Two Thirds Of The Fox Family Felt The Quake

FireShot-Screen-Capture-#002---'Google-Maps'---www_google_com_maps_@34_134916,-118_48597,3a,75y,27_3h,90t_data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1smimYdJKZc1uXvgSr660hcg!2e0There was an earthquake this morning. It came at 6:25:36 AM PDT. Helaine felt it. Stef felt it. Geoff slept!

It’s the first time in my life I can look at an epicenter and say, “I know where that is.” The plots put it just off Sepulveda, on the Valley side of Mullholland, overlooking Sherman Oaks and Encino in a beautiful area of expensive homes.

Helaine was awake. She knew what it was immediately and noted the time.

“The bed shook and the before it stopped shaking stuff started shaking on your nightstand.”

That’s at a distance of 53 miles.

Up in Hollywood and 45 miles closer to the epicenter, Stef was answering Roxie’s call for food. As they sat on the bed her ci15476961_ciim_geobuilding started to sway like one of those air powered attention getters that sit outside stores&#185.

Buildings are supposed to sway. It’s sway or snap! All modern buildings here are designed that way. That’s why a 4.4 quake did virtually no damage.

In the ’94 Northridge quake there were reports of liquefaction, where the ground temporarily acts like a liquid. None today. No major landslides either. That’s a big worry in areas that have had recent fires.

Earthquakes are a way of life in California. We live over a subduction zone. There is a constant buildup of pressure as the Earth’s crust bends, then breaks. The mythical “big one” will unleash hundreds, maybe thousands, of times the energy this little shake produced.

There are limits to our preparation.

&#185 – The closest I can find to their actual name is “wacky inflatable flailing arm advertising men.”

We’ve Got The Lede: It’s Raining

IMG_0700 rain on the roof

The TV was on in the family room as the noon news began. The lead story&#185:

Rain!

How much?

Will it be gone by Christmas?

To an outsider this might seem a little overboard… maybe to insiders too. My suspicion is it’s a much more valid lead than first meets the eye.

Let me dismiss the hyperbole first. It’s the 19th. This storm will be a faint memory by Christmas. Has California ever even seen a storm lasting six days over one spot?

Rain does have an impact here. Because it rains so infrequently, roads often have a light surface coating of oil and grease. Roads get slippery in a hurry. Freeway traffic which normally buzzes by in the 70s has to slow down.

During our last ‘storm’ the embankment adjacent to a freeway in the San Fernando Valley gave way, flooding the road and blocking traffic for most of the day.

When it comes to rain, Southlanders (is that an actual word?) are fragile flowers. Rain storms do impact them.

Anywhere else this rain wouldn’t be a concern. But this isn’t anywhere else. In SoCal we’re just not used to weather!

&#185 – Yeah, I know. This entry’s title says “lede”, but this sentence says “lead.” There’s no explanation. It just is!

Bitterly Cold–A Matter Of Perspective

us_tempdepartures_highs_day2_i1_points

Winter doesn’t officially begin for another few weeks. However, to meteorologists, winter has arrived!

So far SoCal has escaped. That’s about to change.

The map (above – courtesy HamWeather.com) compares Wednesday’s highs to the average for December 4. Cold air has dropped down from Canada. Instead of turning east, it’s mainly slithered south.

cali-freezeAlready NWS has issued Hard Freeze Warnings for the agriculturally important San Joaquin Valley. The Los Angeles office anticipates some frost or freeze as close as the San Fernando Valley (aka “The Valley”)

The official forecast has Los Angeles seeing upper 30&#176s and lower 40&#176s overnight all the way to the weekend.

A tease on Channel 7 warned of the “Bitterly cold weather” on the way.”

Bitterly cold? I guess it’s a matter of perspective.

So far this winter we’ve had the heat on around 25 minutes. I expect we’ll be multiplying that this week.

