Why not to use flash on little dogs

Here is a perfect example of why I shouldn't have used the flash to take a picture of my little Jerry. He looks like he has X-ray vision or could be an extra in a B movie. I'll have to learn how to correct that but today isn't the day for it.

I've been flocked

The first things I saw this morning when I came down the stairs to take the little dog for a walk were pink flamingoes. They weren't a total surprise, I had asked to be flocked (this is the way the youth group of our church raises funds during the summer) rather than having the flamingoes planted in somebody else's yard. I just didn't expect them to show up so soon. I'd only made the arrangement by phone last night.

There was a nasty letter to the newspaper editor in the paper last summer, somebody rather grumpy thought it was a horrible idea. But I like it. It involves no calories, I don't have to buy things I have no use for, I get to support a great group of young people and I find it tremendously amusing. Maybe I should have them decorate the rest of my yard. Or, maybe not :-)


Goodies :-)

My daughter is visiting from S CA and brought some box bags she made. The bright red one has my name on it but I like the others as well. Giving me a choice is never really a good idea :-)

She also brought a whole bag full of scraps for my new obsession - those little Dotee dolls. Not that I need any more fabric. Many years of quilting have left me with a huge stash. But, it's always nice to use fabrics somebody else has chosen.


Raise the Rail - Save a Life

The link to this site was buried in one of my previous posts. It was put up by the Whitmer family who lost their youngest son Matthew in November 2007. He is believed to have jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge, but his body has never been found. That is not unusual, the tide under the bridge is very strong.
This petition will be passed on to the Golden Gate Bridge Authority. There still is too much opposition.
Please consider signing the petition. Thank you!


The Bridge Authority Open House

Yesterday, we attended the first open house the Golden Gate Bridge Authority held in San Rafael so the public could see pictures of the proposed designs for the various suicide barriers, vote on computers set up specifically for this purpose and talk to bridge officials. I didn't do the latter, that's something I still have to work up to. Nevermind that the reporter (yes, I talked to the press even though I was determined not to) from the Chronicle called us activists (her word, not ours) in her article, I'm much too new at this sort of thing to go up to total strangers.
One of the fathers who lost his only child, a daughter of 17, in January did work the room very well. He talked to just about every official and I hope at the next meeting I'll be able to do something along those lines.
We were supposed to wear nametags (and a few of us did) to put a human face to the losses. I spent quite a lot of time on mine - cutting and pasting (and I mean scisscors and tape).

I did, however, introduce myself to several people at the meeting, but they were all "good guys," people from the Bridge Rail Foundation, the police captain who is in charge of patrols on the bridge and quite a few other survivors. I also got to meet Kevin Hines, one of the less than 2% who have jumped and survived.

Going to the meeting was very much a last minute decision but I am glad we went. Now I can put faces to names I knew from newsletters, emails and through facebook. I got to meet the man who does a lot of the PR for the group; Ken Holmes, the Marin County Coroner (who is a very outspoken proponent of a barrier), and several other parents who have lost their children. Unlike us, though, the bodies of their children haven't been found and their losses are much newer than ours and it was heartbreaking talking to them. Just like us, they are trying to do what they can to prevent what happened to us from happening to others.

If you have already voted for a suicide barrier, thank you very much.
If you haven't had a chance to, please, please consider doing so. It would mean so much to us (and many other survivors). The opposition is still fierce but there is very compelling evidence that a barrier will prevent suicides on the bridge.
So, please take a few minutes to look over the various designs:


and then vote (and, please, don't vote for "no change"):

Golden Gate Bridge Suicide Deterrent Barrier

You are asked to leave comments on every design, not necessary. A comment to the effect that lives are more important than a pretty view or something along those lines is enough.

Thank you.


The Urge to End It All

This is an article that appeared in the New York Times on July 6 and I finally read it - pencil in hand to underline the important bits. It's recommended reading for those of us with an interest in having a suicide barrier built on the Golden Gate Bridge, especially if we are going to the Open Houses today and tomorrow (I'm only going once) to possibly talk with bridge officials. I draw the line at talking to the press.

I have done quite a bit of reading about suicide over the past 14 months, but found things in this article I didn't know yet (everybody studying suicide has a different theory about the "why" and different opinions on predictability and whether anything can be done about it).

