Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Qualities of a Governor - Schwarzenegger vs Sanford

When it comes to duties of office, is Arnold Schwarzenegger a better governor than Mark Sanford?

When the Governor Sanford affair popped up recently, I took a contrary point of view to someone's Facebook remarks. My comment:
Well, I don't know. Are you looking at your politicians for moral guidance? I'm certainly not. For a pastor, a priest or teachers, yes. From my elected officials, I expect them to perform the functions of their offices - maintain necessary services, insure that revenues balance expenditures over the long run. Do you require that your local postal clerk or grocer have an impeccable family background, do you even care? Certainly there is a lot of pain going on in that family. Why pile it on? I should add that my primary expectations are competence and honesty.
The original poster responded that their expectation was integrity. I agree. An excellent word - I would have used it initially if I'd thought of it. I would qualify it to mean integrity in the execution of their office. I know it seems incongruous to for an individual to have integrity in their public life, while seemingly lacking it in their private life, but by definition we don't have all the facts when it comes to private life. Now that more facts have come to light on Mark Sanford, I probably would not give him the benefit of doubt that I did initially, but it did get me thinking.

My thoughts ran to public integrity and the responsibility of office. The current California budget crisis has kept my thoughts on politics a lot more than usual. I refined my view of a politician's responsibility. Foremost is that integrity in public office means acting in the best interests of ones constituents. If push comes to shove, a politician of integrity should be prepared to vote in the interests of his constituents even if this means loss of the next election. This generally doesn't conflict with honesty, but it can conflict with loyalty, an absolute requirement for private integrity i.e. in marriage.

In California we have Arnold Schwarzenegger, who I believe to be a man of honesty and integrity, in a situation where he feels he is bound by duty to honor his election campaign pledge of no new taxes. In my view this loyalty to his election pledge is a failure to act in the best interests of his constituents and a lack of the integrity I expect from a public official.

The same thoughts also apply to the Republicans of the state legislature, though I don't have personal knowledge of any of them, so haven't formed an opinion as to their honesty or integrity. I do see the same pledge of no new taxes harming the best interests of their constituents. The children of the state, the poorest of the poor, the State Park system, fish and game wardens all face crippling damage from budget cuts that are insignificant to fixing the budget problem, and easily fixed by relatively small tax measures. An aside, we've been getting some unattributed taking of blog content so inserting © 2009 backpack45.com

Friday, June 26, 2009

Trail Maintenance on Sibley to Tilden Trail - Environmental Impact?

Sibley to Tilden East Bay Regional Park trail by backpack45
Sibley to Tilden East Bay Regional Park trail by backpack45
Back on the EBRPD Sibley to Tilden Park trail after a couple of weeks of absence, and noticed that they have done their annual trail maintenance. A twelve foot wide swath cleared and about six feet of it scraped with a small tractor down to Old Tunnel Road. Bikes are allowed on that section. After that it is about six to eight feet cleared, and not total scraping. After Fish Ranch Road, EBMUD has also done their annual mowing of a big grassy field that the trail skirts along. Still, this entire trail is still one of the most pristine available in the East Bay.

My question - thought is about the effect on the seasonal creek that runs along quite close to the trail for the first mile or so. The creek still has a trickle now, and later in the summer you will notice that it flows in early morning after heavy fog, but is dry in the afternoon. The plowing of the trail pushes berms of dirt right up close to the waterway. Never into it, but a heavy rain would carry a lot of dirt right into the stream. That stream is a scarce resource, needed by salamanders at least in the fall, and by mountain lions, coyotes, foxes, etc. year round.
Sibley to Tilden East Bay Regional Park trail by backpack45
The timing of the maintenance is good, heavy rains are over for months, and the light puddling of water from the fog will serve to harden the bermed soil and make it less likely to mess up the creek. I would just like a little more care with that tractor when close to the water. I wonder if this maintenance is going on with potential water impact in mind? An aside, we've been getting some unattributed taking of blog content so inserting © 2009 backpack45.com
Sibley to Tilden East Bay Regional Park trail by backpack45
Even with the temporarily maimed trail, its a good walk, new flowers showing up, old ones going to seed, and the usual piles of scat. The last photo is yesterday's scat - fox, raccoon? Anyone know? Sibley to Tilden East Bay Regional Park trail scat by backpack45

