Saturday, January 31, 2009

Things that go BANG in the night.

At about 1:30 AM on Friday night, er, Saturday Morning, I was working at my computer when BANG! I was jolted out of my seat by an explosion. It sounded like a building blew up. Scared the crap out of me!

It wasn't the first time I've heard such explosions, but it was by far the loudest and closest.

Now, you're thinking, this has happened before???? Things are just blowing up???? Why isn't this in the newspaper????

To answer these in order: 1. Yes. 2. Apparently not. 3. Because these explosions leave no trace that they ever occurred.

I've been hearing these loud explosions in Seaside for several years now. They are few and far between, about once or twice a year, but they're as loud as artillery fire. They almost always occur late at night, and they seem to be happening all over the city. Sometimes they sound very close, as the one did last night. Other times they sound like they're on the opposite side of town.

After hearing this one I turned on the police scanner, as I usually do at such moments. Seaside Fire was called to investigate in my neighborhood, but found nothing. They attributed it to fireworks. I don't think so. Fireworks are a routine annoyance in Seaside, particularly in the spring and summer, so much so that we've nicknamed our city "Baghdad-by-the-bay."

But what I'm talking about is twenty times louder than any fireworks. Sometimes I'll hear a police officer report hearing the BANG. The last one several months ago was reported by multiple officers and was apparently near the north end of Sand City. Other times, like last night, the police seem oblivious, which seems odd in itself considering that these things can be heard across town.

One might consider that these explosions are electrical transformers blowing up, which make a similar sound. But transformer explosions tend to result in a power outage somewhere, and that isn't happening. So at this point I suspect these BANGS are the product of a prankster. A little internet research indicates that Seaside isnt the only place in the country that experiences these things. Apparently there are at least two ways of generating an alarming sounding explosion without leaving a trace.

One is with a device called a propane cannon, which is used in agricultural fields to scare away birds. The other method involves filling balloons with flammable gas and attaching a fuse instead of a string. The prankster will light the fuse before launching the balloons which then rise to a fair altitude over everyone's heads before going BANG. Either one of these methods would explain why Seaside police and fire can find no trace of any explosion. Unless someone is looking in just the right direction when the device shoots off, which is unlikely in the late night hours, nobody will see it happen.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I want more cheerleaders!

I'm a sports widower. I grew up with sisters and learned to cook. My wife grew up with brothers and learned to watch football, basketball, hockey, tennis, NASCAR, and ask "What's for dinner?" So I am forced to endure hour after hour of sports action on television when I'd rather be watching reruns of Star Trek and Gilligan's Island. I do enjoy Giant Spaceball (and only the Giants), a couple hours per year of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Golf Tournament, and small doses of the Olympics, but that's about as far as I go sportswise.

One thing that makes football tolerable are those hardworking NFL cheerleaders. They're very pretty, they're highly trained, and from what I understand they are paid very well.

Men, who make up the vast majority of sports fans, are generally known to enjoy looking at pretty girls. So why are NFL cheerleaders given so little screen time on TV? About the only time you see them are just before commercial breaks with corporate logos hiding their best features. What's the point of having pretty cheerleaders if you don't show them? This is madness!

It's not as if there are no opportunities to take the cameras away from the players
during football games. The cameras spend plenty of time on sweaty players on the bench with their helmets off and a paper cup in their hands, or standing around on the field between plays. Some of this time could be put to much better use by showing the cheerleaders doing what they spend hours training to do. Those fleeting two second glimpses just don't do them justice.

At least my wife is gracious enough to let me know when the cheerleaders are on, so I can look up from whatever I'm reading for a look. I count my blessings every time, because I know she loves me.