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NEIGHBORS : Music Lesson : The Cal Lutheran choir gets a different perspective of the Persian Gulf War while on tour in Germany.


Remember the 45-member choir from Cal Lutheran University that was going to Germany? Well, they arrived safely. University officials contacted them about their well-being just before the start of the war in the Persian Gulf, and the group has received approval to remain on tour.

Quite understandably, choir director James Fritschel said last week from Hamburg that there has been "a certain amount of tenseness and uneasiness."

"I think, in any kind of situation like this, it's always more comforting and comfortable to be at home," he said. "But on the other hand, it is fascinating to be elsewhere."

Fritschel said he is seeing the war from a different perspective than he would have at home. "We're seeing it in a nation that knows war more intimately than we do. I think, because they know war more, they are more anxious about it."

The director said choir members were traveling on their own bus and, for the most part, staying in private residences, so they felt more secure than if they were more in public. He also said the group's concerts are going on as planned.

"The war doesn't affect the ability to perform. It does sometimes gives a little different slant to some of the texts that we're singing," he said. "We're singing a piece called 'Gott Est Liebe,' which means 'God Is Love.' "

So where did employees of Patagonia Inc. fly off to Tuesday for a mini company retreat? To Patagonia, of course, at the southern tip of South America.

Kevin Sweeney, spokesman for the environmentalist outdoor clothing company, said the trip was designed to remind employees of their roots. He said it's particularly important for those working abroad.

"The company is getting big, and there are cultural differences and differences in miles," Sweeney said. "If people understand the philosophy of the company, they can run the business the way they want to."

And, almost as importantly, the weather there is nice. "There's great outdoor conditions for underscoring this philosophy," Sweeney said.

Read any good lamb shanks lately? This may be your chance.

The new Newbury Park branch of the Thousand Oaks Library, which opened last weekend, is in a shopping center location formerly occupied by a Ralphs supermarket.

And it wasn't all that easy a conversion for the folks who designed the new place. They had to do things like arrange the bookshelves at about a 25-degree angle to the front door to make best use of existing lighting.

"The building is rectangular, but the interior plan is twisted," said Andrew Althaus, project manager for Behr-Browers Partnership, the architectural firm that designed the library.

The building has been so radically changed that library patrons will hardly be aware that they are picking out books in the same place they used to pick out ears of corn, Althaus said.

"The entire interior of it was demolished," he said. "You can't really say the freezer section is now the librarian's office."

Anyone who has heard the answering machine at the Hedrick residence in Moorpark recently is aware of the good news. Two-year-old Ryan Hedrick has won an adorable baby contest.

Actually, he placed third in the Johnson & Johnson Adorable Baby Photos Contest, beating out thousands of other entrants from all over the country. For his efforts, Ryan received an $8,000 college scholarship and a page in the 1991 Adorable Babies Calendar.

And how has he reacted to his sudden fame? "He's kind of embarrassed by it," said his mother, Victoria. "First, when he saw the picture in the calendar, he tried to pretend it was his little brother."

Ryan is Mr. April.

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