Wednesday, August 07, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow? Do You Have any Bees?

My original idea was to frame this as a national inquiry into the health of bee populations in suburban and rural areas.  Surely colony collapse disorder must be associated with commercial beekeepers who hire out their hives to farmers in need of their services.  Because American farms use a plethora of dangerous and unhealthy pesticides, even produce that is labelled as organic may contain any one of as many as seventy-three chemical compounds commonly used to control pests and weeds.  I am extremely interested in the bee populations in your neck of the woods.  I am happy to report that the San Diego coastal palisades remain host to European Honeybees, Bumblebees and Carpenter Bees.
Carpenter Bee
But, of course this is just a shameless gardening post.  My pride and joy are my Lipstick Hibiscus purchased from the Mission Hills Nursery founded in 1911 by Kate Sessions, presumably direct descendants of true Hawaiian stock.

Just as close to my heart remains my prized Arctostaphylos Manzanita Dr. Hurd, a northern California native.  It's the only Manzanita I can keep alive.  This is how it blooms in early January.

My wife refuses to believe that peaches won't grow near the coast.  Here is a picture from happier times.  Last night the local canyon racoons feasted on our ripe peaches and washed their dirty faces in our birdbath.


Tomatoes from seed.

Any pepper will turn red if allowed to ripen.  We grew Anaheim, Pasilla, Jalapeno and Serrano.


And of our beloved California natives, including the Holly-leaf Cherry and the prized White Sage, Mrs. Junior's favorite is the Mimulus.  However, she claims that this Hawaiian pink only occurs in cultivars.  The true natives are either golden or Indian paintbrush red.


She did promise her Dad that we would grow some corn, which was fine with me.  You can tell when the ears are pollenated when the silks turn red or brown.  Right now, they almost look big enough to sell.

Of course we didn't want the crows to get them, so I had to hire Screech the Owl to look after them.

And we could never support such a healthy ecosystem featuring lizards, red-headed finches, mockingbirds, morning doves and assorted migratory birds without two Retrievers to keep the cats at bay.
 Chauncey

William
It's easier than you might think to grow chives.
And just as easy to grow your own green onions. 

All under the watchful eyes of my new BFF, Pepito, the San Diego Alligator Lizard.
And my twenty-three year old California Fan Palm.  Washingtonia Filifera.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Victory for Safety and Common Sense

If you follow California politics, you will undoubtedly be aware that the inactive San Onofre nuclear power plant will be permanently closed and hopefully safely decommissioned at a tremendous cost over the course of the next few years. This plant has continuously supplied electric power from its activation in 1968 until January of 2012. There was never a serious accident or threat to workers or neighboring communities during that time. The only real ecological damage done by the facility, other than the enormous whole in the beach and the blight of an enormous structure on the coast was to raise the temperature of the adjacent ocean waters in what was undoubtedly once considered a very innovative approach to cooling the vast byproduct of heat associated with reactor power. The relatively uneventful and small leak of radiation from brand new yet defective steam pipes manufactured by Mitsubishi late in 2011, had it occurred in an earlier time of lesser awareness and a more complacent political climate, very likely might not have caused a permanent closure, but only a short period of repair and renovation. Because this all happened on the heels of the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, issues of the safety of San Onofre were first and foremost on the minds of Californians. Concerned Californians at the recent meetings of the California Public Utilities Commission as well as protesters did not forget the Fukushima disaster. I recall after watching the horrifying tsunami and reading about the citywide release of dangerous amounts of radiation, one of the first things I did was to look up earthquake history near San Clemente and Oceanside California. Of course, our local republican congressman, Brian Bilbray advocated bringing the poison fire steam generator back on-line at the earliest possible day.

