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 8, 2011


1.   Job opportunity with Save SF Bay/internship at GGNRA
2.   Victory!  No more shark fin soup
3.   Thinkwalks Water Walking tour Sunday 11 Sept
4.   Great Sunflower Project tonight at Randall Museum
5.   Knowland Park update - and donation request for lawsuit
6.   That's the Tuolumne in my Tap volunteer training Tues Sept 13
7.   Green Bldgs embodying environmental justice - Sept 16
8.   Feedback
9.   How many presidential candidates know the numbers on immigration/jobs
10. Justice Begins With Seeds - Sept 16-17 in Mission
11.  Days to go:  vote for - daily
12.  Humor potpourri from real life
13.  Seeing Through the Sun, by Linda Hogan
14.  Notes & Queries

1.  Save the Bay is hiring - five jobs

Volunteer Management Intern: Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, San Francisco, CA

Do you like working with people, building community, and preserving open space?
The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is looking for a volunteer management intern that is excited to work with a broad range of audiences and engage individuals and groups in the Golden Gate National Parks through a variety of volunteer opportunities.

Position Overview
The volunteer management intern will focus on outreach, recruitment, and coordination of individuals and small size groups with our park-wide volunteer programs. He/she will learn to successfully lead volunteer programs and events, as well as manage the behind the scenes aspects of project planning and preparation. The intern will have opportunities for personal growth and development such as attending classes, trainings, and networking.

•    $125/week food and transportation allowance.
•    Dorm-style housing is provided if your permanent residence is more than 50 miles from San Francisco.

More information on the internship and how to apply


2.  No more shark fin soup?

Two months ago, Sacramento insiders said it couldn’t be done: A law to save sharks from being killed for their fins was supposedly dead in the water.  Last week, more than 4,000 people emailed their state Senators, urging them to ban the purchase, sale and possession of shark fins.

And Tuesday, we won!

Environment California


3.  Thinkwalks Water Walking tour
Sunday, September 11th from 10:30 to 2pm
Global water politics and the local history and actions of San Franciscans will be the topics of our roving, raving discussion this weekend. Drop all your other plans and join us! It costs $10 to $40 (you decide after the tour) and involves a small walk up a hill. We start on the flats at 16th Street and end up on top of Mount Olympus (at the place where Muni buses 37 and 33 cross). Bring bag lunch! RSVP to Joel REQUIRED through or 415-505-8255.


4.  Join San Francisco Naturalist Society tonight, Sept 8, 7.30 - 9 pm to hear San Francisco State Associate Professor Gretchen LeBuhn describe her Great Sunflower Project. This project enlists citizen scientists from across the country to observe and report on levels of insect pollination in their own gardens. Find out how you can participate. Receive a free packet of Lemon Queen sunflower seeds to get started! For more information, go to

Also, Jill is giving a talk at City College on Friday, September 16. Her presentation, “Monkey Business: Caring for Primates at the San Francisco Zoo,” will take place in Science Building, room 300, from Noon to 1 pm. It’s free and open to everyone. For more information, go to


5.  Dear Knowland Park Supporters,

As you know, the Zoo approached us to discuss a possible settlement of our lawsuit seeking to compel a full Environmental Impact Report on the expansion project. We have been working with a mediator and so far have had two extended all-day sessions at the mediator's office and one site visit with Zoo board members and a member of the Zoo staff. This allowed us to explain fully our concerns about the project and its impacts on remaining parkland--on the ground, where they could clearly see what we were talking about.

The advantages of trying to reach a settlement are many--among these, we do not have to bear the cost of a full lawsuit, which could total more than $100K (our share would be less since we share costs with CNPS); and we might be able to achieve things through a settlement that we could not get even if we won the lawsuit. But we aren't there yet--it has been a very difficult process trying to get the Zoo to agree to much of anything, and the boards of all the organizations involved, and the city, will have to approve anything we come up with. Then the details must be hammered out which will involve a lot of legal work, assuming there is approval. If the settlement falls apart, we have no choice but to press on with our legal case.

The mediation does not come cheap. In fact, the mediation is costing far more per hour than we are paying our attorneys, who have given us such a deeply discounted rate. This means we have racked up a new round of expenses --and we need your help to keep going. We're asking every one of you who cares about the park to please pony up your share of the costs of helping us fight for it. We know we've asked before, and the response has been overwhelming--we sincerely thank those of you who have stepped up to the plate and helped us get this far, which at various low points we never believed would be possible.

