Thursday, October 13, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Latte ☆ パンプキンスパイスラテの作り方

There are a plethora of reasons I to want to forget this year 2016, now and way on into the future. It's tough to find a way to escape all the negative news media reports and general everyday grind of this system of things. However, I found one ever so pleasant means of escape. Okay it's only about a 7 minute video, but it was worth it. 

Image - Peace Cuisine (October 2015)
Okay, I don't really know what this is, but I want one. Especially with Fall/Winter coming. Oh, & the music is ever so soothing too!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Biotech Black Ops ???

"While people Farmers were sleeping, an enemy Biotech Black Ops came and planted weeds GMO Seed among the Wheat and went away."
Matthew 13:25 (altered for illustrative purposes)
Image from
Uncanny similarity between a parable & 2013 Oregon GMO Wheat
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Of course most people have heard of the parable of the "wheat and the weeds." An enemy of a farmer sneaks into a field under cover of darkness and sows a weed called Bearded Darnel among the newly planted wheat field. The plants look almost identical to the untrained eye, but only after the plant bears fruit do the differences become evident. Same is true of the infamous non-gmo and gmo wheat incident which took place back in 2013 in eastern Oregon which created such controversial stir and economic hardship for those farmers from USA wheat boycott. Many conspiracies theories became popular of Monsanto (whose seed was identified) had hired a black ops type of operation to contaminate the wheat supply which would have eventually made all wheat GMO. Stories even surfaced of Monsanto having bought the infamous Blackwater mercenary company. This would seem plausible given the total tonnage of monies dumped into legal teams, public relation and damage control websites, media outlets and PR Firms over the years. Frankly, if such an covert operational undertaking did take place (I have no idea the truth of this conspiracy), I highly doubt it would look like the photo image at the upper right here, because it would be more of a hired individual looking like a backpacker hiking through the countryside or some migrant looking farm hand with a small pouch of seeds causally sprinkling gmo seed here and there. Monsanto themselves were quick to blame some rogue GMO Activists for trying to give Monsanto a bad name and reputation in the GMO wheat seeding scandal. But seriously, does Monsanto really need outsiders to sully their reputation ? Eventually however, Monsanto settled the lawsuit case brought against them, but the mystery just won't go away. This GMO wheat was also found in a agricultural field of Montana State University back in 2014 and recently has now been reported in fields of the state of Washington this past July 2016. Coincidence ?

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Reuters: USDA confirms unapproved GMO wheat found in Washington state
For me, the incident back in Oregon 2013 when Monsanto set forth a conspiracy theory blaming ecology activists is highly unlikely. More than anything it was a smokescreen for deflecting attention away from themselves since it was their own seed. This is one of the most powerful multi-billion dollar corporations in existence. They have some of the highest tech security systems known. Does it seem reasonable that some long haired, sandal clad, bead toting eco-activists (typical description as painted by Corporate shills) could really breach the intense Monsanto security and maliciously spread seed just to give Monsanto a bad reputation ? Not likely, but then we'll really never know the truth here. In 2016 even the definition & traditionally known meaning of the word, "truth," is becoming a definition shell game. Many will dismiss this because well after all, it was only 22 or 23 plants found grouped together in one spot. Yes, but oddly enough, it was at the edge of the fields where it has the appearance of someone dumping a handful of seed (hence the plants all grouped together in the same location as opposed to being mixed within 1000s of other non-gmo seed in the mechanical planter) and quickly scurrying off before anyone notices. But how did the farmer make the discovery ? Let's go back to the other verses in that text of Matthew referenced here at the top of this post and compare:

26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.  27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’  28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.  “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’  28 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

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Of course the weeds in the parable were undetectable. Both the Bearded Darnel & Wheat and are in the grass family and in youth look identical. You need to wait until harvest when the fruit gives away their true identity. This brings to mind another text, Matthew 7:16, which says, "By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?" I've used this same observation when in the field (Bush) trying to identify various trees and shrubs. Of course with wheat and bearded darnel this would be easy, but not so with GMO Wheat and the non-GMO Wheat. They look identical from all outward appearances. The farmers in Oregon and Washington only found out they had GMOs when they used Roundup on the wheat as a desiccant which is a  practice to hurry up the harvest drying process in northern locations where the growing season is short and rains come early which damages the quality of the grain. The Roundup Ready wheat would still stand out as green and living in comparison to any dead dry non-gmo wheat. Rather than burning the wheat, these farmers turned them over to the USDA who did indeed confirm the Monsanto batch variety (MON 71700) was present. But again, what would be the point of deliberately planting GMO wheat under cover of darkness ? Infect and containate the entire wheat industry and GMO becomes normal and acceptable. No more years of time, waiting and testing. There are after all fortunes to be made and investors to answer to. Of course Roundup as a wheat pre-harvest desiccant in northern climates would seriously go out the window, so it would have been a dumb idea inserting it in such a northern locale. Apparently the black ops mission had poor not so well thought out planning. But acquiring another cereal grain monopoly no doubt was the goal. Again, with all the legalease and lobying, there really is no definitive way of proving this, but Monsanto did pay hefty fines without admitting any guilt. You know how it is, this goes on inside the corporate world all the time over and over.

