Stacy's Journal
50 most recent entries

Date:2014-08-31 09:45
Subject:Traditional Hawaiian aquaculture

Today's educational tidbit - traditional Hawaiian aquaculture practices. Future tourism plans!

Thanks to Sunday morning KINE PSA interviews! My environmental engineering side is sated.
(there are some on several islands - find one local to your island plans)

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Date:2014-05-23 10:57
Subject:Celebrity sighting

Last night I saw Porgy & Bess at the Ahmanson. My aunt shared the good news that she's planning to retire. As we were leaving the theater, she expressed concern about having to sign up for Social Security disbursements online - she may need to call me to help her out with the scary computer thing. I told her not to worry - George Takei and Patty Duke assure me it's easy. About 3 seconds later I look over... and there's George himself a few rows away also waiting to get out of the theater. Kismet of the most bizarre sort. Of course, I said nothing to him, but how strange is that! And of all the celebrities to stumble across, he's one I'm happy to cross paths with.

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Date:2014-05-13 07:30
Subject:Hello summer

I turned in my final class project on Sunday.

I got an extra day in the museum on Monday because I can. Wed will be bumped to Fri this week because Richard has a doctor's appointment.

I have a prodigious list of thing to do today/this week now that I have no school to worry about. While I slept well, I got up today wanting a nap. I have considered the possibility that the prodigious list may be instigating this desire. I'm trying to keep it low intensity, casual. "Just do the stuff that sounds appealing" kind of list. They are things I want accomplished and will feel better once they're done. I think I'll start with revving up the swamp cooler - it will make everything else easier. Since that's an outside job, I'll manage that right up front, then work on other stuff later.

My bee club project is coming along nicely - we're entering the 21st century - it's delightful.

Yard work is... slower. ;)

And I might treat myself to a nap regardless.

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Date:2014-03-19 08:52
Subject:LJ craziness

So, when I went to read my friends page this morning, I was hit with "Adult Content" warnings. I get logged out now and again, it happens. But today there is no login option for me to fill out - just their stupid "login through other services" malarkey. So I'm posting via Semagic to see if I can still post to my account despite not being logged in through a browser.

Of course, to see it I need this to be public...

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Date:2014-01-26 13:21
Subject:but why is it broken?

When I talk to friends about the libraries I work in, one of the most common refrains is "but why haven't they done X yet?" usually in reference to some sort of modernization/digitization/data accessibility task. The answer, inevitably, is money. At this point the conversation usually lulls as the inevitable is accepted as just the way things are. Irrefutable.

But sometimes, there is a flicker of "do the people with money LIKE being surrounded by uneducated people?!" under the assumption that if we distributed wealth to those organizations focused on education and research that people would obviously become more educated. But there may be more to it than that/ Part of the issue is "If we built it, would they come?" Just because a brilliantly simple access to data is built doesn't mean people will necessarily care about the data included, regardless of how easy it is to find.

Now there are examples and arguments on both sides of this issue. YouTube, for example - how many people would put time and effort into finding a copy of Mr. Rogers testifying for PBS in front of Congress if it weren't easily accessible via YouTube? What about the countless clips of classic movies and music that are available on YouTube - many of which my librarian and I have used to enhance our educational programs for the public when discussing "Citizen Kane", "Chinatown", "2001: A Space Odyssey", and more. Interviews with filmmakers, scientists, engineers, you name it. On the flip side, there is endless hours of dross among the gold. But frankly, trying to determine which is which is a fool's errand. We have no way of predicting which clips will prove useful to someone's thought process or instruction and which won't. It's entirely this uncertainty that keeps the money in wealthy pockets rather than spilling out all over archival institutions - the risk inherent in the ROI assessment.

Because frankly, the influence of libraries is hard to measure. It's very diffuse, indirect, cumulative. The librarian at NHM right now is having a bunch of 16mm film digitized, and because much of it was shot by/for NHM, they will own the rights to the content, and be able to use it for whatever media/promotional/marketing uses they desire. The librarian is planning to crow about this content's availability to everyone he can in the organization, in large part because it's one of the few, rare instances where concrete fiscal benefit of the library collection can be demonstrated. Since the digitization is coming on account of a grant in the first place, he's hoping it will demonstrate the value of the org allocating more internal funds in the future. His efforts can't really be measured the way you can prove vaccines saved X number of lives for $Y/ea. At best he can typically demonstrate how access to his collection helped N researchers publish Q papers (many in their in-house journal) thereby increasing the reputation of the institution. Well, what does increased reputation get you? How do you measure that? Does that result in more paying visitors? Can it be proven that it results in more grants for in-house research? Outcomes at public libraries can be even harder to demonstrate. It's a contact challenge for librarian - justifying the investment in helping them make legacy collections easier to access.

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Date:2013-09-05 09:51

That mystery book I requested? I found the reason why in my 204 class under "Stretching the Limits -- Not required but extremely enlightening":

Read the book:

The World is Flat: A brief history of the Twenty-first century (p. 2003; expanded and updated 2005)
By Thomas Friedman
In my opinion, there is no more important non-fiction book available right now with the relevance this book has for information (and business!) professionals. What the author (Friedman) argues is that the world is "connected" now, which has lowered trade and political barriers and the exponential technical advances of the digital revolution have now made it possible to do business, or almost anything else, instantaneously with billions of other people across the planet. This in itself should not be news to anyone. But the news that Friedman has to deliver is that just when we stopped paying attention to these developments--when the dot-com bust turned interest away from the business and technology pages and when 9/11 and the Iraq War turned all eyes toward the Middle East--is when they actually began to accelerate. Globalization 3.0, as he calls it, is driven not by major corporations or giant trade organizations like the World Bank, but by individuals: desktop freelancers and innovative startups all over the world (but especially in India and China) who can compete--and win--not just for low-wage manufacturing and information labor but, increasingly, for the highest-end research and design work as well. (He doesn't forget the "mutant supply chains" like Al-Qaeda that let the small act big in more destructive ways.) What lies in store for the information professional considering this new business environment? What can librarians do to make their job more relevant to our users? How do WE take advantage of a flat world?

