Sunday, April 29, 2012

A man runs off with a shopping cart full of looted items during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

20 Years Ago Today, Los Angeles erupted in a sea of chaos after a jury acquitted four police officers accused of savagely beating Rodney King on March 3, 1991. I was only 12 at the time [and safely (and currently) living 30 miles east of the City of Angels], but I do remember that truck driver Reginald Denny getting the crap beaten out of him by those thugs on the well as Rodney King's press conference where he uttered that much-mocked question: "Can't we all just...get along?" I also recall how excited I was when I heard on the news that the National Guard and U.S. Marines from Camp Pendleton were being deployed to Los Angeles to quell the violence (I was a big military buff when I was a kid)—and was hoping that most of those hoodlums looting and setting fire to the city would bite the sweet taste of warm metal fired from Marine Corps-issued M-16 automatic weapons. I'm just joking. Okay, no I'm not.

In the distance, Koreatown is enshrouded in smoke during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

What really sticks out in my mind about the riots was me traveling to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Pasadena to attend a lecture with one of my brothers on one night. While we were on the freeway heading to JPL, a military truck filled with soldiers passed us by on the lane to our right. I remember cheering them on...but obviously, I don't think they heard or saw me as they drove right by on their way to riot-ravaged Los Angeles.

A U.S. Marine Corps soldier patrols Crenshaw during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

So there you go... My personal take on the Los Angeles riots. In non-riot-related news, what I also recall about that period of time was NBC announcing that they were gonna show the network premiere of Tim Burton's hit film Batman (which was released in theaters in 1989) on television. I think Batman aired on TV for the first time in May of 1992. Batman Returns came out in cinemas a month later on June 19. I was disappointed by this sequel, even though Michelle Pfeiffer kicked ass as Catwoman. That is all.

Rodney King conducts a press conference calling for an end to the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Friday, April 27, 2012

With the Empire State Building in the background, the shuttle Enterprise, mated atop NASA 905, flies above New York City on April 27, 2012.
NASA / Robert Markowitz

Welcome (back) to the Big Apple, Enterprise! Earlier this morning, the prototype space shuttle orbiter Enterprise safely touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City...where she will stay for several weeks before being transported (via barge) to her final home at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum up the Hudson River. This comes more than a week after her retired, space-flown sister ship Discovery took Enterprise's spot inside the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. The last time Enterprise flew over the Big Apple was in 1983...when she was coming back from an overseas trip to the Paris Air Show.

Prior to landing at JFK Airport, Enterprise—mounted atop a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (a.k.a. NASA 905, a modified Boeing 747)—did a flyover of New York City before touching down on terra firma. I hope you enjoyed the show, New Yorkers! Us folks in Los Angeles are next up in line to see a shuttle, which will be Endeavour, fly around our city in late September (hopefully)...right before she touches down at Los Angeles International Airport, and travels on 12 miles worth of badly-paved roads (I kid) to her final home at the California Science Center in downtown L.A.

Even if an L.A. flyover doesn't occur, it's all good. (No it isn't. That would suck big time.) At least we have a real space shuttle coming to the City of Angels. Oh snap! I had to get that dig in, New York.

The shuttle Enterprise and NASA 905 fly over the New York City skyline on April 27, 2012.
NASA / Matt Hedges

With the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building in the foreground, the shuttle Enterprise and NASA 905 fly over New York City on April 27, 2012.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

With the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and 1 World Trade Center down below, the shuttle Enterprise and NASA 905 fly over New York City on April 27, 2012.
NASA / Bill Ingalls

The shuttle Enterprise and NASA 905 fly near the 1 World Trade Center in New York City on April 27, 2012.
B. Walker -

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Just read online that Megan Fox is pregnant with her first child. You da man, Shia! And you probably thought that nothing good was gonna come out of working on the Transformers films... I kid. Props to Megan and Brian Austin Green for being on the verge of starting their own family (though B.A.G. already has a son from his previous marriage with Vanessa Marcil). As painful and cheesy as it was to type that. Carry on.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Food for Thought... Metta World Peace (a.k.a. Ron Artest) should now change his name to Metta World War, after getting ejected (and facing possible suspension) from yesterday's Los Angeles Lakers game for elbowing the Oklahoma City Thunder's James Harden on the side of his face. But I ain't mad at ya, MWW—err, MWP (especially after L.A. prevailed against the Thunder at STAPLES Center, 114-106, in double overtime on Sunday)... I'm only bummed in that you didn't do the same thing to Russell Westbro— Nevermind.

