Friday, April 25, 2008

Recession 2.0

Back when we were first inflicted with Bush Co., we got bombed and dove straight into a recession. Fear was in the air, yet there were signs in shop windows, "America, Open for Business". There was our Fearless & Feckless W telling us to buck-up and go shopping.

5 years later, our shopping bills seem to be coming to roost. We bought, we re-financed, we exploded the National Debt as well as the Trade Deficit. We spent on war, we spent on new surveillance products to help our government spy on us, oh, I mean the terrorists. And now Bush is about to bumble his way to a career in speaking engagements, or maybe he'll just have books ghost-written for him, as his English ain't so hot.

Either way, Recession 2.0 feels much scarier than 2002. Maybe I just didn't know what damage we could do to our economy & environment and now I do. I've lived through 3 downturns since graduating high school (I set that as when I became coherent that I wasn't the center of the universe), so why does this feel so much more frightening?

I've been trying to separate out the factors. The Media seems to hype things up. That could be a factor in there not being much other news - so all the details of the economic downturn are magnified. It could be that Greg and I started that business and hits to the market can directly be felt in our business. There just seem to be so many dark danger signs: China, with America, are plowing through our oil reserves and bringing gas to an astronomical price. There have been food riots in places where the price of bread or rice has tripled.

I keep looking at what could be good about it all. Higher gas prices means we all start to buy local and the trade deficit drops. We build more sustainable local economies that don't poison the environment and lessen the impact on our world. That in turn both improves the environment and could help chill out the middle east problems. (on a digression - I'm reading a fascinating book about Saudi Arabia that Andre gave me a couple years ago. The insights into the cultural thought process, dress, and religion are fascinating.) Oil prices hit the tipping point on fossil fuels and we find new renewable energy resources.

We should learn from Recession 1.0 and build a sound recovery instead of the house of cards that Bush built.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Channel Islands - Prisoner's Harbor

Saturday we were a little apprehensive about going back to Santa Cruz Island. We had shivered through Friday and weren't sure we wanted another day in the fog with nearly identical scenery. But we were down there and had reservations and multiple layers of clothes, so we dutifully bundled up and headed out.

When checking in at the dock, we were warned that the crossing would be slightly rough. Hmm, all I could think was that I was glad I had my ear patch. My mom decided to hold off on breakfast until we were on the way. Since it was Saturday, the routes had changed slightly. The boat was to make 2 stops - first at Scorpion Anchorage (where we were the day before) and then continue on to Prisioner's Harbor. And this time, to take the walk we wanted - over to Pelican's bay - we'd have to sign a sheet to get a permit and stick with the Island Packer's Guide on our hike. Fine, we figure - we did want to do the hike into the Nature Preserve portion of the Island.

The boat was crowded and we had to share our table with 2, seeminly nice people. They were a couple on a trip, from what we could understand, they were with a high school group and they were living in LA, but Korean. They did appear to be part of a group of 30 or so Korean people, however, the group was similar to our seat mates, being made up mostly of late 40 year old couples, and distinctly lacking teens. While they were with us, I did ponder this slightly, but the poor woman didn't do well on the rough water and they spent a good portion of the crossing feeding the fishes.

I had brought along my New Yorker and started out reading and nibbling on a lemon scone. Mom was focused on seeing large marine mammals and was encouraged as the fog had lifted a bit, and she could see for miles. As we topped the waves and dove into their troughs, it wasn't long before I lost my ability to focus on the article I was reading about the possible death of the penny. To calm myself, I noticed that the crew didn't look scared. I bolstered myself by thinking of how they had probably seen rougher seas, and this was just an average day. The guy working the galley explained that the wind had pushed off the fog, giving us a clear day and rough seas. Quite a trade-off.

We got to the harbor, off-loaded most of the passengers and gained an interesting party of 3. As it turns out it was a husband, wife & son from Santa Cruz who had been camping on the Island and were spending the last day on the Prisoner's Harbor side. They were nice. They joined us on the hike. The sun was uber-nature boy, he could recognize the plants and I learned that he had been sleeping under the stars the last 2 nights - sans tent. Much more rugged than I every hoped to be.

As it worked out, the sun was out by the time we landed and it was all much more picturesque. We did the hike, getting privacy on the return portion, as Mom preferred a slower pace than the group was aiming for. Thankfully that pace did get us back in time to catch the boat.

