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.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Be humble for you are made of Earth. Be noble for you are made of stars. -Serbian proverb

1.   Wendell Berry: Every day you have less reason not to give yourself away
2.   The River Otter Ecology Project Nov 8
3.   San Francisco props B & F
4.   Volunteer for flyering about Beach Chalet Nov 10 & 11
5.   Wavecrest Restoration Workday in Half Moon Bay Nov 10
6.   Exhaustive family tree for birds shows recent, rapid diversification
7.   Feedback: How can a gallon of gasoline produce 20# of CO2?
8.   Save the date: A Conservation Vision: Water, Wildlife & Working Lands in Campbell Dec 5
9.   Top 10 reasons schools should not dissect frogs
10. Prop F Yosemite Restoration Campaign - lies refuted
11.  $3.00 for a grocery item?  There must be a mistake!
12.  Notes & Queries:  Which sign best epitomizes the times?


No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over a grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.

~ Wendell Berry ~

(Collected Poems)

for H.T.

San Francisco Naturalist Society meeting
Thursday, November 8, 7.30 to 9 pm
The River Otter Ecology Project, with Megan Isadore
Randall Museum

River otters are ambassadors for habitat preservation and restoration. They are charismatic carnivores that rely on healthy watersheds to thrive. The River Otter Ecology Project strives to build understanding of the ecology of the North American river otter throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

For more information, go to or contact Patrick Schlemmer at (415) 225-3830. Free and open to everyone.


3.  San Francisco propositions B and F

Propositions B and F have produced divisions among those who normally support such initiatives.  I have friends on both sides of both issues.

Those urging No on B aver that the Recreation and Park Dept did not deliver on its promises in the 2008 bond.  I don't understand this; everything that I was promised has been or is being done.  A more substantial argument is that a No vote will be interpreted as a powerful protest against the privatization of our park system.  This is a significant issue for me.  This privatization is being vigorously pursued by the City and is deeply troubling.

If I thought that defeat of B would bring an end to privatization I would vote No.  I see no reason to believe it would be interpreted that way.  Instead, RecPark would have $195 million less than it has now, creating more pressure to privatize.  Rather than getting the desired message, it is more likely RecPark will just go to the end of the line to wait for another bond issue, and it would be a long line to stand in. 

Proposition F

With tons of money and the full, unanimous power of the City's establishment urging a No vote, it is hard to see how the underfunded Yes campaign can inform enough people.  If it is defeated that will not be the end of it, only postpone.  Congress will not indefinitely tolerate one city storing its water in a national park and will some day assert itself.  However, it's likely it will have to wait another six years until Dianne Feinstein is no longer in the Senate.  See below for more information on Prop F.


4.  SF Ocean Edge

Volunteer now for flyering about the Beach Chalet project at the SF Green Festival, November 10th and 11!
This is a great event -- people interested in the environment come from all over the Bay Area.  Giving out flyers outside the hall is very easy.  And - this is the place to buy environmentally-conscious  Christmas presents and hear presentations by renowned speakers from around the world!

Contact Shawna to volunteer -  Let us know if you will join us!   
·       November 10th, 10:00 a.m.  (up to 3:00 p.m. more or less....) 
·       November 11th, 11:00 a.m.  (up to 3:00 p.m. more or less....)  
Location:  SF Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 8th Street at Brannan, look for us outside.

We will be outside -- bring water and dress in layers.   Join us for an hour or two, and then take a break and enjoy the festival.  Entry to the festival is free for Sierra Club members or people who bring canned food donations -- see the website for more information.


5.  Coastside Land Trust
Volunteers are needed for a long overdue restoration workday at Wavecrest. Please join us, neighbors and fellow bay area volunteers for a day of hard work and satisfying results.  We will combat invasive plants, cleanup debris and make sure our hiking trails are clear and safe.  We will provide gloves and some tools along with snacks and drinks.  Please come prepared with good sturdy shoes and layered clothing. Volunteers under the age of 18 will need a responsible adult with them. We will be covering 50 acres of conserved open space so there is plenty to do for all ages and abilities. We hope you can make it!

       Wavecrest Restoration Workday
       Saturday Nov 10, 10am-noon
       meet at the Smith Field parking lot at the end of Wavecrest Road in Half Moon Bay
       -check in will start at 9:45am

Please call for more info or any questions:  650.726.5056

6.  Exhaustive family tree for birds shows recent, rapid diversification

A Yale-led scientific team has produced the most comprehensive family tree for birds to date, connecting all living bird species — nearly 10,000 in total — and revealing surprising new details about their evolutionary history and its geographic context.
Analysis of the family tree shows when and where birds diversified — and that birds’ diversification rate has increased over the last 50 million years, challenging the conventional wisdom of biodiversity experts.


