Thursday, March 24, 2011


It seems as thought splashing in water dates back to my earliest memories. 

First there as the tub times. Toys of all assortments and bubbles and  I remember crapping in the tub :( with my friend Graham Woods who was staying over while his family was out of town. Sorry buddy.

Then there was running through the sprinkler on the lawn.

There of course were the beach days spent with my mom and sister at Kye Bay during the summer while Dad was hard at work surveying the Comox Valley.

That segues into school days. Those seemingly long spring and fall days of the seventies and earlier eighties spent in the classroom in wet denim. British Columbia is most unforgiving of those who don't know better than to stay under cover whilst the cloud open up and spew their contents on the hapless fools below. I was gladly one of those fools then and still am today.

I remember in third or fourth grade we had a wild child in our midst. Chris Billy, the denim clad bezerker would revel in the the rainy season. Long, fifty meter puddles would form on the lower fields of Comox Elementary and Chris would take it as a challenge, nay an insult not to run through them. He would wind up with a crazed yell and hurdle himself through at top speed almost skipping along in a Jesus Lizard fashion till he emerged on the other end speckled and spackled with mud, dirt and grass only to sit the rest of the steamy uncomfortable afternoon in the classroom. There's nothing like the smell of Keds and a Lee Jeans jacket on a radiator.

Alas, I have rediscovered my childhood admiration of Chris. Surfing and swimming was the first harbinger of my waterborne reawakening. Then came the rains.

Los Angeles is like a frail old man on ice when it comes to rain. It neither tolerates nor deals well after the fact with precipitation. It tends to spew it out like an unseasoned freshman given too much drink whereas I tend to bathe in it and welcome it like a cleansing.

Any city or town takes on a whole new persona when washed and born afresh. Los Angeles and Culver City is no different. Mid-bath mind you, careless childhood is to be found.

Riding home in the somewhat daunting and dangerous rains this evening was at first scary and then hilarious. The first large puddle I rode through was more than likely met with a grimace and a groan. The second however was most certainly met with a giggle and the immediate search for a third. 

I was soaked when I reached home and completely renewed. There's truly nothing like some childhood fun a la Chris Billy to take one back to simpler pleasures. When water meets skin and worries are washed away.

Who knew a puddle could bring such fun?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Trader Joe's Shoot-out.

Saint Patrick would be pleased with the LAPD. As the story goes, Ole Paddy freed Ireland of drunken leprechauns by luring them to a cliff with a shamrock and hurling them off... or maybe I've got that wrong.

In any case, the Los Angeles Police did the lay public a solid on St. Paddy's day when they arrived in the area of town lying directly between my work and my apartment. There they found a crazed male holding a handgun to a women's head. The squabbling couple were standing beside a car with two children in the back in classic, don't-shoot-there's-kids-here fashion. Saint Patrick would have hated this! He always let the kids ride up front where they had a better view.

The women struggled, as many Irish wives do and in the process the leprechaun's gun went off. Alright, I know he wasn't a leprechaun but it makes the story better right? The leprechaun then fled towards my work and took up refuge in... Trader Joe's!
If I were a leprechaun on the lam, I too would hold up in a Trader Joe's. Plenty of food and drink and they have that big bell they ring from time to time for completely inexplicable reasons. I hate that bell but it might come in handy if you were bored.

Anyway, this crazy drunken leprechaun took a hostage and the LAPD had to surround Trader Joe's. Eventually, they shot that leprechaun in the head with a shotgun but his purple horseshoes, green clovers and blue diamonds protected him and he lived.

Lucky, as he is now referred to, is doing ten years in San Quentin and makes a very nice wife for his cell mate who is into short chicks with accents.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Quake Quack: Stand back, I'm about to Science.

Jim Berkland, retired geologist and full time crackpot is calling for a massive earthquake to hit the Los Angeles area today. He has been reprimanded in the past for potentially inciting panic in the populous by doing similar things. Granted, he apparently successfully predicted the "World Series" quake of 1989 where a 6.9 magnitude quake rocked the area surrounding San Fransisco.

Berkland made an appearance two nights back on the least responsible network on the airwaves today, Fox News:

I love how the report is wrapped up with, "He's a pretty good geologist". A ringing endorsement for the only side of the story presented as fact. Is there another side? NOW THAT'S FAIR AND BALANCED (their moto)!!!

I think that the scientists and geologists at the USGS would beg to differ. Geologists world wide have been working on earthquake prediction for decades and have failed to come up with reliable method yet Berkland claims he has the key!

Here is the basis of his claim:

1.) The moon's gravitational pull exerts force on the Earth's plates influencing shifts and creating quakes. Alright, the moon does do this. It exerts forces on the oceans as well causing tides etc. Let's keep in mind that the Earth does the same to the moon only with much more gravitational force (ten million times).