But we know there are also many of you out there who care about and enjoy the park and haven't yet stepped up. We need you! Even if your contribution is modest, every bit helps and with our numbers, lots of contributions add up. We've made it even easier to donate now, with a Pay Pal button right on the home page of our website ( through which you can make a donation with your credit card. All donations are also now tax-deductible through our arrangement with the California Native Plant Society, which has proven to be our staunchest ally in this fight. And for those of you who have already contributed: please consider making another donation. Every penny goes toward our legal and mediation expenses. All our other costs are covered through our core volunteer leadership.

So PLEASE--go to our website NOW using the above link and donate. If you prefer to send a check, they can be made payable to "CNPS" (California Native Plant Society) with "Friends of Knowland Park" in the subject line and mailed to our Treasurer, Lee Ann Smith, 111 Shadow Mountain, Oakland, CA 94605.

We've managed to keep going against daunting odds and a super well-funded and politically connected organization for more than four years now. Please don't let our efforts have been in vain!  We don't know whether a settlement will be possible, but we can be much more confident negotiators when we know we have the financial backing of all of you behind us.

Thanks for all you have done on behalf of our park, and more details to come when we know more,

Ruth, Tom, and the Knowland Park core leadership team


6.  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.  (Or go to

EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park: Green Buildings Embodying Environmental Justice Inside and Out
September 16, 2:00 - 4:00 pm
$20 AIA Members | $30 General Admission
Tour start point: 32 Jennings Street (cross street is Cargo Way)

Located in the industrial area of Bayview Hunters Point, the EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park is the first environmental education facility in southeast San Francisco and the city’s first 100 percent “off-the-grid” building. Featuring an on-site wastewater treatment system, rainwater storage, a living roof, an off-grid solar array, and a range of environmentally-friendly land management solutions, the EcoCenter stands as a working model of the potential of sustainable design. The tour will highlight how green systems are used as an educational tool for Literacy for Environmental Justice’s youth programming and how environmental justice issues in Bayview Hunters Point informed the design and decision-making of this community resource.

Tour led by Tracy Zhu of Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ), Toby Long, AIA of Toby Long Design and other key members of the design, contracting and installation teams.
The event will be followed by a short walk to the Speakeasy Brewery just down the street from the EcoCenter where folks can enjoy a variety of delicious made in SF beers.

This event is  part of AIA San Francisco’s 8th annual Architecture and the City festival. Additional information on each event can be found below as well as Please feel welcome to share this invitation with others in the CED.


8.  Feedback

Lennie Roberts:
Hi Jake, Re:  Segways - I have been flabbergasted to learn that Segways are considered a mobility assistance device by the Federal Government, and as such are permitted on trails, subject to certain limitations.  The Department of Justice rule regarding Segways, which implements the ADA, also apparently applies to state and local governments. See:

I expect this will make all kinds of mischief in the future.

It's another matter for tour groups of Segways to be allowed on sidewalks and paths, whether City, State, or Federal lands, seems to me.

Suntan Queen:
On the sunscreen issue, I now and for some years have used 100% organic jojoba oil (or kukui nut oil when in Hawaii). Jojoba oil specifically is recommended for sun protection. Its ph is the closest to our own sebum. (OK, this is 100% of my scientific knowledge.)
The sun is much stronger now than it was 40 years ago, and our skin simply cannot tolerate it unprotected. Before 10am and after 4pm are the only times I bare my skin.
No sunburns,
The Suntan Queen
OK, Suntan Queen.  But the sun is not stronger today; it's possible it's even a tad less strong.  (Jury's still out on that.)  What we have is less ozone in the upper air layers to absorb more of the ultraviolet.

On Sep 6, 2011, at 12:50 PM, Lynn Adams wrote:
Hi Jake, I too love Kohlrabi!  When we were hungry as kids my mom would tell us to go pick a kohlrabi.  She would proceed to cut it up for us and never failed to send us on a trip with a bag of the wonderful vegetable.  Most people never heard of it and didn't much care for it so we would get to eat the whole bag ourselves.
I've grown it here in Pacifica but I think it does better with more heat.  I've seen the seeds for it at OSH on occasion and can't resist buying it.
Hmm.  I've always gone on the assumption that it was a cool-season crop, like Brussels sprouts.  Not so?  Maybe some of my readers know.
Maybe try growing your own and then you can taste true nirvana whenever you want!
If I didn't already love you for the wonderful work you're doing at Pedro Pt, your being one of the enlightened ones eating kohlrabi would have done it.  I was beginning to think I was the only one.

