It may be a mad, mad world, but Oakland offers all kinds of ways to stay cool this week (in addition to some news that may drive you crazy, especially if you're an animal-lover).

There's a fundraiser in Fruitvale tonight for two of the area's top wordsmiths to help them get to Ohio in March for the Women of the World Poetry Slam. The evening will feature music and performances from poets Kim Johnson and Tatyana Brown, as well as the chance to buy signed
copies of their chapbooks.

As usual, the library system abounds with fascinating, free resources. The African American Museum & Library at Oakland is wrapping up its Access to Life exhibit this Saturday. The show features photographs by eight artists from Magnum Photos and documents the international fight against AIDS. And the Asian Branch of the library will hold a free blogging workshop for teens on March 6.

California pets are making headlines, with an Oakland man charged with two counts of animal abuse after neighbors videotaped him, police say, beating his pit bull with a crowbar and axe. The dog, now named Blueberry, is recovering in the “penthouse suite” at the city shelter, Oakland officials said. Who knew?

Nationally, the protection of pets in California is front and center, with a new Animal Abuse Registry under consideration in the State Senate. The proposed online registry would list offenders' home addresses and places of employment. State Senate majority leader Dean Florez brought the bill to the floor. It was drafted with help from the Animal Legal Defense Fund, an animal-protection group in Cotati, CA, north of San
Francisco. The group has said the registry could serve as a possible “early warning system” for other
crimes. already maps cases online. Its interactive map allows users to filter by abuse type; there's a list that will turn your stomach. The California map includes 510 of more than 1,000 cases in the state. The group also has a searchable animal cruelty database and an abuser name search.

In other news, aspiring bakers have new training ground in Emeryville with the expansion of The Bread Project into an 8,000-square foot warehouse, which nearly doubles its space for training and production. The group targets low-income students, about half of whom are from Oakland. Many, say the Merc, are trying to overcome homelessness, criminal backgrounds, addiction and poverty. (Not everyone is invited, however. Folks with violent or weapon-related offenses need not apply. And students must be able to read recipes in English.)

California likely will see more affordable housing near transit hubs, as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has pledged up to $10 million in a revolving loan fund to finance land aquisition for its development.

The MTC Web site is chock-full of cool info, like this nifty project to showcase the new Bay Bridge East Span in 3-D via Google Earth.

Speaking of cool maps, Our Oakland has produced a neighborhood map of the city with some helpful features. The map draws on various sources, including Google Maps, the Oakland Museum neighborhood search and Wikipedia.

Everyone's favorite subject, parking violations in Oakland, may soon have a new twist as meter readers could start photographing cars as part of the ticketing process. The move could cut down on bogus tickets and streamline the appeals process.

Emilie Raguso wrote today's Daily Brief. All feedback welcome via

About The Author