Are There Days You Feel Cursed?

HEALTH TIPS, By Dr. Kathleen Boisen

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Illustration by

Oh yes, who hasn’t experienced a crazy bad day. It’s when everything goes wrong; you spill coffee on your best outfit, you lock your keys in the car, you lose an important phone message, the computer has a virus and is threatening to spread it to the fax machine etc…

And yet there can be a worse curse. In the big picture of life, we sometimes observe ourselves or others caught in a re-run movie of the same unhappy situation. For example, marry a person and divorce the same type of person several times. We wrestle with the same unwanted habit over and over. Quit smoking, then start smoking, enthusiastically join a gym, then don’t go for months. Got on that healthy diet only to find yourself late at night with an empty ice cream carton in your hand. Who ate this? You ponder.

But wait…..there’s good news. Neuroscience has made tremendous progress in the last 15 years to understand how our brain’s neural circuits can be strengthened to generate inner peace, create calm instead of agitation, and a positive focus instead of a negative one. Continue Reading →

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Shipwrecked After Dark

Santa Barbara Photo of the Week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
If you have to be shipwrecked, this is a nice place to do it. Every so often a sailboat slips its mooring in the Santa Barbara area, and it seems more often than not they end up on Butterfly Beach. This shot is from a year or so ago, but I stumbled across it again when I was searching for an image. The exposure was quite long (well long for cameras these days anyway) taken well after sunset, which created kind of a dreamy quality. Well, dreamy unless it’s your boat! -Bill Heller

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Saturdays with Seibert: Dan’s Drawings

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

“Although I’ve been taking photos since I was the yearbook photographer in high school, I started drawing seriously in the late 80′s. Right about the time Reagan left office. By the late 90′s I had a few shows around town and sold a number of drawings. But I never seemed to sell them for what I thought they were worth. At some point I decided to stop selling. I had three favorite subjects, SB landmarks, SB athletes, and the beautiful SB women.

The first few photos are of ones I sold. The drawing of the snow behind the Mission was lost in the Jesusita fire, but thankfully I had a professional take a photo of it and had it scanned. The woman the bought/lost it paid to have another printed on canvass, so it still lives.

This afternoon I opened my closet and started opening boxes of drawings. It was a trip down memory lane. There’s stepladder on my patio and I used it as an easel to photograph everything. Some photos looked washed out but that’s my bad photo technique, they are as bright as ever.” – Dan

snow mission drawing 72
THE  tea gardens night
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His Neck

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Keep the Restaurant at 413 State Street Local

You have probably read about the Snyder family, owners of Pace Food +Wine, 413 State Street, who are giving away their restaurant in a contest. The skills-based contest will start with a $500 entry fee, a YouTube video, and a one-page overview of your concept.  The entrance period ends May 12 with ten people, hopefully local, being selected as finalists before a final cook-off, Top Chef Style. The winner will be announced June 1st and he/she will receive keys to the restaurant, the beer and wine license, plus $20,000 for expenses. Below is a video to help get the word out locally.
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Sledgehammers and Bridges: Two Decidedly Different Approaches to the Problem of Funding Government Infrastructure, Part II

Part II: Bridges
By Sharon Byrne

In the world of politics and government, infrastructure is both cumbersome and unsexy. Who really wants to delve into the minutiae of the present state of ventilation systems in government buildings? Who salivates over paving? Castillo underpass drivers engage in a daily slalom to avoid hitting multiple potholes. But until things reach this level of serious disrepair, almost impassability, the public does not largely get excited about infrastructure. And the least exciting of all infrastructure is that of local government. Interstate-widening projects through Montecito produce opportunity to advance political careers for those who dare to take on the state. Maintaining some county road produces mostly yawns.

Since the public doesn’t typically eagerly gobble up news stories on how many potholes or ventilation systems get fixed, and given a fixed bucket of money, the greatest political gain is to be found in funding those things that constituents want to see happen, like on social fronts. For infrastructure…well….snore. If it’s not too bad, we can delay doing something about it until a) revenues increase or b) it moves up the priority list, usually by hitting crisis point.

