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Wierd attire, great singing.
"The Voca People is an ensemble of 8 talented musician-actors; 3 female singers that bring the very best female sounds (alt, mezzo, soprano) and 3 male singers (bass, baritone, tenor. In addition there are 2 beat box artists that create extraordinary human beat box sounds and are considered to be the best performers in their field. This innovative performance is one of the only acts in the world that combines singers and beat box performers to bring an entire orchestra without any musical instruments. This unique comical and theatrical framework and the mega mixes they bring to the stage - distinguish them from other vocal groups."
-From http://lidorproductions.com/vocapeople/

Cobweb in the Garden

In what looked to be another dry year in Northern California, we got over 2" of rain earlier this week. My friend Louie in Mendocino county reported 5". Never remember this much late rain. Mary spotted this dew-laden cobweb outside her office window. How do spiders know how to spin webs? They anchor them so they'll hold up in wind, then make their lacy tapestry. Do mama spiders teach little ones?

Lloyd to Ohio to Testify on Septic System Scams At Ohio Environment and Natural Resources Committee

I'm flying to Columbus, Ohio Tuesday (May 12) to testify at the Ohio Environment and Natural Resources Committee on a bill (S.B. 100) sponsored by Senator Tim Grendell that seeks to stop Ohio realtors, lobbyists, engineers, and health department regulators from forcing the state's homeowners into new high-tech, expensive, and most often, unnecessary septic system standards.

I got a call from Senator Grendell's office two days ago; they had read my March 2008 article in The Mother Earth News on septic systems scams throughout the U.S. (Click here for article.) They had printed 100 copies of the article to distribute to various people. Would I be interested in testifying. Yes!

Briefly: we published The Septic Systems Owner's Manual some years ago since there was no clear book on septic systems for homeowners. I was fascinated by this method of "on-site wastewater disposal" that used gravity for power (no motors or electricity), and naturally-occurring soil organisms for purification. Talk about something green!

But: "Where there's muck, there's brass."
-Old English saying

There's big money to be made. Right now, throughout the U.S., homeowners are facing self-serving engineers, regulators, lobbyists, realtors, et al, who have a modus operandi something like this: pathogens are (supposedly) discovered in a creek, river, bay, or ground water and assumed to be from failing septic systems. No effort is made (via DNA testing — now available) to ascertain just which mammals are responsible. Cows, deer, raccoons, birds, humans? Homeowners, entire towns are being faced with draconian regulations and, guess what? Huge costs — in my neck of the woods, $40,000 or so. And ironically, environmental destruction with "mounds" — elevated drainfields.

If you're a homeowner and this hasn't happened to you yet, be aware. It's coming. Be forewarned. See chapter 10 from our book, "Excessive Engineering and Regulatory Overkill" by clicking here (There are 5 full chapters from the book on our website that you can read, free of charge.)

So I'm off to Ohio to present a layman's, non-academic, homeowner's perspective on the validity of the gravity-fed septic system. Stay tuned.

Ukulele Ike's Collection For the Ukulele + Ain't She Sweet

I've had this book of ukulele songs for about 60 (ulp!) years. It's got wonderful songs from the '20s and '30s like Five Foot Two, Ja-da, Five Foot Two, Sleepy Time Gal, Toot Toot Tootsie, Peg O' My Heart, I'll See You In My Dreams, and Singin' in the Rain. Best of all it's got graphic diagrams of the chords. Long out of print, there seem to be a few available at http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=Ukulele+Ike+(Cliff+Edwards).

Speaking of songs of this era, I just ran across this youtube clip of a guitar player named Fret Killer doing Ain't She Sweet
Ain't she sweet?
See her walking down the street
Now I ask you very confidentially
Ain't she sweet?

Espaliered Apple Tree

The garden at the San Francisco Zen Center's Green Gulch Farm was started years ago by Alan Chadwick, an English gardener who left behind a wonderful legacy of gardeners and gardens (including the farm at UC Santa Cruz). There's a row of these espaliered apple trees. If you're a gardener living in the San Francisco area, this is a wonderful garden to visit. I believe they're open to the public on weekends.

