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.

Friday, November 4, 2011


1.   If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
2.   San Pablo man wants help to create a garden to feed poor people
3.   Is California High Speed Rail now on the right track?
4.   Easy-to-Grow Native Plants talk in Fremont Nov 8
5.   Sharon Beals birds nests photography on Geary St
6.   Two-way Haight St project wins approval
7.   Dance your PhD et al from Scientific American
8.   Sutro Stewards trail building Nov 5/signup for Sutro nursery propagation
9.   Feedback:  Govt subsidy for population growth
10. Some bird websites
11.  2012 has astronomical and cultural significance in Mayan calendar system
12.  English parliamentarian doesn't consider all politics local
13.  Linda Hogan and Billy Collins poetry
14. is a banana problem?


II, 16

How surely gravity's law,
strong as an ocean current,
takes hold of even the strongest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.

Each thing -
each stone, blossom, child -
is held in place.
Only we, in our arrogance,
push out beyond what we belong to
for some empty freedom.

If we surrendered
to earth's intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.

Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.

So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things,
because they are in God's heart;
they have never left him.

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~
(Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God,
translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)


2.  Hey Jake,
I want to ask for your help. I have an empty lot that I'd like to develop a vegetable garden on with maybe some fruit trees. We have a neighborhood watch group and other neighbors that would like to partner with us in creating a garden that can feed us and other poor people in our neighborhood.

Do you know anyone who might be interested in getting this project started. I could use help in advisory, hands on and fundraising capacities.

Appreciate any leads you may have. Thanks for all you do to make a better world!

Rich Kinney
Revival Generation MInistries
San Pablo, Ca. 948065



The California High Speed Rail Authority released its most recent business plan this morning during a press conference held at the Sacramento Railroad museum. The business plan, which reassesses the costs of the proposal and provides updated ridership numbers, is the first to be released under the direction of Roelof van Ark, who became Chief Executive Officer of the Authority in June 2010. When voters approved the initiative to allocate $9.95 billion towards the project in 2008, the cost of the system was estimated at $43 billion. With the release of the newest business plan, the projected cost to build the first segment- from San Francisco to Anaheim- has now skyrocketed to $98.5 billion after the Authority “looked more deeply at engineering costs”.

Questions of how to afford the project were raised during the question and answer portion of the press conference as many noted that the original $9.95 billion given through the 2008 ballot initiative is now only one tenth of the funding needed. The plan assumes that nearly 20 percent of the total cost will come from private investment, leaving the majority of the investment coming from public borrowing. California has received approximately $3.5 billion from the federal government after states like Florida gave back their high speed rail funding, which helps defray costs to California taxpayers. However, money set aside in the federal budget for high speed rail was cut entirely this year, and many speculate whether California will actually receive the funding necessary to create a true HSR system in California and not just a “train to nowhere”.

The Planning and Conservation League supports high speed rail if it reduces reliance on highways and air traffic, is linked with urban rail projects to promote infill development and discourage sprawl, is properly financed, and is sited to maximize environmental and ridership benefits without causing unacceptable impacts to local communities, farm and ranch lands, or natural resources. With the release of this plan, PCL will be using the 60-day comment period to assess whether this iteration moves us in the direction of an HSR project in California that is feasible and will safeguard our environment while providing critical jobs for Californians. One of Governor Brown’s two appointees on the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Michael Rossi, indicated at the press event that he welcomes a vigorous debate and dialogue over the next 60 days to help better the project. To this end, PCL has already met with Mr. van Ark and others at the HSRA to hear about their future plans and voice our concerns, and plan to continue our discussions with leaders on this project.

Also speaking at the press event was Brown’s other recent appointee, Dan Richard, who stressed that, “This is not a promotional document. This is not a political document. This is a business plan.” Now that the Governor has put his stamp on the largest infrastructure project the state of California has ever seen, it is only a matter of time before we see whether the most recent projections outlined in the business plan are accurate and whether this project will move forward.

Planning & Conservation League

Easy-to-Grow Native Plants
Arvind Kumar
Tue, Nov 8, 2011, 7pm
Fremont Main Library, 2400 Stevenson Blvd., Fremont.

Are you new to native plant gardening? Do you want to include drought-tolerant, low-maintenance native plants in the garden, but don’t know where to start? Come to this talk and learn about easy-to-grow native plants (trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals) for the home garden. This talk will be of particular interest to beginners and others new to native plants; bring a loved one, friend, or neighbor. Arvind Kumar has been gardening with native plants for over 10 years.


5.  Sharon Beals photography

Corden|Potts Gallery is located at 49 Geary Street, Suite 410, in San Francisco. The gallery is open 11 am to 5:30 pm Tuesdays through Saturdays, and until 7:30 pm on the first Thursday of each month.

"Bird nests, even without knowing which birds constructed them, seem hardly possible," Sharon says. "Creations of spider's web, caterpillar cocoon, plant down, mud, found modern objects, human and animal hair, mosses, lichen, feathers and down, sticks and twigs--all are woven with beak and claw into a bird's best effort to protect their next generation."

