Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mono Lake

Inspired by my nightmares of impending climate doom, I am determined to enjoy our lovely planet while it stays that way. So this weekend I'm going kayaking on Mono Lake.

I borrowed this photo from professional photographer, Dan Heller. Check out his website for more spectacular photos of Mono Lake.

My photos won't be as amazing as Dan Heller's...but they'll be mine. I'll be out of commission until Monday.

Last summer, Mono Lake was pronounced "SAVED" (If you lived in the West in the 70's and 80's, you have seen the famous bumper stickers that said "SAVE MONO LAKE;" they were on every other car). This article tells the history of Mono Lake. The ecology, the activism, and the success make for an inspiring story.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Another great graph

This is from a report by Media Matters, called "Left Behind: The Skewed Representation of Religion in Major News Media" The bars show the number of quotes/interviews/mentions in major newpapers of a selection of conservative and progressive religious leader. The picture really says it all. Red bars are conservative leaders, blue bars are progressive leaders. There are several graphs like this in the report that are broken down (only quotes, only interviews, TV, etc), but this one is representative.

Here are some key findings:
  • Combining newspapers and television, conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed in news stories 2.8 times as often as were progressive religious leaders.
  • On television news -- the three major television networks, the three major cable news channels, and PBS -- conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed almost 3.8 times as often as progressive leaders.
  • In major newspapers, conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed 2.7 times as often as progressive leaders.
Why is this important? From the executive summary of the report:

"As in many areas, the decisions journalists make when deciding which voices to include in their stories have serious consequences. What is the picture of religious opinion? Who is a religious leader? Whose views represent important groups of believers? Every time a journalist writes a story, he or she answers these questions by deciding whom to quote and how to characterize their views."

Check out the report. Spread the word! And sign the petition to protect religious liberty for all (even non-believers) by safeguarding the separation of church and state at First Freedom First.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ohlone Food Processor

Along Sanborn Creek, is evidence of early Ohlone Indian settlements. Archaeologists have dated Ohlone Settlements in the area of Sanborn Creek (the Santa Clara Valley) as early as 8000 B.C. (4000 years before the planet was even created !! - I won't link to any pseudo-proof of that!)
From the National Park Service, on the history of the Santa Clara Valley:

"The Santa Cruz Mountains and Diablo Mountain Range created a sheltered valley. Located south of the San Francisco Bay, Santa Clara Valley offered shelter from the cold, damp climate of the San Francisco region and coastal areas west of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and was no doubt inviting to the first human inhabitants. Historically, the Tamien-speaking Ohlone Indians were the first documented inhabitants of the Santa Clara Valley region, although the oak lined hills and valley undoubtedly had known earlier Indian inhabitants and migrations, now lost to history and prehistory. Archeological discoveries place Ohlone Indian settlements in the region as early as 8000 BC."

I look at this rock, with it's "Ohlone Food Processor" mortars carved into it, and imagine three or four Ohlone women sitting around it, chatting, as they grind their acorns...thousands of years ago!

What do you think they were talking about?

Monday, May 28, 2007

No Redwood Trees, but a nice view

I spent the day yesterday at Sanborn-Skyline County Park. I hiked up the Sanborn Trail, and saw this beautiful view. Later in the day, along Sanborn Creek, I took the shot of the Redwood Trees I posted yesterday. More on the creek tomorrow.
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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Redwood Trees

It's very difficult to take good pictures of Redwood Trees, but today I went out and tried anyway. Here's one I liked.

Friday, May 25, 2007


I'm pretty sure these California wildflowers are called "Buttercup." This pictures was also taken in the Mt. Hamilton area.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cheating, a bit

Cheating, a bit, because I did not take this picture today. I (or maybe my husband) took it in 2005, in the hills surrounding Mt. Hamilton, just south east of Silicon Valley. The Nature Conservancy is working to protect this land, which is threatened by development on both sides: Silicon Valley on one side, and the Central Valley on the other.
Worth protecting, just for scenic value alone, huh? ...not to mention all the critters that live there.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Oranges vs. orange juice, and all that it implies

So, these days, our local grocery store is selling really good oranges. My 14 year old enjoys them, as do the rest of us. My last two trips to the store, I’ve noticed that my 14 year old (14yo) has written “O.J” on the shopping list. I ignored it. Why buy orange juice (which is processed in a factory, using energy; bottled in a plastic container made of petroleum products, etc. etc.) when I can buy delicious oranges?

I am living my beliefs by not buying O.J. while oranges are still in season. This is good. I’m doing my (small, yes) part to save the planet.

But then I was thinking about Separation of Church and State. How does my not buying orange juice relate to that principle, which I so strongly believe in?

