Saturday, December 24, 2005


The winds were scornful,
Passing by;
And gathering Angels
Wondered why

A burdened Mother
Did not mind
That only animals
Were kind.

For who in all the world
Could guess
That God would search out

Sr. M. Chrysostom, O.S.B.
Robert, Cyril. Mary Immaculate: God's Mother and Mine. New York: Marist Press, 1946.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Don't Blow Your Stack! Get a Home Harmony Ear Harmonica!

If family conversations make steam come out your ears, you don't have to suffer in silence. Tuck the Home Harmony Ear Harmonica into your ear canal for your own private soundtrack!

Perfect for those visits to the old folks at home, it plays a selection of merry tunes whenever steam comes out your ears. Programmable to play your favorites, or you can stick with these popular selections:

* The Animals, "We Got To Get Outta This Place"
* Bruce Springsteen, "Born to Run"
* The Coasters, "Yakety Yak"
* The Beatles, "She's Leaving Home"

Would you rather listen to Dad asking when you're finally going to get a real job, or Bob Dylan playing "Maggie's Farm"?

When Mom can't remember the name of the woman you've been married to for the past seventeen years, select from our library of 273 songs named after girls--or stick with the simple, classic dignity of Destiny's Child singing "Say My Name."

Not audible to others, this dual-function insert substitutes beautiful music for the nagging voices of your parents and the boasting, whining, and fighting of your siblings and their offspring. But unlike simple earplugs or rival music systems, the Home Harmony Ear Harmonica alerts you to the topic of conversation, so you can respond appropriately while enjoying a private concert.

For only $29.99 extra, you can get the patented early warning superheated steam alert. This add-on plays "The Ride of the Valkyries" in full orchestral sound when you're ten seconds away from throttling any family member. Believe me, it has saved me thousands in legal fees and the lives of at least three of my in-laws.

Face the holidays with a smile--thanks to the Home Harmony Ear Harmonica.

Coming soon--the Buzzword Bingo Business Meeting Edition!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Quotation of the Day

So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information.—George Orwell, “Why I Write”

Thursday, December 01, 2005

California Weather Report

It's raining here. That makes it winter.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


The first time I finished writing a book, I burst into tears and called my mother. I'd spent years working on the concepts behind The Crystal Tree, but start to finish, the writing had occupied only 15 working days--an average of 20 finished pages a day. Think of it as a two-week orgasm, and you won't be far wrong.

Today I crossed the NaNoWriMo finish line, but I am not bursting into tears. For one thing, I have more than 50,000 words, but I don't have a completed manuscript or anything like it. Moreover, my life is different. I'm not a full-time, home-based writer any more. I go to work and do one kind of writing, come home (or go out to lunch) and do another kind. Nor am I a 27-year-old newlywed. I'm 46, divorced, repartnered. It's not May in Stockholm, NJ. It's November in the Bay Area of California.

And yet--this is even better. That first orgasmic rush of words was grand, but this is craft as well as inspiration. This book is fiction, but like the first nonfiction book, it's based on ideas I've been pondering for decades. I have confidence in this book, in my skills, in myself. I'm considerably more sane than I was 20 years ago. I'm going to keep working on sanity and fiction.

Made my 50K? Sure. But I've only begun working on this book. I have months of joy ahead of me. Years of joy beyond that as I work on other books.

And now I have a write-in to attend.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Merry Trucemas!

Yes, already there is an update to the Trucemas story.

As you may remember, Trucemas is a holiday proposed by a nonreligious friend of mine who is also a military historian. He may not care about Santa, but he’s impressed by anything that could bring peace, music, stillness to the notoriously bloodsoaked Western Front in World War I. He started the idea last year; this year it may receive a little extra impetus because we recently lost one of the few who were there to participate.

The last known surviving allied veteran of the Christmas Truce that saw German and British soldiers shake hands between the trenches in World War One died Monday at 109, his parish priest said.

Alfred Anderson was the oldest man in Scotland and the last known surviving Scottish veteran of the war.

"I remember the silence, the eerie sound of silence," he was quoted as saying in the Observer newspaper last year, describing the day-long Christmas Truce of 1914, which began spontaneously when German soldiers sang carols in the trenches, and British soldiers responded in English.

"All I'd heard for two months in the trenches was the hissing, cracking and whining of bullets in flight, machinegun fire and distant German voices. But there was a dead silence that morning across the land as far as you could see.

"We shouted 'Merry Christmas' even though nobody felt merry. The silence ended early in the afternoon and the killing started again."

Troops in the trenches swapped cigarettes, uniform buttons and addresses and even played football in one of the most extraordinary episodes of the war.

Parish priest Neil Gardner of Anderson's Alyth Parish Church in Scotland said he had died in his sleep and was survived by a large family, including 18 great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren.

"He was a wonderful old man: he was gracious, gentle, he had a great sense of humor and a fine sense of wisdom from his experience spanning three centuries," said Gardner, who also served as chaplain to Anderson's regiment, the Black Watch.

Anderson also served briefly as a member of the household staff of Queen Elizabeth's uncle, Fergus Bowes-Lyon.

With Anderson's death, fewer than 10 British veterans of the war remain alive, of whom only three or four were veterans of trench warfare on the Western Front.

Attention has turned to the last survivors in recent weeks, with filmmakers bringing out documentaries in time for this month's Armistice Day holiday, marking the day the guns fell silent on November 11, 1918.

To me, Trucemas is one of the shining examples of the value of recognizing other people as fellow human beings. For my friend, it’s a celebration of peace amidst war. For everyone, it can be a way to strip off the aggregation of tinsel, family demands, cultural baggage, and personal expectations that can make the holidays a burden. I freely admit to giving in to some of those expectation—like the whole question of snow at Christmas, which has everything to do with my childhood in a cold place and nothing to do with the birth of the incarnated Lord.

(Did you know they actually import snow here? You think I’m kidding? The organizers of Winter Festivals rent a snow-making machine, and parents bring their children to gawp at the cold white stuff. There are also snow parks (or as the State of California refers to them, Sno Parks) where you can go for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and making snow angels—all conveniently located near a parking lot and Portapotty. Snow is not just weather you can shovel; it’s a feature attraction, like the Pirates of the Carribean at Disneyland.)

For me the religious holiday is Christmas, and the beauty of the Incarnation shines amid the long winter nights. But the secular holiday, the one we all can share, whatever our religious beliefs, is Trucemas: season of goodwill, a time to pause and be kind to others, a time to remember the holidays of your childhood without necessarily attempting to duplicate them.

Friday, November 18, 2005

'Tis the Season

Ever since August, Costco has been decking its halls. The number of catalogues in the mail has tripled. At least one local radio station has gone over to all holiday music, all the time.

Holidays are difficult. I'm thousands of miles from my family and the newest generation of awestruck children. It never really feels like Christmas here, and all those songs about Jack Frost's icy mucus and winter wonderlands glazing the garbage dumps with magic are pure bilge when there are roses blooming in every garden and no frost for 87 miles.

One way I avoid the holiday season is by immersing myself in NaNoWriMo until my eyes fall out. Or rather, until Thanksgiving is well past and the Christmas season is upon us. And then I'm too bleary-eyed to care much.

However, there's one holiday I can seriously get behind. I like the idea of Trucemas, and I'm one of those people who celebrates Christmas as the birth of the incarnated Lord.

Some suggested ways to celebrate Trucemas:
* Avoiding all malls, shopping centers, parking lots, and big-box retailers until at least January 15
* This goes double if you are employed in any of these
* Playing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” a minimum of once per day
* Playing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” a maximum of once per day
* Being kind to people who annoy you
* Yes, even family members
* Yes, even the ones who give you fruitcake
* Sincerely thanking annoying family members for the lovely gift of fruitcake
* Cramming the gift fruitcake into the public address systems of any mall, restaurant, school, or big-box retailer that is currently playing Christmas Muzak
* Binding and gagging anyone who comes to fix such systems (mince pie makes an excellent gag if you're out of fruitcake)
* Reading or rereading Terry Pratchett's Hogfather and similar uplifting holiday tales
* Watching the Mr. Magoo Christmas Carol
* Watching “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and lamenting the absence of elf-ridden electric shavers from the commercials
* Watching “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and replacing “Rudolph” with “Adolf” and “Reindeer” with “Nazi”
* Arguing over whether Goebbals or Goering should be Yukon Cornelius
* Arguing over whether Goebbals or Goering should be the Abominable Snowman
* Having more eggnog
* Threatening to sic the Blackshirts on anyone who uses canned, pre-grated nutmeg on your eggnog
* Honing a butcher knife while explaining the role of suet in (A) the human body and (B) mince pies to anyone who does not display the appropriate Trucemas spirit
* Getting enough sleep
* Reading “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” aloud
* Remembering that you do love at least some of your family, at least sometimes

May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Trucemasses be covered in blooming roses.

Monday, November 07, 2005


It's been years since I wote poetry, unless you count snarky haiku (a special form I particularly enjoy). Today for some reason two undersea poems came to me. Here's one of them.

