Alameda

Window Seat Pics OAK to LAX, Thanksgiving Day 2014 (12 Photos)

Taking off from Oakland on Thanksgiving day. Ships in the Bay.
Taking off from Oakland on Thanksgiving day. Ships in the Bay.
The Gateway to the Peninsula.
The Gateway Isthmus to the Peninsula.

There is a lot going on in this picture. In the foreground is San Bruno Mountain, which separates San Francisco from the rest of the Peninsula. The flat expanse just beyond contains the cities of South San Francisco, San Bruno, and Daly City, known as “Gateway to the Peninsula.”

What this picture reveals, however, is that this flat little expanse between San Francisco and the rest of the Peninsula beyond is actually an isthmus. What’s more, we are looking at two separate tectonic plates. Do you see that thin blue line of water coming in diagonally at the top-middle left hand side of the picture? That is the San Andreas Fault which divides the Pacific Plate from the North American Plate. It continues in a straight line right out to sea and then hits land again in Marin County, just north of San Francisco.

The thin blue line of water is actually two narrow lakes, formed when runoff collects in the narrow gorge between the two plates. The lake closest to us in the center of the picture is called San Andreas Lake. The fault was named after the lake and not the other way around.

Slightly different view of the Peninsula's narrow waist and the fault lakes.
Slightly different view of the Peninsula’s narrow waist and the fault lakes.

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The island city of Alameda, with Mt. Diablo in the background.
The island city of Alameda, with Mt. Diablo in the background.

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The approach to Los Angeles
The approach to Los Angeles.
UCLA. San Fernando Valley in background.
UCLA. San Fernando Valley in background.
As of Thanksgiving 2014, drought conditions still prevailed in L.A. It is very apparent from this altitude that people are refraining from watering their lawns and that the public green areas such as boulevard median strips are now public brown areas. Of course, in the days after taking this photo LA received its first big rainfall of the season.
As of Thanksgiving 2014, drought conditions still prevailed in L.A. It is very apparent from this altitude that people are refraining from watering their lawns and that the public green areas such as boulevard median strips have become public brown areas. Of course, in the days after this photo was taken LA received its first big rainfall of the season.
Iconic shot of Northeast L.A. featuring downtown (lower right), MacArthur Park (lower left), Chavez Ravine (right side, below wing), Echo Park (blue lake, middle of picture), and Silver Lake (upper center).
Iconic shot of Northeast L.A. featuring downtown (lower right), MacArthur Park (mid-left), Chavez Ravine (far right, below wing), Echo Park (small blue lake, middle of picture), and Silver Lake (upper center).

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L.A.’S TWO STREET GRIDS

Los Angeles began as a city that belonged to the king of Spain. Its street grid, based on a traditional Spanish plan, was a three mile square centered on the Los Angeles River, whose streets were at a 45 degree angle to the cardinal points.This city plan served Los Angeles for its first hundred years, even for its first several decades under U.S. dominion. By the 1880s, Anglo-Americans from the Midwest began arriving and settling in Los Angeles in droves, and they wanted a city laid out with the standard U.S. grid aligned to the cardinal points, N,S,E,W. In the two photos below, you can see this dividing line where the original Spanish city ends and the American city begins, and the two street grids collide.

L.A.'s two street grids.
L.A.’s two street grids meet at sharp angles.
los angeles grids
A wider view of the two street grids.
hollywood park
Hollywood Park, condemned and awaiting demolition.
Holiday traffic on the 405
Holiday traffic on the 405

Oakland to LAX. April 2014 (5 photos)

Usually when I fly south, I sit on the left side of the aircraft. This time I chose the right. Instead of the sweeping views of San Francisco and the Peninsula, I got a nice glimpse of Alameda and some offshore clouds as we banked south.

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The two sections of the city of Alameda. In the foreground, Bay Farm Island, which isn’t really an island, and across the channel Alameda Island, which is an island but didn’t used to be.
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The mid-section of Alameda. Note Coast Guard Island in the middle of the photo.
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An offshore spring weather system.
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And before you know it, the Channel Islands come into view and you’re entering SoCal.
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Crossing the Santa Monica Mountains. Note Lake Sherwood in the bottom of the screen, an exclusive community whose residents include Tom Petty and Britney Spears.

R.I.P. Harold Camping. Before the Mayans got all the glory, this Alameda resident predicted that the world would end on Oct. 21, 2011.

One of the great things about visiting Alameda is knowing that an old-school doomsday preacher like Harold Camping was going about his busy day on the very same island.

Sometimes I would even drive real slow by his house (pictured above) just to bask in his eminence and remind myself that the quiet, suburban tree-lined streets are often populated by people whose minds run deeper and wilder than we could possibly imagine.

The last time I drove past his house was on Wednesday, Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving, at 2:42 PM. That is when this photo was taken. He died 18 days later.

R.I.P. Good Reverend. I know that the world really did end on October 21, 2011, no matter what the others say.

Code Orange in Alameda

Two kinds of orange in Alameda.
Two kinds of orange in Alameda.
The basic blue retro license plate boldly complements the orangeness of the truck.
The basic blue retro license plate boldly complements the orangeness of the truck.

Did you know that orange didn’t exist until the 1500s?

Well, that’s not exactly true, that’s just when the word became part of the English language. “Orange” originally described the fruit, not the color, by the way. It came to England along a linguistic path that originated in Sanskrit as the word “naranga,” then went through Persian, Arabic, Spanish, and French before being adapted by the English as “orange.”

From Sanskrit right up through Spanish, the word was “naranja”. Now if you’re a 1500s Englishmen and you’re beholding a specimen of this citrus fruit you’d call it “a naranja,” which would eventually become streamlined to your English-speaking ears as “an aranja,” or “an orange.” So that’s why “orange” didn’t exist until the 1500s, and why nothing rhymes with it.

Well then, did this color even exist on the English palette before then?

Yes it did. The color was called, quite imaginatively, “yellow-red.”