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Date:2013-08-26 10:44
Subject:LIBR203 - Personal Skills needed to succeed in online classes

When I was first discussing the possibility of getting my MLIS at SJSU with friends, one of the first concerns raised was the flexible online structure versus UCLA's more traditional in-person program. While the flexibility of the SJSU program was crucial to me being able to even consider going back to school now that I'm a mom, my personal behavioral traits, especially as relate to my recent ADD diagnosis, mean that I thrive much better under a structured environment, especially if that structure is externally imposed. And I thrive most when the schedule is consistent. Thankfully, while SJSU's program offers high levels of flexibility, there are still deadlines and due dates and specific assignment criteria that must be followed, which means I can build a framework with externally imposed criteria, and fit that around the schedule of household obligations and everything will work out. I've always been highly organized and kept meticulous records - it turns out that's a common coping mechanism for most people with ADD, and since my case is as slight as it is, that coping mechanism meant no one ever assumed I had any issues with organization or focus. In fact, that love of organization is part of why my first career as an engineer was so appealing. Math is clear, concrete, it has a sense of finality and definitive categorization that appeals to my sense of order. Given my past study habits, my ongoing love of organization and a consistent regimen, I ultimately decided that an online course would not be excessively difficult from a structure or organization perspective.

Of course, there's always the specter of teamwork. Engineers are not renowned for our teamwork. We're stereotyped as preferring to sit in our corner cubicles (or as Enid Irwin mentions, the back of the class) by ourselves crunching our numbers and running our computer programs until we spit out a finished project and ask for the next task - and for good reason! Humans are messy when compared with that neat, orderly math I mentioned before. Humans are variable, unpredictable, and often unreliable. It's why in high school when everyone else in my AP Biology class was working on summaries of the human systems as teams, I was doing it solo - I didn't trust others to actually help me learn the material. (I had missed the class where teams were selected and I did not take initiative to ingratiate myself with one, even though my high class score would likely have made me a welcome member.) On the one hand, it meant I studied EVERY system in the human body rather than just one or two, but it also meant I made a whole lot of extra work for myself and didn't hear any outside perspectives to jog or jostle my understanding of the material. It also meant I didn't have the opportunity to try and explain my understanding to anyone else, and perhaps find holes in my comprehension.

Much better examples of teamwork in my past include my time volunteering decorating Rose Parade floats. Mostly a group of family and friends who already knew well how to communicate, we collaborated with float crew members to find out what the artistic vision and expectations were. We then worked in our smaller group to find a process that would result in the desired effect while maintaining at least speaking relationships with each other despite working 16 hour days in cold, wet, and sometimes glue-fume-addled conditions. Of course, while our small group was very horizontally oriented (as described by Dr. Haycock in his Spring 2007 SLIS Colloquium presentation), our directions and goals and even operating behaviors were dictated in a very hierarchical, vertical way by employees in the organization.

Other experiences with team work have been more challenging. Participation in various non-profit organizations has had varying results. As a member of my engineering honor society I brought my expertise in data management to the table as our secretary, and even fulfilled some leadership and mentoring roles by attending our national convention and then educating our membership about things I learned there, but the idea of bringing my own thoughts and opinions to the table for directing the goals and movement of the organization didn't really come into play. As a member of my church council I found myself being asked for opinions more and more often, especially given my level of education and experience as a college educated native-born citizen, a rarity in my congregation. I spent several years as a secretary in that organization as well, and when I was later elected President I found myself in a leadership role that was foreign and unfamiliar. I instinctively tried to get the group to formalize a common goal (recommended by both Dr. Haycock and Enid Irwin) in the form of a mission statement, and worked hard to keep people on task and let all voices be heard, but as a member of a longstanding if continually rotating group, it was hard to dislodge some of the entrenched behaviors and encourage new standards. Ultimately it was an exhausting and discouraging enterprise.

More recently my beekeeping club has seen me take up a role of secretary again, keeping to my strengths with data management skills. But I've also learned to speak up in meetings when the general assembly is discussing matter of group position and goals - participating as Enid Irwin encourages students to do. I work hard to make sure all members have information from as many perspectives as I can before decisions are made and votes are taken. While this group most certainly does NOT qualify as the 5-8 person team Dr. Haycock mentions, I've found that, as recommended by Dr. Haycock, the well established ground rules of respectful disagreement during meeting discussions is a valuable rarity, and a credit to the leaders of the organization over the past 20 years or so. This organization has taught me much about how to hold fiercely divergent opinions on a topic and yet still manage to hold civil discourse on the issue. It's also taught me a great deal about effective delegation of certain tasks to other, more skilled members of the group. In the past I've been the kind of person to say "well, I'll do all the work because no one else has my high standards", and as Dr. Haycock says, more the fool me for drowning myself in unnecessary obligation.

Perhaps the most team-like work I've ever done has been with my library volunteering in the past two years. Shortly after I started, the group of volunteers I was working with found ourselves "storming" in Dr. Haycock's terms, about the unexpected tasks we'd been assigned, having signed up expecting somewhat different roles initially. When those expectations were clarified and a common goal was resolved, things moved on much more amiably and smoothly. While all directives were still coming from a hierarchical position to a largely horizontal team, I've found myself intuitively seeking answers for the perspectives of those in vertically different positions so I could best devise approaches that would meet the needs of business offices, administration, management, and patrons alike. While this is politically challenging with only my supervising librarian to glean information from, she's been fantastic about trying to learn or discern those objectives/goals/perspectives herself and thereby help us see the bigger picture with better clarity. Once we have that big picture in focus, using perspectives from end users, top administrators, desk librarians, and bottom line watchers, we can come up with exhibits and presentations that appeal to users, meet mission goals of administrators, stay within constraints of department needs, and keep the financial offices happy. Being clear up front about when and what is expected (much like assignment criteria) and having over a year's practice with the ground rules about attendance, interaction styles, and library policy has resulted in an actually productive volunteer team, even though we've had several membership transitions in that time. While I still enjoy the ability to be assigned or designated a specific task and disappear to a corner cubicle to finish it, I find I much less frequently come out of my cubicle to find the task has changed while I was gone than I used to. Or that I enter the cubicle already anticipating the ways the task might change while I'm gone, so I find it less upsetting, because we've already identified the most likely alterations before I started, so I've been able to plan for them.

Clear communication up front about team objectives and acceptable behaviors has been crucial for every successful team I've been part of. I've enjoyed the increasingly effective groups I've been part of in the passing years, and look forward to further refining my skills at being able to effectively interact with diverse groups and produce a successful end result.

