March 2014

after 3/22/14 here

Year of the Horse




Readership this week has been consistently high, in part due to my interest in local air quality.







"Spain: Flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia dies at 66" Ciaran Giles at

"Paco de Lucia, one of the world's greatest guitarists who dazzled audiences with his lightning-speed flamenco rhythms and finger work, has died in Mexico, Spanish officials said Wednesday. He was 66.

De Lucia suffered a heart attack while on vacation at the Caribbean beach resort of Playa del Carmen and died in a hospital, Quintana Roo state attorney general Gaspar Armando Garcia told Mexico's Enfoque Radio."


Paco de Lucia playing via youtube is here.







"Berkeley's Jazzschool now the California Jazz Conservatory" Jesse Hamlin,

Susan Muscarella

"Newly accredited Berkeley school chooses 1st artist-in-residence.

Pianist Susan Muscarella was teaching jazz at UC Berkeley 36 years ago when she first heard Benny Green. She was auditioning the serious little swinger for the piano chair in the storied Berkeley High jazz band directed by the late Phil Hardymon, who disliked the sometimes alienating audition process, so he enlisted his friend Muscarella. She'd later hire Hardymon to teach at the jazz school she started on Shattuck Avenue in 1997, and name the performance space in the Jazzschool's new Addison Street digs Hardymon Hall.

'Benny was amazing then,' says Muscarella, who has chosen the celebrated pianist as the first artist-in-residence at the just-accredited California Jazz Conservatory, the new name for the Jazzschool. Its four-year program offering a bachelor of music degree in jazz studies was certified this week by the National Association of Schools of Music, a major milestone that, in addition to attesting to the school's rigorous academic and artistic standards, qualifies the conservatory's students for federal loans and allows it to admit students from abroad. "







Sarah's sister Kate writes of "Sometimes what feels like a bad ending is really just the beginning of a better happily ever after" at

"I was fired from my job as a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1992. 'I'm increasingly unhappy with what might be called your voice,' my editor told me in a letter.

He added that my columns had 'an annoyingly negative tone' and 'lacked warmth.' This was right around the time I was ending a relationship with a guy who couldn't be bothered to read my newspaper column. He claimed it appeared in a section of the paper he didn't read. This made me feel increasingly unhappy and, yes, annoyingly negative as well. I was 29 years old.

It wasn't a great time for me as a person or a writer. But instead of giving up, I did something that felt brave. I sent a copy of that discouraging letter from my editor to my sister Sarah in California with a two-word note: Now what? Sarah's response: 'This is great! Now you have time to do what you really want to do, which is write children books. I'll illustrate them.'

So I did. Or rather, we did. I wrote and Sarah illustrated several manuscripts, none of which anyone in New York wanted to publish. Yes, I wanted to be a writer, but I really needed a job. So I did something else that felt brave. Ignoring the criticism of my former editor, I made photocopies of what I considered my best newspaper columns and sent them to the chief of correspondents at People magazine in New York. She called me a few weeks later.

Eleven months after I was fired by the newspaper, I was reporting my first story for People. Okay, so it was in Branson, Missouri, and was a group interview with Bob Hope, Ross Perot, and Wayne Newton. (One was deaf, one was crazy, and one was trying to look down my shirt.) But it was a job, and it felt really good-all except the shirt part.

Over the next 15 years, I reported a lot of stories for People. I covered everything from celebrities to music to crime to sports. I interviewed Harper Lee, Brad Pitt, Johnny Cash, Faith Hill, Albert Pujols, Nelly, Peter Frampton, and many others. Best of all, I was lucky enough to work with a team of smart, funny, and kind editors and bureau chiefs who took a chance on me and helped me to become a better writer.

Between magazine assignments, I continued to work on children's books. Finally in 1998, my first book was published. Illustrated and designed by my sister, Regarding the Fountain received nice reviews. Kirkus called it 'an unequivocal delight.' That was the first of more than 25 children's books I've collaborated on with my sister Sarah, many of which feature-what else? -strong female characters who won't take no for an answer.

I'm 50 now. These days when I'm not writing books, I lead writing workshops around the country for aspiring authors of all ages. I love teaching people how narrative works. From fairy tales to Hollywood blockbusters, there's a classic storytelling model that appears time and time again. Early in the story, the hero must be confronted with a problem that sends him or her on a journey of self-discovery.

I still have that letter I received from my editor in 1992. I don't know why I've kept it so long other than it's a nice reminder of how storytelling works. Sometimes what feels like a bad ending is really just the beginning of a better happily ever after."









"Pop-up kosher in Berkeley" by Sue Fishkoff at

When you think 'hot new kosher cuisine,' the Bay Area isn't the first place that comes to mind. But something's in the air in Berkeley; you could feel the breeze two weeks ago inside the Westside Bakery Café on Ninth Street, where a group of friends from nearby Congregation Beth Israel were hosting a kosher pop-up dinner, the first in what they hope will be a regular series - maybe even once a month.

The prime instigators behind this madcap scheme are CBI's Rabbi Yonatan Cohen and his wife, Frayda, and Noah and Hope Alper, he of Noah's Bagels fame. Frustrated by the paucity of kosher eateries in the area, the two couples decided it was time to hire their own chef, invite their friends and do it themselves.

' Welcome to the first-ever Berkeley kosher pop-up,' Hope enthused, as she welcomed some 65 people, most of whom knew each other and greeted each other across the room with shouts and whoops. The evening had the air of an underground celebration, almost surreptitious, which is pretty much how the frum crowd often feels here in the Bay Area.

There were professors and writers, lawyers and rabbis, Israelis and South Africans practically giddy with joy at the gourmet offerings before them - all of which,

unbelievably, they could eat.
The three-course meal - $54 per person, or $45 for vegetarian-only dishes - was prepared by Isaac Bernstein of Epic Bites, a kosher catering business we've written about in J. And boy was it good. How about goose and mushroom blintz with a sour cherry sauce for the first course, followed by succulent fall-off-the-bone beef short ribs (pasture-raised, natch) with charred broccolini and smoked (not boiled) potatoes. And for dessert, homage to the great American Sunday brunch: peanut butter mousse with (wait for it) candied beef bacon, strawberries and a dark chocolate brownie.

Bacon! Kosher! It's been done before, lots of times, but for dessert? With peanut butter and chocolate? Pure genius."



















"Tokyo bitcoin exchange files for bankruptcy"

"The Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange in Tokyo filed for bankruptcy protection Friday. Its chief executive said 850,000 bitcoins, worth several hundred million dollars, are unaccounted for.

The Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange in Tokyo filed for bankruptcy protection Friday and its chief executive said 850,000 bitcoins, worth several hundred million dollars, are unaccounted for.
The exchange's CEO Mark Karpeles appeared before Japanese TV news cameras, bowing deeply. He said a weakness in the exchange's systems was behind a massive loss of the virtual currency involving 750,000 bitcoins from users and 100,000 of the company's own bitcoins. That would amount to about $425 million at recent prices.

The online exchange's unplugging earlier this week and accusations it had suffered a catastrophic theft have drawn renewed regulatory attention to a currency created in 2009 as a way to make transactions across borders without third parties such as banks.

It remains unclear if the missing bitcoins were stolen, voided by technological flaws or both.

'I am sorry for the troubles I have caused all the people,' Karpeles, a Frenchman, said in Japanese at a Tokyo court.

Karpeles had not made a public appearance since rumors of the exchange's insolvency surfaced last month. He said in a web post Wednesday that he was working to resolve Mt. Gox's problems.

The loss is a giant setback to the currency's image because its boosters have promoted bitcoin's cryptography as protecting it from counterfeiting and theft.
Bitcoin proponents have insisted that Mt. Gox is an isolated case, caused by the company's technological failures, and the potential of virtual currencies remains great.

Debts at Mt. Gox totaled more than 6.5 billion yen ($65 million), surpassing its assets, according to Teikoku Databank, which monitors bankruptcies.

Just hours before the bankruptcy filing, Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso had scoffed that a collapse was only inevitable."


On first hearing of bitcoins I wrote "If it sounds to good to be true, it is."






"Jerry Seinfeld on 'Comedians in Cars' Crossing 25 Million Streams: 'It's Completely Out of Hand' "









"'A Maze' an engrossing tale at Berkeley's Ashby Stage" Karen D'Souza,

"It's easy to lose yourself in 'A Maze.'

Rob Handel's enigmatic new play spins around sly tales that intersect in unexpected ways in a two-hour, 20-minute mystery. The addictive nature of fantasy, reality and the fusion of the two known as art are all probed in this smash hit staged by Just Theater. This startlingly inventive West Coast premiere is now being remounted by Berkeley's Shotgun Players through Sunday." 