Ann Halton:
Hello Jake,
I would like to respond to item number 7; re: cats to blame for missing birds. I have a cat who goes outside for 15-30 minutes a day to roll around in the sun. Granted, she is not a feral cat, and she is too fat and lazy to catch a bird (though she gestures at it). I too have noticed a drop in the birds that used to visit. How about blaming noise, dogs, development, traffic, the planting of non-native/ non seed-producing plants and pollution? Noise and the presence of people alone will drive away those poor birds. Enough cat-bashing! If anyone wants to cut down on the stray cat population, they are welcome to participate in the local SPCA's 'spay/neuter trap-and-release' program. I've done it. It's not easy and it's time consuming but it's totally worth it. If your local SPCA doesn't have such a program, buy a humane animal trap off the internet and pay for the procedure yourself.
Ann:   I am definitely not a cat-basher, but don't deny reality.  I know there are many factors in bird population declines, but cats are responsible for huge numbers of bird deaths.  I don't have stats ready-to-hand, but I expect to get some feedback from readers. 

I had two cats for many years, and they had could come and go as they pleased.  I had a hard time with the thought of confining cats to live their entire lives in a house.  However, they often brought birds into the house, both dead and alive.  After they died of old age I decided not to have any more; it's a sacrifice, as their company was so pleasant.  But I have the great pleasure of seeing many different kinds of birds, including songbirds, immediately outside my window in my oak tree, which is always visible to me as I sit here at the computer.  Good trade-off, I would say.

On Sep 6, 2011, at 12:33 PM, Alice Polesky wrote:
Hi Jake,
Re: the post about calming traffic for cyclists, how about having cyclists taking a little responsibility for themselves? I try to be careful as a driver, but when only one cyclist in five obeys the rules of the road, and challenges me time and time again to either put myself and my husband (and other passengers) at risk by slamming the brakes as they race through intersections, ignoring stop signs, traffic lights, pedestrians, or, just as bad, racing their bikes through pedestrian crossings, instead of walking them through, putting the pedestrians at risk with their laziness and selfishness (not to mention cycling on sidewalks), I just might not be up to the challenge -- or care. Courtesy and obeying the rules of the road is not just for cars; it applies to everyone, including the self-entitled cyclists. They need to remember that even the best intentioned driver can make a mistake, and if that happens, they're the ones who are in the greatest danger. It behooves them to think like adults, not 15 year old brats, who are out to prove to the rest of us that they own the roads.

I should probably add (because I'm sure to be chided for standing up for motorists) that I hate driving, and before my husband came down with Parkinsons, we walked and took public transportation everywhere, including to the top of the hill where we live. If I'm willing to cut courteous and responsible cyclists some slack for their need to navigate dangerous road conditions, the cyclists should do the same for motorists and pedestrians. Besides, once you're on the road, there are rules to follow. If a cyclist refuses to follow them, how can s/he expect a motorist to do the same?
You have a point, Alice, and I'll post this.  But of course that doesn't negate the article.
No, of course not. I do think cyclists should have more and clearer traffic lanes. If I know where they are (and they stay in their lanes, or let me know when they have to leave them) and they know I am (and I return the favor), it's safer for everyone. A couple of months ago I nearly killed a cyclist I had been aware of on my right when she suddenly did a quick left turn directly in front of my car with no hand signal, just an inch beyond my car's braking capacity. My passenger and I were hyperventilating. It ruined my evening, whereas the cyclist just shrugged as she kept cycling on. At least I didn't get the rude hand gesture, a common response from a cyclist whose life you might have just saved, even at your own peril.
I probably shouldn't say this in cold print, but if they really value their life so little, perhaps one should look on it as natural selection.
Push 'em to the front of the herd! Actually, I don't think it's that they value their lives so little; it's the opposite. Just like the fools in cars who think the rules of the road apply to everyone else but them, such cyclists are so self-entitled they assume that the rest of the world owes it to them to clear a path.Which is why, as my sister puts it, they still have that surprised look on their face when they're hosed off the road. One of my friends has never driven and goes everywhere on his bike. He goes out of his way to do outrageous stuff in front of cars. He has no idea of the danger he's causing. I've pointed out to him that he's doing dangerous, stupid stuff and actually encouraging an accident, but he laughs it off. If he ever did drive, he might be less of menace to himself and everyone else.
Alice, I'm not going to defend this vexing and stress-inducing behavior.  But part of me understands part of the psychology playing here, quite aside from the safety issue.  Bicyclists don't like having to take their lives in their hands just to get from one place to another.  The system is designed for cars, so there is bound to be resentment, and this may account for some behavior.  Given that the automobile has been downgraded from despot to mere monarch, I credit transportation planners for being willing to take this on.  But you have to grant that they are tackling a difficult problem.

