Thursday, January 12, 2012
Weblogs (or, in the vernacular, blogs), launched in the ’90s with a small and dedicated band of geeks, and they’ve never really fallen out of fashion. They’re the modern version of water-cooler chat. Hell, they’re modern versions of cave paintings. With a little typing and the click of a “post” button, anyone can do it – but not everyone can do it well. It takes planning and skill to write something personal but with greater meaning, and it takes relentless drive to do it week after week, month after month and for years on end. Here we toast some of the best bloggers of the Central Coast, and ask them why they do it in the first place.
www.survision-bigsur.blogspot.com | by Linda Sonrisa, website designer/event organizer
Sonrisa has been writing about many things since 2007: serendipity, crisis, aging, the community Free Box, Big Sur’s unique beauty, the renewing power of fires and, yes, her cats Pearl Grey and Minnie washing each other’s faces.
In the last few months, she’s blogged about a busted ankle (“Time to admire the flowers once more. Life pushed me down on the playground recently. This is not a metaphor”) and peace of mind (“The holy work of genuinely accepting the moment, other souls and myself just as we are, right now, constantly inspires me and, when I have succeeded in savoring a tiny taste of this, contented tears flow from my heart).
All those varied topics come down to one thing: “It’s a healing tonic for me,” she says. “Living on top of a mountain inspires my creativity, and also my desire to reach out to friends in the ‘real world.’ Seems that writing about both the wonder and the grief of where I live inspires others, which is gratifying. Big Sur will never run out of stories – and I hope to keep sharing them for some time.”
the excerpt (Jan. 3, 2012)
When I describe my neighbor Jim, I sum him up with the words, “He’s like a man from another time.”
Now I would say he’s a kind of bodhisattva, his joy glowing through the yellow finches chattering in the tops of the trees in the garden. Perhaps he’s in the owl who called from the branches near my front door when I met his brothers the night after his death. Or in the crow who cried outside my office window for hours the next day.
Like the tiny finches, musical notes that can’t be seen but are heard all around, Jim will always be with us here on Partington Ridge.
Why is it when someone dies, there seems to never have been enough time to have completely loved and enjoyed them, to have fully savored their unique spark? Jim never told us how bad his cancer was, and I imagine he downplayed the gravity of what he was facing so he could continue to enjoy the love and optimism that came his way from us.
Jim was smart, Mensa smart, but he was modest and low key. A true bachelor, he was a little shy with the ladies. His brother revealed his genius IQ just a few days ago. Jim’s mother related how he was just a few classes short of a degree in biochemistry, but decided he didn’t want to be part of the corporate world, opting for a free-spirited life instead.
Jim had a gentle, wise laugh, perfect olive skin and ’70s rock star hair. He could have worked in the music industry, worn a suit, had a wife and kids, a house in the hills. But he chose the top of Partington Ridge, a life of friends watching epic sunsets over the ocean, sports on the big screen TV and a little dog named Vinnie.
“Sit here,” he said to me recently, pointing to the space between him and his friend on the leather couch in his living room/kitchen/bedroom/entertainment center. “This is the best space for hearing sound,” he added, and I agreed, the wattage from the huge speakers and all the old-fashioned sound equipment making my body vibrate. “This is the Church of Analog,” he smiled.
And now as to how he died: The way no vital, well-loved and hardworking person in the prime of their life should die in this country – uninsured.
Jim fell asleep on his couch last Tuesday night, and slept all night long, rare for him these days. In the morning he was still dreaming peacefully, the cancer swiftly taking over his body like a dark tide. Quietly and in solitude, he slipped away. There are those who would say that, given the kind of cancer he had, that his non-medicalized death was a kind of “blessing.”
But let me tell you a truth: Jim was not ready to die, did not want to die, and would not consider his death at 47, a few short days before his mother came to see him, as any kind of blessing.
The night before, I stopped in to visit. We went over his Obamacare PCIP “Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan” paperwork. He was excited to have been approved for coverage, which kicked in the first of January, in time for the surgery he had scheduled at UCSF on Jan. 4.
www.cachaguastore.blogspot.com | by Michael Jones, chef
He’s a gifted chef, outspoken watchdog and community steward most known for his Monday night dinners out in the boonies and his passionate and polarizing approach to service. (Hint: Don’t mess with his waitstaff or the way a dish is prepped.)
Jones is also a writer with voice as spicy as his pumpkin mole sauce. He contends writerly roots are part of his itch to express himself – his brother edited HarperCollins, his grandfather ran a small newspaper in Redondo Beach – but there’s more to it than that. He aims to “inform and entertain,” express his enthusiasm for epic local ingredients, and, oh, discuss what he calls “some shit no one will touch.”