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Date:2013-08-07 14:40
Subject:Off and running

This post is for my LIBR203 class. Long-time viewers, sorry if I bore. New classmates - welcome to Me Online!

I've been posting here at my LiveJournal (LJ) blog since 2003. When I find a tool I like, I tend to stick with it as long as possible. (Upgrading to Word 2007 for school is... painful. I particularly abhor UI change for the sake of UI change. You don't want to know about my Quicken version...) I typically write my entries via Semagic, an editor designed by a user to be more friendly than the online LJ editor, though I will use the native editor for quick edits and permissions changes. I've also backed up my account via LJArchive (which also allows me incredibly useful search capabilities for both posts and comments!). When I started this blog, ICQ was a favored form of instant messenger, though I've since moved through other more favored options like Yahoo and Google chats, using Trillian as an aggregator.

The avatar image is an excerpt from a painting I own by Carrie Graber, an artist based here in Los Angeles.

Aside from simply using LJ as a blog format, I've also used it for years as a rudimentary RSS feed reader. LJ's syndicated feed option allows reading RSS feeds intermingled with my typical friends list here on LJ and keeps all the posts listing in chronological order, which makes it easier for me to figure out where I stopped reading last and catch up on things most efficiently. Many of my friends who've moved on from LJ to independent WordPress blogs still show up in my feed as syndicated RSS feeds. LJ favors a long format writing style, unlike Facebook or Twitter, so I get more thought out, contemplative, life update kinds of posts than the constant fire-hose of off-hand thoughts I find Facebook is overpopulated with (though I keep that account as a handy IM/email contact mechanism). Another problem I have with both Facebook and G+ is that they severely limit the use of embedded links in their postings, and I find that when I'm describing something I've researched at all I often want to embed multiple reference links, and highlight none of them above the others. LJ allows for this while the other, more popular formats do not. In fact, one of my friends used to be famous for writing deeply involved posts littered with embedded links that were directly or indirectly related to the highlighted words/context. They were a DELIGHT to read! I've never bothered to move to WordPress because I find so many WordPress blogs to be uncomfortable to read on account of formatting, and I haven't the patience or inclination to learn enough about the formatting to make one what I consider functional when LJ has a default format that does it for me automatically. The threaded comments sections on LJ are another big part of why I've never changed format - I've never found another service/format that does it quite as well. Privacy/viewing permissions are also well integrated and easier to use than many of the other blogging options. Much of this is probably based on first trained being most comfortable, but if it ain't broken, why fix it? I've not heard a compelling argument yet for me to change. Yes, I am running into obsolescence issues, and someday, heaven forfend, I may have to actually switch over to something else. But for now, I have everything mostly in one place, with some side forays/replication in FB and G+ as it seemed warranted based on the audiences I was trying to reach.

LJ's RSS feeds offer up the last 25 public entries, so my apologies to any and all if the feed based on my RSS hogs the limelight on the class blog feed initially. I've tried to check and make sure all such posts are at least marginally entertaining - many of them are about my pursuits in both library work and beekeeping, and even include write-ups from a state beekeeper's convention I attended. Enjoy!

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Date:2013-05-20 19:58
Subject:for the writers

An excellent essay on the everyday portrayal of women.

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Date:2013-03-22 10:10
Subject:Dear Universe:

Where did I put the instructions for this bicycle odometer so I can measure my yarnz?

I'm sure I put it somewhere "safe".

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Date:2013-03-04 13:15
Subject:LAPL Rare Books

I got a tour of the Rare Books department on Saturday, thanks to Emma Roberts. In addition to the oldest, most expensive, and most-at-risk-of-theft books in our collection, the department also houses some of the library’s more unique (if not monetarily valuable) collections. Being a fan of the old and rare, this was a special treat (one of my fellow volunteers put off moving to her new job in Monterey so she could see it!). Unfortunately, some of these unique collections are poorly cataloged and therefore hardly used, mostly because no one knows they’re there!

For instance, the library houses a collection of books/posters/flyers/ephemera about bullfighting. The collection is extensive enough that interested parties have come from as far as Spain to view it (apparently the enthusiasts of such things know about it, and share amongst themselves). But I searched for mention of it last night on LAPL’s website and could find no mention of it aside from the brief mention on the Rare Books Department page.

That page, by the way, is now inaccurate. The oldest tome in the rare books collection is a manuscript dating from the thirteenth century – something we didn’t realize until last summer when someone from the Getty came over to view it and proceeded to identify it for us within an hour.

The Rare Books department is stocked primarily by assimilation of volumes from other departments, especially given how minimal the acquisition budget is for the library in this economy. As other departments stumble across volumes in their stacks that should receive more security, they offer them up to the Rare Books staff. I’ve actually been a catalyst for at least two such volumes based on my work in the Art Department stacks – sadly, primarily because both old tomes were significantly damaged - "The Ship that Sailed to Mars" by Timlin and Kay Nielsen's "In powder & crinoline; old fairy tales retold".

The map collection’s “baby” in the Rare Books department is an elephant folio 1888 atlas compiled by Dakin Publishing, which is even older than the library's noted Sanborn Fire Insurance Atlases. Designed much like the Sanborn Maps of fire insurance purview, this map includes pasted in squares of city blocks with all the buildings and businesses drawn in/listed. The librarian indicated there were an astonishing number of houses of ill repute and opium dens represented. Huzzah the Wild West!

There used to be regular open hours for the department where anyone could walk in and request books. Based on library funding and thus staffing cuts, this is no longer the case. Now those materials are available by request only. Primarily, the materials will be brought to the Art Department (as Rare Books is a sub-department) and the librarians will keep an eye on you/the materials while you view them there. In the cases of white-glove materials and large groups, they may make an exception and shuffle schedules enough to allow for the reading room in the rare books department to be used instead. In particularly rare cases, especially with collections like the bullfighting collection, a librarian has been known to bring a uniquely trusted patron/visitor into the stacks so they can grasp the magnitude of options available to them before deciding what to pull out. This is EXCEEDINGLY rare.

