Monday, December 24, 2007

Just another nice tree

Found this photo while pruning the photo file. Just a nice view of an oak tree from a recent hike.
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Friday, December 21, 2007

The Story of Stuff

Watch this video! It's in seven installments, which come up automatically when chapter one finishes. All together it takes 20 minutes, but I think it's worth it. Watch the first two chapters and then decide for yourself.

Warning: you might never go to a big box discount store again after watching it. But that would be OK, I think. ...unless it's to purchase LED Christmas lights, that is.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Green Holiday tip #2

I'm trying to have a green holiday season this year, and ... I just wish I knew someone who needs a new trash can! This one is made 99% of recycled tires.

But as 8yo pointed out, "What are you going to to WASTE one of the trash cans we already have so you can buy a sustainable one???" Good point.

Anyone need a sustainable trash can?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Green Holiday tip for procrastinators who put up Christmas Lights

This post was half-baked about a week ago, so now it is for serious procrastinators!
Hopefully, you've already heard about how efficient and long lasting LED Christmas lights are. I mean, it was on CNN! The only downside is the price, according to the CNN Report. The good news is, these LED bulbs are:

  • 10x more efficient than incandescent mini bulbs

  • 50x more efficient than incandescent traditional bulbs

  • long lasting: they don't burn out for, like, 100 years (ok, maybe a little less than that) and they don't break as easily...they're strong plastic, not thin glass.

And...aren't they lovely?

They have an earthier, richer color tone that I like.

So, right. The price. Look for them on sale early next season (or maybe you'll still find some deals this year). I found a great price at...well, I don't want to name names or anything, but...two syllables: first one sounds like "lost", second one sounds like "low"

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving weekend!

Here's one of my all-time favorite eco-tips, perfect for the day after Thanksgiving:

"...Kelsa says that instead of wasting plastic wrap or tinfoil, and in order to conserve the water and energy you would use to wash Tupperware, leftovers should just be placed on the floor for the dogs."


Monday, November 12, 2007

Early Soccer Game on a Cloudy Day

Sometimes it's not so bad to have the first soccer game of the day...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Carbon Offsets Skeptics

I just got back from a trip to New York City from San Francisco and purchased carbon offset for my flight.

Here's how it works:

My round-trip flight contributed 3170 lbs. of CO2 to the atmosphere. The $34.55 carbon offsets I just purchased buy wind-generated electricity, which replaces electricity that would have emitted 3,170 lbs. of CO2 to produce. The wind-generated electricity company is only allowed to sell carbon offsets for that clean electricity once, and they are the only ones allowed to sell it. Otherwise it doesn't work.

Pretty confusing, huh? No wonder people tend to be skeptical about Carbon Offsets. My skeptical friends used to just frustrate and annoy me. But then I thought, maybe I can learn something from their reaction. Maybe there is a better way to describe Carbon Offsets that make them more intuitive and less "scary."

Here is my suggestion:

One day, I was thinking about the efficiency measures I’ve taken in my own home, and wondering what I could do next. I realized that I’ve addressed all the low-hanging fruit, and at this point, the investment of resources is big compared to the CO2 savings to be gained.

Then I thought of my friend, who lives in a poorly insulated, drafty house. I could save more CO2 by paying to insulate and seal her house than I could by spending the same amount of money on the next project in my house (never mind how socially awkward that would be!).

That is the concept behind carbon offsets.

After you’ve reduced your CO2 emissions as much as you can or are willing to do, you buy carbon offsets so that other people can reduce CO2 emissions. The bigger the pool of CO2-reducing projects to choose from, the more CO2 you can reduce with the same amount of money.

Of course, you have to trust the organization that distributes the funds to make good choices and not cheat (sell the same offsets more than once). Many of the large environmental groups certify offset providers, which gives you confidence that your money will be wisely spent on real offsets.

Try this on the next skeptic you run across and tell me if it works!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

40 days in the life of Emily

I'm late discovering this, but I'm glad I did.

Spend 40 days in the life of a Planned Parenthood clinic worker here. OK, it's actually written by a handful of clinic workers...why? To protect them. Read about what they face every single day work day (and some days at home, too).

Hello, world.

