Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Walk in Downtown Los Angeles

On our recent visit to Los Angeles we took a trip downtown. 
Entrance to North Hollywood subway station
We drove to the subway station in North Hollywood.  There was not subway in LA when I was growing up.  There had been a trolley line until 1961 but after that there were only buses.  The red line was the first of two subways in LA and began operation in 1993.
LA Times building
We exited the subway at civic center and walked down Spring Street.  Soon we found ourselves in front of a building that had been very important in my life, the L A Times building.  I wanted to go in.
There it was in the lobby.  That impressive looking machine that had provided my father and our family a living since before I was born.  My parents said it was the same Linotype that my father had used most of the time.  He would type the text (the keyboard was not the qwerty most of us know) and mats would fall into place.  A rod of lead called a "pig" slowly made its way into a pot where it melted and eventually the molten lead was molded into type by the mats.  That's my understanding of the process though I suspect it is quite flawed.

Our son, Eric, had his sights on Japanese cuisine for lunch so after viewing the exhibits in the Times Lobby  we headed to Little Tokyo and lunched on ramen or udon.
I was intrigued by these trees, decorated with slips of paper with what appeared to be wishes written on them.

L A City Hall
After lunch we walked back to the civic center.  At a height of 150' City Hall was the tallest building in Los Angeles from its completion in 1928 until 1962.  The city charter had not permitted any building to be higher until the late 1950s.
Grand Park fountain
We wandered up the hill through the Grand Park.  This area had recently been revitalized with tables gardens and play equipment and the ubiquitous Starbucks .  We sat a while at one on the many tables and watched the people wading in the the new shallow pool below the restored Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain.
Disney Concert Hall
Some one wanted ice cream so we headed down down Grand Ave, past the interesting Disney Concert Hall.
MOCA sculpture
 Past an unusual sculpture by the Museum of Contemporary Art.  Are those pieces or airplanes?  I wasn't quite sure.
Finally we arrived at the Grand Central Market.  A place I recall going with my mother as a young child.  Five stars for the ice cream at McConnells.
My suggestion to go to the L A Central Library was vetoed (great images to be had there) so we headed to the subway at Pershing Square and got back on the Red Line train.  We were a bit disconcerted when an announcement said we were on the purple line and we got off.  Then a real person announced that they were having problems with the automated announcement system and it was in fact on the right train. So we got back on.
It was a good day.

This is a view of my world, to see more world views check out  Our World Tuesday

Friday, October 14, 2016

Let's be a Beacon: It is not ok!

Let's be a Beacon: It is not ok!:   When I was in my late teens I took the bus to college. In those days I wore skirts to school. A man came and sat next to me, he ran hi...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Feather in the Sky

Waiting, watching the sky for the promised, much needed storm I spotted this interesting cloud formation.
You can see more interesting skies at Skywatch Friday, check it out and join us!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Let's be a Beacon: Trump as the Wizard of Oz

 What will our country look like if Trump is elected?  When voters are forced to remove the the emerald glasses they will see not a great nation but a train wreck.

Let's be a Beacon: Trump as the Wizard of Oz: "Don't look at the man behind the curtain, look over there!" Remember that line from the Wizard of Oz, when Toto pulled down...

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fall in the Air

It was another beautiful evening, cool enough to lengthen our evening walk and head to "Mallard Pond".  We haven't been there for awhile.  In summer it is a quiet spot with little wildlife.  We might spot an occasional flycatcher or flicker but the geese, ducks, raptors and egrets are gone, until last night.

The ducks haven't yet returned but squadron after squadron of noisy geese were seen heading in for the night.  Now they gather together in large groups, seeming to enjoy each others company.  In a few months they will pair off and no longer tolerate the intrusion of other geese,  chasing them off from their territory and their mates.

In the dim light I spotted the snowy egret, returned to its place in the shallows.  It was too far away to see its large, bright yellow feet which it uses to stir up the mud.

Then we spotted a roiling in the water.  What could be causing the wakes, the turbulence. The light was dim and I didn't have my bins then "SPLASH", OK, beaver.  I don't have to see them to recognize them when they slap the water with their tail.

We also saw some year-round residents, a young coyote and the rabbits that supply sustenance to the coyotes tribe.

I look forward to the coming seasons as the birds return and we see a new generations of all the creatures that inhabit the nearby open spaces.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Exporting Californina's Water

I like this little creek that flows in the vale behind our house.  No, it's not the prettiest but it provides habitat for a variety of wildlife.  Quail, pheasants, raptors and many other birds make their home here.  Coyotes and bobcats find sustenance from the rabbits and voles that live here.  While the stream is natural, the flow is not.  It is managed to provide irrigation water for the rice fields father west.  Is that a problem?  Maybe, maybe not, it depends on your point of view
California is in a drought, homeowners are asked to conserve water and many of us do.  I use a minimum  of detergent when I wash clothes or dishes and collect the water to use on the garden.  No lawn for us, much of the landscaping produces fruit and vegetables and that which doesn't gets little water other than rain.

That irrigation water flowing behind my house mostly goes to grow rice and most of that rice is exported.  In fact, most of what California grows is exported.  Farmers choose crops for profit (it just makes economic sense) and not for what is needed here at home.  I'm not sure how I feel about that, the world needs to be fed and it is good that we have a surplus of food but perhaps there are less water intensive crops that can be grown.

Rice is only part of the problem, though.  There are other water intensive crops grown in California that do not feed people.  Alfalfa is a very water intensive crop and much of the alfalfa grown in California is sent to China.

Another water intensive crop, even more problematic is cotton grown in the San Joaquin  Valley.  I don't know whether to laugh or cry each time I see a cotton wagon covered with a sign saying "food grows where water flows".

Water is a complex and controversial subject in the west.  Streams that once flowed abundantly and freely are now diverted to agriculture so little water remains to reach the delta.  Aquifers are being drawn down at an alarming rate to grow almonds and other crops for export.  Our water laws were written for a simpler time, a time when water seemed abundant and few cared about the future of the environment or our ability to feed a growing world population.

Don't think I am maligning the family trying to make a living off the land.  Much of California's farms are owned by large conglomerates or hedge funds.  Unlike traditional farmers they don't take a long view, they will draw down the water table, take their profits and leave a dust bowl behind.

While I don't agree with all of the positions of the California Water Impact Project, they do have a lot of information on their site for those interested in the subject.

More information about water and agriculture can be found here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Eastern Sierra--Virginia Creek

We went up to our cabin last week and I went hiking for the first time this summer.  Jules no longer feels confident in his hiking ability so I headed up the trail on my own.

In spite of all the fires in California and Nevada the air was crisp and the views spectacular.
I never tire of these lakes but I did get tired.  Since we spend most of the year near sea level the 9,600' elevation is starting to get to me.  I made it, six miles round trip with 1,000' elevation gain.  Back at the cabin I collapsed in the hammock for an hour.
We needed some distilled water for the batteries (our off the grid cabin uses solar cells to charge batteries for night time energy) and saw that there was a new fire in the area.  Now, five days later it is 85% contained.
Traveling further down the road we found evidence of nature's resilience.  The Marina fire burned this slope five weeks earlier and there is already new growth.