Tag Archives: Orange County

Crowds at the Street Fair

I’ve finally found something more crowded than Comic-Con International: The Orange Street Fair on a Saturday night.

I think we usually end up going on Sunday, because while it’s usually a solid crowd, I don’t remember feeling quite so…herded. We ended up not doing much more than getting dinner and dessert.

Still, the baklava on Greek Street was good, as were the “Australian” potatoes (that probably weren’t any more Australian than the ice cream), and one of the lemonade stands was offering diet lemonade sweetened with Stevia, which meant Katie could actually drink it.

Overheard

“Do you want a Viking helmet?” “F%@# yeah, I do!”

“Is your name Don?” “Uh, no.” “I wonder what it would have meant if your name was Don.”

“These cupcakes are insufficiently sized.”

“Do you even know where you’re going?” “Yeah, that way.”

Laguna Fireworks Gallery

We went to Laguna Beach last night for the fireworks display, starting with dinner at Ocean Avenue and moving down to the beach at sunset. They shoot the fireworks out over the bluffs, making the beach a prime viewing spot. We could also see the fireworks from Dana Point and Newport Beach lighting up the cloud layer.

It was crowded as usual, and I managed to get my legs soaked when I was standing out where I thought I was safe from the waves, but even with the cloud cover and offshore breeze it wasn’t too cold after nightfall. (Yes, it cools down at night even in July next to the ocean.)

Last year I experimented with the fireworks setting on my camera. This year I just braced it, pointed it roughly in the right direction, and hit the button every once in a while and just watched the show. I ended up with about a dozen photos worth sharing.

Afterward we stopped at Dolce Gelato for ice cream, where I learned that cookies and cream does not always mean Oreo or chocolate wafers (they make theirs with Italian crostatas), but plain cream gelato goes really well with berry sorbet!

Fireworks Ban

Most cities in Orange County have banned the sale and setting off of fireworks to and by the general public for safety reasons. Of course, fireworks are an Independence Day tradition, so most cities also put on professional displays on the Fourth of July.

But a lot of people like the hands-on experience of setting off fireworks themselves. This leaves them with three choices:

  1. Go somewhere where setting off your own fireworks is legal.
  2. Shrug it off.
  3. Sneak around and hope you don’t get caught.

#1 is getting harder all the time as more cities clamp down on fireworks. #2, I imagine, is unsatisfying. #3 is stupid, because chances are pretty good that you’ll either get unsafe fireworks, or use them unsafely (because you’re trying to hide the fact that you’re setting off explosives), and end up burning someone, or burning their house down, or starting a 75-acre brush fire because you went out into the boonies in hopes that no one would catch you, but didn’t think about the fact that you were surrounded by dry grass.

So here’s my proposal:

If you’re going to ban fireworks, instead of banning them outright, set aside a designated area where people can set them off themselves.. Fairgrounds and/or large parking lots would be good for this. The Great Park, perhaps? Keep fire crews on standby. Limit the number of people so that you can evacuate safely if something goes wrong. Limit the types of fireworks people are allowed to bring in so that it’s hard for them to bring in homemade crap that’s more likely to blow off their hands than make a nice show.

It will never happen in today’s litigious society, of course. The first time someone broke the rules and someone else got hurt, people would start suing the city because it should have been safe! Even if it was a private company running the event, they’d get sued, along with the property owner for allowing it to happen, and the city for allowing them to run it in the first place.

Return to Temporary Wetlands

Early last month I posted some photos of ponds in an empty lot in the Irvine Spectrum area, fed by the winter rains. Well, the rains have been tapering off, and the weather has been warming up. It’s been at least two weeks since it last rained, and the ponds are drying out.

On the plus side, all the sun has brought out the wildflowers. It’s still nowhere near the 2006 level, when hillsides were covered with patches of dark green, light green and bright yellow…

Hills covered with green grass and yellow wildflowers.

…but there was a nice patch of lupins at one end of the lot.

Cloud Puffs Over Saddleback

I’m going to have to start taking my regular camera with me to lunch. Yesterday I looked out and saw a huge, puffy cloud, virtually alone (beneath a thin layer of wispy cirrus), hovering above Saddleback.

When I stopped to take a picture, I realized that there was a whole line of little puffball clouds, tracking the mountain range exactly, but not appearing anywhere else in the sky. It really shows the effect that mountains have on cloud formation!

I decided to try for a four-shot panorama of the whole range.

It came out better than I expected, actually. I believe this is the first time I’ve stitched together a panorama using phone pictures. I used Hugin, which was a little hampered by the fact that I couldn’t find specs on the G1 lens type, focal length, etc., but it seems to have done reasonably well.