Last week I saw Grace, one of our neighbors, walking her dog Bailey. Grace was wearing a thermal jacket and scarf. It was in the sixties. I can’t imagine how she’ll dress for this.

Addendum:

Right after I posted this entry Ryan Maue put the map (below – click to enlarge) from the 00z European model on Twitter. It’s calling for a freeze all the way to the LA County coast by Monday! For SoCal that is serious weather.

lows Monday morning

What A Swell Party It Was

A few show biz veterans told stories from back in the day, stories liberally sprinkled with recognizable names. He was a deal maker. Another was a powerful attorney.

I am staying with my secretive friend from the Valley and his wife. Next to my own home this is the most comfortable place I’ve ever stayed. My friends are wonderfully accommodating. The house itself is oversized–not more rooms, but larger rooms.

I love this family of three. I love this place.

Today was my friend’s birthday. He is now sixty. There’s no good way to spin that.

He and his wife threw a fab party in the house and spilling out around the pool. Eddie, a friend of theirs I’ve known forever, cooked steaks and fish on the grill. There was green salad and fruit salad and tubs filled with ice and bottles.

The party was filled too!

A few show biz veterans told stories from back in the day, stories liberally sprinkled with recognizable names. He was a deal maker. Another was a powerful attorney.

Have you ever been out here in California? Paradise. My friends who live here tell me not so. I don’t see them moving back East.

Today’s temperature was whatever perfect is. The humidity was too low to care. There was a light breeze. The sky is a color we in Connecticut only see when they’re showing California on TV!

They let me take pictures.

I really hope no one minded, but I took like a zillion photos some of which will end up here. All of them will go to my friend as a remembrance of his birthday.

I used four lenses. This is like an addict bragging about how often he’s shot up. Everyone knows letting me take pictures is just feeding my photography Jones, right?

I don’t have permission from my host so I won’t be showing people right now.

I fly out Tuesday afternoon. Helaine and I should be reunited (and it feels so good) at the baggage claim at McCarran in Vegas early Tuesday evening.

Hey California: Don’t Kvetch About The Weather, OK? (video)

I don’t want to hear it. Was that clear enough? I just don’t want to hear it was crowded at the pool or the sunshine was blinding. Stifle it.

The mercury hit 100 degrees in San Diego today! Los Angeles came in at 96 degrees. People in Southern California were kvetching about the heat!

I don’t want to hear it. Was that clear enough? I just don’t want to hear it was crowded at the pool or the sunshine was blinding. Stifle it.

Thursday in Connecticut was awful. Chilly. Rainy. Breezy. Ugh!

I left work in a hard drizzle (yes, you can have a hard drizzle) that penetrated the atmosphere so effectively umbrellas were no help!

This would probably be a good night to start drinking! I’m frosted at Mother Nature and totally envious of my daughter who’s living in the San Fernando Valley complaining about the heat.

Cut me a break!

To you Stefanie I dedicate this video.

Another Busy Day In The Southland

He is the reason I had the opportunity to walk through a TV studio during an all nude show! Does that deserve thanks? These people should have remained clothed!

Another busy day in the Southland. We have only so many days in the warm California sun and so much to do. Helaine and I picked up Stef and headed south to “The OC.” We were meeting my cousins for lunch.

Cousin Melissa picked the spot which meant I was heading to a vegan restaurant for the first time in my life! The menu does list things like cheeseburgers, but without meat or cheese! Everyone working there looked gaunt.

“Is this like when grandma tried to convince me regular coffee and decaf were the same?” I asked Stef.

My burger was actually mostly shitake mushroom and it was pretty good–but it wasn’t a cow derived burger. I’m sure the burger tasted better than I allowed it to taste in my mind.

Cousin Melissa is an attorney currently running for the California Assembly. We were glad she was able to spring the time. I suspect she was glad to.

We are a small family. Cousin Michael and I have been close since birth. We don’t see him or Melissa enough.