That means, in his words: “corrupt, incompetent sheriff deputies like Officer Cocksucker (stay tuned!!). And little, supposedly insignificant people with no voice getting stifled, swamped and buried.”
the excerpt (July 20, 2011)
Just a heads up…
Uncle Jerry is proposing a $150 tax on properties lost in the woods… actually, those in the State Responsibility Areas… properties where CalFire is the ultimate protector and responder to wildfires.
You have to sympathize with Uncle Jerry… trying to sneak revenue increases past the Republicans while trying to sneak service cuts past everyone else… all in the name of balancing the budget.
But… take a moment to review the current map of the SRA… here.
Everything is in the SRA.
All of Pebble Beach. All of Carmel Valley and Cachagua.
A tiny strip along Carmel Valley Road is allowed to the locals… but everything within a few meters of the road is in the SRA.
Right now we already pay $100 or more dollars levied on our parcel tax to Cachagua Fire… our Fire Protection District. I am willing to bet that parcel holders in Carmel Valley pay a similar tax to firefighters in the Village or Mid-Valley. Believe it or not, my Health Department permit for Cachagua pays forty or fifty bucks for ambulance service in Seaside!
As someone who lives 300 meters from a CalFire station… which is awesomely captained by the daughter of a dear friend… I have no problems paying my fair share. But what happens to Cachagua Fire?
In the last fire, whose T-shirt I am wearing as I type… Cachagua Fire got completely dissed and buried by warring bureaucracies. The folks with the local experience and knowledge and expertise were at various times actually banned from access to their own areas of responsibility.
Plus, the way the bill is written… the levy is based upon the number of structures on a given parcel. We have three… so my fire protection bill goes from $100 to $550. My landlord’s fire protection bill goes from $100 to more than $6,000. And, it would appear that we have less say about allocation of resources before, during and after a fire event.
I am not a completely happy camper here…
More clarification anon… after a word or two with John Laird and Bill Monning.
http://econlog.econlib.org | by David Henderson, NPS associate professor
Henderson, who teaches microeconomics and cost/benefit analysis, is a seasoned op-ed veteran whose pieces have appeared in The Chicago Tribune and The San Francisco Chronicle.
But he likes his blog a hell of a lot more, or at least enough to reach 1,000 posts this November: No need to stoop to narrow word lengths, wait to hear back from editors while the issue’s timeliness trickles away, or wonder if Paul Krugman will see the criticism. (Online, he likely will.)
Linking is nice too, but Henderson especially enjoys making technical economic issues accessible to his readers. “
Some like the fact that I give them intellectual ammo for views they already have but didn’t know how to back up,” he says. “Others love debate. And a few like to challenge themselves and, sometimes, change their minds.”
the excerpt (Jan. 3, 2012)
My Hoover colleague Paul Gregory has an interesting op/ed on how things would look if the media treated Republican congressmen the way they treat Democrats. He takes a New York Times story and rewrites it the way people who oppose the extension of unemployment benefits and of the payroll tax cut would like it to be reported.
It got me thinking more about something I had been wondering about: the interesting political economy of the recent bill. Recall that most Republicans were hesitant to renew the cut in the employee’s portion of the Social Security tax and the extension of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks, the latter of which I called, on John Stossel’s show, “positively French.” Most Democrats were on the other side.
Start with the extension of unemployment benefits. What is one of Barack Obama’s major problems right now, a problem that will make it harder for him to be re-elected? The high unemployment rate. What is one of the contributors to the high unemployment rate? Extended unemployment benefits. It’s true that many Keynesians believe extending the benefits would increase aggregate demand. But even they have to admit the negative incentive effect of paying people to be unemployed. I guess they believe that the first effect outweighs the second. I don’t. Of course, if you agree with these Keynesians, you won’t find this interesting.
So if the disincentive effect outweighs the aggregate demand effect, the net result of a program that Obama strongly supports is a higher unemployment rate that would make it harder for Obama to be re-elected.
http://localnomad.wordpress.com | by Jean Vengua, author and lecturer, CSU Monterey Bay
When the 60-year-old Vengua picked up stakes and moved from Santa Cruz to Elkhorn in 2008, she felt more than slightly untethered. She went from owning a home to renting one, from knowing her neighbors to being a stranger in a strange land. One of her great fascinations, community and how to build it, became the focal point for her personal writing on Local Nomad.