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"Okay we didn't do anything, but we apologize"

Just so that everyone knows, the idea behind inserting resistent genes to Roundup in the first place was a weed herbicide strategy. Those greedy weeds outcompete wheat for nutirents, especially phosphorus. However, non-gmo wheat planted in the ground and inoculated with VAM mycorrhizal fungi have been found to outcompete weeds for phosphorus. How ? The fungi actually do this. The weeds are either not present and die or greatly reduced and stunted in growth. Mike Amaranthus of Mycorrhizal Applications Inc in Grant Pass, Oergon, said this was the feedback from his customers who were organic wheat growers. This was a major side effect and something they never anticipated when using his MycoApply for better drought resistence and nutrient uptake. Here's the full account of organic wheat growers who make a profit and therefore do not qualify under the USDA's government grain commodities welfare entitlement program.
Genetic Engineering: More ruthlessly & Ideologically driven than you can possibly fathom
Using Nature's Mycorrhizal Tool-Kit to compete with Weeds vrs killing them with Glyphosate
 Mycorrhizal Applications Inc 
"Golden Rice" - Because the Industrial Agricultural Complex cares about this world's poor children ?
Image - Wikipedia

To me this Golden Rice scheme in actual truth has been one of the most smokescreened business ventures for developing a product for the monopolizing of yet another grain commodity without jumping through the conventional hoops & hurdles of European and North American laws and regulations which could mean years. The justification is of course is that vitamin A deficiency is killing many in poorer nations, but especially children. In their worldview Golden Rice is the answer for poor nations like Philippines and Bangladesh. But their claims of Vitamin A potency and yields have thus far failed. Interestingly, the researchers the themselves have admitted the failure Genetically modified Golden Rice falls short on lifesaving promises & the fact that the study also found that GMO activists were not to blame for scientific challenges slowing it's introduction. Putting that aside, it should be noted that poor people are not livestock to be fed a cattle feed diet either. As human beings equal to those of European descent, these people are not sub-human as many of this world's intellectuals (even Nobel Laureates) would have you believe. Some  researchers have been infected with an ideology which all of us have seen on display in most of the world's college and high school Biology textbooks. Over at the pro-gmo trans-humanist eugenics website, Genetic Literacy Project, you can often read articles  calling for a kinder form of eugenics policy to lower populations in such countries. The large populations in poor countries are viewed as a drain on natural resources. Yet Biotech and Agro-Chemical proponents say they just want to feed the world. It would appear to be a sort of double standard which reveals the true reason they want GMO Rice developed for future global markets. The people (human beings) in poorer countries deserve a great variety in their diet which includes various sources of fresh fruits and vegetables for rich sources of Vitamin A like industrial nation peoples. Much like the illustration here above right. To repeat, this is more about a business model, than generosity towards the poor. That's not to say there may not be some involved in the program who are genuine, but this is how all types of businesses get things done in our world and it has been done this way for centuries. It's also things won't be getting any better in our future considering how many of the Biotechs and Agro-Chemical companies have morphed or mutated into bigger monstrosities recently. All the players involved here have huge issues historically when it comes to their historical performance regarding Bioethics.
Wall Street Journal: ChemChina-Syngenta $43 Billion Deal Approved by U.S. Security Panel
Bloomberg: Heroin, Nazis, and Agent Orange: Inside the $66 Billion Merger of the Year
 Aside from some of the infamous conduct from Bayer during World War II you may be aware of, here are a couple of gems you probably don't know about more recentlyL
CBS 60 Minutes: "Researcher Estimates 22,000 Lives Could Have Been Saved Had Trasylol Been Pulled Earlier"
New York Times: "2 Paths of Bayer Drug in 80's: Riskier One Steered Overseas"
Stuff like this folks is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. This is how our world's corporate entities work. My use of the biblical texts here was purely illustrative, not literal. But it is amazing how such common observations have been known and understood down through the centuries. I'll say it again, this year 2016 is the most strange weirdo years I have ever experienced in all my 60 years of life. How has this world become so dirty, ethically speaking ? Never has there been such a time where corruption within the world's Churches, Politics and Big Businesses come to be on such a grand bizarre scale. We are now living in the times of the new abnormal. I never use and refuse to use (which means accepting) the term "The New Normal." However, people can still make intelligent choices and yes, you do have the free will to do so when it comes to rejecting incompetent corrupt leadership irrespective of ideologically driven worldview. That brings us back to biomimicry.

Image - Mycologist Paul Stamets - bioluminescence

Biomimicry: Streamlining Innovation for Environmentally Sustainable Products

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Should Grizzly Bears be Reintroduced in California ?

