Total Pageviews

Friday, August 31, 2012


SEASONAL SENSATIONS IN SUDS--Showcasing the creativity and versatility of America’s small and independent brewers,—the consumer-oriented site of the Brewers Association (BA)—released its list of fall seasonal craft beers, provided by its members. Offering a cornucopia of choices from all over the country, the list provides taste profiles as well as product availability by state.

“While summer cookouts and picnics are coming to an end, fall brings new opportunities for craft beer lovers to enjoy the season’s natural ingredients and flavors,” said Julia Herz, publisher of and craft beer program director of the BA. “The variety of craft beer styles really lends itself to seasonal offerings, and this year many craft brewers have created delicious, unique beers that usher in the tastes and aromas of autumn.”

Many of the fall seasonal craft beers featured on offer flavor profiles that include pumpkin, squash, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, oatmeal, cocoa and even espresso.

A sampling of some of this year’s craft beer fall seasonal offerings includes Karl Strauss’s Oktoberfest from San Diego.
• Big Boss Brewing | Harvest Time Spiced Pumpkin Ale | Raleigh, NC
• Bonfire Brewing | Gyptoberfest| Eagle, CO
• Cambridge Brewing Company | The Great Pumpkin Ale | Cambridge, MA
• Flying Dog Brewery | Dogtoberfest Marzen | Frederick, MD
• Karl Strauss Brewing Company | Oktoberfest| San Diego, CA
• Lavery Brewing Company | Stingy Jack Pumpkin Ale | Erie, PA
• Rogue Ales | Chatoe Rogue Pumpkin Patch Ale | Newport, OR
• The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery | Mecktoberfest | Charlotte, NC
• Terrapin Beer Co. | Pumpkinfest| Athens, GA

The following mini-reviews of seasonal beers available in San Diego we turn to Meghan Storey, the web editor at the Brewers Assn. Here’s her call on three tasty brews:

--Oktoberfest (Karl Strauss Brewing Co.)—Vienna and Munich malts produce the deep golden color, nutty undertones, and toasted malt flavors characteristic of this renowned Bavarian beer style. Perle hops imported directly from the Hallertau region of Germany give the beer a smooth balanced finish. This celebratory lager puts the “fest” in October.

--Velvet Merlin (Firestone Walker Brewing Co.)—A decadent oatmeal stout teeming with cocoa and espresso aromas. This beer features a rich, dark chocolate and roasted coffee flavor with a creamy mouth-feel and wonderfully dry finish. A judicious addition of Fuggles hops contributes the perfect amount o bitterness to this wonderfully balanced beer.

--Double Bastard Ale (Stone Brewing Co.)—This deep amber brew is heavy, bitter, beast of a beer, and absolutely not for the benighted masses, says Stone brewers, who also add “…we brewed it just for us—and for those very few worthy individuals who have the temerity, nay, the arrogance, to rise above the quagmire of the mundane…” Double Bastard Ale was originally released to commemorate the one-year anniversary of its predecessor, Arrogant Bastard Ale. Pure amp.

Images: from brewery webpages.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


GUEST BLOG/By Jay Porter--Here’s the program in general: on the 30th of each month (that’s tonight), a bunch of restaurants and bars on and near 30th Street offer specials, such as a feature appetizer for $3. This makes it easy for you to go on a restaurant crawl and check out all the amazing places on the 30th Street Corridor. Most places start their specials between 5 and 6pm. So come on out and join us on Thurs., August 30th along San Diego’s Restaurant Row.

Here’s the specials we know about so far. Look for more updates as the date gets closer!

Alchemy: $1 Oysters and $3 Lightning Amber Ale on draft.

El Take It Easy: $3 yellowtail & shrimp & ceviche tostadas with heirloom tomatoes and goat chicharrones, served from our mariscos cart. $6 mezcal margaritas.

The Linkery: $2 half pours of Alesmith X and barbecue grass-fed beef sliders for $3 (cash only, includes tax and service).

Station Tavern: Fresh Corn Hush Puppies with a spicy honey dip $3.00

The Office: Half-Off All Drinks & Drafts, 4-7pm, $5 Signature Cocktails, 7-9

Bluefoot Bar & Lounge: 30th st pale ale pints for $3; a shot of fireball for $3. 3pm to Midnite.

Splash: Splash will be offering up local and organic produce from our very own North Park Farmers’ Market as we do every Thursday. For just $5 cash you will receive a Farmers’ Market Fresh Fruit and Ricotta cup and glass of champagne. The perfect end to the summer!

Air Conditioned Lounge: $5 wells and draft beers, $3 Fireball whiskey shots with purchase of any draft beer.

U-31: $2 truffle fries and $2 chicken wings

Source: Jay Porter, 30th Street Blog,

Image: The Linkery Restaurant, which was recently tabbed by restaurant critic Troy Johnson as “Critic’s Pick” for Best Neighborhood Restaurant in San Diego.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

WORLD ARCHITECTURE/Recent U.S. Residential Skyscrapers

MODERNISM SOARS—Two similar yet so very different high rise structures have been built recently in Chicago and New York City.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK--In Lower Manhattan near the Brooklyn Bridge, architect Frank Gehry’s monster apartment skyscraper (all 800+ units are rentals) was completed in February, 2011. Called New York By Gehry, the project is 76 stories and located in lower Manhattan. The project is so massive it contains a public elementary school.

CHICAGO IS--Chicago’s Aqua, the undulating work of architectural designer Jeanne Gang, principal and founder of Studio Gang and James Loewenberg of Loewenberg & Associates, was completed in 2010. It has numerous firsts, including designer Gang’s first skyscraper and the first structure to combine, residences (718 units), rentals (474 units), condominiums (264 units) and a hotel operation (334). It tops out at 82 floors, depending on your source. LEED designation is pending.

