(War Relocation Camp) where my relatives were incarcerated
All posts for the month January, 2020
The highest-paid public employee in 40 U.S. states is either a football or basketball coach.
It’s no secret that professional athletes can rake in the cash, but did you know the same can be said for their coaches? Actually, it’s even true of coaches at the college level. In fact, chances are high that the highest-paid public employee in your state is a coach. In August 2019, GOBankingRates broke down the data as of 2018, explaining that “out of all the highest-paid public employees on [the] list, 29 held head football coach positions, and most pulled down a hefty annual salary of $1 million or more.” They also note that “not a single basketball coach on the list earned less than $1 million in 2018. In fact, a collegiate basketball coach takes the top spot, bringing home a staggering annual salary that exceeded $9 million.” Looks like the rest of us picked the wrong jobs!
This bothers me, particularly here in California, where either UC Berkeley or UCLA often has the highest paid public employee in the state. They make more than either the Governor, the President of the U.C. System, or a lowly professor who has won a Nobel Prize.
Along the same line of thinking, the athletes should no longer take up valuable academic space. Pay them a stipend, and if they make the pros, let them pay the university a fair return on their investment! Just forget about trying to educate these athletes in a traditional manner, unless they (a very few) want an academic future. Let them learn some life skills, how to set up a household, manage their finances, buy a car or rent an apartment, hire the right agent. Please don’t take up space for our (yours too) grandkids!! And the Lori Loughlins of the world, may you rot in hell. If my parents were alive today, they would be SICK!! They worked so hard to put us four kids through college!!!
Photos: Dr. Melvin Calvin, the Father of Photosynthesis, the Berkeley Nobel winners from my days at Berkeley, and parking spaces for Nobel winners.
So, when you watch the National Championship game tonight between LSU and Clemson, ask yourself which school is more likely to discover life changing research, innovative design, or remarkable discovery. I would bet neither!!!
I have been reading about the history of California water wars and land grabs. I recently read about the beginning of the raisin industry here.
A physician named John Stentzel, farming in the Alhambra Valley (not far from where we once lived), was one of the fathers of California pomology. He planted plum and pear trees, as well as the infamous muscat grape. Growing up in Budapest, Dr. Stentzel learned how to ferment and dry grapes. Soon, he was making some of the best wines and certainly the first raisins in California. He won Blue Ribbons at the 1861 California State Fair with is wines.
Interestingly, the Alhambra Valley is now dotted with a resurgence of grape vines, mostly Zins on its hilly scapes. One of our friends (a friend of a dear friend) is now in the wine making business in Martinez and the Alhambra Valley. We call him Big Al, because, he is, after all, Big, and Al.
But the story gets even better. Back around this time, Dr. Stentzel’s son in law, John Muir took over the ranch. The farm was prospering with thirty six varieties of apples, thirty five varieties of pears, four varieties of quinces, five varieties of plums, along with lemons, cherries, pomegranates figs, pecans and walnuts. Muir made some changes with greater spacing between trees, and covering the ground with legumes, before his mistress, the Sierras, took over his life.
Here is the “official” story, but you received the REAL story here!
18th Century –The Birth of California Raisin Country
Spain’s Queen Isabella sent missionaries to Mexico to teach natives about religion. While they were preaching and teaching, missionaries also passed on their knowledge of viticulture. They used grapes for sacramental wines and also grew Muscat grapes for raisins.
By the 18th century, the Franciscan fathers had settled as far north as present-day Sonoma, California. But, when Spain turned power over to the colonial government of Mexico in 1834, the mission system began its decline. Viticulture – and its strong influence on California agriculture – was one of the mission’s enduring legacies.
1851 – A marketable muscat for raisins, the Egyptian Muscat, was grown near San Diego. Since the area didn’t have sufficient water supply, farmers moved to the San Joaquin Valley which has a mild climate and extensive irrigation system perfect for the art of viticulture.
1873 – Legend says California’s first raisin crop was grown by nature, not farmers. A massive heat wave hit the valley before harvest, and most of the grapes dried on the vine before farmers could pick them.
1876 – English immigrant William Thompson grew a seedless grape variety that was thin-skinned, seedless, sweet and tasty.
Late 1800s – Armenians descended from the first founders of vineyards in Persia began settling in the San Joaquin Valley. The area now supplies raisins for nearly half the world, making it the largest producer anywhere.