Bring on the NBA Playoffs! After the Laker's final regular season game (against the Sacramento Kings) this Thursday, that is. Carry on.

Metta World Peace elbows James Harden in the face during the first half of the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on April 22, 2012. L.A. won in 2OT: 114-106.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

An artist's concept of the Dawn spacecraft orbiting asteroid Vesta.
NASA / JPL - Caltech

Dawn Update... It's been a while since I posted something about this awesome, ion-powered deep space mission.


Dawn Gets Extra Time to Explore Vesta (Press Release - April 18)

PASADENA, Calif. – NASA's Dawn mission has received official confirmation that 40 extra days have been added to its exploration of the giant asteroid Vesta, the second most massive object in the main asteroid belt. The mission extension allows Dawn to continue its scientific observations at Vesta until Aug. 26, while still arriving at the dwarf planet Ceres at the same originally scheduled target date in February 2015.

"We are leveraging our smooth and successful operations at Vesta to provide for even more scientific discoveries for NASA and the world." said Robert Mase, Dawn project manager based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "This extra time will allow us to extend our scientific investigation and learn more about this mysterious world."

The extension will not require any new funding, and will draw on financial reserves that have been carefully managed by the Dawn project. The flexibility provided by the spacecraft's use of efficient ion propulsion system allows it to maintain its originally planned Ceres arrival.

The extension allows for extra observations at Dawn's current low-altitude mapping orbit (average altitude 130 miles or 210 kilometers), which will now last until May 1. The additional time enables the gamma ray and neutron detector to build the best possible maps of the elemental composition of Vesta's surface and improve data for the gravity experiment, the two primary scientific investigations at the low-altitude orbit. The spacecraft's camera and spectrometer are also obtaining additional high-resolution images.

Additional time will also be spent in the planned second high-altitude mapping orbit later this summer. When Dawn arrived at Vesta in July 2011, much of the northern hemisphere was in shadow. But with the passage of time, more of that area will bask in sunshine.

"Dawn has beamed back to us such dazzling Vestan vistas that we are happy to stay a little longer and learn more about this special world," said Christopher Russell, Dawn's principal investigator at UCLA. "While we have this one-of-a-kind opportunity to orbit Vesta, we want to make the best and most complete datasets that we can."

Dawn's mission to Vesta and Ceres is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital Sciences Corp. in Dulles, Va., designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team.

Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory


A computer-generated image depicting the Dawn spacecraft's current position from asteroid Vesta.
NASA / JPL - Gregory J. Whiffen

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Batman (Christian Bale) stares at an unseen danger in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

Photos of the Day... Just thought I'd share these cool new images from The Dark Knight Rises (which gets released in a theater near you on July 20th); a couple of these pics are courtesy of Entertainment Weekly:

Bane (Tom Hardy) wreaks havoc on Wall Street in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

Batman employs his Badpad, courtesy of AppleĀ®, in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. (I'm kidding.)

Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) isn't pleased that the safe is empty in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

Selina Kyle is about to make Bruce Wayne feel guilty about being rich in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

Bane stares menacingly at his off-screen victim (Bruce Wayne?) in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

Bane and Batman duke it out in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) watches as Ariadne (Ellen Page) manipulates the dream world around them in INCEPTION.

Inception is plausible! Or maybe not. Anyways, over the last two weeks I've had four memorable dreams that I couldn't resist blogging here. I'll get the more 'standard' dreams out of the way and point out that on Saturday night, I had two consecutive dreams where I hung out with this girl who I had a major crush on back in high school. Normally, when I have a dream featuring this girl (no, they're not dirty)—who was my classmate during my sophomore year in high school—it involved me searching for her around town as she was always nowhere to be found. She proved to be very elusive like a phantom in my previous dreams. Which is symbolic: This girl is now married and has a kid in real life, haha. The other standard um, dream I had last night involved me personally receiving a note by Britney Spears (no, she didn't have a shaved head or anything like that...just a sexy tight green outfit on) to meet her in her hotel room at 11 PM. (I can't recall what kind of event we were at during the time. Yes, I'm still calling this dream memorable.) Did I ever go? Unfortunately, no. I was sidetracked by something. But I do remember being excited and anxious as heck when she handed me the note, lol.