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Our hiking trips result in a huge number of digital photos - how we manage them on Windows

Our workflow on Windows XP:
  1. Capture the card data into a folder called PhotoStaging (our computer has slots built in for the various memory cards). We put the card in the slot and get a choice of programs Canon for the Canon camera card and Nikon for the Nikon camera card.

  2. Rename every image so it starts with date - time - for example: 2007-03-07_11-19-07_1222_SD700 IS.JPG

  3. This is easier than it sounds. There is a powerful free utility called The Rename that does it once I select all the images. It pulls the date, time, camera model out of the info stored in the image. More on TheRename later.

  4. I have a master folder called Photos. In there are subfolders by subject, such as birds, mammals, East Bay Regional Parks, etc. Some of these have further subfolders. Once the images have been renamed, I either move or copy them into the appropriate folder. Sometimes they go into more than one folder. These are the original fullsized images.

  5. I do another step you may or may not want to do. I have a master folder called PhotosWebSized. The originals are too big for web use or for fast digital projection. I use Photoshop batch processing to automatically resize all the staged images to 1024 by 768, which matches most digital projectors and is suitable for web posting. Depending on the number of images, I either resize into a PhotoStagingWebSized folder, or directly into the appropriate folder in PhotosWebSized. So, all the photos end up in at least two locations.

  6. This does require a lot of storage. I have two external 500G hard drives. One has all my data, not just images, and the other is a backup.
Now, about the The Rename utility. The original site is in French. You can get it from various places such as cnet . There is no support or forum, but it comes with a tutorial in English that has useful examples. It can do a lot more folder manipulation, but it is so powerful that it makes me nervous, so I just use it for this one purpose.

Some hints on its use:

  1. When you open it you get a window. Go to the top right, select naming rules tab and where it says Prefix and change Modify prefix to free form.

  2. In the box below Prefix, enter

  3. That is what I use. ExifModel gives me camera name plus model.

  4. Now go to the Folder tab and find the folder with the files to be renamed. Your image files will pop up in the left window.

    Select 1 or a block of them, and click the preview icon at the top(that little white square under the Disk option). If you like what you see, click rename.

    In my case it says Canon Powershot, which I don't want, so I go to Edit-replace at the top of the window and change it to a _. This applies to all future renames unless I change it again.

  5. Now I select the entire range of files, preview again, and then click rename

  6. I'm done so I go to file on top left and exit. Do Not just x out The Rename. That will leave a rename process running. This utility has a lot more capabilities, but it would be easy to get yourself into trouble if you do it wrong, so I only use it for this limited purpose. An aside, we've been getting some unattributed taking of blog content so inserting © 2009 backpack45.com

  7. I almost forgot the way you get to Help. Not from a button at the top of the screen. Select All Programs from your Windows Start, go to The Rename, and one of your choices will be the Help file, which is an html file.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gaming the WeightWatcher System or How to Justify that Goodie

We're trying to start this year's backpacking season with less weight before we put the backpack on. The training regime is not doing it fast enough, so we have resorted to WeightWatchers. If you are not familiar with it, this system gives you points for various kinds of food, and you are limited to a certain number of points per day.

The point calculation is a little complex, as the amount of fiber and fat grams in the food make a difference in the number of points. They even go so far as giving you a little sliding calculator, where the fiber grams in a serving reduce the total points, and the number of fat grams increase the points.

I'm watching Susan as she is, after the fact, sliding the calculator and reading the horrifying values for the PopTart that we had used for a mid day snack on the morning's hike. My inspiration was, "what if it had more fiber, would the points be less?". That turns out to be true. Each gram of fiber up to 4 grams reduces the calorie count by 10 with a corresponding effect on the points. Slightly over 1/4 cup of wheat bran contains 4 grams of fiber. You can guess the rest.

