Monday, May 31, 2010

USE Arundo

My friend Lindenfir, who has even more trouble with his TypePad blog than I have with this one (& that's sayin' sompin!), wrote the following to the California Invasive Plant Council, and copied to me.

Good ideas as usual, and applicable far beyond California:

Just read your article on Arundo donax/Giant Cane, then read up on the species elsewhere. I am dismayed and alarmed by MONSANTO and the idea of introducing foreign species (not counting Angora goats, as long as they're competently herded) to "take care of" Arundo or any other invasive. Monsanto is about as benign to our world as staphlococcus, and the history of trying to combat one noxious invasive by introducing its predator has generally been one of disaster.

Since Giant Cane has so many uses, including as a biomass fuel source and probably for pulp, fiberboard, wood polymer product material. bamboo-like flooring and panelling, etc., and since trying to rip it out can destroy habitat and cause erosion, IT SHOULD BE HARVESTED.

Imagine boats and land vehicles equipped with cutters that could "give a buzz cut" to stands. The canes, sans seed-heads, could even be left fallen (some perhaps staked or palisaded) in crushing heaps over the stumps, and this serve as a base for an overlay of soil that might be planted with native willow, alder, ash, maple, sycamore, walnut, elder, lodgepole pine, dogwood, etc., and smaller fare like native rushes, berries, oxalis and ferns, Jussiaea, Duckweed, wild grape, etc. This sort of method might also work in cases of some other alien invasives, like Tamarisk. I'd bet that, given this sort of chance, willow and wild grape could give a really good fight against the bully invaders! In damp places with North-facing canyon walls or other protection from sun and wind, good-sized native (or even not quite, like the magnificent Ahuehuete) Taxiodiaceae might even be planted.

I also wonder about things like harvesting water hyacinths, ivy, and kudzu for biomass (they have other little-exploited values, as well), and whether "beheading" milk thistle and dropping native seed - or even commercial grain - into their wet, hollow stems could serve as a moist "nursery" for those seeds to put forth roots and take over.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

General Butler's WAR IS A RACKET   (go to this link for Wikipedia's in-line hyperlinks & more).   ~snips:

War Is a Racket is the title of two works, a speech and a booklet, by retired U.S. Marine Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, one of only 19 people to be twice awarded the Medal of Honor, in which Butler frankly discusses from his experience as a career military officer how business interests have commercially benefited from warfare.

It contains this key summary:

"War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

In another often cited quote from the book Butler says:

"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents." *

See also:

Arms industry

Military-industrial complex

Perpetual war

Free online text:
Curiously, I came to these things after reading overwraught scorn against overwraught allegations at:  huh!
*p.s. By way of folk of these sort, the PBS documentary on last night, The Legend of Pancho Barnes, suggested that Barnes and other 'Powderpuff Derby aviatrixes' believed they may have sabotaged by oilman Erle Halliburton. ; more cool stuff at:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Don't Go Where They're Out To Get You!

Today's news has featured Americans beguiled and beleagured by drug-gang rule in Mexico and Jamaica, and 'DETAINED' in Yemen and Iran.  Three chums, two guys and a girl, imprisoned in Iran tried to hike across the Iran-Iraq border a couple of years ago and were imprisoned on suspicion of espionage.  You can blame Iran for a lot, but I can't see blaming them for this.  At least they were giving these kids credit for some kind of mental sanity.  The trio did not claim to be on a humanitarian or archaeological mission, nooooooooooo, they were hiking.  Because there are no good hiking places in North or South America, Europe or the Antipodes?  Because they were already living in Syria?  Now we find that two of the three want to get married and the other boy will act as best man.  Awwwww..........$#!  They want to get out and 'start a family' .  What would this world be if all those who had more dollars than sense - or just, the awesomely STUPID - were 'spayed or neutered'???          

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Carlsbad's Trails

I got onto this after seeing the delightful Huell Howser* (that invaluable resource and California's Golden Guy) piece, recently, on The Leo Carrillo Ranch State Historic Park - not to be confused with Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu.  I'm old enough to remember Leo Carrillo as an actor and generally beloved celebrity, but hadn't known till now much of anything of the great deeds and accomplishments of Mr. Carrillo himself, or of his vast mingled pedigree of California pioneer aristocrats.  For some Carrillo & family info, try:

~But here's the link that will take you to a page giving out Carlsbad's admirable efforts and venues for nature-strollers and such:



Sunday, May 9, 2010

Deranged Maps - SG Bikeway

(And you thought Thomas Bros. were bad!)

I sent this to :

You might want to warn folks that the Google map for the Mid San Gabriel River Bikeway ('Gateway Cities') area is seriously deranged.

