My junior high school went on a trip to a nuclear power plant in the 1970s and all I got was some souvenir borosilicate glass

I can’t get away with saying that I “grew up in the shadow of nuclear power,” but if you were a kid growing up in south Orange County during the 1970s you probably went on a field trip to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and heard some propaganda on how nuclear power was the power source of the future. The Three Mile Island accident occurred just a few months later.

Found a souvenir from that trip. Posted in light of the plant’s closing.

Souvenir of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant

Souvenir of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant

45 Years

One of the stranger photos to surface over the years…


In the front, holding the plate of food: John Wayne. Standing in the back: Lee Harvey Oswald

I don’t quite want to be the person to write Weird Orange County, but there’s enough old-growth conspiracy in O.C. to fuel at least a couple of chapters. A photograph of OC’s Most Famous Resident and an assassination enigma is just the starting point… Oswald first reported for Marine Corps duty at El Toro where he became friends with Kerry Thornley. Thornley would go on to write a book about Oswald called The Idle Warriors – the only book written about Oswald before the JFK assassination. Thornley was also the main guy behind the Principia Discordia and the Discordian Society, later fanning the flames of paranoids worldwide who took a joke concocted in a Whitter bowling alley to inevitable and extreme conclusions.

The Prankster And The Conspiracy gets into the details. Thornley later found himself on the wrong end of Jim Garrison’s investigation with an indirect connection to O.C.’s Most Infamous Resident who just happened to be in Dallas that day.

The only thing missing from a county of flying saucers, assassination connections, corrupt sheriffs, and banking scandals is a crypto-monster, but perhaps O.C. could adopt Elsie the Lake Elsinore Sea Serpent from next door Riverside.

Orange County, China

File this in the “just when you think things couldn’t get more surreal” folder.

ORANGE COUNTY, China — An hour’s drive north of Beijing, on an icy country road lined by fields and populated by trucks and sheep, the landscape is a far cry from palm-ringed golf courses and “Surfin’ USA.”

But wait. There is Sun City, a half-built gated community with echoes of the desert. Then the tidy homes of Orange County come into view. Finally, you drive through a stone portal, past advertisements showing men fly-fishing in cowboy hats, pulling up before the impressive mansions of Watermark-Longbeach, the epicenter of faux L.A. in China.

“I liked it immediately – it is just like a house in California,” exulted Nasha Wei, a former army doctor turned businesswoman, sitting on a white suede banquette in the four-bedroom home in Orange County (China) she moved into this year.

Bits of American geography are popping up all over Beijing, the latest fashion in real estate marketing and sales. Soho, Central Park, Palm Springs and Manhattan Gardens are among recent developments.

In many instances, the name is just an American location tacked on to typical upmarket Chinese apartments. But at Orange County and Longbeach, developers have promised clients the real deal – so long as they can afford the minimum half million-dollar price tag.

Houses are replicas of Southern California homes, designed by Southern California architects, with model homes decorated by Los Angeles interior designers. The basement pool tables are American. The appliances are imported. The tiles, wood siding and wall sconces are from the United States, too.