WPC: Fresh flowers and plants for the 1st day of Spring

Today is the first day of spring in our part of the world — my favorite season!  It is also Friday and WordPress photo challenge time.

California Poppy oldtown Monterey

Bright orange California poppies — a symbol of spring. Photo taken near Colton Hall downtown historic Monterey last week.

The theme this week is “Fresh”.  From Jen H…

In the Northern Hemisphere, spring is beginning to slowly appear, and many of us whose creativity was dampened by the cold and drear of winter days are beginning to reawaken. The freshness of spring is a powerful catalyst to get shutterbugs outdoors and get
shooting.

For this week’s photo challenge, share with us a photo that expresses something fresh

The “freshness of spring” is exactly the reason for these photos.

From oak trees sprouting new leaves…

Fresh new leaves on oak

And new sprouts on eucalyptus and pines…

Fresh grass and more…

And flowers abundantly expressing the freshness of spring…

Spring Blue Scrub Jay

I don’t have the right camera to take bird photos, but this “California” Coastal Western scrub jay didn’t seem to mind being close so I snapped these photos too.  Easy enough since the Western jays live in many suburban gardens.

Fresh plants and hearing so many birds chirping outdoors is a wonderful sign of spring.

Spring Blue Scrub Jay 1

To participate in the challenge, click here.  And I wish you a most happy spring season!

Some visitors unknowingly redirected to ads!

I just found out that some of LolaKo’s visitors may have been redirected to ads due to a widget I had on my site.  I apologize if this happened to you.  After some research I learned it was caused by “Sitemeter”, which was recommended by someone I trusted — and I’ve had it on this site since my first post in 2011.  Never had problems until now, and apparently, when Sitemeter was bought by another company.

Anyway, I deleted it, it’s gone, and if you had this problem, or it continues, please contact me.  And again, apologies if this affected you!

It turns out the redirects happened with WordPress sites, with Sitemeter installed (free or paid versions), and if you use browsers other than Firefox (?). How annoying… actually more so, it is nefarious!  Which is why I’m posting this information, as the fix was not so obvious

From the University of Pennsylvania Language Log:

Sitemeter Comment

…But as of yesterday evening, for a significant period of time, every single attempt to access a LLOG page resulted in a glimpse of the desired page followed quickly by redirection to x.vindicosuite.com, which is apparently some sort of passive DNS replicator or something. As far as I can tell, no virus or worm attack was involved, but the redirection alone is unacceptable, even if this is just another bug in sitemeter’s counting software rather than anything malicious.

It seems that a lot of other people had the same problem with sitemeter (see also here, and many other comments over the past couple of years). So I’ve removed the sitemeter code from our WordPress installation. Now I can look forward to wasting a few hours trying to get sitemeter to stop charging me for their “service”.

Sometimes you think you just have a “blog” and it infuriates me that these things happen,and then I have to research to figure out why my the clicks on Jetpack were showing “x.vindicosuite.com” links instead of the usual and typical ones I see for my blog (the countries where Filipinos work overseas, or informational links for visitors who come looking for information on Tilapia, or the Philippine Eagle photos of all things!).

Reminds of this cartoon I posted 2 months after I started my blog when I went through what I THOUGHT was a simple task to change my domain name registry.

Bizarro Cartoon 5-26-2011

Bizarro Cartoon 5-26-2011

If you are a fan of Bizarro cartoons as I am, or just want to laugh, here is the link to the blog, www.bizarrocomics.com, with the tagline “A daily blog by Dan Piraro, creator of the syndicated newspaper cartoon, Bizarro. It has cartoons, art, photos, thoughts, vids, nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. Please enjoy responsibly”.

WPC Walls 2: National Steinbeck Center Walls from Exhibit “Filipino Voices”

My second entry for the WordPress Photo Challenge theme…WALL (first entry, here).

Ever since I posted photos of John Steinbeck’s hometown for the WordPress Photo Challenge topic “Reward”, it seems he has been ever-present on my mind.

Steinbeck Exhibit Wall 4

I remember now that I never posted photos on my blog from an exhibit at the Steinbeck Center, focused on the communities that defined the Salinas Valley, including my own — the Filipino Community.

Steinbeck Exhibit Entrance

Although I did not grow up in this area (I grew up in the Philippines), I enjoyed participating in the process, and making new friends — all while learning about the deep roots of Filipinos in the Salinas Valley.

Steinbeck Exhibit Wall 2

I also learned so much more about the history of Filipino immigrants to the U.S., and Filipino-American farm workers’ brave fight for rights along with Cesar Chavez and the UFW.  (Also see Delano Grape Strike article here, or about the film by Marissa Aroy – Delano Manongs Facebook page.  Note: this film was shown at the 2015 Seattle Asian American Film Festival - Social Justice Shorts)

Maybe it was too busy then, or that I was not too crazy about the photos I took (I’ve learned so much more about photography since then, and got rid of the awful pocket camera I had).

But thanks to these WordPress Photo challenge prompts, and for my family history…I now add these photos to my blog of the walls, at the Filipino Voices Exhibit at the National Steinbeck Center.

The exhibit occurred during the spring / summer of 2012.

Steinbeck Exhibit Wall 8

To see entries for this weekly photo challenge, click here, and to participate, consider…

…walls you’ve erected and decorated, the halls you walk down each day, or the exteriors you’ve ignored or neglected. What do these walls reveal about a place, people, or you?

WPC Wall: Cherished personal artwork on our walls

This week, the WordPress Photo Challenge theme from Cheri Lucas Rowlands is WALL…

From the interior walls of our home, to our book club’s Facebook wall, to the community bulletin board at the local market, walls are the canvases of our lives: where stories are read, voices are heard, ideas are shared. Much can be revealed from the items on a wall, from old postcards to long-forgotten flyers.

Items on the walls in our home that reflect something personal, something that a loved one made is what I cherish the most.