Chocolate pudding - add bran, stir, drop calorie count by 40, etc, etc, etc. PopTarts are a little more difficult. I suppose you could mash them up and add bran, but maybe a bran chaser would also work. An aside, we've been getting some unattributed taking of blog content so inserting © 2009 backpack45.com

I send this idea out free to all you starving WeightWatchers.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Off Topic - Romeo and Juliet - Are Men More Romantic Than Women?

We just saw our local production of this play, and while the message re violence still seemed quite relevant, I could not fall into the audience's role and accept Romeo's dialog. Juliet's seemed more realistic.

I do remember being in the state of mind where I could think of nothing but the woman I loved, and could not wait to see her again, but in the times away, I certainly did not become a babbling idiot, and neither did any of my young male contemporaries.

Still, as Susan points out, there were a lot of truly nauseating love songs written when we were young, and men wrote most of those. Another thing going on was the telephone, so we were apart, but in contact, sometimes for hours at a time. In Shakespeare's time apart was really apart, so maybe they were driven to such odious actions as speaking in verse, but I think alcohol and intense activity would be more likely forms of release.

My thought is that the pedestal is the root of the poetry and the change. In the class structure of Shakespeare, women were objects, and when of the proper class, placed on a very high pedestal, only to be addressed in a certain manner, which did allow for babbling idiots writing in verse. In my time in the 50's, women were still objects to some extent (admirable objects), and on a pedestal, though not as tall a one as in the past. There was the telephone allowing day to day contact, so proclaiming in poetry was almost gone, lingering remnants in the popular songs of the day.

Pat Boone's Why Baby Why lyrics
Why baby why don't you treat me (why, baby, why)
Like you used to do (why, baby, why)
Why, baby, baby don't you need me (why, baby, why)
Like I'm needin' you
If you need love and affection (why, baby, why)
Come to my lovin' arms (why, baby, why)
I'll be your shield and protection (why, baby, why)
I won't do ya no harm

There will be no trouble and strife
I'll be your slave the rest of my life
I offer you my heart and soul
Wrapped up in a bag of gold

Why, baby, why do you tease me (why, baby, why)
Won't you please be fair (why, baby, why)
Why, baby, why won't you please me (why, baby, why)
When ya know you care

From the sixties on the pedestal has been gone, with the great benefit that men and women can communicate as human beings, without unreal expectations.

I do, in my gut feel that men are more romantic than women due to purely Darwinian causes. Physical vulnerability requires more thinking to have one's genes survive, than does just planting them in many places. Romantic polemic might improve the success rate. As to why you no longer see it? Well, rap may be chauvinistic and sexist, but it is poetry.
When the police come yo she ready for whatever
Never talk to the cops cus she got her mind together
A down to earth mother earth living at the speed of life
she don't need a ring to be my wife
a truly independent woman, not a destiny's child
not depending on money or fashion to have style
she got nuff style - rough style - diamond in the ruff
not a dimepiece in the back, she a diamond in the front
... seat by my side ready to ride

An aside, we've been getting some unattributed taking of blog content so inserting © 2009 backpack45.com

Off Topic - squirrel proof bird feeder

I get enough comments-questions about this so that I thought I'd post it. Now I can just say look at my blog entry. I had a 10 foot length of 1/2 inch copper pipe left over from a plumbing project. I drove a piece of rebar into the ground at an angle and put the base of the pipe over it. The pipe also gets support higher up from part of the gate. The bottles are a two liter soda bottle (which we use in backpacking - carried 6 in the desert), and a one liter bottle. A faucet washer stops them from sliding further down the pipe. I did have to make a hole in the bottom of each bottle.

