Fun Things to do Close to Home



By Neil Rubenstein

Observer Columnist

March is upon us and many of my friends are wondering where can I go that is new and different, close by and reasonable. Try these.

Story time at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, 3:30 p.m. Saturdays. Adults $5, children under 13 free. See

Santa Monica Conservancy Walking Tours of downtown Santa Monica, Saturdays at 10 a.m. For two hours and in six blocks one can discover 130 years of Santa Monica history. Public $10. Phone: (310) 496-3146.

First Friday of every month there's free admission from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Norton Simon Museum, 411 West Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. Phone: (626) 449-6840/

Mark your calendar for May 19 when five museums will participate in the annual Museums of the Arroyo with free admission, noon to 5 p.m., and free shuttle bus service. Participants are the Los Angeles Police Museum, the Pasadena Museum of History, the Gamble House, Heritage Square and the Lummis Home. See


The Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, 919 South Grand Ave. in Los Angeles, from Feb. 11 to April 26, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It's free. See

African American self-taught art exhibit, "Soul Stirring," free through April 6, Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m; Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. See

Another great venue is the Stagecoach Inn in Newbury Park at 4 p.m. on Saturdays. They have silent films with a piano player and refreshments for $10. Phone: (805) 498-9441.

The Japanese American National Museum at 100 North Central Ave., Los Angeles is free on the third Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. Phone: (213) 625-0414.

Military veterans and their families have a new website to get help obtaining the benefits they have earned, such as healthcare, education, job services, home loans, housing, pensions, etc. Those eligible can apply through the site and track the status of their claims. It's

Speaking of veterans, many businesses have veteran-friendly offerings year round. Find discounts and more money-saving information at, and

Just recently I mentioned a must read for those of you who have computers and want to secure your information. I thought Popular Mechanics February 2014 had a bunch of good stuff. Just the other day our postman dropped off the January/February issue of The Saturday Evening Post and on Page 36 it's "More Privacy, Now! How to evade Big Brother online." Also, the April 2014 issue of Kiplinger's has "How to Combat Data Theft" on Page 58.

If you have the Auto Club, check out Page 38 of the March/April 2014 issue. The article in part says "Cars can collect data on where, when and how you drive. And if you connect your mobile device to your car some of your smartphone data may also be migrated to your vehicle."

Police officers in Long Beach kicked, beat and shot Perry Grays with a taser when he asked them for their names and badge numbers. The officers claimed Grays was rude, combative, and didn't comply with orders. Their city council agreed to pay $380,000 after a jury ruled that excessive force was used.

Also in Long Beach a jury awarded the family of Douglas Zerby $6.5 million for Mr. Zerby's death as he stood on his porch holding a grip style water hose. Apparently the police, without warning, shot Zerby. Can you believe their police chief is running for Los Angeles County Sheriff?

The Los Angeles new policy for trash truck workers could be very costly. It seems the city told the garbage collectors they could not sleep in their vehicles while on their State of California mandated breaks. Also, the city insisted drivers could not park their vehicles in a manner that created congregating. Now the courts ruled Los Angeles owes 1,000 employees $26 million.

Boy oh boy, Californians pay 87 cents tax per pack. It's $2 per pack in Arizona, $1.31 in Oregon, $4.35 in New York and $1.41 in Texas, according to an American Lung Association survey. Those cigarette prices go up fast.

I never would have thought that more than 73,000 Americans remain missing and presumed dead from World War II. Of those, 47,000 disappeared in the Pacific.

Milk prices just might hit record highs by the end of March. The bean counters say China and other countries are buying our dairy products.

And then there is the sheriff in Las Vegas who wants to raise the sales tax on goods from 8.1 percent to 8.25 percent and hire about 100 more cops.

The people working for the United States Geological Survey claim there is a 7 to 10 percent chance of a major earthquake in the next 50 years. No, silly, not in California, but along the New Madrid fault which stretches 150 miles crossing Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

For those who missed an article, all my commentaries can be found at by placing Rubenstein in that website's search box.


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