After years of fairly dry warnings from municipal and county executives re rising infrastructure deterioration due to inadequate funding, the county and city of Santa Barbara are each approaching their own infrastructure tipping point. Trying to play catch up with delayed maintenance starts making the previously exorbitant cost of replacement look downright palatable in some cases. But would replacement now be necessary if proper maintenance had been performed all along? These are the questions that get threshed out in public hearings on infrastructure.

The good news is that crises can birth new levels of creativity, sometimes forcing the transcendence of existing political structures that would typically narrow the available paths forward. Two very different approaches are thus emerging from the city and county, both pretty creative. Whether the public will agree there’s enough of a crisis to jump the tracks of existing political limitations is the key question.

Bridging the Gaps
A different political reality on City Council allows for a more collaborative approach on capital needs. The city’s capital maintenance needs are put together mostly by civil engineers. Squeaky wheels effect the prioritization process, provided the public wants to engage on PCI figures, the state of an HVAC system in a government building, and other bricks-and-mortar topics. Those that do engage tend to win capital improvements for their area.

Think of it like dealing with your house: you need $100,000 in repairs. You have $10,000 in your bank account. So you prioritize. What do you absolutely have to do to keep living here? Fix the busted pipes first, because you have to have water. And do it right, because otherwise you just keep repairing the old pipes. The driveway has a sinkhole, which looks bad, and is unsafe, but you can park on the street until you have the money for that repair. A publicity stink on your sinkhole could force a shift in priorities, though. The stove is on the fritz, but the microwave will do until you can afford to replace it. Same exercise for government infrastructure. Which things do we absolutely have to do right now? Shelve the rest for later.

Well, ‘the rest’ has gotten rather large over the years, driving ‘later’ into now. So Randy Rowse and Bendy White have teamed up to talk to community groups to help prioritize that big queue of city infrastructure projects in the pipeline. The Redevelopment Agency’s dissolution yanked a bucket of money that was formerly plowed into infrastructure needs. Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds are but a small supplement, and Public Works competes with non-profits for those. When you’re looking at a total capital infrastructure need of $600 million, where do you find the funds? How do you decide what moves first into the queue?

Rowse asks, ‘do you invest in those things that help generate revenues? There’s some logic in doing that. But then there are neighborhood needs that should not be ignored.’

White said city roads also get an average PCI grade of D, though they’re a little better off than the county on average. But sidewalks are in continual need of city repairs. There’s never enough money to do them all, so the areas of most urgent need are prioritized.

Buildings are also an issue, like the police station. Parks and Rec took some of the heaviest cutting in the recession years, and they perform landscaping in the medians in addition to parks. Some medians around town need serious replanting. The easy psychological move is to spread limited funds around as much as possible to keep things from falling apart, or ‘splitting the baby’, as Rowse calls it. Councilmembers have also delved into the nuts and bolts of capital projects, questioning whether they really cost this much, could it be done a different way to reduce costs, etc.

Why did Rowse team up with White? White made the approach as bridge-building between both sides of the political aisle. He feels the present state of infrastructure is a very poor legacy to leave. Rowse agrees readily.

Rowse thinks the outreach could take 6 months, and then they need to figure out how to distill the priorities and bring it back to council. Then it’s time to come up with a menu of solutions, including chipping away at the general fund, bond issues, sales tax and more.

Our county and city have thus taken two decidedly different approaches to one big problem of government infrastructure funding. It remains to be seen how each will prevail, but you can be assured you’ll be hearing a lot more about PCI and HVACs in the months ahead.

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Four Years of Santa Barbara View and Santa Barbara’s Official Color Scheme

Today marks the four-year anniversary of Santa Barbara View! In February 2010, the former site was re-branded in an effort to appeal to a wider audience. Four years later, there have been over 3,100 posts, and 18,000 comments. Over 9,100 locals are friends of on Facebook, with another 2,500 following on Twitter.

