Giant Pacific leatherback turtle washed up dead off island in central Philippines

Recently, a giant Pacific leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) washed up dead off the central Visayas island of Leyte, in the Philippines.

The endangered leatherback sea turtle is one of earth’s oldest species, and the largest reptile living on our planet.

Photo by Austin Don Perez for Bayan Mo, iPatrol Mo: Ako ang Simula, via post by Iloed.C at

It is sad to see, especially as leatherback turtle populations — along with many other types of sea turtles — have dramatically declined over the last 2 decades.  These turtles play an important role in thinning out jellyfish populations, and balancing our ocean’s ecosystem.

Hopefully, it died of old age or natural causes, and not because of accidentally ingesting plastic items and bags floating in our oceans — which it mistakes for jellyfish.

This turtle was estimated to weigh 600 kilos (1,323 lbs).

For more on these amazing creatures, please view my post: Monterey Bay and our connection to endangered leatherback sea turtles.

Last Friday, a 700 lb, leatherback turtle was also found near Monterey, California.  Link to photo of the turtle (and video footage) from local news provider, here. Excerpt:

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found at 3 p.m. that the turtle likely died from natural causes.  Officials transported the heavy sea animal to a marine research facility in Santa Cruz.

These turtles nests in Indonesia, then migrate all the way to Monterey Bay and other parts of the U.S. West Coast.  They take this 6,000 mile journey to feed on abundant jellyfish in our waters.

An article on the website indicated that Pacific leatherback turtles have been spotted in the coastal waters off central California — first in Monterey Bay, then by Santa Cruz, and then in Half Moon Bay.  The leatherbacks arrived earlier this year (compared to previous years), and so far, there have been 17 sightings, compared to a total of 23 sightings for all last year.  The article states that there is a lot of food for them here, and that in July, marine biologists reported the most abundant and dense jellyfish bloom seen in years.

If you reading this from the Philippines and have more information on the leatherback turtle that washed up off the Leyte coast, please comment.  Thank you.  – Lola Jane

For related pollution and conservation topics, please visit Lolako posts: 10 ways to rise above plastics, Trash vortex now the size of Texas, and 12 minutes, on plastic bag bans.

Oh, really? (The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic)

(Koch-funded) scientist changes opinion, finds warming due to humans (including Kochs).  Read the article by Philip Bump, from the


That giddy squeal that echoed across America this weekend was from environmentalists who’d opened up The New York Times and read an opinion piece by Richard Muller. (Well, opened the website, anyway; it wasn’t in the actual paper.)

Muller, a professor at UC-Berkeley, had long argued against human-caused climate change. His piece in the Times? “The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic.“…

Average temperature using a 10-year moving average of surface temperatures over land. (Image via, courtesy of ThinkProgress.)

The “Ube” and Purple Filipino Food

Update January 2015 — I’ve added photos of more ube products found at Asian stores.  From ube flavored crackers, cakes….even ube flavored Otap!  Snack companies continue to add purple ube flavors to their product lines.


The theme for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge on the Daily Post is the color Purple.

I thought about food…specifically Filipino food, as I was working on a purple food post.

Indian Eggplant at Moss Landing, California Market Stall

There are many food in shades of purple. There is the eggplant of course, and grapes, purple potatoes, purple cabbage, purple basil, onions — which we call red, but really is often the same shade as purple cabbages.

Boy behind “red” onions at his family’s vegetable market stall, Philippines

Purple shade foods — beets and onions — for sale at the Old Monterey Farmers Market

However, when it comes to purple foods, I think Filipino food wins in the “most” category.  This is all thanks to the ube — pronounced “ou-beh” — a type of purple yam from the Philippines.

Filipinos are accustomed to purple food from the flavor and coloring of ube — and it must be ingrained in us.

Ube flavored food varies from a light shade of lavender to a deep, dark purple.  It does not matter the shade as I think I can speak for most Filipinos and Filipino-Americans here, that when we see purple or an ube-shade of food, we immediately think…oh look, purple…yes, it’s ube…its good….get it….eat it!

The purple ube by itself is a health food, with anti-oxidant properties.   But perhaps how we prepare it in the Philippines — whipped with milk and sugars, or stuffed in breads, cooked with biko or other rice flour based desserts — takes away its health benefits.  Or maybe there is still enough ube in there to count for something…

Here are some of my ube food photos.  It is common to see these at San Francisco Bay Area Filipino grocery stores and eateries.

Pan de ube — bread stuffed with the purple yam jam!

Philippine sticky rice with coconut dessert “Biko” plain (brown) and purple ube flavored.

Philippine “kakanin” or snack food called Puto, in plain white, or purple, ube flavored.

“Sapin-sapin” a type of layered, sticky, rice flour based snack food and dessert, ube flavored

It is also common to find ube flavored drinks, ice creams and ube snacks at  Filipino eateries, and even fast-food restaurants. This is from Chow-King, advertising halo-halo (an icy treat that translates to “mix-mix”). Click on the photo for Lolako’s Halo-Halo post.

Woman selling snacks contained in banana leaves, at the market, Philippines. The tube shaped items are filled with sticky rice cooked in coconut milk, then steamed. The cupcake looking items are “puto”, a fermented rice flour sweet snack, also cooked inside a banana leaf. You can see purple, or ube flavored ones along with the yellow and pink putos.  Click on photo for more on the Philippine banana-wrapped snack foods.

Ube flavored snack contained in banana leaves

The food snack and Chinese style pastry  “Hopia” typically has yellow mung beans, but lately I have seen these with ube flavored filling, too!

Purple Yam is available in a powdered format, if you want to add a natural food coloring (and some ube flavors) to your food.

Jeff made pan de sal — a traditional breakfast bread in the Philippines — with ube, using this brand of powdered ube.

The recipe is from Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan’s cookbook, Memories of Philippine Kitchens. They are owners of the restaurant Purple Yam, in Brooklyn, New York.

