The Browns on Holiday
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.
Actually, it's Krista's folks in their kitchen back in Cloverdale. But they look so happy, and the light was so nice, I thought they might rather be at the lake.
I just finished an intense project--scanning and restoring a number of old photos from my childhood and before, when my folks were young. I did it for a present for my sister, who turns 50 next week. Yikes!
Today I found a whole new stack. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry-it was so much work already. I guess the new batch will have to wait a little bit, to give my eyes a chance to recover.
I decided that this is the perfect art form for someone with Venus in Virgo: removing tiny specks and flaws to make something beautiful.
This photo is in front of our townhouse in Corte Madera, Marin County, California. Now one of the most expensive places to live on Earth. Then, just a sleepy little blue collar town. The hippies hadn't really begun the migration North just yet.
(more photos on flickr)
Yesterday we went for a hike with Meredith and Steve at Annadele State Park. We nearly reached the sun.
I love talking with Meredith and Steve and even more so while we're hiking somewhere beautiful.
Unfortunately, the girls had turned their noses up at lunch before we left, and it didn't take long for their blood sugar to hit grumpy levels. It amazes me how little shame they seem to feel at times like that. Luckily we had half a cheese sandwich on hand and once they got it down the bitching and moaning subsided. Ye gods.
Tonight Danny brought Hattie over for another visit. He and Hattie have been together for some months now. I like her.
We had a good time telling stories and laughing. And Krista got coaxed into playing a few songs for us!
I've been very busy for about a week now, creating a new blog called Thailand Sojourn.
It came about when I realized that all of my written postings from our trip to Thailand never got published on this blog. I don't know why.
I thought about adding them in, en mass, as I was rather fond of them. It was a magical time for us and I wanted to share my writings.
But putting them in here, almost two years later, seemed absurd. I also came to realize that I'd posted only a relative few photos here and had many many more excellant photos to share.
So I decided to make Thailand Sojourn. I loaded about 160 photos onto my flickr page and produced 12 little short video clips from our original footage. I included my original travelogue and massively supplemented it. I put in lots of hyperlinks too.
It was an absurd amount of work and I love every minute of it. I just have no idea why I felt compelled to do it.
But now it's (essentially) done. Aside from a little tweaking and tinkering, it's a done deal. I won't really be adding to it.
Time to go celebrate.
PS if you don't have broadband internet, forget it. Even with a fast connection it takes too long to load!
I'm borrowing these paragraphs from a Truthout article by Kelpie Wilson, entitled 2006 Top Green Tech Ideas. OF course the idea of a plug in biodiesel hybrid car is familiar, but check out the V2G part:
Plug-In Hybrids and the V2G
At the end of 2006, General Motors announced it would commit to manufacturing a plug-in hybrid vehicle. A plug-in hybrid adds a larger battery pack and a plug to charge the batteries with grid power, allowing the car to rely more on the electric drive and less on the fuel supply. A new study for the Department of Energy has found that we already have enough electrical generating capacity to power 84 percent of our 220 million vehicles if they were plug-in hybrids. That's because our capacity is designed to meet peak power needs for air conditioning on hot afternoons, and when peak power is not needed there is plenty of spare capacity to charge electric car batteries.
This would be a bad trade-off where grid power is provided by coal. But ask not what grid can do for your car; rather, ask what your car can do for the grid.
The real promise of plug-in hybrids is using their batteries to stabilize a power grid that is supplied by renewable but variable wind and solar power. Dubbed "vehicle to grid," or V2G for short, the idea is to use the combined storage power of 220 million mobile battery packs to buffer the grid whenever the vehicles are not in use. Vehicles would absorb excess power at night or on sunny or windy days. The vehicle battery packs could then be tapped to help out during peak demand periods and a computerized "smart grid" would regulate it all. The potential is huge. Terry Penney, a technology manager at the National Renewable Energy Lab said, "if millions of these [plug-in hybrids] were produced, it would enable some of the renewable technologies to really take off."
Terra Preta - The Black Earth
I've saved the best for last. Terra preta is new to Western science, but it is an old technology from the Amazon that disappeared when the native populations were wiped out by European diseases after Columbus.
The technology of black earth is simple: Instead of slashing and burning the rainforest to make way for agriculture, long lost Amazonian civilizations burned forest slash in smoldering piles to make charcoal, and then buried the charcoal in the soil. This produces an astounding increase in soil fertility. The charcoal itself adds nutrients to soil, but it also acts as a sponge to absorb and retain any manures or other added fertilizers for very long periods of time. Some of the terra preta soils created more than 500 years ago are still highly fertile today.
Terra preta could be a win-win-win-win solution of tremendous magnitude. Here's how it would work: Farmers would start by growing biomass for energy - cornstalks, for instance. The material would be heated with solar furnaces to make the charcoal, which releases gases like methane. These gases can be collected and burned for energy. Then the charcoal gets buried in the fields, making them more productive. But the biggest prize of all is the carbon sequestration. This is a highly effective process for pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it into long-term storage in the earth.
The best thing about this idea is that anyone can do it. My resolution for 2007 is to try this in my own garden. But all the voluntary efforts of individuals and even corporations won't be enough to tackle the energy/climate crisis. We need a society-wide mobilization of resources to develop these excellent ideas and others, and put them into practice. My hope for 2007 is that the new Congress will be up to it.
Meredith and Steve invited us to a beach cookout for New Years Day. We brought food and firewood and hula hoops, frisbees and our kite. And enough coats and sweaters to survive Antarctica. As it so happened, the day was so warm I had to strip down to my t-shirt! And there was just enough breeze to keep the fire lively and the kite aloft. An altogether perfect day at the beach.
We left just before sundown and got to see the full moon rising over the hills as we drove east and happily got home before dark.
What a wonderful way to start the year off.
Organic vegetarian s'mores. We had quite the analog picnic. Tofu hotdogs, (baked) bbq potato chips, organic root beer. Yum.
We also had homemade sauerkraut made by our friend Jean for the dogs. The best part, of course, was roasting the dogs over the hot coals.
I've spent many happy hours clambering around tide pools, ever since I was a little boy and my folks would take us to Pacific Grove to camp out.
But I've never seen such an abundance of starfish and sea anenomies, mussels, barnacles and crabs. Steve found one crab about as big as Eden's hand. And then to top it all off....
The high point of a very good day at the ocean. Steve found a little octopus stranded on the sand and not doing too well. At first we thought it was dead, but he carefully moved it into a pool and it perked right up.
It started out an orangey red color, but turned itself motled grey to match the sand on the bottom of the pool.
We got to see it move along to find a crevice, using his tentacles and sort of gliding, pulling, swimming, slinking. An extrordinary thing to witness! We all felt so lucky to have encountered this creature, surely one of nature's weirdest.
At long last, our Bali kite soared aloft to sail the ocean breezes. It looked beautiful bobbing along in the currents of air. It never stayed up for long, but I discovered a big ol' grin on my face--pure enjoyment!
I bought that kite from the fellow who made it (well, him and his wife) on the beach after my first scuba diving experience. I was too happy to haggle for it (and so probably paid twice what he expected to get).
It has a good energy about it.
We got invited to the Tubleweed's 'New York New Years Eve' party. This means we celebrated the event at 9pm and got to sleep by 11.
What a nice bunch of folks. They started out as a playgroup for their toddlers and we got sucked into the magical vortex along the way.
Robert and Jean have a great little house in the countryside west of Windsor, with chickens, donkeys and goats all around.
We shot off dangerous fireworks to mark that magic 9pm.