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.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Television knows no night. It is perpetual day. TV embodies our fear of the dark, of night, of the other side of things. -Jean Baudrillard, sociologist and philosopher (1929-2007)

Our perception that we have "no time" is one of the distinctive marks of modern Western culture. -Margaret Visser, writer and broadcaster

1.   Asked to Write About the World Trade Center
2.   How help world amphibians TONIGHT in Oakland
3.   Sportsman battles to keep hounds hunting
4.   Bird poisoner Scotts Miracle Gro Company fined
5.   Cat predation on birds and small mammals worse than thought
6.   Meet 20 of the world's most committed wildlife conservationists
7.   Some details of the $195m RecPark bond
8.   Feedback: Loren Eiseley/RecPark bond
9.   Kids' hormones tell them to be optimistic; numbers tell them differently
10. The Word According to Americans
11.  Are lawyers becoming honest?

Asked to Write About the World Trade Center

© Dan Liberthson

How in hell can you ask?
There will never be a day
appropriate to write of this.
Shadows of souls
ripped from their bodies and delivered
to the blank shock of nothing
always will cross the screen.
Thousands of shadows, like
those of great starling flocks
startled by backfire or hawk,
tear up the sky every way
the eye can see, tear even
through brainflesh and eyegel,
sparrows fierce in dead-on flight.
But this is just a metaphor—
these words merely signs of
sounds for a mind confounded,
a heart too baffled to embrace
what neither understands.

One takes too much comfort
indicating these sounds,
too much relief sharing a small pain
like a scab torn from healing skin,
not the big pain of the wound.
Yet this small echo
from the blast and the blood
soaking through the world
(with which we become one
instantly upon the impulse
of sympathy) is all we can offer,
a sign we bear these dead within
and yes their lives too within—
the only world we can know
they now inhabit, our memories—
nourishing them with love
that brings them alive for us,
brings us alive for them.

But how carry them, how
not lose them utterly
if we make ourselves barren,
sow salt hate in our own soil?
Only when we stop hating
those who made this death—
themselves dead alive,
blind as bricks,
thinking they saw God’s will but
seeing nothing but the walls bricked
close against their eyes—
only when we pity them too,
who lived as though they
never lived and died already dead,
can the womb of love swell
within us big enough to hold
any one of us, every one of us.

Let us not deny compassion.
Even as we move to close
their blind eyes forever
or imprison them inside
a final unyielding wall,
let us open our own eyes
to the love that lives within.
For until we so awaken
there will never be a day
appropriate to write of our dead
and we will find we must
endure the shame of writing
on the wrong day of the wrong week
in the wrong year for the wrong reason.

Those beside us are gone
and we breathe sweet air same as ever,
helpless to flesh them out again,
words our only tools and words
and tools unequal to the task.

Only love
can nurture those gone
and those with us still
in the womb of our being
until Death takes the pen
and for us all writes The End.
September 11, 2002

© Dan Liberthson

These poems will be published in October in my forthcoming book "Morning, and Begin Again" available on Amazon.  Dan Liberthson

(JS:  There will be more of Dan's 9/11 poems in the next newsletter)

Sep 10th, 2012: Oakland, CA
Amphibian populations around the world are declining at an alarming rate. Up to 200 species have completely disappeared since 1979. This is not normal! Why is this happening? What is causing this Amphibian Extinction Crisis? How can you help? Michael Starkey, SAVE THE FROGS! Advisory Committee Chairman and Ecologist, answers these questions by explaining what is causing the crisis and informing us about how we as a society can help out amphibians around the globe. 

This presentation will be held at the Montclair Presbyterian Church, which is located at 5701 Thornhill Dr. in the Montclair area of Oakland. This event asks for a suggested donation of $7, but children are free.

For more information, please visit:

October 13th, 2012: San Francisco, CA
Join SAVE THE FROGS! at Wildlife Conservation Network's annual Wildlife Conservation Expo Saturday October 13, 2012.

Experience the wild through the eyes of nineteen conservation game-changers as they share their experiences saving the world's most endangered animals. Hear first-hand their stories of pioneering conservation science and working with communities in some of the most remote places on Earth. Visit SAVE THE FROGS! among 40 environmental exhibits and find your own wild inspiration.

