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Tuesday, August 31, 2021



For you outtatowners the image above is San Diego's popular hub for bus and track transportation on Lower Broadway.

Goodbye Compass - Hello PRONTO!! 

Starting [tomorrow] September 1, San Diego’s Metro Transit System and North County Transit District can use the new regional fare system, PRONTO. 

PRONTO will replace the Compass Card and Cloud systems entirely, offering riders a better payment experience when choosing transit. Compass ends today but to make the transit transition more smoothly PRONTO participants will ride free in September! 

Transit folks know riders have lots of questions about the transition from Compass to PRONTO. CLICK HERE to read the pesky small print.

What’s New: 

--Earn-as-you-go to get the best fare, every time! Load money into your PRONTO account or onto your card, then scan or tap with each trip you make to earn a Day or Monthly Pass as you ride. (COASTER excluded - will still require upfront payment for Day and Monthly Passes.) 

--One-way fares on PRONTO will be valid for unlimited transfers within two hours of activation. --Get real-time account management online (no more waiting up to 48 hours for passes to be available) 

--A wider retail network to purchase and reload PRONTO cards 

--Get the PRONTO App by searching for "PRONTO San Diego" or by using the links below. 


Apple Apps Store CLICK HERE.

Bottom Line: 

To celebrate the launch of PRONTO, riders who get a PRONTO card or the mobile app in advance will ride MTS free* in September (yes, a full month of free transit!). Learn more below. 

 *Valid for MTS Trolley and fixed-route bus service; does not apply to MTS Access trips. 

Monday, August 30, 2021


Rioters, foreground, shattered U.S. Capitol windows during one of the
darkest days in our nation’s history: Jan. 6, 2021 

From the Internet via USA Today. 

GUEST BLOG / By Kevin Johnson, Reporter, USA Today--The Capitol police officer who fatally shot rioter Ashli Babbitt during the deadly Jan. 6 siege stepped forward last week, claiming that his actions likely saved lawmakers and others who barricaded themselves against an onslaught of violent supporters of former President Donald Trump. 

“I know that day I saved countless lives,” Lt. Michael Byrd said. “I know members of Congress, as well as my fellow officers and staff, were in jeopardy and in serious danger. And that’s my job.” 

Byrd, who has been the target of death threats since firing the shot that felled Babbitt, had not been publicly identified until he spoke to NBC Nightly News in a Thursday interview. 

[That day,] “I tried to wait as long as I could,” he said. “I hoped and prayed no one tried to enter through those doors. But their failure to comply required me to take the appropriate action to save the lives of members of Congress and myself and my fellow officers.” 

Earlier this week, the U.S. Capitol Police cleared Byrd after an internal review also concluded the action may have spared the lives of lawmakers and staffers. "The officer’s actions were consistent with the officer’s training and (U.S. Capitol Police) policies," the agency's inquiry found. 

The agency did not identify Byrd in the report. Federal prosecutors decided in April not to pursue criminal charges in the case. Some who supported the Capitol siege by rioters angry about the outcome of the presidential election cast Babbitt as a martyr to the conservative cause. Former President Donald Trump described Babbitt as "innocent." 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., left, says he called President Donald Trump during the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6. McCarthy says he's willing to testify before the House committee investigating the attack. Babbitt, 35, from San Diego, was a rioter trying to be the first to climb through a barricaded door near the House Speaker's Lobby when the officer fired. 

The Justice Department determined there was not enough evidence to prove that the officer who shot Babbitt did so unreasonably or in a manner that willfully deprived her of her civil rights. The investigation concluded the officer could reasonably believe he was firing in self-defense or in defense of members of Congress. 

The Capitol Police Office of Professional Responsibility determined Monday that the officer's conduct "was lawful and within Department policy," which states that deadly force may be used when an officer "reasonably believes that action is in the defense of human life, including the officer’s own life, or in the defense of any person in immediate danger of serious physical injury." 

Earlier this month, seven Capitol Police officers filed a lawsuit accusing Trump, his longtime adviser Roger Stone and members of far-right extremist groups of conspiring to attempt to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday morning, alleges that Trump and the other defendants conspired with one other through the use of force, threats and intimidation that culminated in the attack on the Capitol. 




FOX News
Below: In this NASA image, captured in the early morning hours of Monday, Aug. 30, Tropical Storm Ida is seen moving inland over portions of southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, and southern Alabama.

