Friday, March 9, 2012

Splitting Wood...

A neighbor brought by his Wood Splitter today so we spent a couple hours putting wood up for the rest of the winter. We heat this house only with wood and this is the fifth pickup full of rounds that we have cut this season. Not bad.

My progeny writes to ask if I can think of any positive things that have been created since my birthday in 1961. Now I am a dyspeptic dysthymic negative bloke of a person and the state of the world certainly leads me to more pessimism than optimism. Yes, life is good on a personal basis. I've got people who love me in my life. This house. A good job. A fairly decently working brain and a body that manages to heft me around. I've got good dogs. All those things that make for having a satisfying personal life.

And I guess we should enjoy that huh? Sure.

So some things that are better now than in 1961:

1. Science. Specifically climate scientists who have let us know precisely what will happen as CO2 and Methane are released into the atmosphere. In 1961 we had no clue.

2. The Wilderness Act of 1963 and the Alaska Wilderness Act of 1980.

3.  Solar panels and Wind turbines.

4. The Internet.

5. Environmental Groups, thousands and thousands of them, that just might save the planet.

6. Lap Top computers.

7. Really good hiking shoes.

8. Lightweight sleeping bags and tents. And you have to love how quickly and easily tents can be set up nowadays. And whoever thought of putting those little wires through tent poles so that they never get disconnected, or lost, is a genius.

9. Medicare.

10. Reliable birth control.

11. The Endangered Species Act and the EPA.

12. Dental floss and pain free dentistry.

13. Wheels on suitcases.

That's about all that I can think of. All the rest of progress doesn't really seem to add up to much.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March 7, 1961

I was born 51 years ago today. Weighing in at around 7 pounds, I weighed about as much as my head weighs now.

In March of 1961 CO2 was at 316 parts per million; in March of this year, CO2 will come in around 395 parts per million.

In March of 1961, the top Federal Income Tax Rate was 91 percent of your income; today it is 35 percent.

I was one of 183 million Americans; today I am one of 310 million Americans.

There were 3 billion people living on the planet in 1961; today there are 7 billion people.

I could expect to live 70 years in 1961. So, on average, I have 19 years left.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


A nice day here today. All the dogs got a bath. The generator got an oil change. The car got cleaned out. A few rocks were piled by the garden. A few loads of laundry got done. The kitchen floor got washed. The kitchen table got scraped down in order to refinish it. In short, one of those glorious days where you can just be outside and putter.

Then I got a call from the hospital Supervisor:

"Allan, you were on the schedule for today".

"Really, I can make it there in four hours".

Supervisor: "That's okay, we were just calling as a welfare check. Take the day off".

Six Degrees

A day of activism yesterday. First off, a rally for Jim Reed (in the photo above) who is running for Congress. Jim is a homespun Democratic candidate. He has a penchant for big gaffs. A likable fella, his politics is a combination of awe shucks ranch style populism and Berkeley lawyer sophistication. He does listen to his constituents though; when he recommended raising the Shasta Dam as a public works project, he rescinded the proposal after meeting with Chico area Enviros. Then the guy went out and opposed the Keystone pipeline cause he wants to see the pipeline oil be refined in California. A bit more education is in order. However, he had a decent turnout for Chico--around 80 folks.

Then, while the girls and Joni went to see "The Lorax", I wandered around a bit and heard a lecture on climate change at Chico State.

And speaking of climate change, I also read the best book on the subject the other day: "Six Degrees" by Mark Lynas. The book, which came out in 2008, details exactly what is expected to happen at 1 degree Celsius (where we are now), two degrees Celsius and all the way up to six degrees Celsius; a separate chapter for every degree. He also documents what can be expected with a historical flare, going back in time to eras when the Earth was six degrees warmer. Scientists agree that six degrees by 2100 is more than a possibility. The news ain't good with this sort of warming.

So far we've had a pittance of warming (0.8 Celsius) with some rather graphic consequences. As I write this, an early season "swarm" of tornadoes struck the mid-west. Out here in California, we really haven't had much of a winter; our rainfall is 1/3 the normal amount (and the lowest on record) for this rainy season. It will only get worse.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Call of the Wild...

Took the dogs out for a walk on this warm and sunny day. There is snow in the mountains from the last storm. The snow starts at around elevation 3,000 feet. We are at 2,000 feet.

Angel, the yellow lab, decided that the walk shouldn't end. She caught wind of something and off she went. The other dogs and I looked for her; called her; no use. And so I sit at this computer waiting for this beloved dog to come home. Worried.

Angel does this once and awhile. Usually with Joni; never with me. I'm not used to this notion of waiting for this dog to come home. On the walk I caught a glimpse of something running through the woods. A deer? Mountain lion? Coyote?

Gosh darn it Angel, where did you run off to? Did you decide that it was a good day for a swim and lumbered down to the swimming hole? Did you find something really stinky to roll in? Did you hear the "call of the wild"? Can't blame her for running off; it's a nice day.  A good day for sniffing and exploring and running and gallivanting and being free.

Enough! Angel come home!

*Addendum: Angel, the rascal dog, came home a few minutes after writing this. Almost like she heard me. And she brought us a gift:

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Foggy here this morning. I take our three dogs and my broken toe to do the small loop. Later today I will drive down to Chico to hear Dr. Wallace Nichols talk about the benefits of getting outside into nature.

Nothing can make you feel more civil than to get outside into the wild.