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.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


1.   Backyard native plants and food plants - free in SF this Sunday
2.   Benefit urban agriculture and HANC - Feb 23 downtown 6-9 pm
3.   Chasing the Swell, Big Wave Surfing Through the Pacific Feb 24 in Pacifica
4.   Free compost for SF residents through March 31
5.   Birding Crissy Field Saturday 25 - children FREE
6.   Farallones Marine Sanctuary Sperm Whale Soiree March 3
7.   Montara Mtn Hazelnut Trail field trip Saturday 25
8.   The Prayer Tree, by Michael Leunig
9.   Berryessa Snow Mountain community meeting Feb 23 in Clearlake
10. Feedback: astronomy special edition/vineyards expansion/various
11.  Central Subway - interesting articles
12.  Lands End Lookout update Sat 25
13.  Randall Museum prized pet hawk dies
14.  Eucalyptus frankentrees - comment period
15.  LTEs:  Amnesty: How it has worked out
16.  Why is the Winter Light Disturbing? by Franz Wright
17.  Thoughts on Lincoln's birthday (belated)
18.  Lost Landscapes of Detroit/San Francisco back by popular demand

Love, friendship and respect do not unite people as much as a common hatred for something.
1.  Backyard garden plants available! Landowner will soon plow under our backyard of carefully-tended CA native plants and food plants.

Please help us save these native plants. Bring your own pots and take them to a new home.

Sunday, Feb 26 10:30AM to 12:30PM

2065 Fulton Street, Clayton/Cole in SF

We have:
Wildflowers (Clarkias, Blue-eyes, Phacelia, Poppies...)

Perennials (Checkerbloom, Gumplant, Angelica, Yerba buena, Blue wildrye...)

Trees & shrubs (Monkeyflower, Live Oak, Cherry, Elderberry)

Food plants (Fava, Snap pea, Alpine strawberry)

Plus flower bulbs and more; glimpse salamanders and crickets on the run!

Free! Tell your friends!

-Claudia, Zeke and Raffy


2.  Join the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) in celebrating urban agriculture at a benefit for the Garden for the Environment!
The HANC Recycling Center has long been a great supporter of the Garden for the Environment and other urban farming projects in San Francisco. We hope to see you at our upcoming fundraiser and party!

February 23rd
$5 at the door
111 Minna SF (

*Live Music by the Beauty Operators and DJ Paul Hobi
*Free drink tickets for the first 175 attendees
*Delicious Mediterranean food by Haight Ashbury Market
*Raffle with prizes from local farms, garden projects, and businesses


3.  The Pacifica Beach Coalition presents "CHASING THE SWELL, Big Wave Surfing Through the Pacific" by Sachi Cunningham, on Friday, February 24, 2012. 

The three part video chronicles the lifestyle of big wave surfers journeying between swells in Waimea Bay on the north shore of Oahu, Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, and Isla Todos Santos a small island off Baja California.  The specialized group of waterman share their perspective as they focus on pushing the envelope of their paddling skills so they can catch larger and larger waves unassisted.     

The film screening in support of Earth Day Pacifica* will include a special viewing of the award winning "Mavericks, Everest of the Sea Photo Exhibition".

In addition, we will show a short Go Pro film from Kelly Slater's Ocean Beach 11th world title win! From right here in San Francisco on Ocean Beach.  

Where:  Mildred Owen Concert Hall, 1220 Linda Mar Blvd., Pacifica
Two Screenings:  6:00pm  and 8:30pm  (doors open at 5:30pm and 8:00pm respectively).  Arrive early for best seats --  to buy raffle tickets --  and  -- to share in the spirit of community.   
Prices:   ·    $15 in advance; $20 at the door.   ·    $10 in advance for seniors (+65) and youth (16 and under) 

Tickets available online via the Pacifica Beach Coalition website and at the following supporting locations:
·    Sonlight Surf Shop, 575 Crespi Drive
·    Cafe Pacifica, 1821 Palmetto Avenue
·    Pacifica PBR Office, 1810 Francisco Blvd. 


4.  Free Compost in the 'Hood
Wed Feb 15, 2012, 11 am – 2 pm, recurs Every Wed & Sat until 3/31/2012
Vacant Lot - 7th Avenue and Lawton, San Francisco
Inner Sunset Park Neighbors

Introducing the Compost Giveaway Pilot Program!  FREE COMPOST FOR SF RESIDENTS!
The Compost Giveaway is a pilot program offered in partnership with Garden For the Environment, SF Environment, REcology and SF Unified School District. It is a response to SFUAA, the Peak Oil Task force, and requests made to SF Environment that the community of San Francisco would like to have more opportunities to access the compost produced from the municipal composting program. The Compost Giveaway Program will be a pilot program running from January - March 2012, or until the compost runs out! During this pilot program, we will evaluate the demand for this resource and determine the required needs to operate this service for San Francisco resident's long term!
Days: Wednesdays, 11-2pm
Hours: Saturdays, 11-2pm
Location: Lot adjacent to Garden For the Environment, 7th Ave & Lawton St.
What to Bring: Your own 5-gallon bucket! We are asking folks to, for now, only take what you need and no more than a 5-gallon bucket or smaller!