From the artwork of our grandsons…

Wall of art

to our daughter’s drawing…

Wall of daughter art web

a gift to her father for Christmas, in 2009…

Wall art from daughter web

To see entries for this weekly photo challenge, click here, and to participate, consider…

…the walls you’ve erected and decorated, the halls you walk down each day, or the exteriors you’ve ignored or neglected. What do these walls reveal about a place, people, or you?

It will be fun to look for interesting walls outside our home, with this prompt.

Historic Monterey – Photos for the Monthly Photo Challenge “The Changing Seasons”

I’m participating in a monthly photo challenge called “The Changing Seasons” to practice my photography.  My first entry were photos from author John Steinbeck’s hometown, of Oldtown Salinas.

This month, I’m focusing on the historic buildings and gardens in the “old” downtown area of Monterey, as I can see a more distinct change in seasons with the lovely (and secret) gardens in old Monterey.  These photographs were taken earlier this week.

Memory Garden Wisteria

Monterey is the most well-known city in Monterey County, here in the Central Coast of California.  Right now, there are not many tourist, but in another month or two, there will be a lot of visitors converging in this area.

Many people have heard of Monterey, perhaps because of the annual Monterey Jazz Festival, or the world-renowned Monterey Aquarium, and tourist destinations like Cannery Row (immortalized in John Steinbeck novels), and Fisherman’s Wharf.  The spectacular “Big Sur” coast, the Pebble Beach and Spanish Bay Golf Courses are also huge tourist draws for the county.

The Cannery Row area is in a newer part of town, called “New Monterey” and where most tourist visit, and because it leads to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Old Monterey Buildings Details 6Less visited is the older, downtown part of Monterey, which is actually very interesting with many historic buildings, all within easy walking distance of one another.Bouganvilleas

There are homes in the area that are National and California Historical Landmarks, and buildings that combine Spanish Colonial building methods with New England architectural features.

There are also Monterey Colonial style of architecture, which features two stories, porches, a hip roof, and adobe walls.  Some of the buildings are occupied as offices by the city (including one by the City Attorney).

Here are a few examples of the buildings and homes in the area…

Building details…

There are espaliered and pollarded trees in the city gardens and streets, which I photographed so I can see them with leaves and in bloom for the next visit…

Espalier example Historic Monterey Gardens 1

 

And finally, my favorite part, the gardens, with many plants in bloom, a feast for the eyes…

 

Eventually, I will learn more technical aspects of photography…for now though, I am just pointing and shooting, and enjoying the process.  It is also fun to play tourist in one’s “backyard” through this photo challenge.

To see entries for this challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman, or to participate, click here.

Unless… Earth-Friendly Friday: My Water Footprint and about the Filipino “tabo”

This week’s Earth-Friendly challenge continues on the theme of water (last week was about our watersheds – and our watershed in Monterey County is the Salinas River Watershed).

The challenge this week asked us to take a “Water Footprint Calculator” developed by National Geographic.  I highly recommend taking this survey — I was surprised at the information learned including:

  • It takes 880 gallons of water to produce a gallon of milk
  • 1 cup of coffee takes 55 gallons of water to make (we drink a lot of coffee!)

Here are the numbers for our household:

Water Footprint Calculator

Part of why we use less water than the U.S. Average is that we live in an area with very mild climate and we do not have a typical lawn (though our neighbors do, and one in particular has installed a “fake” or plastic lawn — see photos here).

So…it takes very little water to maintain the trees and shrubs where we now live, and we also save on energy bills because no one needs an air conditioner in this area.

We are older and do not need or buy as many “stuff” as most.  And again, because of the mild climate, our clothing do not need to be washed as often as say, if we lived in the Philippines or a hot climate where clothing would be drenched in sweat every few hours and must be washed frequently.

The area we can continue to improve upon to reduce our water footprint is our diets and to eat less meat.  Though we eat a lot of chicken, I do want to eventually transition more to a mostly vegetarian diet.  Cutting out beef and pork completely (which my younger sister has done) and some form of meat is still a challenge because

  1. Jeff grew up in the Midwest and although he is a great cook and we eat a variety of styles of food, his basic go to meal consists of a plate with a “meat”, potatoes, and vegetables.
  2. Pork is a big part of my Philippine culture and celebrations — as with many Pacific / island nations — and I’m not quite there yet in terms of completely cutting that out of my diet (see post “My Germany and Philippine Connection” and you will get an idea, since a Filipino party is not a real party without our “lechon”.

The bottom line is there are always areas to improve on,  in our household’s water footprint.

I recently met two women who go above and beyond most in their water saving efforts, and I add their ideas for this blog post.

Marilyn Water Saving HeroineThis is Marilyn — a water saving heroine.

She is a retired teacher and lives in Bakersfield (Southern California) where there are water restrictions in place because of California’s continuing — and severe drought conditions.

She told me that when she takes a shower, she puts a bucket under the tub/faucet to capture water that otherwise would go down the drain, while she waits for the water temperature to warm to her liking. She also uses her washing machine “grey water” to water her garden.

She has been able to reduce her water use and bill by 50% with these new habits!

Amalia Water Saving HeroineThis is Amalia — she lives in Marina (Monterey County, California) and is also a water saving heroine.

She is mindful about saving all the water she can, including using the grey water from washing her dishes to water her plants.

She is originally from the Philippines and does something that some Filipinos still practice — in the Philippines — and that most Filipino-Americans would not think to do here in the U.S.

She uses a “tabo” (pronounced as“TAH-boh”) to bathe.

So what the heck is a tabo, you ask?  Technically, a sort of water dipper and tool for taking a tropical shower!

The modern tabos are made with plastic and has a handle.  Traditional ones were made of hollowed bamboos with a handles, or large coconut shells.

Tabo

A plastic “tabo”. My older sister and I each brought one back from a trip to the Philippines, because we had not seen anything like it (with a handle) for sale here in the states.

The tabo is also used for bathroom hygiene and cleaning, and is pretty much a fixture in bathrooms in the Philippines — in private homes as well as in public places (work places, restaurant bathrooms, etc.).

