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Friday, April 18, 2014

Looking for Something to Do? Free Events Aprll 19 to 24

Here are my top picks for events scheduled from Saturday, April 19, to Thursday, April 24.

All events are free, so take a look -- and don't you dare tell me there's nothing to do in Pasadena!

Saturday, April 19, at 2 p.m. is the opening reception for "Celebrating Women," a juried art exhibition of original art works at the historic Blinn House, sponsored by the California Art League and the Women's City Club of Pasadena.

Face painting, special treats and a visit from the Easter bunny are among the activities for children Saturday, April 19, from noon to 3 p.m. at Paseo Colorado.

How does one survive being held hostage by an orangutan? What is the proper way to drink cobra blood? Learn the answers to these questions and many more when Justin Rubin, who spent 16 months vagabonding across Asia, speaks Monday, April 21, at 7 p.m. at Distant Lands.

Jules Massenet's opera "Thaïs" is a romantic tragedy set in fourth century Alexandria and the the Egyptian desert. An L.A. Opera community educator will take you through the opera's timeless struggle between earthly desire and spiritual redemption that challenges the resolve of the monk Athanaël and the purity of heart of the courtesan Thaïs Monday, April 21, at 1 p.m. at the Pasadena Senior Center. You don't have to be a member to attend.

The Hubble Space Telescope has revolutionized our understanding of stars, galaxies and the nature of our vast universe. Dr. Alan Dressler, staff astronomer at The Carnegie Observatories, will present "Beyond Hubble: New Space Telescopes to Explore the Cosmos" Monday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. at A Noise Within as part of the observatories' 2014 Astronomy Lecture Series.

The Lancer Jazz Big Band will perform Tuesday, April 22, at noon on the west patio at PCC's Center for the Arts.

Pasadena Police Department's Curbside Coffee & Chat get-togethers are quite popular and take place at a different location each time. Chat it up with police officers and park safety specialists, connect with other Pasadenans and enjoy some refreshments Tuesday, April 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. at La Pintoresca Branch Library.  There's never an agenda or speech; discuss whatever you want with officers who will be happy to chat with you.

Pasadena Presbyterian Church presents Divan Consort for the popular Music at Noon concert series Wednesday, April 23, from 12:10 to 12:40 p.m.

This week's film in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Pasadena Central Library is the 1942 romantic comedy "The Palm Beach Story" starring Claudette Colbert and Joel McCrea Wednesday, April 23, at 1 p.m.

It's National Poetry Week! Budding teen poets and their families are invited to a Roaring '20s-themed open mic night at Pasadena Central Library Thursday, April 24, at 6 p.m. 

A filmed documentary interview with Wanda Coleman, unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles, will be screened Thursday. April 24, at 6:30 p.m. at Pasadena Central Library.

See the documentary film "MedoraThursday, April 24, at 7 p.m. at Crawford Family Forum about a down-but-not-out varsity basketball team whose struggles to compete parallel the small Indiana town's own fight for survival, then be part of the conversation with producer/director Davy Rothbart. 

Photo credits: Women's City Club, Pinterest, Geography Guide Maps, Metropolitan Opera, National Geographic, Pasadena City College, Divan Consort,     Greenbriar Picture Shows, Rollins College, Poetry Foundation, Medora Film, 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Looking for Something to Do? Free Events April 11 to 17

Here are my top picks for events scheduled from Friday, April 11, to Thursday, April 17.

All events are free, so take a look -- and don't you dare tell me there's nothing to do in Pasadena!

You don't have to be a member of the Pasadena Senior Center to see "Nebraska" (2013, R) there Friday, April 11, at 1 p.m. starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte.

Ground-breaking research at JPL has impacted everyday life on Earth and can be found everywhere from farms to hospitals to our very own homes. For example, complementary metal oxide silicon (CMOS) camera technology developed at JPL for remote sensing instruments is now in many digital and cell phone cameras worldwide. Join Indrani Graczyk, manager of commercial programs at JPL, for a discussion titled "For the Benefit of All Mankind Friday, April 11, at 7 p.m. in the Vosloh Forum (Building UU on this map) at Pasadena City College. 