Rot On!

WHAT:        Birding Crissy Field
         See abundant migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and passerines!                  

WHEN:         Saturday, Feb. 25, 10 am–noon
  Children FREE, Adults $10

WHERE:       Meet in front of the Warming Hut Café
                      (west end of Crissy Field, near the fishing pier)
WHO:           San Francisco Nature Education (
           , 415-387-9160

Farallones Marine Sanctuary SPERM WHALE SOIREE

        Join us at the Sperm Whale Soiree, an adults-only program, a unique art & science reception & lecture. Choose a lecture time of 7:15pm or 8:30pm with Dr. Sarah Mesnick, NOAA ecologist at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Dr. Mesnick will share her latest research on sperm whales, including their complex social structure, amazing diving abilities, intriguing behaviors, and conservation issues.

        Dance to live jazz on the outdoor observation deck, and enjoy cocktails while taking in stunning night views of the City. Do whale-themed art projects in the ceramics and art studios. Enjoy mini-talks on the fascinating sex life of whales, and listen to whale sounds.

When:       Saturday, March 3, 7pm-10pm    
Where:      Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way, San Francisco
Ages:        Adults – must be 21 or older
Tickets:     $15 – must be purchased in advance; includes all activities & two complimentary adult beverages
Contact:     Justin Holl, 415-561-6622 x308 or

California Native Plant Society field trip - free and open to the public
FEBRUARY 25, Saturday, 1 pm to 4 pm
San Pedro Valley County Park, Hazelnut Trail
Leader: Jake Sigg
With its great abundance and variety of native plants, the Hazelnut Trail is sure to please. Thanks to mild coastal winters, this area just out of view of the ocean is certain to be showing signs of spring. Montara Mountain's shrub community will present us with coffeeberry, huckleberry, snowberry, manzanitas, ceanothus, pink currant (in bloom), oso berry, ocean spray, poison oak with new red and pink leaves, and lots more – and a dazzling diversity of lichens. Not to mention hazelnut! Plus massive coast live oak trees … madrones … golden chinquapin (Chrysolepis chrysophylla) and burning bush (Euonymus occidentalis), uncommon to rare in our area. Soft, understated colors – pinks, grays, sage greens – are everywhere, woven into a botanical wonderland that changes with every step. And the blotched-leaved slinkpod (Scoliopus bigelovii), with  its odd maroon flowers and seed capsules that “slink” along the ground as they mature, is seen in large numbers along the edges of the trail. Heavy rain will postpone the trip to February 26, but light rain won't stop us. Meet at the visitor's center at San Pedro Valley County Park. Contact Jake at or 415-731-3028 for more information.


God give us rain when we expect sun.
Give us music when we expect trouble.
Give us tears when we expect breakfast.
Give us dreams when we expect a storm.
Give us a stray dog when we expect congratulations.
God play with us, turn us sideways and around.

~ Leunig ~

(The Prayer Tree by Michael Leunig)


(JS:  This area is chosen by the Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune as a "biodiversity hotspot" and one of his top priorities in his lead editorial in the March-April 2012 Sierra.)

The Berryessa Snow Mountain region

It’s getting harder and harder to find wild places free of development. And unless we protect the wild places that still exist, there won’t be much left for generations to come.
Right here, in Northern California, we have the opportunity to protect some of those places. The Berryessa Snow Mountain region is rich in wildlife and plant diversity and offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities not far from Northern California’s largest urban areas.
Will you attend a community meeting with U.S. Representative Mike Thompson and voice your support to permanently protect the Berryessa Snow Mountain region?

Congressman Thompson will be hosting a community meeting next Thursday, February 23rd in Clearlake to give local residents a chance to make their voices heard on protecting this important region. We need to get as many Defenders supporters as possible to attend. Can we count on you?
Community Meeting with Congressman Mike Thompson
Thursday, February 23rd 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Highlands Senior Center
3245 Bowers Avenue
Clearlake, CA 95422

The Berryessa Snow Mountain region serves as vital habitat to countless animals, including river otters, tule elk and bald eagles. Permanent protections of this region are vital for all of these animals – any future threat of development could have major impacts.
Will you join Defenders in Clearlake next Thursday and speak up for river otters, tule elk and bald eagles in Northern California?


10.  Feedback

About special astronomy edition - Copernicus et al

On Feb 20, 2012, at 1:03 PM, Kerry Kriger wrote:
Hi Jake,
Too often, people forget that the drive to know, to understand, to comprehend the reality of the universe around us is what separates Homo sapiens from lower orders of primates.

