Sunday, December 28, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gadgets for a Small Planet

Click the title to access the Tierneys' Examiner article on fun little energy-saving, money-saving, low-carb footprint gadgets.

Baltimore area editions:

DC area editions:

Also in San Fran and others. Plus, in the Examiner's nation online edition:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Earth Care and Faith

click title for article that appeared in the Examiner nationwide. Another edition:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Green Festival 2008

Click the link above for Robin's Eco Simple column on smart ideas from this year's Green Festival in DC. Article appeared in the Nov. 16 editions in DC/VA, Baltimore and San Francisco.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


In the Nov. 2 editions of the Examiner nationwide. Warning: my editors errer with photo selection. Should have pictured bees, not yellow jackets/wasps. Bees are the good guys who pollinate and make honey.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Super Foods!

Click the title above to access article that ran in the Oct. 30 Examiner newspapers.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Let Fallen Leaves Lie

Eco Simple article in Oct. 5 editions of the Examiner nationwide - click the title above to access.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Agribusiness and Eco-nomics

In the San Francisco, Baltimore and other editions of the Examiner - Robin's Eco Simple column of Sept. 29. And you can access the online version at

For an excellent 5-minute documentary about factory farming and a real look behind the scenes, please watch:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Get Unstuck from Depression and Anxiety - Without Drugs

Click the title-link above for Robin's Examiner piece on getting unstuck from depression and anxiety.

A link to the e-edition version:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ready, Set, Pedal - Quick-Start Bike Commuting Guide

This week in the Sunday Examiner editions nationwide: Robin's Quick-Start Bike Commuting Guide in Eco Simple, Sept. 21.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

BrushFirebrand: Dana Ellyn, Conscientious Observer

Click the title above to access the article, which appears in the Sept. 16 edition of the Examiner newspapers. Also, another version of the article in the national online edition appears at this URL:

Image: Trading Beauty Secrets by Dana Ellyn

Creative Class in D.C.: City Hall Art Collection

Click the title above to access the article, which appears in the Sept. 16 edition of the Examiner newspapers. Also, another version of the article in the national online edition appears at this URL:

Image: Percy Martin, Bushman Beginning a Dreamwalk

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Selling Out to Win

Click on title for an article that says it all about ambition, political maneuvering and selling out.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Driving Sustainability Without Trading in Your Car

Click title above to access Robin's latest Eco Simple, which ran Sept 14 in various editions of the Examiner newspapers nationwide.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hello Health: Digital-Age Doctoring

Click the title above to access Robin's Hello Health web 2.0 med care article running in various editions of today's Examiner.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pro-life? Or Pro-paganda?

As a believer in the Ten Commandments, I get so dismayed with the perversion of pro-life as a campaign slogan. Wouldn't pro-life include acting humanely to feeling and thinking beings? And actually abiding by the original words of God to be good stewards of the Earth and all creatures?

Click the title above to watch this short video, which signals just a bit of the tax-funded anti-animal and anti-environment actions to come.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

BEWARE of COUCH: Toxins and Your Pet

Click title above to access the article in the Sept 7 edition of the San Francisco Examiner. Also appeared in the national online edition Sept. 11 at

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Made in China ... red-hot art by Matt Sesow

Click title to access art article, which ran in the Sept 4 Examiner, DC, MD and VA editions. And here's an additional link to the article in the Examiner's national online edition (which is different from the "e-edition."

CONTAGION: germ-free iconography

Click the title above to access this art article appearing in the Sept. 4 Examiner (DC, Virginia, and MD editions).

And a link to yet another edition, which features a different visual with the article.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Grandma Knows Best: Gardening with, not against, Nature

Click the title for the latest Eco Simple column, which appears in the Sunday Aug 31 Examiner - at least in the West Coast and Baltimore region editions.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Weapons of Grass Destruction

Click title above to access the latest Eco Simple column in the Examiner newspapers nationwide. Topic: earth-friendlier, wallet-friendlier lawn care.

Links to the Baltimore edition (contains extra tips) and San Fran edition:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Back to School eco- and budget-minded

To access Eco Simple article in Aug 17 editions of the Examiner nationwide, click the title above. If that does not work, go to , look around the page for the link to online edition (it's called "today's edition" and migrants... today it's on the upper left), and find page 18 in the San Francisco edition.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rude Rx!

Rude Rx! In the Examiner's editions nationwide Aug. 12. Click title above to access the DC edition.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Subscribe to Local-Grown

Click the headline above to read Robin's Eco Simple column in the Sunday Aug 3 Examiner newspapers nationwide. Topic: Community Supported Agriculture - how these local food subscription groups work and what you get.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Eco-minded vacationing

Click the title to access article, which appears in the Sunday, July 27 Examiners nationwide.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Art with Heart

Smith Farm Center for the Healing Arts - click link above for Robin's article.