I haven't bicycled for decades; nevertheless I note that city bicyclists have it better now than any time in the past 60 years.  For a brief time in the 1950s I bicycled from my home in the Marina to my job in the Hunters Point area.  I got to work exhausted--not from the physical exertion but from the nerve-wracking tension.  I bowed to reality and took the bus.  The bicycle was not recognized as a form of transportation.  Things are better now, if unsatisfactory.
Push 'em to the front of the herd! Actually, I don't think it's that they value their lives so little; it's the opposite. Just like the fools in cars who think the rules of the road apply to everyone else but them, such cyclists are so self-entitled they assume that the rest of the world owes it to them to clear a path.Which is why, as my sister puts it, they still have that surprised look on their face when they're hosed off the road. One of my friends has never driven and goes everywhere on his bike. He goes out of his way to do outrageous stuff in front of cars. He has no idea of the danger he's causing. I've pointed out to him that he's doing dangerous, stupid stuff and actually encouraging an accident, but he laughs it off. If he ever did drive, he might be less of menace to himself and everyone else.
So, are we back to natural selection?


9.  Californians for Population Stabilization Questions Whether Republican Candidates Know How Many Legal Immigrants And Temporary Workers Are Admitted Annually To Take Jobs   

CAPS will air a TV ad on MSNBC’s broadcast of the September 8 Simi Valley Republican Presidential debate.  The commercial makes the connection between LEGAL immigration and JOB competition, displacement in California.

“We’re going to shine a light on the proverbial elephant in the room,” commented Marilyn DeYoung, Chairman of the Board of CAPS. “Unfortunately, most Republicans don’t know our government is admitting more new, LEGAL immigrants every month than the number of new jobs our economy is creating.  That math doesn’t add up for anyone, not Californians who can’t find jobs, not new Legal immigrants and certainly not for the American taxpayer.”

Marilyn DeYoung has seen it far too often at various meetings she attends throughout the state.  Most Republicans are anxious to pay lip service to ILLEGAL immigration and border security.  However, when she asks these same politicians how many LEGAL immigrants our government admits every month, a befuddled expression typically appears on their faces.

“Ignorance of the facts is no longer an acceptable excuse,” commented DeYoung.  “Californians are hurting.  Our leaders need to understand the LEGAL immigration, JOBS connection so we can get Californians  working again.”  

More LEGAL immigrants continue to settle in California every year than any other state in the country, despite unemployment rates topping 30% in some parts of the state.  Yet with millions of Californians unable to find a job and the state’s economy on perpetual life support, Congress continues to allow more than one hundred thousand LEGAL immigrants and temporary workers a month to enter the country and take jobs despite the American economy creating only 100,000 jobs a month or less.

Last month, the economy created no jobs.  Recent studies by the Pew Hispanic Center and Northeastern University indicate that new immigrants are landing American jobs while Americans are losing jobs.


10.  Justice Begins With Seeds

The folks at the Biosafety Alliance symposium called Justice Begins With Seeds have offered to support our initiative and make it easy for folks to come to the conference. They have offered this to anyone who wants to participate:

If you donate $25-50 to the campaign, then send an email to me at to let me know you are doing it to attend the conference, you will get in to the conference for free! 

The conference is September 16-17 in the Mission District in San Francisco.   Please visit their site for more information, then go to and join us!

The Women’s Building:
3543 18th St. # 8
San Francisco, CA, 94110
And other surrounding locations in the mission district. All plenaries will be in the women’s building.

The California Biosafety Alliance is a cross sector, multilevel and inter-ethnic alliance of individuals and organizations working together to engage in broader outreach around genetically modified (GMO) food issues and to bring together strategic coalitions of diverse stakeholders to advocate for a GMO free food supply, as a means of pushing for a shift from an industrial food model, to a model of local resilience. GMOs are a symbol that represent the industrial food system and a key point that needs to be addressed in order to address and shift  away from the industrial food model.
Our vision is to get the multi-faceted number of issues with GMOs, ranging from health, to social justice, to environmental destruction, to corporate consolidation, to enter the framework of various groups that have not traditionally focused on the issue of GMOs as a central theme and point that needs to be addressed to push for a systemic shift in the current corporate food regime.


