EEF33646-832E-47C7-9329-A006153AD436 Grass | Baghdad By The Bay

Posts Tagged 'grass'

Beach Chalet Soccer Fields

OK, I know I’m going to take some heat from this, but I actually believe that the soccer fields would be better replaced by the artificial turf than keeping the grassy gopher community that’s there now. To me it is a sound safe move that will only affect a very small amount of Golden Gate Park.

I know I sound like a blasphemer for making these statements, but this isn’t the old astroturf. This is fake grass that’s made from 100% recycled materials that doesn’t require the maintenance  a true grass field would require and already isn’t getting. First off, grass as we grow in lawns and for playing fields is unnatural. The strains of grass that we grow today are all genetically modified [GMO?] to produce a given result. Golf courses use bent grass which works best at a very short height. You can see what happens when it grows too tall by driving down Sunset Boulevard to see the newly planted patches that haven’t been mown yet. It turns a sickly yellowish brown. Bent grass also requires more frequent mowing and fertilizing which it’s not getting on Sunset Boulevard. There are taller grasses such as fescue and Kentucky blue, but those less water, but more care. Neither of these are suitable for a playing field.

There you have the gopher problem. Pocket gophers and moles are running rampant in the city which is part of the reason you have the predatory birds over the current soccer fields. Those same birds can be found all over the park or any other park in the city because we have such an overabundance of gophers. I was at my daughter’s school yesterday helping take care of the garden area while school is out. they’ve pretty much given up on the lawn because of all the gopher holes. I was finding one every foot. I actually tripped when my foot hit a hole I missed. There are kids who have been playing at the soccer field who have had to be rushed to the hospital because of falls caused by the gopher holes.

The artificial grass is pretty nice looking and is very comfortable to walk across. I have neighbors across the street who have it installed and they don’t have to water it or do anything to it. There is also a soccer/baseball field at South Sunset Playground [with lights and there are houses right across the streets, but no one mentions problems with that] that has the same grass and I would take my young daughter there so she could run around and even when she did fall [she was 2 at the time] there was a bit of a cushiony effect from the turf.

The way it is installed is that first you dig out the dirt and install a barrier that keeps gophers from digging up through it. Then you lay down the grass followed by common sand as a stabilizer and then small rubber pellets made from recycled tires. The grass itself is made from recycled plastic. It’s been such a hit that San Jose has installed in around Santana Row.

Now people have addressed concerns regarding the lighting that’s going in. From the rendition the lights will be facing east/west. The field is roughly 1000′ from the north end of the park and about 600′ from the south end. Most of what is close to it are commercial businesses. Yes, if you have a home nearby there might be a little light leakage, but it wouldn’t be anything like having a spotlight shining in your living room window like I did when Saint Ignatius had there night football game that with the drapes open we didn’t need to turn on the lights in our living room and dining room and we could still hear the noise of the generator because it was so big. The lights at the chalet won’t even be above the trees and wouldn’t need generators because they can be powered off the grid. They could even install solar panels on top to make them more efficient.

Here are some of the environmental concerns I’ve seen stated and I’ll address each one.