Perhaps the true separation is this:
Only one species, Homo sapiens, has the capacity to eliminate other species on the planet.

As for NASA funding, I'm a firm believer that we shouldn't be spending 5.1 billion on outer space while our home planet is getting destroyed. How much money does the government devote to environmental conservation? NASA also I must assume is a massive bureaucracy. Has our knowledge of the universe enlightened human society about our origins, or do most people still believe what was written or spoken thousands of years ago?  Kerry
If I understand your email, Kerry, I am surprised.

If you mean spending on man-in-space, I am totally with you.  I regard the dream of humans going to Mars as a passing fantasy.  On financial grounds alone it would bankrupt any country, and there are many other problems with it.  Even going back to the Moon doesn't seem to have a sound rationale, and it is based on other than scientific grounds.  A poor use of precious funds.

But if you mean that the instrumented exploration of the solar system and the many telescopes orbiting in space telling us about the nature of the place we live--the universe--is not worth 1% of our budget, you totally lose me.  In fact, I can't believe you think that. 

I understand the impetus of your thought--that we could do a lot to save the precious biological diversity of the world with that money.  That is true, but you must know--if you pay any attention to the machinations of politics and govt--that if we somehow agree to cancel all space science programs the money would go to addressing the issues that you and I care about.  Kerry, you know very well where it would go:  congressional representatives' pet projects, most of which would further degrade the environment, such as highways, bridges, the all-time favorites: "putting people to work" and "shovel-ready projects", and so on.  Might they give a few crumbs to saving the last habitat for a little frog inhabiting a rare desert wetland ecosystem?  In your dreams.

Quite aside from that, I'm shocked that learning our place in nature is held in such little regard by you.  In fact, I don't believe it, and you just reacted hastily.  If we waited until we can "afford" it, when would that be?  There are always urgent problems.

You and I dearly wish that we had a better sense of priorities and that we would take care of our home.  But we don't.  In the meantime, there is one part of nature that is beyond our ability to despoil or destroy.  In my disappointment, even bitterness, at how we treat our home and each other, there is one consolation, and I would never give it up.
Hi Jake,
I understand the arguments and used to be firmly for space exploration; Carl Sagan's Cosmos book is one of my inspirations to study biology. Towards the end of my Ph.D. I read a very well written article in a scientific journal (I tried to find it for you but cant recall the author) that changed my view. It's the same basic issue with biological research: at some point applying your knowledge and educating others is more important than an endless quest for more knowledge. I think a priority shift is needed across the sciences.

Creating a more environmentally-aware society will make it less likely our government wastes newly available funds. All this takes time, but it doesn't happen by having the vision focused on the wrong thing; I think the vision should be protect earth, then perhaps explore.  Educating people about the last 1,000 years of acquired astronomy knowledge also I think is more important than the acquisition of new astronomical knowledge. Given that we can't do it all at once.
I am largely in sympathy with that, unsurprisingly.  It leaves one big hole:

Since I have been playing close attention (the late 1970s) to astronomy and its research, with each monthly Astronomy magazine there are sensational developments.  A great many of them create uproars, as theories and paradigms are challenged or downright discarded.  It's an exciting and dynamic time, and this has to be the most dynamic field existing.  What a time to be alive.

I have the feeling that in a personal conversation we might agree, or at least come close to it.  Your "endless quest for more knowledge" can mean many things, and in reading Scientific American and Science News I frequently find myself wondering "Do we really need to know this?  Is it worth the money we're spending?"  That's because a huge number of the topics researched are the choice of a researcher or a small body of people who never ask the larger questions or assess the need.  Sometimes I think the project should be a candidate for the Ig Nobel. 

Astronomical research is different in that nearly everything that is researched is a part of a bigger subject, a bigger project, and everything fits together.  Further, in order to get the funds, many individuals and funders ask questions, so the process of prioritization calls for rigor.  The grand prize is getting time on the Hubble Telescope or one of the other telescopes floating out there.  Competition is intense, and the time precious.

Anyway, we shouldn't be discussing via email. 
All true, I just wish there were as many people and grantors involved in protecting the planet. We could get a lot done with all that money.

Eric Mills:
Great post, Jake!

Think Rick Santorum knows about this?
Who?  Oh, you must mean the "I'm not Romney" of this week, I guess.

BTW, when people hit the Reply button I suppose that what I see is what they send.  There were no pictures on your reply, so I guess you didn't get to see the beautiful ones of the Helix Nebula.  Pity.  Google Helix Nebula and they pop up.

John Rusk:
Well done, Jake.  I’ve thought about this subject many times since I first read Koestler’s _The Sleepwalkers_  ages ago.
Perhaps you’ve seen it, but if you haven’t rent the Rachel Weisz movie _Agora_ in which she plays Hypatia .  I found the most interesting part of the movie the fiction that Hypatia was stumbling towards Kepler’s elliptical orbits at the end of the 4th century.   Much more interesting, in fact,  than the rather trite portrayal of the strained Christian/pagan relations that formed the movie’s main theme.
Thank you, John. 

