Saturday, May 8, 2010
Newport Beach, California Open House Properties this Weekend
|Open house list for this weekend, listed by neighborhoods. |
Friday, May 7, 2010
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|• Counties considered part of the Central Valley: 18.• The valley is approximately 400 miles long (about the distance from Chicago to Pittsburgh), typically 40 to 60 miles wide. It would take about eight hours to drive from Redding, at the northern end, to Bakersfield.• The San Joaquin Valley, comprising just eight of the southernmost counties of the Central Valley, is larger than 10 U.S. states.• Population, 2000 (estimated): 5.5 million. In comparison, the population of Los Angeles alone is 9.3 million. After decades of brisk growth, metropolitan Sacramento -- the Central Valley's most populous urban area -- still has less than half the population today that Los Angeles County had in 1940.• Despite the valley's agricultural reputation, only about 12.3 percent of Central Valley employees overall work in agriculture. In a few counties, however, that number approaches 40 percent.• Nearly three-quarters of Central Valley land is privately owned. For California overall, about half of the land is owned or controlled by the government, especially the federal government.• Most Central Valley counties have higher rates of poverty than the statewide average. Almost all Central Valley counties exceed the state unemployment average, some by two or three times.Source: State of California|
Most Americans, and the rest of the world, would describe California by its popular tourist destinations and economic touchstones: Hollywood, Disneyland, the Golden Gate Bridge, Big Sur, Venice Beach, Silicon Valley.But there is another California, and it's home to the greatest garden in the world. The 400-mile-long Central Valley supplies fully one-quarter of the food America eats. It's a long, mostly flat and incredibly fertile pocket of land nestled between the coastal mountains and the Sierra Nevada range.There are no marquee destinations, only sober, business-first cities and vast stretches of farmland and cattle range. But the Central Valley is beginning to change rapidly. Families looking for lower-cost housing in California's inflated housing market are trading a three-hour commute to work for a little country space and serenity -- and once-fertile fields are being paved over to make way for subdivisions. Farmers are under increasing pressure to reduce their dependence on chemicals for higher crop yields. And amid all this change, there is a huge Latino population -- many of them illegal immigrants -- whose lack of economic mobility impedes their assimilation into the American melting pot.In a series of four reports, NPR's Richard Gonzales and John McChesney profile the promise and pitfalls waiting for the Central Valley as more and more people and businesses discover the "other California:"Part One: The Central Valley's Identity Crisis
California's Central Valley is growing fast and its biggest industry, agriculture, racked up $27 billion in revenues last year. Yet the Central Valley is often referred to as the "other California" or California's "backyard," and the valley's inhabitants are acutely aware that they do not share in the glamour of Hollywood or Silicon Valley. As the population of the valley's cities grows and agriculture's power shrinks, the region's identity crisis has become more acute. Many in the agricultural community have a defensive posture toward the coastal cities -- even while the valley's new urban centers are pushing for a share in the cultural and economic success of the coast. NPR's Richard Gonzales reports. View a photo gallery for Part One.
View a photo gallery for Part Two.
Part Two: The Problem with Pesticides
California's Central Valley is the most dynamic agricultural region in the world, yet farmers there are under tremendous pressure from new valley residents relocated from the coast and environmentalists to clean up their act. For decades, farmers have been exempted from clean air and clean water standards that apply to other industries. But now, the state says it is going to bring them into compliance. It's the water standards that have the farmers most worried -- farmers spray on the valley floor a third of all the pesticides sold in the nation. If they have to cut back, farmers warn that prices of tomatoes, pistachios and the 300 other crops grown in the valley will be more expensive. NPR's John McChesney reports.
Part Three: Central Valley, Going Organic?
Some farmers in California's Central Valley say they have seen the writing on the wall, and have started efforts to grow without a huge dependence on chemicals. State officials are demanding that farms, exempted for decades, begin to comply with clean air and clean water standards. The birthplace of modern agribusiness, the Central Valley supplies a quarter of the nations' foodstuffs and sets trends for farming nationwide. So when big farms like Muir Glenn tomatoes "go organic," it not only cuts down California water pollution, but it also provides a testbed for the viability of large-scale organic farming. But as NPR's John McChesney reports, going organic is not that easy. View a photo gallery for Part Three.
Part Four: Farm Labor and Illegal Immigration
In 1949, historian and journalist Carey McWilliams wrote, "The farm labor problem is the cancer which lies beneath the beauty, richness, and fertility" of the Central Valley. More than 50 years later, McWilliams would probably come to the same conclusion. By the most conservative estimates, 50 percent of the valley's farm laborers are illegal immigrants -- other estimates run as high as 90 percent. Despite farm labor laws, workers are still subject to sub-minimum wages and dangerous working conditions. Whole towns are virtual labor camps aptly described as "California's Appalachia." The region is home to a multi-generational underclass of low-skilled, poorly educated workers and their families. But unlike immigrants of the past, these workers show no sign of being absorbed into an economic track that will improve their lives. View a photo gallery for Part Four.