  • Loss of over 55 trees, tall shrubs, and the current grass meadow: 55 trees and shrubs is nothing compared to the number of trees in the park. The added amenities like picnic tables, children’s play structure and new ADA bathrooms are a plus side.
  • Loss of wildlife habitat: Gophers are the only thing you’ll lose. The hawks will not be affected because there’s lots of gophers available at the polo fields, speedway meadow and the rest of the park.
  • Installation of artificial turf = compacted soil, gravel, plastic carpet, and waste tires and sand infill: They’re leaving out that the plastic carpet [i.e. artificial grass] and waste tires are recycled and if sand infill is a problem then we need to do away with Ocean Beach because you’ll find more sand infill there than anywhere else in the city. Compacted soil just means no gophers which is a plus in my book.
  • Increased paving for sidewalks and parking: There already exists sidewalks and a parking lot. Maybe they’ll make the lot bigger, but from what I’ve seen and read that’s not in the plan.
  • Increased lighting for the sidewalks and parking: I actually see this as a good thing. There would be less mugging and rapes occurring in the park if it had better lighting at night. Hell, the whole Sunset and Richmond districts could use more lighting.
  • An increase in traffic in the Park and the neighborhoods: If that were to happen, I’m sure the local businesses would welcome that. We’re in the USA, Soccer isn’t as big a sport here as our version of Football. It’s mostly a high school thing.
  • Decreased available parking at Ocean Beach: See above. The parking at Ocean Beach is only heavy on a hot weekend. I usually see more parking in the park, but that’s usually because of the people who can’t find parking in the Beach Chalet’s parking lot.
  • Decreased night sky darkness: This is called Light Polution and being a major metropolitan city we already produce so much light pollution that soccer field would be barely noticeable.
  • Infringement on the wild nature of Ocean Beach: This won’t have any effect on Ocean beach except maybe make the gophers move there. I’ve rarely even seen the soccer field and the night time lights won’t have any effect on Ocean Beach wildlife because aside from the odd bat you don’t have anything out there at night. If anything it’ll keep the coyotes that have moved here a little farther away.
  • Infringement on the historic context for the Beach Chalet, the Dutch Windmill and the Murphy Windmill: The only thing historic out there is the entrance to the Beach Chalet. Everything else has had a complete makeover. The Murphy Windmill if you look at it on google maps is shown in a torn down state. It’s recently had a complete rebuild and looks very nice. That won’t be affected at all.
  • Contrary to the Golden Gate Park Master Plan: Technically, according to those who built Golden Gate Park a soccer field is against the GGP Master Plan. I found nothing to support this on their website. There are many things, such as major overhauls that the California Academy of Sciences, DeYoung Museum and Music Concourse received that destroyed the history of that area, but that was fine right? Oh wait, that area makes more money for the city.

Converting to the artificial turf will rid the soccer fields of the pesky gopher pests and make it a safer place for our kids to play soccer. The lighting will add a little bit of night glow to the skies and won’t be a problem for local residents because I don’t know many people who sit looking out their windows at night. There will also be the addition of site amenities such as a children’s climbing structure, picnic tables, benches, bleachers, drinking fountains and trash receptacles. The existing restrooms will also be renovated with new interior fixtures in compliance with ADA requirements. That doesn’t sound like a bad thing now does it? I might actually have a reason to see the soccer fields.

Reel Mowing

When my Mom was alive she couldn’t mow the lawn and wanted to get rid of the old behemoth electric mower we had. She found a great gardener who was only charging $15 and he’s come and mow the lawn every other week. Then his prices started to go up until they were $30 each time and he’s only show up sometimes once a month. He wasn’t really doing anything else like fertilizing the lawn so there were weeds taking over and we decided to make a change.

I had used the old electric mower, but hated having to deal with the bag after wards and the fact that a lot never made it into the bag and sprayed all over the sidewalk. I had read up on reel mowers and found that if you mowed and just left the cut grass on your grass that it would break down adding more nitrogen to your soil meaning less fertilizer which is one of the things grass needs the most. So we went ahead and plunked down $60 on a low end reel mower by American Lawnmowers. From the reviews they said that if  you have anything growing too tall it won’t cut them and they were right. We have several weeds that are about 8″ long that just got pushed over and not cut so I had to pull those by hand.

We also had some other flat weeds that were the type that you could grab the weeds in hand and twist them around and get the root out. I did that first before starting to mow. Well I have to say that after smoothing out the piles of dirt the gophers dug up and pulling the weeds my wife estimated that it should take me about a half hour. When she says a half hour she always undercuts it expecting me to take longer so she can come out and ask me what I’m doing out there [Kind of like your Mom when you’re a teenager int he bathroom for too long].

Total time was less than 15 minutes and I actually felt a bit of a burn in my arms afterwards and was a little out of breath. Remember, I’m not an athlete and typically work desk jobs so this was a good work out for me. The results weren’t the best, but at the same time the lawn is studded with all kinds of grasses since the sod that was originally laid down wasn’t top shelf stuff and our neighbors have let their lawn turn into a veritable weed factory next door, but I’m suspecting with a little weed and feed and continued effort that within a month things will be looking better. from my research the grass we have is fescue and other cool weather grasses so we should let it grow to about 3″ before cutting it and cut it down to about 2″.  I was a little quick on the cut this time because while there were sections that were 3″, there was a lot that were barely an inch.

