Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Building a Chain of Chum, Chum

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Mar 04, 2017 @ 10:22 am PDT

Observation StewOver the past few weeks, I’ve accumulated quite a bit of news chum (that is, links and articles that I found interesting) that refuse to theme or create a longer post. So let’s just clear the chum, and for fun, let’s see if we can build a chain connecting one article to the other. To start the screw, so to speak, let’s begin with…

  • High Tech Condoms. I don’t know where I’m going on this, but I know what’s coming, excuse me, cumming. I mean, this brings the Internet of Things to its logical climax. I mean, it’s thrust — what it pounds into you — is that not everything needs to be connected. I’m talking, of course, about the i.Con — the First Internet Connected Condom. I’m sure that you, like me, is asking — but why? According to the article: The i.Con tracks speed, “average thrust velocity,” duration, skin temperature, girth, calories burned (no joke) and frequency of sessions. Most importantly for many, no doubt, will be how a wearer stacks up to the average and “best” performers — though a sexual partner will likely have an insight or two about that. Statistics are tracked via an i.Con app. The i.Con is also supposed to be able to sense sexually transmitted diseases [but what if the technology gets a virus?].  The ring will come with a one-year warranty and have a micro-USB charging port to provide up to eight hours of juice after a single hour of being plugged in. Supposedly “all data will be kept anonymous, but users will have the option to share their recent data with friends, or, indeed the world.”
  • Security of Medical Data. Of course, we all know our medical data is secure, right? Right? RIGHT? Well, not really. I found an interesting article this week on Medjack, a medical trojan. The problem is that the proliferation of literally insecurable medical systems running orphaned operating systems with thousands of know, unpatchable defects provides a soft target for identity thieves looked to pillage your health records. One trojan, Medjack, enters healthcare facilities by penetrating these badly secured diagnostic and administrative systems and then fans out across the network, cracking patient record systems. These records are used for tax fraud and identity theft, and to steal narcotics prescriptions that can be filled from online pharmacies and then resold on the black market.  Security firm Trapx says that “every time” they visit a healthcare facility, they find Medjack infections running rampant on the network, using exploits designed to take over Windows 2000 systems to seize control of the creaking, non-upgradeable systems that are inevitably found in these facilities.
  • Google Maps Data. Speaking of data, have you ever wondered how Google Maps gets its accurate traffic data. Of course, the answer is from you.  The Google Maps app on Android and iOS constantly send back real-time traffic data to Google. The data received from any particular smartphone is then compared to data received from other smartphones in the same area, and the higher the number of Google Maps users in an area, the more accurate the traffic prediction. Using the historical data it has compiled over the years and traffic data from mobile devices using the Google Maps app, the company is able to create models for traffic predictions for different periods. For example, the modelling techniques would be able to predict that certain roads would experience more traffic during rains than other times of the year. Google also takes traffic reports from transportation departments, road sensors, and private data providers to keep its information up to date. The accuracy of location data is unmatched only because of its users, since the billion Google Maps users on the road act as sensors for the app, which make the service as precise as possible.
