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November 2010
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January 2011

December 2010

Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Project



In 2005, two sisters from Australia who were living in Los Angeles combined their concern for the Great Barrier Reef and their love of handicraft art by creating a coral reef replica entirely of crocheted yarn. Eventually their fabric arts project grew beyond a coffee table size and into a large traveling exhibition to such places as the Smithsonian Institution. It also inspired a worldwide crafts movement. Local groups of crafters in many cities have started their own "satellite reef" projects for hometown displays. The technique for creating the reef creatures is detailed in the downloadable online pamphlet: HOW TO CROCHET HYPERBOLIC CORALS

Instructions on how to start a community crochet coral reef crafters' group is here: MAKE YOUR OWN


Wacky Leaks: Storm-Caused Sewage Spills Close Bay Area Beaches, but Warnings Slow to Come



Ocean Beach in San Francisco was closed to surfing several days ago. A concerned Riptide reader checked with numerous city, county, state, and federal agencies to ask if a system were in place to warn Bay Area residents during announced, documented sewage overflows. He says that initially no agency seemed to know anything about sewage spills, beach closures, or areawide warnings. But now that the media have reported on it, public information finally has "leaked out."


Assemblyman Jerry Hill Sponsors AB 45: Regulate "Booze Cruise" Party Buses


Assemblyman Jerry Hill has introduced Assembly Bill 45 to require operators of popular "booze cruise" party buses to ascertain if they have passengers under 21 and read a statement that says consuming alcohol on board is unlawful. Passengers under 21 would have to sign the statement. Bus drivers who break the law would be subject to fines starting at $2,000 for a first offense and license suspensions or revocations and misdemeanor criminal charges for further violations. If any underage passenger drinks alcohol, the driver would be required to terminate the ride and return passengers to the pickup location. Assemblyman Hill, whose legislation (AB 1601) cracking down on repeat DUI offenders was signed this year by the governor, joins parents and law enforcement officials in discouraging underage drinking and encouraging responsible driving this holiday season and throughout the year. AB 1601, which goes into effect January 1, 2012, authorizes judges to revoke a license for 10 years for persons convicted of three or more DUIs in a 10-year period. Current law allows only for a license revocation period of three years for someone with three or more DUIs.
Aurelio Rojas, communication director for Assemblyman Jerry Hill, 916-747-3199 cell or 916-319-2019 office

Extremely Rare Black Fawn Sighted in Linda Mar

Driving up Linda Mar Boulevard in a downpour December 14, Scott McKellar slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting cars stopped for a doe and her black fawn headed down into San Pedro Creek where it crosses under the boulevard. Appropriately, this occurred at the exact location of the "deer crossing" sign on the 1600 block of Linda Mar. Excited, Scott rushed home and went online to research black fawns, finding that only one other such fawn has been reported west of the Rockies, and that was in Ramona, California, northeast of San Diego. Scott says he will pay $100 to the first person to post a GENUINE photo of the Linda Mar black fawn here on Pacifica Riptide. Scott is calling the fawn "Star." (A lump of coal to Steve Sinai and Rocky Golub, respectively, for their funny submissions below. We told them to get the front page of a newspaper in the picture next time.)


U.S. Senate Passes Shark Conservation Act

After years of hard work, I'm happy to announce that the U.S. Senate just passed the Shark Conservation Act, which will end shark finning in U.S. waters. Shark fin soup is an expensive dish that drives the shark finning trade, but the role sharks play in marine ecosystems is priceless. By improving shark conservation, the U.S. is improving overall ocean health. Each year, commercial fishing kills more than 100 million sharks worldwide, including tens of millions just for their fins. The requirement to land sharks whole, as well as a new prohibition on the transfer of fins at sea, will help end shark finning by U.S. fishing vessels. The House still has to pass the Shark Conservation Act before it becomes law, but I didn't want to wait to share this exciting news.



Prevent Oil Spills: Avoid Pain in the Drain

Turkey Fryer_BAPPG
Frying a turkey this holiday season? The Bay Area Pollution Prevention Group has placed stickers on turkey fryer boxes sold at Home Depot and Orchard Supply Hardware to remind residents not to pour leftover grease and cooking oil down sinks and drains. Doing so causes sewer system backup. Check out BAY WISE for a list of free fat, oil, and grease drop-off locations around the Bay Area.

Senator Yee: Don't Buy Violent Video Games

Citing potential harmful effects on minors, child psychologist and Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/Pacifica) urges parents, relatives, and friends to avoid violent video game purchases for children this holiday season. “It is vitally important that parents and grandparents consider the content in video games before making holiday purchases,” said Yee. “There is significant evidence demonstrating ultra-violent video games have negative effects on children, and can cause real behavioral changes.” Several studies by the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, and American Psychological Association conclude that adolescents who play violent video games may become increasingly aggressive over time.

Yee’s 2005 law to prohibit the sale of extremely violent video games to minors in California is currently being litigated and under consideration by the Supreme Court of the United States. Another law, also authored by Yee in 2004, requires retailers to post signs to inform consumers about the video game rating system, which indicates the age-appropriateness of the games.

