30 October 2007

Bush, Arnold, and the mailboxes

First things first: The fires are being contained; 16 fires are 100% contained and the remaining 7 are between 65% and 97% contained. As mentioned the weather is better for fighting fires now: Saturday the Santa Barbara area got a bit of rain and it has been notably cooler too. Today was a little warmer again, but nothing like last week.

Therefore we find it appropriate to be happy that two of the current themes here on our blog have been united in the picture above. It is nice to see that the U.S. Mail mailboxes are so resistant towards fire that not even the pole holding them appears harmed in any way. On the other hand we are disappointed that Arnold and George apparently don't even care to stop and that a look at this feat...

29 October 2007

Still not threatened

Caring mails and text messages from people far away lets us know that Santa Barbara has been mentioned as the northernmost county affected when news reporters speak of the recent fires here in California.

And it is true that a single fire did start in the mountains here, but was quickly contained and no new fires were reported in the area since that one. Santa Barbara county was primarily considered part of the emergency area due to a high risk of new fires - the high temperatures, the tinder dry plants and the low humidity being the reasons here.

But apart from news from the south (last week our previous housemate who relocated to San Diego was preparing to evacuate) we don't see much of the fires here in Goleta. On some days the sun light has been a little strange, and there has been small amounts of ashes in the air (but nowhere near as much as in August). Actually we could enjoy summerlike weather and warm nights for a couple of days, but that's over now.

Click on the map for a larger view.

25 October 2007

We're not on the map

As some people have noted the weather has been kind of crazy lately. Well, here in Santa Barbara it has actually been pretty nice these last few days, but strong winds south of here have been a significant factor in recent wildfires. Winds up to 90 mph doesn't make it any easier to contain the fires.

Actually some 900,000 people have been evacuted; far the majority of them in the San Diego area, but Malibu wasn't a great place to hang out either. Several large houses have burned and the Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu to LA is closed.

The fires themselves are horrible, but one of the biggest problems have been that at times there simply weren't anymore firefighters to send to new fires.

But nice and cozy Santa Barbara is apparently leeward and the winds haven't been bad here, and today there hasn't really been any ashes in the air either.

It looks like the winds are changing now - so let's hope for the best.

The map is from CNN and you'll notice that none of the fires marked on it are very near to Santa Barbara.

21 October 2007

Duststorm in Goleta

There we were thinking that it would be nice with a little bikeride on a saturday afternoon, to get a little fresh air, when we discovered that the sky had a strange brownish colour. Not discouraged by this development we started out anyway - only to discovere a few moments later that we were crying from all the dust getting in our eyes. This time it wasn't ashes, but rather sand and judging by the high temperature it was carried here by a strong wind from further inland.

16 October 2007

West Campus Mailboxes

Now it can't be postponed any longer - it's already been far too much time since we promised you a presentation of the West Campus mailboxes.

The first picture on the right shows our own mailbox - behind the little door with the etched '11' we recieve our mail. As well as a good deal of mail for Han Chen and other previous tenants.

That we're not the only ones here with the problem of recieving mail for previous tenants whose address(es) one doesn't know is shown quite clearly in picture #2 (click on it for larger view) - we sense a desperate cry for help.

Unfortunately we're going to assume that this request from the frustrated mailbox owner is utterly futile since she/he didn't pay sufficiently close attention to the design of the mailbox. The observing reader probably already noticed that the mailboxes don't have any slits in the doors so that nothing can be put into them this way. Unless of course the mailman would unlock them individually and put the mail in. Does that sound plausible? No, we didn't think so.

We would now like you take a look at picture #3 showing the bacside of the mailbox. One suspects that the backside of the mailbox might serve other purposes than to merely be the back wall of the mailbox.

In the last picture we caught an on-duty mailman doing his duty so you can see how it all works.

15 October 2007

Is that the famous beer tree?

When we're out biking, going through IV almost never disappoints. Usually there's a really good chance of seeing something peculiar.