2.) This same magnetic force causes strange animal behavior such as beaching whales, dogs running away from home, homing pigeons getting lost and sardines dieing off. He offers no explanation for the same chance happenings when they occur without being coupled with an earthquake. He continues to cite the large Sardine die off in Redondo beach as evidence of the impending quake as a beaching or suicidal move on the fish's part though Marine Biologists are now saying it is most likely due to an algae bloom 12 miles of the coast of Santa Monica. He also admits to thinking there was no correlation between pets running away from home until in retrospect he noticed his own cat had run away a week prior to the world series quake.

3.)THUS, if the moon is full and your dog runs away, there's probably an earthquake coming.

Feel free to listen to his side of the story here on an interview he did yesterday:

You'll note that he waffles on about the 1933 Long Beach quake and the 1971 San Fernando quake and the fact that there were no major Californian earthquakes between the two. This is complete bullshit. There were three. One actually happened on a full moon which would seem to back up his claim. The others of course did not. All were 6.1 or larger. He conveniently skips over facts and includes others.

After going through a list of dates on which major earthquakes have occurred (I looked at only those measuring 6.0+) and comparing those dates to the lunar phase calendar I noticed the occasional correlation between a full moon and an earthquake. Alright, so from around 30 6.0+ quakes since 2008 only one fell on a full moon. Around 4 fell within 4 days of a full moon. The others were nowhere close to a full moon for their geographic location (northern and southern hemispheres have different moon phases). In regards to a Californian quake, well... we have them several times a day. Naming a date and  saying there's a quake is like saying, "I bet the sun will come up tomorrow." As far as world wide prediction, there's an earthquake of 4-5.0 magnitude on a daily basis. There has been 13 earthquakes of a 6.0 magnitude since January 01 of this year that have happened outside of Japan. That's one every 6 days. A full moon happens about every 30 days. You can see how the odds of earthquakes happening on or around the time of a full moon are pretty good. Berkland also uses some voodoo math to claim accuracy. If the quake happens within 140 miles of where he predicts he is 100% accurate. If he is inaccurate with the prediction of time he docks himself 10% a day. Thus, he can claim to be 50% accurate by predicting a quake for Vancouver or Santa Monica on the full moon but it happens in Merritt or San Diego almost a week later on the half moon. Considering quakes are a daily event in the SoCal region it's not surprising he's able to claim 75% accuracy.

I can only attribute Berkland's claims then to what one sees in the superstitious. The recollection of past correlations coupled with the ignoring or forgetting of past dissonance. This sort of thing is really weak. He's a scientist and furthermore, he's a geologist which has been a personal interest of mine since selecting it as a minor in University. The scientific method denotes that he needs to test and recreate this correlation to prove it yet he hasn't. Only anecdotal evidence of pets running away has been given. Shame on him and shame on Fox news for reporting it at all.

For my friends down here, always be prepared for an earthquake. We live in a seismically active area and therefore it's rather foolhardy not to be prepared. Lots of water on hand and some non-perishable food. $50-$100 cash somewhere safe.

That is all.

Please check the information yourself:

What bullcack the supermoon is:

List of significant earthquakes by year:

Moon phase calculator:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Conversation With A Seal

I went surfing today. I know this how many of my posts have begun so I'll make this relatively short. While waiting for waves...hmm,  surfing should actually be called "Waiting". Generally speaking, you wait around for waves much more than you actually surf. In my case, it should be called waiting and missing.

So, I was waiting for waves and in a group of about four people when a seal popped it's slick, rubbery head out of the water. I've seen seals before. I've seen seals while surfing before. I've never seen a seal right beside me though. Like close enough to touch. One of the surfers freaked out and pulled his legs up on his board. I wanted to ask if his flowered panties chafed him under his wetsuit. It's a damned seal man. The only disconcerting thing about the seal's presence was that I was surfing in Malibu where there happens to be a resident Great White which can be seen here:

Was I scared? Absolutely not. Did I shit just a tiny bit when some kelp hit my board and I felt a thump? You can ask Pete Nash as he's the one who rinsed my suit out after surfing. There's probably a fairly good chance there was a Hersey's Kiss in there.

So I decided to engage the seal in conversation and this is how it went.

Me: Hey seal. How are things? You eating some fish?

Seal: Yeah man. You know, hanging around and eating fish. Same old same old.

Me: I see you have no ears. More like holes in the side of your head.

Seal: Yup, just holes.

Me: I hope you don't mind me asking but sharks really like to eat seals right?

Seal: Oh yes, they love our tasty flesh.

Me: That must be scary. I'm glad I don't look like a seal. All black and shiny and swimming around. You must look like a juicy piece of licorice to them.

Seal: I like your black wetsuit.

Me: Screw you.

Seal: Someone stole your shoes.

Me: I hate you seal.

I will go back and damn it, if I see that seal again I'm going to punch him in his super cute little face. If I catch the guy who took my flip flops I might club the seal with him.