Sunday, August 29, 2021


eVar Burton will host the special "Open a Book, Open the World: The Library of Congress National Book Festival" which will premiere Sept. 12 on PBS. Photo credit: Robyn Von Swank 

Television viewers can see an inspiring introduction to the 2021 Library of Congress National Book Festival and its exciting lineup of authors, poets and writers in a one-hour special this September on PBS. 

“Open a Book, Open the World: The Library of Congress National Book Festival,” hosted by LeVar Burton, will premiere Sunday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, and the PBS Video app. The program will offer a timely celebration of the power of books and discussions on some of the big topics of the day. 

“Books open the world to us, fuel our imaginations and show us our common humanity, especially as we confront huge challenges in society,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “We’re proud to collaborate once again with PBS and public television stations nationwide to celebrate the power of reading from our national library.” 

LeVar Burton
   Burton, a longtime champion of reading, will host from       his public library in Los Angeles with Hayden appearing       at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The show     will feature 20 of the nation’s leading literary voices             discussing their newest books and speaking to the festival     theme, “Open a Book, Open the World.” 

“I’m proud and honored to join Dr. Carla Hayden to explore the National Book Festival,” Burton said. “A good book can take you on a journey. After the last year, we’re all ready to plot a new course, and books can be an amazing compass. Join me for the National Book Festival as some of our nation’s leading literary voices bring us a sense of renewal, discuss their newest work and open up a whole new world of possibilities.” 

Authors featured in the special are

--Michael J. Fox, actor, film producer and activist, on his book “No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality.” 

--Tana French, American Irish writer known as the “First Lady of Irish Crime” on her book “The Searcher.” 

--Diane von Furstenberg, world-renowned fashion designer and entrepreneur, on her new book “Own It: The Secret to Life.” 

--Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corp. and founder of Breakthrough Energy for clean technologies on his book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need.” 

--Roxane Gay, essayist and novelist, on her co-authored book “The Sacrifice of Darkness.” --Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, discussing her book “On Juneteenth.” 

--Amanda Gorman, author of “The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country,” on how books have opened the world for her. 

--Adam Grant, organizational psychologist, on his book “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know.” 

--Yaa Gyasi, PEN/Hemingway Award-winning novelist, on her book “Transcendent Kingdom.” 

--Mishal Husain, BBC News anchor, who wrote “The Skills: From First Job to Dream Job―What Every Woman Needs to Know.” 

--Kazuo Ishiguro, Nobel Prize-winning novelist, on his book “Klara and the Sun.” 

--Chang-rae Lee, PEN/Hemingway Award winner, on his book “My Year Abroad.” 

--Silvia Moreno-Garcia, novelist in several genres, including horror and noir, on her books “Mexican Gothic” and “Velvet Was the Night.” 

--Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, on his book “The Committed.” 

--Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar-winning actress and activist, on her children’s book, “Sulwe.” 

--Christopher Paolini, fantasy and science fiction writer, on his book “To Sleep in a Sea of Stars.” 

--Sarah Pearse, novelist of horror, on her debut book, “The Sanatorium.” --Angie Thomas, writer of international bestsellers for young people, on her book “Concrete Rose.” 

--Martha Wells, Hugo and Nebula award-winning writer, on her book “Fugitive Telemetry.” 

--Isabel Wilkerson, historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, on her book “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.” 

The National Book Festival is made possible by the generous support of private- and public-sector sponsors who share the Library’s commitment to reading and literacy, led by National Book Festival Co-Chair David M. Rubenstein. Sponsors include: Festival Vice Chair the James Madison Council; Charter sponsors The Washington Post, Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities; Additional generous support from the Library of Congress Federal Credit Union, Tim and Diane Naughton and Capital Group; Presenting Partner NPR; and Media Partner The New Republic. 

Follow the festival on Twitter @LibraryCongress with hashtag #NatBookFest, and subscribe to the National Book Festival Blog at The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at and register creative works of authorship at 

Saturday, August 28, 2021


Ramallah, West Bank, Palestine Territories
Espresso lovers wandering the mid-east will be pleased with brewed coffee at La Vie Café 5 Qastal Street Between the Orthodoxy Club and Arafat Square, next to Sayyarat Betunya, Ramallah Palestinian Territories. 

While the news offers real pictures in real-time about war-torn Palestine note most of the devastation has occurred in the Gaza Strip near the ocean. Palestine territories also include the inland West Bank, where it is peaceful and where La Vie Café is located. 

