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Proposed pit mines in Alaska threaten wild salmon

Fishing boats in Bristol Bay c.1950, Ward Wells, Anchorage Museum. Click here.

Sent us by Bob Massengale, Project  Development, Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association, who writes that in Bristol Bay, "… where I've fished for two summers now. It's one of the world's last wild salmon fisheries, and it has been a commercial fishery (in westernized form) for 127 years (and supported cultures and families for 1000s of years before that). Bristol is a huge political issue up here because these huge international mining conglomerates want to open up an enormous pit to mine in and send out to Japan and anywhere but Dillingham. The mine poses a huge threat to the tributaries of the Bay's salmon waters, and could drastically alter habitat in what is now a pristine and undeveloped environment."

Kids skateboarding in Kabul


Skateboarding (carving) in the 21st century

I knew Loaded Boards was working on some new skateboards and contacted the owner Don Tashman recently. They'd just completed testing of the Bhangra board, a 41" laminated bamboo "dancing freestyle" cruiser. Don said he'd give me a demo model if I sent him some photos of me riding it. My first sponsor!

I'm so thrilled with this board that I'm skating more now. It allows me to carve more deeply, so I can skate steeper hills. I can't wait to get rolling.

When I'm out skating, guys in their 40s-50s, ex-skaters, check me out. They've quit skating -- family, job, responsibility, etc. What they don't know about is the revolution in skate gear lately. Any time I get one of them to try the board, it's, "Whoa!"

I think the skateboard companies should reach out to the 40-50-yr old skater. You've got the moves, dude (muscle memory), and even if you've given up the aerial manuevers of bowl skating, you can carve the downhills. And if you can slide, you can do steep downhills. A whole new game for your, er, mature years.

Photo shot yesterday by Lew Lewandowski

Mike Litchfield on turn-key tiny homes

Mike Litchfield, one of the founding editors of Fine Homebuilding magazine recently published the book In-laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats: Your Guide to Turning One House into Two Homes. It's a useful, informative and clear depiction of well-designed small homes. Watch for a review of it here. In the interim, here's a posting I just noticed on Mike's Fine Homebuilding blog, on a builder in the San Francisco area offering turn-key tiny homes:

"Kevin Casey's New Avenue Homes offers homeowners a turn-key ADU package that includes private financing, design, permit approval and construction. What’s more, he seems to be making a go of it, with a first backyard cottage garnering a lot of praise, and six more units in the pipeline. Now he’s looking for builders in other regions to partner with.…"

Agaricus Augustus mushrooms

Lew found these beauties a few days ago under a Bishop pine. Lucky for us, he doesn't eat wild mushrooms. Also called The Prince, they have a nutty, almond-like flavor.

The potato monster

These potatoes were in a dark place in the pantry. They seem to be sending out a message.

Shelter of ancestors

There have been some great comments to my 2 recent posts on the nature of "shelter." See the comment by Christine on her love affair with a tiny cottage in France: "…It's not far from the seashore. The rent is derisory and the nature all around, full of birds, foxes, badgers, roe deers, weasels, dragonflies, salamanders, snakes and toads. We enjoy their kindly company and spend hours watching them." http://lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.com/2011/06/feeling-of-shelter.html#links

What she writes about the cottage reminded me of an experience I had in England in the early '70s, on a trip shooting photos for the book Shelter. My son Peter (12) and I were driving a rental Mini when I spotted this abandoned cottage. It pulled at me like a magnet.  I walked through the field and spent about an hour shooting pictures and enjoying the quite incredible ambience. Photo and text from Shelter:

Driving down a small country lane in Norfolk, this building in the middle of a distant field. A peaceful presence, at rest with its surroundings.
  After hundreds of years, abandoned, sinking gracefully back into the landscape its materials originally came from.
  Vines climbing up the walls, in through the windows. Soon it will fold in the middle, kneel, in time become a mound in the field. Cycle completed.
  Inside it's cheerful and light, unlike many other dank abandoned houses where death lingers.
  Generations of shelter, births and deaths, sons and daughters. Countless fires built, meals cooked, needs tended.
  What will the houses we are building now look like in 300 years?

Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer and Build

This new book, by Peter Goodfellow, is reviewed by Henry Fountain in today's New York Times.

Fountain writes: "…These are where birds’ engineering skills shine. The song thrush, for example, a common European bird, begins building her (in many species, the female does the work) cup nest with a foundation of sturdy twigs, then adds moss and dried grass to form a crude cup, which is lined with wood pulp and mud and decorated on the outside with moss and leaves for camouflage.…"


From mountain spirit to ocean spirit

It's been a HUGE thing for me to quit running (competitively, that is). If my knees hadn't sent up distress signals, I'd probably still be out on the trails. But, having once given up competition, and the need to keep up with my running mates, a whole new world has opened up.

