Broken little hearts at Dennis the Menace Playground

There is a popular playground in Monterey’s El Estero Park called Dennis the Menace Playground — named after the comic strip character.

P1080030

The creator of Dennis the Menace, cartoonist Hank Ketchum was a local and lived in Pebble Beach, California until his death in 2001, at 81 years old.

More about this park on the graphic below from the Monterey city website…

Story of Dennis the Menace Park

Part of the park’s attraction is a real train steam engine, located at the playground entrance.

My grandchildren have always called this park the “choo choo train” park, and love to climb inside and play around the train steam engine.

We always kept a close eye on them, and when they were smaller, accompanied them up the steps and around the structure.

These days, this is what you will see if you visit the train steam engine…

Boy looking at fenced off train web

…a fenced off area, and one disappointed little kid after another staring at the train.

The city’s explanation for the closure is below…

Steam Engine train closedBoy leaving fenced off steam engine webIf they have never played inside of it, it probably does not matter, they are just curious.  But if the kids are accustomed to playing inside (like my grandchildren), then they’ll be a bit brokenhearted after learning of the closure.

Despite the train steam engine area closure, there is a lot do in the wonderful playground, so it is still definitely worth a visit.

The playground is next to a lake (and an easy walk to the beach), and there are also paddle boats if you want to spend time on the lake itself.  More information here.

The climbing structure next to the train is a good place for kids to expend energy and get exercise.

I spent many years in the insurance industry so I understand liability issues and the reason for fencing off the steam engine area…but that does not make it easier to explain when my grandchildren ask “why did they close it, Lola…why can’t we go inside… like before?”

Train Stem Engine at playground

Do you think we are overprotective of children in our modern society?

If you have children or grandchildren, would you allow them to play in this train steam engine, within the confines of a park playground?

The Iceberg in Monterey County’s field of greens

Iceberg Lettuce

Head of Iceberg lettuce growing in the field

A few months after immigrating to the U.S. with my mother and younger sister, I had my first job — and it included cutting into plenty of iceberg lettuce heads.

I was 16 years old and my job was a waitress at a chain of family style restaurants in Portland, Maine. Part of my work was to do simple food preparation, and to restock the salad bar.

The kitchen manager showed me how she wanted the Iceberg prepared… “Cut it this way, and include the core — people like to eat that” she said.

The iceberg lettuce was what you started with, the base of what you piled everything else on to, at the restaurant’s salad bar.

Because it was 1979, the salad bar consisted of potato “salad”, macaroni “salad”, 3-bean “salad” and other items like sliced beets (from the can), tomatoes, croutons, crackers, eggs and a variety of dressing.  It is nothing like what you would see today at buffet restaurant salad bars, where there are always more than one lettuce option — and at least some spinach leaves!

At 16, I didn’t give much thought to where the Icebergs (or really any vegetables) were grown.  But I’m pretty sure the Iceberg lettuce I was cutting into — especially since it was the start of winter in Maine — likely came from the Salinas Valley in Monterey County, California.

Field of Greens

I’ve lived in a few places in the U.S. (and Germany) since we left Maine many years ago, and now live in Monterey County.

Besides the beautiful coast of central California, a prominent feature of the landscape here are the farm fields.

Salinas Valley Fields web

Monterey County is an agricultural powerhouse and the only county in the United States with more than $1 Billion in annual vegetable sales.

As you can imagine, growing this much of anything means this place is enveloped in farm fields.

Field of Greens 2

There are farm fields next to schools, near shopping centers, neighborhoods, and on both sides of Highway 101 heading south of the county, if you are driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

There are also farm fields surprisingly close to the ocean, where expanses of sandy soil — some of which were once wetland areas — were turned into farm fields.

Sand Dunes across field of iceberg Lettuce

The most valuable crops grown here are lettuce leaves (for bag salads or packages of mix greens) and lettuce heads.

Lettuce grows well in sandy soil, and cool, mild weather…and yes, indeed, we have lots of sandy soil, and very mild weather here, perfect conditions to grow lettuce.

Although the potential of the land in this area as fertile farmland was discovered in the 1860’s, commercial farming did not take off until the expansion of the Southern Pacific railroad lines.

Starting in 1875, Chinese laborers who came with the railroad expansion worked to drain lakes and swamps in the valley, creating 500 acres of arable farmland in and around Salinas.

A few weeks ago, I went to the Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge (under management of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).  To get to the refuge, you have to drive on a dirt road that ends at the refuge parking lot, facing the Pacific Ocean.

Both sides of the dirt road have farm fields.  Since I’m always curious about what grows in farm fields, I pulled over to take a look…

Field of iceberg Lettuce 2

The fields were filled with rows upon rows of Iceberg lettuce.  I didn’t think people still ate Icebergs, especially now that there are so many more salad greens available in the market.

When my daughter was young, I opted to buy romaine or other types of lettuce after I learned that icebergs were composed mostly of water, and had the least amount of vitamins compared to other lettuce varieties.

Truck with boxes of produce

Truck loaded with boxes of lettuce

But it turns out that Americans still love their Icebergs!

Through writing this post, I learned that of the 35 pounds of lettuce that a typical American eats per year, most of it (about 22 pounds) is the Iceberg variety.

A press release from Salinas based produce company Tanimura and Antle had these interesting Iceberg lettuce facts:

  • The Iceberg was also called “crisphead lettuce” because of its ability to stay fresher longer than leaf lettuces
  • The name “Iceberg” comes from the way the lettuce was packed and transported on ice, making the heads look like icebergs.
  • Records indicate that the first carlot shipment of Iceberg was made in 1919 and took 21 days to reach New York from California.
  •  By 1931, 20,000 railcars were shipped annually. In 1950, over 11.5 million crates of Iceberg was grown, packed and shipped in Monterey County, California
  • California produces approximately 72% of the Iceberg lettuce grown in the U.S, and the Iceberg variety accounts for 70% of the lettuce raised in California
  • Depending on the time of year Iceberg is planted, it takes anywhere from 70 to 130 days from planting to harvest.

So…although the Iceberg’s popularity is dropping, it is still more popular than the Romaine type lettuce (a favorite for those who like “Caesar” salads — like my daughter) and other salad greens.

I suppose because it is a  mild tasting lettuce (not bitter), and stays fresh longer than other varieties, it is understandable why it is still a favorite for many salad eaters.

Field of Greens 1

You never have to tell my grandson Gabriel to eat his salad — he is known in the family as the salad lover.  He is only 8, but as long as I can remember, he will usually ask for a second serving of salad, which made me think that my grandsons’ had palates from another planet.

Do you still eat Iceberg lettuce?  If not, what type of lettuce typically makes it to your lunch plate or dinner table?