Eco Simple: Food Donation

Robin's Eco Simple column about Donating Food - click link above. And no, she definitely did not choose that illustration.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Modern Love, Seascapes, Tompkins Quilting and Nia article links

Seascapes and Rosie Lee Tompkins Quilting reviews by Robin:

Modern Love exhibition article by Robin:

Nia "Happy Feet" exercise article by Robin:

Robin's new Eco Simple column for the Examiner - unfortunately, our MacBooks can't access the PDF URLs, so the only way we can see and share is by reading the Examiner 7/13/08 edition online -- (baltimore or dc editions)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Believe Your Eyes, Not the Lies

Click the title above to see the reality of how factory farmed animals are treated. Or just click this video to screen:

Svengali of Materials: Martin Puryear

Click the title to link to the Examiner article.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Murder, Mayhem, Spies!

Click the title above to link to my article about the Newseum's exciting new FBI exhibition.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Patchwork ABQuilt

Diebenkorn in New Mexico

Richard Diebenkorn left “the School,” or California, probably sensing the tensions. He came to Albuquerque; no, he did not miss the ocean, since the big sky replace the sea.

On his first single-engine plane ride, he observed the world as a patchwork of quilted landscapes. The pilot dipped into the Grand Canyon, and this established the abstract artist’s sense of scope and magnitude.

A California art-scene couple, the Kaplans, brought a lot of his ABQ work back home, shopped it around and eventually used his work as a basis for their own gallery.

Diebenkorn moved around with his wife and two kids. Never having much money during this most creative times, he learned to drive a taxi. A teaching assignment enabled him to skip that side-job. He forged his way into academia, enduring other professors’ scorn because his work was so out there.

Regarding titles as limiting, most of his work is untitled. Rolls of canvas were lost during moves. He had stored many on an in-law’s property that mysteriously disappeared when the property was sold. The artist was so prolific that many documented works are now notated “whereabouts unknown.”

Scour yard sales in New Mexico, and perhaps you’ll luck upon a Diebenkorn original.

- Posted by Kevin Tierney

On view at the Phillips concurrent with Brett Weston: Out of the Shadow. See gallery details in Robin’s “Silver” post that follows.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Striking Silver Out West

Brett Weston: Out of the Shadow

Brett Weston: Out of the Shadow – Stunning retrospective new on view at the Phillips Collection in DC June 21-Sept. 7.

In 1929, 18-year-old Brett Weston notated on a photographic print “Point Lobos Rock form – done before E.W. worked on Weston Beach.” Pride, defensiveness, simple desire to document a detail – whatever the inspiration for his inscription, young Weston made his own mark beyond being a legacy of a legend.

Edward Weston was one of the world’s most highly regarded early photographers. Fortunately, Edward also nurtured his offspring’s talent and recognized him as a prodigy (and in this case, the parent was right). Clearly, silver runs in the Weston family DNA.

The son gets to shine in a new Phillips Collection exhibition of 75 black and white photographs taken from the 1920s through the 1980s.

Born 1911 in Glendale, Cal., Brett left school at age 13 to accompany dad to Mexico. Within a year, precocious sharp-shooting made his life’s calling obvious. Father-son photographic journeys would continue, with each growing as separate but equal artists.

The younger Weston took natural forms and imbued them with abstract lyricism. Crackled mud flats, strands of kelp rising from the sand. The rhythm of broken glass echoes the tidal pool waves on an adjacent wall. Filigreed foam, fringed fronds, lava flow and unmoored glacier ice beckon like micro-worlds. Supple skin punctuated with coarse spiked whiskers is revealed to be a curvaceous cactus. Driftwood morphed into a mutated sea mammal, eyes searching for an escape route.

Brett reframed the complex, rescaled the expansive as graceful, accessible, alternate form, often creating hypnotic effects of which most digit photographers can only dream. Just one example: In “Yucca, White Sands [National Monument” (1947), desert flora resemble two Native Americans in full regalia, facing off as the sun crosses the sky.

Weston the elder made dune shots famous, but Brett was the first to photograph them.

And the clouds – so exotic, surreal. Tendrils and curling fingers hover ominously above Owens Valley. Backdrops to a far less developed, eerily silent San Francisco, rolling hills still exposed. These are marvelous shots.

Glacier ice formations Alaska. Dunes in Oceano. Cactus Santa Barbara. Pines in Fog Monterey. Weston’s singular POVs of natural elements are curiously complemented by uncanny perspectives of material manmade, such as metal rooftops, window reflections, and cracked paint. With absolutely no manipulation, electronic or otherwise. Weston knew intuitively how to zoom in on clutter to crystallize detail, distilling beauty from chaos. Each image invites the viewer to identify and interpret the subject.

Few of Brett’s images feature the human form; that was the province of the father, whose cunning compositions suggest a sharp wit and keen eye for the seductive.

Later in life, Brett decided he did not want any negatives printed after this death. So it’s said that he celebrated his 80th birthday party in 1991 by tossing most of said negatives into a fireplace. The few that survived were permanently scored to prevent reprinting. He died in two years later.

