Swords to Plowshares at the national weapons labs: Late 70’s/early 80’s

Poster from July 1979 protest at University of California Regents meeting
Poster from July 1979 protest at University of California Regents meeting

In the late 1970’s/early 1980’s, I was part of a movement to convert the nation’s premier nuclear weapons developing labs (Lawrence Livermore in California, and Los Alamos in New Mexico) from labs that primarily focused on research in nuclear weapons to ones that focused on human needs.

The UC Nuclear Weapons Labs Conversion Project (UCNWLCP) was born as a coalition of Berkeley Students for Peace, the Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC, and the War Resisters League West.  Livermore and Los Alamos were managed by the University of California (and still are). Our goal was to use the university’s management influence to press for “swords to plowshares.” We lead teach-ins, held direct actions, brought petitions to the Regents, and build coalitions with University and lab employees and scientists. Continue reading “Swords to Plowshares at the national weapons labs: Late 70’s/early 80’s”

Beach cleanup daily — without leaving your home

photo of trash in garden

Map showing CA waterway cleanup locationsEach third Saturday in September in California, the California Coastal Cleanup Day gathers thousands of people to help clean tons of trash from our beaches and waterways. The 2017 event occurred on September 16th.

If you missed September 16th, and can’t wait until next year, you can start today in without leaving your own property. Continue reading “Beach cleanup daily — without leaving your home”

Before we were scared…

The Scream by Edvard Munch

I wrote this poem in 1998. I think it still applies 18 years later.

Image of "The Scream" by Edvard Munch
The Scream by Edvard Munch
Before we were scared
the streets were our own
we'd wonder the town
and call it our home;

anyone we would see
we could ask for the time
and sometimes we'd even
give us a dime.

Before we were scared
our doors might be locked
but bars didn't exist
our windows to block;

porch lights were turned on
when we were expected,
a motion detector
didn't make us protected.

Before we were scared
we didn't need a phone
inside of our car
only in our home;

our numbers were listed
our names we could find
if we wanted to call us
we really didn't mind.

Before we were scared
our streets all had shops
and sanitized malls
weren't one of our stops;

and guards weren't in stores
only in the banks
the merchants they knew us
they'd give us their thanks.

But when weren't we scared
was it ever that way
is it just what we think
looking back from today;

was life really better
is that just in our heads
to justify our fears
as we lay in our beds.

And if we were scared
and nostalgia's a screen
then we're left in a world
that's not so serene;

and to banish our fears
to some far away ground
we must start making friends
with all us around.

180: Day 17: Short period, a quiz, and Ahmed

screen shot of a Desmos plot

I’m getting so used to 80 minute blocks that I’m not sure how to handle a 40 minute period when it gets thrown at me. Today was a 40 minute period day (five classes in one day, how did I ever handle this?), and I threw a quiz at my students in which they had to use Desmos to plot some data and answer some questions. I love Desmos, but from the results it seems like many of my students still aren’t getting it (I suspected many are letting their partners do the work, thus I gave them this quiz).

After the quiz, some students were discussing Ahmed Mohamed and his clock. We talked about it a bit as a class; I encouraged them to not immediately throw in the ‘race card’ without knowing more about the school (it’s very diverse, as is the administration and faculty). I did not deny that racism may have been involved, but I suggested they not call someone names unless they know more of the details.

Here’s a petition I wrote asking the principal and police chief to apologize to Ahmed. It has about 6,000 signatures in the first 24 hours, and it was mentioned in Cosmo!

Why we should move the “Rebel flag” to museums and take if off our public spaces

Rebel Flab
“Rebel flag”

I’m writing to my fellow white people, many of whom I have seen write emotionally about why they fly the “Rebel flag” (often given other correct and incorrect names, so I’m going to put it in quotes for the rest of this article not out of disrespect, but just to acknowledge that the image has many names, and I’m only using one of them).

The “Rebel flag” is something many people want to keep flying, and they see no problem with it being flown to represent their culture and history. I’m going to try to explain to you why I believe the flag should be removed from prominent public display, either flying as official government display, or as bumper stickers, window decals, and other personal displays.