Homemade ube pan de sal with store-bought ube spread.

Frozen UbeFrozen, whole ube is also available at most Asian or Filipino markets.

You can also buy frozen ube that is already grated —- so you can save time if you want to make ube halaya.

Booth at Pistahan Festival in San Francisco – August 2012

Ube Waffles with caramelized macapuno (coconut) syrup by Pinx (

Philippine ube “flower bread”

Picture is a small dish of super purple, ube “halaya”…sweet favorite of grated and mashed ube, cooked with milk (cooked by stirring, then stir, stir and then more stirring).  It is usually topped with bits of coconut curd.

We noticed at our local Filipino store, there are more products with ube flavoring!

Ube flavors snack companies

Ube flavor crackers and more

I was surprised to see ube flavored otap — a type of puff pasty popular in certain parts of the Philippines.  When I was a kid, otap was just plain otap, and now there is ube otap?

Ube is now in so many products…which confirms how much Filipinos love this food flavor.  Or again, maybe it is the color that reminds us of ube “halaya” and other traditional desserts, and food and snack manufacturers know we will likely try it.

What do you think?  Way too strange or…I’ll try that!

Related links:

Purple yam, Dioscorea alata (in cross-section above courtesy Deepugn – via blog In the Company of Plants and Rocks)


Blog post “Will the real yam please stand up”, from the blog, In the Company of Plants and Rocks.

Excerpt…Plants of the genus Dioscorea, the true yams, are perennial vines.  The yams themselves are root tubers…


Ube Flavor Ice Cream from Magnolia – Ramar Foods Intl.



Lolako’s Purple yam…or corn and cheese ice cream…anyone? On the unique, ice cream flavors from the Philippines.



Champorado – chocolate rice porridge

Champorado – chocolate rice porridge

And more of Lola Jane’s Filipino food posts:

  • Champorado origins – a chocolate rice porridge and favorite Filipino breakfast
  • Burgers…and Bangus?  Why the bangus fish is often thought of as a Philippine national symbol
  • About ginamos & tuyo…and can you bring in your luggage when traveling to the US
  • About Sinangag, and how much I missed rice while in boot camp in the US Air Force
  • Use of Banana Leaves in Filipino food

pumnpkin spice oreo cookies webAnd just as Philippine food companies use purple and ube flavors in more and more products, see this post about the pumpkin and pumpkin “spice” flavor trend in the U.S.

California Cherries

Just as last year, the summer is again passing by at blazing speed.  It must be the nature of getting older…every year seems to go by faster than the last.

This year, I wanted to eat plenty of local cherries, since last year, I felt I missed out on the cherry season.


Jeff has been in baking mode, and made this tea cake with blueberries and cherries.  It turned out lovely.  The blueberries and cherries sink towards the bottom of the super moist cake, releasing slightly tart flavors — along with scents from the lemon zest and cardamom — with each bite.

And as far as eating more delicious and plump California cherries this year…well, so far, so good!

The tea cake recipe was in the book, Williams-Sonoma New American Cooking, and came from Sam Hayward, chef-owner of Portland, Maine’s Fore Street Restaurant.

Cherry trees in bloom at spring time, surrounded by mustard flowers. Photo

To see recipes for divine summer treats and beautiful photographs from a California cherry farm, please visit Deborah Ryan’s blog and website, East of Eden Cooking.

For inspiration, Deborah starts her recipe post with quotes from John Steinbeck.  Here is the quote for her post on Triple Cherry Brownies, a decadent summer dessert:

“Look Charles, things grow so fast in California they say you have to plant and step back quick or you’ll get knocked down.”  East of Eden, John Steinbeck

Bhutan Happy: Gross National Happiness (GNH) as an indicator of progress

Have you heard about the country of Bhutan, and their focus on Gross National Happiness or G.N.H. over G.D.P. (Gross Domestic Products)?

Photo of Paro Dzong above — the centre of civil and religious authority in the Paro valley in western Bhutan. Photo by Jean-Marie Hullot via Wikepedia Commons

Bhutan — officially the Kingdom of Bhutan –is a land-locked country at the eastern end of the Himalayas, with a population of 738,267 (World Bank Data 2011).  It is bordered to the south, east and west by the country of India, and to the north by the country of China.

Map Source – U.S. Department of State

Bhutan is a small nation with big ideals.  For a population comparison, there are more residents in the U.S. city of San Francisco, California — population 812, 816 — than the entire country of Bhutan.

Late sunset view  — city of San Francisco, California.  Photo

Despite Bhutan’s small size, are they doing something right, and do they have ideas and ideals that we should all consider?

One has to be curious about a country, whose leaders consider the happiness of its people, as the guiding principle when making policies and decisions for its people.

Here is an example, from an Earth Island Journal article by John de Graaf and Laura Musikanski:

The Bhutanese conviction that happiness should take priority over economic growth has led to some perhaps radical decisions. When Bhutan’s government was deciding whether to join the World Trade Organization, it considered how such a step would impact the country’s happiness. Government officials determined that membership (which is coveted by many countries) would result in a net loss of well-being. The country decided not to join the WTO – at least for now.

And the idea is catching on!  More from the article, in the section, Happiness Is Catching

Since Bhutan’s pioneering effort to better measure well-being, the idea has spread around the world. In the United States, efforts to measure sustainability more holistically began in 1991, when Sustainable Seattle developed the world’s first regional indicators of well-being. Today, more than 350 community organizations in the United States alone have developed some kind of well-being or sustainability indicators. Local governments in Brazil, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom are also beginning to measure happiness.

In July, the idea that GDP is an insufficient gauge of progress reached the highest level of global governance when the United Nations General Assembly invited member countries to “pursue … additional measures that better capture the importance of the pursuit of happiness.”

