Micro-news for CT 4601, Altadena, CA

Notice of Intent (to cancel Allied Waste Services)

posted by Jeremiah 1/17/2008 07:21:00 PM

For shame!

A little background. As many in this area will recall, about two or three years ago, BFI was bought out by Allied Waste Services. When it was still BFI, Athens Services came to town , offering a cheaper alternative, but rather than switch, I called up BFI and told them I had a lower offer. BFI promptly matched Athens' rate without argument. Ever since Allied Waste took over, they have been trying to sneak up my rate, but each time I have called and told them that Athens is cheaper, and they have (now grudgingly) acquiesced and matched Athens rate.

Allied Waste bills quarterly, and I being the techno-dweeb that I am, have them on automatic bill-pay service. As it seems, last quarter (the bill due in October) they raised my rate by $5.06. Upon receiving payment for the normal amount, they decided to threaten me with a $25 penalty if I did not square up with them.

I received that notice in December, but being a busy month with work and being December holiday season, I didn't open it until last weekend. By then I already had a second notice along side the first one informing me that I was now delinquent and that I now owed them the penalty. I resolved to call them this week and take issue with the charges, but before I got around to calling, I received the above threatening letter in today's mail.

Not only is this an issue of a mere $5.06, it is also transpiring before they have even waited for a complete billing cycle to elapse. Most other companies I've dealt with simply put any balance due on the next bill, as long as you don't abuse the situation. In this case, I've paid like clockwork (almost literally, given that it is paid automatically by a service).

They inform me in the letter, "This is your final opportunity to settle this matter quickly and amicably. Be assured that should you fail to comply with this request, we will take whatever steps are necessary to protect our interests. Should it be necessary to file suit, we will request prejudgment and postjudgement interest, court costs, and all additional attorney's fees incurred in the prosecution of such an action, as allowable by law."

And then in a brilliantly ironic closing, "Respectfully, Collections Department"

I don't know whether to laugh or go ballistic. Maybe it's some kind of prank being played on me for Candid Camera.

Already I was on the fence because of their repeated attempt to raise the price. The primary thing that was holding me back from switching was an assumption that Allied must do a better job of separating waste because they start out with it separated by making us do it and sending three trucks up the street. Athens only sends one truck, making a total of four huge garbage trucks on Stonehill every week. Some of the neighbors have already been casually lobbying me to switch to Athens to limit the number of big trucks on Stonehill. After a quick Google search for an Athens website, I found out that my reservations about post collection sorting seem to be unfounded. http://www.athensservices.com/materialrecovery.htm

I am now bound and determined to lobby everyone on Stonehill (and anyone who will listen for that matter) to dump Allied Waste.

Let's see. More expensive, more trucks, more cans to bang around the yard, and terrible (non-existent) customer service for the same end result. Seems like a no-brainer to dump Allied Waste Services.

One reservation I have heard from some other Allied Waste customers on Stonehill was about price. I currently pay $62/quarter and they evidently are trying to raise me to $67/quarter, which is still about $20 less than what Athens quoted me when I called them for rate information. They don't have any promotions to offer, even when I suggested that we might bring a group of people to the table.

Here is what Athens told me on the phone:

$29.25/month (bills quarterly for $87.75/quarter)

With Athens you provide your own cans and they allow up to six 35 gal. barrels. They ask you to put your garbage in separate cans from green waste and recycling.

Anyone 55 years or more gets a senior discount of 10% or $78.49/quarter

Allied Waste quoted me the following:

10 containers for trash (you provide) except select routes which have the large cans (Allied provides)

Separate containers for recycle and yard waste (Allied provides)

Three separate trucks for each type of material.

Standard rate is $24.50/month + taxes & fees = "About $90-$100/quarter". The customer service rep could not tell me how that was calculated or give me a precise quarterly cost.

Senior rate is $19.12/month + taxes & fees. The customer service rep could not give me an estimate of what this would amount to on a quarterly basis.

Extra charges for bulky items (anything that doesn't fit in trash can):
$27 for first two items and $11 each additional

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At 2/01/2008 10:49 PM, OpenID rcalvinsma said...

