August 29, 2010

Time Butteflies When You’re Having Fun

Good morning and greetings, I can’t believe it’s not butterfly fans. Well, we had our three days of summer this week, as a glowing yellow object appeared in the morning skies, accompanied by a backdrop of a large blue canvas. The temperature in Santa Cruz hit a record 101 degrees on Tuesday, as locals rejoiced and salsa danced in the street at this belated turn of events. But then on Wednesday, the fog blew back in, bringing with it that lovely gray curtain that has blanketed our cold water paradise all summer.

This is not to complain, as I prefer this cool, dreary gloom to the sweltering heat that President Obama is feeling in the White House. Even Michelle going sleeveless is not helping on the domestic front. On Thursday morning, Jason asked me, “Dad, why is it so cold?” I replied, “I don’t know son, maybe because a quarter of the country is hungry, another quarter is jobless, another quarter is being foreclosed on and the rest are watching the stock market tank. Well, either that, or it’s just a low pressure system that’s dropping over central coast.”

You may be wondering, what brought on our 72 hours of summer last week? The mini-heat wave was stoked by a high pressure system that was double parked in the white zone over Northern California. This pressure system, which is the same one Jason experienced last Tuesday afternoon when he went for his driver’s test, surpressed the army, navy and marine layer that usually keeps coastal temperatures Kool and the Gang. Thus came the sizzling triple digit heat, and I’m not talking Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. And yes, Jason now has a license to drive but has vowed to work his midrange game.

So, with summer still on the calender, I thought I would chase the bright elusive butterfly of love. For today’s photo ensemble, we are checking in on the fluttering world of butterflies. Five of the images were taken less than a mile from my compound here on the highly desirable upper westside, and if you really want to get upclose and personal, shots one, two and three, which were easy as A,B,C, were taken in my front yard. The butterfly relaxing in the sand was shot at up the coast at Ano Nuevo at my annual Navy Seals reunion.

There is so much to know about these little creatures, so thanks to our friends at, here are some fun facts about the world of entomology. Remember, here at Sunrise Santa Cruz, if we don’t have the answer, we’ll make it up. And if you have to wonder if it’s true, well, it’s probably not.

There are about 24,000 species of butterflies in the free world and Canada. Butterflies range in size from a tiny 1/8 inch to an almost huge 12 inches. And in a survey of 1,000 females butterflies, 90% said that size does matter.

Most butterflies live 20 to 40 days, which does not encourage investing in time shares or setting long-term goals. The longest lifetime of an adult butterfly is 9-10 months, in which time they marry, raise children, send them off to college, divorce and then split the proceeds from the sale of their cocoon.

Butterflies can see the colors red, green, and yellow, yet seem confused when they approach a traffic light. Butterflies can see ultraviolet light (light invisible to the human eye) which makes the markings on flowers and vegan restaurants very vivid to them and guides them to the nectar tubes and tofu salads. Some butterflies have ultraviolet reflectants or markings on their own wings which are visible only to other butterflies or really wealthy moths.

The top butterfly flight speed is 12 miles per hour, with a maximum of 10 miles per hour when flying in a school zone. Butterflies cannot fly if their body temperature is less than 86 degrees, unlike myself, who will not fly unless I’m packing enough Sun Chips and tri tip sandwiches to keep me munching from takeoff to landing.

Butterflies taste sensors are found in their feet, so they taste with their feet to find out whether the leaf they sit on is good to lay eggs on for their caterpillars’ food. That’s why many people won’t risk embarrasment of taking a butterfly to a party, because you never know when its going to put its foot in it’s mouth.

Butterflies have their skeletons on the outside of their bodies, called the exoskeleton. This protects them, keeps water inside their bodies so they don’t dry out and saves a hell of a lot of money on Halloween costumes.

The wings of butterflies are actually transparent. The vivid colors are due to overlapping bright scales, which they also use to weigh themselves. Their wings have 125,000 scales per square inch. Compare that to a human head, which has only about 100 hairs per square inch or Bruce Willis, who has none.

Many butterflies have intricate patterns on their wings which are intended for camouflage and showing off to relatives at family gatherings. The patterns are also useful in courtship rituals and knitting and crocheting. Butterflies fly in circles around one another to find a mate, which is very similar to the way I first approached Kim Guarnaccia at my first school dance.

Much like the thighs I use to make chicken parmesan, caterpillars are boneless, but have over 1000 muscles. Butterflies can’t hear, but they can feel vibration which works best when hiding from predators and bill collectors. And after bees and professional athletes, butterflies are the second largest group of pollinators in the world.

And finally,you’re probably wondering, what’s the difference between a moth and a butterfly? Well, moths twitter and fly at night and rest with their wings open. Butterflies facebook during the day and rest at night with their wings closed. And before a big game, one might experience butterflies, not moths. Personally, I had ice water in my veins so the subject and predicate never came up.

Not much this week on the late night front, but here’s one for Sasha and Malia.
“President Obama could not wait to get on vacation. As soon as the plane landed, he grabbed a couple beers and slid down the emergency slide.” –David Letterman

So that’s our last blast for August 2010. We had a beautiful sunrise on Saturday morning, which of course came on the only day this summer I slept past 6 am. I woke up to see clouds in the sky that were just minutes earlier full of color and immediately ran to my computer and googled the word “karma.”

For the sake of love, peace and my personal happiness, I’m not going to mention the situation in Afghanistan, Iraq or the Yankee’s starting rotation. But God bless our troops and the military families. They know what sacrifice is all about, and I’m not talking about a bunt to move the runner into scoring position. So enjoy the late summer action and we’ll catch you on the disabled list. Aloha, mahalo and later, Steven Strasburg fans.


  1. Today’s post reminds me of the seven layer cakes we used to devour back in the old country. You have thick rich veins of humor mixed with alternating layers of interesting facts. And that first picture is outstanding – it set my heart all aflutter…

    Comment by Marcus Thames — August 30, 2010 @ 6:59 am

  2. Great article…fascinating and beautiful

    Comment by Babs — August 30, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

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