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Egg-freezing cocktail mixers offer a look at female fertility

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Two Southern California Reproductive Center employees register attendees of an “egg social” at the presidential suite of the Viceroy L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Anna Gorman/Kaiser Health News)
By Anna Gorman
Kaiser Health News

 

Your grandma hosted Tupperware parties. Your mom attended Mary Kay soirees. Now, you might be sipping cocktails at an egg-freezing fête. 

Judging from a recent event at a swanky Beverly Hills hotel, female fertility could be the next big thing in direct marketing. 

About 20 women — and a few men — gathered this fall in the presidential suite of the Viceroy L’Ermitage in this famously upscale city to chat, drink wine and eat hors d’oeuvres while hearing about the possibility of freezing their eggs for future conception. 

Some of the women said they hadn’t found the perfect partner and wanted to keep their fertility options open. Others said they were focused on their careers now and didn’t want to compromise their chances of having a family later. 

All were willing to put aside their inhibitions for one evening to learn about an intensely private subject in an unusual setting: a cocktail party. 

Frances Hagan, 35, had heard about the “egg social” from a friend and was eager to find out how egg freezing worked. Hagan, a lawyer, said she is single and still hopes to find someone with whom she can have children the old-fashioned way. But she said it doesn’t hurt to consider freezing her eggs as a backup. 

“I’d like to wait and just see what happens,” Hagan said. “But if I wait too long, maybe it won’t happen. I’m trying to be proactive.” 

It is probably no coincidence that the event was held in a place like Beverly Hills, given the considerable expense of freezing eggs — and of using them later. 

Egg freezing costs between $10,000 and $15,000 for the procedure and the medications. Thawing the eggs and fertilizing and transferring an embryo could cost thousands more later on. A few Silicon Valley employers, including Facebook and Apple, cover egg freezing for their workers, but most employers and insurers do not. 

In the past, egg freezing was primarily for women who risked infertility because of cancer treatments. But in recent years, more women have been choosing to freeze their eggs for non-medical reasons — such as not being ready to have a baby. 

As the practice becomes more widespread, so do events designed to raise awareness of it and recruit patients for clinics that perform the procedure. In recent years, cities such as Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco have been the venues of egg-freezing parties. 

At the Beverly Hills hotel, physicians from the Southern California Reproductive Center, the fertility clinic that sponsored the event, projected slides on a wall and explained the history and science of egg freezing. They told the guests that it was an insurance policy for women who want children in the future. 

“It’s the smartest thing any woman can do if they are not in a serious relationship that is leading to children,” said Shahin Ghadir, a fertility specialist at the practice. 

Ghadir said hosting women in a casual environment makes the idea less intimidating and stigmatizing. “It lets people know it’s not a medical issue — it’s a social issue,” he said. 

Besides, Ghadir said, “with a glass of wine, everything sounds better.” 

The first baby created from a frozen egg was born about 30 years ago, but it wasn’t until 2012 that the American Society for Reproductive Medicine declared that egg freezing should no longer be considered experimental. That opened the door for more women to freeze their eggs, said Evelyn Mok-Lin, medical director of the UC-San Francisco Center for Reproductive Health. 

UC-San Francisco started offering “elective” egg freezing soon afterward, and the number of women opting to freeze their eggs has since risen sharply, Mok-Lin said. 

More than 6,200 women in the U.S. froze their eggs in 2015, up from 475 in 2009, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. And 155 births resulted from the fertilization of women’s frozen eggs in 2014, up from 28 in 2009. 

Egg freezing gives women control over their reproductive health and fertility, and the medical risks are very low, said Mok-Lin. But given the high cost, not everyone can afford egg freezing, and it doesn’t always work. “It is a luxury for many people and without any guarantee in the end that the investment will pay off,” she said. 

For more information on how the process works, go to Kaiser Health News, khn.org 

This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

 

Boyle Heights crash claims two children, injures mother

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A sheriff’s department vehicle and two civilian vehicles collided in Boyle Heights, and the patrol vehicle struck a group of pedestrians, killing two boys and critically injuring their mother, authorities said today.

