Saturday, March 30, 2013

Why I Write for Young People

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, letters like this one from Megan in North Carolina, are why I write.

Megan is 13 and in the 8th grade. When I was 13, I was failing English--again. This young lady wants to be writer. I'd say she is a writer.

Thank you, Megan. Your letter inspired me to keep working. Now, if I could only write as well as you do.

Dear Ginny,

    My former best friend (who has abandoned me for a life of heavy eyeliner and break-up songs) and I were scoping through our Scholastic Bookfair a while back (when we were still in good terms). There were little to no horse books there due to the fact we were in middle school and most girls had grown out of that stereotypical pony-loving stage. But not us. While searching for that gem in the rough, we simultaneously spotted your novel, The Outside of a Horse, and bought a copy.
    Kali, my old friend, hated reading. She hated literature, she hated poetry, and to my dismay, she pretty much hated any form of art. But your book- it was different.  Though we were in the 6th grade and she was yet to finish a novel in her life, she actually finished reading before me, which was extremely odd because I was the one with the renowned reading habits. After we had both finished the book, we read it again, talked about it, read it again, cover to cover until we could both recite every chapter. I tried to provide her with similar reading, but nothing stuck as well as your book. You moved not only her, but me as well. For a reason unrelated to your book, we are no longer friends, but every time I want to merrily recollect on how she used to be, I pick up your book and I read.
    Now I am 13 and in the 8th grade. For years I have stifled my love of writing out of doubt; saying you want to be a writer when you grow up is an unanchored ambition. I still am wary of my ability to support myself financially with my writing, but was recently encouraged by one of my teachers. Do you have any advice for an aspiring writer? I know it is hard to recall effort after being relinquished from its hardships, but any word from you would mean a lot to me.

Thank you for everything you have done,


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Peek beneath the Pollution: What's down there?

You did it. Michelle Stauffer's and Justin Lewis' A Documentary About Plastic Pollution in the Atlantic Ocean raised the necessary funds through Kickstarter. It then seemed like a week of thinking and learning about our oceans. Here are some treats.

David Gallo on life in Deep Oceans

Quote from this TED talk: "What we see when we look back in time, in the rocks and sediments, is a record of earth history. Everything on this planet, everything, works by cycles and rhythms. The continents move apart and come back together, oceans come and go, mountains come and go, glaciers come and go, El Nino comes and goes, it's not a disaster, it's rhythmic. It's almost like a symphony, it's just like music. . .and what we are learning now is that you can't listen to a 5 billion-year long symphony, get to today, and say stop, we want tomorrow's note to be the same as it was today. It's absurd, just absurd. What we've got to learn now is where this planet is going and work with it . . ."

Edith Widder: How we found the giant squid

Teachers, there is some adult language in this one.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


A friend sent this video. I'd never heard of Skidboot, but the video made me laugh and cry. It's pretty old, but if you love dogs, and/or big slow-talkin Texans, here's one that will warm your cockles.

Justin and Michele only need $1200 more
and there are 49 hours left. When I smoked, I used to empty my car ashtray in store parking lots. I'm a backer, because I owe it the planet.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Monarchs and Monsanto UPDATE

Last year I did a post in support of California's Prop 37 which would have required labeling of foods containing GMOs. We know how that turned out. Monsanto spent millions to defeat it and they were successful. Sort of. There is good news and bad news. Which would you prefer to read first? Take your pick.

[T]he decline is due in great part to the widespread use of the herbicide glyphosate. In key U.S. states where the butterfly feeds and breeds — Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, parts of Ohio and the eastern Dakotas — farmers have planted more than 120 million acres of corn and soybeans genetically modified to resist the herbicide… That allows them to use glyphosate to kill milkweed, the monarchs' essential food. [Los Angeles Times]

Whole Foods is doing what Monsanto spent millions to prevent from happening in California.
Despite the ubiquity of GMO foods, consumers intent on avoiding them may have good reason to do so: Pesticides that GMOs are bred to resist have been linked to a handful of health problems, including food allergies, developmental disorders, and even some cancers. The products have also been linked to environmental concerns, including increased mortality rates among monarch butterflies and other insects. Prevention News. Read more:

This is last year's post, & includes the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly. Because of Whole Foods, all is not lost. We can pressure our favorites grocery chains to follow their lead, and if you have a Whole Foods near you, show your gratitude.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Whale Festival Dates: I'm a big help! IT"S THIS WEEKEND

Whale Festival this coming week end at Point Cabrillo.
March 16 & 17
10 - 4

Lens Tours

picture by Mike Owyang

picture by Mike Owyang
Watch for this very uniquely colored gopher

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Just How Unique Are We? Part V

The House-Building Skill of an Octopus

"Okay, Frank Lloyd Wright's "Falling Water" it is not, but a home built by an octopus has the advantage of being mobile. The veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) can make mobile shelters out of coconut shells. When the animal wants to move, all it has to do is stack the shells like bowls, grasp them with stiff legs, and waddle away along the ocean floor to a new location." From

Great article about a guy and his octopus

Octopus love: G-Rated

Scuba Diver & dead octopuses

An interesting way to show how those of us who live along the coast may end up looking for a coconut shell home.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Violence Against Women

Marco Rubio

I'm stepping outside my main mission--raising awareness of animal issues--to remind us that abuse of animals, children, the elderly, or anything or anyone without a political voice, reflects on our humanity.


Twenty-two senators voted against the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, including Rubio, the Republicans' golden boy. First, we should ask ourselves, what about protecting women, and others, needs re-authorization? Secondly, is to remember every one of these senators in 2014, and the 27 house Republicans.


John Barrasso (Wyo.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), John Boozman (Ark.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Cornyn (Texas), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Orrin Hatch (Utah), James Inhofe (Okla.), Mike Johanns (Neb.), Ron Johnson (Wisc.), Mike Lee (Utah), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Jim Risch (Idaho), Pat Roberts (Kansas), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), John Thune (S.D.) and Tim Scott (S.C.).


Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) each attempted to tack amendments on to the Act that would annul the protections for undocumented immigrants, Native Americans and LGBTs. Each were voted down.

Violence Against Women Act

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The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) is a United States federal law (Title IV, sec. 40001-40703 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, H.R. 3355) signed as Pub.L. 103–322 by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994. The Act provides $1.6 billion toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposes automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allows civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted. The Act also establishes the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice. Male victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking may also be covered.[1]

VAWA was drafted by the office of Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), with support from a broad coalition of advocacy groups. The Act passed through Congress with bipartisan support in 1994, clearing the House by a vote of 235–195 and the Senate by a vote of 61–38, although the following year House Republicans attempted to cut the Act's funding.[2] In the 2000 Supreme Court case United States v. Morrison, a sharply divided Court struck down the VAWA provision allowing women the right to sue their attackers in federal court. By a 5–4 majority, the Court overturned the provision as an intrusion on states' rights.[3][4]
VAWA was reauthorized by Congress in 2000, and again in December 2005.[5] The Act's 2012 renewal was opposed by conservative Republicans, who objected to extending the Act's protections to same-sex couples and to provisions allowing battered illegal aliens to claim temporary visas.[6] In April 2012, the Senate voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and the House subsequently passed its own measure (omitting provisions of the Senate bill that would protect gay men, lesbians, American Indians living in reservations, and illegal aliens who were victims of domestic violence). Reconciliation of the two bills has been stymied by procedural measures, leaving the reauthorization in question.[7]

On January 2, 2013, the Senate's 2012 reauthorization of VAWA was not brought up for a vote in the House. While the bill was not reauthorized, its provisions (as enacted in the 2005 reauthorization) remain in effect.[why?]

On February 12, 2013, the Senate passed an extension of the Violence Against Women Act by a vote of 78-22.[8] On February 28, 2013, the House of Representatives passed the extension by a vote of 286-138, with unanimous Democratic support and 87 Republicans voting in the affirmative.[9]