Ducky

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I always go to the Rose Bowl Game with my friend Elaine.

As both of us are University of California at Berkeley alums, we never get to root for our favorite team.

But she got her master’s at USC, and I teach there, so during years when the Trojans aren’t caught cheating, we can root for them.

Monday she pledged allegiance to Wisconsin, wearing its sweatshirt, even, on the logic that soon Oregon will be the enemy of both Bears and Trojans.

I always root for the Pac 12 teams on the logic that they are our conference champs and that we have to stand with our West Coast brethren.

Good game. Ducks won.

The Einstein float

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This photo of a Rose Parade float from the 1930s celebrating Albert Einstein in flowers, trumpeting his “achievement” with blooms and angelic little girls, hangs in a hallway of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Old Pasadena. The physicist at the time was a frequent visitor to Caltech before he was snatched away by the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, which offered him a tad more money. But no floral tributes, I’d wager.

Can you imagine a Richard Feynman, or Murray Gell-Mann, or David Baltimore, float today?

Big scary laser

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This apparently half-joking warning sign is up on the window of a lab at the Oak Crest Institute of Science on Foothill Boulevard in East Pasadena, where President Marc Baum gave me a tour this week. I’ll write about in my Friday — perhaps my Sunday — column, considering how much great hands-on, high-level work the institute provides for PCC science students.

The Volvo in the trees

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After we pulled the branches back from its tailgate, this was how our station wagon looked Thursday morning after the winds knocked several huge oak tree branches down on it it. Later, after hundreds of pounds of good firewood was removed from the front, the report is that there are only superficial scratches on what could have been a total. Miracle car.

Friendship, love and truth

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You know it’s Nov. 30 in Pasadena when you’re driving up Raymond Avenue and have a close encounter with The Odd Fellows & Rebakahs 59th Rose Parade entry “Shining Knights Still Exist.” The flakage: “showcases a lone Knight aboard his loyal steed in full gallop above the ancient 17th Century English Crest armed with a menacing twenty foot long, silver lance wrapped in the traditional colors of the Decoration of Chivalry matching the brown horse’s blanket…a member of the three link fraternity, Friendship, Love and Truth, The Knight perseveres to protect the elegant castle topped by three turrets with billowing flags surrounded by floral gardens from all that would bring discontent.”

Sproul Plaza again

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As Occupy Cal protesters wrangle with campus police and Alameda County sheriff’s deputies over the hallowed protest grounds of Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley, I drove by Wednesday this art piece that had been catching my eye on Colorado Boulevard in the Playhouse District. It’s Susan Stilton’s new piece “Utility” — posted on a utility box — with vinyl-wrapped photos from the Free Speech Movement at Sproul in 1964. Great timing! And a great quote on the other side: “Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime” — Justice Potter Stewart

S’lon at Sandra’s

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On a recent Sunday afternoon in Pasadena the stars of a s’lon chez Sandra Tsing Loh were Vanity Fair Hot Type columnist, co-founder of Tin House and author of the new short-story collection “Blueprints for Building Better Girls” Elissa Schappell in conversation with Henry Alford, the Vanity Fair contributing editor, former Spy humorist, and author of the soon-to-be-released “Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That: A Modern Guide to Manners.”

They were very smart and funny.

Modeling Eaton Canyon

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USC Annenberg J-school student Rosa Trieu is reporting on the recent spate of tragic deaths among novice hikers in Eaton Canyon, and says she heard from the staff at the Nature Center that I was the go-to guy on musing about how and why it happens.

As in my theory, based on youthful experience — the canyon mouth is just blocks away from my elementary school, Noyes, and we scrambled up there all the time — that guys go up ridges and chimney-like crevices and don’t realize how hard, how even deadly, it is to try to come down.

Rosa and I hiked up to the Eaton Falls in the light drizzle Tuesday so she could shoot some B-roll by the falls. This young woman was posing in black for a photographer when we got there.

Found in space

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There are many reasons to get up to Stephen Nowlin’s “Worlds” show at Art Center’s Williamson Gallery, 1700 Lida St., Pasadena, and Richard Selesnick and Nicholas Kahn’s wall-sized projection called “Liftoff, from the Apollo Prophecies,” a silent movie about landing on the moon and finding a new world of ineffable objects and creatures, including an elephant wearing a giant Lucite helmet for breathing, big enough for its tusks, is one of them.