OK, I realize that to many of you the flag does not represent racism. I get that. It represents, to you, a culture of the South that was (and continues to be) very different from the North. My US roots are from California (four generations back) and Maryland (part of the North, but with many Southern “tendencies”). I can’t say I have strong Southern roots, but I’m not completely without them either.

I’ve traveled in the South, but never lived there. That being said, I appreciate the generally slower paced life in the South. I have known African-American friends who have moved “back” there after life in California wore them out, or didn’t feel like “home.”

Yes, I know our country has a history of racism in both the North, South, and “West.” When we haven’t had people of extremely dark skin around us, many Northerners picked the “other” Europeans (e.g. Irish and Italians) to inflict their racism on.

I also understand that the Civil War wasn’t just about slavery. The North wanted the South to keep producing agricultural products, and ship them only to the North so the North could manufacture them into something new and ship them back to the South for a profit. The agricultural region of a country is generally the least well-off financially. Northerners were happy to keep it this way. (Not that everyone in the North was happy and wealthy, just look at all the child labor and factory deaths.)

When it came to the slavery debate, there were people in the North who supported it, and people in the South who opposed it. Neither side can be categorized as “all good” or “all bad.”

ship modified to hold slaves
Ship modified to hold slaves, perhaps something my great, great…grandfather sailed.

We probably all have our bad histories. Some of us even can identify it—in my family, there is a rumor that on my mom’s side there was a ship captain who participated in bringing slaves into the US after this practice was outlawed in 1808. (And, as one of my cousins pointed out, this ship would have been flying the flag of the United States of America, not the “Rebel flag.”) While my current family certainly didn’t directly inherit wealth from this lucrative venture, it is likely a part of my family history—and perhaps earnings from this “business” may have allowed some of my relatives to move “upward” after this, with this “affluence” making its way through the generations to end up helping my mom be able to afford college, and maybe even helped me to buy the laptop I’m typing on.

So, I’m not trying to point fingers at the past. I’m writing about the impact of public display of an image that causes pain to so many. For many people, the “Rebel flag” does represent slavery. Slavery is one of the reasons the South separated from the United States.

My question to you is, how much pain would it create in you to not display this flag?

Think about it for a minute. When some folks see this flag, they are instantly angry at you, and you cause them pain. Do you really want that? Yes, I understand you don’t think they should be angry at you, but they are. And I think their anger can be understood, even if it means they may not understand your reasons for flying the “Rebel flag.”

Remember, the “Rebel flag” was used in the 20th Century by the KKK in protests against integration, voting rights, and on and on. I’m sorry the flag was flown during lynchings, but it was. These are things living people remember, not just a part of history from books.

We are one nation. Most Southerners I know of are proud to be part of the USA—I think part of them is happy that after the Civil War we retained our status as a single nation.

So, I ask you to please let go of this symbol. In our living together, we all may have to let go of some of our prized possessions. I’m sorry to have to ask you to do this, but it just pains me and other too much when the “Rebel flag” flies.


Lee Trampleasure, white European-American mutt.

PS. Perhaps this could be a time to create a new logo/flag that represents the good things about the South. There are many great artists from the South, perhaps there could be a contest to develop a design that brings to light the things you are proud of about your heritage, in a way that doesn’t have such a negative impact on people. Just a thought…

The value of multi-modal trips

Dirt road along levee

In transit lingo, “multi-modal” trips are those that use different modes to get to a destination. A common version is bike to bus/subway/rail, either taking the bike on the vehicle or locking it before one gets on. Today I had a wonderful trip that was multi-modal by accident.

The “out” trip was planned as multi-modal: I live in Berkeley and had a mid-day meeting in Redwood City. These cities are on opposites sides of the San Francisco Bay, and I decided that I would take two trains (BART subway and CalTrain diesel passenger/commute train) and ride the short distances between destinations and stations. I left home and rode five blocks to my local BART station, where I brought my bike on board and held it while sitting. Not too uncomfortable, not too crowded. When I arrived in SF, I got off at the first station (swiping my “Clipper” “smart-card”), then rode about eight blocks to the CalTrain station. I swiped my Clipper card while waiting, then when the train boarded I got on one of the two bike trains–these trains are specially equipped with bike rack space on the bottom level (the trains have two levels of seating). There were plenty of bungee cords at each bike rack,  and I bungeed my bike to the rack and chose a seat upstairs where I could keep an eye on my bike.