A well intentioned Rewilding Movement motivated more by heart felt emotion than real world boots on the ground research based on logic and our present Climate Change reality
Photo: Craig Kohlruss

I've previously written about the disaster presently going on in California forests where millions upon millions of dead and dying conifers, oaks and other trees are the result of intense drought exacerbated by Climate Change.
Millions of dead/dying trees have nothing to do with Climate Change ???
But now there is word out that some ecology rewilding groups wish to reintroduce the Grizzly Bear back into the state of California again. The state once had a unique California Grizzly bear species, but humans forced it's extinction. I believe the last one was killed somewhere back in the 1920s. Here are some important pertinent quotes from the "Bozeman Daily Chronicle" on potential for rewilding efforts:

"The Center for Biological Diversity has collected some 20,000 signatures on an online petition urging the state Fish and Game Commission to consider studying the feasibility of reintroducing the grizzly, which is listed a federal threatened species."   
"The group also is doing social media ads for its campaign in preparation for presenting a formal petition to the commission in a few months."   
"Environmentalists call the messages part of a broader national campaign of “rewilding” areas to restore large carnivores such as bears, wolves, badgers and otters and protecting large connected habitats for them."   
"Large predators and large habitats, rewilding advocates say, are essential to keeping ecosystems healthy.
Okay, I get this. I totally understand the reasons and emotions behind the well intentioned idea. But careful forethought and planning need to be done before any rash decision making for reintroduction of the non-native variety of Grizzly Bear into California. I say 'non-native', because the actual unique native California Grizzly has been extinct for almost a century now. Any bears will have to be captured in Idaho, Montana or Wyoming. Just like plant systems, there is unique species specific importance for localized seed when you attempt replanting any disturbed area. It should be no different with wildlife. To their credit, the Center for Biodiversity called for a feasibility study. Frankly, it shouldn't actually take that much time and money to figure out whether or not this could succeed. Follow me below on this, but first, here is another online journal link on the subject from California.
Mercury News: Grizzly bears in California: Reintroduction push ignites strong emotions
What about the eco-green ecosystem reality on the ground in California ???

(Dan Honda, Bay Area News Group)
Take a quick close look at the two minute video above of the millions upon millions of dead and dying trees occuring in this Sierra Nevadas of California flyover. This is actually just one small speck when compared to the overall massive picture of dead and dying trees all across the west. Now look at the photo at right of a Grizzly Bear. There now, this is the ideal type of habitat a real Grizzly will be looking for, but there is not much of that left in California, The movement to reintroduce the Grizzly Bear back into it's once former range within California is doomed to failure before it starts. But how can that be possible ? It isn't so much that the negative would be that there are so many people (there is), but rather it's about their diet. What will they feed on ? Does the video above of the millions of dead and dying trees reveal a landscape of plenty ? Of course not. But for a moment, take the example of other call to re-engineer again a Mammoth from the DNA found in one of the many frozen carcasses over the years from Siberia.

Image - Matt Dunham/AP

Even if they could play Jurassic Park Geneticist by reconstructing the DNA of frozen Woolly Mammoths and combining it somehow with the DNA of a living Asian Elephant today, Sci-Fi World aside, if (and that's a big if) they could actually do this, what kind of world would they be bringing these creatures back to ? This planet is ruined and there is hardly enough sustainable wild habitat for even the large animals in Africa anymore. Most likely it would be an artificial Animal Park with the poor animals being fit with radio collars and wearing ear tags. Seriously though, is that what people really what ? Getting back to Grizzlies though. Once again I get all the emotion and heartfelt desires, but they have to be logical about this. These animals will go where there is food and that means people. Already there are conflicts in many places with black bears not being able to forage out in the wild and entering suburban areas. Then there are the issues of available waterways like streams and rivers. Grizzlies love both and need fishing, but that is also in doubt when it comes to  California. I never thought I would see this day when California would lose most of it's historical forests. 
Major Challenges with Food and Foreaging Natural Resources within California

CREDIT: Justin Sullivan/Getty

When you think of big brown bears like Grizzlies, what else does this bring to mind ? Salmon runs and fishing. At one time way back in history, the native California Grizzly Bears were King throughout California and probably down into Baja. Juan Bautista de Anza the Spanish Explorer in 1775 & 76 and Fray Pedro Font who accompanied him on the trek, both wrote about Bears (Los Osos) in their dariary journals when they passed through Southern California. Sightings were along water courses like the San Jacinto River in Hemet/San Jacinto Valley. Other sightings were after they had crossed the Santa Ana River and heading west through the I-10 corridor region of Ontario, Pomona & San Dimas. Many rivers flowed in those days from the canyons from the north in Angeles National Forests. The rivers ran full all year and contained large  populations of the native and now almost extinct Steelhead Trout or Salmon. Perfect Grizzly habitat in those days as even the forest tree lines were far lower in mountain elevation than they are today. Wetlands, marshes and large scale riparian woodlands were everywhere as well from the descriptive writings of Pedro Font and Juan Bautista de Anza where they often mentioned having to avoid them in many places which required long detours. The next recorded Grizzly sightings were towards Ventura/Santa Basbara, but especially further north in the river floodplain and delta region of the Santa Maria river south of San Luis Obispo where numerous bears gathered for fishing. 

