Pandodyssey™ Panda Blog

This is a blog devoted to Giant Panda enthusiasts, environmental wanna-bes and peace loving funimals, world-wide.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Another California Milestone

Quake Near La Jolla Shakes Many Awake

Among my other many illustrious California accomplishments - catching a Pacific Ocean wave, eating my first fish taco, and as of yesterday, dog poop nazi - here's another to add to the growing list: earthquake survivor!

NBC news is reporting that a small 3.5 magnitude earthquake struck San Diego early Thursday morning. The quake was centered five miles south-southwest of La Jolla and eight miles west of downtown San Diego, according to the U.S. Geographical Survey.

The small quake jolted many San Diegans and pandologists awake at exactly 2:53 AM. I know this because I was startled awake to closet doors that were waving in the nighttime breeze....hey wait a minute! Metal closet doors don't "wave" in the breeze! E rolled over and mumbled "...think we...just survived our first earthquake....zzzzzzzzzz..."

According to my Geo 101 memory, most of California lies on the San Andrea Fault. A fault is the space between two tectonic plates (made up of the Earth's crust) that are trying to sidle gracelessly past each another. As they attempt to grind past one another, tension builds up between the Pacific Plate (heading northwest) and the North American Plate (heading southeast). Occasionally the tension is so great the plates "slip" and cause quakes.

From Geo 102 I recalled that little slips cause little quakes and that's good because they keep The Big One at bay. Still, no telling when The Big One will occur. Maybe that was covered in Geo 103 which I didn't take.

For more information on the San Andreas Fault and The Big One, go to the USGS site.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

China's Got a Greep GDP, Why Don't We?

This is a GREAT news item from the NYT. It's long (6+ minutes) but totally worth the watch. The correspondent describes how China, in an effort to curb a potential environmental disaster resulting from rapid expansion and exponential growth, has devised a "Greep GDP" whereby they subtract the environmental costs of the GDP, to arrive at a truer reflection on the health of China's economy.

So, what's the US's Green GDP? How are we doing?

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the OB poo patrol

This is a tirade against low-life non-poo-picker-uppers, but ultimately, it's a story about respect.

This morning I took the twin terrors out for a walk in the beautiful, hot socal sunshine. We made quite a hike out of it, as it had been a couple days since our last long walk, and so were all relieved and happy to turn back onto our street for the home stretch. About a block in front of us walked a man and his dog. The man - friendly looking, nicely dressed in pressed khakis and a short sleeve collared shirt (trust me, that is "nicely dressed" for OB) - paused on the sidewalk to let his dog do his dog thang. As I walked closer, I saw that his dog had definitely assumed the "poop squat" position and thus, was assumingly taking his Numero Dos. Move along folks, nothing exciting to see here, right? Except that upon the man's dog completing his doody, THE MAN WALKED AWAY.

Now, living in Ocean Beach - the dog (crap) capital of San Diego, one sees a LOT of dog poop. Yes, it is as bad as one would imagine the dog (crap) capital would necessarily have to be but, you take the good with the bad. The good being dogs are welcome everywhere in OB; the bad being that dog poop winds up everywhere. It's disgusting. It's not limited to yards and parks, but often in the street, on the sidewalk, stuck in the tread of your shoe... suffice it say that despite there being LOTS of very responsible dog owners who not only pick up their dog's crap but others too, there are also lots of IGNORANT @$$H@TS who live or visit OB, such as nicely dressed dude in khakis.

So this scene is unfolding before my eyes 3/4 of a block ahead of me, and my little brain is trying to process what I'm seeing and it goes "...that guy...the went....and he just...AUGH!" While "Poo Vigilante" is not one of the causes I normally advocate, I became one at that precise moment. Visions of flaming bags of dog crap hurled mercilessly at this ignorant piece of pond beetle scum's immaculately pressed trousers danced in my head. Maybe because it happened on MY street? Maybe because I accidentally brewed myself decaf this morning? (haha, I don't even BUY decaf!) Maybe because I'm jobless and can't find better ways of occupying my time? I don't know what happened, which straw broke the poo nazi's back, but it did. I was fuming.

Duke & Sally & I hustled up the street to catch up with the perp and the perp's dog. As we trod past the scene of the crime, I made visual confirmation of a brand new, still stinking BIG ole pile o' crap right where I'd seen it all go down. I should pause to mention that his was not a little dog - not that size matters when it comes to picking up poo - but still. This was no dachshund-sized doody. This was the work of a working breed dog. I should also pause to mention that the nice owners of the yard in which his dog did his business, always have a big bag full of plastic bags with a sign on it that says "For the convenience of dog owners". I know this because sometimes I run out of bags (what can I say, except I have two dogs who poop a lot?) and have been thankful to use theirs. Yes, today, there were plenty of bags available within twenty feet of where his dog crapped.