For Diana

Under a clear sky, cloudy water.
The scarred stone moon, blind, diminishing,
Scatters her light like ashes on the milky sea.
Sunk beneath the waves, the fallen
Statue of Diana rests. Her eyes -- stone-lashed, brine-stung --
Stare tearlessly skyward, past elusive jellyfish
And eels like moonbeams trapped in tanks.

A kind hand would seal those eyes.
A kind heart would smash them.

No algae clothe her breasts and sex.
Naked, unyielding, her will is armor
Stronger than the chisels that chipped this form from stone.
Once violated, she chose to be invulnerable. The swordfish
Have more tenderness than she,
The jellyfish more mercy. She is her father’s daughter.
The huntress, amused by mortal pain,
Played Herod to Niobe’s brood.

Now she watches
Austere, unblinking, as otters mate, as fish devour their own
Scattered offspring, as sharks rise to snap
Their unsuspecting prey. Even Olympian calm
Cannot survive immersion. Baptized into the world of desperation,
She sees but cannot mend the damage she has done.
Even the tepid-blooded oysters feel too much.
She prays for lava to melt her memory,
For resurrection as unthinking stone.

—Lynn Alden Kendall

copyright 2005 Lynn Alden Kendall

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Now I Have an Excuse

Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity.... We cherish books even if unread, their mere presence exudes comfort, their ready access, reassurance.

A.E. Newton

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

MISSED CONNECTION: Small Classic Cars, Sunday Afternoon on 880

Sunday afternoon I was driving my partner’s serviceable but unglamorous Saturn, going north on 880 between Fremont and Hayward. Then I spotted you – three gorgeous cars in a row, putt-putting along in the slow lane at about 60mph.

Each of you was tiny yet elegant, with a charming two-tone color scheme. Sunshine yellow and white, turquoise and white, black and white. At least one of you had bug-eyed headlights. The three of you together might not have been as long as a Humvee, but you’re smart. You know that size does matter, and smaller can be so much better when slipping into tight spaces.

Let’s face it—you know you’re adorable, with your blocky body neatly sandwiched between hood and trunk. (Or boot and bonnet, if you happen to be British.) So much classier than the flashy new sportscars. They remind me of sneakers—all hood, no trunk, and a heel in the driver’s seat.

From your details, you looked to be about my vintage—late 1950s—but I could be off by a few years. Clearly you’re mature, driving so carefully, but you also look like a lot of fun.

I know I may never see you again, but I’m dying to know who you were. Make, model, and any additional information would be much appreciated.

Edited to Add: The cars I saw were a Nash Metropolitans, sold between 1954 and 1962. At 149.5" long, they were smaller even than a VW bug. And the pictures show how charming they were. There's one for sale in San Diego for less than ten grand. I bet it gets great gas mileage, too.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Gift

Today a woman I know got a chance for a new life. Stephanie is a professional composer who has also worked as a mathematician and a computer programmer. More than a year ago, she had to move back home because Type I diabetes was killing her. Her kidneys had failed; she was sick all the time, on dialysis, not sure she would live to receive a transplant.

Today, in a grueling 12-hour operation, she received two donated kidneys and a pancreas. The kidneys are working; in 48 hours, we’ll know if the pancreas is, too. If it is, she won’t be diabetic any more. Cured. Free again to create music, to laugh with her friends, to work hard and support herself.

I don’t know much about the young man whose kidneys and pancreas are giving Stephanie a future. He was 21. He fell off a roof and died. He and his family were generous enough to share the healthy organs he couldn’t use with someone whose life would have ended without them. This way, only one family has to grieve an early death. And all the people who know Stephanie, everyone who hears her music, will be blessed and enriched by that young man. Many of us are praying for his family. He will live on in his final act of generosity.

When Diane was killed, it took a long time for the EMTs to get her out of the car—so long that only her corneas were suitable for transplanting. They were taken, and today someone sees better because Diane gave that final gift. It’s a tiny consolation in the vast desolation of heartbreak that her death left behind.

I have the “Organ Donor” option checked on my driver’s license. More than that, my doctor, my HMO, my family, and my friends all know what I want done with my body when I die. I’ve left detailed written instructions with my family and medical advisers. When the organs are taken, there will be plenty left over for a funeral. I could even have an open casket, if anyone wants that. And no, my family will not have to pay for the organ removal. That’s an urban legend.

Half the people waiting for transplants will die without getting them. Stephanie could have been one of them—a young, vibrant, talented woman whose music would have been silenced forever.

Keep the music playing. Become an organ donor. Document your decision, and tell your family. Give life.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Reports from the Front Lines

Half a dozen of my friends have spent time on the Gulf Coast, working in disaster relief or reporting the hurricane. My new landlady, who just moved to Houston, spent her first weeks there helping out with hurricane evacuees and then preparing for Hurricane Rita.

Many of my friends are blogging their rescue and relief efforts.

Mike, a nurse and a Catholic deacon, volunteered in various clinics. He illustrated his blog with photographs.

Badgerbag was deeply involved in connecting people looking for lost relatives.

Tim Walton, a news cameraman, posted his photographs when he got home. Take a look at his fire and Iraq pictures, too.

And my beloved Alan Bostick is now in Biloxi to work in hurricane relief with Hands-on USA. he's posting occasional stories of his work; he even wrote a poem about it.

I'm proud of him. I miss him. I wish I could be there to help people directly, and I curse my allergy-ridden body for making such a trip impossible. And did I mention I miss him?

I'm doing what I can. I've donated whole blood, and I have an appointment to give platelets next weekend. I give time and money to causes that matter—yes, including causes closer to home, which tend to be neglected when big disasters occur. And now I've donated my boyfriend.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Not Even for the Sake of Books

The National Book Festival is being held in Washington, DC, this coming Saturday. Sponsored by the Library of Congress and First Lady laura Bush, it's a significant event in literary circles, bringing together authors as diverse, popular, and respected as Neil Gaiman, E.L. Doctorow, John Irving, Donald Hall, Sue Monk Kidd, Bobbie Ann Mason, Buzz Aldrin, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Marcia Mullen, Diana Gabaldon, R.L. Stine, and Laurie Smith. Dana Gioia, the eloquent California poet, will be there. So will Lynne Cheney, whose most famous book is probably the lesbian Western she wrote years ago. (Brief bios of all these authors are available on the National Book Festival web site.)

These very fine writers will read from their work, speak, meet readers (an estimated 85,000 attendees), be interviewed by the Washington Post and other newspapers, and do all they can to promote reading and writing. It sounds like a lot of fun, even though John Irving did once observe that writers are not necessarily sparkling conversationalists: "Novelists in particular drag themselves around parties like gutshot bears." It's also a great honor to be invited.

At least one invitee, however, will not be present. The distinguished poet Sharon Olds refused the invitation from Laura Bush.

But I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush Administration.

What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food from the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of permitting "extraordinary rendition": flying people to other countries where they will be tortured for us.

So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.

I don't fault the authors who are attending. But I am profoundly grateful for Sharon Olds, whose poetry I have long enjoyed, and who has so simply expressed the horror of the contrast between the civilized dinner table of the Bushes and their vicious, unconstitutional, and shameful policies.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


It’s been years since I was overpowered by the urge to nest: specifically, when I moved to Binghamton in September of 2000. Despite some issues with the apartment on Lydia Street, I loved it. I had the whole second floor of a Victorian house: a broad staircase up to a dining room, office, tiny living room, big bedroom with walk-in closet, huge kitchen, pantry, bath, and back porch with stairs down to the garage. (Which leaked, a fact I discovered only after storing boxes in it for months.) I lived there less than a year, but I felt settled there. I nested.

Nesting is more than unpacking. It’s hanging curtains, putting art on the walls, arranging the rooms, puttering in the kitchen, falling in love with the place. You know how a cat will stretch in a patch of sunlight, reveling in it? Nesting is like that.

Sometimes nesting also involves shopping. Things don’t have to be brand-new, but they have to be beautiful (or have that potential), and they need to fit the space. After I moved to Binghamton I bought the Croscill comforter still on my bed, and the beautiful bed and frame that I had to sell, and the one Calphalon pan that disappeared during the move west. Plus plenty of smaller things from the local Salvation Army (which I loved). When I left Billy, I had left behind my dishes and cookware, towels, furniture—the much-loved possessions accumulated in 16 years of marriage. I had to replace them.

The move to California and the subsequent changes of residence were hurried and usually meant fitting myself into someone else’s space. Even in the South San Jose house where we lived for nearly four years, I never felt settled, never felt at home—although I had my own bedroom and office, I couldn’t or didn’t or wouldn’t possess them.

Maybe by that time I was just too tired of moving. (Every night for two years after I moved to California, I had traumatic nightmares about moving.) Maybe I couldn’t trust any place to last long enough to be a home. Anyone who knows me can tell you I get profoundly attached to places. I rapidly became attached to California, but I still felt like I had no home here.