The impact of the crash around 7:25 p.m. Thursday at the intersection of Indiana Street and Whittier Boulevard caused one of the vehicles to strike five pedestrians standing on a corner, said Officer Tony Im of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Division.

A woman was critically injured, and her two sons, ages 7 and 9, suffered fatal injuries, said LAPD Officer Tony Kuey, also of media relations. One boy died at the scene and the other died at a hospital, he said.

The names of the boys were withheld, pending family notification.

One of the other vehicles struck two adults in a crosswalk, Kuey said. They were transported for hospital treatment, as were two sheriff’s deputies, Kuey said.

The deputies, who had been headed to a shots-fired call, were listed in stable condition, police said.

The two civilian drivers involved in the crash remained at the scene and were cooperating with the investigation, police said.

Black Friday could turn into “Black Week,” say shopping experts

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By Diana Kruzman
Hub Correspondent

Each year when the day after Thanksgiving rolls around, throngs of people line the sidewalks outside stores and shopping centers across Los Angeles. They wait, in the early hours of the morning, for retailers to open their doors on Black Friday, promising enticing deals for a limited time only.  

Others, wishing to skip the crowds, wait for Cyber Monday to make purchases on electronics and other goods in online-only sales.  

This, the start of the holiday shopping season, has made headlines in recent years, as news outlets broadcast footage of stampeding crowds and chaos inside stores, full of people eager to catch the best deals before they disappear.  

But in 2017, the nature of holiday shopping — for both users and businesses — is changing, say analysts who study these trends. And in Los Angeles, additional factors like the layout of the city itself are creating a new and different experience for holiday shoppers this year.  

In 2016, the National Retail Federation reported that 154 million people shopped in stores and online over Black Friday weekend, spending an average of $290 each. This year, the organization expects overall holiday retail sales, which include purchases made in November and December, to grow by as much as 4 percent, potentially reaching $682 billion — a significant amount of which will be made on and around Black Friday. 

But despite these numbers, the way that shoppers are approaching the event is changing, said Lars Perner, an expert in holiday shopping trends and professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. He explained that with many retailers offering deals in the days leading up to Black Friday, as well as afterward, the shopping frenzy will be spread out over a longer period, rather than concentrated on one day.  

“It’ll look more like Black Week, as opposed to Black Friday,” Perner said. “Thanksgiving also falls early this year, so the shopping season is a bit longer — and a few days can make a big difference.”  

Perner added that when it comes to in-store shopping, factors unique to Los Angeles, such as the city’s layout, will change which stores people choose to shop at.  

“It’s harder to drive in Downtown than in suburban areas that have malls, so there may be greater turnout in areas that are easier to access by car,” Perner said. “Downtown might be better for people seeking specialty shops.”  

And ongoing issues with in-store shopping on Black Friday itself, Perner said, may lead some people to stay at home altogether.  

“The hassle of shopping is going to continue to be an issue,” Perner said. “It’s a lot of work to get up early and go through long lines and crowds. And with so many opportunities to shop before and after [Black Friday], the incentive to shop on the day itself are greatly diminished.”

Black Friday shopping can be stressful 

The issues surrounding in-store shopping are in particularly sharp relief this year as major retailers like Sears, Macy’s JCPenney and Kmart have shuttered numerous locations across the country. By June of this year, 5,300 stores had already closed in 2017, according to retail think tank Fung Global Retail & Technology. 

But despite these trends, in-store shopping during the holiday season is far from dead. According to statistics from the International Council of Shopping Centers, 84 percent of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers still plan to spend at physical stores, mainly because of the unique deals being offered there. And 43 percent of shoppers plan to purchase online and pick up in-store, meaning that “omnichannel” retailers who build both their online and physical presence will benefit.  

“Consumer optimism this holiday season is reflected in how people are engaging in Black Friday,” Tom McGee, president and CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers, said in a press release. “We believe retailers who embrace omnichannel will see more success than their pureplay counterparts. What’s clear is shoppers are eager to hit the stores to kick-off a busy shopping season.” 

