Thanks to the recent rains, Downtown Los Angeles' Not A Cornfield park is in full bloom. It's really quite beautiful down there, if you haven't taken a look you're missing out.
Ok, so it's no longer called Not A Cornfield, and is now the Los Angeles State Historical Park. Either way it is totally covered with wildflowers. As you can see in the photos below:
More after the jump...
Ed Grothus died in his home yesterday February 12th. He will be missed by the many people who knew him.
When I was in High School, I worked for Ed for a few summers at his amazing scientific equipment salvage yard, The Black Hole.
Ed is responsible for some of my best memories from New Mexico. His salvage yard is simply amazing, and according to Tom Jennings from World Power Systems, it will remain open.
If you never met Ed, you missed a chance to know an amazing person. He was funny, intelligent and quirky. His massive collection of nuclear and scientific equipment contrasted nicely with his anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons viewpoints.
I was lucky to see him again two summers ago and introduce him to my wife. He was still the same Ed, just older. I hope his peace obelisks will be installed somewhere in memory of Ed and to carry on his legacy.
Ed Grothus, you will be missed. Rest in peace.
Ed Grothus stands next to his Peace Obelisk in this file photo from 2007.
UPDATE: I just talked to my friend Don Orie in New Mexico and told him about Ed's passing. He's been visiting Ed every week for that last few months as Ed's sickness has been worsening. He is going to let me know about the arrangements which I will post about here.
UPDATE 2: I just received this from Ed's son Mike Grothus:
Edward Bernard Grothus, of Los Alamos, died of cancer at home, at peace and surrounded by love on February 12, 2009. He was born June 28, 1923 in Clinton, Iowa. His family moved permanently to Davenport, Iowa in 1930.
Following graduation from high school, he traveled extensively by ship and motorcycle. He attended the University of Iowa where he (most importantly) learned to play bridge and made lifelong friends. He eventually followed his father's trade as a machinist, the trade that brought him to Los Alamos in 1949. "Working at the Lab," he said, "gave me an education that I could get nowhere else." He met Margaret Jane Turnquist playing bridge in Los Alamos. They were married in 1951. In 1952 he began working at the Lab's R-Site where he was a link in the process for making "better" atomic bombs. By 1968, he had become an antiwar activist and was an alternate delegate for candidate Eugene McCarthy at the notorious Democratic Convention in Chicago. He left LASL in 1969 when his conscience could no longer tolerate his role in nuclear bomb development. Since then, because of his singularity in speaking out against the nuclear mission of the Laboratory, he became the most interviewed and photographed person in Los Alamos.
Ed was a hardworking and successful entrepreneur who invested in "things." A child of the depression who extolled thrift and hated waste, he established the Los Alamos Sales Company in 1951 to buy and resell things--mainly surplus equipment from the Los Alamos Laboratory. For many years the company operated as a catalog business, selling to universities world-wide. He typed and mimeographed pages that were assembled into catalogs by his children who also assisted with mailing, packing, and shipping.
Ed took an active interest in the community. When the government began to plan a subdivision for individual owners to develop, Ed got involved. He helped name the streets on Barranca Mesa and purchased the lot on which he built the first adobe home in Los Alamos. He took great pride in his plans and designs for the house, seeking to make it as durable, functional and maintenance free as possible. Nearly 60 years later, the house remains a testament to his attention to detail. Ed was a founding member of the do-it-yourself home builders association known as "The Nailbenders." Later, in a new area known as Pajarito Acres, he was the first to build a home with the intention that it would be a rental property. When government houses came onto the market, he bought and sold those too, and upon his exit from the Laboratory, he and Margaret used proceeds to purchase The Shalako Shop which they operated for thirty years.
