Showing posts with label conservation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label conservation. Show all posts

Monday, June 27, 2011

Eagerly Awaiting CARmageddon 2011

Los Angeles Traffic
(image via lonut lordache)

In Los Angeles, where the weather is a constant 73 degrees, conversations revolve not around the temperature but the traffic:

Best Shortcut (Crescent Heights, 6th Street, Benedict Canyon)
Bottlenecks (101/110 interchange, 405 at Wilshire,)
The exact time when rush hour begins and ends (7:25am-10:45am and 3:30pm-6:45pm)
Record paces across town (18 minutes from Ocean Ave to Broadway)
Childhood memories of sailing along the 10 freeway (Once upon a time)
That band that's going to jail for doing a concert on the 110 (Not worth mentioning their name)
Fastest route over the hill: Sepulveda, 405 or Laurel Canyon (I won't say except that it's not listed)
PCH or 101 to get to Malibu on a Sunday morning (101 if your headed to Zuma beach or beyond)
Are Saturdays just a congested as weekdays? (Yes)
Surface Streets or Freeway (Depends. See rush hour times)
I would go see Dudamel if not for the 10 freeway at 6pm (Rich man's problem)
Fastest route to LAX (La Cienega or Lincoln)

So when the city announces that a major freeway will be closed for 48 hours, the whole city goes nuts. Well not the whole city. Some see it as an event worthy of celebration, CARmageddon Weekend!

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The few, the brave, the cyclists of Los Angeles relish in this proverbial sabot being tossed into the machine that is the broken L.A. transit network.

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They see a test case for exposing the gridlock caused by a failed strategy going on 70 years, and celebrating how viable the alternatives could be. In general, transit experts agree that a better city can be realized with a mix of transportation options, rather than the outdated obsession of favoring private automobiles over all other forms of travel.

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Cyclists could not agree more.

Many cyclists (myself included) are thrilled with the gains made recently by cycling advocates, including the adoption of a robust bicycle plan that promises to bring unprecedented and comprehensive bike facilities to this auto-centric metropolis. Perhaps this city is slowly starting to realize the potential of this shift away from automobiles. For example:

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The aforementioned Los Angeles Bicycle Plan (image via Damien Newton, LA Streetsblog)

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CicLAvia #1 & #2, with #3 on the way (image via CicLAvia)

Los Angeles Critical Mass (<span class=
The success of Critical Mass, now rated one of the country's largest rides (Europe reigns on this count), where June's ride saw 1300+ cyclists participate peacefully in a 30 mile tour of L.A. with the full support of the LAPD (image via Barleye)

Los Angeles Metro - Blue Line
The expansion of mass transit rail and subway projects (image via rjmcconnell)

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The passage of Measure R and Mayor Villaraigosa's 30/10 proposal to gain federal support for accelerating those transit projects (image via Damien Newton, LA Streetsblog)

As the top ranking US city for the worst traffic, and air pollution, L.A. is literally at a crossroads: whether to continue building out our automobile infrastructure to accommodate an ever growing population of cars, or to shift to a new paradigm of that embraces the quality of life of each and every resident through a balanced mix of transportation methods.

So if you have a bicycle sitting in your garage, pump some air in those flat tires and ride it everyday, but especially the weekend of July 16th and 17th, when 600,000 drivers will try to figure out how to make their way across town, by any means necessary. This small action will remind your fellow citizens trapped in their cars that there is another way to get from point A to point B.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Taking the Heat


Yesterday was the hottest day ever recorded in the history of Los Angeles. You think you're having a hard time dealing with the heat?

Look at the animals around you. Birds, bees and butterflies (just the Bs people!) They are coping the best they can, like this butterfly I saw last night outside my kitchen. He was still there this morning, just resting on the ground. I gave him a little water, and I think he appreciated that. Leave water out for your feathered friends. Bees love to drink water from saturated soil.

Want to improve the situation for yourself and others? Leave your car at home and ride your bike to work. Is your commute too far to ride? Take a bus or train, or go multimodal! Plant a Woolly Pocket, or a hundred!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Compost in the Round

A few years ago, I picked up a couple metal drums for free on Craigslist. They carried high quality olive oil from Italy to Spago in Beverly Hills. I thought I would turn them into rain barrels. Time went by and they sat behind the garage rusting in silence. These drums deserved more, and one day wandering around Instructables, I came across this design for a rolling drum composter.

