All posts by Haruko Haruhara

Do you have Avs fever yet? And if not, why not?

Brandon Yip

Hah, watch. Next week, they’ll lose three in a row cuz of my post.

We have a rule in our house that you can only watch *TWO* hockey matches every week, so at least one every week is the Colorado Avalanche.

What a fun, spunky team they are to watch. They are ridiculously young, I think their average age is maybe 24 or 25, almost everyone on the team is a rookie, second-year or third-year player, and yet they are NO. 1 IN THE ENTIRE NHL in goals scored. They have scored 112 goals in 31 games, which mean they are on pace for 300 goals.

Paul Stastny

And with this very young team, they are 17-10-4, they have won four in a row, they are tied for first place in the Northwest Division with 38 points. Hockey is so weird. In the Western Conference, there are only two teams with losing records — there are 13 teams with winning records! How is that possible? It’s because of the dreaded “three-point” games, where no one loses. 🙂 In a three-point game, one team gets a 2-point win, while the other team doesn’t get a loss, it gets a single point for losing in overtime or a shootout. (If you think this is complicated, hockey for a while actually had four columns — wins, losses, overtime losses and ties. That was REALLY impossible to keep track of!)

Craig Anderson

So what does that mean? Almost every team in the NHL is a winner! 😀 It also means you have to have an incredibly good won-loss record to make one of the 8 playoff spots in the West. You could go 45-30-7 and miss the playoffs the way things are going (Apparently, back in the old days, when you had 21 teams and 16 playoff spots, you could have a pretty bad won-loss record and make the postseason. Not so anymore.). So, in the West, you have 12 teams that have between 33 and 43 points. The Avs are currently tied for second in the conference. If they lose their next game, they could drop all the way down to sixth. If they lose two games in a row, they could drop all the way down to 10th. It’s crazy. And exciting. Every game counts!

Chris Stewart

Hardly any of their players are famous. Milan Hejduk (pronounced like “Hayduke Lives”) is fairly well known. He is their one old veteran who was on the team when they won the Stanley Cup in 2001, but he has hardly played lately Chris Stewart is a rising superstar and was on pace to score 50 or 60 goals, but he broke his hand — but the team hasn’t slowed down. Their best players are Paul Stastny (son of Hall-of-Famer Peter Stastny), who has a big missing tooth and is either a Czech or an American, depending on who he wants to play for in the Olympics :lol:; Thomas Fleishmann, who scored a hat trick last night, Brandon Yip (I love his name!), David Jones and Matt Duchene. One of their better players, Peter Mueller, hasn’t played a single game all year and may not play for them at all this year because of a concussion he suffered in preseason. None of these guys are very famous, but they are leading the entire NHL in goals scored. Their goalie is Craig Anderson, an American who backed up Ryan Miller in the 2010 Olympics. Even he was hurt pretty bad and missed about a month, but that hasn’t stopped the Avs.

They will be fun to watch all year and it should be a roller coaster ride.

Boston Red Sox getting Carl Crawford

Woo, hoo, what an amazing offseason for the Red Sox, maybe their best offseason since they got Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. Now the Red Sox, after looking like they were out of the running, got Carl Crawford from the Tampa Bay Evil Rays for 7 years, $142 million.
Carl Crawford is a career .296 hitter (he hit .307 last year) and has averaged 50 stolen bases a year over the last eight years. He even hits 15 to 20 home runs a year. An awesome player.

Amazing Mono Lake!

There was an amazing story on Mono Lake that scientists had discovered a bacteria that lives only in Mono Lake that can survive on eating arsenic — that’s right, rat poison.

While this might not sound like a big deal to the layman, this is a huge discovery within biology and astrobiology circles. This is the first time any organism has been found that can live on arsenic, and it opens up the idea that forms of life can live in environments both on earth and in space that we can’t even imagine.

How cool is it something like this came out of Mono Lake? Mono Lake is one of the most interesting lakes I’ve ever seen. It sits at 6,500 feet in the desert just east of the Sierra Nevada. It’s surrounded by the Sierra to the west and a series of volcanoes to the south called the Mono Craters. Dry hills to the north, and barren desert wasteland to the east. Clint Eastwood made High Plains Drifter along the shore of Mono Lake in 1971. Today, you couldn’t film a big movie like that. The area is protected.

Four small streams from the Sierra flow into the lake, and the water just stays there. It has nowhere to go. Mono Lake does not drain anywhere.

Beginning in the 1940s, the L.A. Department of Water and Power, which was already taking water from the Owens Valley to the south, began siphoning water out of the four streams. They built a giant tunnel underneath the Mono Craters, and the water flows through the tunnel into the Owens River, then into the Los Angeles Aqueduct. The water goes more than 400 miles without a single pump. It’s all gravity fed. It was an engineering marvel.

And an environmental disaster. The lake shrank and the famous tufa towers of Mono Lake appeared. These are formations of calcium carbonate, created by the weird water chemistry of the lake. The lake shrank by one-third until a bunch of environmentalists won multiple court and state agency decisions against the L.A. Department of Water and Power. The case went all the way to the California Supreme Court. Now, the lake is maintained, by law, at a certain elevation. It will never be as big as it once was, but it won’t be allowed to die, either. The Forest Service manages it as a recreation area, and the DWP helped build a big, fancy visitor’s center by the highway.

If you ever go to Yosemite or Lake Tahoe, you really should take a trip to see Mono Lake. The tufa towers are amazing. And there is an old, dead volcano on the south shore you can hike to the top of. The volcano is made completely of black glass. Watch your step! And you can make a side trip to Bodie, one of the biggest ghost towns in the U.S. It’s only a few miles away in the hills north of the lake.

Mono Lake is often described as poisonous, but it is anything but. Sure, you will get deathly ill if you try to drink the alkali water (if you dip your hands into the water, it will feel very slimy, and then about an hour later if you don’t watch, you skin will start burning as if you’ve been using bleach without gloves), but that alkali water breeds trillions of brine shrimp and brine flies. Millions of birds — seagulls, grebes and phalaropes — stop at Mono Lake every year to feed on the shrimp and flies. You will never be surrounded by as much life. It is a riot of birds there. (But don’t go in the spring, because it is also a riot of no-see-ums).

If you really want to learn more about Mono Lake, check out (and they’re pretty darned excited by Mono’s little bacteria!) If you want to know more about the LAWDP, pick up “Water and Power” on Amazon or at the library.