Fresno State visits Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field (University of Connecticutt) for the 1st time. Frederick Rentschler was the founder of Pratt & Whitney, & Rentschler Field was the airstrip where the company tested its engines. Columns around the stadium capture some of that history, including aviation pioneers who visited this site, like Charles Lindbergh & Amelia Earhart.
Of course, UCONN is best known for their men’s basketball team. The UCONN Huskies have won four NCAA Championships, including 2014, when they beat Kentucky. I was at the game, in Dallas, at the Jones Dome, attended the free Springsteen concert the day before, and also the March Madness Block Party (Jamfest) all weekend long. They also won in 2011, 2004, and 1999. Pretty impressive!
Visiting some of the colleges and universities back east can be quite interesting. When I attended the University of North Carolina post grad program, we also visited Duke University, and found their great golf course, the Washington and Duke Golf Course. My friends went to the Cal game at Notre Dame, and enjoyed the Irish campus, with Touchdown Jesus.
In trying to recall some of my visits to stadiums, I remember: US Naval Academy, US Air Force Academy, University of Michigan (Big House), University of Oklahoma, University of Colorado, Ohio State, University of Washington, the Los Angeles Coliseum (UCLA and USC), Stanford Junior University, San Jose State, University of Hawaii (Aloha Stadium), and Arizona State University.
If you get the opportunity to travel with your favorite team, I strongly suggest going. You will not regret it.
Actually, from the time I first set foot on the UC Berkeley campus as a sophomore in high school, I fell in love with the UC Berkeley campus. It became both my dream and a goal through my high school years to matriculate to Berkeley. The day I received the letter in the mail, during my senior year of high school was one of the happiest days of my young life.
Most people here in the Valley consider me to be a Berkeley liberal. I just consider myself a liberal, though I think I became that way in high school, thanks to friends like Mario Olmos and Bob Osganian.
But here are some unique only in Berkeley quirkiness:
THE NOBEL IS THE WORLD’S most prestigious award for academic, cultural, and scientific advances. A Nobel Laureate will, apart from the award money, get a medal and diploma right from the hands of the Swedish king. But for some, there is more to winning the prize than international prestige and a fatter bank account: a parking space on an overcrowded campus.
At the University of California, Berkeley, it’s easy to spot the bright blue signs (above) marked “Reserved For NL/Special Permit Required At All Times.” NL stands for Nobel Laureate, of course, and the spaces are reserved for the elite faculty who worked tirelessly for decades to win some coveted parking.
The Berkeley tradition dates back to 1980, when Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He wanted a spot, so he simply asked for one. The parking wish was granted, and it’s since become standard practice—one that apparently sticks in the craw of the Laureates over at Standfurd Junior University.. I think this is just great!!!
SITTING ON THE QUAD OF Berkeley campus (in Sproul Plaza) is an unassuming monument to the Free Speech Movement that one could easily miss even though it supposedly consists of an endless tube of unregulated space that rises forever upward into space.
Located in front of Sproul Hall, the monument was set flat into the walkway in 1989. The physical portion of the monument is simply a round cement stone with the bold statement carved around its perimeter reading, “This soil and the air space extending above it shall not be a part of any nation and shall not be subject to any entity’s jurisdiction.” In the center of the stone disc is a small hole that simply holds a patch of soil, but it is the invisible space rising directly above the hole that is the actual monument. As the disc says, this tiny tube of unregulated space is meant to be a place where protesters, free thinkers, and spitfires can say whatever the hell they like, and as it is worded, that privilege extends all the way into space and beyond. I never realized it was there! But I was there, back in 1964, trying to avoid getting caught on TV or in a police force roundup.
IN 1902 THE FAMOUS 12TH century bell tower known as the campanile in the Palazzo San Marco in Venice, Italy came thundering to the ground. Miraculously no one but a resident cat was hurt in the unexpected catastrophe. The beloved tower was rebuilt “as it was, where it was” in 1912.
UC Berkeley campus architect, John Galen Howard, had visited Venice in the 1890’s, and had the chance to see the San Marco Campanile before its collapse.
