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New experiment studies museums’ displays

 November 14, 2022 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Erik Anderson, in for Debbie Cruz….it’s Monday, November 14th.

A new experiment studies what museum goers really want to see.

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


San Diego County’s local health emergency for monkeypox has expired.

County health officials didn’t renew it because of a significant decrease in new monkeypox cases.

The county was reporting five or fewer new cases per week since the middle of last month.

There have been more than 440 monkeypox cases in the county since the first case was reported on June 15th.


Some water activities will be suspended at Miramar Reservoir until early next year because of work on the city's Pipeline Project.

The project includes installing a one-mile pipeline, which is expected to provide the city with half of its water supply by 20-35 through water recycling.

Canoeing, kayaking, boating and tubing will be paused while work is being done.

But you can still access the shore areas, including picnic and barbecue areas, paths and shore fishing.

Tunneling into the reservoir is expected to be done early next year.

Construction of the pipeline is scheduled to begin mid-year 20-23.


The San Diego Humane Society is putting out an urgent call for foster volunteers.

Their shelters are near full capacity, and they say they need at least 50 foster homes for the animals.

Chris Queen has been a foster volunteer for almost five years and encourages anyone who has ever thought of fostering to do it.

“You don’t have to worry about whether or not you have the experience. The foster will guide you through that and they’ll match you with the right animal for your first experience.” 

Fostering doesn’t cost anything.

The San Diego Humane Society provides the food, the medical and the knowhow for the foster animal.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.


Ever since museums have existed, directors have tried to imagine the best way to arrange and illuminate the objects on display.

But now art museums are getting some help from science.

KPBS sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge has this story about an experiment that tries to determine what museum goers really want to see.

A video taken at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art shows museum visitors at a pottery exhibit. They approach a display case, circle it and stand for a short time looking at it, before moving on. The video is one small piece of visual data the Salk Institute will examine to find out how people interact with art objects. Professor Tom Albright, a neuroscientist at Salk, says the people in the videos are converted by a computer to stick figures to analyze their movements. “Like pointing. Or standing in front of an object for some extended period of time. Or turning and talking to a friend who came to the museum with them. And then we can look at the frequency of these events. When do they occur when people move through the gallery? What’s the path that somebody takes as they move through the gallery?” Cameras are installed near the top of the 20 foot walls that surround the pottery exhibit to capture the movement of visitors. Albright says this experiment, funded by the National Science Foundation, has two goals. One is focused on creating a good museum exhibit.  “So how can we optimize the placement of objects in the gallery to facilitate learning, on the part of the visitors.” Then there’s the scientific part. “The other goal is to understand how people behave. How visual information and access, motor access to the space, affects the choices they make.” The Salk Institute is partnering with the LA County Museum of Art, where people's behavior in a gallery is being examined. Victoria Behner is director of exhibition design at LACMA. She says for all the anecdotes they’ve heard and observational studies they’ve done, she thinks this study will provide better information about how to engage museum visitors. VICTORIA LACMA  “This study will provide us with some really great data we can then use toward future decision making. And then when we say, We know that this is what happens, but we want to do something else anyway. Then at least we know what we’re doing.” “And as we move around it, it really changes.  In La Jolla, at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, senior curator Jill Dawsey shows me an 8-foot tall sculpture made from resin. It’s called Diamond Column by Duane Valentine. “You know, when you’re standing straight on, it has rounded corners. And yet as you move around it has sharp edges.” The sculpture is clearly the star of the exhibit. As you enter the gallery it’s the first thing you see. It is translucent and changes color as you move around it and as the gallery’s natural light fades or brightens. Dawsey says just putting two art works in the same space makes a statement about the  story you want to tell. “So we think carefully about how we are creating meaning and the stories we are telling…. We think about the pacing of art objects and how much space goes in between them. We think about sight lines and how we are going to stage an artwork to pull a visitor forward into a room.” And, she says you’ve got to put a sculpture in a place where a visitor isn’t going to back into it as they’re looking at a painting on the wall. Dawsey says she looks forward to the finds of the Salk Institute study. “I think it would be fascinating to see what they learn. Because in my experience visitors navigate the museum in their own idiosyncratic ways. But it would be helpful to know the pace at which people are moving through the gallery and how often artworks really do serve as conversation pieces.” Salk Institute scientist Tom Albright says scientists will manipulate the exhibit at the LA Museum of Art to see how that affects visitor behavior. Descriptive text, alongside the artwork, will be shortened or expanded. The location of artworks will be moved around. The exhibit they’re studying is called Conversing in Clay: Ceramics from the LACMA Collection. It will be open until May 23rd next year. SOQ.


