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.

WPC: Depth — King Tides and flooded paths at Elkhorn Slough

Last Wednesday, we had super high tides in our area.  These high tides are also called “king tides”, and can damage property as well as cause erosion in coastal areas.

I went to Elkhorn Slough the day of the high tide to take photographs and take part in the California King Tides Project.

Elkhorn Slough Viewing Area web

Outside of San Francisco Bay, Elkhorn Slough harbors California’s largest tract of tidal salt marsh.

It is home to more than 135 aquatic bird, 550 marine invertebrate, 102 fish species, sea lions, harbor seals, and California sea otters.  It is also a temporary home to hundreds of bird species that use the slough during their annual migrations.

It is a treasure in this area of California, and a special place to see wildlife up close — and a safe place to kayak (weather permitting of course!)

Elkhorn Slough web

Here is a little about the area from the Elkhorn Slough.org website:

Dunes and broad stretches of open sandy beach characterize the inner curve of Monterey Bay.

The expansive beaches are interrupted only by the outlets of the Pajaro and Salinas Rivers, and the entrance to Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing Harbor.

The protected waters of the slough and its associated mudflats, wetlands, and nearby dunes provide a haven for a wide variety of birds, fish and unusual marine life.

This remarkable variety of habitats provides visitors a rare opportunity to explore and discover nature’s secrets.

Elkhorn water web

The tide for the area is normally around 5 feet.  During the king tide, the tide rose to over 6 feet and flooded walking paths, as well as the parking area of Kirby Park, one of the launching points for those who want to kayak in the slough.

For a comparison, here is a photo of my grandchildren walking the path at Kirby Park, taken on a foggy day in 2009.

Elkhorn path no flooding web

And below are photos I took from my phone camera on January 21, 2015, one of the “king tide” days…

Elkhorn flooded path 1 webThe tide reached its peak while a family was at the viewing bridge, and they had to pass the flooded path to get back to the parking area.

Some waited for the water to recede, including me!  I do like to keep my feet and shoes dry, and was not willing to walk on the logs that lined the path (I’m not good at balancing…and pretty sure I would have ended up with more than wet shoes).

Elkhorn flooded path web

Parts of the path have already eroded…

Elkhorn water eroding path web

And those who parked in the launching area to kayak may have been surprised to see water near their vehicles upon their return.

Kirby flooded parking area web

Parts of parking area near launching ramp flooded…Kirby parking and docking area web

We will see if these tides get more severe, meaning many coastal areas, and even small parks like Kirby will need funding to repair and raise walking paths and parking areas.

Documenting the differences will hopefully help in budgeting and planning for these changes in our environment.

This post is part of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.  The theme this week is Depth, from Ben Huberman:

This week, share with us your take on “depth” — you can take it literally, like me, by showing something (a dense forest, your lawn after a blizzard) that suggests volume, a distance between surface and bottom. Or go with a more figurative approach: use a deep color palette, play with your image’s depth of field, or highlight a person, a place, or an object to which you feel deeply connected.

More information: California King Tides Project – Snap the Shore, See the Future 

The California King Tides Project help people visualize how sea level rise will impact their lives.  Via smartphones and social media, we invite you to document “king tides” – the highest high tides of today, which will be the average water levels of the future.

The pictures that you take help scientists and managers better plan for future flood risks, and give you a way to participate directly in the science that will drive decisions in your community.  Everyone is welcome to participate!

gw-sewater-intrusion2

One of the side effects of salt water intrusion is contamination of freshwater sources.  Graphic Source: Blog post from (Journalist and Photographer) Sabrina Doyle’s website.  Click on image to visit website and for more information.

San Francisco Bay is RISING.  There is an educational video on the California King Tides website about sea level rise and global warming.  I highly recommend viewing if you have an interest in the environment, ocean warming and resulting sea level rise as it relates to the Bay Area and beyond.  See below or link here: http://california.kingtides.net/what-is-sea-level-rise/

And if you are interested in more LolaKo.com photos and posts related to Elkhorn Slough, click here.

