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, August 20, 2012


The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it. -John Locke

Everyone, in some small sacred sanctuary of the self, is nuts. -Leo Rosten, author

1.   Ocean desalination - seductive, but beware
2.   Pedro Pt Headlands field trip Sunday Aug 26
3.   Trash talk from NPR
4.   Coyotes still need your help
5.   The Great Debate: GMOs, pro and con - Aug 22
6.   Nov 6 vote to label GMOs
7.   Sustaining our communities with local food - Sept 20 in San Jose
8.   Bay Area Birds, by David Lukas
9.   Benefit Audubon - vote for champion of California Least Terns
10. Statewide (et al) support for restoring Hetch Hetchy
11.  Language potpourri

1.  Planning & Conservation League

Despite being energy intensive, environmentally destructive and extremely costly, interest in the production of desalinated ocean water remains high. The allure of an “endless supply” of water, just off our coast, remains greatly seductive. That’s why the findings from the Pacific Institute’s update to their report 2006 report Desalination, With a Grain of Salt are quite interesting. In the update, released last week, the Pacific Institute reports that out of the 21 proposed desalination facilities identified in their 2006 report, only one – a small plant in Sand City - was permitted and built. One other project, the controversial Carlsbad Seawater Desalination Project, has garnered all of the required permits but cannot break ground due to the projected exorbitant cost of the water and contract details in the pending purchase agreements.
The Pacific Institute reports, “The potential benefits of ocean desalination are great, but the economic, cultural, and environmental costs of wide commercialization remain high.” In California, water managers are turning to cost-effective and less environmentally harmful regional solutions, such as: conservation, improved water use efficiency, recycled water, and watershed based solutions like storm water capture and reuse. These solutions offer similar water supply benefits as ocean desalination, but at a fraction of the economic and environmental cost.
This session, Planning and Conservation League worked with over a dozen groups to impede the progress of Assembly Bill 2595 (Hall). This bill would have convened a task force to identify ways to streamline the ocean desalination permitting process at a cost of a quarter of a million dollars of taxpayer money. At the same time, PCL was a strong supporter of Assembly Bill 1750 (Solorio), also known as the Rainwater Capture Act of 2012. This bill would improve regional self-sufficiency by allowing homeowners, commercial property owners and governmental building to install, maintain and operate rain barrels (aka cisterns) and/or rainwater capture systems. This bill is one step away from reaching the Governor’s desk for his final approval. 

This picture was taken on the August 2011 field trip and was taken on the dramatic headland that drops precipitously into the ocean at Pedro Point.  Notice the wildflowers blooming in late summer, five months after the last rain.  This photo shows only pearly everlasting, which was rife throughout, but there was also goldenrods and seaside daisy, with its yellow disk surrounded by lavender-pink rays; the apricot-colored bush monkey flower, and many others.

AUGUST 26, SUNDAY, 1 to 3 pm
Pedro Point Headlands (San Mateo County)
Leaders: Jake Sigg and Mike Vasey
Co-sponsored by Pacifica Land Trust

Pedro Point Headlands boasts a unique aggregation of plants in a breathtakingly beautiful setting where Montara Mountain meets the ocean. As in previous years, we will partner with Pacifica Land Trust to keep tabs on the progress of restoration as former motorcycle trails gradually fade and the native vegetation slowly heals. Nootka reedgrass (Calamagrostis nutkaensis) flourishes here at its southern limit along with other native grasses and numerous berry-bearing shrubs: huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum), oso berry (Oemleria cerasiformis), barberry (Berberis pinnata ssp. pinnata), wax myrtle (Myrica californica), etc.

Meet at the Pedro Point Firehouse, 1227 Danmann Avenue, Pacifica. At Highway 1 and Linda Mar Blvd, turn west onto San Pedro Avenue then right onto Danmann. A restoration work party organized by Pacifica Land Trust will precede the field trip – meet at the Firehouse at 9:45 am; refreshments provided afterward. We enthusiastically recommended hands-on restoration as a great way to absorb and retain knowledge of native plants and their ecology. Contacts: Mike Vasey,, or Jake Sigg,, 415-731-3028.


3.  Trash talk from NPR
Tracking the economy and GDP through trash
Interview by Kai Ryssdal Aug 16, 2012
How does our garbage relate to our GDP? Economist Michael McDonough has worked out the GDP-to-trash economic...
Tracking the economy and GDP through trash


Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
A truck empties its load of waste at the Shelford Landfill, Recycling & Composting Centre.