"UC Berkeley Amateur Radio Club Celebrates its Centennial"

"The Amateur Radio club at the University of California, Berkeley (W6BB) is joining ARRL in celebrating its centennial this year. For those who are members of the club today, the magic of Amateur Radio has not worn off."








"Vienna-Philharmonic-Returns-to-Berkeley-for-Cal-Performances-Residency-Symposium" by Ken Bullock,

"The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra returns to Berkeley next weekend, March 7-9, for Cal Performances' annual orchestra residency, including three concerts and a symposium, with lectures, panel discussions and chamber concert, 'The Vienna Philharmonic, 100 Years After the Outbreak of World War One, featuring scholars and musicians from Vienna, Berkeley and elsewhere in North America. The symposium is open to the public as a free event.  

Lorin Maazel of the Munich Philharmonic (replacing Daniele Gatti, who is ill), will conduct the Vienna Philharmonic at 8 p. m. Friday, March 7, with guest soprano Juliane Banse, in Schubert's Symphony No. 8 in B minor ("The Unfinished") and Mahler's Symphony No. 4 in G major. Andris Nelsons of the Boston Symphony conducts Saturday at 8 with Haydn's Symphony No. 90 in C major and Brahms'Symphony No. 3 in F major, Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn. Franz Weisel-Most of the Cleveland Orchestra and the Vienna State Opera will conduct Sunday at 3 with Mozart's Symphony in F major, Staud's On Comparative Meteorology, and Bruckner's Symphony No. 6 in A major. All performances at Zellerbach Hall on the UC campus near Bancroft and Telegraph. "




















"Tilden Park carousel turned over to new operator" Carolyn Jones at

"In 103 years, not much has changed at Tilden Park's merry-go-round. Bejeweled horses still gallop under the lights, kids still race to grab the giant rooster, and you can still get a corn dog and soda for cheap.

But change is inevitable, even for an old merry-go-round. The family that has run the carousel for 23 years will soon pack up its popcorn machine and move on after the East Bay Regional Park District decided to hire another concessionaire to run the East Bay hills attraction."




" 'Hundred Days' - the anatomy of a rock opera" Leba Hertz,

"When a friend persuaded James Faerron to see the Bengsons perform in Berkeley three years ago, the producing manager of Z Space had low expectations.

But after he watched the modern-day troubadour indie pop singers work their magic, and met them backstage, his creative life took a wild and unexpected turn.
'Hey, you want to do a rock opera?' Faerron asked Lisa Steindler, Z Space artistic director.

She gave him a wary look and said, 'Uh, yeah,' in that what-are you-talking-about-and-tell-me-more - much more - kind of way.

A thousand days later, with the help of 70-plus people, 'Hundred Days' - starring the Bengsons - premiered Saturday at Z Space, and the backers of the hybrid rock concert-musical are hoping that the journey will continue all the way to Broadway.

'My thinking is we're going to go back into development with a plan to get it to New York,' Steindler said. 'We all have learned so much in the first run of the show.'

Though 'Hundred Days' is Z Space's most ambitious project, mounting it involved the usual steps of most theater works: the readings, the workshops, the auditions (although in this case the leads were already known), the logistics, the financing, the rehearsals and the previews.

But every show has its own story, its own characters, all of whom dedicate their lives to making the endeavor a success. In the case of 'Hundred Days,' it all started with love.

Love at first sight." 







"CS KickStart gives budding female computer scientists a window to the programming world" Mike Cassidy, Mercury News.

"When Amy Tsai headed to UC Berkeley in the fall of 2011, there was no way in the world that she was going to major in computer science.

Yes, her father was a software engineer, but as much as she loved the guy, what he did sounded boring. Her passion was civil engineering, until she heard about a program called CS KickStart, a student-initiative on campus aimed at showing women what computer science is, while building a community of women to support them should they pursue it.

"The program brings female students to campus for a week before classes start.





"Harnessing the Web, Berkeley school raises $40,000 in three days for new library" Doug Oakley, Oakland Tribune.

"In a lucrative new twist on school funding, middle school students at REALM Charter School have harnessed the riches of the Internet to design and build their own 3,000 book library -- and they have raised $40,000 in just three days.

The 108 students, who designed their own X-shaped interlocking shelving modules for the library, are hoping to raise $75,000 using the crowd funding site,"



















"Energy Carpet Captures Wave Power from the Ocean Floor"

"Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley drew their inspiration for the technology from the propensity for muddy seabeds to better absorb the impact of violent waves during heavy storms.

Fishermen plying their trade in the Gulf of Mexico have long adopted the precaution of making haste for those parts of the ocean with muddy bottoms during intense storm activity.

The reason for this is that the softer consistency of a muddy seabed is better capable of diminishing the intensity of strong waves by absorbing the force of their impact.

Taking their cue from this phenomenon, the technology developed by UC Berkeley scientists consists of a 'carpet' which is capable of using the heavy impact generated by ocean waves at the level of the sea floor to produce energy for human usage."











"Drones: Coming to a Sky Near You" Lou Cannon,

"The heavens will soon be thick with drones.

That, at least, is the confident expectation of the Federal Aviation Administration and a slew of states and companies competing for a coveted designation as one of six U.S. sites that will test the capability and safety of unmanned aircraft. The FAA anticipates there will be at least 10,000 of these aircraft in the domestic skies by 2020.

The promoters of drones avoid calling them by that name, preferring the duller technical description of 'unmanned aerial vehicles,' or UAVs. That's because "drone" to most people means the deadly remote-controlled missile launcher that is the Obama administration's weapon of choice in waging war on terrorists. Even before their current military use, drones were a staple of science fiction, often as spy vehicles and sometimes as something much more sinister.

Nick Palatiello, spokesman for the Reston, Va.-based Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS), decries what he calls this "movie image" and observes that unmanned aircraft are useful in mapmaking, mining, agriculture, forestry and scientific research.

A farmer, for instance, might be able to improve crop yields by monitoring his fields to see if they are being devoured by insects or sufficiently watered. In the view of Palatiello and Kyle Snyder of the NextGen Air Transportation Center at North Carolina State University, such beneficial uses of unmanned aircraft do not violate privacy. 'Corn doesn't care,'Snyder said.

Civil libertarians on both left and right do care, especially about using drones to track suspected criminal activity, including potential terrorism. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis expressed interest in using drones for surveillance purposes at next year's race."







"UC Berkeley professor co-authors report on climate change for general public" Chris Tril,

"A report jointly released Thursday by the National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society in the United Kingdom aims to make climate change an easily digestible subject for even the novice reader.

Authored in part by UC Berkeley professor of atmospheric science Inez Fung, the report takes information currently known about climate change - including the rising temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans, as well as its melting sea ice, rising sea level and other climate-related changes - and simplifies the issue to allow a wider array of people to fully comprehend the complicated subject.

The 36-page document contains 20 comprehensive questions regarding climate change, such as 'Why is climate change of concern now?,"'with short-paragraph answers explaining the problems and high-resolution graphics for other researchers to reuse in their own reports.

'We present the evidence for climate change, and we explain that the climate change we see now is because of human activities,' Fung said. 'It is designed to be a very succinct guide to climate science. You don't have to wade through 1,000 pages to get to what we're talking about.'









"9 things every student thinks about during lecture" Sujin Shin at

(Also applies to anything boring.)

"It's easy for your mind to run away with you when you're in lecture, diligently (or not so diligently) listening to your professor. It's easy to get distracted in class, and we at the Clog like to highlight these little moments of your UC Berkeley experience. So here's a list of things you might have thought about (besides the material) at one point during your lecture . . . "




















Our site received over 18,000 visits yesterday.


"Mt. Gox files for bankruptcy: what to keep in mind when using Bitcoin" Angela Colley,

"On Friday, Mt.Gox announced it would be filing for bankruptcy after losing track of nearly 750,000 customer bitcoins as well as 100,000 of its own bitcoins, totaling a nearly $500 million loss. This is a tough blow. What does this mean for you and Bitcoin as a currency?"

The largest Bitcoin exchange in the world appears to have gone belly-up after apparently losing hundreds of millions of dollars in Bitcoins after a long-term hacker attack. The fallout has resulted in an increased scrutiny of Bitcoin safety - leading more people to consider pulling their Bitcoins offline - and raises questions about how far this nascent unregulated financial market will go.

Ready to invest in Bitcoin? Test your knowledge with our quiz.

According to Wired, an exploit in Mt. Gox's website allowed hackers to siphon off millions of Bitcoins over a two year period. The crumbling of Mt. Gox, which lost around $350 million in Bitcoins, has prompted some Bitcoin investors to start storing their digital currency offline, according to MarketWatch.