Perner added, however, that this year might start to reverse a trend seen in previous years — stores opening their doors to shoppers on Thanksgiving Day itself. Home Depot, Costco, Nordstrom and Marshalls are all expected to stay closed on Thanksgiving, according to industry tracker BestBlackFriday.com — leaving many to engage in online shopping only on Turkey Day. 

“It can be a bit of a release from tense moments” during the holiday, Perner said. “People also get bored on Thanksgiving.”  

New Fusion brings great food in traditional setting

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New Fusion

ARCADIA — Real Chinese food — not the kind you pick up at the take-out window — takes a certain amount of patience. But, at the end of a good multi-course meal, those who hung in for the whole deal will reap the rewards. 

The key is finding a restaurant that remains satisfying from start to finish. One place that does it for sure is New Fusion Restaurant in Arcadia, a Chinese restaurant that blends traditional fare from Hong Kong and Taiwan into tasty dishes that don’t disappoint. 

Take, for example, the Beijing Duck. This is a meal that is often difficult to pull off. The duck needs to be crispy and flavorful, the bao needs to be soft, and the plum sauce needs to be tangy. Miss any one of the keynotes and you’ve failed. Fortunately, New Fusion’s Beijng Duck alone is worth a visit. It hits the mark with aplomb so to speak.  

Another favorite is the lobster. Cooked to perfection and served with a creamy sauce and scallions, New Fusion creates a lobster meal that melts in the mouth, leaving behind a peppery tang and a lasting impression. 

The jasmine tea served here is authentic in its flavor and ability to make the meal more sensual — often times Chinese restaurants skimp on the tea and it becomes a boring mouth wash of no substance or flavor.   

For those who are a fan of new style Chinese Restaurants like Din Tai Fung, there are menu items at New Fusion which are served at DTF, but are pulled off in a more authentic and flavorful way. A good example would be the green beans they are cooked to a shriveled perfection and served with enough oil to make them tasty, but not too much oil to make them greasy. 

Other go to items on the menu include fried rice, curry beef (a speciality of the house), honey walnut shrimp and a spicy fried chicken that rivals anything from western Chicken houses like Popeyes or Louisiana Fried Chicken. If you are a fried chicken fan, you know exactly what I’m talking about here.  

One last — very interesting — thing about New Fusion. The restaurant has become a go-to spot in the Arcadia Chinese community for holiday turkey dinners. This is an important note for those Arcadia residents who want to wrongly believe they’ve lost their community to foreigners who refuse to speak the language or engage in the culture.   

To that one can say, you know a group has assimilated when whole families are ordering turkey and the fixings for the holidays. It’s a fact. 

Further proof? Yvonne Lam, one of the partners in the restaurant, says she expects to roast 200 turkeys this year — up from 100 in 2016. All will go to her loyal customers. 

“This is a growing trend” she said. “We do them in the traditional way.”  

New Fusion is busiest on the weekends and offers a variety of seating options from tables for four to traditional round tables for the family and VIP accommodations for those seeking privacy. The restaurant is located at 1227 South Baldwin Avenue in Arcadia and open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.  

For more information visit www.newfusionla.com, or call (626) 821-0899 

Pomona grandfather assaulted, grandson pleads guilty

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POMONA (CNS) – A 25-year-old man pleaded no contest today to breaking into his 82-year-old grandfather’s Pomona home and beating the octogenarian.

Sammeon Christian Waller — who pleaded no contest to one felony count each of elder abuse and first-degree burglary with a person present — is facing seven years in state prison when he is sentenced Dec. 6, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Police were sent June 9 to the victim’s home for a welfare check because the senior citizen had not been seen or heard from in several days. Pomona police Sgt. Brian Hagerty said officers “found the rear window of the residence smashed in and moaning sounds coming from inside the residence.”

The victim had suffered significant injuries to his body and was taken to a hospital for treatment, according to Deputy District Attorney Sandra Jimenez.

Police identified Waller as a possible suspect in the attack and he was taken into custody nine days later in Sacramento.

Augmented reality float brings Rose Parade into the future

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When the Rose Parade was first launched in the 19th Century, it showcased entertainment innovations that would define New Year’s Day for millions of Americans. 128 years later, the Rose Parade will take a leap into the future when it debuts its first ever float to use augmented reality.