Dear Stonehill News Blogger:

You are not the only one having problems with Allied Waste. A dear friend of mine who lives in Altadena, and, who happens to be 101 years old, has received the same letter. Since Allied took over, they've stopped giving her the senior discount; they increase her rate almost every month; and they are now saying she didn't pay her last bill (for Nov, Dec, and Jan)..... even though she has the cancelled check to prove it.

This was her last week with them. She switched to Athens.

Good Luck to you!!

At 2/01/2008 10:50 PM, OpenID rcalvinsma said...

I meant quarter, not month. sorry!

At 3/28/2008 5:20 PM, Blogger a said...

i live in Altadena and i pay Allied $86.22 or so every quarter. The cost is similar to Athens so no real advantage in changing except if Athens has better service

At 3/30/2008 5:34 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

That's right. The price is so similar it boils down to service. It's the (lack of) good customer service that inspired me to undertake this whole drama. Since I've switched, I'll admit to missing the huge rolling trash can.

All other things being equal, I think I'd probably be inclined to pick Allied based on features. I discovered that they have an automatic payment option (subsequent to switching to Athens). This would prevent the $5 payment drama I experienced, and taken in combination with the big rolling bin, I'm seriously considering going back to Allied for the features and convenience, despite my bad (or more to the point, impersonal) experience with their bureaucracy. Frankly, I have no assurance that I won't get the same sort of red-tape snafu from Athens, who has an arguably inferior product for the same price, and with automatic bill payment, I frankly should never have to talk to or interact with either of them.

I'll post a follow up if I do switch back.

At 5/25/2008 5:10 PM, Blogger Palm Axis said...

I'd go with the company thats Union and pays it's workers a living wage. BFI payed less then half of what the city of L.A. pays it's trash collectors. With Athens you can pay the guys out of pocket to carry out heavy items.
I have enjoyed visiting your blog..

At 8/26/2008 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi I'm so glad I found your blog.... I am currently with athens and being hassled beyond belief including being charged for a huge container they say I had in front of my house for a week. This didn't happen and not i have a 300.00 + bill for something I didn't order and they can't proved I ordered etc... but they sure are sending me to collections.... THE THING is .... everyone is talking about allied as having taken over BFI but I'm with Athens and my statement is from ALLIED! Do they now own both BFI and athens???? God help us!

At 9/05/2008 12:29 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

I don't think Allied and Athens the same company (as you say, God help us!). If you're getting a bill from Allied, that's probably different from Athens. I'd call them for clarification if I were you. Please let us know if it turns out they are somehow joined together.

Also, FWIW, I did switch to Allied with the automatic deduction. It's worth it for me to have the large plastic residential bin on wheels.


PSN focus on Education

posted by Jeremiah 10/30/2007 02:40:00 PM

Pasadena Star News deserves credit (clicks and eyeballs) for giving us a dedicated Eduction section on their website to complement their new Tuesday section on the same subject.


This kind of substantial reporting about PUSD that goes beyond the scandal-du-jour is to be commended. Please vote with your clicks and visit it every week.

(One day maybe they'll even give us the Education article RSS feed I've been asking for)

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Pasadena Now: scooping the pulp press

posted by Jeremiah 9/14/2007 02:03:00 PM

I just read a Dormitas post in which s/he makes this aside: "This from Pasadena Now (the most consistent coverage of Pasadena news we have):"

I couldn't agree with Dormitas more.

Pasadena Now, the news organization that recently made the headlines by outsourcing journalism to India, seems to be scooping the old guard Pasadena pulp press.

Pasadena Now shows some technical rough edges, probably hallmarks of being a small operation. For examples, the fact that their home page CSS doesn't render properly on all browsers, and their Flash content throws non-fatal errors (see screen image above). At first I was dismissive of PN based on their lack of technical polish, but then Jill Davis Doughtie pointed out their Headlines RSS feed:


Of course I immediatly subscribed to the feed. I subscribe to the pulp version of Pasadena Star News (yes, I know; what other version is there?!) and have now grown accustomed I seeing an article in PSN, which I already read (often covered more thoroughly) the day before when it came across my PN feed. Not only is PN scooping PSN by a full day with great regularity, but PN has quality that strikes me as a generally more granular, relevant cross section of *dena issues than PSN.

