A stranger from the outside! Pixar Animations Studios

I had the special opportunity to get a behind the scenes tour of Pixar Animation Studios with my University of California, Santa Cruz alumus and software engineer Sean Stephenson (www.seanplusplus.com).  Sean is living his dream and it is very inspiring to see how far he has come. Congratulations to my dear banana slug.

Sean Stephenson

Pixar Animation Studios front gate.

Emeryville, California, USA.

A stranger from the outside!

Sean showed me all around the facility which reminded me of a creative state of the art playground and university.  Filled with ping pong tables, volleyball courts, a gym, swimming pool, sauna and organic gardens this is the ideal place for creative minds as well as technical ones.  The building is divided into two main wings- the left brain and the right brain.  In the center is a cafeteria (including the largest cereal bar I have ever seen), store, and lounges as well as bathrooms strategically located in the center of the compound so that all employees must engage with their colleagues.  I was impressed to say the least. Who wouldn’t want to work here?  Also as a New York City enthusiast I was ‘stoked’ as Sean so frequently describes most things going on in his life that each building has a different New York City neighborhood as a name.  Sean works in Soho but there is also Brooklyn, The West Village and so forth.  So let it be known there is a little NYC in Emeryville, California!

Ping pong tables and lounge behind reception.

Another lounge and Cars!

Toy Story and Brave in the background.

The lobby. The Dude.

Beside the front entrance of the main building.

Right brain meets left brain.

Academy Awards showcase.

This link has everything and more you’d like to know about Pixar including the chronological history of the company and it’s laid out in a fun interactive format, much better than I could do on this blog. Check it out! WWW.PIXAR.COM

Thank you Sean!

I love my new mug.



Stopping the Next Plague – Village Voice

Colleague Dr. Simon Anthony, otherwise known as ‘virus hunter’ of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and nonprofit international conservation organization EcoHealth Alliance makes the Village Voice. Kudos to this hardworking man!

Dr. Simon Anthony

Fighting for primate forests in the Bay Area

I attended a meeting tonight hosted by Bay Area Tropical Forest Network and Rainforest Action Network.  Leila Salazar-Lopez of Amazon Watch gave a talk about Belo Monte, a dam that will block the Xingu River in Brazil and threatens to displace thousands of residents including indigenous communities.  It will also cause irreparable damage to the Amazon’s fauna and flora inhabitants, its rich and complex ecosystem, and will massively impact global climate change.

Xingu River

A boy plays with a capybara on the banks of the Xingu River near Altamira, Brazil near where the controversal hydroelectric Belo Monte dam, will be built. Photograph: Andre Penner/AP

The Borneo Project, students from Stanford University and many others attended.  There was plenty to talk about not only within Brazil but other regions like Peru and Indonesia where the MSc in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University including Neotropical Primate ConservationLittle Fireface ProjectSelamatkan Yaki and International Animal Rescue (just to name a few) is dominating right now.


It is great to be getting more involved in conservation here in the San Francisco Bay Area!  I would like to recognize my countless colleagues fighting hard on the ground. Keep up the great work! I look forward to facilitating partnerships.

Please take a look at these videos about Belo Monte, a significant dam project that is in dire need of attention at this crucial time.


California whale migration seasons

The Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary has annual migration patterns for whales off the California coastal waters of San Francisco. If you are wondering what type of whales that you will see, the list below is general migration patterns.

  • humpback whales migrate May through November
  • gray whales and killer whales migrate December through May
  • blue whale migrate July through October

Ocean Beach, San Francisco May 2012 © Allison Hanes

The Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary protects the wildlife and habitats of one of the most diverse and bountiful marine environments in the world, an area of 1,282 square miles off the northern and central California coast. Located just a few miles from San Francisco, the waters within Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary are part of a nationally significant marine ecosystem. Encompassing a diversity of highly productive marine habitats, the sanctuary supports an abundance of life, including many threatened or endangered species.


If you want to do more research please visit the American Cetacean Society site: www.acsonline.org


We have a winner for the newspaper article on environmental issues in Indonesia!

This is a post from my wonderful and brilliant friend Harry Hilser’s blog (http://selamatkanyaki.com).  My fellow MSc in Primate Conservation alumnus is working to protect wildlife, specifically the Sulawesi crested black macaque and forest habitat in Indonesia.  I felt this was a particularly inspiring entry. Keep up the incredible work Harry! I am very proud of you.

We have a winner for the newspaper article on environmental issues in Indonesia!!!.


Amazon Watch: Standing with indigenous peoples and defending the rainforest

The Amazon: A Global Treasure

Rainforests sustain us. They help regulate the global climate and are vital to maintaining the earth’s fragile balance. The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest and most biodiverse tropical rainforest, covering an area larger than the continental United States. It houses one-third of the Earth’s plant and animal species and produces one-fifth of all its fresh water.

Nearly 400 distinct indigenous peoples depend on the Amazon rainforest for their physical and cultural survival. At current rates of deforestation, nearly 50 percent of the Amazon could be lost or severely degraded by the year 2020, and the vast majority will no longer be in a pristine state.

With global deforestation contributing 20–25 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, Amazon Watch and our indigenous partners are providing a service to all humanity as we together seek to defend the rainforest. Each of us can take action. We may be the last generation that has a chance to protect this precious gem of our world’s cultural and ecological heritage – an irreplaceable source of life and inspiration.

Amazon Watch is a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. They partner with indigenous and environmental organizations in campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability and the preservation of the Amazon’s ecological systems.

They envision a world that honors and values cultural and biological diversity and the critical contribution of tropical rainforests to our planet’s life support system. They believe that indigenous self-determination is paramount, and see that indigenous knowledge, cultures and traditional practices contribute greatly to sustainable and equitable stewardship of the Earth. They strive for a world in which governments, corporations and civil society respect the collective rights of indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent over any activity affecting their territories and resources. They commit, in the spirit of partnership and mutual respect, to support indigenous allies in their efforts to protect life, land, and culture in accordance with their aspirations and needs.



Art of Conservation


Art of Conservation (AoC) provides innovative and comprehensive year-long conservation and health education programs for children attending primary school in rural communities bordering Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. AoC’s overall approach is to teach lessons about the importance of maintaining a healthy environment for both people and animals, while instilling in them an understanding of and respect for themselves, their peers, and the natural world.

Please see the AoC website at http://art-of-conservation.org.