End of an Era

VW Bug Says Good-Bye

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

The world’s love affair with the VW Bug is coming to an end. Volkswagen recently announced that it is discontinuing the long-lived Beetle in 2019.

First introduced in Germany in 1938, the Volkswagen (“people’s car”) was quickly nicknamed the Kafer (German for “Beetle”) because of its small, round shape.

Developed by lead engineer Ferdinand Porsche to utilize Germany’s new road network, the Beetle soon proved that it could go anywhere and do anything, winning over the hearts of people around the globe.

Durable, intrepid and able to travel on practically a thimble of gas, the nimble Bug had an eight-decade-long run (including two-updated versions in 1997 and 2003). More than a car, it was a symbol of individuality, appealing to intellectuals and the free-spirited, alike.

The Bug’s creative “Think Small” ads helped to build it’s unconventional image and get people to buy a different kind of car than the large, flashy cars that other car companies were selling.

The Bug was even a film star in movies, starring as “Herbie” in The Love Bug movies, appearing in Footlose as Kevin Bacon’s ride, and holding its own alongside Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal in What’s Up Doc? In that movie it showed that it could even survive a plunge into San Francisco Bay. Unlike other cars, it floated.

 

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel are sorry to see this iconic car for the ages disappear from the world stage.

 

However, like super-spy James Bond, the VW Bug may still return one day.

Asked if Volkswagen would ever bring back the beloved Beetle, VW of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken said, “I would ‘never say never.'”

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Low Tide Aliens

They Come in Peace

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Invaders From Mars. Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It Came From Outer Space. The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Think of all the science fiction movie classics that kept us glued to our seats in darkened theaters watching aliens from other planets landing on Earth.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel wondered What if that really happened? Would the space aliens be like us? Would they be friend or foe?

At the beach one day we got a glimpse into that when we had a close encounter with the Low Tide Aliens.

Fortunately, they came in peace.

Like the gangster-style, sunglass-wearing Blues Brothers, who turn out to be musicians, these aliens are artists – Laura, Leslie, Darla, Kaitlyn and Mila –  and their goal is “to bring joy and beauty into the world.”

Twice a month, when the tides are lowest, the artistic team heads to Newport Beach to draw mandalas – Hindu and Buddhist spiritual patterns – on the sand.

It’s a way to express themselves and to connect with the earth and ocean. Creating the mandalas is also a way to meditate and heal. Toward this end, the Low Tide Aliens have launched a Sand Art for Causes charity to help others.

Even though the tides inevitably erase their creations, the artists aren’t sad. “It’s actually a very beautiful and humbling experience to do art for the sake of art alone,” they say.  “It’s a practice in letting go and allowing nature to take her course.”

You never know where the Low Tide Aliens are going to show up! At the Surfrider Foundation’s International Surfing Day in Huntington Beach this summer there they were.

“The event was abducted by our good friends from the Low Tide Aliens,” Tony Soriano, Surfrider’s HB chapter advisory board director, told SurfWriter Girls. “We love their artistic beach talent.”

 

While they were there, the beach artists even made a Surfrider surfboard to commemorate the day.

 

Wherever they land, beach-goers are invited to watch the sand art take shape or to sign up for a session and join in the experience.

So, don’t be afraid if you encounter the Low Tide Aliens.

Just say: “Take me to your easel.”

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Tiki Time!

Join the Party!

 Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel


Who can resist those smiling tiki gods luring you to join the party?

Tiki art, tiki mugs, tiki shirts, tiki bars. When you add the word “tiki” to anything it just becomes more fun.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel are big fans of all things tiki. Growing up in SoCal, there were lots of tikis to see in shops and restaurants, on clothing, and more.

Classic Polynesian restaurants Don the Beachcomber, Trader Vic’s, The Islander, Kelbo’s and many others celebrated the tiki lifestyle with their island decor and exotic drinks.

Deified by the early Polynesians, it was thought that Tiki was the guardian of the entrance to the underworld. By the 1950s tikis were pop culture icons. With their smiling faces and gleaming eyes, they represented fun and adventure, beckoning us to an alternative lifestyle unburdened by convention.

 

Today the mysterious and mischievous Tiki is still part of the scene and showing no signs of letting up.

Tiki artist Doug Horne told SurfWriter Girls, “Tiki culture is alive and well! I think it’s still growing.”

 

Artist Josh Agle (better known as Shag) is a fan of the irrepressible tikis, too, and often includes them in his swinging, mid-century motifs.

