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So you have a child in 8th grade in LAUSD?

April 05, 2014

Does your daughter or son want to go to a school outside what they are zoned for? Do you know the dates for Open Enrollment and SAS (Schools for Advanced Studies)?

The most helpful thing that LAUSD could do for 8th graders and their parents each January is explain Open Enrollment and SAS. Not middle schools or high schools; LAUSD. This should be in a mailing, followed up by an email and phone call from the individual schools. Do only Magnet students get this benefit (with “Choices”)? Perhaps LAUSD think that the information meetings at middle schools and the tours of the local high schools will do the trick? Many parents cannot attend these meetings and tours. Indeed many parents don’t even know that Open Enrollment exists.

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California “green” houses - CALGreen

March 02, 2014

There are two types of “green” houses. There are the certified ones which are usually new houses and then there are the fixes you do yourself with an existing house.

California’s “green” building standards code (CALGreen) is driving most of the changes in housing construction these days If you are interested in what those changes are, forget trying to read the full code. It’s incomprehensible. Try (this) instead. But, it is the first statewide green code in the US and the SFGate sums it up this way:

Most of the residential guidelines are rather obvious: Insulate hot-water pipes, require solar-ready roofs, use more efficient windows, insulate exterior walls and install attic fans to displace warm air on cool summer nights. But some of the largest energy savings could be realized in an area that is invisible to most homeowners: inspecting air conditioner installations to make sure the unit has sufficient air flow to make it more efficient.

Homeowners can do all of those things for themselves and there are rebates available. But there is one area I question: why do so many people want to go all the way and create “intelligent” or “smart” homes? If you are not that into gadgets, why be a prisoner of your home’s technology?

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Growing milkweeds for Monarch butterflies

February 23, 2014

I had read that monarch butterflies are in decline because of loss of habitat. The milkweed plants their young forage on along their flyways in the US have been decimated by pesticides and herbicides, extreme climate fluctuations and housing developments.

So I bought some milkweed seeds.

By far the easiest milkweed to grow from seed is Asclepias curassavica (photo) which you really don’t need to grow from seed since it can be found at most nurseries. But, bear in mind that nurseries use pesticides, and it is not really a native anyway. A better choice is Asclepias fascicularis (Narrow-leaved Milkweed). I have not seen it at nurseries but you can order it online. While it is more difficult to grow from seed than A curassavica, I did have some success with this one – moist soil, not too much sun. The seedlings are still too young for any passing Monarchs to notice but I have read they really like this plant.

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In California is it legal to sell food made at home?

February 03, 2014

Yes it is. Under the California Homemade Food Act (here), home-based businesses can sell their goods. That means from houses or apartments. Forbes Mag summarizes (here):

After passing a “food processor course” (which can be done online), properly labeling their goods and practicing common-sense sanitation when cooking and baking.  Those who want to start their own cottage food business legally need only register or obtain a permit, as either a Class A or Class B operation.

In California, this applies to bread, biscuits, candy, chocolates, churros, coffee, cookies, cupcakes, dried pasta, tortillas, trail mix, popcorn, vinegar, tea, nut butters, mustard, dried fruits and some jams and jellies, but NOT homemade food that contains meat, seafood or dairy.

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Encino411 is a website for residents of Encino, California, with information on recycling, edible gardening, environmentally friendly housekeeping, tips on volunteering in the community, disaster preparedness, elder care, markets and other green products.

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