The man and his dog make the turn from Narragansett onto Cable - across the street from the bus stop where several OBecians stood waiting for their morning municipal ride. Afraid that I was going to lose my nerve or lose him, I hollered out to him: "SIR! SIR!!! DID YOU FORGET TO PICK UP YOUR DOG'S CRAP BACK THERE?" and I gave him the biggest, saccharin-sweet smile as I yelled it, startling the bus stop people from their morning doze.

He stammered, something about "...ummm, yeah I'm going back to get it...." UH HUH. Riiiight. Sure ya are. But me, having this morning donned the crown of saccharin-sweet fake-nice princess of the OB Poo Patrol, gave him the benefit of the doubt and all I said was "OKAY, THANKS!!" and smiled at the people at the bus stop. I might've said "ok" however, I, and I'll bet most of the people at the bus stop, don't believe you. All signs are pointing towards total and utter BS on your part, "SIR," but you know what? I'm a nice person. I'll admit that I don't know you at all, or your circumstances, so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you didn't see that bag FULL of plastic bags, even though there is a sign on it that says it's explicitly for dog poop, maybe you don't read English (though you seemed to speak it just fine). Maybe you're just a tourist and don't know about scooping poop from wherever you're from. Maybe you were having something of a stinky emergency yourself this morning, and couldn't spare the time or the spinal agility to bend over and pick up what's legally your responsibility. Maybe. All of these maybes are the only reason why I didn't get ghetto OB-style on you and raunchy dog's a$$ this morning.

I could've been a LOT nastier. I have two insane mongrels, one of whom hates other dogs, so I feel more empowered than I ought to in moments like this. My dog would never hurt you or your dog, but I guarantee he can scare the crap out of you both (pun so intended!) if I let him. Fortunately there's that whole "I'm a nice person" thing again, and I don't give in to every deliciously mean and naughty whim that crosses my mind. Even when I maybe should.

I could've picked up your dog's poop for you, but then what would that have accomplished? I often pick up other dog's crap because I don't want to walk in it and I don't want my dogs walking in it. It's not out of societal responsibility, it's out of disgustedness. So, yes I could have picked it up for you but then, guess what? I would've HANDED it directly to you for proper disposal, along with a few choice words about how you make all dog owners look bad by your ignorance and laziness and how you are indeed a douche.

No SIR, you as my elder and as a general member of society received the benefit of the doubt that you are due, if not necessarily deserved, in this instance. Personally, I know you are as full of crap as the yards you let your dog enter, and that you don't have any intention of going back to pick up the poop. Unfortunately, you have had the misfortune to have done this on MY route, so now I get to see once, even twice a day, whether or not you have kept your promise.

All I can say SIR, is that you've been proffered more respect than you have earned. Do the right thing and GO BACK AND PICK IT UP. If you don't, I hope to God that you're a tourist and leave OB soon, because if that pile is still there later today or tomorrow, I will assume you are a liar and will be on the lookout for you. Not in an insane "i'm a goin to hunt you down" sorta way, but much in the same way you came serendipitously into my life this morning, by chance. And if by chance I see you and your dog again, all due respect will be thrown out the window. And then this rant will become a recurring story as I detail what other crimes against humanity you commit within eyeshot.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A new breed of baby boomer

Panda boomers, that is!

This article from The Hindu Online addresses the recent boom in panda births in China over the last couple of years. Years in the making, this boom is a mixed blessing as pandas large and small begin to overrun the place.

If they want, I'll take some off their hands. They can sleep in my tub.

Pictured right: Cutest infestation ever!

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Oops Our Bad

According to this study out of Cardiff University, pandas are not the evolutionary dead ends some once thought them to be. It was once believed by some that the panda's solitary nature, picky palate and slow reproductive rate were the only factors behind the decline of panda populations. It was once believed that giant pandas were going extinct as a result of their inadaptibility.

Thanks to the scientists at Cardiff U, those myths have been questioned and debunked. In addition to the panda's eccentric nature, a fourth and more immediately devastating cause of population decline was uncovered: Man. Under the Cardiff study, panda population decline can be directly attributed to man's intervention more so than any other factor. Deforestation and poaching are the major man-made contributors to panda population decline. The Cardiff scientists say that if efforts are made to restore the giant pandas' habitat and reforest the areas where they range, giant pandas stand a good chance of surviving and evolving on their own two paws.

