Saturday, 18 May 2024


BOONVILLE, Calif. – An elderly man reported missing last week has been located.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office reported that 76-year-old Eugene Bright of Boonville was located shortly before 12:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Bright, who had been reported missing the previous day by a neighbor, was found near his residence but on a neighbor's property, said Capt. Kurt Smallcomb.

Smallcomb said Bright was transported to Ukiah Valley Medical Center for observation due to his exposure to the weather conditions.

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Locations of key events are labeled in this extreme ultraviolet image of the sun, obtained by the Solar Dynamics Observatory during the Great Eruption of August 1st. White lines trace the sun's magnetic field. Credit: K Schrijver & A. Title.


On Aug. 1, 2010, an entire hemisphere of the sun erupted. Filaments of magnetism snapped and exploded, shock waves raced across the stellar surface, billion-ton clouds of hot gas billowed into space. Astronomers knew they had witnessed something big.

It was so big, it may have shattered old ideas about solar activity.

“The Aug. 1 event really opened our eyes,” said Karel Schrijver of Lockheed Martin's Solar and Astrophysics Lab in Palo Alto, Calif. “We see that solar storms can be global events, playing out on scales we scarcely imagined before.”

For the past three months, Schrijver has been working with fellow Lockheed-Martin solar physicist Alan Title to understand what happened during the “Great Eruption.”

They had plenty of data: The event was recorded in unprecedented detail by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and twin STEREO spacecraft. With several colleagues present to offer commentary, they outlined their findings at a press conference today at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Explosions on the sun are not localized or isolated events, they announced. Instead, solar activity is interconnected by magnetism over breathtaking distances. Solar flares, tsunamis, coronal mass ejections – they can go off all at once, hundreds of thousands of miles apart, in a dizzyingly-complex concert of mayhem.

“To predict eruptions we can no longer focus on the magnetic fields of isolated active regions,” said Title, “we have to know the surface magnetic field of practically the entire sun.”

This revelation increases the work load for space weather forecasters, but it also increases the potential accuracy of their forecasts.

“The whole-sun approach could lead to breakthroughs in predicting solar activity,” said Rodney Viereck of NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo. “This in turn would provide improved forecasts to our customers such as electric power grid operators and commercial airlines, who could take action to protect their systems and ensure the safety of passengers and crew.”

In a paper they prepared for the Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR), Schrijver and Title broke down the Great Eruption into more than a dozen significant shock waves, flares, filament eruptions, and CMEs spanning 180 degrees of solar longitude and 28 hours of time. At first it seemed to be a cacophony of disorder until they plotted the events on a map of the sun's magnetic field.





NASA's twin STEREO spacecraft surround the sun. Credit: Jay Friedlander.




Title describes the Eureka! moment: “We saw that all the events of substantial coronal activity were connected by a wide-ranging system of separatrices, separators and quasi-separatrix layers.”

A “separatrix” is a magnetic fault zone where small changes in surrounding plasma currents can set off big electromagnetic storms.

Researchers have long suspected this kind of magnetic connection was possible. “The notion of 'sympathetic' flares goes back at least three quarters of a century,” they wrote in their JGR paper. Sometimes observers would see flares going off one after another – like popcorn – but it was impossible to prove a link between them. Arguments in favor of cause and effect were statistical and often full of doubt.

“For this kind of work, SDO and STEREO are game-changers,” said Lika Guhathakurta, NASA's Living with a Star Program Scientist. “Together, the three spacecraft monitor 97 percent of the sun, allowing researchers to see connections that they could only guess at in the past.”

To wit, barely two-thirds of the August event was visible from Earth, yet all of it could be seen by the SDO-STEREO fleet.

Moreover, SDO's measurements of the sun's magnetic field revealed direct connections between the various components of the Great Eruption – no statistics required.

Much remains to be done. “We're still sorting out cause and effect,” said Schrijver. “Was the event one big chain reaction, in which one eruption triggered another – bang, bang, bang – in sequence? Or did everything go off together as a consequence of some greater change in the sun's global magnetic field?”

Further analysis may yet reveal the underlying trigger; for now, the team is still wrapping their minds around the global character of solar activity.

One commentator recalled the old adage of three blind men describing an elephant – one by feeling the trunk, one by holding the tail, and another by sniffing a toenail. Studying the sun one sunspot at a time may be just as limiting.