Add to high quality, timely, Web-friendly reporting the fact that their links don't grow stale after a couple weeks like PSN's do, and you've got a friend in me.

You can find Pasadena Now at either http://pasadenanow.com/ or http://pasadenalivingmagazine.com/
(don't ask me why their name and their url are branded differently)

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At 9/14/2007 3:33 PM, Anonymous Aaron Proctor said...

I like Pasadena Now....but they do sometimes get "out-scooped" and credited for "scooping" by people who just didn't happen to be on the PSN website at, say, 2 in the morning.

Nice entry as always.

At 9/14/2007 4:31 PM, Anonymous Aaron Proctor said...

P.S. I ranted on that Peter Dreier article in the P-Dub on my blog.

At 9/14/2007 4:33 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Yeah, I read that. Nice one :P

At 9/14/2007 4:38 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

PS: AP's rant in case you were wondering is at www.proctorformayor.com/2007/09/14/ scroll to second post. LOLZ the Bee Gees picture!

At 9/14/2007 4:44 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Oh, and re: scooping? Posting at 2am, even if it is a scoop, is not a scoop if there is no feed to "deliver" it. Right now, we have to wait for the pulp to plop. NOTE TO LARRY WILSON AND PSN AT LARGE: PLEASE OFFER RSS HEADLINES

At 9/17/2007 12:46 PM, Anonymous Aaron Proctor said...

Thanks for having Kelli and I over on Friday!

Just minutes before Sock On Madison began!

At 9/17/2007 1:00 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

It was a pleasure. We must do it again sometime soon.

At 4/26/2008 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note that when the brush fire over at Chantry Flat was clearly visible to everyone in Pasadena after 3pm today, the Pasadena Star-News site had a report by half an hour later (3:38pm); as far as I can tell Pasadena Now still has nothing. For this neighborhood, that sort of thing is obviously of some importance.

At 4/27/2008 1:59 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Very true. I've also noticed that their RSS feed is still broken, making them essentially irrelevant for me. It's been down for a long time.


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Proctor Coming Back

posted by Jeremiah 7/24/2007 10:36:00 PM

My favorite politician, Aaron Proctor, has announced his return to Pasadena after two months in exile in St. Louis. Yeah!


See you in August!

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At 7/25/2007 7:46 AM, Anonymous AP said...

Thanks for your kind words!

At 7/25/2007 1:56 PM, Anonymous AP said...

So when I get back, we're hanging out?

At 7/25/2007 2:14 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

Love to :) We can swap notes on growing up in the Philly suburbs. Am I invited to the gala reception upon your return?

At 7/25/2007 2:49 PM, Anonymous AP said...

There's no gala planned yet. :-) But if there is, of course you're invited.

And yeah, swapping Philly stories would be fun.

Honestly - I want to check out your house..all the way up there..must be awesome.


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Will Instant Runoffs Trickle Down to PUSD?

posted by Jeremiah 7/09/2007 09:22:00 PM

This article caught my eye today:

Senate committee considers bill allowing instant-runoff voting

By STEVE LAWRENCE - Associated Press Writer

Published 12:10 pm PDT Sunday, July 8, 2007

Voters could express their first, second, third, fourth and maybe even more choices in local government elections under legislation scheduled to be considered this week by a state Senate committee.

Read the full story here:

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At 7/10/2007 4:12 AM, Blogger BROKEN LADDER said...

IRV survives on common myths that are perpetuated by IRV propaganda groups, like FairVote.org. The truth is that better and simpler methods than IRV exist - and IRV is lethal to third parties, because voting for a non-major-party candidate is statistically more likely to hurt you than help you. The world needs Range Voting or its simplified form of Approval Voting. Here's why.

Consider this hypothetical election using IRV.