Going Back to Paper for Digital Currency
And yes, you can store Bitcoins offline: each Bitcoin has a key, like a serial number, which allows the Bitcoin to be spent. Without the key, there's no Bitcoin. So some users have taken to printing out the key on paper, or storing the data on a device not connected to the Internet, or a 'cold' device. While some customers want security in lieu of this disaster, they are still operating within a completely unregulated market.

No Real Banks Means Little Safety
Printing out Bitcoins or keeping them offline isn't like pulling money out of a bank and storing it under a mattress because Bitcoin 'banks' aren't recognized as banks. A recent article by MarketWatch mentions one company that stores Bitcoins offline in a bank vault for a 2% annual fee. And while it's insured against theft, it's not a real bank. Another company, FlexCoin, claims it is the "world's first Bitcoin bank" but also states "technically we're not a licensed bank. We're a Bitcoin bank." A thumb drive can be lost, a hard drive fried, or a Bitcoin key trashed. Once a Bitcoin is gone, it's gone; there's no Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. covering your loss.

Cashing Out Isn't Easy
Mt. Gox customers got a harsh reality check when they tried to cash out earlier this month. Customers received only a paltry statement that the company would sort everything out, but were faced with no way to get their everything out, but were faced with no way to get their Bitcoins, which are either in limbo within the company's servers or stolen. Some Mt. Gox customers sold the rights to their Bitcoins to speculators hoping that Mt. Gox would make good on their promise. These Bitcoins went far below market rate at $118 per Bitcoin, compared to the regular exchange rate for Bitcoins at around $570 per Bitcoin at the time, according to CNNMoney.

What This All Means
Mt. Gox serves as a reminder that you're not just buying Bitcoins; you're also involved in the company performing the exchange. There are no watchmen to answer to, and things can go downhill quickly if a breach happens. It's not an isolated incident, either: In 2012, the exchange site Bitcoinica was hacked for over $460,000 worth ofBitcoins, according to The Verge.

Get your 2014 Emerging & Frontier Markets Forecast FREE.
Additionally, feds seized over $5 million from Mt. Gox's bank accounts for allegedly not properly registering a money transaction business last year, according to Wired, another indication that an unregulated financial market has little or nothing in the way of consumer protection."








"Are In-N-Out and Krispy Kreme really coming to Lower Sproul?" Raymond Yang,

"While campus group Students For Change is fronting a large-scale petition to bring President Barack Obama to speak at next year's spring commencement, Matthew Brueckmann, a junior at UC Berkeley studying mechanical engineering, is rallying the support of students to sign a petition to bring In-N-Out and Krispy Kreme to Lower Sproul Plaza.

Huh. Why In-N-Out and Krispy Kreme?

Because Brueckmann loves them. "I made (the petition) over Christmas break after realizing I needed to get my last fix of In-N-Out before going back to school, he says. In-N-Out and Krispy Kreme are easily accessible in his hometown, and he frequents them at least once a week. Plus, he's got fundraising in mind. 'I know a lot of clubs use Krispy Kreme and In-N-Out - those are really popular and sell out really quickly,' Brueckmann observes."

We regularly drive to Pinole for In-N-Out burgers.

1417 Fitzgerald Drive
Pinole, Ca 94564I
8.25 miles


At the moment the closest Krispy Kreme is in Concord.

1991 Diamond Blvd
Concord, CA 94520
Phone: 925-363-4570

Though one is said to be opening soon in Pinole.








"Legalizing marijuana in California? Gov. Jerry Brown says law would hurt state" Associated Press.

"California Governor Jerry Brown said he is not sure legalizing pot is a good idea in his state because the country could lose its competitive edge if too many people are getting stoned."

Hmmm . . .

















a reader from Germany emails

8.25 miles for an In-and-Out burger?  . . . they're not even on the map for us here in Germany.  Krispy Kreme is another matter, however.  The closest one to Hoppstaedten-Weiersbach is 421 miles away (6 hours 55 minutes by car) in London. 

But I remember the days when we used to get up a convoy to drive from Stuttgart to Munich (130 miles, 2 hours 9 minutes) to get a Big Mac from the nearest McDonalds, wolf it down, get back in the car  and drive straight back to Stuttgart.  It took several years for them to introduce In-car service, but now most of them offer "McDrive"

Now there are at least 1,440 of them scattered around Germany, the closest one to us being about a 15 minute drive.

Biggest difference between the German and U.S. versions?  You can get beer on tap with your Big Mac here. 

Now that's what I call a real happy meal.










"CEO of bitcoin exchange found dead in Singapore" Satish Cheney, Associated Press

"The CEO of a virtual currency exchange was found dead near her home in Singapore.

A police spokesman said Thursday that initial investigations indicated there was no suspicion of 'foul play' in the Feb. 26 death, meaning officers do not suspect murder.

The spokesman said police found 28-year-old Autumn Radtke, an American, lying motionless near the apartment tower where she lived.
Police have so far classified the death as 'unnatural,' which can mean an accident, misadventure, or suicide.

Radtke's company, First Meta, said it was 'shocked and saddened by the tragic loss.'

First Meta allows users of virtual currencies such as bitcoin to trade and cash out the currencies. It is one of several such exchanges.

The future of bitcoin has been under scrutiny since the collapse of the Mt. Gox exchange in Tokyo last month."







" The Death of the PC" The Motley Fool.

"The days of paying for costly software upgrades are numbered. The PC will soon be obsolete. And BusinessWeek reports 70% of Americans are already using the technology that will replace it. Merrill Lynch calls it 'a $160 billion tsunami.' Computing giants including IBM, Yahoo!, and Amazon are racing to be the first to cash in on this PC-killing revolution. Yet, a small group of little-known companies have a huge head start. Get the full details on these companies, and the technology that is destroying the PC, in a free video from The Motley Fool."




"IDC Is Wrong: The Death of the PC Has Only Begun" Sam Mattera,

Research firm IDC believes that the market for traditional PCs has nearly bottomed, a good sign for PC-dependent tech giants like Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) and Intel. Although the firm expects 2014 to be another year of contraction, it is looking for a return to growth in the years ahead, with a floor of about 300 million annual PC shipments for the foreseeable future.

IDC has overestimated the PC in the past, and is likely doing so again. So far, 2013 has been the worst year on record for the traditional PC, but its death is only beginning. In the years ahead, competition from devices running Google's mobile operating system will prove overwhelming.

Underestimating the rise of mobile
In 2010, IDC was projecting PC shipments to slow in 2011, but then rebound to double-digit growth in 2012 and beyond. By 2015, IDC was expecting PC shipments to exceed 500 million, and grow by an annual rate of 10-15% -- projections that seem absolutely absurd today. IDC had thought that tablets like the (then recently unveiled) iPad would take a slight toll on PCs in 2011, but the firm seems to have underestimated their long-term effects, most notably, the rise of cheaper alternatives running Google's mobile operating system.

While the demand for traditional PCs running Microsoft's Windows has dried up, the tablet market continues to grow. Gartner expects tablet shipments to total 184 million this year, up 53.4%, and even IDC admits that tablet sales should surpass PCs by the end of 2015. Most of these tablets will run Google's mobile operating system. Although Apple continues to be the single-largest tablet maker, Android-powered tablets have overtaken the iPad. Apple's tablet operation may remain immensely profitable, but the far cheaper price points, and widely divergent form factors, should give Google the market-share edge."












more insights from old friend in Germany, Ron Argentati

Not all US retailers have been as successful in Germany as McDonalds.  Ten years ago, we had not one but TWO Walmart stores within a 20 minute drive.  Walmart went tits up in Germany in 2006.  This article is a good short explanation as to why the big kahuna couldn't cut it here:

The reasons for the failure the author cites are all valid and applicable to a greater or lesser degree, but the opinion that the Germans had some sort of anti-US bias doesn't hold water.  We not only have Mickey D, Burger King and KFC nearby but the Germans are, if anything, still besotted by American popular culture.  There's a rock group in this area named "Big Bang and the Assholes."  They don't even wear lederhosen.

Some of the funnier incidents I read about included Germans complaining to Walmart's management about the ubiquitous Walmart Greeters that some Germans thought were strangers not a part of the corporate culture but just random nut cases that had wandered in off the streets.

And I guess crowds chanting "Wal-Mart Wal-Mart" in unison on a gray, misty German morning might have evoked memories of torchlight parades and chants of "Sieg Heil."

To my knowledge, The U.K. is the only venue in Europe where Walmart still does business.


















"Memorial service set for Berkeley firefighter killed in tractor accident", Natalie Neysa Alund at



"A memorial service is set Sunday for a Berkeley firefighter killed in a tractor accident last week, a fire official said.

