April 12, 2010

Sunny Barbara

Back in 1786, Spanish Franciscan monks built the Old Mission Santa Barbara – which, to this day, remains one of the more remarkable sights in town, despite much competition by all those tanned bodies on the beach...

April 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Old Chimp!

Remember Tarzan’s old buddy, Cheeta the chimp? Today he lives in a retirement home for showbusiness apes in Palm Springs, meaning he’s surrounded by other former Hollywood stars enjoying their sunset years. Except he doesn’t golf, so instead he paints

Each year in April, Cheeta celebrates his birthday. The Guinness Book of World Records lists him as the oldest living chimpanzee, even though there’s some controversy over whether he is really 78, as his MySpace website states.

I visited Cheeta and his caretaker, Dan Westfall, last year for a feature in the Financial Times Germany, as well as a video at stern.de. My photo website has a full gallery. Happy Birthday, Cheeta! No matter how old you really are...

April 8, 2010

Surf's Up!

There’s a common misconception – especially among my friends and colleagues in Germany – that this is what life in California looks like every day. Well, no. Not quite. See, this is Southern California, L.A., Manhattan Beach. And even they get rainy days. Every once in a while. Supposedly. Or so I hear.

But luckily not when I was in town. (More here, if you just can’t get enough.)

April 7, 2010

Honey, There's a Problem

The world loves almonds, so Californian farmers planted some 77 million almond trees, enough for California to become the world's biggest producer – but there aren't enough bees anymore. Honeybees, you see, keep dying from mysterious illnesses, meaning bees are now trucked from all over the U.S. to California each year in the winter in order to pollinate all those almond trees. Farmers used to pay $50 per colony, now the average price is closer to $150. A simple matter of, um, "bee-conomics".

Here's John Miller, a fourth-generation beekeeper from North Dakota, checking on his bees near Modesto, California. John runs Miller Honey Farms, one of the nation's bigger honey producers (see your supermarket for more).

The smoke has a somewhat calming effect on the bees, but naturally, when visitors pester them a little too much (especially with, say, strange machinery and flashing lights) they can become a bit prickly.