Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘California’

Meeting Her Parents

After going out for a year and a half and living together for four months, it was time to meet my wife’s parents. Her parents lived in Chicago and we lived in California. The day of reckoning had arrived.

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One day, as Audrey was talking on the phone with her mother (which she does every week for hours on end), her Mom told her that they were coming out to a convention in San Francisco and wondered if they could meet us for dinner. Audrey had replied, “Yes, we would love to.” and then informed me of it afterwords. I was reasonably shocked, but as ready as I’d ever be. She had told me a little about her parents and I’d talked to them on the phone, but had never met them in person.

I was nine years older than their daughter and already had three children from a previous marriage! Audrey had never been married, was only twenty-four and had grown up as an only child. And even though I had a Masters degree, at the time of our meeting I was working as a nursing assistant, which was as far away from their daughter’s previous boyfriend, who was going to medical school, as possible.

The meeting took place at what is now the Sheraton Hotel in downtown San Francisco. We met them in the lobby. I had on the one good suit I owned, that looked like something from the seventies and just as tacky. Audrey looked beautiful, as always. Her parents looked just like I had imagined, though her father wasn’t as tall as I’d expected. We exchanged formalities and went outside to get on the cable car and go down to Ghirardelli Square, where we went to a fancy Hungarian restaurant.

After being seated and making sure to follow everything they did, such as eating with the proper utensil and delicately sipping the wine, her father asked about the work I did and what I had done in the past. I tried to make health care, counseling and massage sound important and exciting, but I could tell it wasn’t going over real well. Then her mother asked about my kids. I gave her a glowing report and tried to convey how different that relationship had been, from the one her daughter and I had now embarked upon. Her anxiety and fears seemed to increase, despite my good intentions.

I must admit, if my only daughter was involved, at age twenty-four, with a man in his thirties who already had three children and worked as a nursing assistant, I would have had my doubts, concerns and clanging sirens of apprehension!

As we all stood on the trolley car, on the way back to the hotel, her father unexpectedly asked me where I lived. The one thing we hadn’t told them yet was that we were living together. Not sure what to say, I finally said, “I live real close.” Luckily, he didn’t ask where or how close. I’m not sure I could have pulled off another stretch of the truth.

As we were driving home that night Audrey said, “It will take time, but I think they like you. They’re just scared about my future, that’s all.”

“That’s all!” I exclaimed. “That’s quite a bit, your future.”

I admitted that in spite of all my preconceptions and notions about her parents, that I liked them as well.

Audrey and I have been married twenty-six years now and her mother and father (who has since passed away) are both close to our hearts and lives. They have loved all their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, including the ones that didn’t come through their daughter and even accepted their American son-in-law, who never became a lawyer or physician and still only has one good suit.

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A Smart Home

UC Davis and Honda Unveil a Smart Home for a Zero-carbon Future
by Brandon Baker
Eco Watch & Nation of Change
3 April 2014

Honda and the University of California, Davis aren’t particularly known for constructing homes, but an ambitious project places the two entities at the forefront of designing homes capable of producing more renewable energy than they consume.

They began constructing the Honda Smart Home last spring and unveiled it less than a year later on the West Village campus of UC Davis.

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While homes and cars in the U.S. account for about 44 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, the Smart Home is expected to generate a surplus of 2.6 megawatt-hours (Mwh) of energy per year, some of which will be used to power the Honda Fit electric vehicle (EV) that comes with it. A soon-to-be-selected member of the UC Davis community will reside at the home as researchers from the company and college observe the production and consumption associated with their vision for net-zero energy living and transportation.

“What we’re trying to do here is create a vision for zero-carbon living and personal mobility,” said Michael Koenig, project leader for the Honda Smart Home.

With advanced lighting, geothermal heating and cool and a 9.5 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system, the Smart Home’s design will use less than half of the energy a similarly sized new home in Davis would when it comes to heating, cooling and lighting. It’s also three times more water-efficient than the average U.S. home. Honda and UC Davis will work with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. in evaluating the home as well as the potential for more efficient technologies that positively impacting housing, transportation, energy and the environment.

