Republican values, and has in fact ceded the Republican values of patriotism, love of country, belief in the people of this country, belief in the quality of the American military and support for Veterans to the Democratic party. The man is clearly not a Democrat, and does not reflect Republican values, and is not deserving of your support. If you can’t vote for Clinton, then vote for Gary Johnson or abstain for voting for President. Don’t vote for a man that clearly does not deserve to be the leader of your Republican party. (I note I say this as a Democrat, but a Democrat who believes we need a sane and valid Republican party, because it is the diversity of sane political views that leads to the compromises that makes this country strong).
And now, on to something different to chew upon:
- Bell Peppers. Just as I can’t stomach Donald Trump, I cannot stomach bell peppers. Here’s an interesting analysis of the chemical difference between green, yellow, and red bell peppers.
- Dealing with Tinnitus. The din of the election, and the constant irritant of the statements of Donald Trump, can be silenced by turning off the news and Facebook. Not so with the constant din of Tinnitus (which I deal with). Here’s an interesting article on some therapy to deal with Tinnitus.
- Belly Fat. Trump is a fat head, something loaded with empty calories and empty promises. You know what you can do to get rid of that fat. However, one of the problems I’m dealing with — and one which neither candidate addresses — is belly fat. Here’s a good article on the best way to get rid of belly fat.
- Wheat Sensitivity. Listening to the news and watching the behavior of Trump can make you sick to your stomach. So can eating wheat. It now appears that science has confirmed there are wheat sensitivities independent of Celiac disease.
- Risky Behavior. I’ve been pointing out for the last few days how risky it is to vote for Trump. It is also risky to answer quizzes on Facebook. They collect far too much data. For example, just today I saw a meme going around asking people to share where they were born. How many of you have seen a security question asking where the hospital you were born in was located? Be careful what you answer.
- Cybersecurity Risks. We all know how Trump has invited a foreign government to interfere in our elections by hacking into his opponent’s parties servers. What else could they hack into? Voting machines? 3-D printers? The latter is a real risk, for there are tons of risks that we can’t see in 3-D printing.
- Planned Obsolescense. Donald Trump has recently taken to discounting the opinions of respected generals and Gold Star parents. He would probably encourage the business sense of another famous general, General Electric, who specifically designed light bulbs to burn out. This turns out to be a big deal for LED bulbs, who have lifetimes measured in, well, human lifetimes. But don’t worry. LED manufacturers are now designing LEDs to intentionally fail early.
Hmmm, I guess I do have politics on my mind after all.
This week I’ve seen a number of stories about changes in the San Fernando Valley and environs. I’ll note the first item is tangentially only related to the valley — but is area related and so neat I had to include it:
- Here’s a neat animated map that shows how Los Angeles grew as a city. I’m not sure there are other cities that have growth like this — certainly not equivalents such as San Francisco or New York. It shows why, in many ways, LA is unique.
- In Reseda, the Reseda Theatre — near the corner of Reseda and Sherman Way, and long long long time shuttered…. may be coming back to life as a Laemmle Multiplex. This is great news — it will help change the nature of the neighborhood in a good way — in a non-Caruso way — bringing in supporting businesses and perhaps pushing out some of the pawn shops and tattoo element. The Los Angeles City Council last week approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with developer Thomas Safran & Associates for a mixed-use project on the site near the corner of Reseda Boulevard and Sherman Way. The plan calls for a new Reseda Laemmle Theater at 18443 Sherman Way with 34 senior citizen units on top of and behind the theater building. The Reseda theater will probably have six screens.
- In Panorama City, change is coming: the long-empty office tower — vacant since the 1994 Northridge Earthquate red-tagged it — is going to be revitialized. Developer Izek Shomof bought the Panorama Towers building last year for $12.5 million and plans a seismic retrofitting to make 192 live-work units and retail space on the ground floor. It’s the centerpiece of several major changes coming to the area. Another developer has purchased the struggling Panorama City mall and plans improvements. An old Montgomery Ward department store is being transformed into a mixed-used living and retail complex that will include a grocery store, movie theater or big-box retailers. No word on what is happening to the former Ohrbachs, which last I recall was an indoor swap meet. This is yet another area ripe for revitalization.
- In Santa Clarita, it is being reported that Congress wants to turn the St. Francis Dam Site into a National Monument. Specifically, the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to establish a national memorial and monument in honor of the hundreds of victims of the catastrophe. Congressman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) authored the bill, and the Daily News reports that similar legislation may soon be introduced in the Senate. The memorial would be funded by private donations and would establish a 440-acre national monument administered by the National Park Service. Of course, the dam is the inspirations behind one of my favorite Christmas shows ever. Just remember: All dams leak.
In closing, some parting words from William Mulholland: “I can deal with the shit. It’s the farts that wear me down.”
Recently, I have seen various things that remind me of how society has changed since my youth — whether it is for the better, I’ll leave to you decide. It is markedly a loss of innocence and a growth of awareness.