Is the area where you live affected by these super high tides?  What is your opinion on climate change?

WordPress Photo Challenge: Express Yourself…with hats and sunglasses!

One of the fun ways children express themselves is through costumes and dress up times, or sometimes, donning and playing with whatever is around at the time.

This week, the theme from Krista is “Express Yourself”…

Today, we challenge you to show us what “express yourself” means to you. It could be the delightful, gummy grin of a baby grand-nephew, a message of love written with a biplane in the sky, the clenched fist of anger and frustration, or even a lunch with an attitude. This topic is wide-open and I can’t wait to see what you do with it. Have fun!

My goodness…a totally wide-open challenge with a theme like this opens it up to all sorts of interpretation, and is also a good excuse to post photos I cherish!  I hope you enjoy these “hat” and sun glass photos of my grandsons

silly hatsThe same hats…

Jun in curly que hatCurly hat…

G hard hat 1 web

Hard hat (here is Gabriel giving “directions” — he likes being the boss)

JJ 2 hats web

Jun with TWO hats —- because sometimes, one hat is not enough!

G bike helmet and swim  goggles

Bike helmet over hat, finished with swim goggles – his own look!

G TKD Helmet webSquishy face under kick paddle “hat” — at the 2014 USA Taekwondo National Championships where there is a lot of waiting, a bored Gabriel decides to wear the martial arts kicking paddles.

G Indiana Jones hat web

The boys had identical Indiana Jones hats, and for a while they liked to wear it everywhere — on the way to Taekwondo practice.

And then the sunglasses….

2 Sunglasses again

JJ Sunglasses web

2 Sunglasses web

Lastly, anytime I can capture photos of my grandsons around flowers is a happy photograph for me…J and daisies web

G Flowers webTo see interpretations of the theme “Express Yourself” from the WordPress blogging community, click here…and enjoy!

WordPress Photo Challenge: Serenity – Surfer at Sunset

Sunsets for me evoke serenity…and lately, the sunsets here on the Central Coast of California have been spectacular.

California surfer at sunset web

Surfer at sunset at Fort Ord Dunes State Park (California). Photo via my HTC One phone camera.

At the recently opened Fort Ord Dunes State Park, my sunset image became more interesting with the added silhouette of a surfer who was in the same area to watch the sunset after surfing.

I met him after I took the photo, and it turns out he is a photographer and takes photographs of waves while surfing — how cool is that!

Surfer-in-training-3Related post:

One of the first photo challenges I participated in…(a “blogging experiment”) when the theme was the color blue.

My little surfers in training (in Pacifica, near San Francisco, CA)…(click on photo to see the series posted for the challenge)

See more interpretations of Serenity from the WordPress Photo Challenge blogging community here.

WordPress Photo Challenge – resting dragonfly shadow

I enjoy WordPress photo challenges and continue to pick up great tips — in addition to seeing stunning photographs by fellow bloggers — through these challenges.

The theme for the second challenge in 2015 is Shadowed, from Jen Hooks…

For this week’s Photo Challenge, find the shadows. You can choose a literal interpretation and shoot an actual shadow, or you can play with the light and dark, and create a moody scene, or capture your subject in a rich and interesting way.

Dragonfly Shadow web

I have yet to experiment with shadows and low lighting, so I am submitting my shot of a dragonfly and its shadow, resting on a Native Leaf wine bag (which I posted on the NL blog).  Excerpt:

Dragonflies are ancient insects and there are 28 species of dragonflies and damselflies in the San Francisco Bay area.

Looking at the Wildlife of the San Francisco Bay Area website, it looks like this particular one is a Blue-eyed Darner – Rhionaeschna multicolor.

I remember chasing after vibrantly colored dragonflies when I was a kid growing up in the Philippines.  There was a house near us with an abandoned pool and what must have been perfect breeding grounds for them, as dragonflies and damselflies begin their lives living underwater for a year of more as nymphs (eating lots of mosquito).  No wonder there were so many dragonflies in that area!

Of course back then, we did not worry that one of our playmates might fall in the algae, leaf-filled tannin brown (and rather deep) water…we just had fun and ran after the shiny dragonflies.

