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by Joyia Emard

A family of four hops into a rocket ship and blasts out into space. Instead of a trip to Hawaii, they opt to spend their one-week vacation in outer space. This pipe dream scenario won’t be far from reality if all goes as planned by 2025.

Members of the public will be able to take a giant leap onto the Voyager Space Station via re-usable rocket ships. The space station – currently in design phase – is helping fulfill a lifelong dream for one California architect to contribute to space exploration.

Tim Alatorre landed the lead designer position for this super colossal structure expected to float in low Earth orbit. It wasn’t easy for him to get the gig. It took months for Alatorre to convince Voyager’s innovators that he was a perfect fit for the job. His reputation creating structures in the most impossible conditions like on flood plains or hillsides while maintaining the public’s safety got the attention of The Gateway Foundation, a group backing the project.

“Being a licensed architect in California, I think about just…my responsibility to the citizens of the state as well as my fiduciary responsibility in health, safety and welfare,” Alatorre said.

Alatorre drafted a plan for the Voyager Space Station that includes 24 cylindrical modules encircling the structure to accommodate tourist spots like hotels and luxury apartments.

“They’re 20 meters in length by 20 meters in diameter and, for example, we have a gym module or a restaurant module,” Alatorre said.

Visitors will experience zero gravity on the ride over to the Voyager in low earth orbit using one of the rocket ships built by companies like Space X, Boeing, Sierra Nevada, and Space Tours. An elevator will take them inside the craft as it rotates one and a half revolutions per minute, helping to achieve one-sixths of earth’s gravity.

“You’ll be able to jump six times higher. You’ll be able to lift six times as much,” Alatorre said.

You’ll also be able to enjoy amazing views of Earth. The price tag for the first ten years will be a hefty one million dollars, but after 2035 will drop to about a thousand.

Alatorre has been working with engineers to design sustainable air, water, power, waste and life support systems to keep things comfortable for Voyager’s visitors. Alatorre said he will strive to protect their health, safety, and welfare by adhering to California’s green building guidelines and safety standards.

“There’s no building codes for space, but we’re taking the building codes that have been established…UBC (Uniform Building Code) and the California building code…and looking at ‘ok, what was the thought process? What was the intent of the code?’” Alatorre said.

Creators of the Voyager will also build modules for space labs and exploration scientists. The project is expected to bring thousands of jobs to various parts of the United States and reach high for the stars.

If you need to hire an architect to design your own personal mecca, be sure to verify their license by visiting the California Architects Board website at https://www.cab.ca.gov/.

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Smog Check stations caught using “clean gassing” to issue fraudulent certificates

SACRAMENTO, CA – The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) has filed, for prosecution by the Attorney General’s Office, accusations against nine Smog Check stations because investigations showed them to be issuing fraudulent certificates.

Through analysis of Smog Check Program data, BAR investigators detected the Smog Check stations to be engaged in the practice of “clean gassing.”

“Clean gassing” is the act of introducing a surrogate gas into a test vehicle’s exhaust emissions sample to fool the inspection system into passing that vehicle. This fraudulent activity undermines the integrity of the Smog Check Program and threatens the air quality for all Californians.

The accusations allege numerous violations of the Automotive Repair Act, including fraud, false and misleading statements, and violations of the Motor Vehicle Inspection Program.

License information and links to the accusations for each station are available in the following table.

Station/Business Name

Click the link to access the accusation.

License Number City
El Nene Test Only 280412 Fontana
El Toro Test Only 280500 Mira Loma
Hermanos Test Only 267653 Highland
Los Paisanos Test Only 276883 Riverside
Mario Test Only 273983 Ontario
One Stop Test Only 266963 Rialto
Pro Stop Test Only 265779 San Bernardino
Riverview Smog Check 288861 Riverside
Sierra Madre Test Only 285983 Bloomington

To view additional license and/or public record information, visit the Department of Consumer Affairs’ License Search page at www.dca.ca.gov.

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“This sounds crazy, but Kobe spoke this. He used to say all the time ‘I want to die young. I want to be immortalized. You know, I want to have my career be better than Michael Jordan, and I want to die young.’” Tracy McGrady, seven-time NBA All-Star.