Looking strikingly similar to that other famous tower, the Campanile on the campus of UC Berkeley has stood a lynchpin on campus since its cornerstone was laid on March 8, 1914. The Campanile is constructed of 2,800 blocks of Raymond granite quarried from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, over 500 tons of structural steel, and Alaskan marble. The belltower is a gothic architectural form, built in a Neo-Classical way.
Hiding inside its dry climate-steady walls are some fossils belonging to the University of California Museum of Paleontology, many of which come from the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.
The twelve bells that make up the original carillon were gifts of Jane K. Sather (who also donated the funds to construct the tower, itself) in 1914, but because of war-related delays, they were not installed until 1917. The largest of the bells, weighing in at 4,118 lbs. (the smallest is 329 lbs) is inscribed with the words by UC Berkeley Professor Flag: We ring, we chime, we toll, Lend ye the silent part Some answer in the heart, Some echo in the soul.Sather Tower, or as we affectionately call the Campanile, is our most visible landmark on campus. I am always drawn to it when I am on campus, or at a football or basketball game nearby. I remember the days when beleaguered or failing students jumped off the tower, before they glassed in the viewing areas. In fact, we will have lunch in the shadow of the Campanile, at the Faculty Club.
So, now you know a little bit about the campus I love so much. I was last here in January for a Cal-UCLA basketball game. I am back today, headed up to the Faculty Club for lunch. Go Bears!!! As I have written many, many times. We may not get to the Rose Bowl on January 1, but we will always win Nobel Prizes!!!
Has it really been about five years since I trudged up to Memorial Stadium in Berkeley for a Cal football game? Have I given up the notion that my Golden Bears will play in the Rose Bowl on January 1st one of these years, while I am still alive? We have not been to the Rose Bowl since January 1, 1959. We played the heavily favored Iowa Hawkeyes of the Big 10 and lost 38 to 12. But we were the 16th ranked team in the country. Joe Kapp was the star QB for the Bears. He later became the Head Coach.
Believe it or not, I was in Pasadena on that fateful day in 1959. Our family was visiting relatives who lived within earshot of the Rose Bowl. I could hear the PA announcer and the cheers of the crowd from their front yard. We were celebrating the great Japanese tradition of Shogatsu at a home in Pasadena. We attended the Rose Parade earlier that day as well. Perhaps I knew I would one day be a Cal Bear, but I had no idea we would never return to play on January 1st!
I was just thinking about how proud my parents must have been, with their oldest son going to college. I remember they came up for “parents weekend” so we walked the campus, went to the football game, then had dinner at Spenger’s. Another time, they came up to visit, so we ate at the infamous Larry Blake’s Rathskeller on Telegraph Avenue. My how things have changed!
With college football becoming a big money game now for most big schools, I doubt we will ever make it back, at least under the current rules and qualification system. For one, Cal learned the hard way, not to cheat their way to a championship, though other schools tend to play fast and loose with the rules. In addition, the academic side of the University will not allow for below average admission for football players. Nor will they give football players and other student athletes any slack on academic progress and performance. Other schools, whose names I won’t mention, tend to make their own rules, but never seem to get caught.
But on this lovely Saturday, I am meeting my buddy Webb, and going to the Cal Arizona Wildcats football game. When I was an undergrad here, I never missed a game. Now, Cal football seems to have lost its charm, as we are not competitive any longer.
We will start the day by having lunch at the famous Faculty Club on campus. Then, we will stagger our way up to Strawberry Canyon where Memorial Stadium sits on a giant fault. Speaking of faults, it may not have been the best idea to remodel the old stadium. Stadium debt absorbs 20% of the athletic budget, or roughly $18 million of the $89 million budget. The principal will not begin the paydown until 2032, when yearly payments rise to $26 million. In 2053, there will be a lump sum due of $82 million.
Ironically, the coach with the best winning percentage is Jeff Tedford, who record was 82-57, with the most wins and bowl victories of any Cal coach. He is now serving his second term as coach of our local Fresno state Bulldogs, his alma mater. But, I digress.
