Monday, November 29, 2010


Parks in L.A. typically have a long list of prohibited activities posted at their entrances.  This short and to-the-point directive had me giggling:

I'm sure many a frustrated criminal has driven off in disgust, in search of greener pastures.

This sign is in the parking lot of the Kenneth Hahn recreational area in the Baldwin Hills, just a little south of where I live.  I'll post photos from my hike there soon.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Quail eggs

I was buying a few things at a Japanese grocery store when I saw these:

I had to try them!  Here they are, posing with a teaspoon:

Aren't they pretty?

And tiny!  That's a quarter, for those of you not up on your American pocket change:

I decided to fry them.  Here's one, dwarfed by the frying pan...

And here they are on toast.  It takes around 4-5 quail eggs to equal a hen's egg.

They were very tasty.  I'd say they even tasted a little more rich than a hen's egg (the yolk is proportionally bigger), although they were pretty similar.

Cost of the experiment?  $1.45 for a box of 10.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Extreme Skypeing

The title of my last post reminded me of the time Grise Fiord was on Oprah via Skype.  I didn't have a blog back then so I hope you'll indulge a blast from the fairly recent past.

Oprah discovered Skype in spring of 2009.  For one of her Skype shows, the theme was extreme skypeing.  To prove that you could skype "anywhere", she skype-visited the high arctic, the antarctic, an airplane in flight and a submarine at sea, along with a few less extreme places like Harrod's in England to fill up the show.

Here's the video, and if this doesn't work, it's also on Youtube.  I'm the one in the red coat in the middle as they scan the non-studio audience:

Yes Oprah, it was cold out there (-18 C), but with the sun that was mostly only because we stood around so long during the show.  I was surprised at how few people turned out for the taping.  There was too much glare for us to see anything as it was being taped, but we could hear, and listened to the whole thing as it was being done.

The funny thing was, the theme of the show was that you could skype anywhere, but in actual fact, you couldn't skype under normal conditions to any of the four chosen areas.  Grise Fiord was probably the most skypeable, but they spent days before the Oprah visit setting up a special connection that would work, and even then the connection was lost many times during the taping.  Video skypeing from Grise just didn't work that well in April of 2009.  Some people there were using it in real life, but usually with the video turned off to make it work.

The other three destinations had probably never been skypeable.  When Oprah asked each destination in turn "do you use Skype", each replied that they don't due to technical limitations, and had set up a special connection just for the show.

So much for proving the hypothesis that you can go anywhere in the world via Skype, but it was still a lot of fun.  I found Oprah a bit snide though when Janice was showing her around the town.  Hmm.  I'd rather be in beautiful downtown Grise Fiord than a Chicago studio any day.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Extreme Exposure

A week or so ago I went to a photography exhibit here in Los Angeles that has an arctic connection.  The exhibit was on four photographers who do "extreme photography".

One of the photographers featured was Paul Nicklen, who I met in 2006 when I was in Arctic Bay.  He was staying at the B&B there at the same time I was.  He was roughing it a little more than me though- on that trip he was actually mostly living at the floe edge, photographing for articles for National Geographic on narwhal and on either sea ice or the floe edge itself, can't remember exactly.

The exhibit was very interesting- the other photographers specialized in volcanoes, Florida swamps, and pacific redwoods (I'm generalizing, but that's what they were known for).  I think Paul's work conditions looked the most dangerous and grueling, as a mostly underwater arctic and antarctic photographer.  His photos were very cool, and a couple from his 2006 trip were among the ones being shown.  One of his dry suits was also on display.

The show was at the Annenberg Space for Photography.  It's in Century City, which is a largely boring commercial high rise district in west L.A.  This exhibit is on for 6 months, and ends April 11, 2011.  If anyone from L.A. is reading this, I recommend taking it in.

Here are a few photos I took while there of the buildings around the museum (the museum didn't allow photography inside).

I like the optical illusion this one gives of bending the edges of the photo:

A bunch of Century City buildings as sunset approaches:

I think this one's the Fox tower.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hollywoodland stairs

You know the Hollywood sign?  Well, when it was first built back in the 1920's, it read "Hollywoodland" and was a sign advertising a new housing subdivision in the Hollywood Hills.  When they built the streets, they put in some pedestrian staircases to connect them.   I went to check them out on November 9.

The neighborhood itself is beautiful, so a lot of my photos are of those streets.  The streets are narrow and winding, very village-like.

This is a prickly pear cactus:

Here's the first staircase.  If I hadn't researched the stairs and where to find them on the internet, I would have assumed this was someone's private stairs up to their yard.  Nope, public staircase, and this is just the start of it- the staircases range from 117 to 176 steps in height.

Blurry photo but look closely- there's a coyote on the stairs!  Luckily, he was more afraid of me than I was of him.  When other walkers approached from the other direction he went into a backyard.

The staircases themselves are very nice, stone steps that were reinforced with concrete around a decade or so ago.


One of the yards that is adjacent to one of the stairs.  Pretty steep!

These steps were very European, right up against a house.  There are planters down the middle:

Some street and houses-on-hills photos:

I liked this garden gate:

A view of the Hollywood sign:

The house on the right is interesting- looks like a castle facing the street, but in behind it is a fairly non-descript house, the castle is just a facade (how shocking!)

This was my favourite street, isn't it pretty?

The stairs were a good workout- they didn't take too much out of me at the time, but my legs were sore for a few days afterwards.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Griffith Observatory

I'd meant to go see the Griffith Observatory last year, but never got around to it.  On Nov. 6 I finally went.

It's in Griffith Park, and as parking at the site is minimal, they recommend hiking to it from a more distant parking lot.  Here's a photo of the trail going up:

It was late afternoon as I visited, I liked the light conditions:

Griffith Park overlooks the neighborhood of Los Feliz, here are a couple of photos of it:

View of the observatory from a bend in the trail:

View of part of Griffith Park from the same bend in the trail, looking the other way:

Getting closer...

The observatory has two big telescopes, here is the tower (is that what you call it?) that houses one of them:

This monument is on the front lawn:

Two views of the back of the building as the sun is setting:

Here are some of the people keeping vigil to watch the sunset:

There it goes:

Inside the building, I loved the ceiling mural in the entrance way.  It has elements of the four seasons, the zodiac, the planets, and an assortment of the gods of Greek Mythology:

Here's Atlas, holding up the earth:

The decorate friezes below it were also very interesting:

The exhibits were interesting, explaining various aspects of space, weather, seasons and so on.  There was one huge wall with a 2 degree X 15 degree photo of what a telescope (a really powerful one) sees, it was great.  It's called "The Big Picture", and is of the Virgo cluster of galaxies.  I forget how many millions of stars you can see in that one small slice, I think the guide said 2 million.