From Mochi Factory to Art Space+

BRIGHT colors, solids, and structured look is how I roll. But last Saturday, a friend invited me to the east side of town to check out The Container Yard. Since I was going to be in that part of town for work anyway, I agreed. So, I donned jeans that were slightly ripped and rolled ’em up and put on an orange long sleeve shirt.  I added a long, blue scarf with pasley pattern around my neck, then finished up the look with some blue booties and a large handbag. I looked at myself in the mirror and did not see the structured Westside style I am comfortable with.  I must be ready for the east.

The Container Yard is located in the heart of the Arts District.  It’s on 4th Street, just south of Hewitt and around the corner from the Arts District Co-Op.  A large gate shelters the view of the space from 4th Street passers-by, both pedestrians and cars.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.  My friend said that the space was an old warehouse.  And that Saturday, the owners were opening the space to the public for the first time.  Then he mentioned that there were going to be food trucks and lots of art.

It was exactly as he described.

I was going to write a bit more about its history and the owners but LA Weekly covered it all in this article.  But below are some of the pictures I took from the grand opening.

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If You Give Me An Oreo, I’ll Tell You About Earthquakes

I love field trips. I enjoy experiential learning out in the field. Fortunately, I have a diverse group of friends from various fields who invite me to their events. My favorite kind of field trips are science field trips where I get to learn about my super smart friends’ worlds. Through my friends, I have been able to get a closer look (get special tours) at really cool places such as JPL and SpaceX. Recently, my friend Matt, an earthquake engineer, and I toured the San Andreas Fault with the Southern California Section of the American Chemical Society.

It was an early Saturday morning road trip to San Bernardino but it was worth it. The group met at Cal State University – San Bernardino, which was pretty much right next to the mountains. The tour was led by Dr. Robert DeGroot, a.k.a. Bob, who was the Project Manager at the Office of Experiential Learning & Career Advancement at the Southern California Earthquake Center at the University of Southern California. Got that? But, at the end of the day, Bob was a chemist at heart. He quipped about his colleagues from “other sciences” such as biology throughout the day. He’s still friends with them.


Bob took our group of 40 or so to the geology lab where he gave us an overview– an orientation– of the items in our packets, the plan for the day, and an activity to get us started. The group was comprised of professionals but there were a couple of families who brought their teenagers. The presentation, as well as the entire day, was very newbie/regular person friendly. I do not have a science background but I understood a lot of the concepts. It also helped that the first activity to explain the basics of tectonic plate movements involved Oreos. The activity was actually created by Robert J. Lillie, who wrote a book called, “Parks and Plates: The Geology of Our National Parks, Monuments, and Seashores.” Science and food… I will have to check out this book.

Below are my takeaways from the lab intro:

I thought we were going to drive to the Fault but it was about a 2 kilometer hike from campus. From the campus, you could see where the Fault might be just by looking at the vegetation. You could see that there was a change in landscape, e.g. bushes not present in other parts of the mountain. Bob encouraged us to pick up rocks and feel the dirt in our hands. We stopped several times and he explained to us the geology of the area. For example, Badger Hill was 60 million years old and made up of metamorphic sedimentary rocks. Bob explained the concept of erosion (movement and transport) to us and why some of the rocks we picked up were not jagged (because they have not been transported enough).

Hike takeaways:

  • Mountain High Ski Resort is on the San Andreas Fault.
  • Faults, in general, have many different strands.
  • The San Bernardino Strand of the San Andreas Fault is on the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate.
  • On top of Badger Hill, there is a GPS that could detect the plates’ motion in millimeter square. It moves 15 millimeters per year.
  • Why everyone is and should be freaking out:
    • There have been a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in most of the Fault’s stretch every 150 years, BUT
    • the southern portion of the San Andreas Fault (from San Diego to San Bernardino area) has not had one in 350 years.

Someone asked if a bunch of smaller earthquakes– the 5.0 magnitude variety– would be better than just having The Big One. Bob answered it with the spaghetti strand experiment:

  • 5.0 magnitude = 1 strand of spaghetti (listen for the crack; look for how it breaks)
  • 6.0 magnitude = 32 strands of spaghetti (try to listen for the crack, or if you can even crack it; note how it breaks and how it doesn’t break in the same place)
  • 7.0 magnitude = 32 x 1,000 strands of spaghetti
    and so on…

    • Bottom line: The larger it is, the harder it is to break. But when it finally breaks as a group, notice how each strand breaks at a different place and how, the more strands there are, the more it is all over the place. That’s basically our situation: When The Big One hits, huge and all over the place. That gives a whole different perspective to our 4.5’s, doesn’t it?  Like, whatevs.

We hiked back down to the lab to eat our lunch. As I chewed my turkey on white Subway Sandwich which, at that time, tasted like filet mignon after the warm and super breezy hike, I thought about how much nature is all around us, how much is going beneath and above us even when it feels still, and how little most of us know about it.

We all need to take more field trips.

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Other info:

What to do if there is an earthquake: DROP. COVER. HOLD ON.

A Flavorful Community

Culver City is bursting with flavors. While Akasha and City Tavern continue to be Downtown Culver City institutions, new hot spots, such as The Wallace, are also attracting foodies and locals alike. West on Washington, the Alibi Room continues to be a stronghold with their drinks and unique bar food, while A-Frame gets re-conceptualized. And in the middle of West Washington Boulevard and Downtown, there is an occasional gathering of food entrepreneurs and restaurant hopefuls.

