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Mendocino County Today: Friday, May 9, 2014

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THE NOISE MEETING. Anderson Valley's grapes growers, large and small, have mostly installed giant propellers that raise vineyard temperatures a few degrees to protect budding vines against frost. There are about fifty of them strung out along the valley floor between Boonville and Navarro. There are also a couple of thousand residents of the Anderson Valley whose sleep has been seriously disturbed by ten days of the din raised by these machines, eight of those days occurring on eight consecutive mornings between the hours of midnight and 7am.

WENDY READ is a local person who called a community meeting for Wednesday night at the Philo Grange to discuss what most residents of Anderson Valley, including the winery and vineyard people, consider a major problem.

ROUGHLY 50 PEOPLE attended, with the noise machine delegation probably in the majority and perhaps deluded into thinking that the low turnout of angry citizens unaffiliated with the wine industry means that the protests will end short of legal action. If the industry thinks we'll simply reconcile ourselves to a couple of annual weeks of no sleep, the industry is wrong.

THERE WERE CERTAINLY angry people in the audience. One woman said the noise shook her house and was so generally unendurable that she "felt like going out in my front yard and screaming." Her screams would not have been heard. It's that loud. Another fan victim said the fans reminded her of “Apocalypse Now.” You might think statements like that are overwrought, an exaggeration. They’re not. I can tell you that at my house the 2am shock that caused me to bolt upright in my bed was that same combination of an apocalyptic din accompanied by an earthquake-like rattling of my entire house. I thought a helicopter was landing on my roof. If you are within 500 yards of these things you cannot sleep through them with earplugs, pillows, a pint of Jack Daniel's. (I confess I haven't tried Bill Charles' table fan idea, and hope I won't have to next season. Bill says if you keep a small fan on in your bedroom while the giant fans are on next door, the small fan somehow cancels out the big one. Hmmm. I'd like to see a physics work up on that one, but Bill says it worked for him [actually for his wife], and his big fan is only a few yards from his house.)

BY EVEN the loosest legal definition, the roar of these machines represents injury to their neighbors, and would be injurious even in daylight hours in an industrial area. They violate Mendocino County's own noise ordinance in all three respects — decibels, duration, and hours of the night — and they violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the County's Right To Farm ordinance.

MS. READ began the meeting, which was cordial throughout, by saying, "It's really good that as a community we are coming together to solve problems."

IF THE PROBLEM is solved short of the courts, and unless the machines are modified or moved to radically reduce their illegal din to the levels specified by the County’s noise ordinance, the problem will definitely go to court, it will be solved by the wine people recognizing that the problem is entirely their baby and they will have to do something about it.

THE GRAPE PEOPLE say that in the unprecedented drought we all find ourselves in, they have no choice but to deploy wind machines because water is scarce. Most of us understand that and even sympathize with the grower's dilemma, but two hundred of them can't expect two thousand of us to forgo rest from midnight to dawn for two weeks every year.

THE GROWERS seemed to have three major themes in their remarks:

1. If everybody just understood how wonderful they are with their “fish friendly farming” practices, and the difficult position they’re in because of the drought, we’d all stop complaining. They insisted time and again that they normally would be depleting the valley’s rivers for frost protection, but now there’s not much water so they just have to blow the air around. Ted Bennett of Navarro vineyards said if it came down his grapes or people’s sleep for some number of nights, he’d prefer his grapes. He seemed to think that the complaints were nothing more than a prelude to a lawsuit, although no one had mentioned that.

2. They tried to change the subject to things entirely unrelated to the fan noise problem — other farming nuisances, their own children (one grower actually argued that the fans couldn’t be that bad because his kids are getting good grades in school), jobs, etc.

3. They’re studying how to reduce the noise levels a bit by tweaking when they turn them on, having people out in the vineyard turn them on and off instead of using computerized settings, looking at lower speeds, maybe, someday quieter fans. (None of these things, however, even in the unlikely event a few growers did them to some degree would improve the situation much. As one attendee said after the meeting, “They seem to think that if they reduce the noise from ten helicopters landing on your house to eight helicopters, they’ve accomplished something.”)

MARK SCARAMELLA pointed out that it seemed like even the growers agreed that their fans are a nuisance, so they should simply comply with the County’s noise ordinance.

Interestingly, the growers never invoked the County’s “Right To Farm” ordinance which some people think gives them carte blanche to make as much noise as they want whenever they want as long as they think it’s saving a few grapes. Scaramella was ignored by both the fan victims and the growers.

HARD TO SAY how intransigent the wine people will become. They were conciliatory at last night's meeting. They have a year to work on noise reduction. It remains to be seen if they'll try. I predict some will, some won't. And I predict us, the Pajama People, will be forced to seek the protection of our wine-beholden courts.