Marketplace for Thursday, August 16, 2012

Kai Ryssdal: Sure, there were some economic numbers out this morning. First-time claims for unemployment benefits: Meh. And housing starts: Also meh.

But how 'bout this? Trash. Garbage. Waste. Refuse. Therein, my friends, lies the economic truth. It came to me in a chart I saw online the other day -- railroad carloads of trash, as correlated to GDP. And the correlation is pretty close, too.

Economist Michael McDonough has worked out the GDP-to-trash indicator.

Ryssdal: Yeah, that's right. Explain to me how this works, because it's not like iron and steel -- which are the biggest components of all this stuff -- and demolition. It's not like that has anything to do with consumers buying more stuff and then throwing more stuff away.

McDonough: That's what's great about this indicator. It's holistic because it's not isolated to a single part of the economy. It's people throwing things out, it's buildings being demolished -- it's everything. The current levels are indicative that you may be seeing a weakness in new construction. I mean, if you're going to build a new building, there might be a building that's already there. If you buy a couch, you might be throwing out an old couch. If you go out to McDonald's and you buy something, you're going to throw something out. So the fact that it is as weak as it is right now means something's wrong in the economy, potentially, in the underlying economy.

Ryssdal: So what kind of trash we talking here? Is this everyday household waste?

McDonough: You know, it's a whole mix of trash, actually. What you have is almost half of what the trash is iron and steel waste, and then the next biggest component is your demolition and your municipal waste. So places like New York City, Seattle -- these guys are putting a lot of their trash onto trains, shipping it out to other states, and then dumping it there.

Ryssdal: And we should say that's where the data comes from, right? You get it from the American Association of Railroads or something, and those guys actually measure carfuls of stuff?

McDonough: Exactly. On a weekly basis -- that's what's even more interesting about it. When you think about the concept of using trash as a proxy for GDP, it's not a leading indicator. If anything, maybe it's a slightly lagging indicator, because you have to wait for people to throw things out, possibly. More than likely, it's a coincident indicator. Except, you know, for GDP, you need to wait a month or two after the quarter ends before you actually get that figure.

Ryssdal: All right now, did this come to you in the middle of the night one night? Why are you tracking trash, man?

McDonough: When I was in college, as a side project I guess you'd call it, I studied a lot of anthropology and archeaology. And one of the ways you can track ancient people migrations in the size was how much trash they left as they moved from point A to point B. So everything just kind of came together. I found the data, I ran the numbers, and it made a lot of sense in my mind.

Ryssdal: Michael McDonough, he's a senior economist at Bloomberg Briefs. We got him in Hong Kong. The graph that we're talking about, it's kind of crazy, the correlation.


Some of the type of trash being created and hauled. 

JS:  I tore this out of the yellow pages in 1970.  I was appalled that they would--first of all--tear down beautiful, strong, well-built buildings and, secondly, brag about doing it.  I thought then, and more so now, that this is unconscionable waste.  I am glum about the possibilities of survival of this nation and, by extension, western civilization, since there is only one economic system in today's world, and it is a cancer destroying the planet.  "We've got to get the economy moving again" is a strange double message.


4.  Project Coyote

Both SB 1221- the California state bill to ban hunting bear and bobcat with hounds and SB 1480 - the Consumer and Wildlife Protection Act that would restrict cruel trapping practices - passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee! Thanks to everyone who took action on these bills. Your letters, calls, testimony and lobbying made the difference.  We have only the next two weeks to get these bills to the Governor’s Desk!  They both must pass the entire Assembly. So please call or email your Assembly member and urge him/her to support SB 1221 and SB 1480. Click here for more information and to take action.

Our work to promote coexistence with coyotes and other wildlife has made headlines in major media outlets including NBC Los Angeles, the Sacramento Bee and the Boston Globe. Check out our website and Facebook page for more information.


5.  THE GREAT DEBATE:  GMOs, PRO AND CON, WED Aug 22ND  6 PM 601 Van Ness, SF

This Wed. evening, Aug. 22 at 6 pm, at the Opera Plaza Community Room, 601 Van Ness, San Francisco, enjoy a timely debate on a hot topic:  GMOs Pro and Con.  The distinguished panel of participants will include Dr. Marty Nemko, Ph.D., speaking in support of GMOs. 