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NOTE: This post is part of learning about, and understanding the soil where I live (2015 is the International Year of Soils — designated by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations) See this post from  http://justanothernatureenthusiast.org/2015/04/19/unless-earth-friendly-friday-soil/ for more information.  I’m also learning more about what remains of the wetlands in the area, as I read that 90% of the area’s wetlands were drained for commercial farming purposes.

Related: If you would rather grow than buy your lettuce, visit the University of Illinois “Watch your Garden Grow” website for tips about growing lettuce, best varieties for your region, and recipes.

Radio report at NPR on food waste and “Landfill of Lettuce” (What happens to salad past its prime)

WPC: Paddles and Spirit Afloat

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Afloat” — a theme that can be interpreted in a myriad of ways (as is usually the case for these challenges, and what makes it so fun to participate).

An obvious choice from my photo collection were kayaking shots.  I remembered my photograph of this group of stand-up paddlers heading out from Moss Landing in Monterey County, California…

Stand Up Paddlers web

I also had photographs of Jeff kayaking at nearby Elkhorn Slough.  One time, I asked when he thought he would get done, so that our grandchildren and I could meet him at the launch area.

web Jeff with the ever present Western Greebe 1

We spotted him from where he launched at Kirby Park…along with a grebe — a type of migrating water bird that also makes its home on the Pacific coast.

What is funny is the grebe seemed to always be near him, even as he paddled close to shore.

web Jeff and the ever present Western Greebe 1

web Jeff and the ever present Western Greebe

web Jeff and the ever present Western Greebe 2

What I like about these photos is that it captured a state of being happy…maybe feeling afloat, in the moment and free of any other distractions.

web Spirit Afloat with grandchildren 2

These photos to me reflect a literal “afloat” because of the kayak in the image, but more important is the spirit being afloat, of his joy at seeing our grandchildren after the kayak ride on the slough.

More about Elkhorn Slough on the post for the photo challenge theme “Depth” about the California King Tides Project (sea level rise).

WPC: What’s not to love about the color ORANGE?

The theme for the WordPress Photo Challenge this week is orange

From Michelle W…

What’s not to love about orange? It’s vibrant. It’s cheerful. It makes a statement. It’s the perfect punctuation for a punchy photo.

This week, share a group of photos where orange is either the dominant color, or provides a bold highlight. Shoot for at least three photos, and look for different shades — bright neons, deep rusts, delicate peaches.

I didn’t realize how many photos I had with orange colors until this theme…and some with no “home”, so for this challenge, I’m going for orange-themed collages.

I’ll start with turban squash and pumpkin photos, including my little ninja costumed grandsons (playing the part) by their Halloween pumpkins…

Orange hues from the Moss Landing Antique Fair, where you will find anything from Bakelite (an early form of plastic) bracelets to Pez candy dispensers…

And it’s always easy to spot orange hues at the Farmers Market, and I’m so happy when fall comes and crunchy Fuyu persimmons are in season…

My grandsons ran their first 3K race at the Just Run program, the day before the International Big Sur Marathon last year, and there were a LOT of orange there!

Here they are with their teachers at the Pacific Grove starting / ending points.  Their teachers coordinated the program for their school last year…

Orange seems to be a big theme in my grandsons’ clothing, especially when I want to keep track of them at crowded places, like during visits to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (included in this collage is an orange hued sea anemone at the aquarium)…

At an annual Labor Day parade, my grandsons’ Taekwondo school marched near the Monterey Korean Community contingent, where there were plenty of orange found in the costumes.  The last photo is of then “orange belt” Gabriel waiting for instruction before demonstrating a board break at a festival, after the parade…

I posted these jellyfish photos for the Earth-Friendly Friday challenge on severe weather and wildlife well being (about jellyfish blooms)

And finally, the last batch of this orange-fest are some of my orange hued sunset photos, starting with a sunset with the Golden Gate Bridge at the background, to one taken from home…

Whew!  That is a lot of orange themes, and a whole lot more than what Michelle suggested…but somehow I feel better at posting photos from my digital library that otherwise may have been forgotten.

To see other entries and interpretations on the photo theme orange, click here.

WPC – Martial Arts Black Belt Reward

The theme for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge from Krista is Reward.

Reward is filthy with possibility: it could be your third grader’s beaming smile after reading her first chapter book, a steaming mug of chicken soup after a long run in the cold, a photo of your brand-new baby — your reward for patience during nine months of construction, or your extended family gathered around the dinner table.

Jun White BeltJun, my oldest grandson, started taking Taekwondo – a martial art that originated in Korea over 2,000 years ago and an Olympics sport  — when he was 5 years old.

In the span of time that he has taken Taekwondo classes, I probably have thousands of photos of him…and the one at right was taken for his first day of class, as a “white belt”.

Over the years, I’ve watched him learn and memorize his poomsaes (the forms learned for each belt level), learn advancing degrees of self-defense techniques, sparring, and grow from a shy to a more confident young man.

So the reward for his dedication and our  family’s support of his martial arts lessons?

Last summer, shortly before his 10th birthday, he received his black belt.

Black Belt Ceremony

Above and below, part of the invitation to the Black Belt Graduation Ceremony…Invite TKD GraduationBlack Belt Ceremony.jpg 1Black Belt Ceremony 2

Black Belt Ceremony 3

Jun at TKD Competition

The black belt itself is a reward for sticking with martial arts training, and to understand that practice and dedication makes you better.

My hope is that my grandson will continue to learn that anything you put your effort and focus in, over time, will have its own rewards….beyond a belt color.

Can you tell how proud I am of this young person?

To see interpretation for this WordPress blogging community weekly photo challenge, click here.

Grandsons handsome (or pretty) in pink for the Korean New Year

Is there a large Asian community near where you live celebrating the Chinese New Year today?

Here in the Monterey Peninsula, there is a large Korean-American community and they also celebrate the Chinese or lunar calender new year.  It is typically a family holiday, with some Koreans dressing up in colorful traditional Korean clothing called hanbok.

Last year, when my grandchildren were taking Korean language classes, I was surprised to see them and their classmates dressed up in colorful traditional clothes when I picked them up — until it I realized it was the Korean New Year.

Children in Korean traditional dress for lunar new year

I thought is was an adorable tradition, and especially that the boys wore pink!  So of course, I have to post these photos.

The children ate traditional food served for the Korean New Year day.

Boys in Korean traditional dress for lunar new year

The boys line up with their traditional Korean garb for the new year.  My grandson Jun-Yong at left, in blue top and pink bottom, and grandson Gabriel (his Korean name “Moon-Yong”)  at far right.  They boys look handsome in their hanbok, even in that soft pink color, don’t you think?