Sadly, all these once pristine wild scenes are all barely a memory now. Most of those former rivers and streams are dry sandy rocky washes now. Dams were built way upstream and rainfall now days is almost nothing. Any periodic flooding comes from street runoff and other human industrial infrastructural development. Southern California will never ever again support any Grizzly population, not even a small one. The Sierras are also doubtful as millions upon million of various species of trees die off. Northern California would be the only choice, but it would still have to be large deep isolated wilderness and there is not much of that in a state of millions of humans, even as they move into more rural areas. Plus the Grizzlies would never be content to stay put there, especially with any food resources being almost nill. People are where the food is and that is where the failure of reintroduction would come in.
Grizzlies, Salmon & other wildlife require healthy viable green vegetative ecosystems
I've touched on dead and dying trees by the millions upon millions, but all success hinges on this. For all the wildlife concerned. It's not a matter of replanting. You need healthy normal climate dynamics to return for that and at present this seems unlikely. Much talk is being done to save the dead forest snags from big timber interests and other opposing scientists are in favour of logging anyway to fuel energy plants with wood to reduce coal. The argument being that these trees will burn and pump CO2 in to the atmosphere anyway if they stay put and are later consumed by wildfire. But will just leaving these trees really encourage the forest to return naturally on it's own ? I doubt it. There is a problem with regards where the viable seed will come from. Many of these trees were sick and thristy long before the bark beetles finished the job. When trees are stressed, they pump what little water resources there are into defensive survival mode as opposed to offensive seed production. So it's highly doubtful there was much of a viable wild seed bank out there in many areas where these trees died. If there were cones, then most of the cones would have opened up and released seed when they died and dried out. Any seedlings which may have resulted would most likely never had a chance in the present drought and if made if to sapling stage, then any resulting wildfire cooks that rehab. The much praised and celebrated fire ecology rebirth strategy becomes toast in such dead forest wildfire because there is no viable seed to kickstart the renewal process. Consider that these forests are dying on a massive wholesale scale. Replanting is also another option, but will that succeed ? Not without climate correction to bring back a normal rainfall pattern. This too seems unlikely. Also consider from what sources would the seed for seedlings come from. Most often today from out of state. Specific habitats require seed from those regions. Much failure has been experienced where region specific seed has not been used. This is even true of chaparral restoration projects.

Artemisia tridentata. Photo by Sue Weis, Inyo National Forest.

Many restoration projects for Silver Sagebrush habitat restoration have failed because of
well intentioned people have used seed from wrong species. Same goes for forest restoration.

A good example of the importance of site specific species to any  region is in several Silver Sagebrush restoration programs. While once I was researching about a native (Giant Palouse Earthworm) of eastern Washington which apparently thrives in native bunch graaslands and Silver Sagebrush Steppes, I stunled upon the reference to a region where replanted Silver Sagebrush had failed because it was not the specific type of Artemisis to the area. If I can find that reference I come back and post it here later. Much of this region has been converted to dryland farming into millions of acreage in wheat production. But a reference to habitat restoration of Silver Sagebrush Steppe in this region mentioned failure of Artemisia establishment because the wrong species was used. They all died. Many Silver Sagebrush restoration initiatives have ended in failure because several factors for regeneration have been ignored. And successional management models have identified these as underlying causes of failure as good site availability, species availability, and species performance. 

Image: Northwest Conifers

White Pine (Pinus strobus)
My point here is that a regions specific tree seed (Ponderosa, Fir, Oak etc) needs to be used to avoid failure in replanting California mountains. And it's a big if. But like I said, if climatic conditions are not restored soon, failure even with the correct seedlings will be meaningless. This is what will be the biggest challenge not only to Grizzly bear, but also Salmon and other wildlife. Remember, although people may view Grizzlies as vicious carnivores, Grizzly bears are actually omnivores, and their diet can vary widely. They may eat seeds, berries, roots, grasses, fungi, deer, elk, fish, dead animals and insects. All these important food resources also need a healthy viable forested ecosystem. Remember the issues with White Pine decline and Grizzly Bear survival ? So vital that massive decimation of White Pine by a blister rust pathogen has had major negative effect on Grizzlies.
See: (National Park Service - Yellowstone: How Important is Whitebark Pine to Grizzly Bears?)