We're in the middle of something here at Planned Parenthood (where I work). The anti-choice people call it "40 days for life." I call it another day at the office.

Basically, the anti-choice groups have decided to picket more than 80 Planned Parenthood clinics across the country for 40 days. September 26-November 4.

I'm used to picketers. Planned Parenthood is used to picketers. It bothers me very much that the picketers aren't just picketing our clinics -- that they're really about making it impossible for women to get health care. But...we don't let them faze us. As for me, the more picketers there are, the harder I want to work.

So, I've decided to do something a little different. I'm inviting you come to work with me. Seriously. Every day, I'm posting to this blog -- some notes about my day, some photos, some video. I want you to know what it's like to work for Planned Parenthood.
... read more

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Happy Autumn!

Went for a long hike on this crystal clear, 75 degree, fall day.

Hip Hop Violin

I don't usually (never, actually) link to music on this blog, but I found this and thought it was pretty cool.

I found this new (to me) blog, called Ancora Imparo ("I'm still learning" Italian), in a funny small-world way. A friend forwarded my previous post about water bottles to someone she knows in the U.K. That friend sent her a link to this post about water bottles. So here's introducing Ancora Imparo.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Evil evil bottled water

This not-so-subtly titled post is to encourage you to click on the Carbon Conscious Consumer badge to the right (or, right here), and pledge to stop drinking bottled water (if you make the pledge, you get a 25% discount on a very nice reusable water bottle…here’s the one that travels with me).
I’ve been aware that plastic water bottles have a high energy cost, both to create the bottles and to transport them, but I never thought of it in moral terms until I read this very long article.
Here are some excerpts:

“We’re moving 1 billion bottles of water around a week in ships, trains, and trucks in the United States alone. That’s a weekly convoy equivalent to 37,800 18-wheelers delivering water. (Water weighs 81/3 pounds a gallon. It’s so heavy you can’t fill an 18-wheeler with bottled water–you have to leave empty space.)

Meanwhile, one out of six people in the world has no dependable, safe drinking water.”

For a specific example, look at Fiji water:


“The label on a bottle of Fiji Water says “from the islands of Fiji.” Journey to the source of that water, and you realize just how extraordinary that promise is. From New York, for instance, it is an 18-hour plane ride west and south (via Los Angeles) almost to Australia, and then a four-hour drive along Fiji’s two-lane King’s Highway."


"The Fiji Water plant is a state-of-the-art facility that runs 24 hours a day. That means it requires an uninterrupted supply of electricity–something the local utility structure cannot support. So the factory supplies its own electricity, with three big generators running on diesel fuel. The water may come from “one of the last pristine ecosystems on earth,” as some of the labels say, but out back of the bottling plant is a less pristine ecosystem veiled with a diesel haze.”


“in Fiji, a state-of-the-art factory spins out more than a million bottles a day of the hippest bottled water on the U.S. market today, while more than half the people in Fiji do not have safe, reliable drinking water. Which means it is easier for the typical American in Beverly Hills or Baltimore to get a drink of safe, pure, refreshing Fiji water than it is for most people in Fiji.”

You decide:

“Once you understand the resources mustered to deliver the bottle of water, it’s reasonable to ask as you reach for the next bottle, not just “Does the value to me equal the 99 cents I’m about to spend?” but “Does the value equal the impact I’m about to leave behind?”

Simply asking the question takes the carelessness out of the transaction. And once you understand where the water comes from, and how it got here, it’s hard to look at that bottle in the same way again.”

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

An ex-overcast day

This started out as a gloomy, cloudy day. But then, this happened.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Sent this today...

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

Congratulations on the progress so far in achieving job discrimination protection for all Americans. Please stick to the original principle of equality for ALL. It would be a net loss -- of equality and credibility -- if this bill were to exclude transgendered people. Imagine how abandoned you would feel if you were a transgendered individual and ENDA passed by leaving you out of its protections. I don't want anyone in our country to feel so neglected, and I'm sure you don't either.


Update: An end-of-day, that is an incredibly polite letter. If she changes her mind, I'm sure it will be due to my good manners.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

There are no little things.