The service for 54-year-old Tony Nunes is open to the public and will be held at noon at the Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, said Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong.
Nunes, who served nearly 28 years with the department, was riding a tractor around 6:40 p.m. Feb. 24 at his Martinez home at Via Domingos and Bear Creek Road near Briones Regional Park when the vehicle overturned and slid down about 200 feet into a canyon, according to the California Highway Patrol. Nunes, who was pinned under the tractor, died at the scene.

Dong said he believes Nunes, who was off-duty, was preparing the property for either the upcoming fire season or a heavy storm.
Nunes, who used to work as a Piedmont firefighter, also worked as a reserve firefighter with the Contra Costa Fire Protection District.

On Thursday in Sacramento, assembly members Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, adjourned floor session in memory of Nunes.
'The entire community of Berkeley and all of Berkeley Fire is suffering a great loss,' Skinner said. 'Fellow firefighters will always remember how Tony epitomized nerves of steel. They often joked that he must have lacked adrenal glands, because of how he kept calm under pressure. That, of course, is very important as a firefighter.'

Members of the Nunes family and fellow firefighters attended the Capitol to observe the adjournment in his memory. He is survived by his children Antonia Polan and Thomas Nunes.

'My friends at Berkeley Fire asked me to share a few things,' Skinner added. 'One was that Tony was someone who loved his profession. One day, he saw a young girl across the fire station selling lemonade, so he decided to put on his full uniform and joined her for a few hours and quadrupled her lemonade sales.' "





"Berkeley Police offer $15,000 reward in Berkeley homicide" Karina Ioffee,

Berkeley police announced a $15,000 reward Thursday for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect in last week's death of a man inside his apartment.

The victim has been identified as 54-year-old Berkeley resident Sylvan Fuselier, who was found inside his residence Friday in the 1100 block of Addison Street during a welfare check by police.

Fuselier's death is Berkeley's first homicide of 2014, according to Officer Jennifer Coats, a Berkeley police spokeswoman."







"Nation's Largest Student Co-Op At UC Berkeley May Completely Change After Drug Overdose Lawsuit" Sarah Barness, The Huffington Post.

"The University of California-Berkeley's Cloyne Court, the largest cooperative house in America, is under threat of being completely revamped, and Cal students are fighting to save it.

The Berkeley Student Cooperative, a larger umbrella organization overseeing Cloyne and the 19 other properties at Cal, wants to make changes to the house in response to a lawsuit recently settled out of court.

The suit was filed by the family of former resident John Gibson, who sustained brain injuries from a drug overdose on the premises in 2010. The BSC fears that Cloyne has a perceived drug culture, and is a liability to the public".







"Among highest paid in the state, Berkeley elected officials ponder asking for a raise", Doug Oakley, Oakland Tribune.

"The City Council and mayor here are among the highest paid elected officials in the state for similar sized cities, according to a recent salary survey conducted by the city manager.

But that's not saying much when you consider the yearly take for a City Council member is $31,464 for what amounts to a full-time job, according to two elected officials who think voters should give them a pay hike in November.

'I think we deserve a raise and I think other City Council members think we do as well,' said 29-year-old City Councilman Jesse Arreguin, who was first elected in 2008. Arreguin said he was earning more than $50,000 a year as a councilman's aide before he was elected to his lower paying council job. 'Unless you are independently wealthy or retired, it's very difficult to work full-time as a City Council member.'

Arreguin and Councilman Gordon Wozniak, who is retired and is giving up his seat at the end of the year, are considering introducing an item to the City Council that would put a raise to a vote of the people. . . .

Wozniak agreed that Berkeley's council salaries are among the highest, 'so you could argue that maybe other cities aren't paying enough.' "





"Berkeley City Council delays decision on student district" Melissa Wen,

"Berkeley City Council decided at its meeting Tuesday to postpone further discussion on redistricting to March 11, declining to make a verdict yet on the fate of the city's long-sought-after student district.

Although the council passed a redistricting map in December that created a district with an 86 percent student-aged population, a successful referendum overturned that map and made uncertain which lines to use for this November's election. Referendum proponents opposed the passed map for its exclusion of Northside dorms and student cooperatives.

The council now has two options: rescind its decision and choose a new map or put the map it passed on the ballot. Many referendum proponents, including Councilmembers Jesse Arreguin, Kriss Worthington and Max Anderson, want the council to pass a map that includes the contested Northside residences.
'All of us need a new beginning on this,"'Anderson said at the meeting.

Arreguin, Anderson and Worthington wanted to rescind the overturned map at Tuesday's meeting but were in the minority. Instead, the council voted for Bates' proposal that they revisit the issue March 11. Bates said he wanted to look further at the legal ramifications of the council's options.

The council has until April 1 to turn in a map that will go into effect by November. Otherwise, whichever district lines they choose will not go into effect in time for the next election."









our Janine Johnson emails

I want to give you all a heads up about several upcoming concerts!  The first will be a pair of house concerts March 22nd and 23rd at my house (full information for everything below), the second will be a performance for MusicSources March 30th, the next in Delaware, both April 26th and and 27th, then a "fringe" concert during the Berkeley Early Music festival, June 6th. Mark your calendars for any or all! The only ones needing RSVPS are the house concerts. 

House concerts: Saturday March 22nd 10:30 AM and Sunday, March 23rd 3:00 PM Both are at my house, 1643 Derby St. in Berkeley.  Parking is easy.  The program is all music from England: Richard Jones Prelude to Suite III - a boisterous and really fun Italian Concerto, Henry Purcell Suite in g minor,  Thomas Arne Sonata III in G major, Maurice Greene Voluntaries IV and VII (these are basically Preludes and Fugues), G. F. Handel Suite in c minor HWV 445 (fabulous!), another Thomas Arne Sonata II in e minor (both sonatas are wonderful), J. C. Bach Sonata Op V #5 in E major (a fantastic piece with a wonderful Turkish Rondo at the end - no wonder Mozart "borrowed" Bach's music for his early piano concerti!), and last but not least Joseph Haydn Sonata in A major H XVI:26. This is a full length program with intermission, including coffee and cookies Saturday, and wine and cheese Sunday. Donation of $15 is requested. Please RSVP by email as there are a limited number of seats. 

March 30th at 5:00 PM I am playing my Rameau/d'Anglebert program again for MusicSources. For any of you who want to hear this again, or tell your friends about it, please do!  I am playing Rameau's masterpiece a minor suite, d'Anglebert's Suite in G major and a Sarabande Grave by Nicolas Siret. The music is all incredible and way up there for me as favorites. The Rameau is also a virtuoso piece, so those of you who enjoy a show, this is a good one one for you!  The concert is at Saint Albans Episcopal Church 1501 Washington Ave, Albany CA Tickets: $30 - $10.  Here is their events schedule

April 26th and 27th I will be playing at a very special event in Delaware. John Phillips and I have restored several antiques for harpsichordist Karen Flint, and the weekend of the 25th - 27th she is opening her collection to the public with a series of lectures and performances called "Harpsichord Heaven".  If you can, this is a fantastic experience and a chance to hear some unique and exceptional antiques in concert. I will be playing an abbreviated version of my English program (Handel, Arne,  J.C. Bach and Haydn) on an original Kirckman harpsichord. On the 27th I will be participating in the Grand Finale where all the performers play pieces for multiple harpsichords. It is a riot, and where, for instance, anywhere on the earth can you hear two Ruckers harpsichords played at the same time? The event is at the "Barn at Flintwoods" 205 Center Meeting Road, Wilmington DE    Home page:

June 6th I will be playing all of  Bach's Well Tempered Clavier book I as a "fringe" concert during the Berkeley Early Music festival at 2:30 PM, Trinity Chapel in Berkeley. Their address is 2320 Dana Street (at the corner of Bancroft) Tickets $15 and $10 This is a rare opportunity to hear this work of genius all at once, and I hope you can come!

So please mark your calendars, and if you want to come to one of the house concerts, do let me know! I also hope you all are enjoying the rain, as I sure am! Best wishes, Janine






















" Berkeley slaying victim was once 'Noteman' suspect" Henry K. Lee at

"The victim of a Berkeley killing was identified Thursday as 54-year-old Sylvan Fuselier, a man once suspected of being the notorious "Noteman bandit" because he used polite demand notes to rob East Bay businesses.

Fuselier was found dead in his apartment on the 1100 block of Addison Street, east of San Pablo Avenue, about 11 a.m. Feb. 28, police said.

Officers were called to the home by a friend of Fuselier's who became worried after not seeing him for several days, said Officer Jennifer Coats, a Berkeley police spokeswoman.

An investigation determined Fuselier had been the victim of a homicide, the city's first of the year, Coats said. Police have not released a cause of death.

In 1996, Fuselier was arrested in connection with at least 14 robberies in Berkeley and five in Oakland beginning in September 1994. The robber typically struck in the afternoon or early evening, when few customers were around.