Using a tabo to bathe is actually akin to an old-fashioned “military shower” where you rinse, shut off the shower water, lather, shampoo, etc., then turn the shower on again to rinse off.

Except that instead of the shower,  the tabo is used with a big bucket (called a “balde”) or other larger container of water.  Same idea, you dip the tabo in the bucket, pour the water over your head and body to rinse…then soap, lather, shampoo, then do a final rinse.  It saves A LOT of water.

Amalia is super dedicated to saving resources not for herself but as she put it “for my children, and their children…and those living here on earth after I am gone”.  She says she often gets into disagreements with her sister and family members about her eco-habits, and they don’t understand why she takes a Filipino style bath, telling her “you are in America now, why are you still using a tabo?”….yet she proudly sticks to her water-saving practices.

While I admire Amalia’s dedication to water conservation, I’m now quite fond of the American style shower.  Though she has inspired me to check to see if the shower heads we have use the absolute least amount of gallons per minute!  Always room for improvement, right?  :)

To participate in this timely WordPress weekly challenge hosted by JustAnotherNatureEnthusiast.org, and inspired by the Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax,  click here.

NOTE: For this post, my explanation of the tabo is for its use as a “tropical shower”.  In the Philippines and other countries in Southeast Asia, a tabo is part of the culture — and specifically, the bathroom culture (and may be controversial or disgusting to non-Filipinos).  So if you really are curious, there is a comprehensive Wikipedia article about the Filipino use of the tabo, its history, and includes mention of a Filipino who was fired from his job in Australia for using a tabo.  Click here to read…

Related:

ecology_center_headerBerkeley, California-based Ecology Center’s Guide to Greywater-Compatible Cleaning ProductsWastewater that is discharged to the greywater system ends up in the garden soil and can either be beneficial or harmful to soil, water systems, and plant life. A common problem with improper use of greywater systems is salt build up in the soil…

2014 California ShowerMy post last year about California’s drought emergency as it relates to showers and crop production

 

baths v shower cat dog image

Which method uses less water — Bath vs. Shower? Question answered by Umbra at Grist.org

WPC Orange 2: California’s First Brick House

Californias 1st brick building Monterey State Historic ParkCalifornia’s first “fired brick” house —  part of the Monterey State Historic Park’s buildings in downtown old Monterey — also fits right in the WordPress Photo Challenge theme of orange.

The house was built in 1847.  Before construction of this brick structure, most homes in the area were made from adobe — blocks of sun-dried mud.

Californias 1st brick house 7

From the HistoricMonterey.org website:

All Monterey’s early structures were built of adobe (sun-dried mud) blocks. Walls as thick as three feet were needed to support second story floors.

Adobe buildings required plastering on exterior surfaces to keep out damaging winter rains, otherwise the walls were likely to crumble.

 In 1847, Gallant Dickerson arrived in Monterey to introduce a new building technique to California: the art of fired clay brickmaking. Fired brick’s increased strength allowed multiple-storied buildings with standard wall widths; fired brick was also water-resistant and required little or no surface treatment.

Californias 1st brick house 3

Dickerson fired thousands of clay blocks into rock-hard bricks, and with them built one of the first fired-brick buildings in California. He completed only the portion of First Brick House that stands today before moving his family to the Sierra Nevadas in search of gold.

To see other entries and interpretations on the photo theme orange, click here.

WPC: What’s not to love about the color ORANGE?

The theme for the WordPress Photo Challenge this week is orange

From Michelle W…

What’s not to love about orange? It’s vibrant. It’s cheerful. It makes a statement. It’s the perfect punctuation for a punchy photo.

This week, share a group of photos where orange is either the dominant color, or provides a bold highlight. Shoot for at least three photos, and look for different shades — bright neons, deep rusts, delicate peaches.

I didn’t realize how many photos I had with orange colors until this theme…and some with no “home”, so for this challenge, I’m going for orange-themed collages.

I’ll start with turban squash and pumpkin photos, including my little ninja costumed grandsons (playing the part) by their Halloween pumpkins…

Orange hues from the Moss Landing Antique Fair, where you will find anything from Bakelite (an early form of plastic) bracelets to Pez candy dispensers…

And it’s always easy to spot orange hues at the Farmers Market, and I’m so happy when fall comes and crunchy Fuyu persimmons are in season…

My grandsons ran their first 3K race at the Just Run program, the day before the International Big Sur Marathon last year, and there were a LOT of orange there!

Here they are with their teachers at the Pacific Grove starting / ending points.  Their teachers coordinated the program for their school last year…

Orange seems to be a big theme in my grandsons’ clothing, especially when I want to keep track of them at crowded places, like during visits to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (included in this collage is an orange hued sea anemone at the aquarium)…

At an annual Labor Day parade, my grandsons’ Taekwondo school marched near the Monterey Korean Community contingent, where there were plenty of orange found in the costumes.  The last photo is of then “orange belt” Gabriel waiting for instruction before demonstrating a board break at a festival, after the parade…

I posted these jellyfish photos for the Earth-Friendly Friday challenge on severe weather and wildlife well being (about jellyfish blooms)

And finally, the last batch of this orange-fest are some of my orange hued sunset photos, starting with a sunset with the Golden Gate Bridge at the background, to one taken from home…

Whew!  That is a lot of orange themes, and a whole lot more than what Michelle suggested…but somehow I feel better at posting photos from my digital library that otherwise may have been forgotten.

To see other entries and interpretations on the photo theme orange, click here.

UNLESS… Earth-Friendly Friday: My Watershed – The Salinas River Watershed

Salinas River State Beach Sign webThere are several beaches on the California Central coast named after the Salinas river.

We visit these beaches often, but I did not think about the name, or about the Salinas River or its source, until the blogging challenge for Earth-Friendly Friday on the topic “Water – What’s Your Watershed?”.

The challenges this month will focus on WATER — and coincides with water related events during March (International Day of Actions for Rivers and the United Nations World Water Day).

