Category Archives: Life

Vote Local!

Remember to vote in local elections.

Initiatives, council and school board members, judges, etc. affect you and your community directly. It may not be as exciting as the Presidential race, but it determines who makes decisions in your town, who passes and enforces city laws and regulations, local taxes, which services are offered and how. If the national government wants to drop the ball, states and cities are going to have to step in, and local elections impact how it gets picked up — or doesn’t.

It impacts national politics too: the people elected locally go on to build the pool of state and national candidates. If you care about 2018 or 2020, get out and vote locally to get the ball rolling!

Voter turnout is always lower in off-years than in Presidential election years, and it’s even lower in local elections. That means your vote makes a bigger share of the result than it does when you vote in November – even in an off-year.

So get out there, register to vote if you haven’t, and help make decisions at the local level.

AAAAAA! 😱

Artist Nathan Sawaya recreates Edvard Munch’s The Scream in LEGO, on exhibit in The Art of the Brick.

Perhaps it’s a cliche, but I’ve rather liked The Scream since I first saw a print of it somewhere. (Well, one version of it, anyway, as the artist created four of them.) Maybe it was in an art book, maybe it was a poster. Maybe it was one of a zillion pop culture references to it. (Heck, it’s got its own emoji now.) I associate it with college, but I also associate it with the crowd I hung out with in high school, so it’s hard to say.

And of course growing up in the 1980s means I have a lot of fond memories of playing with LEGO.

I got to see the full exhibit at the Fleet Science Center last week. (It’s there through the end of January). The first two rooms are mostly recreations of famous paintings and sculptures — Starry Night, the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and so on — and the rest are original works. Some are realistic, while others are outright surreal. Almost all of them are done using standard rectangular LEGO bricks and tiles.

Sadly, the 6YO was not impressed by the subject matter, the creativity, or the craftsmanship (he was much more interested in building in the play area afterward), and tried to leave several times before we got through the whole exhibit. Then we got to the the dinosaur skeleton. That one he liked, as well as the crowd walking along a street that, when viewed from the right angle, lines up with the markings on the wall to form the image of an eye.

Happy New Year

“What do you mean? Do you wish me a happy new year, or mean that it is a happy new year whether I want it or not; or that it is a new year to be happy on?”

“All of them at once.”

— With apologies to JRR Tolkien. (Though I suspect it’s only going to be the first….)

Spectrum at the top of the Sky

The colored wisp of cloud is too high in the sky to be a rainbow or a circumhorizon arc, and the spectrum is too ordered to be an iridescent cloud. I looked up ice halos that might produce this effect near vertical just before sunset. It turns out a circumzenithal arc is a perfect match: a rainbow arc near the zenith, brightest when the sun is very low. I’d never seen one before – it’s always cool to spot a new kind of sun halo.

Spotted November 12 at the Irvine Spectrum shopping center. It was around 90°F during the day at ground level, but of course it can be a lot colder in the upper atmosphere.

Saturation increased to show the colors more clearly.

Walk for Food Allergy: Studio Edition

Today I joined hundreds of people at the CBS Studios in Los Angeles to raise money for Food Allergy Research and Education through the FARE Walk for Food Allergy.

We skipped last year and decided to join this year’s event at the last minute. Rather than walking along the shore at Long Beach, this year’s course ran through the CBS Studios lot. It started on what looked like a suburban New England street, and wound past production trailers, soundstages, prop storage, and even the Los Angeles river….

Walk for Food Allergy by the Los Angeles River

…such as it is. Other parts of the river are much nicer, even navigable at times, but this stretch is basically a concrete drainage ditch inside a bigger drainage ditch. It looks bleak now, but during flood years the channels fill completely, preventing the city’s streets from flooding instead.

Wait, Walk for What–Who–Why?

FARE funds studies to explore the causes of food allergy and develop new therapies. They run outreach programs to make it safer to visit restaurants, or just be at school or the workplace.

Food allergies can range from mild to life-threatening — yes, people die — and those of us on the far end of the range need to be constantly on the watch for hidden ingredients and cross-contact between foods we can eat and foods we can’t.

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