Tags >> California
Jul 07
2010

Golden Gate Bridge History

Posted by Bruce Robinson in transportation , technology , speaker , ocean , history , finances , construction , coast , California , author

Bruce Robinson
gg_cover.jpgEven though we may have seen and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge many times, it’s hard not to be impressed each time by its distinctive color and historic profile. The story behind it is equally impressive.

kstarr.jpgKevin Starr,As a native San Franciscan, Kevin Starr has spent most of his life within sight of the Golden Gate Bridge, and seen it from just about every possible perspective, even from below while swimming beneath the span. But there is one vantage point he has not tried.

The building of the Golden Gate Bridge was a popular subject for photographers of the day, and many of their striking images have endured as popular posters today. Unsurprisingly, Starr has a favorite, seen below.

mn-bridge_worker_0496998673.jpg
Jul 02
2010

Bat Lady Remembered

Posted by Bruce Robinson in wildlife , trees , toxic , nonprofit orgs , farms , environment , chemicals , California , animals , agriculture

Bruce Robinson

More than 50 years ago, Patricia Winters got her first bat, and promptly fell in love with it. As an advocate for the small nocturnal flying mammals, she was known throughout the North Bay and beyond as the Bat Lady. She died of cancer at age 70 recently, but shared her enthusiasm and knowledge in an early North Bay Report from January 2006. This is a repeat of that report.

How does someone become “the Bat Lady”?  In her case, recalls Patricia Winters, it started almost half a century ago.

Bats are moderately common in North America, but far more prevalent in the tropics, where they play an essential role in propagating fruits and other crops.

 

This is a Mexican free-tailed bat in flight, one of the more common species in northern California. Because of their echolocation sounds, bats actually make a lot of noise as they fly at night, but those sounds are at pitches to high for human hearing.You can listen to the echo-location sounds of a Mexican free-tailed bat, transposed into the rage of human hearing, in this audio clip.

For contrast's sake, here is the sound of what Patricia Winters calls a microwave popcorn echo. This bat send out its sounds between a gap in ins front teeth, so that the echo will no reverberate inside its mouth.

 

The Statewide Integrated Pest Management program at UC Davis offers this online resource to guide homeowners in dealing with bats generally and  on their property.

 

Pallid bat with fresh-caught grasshopper.


There are places where thousands of bats live together in caves or underground, and emerge in great clouds as the day turns dark. Here's a video of such an emergence.

 

Jul 01
2010

State Parks Reopening

Posted by Bruce Robinson in wildlife , state government , resources , recreation , parks , government , environment , economy , California

Bruce Robinson

With the dawn of the 2010-11 fiscal year in California, the budget-driven closures of many state park facilities have ended, effective today. But how long that will last is an open question.

Western Sonoma County is blessed with a lengthy list of state park properties, especially along the coast. But that also made for a longer list of facilities that were closed, notes Michelle Luna of the Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods.


The Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, a volunteer-driven support organization for the parks of western Sonoma County, played an active role in the drive to get Proposition 21 on the ballot. Luna says budget decisions in Sacramento between now and November will likely make that issue a clear choice for voters.

 

 

Jun 30
2010

Bill Bagley

Posted by Bruce Robinson in politics , news , media , Marin , legislation , history , government , finances , economy , California , business , budget , author

Bruce Robinson

In the 1960s and 70s, California’s legislature was widely seen as a model for state governance, a far cry from the way Sacramento is viewed now. What’s changed? A former lawmaker offers his perspective

California had only half as many residents when Bill Bagley (R-San Rafael) was in the legislature (1960-74) and the business of governing was less complicated in many respects. In those days, he recalls, lobbyist-sponsored dinners and events served as the common ground for legislators from both major parties to build the social relationships they would draw upon in conducting the state’s business.


Balancing the state budget has been the overriding political consideration in California for more than a decade now, the biggest issue in the recall election that carried Arnold Schwartzenegger into office. Even so, Bagley faults the Governor for making matters worse.

Bagley, a moderate Republican, believes California’s new open primary law will help ease the partisan logjam in Sacramento, but he also sees a critical need for impartial redistricting in the state, as the current lines were deliberately drawn to perpetuate each major party’s hold on “their” districts.

Looking ahead to the November gubernatorial race in California, Bagely and another former state legislator, John Vasconcellos, have drafted a series of 20 serious policy questions they challenge Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman to answer publically.

Former Assembly Member Bill Bagley speaking at the podium, is joined by (from left to right) former Assembly Members Jim Cunneen and Fred Keeley, former Senate Republican Leader Jim Nielsen and former Senator Lucy Killea, and by former Assembly Republican Leader Michael Villines.

Promotional copy about Bill Bagley's book:

"Politics is personal," Bill Bagley likes to say, and here is a personal journey through the politics of America's most extraordinary state. California's Golden Years offers tales of cash-filled envelopes, all-night poker games, and all the free liquor a legislator could drink. But the stories and anecdotes offer more than mere fun - they illuminate a larger lesson learned during Bagley's 14 years in the California Legislature. Personal relationships are, in Bagley's view, the glue that ensures working relationships and pragmatic compromises. "Those who play together," he writes, "say together." Today, as the Golden State faces unprecedented challenges, California's Golden Years provides both a look back toward a fondly remembered era and an insider's explanation for why politics seemed to work better then than now.

 

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