Will we have a decent team this year? We emerge relatively unscathed, but battered and beaten by a trip to South Bend, Indiana last week to play the Golden Homers? Will we ever recruit another 4- or 5-star athlete? Will we ever have a first team All American again? I cannot even remember who the last one was, either Cam Jordan (Saints), Keenan Allen (Chargers) or Aaron Rodgers (Packers)??
We almost beat Notre Shame!!! I would imagine their athletic department budget is about triple the size of ours. But, I can say they rarely win any Nobel prizes or Pulitzers.
Today’s game is against the Arizona Wildcats. Go Bears!
But I love my Golden Bears, even though we will not get to Pasadena on January 1 in my lifetime!!!
“Having hobbies in retirement is so important for keeping both your mind and body busy,” says Craig Kirsner, president of retirement planning services at Stuart Estate Planning Wealth Advisors in Coconut Creek, Florida. “You’ve probably worked for decades and now you have to keep busy in retirement as well.”
These hobbies can keep you productive and fulfilled throughout your retirement years:
Stock market trading.
So, naturally, I have my own take on retirement, having been retired now for 14 years. Mental and physical exercise are at the top of my personal list. But first, let’s talk about those listed above.
Pickleball seems easier on the leg joints than tennis, racquetball, and squash. I would say the jury is out for joints in the arm and shoulders.
I love writing, as you know. It keeps me busy, and it requires that I read a decent amount for both pleasure and research.
I did my share of stock market trading in the 0s and 90s, but now, I leave it up to the pros. Plus, I do not have time to do it responsibly.
I hate gardening, as it reminds me too much of farming. I hate pulling weeds. But I do enjoy picking persimmons, and dehydrating them for friends and family.
When I travel, I do copious amounts of walking and exploring. Not so much around home. I am no longer a real hiker, though I love places like Arches National Park, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and Bryce Canyon National Park.
Though golf is excellent exercise, particularly if you walk, I no longer play. Why? It takes too much time, and I can’t hit the ball more than 260 yards anymore. It has taken the fun out of golf for me.
I have done volunteering since my college days. After graduation, I added places like the Berkeley Free Clinic, Medshare, medical reserve corps, and the American Red Cross. But I pick and choose my spots carefully, avoiding things like radiation (Fukushima), and earthquakes (Haiti).
I enjoy mentoring young future health professionals. I am mentoring two future nurses right now. And even in adulthood, some people need mentoring, not just professionally, but personally, and financially.
They left off two of my favorite activities, travel, and cycling. Both require an active and well-prepared approach. Travel requires planning and execution. It also involves knowing your limits, as I have found out in older age. Cycling has been a godsend for exercise and meeting people, both here at home, and abroad. But I do not cycle crazy miles, and I tend to cycle every OTHER day now.
Finally, I love to read books. And I mean good books, such as the classics, nonfiction, mysteries, and biographies. Not only do they keep the mind active, for me, it provides information for future trips and emails.
As Satchel Paige said, “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you!!”
Yes, Napa Valley is one of the most luxurious luxury destinations in the world. That doesn’t mean everything here costs a pretty penny. The truth is that Napa County boasts a host of destinations and activities that are totally free. Here are our top 10.
Shop the market The Napa Farmers’ Market is the county’s largest and regularly boasts more than 100 vendors, artisans, and purveyors. On Saturdays, it’s also one of the very few markets in the region that operates year-round. The market is held in the City of Napa parking lot at 1100 West Street, two blocks from the Oxbow. Our advice: Go before 9 a.m. to score popular treats such as English Muffins from Model Bakery.
Explore ‘Cowville’ One of the most scenic roads in Yountville is Yount Mill Road, a ribbon of concrete that winds out of town to the north and reconnects with Highway 29 near Mustards Grill. The best way to experience the road: On foot. Along the stroll you can feed hay to longhorns that graze fields to the east, munch on crab apples, and soak up the scenery. The best part: You’re never more than 10 minutes from downtown.