Now I do have a home. And, as is proper, I am nesting there. With the help of friends, Freecycle, yard sales, Craigslist, and the Salvation Army Thrift Store, I’m fitting up my space to be beautiful. My usual style: eclectic, color-conscious, warm.

I’ve got gorgeous Freecycled pale-green Ultrasuede curtains, fully lined, to cover the west-facing French doors in the living room/bedroom. (Sunlight is pleasant, but it heats the studio up to pizza-oven temperatures. Also, I’d like privacy at times in bed.) Thanks to a good friend, I also have the appropriate traverse rods and brackets. (She was glad to be rid of them, and I was glad to receive them.)

Over the weekend I picked up a cream and green area rug with touches of deep purple at a yard sale advertised on Craigslist. The rug and the curtains go with the Croscill bedspread, the purple-and-cream square porcelain plate, the purple-and-green Peruvian tapestry, and the various landscapes that usually hang on my walls. Also with the gorgeous framed Monet print I picked up at the Salvation Army—my first decorative purchase for the new space.

I found a lot of other goodies yard-saling, including a Cuisinart Little Pro food processor missing only the blades, which I figured I could replace. Even with the cost of new blades, the fifty-cent price tag made it a bargain. And a lovely little teapot for one—not something that was a need, but a decorative and useful item. Oh, and let’s not forget the gorgeous new Wamsutta towels—two thick, soft, luxurious, smoky-blue cotton terrycloth that I picked up for three bucks total at the Salvation Army.

I’m already cooking in the studio, too. I don’t yet have space or tools unpacked to make elaborate meals, but I have a working (Freecycled) microwave, the heavy-duty double hotplate my friend Debbie gave me, and a fridge out in the garage for soy milk, cheese, fresh veggies, and other tasty perishables. Half the time or more, I cook in the main-house kitchen (I cannot resist the allure of two ovens and a gas cooktop), but now I have the option.

Still don’t have the TV/VCR/DVD components hooked up, or the stereo, and I still have major unpacking to do. The office furniture is set up, but it will be a week or two before it’s fully usable. I need to hang the tapestry, the pictures, and the curtains. I’m still looking for a rocking chair. But already the studio is home, and at night I can snuggle down into my bed, glance around, and feel secure and loved and at peace.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Make Plans, Not Corpses

Nature can make a disaster; only humans have the hubris to turn it into a tragedy. And humans can, with careful thought, prevent tragedies.

These days I work in Disaster Recovery, so I took a professional as well as personal interest in the effects of rotten planning on the multistage Katrina tragedy. FEMA responded with too little, too late, but that was only one problem. The cutting of budgets and the unrealistic evacuation planning were major factors in the catastrophe.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Are people fools to live in a city that’s below sea level? Possibly, but name another port that isn’t subject to some kind of natural disaster: hurricanes, blizzards, tsunamis, wildfires, mudslides, floods, earthquakes, even volcanoes. (Think New York City, Chicago, Galveston, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Saint Louis, San Francisco, Seattle.) The blissful climate of Northern California contends with occasional shattering earthquakes. The scorching heat and tooth-aching cold of Chicago are their own type of natural disaster: yes, people die in heat waves and in ice storms and in blizzards. Inland cities deal with tornadoes and earthquakes and thunderstorms and floods.

There is no safe place to live, only safe ways to live.

Don’t believe me? Check out this map.

Buffalo, NY, deals nonchalantly with weather that would paralyze Fort Lauderdale. Big snowstorms are mopped up with speed, and kids don’t get many snow days from schools. Likewise, San Francisco is probably the safest place in the United States to go through a huge earthquake. That’s because SF is prepared for earthquakes: roads and buildings are constructed to code, people bolt heavy furniture to walls, factories and office buildings all have earthquake supplies. But an inch of snow would leave thousands stranded, and the annual heat wave leaves people panting and wretched. Nobody knows how to drive in snow, and very few people in the city have air conditioning.

A quarter of the Netherlands is below sea level. The country maintains its 1500 miles of dikes for the sake of the economic advantage for the nation as a whole. New Orleans is a major port and the source of a significant percentage of the oil refining for this nation (a fact our wallets have been proclaiming for the past week or so). Compared to the billions it will take to recover from the disaster, the hundreds of millions that could have prevented it are a pittance.

It’s cheaper to plan wisely than to mop up afterwards. And clearly we cannot leave such planning to the government, given FEMA’s pitiable performance. But what do you expect when you hand over a government agency to people who explicitly state that they don’t believe in government?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Home Is Where the Voices in My Head Agree

After looking intensely for weeks, we may have found a new house to rent.

Note: Given that I live with three other people, the following inner dialogue could be quite confusing. To clarify: Yes, all these voices are me. No, I'm not Sybil.

Heart: I’m in love with it.

The Grownup: It’s a wise choice. Nice neighborhood, quiet street, and very close to where Michele and I work. Not a bad commute for Paul's brand-new contract, either, and quite convenient for Cal State Hayward, where Sonja will be going to school in the spring. With the saving on gas alone, we’ll make up the difference in rent.

The Wage Slave: Maybe I can catch up on sleep now. That would be two hours a day that I wouldn’t be commuting on that wretched freeway.

The Grownup: Nearly 80 miles a day less wear and tear on the car, too. And much less risk of fenderbenders.

The Aesthete: A pleasant neighborhood, definitely preferably to all those Suburbs of the Living Dead you dragged me to see. There’s something appalling about cramming five-bedroom houses eight to an acre.

Suzy Homemaker: They had less space between them than I'd give a squash vine.

The Social Butterfly: What a place to give a dinner party. And we’ll be so much closer to concerts, movies, and our friends. The new town is centrally located, and the public transit is good.

Suzy Homemaker: We’re only half a mile from Trader Joe’s. Plus the garden will be perfect for tomatoes and peppers.

The Aesthete: The grounds, though small, are lovely. Patios and flowerbeds, a fine wisteria, a magnolia tree, and two fountains. Moreover, the fences give the illusion of privacy.

Suzy Homemaker: Plus the trees: Meyer lemons, kumquats, and avocado. I want to put a table on the patio between the studio and the kitchen door of the main house. We could eat most of our meals there. There’s plenty of space.

The Grownup: Well, there are a few space issues—particularly closet space. There really isn’t much.

Suzy Homemaker: But all the closets are lined with cedar!

The Kid: Who needs dumb old clothes anyway? It’s private here.

Suzy Homemaker: It’s time to clear out all the clothes we don’t wear anyway. We could do a fat lady clothing swap.

The Grownup: The ratio of public to private space is better than the current house. I do see a few minor issues, nothing we can't figure out, about allocating bedroom and office space in the main house.

The Kid: Look, my very own playhouse!

Heart: I’m in love with the studio. A whole little suite in a separate building, where I can be alone. I could write there. Listen to music. Blend scents. Privacy. Space. A deep bathtub. I could be alone there. . . . [pause] I could have company there. With a little cozy privacy and a giant bathtub.

Suzy Homemaker: I could set up a little kitchen in the studio for times when I wanted to stay in. There’s a granite counter all ready and waiting. And the house kitchen is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Lots of cupboards and counter space, two big wall ovens, gas cooktop. And a nice view from the window over the sink.

The Aesthete: Nice? It’s more than nice. There are panoramic views of the hills, the bay, San Francisco, and the mountains from the picture windows in the living room and dining room.

Suzy Homemaker: That whole end of the house is almost all glass. We’ll have to wash the windows.

The Grownup: The view is more than 180 degrees. We’ll be exposed to all the weather.

The Kid: Oh goody, thunderstorms!

The Grownup: Probably not many of those, but those single-pane picture windows may make heating and cooling somewhat expensive. No air conditioning, but on this hilltop that’s less of an issue than it is in our current house. And the studio isn’t heated or cooled at all.

Heart: I don’t care. In this climate, it doesn’t matter. I’ll have skylights. I’ll have my own doors. And if we really turn the garage into a library, I’ll be just a step away from all the books I love.

The Aesthete: I approve of the grace and simplicity of the house. Cream walls, oak hardwood floors, pocket doors, and other fine details. We have lived in some beautiful spaces before, but never in a house that so skillfully combines view, gardens, interior spaces, and utility. William Morris would approve.

The Grownup: We all like it, and we’re not likely to find anything nearly as reasonable. There's an Episcopal church in town, too. On balance, the house is an excellent choice.

The vote is unanimous. Now we just have to sort, clear, pack, move, and unpack.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

BASEBALL WATCH: Cautiously Optimistic

My boys have been playing pretty decent baseball all season in the viciously competitive National League East. Most of the time they’ve been over a .500 average. I’ve even gotten used to looking for the Phillies name second or third in the standings, instead of with the mushrooms in the depths of the cellar. We’re now ahead by a half-game over Houston in the wild-card race—and that’s almost unbearable excitement for a Phillies fan.

I won’t make any mocking remarks about the National League West and its fine losing percentage (so much more impressive than its pitiable winning percentage). But I’m immensely proud of my West Coast team. The A’s started off with a truly dismal record. Then they threw themselves into the game and turned it around. Now they’re leading the American League wild-card race.