% of voters - their vote
28% "Green" > Edwards > McCain
20% Edwards > "Green" > McCain
6% Edwards > McCain > "Green"
46% McCain > Edwards > "Green"

In this IRV election, Edwards is eliminated in the first round, and then McCain wins against "Green". But wait! 54% of voters prefer Edwards to McCain - and 72% prefer Edwards to "Green"! Yet Edwards loses? The Greens now slap themselves on the forehead for not strategically top-ranking Edwards, the most similar major party candidate to their true favorite.

IRV sounds initially appealing, because people picture a weak third party candidate who loses in the first round. The myth is that this takes away the fear of voting for your sincere favorite candidate, and gives third parties a fair chance to grow; but if that candidate or his party ever grows to be a contender, he is statistically more likely to hurt the party closest to his own than to win. It doesn't matter how unlikely you imagine the above scenario to be - it's still _more_ likely than the odds "Green" will win. And so third party voters will learn to strategically vote for their favorite major-party candidate. You don't have to buy my math; you can look at decades of IRV usage in Australia's house, and Ireland's presidency. Both use IRV, and have been two-party dominated. So much for the myths that IRV allows you to "vote your hopes, not your fears", and eliminates spoilers. Now we know why the Libertarian Reform Caucus calls IRV a "bullet in the foot" for third parties.

Electoral reform advocates (especially third parties!) should be demanding Range Voting - score all the candidates and elect the one with the highest average. Its simplified form, Approval Voting, is probably the most feasible to implement. It simply uses ordinary ballots, but allows us to vote for as many candidates as we like. Consider the benefits:

* Spoiler free: Whereas IRV merely _reduces_ spoilers
* Simpler to use and implement: A simple one-round summation tells us the results, whereas IRV's potential for multiple rounds can cause long delays before the final results are determined. A side-effect of Range Voting's simplicity is that it makes the necessary transition away from voting machines more feasible. IRV's complexity leads most communities implementing it to purchase expensive and fraud-conducive (electronic!) voting machines, the fraudster's best friend.
* More resistant to strategy: As we see above, IRV often strategically "forces" voters not to top-rank their sincere favorite. But with Range Voting and Approval Voting, this _never_ happens. A vote for your favorite candidate can never hurt you, or the candidate. With IRV it can hurt both.
* Decreases spoiled ballots: Since voting for more than one candidate is permissible, the number of invalid ballots experimentally goes down with Range and Approval Voting. But here in San Francisco, we saw a seven fold increase in spoiled ballots when we started using IRV.
* Greater voter satisfaction: Using extensive computer modeling of elections, a Princeton math Ph.D. named Warren D. Smith has shown that these methods lead to better average satisfaction with election results, surpassing the alternatives by a good margin. But IRV turns out to be the second _worst_ of the commonly proposed alternatives. This mean that all voters will benefit from the adoption of either of these superior voting methods, regardless of political stripe.
* Reduces the probability of ties: While they are not extremely common, they do happen. IRV statistically increases them, but Range Voting decreases them.

Get the facts at RangeVoting.org and ApprovalVoting.org

And if you're in the market for a better system of proportional representation than the antiquated STV system, check out Reweighted Range Voting and Asset Voting.


At 7/10/2007 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

IRV in fact survives on a track record of success, popularity with voters and support from groups like the League of Women Voters. It's endorsed by Robert's Rules of Order, used by more than half of the nation's top-rated 30 universities and used to elect the president of India, American Political Science Association and India. Voters in exit polls in the three most recent cities to implement it expressed overwhelming support averaging more than 4 to one backing of IRV over their old system.

"Broken Ladder" is a broken record, advocating reforms that aren't used in any public election and probably won't be any time soon -- one reason being they run counter against common sense definitions of majority rule Check out www.instantrunoff.com for more


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See you soon Aaron Proctor

posted by Jeremiah 6/15/2007 08:33:00 AM

Well, I'm just aggregating the news, so you may have already heard, but Aaron Proctor is taking a leave of absence from our community. He says he'll be back soon.