Earlier this year, I posted this chart from the Economist, for my article Who’s Happy Now.  Post excerpt:

Here is a surprising chart on happiness and GDP, from the Economist.

Well, actually, it may not be that surprising.  Happiness — and most of us know this instinctively anyway — is not related to wealth.  Poor and middle-income countries were the happiest!

The top 3 on the chart are among the most populated countries in the world (Indonesia ranks #4, India #2 and Brazil is #5 in world population).  Indonesia and India also rank among the poorest countries in the world, based on per capita income.

Chart Source: The Economist. DESPITE the economic gloom, the world is happier than it was before the financial crisis set in (according to a recent poll from Ipsos which surveyed 19,000 adults in 24 countries). 77% of respondents describe themselves as “happy”, three percentage points higher than in 2007. Those countries who report themselves as being the happiest tend to be in poor and middle-income countries, while the gloomiest are in rich countries (the figures for Italy and Spain were 13% and 11%).

For more on this topic, please read The Pursuit of Happiness:  A New Measure of Societal Progress Can Help Save the Planet – and Us, an article by John deGraaf and Laura Musikanski, from Earth Island Journal (News of the World Environment).  Excerpt:

Growing Backwards

In the past 30 years, our Gross Domestic Product has doubled. During that same time, some other important figures have also increased: the number of threatened species, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, the rates of diabetes and heart disease.

Meanwhile, almost all the income gained from the GDP growth went to the richest one percent of Americans, creating the widest income gap in the industrial world.

Many of us instinctively feel that disconnect between a growing economy and decreasing quality of life. Some statistics tell us we’re not alone in that feeling. According to polls taken by the National Opinion Research Center, about one-third of Americans described themselves as “very happy” in the 1950s; the percentage remains the same today. More troubling is that clinical depression is three to ten times more common today than two generations ago…

…Yes, we have more stuff than we did 30 years ago, but we are working longer hours than we did then and carry frightening levels of personal debt…

…In his Italian bestseller, Manifesto for Happiness, University of Siena economist Stefano Bartolini compares happiness data around the world and concludes that America is “the example not to follow.”

Bartolini says Americans are caught in a vicious cycle. Our consumption habits demand more debt and longer work hours, reducing our social connections, a central foundation of happiness.

To compensate for the feelings of loneliness, we then buy more stuff, seeking friendship through products. This consumption treadmill is reflected in faster economic growth than in Europe, but it exacerbates Americans’ social disconnection and the deterioration of our environmental commons.

Bartolini argues that the US’s rapid economic growth is more a matter of the inefficiency of the American economy in meeting our actual needs than it is an indicator of dynamism. In short, GDP obscures more than it reveals. The numbers give us a sense that we are wealthy; in fact, we are impoverished when it comes to the things we value most.  Read the complete article, here…

Related links:

The Centre for Bhutan Studies – Gross National Happiness

The Local Nomad: It’s a Costco Life (or how possessions can crush you)

Lola Jane’s: On the “burden of civilization’s excess”…

Track this, track that, but not this…

This morning, I heard a disturbing radio report about the tragic Aurora, Colorado shootings.

The shooter had stockpiled a cache of ammunition for his weapons over the last few months — all legally purchased on-line.

With modern technology, every click, every move that we make on-line is tracked by so many entities, all for commercial purposes and to make money off of us.

Since our data is already sliced, diced, dissected to the smallest possible degree, should there have been a red flag for the type of purchases the shooter, James Holmes, made on-line?

I find it hard to believe that no one questioned all these orders of ammunition from one guy, all delivered to an apartment building…

As it is now, I get emails from Amazon recommending some book based on one I recently bought, but yet there is no system in place to question James Holmes’ unusual (?) on-line purchases.

As always, this is a complex topic, but I do wonder….when it comes to the safety of our citizens, do you think technology should be used not only to track our moves to sell us more stuff and make a profit — but also track potential dangers to the safety of our citizens?

Is that a slippery slope and scary big brother…or an apt and necessary use of modern technology?

From Jack Healy, New York Times:

With a few keystrokes, the suspect, James E. Holmes, ordered 3,000 rounds of handgun ammunition, 3,000 rounds for an assault rifle and 350 shells for a 12-gauge shotgun — an amount of firepower that costs roughly $3,000 at the online sites — in the four months before the shooting, according to the police. It was pretty much as easy as ordering a book from Amazon.

He also bought bulletproof vests and other tactical gear, and a high-capacity “drum magazine” large enough to hold 100 rounds and capable of firing 50 or 60 rounds per minute — a purchase that would have been restricted under proposed legislation that has been stalled in Washington for more than a year.  More of the article, here…

Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: Inside #2 – Window to SF, Art Deco Treasure Island Building

Just in case I offended anyone from my 1st post — and food theme — of the Pacific / King Salmon for the Daily Post Photo Challenge “Inside”, here is a view of San Francisco, looking from inside of a building in Treasure Island.

Part of the San Francisco Skyline, with the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge to the left

Treasure island is a man-made island in the San Francisco Bay, and the building where the photo was taken, was originally built for the Golden Gate International Exposition.

The Art Deco structure was constructed 1938 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Safe?  I will have to be more sensitive to cultural differences…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside (Pacific – King Salmon)

The theme for this week’s photo challenge at the The Daily Post at is Inside.  From Sara Rosso…

Inside. I like to snap multiple views of something and often the inside of something is even more interesting than the outside. This canelé (a French pastry) was definitely worth photographing – I’ll remember all those nooks & crannies!  

I like the food theme from Sara, and I’m posting my salmon photos.

Background:  When we first moved to the Monterey Peninsula, Jeff went on a group salmon fishing trip with his co-workers, on a commercial fishing vessel.  Before he left (cooler in tow), I half-jokingly told him that he should not come home if he does not have any fish for me.  After all, I am from the Philippines, love seafood — especially fresh seafood!

