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Another Good Reason to Take Public Transportation: Free Wi-Fi

May 7, 2007 in Uncategorized

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I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley. I’ve entertained the idea of moving back, but always nixed it quickly once I considered the commute to Westwood where I go to school and work. Who knows. That could change in the future, especially since public transportation from the SGV to downtown LA (I’d still have to take the MTA’s 2 line to Westwood) looks more attractive.

Foothill Transit — which serves the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys — recently launched Silver Streak, a 60′ bus with three doors. The buses utilize the lines which travel along the 10 freeway from Montclair to Downtown Los Angeles. The buses may be nicer, but they’re also equipped with wi-fi. From Parvus’ press release:

Parvus Corporation today announced that Foothill Transit’s newly launched Silver Streak rapid transit service is now equipped with Parvus’ RiderNet‚Ñ¢ passenger Internet access solution. Running from Montclair to Los Angeles in Southern California, Silver Streak’s state-of-the-art 60′ articulated buses provide high-speed 802.11 Wi-Fi‚Ñ¢ service free of charge to customers while they travel to their destination.

Hmmm. If I could be online while commuting, my posts here would probably be less sporadic and I’d get back to people who emailed me much sooner. Oh yeah, and I’d probably do less recreational internet browsing while at work. Maybe a move back to the SGV might be a good idea.

College admission season, UCLA admits more African American students

April 5, 2007 in Education

bearstatue.jpg For working adults, April is tax season. For high school seniors, April is college decision season.

By now, most seniors who applied to colleges and universities nationwide have received thick and thin envelopes from their “safeties” and dream schools. One of those kids is Diego, a 17-year-old senior from Southgate. He has the unenviable task of deciding between Ivy League universities and the best California has to offer. And money is not an issue since he just was awarded the coveted Gates Millennium Scholarship. Hmmm… mild winters or freezing winters?

When it comes to admissions, we focus most on the competitive, highly selective schools. One of those is UCLA. In the past year, many have decried the diversity crisis at UCLA where 103 African American students enrolled in a freshman class of approximately 4,800 students. As a result of pressure from alumni, community groups and student groups, UCLA implemented a holistic admissions process in line with UC Berkeley’s model.

The university announced in September that it was making a major shift in the way it accepted freshmen, switching to a more “holistic” approach in which all available information about a student could be considered at the same time by admissions readers. Previously, UCLA applicants’ files were divided by academic and personal areas and read by separate reviewers.

UCLA officials said the change, which takes effect for the fall entering class, would be fairer to all applicants, helping readers see them and their achievements in context. And it would make admission to UCLA more like that of other elite schools, including UC Berkeley and much of the Ivy League. (link to LA Times story on the process)

Seems like the holistic process was a good way to go. The “numbers” for freshman fall 2007 admits are out (link to UCLA press release) and they’re better than last year since more African American and Chicano/Latino students were admitted. Now, UCLA has to focus on recruiting those who were admitted through admit days in the next few weeks. Hopefully, UCLA’s loss against Florida won’t affect their decision.

To any high school seniors trying to make decisions before the May 1st deadline, good luck! I’m sure your decision isn’t as tough as Diego’s decision.

Admission figures after the jump.
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Have a taco and celebrate

March 31, 2007 in Food & Drink

tacos.jpg Mexico’s celebrating it’s newest holiday today, D√≠a del Taco (website in Spanish only) today. In Mexico City, they’ve converted the Azteca Stadium in to a giant taquer√≠a and will have a big concert to celebrate.

I found out about the holiday when I asked a cousin visiting from Mexico what she’d be doing for the weekend. She told me she’d be celebrating our aunt’s birthday and D√≠a del Taco today.

So, get a jump on celebrating Mexican holidays in April. Go to your nearest taquer√≠a and have a taco or dos or tres… If you don’t know where to find good tacos yet, visit Taco Hunt.

