Plant Trees SF Events 2011 Archive: 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018

Event

 
1.   Victory--maybe--on killing sharks for their fins
2.   Ravens vs crows, again
3.   Caltrans Niles Canyon Project update - comment period reopened
4.   We hear from HL Mencken again
5.   Homeland Security - Fighting Terrorism since 1492
6.   Conversation about water with environmental art pioneer Betsy Damon May 25 in Oakland
7.   Wisdom through witty lines
8.   Video that documents four weeks of baby robins, from egg to departure from nest
9.   If the IRS already knows what you earn, while file?
10. What's in a name?  In the West, quite a bit, perhaps
11.  Notes & Queries

1.  Eric Mills, Action for Animals 

VICTORY!

Well, half-way, at least.

I just received the "Unofficial Ballot" from the Clerk of the California Assembly.  The floor vote today on AB 376 was 60:8.

VOTING "NO" - Tim Donnelly, Mike Eng (El Monte), Felipe Fuentes, Curt Hagman, Diane Harkey, Fiona Ma (San Francisco), Allan Mansoor, Jim Nielsen.

ABSTAINING - Charles Calderon, Connie Conway, Paul Cook, Jeff Gorell (absent), Shannon Grove, Isadore Hall, Alyson Huber, Brian Jones, Tony Mendoza, Kristin Olsen, Sandre Swanson (Oakland), David Valadao.

ALL THESE PEOPLE NEED TO HEAR FROM US.  That vote should have been 80:0.

EMAIL PATTERN FOR ALL:  assemblymember.lastname@assembly.ca.gov

The bill will now almost certainly go to the Senate Natural Resources & Water Committee,chaired by Senator Fran Pavley.  Other members are Doug LaMalfa, Noreen Evans,Christine Kehoe, Alex Padilla, Joe Simitian, Lois Wolk, Anthony Cannella and Jean Fuller.

EMAIL PATTERN FOR ALL:  senator.pavley@senate.ca.gov

LETTERS ARE EVEN BETTER:  All legislators may be written c/o The State Capitol, Sacramento, CA  95814.

Save the sharks, save the oceans, maybe even save ourselves in the process.  (Me, I'm a little disappointed that The Rapture didn't work out.....)

And once the shark fin bill is signed, we need to take a hard look at the state's many live animal food markets, where the problems are much the same:  horrendous animal cruelty (with many being butchered while fully conscious), an unsustainable harvest (esp. of turtles), environmental degradation, plus major risks to the public health (all the market turtles and frogs are diseased and parasitized).  Bon appetit.

JS EDITORIAL:
A curious aspect of this unseemly practice (catching sharks, cutting off their fins, throwing them back in the water to die) is the spurious defense that shark fin soup is a Chinese "tradition".  Several Chinese have said it is not--including the author of the bill, Paul Fong.  Even more startling is that the proponents do not respect their host country's tradition of a) protecting the environment, b) protecting endangered species (many sharks are endangered, more becoming endangered every year), and 3) being sensitive about inflicting unnecessary pain on animals.  Do they not care that Americans are offended by this practice?  

Eric is right--the vote should be 80-0.

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2.  Ravens vs crows

I have observed that crows have replaced ravens--themselves fairly recent arrivals here--in San Francisco, at least the western part of the city.  I asked readers the question what was going on a few months ago--ie, how do crows outcompete them in the city?  The item got a lot of feedback but no one could answer why or give a reasonable explanation for this, to my mind, strange phenomenon.  I have not seen ravens in the city for the past year.  I'll ask once again:  How did crows outcompete them?  Are they better adapted to these particular conditions?  Did they aggressively drive the ravens out?  What is going on?  JS


The Captivating Common Raven

By Femke Oldham

When here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore...

Then the ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore--
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

 Edgar Allen Poe may have been on to something when he composed his eerie homage to this prophetic raven. Ornithologists have come to classify the Common raven, Corvus corax, as one of the smartest of all birds.

From toenails to beak, the Common raven is all black. Not to be confused with their smaller cousin the American Crow, Common ravens have a thick, shaggy body that tapers into a diamond shaped tail. They are also identified by their heavy beaks and, relative to crows, anti-social behavior.

 

Common ravens are confident birds that are often found alone or in pairs. A raven will perch in a tree or building ledge and make its presence known by loudly cawing, strutting, or flashily somersaulting in the air. Additionally, ravens can recognize faces. Bird researchers who repeatedly capture and band ravens have reported that these feisty fliers will vocally scold and drop nuts on their heads if the researchers return to one area too often. Ravens are also known to be aerial acrobats, and enjoy playing games like flying upside down, or dropping sticks and catching them midair.

They're called Common ravens for a reason. Found all over western and northern North America, ravens can make happy homes in forests, deserts, beaches, sagebrush, tundra, grasslands, as well as in cities. Their adaptability is due in part to their adventurous, some might even say ravenous, eating habits. They eat carcasses, small animals, eggs, arthropods like beetles and grasshoppers, fish, wolf and dog dung, grains, flowers, berries, pet food, many types of human food and garbage.