5TH DISTRICT SUPERVISOR HAMBURG did not attend the meeting. We've written to him for his "position" on the issue in the hope it won't be prone.

AFTER THE MEETING, as we shuffled out into the chill of the night sending silent prayers skyward that the temps wouldn't drop into the Clamor Zone, I enjoyed a brief go-round with a kid from one of the vineyard families. (I didn't get his name and, as an old person, he definitely looked like a kid. I'm not trying to patronize the child.) Smart and articulate, The Kid had spoken earlier in the meeting about how he resented being referred to as one of the Noise People. I introduced myself as the proud author of that designation. The kid is militant for the fans. He marveled at the person who'd complained that she couldn't sleep with her windows open. "Who sleeps with their windows open in the winter?" he demanded. "I do," I said, "and so did Benjamin Franklin." I didn't say that Franklin had died of pneumonia, and The Kid looked at me like, "Well, I'll have to humor this old gaffer because he's obviously a little senile." We went on talking and even he wound up conceding that the machines make too much noise and that the Noise People were really, really trying to do something to quiet them down. "I just hope it rains next year," he said.

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Changes in the timing of streamflow reduce water supplies for competing demands. Sea level rise, erosion, inundation, risks to infrastructure, and increasing ocean acidity post major threats. Increasing wildfire, insect outbreaks, and tree diseases are causing widespread tree die-off and significant agricultural impact.

With craggy shorelines, volcanic mountains, and high sage deserts, the Northwest’s complex and varied topography contributes to the region’s rich climatic, geographic, social, and ecologic diversity. Abundant natural resources – timber, fisheries, productive soils, and plentiful water – remain important to the region’s economy.

Snow accumulates in mountains, melting in spring to power both the region’s rivers and economy, creating enough hydropower (40% of national total) to export 2 to 6 million megawatt hours per month. Snowmelt waters crops in the dry interior, helping the region produce tree fruit (number one in the world) and almost $17 billion worth of agricultural commodities, including 55% of potato, 15% of wheat, and 11% of milk production in the United States.

Seasonal water patterns shape the life cycles of the region’s flora and fauna, including iconic salmon and steelhead, and forested ecosystems, which cover 47% of the landscape. Along more than 4,400 miles of coastline, regional economic centers are juxtaposed with diverse habitats and ecosystems that support thousands of species of fish and wildlife, including commercial fish and shellfish resources valued at $480 million in 2011.

Adding to the influence of climate, human activities have altered natural habitats, threatened species, and extracted so much water that there are already conflicts among multiple users in dry years. More recently, efforts have multiplied to balance environmental restoration and economic growth while evaluating climate risks. As conflicts and tradeoffs increase, the region’s population continues to grow, and the regional consequences of climate change continue to unfold. The need to seek solutions to these conflicts is becoming increasingly urgent.

The Northwest’s economy, infrastructure, natural systems, public health, and vitally important agriculture sector all face important climate change related risks. Those risks – and possible adaptive responses – will vary significantly across the region. Impacts on infrastructure, natural systems, human health, and economic sectors, combined with issues of social and ecological vulnerability, will play out quite differently in largely natural areas, like the Cascade Range or Crater Lake National Park, than in urban areas like Seattle and Portland (Ch. 11: Urban), or among the region’s many Native American tribes, like the Umatilla or the Quinault (Ch. 12: Indigenous Peoples)., As climatic conditions diverge from those that determined patterns of development and resource use in the last century, and as demographic, economic, and technological changes also stress local systems, efforts to cope with climate change would benefit from an evolving, iterative risk management approach.

Temperatures increased across the region from 1895 to 2011, with a regionally averaged warming of about 1.3°F. While precipitation has generally increased, trends are small as compared to natural variability. Both increasing and decreasing trends are observed among various locations, seasons, and time periods of analysis (Ch. 2: Our Changing Climate, Figure 2.12). Studies of observed changes in extreme precipitation use different time periods and definitions of “extreme,” but none find statistically significant changes in the Northwest. These and other climate trends include contributions from both human influences (chiefly heat-trapping gas emissions) and natural climate variability, and consequently are not projected to be uniform or smooth across the country or over time (Ch. 2: Our Changing Climate, Key Message 3). They are also consistent with expected changes due to human activities (Ch. 2: Our Changing Climate, Key Message 1).

