Off To Whale Fesitval

March 21, 2009

We are heading out to Fort Bragg to check out the Fort Bragg Whale Festival. Will give an update upon our return.

Addendum: We got back at about 3:30 today, (March 22).  The Whale Festival was okay but the weather put a damper on things.  We attended the Clam Chowder tasting which had a wide variety of excellend soups!  We saw a few spouts but that’s about it.  Hannah and her freinds from abroad are going out on a whale watching boat on Tuesday, so I am wishing them luck.  Be sure to tune into the Bird and Wolf show on Tuesday night at 7:00 PM for a show dedicated to the whale.

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Happy Spring and Happy Nowruz

March 20, 2009

On this vernal equinox the President of the United States sent out a message to the Iranian people. He began his message by stating:

Today I want to extend my very best wishes to all who are celebrating Nowruz around the world.

This holiday is both an ancient ritual and a moment of renewal, and I hope that you enjoy this special time of year with friends and family.


I did not know about the holiday of Nowruz, so naturally I looked it up on wikipedia. The begining of the entry states:

Nowrūz (Persian: نوروز /noʊruz/ ↔ [noʊɾuːz]; with various local pronunciations and spellings, meaning ‘New Day’) is the traditional Iranian new year holiday celebrated by Iranian peoples, having its roots in Ancient Iran. Since the Achaemenid era the official year has begun with the New Day when the Sun leaves the zodiac of Pisces and enters the zodiacal sign of Aries, signifying the Spring Equinox. Apart from the Iranian cultural continent (Greater Iran), the celebration has spread in many other parts of the world, including parts of Central Asia, South Asia, Northwestern China, the Crimea, and some ethnic groups in Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo and the Republic of Macedonia.
Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in Iranian calendar. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, which usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. As well as being a Zoroastrian holiday and having significance amongst the Zoroastrian ancestors of modern Iranians. The moment the Sun crosses the equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and Persian families gather together to observe the rituals.

It is just unbelievably refreshing to have a leader who is educated and understands that our diversity is our strength and sees our common humanity binding us together. Spring is a time for new life and new beginnings, an exciting time filled with hope, ambivalence, and enjoyment. I would like to send out praise for all the Gods of Creation from the many ancient cultures around the world.

Steelhead Trout at Lake Mendocino

March 16, 2009

Last weekend we had the opportunity to check out the Lake Mendocino Steelhead Trout hatchery. They are currently catching the returning fish. Here are a couple videos Hannah filmed.

Shiva Worship

March 15, 2009

A Great Day in Ukiah

March 14, 2009

Yesterday, my wife, Hannah, my dear friend, Noah, and I had a beautiful day and it all took place right here in the Ukiah Valley. We began the day by going for a hike along the Valley View trail in the Cow Mountain area. The hike was about five miles and afforded spectacular views of the Ukiah Valley. We worked up a good appetite just in time for lunch at the 10,000 Bhudas vegetarian cafe; some of the best vegetarian Chinese food I’ve ever had. We then did a nice round of wine tasting at the Parducci Winery, one of the oldest wineries in the valley. We then went home and took a nice nap before going out to see the third film of the Ukiah International Wildlife Film Festival; “White Falcon, White Wolf.” It was beautifully shot footage of animal life on one of the most northernly islands of Canada. All in all, a fabulous day in Ukiah!

Sustainability Unravelled

March 10, 2009

A facebook friend just turned me on to this article in Scientific American, entitled, Top 10 Myths about Sustainability. It is a great piece in which the author demonstrates the incredible importance of the concept of sustainability and outlines the common misconceptions of the word. I found Myth 5 to be especially true:

Myth 5: Sustainability is too expensive.
If there is an 800-pound gorilla in the room of sustainability, this myth is it. That’s because, as Gabriel observes, “there’s a grain of truth to it.” But only a grain. “It’s only true in the short term in certain circumstances,” Cortese says, “but certainly not in the long term.” The truth lies in the fact that if you already have an unsustainable system in place—a factory or a transportation system, for example, or a furnace in your house, an incandescent lightbulb in your lamp or a Hummer in your driveway—you have to spend some money up front to switch to a more sustainable technology.

However, all the myths are well debunked in this article and it is well worth a read. The author ends by pointing to the complexity in determining whether an action is sustainable. He writes:

You cannot really declare any practice “sustainable” until you have done a complete life-cycle analysis of its environmental costs. Even then, technology and public policy keep evolving, and that evolution can lead to unforeseen and unintended consequences. The admirable goal of living sustainably requires plenty of thought on an ongoing basis.

I believe this ongoing thought is too often overlooked by those trying to live sustainable.