September is going to be a great baseball month. And who knows? Now that Gene Mauch is dead, maybe we can avoid a September collapse.
NEWSFLASH: Grisly Error in Top Story

This appeared in Editor and Publisher, for the love of Gutenberg.

“There were definitely times when he seemed emotional. He never broke down in tears but there was some pretty grizzly stuff,” Morrison explained.

Not even the angriest bear commits murder by throwing a hot iron at someone. This is a spell-check atrocity.

ADDENDUM: In mercy or annoyance, I emailed E&P before I posted this, and they corrected it posthaste. At least they're responsive.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Advances in Science

Few creatures can be as relaxed as algae. Lolling about on beaches or floating serenely in warm water, they have always exemplified the lily-of-the-field approach to life. They don’t vie to be tallest, unlike redwoods or basketball players. They have no ambitions to corner the market on iodine or build a better lobster pot. They’re blessedly Zen.

Until now. Now scientists have enslaved these free creatures and made them work like Sisyphus.

Cells made to haul tiny cargoes

Scientists in the US have managed to get single cells to ferry objects up and down tiny chambers.

Harvard University experts say, in future, cells could be harnessed to perform micro-scale mechanical work.

The researchers attached a cargo of polystyrene beads to the backs of green algae cells and used light to guide them up and down the chambers.

Details of the work appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"We have basically developed the system of moving objects with micro-organisms," co-author Douglas Weibel, of Harvard University told the BBC News website.
"We harness their motors to make them perform unconventional tasks."

The team have coined the term "microoxen" for the load-bearing microbes.

Nice motor

The Harvard researchers, led by Professor George Whitesides, used the single-celled photosynthetic algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.

The algae are about 10 microns long and propel themselves by beating their two whip-like tails, or flagella, in an action similar to the breaststroke. This action is driven by a type of molecular motor.

The researchers used chemical bonds to attach a cargo load of specially coated polystyrene beads to individual algal cells.

Then they used light of different intensities to guide them up and down the chamber. High-intensity light repels the organisms while low-intensity light attracts them.

Load bearers

Attaching the cargoes seemed to have little or no effect on the speeds at which the cells moved. The loads were unhitched by exposing the algae to ultraviolet light, which broke apart molecules in the coating on the beads.

Dr Weibel said the technique had many potential uses in areas such as molecular medicine.

"You could have a bead that picks up a toxin. So you send them to swim off into the human body, and when they return, you can carry out analysis on the bead," he said.
"It allows you to get a really significant sample of fluid and these cells can swim through cracks and little corners."

There is considerable interest in harnessing biological motors to perform micro-scale mechanical work.

However, most research in this area has focused on isolating the motors within cells and rebuilding them elsewhere, rather than using the living organism to perform the tasks required.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Goodbye, 75152,3640

A dozen years ago, after several months using bulletin boards, I signed up for CompuServe. In those far-off days, the service CompuServe offered was invaluable. In addition to research, email, and eventually Web service, it had forums on every conceivable topic. A CIS forum offered up to 23 bulletin boards (called sections), each with its own library and chat room. The Cooks’ Forum had sections on meats, vegetables, baking, spices, desserts, holidays, gadgets—fascinating discussions, places where you could ask or offer advice. In addition, most forums had a few scheduled real-time conferences, and they all enabled live private chats.

Different forums emphasized different features. Some were mainly libraries for files to download; others had lively discussion boards but few conferences; still others were chatty places where nobody ever looked at the section messages.

CIS users tended to be intelligent people, and many of the forums became solid communities. The support forum where I served as sysop certainly was; in one calendar year, there were a dozen marriages between people who had met there—and that didn’t include the non-legalized relationships. And we weren’t the only ones. After a gap of 8 or 10 years, I went back to the Litforum. Many of the same users were still there.

It’s been a few years since I was seriously involved in the CompuServe forums, and the main support forum I frequented is gone, killed off by the explosion of the Internet. So today I reluctantly cancelled the account I had held so long. I was proud of the CompuServe Classic account, all numeric and starting with 7, that showed how very long I’d been online there. Now it’s closed.

CIS changed my life. Without the tough, honest feedback of other people in a medium I could handle, I might never have found the strength to get out of my marriage. I wouldn’t know Michele or many other old friends I met in the forum. I wouldn’t have moved to California. My life would be unimaginable.

Goodbye, 75152,3640. You served me well.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


What if Osama Bin Laden bombed London? What if a tough, honest East End woman wrote a letter to Osama Bin Laden, telling him her feelings about the deaths of her son and husband in the bombing?

What if a novel based on that premise was published in England on July 7, 2005?

Chris Cleave is the author; Incendiary is his first book. There are still posters for it in the Tube, because the Underground workers are too busy digging out bodies to take down ads, even ones that have become painfully tactless.

The first chapter is up on his web site. I think it’s wonderful—grimly funny, heartbreaking, horrifying.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Heartbreak in Texas

Someone set a black cat on fire. And laughed.

This has got to be some kind of . . . nightmare. Please wake up. Schro never scratches or bites, not even when you grab him in an awkward way. He just lays back in your arms and tilts his chin up for scritches. And purrs. Why? What's the point of hurting something weaker than you are, of hating a creature of pure love?

The cat will live, but the vet bills will be huge. Paypal donations (only if they cause no hardship) are being accepted.

I can't even begin to find the words. I am sick--literally nauseated.

EDIT: Someone is organizing an auction for Schro's vet bills. I'm donating a cross-stitched coaster in the colors and initial of the winner's choice. Donate, buy, spread the word.

UPDATE: No more need, folks. The community (and the dad) has come through.

We're all off the hook now, especially Schro. And there's no way it would have been possible without all of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. You are love.

To those of you who were in the process of getting together donations, please use that funding for the benefit of your own loved ones, be they furred or not, for your personal pleasure, or for your charitable cause of choice. My cup runneth over.

FINAL UPDATE: It was a hoax. I have removed the PayPal information. The friends who know this woman in person, and who vouched for her, are horrified and sorry. The woman claims she was trying to prove that people on the Internet can be decent. Yes, well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Traveling Light

Almost four years ago, I moved to California with nothing but a suitcase, a laptop, and a cat. Today I’m going up to Oakland for a week of catsitting while Debbie and Alan are away, and I am taking:

  • One smallish backpack, containing all the things I’d usually carry in a purse (wallet, keys, pillbox, EpiPen, comb, hair ties, change, pens, unread mail, and PDA crammed with calendar, notes, addresses, data, games, and 17 classic books not in copyright), plus a small portable cross-stitch project (and the usual extra fabric, floss, needles, and scissors that always accumulate), half a dozen books, cell phone, notebook, fountain pen, 12-button ivory cotton evening gloves for sleeping in, and several random pieces of jewelry I took off while carrying the backpack

  • One large carry-on suitcase full of clothes for work and play (too big to fit under an airplane seat, but small enough for the overhead compartment)

  • One satchel crammed with books for research and pleasure (this despite the thousands of books in the home of my hosts)

  • One laptop case, containing computer, power adapter, external hard drive, various cables, a set of large padded earphones (much more comfortable than earbuds), a USB charger/synching cable for the PDA, an inch-thick stack of papers I need to work on, two or three small notebooks, and several movies on DVD

  • One CPAP case, containing a CPAP, humidifier, hose, cord, mask, peak-flow meter (for my asthma, to see if I’m breathing), and a couple of books I couldn’t fit in elsewhere

Crammed in here and there are my digital camera in case I go exploring, a variety of teas, a few staple groceries, and several Tupperware containers I borrowed from Debbie and am now returning. I didn’t bring any art supplies, and the music I have with me is all on the laptop. Really, when you think about it, I am traveling light.

I’ll be buying most of my groceries when I get up there, because I refuse to miss the chance to shop at the fabulous Berkeley Bowl. This legendary independent grocery has the single best produce section I have ever seen. Yes, even better than Wegmans, although not by much. (The deciding factor was the presence of a spectacular range of fresh berries, including gooseberries, marionberries, and three kinds of currants.) The prices are insanely low, too. I do still miss Wegmans. Even their smallest store is more spacious than the narrow, crowded aisles of the Berkeley Bowl.

Also, the Berkeley Bowl doesn’t provide the entertainment Wegmans does. That’s the only store I’ve ever seen that provides customers with electronic scales that let you weigh your own produce, punch in the handy code, and print your very own scannable label with exact pricing.

While I’m gone, I’ll have a three-day weekend for writing—although I’ll also be spending some time with out-of-state relatives. That should be a great pleasure. Maybe Uncle Ben and Aunt Elva will persuade my mother to come for a visit. If they do, I’m sure she’ll show up with only a couple of suitcases.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Lions Rescue, Guard Beaten Ethiopian Girl
By ANTHONY MITCHELL, Associated Press Writer
Tue Jun 21, 8:37 PM ET

A 12-year-old girl who was abducted and beaten by men trying to force her into a marriage was found being guarded by three lions who apparently had chased off her captors, a policeman said Tuesday.