“In West Village, UC Davis made a commitment to build zero net energy housing and gave our research center the goal of creating the first university hub to focus and energy and transportation research,” said Dan Sperling, Ph.D., director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis. “Honda Smart Home is a dynamic environment that will help the university meet its research objectives and is a perfect example of the industry partnerships we strive to build.”

The 2.6 Mwh surplus per year, compared to about 13.3 Mwh for the average home represents a net offset of nearly 13,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, according to Honda. Researchers say the excess energy will anticipate possible future increases in energy needs like additional inhabitants or more EVs in a household.

As for water efficiency, the Smart Home contains dual-flush toilets, low-flow sink and shower faucets and a high-efficiency dishwashing machine and dishwasher. Those utilities should bring down the water consumption of the average home, which typically uses 27 percent of its water consumption on a toilet by itself.

Read entire article and more at NATION OF CHANGE

Indiscriminate Killing

dolphin_FOIA_bycatchOff the coast of California, giant mile-long fishing nets are left to “soak” overnight. In the morning, fisherman pull up their catch – and that catch often includes dead dolphins, with water in their lungs and netting dug into their skin.

These dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles and whales struggle to escape, but the nets are so massive and strong that it’s nearly impossible. Trapped, they struggle until they run out of air.

For the fishing industry using these walls of death, dead dolphins are just another part of doing business.

Enough is enough. Oceana’s new report has identified these drift gillnets as among the top offenders in the nation – and now it’s time to hold them accountable and change these devastating practices.

Our new report on the needless waste and death of marine wildlife revealed some truly horrifying numbers. Nine U.S. fisheries fish so indiscriminately that they have to throw out almost as much as they bring to shore, and much of this wasted catch dies before or after being tossed overboard.

These fishing practices irreversibly harm our precious ocean ecosystems, indiscriminately killing animals big and small, and leaving millions of edible fish like cod and halibut sinking dead to the bottom of the sea.

Simple changes—like switching from giant nets to selective harpoons—would make a huge difference, and we need the help of ocean-lovers like you to make them a reality. Your gift today will help Oceana push for stronger enforcement and better regulations to minimize wasted catch, put pressure on these fisheries to do the right thing, and protect the amazing animals who call our oceans home.

But stopping them won’t be easy. We will need to influence legislation, put people on the ground, and keep the story in the press to get these fisheries to clean up their act. Put simply, we won’t be able to do it without people like you standing behind us.

Please, help make the difference for dolphins and sea turtles. Chip in by midnight on Friday to join Oceana in the fight to protect ocean wildlife in the U.S. and around the world. »

These fisheries are driven by profits – not what’s right. Changing their ways is going to take time and money. Your help is critical to keep up the fight so that we can continue to put pressure on the worst offenders and the federal government to enforce stronger common-sense regulations.

I’m so glad we have you with us for these critical fights.

For the oceans,
Susan Murray
Deputy Vice President, Pacific
Oceana

Leti’s Chai

Leti’s Chai
by Gabriel Constans

This smoothie is one of our daughter Leti’s favorites. Chai is a traditional Indian spiced tea made with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, dates, and cardamom. It can be bought prepackaged, or you can make it yourself*.

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Yield: 3 cups

2 cups chai, steeped and cooled
1/2 cup rice milk
1 tablespoon honey, or to taste
1 tablespoon dried mint

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and mix on medium speed for 1 minute.

Pour into tea or coffee cups and serve.

*Chai can be bought prepackaged at natural food stores or made at home by combining equal amounts of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, dates, and cardamom. Add 8 cups water, bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes.

The Tex-Mex

The Tex-Mex
by Gabriel Constans

Jicama is a root vegetable similar to the turnip. It is popular in Mexican dishes throughout Mexico, Texas, California, and New Mexico. This smoothie is sweet, hot, nourishing, and filling.