The department itself is currently only accessible to those with departmental badges of senior librarian or higher. The elevators that serve that floor require a badge authorization, not to mention the doors to the department itself, and the closed stacks within the department. There are two closed stacks rooms for the Rare Books, and sadly one of them is routinely too warm for comfort of the overseeing librarians – HVAC control is a complaint of many staffers throughout the library from both directions. The History department has a closed stack room that they joke can be used to keep your beers cold (not to mention their most valuable map/historical books and Turnabout Theater collections) and several regular circulation rooms leave librarians and staff members shivering in their sweaters, while other rooms complain of constantly being in the 80s – not a good thing for antique books. The space for Rare Books is an odd “attic room” kind of space. The reading room is sunken compared to the reference/reception desk area, and the larger of the two stacks which starts at the reception level is also split level, but going up towards the back, where the storage space twist and turns into odd corners, primarily devoted to storage of folios and even elephant folios.

Another problem with storage of the Rare Books collection is that so few funds are available for archival storage and packaging. Any new acquisitions headed for the Rare Books room are spared the typical application of call number/bar code/book plate stickers that other volumes receive. New rare books receive an acid-free bookmark with the call number typed on it, with bar codes for item identification attached only to plastic covers or sleeves over the item. Older tomes often need boxes for storage to protect their delicate and fragile bindings and pages. Sadly, these sleeves and boxes and covers all cost money, and must often be built to custom sizes, so the department librarians must prioritize based on most urgent need and leave the rest to wait patiently.

To help ease this burden, the Bruckman Rare Book Friends has organized and hosts occasional fundraisers to help keep materials stocked for the overseeing librarians. The group participates in monthly book sales and has also launched its own program series. If you are interested in becoming a Bruckman member or would like to learn more about the group's calendar of events, please email, Helene at You can also contact Emma at 213-228-7243 or (Appropriately enough, they’re not so much online… yet.)

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Date:2013-01-14 19:53
Subject:Pimping my library work

Come see what I've been working on, including the video I did voice-over narration for last week (as well as the PowerPoint presentation it was based on, and the video editing, and the post-editing processing to get the correct codecs involved...) on display in front of the Art Department entrance, next to the posters I did the graphic design for.

Date(s): Saturday, January 19, 2013
Time: 12:00pm to 2:00pm
Location: Central Library Getty Gallery
Audience: Adults
Category: Exhibition Related Program
View pictures and films from the Mexican Revolution and the artwork that followed. Enter a Diego Rivera mural on an interactive website. Visit Frida Kahlo’s blue house via the Internet. Play a game of Lotería based on photographs from Central Library’s exhibit: A Nation Emerges: the Mexican Revolution Revealed and join the curator for a gallery talk.

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Date:2012-03-16 21:03
Subject:social activism - for FREE

Kiva is running a recruiting campaign funded by one of its creators. Sign up to qualify for a free $25 to loan to people in need.

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Date:2011-12-16 10:07
Subject:too good not to share

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Date:2011-12-11 19:13
Subject:in brighter news

I met with a librarian downtown to see about joining her for a special project involving their graphic narrative collection. Come January, I will be helping her assemble even more of their collection into a new sub-collection of graphic works - everything from Snoopy strips to Maus, Dark Knight, and Clan Apis. Every text is being checked by hand to determine if it is truly a narrative in graphic format, or a discussion/criticism/how-to of graphic format. Both circulation and reference copies are being pulled for the new collection, and many of the reference texts may be reintroduced to the circulation shelves if it is determined that they are redundant or superfluous in the closed stacks. Simultaneously, many circulation copies get pulled to reference when things like new superhero movies make them excessively prone to theft and damage (Batman, Green Lantern, etc.). So far, the sub-collection includes about 2,500 works.

She also aspires to restructuring their fine art collection (where most of the graphic works can be found) into a more browsing-friendly shelving situation. Since the LAPL Dewey system is running v. 14 (rather than v. 23) and Dewey was never designed to break out graphic novels, or be convenient for browsing in the fashion she's aiming to achieve, the librarian has had to design a system from research at other libraries nation-wide who have instituted useful elements. On top of all this, LAPL is still behind the curve tech-wise because of the fire back in the 80s - they've been playing catch-up ever since and are just now instituting wi-fi capabilities in the closed stacks so their staff can bring their tablets/laptops into those areas and access the main catalogue while working.

I will likely be devoting much of my Saturdays to this project in the coming year.

I asked if she had a wish-list for this collection as my social circle would likely be interested in helping flesh out the collection. She said we would develop one together as we got the collection in shape, so if you have specific titles you think they should absolutely not miss, PLEASE let me know.

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Date:2011-11-27 09:36
Subject:Social business

Social business - it's what I'm into lately. Support Homeboy Industries, where "nothing stops a bullet like a job" here in LA by logging in with your facebook account and getting them closer to a $1 donation from Ford by watching a video or following them on Twitter:

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Date:2011-11-25 14:56
Subject:economics, psychology, charity

So, I got into a discussion with Reichart about the fallacy of there not being enough work in the world, of jobs being limited and easily eliminated. We ended up at the point of lack of working capital being one of the huge limiting factors to useful work being done.

But how do you mobilize that kind of capital, and focus it into the most useful directions (by which I mean those things that will most greatly improve people's quality of life)? One of his big examples was cancer research.

Project Apis m. does this. It is specifically designed to get money into bee researcher's hands AS FAST AS POSSIBLE - new proposals are discussed at every monthly board meeting, and at least 50% of funding supplied as soon as your work starts, assuming PAm has enough funds in stock to start you off. But there's also the Managed Pollinators Cooperative Agriculture Program doing the same thing with USDA involvement. So now in the attempt to centralize, we've already splintered, and the beekeeping industry is comparatively small. Why do humans feel the need to break off into their very own groups instead of working collaboratively until the core issue is understood?

We don't have that kind of centralization with cancer research. Googling brings up DOZENS of disparate groups all claiming to be working at coordinating research, improving dissemination of results, etc.

The same thing comes up when you research water access projects.

Or malaria prevention.

Or hunger eradication.

There are advantages to cloud-sourcing, to emulating the SETIathome program in your research efforts. But the reason SAH worked is because there was a centralized directive, a single focused plan with all the scattered computers working toward a single goal. How do we get that to happen in other areas of grave importance? Why can't we mobilize huge numbers of on-the-ground workers without all of these redundant, resource-sucking administrative arms? What about human psych leads us to create a NEW org instead of throwing our efforts into supporting pre-existing orgs and adding our funding streams to an established plan?