“Not all eruptions are going to be global,” noted Guhathakurta. “But the global character of solar activity can no longer be ignored.”

As if the sun wasn't big enough already …

Dr. Tony Phillips works for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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An artist's concept of the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Courtesy of NASA.

CLEARLAKE, Calif. – Clearlake Police took a local man into custody Friday after he attempted to burglarize the local Walmart store.

Dale Daniel McKay, 20, of Clearlake was arrested for burglary and resisting arrest, according to a report from Sgt. Tim Hobbs.

At 7:30 a.m. Friday Clearlake Police officers were dispatched to Walmart on a report of burglary that had just occurred, Hobbs said.

Hobbs said the suspect, later identified as McKay, had allegedly fled the store with two PlayStation 3s and was last seen going into the field to the south of McDonald’s.

During a search of the area McKay came out of the field and was spotted by Officer Travis Lenz in the loading dock area behind Ray's Food Place, Hobbs said.

A foot pursuit ensued and McKay ran from Lenz around to the front of the store. As McKay attempted to run inside the store he was tackled by a citizen who had observed Lenz chasing him through the parking lot, Hobbs said.

McKay was arrested for burglary and resisting arrest and later booked into the Lake County Jail, with bail set at $10,000, according to Hobbs. McKay later posted bail and was released.

Hobbs said the stolen property also was located.

The Clearlake Police Department also wanted to recognize the efforts of the citizen who assisted in the arrest of McKay, said Hobbs.

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MIDDLETOWN, Calif. – Middletown and Cobb residents faced a dark holiday evening Sunday when the power went out in the area for several hours.

Pacific Gas & Electric spokesman JD Guidi said the outage was reported at approximately 7:21 p.m. Sunday.

He said the area affected stretched north of Middletown along Highway 29, and along the Butts Canyon Road to the Napa County line.

Also affected were Cobb, a small area of Kelseyville and one resident who reported losing power in Clearlake Park, Guidi said.

Guidi said 975 customers were impacted in Cobb, 63 in Kelseyville, one in Clearlake Park and 1,376 in Middletown.

By around 10:30 p.m. approximately 674 Middletown customers had their power restored, he said.

Guidi said the cause was still under investigation, with PG&E crews working as quickly and safely as possible to get power restored.

He said power was expected to be restored to the remaining 1,322 customers at around 6 a.m. Monday.

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Two deadly incidents instigated by North Korea in 2010, most recently the shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island Nov. 23, have raised military tension on the peninsula to its highest level in many years.

But the provocations, said the commander of U.S. Forces in Korea, haven’t weaken a commitment by the United States to expand base infrastructure so that, perhaps by 2020, all married service members ordered to Korea will be able to bring their families at government expense.

Army Gen. Walter L. “Skip” Sharp, who also commands United Nations Command and Combined Forces Command in Korea, explained in a phone interview that “tour normalization” – an effort to expand the number of “command-sponsored” families in South Korea – must level off now at 4600 families, up from 1800 when Sharp assumed command in June 2008.

Sharp said he remains “passionate” about expanding command sponsorship even more so that, one day, assignments to Korea are as accommodating to military families as duty in Germany or Japan.

But base infrastructure will need to grow, particularly the capacity of Department of Defense dependent schools, Sharp said. It could be two years before the number of families here can continue to climb, he added.

Sharp also explained his recent decision to move from a “first-come, first-served” policy on command sponsorship in Korea to a new job-based priority list.

The intent, he said, is to improve readiness by ensuring that personnel in leadership billets, or with critical skills, can stay for at least two-year tours by authorizing them to bring along their families.

Most of the 28,500 U.S. service members in Korea still serve 13 months “unaccompanied” tours.

About 1500 families live there without command sponsorship. That means they paid their own travel costs, they only can live off base and their children attend Department of Defense schools on a space-available basis. If no space is available, the children must be home-schooled or enrolled in expensive private schools.

In 2008, Defense Secretary Robert Gates first approved a plan to expand command-sponsorship in Korea. The response from families was more enthusiastic than expected, forcing Sharp last month to cap the number of command-sponsored families at the existing level of 4600. He estimates 10,000 married members still serve here without families.

The only reason for this, Sharp said, “is because we haven’t been able to build the infrastructure to accommodate them.”

A plan is due to Gates by March on building infrastructure and reaching full tour normalization in Korea at an affordable pace, given tighter budgets.