Now onto the Inception dream: Last week I literally had a dream within a dream within another dream. The first dream I had was of me at a movie theater (don't recall if I was with my family or friends). Things were uneventful at the theater until I fell asleep in my seat inside the auditorium...only to wake up inside a warehouse where a couple of other people and I were being chased by some crazed killer. The setting was a mixture of Scream, Saw and Hostel. We were still being chased when I suddenly woke up in the middle of some kind of comic book convention. Apparently, I fell asleep while standing in line (to get an autograph by God-knows-who), and people around me smirked after I came out of my doze. And then I actually woke up (in the middle of the night)...and realized that Christopher Nolan was totally onto something with his 2010 Oscar-nominated film.

I wouldn't mind having another Inception-type dream again. But I definitely don't mind dreaming about my high school crush once more. (This kind of journal entry is what happens when you've been stuck at home for the last two months because of this medical nonsense.)

That is all.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A computer-generated image showing Titanic's bow sitting crumpled on the Atlantic seafloor.
Copyright © 2012 RMS Titanic, Inc.; Modeling by Stefan Fichtel; Based on photomosaics produced by the Advanced Imaging and Visualization Laboratory, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

100 Years Ago Today, the largest ocean liner of its time sank in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg on its maiden voyage. 1,514 people lost their lives...making this one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history. But I'm pretty sure you already knew all of this. Just wanted to share some new composite pics (which used hundreds of optical and sonar images that were stitched together) made of Titanic's wreckage that Scientific American posted on its website late last month. As of right now, the wreckage is slowly disintegrating due to iron-eating bacteria devouring the bow and stern sections of Titanic's hull at a depth of more than 12,000 feet. Within 50 years, the hull and structure of the passenger ship will collapse entirely due to the rapid growth of bacteria feasting on its metal, eventually leaving behind only the more durable interior fittings of the vessel intermingled with a heap of rust on the cold Atlantic seafloor.

Physically, the Titanic will inevitably be no more...but if this journal entry, books, TV shows, museum exhibits and an Oscar-winning film (I still haven't seen Titanic 3D at the movie theater, BTW) are any indication, the ship's memory will go on. Yes, that was a play on Celine Dion's song.

A starboard view of Titanic's bow.
Copyright © 2012 RMS Titanic, Inc.; Produced by AIVL, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

A close-up of two of Titanic's engines.
Copyright © 2012 RMS Titanic, Inc.; Produced by AIVL, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

A glimpse of Titanic's stern...which is slowly being devoured by iron-eating bacteria on the Atlantic seafloor.
Copyright © 2012 RMS Titanic, Inc; Produced by AIVL, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sporanox capsules.

Tumultuous Times Update... (And an Antibiotic That Costs $890) In a continuation of last month's journal entry, here are some new developments regarding my skin condition and the people who are treatin' it:

1.) The dermatologist who I had an appointment with in Glendora on April 2nd is a friggin' asswipe. Clearly, throughout the whole time he was talking to me, this dermatologist was trying to convince me to see another doctor and not return to his office ever again. How did I know this? Simple. He flat-out said he was unable to help me at his measly little place along the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains (lousy general practitioners)...and that I should go back to the first dermatologist I went to last February (HELL NO) since he conducted the original biopsies and whatnot. While this obviously made sense, there was NO CHANCE I was putting up with a medical specialist whose way of trying to help me is to constantly point out that I had no health insurance. Anyways, to make the Glendora doctor look more like a douche, he kept repeating, "You're very sick. You're very sick. You're very sick." No s**t, Sherlock...that's why I was at your office: to seek medical help.

Of course, this guy is only a skin doctor. He probably treated a pimple on some dude's ass right after I left.