7.  Feedback

Thank you, readers, for coming through on the seeming conundrum:
“For every single gallon of gasoline burned, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide go into the atmosphere.  Carbon dioxide is considered a main culprit in global warming."

An Wi:
In re the carbon thing--gas is (mostly) C8H18, MW 114; when you burn it it binds with oxygen, which is much heavier, and becomes 8 CO2, MW325. Here's a pretty clear explanation:

Paul Castleman:
Jake,A quick google search yielded this.

It seems impossible that a gallon of gasoline, which weighs about 6.3 pounds, could produce 20 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned. However, most of the weight of the CO2 doesn't come from the gasoline itself, but the oxygen in the air.

When gasoline burns, the carbon and hydrogen separate. The hydrogen combines with oxygen to form water (H2O), and carbon combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO2).

A carbon atom has a weight of 12, and each oxygen atom has a weight of 16, giving each single molecule of CO2 an atomic weight of 44 (12 from carbon and 32 from oxygen).

Therefore, to calculate the amount of CO2 produced from a gallon of gasoline, the weight of the carbon in the gasoline is multiplied by 44/12 or 3.7.

Since gasoline is about 87% carbon and 13% hydrogen by weight, the carbon in a gallon of gasoline weighs 5.5 pounds (6.3 lbs. x .87).

We can then multiply the weight of the carbon (5.5 pounds) by 3.7, which equals 20 pounds of CO2!

Joe Cernac:
Hi Jake,
It's not elegant but the numbers approach.

Let's say that gasoline is an 8 carbon HC molecule.  With C weighing 12,  while H comes in at 1 the molecule weight is 8X12 = 72 plus (16+2)H = 72 + 18 = 90.
C is 72/90 = .8 of the molecule weight and also of the gallon weight or .8, or 8 lbs or 6.4 lbs of C.
C reacts with two atoms of O at weight 16 which gives 32.
CO2 is carbon dioxide.
Let's form a ratio:

12 (C)     6.4 lbs
32 (O)     17.1 lbs

17.1 lbs of O.  
CO2 weight is 6.4 + 17.1 = 23.5
So that every gallon of gasoline contributes 23.5 lb / 8 lb = 2.9 (unit less) a by product, CO2, a factor of 2.9 heavier.
Heavier chain gasoline would decrease that factor.  Gasoline is a mixture of 6 to 10 C HC atoms.

Keith McAllister:
"I was trying to think along more scientific lines, such as taking oxygen out of the atmosphere and combining it with the carbon, hydrogen, and other elements in the gasoline. I forgot to mention that oxygen is a much heavier element than hydrogen, and in CO2 there are two atoms of oxygen for every atom of carbon."

Your thinking is correct.  The atomic weights of carbon and oxygen are 12 and 16 respectively.  So the weight of a carbon dioxide molecule is 12 + 16 + 16 = 44. Thus burning a pound of carbon produces 44/12 = 3.67 pounds of carbon dioxide.

and, in a further email:
When your reader asked, “how does that pencil out?” he may have wanted a more complete answer than just the relative weights of carbon and carbon dioxide.  (Or not.)  In any case you might add to what I wrote earlier:
A gallon of gasoline contains 5.33739 pounds of carbon.  So when it burns, that carbon combines with oxygen from the atmosphere to produce 5.33739 x (44/12) = 19.57 pounds of carbon dioxide.
Not exactly “penciled.”  I used a calculator, of course.

Thank you, Keith, along with others who responded to this question.  No, Greg Suba wasn't looking for a more complete answer; he was just boggled by the seemingly nonsensical conclusion.  I initially questioned this Union of Concerned Scientists statement a couple of years ago, but no one responded at the time.  Repeating it paid off, and now we know. 

I feel proud of myself that I was able to guess where the answer lay (oxygen's weight), although I didn't do the math.


8.  Save the Date!
A Conservation Vision:  Water, Wildlife and Working Lands
Dec. 5, 2012  6:00 - 8:00 p.m.


Community Forum Location:
Campbell Community Center
Orchard City Banquet Hall
1 W. Campbell Ave # C-32
Campbell, CA 95008

9.  Top 10 Reasons Schools Should Not Dissect Frogs


10.  Proposition F - Yosemite Restoration Campaign

My supposition for some time is that Prop F will be defeated, because of all the powerful and moneyed interests.  (I have received about 15-20 No on F mailers, not to mention other ads/anti-endorsements.)  I expected much of this--after all, one telephone call by Willie Brown is enough to turn the floodgates of money on--but I had expected that some people, including friends, would have a broader vision than just San Francisco's supposed narrow interest.  This proposition has exposed the shallowness or hypocrisy of some environmental advocates - and San Francisco's. 

"It's only when the tide goes out that you can see who's swimming naked."    Warren Buffett

I grant that opponents have some good arguments - clean power, gravity-fed, &c.  I struggled with those arguments before becoming a proponent.  The more I thought the more it seemed there was only one thing to do.  The mere thought of having another Yosemite Valley is so compelling that I can't understand why there should be question.  Apparently our values have been corrupted even more than I thought.