The girl, missing for a week, had been taken by seven men who wanted to force her to marry one of them, said Sgt. Wondimu Wedajo, speaking by telephone from the provincial capital of Bita Genet, about 350 miles southwest of Addis Ababa.

She was beaten repeatedly before she was found June 9 by police and relatives on the outskirts of Bita Genet, Wondimu said. She had been guarded by the lions for about half a day, he said.

"They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest," Wondimu said.

"If the lions had not come to her rescue, then it could have been much worse. Often these young girls are raped and severely beaten to force them to accept the marriage," he said.

Tilahun Kassa, a local government official who corroborated Wondimu's version of the events, said one of the men had wanted to marry the girl against her wishes.

"Everyone thinks this is some kind of miracle, because normally the lions would attack people," Wondimu said.

Stuart Williams, a wildlife expert with the rural development ministry, said the girl may have survived because she was crying from the trauma of her attack.

"A young girl whimpering could be mistaken for the mewing sound from a lion cub, which in turn could explain why they didn't eat her," Williams said.

Ethiopia's lions, famous for their large black manes, are the country's national symbol and adorn statues and the local currency. Despite a recent crackdown, Hunters also kill the animals for their skins, which can fetch $1,000. Williams estimates that only 1,000 Ethiopian lions remain in the wild.

The girl, the youngest of four siblings, was "shocked and terrified" after her abduction and had to be treated for the cuts from her beatings, Wondimu said.

Friday, June 17, 2005

California Raining

After this week’s seismic jiggling, several friends have asked me, “How can you stand to live there? Aren’t you scared of earthquakes?”

The answer is, of course, that I’m prepared for them, but I don't obsess over them any more than I used to obsess over snowstorms and lightning and heat waves, back when I lived in a four-season climate.

Pennsylvanians keep snow shovels and salt for icy paths, and they unplug the computer whenever thunderstorms come; Californians fasten bookcases to the wall with brackets and watch where they place their beds to avoid being crushed by falling furniture. The weather (or the quakes) wax and wane as a topic of conversation. Occasionally a big quake or a notable blizzard will hit, producing a crop of anecdotes and a few untimely deaths.

Right now the biggest topic of conversation (not to mention the greatest hazard to life and limb) isn't the side effects of plate tectonics. It's the unprecedented rain we've been having.

It’s global warming!

It’s a sign of the Apocalypse!

It’s rain in June.

This year we've had twice as much rain in June as usual, and people are complaining bitterly. After a soggy May, we were all hoping for some sunshine, but so far June has featured spectacularly wet weather.

This is a state where mudslides routinely take out communities of million-dollar homes (which would cost about $250,000 anywhere else), where wildfires are an essential part of the ecosystem, where people continue to buy overpriced real estate despite the omnipresent threat of the Big Quake. Californians are nonchalant when it comes to dealing with Mother Nature’s biggest tantrums. To scare them, the rainfall has to be impressive.

How much rain have we had? Twice the average.

The average rainfall for June is a scant tenth of an inch.

That's right. We've had less than a quarter-inch of rain this month, and Californians are behaving as though they’ve been martyred—not to mention driving as though they hope to die for their faith that all roads are dry.

Rain has much the same effect on California freeways as ice or snow does in Philadelphia or Washington, DC: it causes panic in some drivers, who slow to 5 mph, and contempt in others, who continue to drive at 75 mph. Clearly a recipe for disaster.

Moreover, the dust and oil of the freeways tends to accumulate between storms, creating a viciously slick surface that, in the first minutes of a shower, can rival black ice for treacherous skidworthiness.

The mournful toll of multicar pileups, solo spin-outs, and overturned vehicles shouldn’t surprise me. I hope that someday people will adjust to the fact that they live in a place that gets rain sometimes, and learn to drive in it. Perhaps then Mother Nature will relent and give us clear skies until the rain is scheduled to start again in November.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

California Quaking

The San Andreas Fault has been active lately, but today is really something. Within about 90 seconds, it broke twice in Yucaipa, near San Bernadino, producing a 3.5 and a 5.3. The area is still quivering with small quakes about every 90 seconds.

This is not surprising, really. The offshore quake two days ago was a big one--7.2--and Monday's Chilean earthquake was a huge 7.9.

No, I can't feel these quakes. The offshore one was a couple hundred miles north of us, and today's little shocks are 400 miles south. Still, we're close to the San Andreas, and I work in the East Bay, right on top the Hayward Fault. It's always wise to keep an eye out for what the plates are doing.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Happy Birthday, Apple ][

On this day in 1977, the very first Apple ][ computers shipped. The boxes didn’t include a monitor, a modem, a floppy drive, or a hard drive. ”The standard configuration included 4K of memory, two game paddles, and a demo cassette with programs, costing $1,298. Home televisions were usually used for monitors.”

Twenty-eight years later, the once bleeding-edge Apple ][ is laughably quaint with its maximum RAM of 48K—yes, that’s kilobytes, not megabytes, certainly not gigabytes. But it still holds a place in many geeks’ hearts. The Model T of home computers, the Apple ][ brought high tech to the masses. Simple to use, with some incredibly handy programs, it was also advanced technology for the time. (It was the first computer to support a color display.) The Apple ][ set the standard for home microcomputers.

This workhorse and its successors, the ][+ and ][e, stayed in production for years. Because they were designed to be easily modified by hobbyists, you could make your computer your own. Snapping the lid up to add a card was simple and fun. I had no high-tech training at all, but I did a fair bit of tinkering with the insides of my ][e over the years.

The integrated keyboard had a satisfying feel. Like all Apple products, the case design was simple, striking, elegant, and the interface was eminently usable. That’s astonishing, given the fact that ”early computers didn't necessarily have a case or even a keyboard. On some systems you had to added your own keyboard, if possible, and on others you toggled switches to enter programs and issue commands.”

Soon the Apple floppy drive was introduced, but the ][ never had a hard drive. You could get internal storage for the ][e with a device called a RamDisk, but it was volatile. If the electricity went out or the computer was turned off, the data disappeared. An additional device called a RamCharger kept your data saved even with the computer turned off. I bought one of these in 1988. That single megabyte of storage cost me a thousand dollars.

I bought the Apple ][e in August 1985 and used it hard for the next eight years, writing several books and all my grad-school papers on it. Until it finally expired in 1993, it never gave me a lick of trouble. (It also never distracted me with the Internet, and only rarely with games.) I still have 5.25-inch floppies with old data on them.

Just for the sake of comparison: At age 28, most physicians are still in training. Most athletes are in their prime (except for gymnasts). Houses are thinking about a new roof and some updated decorating. Cars have become classic—but in California, at least, many are still rustless and on the road. Horses are close to the glue factory, but parrots and turtles are still youngsters. Visual art is still relatively new, maybe even controversial, while films and music have become either classic or passé. A cast-iron frying pan is still developing its patina. A bottle of Puligny-Montrachet burgundy is entering its most glorious phase. (And 1977 was a great vintage.)

When faced with a roomful of shy, silent geeks, you can always get a lively conversation going reminiscing about the old Apples.

The Apple ][ was beautifully designed. It was insanely great. It changed the world.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Let's Make This Woman President

This speech is too eloquent, too powerful, too full of truth and passion and reason to cut. Representative Senfronia Thompson speaks with the tongues of men and angels, and she has love, as well as a righteous fire that would be unpleasantly familiar to the moneychangers in the Temple and the Pharisees praying on street corners to parade their holiness.

HJR 6 Speech by Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston)

I have been a member of this august body for three decades, and today is one of the all-time low points. We are going in the wrong direction, in the direction of hate and fear and discrimination. Members, we all know what this is about; this is the politics of divisiveness at its worst, a wedge issue that is meant to divide.

Members, this issue is a distraction from the real things we need to be working on. At the end of this session, this Legislature, this Leadership will not be able to deliver the people of Texas, fundamental and fair answers to the pressing issues of our day.

Let's look at what this amendment does not do: It does not give one Texas citizen meaningful tax relief. It does not reform or fully fund our education system. It does not restore one child to CHIP, who was cut from health insurance last session. It does not put one dime into raising Texas' Third World access to health care. It does not do one thing to care for or protect one elderly person or one child in this state. In fact, it does not even do anything to protect one marriage.

Members, this bill is about hate and fear and discrimination. I know something about hate and fear and discrimination. When I was a small girl, white folks used to talk about "protecting the institution of marriage" as well. What they meant was if people of my color tried to marry people of Mr. Chisum's color, you'd often find the people of my color hanging from a tree. That's what the white folks did back then to "protect marriage." Fifty years ago, white folks thought inter-racial marriages were a "threat to the institution of marriage."

Members, I'm a Christian and a proud Christian. I read the Good Book, and do my best to live by it. I have never read the verse where it says, "gay people can't marry." I have never read the verse where it says, "thou shalt discriminate against those not like me." I have never read the verse where it says, "let's base our public policy on hate and fear and discrimination." Christianity to me is love and hope and faith and forgiveness-- not hate and discrimination.