Aqua’s unique look arrives from the fact the entire building (standard glass box) is composed of irregular shaped concrete floor slabs protruding out as balconies. Akin to stacking modern pancakes on a plate.

Top Left: New York By Gehry
Top Right & Lower: Aqua by night and day

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


JAZZ AGE CHRONICLED--Down Beat was a popular magazine focusing on the jazz scene in New York City during the 1940s.William P. Gottlieb [1917-2006] was one of the photographers on staff of the magazine. The following are photos that Gottlieb donated to the Library of Congress and are in the public domain. The images include many of the icons of the music industry in America.

Public domain photographs by William P. Gottlieb, Down Beat magazine

Top to Lower:

--Frank Sinatra, Liederkrantz Hall, NYC with conductor Axel Stordahl, 1947; Note the sheet music says “Laura.”

--Charlie Parker at the Three Deuces NYC August 1947 Left to right: Bass Tommy Potter, Parker, Miles Davis and Duke Jordan-

-52nd street, NY, Ca 1948 by William P. Gottlieb, photographer, public domain

--Doris Day and Kitty Kallen, Central Park NYC April 1947 posing for a cover of Down Beat magazine.

Monday, August 27, 2012


GEHRY DOES FACEBOOK--Palo Alto-based Facebook announced Friday that icon architect Frank Gehry will design the social media’s giant newest corporate campus in nearby Menlo Park, CA. The project will break ground in 2013 and is designed to fit 2,800 employees.

Facebook’s face and founder Mark Zuckerberg posted the following on his page over the weekend: “…I'm excited to work with Frank Gehry to design our new campus. The idea is to make the perfect engineering space: one giant room that fits thousands of people, all close enough to collaborate together. It will be the largest open floor plan in the world, but it will also have plenty of private, quiet spaces as well. The roof of the building will be a park that blends into the community with a long walking trail, a field and lots of places to sit. From the outside it will appear as if you're looking at a hill in nature. — with Frank Gehry…”

The task of highlighting a few of the new campus’s planned amenities went to the company’s environmental design manager Everett Katigbak, who also posted hours: “…At every step of planning the new building, Frank has taken into account our engineering culture. It will be a large, one room building that somewhat resembles a warehouse. Just like we do now, everyone will sit out in the open with desks that can be quickly shuffled around as teams form and break apart around projects. There will be cafes and lots of micro-kitchens with snacks so that you never have to go hungry. And we’ll fill the building with break-away spaces with couches and whiteboards to make getting away from your desk easy.

“We’ve paid just as much attention to the outside as well. The exterior takes into account the local architecture so that it fits in well with its surroundings. We’re planting a ton of trees on the grounds and more on the rooftop garden that spans the entire building. The raw, unfinished look of our buildings means we can construct them quickly and with a big emphasis on being eco-friendly. Of course, we’ll maintain our current campus and use an underground tunnel to connect the two,” said Katigbak.


More info: Background on recent facebook real estate moves go to Time Magazine’s recent Techland article on the facebook current Silicon Valley campus.

Top: Frank Gehry (left) with Mark Zuckerberg examining the model of the social media giant’s next big campus. Photos via facebook.

Lower: Artist’s rendering of the new facebook campus, which will have a tunnel underneath the nearby Bayshore freeway (Highway 101) that will join the new and old facebook corporate sites.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Neil Armstrong

For a gallery of wonderful NASA photos honoring Neil Armstrong go to:


WEST COASTER UPDATE—Here’s a roster of fresh beer news for today from the editors of West Coaster, San Diego’s leading beer magazine, blog and website. Here are several San Diego beer events happening this Saturday. We’ve divided them by the goal you want to accomplish.

Mira Mesa Festival of Beers
The first annual Mira Mesa Festival of Beers at Walker Community Park will focus on breweries from the central San Diego neighborhood, with proceeds benefiting the Mira Mesa Chamber of Commerce. VIP tickets ($30 versus $20 General Admission) include an extra hour of beer sampling beginning at 1 p.m., two bonus taster tickets (12 in total) and in-and-out privileges. Live music on the San Diego CityBeat stage and food trucks MIHO Gastrotruck and Devilicious round out the afternoon. Local breweries include AleSmith, Ballast Point, Callahan’s, Green Flash, Hess Brewing, Karl Strauss, Lightning, Manzanita, New English, Rough Draft, Societe, Stone and Wet ‘N Reckless. VIP 1pm - 5:30pm (Last Call at 5pm)
GA 2pm - 5:30pm (Last Call at 5pm)
MIRA MESA BEER FEST VENUE: Walker Community Park
Directly across the street from Miramar College & Hourglass Ballfields
on Black Mountain Road in Mira Mesa
There will be 18 brewers at the festival
featuring over 36 craft beers!

Second Anniversary @ Hess Brewing
One of the first local wet hop beers to market this year, Hess Brewing Anno Duo, will be released in 750mL bottles at the brewery birthday party. Brewed with fresh Chinook and Cascade hops driven down overnight from Chico, California’s North Country Hops, this IPA will likely be snatched up quickly. (UPDATE 8/23: Hess stated in an e-mail that this beer had not met their standards for serving. So, they’ve racked it in a freshly emptied wine barrel, inocculated it with Roselare and they’ll wait about a year to see what happens). Also on tap will be a new batch of Hess Brewing’s experimental IPA, the West Coaster IPA. We love this beer each time it comes out, for obvious reasons. This go round it was brewed with locally-sourced wet hops! More event highlights include a Willi Becher-style anniversary glass, MIHO Gastrotruck and Ranchwood BBQ food trucks, plus live music from Mudgrass (12 – 2 p.m.) and The Barnacles (3 – 5 p.m.)

Beer-Con @57 Degrees
Although 57 Degrees is a wine-focused spot, beer takes over this Saturday. After a keynote on ‘The Localization of Beer’ from Brewers Association Craft Beer Program Director Julia Herz, attendees will choose from eight mini seminars on two tracks.