That wish has come true in a myriad of ways since January 26, when Kobe Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, were two of seven people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA. Almost immediately after the news broke, tributes came pouring in via social media from athletes, fans, celebrities and politicians. And the tributes kept coming: At the Oscars, the Grammys, sporting events, television specials—you name it.

But no matter how many tributes, both public and private, have occurred in the past month, none will be bigger than the one occurring at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 24, when thousands of friends and (mostly) fans paying tribute to Bryant and his daughter on the Lakers home court.

Is it weird to grieve the loss of a celebrity?

It’s not. It actually has a name: Parasocial relationships, or interactions. Psychologically, these types of relationships are like unrequited love: One person gives their emotions, time, and energy to the other person, but the other person doesn’t know they exist.

Tupac Shakur. Kurt Cobain. Heath Ledger. Whitney Houston. Harry Potter. Tony Stark. Real or fictional people or characters, beloved by their families and the public as well. You turn to them for comfort when real people let you down because they’re always there for you, always accessible. They were part of the soundtrack of your life. And when they die, a little of your innocence goes with them.

Parasocial relationships can happen to anyone, at any age. Gayle Steyer, who has been studying adult parasocial relationships for the past 28 years at SUNY Empire State College in New York, says it’s normal. “We, as a species, are dependent on social interaction to survive,” she said in a 2016 interview, “and there is a part of our brain that can’t differentiate the face in front of [us] in real life with the face on TV.”

The term “parasocial relationship” was first coined by anthropologist Donald Horton and sociologist R. Richard Wohl in a 1956 article titled, “Mass Communication and Para-social Interaction: Observations on Intimacy at a Distance.” At that time, they based their findings on people who had relationships with news anchors and radio hosts. Today, through social media saturation, people can access their obsessions 24/7/365.

In general, these relationships are healthy; our heroes may inspire us to be brave, to change our lives for the better, or aspire to do something we thought was impossible. But for people with existing mental illnesses, this kind of attraction can become real—admiration and worship can grow into obsession, which becomes dangerous (think John Hinckley Jr.’s shooting of President Ronald Regan in 1981 to get Jodie Foster’s attention).

But group mournings, such as the one happening on the 24th, are healthy. Seattle-based therapist and grief counselor Dr, Jill Gross, Psy.D., says it’s important to find a way to share your grief. Online or in person, group mourning gives you a chance to share your feelings with others who feel the same loss; you can talk about how much they meant to you. The most important thing you can do after a loss, Gross says, is “feel your aliveness.” In other words, do something that will allow you to reconnect with your spirit.

If you continue to struggle with grief, however, you may want to seek help from a counselor or psychiatric professional. Loss can sometimes trigger physical and/or mental problems you did not know you had.

Kobe Bryant got both of his wishes: to die young and to be immortal. And on February 24th, his death will be mourned once again.

But to his legions of fans, he will live on forever.

Because legends never die.



Top: Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna
(Photo: ABC News)
Center: Fans mourn at a makeshift memorial outside the Staples Center
(Second photo: NBC News, Third photo, Business Insider)
Bottom: Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men in a tribute to Bryant during the 2020 Grammys (Photo: NY Times)

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Skin requires daily protection from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Protection is necessary year-round as the sun’s rays pose a continuous risk. There are many products available that offer varying levels of SPF sun-protection for every part of the body–from head to toes. But, did you ever take into consideration that your fur baby may also need protection from the sun?

Dogs and humans have more in common than just companionship. Like some humans, dogs enjoy sunbathing. However, their coat of fur does not protect them from sun damage. Believe it or not, dogs can get sunburned.

This is especially true for breeds with light-colored pigmentation and light-colored fur on the nose, ears, skin around the eyes, and back. Other breeds with shorn fur during the warmer months may also be vulnerable. An unexpected area on your pooch that may be prone to sunburn is the belly–which is often hairless–increasing the risk of sunburn.

Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun affects both humans and dogs–increasing the likelihood of developing skin cancer. Causes may vary, but too much sun exposure is a factor, and there isn’t one type of skin cancer for canines. Moreover, no single breed is more susceptible to skin cancer than another because there are multiple variables at play.

There are a few steps a pet-parent can take to lower their pooch’s risk.