I have served in this body a lot of years-- and I have seen a lot of promises broken. I should be up here demanding my 40 acres and a mule because that's another promise you broke. You used a wealthy white minister cloaked in the cloth to ease the stench of that form of discrimination.

So, now that blacks and women can vote, and now that blacks and women have equal rights-- you turn your hatred to homosexuals-- and you still use your misguided reading of the Bible to justify your hatred. You want to pass this ridiculous amendment so you can go home and brag-- brag about what? Declare that you saved the people of Texas from what?

Persons of the same sex cannot get married in this State now. Texas does not now recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, religious unions, domestic partnerships, contractual arrangements or Christian blessings entered into in this State-- or anywhere else on this planet Earth.

If you want to make your hateful political statements then that is one thing-- the Chisum amendment does real harm. It repeals the contracts that many single people have paid thousands of dollars to purchase to obtain medical powers of attorney, powers of attorney, hospital visitation, joint ownership and support agreements. You have lost your way-- this is obscene.

Today, you are playing to the lowest common denominator-- you are putting aside the real issues of substance that we need to address so that you can instead play on the public's fears and prejudices to deceive and manipulate voters into thinking that we have done something important.

I realize that gay rights are not the same as civil rights-- but I can guarantee you we are going in the wrong direction. I can not hide my skin color. In fact, in most of the South, people as pink as Rep. Wayne Smith were still Black by law if they had a great grandparent who was African. I was unable to attend an integrated and equally funded school until I got my Master of Laws degree. There were separate and unequal facilities for nearly everything.

I got second-hand textbooks even worse than the kind you're trying to pass off on every public school student next year. I had to ride to school on the back of the bus. I had to quench my thirst from filthy coloreds-only drinking fountains. I had to enter restaurants from the kitchen door. I was banned from entering most public accommodations, even from serving on a jury. I had to live with the fear that getting too uppity could get you killed --- or worse. I know what third-class citizenship feels like. In my first term, one of my colleagues walked up and down this aisle muttering about how Nigras should be back in the field picking cotton instead of picking out committees.

So, I have to wonder about Rep. Chisum's 3/5 of a person amendment. Some of you folks hid behind your Bible then, too, to justify your cultural prejudices, your denial of liberty, and your gunpoint robbery of human dignity.

We have worked hard at putting our prejudices against homosexuals in law. We have denied them basic job protections. We have denied them and their children freedom from bullying and harassment at school. We have tried to criminalize their very existence. But, we have also absolved them of all family duties and responsibilities: to care for and support their spouses and children, to count their family's assets in determining public assistance, to obtain health insurance for dependents, to make end-of-life or necessary medical decisions for their life partners--- sometimes even to visit in the hospital, even to defend our own country. And then, we can stand on our two hind legs and proclaim, "See, I told you homosexual families are unstable." And nearly every one of you on this Floor has a homosexual in their extended families.

Some of you have shunned and isolated these family members. Some of you, even some of the joint coauthors, have embraced them within your own family for the essence of Christianity is love. Yet,you are now poised to constitutionalize discrimination against a particular class of people. I thought we would be debating real issues: education, health care for kids, teacher's health insurance, health care for the elderly, protecting survivors of sexual assault, protecting the pensions of seniors in nursing homes.

I thought we would be debating economic development, property tax relief, protecting seniors pensions and stem cell research, to save lives of Texans who are waiting for a more abundant life. Instead we are wasting this body's time with this political stunt that is nothing more than constitutionalizing discrimination. The prejudices exhibited by members of this body disgust me.

Last week, Republicans used a political wedge issue to pull kids-- sweet little vulnerable kids-- out of the homes of loving parents and put them back in a state orphanage just because those parents are gay. That's disgusting. Today, we are telling homosexuals that just like people of my ilk, when I was a small child; they too are second class citizens.

I have listened to all the arguments. I have listened to all of the crap. Mr. Chisum is a person who I consider my good friend and revere. But, I want you to know that this amendment is blowing smoke to fuel the hell-fire flames of bigotry.

You are trying to protect your constituents from danger. This amendment is a CYB amendment for you to go home and talk about.

The amendment passed in the Texas house, but has not yet been sponsored in the state Senate.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

You're Invited!

This weekend, MIT will host a convention for students, scientists, and persons yet unborn. No, it's not a rally for Embryo Rights (imprisoned in the red walls of an indifferent uterus, slaving without respite or compensation at cell division, forced to listen to the high-decibel jackhammering of cardiac functions and the menacing gurgles of digestion, these youthful citizens demand to be freed—and given the vote!).

No, it's the Time Travelers Convention. Anyone is welcome, although I imagine that special courtesies would be accorded Albert Einstein, Dr. Who, H.G. Wells, and anyone who managed to arrive from the future. (I'm assuming that at some future date, resurrection might be possible, or at least communication with the dead.)

I'm from the future, and I'd like to attend!

We're not sure how you're emailing us from the future, but we'd love to have you! Come as you are! No dress code whatsoever. We do request that you bring some sort of proof that you do indeed come from the future, and haven't just dressed like you do. We welcome any sort of proof, but things like a cure for AIDS or cancer, a solution for global poverty, or a cold fusion reactor would be particularly convincing as well as greatly appreciated. (No RSVP required.)

Appropriately enough, the events start at 8PM, but the advertised start time is actually two hours later.

The Time Traveler Convention
May 7, 2005, 10:00pm EDT (08 May 2005 02:00:00 UTC)
(events start at 8:00pm)
East Campus Courtyard, MIT
3 Ames St. Cambridge, MA 02142
42:21:36.025°N, 71:05:16.332°W
(42.360007,-071.087870 in decimal degrees)

Be there now, or wait until time travel is invented and be there later.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Great News in Baseball

The Phillies have a better record than the New York Yankees. They're 11 and 16. We're 12 and 15.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

HISTORY: "Now He Belongs to the Ages"

It was Good Friday, 140 years ago. The war had been over for five days, ever since Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to U.S. Grant. Grant, merciless in battle, refused to live up to his nickname of "Unconditional Surrender." Instead of exulting over his defeated enemy, he offered generous terms that allowed the former soldiers and officers a chance to retain their dignity and their hope of getting in a crop in time so they wouldn't starve the next winter.

Nevertheless, the dissension was far from over. Northern fanatics wanted to crush the South. Southern fanatics wanted revenge. And President Lincoln wanted a peaceful night out at the theater.

You know what happened there. He lay wounded and dying for nine hours, then he too surrendered.

In honor of our greatest President, let me quote his own words. The occasion was his second inaugural, March 4,1865.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, urgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came. 

. . . Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. . . . Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." 

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. 

Monday, April 11, 2005

FAVORITES: Some Nonfiction I Love, Part I

If I wait until I have thought of and filled out all the categories, I'll be 90 when I post this. (Damn. I'm more than halfway there. Hmmm.) So I've decided to post this in bits and pieces.

So, here are some of my favorite books, conveniently sorted into categories. With notes, naturally. These are not The Best. They're the ones I return to over and over, seeking wisdom, comfort, laughter, whatever it is that books give me.


John Keegan, The Face of Battle -- Fascinating look at how ordinary soldiers experienced battle -- what they saw, heard, felt -- in three of the great battles: Agincourt, Waterloo, and the first day of the Somme in WWI. Keegan writes elegant prose, and the ideas are astonishing. There are also a couple of chapters looking at historiography and the future of battle. Try to get one of the editions with photographs.

Priscilla Robertson, An Experience of Women. Well-written history with plenty of insight into both culture and character. It covers women's lives in Italy, France, Germany, and Great Britain during the 19th century. I also treasure it because it was one of the first books I ever worked on. (Also one of the most perfectly presented mss. I've ever handled.)

Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror. Such a classic it's almost embarrassing to include it, but I like Tuchman's writing, and the period fascinates me.

Carolly Erickson, Our Tempestuous Day: A History of Regency England. I've done a lot of research into this period, and this book covers the ground thoroughly, from political movements to personal lives.

Antonia Fraser, Mary Queen of Scots and The Weaker Vessel (or anything else, really). She's a much better writer of history than of mystery.

Robert K. Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra and The Romanovs: The Final Chapter. The last czar and his family epitomize the tragedy of disconnection. Essentially pleasant, well-meaning people who genuinely wanted the best for their country, they nevertheless could not understand the implications of their behavior or perceive the damage they were doing, and they died for their ignorance. I find the DNA discussions (and the implications of identifying the Romanovs' bodies) absolutely riveting.

Norman MacLean, Young Men and Fire. Lyrical, dark, tragic, compulsively readable.


Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (and anything else). Oliver Sacks sees his patients in humanistic, spiritual, and scientific frameworks. This triple view gives rise to extraordinarily nuanced and profound writing about what it means to think, to feel, to remember, to forget.

Richard Preston, The Hot Zone. It's terrifying! It's educational! It will make your breath come short! Oh, and his other books -- American Steel, for example -- are equally good.