You can see the full agenda here, and there’s even an iPhone and Android app for the event. After your day of learning, and lunch provided by Swieners and Casanova Fish Tacos, the ‘tap haven’ opens at 5 p.m. with unlimited 3 – 4 oz tasters from 15 breweries. Some highlights include Ballast Point barrel-aged Three Sheets Barleywine, Firestone Walker Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA, Coronado Brewing Frog’s Breath IPA, Sierra Nevada Torpedo, Ovila Golden and the Russian River collaboration BRUX, Lightning Elemental Pilsner and Thunderweizen, as well as 2009 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine.

Also, Stone’s “Dr.” Bill Sysak will be pairing a dark chocolate truffle with orange and sea salt with Stone 16th Anniversary IPA and a milk chocolate truffle with banana and saffron with the Dogfish Head / Victory / Stone Saison du BUFF. LOVELIKEBEER will showcase a mini version of their Sea Rocket Bistro menu pairing (spicy BBQ seitan with Green Flash Hop Head Red), and Best Damn Home Brew Shop will be putting on a live home brewing demonstration for you to enjoy. Click here for $69 conference tickets (normally $119). Jump on one of the 12-taster Friday brewery tour routes for just $30 more.

Artists’ Night @ Stumblefoot
A live art show and great beer will pair up in the San Marcos brewery tasting room. Local artists David Lozeau, Jay’s Gemstone and Pinstripe Chris will demonstrate their craft as you watch on. Southern style food-for-purchase will be available from Stumblefoot Brewing Company’s neighbors Daisy’s Cajun Kitchen. Further reading: Dr. Q from Craft Beer Tasters wrote up a review on Stumblefoot this morning.

Collaboration Cask @ Monkey Paw
Every Saturday the East Village brewpub Monkey Paw taps a cask of some cool beer. This week they’re putting on a house-brewed collaboration with New Zealand brewery 8 Wired. “Rhymenoceros” is a rye pilsner brewed with New Zealand Riwaka hops that give off a big guava/tropical aroma. Monkey Paw higher-ups have said that “this is probably the most interesting beer we have made because it defies all concepts of the style, other than maybe the color.” And if you know MP’s beers, you know that’s a big statement.

Shipyard BeerBQ @ KnB
Monthly beer-focused barbeques have helped make KnB a must-visit spot across the freeway from SDSU. For August, Portland Maine’s Shipyard Brewing Co. have sent out 10 beers for you to try: Monkey Fist IPA, Brewers Brown, Applehead, XXXXIPA, Smashed Pumpkin, Smashed Blueberry, Double Old Thumper, 2011 Imperial Porter, 2011 Barleywine and 2011 Prelude. On the food side, Monkey Fist IPA-battered Fish ‘N’ Chips will be served. The party goes from noon until 5 p.m.


Friday, August 24, 2012


THANKS, BRAD PITT—Well known architect Frank Gehry has designed a home in New Orleans that has been built in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, a residential area near the Mississippi River that was particularly devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The famed architect’s contribution was made through the Make It Right Foundation, which has organized a pool of contributing architects such as Gehry Partners, Thom Mayne, Pugh + Scarpa, Atelier Hitoshi Abe, Bild Design, Billes, buildingstudio, BNIM, Constructs, Elemental, GRAFT, KAppe Architects, MVRDV, Waggonner & Ball, and William McDonough and Partners to design single family and duplex residences for the Ninth Ward.

Make It Right was launched by actor Brad Pitt, architecture firms Graft and McDonough + Partners and Cherokee Gives Back in 2007, two years after the storm, when the neighborhood was still deserted and devastated. The founders invited the high-profile and influential New Orleans, national and international architects to develop affordable, green, storm resistant housing for the community, incorporating the latest in innovative and sustainable design.

Reports have it that Pitt’s foundation is hoping to build 150 homes. Today, Make It Right has built 75 sustainable, LEED Platinum certified homes for Lower 9th Ward families. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, Make It Right is the “largest and greenest community of single-family homes in the world.”

Gehry’s design (pictured) features four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a rooftop terrace and covered porch areas. In a foundation press release Gehry is quoted saying “…I wanted to make a house that I would like to live in and one that responded to the history, vernacular and climate of New Orleans."

The pink and purple colors were not Gehry’s idea. In fact the LA Times quotes Gehry: "...I love the colors that the homeowner chose. I could not have done it better."

The Gehry duplex’s cheery colors are functional as the cement fiberboard siding is fireproof, rot resistant and hates bugs, plus it’s eco-friendly (made from recycled materials) that gives the place low maintenance appeal.

decay resistant is pink and purple on the other. The pastel colored siding not only offers a cheerful facade, but it's functional, too. Cement fiberboard siding is fire, rot, insect and decay resistant, low maintaince, and made of recycled materials.


Photography on this page: Frank Gehry's project courtesy of Make It Right Foundation

Update: To see renderings of the architect’s designs go to:

Thursday, August 23, 2012


COIT TOWER--Coit Tower, a slender white concrete column rising from the top of Telegraph Hill, has been an emblem of San Francisco's skyline since its completion in 1933, a welcoming beacon to visitors and residents alike. Its observation deck, reached by elevator (tickets can be purchased in the gift shop), provides 360-degree views of the city and bay, including the Golden Gate and Bay bridges.

The simple fluted tower is named for Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a wealthy eccentric and patron of the city's firefighters. Coit died in 1929, leaving a substantial bequest "for the purpose of adding to the beauty of the city I have always loved." The funds were used to build both the tower and a monument to Coit's beloved volunteer firefighters, in nearby Washington Square. The tower was designed by the firm of Arthur Brown, Jr., architect of San Francisco's City Hall.