Why save a dragonfly

Information from the US Fish & Wildlife website Endangered Species Fact Sheet

Did you grow up seeing dragonflies and where there myths about dragonflies in your culture?

Do you still see them where you now live?

WP Photo Challenge: Angular – a driftwood shelter

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge “Angular” is from Xiao Yu:

What does angular mean to you? It might mean the corner on which you live or the intersection of sea and sky at a 180 degree angle. Angular also offers a chance to shoot from an entirely new perspective: from above, below, or even from the margins of the fray. Above all, have fun!

I heard my grandsons urging me to go faster…”Come on Lola!” as they ran towards a driftwood shelter they spotted ahead on the beach.  They couldn’t wait to get to it.

web Driftlog shelter 4

Photos of a driftwood shelter did not seem an obvious choice for this challenge, but I imagine whoever built this had to think a lot about angles to construct this beach refuge.

web Driftlog shelter 2

web Driftlog shelter 5

web Driftlog shelter 6

And it was fun to see my grandsons play, and to take photos of the structure from different angles…web Driftlog shelterWho knows from where and how far these logs floated before they landed on this central California beach.  From a recent storm, or a shipwreck from long ago, timber discarded at a faraway beach?

How long did these float among waves, sharp edges and contours softened by the water before landing here to be formed into this shelter…and how long before these wash back into the sea again, perhaps providing shelter for birds and ocean creatures as they float towards the next destination.

See more submissions for this WordPress blog photo challenge here.

The difference between the Veterans Day and Memorial Day holiday… and Filipinos in the U.S. Military

Today is a federal holiday in the U.S. to observe Veterans Day.  Though many federal holidays are observed on Mondays (no matter the actual day it falls in), Veterans Day is always observed on the 11th of November.

Veterans Day Poster web

And if you wondered what the difference is between Memorial Day (observed on the last Monday in May) and Veterans Day….

  • Memorial Day remembers and honors military personnel who died in the service of their country, in particular those who died in battle or resulting from wounds in battle.
  • Veterans Day is a day to thank and honor all who served honorably in the military, in peacetime or during times of war, and intended to thank and appreciate LIVING veterans for their service.
USAF-Crp1

Yes, Lola Jane, USAF 1980 boot camp photo

So from this U.S. Air Force veteran to fellow veterans…thank you for your service, and Happy Veterans Day!

Today, please take time to acknowledge your family and friends who served in the armed forces…and thank them for their service and contributions.

Did you know…thousands of Filipinos and Filipino Americans have served and are currently in the U.S. military?

Americans are sometimes surprised to learn that citizens from other countries serve in the U.S. military, as one may naturally assume that U.S. military people are required to be U.S. citizens.

Filipinos started to serve in the US Navy in great numbers after 1901, when President William McKinley signed an executive order allowing the Navy to enlist 500 Filipinos as part of is insular force (though there are recorded accounts from then General Andrew Jackson of “Manilamen” fighting for the U.S. during the War of 1812).

Filipinos have a long history of serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. In 2012, there were 65,000 immigrants serving in the US armed forces — and nearly 1/4 of the immigrants were from the Philippines!

Further reading from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

  • About the Memorial Day Holiday
  • About Veterans Day — especially if you are Interested in learning why the holiday is always observed on November 11th
Propaganda_poster_depicts_the_Philippine_resistance_movement

To learn more about the Military history of Asian Americans, click on the poster image

Further reading from the U.S. Navy Department Library:

  • Naval History and Heritage: Filipinos in the United States Navy (bulletins up to the year 1976).  Note:  When I was in the military, I had a close group of fellow Filipino airmen at the Air Force Base where I was stationed.  I knew back then that there were many more Filipinos in the U.S. Navy — compared to the Air Force and other armed forces — and I wondered why.  Information from the Navy Library answers the questions about why so many Filipinos served in the US Navy (well, up to the year 1976, at least). 

And for more about the history of Asians serving on behalf of the United States, see a comprehensive Wikipedia article here or click on the World War II “The Fighting Filipinos” propaganda poster.