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Date:2011-11-25 12:38
Subject:holiday giving

My focus lately is microfinance. My favorite resources right now are and Matt Damon's Both groups focus on providing local communities with desired capital and education to make SUSTAINABLE improvements to the communities, often employing local support network/peer pressure models to make sure there is a great deal of recipient involvement and investment in the exchange. Heifer International is another great group based on a similar model (they even offer bees!).

All three are on my Amazon wish list. While I endorse buying gifts for friends and family that support local economy and provide desired items and luxuries they might not otherwise buy themselves, I also highly endorse people supporting sustainable quality of life improvements in other countries. If you are of like mind, consider adding these kinds of things to your wish lists.

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Date:2011-09-26 09:48
Subject:more honey

So, in addition to the cut comb you saw yesterday, our crush/strain yielded a 5lb bottle of honey (plus a dribble beyond that), enough wax for 6 votives, and 3 quarts of honey water from the cappings rendering process. This honey water absolutely requires cutting before drinking - the concentration it currently has could probably have been used for fermentation... You'll note the color is a bit darker than the honey itself. I got the crock pot a bit hot during rendering and boiled the water/wax/honey mixture unintentionally, so probably caramelized some of the honey. Tasty, though!

I've also ordered custom Christmas cards to be given out with these objects come the holidays. I'm so ahead of my usual! Woot!

Now, if only my list of people was short enough to share with everyone...

PicciesCollapse )

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Date:2011-09-25 17:53

Today we harvested our first crop of honey. We wound up with 37 trays of cut comb and about 5-lb of extracted honey, plus a couple pounds of beeswax - the extracted honey/wax are still straining/rendering right now. I am RIDICULOUSLY excited about this! I feel almost silly about how excited I am about it, despite every beekeeper I know saying for the past 3 years that there's nothing as exciting as your first harvest... And as eain points out, this is something that has been about 3 years in the making, my interest in bees, so it kind of makes sense I'd be excited about finally having a useful end product (even if it did cost a ridiculous amount in capital outlay compared to buying the honey retail). eain took some photos for posterity:

Read more...Collapse )

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Date:2011-09-01 13:37
Subject:memory lane

I've been babysitting a 1yo lately. Our "quiet time" interludes are usually a Sesame Street clip or two off their website. I miss John John so much - I wish they had a tag for him so I didn't have to search by keyword. I'll have to see if they'll let me make my own playlist...

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Date:2011-08-23 20:45
Subject:I'm famous!

Well, not really, but I'm closer than before. ;)

My friend Jackie Kashian is a stand-up comedian who invites "Dorks" of all specialties and interests into her living room to educate her on their Dorkdoms. She had been looking for a Bee Dork for months when she finally was clued into the fact that I'm the secretary of the LA County Beekeepers Association, and rushed to get me in her home. You can listen to our hour-long podcast (with guest appearance by Vincent) at Episode #58. I haven't listened to it yet, but I remember feeling many of my responses to her questions were woefully incomplete because it's so easy to get distracted by tangents half way through answering something. Hopefully people will come away knowing more than when they started.

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Date:2011-06-20 13:04
Subject:Help the bees with our highways!

(sourced from

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

You can help bees and other pollinators by signing on to Group Letter (and shown BELOW) supporting the Highways BEE Act(Highways Bettering the Economy and Environment Act), which will be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives during Pollinator Week, on June 23, 2011.  The bill promotes conservation practices on 17 million acres of highway rights-of-way (ROWs) by encouraging reduced mowing and native plantings that provide improved habitat for pollinators, ground nesting birds and other small wildlife.  Click Here for additional background on the legislation.

Who Can Sign?
·  Organizations at all levels (national, state, local)
·  Companies
·  Researchers
·  other individuals

When To Sign?
Deadline ASAP, by June 20!  Lend support to this concept and legislation by signing on to the Group Letter.

How to Sign?
Click Here (or e-mail to respond and sign on! It will only take a minute of your time.

·   Please indicate how Organization or Company should be listed
·   Include CEO name and title, if desired.
·   City-state if regional/local organization.
·   If Individual, city-state and any affiliation.

Forward this opportunity to others who may be interested.  Spreading the word helps!


The undersigned support the Highways Bettering the Economy and Environment Act (Highways BEE Act). 

The Highways BEE Act proposes significant economic and conservation benefits that can be achieved through integrated vegetation management (IVM) practices on Federal and state highway right-of-ways (ROWs) managed by State Departments of Transportation (DOTs).  These areas represent about 17 million acres of opportunity where significant reductions in mowing and maintenance can reduce costs for cash-strapped State DOTs. 

Reductions in roadside mowing, combined with enhanced plantings of native forbs and grasses, can provide economic benefits, reduced carbon emissions, and critical habitat for pollinators, ground nesting birds and other small wildlife.  Pollinators, such as bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, are essential to healthy ecosystems and are vital partners in American agriculture.  Pollinators are suffering drastic population loss, due in part to loss of habitat.

Landscape improvement through native plants has the added benefit of providing resistance to invasive plants, reduced fire danger, and more scenic highways.  Roadside native plantings have the added benefit of being less attractive to mega-fauna, like deer and elk, than fescue and other non-native grasses currently found on most roadsides.  Mega-fauna are the fastest growing cause of costly vehicle accidents.  In addition, neighboring agricultural lands and wildlife ecosystems will benefit from improved pollination services.

This legislation supports and builds on innovative IVM efforts in a growing number of State DOT’s by directing the Secretary of Transportation to use existing authorities, programs and funding to encourage and facilitate efforts by States and other transportation ROWs managers, to adopt IVM practices, including reduced mowing and enhanced native plantings that provide multiple fiscal, safety and aesthetic benefits while also promoting habitat and migratory corridors for pollinators, ground nesting birds and other small wildlife.


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Date:2011-01-12 09:36

For those who wear shawls/scarves:

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Date:2010-12-15 08:28
Subject:Help Santa out

Postal workers across the country are fielding the annual deluge of letters to Santa, and this year they're seeing more requests for food, clothing, and utility costs than ever before. If you would like to help out, check the map for a PO near you participating in the program. Here in LA, those POs are Central distribution center, Santa Clarita, and Santa Ana.