As primary food shopper for my family, I am kind of like an elected official. I have the trust of my family, a certain power over what they eat, and a responsibility to them. So should I impose my O.J. philosophy on them?

Believe it or not, I actually gave this some serious thought.

It is my deeply held belief that each of us should take the small steps that we can, and it is my “faith” that if we all did that, we could save the planet, humanity, etc. So I am really tempted to impose this on my family. But I decided that would be wrong. I’ll still try to persuade them, by explaining and modeling the behavior I believe in, but I can’t force them to follow my beliefs.

I tried to explain this to my husband and 14yo last night. They just wanted to debate O.J. vs. Orange Juice.

It took quite an effort (and a moment of will over shaky voice) to explain that the point I was trying to make had little to do with O.J., but everything to do with power, and resisting the temptation to use it, despite my personal beliefs.

It ended up being a pretty good discussion. Maybe I was inspired by the Teaching Tolerance website I was looking at yesterday. Certainly also by the First Freedom First campaign.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Speak up, even if your voice shakes

I just love that advice...maybe because sometimes when I speak up, my voice shakes...

I read that line in an article at Teaching Tolerance (a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center). It's from their online parenting resource for teaching tolerance. This particular story is a success story of a teen who did speak up (not sure if her voice shook or not).

Monday, May 21, 2007

Amazing Bubble Chart (ABC)

What an amazing visual display of information.

OK, it's better if you go to the source, where you can actually read the text, and you can click on each bubble for more information.

It really is impossible to read here, so I'll tell you what it says. The horizontal axis is the effect on Energy Security (to the right means increased security, to the left means decreased security). The vertical axis is effect on the climate (up means a positive effect, down means a negative effect). The size of the bubble is the size of the effect. See the big bubble at the far right, and at the top? That says that if we increase CAFE standards, it will have BIG, POSITIVE effect on both energy security and climate.

If you want to compare all the different energy solutions being considered, and how they relate to energy security and climate change, this is a great summary. Check it out for yourself.

This was put together by World Resources Institute, a well respected "environmental think tank that goes beyond research to find practical ways to protect the earth and improve people's lives" (in their own words).

Get that dead tree off the top of my blog!

Here is more Oak landscape. I live near Redwood tree habitat too, so I'll try to provide a change of scenery soon. I'm not sure how to do justice to Redwood trees with a camera, but I'll try.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I'm not so confused anymore!

So the comment link is back again, but not on those two posts. Any idea how to add it to them?


Thanks BAC, for pointing me to the "post options" link at the bottom of the editting window. That fixed it.

What happened to comments?

I have no idea where the comments link went.

I would love to hear your comments on the two posts below, but the comment link has gone away, and I don't know how to bring it back!

Email advise and comments to


Save Darfur: Go Green

Hope that last post doesn't sound preachy.

I've been thinking about Darfur, lately, thanks to Quaker Dave and his Daily Darfur. Also, my husband recently read Jared Diamond's "Collapse" (and told me a lot about it) and then there was this article in yesterday's paper.

What both Collapse and several retired U.S. Generals say is, basically, it is a lot easier for people to work out their differences and get along when they are not being flooded out of their homes and countries, or dying of thirst and famine. On the flip side, when those things do occur, people follow demagogues, they fight, there is genocide.

So my second post today, is "Safe Darfur: Go Green." The idea being that if we don't stop climate change, what is happening in Darfur will start happening all over the place.

As I wrote in my first post here, my nightmare is of the planet flooding and my being left standing on the last dry inch of land, on my tippy toes. Before that happens, though, there will be another kind of nightmare: fighting everywhere. displaced people everywhere. heat. hunger.

So, be green: go outside, ride your bike or walk your dog. Save Darfur.

Draft SUV Drivers First

I used to drive an SUV around town. It mostly made sense, because we had two cars, for two adults, and one of them needed to seat our family of six, especially for long trips to the snow. It didn't seem wise to buy a third car just to drive around town. But the more I drove around in that SUV, most of the time alone, knowing that we're in Iraq because of oil, the sicker I started to feel.

So, the first big step on my path to a greener life was to buy a Prius. I'm lucky, and I didn't have to sell the SUV to afford the Prius, so we can still use the SUV when we really need it. If I weren't so lucky I would replace the SUV and rent or borrow one when needed, which turns out to be only a handful of times a year.

Recently a friend gave me a hard time and asserted that my family's three cars pollute more than her one car. We have the SUV, a Prius, and a Honda Civic that runs on compressed natural gas. She has a Volvo station wagon. We drive more than she does. We pollute less.

