Archive for February, 2010

Santa Clarita, 1986

February 16, 2010

There are many, many ways that Santa Clarita has changed since my family moved here at the end of 1986. The following list illustrates just how much things have changed in the last 26 years, and these are just a handful of the changes:

Magic Mountain - Santa Clarita, CaliforniaSix Flags Magic Mountain

  • There were only two rollercoasters that went upside-down: Shockwave, a stand-up rollercoaster, and Revolution.  The latter is still around, yet quite modest compared to Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom, which opened to the public on July 7, 2012.
  • Six Flags divided the park into “areas”: Area 1 (Revolution), Area 2 (Bugs Bunny World), etc..
  • They hosted hip hop and R&B concerts there briefly with acts such as Paperboy and TLC.
  • Hurricane Harbor would arrive nine years later.

Around town

  • The west terminus of Newhall Ranch Road connected to Avenue Scott, next to the old Daily News building.
  • Rye Canyon Road was a cul-de-sac, ending in front of HR Textron (now Woodward HRT).
  • Copper Hill Drive ended at McBean Parkway.
  • The Old Road was discontinuous at its south end, turning into Valencia Blvd. and restarting at Pico Canyon Road.
  • Stevenson Ranch did not exist and the land to the west of the freeway was mostly farmland.  I would see the cows grazing next to the southbound 5 freeway between Valencia Blvd. and McBean Parkway on my way to church.
  • At the intersection of McBean Parkway and Bouquet Canyon Road, the sole commercial area was Bouquet Center in the northeast corner across the street from the present-day Burger King and Best Buy.
  • By the way, Newhall Ranch Road ended just after that shopping center.
  • K-Mart was the sole department store.  Target arrived a year later in 1987.
  • The southbound Lyons Ave. exit was to the left of Carl’s Jr., not to the right as it is now, and it was without a traffic light.
  • If you stood at where Target would be built on Magic Mountain Parkway, you could see clear across the undeveloped land where the Westfield Valencia is now.
  • There were no Starbucks(!).
  • The computer monitors at Valencia Public Library displayed information in orange.
  • The traffic lights at the intersection of Soledad Canyon and Rainbow Glen Drives were not yet turned on.
  • People going to the swap meet at Saugus Speedway used to park on Soledad Canyon.
  • The south terminus of Whites Canyon Road was next to Ralph’s.  Yes, another cul-de-sac.
  • The father of my elementary school classmate owned a lot of the land around Newhall Ranch Road, McBean Parkway, and Decoro Drive.  Chesebrough County Park is named after him.
  • The bowling alley, Newhall Bowl, occupied what is now Valencia Lanes.  The theater next door used to show movies weeks into their run.  50’s Cafe occupied what is now Lily’s Cafe.

What other changes have you seen around Santa Clarita? Post them in the comments below.

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Francis M. Unson

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Flores Hardwood Floors

February 12, 2010

Please retweetLike most industries, the flooring industry was hit hard by the economic slowdown of 2009.  Industry leaders have fought hard to navigate the economic storms and industry crises that have befallen the industry.  The president of Floorcovering News, aware of the uncertainty that lingers in the industry, has emphasized staying optimistic, focused, and determined while providing practical advice to keep businesses afloat.

Francisco Flores

Francisco Flores

Francisco Flores established Flores Hardwood Floors in 2007 with the purpose of displaying his capabilities in working with wood floors.  His company takes the time to understand their client’s needs and offers a wide array of services such as traditional wood floor installation, sanding and finishing, and hand distressed finishes.  If you are ready to replace the old, run-down carpet installed in your house, give Flores Hardwood Floors a call!

Flores Hardwood Floors

Flores Hardwood Floors

Francisco Flores, owner of Flores Hardwood Floors
Telephone: 818.321.8449
Email: flores4flores [AT] yahoo [DOT] com

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Francis M. Unson

How to Make a Baking Soda Volcano

February 11, 2010

When your child’s class is assigned a science experiment, does a baking soda volcano come to mind?  The chemical reaction from combining baking soda and vinegar produces nothing more than carbon dioxide and water, making the project safe and fun.  Here are the materials you need to make a baking soda volcano:

  • If your child has an upcoming science experiment, follow these instructions on how to make a baking soda volcano.1 plastic water bottle
  • Lots of strips of newspaper
  • Papier-mâché mix (a water and glue mix can suffice)
  • Soda box
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Red or orange food coloring (optional)
  • Red fabric paint
  • Dark brown or black paint (optional)

Here are the modified instructions on how to make a baking soda volcano.  Photos from the original post can be seen here.