The USPS page on this program

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Date:2010-09-29 21:58
Subject:gamer charity

Many of you are familiar with Child's Play, the charity started by the guys who bring us Penny Arcade. It raises funds and takes donations of toys every year for donation to children's hospitals. Last year it raised well over $1.7M, and this year it could very well top $2M. My contribution this year will be at least one set of gamer towels for their holiday auction.

The reason I write all this is: they do not have a Los Angeles area hospital on their roster! All of that money/toys/games/etc., and none of our local kids are benefiting. Knowing how many gamers we've got in town, especially industry folk, many of whom contribute to this charity in some fashion, I find this... confusing.

So, I hopped online to find out how to "fix" this. There are two main children's hospitals in LA, based on my quick Google. One is UCLA affiliated, the other USC affiliated (quelle surprise, non?). Naturally I delved into the USC affiliated facility first (it's the one closer to downtown, not on the West Side... I'm biased that way when it comes to my charity dollars). Child's Play asks that we convince the fund raising/donations departments of the hospitals contact them, so I've dug up what I can as far as contact info:

I have emailed them a quick note about what Child's Play does, included the website (, and asked them (per Child's Play's instructions) to sign up with Child's Play by contacting

If you want to see Child's Play start giving to kids in our area, please contact the donor/fund raising folk at one of the hospitals and convince them to contact Child's Play for future donations.

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Date:2010-09-29 14:50

REALLY dislike the new Contact interface on Gmail. Gr.

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Date:2010-08-09 19:45
Subject:Summer air

It smells of smoke again...
Wet springs plus dry (if cool) summers are a mixed blessing.

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Date:2009-11-24 13:08
Subject:Bees post the sixth

Bees and nutrition

One of the main themes that came up over and over and over was "good nutrition makes for healthy bees". For the commercial guys this usually means "bees that get fed are healthier than bees that don't, and bees that get fed syrup AND pollen patties are healthier than those who only get syrup".

But the HEALTHIEST bees are those who get widely varied and sufficient supply of local forage. And as few -icides in their diet as possible - fungicides, herbicides, and pesticides significantly affect the balance of the microbial population in the hive, much like humans taking antibiotics disrupts our digestive flora/fauna - and the bees therefore can't digest/process their food stores as effectively and are more susceptible to illness/pests.
Whoa, that got big, sorryCollapse )

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Date:2009-11-22 16:07
Subject:Bee post the fifth

Bees and the Law

There are several legal issues currently facing the beekeeping industry.

First, I briefly touched on the issue of importing bees/germplasm. Current import restrictions prevent us from acquiring any bees or bee "stuff" from Europe. The government doesn't want us to import any more pests or diseases with them. Since we're already dealing with varroa mite, small hive beetle, nosema, tracheal mites, and wax moth, plus a host of other lesser but still present viruses, I don't blame them. The US bees do a lot of traveling in tight conditions and it's easy to pass this stuff around (in fact, one study presented indicated they were bringing nasties in from outside, so the big wide world is just icky). In turn, Australia won't permit us to export our infected bees to their island. I can't say as I blame them. On the other hand, they're happy to ship to us, and the almond industry is happy to have them do so. Unfortunately, their largely uninfected stocks of bees were recently threatened with an unpermitted introduction of apis cerana, Asian bees. This bees typically come with their own particular varieties of mites, as well. While they don't THINK they've been expanding much, and they've been mostly contained, it's a "negative proof" sort of situation, so importing from them may now pose the risk of the US acquiring even more nasties. Additionally, Asian bees apparently are prone to robbing from managed European bee hives, endangering their food supplies and thus their health/viability.

Second, seedless mandarins. The public wants mandarin and clementine oranges with no seeds. If bees pollinate the trees, the oranges have seeds. The growers tried to make it illegal for beekeepers to place hives anywhere within 3 miles of an orchard of 6 acres or more. This meant huge loses of viable hive locations for beekeepers (especially considering how many restrictions they *already* had on usable lots for hive storage) and they fought back in court/the legislature. Right now there is a tenuous detente between the groups - the orchard growers may request beekeepers move their hives, but ultimately the beekeepers are not obligated to move and the growers have the option of netting their trees to prevent pollinators from reaching their crops. Frankly, at this point, find a neighbor with a citrus tree and/or learn to cope with/preferentially buy fruit with the seeds. It's really going to be the best solution for bees and growers - people who are willing to buy fruit with seeds.

Third, standard of identity for honey (I've also briefly touched on this). Florida recently passed a honey identity law which set out criteria for being able to label a product or ingredient as "honey". There is extensive concern about dilution of 100% honey with sugar or corn syrups and still labeling it as 100% pure honey (well, yes, the honey was 100% pure at one point...), or even just as "honey". Many honey imports from other countries arrive already diluted or altered, and can be purchased for significantly lower prices than domestic honey supplies. California was second in line to pass legislation for identification of honey, and the local beekeepers are rather excited about it. The legislation goes a long way to protect the interests of domestic beekeepers AND consumers with regard to knowing what's in any given product. In addition, if the honey is sold with a "grade" (as in Grade A Honey) it is now required that the front label identify which country the honey is from. So, as a consumer, buy honey either (a) from your local beekeeper at a farmer's market, or (b) *graded* honey that is labeled "Product of the United States". Also, beware anything that says "blend" - it doesn't necessarily mean it's a blend of honeys - it's more likely a blend of honey and some other kind of syrup. We're still hoping one day there will be a national standard of identity for honey passed so we can get more help with limiting or at least properly labeling imports.

Fourth, a honey bee commission. The CSBA has initiated proceedings to form a honey bee commission that will levy assessments on commercial beekeepers in the state on a per-hive basis (there will be exemptions for small and non-commercial beekeepers) to fund further research. In order to do such a thing, they now have to write up legislation (including the nitty gritty details of how it will work) and present it to the public on the ballot for approval. This will likely not happen until at least 2011. The advantage of the commission is that the industry folk will determine who runs it, and how much the assessment will be, and who will receive the funds. The money will never hit general state coffers and administrative costs will be lower than in any other form of organization they've researched. Those admin fees are for the state staff who will actually bill beekeepers based on county hive registration numbers and border import bills of lading. Details about how to manage folk whose hives are registered in more than one county, who aren't registered at all, or who are migratory from out of state are still to be determined. If we don't like how our guys are handling it, we pull them out and replace them. Someone in the audience has participated in a similar setup with the apple growers and said it worked great - when folk started getting out of line and power hungry, the industry en masse removed them and got the project back in line with minimal fuss. We hold high hopes for this working well for us. Please, when you see something on the ballot about whether or not to allow a bee commission, vote yes.