Having more families in Korea “has made a huge difference,” Sharp said. He listed four gains, putting operational effectiveness at the top. More families means longer stays and lower turnover and that improves readiness.

It “greatly increases our capability,” said Sharp. “I don’t have to train a new soldier, sailor, airman or Marine every year, which is what we’ve been doing [in Korea] really since 1953.”

Second, Sharp said, “it greatly reduces stress on our families. We have enough deployments or unaccompanied tours around the world, in Iraq and Afghanistan. And there is absolutely no reason to have it here in Korea,” apart from limits imposed by current infrastructure.

Third, it “sends a huge signal of our commitment to the Republic of Korea,” Sharp said.

When the North Koreans and Chinese see U.S. forces building infrastructure and U.S. families staying longer, it underscores how vital South Korea is to the United States. That in turn encourages China to advise the North Koreans “not to do anything stupid,” Sharp said.

Finally, he said, tour normalization will give future U.S. leaders more capable units in South Korea for possible deployment “to somewhere else in the world. Obviously our first commitment is always to the defense of the Republic of Korea … But who knows what this part of the world is going to look like in several years.”

Sharp said the recent rise in tensions hasn’t dampened his, or Secretary Gates,’ enthusiasm full tour normalization in Korea. In fact, he said, “in some sense” it makes it “even more important to us because [of] the ability to increase capability of our units by keeping folks here longer.”

Evacuation of families does remain a major concern, he said. It’s part of the impetus for current plans to relocate and consolidate Army units south of Seoul, primarily at Camp Humphreys. Being nearer to a transportation hub there will ease the evacuation challenge “significantly,” Sharp said.

“We watch very closely what’s going on in North Korea, obviously. We see nothing happening that is any indication that North Korea is planning on getting ready to go to war,” said Sharp.

But evacuation plans are solid and exercised twice a year, he said.

Sharp ordered commands throughout South Korea to hold town hall meetings to explain the new command-sponsor policy, which took effect Nov. 30. The old first-come, first-served wait list for families had grown to 1,000.

Sharp conceded that some families near the top were disappointed.

“They perceive their chances of getting command sponsorship getting reduced, when they thought they were pretty close,” he said. “We are working that, individual by individual, and making accommodations as we can. I’m not naïve enough to think we will be able to satisfy all of them.”

The intent, however, is improved readiness. As command-sponsored families leave Korea, those newly designated for command sponsorship now will mostly be families of member filling Category 1 and 2 billets.

Category 1 personnel fill the top 500 officer and enlisted billets. Category 2 are most other officers plus senior enlisted in unit leadership roles and anyone having critical skills or who needed more intensive training before reporting to Korea, such as pilots and linguists.

Category 3 includes everyone else assigned to Korea. Sharp said the goal is that 10 percent of 4600 command-sponsored families be chosen from this lowest priority category, using the first-come, first-served method.

To comment, send e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or write to Military Update, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA, 20120-1111.

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) has announced that 25 schools in Northern and Central California have been selected to receive up to $10,000 each in Bright Ideas grants.

The money will be used to help reduce energy usage, save money and help students learn the importance of environmental stewardship.

A total of $152,500 was given out to the 25 schools.

The Lake County Office of Education in Lakeport, in partnership with University of California, San Francisco, was awarded $5,000.

Other schools around the North Coast region receiving the awards were the Napa Valley Language Academy, $5,000; Vintage High School in Napa, $10,000; the REACH School, Sebastopol, $10,000; and Pacific Union Elementary School, Arcata, $5,000.

As part of the larger PG&E Solar Schools program, the Bright Ideas Grants program promotes the understanding of renewable energy.

Last spring, 18 additional schools were selected to receive Bright Ideas grants, bringing the total awarded in 2010 to $327,500.

The grants were awarded to credentialed teachers, administrators and facilities managers within five major categories: Educational solar projects, youth energy and environmental programs, renewable energy or science related field trips, green your school projects and professional development/service learning projects/ workforce development programs.

“Bright Ideas grants fund innovative educational programs that teach California students the importance of renewable energy,” said Greg Pruett, senior vice president of corporate affairs at PG&E. “This program would not be possible without the dedication of teachers throughout California who are developing future sustainable energy innovators and scientists.”

The PG&E Solar Schools Program includes installation of photovoltaic systems in public schools, a solar-based curriculum training package, workshops for teachers and Bright Ideas grants.