Blog Editor’s note: Contrary to popular belief, Coit Tower was not designed to resemble a firehose nozzle. Nearby is a statue of Christopher Columbus looking off into the direction of the Pacific, an ocean he never saw. Maybe the statues should have been switched. Move the firefighters statue from Washington Square to Coit Tower’s grounds and send the statue of Columbus to Washington Square, which is located on Columbus Avenue. Just an unfunded thought.

The murals inside the tower's base were painted in 1934 by a group of artists employed by the Public Works of Art Project, a precursor to the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and depict life in California during the Depression. When violence broke out during the 1934 longshoremen's strike, controversy over the radical content in some of the panels became quite heated. Some of the most controversial elements were painted over, and the tower was padlocked for several months before the frescoes were finally opened to the public in the fall of 1934.

Telegraph Hill takes its name from a semaphore telegraph erected on its summit in 1850 to alert residents to the arrival of ships. Pioneer Park, which surrounds Coit Tower, was established in 1876 on the former site of the telegraph station. As you wander the trails that wind around the tower and down the hill, you may hear the raucous chatter of the neighborhood's most famous (and noisiest) residents, the flock of parrots featured in the 2005 film "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill."


Top Image: “Newsgathering” mural by artist Suzanne Scheur from “Coit Tower Murals: A social narrative depicting ‘Aspects of California Life’ in 1934”

Lower: Coit Tower. Photo courtesy San Francisco Recreation & Parks.

Other: An effective and fascinating PDF pictorial tour of the WPA murals inside Coit Tower may be found by placing the following URL in your search engine.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


STARTING LINE—After months in space, NASA’s Curiosity rover has been parked on Mars since August 5. On Wednesday, it’s finally leaving the parking lot on its first drive on the red planet. This image was taken by one of Curiosity’s navigation cameras yesterday.

INTERACTIVE Cool Stuff from

Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Monday, August 20, 2012

THE MYSTERY OF TIME SLIPS/Exploring Urban Legends

ON THE EDGE OF TIME: Guest Blog by Tim Swartz

Time is a funny thing. There never seems to be enough -- yet there is an infinite amount. Time slips through moment upon second into eternity past; yet present, to begin the future.

Time is thought to be unstoppable in its relentless push towards the future. Humans perceive themselves as bound up in time as an insect in amber. Forever imprisoned and forced to reconcile with the regularity and inevitability of change. The past is gone -- the present, fleeting -- and the future is unknown. Or is it?

If a Merseyside policeman by the name of Frank was asked, he may have an entirely different opinion on the subject of time.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon in July of 1996, Frank and his wife, Carol was visiting Liverpool's Bold Street area for some shopping. At Central Station, the pair split up; Carol went to Dillon’s Bookshop and Frank went to HMV to look for a CD he wanted. As he walked up the incline near the Lyceum Post Office/Café building that lead onto Bold Street, Frank suddenly noticed he had entered a strange "oasis of quietness."

Suddenly, a small box van that looked like something out of the 1950s sped across his path, honking its horn as it narrowly missed him. Frank noticed the name on the van's side: "Caplan's." When he looked down, the confused policeman saw that he was unexpectedly standing in the road. The off-duty policeman crossed the road and saw that Dillon’s Book Store now had "Cripps" over its entrances. More confused, he looked in to see not books, but women's handbags and shoes.

Looking around, Frank realized people were dressed in clothes that appeared to be from the 1940s. Suddenly, he spotted a young girl in her early 20's dressed in a lime-colored sleeveless top. The handbag she was carrying had a popular brand name on it, which reassured the policeman that maybe he was still partly in 1996. It was a paradox, but he was relieved, and he followed the girl into Cripps.

As the pair went inside, Frank watched in amazement as the interior of the building completely changed in a flash to that of Dillon’s Bookshop of 1996. The girl turned to leave and Frank lightly grasped the girl's arm to attract attention and said, "Did you see that?"

She replied, "Yeah! I thought it was a clothes shop. I was going to look around, but it's a bookshop."

It was later determined that Cripps and Caplan's were businesses based in Liverpool during the 1950s. Whether these businesses were based in the locations specified in the story has not been confirmed.

Frank's experience is not that unusual in the realm of strange phenomenon. There is even a name given to such events -- time slips.

A time slip is an event where it appears that some other era has briefly intruded on the present. A time slip seems to be spontaneous in nature and localization, but there are places on the planet that seem to be more prone than others to time slip events. As well, some people may be more inclined to experience time slips than others. If time then is the unmovable force that physicists say it is, why do some people have experiences that seem to flaunt this concept?

Tim Swartz is an Emmy-Award winning television producer and the author of such books as: The Lost Journals of Nikola Tesla, Time Travel: A How-To Insiders Guide, and Teleportation: From Star Trek to Tesla. Tim Swartz is also the editor of Conspiracy Journal, a popular e-mail newsletter of conspiracies, UFOs, the paranormal and anything else weird and strange.


Top: Bold Street in Liverpool seen here in modern times is according to urban legend a location noted for paranormal activity such as being transported back to the 1950s and 60s for flashes of time.

Lower: Dillon's on Gower Street in Liverpool was a bookshop and subsequently a bookselling chain, based in the United Kingdom, that traded between 1932 and 1999. Founded by Una Dillon (1903–1993) in 1932, Dillon's was for most of its history most closely associated with its signature building on Gower Street in London, near University College London, which Dillon bought out from a previously failing bookseller in 1936. She subsequently sold the company to the University of London in 1956. The old Dillon’s building is now a branch of Waterstone’s.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


ODE TO MANHATTAN—Classic American poetry in the public domain.

