Lyn Jensen's Blog: Manga, Music, and Politics

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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Random Lengths Link: Agencies Work to Keep Winter Floods Away

Random Lengths News featured my article, "Agencies Work to Keep Winter Floods Away" in the Dec. 7-20, 2017 issue. Here's the link to the online version, which you may copy and paste in your browser:

If the above link is not active (doesn't work), below is the text:

Several of the biggest news stories of 2017 involved flooding, especially after the hurricanes that hit Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean in August and September, resulting in hundreds of deaths and otherwise endangering public health and safety. 

Carson experienced flooding, too, last January 22, when one of the heaviest storms to hit the Los Angeles area in several years flooded the 110 freeway under the Carson Street overpass. TV news crews including KTLA reported water as high as car hoods, resulting in the freeway being shut down and traffic diverted.

That day KTLA’s website also posted a cellphone video that showed dangerous flooding on Sepulveda Boulevard in West Carson between the 110 freeway and Vermont Avenue, engulfing several cars--and their occupants. Here, too, water was up to car hoods.

As another winter storm season approaches, Random Lengths contacted Carson’s public works department about what’s being done to protect the city and adjacent areas from dangerous levels of flooding. 

Julio Gonzalez, a city senior engineering technician, responded local flooding has to do with the capacity of storm drains. City crews have been making sure the city’s storm systems, including catch basins, are clean and free of debris. If not, then the drain can get clogged. To prevent that, the city is in the process of putting screens on its catch basins.

Another concern is assessing that everything’s operable concerning the city’s several pumps, including the Dominguez pumping station at the east end of Torrance Boulevard. That station, one of Carson’s largest, was installed in 2001 to mitigate what had previously been one of the city’s most obvious problem areas. It pumps water into the Dominguez Channel from an underground storm system.

Gonzales said there are no plans for system improvements at this time because the city’s storm water system currently in place is sufficient.

Concerning flooding on the 110 freeway, he noted Carson doesn’t have jurisdiction. The California Department of Transportation, also known as Caltrans, does.

When Random Lengths asked Caltrans about last January’s freeway flooding, spokesperson Timothy Weisberg responded, “[I]t was caused by a variety of factors … The Carson pump house also had a mechanical issue that kept it from operating at full capacity, and there was a power outage in the area. … The pump has since been fixed and is ready to run at full capacity.”

Weisberg added, “Pump houses all across the South Bay region have been inspected to ensure they are working properly.”

As for the stretch of Sepulveda in West Carson that has a history of flooding, who has jurisdiction may be an issue. West Carson is an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County, outside Carson’s jurisdiction. The nearby Bixby Marshland is within Carson’s city limits but is maintained by the Los Angeles County Sanitation Department. It provides a natural low area for large volumes of water to collect--and perhaps backflow.

Gonzalez suggested a channel just south of Sepulveda, which he identified as part of the Wilmington Drain, a tributary of the Dominguez Channel, may have a maintenance issue, or a right-of-way issue. 

Ed Teran of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works responded that the stretch of Sepulveda Boulevard in West Carson is not on his department’s radar. He commented the “hot spots” for flooding tend to be along coastal areas, while cities like Carson and Torrance are normally not considered a problem.

Kerjon Lee, Public Affairs Manager for the county department of public works, said cities work with the county when improving drainage infrastructure. He suggested persons concerned about flooding, or potential for flooding, may contact their city’s public works department or, for unincorporated areas, their county supervisor’s office. He directed persons with urgent needs to visit the county website or phone the public works dispatcher at 1-800-675-HELP.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Link to Random Lengths Article: Coping With Fruitcake

Random Lengths News published my article, "Fruitcake:  Cope with This Much Maligned Holiday Tradition." Here's the link for the online version, which you may copy and paste into your browser:

Below is the article, should the link be down:

Fruitcake: Cope With This Maligned Holiday Tradition

By Lyn Jensen

If you love fruitcake—also called fruit bread, Yule cake, or Christmas ring—you’re probably planning to get one (or more) from a local retailer such as Amalfitano Bakery in Rancho Palos Verdes, or order online from a world-renowned company such as Collin Street Bakery based in Corsicana, Texas.

If you dislike fruitcake, you may find yourself with one, anyway. Maybe you’ll get one at a party. Maybe you have that relative that always bakes fruitcake for gifts, like Truman Capote’s cousin Silk did in the classic story A Christmas Memory. Maybe this is the season for you to confront the reality that you have a fruitcake stored away somewhere--for longer than you want to admit. If so, consider options beyond throwing that fruitcake away. Adding food to the waste stream isn’t environmentally correct.

Browse around the Internet for ways to get away with serving fruitcake. The Collin Street Bakery website provides some ideas. The following suggestions are culled from several Internet and print sources.

·        Some people eat ice cream even when it involves fruitcake. Fruitcake purists may insist fruitcake is to be eaten plain, but if you’re not a fruitcake purist, slice it and top it with ice cream and/or whipped cream, and you’ll find it tastes much better. You can even make a fruitcake sundae the way you’d make a brownie sundae. A variation is to crumble or cube bits of fruitcake as garnish on a sundae.

·        Try toast. Put thin slices on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven, then top them with butter or cream cheese for breakfast or snacks. You can also use the slices to make French toast.

·        Make trifle or bread pudding. Both are time-honored ways to recycle leftover bread or cake, and that includes fruitcake. Find a recipe and hit the kitchen.

·        The right wine makes a marriage. If you serve fruitcake with compatible dessert wine, such as Riesling, tawny port, or cream sherry, you’ll find they make each other taste better. You may even want to throw a wine-tasting party. Invite guests to blind-taste several selections of dessert wine, and serve fruitcake to cut the liquor. Award a door prize to the person who eats the most!  

If after considering ways to make fruitcake enjoyable, you still can’t face serving/eating it, dispose of it in a useful way.

·         Repeat, trashing or composting fruitcake is not a good idea. Fruitcake infamously lasts years or decades. It’s not going to break down in a compost pile anytime soon.

·         Our animal companions like fruitcake even if we don’t. Humorists sometimes wonder how many fruitcakes end life as bird feed. How about gifting your backyard’s wildlife with an appropriate feeder, too? If you know a friendly dog, horse, pig, chicken, parrot, or goat, maybe they’ll like your unwanted fruitcake!

·         Call food charities about making a donation. Ask about donating some butter or cream cheese, too!
  • Don’t tell anybody but you’re re-gifting it. Johnny Carson is credited with originating a joke about how maybe there’s just one fruitcake in this world, and it’s forever being passed around as a gift. If you do this kind of recycling, make sure it’s going to someone who’ll be pleased to receive it and stop the chain. Otherwise you may find it coming back around. Do the recipient a favor, too—type or write up serving suggestions (like these)!