La Vie Café specializes in vegetarian cuisine and has created quite an impressive menu of delectable vegetarian meals. Very few coffee houses in the world are as diversified as La Vie Café. Here you’ll wander into a burger joint, a fine on-premises farm-fresh gardens, restaurant, wine cellar, entertainment stage, rooftop dining, and a full bar that serves fine espresso drinks. 

For that in the States, you’d have to visit three or four different places. But since this is a coffee column, the quality of their espresso is especially brilliant, however, they also provide top-quality cakes, pies, burgers, and fresh juices. La Vie Café thinks of itself almost as a farm-cafe; they feature a rooftop organic garden where they grow almost all their produce and harvest their own honey. Their rooftop garden area is open in the summer and is the ideal place to sit and relax in the sun. 

Downstairs you’ll find a tapas and cistern wine cellar. Many nights live entertainment is offered. Hours: Brunch daily starting at 10:30 am and a lunch menu from 11 -2 for dine-in only. Dinner is served until midnight. Closed Sundays. 

Friday, August 27, 2021


Holy *$#@, a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III safely transported 823 Afghan citizens from Hamid Karzai International Airport, Aug. 15, 2021 to Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo) to set a capacity record for passengers aboard one flight. 

BREAKING Since the Taliban seized the Afghan capital on Aug. 14, more than 82,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan in one of the largest U.S. airlifts in history.

Let’s pray the old line saying records are made to be broken doesn’t come true. Case in point, the U.S. Air Force said recently that a C-17 Globemaster III flight from Afghanistan to Qatar packed with 823 Afghan civilian evacuees set a remarkable record for one flight of the McDonnell-Douglas/Boeing made cargo freighter. 

The Air Force at first said that 640 Afghans were on the flight, as reported by Defense One. But after the flight crew appeared on CNN, Air Mobility Command spokeswoman Maj. Hope Cronin told the media that number accounted only for the adult passengers, adding that there were also 183 children on board. 

Defense One website reported that the C-17 didn't plan on transporting so many civilians, but when Afghans pulled themselves onto its half-open ramp, the crew decided to fly filled to the brim. A defense official told the website that the Afghans had been cleared to evacuate. 

The revised figure shows that the crew's initial reckoning of some 800 souls aboard -- a number that shocked air traffic controllers, one of whom responded with a "holy f---" when the total was estimated over the radio -- was largely accurate. 

Families board a U.S. Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 23. Photo: US. MARINE CORPS / SGT. SAMUEL RUIZ 

“Reach 871” shattered the C-17's previous air transportation passenger records. In 2013, the Air Force flew more than 670 people out of Manila during relief operations after a super typhoon devastated the Philippines. 

When “Reach 871” was swarmed by Afghans. The plane was empty and the back gate was halfway down when those evacuees began pulling themselves into the plane and then pulling others up behind them. That crew faced a choice in that moment: try to force the Afghans off the plane and get them officially manifested and queued up, or allow as many as they can to get on the plane and go. 

They chose to go. 

An Afghan child sleeps on the cargo floor of a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, kept warm by the uniform of the C-17 loadmaster, during an evacuation flight from Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2021. U.S. AIR FORCE 

The scenario was part of a remarkable evacuation effort by the U.S. in Kabul as more than 42,000 were safely airlifted out of the country. “We have women and children and people's lives at stake, it’s not about capacity or rules and regulations—it's about the training and the directives that we were able to handle to make sure we could safely and effectively get that many people out,” said Lt. Col. Eric Kut, mission commander for the flight. 

The crew is not facing repercussions for the decision because they followed the “commander’s intent” of saving as many Afghans as they can. So, how big was “Reach 871’s flight? For example, a battalion of U.S. Marines runs about 800 in its ranks or about the entire population of Marengo, Indiana. 


--Stephen Losey, Reporter, 

--Defense One: Defense contractors industry newsletter. 

Rugged and doesn’t mind getting dirty, the (McDonnell-Douglas/Boeing) C-17 Globemaster III was designed to be able to land on runways as short as 3,500 feet and as narrow as 90 feet. With engine thrust reversers, the C-17 can back up and turn around on very small runways in frontline operating bases. 

Thursday, August 26, 2021


Krispy Kreme will offer every American who has received at least one COVID vaccination shot two free doughnuts any time every day, Aug. 30 through Sept. 5
Krispy Kreme is doubling down on its popular free doughnut promotion for customers vaccinated against Covid-19. 