To get started for the first week in March, the challenge is to think about rivers and streams, and to post photos. and take a look at watershed rivers/streams near us — and to tell a little about them.

Salinas River by Dole Facility facing east web

Photo of the Salinas RIver facing east, by California State Highway 1 byr the large Dole shipping facility near the city of Marina

This challenge is interesting because I did not know very much about watersheds — and in participating in this challenge, I learned something new!

The Salinas River Watershed

The watershed for our area is the Salinas river watershed and covers 4,600 square miles.   It turns out that the Salinas river originates in San Luis Obispo county (south of Monterey County) before emptying into the Monterey Bay — and merging with the Pacific ocean.

Information from the Sustainable Conservation website:

  • The Salinas River flows northwesterly through the Salinas valley (the valley lies in the Coast Ranges and is defined to the west by the Sierra de Salinas and east by the Gabilan Range).
  • It is 10 miles wide and 155 miles long
  • Primary land uses in the Salinas River watershed are row crops, vineyards, pasture and grazing lands, as well as urban areas, military bases and public open space

Problems Facing the Watershed

I’ve posted several articles on my blog about Monterey County’s mild weather, rich soils, and its multi-billion dollar agricultural industry.  The agricultural industry is a major source of jobs for many in this county, but is also a source of environmental problems.

Again, from the Sustainable Conservation website:

  • The intense agricultural production has created a variety of problems for the area’s natural resources.
    1. Rainfall and irrigation produce runoff that carries soils and associated pesticides and pollutants into the watercourses and down to the ocean.
    2. Clearing stream banks of vegetation has reduced and degraded habitat for avian and aquatic species.
    3. Erosion has filled the streams and reduced their natural functioning.
    4. The degradation of habitat and water quality has contributed to the steep decline in steelhead (fish) populations, and generally reduces the diversity of species and natural productivity of the area.
  • Unabated, this continuing loss of natural functioning contributes to the overall decline of California’s native plant and animal species and lowers the quality of life for our communities as well.
Salinas River by Dole Facility web

Salinas river flowing towards Pacific Ocean by California State Highway 1, facing west near Dole facility and town of Marina

The Salinas River Watershed is the 4th largest watershed in California.  Interestingly, the Salinas river is also known as the “The Upside Down River” because unlike most California rivers that flow west or south, it flows northward and has one of the largest subsurface flows in the nation.  From the Conservation Consulting website:

  • The river flows into one of the worlds most diverse marine ecosystems, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
  • The river is designated by the California State Water Resources Control Board as one of the most critical watersheds in California (more on California water resources, here)

I’m planning on visiting some river areas farther up our county this year and learning more about the Salinas river, including about the 20 wineries along Monterey County’s “River Road Wine Trail”.  I wonder…do these river road wineries follow the Salinas river or its tributaries?

Photo below from another California State Park beach area related to the Salinas river, near the town of Moss Landing, California.

Salinas River State Beach at Moss Landing 1

Photo after sunset near Salinas River State beach at Moss Landing

To take part in this challenge and to see responses.. click here.

This new blogging event is inspired by prophetic words written in 1971 by Dr. Seuss in his book – The Lorax …” UNLESS . . . someone like youcares a whole awful lot,nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Story of the whole valley web Related: Oldtown Salinas photos and post about author John Steinbeck for WordPress Photo Challenge.

The Salinas River is mentioned in many of Steinbeck’s novels.

Quote below from his 1952 novel,  East of Eden…

“The Salinas was only a part-time river.  The summer sun drove it underground.  It was not a fine river at all, but it was the only one we had so we boasted about it –how dangerous it was in a wet winter and how dry it was in a dry summer.”

WPC Reward: The longevity of author John Steinbeck – photos from his hometown

Yesterday. February 27, was the author John Steinbeck’s birthday (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) — a good occasion to post my Oldtown Salinas photos and submit my 2nd WordPress Photo Challenge on the theme of Reward, for the reward of longevity.

Longevity: long life – the fact of living for many years – length of life – the length of time that something or someone lasts or continues (Definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary)

Story of the whole valley web

Steinbeck’s words carved into stone at entrance of National Steinbeck Center

Among the rewards for a life well-lived is physical longevity and what is left, well after death.

John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, Monterey County, California.  He wrote 27 books and won both a Pulitzer and the National Book Award for his novel, The Grapes of Wrath.  He also won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962 (controversial at the time) for “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”  and “realistic and imaginative writing, combining as it does sympathetic humor and keen social perception”.

Salinas is the largest city in Monterey County, and the county seat.  It has a population of 155,000 and is located 8 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

The mild weather and rich valley soil is why the area is called “the salad bowl of the world”.  It is the only county in the United States that produces more than $1 billion annually in vegetable sales.

Salinas Valley Fields web

This was taken last week…really! The weather is so mild here, that there is something growing in the fields most of the time.

 

Much of Steinbeck’s writing is set in Southern and Central California, particularly the Salinas Valley and the Central California Coast.

The photos below are from “Old Town” Salinas, location of the National Steinbeck Center.  The house where John Steinbeck was born is a few blocks away from Oldtown. 

Steinbeck Center

Buildings in the Victorian style of architecture dot the old town Salinas downtown area.

Here are some examples of the buildings, walking out from the National Steinbeck Center…

Old Salinas buildings 5 web

Some of the building details in Oldtown…

And some interesting tile work on a few of the entryways…

And finally, some scenes from  the stores and restaurants in Oldtown…

Steinbeck Statue at Salinas Library web

 

The old town Salinas library is a few blocks away and is named after John Steinbeck.

There is another of the rock (like the one in front of the Steinbeck Center) carved with his quote, outside the library…

 

Books Best Friend Quote web

In addition to tips learned on the WordPress Photo Challenges, these series of photos were also inspired by Cardinal Guzman’s new photo challenge The Changing Seasons “to train your eye”.