The robber never brandished a gun. He handed clerks concise demand notes after chatting with them. 'Be calm - don't get stressed. Give me what bills you have in the register,' his first note read.

The Noteman's targets had included a health store, a copy shop, a coffee store and a dry-cleaner. Most of the businesses were in Berkeley shopping districts.

Details of Fuselier's involvement in the case were not immediately available.

Police are offering a reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Anyone with information is asked to call Berkeley homicide investigators at (510) 981-5741. Tips can be made anonymously by calling Bay Area Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477."




"University of California changes sexual violence policies" Jason Song,

"The University of California system on Friday issued new sexual assault guidelines that require campus and system administrators to report more types of violence and harassment, provide more support to victims and expand sanctions against perpetrators.

The changes meet a federal deadline to comply with an amendment to the Clery Act, which requires administrators to accurately report statistics for serious crimes in and around campuses, including sexual assaults."







our Kava emails

Family-Friendly Ambassador Housing

What was once a neglected site adjacent to a raised freeway is now 69 units of family-friendly affordable housing that complements and transforms the surrounding area. Working with the non-profit developer, Resources for Community Development, this project provides homes for families at 30% to 50% of the area median in an upcoming neighborhood on the Oakland/Emeryville border.

Since the project is very close to the freeway, the building was designed and built with acoustically appropriate materials, providing maximum insulation from noise.

Designed to be a GreenPoint Rated community, multiple green building methods were utilized to improve the financial operation of the property, reduce utility bills for residents and create a healthy living environment for tenants.















our BPD Ofc Rashawn D Cummings emails

Lieutenant Dave Frankel Area 4 Commander of the Berkeley Police Department invites anyone who wishes to have coffee with him to join him at Berkeley Bowl West Cafe, 920 Heinz Ave on Thursday, March 13, 2014, from 2 to 3pm.
I have resumed my duties as the Area 4 coordinator and will be in attendance as well.




"A Case for a Living Wage" Rudy Willis, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinal.

(Rudy Willis is a graduate of the University of Maryland, with degrees in political science and business. He was a career US Army officer and is a Vietnam veteran. Included among his decorations are the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal. In 1978, upon leaving military service, Rudy and his family moved to Waukesha. In addition to managing successful small businesses, he worked at Wisconsin Electric, Harley-Davidson and Rockwell Automation before retiring in 2012.)


"One argument against a living wage is that most minimum wage workers are teens just entering the workforce who have undeveloped work skills.  This is not accurate. A,10/15/13, UC Berkeley Labor Center, study revealed that 'the share of these workers who are under the age of 19 and living with a parent (18 percent) is smaller than the share with children of their own (26 percent). Overall, 68 percent of the core front-line workers in the fast-food industry are not in high school and are single or married adults with or without children. For more than two-thirds of these workers, fast-food wages are the foundation of their family income'.
Also from the UC Berkeley Labor Center study: 'Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of enrollments in America's major public benefits programs are from working families. Many of them work in jobs that pay wages so low that their paychecks do not generate enough income to provide for life's basic necessities. Low wages paid by employers in the fast-food industry create especially acute problems for the families of workers in this industry. Median pay for core front-line fast-food jobs is $8.69 an hour, with many jobs paying at or near the minimum wage. Benefits are also scarce for front-line fast-food workers; an estimated 87 percent do not receive health benefits through their employer. The combination of low wages and poor benefits, often coupled with part-time employment, means that many of the families of fast-food workers must rely on taxpayer-funded safety net programs to make ends meet'.  The cost to taxpayers - an "average of $385.72 Billion annually".
'The Effects of Minimum Wages on SNAP Enrollments and Expenditures', a 3/5/2013 study by the Center for American Progress found:  'A 10 percent increase in the minimum wage reduces SNAP enrollment by between 2.4 percent and 3.2 percent and reduces program expenditures by an estimated 1.9 percent. Taking into account each state's 2014 minimum wage level, we apply these results to the legislative proposal put forward by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Our results imply that the effects of the Harkin-Miller proposal on wage increases would reduce SNAP enrollments by between 6.5 percent and 9.2 percent (3.3 million to 3.8 million persons). The total anticipated annual decrease in program expenditures is nearly $4.6 billion, or about 6 percent of current SNAP program expenditures'.
Low wages further lessen workers' purchasing power, thus further stagnating the economy.





















Creature from the Black Lagoon unveiled ? Hardly!

one of Potter Creek's leading businessmen engaging in his favorite hobby





"Friends remember Tony Nunes, Berkeley firefighter, who died at age 54"

"Those who knew Anthony "Tony" Nunes remember him as the personification of fortitude - someone who could navigate a spinning airplane and turn the situation into a teaching moment.

Such pluckiness was characteristic of Nunes - firefighter, brother, adventurer, pilot - whose spirit was celebrated during a memorial service by more than 100 people at UC Berkeley's Haas Pavilion on Sunday.

After working for almost three decades with the Berkeley Fire Department, Nunes died in an off-duty accident Feb. 23 when the tractor he was operating on his family's property overturned and rolled down a precipitous hill. He was 54.

Nunes had previously worked as a reserve firefighter with the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District and then for seven years at the Piedmont Fire Department. Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb said he was also one of the first firefighter paramedics in Berkeley.

Webb said one could always count on Nunes to be calm in times of distress - he worked hard but never appeared to be stressed out. Friends joked he was born without an adrenal gland.
'Hey,' Nunes would say, 'It's just a fire.'

At the service, Nunes' spirit was ubiquitous in each person's recollections. Those who spoke relaxed into punchy, familiar slang when describing Nunes - as though the memory of his own easygoing nature drew out everyone's innate vivacity.

Tom Oakley, battalion chief for the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, wrote in an email that Nunes was 'possibly the coolest cowboy that I ever knew.'
'He was someone that never had enough time to finish his projects but always had time to help someone else,' Oakley said.

At Sunday's memorial service, Colin Arnold, an apparatus operator at Berkeley Fire Department, recounted the many hours that he and Nunes spent cramped side by side in a tiny plane when Nunes taught him how to pilot.

One time, Arnold recalled, Nunes purposely stalled the plane - it went into spin, and the engine revved up.

'I was sitting there realizing that I hadn't spent nearly enough time in my life praying,' Arnold said. 'I looked over, and Tony was sitting there with a grin on his face, arms folded, unbelievably calm. In a moment of extreme panic, Tony found a teaching opportunity.'

Arnold recalled that, after the men regained control of the plane and landed, Nunes turned to him and smiled.
'Okay,' Nunes had said. 'Let's try it again.'

Nunes is survived by his two adult children, Antonia Polan and Thomas Nunes.
In lieu of flowers, Nunes' family asks that friends make a donation to the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation to celebrate his enjoyment of working with children.

Donations can also be made to B Walker Ranch, which serves adult individuals who have disabilities.
Contact Zoe Kleinfeld at and follow her on Twitter @zoekleinfeld."


















Berkeley Police Department Seeks Community Assistance with Identifying Suspect in Apparent Attempted Kidnapping 

On Friday, March 7, 2014 at about 10:20 PM, a twenty-three year old Berkeley woman was walking home along San Pablo Avenue from Solano Avenue in Albany. The woman became aware of a man who appeared to be following her. She changed her route a number of times, and the man changed his route each time along with her, continuing to walk behind her. The woman pulled out her cell phone to call for help, and the suspect suddenly grabbed her and forced her off the sidewalk, down a driveway on the 1200 block of San Pablo Avenue. The woman clutched her purse and screamed for help. The man grabbed her around her waist and spoke to her in Spanish. A passing motorist saw the woman in distress, stopped, and honked their car horn. The suspect released the woman and fled north on San Pablo Avenue. 
The suspect in this case is described as a Hispanic male, 23-25 years old, 5'05" to 5'07", thin build, thin facial hair, wearing a white and red San Francisco 49ers baseball-style cap, black hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and black and red tennis shoes. 
BPD is urging anyone who believes they may have had an encounter with this suspect-or who knows anyone who may have had an encounter with this suspect-to contact BPD Sex Crimes Detective Melissa Kelly, at (510) 981-5735. If a caller wishes to remain anonymous he/she can call the Bay Area Crime Stoppers Tip Line, at (800) 222-TIPS (8477).