Compost Tumbler - More DIY How To Projects

After a few hours of cutting, drilling and screwing, I had a large composter that tucks into a quiet corner of the yard, slowly creating rich soil from our kitchen scraps and yard waste! Sweet!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Great Depression Cooking

We all thought it would never happen again, but today we stand on the precipice of another depression. Our elders told stories of enduring hardships we could only imagine. Now those stories are no longer outside the realm of possibility. What lessons can we draw from their experiences and innovations? Here's a start: Cooking Lessons from the Great Depression, brought to us by Clara, a 91 year old who grew up during those trying times.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mailman Steve: A True American Hero

Hero or Criminal?

Mailman Steve, as he's affectionately known by the neighbors he serves in Apex, North Carolina, was found guilty of failing to deliver years worth of junk mail. When prosecutors notified the neighbors he serves of his accused crime, only one person responded, in support of their mail carrier.

From The News and Observer:

Padgett built up good will on his route by handing out treats to dogs, making sure packages were left on dry porches and introducing himself to customers. Children called him "Mailman Steve."

The U.S. Postal Service never received a complaint about the missing mail and didn't know anything was amiss until they were contacted by a utility worker who noticed the excess mail at Padgett's house in Raleigh. Postal inspectors went to the home this spring and discovered the third-class mail piled in his garage and buried in his yard.

The judge showed mercy and gave him a fine, probabtion and community service. I say he deserves a medal and presidential pardon! Mailman Steve, I salute you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Free LA ZOOs lone Elephant: Write to LA City Council Today!

Thanks Jessica for forwarding me this call to action!

Subject: Write LA Council Members Today 19th (Tell Them to Free LA ZOOs
lone Elephant)

My favorite animal lovers, LA City council meets today to decide on the fate of their lone elephant who is confined by itself in an unsuitable enclosure. Elephants need space or they often die (LA zoo has lost 13 elephants to complications from illness way before their natural life span.) My email is below and so are the council peoples email addresses. It'll take you less then 5 minutes.

From: alex


Sent: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 1:50:30 PM

Subject: Free LA ZOOs lone Elephant

Dear Council Members,

I am writing you to encourage you to shut down the LA Zoo Elephant exhibit and send it's single lonely occupant to a Sanctuary.

It's unacceptable that Los Angeles, a city I am generally proud of in terms of it's enlightened citizenship and forward thinking policies, would not follow the humane example of other cities and get rid of elephant exhibits which put entertainment value above the health and welfare of these very special and intelligent creatures.

There is just no reason elephants should be dying and suffering because of unsuitable conditions under our watch. Elephants also are social creatures and to leave this creature in solitude is simply cruel.

Please do right by our city, and our collective humanity and send Billy to a natural habitat sanctuary.

I implore you to please put the best interest of this great animal as a top priority. Its the right thing for our city, and for our children.



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Biodiesel from a fungus?

If we needed another reason to save the rainforest, along comes Dr. Gary Strobel who discovered a fungus that produces diesel hydrocarbons readily. From

"This is the only organism that has ever been shown to produce such an important combination of fuel substances," said Professor Gary Strobel from Montana State University. "The fungus can even make these diesel compounds from cellulose, which would make it a better source of biofuel than anything we use at the moment."

The fungus, which has been named Gliocladium roseum, produces a number of different molecules made of hydrogen and carbon that are found in diesel. Because of this, the fuel it produces is called "myco-diesel".

"Gliocladium roseum lives inside the Ulmo tree in the Patagonian rainforest. We were trying to discover totally novel fungi in this tree by exposing its tissues to the volatile antibiotics of the fungus Muscodor albus. Quite unexpectedly, G. roseum grew in the presence of these gases when almost all other fungi were killed. It was also making volatile antibiotics. Then when we examined the gas composition of G. roseum, we were totally surprised to learn that it was making a plethora of hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon derivatives. The results were totally unexpected and very exciting and almost every hair on my arms stood on end!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Utopia Realized

From The Vancouver Sun comes news of a city that seems to do the impossible:

Control Growth
Eliminate Sprawl
Promote Jobs
Improve Quality of Life
Reduce Congestion
Create Low Cost Mass Transit
Improved Health and Well Being
Provide Healthy Food for it's Citizens with Local Farms

But where on Earth could this utopia exist?

Portland, Oregon.

Our tax dollars would be well spent if every elected official took a road trip up to Portland to see how smart legislation 20 years ago has created the most livable city in the United States. On just about every point, Los Angeles is ass backwards. It would be a dream come true if we adopted the long range outlook and foresight that Portland has.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Try My Proven Technique For Voting on Propositions!