Dr. Nemko Was Contributing Editor for U.S. News & World Report. Many of his writings have been published,,,, etc. He is a frequent guest on CNN, ABC, PBS, and NPR and has appeared on the Today Show (twice), CBS's Early Show, Oprah and Friends, and NPR's Talk of the Nation (twice.), ABC-TV's 20-20, and in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.  He is the primary source for dozens of articles, from the New York Times to Nature.  Dr. Nemko holds a Ph.D.from the University of California, Berkeley and subsequently taught there.

Joining Dr. Nemko in support of GMOs will be Dr. Michael Edelstein, Ph.D.  Nationally acclaimed psychologist and author of the award-winning book, Three Minute Therapy, Dr. Edelstein brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to bear on the subject of GMOs.

Taking the other side in this debate, speaking in opposition to GMOs, will be Frank Plughoff, San Francisco Area Leader for the California Right to Know campaign.  He has done a tremendous amount of research and has thorough documentation, fully able to more than defend his position.  Mr. Plughoff is an excellent presenter and gives a powerful presentation with information claimed to be irrefutable.  Joining him in opposition to GMOs will be your correspondent, David F. Koot, JD.

Anticipate a true clash of titans on a topic of global interest, yet conducted in a courteous and respectful manner.  You may hear arguments for both sides which are unique and thought-provoking.  But one thing is for sure.  You WILL hear both sides, presented with graduate-level knowledge and consummate skill.  The debate will be videotaped for broadcast on public TV stations.

But first, enjoy a full-course vegan dinner, designed and house-made by an accomplished Nutrition Consultant, Patricia Allen Koot, NC.  The dinner will focus on nutritional excellence, totally vegan, totally health-supporting, made without eggs, dairy, honey, oil or added sugars.  The dinner is all you can eat, as long as the food lasts.  Bring a container and take some home for you.

It happens this Wed. nite, Aug. 22 at 6 pm, at the Opera Plaza Community Room, 601 Van Ness, San Francisco.  Take the elevator to the first floor, then security will key you down to the mezzanine for the event.

A fifteen dollar requested donation covers both the all you can eat dinner and the debate.  This is possible because both the Nutrition Consultant and the panel of debaters are donating their time for the benefit of the community.  Funds received go toward facility rental, food, transport and other costs.

RSVP to 888-234-1361 or email to:


6.  Nov 6 VOTE to LABEL GMOs! GMO Interview with Jeffrey Smith ::: Prepare for the November 6th Vote on Prop 37 in California

Hi there, Please make sure you are prepared to teach people why we need to support California Prop 37, the mandatory labelling of GMOs.
Please watch this video to educate yourself about just how and why GMOs are harmful to the environment, to farmers, to animals, to babies, and to you! In just a few minutes Jeffrey Smith, acclaimed author of 'Seeds of Deception,' will describe to you why we need to remove GMOs from our diet and from the planet. Also, please make sure you support the vote for Prop 37 on November 6th, 2012 in California, the vote to demand mandatory GMO labeling on all foods!
Note: In all other states (20 states so far) where this law was proposed Monsanto was able to reverse it because Monsanto literally rules/owns the key government positions/offices relative to this issue. However, California is different. Prop 37 is a grassroots initiative created by the people (A Grandmom in Marin started it). Hence, in California, Monsanto must stop the people to stop the vote. Monsanto may have control over the government, but they don't have control over us now do they. So please rise up and stop them. The Government can't stop Monsanto but the People Can! If we get this law passed it will deal a serious blow to Monsanto. 
By the way, a big reason why I am so vehemently opposed to Monsanto is that I have a massive amount of first hand eyewitness experience of the carnage they wreak in India, where every 30 minutes another farmer commits suicide by drinking roundup. Often it is hard to control my outrage against these diabolical Monsters. Someday I hope they all experience the fate of Icelandic bankers. Indeed, may Monsanto's Execs come face to face with Polly Higgins in the The Hague's ICJ!   Thanks    Prashanti

SLR is gearing up to launch a very exciting campaign to support the campaign to Label GMOs in California - Yes to Prop 37. We are looking for volunteers in the Bay Area who can join our efforts. Everything from marches, to public art projects, teach-ins, BBQs, pub-crawls and more!! Please email to get involved!!!

ODWALLA Cascadian Farms. R.W. Knudsen. Horizon. Pepsi Coke Smuckers Kellogs. That’s just the short list of brands owned by companies willing to spend thousands of dollars to keep you from knowing what’s in your food.