I thank Mark Arax for his many great insights in his book, The Dreamt Land, where I am learning so much about California, its history, people, and water.
Somewhere around 1941, my family purchased their first farm, out on Bethel Avenue in Kingsburg. After being incarcerated in a “War Relocation Authority” after Pearl Harbor, my family returned to farm raisins and tree fruit once again. It is rather ironic that we are the last ones standing on Bethel Avenue, everyone else is gone, passed on, or sold out!!!
Despite the plethora of specialty cuisines, Kaiseki dinners, and tasting menus around the world, the American hamburger is still near the top of my food choices. Here are my five best. I would be curious to hear about yours.
5. The Kingsburger, Park Drive In, Kingsburg This is the place (only a distant memory) where we hung out after school, after football games, and many other times. It may not have been the best burger, but it was the only burger in our little town.
4. Burger Road, Pleasant Hill A typical greasy, and I emphasize greasy spoon, now replaced by a joint called Chef Burger. I am still not sure if the fries were greasier than the burger. But both were delicious, and my kids loved it when they were growing up.
3. Burger at Chow, Lafayette, CA More of an adult burger, rather simple, but somewhat elegant. The meat is always cooked perfectly, and the fries are always “Crespi” crisp. Priced like a gourmet burger, but I just love this place, its rather limited menu, and the overall bistro atmosphere.
2. Burger at House of Juju, Clovis, CA Who would think a great burger can be found in my new home city? Now in a bigger location, still no reservations taken, this place serves the best burger between San Francisco and the Grand Canyon. Rather massive (the burger, as well as the restaurant), it should be split with someone. The quality of the meat shines. But no fries, instead roasted potatoes, a welcome change.
1. Burger at the El Tovar dining room, Grand Canyon Christmas eve, somewhat magical with the snow falling at the Grand Canyon, we had to warm up inside this great dining hall. Someone said their burger is the best. We ordered, and we now believe. I can still taste it! I can’t wait to go back and see if the magic is still there. Huge, juicy, grilled, served with a huge platter of fries, as the winter snow blankets the Canyon.
I doubt if I average a burger a month. When we are on the road, the easiest stop is In N Out Burger, always fresh, with great fries. It is the only “fast” food that we eat, unless you count pho or sushi. Speaking of which . . . .
I would love to hear about your favorite burger And what you like as condiments.
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I hope you enjoy these as much as I do when I find them. Some are silly, some are quite serious, but all are great fun. Maybe you will find one that fits you and your personality?
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought” – Buddha
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious” – Albert Einstein
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them” – Mother Theresa
(Now that is a great start with three great quotes!)
“You only live once…..False! You live everday. You only die once!” – Buddha
“Ask-hole, a person who constantly asks for your advice, yet always does the opposite of what you told them” – footnote studios
“Not to get technical, but according to chemistry, alcohol is a solution” – Party Tableware
“War is God’s way of teaching American geography” – Ambrose Bierce
“The average dog is nicer than the average person” – Andy Rooney
“America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, human rights invented America” – Jimmy Carter
While attending my dear friend’s funeral, the subject of is trademark gray scale sunglasses came up. He wore them always, even indoors. Upon asking him why he wore them constantly, his response was “When you are cool, the sun always shines on you!”
“I wanna run, I want to hide
I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside
I want to reach out and touch the flame
Where the streets have no name” – U2
The Animals – We Gotta Get Out of This Place. It’s an anthem that speaks to almost everyone, because everyone wants change. It was popular with soldiers in Vietnam, with high school students who can’t wait to get out on their own, and with travelers who need to travel and feel cooped up when they’re at ‘home’.
“Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots – but you have to play the ball where it lies.” – Bobby Jones
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – Bob Dylan
I found this to be quite poignant on my trip to Istanbul: “Throughout history, whoever ruled Istanbul was able to shape it only to a degree; in the end, Istanbul does what it pleases” – Omar Uygen
“Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo” -Al Gore
“Just because my path is different doesn’t mean I am lost” -Mediavine
“Throughout history, whoever ruled Istanbul was able to shape it only to a degree; in the end, Istanbul does what it pleases” – Onur Uygun
I like to repeat one of my favorite lines when I travel with my buddy Mike, originally from Los Banos. It goes, “Not bad for two dumb country boys from the Valley!” Needless to say, we have been to some great and famous places, some not so famous, but always have a good time.
As always, I welcome your own favorite quotes. Over the years, your responses have been both insightful, amusing, and always entertaining.