Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

The Realities of California’s Drought In Santa Clara County

calero creek fish loss

We’ve all heard the stories and seen the photos on the news about just how bad the drought is in California and other states. But today, as I left my neighborhood of green lawns and gardens and drove out into the country I noticed new evidence that took my breath away. Along one of my favorite riding trails runs Calero creek, an area full of wildlife. Fish, crayfish, birds and of course raccoons, skunks, opossum and the occasional bobcat rely on the daily releases from the reservoir to keep the creek flowing. So do the farmers and homes who use wells and creeks for watering their livestock.

As of yesterday the creek is no longer flowing. The banks are dry, and although there are some areas that still hold a small amount of water, those will dry up soon too.

In a 100 yard section of creek bed I saw scores of fish dead or dying. The remaining pools of water are getting smaller and the wildlife trapped in them will die as well.

Unless we get significant rain, there will be few or no releases of water from the reservoir in the near future and the death toll in the creek is heartbreaking.

According to a resource at the Santa Clara Water District offices, all of the reservoirs that use imported water (pumped in from the California Aquaduct for example) are significantly reducing or completely stopping outflow to the creeks. This includes Calero, and Almaden reservoirs.

According to the water district staff person I spoke with, the California department of fish and wildlife (CDFW) is working with the Water District and tough calls have to be made.

The CDFW has closed several streams to fishing until they determine water flows are adequate. You can find a partial list here. Other streams deemed not as important because there aren’t steelhead present, are simply being “turned off”.

What can you do?
It’s time to take our heads out of the sand folks. Take a look at this photo of what is left of the wildlife in Calero creek and ask yourself if you really need to keep your grass green or take a 15 minute shower. Start thinking about how you can conserve.

The  Santa Clara Valley Water District is asking for a 10% reduction in water use. To meet the reduction goal, the water district will double rebates paid to people who conserve water, promote water conservation laws in cities and use technology to convert the county’s wastewater into drinkable water within five years. But that’s in 5 years. We must conserve now.

Learn more about the California Water Action Plan, which will guide state efforts to enhance water supply reliability, restore damaged and destroyed ecosystems and improve the resilience of our infrastructure.

And while you’re at it. Pray for rain!

 

Remembering 9/11

Firefighter*

“None of us will ever forget this day…” – President Bush

That morning I happened to have the TV on. Seeing what was happening in New York I called out to my husband. Together we watched in horror as the second plane hit. The decision was made to take our daughter to school and go to work.

Air traffic had to land thousands of planes and departures were stopped nationwide. As taxi drivers we knew that the many people at San Jose Airport would need transportation back to their homes or to hotels. It was a very busy morning for us. When the sky was quiet and the airport empty we went home.

*In Chico Ca.- To honor the 9/11 firefighters this patriotic goose is wearing a hand crafted costume.
CHICO GOOSE

Bike Helmets SAVE LIVES

No one ever wants to get the call that a friend or family member has been in a cycling accident and “the paramedics are on the way”.  Trust me, I know from experience. Just about every cycling friend I know has been to the hospital this year.  Almost none of these accidents have involved cars.  Every single one has involved a helmet secured firmly to a head – which saved their lives.

Another life saved

It can be difficult to believe that a waffle-holed piece of Styrofoam can actually save a life, but it certainly does.  Less than 90 days ago a friend of mine crashed in a bike race, an extraordinary circumstance, but an accident which broke her neck, several ribs, and separated her shoulder.  It also cracked her helmet.  What was not cracked was her skull.  She was back to work in a couple weeks, though still sore and hating her neck brace – but she was alive.  Today another friend was coming out of a downhill turn on a solo ride when a cat ran in front of her.  She hit the cat and does not remember much else, but I have no words for how frightening it is to receive that phone call.  “The paramedics are on the way,” and “They don’t know which hospital they’re taking her to, because of the head trauma.”

My friend, the owner of the pictured helmet, was released from Regional Medical Center today after a four hour stay, with “only” a concussion, road rash on half her body, and bruised and swollen knuckles, thighs, and face.  But do you see her helmet?  Her skull would not have survived that.

Wear a helmet.  Make sure your kids wear a helmet.  Make sure your friends and loved ones wear a helmet, no matter what age.  It’s not just a law.  It’s common sense, and it will save your life.

Youth Bicycle Helmet law: Minors

Make sure you are alerted when a loved one is in an accident: Road ID

 

Politics is ugly

Politics can be so ugly, it would just about make you cry. In this video, found on San Jose Inside, both sides of the Measure V & W debate push the limits of stupidity.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iotM96vjEuw[/youtube]

Political consultant Tom Saggau, behind the camera, threatens Pierluigi Oliverio with arrest for removing signs from the public roadway. Petty theft is one thing (if Oliverio isn’t justified in removing signs from the public right of way, as provided for in city code), but false arrest is something else altogether. Probably not something Saggau really wants to try.