To celebrate the tiki culture for yourself, why not check out one of the many tiki bars out there and feel the vibe? SurfWriter Girls came across this list of the Ten Best Tiki Bars in the World compiled by Critiki, a travel guide and historic archive of Polynesian Pop culture hotspots around the world. Nobody knows tiki better than the crew at Critiki.

To find your own little slice of tiki paradise, click: Tiki Ten

Then let the party begin!

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Wave Quest!

Finding Kelly Slater’s Wave

  Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Since the earliest history explorers have searched for new lands – from Ponce de Leon’s quest for the Fountain of Youth to Columbus’ journeys across the Atlantic looking for a direct route to Asia.

Surfers around the world were on a similar quest to find Kelly Slater’s Wave – the man-made wave pool he created to generate perfect waves…no ocean required!

Keeping a tight lid on the whereabouts of his creation, Slater – the World Surf League Champion a record 11-times – unveiled his Wave to just a select group of elite surfers in a series of sneak peeks between 2015 and 2017, culminating in a secret surf contest held last September.

Top surfers from current US Open of Surfing Champ Kanoa Igarishi and three-time world surfing champ Mick Fanning to six-time world champ Stephanie Gilmore were all on board to test the waters.

And the general consensus of those lucky enough to score a ride on Slater’s Wave – Wow! Gilmore called her 30-second ride in the barrel “an experience I’ll never forget.”  Igarishi said, “The waves were as perfect as they come.”  Courtney Conlogue tweeted to her followers, “I just walked into the future.”

Excited by the reactions, Slater finally revealed to the surfing community the spot he’d chosen for his Wave – 20 acres in Lemoore, a farming town near Fresno, California, in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley – more than 100 miles from the beach!

Slater said, “I’ve been dreaming about this wave my whole life.” Created with the latest technology, it took ten years to make it happen. Slater worked with geophysical fluid dynamics specialist Adam Fincham and a team of engineers to develop what scientists call a ‘soliton wave’ – a self-reinforcing solitary wave that maintains its shape while it multiplies at a constant velocity.

Using a system of hydrofoils that run the length of a 2,000 ft-long man-made lake to create swells, the Wave can generate waves over 6-feet high.

And, in true surfer fashion, it’s powered 100% by the sun.

 

Slater was particularly stoked about being able to “alter all the aspects of it, the speed, the height, the shape” of the waves. And, with no shoreline break, the waves can go in two directions – back and forth in the pool – giving viewers more surfing action to see from different angles.

Surf artist Dave Reynolds (on right with artist Phil Roberts), who was there in September, told SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel, “It was the most incredible and interesting surf contest I’ve ever been to. I’ve been intrigued by wave pools for the last 20 years. This wave was freaking amazing! Surfers were getting more tube time on one wave than I get in a year.”

Reynolds was excited by the different types and combinations of waves Slater’s wave pool could generate. “What I soon came to realize is every wave wasn’t the same. Different sections of the Wave were doing different things. Lots of open face sections and lots of barrel sections.” Reynolds, whose nickname is “Tuberider,” can’t wait to try the Wave for himself. “I need to get a 30 second tuberide before I die! I just love surfing and a good challenge. I have to do this!”

Reynolds and Roberts earned their Wave-side seats in return for creating the trophies that were given out.

Soon the general public can see the Wave for itself when the World Surf League holds its Founders’ Cup of Surfing event at Slater’s Surf Ranch May 5-6. Teams of men’s and women’s World Surf Tour surfers from the USA, Brazil, Australia, Europe and the World will be on hand to compete…

and to share in Kelly Slater’s dream.

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Are the Stars Out Tonight?

Light Pollution Robs the Night Sky

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

They say, “Too much of a good thing can be bad.” Even something that’s become a basic part of our lives – like artificial light.

In 1879 Thomas Edison’s light bulb lit up the night, freeing people from darkness and enabling them to see and do things they couldn’t before. But, the world has drastically changed since then and now the welcoming beams of light that illuminated people’s lives have morphed into light pollution.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel learned from a new study in the journal Science Advances that the level of global outdoor lighting has grown over 2% per year from 2012 – 2016.

The stars and moon are being blotted from view by the bright lights of outdoor lighting as growing cities and developing regions around the world increase their light usage.

 

Astronomers are finding it more and more difficult to find places that are dark enough at night to set up their telescopes to study the heavens.

One of the study’s authors, Franz Holker, of Berlin’s Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, warns that there is a cost to having light at our fingertips wherever we want it – “an ecological, environmental cost.”

Animal migration and reproductive patterns are being affected. Newborn sea turtles, mistaking street lights for the light of the moon, have headed inland instead of to the ocean.