Here’s the first post from four years ago:
Did you know that Santa Barbara has an official color scheme?

First what they’re not: Definitely not tropical. And not very Mexican.
Earth tones, yes, but not so subtle. Mediterranean is getting closer.

According to a local historian and writer, Santa Barbara’s distinct colors are white, ivory, adobe, a darker red (on red-tiled roofs) black on wrought iron, and Santa Barbara blue, a blue with a fair amount of green in it. It’s a hard color to describe and match. A lot of local designs use blues, but they’re more a Pacific blue than a true Santa Barbara blue. Santa Barbara blue reflects a town on the coast.


What really makes Santa Barbara colors so special is the way the light shines on the town.

Most of the California Coast extends north-south; not so in Santa Barbara. The city, its shoreline, and the mountains behind it extend east-west. What that means is Santa Barbara is bathed in a soft, often magical south light.

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Water to Wine

Weekly Column by Loretta Redd

The hardest time to get people to believe there’s a drought is when it’s raining outside… so the forecast for a downpour this weekend may do more damage than good.  Psychologically, when the umbrellas open, the mind closes to the habit changes based on catastrophic prediction.

Unfortunately,  it doesn’t change the reality of our situation.

It’s been so dry they’re fishing with slingshots from lawn chairs at Lake Cachuma.  My tee shot at Rancho San Marcos is averaging  400 yards- on the roll, that is, not on the fly.

Santa Barbara City Water Department has done a good job of promoting eco-friendly ideas and recycling incentives, but they were too slow to tap on the brake this time, knowing that drought conditions were historically predictable.

Most local water departments are far better managed than the State.  A Scientific American article (2008) stated that ten percent of water used in California agriculture is equivalent to that of all other consumers combined.  When projects and decisions are tied more closely to election dollars than reality, we end up with the insanity of growing rice in a desert climate.  Rice makes sense in the Louisiana bayou, but not in the dried up Delta.

After paying real-time dollars for future allotments of State water, we find there isn’t any.  Rebate please, Governor Moonbeam, or maybe you can ship down some bottled Calistoga on your bullet train.

In Washington, DC they can print green money but they can’t print water, so I’m not sure where we’re supposed to sprinkle our $183 million in Federal aid for drought relief.   And was that authorization made before or after Mr. Obama spent three days playing a verdant, green golf course in Palm Springs?  Think the Governor advised the Presidential entourage to cut down on their shower times or “mellow the yellow?”

A recent Op-Ed in the LA Times by Stephanie Pincetl and Terri Hogue makes an excellent case for rethinking the way we pay for water.  With a fluctuating supply of water and limited storage capacity, the challenge during times of drought is to make indoor use affordable while encouraging conservation, especially for landscapes.

Their solution is the installation of sub meters which measure exterior water use.  Once interior water use is separated from exterior, it can be priced differently and managed better by the homeowner.  Similar to Santa Barbara, Goleta and Montecito,  the authors report that “neighborhoods with higher incomes use up to three times as much water.”

That makes sense in cases where the properties are larger, but with 80 percent of the water going to keeping non-native plants and rolling lawns alive, it becomes expensive for all of us.  Worse still, we don’t get to enjoy the result of their excess because most of those thriving green plants are hidden behind ten foot walls with iron gates.

The Times article suggests a three tier system of allotment, where the pricing structure increases with higher draws, and outdoor water is priced differently than that used inside the house.  The authors correctly surmise that if water were priced properly, we’d waste less of it.  When I was on the Water Commission,’ ag’ water cost less than residential water…but that was before God turned the faucet off.

The cost of a dual meter isn’t cheap, but at $255 it could soon pay for itself.  The various water districts in our area would have to agree on such installations…and they don’t seem to be able to agree on very much, except that dogs are soon going to be marking their territory with chalk lines.

