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Sunday, December 10, 2017


The Santa Ana winds are strong, extremely dry down-slope winds that originate inland and affect coastal Southern California and northern Baja California. They originate from cool, dry high-pressure air masses in the Great Basin. San Diego (upper left) and Ventura County (foreground).  

Wikipedia has compiled quite a list of essays, articles, lyrics and references in fictional works about the deadly Southern California weather phenomenon called Santa Ana winds.

The list includes many professional writers like Raymond Chandler, Brett Ellis and Joan Didion just for starters.  And lesser known writers continue to litter the internet with maudlin prose like tumbleweeds against the sea walls in San Diego.   Whoever heard of tumbleweeds along a beach anyway?

Perhaps Chandler is in first place with his 1938 detective story “Red Wind,” where he pens in part: “...There was a desert wind blowing that night.  It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch.  On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight.  Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks.  Anything can happen.  You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge...

Then there is Janet Fitch’s 1999 depressing reference in her LA-based fiction “White Oleander:”  “Oleander time, she said. Lovers who kill each other now will blame it on the wind. 

In the ‘60s Joan Didion’s stylistic masterpiece “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” ends with her take on those devil winds:
“...violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Ana affect the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuate its impermanence, its unreliability. The wind shows us how close to the edge we are.”

Los Angeles—despite the moans of its literary class--isn’t the only area in Southern California impacted with the hot winds that are strong enough to blow down power lines that in turn torch canyons, empty lots and fields of weeds rural and urban alike.  And, that’s not mentioning in detail the sick minds of arsonists, who find twisted satisfaction in creating firestorms.  Bottom line: The entire state is a tinderbox and 2017 was particularly cruel to humans and animals wherever they live.

Dry tumbleweeds blown westward by seasonal Santa Ana winds from inland San Diego County line the beach along Mission Bay.  Photo: Gregg Rawlin.

Saturday, December 9, 2017


Serious coffee drinkers on the campus of the University of Southampton.
This time NBC and Reuters insist “three coffees a day linked more to health than harm.”

People who drink three to four cups of coffee a day are more likely to see health benefits than harm, experiencing lower risks of premature death and heart disease than those who abstain, scientists said last month.

A team which collated the findings of more than 200 previous studies also found coffee consumption was linked to lower risks of diabetes, liver disease, dementia and some cancers.

Three or four cups a day confer the greatest benefit, the scientists said, except for women who are pregnant or who have a higher risk of suffering fractures.

Dr. Robin Poole, coffee expert/researcher

Dr. Robin Poole, a public health specialist at Britain's University of Southampton, led a research team in an "umbrella review" of 201 studies based on observational research and 17 studies based on clinical trials across all countries and all settings.

"Coffee drinking appears safe within usual patterns of consumption," Poole's team concluded in their research, published in the BMJ British medical journal late Wednesday.

Drinking coffee was consistently linked with a lower risk of death from all causes and from heart disease. The largest reduction in relative risk of premature death is seen in people consuming three cups a day, compared with non-coffee drinkers.

Drinking more than three cups a day was not linked to harm, but the beneficial effects were less pronounced.

Coffee was also associated with a lower risk of several cancers, including prostate, endometrial, skin and liver cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes, gallstones and gout, the researchers said. The greatest benefit was seen for liver conditions such as cirrhosis of the liver.

Poole's team noted that because their review included mainly observational data, no firm conclusions could be drawn about cause and effect. But they said their findings support other recent reviews and studies of coffee intake.

So there!  Drink up.