Pictured right: panda sushi (looks like, not made of. I don't know what this image has to do with anything, but it seemed to fit.)

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Been There, Done Panda

According to this article in the San Diego Union Tribune, we're over it! Newborn baby panda? Meh. So what? San Diego has seen several of those. Big deal huh?

Pandologists (and other panda people) take heart! It's okay that people are feeling a bit ho-hum about another panda births. Let's hope that one day, panda births are so common it isn't even newsworthy anymore. Feeling blase over yet another baby panda is way better than feeling blase over whether pandas go extinct.

Pictured right: They should name me Cotton Candy.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Sneaky butterstick

Congratulations to a continent: a female panda in Vienna's Tiergarten Schoenbrunn Zoo gave birth to her first cub last Thursday, the first panda cub born in Europe in 25 years. The last panda cub born in Europe was in 1982 in Madrid, Spain.

[Pictured right: cubs make yummy snacks]

The cub's birth came as a complete surprise to Austrian zoo officials, as they were unaware that Yang Yang was even pregnant after they mated her with Long Hui in the spring. Equally surprising is the fact that she was impregnated by natural means, not artificial insemination. Most pregnant pandas in captivity conceive via artificial means.

Sounds like the general panda population could take an evolutionary cue from these two.

It also sounds like they need some certified pandologists working over there at the Austrian Zoo!

Update: This little cub was a twin; his/her sibling didn't survive.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007


The Natural Resources Defense Council released their Annual Beach Report today. Among the beaches tested was Dog Beach, down the street from my house. The results:

Dog Beach, O.B., San Diego River Outlet
San Diego, CA — San Diego County
How Often Beach Water is Tested
Once a week

Number of Water Samples Taken in 2006 / Percentage That Violated Health Standards
90 / 12%
When you consider that Tijuana is just 20 miles down the coast, 12% doesn't sound too shabby.

Still, eww.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

is it midnight yet?

This famous guy has a new environmental movie out and initial reviews are unfortunately lukewarm. Reuters tries to be nice about it by touting The Eleventh Hour's message over the movie's substance - not a good sign.

One reviewer goes so far as to lament that "the film has the unfortunate effect of making the multiple-Oscar-nominated star seem somehow less charismatic than Al Gore." Ow, definitely not a good sign.

Hopefully, audiences will cleave to the movie's message and ignore the movie's first time directors' clumsy execution. Hopefully Leo's gravitational pull will carry this movie, and it won't sink faster than ... a really big boat.

Pictured above: aforementioned multiple-Oscar-nominated star.

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Not Em-bare-assed in the Least

So 600 people are standing naked on a glacier...

It's no joke. Greenpeace, the dare-to-be-non-violent-enviro-activist group, sent 600 of their least modest members to team up with artist Spencer Tunick for a group project on a Swiss glacier to raise awareness about global nudity and shrinkage.

Spencer Tunick, renown for his large installations of nudes in urban settings, shot this one on the Aletsch Glacier, which is the largest glacier in the Alps. The Aletsch Glacier is in a steady retreat due to the effects of global warming. Some scientists predict that at this rate, all the Swiss glaciers will be melted by 2080 if left unabated.

Pictured above: seven butts.

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It's Pandamonium Down Under

This is some Australian guy's first hand account of his harrowing journey through inner-China, ending with a fight to the finish in an historic battle royale against ferocious forest dwelling beasts in which he barely escaped with his life.

"Those black eyes ... they will haunt my nightmares forever" he said of his perilous adventure and near death experience.

Pictured above: the aussie's attacker

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Recycle vs. Reuse

Boxers or briefs?

Not that age old question, but a different one: paper or plastic? The debate rages on! It occurred to me today that I can't even remember a time when a trip to the grocery store didn't end with a bored cashier's perfunctory inquiry: "Paper or plastic?"

Plastic bags used to be the environmental choice. Use plastic bags and save a tree! Now plastic bags are the bane of society, all the world over. Plastic is evil because it doesn't break down in the environment. Plastic is evil because it creates excess garbage. Plastic is evil because it's petroleum-based and we need every lick of oil for our cars until we can wean ourselves from the petroleum teat. Okay I get it. Plastic is bad. But then what do I do about it? Avoid it at all costs? Go bankrupt buying those nifty Whole Foods cotton bags at $6 a pop? (Whole Foods, overrated and overpriced.)