  • Plan accordingly. The American Skin Association stresses the importance of taking appropriate precautions or avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.–when the sun’s rays are the strongest–to guard against damage. This advice applies to both humans and their canine companions.

Keeping your dog indoors during this time may not be feasible for everyone. In that case, here are several options you may want to consider, to help protect your fur-baby from the sun:

  • Provide a shaded area to lie in, through a covered porch, a doghouse, an umbrella, or a shade tree.
  • Use a pet-safe waterproof sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 or a sunblock containing zinc oxide.
  • If your dog will allow it, there is dog-specific protective clothing and accessories e.g., hats, visors, and sunglasses for those long walks or runs, available at online retailers or select pet supply stores.
  • Last but not least, sunscreen or sunblock specially formulated for dogs.

A word about topical sun-protection for dogs. What’s good for humans, can be toxic to pets. To be safe, use pet-approved sunscreen or sunblock. Avoid sunscreens formulated for humans unless your veterinarian has confirmed it is okay for pet use.

And finally, just like sunscreen usage for humans, pet-approved sunscreens need to be applied regularly, especially after swimming or perspiring to be effective. Be sure to follow package directions.

The most important thing you can do to help your dog avoid skin cancer is to familiarize yourself with all your dog’s lumps, bumps, and rashes, and consult a veterinarian licensed through the Veterinarian Medical Board of California if you notice anything suspicious.

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Six minutes and 47 seconds. That’s the running time of Hair Love, Karen Rupert Toliver and Matthew A. Cherry’s animated film that took home the Oscar for Best Animated Short at the 2020 Academy Awards.

It might have been a short, but the message was big. And multifaceted. And very timely.

The short, which screened before the Angry Birds 2 movie (which qualified it to compete for the Oscar), is not only an homage to self-confidence and the relationship between dads and daughters, the larger message is to love yourself—and your natural hair—just the way it (and you) are. “We have a firm belief that representation matters deeply. In cartoons, that’s [where] we first see our movies.” Rupert Tolliver said in her acceptance speech, “and that’s how we shape our lives and think about how we see the world.”

In his speech, Cherry explained that they made the short “Because we wanted to see more representation in animation; we wanted to normalize black hair. There’s a very important issue out there…the CROWN Act.”

Is black hair really an issue? It is. Hair is your identity; it shows the world who you are—being forced to look like someone else sends a message that you’re not good enough. Plus, if you don’t do it, you could possibly become the subject of unequal or inferior treatment.

But not in the Golden State. California became the first state to ban discrimination against black students and employees over their natural hairstyles. The law, called the CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act (SB 188, Mitchell) was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in July 2019 and went into effect on January 1, 2020. New York and New Jersey have followed suit, as have the Montgomery County, MD and the city of Cincinnati, OH. At this time, 22 other states have pre-filed, filed, or are planning to introduce the CROWN Act or similar legislation.

Now and in the past, African American women experienced discrimination in hiring, not because of their business acumen, but because their hair was not “businesslike.”  In predominantly white schools, black girls are being suspended for wearing their hair in Afros or braids, because the styles are deemed “inappropriate” or considered a “distraction” in the classroom.

Karen Rupert Tolliver and Matthew A. Cherry give their acceptance speech at the Academy Awards.

It happens to men as well. Last year, a black high school wrestler in New Jersey was publicly forced by a referee to cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit the match. This year, Deandre Arnold, a senior attending a high school in Mont Belvieu, TX, was given an ultimatum: Cut off your dreadlocks or you cannot return to school or walk in graduation. He chose to keep his hair.

For decades, African American women have used styling tools and products to press, iron, relax, hot comb, pomade, and tame their naturally kinky coils and curls into manes resembling the more-acceptable “slippery hair” of their non-African-American counterparts. This process not only took hours or an entire day, but at times could be very painful, not just physically, but emotionally as well.

According to owners of black hair salons, style trends are changing. Requests for the traditional press-and-curl are disappearing, and dreadlocks, twists, braids, Afros, Bantu knots and other natural styles are on the rise. The new, natural looks are being seen in places from the red carpet to Capitol Hill. “It’s about practicality,” said stylist Kim Dafney, owner of Kim’s Touch of Class Hair Design in Northridge, CA, said in a November interview with the Los Angeles Times. “People want simplicity, something they can manage all week. … And not just black people. Whites come in for braids, twists and extensions—styles that blacks have worn for years.”