The squirrel can run up the pole, but as soon as he steps on a bottle, they swivel around and dump him off. Sometimes he will get on the top of the fence, and divebomb the feeder, but usually he can't hang on and doesn't like the fall, so doesn't do it often. An aside, we've been getting some unattributed taking of blog content so inserting © 2009 backpack45.com

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Jennifer Griswold Trail aka King Canyon Loop Trail

I never knew Jennifer Griswold, or her hiking group, but we were of the same age vintage, so I feel a certain kinship. The bench dedicated to her has one of the most beautiful settings I have ever seen for a memorial bench.

We've had to defer hiking for a week or so while I did some urgent fence repair, and Susan did some knee healing, but today we were off again. Years ago we had hiked a loop along the San Pablo Reservoir out of the Valle Vista staging area, off Canyon Road near Moraga. My recollection was that it was about three miles, so we took off. The EBMUD trail title is King Canyon Loop. Mostly dirt road walking, but very pleasant, oaks shading you most of the way. We went counter clockwise. About lunch time we spotted a bench, at almost the southern most point of the trail, so we stopped.

I had taken the gps along for entertainment, and at that point checked the trip mileage. 3.5 miles, and not quite half way. I was in a little bit of trouble. I'd said 3 miles so we don't need to bring a lunch. I had stuck in a "hiker sandwich" i.e. emergency PopTart, so we each got half of that.

On the way back, you continue on the dirt road till it goes thru a gate. At that point there is a left onto a trail. This is where you would depart to Las Trampas via the Rocky Ridge Trail, as we did a few weeks later. Followed the King Canyon loop along, working our way thru the oaks, stopped to try and get some photos of a flock of turkeys & chicklets? what are baby turkeys called? Finally hit another dirt road at right angles, going steeply up the hill to our left. View of a half dozen McMansions off to the right. There is an EBMUD trail marker with just an arrow pointing up the road. A ways after that is where we had a slight problem. A newly graded road went of to the right while the original one went straight up the hill. No signs, but the map we had showed a trail cutoff in about that location. Short version is that it dead ended in about a quarter mile, so we had a little backtrack. An aside, we've been getting some unattributed taking of blog content so inserting © 2009 backpack45.com

By the time we got back to the car, the gps said 7.8 miles including our detour. This is a good trail if you like filtered shade, and easy grades. We only saw a couple of other hikers, and startled one horse and rider as we met coming around a corner.

The trip map:
Valle Vista - King Canyon Loop at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: GPS Community

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Deleting Off Topic Post spurred On Topic Thought

I on a whim, put up an off topic post on Jean Quan, our very competent city councilwoman. That provoked a responding comment from someone who clearly didn't share my opinion, laced with conflict laden words. I have no interest in pissing contests, so I rejected the comment, and then on further thought deleted the entire post.

My thought though, is that this is one more example of those things that make no sense at all. The people I meet while out hiking are a significant reason that I enjoy hiking. There is a shared purpose that crosses age and gender boundaries. We enthusiastically share route and gear tips, and tales of the trail.

Back home, when I encounter the same people on the online forums, some calming influence is missing. I see rants about guns, about bear canisters, about authority, etc. You know what I mean. There is a significant minority of people that are unwilling to put their minds to problem solving, to constructive agreement. That minority makes so much noise it is hard for others to be heard.

In this instance, we have a politician who is a problem solver, a hard worker, and capable of innovative thinking - the kind we need a lot more of. In this city, as well as state and federal levels of government, we have severe financial problems. We need to recognize and keep the legislators who have a will to see and deal with the problems. Even when we disagree with them, we need to present factual information they need to improve their judgement.

It makes no sense at all to talk without listening, to close your mind to the facts.

This has been a little rant of my own, but I at least have a solution. Legislators must walk the length of California. Every five to seven days, they can have a zero day in a trail town, and during that day they can discuss or enact legislation. It is ok if they discuss it on the trail. After they finish the trail, they get another six weeks to continue legislation. All that should take about three or four months. The remainder of the year they can refine decisions made on the trail. The whole thing repeats every year. It is important that they don't start any new legislation after the trail effect wears off. An aside, we've been getting some unattributed taking of blog content so inserting © 2009 backpack45.com