Refraction…water, the iris and solar path lights

This week’s WordPress photo challenge from Kevin Conboy was interesting and definitely a challenge…

For this photo challenge, show us what “refraction” means to you. It could be an image taken in a reflective surface, it could be light bent from behind an object, or it could mean remedial math homework: the choice is completely up to you. I’m looking forward to seeing how you interpret “refraction.”

It seems that light reflecting on water is the easy place to go, and I did have some photos from the Monterey Bay Aquarium that would fit the theme for this challenge.

Monterey Bay Aquarium web

My photo of a snowy egret (a type of heron) posted on the 2014 Monterey Bay Birding Festival article may be relevant for the theme…

The shape of the bill reflected on the water…what do you think?

snowy-egret refraction post

Then there is the refraction on the iris of my grandson Jun’s eyes…

Juns Eyes

When I zoomed in on the iris…I could make out the letter “T” and part of an “A”…and it was a clue to where the photo was taken, at his TaeKwonDo dojang!

This was a tough challenge to interpret, and I can’t wait to see if other WordPress bloggers participating in this challenge posted eye photographs, too.

UPDATE November 13, 2014: After this challenge, I am paying more attention to refracted light…and during an evening walk, noticed these solar lighting patterns that fit the theme.

solar lights

solar lights 3 web

The pumpkin flavor craze — do all these products really contain pumpkin?

Lolas pumpkins photoWhat is up with the proliferation of pumpkin flavor everything?

We expect to see pumpkins — the sort used for Jack-O-Lanterns — outside of grocery stores this time of year.

Lately though, the pumpkin thing continues inside the store…from pumpkin spice yogurt and “limited edition” English muffins. Even the Oreo brand is in with their Pumpkin Spice Creme cookies!

Pumpkins used to be a sign that fall is here, Halloween is around the corner and soon, the Thanksgiving holiday will be upon us.

But now, the pumpkin and “pumpkin spice” signals a time of year when all manner of food and beverages are blanketed with this flavor.  Example:

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And just like Christmas songs and Christmas decorations, it comes to us EARLIER each year.

So why is pumpkin and “pumpkin spice” flavor in so many food and beverage products these days (especially since pumpkin by itself is rather bland)?

Starbucks PSL

Starbuck’s PSL (photo via Starbucks.com)

Turns out we can thank Starbucks for the brilliant idea to offer seasonal beverages, and in particular their best-selling Pumpkin Spice Latte  or “PSL”

For around $5, you can get a 20 oz PSL Venti but only for a “limited time”.

But does the drink actually have real pumpkin? Nope, just pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.

A brilliant marketing idea, right?  Get people to anticipate a drink (just as we would anticipate the holiday season perhaps) which contains spices that are available all year round!

Here are other pumpkin flavor examples:

The “limited batch” pumpkin yogurt by Chobani, which does contain pumpkin…

The Thomas’ “Limited Edition”  English muffins…which also had pumpkin…

Then there’s the Oreo brand cookie with the prominent pumpkin on the packaging and the words “pumpkin spice creme”…

pumnpkin spice oreo cookies web

Pumpkin Spice Oreo ingredients are: Sugar, Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine, Mononitrate (Vitamin B1) Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid, Palm and/or Canola Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cornstarch, Salt, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Artificial Color (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Blue 3 Lake), Paprika Oleoresin (Color)

Do you see any pumpkin on the ingredients list?  Nope!

From the FoodFacts.com blog on the Pumpkin Spice Oreo

We’d like to call your attention to the fact that there is absolutely NO PUMPKIN anywhere in that list. Oh wait, they’re PUMPKIN SPICE Oreos, not PUMPKIN Oreos.

Technically that would mean that these should taste like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and anything else we use to flavor actual pumpkin pie. Funny, we don’t see any of those ingredients on the list either. We do, however, see Natural and Artificial Flavors — which of course is what the folks over at Oreos are using to impart the taste of pumpkin pie spices to the cream inside this cookie.