Reel mowers are not not known for doing edging very well, but we don’t have a fence on any sides and only have a bout 2′ of brick wall that makes it difficult so that wasn’t really a problem. I found that if I started cross ways and then when lengthwise it was easier, but I think next time I’m going to do cross and lengthwise  all the way across. I’ll get a better work out and then maybe I can pull out an old chaise lounge and a cooler full of beer and sit and talk with the neighbors about our front yard gardening. I also noticed last night that our automatic sprinklers had some wrong heads installed. There are wide and thin shot heads and with our lawn they could have been wide shots installed in the corners instead of wide on the sides and shorts on the ends. I’m going to have to make a trip down to Urban Gardeners nearby and ask them how to fix this since I don’t want to tear up the whole lawn and put new sod down and re-do the sprinkler system. While I can do simple plumbing, when plumbing and landscaping come together count me out.

No Mo’ Mary Jane!

Seeing as the two times I’ve written about marijuana my hits have spiked and the two most searched terms are redneck girls and marijuana I guess I have to cater to my audience of guys who like to look at nekkid red neck girls smoking pot every once in awhile. So today I’ll be talking about the current attack by the federal government on California on profitable medical marijuana dispensaries.

When I first read it I like many others I’m sure thought that it was a Federal attack on the state’s legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. Then  I re-read the article and realized they were only attacking the mmd’s that were making money. Hmmm…I guess you can’t blame this on the GOP, because they would never attack a company that actually made money because they are the job creators.

I think the biggest problem is that a lot of politicos can’t wrap their head around the term medical marijuana. I have trouble some times especially after I attended a job rally for a company called Mary Jane Magazine. A magazine focused on cannabis culture aimed at women. The biggest question people kept asking was, will you have a space available for us to medicate? I thought to myself, if you’re that sick you shouldn’t come to work. I’ve never asked a boss if there was a room for me to go and get drunk during work because of the stress. My mind stores a lot of useless information that it gets to pull up from time to time and today it pulled out Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies who made moonshine to help with her rheumatis’. I think we need to stop thinking about marijuana as a medical drug and think of it like we think of booze.

Most of the people I know who consume marijuana do so for many of the same reason people who drink a martini or shot of scotch do. It helps them relax after a stressful day at work. It helps them relax, etc. Medical marijuana users just use terms that make it sound like a pseudo-science drug. Let’s face it, if I do a couple of shots, pop a valium or smoke a joint [not at the same time, of course] it has the same effect. It’s time to call a spade a spade. The difference is that nobody has beaten their wife after smoking a joint or destroyed their liver from consuming marijuana. It is far less deadly than alcohol or barbiturates. You don’t have to smoke it anymore you can consume a tincture or brownie so the smoking hazard is removed. If we treated marijuana like we treated booze it would be a good thing. We would be taxing it and bigger more efficient companies would be coming in to make it cheaper. Some dispensaries sell their pot at the low price of $45/gram. Now I don’t know the weight of a pack of cigarettes, but let’s say it’s an ounce. You can get an ounce of tobacco for under $6 in San Francisco [$10 in NYC]. What if you could get an ounce of marijuana for $6 including all the added taxes like cigarettes have? California would recover more than the rest of the nation and probably become THE largest economy in the world instead of the eighth largest.

We are living in an age where there is hardly anyone who can say they haven’t tried marijuana at least once. Hell, I’m sure Mitt Romney tried it at some point. I think Rick Perry is using it right now after seeing some of his clouded speaking during the debates. Let’s just legalize it and tax it and make it into a commodity that we can control instead of calling it a controlled substance that the government isn’t really controlling. Which brings to mind a possible urban myth of the government developing it’s own WMD which was a strain of pot called G13 which was supposed to be extremely potent enough to cloud the minds of our enemies and dissidents.