Dr. X, Intern. I know it's outdated. I read it when it was new (say, about 1965), and he'd been a practicing doctor for a while then. But this account of an intern's training (taken from a series of taped diary entries) has the immediacy and impact of watching it all happen live. A friend tells me that this book was written by Dr. Alan E. Nourse, who became a science-fiction writer. That information (which is readily confirmed by a Web search on Nourse) has solved a mystery that lasted forty years. Now I feel weirdly happy.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

CALIFORNIA: Some Quotations

I'm not the first person to try to understand this place. Here are comments from a few others who came, saw, and marvelled.

"CALLIFORNIA, a large country of the West Indies... It is uncertain whether it be a peninsula or an island."—Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1st Edition (1771)

(Thus the title of Elna S. Bakker's indispensable study of the state's natural history, An Island Called California.)

The depth of California is extraordinary: it is the high tower and the bottomless pit, Babel and Gehenna. The land itself said as much, giving the state the highest and lowest points among the continental states and placing them so close together that they could hardly escape notice.—Wilson Carey McWilliams

You don't have to enjoy being miserable anymore; you're in California now.—Matthew Fisher

Here is a climate that breeds vigour, with just sufficient geniality to prevent the expenditure of most of that vigour in fighting the elements. Here is a climate where a man can work three hundred and sixty-five days in the year without the slightest hint of enervation, and where for three hundred and sixty-five nights he must perforce sleep under blankets. What more can one say? ... Nevertheless I take my medicine by continuing to live in this climate. Also, it is the only medicine I ever take.—Jack London

Californians try everything once.—T.J. MacGregor

When asked to comment on the fires ravaging his state, Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger said "These fires are fantastic. I promise the people of California that my term will be non-stop action and excitement—keep it coming, we're gonna have earthquakes and monsoons, we are gonna make California the number one action state in the country."—Tina Fey

About the only part of a California house you can't put your foot through is the door.—Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

California is a queer place—in a way, it has turned its back on the world, and looks into the void Pacific. It is absolutely selfish, very empty, but not false, and at least, not full of false effort.... It's sort of crazy-sensible. Just the moment: hardly as far ahead as carpe diem.—D.H. Lawrence

In California everyone goes to a therapist, is a therapist, or is a therapist going to a therapist.—Truman Capote

Californians invented the concept of life-style. This alone warrants their doom.—Don DeLillo

Whatever starts in California unfortunately has a tendency to spread.—Jimmy Carter, a remark in cabinet meeting, 1977

There is a theory that almost anything that's fun is going to be ruined sooner or later by people from California. They tend to bring seriousness to subjects that don't deserve it, and they tend to get very good at things that weren't very important in the first place.—Calvin Trillin

California can and does furnish the best bad things that are obtainable in America.—Hinton R. Helper

The devil having been banished and virtue being triumphant, nothing terribly interesting can ever happen again.—George F. Kennan on California's resemblance to heaven.

I am beginning to think that everyone in California is here by mistake.—Woody Allen

He was wearing a hat and a necktie so he couldn't have been in California long.—Dorothy Hughes

Did California cause any of this? No, though it does seem to draw to it people with unusual inclinations.—Jessamyn West

California is often compared to a lodestone, or a magnet, or the moon drawing the tides. On occasion, California is fancifully described as an enchantress—Circe, or one of the Sirens or the Lorelei. Every utopian name imaginable has been applied at some time—Atlantis, Arcadia, Avalon, the Garden of Eden, El Dorado, the Elysian Fields, the Garden of the Golden Apples, the Happy Valley, the Isle of the Blest, the Land of Milk and Honey, the Land of Prester John, Mecca, the New Jerusalem, the Pleasure Dome of Kublai Khan, the Promised Land, the Terrestrial Paradise, and Treasure Island.—Dora Beale Polk

Essentially California developed outside the framework, the continuum, of the American frontier. The difference is that between a child raised in the home of his parents, with relatives and familiar surroundings, and the child taken from his home at an early age and brought up in a remote and different environment.—Carey McWilliams

What’s the answer to my state? There must be an answer to everything but for California I can reach no conclusion. Statisticians have tried. Even the Heaven on Earth Club has tried. But California continues to erupt.—Max Miller

Friday, April 01, 2005

PASSING BELLS: As John Paul II Lies Dying

I am praying for his peaceful death and his joyful entry into Heaven.

And after the rejoicing, I suspect that Mary is going to give him a little lecture on birth control and abortion, and Jesus one on liberation theology.

I have not always agreed with this Pope. But I honor his courage, his intelligence, his joyful spirit, his honesty, and his moral clarity about things like war, capitalism, and totalitarian regimes. The first Polish Pope, the first non-Italian in 500 years, made public apologies for the Church's role in persecuting Jews and Galileo. He changed the Church. He changed the world. Skier, poet, actor, scholar -- Karol Wojtyla was an extraordinary man, and John Paul II was a very great pope. No matter how strongly I disgreed with his views, I never, for one moment, doubted either his personal integrity or his profound compassion.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

SCIENCE: The Decline of Western Civilization

My cousin Cindy, who teaches biology in a midwestern college, occasionally sends me reports of her students. Longtime readers may remember the student who stubbornly insisted that fire was a living creature. If they're typical, we should view the future with trepidation.

Yesterday I had at least 6 students (there were only 5 groups!) come and say, "so what do we do now?" after they had picked up their supplies (step 1), even though I had just handed out the written procedure to them.

Step 2 was "Put the strawberries into the ziplock bag."
Halloween or Easter?

Alan Bostick reminds us of what can be done with those leftover marshmallow peeps, assuming the candy is possessed by the devil. But then people have always done unwholesome things with peeps: "It's medical experiments for the lot of you!"

Genuinely . . . Lovecraftian.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Unnatural Writing Quirks

Tod Goldberg, novelist and blogger of Natural Selection, has been reading students' manuscripts. Since the students are trying to gain entry to an advanced novel writing course, they are, one presumes, sending their best work. He really shouldn't be forced to tell them:

If any of your dialogue regularly has the following tags, please consider a lower division course: interjected, retorted, perked, chided, elaborated, huffed, declared, admonished, clarified, ejaculated, defecated, spurted, sputtered, blustered, feigned, forced, exclaimed, condemned, purported, reacted, cautioned, cajoled, stated, lauded, or lambasted. Also, if you find yourself placing adverbs alongside any of those words -- like, "I hate to read poorly written dialogue," Bob blustered angrily -- perhaps pick up any of your favorite novels and check to see how many times anyone says something, you know, furtively.

Of course, I am jaded by too many years wielding a red pencil. The other day, I got a call from an editorial friend. She was whimpering, barely coherent. "The possessive form of it," she moaned.

"Yes, it's spelled without an apostrophe."

"I know. It doesn't have an apostrophe. But-- but-- it certainly doesn't have two apostrophes."

"Your author spelled it with two apostrophes?"

"He spelled it it's'. And this is the guy who sends around the grammar suggestions. Today's was a warning against using cliches."

"At least he followed his own advice. That's the most original misspelling of its that I've run across."

Thursday, March 17, 2005

HOLIDAY: In Honor of St. Patrick . . .

I'm going to post about Florence King. Yes, the atheist, Republican lesbian feminist writer.

This is not nearly so insane as it sounds. Her legendary early bodice-ripper, The Barbarian Princess (published in 1977 under the pseudonym Laura Buchanan), featured a hot scene in which the heroine almost deflowered the young, handsome Patricius. Unfortunately, he was kidnapped at a critical moment, starting him on the road to sainthood but leaving the heroine with blue ovaries.

I recently reread her Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady, which is right up there with James Thurber's My Life and Hard Times as a classic American comic memoir. It might be even better, for King's book has a profound theme: the search for a feminine identity.

Granny and Aunt Nana define it as fragility, although Granny prefers the pelvic weakness of being "delicate down below," whereas Aunt Nana plumps for insanity. (They collaborate on Cousin Evelyn Cunningham, who ends up hysterically obsessed with losing her uterus as well as her mind.) Herb, Florence King's self-educated Cockney father, explains it all in the terms of Henry Adams: the virgin and the Venus are archetypes of female power, but neither is American. For a while, Florence's love of the French language gives her an easy proof of femininity, but she loses her "-elle, -ette, and -euse" with heartbreaking results. She pursues self-definition in the embrace of men, women, and academia.

The book makes me laugh even on the dozenth rereading. It has deeper feeling than Southern Ladies and Gentlemen, although that's also brilliant. I've bought and given away ten or fifteen copies; it's my standard gift for Yankees moving south and for homesick southerners. (Yes, I am a Yankee, but I also have cousins in deepest Alabama. My cousin Bobby is a classic Good Old Boy, and his daughter is a belle.)

Some Florence King quotations:

"No matter which sex I went to bed with, I never smoked on the street."

"Like charity, schizophrenia begins at home."

"There is no such thing as a fallen woman; when she steps out of her place, she always steps up."

