Archive for September, 2006

So What Happens When You Squeeze an Orange in Space?

This one should be filed in the “Way” outdoors category if there was one.

A second Orange County astronaunt has reached space and is now working aboard the International Space Station. Michael Lopez-Alegria. who grew up in Mission Viejo, will be the Commander of the ISS for the next six months.

The other OC Astronaut that I can think of is Cal State Fullerton’s Tracy Caldwell.

Coup in Thailand

While this isn’t OC related (it may be if you are from Thailand and you live in the OC), there was a coup by the Thai Military while their Prime Minister was at the UN in New York.

For local on the ground reporting, go visit Metroblog Bangkok.

Orange County Atheists Meeting Tonight!

A reminder that the next meeting of the Orange County Atheists will be held Tonight, September 19 at 7:30pm at the International House of Pancakes at 18542 MacArthur Blvd in Irvine. If you consider yourself an atheist, an agnostic, a freethinker, a humanist, or are just curious, check out this month’s event. If you’re planning on attending please RSVP at our website forums. Hope to see you there!

Can World Domination be Far Behind?

After reading about the $7 million dollars that the Orange County Transportation Authority is going to plunk down for a feasiblility study for high-speed rail between Anaheim and Los Angeles, it is clear that the city of Anaheim stands to gain the most from the installation of the rail.

All this coincides with Anaheim’s ambitions to become the “downtown” of Orange County, as they have very clearly stated in city literature, as well as supporting the plans with the Platinum Triangle and the OC Transportation Hub. Of course, already having the Pond, Angel Stadium, the Convention Center and that little thing called Disneyland doesn’t hurt either.

I wonder what residents of other cities, such as Santa Ana or Irvine think about Anaheim’s aspirations.

Or is it already a foregone conclusion?

Bye, Bye Diedrich Coffee?

This is not good news. Late last week it was announced that Diedrich coffee had sold most of it’s stores to Starbucks in order to “focus on wholesaling coffee to restaurant chains, specialty stores and offices.” Now don’t get me wrong, more of my money goes to Starbucks than to Diedrich’s — but only because there are three Starbucks locations within two and a half miles (two on my commute route) and the nearest Diedrich Coffee is just over two and a half miles away. And in the wrong direction. But when when I do visit them I’ve found that the coffee — and their prices — are better than at the more convenient Starbucks. And most of their local stores offer free wifi while Starbucks sold their customers to T-Mobile.

Anyone know of a good alternative offering good coffee and free wifi in Orange County — particularly in the Orange, Tustin and UCI neighborhoods?

The Newest in Animatronics at Disney

Thursday finally found us making our way to Disneyland, thanks to that wonder of benefits called flex time. We found ourselves rather giddily hopping on the Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters three times in a row with no wait. Unfortunately, even though we asked prettily, the guys wouldn’t let us just stay on, we had to get off and get back into the nonexistent line. Boo on crabby ride operators. You have no business being crabby at the Happiest Place on Earth!

After the third time, we noticed a crowd gathered around what looked remarkably like a trashcan. Well, it was a trashcan, but it just so happened to be a talking trashcan. It had wheels that enabled it to whirl around, and I think it’s “mouth” moved, but that could have been just a by-product of the wheel movement. I’m not really all that familiar with the mechanics of talking trashcans.

As the trashcan bantered with my son, asking him his name and doing R2-D2 impressions, I knew there had to be someone with a camera or a remote, so I looked around. There he was, trying to blend into the crowd, but his hand over his mouth and the bulky bag at his feet containing the remote apparatus was a dead giveaway. I had a manic urge to point him out, but how could I ruin the fun for all the kids, who were totally enchanted? And let me tell you, this guy was hilarious. It made my son’s day that the trashcan at Disneyland knew his name and wanted to play hide and seek.

You might say simple minds, simple pleasures, but that trashcan is pretty cool. I hope they keep it.

Icons or Inconsequential?

The Los Angeles Times has an interesting article today about Orange County, and what architecture people use to define it.

In it, the reporter asks various notable people to list three pieces of architecture that for them, put Orange County on the cultural map. The responses vary widely, from the Crystal Cathedral to Balboa Pavilion to the Matterhorn. Someone even mentions the Huntington Beach Pier.

It all ties into the opening tonight of the officially named Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. The Segerstrom family has made its mark upon Orange County, and continue to do so with this building. Does it rival the Disney Concert Hall? I can’t say as I haven’t seen Segerstrom Hall yet, other than in pictures. Although I did think the hype surrounding the Disney Hall was a bit overmuch. Although nice to look at (and some would even debate that) it was by no means totally original, as it looks to my amateur eye to simply be a copy of Gehry’s Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain.

But, back to the architecture question. If I were to pick three pieces that are iconic to Orange County, I would have to include the Matterhorn, the Huntington Beach Pier, and Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Which ones would you pick?

Justice: “Behind the Orange Curtain”

When I got home tonight from work, I decided to sit down and fire up the trusty TiVo box to see if any thing good was on. The occasional rerun of CSI:NY, The Daily Show, and the Colbert Report was there, but the show “Justice” caught my eye.

Tonight’s episode was called “Behind the Orange Curtain.” In the episode a bartender from a bar called “Laguna’s” is accused of murdering the daughter of an OC Millionaire. The team defending the bartender is a hotshot group from an L.A. lawfirm called TNT&G who can play the media game and set the stage for the perception of their clients.

The show had a few great scenes and one liners about “The OC.”

A montage showing the differences between LA Jurors (Democrat, Liberal, connected to the film industry) and OC Jurors (mostly Republicans, conservative, church going folk who route for the Angels and vote for the Prosecutor every-time). Maybe that’s why I never got called for a trial when I had to go for Jury Duty (it was that or the fact that I actually love Jury Duty, hey call me strange).

In one scene the head attorney is talking to his client and says: ” Suck it up and stop whining. This is a County that named their airport after John Wayne for christ sake.”

Needless to say the L.A. attorneys won their case in the end and the OC DA was sent home packing. Hey, it’s television, the main character can’t lose.

How Can You Go Wrong With Ducks and Turtles?

For years I walked the corridors and pathways of Cal State Fullerton, never realizing that practically right on campus was the Fullerton Arboretum.

Somehow, we found it about five years ago, and have enjoyed visiting many times since.

Sandwiched between the new(ish) dorms and the baseball stadium, there are acres of flowers, cacti, trees and even a couple of lakes and a stream. There is a children’s garden as well as a historical homestead that is open on the weekends to view.

It is certainly no Huntington Gardens, but it has its own calming charm. On my last trip, there was a man who was clothed head to toe in aqua and purple (including headband and socks) while performing his tai chi. As long as he is not there to visually impair you, sitting by the lake and watching the ducks and turtles swim lazily can be extremely relaxing.

Best of all, admission and parking are free, although they do request a two dollar donation. Each time I go, I mentally chalk up how much money I technically owe them, as I have yet to pay up. Shame on me, I know.

Is It Just Us?

We went to that most venerable of Orange County institutions the other day, Watson’s.

I have been going to Watson’s for years, long before I ever moved into Orange County, so I feel that I have some context with which to work.

Is it just me or are things going downhill a bit?

We weren’t that thrilled with the food, and may I blaspheme by saying the ice cream tasted not-so-good?

I remember craving their hamburgers and curly fries, with visions of their chocolate malts dancing in my head.

But we actually thought after our visit that it would be our last for a while.

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