November 27, 2016
Palm Springs Construction
November 21, 2016
LA Opera - Akhnaten
Los Angeles Music Center - the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is on the right.
Composer Philip Glass and conductor Matthew Aucoin had a talk in the lobby before the performance. Philip Glass is in the crowd in the upper right with his hand on a lady's shoulder.
Here's a short video that gives you a few brief samples of the performance. The jugglers were amazing. Often there was so much action on the stage that you just couldn't follow it all - a sort of five-ring circus. It was great!
If you want a sampling of the music, here is the first 10 minutes and 44 seconds of the opera.
Akhnaten himself is sung by a counter-tenor. Here Anthony Roth Costanzo explains how he prepared.
Akhnaten imposed a monotheistic religion on Egypt during his reign (1353 BC to 1336 BC). His queen was Nefertiti. His son was Tutankhamen. More facts.
The L.A. Cultural Heritage Commission visited Hotel Cecil on Main Street. The lobby is quite nice. They also took us up to the 14th floor to see a couple of typical rooms. Most rooms do not have baths, so there are shared toilets and showers on each floor. All of the rooms are small; about 11' by 17'. We saw one room that had no bath and it was pretty small, but included a small flat screen TV and a clock radio that included a mount for an iPod (the old Apple connection, not Lightning). Then they showed us a room with a bath. It was still 11' x 17', so they just used almost all the open floor space to put a bathroom (shower, toilet, sink) in there. There was about 18 inches of clearance on either side of the bed, and if there was any furniture besides the bed, I can't recall it. The hotel is now doing business as "Stay On Main." The rooms are very plain,
Catalina Swimwear Building
On a tour with the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission. Here's the Wikipedia article for Catalina Swimwear.
The building is live/work lofts. That's one of the Commissioners front and lower center.
A bit of newer stuff was pulled off to reveal some of the original facade, which will be restore.
Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission
On Thursday morning last week I attended a 9 AM meeting of the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission in LA City Hall. They had two things on their agenda that morning: first was to consider designating the Bob and Dolores Hope Estate in Toluca Lake as a monument; second was to go visit and tour Hotel Cecil and the Catalina Swimwear Building. It was the second thing that I came for, but the Bob Hope house issue was very interesting.
Above is the Google Earth view of the estate.
Below is what the public could see from the street.
The place is owned by the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation. First the staff made its presentation with a slide show and talk all about how ultra famous Bob Hope was. Under Los Angeles law there are two different bases that can justify declaring something a monument. One basis is the usual: great cultural, historical, architectural (etc.) significance. The second is that it was the home of a celebrity. The Bob Hope house was proposed (by a city council member) due solely to the celebrity status. Staff admits it has no cultural, historical, architectural (etc.) significance. In discussion the Commissioners said that in L.A. they obviously are not going to declare every residence of every celebrity a monument or they would consume a significant portion of the housing market. But they agreed that Bob Hope was just about the most famous person in the world.
After the staff report the Foundation got up to make their comments. They were daughter Linda Hope and a couple of other people, one of whom may have been an attorney. They told us quite a different story than staff told. Right off the bat, Linda Hope said they had the wrong address. The correct address is 10346 Moorpark Street. Staff had supplied the address as 10350 Moorpark Street. No points for staff there. Then she went on to explain that while staff had described the house as French Chateau style, only the original house was French Chateau and that Dolores Hope had almost continually added wings and additions so that now the house was some sort hodge-podge of no significance. She also disputed their description of the grounds which staff said included a "one-hole par 3 golf 'course'." Linda Hope said it was only a small decorative thing that could not really be used for golf.
Worse, she said, was that there was no way the Los Angeles public could access the house. In the '90s the Hopes had considered making it into a museum, but quickly learned that since it was in a quiet upscale residential area with narrow streets, there was no way it could be a museum open to the public. So the Hopes' final instructions were to use the estate to help fund the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation. The intention of the trustees was to sell it. The place had been sitting on the market for ages but not long ago the first decent offer was submitted. That was when the city council member asked that the Cultural Heritage Commission consider the property. The decent offer was immediately withdrawn.
Linda Hope listed all of the memorials to Bob Hope that are scattered over the Los Angeles area. She said each and every one of those was more significant to the legacy of Bob and Dolores Hope than the estate. Later, Commissioners said they were surprised by the list, not realizing there were already so many memorials; so obviously staff didn't do that research either.
A couple of residents got up to also speak against the designation, but the essence of their arguments was that Toluca Lake is a beautiful, quiet community and any kind of monument there would bring traffic, noise and lower property values. The President of the Commission interrupted both of those commenters (!) to tell them that was of absolutely no concern to this Commission.
One Commissioner suggested giving monument status to only the hedge and gate in front of the house, because those were the only things the public would ever see. I was pretty sure that was a joke, but the President went ahead and explained how impractical that would be.
Finally, a Commissioner made the motion to deny monument status and that was approved 5-0. The decision now goes to city council, since it had originated there and city council could overrule this decision.
The meeting was adjourned and we headed out on our field trip.
November 19, 2016
Rare Double Survival Of Lost Desert Hikers
None of the details of how this all came down are included in this article and I imagine the couple haven't talked to any press about it. I was astonished that after being found they decided to go to Joshua Tree where they would spend the night. That is far from a direct route home. It sounds like they're continuing their vacation! They sound pretty tough. I hope they make some babies.