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Yield: 5 cups

2 cups chopped fresh pineapple
1 small jicama, peeled and sliced
1 large mango, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon chopped jalapeno pepper*
Juice of 1 lime
2 cups filtered water
1 banana

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and blend on high speed for 1 minute.

Pour into tall glasses and serve.

*Jalapeno and other hot peppers must be handled carefully. Don’t touch your face
and wash hands thoroughly.

These Whales Need Help

sperm_whale_pod_mailingDear Gabriel,

Sperm whales are family creatures
. The endangered whales travel in pods with their relatives and spend years raising their young. But the time they spend carefully raising each child means that it will take a very long time for these creatures to replenish their numbers and rise out of endangered status.

And while we wait for their numbers to grow, healthy sperm whales are having their lives cut short by drift gillnets off the coast of California. Drift gillnets are mile-long walls of nets that are left out in ocean waters overnight to catch swordfish and thresher sharks. But these nets also catch these endangered whales. We need your help to save them.

You can help stop the unnecessary killing of sperm whales. Donate today to help meet the $50,000 goal by May 15»

Southern California’s deep waters are home to an abundance of squid—a sperm whale’s favorite snack. And while pods of whales are swimming in these squid-rich waters, they may find themselves facing a wall of nets.

In 2010, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) estimated that 16 sperm whales became entangled in drift gillnets off of Southern California. For Pacific sperm whales, which take so long to give birth and which have such a small population, those 16 whales were irreplaceable. If we continue to allow drift gillnets to kill these whales, their future is at risk.

Sperm whales can grow to over 50 feet long and weigh 40 tons. You would think these massive creatures would not have much to fear, but a mile-long net wrapped around their fins or tail can keep them from swimming, cause lethal injury, and even trap them underwater. A sperm whale can hold its breath for a long time, but if it’s held underwater overnight in a drift gillnet, it will drown.

It’s time to stop this practice. Oceana is working to convince NMFS and the state of California to phase out this deadly gear type and replace it with cleaner gears, but we need help to keep up the fight.

Give by May 15 to help us protect endangered whales and the world’s oceans»

Your support will help us fund our work to protect ocean ecosystems off the California coast and across the globe. Our work has resulted in great victories in these waters—from establishing a protected area for leatherback sea turtles to stopping an expansion of these deadly drift gillnets—and now it’s time for us to continue the fight and end drift gillnetting in California altogether.

Thanks for all that you do.

For the oceans,
Rachael Prokop
Oceana

Take Down The Nets!

Take down the nets!

sperm_whale_tailSperm whales are truly astonishing creatures; a deep-diving family-focused creature with a lifespan that rivals humans and the largest brain in the animal kingdom.

You wouldn’t think that an animal as big as a sperm whale would have much to fear, but they do. These endangered mammals face a deadly threat off the California coast: mile-long drift gillnets that can entangle their fins and tails, holding them underwater until they drown.

Help us reach our $50,000 goal to fight for endangered whales and other threatened wildlife»

Drift gillnets are set off California’s southern coast, left out overnight to catch swordfish and thresher sharks. These large nets create mile-long “walls of death” that will tangle up many sharks, turtles, marine mammals and fish that encounter them. Held underwater, air-breathing animals like whales and turtles will drown if they can’t get free.

Sperm whales are already endangered. Like humans, they tend to go several years or longer in between births and raising their young; which means that it will be a long time still before their population can recover from centuries of whaling. In 2010, the National Marine Fisheries Service estimated that 16 sperm whales were entangled in drift gillnets—a number that their small population just can’t handle.

Oceana is campaigning to remove these destructive nets once and for all off the U.S. West Coast and have them replaced with cleaner fishing gear. We can’t risk losing more whales to deadly nets.

Give by May 15 to help us fight for sperm whales and all the world’s oceans»

Thanks to supporters like you, this year Oceana stopped a proposed expansion of this fishery into a protected area for endangered leatherback sea turtles; but we can’t stop this fight until we can guarantee that all ocean waters off California are safe from these deadly nets.

For the oceans,
Rachael Prokop
Oceana

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