How to vote for propositions by seeing who opposes them

Except for those mysterious "Undecided Voters", we all pretty much know who we'll be supporting in the presidential election. So instead on spreading the gospel according to Barak, I wanted to give you all a quick tour of California 's many confusing but important propositions on the November 4th ballot. I'm going to show you how easy it is to vote based on who opposes a proposition, because I believe that says more than anything about what the proposition really means. So often wording is meant to confuse voters. Opponents cannot be mistaken, you either like their positions or want to vomit all over their positions. So here we go!

Proposition 1A VOTE YES!
Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act.

Who's Against it? HON. TOM McCLINTOCK, State Senator (YUCK!), Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (VOTE OPPOSITE THIS GROUP EVERY TIME!)
Analysis: Spend lots of money on much needed public transportation infrastructure that's not automobile based! Can we afford not to do it? VOTE YES!!!!

Proposition 2 VOTE YES!
Standards for Confining Farm Animals. Initiative Statute.

Who's Against it? DR. CRAIG REED, DVM, Former Deputy Administrator Food Safety and Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Analysis: USDA sucks. Slaughterhouses suck. Read Animal Vegetable Miracle. Do you like to lie down? Then VOTE YES. Otherwise, live in a cage for a year, and let me eat your soft flesh.

Proposition 3 VOTE YES!
Children's Hospital Bond Act. Grant Program. Initiative Statute.

Who's Against it? LEWIS K. UHLER, President National Tax Limitation Committee
Analysis: How low can you go to oppose children's hospitals? Parents support it. Kids are cool. Let's hospitalize all of them. VOTE YES!

Proposition 4 VOTE NO!
Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor's Pregnancy. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Who's Against it? Nurses, Doctors and School Counselors. Nuff Said.

Proposition 5 VOTE YES!
Nonviolent Drug Offenses. Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation. Initiative Statute.

Who's Against it? California Narcotics Officers Association. CHOKE! Of course you vote opposite a bunch of narcs!
Analysis: The California Prison Industry is an entrenched political machine in California politics. Here's a reasonable and fair alternative for non-violent drug offenders to get the rehab that they need. I see no public benefit for putting them in jail. VOTE YES!

Proposition 6 VOTE NO!
Police and Law Enforcement Funding. Criminal Penalties and Laws. Initiative Statute.

Who's Against it? DANIEL MACALLAIR, Executive Director Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice
Analysis: Whenever you hear people talk about safety, Vote opposite, they are using fear to persuade you. It's basically guaranteeing money in pockets of those supporting it. Just another misguided spending mandate, VOTE NO!

Proposition 7 VOTE YES!
Renewable Energy Generation. Initiative Statute.

Who's Against it? Puppet Environmentalists who have links to the for profit utility companies, PG&E, Sempra, you know who they are, you pay them every month!
Analysis: There's lots of money being spent on this one! The stakes are high! VOTE YES!

Proposition 8 VOTE NO!
Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Who's Against it? Doctors, Nurses, People you rely on every day to keep the world functioning.
Analysis: CONSTITUTIONAL AMMENDMENT, AUTOMATIC NO! A vote of No means you like gay marriage, FYI!

Proposition 9 VOTE NO!
Criminal Justice System. Victims' Rights. Parole. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Who's Against it? SHEILA A. BEDI, Executive Director Justice Policy Institute
Analysis: Not Necesary. Fear Based Advocacy always means VOTE NO!

Proposition 10 VOTE NO!
Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy. Bonds. Initiative Statute.

Who's Against it? Yawn...It's really late and I'm sleepy. Must...Finish....Voter..Guide......
Analysis: It might be a gift to T Boone Pickens, I'm actually getting tired now, going to sleep, VOTE NO!

Proposition 11 VOTE YES! YES! YES!
Redistricting. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Who's Against it? MARTY HITTLEMAN, President California Federation of Teachers (Hmm. An entrenched powerful interest group opposes this, me thinks VOTE YES!!!)
Analysis: Just woke up! VOTE YES. Something has to change in Sac Town!

Proposition 12 VOTE YES!
Veterans' Bond Act of 2008

Who's Against it? Who is "GARY WESLEY?"
Analysis: Seiously, Who is "GARY WESLEY?" Since only one person opposes it, VOTE YES just to be safe.