As long as we were in Costa Mesa why not hit the mall? OK–that’s not my idea, it’s Stef’s, but I was willing to play along. I had “Clicky” with me and anything new is fodder for photography.

The mall is called “The Lab” and it is marketed as the anti mall. There’s an Urban Outfitters there. That’s not particularly anti.

What is different about The Lab versus everything we have back east is this mall is open air. There’s also some pretty interesting art on display including a fountain made of rusting barrels.

Possibly the most interesting moment of our mall adventure was when I mistakenly began to enter the Ladies Room. No harm, no foul, but I was close.

We drove back to Woodland Hills where I dropped Stef and Helaine then drove to my friend Howard’s office.

Here’s how Hollywood and the real world differ. While I waited for Howard someone at the reception desk showed me his new head shots! He’d gone from young and friendly to dark and brooding. I think the dark and brooding will work–if he has talent. This is a town of head shots!

Howard’s office is on the top floor of a midrise on Ventura Blvd. You go past the receptionist then down a hall full of busy people into an outer office and finally Howard’s corner office. The full length windows give a great view of the San Fernando Valley and even open to allow access to a small patio that hugs the outer wall.

Howard was on the phone as I walked in. He spends most of his day on the phone.

Before long Burt Dubrow joined us. Burt is a pioneer in daytime talk. He produced Sally Jessy Raphael and Jerry Springer among other shows. I’ve known Burt since he moved Sally to New Haven from St. Louis.

He is the reason I had the opportunity to walk through a TV studio during an all nude show! Does that deserve thanks? These people should have remained clothed!

I’ve got one more stop before the night is out. I’m heading to the West Side to meet and have a cup of coffee with Ross Ching. I’ve written about Ross before. He’s a young guy just getting started. I learned about him after seeing his time lapse videos. He’s a working director now. Very talented.

Scarily, tomorrow’s agenda is just as busy!

The Move: Tightening Loose Ends

I suspect Wachovia, along with all the other companies who put you through voice mail hell, are a little freer in spending your time than theirs!

I love Helaine and depend on her amazing organizational skill. In our little family if it’s done on time (or sooner) she’s involved! That’s one reason Stef’s upcoming move is so stressful to Helaine (besides the obvious). She wants the transition to be seamless and is working hard to assure it.

There are so many loose ends that need to be tied. This may be H’s wheelhouse, but it’s mind boggling to me! In this forest she sees each individual tree.

I called Wachovia to make some changes on Stef’s credit card. I was the original co-applicant and, as I’ve been told, will remain on the card. Now the address is changed.

Oh–speaking of which, if Wachovia has an option on its phone tree to allow you to speak to a real person I didn’t hear it. About five minutes into listening to my options I just blurted “agent,” which the system didn’t understand, then “representative” which it did.

The young sounding, American accented CSR was friendly and competent. Yes, Wachovia, that was both pleasant and a surprise. Shouldn’t it not be a surprise?

There are too many canned messages on the way to getting service. I suspect Wachovia, along with all the other companies who put you through voice mail hell, are a little freer in spending your time than theirs!

Nine of Stef’s boxes have arrived in the San Fernando Valley. One is still on its way as is her car. Hopefully they’re there before we are.

There’s always some unanticipated fly in the ointment, but at the moment Helaine’s attention to detail is paying off.

In a few days we switch to relying on my muscle. We’re in deep trouble.

It’s The Best Toy Ever

The iPhone is transformational technology. It will change your life.

apple-iphone-3g.jpg“It’s the best toy ever,” was what my secretive friend in the San Fernando Valley said right after he got his iPhone. He kept saying it and saying it and saying it until I too broke down. You know what? He was right.

I complained originally about the keyboard and inconsistencies regarding when or which apps allow you to turn the screen to the landscape position. Still true. Horrendous battery life. Also true. I have chargers or cables at home, work and in the car.

The iPhone is transformational technology. It will change your life.