Del Playa Drive didn't fail us on this Sunday, since we found this lovely creation in a front yard.

For those of our readers unfamiliar with this area we'll just say that IV - as you might gather from the picture - is a neighbourhood heavily influenced by the large number of college students living there. Furthermore, Del Playa Drive is the most prestigious street to live on in this part of town, not least due to its location right by the beach (hence the street name...).

13 October 2007

Clinique Christmastime

One advantage of shopping expencive cosmetics here in the States - besides the much lower prices of course - is that one almost always receives samples or other small presents with the purchases; whether they occur online or in the department stores. These samples are very handy when one is travelling quite a bit.

However, this time Clinique almost went overboard in enclosing no less than 3 sponge bags and oceans of other samples, since it is the two boxed items in the left hand side of the picture that Lisbeth actually ordered and paid for!

11 October 2007

Navy seal?

It has occured to us that we've forgotten to tell you about some of the wonderful mail we're getting here: All the letters trying to recruit Tue for a whole range of different military units. Apparently you're allowed to fight side by side with the proud sons of America even if you're a non-resident alien. We didn't look into whether or not signing up results in a green card with any further ado.

In today's letter we find that a number of their reasons for joining up are somewhat off the mark for Tue:

First of all they're drawing attention to all the exciting things you can experience before you turn 30... a little late for Tue.

Secondly there's the financial incentive in the form of 3 years paid education without any obligations - untill you graduate, that is! - also a little late for Tue. That is if he wants to have any economic gain from joining their program.

Finally they're advertising that you can get your 'Wings of Gold' and travel to interesting places around the globe. Something we hope isn't sufficient reason for the young men to risk their lives, and something which certainly doesn't attract a non-nationalistic Danish globetrotter.

The worst part is their hard-pumped slogan "Accelerate your life" (!!) - yes, thank you very much, speeding up the approach of the end of it as well we assume..

09 October 2007

HS9: Tropical Botanical Garden

After spending a good part of the day in Hilo we went to Onomea Bay in the afternoon to visit the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. Here Tue came down with a bad case of acute trigger happyness and he would not relent until the camera gave up and demanded a freshly charged battery.

Actually there has been relatively few pictures of plants here on the blog considering just how many such we brought home from the vacation - but maybe it's all for the best. But this one, a very impressive flower we will insist on showing you.

05 October 2007

Tue's Big Day

Today we were invited to the award ceremony for the fellowship Tue was told already in May he would recieve this fall.

There was a long list of fellows, but as the only one Tue was allowed to say something because the dean (the woman in the picture below) didn't dare try to pronouce the title of his thesis. We agreed that she probably did not originate from the department of natural sciences...

The diplomas were handed out by the chancellor of UCSB himself; something we believe he has tried once or twice before in the past as he was very good at smiling directly at the camera.

02 October 2007


One evening while the summer camp visitor was still here he came into the living room and said there was a lizard in the bathroom. We hurried out there together to investigate. It turned out that one of the small lizards we normally see speeding around here on West Campus had found its way into our tooth mug. In full daylight they are much too fast for us to take pictures of them, but in the somewhat cooler air of night it was a lot slower. Of course the confinement also helped. Shortly after taking this picture we let it out into 'the wild' right outside our front door. Since then we've seen one that looks just like it in the shrubs outside so we're assuming it's alive and well.

01 October 2007

HS8: Mail horse

One of the days we were on Hawaii, after doing some snorkling in tidepools and natural hot ponds and having lunch in pine forest right on the coast we turned inland and drove directly up Saddle Road from Hilo aiming for the pass between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.

It's quite possible that the views are excellent on clear days but when we were there it was either very foggy or we were simply driving in a cloud. As we came down on the other side the landscape became charactherized by ranches, cattle and horses. Most dominating is Parker Ranch which is one of the largest in all of the US (and older than most others too).

Waimea where we lodged for the last 3 nights on the island thus offers both surf shops, rodeo and this mailbox, which it seems to us could have been destined to bear some connection to this one..