Check out:

And to All a Good Night!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Critical Mass tomorrow

Los Angeles Critical Mass meets at Wilshire and Western. There are two times posted online: 6pm and 7pm. I assume both are correct, so get there and join one!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

An Engaged Birthday Present

The ever cozy couple Lisa & Blake made a contribution to Heifer International in honor of my birthday. They are always showing me how to add coz in every conceivable way. Thanks guys! What does Heifer International Do?

Heifer's mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and to care for the earth. Heifer does this by providing appropriate livestock, training and related services to small-scale farmers and communities worldwide.

Learn more about Heifer's mission to end world hunger here. They also have awesome Mother's Day gifts!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Farms, Gardening, Laws and Civic Action

Here's local and national things you can do to improve your personal food supply.

1. The Farm Bill is a massive domestic spending program that does both good and bad. Besides supporting unsustainable corporate mega-mono-fossil-fueled-unorganic-agribusiness with subsidies that keep the price of processed foods artificially low, it also funds a small cozy program known as the Community Food Project. The CFP's goal is to "help ensure that low income people have access to good, fresh food, that communities are feeding their people well, and that family farmers are able to find markets for their products." This program is in danger of being axed from the Farm Bill. Everyone should have access to excellent, healthy food. That's a given, once you think about it. But our political representatives need to hear it from us. So. About those calls. Please take three minutes and call your House of Representatives member and both Senators and tell them two things:
  • Tell them that you are very concerned that continued CFP funding is in jeopardy in the Farm Bill.
  • For the Senators, please thank them for the Senate's support, and ask them to make sure the final bill contains $10 million in mandatory funding.
  • Urge your Representatives to contact conference committee leaders to make sure that $10 million in mandatory funding is included in the final version of the bill. If your Representative is a Democrat, have him/her call Chairman Peterson; if your Representative is a Republican, have him contact Rep. Goodlatte.
Here's the number of the Congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121. Remember, this is only a start. Imagine if our Farm Bill looked like this!

2. Locally, Silver Lake Farms is offering organic gardening courses for the month of March. There are a number of interesting courses I am eager to signup for:

Organic Gardening: Introduction

The Stuff of Life: Composting & Vermicomposting

"Dine From The Harvest" with Chef Matthew Roberts

Everyone Learns in the Garden - a class for children, moms & dads

Start an Organic Kitchen Garden with Marta Teegen of HOMEGROWN

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Simple way to help stop "scientific" whaling

From Greenpeace...

Dear Friends,

This campaign has always been about saving the whales - for good. We are proud that this year we've saved more than 100 whales here in the Southern Ocean, and I am personally relieved that I wasn't forced to witness a single whale being killed. But our efforts here in the Southern Ocean are just one part of a much larger effort to end commercial whaling forever.

After months at sea, and the last two weeks of chasing the Japanese factory whaling ship, Nisshin Maru, we've almost run out of fuel and have to return to port. The Australian government vessel, the Oceanic Viking, will continue shadowing the whaling fleet, and we are confident that no whaling will take place in their presence. We have put enormous pressure on the Japanese government, and they have made it clear that they want to hide their whaling from the public eye.

Now our attention must turn to increasing public pressure on the Japanese government. We're entering a new phase in our efforts to save the whales, and now we're relying on YOU to take action to achieve our goal of ending whaling, not just this season but forever.

We're turning our focus on Canon, the company known for its high quality cameras and its commitment to protecting endangered species. As the head of the Japanese Business Federation, Canon CEO Fujio Mitarai has the power to influence the Japanese Prime Minister and to condemn whaling. But Canon has refused to take a stand against the killing of thousands of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Is this really wildlife as Canon sees it?

TAKE ACTION -- Tell Canon to make a picture perfect decision to help end whaling.

It's time to zoom in on a permanent end to whaling. YOU can help Canon see the big picture.

I want to thank you for all of your support for us here on the high seas protecting whales. I hope you'll continue to support whales now by shifting the spotlight to the highest levels of Japanese business and politics, where the fate of whales will ultimately be decided. Whales should be shot with cameras, not harpoons, and Canon should be developing the same conservation philosophy behind the scenes that it uses in its ads.


Heath Hanson
Boat Driver

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Saving money and energy

Originally uploaded by lakersalex
Here's a simple, easy and inexpensive way to save energy. I just replaced the burnt out floodlights around my house with GE CFL Floodlights that use 1/3 the energy of standard floodlights, and last 7 years! You can get a 3 pack of them at for $14.00. By the time I have to replace these, the cost of LED lights should be reasonable enough to switch to. Right now, one LED floodlight costs over $50.00.