Wander Calistoga’s Labyrinth Wellness practitioners and Zen masters say labyrinths are great places to meditate and dive deep into thought. The Indian Springs Labyrinth on Lincoln Avenue in downtown Calistoga definitely is worth a visit. The circular pathway is adjacent to an art gallery and is a short walk from the spa pools at Indian Springs. It’s also near The Depot, the newest project from Jean-Charles Boisset.
Summit Mount St. Helena You haven’t really arrived in Wine Country until you’ve hiked to the summit of Mount St. Helena and enjoyed a bottle of rose before the fog burns off below you. The mountain is in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park and the summit is accessed by the Stevenson trail that winds from the top of Highway 29. Allow about three hours for the grueling ascent; the scramble down goes much faster.
Disc golf at Skyline Frisbee golf is serious business at Skyline Wilderness Park in southern Napa. This expansive park has a 400-acre, 18-hole course with DIScatcher baskets; the Marvin Paul-designed course is technical with steep grassy hillsides. The entire course can be played in less than two hours—even less if you only throw nine. Follow the course by using the tee signs on each hole.
Drink up Napa art Sculptures on the free and public Napa Art Walk change every year, and for the year starting August 2021 the exhibit comprises 10 sculptures from seven artists representing four western states. Online maps help visitors navigate the art walk. For a fulfilling detour, check out the Rail Arts District, where local artists have painted giant murals on walls of buildings that line the Wine Train, train tracks.
Pay culinary homage More than 4,000 artifacts of specialty cookware, bread baking and culinary tools, appliances, and tableware comprise the permanent exhibit about Chuck Williams at CIA Copia . Williams was a popular local chef who went on to launch the housewares company Williams Sonoma. Today the collection of odd-shaped tureens and a duck de-boning machine are among the most bizarre of the items on exhibit.
Look up Depending on the time of year, hot-air balloons are a common sight in the skies above the Napa Valley. The good news: Ogling at these giant floating orbs is totally free. Most balloons leave right around sunrise to get aloft before the wind picks up. This means it’s probably best to hit up a local independent coffee shop and find a flat and open space for your watch party.
Observing the Oxbow Napa’s Oxbow Public Market essentially put public markets on the map; though others in the United States came before it, no others have quite perfected the luxury angle. While food and trinkets at the Oxbow can be expensive, wandering around to investigate the goodies and wares doesn’t cost a cent. To experience peak rush hour, plan to visit around lunchtime on a weekend.
Critter-watching in delta Birding is the name of the game at Wetlands Edge Park in American Canyon, the southernmost city in the entire county. The park comprises roughly five miles of trails in all, including dirt paths that parallel the Napa River where it meets San Pablo Bay. In mornings, usually right around sunrise, the waters are teeming with herons and other birds. Be sure to bring a camera.
Napa Valley will aways be my favorite. I started visiting in the 60s, when we were invited by Allied Growers to visit some of the wineries they owned, such as BV, and Inglenook. Back then, tastings, even dinners, were FREE!! My how things have changed.
I do enjoy other wine regions, such as the Central Coast, New Zealand, Mendoza, Bordeaux, Champagne, Willamette Valley, Sonoma, Loire, Chile, Central Washington, and even Madera-Fresno. But one area I did not enjoy was Temecula, quite overrated.
Several news articles have emphasized how expensive Napa Valley has become. Wine tasting fees hover around $100, often more for upscale places. Add in hotel, meals, wine purchases and gas, resulting in a very expensive weekend.
Note: I have only done #9, I have my work cut out for me!!!
Any trip to Napa these days is special, since we get to see our dear friends, Chris and Paul. You may recall, they were on my cycling trip and cruise to Croatia last May. I think they travel more than I do, but I am happy for them. They deserve it.
We are here ostensibly to attend a Bonnie Raitt concert at the Oxbow Riverstage on Saturday night. But we will spend the afternoon wine tasting in Napa Valley, enjoy a nice dinner, and hit the concert venue. Sunday, we will “peddle for pancakes” as Paul has proclaimed. Every Sunday, when they are home, they cycle about 20 miles, then stop at the Yountville golf course for pancakes or breakfast. We have done this once before with them. And it is always fun.