“Rising Above,” sponsored by Arcadia-based Singpoli Capital Corporation and American BD Investment Group, will feature fully animated carp animatronics, waterfalls and mist effects. However, viewers both along the parade route and at home will be able to scan the float with a special app, designed by Pasadena developer Interactivism. From there, they’ll be able to interact with characters from the float, and follow along the classic Chinese tale of a fish who transforms into dragons.

“Rising Above” will join other parade regulars, such as Donate Life, Kiwanis International, Lions Club and many local cities. 39 floats have been announced so far, setting a high bar for Singpoli’s augmented reality float to beat.

“We want to strive for the best,” Singpoli CEO Kin Hui said at a Thursday press conference. “We think we can do better.”

augmented reality
Singpoli CEO Kin Hui said that although he was proud of his company’s previous Rose Parade entries, “Rising Above” represented a leap into the future.

Hui worked with veteran float designer and Paradiso Parade Floats Creative Director Charles Meier, who said that the story of the carp fighting against torrential waterfalls struck a chord with him. However, he said that transforming the carp into a dragon would prove difficult with conventional methods.

To solve the problem, Hui and Meier reached out to Interactivism, a digital product design agency in Pasadena. Interactivism developed an app that could scan the float, and provide additional animations. Those character animations can also feature in selfies that can be shared across social media platforms. Visitors to the float after the parade will be able to enjoy the experience.

“We wanted this experience to be more of a communal experience,” Interactivism Partner and Co-Founder Petra Wennberg Cesario said. “So you can interact with other people that are either on the parade route, or watching from home.”

Interactivism also made sure that users wouldn’t need clunky headsets or equipment, which can often prove a barrier to augmented reality. The app will be available at Singpoli’s augmented reality website for both Android and iOS, with instructions going live on Dec. 22. Cesario said that the app will be as easy to use as any phone’s camera.

Although the float is among the most futuristic ever to compete in the Rose Parade, Meier said that viewers at home shouldn’t expect every float to have augmented reality any time soon. Instead, “Rising Above” should be treated as a unique experience, and a potential introduction to augmented reality.

“It’s perfect for this story,” Meier said.

This article originally incorrectly referred to Interactivism as an “augmented reality startup.” They are a digital product design agency based in Pasadena.

Gas prices continue to drop after early Nov. increase

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Gas prices in Los Angeles County have continued to drop for the third day in a row, with the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Los Angeles County at $3.285 Thursday.

That price is 2.2 cents less than one week ago, but has yet to overcome the significant price increase that came with new gasoline taxes on Nov. 1. One month ago, gas was 22.5 cents cheaper on average, and a year ago, it was about 46.4 cents cheaper, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service.

The new tax, along with a host of new vehicle fees, is set to raise $5.24 billion annually for transportation projects.

“Safe and smooth roads make California a better place to live and strengthen our economy,” Governor Jerry Brown said in a news release earlier this year. “This legislation will put thousands of people to work.”

The Orange County average price dropped for the seventh time in eight days Thursday, decreasing 1.1 cents to $3.241. The average price is 3.3 cents less than one week ago but 21.8 cents more than one month ago and 43.1 cents higher than one year ago.

City News Service contributed to this report

Turkey giveaway saves holidays, thanks to Monterey Park’s Ed Chau

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Thanksgiving dinner is rarely cheap, with the average American family spending almost 50 dollars on turkey dinner, according to USA Today. For families living under the poverty line, that can pose an insurmountable burden.

But Wednesday, California Assemblymember Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park, did his part to help those families in need. At the Fifth Annual “Operation Gobble” Turkey Giveaway in Temple City, Chau distributed 200 turkeys to local charities and aid organizations, donated by the San Gabriel Valley Water Company and California American Water.

“Operation Gobble aims to shine a light on the issue of food inequality that affects many Californians, while supporting the organizations that are at the forefront of ending this inequality,” Chau said at the event.