Since its inception in 2004, PG&E shareholders have contributed more than $8 million to the PG&E Solar Schools program. With more than 125 schools participating throughout PG&E’s service area, the program has trained more than 3,000 teachers, benefiting nearly 200,000 students.

PG&E partners with leaders in education and the solar industry to deliver the training and infrastructure associated with this program. The National Energy Education Development Project manages curriculum training and administration of the grants, and the Foundation for Environmental Education coordinates installation of the donated photovoltaic systems.

PG&E’s award-winning Solar Schools Program is nationally recognized for teaching the value of renewable energy. It has been awarded the Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s (IREC) Annual Innovation award, named “Education Innovator of the Year” by the San Francisco Business Times and received the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, California’s highest and most prestigious environmental honor.

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LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Weather forecasters say a storm is forming that will take aim at Northern California early this week.

The National Weather Service's Sacramento office issued a special weather statement Sunday for most of the state's northern half, including Lake County, that warned of a storm system developing in the Gulf of Alaska.

It's expected to start with light rain and snow over the northern half of the Sacramento Valley and surrounding mountains on Monday night before moving on, with rain resulting in lower elevations and mountain snow falling over the south and east during the day on Tuesday, the agency said.

The National Weather Service said the front will move through the interior part of the state on Tuesday night, with moderate to sometimes heavy precipitation possible. Gusty winds may occur in the Central Valley, with ridgetop winds up to 50 miles per hour.

Snow levels will drop Tuesday night but go down more on Wednesday, with forecasters predicting a drop to about 2,500 feet over southern Lake County, with a couple of inches of snow possible at that level, up to 2 feet above 6,000 feet.

Showers are forecast to continue on Wednesday around Northern California. The National Weather Service said colder air filtering into Northern California will lower snow levels, and hail and sleet could result.

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Polar bears along sea ice in the Arctic Ocean on September 1, 2008. Photo by Jessica K Robertson, U.S. Geological Survey.


ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Sea-ice habitats essential to polar bears would likely respond positively should more curbs be placed on global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new modeling study published this month in the journal, Nature.

The study, led by the U.S. Geological Survey, included university and other federal agency scientists. The research broke new ground in the “tipping point” debate in the scientific community by providing evidence that during this century there does not seem to be a tipping point at which sea-ice loss would become irreversible.

The report does not affect the decision made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2008 to list the polar bear as a threatened species.

This new study builds and expands upon studies published by the USGS in 2007. The new study evaluates additional scenarios in which greenhouse gas emissions are reduced in comparison to the business-as-usual scenario that was exclusively used in the previous research.

Modeling outcomes for the additional scenarios provided evidence that the projected continuation of Arctic sea-ice decline could be altered if greenhouse gas emissions were mitigated in a manner that stabilizes atmospheric CO2 levels at or less than around 450 parts per million. Current CO2 levels are around 390 ppm.

The 2007 studies by the USGS had projected that under the business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions scenario, future reduction of Arctic sea ice could result in a loss of two-thirds of the world's polar bear population by mid-century.

They had also shown that under this scenario, loss of sea ice would have such a drastic negative effect on polar bears that other efforts to reduce stress on their populations would have negligible benefits.

Other stress factors considered in the modeling include disease and predation, overutilization, contaminants, tourism, bear-human interactions, oil and gas activity, and shipping. The earlier study did not examine other greenhouse gas emission scenarios.




A polar bear slides across thin Arctic Ocean ice Aug. 21, 2009. Photo by Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard.



The new analyses published in the journal, Nature, indicate that with lower greenhouse gas emissions, coupled with reductions in other population stressors, polar bears could persist in all four ecoregions where they presently occur, said Steve Amstrup, lead author of the study and a scientist emeritus with the USGS Alaska Science Center.

Amstrup noted that their new work emulated the rapid sea-ice loss that occurred in the Arctic between September 2006 and September 2007 when the loss of sea ice equaled the total amount of ice lost during the previous 27 years.

This exponential loss of ice during such a short time was one of the reasons why so many scientists were concerned that there might be a tipping point beyond which sea ice would be irreversibly lost.

“Instead, we found that the relationship between the loss of sea ice and the average global temperature is linear,” said Amstrup. “In fact, the models indicate that major losses of summer sea ice can occur without pushing ice into a tipping point with permanent ice-free summers. If such a tipping point had existed, it would have meant that efforts to reduce greenhouse gases would have had little value in stemming the loss of polar ice critical for polar bears.”