On our way back from Napa, we will stop (maybe) in the Livermore wine country as well. Of course, we will be in a hurry to rescue Lexi from Elaines’ Pet Resort.
A bit about Bonnie Raitt. Here is some information from her website:
She was raised in Los Angeles, in the Quaker tradition and a commitment to social activism. A Stella guitar was a Christmas present that launched her career at the age of 8. She is enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, won ten Grammys, and has published twenty-one albums. She has become an institution in American music. She has performed duets with other famous musicians including John Lee Hooker, Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin, BB King, Tony Bennett, and Ray Charles.
Needless to say, this is an action-packed weekend with two special people. But I am sorry to miss their sidekicks, Tommy “Two Shoes”, and Miss Irene.
Despite the growth of many wine regions here in California, and elsewhere, Napa Valley is still my favorite. Why? Three reasons, one, I started coming here in the Sixties, when Napa was the really “poor” sister to France and Bordeaux. And two, we sold some of our grapes to a conglomerate here, Allied Vintners, which became part of Heublein, which became part of ?? who knows! Three, and most importantly, for most of my adult life, Napa was about an hour away from home.
What do we really know about Napa other than wineries, good food, and the Napa Vine Trail? The median income here is about $86,000 annually. The city has only 78,000 people, rather exclusive.
Napa Valley contains about 25% of California’s wineries but represents only 4% of our state’s wine production. And only 0.4% of the world’s wine production. Only 44,000 acres are under cultivation for grapes, with about 700 growers. Yet, there are 16 approved AVA’s. Over half the vineyards are planted with Cabernet.
The economic impact is about $10 billion annually, and nearly $50 billion to the US annually.
Why is Yountville so famous? A pioneer by the name of George Yount presumably planted the first wine grapes here, around 1838 or 1839. But John Patchett opened the first commercial vineyard in 1861, followed by Charles Krug, a name you recognize, I am sure. And now, over 5 million people visit Napa Valley annually. In California, only Disneyland draws more people!
Napa’s worldwide claim to fame: Napa wines earned their fame in The 1976 Judgement Of Paris when a panel of French judges, in a blind tasting, voted the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and the 1973 Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon as the top white and red, beating out the French competitors. It is NEVER mentioned in France!! All they do is bad mouth Napa Valley.
Enough facts for now, Joe (Friday). It is time to go wine tasting and relax at the concert. Oh, and Mavis Staples was the warm up, and she was fabulous!!!
The real Oktoberfest in Munich starts Saturday (Sep. 17)!!! I really do not have the time to re-trace my travel steps, at this point in my life. But this is one event that would be fun.
I see there are some places in the United States that celebrate the Oktoberfest, much like they do in Munich each year. Of special note is the 200th anniversary of the Oktoberfest this year (2010). It began on October 12, 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became King Ludwig I of Bavaria, married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hidburghausen. The royal festivities that followed have become part of this big yearly tradition. It is now known over the world as Oktoberfest with over 7 million people, even though it begins in September (today), and ends this year on October 6 (a full 14 days later).
If there is one event in Europe to attend, that is a non sporting event, this is IT! It is the biggest two week party I have ever seen or been a part of. For the 200th anniveresary, special events will take place. These include: folk music, dance displays, and horse races that are meant to emulate the celebration of 200 years ago. Most visitors, however, come for the festivities, including the fourteen HUGE beer tents.