  1. Take the water bottle and cut off the top third of the spout.
  2. Invert the soda box so that it is upside down.  Tape the bottom part of the water bottle, open side up, to the top of the inverted soda box.
  3. Crumple up lots of pieces of newspaper into balls but do not pack them very tightly.
  4. Place the crumpled pieces of paper around the water bottle and tape them to the soda box and outside the water bottle, producing the shape of an inverted cone.  After taping down the paper, papier-mâché will be used to create a uniform surface for the volcano.
  5. Take a strip of newspaper and submerge it in the papier-mâché mix.
  6. Expand the wet newspaper strip vertically.  Pinch the top of the newspaper strip between the index finger and thumb of your left hand.  With your right hand, place the strip between your index and middle fingers just below your left hand.  Slide your hand all the way down the strip, removing any excess papier-mâché mix.
  7. Place one end of the newspaper strip at the very top of the volcano, laying it down the side of the volcano to its base at the soda box.
  8. Lay down papier-mâché-coated newspaper strips all around the volcano.  Make sure the dry newspaper in steps 3 and 4 is completely covered.
  9. Leave the papier-mâché to dry overnight.
  10. Paint the volcano the next day if it is completely dry, using dark brown or black as the base color.  Use red fabric paint to create streaks of lava originating from the mouth of the volcano.  Allow the paint to dry for a few hours.
  11. At last, setting up the eruption.  Take the baking soda and pour it into the water bottle inside the volcano, filling it up about a fourth of the way.
  12. Add a few drops of red food coloring in a glass of vinegar.  Stir until the food coloring is evenly distributed.  Pour the vinegar into the volcano slowly.  The reaction will take place right away.

If you want to be creative, use a water pump, as seen in the following video:

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Francis M. Unson

 

How NOT to use Twitter

February 11, 2010

Please retweetEver since Twitter’s arrived on the scene in 2006, its devoted users have come up with many ways to make use of the microblogging service: personal branding, feedback, and job hiring, among other ways.

However, Twitter has also attracted a group of users that use the medium for endless self-promotion and spamming, among other things.

What ways have you seen people use (abuse?) Twitter that annoy you?  Post in a comment below about how people have misused Twitter.  I will post in a follow-up blog the first 100 unique ways that people are NOT supposed to use Twitter.

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Francis M. Unson

How to Drive in Snowy and Icy Conditions

February 11, 2010

As I watch the news about the recent snowstorms that have struck the East Coast, I wondered how people could manage to drive on snow-covered or icy roads.

Follow these tips if you must drive in snowy or icy conditions.Obviously, if possible, just stay home and avoid driving in such conditions.  Make use of public transportation as well, provided that services have not been shut down.  If you must drive in snowy conditions, however, follow the tips in the owner’s manual of your car specific to your vehicle as well as the following:

Driving safely on icy roads

  1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop.  You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  2. Brake gently to avoid skidding.  If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  6. Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first.  Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  8. Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks.  The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  9. Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions.  Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

Read more on weather.com.

By the way, the YouTube video, below, show what you should not do when driving on icy and snow-covered roads.

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Francis M. Unson

How much do you spend to keep your family entertained?

February 9, 2010

Please retweetDo you remember spending just $25 a month on your phone bill?  For that matter, do you remember when your “landline” was your main telecommunications expense?  By 2004, according to data from the Census Bureau, the average American spent $770.95 annually on services such as cable television, Internet connectivity, and video games.  By the end of 2008, that figure rose to $903.  By the end of this year, the figure could reach $997.07.  The government figures do not even include movies, music and television shows bought through iTunes, cellphone service, or data plans bought in addition to that service with the purchase of smartphones.  Read more

Do you think that the subscriptions and services for entertainment and communications have reached parity and became indispensable necessities of life such as electricity, water, and groceries? Do you think you could live without such forms of entertainment or telecommunications, even for one day?

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Francis M. Unson

Singing Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” banned at karaoke bars due to violence?

February 8, 2010

The Philippines has seen a steady increase in violence in karaoke bars across the country over the last few years over, of all things, peoples’ renditions of Frank Sinatra’s version of “My Way”.  New York Times wondered if “the killings [are] the natural byproduct of the country’s culture of violence, drinking and machismo” or if the song contained “something inherently sinister”.  Whatever the reason, many karaoke bars have taken drastic action and removed the song from the songbooks.  Karaoke bar regulars, in turn, have shunned the song and refuse to sing it for fear of sparking new violence.  Some songwriters have noted that the song’s lyrics imply arrogance almost never observed in the country’s social norms.  Locals, however, point out that Filipinos take karaoke and singing very seriously and are quick to show their displeasure if a person is even slightly off-key.  Read more

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Francis M. Unson

A Guide on Malware and Spyware Removal

February 3, 2010

Note: This guide will help you remove a significant amount of unwanted spyware and associated folders, files, and registry entries.  Serious infections need more steps or the use of Hitman Pro by SurfRight.

Step 1 – If you have any anti-virus software on your computer, install the latest definitions by running an update and run a FULL scan.

Step 2 – Install CCleaner, a system optimization, privacy, and cleaning tool that removes unused files, cleans traces of online activity such as the Internet history, and cleans registry entries.  Download CCleaner on CNET.

A step-by-step guide to removing harmful malware and spyware from your computer with the use of Spybot and Malwarebytes.Step 3 – Install Spybot – Search & Destroy, an anti-spyware application.  Download Spybot on CNET.  Run Spybot once so that you can download the latest updates.  When the Spybot-S&D Wizard pops up, click on “Search for Updates”.  At the Spybot-S&D Updater window, make sure all the updates listed under “Important Files” are checked, and click on Download so that the latest updates are installed.