Seven charitable organizations received a turkey this year. They were:

  • Asian Youth Center
  • Boys and Girls Club of Western San Gabriel Valley
  • Church of Our Savior
  • El Monte/South El Monte Emergency Resources Center
  • Kiwanis Club of Temple City
  • Home of Angels
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Greater El Monte Post 10218

Each organization will donate the turkeys to needy families within their areas of interest. For example, the Veterans of Foreign Wars will give their allotted turkeys to local veterans, while the Kiwanis Club will work with local schools to find families to donate to.

“It’s a great feeling to provide an opportunity for families in need,” California Water Association spokesman Brian Barreto said. “This is probably one of the best times of the year for a water utility to give back to the communities that we serve.”

Chau represents the 49th state Assembly District, which includes Alhambra, Arcadia, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Gabriel, San Marino Temple City and portions of El Monte, Montebello and South El Monte.

What Pasadena services will be open on Thanksgiving Day?

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Most Pasadena residents won’t be surprised to learn that City Hall, along with most City services, will be closed next Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving Day holiday. But there’s a few important exceptions to the closure that residents can rely on to be operating at full capacity over the holiday.

Pasadena Fire and Police departments will continue to be staffed for all patrol, jail, fire, paramedic and other emergency services.  Moreover, emergency phone numbers will continue operating as usual.

Residents and businesses with power emergencies can also call the Pasadena Water and Power Department at (626) 744-4673 for general service, and (626) 744-4138 for water-related emergencies.  Customer Service will be closed both days, but accounts will remain accessible by phone at (626) 744-4005 or online. The Municipal Services Payment Center at City Hall will be closed both days.

The Citizen Service Center will be closed Thanksgiving Day, but will be open to take your calls at (626) 744-7311 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 24. They’ll also be open on Saturday, Nov. 25.

Trash and recylcing services for Thanksgiving Day will occur on Friday, Nov. 24, and Friday’s collection will be on Saturday, Nov. 25.  No pickups for bulky items will be scheduled on Thanksgiving Day, but will resume Friday.

Pasadena Transit and Dial-A-Ride transportation programs will not operate on Thursday, Nov. 23, but will resume regular service on Friday, Nov. 24.  All parking meters are free and parking time limits will not be enforced on Thanksgiving Day. But police advised residents in an email Wednesday that all regular meter enforcement will resume on Friday, Nov. 24.  Violations for overnight parking restrictions, red curb parking and blocking fire hydrants will continue to be issued both days.

All Pasadena Public Library sites will close at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 22, and will be closed the following two days.  The City’s Permit Center and Payment Centers also will be closed both days.

All Recreation and Community Centers operated by the City’s Human Services and Recreation Department will be closed on both days, but all parks will be open for picnics, fun and play.  No site reservations are accepted for the holiday.

SWAT team surrounds Torrance house near elementary school

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TORRANCE — A Sheriff’s SWAT team in the South Bay surrounded a residence near a Torrance elementary school where a man suspected of firing shots at deputies was believed to be holed up.

Deputies from the sheriff’s Carson Station went to the 1000 block of West 222nd Street about 10:35 a.m. on a report of a person with a gun and were immediately met by gunfire. They took cover and were not injured, according to Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.

The suspect, a man about 50 years old, then allegedly aimed a handgun at a responding sheriff’s helicopter, but did not fire, according to Navarro-Suarez.
The man dropped the firearm and ran into a residence, prompting a man and a woman who were inside to flee the home, the deputy said. Neither was injured.

A SWAT team and crisis negotiators were called to the scene and began trying to bring the standoff to a peaceful conclusion, but by mid-afternoon, it was still ongoing, according to Navarro-Suarez, who said surrounding homes were evacuated.

The pistol that the suspect dropped was recovered, but it was unknown if there were additional firearms in the home, or if anyone else was inside with the suspect, she said. It was also not immediately clear if the suspect lives at the home where he was holed up.

As a precaution, authorities ordered the lockdown of nearby Meyler Street Elementary School, at 1123 W. 223rd St. Students were later taken to Stephen White Middle School, 22102 Figueroa St., where they could be picked up, according to the sheriff’s department.