Brett’s self-portrait depicts a young man sufficiently handsome to have made a career on the other side of the lens. And in fact, he did score a small bit in “Captain Blood,” a 1935 Errol Flynn flick, and his playboy exploits gave rise to the male lead of “Love Affair” and “An Affair to Remember.” The Phillips exhibition makes us give thanks for his unflinching focus on land, sky and city.

Father and son continued to influence one another as the decades rolled on. Edward Weston enjoyed greater fame; Brett made more money. Perhaps Edward came out ahead in the pleasure category, seeing his progeny make his own mark, shadow be damned.

Also worth considering:

* Lecture by Stephen Bennett Phillips, curator of Brett Weston: Out of the Shadow. July 10 at 6:30 pm.

* Artful Evening Gallery Talk “On Location – Following Weston and His Camera”. July 31 at 6 pm and 7 pm.

* To share the photographs and father-son story, pick up the companion volume – giftably priced at just $25.

The Phillips Collection
1600 21st St., NW
Tuesday through Saturday, 10 to 5
Thursday Artful Evenings 5 to 8:30
Sunday from 11 to 6

The Phillips Collection
1600 21st Street, NW
Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday Artful Evenings until 8:30 p.m.
Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Photo credits:
Cactus, Santa Barbara, 1931 and Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska, 1973
By Brett Weston (1911–1993)
Gelatin silver prints, © The Brett Weston Archive

Friday, June 13, 2008

Stress-Bustin' at the Spa

Click the title above to access the article on Quantum Biofeedback at VH Spa in Scottsdale. Appeared in various editions of the Examiner newspapers.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Little Rock Rocks!

Click title above for travel article about cool new stuff to do in Little Rock, from biking across the Big Dam Bridge to touring the miniature White House.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Training Elephants

Click title, which links to video presenting the reality of how circus elephants are trained and treated.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Saturday, May 31, 2008

School Tragedies - Lessons Learned

Click on the title above to access the article, which ran this weekend in various editions of the Examiner.

Friday, May 30, 2008

On the Beach: High Tide at National Gallery

New colossal photography show - click link for review. And since the info box was deleted in some of the editions due to space, here is info about the venue and exhibition duration:

Richard Misrach: On the Beach
On view through September 1
National Gallery of Art, West Building (7th and Constitution, on the National Mall)

The Lure of Lore

This hospitality industry and travel article is now available in the Spring 2008 print edition, and any minute now in the online edition, of HSMAI Marketing Review. Go to

Where your eggs come from

Click title link and see what really goes on

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Beauty and the Beastly: TAXA

A must-see for art- and nature-lovers: TAXA, the new art show on view at the National Academy of Sciences building just west of the National Mall in downtown D.C.

Born in 1954, Isabella Kirkland grew up Richmond, VA. She attended Guilford College, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the San Francisco Art Institute. She was also, for a time, the only licensed female taxidermist in New York City. Research for her current cycle of work called TAXA takes her to natural history museums around the world. “Taxa”is a Greek word meaning "order" or "arrangement": taxonomy is the science of describing species and fitting them into proper evolutionary order on the tree of life.

To preview some of her works, go to

National Academy of Sciences
2101 Constitution Ave, NW (21st and C St) NW
Washington, DC
Bring Photo ID
Open Monday-Friday 9-5. Meet the artist Thursday, May 29, 6-8 pm

Sad Dads: Postpartum Depression in Fathers

Click link above for the article, which appeared Tuesday May 20 in various editions of the Examiner. Here's another edition:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Migration: Panels of Social Evolution Tell Timeless Tales

The Jacob Lawrence show at the Phillips Collection is at once a homecoming and a reunion. His Migration series has migrated in its entirety back to the Phillips, probably the first time in sixty-some-odd years all sixty panels have hung in the same room at the same time, since the Dupont Circle gallery hosted the original DC show – keeping the odd-numbered half of the panels for what even then was a pittance. Just one thousand dollars.

It’s an unbound picturebook of racial urbanization. Field workers making a dollar a day could double that wage in a Northern factory. (The price of exploitative hand labor is still two dollars a day one hundred years later.)

The hard journey – no interstates, no plumbing, yucky and dangerous.

These humble panels, yellowed paper, stickly frames, spare silhouettes emotionally convey the tenuous times of a century ago. Exchange Latinos for African Americans, multiply by ten, and you have today’s migration. The same tenuous existence, the same hundred years later.

Lawrence laid out all the paper panels and used a dark-to-light, paint-by-number, assembly-line process. He worked with inexpensive casein paints in a highly polished folk style: too expressive to be considered primitive; too informative to be cartoons. His palette is stark and basic. He says he likes paints “right out of the jar” and doesn’t mix colors.

Lawrence is one of the first art stars. He leveraged his work into a teaching career, and the embodiment of the Harlem-developed art, after his WWII Coast Guard stint. In the second room of the exhibit, a marvelous ten-minute video from 2000 shows Lawrence days before his death, verbally reinforcing the painterly basics of light, line, and color.

The Phillips Collection Education Department’s Migration/Jacob Lawrence Teaching Kit is simply super for any group. Lawrence’s emphasis on basic forms and colors is a perfect foundation for budding artists.