Photo by Alexander H.M. Cascone

More fee increases for UC, CSU students

March 15, 2007 in Education

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In January I attended a meeting of the University of California Board of Regents at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus. I talked to any regent who would listen about the hardships brought on by the constant fee (or tuition) increases. Since 2002, fees have increased 79% for undergraduates, 84% for graduate students (that’s me!) and up to 131% for professional students. I talked to a few regents, but those were the ones who are allies for students. Most don’t seem to get it. Would you consider $400-500 more a year that big a deal when you travel on your personal jet* to the board meetings?

Yesterday at UCLA, the regents voted 13-6 to tentatively increase fees by 7% for graduate and professional students and 10% for UC law and business students (link to LA Times story).
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Top L.A. Legends #15: Turnbull Canyon is used for Satanic rituals, including human sacrifices

March 7, 2007 in History

There’s no shortage of rumors about Turnbull Canyon, a hilly area sandwiched between the suburbs of Whittier and Hacienda Heights. Despite all the rumors, there’s little evidence to support them. The most prominent rumor are that the area is used for Satanic rituals (including human sacrifice) and KKK meetings.

There’s even one guy/girl out there who wrote a supposedly well-researched screed (without any citations!) on the history of the area dating back to before the arrival of the Spanish.

Turnbull Canyon was regarded as a sacred land by the natives. It was an area known as “Hutukngna”, a term that means the “night” or “the dark place,” “the place of the devil.” It was this area that was also used as the battlegrounds for many Native American wars.

The author of the “history” of Turnbull Canyon writes that once the Spaniards arrived, they slaughtered many of the indigenous people in the area. Later, large area of land in the San Gabriel Valley were disputed between John Rowland and William Workman. When Workman lost most of his land after the US-Mexico war he committed suicide.
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La Cucaracha ya no puede caminar in the LA Times

March 5, 2007 in Media

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Updated 3/6: The LA Times relented and La Cucaracha will be back starting Wednesday March 7th. See extended entry for more.

Lalo Alacaraz is mad. His strip, La Cucaracha was cut from the LA Times “without so much as an explanation.” Gustavo Arellano has his back and is raising a well-deserved stink at the OC Weekly Blotter. Arellano notes that keeping La Cucaracha should be more than about meeting a quota in the comics section.

But fuck affirmative action: the strip is funny (we’ll never forget the one or two strips dealing with Paris Hilton’s Mexican relative, Fresno). What’s more boggling is that the Times deported Lalo while keeping creaking gabacho favorites like Crankshaft and Rex Morgan, MD and unfunny tripe like Dennis the Menace and that weird one with the kid that doesn’t talk.

Kevin Roderick at LA Observed notes the irony of the Times cutting La Cucaracha in light of the papers’ most recent strategy to attract more Latino readers (more on the Times’ historical relationship with Latinos by Daniel Hernandez link. Roderick also notes some other changes to the comics pages. The Times also cut Mallard Fillmore, Candorville and Mr. Boffo.
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Punk Rock Professor

March 1, 2007 in Education

Last fall, my department managed to woo some high profile professors to UCLA. The recently married professors brought with them lots of funding, prestige and the Harvard Civil Rights project. My peers were excited. These professors were “rock stars” in the field of educational research. They may have the status in academia, but outside of the “ivy-covered walls”, few know their names.

That’s not the case with Greg Graffin currently teaching Life Sciences 1 (evolution, ecology & biodiversity) to a few hundred freshman and sophomores at UCLA this quarter. Graffin fronts Bad Religion and has been balancing science and music for many years. The Daily Bruin profiled him today:

Listen in on one of Greg Graffin’s lectures and you’ll encounter an eloquent, soft-spoken man. The life science professor might even crack a joke here or there, keeping his audience captivated as he delves into the mysteries of evolution, ecology and the diversity of life.

It’s hard to believe that this same man fronts Bad Religion, the band widely known as the “Godfathers of Punk.”

