In the beginning this blog was centered on San Francisco parks and open space issues with special emphasis on natural areas and natural history. Over time it began to range into other areas and topics. As you can see, it is eclectic, as I interlace it with topics of interest to me.

I welcome feedback: just click this link to reach me.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


All feedback subject to posting unless you request not to post

1.   More bad news for the Central Subway
2.   Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan back from environmental review
3.   That's the Tuolumne in my Tap - volunteer training September 13
4.   Golden Gate Audubon restoration Pier 94 September 3
5.   Feedback:  free birth control insurance for men and women?
6.   The Great Sunflower Project September 8
7.   In defense of the solitary bee/Solitary bee factfile
8.   Free Endangered Species finder Android app/Preserving 4% of oceans as human population increases
9.   Scientific America potpourri
10. First international green schoolyard conference September 16-18
11. Vote for
12.  Notes & Queries: Has any politician ever made several things perfectly clear in one speech?
13.  Do-overs:  Electrolux vacuum cleaners such/Henry Ford's Model-T

For sleep, riches and health to be truly enjoyed, they must be interrupted. -Jean Paul Richter, writer (1763-1825)

1.  Speaking of interruptions - let's interrupt this boondoggle:
Another sane voice in the growing opposition to the Central Subway.  With dire economic conditions, San Francisco, Sacramento and Washington need to wisely allocate scarce public funds to good public transit projects.  By example, transit-priority streets would create jobs more quickly---with enduring transit benefits.

SF WEEKLY:  "Central Subway Denounced by Former Supervisor, Aaron Peskin"

 “The obstinacy of human beings is what enables them to fight for their countries, repel invaders and maintain their solidarity.  But it is also what makes it so hard to fix what needs to be fixed.”  Martin Woollacott, Guardian Weekly, 6 May 2004


2.  San Francisco Recreation and Park Department
Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan

The public hearing on the Draft EIR will be held in Room 400, City Hall, on October 6, 2011, beginning at 1:30 or later. Public comments will be accepted until 5:00 PM on Monday, October 17, 2011

The plan is posted


3.  Tuolumne River Trust - That's the Tuolumne in my Tap

It's that time again! As we are gearing up for the coming school year, we are looking for new volunteers to help out with our That's the Tuolumne in my Tap education program.

This year, we hope to reach over 5,000 students through That's the Tuolumne in my Tap. That's a big goal, and we need the help of dedicated volunteers to achieve it. If you have a passion for water issues and enjoy working with children, then please consider volunteering for our Bay Area Education program.   

Our next volunteer training will take place in San Francisco on Tuesday, September 13, from 6:30 - 8:30 pm.

That's the Tuolumne in my Tap is an hour-long presentation given to 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in San Francisco, San Mateo, northern Santa Clara, and southern Alameda Counties. The program is designed to educate local students about where their water comes from and to promote an ethic of environmental stewardship. The presentation focuses on the history and special qualities of the Tuolumne River, the animals that depend on the River, and what we all can do to help protect the River by conserving water.

The Trust will train volunteers who are interested in presenting this program to classrooms around the Bay Area. Interested volunteers must enjoy working with kids, have reliable access to transportation, and be available for at least one classroom presentation per month during the school year.

Want more information? Click here  Ready to sign up? Click here to fill out a volunteer application.


4.  Join Golden Gate Audubon on Saturday, September 3 from 9:00 a.m.-12noon at Pier 94 in San Francisco
Learn about and participate in invasive plant removal, tend native plants, and remove trash at this wetland site along San Francisco Bay. Pier 94 is home to native California Sea-blite- an endangered plant. See shorebirds, waterbirds and upland species of birds.
Directions:  Take Third Street and turn east (toward the bay) onto Cargo Way and take the first left onto Amador Street.  This industrial road turns right (480 Amador St.) in San Francisco turn into parking area just before the chain link fence.  Ahead you will see a small sign next to the left of white barriers. This is the entrance to Pier 94. Park in front of the barriers and join us at the marsh.
Public Transit - please visit for a transit planner from your location. Follow the directions above from Third Street and Marin turning onto Cargo Way.

Gloves, tools and snacks will be provided.  Please bring your own water bottle to minimize trash, we’ll provide water. 
Wear sturdy shoes, a hat, sunscreen, dress in layers of clothes that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty – you’ll have fun while helping local birds.    

