Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Legacy of John Muir

I've intended for quite awhile now to do a feature on John Muir. I'm actually amazed at myself for not having showcased him sooner.

I guess I had to work my up to it...so here he is, in his unshaven glory!

For those of you who don't know, John Muir (1838-1914) is universally considered to be the Godfather of the modern environmental movement in the United States, and his legacy has transcended international boundaries.

An avid conservationist his whole life, it was Muir's vision that was instrumental in shaping protection for pristine areas up to this day. Having attempted to approach several government officials and Presidents on the matter of conservation in the late 19th Century --- with a focus on the Yosemite Valley --- he finally got the attention of a young and gregarious president, Teddy Rooseve
lt, who had been an avid outdoorsman his entire life. The events that followed gave birth to the expansion of the National Park system as we know it today.

Muir also founded the Sierra Club, which has grown into perhaps the most politically influential environmnetal advocacy group in the country.

Muir led a fascinating life. He once walked 1,000 miles from Indiana to Florida. He would have walked all the way to South America from the United States, had he not contracted malaria. The illness required him to recover in San Francisco in 1868...an interesting turn of fate, as historical events reveal.

When he was in California, he sought out a site in the mountains he had heard about known as "Yosemite." Upon his visit to the place, he commented: "No temple made with hands can compare to Yosemite."

His study and fascination with the Yosemite Valley (more like an OBsession, but in a good way) continued over the next few years, and as a
practicing geologist he was the first to conclude that glacial action shaped the valley, which flew in the face of prior theories that it had been formed by a cataclysmic earthquake. The scientific community rallied around his theories, which were validated over time. Muir also studied the Sequoias near Yosemite and put their majesty in the national spotlight.

In the late 1880s, Muir's push for Yosemite as a National Park began in earnest. Following the example of Yellowstone National Park (the first national park in history) Muir believed that federal control of the site was necessary to ensure its preservation and elimination of exploitation. While Congress responded to Muir's pleas for preservation, 1890 legislation saw it fall under State control, which was encouraging but only a partial victory.

Muir's efforts to establish Yosemite as a National Park culminated in 1903, when he visited the site with an outdoorsy, independent-minded President, Theodore Roosevelt. Muir joined Roosevelt in Oakland to travel by train and stagecoach to the site. While traveling to the park, Muir told the President about state mismanagement of the valley and rampant exploitation of the valley's resources. Even before they entered the park, he was able to convince Roosevelt that the best way to protect the valley was through Federal control and management.

After entering the park and seeing the magnificent splendor of the valley, the President asked Muir to show him the "real Yosemite." Muir and Roosevelt set off largely by themselves and camped in the back country. While circling around a fire, the duo talked late into the night, slept in the brisk open air of Glacier Point and were dusted by a fresh snowfall in the morning. The experience made a lasting impression on the president, to say the least.

Years of long and exhausting efforts on the part of Muir paid off in 1905...through pressure from the Sierra Club and with enthusiastic support from President Roosevelt (who also had a high approval rating at the time, and thus the voice of the people), Congress transferred Yosemite into a National Park in that year to safeguard it forever.

I've only just begun to touch on the enourmous shockwave Muir has laid on the land of this country, and the generations he's inspired. After all, where would we be today without his vision and persistence?

Here's links to his published materials through Google books...they might also be available at Amazon:
More about John Muir online:
There's lots to be learned about, and from, this fascinating and influential figure in American history...he's more than likely solely responsible for this blog existing in the first place.

Face the Hole

Okay...I'm not much of a TV person, but this program looks pretty funny. Unfortunately it looks like a British program and not something syndicated in the States.

It's probably good two or three times, and then turns into more of a novelty item than anything else...is anyone out there familiar with this program?

San Francisco garage goes completely green

Check out this article from CNN about a garage in San Francisco that's modifying hybrid vehicles to allow them to run completely on electricity.

This is yet another example of a growing plug-in movement in the country.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Get on board with a local organic farm

If you want to further your attempt at being carbon negative, another way is through your eating habits.

In the last year I have tried out participation in programs with local organic farms...it's the way George Washington and John Adams ate...it's the real deal!

While it started a bit trial and error and as a learning experience, it has ended up being very rewarding. I'm still doing it, and have been since February...so that alone should say something.

