Wednesday, August 25, 2010

If I Were a Pot Farmer

...I would be waiting until after the election to do any work. The market in California is extremely uncertain right now. Your investment's value might suddenly plummet if the black market turns white overnight. That apparently hadn't occurred to whoever had planted on the Santa Ysabel Reservation. $100,000,000 worth. Really. At what point can pot be considered an invasive? That might be the best thing if Prop 19 passes! (Actually, best will be decreased illicit traffic on backcountry trails near the border.)

Now if I were a pot farmer in northern California, I would be preparing to establish a formal appellation - you know, like Napa or Sonoma. If you bottle wine and call it a Napa wine when it's really not, they can sue you. Similarly, Humboldt and Mendocino have to think about protecting their brand. That's one way that they're already anticipating the economic shock.

I'm curious as to whether people will still experience paranoia from marijuana use once it's legal. Because so what if everyone knows you're high?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mountain Lion Tracking Maps

You might wonder how an animal the size of a mountain lion can sustain itself in the "wild" these days with the degree of development in California's coastal counties. The answer I used to think was true is that there are a lot of rabbits out there, but I never really believed that myself. The real answer is: mountain lions move. A lot.

In radio tagging studies you can see the incredible amounts of territory they
cover, stopping occasionally in clusters (presumably to eat a big kill). This one in particular came down from almost Mission Viejo to East County near the border. The amazing thing is the amount of mileage the lion covered during 9 days, from April 19th to 28th.

If you click on it you'll see a much bigger version that you can read better, but here you can still see the little tyke in the lower left, still with his kitten-spots. I'm shamelessly fascinated by camera traps and tracking studies like this, for any large animal. Same for sharks and sea turtles and anything else you can put a tag on. There's something almost wizard-like about knowing the secret lives of animals this way but at the same time it's amazing how little we still know.

You can read more about these cases here, here and here. Unfortunately the "tragic" lion that the stories focus on had killed multiple domestic animals (sheep). Ranchers have to make a living and people have to be safe, and lions can legally be killed when they become a nuisance to life and property.

It's still a damn shame that co-existence has become so difficult. Part of our heritage as Americans is the self-reliance and independence that comes from spending time out in the back country where these kinds of critters thrive, even if it's for just an afternoon - in a place where your own life and health and enjoyment are for the moment solely your concern and responsibility. I think we lose a lot of we don't preserve that for ourselves and our kids.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What You Have in Common with Amazonian Indians

Americans have been led into this narrative that goes like this: setting aside land for parks and preserves and open space in general is bad, because it gives the government power and runs counter to the principle of private property. The problem is that property values adjacent to open-space set-asides go up. (Do you own land near one of San Diego's canyons? What do you think would happen to your property values if suddenly that canyon were filled with apartments?) So the question is, who's pushing this narrative? If open space benefits property owners, and the general public, and wildlife, who does it hurt? Developers, who want to make an extra dollar, that's who. So where might this narrative be coming from, we might ask?

Having said that - the following article about the last surviving (and very isolated) un-contacted Indian in part of the Amazon rainforest may not seem directly relevant but it's way interesting, and this sentence jumps out:

The question of who'd benefit from clearing the land versus preserving it boils down to two people: the individual developer and the lone Indian.

Do you own property near open hills or canyons? Or do you enjoy parks and canyons and open space? Then you're the Indian.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I am an Alpha-Actinin 3 Knock-Out Homozygote

I just found this out today when I reviewed my DNA test results. To learn why that's significant for distance runners, go here.

Toasty in Eurasia

Boy am I glad I'm going to Africa instead of Central Asia. And the California coast was even cooler than usual, which is a phenomenon known in meteorology awesome.

Original file here; from 2010 summer heat wave article on Wikipedia.

Remember all those guys who were running around last winter proclaiming "We're having a cold winter in one part of the world, i.e. the U.S. East Coast! Sample size one! That means global warming is a crock!" Well you would expect all those same guys, now that we're having a hot summer, to be running around proclaiming (sample size one!) that global warming is proven. So where is everybody now? Almost as if...

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Pennsylvania Anthem

You know how your mom sends you all those emails with THIS IS SO CUTE1!1!!!! blinking in 40-point purple font, and it's either something you've seen a dozen times since it first circulated in 1997, or it's a baby with sunglasses or something? But every now and then, one of them is good for a laugh and it's actually worth opening. Well this isn't one of those but watch it anyway.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What the Farallons Look Like Up Close

Didn't see any sharks though. The red triangle disappointed me!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cascade Rock Samples

From left: Sutter Buttes, Lassen, Shasta, Hood, Thielsen.

As I mentioned before, I went through a phase where I wanted to convince people that the Sutter Buttes were actually the southernmost Cascade. I even went so far as to talk to a geologist about it (who didn't share my conclusion) but the USGS now does; go figure. Anyway, I got into climbing the things to take samples of the lava at or near the summit where they were exposed of the snow (on the snowy or glaciated ones), naively thinking that volcanoes work like those diagrams you see in middle school where there is a big lava reservoir underneath feeding multiple volcanoes. The aforementioned geologist told me that the basalt composition will reflect the overlying crust; you can't necessarily tell it's from volcanic range XYZ because of the composition.

But I got some cool-looking rocks out of the deal.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Driving Through a Wildfire

If you haven't seen images of the Russian forest fires, go here. If you have and you want to see first-person video of someone almost getting caught, go here.

Monday, August 2, 2010

National Public Lands Day - 25 September

Have you found a place to volunteer yet? Have a park or forest you like and want to help keep it in good shape for the community and the next generation? Sign up at the National Public Lands Day website. I haven't decided yet where I'm volunteering, but there are 12 within 100 miles of San Diego.

San Diego County Watershed Wiki

I just ran across this website and wanted to plug it. A lot of these watersheds are also open space and recreation areas, like Rancho Penasquitos - check out the article for that one specifically. There are multimedia links (including a great documentary by Jim Karnik) and links to other resources.

Image of Rancho Penasquitos Creek from