So it wasn’t a good surfing day at the Santa Cruz Lighthouse when I took this photo. The waves were small, and they broke early. So what’s a hard-core surfer who’s not satisfied to go home going to do?

Well, what do you think? She traded her short hardboard for a soft longboard and started surfing whitewater and doing tricks like handstand surfing and one-legged surfing.

Let’s look at the surfboard she’s using, first of all. It’s a CBC 96 softboard. “Softboard” means it’s made of foam, rather than being a hard fiberglass or wood board. These 8′ high volume longboards are typically sold as beginner boards because it’s easier to stand up on them, they’re a far more stable platform due to their length, width, and high floatation value. Furthermore, if the board hits you when you fall off (as might happen if you’re a beginner or you’re doing tricks like handstands on the board), it’s, well, foam, so it doesn’t hurt like being hit by a chunk of fiberglass or wood. Brand new a CBC 96 will run you around $150. This particular CBC 96 is well used, you can’t see the wear and tear on it in this photo but she probably paid $50 for it on Craigslist as an addition to her collection of boards for times when a soft longboard is the only thing that will work. Because this is typically sold as a beginner board, from whence surfers graduate to better boards, there’s usually a lot of used boards like this on the market, and it’s probably been handed down via Craigslist from surfer to surfer as they graduated to better boards for years now.

Still, it was the right board for this day. Because they’re more stable than a hardboard, a softboard is perfect for whitewater. Because they float better than a hardboard, they’ll also let you surf smaller waves. The downside is that if the waves are high, they’re really hard to paddle out to where you start the runs because their profile is too high and the waves end up pushing you backwards (because you can’t duck under the waves like with a hardboard due to their high floatation factor), and because they’re not as heavy as a hardboard, you can’t surf high waves with them because they float too well and don’t drop fast enough to handle staying in front of a big wave. But that’s why she has multiple boards. It was the perfect board for the conditions she was in, doing the things she was trying to do (tricks like handstands and one-legged surfing).

Her wetsuit, on the other hand, was considerably more expensive. You need a wetsuit to surf in Santa Cruz. The water temperature is typically around 55F year round because of the Alaska Current. Cold shock from hitting the cold water would be extremely uncomfortable, and the cold water would result in hypothermia probably within less than an hour, followed within minutes by death since the waves would then smash her into the rocks. Since she was surfing for several hours, clearly that wasn’t in the cards here. A cheap wetsuit can be found for around $150, but a good wetsuit runs around $250 — or roughly 5 times what she paid for the surfboard — and you likely aren’t going to find a usable one in her size used, because the only time they tend to be discarded is when the seams give up the ghost or the surfer outgrows it. She’s a pretty hefty young lady so it’s unlikely she could have found something in her size on the used market in the first place.

The wetsuit she’s wearing is a Roxy Ignite Full Wetsuit, which is not a top of the line wetsuit but is not bargain basement either. They run around $250. It’s what’s called a “3/2″ wetsuit, with 3mm neoprene in the torso area, and 2mm neoprene in the limbs. It’s designed to be flexible and light, just what you want to be wearing if you’re going to be doing tricks and stunts on your surfboard, and is plenty warm for 55F water. It’s a good suit for what she was trying to do on that board, and I suspect she loves every penny that she spent on it.

So: Okay, it’s a cool picture of a young woman surfing in Santa Cruz. But the technology involved is fascinating too. Hopefully those of you who’ve actually surfed before can correct the things I got wrong, but for the rest of you, surfing’s come quite a ways since the 1960′s, and hopefully this gave you a little taste. As for me, I stick resolutely to dry land and let my camera do the surfing. But that doesn’t stop me from appreciating what I see out there when I take my camera to Santa Cruz!

(Photo taken with a Pentax K-50 DSLR with 55mm-300mm zoom, at 120mm zoom, with 4.5 aperture and 1/640sec shutter speed at ISO100).

- Badtux the Dry Penguin

What’s going on?

4 Non Blondes, “What’s Up”, from their 1992 album Bigger, Better, Faster, More!. Guitar-oriented indie goodness from the early 90′s. What’s not to like?

Linda Perry, the singer here, is now married to Melissa Gilbert of Roseanne fame. What a surprise, eh? Currently she works as a songwriter and producer behind several of the biggest pop divas out there, since she’s almost 50 years old now and long ago decided that, this hit aside, a singing career simply wasn’t going to work for her. Oh well, she sure has a big voice, eh?

- Badtux the Music Penguin

The negotiations are a lie.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Israel’s foreign minister both say they’re attempting to negotiate a cease-fire with Hamas so that civilians can be evacuated from war zones and food and water brought in for civilians. There is only one problem: Neither one will talk to Hamas, the people they’re supposedly attempting to negotiate a cease-fire with, because “we don’t negotiate with terrorists”.

There’s no such thing as negotiations with people you refuse to talk to. There are only “negotiations”, just a PR stunt on the part of the US and Israel. The reality is that neither Israel nor its junior partner, the United States, will talk to the people they’re supposedly negotiating with because neither one has any real interest in stopping the shooting until Israel has attained whatever military objectives Israel is interested in attaining. (Which objective I have no ideas about, unless it’s a re-enactment of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising with the Israelis playing the role of the Nazis and the Palestinians playing the role of the Jews, but I’m sure the Israelis must have *some* objective, right?)

