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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One Friday Afternoon…

Hidden gem in the City of San Fernando.  A cool place to be alone with other people.


  • A girl organizing her personal finances (as can be seen with her receipts and other files)
  • Someone on their laptop, intently typing
  • A group of three guys in their 20s, discussing how to improve instruction in schools
  • A group of women, just chit-chatting

If you are in the City of San Fernando, definitely check out Compañía de Café.  Check out this LA Times article to learn more about their story.

Compañía de Café

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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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Shout Out To Billy

I am now a fan of freestyle wrestling.

I had the opportunity to watch the World Cup Men’s Freestyle Wrestling this past weekend.  Prior to Saturday, the only things I knew about freestyle wrestling were 1) it was at the ancient Olympic Games, 2) the International Olympic Committee almost removed it from the program, and 3) my friend Dan wrestled in high school.

But 3 minutes into watching wrestling, I was hooked.

I didn’t know the rules but it was easy enough to understand after one round: competitors were supposed to stay within the circle and were awarded various points based on the attacks and holds.  At the end of the 6 minutes, whomever has the most points win.  However, a competitor may win even before the 6-minute mark if they have 11 points more than their opponent.  For example, in one round, Iran shut out Turkey with 11-0 points just after the 5-minute mark.

Wrestling is pure and simple.  You don’t need an expensive helmet like football, bats and balls like baseball, or a boat like rowing.  Although they compete on mats and wear uniforms and shoes, in its simplest form, you only need space and an opponent to compete.  The sports is a competition of strength and strategy.

And now, my shut out to Billy Baldwin.  Many people were involved in the process but perhaps because Hollywood got involved, the issue that wrestling might be removed from the Olympic program actually made it on the news.  Fortunately, their efforts were successful and wrestling was reinstated for the 2020 Olympic Games.  More importantly, Billy Baldwin brought wrestling back to the forefront.  The attention the sport received brought back its relevance.

Wrestling is relevant because, unlike baseball, American football, and dressage, it is recognized throughout the world and it is accessible.  The closest other sport is probably soccer– the real futbol.  Wrestling, like other international sports, brings diplomacy.  Last Saturday, I witnessed athletes representing countries on the opposing sides of politics on the same mat– even the same circle. Prior to each session, they lined-up facing each other, then greeted each other, and shook hands. Before each weight division began a round, they respectfully acknowledged each other before the timer began.

Billy Baldwin, through his efforts– fight– in ensuring wrestling continued to be a part of the Olympic program, also reminded the world of why wrestling is a true and important sport.  Wrestling is displays athleticism and the true spirit of sports.

Iran v. Turkey; Armenia v. India
Iran v. Turkey; Armenia v. India
How is this guy able to maintain his balance on one leg while the other dude is pushing him out???
How is this guy able to maintain his balance on one leg while the other dude is pushing him out???
Iran wins the round.
Iran wins the round.