By Walt Whitman

City of orgies, walks and joys,
City whom that I have lived and sung in your midst will one day make
Not the pageants of you, not your shifting tableaus, your
spectacles, repay me,
Not the interminable rows of your houses, nor the ships at the wharves,
Nor the processions in the streets, nor the bright windows with
goods in them,
Nor to converse with learn'd persons, or bear my share in the soiree
or feast;
Not those, but as I pass O Manhattan, your frequent and swift flash
of eyes offering me love,
Offering response to my own--these repay me,
Lovers, continual lovers, only repay me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Walter Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist, journalist, and humanist. He was a part of the transition between Transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse.

His work was very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality.

Born on Long Island, Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, a government clerk, and a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War in addition to publishing his poetry. Early in his career, he also produced a temperance novel, Franklin Evans (1842).

Whitman's major work, Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855 with his own money. The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892. After a stroke towards the end of his life, he moved to Camden, New Jersey where his health further declined. He died at age 72 and his funeral became a public spectacle.


"Thomas Eakins: [Female Nude Circa 1883] (43.87.25)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2006)

SUNDAY REVIEW—A new online literary review appearing exclusively on Pillar to Post (

Saturday, August 18, 2012


POWER OF BELIEVING—Human spirit has the amazing power to imagine. Let’s go into the realm of God. For the sake of argument say God does not exist beyond myth. But because mankind has forever sought answers to the unanswerable our ancestors have created God and wholeheartedly believe in her existence ever since. Thus God exists. Philosopher Franz Kafka nailed that concept in the early 20th century.

“By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired."

--Franz Kafka

Image: “La Creacion de Adan,” a fresco in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel by
Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564). Circa 1511.

Friday, August 17, 2012

WORLD ARCHITECTURE/Guadalupe Valley, Baja Norte, Mexico

BRILLIANT HOTEL CONCEPT: Architect Jorge Gracia, Arq. with collaborators Javier Gracia, Jonathan Castellon, Braulio Lozano and Valerie Peraza teamed to create a modern hotel on a majestic mountain overlooking the resurgent wine producing Valle de Guadalupe outside of Ensenada, BC, Mexico.

Called Endémico Resguardo Silvestre which features independent hillside nodes in sleek minimalist style, was recently named one of the Best Small Hotels in the World by Travel & Leisure magazine for 2012.

Here’s what the magazine had to say: The concept is luxury camping—20 pristine cabins, crisply modern, are poised on a hillside overlooking Mexican wine country. The 99-acre site also includes a swimming pool, a winery, and a restaurant. But the highlight is each cabin (60 x 60 sq. ft), with own terrace and warmed by an adobe fireplace, including views of the famed wine producing valley. Doubles from $200.

Read more go to

Hotel Reservations via:
Photos: Luis Garcia

Thursday, August 16, 2012


DIGGING IT--Popular Mechanics Magazine, has pointed out “…Ninety-eight years after it first opened for business (Aug. 15, 1914), the Panama Canal is finally maxed out. Designed before the Titanic was even on drawing boards and while the Wright brothers were still learning to fly, the canal today handles more traffic than its builders could have ever imagined. About 14,000 vessels carrying 5 percent of the world's ocean cargo -- 280 million tons -- pass through the waterway each year. Despite running the canal around the clock -- at close to 90 percent of its theoretical maximum capacity -- canal officials are struggling to keep up…”

Here’s what’s happening:
--Building new locks. In October 2006, Panama voted and approved the construction of two new sets of locks: one on the Pacific and one of the Atlantic of the Canal.
-- The Cost: $5.26 billion (US).
--Widening and dredging navigational channels in Gatun Lake
--Why the current canal is outdated. Egypt's Suez Canal already handles 20 percent more traffic than the Panama Canal and generates more than twice as much revenue. And the lockless, sea-level shortcut between Europe and Asia can accommodate supertankers that dwarf the largest vessels transiting the Central American isthmus.

History: The Panama Canal is a 77 km (48 mi) ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Annual traffic has risen from about 1,000 ships in the canal’s early days to 14,702 vessels in 2008. When completed on August 15, 1914, the Panama Canal cut the shipping distances from New York to San Francisco in half. No longer having to go ‘round Cape Horn, distances went from 14,000 miles to 6,000 miles.

Completion: The project will be completed in 2014 in time for the 100th anniversary of the completion.

Photo credit:

Caption: Recent preliminary excavation on the Atlantic Ocean side of Panama for new locks under construction is under way to expand the size and capacity of the Panama Canal.

Much More Information:

Quote: “Despite the financial crisis that still affects most of the world economies nowadays, the programme remains on schedule to be finalized in 2014 as planned and in accordance to the initial budget that was allocated to the project.” --from AllAboutShipping.Co.UK

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


SMOKING SQUIRT GUN—Careful what you wish for? The lesson is huge regarding irresponsible use of social media as more than 1,000 persons showed up for an event in San Diego’s historic Balboa Park that turned into hooliganism. The facebook post last Saturday called on the public to attend a free for all squirt gun fight. The organizers listed at the top of the facebook post say they expected or at least hoped for 200 to attend.

Fine print in local media coverage said this was the second time the squirt gun fight had been held.

So far, police are investigating the thousands of dollars in damage done to the famed Lily Pond in the heart of the park. Ponds filled with Koi make for excellent ammunition bunkers.

And, the City is angry. The largest newspaper in town is blaming the cops.

The facebook post is a smoking squirt gun.

The post names names, but to date (8-14-2012) no apologies have come forth from the organizers. Is that too much to ask?

UPDATE: For a timely capsule of Lilygate please go to:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


GUEST BLOG/By 14, 1935: Social Security Act Signed into Law.

On this day in 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, which was originally designed to provide economic security during the Great Depression.

Funded through a 2% payroll tax, the 1935 Social Security Act offered aid for the unemployed, the elderly, children and various state health and welfare programs.

Today, Social Security remains an important topic in the discourse of health and politics. Read PBS NewsHour’s recent article, “34 Social Security Secrets You Need to Know Now.”