When he came home — again, cooler in tow — he looked rather sad.  I said…”oh no…you did not get any fish?  It’s okay honey, I still love you”.

He was playing with me, as inside the cooler was a huge salmon!  For his first Monterey  fishing trip, he caught the first salmon — and the heaviest one — which won him a cash prize and a Home Depot gift certificate.  Lucky!  There were also rock cods in the cooler.

So you see…a little pressure is not such a bad thing!

Here are my photos of the salmon…outside, and cleaned (and by the way, the biggest fish I have ever cleaned), and the inside, cut up and in steaks and ready to cook.  It was the best tasting fish we have ever eaten.

Gills and guts removed, all cleaned!


The kitchen sink is the double sink type, and the salmon took up both sink spaces.

Maybe I should have done this cleaning business OUTSIDE…I made a mess.


Salmon inside — many slices and servings

Here are some of Jeff’s photos, before they headed out.

Monterey Bay Harbor, California, at dawn

Monterey Bay Sunrise

Almost ready to take off….Monterey Bay Commercial Salmon Fishing Boat

My other fish and creatures-of-the-sea posts:

On Tilapia – Top Aquaculture Fish, if you have ever wondered about the origins of Tilapia, and if it is a safe fish to eat…

On Sharks

  1. About the 4,000 pound Great White Shark caught in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez
  2. and A comparison of shark attacks vs. number of lightning fatalities, U.S.A. West Coast

On Seahorses

  1. Seahorse Exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
  2. Males who get pregnant and give birth?
  3. Seahorses, Magical Fish, about the dramatic decline of seahorses all over the world (the huge economic boom in China means even more trouble for seahorse populations, as seahorses are highly sought after for use in traditional Chinese medicines).

On Sea OttersThe Sea Otter’s One-eyed Peek

About the endangered leatherback sea turtles (which  can grow as big as a Volkswagen bug car!)

About the Philippine Bangus (Milkfish)…the #1 farmed fish in the Philippines and dried and fermented fish, luggage with a special kind of stinky.

Who is Rachel Carson…and the MBARI Open House

On a foggy day last week, Jeff and I walked from the Potrero Rd. entrance to the Moss Landing beach, past the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and towards Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery.

Rather large driftwood — drift LOGS, really, at Moss Landing Beach

On the way back, we decided to take the road and frontage trail, instead of walking back on the beach.  On Sandholdt Road, we noticed this ship, the Rachel Carson, at the Moss Landing Harbor.

We wondered….who is Rachel Carson?

Note: The photo does not do justice to the rather new, shiny ship.

I did not think anymore about the Rachel Carson ship — and these set of photos — until reading the “Your Town” section of today’s Monterey County Herald.  Excerpt:

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute will hold an open house from noon to 5PM Saturday at 7700 Sandholdt Road.

At 12:45PM, aquarium executive director Julie Packard will christen the institute’s newest ship, the R/V Rachel Carson.

Other activities include talks about the expeditions to the Gulf of California and Sargasso Sea, a tour of the labs, a look at ships and undersea robots used in the deep-sea excursions, and workshops where children can build their own remotely operated vehicles.

According to the MBARI website, the R/V Rachel Carson “will serve as a replacement for both the R/V Zephyr and R/V Point Lobos, and will be able to launch both ROVs and AUVs, as well as conduct multi-day expeditions”.

The new research vessel was named Rachel Carson in honor of the American marine biologist and conservationist.  Click here to view a better image for the R/V Rachel Carson, on the MBARI Press Room page.

Rachel Carson wrote the book Silent Spring and is credited with advancing the global environmental movement.  Excerpt from Wikipedia…

Late in the 1950s Carson turned her attention to conservation, especially environmental problems she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. The result was Silent Spring (1962), which brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented share of the American people.

Although Silent Spring met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides, and it inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter.

The open house also celebrates MBARI’s 25th anniversary.  The presentation schedule is as follows:

  • In the PACIFIC FORUM: Extending MBARI’s reach
    12:00 Volcanoes of the Gulf of California ~ Jenny Paduan
    12:30 Video ~ no speaker during christening of R/V Rachel Carson
    01:00 Volcanoes of the Gulf of California (repeat) ~ Jenny Paduan
    01:30 Monterey Bay: A window to the world ~ Chris Scholin
    02:00 Secrets of the Sargasso Sea ~ Alana Sherman
    02:30 ESP around the world ~ Jim Birch
    03:00 Secrets of the Sargasso Sea (repeat) ~ Alana Sherman
    03:30 ESP around the world (repeat) ~ Jim Birch
    04:00 Exploring the Gulf of California ~ Steve Haddock
    04:30 Exploring the Gulf of California (repeat) ~ Steve Haddock
    12:15 Mysteries of the Deep (live presentation)
    01:00 Mysteries of the Deep (live presentation)
    01:30 Deep-sea video
    02:00 Mysteries of the Deep (live presentation)
    02:30 Deep-sea video
    03:00 Mysteries of the Deep (live presentation)
    03:30 Deep-sea video
    04:00 Mysteries of the Deep (live presentation)
    04:30 Deep-sea video

For further details, please visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) website.

Our trail walk back towards Potrero Road…

Foggy Moss Landing Harbor

Beach Sagewort (Artemisia pycnocephala) is the most common, California native plant, found around sand dunes. This one encircled by non-native — and aggressive — iceplants, which do not provide food or shelter to native wildlife.

Reward for lost scientific instrument!

Fish & Wildlife Service employee photo, via Wikipedia

Link to Wikipedia article on Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964)

Carson began her career as a biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, and became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Her widely praised 1951 bestseller The Sea Around Us won her a U.S. National Book Award,[1] recognition as a gifted writer, and financial security. Her next book, The Edge of the Sea, and the reissued version of her first book, Under the Sea Wind, were also bestsellers. That so-called sea trilogy explores the whole of ocean life from the shores to the surface to the depths.