For more details visit

5.  Feedback

Dave Goggin:
In a recommendation with profound implications for the future of family planning in America, an Institute of Medicine panel recently recommended that health insurance companies in the U.S. be required to cover birth control for women as a free preventive service without any required copay.
And shouldn't health insurance companies in the U.S. ALSO be required to cover birth control for _men_ as a free preventive service without any required copay?
Or is that not politically correct?


6.  San Francisco Naturalist Society - free and open to the public
Thursday, September 8
The Great Sunflower Project, with Professor Gretchen LeBuhn.

Over the past few years, scientific studies have suggested that both honey bee and native bee populations are in trouble. We started this project as a way to gather information about our urban, suburban and rural bee populations.
We enlisted people all over the world to observe their bees on sunflowers. Sunflowers are relatively easy to grow and a great resource for bees.
We would love to have you join us. Everyone who comes to this Naturalist Society talk will receive a free packet of Lemon Queen sunflower seeds!

Gretchen LeBuhn is an associate professor at San Francisco State University. She has a broad interest in issues surrounding conservation.
Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way, San Francisco CA 94114. 7:30-9 pm. For more information, go to or contact Patrick Schlemmer at JKodiak(at) or (415) 225-3830.

Professor LeBuhn is founder and director of The Great Sunflower Project. This project is “designed to evaluate the effects of landscape change on pollinator service in North America.” Citizen scientists across the country plant sunflowers and then count the number of bees which visit them over a 15-minute period.

This is a fun project because you actually get to measure the level of pollination occurring in your own garden. I encourage you to participate. In fact, everyone who comes to the talk will receive a free packet of seeds to get started!


7.  In defence of the solitary bee (excerpts)

Bee here now: local children, businesses and volunteers got together in June to build the bee house at Barking Riverside, the largest structure of its kind in the world.

On a rainy, windswept summer's afternoon I find myself on the banks of the river Thames in Barking, east London, with a tape measure in hand, adjudicating at a Guinness world record attempt. I have been asked to measure the length, height and depth of a large wooden structure made out of more than 20,000 pieces of bamboo and 200 logs. It has taken local volunteers three weeks to cut, saw and drill into the wood and create what they hope will be the world's largest bee house.

There is enough room in its interior for hundreds of residents who, it is hoped, will make their nests in the numerous holes and tunnels in the wood. Yet few if any of these bees will be recognisable to the public, for none of them make honey for our consumption, nor spend the summer buzzing from one brightly coloured flower to the next in our parks and gardens.

These lesser known bees are solitary insects that, as their name suggests, live alone rather than in large colonies like honeybees or bumblebees. Many survive for just a few weeks – enough time to mate, make a nest and lay their eggs. But, like their more sociable cousins, they perform vital pollination services while they busily collect nectar and pollen from plants to feed their offspring.

"Local residents and volunteers have invested their evenings and weekends to help London Wildlife Trust and architecture company Make: Good build this huge bee house," says Francesca Barker, conservation officer for Barking Riverside. "It will provide urgently needed habitat for solitary bees which are in decline in Britain."

It is important that we get to know these harmless and fascinating creatures and help protect them, because if our honeybees continue to deteriorate we will be depending on them more and more to pollinate our food. Honeybees and the dangers they face from parasites, disease, pesticides and malnutrition have been well documented over the past few years, ever since a strange phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder threatened their existence. The ensuing press interest in the vanishing honeybees has resulted in an unprecedented increase in the number of people taking up beekeeping in towns and cities across the world in an effort to save the beleaguered species. In the last three years, membership of the British Beekeepers Association has doubled to more than 20,000, beekeeping courses report long waiting lists, and beehives are springing up on office rooftops, allotments and in schools.

"This level of interest is unheard of during my 35-year career," says John Hauxwell, former chair of North London Beekeepers' Association. "We are now overloaded with novice beekeepers and we don't have the experienced ones to support and mentor them."