Inspired by a comment on my last post that "there are no little things," I found a site dedicated to that principle, and added it to my sidebar. Check it out and pledge to become a "carbon conscious consumer." The site poses a carbon-saving challenge each month, and provides support for meeting the challenge.

This month's challenge is to reduce your junk mail. Here's the short list of why you would want to do that (read more here):

Save trees: More than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce junk mail. 42% of timber harvested nationwide becomes pulpwood for paper.
Reduce global warming: The energy used to produce and dispose of junk mail exceeds 2.8 million cars.
Save water: About 28 billion gallons of water are wasted to produce and recycle junk each year.
Save time. You waste about 70 hours a year dealing with junk mail.

Last April, I signed up with a service that makes it easy to get off of mailing lists. I used Green Dimes. Another service is 41pounds. Both services make it easy to get your names off the lists. Green Dimes cancels catalogs too. It was my impression that these services also monitor the mailing lists and keep your name off of them, but ... I'm checking into that...stay tuned.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Who uses styrofoam anymore?

In the midst of the rebirth of environmental consciousness, in the progressive San Francisco Bay Area, MY KIDS' SCHOOLS use styrofoam plates at their family picnics.

That's about 1000 styrofoam plates that will never ever become fertilizer. Actually, make that 996 -- because I convinced 3 out of 4 kids (and myself) to take reusable plates from home. As Blue Gal says, "Be the change, baby."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Save the Bay

Aaahhh.There is something about this scene that relaxes me.

I took this on a school field trip led by the "Save the Bay" organization. The group works to protect and restore the unique wetland habitats of the San Francisco Bay. They also educate the public about the importance of the remaining 10% of wetlands that still exist in the San Francisco Bay. There are two endangered species who live in the wetlands: the California Clapper Rail, and the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse. No, I don't think the birds above are Clapper Rails.

I chaperoned twenty-some 5th graders as they learned and observed bay life. After lunch, we all worked in the nursery to transplant almost 500 Marsh Gum Plant native plant seedlings! When they grow up, our tiny transplanted seedlings will be planted in the marsh, and become habitat for the endangered Harvest Mouse. Hopefully when our 5th graders grow up, they will treasure and care for our planet.
Anyone can volunteer for Save the Bay restoration projects; not just school groups.

Marsh Gumplant in its native habitat.

Two of the Marsh Gumplant seedlings we transplanted on our field trip.

Friday, September 14, 2007

For anyone who ever holds back their true self...

I heard this poem today, and it really spoke to me. Especially the first paragraph, which I think stands on its own (although the rest is good too).

Martha Graham to Agnes de Mille in
"Dance to the Piper"

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening
that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you
in all of time
this expression is unique.
And if you block it, it will never exist
through any other medium,
and be lost.
The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine
how good it is, nor how valuable,
nor how it compares with other expressions.

It is your business to keep it yours
clearly and directly,
to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself
or your work.
You have to keep open and aware
directly to the urges that motivate you.

Keep the channel open.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

I'm not dead yet...

...I'm just digging out of coordinating 5 different school calendars (four kids and a teacher-hubby) with my own complicated schedule. It hasn't left much time for taking and posting nature shots.

Plus, we've had some wild fires in California recently, which have made the air really yucky-looking. So here's a picture 10yo took this summer in the Italian Alps, of a very un-yucky sky.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Saw these flowers along the Pacific Crest Trail

I couldn't decide which view I liked better

Looking up, I like the composition...
Looking down I like the colors...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pacific Crest Trail

Here is a view from the Pacific Crest Trail near Sonora Pass.

The Pacific Crest Trail goes from Mexico to Canada. Some people try to hike the trail in one year, which is tricky because if you time it wrong, or the weather doesn't cooperate, you can get stuck in too much snow, or suffer heat stroke from the desert heat.

Me? I just think my feet would get sore waaaay before I'd run into either of those problems.
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Monday, August 27, 2007

First Video Posting, third attempt

OK, I'm NOT going to edit this one until I figure this out.

First Video Posting, second attempt

Let's try this again.

Damn again. Just opening up the post makes the video disappear.

First Video posting

I haven't felt driven to figure out how to post videos to my blog yet, but this video was apparently important enough for me to take on the challenge (which, of course, turned out to very simple).