I forgot to mention that part of my coolness to Copernicus was because of Arthur Koestler's treatment of him in The Sleepwalkers.  Although he delighted in exposing all Kepler's warts, Kepler didn't come off too badly.  But he positively beat up on Galileo. 

The Sleepwalkers was so rich in detail and interesting sidelights and in portraying the times that I got sucked into Koestler's view.  But I picked up a remark by somebody (forget who), about Koestler after his early successes like Darkness at Noon, that he became, well, crackpot.  The remark made me think that I had better go back and re-examine my assessments of Copernicus and Galileo.  Dava Sobel did that for me on Copernicus.  Now I owe it to Galileo.

Thank you for the tip on Hypatia, of whom I have never heard.  I googled her and she sounds like someone I'd like to know more about.  Given the status of women throughout history I am especially interested in those who managed to break the mold and assert their being.  If I can get this in DVD I will.

Louise Lacey:
Beautiful, beautiful, Jake. Thank you.

Ted Kipping:
"A+" for you! Thanks, Ted

On Feb 20, 2012, at 4:54 PM, Robert S Nelson wrote:
Dear Jake:
Thank you very much for this special astronomy edition.  By coincidence, I have just finished revisiting Dava Sobel's earlier book "Galileo's Daughter".  Galileo is a GIANT among astronomers!  A case could be made that Galileo founded the science of astronomy...  As the developer of the telescope, the discoverer of sunspots and the moons of Jupiter, and especially as the champion of Copernicus' view of the solar system, Galileo stands tall!  This doesn't even get into Galileo's pioneering work relative to the mechanical oscillator ("pendulum")...
Do you ever listen to metaphysics radio?  ;-)  My woman friend has gotten me to tune in to "Coast to Coast" with George Noory nightly from 10 PM - 1AM on 560 KSFO AM. Why did the ancient Greeks understand so much about the universe?  Perhaps it was because they worked with The Gods!  The Gods would be space aliens whipping around the earth in UFO vehicles!  8-|  Actually, in all sober seriousness Jake, apparently about 5% of UFO sightings have no reasonable explanation...  8-|
Thank you, Bob. 

I had trepidations about sending out that astronomy edition and I feared that not many people would be interested.  Turns out I'm getting lots of good feedback, including this.

I just responded to John Rusk about Koestler and Galileo.  Koestler was very hard on Galileo, even to the extent of making one think that the church did the right thing, just because Galileo was irascible and abrasive and never offered good reasons for asserting that the Sun was at the center.  On reflection, it's as if Koestler enjoyed beating up on him.  And yes, Galileo's Daughter was the book I intended to read.

I think I'll pass on George Noory.  For one thing, I'm not often up after 10 pm, but also because it sounds like one more theory about what's going on.  How does one sort the wheat from the chaff in this world?  I'm challenged.
The redeeming quality of George Noory is that he does a pretty good job at presenting information for you to form your own opinions about.  You seem to be skeptical and scientific, and that's wonderful!  :-)  There is still a lot of room in meaningful public discourse for the folks who go beyond physics ("metaphysics") and who don't have the resources to rigorously prove their hypotheses...
Dava Sobel's "Galileo's Daughter" book will absolutely change your outlook on this important, outstanding scientist.  Sure, there are warts on his no-punches-pulled biography.  What human being is free of these??  Galileo himself respected church leadership;  the notion that Galileo rebelled against the church is Protestant vanity, I think.
I have the 5 disk audio book of Galileo's Daughter, and could probably mail it to you if you care to commune with Ms. Sobel via sound rather than by straining your vision...  My woman friend (who is a flea market maven) produced a used copy of the audio book after I mentioned to her it is an EXCELLENT book...  She's known as "the book lady" at local flea markets...  I'll bet either hard copy or audio
book is available at the EXCELLENT SF public library, too.  I absolutely LOVE dropping in and browsing at the SF main library at the end of my occasional work days in SF before entering BART to transport me away from The City...
There is a SURPRISE ENDING to Galileo's Daughter, by the way...  I was not ready for it, and it blew me away both when I read the book the first time, and even in recently listening to the audio book with full awareness of what I was about to hear at the end...
Your information is greatly appreciated, Bob. 

I am curious about Noory and have made a note of your information, but with so many things competing for my attention plus the lateness of the hour makes it questionable I'll ever hear him.  But perhaps.

I had already begun my conversion on Galileo.  My god, even a glance at his thoughts and works is enough to convince you of his place in the world.  Even sourpuss Koestler made Galileo's attitude and his relationship with the church--somewhat cozy, actually--plain, and he didn't portray him as a rebel - merely abrasive and impolitic, and unfair to the church.  Sobel's Copernicus book was such an easy read that I'll try her Galileo one.  I would love it if you could provide me with a CD version.  Yes, my eyes tire easily, so I am going the CD route when I can.

