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November 2007
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December 2007

Riptide Reader: Does U.S. Support Rule of Law?

Riptide reader Dan Underhill just sent this letter to the House Judiciary Committee:

"I have just read that at least eight of your members are in favor of a return to the rule of law, but my Web searches have failed to turn up the number of people on your committee. Without that number, I can't tell if it is half of you or a tenth of you that have an interest in honoring your oaths of office. Protecting and defending the Constitution from mighty and and highly placed criminals is something that can not be done by your average policeman on the beat. That is why we have you. If Cheney is not guilty of the high crimes and misdemeanors that he appears to be guilty of, he is entitled to have that proven to us all in an impeachment hearing. If he is guilty, we the people need to know what happened to allow such miscreants into the highest offices in the land. We also need to know that the House Judiciary Committee is in service of the United States of America rather than some coalition of multinational corporations. I look forward to your response,"


Avoid Harmful Hangovers Year-Round

Remember these natural hangover cures year-round. They will help you survive partying without paying the price. Trust us, you're gonna have a lot more fun knowing you're not gonna be worshipping the porcelain goddess the morning after. What are the benefits?

A clean bill of health. According to the FDA, taking meds like Tylenol for hangover relief can actually do your body more harm than good. 

Low-cost pain prevention. Simple methods, such as staying hydrated, can be as effective as, say, hair of the dog.

Ola Loa - surprisingly tasty vitamin packets with electrolytes to help you rehydrate ($34/30 packets).

Jigsaw Activated B w/SRT - this sustained-release formula replaces the vitamin B your body loses when you drink ($30/120 caplets).

Nature's Way Opuntia - contains prickly pear extract, which helps minimize inflammation - a part of what causes your morning headache ($20/100 caplets).

Hangover Helper: Fight Back - its artichoke and sarsaparilla extract worked in our Happy Hour (and beyond) test ($15).

DIY Bite: Drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you knock back. We know it sounds hard, but works like a charm. And for all you winos: Mild allergies to sulfites in conventional wine can cause major pain, so go organic when you can.

[adapted from IDEALBITE.COM's New Year's message]


Free Service Stops Unwanted Catalogs

A new service set up by the Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, and the Ecology Center called Catalog Choice can put a stop to all those unwanted catalogs clogging your mailbox. Since the service's debut a few weeks ago, some 20,000 people have signed up, already halting more than 50,000 unwanted catalogs. That's a small fraction of the 19 billion catalogs mailed in the U.S. each year (made out of 53 million trees), but it's a start. Did we mention it's free?


Moving Sun: Winter Solstice Signals Longer Days


This is a special time for the sun. This is the time of the winter solstice, when the sun rises at its most southernmost point on the horizon; from here on out, the rising sun will start moving to the north, and days will get longer and warmer. People have celebrated this occasion for eons. Newgrange, the roughly 5,000-year-old stone temple on the Boyne River in Ireland, was designed to permit the rising sun around winter solstice to illuminate its deeply hidden chambers (see link below).



Happy Politically Correct Holidays

To All My  Friends, a Politically Correct Holiday Greeting:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.


Shipping Bees? Only the Queen Goes by Air

Bees are acceptable in the continental surface mail when shipped under federal and state regulations to ensure that they are free of disease. Packages of honeybees must bear special handling postage, except those sent at a First-Class Mail rate. Only queen honeybees may be shipped via air transportation. Each queen honeybee shipped via air transportation may be accompanied by up to eight attendant honeybees. (U.S. Postal Service regulation 9.3.7, forwarded by Leal Charonnat)

Powdered Toast Man: Burning the Constitution

I don't know if you're familiar with the cartoon Ren and Stimpy, but they had an "offshoot" cartoon with a superhero named POWDERED TOAST MAN VIDEO (warning: mild adult content and political insinuation).

Anyway, he saves the president from a painful and embarrassing situation, and must assume command of the country. His oath is right out of the Attorney General's office.

And once in the White House and feeling chilly, he picks up a copy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and says, "What are these dusty old documents??" and then throws them dismissively in the fireplace.

That's how I have felt about the Bush administration for the past seven years. Sure, Clinton had the great lie "depends on what your definition of 'is' is . . . " but that was about an affair.

Hearing Alberto Gonzales say the Constitution doesn't absolutely protect the right of habeas corpus because it doesn't explicitly say you cannot deny that right—I find that lie significantly more distressing.

Yeah, this power grab was on well before 9/11, but that day gave them a cause to move forward. Apparently, killing 3,000 civilians is an excuse to deny rights to the other 300,000,000.


New Walgreens Design: "Big" and "Ugly"

To: Mr. Michael Crabtree
Director, Planning Commission Staff

December 17, 2007

I have reviewed the drawings of the Walgreens planned for the Manor area. Unfortunately, though there has been a great deal in the way of cosmetic frills added to the original design, it is impossible to hide the fact that this is going to be like all Walgreens stores, ugly, big structures that will never fit into any neighborhood.The current and I suppose final rendition is especially out of character with the other stores in Manor.

That being said, what can now be done to salvage the project? It was suggested that first, the characteristic Walgreens script-sign could be changed, and made significantly smaller. Also, the color of the lettering could be changed to match or contrast with the color scheme of the building. This softening of the corporate image would also make the building a better fit with the other stores in the Manor Center.