The area around Santa Fe Springs includes a quite fictional 'Little Lake City' (more than a century ago, before the devastation brought by the explosive discovery of OIL at once was a garden spot and spa that had been sacred to the native Tongva, there was a 'Little Lake' miles to the SSE of this imaginary city, and various things, some of them on the long-drained lake bed, remain named after it: Lake Center Middle School on Clarkman Avenue between Jersey and Pioneer will give you an idea); this is what actually should be called West Whittier (unincorporated LACO area; old locals called it 'Whittier Downs') / Los Nietos (a section of SFS; old people called the riverbank part of it Cantaranas='singing frogs'). Nor is there another 'Los Nietos' around the intersection of Whittier and Beach boulevards. ...Nor an alternate world portal 'Norwalk La Mirada' northwest of Lakewood, nor an alternate Lynwood above the real Monrovia! Sheeeeesh...

Completely unaccountable are the names 'Evergeen' for the (popularly known as:) 'Five Points'- intersection of Washington Boulevard, Santa Fe Springs Road, Whittier Boulevard, La Cuarta Street and Pickering Avenue under the old Union Pacific Railroad bridge (now part of the Whittier Greenway Trail*), and 'Isantacogna' 'bout where Lincoln and Durfee Avenues met up with San Gabriel and Rosemead Boulevards - this notoriously haunted spot being Whittier Narrows and the site of the original SG Mission. Maybe da ghosties made up something with Latin words tricked to ersatz resemblance with Shoshonean placenames!

'La Habra' (nobody says 'La Habra City'), 'South Pasadena' 'Monrovia' and 'Mountain View' exist and thrive in Southern California, but far from those places listed on the map.

*Of good intentions but poor planning: Running along a section of defunct UPRR track, its western end, in shameful absurdity, does not extend across Pioneer and the 605 Freeway to the SGR Bikeway (FYI, the section of Pioneer here is cut off from other portions; stay on the river or Norwalk Boulevard if you want to go north or south without wretched double-backing). There is no decent or legal access at any portion of the former tracks except at on-the-flat intersections. The ramp on the east side of the bridge over Norwalk Blvd. is an idiotic waste of money: You have to go down El Rancho Drive nearly to Palm Park to reach the bottom of the ramp...Where you no longer need it, especially - and I speak as an elderly pedestrian crippled by many things, stumping along with a cane - if you wanted to go west (as I last checked, no legal access west of Norwalk Blvd). in which case would mean doubling back! There is no legal access anywhere about the 5 Points bridge... Which of course means much unsanctioned embankment-scaling and fence-hopping by otherwise law-abiding frustrated pedestrians, or even those who more dangerously struggle with wheels. The Greenway Trail is thus nearly useless to those who might want to access most thoroughfares and adjacent destinations along it. It runs from Pioneer west of Danby in the NW to the crossing of the Southern Pacific RR tracks between Gunn and Mills in the SE.

I dread to think how many other mistaken elsewheres may be presented on Google Maps!

Nice of them to have those park listed in the Puente Hills - however, at this time, some of them are just trails restricting bikes, doggies and wandering offtrail. 'Sycamore Park' is actually 'Sycamore Canyon Trail' and the entrance is very easy to miss: On Workman Mill (an extension of Norwalk Blvd. between Whittier Narrows / the 605 and the W end of the Puente Hills; conjunctive to Puente Avenue) between Strong Avenue and Rose Hills Memorial Park Gate 17. The vast cemetery is a triumph of pre-EPA contouring and irrigating of formerly very rugged, 'quaked and eroded hills. Sycamore Canyon Trail gives you, among other interesting things, a View to the Past (far from pristine: Whether we're talking about the mini oil refinery near the head of the trail -don't take the righthand trail toward it; you'll have to go back - or nasty invasive milk thistle, or the more-dollars-than-sense ricos whose big houses hang from the cliffs) exemplified by a peek at the Rose Hills Sign from its otherwise hidden aspect at the edge of a precipitous cliff.

There's a switchback path-let up the southern side of the canyon to Hellman (yeah, I know -snark- right next to the cemetery where 'Bank of Hell' grave-offering notes sometimes take the breeze, and to [the 'Net-originated 'old legends' of creepy stuff along the] Skyline Drive Fire Road... But it's a pioneer's name; some will remember the ice-cream-truck-style vending of delicious fresh Hellman's Bakery goods 'to your door') Wilderness Park. This trail is not for wheels or those unprepared for a longish steep slippery climb with poison oak 'n' scratchy stuff. Not for rainy or hot weather times.

Hikers should always dress protectively, including gloves and brimmed hat, have stick and water, lite quasi-med / first aid-y things & small tools - a 'multi-pliers', for instance - (carried so your hands are free); things like shades, gum. pens, etc., are also good. Cell phones if you have 'em, but don't rely on them in steep canyons! Paths in these trail-lands are often extremely deceptive, and trails badly marked if at all. You may end up having to slow-slide down hundreds of feet of hill on your be-hind. REALLY. A chair-cushion- sized disk of cardboard or some such thing might be a knapsack/bag item, bizarre as it seems!


Something really need to be done to make the west side of the SGR Bikeway 'through' and accessible from the bridge crossings. Downey is especially rotten about this (and crosswalks are 'waaaay off. I wonder if their ever-locked access gates are legal? Foot access to streamsides used to be one of those English Common Law derived RIGHTS.