Concurrently, art from the Young Artists Exhibition Program will feature works by students age 6 to 16 that explore their own family history.

The Great American Epic
On view through Oct. 26.
The Phillips Collection
1600 21st Street, NW
Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday Artful Evenings until 8:30 p.m.

A free family festival will be held at the Phillips on June 7–8 with live jazz and theater, art activities, puppet shows, and poetry workshops.

Posted by Kevin Tierney

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lawn Ornaments Go Fine Art and more

Click link above for articles about Foggy Bottom Outdoor Sculpture show. Also new shows at the National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. In various editions of the Examiner.

Ocean Beach CA Hippie Haven

Click link above for travel article. Photos in some editions, such as the Baltimore and other Maryland editions. See cover at

No Way Home

No Way Home: The Decline ofthe World’s Great Animal Migrations

By David S. Wilcove

Great and important book about the beauty, loss and possibilities of recovering the magnificent animals - wildebeests to bison, songbirds to sandhill cranes, salmon to right whales - who once massed for amazing migrations across land, sea and sky.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Torch Art, Crayon Sculptures - Nashville Art Scene

Nashville - torch art, crayon sculptures and more. Click link for article.

Muraqqa Mughal Art: Get out the magnifying glass

Glorious Muraqqa Mughal Art at the Sackler. Click link to access article.

Overdrawn at the Bank of Love?

Bank of Love: Are You Overdrawn? In various editions of the Examiner newspapers. Click the link to access article.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Art Oasis in the Desert

click link for the article

Both Hands Blazing: The Unsung Architect of the Look of America

click link for the article

Smart New Cool Tool for Those Who Eat Fish

click link

How Food Choices Affect the Environment

A couple of the good articles from last week's New York Times Magazine. Go to to read their Green issue.

THE HIGH PRICE OF BEEF: Late in February, the governors of Maine, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland and other states received letters from Lindsay Rajt of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, asking them to encourage the citizens of their states to become vegetarians. The governors of those states have been fighting for tighter vehicle-emissions standards as a way to combat climate change. That made them a target for the folks at PETA, who argue that the climate impact of the car pales in comparison to that of the cow. A 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found that livestock production accounts for 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions — more than all forms of transportation combined. Meat’s supersize impact comes from fuel- and fertilizer-intensive agricultural methods of growing feed, all the power needed to run slaughterhouses and meat-processing plants and the potent greenhouse gases produced by decomposing manure. Pork, lamb and poultry all have their impacts, but beef is undoubtedly the Hummer of the dinner plate. Sixty percent of the deforestation in the Amazon River basin between 2000 and 2005 can be attributed to cattle ranching; much of the remainder was cleared to raise corn and soy for feed. And cows, once fed, burp — a lot. Each day, a single cow can burp as much as 130 gallons of methane, a greenhouse gas that traps more than 20 times more heat per ton than carbon dioxide. Trimming the amount of meat Americans eat would not only help the planet — a mere 20 percent reduction is the equivalent of switching from a Camry to a Prius — but would also be likely to reduce obesity, cancer and heart disease. Until recently, it was only animal rights groups like PETA that were willing to ask Americans to forgo the pleasures of the flesh. That changed in January, when Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (and a vegetarian), uttered four little words: “Please eat less meat.” He continued: “This is something that the I.P.C.C. was afraid to say earlier, but now we have said it.” DASHKA SLATER

IS LOCAL ALWAYS BETTER?: From start to finish — from planting seeds to disposing scraps — the food sector accounts for roughly 25 percent of an American’s ecological footprint, according to Susan Burns, a managing director at the Global Footprint Network in Oakland, Calif. “Choices about what to eat have about the same impact, environmentally, as choices about how to drive or transport ourselves,” she says. The average supermarket product travels 1,500 miles to reach the shelf, but Burns concedes that, from a carbon perspective, it can be confusing being green. There’s no one accurate carbon footprint calculator for foods, yet. “To give specific numbers between an apple trucked from Washington State to Massachusetts and a papaya shipped to the grocery store,” Burns says, “you’d have to know everything from the fuel efficiency of the truck to the kind of fertilizer that was used, to the kind of ship the papaya was shipped on.” It is the locavore’s dilemma that organic bananas delivered by a fuel-efficient boat may be responsible for less energy use than highly fertilized, nonorganic potatoes trucked from a hundred miles away. Even locally grown, organic greenhouse tomatoes can consume 20 percent more resources than a tomato from a far-off warm climate, because of all the energy needed to run the greenhouse. Various organizations like the British grocery chain Tesco and the Global Footprint Network itself are trying to design accurate calculators both for carbon outputs and for general ecological impact. But not having them is no reason not to act. Burns recommends the following steps. First, break the packaging habit: “It’s not uncommon for food packaging to use more energy in production than the food it contains,” she says. Next, make it a goal to eat foods that are at once organic, local, seasonal and low on the food chain. Local keeps down the transportation miles. Organic eliminates the high energy costs of pesticides and fertilizers. Seasonal foods do not need greenhouses or long periods of refrigeration. And she notes that the food chain matters, carbon-wise: the CO2 impact of a pound of beef can be 250 times as great as that of a pound of carrots. (Of course, even the most sustainably raised legume racks up carbon points in an inefficient refrigerator.) Lastly, some of the most troublesome aspects of the food cycle occur in disposal. Rotting food is itself an ecological concern, because methane, a byproduct and a greenhouse gas, has an enormous impact on global warming. “Compost and advocate for compost,” she says.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Oceans at Risk – and So Are We

