Alameda sailors race in Pacific Cup

Four Alameda sailors—Michael Andrews, Ted Floyd, Rodney Pimentel and
John Hemiup—set sail for Hawaii on July 14. Their boat, Azure, is one of 61 participating in the 2008 Pacific Cup. They started on Monday from San Francisco’s Saint Francis Yacht Club, and will race across 2,070 miles of Pacific Ocean to Kaneohe Bay, Oahu. They expect the crossing to take 12 to 14 days. You can check their ongoing progress on the log of their journey. And you can also track their race standing (they’re in Division A) here.

Here’s an excerpt from yesterday’s travelogue:

Day 2 Update: We had a very rough night. We went north in the light air thinking the wind would strengthen, but unfortunately it did not pay off. We are reaching at 5 knots SW looking for wind now. Hopefully we will be putting our spinnaker up soon. Curry chicken with saffron rice in on the menu tonight.


Alameda’s City Council does about face on park bike ban

John Knox White, an ardent government-watcher/participant, deserves credit for placing the shining light of words and logic on city council’s recent move to ban “muscle-powered” vehicles in our city’s parks. As various others have noted, the proposed law really did boggle the mind. But, mercifully, we’re now on to other challenges.


In Alameda: Friendly on the wallet, friendly on the planet

The weekly column I write for the Alameda Journal is up online. This one is about the growing understanding of the importance of making environmentally-sustainable choices and, too, the rising cost of basic goods and services. It cost me over $75 dollars to fill up my gas tank last week!

Past “Life on the Island” columns

June 17, 2008: Fear can limit the joys of childhood
June 10, 2008: Never underestimate the power of one
June 3, 2008: Paying the price to have good schools
May 27, 2008: A civil rights issue in our time
May 20, 2008: What’s cooking in the hot weather?
May 12, 2008: When a man needs a cave
May 5, 2008: Enjoying that small-town feel
April 28, 2008: Support of tax teaches lesson
April 21, 2008: New garage can be a good habit
April 14, 2008: When the earth shakes, duck
April 7, 2008: Snails, ants, lice and light brown apple moths


California’s plan to spray light brown apple moth suspended

As many of you may recall, back in April there was a big to-do about the the State of California’s plan to spray synthetic pheromones in plastic microcapsules over Alameda (and other Bay Area cities) in an effort to eradicate the light brown apple moth. The news today is that the state has halted their controversial strategy. You can read the Contra Costa Times story about it here. And Michele Ellson over at The Island has more detail as well.


No bikes, scooters, skateboards in Alameda parks?

Thanks are due to John Knox White who attended Tuesday night’s Alameda City Council meeting and reported on a municipal code change to ban ‘muscle-powered’ vehicles in city parks. In his post about the meeting (which I urge you to read in its entirety) he wrote:

The council must have been in quite a hurry to get to the budget last night because that’s the only excuse I can come up with for how the council could get into a discussion on banning skateboarding in a parking garage (not a terrible idea) and vote unanimously to ban bikes, skateboards, scooters and ALL muscular powered vehicles from all city parks unless the city puts up signs saying it’s “permitted.”


In the spirit of children’s entertainment, I’ll suggest the council call for a “do over” and bring this back whether a second reading is called for or not.

It would be hard not to think that this action was taken with undue haste. And it sounds like, procedure-wise, the law needs to come up for consideration a second time before it is finalized. Councilmember Frank Matarrese acknowledged flaws in the process. “The discussion around this first reading of the proposed ordinance missed some obvious points,” he wrote in an email. “So I think we have to focus back on the goal of putting safety rules into effect for our parking lots and the parking structure.” You can always email your city council.


Oil comes ashore at Alameda’s Crown Beach

We did not go to the beach today—the kids had cooking camp in the morning and then my daughter had ballet this afternoon—but from this just posted Oakland Tribune story (the Tribune is part of the sisterhood of newspapers that includes our hometown Alameda Journal) it sounds like there were tar balls and oil sheen that forced the closing of Robert Crown Memorial State Beach this afternoon. My guess is that tomorrow will not be a good beach day, either. KRON 4 has the story, too.


Coyotes on the Island of Alameda?

Acting on a tip from an alert reader (thank you SD), I went down to Crown Memorial Beach park earlier where the grass is new and protected by taller-than-most-humans chain link fences. I found that, yes, just as SD had reported, there were coyote-sized pieces of cardboard with coyote pictures on them. And, even though my eight-year-old research assistant was impatient to get to her ballet class, I was able to capture a picture of one of the coyotes in the company of the geese that—perhaps?—it’s designed to frighten away.
coyote with geese

A careful look at a coyote that had have fallen down on the job near the fence revealed a label.

coyote on the ground Closer inspection revealed some text. coyote label And then what’s the next step? Why, Google of course. It turns out for $43.95 retail you can get a two-pack of Coyote Decoys by Renzo’s at a Wildlife Control Supply store. But what are they supposed to frighten away?


Alameda network leads to chicken’s safe return

On Sunday morning a message, which had been posted to several neighborhood google/yahoo groups, appeared in my email inbox:

We lost one of our black silkie chickens near Santa Clara and Court. If you see a small black chicken roaming around please call us 301-xxxx (cell) We miss her. She is a pet, not dinner.


PS If you want to see what silkies look like check out this site.

Backyard chickens are becoming, it seems, an increasingly common Alameda phenomenon. Local writer Susan Davis described the trend for the March-April Alameda Magazine.

I didn’t go looking for the chicken, but I did wonder about its fate. Sunday night, around 10 pm, another message came through:

Our chicken is home! Thanks so much to everyone who read the email and spread the word. We are once again a happy family!


'mama' the chickenAccording to Meresa, an Alameda native who says her family also had backyard chickens when she was growing up the chicken, Mama, wandered off Saturday afternoon when Meresa’s husband was doing some yard work. When they went to put the chickens in their coop at dusk, they noticed noticed Mama’s absence. After scouring the neighborhood, they went to bed, hoping the chicken would return in the morning. When it did not, Meresa posted her notice. Late Sunday, around 10 pm, she got a a call to her cell. It was a neighbor who’d found the chicken in her yard. Chicken and family were reunited! “Turns out my chicken crossed the road and was hanging out in the backyard of our newest neighbor,” Meresa told me by email. “The neighbor had talked to a friend and mentioned the random chicken in her yard and luckily her friend had read my email….So Mama is back home and we will try to keep our side gate closed at all times!” In this case, it seems the chicken crossed the road simply because it could.