Meanwhile, the digital dynasties are doing their part to make saving water fun by designing apps for water use.

There’s Captain Plop, which is a water drop shaped Australian character.  Since the Aussies have suffered a decade of drought, locusts, cyclones and floods, they may know something about survival.  then there’s the Drip Detective, and if you want to narc on your neighbor who is sneaking out to water the hedge at midnight, go to H2O Tracker, which allows you to send photos as well as alerts.

After culling through dozens of lists of water saving tips, I offer these tidbits to wade through:  On average, bathing in a shower uses one-fifth as much water as in a tub, so teach your  little ones to either float their rubber ducks and toy submarines in a more shallow bath, or do their scrubbing in the shower.

Another reminder is that the toilet is not intended to be a trash can.  If you use Kleenex to blow your nose, catch a spider, or remove your makeup, resist the urge to flush, but rather deposit it in the waste can.  And, yes, the spider is really dead.

Believe it or not, modern dishwashers use half the water as doing dishes by hand.  If teenagers, husbands or others prefer to use the sink for dishwashing, you’ll save 20 gallons of water a year just by turning off the faucet when not needed.

Going to a professional car wash, especially one which recycles uses only 30-45 gallons compared to up to 100 gallons from that hose at home.  Plus, how imperative is a clean car when so many of you choose a color like silver, because it doesn’t show dirt?

Restaurants should stop offering water to customers unless requested; it both cuts down on water use and keeps more glasses from going through the dishwasher.  And while you’re having that bottle of wine with dinner, consider the phrase “getting wasted” has a dual meaning.

Not only does it take 6 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of wine, but alcohol is a diuretic, resulting in dehydration and ‘dry mouth’ the next morning.   More wine at night leads to more coffee in the morning, which leads to more flushing.

There are probably 300,000 toilets in Santa Barbara County, each using an average of 5 gallons of water, flushing  5 times a day.  Do the math, and do your part…shower with a friend.

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Santa Barbara and Tornadoes

22514b-1000x666According to weather reports, the Central Coast is about to have one of the “strongest dynamical storms in many years, with all the ingredients for a severe weather event, including the possibility of tornadoes which have not been seen in Southern California since March 1983.”

Speaking of tornadoes, Walker A. Tompkins, wrote that one of Santa Barbara’s least-known historical events involves a terrible cyclone which struck the town on the last day of the year in 1878. He noted that there was an appalling loss of property and one hundred lives taken.

Walker tells the story in It Happened in Old Santa Barbara…”The dawn of that memorable December 31 found Santa Barbara whip-lashed by a torrential southeast rain which turned the city’s unpaved streets into a quagmire. Gale force winds and violent thunder over the mountains and sea canceled many plans for New Year’s Eve watch parties in Santa Barbara churches and homes.”

“By nightfall the wind had increased to a gale, piling up heavy surf on the beaches against Stearns Wharf. Then the storm developed into a full-fledged tornado – a Twister. This cyclone, the only one in the history of Santa Barbara, headed for shore, wrecking a Chinese junk in route. It crossed West Beach at the foot of Bath Street, carrying tons of seawater in its whirling vortex… fences and light buildings were removed like feathers. North of Carillo Street the tornado petered out. The destructive funnel tip lifted and its lethal force dissipated skyward. The destruction was confined to the west of State Street along a very narrow path.”

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Bag Free Santa Barbara

On October 15, 2013 the Santa Barbara City Council adopted the Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance. The ordinance prohibits certain stores from providing single-use plastic carryout bags to customers at the point of sale and requires a 10-cent charge for each paper bag provided to customers. For larger supermarkets and stores with a pharmacy the bag ban begins May 14, 2014. So get your reusable bags ready and lets start the countdown to a bag free Santa Barbara:

Continue Reading →

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Working Definitions for Fences, Screens, Walls and Hedges in Santa Barbara, California

hedgeA.  DEFINITIONS.  As used in this Section 28.87.170, the following terms and phrases shall have the indicated meanings:

1.   Arbor.  An open structure typically constructed of latticework or metal that often provides partial shade or support for climbing plants, sometimes referred to as a trellis or pergola. An arbor is not considered an accessory building.

