News Chum Stew: Onesies and Twosies

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


What’s Left



News Chum for a Busy Weekend

userpic=lougrantThis is another busy weekend, so I should probably put this pot of news chum on the stove to simmer. What’s in it? A collection of articles and other items I’ve seen on the web this week that have stuck in my head. Let’s lift the lid and find out what is in this pot:

  • The Ever-Tightening Job Market for Ph.D.s. It is graduation season. This means that metric tonnes of newly minted graduates with Bachelors, Masters, and PhDs are going to be flooding the job market, and in many professions, it will be bad for the PhDs. The linked article talks about a recent report finds that many newly minted Ph.D.s complete school after nearly 10 years of studies with significant debt and without the promise of a job. Yet few people seem to be paying attention to these findings; graduate programs are producing more Ph.D.s than ever before.
  • How Unions and Regulators Made Clothing Tags an Annoying Fact of Life. Clothing tags. Those things at the back of your shirt that annoy you. Did you ever wonder where they came from? Wonder no more.
  • Bookstore down: Mystery and Imagination & Bookfellows in Glendale. Another independent bookstore bites the dust: Mystery and Imagination, which was across the street from another recent closure, Brand Books. Although some independent bookstores are thriving, others are closing… and it is a sad thing. Amazon may be great for music, but it is a pain for discovering new books. It is not just bookstores that are closing: Orphaned CDs, which was around the corner in Northridge, has been put on the market, sold, and moved to Sunland.
  • Offbeat L.A.: A Cherry on Top- Fosters Freeze, the History of California’s Original Soft Serve. I had never realized that Fosters Freeze had originated in Los Angeles, the product of an attempt to bring Dairy Queen to LA. I’ve enjoyed them over the years (particularly, the fudge dip that crunches afterwards). Interesting read.
  • Want to Make America More Inclusive? Start With Stamps. I used to be a stamp collector. I guess I still am, although I haven’t updated the collection in years. Stamp collecting has gone out of favor as a hobby, with the advent of self-adhesive stamps (that don’t soak off), pre-printed postage, and the decline in physical mail. Stamps are interesting, and have always been a reflection of a country in its values. The linked article looks as how America and other countries demonstrate their inclusivity through the images they put on their stamps (and the people that end up collecting them).
  • Pacific Bus Museum in Fremont: showcasing a piece of Bay Area history. I’m into transit history: be it trains, planes, automobiles or buses. I’m a member of a train museum, but I haven’t seen a similar attempt to save buses. Well, until I read this article.
  • Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with food allergies. As a reference for those attending this year’s ACSAC — an article on dining at Universal with allergies. Alas, the picture isn’t the greatest at the present time. Disney still wins hands down in this competition.



Life as a Theme Park

userpic=eticketAs we continue the process of cleaning out the links, today’s three-theme brings together articles related to current and former theme parks, although the term is used loosely:



Saturday Stew: Clearing out the Groupatwos before Pesach

Observation StewIn the Talmud, there is a learned Rabbi who opines that groupatwos are to be considered Chametz during Passover. Luckily, this week was so busy I accumulated a bunch of groupatwos. So let’s get that feather and that candle and get them out of the links list before Passover starts Monday night:



Designs of the Past, the Needs of Today

userpic=cardboard-safeToday’s lunchtime collection of news chum brings together three stories about product designs from the past:



Theme Park News Chum: Universal Hollywood, Knotts, and Disney Chairs

userpic=eticketToday’s lunchtime news chum brings together some articles related, perhaps peripherally, to theme parks….

Music: Home Before Dark (Neil Diamond): “Act Like A Man”


One Mouse, One World

“One Mouse, One World”. Sounds like a slogan for world domination by a particular corporation, doesn’t it. Sometimes it feels that way when you are in certain parts of Orlando Florida. It is also the slogan of one of that organization’s theme parks, Epcot, which we visited today.

First of all, why Epcot? The answer is simple. Most of the rest of the other Orlando parks can be found somewhere in the Anaheim parks. So it didn’t make sense to spend boku-bucks to go to them. Epcot, on the other hand, is mostly unique (except for Soaring, Captain Eo, and Nemo’s Adventures).