Photo: ”Unemployed insured workers registering for jobs and filing benefit claims at a State employment office,” U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. via Bill Moyers


GATSBY, AGAIN —Warner Bros. will release a new film adaptation of F.Scott Fitzgerald’s novel sometime in mid-2013. The new version stars Carey Mulligan as Daisy; Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan; Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway.

In case you too napped during English class and ozoned details of the plot, here’s a quick plot summary thanks to someone at Wikipedia. It’s not spoiling the movie—the novel was published in 1925 for Pete’s sake and by next summer we’ll forget the story line, again. The Great Gatsby as a novel is over rated. The fact the new film version hasn't been rushed to be released is one harbinger that this 1920s study of shallow characters won't be big box office.

But, I'll buy a ticket to see what Hollywood still does very, very well: Old Manhattan influenced period costume design.


The story begins with the narrator, Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner who has graduated from Yale and fought in World War I, returning home to begin a career.

He is restless and has decided to move to New York to learn the bond business. The novel opens early in the summer of 1922 in West Egg, Long Island, where Nick has rented a house next to the mansion of Gatsby, the mysterious host of regular, extravagant parties.

Tom and Daisy Buchanan live across the bay in the more fashionable East Egg, where those coming from old money live. Daisy is Nick's cousin, and Tom and Nick had been in the same senior society at Yale College. They invite Nick to dinner at their mansion where he meets a young woman named Jordan Baker, whom Daisy wants Nick to date. Daisy, who is still as beautiful and charming as she ever was, now has a young child. Tom is muscular, brusque and considers himself an intellectual. During dinner the phone rings, and when Tom and Daisy leave the room, Jordan informs Nick that the caller is Tom's mistress from New York.

Myrtle Wilson, Tom's mistress, lives in Flushing, Queens near a large expanse of land known as the Valley of Ashes, where Myrtle's husband, George Wilson, owns a garage. Painted on a large billboard nearby is a fading advertisement for an ophthalmologist: a set of huge eyes looking through a pair of glasses, seemingly watching the characters throughout the novel.

Around three weeks after that evening at the Buchanans', Tom takes Nick to meet the Wilsons. He then takes Myrtle and Nick to New York to a party in a flat he is renting for her. The party breaks up when Myrtle insolently starts shouting Daisy's name, and Tom breaks her nose with a blow of his open hand.

Several weeks later Nick is invited to one of Gatsby's elaborate parties. He attends with Jordan and finds that many of the guests are uninvited and know very little about their host, leading to much speculation about his past. Nick meets Gatsby and notices that he does not drink or join in the revelry of the party.

On the way to lunch in New York with Nick, Gatsby tells Nick that he is the son of a rich family ("all dead now") from San Francisco and that he attended Oxford. During lunch, Gatsby introduces Nick to his business associate, Meyer Wolfsheim, who fixed the World Series in 1919. Nick, being a moral man, is astonished and slightly unsettled.

At tea that afternoon Nick finds out that Gatsby wants Nick to arrange a meeting between him and Daisy. Gatsby and Daisy had loved each other five years ago, but he was penniless and chose to let Daisy believe that he was as well off as she was. Gatsby was then sent overseas by the army. Daisy had given up waiting for him and married Tom. After the War, Gatsby decided to win Daisy back by buying a house in West Egg and throwing lavish parties in the hopes that she would attend. His house is directly across the bay from hers, and he can see a green light at the end of Daisy's dock.

Gatsby and Daisy meet for the first time in five years, and he tries to impress her with his mansion and his wealth. Daisy is overcome with emotion and their relationship begins anew. She and Tom finally attend one of Gatsby's parties, but she dislikes it. Gatsby remarks unhappily that their relationship is not like it had been five years ago.

Tom, Daisy, Gatsby, Nick and Jordan get together at Daisy's house, where they meet Daisy's young daughter, who Daisy treats as a mere pet that she quickly gives back to a maid when the child has provided a moment's entertainment. The group decides to go to the city to escape the heat. Tom, Jordan and Nick take Gatsby's car, a yellow Rolls-Royce. Daisy and Gatsby go in Tom's car, a blue coupé. On the way to the city, Tom stops at Wilson's garage to fill up the tank. Wilson is distraught and ill, saying his wife has been having an affair, though he doesn't know with whom. Nick feels Myrtle watching them from the window.

The party goes to a suite at the Plaza Hotel, where Tom confronts Gatsby about his relationship with Daisy. Gatsby demands that Daisy leave Tom and tell him that she never loved him. Daisy is unwilling to do either, admitting that she did love Tom once, which shocks Gatsby. Tom accuses Gatsby of bootlegging and other illegal activities, and Daisy begs to go home. Gatsby and Daisy drive back together in Gatsby's car, followed by the rest of the party in Tom's car.

On the way home by Wilson's garage, Myrtle runs out into the street after an explosive argument with her husband and the yellow Rolls-Royce hits and kills her before speeding off. Gatsby later tells Nick that Daisy was driving, but he will take the blame. When Tom arrives at Wilson's garage shortly afterwards, he is horrified to find Myrtle dead. Tom believes that Gatsby was driving, and therefore killed her, and drives home in tears. Once home, Tom and Daisy seem to have reconciled. After a sleepless night, Nick goes over to Gatsby's house where Gatsby ponders the uncertainty of his future with Daisy.

Wilson has been restless from grief, convinced that Myrtle's death was not accidental. He goes around town inquiring about the yellow Rolls-Royce. Wilson finds out that Gatsby owned the car, and while Gatsby is relaxing in his pool, Wilson shoots and kills him before killing himself.