Image - U.S. Forest Service

Beetle killed trees in Colorado's Never Summer Mountains

This photo above is from Colorado Rockies where millions of acreage of unhealthy forest trees are also under attack from Bark Beetles. Bears here along with other wildlife are struggling. Does anyone actually believe that California forests would be anymore inviting to a hungry Grizzly ? Frankly, forget the people for a moment. I think it's just unfair and unkind towards the non-native Grizzly Bears. 
 Update: September 12th, 2016
Hungry bears focus on gaining as much fat as possible before winter hibernation
"They become very food obsessed. It's really all around gaining as much fat as possible, right before the winter,"  said conservationist Kevin Van Tighem.
Wonder how desperately food obsessed native Rocky Mountain Grizzlies will be if introduced into non-native degraded habitats in the drought stressed extremes of California ???
CBC NEWS: Grizzly bears in Alberta family's yard were 'food obsessed,' expert says
Past Posts where I wrote about historical references to Grizzlies in California
The San Jacinto River Valley that Juan Bautista de Anza saw
San Jacinto River Wildlife Refuge & the wetlands potential beyond to Corona
Anza's Dairy & the Lessons Learned

Friday, September 9, 2016

Either Climate Change, Deforestation & Ocean Dead Zones are real or Worldview obsessed Science takes funding priority

Big troubles within the Science of Physics & ongoing issues with Astrobiology
Photo courtesy of CERN
Science News: Supersymmetry’s absence at LHC puzzles physicists
The CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) took about a decade to build at a cost of $4.75 Billion to fund. It was started up in 2008, then abruptly shut down for repairs and restarted in 2009. Forbes estimated the total final cost of finding the mysterious Higgs Boson to be around $13.25 Billion. Of course Forbes estimated this back in 2012. Who knows the real costs today ? Here are some quotes from the article:
Some important quotes: "A beautiful but unproved theory of particle physics is withering in the harsh light of data."  
"For decades, many particle physicists have devoted themselves to the beloved theory, known as supersymmetry. But it’s beginning to seem that the zoo of new particles that the theory predicts —the heavier cousins of known particles — may live only in physicists’ imaginations. Or if such particles, known as superpartners, do exist, they’re not what physicists expected."   
"New data from the world’s most powerful particle accelerator — the Large Hadron Collider, now operating at higher energies than ever before — show no traces of superpartners."
Unbelievable. All this time it has been something mostly in the "Imaginations of Physicists" ? All these billions of dollars invested and nothing. As far as climate change, deforestation, ocean dead zones and a plethora of other Earth shattering realities, how much serious money and research have the world's authorities and leading experts actually put into the Earth's ecology ? Thus far all I continue to see is the Nightly News providing us with the usual ideologically driven political squabblings ? Well, enough of that, I believe it all speaks for itself. Now for my next pet peeve - Astrobiology

image: Proxima b, artist's vision, by ESO/M. Kornmesser via Science Daily.

The headlines last month were all a buzz with grandiose announcements and proclamations of another earth-like planet discovered. The illustrated image above is not an actual photograph, but rather an imaginary depiction by an artist as to what he believes it to be. No life of course:
Planet found in habitable zone around nearest star (Science Daily)
Then there was one headline from the (BBC) which read: "Neighbouring star Proxima Centauri has Earth-sized planet" - Then this remarkable admission and quote within the article by the BBC Science Correspondent, Jonathan Amos, who wrote, 
“the discovery of a planet potentially favourable to life in our cosmic neighbourhood is likely to fire the imagination.”
There's that word/term "imagination" again. Is anybody interested in reality anymore ? I suppose if you assume something, anything is possible. Same with imagination, if you just imagine enough, it seems to make it so. Kinda like the X-Files Agent Mulder's poster in his office, "I want to Believe." But imagination seems to be more and more an attribute Scientists call upon to mask their limited human inexperience. Astrobiology is steeped in imagination. It's the science discipline still looking for a subject. It's the science of "could," "maybe," "possibly," and "might."  It thrives on generalizations, conjectures, assumptions and assertions. Unfortunately imagining something does not make it so. And yet it gets wide funding. But there are clearly other more important scientific areas which deserve more funding based on the urgency. I've written previously about Astrobiology:
Astrobiology or Earth's Biology - which ?
Let's focus on just one important subject in dire need of more funding, "Climate Change"
Recent News out there now says that "La Niña" is a bust. It's fizzled. NOAA is calling for below average precipitation and above average temperatures in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, southern Alaska and the lower half of the USA in general. Interestingly, most people are comfortable with things staying just as they are. In the case of climate change and the ongoing lack of viable solutions from the scientific community, this spells disaster not only for the southwestern USA, but the entire globe. Still, valuable scientific resources and earnest efforts continue to fall well short. Sci-Fi World illusions allow people to escape our world's negative reality even if it's momentary. The bad news now is there will be no "La Niña" for the West coast of the USA for cooler temperatures. Just more of the same. If humans don't get a handle on this, their goose is cooked, literally. And it has to be a united effort to succeed. Fat chance of that actually happening. 
Important Update - October 5, 2016 
This article is beautiful & exactly what I'm talking about 
image -

Growing food and creating a livable environment are two engineering
challenges on Mars that are just as important as making fuel.
Those Martian settlements sound great, but something important is missing 
The article is interesting in that Annalee Newitz, Tech Culture Editor at Ars Technica, is clearly excited about a possible future Sci-Fi world mission to Mars, but also extremely caustious about the more important things first. Rocket technology, fuels, etc are important, but how will astronauts survive there ? They have no clue how to properly care for the Earth, let alone survive and live on Mars making this terribly uninhabitable place habitable.. 
"We still don't understand how to control our own planet's environment, let alone one on a world we've only been exploring for a few decades. That's why Martian environmental science will be important for Earth's future, too. If we can figure out how to live sustainably on Mars, we will have the tools to save the Earth many times over."