Young musicians from schools and conservatories across the U.S. and abroad will perform for a distinguished panel of judges during the 64th annual Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition Saturday, April 12, beginning at 9 a.m. in Caltech's Ramo Auditorium.

Teens will enjoy an afternoon of anime and Japanese snacks Saturday, April 12, at 2 p.m. at Pasadena Central Library

Teens will learn how college scholarships work, who can get them and where to find them Saturday, April 12, at 2:30 p.m. at Hastings Branch Library

Do you know that members of the Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena get free music lessons? See them perform in recital there Monday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m.

If you own a small business or are thinking about starting one, meet with an expert business professional from the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) Tuesday, April 15. Appointments are required for these slots from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. 

Pasadena Presbyterian Church presents classical guitarist Michael Anthony Nigro for the popular Music at Noon concert series Wednesday, April 16, from 12:10 to 12:40 p.m.

See the 1941 film "The Lady Eve" starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda Wednesday, April 16, at 1 p.m. in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Pasadena Central Library.


In commemoration of National Garden Month, Pasadena's very first seed library will be launched Saturday, April 19, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Hill Avenue Branch Library. You'll learn how to check out seeds from the heirloom and open-pollinated collection, enjoy a fun film about the evolution of the seed library and enjoy healthy snacks. There will also be special seed crafts for kids. 

Photo credits:    Chamber Music America, California's Children, Telecomm CorridorWorld Cultures Austin and Rare Seeds

Monday, April 7, 2014

Citizens Police Academy Week 10 -- Patrol, HOPE Team, Reserves

The behaviors of Pasadena Police Department patrol officers are as far removed from the bumbling Keystone Cops as they can get, but it sure is fun to watch those silent film officers in action!

Last Thursday at our Citizens Police Academy class Lt. Vasken Gourdikian explained all the ins and outs of the Field Operations Division, which includes Patrol, K-9, HOPE Team and Park Safety. He was filling in for Commander Chris Russ, who oversees the division.

He explained that under the Police Department's One Officer, One Beat, One Year community policing model, each patrol officer is assigned a beat in a specific community service area for one year, then rotates to another one. This enables each officer to get to the know the neighborhoods and collaborate personally with residents and business owners to help solve issues.

He oversees officers in the Midtown service area. It's the smallest geographically, but don't be fooled: It's also the busiest because it includes Old Pasadena, the Playhouse District, South Lake and the Civic Center area.

In all the seven service areas combined, there are 82 patrol officers, two K-9 officers, two HOPE Team officers and five park safety officers.

Some officers, including K-9s, were at the National Night Out event I blogged about in 2010 when I was the Pasadena PIO. You can see that blog post here.

Lt. Gourdikian also spoke about other aspects of the Field Operations Division, including the Mobile Command Unit that can be at a crime scene or emergency incident in a flash and is used at regular Curbside Coffee and Chat events throughout Pasadena.

He introduced Officers Elgin Lee (left) and Domino Scott who work on the HOPE Team, which stands for Homeless Outreach and Psychiatric Evaluation.

Two registered nurses who specialize in psychiatric care work right along with them. Officer Lee has a master's degree in biology and Officer Scott has a master's in forensic psychology. She is also the negotiator during critical incidents that have a mental illness component.

They are the first responders to these types of incidents; patrol officers are the second responders.

After incidents, whether there has been a 5150 hold or not, Officers Scott and Lee and the RNs do follow-up checks to make sure the people are stable, taking medications, etc.

Passageways and Pacific Clinics are important partners in HOPE Team efforts, which also include working with homeless mentally ill people and providing leadership to the Pasadena Mental Health Advisory Committee.

Next we heard from Lt. Pete Hettema who spoke about reserve officers. He was a Pasadena reserve officer for 16 years while owning a business before joining the Pasadena Police Department as a sworn officer 22 years ago.