Saturday, October 13, 2012, 10am to 6pm
Mission Bay Conference Center, San Francisco, CA
For more information or to purchase tickets please visit:

For more events, please visit:

Live in the Bay Area? Volunteer for SAVE THE FROGS!

We are seeking a few dedicated individuals that can help SAVE THE FROGS! with future events/projects in the Bay Area. If you are interested, please fill out the volunteer application:


3.  Eric Mills:
See below, a story in today's SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE regarding SB 1221 (bears/bobcats/hounding).

Peruse the many comments, then make a few of your own.

And what IS going to happen to those 5500-5700 hunting hounds if Gov. Brown signs the bill?  Are we prepared to find homes for them all, or will they be euthanized at the local shelter?  Be careful what you wish for.

Sportsman battles to keep hounds hunting


4.  Bird poisoner fined

Scotts Miracle-Gro Will Pay $12.5 Million in Criminal Fines and Civil Penalties for Violations of Federal Pesticide Laws


5.  From Steve Phillips:

Jake - Following is an excerpt from a newsletter I receive that I thought you and your readers might find interesting. You've probably heard about the impacts of off-leash cats to wildlife. For decades keep cats indoors campaigns have existed, and for good reason.

Technology has allowed new research to emerge, employing "kitty cams" to be worn by the very subjects of the research....and the results are staggering. See below.


Cat predation on birds and small mammals is probably worse than you thought.

Last month, The Wildlife Society and the American Bird Conservancy suggested that nearly a third of all free-roaming house cats are capturing and killing wildlife, resulting in an estimated loss of 4 billion animals per year, including at least 500 million birds. This number far exceeds previous estimates.

This information was derived from a study conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia in partnership with the National Geographic Society's Crittercam program. Local cat owners near Athens, Georgia, volunteered 60 of their outdoor house cats for the experiment in exchange for free health screenings for their pets. The cameras recorded the cats' outdoor activities during all four seasons of the year, averaging five to six hours of outside time every day.

"The results were certainly surprising, if not startling," said Kerrie Anne Loyd of the University of Georgia, who was the lead author of the study. The researchers found that about 30 percent of the sampled cats were successful in capturing and killing prey. Those cats averaged about one kill for every 17 hours spent outdoors, or 2.1 kills per week. What was also surprising was that less than a quarter of the cats brought their kills back home. The range of prey species was broad, too, including birds, lizards, voles, chipmunks, frogs, and small snakes.

The finding that cats would bring back under a quarter of their kills to the residence of their owners actually counters previous studies that have attempted to measure the impacts of domestic cats on wildlife. Earlier estimates of a billion birds and animals per year were based on dead animals that the cats would bring home. The KittyCams showed that almost half of the time cats would leave the prey at the capture site and slightly over a quarter were eaten and never brought home.

This University of Georgia study does not take into consideration the impacts of the estimated 60 million feral cats that roam the United States. This fact alone, suggests that the killing fields out there are huge!

Finally, the University of Georgia researchers also found that the house cats were engaging in risky activity outdoors such as crossing busy roads, entering tiny crawlspaces, and interacting with potentially diseased stranger cats.

A brochure for cat owners, designed to address both risky feline behavior and the high rate of wildlife predation, was developed by researchers and can be viewed here:

For more details from the American Bird Conservancy and The Wildlife Society, see here:

Meet twenty of the world’s most committed wildlife conservationists as they share their experiences saving the world’s most endangered animals. Hear first-hand their stories of pioneering conservation science and working with communities in the remotest places on Earth. Experience the wild through their eyes and learn how you can support their work and the future of wildlife. Visit over 30 environmental exhibits to find exotic treasures or simply find your own wild inspiration.
WCN Associates are organizations that are committed to animal conservation or welfare. Associates receive a free table/space at WCN's Wildlife Conservation Expo, as well as access to WCN's network. Any organization that meets WCN's basic criteria is eligible to be accepted as an Associate. If you are interested in applying to be an Associate at this year's Expo, please click here for more information


After three months of community outreach with numerous stakeholders, we incorporated your feedback and developed the 2012 bond program. During those meetings we discussed the proposed neighborhood parks for 2012 bond inclusion and our list of city wide programs. Community feedback and outreach played a crucial part in the success of the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond and we built on that successful framework for this process.