I recently attended the World Foodie Fair held at LA Spice Cafe on Sepulveda Boulevard. The gathering was a pop-up: eight food entrepreneurs who want to kickstart their dream offer a sample of their food to determine if their food is good enough. Cost to sample is minimal: $1 for one tasting ticket, most samples cost three tickets. I sampled four of the eight stations: Pablo Chang, Cheeky Styley, Mexicain, and Opium Chocolate. Attendees also received a bonus ticket to sample Craft Meatball.

Craft Meatball is possibly the best meatball I have ever had; it was meaty and flavorful without the flavor overwhelming the meat. The roasted meatball was topped with cream Roquefort sauce. Cheeky Styley’s beef cheek cream puff was made with traditional French Choux pastry filled with tender Bordelaise braised beef cheeks and blue cheese potato mash then topped with horseradish cream and grated parmesan; it was also delicious. The description was true– it really melted in my mouth. And Pablo Chang did a great job fusing the flavors with his Asian barbecue pork belly with slaw and wasabi mayo. As to be expected, my sweet tooth required something post eating anything savory. I tried Opium Chocolate’s macaron with a surprise flavor. It was good, but I couldn’t identify the flavor: sweet with a slightly sweet/sour after taste. But the talk of the night was Mexicain’s French-inspired churros with sea salt dulce de leche. From the time I checked in at the door, I was urged by everyone I encountered to make sure I save three tickets for the churro station. They were right. I should have saved six.

At the end of the evening, attendees were asked to vote for their favorite. Food entrepreneurs who received the most votes got invited to the next World Foodie Fair along with a new set of entrepreneurs. After five minutes, two sheets, and checking and unchecking my vote, I finally decided on one and submitted the sheet before I could change my mind again.

Besides the food, what I appreciated about World Foodie Fair was the community effort. Husband and wife team Steve and Leanne Schwartz, who owns the building and operates LA Spice Cafe, respectively, not only opened up the space– including the kitchen– to the food entrepreneurs, but were also present and supportive throughout the event. World Foodie Fair organizers also explained that, prior to exhibiting samples at the event, food entrepreneurs met with a World Foodie Fair chef for feedback on the flavor and presentation.

With already exciting restaurants that align Washington Boulevard from the east to the west, coupled with a community supportive and nurturing of food entrepreneurs, Culver City will continue to be an exciting food destination.

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My Race Course Is Cooler Than Yours

Students Run LA (SRLA) provides a six-month long-distance running program to prepare middle and high school students to enter and complete the Los Angeles Marathon.  Students run with their leaders three to four times a week and attend community races that bring all the SRLA groups together.  Team leaders also prepare in their role as an SRLA leader by attending a Leaders Training Conference.  Over the six month period, students participate in a 5K, 10K, 15K, two half marathons, and an 18-mile run, culminating with the Los Angeles Marathon.  The program provides students with a safe, supervised program of exercise, mentoring and goal setting, a healthy and constructive alternative to involvement in gangs, use of illegal substances, and sitting in front of the television.  The students learn that hard work and persistence leads to success.

I’m fortunate that I am able to crash their runs, especially their 15K at Universal Studios Backlot.

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Following the Path of Bieber

Trying to learn how to become a superstar in one happy hour.

Pics from YouTube Space LA Happy Hour.  Basically, it’s a YouTube movie studio.  Access is for those with lots of followers.  My friend Jacob and I were probably the only two without a YouTube station.  Ok, I have one but I only have one video. Anyway, the event was fun and had “HollyTechies”– a portmanteau of ‘Hollywood’ and ‘Technology’.  My friend Jacob coined this word so I can’t take credit.  But just imagine the kind of people you would see sipping chai latte on Melrose Avenue on a weekday and techie folks in one big, industrial, artsy room.  The name badge displayed our name, interests, and channel.  Jacob recognized YouTube personalities (is that what you call it?) in the room and most seemed to know each other.  Meanwhile, we toured the space, explored, and people-watched.

It was so… L.A.!  We loved it!

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The Randomly Selected Ones

When I was 9 years old and was living back in the old country– the Philippines– I collected Tang UPC Codes.  I collected Tang UPC codes because you could exchange them for a NASA Space Pen, the kind astronauts used.

Collecting the codes required effort. My family lived in a small fishing town.  We shopped at a public market made up of small stores and local vendors where bartering skills were imperative.  In order to purchase Tang, we had to go to the supermarkets in Manila, which was at least a couple of jeepney rides away.

Back then, I didn’t– couldn’t– even dream about going to NASA.  NASA was in another country, thus, out of reach.  And, in my 9 year-old my mind, it was a special place only accessible to important people doing really big things.  The pen was as close as I was going to get to NASA.

Receiving the e-mail that I was one of the 100 randomly selected to participate in NASA JPL Social on November 4th and 5th was surreal.*

Most of the pictures below are from the first half hour.

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*I have been to JPL before, but it’s a completely different experience when you are there with some sort of a badge.

Curiosity Visits Endeavour

This is just a teaser.  More on the NASA-JPL Social Media event in my next posts.

My current obsession is the Spacecraft 3D app, which is one of NASA-JPL’s mobile apps.  Most of the apps are educational. For example, instead of going to the website, NASA’s Earth Now can be in the palm of your hand.  And, instead of a flat view, the app allows users to view stunning visualizations of climate change data from NASA’s Earth satellites on a 3-D model of Earth. The model can be rotated and manipulated for an all-encompassing view of stats.

But, back to the Spacecraft 3D app…

This how the 3D app works:

  1. Download the app on your Android or Apple device.
  2. Download the target.
  3. Open your app and choose a spacecraft.
  4. Place the target where you want your spacecraft. Flat area works best.
  5. Wait for a bit until the spacecraft magically appears.
  6. Voila!
  7. To save the screen shot, click the settings button.

Your friends will be jealous! Ok, maybe not ‘jealous’, but they will think it’s super cool.

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