There is a large Chinese population in the Philippines, and today is celebrated as a special, non-working holiday.

The U.S. cities with the largest Chinese-American population outside of Asia is New York, followed by San Francisco.  In San Francisco’s Chinatown community, the annual — and always grand — Chinese New Year Parade and festivities  is scheduled on Saturday, March 7th.

Have you been to a Chinese New Year Parade or take part in a lunar calendar new year celebration?

My last (as in final) address “book”

Escher Last Address Book webWhen was the last time you looked at your address book?  And I don’t mean your contact list and addresses on your smart phone or your computer —- but a physical address book.

I have not used or even looked at mine for a long time.  And even when I ship packages or gifts to family, my on-line shipping system contains all my addresses, so no need for this book.

Will this be another item from our generation that will be obsolete and no longer needed?

Escher Last Address Book pageFlipping through it, I saw names of friends from long ago that I have lost contact with, and remember the moments we shared, and, I appreciated seeing the M.C. Escher prints included in each alphabet tab.

So…another sign of our modern world — the fading use of address “books”?

Do you still have and/or use an “old-fashioned” address book?  I’m certain this is the last one I will have…

This post inspired by reading an article about MC Escher on the blog Create a Beautiful Life.  It reminded me of this address book, which I had not opened in a LONG time.  Here is the post about Escher, He Was My First Love.

Related LolaKo.com posts:

la-et-jc-florida-polytechnic-universitys-bookl-002

 

A library with no books – and its at a university

Post about Florida Polytechnic University and their brand new ALL DIGITAL library

 

Gutenberg-press-print-drawing

 

How long until print newspapers completely disappear?

 

WordPress Photo Challenge: Express Yourself…with hats and sunglasses!

One of the fun ways children express themselves is through costumes and dress up times, or sometimes, donning and playing with whatever is around at the time.

This week, the theme from Krista is “Express Yourself”…

Today, we challenge you to show us what “express yourself” means to you. It could be the delightful, gummy grin of a baby grand-nephew, a message of love written with a biplane in the sky, the clenched fist of anger and frustration, or even a lunch with an attitude. This topic is wide-open and I can’t wait to see what you do with it. Have fun!

My goodness…a totally wide-open challenge with a theme like this opens it up to all sorts of interpretation, and is also a good excuse to post photos I cherish!  I hope you enjoy these “hat” and sun glass photos of my grandsons

silly hatsThe same hats…

Jun in curly que hatCurly hat…

G hard hat 1 web

Hard hat (here is Gabriel giving “directions” — he likes being the boss)

JJ 2 hats web

Jun with TWO hats —- because sometimes, one hat is not enough!

G bike helmet and swim  goggles

Bike helmet over hat, finished with swim goggles – his own look!

G TKD Helmet webSquishy face under kick paddle “hat” — at the 2014 USA Taekwondo National Championships where there is a lot of waiting, a bored Gabriel decides to wear the martial arts kicking paddles.

G Indiana Jones hat web

The boys had identical Indiana Jones hats, and for a while they liked to wear it everywhere — on the way to Taekwondo practice.

And then the sunglasses….

2 Sunglasses again

JJ Sunglasses web

2 Sunglasses web

Lastly, anytime I can capture photos of my grandsons around flowers is a happy photograph for me…J and daisies web

G Flowers webTo see interpretations of the theme “Express Yourself” from the WordPress blogging community, click here…and enjoy!

The pumpkin flavor craze — do all these products really contain pumpkin?

Lolas pumpkins photoWhat is up with the proliferation of pumpkin flavor everything?

We expect to see pumpkins — the sort used for Jack-O-Lanterns — outside of grocery stores this time of year.

Lately though, the pumpkin thing continues inside the store…from pumpkin spice yogurt and “limited edition” English muffins. Even the Oreo brand is in with their Pumpkin Spice Creme cookies!

Pumpkins used to be a sign that fall is here, Halloween is around the corner and soon, the Thanksgiving holiday will be upon us.

But now, the pumpkin and “pumpkin spice” signals a time of year when all manner of food and beverages are blanketed with this flavor.  Example:

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And just like Christmas songs and Christmas decorations, it comes to us EARLIER each year.

So why is pumpkin and “pumpkin spice” flavor in so many food and beverage products these days (especially since pumpkin by itself is rather bland)?

Starbucks PSL

Starbuck’s PSL (photo via Starbucks.com)

Turns out we can thank Starbucks for the brilliant idea to offer seasonal beverages, and in particular their best-selling Pumpkin Spice Latte  or “PSL”

For around $5, you can get a 20 oz PSL Venti but only for a “limited time”.

But does the drink actually have real pumpkin? Nope, just pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.

A brilliant marketing idea, right?  Get people to anticipate a drink (just as we would anticipate the holiday season perhaps) which contains spices that are available all year round!

Here are other pumpkin flavor examples:

The “limited batch” pumpkin yogurt by Chobani, which does contain pumpkin…

The Thomas’ “Limited Edition”  English muffins…which also had pumpkin…

Then there’s the Oreo brand cookie with the prominent pumpkin on the packaging and the words “pumpkin spice creme”…

pumnpkin spice oreo cookies web

Pumpkin Spice Oreo ingredients are: Sugar, Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine, Mononitrate (Vitamin B1) Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid, Palm and/or Canola Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cornstarch, Salt, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Artificial Color (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Blue 3 Lake), Paprika Oleoresin (Color)

Do you see any pumpkin on the ingredients list?  Nope!

From the FoodFacts.com blog on the Pumpkin Spice Oreo

We’d like to call your attention to the fact that there is absolutely NO PUMPKIN anywhere in that list. Oh wait, they’re PUMPKIN SPICE Oreos, not PUMPKIN Oreos.

Technically that would mean that these should taste like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and anything else we use to flavor actual pumpkin pie. Funny, we don’t see any of those ingredients on the list either. We do, however, see Natural and Artificial Flavors — which of course is what the folks over at Oreos are using to impart the taste of pumpkin pie spices to the cream inside this cookie.

And then, to make it look authentic (because all of those spices carry a rich, deep color), they’ve added a healthy dose of artificial colors.

There are also pumpkin spice teas, beer and other alcohol beverages….like this pumpkin spice whiskey from Rhode Island-based Sons of Liberty…

This one actually has plenty of locally grown pumpkins and actual pumpkin spices, and sounds good!

Food manufacturers are succeeding with the popular pumpkin spice flavor, so this craze is probably here to stay for a while.   (See the 2013 Nielsen’s graph below showing pumpkin flavor products experiencing tremendous growth).