The government knows about marijuana, now they just need to show the small percentage of people that it’s like booze so they can understand that. Then they’ll all be saying to the politicians, hey how can we start making some money off of it? The biggest people against the legalization were the pot growers themselves because they knew that some corporation would come in and find a way to do it better for less. Why else are there so many Escalades and BMW in Humboldt county next to the trucks?

So to sum it all up, the federal government isn’t really against marijuana, just people who make money off of marijuana. I suppose if they’d tax it and make some money off of it they’d think different. Steve Jobs smoked pot. How else do you think we’d have computers in our back pocket today.

Happy Birthday Wavy Gravy! Don’t Take the Brown Acid!

Wavy Gravy is an icon of San Francisco in the 60’s yet he came from New York and lives in People’s Republic of Berkeley. On the 15th of May he will turn 75 years old. For most people today they probably equate hippies with being old, but for those of us reaching middle age we still scratch our heads at the thought of old hippies. Maybe not so much as we used to.

Born Hugh Romney [hmmm…any relation to Mitt?] he received the name Wavy Gravy from of all people B. B. King in 1969 when B. B. just before taking the stage at the Texas International Pop Festival saw Hugh sitting backstage and asked him, “Are you Wavy Gravy?” to which Hugh replied, “Yes” and B. B. responded with, “It’s OK, I can work around you” and preceded to go onstage and play. Not sure who was drinking the Kool Aid that day, but methinks B. B. might have had a glass or two

I guess that was a bit of a day of revelation because Hugh decided from that day to use the name Wavy Gravy as his legal name. He had also chose to portray himself as a clown because as a demonstrator for peace he thought that it would be difficult for the Police to have it in their hearts to arrest a clown. We’re not talking the drunken, swearing after hours staggering around in misery type of clown that TV likes to portray and make people like my wife afraid of clowns, but the happy childlike things are better type of clown.

Wavy Gravy as a clown has brought about change in the world one smile at a time. He started the Hog Farm collective commune in Los Angeles in 1966 which wasn’t the free love, let’s run naked and do nothing else type of commune but a group of people who lived and worked on the hog farm of Claude Doty and turned it into a showbiz enterprise staging concerts in the Los Angeles area before the group relocated to Black Oak Ranch in Northern California in the 90’s.

Wavy also started Camp Winnarainbow which was originally started as a day care for Sufi children so that their parents could meditate and pray and wouldn’t be penalized from that because they had kids. Wavy took the kids and made them have fun by running it like a circus and teaching the kids performing arts. It’s still thriving today though looking a bit less hippie.

He even managed to influence Ben & Jerry to create a Wavy Gravy ice cream. I have to say I haven’t tried it just because it sounds like there’s gravy in the ice cream which seems wrong to me, but there is no gravy in Wavy Gravy ice cream. I suppose that came from the time he spent with the Merry Pranksters in the 60’s. What he might be best known for, at least to me was as head of security at Woodstock [the original one] he walked up to the mic one day and gave everyone the warning, “Don’t take the brown acid.” That moment was immortalized in the movie Woodstock and showed that he wanted everyone to have fun, just have fun safely.

I actually got to meet Wavy a few years ago at a place you wouldn’t expect to see a hippie at. My wife and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary and decided to go to Harris Steakhouse in the city. We liked to have early dinners when we went out to avoid having to scream at each other over our expensive meal. We were the first ones in the restaurant. My wife ordered the Prime Rib and I had the Bison steak [rare!] as we were waiting for our meals to arrive in walks Wavy and his wife Jahanara and they are seated next to us. My jaw kind of dropped because I was raised that hippies were supposed to love the earth and not want to harm animals so they were always vegetarian. Well my parents were wrong teaching me that. I got up and walked over to him and extended my hand and introduced myself. He responded sort of like a celebrity who was just trying to have dinner and not be disturbed and I picked up on that and left at the handshake because I was supposed to be there to celebrate my anniversary after all.

As we got up to leave after dessert and started walking towards the door he extended his cane to block our path for a moment and wished us both a happy anniversary and happy life together. I had never received a hippie’s blessing before, but that day just seemed brighter because of it.