Step 4 – Expand the Spybot-S&D menu on the left and click on “Settings”.  Click on the third option below it, also called “Settings”.  Go to the dropdown menu:

Automation >> System Start

and select the option, “Run program once at next system startup”.  Exit the application when done.

Step 5 – Install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, another anti-spyware application.  Download it from CNET, as well.  Leave the checkboxes for “Update Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware” and “Launch Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware” checked so that the application installs the latest Malware definitions.  Exit the application when done.

Step 6 – Restart your system.  When you see the logo of the manufacturer of your computer, go into Safe Mode by pressing F8.  Login to an account with the highest permissions (e.g. Administrator).  If your children have an account, DO NOT use it.  Spybot will run automatically just before loading the Windows desktop.  When the scan is completed, press Fix selected problems.  You may receive a warning popup window saying that “some problems couldn’t be fixed” and recommends that a restart is necessary.  Click on No and DO NOT restart your computer for now.  Repeat Step 4, then exit the application.

Step 7 – Run Malwarebytes.  Click on the Scanner tab, select “Perform full scan”, and press the Scan button.  When the scan is completed, press the “Remove Selected” button.

Step 8 – Run CCleaner.  “Cleaner” on the top left side of the window will be selected by default.  Make sure all the boxes are checked under the Applications tabs and all boxes except “Wipe Free Space” are checked under the Windows tab.  Click on Analyze and, when complete, click on Run Cleaner.  Next, click on “Registry” on the left side of the window just below “Cleaner”.  Click on Scan for Issues and, when complete, click on Fix selected issues….  If there was just one error found, click on Fix Issue.  If multiple errors were found, click on Fix All Selected Issues.  Do this step twice.  Exit the application when done.

Step 9 – Restart the computer.  Login as you normally do.  Spybot will run automatically just before loading the Windows desktop.  When the scan is completed, press the “Fix selected problems” button.

Step 10 – Many types of malware like to exploit out-of-date versions of Java, so update your Java Runtime Environment.  You can download it from Java’s website.

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Francis M. Unson

Are you still using Internet Explorer 6?

February 2, 2010

Please retweetCiting security flaws and outdated technology, a petition is calling for the UK government to phase out Internet Explorer 6 (IE6).  While the government is reluctant to upgrade the software due to the massive task, the petition authors hope that the public would lead the drive to upgrade the web browser.  The latest campaign to do away with IE6 gained momentum recently when Google revealed that it had been a weak link in a cyber attack.  The French and German governments strongly advised its citizens to move to a different browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome until Microsoft fixed the security hole.  In response to mounting international pressure, Microsoft patched the hole in IE6 in January, three weeks ahead of schedule.  Read more

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Francis M. Unson

How to organize a successful yard sale

February 1, 2010

Why would you have a yard sale? Two reasons come to mind: to get rid of your excess clutter and, of course, to make money.  After all, “a person’s junk is another person’s treasure.”  In order to have a successful yard sale, follow these tips:

  • Follow these steps if you want to organize a successful yard sale.Gather your inventory.  If you haven’t used it, worn it, or it has sat in an obscure corner of your living room or closet for over a year, it becomes inventory.  Don’t give the item a second look; you didn’t give it a second look in a long time, anyway.
  • Do your homework.  No price gouging!  Visit a yard sale or two (or more) and do price comparisons.  Furthermore, depending on where you live, you may need a permit.  Know the rules!
  • Set the date.  Don’t overlook this detail.  Setting a date for the yard sale forces you to manage your time more effectively; you will not decide halfheartedly to do a yard sale “sometime in the spring”.
  • Advertise! Post BIG signs at the entrances of your neighborhood.  Set up a Facebook Fan Page.  Tweet about the yard sale.  Just get the word out!  The more foot traffic you can direct (or divert) to your yard sale, the more successful it will be.
  • Prep and price.  In order to save yourself a lot of time and energy during the yard sale, price every item you intend to sell.  Use masking tape or adhesive stickers.  Bundling will give shoppers added value.  Selling a dozen candlesticks for $10 will go faster than selling each candlestick for $1.
  • Setup shop.  Use your front yard, driveway, or garage.  Make sure that would-be shoppers can see the yard sale from the road.  Set up your wares on foldout tables, plywood, or old rubs.  Use a money-box or even a muffin tray if you are going to make change.  Keep a watchful eye over your inventory.
  • Sell, sell, sell! Just don’t sit there waiting for the customers to come to you.  Walk around, interact with the customers, and talk to them.  Share lots of information about the items.  The more information you give them, the less questions they will ask.  Offer free coffee and sell donuts.  If they’re eating, they’re staying–and if they’re staying, they’re buying, right?
  • Following the sale.  Box the unsold inventory and donate them to charity.  Go around the neighborhood and remove all the signs you put up.  Send a thank-you Tweet on Twitter for peoples’ participation.  And finally, take out the family to well-earned dinner.

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Francis M. Unson