Record heat
in the Bay Area today; 90 in San Francisco, in the low 90s in the East
Bay; several places in the region set their all-time record for the
month (and most of the records broken were set in 1935 or 1965, long
before the phrase global warmiing was coined). But the real thing the
heat makes you think about is whether the lights will go out. So far —
with Enron and Calpine and the rest of the energy criminals sidelined
— things look OK. Even with temperatures in the hundreds in some
locations today, the state’s energy network operator said demand never approached the available supply.

Bake Sales

Well, Kate and I spent a couple hours this morning walking around to MoveOn bake sales
in our general neighborhood. On one level, it seems like touchy-feely
naivete: Bake sales to defeat Bush? Yeah, right. On the other hand, it
was really encouraging to see the enthusiasm for the idea around town
and the determination people have that the small things they’re doing
in their own communities, and the money they’re gathering, could build
into something big. Of course, this is Berkeley, and you could get
people to do bake sales for nearly anything; at one gathering, someone
said there were 19 MoveOn bake sales around town; I’ll bet there were
even more. But I wonder how many there were in, say, Kansas.(I just
searched on the MoveOn site for future bake sales within 3 miles of our
zip code, and got five results. I checked for similar events coming up
within 300 miles of Wichita and got three hits. And actually, MoveOn has a map that illustrates where the bake sale hot spots were and weren’t) More on
this tomorrow.

Unruly Swell

Sure, the above could easily be mistaken as a description of me. But what it really is is a phrase from a West Coast surf forecast that a colleague, Steve Enders, pointed out earlier today. In discussing the big seas whipped up by today’s storm, observed:

“…It is likely that some degree of very high seas will move close to the coast. In that event a large, unruly, ungroomed and raw swell will impact the North and Central California coasts. …”

Meantime, a thunderstorm is sweeping the well-groomed streets of Berkeley right now. Sounds like it’s hailing, too (a strictly wintertime happening here).

Night Cycling

The best thing:
–The unexpected sights. Tonight: the view of Sirius appearing just above a ridge top as I rode up Claremont; the mist lapping over the saddle at the top of Claremont Canyon as I finished the slow, steep climb; the fog blanketing the valleys to the east.

Breaking the poetic mood:

–The uncertainty whether cars approaching from behind on the dark hills roads really see you.
–The discovery as I started to descend Grizzly Peak toward home that the nice, bright white lines on the right side of the road were nearly invisible, obscured by leaves and mud and other storm litter. Made the descent a little tricky.


What are they? Little paper bags with sand and votive candles inside. This definition from the American Heritage Dictionary says they are “commonplace” in American neighborhoods during the holidays. I don’t know how “commonplace” they are, but we go out with our neighbors and line our street with luminaria (or farolitos, if you like) every Christmas Eve. We started in 1992 or so and have done it every year since; and in the last few years, nearby streets have started putting out luminaria, too. Last week, though, it was pretty wet on the appointed evening and the display almost didn’t happen on Holly Street. Determined and optimistic neighbors braved soggy sidewalks and the threat of more showers to put the lights out, but most of the other blocks did not. Some of those areas waited till last night to put out their luminaria, as I discovered walking home from BART about 8:30. Kate and I walked through the neighborhood early, then again late. We passed the house shown here, on Lincoln Street, about 11:30 p.m.

If a Tree Falls …

It was windy here early this morning, with a storm front coming through between 2 and 3 o’clock. Lying in bed listening to the blow, I suddenly realized the gusts were probably strong enough to knock over the three little Norfolk pines I have on the front porch. I went out there in the rain to find that one had been blown off a wide railing, broken, and probably fatally injured.

More later on the trees.