  • Bus Disposal. One way to avoid traffic is to take the bus. But have you ever wondered what happens with buses when they die? Here’s an interesting article on what happens to Muni Buses in San Francisco when they are retired. Some, of course, are scrapped. Others are reincarnated as mobile showers for the homeless, airport shuttles and odd uses all across the Bay Area — even after accruing more than 400,000 miles on the road apiece. That’s due to the ingenuity of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s 300 or so mechanics. This all occurs in Muni’s Islais Creek Yard, a bus yard in San Francisco’s south side, that serves as a staging area for buses that are set to be sold, scrapped or otherwise discarded. One of the more interesting conversions, after the bus was stripped of useful parts, was for the nonprofit Lava Mae, which converted four old Muni buses into mobile showers for San Francisco’s homeless residents.
  • A Flight of Angels. Of course, talk of buses takes us to other forms of transit such as trains. One unique train that existed in Los Angeles is coming back to life, again. It appears that Angels Flight, a tiny funicular in downtown LA, will be running again by Labor Day. A nonprofit has been in charge of the attraction for more than a decade, but a new private operator, ACS Infrastructure Development, Inc., is taking over for the next 30 years.  The funicular is over 100 years old, and has been inoperative since 2013 due to an accident.
  • Clintons on Broadway. Of course, talk of trains takes us to subways, and no where are subways more popular than in New York. However, I doubt that either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton take the subway when they go to Broadway. Since losing the election, Hillary has been regularly attending Broadway shows, usually to a very receptive crowd. At least four times since November. At each theater appearance, Mrs. Clinton is greeted as a vanquished hero — standing ovations, selfies, shouted adulation. Mrs. Clinton has been attending Broadway shows for years, often when she has had a personal connection to an artist, a producer, or to a show’s subject matter. As for Obama, he was seen on Broadway taking his daughter, Malia, to “The Price”. The daddy-daughter duo headed backstage after the play — a new revival of the Arthur Miller classic — and met with the cast, including Mark Ruffalo, Danny DeVito, Tony Shalhoub and Jessica Hecht.  Contrast this with Trump and Pence. Since the election, only Pence has been to Broadway — to see Hamilton, and we all know what happened there.
  • Sushi. If you’re going to a show, naturally  you have dinner first? How about sushi? Here’s an interesting history of Sushi in the United States. Although there were a few restaurants experimenting with raw fish in 1963 in New York, Los Angeles was the first American home of authentic Japanese sushi. In 1966, a Japanese businessman named Noritoshi Kanai brought a sushi chef and his wife from Japan, and opened a nigiri sushi bar with them inside a Japanese restaurant known as Kawafuku in LA’s Little Tokyo. The restaurant was popular, but only with Japanese immigrants, not with American clientele. However, as more sushi spots opened in Little Tokyo, word got back to Japan that there was money to be made in America. Young chefs, tired of the rigorous and restrictive traditional culture of sushi making in Japan, struck out on their own in LA. The first sushi bar outside of the Little Tokyo neighborhood popped up in 1970, next to the 20th Century Fox studio. And then came Shōgun, … and you can predict the rest.
  • … and Beer. If you are having sushi, you are likely having beer, wine, or saki. These beverages come in bottles of colored glass, and have you wondered how glass gets its color? Here’s an infographic explaining how different chemicals result in different glass colors.
  • … on a Table. Additionally, you are likely sitting at a table to eat that sushi and drink your beverage. Speaking of tables, here’s a collection of interesting periodic tables.
  • Plus Size Fashions. To finish off the chain, if you eat too much at that table, you get fat. We know a lot about size acceptance for women, but what about men (and us CBGs — chubby bearded guys). Here’s an interesting article on plus-size fashion… for men.