Obama Health Care Forum

March 8, 2009

I got a chance to watch some of the closing remarks of the White House Health Care Forum last Thursday. The forum was being broad casted live at whitehouse.gov. I found it quite interesting and enjoyed watching Obama in action. It seems he is approaching health care reform in the right manner by bringing all the parties together to get everyone’s view on what they believe to be the right course of action. It was great to be able to watch the discussion live. Obama’s use of the Internet continues to excite me. He understands the potential and capacity the Internet offers to include citizens in government and is using it wisely.

I am not sure if the Health Care Forum will make any difference in the long run to getting reform accomplished, but I am sure it can’t hurt. Slate sums up the forum by writing;

This time, it really is different. Few would argue that the health care system is better now than it was 16 years ago, the last time a Democratic administration convened a meeting about it. At this week’s meeting, Obama was careful to include several opponents of the Democrats from 1993. And as the president pointed out, the faltering economy makes health care reform more important, not less. This week’s inclusive discussion—150 people participated—won the president goodwill and shows that there is finally a consensus on the need for reform.

There is no talking cure. So the president listened to a bunch of people complain about the current system, and the White House put up yet another Web site to foster further “discussion.” It also put together a slick slide show. As soon as the meeting was over, though, the Republican critiques started rolling in, saying that a government plan could crowd out private insurers, while the complaint from the left was that the forum didn’t go far enough in advocating for a single-payer government plan. This summit may have made Obama look good, but it hardly advanced the cause of heath care reform.

I am not very happy with Slate’s tone on this. Here is the gov. health care reform website they are referring to; when they state “yet another website to foster ‘discussion'” it annoys me. I understand the complaint that the Obama administration is creating a website for every issue and continuing to to ask for citizen participation that they may have not intention of actually paying attention to. However, I doubt this complaint really holds merit and posting information up on the web can only help to education the population. I wish the Obama administration the best of luck in bringing health care to all Americans. The fact that an American goes bankrupt every 30 seconds from health care costs is shameful.
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Slums of Mumbai

February 27, 2009

090204_slumdogs8Since Slumdog Millionaire cleaned up at the Oscars I have been watching the media bring our attention to the real slums of Mumbai. This Photo Essay in Foreign Policy has some great photos of the slums and also is quite informative about the current state of some of the biggest slums in the world. The New Yorker also published an article prior to the Oscars in anticipation of “Slumdog’s” triumph. Some are using the movie’s success as a means to highlight the extreme inequalities that exist in India. I can see why this is a good time to do that, but it is also a time for India to be proud of being the subject of such a highly acclaimed film. Unfortunatly the New Yorker has archived the article and you need to sign-in to read it.

Will we ever see High-Speed Rail?

February 22, 2009

This nation is still in the stone-age when it comes to high speed rail. I find it pathetic that we call this a “developed” nation yet our rail system is light years behind other “developed” countries. Unfortunately it seems developed countries are defined by the strength of its’ military technology and the rate at which its’ citizens consume goods.20rail4_650

California voters passed proposition 1A last November which allocated $9 billion to start building a high speed rail corridor connecting the Bay Area to Los Angeles, with split-offs to Sacramento and San Diego. I was overjoyed to see this proposition pass. Now the question is, will it really become a reality and if it does when? The California High-Speed Rail Authority states:

Construction efforts are anticipated to begin by 2011. An implementation plan approved in August 2005 estimates that it would take eight to eleven years to “develop and begin operation of an initial segment of the California high-speed train.”

The NY Times ran this article on Feb. 19, 2009, discussing money allocated to high speed rail in the recently passed economic stimulus package. $8 billion for high speed rail was tacked on to the bill in the last hours. I am happy to see this but am also aware that it is not nearly enough to make the revolutionary changes our rail system needs. The article states:

High-speed rail has a long, tortured history in the United States, going back to 1965, when Congress passed the High-Speed Ground Transportation Act. Since then, it has been proposed by many governors and studied in countless plans, always holding out the promise of catching up with other countries.

Below is a map of the proposed high speed corridors
Well, even though the money is not enough, this is a start. I am glad to see that California already has an organization in place to start the project and it will be getting some more funding from the Feds. Can’t wait to jump on the train in SF and be in LA in two and half hours!
rail-map

Bald Eagles at Cache Creek

February 21, 2009

Hannah and I did a great day hike in the Cache Creek Natural Area yesterday. The hike leaves highway 20 just east of Clearlake Oaks. The trail leads up to the top of a ridge from which you have a great view of the Cache Creek gorge. We were not up on the ridge long before we saw a young bald eagle soar over our heads. We found a nice place to sit and saw about five more bald eagles soaring over the gorge. These eagles use Cache Creek as a resting ground on their migration between Alaska and Mexico. It was a beautiful day. Below is the only decent shot I got at one.
cache-creek-eagle