Continue reading “The value of multi-modal trips”

Berkeley Student Food Collective now open

\animated logo

A new food cooperative opened on November 15 in Berkeley. The Berkeley Student Food Collective is open to anyone, student or not. Both members and non-members can shop, members receive a discount in exchange for work hours. I’ve shopped there a couple times, and the store is quite well stocked. It’s just a small storefront, so don’t expect to get eight types of rice and thirty varieties of coffee, but they do have a fairly decent selection of produce, bulk, packaged, and refrigerated items.Stop by the store, 2440 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA.

In the early 80’s I was a member of Cooperative Connections at UC Berkeley, another small cooperative. We were in the basement of the student union, so we had a bit less public exposure. I wish them well, and encourage Berkeley folks to shop there, student or not.

Here’s an animated logo I created, showing the ’80’s and ’10’s logos morphing:

\animated logo

Drive 55 MPH on Spare the Air days

Spare the Air sign

Spare the Air signWith the batch of Spare the Air days in the San Francisco Bay Area in the last few weeks, I came up with an idea that would probably save a lot more gas than trying to get people to carpool and take transit (not that I’m suggesting we stop this, but I’m not sure how many people really switch on STA days). My thought would be to change the speed limit to 55 on Spare the Air days.

I’m not sure how legal this would be (with all the permanent 65 MPH signs), but at least all those huge fancy digital boards that CalTrans has could read “Today is Spare the Air: Please drive 55”.

Spare the Air portable signDo you like the idea? Call the Bay Area Air Quality Management District: 415-749-4900

Fuel economy vs speed

“Progressive” thermostats to save energy

Sitting in my cold, air-conditioned classroom the last week, while it was 85-95ºF outside, a design for a new thermostat came to me. Currently, thermostats cool (or heat) a building to a desired temperature. My new design would create a floating target temperature, that moves up and down as the outside temperature changes. The goal would be to target a temperature that is half-way between the “comfort zone” (generally 65-72ºF) and the outside temperature.

For example, if the temperature outside is 92ºF and the comfort zone max is 72ºF, the air conditioning would be set to 82ºF.

An example of a cold day: If the temperature outside is 45ºF, and the comfort zone minimum is 65ºF, the heater would be set to 55ºF.

Progressive vs traditional thermostat
Progressive vs traditional thermostat

What’s the advantage?

Physics principles state that the greater the temperature difference between two bodies, the faster the heat is transferred between them. Thus, if the outside temperature is 92ºF, it takes less energy to cool a house from 92ºF to 82ºF than to cool it the next 10ºF, from 82ºF to 72ºF. And since hotter and colder days place higher demands out our electrical grid (especially hot days), these are the days where we need to save energy the most.

Other adjustments/design alternatives

  • This new design could allow for adjusting the percent difference for hot and cold days individually. For example, if a person can handle heat better than cold, s/he might change hot days to only 25% of the way from the outside temperature to the comfort zone (using the previous example, cooling the house to 87ºF), but on cold days s/he would set it to 75% (the example above heat to 60ºF).
  • The thermostat could easily be designed to have a maximum hot temperature allowed (e.g. never over 82ºF) and/or a minimum cold temperature (e.g. 50ºF). This would be useful in extremely hot or cold climates.

With wireless technology as simple and inexpensive as it is these days, it would be easy to place the outside temperature sensor in an appropriate location, not necessarily right outside the thermostat.


Please leave your comments below. I’d love to hear what others feel about this idea.

Great “raw” video footage from typhoon in China

The video below is just “raw” footage from CBS News. There is no narration, just a collection of images. I really enjoy this format, you can focus on the images and not on what the newscaster is saying. Powerful.

Typhoon Slams China

Sun Aug 09 11:26:08 PDT 2009

“CBS News RAW”: Millions evacuated the area after typhoon Morakot slammed into China’s east coast. It was the island’s worst flooding in 50 years and left dozens missing and feared dead.

Watch CBS Videos Online