2.) My blood is really screwed up. Right after I left the douchebag's office in Glendora, I immediately went to my family doctor's office (yes, this is the same doctor who went on vacation for a couple weeks last January and February...causing me to go to the local Urgent Care clinic to initially seek "treatment" there instead) to give some blood samples that would be tested at a lab. (This is actually one of the suggestions the Glendora doctor made before I departed; just because he's a douchebag doesn't mean I won't follow some of his advice). Here are the results:

- I'm anemic, thanks to what's causing my skin condition.

- I have a low red blood cell count.

- I have a high white blood cell count...which definitely means there's an infection being fought inside me.

- My cholesterol level is normal. Time to eat poached eggs and bacon for breakfast everyday! I kid.

- My blood sugar level is okay. I'll think I'll drink a can of Dr Pepper® right now.

- My protein level is abnormally high...which is attributed to the protein supplement (provided by I took between May of 2007 and early February of this year. The protein shake was very effective in helping me build muscle and increase my body weight over the last 4 1/2 years, but due to some influential people (RE: parents), I won't be taking the protein powder for a while. (As my Dad is strongly convinced that it was the protein supplement that screwed up my immune system. Too bad the blood test results seem to back up his case.)

- I'm iron-deficient. There's no way in heck that I'll eat liver to make up for this I may possibly take iron supplements in the near future.

- Speaking of my liver, it seems to be off-nominal as well (thank you, NASA jargon). But this might be attributed to the useless $221 Biaxin antibiotic that I stopped using last week.

As for other screwed-up parts of my body:

3.) I have a fungal infection—possibly in my lungs—that may be the cause of my skin condition.

On the plus side, however...

4.) I want to compliment the amazing folks working at the University of California, Los Angeles' (UCLA) various medical centers on the Westside for being very professional and courteous during my visits there. I saw a dermatologist at one of the university's hospital branches in Santa Monica last week, and he suspected that I might have Coccidioidomycosis...a fungal disease which is endemic in certain parts of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and northwestern Mexico. He took two biopsies from my arm to confirm this assessment, and just last Monday, he called me at home to tell me that the lab tests proved that it was indeed Cocci-whatever. On one hand, Crap. On the other hand, Good. The dermatologist was able to prescribe me an antibiotic called Sporanox that I would take for the next month or so. However—

The UCLA dermatologist also recommended that I see another healthcare professional to assess my illness. So yesterday, I went to a hospital that was directly on the UCLA campus in Westwood to see an Infectious Disease Specialist (IDS). She was really cool. During the appointment, we spent most of the time getting up to speed about how I contracted the skin condition back in February, what other doctors did in trying to treat it, and what she recommended that I do to take care of this Cocci-induced ailment.

Instead of Sporanox (which is the medication that costs $890... You folks in the pharmaceutical industry must be real happy right now), I'll be taking another antibiotic that is specially designed to treat Coccidioidomycosis. Called Fluconazole, this medication only needs to be taken once a day (though you need to take two tablets at the same time) as opposed to Sporanox or even Biaxin. The thing is, I'm gonna have to indefinitely refill on this antibiotic until the IDS tells me that I'm completely treated. In fact, I'm gonna have to indefinitely see the IDS for the next couple of months to assess my condition and see if I'm getting better. Hopefully, the weather will be much warmer at UCLA the next time I pay a visit there (which will be on May 8 for a follow-up with the IDS).

So there you have it... That's how I'm doing right now. The UCLA dermatologist said the pustules on my face should eventually fall off the longer I take Sporano—I mean, Fluconazole, but I'm definitely taking that with a grain of salt.

Until then, take care people! And watch out for mosquitoes and don't let your immune system go down the crapper. (Good luck with that last one.) That is all.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

An image of a Red Planet twister, taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on March 14, 2012.
NASA / JPL - Caltech / Univ. of Arizona

Photos of the Day... Check out this cool dust devil that was spotted on the surface of the Red Planet by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) on March 14 of this year. This twister is 12 miles-high and 230 feet-wide...dwarfing the whirlwind (shown below) that was also photographed by MRO on February 16 of this year. Even though I already blogged about the February dust devil last month, just thought I'd repost the image here to compare it to the size of the behemoth featured above. That is all.

An image of an earlier Red Planet twister, taken by NASA's MRO on February 16, 2012.
NASA / JPL - Caltech / Univ. of Arizona

Monday, April 09, 2012

SUPER POWER BEAT DOWN host Marisha Ray is ready to begin the race of the Batmobiles.