In DepthThe New California -- All Things Considered presents a four-part series on the changing demographics in California. Immigrants from Latin America and Asia are forcing the state to come to terms with diversity on an unprecedented scale. August 2002.Other Resources• The Great Central Valley Project, a book by photographers Stephen Johnson and Robert Dawson and author Gerald Haslam, tracks the human imprint on the huge agricultural area.• The Great Valley Center is a not-for-profit organization "to support organizations and activities that benefit the economic, social and environmental well-being of California’s Great Central Valley" through grants and other financial support.• Statistics about the Central Valley provided by the State of California.
Eco Factor: Urine broken down into hydrogen using electrolysis.
With the dearth of low-emission fuels and the high cost of renewable energy generating system such as photovoltaic cells have tempted automobile manufacturers to look towards sources which are present in abundance. Being the most abundant in the universe, hydrogen has always fantasized car manufacturers as a green fuel which doesn’t bring any performance issues along as well. However, conventional process used to generate hydrogen from water and finally transporting it, aren’t as ecofriendly as the fuel itself is.
Researchers at the Ohio University are trying to solve the riddle by generating hydrogen from a cheap and readily available waste – urine. These researchers believe that electrolyzing urine for hydrogen is easy as compared to generating hydrogen from water as in urine, hydrogen molecules aren’t as tightly held as in water. The system breaks down urea at a voltage of just 0.37 volts, which
Why are UVA rays so bad? Even at low-level exposures, UVA light breaks down collagen, which causes wrinkles. Even worse, scientists have found that UVA is the main culprit for many melanomas because it reaches deep into the underlying support structure of the skin.
Your options for sun protection are SPF moisturizers, basic sunscreens or tinted moisturizers.
Extra tip: Sunscreen isn't only for the face. We read in O magazine that dermatologists report seeing too many women with hands, necks and chests that looked 20 years older than their faces. These women were diligent to keep their faces out of the sun but forgot to protect their hands, necks and chests as well.
But be careful, it's very thick. Another great bet is Clarins Hydration-Plus Moisture Lotion SPF 15, which combines sunscreen with Clarins' all-time bestselling moisturizers. A top favorite of dermatologists is Olay Total Effects UV Protection .
Foundations or tinted moisturizers with SPF ensures you are getting not only great coverage, but SPF as well. Hands down the best tinted moisturizer with SPF on the market is Laura Mercier.
Neutrogena products are now made with Helioplex, which, like Mexoryl, offers ultra protection from the sun's UVA rays. Most sunscreens on the market only offer protection from UVB rays, but it's the UVA rays that can wreak havoc deep within the epidermis and causing some bad skin cancers.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
But thanks to the unpredictable nature of the oil slick and the legal maze surrounding maritime law, what BP will pay and to whom is very much an open question.......http://money.cnn.com/2010/05/06/news/economy/BP_liability/index.htm?eref=igoo...
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
A lot of people just don’t recycle. While there may be a temptation to imagine them as conspiring Earth Haters who take orders directly from Skeletor, they are usually normal people who try to contribute positively to society in other ways.
They are members of our family, our neighbors and our friends. So what makes them choose to bypass the blue bin?
We investigated five individuals who do not regularly recycle. A better understanding of their “why” can help proponents of recycling better understand the “how” of what can be done to increase participation.
Editor’s note: Names have been changed to encourage participants to be candid.
The twenty-something bachelor
Meet Matt, a recent business college graduate living in Utah. While adapting to his new job, Matt is also preparing to invest in his first home, not to mention finding a nice young lady with whom he can settle down. He gives five reasons for not recycling.
“My No. 1 reason is convenience – or should I say, inconvenience,” he says. “We don’t have a [curbside] recycling program where I live. You have to collect all of your items and then drive them to the middle of nowhere to drop them off. It takes too much extra effort.”
Storage is another barrier, especially for those living in multi-family housing, according to Matt. ”Where am I going to put all of that stuff? I don’t have a lot of extra space, and I don’t really want my garbage lying around my house while it builds up.”
Although convenience and storage are the main reasons Matt does not recycle, there are other factors, including confusing programs. During college, Matt lived in an apartment complex with a dumpster for recycables in the parking lot. Even though it made recycling more convenient, he didn’t use it because he didn’t know the “rules.”
“You can’t mix this plastic with that one. Cardboard is OK, but not that pizza box, even though it’s cardboard. Recyclers have their own language. It’s like a foreign country, and I don’t want to be a tourist there,” he says.
Matt also doesn’t like the philosophy of city-funded programs. ”I’m sure that they pay for themselves to some degree, but I am annoyed that my tax dollars go to recycling programs,” he says. “If people are into recycling, they should do it on their own. It’s not government’s place to decide which causes I support.”
Matt’s final reason is an interesting insight for those trying to motivate their friends to get involved. The superior attitude of many pro-recyclers is an enormous turnoff.