And then, to make it look authentic (because all of those spices carry a rich, deep color), they’ve added a healthy dose of artificial colors.

There are also pumpkin spice teas, beer and other alcohol beverages….like this pumpkin spice whiskey from Rhode Island-based Sons of Liberty…

This one actually has plenty of locally grown pumpkins and actual pumpkin spices, and sounds good!

Food manufacturers are succeeding with the popular pumpkin spice flavor, so this craze is probably here to stay for a while.   (See the 2013 Nielsen’s graph below showing pumpkin flavor products experiencing tremendous growth).

Nielsen pumpkin flavor chart 2013

So I suppose we can enjoy the fall and all the pumpkin and pumpkin spice stuff out there, especially if you happen to like pumpkin spices (I do!).

Just remember, most will probably NOT have real pumpkin, but hopefully there will at least be REAL pumpkin pie spices.  You just have to look at the labels.

Do you like this proliferation of pumpkin and pumpkin spiced food in the market? Wish it will stay or happy if it’s a fad that will soon fade?

Lolas Turbaned-Squashes photo

Turbaned squashes – photo www.Lolako.com  Click on the photo to find out the difference between a pumpkin, a squash and a gourd.

And by the way, if you want to know the difference between a pumpkin, squash or a gourd, here is the link to my post Autumn Time, Pumpkin Time, with fun photos of many varieties now available…everywhere (just like the pumpkin spice everything).

Even the NPR Car Talk guys made a joke about this pumpkin craze in this morning’s program, mentioning their “pumpkin chai brake fluid”.  Oh well…what’s next?

Further reading: Article from Vox.com:  The greatest trick capitalism ever pulled was making you want a pumpkin spice latte.

Remaining light and the dreamy theme for this week’s WordPress photo challenge

Sometimes, the time of day instantly makes a dreamy atmosphere…

Here is my photo submission for this week’s photo challenge theme, Dreamy, taken with my phone camera near the Moss Landing Marine Lab building (the building with the lights).

Dreamy Photo Challenge wb

My take for this week’s WordPress Photo challenge — photo I took of my grandchildren late in the summer, near the MLM Lab building.

The sun had just set.  The reflection of the colors, and remaining light on the water made me wonder what my grandsons were thinking of — or imagining and dreaming about — as they looked across the water.

The Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) is a marine science research and education facility and the second oldest marine lab on Monterey Bay.  From the MLML website:

The lab is situated in an excellent location for the study of the marine world.

The Monterey Submarine Canyon, the largest such feature on the west coast of North America, begins within a few hundred meters of the Moss Landing harbor and the MLML research fleet.

To the east of MLML is the Elkhorn Slough, the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California outside of San Francisco Bay, and… continue reading (and to see photos at MLML open house)

To see creative interpretations from WordPress bloggers on this week’s photo challenge theme, click here.

Liberated from laundry? Humanity and my take on this week’s photo challenge

We walked to the river carrying everything we needed to do the laundry…from the bundles of clothes and wash basins balanced on top of our heads, the bars of soap, the pot of rice, bananas and other food we will cook and eat while we wait for the warm sun to dry the clothes on the rocks.

This was laundry day when I was a kid and lived in the province (away from the city). Since my younger sister and I were still little, we played and splashed in the water while the other women in our household went about the task of washing clothes.

Fast forward decades later, I am  back to the Philippines, and while stopped over a bridge to take in the view, I look below and see a scene from my childhood…women washing clothes by the river.

Laundry day 3 web

I am nostalgic and remember the fun we had playing in the river during laundry day — rearranging rocks to form our own little swimming pools and creating dams to capture fish and freshwater shrimps.

Then I thought, wait….I am a grandmother now…why are these women STILL doing laundry this way?

My take on this week’s WordPress photo challenge are photos about something we share as modern humans..that is, we all wear clothes, and these clothes need to be washed.

Laundry day 2a web

How we go about doing laundry though is a symbol of how developed the area is where we live, and how much time is available to women.