This is my first attempt at taking a series of photos of one place, and it certainly made me look up/down and check out details, which I think in general makes me a better observer of what is around me…of life.

I’m inspired by photography that captures a sense of place and people, especially vibrant photos from The Third Eye Mom (see Lesson in Street Photography), and intricate nature photos, and great landscape photography from Just Another Nature Enthusiast (see the EcoRegion series).

In our digital era and through our blogs, we all have the opportunity for the “reward” of longevity — since our words and photos will be around long after we are gone, right?

==========================================

To see interpretations from the WordPress blogging community or to join in the Weekly Photo Challenge, click here.

To participate in the new monthly photo challenge, The Changing Seasons, hosted by Cardinal Guzman, click here.  NOTE: I’m also including these photos as my first attempt and as practice :) for this monthly challenge (though late, and more photos than suggested) since I like the idea of capturing sets of photos for different seasons — plus these photos are not archived, or published elsewhere, but taken last week. 

Seeing amazing photos from the WordPress blogging community is always inspiring, and tips are always appreciated from seasoned and professional photographers.

WPC – Martial Arts Black Belt Reward

The theme for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge from Krista is Reward.

Reward is filthy with possibility: it could be your third grader’s beaming smile after reading her first chapter book, a steaming mug of chicken soup after a long run in the cold, a photo of your brand-new baby — your reward for patience during nine months of construction, or your extended family gathered around the dinner table.

Jun White BeltJun, my oldest grandson, started taking Taekwondo – a martial art that originated in Korea over 2,000 years ago and an Olympics sport  — when he was 5 years old.

In the span of time that he has taken Taekwondo classes, I probably have thousands of photos of him…and the one at right was taken for his first day of class, as a “white belt”.

Over the years, I’ve watched him learn and memorize his poomsaes (the forms learned for each belt level), learn advancing degrees of self-defense techniques, sparring, and grow from a shy to a more confident young man.

So the reward for his dedication and our  family’s support of his martial arts lessons?

Last summer, shortly before his 10th birthday, he received his black belt.

Black Belt Ceremony

Above and below, part of the invitation to the Black Belt Graduation Ceremony…Invite TKD GraduationBlack Belt Ceremony.jpg 1Black Belt Ceremony 2

Black Belt Ceremony 3

Jun at TKD Competition

The black belt itself is a reward for sticking with martial arts training, and to understand that practice and dedication makes you better.

My hope is that my grandson will continue to learn that anything you put your effort and focus in, over time, will have its own rewards….beyond a belt color.

Can you tell how proud I am of this young person?

To see interpretation for this WordPress blogging community weekly photo challenge, click here.

UNLESS…Severe Weather and Wildlife Well-being: Jellyfish Blooms

This post is in support of the new weekly WordPress blogging challenge Unless…Earth-Friendly Friday. This week’s topic is about severe weather and wildlife well-being.

Severe weather — from climate change that lead to ocean warming as well as excess carbon dioxide that increase ocean acidity levels — impact marine wildlife.

It may not be obvious to most of us because we can’t see what is happening, but severe weather changes are already affecting our marine wildlife.

Monterey Aquarium jellyfish exhibit

Jellyfish Exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – photo Lolako.com

Warmer ocean waters contribute to jellyfish blooms.

The problem?

While jellyfish are fascinating and beautiful, and abundant jellyfish is a great food source for giant Pacific leatherback turtles that migrates from Indonesia to the Monterey Bay, sea turtle populations have declined at an alarming rate — so there are not as many turtles to keep the jellyfish population in check.

Moon Jellyfish at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Moon jellyfish exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – photo Lolako.com

A combination of the decline in sea turtle population that feed on jellyfish and increasing jellyfish blooms creates an imbalance and a serious problem because  among the food jellyfish (like the Pacific sea nettle) eat as they drift in our oceans are small fish and fish eggs.

You don’t have to be a scientist to figure out that this overabundance of jellyfish eating fish eggs results in fewer fish for other ocean creatures to eat (not to mention less fish for human beings to eat).

Watching jellyfish exhibit at Monterey Aquarium

My grandson, Jun, mesmerized by the amazing Jellyfish exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

From an article on ThinkProgress.org on Why Aquariums are obsessed with Climate ChangeNote — Sarah-Mae Nelson, quoted for the interview is the Climate Change Interpretive Specialist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Jellyfish are another invasive intruder that can proliferate under warming ocean temperatures. These “weeds of the sea” have become more common in the Monterey Bay over the last decade, according to Nelson.

“We always had sea nettle jellyfish here in the late summer,” Nelson said. “But in the last eight to ten years we’ve been having huge blooms of them periodically — so much so that they’ve actually collapsed our water intake filters.”

Standing in a room lined floor to ceiling with jellyfish tanks, it was easy to imagine these boneless, brainless creatures expanding out from the aquarium and far into the ocean, decimating native species in their path.

Monterey Aquarium jellyfish exhibit 2

Pacific Sea nettle jellyfish exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium – photo Lolako.com

Beyond the Monterey Bay, jellyfish blooms are creating problems in other parts of the world….from a power outage at Sweden’s Oskarshamn nuclear power plant caused by water intake systems clogged by jellyfish, to fishing boats in Japan capsized as a result of fishing nets inundated with jellyfish (more info here).

Severe weather will continue to impact all of us, in our interconnected world.

To take part in this blogging challenge or to see photos and articles for the challenge click here.

This new blogging event is inspired by prophetic words written in 1971 by Dr. Seuss in his book – The Lorax …” UNLESS . . . someone like youcares a whole awful lot,nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

 

leatherback_scottbenson_noaa rd

Photo by Scott Benson via U.S. NOAA website

 

Related post on LolaKo.com:

Monterey Bay and our connection to endangered Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtles

 

 

Vellela jellie like creatures washed up on California beaches wb

 

Post about Vellela Vellelas washed up on Central Coast beaches last year (these are also called sea raftby-the-wind sailorpurple sail, and little sail).

