Friday, January 29, 2016

Artichokes, Rain & California


Non-Californians might want (need) to read this post more than anyone who lives out here on the western edge of civilization.

I've been back in California for a week now, one big storm was moving through as I arrived and another is just beginning to pour over us today. This is the wet season here and for the first time in four years it's wet, really wet. 

Like many out here I check the snowpack levels as the storms roll through. Much of our water comes out of the snow that accumulates in the Sierra Nevada. Right now we are at somewhere around 115% of normal for this date and 65% of normal for the end of the rainy season in April. Several reservoirs have risen 50 feet or more in the last month. The small catchments are full and are releasing excess water downstream, much to the delight of spawning fish, snail darters and kayakers.

Those in the known tell us that we would need about 150% of April normal to really put a big dent in the drought. Sure the reservoirs will fill and refill with an above average amount of spring snow. Unfortunately and short-sightedly we've been draining the deep underground aquifers to support agriculture and the snow won't replenish those any time soon (meaning not for several hundred years).

So why is this of concern for those of you in the rest of the country?

"The Calfornia Cental Valley, which stretches 450 miles between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Coastal Range, might be the single most productive tract of land in the world. From its soil springs over 240 varieties of crops so diverse that their places of botanical origin range from Southeast Asia to Mexico. It produces two thirds of the nation's produce. If you've eaten anything made with canned tomatoes, there's a 94% chance that they were planted and picked in the Central Valley." [thinkprogress.org]

Add 51% of all fruit produced in the United States, 81% of carrots, 91% of strawberries and 99% of artichokes. Estimates go as high as 70% of all 'home grown' produce that hits American tables.

In the future this production will need to shift away from here to more locally grown food. The fields of cotton in the water rich South, will be converted from that outdated and less profitable white fluff to edible crops. Smaller, local food farms will need to be encouraged and tax incentivized, just like Big Oil and Big Coal.

But for now, watch the skies. Those deep, grey clouds hanging over our heads out here, mean you get to have extra sauce on your pizza tonight. 

Oh and one more thing -- the El Nino weather pattern that is soaking the West Coast this winter is historically followed by a dry LA Nina period, which might well mean no artichoke dip in the future for you.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Where Am I? Where Have I Been?


I began the week in Austin and today I am once again gazing out at the San Francisco Bay from what has been my domicile for the last five years. I got a little road weary at the end of my five month wander. But with a few days of recovery and local cuisine, I'll be back to the task of divesting and preparing for the next chapter in life and on paper.

Where I hath layeth my head:
Sunday January 17th -- Austin, Texas
Monday January 18th -- Fort Stockton, Texas
Tuesday January 19th -- Benson, Arizona
Wednesday January 20th -- Palm Springs, CA.
Thursday January 21st -- Berkeley, CA.
Friday January 22nd -- not in a car for any reason

Friday, January 15, 2016

Austin, Texas


something, something, something; yadda, yadda, yadda; here, there and everywhere.

Yes, a bit unsettled, marginally clouded with a chance of artichokes.

But . . . you knew the job was dangerous when you took it.



As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, 
so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. 
To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. 
To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over 
the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.

Friday, January 08, 2016

My 2016 and Beyond


As some but not all of you know, I have a tendency to shake-up my life on a semi-regular basis. I have changed professions several times, okay perhaps more than several. I also relocate often. I've been in Berkeley with my spectacular view of the San Francisco Bay for five years now.

It's time to move on and try something different.

Different this time around will involve going Undomiciled. I am giving up the Berkeley apartment and not replacing it with another homestead. Thank-you to my treasured friend Mira for allowing me to stay so long.

I am working on a book: Undomiciled: How to be the Perfect Long-Term Houseguest.

So my next move is really just research. I will be splitting my time between friends here in the Bay Area, long-longtime friends up in Mt. Shasta, plus extended stays in Michigan and back at The Villages in Florida, where I have been the last several months. Minnesota, Massachusetts, Virginia and several other incursions are also possible.

As of right now, I am in Biloxi, Mississippi with several of my poker buddies. After a long weekend of Texas Hold'em and camaraderie, I will be making several visits in Texas followed by a meandering drive that will take me to Los Angeles before returning to Berkeley. Thence to pack and further divest myself of accumulated stuff, before venturing off into an Undomiciled lifestyle.

Wish me luck, safe travels and please no more veiled questions about my sanity or lack thereof.