This article concentrated on impulsive suicides which tend to be more deadly than those that are premeditated. I didn't know that, but I did know that jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the deadliest forms of suicide: less than 2% of jumpers survive. Gunshots are 85-92% fatal, overdoses, poisonings even less so. Couldn't find numbers on hangings, the most common form in Germany (my father was a homicide detective and cut plenty of people out of trees).
Of special interest was the study by Richard Seiden, a professor at UC Berkeley who found that of the 515 people who were prevented from jumping between 1937 and 1971, only 6% went on to take their lives.

Anyway, enough editorializing, I highly recommend reading this article and, just in case the link in the title doesn't work, here it is again:



Making dolls

I took a break today from "have to's" and made a little doll รก la Dot Christian - My life, my values, my art.... She has a tutorial on her site for making these cute, little dolls.

I didn't really know what I wanted her to look like, just played. And, wouldn't you know?, even with all the beads I have, I still don't have the exact right ones.


Ferry trip to San Francisco

We used to take the ferry into San Francisco fairly regularly but haven't done so in over 18 months. Doesn't help that we have to make arrangements to leave the little dog somewhere.
But, this past Saturday, we finally got to go again and I took along the camera. Unfortunately, I managed to erase some of the better pictures but blogger only lets me upload so many, anyway, so it's not that big a deal.
It wasn't a really good day for taking pictures (too hazy/overcast) but that helped to keep the temperature down and, besides, there's photoshop to fiddle with contrast.
The first and last pictures are the back and front of an old lighthouse/bed & breakfast on a little island in the bay - East Brother Lighthouse, California at Lighthousefriends.com.
The next one is of Angel Island which used to be an immigration station. Haven't visited it yet but hope to soon.
Next is the view from the ferry including Coit Tower.
And picture No. 4 is the Golden Gate Bridge with Alcatrez in the foreground. Haven't visited there yet, either.
I'll have to take pictures of the farmer's market at the Ferry Building next time. It's one reason to visit - not just fresh, but very interesting produce, lots of organic things and the absolute best bread ever. One of the few places Della Fattoria - http://www.dellafattoria.com/ - sells a really good selection, even better than at their bakery in Petaluma.
Across the street from the Ferry Building, is Justin Herman Plaza where people are selling arts and crafts and last Saturday, somebody held a rather noisy sort of tent revival. This one was of the Christian nature. We heard that it varies, anything from Buddhists chanting to gospel.
Inside the Ferry Building - http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/ - are various restaurants, gourmet foodstores and plenty of other things to keep one busy. My favorite place is Ciao Bella - http://www.ciaobellagelato.com/ - gelato and sorbets.
I think we'll be going again soon!


Funny this should show up right now ......

Time magazine had the following a couple of days ago:

Post Apocalypse - TIME

It goes with my "mean people suck" post and confirms what I've thought all along. The anonymity of the internet brings out a (more or less) hidden mean streak in people. Things they wouldn't say to somebody in person, they have no trouble typing and posting. Cowardly? Multiple personalities? All of the above?


Mean People Suck

I am angry today, very angry. I spent quite a bit of time last night reading comments people left in the online version of the San Francisco Chronicle in response to the article about proposed suicide barriers on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Comments ranged from "just let them jump" to "why not install a diving board in the middle of the bridge?" to " We should not try to discourage suicide but actually encourage it so that the dregs of society can take themselves out of the gene pool."

No, I did not jump into that verbal slug fest. My husband did. He has a thicker skin than I do and can handle those kinds of hateful, hurtful, heartless comments better.

I will, however write to the editor to express my displeasure over their policy of obviously publishing comments without any kind of editing. Not that it'll make any difference.

I've noticed this kind of thing in that newspaper before - people writing in seem to take great pride in being heartless, unkind and uncaring and I don't think they even realize what they are saying. How can you tell a parent that doctors shouldn't do all they can to try and save their baby's life and spend the money on something else? How can you tell a person that their loved one was the "dregs of society" and "deserved to die?" "Good riddance." Do these people ever stop to listen to themselves?

I wonder if San Francisco is trying for the title of most heartless, unkind, uncaring city. If they are, they are well on their way.