If you want to help support any of the legislation described above, and future legislation, you can help the CSBA pay for our lobbyist at the state level, Holly Fraumani. I actually chatted with her for a while and she's doing an amazing job of educating folk in the legislature (who often don't even know where honey comes from or that it can't be man-made) about bees. (I am woefully ignorant of state level politics in comparison to her, of course.) To help fund bee-friendly legislation and lobbying, send your check to the CSBA with "Right to Farm Fund" clearly indicated.

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Date:2009-11-21 19:44
Subject:Bee post the fourth

Jay and I split one of the meads tonight. Crafted from Wisconsin Wildflower Honey and Wisconsin Raspberries, Andy (whoever donated it, I am guessing) crafted it in December 2005, bottled it in October 2007, and then it proceeded to win 1st place at the WI State Fair in May 2008.

I'm not sure I've ever had mead before. It's thick stuff. My first response was "egads, it's cough syrup!" but halfway through my half glass I had adjusted. It's definitely a sipping beverage - I don't know how anyone would chug it. By the time J got halfway through his portion I suggested cutting it might make it easier for him to swallow, and after adding about a half dozen ice cubes, he found it much more palatable.

The remaining bottle is blackberry, but not an award winner.
Kathy got back to me on the cost of the booklets she's selling. The additional author in the booklet is Eric Mussen, the guy from UCDavis. The pricing is
1-19 booklets..............$5.00
20-49 " ".................$4.00
50-99 " ".................$3.75
100-299 " .................$3.50
300+ " .................$3.00

Who wants to give out beekeeping booklets as stocking stuffers? I'll be buying a half dozen or more to pimp the booklets to the orgs I'm contacting.

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Date:2009-11-21 14:15
Subject:Bee post the third

One of the biggest research facilities for bees in the state is the UC Davis Department of Entomology, and especially their Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. Their staff presented several times at the convention.

Eric Mussen (who is the CSBA parliamentarian and leader of the pack from what I can tell over at UCD) started with "A Glimpse at the Future of Beekeeping" starting with slides of members from 30 years ago, getting the nostalgia flowing first thing during the event. He emphasized the issues many of the commercial guys face (like how to retire and insure the survival of one's bees at the same time) and discussed the differences the industry has seen over those 30 years with the introduction of nosema, varroa mites, and more recently, Africanized bees and CCD. He also discussed the issues of honey importation and the potential impacts of CA's recent honey identification legislation that puts requirements on what can be called "honey" and what can't (many things sold as "honey" are often diluted with sugar or corn syrups).

Neal Williams discussed his research on the availability of viable forage for native bees throughout the state, but especially in the central valley. He discussed the possibility of using native pollinators for smaller or better integrated farming operations, and demonstrated where smaller organic grower who frequently intercrop were capable of growing without hiring any pollinator hives at all. He also discussed how to make our main farming acreage more bee friendly so those who do bring in pollinating hives wouldn't have such a hard time keeping them fed before the main almond bloom (the largest and most stressful crop for the commercial beekeeping industry). This, obviously, would tie in beautifully with Kathy's Bee Friendly Farming program. His presentation included absolutely amazing aerial views of the central valley color coded according to (a) hive opportunities (bare soil for most natives or wood for boring varieties), (b) forage strength, and (c) the combined results. I've mentioned his work repeatedly in my discussions with those I've talked to, and keep finding myself thinking about his work in particular.

Sue Cobey is one of the world's best known bee breeders as far as research. She has worked for 20 years trying to come up with a better bee, and in the process brought a lot of attention to the issues of import/export of bees and bee material like germplasm (specifically sperm). While she struggles to get Carniolan sperm from Europe even using research protocols (some of which she's helping develop), beekeepers are importing entire hives of Australian bees to help with the almond pollination. Considering that the Aussies are recently struggling to control an incursion of the Asian bee, and it's attendant mites, this discrepancy is suddenly looking very... illogical. Especially since one of the complaints about commercial beekeeping is that the breeding has resulted in such low genetic diversity. She's hoping her Old World-bred Carniolan strain will be available to the commercial market soon, and they seem to have good indications of being better resistant to several of the bee pests, but the recent article in the American Bee Journal indicates they don't do as well here as they do in colder climes (they are known for their strong overwintering skills).

According to my agenda, Michael Parella, the Department Chair, discussed the effect of Nosema during Almond Pollination but I don't remember him based on his UCDavis profile or my notes. He may have just been introducing Neal Williams (newly joined the department). Regardless, HE is the man to write to if you want to send money directly to any of the research listed above. While the university has a general Honey Bee Research Fund you can contribute to, if you send a check (made out to "UC Regents") with a letter to Parella indicating which staffer's work you want to support, your entire check will find it's way into the appropriate account for *just that researcher*. Handy, no?

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Date:2009-11-21 12:49
Subject:Bee post the second

One of the most exciting things I heard at the convention this week was during the very first day, during the very first presentation session. During the report of the committees on their activities during the year, one of the committee chairs invited Kathy Kellison up to talk about the Partners for Sustainable Pollination program. Their goal is collaboration between farmers, beekeepers, and consumers to strengthen and protect honeybee populations. One of the ways they're doing that is the newly launched Bee Friendly Farming project. The $25 annual certification is available to beekeepers, farmers, schools, businesses, public gardens, etc. It provides publicly recognizable confirmation that their practices are bee-friendly and the funds raised by the annual certification go into a fund that issues cost-share grants to growers putting in additional bee forage throughout the state, so being a member might make you eligible to receive funding for putting in additional bee-friendly landscaping. I'll be writing letters to all of the major public gardens I can think of (Huntington, Descanso, LADWP's Japanese garden, the Getty, the Arboretum, Theodore Payne and their members, UCLA's Japanese garden, etc.) to try and pimp the project.

Additionally, anyone can donate to them just to help their education and legislative efforts. PFSP corresponds with legislators and testifies about various proposed legislation on a regular basis to help encourage creation and preservation of year round forage pasture for bees nationwide.