An increase in average annual temperature of 3.3°F to 9.7°F is projected by 2070 to 2099 (compared to the period 1970 to 1999), depending largely on total global emissions of heat-trapping gases. The increases are projected to be largest in summer. This chapter examines a range of scenarios, including ones where emissions increase and then decline, leading to lower (B1 and RCP 4.5) and medium (A1B) total emissions, and scenarios where emissions continue to rise with higher totals (A2, A1FI, and RCP 8.5 scenarios). Change in annual average precipitation in the Northwest is projected to be within a range of an 11% decrease to a 12% increase for 2030 to 2059 and a 10% decrease to an 18% increase for 2070 to 2099 for the B1, A1B, and A2 scenarios (Ch. 2: Our Changing Climate). For every season, some models project decreases and some project increases (Ch. 2: Our Changing Climate, Key Message 5), yet one aspect of seasonal changes in precipitation is largely consistent across climate models: for scenarios of continued growth in global heat-trapping gas emissions, summer precipitation is projected to decrease by as much as 30% by the end of the century (Ch. 2: Our Changing Climate). Northwest summers are already dry and although a 10% reduction (the average projected change for summer) is a small amount of precipitation, unusually dry summers have many noticeable consequences, including low streamflow west of the Cascades and greater extent of wildfires throughout the region. Note that while projected temperature increases are large relative to natural variability, the relatively small projected changes in precipitation are likely to be masked by natural variability for much of the century.

Ongoing research on the implications of these and other changes largely confirms projections and analyses made over the last decade, while providing more information about how climate impacts are likely to vary from place to place within the region. In addition, new areas of concern, such as ocean acidification, have arisen.

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“…wine grape varieties have specific chilling requirements for maturation, warming could adversely affect currently grown varieties of these commodities.…”

“Shifts to new varieties of wine grapes and tree fruit, if indicated, and even if ultimately more profitable, are necessarily slow and expensive. Breeding for drought- and heat-resistance requires long-term effort. Irrigation water shortages that necessitate shifts away from more profitable commodities could exact economic penalties.”

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FRUSTRATED FRISCO DRIVERS fed up having to circle endlessly around trying find a parking space can now use a new app that allows them to buy a spot from someone who is already parked in one. The app, called “Monkey Parking,” connects drivers looking for empty spaces with someone who is also on the app who is willing to give up their prized spot, but for a fee of anywhere between $5 and $20. San Francisco has a severe parking crunch with roughly 500,000 parking spots and 750,000 residents. And that doesn't even include the tens of thousands of drivers who come into city daily.

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KING COLLINS on the MCN ListServe: “Disturbing rumor: Anonymous sources at the meeting [KZYX board meeting last week] said that Norm de Vall's Access show has been cancelled, as well as his highly respected candidate interviews. These sources said that the action was taken because de Vall is perceived as critical of management and that individuals with such views are not allowed be programmers at KZYX or to host an interview type program. What about that, Norman?”


"First I have to make a correction re the ACCESS Program. I chose to leave the regular programming format to do Special Editions of The ACCESS Program beginning in July of 2012. After a brief meeting with Mary [Aigner], I was told that KZYX staff would conduct the interviews; she followed with (and this is almost a direct quote) — ‘Anyone who criticizes the station or enables others to do so won't have a microphone.’ I called again last week and again received a — ‘We've got it covered.’ So much for being a proponent of free-speech and being a volunteer. The real issue here was my launching kzyxtalk enabling anyone to express themselves regarding their radio station and programming while not being able to do so on air. What an irony… Having to go to the internet to ‘talk’ to say what you can't say on the radio.”

EARLIER, DEVALL had written to station manager John Coate: “John, To get new ideas as our political landscape changes. And some of the suggestions received have merit. So no matter who may do the interviews they can be more informative than before. Norman.”

COATE, EVER THE PARANOID, replied, “Is there a reason why your email list is part of this?”

IF THE POINT of this exchange has eluded you, what we have is a respected, long-time resident of the County, a former supervisor, a volunteer at KZYX for many years, treated by the management of the station like a stray dog. de Vall's interviews with local candidates were always highly anticipated, as were his programs discussing local issues with the local people involved in them.

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THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY of Mendocino County takes a stand.



(Sorry, girls. Your youth ain’t coming back.)

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Lay down these words

Before your mind like rocks. placed solid, by hands

In choice of place, set

Before the body of the mind in space and time:

Solidity of bark, leaf, or wall riprap of things:

Cobble of milky way. straying planets,

These poems, people, lost ponies with

Dragging saddles – and rocky sure-foot trails.

The worlds like an endless four-dimensional

Game of Go. Ants and pebbles

In the thin loam, each rock a word a creek-washed stone

Granite: ingrained with torment of fire and weight

Crystal and sediment linked hot all change, in thoughts,

As well as things.