“I get a lot less sleep than most people,” Graffin said. “Of course, there are a lot of people – researchers on campus, who are living in their labs and accomplishing a great deal, and doctors who are always on call – these are people just as productive as me, except my other half of productivity goes into music and songwriting.”

The UCLA graduate decided to return to his alma mater to teach Life Science 1 while recording the as-yet-untitled 14th album with his band. (link)

Photo by Dead End Girl.

PSA for students: fill out your FAFSA before March 2

February 28, 2007 in Education

scibldg.jpg LA is home to lots of full and part time students. We have a vast community college system, a few public four-year institutions and a few more private universities. One thing those students have in common is that many, if not most, rely on financial aid to help cover the rising costs of paying for tuition, books and other expenses.

March 2nd is the deadline in to apply for initial awards in California by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

March 2nd is the most important date to remember. This is the deadline for the Cal Grant Entitlement and Competitive programs. In order to qualify for the Cal Grant A & B Entitlement Awards, Cal Grant A & B Competitive, and the Cal Grant C you must have your FAFSA and the GPA Verification form (with school certification) postmarked no later than March 2nd (link).

However, students attending community colleges have until September 2nd to submit applications to get the Community College Cal Grant Award.

Tell your friends, little sister/brother or neighbors!

Universal Studios likes Mexicans, or at least their names

February 20, 2007 in Uncategorized

migramouse.jpg In the 1994 statewide election, Disney donated to the re-elect Pete Wilson campaign. That made a lot of Chicano and Latino activists very upset considering Pete Wilson’s ardent support for Proposition 187, a measure that denied undocumented immigrants access to health care and education. As a result of the support Disney offered to Wilson, activists decided to boycott Disney. I didn’t know much about the boycott until I got to college and found old Migra Mouse posters. I don’t think the boycott ever caught on. You may be able to make Mexicans stop buying grapes, but stop buying Disney products? Nope. Mexicans love Disneyland (and they say we don’t assimilate).

Did other theme parks jump on the anti-immigrant bandwagon? I’m not sure. However, 13 years later amidst talks of 700-mile border walls and comprehensive immigration reform it seems as if another LA-area theme park has got it right.

[More on Universal Studios' efforts to accomodate Spanish speaking visitors and their dollars after the jump.]
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T√≠a Chucha’s Cafe Cultural closing

February 19, 2007 in Events

tia%20cropped.jpg On Saturday, T√≠a Chucha’s Cafe Cultural held a five-year anniversary party and fundraiser. Saturday’s benefit was also the last public event in Sylmar space. T√≠a Chucha’s will be closing its doors at the end of the month. According to co-founder, Luis J. Rodriguez, the vibrant space “where books, ideas, dialogues, music, art, writing, dance, indigenous traditions & thought are alive and thriving for everyone” will become a laundromat (link). Fortunately, T√≠a Chucha’s will not be permanently closing and will re-open at a temporary location 10 minutes away in the Northeast Valley at 10258 Foothill Blvd., Lake View Terrace, CA 91342.
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Fast food robberies

February 8, 2007 in Crime

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A Jack-in-the-Box and McDonalds were held up in South LA and Downey, respectively, today. According to the LA Times the robbers who held up the Jack-in-the-Box in South LA were connected to the armed robbery of a McDonald’s on Firestone Boulevard in Downey. Fortunately, no one was injured and we were all given one more good reason to stay away from fast food. Besides, everyone knows you only go to Jack-in-the-Box late at night when you’ve imbibed and/or smoked a little too much. It might even be safer that way.

Minuteman appearance at UCLA cancelled

February 6, 2007 in Politics

The California state director of the Minutemen (or Minutemensos) Civil Defense Corp, Carl Braun, was scheduled to speak at UCLA this evening, but the event was eventually cancelled. Braun was invited by members of a student group, LOGIC (Liberty Objectivity Greed Indiviudalism Capitalism), to debate a member of the Ayn Rand Institute on the issue of immigration.