Here in the US, over 80% of households have clothes washers (even almost a decade ago, based on the these stats from the US Department of Energy):

Percent clothes washer stats US

For poor households, over 60% still had clothes washers…and anyone can go to laundromat to wash clothes.

We take for granted the clean running water we have access to, and the machines that liberate us from tedious tasks, like washing clothes.

Laundry day 5 web

How often is this scene still repeated around the world daily?  Imagine how liberated human beings  — particularly women — can be, simply by having a  machine that we take for granted here in the US.

Laundry day 4 web

It may not be something we ever think about, but to me, how laundry is done around the world is an indicator of progress.

And the work towards eradicating poverty worldwide — so that everyone has access to the tools, and yes, machinery — to allow us more time to live a good life and express ourselves is part of what defines our humanity.

To see beautiful humanity inspired photographs and other imaginative takes on the challenge, visit the WordPress Photo Challenge Site. 

For more on why I think there is still so much poverty in my home country of the Philippines, see my post Chameleons: Why Filipinos live and work in just about every country in the world.

Plastic: Now available in your…beer?

Beer now available with plastic

Beer…now available infused with plastic bits!

Plastic trash is found even at remote locations on our planet.  And now, a new study finds that little bits of plastic — perhaps remnants of our trash — can be found in beer, too!

Note: The study was conducted in Germany, a country where beer is a huge part of the culture and culinary history.  The Germans have brewed ale style beer for over 3,000 years.

From the Grist article, Beer: a magical mixture of hops, barley, and tiny pieces of plastic: Excerpt:

…This is how the study worked: Researchers lab-tested samples of 24 varieties of German beers, including 10 of the nation’s most popular brands. Through their superpowers of microscopic analysis, the team discovered plastic microfibers in 100 percent of the tested beer samples.

Reads the study:

“The small numbers of microplastic items in beer in themselves may not be alarming, but their occurrence in a beverage as common as beer indicates that the human environment is contaminated by micro-sized synthetic polymers to a far-reaching extent.”

It’s not breaking news that plastics don’t just vanish into the ether when we’re finished with them. Unless you haven’t heard, in which case … BREAKING NEWS: The plastics we use today will stick around longer than your great-great-great-great (and then some) grandchildren. 

Grandchildren at beach summer 2014

My grandsons enjoying the beach while their Lola (grandmother) enjoys the sunset, summer 2014 on the central coast of California

Sadly, it is not surprising at all to learn about the findings of this study. We already know about the plastic and trash vortex (now the size of Texas) in the North Pacific and of the trash contaminating the deepest of our planet’s oceans.

We are careless about plastic trash.  So why wouldn’t plastics eventually end up in our beverages?

All you have to do is look outside your car window the next time you are stuck in traffic. See that plastic bottle on the side of the road?  And look above…see that plastic bag up on that tree branch…plastic trash dot our landscape, no matter where we live.

And if you live near the water, that trash you saw by the roadside can end up in our waterways, and eventually turn into tiny particles that end up right back into your water source. Yummy!

Please be mindful of plastic trash….recycle, use alternatives, bring your reusable bags to the store, and most of all, let’s all do our best to control our plastic trash and not let it get into our oceans.

Let’s fix what we can for the health of our planet…and for our grandchildren.

Also see LolaKo.com post:

On thFrancis-Malasig-photo-philippine plastic trash probleme burden of civilization’s excess

About plastic trash problems in the Philippines (river of trash photo after typhoon by Francis R. Malasig via 5gyres.org)

 

plastic trim on walis tambo broomFrom the Native Leaf blog, post on when plastic use is totally unnecessary

…Before the advent of plastic strapping materials and plastic trim, these brooms were made entirely from natural materials — and the entire broom would have been biodegradable.

book_plastic_greyLolako.com post Plastic Rich / Plastic Poor on Susan Freinkel’s book, Plastic, A Toxic Love Story. Foreign editions in Australia, China, Korea, Spain and Taiwan – Link to Ms. Freinkel’s website, here.

Lola Jane’s post excerpt: I am part of this plastics generation — and problem — and feel propelled into doing something, before it is too late.

The question is…what can I do…how do I get the word out?