— Gary Snyder

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Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 2014

June 20, 21, 22, 2014 — Boonville, California


Steve Heilig is a longtime reggae and world music journalist, promoter, radio deejay, and enthusiast. While still in school, he began his music writing career with an interview with Bob Marley. For two decades, he was a critic and columnist for The BEAT, a leading world music publication, and others, for which he interviewed such figures as Carlos Santana, Peter Tosh, Milton Nascimento, Alton Ellis, Lee Scratch Perry, Gilberto Gil, Ijahman, Femi Kuti, Bob Andy, Burning Spear, Thomas Mapfumo, Mickey Hart, Ali Akbar Khan, Zakir Hussain, Gregory Isaacs, Baaba Maal, Jimmy Cliff, Bunny Wailer, and many more. He was also a volunteer and then staff member at the Reggae On The River festival for many years, helping manage things backstage and onstage and helping make sure scores of artists were happy to be there. He has attended and covered the SNWMF since the beginning. He was proud to once serve as Alton Ellis’s personal driver, and also to be threatened with personal harm by at least once egomaniacal dancehall star and/or their personal thugs. He's composed and sung a song with Lee Perry, sang along with Bunny Wailer onstage, and played drums for a number of relatively unknown musical outfits, although once very nervously sat in with the late Latin percussion legends Mongo Santamaria and Tito Puente in a funky seaside restaurant in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. He received his MC moniker “Rico Suave” from a longtime best friend and joker who, after watching the video for a questionable song of that name by macho shirtless muscle-bound Ecuadorian one-hit-wonder rapper Gerardo, said “Hey, that guy looks exactly like you!” (the video is on youtube for anybody who wishes to judge for themselves; Weird Al Yankovic did a parody, as did Saturday Night Live). For his “day job” he is a healthcare epidemiologist and ethicist, editor, public health advocate, and environmentalist with over 500 published articles thus far. He also writes for the longtime local Boonville newspaper, the Anderson Valley Advertiser. But even so, roots music and dub plays so constantly in his home, office, and car that his loyal dog Shuggie has taken it upon himself to grow dreadlocks on his own.

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HEMP TO THE RESCUE? An Australian company has developed an industrial material derived from raw cellulose that can be used in place of plastic, resin, composite, and wood. From their website...

hemp-square"Zeoform is a revolutionary material that changes everything. Made from cellulose fibres and water – and absolutely nothing else, our patented process converts cellulose fibres into an industrial strength moulding material capable of being formed into an unlimited array of products. Zeoform is 100% non-toxic, biodegradable, compostable and ‘locks up’ carbon into beautiful, functional forms. A perfect solution for emerging hemp industries and bio-waste nations!

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Zeoform is truly 100% eco-friendly – with no glues, binders, chemicals or additives of any kind. A unique patented process produces a beautiful, versatile, extremely strong material for thousands of products used every day, worldwide.

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Djembes made from Zeoform
Djembes made from Zeoform


  1. Jim Updegraff May 9, 2014

    The meeting in regard to the wind machines really was a waste of time.The wine growers will not stop what they are doing. The only relief for the homeowners is legal action.

  2. Bill Pilgrim May 9, 2014

    Fort KZYX: The candidate interviews have begun. Lambert (the walking twang) did a few last night.
    “Anyone who criticizes the station… won’t have a microphone.” ?!
    There it is, then, the tawdry lib patina is rubbed off to reveal a savage servility to the prevailing order. Substitute “system” or “government” or “capitalism” for “station” and one finds the self-deluding dogmatism that is wrecking our nation is not confined to Inside-the-Beltway D.C.

    (If Heilig plans to MC the Sierra Nevada will he get beforehand all the required vaccinations?)

  3. Rick Weddle May 9, 2014

    re: ‘zeoform’
    Ya ha haaah! It comes more obvious that cellulose chemistry can displace the poisonous fossil feedstocks and fuels we’ve been so long saddled with. Of course, the cellulose chemists knew this, they just got pushed aside…somehow. I’m looking forward to the moment when the Real Power Plant (yep, HEMP!) stands up and takes its rightful and helpful place among our great and wonderful works.
    Put another way, we could say, ‘Listen up, Fossilheads! There has never been any Future in your line of work; now your time is up! And don’t let the door muss your paper posterior on your way out.’
    I just love the way that rolls off the tongue…

  4. Matt B May 9, 2014

    Regarding the Noise commentary… you don’t help your cause by gross exaggeration. I have approx 9 new fans within 1000 yards of my house, and two of those are within 500 yards. Yes it’s loud; yes it sucks, but with double pane windows and ear plugs I have to strain to hear them. There has long been early morning noise in the Valley including: logging, trucking, tractors, frost sprinkler generators, local planes flying circles, helicopters above my house. The fans might be the worst noise ever, but making it sound like the world is ending isn’t the way to get wineries to willing participate in finding solutions.

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