- When I was up at camp Friday night, I noticed in the dining hall a brit that all campers had to sign. This evidently has been part of camp for the last (mumble) years since the current director came, and I think is it a good thing. It requires all campers to acknowledge that camp is a mutually supportive safe space, that embraces individuality. Back when I went to camp in the 1970s, we had that feeling (although there were a few bullies), and I believed that everyone came away with the impression that camp was a safe space. I certainly did, and I was one of the more individualist campers out there. But today we have to say it and remind people — a sad commentary on not only the prevalence of bullying, but the acceptance of bullying in some circles.
- Back in the 1960s, the Smothers Brothers had a routine about updating old musical standards that reflected societal mores no longer in vogue — the example I remember was the all-white MacNamera’s Band requiring integration. The other day I read a review of Beauty and the Beast in the Daily Cal that captured another thing people might have missed, best embodied by this paragraph: “At this point, most audiences — and, indeed most Americans — know the plot of “Beauty and the Beast”: Belle, a brilliant woman utterly suffocated by the patriarchy and her small town, escapes marrying a misogynistic, violent, entitled alpha male (Gaston), and ends up being held captive by another man in his castle. ” The reviewer goes on to castigate the show as outdated, but you’ll find a large number of Broadway successes (and even Shakespearean successes) have such equivalent dated values, from Merchant of Venice to How to Succeed to Flower Drum Song to … you name it. My comment is more on the increased awareness we have of these issues — our increased recognition of art that accepts violence and perpetuates stereotypes, or that appropriates culture. Again, a loss of innocence from our youth, but perhaps for a good reason.
- The third item is also from the Daily Cal, this time looking at the Venmo culture. Again, here’s the key paragraph: “Short Venmo transactions — supposedly aimed at discreet, cold-cut convenience — were enough to make me feel left out. Something about the nature of their publicized transactions screamed: “We don’t want to announce to the world that we hung out, but we still want you to see and imagine what we did.” And that’s when it struck me: We, as Millennials, have entered a whole new territory of humblebragging.” Through Facebook and Venmo and Twitter, we’ve entered the era where we regularly state our status by sharing our activities, humbling our friends who cannot afford such luxuries. I’ll admit I’m guilty of that with my theatre reviews — it is hard to know the balance. But again, the issue here is awareness — we’re increasingly aware of when privilege comes into play.
- That brings me back to camp. While at camp — with this increased sensitivity — I was realizing that most of our Jewish summer camps are camps of privilege — just due to the nature of the makeup of Judaism as predominately white. There are black Jews and hispanic Jews and Jews in lower socioecomic spectra, but what do we do to reach out to them to provide that camp experience — that safe shared space. If they came, would it be humble-bragging of our position? I don’t know, but it would be good to find a way to reach out.
Finally, to finish off clearing the links, here’s the potpourri of what remains:
- From the Umm, No Department: Forbes has an article on Dinner in the Sky, a dining experience that features a 200-foot-high crane that hoists a 22-person table 150 feet into the air, where “sky chefs” and flighty mixologists serve a four- or five-course meal as you dangle over LA Center Studios in Downtown LA. Just looking at the pictures gives me the willies.
- From the Color Me Home Department: It turns out the color you paint a room can have a significant effect on your home’s resale value. Lifehacker recently shared a study conducted by Zillow that analyzed photos from over 50,000 sold homes. Paying close attention to the colors of main rooms like the kitchen, bathroom, dining room, and living room, Zillow found that homes with yellow kitchens sold for around $1360 above their expected values, while homes with white kitchens fell an average of $82 short of their estimated values. The data also showed that homes with oatmeal or beige-colored bathroom walls came in $283 over value, while light green to khaki-colored bedrooms yielded an average of $1331 above expected value, and terracotta living rooms translated to around $793 less when all was said and done. One of the biggest discrepancies was with dining room paint colors, where shades of purple could put sellers $1122 above expected values, but certain shades of grey could place them $1122 below estimates.
- From the Free Concerts Department: If you have used Ticketmaster, free tickets (or at least some discounts) may be in your future. Log into your Ticketmaster account, and look for active vouchers. I did, and I had quite a number. However, all of the current free concerts were sold out; even if they weren’t, nothing was of interest. I might use their ticket discounts, however, for a future Hollywood Bowl event.
- From the Card Check Department: The DOD may be getting rid of the Common Access Card. It turns out that the barcode on the front contains PII, unencrypted.
- From the I Gotta Go Department: Do you think we should have this at our next Golf Tournament? A golf club that you can pee into for those times on the course when you just gotta go.
- From the Paying Your Dues Department: Our Men’s Club has eliminated dues, going instead to voluntary contributions — and it has been successful. We’ve tried to persuade our congregation, but no luck so far. Here’s an article on Ner Simcha, a Westlake congregation that has bit the bullet and eliminated dues. They are going on faith that it will work. At Temple Ner Simcha, everything will be free, including classes, services, events and High Holidays.
- From the Speed Monitoring Department: Have you been driving down the freeway, and seen a “Speed Observed by Aircraft” sign, and wondered if it was just a decoy. Wonder no more: It isn’t, but your odds are low of being caught unless you’re stupid.
- From the God Bless You Department: It appears the Ashman/Menken musical based on the Vonnegut novel “God Bless You Mr. Rosewater” may be revived. With James Earl Jones. Wow.