Polar bears depend on sea ice as a platform to hunt seals, their primary food. Current declines in habitat have been associated with declines in body stature, survival rates, and population size in broad areas of the current polar bear range.

The new paper, “Greenhouse gas mitigation can reduce sea-ice loss and increase polar bear persistence,” was published by the journal, Nature, on Dec. 16.

The study was authored by Steve Amstrup (USGS), Eric DeWeaver (National Science Foundation), David Douglas (USGS), Bruce Marcot (USDA Forest Service), George Durner (USGS), Cecilia Bitz (University of Washington) and David Bailey (National Center for Atmospheric Research).

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Sunset over sea ice along the Arctic Ocean, taken September 1, 2008, by Jessica K Robertson , U.S. Geological Survey.

SACRAMENTO – Holiday parties are a fun, enjoyable part of the season for many, but they also can bring increased danger and tragedy to the roadways.

More parties mean more driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and more car crashes.

Not only is this a danger to motorists, but it also increases the risk to highway workers, according to Caltrans.

Caltrans is responsible for cleaning up debris after traffic collisions, directing traffic, quickly repairing highway damage, and getting traffic flowing again so additional crashes don't occur. This puts Caltrans workers at risk of being hit by a drunk or otherwise impaired driver as they are directing traffic or cleaning up after a collision.

That is what happened recently when Caltrans highway maintenance worker Gary Smith was called from home to provide traffic control on Highway 99 in Chico when an earlier DUI crash killed two adults and one child.

A suspected drunk driver then drove through the safety barriers, striking and killing Smith, a nearly 33-year veteran of Caltrans.

“It is everyone's responsibility to slow down when traveling through a highway work zone or when there is a roadside emergency,” said Caltrans Director Cindy McKim. “By slowing down and driving responsibly, you can help ensure that highway workers will safely return home to their families this holiday season.”

Caltrans, the California Office of Traffic Safety and the California Highway Patrol remind all drivers to plan ahead to have a designated sober driver after drinking, and to be alert for other drivers who may be impaired.

Anyone who suspects someone driving under the influence should immediately notify law enforcement by dialing 911.

Also, if you see a Caltrans or CHP vehicle flashing their warning lights, slow down, watch for highway workers and be prepared for sudden stops or lane closures.

Be sure to follow the “Move Over” law and try to switch to a safer lane when approaching highway crews or CHP officers on the side of the road.

Help protect those who make our highways safer everyday.

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Pictured clockwise from lower left are a navel orange, a Satsuma tangerine, a Fairchild tangerine, a Clementine, and a royal Mandarin orange. Photo by Esther Oertel.


Did you get a tangerine or orange in your Christmas stocking this year? The tradition of putting these fruits in the toes of Christmas stockings dates back many centuries.

When I was growing up, my siblings and I always found a round orange globe – usually a tangerine with leaves attached – waiting for us at the very bottom of our stockings, and I’ve continued the tradition with my own children through the years.

The grandfather of one of the guests at our Christmas table received an orange each year during childhood Christmases in Switzerland in the late 1800s. This was an exciting event for the grandfather – as well as for his siblings, who each received their own orange – and he tried to make the exotic treat last through the days following Christmas.

Some say that the tradition of giving citrus fruit at Christmas stems from its being a rarity in northern climes, making it a special holiday indulgence, while others point to a legend involving Saint Nicholas.

Saint Nicholas, also known as Nikolaos of Myra, was a fourth century bishop who inspired the folk legend of Santa Claus. He lived in what is now modern day Turkey.

The story goes that Saint Nicholas was passing through a village and overheard talk about a poor man who had three daughters and no money. Wanting to help them in secret, he crept into their home at night and left a bag of gold in each daughter’s stocking, which were hanging on the mantle to dry before the fire.

Not only does this legend provide a reason for the origin of Christmas stockings, it is said that the oranges or tangerines left in the toes of them represent the bags of gold that Saint Nicholas left for each daughter.

Whether or not this legend is the reason for the practice, these colorful fruits are intertwined with the memories of many a Christmas.

Oranges are members of the genus citrus which also includes lemons, grapefruit and limes. They began as a sour fruit in China and were cultivated there by 2500 B.C. Since then, oranges and other citrus fruits have been grown in ever-widening areas throughout the world.