Even though I don't know him well, I will sincerely miss his contribution to local politics. Aaron has the unique ability to do his civic duty with a terrific sense of humor, and local politicians would do well to learn from Aaron's pure heart. Most people could not pull off his unique style and natural sense of humor, but everyone can learn from his integrity and sincerity.

Come back soon, Aaron. We need you in Pasa/Altadena politics. It's too predictable and boring without you!

Jeremiah (and Fiona)


Thanks For The Night
Published by Aaron Proctor June 15th, 2007

I just wanted to thank everyone who has shown their friendship and support - not only in the past few trying weeks but in the past few months and the past year as well.

This is going to be a challenging and sometimes troubling time for me but I appreciate the well-wishes and the love.

Confused yet? :-) Well, if you haven’t heard by now, I’ve formally resigned from the Human Relations Commission because I’ve temporarily relocated to another area of the United States due to losing my job and, subsequently, my apartment in Pasadena.

I thank you all for being such rockin’ people.

Stand & Deliver for life.

- Aaron


Proctor leaves Pasadena
Eccentric former mayoral candidate garnered attention
By Kenneth Todd Ruiz Staff Writer
Article Launched: 06/14/2007 09:10:10 PM PDT

PASADENA - There will be a little less snickering over the local political scene with the departure of its biggest fan and unlikeliest participant.

Cakey eyeliner and a Goth-rock aesthetic drew attention to Aaron Proctor's mayoral bid as the only candidate this spring against Bill Bogaard.

But his brief political stagecraft ended this week with a consistently atypical admission: He was broke and leaving the state to move back in with his parents in Missouri.

"I lost my job, and I lost my apartment. I didn't really have a choice," Proctor said by telephone Wednesday from a highway rest stop in Tucamcari, New Mexico. "I didn't really want to become homeless, you know?"

Drawing attention was one thing Proctor did well.

Although his mayoral campaign didn't convince, or given his $7 war chest, reach many voters, the 25-year-old garnered attention after his electoral loss in March by turning his campaign Web site, proctorformayor.com, into a blog for his irreverent take on members of the political establishment.

Among his sometimes acerbic - but mostly silly - commentaries, he famously described Bogaard as "170 years old," made a tribute video to "sexy" Councilman Steve Haderlein and ridiculed Councilman Victor Gordo's references to his days on Pasadena High School's football team.

"He's the self-proclaimed king of self-promotion," said Robin Salzer, former candidate for District 1's council seat and frequent victim of Proctor's polemics. "We talked after the election; I have no beef with Aaron."

Actually he does.

Although Proctor may be gone from Pasadena, he will live on at Salzer's restaurant in east Pasadena.

As a patty melt.

Arriving on the menu of Robin's Wood Fire BBQ & Grill as "The Noticeable One," his stage name during a former career promoting professional wrestling, is something of a political arrival for Proctor, who will be featured alongside sandwiches dedicated to members of the City Council.

Ultimately, Proctor's appetite for attention seemed to temper his rhetoric - he made up with Salzer and was less critical of Bogaard after the mayor appointed him to the Human Relations Commission after the election.

His departure leaves the mayor with that seat to fill.

Once he's re-established himself, Proctor vowed to come back to Pasadena.

Meanwhile, he'll still have the Internet to keep tabs on the Pasadena scene.

"I don't know who's going to make fun of Victor Gordo, but it's not like I'm going to stop following things," Proctor said. "I'm hardly interested in St. Louis politics."


(626) 578-6300, Ext. 4444


At 6/15/2007 7:39 PM, Anonymous Aaron Proctor said...

Thank you for your kind words. I will never forget the day I met you and your beautiful daughter at the bus stop.

I'm going to miss Pasadena a lot. I found work rather quickly out here (hey - it's only my first full day in the STL!) so I'm going to be saving every penny and sending money to my girlfriend so we can find an apartment back there. So, even though I may not return to Pasadena but some other area of Los Angeles, I will always care deeply and follow intensely the trials and tribulations of the Crown City.