In 1973, he purchased the Grace Lutheran Church property which he first called "The Omega Peace Institute" and later named "The First Church of High Technology." In 1976, he acquired the adjacent "Mesa Market" property, which remained a grocery store for two years. When the grocery operation ceased, the Los Alamos Sales Company began moving things into the building. In recent years, the operation became known as "The Black Hole," because "everything went in, and not even light could get out." The business is well-known to set-decorators, artists, inventors and tinkerers, and tourists from around the world. He worked at the business six days a week until his illness forced him to slow down in late 2008. He never stopped thinking about the business despite his physical absence from it.
Ed refused to abandon The Black Hole during the forced evacuation of Los Alamos in 2000 when the government-set fire devastated the mountain landscape and burned more than 400 residences. The fire burned up to the foundation of the Black Hole, but Ed's vigilance kept the fire from consuming it. He was arrested after the fire passed and was sentenced to community service for "refusing to obey a police order." He had predicted such a disastrous immolation and had encouraged the County to build a perimeter road as a fire barrier. He strongly fought the use of salt on snowy streets because of its killing effect on trees and the subsequent erosion of soil and further environmental degradation.
Grothus was most known for his antiwar and antinuclear activism. He was a frequent writer of "Letters to the Editor" and in 1966 wrote "An Ode to a Leader, Misleading," dedicated to President Johnson. In it he wrote "... search and destroy, ignoble duty..." His motto became "Semper Fabricate, Numquam Consumite" or "Always Build, Never Destroy." As an early Obama supporter, Ed was pleased to note in his inaugural address that President Obama said, "... people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy." Despite his antiwar and antinuclear stance, he never called for the closure of the Laboratory. He said the Lab should stop making things useful only for killing, but he supported a mission for scientists to more efficiently harvest the energy of the sun, the infinite power source.
Grothus designed and commissioned two granite obelisks to mark the explosion of the first atomic bomb. The obelisks were quarried and carved in China, then shipped to Los Alamos in December 2007. The obelisks are white granite and are designed to sit on black bases, "doomsday stones," engraved with text in 15 languages that describe the "most significant man-made event in human history." Important to him among the messages engraved in the stone was, "No one is secure unless everyone is secure." When erected, each monument will weigh over 39 tons and stand nearly 40 feet tall. At the time of his death, Grothus remained optimistic that the obelisks would find a home.
He was featured in numerous international magazine and newspaper articles and stories on national radio and television. He has appeared in various historical books, as a character in novels and, thanks to a variety of international artists, in theaters, galleries and music productions. He also has a significant presence on the internet. He was the subject of two documentaries including "Atomic Ed and the Black Hole," by filmmaker, Ellen Spiro, broadcast on HBO. He was also the subject of investigations by the FBI and Secret Service on several occasions.
In 2006 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Indigenous World Uranium Summit for his work to promote a Nuclear-Free Future. In 2007, he was humbled to be the first non-Native American to receive the prestigious Alan Houser Memorial Award from the Houser family at the annual Governor's Awards in the Arts for the State of New Mexico.
He was proud of his family with whom he enjoyed traveling, working, exchanging thoughts and opinions and sharing challenges and successes. Ed's deafness, "my only problem," was a cruel burden, not just for him. A voracious reader and life-long learner, his intellectual curiosity and interest in ideas, "things" and world events remained strong even as cancer consumed all his energy. "Dying," he said, "is not very exciting."
The eldest of eight, he was predeceased by his parents, Edward Theodore Grothus and Regina Hebinck Grothus, his son Theodore, his grandson Preston Edward Burns, and his brother Joseph Grothus. He is survived by Margaret, his wife of 57 years, his children Barbara Grothus of Albuquerque, NM; Tom Grothus (Wendy Slotboom) of Seattle, WA; Susan Burns of Albuquerque, NM; and Mike Grothus (Heidi) and their children, Casey and Michelle Grothus of Niwot, CO. He is also survived by three sisters, three brothers, and their extended families. Loved and admired by many, despised by a few, he will not soon be forgotten.
UPDATE 3:A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 2:00 PM in the Duane W Smith Auditorium at the Los Alamos High School.