Overfishing and Ocean Health

The oceans have sustained life through the ages. Most people and businesses take it for granted, but fishing practices, pollution and other human impacts have devastated underwater habitats, reduced animal populations, and wiped out species. Ocean ecosystems have been thrown out of balance around the world.

On April 10, a panel of ocean/environmental experts discussed concrete steps that must be taken to save oceans and ultimately sustain life on Earth. On the panel: Philippe Cousteau, president/CEO of Earth Echo; Sylvia Earle, National Geographic explorer-in-residence; Joshua Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group; Barton Seaver, executive chef of Hook in Washington, D.C.; Lee Crockett, director of Pew Environment Group’s Federal Fisheries Program Reform, and participating by phone from Hawaii, William Aila, member of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Council.

While awareness of overfishing is growing, action is lagging. Some things you can do:

* If you eat fish, become aware of species in peril – and change your choices. As with everything, these rules hold true: profits drive business, consumer demand generates profits. Businesses rarely change their ways for moral reasons or place ethics over economics. So change depends on consumers aligning their demands with their values. Ask if a purchase supports exploitation. Vote with your dollars.

* Overfishing means that populations are depleted before the animals can reproduce. Examples include Atlantic Cod; once so common in New England, the stock has collapsed. due to overfishing, catch declined 89% between 1980 and 2006. Bluefin tuna: between 1963 and 2006, landings of this highly migratory species in U.S. ocean territory fell 99%.

* Bycatch results in untold and unnecessary destruction of life. Victims include sea turtles and monk seals who get trapped in irresponsibly cast fishing nets and lines.

* Pressure government to improve and enforce laws. It’s up to citizens to voice support for restoring fish populations and protecting ocean ecosystems.

* Be aware that some of the eight regional fishery management councils have worked to gut existing environmental review procedures and block public participation in fisheries management. Don’t think this helps the individual fisherman – in fact, it hurts them and their communities. Greed is not good.

* Shark fin soup: horrendous cruelty to sharks and ecosystems. As marine biology experts said at a recent meeting, sharks need a public relations campaign. These predators are vital to the balance of ocean life – and their threat to humans is vastly overstated. Why shark fin soup should be eternally banned: to obtain the fins, the fishermen catch the creatures, haul them onto the boats, slice the animals’ vital fins off while they visibly suffer, then throw the sharks back into the sea. The sharks can no longer swim, so you can imagine the horrific ending to their lives. All this just to add an odd texture to a ridiculously priced “delicacy.” Clue: “delicacy” means “you’ve been duped.”

* Don’t expect other countries to adopt environmentally responsible practices before the U.S. does. Lax rules and compliance measures become excuses for others to behave badly.

* Retool regulations. In January 2007, President Bush signed legislation reauthorizing and amending the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), which governs fishery management in federal ocean waters. The law requires managers to establish annual catch limits based on real science, and to end overfishing in U.S. ocean Waters by 2011. The National Marine Fisheries Service is now writing regulations to implement these new requirements.

It’s critical that strong, clear rules are written and enforced, and that the goal is not business interests, but restoring health and balance to ocean ecosystems before it’s too late.

* Fishery managers must be held accountable.

* Remember the dolphin-safe tuna campaign? That successful effort started with people, not government policies. Push up from the grassroots. Speak up, and vote with your dollars.

* Kids and adults need to learn about the origins of the food that’s largely taken for granted.

More info:

Free fact sheets on overfishing and the National Environmental Policy Act

Conserve Our Ocean Legacy

Marine Fish Conservation Network

EarthEcho International

The Ocean Conservancy

A petition to voice support for healthy oceans

Friday, April 4, 2008

OPRAH Exposes Puppy Mills and Shelter Dog Realities

OPRAH show on puppy mills, animal shelter realities and abandoned dog issues. Aired Friday, April 4, 2008. Watch it –Oprah has done what mainstream pandering media outlets have long failed to do (yep, I'm saying this issue is more important than Britney and American Idol).

Also, here are a couple of good, concise articles related to the exposé. The first includes video clips and photos of some of the dogs. The second features a photo of the billboard that inspired Oprah to produce the puppy mill program.

Do Good and Do Well

Recommended Reading:

Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow (Wiley; March 2008) Authors Jim Hightower and Susan DeMarco uncover unsung heroes in business, politics, health care, farming, religion, and other areas who are taking charge, living their values, doing good, and doing well. These self-reliant folks are doing what the world’s power brokers, naysayers, pessimists and garden-variety conformists claim can't be done: changing lives and making a difference. Read it and maybe you’ll be inspired to tap into your maverick potential and chart a more rewarding path for your life.

