[LA Life] Enjoy an Intellectual Double Date with the Natural History Museum and California Science Center

Living in Los Angeles for the past eight years, you could say that I’m a bit spoiled from a cultural perspective – but to be honest, I really wouldn’t have it any other way.  This city eats, sleeps, breathes and oozes keen artistic history and introspection, with interest piqued around each and every corner.  No matter your age, or the last time you went, museums have the innate ability to inspire a sense of childlike wonder and amazement to come out and play.  From Contemporary Art to Modern Art, archaeology and cultural history – museums provide a birds eye view into the beauty of the past and an intelligent projection of the future. Plainly put – a day wasted at the museum is simply never a waste.  

Most museums in the area are essentially one stop shops – The Broad sits downtown and houses contemporary art, the Getty and Getty Villa are vast and stunning anthologies of history – but sit alone and secluded; but then there’s Museum Row in West Hollywood and the library of museums at Exposition Park, each home to several stunning venues of nuanced interest.  Museum Row plays host to the LACMA, the Tar Pits and it’s museum as well as the Craft Art Museum and Peterson Automotive Museum while Exposition Park houses the Natural History Museum, California Science Center, USC Fisher Museum of Art and the California African American Museum. Since I used to live near the Tar Pits, I’m a bit biased – and some could argue spoiled – so an adventure West didn’t really strike my fancy; but a double date with the Natural History Museum and the California Science Center? Sign this kitten up for a dichotomous day-adventure, stat!

Exposition Park sits in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, and is surrounded by the University of Southern California.  My friends and I know the area best for the incredible music concerts, Massives and raves held at LA Memorial Colosseum over the last decade like Electric Daisy Carnival, Camp Flog Gnaw, How Sweet It Is, Nocturnal Wonderland and so many more.  I don’t know whats more grown up than getting your knowledge on in the same place you got your PLUR on, so two points for us – at least. Spanning 160 acres, Exposition Park evolved from privately owned fairgrounds and a racetrack into a cultural center for young Los Angeles at the turn of the last century.

First things first, let’s talk some pro tips. The directions might tell you to enter the parking lot at Expo Park via Exposition, save yourself a headache and come in on Vermont with some cash, parking is $12 and they don’t accept credit cards. When visiting the Natural History Museum – save yourself some time by purchasing the tickets online; you can even do it while you’re waiting to get in.

World’s Largest Ammonite

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not much for artistic museums, less the Getty Villa and some incredible architecture; but historical fossils and technological progress always find a way to pull at my heart strings. Hands down, my favorite part of the NHM is the Gem and Mineral Hall. Each corner of the room sparkles with a technicolor glow with vibrant greens and blues which don’t make sense as minerals, iridescent shimmers and even some stones from outer space.  Indoors you can wander and wonder through the Dinosaur Hall, American Mammal Hall, African Mammal Hall, Marsh environment and Insect and Bird exhibits.  If you take the adventure into the great outdoors, you’ll get a prime view of Expo Park’s esteemed Rose Garden (more on that later!), the edible garden and a pollinators garden; easily one of the most tranquil areas on the grounds.  In about three hours, we managed to meander through the entire breadth of the Natural History Museum, leaving no stone unturned (pun, slightly intended) – and with the perfect amount of time to visit our second stop!

The California Science Center is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Natural History Museum – providing a wonderful contrast to the artifacts that you were just musing over. Olus, it’s free to get in and explore – while certain flight simulators and IMAX movies will cost ya between $5 and $12..  There are ample learning centers around the building, but before I get into that: there are also a good amount of food options to choose from! Though the NHMLA does have a quick service deli and sit down restaurant on their bottom floor, their food was no match for the Science Center’s food court.  But, let’s get beyond our stomachs. The Cal Science Center eagerly explores global ecosystems and gets in a fair share of hands on learning.   Stand in the splash zone or explore tide pools, stand in the middle of a hurricane, play with sound waves and wrap your head around the capsules that we sent humans to space in for days at a time (they’re tiny!).All the museums in the area open at 10 in the morning and close at 5pm,  but it’s no reason to leave straight away.  Take a stroll through the historic Expo Park Rose Garden and stay for sunset, you can thank me later.