Shutterbug is an excellent magazine aimed at photographers in the serious amateur to professional range. Their pages are filled with great reviews, photographer profiles and advanced technique how-to articles. Every month a section of their magazine is devoted to reviews of various photographer's websites.
Last year after updating my website, I submitted it for review. I was excited to find that Joe Farace had chosen my site to be included in the Web Profiles section of the magazine.
After having learned to develop film in his mom's darkroom when he was in grade school, Dave Bullock was bitten by the photography bug. The straightforward site design shows off Bullock's colorful images in an equally straightforward style. Big thumbnails. You click 'em, they get bigger. Big enough to enjoy the depth and nuance of images in his "Projects" collection, and showcased in his "Industrial Landscapes" section that is yet another answer to the bored photographer's oft-voiced cliché that "there's nothing to photograph." His photographs of bridges, rail yards, and urban waterways transcend their subject matter because of the same impeccable craftsmanship that large format landscape photographers lavish on their images. Here Bullock finds "beauty in odd places," revealing unseen aspects of the world that we really live in, not the California Carleton Watkins photographed 100 years ago.
In his "Photojournalism" collection Bullock explores the beauty of science, two words seldom used in the same sentence. His images of NASA's Goldstone Deep Space Network facility combine gritty yet stylish editorial images inside the facility and Star Trek-like images of sweep and majesty outside. Don't miss the studio and environmental photographs of people in the "Movers and Shakers" and "Artists" sections (in the "Portraits" collection) for another, more sensitive side of Bullock's work. His mom is Rhoda Gordon Bullock, an accomplished photographer, proving that sometimes talent is genetic. I urge you to also visit her website (http://rgbullock.com/home) to view her fine art images.
Shutterbug really is a great magazine, and I'm not just saying that because of the great review they gave me. I've been a subscriber since April of 2006 and it is currently the only photography magazine I subscribe to. If you're a photographer you really should subscribe to Shutterbug. It rocks!
I will be showing my Los Angeles HDR photography for the first time in print form during the Downtown Art Walk next week at Niche LA Gallery.
I have had two public showings in the past, but this will be the first show of my Los Angeles HDR work. If you've been following my blog you've likely seen these photos (shown below). To really get the full experience of this work you have to see it large. The amount of detail is really quite stunning.
Depending on how the clouds look in the next few days I may also be showing some brand-new work. No promises on that, but it is a possibility. Either way please come down and check out my work.
Niche.LA is located in the Spring Arts Tower at:
453 S. Spring St. #443
Los Angeles, CA 90013
February 12th & March 12th, 4:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Here are some of the photos I will be showing:
Los Angeles and 6th Street Bridge
Los Angeles River and Downtown
Blue Gravel Factor for Scott Brown
Griffith Park Fire and Downtown Los Angeles from 7th Street Bridge
The show will be held at Russel Brown's gallery/community space: The Exchange (114 W 5th Street). We will have an opening during Art Walk starting around 6pm at which we will be serving wine and snacks.
Along with the framed and unframed prints for sale we will be exhibiting videos and slideshows from our members. The work is really amazing and the slideshows will permit the public to see much more than what had previously been shown.
Please come down and support the show and the Skid Row Photo Club members.Related Press:
- Downtown News: A New Focus on Skid Row
- Wired: Skid Row Photography Club Uses Donated Cameras to Make Street Art
- BoingBoing: Donate Your Used Digital Camera to LA's Skid Row Photo Club
Downtown needs more green space. We need more parks and we could really use a community garden.
Very few residents of downtown, if any, have yards. In our loft we have a dog run on the roof, but no place to grow fruits, vegetables or herbs. Our loft faces north and thus we get zero direct sunlight. Growing edible plants with natural light is thus impossible for us.
Most communities throughout Los Angeles have plots of land set aside for community gardening. Last Sunday, my lovely wife Penelope and I were on the West Side and stopped to watch the sunset at the lovely Ocean View Farms community garden.
