Last January, when GT let the students from UCSC’s Science Communication Program take over the cover story for an issue, we learned a lot of things. And when I say “we,” I really mean me. I don’t know if you already knew all of these things, but I learned, for instance, that two of the most endangered species in Santa Cruz are actually flowers, what happens to our brains when we enter the Mystery Spot, and that some of my favorite local parks came about because of the lime kiln industry. I remember being a little shocked at how much I didn’t know about Santa Cruz.
Well, it’s January again, and a whole new class of Rob Irion’s students are back to make me feel that way all over again. We once again asked for your questions about Santa Cruz’s natural world, and once again you came through with really interesting inquiries. Even more so than last year, I think, a number of the answers really surprised me. One thing that didn’t surprise me is that several of the questions were focused on climate-change issues, and while global-warming data is always unnerving, there really is something about learning how it will affect our community in particular that really makes it hit home in a whole different way. These students brought a lot of important science reporting to this issue, and I hope our collaboration with the UCSC program becomes an ongoing tradition.
So, welcome to 2020, and hey, don’t forget to vote for your favorite local people, places and things of 2019 in our Best of Santa Cruz balloting. Go to goodtimes.sc and cast your votes!
Letters to the Editor
Y2K Was Real
In his article “Our Fake Future” (GT, 11/27) Wallace Baine calls the Y2K event “a giant nothingburger … a punchline for comically wrong-headed fears.”
This misconception is widespread. The fact is that system failures were avoided because the modifications needed to avoid such failures were made. At the time, I worked as a programmer/analyst. We had a Y2K team whose task was to modify the computer programs that needed fixing in order to work beyond 1999. The task was completed! Every single program needing modification was modified. Had that not been done, we would have experienced total chaos in our data processing.
Calling Y2K a stupid name like “nothingburger” just reveals how little Baine knows about the Y2K problem and about the massive amount of work required to avoid the serious consequences that inaction would have led to. I am sorry that the skillful and timely action of so many computer professionals around Y2K is totally unappreciated.
Basic Bike Courtesy
As a short-term sabbatical visitor to UC Santa Cruz since early September, I just wanted to say thanks to the Santa Cruz community for their friendly and casual attitude that permeates my daily interactions. A particularly bright spot for me has been riding my bike to and from campus almost every day (~ 5 miles each way). The infrastructure for cycling is great, and I have been very pleasantly surprised by the overall courtesy of drivers. Sure, many (maybe most?) drive a bit too fast—I have been told “This is California, you know?”—but I have experienced very few negative interactions with motor vehicles in SC.
Surprisingly, the same cannot be said for many of the other bicycles, scooters and skateboards (including e-versions of these). I am reminded almost daily of the lack of courtesy from other riders, including the near absence of being told that I am about to be passed (e.g. “passing on your left”). Indeed, I have frequently been passed closely without any warning—this is especially unnerving and potentially dangerous when the passing vehicle is an e-bike/scooter/board moving at twice or more my speed! In all of the other places where I have cycled—including considerably less bike-friendly environs—the camaraderie and courtesy among riders is ever-present and communication among cyclists is automatic. Why not in Santa Cruz?
Iowa City, Iowa
Re: Netflix Origins
I worked at Netflix from 1998 to 2000, and as the customer service manager, I reported directly to Marc. I had great coworkers and always appreciated being able to talk to Marc or Reed without the layers of corporate management that usually stifle the flow of information. It was one of the few jobs that I ever loved, and I wish I could have stayed longer. But less than a year after moving from Scotts Valley to Los Gatos, the customer service department was moved from Los Gatos to a warehouse on the San Jose/Milpitas border. Driving from my house in Aptos to that location, and being away from the energy of the Los Gatos HQ, was very demoralizing. So I left and founded Capitola Coffee Roasters, but that’s another story…
— Dan Rogers