Beginning August 30, the chain is giving anyone with vaccination proof two free doughnuts every day until September 5. The promotion comes following the US Food and Drug Administration's full approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on Monday. 

In March, the chain began its promotion to encourage people to get vaccinated with a free doughnut a day for the rest of the year. So far, Krispy Kreme says it has given away more than 2.5 million doughnuts through the deal. 

The chain is also making a special heart-shaped doughnut to give away, in addition to a traditional glazed doughnut. "We all hoped we'd be near the end of this pandemic by now. We're not," said Krispy Kreme's Chief Marketing Officer Dave Skena in a press release. "So, please consider getting vaccinated if you've not done so already. And then enjoy and share two amazing doughnuts with our heart-felt thanks." 

Krispy Kreme said it will continue its free daily doughnut campaign through the end of the year. To qualify, customers have to show their vaccination card. Anyone who has received at least one shot of the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines is eligible. 


Krispy Kreme’s New York City Krispy Kreme recently opened on Times Square. Company staffers show off KK’s Big Apple donuts. 


Wednesday, August 25, 2021


The locals in the mother lode country of mid-state insist the good life consists of family, friends, a community like Murphys [California], and an ice cream parlor like JoMa’s, where all are welcome to take a moment to relax and enjoy a special time in the day. 

Jo Ma’s Artisan Ice Cream’s goal is to make guests feel like family, and to serve them the most uniquely handcrafted and delicious ice cream they have ever tasted. JoMa is the name that Jo Ann’s grandchildren call her. She comes from a Portuguese and Swiss heritage, her grandparents having immigrated to America to start a dairy business. 

Memories of drawing a sweet strawberry through cream-topped ice-cold milk, are still fresh in JoAnn’s mind: “The whole family would take turns cranking the handle of the White Mountain ice-cream maker. Even though I was the youngest, I always wanted to be the one that could turn it the longest.” 

Don and JoAnn handcraft the ice cream fresh as needed, in small batches with love and care. All ingredients used are as close to natural as possible. Don and Jo Ann's factory is located in nearby Hathaway Pines. 

Murphys CA is 60 miles east of Stockton, CA in the historic gold rush region. 

JoMa’s Artisan Ice Cream 386 Main Street Murphys, CA 


While in Murphys stop by Gold Rush Coffee Roasters & Café, Jones and Scott Streets. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021


A classic sign posted on the restroom door at La Closette du Coin cafe and coffee house in the cool beach community of Pacific Beach (San Diego, California).

Monday, August 23, 2021


GUEST BLOG / Staff of USA TODAY--Too often, America's longest war is simplified into numbers. Twenty years. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops were deployed. At least $2.26 trillion spent. 

The most important numbers, however, reflect the Afghanistan War's toll in lives. At least 2,443 American service members have died in operations Enduring Freedom and Freedom's Sentinel. 

More than 3,800 U.S. contractors and Defense Department civilians have been killed. At least 47,000 Afghan citizens, and about 66,000 Afghan military and police members, died, as well as 1,144 allied troops. 

Even more staggering are the numbers of American warriors who returned home with injuries both seen and unseen. Over 30,000 active duty personnel and war veterans of post-9/11 conflicts are estimated to have died by suicide—four times the number that died in combat. 

As this war comes to an end, USA Today honors the men and women in uniform from every corner of our country who made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation. 

Scroll down to learn more about those we lost, listed by date of death. Please spend some time with the 2,443 names. Think about their lives. Think about the pride they took in service, the difference they made.

 And please, think about their families and loved ones. This is a great time to do something, anything, to support our Gold Star families, following USA Today reporter Connie Schultz's advice: "We show up in whatever way we can muster. Text or email. A call or a knock on their door. It asks nothing of us to say their loved one’s name out loud." Or read it in this newspaper. CLICK HERE for the Memorium. 

Nicole Carroll, Editor-in-Chief 

Sunday, August 22, 2021


 In this photo provided to The Associated Press, Mohammad Khalid Wardak is seen in Afghanistan on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, after the U.S. military and its allies rescued him and his family. Wardak, a high-profile Afghan national police officer, was being hunted by the Taliban because of his years working with the American military. (AP Photo) 

Afghan officer who fought with US forces rescued from Kabul. Remarkable coverage by Associated Press.

GUEST BLOG / By Alex Sanz and Tammy Webber, The Associated Press, Kabul.