The bags I get from Target have helpful hints printed on them as to reuse ("repurpose" is what the cool kids call it), but does that even help the environment really? I reuse every plastic bag I get, mostly for picking up dog poop. Does the fact that I'm not aimlessly throwing the plastic bags away truly help the environment? Or does the fact that plastic doesn't break down mean I am actually creating little time capsules of dog poop, enshrining it for decades in non-biodegradable plastic tombs? For that matter, are the "biodegradeable" bags truly biodegradeable, and thus an acceptable alternative?

You know who must struggle the most with this? The poor bag boys (ahem, bag persons. I guess.) They have a really hard job, tiptoeing that fine line between cramming your stuff into too few bags - causing spillage of groceries and sundries, breakage of molecule-thin-bags, and incensing of soccer moms with soccer kids in tow - or, double, triple, quadruple bagging heavy, drippy, and frozen items, thusly creating the excess garbage that refuses to break down into anything remotely organic.

I had zero point to all this, aside from being mildly annoyed that there is little reliable information available for such a simple question.

Now excuse me while I go train my dog to poop into a paper bag.

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Green is the New Blog

Mei Sheng, a San Diego Zoo panda, celebrates his 4th birthday this week with fruitsicles and little fanfare. His only birthday wish was that the newborn baby panda, of yet undetermined sexual identification or orientation, would wander into the polar bear habitat and get eaten alive. Mei, what a jealous panda!

Pictured right: a panda who looks too old to be Mei Sheng but is cute regardless.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

This Could Be You!

See a couple of pandas behind some glass in some overcrowded humid city zoo enclosure? Bah! This guy -----------------> travelled all the way to China to pet a whole bunch of baby pandas. I have to warn you - this article will make you green with envy and possibly induce serious spontaneous trip-planning. Amazingly, it only costs $130 to cop a panda feel. TOO CUTE!

Sorry for the ugly link - I can't figure out if I can hyperlink through Safari so, well, deal.

Here's another article on four newborn panda cubs born on the same day in China. There are a couple of images showing interesting interaction between a mother panda - black, white, furry and huge - and her baby cub - tiny, pink, and wriggly looking.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

All Renewables Are Not Created Equal

That is what some science guys in Greece have discovered. They studied the output of solar, wind, and geothermal resources over the course of a whole life cycle assessment to ensure its pedi-green. They wanted to determine what the total environmental impact would be from these sources over the life of the system, and how energy output compared to that of fossil fuels.

They found that wind and geothermal sources were as efficient as their fossil fuel counterparts over one cycle. Solar sources were less efficient on the smaller scale than fossil fuels, but could be more efficient than fossil fuels on larger scales.

I don't know what happened to hyperlinking so here is the article:


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Androgynous Stick o' Butter, now one week old

The newest panda at the San Diego Zoo is doing great. He/She turned one week old on Friday. The cub's sex is still unknown, as zookeepers will keep their distance until the mama bear leaves the cub alone for longer periods of time.

Are we through yet, giving panda cubs silly rhyming Chinese names? Is it any wonder why they don't want to procreate with each other with names like Frou Frou and Ping Pong? (and the 3 centimeters business - that could have something to do with it as well.)

Isn't it about time we started giving these American born pandas, American names? That way, even though we have to return them to China, at least we'll be able to distinguish them from the native-born pandas. Why not something really American like Chevrolet? Or Tiger Woods? Who's chairing this committee anyway?

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Wave Hello To the New Kid On the Block

The Seattle Times reports that test buoys will be deployed in a matter of weeks off the coast of Oregon, the first wave power technology test of this scale to be conducted to date in the US.

Wave power is like the newborn baby of the renewable energy kindergarten class. It's new and shiny and holds incredible, yet to be unleashed, potential. It's promise is great, with some experts estimating that, if done right, wave energy output could well exceed that of wind power. However waves are also one of the more difficult energies to harness. While the energy in waves and tides is enormous, storing it and transporting it is the key hurdle to wave technology proliferation. At present, the costs of R&D in wave technology are huge in comparison to the rest of the renewable energy class. The upfront costs of installation and investment in wave technology also presents a significant hurdle to a technology that is new and untested.

Opponents remain unconvinced that wave power is the wave (har) of the future. Fishermen worry that they will have to negotiate large buoy fields in order to reach their fishing grounds, or will be barred from fishing their prime spots altogether. Conservationists - you'd think they'd be on board right? - worry that an infrastructure of wave buoys connected by underground cables could impede ocean life and entangle certain migratory species like whales.

All in all, consensus seems to be that we just don't know what potential wave technology holds, and even its detractors are not adamant in their opposition to the technology. Rather, they are raising their concerns about its potential negative impact, giving wave tech proponents the opportunity to develop it with their cooperation. A couple of companies to be on the lookout for are Ocean Power Technology and Finavera Renewables Ocean Energy. These will be the guys who will be at the forefront of all that is wave.