Spectacular Sky

We (sweetest crazy dog — AKA the Aussie, Tucker — and I) don’t normally go for walks too late in the day, but there was just too many things going on today.

By the time we left the house, it was already 10 minutes past 8PM.

The sunsets have been pretty nice in the Monterey Bay over the last few days.  And getting out of the house late turned out to be a nice treat, as the early evening sky was spectacular.

My phone camera captured the scene.  I enjoyed this, while Tucker did his usual…walk, walk, sniff, walk, pee, walk, walk, walk, sniff, pee, and repeat, until we were home again at 9:00PM.  How DO they hold all that pee, and manage to mark so many shrubs, fences, trees, etc…

There are homes with palm trees that tower ridiculously over other trees in the neighborhood.  With the sun away for the day, the palms’ striking contrast reminded me of a silhouette illustration.

Wild World Weather – Summer Edition

In January of this year, I posted a chart and highlights from the State of the Climate report, published by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

Each month, NOAA/NCDC publishes a State of the Climate Report and accompanying charts, highlighting significant climate anomalies and events.

With the devastating news about the extreme drought now affecting more than 1/2 of continental US, I am posting the June, 2012 State of the Climate report, with information on world weather, and U.S. drought /wildfire-related information.

World Weather

While most of the world — including a majority of North America and Eurasia, and northern Africa — experienced higher-than-average monthly temperatures, Australia had below average temperatures during June, and New Zealand experienced its coolest daily maximum temperatures in 130 years.

Click on the map to view a larger version of Selected Significant Climate Anomalies and Events for June 2012

  • June marked the 36th consecutive June and 328th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average temperature June was June 1976 and the last below-average temperature month was February 1985.
  • The Arctic lost a total of 2.86 million square kilometers (1.10 million square miles) of sea ice, the largest loss of sea ice on record for June, since satellite records began in 1979.
  • Austria recorded its highest ever June temperature of 99.9°F (37.7°C) by a full degree Fahrenheit on June 30th in two locations: the capital city of Vienna and in German-Altenburg, Nope.
  • The United Kingdom experienced its wettest June since national records began. England and Wales each tied with 1860 as the wettest June since their records began in 1766.
  • Stockholm, Sweden received four times its average precipitation during June, making this month the city’s wettest ever since records began in 1786.
  • In China, copious rain fell throughout much of June, leading to the evacuation of 5 million people and flooding of 50,000 acres of farmland.
  • In parts of the Philippines, Typhoon Mawar brought 185 km/hr winds, resulting in heavy rains, flash floods and landslides.

US Weather – Drought and Wildfires

  • June 2012 was another warmer- and drier-than-average month (14th warmest and tenth driest June on record, based on data back to 1895) when weather conditions are averaged across the country.
  • Wildfires blazed across 1.36 million acres of the U.S. during June, fed by antecedent drought conditions and unparalleled heat.
  • At month’s end, 57 large wildfires were active in 15 U.S. states, mostly in the West, but also in Central and South Atlantic areas, and even in Alaska and Hawaii. The amount burned in the single month was more than half the total acreage burned by wildfires in the country since January, based on National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) statistics.
  • Based on the Palmer Drought Index, severe to extreme drought affected about 33 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of June 2012, an increase of about 10 percent from last month. About 4 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the severely to extremely wet categories.
  • About 55 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the moderate to extreme drought categories (based on the Palmer Drought Index) at the end of June.

To view current drought related reports, click on the map below or here to link to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s drought monitoring website.

Deformed fish found downstream of Tar Sands Mines

Excerpt, from Earth Island Journal article…

Photo via

First Nations Communities Worried about their Health

Chief Allan Adam, the head of the Fort Chipewyan community in the far north of Alberta, has been fishing in Lake Athabasca for all of his life. His father, now 76 years old, has been fishing there even longer. And neither of them has seen anything like what they pulled from the lake on May 30: two grotesquely deformed, lesion-covered fish.

When they caught the sickly fish, each taken from a different part of the lake, the two Indigenous men immediately figured that it had something to do with the massive tar sands oil mines that lie about 300 kilometers upstream along the Athabasca River. “We have been putting two and two together, and raising concerns about the fast pace of [tar sands] development,” Chief Adam told me in a phone interview this week. “The tailing ponds are leaking and leaching into the rivers, and then going downstream to Lake Athabasca.”

Here in the United States, public opposition to the tar sands has centered on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline: how it could jeopardize the fresh water supplies of the Ogallala Aquifer and how it would increase greenhouse gas emissions by keeping us locked into the petroleum infrastructure. For now, those worries remain hypotheticals. But for the people of Ft. Chipewyan — a community of about 1,200 that is only accessible by plane most of the year — the environmental impacts of the tar sands are already a lived reality.   More…

Philippine Eagle Video at ARKive

Shared by artist David Tomb, a video of the magnificent Philippine Eagle, on the ARKive website.  I will add the link to the post Haring Ibon: The magnificent and critically endangered Philippine eagle (currently’s most viewed post).

Click here to view the 1 minute video, especially if you are not yet familiar with this beautiful — and simply awesome — eagle.  There are 11 Philippine eagle videos on this site.

I’ve seen many photographs of the Philippine eagle, and I am continually amazed at the expressions I see on these images.

Photo by Klaus Nigge – of Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jeffery), captive, Philippine Eagle Center, Davao, Mindanao, Philippines

Related Links:

Lola Jane’s post Haring Ibon: The magnificent and critically endangered Philippine Eagle

ARKive ( – whose mission is promoting the conservation of the world’s threatened species, through the power of wildlife imagery.

“A vast treasury of wildlife images has been steadily accumulating over the past century, yet no one has known its full extent – or indeed its gaps – and no one has had a comprehensive way of gaining access to it. ARKive will put that right, and it will be an invaluable tool for all concerned with the well-being of the natural world.”