Yes, ravens know how to scavenge; and they also know how to hunt. They work in pairs to distract seabirds and steal their eggs and chicks. Common ravens have even been known to pull the same trick with sheep, snatching newborn lambs away from their unsuspecting mothers. Ravens are such smart predators that their increasing numbers are threatening some vulnerable species, including the desert tortoise and the Least Tern.

 Edgar Allen Poe wasn't the only one to take notice of the Common Raven. In various parts of the world, ravens are considered to possess strong personality and even magical qualities. For example, in Pacific Northwest Native American mythology the raven is considered a benevolent trickster, bringing people fire by stealing it from the sun. The raven's knack for living so close to humans does suggest a certain kinship between us and these wily birds. So next time you hear a throaty caww coming from a nearby tree, take a moment to consider this fascinating bird. And keep in mind that the raven just might be staring right back at you.

From The Watershed Project


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3.  Caltrans Niles Canyon Project Update - read more:  The Alameda Creek Alliance (www.alamedacreek.org)

Fremont Leaders Disturbed By Niles Canyon Tree Removal - San Jose Mercury News 4-28-11
 
Protesters Move CalTrans to Reopen Niles Road EIR Hearing - Livermore Independent 4-21-11

Due to our protests, Caltrans has reopened the formal comment period for phase two of the Niles Canyon project for 45 days, to "solicit additional input from the public in determining the possible scope of a modified project." Additional public comments on phase two will be taken from May 23 through July 7.
 
The Alameda Creek Alliance will have a sample comment letter and talking points posted shortly on our Niles Canyon web page. Stay tuned for an action alert on this issue. The draft Environmental Impact Report for phase two can be found here.
 
Comments can be e-mailed to nilescanyonprojects@dot.ca.gov or mailed to: Caltrans District 4, Attn: V. Shearer, PO Box 23660 MS 8B, Oakland, CA 94623-0660.
 
Read the Alameda Creek Alliance's May 20 legal memo to Caltrans regarding the inadequate environmental review and violation of state permits for phase one.
 
Read the City of Fremont's May 11 letter to Governor Brown requesting he intervene to stop the project

Save Niles Canyon has analyzed Caltrans’ safety data used to justify the project and disputes Caltrans’ figures regarding fatal accidents and concludes that Niles Canyon is safer than the average state road.
 
The City of San Francisco (the SFPUC) transferred title and gave legal easements of 1.7 acres of public lands in Niles Canyon along Alameda Creek to Caltrans in 2010 for construction of phase one of the project, the areas where trees have been cut and further impacts to the creek are planned. Apparently, Caltrans cut trees that were in an area being monitored by the SFPUC as part of a legally required monitoring and mitigation program for impacts from the Niles and Sunol dam removals. We are awaiting a public memo from the SFPUC explaining what exactly happened. The Alameda Creek Alliance is lobbying the SFPUC to ensure no additional public land is transferred for phase two.

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4.  H.L. Mencken:

We must be willing to pay a price for freedom. 
 
What men value in this world is not rights but privileges. 

It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry. 

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5.
Homeland Security
Fighting Terrorism since 1492

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6.  Talk with Artist Betsy Damon: H2O--Vital: Water Quality = Quality of Life 

Oakland, CA, May 25, 2011 - The PLACE for Sustainable Living will present an evening with Environmental art pioneer Betsy Damon. Damon creates large-scale art parks featuring sculptural flow forms and public art events to help clean urban waterways and raise water awareness around the globe. Her nonprofit organization, Keepers of the Waters, provides information and technical support for others working with similar design principles and processes. There will be ample opportunity for interaction and discussion. 

WHAT:  Conversation with Environmental Art Pioneer Betsy Damon
WHERE: 1121 64th Street, Oakland CA, 94608 (at the corner of Marshall Street)
WHEN: 7PM to 9PM, Wednesday May 25th, 2011
HOW MUCH: $5-20 donation, sliding scale, no one turned away for lack of funds

The Living Water Garden, (1998), is a large-scale, award-winning public park in the center of downtown Chengdu, China. "Polluted river water moves through a natural, and artistic treatment system of ponds, filters and flowforms, making the process of cleaning water visible." Sculpted black marble and cement flow form pools throughout the park aid in water purification through the rhythmic oscillation of water currents as they pass from one pool to another.

Another project, the da Vinci Water Garden (2003) was a community based collaboration between Urban Water Works and da Vinci Arts Middle School in Portland, OR.  Located on an abandoned tennis court, it redirects stormwater from rooftops and a parking lot through an educational and artistic water garden.