It Came from the Technosphere

Some of the interesting ideas and stuff we found at FOSE, the huge government technology expo in DC last week:

Web 2.0 Tools for Better Living: Tech wiz writer/pundit David Pogue screened his riotous and wry home productions, including his own song parodies (on the set list: “You’re being sued by the RIAA” to the tune of Y.M.C.A.).

Among Pogue’s Web 2.0 favorites: A way to save cell phone minutes – instead of listening to voice mail, get Spinvox or Simulscribe to convert messages to text. Free TV onine – timeshifting, and with fewer and shorter commercials. Trip Advisor, through which travelers share notes that you need to hear but won’t from travel agents. Micro loan sites for those looking to earn higher interest on idle cash and those in need of a loan to escape debt or build a business here or in third world countries. GoLoco carpooling database for getting/giving rides to work or the mall ... Who Is Sick? spreads the word about the spread of illnesses...drilling down to neighborhood level, it’s great for parents of young kids.

Digital Age vs. Digit: Observed Pogue: “Gadgets are getting smaller and smaller, while our fingers stay the same size.”

Tech Trash Tech: Media packaging generates lots of waste. Companies such as Univenture lessen the landfill burden with smart eco-friendly packaging for software and other media. Components include PLA renewable film made fom plants and biodegradable/compostable poly. They now offer eco-friendly, archival-safe presentation and storage media for large-format documents.

The Boom: UmeVoice’s noise-canceling headset for cell phones. Bring on the maddening crowds.

Green Ideas: Consumer and industrial electronics emit heat; wouldn’t it be great to tap it? Until organizations learn to harness it, they would benefit their operations with smarter, more efficient selection, siting and operation of equipment. Consider how much heat a large bank of equipment releases in a facility. The heat can reduce the efficiency of the equipment, thwart its operation, accelerate breakdown, repair costs and replacements, increase power consumption and energy bills, and so on. This equipment-generated heat is a huge negative when, as is usually the case, it is waste. But it could be recaptured and turned into an asset, with an investment in ... more technology. Chosen correctly, the effect would be a net positive. Other ways to improve efficiency: better selection and siting of the equipment. As with most things, one size does not fit all.

E-Waste: How to Dispose Old Computers, Phones and other retired tech stuff

The march of obsolescence and consumers’ voracious appetite for acquiring new things generates so much waste that we humans may be buried alive before climate change catches up with us.

RIP: Rest in peace ... and pieces ... ol’ electronics

The issue figured big at several tech-focused conferences this April. At FOSE, the government-centric tech show, panelists discussed the growing need for detailed procedures, and not just vague “green” commitments, for disposing and recycling tech equipment and supplies. This represents a growth market for vendors.

Secure disposal of computers and other tech devices containing work, personal and other sensitive data is becoming a big business. e-End is one of the “Electronics End of Life” companies that pairs environmentally responsible recycling with “total sanitation” of your electronic equipment. Benefits include pick up and an “unbroken chain-of-custody from your facility to ours”). This one’s in Frederick, MD. Check out

Insiders at the Consumer Electronics Association’s Washington Forum also discussed electronics recycling. There’s an emerging market worldwide for dismantling and recycling/reusing the components of decommissioned electronics. But in addition to economic questions are moral ones.

For example, while it’s good to support dismantling and reuse businesses in developing nations, what about those in which the employees are exposed to toxic materials and not protected from injury? Or businesses with practices that while harvesting the high-value raw materials still discard low-value stuff in an un-green manner – even allowing toxins and other pollutants to contaminate the environment?

What’s needed: proper recycling infrastructure and practices. And to protect people and the environment: monitoring – self, industry/peer and the nonlibertarian fallback of government oversight.

Some states have enacted requirements for manufacturers to bear some responsibility for managing used materials. A trend: some recyclers do initial dismantling in the U.S. and then sending partially dismantled parts abroad.

Got old stuff to trash? Here are sources to help you get it recycled/reused instead of filling landfills:

Environmentally and socially responsible recycling for mobile phones, pagers and PDAs

Share the Technology
Locates organizations that process equipment for reuse instead of recycling

Computers for Schools
Locates schools seeking tech goods

Cristina Foundation
Supports training of the disabled, homeless and underserved youths through donated technology

Consumer Electronics Association
Guide to electronics reuse and recycling and locating to electronics recyclers by zip code:
Simple, safe, environmentally responsible way to recycle; provides free shipping and ensures personal data is cleared.

Community-based online give/take message boards

Thursday, April 3, 2008

High Def Jam: Will Your TV Leave You in the Dark?

The end of analog TV – over-the-air signals received by antenna – was a key topic of the Consumer Electronics Association ( Washington Forum on April 2-3.


After February 17, 2009, all full-power TV stations will broadcast only in digital. So if you don’t have cable or satellite or HDTV, you’ll have to do something. Otherwise, your analog TVs that rely on antennas to pick up channels and that do not have digital tuners will go dark.