Potter Creek's "LightSail Energy Names Volker Schulte as COO and Neel Sirosh as VP and General Manager"

"New Senior Executives from GE and Quantum Will Commercialize LightSail's Breakthrough Energy Storage Technology to Meet Growing Global Demand

LightSail Energy, a developer of state-of-the-art energy storage technology, announced today that former senior GE executive Volker Schulte has joined the company as chief operating officer. In addition, Neel Sirosh, former CTO at Quantum Technologies, joined LightSail as vice president and general manager of its energy storage group.
"We are extraordinarily fortunate to have two such distinguished executives join LightSail and help bring our transformative compressed air energy storage to the world," said Stephen Crane, co-founder and CEO of LightSail Energy. "Both Volker and Neel bring highly relevant experience, perspective, insight and zeal for innovation, which will undoubtedly help us to capitalize on the company's momentum, and position our new technology to succeed in the marketplace.". . . 

    LightSail Energy is developing breakthrough grid-scale energy storage technology that uses compressed air as the storage medium. Based in Berkeley, California, with funding from Khosla Ventures, Peter Thiel, Bill Gates, and Total Energy Ventures, LightSail's technology is able to convert electrical energy to compressed air, and then reverse the process to deliver electrical energy again when it's needed, all the while keeping losses to a minimum.

LightSail's co-founder and chief scientist, Danielle Fong, has been one of Forbes Magazine's 30 Under 30 energy innovators for three years running and was the youngest of last year's MIT Technology Review 35. As a graduate student at Princeton University, she discovered that it is possible to solve the cost and efficiency problems that have prevented widespread adoption of energy storage with the most readily available and lowest-cost of materials ­ air. To learn more about LightSail Energy, visit."  



on 7/21/11 I posted

Startups, LightSail Energy and JCAP have moved to Potter Creek. LightSail Energy at 2865 7th St Berkeley, are taking "all the space" occupied by the old chocolate factory--a space I had previously reported would be shared with other startups. They have financial backing researching "energizing compressed gas" among other projects.

"LightSail Energy, Inc "is a venture capital-funded start-up in the $100 billion field of energy storage. We are gathering a small, elite technical team to help bring our system from experiment to market".


JCAP at 2929 7th are partnered with LBNL. JCAP is an acronym for Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis.

"The Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis is a DOE Energy Innovation Hub-a research effort built on the premises that a critcal mass of creative scientists and engineers working side by side can accomplish more, faster, than researchers working separately, and that a proactive approach to managing and conducting research is essential.Led by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), in partner- ship with the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL), SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and a select group of universities, JCAP will involve scientists and engineers nationwide. JCAP will keep the United States at the forefront of solar-fuel research " reports More information on this webpage.on 7/21/11 I posted     








"Santa Cruz-based Pacific Cookie Co. now open in Berkeley" Heather Somerville,

"A Santa Cruz family-run cookie company has brought its handmade treats to Berkeley.

Pacific Cookie Company recently opened a store near the UC Berkeley campus, the company's first East Bay retail location. Pacific Cookie Company was founded in 1980 in Santa Cruz by Larry and Shelly Pearson. Their daughter, Cara Pearson, now runs the company.

The store sells 13 kinds of cookies, including mint-chocolate, ginger-spice and the familiar chocolate chip. In 2005 the company modified its recipes to include only all-natural ingredients and eliminate trans fats.

The Berkeley store, located at 2309 Telegraph Ave., also sells ice cream cones and ice cream sandwiches using fresh-baked cookies."





"Oakland chef Tanya Holland ready for the big stage" Meredith May at

"There she is making a savory bread pudding with Al Roker on the 'Today' show. Whipping up Creole shrimp with cheddar grits in an eight-page spread in O magazine.

Glazing a Thanksgiving turkey with bourbon for Food & Wine. Sharing a joke with Mario Batali on 'The Chew.'

Within the space of 18 months, it seems like Tanya Holland, the first chef to create a destination restaurant in oft-forgotten West Oakland, is everywhere, reinventing soul food."








"Fighting for space on a new front:Student veterans seek more resources on campus to ease college experience"

"The Marine recruiter couldn't have timed his call to Tom Wiltshire any better if he tried. In 2005, amid a stubborn insurgency in Iraq, then-19-year-old Wiltshire was fresh out of high school - and a job. The military was short on new recruits, and Wiltshire's 1.8 high-school GPA wasn't getting him anywhere fast.

'I had no political motivations for wanting to join the Marines,' said Wiltshire, now a UC Berkeley junior. 'I didn't join out of any sense of patriotism or family history in the military. It's just kind of how it worked out, I guess. The Marine recruiter snagged me first.'

The next five years saw a previously underachieving high school graduate transform into a globe-trotting combat photographer who shot images of humanitarian efforts in Bangladesh, interviewed prominent Iraqi officials and witnessed the violence of the Iraq War through the lens of his camera. Even though Wiltshire wasn't an infantryman, he said he regularly joined Marine convoys on roads riddled with improvised explosive devices and other dangers. Like many veterans, he considers himself lucky to be alive.

From the beginning, however, Wiltshire knew the military wouldn't be a career for him. Motivated by a romantic interest to remain in the United States after returning from Iraq, Wiltshire turned down a lucrative government contracting job in Afghanistan and moved to San Diego - where the recession had cut huge swaths out of the civilian job market.

With few employment prospects, Wiltshire turned to the GI Bill to keep himself afloat financially - the legislation covers educational costs and a living stipend. His initial motivation was primarily economic, and his attitude was decidedly ho-hum."


















Jean-Pierre Saulnier by Guy Kovner

A pioneer in Sonoma County's emergence as a mecca for fine dining, former restaurateur Jean-Pierre Saulnier brought Mediterranean-style French cuisine to Sebastopol in the early 1970s.

Saulnier, who died of cancer Wednesday, March 5 at his home in Eureka at age 72, ran Le Pommier on Highway 116 for about 10 years in an era before wine country cuisine helped define the county and draw discriminating diners here to eat.

"I remember we had a hard time finding a baguette," said his sister, Anne Saulnier of San Francisco, referring to the narrow loaf of French bread that is now omnipresent in Sonoma County stores and bakeries.

Saulnier, who ran Le Pommier until the early 1980s, was a professional contemporary of Alice Waters, who started her legendary restaurant, Chez Panisse, in Berkeley in 1971.

It wasn't until chef John Ash opened his namesake Santa Rosa restaurant in 1980 that Sonoma County food and wine began to gain national prominence.
At its prime in the 1970s, Le Pommier was widely regarded as one of the county's better restaurants, when the population was about half what it is today and, as Anne Saulnier recalled, most West County vineyards were still apple orchards.

Jean-Pierre Saulnier grew herbs and greens in his own garden and made his own sausage, practices that are "now like the norm" for local chefs, his sister said.
Saulnier's culinary style came from his homeland of Algeria, then a French colony on the Mediterranean coast of northern Africa, where he was born in 1941.

As a French citizen, he served in the French military and was, following Algeria's independence in 1962, part of a mass exodus of European Algerians to France.
Saulnier settled near Paris, but was never comfortable in France and migrated to America, settling in Sebastopol in about 1970. "He loved it up here," his sister said.

Divorced, Saulnier relished his "quiet time," she said, working in his garden and preparing and eating his favorite foods, such as head cheese and boudin noir, a dark-hued sausage containing pork and pig blood. He also rode his bike to Bodega Bay to go fishing.







"Bayer to invest $700 mln to produce haemophilia drugs in Germany"

"Bayer said it plans to spend more than 500 million euros ($694 million) to set up haemophilia drug production sites in Germany, one of the largest investments to date by the German company's healthcare unit.

Bayer's established haemophilia A therapy product Kogenate, with 1.2 billion euros in sales last year, has been exclusively produced by a Bayer facility in Berkeley, California.

It has two more drug candidates against the type A of the hereditary bleeding disorder in the third and last phase of testing on humans that is required for regulatory approval.

'Establishing an additional supply source in Germany will help the company to prepare for production of the anticipated new therapy options and address the growing demand in this therapeutic area,' the company said on Tuesday.

One of the two experimental treatments, called BAY 94-9027, was shown in a drug trial in February to help protect against bleeds with fewer infusions than the standard therapy.

As part of the production expansion, Bayer will create about 500 new jobs at its sites in Leverkusen and Wuppertal by 2020.
People with haemophilia have a fault in a gene that regulates the body's production of proteins called clotting factors. This can cause spontaneous bleeding as well as severe bleeding following injuries or surgery.

The field could see a range of other new treatments soon.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is due to decide by mid-year whether to approve a new long-lasting haemophilia B clotting factor from Biogen Idec and partner Swedish Orphan Biovitrum.

Novo Nordisk expects to file next year for regulatory approval of its long-acting haemophilia B drug, N9-GP."








"22-pound pet cat holds family hostage until police arrive" Rene Lynch,

"A 22-pound house cat 'with a history of violence' trapped an Oregon family -- and their dog -- in a bedroom until police arrived to save them.

