This was no ‘light rain’

Today’s rain was steady and heavy at times, at least in the San Gabriel Valley.

Yet, I kept hearing about how “light rain” was falling whenever I listened to reports from those LA-based weathermen or LA-based radio reporters from KFWB and KNX newsradio. Seems like the SGV never gets the full story, especially when there is precipitation involved.

I saw the damage the “light rain” did to the streets. It took out the right lane this morning along Live Oak Avenue in Irwindale from Peck Road east to Arrow Highway. The flooding continued all the way to Speedway Drive, past the Irwindale Speedway.

This afternoon, the rain was heavy once again. It closed the right lane of Citrus Avenue and knocked out the traffic light at Citrus and Alosta avenues.

This is a shot of the rain from my backyard patio in Temple City, taken around 8:30 a.m. It was heavy then (and actually, the heaviest rainfall began a little earlier, said my wife.

820-rain pix 3.jpg

Locals participate in Democracy


The CNN/YouTube debate of the GOP presidential hopefuls is tonight, in St. Petersberg, Fla. Watch it on CNN at 5 p.m. (airs again at 9 p.m.).

Political editor for the debate said they received 5,000 entries — more than received for the Democratic presidential candidates CNN/YouTube debate in the summer. Who says Democracy is dead!

Just looking through the entries is fun. They represent a range of Americans on a range of topics, from family values and religion, to the Iraq war and campaign ethics. There are some from locals, such as Austen of Diamond Bar (his question was on abortion) and Sarah of Whittier (who asked about affordability of a college education). Don’t know of these got chosen, however. Regardless, check them out and see how people can get involved in presidential politics, even if they don’t have a fat checkbook.

Here is Sarah’s video question:

Here is Austen’s (of Diamond Bar)

These are local students of mine who are taking my opinion writing class at Cal State Fullerton. They did this as an assignment in my class.

Here’s one from Steven about pollution of our oceans:

Chantry Flat: Flattened by closure, again

Hiking fans, let me share with you this disturbing email:
“The road to Chantry Flat from Sierra Madre was shut without wanring on Friday (Nov. 23) …” wrote Barbara Ellis. She was caught unaware of this latest, arbitrary closure of the 3-mile road that leads to hiking trails in Big Santa Anita Canyon (just above Sierra Madre and Arcadia).

“I was trying to collect my husband from Chantry Flat after he had hiked there from Shortcut Canyone (where I dropped him off) through the West Ford and over Newcomb Pass. With the road closed, he was faced with an extra 3-mile walk down the road. If we’d known Chantry Flat was closed, he’d never have attempted this hike,” continued Ellis’ e-mail.

The Forest Service have a long and sullied history of closing off access to the forest to hikers. These are the same people who charge a fee (it’s euphemistically called the Adventure Pass) to hike in the federal lands that rim the San Gabriel Valley.

Perhaps there was a closure due to Santa Ana winds and the potential fire danger. But then, with that logic, would it be OK to close the forest whenever there is a fire danger? These days, with global warming, extended droughts, dry brush and a fire season stretching from June – December, that would be half the year or more?


As someone who hiked that 3-mile road (during the 2003-2005 closure), I know how long and steep it is. The good news is, Ellis’ husband — and their dog — was saved by the Santa Anita dam operator who drove up the road and fetched them, giving them a ride down.

Continued Ellis’ e-mail: “The closure was certainly causing chaos at the bottom of the hilll — there was a constant stream of cars turning around and many disappointed hikers. One organized hike had to be cancelled …”

It’s too bad that on a day when many were off from work, a day of hiking had to be cancelled. I’d like the Forest Service hear the disappointment in the voices of those hikers, young and old. Are there any others who are mad about being flattened by the Forest Service for closing Chantry Flat Road?

(Go to this link to learn more about the hikes from the top of Chantry Flat, including the one to Sturtevant Falls.)

More like ‘Fat & Easy’

It was lunchtime and I was hungry. I don’t eat fast food (not when I can help it), and I’m watching my weight. Someone told me about a new grocery store called Fresh & Easy that is opening up all over California. One is in West Covina, off West Covina Parkway, the other is on Foothill Boulevard in Arcadia. They said the store catered to single people looking for small portions. And they had lots of prepared foods.

Inside the WC store, I saw three different prepared salads in front display case, all pre-packaged in clear plastic containers. I was shocked to see all of them were loaded in fat, sodium and cholesterol. I checked out the “kitchen foods” and these were more fat-laden entries, like enchiladas and re-fried beans. I reluctantly bought the “hearty beef salad” and ate it by scarcely dipping into the mayonaisse-filled, full fat dressing. Here is the label code on this product: Total calories: 430; Total fat: 33 g; Saturated fat: 12g; Cholesterol: 230 mg (which is 77 percent of your recommended daily value); sodium: 620 mg. Wow! So much for healthy foods.

Here is what the top of their web site says:
“Hello. It seems obvious. People want fresh and healthy food choices.”

Hello. These are not healthy choices. I’m Weight Watcher trained, being a lifetime member. I know how to read a food label. Seems like the folks at Fresh and Easy don’t, or don’t care. Haven’t they ever heard of fat-free or low-fat salad dressings? They are all over the aisles at Ralph’s and Albertsons. Haven’t these folks picked up the newspaper lately and read about skyrocketing obesity, and heart disease in Americans?

Just because you market with green colors and use words like “fresh” doesn’t mean you are providing healthy food. It galls me to see marketing pretending to be healthy, when its not.
Buyer Beware.