Earlier this year, Yee joined the California Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, California, in submitting a Supreme Court brief of amicus curiae or “friend of the court.” In the legal brief, Yee and the health organizations detailed the compelling evidence considered by the Legislature and the governor in approving the law, as well as several more recent studies that show similar results. Along with the amicus brief, more than 100 leading researchers, scientists, and scholars from around the world endorsed a statement: “Overall, the research data conclude that exposure to violent video games causes an increase in the likelihood of aggressive behavior. The effects are both immediate and long term…Violent video games have also been found to increase aggressive thinking, aggressive feelings, physiological desensitization to violence, and to decrease pro-social behavior.”

Yee urges adults to consider the following before purchasing video games for kids:
• Be aware of advertising and marketing to children. Advertising pressure contributes to impulse buying.
• Check the age ratings and video game descriptors found on the box. Read other reviews, such as, and
• Become familiar with the game.
• If there are violence and sexual themes in the title or cover picture, assume these themes are also in the game.
• Avoid “first person shooter” and “third person shooter” games, which usually focus on gunning down hundreds of targets.
• Discourage games that reward the player with more points or new scenes for antisocial and violent behavior.

Several media sources urge parents to avoid these violent video games: Call of Duty: Black Ops, God of War III, Fable III, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Mass Effect 2, BioShock 2, Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, Red Dead Redemption, Army of Two: The 40th Day, Dante's Inferno, and Fallout: New Vegas.

Ode to Pumpkins, Persimmons, and Pomegranates

Ever take a cooking pumpkin (like an apple blossom type) cube it up, douse it with tangerine juice, zap it with some fresh grated ginger and a light sprinkling of cinnamon, then toss it in a nice hot oven with a couple of  Fuyu persimmons cut into halves and laid face down in the pan,  and then roast it all until the edges got just a little brown, and it perfumed your entire house?

No? Well, you might want to give that a rip, because when you do, and then run everything through the mill once things cool down,  not only do you get a metaphor for how life has felt lately, but the resulting spicy, tangy pulp is just plain a gorgeous color, and it makes a surprising and intriguing base for all kinds of yummy pumpkiny goodness, with a mysterious kick that will sure have the pie purists all atwitter. This stuff makes a pumpkin pie worth the caloric cost of the crust, if you ask me. It also makes a most tasty muffin ingredient, which when topped with a lovely jewel of pomegranate jelly is about enough to make my Auntie Bits miss the early service of a Sunday.

Take that same stuff and add a soupcon of fine white pepper and some minced, sauteed shallots, and you have a memorable and envy inspiring ravioli filling. Toss them in a little bit of almond oil that you have crisped seom sage in, then top them with a few pomegranate arils, and you have quite an Autumn Poem-on-a-Plate.

Actually, I cannot be bothered with making ravioli very often. My fundamental (pick one) laziness, lack of time management skills, confused ethnic heritage prevent me from enjoying that task very often, but not too long ago I made a layered dish of fresh pasta, this pumpkin/oniony loveliness, dollops of goats cheese (a perfect foil for the sweetness of the squash) and topped with almonds toasted with sage. Dang. It was really, really good, and went down quite smoothly with a pile of Little Gem lettuces, a chunk of sourdough, and a pretty little tumbler  of Viognier. I am pretty sure I missed church that day, too. But I did say my prayers, and they were certainly answered.

Erin Tormey
Coastside Farmers' Markets

Rep. Jackie Speier Votes No on Tax Bill

Thank you for your call urging me to oppose the deal worked out behind closed doors between the President and Republicans in Congress to extend all of the Bush tax cuts for two more years, including those for the highest-end earners making more than $1 million in income. I agree with you: this decision is not only fundamentally unfair to the majority of Americans struggling to make ends meet in a tough economy, but it is also fiscally reckless and it is a bad deal for our country, which is why I proudly voted against the bill.

I also signed a letter along with more than 50 of my colleagues to Speaker Nancy Pelosi clearly opposing any decision to accept an extension of the tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires—even for two years. Doing so will add almost $130 billion to our national debt, an unconscionable waste that sends a terrible signal as we work to reduce the deficit in a careful and balanced manner. Moreover, the agreement that was reached without the consultation of many members of Congress flies in the face of our responsibility to protect the majority of Americans in the middle class and those working hard every day to get there. I supported extending tax cuts in full to 98 percent of American taxpayers, as stated in the letter and as initially proposed by the President. As of January 1, 2011, without an extension of these cuts, everyone would have faced a tax increase – and that would have slowed our economic recovery and placed an additional burden on too many Americans.

The tax cut deal that Congress passed does include measures I strongly support, including an extension of unemployment insurance for up to 99 weeks for the long-term unemployed, increased tax credits for working families, and essential clean energy tax credits and grant programs. But the relatively small benefits to workers and the economy offered by this package do not justify the gross debt burden we are placing on our children and grandchildren. I believe the unprecedented payroll tax credit is destined to threaten the future financial solvency of Social Security and play into efforts to privatize this essential program.

If we cannot find the political will to make the hard decisions now, I am not confident we will find it two years from now. I believe it is time to take a stand and call on all Americans, and particularly those who are most well-off, to accept that our current fiscal path is unsustainable. That is why I chose not to support a tax measure that continues these fiscally reckless policies. Thank you again for sharing your views on this issue. I greatly appreciate your comments and those of the many other constituents who contact my office. I hope you will continue to call or write me in future on any matters important to you.

Jackie Speier, Member of Congress

P.S. If you would like to have more information on the work I'm doing on your behalf in Congress, I encourage you to visit my website at You also may sign up to receive my e-newsletter providing legislative and district updates. Any information you provide my office is strictly confidential and will be used by my office only to stay in touch with you.