Reserve officers have varying levels of responsibility and the ability to wear Pasadena Police Department uniforms and carry firearms depending on the training and testing they have completed and the number of hours they have worked in the field with patrol officers.

They are volunteers, put in a minimum of 16 hours a month and get paid only for special duty such as working events at the Rose Bowl Stadium and working with the Old Pasadena detail.

Well, two more weeks to go at Citizens Police Academy and then we graduate. It has been such an interesting experience!

This coming Thursday we're going to the Pasadena Police Heliport to learn all about the Air Operations Division. I'll give you a full report.

In the meantime, here are all the Citizens Police Academy blog posts I've done to date.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Looking for Something to Do? Free Events April 4 to 10

Here are my top picks for events scheduled from Friday, April 4, to Thursday, April 10.

All events are free, so take a look -- and don't you dare tell me there's nothing to do in Pasadena!

You don't have to be a member of the Pasadena Senior Center to see the Academy Award-nominated film "American Hustle" (2013, R) there starring Christian Bale and Amy Adams Friday, April 4, at 1 p.m.

All the world's a stage... In celebration of William Shakespeare's 450th birthday, Impro Theatre will perform a brief playlet in the style of one of the bard's romantic comedies and then answer questions from the audience Friday, April 4, at 6 p.m. at Vroman's Bookstore.

Certified arborists from throughout the country will show off their tree-climbing techniques during the North American Tree Climbing Championship Saturday, April 5, at 8 a.m. at Brookside Park.

Safely dispose of old computers, keyboards, printers, scanners, fax machines, phones, TVs and other electronic equipment at the eWaste event Saturday, April 5, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Parking Lot I at Brookside Park. You can also bring old batteries (vehicle batteries will not be accepted).

Contestants ages 60 and up in elegant evening gowns will vie for the title of Ms. Senior Pasadena Saturday, April 5, at 11:30 a.m. at the Pasadena Senior Center. The winner and first runner-up will continue on to the Ms. Senior California Pageant this summer in hopes of eventually becoming Ms. Senior America.

Take an in-depth look at the influential pianist and bandleader Sun Ra Saturday, April 5, at 2 p.m. at Allendale Branch Library. Born in 1914, he was one of the great music innovators of the 20th century, famously combining bop, blues, big band and electronic sounds. Dr. Adilifu Nama, professor of African American Studies at Loyola Marymount University, will screen two films -- Space is the Place (1974) and Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise (1980) -- and discuss Sun Ra's influence.

This is National Public Health Week! Drop by the Pasadena Public Health Department's "Spring Into Health" Fair Wednesday, April 9, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for free health screenings and resource information.  

British-born actress and writer Diz White went on a roller-coaster quest to buy a 17th century cottage in Cotswolds as she scrambled between Hollywood and Gloucestershire. She'll share her story and show slides and video clips of the scenic, historic region Monday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m. at Distant Lands.

Is Earth the only planet of its kind in the universe? The search for life within and beyond our solar system is one of today's most exciting directions in astronomy. Dr. Linda Elkins-Tanton, director of the Carnegie Institution for Science Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, will present "Making Earth-like Planets: Five Great Mysteries" Monday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m. at A Noise Within, kicking off Carnegie Observatories' 2014 Astronomy Lecture Series.

Owners and managers of small businesses are encouraged to attend the next workshop in the Art of Small Business Survival series titled "Customer Service Is Not a Department -- It's an Attitude" Tuesday, April 8, from 8 to 10 a.m. Register here.

Pasadena Presbyterian Church presents the Zhena Folk Chorus with songs from central and eastern Europe for the popular Music at Noon concert series Wednesday, April 9, from 12:10 to 12:40 p.m.

If you want to improve your conversational Spanish without a lot of boring classes and labs, drop by the Spanish Conversation Group Thursday, April 10, at 1 p.m. at San Rafael Branch Library. Whether you're a new Spanish learner or want to brush up on what you learned in high school, you'll enjoy this casual setting with lots of speaking practice with moderator Dr. Jose Recio standing by. This group takes place every Thursday at 1 p.m.