My only regret is that I didn't make more real friends and less "acquaintances". I wish I knew someone who would have been kind enough to let me stay on their couch while I found a job. It would have been a lot easier. But, c'est lat vie. And I guess it's nice to spend an extended visit with my parents whom I haven't seen in a few years.

Thanks for being such an awesome person.

Your friend,



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Snail-mail Spam?

posted by Jeremiah 2/10/2006 09:27:00 AM

If you're like me, the unruly circulars full of ads and coupons that show up in your real mail box bother you almost as much as their modern equivalent in your email inbox or your fax machine. The good news is, the "real" spam costs the sender money, unlike email spam which is "free" or fax spam where the spammer actually steals your supplies to advertise to you.

I have had a surprisingly easy time getting in touch with the senders to remove my address from their lists. I decided to tear off the address portion and contact portion of all the junk mail circulars that arrived in January. I discarded all duplicates and came up with four publishers so far.
Advo publishes Shopwise
They have a web form. I filled this out and promptly received a confirmation postcard informing me that it could take 6-8 weeks to be purged from the system, and that the removal was good for five years, at which time I assume I will have to remove myself again.

LA Times publishes Local Values
They have a removal instructions on their website which state:
To discontinue delivery of your Local Community Values, contact Customer Service, (626) 472-5242.

Penny Saver is it's own publisher
They give out a subscription department phone number from the automated phone tree at their Customer Comments line: (800) 422-4116

Cox Target Media publishes ValPak
They have a web form.
Note: I called Penny Saver first (in December) and left removal instructions. Their outgoing message states that it takes them 2-3 weeks to purge you from their system, but I was still receiving their circular five or six weeks later. I called the same number and requested that someone call me back with a confirmation, which they did. I was told that they took me off on my first request, but that they use an "address card" that is separate from the circular. She told me that I am certainly not receiving that, and I should "inform the mailman" to stop delivering the circular. I taped a little note on the inside of my mailbox door addressed to Letter Carrier. We'll see if that works.

If I identify more publishers in our area, I'll update this list.

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At 4/16/2006 9:03 PM, Anonymous Geoffrey Baum said...

Thanks! This was very helpful information. I've filled out the forms already.

At 12/29/2006 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "Local values" circulars are published by the local newspaper. In San Diego the Union-tribune does this and the contact information to be removed is 619-293-1544.

At 8/24/2009 7:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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Altadena Web Links

posted by Jeremiah 9/15/2004 07:56:00 PM

Great place for gifts
Created by local talent

The Underground Arts Society
Featuring monthly gallery openings with local artists
Located at
2473 N. Lake Ave (Accross from Webster's)

Calendar, Advice & Tips for Busy Families
in the
San Gabriel Valley

Calendar listings for kids

A neighborhood website serving the far northwest parts of

Altadena Foothills Conservancy
The Altadena Foothills Conservancy was founded to preserve and restore open, undeveloped land and associated trails and historic structures in the foothills of

Eaton Canyon Nature Center
Unfortunately bad web design, but useful information :)

Altadena Town Council
The Altadena Town Council is a forum instituted by the citizens of unincorporated Altadena to present a unified voice to Los Angeles County Supervisor (5th Supervisorial District) and County government. Its sixteen representatives and eight alternates are elected by the residents of each of eight respective census tracts.

Altadena Mountain Rescue
The Altadena Mountain Rescue Team is one of the oldest search and rescue organizations. Staffed by reserve deputies (all volunteer), it's goals are saving lives through mountain rescue and safety education. Headquartered at the Altadena Sheriff's Station, the team is operational 24 hours each day, 365 days every year.

Farnsworth Park Concert Schedule
In the amphitheater Farnsworth Park
Lake Avenue
at Mount Curve in beautiful Altadena
All performances begin at 7 p.m.
(Note: not all evenings are Saturday)

Altadena Library
Special events as well as information services including online databases and the "Ask Now" service. Ask questions and get answers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This reference service is staffed by California Librarians

Jet Propulsion Laboratory Kids
"Welcome to the
Space Place!
Come on in and check out our games, animations, projects, and fun facts about Earth, space and technology."

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