Let's green the freeway

I've been idly pondering on local stream re-naturalization, but that requires an absurd amount of planning because there's no accepted process or guidelines for making those sorts of changes. Why not set aside the hard task for a moment and think about re-naturalizing an area for which there is an existing process, guideline, and procedure?

I've been wondering why the triangles of land that are bounded by the freeway, the on ramps, and the off ramps aren't more thoughtfully landscaped. Put some native plants in there and you have an instant green and native fauna oasis in the midst of our drought. (Planted this fall, it would be at most two years and you could probably discontinue all supplemental watering with the right selection of native plants.)

Of course Caltrans is in charge of those areas. But wouldn't it be an easy way to green up the environment? I know that the ones I frequently use are at best covered in ice plant and at worst are parched deserts with nothing growing.

Caltrans has wildflower and tree and shrub guidelines for their Adopt-a-Highway program that call out drought tolerant and native species. There are minimum requirements to receive an Adopt-A-Highway sign, but they are relaxed if you don't want a sign.

In other news, Long Beach City gets it: take out your lawn to save water.

...a three-pronged drought—the lowest rainfall since Southern California started measuring it in 1877, eight years of below-normal precipitation in Northern California and Colorado, and environmental regulations that reduce the Southland’s take of other imported water.

The solution is to replace front lawns—as well as the landscaping around government buildings and the center dividers of roads—with California native plants. They use much less water, replace habitat, reduce pollution, and remind everybody about what Southern California really looks like.

“We can’t tell people they can’t have a grass lawn—at least, we don’t want to be in that position,” says Lyons. “Instead, we want to encourage people to have what we call a Beautiful Long Beach Landscape....”


German vacation - Frankonia

I had seven nights in Germany following a business trip and used them to visit a few of the more touristy locations. I had a delightful time with two days each in Rothenberg (medieval walled city, Crime and Punishment museum, Night Watchman's tour, atmosphere galore), Nurmberg (I visited the Nazi Documentation Zentrum, which specializes in the conditions that led up to WWII. It had only a brief clip of a gas chamber but it was enough to upset me, so I'm glad I didn't go to one of the camps), Wurzberg (home of Germany's Residenz - sort of a Versailles equivalent, except that they allow winefests and the like it its gardens, which I was happy to participate in), and the final day in Frankfurt (where I attended a Penck retrospective. Penck seems to have used the stick figure to great effect over his 40+ year career.).

The food was nice, particularly the rotkraut (red cabbage) that I had the first night in Thuringia. I didn't see it on the menus later on my trip, though I had thought it widespread across Germany. Maybe plain old sauerkraut sells better. Fanciest meal was in the small City of Jena, hosted by my business contacts. That meal was something else, with French wine, braised and roasted meats smothered in typical sauces, etc. I didn't treat myself so well.

There was of course lots of beer (my favorite was on the first night - some dark wheat beer(dunkle weissebier, I think, made by Radelberger? I made sure to make frequents comparisons.), some sekts in Wurzberg, some still wein, and apfelwein. My worst meal was in Frankfurt where I ended up with basic sauerkraut (tasted like it was straight from jar) and a boiled pig's knuckle with apfelwien, which didn't quite toot my horn.

A strike on 7/3 resulted in inexplicably (at the time) late trains, but I eventually overcame the problem. Strikes in Germany seem to be polite affairs, contrary to what the news carries of French strikes.


Google Analytics - results for June 4 to present

I've been using Google Analytics to track the traffic on this site since June 4. If I had a penny for every page view since then, I'd have all of $3.31 jingle jangling in my pocket. That $3.31 worth of visits came from 154 different network locations, all in North America. Of those visits, 273 are identified as "unique" visitors, but only 71 returning visitors. Since I will occasionally look in from work and from home, I'll have to take two away from those figures to account for my double dipping typo-searches.

June 5 was my highest number of page hits, with 39. My most interesting post appears to be Notes on How to Stucco.

Conclusion 1: There's somewhere around 50 of you out there regularly reading my blog, at least on occasion. Hi, Mom!

Conclusion 2: Assuming this blog is typical, the national rate for comments must be around 1-2%.

Back in town; evil lawns in the LA Times

I'm back from 10 days in Germany. I'll try to post some impressions later.

I do notice that one of my favorite topics is in the Home and Garden section of the LA Times: lawns as Public Enemy No. 1.

Edit 11 July 07: I don't hate all lawns, just the sterile, unused, chemical, over watered ones. In the interests of keeping an open mind, I've stumbled upon a turf grass called UC Verde, developed by the University of California for arid climates. I've not seen this mentioned elsewhere, despite its availability since 2003. Obviously, not a native, but perhaps worth investigating.