Sharon goes on to say, "But survival for so many birds is tenuous in a modern world where habitat loss is as common as the next housing development, and even subtle changes in climate can affect food supply. It is my hope that capturing the detailed art form of the nests in these photographs will gain appreciation for their builders, and inspire their protection."

Sharon photographed nest and egg specimens, collected over the last two centuries, at The California Academy of Sciences, The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, and The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology. While few nests are collected today, these nests and eggs are used for research, providing important information about their builder's habitats, DNA, diseases and other survival issues.

The first edition of Sharon Beals' Nests, which Chronicle Books published in June and which features 50 of Sharon's gorgeous nest images, has sold out. Fortunately, the next edition will be available soon and we'll have copies available on Saturday, December 3,when Sharon will give a talk and sign copies, which will be for sale in the gallery. We hope you'll mark your calendar now for this event, but we will send a reminder closer to the date.

Sharon's book includes an introduction by author and naturalist Scott Weidensaul, who has written more than two dozen books on natural history, and a foreword by Jack Dumbacher and Maureen Flannery, ornithologists at the California Academy of Sciences here in San Francisco.

As the Chronicle Books website says, Sharon's "photographs of nests offer a new window onto the life and beauty of birds ... these birds' nests from around the world offer astonishing insight into the intricate detail wrought by nature's most fastidious architects. Lovely images of nests and eggs are set against rich black backgrounds, and are accompanied by fascinating and informative portraits--conveyed through words and illustrations--of the birds that built them. A beautiful volume, Nests is the perfect gift for birders, bird lovers, and anyone captivated by the fleeting and fascinating splendor of the natural world."

An award-winning photographer, Sharon's nests have been featured in publications such as Scientific American in August 2011, Audubon Magazine (April 2008, cover and article on bird's nests); Bird Watching Daily; and Photo District News (cover and story about Audubon's use of photography). Sharon's work has been exhibited widely, including the 100th Anniversary Show and Symposium,Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, October 2008; Wondrous/Strange, SFMOMA Artist's Gallery, August 2010; Foto--Pushing Boundaries at Arc Gallery in San Francisco this past March. Sharon is also the author of several books including What Dogs Do and What Cats Are. 

 Two-way Haight Street project wins approval
On Tuesday October 18, The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors unanimously approved the conversion of the first block of Haight Street, between Market Street and Octavia Boulevard, from one-way to two-way. Livable City joined Walk SF, the SF Bicycle Coalition, and the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association in campaigning for this important improvement.

Two-way Haight Street allows the MTA to move the eastbound 6 and 71 routes from Page Street to Haight Street. Consolidating transit operations on Haight Street will eliminate two turns, and improve transit speed and reliability for 20,000 Muni customers who use this route each weekday. The project includes a short segment of colored bus-only lane. Used extensively in other cities, this project will be San Francisco's first colored transit priority lane.

The project includes pedestrian safety improvements at the Haight, Market and Gough intersection. Curb extensions, realigned crosswalks, expanded traffic and Muni boarding island, and signal improvements are designed to shorten crossing distances, improve pedestrian visibility, and reduce collisions at one of the City's most dangerous intersections.

This project complements the two-way McAllister Project, which opened a few weeks ago, and provides similar time savings and reliability improvements for Muni's 5-Fulton route. The conversion of Hayes Street between Gough and Van Ness from one-way to two-way earlier this year will calm traffic on Hayes Valley's most important commercial street. Both the Haight Street and McAllister Street projects help advance the Transit Effectiveness Project, Muni's plan to significantly improve the speed, reliability, and accessibility of the City's most-used bus routes.
The Haight, McAllister, and Hayes projects were priorities for Livable City's Complete Streets campaign. See our Complete Streets campaign page for more details.

Join the movement for a more livable city!
Membership in Livable City is a small investment for more joy in your life and that of your fellow city-dwellers! Members receive invitations to special events and regular opportunities to make a difference!  Join online:

Dance your PhD
The winner in the biology category for this year’s ‘Dance your PhD Contest’ is by Cedric Tan at the University of Oxford. Cedric’s video incorporates a great story and is chock-full of entertaining dancing. The epic mating battle of the fruit flies stars three dancers who undertake extremely clever choreography to depict various stages in the process. This video also makes use of many great editing techniques including integration of a comic book template, effective mixing of color and black and white footage, and clever use of fast motion.


OBSERVATIONS: Why Innovation Won't Defuse the Population Bomb

CLIMATEWIRE: Car-Clogged Chinese Cities Encourage a Return to Bicycles
China is attempting to reverse course back to bicycle-friendly cities to curb automotive gridlock and pollution

(The streets of Chinese cities were clogged with bicycles, trucks, buses when there were almost no privately-owned cars, except for politicos when I was there in 1983 and 1986.  I was stunned with disbelief when the govt not only allowed people to buy cars and actually encouraged it.  The traffic scarcely moved and the air was so smoggy that it hurt the eyes.  Now they discover that they need to rethink.  What were they thinking?  JS)

A new breed of genetically modified mosquitoes carries a gene that cripples its own offspring. They could crush native mosquito populations and block the spread of disease. And they are already in the air—though that's been a secret