And Oliverio, even if he was technically justified in removing the signs, ought to have realized how petty it looks for an elected official to be seen trying to suppress his opponents political message. That’s just not smart, Pierluigi.

The only people who look good here are the SJPD. They kept the parties apart, and stopped this from developing into something uglier. They brokered a compromise that avoided either side being allowed to do anything any more stupid than they were already doing, and they got Saggau his signs back.

Pathetic displays of political blustering like we see in the video make me wish I could hide in a cave until November 3. But unfortunately this issue is too big and important to ignore. The City of San Jose has dug itself a big financial hole, and everybody has to join in to dig the city out. City employees have faced layoffs, and city residents will endure service cuts to help balance the budget. But police and fire unions have protected their members from contributing substantially to the solution to the city’s financial problems, and that’s just not right. Measures V & W give the city the ability to get help from all of its employees to fix its problems.

It would be fantastic if San Jose could afford to pay its police officers, firefighters, and all its other employees every penny they deserve and more. But that’s just not possible. Public safety is critical for the city’s future, but so are gang prevention, libraries, schools, parks, building inspectors, and all of the other functions that keep the city livable. If you agree, please come out of that cave, ignore the political stupidity, and join me in voting for Measures V and W.

Julian Street opens to two-way traffic

Julian Street near downtown San Jose has been converted to two-way traffic after decades as a high-speed one-way thoroughfare. Neighbors who’ve been working to make this change happen hope that calmer traffic on the street will contribute to a safer and more pleasant experience for people living on the street, and even encourage homeowners to live in their Julian Street houses rather than rent them out.

Neighborhood activists had been trying to make this happen for a long time, but what catalyzed it was the San Jose Strong Neighborhoods Initiative (SNI), begun 8 or 10 years ago to revitalize the city’s most neglected neighborhoods. When the Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC) for the 13th Street SNI area first met, they established a top-10 list of improvements that would bootstrap the neighborhood out of its cycle of neglect. Number one was to convert high-speed one-way streets to pedestrian-friendly two-way streets. Portions of Third and Fourth Streets have already been converted, and today’s opening marks more or less the half-way point in converting the Julian / Saint James “couplet” to neighborhood-friendly streets. After Saint James, only Tenth and Eleventh Streets remain to be converted.

The SNI and the 13th Street NAC are currently implementing deep cuts due to the financial crisis at City Hall. I’m hopeful that despite that, we will see a few more successes like this conversion on Julian Street over the next couple of years.

Score 1 against Team San Jose

Team San Jose logo

My comments on a recent post of Joann’s might lead you to believe that the marketing of Team San Jose’s recent website re-launch really set off my BS detector. And you’d be right. The main reason was, they sent me two or three emails to invite me to the gala grand launch party, without ever saying what they were launching. It sure looked like someone spending a big pile of money to hype the launch of something they themselves weren’t really sure was worth the excitement.

Now it looks like the smoke and mirrors at Team San Jose might not be confined to their website launch party. The Mercury News and the Silicon Valley Business Journal are both reporting that Team San Jose is in some financial hot water with the city. The organization appears to have gone over its budget by $750,000. They couldn’t have picked a worse year for it, with the city trying to scrape together every nickel it can find, and making cuts left and right.

A week ago, the city sent Team San Jose a sternly worded letter (linked from the Business Journal’s article), formally notifying them they’re in default of their contract with the city. Team San Jose’s books will be audited, and until the audit is completed, they’ll have to take extra steps to obtain payments from the city for their expenses. This week, downtown city councilman Sam Liccardo called for the audit to be expanded not only into the most recent $750,000 shortfall, but also losses between 2005 and 2009 amounting more than double the $9.8 million the city had agreed to subsidise, and liabilities the group may have taken on to promote certain other recent events like the Tech’s Genghis Khan exhibit.

Scott Herhold in the Mercury called the audit a “nuclear option”, in comparison to the slap on the wrist the organization might have gotten if city finances were stronger. For myself, I think it’s about the least that could have been done. The city is making too many cuts to vital services and staff pay and benefits to let anyone spend three quarters of a million dollars of its money without accountability.

DooF at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted (3 to 2) to ban the toys which are included in fast-food kid meals. I doubt that the measure, presented by Supervisor Ken Yeager, will keep children from becoming obese. There are many other reasons why a child might become overweight. Turning off a child’s want of fast food by denial will not solve the problem. Education is the solution for learning good eating habits, and that is where DooF can help.

