WPCS, a publicly traded company that provides wireless infrastructure and communications systems, issued a press release this week announcing $9 million in new contracts, including one for UC Cooperative Extension. According to the release, which was picked up by numerous business Web sites, including the International Business Times, UCCE selected WPCS to deploy a wireless data collection network.
"The project entails the deployment of wireless devices powered by solar energy located at certain watersheds throughout the state," the release says. "These wireless devices will obtain data on the volume and chemical composition of the water collected through natural rainfall and will transmit the data via a wireless connection back to the science center for analysis."
The new system means scientists will no longer need to undertake the time consuming task of visiting each watershed to collect data from manual recording devices.
"The project with the University of California Cooperative Extension is another example of how wireless technology saves time and money while increasing productivity," the company's executive vice president was quoted in the release.
If you know who in the UCCE system is working on this project, please leave a comment. This might be a good topic for a news release of our own that gives more details on the implications of what seems to be a fascinating use of high technology for natural resources research.
Okay, what are the answers? In a prior blog, we listed several...
Pondering a Question
UC Davis Team
Long-time ag reporter for Western Farm Press, Harry Cline, wrote a lengthy article about UC ANR vice president Dan Dooley's recent speech to the California Association of Pest Control Advisers.
Cline wrote that blending Dooley, the Division's first non-academic leader, with academicians and scientists could be like mixing gasoline and fire or it could go together like peanut butter and jelly, opposites that combine well.
The article, published online today, said Dooley has set firm deadlines for the work he wants done in his department.
“The joke around the system is that people are drinking from the Dooley fire hose," the article quoted Dooley, because he sets unreasonable lines. However, to his surprise, his deadlines are being met.
Other telling tidbits from Dooley reported in the article:
- Regarding the fact that 80 percent of county directors will retire within 10 years . . . “Maintaining consistency within the division will be a real challenge moving forward.”
- “We have to look closely at how to optimize our resources. Hanging on to the historic structure is eating us alive. We cannot continue that."
- Dooley says the research community is too focused on finding out the causes for climate change. It should be focused on the consequences of the changes and its interaction with the ecological system of pests, weeds and other factors affecting agriculture.
- Maneuvering within the UC system is like trying to steer a battleship with a canoe, but years as a legal advocate have given him “sharp elbows” to muscle UC administrators into acknowledging the importance of his division and why it is relevant.
- “Some people say I am the best thing since sliced bread. Others say I am exactly what they thought I was when I showed up.”
The fires that raged through Southern California less than two weeks ago affected thousands of residents and destroyed hundreds of homes. California is bone dry, the result of an extended drought. Our building patterns put thousands of homes in the canyons and hills at greatest risk for burning. We have fires more frequently these days - fire season now seems to be year round - and they seem to burn more intensely and cause greater damage.
One of the places destroyed in the Tea Fire that raged through the coastal area of Montecito and Santa Barbara was Mount Calvary, a Monastery and Retreat House operated by monks affiliated with the Order of the Holy Cross. The Brothers at Mount Calvary are Anglican; our mutual faith brought me to their Retreat House a number of times in the last seventeen years. It doesn't seem right to refer to Mount Calvary as simply a place; it was much more than a collection of buildings. It was - and remains - a community of people; a community that fire cannot destroy.
A central feature of life at Mount Calvary has been hospitality. The community hosts individuals and groups for retreats, for programs, and accomodates those simply seeking quiet time that supports reflection and study. Good Food has been a key part of the hospitality that the Brothers provide. Fresh-baked bread, and coffee so wonderful - a Monk's Blend - that it became a small commercial venture that supported the Brother's mission and work. Simple, wholesome, carefully prepared food, offered with grace and love, food that fed the body and the soul. I have met pilgrims there from all sorts of places and life circumstances, and have shared Good Food with them in the sunny dining room.
I remember vividly a weekend that I spent in retreat there with the vestry of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. It was February of 1996, and I was within six weeks of delivering my daughter, Natalie. While extremely excited about her impending birth, I was uncomfortable in the advanced stages of pregnancy. I was moving slowly, wasn't sleeping terribly well, and as full as I was of baby, I couldn't seem to eat much. That weekend, I slept better than I had in weeks. The food was wonderful and I ate it all: breakfast, dinner and supper. I went home fed on many levels.
The Brothers from Mount Calvary are currently staying with the Sisters at St. Mary's Retreat House, also an Episcopal religious community that I have visited. Neighbors across the canyon, St. Mary's was also threatened by the fire, but survived. Will Mount Calvary be rebuilt? The Brothers are in a process of discernment to determine what their future will hold.
Another passing this week also brought up memories of Good Food. Sheri Rudd Klittich Johnson, a valued colleague from the University of California, passed away from ovarian cancer and scleroderma, one day after her 53rd birthday. For many years, Sheri provided leadership for UC's Hansen Trust, and worked diligently to sustain agriculture in Ventura County. She played a vital role in California's school garden movement, and trained hundreds of teachers about agriculture and gardening. I not only loved working with her, I loved and valued her. She will be missed by so many of us.
I have eaten a number of meals with Sheri over the years, including the best meal I've ever had. It was in the summer of 2005, when Sheri and I, accompanied by our daughters Kristen and Natalie, and a friend named Sara, took a road trip to find local and sustainable food systems, see gardens, and learn everything we could that might inform the work at UC's Hansen Agricultural Center. We began in Philadelphia (with Sheri's suitcase taking an unfortunate detour to the Netherlands), toured through southeastern Pennsylvania (including Rodale), drove to upstate New York, visited Cornell, got wet at Niagara Falls, and then drove into Toronto before flying back home. This sustainable food systems road trip found us visiting gardens and farms every day, sometimes several in a single day. The best Good Food meal was shared at Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca. I will never forget it. It was a magical evening in a memorable string of days.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I try not to ponder loss, but rather, to embrace the gifts that the Brothers at Mount Calvary and Sheri have left. And to give fervent thanks for these memories of Good Food and Good Friends.
"A Garden for Everyone. Everyone in a Garden."
In football lingo, a curl is a spin on a football, which makes it swerve when it's kicked. Honey...