Nick struggles to arrange Gatsby's funeral, finding that while Gatsby was well connected in life, very few people are willing to attend his funeral, not even Meyer Wolfsheim. Meanwhile, Daisy is unable to be reached after going off on vacation with Tom. Finally, the only mourners are Nick, a few servants, Mr. Gatz (Gatsby's father) and an owl-eyed guest from Gatsby's grand parties. Mr. Gatz proudly tells Nick about his son, who was born into a penniless family in North Dakota as James Gatz and worked tirelessly to improve and reinvent himself.

After this whole affair with Gatsby, Nick decides to move back West, breaking things off with Jordan Baker, whom he had been dating for a while. Also, Tom reveals that it was he who told Wilson that Gatsby drove the yellow car. Nick loses respect for the Buchanans and does not communicate with them again.

Image Courtesy of Warner Bros

Monday, August 13, 2012


Del Mar, California USA—Created with all the available eco-advantages in modern construction, this near the beach cottage is perfect for climates allowing indoor/outdoor living. This plan will translate well world wide. Note the garage door wall allowing the home to be opened from front to back yard.

For a recent feature go to the website of San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles. It was written by Thomas Shess, Edited by Eva Ditler and photographed by Martin Mann. The article first appeared in the August, 2012 issue of San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles magazine.
Click “West Meets East.”

Image courtesy:
Martin Mann, San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles

Sunday, August 12, 2012


BEST LAID PLANS--OK, you’re on spouse number five, but you’ve got bucks to deal with the agony of four ex’s. Now that you’re hooking up with your next latest and greatest you’ve discovered problem #1:
Where to honeymoon that you haven’t already been?

The blog has a suggestion: A week at the Poseidon Undersea Resort from Fiji costs $30,000 per couple and it includes transportation from the International Airport of Fiji, four nights in a luxury beachfront or over water villa, two nights in a luxury underwater suite, diving onboard a luxury expedition submarine outside the lagoon and many more attractions.

The undersea digs are 40 feet below sea level in a clear Fiji lagoon. There’s an elevator that takes you down to the 24 below ocean suites. Every underwater room has a double bed and huge windows of acrylic plastic which fade into the ceiling allowing stunning blue water and you can feed the fish with a special remote control device.

Oh, wait, there’s problem #2. The darn thing hasn’t been built.

Problem #3. There’s been a coup in Fiji? Opps,new government. Revise the honeymoon plans to the Poseidon because the recent bad economy worldwide has put the completion date for the Fiji underwater resort –well, underwater. But, according to Bruce Jones, Poseidon’s president, he claims 120,000 lookie loos have contacted him waiting to be informed when the project finally surfaces.

Problem #4. But will Poseidon Resort competitors beat him to his underwater hotel tourism concept? Check the Yahoo Travel link below because another developer that has seemingly taken a used U.S.S. Enterprise starship and revamped it for offshore Dubai. Stay tuned for who will go underwater first.

Update: Check Yahoo Travel

Images from:

Saturday, August 11, 2012


FREE JAZZ & BLUES--San Diego native Whitney Shay will take the stage Aug. 11 in concert at North Park’s Bird Rock Concert Series from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. The local park venue is located where Pershing Drive meets 28th Street and Upas.

Getting her start out in musical theatre, Whitney still enjoys working on various film, modeling, acting, and dance projects while also maintaining a busy schedule as a working musician. A San Diego native, Shay holds a Bachelor's Degree in Theatre- with a Performance emphasis from San Diego State University. Shay's love for jazz, blues, and swing music became ignited when she became active in the San Diego swing dance community; while she simultaneously began singing with bands.

Whitney finds inspiration in a large range of music from the blues and jazz of Bessie Smith & Billie Holiday in the '20s and '30s, to the R&B and Soul of Etta James & Sam Cooke in the 50s and 60s; and her musical performances reflect this variety. Whitney Shay is a hard working and versatile performer, and you can find her singing with anything from a jazz duo to quartet, her high energy five piece swingin' blues and R&B band ("Whitney Shay and the Shakedowns!"), a 13 piece Big Band ("The JazzKatz Project"), or working in various configurations with some of the most talented musicians in town!

Sample her Style:
YouTube: singing Love me like a man at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach.


Friday, August 10, 2012


NEW BREWERIES SKYROCKET-- The U.S. now boasts 2,126 breweries—an increase of 350 additional breweries since June 2011, according to a recent data dump by The Brewers Association (BA).

The BA also tracks breweries in planning as an indicator of potential new entrants into the craft category, and lists 1,252 breweries in planning today compared to 725 a year ago. Additionally, the count of craft brewers was at 2,075 as of June 30, 2012 showing that 97 percent of U.S. brewers are craft brewers.

“Beer-passionate Americans are opening breweries at a rate faster than at any time since the day Prohibition ended for the beverage of moderation,” Gatza added. “There is nearly a new brewery opening for every day of the year, benefiting beer lovers and communities in every area across the country.”

SALES SOAR--The BA, the trade association representing the majority of U.S. brewing companies, has released strong mid-year numbers for America’s small and independent craft brewers. Dollar sales were up 14 percent in the first half of 2012, while volume of craft brewed beer sold jumped 12 percent during that same time period.

Barrels sold by craft brewers for the first six months of 2012 are an estimated 6.0 million barrels. Despite a number of challenges, including decreased overall beer sales, the mid-year numbers show signs of continued growth for craft breweries. The industry currently provides an estimated 104,000 full-time and part-time jobs, contributing significantly to the U.S. economy.

“Generally, most craft brewers are continuing to see strong growth in production, sales, brewing capacity and employment, which is to be celebrated during challenged times for many of today’s small businesses,” said Paul Gatza, director, Brewers Association. “Plus it’s a fact that beer drinkers are responding to the quality and diversity created by small American brewing companies. India pale ales, seasonal beers, Belgian-inspired ales and a range of specialty beers are just a few of the beer styles that are growing rapidly.”