Image by John Rogers Cox - "White Cloud" (1943)
NOAA’s Official 2016/17 Winter Outlook for in the USA
For over the past two decades now the biggest problem boils down to the scientific community not paying attention to real scientific issues and as a result they've lost a lot of credibility even among relatively well educated people. Throughout the world and in particular the United States, the scientific community has immersed itself within all the various culture wars and as a result there is a growing majority consumed by purvasive apathy and complacency. The world leadership's opposing ideologues (Secular & Religious) who do nothing but bicker about various environmental crisis are in truth the mirror image of each other. Neither side likes hearing that, but it's true. They remind me of two entirely different people in an amcient Roman Public Privy sharing the same sponge after the job is done. Today in the United States there are two viciously opposed ideologies who believe they know what is best when it comes to the environment. Trust me folks, they both share the  Same exact sponge

Image from, Roman Life

While there is certainly a plethora of negativity in most of the Nightly News Reports these days, I did read one nice piece by Marine Biologist, William Graham, who today wrote about Earth's web of life and the awesome interconnectedness within all ecosystems. Bill is presently teaching a year-long environmental education program to high school students that is based on the conservation of the web of life. The holistic character of Nature seems to make a lot of sense to many of his students. Below is the link to the article.

Nature's Web of Life
The Art, Soul, And Science Of A Connected Nature

William Graham's piece got me thinking however on what has become of the web of life today. He had a nicely defined summary of what it was in the past and is supposed to be in his post this morning:
“Web of Life” paints a metaphorical picture. It suggests a vision. One can almost see lots of living interconnected  organisms as the words roll off your tongue.  If you like to see dictionary definitions, “Web of Life” is described as a succession of organisms in an ecological community that are linked to each other through the transfer of energy and nutrients.
I love that description and in times past earth was once more that way than it is at present. The title, "Earth's Web of Life" got me thinking of the way humans have molded and mutated that web of life through their irresponsible custodianship. I found an archived photo I had saved of spider's webs from both the Chernobyl and Fukashima disasters. The Spider's web above is the result of radiation poison's effects on the spider and it's instinctive sophisticated ability at constructing the perfect fishnet spider web. Clearly this spider's genetic informational memory has been greatly altered by the negative epigenetic responses to damaging outside environmental influences. And I pondered how this web above is in reality more representative of what humankind has done to our once healthy Earth Web of Life that no longer exists as it once did. That Fukashima spiderweb photo is the exact representation of what human leadership has done to our Earth's Web of Life. Look at where the funding is going people and understand where their priorities lay.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Creating Little Desert Trees as Ornamentals for Indoors & Patios

The Sonoran Living Desert Museum in Tucson has always inspired me when it comes to Landscape Design
Image - Mine 

Ironwood Gift Shop - Sonoran Desert Museum, Tucson Arizona

Image Mine
Ever see something which looks to have incredible potential and think, 'If only I thought of starting such a business concept years ago.' But no one can go back. Still, if a human could live forever, can you imagine the limitless possibilities of opportunities you could pursue ? Of course the world would have to be a much radically different place than it is at present. But think of the potential for perfecting a craft like this Bonsai root over rock Ficus art. And you'd never need to be in a hurry. In such a world patience would be common place. It's only that our short bubble of a life span most of us to be impatient and rushed to acquire things, things, things that throws a wrench in the works. Obsession with consumerism and making such the foundation of a nation's economy is literally killing this planet. This photo above I took was in June 2016 outside the Ironwood Gift Shop and Restaurant at the Sonoran Desert Museum which is just west of Tucson Arizona. What a perfect desert native patio tree. Or possibly a pool side and landscape tree. It's clean and it's sharp looking which tremendous amounts of natural character. Interesting textural form and character. What the developers of this design have done here is merely to replicate Natural Design. 

Image - Mine - Sonoran Desert Museum - Tucson, Arizona

Below here is a fun tutorial on creating a Ficus root over rock bonsai container patio plant, hence Rock Fig as can be commonly found in nature's desert areas like Baja California and Sonora Mexico. I won't post more than one video, but you can go to YouTube and type in "Rock over Root Ficus Bonsai" and bring up multiple videos of people who have enjoyed this hobby for years and have found the need for sharing this fun pursuit. These are people who actually out there who do not have a time wasting need for things like Pokemon Go.