Nielsen pumpkin flavor chart 2013

So I suppose we can enjoy the fall and all the pumpkin and pumpkin spice stuff out there, especially if you happen to like pumpkin spices (I do!).

Just remember, most will probably NOT have real pumpkin, but hopefully there will at least be REAL pumpkin pie spices.  You just have to look at the labels.

Do you like this proliferation of pumpkin and pumpkin spiced food in the market? Wish it will stay or happy if it’s a fad that will soon fade?

Lolas Turbaned-Squashes photo

Turbaned squashes – photo www.Lolako.com  Click on the photo to find out the difference between a pumpkin, a squash and a gourd.

And by the way, if you want to know the difference between a pumpkin, squash or a gourd, here is the link to my post Autumn Time, Pumpkin Time, with fun photos of many varieties now available…everywhere (just like the pumpkin spice everything).

Even the NPR Car Talk guys made a joke about this pumpkin craze in this morning’s program, mentioning their “pumpkin chai brake fluid”.  Oh well…what’s next?

Further reading: Article from Vox.com:  The greatest trick capitalism ever pulled was making you want a pumpkin spice latte.

Plastic: Now available in your…beer?

Beer now available with plastic

Beer…now available infused with plastic bits!

Plastic trash is found even at remote locations on our planet.  And now, a new study finds that little bits of plastic — perhaps remnants of our trash — can be found in beer, too!

Note: The study was conducted in Germany, a country where beer is a huge part of the culture and culinary history.  The Germans have brewed ale style beer for over 3,000 years.

From the Grist article, Beer: a magical mixture of hops, barley, and tiny pieces of plastic: Excerpt:

…This is how the study worked: Researchers lab-tested samples of 24 varieties of German beers, including 10 of the nation’s most popular brands. Through their superpowers of microscopic analysis, the team discovered plastic microfibers in 100 percent of the tested beer samples.

Reads the study:

“The small numbers of microplastic items in beer in themselves may not be alarming, but their occurrence in a beverage as common as beer indicates that the human environment is contaminated by micro-sized synthetic polymers to a far-reaching extent.”

It’s not breaking news that plastics don’t just vanish into the ether when we’re finished with them. Unless you haven’t heard, in which case … BREAKING NEWS: The plastics we use today will stick around longer than your great-great-great-great (and then some) grandchildren. 

Grandchildren at beach summer 2014

My grandsons enjoying the beach while their Lola (grandmother) enjoys the sunset, summer 2014 on the central coast of California

Sadly, it is not surprising at all to learn about the findings of this study. We already know about the plastic and trash vortex (now the size of Texas) in the North Pacific and of the trash contaminating the deepest of our planet’s oceans.

We are careless about plastic trash.  So why wouldn’t plastics eventually end up in our beverages?

All you have to do is look outside your car window the next time you are stuck in traffic. See that plastic bottle on the side of the road?  And look above…see that plastic bag up on that tree branch…plastic trash dot our landscape, no matter where we live.

And if you live near the water, that trash you saw by the roadside can end up in our waterways, and eventually turn into tiny particles that end up right back into your water source. Yummy!

Please be mindful of plastic trash….recycle, use alternatives, bring your reusable bags to the store, and most of all, let’s all do our best to control our plastic trash and not let it get into our oceans.

Let’s fix what we can for the health of our planet…and for our grandchildren.

Also see LolaKo.com post:

On thFrancis-Malasig-photo-philippine plastic trash probleme burden of civilization’s excess

About plastic trash problems in the Philippines (river of trash photo after typhoon by Francis R. Malasig via 5gyres.org)

 

plastic trim on walis tambo broomFrom the Native Leaf blog, post on when plastic use is totally unnecessary

…Before the advent of plastic strapping materials and plastic trim, these brooms were made entirely from natural materials — and the entire broom would have been biodegradable.

book_plastic_greyLolako.com post Plastic Rich / Plastic Poor on Susan Freinkel’s book, Plastic, A Toxic Love Story. Foreign editions in Australia, China, Korea, Spain and Taiwan – Link to Ms. Freinkel’s website, here.

Lola Jane’s post excerpt: I am part of this plastics generation — and problem — and feel propelled into doing something, before it is too late.

The question is…what can I do…how do I get the word out?

 

A library with no books — and it’s at a university

Cookbooks

How much longer will homes have bookcases with actual books ?

I wanted to look up a recipe for quince (a type of fruit with a lovely scent that has to be cooked before eating) and I debated whether to go to the bookcase and thumb through our cookbooks… or to just search for “quince recipes” on our Samsung tablet.

I had access to both, so I had the choice…

But If you are one of the 550 students attending the brand new Florida Polytechnic University and want to look at books from their library, you won’t be going towards the library’s shelving system to pull out a book because at this university library there are no physical books to check out — all their books are in digital format only.

Is this the inevitable next phase of the digital era?

When a university opens a new library and there are no actual books to touch, to pull out of library bookshelves, when there are no paper pages for fingers to flip through, or actual books to carry to the check out counter, then a new era is truly upon us.

la-et-jc-florida-polytechnic-universitys-bookl-002

Brand new library at Florida Polytechnic University – Photo by Rocket Science Photography / Florida Polytechnic University The university’s campus library has no books.

Excerpt from the L.A. Times article…

…That is, unless a student happens to bring an old-style hardcover or paperback to school.

They might; like most university systems, Florida State makes all of its books available to students through interlibrary loans, giving them access to 6 million volumes.

But the idea of the new Florida Polytechnic library is to move away from paper. Printers for articles accessed online are available but not encouraged. Instead, the staff hopes students will organize their research online with tools that are part of the library service.

There are also some collections of print books that Florida Polytechnic owns, but they are not currently available on campus.

“As for the electronic-only aspect of the library resources,” writes the trade magazine Library Journal, ” [Director of Libraries Kathryn] Miller emphasized that it’s the information that’s key, not its form.

Oh wow…so the environmentalist part of me is happy to know we are saving trees and saving the resources that goes into making paper.  Still…there is something kind of sad about no longer holding an actual book in one’s hands.

juns and minecraft book web

My 9-year-old grandson, Jun reading his Minecraft book. Will he look at this photo when he is a grandfather and feel nostalgic for the days when he held a physical book in his hand — or show the photos to his grandchildren of a bygone era when kids still  held books with their hands?

Is it just me being nostalgic (already!) even if there are still books all around me?

Will my grandsons’ children no longer have physical books around them — at least as I define books — and will they even still call them “books”?

And when my grandsons go to college, will their university library look like Florida Polytechnic’s library, too?

Lola and Gabriel hands

Hands — the digits of Lola Jane and grandson Gabriel, who was about 3 1/2 years old at the time this photograph was taken. The origin of the word digital is the Latin “digitus” meaning finger / toe.