Here are some of the things that I found. The San Onofre nuclear power plant is located at the northwest corner of the County of San Diego at approximately 33.4⁰ latitude and -117.6⁰ longitude, just south of Nixon’s Western White House in San Clemente on the northern tip of the twenty miles of coastline occupied by the mostly undeveloped Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton maybe about fifty miles NNW of beloved La Jolla and UCSD. We often laughed at the huge “titties” of the radiation containment domes, clearly visible from that desolate stretch of I-5. This is obviously in a very active earthquake corridor. The largest local earthquakes have occurred in the Mojave desert, but several dangerous earthquakes have been centered right on the coast in nearby metropolitan Los Angeles, notably the devastating Northridge Earthquake which miraculously occurred at 4:31 a.m., January 17, 1994 on the federal holiday, MLK Jr. Day, thusly limiting loss of life. Read for yourself about the widespread damage done to parking structures, tall buildings, homes and freeway overpasses. This led to the earthquake retro-fitting of every freeway overpass and bridge in Southern California. These L.A. quakes are easily felt throughout the southland to the Mexican border. I live within bow and arrow distance of the famous San Andreas fault, but have little to fear because there is no subduction of techtonic plates in a north-south running faultline. I was much more threatened by the possibility of nuclear radiation leaking from San Onofre just over fifty miles away from my home in the event of a large offshore earthquake. Here is my evidence.

September 7, 1984 an offshore earthquake with a magnitude of 4.8, the first entry of the table I cited, occurred at 32.94⁰ latitude and -117.81⁰ longitude, approximately 31.7 miles due west of Torrey Pines State Beach, at a distance of about 33.3 miles from the failed San Onofre nuclear reactors. Sure, nothing we know of happened to the facility. Units two and three were on-line for the second of the thirty-eight years they provided electricity in 1984. But no one can say what might have happened anytime in the next one hundred years in the event a major Southern California earthquake anywhere within fifty miles of the facility.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

I Love Code Pink

But let's face it, Code Pink isn't protesting the sadistic policies of Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld.  They're not reminiscing about Abu Ghraib or Bagram.  Fallujah or Baghdad.  The kangaroo trial of Saddam Hussein.  The murder of his two sons.  They're going after our guy and his C.I.A.  His Joint Chiefs.  His Pentagon.  It has been long enough.  The policy of American exceptionalism has to end now.  It is not moral to hold the world to one standard of justice and fair play and wholly exempt ourselves from any responsibility to international laws and treaties.



My friend, Che Pasa has offered an affectionate criticism of Obama and the policies of his administration entitled, "Documenting the Atrocities."  It's a good starting point.  He always has something important to say.  He doesn't say it in a way calculated to hurt other people.


I'm not really gifted in the same way.  I need your help.  I don't fucking get it.  Obviously we have all been tolerating these assassinations with their uncontrolled collateral damage as somehow necessary or possibly even justified; the dark underbelly of the insensate beast that is the C.I.A./Pentagon.  Maybe you haven't been so passive in your acceptance.  I don't think I ever anticipated that we would still be talking about this in a second term for Obama.  I understand that one man, not even the president, can really change the trajectory of U.S. national security; the forces that are at play with powerful government and military agencies.  No more than the captain of a large vessel can throw himself in the path of the rudder or challenge the monarch that has commissioned him.  But it is time for the American people to weigh in.  Make our voices heard.  And it is time for the United States of America to take part in international treaties that insure justice and humane treatment for all peoples of the world.



It's not right.  It's not acceptable.  It's probably not legal.  If it happened to us, we would massively retaliate.

Under Bush, the U.S. refused to ratify Kyoto and claimed exception to the International Court.  That's because they were the bad guys, right?  The fucking war criminals.  Obviously there would have been dozens, if not hundreds of cases brought before the Hague.  It's time for a new Geneva Convention or some equivalent meeting of the United Nations.  If drone warfare is not something to be condoned, this needs to be agreed upon by the nations of the world.  Is it right to conduct assassinations in countries that are not engaged in warfare, declared or undeclared?  If the rights of innocent civilians are already protected in Geneva Convention Protocols, should not the U.S. be prosecuted for indiscriminately violating these protections?


I hate this monster John Brennan.  I hope he goes down like a Viet Cong company engulfed by a flame-thrower.  Like the little girl hit by napalm.  Like the innocent Iraqi young men rounded up and shoved into prisons that practiced torture like it was all in good fun.  I hope the son-of-a-bitch never works again as long as he lives.  Carl Levin asked him quite simply if he believed that waterboarding was torture.  His response was a torture of slowness.  He said something like the word "torture" is politically inflammatory.  What a dumb, fucking monster.