More than likely what I’m saying also applies to the new phones running the Android operating system, like the Droid and the soon to be unveiled (but already widely seen) phone from Google itself!

If you just count hours I used the iPhone more when I first got it . Now I go for value and utility. I answer email and check Facebook and Twitter. I don’t update my blog with it… well I did once and it wasn’t fun!

I have added apps. I’ve added enough that every once in a while I clean things out and reclaim a little space.

I have been blown away by some of these little programs like the amazing ReelDirector video editor. That was $4.99 well spent! Everyone is astounded I can shoot and edit video in the phone and the quality is very good.

Tonight my friend Bob showed me Glympse, which will allow a friend to track you for a set period of time. If I was driving to your house I’d send a private url which would allow you to track me and know when I’d be there.

Sometimes I use the iPhone instead of my car radio to listen to shows on NPR. I flew cross country using it to watch movies. I keep France24, a 24-hour English language all-news TV network from France, as my live TV demo–though I seldom actually watch it otherwise.

Yes, it’s a phone. It’s also a computer which leverages special hardware, like a GPS receiver, compass, accelerometer and touch screen. That makes it a computer that knows exactly where it is and what’s nearby.

Every time a new app arrives the phone does a little more. That’s not going away any time soon.

Apple is a little controlling. I wish I could see a little more of the inner digital workings.

I’m sure my California friend is reading this and taking some satisfaction that he ‘made the sale.’

Filling Boxes For Stef’s Move

Stef is moving on January 6. Her belongings are heading out first. That’s why there’s a packing frenzy on this day before Christmas.

“I have enough plaid shirts–truly.” Those were Stef’s words as she pulled a single shirt from a packing box and handed it to Helaine. One shirt in this undertaking is the equivalent of “pissing in the ocean!&#185”

Stef is moving on January 6. Her belongings are heading out first. That’s why there’s a packing frenzy on this day before Christmas.

Thanks to the sage advice of a friend who’s “been there, done that” Stef’s stuff is going to California via FedEx Ground. Sorry USPS, you’ve been beaten on this job. FedEx is cheaper with superior tracking.

I vaguely remember my first move from home. I can guarantee you it had none of the organizational skill Helaine is lending to this move. I sort of threw things in my VW and headed out. I still had enough room left over to pick up a hitchhiker who then let me sleep on a dorm floor at Georgetown!

Stef will arrive in California with all her stuff, even her car, waiting for her. That’s a lot more than I could have handled.

She just walked by with a full load of handbags heading toward a box. I stared.

“I left a bunch of them upstairs,” she said.

I’m a guy. This is not my expertise. Still, I didn’t know a single person could have that many bags without also owning a store.

In Stef’s defense this has been her home for 20 years. You accrue over time. She especially accrues!

The boxes and car are being shipped to my secretive friend in the San Fernando Valley. Hopefully the timing is right for her possessions to get there not long before we do (and certainly not after).

Along with the physical baggage there’s emotional baggage attached to this trip. Even at college Stef was never more than an hour or two away. Now she will be fully a country away. That’s a big change for all of us.

This physical moving of freight is no big deal compared to the other.

&#185 – Update: I am told the shirt Stef is leaving is actually Helaine’s shirt, though she has never worn it!

Confessions From An iPhone App Slut

They do a lot, but I suspect they would do more if there wasn’t such a stringent approval process from Apple–the controlling psychotic girlfriend of computing.

apple-iphone-3g.jpgAfter a few weeks with my new toy cellphone I am an iPhone app slut. There, I’ve said it. It’s out in the open now.

Apps are the little plug-in programs that extend the functionality of the iPhone. They do a lot, but I suspect they would do more if there wasn’t such a stringent approval process from Apple–the controlling psychotic girlfriend of computing.

Most paid apps cost $.99, though they do go higher. There are thousands of free apps too. In my role as an app slut I hardly ever pay. Of the dozens I’ve installed my total expenditure is still around $5.