So if you're thinking of buying a new car anyway, shop green. You can find a green rating of cars at Yahoo Auto (this list was compiled by the folks at Environmental Defense, so you can rely on the information here).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Water, finally.

I've posted two photos of my recent trip to the beach, and neither one showed any water. So here it is: the Pacific Ocean, just south of San Francisco.
This beach is an amazing place to go with dogs and kids. The dogs are able to run off leash, and the kids are able to climb the sandy cliffs, as well as all the usual beach things (except swim, because there can be bad rip tides and it's FREEZING). It's called "Fort Funsten" after the fort that used to be there to defend us against the Japanese during WWII. It's on Highway 1, just south of San Francisco.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Green tip for the blue lady of the house

Blue Gal, daa'ling. When you polish the silver for your next Salon, check out this tip at IdealBite:

Still searching for your knight in shining armor?

The Bite:
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The Benefits:

  • Effective cleaning. Tarnish doesn't stand a chance.
  • Safer ingredients. Non-toxic formulas are free of
    chems like lung-irritating ammonia.
  • Cleaner water. The EPA estimates each U.S. household
    disposes of 1 lb of hazardous waste per year (including solvent-based polishes), which can make its way into groundwater if washed down the drain. more here

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day at the Beach

A lovely Mother's Day at the beach. Hang-gliders floated above us. The hang-gliders always remind me of one of my favorite books, "Sister of My Heart" (or is it the not-quite-as-good sequel, "The Vine of Desire") by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. The "sisters" are actually cousins, who grow up together in a traditional Indian family in India. Together, they wonder what more there might be to life than what is expected of them by their traditional upbringing. Eventually, they both end up in California, where the courage and freedom of the hang-gliders inspires one of the sisters. What I love about all of Chitra B. Divakaruni's writings are the portrait of old and new cultures: the conflicts, the challenges, and how the characters face them.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Corn cups


I recently learned about these cups, made of corn. They look just like plastic drink cups, but they are compostable (180 days in a municipal compost facility, or 1 year if home composted).

They are also made from a renewable resource, rather than petroleum, and they cost the same or less than plastic cups.

Warning: nothing decomposes in a landfill, so it's still better to use reusable cups and dishes!

But if you're planning to enjoy any upcoming beautiful days with an outdoor party, and you're planning to use plastic cups, utensils and/or paper plates (or if you know a community group that is), check out the renewable, compostable products at WorldCentric:

Plates made from sugar cane pulp (that would otherwise be burned, contributing to green house gas pollution).

Utensils made from potato starch

You get the idea...there's more at the store.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Start with the State Flower

I didn't quite make it to my destination before I had to turn back to meet the school bus, but I did see this clump of California Poppies on my abbreviated bike ride.

My Grandma and I once walked up a really big hill full of California Poppies. I mean, it must have been about 30 feet high (I was four at the time)!

School bus is here, gotta go.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I love it when they overreach!

When the federal governent funds abstinence-until-marriage for 19-29 year olds...they almost make it too easy to mock them! Although, Advocates for Youth did a spectacular job with this ad.

The "pet your dog, not your date" stuff is for real. You could (if you wanted to) actually purchase a t-shirt (at new, reduced prices!) that says "Pet your dog, not your date" from the Abstinence Clearinghouse (sorry, no linky).

OK, I'm really gonna try...

Yes, this blogging thing is scary, but you know, I enjoy other people's blogs so much, that I'm really going to try this and see how it goes.

I've been thinking about what I can add to the "scene."

I think we have enough political blogs, and besides, I couldn't compete. I don't know how you all keep so up to date with the world, blog about it, and keep up with each others blogs. However you do it, I appreciated it much, so thanks, and keep it up!

I was thinking of the outdoors and my beautiful day rule when I started this blog, so I'm going to contribute nature to the blogosphere. I will post photos taken on beautiful days, and share my path towards a greener life with all of you. Hopefully I'll take some unexpected side roads along the way.

Gotta go charge the camera battery...

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Habeas Schmabeas

Today definitely qualifies as a beautiful day,

so I went for a short hike. This is what I listened to. It's "This American Life: Habeus Schmabeus." Even if you're up on the subject, it's worth listening to this show. It's an updated version of one they did a year or so ago. Two former prisoners at Guantanamo are interviewed. Really nice guys; could be bloggers! One of them was "sold" to the U.S. government for something he wrote in a satirical political magazine.

After you've listened to the show (or even if you don't), you can sign this petition at the ACLU website, to help find Habeus and bring him back.

A nice plus about this petition form: when you pull down the selection of titles, you can choose from the usual titles, plus "Mr. and Mr." or "Ms. and Ms."