Currently Brazil is the main cultivator of oranges, with the U.S. in second place.

There are three main types of oranges: sweet oranges, bitter oranges and Mandarins, which include the many varieties of tangerines.

Sweet oranges include navel oranges, Valencia oranges and blood oranges.


Navel oranges have a mutation that causes them to develop a second, smaller orange – a conjoined twin, so to speak – at its base. Inside the peel, this appears as a set of smaller segments. From the outside, it looks like a human navel, which is the reason for its name.

It’s a very sweet orange, perfect for eating out of hand.

Valencia oranges, a late season fruit, become more popular when navels are out of season. They’re grown especially for making juice.

The blood orange has deep red pigmentation in its flesh. When squeezed, it produces a dark burgundy-colored juice, spawning its moniker. These typically appear in markets in late December, and I’m always happy to see them, as their season is short-lived.

As the name implies, the taste of bitter oranges prevents them from being eaten out of hand like sweet oranges. Rather, they are used in cooking – such as for making marmalade – or as orange flavor in a variety of products.

Bitter oranges include the Seville orange, used for marmalade and to flavor orange liqueurs; the bergamot orange, the oil from which is used to flavor Earl Grey tea; and the chinotto orange, which is used in Italian bitters and in Campari, an aperitif.

I found it interesting that Seville oranges come mainly from decorative trees planted in the city of that name in Spain. They’re harvested and sent to Britain for marmalade making. Since they have a higher pectin content than sweet oranges, they’re prized for this purpose.

Finally, we come to the largest category of oranges, that of Mandarins. There are a large number of subgroups within the Mandarin orange category, including tangerines, which has its own long list of varieties.

The Satsuma, a special Mandarin from Japan, is one of my favorites. My sons called them “easy peels” when they were young because the outer skin is loose and comes so easily off the flesh. They’re often harvested with stems and leaves intact, making for a nice presentation when placed in a bowl.

The hybrid tangelo, of which there are several different types, is a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit (or a pomelo, its extra-large cousin, which is also known as the Chinese grapefruit). The Minneola may be the best known variety, but I’m partial to the ugli fruit.

This poor thing is so named because it’s considered, well, ugly. It may have been crossed with a bitter orange. Depending on the variety, it can look a bit like a large, bumpy lime. Its flesh is often light yellow in color and is mildly acidic.

Tangerines are quite popular this time of year because of their association with Christmas, as well as their season. During a visit to the grocery store last week, I found four varieties available in the produce department.

Tangerine varieties include Dancy, Fairchild, Honey and Sunburst, to name a few.

Clementines are sometimes marketed as “cuties” because of their small size. They’re known to be the smallest variety of tangerine; however, a recent article in the London Times sang the praises of a cherry tomato-sized tangerine, which is purported to be quite sweet.

These tiny tangerines been grown in China for more than 1300 years. They’re finding their way to England with the hopes that the tradition of giving tangerines at Christmastime will be resurrected through such a unique offering.

One of the loveliest attributes of citrus fruit in the orange family as far as I’m concerned is the scent of their skin. When I zest oranges in my cooking classes, I joke that if I were wealthy, I’d pay someone to walk near me zesting an orange at all times. It’s a beautiful scent, as well as one of my go-to ingredients in cooking.

Orange blossom water (also known as orange flower water) adds a delicate flavor to foods cooked with it. It’s often used to flavor desserts (such as French madeleines and Mexican wedding cakes) and is a traditional component in the cuisines of the Middle East.

If you can eat many of these lovely fruits this winter, please do. They’re rich with nutrients that support our immune system and stave off colds and flu, such as vitamin C. Just one orange provides the recommended daily dose of it.

In addition, this nutrient dense fruit packs over 170 different phytonutrients and more than 60 flavonoids, many of which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and blood clot inhibiting properties, as well as strong anti-oxidant effects.

Oranges are also full of dietary fiber, especially when eaten raw.

In addition to being eaten out of hand or used for juice, orange segments are fantastic tossed in a salad or used in Asian-inspired stir-fried dishes. They’re especially good when paired with ginger.

As I was researching this column, I ran across a wonderful-sounding recipe by Michael Chiarello for tangerine mayonnaise. The mayonnaise was presented as an accompaniment for grilled asparagus, but, according to Chiarello, “it tastes great on all sorts of vegetables and on poached fish, and can be used to bind a chicken salad or as a sandwich spread.” Chiarello's Web site can be found at .