What to do:

If you don’t want to buy a new TV or subscribe to cable or satellite, shop for a TV converter box.

How to save money:

The Fed government has launched an appx $1.5 billion (ouch said the taxpayer) initiative provide households with up to two $40 coupons to put towards a TV converter box or two. Depending on features, the boxes will cost between $40 and $70.

How to get your coupons:

The coupons are free, but the supply is limited. Applications are now being accepted up to March 31, 2009.

Important: the coupons expire within 90 days of receipt and cannot be reissued, so time your purchase accordingly.

Ways to get your coupons:

* Call 1.888.388.2009

* Go online

* Or send a letter to: TV Converter Box Coupon Program, PO Box 2000, Portland OR 97208


Electronics contain substances that are definitely bad for the environment, which (for those who don’t care much about animals or planet Earth) includes people. Toxic stuff leeches into the ground. So: recycle.

At the conference, panelists discussed the issue. Just-released study results indicate that households receiving broadcast signals only over-the-air expect to remove fewer than 15 million TV sets from their homes through 2010. About 95% are expected to be donated, recycled or sold (hmmm....wonder who’s buying?). Some 48% of the affected folks expect to buy a digital converter box and keep using their old faithfuls.

According to the survey, consumers report recycling nearly 30% more TVs in 2007 than in 2005. That trend also extends to other CE categories. While only 3% more devices were removed from homes in 2007, 27% more devices were recycled. The number of home electronica winding up in the trash reportedly decreased by 7% between 2005 and 2007.

How to give those old sets away:

Some folks use them as extra monitors, some for parts, some to pick up independent channels that we’re told pulse somewhere out in the airwaves. Some great websites for giving away all manner of stuff follow. They have local web communities; click and you’ll find one close to you:

CEA offers a helpful website about reuse and recycling of electronics and also lists electronics recyclers by easy-share zip code:

Convert Your Mom

In some areas, it’s a good bet that senior citizens knew about the analog-to-digital transition way ahead of the iPod and home theater generations. But to make sure golden agers get the news, the Consumer Electronics Association has recruited Florence Henderson – Carol Brady, the mod matriarch, on “The Brady Bunch” – for its Convert Your Mom public awareness campaign.

We think The Golden Girls would have been a cool choice. Or even just Maude.

More info:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Go on a Conservation Expedition: SEE Turtles

One trend that makes us feel a little better about the future is conservation tourism. Most of us don’t realize the impact of recreational activities on Earth and its animals, but conservation tourism encourages travel activities that help instead of harm.

At the Adventures in Travel Expo last week, we discovered a fantastic new travel choice for people who love the great outdoors – and the creatures we share it with.

SEE Turtles has been developed by the Ocean Conservancy to raise awareness about the threats imperiling sea turtles while enabling tourists to behold these incredible beings.

Nesting turtles are supersensitive, so disturbances discourage them from laying their eggs. Please take these easy tips to help protect them:

* Keep beaches clean of litter – sadly, turtles can confuse plastic for food and choke.

* When in their nesting sites, do keep quiet and wear dark clothes...and don’t use camera flashes, light fires, make loud noises or drive on the beach.

* Don’t feed the turtles and other wildlife; risks include making them sick and losing their natural caution that helps them stay alive.

* When boating, slow down in turtle territory and near sensitive habitat like coral reefs and sears beds.

* If you eat seafood, eat only humanely caught. Turtles are among sea animals that become bycatch and drown in nets due to fishing practices of those who care only for speed and profit.

* Keep a respectful distance from turtles. The best way to observe them is part of an eco-tour such as SEE Turtles.

Threats to sea turtles include entanglement in fishing gear, loss of nesting and feeding sites, poaching and pollution.

Interesting turtle facts:

* Sizes vary from Kemp’s ridley, weighting about 80 pounds to the leatherback, who can tip the scales at more than 1,000 pounds.

* Loggerhead turtles often nest in Japan and migrate to Baja California Sur to forage for food. Leatherbacks are found as far south as Chile and as far north as Alaska.

SEE Turtle and other eco-tourism options can be enjoyed in Costa Rica, where green turtles nest on its Caribbean coast. In the 1950’s, Tortuguero National Park on Costa Rica’s North Caribbean coast, became the world’s first sea turtle nesting beach conservation project. Baja California Sur is another critical habitat region for sea turtles.

One SEE Turtle package-deal expedition involves tracking and tagging Baja’s endangered black sea turtles. Tour guides include Cesareo “Charo” Castro. Born, raised and still dwelling in Lopez Mateos on Baja California’s Pacific coast, he hails from a fishing family and a culture that once valued eating sea turtles. Charo has made it his miss to protect sea turtles and help people learn about these fascinating animals.

See for info on sea turtles and turtle-focused tours offered with partners including EarthWatch Institute.