California regulators have unveiled details of their second attempt to reform the state’s solar rules and they will take a last round of comments at a Wednesday hearing.

The proposal does NOT include a steep mandatory solar connection charge, but it does slash the value of electricity generated that’s sold to the grid.

Kathy Fairbanks works for the utility-backed group Affordable Energy For All.

She says the plan fails to make meaningful reforms.

“We would like to see reform of the net energy metering program to eliminate this cost shift and bring the program more in balance. So that all customers are paying their fair share.”

Fairbanks says the new rules don’t do that.

Solar Advocate Bernadette Del Chiaro says the proposed rules slash the value of electricity generated on rooftops.

“They’re proposing a 75 percent decline in the value of solar energy exported to the grid effective April 2023. That’s a pretty big drop in the value of solar and it’s hard to imagine that that’s not going to hurt.”

Regulators could finalize the rules in mid-December.


How can we get more affordable housing in San Diego?

The city’s independent budget analyst has a new plan to build more affordable housing in San diego. The Analyst just put out a new report with ideas about how to do it.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says it’s a first step toward creating more truly affordable housing.

It’s no secret that San Diego and all of California has an affordable housing crisis. But there are efforts underway to combat this issue. That includes a new report from the city's Independent Budget Analyst…  26 pages on how to improve housing affordability in San Diego. Jillian Kissee is deputy director at the IBA’s office. “The more that the city can streamline, look at its own processes and make them better, the better we can have an impact on housing affordability.” The analysis suggests multiple ways to overcome certain barriers, such as permitting and financing, height limits and funding shortfalls. Kissee says the city council is digesting the report and her office is awaiting further direction. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


Voters overwhelmingly passed a measure to allow child care at San Diego parks and rec centers.

KPBS reporter Claire Trageser looks at what that means for San Diego families.

Councilmember Raul Campillo championed Measure H. It will change the city’s charter so the city can lease space to childcare businesses. He says the idea is to give cheaper leases than what is commercially available, but he can’t promise that. The City Council has to approve any leases of three years or more. “If it's less than three years, the mayor's office can approve it, and if it's an extension of the lease that's already in place, it does have to come to the City Council. So I anticipate that each of these leases will come to the City Council.” Campillo says as of right now, the plan is not to save any of these childcare slots specifically for city employees. Some childcare sites could be running in city parks and rec centers next year. CT KPBS NEWS


Coming up.... La Jolla Playhouse is populating Shakespeare’s forest of Arden with a cast of trans, non-binary and Queer performers. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.


Transitioning to civilian life for veterans can come with a lot of anxiety.

But a program at S-D-S-U tries to help them bridge that gap.

KPBS sci-tech reporter Thomas Fudge tells us about Troops to Engineers.

Jesus Samaniego Sanchez, his friends call him Sammy, spent five years in the marine corps, working as an aircraft support technician. He says he wanted to join the marines to serve his country.  He also saw it as a way to afford college. SAMMY  “School’s not cheap so I enlisted to get some of the veterans benefits like the GI bill which I’m currently using. Sammy Samaniego chose to attend San Diego State and get an engineering degree. There, he found Troops to Engineers. Program manager, Joshua Imes, says the group gives student veterans moral support and career guidance. JOSHUA  “Oftentime these students feel like lone wolves. They are older. They have families. They are not on campus all the time. So for this program to be able to offer a sense of community and be able to bring these students together who have similar experiences, helps them with the learning process.” Imes says engineering comes naturally to veterans who have worked with military equipment. Samaniego says in the marines he liked to fix things and troubleshoot. Now he’s designing things. Thomas Fudge, KPBS news. 


The Army and Navy Academy for boys in Carlsbad has been open for over 100 years… but they have recently celebrated a first.

KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne introduces us to the first woman to lead the all-boys school.

For 112 years, the Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad has housed thousands of cadets. But throughout the academy’s long history, a woman has never been president.  Until… retired U.S. Army Major Gen. Peggy Combs took on the job. “I just believe the school is moving towards the future… It has nothing to do with my gender. It’s just the experience that I bring to the school in character leader development and just training and education.” Combs served in the Army for over 30 years, is a 2 star general, and has worked with thousands of ROTC students nationwide.  TT KPBS News


Remarkable teens in San Diego were honored by the County Public Defender’s Office last week.

KPBS Education reporter M.G. Perez has more on the outstanding youth nominated for making a difference.