11.  Just DAYS TO GO! Please vote for SaveNature.Org to win $50,000 for conservation.  Please vote at - once every day, until September 13th

SHARE -  please send this link in an email to all your friends as well as to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. 


"'A friend was on an Aeroflot flight crossing Russia when the woman next to him sneezed. He said 'Gesundheit!' She said: 'Thank goodness, someone who speaks English.'"
Peter Spencer; Column 8; The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia); Jul 23, 2011.

The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease. -Voltaire, philosopher (1694-1778)

(Or, as most people know the aphorism:  "Nature heals, but the physician takes the fee.")


Wise sayings from President Calvin Coolidge:

"Nothing I never said did me any harm."

"When people are out of work, unemployment results."

(That last one sounds like it came from Vice President Dan Quayle.  And yes, he WAS our Vice President.)

When she heard that Calvin Coolidge had died, Dorothy Parker replied, "How can you tell?"



To Light
At the spring
we hear the great seas traveling
giving themselves up
with tongue of water
that sing the earth open.
They have journeyed through the graveyards
of our loved ones,
turning in their grave
to carry the stories of life to air.
Even the trees with their rings
have kept track
of the crimes that live within
and against us.
We remember it all.
We remember, though we are just skeletons
whose organs and flesh
hold us in.
We have stories
as old as the great seas
breaking through the chest,
flying out the mouth,
noisy tongues that once were silenced,
all the oceans we contain
coming to light.
~ Linda Hogan ~
(Seeing Through the Sun)


13.  Notes & Queries, Guardian Weekly

Gentlemen please: order, order!

Sir Bernard Ingham, robed as Speaker, listening to a Commons debate. Photograph: Christopher Thomond 

Why do some British MPs stand up after someone has made a point?

• This is among the conventions a newly elected MP to the House of Commons has to learn the hard way: you don't cheer by clapping or applauding; you moo like a herd of oxen instead. You don't raise your hand like at school or a neighbourhood meeting; you simply stand up and wait for the Speaker to notice you, the right honourable member.
Peter Späth, Freiburg, Germany

• Knee-jerk reaction that somebody has actually made a point.
Dick Hedges, Nairobi, Kenya

• They've been hit in the part of their anatomy they think with, perhaps.
Donna Samoyloff, Toronto, Canada

• Astonishment that someone has made a point in such a pointless place.
Tom Pauling, Darwin, NT, Australia

• To keep warm during long sittings in those chilly old buildings.
Margaret Wilkes, Perth, Western Australia

• To make sure they don't sit on it.
Jim Dewar, Gosford, NSW, Australia

The allergy that cuddles
Are cats ever allergic to humans?

• You'd think they'd be allergic to cat haters. Au contraire, they invariably, unerringly make a beeline for that one person in the room who is either violently allergic to cats or just plain can't stand them, or both. Then they leap on their lap, turn into a purring machine and watch the human become acutely uncomfortable.

When the victim starts sneezing they disdainfully jump to the floor and head for the most comfortable pillow to take a catnap. It never fails!
Alexandra Chapman, Paris, France

• I thought all cats were allergic to humans. This is why those empathic little creatures care so much about the one person in the room who is allergic to cats. They show their sympathy to their fellow allergy sufferer by massaging the person's ankles and making soothing purring noises.
Margaret Wyeth, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

• Cats are invariably allergic to humans when there is no food for them.
Peter Vaughan, St Senoch, France

Seeing heaven from space
What and where is heaven?

• Just over 50 years ago I visited the Leningrad Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism. A mural was devoted to Yuri Gagarin and bore the proclamation that no such thing as a kingdom of heaven existed since otherwise he would have sighted it from his Sputnik in 1957.

That, muttered the guide to me apologetically, was intended for "simple people". It was, I think, the one and only occasion on which I actually stood up for religion.
Nicholas Albrecht, Paris, France

Crossing legs is a no-no

What makes us cross our legs when we sit?

When I went to an all-boys boarding school many years ago, we had to play the parts of women when we did a play. The headmaster impressed on us the fact that "a lady never crosses her legs". Of course, we all knew that there must be some sexual connotation to this.
George Clarke, Eugene, Oregon, US

Do uncles ever snore?
Do ants ever sleep?

Only with uncles.
Jim Neilan, Dunedin, New Zealand

Any answers?

Why are there political parties?
Lynne Calder, Fort Bragg, California, US

Does every sound that you hear have a musical note that corresponds to it?
Guy Clarke, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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