It is interesting that the origin of the word “digital” is the Latin digitalis from the late 15th century — digitus meaning finger / toe.  

What do you prefer these days when you want to read the latest book or when you look up recipes?

Traditional books or digital, e-book sources?

And if you are a regular visitor to libraries (like we are)…what will you miss?  Will you miss the smell of books and paper?  And what about the tactile process of touching, picking up and selecting books versus the mostly visual act of reading from a tablet or smart phone…

Gosh, will there even be libraries  then, or will these buildings be unnecessary if there is access to any and all information we want anytime and anywhere?

Gutenberg-press-print-drawingRelated Lolako.com post: How long before print newspapers completely disappear

Also see The Digital Scriptorium – from the University of California, Bancroft Library — a growing image database of medieval and renaissance manuscripts that unites scattered resources from many institutions into an international tool for teaching and scholarly research. 

Chameleons? Why Filipinos live & work in just about every country in the world

The words “why are Filipinos like chameleons” showed up on my blog’s search engine terms recently.

Chameleon definition

Mixed-Up-Chameleon by Eric CarleI did not write an article (until now) that connected the two words — Filipino and chameleon — but I do write often about Filipinos and the Philippines, wildlife, and about a particular chameleon, as in the Eric Carle book that I read to my grandchildren, The Mixed-Up Chameleon.

Initially I thought the search words were funny.  Chameleons — a special kind of lizard — are not native to the Philippines.  And then I wondered what information was sought…was this inquiry and the string of words derogatory?

And are Filipinos like chameleons? We Filipinos do tend to blend in, don’t we?   We all speak English (very well — and most with a clear American accent) and since English is one of the most popular language in the world, all that much easier to blend in, right?

Aside from language, is it also because most Filipinos are Christians?  A Pew Research demographics study on global religion found that Christians are the most evenly dispersed around the world and represent the largest percentage among the world’s religion  (2.2 billion or 32% of the world’s majority religion) .

20_religionCountryMap from Pew Research

Graphic on majority religions by country from Pew Research. The Philippine archipelago has the most Christians among countries in Southeast Asia,

I am pretty sure that Filipinos live and work in just about every country in the world — around 10% of the total population, and 2.2 million contract or Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) — according to Philippine government data.

  • When I lived in Germany in the mid 1980’s, one of the first things our landlord, Klaus, wanted to do was to introduce me to the Filipina married to a local German, in our town of Dudeldorf.
  • When we first immigrated to the United States and living in Portland, Maine (of all places, right, and not exactly a hotbed for Filipinos in America) my mother quickly found another Filipina living nearby who befriended us.

So,  super chameleons?  Able to survive in any environment, no matter where on the globe?  Or rather, is it more because we don’t stick out?  The Philippines was a Spanish colony from 1521 to 1898, so most Filipinos have Spanish last names.  Is this another way we blend, since our names are not so unusual?

A friend theorized that because the Philippines is a nation of islands (over 7,000 in case you did not know), Filipinos are accustomed to traveling beyond their own island to the next…and the next, so what is another 5,000 more miles?  It’s in our DNA!  Hmmmn, interesting, and maybe!

Are Filipinos everywhere because they like adventure, because Filipinos like to travel? Is it by necessity, for survival? Because we must…as a sacrifice to contribute financially for the greater good of the family?

In 1980, the Philippines scored higher than China, Thailand and Brazil on the United Nations (UN) Human Development Indicators (HDI). The most recent UN HDI report show these three countries now have higher HDI scores than the Philippines.  And after World War II, the only other country in Asia richer than the Philippines was Japan.

So what happened?  Could it be because the Philippine population has more than DOUBLED in the last 3 decades?.

The Philippines is the 12th most populous country in the world, and according to United Nations GDP / per capita income data, over 40% of Filipinos live on less than $2 per day.

These days, I think Filipinos are everywhere primarily because of over population and because the economy cannot support the population…so by necessity.

Every year, millions of Filipinos have no choice but to leave their homeland to find work elsewhere.  Many work in the shipping industries (notice that when cruise lines, or container ships are in the news, often, there are Filipino crew members?)

The Philippines export nurses all over the world.  And most recently, our teachers, too.

It is easier to understand Filipino communities in neighboring countries like Australia, New Zealand, especially Korea and Japan.  But Zambia?  ICELAND, The Isle of Mann?

Tropical Philippines web

Photo of banka (traditional Philippine outrigger boat) Lolako.com. From lush green tropics to….Scandinavia?

And how is it that Filipinos manage to survive, and even thrive in countries with climates and cultures so different from their homes?  And do we — the chameleons —  blend in no matter where we are  because it’s safer if others like us, accept us, include us in their, and what then becomes OUR community?

In Sweden alone, there are over 20 Filipino communities! (see Fincomlas Sweden)

I admire Filipino characteristics — our friendly, caring nature, resilience, our sense of humor, and strong commitment to family  — and yes, maybe the chameleon qualities in a positive sense.  But I do hope that in my lifetime, the majority of Filipinos who live and work overseas will be because of their own choice to do so, and not because they have no other choice.

This post was inspired by a search query on my blog, and turned emotional when I thought of families torn apart and separated for many years due to the economic needs of Filipinos.  I’ll continue to explore more on this topic, and of course to celebrate and remember our food and culture.

In the meantime, if you are a Filipino in a faraway place, please share your experience, or your family’s experience.  Do you think Filipinos are like chameleons?  If so, is this positive or a negative?

Related Lolako.com posts:

Biggest and Smallest Shark

I’ve posted several articles about sharks on my blog — originally because of my irrational fear of sharks.  When I think of sharks, I usually think of BIG sharks…like the 4,000 lb shark tagged in 1990′s off Santa Cruz county caught in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez.

Q A book about Sharks by Ann McGovernMy older grandson read the Scholastic book Questions and Answers about SHARKS by Ann McGovern, and we learned more!  Note: The book is great for readers in Grade 3 to Grade 5.

So…we knew that there were over 370 different types of sharks and about the whale shark — which at 60 feet long is the biggest shark, and the biggest fish in the world.

We didn’t know about the a tiny shark that fits in the palm of your hand.  Except:

The Japanese named it tsuranagakobitozame.  The word means “the dwarf shark with a long face.”

At about 5 inches long, the tsuranagakobitozame is one tiny shark (with a very long name)!

To learn more about whale sharks (which are listed as Vulnerable” on the IUCN Redlist. because of pressures from unregulated fisheries in China, India and the Philippines), please visit the Georgia Aquarium’s FAQ page, here.  The Georgia Aquarium and the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, Japan, are places to see whale sharks on exhibit.