Why stop at football?

I got lost on the USC campus the other day, looking for a conference on what’s happened to Ahnold’s infrastructure bonds a year later, when I saw a tiny plaque that marked “Site of 1984 Summer Ollympics.” Then I recalled one of the best LA experiences I’ve ever had. It was more than just the celebrations of athleticism and the peace and security of the event, but it was also witnessing international sports, from rhythmic gymnastics at Pauley to team handball at Cal State Fullerton.

I got to thinking about Ed Roski’s idea to build a future football stadium shaped like a “salad bowl” into the Industry hills north of the 60 Freeway. Sure, it would be fine to have an NFL team in the SGV. But why stop at football?

Wouldn’t it be better if, along with an NFL draw, Roski’s $1 billion complex would include a gymnasium for professional and collegiate volleyball matches, badmitton, even table tennis. These sports are growing at many SGV high schools and colleges.

For example, what a draw it would be to schedule a table tennis exhibition featuring Deng Yaping, the female, Chinese champion who won four Olympic gold medals? It is reported that 300 million Chinese play table tennis, or what many call ping pong, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica..

And for the Olympic-files like myself, I’d love to see a volleyball match (the real kind,not the beach kind) or even a team handball tournament.

Or, if alternative sports are too, well, out there, why not add a minor league baseball team or minor league soccer team. Soccer is popular, but with our region’s gridlock, getting to Carson from the SGV or Inland Empire is not easy.

I’d settle for a nice tennis stadium. I used to go watch Andre Agassi at that tournament in Westwood once in a while. But again, the traffic just getting to UCLA on a weeknight is horrendous. There are plenty of tennis (and raquet) aficionados in our neck of the woods who would pay to see professionals bash overheads and drop spin shots.

Whadya say, Ed?

Elections and goosebumps

I wore my “I voted” sticker to a meeting my boss, Larry Wilson, and I had with two members of The Consulate General of The People’s Republic of China. But I think the meaning was lost on them.

After inking my vote for school board in Temple City, a poll worker told me I was the 21st person to vote that morning. Not too many, I’m afraid. Most reported voter turnout for Tuesday’s election of school boards and city councils was well below 20 percent of the registered voters.

Pitifully low. Pathetic.

“And we have men and women in Iraq fighting for their right to vote, but we can’t get even a majority of our citizens to do the same,” I said to him.

I still get goosebumps when I vote. To me, it is the most patriotic thing I’ve ever done (since I have not served in the military). In some ways, it’s amazing that anybody, a parent, a mom, a dad, a young college graduate, can run for school board or city council and get elected. These people decide on the most tangible issues in our lives: our law enforcement, fire departments, trash pickups, school curricula, teachers, etc. Yet, most voters don’t care enough to vote.

I recall a YouTube item — an interview with now famous YouTube political commentator James Kotecki, and presidential hopeful Mike Gravel, a senator from Alaska, in which Gravel proposed that American voters vote directly on ending the war in Iraq. He chewed out Kotecki, who said Gravel’s direct democracy idea was anathema to the Founding Fathers, who set up a representative government. We elect someone to represent us in the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate (that was changed to a direct election later on) and the president (though that’s not direct election, but it’s close).

I agree with Kotecki. America’s foreign policy shouldn’t be a political referendum.

In America, anyone can run for office. I’ve seen that in the candidates I’ve interviewed this fall. It’s a privilege for us not running to vote for those we like. We’re having enough trouble convincing voters to do that, let alone vote up or down on a war.

As I stood at the voters table and put my “John Hancock” next to my printed name, I was buoyed by what I saw. The name of my son, Matthew, who had turned 18 a month ago, appeared on the line next to mine.
He voted later that day.

“All of New York is Angry”

My sister used to drive me to Yankee Stadium in her white Renault with the push-botton transmission and shabby chic French design. What looked stylish in Paris wasn’t making it in NYC, and, certainly not in the South Bronx. The neighborhood home boys in Hunts Point, in the shadow of the D train, where we found ourselves lost, saw us coming like a homerun soaring over the short right-field porch.

“How do we get to Yankee Stadium?”

“You got to get back on the Triboro” said one young man.

We did. We arrived, albeit a little late. And this young teenager was thrilled to be in the House That Ruth Built.
We were chillin with the boys in pinstripes; even those boys in that bombed out neighborhood that later on, was visited by President Jimmy Carter as the No. 1 locale for urban renewal, weren’t upset with these two, scrub-faced Long Islanders out of their element.

We were Yankees. We shared that bond.

Flash forward 35 years. Joe Torre, the Yankee manager who brought the Yanks to the playoffs every year for the last dozen, not to mention four World Championships, was leaving. He would no longer be the Yankee manager.
“Joe Torre. Gone! I’m sick. All of New York is angry,” read the e-mail from my sister who lives in upstate New York.
As a transplanted New Yorker, I still love the Yankees but I’ve become a solid Angels fan. So, not being in New York anymore, I did not share her angst. I felt the Yankees needed a change.

Today’s news, that Torre will manage the Los Angeles Dodgers, took me by surprise.

I love Torre. He’s an Italian-American, an icon that resonates on the streets of New York and the suburbs of Long Island and New Jersey. Like me, I feel he’ll be a bit out of place in LA, in La-La land, even if he and Tommy Lasorda really are friends. I hesitate to ask what the rest of New York is thinking. Most Yankee fans are NOT Dodger fans.

I’m waiting for another e-mail from my sister.