Just so you don't have to go through some of the issues I went through, allow me to impart some advice to you when you're considering one:

  • Depending on where you live, you should have several to choose from in your area. While the idea of doing a little up front homework online might make you scratch your head, finding out your options in what is available to you will certainly pay off.
  • A farm that knows what they're doing should have a website that's easy to navigate.
  • You should be able to determine if they're certified organic...and if they're not, they might explain why on their website...most that aren't will claim that the certification costs money, but I don't know the validity of that. If they don't explain why they're certified organic, then ask. If it seems hokey from there, then move on. FYI - The better organic farm I've gone with in the last year was certified AND more affordable.
  • You shouldn't have to pay more than $30 a week for a produce box. I currently pay $28 per week...that's $4 per day. That might seem like lots of money for veggies, but remember that you're getting the FRESHEST POSSIBLE stuff that you can't find in most grocery stores...and you're supporting a local organic farm, so there's something to be said about pride in purpose.
  • When you pick up your veggies, it's already put together for you, and you'd be surprised at how much you get in a box...I can assure you it's more than enough to keep a household of two fed for a week, and we can't always finish everything!
  • When given the option, get on board with a several week or seasonal program, which should usually offer a discount. It's all about long-term savings, and you worry less about when you pay.
  • A farm that cares about its clients should allow you to modify options on your produce week to week.
  • A good and reliable farm should have drop-off locations near your neighborhood.
  • I'd suggest going with a weekly pickup, rather than bi-weekly, as some farms allow. It will provide you with fresher produce, and you won't ever wonder: "Is THIS the week I pick up my box?"
  • Mark your pickup days, and when your program expires, on a calendar...as it then becomes a "happy errand" that's part of your weekly routine.
  • Be courteous to your pickup spot and follow the etiquette; if you can't show up during the prescribed pickup times then alert them as such...don't be noisy...and return your boxes disassembled (per requests), for example. Just use common courtesy and common sense.
  • Offering to be a pickup spot might sport you some free produce...but I'd try out the program first.
  • Don't be taken aback if the produce has dirt on it. You need to wash the stuff no matter what...remember this is organic stuff!
  • Don't expect the produce to look "pretty." For example, apples won't be shiny because they won't have the gross waxy stuff on their skin...remember this is the REAL DEAL!
  • Eat fruit quickly...it can go bad fast...but remember you're getting more the following week!
I can assure you, that through my own experience going with an organic farm totally rocks. It saves time perusing around the grocery store, and you're ensured of the FRESHEST PRODUCE POSSIBLE.

To further educate yourself, you may read up on
organic farming. It's worth a try, and you might be surprised at the benefits! S

Monday, September 22, 2008

Random thoughts...about "toilet seat perusing"

So let's say you're in the market for a new toilet seat, and you're diligent and want to do your homework...so you go to a place like Home Depot to look at the selection.

How are you REALLY expected to "try them out" so you know which one to get?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

An old friend pops up...sailing around the world!

Today I received an email response (to an email I actually sent erroneously) from an old buddy from my days in Tempe, Arizona. It turns out he's in the middle of a sailing expedition around the world.

Hey, why not.

Here's his blog chronicling his sailing adventures; I guess you'd call it the official Captain's Log:
~ The Blue Water Log Of The Yacht Barraveigh ~

All aboard! Sorry, that's a train...what do ship captains say? Ahoy matey! Anyway, it was good to hear from Whitey, who appears to be going by Cap'n Bobby as the, um, captain.

As buddies we've been out of touch for years, but we go way back...let's just say we were hanging out before Cobain pulled the trigger...which was also before everyone kept in touch online.

He was good to me. He let me crash at his place repeatedly when I'd had too many. We had many interesting conversations, including a philosophical discussion about "what constitutes a speciesist?" in which we decided that we "favored mammals" over all other species. He helped me problem solve when I ran into college-related financial crises. One of the good guys.

I also recall that he let me store my belongings at his place over the summer (piled up in the entryway room, mind you) for virtually nothing, except for the price of one of my good kitchen knives...hey, maybe it's on the boat with him!

I can't imagine the numerous friends I would have had the luxury of keeping in touch with using the net. Keeping in contact with Whitey was one of those casualties. It's good to be back in touch!

As I thought about it, I recall Whitey mentioning that he always had a dream to sail around the world...it's a fluttering memory, but it's familiar. At any rate, it's what he's been doing over the last 3 years...read all about it at
~ The Blue Water Log of the Yacht Barraveigh ~...and you'll get more out of it if you start at the beginning and work your way forward.