It’s her nature to explore, and chronicling those explorations helped her feel more comfortable in her new place. It also melds with her other great interest, ethnic communities in Monterey County.
Vengua, a Filipino-American, is guest curating an exhibit on Filipinos this fall at the National Steinbeck Center. In the meantime, when she’s not lecturing about human communication, she will continue to grab her camera and notebook and set out to explore. She writes about the literature of communities, how individuals come together to become a cohesive unit, and how seemingly divergent groups can relate to each other.
the excerpt (Oct. 27, 2011)
Oakland has one, and so does Atlanta, and D.C. And more seem to be sprouting up: DIY food markets that bypass the usual licensing restrictions, which – in this economy – present an impossible hurdle for some folks who just don’t have the money for liability insurance, health and safety permits, farmers market membership fees, commercial kitchen use and vendor space rental.
How can the underground market do this legally? By making you, the buyer, part of a circle of friends – in other words, a free member (although you may be charged a minimal fee to enter the market) entering a private event…
Good intent does not, of course, guarantee safety in food consumption. Does supporting local, sustainable food, and local chefs and vendors, justify the risk of eating food that hasn’t been prepared in a certified kitchen? You have to decide for yourself.
The DIY movement is fascinating to me, personally, because it reminds me of a popular word used in the Philippines, abilidad (from the Spanish “habilidad”), referring to a kind of skilled resourcefulness among those lacking in capital to somehow make something useful out of available materials. DIY is already being utilized commercially, in the “certified” and “licensed” sense of those who have money to capitalize on it. But DIY is also a political movement with revolutionary implications.
In a society – indeed, a world – where lack of capital consigns many unfairly to the category of “losers” and can mean the difference between success and failure or life and death, abilidad, and DIY, especially when combined with insight and a larger vision, can seem like a little miracle.
www.toplessbread.blogspot.com | by Karen Lesney, associate at the architecture firm of Jerrold E. Lomax
Lesney’s beginnings read like a romance novel: made in Paris, where her G.I. father met her mother at a Halloween Party in 1959; born in Rhode Island; and raised through second grade in Denmark, to which she returned in college to train in architecture.
Lesney writes about the food of her childhood – the open-face Danish sandwiches known as smørrebrød – as a means of connecting to her heritage, and as a means of recuperation.
A former discus and javelin thrower, Lesney, 48, woke up on Christmas Eve 2007 and found she could barely move. A disc in her back had ruptured, and overnight, easy stuff like walking and breathing became painful.
“I went from blogging about architecture to blogging about food,” she says. “This food in particular fell out of fashion in Denmark, because globalization made it seem like peasant food. But now it’s come back, and it’s popular among young urbanites, and their kids are bringing it back to school.”
A single slice of bread, a smear of butter and toppings of meat, fish or cheese, and an array of produce, arranged like a beautiful still-life: there’s really nothing peasant about it. (Especially when Lesney reveals one of her partners in sandwich love and frequent blog guest, her cousin Claus Meyer, holds two Michelin stars as chef/owner of the restaurant Noma in Denmark.)
the excerpt (Jan. 6, 2012)
I have attended many an architecture leadership conference, and the number-one answer to making the public be more aware and understanding of architecture is to teach that you have to start with the kids first. They will grab it and grow more enlightened.
Back when I was attending school in Denmark as a kid, I completely took for granted what I was preparing for myself in the morning. I simply did what the adults were doing. I did not realize until we came to the States when I was 9 years old that there was a huge difference in how common age groups ate.
I don’t believe our mother was careless with our lunches. But, we started eating like little Americans and somehow along the way we started growing not just Nordic tall, but American wide. We simply started eating double the carbohydrates (two pieces of white, processed bread) to our previous, single slice of multigrain bread.
Back in the ’70s this is all that was available, and it was not until the “granola generation” brought about a change to the American diet that multi-grain returned to the bread shelf. When these ingredients became more readily available, our eating habits changed, as well as our girth.
Think of this as intervention of the stealthy kind. You read this, and apply it at home. Heck, even make your own lunch look healthy and appetizing, then they will want to do the same. Though I have no children, think of it as covert parenting skills.
http://xasauantoday.com | by Keith Vandevere, attorney and Monterey County planning commissioner
Xasáuan is an earlier spelling of the Native American name for the Carmel Valley hamlet known as Cachagua. Vandevere, 52, has since moved to Carmel, but the Xasáuan blog remains his home in cyberspace, where he takes on local politics, water and wilderness.