"Silver is the Southern woman’s proudest possession and highest priority as well as the subject of much of her conversation. The night before her daughter’s wedding, a Southern mother will sit on the bed and talk intimately about silver. Every decent woman goes to her husband with twelve "covers," and if the knives have hollow handles he’ll be running with other women before the year is out, you wait and see. No man respects a woman with hollow handles."

"Americans worship creativity the way they worship physical beauty -- as a way of enjoying elitism without guilt: God did it."

"Any hope that America would finally grow up vanished with the rise of fundamentalist Christianity. Fundamentalism, with its born-again regression, its pink-and-gold concept of heaven, its literal-mindedness, its rambunctious good cheer... its anti-intellectualism... its puerile hymns... and its faith-healing... are made to order for King Kid America."

"Judge not, lest ye be judged judgmental."

"Showing up at school already able to read is like showing up at the undertaker's already embalmed: people start worrying about being put out of their jobs."

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Moral High Ground

My friend Debbie said some time ago: Israel has clearly lost, by the whole Palestinian thing, a huge portion of the moral high ground handed to Jews-in-general by the Nazis.

This statement is, to me, one key to the problems of identity politics, not to mention the psychology of abuse.

In my opinion, nobody gets the moral high ground based on anything but how they’re behaving now. It’s based on what you actually do, not who you think you are and not what was done to you. Neither heroism nor victimhood is an entitlement, much less an excuse.

I hereby declare a moratorium on using victimhood as a deed to the moral high ground.

Victimhood—now or in the past, direct or indirect, whether determined by chance, genetics, race, creed, color, social status, economic status, age, shape, size, gender, sexual preference, accent, disability, personal achievement, birth order, irrational dislike, or anything else—is not a free pass marked "Get out of Guilt Free." It does not grant you permanent immunity from responsibility for your actions, nor can you hand down such immunity to your great-grandchildren or to people who share similar culture or genetics. It does not justify your use of unfair or cruel tactics in self-defense. It does not automatically award you the coveted Halo of Martyrdom—a razor-edged circle that, when thrown like a Frisbee, can decapitate your enemies. (In self-defense.)

This goes in personal relationships as well. I know the psychology of abusers. I know how it feels to say, “They made me do it to them.” I understand violence—physical and emotional and even financial—done in self-defense. And it’s wrong.

I also declare a permanent ban on claiming heroism or good-guy status as an excuse for behavior that would shame a wolverine.

That means the United States cannot decide that since we rode to the rescue of Europe in 1917 and 1941, anything we do now (or did then) is automatically virtuous. The firebombing of Dresden was an atrocity. We did it. It would be wrong no matter who did it, and pretending that our status as world heroes makes it acceptable is contemptible. The same kind of thinking made the Glen Ridge high school football stars think it was fine to rape a mentally retarded girl while their teammates looked on. They were heroes, and heroes are allowed.

We cannot whine that Hitler was worse, or that the Soviets cold-bloodedly murdered 15,000 to 25,000 Polish officers at Katyn Forest and two other sites. Moral responsibility is not a zero-sum game. There is plenty of it to go around.

Self-proclaimed heroism is just as dangerous as being a victim.

Hitler could argue that he was just trying to defend and protect Germany, which had been shamefully treated by the Treaty of Versailles. Stalin could argue that he was trying to build a new society free of the brutal oppression that characterized life under the Romanov czars. Nicholas could argue that he was just doing what he thought was best for his country, that the peasants were like children who needed a firm hand, and that he and his family lived relatively simple lives. The French aristos could argue that they were just having fun. They gave to charity and went to church. Was it their fault that the peasants were filthy and starving, that a few rogue aristos killed the peasants for sport? And Robespierre could argue that he had to build a new France, that the purity of his goals justified Madame Guillotine.

In justifying atrocity, victimhood and heroism tend to work together. Much of current US foreign and domestic policy is based on a revolting mixture of the two. As victims of a dreadful attack, we behave as if we’re justified in violating the basic tenets of the Constitution we are supposed to be defending. And as heroes and good guys, we invaded Iraq—not even questioning the effect of what we’re doing.

From the days of the Revolution, the United States have always defined ourselves as the good guys. We the people started out doing something unprecedented, and, yes, laudable in idea if not in practice. (I revere our Constitution as much as anyone, but the line about slaves being counted as 3/5 of a human being makes me sick.) But instead of using that sense of righteousness as a yardstick to measure our actions, we have all too often used it as a way to justify violence, oppression, and naked greed. And these days, torture.

It all boils down to individual responsibility of a very specific kind. Each person is responsible for the damage they do directly or enable to be done indirectly—both for kicking the cat and for buying clothes made by slave labor.

We have to stop pluming ourselves on who we are, and start looking at what we are doing.

Friday, January 21, 2005

REVIEW: Dinner at Rivoli

Wednesday night four of us celebrated Alan Bostick’s birthday with dinner at Rivoli in Berkeley. According to its web page, “Rivoli strives to be a hands on, moderately priced restaurant with simple and creative food, carefully selected wines and comfortable service in a warm and lively atmosphere.”

They succeed. I left the restaurant feeling the blissful glow that arises from being well fed, well cared for, and well loved.

Dining out when you have serious food allergies can be an exercise in frustration and occasionally a danger to life. Over the years, I’ve seen all the things that can go wrong: waiters indifferent to my concerns, cooks ignorant of their ingredients, the omnipresent possibility of a serious food reaction. Even if I don’t end up in the ER, a reaction spoils the evening for everybody else and spoils the week for me. (It takes that long to recuperate.) Giving the allergy speech is always a time-consuming and generally miserable experience, and I’ve learned to hate it. It’s humiliating to explain these issues, and it’s bloody frustrating not to be able to eat what others can.

A good waitstaff and a knowledgeable chef can make all the difference. Rivoli has both. We all ate different things, and it was all perfectly cooked, elegantly presented, and reasonably priced. And none of it sent me to the hospital.

I started with portabella fritters with a dipping sauce of subtle lemon aioli. The crisp slices of mushroom were fanned out on a bed of arugula and topped with caper vinaigrette—an astonishing riff on the old fried mushroom standby. Every bite was a rainbow of flavors and textures: crunchy, earthy, bright, creamy.

For a main course, I chose grilled scallops. Because of my allergies, I can almost never order seafood in restaurants, and I was eager to taste these, but half afraid something would go wrong: too much heat turns scallops into 50-caliber rubber bullets suitable for subduing crazed rioters, and an extra day or so between sea and plate can give them an unpleasant doctor’s office flavor of iodine and disappointment.

The first taste brought tears to my eyes. These beauties were of a melting tenderness and velvety fresh flavor. They were bedded on a mound of soothingly creamy mashed potatoes and surrounded by grilled Brussels sprouts, the apotheosis of that maligned and maltreated vegetable. The roasted tomatoes were small, sweet, perfectly flavorful.

For dessert I ordered Meyer lemon curd tart, tart and fresh, sparked with blood oranges and a touch of bergamot in the sauce. Not too sweet, not too tart—balanced on the point of maximum flavor.

Not only did I have a meal that was transcendently delicious, I had superb service to go with it. Alan's partner Debbie had made inquiries beforehand to make sure there would be something I could eat, but we also checked with the waiter. He was a model of everything a good waiter should be: friendly, unobtrusive, aware, skilled, and concerned. He made substitutions with no problem, and never interrupted the conversation. He even picked up that it was Alan’s birthday and added a small candle to his dessert. Nothing flashy or humiliating—just a little notice taken.

The ambiance matched the quality of the food and service. Although every table was at capacity, the room felt welcoming and peaceful, not noisy or claustrophobic. The acoustic engineering may have had something to do with the miraculous quiet, and the quality of the food certainly did—people were too busy savoring the food and the blissful serenity it engendered to get noisy. I didn’t even hear a cell phone ring all evening. Nor were we tormented with Muzak.

Part of the reason for the serene atmosphere, though, was surely the vast glass wall at the rear of the restaurant, which showcased a beautiful shade garden: ferns, cyclamen, bleeding hearts, a grand magnolia tree coming into bloom. Lit like a stage, the garden drew the eye away from the proximity of one’s neighbors and toward the open space. I’ve noticed the same effect in traffic jams on certain freeways: being stuck on 85, 280, or 680 never feels as edgy, frustrating, and claustrophobic as being stuck on the ugly, billboard-dotted freeways such as the 101 or 880.

We were seated at the back corner of the restaurant, next to the wall. Under a stone bench were a couple of bowls of dry cat food and two cats enjoying their dinner. The waiter explained that we were likely to see some wildlife, too: raccoons and even skunks. As the evening went on, half a dozen raccoon families showed up for dinner. Their manners were hilarious, too: one or two would appear, then the kids would climb right over the parents to get at the food.

Inside Rivoli, the behavior of the diners was more controlled but no less eager. The food was a revelation. My reactions to each new dish contributed at least as much as the raccoons did to the entertainment of my companions.

Finally we staggered forth, utterly sated. My one unfulfilled wish is that Alan could have a birthday three or four times a year. Or as often as the menus change.

Rivoli: 1539 Solano Ave. Berkeley, CA
(510) 526-2542