Here's an excerpt from one of his posts on April 27, 2006:

"Whenever I pull into a new anchorage I have a little procedure. Once the anchor is down, and I'm sure I'm not dragging, then I shut off the engine, put on The Police's De Doo Doo Doo, De Daa Daa Daa on the outside speakers and then I do a naked back flip off the stern rail. That's my thing. Mine. Don't copy it. This time there was a human watching from the pier. I couldn't tell if it was male or female. Pretty far away. I did hear them call their friends over though. This island was a prison colony. Not much for entertainment and they must have been hoping for an encore. One's all ya get."

Here's one more excerpt from May of 2006:

"My first stop was Paquera where I met my taxi driver Lecho and his family to take them sailing (remember the previous 12 hour trip to Tamarindo to pick up the outboard and his kids and I scooped melons off the road?). Only thing that was strange about this sail outing is that it was a different family. Different wife, different kid. When they went to the head I asked him what was up. 'Shh, I have 3 families.' I guess a taxi driver can pull that off."

So there it is...one of the more interesting blogs I've run into recently.

So since Whitey set sail in December 2005, it would seem to me that he's missed quite a bit back here in the States...heck, I still hear trickles from things I missed after 3 weeks in Peru last month. Something is recalled in the news or something, and you think: "Oh, we must have been in Peru during that."

Anyway, here are some thoughts about what he's missed, most of which he's probably better off:
  • McDonald's ushering in the healthy menu in the fast food industry (merely in response to the documentary Super Size Me)
  • The new Batman movie...sorry Whitey, it was really good
  • Carbon Footprint Obsession Disease
  • The new Radiohead CD In Rainbows, and the following tour in which they kept track of their carbon footprint.
  • The new Rush CD Snakes & Arrows, and their world tour that followed...I KNOW he's bummed about that
  • My obsession with Neil Young
  • The deaths of Tim Russert, Bernie Mac, Syd Barrett and Rick Wright
  • The rise of Barack Obama, the primary drama that ended in the defeat of the Clintons, and the surprise of Sarah Palin
  • McCain explaining how he knows how to use "THE Google"
  • Crocs (and Croc beads)
  • Computer hard drive size expanding into terabytes
  • The first AND second issues of the iPhone
  • Wide use of wiki technology (depends on his online access and usage)
  • Gene Simmons Family Jewels
  • Seedless watermelons? Maybe not.
...but what would YOU rather be doing with your apathetic life? That's the REAL question. S

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

GM charges up the Chevy Volt

Okay, this looks reassuring...it looks like we're about to turn the corner, hopefully, toward an electric car revolution.

Read up on the GM Chevy Volt for the details. Apparently there's some sort of buzz with folks on the waiting list mentioning that they're disappointed that it doesn't look "futuristic enough."

Whatever, peeps, chill out! The design looks fine with me...but I'm not exactly what you'd call a car junkie. If it in fact gets the 2 cents per gallon that GM's advertising, that works for me.

As I say to car dealers and essentially anyone's ear I get for a second or two on this issue: "Wake me up when you get a plug-in."

The only question about this that remains unanswered is the price tag...I'm guessing it will be painfully out of reach to the average driver and most American consumers.

Hey, cool dashboard!

Like most new products, it will probably take some time for consumer confidence to rise. We might need to wait out a few issues of these new vehicles before they're affordable anyway.

Still, the news is reassuring that we're ACTUALLY heading in the right direction. S

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Zornskin Watch

This is your one-stop-shop for His Zorness!

There's lots of goodies here, but definitely SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST for a MUST SEE movie of Zorn during his years as the Seahawks QB...you gotta love a lefty with a Dutch Boy haircut throwing the pigskin.

You even get commentary from Snoop Dog and can evaluate Zorn's singing abilities in a milk commercial!

Have a zany, Zorny day!

Latest headline from 10/05: Timing Turns Out Perfectly for Zorn, Randle El
Past headlines, in reverse chrono:
Seahawks Ring of Honor inductee, #10 Jim Zorn, is in his first season as a head coach in the NFL with the Washington Redskins.