For more on the Natural History Museum Los Angeles, the California Science Center and the Exposition Park Rose Garden – check out their social channels.

Natural History Museum: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

California Science CenterWebsite | Facebook | Twitter 


[Traveling Tales] Marinating In Minerals at Tucson’s Famed Gem Show

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“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Augustine of Hippo

There’s no doubt about it, music is my catharsis – catalyzing an emotional exploration of my ego while I put my psyche to rest; salaciously permitting me to adventure inside myself, a sort of mental manifest destiny if you will. In that sense, traveling might as well be musics equal and opposite, passionately pursing novel locations and external adventures at every turn.  Even though festivals are the primary ‘why‘ to my ‘where‘ of recent road trips, it doesn’t take much of a rhyme or reason to figure out that there’s so much else to do beyond  the music. On our way to Red Rocks, we made some beautiful and necessary detours through Zion and Bryce; while chugging along to Shambhala, we had the chance to take a gander at the amazingly lush topology of Oregon and Washington (well, until you reach the Washington Desert – which is definitely a real thing). Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

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Before Danny and I departed for Tucson, my dad doted a bit of fatherly advice for the trip and doled out some great sight seeing destinations – including the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Mt. Lemmon, the Tucson Botanical Gardens and the Saguro National Park.  All amazing suggestions and but as it turns out, absolutely none of these were actually in that close of a proximity that we could pop over and back to Gem and Jam in the span of a day; meaning we humorously tackled absolutely none of these.  However, one thing we did get to experience was the internationally acclaimed Tucson Gem Show.  Drawing in over 50,000 personalities from across the globe – The Gem Show is the premiere destination for gem, mineral, crystal and fossil lovers alike.  For about an entire month, hotels are essentially turned into giant warehouses – with each room playing host to a different pop up shop.  From Africa to Israel, India to China, Alaska to California – you could seriously get your rocks off a thousand ways to Sunday – and for those of you that think I’m exaggerating, trust me – if anything, I’m actually understating how many vendors and locations there are!

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)Starting at the end of January and running through February, for three weeks a year – Tucson is transformed into the largest Gem and Mineral show in the United States, while eager observers become transfixed on the glistening, gleaming and gorgeous gems that it has to offer.  Between ornate Quartz Skulls, towering fossil reliefs, gorgeous – and gigantic geodes – and magnificent pieces of Carborundum, Malachite and Azurite – we were whimsically wowed and humbled to gallivant throughout a few key hotels. In the last few months, my interest in gems and minerals has piqued – leading to extensive scavenging on ETSY, plus some good ol’ research and homework to truly understand what I’m looking at. Between their chemical composition, geometric patterns, crystalline building blocks, and rainbow array of colors -they’re a number nerds dream dipped in science and beauty. Instead of paying full value, we paid discounted, warehouse prices and for good reason – this is where ETSY shops come to stock up!

Though the Tucson show is in it’s last leg, you don’t need to fret if you missed out – as it turns out, there are a considerable amount of traveling gem shows and chances are they’ll be coming to a city near you! Just in Southern California, The Gem Faire will be cruising the coast – starting in Santa Barbara from 2/20-22, heading to to Costa Mesa the following weekend, then Del Mar and finally the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Northern California from 3/13-15.  If you’re not keen on traveling but you’re located in the Los Angeles area, the Natural History Museum downtown is home to a vast collection of Gems and Minerals, held in a stunning exhibition hall.

Perhaps time’s definition of coal is the diamond.  

Kahlil Gibran

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Made with Repix (http://repix.it)


Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)


Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

[Wednesday Watercooler]