WPC: Rule of Thirds – The frog and a sand dollar

This little frog (about the size of a thumb) is a Sierran Treefrog (Pseudacris sierra), formerly called Pacific Treefrog or Pacific Chorus Frog and was not living in a tree, but at the time, an unused spa in our backyard.

Sierran Tree Frog focus on eyes web

It was in a crevice so I did not really have much of a choice but to shoot through the slit near the heating element area, making the photo naturally follow the rule of third, and a little of the “bokeh” that Jen discusses for the challenge .

I did not have to crop the frog photo above, and slightly cropped the one below.

Sierran Tree Frog

And here is one with my grandson Jun showing me a sand dollar that washed up during a beach visit.   I think I could have adjusted the shot slightly for more of the 1/3 rule here…

Jun holding sand dollar

The rule of 3rd is something basic that I do think about now when composing photographs.  And as far as the “bokeh” shots I’ll definitely look to improve and experiment with…so thank you WP Photo Challenges!

So, I think these photos capture the WordPress Photo Challenge this week…what do you think?

A note on frogs from my earlier post:

You may have heard that frogs are considered indicator species, or animal sentinels, and a sort of planetary canary.

Frogs have thin skins that are permeable to water, and lay their eggs in bodies of water.  Perhaps because of this,  they are sensitive to pollutants and other problems with the environment.

It is comforting to know the little frogs survive in our backyard, despite the large presence of big business agriculture in our county (Monterey is the only county in the United States with more than 1 BILLION in annual vegetable sales).

Though these frogs are not endangered, frog populations can decline quite quickly.

For more, please visit California Herps – A Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of California

To see amazing interpretations and beautiful photography showcasing the rule of thirds and the “bokeh” concept, click here.

Grandsons handsome (or pretty) in pink for the Korean New Year

Is there a large Asian community near where you live celebrating the Chinese New Year today?

Here in the Monterey Peninsula, there is a large Korean-American community and they also celebrate the Chinese or lunar calender new year.  It is typically a family holiday, with some Koreans dressing up in colorful traditional Korean clothing called hanbok.

Last year, when my grandchildren were taking Korean language classes, I was surprised to see them and their classmates dressed up in colorful traditional clothes when I picked them up — until it I realized it was the Korean New Year.

Children in Korean traditional dress for lunar new year

I thought is was an adorable tradition, and especially that the boys wore pink!  So of course, I have to post these photos.

The children ate traditional food served for the Korean New Year day.

Boys in Korean traditional dress for lunar new year

The boys line up with their traditional Korean garb for the new year.  My grandson Jun-Yong at left, in blue top and pink bottom, and grandson Gabriel (his Korean name “Moon-Yong”)  at far right.  They boys look handsome in their hanbok, even in that soft pink color, don’t you think?

There is a large Chinese population in the Philippines, and today is celebrated as a special, non-working holiday.

The U.S. cities with the largest Chinese-American population outside of Asia is New York, followed by San Francisco.  In San Francisco’s Chinatown community, the annual — and always grand — Chinese New Year Parade and festivities  is scheduled on Saturday, March 7th.

Have you been to a Chinese New Year Parade or take part in a lunar calendar new year celebration?

UNLESS…Earth Friendly Friday PLASTIC WASTE REDUCTION – Ideas to reduce plastic and food packaging waste from 3 citizens at the Marina, California Farmers Market

This post is in support of the new weekly WordPress event inspired by prophetic words written in 1971 by Dr. Seuss in his book – The Lorax

” UNLESS . . . someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”

The topic for the week is about plastic waste, and this blog post highlights 3 ideas from local citizens at the Marina Farmers Market (Monterey County, California) to reduce plastic waste and divert trash from going to landfills.

Fortress Micro Farm Eco Coffee web

Pictured from left, Michael – who works in Marina, Darrell, coffee stand employee and student at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and Amelia, business owner of Hidden Fortress Micro Farm in Royal Oaks, California

 1.  Bring your own coffee cups and take out containers, whether buying  from your favorite coffee shop or at the farmers market.

Michael, pictured at left, brings his own mug when buying coffee to reduce plastic waste (because even coffee shops that offer non-plastic cups often use plastic lids).

Bringing his own coffee mug is part of his daily habit — and started about 3 years ago.  He now works in Marina and originally studied Environmental Science at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), so already knew about the amount of plastic trash individual consumers contribute to our waste stream.

2. Support practices that reduce waste and diverts trash from going to landfills.

Darrell, pictured at center, is a student at CSUMB.  In addition to working at the farmers market coffee stand (Hidden Fortress Micro Farms), he also works at the university’s coffee shop, where he reports that along with recycling bins, they have ordered portable, easy to maneuver compost bins to further divert trash from going to landfills.

Michael and Darrell brought up that Marina mayor, Bruce Delgado brings his own food containers at local restaurants when ordering “to go” …a great way for town leaders to set an example of small things we can do to reduce trash.

3.  If you own a business that offer “to go” food and beverages, encourage customers to bring their own containers by offering discounts.

amelia_tasting2Amelia, pictured at right,  owns this Eco-friendly farmers market coffee stand.  Her company sells coffee and teas at several Monterey and Santa Cruz County farmers markets.

She uses compostable cups, lids and coffee bags to reduce plastic waste, and beyond that, she also promotes habits that reduce trash by offering a discount of $.25 per cup of coffee if you bring your own coffee mug to buy beverages from her farmers market coffee stand.

Hidden Fortress Solar Powered Coffee

Amelia set up her business with earth-friendly actions in mind.  From the Hidden Fortress Micro Farms website:

…Our coffee operation is entirely solar-powered. We have a mobile solar generator (mounted on the farm’s pickup truck) that provides power for our coffee bar. Our coffee roaster, located at the farm, runs on propane and solar power.

Fortress Micro Farm Eco Coffee booth sign web

The group agreed that just as we are all accustomed to bringing our cell phones with us when we leave our home, we can also make a habit to bring our reusable containers when we head out for the day.