It is a far cry, he adds, from when he joined the association in the mid-1980s and newcomers had meetings around his small kitchen table. But in the furore surrounding the honeybees' demise, solitary bees have been overlooked. While there is just one species of honeybee in the UK, and 24 different bumblebees (though three species have vanished in recent years), there are some 250 species of solitary bee. Their future is jeopardised by many of the same problems affecting honeybees such as modern farming practices, which have reduced the availability of forage. In addition, urban development has destroyed solitary bees' nesting sites.

The Barking Riverside bee house hopes to provide a safe place for the 30 or so local solitary bee species to lay their eggs. It will most likely entice the red mason bee in spring, one of the UK's most common solitary bees, which makes its nest in a cavity. The bamboo hollows in a bee house resemble the plant stems it likes to lay its eggs in. In then seals the hole with mud. To the untrained eye, it could easily be mistaken for a honeybee, albeit a slightly redder version. Other mason bees nest in holes in wood or walls.

...In November, ITV viewers in south-west England voted for the Bee Guardian Foundation to win £46,000 of lottery funding to take its message to Gloucester and make it the world's first "bee guardian city". It is fortuitous that the bee champions' arrival coincided with the city council's grounds maintenance department looking to save money: expensive civic displays of bedding plants that yield little nectar or pollen are being replaced by bee-friendly herbaceous perennials that require less watering, weeding and fertiliser. Schools have each received a packet of wildflower seeds and fruit trees for planting, and residents have been invited on bee walks to learn about the solitary bees living in their midst.

Gloucester will be a test bed for developing a bee guardian kitemark. "Just as hundreds of towns have achieved Fairtrade status by adhering to strict criteria about supporting and using products with a Fairtrade mark, cities will be able to achieve bee guardian status if they can demonstrate their commitment to adopting bee-friendly measures," explains foundation co-founder Jessie Jowers.

She believes that one of the reasons we are so ignorant of solitary bees is that we don't have the same cultural understanding of them as we do with honeybees, whose honey and beeswax have been harvested for centuries….When the Pilgrim Fathers went to North America they took with them beehives to pollinate their crops and pastures, hence honeybees became known as the "white man's fly". The hive is also synonymous with industry and hard work in Protestant culture. It is no coincidence that the entrance hall of the neo-gothic town hall in Manchester – the engine of our industrial revolution – features honeybee mosaics. And there are numerous examples throughout history of the honeybee society being used as a metaphor to justify wildly differing philosophies from absolute monarchy (the queen bee rules the hive) to communism (the worker bees are collectively in charge).

Although the oldest bee fossil is of a stingless solitary bee, Trigona prisca, preservered in amber at least 74 million years ago, we just don't have the affinity with solitary bees that we share with honeybees...Jowers plans to redress this. She will spend the winter studying solitary bees in Mexico, Ecuador and the United States on a Churchill Fellowship to examine the cultural significance of indigenous bees in the Americas before the honeybee's arrival. "The ancient Mayan civilisation worshipped the meliponine bees in the forests and their priests harvested this stingless bee's honey as part of a religious ceremony twice a year," says Jowers. "I want to come back with more stories like this."


SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE: Solitary bee factfile

There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees on earth. Bees exist wherever flowering plants are found, on every continent apart from Antarctica.

Ninety per cent of bees are solitary. Unlike honeybees and bumblebees, solitary bees don't live in colonies and the female usually constructs her own nest. Some species are gregarious and build nests near other bees, in what are known as "aggregations".

Although they don't make honey, solitary bees are excellent pollinators. According to the US Agricultural Research Service, one alfalfa leafcutter bee can do the job of 20 honeybees.

The UK has some 250 species of solitary bee, whereas we have only 24 species of bumblebees and one species of honeybee. Among the most common solitary bees in the UK are red mason bees, leafcutter bees and mining bees.

Solitary bees are usually docile and tend not to sting.

Many solitary bees burrow into the ground to make nests. Others nest in hollow reeds and holes in wood. The female usually creates a compartment for each egg and seals them off, leaving the larvae to fend for themselves. Many females die soon after nesting.

New efforts are being made to protect solitary bees, including the Bee Guardian project in the UK and a five-year research project in Lyon, France, which aims to boost populations across Europe.