 

Plants are affected, too, as the increased light causes changes in growth and flowering.

 

The light also reduces the activity of nighttime pollinators – insects, bats and beetles – that the plants depend on for fertilization.

And people aren’t immune, either, as sleep cycles get out of sync, affecting our health and productivity.

To combat light pollution, countries will need to learn to use outdoor lighting wisely and only when and where it’s needed.

And we all can help by closing our window blinds, reducing decorative landscape lighting and shielding and aiming lights downward to eliminate upward glare.

Then look up and enjoy the beauty of the celestial universe.

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Living the Hygge Life

Happiness – Scandinavian Style

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

With the new year running full speed ahead and more Things To Do lists to tackle, life can get stressful.

Fortunately, there’s a way to counteract the stress around us – by borrowing from the Scandinavian lifestyle concept of hygge.

Originating in Denmark in the late 1800s, hygge means “comfortable and cozy” and embraces relaxing with family and friends in a happy and uncontrived way.

 

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel are all for that. Sunny remembers when she was on a writing assignment in Sweden and friends asked her to stay with them.

When she arrived late at night there was a whole spread of food on the table to share. Everyone ate and talked into the wee hours enjoying each other’s company.

At its essence, hygge celebrates life’s everyday moments. Think sitting in a comfy chair by the fire or outside on the deck watching the sunset, sharing a home-cooked meal, lingering over coffee, listening to music, playing a board game, waiting in the lineup for the perfect wave.

 

Interior designer Mickey Walker, of MW Interiors in Redondo Beach, California, told SurfWriter Girls hygge is about “having your own place to breathe in comfort and warmth.”

In designing spaces for her clients, she’s found that “hygge fits well with California’s laid back approach to living and entertaining,” adding that “if you’re comfortable, others will be comfortable, too.”

Walker, one of SoCal’s most respected interior designers since 1982, specializes in “transforming houses into homes.” What she calls “harmonious homes” that reflect you and are in tune with your own individual lifestyle. “A home that fills your heart” – the kind of place where you truly can be yourself and live the hygge life.

To create your own hygge environment, here are some tips:

 

Surround yourself with furnishings that have a special meaning to you – photos, books, art, objects that give you joy. It’s not how much you spend, but the feelings of love and security they evoke.

 

Enjoy tactile things – snuggling in a soft blanket, taking a bubble bath, walking on a sandy beach.

 

Give yourself the space and time to be creative – cooking, gardening, crafting, painting, writing.

 

Balance personal space with social space – a private nook to read a book with living areas to mix and mingle.

As the Scandinavians say, “With hygge you’re creating your own happy place.”

Now, that’s something we all need!

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Wild Thing, I Think I Love You

Valentine’s Day Call Of The Wild

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

 

When it comes to amore, people aren’t the only ones in the mood for love. Just look at the animal kingdom and you’ll get the idea.

 

From penguins to pangolins, otters and owls,

to chickadees and chipmunks, love is in the air.

To channel your inner animal on Valentine’s Day, listen to Wild Thing, the 1966 number one hit single by The Trogs. Whether you stream it online or dust off an old 45, it will make your heart sing.

One of Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All time, it will have you feeling groovy on Valentine’s Day.

So, light the candles, get out the chocolates and pour the wine.

Then let your wilder side come out.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sunny and Patti

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Her Deepness Dr. Sylvia Earle

Protecting Our Oceans

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

When it comes to exploring the depths of our oceans and protecting the environment, National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, Dr. Sylvia Earle has done it all.

Her accomplishments and accolades are astonishing. Time magazine calls her a “Hero for the Planet” and The Library of Congress says she is a “Living Legend.” The New York Times and New Yorker both gave her this regal title: “Her Deepness.”

An explorer, oceanographer, and author of close to 200 publications, Dr. Earle has led more than 100 expeditions and spent more than 7,000 hours underwater, setting a record in 2012 for solo diving in 1,000-meter depth.

Whether it’s charting the world’s oceans or safeguarding endangered ecosystems, Dr. Earle is always pushing the limits of what’s possible. Through the Sylvia Earl Alliance (S.E.A.) she launched Mission Blue, “an initiative to ignite public support for the protection of Hope Spots—special places that are vital to the health of the ocean…the blue heart of our planet.”

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel know how important the initiative is.  Its goal is to “unite a global coalition of partners to inspire an up-swelling of public awareness, access and support for a worldwide network of marine protected areas.”