Also visit the The Florida Museum of Natural History’s Ichthyology Department for a great FAQ page on shark basics, here…and if you are curious to know if sharks sleep, if sharks have bones, or how long sharks live.

Did you know….fossil records show that the ancestors of modern sharks swam in our oceans over 400 million years ago?  That makes them older than dinosaurs!  Turns out that sharks have changed very little over time.

Click here to view Lolako.com’s shark related posts

A raft of sea otters

Sea Otter Group Moss Landing

Raft of sea otters at Moss Landing Harbor area, photo by Jun-Yong Brown

“Is this natural?” asked the tourist from Israel as he stood next to me and my grandsons, amazed at what he was seeing.

“I mean, are they wild–is this their natural habitat or some preserve?” he added.  I replied “Yes, they are wild, and this is where they live.”

Raft of sea  otters rd

Photo by Jun-Yong Brown

We were at the Moss Landing State Beach earlier in the day, and my grandsons were excited to see  two sea otters swim past us, very close to the shoreline.

Then on the way home, we stopped to look across the inlet area facing Elkhorn Slough and were delighted to see a congregation of otters…much more excitement!

About 5 minutes after watching the raft of otters…they all swam away.  The conference over perhaps….or maybe it was time to forage for food.

Seeing the raft of otters was a nice way to end to our day at the beach, and I am again so happy to live in the Monterey Bay area, with so many opportunities to see wildlife.

White Face Sea Otter rd

Photo by Jun-Yong Brown

During the early part of the 1700’s, the California sea otter population was estimated to number 150,000.

From the mid 1700’s until the early part of 1900, these otters were almost hunted to extinction for their fur.

Today, California sea otters remain endangered with a population of  less than 3,000.

Boys at Moss Landing beach rd

Earlier in the day, my grandsons spotted 2 sea otters swimming close to the shore at Moss Landing State Beach

Sea-otter-in-kelp-anchor-eye-open-close-up

For more on sea otters, visit related Lolako.com Post: The sea otter’s one-eyed peak  

Adorable Sea Otter video — on the rocks by Monterey Bay wildlife photographer Efren Adalem

and visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium website page Sea Otters as Risk

For more on Elkhorn Slough, visit  the Elkhorn Slough.org website here.  Excerpt:

Dunes and broad stretches of open sandy beach characterize the inner curve of Monterey Bay. The expansive beaches are interrupted only by the outlets of the Pajaro and Salinas Rivers, and the entrance to Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing Harbor. The protected waters of the slough and its associated mudflats, wetlands, and nearby dunes provide a haven for a wide variety of birds, fish and unusual marine life. This remarkable variety of habitats provides visitors a rare opportunity to explore and discover nature’s secrets.

What grows in the rich soils of Monterey County

Note:  This is a follow-up to my earlier post, Monterey, Melons and more (that Monterey County is the only county in the United States with more than $1 BILLION annually in vegetable sales).

Sunset Seaside Monterey County California rd

Seaside Sunset in Monterey County, Central Coast of California – photo LolaKo.com

The coast, the beautiful landscape, the Monterey Jazz Festival, John Steinbeck country, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row and Fisherman’s wharf, Pebble Beach (among the top Golf destinations in the world) and the spectacular Big Sur Coast are among what makes the Monterey County area well-known worldwide as a tourism spot.

Big_Sur Wiki Photo by Calilover

Big Sur Coast, Monterey County, California photo via wiki commons by Calilover

Steinbeck Mural Salinas California

John Steinbeck mural, downtown old Salinas — Steinbeck was a native of Monterey County Photo: Lolako.com

From an economic standpoint though — tourism dollars aside — the Monterey County agricultural industry is what amazes me.

basket of heriloom tomatoesI wanted to know more.  What exactly do we grow here that produce such high dollar values?

The  website for the Monterey County Office of the Agricultural Commissioner and their Annual Crop Report provided exactly the information I was interested to know.

Here are the most recent numbers…

  • Leaf lettuce is in the number one spot with a value of $777.4 million
  • Strawberries accounted for  $713.9 million
  • Head lettuce was at $454.2 million
  • Broccoli at $297.3 million
  • Nursery production at $260.7 million

So there it is…lettuce is the top crop.

Makes sense…the weather is so mild here, and lettuce can be grown and harvested in such a short time!

Plus, companies in this region of California are pioneers in lettuce production and sales, having originated the ready to go salad — washed, bagged and ready to eat lettuce we now are accustomed to buying at the grocery store.

Nursery Field of Begonia Monterey County rd

Begonias growing in sandy, well draining fields of Marina, Monterey County, California – Photo LolaKo.com

What was also interesting, is that the 4th largest agriculture commodity in Monterey County is nursery production.

I knew about the orchid growing facilities here, but there are also many more types of flowers grown here!  From the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner website on nursery production…

…The local climate creates ideal conditions for raising a large variety of nursery stock including bedding and potted plants, cut flowers, poinsettias, vegetable transplants, woody ornamentals, propagative materials, turf and orchids.

Monterey County field of Yarrow flowers

Yarrow field — flowers growing in Monterey County, California – Photo LolaKo.com

It turns out, along with lots of spring greens, lettuce greens and heads of lettuce, Monterey County grows a lot of flowers like gerbera daisies, Asiatic lily, carnation, tulips and roses.

And so…Monterey County’s total crop values in the year 2011? A whopping  $3,853,004,200.  Again, Wow!

Here are related links:

body_2006_Oliver_hand-laborWebsite for the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner and Latest Monterey County Crop Report — living and working in Steinbeck Country (the 2012 report should be out soon)

nursery begonia field marina californiaBlog Begonias in the Mist – “We’re planting begonia seeds again.   We’ll drop over 2 million little begonia seeds and hope for the best….”

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson

Monterey County field of Lavenders

 

Creekside Farms in south Monterey County – grows flowers and makes gorgeous fresh and dried wreaths (see LolaKo post here, for more on Creekside Farms.

 

Lavender-Fields-creekside farms

Lavender Fields at Creekside Farms. Photo LolaKo.com

From USA Today, 25 years of “eureka” moments – #10 is Lettuce in a bag…

…Americans discovered there’s more to salad than iceberg lettuce drowning in bottled dressing after the rollout of mixed lettuce greens in a bag.  Fresh Express in Salinas, Calif., made that possible by inventing a high-tech plastic bag introduced nationwide in 1989. That helped ignite a whole consumer category of portion-controlled foods, such as bagged baby carrots.

Fresh Express productFeatureSalinas, Monterey County, California based Fresh Express Company Fresh Express created the very first ready-to-eat packaged Garden Salad available in grocery stores nationwide in 1989.

