Word just in… the California budget crisis has caused Arnold and the legislators to put California State Parks funding on the chopping block!! This is a disaster on many fronts! If you are a California resident, take action at: http://www.calparks.org
Here is my modified-from-template letter to California legislators:
As a strong supporter of our state park system, I am writing to express outrage to the Governor’s proposal to eliminate core funding for our state park system that will close virtually all parks.
Today is the New Year in Chinese’s lunar calendar. Here is the link on Wikipedia if you want to know more about it. In general, Chinese tradition has lots of superstition that’s now ingrained as “culture”. As a Buddhist, my understanding is that while customs are OK, superstitions are not to be followed because it can lead to dependency on false gods (which are beings with supernatural powers but are fallible just like the rest of us). So what does it mean? Observance and participation in harmless culture events are OK (and could be good?), but believing in such events to bring fortune is futile… it’s best to continue practice the perfection of the mind and attaining the Buddha nature.
Anyway…. Here is a note I intended to post back in December, but I forgot after I sent out some cards. So, if you didn’t get one, don’t feel bad because you are helping to save the environment!
Gosh, 2008 was a busy year full of external events. National news aside, as I am sure I don’t have to repeat those… It started 14 months ago (OK, that was last year, but close enough) with the passing of a good friend from Arizona, which I found out on Facebook. The year continues with passing of both my grandma and grandpa on my mom’s side, another friend from high school, a current co-worker, and a past co-worker. That’s 3 older and 3 younger than I am. It makes me appreciate people who are still in my life and the health that I have right now. On the other side of the story, my dad side’s grandpa celebrated 100, which garnered national attention in Taiwan (will be on my blog). Lastly, I attended 3 of close friend’s and a cousin’s (total of 4) wedding.
Continuing the theme from last year, it was again a year of numerous travels. For work, I visited Minneapolis, Atlanta, Boston, and Charlotte (NC). For fun/personal, I did a camping trip out to Safford, AZ; went back to Hawaii for another family vacation; trips to Dallas and San Antonio, TX for 2 weddings; 3 trips to Taiwan – one for my cousin’s wedding, one for my grandma/pa’s passing, one for my grandpa’s birthday party, which also lead to a week in Malaysia visiting Pei’s family (I’ll post later in my blog). I lost count of how many times I went to Tucson… It’s like my 2nd home now.
On the home front, I started a “new” job about 14 months ago. It’s actually with a product that I worked with for 5 years, but now under new ownership. The great thing is that I can easily bicycle to work because it’s only 1.5 miles from Westwood where I live once again. I am very grateful that the company is doing well, especially in this economic environment. I also am fully back involved with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) as the board treasurer and bicycle educator, which lead to my brief TV appearance on a local Channel 5 news (see this entry). ASIDE: LACBC is in dire need of additional funds to continue to employee one of our best advocates… see this page for how you can help. Back to the main story… I also started growing some veggies in an effort to be more (not entirely, not even close) self reliant, water efficient, and healthy. To further the cause, I also started a worm compost, which is going slowly, but I now considers them the pets I rarely see.
On the sporty side, this had been lacking quite a bit. Yeah, I did 2 sprint triathlons – Iron Bruin in March and Sahuarita in May, but nothing else. I still have not gotten myself a “real” road bike to train and race on. [Edit: I now have a KHS Flite 320 – a starter tri bike]. However, I did rejoin Bruin Masters Swimming, which I have been going sporadically but at least my swimming ability is slowly getting back on track. Other than that, I don’t bike a whole lot, nor do I go to the gym much. Next year, I plan to sign up for more tri’s – maybe a half iron distance, to help motivate myself to train.
The biggest news of all, and I am sure many of you are waiting for it, is that Pei and I are engaged. We’ll be getting married in court early next year so we can start working on her residence status. We are planning to have a wedding reception in Taiwan and Malaysia sometime late November and/or early December. As for one in the US, well we are not sure yet. We’ll be sure to keep you posted. Other than the wedding plans, Pei plans to be graduating in August with a PhD in Chemistry. Hopefully, she’ll be able to move to LA for either a post-doc or industry job in her field. So we will greatly appreciate any connections or referrals in this area!
For the year of Ox, I hope you will have the opportunity to count your blessings and express love to people dear in your hearts. May 2009 brings you good fortunes, happiness, and enlightenment!
If you didn’t follow the entire story of the recent peanut butter product recall… There are a LOT of products affected, including several Trader Joe’s, Clif, Natural Valley, and even Whole Foods items.
Check out the authoratative list at:
And thanks to my buddy Moe for pointing this out. Yes, I was hiding under a rock.
As many of you already know, I was elected onto the Board of Directors for Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC). In addition, I became the board treasurer. We accomplished a lot this past year, but we need more funding to continue the momentum we built in the past year. Here is what we have done this year, where we are going next year, and how you can help!