The takeaway? Sometimes, change has to be made in big ways, like the CROWN Act; other changes can start in as little as six minutes and 47 seconds.

Need a hair stylist or barber? Check the license first with the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology: www.barbercosmo.ca.gov

Watch Hair Love on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNw8V_Fkw28
Watch Karen Rupert Toliver and Matthew A. Cherry’s acceptance speech: https://tinyurl.com/renh6sr
Visit the CROWN Act website: https://www.thecrownact.com/


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The California State Board of Pharmacy (Board) announces the appointment of Anne Sodergren as its new executive officer, effective January 22, 2020.  Ms. Sodergren replaces former executive officer Virginia Herold who retired in 2018.

Ms. Sodergren has over 25 years of experience with the Board, having served in various capacities. Most recently she has served as the Board’s Interim Executive Officer and over the last 10 years as the Assistant Executive Officer where she had leadership responsibility for the day to day operations of the Board and worked in partnership with its 13-member board in carrying out their objectives. Most notably, Ms. Sodergren was responsible for expanding licensure options and new licensing provisions that created additional options for pharmacy related services within the hospital setting. This allowed the Board’s regulatory scheme to keep pace with the proliferation of hospital services.

Ms. Sodergren’s lengthy tenure at the Board has afforded her significant experience in the regulation and enforcement of the Pharmacy Law in California, as well as directing the Board’s consumer protection mandate through consumer education campaigns. She has extensive experience in policy development, legislation, strategic planning, budgets and personnel management.

Ms. Sodergren received her bachelor’s degree in communication studies from CSU, Sacramento in 1992.

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New Bureau of Automotive Repair Program Sends Cars to Schools

Your clunker car could be put to good use in the classroom. The Bureau of Automotive Repair’s (BAR) new Cars for Schools program provides retired vehicles to public high schools, community colleges, and regional occupation programs, offering students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience under the hood.

“We are excited to launch this new program,” said BAR Chief Patrick Dorais. “It is a great opportunity for schools to have the resources for students to get experience in automotive repair.”

Cars for Schools will provide up to 350 vehicles annually to schools at no charge. Schools may request specific vehicle makes, models, model years, ranges of model years, or other vehicle specific features and may use the vehicles as needed to demonstrate principles of operation or repair techniques.

Vehicles will be diverted from BAR’s Consumer Assistance Program, which helps improve California’s air quality by offering eligible consumers up to $1500 to retire an operational vehicle at a BAR-contracted dismantler.

On January 6, the College of Sequoias, a two-year California community college in Visalia, received the first vehicle provided by the Cars for Schools program. The 1989 Mazda b-series pickup will be used by students preparing for career opportunities in the automotive industry. Several other programs, including Livingston High School, College of the Desert in Palm Desert, Fresno City College, Merced College, and Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Program, have also made arrangements with BAR to receive vehicles through the program.

Educators seeking more information on school eligibility may contact the Cars for Schools program coordinator at (916) 403-8759.


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Happy senior man playing with kitten at nursing homeSo, you’ve made the decision to bring a new pet into your home. Congrats! Whether you’re adopting for companionship, introducing a 4-legged friend into a large family, or somewhere in between, adopting a pet is a wonderful way to bring unconditional love into your life.

But what happens after a few weeks of accidents on the carpet, nipping at ankles, or scrapping with other pets? Sadly, some pets end up banished to the backyard, or worse, back to the animal shelter because the pet’s would-be human parents did not determine ahead of time what pet is the best match for their lives.

The key to making any pet adoption successful is to do research beforehand so you know what you’re getting into. Here are five questions to ask yourself before you adopt.

Can you commit the time to a pet?

Cats and dogs require a lot of human interaction and exercise to stay healthy. Physical inactivity can lead to depression, weight problems, and unwanted behavior such as scratching or spraying. Also, dogs may bark or howl incessantly.

One of the first steps you should take with a new pet is a trip to the veterinarian, especially if your pet is coming from a rescue or shelter where their medical history is unknown. To check that a veterinarian is licensed, visit the Veterinary Medical Board’s website at www.vmb.ca.gov.

