Things That We’ll Be Seeing Soon

userpic=theatre2This collection of news chum all has to do with things that we may (or may not) be seeing soon:

  • A Googie Sharkey’s. Twain’s Coffee Shop in Studio City has been shuttered for a year, with reports being that Sharkey’s, a wonderful Fresh-Mex chain, was moving in. The Twain’s building was clearly a Denny’s in some former life. Anyway, pictures have surfaced of the Sharkey’s remodel, and they are preserving the old style. This is nice to see.
  • A Full November Ballot. California is known for its ballot propositions, and recent efforts have moved all of them to the General Election ballot (instead of the June primaries). Here’s a preview of what we’re likely to see. There will be things like a plastic bag referendum, a proposition on prescription drug prices, a referendum of revenue bonds over $2 million, a modification of the “english-only” initiative, bonds for school construction, a proposal on hospital fees, with 66 more gathering signatures.
  • No More Metro Free Parking. A report is surfacing of a trial attempt at imposing paid parking at Metro stations.  Although on the surface I don’t like paying for parking, this one is making sense. It provides really low rates for those actually using Metro, with significantly higher rates for those taking advantage of the free parking to just do things in the neighborhood.
  • Tits and Ass at the Hollywood Bowl. The Hollywood Bowl has announced their 2016 season.  Their musical this year will be A Chorus Line; I’m not that interested in seeing it. There’s also a Star Trek concert and A Prairie Home Companion.  For me, the show that I’d like to see is Weird Al on July 22-23.  My wife would like the Copeland and Marsalis concert the following week (July 28).
  • Mooning in Coachella. At one time, a moon-themed resort was planned for Las Vegas. Anything goes, right? Well, the moon isn’t landing in Vegas, but in the Coachella Valley. The $4 billion, 4,000 all-suite, five-star lunar-themed Moon World Resorts has a opening date targeted for 2022 after two years of permit and entitlement processes and a 48-month build-out. Three thousand workers will be required during the single-phase construction, and, when completed, 8,000 Coachella Valley careers will be created. The 10 million-square-foot project will include cutting-edge space technology over a 10-acre lunar surface with a realistic lunar colony set in the world’s largest and tallest sphere reaching 750 feet. There also will be a 10,000-seat flexible event center and a 2 million-square-foot convention center, several star-chef celebrity restaurants and wellness spa with holistic health treatments.
  • Real Time Earthquake Alerts. Have you installed MyShake on your Android phone?  This is a new application from the UC Berkeley Seismology Lab that uses the phone accelerometer to detect earthquakes in a crowd-sourced fashion. The app’s algorithm is designed to ignore ordinary shaking, like a phone jiggling in a purse, and detect unique vibrations felt during earthquakes. If the phone detects what it thinks is an earthquake — usually something at a magnitude 5 or greater — it sends a message to a central server. If there are at least 300 phones sending warnings in the same 60-mile-by-60-mile zone, simulation tests show that’s good enough to tell the system that the shaking was an earthquake. Notices can then go out to advise those further away that an earthquake is coming.
  • A Supreme Court Nominee. As you all know by now, Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away. This opens up a space for President Obama to nominate a replacement. He says he will do it promptly; Republican leaders are vowing to not allow it until after the election (meaning at least two court terms — talk about delaying justice). The rumor mill is indicating that Obama will nominate Sri Srinivasan as the replacement. This is an interesting choice. Srinivasan was just confirmed to his current position by the senate in 2013 (just 3 years ago) with a vote of 97-0. Yes, some of the confirming senators are gone, but that makes it likely that he has strong support, and has already been through the vetting process (plus getting any confirmation through the 2012 senate wasn’t easy). It makes a wonderful statement on immigrant rights and diversity. Could be very interesting.



Shticks of One and Half a Dozen of the Other: Saturday Chum Stew

userpic=schmuckThis has been the second very busy week in a row. I’ve accumulated a number of articles, but there are no coherent things, but lots of things I want to comment upon. So let’s get started with this news chum collection:

🏥  Sexism in the Emergency Room. The Atlantic had a fascinating article that I certainly believe: Doctors Tend To Take Women’s Pain Less Seriously. It is sad to think that this type of sexism still exists in the medical profession, but it does. There are fewer research projects to see the effect of medicine on women, and often a woman’s complaint is dismissed as hysteria (and by the way, if you don’t know the origin of that word, you should — it’s relevant). In this article, a woman almost dies because the doctors don’t believe her complaint about serious pain.

