Monthly Archives: April 2008

Pride of Madeira: Bay Area Beauty

Photo By Madeira Walking, hosted by Flickr

Northern California nurtures a wealth of blue and purple blossoms (a phenomena that has led me in fruitless queries for some geographical or meteorological explanation), but my favorite is the Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans).

A migrant from the Portuguese island of Madeira off the coast of NW Africa, once a specimen establishes itself, the plant can withstand xeric (drought-like) conditions, blasting winds and sustained periods of rain. Most of the ones I see around the Bay Area grew naturally, though they make a superb addition to any sizable yard. If you live around here and haven’t paid much notice before you’ll see them all over the place. They are in bloom for another month but I believe they’ve already hit their peak for the year. Take time when checking out their massive bloom cone as also highly appreciated by hummingbirds and butterflies.

Photo by Kasey Kasey, posted on Flickr

Photo by Tigotigs, hosted on Flickr

Photo by

Photo credits: (all hosted by Flickr)
1. Madeira Walking
2. Kasey Kasey
3. Tigotigs
4. tzejen

California and Oregon Ban Salmon Fishing: Salmon So F*cked

The salmon population in the Pacific of the Wester U. S. is so decimated the Pacific Fishery Management Council has enacted a complete ban on all commercial and recreational chinook fishing.

This is not something that has happened before, ever. Since humans have lived in North America there have always been massive populations of chinook salmon. Now it’s in danger of collapsing altogether.

In September 1996 I was in Forks of Salmon at the confluence of the North and South branch of the Salmon River which dumps into the Klamath 100 miles south of the Oregon boarder. The 25 foot wide river was full of spawning and dying salmon. I just did some Googling and 2005 was the lowest salmon count to date (325 salmon came up the river vs. 6,000 the year I was last there) and in 2006 salmon fishing was halted in the entire Klamath system.

View Larger Map

There are only a handful of non-dammed rivers on the West Coast and the inland water ways, such as the Sacramento Delta is “a sewer.” Have you ever been to Los Baños off the I-5 near Fresno? It’s a dusty dry agri-business of seeming no redemption. I recently learned the San Joaquin River, the mighty river that roars out of the Souther Sierra supported huge salmon fishing operations all the down in Los Baños, now you wouldn’t even want to swim in the San Joaquin, it’s full of fertilizer/chemical runoff. Below is why the population of salmon on the San Joaquin is zero:

Today, the journey for that same fish is an impossibility. To reach its native spawning grounds, it must navigate a gauntlet of dams and reservoirs, pass by 11 power plants and circumvent 500 miles of canals. In two sections of the river that account for approximately 60 miles between Fresno and the San Joaquin River Delta, there is no water at all.

Here’s the state of the water quality as it approached Stockton, CA

A trip to Stockton, 40 miles east of San Francisco, reveals the seriousness of the San Joaquin’s “secondary” problems. The river here is a brew of fertilizer, algae, pesticides and sewage. In late October, the water is the color of chocolate milk.

It’s estimated it would take years years of major state works to clean up the river.

It should come as no surprise to any person that we have harvested fish like they were buffalo while we concurrently pollute, dilute and reduce their habitats. We all know we’re changing our world to benefit our lives in other ways. It’s just very important that we know the real cost/benefit equation and not delude ourselves to the real expense our existence is almost certainly costing the fragile little lifesource that is the planet earth.

Does It Say “Photoshop Me” on My Face?

If someone ever told me they have a photoshop face, I’d say “I know exactly what you mean!”

Somehow my face is frequently and inexplicably used, retouched, morphed, edited and re-represented for reasons beyond me. Recently a photo of me ended up being used along an article on how to become a police detective (it was CC). In 2006 there was the Fark photoshop contest.

Lately a Dogster member has gotten the bug.

Picture: Ted as Bob Ross
I used to really enjoy the calm confidence of Bob Ross and I’ll honestly cherish this one for life.

picture: Ted sharing a bone
Here I am scrapping with Dogster Sammi

I don’t even know what’s going on here

And this one, well, it’s some hate mail from a teenager in Arkansas whose email username was ultimatedramaqueen2000. Can’t make everyone happy, I guess ;|

Twitter is to Blogging what Telegrams were to Airmail

Scott Beale (via twitter of naturally), pointed me to a new cartoon by Hugh MacLeod that sums up the affect twitter has had on the method of message posting on the web since the year 2000.

Cartoon by GapingVoid

Blogging (née web logging) was a phenomena that took hold after the turn of this century where people would compose their thoughts (some less so than others) into essay-style statements. While short messaging was popular with some (see LJ) many people provoked themselves to really dig deep into something that had grabbed a hold of their thoughts lately. While true writers complained blogging robbed them of the fire to work on their bigger projects, blogging motivated many non-authors to draw their line in the sand and share their perspectives with others.

Twittering, or tweeting or micro-blogging took hold in 2007 and was a way of send text messages to many friends at once. It quickly moved from the phone to the web but maintained it’s limited character format. If you ever paid to send a telegram instead of writing a letter, it’s like that. You have to distill your important message down to as few as characters as possible. This has it’s benefits in that you’d don’t need to labor through four paragraphs to know that someone is, say, displeased with their elected leaders. Yet, the down side is its allows one to share with many the impression of their thoughts without having to fully compose and explain them. So now I may know, for example, that my friend is quitting his job, they haven’t shared what precipitated the big decision. So even though my friend’s important message made it over the transom, I’m still mostly in the dark.

The ease of messaging in this format, interestingly, is taking the personal blog with it. While professional blogs still abound, the number of people sharing paragraphs of thoughts is dropping as furiously as it started. It’s obvious to explain why. It will take me 20 minutes to write this, another 10 to edit and rework it, and another 5 to decide if it’s really worth it – and this will be a quick entry. Or I could twitter ‘He he: this cartoon is right‘ and have convey the same message.

But I’ve been missing my friends deeper thoughts. I’ve been living via 140 ascii character updates as if that sums up the wealth of their thoughts for that day (granted some people twitter each and every 140 character thought they have … which means I usually stop following them altogether.)

So without trying to squeeze my feelings into a single sentence I just wanted to share that I think people (and I’m talking about those people that once shared paragraphs of thoughts via blogs) are starting to sell themselves short. I wonder if people really think they are connecting with their friends when it’s more likely they are sending a smoke signal. I know people’s passions, as the cartoonist’s Gavin’s are, are much deeper than what you could share in a text message and I just wanted to say I’m missing it.

I still have all your blogs in my feed reader and if you ever want to tell me (as a web reading friend) why you’re looking for a new career or having children or going skiing or boycotting china or the best/worst hope for humankind, you know I’ll read it. I look forward to hearing more not less from you (well most of you, some of you I’m still looking for a bit more of a filter ;)