This is a habit I am working on, and my goal this year to keep a set of reusable food containers in the car.  I hate ending up with food packaging and containers — especially polystyrene / styrofoams which some towns allow, but typically cannot be recycled — when I order “to go”. 

Gayles Bakery Reusable Bag

Photo credit: Gayle’s Bakery web site

Note: Another local business — Gayles Bakery & Rosticceria — communicates via their web and radio advertizing to bring food containers for take-out orders to reduce food packaging trash.

To encourage a shift in habits, they offer a weekly $100 gift card drawing for customers who bring their own bags, food containers or mugs for take-out food.

I recommend viewing their environmental policy page to get ideas of how businesses and consumers can work together to reduce plastic and food packaging waste.

Most of us order food “to go” or take home leftovers from restaurants.  Shifting our habits when we buy our coffee or bringing our own food containers for take out can make a big difference in reducing, and eliminating plastic waste.

“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”

— quote from Marian Wright Edelman, founder of Children’s Defense Fund

To take part in this timely WordPress challenge topic and to see other submissions for the theme click here.

Thank you to JustAnotherNatureEnthusiast.org for creating a place to share ideas about “resources and actions…for nature’s sake”.

A Day to Celebrate Love

Love Symmetry web

Love image from a mural at a school building, San Jose, California

Today is Valentine’s Day, and although celebrated by many as a day about romantic love, I think it should be a day to think about and celebrate love…in general.

Bloggers sometimes include a favorite quote when posting their photography, or articles.  I like this practice and include this for today…

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

—Rumi, 13th Century Persian Poet

unripe-cacao-tree-pod

Chocolate “beans” come from the fruit of the cacao tree. The pods grow on the branches and trunks of the tree.

 

Did you get or give chocolate – the most craved food in the world — today?

Click on the cacao pod photo to find out how cacao trees — source of chocolate — came to be grown in the Philippines.

 

WPC: Symmetry in nature and rice fields

This week, the theme for the WordPress Photo Challenge is…

Symmetry (noun): the quality of something that has two sides or halves that are the same or very close in size, shape, and position; the quality of having symmetrical parts.

…For this challenge, share an image of symmetry. Don’t limit yourself to architecture — you can bend this theme in any way you’d like.  A portrait of your twins? A window grille? The yellow lines of a busy road? A row of sharp points along a metal fence? Let the world inspire you.

It is easy to find symmetry in nature…

Symetry Plant Leaf web

Symetry in nature web

And in how we create our fields and plant our food, from rice fields in the Philippines…

Rice Field Symetry web

To lettuce fields in Monterey County, California…

Monterey County Fields

And in how we construct our spaces indoors…

Restaurant BW web

Image of carved wood entryway at a local Vietnamese restaurant…

To see submissions for this theme from the WordPress blogging community click here.

UNLESS…Earth-Friendly Friday: Book Recommendation – Plastic, A Toxic Love Story

book_plastic_greyThis post is in support of a brand new weekly WordPress blogging event created and hosted by JustAnotherNatureEnthusiast.org.

The theme for the first challenge is Plastic, and I’m submitting a book recommendation.

The book Plastics – A Toxic Love Story, by science writer Susan Freinkel is comprehensive, and a fascinating read about the history of plastic and products familiar to all of us.

I highly recommend if you want to understand our love/hate relationship with plastics. For local residents, it is available at our Monterey County Public Library system.   Introduction below:

Here is an excerpt from a post on my blog right after the book was published:

Ms. Freinkel chooses eight objects to help tell the story of plastic:  The comb, the chair, the Frisbee, the IV bag, the disposable lighter, the grocery bag, the soda bottle and the credit card.

She examines how these objects are made, the history, the culture of plastics, and how synthetics affect our health and environment.

A speaker from a plastics manufacturer’s conference in 1956, is quoted as saying “Your future is in the garbage wagon”.

How true…and it turns out that today, the average American throws away 300 pounds of packaging a year — and this mountain of containers and wrappings accounts for about 1/3 of the municipal waste stream.

Initially, we had to be taught to throw away plastic items — especially after the depression era culture of “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”.

But it did not take long for us to absorb the lessons — especially because everyone was becoming more prosperous — at the same time when many disposable products were entering the market.  Life magazine dubbed this (then) new era “Throwaway Living” .

To take part in this timely WordPress challenge topic and to see other submissions for the theme click here (http://justanothernatureenthusiast.org/2015/02/06/unless-plastic/).

This new blogging event is inspired by prophetic words written in 1971 by Dr. Seuss in his book – The Lorax

” UNLESS . . . someone like you

cares a whole awful lot,

nothing is going to get better.

It’s not.”

WPC: Scale – BONSAI! Nature’s giant trees grown in small containers

There will undoubtedly be great photos for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge and the theme, Scale.

Like many, I am in awe of majestic and giant trees in nature, especially redwoods and oak trees.  It is fascinating to me that the same trees that grow to hundreds of feet in height can be shaped and cultivated in a teeny tiny container.

At an Obon Festival here in the Monterey Bay area, I photographed these bonsai trees, exhibited as part of the festival.

The first photo will give you an idea of scale…

bonsai 1

The trees in the containers were between 20 to 50 years old and makes one really appreciate the devotion it takes to practice this Japanese art form.

You cannot help but admire a practice that can take a redwood tree (sequoias) — the tallest living trees on our planet, and normally growing 300-350 feet tall — and grow it in miniature format in a small ceramic pot.

Bonsai Redwood Tree

Bonsai Redwood Tree

My other favorites…

Bonsai Elm Tree

Bonsai Elm Tree

Bonsai Monterey Pine Tree

Bonsai Monterey Pine Tree

And there was even a bonsai with flowers…with my finger there for scale :)

Bonsai with flowers!

Bonsai with flowers!

Do you think you would have the patience to devote the years it takes to cultivate this art form?