The recipe calls for gray salt, a type of culinary salt mined in France on the coast of Brittany. Grey salt is moist and unrefined and retains a light gray (almost purple) color because of the clay in the salt flats where it’s collected. Kosher salt or coarse sea salt may be substituted instead.

Tangerine mayonnaise

2 cups freshly squeezed tangerine juice

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh tarragon

1 egg yolk

Gray salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup pure olive oil

Put the tangerine juice in a small non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil.

Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup. Let cool to room temperature.

Combine the reduced juice, tarragon, egg yolk, and salt and pepper to taste in a blender and blend until well mixed.

With the machine running, add the 1 cup olive oil, at first by drops and then, as mixture emulsifies, in a thin, steady stream until all the oil is incorporated.

Taste for seasoning.

Scrape into a jar, cover, and refrigerate until needed. You should have about 1 to 2/3 cups mayonnaise, which will keeps two to three days, refrigerated.

Chef Chiarello’s note: Every cook has insecurities. One of mine is mayonnaise. I always get a little anxious until I see it coming together in the blender. If the mayonnaise is too thick, thin it, with the machine running, by pulsing in a little cool water.

Esther Oertel, the “Veggie Girl,” is a culinary coach and educator and is passionate about local produce. Oertel teaches culinary classes at Chic Le Chef in Hidden Valley Lake, Calif., and The Kitchen Gallery in Lakeport, Calif., and gives private cooking lessons. She welcomes your questions and comments; e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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KELSEYVILLE, Calif. – The California Highway Patrol is continuing to investigate a Thursday evening crash near Kelseyville that involved seven vehicles and has officials still searching for a possible hit-and-run suspect.

The crash occurred near the intersection of Highways 29 and 281 at Kit's Corner just after 6 p.m. Thursday, as Lake County News has reported.

CHP Officer Joe Wind said fellow officers who responded to the collision described the scene as chaotic, with numerous drivers, passenger and seven vehicles.

“The collision is still under investigation,” Wind said Friday. “We don't really know who's at fault at this point in time.”

He said they're still trying to piece together the scene and how the collision was triggered.

“It was essentially a pileup,” he said.

There were some injuries, but Wind said they were minor.

The crash was initially reported as a vehicle into a telephone pole, but Wind said the investigation so far hasn't revealed whether that was how the crash started, or if a vehicle ended up against he pole after the crash. He said PG&E and other utility companies weren't called to make any repairs to the pole.

Officers are looking for a possible suspect vehicle that some witnesses saw leaving the crash scene, said Wind.

“Preliminary reports indicate we have a white Dodge Durango that was possibly involved that left the scene going southbound,” he said.

The Durango, for which he didn't have a year, was said to have minor damage to its front left fender.

Lake County News received information from another party that the Durango triggered the crash by hitting a PT Cruiser first.

Wind said the CHP made one arrest, with one of the drivers involved, Ruth Mary Vanlokeren of Middletown, arrested by CHP Officer Jeremy Jensen on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Vanlokeren later posted $5,000 bail and was released.

Wind said Jensen is leading the investigation.

Anyone with information on the suspect vehicle is asked to call the CHP at 707-279-0103.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at , on Facebook at and on YouTube at .

BOONVILLE, Calif. – Mendocino County officials are seeking to find an elderly Boonville man reported missing Thursday.

Just after 10 p.m. Thursday the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office received a call regarding the disappearance fo Eugene Marshall Bright, 76, according to a report from Lt. Tim Marsh.

Marsh said Bright's neighbor, Sylvia Carsey, made the report.

Carsey told officials that she looks after Bright, who she last saw on the property around his residence at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

At around 9 p.m. Carsey went to check on Bright and found he was gone, along with his small, gray-haired poodle. Marsh said Bright's ID was left behind.

Marsh said officials have received reports of Bright seen walking down Highway 128 in the Yorkville area.

He said Highway 128 between Philo and the south county line has been extensively driven in attempts to locate Bright, but thus far no one has been able to find him.

Bright is described as 6 feet tall and 157 pounds. He was last seen wearing a light orange-colored jacket, blue jeans and a felt brimmed like hat with a small feather on the outside band of the hat.

Anyone with information on Bright's whereabouts is asked to call the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office at 707-463-4086.

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