Atta Pilram:
Jake, a very good read. Here is also some historical references to Southern Baptist's belief of "young Earth" doctrine:


Robert Laws (regarding this question in Notes & Queries):
"Why do we, in English, usually append an "h" in words like Sssh!, Brrrh!, Mmmh!, Aah! and Oh?"  To stop them. -- rl

Bern Smith:
Jake -
On Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 3:02 PM, Jake Sigg <> wrote:
EDITORIAL: Hetch Hetchy's Past and Future
Let us not forget that there also lives a passel of irrigation district boards of directors who salivate at the prospect of getting more cheap water to waste in the Valley (just like the water they fraudulently "developed" on our dime back in the last century, and never repaid)...I look askance...and suspect their handiwork behind the notion that SF isn't playing by the rules...
Uh, Bern, you lose me. 

It may just be my denseness--I'm not the brightest or most knowledgeable person around--but I don't understand.  I know that Turlock Irrigation District and Modesto get lots of water through the Raker Act, but I don't know what this has to do with restoring the Hetch Hetchy Valley.  It's the same water; the only question is where it's stored.
There's a twin movement afoot to stop SF from taking so much water, and appropriate the rest for valley irrigators...same old smoke/mirrors...

Yeah, maybe not clear in my original response...Feel free to toss in appropriate disposal container...

Thanks for continuing to post this stuff; it's choice...
I know that because of Proposition A to upgrade the Hetchy delivery system we approved around ten years ago, SFPUC may try to raise revenue by selling water to Valley developers.  This doesn't have any relation to restoring Hetch Hetchy, but you can be sure ANY change in modus operandi will bring out the wheeler-dealers.  So we have to keep an eye on them. 

I used to hope that Californians would recognize that there are limits to water and that it would be wise to plan for water scarcity.  Now I know that isn't going to happen, so we just have to wait until it hits the fan and suffer the consequences.  Then the blame game. 

For years whenever people say "I WISH it would rain" I asked "why?".  As long as there's water we'll keep building subdivisions and golf courses across the landscape.

Robert MacConnell:
Hi Jake,
Regarding #8 on clear cutting redwoods to grow vineyards.
I don't get it. In the few times per year, that I drive through the north bay counties, I am astonished by the ever increasing number of new vineyards that I see.
Especially around Sebastopol, where they are cutting down the apple orchards for grapes.
If my economics 101 learning proves to be correct, in five years, these folks are all going to go broke trying to sell their product into a saturated market.
There is no tomorrow.  No matter where you look all you can see is an unsustainable frenzy.  Sane voices caution people, but no one listens.

In the 1990s and 2000s it was obvious that we were heading for a crash.  History is full of bubbles, and they all ended with the bubble bursting.  However, people don't learn from experience when there is a lot of immediate gain from ignoring it. The housing bubble was screaming at us--quite a few people recognized it, but none of them were in power positions.  Those in power either didn't see the red lights flashing or were afraid of the consequences of saying something.  Nobody likes to have their parade rained on and Cassandras don't advance--in the business world or elsewhere. 

Some people have known all along that leaders don't exist anymore.  Now it is obvious to more people if they care to look. 

(An aside:  I like to point out when people call me a Cassandra that Cassandra was right.  Her special curse--she pissed off Apollo, who bestowed this curse on her--was that she would be believed when talking about past events but not future events.)

End rant.

On Feb 17, 2012, at 9:12 PM, kristen van dam wrote:
I am concerned about the petition asking people to condemn vineyard planting and save redwoods. I clicked on the link and didn't see a single plan view or document outlining the current state of the redwoods or the winery's plan. I have nothing to do with the wine industry; in fact, I am a forester; but I have grave concern with petitions that ask people to vote "vineyards or redwoods" without a shred of context. I have encountered redwood groves given "historic" status that historically (100 years ago) did not exist. I don't know if this is one of these, but the preservation of any type or entity "just because" leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I've seen a lot of well-intentioned projects fail due to the "just-because" ideal and I think it's no way to go about conducting preservation or restoration.
K.V. UC Berkeley
Kristen:  Your caution is appreciated; there is too much knee-jerk response to a lot of stuff going on.  We should all have a good idea what it is we're objecting to. 

I put thought into what I post, but I wouldn't want to have to justify each one.  I have developed a sense of these matters over the years and I have to trust myself, hoping that the post isn't urging an action that is harmful in some way.  In the case at hand, the broad issue is that vineyards are replacing precious wildlife habitat; you'd have to be blind to not notice.  In this specific case I know something about and I found comments there from my friend, Peter Baye, PhD, who lives in nearby Annapolis.  Peter and I think pretty much alike and he provided the assurance I needed.

