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LABJ’s LA Stories / OUT OF THE PAST

LABJ’s LA Stories





Building Blocks

A truckload of Barry Bonds’ stuff is going up for sale, cheap. But it’s not baseball memorabilia.

The Giants’ slugger collected about $180,000 worth of building supplies, along with indoor and outdoor decorative design pieces left over from the renovation of his Los Angeles home. Then he put it in a truck and had it sent off to the Habitat for Humanity Home Improvement Store set to open Sept. 4 in Gardena.

The retail store sells everything from air conditioning units to garden supplies to antique cabinetry, much of which is donated by other retailers, contractors, individuals and charities. Prices are at least 50 percent below retail with all profits going to Habitat’s South Bay and Long Beach projects.

Another Habitat affiliate opened the group’s first Los Angeles-area store in Pasadena last year.

Erin Rank, president and chief executive of Habitat for Humanity South Bay-Long Beach, said her affiliate plans to build 22 affordable homes this year with an annual budget of $6 million, coming from corporations, foundations and faith groups.

Matt Myerhoff

Wi-Fi World

Infonet Services Corp. announced recently that it’s flipped the switch on more than 12,000 “hot spots” which it claims gives it the world’s largest wireless, or Wi-Fi “footprint.”

The El Segundo company’s MobileXpress service allows people to use their wireless gear at 120 airports, thousands of hotels, restaurants and convention centers across the U.S. and in more than 20 countries.

MobileXpress has 1,200 corporate clients and it charges anywhere from a few dollars to $30 per hour to use the service, depending on the tools, applications used and level of security needed.

Steve Silkin

Liquid Views

Could looking through water be the future of better vision? It’s no optical illusion, according to researchers at Caltech.

The California Institute of Technology recently received $8 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for a four-year basic research program for use of water-equipped optical devices. To conduct the research, Caltech is opening the Center for Optofluidic Integration.

Scientists from Caltech, Harvard and UC San Diego will spearhead the new research.

“We can flow tiny amounts of fluids through channels on a chip to help us in building optical devices that are very adaptive, changeable and potentially at low prices,” said Changhuei Yang, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Caltech and a researcher at the new center.

Eyeglasses that can change optical properties could stem from the research, Yang said. Other possible products include lasers capable of adjusting wavelengths for greater power.

Kim Holmes




Mediterranean Mania

September is the month for the L.A. Greek Fest 2004 and the Feast of San Gennaro L.A.

The Greek Fest takes place at the Saint Sophia Cathedral in the city’s Latino-Byzantine quarter. The party starts on Sept. 10 with “Zorba Night.”

Another component of the event is “Conversations with the Ancients,” which offers a glimpse of Greek history and culture. In homage to the Latino contingent, the Greek Fest features “Margaritaville,” a section of the celebrations dedicated to South-of-the-Border fare and flair.

The Italian celebration, modeled after both the original in Sicily and its American cousin in Manhattan’s Little Italy. was launched by Jimmy Kimmel and his Italian-American pals, Doug DeLuca, Adam Carolla and Tommy Lasorda in 2002. The event took place in Hollywood its first two years but will move to the Grove next month, kicking off with a charity gala on Sept. 23 and continuing the 24th and 25th.

Steve Silkin

OUT OF THE PAST

1988: Oil From Water

‘Los Angeles voters have been blinded to right and wrong,” the Business Journal concluded in October of 1988. The evaluation was made in regard to the controversial Propositions O and P, which would decide the fate of proposed oil drilling in the Pacific Palisades by Occidental Petroleum Corp.

Occidental’s request was to allow “the establishment of three oil drilling districts comprising 594 acres, a single 155-foot oil derrick and up to 60 oil and natural gas wells.” But the Business Journal noted that such phrasing might make “a semi-informed voter more likely to mistakenly vote against his own wishes than an uninformed voter.”

After all, the deceptively named Los Angeles Public and Coastal Protection Committee was the sponsor of the pro-drilling measure P. And advertising failed to reveal that 90 percent of its funds came from Oxy.

In the end, lobbyists from the Sierra Club, Heal the Bay and the League of Conservation Voters convinced residents to vote against the drilling plans.

In 2000, however, the company went offshore by purchasing four man-made islands off of Long Beach Harbor. The oil-drilling islands have been developed “to look like resorts,” according to Occidental’s Web site.

“An elaborate irrigation system keeps more than 700 palm trees alive in the unusual island soil,” said Occidental. “Oil drilling derricks are soundproofed and camouflaged to resemble high-rise apartments. Abstract sculptures and waterfalls, some as high as 45 feet, are offset by attractive landscaping and colorful night lighting.”

By Rebekah Sanders

“Out of the Past” is published each week to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Business Journal.

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