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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Winter Rain, or Lack of It: Experiencing L.A.

Winter Rain. It's something Los Angeles, and the rest of California needs badly.  

Los Angeles' Mediterranean climate is found in five places on earth: Southern California, Central Chile, Western/South Australia, South Africa, and - of course - the Mediterranean. Historically, it means cool, wet winters ... and warm dry summers. 

I say historically, because Los Angeles, along with the rest of California, is in the middle of an extreme drought. While the rest of the nation is dealing with an arctic vortex, Angelenos are basking in warm, sunny days - and the worst drought in over 100 years. 

These photos were taken along Main Street in Venice and Santa Monica a few years back. 

The Clown Building, located at the corner of Rose and Main in Venice. 

Starbucks (yes, they're everywhere), corner of Hill and Main in the Ocean Park district of Santa Monica. 

Pouring rain. Yes, it really rains in Southern California. I like how everyone is in a state of denial, just sitting outside. What is this, Florida?

That same day I continued on a few more mile up the coast to enjoy a hike on the Paseo Miramar trail in Pacific Palisades. Steep hill, great workout, and incredible views - especially after a rainstorm.

"Divine Providence" is the term used to describe God's provision - in terms of rain and everything else. In addition to normal rainfall, drought and flood are also part of the created order - and the natural cycle of life.

It doesn't negate a trust in God's provision to build reservoirs and plan for years with little to no rain. In the mean time, regardless of one's theological beliefs, it's important not to not waste what we have. Water is a very precious commodity.

Of course, if water was more expensive, you'd see a lot more conservation. My wife, kids, and I lived in L.A. for five years. Water - most of which is piped in from elsewhere - was relatively cheap. If fact, as crazy as it sounds, thousands of small apartment buildings in L.A. have one water meter for a 6 or 8 or 10 unit building. Water is just part of the rent, regardless of how much you use. So, at least in apartments, what incentive is there for the average Joe (or José) to conserve?

Meanwhile, along the California central coast, where we now live, water is four times more expensive. No one needs to be reminded to use water sparingly. It's too expensive to waste.

The Paseo Miramar hike trailhead is located at the end of Paseo Miramar in Pacific Palisades. Great hike. I highly recommend it. Parking is along the street, which can get very full on weekends. Please be respectful of the neighbors, and watch for no parking zones. 

© 2014

Friday, January 3, 2014

Experiencing L.A. - UCLA Gourmet Food Trucks

Gourmet Food Trucks, while not unique to Los Angeles, have definitely become part of the city, including the UCLA campus. 

Apparently the university allows (or allowed - these photos were taken a while back) four different food trucks on different days in the Court of Sciences. This is The Grilled Cheese Truck.

The Border Grill Truck. Although it was later in the day, both these trucks had customers waiting in line. And, yes, both these trucks have their own websites. 

Another view of the Grilled Cheese Truck. With bright colors and a fresh menu, these trucks have breathed new life into the standard taco truck. 

Here's a link to a previous post on my first experience of a gourmet food truck - just a few yards off campus in Westwood Village. 

These trucks were out and about while the Court of Sciences food court - a below ground fixture known as "The Bombshelter" - was undergoing a major renovation. That was three years ago. Time goes by fast: any Freshman in these photos are now Seniors; I'm curious if these trucks are still around. 

If you're visiting Los Angeles are REALLY want to find a gourmet food truck, you can't go wrong on Abott Kinney Blvd in Venice - or try this website to track down your favorite truck. 

UCLA's Court of Sciences is surrounded my MASSIVE research facilities, facility offices, and classrooms. The campus, which sits on 419 acres and is surrounded by some of the most expensive real estate in the nation, continues to go vertical. 

This walkway is normally packed with students heading to or from class. Not sure if it was the rain, or just later in the way, but the walkway was surprisingly empty. 

Immediately off the Court of Sciences is the incredible California NanoSystems Institute. 

This is one of the most amazing "unknown" buildings in Los Angeles and is absolutely worth seeing if you're any where near the UCLA campus. Here's a link to a re-post on the NanoSystems Institute, with more photos and additional information.

© 2014


Small Worlds & Bridges: California NanoSystems Institute UCLA

One of the most unique modern buildings buildings in Los Angeles is the California NanoSystems Institute located on the UCLA campus.

I walked by the exterior of this building for years - having no idea what the interior courtyard (pictured) looked like.

Taking a shortcut while on campus - I discovered the CNSI's interior courtyard with it's six different bridges connecting different random floors and parts of the building to each other.

Here's a arial view from google earth, where you can see the six different bridges. To the right is the UCLA south campus "court of the sciences."

The interior courtyard isn't really a courtyard.

This being Los Angeles, it's a parking lot.

You can see how the entire western side of the building cantilevers over the parking lot area - a pretty impressive feat of engineering.

Another shot of the bridges. It felt like a movie set.

From up above, you get another perspective. As this is a working research facility, access to several of the bridges was limited. I think it was OK walking around and taking pictures, but I didn't want to walk across a bridge only to find the door on the other side locked.

Thinking about it, I don't think I saw anyone walking on any of them the entire time I was there. That doesn't mean they're never used - but they did seem under used.

A final shot.

Apparently, the CSNI building is a "secure facility" (their words) but offers tours by appointment:

While maybe not worth a special trip, the California NanoSystems Institute is worth stopping by and seeing if you're any where near UCLA.

Here's their website.

© 2014
originally posted 10/16/10