Sir David Attenborough -Wildscreen Patron

Rest in Peace Marion Cunningham

Marion Cunningham, cook, author, and advocate for home cooking, died on Wednesday, at the age of 90.

For many years, Marion Cunningham wrote a column for the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times, and contributed articles to Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and Gourmet magazines.  She lived in Walnut Creek, in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I remember reading some of her articles in the Contra Costa Times, or articles about her when we lived in the Bay Area.

Until I heard about her death, I didn’t know that she was already 50 years old when she started her career path towards the cooking world.  She was proof that it is never too late to take up a new career, when you are doing something you love.

Marion Cunningham’s book, Good Eating

We own a few cookbooks, and among them is Marion Cunningham’s Good Eating, which is actually two books in one (The Breakfast Book and The Supper Book).  I’ve used it more often than our other cookbooks.  The recipes are solid, and most are simple, no-fuss to make, meaning they are also kid-friendly.

Some of our cookbooks (Jeff likes to cook!)

The recipe (and LolaKo post) Best Buttermilk Pancakes Ever, is adapted from her recipe.  I’ve also made other pancakes — buckwheat,cornmeal — and waffles, using recipes from The Breakfast Book.

When my grandson Jun (an enthusiastic pancake eater) was home sick from school and I was looking after him, I decided to try another of Marion Cunningham’s pancake recipe.  I settled on Lemon Pancakes, since we had lemons and cottage cheese on hand.

Jun sat at the kitchen counter, and watched.  It was different from our “usual” pancakes — both in the process of making it, and in appearance.

I slipped the first pancake on a plate, swirled syrup on top, and presented it to Jun, who was about 6 years old at the time.  He took a bite, closed his eyes, took a deep breath, smiled, and uttered, “ummmmm…Lola!”.

You can imagine how happy I was at his reaction — and he got better rather quickly too!

I don’t normally make these pancakes as cottage cheese is not an item we keep on hand.  But…it is tasty, and well worth making if you want to make a special treat for your enthusiastic pancake eaters…even if they are not sick.

In honor of Marion Cunningham, here is her recipe.

From The Breakfast Book –  Lemon Pancakes

These pancakes make you sit up and take notice.  Serve them with fresh raspberries or raspberry syrup and you will have a summer morning special.

  • 3 eggs (separated)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.  In another bowl, stir together the egg yolks, flour, cottage cheese, butter, sugar, salt, and lemon zest until well mixed (I use the rotary egg beater I used for beating the egg whites).

With a large spoon or a spatula, fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture.  Gently stir until there are no yellow or white streaks.

Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Grease lightly and spoon out about 3 large tablespoons of batter for each pancake.  Cook slowly for about 1 1/2 minutes, then turn the pancake over and cook about 30 seconds.  Keep the pancakes warm in a 250 degree oven until ready to serve.

Related Links:

San Francisco Chronicle SF Gate article, with Marion Cunningham’s recipe for raised waffles.

New York Times article on Marion Cunningham’s death, with her recipe for coffee cake

Lola Jane’s Best Buttermilk Pancakes Ever

Parked Pelican

We heard about the sick baby pelicans showing up at local beaches.

This afternoon, at the Monterey Commercial Fisherman’s Wharf (Old Fisherman’s Wharf), we spotted this little guy, looking listless, next to a parked truck. It does look like a brown pelican, though rather small.

Despite a commotion of moving vehicles and people around the area, it hardly moved.

Excerpt from the Santa Cruz – KION news report:

WildRescue believes the birds are a part of a natural die off of young birds. They believe it is unusual though because the brown pelican’s population, once threatened to near extinction, have rebounded and scientists  are now seeing a large annual mortality that, so far, is believed to be normal.

According to WildRescue, there is a limit to the amount of resources to care for pelicans. The nearest center is hours away in Cordelia (International Bird Rescue) and they are overrun with young pelicans which cost a great deal to feed.

WildRescue advises people who come across an injured or ill-looking pelican to:

1) Note the color of the head, then phone WildRescue’s California  hotline to report it 1-866-WILD-911.

2) Keep people and dogs away from the birds. It is a violation of federal law to harass wild birds.

WildRescue will  rescue as many birds as resources allow, seeing to the adult birds, first.  If you want to volunteer to help rescue pelicans or help transport them, please visit (They need responders in Santa Cruz, San Jose and San Francisco).

More, from WildRescue’s Blog, and from the Monterey County Herald report, Local pelicans deaths a natural event, wildlife groups say.

Some good news on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for 2015

Back in the year 2000, 189 nations promised to free people from extreme poverty and other deprivations.  This pledge  is the basis for the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDG) — a blueprint agreed to by the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions — with a target for the year 2015.

The Eight Millennium Development Goals for 2015 are:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development

Seaside Market, Philippines – photo

With less than 3 years left until the end of 2015, which of these goals have been achieved?

The good news…a report launched earlier this month by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon indicated that important targets on poverty, slums and water have been met three years ahead of 2015.

As far as the remaining goals…here are highlights from the United Nations Development Programme’s article: With three MDG targets achieved, global partnership for development is key to 2015 success

  • Meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible ─ but only if Governments do not waiver from their commitments made over a decade ago.
  • In his foreword to the 2012 MDG Report, Mr. Ban says “The current economic crises besetting much of the developed world must not be allowed to decelerate or reverse the progress that has been made.  Let us build on the successes we have achieved so far, and let us not relent until all the MDGs have been attained”.

There is progress…

The MDG Report says that, for the first time since poverty trends began to be monitored, both the number of people living in extreme poverty and the poverty rates have fallen in every developing region—including sub-Saharan Africa, where rates are highest.

Preliminary estimates indicate that in 2010, the share of people living on less than a $1.25 a day dropped to less than half of its 1990 value. Essentially, this means that the MDG first target—cutting the extreme poverty rate to half its 1990 level—has been achieved at the global level, well ahead of 2015. 

