The Incredible Exploding Whale

With all that has happened/is happening in 2020, most of us are looking forward to moving into a new year. But not every event was bad. The city of Florence on the Oregon coast dedicated a new park.

To generate enthusiasm for the park’s opening, the city solicited suggestions from the public for its name. A hundred and twenty submissions were winnowed to nine that were submitted to the public for a vote. The winner: “Exploding Whale Memorial Park.

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If You Miss Flying

Had enough sheltering in place? Want to travel but most every place is closed and other countries won’t let in people from the U.S.? Miss seeing the sights through tiny scratched-up airplane windows? Qantas satisfied those desires with a flight to literally nowhere.

Qantas offered 150 seats on a 787 Dreamliner (not built in South Carolina, I hope) seven-hour flight from Sydney to Sydney. The aircraft flew as low as 4,000 feet so passengers could watch the scenery. They were served airplane versions of classic Aussie meals.

Prices ranged from US$566 to $2,734. The flight sold out in ten minutes.
Don’t want to put out that much money to spend seven hours inside a metal tube and not get anywhere? Singapore Airlines is selling meals on parked Airbus A380 planes. A meal served to you in business class costs US$240; economy is only about US$40. It took twenty minutes to sell out the first seating.

For you who want to eat airplane food in the comfort of your home, Finnair has begun selling “Taste of Finnair” meals in supermarkets. The business-class meals, including Finnish treats such as reindeer meatballs, sell for about ten euros (US$12). The strategy is an attempt to keep the airline’s catering employees working. The meals have been modified, using less salt and spices than those in the air, where people’s sense of taste is dulled by high altitude.

Bon voyage!

Solving the Wild Peeing Problem

It’s been a problem as long as guys have been drinking beer. There’s not always a nearby place to relieve one’s self. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem. Fewer public rest rooms are open. Many businesses although open, have closed their facilities, even to customers.

Public urination causes problems and not just of decorum. Urine has a corrosive effect on buildings and other structures. (In my urban neighborhood, it’s mostly dogs leaving their stains and aroma on building corners, pillars and posts.) In the city of Amsterdam, fifteen people a year fall in and drown when pissing into canals. But the city is doing something about what they call the “wild peeing.”

A Dutch company is marketing “GreenPee,” a stand-alone urinal that requires no plumbing or sewer connection. GreenPee is a planter with vegetation growing out if it. On the side is an opening with a target zone for a person to aim at. Inside the planter is hemp which captures the urine. Amsterdam says that since they began installing GreenPee planters in 2018, wild peeing has been reduced by half. (They have also installed a few retractable urinals for women.) The hemp-urine mixture is composted and becomes a phosphate-rich organic fertilizer.

The GreenPee has a reservoir to collect rainwater for the greenery at the top of the unit. The planters also attract bees and other insects that are necessary for a healthy ecosystem.

GreenPee not only gives people something to aim at, but also converts that urine into something useful. A few of these could be helpful in our cities’ tent encampments.

Seagulls in the Pandemic

Major League Baseball teams are playing sixty-game schedules for the 2020 season. Games are played in empty ball parks, no spectators in attendance.

The San Francisco Giants, and many other teams, are filling the ball park seats with life-size photograph cutouts. For $99, a Giants fan can have a photo representation of her or his self occupying a seat in the grandstand. A purchaser has the option of requesting a seat near a famous Giant (Willie Mays or Willie McCovey, anyone?) or other Bay Area celebrity (Jerry Rice or Jerry Garcia, for examples).

Every other year, fans attending San Francisco Giants night games at PacBell SBC AT&T Oracle Park could always count on the late-inning arrival of hungry seagulls swooping around just above the ball field, anxious for the crowd to leave so they could attack the left-behind food detritus.

No more. The gulls quickly realized no fans means no food and that presumedly are looking elsewhere for gourmet gull food. With no live people or birds, Giants management has done the only sensible thing. High up in the bleachers are cutouts of seagulls. No word on how the birds paid their $99, though.

So far, the Giants appear to be in little danger of playing more than sixty games. Sixteen teams will be in the post-season playoffs; not likely, the Giants will be one of those sixteen.

Monuments to the President

Portland has been the recipient of invective from the right-wing noise machine and has suffered physical abuse from Department of Homeland Security border/immigration secret police. But the City of Roses does not harbor grudges. This week it hosted an art installation honoring the current occupant of the White House.

Living statues, covered in gold (of course!) appeared on the downtown waterfront one morning.

The Portland display was the work of the Trump Statue Initiative, their second. Their first presentation appeared mid-July in Washington D.C.

Titled Ode to Putin, the exhibition of three living statues was gone by afternoon.

Science Marches Onward

COVID-19, protests in the streets, deployment of secret federal paramilitary personnel into our streets and the general idiocy of the current occupant of the White House and his GOP toadies… well, really important news can be overlooked.

After much study, researchers have finally determined how many hot dogs a human person can possibly eat in ten minutes. Years of gathering data from Nathan’s Famous’s famous annual fourth-of-July hot-dog-eating contest, have produced the definitive answer: eighty-three.

This is good news. We now know that it’s possible the current record can be broken. Thirteen-time champion Joey Chestnut bested his own world record this year by consuming seventy-five hot dogs—with buns—in the allotted time. Miki Sudo set the women’s record, forty-eight and-a-half hot dogs, for her seventh consecutive win.

To provide some perspective, scientists calculated other animals’ capacity, with adjustment for body mass. Grizzly bears can eat eight hot dogs per minute, but only are able to last six minutes, so can’t match Mr. Chestnut’s record. A gray wolf, however, is capable of consuming eleven per minute. Researchers did not reveal how they were able to measure bears’ and wolves’ hot dog eating talents.

The key facility for speed-eating success is the stomach’s ability to stretch. Winners have stomachs that are able to stretch and increase volume to take in more food. Also-ran competitors, on the other hand, have stomachs that don’t stretch. When capacity is reached, the stomach must pass contents into the intestines before it can take in more. The intestines, well, you know… Joey Chestnut apparently has been able to increase his stomach’s stretchiness and thus surpass his previously-set records. Maybe someday he will confound science and eat eighty-four hot dogs in ten minutes.