Fiat Slug

It’s the famous Banana Slug (even though it doesn’t have the typical bright yellow color)! Probably the most popular  – or should we say: the only popular  – slug in the world. Ariolimax californicus even beat a much more photogenic Sea Lion in a popular vote on the official mascot of the University of California, Santa Cruz sports teams:

“The chancellor considered sea lions more dignified and suitable to serious play than Banana Slugs. But the new name did not find favor with the majority of students, who continued to root for the Slugs even after a sea lion was painted in the middle of the basketball floor. After five years of dealing with the two-mascot problem, an overwhelming proslug straw vote by students in 1986 persuaded the chancellor to make the lowly but beloved Banana Slug UCSC’s official mascot.”

“The Banana Slug even figured in a court case involving campus mascots. Judge Terence Evans, writing the opinion for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, stated: “We give the best college nickname nod to the University of California, Santa Cruz. Imagine the fear in the hearts of opponents who travel there to face the imaginatively named ‘Banana Slugs’?” (Crue et al. v. Aiken, June 1, 2004)” (UCSC.edu on the Banana Slug Mascot)

Banana slug fan gear is available here - how about some Slug Slippers?

Looking for spring

Pinocchio

Look at this huge pinecone we found on a recent trip to Mt. Diablo! I’m so glad we have a SUV because we couldn’t have brought it home in a compact. In addition to football-sized dimensions and considerable weight, the cone also has hooked spurs that were still pointing outwards when I plucked it from the tree – it looks much less threatening now that it’s opened up. Thanks to the helpful and adorably Comic-Sans-ish page Pining for Pines by J. Zimmerman, Ph.D., I’ve identified it as a Big-cone Pine (well, duh!) or Pinus coulteri. Wikipedia happens to have a fitting name for it as well:

The large size of the cones has earned them the nickname “widowmakers” among locals. (Wikipedia: Coulter Pine)

This is not really an exaggeration because they can weigh up to 10 pounds – which makes them the heaviest pinecones in the world. (The world’s largest tree Sequoiadendron giganteum has disappointingly tiny cones, by the way.)

If We Make It Through December

The 12 Stages of Monday’s Total Lunar Eclipse

Although I think I can see some blue sky right now from my desk, the evening will probably be cloudy in Berkeley and we won’t get to see any of these exciting phenomena. This night also happens to be the winter solstice. That means it’s not only the darkest, but also the longest night of the year. I guess it can only get better from there.

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Californian Girls

Italian Heritage Parade on Columbus Day, San Francisco. And look at those smiles:

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The day I missed my first whale

We were promised the “foggiest and windiest point” of the U.S., and sorely disappointed! (To be fair, everything was covered in thick fog about 15 minutes before I took this picture. We were quite lucky.)

The beach.

Gray Whale migration is typically from December to May. There was one gray whale today, which I didn’t see because I looked the other way for a second…

Build it and they will come

Slurp!

I put my hummingbird feeder up yesterday morning. Today, one of them already had lunch there and  in the afternoon, two territorial males were fighting for the spot. This one’s having dinner, literally an arm’s length from our front step. They are not shy at all. One of them also hovers in front of my window and tries to see what’s happening on my screen (he’s probably planning to sneak in and check out some hummingbird porn!)

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If life gives you lemons

Lemons are the one item I’m guaranteed to forget when going grocery shopping. Good thing we now have these in our front yard -

They’re actually Meyer Lemons, a cross between normal (sour) lemon and orange.

Pier review

SF as seen from our Kensington driveway.

César Chávez Park. Bay bridge: check. Skyline: check. Ground squirrel: check.

The Berkeley municipal pier used to be 3.5 miles long (that’s 5.6 km!). Now it’s just 3000 feet (1 km). Still a nice walk.

This looks a bit like Miami but probably feels more like Antartica.

Disapproving seagull.

This is where the pier ends, or at least the tiny part of the pier that’s still in use.

Total versaut

Seitdem sie ihren Überseeumzug ankündigt, ist Cohu schon mehrfach explizit vor der moralisch zersetzenden Kraft Amerikas gewarnt worden. Beliebt ist die Formulierung “Werd aber bloß kein Ami!”, meine Ärztin setzte noch eins drauf mit der Formulierung “Lassen Sie sich bloß nicht versauen von den Amis!”. Ich weiß nicht, ob meine Leser hinsichtlich meiner Persönlichkeitsentwicklung ähnliche Sorgen quälen, doch ich möchte dem schon mal beschwichtigend zuvorkommen: gerade erst habe ich mir eine große Vorratsdosis Old Europe geholt, bei einem Urlaub bei den cheese-eating surrender monkeys in Frankreich, ich bin also kulturell gefestigt. Siehe:

Was das Versauen angeht, ist man als Europäer ja nun beileibe nicht auf Amerikaner angewiesen, eher im Gegenteil. Zu Ehren des größten Versauers aller Zeiten, Marquis de Sade*, hat Cohu daher sein Heimatdorf Lacoste mit Schlossruine besucht und im “Café de Sade” einen Cafè frappé getrunken, also einen geprügelten Kaffee. Passt doch!

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