💏 Contributions of the Yiddish Theatre. As my daughter is busily studying Yiddish at UC Berkeley, news about Yiddish tends to catch my eye. Here’s an article about how the first lesbian kiss on stage was in a Yiddish theatre production. Specifically, the 1923 English-language production of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance, at the Apollo Theater on 223 West 42nd Street, presented the first same-sex kiss in the history of Broadway, leading to the entire cast’s being arrested on obscenity charges. Paula Vogel and Rebecca Taichman’s Indecent, having its world premiere at the Yale Rep in New Haven this month, is a delightful, unexpected, and surprising play about Asch’s play.

🎭 To Review Community Theatre? An article in the On Stage Blog has prompted some interesting discussion. Its question: Should theatre reviewers review community theatre, and if they do, should they give an honest assessment? A fascinating question: after all, these are not professional actors, so should we hold them to the same quality standards? They are often true amateurs, and the directors are equally amateurs. Personally, I tend to agree with the VC On Stage Blog: I review honestly, but try more to couch my review as constructive criticism (how to improve, instead of “Bob stunck”).

🏊 A Hole in the Ground, Filled with Water. With the current drought, there’s more an more interest in demolishing pools. It’s an interesting question, and one that I’ve thought seriously about. Pools can add to the value of a house, and in general a pool actually uses less water than a lawn. But they can leak easily — I’m pretty sure our pool has a leak somewhere in the piping deep underground that feeds the pump (I have to add water weekly). But the cost of removing the pool can be quite high — multiple thousands of dollars to remove the decking, break up the shell, etc. If it costs only an extra $50 to add water per month, it is cheaper to add water. Never an easy question.

💳 American Express in Trouble. Here’s a fascinating article about the woes of American Express: Specifically, the loss of their US contract with Costco is a big deal, no matter what they say. Amex no longer has the prestige it once had, and its higher fees often make people less likely to accept it. They can hang on, but they may be going the way of Diners Club over time.

💊 The Cost of Generics. By now, our insurance companies have drummed it into our heads: Buy generics, it is cheaper. But as we’ve read in the news, the cost of generics is actually rising, often thanks to greedy manufacturers. Who is that hurting? Small pharmacies, who are finding that their insurance reimbursements do not cover the cost of the generics. This means, due to insurance contracts, they often lose money on generics. Welcome to screwed up health care in America.

🔯 Holocaust Revisionism. This week, we had an interesting example of Holocaust Revisionism… from an Israeli leader, who proclaimed that Hitler didn’t want to kill the Jews — it was an Arab idea. Dr. Deborah Lipstadt — who was my professor for a number of Jewish Studies courses at UCLA including ones on Zionism and Antisemitism — wrote a very good rebuttal and analysis of Netanyahu’s statement. (if that link doesn’t work, go here, and then click on the article). As Dr. Lipstadt noted: “Netanyahu, however, did not paint [the Grand Mufti] as a supporter of this genocide. He credited him with coming up with the idea. There is a vast difference between the two. Historians continue to debate who originated the idea of the Final Solution. No serious historian, however, has ever laid the decision at the feet of the mufti. These are scary days in Israel. Arabs, some of whom have been incited to act by religious and political leaders, have stabbed, hacked, and stoned Jews. Others have mowed them down with cars. This inexcusable barbarism does not, however, legitimate rewriting of the past.”

🍕 Feeding the Addiction. I really try to avoid becoming an addict. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I am addicted to Afrin, but that’s a different story. This week I learned I really am an addict. So, here’s goes. My name is Daniel, and I’m addicted to Cheese.  Yup, a new study has shown that Cheese Addiction is real. Cheese happens to be especially addictive because of an ingredient called casein, a protein found in all milk products. During digestion, casein releases opiates called casomorphins that play with the dopamine receptors and trigger that addictive element. The LA Times drilled down even deeper into the study, and concluded: So the decision to call cheese crack is entirely yours. And if the University of Michigan study makes you feel better about eating a quesadilla for lunch and half a cheese board before dinner, so be it.

🍷 Liquid Refreshment Andrew Ducker over on LJ alerted me to this article, which is related to a different type of food addiction. Yes, there are people who feel better after drinking blood, but no they are not vampires. The article is an interesting study of sanguinarians  — real life “vampires” and their communities.

