Posted tagged ‘California’

Wild Fire Update

October 31, 2019

Time for an update for all our East Coast friends.

We arrived back home in San Pedro on Sunday afternoon. The drive southbound through the Central Valley was very smoky. Visibility was about 1/4 mile or less.

I have screen grabbed two maps of So. Cal from the Wildfire App to show where the active fires are as of today (Thursday 10/31).

The little red dots indicate where the active fires as of today. We live in San Pedro which is down near Long Beach. No fires really close to us.

Wild fires get named kind of like hurricanes. The names usually denote something about the origin of the fire.

The big ones around here are the “Getty” fire which is near the Getty Center in West Los Angeles. The other big one is the “Easy” fire in Simi Valley, so named because it started on Easy Street.

Simi Valley is the home to the Reagan Library. You know that they’re not going to let that one burn.

The third fire is the “Riverside” fire that is in Riverside County east of Los Angeles.

And finally, don’t forget to download the Wild Fire App. It’s free.

Wild Fires

October 27, 2019

Screen of “Wildfire Info” app

This is sort of intended for my East Coast friends. I often get asked whether my wife and I are in harm’s way on any of the wild fires that are rampant out here on the west coast. They for the most part ignorant of California geography. It has been said that the four seasons in California are Fire, Flood, Earthquake and Drought.

So for the most part we are rarely near any of the roaring fires that are active these days, We live in a fairly built up urban area that is not particularly close to the trees and grasses that are fuel for the fires. The only thing that tends to bother us is the smoke generated by the fires.

Here’s a picture that I took on our trip this week from San Pedro to Visalia in Central California.

Gorman CA

As you can see, It’s all brown. The only places that you can see with green grass is typically golf courses that are heavily watered. In the spring time in April much of these hillsides will be green especially after a wet winter.

If you looked at my iPhone you would see a few apps that are particularly appropriate to West Coast going’s on. This stuff is probably more appropriate for West coast folks.

First are the “wildfire” apps. I have them on my iPhone and I believe they are available on Google phones. The other thing is that they are free.

First app is called “Wildfire Info“. Clever name, huh? When you open the app it drops you into a map with little red dots for each active fire. Tapping on the red dot gets you up to date info on the particular fire.

Second one is called “Fires“. Similar info. I found it a bit less useful. But it’s free so try it and see if you like it.

So while I’m talking about apps. I might as well talk about earth quake apps.

Researchers out here are trying to develop apps that can give users about 10 seconds of warning when the big one is about to hit. To that end, the researchers have installed sensors around all of the major fault lines.

Here are the apps that I use (all are free). I know they are available on iPhones and probably on Google-Play. (Click on title to get to the Apple App Store):

Install them all and give them a try.

One more thing. Sometime it takes you a while to get your brain around an earthquake. A couple of years ago there was 7.something about 150 miles northeast of us. Felt some trembling. It takes you a little while to say “Hey, we’re having an earthquake”.

Car Chases 101

February 22, 2019

Out here in LA we have a curious phenomenon on our local evening news. Most nights we watch the local news on KTLA. We record on our DVR the hour long local news then we record the National news.

So every once in a while, the local news stations start following a car chase on the freeway from their news chopper. Last night was one of those nights. All you can see is the red lights from the perp’s car and the LA Highway Patrol in pursuit. Most of the time the chase continues until either the perp runs out of gas or gets into a crash. Seeing that is dark, you can’t even see it.

So that’s all they do for the entire broadcast. No local weather, no sports, nothing. It’s not just KTLA. other channels do the same thing. Don’t the stations have anything else to report on than a car chase?

I don’t remember Boston TV stations doing similar foolishness.

I usually give them 5 minutes and then switch the channel to something interesting.

Fire!

November 10, 2018

We are in the fire season right now. Bill Patzert (climatologist) once said that there are four seasons in California, drought, fire, rain and mudslides. Right now we are in “fire season”. The above seasons, it seems are not of the same length. It seems that we have been in “fire season” for a long time.

These seasons are a vicious cycle. First comes the fire, which burns away all of the scrub grass, then comes the rain which creates mud (and slides) and finally drought. And then, we start all over again. Rainy season is generally accepted will start some time in January.

The most recent fire is called the “Woolsey Fire” which is currently burning about 70,000 acres in an area north of Malibu in LA and Ventura counties. At our home in San Pedro, we get a small scent of burning wood when the wind is blowing out of the north. We are not in any danger right now.

You know that you live in California, when you have an app on your phone that shows the current fire “map”. By the way, the app is free. Here’s the current fire map of California. Note, the two red dots just north of LA. These are the two fires that are near us.

Here are a few pictures:

Evacuation from Malibu

Ramona

August 5, 2018

So today we were about to start for home from our visit to Escondido, CA for the Grand Organist Reception last night. So we wanted to do something more than just head back up the freeway to LA. We decided to take a side trip up to the small town of Ramona, CA up in the NE corner of San Diego County.

So our friend Roberta suggested we head up to Ramona. This is a small town up in the middle of nowhere. We had a nice scenic drive. By this time of year, most everything is brown. So we got there in fine time. Stopped for gas and Paula went for a walk. She found a Masonic Lodge, then we drove around and we found a second lodge. Two lodges in town. I’m impressed.