Monterey, melons and more…

Did you know that Monterey County is the only county in the United States with more than $1 billion — yes, that is BILLION — in annual vegetable sales?  Wow!

Monterey County Fields

Monterey County, California farm field, near the Hwy 1 freeway. Photo www.Lolako.com

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) most recent Census of Agriculture for the category of vegetables, potatoes and melons, the top five counties were:

  • Monterey County, California
  • Fresno County, California
  • Yuma County, Arizona
  • Palm Beach County, Florida
  • Kern County, California

Summer and Globe Squash Monterey County

Monterey County grew almost twice the sales value of the next largest county, Fresno… and produced almost 9% of total U.S. value of vegetable production.  Another, wow….and it is true that the Salinas Valley is the salad bowl capital of the U.S. (and the world?).
Monterey county artichokes
Most of what I see driving around Monterey County and neighboring counties are a whole lot salad green fields, and a lot of strawberry farms.  Not so much melons or potato fields.  This billion dollar number must mean mostly salad greens and artichokes, since strawberries are under another category for berries and tree nuts — an even bigger agriculture industry in California.
Textured MelonsIt is nearing summer time, and I am thinking of cherries and melons and luscious fruits to enjoy this summer, and places to take our grandchildren like “U-Pick” types of farms.    The melons pictured on this post are the Casaba melons, which originated from Kasaba, Turkey, and are in the “winter melon” group that includes honey dew melons.  “Winter” meaning they are hardy melons, since these melons are actually available in summer and fall.
Casaba Melons
I looked at the California Agricultural Tourism Directory website, clicked on the “U-Pick” category, and was surprised to find out there was only one listed for Monterey (The Farm – in the Salinas Valley). Surely there are more U-Pick farms in Monterey County? If you know of others, please comment.  Thank you!

May the Fourth Be With You – the staying power of Star Wars

So this month, there is the Cinco de Mayo celebration, Mother’s Day on Sunday, the 12th, and oh yes…Star Wars Day, celebrated by Star Wars fans on May 4th.

What…..Star Wars Day? There’s a Star Wars Day…as in Happy Star Wars Day?

star-wars-may-the-4th-be-with-you-HallmarkApparently, as Hallmark has official cards (conventional and e-cards) available for sale, with your favorite Star Wars character and just the right sentiment .

Star Wars Episode IV was released in the U.S. on May 25, 1977.  I saw the movie when I was a teenager living in the Philippines, and up to that point, it was different from any movie I’d seen.

The second installment, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, was released in U.S. theaters on May 21, 1980, and it was among the first movies  I saw in an American theater.

Ever wonder where George Lucas got the inspiration for Star Wars?  Here is an excerpt from Star Wars Wookieepedia…

Lucas had already written two drafts of Star Wars when he rediscovered Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces in 1975 (having read it years before in college). This blueprint for “The Hero’s Journey” gave Lucas the focus he needed to draw his sprawling imaginary universe into a single story. Campbell demonstrates in his book that all stories are expressions of the same story-pattern, which he named the Hero’s Journey or the monomyth.

Lucas has often cited The Lord of the Rings series as a major influence on Star Wars. Lucas learned from Tolkien how to handle the delicate stuff of myth. Tolkien wrote that myth and fairytale seem to be the best way to communicate morality – hints for choosing between right and wrong – and in fact that may be their primary purpose. Lucas has also acknowleged in interviews that the Gandalf and the Witch-king characters in the Lord of the Rings influenced the Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader characters respectively.

Over 30 years later, the Star Wars franchise lives on and is today relevant to my  grandsons, age 8 and 6.  They love all things Star Wars (now brilliantly marketed in partnership with Lego products) and of course, there is the animated Star Wars – Clone Wars series.

Yoda May the Fourth be with you s

This Yoda — equipped with lightsaber came to us via a box of a Nintendo DS Lego game.

And so here’s to Star Wars Day…and from our household Yoda (he came in a box with a Nintendo DS Lego game), May the Force — or the Fourth — Be With You!

Did you know…Star Wars is the third highest-grossing film series of all time, after James Bond and Harry Potter?

If you are a grandparent — or grandparent age —  how many movies do you remember from our teen years that are now part of modern popular culture?  Certainly not many that we can enjoy with our grandchildren…not a remake, but in its original format.

Related Links:

2013 Salinas Asian Festival

 

Lola Jane and her apos (tagalog for grandchildren) at the Salinas Asian Festival, near the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) booth.

Thank you to Elmer Dolera for the photo, posted via the Asian American Community of the Monterey Bay Area Facebook page.

And for more on FANHS, visit their new blog / website, here.

Whalefest at Old Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey

The Whalefest at Old Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey — Whale Watching Capital of the World — continues today, starting with a 10:00AM Beach Clean Up with The Wahine Project.

Today, the Museum of Monterey (MoM) theater is the venue for lectures and documentaries from the 2012 BLUE Ocean Film Festival, beginning with a collection of shorts (Fish Tale: My Secret Life as a Plankton, Ocean Oases, Sea Jellies: A summer Swarm in Monterey, Oceans at the Tipping Point and Ocean Giants), and the film Planet Ocean at 2:30PM.

Looking over the lighthouse exhibit at Museum of Monterey

Yesterday, my grandsons and I watched the inspiring film Ocean Frontiers at the Museum of Monterey.

Learning and blogging about environmental issues often becomes DEPRESSING because there is so much going wrong and the problems seem overwhelming, and insurmountable.

The movie Ocean Frontiers focused on positive work that promotes better health for our oceans.  By working together, farmers from Iowa can directly impact the health of the Gulf waters by creating wetlands and reducing fertilizer use. Endangered whales are saved when a variety of organizations combine research and teamwork to re-route shipping traffic at a busy Boston Port.

A contingent of local environmental organizations and businesses lined the path from the Customs House Plaza to the Old Fisherman’s Wharf.  We visited a few booths yesterday.

The Pacific Shark Research Center (PSRC) at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) booth, showing Jun and Gabriel shark teeth.

Exhibiting a shark fin at the Pacific Shark Research Center (PSRC) at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) booth.

National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Booth

National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Booth

American Cetacean Society Booth

American Cetacean Society Booth

American Cetacean Society Booth — great poster that shows different whale sizes… man at the bottom right by the elephant

What does whale baleen feel like?

Like a brush! Jun also compared it to his bristly polar bear Christmas ornament from Eco Carmel, made of buri palm.

Squid for Kids booth from the Hopkins Marine Station was a popular stop

Squid dissected – at the Squid for Kids booth, Hopkins Marine Station

For more on squid — see an earlier post, jumbo Humboldt squid washing up on central California beaches (and one trapped in the Monterey Aquarium’s tide pool).