💥 I Feel The Earth Move. Everyone started to run scared in LA after an article from NASA saying the chance of a major earthquake in the San Gabriel Valley is 99.9% in the next two years. But then again, Dr. Lucy Jones disputes the findings.  Specifically, a yet unpublished study from seismologists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab predicted with 99.9 percent certainty that we’d get a 5.0 quake sometime within the next couple years. They were 35 percent certain that it would be even bigger, registering at 6.0 or worse. However, Dr. Lucy “Earthquake Lady” Jones, a seismologist who works with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on earthquake preparedness, noted that the claim that it’s such a high probability is made in a paper by one individual group of researchers, and the paper doesn’t document how they came up with that number so it’s impossible for us to even evaluate whether or not the statement has any validity, because they didn’t say why. She also noted this is not an official NASA claim, and pointed out that a lot of us might not even be able to feel a 5.0 quake. What’s more likely? Dr. Jones says a more likely figure is a 2 percent chance of SoCal getting a big quake—7.5 or greater—each year. But there is a certainty that eventually be a big one, so it also helps to be prepared.

💺 The First Jumbo Jets. Airline Reporter had an interesting exploration of Delta Air Lines and their first jumbo jets: the 747-100s. Delta ended up settling on the DC-10s and L-1011s, and of course, now uses different jumbos. The article provides a great insight on why airlines order what, and what happens to an aircraft after it is no longer needed.

🍏 They’re back. Yay. Pippins are back in markets. Get them while you can.


Earthquake Memories

As we all do what we can to aid the Haitians in recovery from their earthquake*, the Los Angeles Times reminds us that the 1994 Northridge Earthquake was 16 years ago today. Those of us in California (or who have lived in California) are familiar with earthquakes, as they are far too frequent out here. In my almost 50 years, I’ve been through three major Southern California earthquakes. Here are my memories:

  • 1971. In 1971, I was still living in the house on 80th Street in Playa Del Rey (of the folks reading this, probably only uisna remembers that house). My only memory of that quake, which occurred early in the morning on February 9, was that of my cat (probably Nelson) falling from my top bunk onto the window sill, and then onto my lap, and both of us looking quizically at each other.
  • 1987. When the Whittier Narrows quake hit, Mark Biggar, Larry Wall, and I were commuting to work at SDC, taking a route up the hills in Sherman Oaks because the 405 was bad. Suddenly, we noticed the cars around us bouncing, and realized there was an earthquake going on. When we got to work (by this time we were in the old 2400 building at 2400 Colorado in Santa Monica), we all had to wait outside while they inspected the building to make sure it was safe for us to go in.
  • 1994. When the Northridge Quake of 1994 hit, we were living in North Hills (nee Sepulveda). The quake woke us up, and shook loads of stuff out of closets and broke a bunch of stuff in the kitchen. I remember hunting around for shoes and flashlights to go inspect damage. We were lucky that day: our block walls remained standing (but you could shake them with your hands), and our only real damage was the water heater bouncing into the wall and returning to position. I remember our neighbor Charles going around the neighborhood turning off the gas… only to learn that the Gas Company didn’t want people doing that for then it meant loads of service calls to restore service. I remember my uncle Ron and cousin Jerry coming around the house (they lived in Northridge) to make sure we were safe. I also remember after a day or two coming into work in El Segundo, and having to fight to use the disaster time card code, because they had no damage in El Segundo (never mind that the mayor was telling us to be off the road — if it didn’t happen in the South Bay, it wasn’t important to the corporation). But our little 1957 wood-frame-on-foundation house held up pretty well.

    I remember other scenes of damage: the CSUN parking lot that collapse and turned into a perfect arch. The former CSUN dormatories, which remained vacant and empty and rotting for at least 8 years. The collapsed freeways: the portions of Route 118 near Woodley; I-10 near Fairfax; and the I-5/Route 14 transition, which always seems to fall down in earthquakes. The fires along Balboa Blvd. The numerous red-tagged office buildings (especially along Van Nuys Blvd and at the I-405/US 101 transition), which remained standing and rotting for years.

    I now live in a 1962 wood-frame-on-slab much much closer to the epicenter (I’m walking distance from the former Northridge Meadows Apts.), and I don’t think this house would weather a future earthquake better (although it’s been a few valley quakes). I’m still dealing with earthquake damage here: we have slabs of pool decking that are still settling, which I attribute to the earthquake, and we constantly get cracks in the plaster drywall.