This took up several minutes of my family's time, even though it was a beautiful day outside and we were at the beach.

Damn. The video was there, until I edited the post to add italics and color to the text. OK, maybe not so simple after all.

Just a leaf...

This poor Aspen leaf fell early. The trees were full of green leaves, whispering in the wind the way Aspens do. I liked the way this one looked against the gray dirt.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Powell Lake

Not Lake Powell on the Arizona/Utah border. Powell Lake, in Immigrant Wilderness, California. The Three Chimneys are in the distance.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Three Chimneys

Kinda looks like Monument Valley, California. But it's actually the Emmigrant Wilderness, in Stanislaus National Forest. The three peaks on the right are called "The Three Chimneys."

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Kinda funny to do this, but...

Yesterday, BAC posted a great retrospective of her first two years of blogging. I enjoyed every link, although some of them got me teary-eyed.

It's kind of funny to link to BAC from here, since I think she is one of a handful of people who read this (Hi, BAC), never know...if you're not already a friend of BAC, check out this sample of her first two years.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Twisty Tree

I love they way some trees grow twisty like this:The haze in the background is from a far-away forest fire. We called the ranger to find out if it was safe to go on our hike; they said it was, and sure enough, by afternoon the sky had cleared up.

Granite Vistas

I spent last week at the UC Berkeley family camp: Lair of the Golden Bear. Located in Pinecrest, California, they provide a tent-cabin per family, three meals a day, and age-group activities for kids. Hiking trails abound in the surrounding area, so off I went.

This view was from a hike from Gianelli Cabin trailhead to Chewing Gum Lake.

Chewing Gum lake is not sticky; it was quite refreshing. Here it is:

Other lakes in the area are also creatively named: Mud Lake, and my personal favorite, Toe Jam, yeah, I want to hike 8 miles to swim in that!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Balmy Alley Murals

Back in June, we spent a Beautiful Day in San Francisco, and at the end of it we spent some time in the Mission District, to see the murals. The best murals are the ones painted by the residents of Balmy Alley; they are more personal than the commissioned murals in the rest of the neighborhood.

Two days after we visited the murals, a teenage boy died in front of the Taqueria where we got fresh strawberry juice, the victim of a drive-by shooting at the corner nearest to Balmy Alley.

Dang, that made me sad.

More so because I’d just been there, enjoying the murals. The murals are so beautiful, so complicated, so personal. You want to get to know the people who created them. You want to know more about their life, their struggles, their triumphs, joys and sorrows. I guess you assume that the murals reflect on past struggles; I mean, they are painted by residents of San Franciso, California! Then you hear about the shooting and you remember that the struggles and sorrows occur every day.

On this mural, the letter the woman is holding is legible from up close, and it is written to her husband, who is "up north." She has not heard from him, she misses him and she is worried. If I remember correctly, she tells him about his child who he has never met. Poignant.

This one is a tribute to Frida Khalo. I love the gas meter flamingo!

Here are just a few more...only a small sample of what's there.

I'm off for one more summer romp. Enjoy the murals while I'm gone.
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Fun with the Moon

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Because I want to be envied...

After that last post, Cunning Runt renounced his envy of my trip to the Sierra Buttes. So, in an effort to earn back his envy...
This one is for you, CR, because it has rocks in it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

History and a Thrill

Here's the history:

At the top of Sierra Buttes, is this plaque, commemorating the incredible gold mining that took place in the area, with special note of a 106 pound nugget that was found here. Woah.

Up some very-steep stairs, you reach the tippy top of Sierra Buttes, where you find this rock, inscribed by miners during the gold rush.
Note the old-fashioned writing style!

OK, and here's the thrill (to put it mildly):That there is a rattle, at the end of a looong snake. I startled it, and it scared the living daylights out of me. It slithered one way, and I leaped the other! Hubby had some warning (my scream), so he was collected enough to take this photo.

Peaceful Meadow

New and improved, with no mosquitoes (when enjoyed by blogosphere, that is):

More fresh, Sierra air

Come back daily this week for more fresh air from the Sierra: Tamarack Lakes, from the Sierra Buttes trail.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Sierra Buttes

Here's the reason I've not been blogging lately.
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