Epcot is a odd mix of multiple parks. The first park, when you go into it, is the “park of the future“. This is the park of the big Epcot globe, the voyage into space, and the hydroponic gardens. This is also the park that (mostly) felt dated — it felt like the Tomorrowland of the 1970s, down to the architecture and layout. It had that rounded-curve sense of the old People-Mover structure. We did ride a few rides in this area — in particular, Spaceship Earth, Mission:Space (Green) and Living with the Land. Spaceship Earth seemed a bit dated — all the audio-animatronics looked like characters from Pirates, although I did appreciate the 9-track tapes. Living with the Land, on the other hand, was neat — especially the portion where they went through the actual Epcot gardens and science areas. Mission:Space was good, but short and predictable (almost like “Star Tours”)… and you can tell where the “Orange” version would have added stuff. We didn’t get to see everything here we wanted to see — there evidently is an Energy movie with Ellen DeGeneris, but it was 45 minutes long, and we wanted to see other stuff. The line for Test Track was just too long, and the FastPast was too late. I also note that quite a few attractions allowed you to email stuff to yourself, such as the picture from this post.

The second part of Epcot is the World Showcase. This was mostly shopping, as opposed to rides (although we did see one Circlevision movie with Martin Short). The lands are Canada, UK, France, Morocco, Japan, America, Italy, Germany, “Africa” (Outpost), China, Norway,and Mexico. Each land has lots and lots of themed shopping (although at points I felt the shopping was a little culturally insensitive and stereotypical). Some of it is great (I particularly liked Canada, UK, Paris, Japan, and Germany), some of it wasn’t. Each land also has lots and lots of local food, much of it relatively expensive. Few rides, but fun to walk through and shop. There was also good music — in particular, a really good rock Celtic-Canadian band (including bagpipes) called Off-Kilter.

The third part of Epcot is a graft — Disney attempted to “graft” characters and marketing into the park. Thus you see Nemo in the Sea section, the Three Cabillaros in the Mexican lands, and various Disney face characters in the appropriate lands (i.e., Aladdin and Jasmine in Morocco, Belle in France, Snow White and Rapunzel in Germany (but no Heimlich), Mulan in China, etc.). You also see Duffy the Disney Bear everywhere, and Pin Trading and Vinylmation everywhere, and Disney marketing everywhere. You can find everything Disney in Epcot … except any books describing the original purpose of Epcot and its history and development. Evidently, remembering the history is something solely reserved for Anaheim; Orlando is for entertainment, resorts, and separating the tourists from their money. But I didn’t say that in my outloud voice, did I?

Overall, what did we think of the park? It was fun, although not the constant attraction type of fun of Disneyland and DCA. I don’t think it was worth the standard Orlando gate, given that it was mostly shopping. But it is hard to say what any Disney park is worth. I am glad I saw it.


Up in the Air

Today’s lunchtime news chum brings together a collection of articles, all related to things that are up in the air:

  • Stopping a Non-Stop. When is a non-stop flight a one-stop. The answer, of course, is when it has to stop to refuel, which is something happening to an increasing number of non-stop flights from Europe. The reason for this is increased headwinds at the flight altitude, which consume more fuel. Now, that wouldn’t be a problem if jumbo-jets were being used, as they carry more fuel (e.g., 767s, 747s), but airlines (especially United) want to save money. They are attempting to utilize 757s whereever possible, and a transatlantic flight is just at the edge of their range. Give them a strong headwind, and — voila — a refueling stop is needed. This is a boon to many small airports, who just love the landing fees.
  • The Roar of the Engine. Those of us who live in the San Fernando Valley remember well the roar of rocket engine testing from Rocketdyne, which is now part of United Technology. Rumors are circulating that Rocketdyne will be sold to another company, such as GenCorp (Aerojet) or ATK. The interesting part of this article, for me, was the information on site development of Rocketdyne sites (as Rocketdyne owns a prime 47-acre site between Canoga and Owensmouth avenues and Vanowen Street and Victory Boulevard – right next to Westfield Topanga mall – in addition to a campus at De Soto and Nordhoff St. The article noted that “Last summer UTC filed plans with the city of Los Angeles to build a 6 million-square-foot community of high-rise buildings, 4,000-plus residential units and a 16-story hotel. Rocketdyne will eventually leave the Canoga site and consolidate operations at its campus at De Soto Avenue and Nordoff Street.”
  • Rescuing a Satellite. Wired had an interesting article on the rescue of the AEHF-1 satellite, along with speculation as to the underlying cause of the problem. The Slashdot article that alerted me to this also included a link to an interesting analysis that highlighted a side effect of younger engineerlings with little experience working with old engineer crows, which (to me) emphasizes the important of passing on the lessons learned to other generations. As I’m starting to enter the “old crow” stage (52 is rapidly coming up), this is a useful reminder, and something all of us need to do.
  • Stick ‘Em Up. Lastly, speaking of old, we have something that is old that forces you to put your hands in the air. Namely: they are still robbing the train after 60 years at Knotts Berry Farm. Now I remember going to Knotts when I was young and seeing this. The one thing not stated in the article is what the “robbers” do with anything park guests give them.

Music: Liege and Lief (Fairport Convention): Tam Lin