The places in the U.S. are as follows:
Fredericksburg, Texas Hill Country (Texans are worthy beer drinkers, at least as good as the Germans)
Catskills, New York (I have a hard time seeing this one)
Columbus, Ohio (actually runs 365 days a year, my kind of beer town)
Zinzinnati, Ohio (the largest Oktoberfest outside of Munchen)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin (fifteen acres large and a big fish fry for local flavor)
LaCrosse, WI (fifty year tradition with 3 mile long parade and Miss Oktoberfest contest)
Epcot Center, Orlando (The Biergarten, been there, good food, bad beer)
Leavenworth, WA (Bavarian themed town with lots of oompahpah and beer)
Chicago, IL (St. Alphonsus Church with music by the Bratwurst Brothers and the Polkaholics)
Alpine Village, Torrance, CA (since 1968, lasting for 8 weeks, advance tickets available now)
First, the beer is without peer. The wooden kegs are iced down at the brewery and driven to the Oktoberfest grounds by horse drawn wagons, by lederhosen clad drivers and wenches (or whatever the German term is for them). The horses seem in no particular hurry. But just seeing the ice melting over the wooden kegs is enough to whet even the driest thirst. I just hoped they would drop a keg, and we could all run up and drink all we could before it went down the drain.
A seat inside one of the fourteen tents usually requires a ticket or reservation. These are held by families for decades, and often passed from father to son. Unknown to me, we sat down, ordered a beer, and got kicked out. But not after slurping the liter mug of the best beer I have ever had. And those busty German Fraus can carry about ten or twelve mugs, without losing a drop!
But a seat in the area outside of the tent is actually better for finding food, meeting young Germans, and starting beer and food fights. I met three really neat German kids when I was there. We met every day around 3pm, probably when they sobered up from the previous day. I actually ended up writing to Hans for many years after, trying to get him to visit me in the U.S. Anyway, after spending 6 to 8 hours at the Oktoberfest grounds, we took a taxi to their local hangout, and of course, drank some more beer.
The food was equally good and interesting. My personal favorite was the mackerel and herring (or any white fish) that was barbecued outdoors over hot coals. After choosing a fish, the monger would wrap it in several layers of newspaper. Then, back at the drinking table, we would unwrap the fish, eat it down to the bone on the newspaper, and roll up the scraps and bones after. It was a neat little package.
Of course, we supplemented this with an array of German sausages and brats, along with a huge spiral cut white radish. It became a favorite as well, and I have never seen it since. Our favorite spot was the Lowenbrau tent and their beer, a special brew served only at the Oktoberfest. Their twin lions on their oversized beer bottle would roar on the hour and half hour. After sundown, the light shows started, and the crowds got bigger. It was impossible to walk a straight line. So, we joined hands (with Hans) in a conga line, and followed Hans to various stops on the grounds. I am sure we upset many a German and his family.
Fortunately, my hostel was back near the Bahnhof, so I could not get lost. I just had to ask or tell a cab driver to get me to the train station. Was it Mark Twain that said, “Too bad youth is wasted on the young”? This was true for me on this particular trip. Though I had a great time, I did not really delve very deeply into German lore and culture, unless you consider beer to be their Grail. Perhaps I did find their soul and their hopes and dreams in a liter mug of great beer!
This even should be on your water pail list, even if you don’t drink beer. It is a great event. The Germans are so much fun after a few beers!!!
Over the years, combined with my love for trains, metros, and public transportation, I have been fortunate to find some of the most beautiful stations in the world. Here are a few of my favorites (with help from tripsavvy):
Komsomolskaya Station, Moscow (above)
With its crystal chandeliers, marble pillars, and golden mosaics, you’d almost expect Moscow’s commuters to waltz through Komsomolskaya Station on their way to the platform. Constructed in 1952, the space was inspired by a wartime speech of Stalin, and the creative duo behind its extravagance (Artist Pavel Korin and architect Alexey Schusev) even won the Stalin prize for their work. Beyond its beauty is a blatant political mission. The station was also designed to promote Soviet propaganda, so you’ll find sculptures of fallen leaders and scenes depicting moments of Russian history. I was here in 2014, and was so impressed, plus the metro trains run every 6 minutes!
