Saturday, February 28, 2009

Geology Lesson #2

February has been too much fun. Let's get serious and learn something here on the old blog. (Not that learning can't be fun.) Since we have a resident geologist at Pasadena Daily Photo, let's take time out for a geology lesson. After all, there's geology all over Pasadena.

Here's our geologist, Becca, posing like a product model with a sedimentary deposit we found in the Hahamongna watershed basin. Becca adores sedimentary deposits. She explained it to me while I was taking the picture, but I didn't remember a word of it. So she sent me this email:

"In our last lesson we learned about graded bedding, in which the particle size decreases as one moves up a particular layer or bed. In contrast, this sedimentary deposit is a disorganized mix of pebbles and cobbles. A geologist would characterize this kind of rock unit - one in which a variety of particles are observed - as 'poorly sorted.' Upon closer inspection the geologist would also note that these are the same rock types that make up the San Gabriel Mountains, located several miles north of the Hahamongna watershed."

Then she throws a pop quiz into her email:

"How do you think these rocks were moved all the way from the San Gabriels to this basin?"

Becca gives three choices for an answer: wind, water or glaciers. I say it's water. Hahamongna's a watershed basin after all. I don't know when the glaciers were here last and I'm no geologist, but I'm pretty sure wind doesn't move rocks.

"Another observation about this deposit," Becca says in her email, "is that it's been heavily weathered. Weathering is the process by which rocks are broken down mechanically (size and shape changes) and chemically (the removal of minerals and addition of new minerals). Notice all the plants growing in the rock unit. This is an example of a physical weathering process called root wedging, during which roots force their way into the rock/deposit, breaking the rock into smaller pieces."
We also noticed some of the rocks had a rust-like coating. Becca says oxidation occurs when iron-rich minerals are exposed to oxygen, creating the reddish-brown stain. Aha! Like rust. Oxidation is a chemical weathering process, like she described. So this sedimentary deposit is going through both chemical and mechanical weathering.

And, Becca says, the end product of weathering is the development of soil. I love that. It's so logical.

I hope I was right about the rocks being moved by water. I was applying logic, after all. It's less logical for them to have come down from the mountains by glacier, don't you think? And by wind? There's no logic in that whatsoever. Whimsy, maybe, but really it's just plain dangerous.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lovebirds Cafe (#9 in a Quest)

I've found a good one! I feel like Neil Armstrong! Yet it appears others have been there before me.

To update you, here's my quest: I'm trying to find the best coffee shop in Pasadena in which to write. That doesn't mean it's going to be the best coffee shop in Pasadena for everyone, just the best one for me. I look for good coffee, comfortable seating, something to munch on, and (this one's paramount) quiet.

I had just stomped out of my previous favorite, which shall remain nameless for now. I'm not going to rag on it now because it had to have been a fluke. The nameless place is usually fine but they were out of change and didn't give me what I ordered, the floor, tables and chairs were filthy, and as soon as I wiped off a chair and sat down they blasted the music which they've never done before. AND I'd just fed the parking meter $2.75. I'll give the nameless place another chance when I get over my pique.

I tell you the above to show you what a relief it was to happen into Lovebirds Cafe (921 E. Colorado Blvd.). The young woman at the counter was friendly. When I couldn't decide what to order (because it all looked so good) she didn't rush me, but instead pointed out some of her favorites. After I paid she even guarded my stuff while I used the ladies' room.

The tables are the right height for a laptop. The illegal marshmallow/caramel/chocolate/nut travesty I ordered was divine. (Their website says their baked goods are made daily, from scratch.) I ordered regular coffee and it was decent. The place is big - nay, vast - and clean.

And there was no music playing. None. Have I mentioned I love that? If more establishments would play that I'd go out all the time.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dianne Emley, Pro

Do you believe it? I was actually out again last night. After dark and everything.

John and I went to Vroman's to celebrate the debut of The Deepest Cut, the third book in Dianne Emley's Nan Vining thrillogy. If you follow Pasadena Daily Photo you know I profiled Dianne here last November with the first of her Nan Vining books. We followed that with a contest to win the second book, and now the third one's here.

I've enjoyed learning from Dianne about her process. As an actor, it took me a long time to understand that acting must be approached as a business as well as an art. As a writer, I'm learning much more quickly. Dianne approaches writing like the business it is, and she's a pro.

Last night she read from The Deepest Cut, then fielded questions from a full house about everything from publishing to process. The discussion went overtime, then we all lined up to get our books signed.

Many thanks to guest photographer Bob Reiter for this shot. It makes me laugh that Dianne and I both whipped off our glasses to get our picture taken.

And many, many thanks to you, Dianne.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Business Schmisness

I'm told Pasadena has a great night-life, but if you want to find out about it this is not the place.

I like going out at night, I really do. I just happen to like staying at home even more. I used to go out quite a bit (some might say too much). These days, however, if it means getting dressed and driving somewhere, I need a compelling reason.

That reason came recently in an opportunity to meet with a friend who shared some of her business expertise with me. She suggested McCormick & Schmick's happy hour. Not only did that get me dressed, it got me out of the house.

When I saw the menu I was shocked, shocked, I tell you! The prices are outrageous! They have $1.95 chicken sandwiches, cheeseburgers and more. These sandwiches are not teeny nor are they horrible, and they come with fries! There's also a $4.95 happy hour menu with fancier fare, like salmon cakes and oysters. It is beyond my comprehension.

My friend and I enjoyed ourselves. We ate until we were full. We each had more than one drink. The service was good. I paid for everything and the bill was less than $30. (Yes, I am a good tipper.)

What is wrong with these people?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Superfluous Detail: Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

I love superfluous architectural details (you know I do) - those flourishes that seem to have no structural significance, but are there simply for the sake of entertaining the eye. This one's above the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at 18 S. Fair Oaks in Old Town Pasadena.

I've searched the whole web over for more information on this building, but haven't found it. If you know anything, please share.

I noticed during my research that there's an OldTownPasadena.com and an OldTownPasadena.org. Surely they're not competitors? I'm so confused. Hey, but the org folks are going to have a blog. I look forward to that. And they put me on their blogroll! I am their fan.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Zen Monday: #37



Zen Monday is the day you experience the photo and give us your thoughts rather than me telling you what the photo's about.
There's no right or wrong.
If the photo evokes something in you, that's all it is.

As each new Zen photo is posted, a label is added to last week's to identify it (if I know what it is).

Guest photographer: John Sandel

Sunday, February 22, 2009

You're Invited

Save the date! It's the San Gabriel Valley Blogger's potluck picnic, coming up on March 28th (that's March! I'm giving you lots of notice) from 12-4PM at Farnsworth Park in Altadena. Everyone's invited and that means you! You don't have to be a blogger to come. Fans, friends, commenters and lurkers are welcome. Bring a dish to share. See you there!

That's not the only invitation today. You'll remember our friend Dianne Emley and the recent contest here at Pasadena Daily Photo to win her book Cut to the Quick. Dianne will discuss and sign The Deepest Cut, the third book in her Nan Vining thrillogy, this Wednesday at Vroman's at 7PM. I'll be there and I hope you will, too. Be sure and say hello!

Speaking of friends, I'd like to say a word to blog followers, official and un: thank you! (okay, two words.) Your visits, comments and emails are much appreciated.