The First Nerd-O-Rama

Promoters billed it as “the ultimate test of computer greatness,” as “the world’s first digital duel” and as “a bit of byting combat.”

The Computer Bowl, held Friday evening in Boston, pitted five computer industry gurus from the East Coast against five from the West who answered questions like: Which of these is not a computer: Maniac, Brainiac or Illiac? (Answer: Brainiac.)

The panels featured such luminaries as Lotus Development founder Mitch Kapor for the East and PC World publisher David Bunnell for the West. In the end, the West lost.

“People in the East study harder and read more,” said Bunnell afterward. “Out West, we’re just too busy being successful and making money . . . Since we knew we were smarter, we failed to take the contest seriously enough. While they crammed, we sat in our hot tubs. But next time.”


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Burritos Take Wing

For most homesick Southern Californians living out of state, the two most popular complaints are humid summers and the lack of good Mexican food. Well, they can’t do anything about the weather, but wayward Californians can call Burrito Express.

Burritos Express, a Mexican food stand in Pasadena, ships overnight its Burrito Express Air Pack--two chicken, beef and pork burritos--anywhere in the United States for $30.48. Lila Cuadra, who with her husband, Victor, has run the stand for 10 years, said customers kept asking them to freeze burritos to send out of state. The couple started offering the service about two years ago after they sold 60 burritos to the California Congressional Society in Washington.


Lila Cuadra, who said the stand now receives three to five orders a day for the Air Pack, says burritos lend themselves well to shipping. “We found that they freeze really well.”

Spiral Staircase on Move

The new, nine-story San Francisco Centre “vertical” mall near famous Union Square doesn’t yet have many stores to rival its retailing counterpart. But it has something Union Square doesn’t: six spiral escalators.

The $3-million moving steps, which are fairly common in Japan, are the first in North America. Engineered and installed by Mitsubishi Elevator Co. of Cypress, they made their debut in the mall Friday with the opening of a splashy, 336,000-square-foot Nordstrom store.

When a visitor remarked that escalator repairs might prove time-consuming and costly, Kay Draisin, director of operations for mall developer Gordon Co., said: “Mitsubishi is very anxious to make this work. They basically live in the basement.”

Skiing on Goldmine

Southland skiers have lost a gold mine but gained a mountain.

Ski Ltd., which operates Vermont’s Mount Snow and Killington resorts, has taken over Goldmine Ski Area atop the eastern San Bernardino Mountains, renaming it Bear Mountain to emphasize its location overlooking Big Bear Lake.


So far, the new operators have pumped $9 million into reshaping the mountain to improve slopes, broaden trails and expand snow-making capability.

While targeting the state’s leading ski areas as its chief competitors, Ski Ltd. will have to prove itself first against its neighbor to the west, Ski Summit.

It Helps if You Laugh

Assessing real estate can make you lose your sense of humor, as Los Angeles County Assessor John J. Lynch, a veteran of many well-publicized disputes, knows. But Lynch’s newest public relations director, Robert Knowles, is trying to keep his, and spread chuckles along the way. Knowles, a reporter for 20 years with both the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and the Daily News before joining Lynch, passes out business cards to the media listing his title as directing “flack/damage control.” Why? “It’s just something that shows we don’t take ourselves too seriously around here,” Knowles explains. “Sometimes I wear a yellow flack control hard hat.”