 

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Everything Old is New Again (or Refurbished)

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Feb 17, 2017 @ 11:07 am PDT

Let’s start clearing out some of the non-Trumponia news. In this collection of links, we look at things from the past that may be getting new leases on life:

  • The Triforium. Those outside of Los Angeles probably have no idea what I mean when I say “the Triforium”; hell, most younger Angelinos have no idea either. The Triforium is a art installation that goes back to when I was in high school, a “space-age-looking pointy edifice that stands six stories tall and is covered with 1,494 colorful lights that once blinked in time to music blasted from its four gigantic speakers”. It never quite worked as intended, and for most of its life has been a barely or non-operative artwork in a below-ground mall only frequented by those nearby on jury duty when they go to lunch. But that may be changing. The Triforium Project, co-founded by musician Claire Evans, Tom Carroll, host of the popular local web show “Tom Explores Los Angeles,” urban planner Tanner Blackman and Jona Bechtolt, Evans’ bandmate in the pop-dance group YACHT,  has a plan to “replace the computer system entirely with something that is network simple, easy to update, open-sourced and remotely accessible so that we can turn the instrument into something genuinely interactive for residents of the 21st century”. The improvements are now in the approval process.
  • Downtown Las Vegas Lights. Derek Stevens in Las Vegas is a man with a mission. He’s purchased one of the original blocks in downtown LV, and is tearing down and revamping the buildings, including Fremont Street’s Las Vegas Club casino and several neighboring properties, including Mermaids and Topless Girls of Glitter Gulch. All told, it adds up one entire city block that the Stevens brothers intend to demolish and build up anew. The problem? This block is home to a number of vintage neon signs that feel pretty essential to the character of the street, including Vegas Vickie, the kicky neon cowgirl that debuted with Bob Stupak’s Glitter Gulch casino in 1980; the sign for Herb Pastor’s Golden Goose casino, circa 1974; and the giant “Las Vegas Club” letters themselves, which have been part of the streetscape for more than 60 years. However, unlike many casino owners, Stevens cares about LV history — and is preserving the signs and planning to operate them — in some way — going forward.  According to Stevens, “The signs are going to be part of the design. Whether they’ll be internal or external, I’m not quite sure yet. … I’m a pretty big fan of Vegas history. I don’t see anything getting the wrecking ball.”
  • Nokia Candy Bars. For the youngsters out there, I’m not referring to the candy bars that are more expensive than the street drugs, at least according to our President. Rather, the candy bar phone — the Nokia 3310 — which the new owners of the cell phone name plan to bring back, at least in Europe. This was an extremely reliable, long-battery-life pre-iPhone cell phone, where you only had a numeric keypad (but you had a great version of the game “snake”). The phone, originally released in 2000 and in many ways beginning the modern age of mobiles, will be sold as a way of getting lots of battery life in a nearly indestructible body. The new incarnation of the old 3310 will be sold for just €59, and so likely be pitched as a reliable second phone to people who fondly remember it the first time around. It will be revealed at Mobile World Congress later this month. For those who want to know where this fits historically, here’s a chart of all the Nokia dumpphones released from the first one in the early 1980s until 2006.
  • LP Records. We all know by now that LP records have made a comeback (it seems everything old is new again, especially analog stuff). So what type of record collector are you? This article attempts to find out, defining 7 types of record collectors. As for me, depending on the genre and artist, I’m either a lifer, a completest, or a casual.
  • iPod Classics. For some, the iPod Classic is seeing a resurgence; for some, it has never left. For those of us using them, something that periodically resurfaces is the article on how to replace the hard drive with SSD devices. It just resurfaced again. The only problem with the article is that Tarkan moved his site with the boards to http://www.iflash.xyz. These are for iPod Classics 5G and later, and he has boards that can accomodate a wide variety of SSD, including SD cards and micro-SD cards. I’ve been using the iFlash Dual in two of my Classics for over a year now (each is at 512GB) with no problems. We plan to upgrade at least one more iPod Classic (a 7.5G). We also have a 80GB 6G, but we can only take that to 128GB. PS: If you are in the Southern California area and need someone to do the mods, I may have a contact for you.

 

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Bringing Things Back

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jan 14, 2017 @ 6:33 am PDT

Today’s news chum post looks at a number of things from the past (some of which are being brought back):

P.S.: While working on this post, I was reading my FB Pages feed, and I discovered that Orange Empire Railway Museum (FB) is bringing back my buddy Thomas and his friends in April (April 1-2, 8-9). This was a surprise to me; upon investigation, I discovered that OERM is now your only place to see Thomas in SoCal, and that he’ll be back as usual in November as well. We can’t make it to volunteer in April as our schedule is too booked up (you’ll see why in my theatre post tomorrow), but you should if you’re into the Really Useful Engine. We’ll be there as usual in November.

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Bigger and Better in Los Angeles

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Jan 12, 2017 @ 11:56 am PDT

I’m doing my best to limit myself to one political musing per day, and I’ve met my quota. So let’s turn to my city and county, Los Angeles, and see how it is on the brink of some big changes:

  • Biggest IKEA in the US. Come February, the current Ikea near the Colony Theatre is closing, and a gigantic (shall we say “yuuuuge”) IKEA is opening down the street. The store will be 456,000 square feet, nearly twice as large as the previous Burbank store, replacing a total of 19 different storage buildings. The store will also include parking for 1,700 vehicles, a childcare facility, and a 600-seat restaurant significantly larger than the dining area at the existing Burbank location. The store will display the whole range of products that Ikea has to offer. Shoppers will be issued Firhot Flare Guns upon entry, together with Gaarmaan GPS maps and whistles to call exclusive IKEA Doog robots if shoppers get lost.
  • The Chargers Return. The San Diego Chargers are coming to Los Angeles, where they will be known as the San Diego Chargers of Los Angeles. Perhaps I should say “returning”, after all, they played their first season here before giving up and heading south in more ways than one. The general reaction of most people in the city is “yawn”. Inglewood is happy, because they will have even more nights with “home” football games. I’m not sure whether they will be successful in the move. I’d wish them the same success as the Rams, but I’m trying my best not to be nasty. Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders are planning to run to Vegas and have a quick nuptual presided over by Elvis (who is getting a street named after him, but that will be a different post)
  • A Magical Duplication. There is an old convoluted, invitation-only, black-tie house in the Hollywood Hills called the Magic Castle, operated by the family of Milt Larsen, where it serves as the home to the Academy of Magical Arts. Evidently, an unknown side-show magician who was once on TV has indicated more slight-of-hand magicians are needed in Washington DC; as a result, the Larsen family has decided to open a second Magic Castle. The new castle will be near Santa Barbara and called the “Magic Castle Cabaret”, and will overlook a lake and nature preserve in Montecito (the property formerly housed the Casa del Sol restaurant and events center). The structure is about a fifth the size of the Hollywood castle and will feature a 50-seat theater and a lounge.
  • Ewoks in the Park. George Lucas has announced that he has finally selected where he will put his musuem of Star Wars Ephemera and randomly collected art works. Exposition Park. As if that park didn’t have enough museums and attractions with the California ScienCenter, the African American Museum, the Rose Garden, the Natural History Museum, the Space Shuttle Pavilion, plus an LAUSD elementary school, the Coliseum,  and the new LA Soccer Stadium. There’s plenty of space and parking. Right?

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Coming and Going in the Southland

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Oct 14, 2016 @ 5:54 pm PDT

userpic=van-nuysToday’s news chum post has nothing to do with this year’s election, even though Hillary Clinton just left the Southland after visiting her ATM, and the Donald wouldn’t set foot again in the land of fruits and nuts, as temptation might get the better of him. Instead, it focuses on non-candidate things in Southern California that have been coming or going:

  • Coming: A Hotel at CSUN. It appears there are plans to build a smallish hotel on the grounds of CSUN, roughly where the Orange Grove Bistro is now. The hotel plan is to feature 150 rooms and will be between four or five stories. The restaurant that will be either within or attached to the hotel lobby; will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner services to both hotel guests and students.  It will serve a greater purpose for lecturers, families of students, members of the CSU Board of Trustees, visiting athletes and recreation and management tourism majors. The developer will be the source of funding for the hotel if approved; CSUN contributes only the ground lease. The idea arose because the Bistro building, as one of the oldest on campus, will require renovation soon and there are no funds for repair or replacement.
  • Going: Irvine Meadows. The last concerts are playing out, and soon Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre will be no more. Irvine Meadows was built in 1980 by the Irvine Company and it opened in 1981. It was the largest amphitheatre in Orange County, with 10,418 reserved seats and 5,667 on the lawn. In 1981, when it opened, the amphitheatre was part of Lion Country Safari. In November 1984, after more than 14 years in business, Lion Country Safari closed permanently. In 1986, part of the former Safari Camp became Wild Rivers Waterpark. The water park operated until September 2011. It’s now the site of Los Olivos, the largest apartment complex in Orange County, with 1,750 units. More overpriced apartments are planned for the site of the amphitheater when its lease runs out in 2017. The Lion Country Safari name has long been erased. Moulton Parkway adjacent to the site is now called Irvine Center Drive. (It’s still Moulton Parkway after Lake Forest Drive.)
  • Coming: Porter Ranch Statues. Returning, however, is a bit more precise. For decades, the statues of two waving mounted cowboys at Devonshire and Tampa had greeted visitors outside The Porter Ranch, a Northridge development of model homes in what is now the neighborhood of Porter Ranch. In the 1980s, they disappeared. Turns out the fabled cowboys had been carted off to Leona Valley near Palmdale. Now, after a full restoration, the Porter Ranch statues are back. They will be shown at their temporary digs at Valley Relics Museum before being installed in a 50-acre Los Angeles park being built by Toll Bros. home builders.
  • Going: Jerry’s Deli (nee Solley’s) in Woodland Hills. After 43 years, Jerry’s Famous Deli, at 21857 Ventura Blvd., will serve up its last order of lox, bagels and cream cheese on Sunday, 10/16. The restaurant opened in 1973 as part of the Solley’s Delicatessen chain. Studio City-based Jerry’s Famous Deli, Inc. bought the Ventura Boulevard eatery and one on Van Nuys Boulevard in 1996. The Van Nuys store retained the Solley’s name but closed in June of last year. Why is it closing? The Ventura Boulevard deli still made money but there was a problem with the landlord, San Diego-based Retail Opportunity Investments Corp.
  • Coming: Massive Development at the Promenade. An enormous new mixed use development could be on its way to the site of a declining shopping mall in Woodland Hills. Plans filed with the city Thursday call for the construction of 1,432 residential units, along with two hotels with a combined 572 guest rooms at what is currently Warner Center’s Promenade mall. The plans also propose 244,000 square feet of retail space, including a grocery and drug store; more than 600,000 square feet of offices; and an entertainment and sports center. It is unclear the timing of this construction, or the impact on the few businesses, and the remaining AMC theatre, on the property (which have longer leases). The AMC building is a separate building; it could remain while construction goes on around it.
  • Going: The Sports Arena. The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena — now a mass of dusty concrete and steel — is slowly being razed with little public outcry. It’s a finale that characterizes the city’s apathy for a 57-year-old has-been that plodded through the decades in the shadow of glitzier venues. Soon to rise in its place is a 22,000-seat stadium that will host a Major League Soccer franchise. It was the first home of the Los Angeles Lakers, shelter to the Clippers for 15 years, and the dutiful servant of UCLA and USC basketball teams. At least it didn’t become a ghost arena.