Clash of the Batmobiles... In case you haven't seen this yet, check out this truncated video clip of the epic race between the Batmobile from the 1960's Batman TV show and the Batmobile from Tim Burton's 1989 hit film (also called Batman, in case you needed clarification). You probably wouldn't be surprised who wins...but check out the full 10-minute Super Power Beat Down episode from which this came to see web show host Marisha Ray honoring a bet she made with one of the debaters prior to the start of the race. Nice.

The two Batmobiles cruise along as they try to beat each other to the finish line.

And just like the rest of you, I too hope that these folks will someday have another Batmobile showdown...this time with the Tumbler from Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight films joining the fray. It will most likely be the slower of the three (then again...the video below shows that I shouldn't make such assumptions) but to see a trio of different Bat rides cruisin' down the street at the same time? That—would be awesome.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Call me pathetic, call me what you will... Or however that Green Day song goes. Anyways, just thought I'd share this magazine cover featuring the lovely Eva Longoria that I saw at a newsstand inside a super market on New Year's Eve last year. Just to put things in context, it was also at that super market where on the same (holi)day I skimmed that cool National Geographic issue that featured blue holes, the Cave of Crystals and Russia's Lake Baikal. Who would've thought grocery stores could be so educational (and alluring)?

And no, my closest friends aren't very fond of celebrating on New Year's Eve. Don't know why. As an FYI, I wasn't at the supermarket at 11 PM. That is all.

Actress Eva Longoria on the cover of NEWBEAUTY magazine.

What were you thinking, Tony Parker?

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Bat... Batman's new aerial vehicle in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

Last night, I had a cool dream where I was attending a rally held by the mayor of Gotham City. While he was standing at the top of the stairs of City Hall addressing the crowd that gathered, there were numerous thugs loitering around the area...communicating by radio on when to launch an attack on the mayor that either involved kidnapping or assassinating him. Even a couple of Imperial Stormtroopers were on hand waiting for the order to strike at Gotham's leader. When the order was finally given to take him out, the thugs and Stormtroopers, speaking or listening in on their radios, foolishly took their eyes off the mayor. Once they turned around to re-focus their attention on the target, he was nowhere to be found. Staring up into the sky, the bad guys could see a Bat-shaped aircraft hovering high above City Hall, with a cargo door closing at the back of the vehicle indicatiing that the mayor was somehow grabbed from the air and hoisted into safety aboard this mysterious craft...which quickly flew away. The Dark Knight has saved the Gotham mayor's life!

That's where the dream ended. Now I'm even more stoked to watch The Dark Knight Rises this July!

No, this isn't what the Stormtroopers wore in my dream last night.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A look inside the 91st floor of the 1 World Trade Center (1 WTC).
WTCProgress -

100 Stories... That's how tall the 1 World Trade Center (1 WTC) is since right before last weekend. Technically, in terms of floors that actually exist, the 1 WTC is 93 stories tall... The latest milestone was marked by the fact that the building's metal framework has reached the height where the 100th floor will be once finished (see pic below). The 1 WTC has only 4 more stories to go after that (at least in terms of having the remaining steel beams installed vertically to the top of the skyscraper) before it reaches a height of 1,314 feet (401 meters). When the roof is completed, the 1 WTC will be 1,368-feet (417 meters) tall. And once the 408-feet (124 meters) tall antenna spire is added to the top of the building sometime this summer, the 1 World Trade Center will finally reach its intended and symbolic height of 1,776 feet (541.32 meters).

In another milestone that is coming soon, the 1 WTC has less than a month to go before it surpasses the Empire State Building as the tallest skyscraper in New York. Awesome.

This photo of the 1 WTC is modified to show the point where the skyscraper's 100th floor will be once it is completed.
WTCProgress -

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Happy April Fool's Day, Everyone! Clearly, this is what Michael Bay will do if he finds the screenplay to the upcoming feature film Teenage Mutant Ninja—err, Ninja Turtles unsatisfactory. I read online yesterday that he's gonna cast supermodel Adriana Lima in the lead female role for the kung-fu fighting alien reptiles movie.


Don't forget what day this is. Bazinga!

Will Shredder be a giant robot, Mr. Bay?