Currently less than 4% of the ocean is protected from pollution, acidification, climate change, overfishing, and other man-caused destructive actions. By bringing everyone together – governments, nonprofit organizations, corporations and individuals – Dr. Earle hopes to bring that number up to 20%.

Protecting the ocean is critical to the entire world’s well-being, insists Dr. Earle. “We need to respect the oceans and take care of them as if our lives depended on it. Because they do.”  She says that we are all connected and mutually dependent on each other:

The former chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Dr. Earle dove for the first time when she was 16-years-old, using a diving helmet because scuba wasn’t yet available. She went on to earn her master’s degree in Botany and Ph.D. in Phycology (the study of algae) from Duke University.

Dr. Earle has been pushing past barriers and breaking records her whole career. In 1970 she captained the first all-female team to live underwater. Two weeks later, when she and her teammates returned to the surface, they received a ticker-tape parade and a White House reception.

Then, in 1979, much like Neil Armstrong’s “small step for man; giant leap for mankind” walk on the moon, she walked untethered on the sea floor off the coast of Oahu at a lower depth (1,250 feet) than any other person before or since.

Eager to help others see the world of wonder under the sea, Dr. Earle founded two companies – Deep Ocean Engineering and Deep Ocean Technologies – with engineer Graham Hawkes to design undersea vehicles that scientists can use to navigate depths that were previously inaccessible.

From her birthplace on a small farm in Gibbstown, New Jersey, Dr. Sylvia Earle’s journey has taken her to the farthest reaches and depths of our planet.

A true Ambassador to the Ocean, her accomplishments are unfathomable.

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Mutts Say “Yesh!”

Cartoonist Patrick McDonnell Gives Animals A Voice

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

 

Cartoonist Patrick McDonnell’s popular syndicated comic strip Mutts does more than entertain. It gives a voice to animals and builds public support for protecting them.

Started in 1994 to capture the joyful spirit of McDonnell’s beloved Jack Russell terrier Earl, the comic strip has expanded to include a host of animal and human characters – most notably, Mooch, Earl’s inquisitive cat friend.

McDonnell says he “had hoped the storyline (introducing Mooch) would be good for a few weeks’ worth of jokes. But, Mooch, like every cat I’ve known, walked into my life and took over.”

Mooch and the other Mutts characters have staked a place in SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel’s life, too.  We are huge Mutts fans and love the comic strip’s heart, good humor and sense of wonder.

As Earl and Mooch explore the world around them, interacting with their human companions, other animals and the characters in the Mutts universe, this gives McDonnell the opportunity to showcase the duo’s friendship and remind readers of the bond we have with the animals in our lives.

It also lets McDonnell shine the light on all the dogs and cats in animal shelters. For the past 20 years the comic strip has devoted two weeks a year to Mutts Shelter Stories about the pets in shelters who need homes.

 

Since 2000 McDonnell has been a member of the board of directors for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and is a strong advocate for the organization’s work.

McDonnell says being on the HSUS board has been “life-changing” for him, giving him an even greater opportunity to help make the world a better place for animals.

 

One of McDonnell’s cartoons “Sweet Dreams” particularly sums up his wishes for animals – showing their dreams of being free, happy and loved.

Its a dream McDonnell has for all animals and one we all can share.

As Mooch would say to that, “Yesh!”

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Listening To A Continent Sing

Book A Tribute to Joyful Bird Sounds

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

In our modern age, filled with the harsh sounds of sirens, leaf blowers and loud radios,  it’s a welcome relief to hear the joyful sounds of birds celebrating the wonders of life.

Now, thanks to Donald Kroodsma, you can hear those birdsongs in his remarkable book (with recordings) Listening to A Continent Sing: Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Kroodsma, a professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts, set out on a 10-week/10-state, 5,000 mile journey with his son, David, bicycling on the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail from Virginia to Oregon, recording the songs of the birds they encountered along the way.

And what a pantheon of sounds it is – 381 recordings – of every type of bird from sparrows and wrens…

to talkative jays and hooting owls.

Riding on deserted country roads and well-traveled thoroughfares, from early in the morning until the fall of night, the bicycling duo listened to and chronicled the birds of a nation.

The book is beautifully formatted with illustrations depicting the scenery and birds spied during their travels. (QR codes embedded in the pages bring the birds to audio life when scanned.)

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel are amazed at the magnitude of the book.

Like Sacajawea interpreting the Shoshone Indian language for explorers Lewis and Clark, Donald Kroodsma has archived and interpreted the language of birds – opening a wondrous door on the sounds of nature for us all to enjoy.

This is a father-son road trip not to be missed.

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