Many of the apps take websites and customize their content for the phone’s smaller screen. We’ve got one (a very good one–no BS) at the TV station. The Times, Huffington and lots of other publishers have them too. I also have a few for weather data.

Oh–speaking of that the iPhone has no Flash or Java plug-in. That’s a major deal. There are a few weather applications I use daily which need Java&#185. I am suspicious this too has a lot to do with Apple’s control freak mentality.

Apple also prevents apps from running in the background. That means a GPS logger only logs when it’s the only thing running! Answer a call or look at an email and you have to restart the app. Maybe there’s a technical reason for this, but we’ve all come to expect multitasking and Verizon is heavily promoting it’s Droid’s ability to do that.

When the Google Map product just announced for Verizon’s Droid phone gets ported to the iPhone it will surely need to be downloaded as an app. This will happen. It probably won’t happen until the Droid has received the full benefit of its exclusivity and coolness.

I was playing with using the iPhone as a radio in the car, bringing in the NPR shows I like without the static I now get. My idea was flawed because NPR’s app is horrendously flawed (after using it a minute or two the buttons become extremely unresponsive) and Internet reception can sometimes be spotty.

Even if you lose the signal for just a second or two the NPR stations’ software sees this as a new connection and gives you a pre-recorded underwriting spiel before restarting the program. Sheesh!

On the other hand I’ve taken photos with the iPhone’s reasonably good camera (using an app called Tripod to steady the shot in low light) and had them posted on Facebook (using its app) seconds later. Very cool.

I downloaded the Joost app last night. It’s a video service claiming 46,000+ videos.

Don’t let the numbers fool you–that’s not a lot.

I watched a black and white Lone Ranger episode I’d watched as a kid. Even then I recognized very distinctive rock formations that amazingly showed up in every town the Ranger and Tonto visited. They were there last night! Now, with the Internet, I understand most of the episodes were shot in LA’s Griffith Park.

Joost suffers from what every video site suffers from–bad search. There’s just no good way to search video yet. That’s not an iPhone specific problem. Netflix and Hulu and, to a lesser extent, Youtube haven’t figured this one out.

The iPhone is a very good video player. It’s large enough, with a display dense enough, to make viewing a full show a reasonably enjoyable experience.

My secret friend from the San Fernando Valley said last night, “It’s the best toy I’ve ever had.” That’s a defensible position. This is a lot of fun and a lot of function.

I’m curious if Verizon/Motorola/Google’s entry into the market will force Apple to loosen up a little? I believe there’s a lot of potential being held under wraps, because even though I’m an app slut, Apple isn’t!

&#185 – Java is not javascript nor are they similar (One upper case, the other lowercase). The iPhone does javascript.

Ed McMahon

I have one Ed McMahon story and it involves my very secretive friend from the San Fernando Valley and his spectacularly beautiful wife. I asked if he could get me tickets to see The Tonight Show and he asked her.

ed-and-johnny.jpgFor the past few days I’ve been torn as to whether there should be an Ed McMahon entry in the blog. Though a huge presence on television he struck me as a man with little personal integrity. He sold what can politely be called “crap” on the Atlantic City Boardwalk and never really changed. Seemingly he’d shill any product.

His moral code aside, where he was really excellent was as Johnny Carson’s announcer/sidekick. Howard Lapides coined the term we liberally sprinkled Ed’s way. It was “FL” for fake laugh. If Carson intended something to be funny then it was funny to Ed! His laugh was loud and recognizable.

Don’t underestimate this power. The Tonight Show was ‘sweetened’ in real time by Ed. No post-production house could add a laugh track that would help as much.

I have one Ed McMahon story and it involves my very secretive friend from the San Fernando Valley and his spectacularly beautiful wife. I asked if he could get me tickets to see The Tonight Show and he asked her. She had been a page at NBC. She’d even appeared on The Tonight Show giving Johnny the prize envelopes on Stump The Band!