"Global water quality is dependent on each community having a sustainable water source that they know about and are responsible for. Cities all over the planet can be filled with vibrant, water and art-filled community centers, parks, schoolyards businesses and backyards that help people become intimately connected to their water sources.
 These projects will lead the way for fully sustainable water infrastructures, visible and integrated into our everyday lives, rather than hidden under the ground."  ~Betsy Damon

About the Artist: Working internationally in a technical and interdisciplinary field, Betsy Damon brings her skill as an artist and creative problem-solver to help address important urban water quality issues. "When people join together to solve a problem they do better than if they tried to solve it alone. Through water, we are interconnected and related to all other living things. Like water, we are one giant family, always seeking to join one another." Please visit http://www.keepersofthewaters.org for more information.

Visit aplaceforsustainableliving.org for directions and additional information or email 
info@aplaceforsustainableliving.org

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7.
Experience teaches you to recognize a mistake when you’ve made it again.  Unknown

Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.  Barry LePatner

The trouble with using experience as a guide is that the final exam often comes first and then the lesson.  Unknown

I can’t believe that out of 100,000 sperm, you were the quickest.	Steven Pearl

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8.  Alice Polesky:  Lovely vid that documents four weeks of baby robins -- from eggs to departure from the nest, and their devoted parents.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9479342&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1

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9.  "..a group of centrist Democrats called the Hamilton Project offered a...set of proposals.  One gem:  a young wonk named Austan Goolsbe suggested that 40% of American taxpayers should be exempted from filling in their own tax returns because the Internal Revenue Service already knows what they earn, having demanded records from their employers and banks.  This, he said, would save $44 billion in compliance costs over ten years.  It would be good for family values, he argued, since people would be able to spend 225 million more hours with their loved ones instead of wrestling with incomprehensible forms.

The Economist, 29 July 2006

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10.  What’s in a name?
The West of yore must have been a miserable, filthy place, with lonesome settlers teetering precariously atop a stack of long odds. Or so you might conclude after surfing the U.S. Geological Survey's database of place and landform names. The region certainly has a corner on Disappointments, with 46 of the nation's 53 references falling in the 11 Western states and Alaska. And we have just a third of the 903 places dubbed Happy, despite all the Sheep we possess - over 1,500 out of the total 1,943. Unfortunately, counting sheep helps insomnia, not low spirits, and this land is harsh: Over 2,800 Western place names contain the word Dry, while 1,343 others are Lost. And Death lies around every corner, literally, with 122 of 159 falling here (Starve to Death, Froze to Death, Death Valley). Skulls and Bones are rampant (193 out of 293 and 212 out of 577 respectively), as are Rifles (61 of 135) and Knifes (72 of 136; 22 of the Butcher variety). Not surprising then, that we also have all five Cannibals (plenty of company for Hinsdale County, Colo.'s infamous Alferd Packer). Or that Devils (969 of 1,856) haunt the landscape as though this were Hell itself (571 of 987). To top it off, the West is pretty Dirty, with 60 of 88 so-named spots, perhaps explaining our unusual preoccupation with Bathtubs (39 of 46). Amid all this gloom, where does one turn for solace? To lecherous thoughts, of course (86 of 99 Nipples can be found here, often attached to a Molly or Nellie or Clara), and also, even more enthusiastically, to Whiskey (339 of 476). But such comforts are fleeting when you're at the mercy of Chance (with 359 of 558 references), and though sometimes it's First Chance or Lucky Chance or Fighting Chance, usually it's Last Chance. Maybe it's no coincidence that Oregon and Washington have six features named  Jump Off Joe.



High Country News
Data Source: The USGS Geographic Names Information System

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11.  Notes & Queries, Guardian Weekly

Molten iron for everyone
How much space would each person have if the planet's land surface were shared equally?

The land area per person is two hectares or a square 141 metres along each side. Your personal land allocation will consist of approximately 20% snow-covered terrain, 20% mountains, 30% dry land and land without topsoil, and 30% of arable land, which you should crop and farm assuming you wish to eat.

Your lands are unlikely to be in the same place. To visit your desert, mountain and polar estates, you may wish to build an aircraft from your mineral wealth allocation, much of it in the form of molten iron at an estimated 7,000K near the earth's core. 
Please contain your pollutants within your own biosphere zones.  Happy digging!
Peter Jenkins, Auckland, New Zealand

• Let's see if I get this right: dividing the earth's land mass (149m square kilometres) by the number of its inhabitants (soon 7 billion), I get more than 21 people per square kilometre. Put on a flat one-square kilometre field, they could all spot each other.
Peter Späth, Freiburg, Germany

• It is not a flat equation: all men are equal but some are more equal than others. The higher the mountain, the closer to heaven, the smaller the land surface required.  
Mary Oates, Perth, Western Australia

• Surely, that's called a footprint?
Alan Williams-Key, Madrid, Spain

Any answers?
Why has England always been so class-ridden?
Frederick Sweet, Toronto, Canada

Why do passengers fly facing forwards and staff backwards?
Denis Edleston, Mosman, NSW, Australia
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