2008 was a breakthrough year for cyclists.
It took an economic meltdown – helped by the unpredictable fall and rise in the price of gasoline – to convince Angelenos what LACBC has known for years. Bicycling is one of the best individual things we can do to improve our quality of life.
In the last year a 25 % increase of cyclists has been reported in Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles County, LACBC has led the way. We have put pressure on city officials to start prioritizing bicycle infrastructure and education and are starting to see positive results: Sharrows should be implemented in the upcoming year and the LA Department of Transportation will install 38 miles of bikeways. LACBC is in constant dialogue with councilmembers and the LADOT to ensure that they meet the needs of cyclists.
Los Angeles is on the cusp – we are at the very moment where we have the power to transform our streets to accommodate bicycles. But, without support and good advocates, this moment will be lost. That’s why we are asking for your financial help.
Here’s a sample of what we’ve accomplished in 2008 and where we are headed in 2009:
- Initiated Sharrows project in LA and is now overseeing it’s implementation
- Launched our 3-year Safe and Healthy Streets program with the City of Glendale.
- Urged the Governor and state legislature to adopt the Complete Streets Act.
- Ensured that Ballona Creek Bike Path stays accessible to cyclists.
- Advocate and ensure that Sharrows be widely implemented
- Press for implementation of LA’s new Bicycle Master Plan
- Develop car-free corridors and events, similar to Bogota’s Ciclovia
- Create City of Lights Program, to educate low-income cyclists to safely bicycle
There are multiple ways you can help, including: purchasing LACBC branded products, buying on Amazon through LACBC’s link, your membership to the organization, shopping at Ralph’s with a registered Ralph’s card, buying some Newhall gourmet coffee, or a special year-end donation. Check out the details here. Your contribution goes directly towards issues that LACBC is fighting for on a daily basis. Let’s make 2009 a pivotal year for change in Los Angeles!
Worms have arrived!! They are now my new pets! As I mentioned before, one of the project I wanted to work on was Worm Composting. I finished creating a small (3 gallon) worm condo as specified in The Urban Homestead last week. It was a fun and simple project. The hardest part was acquiring the parts (plastic opaque containers, which was actually harder to find because most are now clear) and getting the necessary tool (a drill and drill bits). I ordered 100 red worms from a local retailer http://www.wormpoop.com/, but for whatever reason
it took them quite a while before they processed the order.
Anyway, I promptly made a veggie dish so I would have veggie scraps to feed to them. Now I hope they are happy in their new home and fresh food. I have to say, I am nervous that I’ll have smell and fruit fly problem, but it’s so rewarding to be able to recycle 90% or more of my trash (LA City
now has a very nice recycling program, which helps a lot).
On another note, I have started to harvest some chili. I have also bought and planted some bok choy, kale, and mint. My later projects will hopefully include cherry tomatoes and eggplants. Yeah, I know, it’s the wrong season, but this is Southern California… it never really gets that cold.
Most of you know that I live in a 2-BR place with a small balcony. I have always liked growing some plants, especially edible ones on the balcony… it’s just so rewarding to be able to just stroll out and pick out the freshest plant to eat. So when a friend of mine published “The Urban Homestead“, it really opened me to a whole new set of possibilities. I have not really started on any of the projects in there yet, but I had already started growing:
- Basil (from seed) now I have wayyyyy too much for myself, so if you want to grow some too, let me know
- Green Onion – I just take store bought ones, cut and used them, then planted the root. They grow really easily
- Garlic - They are supposed to be easy to grow, but apparently I planted them too early for them to bulb, so I’ll have to settle for stalks, which does tastes like garlic, but very mild.
- Rosemary - I just started this from cutling… they are a bit hard to start this way, but it’s cheap
- Lavender - I just bought a plant, so we’ll see how this goes.
- Pepper - Another new plant I bought at farmer’s market. I don’t exactly know what type, but it’s supposed to be about an inch in size.
Plants on my list to try growing:
- Some kind of lettuce in self watering container – I am really excited about this… as soon as I can make (or get) one.
- Yam leaves – I used to grow this. They are tender once cooked, but takes a bit of space to grow because you need a lot to make a small dish (they shrink significantly like spinach). I just have to get some cutling somewhere… I haven’t seen them in farmer’s market recently.
- Worm (compost) bin – OK, this is not a plant nor something to eat (yak), but it’s supposed to be very good for the plants. Sounds rewarding to me to be able to turn my food waste into food for the plants!
In a related story, can you believe that a city would want to shut down some little girl’s small fruit/vegetable stand in front of their house? It’s just like a lemonade/bake-sale stand, but healthier! So what’s wrong? I would totally buy from them! Sigh.
Watch the video story…