The City proposes a $195 million General Obligation bond to address outstanding capital needs in the city's parks. The proposal includes funding for specific neighborhood parks, long awaited investment in Golden Gate Park, McLaren, and Lake Merced, as well as renovations to the parks' support infrastructure.

After three months of community outreach with numerous stakeholders, we incorporated your feedback and developed the 2012 bond program. During those meetings we discussed the proposed neighborhood parks for 2012 bond inclusion and our list of city wide programs. Community feedback and outreach played a crucial part in the success of the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond and we built on that successful framework for this process.

Parks and open spaces are San Francisco's most unique and precious asset. Our extensive and diverse system of parks is rare for a city of this density and size, making us the envy of many other municipalities. A park system as large and diverse as ours requires continued and consistent investment.

Specifically, the 2012 parks bond proposal allocates:

$99 million for Neighborhood Parks, selected based on community feedback, their physical condition, the variety of amenities offered, seismic safety risk, and neighborhood density
$34.5 million for Waterfront Open Spaces
$15.5 million for Failing Playgrounds
$12 million for the Community Opportunity Fund
$21 million for Golden Gate Park, Lake Merced, and McLaren Park
$13 million for forestry, trails, and water conservation
and more


8.  Feedback

On Sep 8, 2012, at 5:19 PM, Eric Mills wrote:
Dear Jake,
LOVE Loren Eiseley, surely one of our very finest writers.  Keep 'Im coming.
And that "No problem" response to "Thank you," is one of my pet peeves, too.  I'll often correct the speaker (nicely, of course), almost invariably a teen-ager or twenty-something.

Glad to have company on Eiseley.  Eiseley fans probably never say "No problem".  I have a few young readers--uh, take that back, I mean they're on my recipient list--who probably wouldn't even understand Eiseley; you have to be a little older before you start wondering about things like that.  And the younger readers may have no problem with "No problem".  Further, don't understand why you should fuss.  In fact, I had a real-life conversation similar to the one Guy Noir had with Wendell, and, like Wendell, he just didn't get it.  How do you explain having a problem with "No problem"?
Getting old, I guess.  Guess, Hell!  I AM old, and getting crankier by the day.
I remember in younger days having impatience with old people; they move too slow and they think too slow.  I would NEVER allow myself to get like that.

At the time, I didn't notice the gods smiling.  Welcome to the real world, Jake.  I have not only acquiesced in the unequal struggle, but gone beyond.  Now I don't even care that I'm a crank and a grouch.  Real gone.

Margo Bors:
Hi Jake,
I love the Spider poem  by Loren Eiseley, and the spider picture is great.  Although I have some pictures that are similar, this is not one that I took.
Best,    Margo

On Sep 8, 2012, at 5:44 PM, ed dunn wrote:
In your piece you referred to "possible other complaints". You know well of this one. Here is a reminder.

RPD plans to use $250,000 left over from an old bond to build a community garden where there already is one, Kezar Gardens. Not only could that money be better used somewhere else, like somewhere without a community garden already, the plan would destroy much needed green jobs.

I know that it is a non-conforming use (because of the recycling center that shares the space and has pledged to build more community gardens around the City at no taxpayer expense) but such a use is allowed by the County General Plan because it provides a public service that is difficult, if not impossible, to locate elsewhere.

Months before the eviction boiled over into a public issue I had a quiet talk with Phil. I offered to down-size the recycling center and build the garden, for free! This offer was ignored. He believes that the homeless problem in Golden Gate Park can be eliminated with the elimination of the recycling center. The vast majority of recycling center users do not live in GGP or on the streets.

If this was RPD's only mistake then the bond would not be in trouble. But his privatization schemes have alienated constituencies all across the City, including the Sierra Club and SFT. These schemes were incredibly short sighted for they have incited enormous opposition to the current RPD administration while generating chump change compared to what they will lose this November after the bond fails.  Peace, Ed.

Yes, I did know of this one, Ed.  I will post your comments.

Opponents may be right, and if voting against the bond would prevent further privatization I would join them.  My fears about consequences of the bond defeat were stated and don't need repeating here.  That "win" (ie, bond defeat) could prove pyrrhic.

As a 32-year staff member of RecPark, I well know all the warts, and I am often wild with pain at the waste and the lost opportunities for serving the public with less money than we are spending now.  But those problems obtain throughout Civil Service, whether local, state, or federal.  My head buzzes with schemes of how we might insulate govt staff from politics, but so far I haven't come up with something that will work.