Guardian Weekly 26.08.11


8.  Two from Center for Biological Diversity

Click Here to Download New, Free Species Finder Android App

Click here to download the Center for Biological Diversity's "Species Finder," the new free app for Android mobile phones that allows users to find endangered species where they are -- or anywhere else in the United States. The app is the Center's latest creative media project aimed at connecting people with endangered species and adding new voices to our fight to keep them from extinction.
We've already had wild success with our other projects –- from our Rare Earthtones ringtones, Endangered Species Condoms and iPhone app to our award-winning polar bear PSA and jumbo-screen ads in New York City's Times Square.
Download the Species Finder app today and get more from Cronkite News Service and And if you haven't already, download endangered species ringtones, see our iPhone app, check out our Endangered Species Condoms and watch our latest Times Square ad.

Study: Preserving 4 Percent of Oceans Could Save Marine Mammals as Human Population Skyrockets

A new study coauthored by renowned population researcher Dr. Paul Ehrlich predicts that the preservation of just 4 percent of the planet's oceans would make the difference for the survival of marine mammals across the globe. Researchers at Stanford University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico found that preserving nine specific "hotbed" areas would benefit 84 percent of marine mammal species. After listing a number of human-caused threats to these areas, Dr. Ehrlich ominously notes, "The next 2 billion people we're going to add to the planet are going to do much more damage to the ocean than the previous 2 billion did."

About two months from now, the world population will reach 7 billion. The Center for Biological Diversity and our supporters will raise awareness of this global benchmark and its connection to species extinction through major action campaigns and public-education projects like the planned billboard ad in New York's Times Square. Stay tuned for more from the Center on our Big Apple ad and the 7 billion milestone.
Read an article on the study in Science Daily.

(This item is from June 2010, promoting a presentation of that time.  I paste it here just as a follow-up to the previous item.  JS)

“The Last Ocean”--by Antarctic scientist Dr. David Ainley

Seldom seen by most humans, the Ross Sea is perhaps the most intact open-ocean ecosystem left on earth. In a world where we have fished out an estimated 90 percent of the world's large fish, finned 95 percent of the world's sharks, and harpooned 90 percent of the great whales, the Ross remains an important refuge for emperor penguins, whales and ice seals. However, even the remote Ross Sea is now being threatened by industrial fishing as a mainstay of the ecosystem -- the Antarctic toothfish -- is being rapidly harvested and sold as Chilean sea bass.

Dr. David Ainley, who has been studying the Ross Sea ecosystem for over 30 years, is leading the struggle to stop the destructive toothfish fishery and permanently protect the sea from overfishing by designating it as a marine protected area. In a multi-media presentation, Dr. Ainley will show clips from a breathtaking documentary that highlights the extraordinary and unexpected natural beauty of the Ross Sea, and he will discuss his efforts to protect this unique ecosystem from harm.

(JS:  I note that Chilean sea bass is offered by many supermarkets, including Mollie Stone's.  I contacted its fish/meat counter manager, Mike Tomasello, about this and related issues.  Unconcerned.  Bottom line:  most customers are not bothered by such things.  If you are, you might notify your market if it carries this item.)


9.  Scientific American

GUEST BLOG: Plumes and Pathogens: Human Fascination with Birds Can Jeopardize Our Health
Wildlife trade is a major platform for introducing animals and people, and thus the possibility of disease, as well

FEATURES: The Ordinary Geniuses behind Genomics and Big Bang Cosmology
Physicist Gino Segre follows the intertwining lives of Max Delbrück and George Gamow as they use physics, insight and luck to make strides into exciting new scientific fields

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MAGAZINE: All Climate Is Local: How Mayors Fight Global Warming
Mayors are often better equipped than presidents to cut greenhouse gases


10.  San Francisco Bay Area Hosts First International Green Schoolyard Conference

Around the globe schools are tearing up their cement yards and replacing them with green gardens. Schools in many different countries are leaders in this field, finding innovative ways to weave curricula into their landscapes, diversify their recreational offerings, enhance their local ecology, and reflect their unique location and cultural context. The first international green schoolyard conference to celebrate and exchange ideas will be held this fall, September 16–18, in Berkeley and San Francisco, California. The conference—Engaging Our Grounds—is being organized by New Village Press, Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance, and Bay Tree Design, inc.