Meanwhile, too bad about the dead Palestinian kids and those women and children that Israel killed by refusing to let them evacuate a school that was on the edge of a combat zone, but hey, they’re BROWN, so it’s not like they’re REAL kids, right? Right?

- Badtux the “It’s not racism if it’s Jews doing it right?” Penguin

Lake Street Dive, “Seventeen”, off their 2014 album Bad Self Portraits. Rachael Price sings some indie jazz (wtf?)…

I’m glad that Lake Street Dive is starting to get some more attention. Hopefully that keeps on going, because it’s neat that someone with a jazz background can start getting attention for something that is… not jazz, more of a jazzy pop.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

So Michelle Bachman opened her maw and obsessed about gay sex with children again, saying that gay marriage was, like, all about that. Somehow I think she’s confusing gay marriage with the Catholic Church. (ba da boom!).

But seriously, normal straight people just don’t think about gay sex all the time. Gay sex is something that happens *elsewhere*, somewhere that we don’t care about, because we’re too busy obsessing about sex with Scarlett Johansson . (Or if you’re female, whatever the current beefy heartthrob is, sorry, have no idea who it could be, because I’m male and straight and so, well, that just isn’t something I think about).

We have a word for people who obsess about gay sex all the time. That word is “gay”.

Closets. Closets the size of friggin’ mansions, these god-botherers have. Maybe they just need to admit reality and get on with having a gay old time rather than bothering the rest of us with their obsessions. Sheesh!



Just sayin’.

- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Sharon Van Etten, “Every Time The Sun Comes Up”, off her recent album Are We There.

- Badtux the Music Penguin

Once upon a time, Pizza Hut made edible pizzas, pizzas that didn’t taste like supermarket frozen pizzas.

This is a tale of that time, from before 1997, when PepsiCo divested itself of Pizza Hut in a leveraged buyout that left the resulting Yum! Brands with over $4.7Billion in debt to pay off. I delivered Pizza Hut pizzas in the late 80′s and early 90′s when I was in college. On class days I worked evenings, on days I had no classes scheduled I was an opener working from 8AM to 4PM when the evening crew started coming in. So I got to see the full gamut of operations.

When I started, we made our pizza dough fresh every morning. There were mixers and dough rollers and measuring scales. We sold three types of pizza: Pan pizza, hand tossed pizza, and thin-n-crispy pizza. There were two kinds of flour in the back, with different amounts of rising agent pre-mixed. The pan pizza and hand tossed pizza were actually the same dough, but the hand tossed were pressed thinner and then spun by hand and stretched onto a pan in order to activate the glutens, resulting in a thinner crust that still had more loft than the thin-n-crispy crust. Then once the dough was all pressed and in its pans (stretched into them in the case of the thin crust pizzas, just laid in the middle of the thick crust pans), the pans were placed in a proofer and left to rise. Once they had risen, they were moved into the refrigerator, with some going to the refrigerated racks under the make table.

By the time the restaurant opened for business at 11AM, the fresh vegetable delivery had already happened and the veggies washed and chopped into their containers, and the tomato sauce had been pre-mixed with spices and left to proof. Meats were pre-sliced/pre-mixed already and were in bins. When orders came in, they were marked by hand on tickets, and the tickets were slid onto the rack over the make table. A selection of pizza crusts were kept in refrigerated racks under the make table and were pre-sauced and pre-cheesed by the opening crew, as orders came in they were pulled out and toppings placed on them. Once the pre-sauced and pre-cheesed crusts ran out, they were sauced and cheesed as orders came in and crusts moved from the walk-in as needed.

Once the toppings were on the crust, they went into the conveyer belt oven. We had a single belt oven, but later we got a double-decker oven due to the large numbers of people who ordered our pizzas. As for the cost of the pizzas themselves, they were pretty expensive, but if you were ordering two pizzas and had a coupon the per-pie price wasn’t bad, something around $12 apiece in today’s dollars for a hand-made pizza with fresh ingredients (well, other than the meats, but there’s only so much you can do there if you don’t have your own packing plants like In’N’Out does).

Then the buyout/spinoff happened in 1997. I had long since moved on, of course but had some interest in what happened. The new Yum! Brands had massive debts. Those debts had to be paid off. They couldn’t raise prices because of competition. Instead, they cut costs. They cut the number of drivers, which caused pizzas to get to people late. They cut the quality and quantity of ingredients put onto the pizzas. And finally, in the coup de grace, they quit making dough fresh at the stores every morning. Instead, they send flat frozen disks of pizza dough. The end result of all this cost-cutting is that the cost of making a pie dropped from around $4.97 to around $1.87.

And, of course, the pizza became inedible, no better than a supermarket frozen pizza. But hey, people keep buying it, right? Well, in places where they have no real pizza choices, that is.

Now, multiply this story by hundreds of times for hundreds of brands that we once loved for their quality and taste, and you will understand the wasteland that is the American chain restaurant industry today. Our overlords have cashed out their chips in leveraged buyouts to other overlords, who then take their own profit by cutting quality and taste. And you and I? Well. We look for local home-grown restaurants to go to, or one of the few restaurant chains that haven’t sold out to the sociopathic lizard people. But then, we’re more intelligent than most Americans. Otherwise we wouldn’t be reading (and writing) blogs, right?

- Badtux the Food Penguin


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