“I wish they would just get off their high green horses,” he says. “Stop being snotty about it. Get your nose out of the air. Stop acting like you’re better than me because you recycle. It makes me want to throw something in the trash just to spite you.”
The thirty-something family guy
Darren is a family guy working for a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC. While his wife is more apt to recycle, Darren has a hard time making economic sense of it.
“I’m very skeptical of environmental claims because they are rarely economic,” he says.
Economically speaking, some recycling isn’t cost effective, he argues, citing plastic as an example of a controversial material while others are agreed to be cost-effective, such as aluminum cans.
“What I wish everyone would learn in Economics 101 is that there are trade-offs in life. There are both benefits and downsides to recycling,” Darren explains. “Individually, time is the most precious resource we use when we recycle. You could have done something else with that time used to recycle, and you can never get back spent time. On the city level, it’s time, effort and money. It is a question of whether recycling is the best use of that money, or if it would be better spent on education or health care. There are always trade-offs.”
But people differ in what they consider to be the best trade-off. “I think a lot of people recycle because it makes them feel good, and that’s fine. For me personally, I get no benefit from recycling, so I don’t’ do it,” he says.
Darren also says people don’t think about what resources will have to be used to recycle their product. He uses the examples of diapers. While many people are critical of plastic diapers, cleaning cloth diapers use water and energy, as well as requiring the use of chemicals that could eventually get back into the water supply.
“These are strong detergents, but you want a very clean diaper on your baby. What is the environmental thing to do?” he asks.
The sweet sixteen-ager
Jenny is an enthusiastic teenager who squeezed in a quick interview between lacrosse games. Her goal is to become a neurosurgeon. Jenny’s main reason for not recycling has a familiar ring: lack of convenience.
“I hardly ever recycle. If I actually find a recycling bin I do – it’s not like I hate the earth or something,” she says. “It would make a big difference if there was a program in my city.”
There is also not a strong program in Jenny’s school. Some classrooms have small bins for paper, but she says no one enforces actually using them.
Aside from a short lecture at the beginning of the year, there is not much talk about recycling on campus. None of Jenny’s friends recycles, either, and peer influence is especially powerful for teens. “It’s just not a big deal. No one really thinks about it,” she says.
The proud grandparents
With 18 grandchildren and one more on the way, James and Susan keep a full schedule, even though they’re partially retired. Before settling down in New Mexico, they lived all over the West. Their involvement in recycling has depended largely on the local programs available where they were living.
“Now I live in a state that doesn’t give you any incentive to recycle, so I don’t usually do it,” James says.
Many years ago, the couple tried to get their kids excited about recycling. Over the course of about a year, the family worked together to fill a large garbage sack full of crushed cans. The plan was to turn them in and use the money for a fun family activity. But the local company paid out very little for the cans, and the total was only $3.50 – a great disappointment to the kids especially.
“We had saved religiously, but the payout was terrible,” James remembers. “That was the last time I ever tried to recycle. It barely paid for my gasoline to get down there.”
“Without a good program that pays a nickle or dime per can, your only incentive is your guilty conscience. But not everyone feels guilty about not recycling. Until states get behind it and make it more worthwhile, a lot of people just won’t do it,” James says.
Susan agrees. “Even if you’re not an environmentalist, you can be an economist and recycle if there are money incentives,” she says.
Having to store recyclables for a long amount of time if you don’t have a curbside program can also be very dirty, Susan points out. ”We had ants and it was all stinky when we tried to save up those cans, even when we tried to wash everything out.”
A curbside recycling program would make an enormous difference, James adds.
“The way recycling is set up around here, the burden falls on the recycler, not the company doing the recycling,” he says. “I’m not going to take that pop can and drive it around town searching for a recycling bin, but if they pick it up from me without charge, that’s a different story.”
What we learned
One reoccurring barrier was the lack of convenience for those who do not have a curbside program. In the words of Susan, “I’d certainly separate my trash if I could just roll it out to be picked up every week for free. I think everyone would.”
The message is that we still have a long way to go in expanding curbside programs to everyone. Facilitating discussion about local recycling programs will put pressure on cities to offer such programs. Those who live in a city without curbside recycling can be more vocal with local leaders.
More visibility of recycling campaigns (especially online) could increase excitement among teenagers, many of whom, according to Jenny, are simply disconnected from recycling. It is important not to ignore this crowd, as they will be the decision-makers in the future.
A final action an individual can take is to check personal behavior to make sure he or she is contributing to recycling’s image in a positive way. Just as Matt pointed out, there is an attitude of superiority that other interviewees mentioned as well. Optimism and a friendly invitation to participate will sell better than guilt or social segregation, and excitement is the best tool for recruitment.
Ashley Schiller is a freelance writer. She is currently finishing her bachelors in political science and journalism.
A former Marine in San Diego County who refused to pay the bill after authorities had what they called fire-prone weeds cleared could lose his land. He says the plants were fire-resistant native flora.
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