Tag Archives: OC

Orange County Great Park tries again for greatness

The troubled not-so-great Great Park in Irvine will be hosting the DOE Solar Decathlon 2013 this October. As exciting as that sounds, it is doubtful that the event will in any way help turn the park into the grand urban park that has been envisioned, debated, funded and defunded for years.

Balloon ride over Orange County Great Park

Balloon ride over the Great Park? $10. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Only a tiny section of the park is open and publicly available. Previously free attractions from the carousel to a balloon ride now are pay to use. Yes, the park’s only merry-go-round costs $2 a ride! That is just sad. A decade ago, OC voters approved the repurposing of the former Marine air base into the Orange County Great Park — beating out those who wanted to see an airport there.

The Solar Decathlon is actually a great event. Promoted by the Department of Energy, the competition fields teams of college students who build environmentally friendly houses. The 2012 decathlon was in Washington D.C. It promises to bring plenty of paying visitors, benefitting not only the park but local hotels, restaurants, and other businesses serving tourists.

But will it be worth the cost? See the L.A. Times for the discussion.

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San Onofre and the Monks

monks protest San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant

Steven Georges, for the Register

I live less than 5 miles from San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) here on the coast in Orange County. The plant has been shut down since January when workers discovered a small radioactive leak. Southern California Edison, which owns 78% of San Onofre, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission assured us it was a tiny leak that was perfectly harmless. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Now, Edison feels that it can restart (at reduced power) one of the two reactors that did not leak back in January. And so they presented their case before the NRC at an overflow crowd public meeting yesterday in Laguna Hills. Although there was extensive questioning, the regulators have not indicated how they expect to rule. If this is a typical case, the regulators will side with industry and Edison will get its way and re-start reactor 2.

Meanwhile and eerily coincidental, Edison has reported that there has been tampering, perhaps sabotage, with the coolant used to keep the reactors within safe range. The FBI is taking over the investigation. As Democratic Underground reports:

This facility has the worst safety record of any nuclear plant in America, its workers are speaking out to warn of dangers, and 9 cities within the evacuation zone have now raised serious concerns.

And because we are in Southern California, a small group of Buddhist monks held a protest march from Dana Point to San Clemente where they plan to fast and pray near the pier. Their mission is to block the restart of the reactor and to shut down the plant permanently. From the Orange County Register:

“We need to shut down the San Onofre,” Gyosen Sawada of Los Angeles, who said he was born in Fukushima, Japan, told the group before beginning a three-hour walk from Dana Point Harbor. “No more Hiroshima. No more Nagasaki. No more Three Mile Island. No more Fukushima. No more San Onofre.”

Sawada and two Seattle-area monks – Senji Kanaeda and Gilberto Perez, who told the group he was a “homey from the projects in New York city, born in Cuba” – then set off down Pacific Coast Highway.

Look for a great slideshow at the Register of the monks and the NRC hearing.

Curiously, Edison has added a virtual tour of the power plant to its site. No mention of sabotage on this tour.

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Endeavour comes home

Space shuttle Endeavour lands at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

What a thrill it was to see the space shuttle Endeavour land at Edwards Air Force Base this afternoon even though I could only watch on TV. My father worked in aerospace his entire life beginning with his time in the USAF when he was barely more than a kid. He worked on many space projects but not Endeavour. When we moved to California (I was 7), our first home was up in the high desert right by Edwards.

So I feel a personal attachment to this beautiful spacecraft, as do so many others.

This was truly a farewell tour for the spacecraft. From the OC Register:

Endeavour’s highly anticipated homecoming was twice delayed by stormy weather along the Gulf of Mexico. Early Wednesday, it departed from its Cape Canaveral, Fla., home base, soared over NASA centers in Mississippi and Louisiana, and made a layover in Houston, home of Mission Control. Crowds craned their necks skyward as the shuttle flew low over Florida’s Space Coast and Houston.

After refueling in El Paso, Texas, Thursday, it flew over the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico, an emergency shuttle landing site used once. Kelly requested that Endeavour sail over Tucson to honor Giffords, who is recovering after suffering a head wound in a shooting rampage last year. Giffords was a member of the House committee on science, space and technology. The couple watched from the roof of a University of Arizona parking garage.

Former Giffords aide C.J. Karamargin said Giffords was “elated” and started “hooting and hollering” as soon as she spotted Endeavour.

Tomorrow, Endeavour will make a loop up to San Francisco, Sacrmento, the Silicon Valley, and here in Orange County before flying over Los Angeles and then landing at LAX. Then the craft will make its way through city streets to California Science Center, its final destination.

Welcome home.

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The Matterhorn rises anew

Disneyland just finished the biggest renovation of the Matterhorn ride since it opened 53 years ago. The official unveiling happens June 15.

The Matterhorn at Disneyland, Anaheim, Orange County

Photo thanks <a href="http://ocresort.ocregister.com/2012/05/03/matterhorn-getting-most-extensive-rehab-ever/111819/">OC Register</a>

We grew up in Orange County not far from Disneyland and the park was a part of our lives. While it was the destination of dreams for kids (and pro athletes), it was our backyard and we relished any opportunity to be blase about it when relatives and friends came to town — smug brats that we were. When we were in high school, Disneyland was a hangout and date spot.

You could always see the Matterhorn from the freeway and it was always a thrill to know you were almost there. As Anaheim has grown up around the park, the mountain is less visible these days, sadly. But since January, you could see the scaffolding as the renovation continued.

The Matterhorn was never the biggest and baddest thrill ride in the area. But it has always had its special charm and a special place in the hearts of those of us who have been fortunate enough to call Disneyland home. Come June, it may be time to climb into those bobsleds one more time.

The Orange County Register has a great article about the history of the ride and its recent rehabilitation with graphics, photos, and video.

And here is a related video:

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Sheriff’s blotter San Clemente

Orange County Sheriffs c. 1914

Orange County's fifth sheriff, Charles E. Ruddock (1911-1915), is third from left, front row, with his staff in 1914. Ruddock, the former Fullerton town marshal, led the charge at the Tomato Springs Shootout of December 16, 1912, which took the life of his undersheriff, Robert Squires. (See elsewhere on this Web page.) Squires was the first Orange County Sheriff's Department lawman to be killed on duty. The woman in the front row left probably was a jail matron, but she has been discounted as being a member of the Lacy family. Several tentative identifications have been made: The man standing, upper left, could be "Merle Dean." The man fourth from left, standing, could be a "Boynton," while the man at far right, standing, might be "R. Hurd."

Thanks to the Orange County Sheriff’s Museum & Education Center

The OC Register shows recent Sheriff’s Department reports from San Clemente from the Sheriff’s Department blotter.

Yesterdays’s reports included:

About five youths threw oranges at passing motorists.

A woman said her sister choked her during an argument about a smoothie.

A woman said she was arguing with her boyfriend, a parolee who was imprisoned for 20 years for manufacturing drugs. She also said he had a “pocket full of drugs.”

A caller said feces was placed on outdoor patio furniture.

A taxi driver said two men and a woman were brawling on the street. 1:22 a.m.

To be honest, I don’t know why I find this interesting. In all seriousness, you have to feel for the sheriffs having to deal with these kinds of things day in and day out.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Museum & Education Center honors them with a great website, full of old photos and history, information about the building of the museum, and more.

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