The incident unfolded Sunday night in northwest Portland after a ferocious feline named Lux turned on its owners. It all started when the family's 7-month-old boy pulled the cat's tail. In response, the cat scratched the baby on the forehead. The boy's dad, Lee Palmer, told police that he 'kicked the cat in the rear' as punishment.'

And that's when the fur began to fly:  'We're trapped, he won't let us out of our door,' Lee Palmer told dispatchers after he and his family members and pet dog fled to the safety of a bedroom and called 911. 'The cat 'has gone over the edge. He's trying to attack us -- he's very hostile. He's at our door. He's charging us.' Palmer also told the dispatcher that the cat has a 'history of violence.'

The Oregonian has audio of the 911 call. Lux can be heard screeching in the background during the call, according to the Portland Police Department's website.
At one point Palmer tells the dispatcher that he is concerned about the officers' safely when confronting the cat: 'Tell them to be careful,' he warns."




















Held Thursday afternoon at the Berkeley Bowl West restaurant, seven people were present at BPD Lt Dave Frankel's coffee with the commander meeting. Lt Frankel passed around crime maps of Berkeley and answered questions The beat that includes Potter Creek is basically crime free except for auto burglaries. Business was finished in 32 minutes.

It is my belief that THE Berkeley PD story has gone unreported. That is the change in the Department's Communications Center. In part as a result of the Cukor beating death in 2012 , responsibility for the Com-Center has been shifted from civilian control to control of a sworn BPD officer, now Captain Eric Upson. My understanding is that patrol officers now feel more confident with dispatch--dispatchers remain civilians. This change was brought about largley through the work of Lt Frankel.



"Former Berkeley police chief dies at age 82" Kristin J. Bender, Oakland Tribune.

"A former Berkeley police chief who led the department for eight years died Monday after a brief illness, city officials said. Ronald D. Nelson was 82.

He reportedly died after a walk with friends Monday afternoon in Tilden Park, authorities said.

He served as chief from 1982 to 1990, managing a 300-person department. He was replaced by Dashiel Butler when he went to work for the UC San Francisco Police Department.

Nelson received his early training and experience with the Los Angeles Police Department, which he joined in 1956 as a police officer, later advancing to sergeant and then lieutenant. Nelson was later a police commander with the Compton Police Department, and also served as city manager and assistant city manager of Compton.

Nelson earned a bachelor's degree from Drake University, a master's degree from Pepperdine and did additional academic work in sociology and public administration at California State University at Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount, Fort McClennan, California Institute of Technology, and California Polytechnic University. Funeral arrangements are pending."







"Berkeley: Consolidation awaits UC children's literature collection" by Lou Fancher

"In the digital age, do we need librarians? A late-February skirmish on the UC Berkeley campus provides a resounding, affirmative reply."








"Kava Massih: An architect learning to let go, and when not to" Steven E.F. Brown, San Francisco Business Times.

"Architect Kava Massih repaints the front door of his firm's office at 8th and Grayson streets in West Berkeley every few months, a whimsical meditation on change for himself and his neighbors."






" Berkeley urban farming nonprofit poised to grow" by Damin Esper,

"Urban Adamah, a nonprofit educational organization promoting urban farming, has purchased 2.2 acres of land in Berkeley from the United States Postal Service. The land, on Sixth Street at Harrison, will give the group a permanent home.

The organization, founded in January 2011, currently farms on one acre of leased land at San Pablo Avenue and Parker Street."






"Downtown Berkeley to see spike in housing developments"

"Hard hats and construction trucks may become a familiar sight to Berkeley residents within the next few years as Downtown Berkeley experiences a surge in housing developments.

More than 1,400 new housing units in Downtown Berkeley are set for completion by 2018, a number the Downtown Berkeley Association expects will both affect rent prices and nearly double the city's population, bringing the number of Downtown residents up to 5,500.

Many of the developments underway could serve as rent-controlled, student-friendly apartments for UC Berkeley students upon completion."








Aw jeez "Berkeley officials apologize for deleted emails"

"Calif.-Officials in Berkeley, a California city famous for its 1960s free speech movement, said they're sorry for deleting thousands of emails that poured in protesting plans to exterminate squirrels overrunning a park.Councilman Kriss Worthington is demanding answers to why the messages vanished from his email account, and he also wants to find an alternative to killing the squirrels. He described peering at his computer screen, when the messages suddenly vanished. In all, 14 people received the messages totaling 81,000 individual emails."







"Pacific Steel Casting Files for Bankruptcy Protection--Foundry Is Still Struggling After Laying Off Undocumented Workers in 2011" Katy Stech And John W. Miller,

"Steel foundry Pacific Steel Casting Co. has filed for bankruptcy protection in California, telling a judge that it is still struggling after laying off nearly 200 undocumented workers-a third of its workforce-in late 2011.

The family-owned company, which calls itself as the nation's fourth largest steel foundry, filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Oakland, Calif., on Monday as its executives look for buyers. The company's 410 workers make steel parts for heavy-duty trucks and construction equipment.

Company spokeswoman Elisabeth Jewel said Wednesday that Pacific Steel Casting expects to receive offers 'shortly' for the its three plants in Berkeley, Calif. The sale could end the ownership of the Genger family, which founded Pacific Steel Casting in 1934 as a military supplier."







"Want to Meet a Congressperson? You Better Be a Donor" by Kevin Mathews,

"Most of us already inherently understand that money has corrupted our political system, but it's always helpful (if not reassuring) to see tangible evidence to validate this belief. As The Washington Post reports, a new study shows that citizens are more likely to get face time with members of Congress and their staffs if they first identify themselves as 'political donors.'

David Broockman and Joshua Kalla, graduate students from UC Berkeley and Yale respectively, were curious about how much money impacts whether a congressperson will listen to a citizen's opinion on pending legislation. Accordingly, they enlisted the help of CREDO Action, a liberal political group, to conduct a randomized, controlled study."






"Marijuana industry delegation's pitch on legalized pot: It's just good business" by Holly Yeager,

"The delegation from the National Cannabis Industry Association made a point of dressing well for its day on Capitol Hill, sporting mostly dark suits, lots of ties and plenty of the group's signature lapel pins, which feature a sun rising over vibrant fields of marijuana.

Marijuana advocates have come to lobby Washington before, often to argue for more lenient treatment under federal law. But on Thursday, buoyed by a flurry of state decisions that have expanded the legal use of marijuana, the cannabis crowd came less as social activists than as entrepreneurs, asking Congress to remove some of the obstacles that stand in the way of their fledgling businesses."



















man at work

a Potter Creek worker carefully places his fork lift under a full pallet

There's something about a man fully involved in his work that's to behold.






American Craft Beer Fest

Presented by BeerAdvocate & Harpoon Brewery, the 7th annual American Craft Beer Fest (ACBF) is the east coast's largest celebration of American craft beer, featuring 640+ craft beers from 140+ American brewers, and drawing over 15,000 beer enthusiasts from around the world.

Seaport World Trade Center, 200 Seaport Blvd in Boston, MA

18 beers of Potter Creek's The Rare Barrel have been well rated in the past.

















" Watch Rand Paul's Entire Speech at UC Berkeley" here.

"Rand Paul Compares Republican Party To Domino's Pizza: 'We Need A Different Kind Of Party'" Paul Elias,

"Republican Sen. Rand Paul's criticisms of President Barack Obama and other government leaders over recent surveillance disclosures were warmly received on Wednesday at the University of California, Berkeley."


Surprised? You shouldn't be!

on 2/22/14 I posted

"What Does It Mean to Be Anti-Establishment at Berkeley Today?" by Patrick Redford, ·

"For some, the opposite of what it meant 50 years ago.

They are the largest student organization at the University of California-Berkeley. Their website bills them as "the preeminent anti-establishment force at UC Berkeley and proud of it." No small claim at Berkeley, a place with a history of activism and where this club has grown into its role as chief antagonist. National news covered one of their biggest stunts a few years ago. The club grows by the year and takes advantage of the ever-changing demographics of the student body. The organization?

The Berkeley College Republicans.

Despite student skepticism and the common caricatures of Republicans, Brendan Pinder, president of BCR, says the club is thriving because of ideological diversity. There are plenty of politically liberal organizations on campus, but, according to Pinder, students view all of those clubs as extremely progressive, and so BCR membership actually encompasses a wide swath of the political spectrum." 

















Look for more blooming fruit trees

to be planted in Potter Creek on 8th around Pardee.



" Man drives van into bay at Berkeley Marina" by David DeBolt,

"An elderly man drove his van into the bay at the Berkeley Marina early Friday, authorities said." 