Time was running out for Mohammad Khalid Wardak, a high-profile Afghan national police officer who spent years working alongside the American military. 

Hunted by the Taliban, he was hiding with his family in Kabul, constantly moving from place to place as they tried — and failed — several times to reach a rendezvous point where they could be rescued. 

After at least four attempts in as many days, the family finally was whisked away by helicopter Wednesday in a dramatic rescue — called Operation Promise Kept — carried out under cover of darkness by the U.S. military and its allies.

The rescue of Khalid, as he’s called by friends, came after frantic efforts by his supporters in the U.S. military, who said he was a brother in arms who helped save countless lives and faced certain death if found by the Taliban. They sought help from members of Congress and the Defense and State departments. 

Comrades in arms: U.S. Special Forces Sgt. Major Chris Green with Khalid.

“I don’t think people understand the chaos that is reigning right now in the capital, the brutality and the efficient lethality the Taliban are using ... to ensure their rise to power as they eliminate their greatest threat, which are these military and special police,” said U.S. Army Special Forces Sgt. Major Chris Green, who worked with Khalid in Afghanistan. 

Khalid and his family were unable to get inside the airport where the Taliban controlled the entrances. He was widely known because of his position as police chief in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province and from television appearances, including one in which he challenged the Taliban to a fight, supporters said. Green said he was “incredibly happy ... elated,” when he learned that Khalid and his family were safe, noting that some of his American rescuers had worked alongside Khalid, which he called “serendipitous.” 

Multiple allies, including the British, helped, and that Khalid, his wife and their four sons, ages 3 to 12, were “safe in an undisclosed location under the protection of the United States.” Officials said other Afghan partners, including police and military, also deserved to be saved and that more rescue efforts were in progress, but they could not discuss details. Khalid’s friends said he had no intention of leaving Afghanistan, and planned to stand with his countrymen to defend his homeland after U.S. forces were gone. 

But the government collapsed with stunning speed, and the president fled the country. “He fought until he had nothing left to fight with,” Green said. “He was wounded. He was surrounded. His forces were not being resupplied. And echelons above him in the government had already begun to make their exit plan ... and striking deals. So people like him who were fighting were left stranded, and they were left without support.” 

U.S. sources in Kabul said Khalid originally sought protection only for his family while he kept fighting. Khalid and other fighters were completely surrounded by the Taliban last week and their location overrun. When the Afghan government fell, that’s when “we quickly changed gears to also work on getting him to safety.” At one point, rescuers lost contact with Khalid for several days, “and we all assumed that that he was killed,” sources said. “Just last week, we thought it was over, and then we were just going to ... keep working harder to protect his family.” 

Khalid’s supporters said it would have been unthinkable to leave him behind after his years of partnership with Americans. Khalid came to the rescue in March 2013, when a special forces detachment in eastern Afghanistan’s Wardak province suffered an insider attack. Someone dressed in an Afghan National Security Forces uniform opened fire, killing two Americans. When the outpost was almost simultaneously attacked from the outside, a U.S. commander called on Khalid, who within minutes raced into the valley with a quick-reaction force to defend his American partners. 

Mohammad Khalid Wardak, center, speaks to a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan.

In 2015, when Khalid lost part of his right leg in a rocket-propelled grenade attack, friends in the U.S. military helped get him medical care and a prosthetic leg outside the country. A month later, he was again leading special police operations in Afghanistan alongside the U.S., Green said. 

Along the way, he helped apprehend al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders. He went on to serve as police chief in Ghazni province and then Helmand province, where he was wounded again last month in a mortar attack and continued to direct the resistance from his hospital bed. Khalid’s family has applied for refugee status in the U.S. based on fear of persecution, but it’s unclear how long that process might take or if they will be approved. 

Kam Air flight RQ909 was one of the last civilian flights to successfully take off from Kabul (bound for Istanbul).

Translators, interpreters and others who worked for the U.S. in Afghanistan are eligible to apply for special immigrant visas, but current Afghan military members or police officers are not, supporters said. His supporters said it was most important to get them out of harm’s way and then figure the rest out later. 

People who are top Taliban targets because of their work with U.S. forces deserve special consideration, sources said. “No one wants to live with the guilt of turning our backs or not ... honoring our promises. That commitment and the collaboration it took to rescue Khalid “makes you proud to be an American.” 