Here at the photos - some of which might seem odd. I didn't quite understand my camera and thought I was using the scenery setting, when in fact I was set to twilight:
Hiking out to Lunch
Pebble beach we passed on the way to lunch.

The Matching Jackets
Dueling Cameras with Mom
Inland View
Lunch View

Saturday ended up much better than Friday. The wilderness more remote with more foliage. After our 2nd day of trekking - we did 6.5 miles on Saturday for a total of 14 miles in 2 days - we headed to the Oyster Bar & Restaurant in the harbor. We started out with just a glass of wine and the next thing we know Mom's talking to the man on her right and the guy on my left tries to use that as an opening to talk to me. He was a more than a bit intoxicated, I was able to quickly and politely turn away when his cell phone went off. With me turned away from him, I think he though he has some privacy, as he proceeded to work out the details of a drug deal for later in the evening. I hope that worked out for him.

Back to hanging with mom and we ordered dinner. I enjoyed a big plate of crab. Though after seeing some of the Discovery Channel's The Deadliest Catch marathon, I do feel a twinge of guilt for enjoying that tasty sea bug. Mom assured me that Crab was not endanger of being over fished... and I believe her. However I did see the Cornelia Marie catch over 1 million pounds in one season. That seemed like a lot. But they are just bugs, right? The world has a lot of bugs.

We crashed again on Saturday night. Sunday we cleaned up, packed up and headed to the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum where were learned about rocks and how we did-in the Chumack Indians. And the Chumack seem like very nice Indians... mostly chilling, farming, fishing and having a good time prior to the arrival of the Missionaries. Bummer.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Back to Santa Cruz Island

Now I think I was waxing dull about eating lunch on a bluff one hundred some feet above the water. Mom and I enjoyed our Trader Joe's salads, almond packs and dried cherries together with a great view. After lunch we turned back East, then South down to the Scorpion Valley, going through the camp ground.

For those interested in following along - you can find the PDF map here:

We then started up the hill and stumbled upon an oil drill that was picturesque and well rusted. Mom was happy to arrive there, as it marked out highest ascent. On the way up she kept threatening to turn around. I just felt invigorated with the cool, foggy air and up-swept views.
We circled around the top of the ridge and then headed back down to the dock area. All in all, we hiked about 7.5 miles. Mom was exhausted, however she did rally to go into Ventura's little downtown for dinner. We totally crashed about 9:30 pm.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

One win for the Protesters

After 25 minutes of waiting amid a sea of protesters and packs of police, I have abandoned my effort to see the torch. What a bummer. The protesters just seemed to be buzzing about going from one potential ado to another with no order.

The whole thing made me sad. I think that pictures of the torch with protesters in the background would have made a clear statement. Instead, they filled the street and marched or milled about aimlessly - no photo ops as there was no torch. Today likely my only chance to see the torch in real life. Now it is gone. reports that my section of the torch route has been abandoned and left to the protesters. I got some pictures, but they don't capture the scene well.

Back to work. My lunch break is over

Free the Protest Noon Report

I just took Tsunami out for another spin. When I got to the end of the block there were fewer people than I expected. The Chinese National Crew seemed to have moved down the block closer to the ballpark and expanded. The Free-Tibet people appear to have displaced them, being the first group I came to.

I use came to loosely - as I was on the civil side of the street the protesters, flag wavers and banner holders are all on the water side. The sky has a host of small, nat-like aircraft - bringing back those annoying days & nights of the omnipotent police helicopter in Los Angeles.

Walking further on towards the ballpark, I see the Go Chinese Crew out with the big red flags. The occasionally seem to dare the Free Tibet Peace-lovers to lynch them by fearlessly walking up and down the block. The scattering of police officers both on the civil side and roaming the embarcadero going 2 by 2 for 3 or 4 pairs. One stopped me, but she was very friendly - asking what type of dog Tsunami is. No harassment or unnecessary use of battering baton.

At this point Tsunami is getting more and more fussy. She's not into the noise and general tension in the air. So I take her home around the back, avoiding the Embarcadero. As we're rounding Main going down to Spear I see a flood of incoming protesters. Something about it made my stomach turn.

20 more minutes until I try to see the torch.

San Francisco Loves a Protest

I break away from my Channel Report to describe the current situation near my house.

I'm at Spear & Harrison or, Spear & Embarcadero if you go the other way. I took my dog out for a short walk to find that people were already starting to line up along the Embarcadero with signs and banners in preparation for the Olympic torch to go by.