 

 

So here’s some info on Ramona. Seems to have many businesses. There was a Dunkin Donuts!. Don’t even have one in San Pedro. Also had a Starbucks, Albertsons and gas stations. I filled up the Nissan. Seems like the mileage is running about 30 mpg.

So I said to Paula, “I think there was a song written about “Ramona”. So I did a search on YouTube and found a couple of ditties from back in the day. Here are the links.

First is a song by Bob Dylan named “Ramona

Next was a song by David Whitfield also called “Ramona“. Released in 1961.

And finally, “Ramona” by Louis Armstrong.

Hearst Castle

October 11, 2016

William Randolph Hearst was an American newspaper publisher born in 1863 and died in 1951. Mr Hearst built the nation’s largest newspaper chain. In 1919 he began work on what is now known as the Hearst Castle near San Simeon, CA on California’s central coast. The castle was designed from 1919 to 1947 by Julia Morgan of San Francisco. The castle was under construction right up until he died in 1951.

2016-10-07-12-07-39The estate covers 250,000 acres. The main house “Casa Grande'” sits on a hill at 1600′ in the Santa Lucia range and about 5 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. The castle is about 200 miles from San Francisco and 200 miles from Los Angeles. Mr Hearst has been quoted as saying:

I would like to build something upon the hill at San Simeon. I get tired of going up there and camping in tents. I’m getting a little too old for that. I’d like to get something that would be a little more comfortable.

The property is managed by the California State Parks and is open for public tours. Tours can be reserved on their website. When I was arranging our tour, I found out that they had “Accessible” tours for folks who might have difficulty with the many steps around the main mansion. I opted for this because of my difficulty climbing steep steps. Indeed, a customer service agent called me a few days after I made the reservation and asked whether I had any special needs (ie. wheel chair). I told him no wheel chair would be needed. What great service!

We rode in a golf cart up to a back entrance and Paula and I, plus two others had a pretty much private tour. One parks outside a visitor center and board a bus that takes you across many switchbacks as you climb to the castle. They had some chairs set aside for us along the tour if we get tired. Very thoughtful.

So back in the day, guests would take an overnight train either from LA or San Francisco to San Luis Obispo where Mr Hearst’s staff would pick them up at the train station and ride to the estate. Mr. Hearst also built an airstrip not far from the castle. Apparently, an invitation to the castle was very much in demand.2016-10-07-10-47-58

Among the many guests include the Marx Brothers, Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, Clark Gable, James Stewart and Bob Hope.

Here’s a picture of the famous Neptune Pool. Unfortunately, the pool is under construction to retrofit the tiling. Click here to see a picture taken before the pool was drained for reconstruction.

Our tour started with the main kitchen. The kitchen was state of the art for the 1930’s. It had a real refrigerator. It kind of looks like an ice box, but you can tell by the compressor on top that it’s a refrigerator. Hearst had his own private power plant on his property. Here a few pictures of the kitchen.

After the kitchen comes the main dining room. Guests were expected to attend the formal dinner in the evening.  Mr Hearst would sit at the middle of the table. He would sit people that he thought would be interesting to him close to him. If Mr Hearst found a guest to be not interesting, they would be shifted down to the end of the table.

The size of the rooms were designed to allow the art works to fit. In the dining room, there were tapestries on both walls.

After dinner, films were shown in the movie theater. The guests had to wait for an hour (often grumbling about waiting). The delay was to allow the kitchen and wait staff to finish their work and join Mr Hearst in the theater.

What mansion would be without a room for games. There a billiards room and card table rooms.

 

Statues? They’ve got statues. Too many to show. Here are a few.

Finally, the tour ends at the indoor pool. The water is so calm, that you almost don’t see it. The reflection is incredible. There are two tennis courts on the roof of the indoor pool.

That’s about it. Exit through the gift shop. All of the pictures were taken with my iPhone 6 plus.

 

 

 

Rain

January 10, 2016

This post is intended for my friends on the east coast. It is raining in Los Angeles. It has been raining off and on for last couple of weeks. It’s been snowing in the mountains. This is good for us. That doesn’t mean that I like it.

So I am a “blow-in”. I moved to San Pedro in the summer of 2012. The term “blow-in” is a somewhat derogatory term used in many suburban towns in Massachusetts. A “blow-in” is some one who has blown in from somewhere else and insists that they know how things ought to be run.

The opposite of a “blow-in” is a “townie”. A townie is someone who has lived there all their life along with their parents and the parent’s parents. A townie has had the same teachers in school as their parents.

But I digress. Back to the subject at hand, rain. Up until last week, I hadn’t seen rain in the better part of a year. I had almost forgotten how to turn on my windshield wipers. I had to dig out the umbrella from the back of my Jeep.

One way, we can tell if we have had a rainy winter is that one can see green grass growing on the hillsides. The same grass will be golden brown by August. This rain probably won’t mean the end to the drought, but it will help.

As many of you have heard that our rain is due to El Nino this year. El Nino changes the jet stream such that low pressure systems that would normally turn left at the Pacific coast and head up to Washington and Oregon. Now the low’s head right for LA.

In Mass. one never sees  any old VW beetles. They have all rusted away. In LA, 30 year old beetles are common. No rain means no rust.

The other effect of the rain is mud. After the wild fires in the summer, all of the vegetation is gone. So when it rains in the winter, there is nothing to hold the earth in place. The end result is mud slides. A very nasty mess.

I will close with a humorous video I recently found on youtube about how LA people react to the news of rain.