Say it Isn't So: Organic Brands Backing the Campaign to Defeat GMO Labeling The next time you take a swig of Odwalla's Organic Carrot Juice, or munch on a bowl of Orville Redenbacher's Organic popcorn, take note: A lot of popular organic and all-natural brands are made by companies that are spending  
"You might want to think twice about food shopping at Walmart before the next family barbecue. The store has admitted it will start selling genetically engineered sweet corn – the first such sweet corn to be widely available as a whole food on American supermarket shelves." Read more here: Nov. 10-11 Green Festival SF, CA Green Festival is back in San Francisco this Fall! Please volunteer with us once again.


7.  Join us in San Jose on September 20
Five times a year we convene at Gathering on a particular topic and we serve a free lunch with plenty of networking time. If you’re in the South Bay, on the Peninsula, or over the hill in Santa Cruz, a trek up the 101 or 880 to Berkeley might deter you from attending. So on September 20, we are bringing our semi-monthly Gathering to you. Join us for:

Sustaining Our Communities with Local Food
A panel to discuss what is growing in the South Bay

The Bay Area is growing and the need to create sustainable and healthy communities is only increasing. How can we protect farmland, serve local food and provide food security? What role does farmland have in regional plans like the Sustainable Communities Strategy? And what are the opportunities for partnership and funding?

The September Gathering of the Bay Area Open Space Council will address these questions with a focus on Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties. In this part of the region, there are many efforts already underway to support local farms and connect people of all kinds to where their food comes from. Speakers include:
    •    Kathryn Lyddan, Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust
    •    Andrea Mackenzie, Santa Clara County Open Space Authority
    •    Melissa Hippard, Greenbelt Alliance
    •    Kellyx Nelson, San Mateo Resources Conservation District
Join us as we head to the San Pedro Square Market in downtown San Jose for a conversation about sustainable agriculture and the people making it happen. The program will be held from 10am-12pm. Lunch will be served immediately following and there will be lots of time for networking.

Click here to register.


8.  Announcing publication of an exciting new book called “Bay Area Birds” by David Lukas.

This is the first comprehensive guide to the life history, status, and distribution of all the birds that occur in the Bay Area.
·        Covers 320 species that occur in the Bay Area, including migrants and seabirds

·        Provides full-length accounts for 221 definitive species

·        Offers geographic coverage from Sonoma County to Monterey Bay

This is the ultimate reference for anyone who loves learning about local birds
·        Compact and easy to carry in the field

·        Full of essential information that complements any of the illustrated field guides

·        Jam-packed with details not found in other guidebooks

Additional details and information on ordering this book can be found at <> , or from David Lukas,


9.  Golden Gate Audubon Society

Leora Feeney, a longtime champion of the endangered California Least Terns and other wildlife at Alameda Point, is a finalist for a KTVU conservation hero award.

Your online vote can help Leora win -- which means a win for the terns and Alameda wildlife.

This is not your usual Action Alert -- we're not asking you to write politicians, speak at City Hall, or boycott companies that are damaging the environment.

Instead, we're asking you to honor a deserving local conservation heroine - and along the way, help us win $10,000 to support her work.

Leora Feeney has been advocating and educating on behalf of the endangered California Least Tern colony at Alameda Point for almost 30 years.

Together with Friends of the Alameda Wildlife Refuge, Leora has helped establish the former naval airstrip as the most productive breeding colony of Least Terns on the West Coast. Thanks to her leadership and FAWR's hard work, we are very close to winning designation of the site as a permanent wildlife refuge.

Now KTVU television has chosen Leora as one of three Bay Area finalists in their Cox Conserves Heroes contest!!!

KTVU and its parent company, Cox Enterprises, will donate $10,000 to the nonprofit group chosen by the contest winner. If Leora wins, the money will go to Golden Gate Audubon/FAWR -- for continuing the fight to protect the Least Terns and other wildlife at Alameda Point.

The final winner will be chosen through online voting... that's where we need your help.

Click here now to visit the contest site and vote for Leora!  This will only take about 20 seconds of your time.

In this age, when a meager utilitarianism seems ready to absorb every feeling and sentiment, and what is sometimes called improvement in its march makes us fear that the bright and tender flowers of the imagination shall all be crushed beneath its iron tramp, it would be well to cultivate the oasis that yet remains to us, and thus preserve the germs of a future and a purer system.   
    Thomas Cole, from "Essay on American Scenery"

Restore Hetch Hetchy - You've Got People Talking!