WEB EXCLUSIVES: Should Scientists Use Genetically Modified Insects to Fight Disease?
Two scientists explore the controversies over releasing genetically modified mosquitoes into the wild


8.  Sutro Stewards
As we head deeper into Fall and have finally had a few days of well-deserved heat, it's time to think about November and the REI—Ridge Trail Service Day on Mount Sutro. This year the Sutro Stewards in partnership with REI and the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council and Chipotle Mexican Grill will embark on another trail restoration project to further enhance connectivity in the area. Volunteers will be heading to Mount Sutro early for a full day of work with a morning session, lunch, followed by an optional afternoon wrap-up session. The project will involve heavy brushing, tread restoration and switchback and drywall construction. This project has something for everyone and will combine muscle with finesse! Minimum age 18+, 14+ if accompanied by parent or guardian.
We are just a few weeks away from beginning to schedule sessions at the new propagation nursery. We're adding those of you who are interested in this low-impact activity to a special Nursery Email List. If you'd like to learn how to propagate native plants from seed and cuttings collected locally you need to signup. Please email Craig@SutroStewards to be included in nursery activity notices.


9.  Feedback

On Nov 3, 2011, at 11:42 PM, Carol Teltschick-Fall wrote:
thought you might find this interesting vis a vis world population
Yes, I'm very familiar with this wrinkle in the problem.

It reminds me that until recently some govts were encouraging, even subsidizing, population growth as a means to further their nation's power.  "France Gloire!" was Charles de Gaulle's slogan, and he actually provided subsidies for babies, as did Francois Mitterand.  I can't say that it had no effect--it may have--but I find that other factors are more persuasive in people's decisions, and more and more people are choosing not to have children--those who have choices. 

Enabling is the greatest aid to reducing births.  The large family sizes of many African nations is mostly because women are often not allowed a choice, and they have no viable means of contraception.  The current famine in east Africa is aggravated by this inability to choose.  It is what makes the GOP's blocking of U.S. contributions to the UN Family Planning Assistance tragic.  (Does the GOP ever take an intelligent position on anything?)


10.  From Alice Polesky:

Stunning and moving


11.  California Academy of S

The year 2012 has astronomical and cultural significance in the Maya calendar system, with connections to corn and the zenith passage of the Sun. Join an astronomer and a Yucatec Maya elder for a lecture exploring the Maya people's calendar and cultural practices. Takes place on Monday, Nov. 7 at 7:30 pm. $12 adults, $10 seniors.
Purchase tickets.

"More than two centuries ago, the liberal philosopher Edmund Burke delivered a bracing warning to voters in Bristol, who had just elected him to Parliament.  If his constituents had opinions, he announced, he would 'rejoice' to hear them.  But he would not be Bristol's envoy to Parliament, nor take instructions from his electors.  At Westminster, he would deliberate in the national interest, not theirs."

From Bagehot in The Economist 29.10.11
(Hooboy; how many votes would he get in Pennsylvania, or anywhere today, for that matter.  Mr Burke, repeat after me:  "All politics is local, all politics is local…all politics…)

As Gene Healy, author of a recent book called The Cult of the Presidency, notes:  “Over and over again we begin by looking to the president as the solution to all our problems, and we end up believing he’s the source of all our problems.”

The Way In

Sometimes the way to milk and honey is through the body.
Sometimes the way in is a song.
But there are three ways in the world: dangerous, wounding,
and beauty.
To enter stone, be water.
To rise through hard earth, be plant
desiring sunlight, believing in water.
To enter fire, be dry.
To enter life, be food.

~ Linda Hogan ~

(Rounding the Human Corners)


After three days of steady rain -
over two inches said the radio -
I follow the example of monks
who write by a window, sunlight on the page.
Five times this morning,
I loaded a wheelbarrow with wood
and steered it down the hill to the house,
and later I will cut down the dead garden
with a clippers and haul the soft pulp
to a grave in the woods,
but now there is only
my sunny page which is like a poem
I am covering with another poem
and the dog asleep on the tiles,
her head in her paws,
her hind legs played out like a frog.
How foolish it is to long for childhood,
to want to run in circles in the yard again,
arms outstretched,
pretending to be an airplane.
How senseless to dread whatever lies before us
when, night and day, the boats,
strong as horses in the wind,
come and go,
bringing in the tiny infants
and carrying away the bodies of the dead.
~ Billy Collins ~
(Sailing Alone Around the Room)


Deja moo:  Tired of the same old bull
Bazookatile tendencies:  desire to pop someone’s gigantic bubble gum bubble
ignowrench:  can’t tell one tool from another
pre-puptial agreement:  agreement about who will walk the dog, feed it, clean up after it before acquiring it
tele-martyr – someone who talks to a telemarketer; alternatively, someone so annoying he sacrifices his dignity

(From NPR's Says You)

What is a banana problem?
With the sequence anana, you don’t know when to stop.  In computers that phenomenon is often encountered…repeats, repeats, repeats….

Which is why I joined Banana:  Build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything.
I also belong to CAVEmen:  Citizens Against Virtually Everything

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