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Los Angeles: Going, Going, Gone

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Sep 17, 2016 @ 8:07 am PDT

userpic=van-nuysThis collection of news chum has coalesced around the theme of Los Angeles — in particular, some well-known (or somewhat well-known) Los Angeles landmarks that are either gone or seemingly threatened… or coming back in different incarnations.

 

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Some Tasty Afternoon Stew

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Sep 10, 2016 @ 4:20 pm PDT

Observation StewNow that the highway pages are done, and the water heater is repaired, I can start some stew cooking on the stove. Loads of interesting articles in here. I’ll group them the best I can.

Things Dying and Dead, But Then Again….

  • The iPod Classic. Nine years ago, Apple introduced the iPod Classic. Last week, they introduced the iPhone 7. The iPod Classic had 160GB in a spinning hard disk, for $349. The iPhone 7 can have 256GB for almost $850. Is this the replacement for the Classic, finally? Or, is it still better to get a 7th Gen iPod Classic off eBay, or from that drawer you’ve been hiding it in, and replace the hard disk with a Tarkan board, some solid state memory (I put in 512GB), and keep the classic. Going the Tarkan route is less than $400, and gives you more memory for about the same cost. Oh, and it gives you a 3.5mm headphone jack as well, so you needn’t pay for adapters or lost AirPods. Then again, the headphone companies don’t care. They’ve got product to sell you.
  • The Colony Theatre. Oh, the poor Colony. We thought you would survive. Now you’re having to rent out your space just to stay alive. And your poor subscribers: We’re left holding the tickets for shows that we will never see (literally — there’s no way I’m gonna see Patty Duke in Mrs. Lincoln — both are dead). Will the Colony come back? At this point, I’m highly skeptical. What they need is new artistic direction, a new board, and a new way of thinking about things. Their collapse shows the perils of keeping the same leadership for far too long.
  • The Advertising Jingle. Perhaps you hadn’t noticed, but the advertising jingle is dead. Who killed it? Cover artists and the licensing of modified lyrics, that’s what. Those are more easily recognizable. So, our hats are off to you, “I’d like to teach the world to sing”, “Like a good neighbor”, and “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz”. We’re just left with the Empire Carpeting jingle.

Los Angeles Development

Sensitivity and Culture

  • Tiki Bars. Here’s an interesting question: If you were going to add a third arm to your body, where would you add it? Whoops, wrong question. Try this: Are Tiki Bars offensive to Polynesians? NPR endeavored to figure that out. It is hard to know: Tiki bars are about as close to something really Polynesian as the Chinese Food you got downtown in the 1950s and 1960s was to real Chinese food.
  • Napalm Girl. The furor yesterday was over Facebook and “Napalm Girl” — the famous photo of the napalmed Vietnamese girl. First it was taken down. Facebook banned it. Then they reversed themselves. It makes me think about a debate that occurred many many years ago when that photo was first published: Should photos like this be published? When does news value override sensitivity? These questions are still relevant today.

And the Rest…

 

 

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News Chum Stew: Onesies and Twosies

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Aug 20, 2016 @ 1:39 pm PDT

Observation StewLast 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

The Body

History

What’s Left

 

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