Squid for Kids painting and stamping station — sometimes they use real squid ink!

Chalk Art during Whalefest at the Old Fisherman’s Wharf – Monterey

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Booth

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Booth – making ocean creatures

Among my grandsons favorite activity was the United States Coast Guard area, as they  were allowed to board their inflatable Search and Rescue Coast Guard motor life boat.

And of course, as much as this was learning all about the ocean and conservation, you cannot go home without first getting a specialty lollipop from the candy store at Old Fisherman’s Wharf.

The boys had a blast and yes, we plan to go again today.

Jumbo Humboldt squid washing up on central California beaches (and one trapped at the Monterey Bay Aquarium tide pool)

Photo of Humboldt squid by Monikichi, via Wikipedia.  Caught off Viña del Mar, Chile.

This past Saturday, my daughter and grandson Gabriel found Humboldt squid stranded at the Moss Landing & Salinas River State Beach, and over the weekend, there were reports of hundreds of stranded and dead Humboldt squid in areas along the Central California coast.

Also known as jumbo squid, the Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas) are predatory and can grow up to 5 feet long.

Think squid for calamari steaks, and not the small  “market” squid — the calamari rings that many of us eat for appetizers.

Market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens) only grow to about 11 (28cm) inches long.

Named after the Humboldt Current (and the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt) these squid are normally found at depths of 660 to 2,300 ft (200 to 700 m) — and in the Sea of Cortez, in Baja, Mexico.

On Sunday, we were at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where we watched a Humboldt squid swimming in the aquarium’s tide pool.

According to a Monterey Bay Aquarium staff member, the Humboldt squid was trapped in their tide pool after high tide.  Apparently, this has not happened in 28 years at the Aquarium.  I checked the opening year of the Aquarium — 1984 — which means this has never happened before…

The Monterey Bay Aquarium building sits on the edge of Monterey Bay.  Photo above of outdoor deck and the tide pool behind the Monterey Bay Aquarium building.  Photo LolaKo.com

The Great Tide Pool at Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Photo Lolako.com

It was a rare opportunity to see a Humboldt squid swimming in an enclosed area…and all from the comfort and safety of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s deck overlooking the tide pool.

We found out that squid swim backwards by pumping water through valves near their heads.  It was odd to see the squid moving about with its tentacles and head behind, instead of in front of the movement.

A baby Humboldt squid trapped after high tide in the Monterey Bay Aquarium tide pool. Leaning over the deck area, we watched — and I photographed with my phone camera — the squid swimming around the tide pool.  Coral and cream color creatures to the left of the squid are starfish that live in the tide pool.

What a lucky day to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium!

Really….how often do you get to watch a Humboldt squid swimming without having to actually be in the water?  It is probably one of those days my grandsons will remember.

Interesting information from Wikipedia on the Humboldt squid:

El Niño factors

Although Humboldt squid are generally found in the warm Pacific waters off of the Mexican coast, recent years have shown an increase in northern migration. The large 1997-98 El Niño event triggered the first sightings of Humboldt squid in Monterey Bay..

Then, during the minor El Niño event of 2002, they returned to Monterey Bay in higher numbers and have been seen there year-round since then. Similar trends have been shown off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and even Alaska, although there are no year-round Humboldt squid populations in these locations.

This change in migration is suggested to be due to warming waters during El Niño events, but other factors, such as a decrease in upper trophic level predators that would compete with the squid for food, could be impacting the migration shift, as well.

Ocean Acidification

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that by the end of this century, ocean acidification will lower the Humboldt squid’s metabolic rate by 31% and activity levels by 45%. This will lead the squid to have to retreat to shallower waters, where they can take up oxygen at higher levels.

Here is a video from local news reports…did these baby Humboldt squid eat toxic algae?

Related Links:

Illustration by Rena Ekmanis (www.renaekmanis.com)

From UCSC Science Notes 2012: The Sea Longs for Red Devils

Article by Daniela Hernandez dives into a giant marine mystery — and why the elusive Humboldt squid has abandoned a Mexican fishery in need.  With illustrations by Rena Ekmanis.

Image of market squid from www.fishwatch.gov

California Market Squid – from NOAA, FISH WATCH U.S. Seafood Facts

…California’s market squid fishery is unique for several reasons. Fishermen usually fish for market squid at night directly (more here)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful for Sand, Sunset and Silliness

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is an easy one…

From Sara Rosso, the theme is Thankful. In the United States, yesterday was Thanksgiving, a holiday where people spend time with family and friends and remember the things they’re thankful for.

 I think the idea of being thankful and reflecting back on good things in your life is something that naturally happens towards the end of a calendar year…more here

Almost everyday (almost because some days, I forget), I am thankful that we live in an area of the United States abundant with open space and natural beauty.

I am especially thankful that the weather here is so mild that we can take our grandchildren to the beach with their short sleeve shirts in November,  and they can play in the sand  well into sunset.

I took these photos earlier this week, the day before Thanksgiving…

Older brother gets to “bury” little brother in the sand…

And now it is little brother’s turn to “bury” big brother in the sand…

It takes some work to focus on being thankful and to focus on the positive — at least for me.

I’m so thankful for these silly little men — my sweet grandsons — who give us a great excuse to stop and to just be.  Here are some other favorite silly pics, when they were younger…

Jun’s first moustache, seaweed!

This one makes me smile because Gabriel loved his little toy “motorcycle” and was so serious about riding it

I’m outa here, don’t even think of following me! :)  Scoot, scoot, scoot, scoot…

There really is so much to be thankful for…I’m thankful for being here to enjoy the beauty of our landscape…and of course, thankful for my family.

And hopefully, when the little guys are grown men, they are always thankful to have one another, and look back and be thankful for the childhood moments they shared.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit

This week’s photo challenge — Free Spirit — is guest hosted by Strauss Louw. 

I chose this as the topic for this week’s photo challenge as it lends itself to so many possibilities for subject matter and composition….click here to view post

Most of us have known free spirits — or maybe we were once free spirits.  Somehow, as adults, I feel we don’t let this spirit of freedom “out” anymore, for fear of looking odd or silly.  And sometimes, we even say goodbye to this spirit, and we let it leave us.

It is another thing with  children though….they seem to all embody this free spirit.  Here are photographs of my grandsons, Jun and Gabriel, which I think capture this theme.  I hope they  keep this spirit of freedom and lightness well into old age.

A stick, sunshine,and sand in between your toes…what else do you need for a happy, free spirit day?

At first, my grandchildren try to outrun the waves, but later, give in to to enjoy the water — even though the water in our part o the Pacific ocean is rather cold.