 ___ Follow APs Alex Sanz on Twitter at 

Scene outside of Kabul Airport

U.S. Special Forces Officer Ryan Brummond is seen in Afghanistan.  He helped coordinate and execute rescue operations, including providing photographs for AP.

Saturday, August 21, 2021


La Clochette du Coin is a French café/coffee house in San Diego’s Pacific Beach. Add ocean aromas and breezes to a menu of tartines and salads as well as country-style pastries and bread crafted daily. 
La Clochette Du Coin which translates to “the bell on the corner,” was founded in 2015 by siblings from Madagascar, Willy Wu Jye Hwa and Karine Beers. 

The cafe's name refers to a bell that entices you to get your day started. 

Willy and Karine envisioned a café serving French cuisine with a modern twist. A French café that isn’t just a quick morning stop but instead is the reason why you got out of bed. We pride ourselves on providing great quality coffee and freshly prepared dishes with exceptional customer service. 

La Clochette Du Coin is meant to be a meeting place for people to take a moment and enjoy life’s simple pleasures and share life experiences. With a new Pacific Beach location, La Clochette Du Coin has expanded its products by offering in-house artisanal bread and pastries. Hommage Bakehouse, a project by La Clochette Du Coin, specializes in laminated pastry, enriched doughs, and naturally-leavened loaves of bread that represent a French-American fusion of traditions. 

The meaning behind Hommage Bakehouse is to pay homage to the bakeries of our childhood and give tribute to the most traditional European dishes while staying true to our dedication to innovation and creativity. 

100% organic certified Coffee is provided by San Diego’s Café Virtuoso in Barrio Logan. 

La Clochette Du 

4680 Cass Street/Pacific Beach San Diego.

Chillin' on Cass Street on a weekday morning in front of La Clochette du Coin

Friday, August 20, 2021


A seiner, a sand bar and a container ship in the distance dominate this Associated Press photograph by Petros Giannakkouris.  The traditional fishing boat sails by Cape Sounion, Greece at dawn heading into the Aegean Sea.  Cape Sounion is the promontory at the southernmost tip of the Attic peninsula, a few miles south of the town of Lavrio, and 43 miles southeast of Athens.  At the Cape (behind the fishing boat) on a stately bluff are the ruins and doric columns of the 5th century BCE Temple of Poseidon, God of the Sea.

Associated Press photo: Michael Varaklas, August 2021

Thursday, August 19, 2021


Among the top “Golden Shovel” winners of the Carmel-by-the-Bay/AIA Sandcastle building contest over the years was the castle built by the Mehringer Family of Monterey, CA in 2013.
For six decades, a late-summer tradition in Carmel-by-the-Sea has left no doubt that building sandcastles is not just child’s play. Taken seriously, with artistic and architectural elements on full display, The Great Sandcastle Contest on Carmel Beach has become a major event on anyone’s calendar. 

Brought to life by the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea and the Monterey Bay chapter of the American Institute of Architects, this year’s 60th annual event on Saturday, Oct. 2 features the theme “Sixty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.” 

The contest is held on the sand, south of 10th Avenue. Construction begins at 8 a.m. with judging at noon. Anyone interested in building a castle can enter the contest, and judges bestow awards in multiple categories, from the coveted Golden Shovel, to the tongue-in-cheek Sour Grapes. 

And because bribery (non-monetary) is encouraged, it's not unusual to see platters of food, bottles of wine, and other indulgences being offered to those in charge. For more information call Carmel Community Services at (831) 620-2020. 


Wednesday, August 18, 2021


Associated Press

GUEST BLOG / By Eric Margolis,
--The Olympics, and accordingly Olympic architecture, are supposed to be triumphant. Exuberant. They emphasize spectacle, showmanship, and national pride. 

Look no further than the old National Stadium in Tokyo designed by the late Kenzo Tange for the 1964 Olympics-a dramatic, monumental design with its famous swooping, suspended roof. Or Ai Weiwei's mind-numbing Bird's Nest in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics, like a mega-cocoon for a steely monster, stretched-out steel beams zigzagging every which way. Zaha Hadid's initial design for the new National Stadium in Tokyo stunned with its futuristic, turbocharged bicycle helmet shape. 

But after Hadid's plan was deemed too expensive and Kengo Kuma was selected to design the venue instead, he set out to build the opposite of a proud, mighty stadium. In one sense it's tragic that the venue was largely empty for the duration of the Games. But it's also fitting. The stadium design, in which the 60,000 seats are colored in five different earth tones to create a forest-pattern mosaic, makes the stadium look occupied and alive even without spectators. "The mosaic design is a natural solution to the problem of no spectators at the Olympics," Kuma told me during a recent interview. "By accident, the idea is perfectly fitting the situation with COVID." But the design is also apt on a deeper level. 