But your point is well taken.

On Feb 17, 2012, at 4:28 PM, joe cernac wrote:
Thanks for the poetry Jake,
Glad you like it, Joe.  Do you refer to today's by Szymborska or do you also like the others I post?
There are many examples I could comment upon from across the spectrum you deliever.
I like open ended poetry.  It definitely engages the other unused hemisphere.   When that happens, much more possibilities are possible.

Fred Decker:
Mille Grazie regarding SF Antenna-Free group tip. Now to rush in where angels fear to tread....

BTW, seems as though, if there were ever a need for copious doses of Science, electromagnetic interactions with and from things bioIogical is an excellent example of how a "Scientific Frontier" is found: a) it is not "settled" and b) multitudes of tenured professors with huge research grants say its a bunch of stuporficious hooey, so ignore it.

On Feb 17, 2012, at 9:47 PM, Lawrence Fernandez wrote:
I'm hoping one of your readers can help me find the source of this information: I remember reading that avena spp. invasion was so successful that it predated spanish invasion inland by a few decades, so that inland tribes were gathering avena seed as a food source long before they met their first spaniard. I don't remember where I read it, but I want to make sure I didn't just dream it before I repeat it.
I know filaree has been found in bricks that have been dated pre-Spanish in the San Diego area.  I have never heard of Avena pre-dating Spanish. 

That information is not in the new Jepson Manual.  Although they don't usually carry detailed information of that sort, something as significant as that would be likely to be noted, so I am dubious about the accuracy of your information.

Natives, perforce, were practical people, and would immediately recognize a food source even if new to them.  Since the Spanish were here pre-1769 and brought their huge herds of cattle, Avena doubtless got introduced early on.

I can post to my newsletter and see if we get a response. 


Interesting, this New York Times article about Willie Brown mentions that one of his  clients is Aecom---the big consultant for the Central Subway Project.
This is another layer in the undercurrents of money in big infrastructure projects.  Would be interesting to "dye" money and watch its flow to privileged politicians, consultants, contractors, land owners, developers, special interests, nonprofits, governmental staff, Willie Brown, Rose Pak and so on.  No wonder there's such improvised support for projects---never disclosed publicly.  Remember, that's how bad projects have been pushed throughout history, e.g. the Embarcadero/ Central Freeways, demolition of the Western Addition/ Lower Fillmore/ Nihonmachi.........
OTHER STREETSBLOG ARTICLES about Stockton Street. Imagine if $500 million of state/ local dollars, currently being siphoned into the Central Subway Project, were poured into the Stockton Street Corridor and the citywide Muni System.
Like the great civic battles in history, the fate of the Central Subway is far from resolved.  Let's focus on the funding and congressional approvals---because future generations will thank us for our perseverance.
Regards, Howard


12.  Last Lands End Lookout Update
Saturday, February 25
10am – 11am
Meet in the Lands End Parking Lot on Pt. Lobos Avenue (close to the construction site)

If you’ve visited Lands End recently, you’ve seen how the Lookout building is close to complete.  Project Managers from the National Park Service and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy will provide an update on the construction process, including the interior and exterior of the building.  You can also learn more about the opening event!

Generations of Ohlone Indians at Lands End
Saturday, March 10, 2012, 10am - noon

Chochenyo Ohlone Indians Andrew Galvan and Vincent Medina, Jr. will discuss the history of the Ohlone presence at Lands End from the first inhabitants through today, with their hopes for the future.  They will also share with us current efforts to revive the Chochenyo language and knowledge of Ohlone culture through their interpretation programs at Old Mission Dolores, San Francisco.

Please RSVP by writing or call 415-561-3054.


13.  Dominik Mosur - Some sad news to share from the Randall Museum

Our (nearly 29year old) Harris's Hawk, Betty, died unexpectedly on Friday morning.

Betty came to the Randall Museum from the San Francisco zoo in 1991. She was hatched in 1983 as part of captive-rearing program to reintroduce Harris's Hawks to California but was not released due to health issues. Since arriving at the Randall over 20 years ago Betty was a regular participant of the Saturday "Meet the Animals" program and inspired/awed tens of thousands of San Francisco schoolchildren as part of the docent lead morning Habitats/Senses presentations.

We will miss her.


14.  Jake,  Wanted to make sure you were aware of this.   It applies to Southeastern States but it seems we should oppose any effort to plant more Eucalytpus forests especially ones that have been genetically altered to grow in areas where they previously could not survive.   I just posted my comment to the EAs online and it was an easy process.  Sue

From: [] On Behalf Of Anne Petermann
Sent: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 8:57 AM
Subject: [Frankentrees] Action Alert: Submit Comments to USDA to Ban Genetically Engineered Trees by 12 March
Please share far and wide!