Her specialty was making sure you’d be seated “DIF” or “down-in-front.” That’s where I sat. Thank you Sue.

There are few places I’ve been that immediately seemed so eerily familiar–Mission Control in Houston and the big digital clock at the shuttle launch facility in Florida, CNN’s newsroom, the floor of the NYSE and Carson’s studio on West Alameda in Burbank. I’d seen it a thousand times before I ever set a foot inside.

The crowd entered and politely sat. We were excited. As taping time approached the band played a number and Ed came out to warm everyone up.

“There seems to have been a mistake–a clerical error,” he said.

The audience sighed worrying what was wrong and how it would affect our best laid plans.

“I don’t know how,” he continued, “but Johnny, Doc and I have been scheduled to work on the same night!”

The audience went nuts!

I remember that moment as if it was yesterday–in fact it is the only part of my Tonight Show experience I remember.

The Last Of The Southern California Photos

Instead of just moving on, I thought I’d post a few of the more interesting ones. This is not artistry it’s curiosity!

I end nearly every trip with at least a few photos that didn’t fit with a blog entry. Instead of just moving on, I thought I’d post a few of the more interesting ones. This is not artistry it’s curiosity!



Mullholland Drive

Mullholland Drive is the elevated spine that separates the coastal regions from the San Fernando Valley. It is twisty and steep. There are often overlooks into the void. All of L.A. is a backlot so you’ve definitely seen a car chase or two from Mullholland on the screen.

Feris Wheel at the Spectrum in Orange County

Southern California originated the mall culture. Many towns are so recently settled there is no downtown. The mall is the town’s center. Of course with the weather some malls are mainly open air. Such is the Irvine Spectrum near my cousins in Orange County.

This mall has a substantial Ferris Wheel.

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My secretive friend in the San Fernando Valley has grapefruit trees in his driveway. My suspicion is he’s never done anything to them except occasionally take some fruit. I am incredibly jealous.

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Yup, it’s the Young Dong Restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard. I have nothing to add

West Coast Bound

It survived the jaywalking ticket I got within my first few hours there (I don’t think I ever paid that ticket). Jaywalking? Seriously, I was from New York City. Jaywalking is a competitive sport in New York City.

From the South Bay to the Valley

From the West Side to the East Side

Everybody’s very happy

‘Cause the sun is shining all the time

Looks like another perfect day

I love L.A. (We love it)

I love L.A. (We love it)

We love it

Oh Randy Newman. How right you are! I head out Saturday morning for Orange County and then Los Angeles.

I have a forty year love affair with Los Angeles. It survived the jaywalking ticket I got within my first few hours there (I don’t think I ever paid that ticket).

Jaywalking? Seriously, I was from New York City. Jaywalking is a competitive sport in New York City.

Once I was up for a job at a TV station in Los Angeles. I was very excited. The TV station itself was located in a seedy neighborhood, but on a movie lot! Helaine and I had already decided where we would live as we counted our chickens before they hatched.

The last I heard from the guy with the job was, “We’ll call you back in a half hour.” Isn’t it always that way?

It’s a long trip from CT to CA. Saturday’s flights out includes two hours of thumb twiddling in Las Vegas (not long enough to leave the airport). It will be nearly nine hours before I deplane at Santa Ana’s John Wayne International.

This time of year Southern California suffers under the marine layer, a cool wedge of oceanic air which brings low clouds, fog and drizzle overnight through late morning. I don’t care.

Even when I’ve been in rainy Los Angeles I think of it as sunny. That internal lie seems easier there.

The purpose of my trip is to photograph my Cousin Melissa and her family as she begins her political career. I’m bringing most of my photo gear including two camera bodies. She will, if nothing else, be well documented.

After the weekend in Orange County I head to the San Fernando Valley and the “secret location” I’ve written about in the past. I’ve got dinner with two long time friends scheduled for Tuesday.