The MDG Report also notes another success: reaching the target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of drinking water by 2010. The proportion of people using improved water sources rose from 76 per cent in 1990 to 89 per cent in 2010, translating to more than two billion people currently with access to improved sources such as piped supplies or protected wells.

And the share of urban residents in the developing world living in slums has declined from 39 per cent in 2000 to 33 per cent in 2012.  More than 200 million have gained access to either improved water sources, improved sanitation facilities, or durable or less crowded housing. This achievement exceeds the target of significantly improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, also ahead of a 2020 deadline.

The MDG Report 2012 also points out that the world has achieved another milestone: parity in primary education between girls and boys. Driven by national and international efforts, many more of the world’s children are enrolled in school at the primary level, especially since 2000. Girls have benefited the most. There were 97 girls enrolled per 100 boys in 2010—up from 91 girls per 100 boys in 1999.

The report says that enrollment rates of primary school age children have increased markedly in sub-Saharan Africa, from 58 to 76 per cent between 1999 and 2010. Many countries in the region have succeeded in reducing their relatively high out-of-school rates even as their primary school age populations were growing.

At the end of 2010, 6.5 million people in developing regions were receiving antiretroviral therapy for HIV or AIDS, constituting the largest one-year increase ever. Since December 2009, more than 1.4 million people were being treated.

“These results”, said Mr. Ban “represent a tremendous reduction in human suffering and are a clear validation of the approach embodied in the MDGs. 

But, they are not a reason to relax.  Projections indicate that in 2015 more than 600 million people worldwide will still lack access to safe drinking water, almost one billion will be living on an income of less than $1.25 per day, mothers will continue to die needlessly in childbirth, and children will suffer and die from preventable diseases. 

Hunger remains a global challenge, and ensuring that all children are able to complete primary education remains a fundamental, but unfulfilled, target that has an impact on all the other goals. Lack of safe sanitation is hampering progress in health and nutrition … and greenhouse gas emissions continue to pose a major threat to people and ecosystems”.   MORE, here…

Related Links and Reports on Millennium Development Goals

Lola Jane’s post – GDP Poor Nations Per Capita Income

Millennium Development Goals Indicators – Official website for the United Nation’s Millennium Indicators.  Click here for country specific data, the Philippines, etc.

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2012

Summary: Three important targets on poverty, slums and water have been met three years ahead of 2015, says this year’s Report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible ─ but only if Governments do not waiver from their commitments made over a decade ago.  Click here to view this report.

REPORT: What will it take to achieve the Millennium Development Goals?  From the United Nations Development Programme, an international assessment, based on a review of 50 country studies.

Click here to view report in PDF Format



Report: Unlocking Progress: MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF) lessons from pilot countries

Reviews of MDG progress in various countries have revealed many successes, but also the need for urgent, focused action. In the absence of enhanced efforts, many countries risk missing one or more of the targets by the deadline.This report shares the lessons from 10 pilot countries on efforts taken toward meeting the 2015 MDG deadline.  Click here to view report in PDF format.

Tagalish SPICY McBites

I still don’t get why McDonald’s has these Tagalog / English — or “Tagalish” — ads in U.S. published, Philippine newspapers…well, aside from keeping those fast food dollars going to McDonalds, instead of Philippine fast food giant, Jollibee.

English, along with Tagalog is an official language in government, and most newspapers in the Philippines are published in ENGLISH.

It must be working for them.  Here is another one…this time, spicy chicken McBites.

Tagalish Spicy McBite Ad

Ad reads:

A different new taste in the flavor world.  New Spicy Chicken McBites from McDonalds — each bite of chicken brings unparalleled spicy taste.  Taste it soon as it is available only for a limited time.

View the rest of the Tagalish ads in Lolako’s category “Language and Advertising – Tagalish Ads”

I, too, speak, and write in Tagalish.  I do wonder though, as a Filipino-American, do these “Tagalish” ads make you feel like McDonald’s cares about your culture, or, knowing that the Philippines is the 3rd largest, English-speaking country in the world, do you feel insulted?

More photos from the Obon Festival

Additional photos from the 66th Annual Obon Festival at the Monterey Peninsula Buddhist Temple

Salinas Kendo Dojo Demonstration

Seibukan Jujutsu Demonstration

Seibukan Jujutsu Demonstration

Seibukan Jujutsu Demonstration

Shinsho Mugen Daiko

Shinsho Mugen Daiko

Shinsho Mugen Daiko

Shinsho Mugen Daiko

Bon Odori Dancer on the way to the temple

Best Food Vendor!

Of the food we sampled — from gyozas, beef and chicken teriyaki, tempuras, yakisoba  — our favorite was the Kushi Katsu vendor.

If you were at the festival, let me know your favorite part of the day…food or event.

Related Links:

Salinas Kendo Dojo – (The Japanese martial art of fencing)

Monterey Budokan  Martial Arts Academy – Seibukan Jujutsu

Shinsho-Mugen daiko of Monterey –

Yosokan Dojo Martial Arts Center –  – Aikido of Monterey

Lolako’s post on Monterey Peninsula 66th Annual Obon Festival

Annual Obon Festival at the Monterey Peninsula Buddist Temple

While the Washington D.C. area bakes in 100+ degree weather, the temperature was cool and in the 60’s today at the Monterey Peninsula Buddhist Temple, in Seaside, California — home base for the 66th Annual Obon Festival.

From the Monterey Peninsula Buddhist Temple website:

The Obon festival is a Buddhist tradition to celebrate, remember and express gratitude to all family members who have died.  The Obon festival has been celebrated in Japan since 657 AD.  The first Obon in the United States was held in Hawaii in 1910; festivals on the mainland began about 20 years later.  2012 marks the 66th year of the Obon Festival on the Monterey Peninsula.