Metro Center Station, Washington, DC (2nd photo)
Designed by prolific Chicago architect Harry Weese in the late 1960s, the Metro Center station in Washington, D.C., is one of the most beautiful stops in the U.S. To conceptualize his brutalist design, Weese toured the country’s transit systems and determined that the capital needed a grand station to reflect its monumental architecture. The result is a series of vaulted cathedral ceilings with waffle-like coffered blocks and recessed lighting that creates a soft and serene ambiance. Inside, you’ll also find G. Byron Peck’s 1989 mural, “Scenes of Washington,” which was expanded in 2001 to depict more images from the Capital City. One of the highlights of visiting DC.
St Pancras Station, London (3rd photo)
St Pancras International isn’t a mere airport terminal for trains, it’s a spectacular Grade 1 listed building that will take your breath away, and a destination in its own right, with shops, restaurants & cafes. Originally opened in 1868, London’s magnificent St Pancras station was beautifully restored and reopened on 14 November 2007 to become the London terminal for Eurostar trains to Paris, Brussels and now Amsterdam, taking over from Waterloo which had been Eurostar’s London terminal since it started in 1994. St Pancras still serves its original purpose as terminus for the Midland main line trains to Leicester, Derby, Nottingham & Sheffield, and it now also hosts domestic high-speed trains to and from Kent. Underground platforms provide direct Thameslink trains south to Croydon, Gatwick Airport and Brighton. This might be my favorite in the world, providing a great wat to leave London for Paris.
Universidad de Chile Station, Santiago (4th photo)
Santiago has long been famous for its colorful murals, and one of its most vibrant works can be spotted inside the Universidad de Chile metro station. While waiting for the train, riders standing on the platform can admire a mural spanning over 12,000 square feet. The work by Chilean painter Mario Toral, titled “Memoria Visual de una Nación” (Visual Memory of a Nation), was completed in 1999 and depicts the country’s history from its pre-Colombian Indigenous roots to the violent Spanish conquest. To bring the magnum opus to fruition, Toral traveled around the county for two years, interviewing historians, poets, and representatives of Indigenous groups, before spending three years mapping out the mural that’s now a civic treasure. Despite the beauty of the station, Santiago stands out for the place where we first met the inimitable Barry the V!!!
I am sure each of you must have a favorite metro station.
Over two billion people worldwide rely on rice as their primary food. According to new study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, increasing levels of carbon dioxide are not only warming the planet, but also severely lowering the nutritional value of key crops like rice. CO2-exposed rice has dramatically less iron, zinc, and B vitamins.
Speaking of rice and Japan: Did you know there are over 30,000 certified sommeliers in Japan, 13k of whom are women? A modest 26.5% of all Japanese sommelier candidates pass the exams as sommelier training is quite rigorous there. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Japan’s induction into the International Association of Sommeliers. Japan also boasts countless wine schools and a flourishing wine book industry. I have never encountered one, that I can recall.
Some basic rice information:
Rice is a main staple in more than 100 countries worldwide. In some households, rice is included with more than one meal a day. This starchy high-calorie grain is generally low cost, making it accessible to all and a vital base of many diets. Each country showcases a rice specialty to reflect local spices and taste preferences: risotto in Italy, paella in Spain, jambalaya in the southern U.S., coconut rice in Colombia, steamed rice in China, rice and beans in Mexico, and sweet rice in Portugal, to name a few.
The scientific name for rice is Oryza. Oryza sativa is the most common species and is subdivided into the long-grain indica, and short-grain japonica. Tools for farming rice have been found in China dating back 8000 years. Merchant traders helped the gradual spread of rice across the continents.
There are thousands (over 40,000) of types of Oryza sativa, which can differ in size, thickness, stickiness, color, aroma, and flavor. Rice is often broadly categorized based on its shape or method of processing:
Long, short, or medium grain
This refers to the length and width of the rice grain after cooking:
Long grains have a slender kernel over four times as long as they are wide. When cooked, long grain rice stays separate and fluffy (e.g., Jasmine and Basmati rice).
Medium grains have a shorter, wider kernel, yielding a tender and semi-sticky consistency when cooked (e.g., Arborio rice).
Short grains have a kernel only twice as long as they are wide, and yield the stickiest texture when cooked (e.g., “sushi” rice).