He's a childhood hero admired by a bunch of us who grew up together in Seattle in the late 70s, when he was the Hawks QB...and threw passes to FG kicker Effren Herrera in trick plays such as the one in 1979 against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football...and then a few years later in another pass he overthrew the receiver and it went through the uprights...and then to everyone's horror he conducted -- with blissful and clueless passion -- the Seattle Symphony.

How can you not like a guy like that? We absolutely love this guy. We even attempted just over 10 years ago, in the infancy of the internet, to form a movement to have his #10 retired by the Seahawks. Who knows, if he comes back to Seattle to be a head coach, that might tip the scales and warrant a new review of that possibility.

For now, however, the first head coach stop is in the "other" Washington. We wish him luck!

I'll keep this post up-to-date with the latest on how he's doing there...
and I'll try to update this post weekly with the results from each game as the season progresses. I might even throw in a little Zorn trivia.

Look for the link in the margin to reach this post. You gotta love a lefty QB who's name begins with a "Z." S

The ZornSkin Watch for 2008

09/04 -- Giants 16, ZornSkins 7 - L
09/14 -- ZornSkins 29, Saints 24 - W
09/21 -- Cardinals 17 at ZornSkins 24 - W
09/28 -- ZornSkins 26 at Cowboys 24 - W
10/05 -- ZornSkins 23 at Eagles 17 - W
10/12 -- Rams at ZornSkins
10/19 -- Browns at ZornSkins
10/26 -- ZornSkins at Lions
11/03 -- Steelers at ZornSkins
11/16 -- Cowboys at ZornSkins
11/23 -- ZornSkins at Seahawks (Zorn's Seattle homecoming!!!)
11/30 -- Giants at ZornSkins
12/07 -- ZornSkins at Ravens
12/14 -- ZornSkins at Bengals
12/21 -- Eagles at ZornSkins
12/28 -- ZornSkins at 49ers




New York Giants. . . . . . . . 4-0
Washington ZornSkins. . . . 4-1
Dallas Cowboys. . . . . . . . . 4-1
Philadelphia Eagles. . . . . . 2-3

See #10 Zorn here in all his glory during the fledgling days of the Seahawks! I like how they also ranked the Zorn to Largent passing combo ALSO as #10 of all-time...this is classic stuff!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Guayaki proves "carbon negative" can flourish with industries

You might recall my post some time back about being carbon negative, in which it received some interesting responses.

it's a concept that's been on my mind for quite some time, however it's been challenging to find the time and the method by which to approach it, as it involves literally EVERYTHING we d
o in all sectors of our existence and living.

So when I put that post out there; while thoughts shared on the subject from other bloggers and environmentalists were encouraging, they were probably skeptic, at best.

Even the main theme of the post, from my end, involved questioning whether or not it was possible. I believed that is was, and have maintained that position...however, as a geography major with a background in urban and environmental planning, my knowledge of how carbon negative works on a nuts and bolts level is minimal, if nonexistent.

I simply don't have enough of a science background to prove anything works (or doesn't work)...I can only go after the theory with what I know.

...but wait! Ah ha!!!

I now have some REAL INFORMATION to support the theory that carbon negative can work...and it directly involves a company and their process of manufacturing.

The company is called Guayaki, and they make herbal beverages. I chatted with a couple of reps for this company last night at Seattle's September Green Drinks event.
As I read a flier from them, I noticed the equation of their carbon output in their manufacturing process (below).
Correct me if my math is wrong, but I'm seeing a carbon negative result in that process.

My conversation with a rep named Hailey brought up another variation on this theme. She mentioned that we can't think on a level of just neutralizing our carbon footprint. We need to go beyond that and think along the lines of "rehabilitating," as she put it in perfect form.

What she's talking about involves turning the corner in our own minds and how we live our lives...a sort of "paying it forward" approach.

Meaning, in other words, not just "trying" to go CARBON NEGATIVE, but fully embracing it.

I tasted the beverages that they offer, and I have to say they're really tasty with a smooth flavor. Think of it as a step up from the Arizona Tea line that you see on the shelves in grocery stores...this stuff is also available in those same stores too.

I'm very encouraged by this. This company is worth a deeper analysis to see how others can follow their example. S

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Innovation on the high seas

Noodling around the web today, I bumped into this article...it expands on my post some time back regarding solar powered watercraft.

ENN: Solar Powered System Helps Reduce Ship's Emissions - Innovation on the High Seas

Encouraging stuff...at least someone out there has the foresight to develop this! S