"California Memorial Stadium will rent to new tenants to help offset debt" Taryn Smith,

"As part of its goal to diversify revenue, UC Berkeley's California Memorial Stadium will soon begin renting to new tenants and expanding events to include weddings.
On Wednesday evening, Memorial Stadium showcased multiple venues in an open house, which drew about 200 guests. Broadcasting the stadium's potential - with raffles, live music and sample catering - is the latest iteration of a plan to transform the stadium into a multi-use facility to offset a debt left by renovations to the stadium, completed in 2012."






"Luminous Water Technologies Licenses Berkeley Lab Invention for Arsenic-free Water in India and Bangladesh"

Luminous Water Technologies has licensed from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), the Electrochemical Arsenic Remediation technology (ECAR) for arsenic remediation in arsenic-affected villages throughout India and Bangladesh. Dr. Gadgil, who heads the Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division and is also a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley, together with his team have done extensive lab tests and field tests in the affected areas. This technology has been envisioned and developed to stand the test of time and to be able to deliver where many other technologies have failed.
Arsenic poisoning from drinking water has been called the worst natural disaster in the history of mankind: an estimate of 137 million people are affected in 70 countries by arsenic poisoning.
Importantly, the World Health Organisation estimates that around 97 million people in India alone lack access to safe water."







"What tree rings reveal about California's drought"

"Here are some insights from UC Berkeley paleoclimatologist B. Lynn Ingram . . . How dry is it?

According to Ingram, this year could potentially be one of the driest in 500 years.

Ingram was originally scheduled to be among the panelists at the symposium but at the last minute had to cancel her trip. In lieu of her remarks, I asked her to summarize some of her main points in an email, and here they are:
'The historic records of climate extend back into the late 1800s, but we need to look back on longer timescales to get the full range of climate for the region. During the recent historic period (1870 to the present), there have been only two years as dry as our current year (water year ­ October 1, 2013 to Sept 30, 2014). Those years were 1923-24, and 1976-77. If we look back over the past 500 years (using tree ring records from long-lived trees throughout the West), we see that the single driest year was in 1580. That means this year could potentially be one of the driest in 500 years. (1580 was even drier than 1976-77 ­ the trees have extremely narrow growth rings, or no ring, that year).'

We also see from the long-term perspective of the past 3,000 years . . ."














air quality report

2/28/14--1:38 PM--dry air in warehouse front. Watery eyes, dry skin. All afternoon--dry air in warehouse front, hacking cough episodes, often at 15 minute intervals. 7:45 PM--similar 8:02 PM-similar. 8:17 PM--similar. 8:29 PM--leave for walk and fresh air. 8:45 PM--similar. 9:01 PM--similar, SERIOUS. 9:13 PM--similar. All PM and 3/1/14 AM--similar.

3/1/14--11:07 PM--SERIOUS irritant in warehouse front and IMMEDIATELY in front of warehouse, HEAVY BURNING dry dirty, mucus membrane irritation, watery burning eyes, burning mouth and throat with swelling. HEAVY "Spare the AIr Day , air," overrides 4 HEPA filters, wear respirator.

3/2/14--7:58 AM--irritant in warehouse front and IMMEDIATELY in front of warehouse, dry dirty, mucus membrane irritation, regular cough, watery eyes, mouth and throat swelling. Only apparent activity early this Sunday morning at closeby manufacturer. 9:01 AM--similar.

3/3/14--7:45 AM--irritant in warehouse front, dry dirty, mucus membrane irritation, prolonged hacking cough. 5:20 PM--similar. 7:25 PM--similsr. 9:14 PM--similar.

3/4/13--8:00 AM--dry dirty air in warehouse front, mucus membrane irritation, Marsha dry mouth, hacking cough, headache. 8:54 AM--irritant in warehouse front, dry dirty air, SERIOUS mucus membrane irritation, Marsha similar. 4:05 PM--similar. 4:19 PM--similar with severe "hacking" cough. 7:08--similar, SERIOUS prolonged "hacking" cough . 6:15 AM--similar. 7:45 AM--similar.11:30 AM--similar with burning eyes and mouth. Marsha similar. 3:14 PM--strong "overheated ceramic/metal" odor. 3:31 PM--similar with "Spare the Air," air. 3:57 PM--similar IMMEDIATELY in front of warehouse.

3/7/14--Off-and-on AM--dry dirty air in warehouse front, mucus membrane irritation at regular interval often 15 minute ones. 12:30 PM--dry dirty air in warehouse front, mucus membrane irritation, mouth, "hacking" cough. 5:15 PM--dry dirty air in warehouse front, mucus membrane irritation, burning eyes and mouth, "Spare the AIr Day , air," overrides 4 HEPA filters.

3/9/14--4:14--dry dirty air in warehouse front, mucus membrane irritation, watery eyes, "Spare the AIr Day , air," overrides 4 new HEPA filters.

3/10/14--12:29 PM--similar.

3/11/14--11:19 AM--similar. 5:42 PM--similar.

3/12/14--3:20 PM--off-and-on "strong raw gas odor" in front of warehouse. 10:07 PM--dry dirty air in warehouse front, mucus membrane irritation, watery eyes, serious hacking cough. Marsha similar.

3/13/14--1:50 PM--dry dirty air in warehouse front, mucus membrane irritation, watery eyes, "Spare the AIr Day , air."

3/16/14--11:16 AM--dry dirty air in warehouse front, mucus membrane irritation, watery eyes, hacking cough,"Spare the AIr Day , air." Off-and-on ll AM--similar often at 15 minute intervals.

3/17/14--3:04 AM--similar.

3/18/14--2:27 AM--dry dirty air in warehouse front, mucus membrane irritation, watery eyes, hacking cough. 5:48 PM--dry dirty air in warehouse front and IMMEDIATELY in front of warehouse, mucus membrane irritation, watery eyes, hacking cough. 6:52 PM--similar. 7:38 PM--similar, SERIOUS hacking cough. 8:21 PM--similar. 11:49 PM--similar.

3/19/14--12:15 AM--similar. 4:05 AM--similar. 7:55 AM--similar, SERIOUS hacking cough. 8:28 :AM--similar. 9:42 AM--similar. 2:26 PM--similar. 2:45 PM---dry dirty air in warehouse front, mucus membrane irritation, watery eyes, hacking cough, with "Spare the AIr Day , air". 2:55 PM--similar.

3/20/14--11:49 PM--similar.

3/21/14--3:44 AM--dry dirty air in warehouse front, SERIOUS mucus membrane irritation. 7:45 AM--similar with "glass manufacturing" odor. 2:11 PM--"glass manufacturing " odor in front of warehouse. 2:15 PM--dry dirty air in warehouse front, mucus membrane irritation. 4:31 PM--"glass manufacturing odor" in front of warehouse. 6:45 PM---dry dirty air in warehouse front, SERIOUS mucus membrane irritation. 9:00 PM==similar, hacking cough. 9:20 PM--similar, hacking cough.10:47 PM--similar, Marsha has coughing attack. 11:03 PM--similar. 11:09 PM--"glass manufacturing odor" in warehouse front.

3/22/14--12:55 PM--dry dirty air in warehouse front, mucus membrane irritation, hacking cough, Marsha similar 1:12 PM--similar, STRONG "glass manufacturing" odor, leave. 4:10 PM--dry dirty air in warehouse front and front of warehouse, mucus membrane irritation, hacking cough. 10:06 PM==similar.

3/23/14--5:48 PM--dry dirty air in warehouse front, mucus membrane irritation with "Spare the AIr Day , air".

3/24/14--10:38 AM--dry dirty air in warehouse front, mucus membrane irritation with "Spare the AIr Day , air".












eternally useful links

You can find more information about our current weather conditions than is good for you at

Want to see weather coming in, going out, beautiful sunsets, and much, much more? Check out This very hip site was in an email from reader and contributor, Tony Almeida. Read Tony's Jimi Hendrix story on the only page that routinely gets more hits than Scrambled Eggs.



Richmond Ramblers' motorcycle club member, Cliff Miller emails a very

useful link

If you ever need to get a human being on the phone at a credit card company or bank, etc., this site tells you how to defeat their automated system and get you to a human being within a few seconds.



Best gas prices in 94710, as well as all of US and Canada, are here at

Kimar finds Costco routinely has the lowest price.



Bay Area home prices from

Bay Area foreclosures from


Our City Council update is here.

Our Planning Commision update is here




Our City of Berkeley Boards and Commissions page is here--redone and friendly.



All reports of crime-in-progress should first go to Berkeley PD dispatch--911 or non-emergency, 981-5900. THEN make sure you notify EACH of these City people.

The contacts are below:

Our Area Coordinator, Berkeley PD - 981-5774.

Ryan Lau, aid to Darryl Moore - 981-7120

Darryl Moore, City Councilman

AND check out BPD feature "Who are these Suspects."


The original owner of all posted material retains copyright. The material is used only to illustrate.