Archives for California

Hitting the Jacksmelt

Reviewing the San Francisco Bay tide tables last Monday, I noted early afternoon high tide numbers for the weekend and asked two buddies if they had any interest in chasing herring in the North Bay. They did, and yesterday afternoon, at Point Tiburon’s Elephant Rock Pier, we failed to find herring but made the acquaintance of Pacific jacksmelt aplenty. There’s something about getting into a school of “forage fish” that turns you into a 12-year-old, and a soft-spoken local teenager who fished alongside us with rod and reel could only gawk at the three man-children with their cast nets and
Read More

Categories: California, fish, natural history, and photography.

Hopefully Skeptical: TED, Sci Foo, & A New(ish) Optimism

In “Super Excited,” an essay published in the consistently excellent Aeon, the British popular philosopher Julian Baggini considers “a highly contagious meme [that] is spreading around the world,” one that “takes serious ideas and turns them into play, packages big subjects into small parcels, and makes negativity the deadliest of sins.” According to Baggini, this meme is the zeitgeist of what he dubs “Generation TED,” and it is much on his mind following his recent participation in 2014’s Sci Foo “unconference” at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California. “In sunny Silicon Valley,” he writes, “[my] moderate British skepticism makes me
Read More

Categories: California, eudaimonia, science, and writing.

Hunting & conservation in Bay Nature

The opening spread of “View From the Blind,” an article by Aleta George in the October-December issue of Bay Nature features a photograph that I took at dawn during a December 2013 duck hunting outing near Robbins, California. George’s excellent piece highlights the critical role hunters played during the inception of the American conservation movement, and also introduces readers to a handful of contemporary hunter-conservationists in the Bay Area.
Read More

Categories: California, conservation, and photography.

A Santa Cruz Island weekend

On a Friday morning in early September, I was awakened by the hoarse calls of a great blue heron and the barking of a California sea lion. I found the juxtaposition disorienting. Great blues and sea lions aren’t animals I associate with one another. Half asleep, it took several seconds for me to recall that I was in the berth of a sailboat docked near Oxnard, California, where it’s perfectly natural for the two species to keep company in the predawn twilight. Because my formative years were spent in Tidewater Virginia and my 20s and early 30s in the boroughs
Read More

Categories: California, conservation, fish, invasive species, mammals, natural history, photography, sharks, and writing.

Meet the Barron Park Donkeys

During a recent visit to Palo Alto, I met Niner and Perry, the Barron Park donkeys. Perry (short for Pericles) is a 20-year-old miniature donkey and the younger of the two animals. He’s also something of a celebrity, having served as the model for Donkey, the donkey character in DreamWorks Pictures’ 2001 animated film, “Shrek.” At 30, Niner is 10 years Perry’s senior and, while his breed is called a standard donkey, he had plenty of character and made for a terrific model.
Read More

Categories: California, domesticated animals, history, mammals, and photography.

Sleeping With The ZomBee(s)

The Friday night of the Helix Monsters weekend in Los Altos, I crashed at my friends’ house in nearby Palo Alto. Just outside one of the large windows in the room I slept in, under the roof’s eave, industrious European honey bees have manufactured an impressive natural hive. Because the BAASICS team has been preoccupied by zombees of late, we decided to do a little monster trapping. Enthusiastic amatuers often don’t realize what they’re getting themselves into; at least I didn’t!
Read More

Categories: BAASICS, California, insects, natural history, photography, and science.