July 10, 2011

Hope Doesn’t Float

Good morning and greetings, summer weather fans. It’s the time of year that folks jam Highway 17 to flock to the beaches here on the central coast. As for myself, due to the fact that the sun is no longer my friend and the water temperature (57 degrees) is a tad cool, you won’t find me frolicking in the waves or burying myself in the sand. And besides, with the chilliness of the water, in the words of George Constanza, we are looking at “significant shrinkage.”

So when I ran across a story written by Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury News that may affect beachgoers here on Monterey Bay, I
wanted to get the word out to the people.

Back in March, Japan was hit by an devastating earthquake and tsunami that decimated the landscape north of Tokyo. It was truly March Madness. Millions of tons of debris, including everything from couches to convertibles to chop sticks, were swept into the ocean. This conglomeration is now floating in the Pacific and heading towards the west coast. More than 200,000 buildings were washed out to sea by waves the size of Godzilla. This has created a floating concoction of rubbish never before seen on the open seas, the History Channel or at a Tea Party convention.

Like a floating flea market of assorted junk, this giant mass is moving
across hundreds of miles of the open Pacific. We’re talking cars,
boats and even fully furnished homes that are bobbing along in the Pacific, which could create real problems for ships, marine life and Somali pirates. By the way Russell Crowe flies, it is expected to say aloha to the Hawaiian Islands by next spring and hit the beaches in California, Oregon and Washington in 2013 or early 2014. It will give new meaning to the term “the coast is clear.”

This body of awful Japanese memories is moving at a rate of about 10 miles a day, or the same distance I run twice daily in preparation for the Ultra Ironman Triathlon. It is spread out over an area about 350 miles wide and 1,300 miles long, which is basically the size of California without Starbucks or In-N-Out Burgers. What makes it even trickier is that neither scientists or skim boarders know the exact density of this mess, as to what is still floating and what, like my hopes of my future being ahead of me, have sunk.

The Pacific Ocean is a rather large glass of water, as there is about 3,800 miles of wide open ocean between the land of the Rising Sun and Waimea Bay. If the debris doesn’t make it to our shores by 2014,
it will end up in the “North Pacific Garbage Patch,” a lovely little spot
1,000 miles west of California where plastic goes to die. Reports
say it is three times the size of Texas and that several dozen abandoned yachts have been spotting in this floating continent of litter. I believe it all comes down to the the scene in “The Graduate” when a Los Angeles businessman takes Dustin Hoffman aside and declares, “I just want to say one word to you — just one word — plastics. There’s a great future in plastics.”

So coming to our shores sometime in the near future, the newest
Japanese import, a gigantic floating mass of tragedy never before seen, courtesy one of the great natural disasters of our lifetime. No one knows for sure how much of an environmental mess this will result in, but either way, it will certainly be an unfortunate and inconvenient truth.

So while we’re on the subject of beaches, I thought for our photographic test flight that we would journey up to one of the hidden jewels of the north coast, Panther Beach or as others prefer, Hole-In-The-Wall Beach. The color of the sandstone cliffs here is beyond amazing, as are the number of sea stars and sea anemomes that
cling to the jagged rocks. This wind-swept spot is just south of Davenport, less than ten minutes from the westside and well-worth the trip. And here’s a little tip-the beach is only accessible at low tide, so check your charts before you head north.

Now for a little late night. “North Korea has shut down all of its
universities for 10 months so students can work in factories. Or, as they call it in North Korea, ‘spring break.’” –Conan O’Brien “We’re celebrating our independence from the British. I hope that in a
couple years, we’ll be able to celebrate our independence from the
Chinese.” –David Letterman “The Senate canceled their vacation to work on the budget. Either they really can’t agree or they’re looking for an excuse to not go on vacation with their families.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“The government is warning that terrorists may try to blow up airplanes by implanting bombs under their skin. The airlines responded by saying they’ll charge any terrorists that do this a $50 carry-on fee. “According to the New York Times, a cell phone found in Osama bin Laden’s compound had phone numbers belonging to Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. But authorities say it’s unlikely they ever spoke because apparently bin laden had AT&T. “A new study shows that home births are up 20% in the united states. More and more moms are giving birth at home. Or as in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s case, giving birth in the home they’re cleaning.” –Jay Leno

So another week is in the books. For Yankee fans, history was made on Saturday when Mariah Carey’s favorite Bronx Bomber, Derek Jeter, became the first pinstriper in history to collect 3,000 hits in a career. The Yankee shortstop embodies what is great and classy about sports, and that fact that he reached this epic mark with a home run on a 3-2 pitch, went 5-5 on the day and had the game-winning RBI made it even better.

So enjoy the warm days of “Friday Night Lights” and we’ll catch you around the batting cage. Aloha, mahalo and later, Minka Kelly fans.


  1. The never ending Japanese earthquake and tsunami tradegy seems to be with our global community for years to pass. Are you at the batting cage as a fan or to be fanned?

    Comment by Babs — July 11, 2011 @ 7:43 am

  2. The sun is no longer your friend? Surely you’re still on speaking terms – after all, no sun, no sunrises. As far as the tsunami debris goes, good thing we’re going to Hawaii this summer. And now that the Sunday Times Week in Review section no longer features late night humor Sunrise Santa Cruz once again regains it’s spot as the go to site for the best of last weeks monologues. Thanks for the effort and please keep up the fine work!

    Comment by David Robertson — July 11, 2011 @ 8:44 am

  3. Mariah Carey is history. I wear the I Love Derek Jeter pajamas now!

    Comment by Minka Kelly — July 11, 2011 @ 10:55 am

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