Previous month:
November 2009
Next month:
January 2010

December 2009

No Airport Traffic or Parking Hassles: Take BART or Bus

Skip bumper-to-bumper airport traffic and avoid parking hassles. Leave the driving to BART, SamTrans, Caltrain, and VTA. Public transit to San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland airports is convenient and inexpensive.

San Francisco International Airport: Park at BART stations and ride the train straight into the international terminal at SFO. Click the BART link above for schedules, fares, and parking information. SamTrans buses also serve the airport, connecting with Caltrain up and down the Peninsula. Train and bus fares and schedules: 1-800-660-4287 (TTY 650-508-6448) SAMTRANS  and CALTRAIN

San Jose International Airport: Caltrain connects with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) free bus Route 10 Airport Flyer at Santa Clara Caltrain Station. Train and bus fares and schedules: 1-800-660-4287 (TTY 650-508-6448) VTA and CALTRAIN

Oakland International Airport: Ride BART to the Oakland Coliseum station, then step aboard the AirBART airport shuttle bus. Click BART for schedules, fares, parking, and airport shuttle information.

Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwich to Die For



In Iowa, eating is serious business. Portions are typically large. Quality is pretty good to excellent and always priced to provide a good value. The number one item on the menu of regional Iowa specialty cuisine has to be the "tenderloin." This sandwich consists of a breaded and deep-fat-fried piece of tenderized pork tenderloin, served on a bun, with your choice of condiments. Seeing the sandwich, one is first struck by the size of the meat. It always dwarfs the bun. This is an essential feature. If the meat isn't at least three inches in diameter larger than the bun, then the sandwich is immediately judged inadequate. I've eaten tenderloins where the meat has even obscured the plate the sandwich was served on. Imagine the planet Jupiter is a tenderloin sandwich. Jupiter's red spot would be the bun. That's a good tenderloin! Topped with mustard, ketchup, and onion, the sandwich above retails for $5 (for two of them) at the employee-owned HyVee grocery store on Agency Street in Burlington, Iowa every Tuesday. Your drink is not included.

Sisyphean Task: Pushing Pebbles into the Pacific

December 28, 2009: threatened Esplanade Avenue apartment building, revealing new loss of land at the top of the bluff.

Crane on Esplanade swings over adjoining building with a load of boulders for the beach.

The crane swings out over the bluff.
It starts its descent.


A bit farther down.

We're almost there.

The empty container goes up for another load.
Meanwhile, toward the south of the disappearing Esplanade bluff, the fight goes on to shore up the coast near the Esplanade/Manor Drive intersection.
A longer view toward the south.

Does anyone think that the progress of the mighty Pacific Ocean will be impeded by such pebbles cast into the surf?



Beach Watch Online Query System

New! Beach Watch Online Query System:

Sixteen years of biological data from 41 beaches in North-Central California are now available through the launching of the new Beach Watch online query system. The Beach Watch shoreline-monitoring program is a public-private partnership of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association. Beach Watch was founded in 1993 and covers the outer coast of central California between Bodega Head in Sonoma County through Año Nuevo State Reserve in San Mateo County, as well as beaches inside Tomales Bay and Bolinas Lagoon. Along each beach segment, live bird and marine mammals are counted, dead vertebrates are documented, human and dog activities are recorded, and data are collected on oil and tarball abundance and distribution, vegetation/algae wrack, invertebrates, and stream and lagoon status (opened or closed to the ocean). The online query system allows public access to data on live birds and marine mammals and dead vertebrates. Users can choose different filters and groupings to view the data; for example, the data can be queried for specific species, by individual beaches, or for a particular date range. The data are summarized and can also be displayed in graph form.
 Shannon Lyday
 Ecosystem Monitoring Manager
 Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association
 P.O. Box 29386
 San Francisco, CA 94129
 (415) 561-6625 x302
Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary: 25 years of protecting our ocean wilderness beyond the Golden Gate

Iowa in Winter: It's for the Birds

Life in Iowa is "for the birds" this time of year. Either you watch them or kill them [duck hunting]. The bird in flight (above) is an immature eagle. The turkey vultures have flown south because most carrion is in cold storage now.
(I understand that when they flew out they were limited to one personal item and one carrion.) Bald eagles can't take the Canadian winters, so they come down for winter holiday on the western shore of the Mississippi River (below) in southeastern Iowa. (Where even Canadians are welcome. I guess Iowa doesn't have a hockey team or something.) Our sunrises are punctuated by gunfire at official sunrise. It's a little surreal. Like I imagine living in a country next door to the United States must be. Just the way I like it. Back to work—In Iowa.



Help Protect Linda Mar Beach's Snowy Plovers

The tiny snowy plover (above) has lost most of its natural habitat along the coast. But a few of these endangered shorebirds still call Pacifica State Beach at Linda Mar home. On the fourth Sunday of each month, volunteers spend an hour or two to restore native plants so that plovers can raise their chicks. Plovers eat worms and small crustaceans in the wet sand but have little protection from people and dogs other than camouflage. When they have to fly away to protect themselves, they can’t eat and care for their vulnerable chicks. Last year, volunteers saw about 20 endangered plovers in the dunes. If you see the birds, watch them from a safe distance and keep your dogs on leash. The snowy plover has been listed as an endangered species for a dozen years. To help snowy plovers, meet at the Portola Statue in the Community Center parking lot, Highway 1 at Crespi Drive, fourth Sunday of every month at 10 a.m. If you come late, look for us on the beach between the dunes and the highway, a little to the north. If you are bringing a group, please email Bill Collins at

Opinion: Health Reform Bill "Unconstitutional"

Open letter to my elected representatives in Washington: I seldom agree with Republicans, but they are right (for reasons other than what they cite) in calling the U.S. Senate's health care reform bill unconstitutional. Requiring me to give money to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, which clearly are trying (often quite successfully) to steal the government from the American people, is against the spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution. These powerful corporations have purchased many hours of media time and many hundreds of column inches to disseminate lies and propaganda so that they might retain control over the American health care system. Now we have no public option to provide them any competition, and we will be required by law to do business with these enemies of American health and increase their war chest so that in the continuing fight for a public option the American people will (even if we are scraping together as much of our discretionary income as we can to support a public option, we will be required by law to finance the industry that is the cause of our health care problems. The finished bill needs a public option. If not that, we need to make it illegal for the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries to lobby, advertise, or engage in any activity that is even remotely political.


Gooey Greasy Gobbler Guts @ Park Mall

I don't know how big a deal it is, but it sure smells bad. One of the Chinese restaurants over here at Park Mall left a big container of used cooking grease out in the parking lot yesterday that was subsequently run over and spread all over the parking lot. Police came to check it out, which resulted in bleach being poured on it and then hosed into the drains. Yucky.


[a real person whose name was changed to protect the innocent]

Opinion: Pooches Pollute More Than SUVs

"Green" dog owners will be stunned by this carbon-footprint factoid: owning a dog is twice as polluting as owning an SUV, including the energy it took to manufacture the car. To confirm this, New Scientist magazine asked John Barrett of the Stockholm Environment Institute in York, England, to calculate eco-prints based on his own data. The results were essentially the same: READ IT AND WEEP. The market for "green" pet food surely will (and should) ramp up over this one. Is this going to affect cap-and-trade for the United States when Third World countries beat us over the head about how many pets we have? Whatever the outcome, this is going to upset a lot of people, including my family, which is very "green" and has pets.