This is truly exciting stuff! I can't wait to see how this technology evolves and where it could lead us. Wave technology might just evolve into the alma mater of the entire renewable energy class.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Yabaa Dabba Doo!

The HumanCar, is the world's first human-powered/electric hybrid automobile. Wait, is it even really an automobile? While you don't have to Fred Flintstone it, it does have 4 sets of pedals for all passengers and both front seats have a steering wheel so you can share captaining duties. It's not even available yet, but you can pre-order your very own HumanCar with a $500 deposit. You should probably consider this mode of transport only if you have fairly physically fit friends. According to the manufacturer, you can tell immediately who's slacking off. I bet Fred wished we'd had that option in the FlintMobile.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Public Service Announcement for VA/DC

The Queen of All Media, Perez Hilton himself, will be at Clarendon Ballroom next weekend along with a couple of douchebags from some band that sucks. The busiest blogger in the hemisphere will be there as part of a local radio promo. Get your pic taken with him and you'll probably wind up on the site. (and for the love of God, wear some freaking underpants if you plan on having your picture taken.)

I'd go if I still lived in Virginia because if I still lived in Virginia I wouldn't have anything better to do anyway. Plus it's free, so if the party sucks, you can still head over to mister days or that shady vietnamese buffet across the street for $5.50.

This has been a public service announcement, care of me.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Panda in Critical Condition After Giving Birth to Twins

A giant panda in China fights for her life today, after giving birth to twins last night. Jinzhu, an 11 year old panda residing at the Wolong Nature Reserve in the Sichuan province, is in critical condition. No further word on her status. Get well soon Jinzhu!

Jinzhu has had a history of medical intervention in her short life. Originally sexed as a male panda, it wasn't until she was six years old that zookeepers discovered that Jinzhu was actually a female. After a failed mating attempt with a female panda (insert lesbian joke here), Jinzhu was further examined and it was only then that it was discovered that she was actually a girl but her ovaries were in the wrong place. She underwent surgery and the anomaly was fixed.

When asked how this misidentification of sex could have occurred, a zoo caretaker responded "Well for starters, a male panda penis is only 3 centimeters long ... "

This explains a whooooole lot about why pandas don't reproduce well.

Update: Our little transsexual panda got better and is doing well!

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Take Stock of Renewables

In light of the proposed energy bill that's being tossed about in DC, I've been doing a lot of research into renewable energy companies. Solar, wind, biomass (still trying to figure out what that is exactly - I think it means "fuel from carbon things") wave technology, geothermal tech ... the list gets longer and longer every day. Renewables are a fast growing sector on Wall Street and, depending on Congress and the POTUS and what they do/don't do with the energy bill, this sector could be GINORMOUS in a matter of months.

With that in mind, here is a website with a very comprehensive list of the players, both big and small, currently dabbling in renewables. You'll notice that many of these companies are foreign and aren't even traded in US markets. The US is behind the rest of the world in renewable energy R&D (which goes hand in hand with our present woefully pathetic energy policy) but we, meaning the private sector, are rapidly catching up. Small speculative companies are popping up every where and even big guys, like GE, are suiting up to play as well.

Take Covanta Holding Corporation for instance. This New Jersey waste management company
is in the business of creating energy out of an abundantly available resource: trash. They pick up your refuse, transport it to an energy processing facility, burn it at upwards of 2000 degrees to heat water, convert the water into steam that rotates turbines, thus creating energy. Something to that effect. Now is that an efficient business model or what?

While considered a "renewable" technology by government standards, this process is not completely without its drawbacks. However, it's still contributing to the renewable effort. The ash that is leftover is used to make asphalt and other industrial stuff, and the process helps keep trash out of landfills, which creates ozone-depleting gas.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

some actual panda news

Summer is baby panda season - they're sprouting like weeds!

Bai Yun the panda has given birth! The sixteen year old panda at the San Diego zoo has given birth once more to healthy bouncy baby butterstick. A collective sigh went up all over downtown San Diego, followed immediately by a "What the #&%!???" as the San Diego Zoo panda cam immediately crashed. I think it's back up again. Click the link above to watch video of the birth (uhh, I didn't) or see the pandas in their zoo homes.

If you're going to be in Georgia this fall, join Zoo Atlanta in celebrating the one year birthday of their panda cub, Mei Lan. Birthday festivities will include a party and a sunset safari through the park.

When pandas attack - a zoo keeper in China required 100 stitches when he was attacked by a panda. I suspect he was trying to hug it.

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