Photos courtesy of Neil Osborne

Monday, March 24, 2008

Giga-normous Gov'ment Tech Expo

FOSE, the giga-normous tech confab for government folks, comes to the Washington Convention Center April 1-3. It's worth visiting, especially considering the all-star keynote line-up, which includes top execu-visionaries from Google and Sun Microsystems, premier tech guru/writer/commentator David Pogue, and the wizard behind the Mars Rover. Check out

And for those of you who missed Robin's prior Conventional Wisdom coverage of FOSE for the City Paper, here it is:

FOSE 2007

The Industry:

cutting-edge information technology

The Attendees:

25,000 technocrats on reconnaissance for the newest micro-, macro- and giga-gadgetry

The Issues:

Acc-sex Denied: Reduced productivity isn’t the only cost of employees and contractors visiting gambling, porn and other inappropriate websites on government time and dime. Even something as seemingly benign as streaming music eats up valuable bandwidth, slowing e-mail to snail’s pace. Offensive images seen by a passerby can be construed as hostile action or harassment, leading to lawsuits. And clicking on that virtual voyeur image or movie clip can download viruses, malicious code, and spyware. Sp8e6 Technologies unveiled a new URL filtering device that “manages the threat from within.” It can automatically block users from visiting inappropriate sites, flashing a message such as “Access Denied; see our acceptable use policy.” Or perhaps “Welcome to” The filter, which works with existing hardware and architecture, also prevents enterprise-wide data and intellectual property leakage.

Watch Doctor: After launching and selling his first company at age 17, Eric Hines is donating a percentage of his current venture, Applied Watch Technologies, to the American Indian College Fund. He introduced version 4.0 of his platform for enterprise open source security management, nicknamed Shaman, defined as an intermediary between this and next world. The software thwarts attacks that defeated network defenses.

Dancing with the Feds: Cobalt Flux touted its pro-grade Dance Dance Revolution dance platforms as the next step in government and military fitness. “It’s one of the few forms of exercise people voluntarily do,” explained salesman Matt Anderson while calibrating a new song.
Coming in 6 months, he divulged: “DDR with arm motions!”

How Green is My CPU: A recent Presidential executive order mandates that all federal agencies buy computers that meet criteria set by EPEAT™ (Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool). At a show floor press conference, one speaker itemized benefits expected from 4 years of purchasing EPEAT-registered computers. Among them: saving $71.4 million in energy, the equivalent of making 72,630 households power-free for a year; reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 64,700 metric tons, equal to making 51,317 cars emission-free; reducing toxic materials by 75.1 metric tons, the equivalent of 37,550 standard bricks; reducing hazardous waste by 2,820 metric tons, the equivalent of 1.4 million standard bricks; and reducing mercury by 5.7 kilograms, the equivalent of 9,368 mercury thermometers.

New ID: New disaster management products from Salamander Technologies include evacTRAX, which employs machine-readable tags that can be made onsite to track family members, pets, and personal belongings from location to location. Motorola is using RFID (radio frequency ID) for monitoring the movement of luggage, mail, and food. Precision tracking will reduce the staggering annual losses from food spoilage and counterfeit prescription drugs. Tools such as E-Pedigree will protect the “chain of custody” – which includes product brand, recalls, and supply chain tracking. Why are businesses hesitant to go RFID? Their longtime investment in barcode technology.

Vertical Mark-it: That’s no joystick; it’s Wow-Pen Traveler, the new wireless vertical mouse with ergonomic anti-carpal-tunnel-syndrome design, germ-killing silver nano coating, built-in laser pointer, and ability to read sloppy penmanship.

Battle of the Bags: CDW-G lost the biggest-bag title to Best Buy this year, but each scored knockouts on the crowded show floor. Some armed themselves not to tote literature but to use as shields.

Scan-Do Attitude: Kodak’s new i1860 scanner shoots out 200 pages per minute. The Visioneer Road Warrior fires 33 ppm. But it costs just $199, weighs less than 11 ounces, and can slip in an office in a box – handy for soldiers storming bunkers where they’ll need to quick-scan documents for evidence.

Idle Threat: Presenters explained how the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Telework Program attracts and retains exceptional employees, minimizes overhead and real estate costs, and boosts productivity so the agency can keep pace with “the exploding number of patent and trademark applications.” To a base of 600 teleworking examiners, the agency is adding 400 this year, and then 500 a year through 2011 for a total of 3,000. How can USPTO be sure that offsite employees aren’t slacking off? Measuring productivity by a widget metric, the supervisors “know how much work is done down to 2 decimal spaces.” Besides, employees want to be successful so that they don’t have to come back to work full-time in the office.”

Our Space: “It’s not videoconferencing!” Cisco representatives beckoned passersby to demo TelePresence, which saves employers travel time and costs by enabling virtual in-person meetings. The solution combines big point-to-point plasma screens, “the virtual table,” spatial wideband audio, ultra-high definition video, and lower-profile features such as knee-knockers to keep meeting attendees from straying out of camera range. Cisco brought in filmmaker George Lucas’s crew members to help craft the virtual meeting experience; their tips included backlighting to eliminate dark bags under the eyes and neutral tabletops to avoid distracting reflections on light skin.