While Tange's design was representative of a 1960s Japan experiencing revolutionary economic growth, the new National Stadium is built for a different era. "The new era isn't about expansion," Kuma said. "Intimacy and human experience should be the theme of the new era. My proposal is very intimate and very human." 

Kuma, 66 and possessing a casual, academic demeanor, is one of the most notable and active architects in Japan. He's best known for the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum, V&A Dundee in Scotland, the Dallas Rolex Tower, and now, the National Stadium. 

For these Games, Kuma created a stadium that's humble as far as mega-arenas go, designed to blend in with its surroundings and age gracefully. 

Although gigantic in size, the National Stadium is a simple ellipse created to be as short and inconspicuous as possible, and covered in greenery to best fit in with the surrounding woods of the Meiji Shrine outer gardens. The wooden beams on the roof and the multilayered shadows that they bring inside the stadium makes the interior almost feel like a forest itself. 

Creative resources were not spent on a bombastic shape, but instead on a clever design that maximizes ventilation by bringing seasonal winds into the building, as well as using local wood from all 47 of Japan's prefectures. As Dutch architect Martin van der Linden put it, the design is "definitely not iconic ‚Ķ But I personally like it very much, especially once the vegetation is blooming and the stadium will look like a large planter." 

Despite its scale, the building is classic Kuma. His broader architectural philosophy opposes 20th century, industrial, efficient, corporate architecture and strives toward more human design. I saw this philosophy on full display in an ongoing exhibit of Kuma's designs at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo as a part of the Japan Cultural Expo. 

A self-declared enemy of boxes, Kuma strives to create architecture that brings people into a more dynamic, joyful world of walkable streets. 

"In a modern society, an intimate street can become new co-working spaces and playing spaces for children," said Kuma. Kuma envisions a city of intimate, mellow walkways and parks, rich with places to live, work, and play. Majesty of the sort usually required by the Games isn't really on his mind. 

Starchitect Kengo Kuma atop his four-level headquarters building in Tokyo.  Azure Magazine

One of Kuma's core themes-oblique angles-is premised on how humans are creatures that wander freely over the earth's varied surfaces, and aren't meant to be trapped in boxes or grids. His iconic Dallas Rolex Tower in Texas utilizes this principle to gently twist out from its foundation, creating a less oppressive high-rise building that looks just as much like terrain as it does the average skyscraper. 

Another theme, soft surfaces, can be seen in the Takayanagi Community Center here in Japan. The building is made with a thatch roof and translucent washi paper for more gentle, textured partitioning as opposed to hard walls or glass. 

"Some people think of Kuma's architecture as made to be photogenic," exhibit curator Kenjiro Hosaka said. "We wanted visitors to understand that his designs are created out of necessity." 

Far from the monument to a resurgent Japan that organizers' envisioned, Kuma envisions that the National Stadium will be a part of an era of economic contraction and human intimacy. It's a vision that runs counter to what the Olympics have been in practice in the near past. Kuma’s world is about human needs. "We all need space at the right scale for our bodies," writes Kuma, "and more room does not necessarily make our lives richer." 

The firm also observed in its study of how cats live and move showed that the cats had paths through the city that wandered and wiggled freely along the topography-the very opposite of the square, thick lines of a typical city plan. "Each cat's trajectory is free," writes Kuma, "and these are just the kind of routes we want to take ourselves in the post-COVID, post-2020 world." 

Kuma said that he sees a younger generation of architects in Japan emphasizing local and recycled building materials, lots of greenery, and sustainable designs built not for cars or industry, but for human beings. As the National Stadium goes on to be used in future sporting and cultural events in Tokyo, it won't live on as a monument to the disaster and triumph of these coronavirus Olympics, or as a harbinger of some sort of new era in Japan, but instead as one piece of a warmer and gentler Tokyo. 

"I have hope for the future of the Japanese city," Kuma said. And it's clear that this future is one that couldn't care less about the Olympics. 


KUMA’S WAY WITH WOOD Click here.  

Kuma’s teahouse at Shaw Tower in 2017 in Vancouver, BC from where you can see the Pacific Ocean and also the nearby mountains.