People ask me how I can live through an earthquake. My usual flip response is that at least with an earthquake, you know where your stuff is. Perhaps because I am a Southern California native, they don’t phase me as much. Fires, especially house fires, bother me much more.

So what are your earthquake memories?

(*: This morning I’m writing my check to Doctors Without Borders, but there are many great aid organizations out there.)


Me Doth Think They Exaggerate

Headline on CNN: Rain, quake prompt evacuations in Southern California

The truth? With no mudslides threatening, evacuation orders lifted in three Yorba Linda neighborhoods

The quake? Sayeth CNN: “Concerns grew Wednesday morning, when a 3.1-magnitude earthquake struck. Though it was not strong enough to be felt, officials felt that it might increase the odds of a landslide, Alders said.”

3.1?!?!? That’s a truck hitting a median out here. We don’t even stop our conversations for those.

(Grrr. What does Atlanta know about earthquakes.)


Just Tell Yourself It’s An Adventure

Well, that was fun.

Magnitude 5.4 – moment magnitude (Mw)
Time Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 11:42:15 AM (PDT)
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 at 18:42:15 (UTC)
Distance from Chino Hills, CA – 4 km (3 miles) WSW (240 degrees)
Diamond Bar, CA – 7 km (5 miles) SE (135 degrees)
Yorba Linda, CA – 8 km (5 miles) NNE (16 degrees)
Pomona, CA – 12 km (7 miles) S (184 degrees)
Los Angeles Civic Center, CA – 46 km (28 miles) ESE (104 degrees)
Coordinates 33 deg. 57.3 min. N (33.955N), 117 deg. 45.9 min. W (117.765W)
Depth 13.6 km (8.5 miles)
Location Quality Good
Location Quality Parameters Nst=095, Nph=095, Dmin=9 km, Rmss=0.34 sec, Erho=0.3 km, Erzz=0.6 km, Gp=25.2 degrees
Event ID# ci14383980

Here at the ranch, on the fifth floor of A1, it was a long strong shaking and rolling motion. I’m an LA native, and I went under the desk (but I know how this building was built). They evacuated the building with relative smoothness (those drills did pay off), and we just got cleared to come back in.

According to my wife, in Northridge, there was also shaking. She said some cracks reopened (time to get out the spackle), and we might need to get the flashing redone around the chimney to ensure things are watertight. I’ll do a more thorough inspection when I get home, but I don’t expect anything major there.


Take That, West Los Angeles!

The Valley Laughs at Earthquakes. The Daily News is reporting that the San Fernando Valley likely will not suffer earthquakes stronger than those that were centered in Sylmar in 1971 or Northridge in 1994, according to a new research report published in the journal Geology. Now, what we had in 1994 was bad, yes, but there have been much worse, so this is good news. Using advanced measurements of magnetic fields on sediments and other information, seismic researchers at Oregon State University found that the earth’s crust in the Valley and the Santa Clarita Valley to the north is broken up into blocks rather than being in a single piece as it is in the San Gabriel Valley and areas of eastern Ventura County. The significance is that when the plates move, causing a quake, the smaller blocks of crust don’t unleash as much energy as a single large tectonic plate. So expectations of the potential for more severe quakes in the Valley and north county are unfounded. According to the Oregon State geology professor emeritus Robert Yeats, “If you’re in the San Fernando Valley, you live in earthquake country, but you don’t live in 7.2 to 7.5 country.”

The Valley Housing Market Remains Strong. According to the Daily News, the median price of a San Fernando Valley home hit a record high of $525,000 in March amid strong sales. The soaring single-family price, which gained an annual 18.8 percent, or $83,000, pushed bargain hunters into the less-expensive condominium market. Upward pressure on the single-family median home price came from Calabasas, Tarzana and Encino. The median hit $1.12 million in Calabasas, $1.1 million in Tarzana and $1 million in Encino, where 78 homes sold. Throughout the Valley 1,943 properties were listed for sale at the end of March, about a 1.2-month supply the association calls “alarmingly low.”

I can attest to the lowness of inventory. In our searches, we’re lucky to find 3 or 4 properties that are potentials. On the other hand, the rising prices bodes well for us when we go to sell our current place, which will be priced below the median.