Photo: John Maybury
Out in the Mojave Desert, I found myself in the midst of 70 wild cats. Thank God, most of them were asleep in the 100-degree midday heat. And they were in chain link enclosures.
I was at the Feline Conservation Center (aka The Cat House) in Rosamond, California, a breeding facility offering close-up viewing of some of the world’s rarest big cats. Drowsy daytime behavior is the norm, but on special occasions you can view the cats in the early evening, when more than their stomachs are growling. Amur leopards, jaguars, fishing cats, margays, tigers, pumas, and other slinkies are waiting to see you. Take Interstate 5 to Highway 138 east. Visit cathouse-fcc.org or call 661-256-3793.
Years ago, a Meandering reader questioned the conventional wisdom that it’s more fuel-efficient to drive without air conditioning and the windows open. He cited a study in which researchers concluded that using air conditioning with windows closed is more fuel-efficient, because opening the windows dramatically increases drag. Compensating for drag uses more gas than the extra load on the engine from using air conditioning. I never found an answer to this scientific conundrum, but next time you start up your search engine, look up “thermoelectrics.” If you find a solution, please let me know.
Take a gander at the Canada geese making big messes on the lawns in business parks and coastal-access areas all around San Francisco Bay. The stately birds have found easy pickings and a mild climate here, so many of them have taken up permanent residence and stopped migrating. Foster City, with its many lagoons and walkways, has been particularly hard-hit. Do you know any communities or companies that have humane ways of dealing with problem geese?
Don’t Be a Gasoholic
Pledge to drive less and drive smart. Keep track of your gas mileage, then shop around for a brand or grade of fuel that improves your numbers. Cut your speed. Avoid quick starts. Organize your errands to reduce driving around in circles. Car-pool and ride-share. Bike or walk to the store to save long shopping trips out of town. Keep every part of your car tuned, filtered, lubed, inflated, whatever the owner’s manual says. Don’t waste gas warming up or idling. Drive smoothly and steadily without excessive braking and accelerating. Use cruise control. Don’t tailgate or weave in and out of traffic. With a manual transmission, shift up as soon as possible. With an automatic, put the transmission in neutral at long stops, and hold on hills with the brakes, not the gas pedal. When traffic lights are timed, go with the flow. Drive off-peak. On long trips, lighten your load by removing the roof rack, or rent a more fuel-efficient car. (Consumer information sources: Federal Trade Commission, Environmental Protection Agency)
Eating salmon is a great way to get heart-healthy omega-3 fish oil. But avoid farmed salmon and eat only wild-caught Alaska salmon, which is plentiful. Salmon farming (aquaculture) pollutes coastal waters. When farmed salmon escape from their pens into open water, they can interbreed with wild salmon and weaken the genetic stock of the species.
Join National Arbor Day Foundation (arborday.org) and get 10 free tree seedlings to plant in your yard.
John Maybury is a blogger (PacificaRiptide.com), freelance copy editor (Goofbuster.com), and newspaper columnist (Pacifica Tribune). His Meandering column and features for Loma Prietan date back to the previous century. Send your questions and answers to Meandering Maybury at firstname.lastname@example.org