In a related moment of American shame, whatever select Senate committee that is privileged to the deepest, darkest secrets of the American exceptionalism model was just subjected to some kind of horrifying legalistic logic that somehow justified drone strikes.  Irregardless of all that has happened in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.  I recall the tortured legalistic logic that John Sununu and Alberto Gonzalez used to justify torture, extraordinary rendition and illegal detention.

We can do better.  American doesn't have to be the dragon.  Killing muslims and their families only creates more terrorists that hate the United States and their allies.   I thought that we learned that painful lesson ten years ago.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Let's All Celebrate MLK Jr. Sunday and the Second Inauguration of BHO

Greetings to all. Lot's of reasons to celebrate this weekend. The most important being freedom. May we always remain a free and united people. I guess it has been four years since I created what I consider to be my greatest blog post to date on the Dog Report, entitled Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Blogging. The excitement of four years ago has not diminished in any way for true believers. There is much to do and many bridges to build, but we can again unite as a nation and push forward into a brighter future for all citizens. Had a wonderful time in church this morning. I coaxed my old pipe organ into something resembling a gospel organ sound and actually cut loose fairly respectably on We Shall Overcome. I thought it would be fun to check the WNYC website for news this morning. Happily, I stumbled upon this amazing series of never-before-released radio interviews with Dr. King recorded in 1961. You will find synopses of the four interviews which inform the listening. I am listening to the first interview as I type. It is deeply personal and very biographical in an important way to anyone who cares about the modern history of our republic. Enjoy. And soldier on for justice brothers and sisters. We are climbing Jacob's ladder.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

We Can All Agree to a Balanced Budget with Just a few Insignificant Changes

What a revolting development! We all thought we had until at least late January to do something about the debt ceiling. Guess what. Eliminate the deficit? All it takes is to eliminate deficit spending. It's time to hit the vested interests that are killing our fair democracy where it hurts. Debt ceiling? Why do you think we have one. We are going to hit it. No problem. What do you think caused this crisis in the first place? Let's start by selling some weapons and planes. As many as we possibly can to friendly nations. (Are there any other kind?) We can build and design them faster than anyone. No nation will challenge us in battle. To do so would be economic suicide. Let's follow through. And I'm not bullshitting this time. No more nuclear weapons. Ever. Who the fuck is in charge? Tell me we're not still building nuclear weapons. Not one fucking dollar to new nukes! The rich can bite their fucking tax increase. Live in the Cayman Islands if you feel that strongly. The rest of us will get temporary tax cuts. Republicans will be unable to oppose tax cuts to the middle class. Half of their base are wage slaves. We will extend unemployment benefits. But not forever. We are going to get this machine working again. We're not going to take people hurt by the depression and throw them to the winds. But we are also going to help those who do not currently receive unemployment benefits. That's right. We are going to help poor people who haven't had jobs for years or decades or ever. How will we do this without austerity? Without cutting "entitlements?" We will do this by eliminating luxury perqs and selling off the assets of the U.S. military and other bloated departments. No more travel. No more restaurants. No more hotels. Hillary already trotted the entire globe on our behalf. Nobody else needs to go fucking anywhere. Let's give the Tea Party their due. No more new taxes to the middle class.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Darrel Issa and Brian Bilbray, My Heroes

UPDATE:

 I may have spoken to soon about my own beloved city.  Although it is not yet decided, it is looking very good for both congressman Filner to become our next mayor and also port commissioner, Scott Peters to do the unthinkable, unseat incumbent tea party favorite, Brian Bilbray.  A newly drawn district seems to have made it a little bit more difficult for Brian to hang on.  Oh well, he can always go back to his old job as reported on the election pamphlet so many long years ago, that of IMMIGRATION CONSULTANT.  What a laugh!  Carl DiMaio is a trojan horse if ever there was one.  He talks a game about clean water, ecotourism and solar power, but he really just wants to be the go-to guy for extreme right-wing propagandist and developer, Doug Manchester, owner of the once-vaunted San Diego Union-Tribune.


