Little birds

February 29th, 2004 § Two comments § permalink

Two little birds are hopping around the plum tree in my backyard and plucking off its blossoms with their beaks. They don’t seem to be eating them; they’re just dropping them on the ground. I guess this is what little birds do for fun on a Sunday morning.


February 27th, 2004 § Six comments § permalink

I saw Low and Jolie Holland in San Francisco last night, along with a couple of other bands I didn’t care for so much. Low was amazing live, as I’d been told it would be. I had never heard of Jolie Holland before, but I was captivated from the moment she started singing. She sounds a bit like a cross between Billie Holiday and Chan Marshall, more so in concert than on her album.

The show was at the Great American Music Hall, which would be a fine venue were it not for the complete lack of chairs (unless you spring for a dinner seat upstairs). Not an ideal situation for a four-hour show, especially if you’re as sleep-deprived as I was.

I guess even back then you could call me CEO of the RSF

February 23rd, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

One fringe benefit of going to the gym is that I often hear the Sather Tower carillon (also known as the Campanile bells) three times a day instead of two: at 8 am or so as I leave the gym; at noon after I return to campus; and at 6 pm as I leave my studio. The carillon may be my absolute favorite thing about Cal, and hearing those bells can make a good day amazing and a bad day bearable.

Another fringe benefit: Lots of hot women using the cardio equipment. Hey, I may be married, but I’m not dead! Woo! (Note: I am not actually married.)

I set out from Reno, I was trailed by twenty hounds

February 22nd, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

I listened to a Grateful Dead bootleg this afternoon. Voluntarily. And enjoyed it. What’s become of me?

A radical notion

February 19th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

Urban design critic John King in the San Francisco Chronicle: Buildings should be for people.

Goal disoriented

February 17th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

From Freehand Sketching: An Introduction, which I just started reading:

For some, the prime reason to take up sketching is to produce admirable drawings that provide a sense of accomplishment. Although such motivation is important, concern about results not only inhibits learning but also hides an even greater source of motivation: the wealth of other experiences that sketching brings. If you look carefully at the subjects you sketch, a new, exciting world of awareness and delight opens to you.

I am among the “some” of which the author speaks. And if you try to extrapolate that passage to your entire life, then multiply it by a million, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s going on in my head these days.

The Fog of War

February 15th, 2004 § One comment § permalink

No matter how much you know about the Vietnam War; no matter what you think of Robert McNamara; no matter whether you normally watch documentaries, go see The Fog of War. It’s troubling, thought-provoking, and unfortunately, quite timely. The fact that the word “Berkeley” was misspelled in the credits in no way detracts from the film’s overall excellence.

Now I need to find time to watch the webcast of McNamara’s appearance at UC Berkeley with Errol Morris, which sold out long before I tried to get a ticket.

Planning “humor”

February 14th, 2004 § One comment § permalink

Q. Why did the Indian restaurant get kicked out of the residential neighborhood?

A. Because it was a naan-conforming use.

(If you’re confused, read this. If you’re not amused, clearly you have better taste than me.)

Green dwellings

February 13th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

Every time I see the odd green house at the corner of Dwight and Martin Luther King in Berkeley, I think covetous thoughts and ponder the advantages of homeownership. There are some condominiums going in next door with roughly the same design, and as it turns out, there’s an open house to view them on Sunday afternoon. Obviously it’s meant for people who are actually interested in buying them, but I’m sorely tempted to go anyway.

Both buildings emphasize green design, with recycled materials incorporated throughout in surprising and beautiful ways. Who would have guessed, for example, that old highway signs would make such attractive siding? The builders also use more conventional techniques, like making doors and paneling from reclaimed wood and adding fly ash, a waste product from coal-fired power plants, to their concrete. It takes real skill, though, to incorporate someone else’s trash into a building in such visible ways. (Rural Studio, an Auburn University project that builds houses in a poor part of Alabama, is probably the master of the art.)

Leger Wanaselja Architecture designed the green house and condominiums, and their other work is also spendid, both environmentally and architecturally.

Two-legged obstacle

February 8th, 2004 § Nine comments § permalink

Buying exercise pants should be easy, right? Not if you live in Berkeley, don’t own a car, and are not morbidly obese.

I needed sweatpants—or better yet, nylon workout pants, or yoga pants—so that I could start going to the gym this week. Finding some, I figured, would be easy. I figured wrong. The selection at Bancroft Clothing Company was disappointing at best. Ross had many fine options, but only in size XXXL. The Gap had some sweatpants that would have been acceptable if they had been available in a small, which they were not. As usual, Any Mountain had plenty of $140 ski pants but nothing that remotely resembled what I wanted. I even considered the $6.99 sweatpants at Walgreens, but like Ross, their sizes were suitable only for the exceedingly portly gentleman. I would have gone to REI, which is where I should have started, but I had homework to do.

But I will not be stopped by a mere lack of suitable pants. There are tai chi classes and fitness machines with my name on them. So if you see me at UC Berkeley’s Recreational Sports Facility early tomorrow morning, wearing a four-year-old pair of ridiculously oversized Adidas shorts, please don’t point and laugh. I really, really tried to find a garment that wouldn’t expose my blindingly white calves.

On second thought, maybe you should point and laugh. I suspect that not finding yoga pants in Berkeley is right up there with not finding sand in the desert.

Where am I?

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