If time stood still for Lightning in a Bottle, then it’s been going at Warp Speed ever since – there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, days in the week and weeks in the month to accomplish everything I want! There are lists upon lists of things to accomplish, meals to cook and conquer, hikes to go on, museum exhibits to attend, festivals to cover and friends to hang out with – and then there are all the things I wind up doing instead of making plans; isn’t that life, though?I’ve been a little – well – spread thin as of late; with great power, comes great responsibility.  First, thanks to the fact I’m on Best Buy – my role within the Disney organization has been kicked up a bit;there’s simply more visibility from the EVP’s on down. Not that I’m complaining – it’s just become more imperative that I stay the course, finish deadlines with a healthy time cushion so I can double check my work and it requires me to be a ‘self starter’. Knowing how big of a procrastinator I used to be, I guarantee it’s something my parents probably laugh at every now and again.  And then, there’s my work for The DJ List.  A year and a half ago, I was a lowly editor – and now, I’m a Senior Editor, Senior Publicist, PR Specialist and the 3rd from the top.  Not to toot my own horn, but 100 articles, 2 major festivals and 10 shows later – it feels like I’ve gone from having a hand in the cookie jar to a foot in the door; and I can’t even explain how blessed it makes me feel.  So, juggling two jobs, a relationship, cats and friends – it’s pretty simple to see that life is what happens when I’m busy making other plans, and I’m so very okay with that.   The great news – which I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, is that it’s hump day (finally!). What better way to get over the Wednesday hump than some awesome watercooler talking points; so, without further ado – let’s get down to business!

The Garden Grows Up

The ‘Vertical Farming Initiative’ is headed by Dr. Despommier – a professor at Columbia University in Public Health and Environmental Science, and why this hasn’t been considered before is almost beyond me; especially in high rise cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai. It purports that there’s a large amount of untapped resources and open space at our disposal that gets gregarious amounts of light, enough light to house a variety of herbs and plants – enough to ensure communities don’t go hungry. And similar to a tree, the structure also gets it’s energy from the sun; the sun’s rays are stored in Photovoltaic cells and used at night time for heat as well as light.


A/S/L/OS? The First Supercomputer Passes the Turing Test

Though it’s considered an incredibly remedial, outdated test from over 60 years ago – the Turing Test, created by Alan Turing, was developed in 1950 as a mechanism to quantify a computer’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour at par with human intelligence.  While it’s debatable just how valid this test even is, and how intelligent this new ‘Super Computer’ is that actually only tricked 33% of participants into thinking it’s a 13 year old boy, the long and short of it is that we’re still in the process of developing automated computers that contain learning algorithms; and the future we’re building is drawing more parallel’s from ‘The Island’, ‘Terminator’ and Isaac Asimov’s ‘iRobot’.  This computer, eh – least of our worries; but the fact that we’re putting weight into this technology isn’t something to scoff at, or glaze over.  We’re at an era of greatness in science and technology, but my fear is that by pushing for Artificial Intelligence – we’re refusing responsibility for community and social intelligence, and it could be the disintegration of society as we know it.  But, for now, that’s just my opinion, man. 

Featured Image for Is that a nebula trapped inside a gemstone?

Is that a Nebula in your gem – or are you just happy to see me?

I’m not usually one to go gaga over geological formations – but the second I laid my eyes on this Contraluz Opal, I was in lust.  Discovered up in Opal Butte, Oregon – this stunning stone is going for a pretty penny (20,000,000 of them to be exact).  Sold last may through the Bonhams aution house, the piece has a ‘botryoidal jasper formation which forms a unique inclusion’.  I’m still not exactly sure what this means, except that I want it.

The Vindication of the Valley Girls

I’m a writer – and the great thing about writing, is you have the entire breadth of the English language at your disposal to play with, manipulate and use as you see fit; if I don’t like the way a word works out, I can rearrange my sentence or find a suitable substitute.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t translate into speaking prowess very easily – I used to slip a ‘like’ every now and again, but over time and some speech classes, I’ve substituted the ‘like’ for an ‘um’ or solid pause to collect my thoughts and get to the point of what I was actually trying to say.  Well, thanks to a study released today – it sounds like the world’s been stigmatizing us all wrong. Yeaaahhhh; way harsh, Tai!

While slipping more “likes” into your daily vocabulary is not going to make you a more conscientious person, the study suggests that the word and those who use it may have been unfairly maligned. Though filler words are often considered hallmarks of vapidity, they could actually signal a speaker taking the time to listen and respond deliberately. Rather than blurting out whatever is on their mind, they’re trying to find the right word or analogy.

Last but not least, the folks at Lightning in a Bottle have thrown together quite the recap video from the other weekend and in the best way, it makes me incredibly home sick.  Take a gander for a menagerie of the magic, mayhem and memories that was LIB’14