Excerpt from attachment (which I will forward on request, JS):
The generation at Moccasin Power Plant is unlikely to change to any significant degree – though generation upstream at Kirkwood would be reduced.  You all might be interested in a comparison  of how electricity generation has changed and is changing to improve environmental performance – whether you agree with it all or not.

Please take a moment to watch this "revised" ad and then email it to 10 friends living in San Francisco AND post it on Facebook/Twitter. We may not have the resources to put this on television, but we do have the grassroots on our side.  

Video: (YRC)

No On F Exposed

Yet another mailer from our opponents that said if Prop F passed her water bill would increase from $372 to $2700 per year.

This is yet another blatant lie designed to scare people--in this case, a woman on a fixed income--into believing that we can't afford to fix Yosemite. Prop F will make no changes to the existing system and will not increase anyone's water rates. It simply requires the City to develop a plan to reform the water system--a plan that cannot be implemented without voter approval in a subsequent election.

The following is email from Jerry Cadagan to someone (name omitted) Nov 3.  You're coming into the middle of the conversation, but you'll get the gist:

Lots and lots of misinformation out there about this issue; some of it being quite innocent simply because it is a complex subject with 2 or 3 power generating facilities, 8 reservoirs plus "banking" rights in Don Pedro.  But some of it is just plain political lying by a team of professional campaign managers who have been instructed to defend the indefensible status quo at all costs.  For a wonderful example of the latter do see the opinion piece in today's SacBee written by one of the hired guns on the No on Prop F hit squad and do see the comment correcting some of PJ's BS below the piece by that erudite young fellow named Sam R ----

and while you're on the Bee's site read the counterpoint opinion piece by a former GM of the Metropolitan Water District.  In my view Mr. Boronkay was too modest in pointing out that in a similar situation LA did have the courage and foresight to make some small sacrifices in order to do right by one of the most special places on earth, Mono Lake.  It's no coincidence that all of Southern California is way ahead of Northern California in the most important aspect of water conservation --- recycling.

I suppose you are bothered by the $8 million price tag for doing the study called for by Prop F.  Were you similarly bothered when our friends at SFPUC spent $588,464 on the Lake Merced Watershed Report, which few people have read in its entirety and which is now being virtually ignored to the extent it made any substantive suggestions (e.g. that the Boathouse be torn down and rebuilt, not treated to a coat of lipstick).  That half million dollar document is best call the MOOO ---- Menu of Obvious Options.

And SFPUC continues to dither about water recycling while talking and talking and talking more about a $100 million plant on the westside.  Many on this distribution list saw Parick Sweetland and Daly City build a comparably sized plant in 2 years at a cost of $7 million.

SF, and SFPUC in particular, deserves no sympathy.


11.  Wha.....$3.00?

Today I experienced something new in the world.  My tag at the supermarket listed an item priced at $3.00.

$3.00?  That must be a strange typo for the usual fraudulent $2.99.  Is the world turning honest?

Huh uh.  Must be a new minimum-wage employee who had not yet been properly trained.

This is a huckster society, a business-run society.  Meaning its primary value is deceit.  The technical name for deceit is Marketing.  You try to get people to do things they don't want to do.    Noam Chomsky


12.  Notes & Queries, Guardian Weekly

Two fingers – not scotch

Which sign best epitomises the times?

Two fingers.
Philip Stigger, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

• The political advice you receive, when you disembark from the cross-channel ferry at Dover: Garder la gauche.
Dick Hedges, Nairobi, Kenya

• Surely the sign that says "Wrong Way – Go Back!" Despite years of accumulating evidence about global warming we continue to amuse ourselves with the latest technological fad while ignoring the fact that our children and grandchildren will inherit a difficult and probably dangerous climate while being deprived of many of the species that make the world so beautiful for us.
Margaret Wilkes, Perth, Western Australia

• No Exit.
Peter Vaughan, St Senoch, France

• Gemini. Sometimes we believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
Donna Samoyloff, Toronto, Canada

• $
Catherine Andreadis, Ottawa, Canada

• ?
Edward Black, Church Point, NSW, Australia

Keep your mouth closed

At what point does a politician lose integrity?

Unfortunately, given the nature of politics, at the moment that politician decided to become one.
Elizabeth Jones, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

• Integrity and self-promotion don't mix.
Lesley Boncich, Cupertino, California, US

• When they get into power.
Alan Williams-Key, Madrid, Spain

• At the precise moment that their lips start moving.
Malcolm Shuttleworth, Odenthal, Germany

• When they lie comfortably.
David Tucker, Halle, Germany

• When their sense of duty is overpowered by the scent of booty.
Jim Dewar, Gosford, NSW, Australia

No comments:

Post a Comment