UNLESS…Earth-Friendly Friday: Plastic trash problems in California

This post is in support of the brand new weekly WordPress event inspired by prophetic words written in 1971 by Dr. Seuss in his book – The Lorax

” UNLESS . . . someone like you

cares a whole awful lot,

nothing is going to get better.

It’s not.”

 

Created by blogger Just Another Nature Enthusiast, this is my submission for the first topic: Plastic – an excellent choice for the first challenge!

THE PROBLEM

There is a huge problem of plastic trash — especially single use plastic bags — in California, where I live.

  1. California FlagCalifornia is the most populous state in the U.S….and its citizens use a whole lot of single-use plastic bags — about 14 billion bags yearly.
  2. Most plastic bags are NOT recycled, and many bags end up marring the landscape, and worse, finding its way to beaches, and then in the ocean.
  3. Because the California coast covers 840 miles (1,350 km), and 15 of California’s 58 counties directly face the Pacific Ocean, the chances of sea creatures ingesting plastics by accident — like migrating Pacific leatherback turtles that mistake plastic for jellyfish and other food – makes this problem beyond just blight on our beautiful landscape.
The beautiful California coast

The Big Sur Coast, Central Calfornia

HOW IS THE PROBLEM BEING SOLVED

I’m happy to report that on September 30, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown  signed into law SB 270 —  the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bag, effective this summer!

The bad news is that immediately after the law was signed, a plastics manufacturing trade group called “American Progressive Bag Alliance” went to work and gathered enough signatures for a referendum in the November 2016 ballot.

The trade group gathered over 800,000 signatures, well over the 505,000 valid signatures needed for a referendum (and by the way…I’d like to understand why people signed…How can you be against a law that cut down on trash and protects our sea creatures?)

So…if the signatures meet the requirements, then the ban is suspended until Californians can vote on the matter.

I posted this chart in my September article about the bag ban, and I think it is worth including for this challenge if you have not seen it:

Print

IF IT IS NOT BEING SOLVED, WHAT COULD BE DONE TO IMPROVE THE SITUATION / OR PROVIDE A SOLUTION?

So…despite what the plastics manufacturers are doing to overturn the plastic bag ban, I do think the tide is turning about plastic bag use, and it is just a matter of time until there is a ban on single-use plastic bags for all the states in the U.S.

First though, it starts with each one of us, doing what we can to educate ourselves on the problem, and then taking action, even if it means WE pick up plastic litter when we can, as we are out and about with everyday routines.

For ideas on how to help clean beaches and keep plastic trash out of the ocean without having to take part in “official” beach clean-up days… please see my post One woman’s beach clean up or click on the photo below.

Beach Heroine

Find out about everyday heroes for PLANET EARTH and its inhabitants…like this woman…

After all, it just takes one person because…”UNLESS . . . someone like you cares a whole awful lot,nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

To participate in this timely WordPress challenge topic and to see other submissions for the theme click here (http://justanothernatureenthusiast.org/2015/02/06/unless-plastic/)

This is a terrific WordPress weekly challenge, and I congratulate Jane from Just Another Nature Enthusiast for creating a place to share ideas about conservation.

I believe that a lot of people do care!  What about you?

My last (as in final) address “book”

Escher Last Address Book webWhen was the last time you looked at your address book?  And I don’t mean your contact list and addresses on your smart phone or your computer —- but a physical address book.

I have not used or even looked at mine for a long time.  And even when I ship packages or gifts to family, my on-line shipping system contains all my addresses, so no need for this book.

Will this be another item from our generation that will be obsolete and no longer needed?

Escher Last Address Book pageFlipping through it, I saw names of friends from long ago that I have lost contact with, and remember the moments we shared, and, I appreciated seeing the M.C. Escher prints included in each alphabet tab.

So…another sign of our modern world — the fading use of address “books”?

Do you still have and/or use an “old-fashioned” address book?  I’m certain this is the last one I will have…

This post inspired by reading an article about MC Escher on the blog Create a Beautiful Life.  It reminded me of this address book, which I had not opened in a LONG time.  Here is the post about Escher, He Was My First Love.

Related LolaKo.com posts:

la-et-jc-florida-polytechnic-universitys-bookl-002

 

A library with no books – and its at a university

Post about Florida Polytechnic University and their brand new ALL DIGITAL library

 

Gutenberg-press-print-drawing

 

How long until print newspapers completely disappear?

 

For Superbowl XLIX – Bill Nye the Science Guy’s take on “DeflateGate”

I don’t normally post sports-related items on my blog — except when my favorite team the San Francisco 49ers finally made it back to the divisional playoffs in 2012. 

But I can be a sports fan and total sports geek at times, and totally followed and enjoyed the San Francisco Giants’ journey to win the 2014 World Series.

However, I found the crazy, excessive media focus on “DeflateGate” – when New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick claimed atmospheric conditions caused footballs to lose air pressure during the playoffs against the Indianapolis Colts — so ridiculous, in light of the other world events that major news outlets should cover.

I did hear Bill Nye”The Science Guy” give his opinion on this whole DeflateGate thing on radio and on TV…and just had to post this recent video on my blog.

Note: He actually takes a very SHARP turn in the middle of the video, saying what many of us are thinking about all this ball talk of late…so here it is from he folks at Funny or Die:

And for the football sports fans, a question:  If the New England Patriots win this game, Tom Brady will own his 4th Superbowl ring to tie with my all-time favorite player, Joe Montana.

If Brady ties Montana’s record, do you think he can then be called the greatest quarterback of all time, especially that this is his 6th Superbowl appearance?

As much as I dislike the Patriots, I dislike the Seattle Seahawks even more (hey, I’m a San Francisco 49ers fan, remember, we are REQUIRED to hate the Seahawks)….So for today, GO PATRIOTS! Plus, Tom Brady is a Bay Area native (San Mateo, California).

Are you watching Super Bowl 49 today to see football or like many Americans, watch it for the commercials and supercharged Half-Time Show?

Related to what Bill Nye talks about in the video, here is my post about the Environmental Tipping Point — are we living in an age of irresponsibility.