A Suicide Barrier for the Golden Gate Bridge

A few months ago, I joined an organization called the Bridge Rail Foundation (http://www.bridgerail.org/). It's a group dedicated to raising the existing rail on the Golden Gate Bridge in an effort to stop the too many suicides on this bridge. This group is mostly made up of survivors of suicide (in suicidology terminoly those of us who have lost a loved one to suicide are called survivors.)
The official death toll is 1,300, many believe that this number is much, much higher. Too many people jump and no body is ever found. Last year's count was officially at 37 when I wrote to the Marin County Coroner to ask if my son Henry had been included in the count. No, he hadn't (because the San Francisco Medical Examiner doesn't count suicides from the bridge separately from other "falls" from tall buildings). So, now the count is officially at 38 with 2 other people missing and suspected to have jumped and disappeared.

The Golden Gate Bridge Authority released it's environmental impact report yesterday along with pictures of proposed new barriers.
I am copying and pasting the newsletter the Bridge Rail Foundation sent out which includes links to the report and links for people to sign petitions and leave comments. Unfortunately, it doesn't copy well - the pictures don't show up - but they are accessible in the link to the impact study.
It's a controversial subject around here, mostly because constructing a barrier is very expensive and it would obstruct the view. Of course, to some people a view is more important than a human life.

Anyway, if anybody reading this feels the way that I do - it's time to do something to stop the suicides on this bridge - please consider leaving comments in favor of one of the designs. Thank you!

Bridge Rail Foundation Newsletter
ContentsBridge District Releases Draft EIR for Suicide DeterrentHearing Dates Set—Speak OutA Few First ThoughtsFurther Reading
July 2008—EIR Special #1Vol 2 #5
Raise the Rail—Stop the SuicidesSpread the word—send this on to a friend-- Click here to send this to a friendClick here to subscribe

Bridge District Releases Draft EIR for Suicide Deterrent
The draft Environmental Impact Report on a suicide deterrent system for the Golden Gate Bridge was released today. The draft is now open for public review, and will be the subject of two public hearings set for later this month (see below). The public comment period will remain open for several weeks, then close while the district considers the comments and assembles a final EIR.Photos in this special edition newsletter represent the five options the GGB is considering. They were produced by the bridge district for the EIR
.Link to the GGB web site for the entire set of EIR documents.

Hearing Dates Set—The bridge district plans public hearings on its Draft EIR in July. Two hearings will be held as follows:#1 Marin—Tuesday, July 223:30pm to 7:30pmEmbassy Suites HotelMill Valley & Sausalito Conf. Rooms101 McInnis Parkway San Rafael, CA 94903#2 San Francisco—Wednesday, July 233:30pm to 7:30pmSan Francisco Ferry Building, Pier 1Port Commission Hearing Room2nd FloorSan Francisco, CA 94903

Speak OutThe public comment period is particularly important for advocates of raising the rail—we must make our voices heard and our presence known. Please take advantage of every opportunity to tell the District how important it is to finally put a stop to the deaths at the Gate:
Attend the hearings and speak out.
Write the district—both traditional letters and email will have an impact. For direct input to the district, Click Here

Get organizations you know and work with to endorse raising the rail and communicate that to GGB.
Sign the online petition sponsored by the Whitmer Family. To sign up, Click Here.

Start a letter writing campaign among friends and associates.

A Few First Thoughts
One option the EIR presents is to take no action at all—let the deaths continue. Obviously any response you pass on to the district should address rejecting this option outright.
Another option is a netting system under the bridge. Our concern here is that netting systems are hard to maintain, and could easily fall into disrepair (especially considering the District's ongoing budget deficit). In addition, the system itself could attract people who want to test it—think frat house initiation rites. Further, retrieving individuals from a netting system is an additional cost and may put emergency service personnel at risk. Simply building a taller railing avoids all these problems.
Each of the other four options presented for a taller railing should prevent suicides without creating an additional problem. One of these is likely the answer to the suicide problem.

Further Reading
There is a long, thoughtful article in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine. The article reviews recent information that upends the traditional view of suicide inevitability. It also demonstrates that most suicides are preventable and that most attempters, once stopped, will not subsequently kill themselves. There are also important references to the successful installation of taller railings on other bridges. Click here to link to the article