Note: Please submit comments to the USDA to ban all releases of GE trees into the environment.  Information on the USDA's approval of a new test plot of flowering GE eucalyptus trees is below.  To submit comments, click here.  To sign our petition to the USDA to ban GE trees, click here.

The GJEP Team

The Daily Journal of the United States Government

ArborGen, LLC; Availability of an Environmental Assessment for Controlled Release of a Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus Hybrid

A Notice by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on 02/10/2012

This article has a comment period that ends in 26 days (03/12/2012) SUBMIT A FORMAL COMMENT


We are advising the public that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has prepared an environmental assessment for a proposed controlled field release of a genetically engineered clone of a Eucalyptushybrid. The purpose of the field release is to assess the effectiveness of gene constructs intended to confer cold tolerance, to test the efficacy of genes introduced to alter lignin biosynthesis, to test the efficacy of genes designed to alter growth, and to test the efficacy of genes designed to alter flowering. We are making the environmental assessment available to the public for review and comment.


15.  LTEs, Los Angeles Times

Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012

Amnesty: How it has worked out

Re: On Immigration,  'Amnesty,' isn't a four-letter word," Opinion, Feb. 10

Jack Shakely reminds us that under President Reagan, amnesty was  offered to illegal immigrants. It was promoted as the fix for border  trespassing; it was to be a one-time measure with strict enforcement of  our laws, which would thereafter be the norm.

Twenty-five years later, we are still being overrun by those who feel entitled to decide who should dwell here, and we still have a  government that refuses to enforce existing immigration laws.

Amnesty is a Sisyphean game that demands citizens push the amnesty rock up the hill again and again. It is time to refuse to play this  game.

Tim Aaronson
El Cerrito, Calif.

Shakely's emotional call for another amnesty ignores the reality of  the numbers. California's population already exceeds Canada's; America  already has the third-largest population on Earth.

We do immigrants no favor by accepting increasing numbers of them until we all starve together, a limit nature will enforce unless  Americans hold our population at a sustainable level. Now that Americans  plan their families, a stable population is indeed within reach, but  only if Americans limit immigration.

Immigration cannot be limited if repeated amnesties allow immigrants themselves to decide how many of them may come. That's why the 1986  amnesty, which Shakely wants to replicate, was promoted to the public as  a one-time event, never to be repeated.

Kenneth Pasternack
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Why is the Winter Light
Why is the winter light
disturbing, and who
if anyone shares this impression?
If somebody enters the room
am I going to stop being afraid?
Why am I afraid
to go grocery shopping?
I suppose there is a pill for that, but
why? Surrounded by so vast
a cloud of witnesses
why do I feel this alone
in the first place? Is heaven a place
and if so, will our poor
hairy speechless forebears-
all millions of years of them-
be there to greet us
if and when we arrive? The meek
shall inherit Auschwitz, too,
if they're not careful. Where do such obscenities
of thought originate? And are the words
we speak being mercilessly recorded, or
are we speaking the already written
premeditated words? Why
do I want to live
forever, and the next day
fervently wish I had died
when I was young? Why do I abruptly feel blessed?
And if (and it does) this city harbors
a single individual suffering
unendurably, am I
prepared to take his place?

Empty me of the bitterness and disappointment of being nothing but
Immerse me in the mystery of reality
Fill me with love for the truly afflicted
that hopeless love, if need be
make me one of them again --
Awaken me to the reality of this place
and from the longed-for or remembered place
And more than thus, behind each face
induct, oh introduce me in --
to the halting disturbed ungrammatical soundless
words of others' thoughts
not the drivel coming out of our mouths
Blot me out, fill me with nothing but consciousness
of the holiness, the meaning
of these unseeable, all
these unvisitable worlds which surround me:
others' actual thoughts -- everything
I can't perceive yet
know it is there.
~ Franz Wright ~
(God's Silence)


17.  Better late than never:

“Nearly All Men Can Stand Adversity, But If You Want to Test a Man’s Character, Give Him Power.”

Today is Presidents Day (or, as we used to call it, Lincoln’s Birthday). That makes it a good time to talk about one of the great anomalies in Presidential history: the fact that President Abraham Lincoln, our Commander in Chief during our bloodiest war, took the time to review over 1,600 cases of military convictions during his 1,503 days in office, and that Lincoln pardoned a myriad of soldiers condemned to death.

The test that Lincoln applied, as Lincoln himself put it, was “whether this soldier can better serve the country dead than living.” (This is a good example of “gallows humor,” with real gallows.)

In one case of desertion, President Lincoln said: “If a man had more than one life, I think a little hanging would not hurt this one; but after he is once dead we cannot bring him back, no matter how sorry we may be; so the boy shall be pardoned.”

In another case, the soldier’s father went to the White House to beg for mercy for him. President Lincoln, who had never met the father before, greeted him as “my old friend.” Lincoln listened to the father, and then wrote out on a piece of paper: “Job Smith is not to be shot until further orders from me – ABRAHAM LINCOLN.” The father started to cry, but he asked Lincoln why he had phrased it this way. Lincoln said: “If your son never looks on death till further orders come from me to shoot him, he will live to be a great deal older than Methuselah.”