DooF (F-o-o-d spelled backwards) is a program designed to help kids make healthful food choices. Kids learn by preparing some of their own meals and snacks while having fun. Parents take the responsibility for setting the food budget, buying ingredients, and supervising the younger chefs.

I attended two DooF-a-Palooza events held at Google in 2007 and 2008. Cooking stations were set up where kids could experience hands on food preparation. Oh, the joy on their faces – and without a toy!

DooF-on-Wheels will be at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market – Look for a Creme Brulee – colored bio-diesel Mercedes with DooF on the side. There will be kids and a film crew near by. A citrus grower, Didar Sing, will ask questions like, “Do citrus fruits really have superpowers?”

Berkeley Farmers’ Market
Center Street @ M. L. King, Jr. Way
(510) 548-3333
Saturday, May 1
10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
DooF-on-Wheels there Noon to 3:00 PM

DooF will be visiting other locations throughout the Bay Area.

DooF the Blog
DooF on facebook
FoodBackwards on twitter

Yuri’s Night – Support Space Exploration!

NASA Ames Research Center

Yuri’s Night is an international event (30 countries) which celebrates Yuri Gagarin and the April 1961 shuttle flight.

Did you know that the celebration is held to support space exploration? If President Obama’s decision to kill the NASA’s Constellation program (to the moon) and to turn future exploration over to commercial companies bothers you, please let Congress know.

Houston Congressman Peter Olson continues to be skeptical of Obama NASA space plan.

Get Tickets Now!

YouTube – The Black Keys

Type: Music/Arts – Performance
Date: Saturday, April 10, 2010
Time: 12:00pm – 11:55pm
Location: NASA Ames Research Center – Hangar 211
Street: Moffett Field – Severyns Ave & King Rd
City/Town: Mountain View, CA

Moffett Field – Hanger One & Zeppelins


Many years ago Moffett Field’s Hangar One was built for the USS Macon. Today the goal is to save Hangar One from demolition. Hope is with the Navy and NASA Ames to follow though with plans to bring Hangar One up to current safety standards.

The History of Moffett Field – a Free Lecture: sponsored by the Saratoga Historical Foundation.

“John Mascali will trace the 75 year history of Moffett Field beginning in 1930 to the present. The multi-media presentation is free to the public. Mascali, a director of Moffett Field’s Historical Society will recount stories of the construction of the historic Hanger One, the dirigible USS Macon, the squadrons and aircraft that have flown out of Moffett Field and some of the history of NASA Ames.

Hangar One, built during the Depression, is one of the largest unsupported structures in the country. The floor covers 8 acres and can accommodate 10 football fields. The hangar’s’interior is so large that fog sometimes forms near the ceiling. Hangar One was used to house the USS Macon, a 785 foot dirigible. The Macon could accommodate 100 officers and men; sleeping berths, a mess room, a galley and observation platform in the nose and tail. The Navy used the dirigible for reconnaissance. The ship was useful because of its silent motion and speed (up to 80 mph) for long distance.”

Monday, March 15 @ 7:15 PM
Immanuel Lutheran Church
14103 Saratoga Avenue
Saratoga, CA 95070

In 2008 I was invited to go up in an Airship moored at Moffett Field. It was a ride of a lifetime.

see Airship Ventures

Zeppelin flickr set

“It’s Only A Play”

Ira, a gun-toting critic, has a thankless job in “It’s Only A Play”. He finds himself the odd man out – in the producer’s upstairs suite waiting for the opening night reviews to come in!

Though by no means a professional critic, I have found myself in some uncomfortable situations when reviewing a play or a film for Metblogs. I often know the writers, producers, directors, or actors whom I am critiquing. I worry that I may have an ‘If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all’ approach.

In the case of “It’s Only A Play” I don’t have to worry, because I only have nice things to say. This outlandishly funny farce is for those who love theater, and it is especially amusing if you yourself have been on stage.

Stage 1 Theatre

Productions are performed at the Newark Memorial High School theater
which is located at 39375 Cedar Boulevard in Newark, behind New Park Shopping Mall.
From 880 going north take the Mowry exit. Turn left onto Mowry towards Newark, and then a left onto Cedar. Follow Cedar to the Newark Memorial High School. Go past the big school building looking on the right beyond the electronic school billboard for a circular driveway parking lot . There may be theater sandwich boards

“It’s Only A Play” by Terrence McNally

Opens February 19 and Runs through March 13

Friday and Saturday – 8pm
Sunday – 2:30 pm

$25 General Admission at Door
$22 Advance Purchase and Senior
$12 Students (high school and younger)
$18 Group of 12 or more – For same performance

Please note that this play contains mature language and situations. Made me blush!

My “It’s Only A Play” flickr set.

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