Inside the Curl with George Greenough and Clark Little

Photos (c) Clark Little: http://www.clarklittlephotography.com/

In 1971, Bob Easton and I were finishing up production of Domebook 2 at his house in Santa Barbara. Bob's next-door neighbor was a surfer named George Greenough, and one night George came over to show us his surfing movie. George had rigged up a waterproof wide-angle movie camera with a motorcycle battery, and had been shooting waves from a kneeboard. George was getting into the tube and recording waves from the inside. I'd never seen anything like it before.

Bob pointed out that regular surfers stood up — conquering the waves — but that George was on his knees, respectful, tucked into the curl, like a martial artist becoming one with the wave. The camera showed the curl, the view of the beach and palm trees at the end, and it would get smaller and smaller, like closing down the f-stop on a camera lens, until George wiped out and there was an explosion of bubbles and light and turbulence.

No one knew George at the time. As the years passed, George went on to become a legendary waterman, with his breakthrough stunning wave images. In 1973, Bob and I got George to bring a new film to my home town, Crystal Voyager. It was directed by David Elfick and combined George's photography with Pink Floyd's Echoes. It was other-worldly in its beauty. I can still see a shot from low down, of a 10' wave at sunrise in Australia, with sunlight streaming through the wave in dappled gold.

Yesterday, Jan Janzen, one of the featured builders in our book, Builders of the Pacific Coast, sent me photos by Hawaiian surf photographer Clark Little, who has obviously taken George's pioneering inside-the-curl view to a new level, showing the seldom-seen beauty of the ocean and its waves. Isn't it incredible, this is just something that is there, that has always existed in nature, and these intrepid watermen have shown us this dazzling beauty?

Tiny House on Wheels For Sale San Francisco Bay Area: $30K

Right in line with our forthcoming book on tiny houses is this 126 sq. ft. house on wheels for sale in Santa Rosa, Calif. for $30,000. See SFgate
It was put up on craigslist a few days ago.
-Sent in by Lew Lewandowski

Ten Books on Architecture, by Vitruvius — Free Project Gutenberg EBook

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci, an illustration of the human body inscribed in the circle and the square derived from a passage about geometry and human proportions in Vitruvius's writings

The concept of building with natural materials is nothing new. It was codified by Vitruvius, who wrote his treatise De architectura at the end of the 1st century BC. The work consisted of ten scrolls, or volumes, and has survived as major work on architecture for over 2000 years. It's now available in ebook form from Project Gutenberg

"Vitruvius is famous for asserting...that a structure must exhibit the three qualities of firmitas, utilitas, venustas — that is, it must be strong or durable, useful, and beautiful. According to Vitruvius, architecture is an imitation of nature. As birds and bees built their nests, so humans constructed housing from natural materials, that gave them shelter against the elements. When perfecting this art of building, the Ancient Greek invented the architectural orders: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. It gave them a sense of proportion, culminating in understanding the proportions of the greatest work of art: the human body. This led Vitruvius in defining his Vitruvian Man, as drawn later by Leonardo da Vinci: the human body inscribed in the circle and the square (the fundamental geometric patterns of the cosmic order)."
-Above quote and Leonardo drawing from Wikipedia

Simple Plywood Cottage in Canyon


Last Friday on a dock. This young seagull let me get real close.

River Housebat

My friend Louie and I paddled up a Northern california river in his canoe to shoot photos of this houseboat on Friday. You can only reach these homes by water. This is a fisherman's hangout, his boat obviously idled by the closing of the salmon season this year. We were going to go farther upriver to check out a few other such setups, but it started raining.

David Hockney Does Paintings on iPhone

Years ago David Hockney's book Cameraworks inspired me to shoot photo collages, which I've been doing ever since. I think he's a wonderful artist. He shares his discoveries openly.