Needless to say, pro-immigration students weren’t too happy when they heard the news and saw the Facebook announcements. From their point of view, the Minutemen are vigilantes promoting a racist agenda. A flier for the protest called on students, professors and community members to “say no to hate” and featured an image of skinheads carrying Nazi and Confederate flags.

Over the weekend, Chicano and Latino student groups spread the word via e-mail, Facebook and MySpace announcements. They planned a protest objecting Braun’s appearance and what they called “hate speech.”

I’m not much of a fan of the Minutemen either, and decided to join the protest. I showed up around 6:30 to find classmates and a bunch of other students gathered outside of Moore Hall. A sign announced that the event had been cancelled and one of the student leaders mentioned that LOGIC cancelled because they could not cover security cost. They saw the cancellation as a victory, but the view from LOGIC was different.

Arthur Lechtholz-Zey of LOGIC blamed UCLA, “if UCLA truly cared about intellectual discourse, about the free expression of ideas, about scholarly debate, they would have made an effort to make the event move forward. Instead, they put up obstacle after obstacle” (LOGIC’s explanation).

Even though the immigration debate was cancelled, pro-immigration students still gathered and spoke out against their opponents. About 250 students and community members (including high school students and members of the Brown Berets attended.

ICE Raids in Southern California

January 24, 2007 in Politics

While the President’s plan for comprehensive immigration reform calls for (among other things) a proposal that will include regularizing the status of undocumented immigrants currently in the US “without animosity and without amnesty”, it seems like ICE was thinking of something different this weekend.

In the past week, ICE officials knocked on doors throughout Southern California looking for men and women who had ignored voluntary deportation proceedings and criminals who re-entered after being deported for crimes.

Those arrested were from 14 countries, including Mexico, Honduras, Ukraine, India, Japan, Poland, and Trinidad. Of the 761 people arrested, more than 450 have already been deported, Kice said today. LA Times.

I found the LA Times story on the raids interesting and enlightening when it comes to the debate on undocumented immigration. It leads and ends with stories about men in Santa Ana, home to many Mexican immigrants, convicted of DUI and rape. From that story, it would seem as if LA was swarming with undocumented immigrant criminals. While I don’t have much sympathy against violent criminals, I know that the majority of immigrants are not criminals, but saying someone just wanted to stay in the country to work probably won’t seel as many newspapers as talking about the rapist and 6 men in one house.
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Open letter to Fox Sports

January 4, 2007 in Sports

Dear Fox Sports,

Thank you for reversing your decision not to televise the UCLA-Oregon State basketball game tonight.

As a fan of the #1 Bruins (13-0), I’m thankful that I can now watch the game on FSN Prime Ticket and will not have to sit with my ear glued to a static-y AM radio station just to follow the action in Corvallis. I know it’ll be expensive to change plans at the last minute, but we appreciate it.

Thanks,
Cindy
UCLA student (and alumna)

Too Many Tamales

December 24, 2006 in Uncategorized

Around this time of year, I get sick of tamales. I’m not the only one either. My siblings get tired of hearing “tamales” every time we ask “what’s for breakfast?” (or lunch or dinner). Yes, there is such a thing as too many tamales… and I’m not referring to the Gary Soto kids book of the same title.

tamalada.jpg My family, like many other Mexican families makes tons of tamales. Well, not tons, but 20 pounds of masa (the cornmeal mix) worth. My mother, grandmother and another aunt got together on Thursday to make 200 tamales to feed about several families. The “tamalada” is a big production much like the Carmen Lomas Garza painting of the same name. The kids are charged with cleaning the “hojas” (cornhusk leaves). My grandmother was always the one making the meat and chile stuffing and then adding that stuffing to the tamales before folding them and stacking them like bricks in a giant pot. The other women, my mom and aunts, spread the masa all over the hojas.

Once all the mess of the tamalada is cleaned up and every aunt gets her share of tamales, my family is left with several dozen sweet, red chile and pork, and cheese and chile tamales waiting to be gobbled up as soon as they’re ready and we run out right around Three Kings Day.

¬°Feliz Navidad!