Chart: The Brewers Association (BA)

Thursday, August 9, 2012


HACIENDA HEAQUARTERS--Peter and Catherine Chester operate a retail shop in Little Italy that a lot of North Parkers wish was located in our ‘hood. Called The Bungalow Store (2317 India St., 619-234-7383), the business specializes in furnishings, art, lighting and pottery mainly in the following genres: Arts & Crafts, Spanish Revival, Rancho and Hacienda styles.

“We feel that we have a good business product and service aimed at bungalow homeowners in San Diego and all over California,” says Peter. The shop’s website (www.thebungalowstore) opens up yet another arena with clients across the United States.

Whatever the style of bungalow enjoyed by the homeowner, the year-old Little Italy shop provides furniture, lighting and art specific to the period from the‘teens, ‘20’s, ‘30’s and ‘40’s when these homes were built.
The couple has been in antiques sales and restoration since our graduation from college in 1973, even made a dollar or two from it during college. Their focus has varied over the years from American Oak, 18th and 19th century Americana and mid-century modern.

Over the past several years the Chester’s say they’ve grown in their appreciation for the bungalow home in San Diego and California in general. “Not only did our passion grow for these great furnishings, but we saw a business opportunity, a mission if you will, to educate homeowners as well as offer up period specific items relating to the bungalow home.”
Peter’s quick to add, the “bungalow home” is actually comprised of many different styles and influences, some reflecting revival styles that began in San Diego. “The 1915 San Diego Exposition was the cauldron for the revival of the Spanish and Moorish (North African) styles that spread all across California by Architects Bertram Goodhue and William Templeton Johnson. So, along with Spanish, you have the Moorish and other Mediterranean styles. With the Craftsman home come the Prairie influence, Japanese and the Swiss.”

As the Spanish Revival style became popular a void for furnishings was filled by the Mason Furniture Co. of Los Angeles, he says. Approached by Barker Bros., a very large furniture retailer, Mason designed a line of furniture that was uniquely California. It was called “Monterey.” This line of furniture was to harken back to the 19th century days of the California Rancho. Solid, well-made, comfortable and casual are the hallmarks of Monterey furniture. There are several other makers of the California Rancho style, notably Imperial and Del Rey as well as Coronado. Coronado furniture was part of the original furnishings of Casa de Pico Motor Court designed by Richard Requa in Old Town.

If you want to gab about Craftsman or Spanish bungalows, you’ll find kindred spirits at The Bungalow Shop.
Back to the Chester’s: “Owning an older bungalow home is both a challenge and an adventure,” says Peter, “Furnishing it with appropriate items from the period can be the same challenge and adventure. One can simply choose to furnish with the new quickly, or experience the fun and adventure of looking for just the right piece to fit that spot. Not everyone has the patience, but for those that do, the “hunt” and the find can be a very rewarding past time. It’s for those people we have our shop.”

This article by Thomas Shess first appeared in North Park News.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


CONCERT SERENDIPITY--A late morning stroll from Hotel Ramblas, along La Rambla, a popular boulevard in Barcelona was particularly enjoyable because we had no agenda for the day or that evening other than taking in another sunny spring day along the Spanish Mediterranean.

After a pastry and espresso at Escriba, we came across a smiling pamphleteer handed us a notice of a classical guitar concert for the following evening. The brochure was well done and it included a color photo of the venue, Basilica Santa Maria del Pi. The concert was part of a series called Maestros de la Guitarra Espanola. That night the featured performer was Ekaterina Zaytseva.

The decision was easy. We strolled over to Santa Maria del Pí, which is nestled between the Plaça del Pí and the Plaça Sant Josep Oriol in Barcelona’s historic “Gothic Quarter”. The Plaça Sant Josep Oriol is home to an artists' market on the weekend and has a lively outdoor café culture during the week. There we purchased ticket for the concert that night and continued on our stroll of Barcelona.

We arrived in time to enjoy the plaza and the church itself. The fourteenth-century Esglesia de Santa Maria del Pí is named for a pine tree (“pí” in Catalan) that once stood nearby. Primarily built in Catalan Gothic style, the vast interior of the basilica has a single, wide hall with chapels beneath the buttresses and a giant rose window at the entrance. The stained glass windows are not from the original church, but the oldest date from 1718.

There were no adornments aside from a wooden chair and small footstool to indicate a concert was to be held. We found seats in the back at the end of the center church aisle. We had an unobstructed view of Ekaterina, a 20s something striking brunette in a long flowing black dress.

No one announced her prior to her bringing her guitar on stage. She immediately launched into Sonata K380 by Domenico Scarlatti (1683-1757). The brochure, which was handed to us earlier in the day, was also our program for the evening.

I figured out that the series was homage to composers from Spain not performers because, Ekaterina is Swiss born.

Each of the nine compositions was flawlessly performed. She stood at the end of each piece, bowed and sat down to begin the next number. At the end of the program she announced that her encore would be a work she had composed.

At the end, we all applauded and exited. The minimalist performance was refreshing. Afterwards, we continued strolling Barcelona in search of our next adventure, which happened to be a popular Argentine-style steak house. The recommendation for Gaucho’s Restaurant came from our tour guide, our son, Michael, who was attending a year-aboard program via San Jose State when this tourist snapshot was taken.

--Hotel Ramblas, 33, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
--Escriba, Rambla de les Flors, 83, 08002 Barcelona
-- Basilica Santa Maria del Pi, C/ Cardenal Casanyas, 16
08002 Barcelona
-- for a YouTube performance of Ekaterina Zaytseva at Palau de Musica Catalana, Barcelona, 2009 go to:
--Gaucho’s Restaurant Argentino, Carrer d’Arago, 235, Eixample.

--Mercado, near La Ramba, Barcelona, Spain
--Concert venue
--Ekaterina Zaytseva
--Blog author with son Mike at Gaucho’s Restaurant
--View from room balcony Hotel Ramblas