“Anytime anything goes wrong around here I get lots of hits,” he says – like during the 2008 Basin Complex fires, when his ticker showed some 17,000 hits per day. While the U.S. Forest Service released week-old fire maps and a local daily glitched the story, Vandevere was posting accurate, up-to-date info based on satellite heat-detection maps. “My blog suddenly became a site for anyone who wanted to know where the fire actually was and what it was doing,” he says.
the excerpt (Oct. 12, 2011)
We’ve been thinking a lot about oaks recently. For one thing, it’s the time of year when the big coast live oak sheltering our bedroom bounces acorns off the roof during the night. For another, public outcry over the proposal to cut down 4,000 or so oaks on the former Ft. Ord in order to build a bus yard and business park on previously undeveloped land has brought oaks, at least temporarily, the kind of attention people normally reserve for redwoods. And finally, comes a report from the UC Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab that Phytophthora ramorum infection – better known as Sudden Oak Death – is much more widespread than previously thought.
Estimates of how much California oak habitat has already been lost range from half to two-thirds, with an additional 30,000 acres being converted to residential or commercial uses every year. Fragmentation of habitat, as when human development removes all but a scattering of decorative landmark oaks, can doom an oak woodland to extinction.
For thousands of years oaks played a central role in human society in California. It’s been only a little over 200 years since pretty much everyone in California ate acorns pretty much every day. Acorn soup, acorn mush, acorn bread… from the Sierra to the sea, acorns were the staff of life.
The ability of the oaks to convert California’s sun, soil and water into such a vast supply of easily accessible food made them, and still makes them, the foundation of multiple food chains and gives them a central and irreplaceable role in California’s web of life.
So the oaks, we think, are due a little more respect than they’ve been getting for the past couple hundred years. Let’s hope their famous adaptability is up to the task of adjusting to the mess we’re making of the landscape and climate. And how about we stop treating them, and the web of life that depends on them, as though they don’t matter?
www.edibleparadise.com | Annaliese Keller, marketing director for the Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets and owner of Malabar Trading Company
Keller launched Edible Paradise as a companion blog to www.montereybayfarmers.org. The blog’s recipe database – starring seasonal, local produce – started with contributions from vendors, market Chef-In-Residence Andrew Cohen and Keller herself, a trained pastry chef.
“You can find information about learning how to preserve food, tips about making pie crusts, or how to make your own almond milk from raw almonds available at the farmers market,” she says. “If you love fresh salads, there’s a huge selection of dressing recipes. Want to know what mache is and how to eat it? Better yet, learn which farmers sell it at the farmers market.”
the excerpt (Dec. 15, 2011)
The name “pomegranate” derives from Latin pomum (“apple”) and granatus (“seeded”). Jewish scholars believe that the pomegranate was the original “forbidden fruit” of the Garden of Eden. Cultivated since ancient times, the pomegranate is native to the region from Iran to northern India. The pomegranate is now cultivated widely in California and Arizona for juice production.
Beneath the thick, leathery skin of a pomegranate reveals hundreds of edible seeds encased in a gelatinous sack of sweet, juicy pulp. The seeds and surrounding pulp, ranging in color from white to deep crimson, are called arils. The small edible sacks contain juice and a crunchy seed, delicious either alone, or tossed into salads.
www.gapatton.net | By Gary Patton, environmental attorney with Wittwer & Parkin, LLP
Patton, who sat on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors in the mid-1970s, started blogging in 2009 in an effort to reconcile the worlds of nature and politically-crafted human society. His near-daily entries, which also post to his Facebook page, explore issues from wonk to wonder, land use to the fabric of life.
“The fact that this is not only a set of notes to myself, but also may inform others’ thinking, is important to me,” he explains. “I believe that our political activities, broadly understood, are really the result of democratic conversations within our communities about what we should be doing, together.”
the excerpt (Jan. 5, 2012)
The California Coastal Commission is perhaps the best planning agency in the nation. While the Commission’s decisions are sometimes controversial, the Commission has had great success in keeping its eye on the ball where key coastal policy issues are at stake.
On the Thursday, January 12th agenda is a report on the “vertical access” opportunities that the Commission has established… “Vertical access” means: “I can get to the beach.” It means that members of the public will have the legal right and an actual opportunity to walk over the private property located between a public road and the beach, to get to the beach and to the ocean…
The Commission’s success in providing “vertical access” along the entire California coast is just one more example of how “regulation is freedom.” We tell ourselves what we want to do, and then we do it. That is how our “freedom” to achieve our common goals is actually achieved, in the real world.