"The way San Francisco takes advantage of its bountiful water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir would make John Muir weep."
--Los Angeles Times editorial, 2/15/12

"The issue is not only how San Francisco uses its water but whether there's any rationale, a century later, for the dam and the deal."
--New York Times editorial, 2/16/2012

"It's time to move into the 21st century."
--Sacramento Bee editorial, 1/26/12

"It seems ironic to me that San Francisco could lead the charge in so many ways -- whether it's ecological and sustainable food in their daily lives -- but every time they flush their toilets, they're despoiling a national park."
--Dave Mihalic, superintendent of Yosemite National Park from 1999 to 2003, quoted in the San Francisco Examiner, 6/25/12

"Few things are more hypocritical than San Francisco's cavalier attitude toward water. It's 2012, and yet the ostensibly progressive city has no water-recycling program."
--East Bay Express, 3/5/12

 Check out this interview of Restore Hetch Hetchy's Mike Marshall on CBS San Francisco.


11.  Language potpourri

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
monologue: 1. A long speech by someone, especially when interfering with conversation. 2. The habit of monologizing.
The word monology reminded me of a teacher I had in high school who, when someone started talking out of turn in class would say, "Excuse me for interrupting the beginning of your sentence with the middle of mine."


A.Word.A.Day - cui bono

(KWEE BOH-noh)
noun: To whose benefit?
From Latin, literally, to whose advantage? Earliest documented use: 1604.
Cui bono is the idea that the responsibility for an act can usually be determined by asking who stands to gain as a result of the act. It's first recorded in a speech by Cicero attributing it to the Roman consul Lucius Cassius. If he were speaking today he would say: Follow the money.
"Cui bono? Surprise, surprise, it's the banks."
Carol Hunt; Debt Would Be a Release Next to This Travesty; Irish Independent (Dublin, Ireland); Jan 29, 2012.
A Naughty Language

Because of words that may run afoul of email nanny filters, this story is not included in the email version of this AWADmail. Read it on the web.


LTE, Astronomy
The September 2012 issue of Astronomy contained two typos:

page 23 col 3, top:  "were just one part in 100,000 times more dense then their surroundings. 
page 23 col 3, near bottom:  "...heavy elements made in the heart of these massive stars got disbursed into the surrounding medium"

Jake Sigg
San Francisco CA

On Aug 6, 2012, at 8:10 AM, Liz Kruesi wrote:
Dear Mr. Sigg,
Thank you for sending in your letter to Astronomy magazine. The first reference (then vs than) is clearly a typo. Thank you for pointing this out. "Disbursed" is also a secondary synonym for "distributed," and thus we don't consider this an error. It also is in a quote from a scientist, and we can't help if that's the word the scientist used.
OK, perhaps I'll have to bow to that, and I know I can't stop language from changing.  My online dictionary doesn't recognize this meaning for the word, however.

But I grumble along the way to changing.  Since bourse ('leather', hence our purse) has always referred to money (eg, the Paris stock exchange, Bourse), I strongly resist this change of language.  In fact, it's the first time I have heard it used interchangeably with disperse.  That, evidently, is yesterday.

And, of course, that was a quotation.  But had it been me, I would have said sic.

LTE, The Economist
Singular sympathy

SIR – Much as I sympathise with Ken Fradin (Letters, August 4th), he is on a hiding to nothing in his opposition to the words “data” and “media” being treated in the singular. The Oxford dictionary has already accepted these as being mass or collective nouns that can be either singular or plural. In fact, nobody much thinks of data individually, but as an assembly thereof. Similarly, media is now understood to be the means of mass communication or journalism.

In any event there is no point in complaining to The Economist as it has been some years since you made clear in your style book that referenda were from then on to be called referendums, for which I have less sympathy.

Martin Stead
Grasse, France

(I say hooray for approving data, media, and referendums.  A language grouch like me invests a lot of time into protecting language clarity, and when I see affect when effect is intended I get upset, as they mean different things.  Data and media in place of datum and medium - who cares?  I have read lots of articles written by PhDs, and they never fail to use the proper verb with data; they would rather be dead than be caught out on that one.  However, they do--fortunately rarely--sometimes use affect instead of effect.  Go figure.  JS) 

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