The torch is scheduled to start it's progress around 1 pm. At 8:45 AM we're already seeing protesters & beefed-up police patrol. I'm stuck trying to decide if working from home is better than going in. If I go in, I don't know when I'll be able to get back here. If I stay, I might get my first taste of tear gas.

I blame Tibet and that War-Monger, the 14th Dalai Lama!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Channel Islands - the Crossing

Sorry for the slow out-put of this report. Real life keeps interrupting my reporting on it.

So, Friday started off uneventful. I got up, washed, brushed & put on the multitude of layers I knew I was going to need for the day. While it did mildly pain me to wear the matching jacket, I'm glad I was through wearing it before hearing Greg's comment (upon seeing a photo of me & mom), "You look like lesbians from Kansas!" I did a quick run to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf while mom showered and came back to get mom before heading over to the dock.

The dock was the headquarters with small gift store. We check-in peruse the generic except for the logo sweatshirts, t-shirts and hats. Having applied our ear patches the night before, I have no worries about any sea sickness. Instead I have worries about the small nature of the craft I'm about to board and travel across open ocean. Despite that, we board and settle into the main cabin. I desperately send a few, "Farewell, I love you" text messages to Greg and generally feel excited as we head out the harbor.

My mom keeps watch over the crossing for whales and dolphins. I sip the coffee flavored water mom bought me. An hour later and no marine mammal sightings later we're at the Scorpion Harbor landing on the East corner of Santa Cruz Island.
We linger at the dock end to get our obligatory ranger orientation which is the standard "Stay on Trails; Take only photos; Leave only foot prints" lecture coupled with an invitation for a nature & history hike. Mom and I are keen to head off on our own.
We race up the first trail - with my GPS watch clocking us at about 20 minute miles - and get a glorious view. The weather was quite foggy and, despite the matching, I was glad to have the rain coat. Photo is from the initial ascent.

We circle around the Cavern Point Trail and head to Potato Harbor.

On the way we see a fox on the opposite hill and then it comes towards us. It passes at about 10 feet from us. It checks us out and moses on. Clearly we aren't foxy enough for its tastes.

We make it to Potato Harbor. Only once we arrive do we realize that it is an overlook - no beach access. So we paused on the cliff top and enjoyed lunch while watching 3 kayaks paddle around below. The kayaks aren't terribly visible with the small photo size.

More soon.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Channel Islands - the road trip

Thursday morning I set out from the loft, sans-a-doggie, for a trip to the Channel Islands. My mother has always wanted to visit the islands and I thought it would be a fun mother-daughter bonding. We hadn't taken a trip together since our jaunt from Albuquerque to Los Angeles in May of '06. Tsunami stayed with Greg for some Papa-Puppy bonding.

I set off about 8:30 AM and head to the Orchid Spa, better known as White Oak Orchids. We dropped off some plants that needed better love than we can provide. I visited my lycaste orchid which is actually some other type of orchid, according to the nice spa attendants. However, I had let to go too far and it was hanging on by a dear leaf. I'll pray for it.

Once the plants were settled, off down highway 1 to my Mom's. Quick arrival and departure, with me learning that the spare water-proof jacket had a camouflage pattern that, if caught in a New England forest, would make me impossible to see. See, she had ordered one for herself and then found it wasn't water-proof. So she called & complained, they said that it was a fluke and sent her another. Since, I don't have rain/drizzle gear, I was borrowing her 2nd jacket. Boy did we make a team, mom & daughter dressed in brown hiking boots, deep blue denim and matching maple forest camouflage jackets. You could tell I was me, as I was wearing a hat.

But that is getting ahead of ourselves - that was our outfit today. Yesterday, we took 101 and flew down the coast in a vain attempt to reach the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History before it closed. I blame our stop at a Mexican joint in King City for our delay. Regardless, it was a beautiful drive. California is filled with lush and beauty.

When we hit Goleta, we realized there was no way we were going to make the museum, so we stopped at the Sterling Preserve - a new park that mom read about in Sunset magazine and wanted to see. It was low on wildflowers - as was Santa Cruz Island, however we made due. I got to practice more with my nifty new watch toys. Greg generously gave me a GPS tracking watch for my walk-a-half-marathon training. Mom gave me a heart rate monitor watch for the same reason. I love both. When I go walking, I will be wearing both - see photo below.

The southern sun was warming and delightful. We did 1.8 miles in 39:53. Not up to my goal - staying below 15 minute miles.