Week after week, year after year, I wanted to stay in good enough shape to run a decent 10K, and in recent years, I trained for (or obsessed over, as is the wont of true Dipsea racers) the Dipsea Race. But once I realized I couldn't do that any more, once that obligation was lifted, I found a ton of things to do -- and locally -- that I'd been neglecting -- beach combing, paddleboarding, surfing, fishing, clamming, harvesting seaweed. Back to the beach, which was my main focus for some 30 years, before I got into running. Coastal adventures.

Just going out on my old Montare bike last night, and walking on the beach -- no aerobic training necessary. I can run on the beach, but not RUN. Running for the joy of it, no need to get a training effect. Way different.

I've rediscovered the ocean. From mountain spirit back to ocean spirit as my main focus in nature. Life is pretty darn rich.

We should stop chasing economic "progress"

What’s the Big Idea?

Whether or not they consider themselves politically “progressive,” many Americans reflexively expect their country to make robust progress along economic lines. Buoyed by decades of material growth, we expect GDP to rise and standards of living to improve indefinitely. If these trends stagnate—as they’ve begun to during the current recession—pundits on all sides point fingers, assuming that something has gone terribly wrong.

But according to John Dillon, former classics professor at Trinity College, Dublin, classical thinkers would have found this assumption misguided. “This concept of progress,” Dillon explains to Big Think, “is so deeply ingrained in our psyches that it is hard for modern man to comprehend a culture in which no such concept is present….[But] among Greek and Roman intellectuals, it was fully recognized that nations and societies had their ups and down, that empires rose and fell….It was universally accepted that change in the physical world was cyclical: some new inventions were made from time to time, predominantly in the area of warfare, populations might increase locally, and cities, such as Alexandria, Rome, or Constantinople, grow to great size…but all this would be balanced by a decline somewhere else.”

paddle race yesterday

The 4th annual Shore-to-Shore paddle race, sponsored by Live Water Surf Shop of Stinson Beach, was here Saturday. Two courses: 2.8 miles, and 7-1/2 miles. There's a bigger turnout every year. Paddling is catching on in Northern California. It's huge in Southern California and more recently, Santa Cruz. New technology (as in skateboarding) has revolutionized the sport in the last ten or so years. I've always loved paddling, and a few years ago, I got a 12' Joe Bark Surftech racing paddleboard. It weighs 32 lbs and skims across the water like a water skeeter. If I paddle in the lagoon going with an incoming tide, I'm flying, with a v-shaped wake off the bow. Fun!

What I love about these events (there's a very large kayak/outrigger race in Sausalito in October) is seeing not just the various types of paddleboards, but the kayaks and especially the outrigger canoes. I have to admit to lusting after one of these outriggers since my friend Tom Mebi, who lives on a beach in Hawaii, told me about his outrigger. 20' long, weighing 23 lbs. Man!

These ones yesterday were real beauties. Featherlight (and expensive -- $3-5000). I'm trying to find one I can try out in these waters, and if it performs well in the ocean, I'll look out for a used one.

I did the short course. Ocean was choppy, weather foggy, but I love being in the water (prone paddleboard). I was tired, but not wiped out. A good vibes event, great lunch in the park afterwords. Great to see my old beachbum/lifeguard friends. We all love the ocean.

Outrigger canoes: http://occonnection.ipower.com/ , http://www.huki.com/

The feeling of shelter…

In the '70s, Lesley and I went to England, where she was born. I had friends, 3 brothers from Southern California, who had rented an old brick house in Mapledurham, a small village along the Thames, near Redding. One night my friend Michael took us over to a visit a small family in a nearby house. It was a cold night.

It turned out to be a thatched cottage, not your picture-perfect variety (like this one here), but still something authentic. The doorway was low -- a 6-footer would have to duck to get in. Inside, there was a fire burning in the fireplace, which was just part of the floor, casting orange shadows on the walls. The ceiling was really low, with whitewashed horizontal beams holding up the loft above.

I felt a hit, as if I'd stepped back into a past life. The warmth, the coziness, the feeling of protection -- the same qualities that I believe our ancestors created and treasured -- it felt familiar. (My mom's family is from Wales.)

I'll have feelings once in a while in different homes.when everything feels right, everything is working in unison: what you see, what you smell, what you touch, what you feel…

And if you'll pardon the whoo-whoo factor here, I think that we have memories in our genes, and that once in a while -- via meditation, or enhanced consciousness, or just the right mood -- we tap into these cellular memories. We get a feeling that doesn't come from conscious memories. Hey, I've been here before…