I have been laughing the last couple of weeks listening to my local hero Brian Bilbray talk about working together with democrats to solve problems. About electing officials based on the character that they possess. My last rant against Bilbray was about him trying to get out the tea party/Ryan budget message on the taxpayer dollar! Meanwhile, back in Reagan Country, both of these men have just assured me on CBS local news that they have a lot of experience working across the aisle with respected colleagues. Okay boys. I'm going to have to hold you to that statement. I'll give you a clean slate starting....RIGHT NOW. Only problem is, monster that he is, Issa could not resist a dig at the president, stating, "Only we need a president who will work together with us to make that happen," or words to that effect. What a fucking dick! No grace. No love.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Meet Sylvia Earle, Oceanographer

Every once in a great while, you meet or hear someone who excites something inside of you that may have been sleeping. You may not realize that your passion has diminished. It happens so slowly. We feel the same as we ever did. There are spirits here among us that keep that child-like sense of wonder all of their lives. They awaken inside of us our own caring and love for our earth, our oceans and all of the myriad living creatures and delicate ecosystems therein. Such a person is famed scientist, aquanaut and conservationist, Dr. Sylvia Earle. Her credentials are unsurpassed, yet she comes across in her mission to reach true believers as a truly humble and grateful person.



Many of you have lived fifty or more years near an ocean or shore. Maybe you lived at the shore as a youth. Much of marine life is concentrated near the shores in shallow waters. Only the great juggernauts of the sea, such as the white shark and the whales traverse the vast distances of open ocean. You have very likely seen a drastic reduction in the abundance and diversity of marine life in your local waters. Whether it's the size and the frequency of catching the great game fish in the Gulf of Mexico or just poking around in the tidepools at low tide. We have all noticed a marked decline in our own lifetimes. Once hunted to near extinction, the beautiful sea otter once ranged the entire California coast. Otters off of the coast of San Diego feasted happily on the abundant abalone. The Cahuilla Indians and lesser known or forgotten local tribes ate the nutritious mountain oak acorns in the summers and enjoyed seafood during the winter months in our local waters. John Steinbeck in his love song to his native Monterey, Cannery Row, forever immortalized the octopi of La Jolla with his great hero and object of affection, Doc. Doc harvested the ocean creatures mercilessly, to create slide series for schools. He had a thousand specimens in formaldehyde. He lived in a time when we believed that the resources of the ocean were unlimited.  Yet even Cannery Row documents the decline and collapse of the Monterey sardine canning industry as early as the 1930s. When I was a teenager, I could walk down to the wharf and see the great fleets of tuna boats.  A tuna takes twenty to twenty-five years to reach full size.  Many of the Orange Roughie that are harvested by the devastating method of trawling the ocean floor have reached an age of one hundred years.  I have been told that my beloved off-shore sandy waters of La Jolla were beds of abalone as late as the 1940s. Even in the 1970s many abs could still be had in the rocks and crevices. And many a diver was unhappily attacked by a moray eel. I myself have seen an octopus, a sea hare, a nucleus of tiny opaleyes, sea urchins, starfish, living wavy-top snails, tiny perfectly shaped shells no bigger than a matchhead, manta rays, blue sharks, rock cod, a moray swimming in open water at the La Jolla Cove and many other species too numerous to list. Today the tidepools are largely dead. A few sea anemones and crabs eek out an existence. Even barnacles and mussels are in decline.


So learn, my friends, of Sylvia and her love for our oceans and her awareness that healthy oceans are vital to all healthy ecosystems on land.  Learn how vulnerable our marine ecosystems really are.  Learn how over-fishing has decimated as much as 90% of large fish populations.  Learn what we can do to save these living systems of mother earth while there still is time.  And enjoy her recollections of a remarkable career in undersea exploration.  Herein the famous TED talk.




Much of the TED talk is taken from this talk given at UC Berkeley about her project Mission Blue.



And to find out who she really is as a person and a dedicated scientist, check out Conversations with History with Harry Kreisler of UC Berkeley. Harry is a sensation in his own right.



The picture at the top of this post? That's Sylvia in 1979 getting into the JIM suit. She walked the ocean floor at a depth of 1,250 feet. Imagine the courage it would take to plunge down to the bottom in a thin shell where the pressure exceeds five hundred pounds per square inch.