The first Monterey Obon Festival was held on August 25, 1947 at the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) Hall in Monterey, home to the Temple then. In 1963, the event was moved to the Monterey County Fairgrounds where it was held for 30 years.  The Obon Festival returned to the Temple, now in Seaside, in 1993.  3,000 to 5,000 people from across the Monterey Peninsula and beyond attend each year.

We visited the festival for the first time since moving to this area, and were pleasantly surprised.  It was a well-organized event, featuring plenty of food booths, martial arts demonstrations, tea ceremonies, a book and Asian gift store, and exhibits of bonsai – the practice of long-term cultivation and shaping of small trees growing in a container.

The bonsai displays were interesting, and once we realized how old the trees were — from 20 to 50 years old — we really appreciated the devotion it takes to practice this Japanese art form.

It is fascinating to see a redwood tree (sequoias) — the tallest living trees on our planet, and normally growing 300-350 feet tall — in miniature format, and growing in a tiny ceramic pot.

Bonsai Redwood Tree – Click on the photo to learn more about Giant Sequoias and Coast Redwood Trees, and about one that traveled to the moon and now planted in downtown historic Monterey

Bonsai Monterey Pine Tree

Bonsai Olive Tree

Bonsai Elm Tree

Bonsai with flowers!

There were also presentations of ikebana – the Japanese art of flower arrangement.  As much as I love vases overflowing with flowers, it is enjoyable to see a minimalist style of presenting flowers, where the emphasis is also about the lines, the stems and the twigs.

Some beautiful examples below:

Did I mention the wonderful volunteers happily pouring free cups of hot green tea to festival attendees?  The hot green tea was perfect for the cool weather (warm sake, cold beer and sodas were also available for sale).

My one complaint…the Styrofoam cups, which are difficult to recycle!  If you read this and plan to attend next year, bring your own mugs for the free hot green tea and other beverages.

More photos from the festival, tomorrow…

Related links: – link to 2012 Japanese Obon & Bon Odori Schedule

Monterey Bonsai Club

Monterey Peninsula Buddist Temple

Ikebana International – Monterey Bay Chapter

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – Movement in Tae Kwon Do class

If you have read my blog over the last year, you know that topics close to my heart are related to the environment and conservation, as well as poverty and the Philippines (where I am originally from).  I can’t help it…I’m a grandmother deeply concerned about the state of the planet and what we are leaving behind for our grandchildren.  I feel compelled to learn about, and post articles on these topics.

These posts can often be depressing…which is why I look forward to the WordPress Photo Challenge from the Daily Post.  It gives me an opportunity to think about and share photos which I would not normally think to post on my blog.

This week, the theme is “movement”.  I thought about the photos I have from my grandsons’ Tae Kwon Do classes, and how frustrating it is — for me at least — to have a good “movement” or as I interpret this theme, an “action” type shot.

I have probably spent hundreds of hours taking my grandsons to Tae Kwon Do practice, often with camera in hand.  Though I love taking photos — and have taken photographs since I was a teenager, I am still a beginner.

Soon, I will elevate my photography to the next level…meaning, get a more professional camera and actually read the technical manual!

For now though, here is my submission for the “movement” photo challenge – with the theme Tae Kwon Do.

Here are some captures to give a feel for the classes:

Practicing “Poomse” movements at Tae Kwon Do class

Youngest Tae Kwon Do classes for 3 1/2 to 5 years old. My younger grandson is the little guy at the end with a white belt, looking at his Lola (grandmother) Jane, instead of listening to Master Lee.

Students enjoy playing dodge ball, after Tae Kwon Do class.  You can see the ball at the lower right hand side.

Board breaking at Tae Kwon Do belt promotion test

Sparring during Tae Kwon Do promotion test

So….despite the countless photos I have taken at Tae Kwon Do practice…I don’t have a  good photo of my grandchildren, breaking a board for promotion test, etc.

I did capture shots I liked…not of the grandsons, but of one of the instructors, Mr. Yates, doing a demonstration, at a promotion test.

Setting up concrete blocks

Alas! Captured a good “movement” shot

And as far as the best “movement” shots of my grandchildren at Tae Kwon Do….well, that is left to Monterey Bay professional photographer Ricky Cabalza.  Here are his photographs of my grandsons.

Photos by Ricky Cabalza –

Photo by Ricky Cabalza –

Professional photographers like Ricky Cabalza can coax and capture a fierce look, even from 4 and 7-year-old little guys.

If I had asked my grandsons to pose for something similar to the photo below, they would most likely make goofy faces at me, and probably stick their tongues out as I clicked the camera button.

Photos by Ricky Cabalza –

My other weekly photo challenge submissions are “Surfer-in-Training”, and the Philippine transportation method for the theme fleeting moment on the street — the “put-put” on last week, as well as weaving hands on a prior photo challenge theme, also at’s blog section.

Did you know that Tae Kwon Do is the national sport of South Korea?  It is also considered the most popular martial arts based on the number of practitioners world-wide (estimated at over 70 million in 190 countries),  and has been an Olympic event since 2000. 

Ancient Proverb

An ancient proverb, found on the page “The Human Cost of Climate Change”, from the United Nations Development Programme’s Asia-Pacific Human Development Report (more on this report next week).

Treat the earth well:
it was not given to you by your parents,
it was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors,
we borrow it from our children.

Ancient proverb

Philippines sends banana trade mission to Middle East and Europe

From a report by Louella D. Desiderio –

MANILA, Philippines – The government has sent a trade mission to the Middle East and Europe as it seeks to find new markets for the country’s bananas and even as it still intends to increase shipments to China, trade officials said.

“We have a banana mission to the Middle East and Europe. They left Saturday,” Trade undersecretary Cristino Panlilio said in a press conference yesterday.

He said the trade mission was sent to Abu Dhabi and Dubai since these are where the trading centers of the Middle East are located.

The trade mission, he said, would also go to Italy and in Brussels.  More here