I couldn't help to think that Downtown Los Angeles desperately needs something like Ocean View Farms. I don't see it coming to us any time soon, as we also need parks, but I can wish, right?
For now we'll just have to be happy with our guerilla garden!
The sun sets into the sea in the background of this photo of the Ocean View Farms community garden.
Penelope watches the sunset outside of the Ocean View Farms community garden near Santa Monica.
Click here to see more photos of the Ocean View Farms community garden.
Last year I shot a gallery at USC which covered the use of robots for Iraq combat medic training. As I've mentioned before, I love robots.
Here is the intro I wrote for the Heal a Robot, Go to War gallery on Wired.com:
As of last week, 4,000 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq. While a grim statistic, the number would be much higher without the well-trained medical staff deployed to combat service. Before their tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, many corpsmen, doctors and nurses are trained at specialized facilities with elaborate combat-zone simulations, which include sound effects and realistic robot patients.
The Navy Trauma Training Center, located at the University of Southern California Surgical Skills department, is one of only three training centers in the United States. It is adjacent to the Los Angeles County Hospital, which has the busiest trauma ward in the city, treating about two-dozen gunshot and trauma wounds every day. While this real-world experience is invaluable to enlisted medics, a collection of programmable robots are able to tailor their symptoms and reactions to specific scenarios that doctors will encounter in combat zones.
Here are some of those photos from the gallery. If you want to see them in all their full-resolution glory, click here.
Click here to see the rest of the USC Medical photo gallery.
Not every gallery I shoot for Wired.com makes the cut. Last year during my PMA coverage, I took a short detour to Nellis AFB to take photos of their gigantic solar farm. Until now, the photos were never published.
The solar power farm at Nellis is the largest in North America. Thousands of solar panels glisten in the sun, gathering energy to help run the Air Force Base. It is quite a sight to see.
Clearly our country needs more green energy infrastructure. I predict in the next few years we will see hundreds if not thousands of solar farms like this cropping up all over our nation.
I also think that using nanotechnology, researchers will soon make a solar panel that doubles or triples the efficiency of current photovoltaics. Personally I think this will happen at UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute, about which I have done several stories for Wired.com.
CnSI has brought together the top scientists and researchers from almost every department at UCLA. They are collaborating on nanotechnology in a brand new, super-high-tech facility. Keep your eye on CnSI for a wide array of nanotech breakthroughs in the next few years.
Back to Nellis, here are a few selections from the Nellis AFB Solar Farm shoot:
Snow-covered mountains in the background are framed by an array of photovoltaic panels in this never-before-published shot from the Nellis AFB Solar Farm.
The brains of the solar tracker control are exposed in this shot from 2008.
The sun peeks through a solar panel at Nellis AFB.
To see the rest of the Nellis AFB Solar Farm photos click here.
I love robots. I especially love buying robots at a discount. Discount robots rock.
A couple years ago I found a Robosapien II on eBay by saving a search for "broken robosapien". I bought the robot for a tenth of its retail cost and when it arrived I found that it merely had a loose wire in the controller.
Last year when the I-Sobot was announced I wanted one, but the price was just too high for me to justify. I-Sobots are amazing little robots with a dozen servos that allow them to dance, do kung-fu, somersaults and much more. After watching a few videos showing their capabilities I knew I had to have one.
I saved a search on ebay right then for "broken i-sobot". A few months later that search came up with some matches. I bought two of them, figuring I could use the parts from one to fix the other.
As it turned out one of them just needed to be adjusted. So that was a working I-Sobot for about one tenth the retail cost. Win.
The other I-Sobot worked for the most part, but had some strange errors which I think were related to the processor. Either way, one working I-Sobot, and one semi-working I-Sobot made me happy enough.
If you're in to fixing things and don't mind taking a chance with a broken robot, I highly recommend searching for broken robots on eBay. In all likelihood the bot won't be broken or will just need minor adjustments.