Is the rice in its whole, intact form (like “brown” rice), or has it been milled and polished (like “white” rice)?
Whole: Just like all whole grains, rice naturally contains three edible components—the bran, germ, and endosperm (the inedible hull is removed). “Brown” rice is the typical whole grain rice, though this describes not a particular variety but the natural color of the grain. However, whole grain rice is not limited to one color—it also comes in shades of black, purple, and red. Because the fibrous bran layer and nutrient-rich germ remain intact, these varieties typically take longer to cook, and have a nuttier and chewier texture than refined white rice.
Refined: Rice that is polished to remove the bran layers and embryo so that only the starchy white endosperm remains—hence the name “white” rice (again, this refers to the color and not one particular variety). The milling and polishing process removes the majority of naturally occurring B vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber, so B vitamins and iron are added back. Food labels will display the term “enriched” to indicate this. However, only a fraction of the original amount of these nutrients is added back.
Of course, when it comes to cooking, specific varieties of rice are often chosen for their unique characteristics. Here are a few popular types:
Arborio: A medium-grain rice popular for making risotto and puddings. It undergoes less milling than long-grain rice so it retains more starch, which is released during cooking to produce a naturally creamy consistency without becoming mushy. Unlike other rice cooking methods, water must be added to Arborio rice gradually in segments, with constant stirring, to produce the creamy texture of risotto. Arborio rice is available in both brown and white versions.
Basmati, Jasmine: These are varieties of long-grain rice with fragrant aromas that are available in both brown and white versions.
Black (Forbidden), Purple, or Red: These types of short or medium-grain colorful rice contain a natural plant phytochemical called anthocyanins, a flavonoid with antioxidant properties that is also found in blueberries and blackberries. Their nutritious bran and germ layers are intact similar to brown rice.
Glutinous: Named for its glue-like consistency (not for gluten, which it does not contain), this short-grain rice is especially sticky when cooked. This is because it contains primarily one component of starch, called amylopectin, while other types of rice contain both amylopectin and amylose. Glutinous rice is particularly popular throughout Asia, and is available in a range of colors including white, brown, and black/purple.
I usually make one pot full of rice each week. I use an electric rice cooker, which is basically fail safe, and makes perfect rice each time. I alternate among several types of rice: Basmati,
Japanese short grain (Kokuho or Nishiki), or a basic long grain. Leftover rice makes excellent fried rice. And once in a while, when Lexi has an upset tummy, I make her a small pot of rice porridge.
When I travel anywhere other than Asia, I miss having my rice.
From the SF Chronicle: Bay Area broadcaster Joe Starkey, famous for his call of “The Play” in 1982, will retire as Cal’s football radio play-by-play announcer after the 2022 season. Starkey’s “the band is out on the field” call 40 years ago is widely considered one of the most recognizable calls in sports history. However, his legacy extends far beyond a single moment or play.
I remember (Nov. 20, 1982) that call so vividly, even though I was in the car with my then baby (not quite 2 years old) son. We were running and errand, and we stayed in the car to listen to the end of the game. Earlier in the afternoon, I was watching TV and hoping we would beat the Standfurd Indians.
As time was running out, a Cal player (Paul Najarian) faked an injury so the clock would stop before Standfurd kicked the clinching field goal. Sure enough, there was enough time for a last second (4 seconds remained), desperation kick return. Cal only had ten players on the field!
I remember a few of the names (involved in the five lateral play) who carried the ball, Richard Rodgers, Sr, Dwight Garner, Mariet Ford, and mostly safety Kevin Moen, who ran the final yards and bowled over the now infamous trombone player in the end zone. The place went crazy, Starkey was screaming, almost in a soprano voice. There was chaos on the field. But, after much discussion by the officiating crew, they signaled touchdown!!! Bears win!!!!
In his 47 years calling the Bears, Starkey has been on the microphone for 538 of 545 Cal football games. His 500th game came Sept. 29, 2018, against Oregon. I wonder who will try to replace him??