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January 2019

UC Davis study shows grain-free and other “boutique” diets associated with heart disease in dogs

Petco-displayOne of the benefits of living in Davis is having a world-class veterinary research center right down the road, one that produces research like the work highlighted in the article “Dogs Fed Some Popular Diets Could Be at Risk of Heart Disease.”  Yet the more that I learn about this research, the more I realize how resistant people are to the message.

The rough idea is this: researchers have found a relatively recent increase in the number of dogs diagnosed with Taurine-Deficient Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM).  DCM is a disease of the heart muscle that leads to reduced heart pumping function and increased heart size, and it can result in severe consequences such as congestive heart failure or sudden cardiac death.  Researchers are still trying to isolate the exact cause, but it has been associated with grain-free diets, raw diets, and foods that contain exotic ingredients like peas and lentils.  It is not yet known why these foods would lead to low taurine and DCM, but adding taurine (an amino acid) to the dog’s diet does not seem to help.  (More details here).

So, the cautious approach would seem to be to avoid feeding dogs these boutique and grain-free foods until researchers figure things out further.  What should dogs eat, then?  A Facebook group which is facilitating the gathering of data and exchange of information among researchers is currently recommending Purina Pro Plan, Hills Science Diet, Royal Canin, Eukanuba, and Iams.

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Davis Chefs Battle to Create the Best Planet-Friendly, Plant-Based Burger, March 1-31

Graphic logo and participanThere’s no easier way to do something good for the planet (and your health) than to sit down and bite into a juicy, flavor-packed plant-based burger with friends or family. And thanks to COOL Cuisine, a partner of Cool Davis, seventeen eateries in Davis will be offering plant-based burgers or sandwiches on their menus throughout March as part of a fun contest involving all diners as judges.

Beef is a very resource-intensive product. The Burger Battle will offer a wide range of alternatives that are taste sensations, filling, and that diners can feel good about ordering. A beef burger can use more than twice the acreage and emit 10 times the greenhouse gasses than a meal made from plants. To produce one beef burger is takes the same amount of water as 33 showers or washing your car 15 times. In the last year many Silicon Valley companies rolled out patties that mimic the mouth-feel, juiciness, look, and flavor of a beef burger. All competing burgers, whether made from scratch or using commercial patties, and side dishes offered will contain no animal products.

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College classes taught by TAs? Enterprise columnist misses the mark

I normally find that Jennifer Borenstein offers excellent college advice in her “College Corner” column in the Davis Enterprise. Unfortunately, however, her most recent column is misleading, both in its use of terms and in the elephant in the room that it leaves out.

First, do TAs teach college classes?  Occasionally, but not in the way that  Borenstein means.

To be (perhaps excessively) clear, a graduate student is a person who is pursuing a degree beyond the undergraduate (BA, BS) level.  Once someone is a graduate student, they might be a teaching assistant, or TA. Or, they might be assigned to be a primary instructor for a class (sometimes with graduate student TAs!).  Or, they might not teach at all.  Thus, in the usual case, it doesn’t make sense to say that a TA is teaching a class.  If a graduate student is hired as a primary instructor for a class, they are not a TA.  They are the primary instructor.

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Celebration of Abraham: From Me to We

Celebration-of-abraham(From press release) Last year the Celebration of Abraham focused on making space for otherness as a first step in valuing different traditions and recognizing that something unfamiliar doesn't have to bring fear. The theme for this year builds on last year's exploration of diversity by acknowledging that to make community in a world comprising many religious traditions, we must begin to understand ourselves as part of something larger than ourselves – we must move from me to we—the theme for this year's Celebration.

The 16th Annual Celebration of Abraham, "From Me to We", will be held on Sunday January 27th from 3 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall at St. James Catholic Church of Davis (1275 B Street).

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A Hunch about DMTC: Aimee Rose Santone as Esmeralda

EsmaBy Rachel Rycerz

There are so many talented people in DMTC's Hunchback of Notre Dame...

Aimee Rose Santone, who plays the role of Esmeralda, is new to DMTC but not to performing. She started dancing 20 years ago, at the age of three; at age 10 she joined a show choir, which introduced her to singing. At first she had difficulty holding a tune, but because it was something she really enjoyed she decided to take private lessons. Her experience in show choir led her to believe that musical theater would be a good fit. After doing theater with her schools, she joined a semi-professional company in her hometown of Redding in high school, and then studied Musical Theater at AMDA in Los Angeles.

Aimee Rose brings her triple threat talent and also her experience as an entertainer to the role of Esmeralda. This is especially true in the first number she appears in, “Rhythm of the Tambourine,” in which her dancing captures the attention of the three main male characters in the play; their captivation with Esmeralda ultimately changes their lives. She shared “Quasimodo, Frollo, and Phoebus when we first meet them are all content with the way they are living their lives at the moment. But as they each meet and interact with Esmeralda, she brings out their true selves.”

Being a performer has also made a difference in Aimee’s own life. Her husband is in the Marine Corps, which means they end up moving to where he is stationed. “Being in a theater I feel like I’m home, so when moving to a new area joining a show is a great way to meet people and make friends.”