I have always loved reading. Sadly in the past decade I haven't set aside time to read on a regular basis. This all changed in 2008.
I made it one of my daily goals to read get in bed by 10pm and read for an hour before falling asleep. I accomplished that goal more times than not last year. In doing so I read 21 books.
As you will see in the list below, I read mostly non-fiction. This year I'm changing it up a little bit. I am reading one work of fiction and one non-fiction in parallel. I try and switch back and forth each night, but I've really been hooked on PHP 5 Objects, Patterns and Practices. I guess that says something about me that I find it more interesting than the other book I'm reading: The Vicar of Wakefield.
Here is an un-ordered list of the books I read last year, I likely forgot a few, but you get the idea:
- An Empire of Their Own - After rediscovering my faith and interest in Judaism I starting reading everything I possibly could about it. This book, although not specifically about Judaism, covers the immigrant Jews who created Hollywood. Great read if you're interested in Jews, the motion picture industry or both.
- Fast Food Nation - My wife read this book a few years ago and stopped eating beef and fowl that wasn't free-range, organic and grass-fed. I finally got around to reading it and I no longer eat beef or poultry that wasn't raised the way animals were intended to live: on an open range, eating grass and being happy. If you read this book you'll understand why. Basically, feeding herbivores meat, blood and guts from other animals or of their same species, is a horribly disgusting practice that has a wide range of frightening ramifications.
- The Clarinet and Clarinet Playing - Last year I picked up the clarinet again and decided to learn a bit more about it. This book had amazing reviews on Amazon and they were spot on. I will likely read this book every year or two.
- The Wicked Son - This book is part of the Nextbook series. I decided to read it because my Temple decided to start a book club. I enjoyed the book and I will actually be re-reading it so it's fresh in my head for the discussions.
- History of the Jews of Los Angeles - This is a great book from the 1970s about the history of... ok you get the idea. Great read.
- The Elements of Journalism - A very interesting and informative discussion about bias and public perception of the media.
- The Artful Edit - This book has helped me immensely. I recommend it for any writer, aspiring or otherwise.
- The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law - This book is mostly a dictionary reference on accepted spellings of common people, places and things. There is also some good stuff about the law included.
- Photojournalism Sixth Edition - This is the best book I've ever read about Photojournalism. Amazing. I have both the 5th and 6th editions.
- Ansel Adams' The Camera - This should be required reading for any photographer.
- Ansel Adams' The Negative - This is also great reading, although obviously somewhat dated and becoming more and more obsolete.
- Ansel Adams' The Print - [See previous comment]
- The Associated Press Guide to Photojournalism - This book has become almost too dated to be worth reading. I'm guessing the AP is working on a new edition if they haven't already released one.
- How to Photograph Absolutely Everything - This book was pretty good, I would recommend it for beginning photographers.
- The Pragmatic Programmer - This is a wonderful book. I'm going to re-read this one soon.
- Treasure Island - This was the only tome of fiction I read last year. It's an awesome book and a quick and enjoyable read.
- Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills - I re-read this last year. Filled with great tips for mountaineering, it is critical knowledge for me when it comes to Search and Rescue.
- The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism - Despite this series derogatory name, this book was actually really insightful and informative. Keep in mind though that it was written by an Orthodox rabbi so a large portion of it doesn't apply to people like myself who are Reform Jews. It was still very interesting to read.
- The Family Treasury of Jewish Holidays - This children's book was actually quite informative and fun to read.
- The Associate Press Guide to News Writing - This nice short read helped me improve my news-writing tremendously. If you write any type of news, or even blog, you should definitely pick this one up.
- Getting Things Done - I believe this was the second or third time I've read this book. As I mentioned before, this one changed my life.
- What's Your Poo Telling You - This was one of my birthday presents from Penelope. A great little book about poops.
If you're interested in what I'm reading, click here to see my Good Reads profile. I'd love to hear what you're reading, so please post a comment below or link up with me on Good Reads.