The large glass mortar and pestle design should be changed to one that is associated with the City of Pacifica, such as a surfer, or beaches, or ocean views from the hills surrounding Pacifica. Would it not be better for first time visitors to Pacifica to see that than a corporate logo for the second largest big box store in the United States?

I am sure you have already heard from Walgreens that such changes would violate corporate policies for the drug giant. But we have heard much in the weeks and months leading to approval that Commissioners wanted a building at the south entrance to the City that reflects the kind of community it is. We also heard much from the developer-facilitator that Walgreens would make any reasonable accommodations in design that the City requested. These are modest, and more than reasonable accommodations.

Per action of the Commission, you have been given the authority to review the final plans and make any last minute recommendations for change. This is your last chance to do
something to make this a community oriented commercial building.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours truly,

Richard E. Hurley

What to Do About Monster Homes in Pacifica

How do you feel about Mega Homes, sometimes called Monster Homes or McMansions? Personally, I don’t like them much. They often have adverse impacts on their neighbors, affecting access to daylight, sunshine, and views; compromising privacy; and representing disproportionate contributions to climate change and consumption of material resources in comparison with more modest homes.

I live in Vallemar, and Monster Homes are springing up all over the neighborhood and elsewhere in Pacifica, much to the dismay and shock of many residents. Neighbors of these Monster Homes ask what can be done to control them. Right now there’s almost no control, and neighbors are not even notified before they are approved by the planning department. They are not subject to review by the Planning Commission, and are routinely approved by the planning department without a public hearing.

There’s an answer in sight. The Planning Commission recently developed an ordinance providing that when a house over a specified size is proposed, the neighbors be notified and a public hearing be held to determine whether it should be approved. That’s the good news. But this is not the law yet. Rather, the proposal will go to the City Council, which must approve the ordinance before it becomes law.

I urge all concerned Pacificans to contact City Council members and ask for speedy consideration and adoption of the ordinance.


Green Tips for Earth-Friendly Holidays


You can help the planet - and your wallet - by making smart choices this year! Americans throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day than any other time of the year? (That's more than 5 million tons!) Here are some of our favorite ideas to save energy and reduce waste:

Just say NO to shopping bags. Bring your own tote bag when you shop.

Give experiences, not stuff. Give a gift certificate for a massage or yoga classes, movie tickets, a museum membership, or an annual pass to state parks. Or make a gift of your time: babysitting for a parent's night out, pet sitting, a meal using local organic produce, or whatever you enjoy doing.

Give gifts to help others "go green." How about a metal travel mug or water bottle, a set of cloth napkins, rechargeable batteries, or  reusable shopping bags? For a more substantial gift, give a share in a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program where you receive weekly bags of farm-fresh, organic produce.

Go easy on the gift wrap and ribbon. Use alternative packaging, such as reusable boxes, tote bags or tins, fabric, old calendar pages, or children's art. Replace ribbon with paper snowflakes or greenery, or use fabric ribbon. Try using what you already have at home.

Decorate in eco-style. Use strings of LED bulbs, which use 90% less electricity than regular holiday bulbs. Use greenery and other natural objects that will "recycle" easily.

Entertain with reusables (not disposables). You can dramatically cut back on waste by using washable plates and utensils instead of throwaways. For times when you can't wash dishes, use biocompostable ones.

(from Acterra, forwarded by Lynn Adams, Pacifica Beach Coalition)

BART Keeps Breaking Ridership Records

BART keeps breaking records without help of bridge closures

By Erik N. Nelson

Commuters are turning to public transportation in record numbers as gasoline prices seem to have gotten comfortable at or above $3 a gallon. Unlike past surges in transit ridership, this one doesn't have the help of a major freeway disruption like the Labor Day weekend closure of the Bay Bridge at the end of August or the collapse of a MacArthur Maze ramp at the end of April.

On Nov. 14 and Dec. 7, BART had its second and third biggest days, with 382,865 and 381,499 people inserting tickets on their way out of the system, respectively. The biggest day, Aug. 31, was the Friday that the Bay Bridge was shut down for construction through Labor Day weekend. That week, which included a record-breaking Saturday and Sunday during the closure, was also BART's busiest, with 2.3 million rides.

BART, which serves as an indicator for transit use in the Bay Area because of its nearly instant readouts of ridership data, has since the Bay Bridge closure seen riderhip flirting with those levels, apparently by the will of commuters who have decided not to drive. The week ending Nov. 11 saw ridership of 2.2 million, and the week ending Sunday (Dec. 9) was well above 2.1 million.

Meanwhile, gasoline prices in the East Bay are now nearly 90 cents higher per gallon than they were a year ago, and statewide, prices have remained above $3 for most of the year. BART spokesman Linton Johnson said ridership tends to trail gas prices, rising weeks after gas prices spike, and falling weeks after it drops again.

But this year, ridership has remained strong, even when statewide average gas prices dropped below $3 a gallon in August and September. In fact, October was BART's highest month in its 35-year history, with 9.5 million rides weeks after gas prices spike, and falling weeks after it drops again.

[railpac news]