Your last chance to see Aimee Rose as Esmerelda is this weekend -- Friday and Saturday nights at 8 pm, and Sunday at 2 pm. You can buy tickets atDMTC.org

Symbols, Intentions and Outcomes

Blueribbonby Christy Corp-Minamiji

I've been thinking a lot about symbols the last few days. They've been everywhere -- blue ribbons and "Blue Lives Matter" flags stipple my hometown like dotted lines perforating the blocks; pink pussy hats fill videos; red ball caps framed the faces of young men mocking a Native American elder.

The thing with these symbols is they all cause pain to some, and bring feelings of belonging and support to others. None of these is "just a hat", "just a flag," "just a ribbon."

Symbolism digs deep into our DNA. It touches how we think, feel, and connect with others. Symbols give us a shorthand for the things we cherish -- identity, our sense of the sacred, unity, and connection.

A flag is not just a piece of cloth. A cross is not two boards affixed at right angles. A star is more than two triangles.

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Thinking about the Thin Blue Line imagery

Bluelinebadge OfficerCoronaI had originally intended my previous post, “Processing the events surrounding the tragic killing of Officer Corona,” to be my only published thoughts on the subject. But recent discussion of the Thin Blue Line imagery on social media and in a recent Enterprise article have convinced me that more needs to be said, if only to try to help people to see what the concerns are, even if they ultimately still disagree with those concerns.

But before doing that, let me again reiterate, because it’s important, my deepest condolences for the family, friends, and colleagues of Officer Natalie Corona as well as my thanks for all the public safety professionals who risked their lives to keep everyone else safe on the tragic night that she was killed.

As is pretty widely known by now, some UCD students and others have objected to the Thin Blue Line imagery, both in the American flag and in the Davis Police Badge.  They equate the imagery not only with the Blue Lives Matter movement, which they see as deeply problematic, but also with white supremacism.  Again, this article in The Public, dated June 26, 2018, sums up the association better than I can, and also shows that this isn’t something that local activists made up.

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Fresh energy to start an exciting new year

By Tom Stallard and Don Saylor

A new year offers a clean slate — a chance to celebrate achievements, assess the challenges of the past and start the new year with fresh energy.

Our biggest achievement in 2018 was the launch of Valley Clean Energy (VCE), our local public electricity program. With years of planning and lots of community support, we officially started serving the cities of Woodland and Davis and unincorporated Yolo County last June. Over the past six months, VCE has been providing greener energy, customer choice, local control and reinvestment in the community.

VCE’s standard portfolio of electricity includes 42 percent renewable energy, compared to 33 percent provided by PG&E. This allows VCE customers to help our region and our state take a big step toward changing our fossil fuel-based economy.

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VCE customers: No interruption of service from PG&E's bankruptcy filing

VCE(From press release). Customers of Valley Clean Energy — the local green energy provider that partners with PG&E for delivery of electricity to customers in Davis, Woodland, and unincorporated Yolo County — need not fear an interruption in service following PG&E’s announcement Monday that it intends to seek bankruptcy protection.

“We’re watching these developments very closely,” said Mitch Sears, VCE’s interim general manager. “But PG&E has said it does not expect any impact to electric or natural gas service for its customers as a result of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process. That is good news for our customers.”

VCE, a not-for-profit public agency, delivers cost-competitive clean electricity, product choice, price stability, and energy efficiency. The local agency’s power portfolio provides higher levels of renewable energy than PG&E does, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and providing reinvestment in the community.

For more about VCE, visit ValleyCleanEnergy.org.

Processing the events surrounding the tragic killing of Officer Corona

SacBee photo
From the SacBee

The events of the last few days have been difficult and emotional ones, with news coming at us at a fast pace as the story has unfolded, with more surely to come.   It’s hard to process, hard to know how to think about.

First and foremost, I want to express my deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Officer Natalie Corona.  By all accounts, she was a kind person who was dedicated to serving her community.  Her senseless and tragic death is a reminder that even in seemingly mundane situations, a police officer is always putting their life on the line, a target for those who have a grudge against the police (if that is indeed what has happened here, as suggested by the letter from the shooter).  We all need to be grateful for those who are willing to serve on a police force.  (Full disclosure: my grandfather was a NYC street cop).

It is understandable that so much of our focus would be on the loss and sacrifice of Officer Corona.  But I want to highlight something else we’ve heard a lot less about: the officers who were working the night of her death.  They surrounded the house where the shooter lived for hours.  According to the accounts I’ve read, the shooter emerged from the house twice, at least once with a gun.  That could have gone very badly for the police. The situation was unpredictable and the lives of those police officers were under a direct threat. 

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Davis Parks Functionally Went Pesticide-Free in 2018

PesticideapplicationBy Alan Pryor

Following are comments I delivered to the Davis City Council at their last December meeting.

My name is Alan Pryor and I am on the City's Natural Resources Commission and their Hazardous Materials Subcommittee. But I am speaking tonight as a private citizen. I am here to speak about the City's pesticide management policies and deliver some bad news but also some very good news.

First the bad news - You may recall the current Integrated Pest Management Policy was approved by Council in November of 2017. This policy was recommended by Staff over the written objections of many citizens and 3 of the City's own Commissions who urged the Council not to rubber stamp Staff's proposal because they felt it did not go nearly far enough to reduce pesticides exposure – particularly in our Parks where the majority of exposure to children occurred.

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