All tagged April 2018

Ya, Youbetcha. Notes from the Midwest • Are You Still Hip? – Part I

     Back in 1967, the hippie movement was gathering steam as thousands of young college students abandoned the life their parents had planned for them, and advanced on the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco for a summer of love, drugs and fabulous rock music. Back here in Wisconsin, while sitting on the front porch of the duplex I shared with my mother, sister and brother, I eagerly read about this subculture of refreshing idealism and longed to be a part of it. So, that’s when that little voice in my head shouted “Well, what are you waiting for?!”

     The weary, fog-draggled volunteer clipped oiled feathers from a freshly dead Common Murre she’d found among beach wrack festooning the high tide mark. Snapping photos, and enfolding the feathers in foil, she tucked them into an evidence jar. She sealed it, signed the tape, and trudged back to her car to complete Chain of Custody paperwork. Dull routine. Who could predict that this was one of several links in the chain of forensic evidence that led to discovering the source of innumerable “mystery spills” and seabird deaths over the past half-century? The oil was traced to the sunken freighter S/S Jacob Luckenbach, which, after 50 years, continued to belch globs of oil during winter storms since it sank off the Golden Gate in 1953.

Over coffee or tea some morning, a friend mentions that s/he has just come from a massage. If you’re like me, you suddenly remember that ache in your back, that knot in your shoulder, along with a twinge of jealously that it wasn’t you who just got the massage. It doesn’t take a French scholar to recognize the root language for certain words and “massage” is no exception. Happily, massage needs no translation. An experiential understanding is all that’s required.

     Zowie!  Here comes that enlivening coastal spring wind - some days frigid and others warm – the gift of the season.  April is a time of aspiration – both definitions apply: to draw a breath and the hope or ambition of achieving something.  You can stand on the edge of the headlands watching whale trails, while taking deep breaths to clear out your lungs in an act of spring cleansing.  The inside of your lungs look essentially like the reflection of a large tree in still water.  The little avioli air sacs (the ‘leaves’) are thin-skinned, inflatable and infused with tiny one-celled thick capillaries that are busy exchanging the spent contents of your out-breath with a newly oxygenated in-breath.  The surface area of these sacs is about a big as a tennis court – a vast frontier for securing our greatest physiological need, oxygen. 

     In late fall of last year the City of Point Arena got a new solid waste hauler.  Recology Inc has purchased Pacific Coast Disposal, a subsidiary of North Bay Corp, a subsidiary of The Ratto Group, which is leaving the solid waste business.  Like many corporate structures the solid waste business has experienced may acquisitions and name changes.  Recology's roots began in 1921 in San Francisco as the Scavenger's Protective Association.  In 1965 they became Golden Gate Disposal.  By 1986 they were known as Norcal Waste Systems at which time they were sold to their employees, making them  currently the largest 100% employee-owned company in the solid waste collection and processing industries, with over 3,000 employees.  A year later they purchased Sunset Scavenger, their Bay Area counterpart for many years.  In 2009 Norcal Waste Systems changed it name to Recology Inc.

     The flu has recently caused many people to be sick, and even die. Animals can get the flu, too. There were several cases of dog flu reported in the Bay Area just in the last few months. We know that humans can get the flu from other humans and dogs can get the flu from other dogs. Viruses, as well as bacteria, fungi and parasites are all zoonotic. A zoonotic disease is one that can be transmitted from animals to humans- an example is the H1N1 swine flu influenza virus. Can we catch the flu from our pets and could we give our pets the flu? The general consensus is that while we can both catch a cold, the viruses that cause these colds are different.

     Most people of a certain age can probably recall their discovery of the first local newspaper carrying their favorite comics. It almost doesn’t matter what those comics were, as there was something for everyone. I never read Prince Valiant. Too cheesy. I did read Blondie but felt it hit a little too close to home. Beetle Bailey. Fun. Peanuts? My ‘peeps’. Li’l Abner? Could have been one or two of my neighbors. Hi and Lois? Too vanilla. I’d follow some or all of these in glorious black and white during the week, and on Sunday, magically, we found that they had all erupted into living color. We were too young to understand that the comics had two reasons for existing. First they were entertaining. Second, they trained children (future subscribers) to get into the habit of reading the daily newspaper.