Tours of Tournament House are back! Take a tour Thursday, April 10, at 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. Owned by the City of Pasadena, the former Wrigley Estate is home to the Tournament of Roses Association. A docent will lead you through the 18,500-square-foot Italian Renaissance mansion built in 1906. In addition to 21 magnificent rooms, you'll see displays related to Rose Bowl Games, Rose Queens and their courts and plenty of historic memorabilia, from football trophies to tiaras. Then visit the adjacent Wrigley Gardens with 1,500 varieties of roses. Tours take place every Thursday through Aug. 28.


We're living longer and staying more active than ever before in history. Hey, 60 is the new 45! The Pasadena Conference on Aging Saturday, April 26, from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. will feature comedian/weathercaster Fritz Coleman as the keynote speaker ("Laughter is the Best Medicine") and workshops cover topics from romance after 50 to putting osteoporosis pain in its place. You can make the most of on-site tai chi, chair aerobics, Cane Fu, Zumba Gold and pickleball and an array of health screenings from blood pressure to cholesterol will be available on the Walgreens Wellness Bus. There's no cost to attend, but registration is required. Complimentary valet parking, continental breakfast and full lunch are included with registration.

Citizens Police Academy Week Nine -- Forensics and Traffic

I laughed all the way through this compilation of sunglasses moments with the CSI Miami character Horatio Caine played by David Caruso!

The crime scene investigations you see on CSI and other similar programs are 90 percent Hollywood and 10 percent realistic.

For one thing, real forensics professionals don't wear designer suits and skimpy dresses to crime scenes, nor do they drive hummers as seen on TV (I'd love to see the municipal budget that could justify that expense!)

Alex Padilla and Christina Fish (inset), who work in the Forensics Section of the Pasadena Police Department's Detectives Division, came to our Citizens Police Academy class last Thursday.

They explained to us that another big distinction between CSI-type TV shows and the real world is that forensics professionals handle much more than homicides. They gather and process crime scene evidence related to everything from burglaries to car break-ins to domestic violence cases.

Most forensics professionals everywhere are non-sworn. They collect DNA from weapons, determine ballistics angles, gather and process blood evidence, lift shoe and tire impressions, dust for fingerprints, handle fingerprint matching, create crime scene diagrams, write detailed reports, testify in court and much, much more.

By the way, matching fingerprints through a database takes way longer than the 10 seconds or so that you see on those TV shows; the reality is that it takes at least two days with required cross-checks by three other professionals. 

The Pasadena Police Department has an opening for a crime analyst if you know of somebody who's qualified.

Last week our class also learned all about the PD's Traffic Section from Officers Tony Carg (left) and Phil Klotz. 

They ride police motorcycles. When they were first introduced they were greeted by good-natured boos from the class; by the time they left, there was unanimous applause.

Their purpose on Pasadena streets is not just to penalize speeders, it's to change behaviors. Do you know that more people are killed in vehicle-related accidents in Pasadena than any other violence? 

Unsafe speed is the #1 cause of fatal collisions, and about half of those are alcohol related. That's why the Pasadena Police Department conducts DUI checkpoints from time to time. 

With 290 signalized intersections in town and a daily visiting workforce of 80,000 to 100,000 drivers adding to the regular local traffic, Carg and Klotz have a tremendous responsibility.

Texting and other distractions also cause accidents. I was rear-ended a couple of years ago at a stoplight at Lake and Walnut by a young woman who was texting instead of watching the road.

The PD is cracking down on this as well.

Pasadena's 12 motor officers train regularly and host competitions, called motorcycle rodeos, for other police agencies near the Rose Bowl Stadium. The next one, which is free and open to the public, is Thursday, June 5.

And of course they ride their rose-bedecked motorcycles in the annual Rose Parade.

This was such an informative class. Three more and then we graduate!

I shot the Citizens Police Academy photos; many thanks to the City of Pasadena, Pasadena Patch and for the others.