Santa Anas

LA Observed has good fun with weather speak in today’s forecast of Santa Ana winds for Southern California. For those interested in how greater Los Angeles, a place that is often mistaken as desert, but is not (yet), gets intermittent breaths out of the actual deserts of the Great Basin and Mojave, click here for a good explanatory page from a California  and federal climate project. A favorite meteorologist (among other things) who blogs as Bad Mom, Good Mom, sent this UCLA link explaining Santa Anas, which opens with this Raymond Chandler excerpt from Red Wind: “There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel

LAUSD is right to say ‘no’ to Jamie Oliver

Schools are for kids, not celebrities.

When a parent drops a child off at school, he or she is entitled to a small set of reasonable expectations. These include: 1) That their child will be educated. 2) That school meals will be available if the child does not bring a packed lunch. 3) That the child will not be exploited.

Item one is not going well. Item two happens, if not to the standards that some would wish. Item three includes keeping out child molesters and celebrities who view the world as background.

That British TV chef Jamie Oliver has arrived in Southern California preaching the gospel of healthful eating is fine. The city has plenty of pulpits, but the cafeterias of public schools are not among them. If he wants to help the school district improve its meals, then it would have been politic and orders of magnitude more

Book review: “We have met the Enemy”

Daniel Akst borrowed his new book’s title from “Pogo” creator Walt Kelly, whose “We have met the enemy and he is us” became a slogan marking the first Earth Day in 1970. However, in “We Have Met the Enemy: Self-Control in an Age of Excess,” Akst isn’t interested in saving the planet, at least as a first line of business. He’s intrigued by impulse control in America, what is eroding it and what that means.

The book opens much like a tract on obesity from the Morbidity and Mortality Report if it had been written by a social commentator and not clinicians from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An anecdote about a corpse too fat to fit in a morgue freezer is followed in short order by the unsparing observation that an obese bariatric nurse at a Texas conference helped herself to a second plate of waffles

The world according to Wordle

Wordle produced this scatter cloud for Laguna Dirt. Click on the image for a link to a site with an exquisite collection of modern bird studies.

San Diego artist James Soe Nyun got to fiddling around with a scatter cloud program called Wordle and applied it to a number of garden blogs, first Californian, then from around the country. To see what emerged, go to his delightful site Lost in the Landscape.

The Dry Garden: Better than beautiful

The former librarian at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden doesn’t remember exactly when the visitor wandered into her office and let drop that he was a descendant of George Engelmann. What Joan De Fato does remember is telling him that there was a grove of rare oaks on the site that had been named for his ancestor.

You don’t have to be a descendant of one of the fathers of American botany to share in what De Fato recalls as his pleasure and amazement. The arboretum’s grove of Quercus engelmannii, pictured above, is one of the last local stands of a native tree once so common to the foothills that an alternate common name is the Pasadena oak.

The first thing that strikes you upon reaching this group of roughly 200 trees is how much more animated it is by birds, butterflies and scampering lizards

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