2.   Fence.  An upright structure serving as an enclosure, barrier, or boundary or that visually divides or conceals a parcel, usually made of posts, boards, wire, or rails.

3.   Hedge.  A row of closely planted shrubs, bushes, or any other kind of plant material that forms a boundary or substantially continuous visual barrier. Continue Reading →

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Fences, Screens, Walls and Hedges

hedgeToday, at their weekly meeting, the Santa Barbara City Council will once again discuss hot local topics like fences, screens, walls and of course, hedges!

According the the Agenda, “Overall, public input has maintained a general and constant theme – the City should continue to regulate the height of fences and walls for the general welfare of the community, while allowing staff to approve exceptions to the standards when appropriate. Opinions are more varied when it comes to establishing and enforcing the height limit for hedges.” Continue Reading →

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Congresswoman Lois Capps to Investigate Local Drought and Climate Change


California’s drought as seen from space, Feb. 16, 2014.

Last week, President Barack Obama tied California’s drought to global warming. This week, local Congresswoman Lois Capps requested a congressional hearing to determine if there is a connection between climate change and the unprecedented drought in California. Do you think there is a connection?
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Selma Rubin And Community Of Life

“Selma Rubin And Community Of Life” was one of the most talked about movies at this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival—the first screening at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art was sold out.

Story: When Selma Rubin finds out that a developer is planning to build 1,535 homes in one of the most pristine spots left in California, she decides to stop him. She uses the power of community and saves the Gaviota Coast. Here is that movie made available to Viewers by Bheezan Tulu, the director, who is originally from Iran.
Password: sr&col-media

Selma Rubin And Community Of Life from Living Web Films on Vimeo.

If you’d like to contribute to Mr. Tulu’s kickstarter campaign, click here.

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That Voice Inside Your Head

HEALTH TIPS, By Dr. Kathleen Boisen

Boisen cartoon Feb. 19, 20140001

Illusstration by

You may have noticed a strange voice in your head. Its a mental dialogue that just goes and on. You may have wondered, how does it decide what to say and why do I listen to it? This is an important health concern. After all there is no escape, and it is your inner dialogue.

Many systems have tackled this voice. What is important about the voice is that is can be interrupting you core hapiness, and even causing mental and physical problems.

If you are looking for a “voice in the head instruction book” there is one. It has been a number one New york times Bestseller… it is “The Untethered Soul” by Michael A. Singer. One of the most important books you’ll ever read. I especially appreciate the explanations Mr. Singer gives about the need for this voice through our human evolution, and how in todays world, that might not be helpful, unless of course we can shift the voice to benevolent and helpful.

Here are a few reasons why we have that voice. The human mind is always trying to make sense of things, trying to get comfortable with its environment. We evolved in a big scary world, no road maps or signs, things were dangerous. Who is the enemy? Where is today’s food? What should I do next?

When exploring the human brain with an MRI, experts find that people’s brains light up the most when they are directed to think of a story. Additionally our thinking system has a negative tilt, also a survival mechanism to remember bad events or danger for self protection. when you put these two things together, you can see how much trouble our inner voice can find. Given today’s endless information loop and exposure to bad news from all around the world there is no end to the negativity from our inner voice. Continue Reading →

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Sunset Dog Run

Santa Barbara photo of the week by Bill Heller, click to enlarge.
Sunset Dog Run
Dogs always know how to have the most fun, especially at the beach. These guys were racing up and down the beach at Shoreline Park with seemingly infinite energy. Their people, like my wife and I, were more content to just take in the amazing beauty around us. -Bill Heller

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