“Green schoolyards improve the local environment and profoundly change the way students experience the world,” explains conference director Sharon Danks. Engaging Our Grounds will include presentations by visionary leaders of the green schoolyard movement from around the globe, a resource and networking fair, and tours of outstanding local school grounds including Alice Waters’ famous Edible Schoolyard. The conference will discuss the latest trends and innovations, case studies, best practices, and creative thinking in urban green schoolyard environments for education, sustainable schoolyard design and maintenance, curricula, advocacy, and funding partnerships.


11. - vote daily

Just 14 days to go to see if we can move into the #1 spot in the Tom's of Maine, Vote for Good.  We need all the votes we can get (every day until September 13th) to win $50,000.   Please help with your vote at: Scroll down and choose SaveNature.Org.. Funds will support educational scholarships and offer free admission to our upcoming event AnimalPalooza! September 24th at Fort Mason - see ttp:// or


12.  Notes & Queries, Guardian Weekly

It's perfectly clear that I should resign

Former US president Richard Nixon. Photograph: AP 

Has any politician ever made several things perfectly clear in one speech?

• Richard Nixon, whose seemingly favourite phrase was "I want to make one thing perfectly clear", was asked by an LTE writer to make two things perfectly clear: air and water.

Shortly after, both the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act passed, to the great improvement of both resources.

Jake Sigg, San Francisco, California, US

• By making a very long inaugural address in bad weather, William Henry Harrison made it perfectly clear that he was unprepared to be president of the US and subsequently died of pneumonia.

Bruce Cohen, Worcester, Massachusetts, US

• Yes, usually at least two things. The first that he can never make anything perfectly clear and the second it should be easy to find somebody better than him to represent you.

Dick Hedges, Nairobi, Kenya

• They frequently make it clear that they are masters of platitudes, wizards of obfuscation and have little regard for the truth unless it suits their political purpose.

Margaret Wyeth, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

• The resignation speech.

Roger Morrell, Perth, Western Australia

• Yes it happens all the time. They make it perfectly clear how out-of-touch they are with reality, how lacking in vision they are, how much they want to take credit for the good things, how little they want to accept responsibility for the bad things, and so on.

Alan Williams-Key, Madrid, Spain

• Julius Caesar, 47BC: "I came, I saw, I conquered."

David Tucker, Halle, Germany

Sleeping, but only in pants

Do ants ever sleep?

Somnambulants do.

Aaron M Fine, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, US

• Yes, when they're dormant.

John Sang, Solothurn, Switzerland

• Depends how antsy they feel.

Barrie Sargeant, Otaki Beach, New Zealand

• Among my collection of useless trivia, I have it on good authority that ants, on waking, yawn and stretch like human beings. So yes, they sleep. Not useless after all.

Elizabeth Silsbury, Tusmore, South Australia

• Nimby!

Joan Dawson, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

• Only in pants.

Brian Cloughley, Voutenay sur Cure, France

• Not the ones in our kitchen.

Mike Dater, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, US


Dreaming on a vast cloud

What and where is heaven?

Heaven is the last hope of the chronically bored, who may find when they get there (in the inimitable words of Andrew Marvell) "deserts of vast eternity".

Richard Orlando, Montreal, Canada

• It is an Apple and is found on their cloud.

John Ringer, Auckland, New Zealand

• Wales winning the Rugby World Cup in Auckland on 23 October 2011.

Nye John, Blenheim, New Zealand

Any answers?

Do fleas perform a function in nature or are they just here to irritate me and my pets?

Barbara Goodwin, Ensenada, Mexico

We know what's over the rainbow.  What is under it?

E Slack, L'Isle Jourdain, France

Do-overs (heard on Says You)

What major do-over did Henry Ford do on the Model-T?

It couldn't back out of the garage; there was no reverse gear. 
(JS:  Well, who designed the garage?  What about installing a door at the other end?)

Electrolux vacuum cleaners motto:  Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.

Don't sit on your poor defenseless cell phone - it has feelings, too

Email received from (Name withheld):
> Uiluuiioiooiiiiiioooo
> Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
JS:  Is this supposed to mean something?
Hi Jake, I was backpacking in the Sierra and I think I sat on my cell phone in the car on the way down from Mammoth Area (I get my email on my phone).  Sorry.  Now that I am home, I can actually read the newsletter!

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