It’s an annual event in November …when 25 teens are recognized for their accomplishments and contributions to the community. 16 year old Vedant Nahar is one of them. He’s a junior at Scripps Ranch High School and the CEO of a startup company that created MedAlert… a potentially lifesaving app nurses can download right now. “my friend’s grandmother accidentally passed away due to a medication error in a nursing facility …using that as inspiration …my team and I created MedAlert because we wanted to solve the issue of medication errors in these nursing facilities. “slow down you crazy child…”  13 year old Makena Stumpo is an accomplished pianist and singer…who uses his talent to raise money for charity and to comfort the elderly. “most people have visions but they don’t go out to achieve it. I think remarkable people are the ones that go out to achieve their dreams and their visions.” Vadant and Makena…two of San Diego’s most remarkable teens. MGP KPBS News


In Shakespeare’s romantic comedy ‘As You Like It,’ Rosalind and Orlando meet at court but don’t truly find love until they’re banished to the forest.

La Jolla Playhouse gives us a re-imagined play where identities can be fully explored through a cast of trans, non-binary and Queer performers.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando attended an early rehearsal of the play has this preview.

Scissor lift backing up CHRISTOPHER ASHLEY We apologize for the little beeping, it's actually them building the set. While construction takes place outside the Playhouse’s rehearsal room some deconstruction is happening inside. WILL DAVIS Yes that feels unfinished. Take the court versus forest motif of Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Dramaturg Regina Victor says Elizabethans would have seen it as restriction versus freedom, perhaps even Protestant versus Catholic. But how could that be redefined for a modern audience? REGINA VICTOR And so for us, our production is the binary court and the free gender-ful forest. A dramaturg has some key duties: world building for a new play, historical context for an old one, and acting as a playwright’s advocate even if he’s dead. REGINA VICTOR What do I think Shakespeare would have wanted? What was his intention in writing the story? And how can our interpretation honor that without distracting from it? So while gender fluidity wasn’t a topic of discussion in Shakespeare’s time, the playwright was obviously interested in ideas about gender and identity. At Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, a young boy would have played the female lead of Rosalind who then must disguise herself as a man who pretends to be a woman so that the man she secretly loves can woe her. REGINA VICTOR What Shakespeare's original productions had to do, that this one also has to do is get down to the essence of the person…Peter who plays Rosalind, talks a lot about in the Forest, I become a lover. And that identity transcends gender. Christopher Ashley is one of the play’s co-directors. CHRISTOPHER ASHLEY I would say our production is even more gender-ful than original productions because we have this amazing group of actors, trans actors and nonbinary actors and queer actors. And there's all of these options for how does this production construct the possibilities for that character? And that meant rejecting the idea of a world defined in binary terms. CHRISTOPHER ASHLEY When it comes to the idea of gender, this idea that there has to be only men and women and there's no other options. And I've been looking at different Shakespeare plays to think about, like, is there a play that really brings that idea to life and that feels like these ideas are really coming organically out of the play. Which led his co-director Will Davis to ask what would happen if Rosalind was not pivoting from female to male and back again but rather was shedding the very idea of being binary? And what if that was reflected through the costumes. WILL DAVIS Roslind starts to shed layers, courtly layers, and then starts to accumulate other things. And that we're watching her transform over time. Other characters also get to shed layers and pass them on to someone else who might look great wearing them because the image we choose to present can have an impact. WILL DAVIS The more I can imagine something and believe in what I'm imagining about myself and for myself, the more the world is going to respond to that. For Regina Victor, gender play can be an invitation. REGINA VICTOR Just because you present one way doesn't mean your gender has stopped. It doesn't mean you've arrived, it means that you are now fluid between. And that's been really exciting. And while the production has added some contemporary music… It has not  really altered the text of Shakespeare’s play, even when Rosalind’s epilogue returns to the binary language of male and female, says Victor. REGINA VICTOR Because what ended up being more delightful was giving this trans performer the ability to put that gender panic back on the audience. And to say, it's not actually for me to make sense of this for you, it is actually for me to invite you to make sense of it yourself. Shakespeare’s plays have proven endlessly adaptable because they are not about the past. CHRISTOPHER ASHLEY Their main thing is the human imagination and the possibility of human relationships, which feels like it never dates. So let the Playhouse take you to its gender-ful forest where you might experience Shakespeare from a fresh perspective. Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

La Jolla Playhouse’s ‘As You Like It’ opens tomorrow, and runs through December 11th at the Potiker Theatre.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Erik Anderson, Debbie Cruz will be back tomorrow. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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A new experiment tries to determine what museum-goers really want to see. In other news, voters overwhelmingly passed a measure to allow child care at San Diego parks and rec centers. Plus, La Jolla Playhouse is populating Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden with a cast of trans, non-binary and queer performers.