I have to go by my lights, so I plan to vote for the bond.  If you think you can convince me how to send an effective message by voting No, I'll listen.

Tess Wellborn:
Jake, I appreciate your support for the park bond.  I agree our parks need funds.  I disagree that the last bond, a mere two years ago, was well-spent.  Therefore I doubt that a new one would be.  Look at Rec and Park's arrogant response to Prop. B, ignoring it.

The timing is wrong - it's too soon for another park bond, and other city needs, like education, should be addressed.  But the management and its priorities are the main problem.

Dan Murphy:
I had the chance to get together with Phil Ginsburg on Friday.  Needless to say both of us had an agenda.  His was the GGAS position on the Park Bond and mine was doing something to get us out of this log jam of disagreement.  At some point we need to look forward to a productive relationship that allows RPD to benefit from input from GGAS and hopefully the rest of the environmental community.

As far as the bond goes, I've come to the personal decision to vote for it.  My GGAS position shifted from neutral to negative to neutral to positive.  Here's why:  1) The City won't float another park bond until 2020 and that means much of the work I agree with or disagree with wouldn't happen until more money becomes available.  From my experience with property issues at Audubon Canyon Ranch, I know all about deferred maintenance and over-deferred maintenance.  I just can't support the idea of allowing our parks' infrastructure to deteriorate for 8 more years.  Even if I continue to disagree with Phil about most everything, I can see that we need to preserve infrastructure.
2) Apparently Phil wants to put money into restoring some of the lakes in Golden Gate Park.  That's a huge Audubon issue since those areas are the most heavily used by birds during all seasons of the year.  Well, there are rooftops and parking lots for gulls and pigeons, but other than that. 
3)  The most compelling reason for me to vote for the bond is the $2M for Lake Merced.  I've been an advocate for the lake forever and finally it's getting some much needed attention. 

This didn't make any difference in my changing my mind about the voting for the bond, but Phil indicated he wants to establish a dialog between various members of the environmental community and try to learn more about that element of park planning and management.  I've heard that before, but looking toward the future I'm agreeable to engage in an effort to have a more environmentally friendly park department. My personal position is that long range thinking and planning for parks at all levels, environmental, recreational and infrastructure are important.  We'll see how this plays out when the election is over...

Seize the day, Dan.  I don't have any reason to think this is only pre-election promises.  I think that he would be willing to talk to us.  He has been responsive to us when we have had specific concerns.  Recreation and funding come first, but anything that doesn't clash with those he is willing to accommodate.  We must find an alternative to privatization, and my stand on the Beach Chalet fields is known, but if you set those admittedly huge issues aside (remember, that is why he was appointed GM), I consider his managerial skills excellent.

One reason why I want to support the bond (there are several) is because I like to constructively engage with management rather than fight.  Engagement means working with mgt over the years, not wait for a pitched battle when sides are already dug in.  In the long run you accomplish more.  However, that means we need to do the spade work.  Would you like to follow up with this after the election?  I know GGAS was ignored for years, but I see changes and possibility of more changes now.  But it won't happen w/o our talking--and not just one meeting, but a series of them, say, every six months or something like that.

Peter Rauch:
8.  Notes & Queries, Guardian Weekly
Why and where did the now, alas, ubiquitous "No problem" arise?

Uuhhh, Adam, can you reach that apple for me ?

Sure, no prob.....


9.  Quotation from article in Sierra Sept/Oct 2012 on the creative David Orr of Oberlin: 

Orr's view of hope during an age when the parts per billion of carbon in the atmosphere is approaching catastrophic levels is not unlike his view of patience:  Both are practical values.  "It's a tough time to be a teacher.  The kids' hormones tell them to be optimistic.  The numbers tell them differently."

"The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding, and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism, and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second."  John Steinbeck

…Edward Arlington Robinson’s admonition in Tristram applies to the creative genius in every man:
…you are one
Of the time-sifted few that leave the world,
When they are gone, not the same place it was.
Mark what you leave.



11.  Advert in Sunday SF Examiner:

Dolan Law Firm:  "Mowing down defendants since 1993."

Love those lawyers.

No comments:

Post a Comment