Our next stop was Trader Joe's - for hiking food supplies. Then to the hotel, La Quinta - which is clean and utilitarian. And finally over to the harbor for a dinner at Milano Cafe or something like that. All fine and dandy. Early to bed to get ready for today's trip to Santa Cruz Island.

Bed time - we'll save the Santa Cruz Island stories of the traveling DeLano Twins for tomorrow.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


This year, for my birthday, Greg took me down to Carmel. We left mid-day on Friday, a little later than expected and dropped sweet Tsunami off with Mom. Mom was very excited about her weekend of dog sitting.

Off again, down the coast and we got hungry around Santa Cruz. I recalled how my mom and I had eaten in Capitola a year ago after our kayak trip in Elkhorn Slough. I tried to guide us there, however, we turned to Google Maps, after several wrong turns and a trip back up the coast. We found Capitola's cuteness slightly damped by the drizzle and took refuge in the Margaritaville. Maybe not the best choice, as the food wasn't special and the service seemed to want training. But we were back out on the road before long.

Heading on South we hit yawnville on our approach to Sand City and pulled off to get some coffee. I was so excited to head south, we soon jumped back in the car for the last 15 minutes of trip.

We arrived in the rain and didn't have any trouble finding our hotel, The Wayfarer Inn. The room was better than expected, with a fireplace that was controlled by the room temperature. We'd slide the guide up to 70 and, poof, the fire would come-on. Before leaving, slide back down to 60 so the fire would go out. Very find and dandy, until 2 AM when then thing kicks back on and suddenly the room is romantic & aglow.

Greg was under the impression that Carmel was closer to San Diego's temperature than San Francisco. The first night, on our way out for a nightcap, we realized he didn't have a jacket. I only had a light coat. We both were cold throughout the weekend, but made the best of it.

Saturday started out gray but we forgot about it with our super yummy breakfast. We choose a place that looked local and decided to share. He ordered Eggs Benedict with crumbled Italian sausage. I got a blueberry waffle. The Benedict was super savory. The waffle got drowned in syrup.

Next we were off to the Aquarium. I was so excited to go back. It had been nearly 10 years since I was there last. The jelly fish lived up to my memories. So magical, drifting and dangerous at the same time. How does it know to do that swimmy-thing when it has no brain. It is just a floating stomach with arms. Off to the otters, who were exceptionally cute. The only downer was my inability to stomach the children after 2.5 hours. So much yelling, screeching & crying.

It also played into my recent depression about the planet. We're messing things up pretty badly. We're taking away habitat, killing off our natural resources - I'm not going to eat fish more than once a month due to our over-fished oceans. After 2 hours in the aquarium, my hysteria had me looking for a sword to fall upon.

To cheer me up, we headed out and explored the seaside. I snapped several pictures that I have yet to upload. The best photos were from south of Carmel & the North part of the 17 mile drive. Stunning scenery. We drove the drive and stopped for lunch at the Carmel Lodge. Enjoying French Onion Soup & a hamburger - technically a cheeseburger - along with a Tap Room Ale. The service was fantastic and we wondered if we were dining among rich & famous whom we didn't recognize.

Soon after we got back to Carmel and wandered around town. Dinner was French - French Cuisine, French Service and a French style tip to match. We passed out early, about 10:30, after I drunken-dialed my mother to check on the dog. She graciously reports that I was a cheerful call and I just seemed happy.

Sunday we headed North after another exceptional breakfast. We were so lucky - there were several parties waiting, however they were all 3+ people. We got the first open table - a 2 top. This place had so many benedicts the waitress had to come back 3 times before we had made our selection. Thirty minutes later we both rolled out of there filled to the gills with eggs & sauce.

On the road, it cleared up as we drove. One little side trip to Bonny Doon. I liked some of the wines, we both disliked the chipper girl behind the counter who was pouring. She seemed to think we were jerks for not cooing over the first red we sampled. Sorry, dear, we're just not into thin reds.

Up to Mom's and a happy reuniting with Tsunami. They had a good time, but I should have brought Tsunami's sweatshirt, as she was shivering every time mom took her out. Mom is happy to Tsunami-sit anytime. Luck us!

That's it. Tomorrow I'm off with Mom. We're going back down the coast to Ventura. Friday and Saturday we'll be taking the boat over to Santa Cruz Island for day hikes. Should be good, providing my head cold doesn't turn into pneumonia when confronted with the cold sea air & my hypochondria.