Lincoln refused to release a slave trader from prison, however, despite a personal appeal from an influential Congressman. “If this man were guilty of the foulest murder that the arm of man could perpetrate, I might forgive him on such an appeal; but the man who could go to Africa, and rob her of her children, and sell them into interminable bondage, with no other motive that that which is furnished by dollars and cents, is so much worse than the most depraved murderer, that he can never receive a pardon at my hands. No!”

Yet time after time, President Lincoln pardoned soldiers who had been sentenced to death for sleeping during sentry duty, desertion, and even treason. Lincoln called the desertion convictions his “leg cases”: “If Almighty God gives a man a cowardly pair of legs, how can he help their running away with him?”

And why did Lincoln show this mercy? Because over 600,000 people died during the Civil War, more than one out of every 50 Americans. And Lincoln thought that that was more than enough death. As journalist David Locke said: “No man on earth hated blood as Lincoln did.”

In November 2009, I gave a speech on the Floor of the House, in which I recalled Lincoln’s love for life. I added: “In the same way, I’d like to think that whether I leave here after two years, or twenty years, that there will be no blood on my hands. That’s why I’m against the war in Iraq. That’s why I’m against the war in Afghanistan. And that’s why I’m so much in favor of health care reform that saves lives in America.”

Congressman Alan Grayson, Florida


18.  Rick Prelinger: 
By popular demand, I'm doing one more screening of the latest LOST LANDSCAPES OF SAN FRANCISCO and LOST LANDSCAPES OF DETROIT

Internet Archive, San Francisco, Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 7:30 pm (preceded by wine-for-sale reception at 6:30 pm)

Lost Landscapes of Detroit 2 (2011) is an all-new feature-length compilation of home movies, industrial films, outtakes and newsreels showing Detroit as it was. Most of the material has never been shown publicly, and this year's show will include a great deal of new footage, including:

-- women workers at World War II Chrysler
-- Detroit public school students (1947-48) in class, on the streets, and on a field trip to the Diego Rivera murals
-- postal workers on break
-- new footage of Detroit's 250th anniversary parade, including Joe Louis
-- Detroiters making a pilgrimage to the newly opened Northland Center in 1956
-- driving down Woodward during the 1950s, in Kodachrome
-- homes, neighborhoods and ceremonies for you, the audience, to identify

While the show presents many places and activities that are no longer with us, it's not an exercise in nostalgia -- rather, it's an attempt to kindle conversation about Detroit's complex present and possible futures, as informed by its glorious past. Again, this is an interactive show -- YOU are encouraged to shout out your identifications, ask questions, and share your thoughts with fellow audience members. Members of the Detroit diaspora are especially welcome to share your experiences and expertise.

Composed mostly of home movies and family films, this screening is especially relevant to Internet Archive's Personal Digital Archives 2012 (PDA2012) conference, which will begin the morning after the screening. We especially encourage PDA2012 participants to join us at the show.
Information on PDA2012 is at


Suggested admission for each screening: $5 bucks -- or 5 books, which will be donated to Internet Archive's book scanning project

DIRECTIONS:  Internet Archive is located at 300 Funston Avenue, corner of Clement Street, in San Francisco. It's one block east of Park Presidio (California
route 1) at Clement, and reachable by many Muni lines, including the 1, 2, 28, 38.

Detailed directions are at


CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission (at 9th Street), San Francisco, Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 7:30 pm

The sixth in the series of my annual San Francisco history screenings, Lost Landscapes presents rare and generally unseen archival footage of a vanished San Francisco (1910s-1970s) in a feature-length program of historical intervention and carnivalesque celebration. This year I'm presenting a show composed of almost all-new material, much of it in HD.  It sold out the Castro Theatre in December and Internet Archive in January, and this will probably be its last screening for 2012.

As many of you know, this is interactive cinema: YOU are the soundtrack. Please come prepared to shout out your identifications, ask questions about what's on the screen, and share your thoughts with fellow audience members.

Most of the footage in this program has not been shown before. It includes footage of San Francisco's cemeteries just before their removal, unique drive-thru footage of the Old Produce Market (now Golden Gateway) in the late 1940s, cruising the newly-built Embarcadero Freeway, grungy back streets in North Beach, the sandswept Sunset District in the 1930s, and newly-rediscovered Cinemascope footage of Playland, the Sky Tram and San Francisco scenes, all in Kodachrome.

No RSVP is required. We don't think this will be as crowded as past CounterPULSE shows have been, but as always we advise early arrival.

There is no formal admission charge, but Shaping San Francisco (the presenter) will pass the hat, and we encourage you to contribute so that
they can continue presenting great public programs.

CounterPULSE is located here:

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