Image - Mine - Sonoran Desert Museum - Tucson, Arizona
Rock figs (tescalama): Ficus palmeri and Ficus petiolaris
"Rock figs are a legacy of the tropical origins of the Sonoran Desert. They are a kind of strangler fig. Tropical strangler fig seedlings start life as epiphytes high on the branches of host trees. The fig roots encircle the host's trunk and eventually reach the ground. The roots then enlarge and squeeze the host tree's trunk while the upper branches overshadow it and starve it for light. The host dies and rots, leaving a hollow giant fig tree."  
"There are no trees in the Sonoran Desert large enough to host a stranger fig seedling. Desert rock figs took to establishing on cliff faces and "strangling" rocks. They may live as dwarfed saxicoles their entire lives. But if their roots eventually reach the moist soil of a canyon bottom, they will grow into large trees."
Some great references on Rock Figs
The large contorted and twisted Ficus above is Ficus palmeri in situ about 100 meter from Sea of Cortez south of Punta Frailles.  The tree measures over 25 meters (80 foot). Likely blown over by hurricane many year ago. It's kept trimmed by goats to expose the trunk. The possibilities for replicating designs found in Nature are limitless. These forms are found everywhere in Nature and in every kind of plant. Consider where the Japanese art form for Bonsai came from. Most of us who have ventured outdoors on a hike in any mountain ranges have seen wild forms of Bonsai from trees which under ideal growing conditions are towering giants. But in such a stunted form in rock formations where root space is restricted, they can live for centuries. Like the write up in the webpage of the Sonoran Desert Museum stated, they can live for centuries on rock outcroppings, but if their roots ever hit water, they'll turn into large trees. This makes them the perfect container patio tree if you design them properly.  

Image - Hennie Cloete

Ficus petiolaris - Canyon Santiago and Verde Rivers

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Palo Colorado Canyon now a Paradise Lost ?

Previously I've over the years visited this secret place and only a couple of years ago wrote about it. But Recent Wildfire events in California (this is the latest 'New Abnormal') have brought live to the area to ashes. Here are my previous posts. The first one is about the joy of being able to show my Swedish wife who has never seen the Redwoods of NoCal a little private hideaway slice of giant Redwood Groves. Honestly, other than locals up this way, most tourist and most resident Californians in general no nothing of this hidden gem. That has always been the beauty of this pristine area. That's all changed now. First, ere is what I previously written about Palo Colorado Canyon.
Palo Colorado Canyon Rd, Big Sur California
My other article dealt with the extreme California Drought designation label given specifically to Central California's Coast where extremely low rainfall amounts over the past five years have left most streams and rivers as dry creeks, washes and floodplains. But not here. Why ? Because of the ideal location for fogbelt influence which acquires another type of precipitation normally overlooked. Because of this, streams and rivers still run here. There is also the natural phenomena of "Hydraulic Descent" which almost no one mentions anymore. This is a large part of why these streams still ran to the Pacific Ocean.
Why Streams still flow in California's officially designated "Exceptional Drought" zone
Now, fastforward to the Soberanes Wildfire

Image - David Royal, Monterey County Hreald via A.P.

The above photo is from the Soberanes wildfire burning above a home in Palo Colorado Canyon in Big Sur, Calif., Sunday July 24, 2016. Thousands of homes remained evacuated Sunday as California's two massive wildfires raged in tinder-dry vegetated hills and canyons. As of July 28, about 57 homes have been destroyed and other buildings.

July 24, 2016 - Infrared Imaging Map by

Keep checking the link above from the reference link I've posted below as the fire is rapidly expanding. I started this post on the 24th and change is happening rapidly.

Night Image by Caitlan Conrad - KSBW

MODIS map of Soberanes Fire - Big Sur Kate - (blue line is Sunday July 25, 2016  Fire Border)

As I've previously posted before back in July 2014 in my Palo Colorado Canyon post, this canyon and beyond is no stranger to wildfire as you can see below of the California Coast Redwood trees with charred bark. The further inland you drive to the east, the hotter the climate becomes. The area is dense wilderness and very few roads. Many of those roads can be death traps as there is very little way out of dead end trails.

Image is Mine from July 2014 (Palo Colorado Canyon Road)

CalFire engine trucks now move into the interior where fire fighting will be tougher, if not imporrible. Air (Plane/Helicopter) and Hand Crews will be the main means of fighting this basically roadless area. That was always the beauty of this area as it is mostly uninhabited. The main thrust of the fire now appears to be heading east and mainly south into the Los Padres National Forest where much of that has now been closed off to any visitors.

Image by KSBW - Caitlan Conrad

Image - David Royal, Monterey Herald

You may have to click on the above image and make it larger. Notice the non-native Sea Fig these fire fighters are strip removing ? Mostly likely on the steep coastal slope side down to the Coast Highway. I'm curious as to how many of these firefighters will acquire poison oak breakouts. For those familiar with this steep coastal environment right down to the Pacific Ocean, the predominant plant here is low growing poison oak. I saw this back in 2014 the last time my wife and I went through here. We stopped periodically to take photos from off the roadway and it's an obstacle and maze of trails through poison oak. Along with poison oak, the other dense invasive I saw were small non-native Pampas Grass everywhere. The stuff is literally everywhere folks. Keep an eye out if in this area. On every single steep treeless slope along the coastal highway there is one solide mass of poison oak from Carmel all the way to Cambria.