Can you make the financial commitment?

The adoption fee is just the beginning of a lifetime of expenses. Your pet will need a comfortable bed to sleep in, toys to play with, and grooming products. You also need to consider the cost of having your pet spayed or neutered, regular dental and medical checkups including the cost of vaccinations, and trips to the groomer for a little pet pampering.

Is the prospective pet a match for your living situation?

A large, energetic dog is a bad match for life in a small apartment, and may act out by barking or chewing. A young kitten or puppy might be a bad match for a home with rambunctious children or other animals, where the animal could be injured during rough play. You also need to consider whether or not your family will help share the burden of caring for a pet – walks, litter box cleaning, feeding and playtime – if you’re unavailable.

Pets that require daily attention are not ideal for people who travel often for work or play. This can stop spontaneous trips because you either have to take them with you and find pet-friendly lodging or board them or have family or friends take care of them while away.

Is your living arrangement stable?

Pets are creatures of habit. If you move around a lot, it will cause stress in your pet. You may not be able to find pet-friendly accommodations, or select breeds may be excluded by homeowners associations or apartment complex rules.

Can you keep your pet safe?

Pets are often denied reunification with family members because they can’t be identified. Keep a collar and tag on your pet, and microchip your pet with a national database so you can be reunited in the event your pet is lost.

It’s a lot to consider, but asking these questions before you take the pet adoption plunge will go a long way towards responsible pet ownership.



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Consumer Connection magazine cover for Winter 2019 issueThe latest issue of Consumer Connection, the Department of Consumer Affairs’ quarterly magazine, is available now.

In this issue, we examine the rapid job growth forecast in health care fields; we look at gender stereotypes that factor into why more girls do not grow up to work in STEM or STEAM fields; we find out what it takes to be licensed as a professional boxer; and we brace ourselves for the return of the perm, the hairstyle you thought you left in the 1980s!

In our cover story, we explore a new law that waives pet adoption fees for military veterans when they adopt at animal shelters throughout the state. The “Pets For Vets” law went into effect on January 1.

You can read Consumer Connection on DCA’s website or send an email to consumerconnection@dca.ca.gov to be put on the mailing list.

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Once each decade, the U.S. Census Bureau attempts to count every person in the United States. The next enumeration will begin April 1, 2020, and will be the first to rely heavily on online responses.

The next count will begin April 1, 2020, and will be the first to rely heavily on online responses. The primary challenge facing the U.S. Census Bureau is the undercount of certain population groups. That challenge is amplified in California, where more residents are considered traditionally hard to count. Those include foreign-born residents, renters, individuals living in homes without a broadband subscription, people living close to or below the poverty line, and children younger than five years old.

A complete and accurate count of California’s population, in which every person is counted once and in the right place, is essential. Census data determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funds to state and local governments.

Starting in mid-March 2020, each household will get a letter in the mail explaining the different ways you can fill out the Census. If you don’t receive a letter, you can still go online or call to fill it out. Be sure you include any person living in your household, family or not.

It is important that the 2020 Census counts all Californians, no matter who they are or their background. The Census is completely confidential, so you can rest assured that your personal information is safe and secure. It cannot be shared with the courts, police or immigration enforcement, your landlord or your employer.

For more information, visit www.census.ca.gov.

Census Timeline

March 12–20: Invitations to the 2020 Census mailed

March 16–24: Reminder letters mailed

March 26–April 3: Reminder postcard mailed

April 1: CENSUS DAY!

April 8–16: Second reminder & hard copy. Census mailed.

April 20–27: Final postcards mailed before an in-person follow-up

U.S. Census Bureau Hiring – Temp Jobs Available Statewide

Looking for part-time work? The U.S. Census Bureau seeks applicants throughout California. Earn extra income while helping your community. The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting to fill thousands of positions across the country for the 2020 count. Positions include: census takers, census field supervisors, recruiting assistants, clerks, and office operation supervisors. Bilingual applicants are needed and encouraged to apply. Earn extra income while helping your community. For more information visit the U.S. Census 2020 website: https://2020census.gov/en/jobs.html


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