Lastly, their organization recently printed up a booklet including John Muir's chapter about bees in the California mountains, with some additional writings as well. She was selling them at the conference for $5/ea but I didn't manage to snag one. I don't find anything about them on the website, so I need to email her and ask about them - are they willing to ship or just handing them out at events? I might include copies to the letters I send to the major local garden centers and see if they'd be willing to buy them for resale in their gift shops.

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Date:2009-11-20 16:31
Subject:Bee post the first

The main form of fund raising at the convention was auctions. We had no fewer than three, plus a raffle. One of the objects up for bid at the first auction was a collection of old copies of the American Bee Journal. Having received the first of my own subscription mere days ago, I had recently Googled ABJ to find out if they were available online. The current issues are not, but I found the earliest ones archived at Cornell. So, for your antiquing pleasure, 40 years worth of online browsing fodder:

This post also marks me having completed the first of my action items: email Gene Brandi and Karl Walker (of Los Angeles Honey Company lineage) with this link. I need to get Eva and Lynn the link as well, but I haven't their emails... yet. I should have EVERYTHING after our December dinner/meeting on the 7th...

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Date:2009-09-29 10:53
Subject:Free Disneyness

Disney is partnering with and Points of Light Network to get folks to volunteer their time in 2010 in exchange for a free ticket to the park.

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Date:2009-09-15 15:43
Subject:free credit score!

Everyone I know has heard about the, but they charge $35 or so to get the actual score.

Well, gives it to you for free. Their breakdown of how that number is reached, and how it can be affected is *fascinating*.

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Date:2009-09-15 00:27

And I thought LJ was quiet when my RSS feeds/syndicated accounts were still updating...

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Date:2009-08-16 20:31
Subject:Responsibility, accountability, and American culture

I just finished reading "Life Without Lawyers". I saw a recommendation for it in the comments over at Free Range Kids about a week ago. It was a fascinating exploration of how the explosion of "personal rights" legislation has adversely affected a variety of aspects of our culture, from children's playgrounds and classrooms to hospitals and Washington DC. Essentially, the "can't make a decision because I'm so hemmed in by what might create a liability" effect results in total inaction (CA and federal legislature, anyone?) or stupid choices (let's keep kids safe by keeping them inside...where they become obese).

Suggestions on improving the situation are, as has so often in other places been suggested, essentially grassroots revolution. I quail every time I see such a suggestion because I inherently doubt the required critical mass of popular support for this kind of reform. Why will folk vote for the Common Good when our legal structure right now supports "me, me, me" culture? It makes me feel so... *powerless*, at least as powerless as the current system does. Le sigh.

But, if anyone is interested (and I know my FL is the kind of folk who are likely to be) he is working on effecting change, giving people back their ability to take responsibility for decisions in their lives (and classrooms and jobs and community) over at Common Good. I am still working up the courage to delve into the site.

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Date:2009-08-14 09:32
Subject:wow... a form of performance art I've never seen the likes of

Real time sand art/drawing, with some of the fastest form/line composition I've ever seen. It's amazing.

Here, she recounts Germany conquering Ukraine in the second world war.

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Date:2009-07-15 19:07
Subject:Dear Weather:

Please stop being so icky. The warm I am learning to live with, but the muggy is just unbecoming of you.


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Date:2009-06-05 14:58
Subject:Angelenos - more Bloom

Still haven't seen The Brother's Bloom? Rian will be doing more Q&A sessions with showings this weekend.

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Date:2009-05-29 09:55
Subject:The Brothers Bloom

Plot-spoiler free, but if you only want to know what's in the trailers, feel free to skip everything except: "WOW"

Read more...Collapse )

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Date:2009-05-28 07:44
Subject:thought for the day

There is a difference between conversational skills and communication skills. The former is a thin cover when one lacks the latter.

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Date:2009-05-21 14:26
Subject:Bay Area Folks

The Brothers Bloom is releasing tomorrow (Fri, 5/22) in San Francisco. My friend from high school, Rian Johnson, the director, will be at some of the showings for a Q&A . His previous work includes "Brick" with Joseph Gordon-Levitt (and a shitload of book reports that we actually enjoyed viewing). Bonus? This film has Ricky Jay (of the 52 assistants) cast as narrator. Already playing here in LA. Opens in wide release 5/29.

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Date:2009-04-24 10:47
Subject:PSA - Angelinos with lawns

As of 4/21/09, the City has passed a temporary restriction regarding watering lawns. The new restrictions go into effect June 1, 2009. As of that time, watering lawns with automatic sprinklers is restricted to Mondays and Thursdays before 9am and after 4pm. New water pricing structures will also go into effect at that time encouraging a 15% reduction in usage.

Additional details of the plan can be found in the recent LA Times article, and details about the new pricing structure can be found at the LADWP.

Yay for me not having watered my lawn in 6 months?

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Date:2009-04-17 14:53
Subject:My favorite compliments

Don't worry - I won't constantly re-date this one to brag about the cool things people say about me, but whenever I feel I need a lift, I want the links to meaningful compliments close at hand to remind me of how people think of me and feel about me. If you're not here and feel you should be, don't stress - I stuck to the most meaningful recent things I could remember, and will update future compliments as they roll in. I am still researching links to older compliments as they come to mind.

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Date:2009-03-23 15:15
Subject:LA Times article

The write up in the LA Times about the new walking tour, including an interview with Pastor Paiva.,0,4714982.story

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Date:2009-03-22 20:49
Subject:Angelica - LA Conservancy Walking Tour

Angelica has been included in the new Pico-Union self-guided walking tour published by the Los Angeles Conservancy. They included a lovely picture of the front of the church and a paragraph about our history in the neighborhood.

Should you like to join us on site for a major historic preservation event including the local HPOZ group, there will be a big To Do on Saturday, May 30th, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

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Date:2009-03-14 09:43
Subject:ping AutoCAD peeps

How do I tell AutoCAD 2008 to print from model space in monochrome/B&W?

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Date:2009-02-23 21:54
Subject:movie trivia

Why is Morgan Freeman not credited for 2010: The Year we Make Contact?! Even Candice Bergen disclosed herself via IMDB, but Freeman isn't associated in any way I can find online, other than references to his desire to produce Rama.

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