Image by Lucus Gillman - Big Sur, California
San Luis Obispo News: "Climate change is making poison oak stronger"

Image - David Royal, Montery Herald

The image above in the northern part of the fire and also these next two Bulldozer photos are on Mescal Ridge are sad to see. The damage these machines cause can last for centuries as scars on the landscape, aside from the immediate microbiological damage where the absence will make it tougher for shrubs and trees to come back. It will better help non-native invasives to establish and grab a permanent foothold. What's worse is that the fire retardant all along those fire perimeter areas are going to help encourage & fertilize the non-native ruderals and hinder perennial and chaparral shrub regrowth. But I'm actually surprised by the one at the top wheere you can clearly see the fire has been stopped by the plane drops of retardant and only small areas of white smake are present. Clearly instead of damaging this ridge and creating a large fire break, I would think Hand Crews could do a less damaging job in putting out the smoldering shrubs and perhaps water drops.

Image provided by Michael Troutman & Big Sur Kate

This link will be of interest to some. This is an operations map showing where bulldozer firebreaks have thus far been constructed and where they are proposed in the future should the fire breach the others. Which it has multiple times.
Soberanes Fire Operations Map

Image provided by Michael Troutman & Big Sur Kate

July 28, 2016 Update: Some Sad News 
Firefighter killed in dozer accident on Soberanes fire & another dozer operator injured in similar scenario
"The operator of a bulldozer was killed while working on the Soberanes fire, one of two major wildfires burning in California and one that has already destroyed 20 homes."
 ------------------------------------------------------------------ - Bulldozer operator killed fighting California blaze 
"Another operator escaped injury when a second bulldozer rolled over and sustained minor damage, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection."   
"Battalion Chief Robert Fish said the operator was working in steep and difficult-to-access terrain when the accident occurred. Fish did not have further details about the incident but said 60 bulldozers were being used in the fight against the fire." - Bulldozer operator killed fighting California blaze
 Climate Change Extreme Drought - Beetle Killed Trees - Disease/Pathogens - Fire & Flood Apocalypse ?
 There is a plethora of life degrading events which have effected all of Earth's ecosystems everywhere. Certainly this region which is at the heart of Extreme Drought conditions, actually being designated, "Exceptional Drought Zone" by the US Government just last year. There has been a domino effect of sorts. Extreme drought followed by beetles & pathogen kill of forest trees has made this fire move much easier than it's normal previous marine moisture ecology of the past.  
Millions of dead/dying trees have nothing to do with Climate Change ???

Photo Credits - Dave Rizzo, UC Davis (2005)

Millions upon Millions of dead and dying trees and there is no Climate Change ? Of course some acknowledge there is a climate change happening, but insist it has no human cause. It's not just conifers folks, it's also oaks and other shrubs which are taking the hit here regarding diseases and pathogens.

Photo Credit - Karl Buermeyer, COMTF (2003)

Susan Frankel, USDA-Forest Service
The image above and at right are of dead (Tanoaks - Notholithocarpus densiflorus) along Big Sur highway, Monterey County, California. I know no one wants to talk about dead forest trees causing wildfire to worsen, but hey, this is the "New Abnormal" , remember ??? Like those millions of dead Ponderosa Pines and Fir trees over on the eastern border of California, these trees are helping to spread the wildfire in a region which is traditionally Marine Air influenced by moiture. Sadly, this is a part of that major plague in California called Sudden Oak Death. Also remember that this area has been designated in all the drought maps as Extreme Drought Condition. The worst hit from Climate Change of anywhere throughout all of California. This is about all I'll write on this for the moment. You can follow the other links below and perhaps I'll provide periodic updates here from time to time.
Update August 1, 2016
 (David Royal - Monterey Herald)

This photo shows Cal Fire firefighters keeping a lookout from Sky Ranch off Cachagua Grade as smoke and flames from a back burn light up a ridge to the south as firefighters battle the Soberanes Fire in east Carmel Valley on Monday August 1, 2016. Even though the photo is hazy, can anybody see the numerous dry dead oak trees within this forest canopy ? All vegetation, living green or dead brown will burn. But it's the dead material which allows the wildfire to move faster and gain more ground. And that's exactly what this fire has done.
Soberanes Wildfire Tracking Website Links
KSBW: Soberanes Fire prompts evacuation order for Rancho San Carlos
Central California Coastal Ecology and Wildfire History
Mid-Coast Fire Brigade: 'Area Fire History'
Garrapata Creek Watershed Council & Watershed Assessment
USGS: "Prescribed fires do not reduce future area burned in central and southern California
California Chaparral Institute: "Fire, Chaparral and Survival in Southern California"
California Chaparral Institute: "PROTECTING YOUR HOME FROM FIRE"