In the map below, Black Mountain Road, where they were found, is roughly diagonal across the center of the image. They seem to have been not too far from a broadcast tower. I wonder if the lights they spotted were on that tower.
November 14, 2016
This is something to watch
Drones, Chapter 2
There are enough drones in a sufficient number of hands now, it became inevitable that they'd finally be used for some real nitty gritty. This is not pleasant to watch and it’s got some really good swearing, but there’s no blood or gore…or even sex!
November 13, 2016
Blythe Outlawed Marijuana Sales
But that was some time ago when the issue was solely medical marijuana. Now, however, the city leaders see that Blythe could be THE city to supply recreational marijuana to all of Arizona...illegally, of course, but how many cops can Arizona tie up just to watch for marijuana to cross the Colorado River.
November 4, 2016
DHS Dispensary #6
The city's sixth medical marijuana dispensary is open, and this is the one that's only one block from where I live! Great for the day I'm in a wheelchair. They give their web address as IVTHC.com, but it looks like they let their domain registration slip, because there's nothing there now. They are on the west side of Palm Drive almost at 4th Street, 11555 Palm, immediately next to the dentist's office, in that set back building that used to be a dentist's office.
Here's their Weedmaps page. They opened only yesterday, November 3. Hours are 10 AM to 7 PM, every day of the week.
It's the building on the left.
Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable)
Over the last week I've had my first go-round with Spectrum, which has taken over Time Warner Cable, and it is not good. I've been paying about $80/month to Time Warner for internet service only, 30 Mbps download, 5 Mbps upload. I've been getting mailers from Spectrum that seem to say they are offering internet at 100 Mbps for only $30/month. But if you read the fine print you'll see that's only if bundled with other services that I don't want.
So I called Spectrum a week ago, Friday, October 28 to inquire. The deal I was given then was a bundle of only phone and internet, for a total of about $60, and the internet would be 100 Mbps. But they had to give me a new modem to handle the phone. The sales person said the 100 Mbps would be available within about 10 minutes (!) and the modem would be shipped FedEx and arrive Monday or Tuesday.
An hour later my internet was NOT 100 Mbps (using Speakeasy speed test), so I called sales again. Got a different person who said my order was "incomplete," and it wouldn't be complete until I got that new modem. He said that even though the modem I have now could handle 100 Mbps, they would not upgrade me until I received the new modem. It was not a hardware limitation, but solely a policy decision by Spectrum not to give me what I want immediately, even though they could do it. Further, this sales person told me that when I received the modem via FedEx I didn't have to do anything. My speed would simply jump up to 100 Mbps. I wouldn't have to call Spectrum or even install the new modem. The mere receipt of it would, of course, FedEx would update its tracking and Spectrum would see that I had it and that would trigger whatever needed to happen.
This seemed weird and unbelievable, but it satisfied me, because I didn't want phone service at all. My intent was to never take the new modem out of the box, get my 100 Mbps internet for only $60 for a year, and then when the special offer ended in a year I'd figure out what to do then.
On Monday, I got a call from Spectrum saying I needed to listen to instructions about my upcoming new phone service. What that is, is the explanation of how 911 works and how 911 may not have the location of my phone for a few days, and that if I moved I needed to update my info so 911 would be updated. No problem. Except I had listened to those instructions on Friday as part of the first sales call. I told this caller that, and she said there was no record of it. I told her if she needed to play some recording for me, then go ahead and play it. She played a recording, but it wasn't about 911. Sounded more like a sales offer. Then it ended. So I hung up.
By Wednesday I still had not gotten the modem and my speed checks showed my 30 Mbps had had actually fallen to less than 10 Mbps (sometimes less than 5!), so I called tech support. They could not find anything wrong, so they scheduled a tech visit for Friday, November 4 (today, as I write this). While I had the tech on the phone I asked him about the modem and he told me it would be delivered later on Wednesday.
The modem was never delivered.
On Thursday my service was back up to 30 Mbps and that seemed stable throughout the day, so late in the day I called Spectrum to cancel Friday's tech appointment. The technician I got on the phone, though, only wanted to talk about a service appointment he saw that had been scheduled for the same day I was calling, Thursday, from 10 AM to 7 PM! But that service call had been cancelled. Also, my entire order from last Friday had been cancelled. And he couldn't find any tech appointment for me on Friday! So, everything I had called Spectrum about over the last week had just disappeared.
So the tech on the phone offered to re-send the modem, but I asked if I could just go pick it up at the local office, so he set it up that way.
Today, Friday, I went over the Spectrum office on Palm Drive whereupon I was told by the service person that the ONLY way I could get 100 Mbps was to pay $99/month plus a $199 activation fee! So I told her to forget the modem and came home empty handed.
I called Spectrum sales again and asked what kind of deal I could get on internet. I was told I could only get a bundle of TV, phone and internet, for a total of $90, which is more than I'm paying for internet now, so I didn't want that. All I really want is faster service for the same or less money. I asked the sales person if there were any other options for getting internet service and he said no! No? We went back and forth on that for a bit, until he acknowledged that I could get 50 Mbps if I pay $110/month. So that was the end of that deal.
I'm sticking with my 30 Mbps at $80/month. Let me know how your experiences with Spectrum go.