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Monday, February 28, 2022


Photo portrait of John Perry, Jr.
was taken remotely portrait by CNN via video call.

Editor’s note:
The text of the CNN article appearing on this daily online magazine may or may not be of interest to you, but our reason for highlighting this post is to demonstrate how the pandemic has changed the way media photographers go about their business. This photo essay shows that quality hasn’t suffered on features. Breaking news photography, however, doesn’t apply here. Here's why this photo essay is important. The portraits in this story were taken remotely. The photographer, in this case CNN’s Heather Fulbright, was never in the same room as the people she photographed. Through video calls, CNN photo editors were to direct people from afar and capture still images through an app on their cell phones—which were either held by a family member or placed on a tripod (or any other household object that worked). The method reflects the way many of us have had to change how we work during the pandemic era.

Here's an excerpt. For the full photo essay CLICK HERE

Texas voters cast their first 2022 primary ballots By Kelly Mena and Tami Luhby, CNN Photographs by Heather Fulbright, CNN As Texas voters head to polls this year, they’ve had to deal with a slew of election law changes, including limited early voting hours and increased mail-in voting requirements. Texas was among the 19 states where, in response to baseless claims of voter fraud and the increased use of mail-in ballots in the 2020 general election, GOP-led legislatures enacted a slew of voting restrictions in 2021. Many of those changes will be tested for the first time this year during the critical midterm cycle. Lone Star State voters have already been dealing with the challenges associated with the new rules as a high rate of mail-in ballot applications and mail-in ballots have been rejected heading into the primary on March 1. Texas Republicans argue the changes will improve the security and integrity of the elections. Voting rights advocates and Democrats worry it will disenfranchise voters, particularly voters of color. CNN Politics spoke with a diverse group of voters about their experience voting in the primary and their thoughts on the changes. 

JOHN PERRY, JR. Fresno, Texas [pictured above]

New restrictions can’t stop voters John Perry Jr. knows how important voting is. The 72-year-old first cast a ballot in 1969 at the height of the civil rights movement and a poignant time for Black Americans. Perry told CNN that he was inspired to vote from a young age when he had a traumatic encounter with police while playing with friends at a park when he was 17. “That kind of radicalized me. My hometown was small with a big Black population. So regularly I and others were the recipients of what I call drive-by racism. They would drive by and roll the windows down and shout out, ‘Go back to Africa,’ ” said Perry, who is originally from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The harrowing experience, which left him with a permanent scar over his right eye, led to him becoming civically active, including being involved in voter registration drives and education. Perry doesn’t agree with the new restrictions on voting and said the laws aren’t stopping him, especially as he remembers the struggle Black Americans endured for the right to vote. “Those people were literally killed, murdered for the right to vote. Sitting in a voter registration line could get you killed, get you fired from your job, your house burned down. So no matter what they're throwing at us right now, nothing compares to that. Now if we can endure that and overcome that, then whatever the state of Texas, Georgia and all these other states, we can get around that too,” Perry said. Perry, though eligible for mail-in voting, said he would never take that option. He enjoys going in person. This year, mail-in voting has hit a few snags, including high rejection rates and some ballots even going to the wrong office. “I like the idea of showing up at a polling place, being physically present for it. I've never voted by mail. And I never will,” Perry, a Democrat, told CNN. Perry voted early, in person at his regular polling place in Fresno, Texas, without issue. Coincidentally, the county where Perry resides, Fort Bend, just renamed its law library after Willie Melton, a civil rights activist who challenged the county’s all-White primaries. The case eventually went to the US Supreme Court and ended the system of all-White primaries in Fort Bend County. 

Sunday, February 27, 2022


 Newly married couple Yarina Arieva and Svyatoslav Fursinb joined the ranks of Ukraine’s territorial defense on Friday the day after they got married in Kyiv.


Saturday, February 26, 2022


By Holden DeMayo, Editor, you’ve been following this column in since its inception in 2011 you’ve figured out someone at this free general interest blog is a coffee aficionado. Like a nosy puppy, exploring is in our DNA, especially when it comes to sharing likable coffee houses wherever they may be. 

We recently, went to the Napa Valley to reconnect to the village/now city of Napa, where I was best man at the wedding of our son more than 20 years ago. While there recently we came across Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company, owned by Ben and Charlie Sange, which first opened its doors in downtown Napa in 1985. 

They were one of the first local [pre-Starbucks] coffee roasting companies in the Napa Valley, modeled upon European cafes and housed in a landmark Victorian building. 

Personal aside: If one needed a photo to illustrate what a quintessential pre-Starbucks coffee house looks like then the photos here will do nicely. And, it made me smile to discover Napa Valley Coffee Company had its original swinging screen door behind the main door. Reminded me of entering my Godfather's ranch in New Mexico and the late but never forgotten “My heaven’s they’re tasty” rib joint in the Sonoma Valley, near Glen Ellen. Cranky old screen doors are so cool. 

Yes, the Napa Valley is a remarkable wine-growing region, and while you’re there tasting the nectar of the grapes, Napa Valley Roasting Company is an oasis amid the vineyards for that needed hit of coffee. They mastered our cortados. 

In 1991, a second location opened in downtown St. Helena, the site where the company’s roasting is done. To its credit, NVRC remains the supplier of signature coffee blends for some of Napa Valley’s most acclaimed restaurants and wineries, in addition to businesses beyond the Valley. 

Coffee for sale

NVRC carries about nine or ten single-origin coffees from Indonesia, Africa, and the Americas. Its roasting profiles are designed to maximize the flavors each origin brings to the finished cup of coffee. They roast coffees in roughly 20-pound batches, ensuring the highest possible quality. Beans are roasted 4 to 6 nights a week for maximum freshness. 

During pandemic times, NVRC is scheduling coffee tastings by appointment only, but co-owner Ben Sange said to email him when you expect to be in the area and he'll work on setting up a tasting.  The tastings are held out of its St. Helena shop. We’re going to sign up and report on that experience in a later blog but for now, here’s what NVRC’s website says about its tasty tasting:  

From NVRC: Our tasting is a great way for guests to experience and gain an understanding of the difference among single-varietal coffees, roasts and blends. The tasting begins with a short educational slideshow about the coffees we provide – during which we will also show you our Probat roaster and explain how our coffee is roasted. 

Next, the tasting! 

 We will provide single varietals from three different growing regions: the Americas (Guatemala, Mexico, or Colombia), Africa (Ethiopia), and Indonesia (Sumatra or Timor). While tasting, we will identify and discuss the flavor and aromatic characteristics unique to each coffee. 

Guests will also experience the strength of a French Roast, and then a blend comprised of a flavorful combination of coffees from the three previously tasted growing regions. The tasting concludes with each guest receiving a 12 oz. bag of coffee-based upon their favorite aromas and flavors from the coffees. Tastings are held in our St. Helena location (where our roaster is located). The cost is $95 per couple and $15 for each additional person, up to a total of four people. For more information, contact 

Friday, February 25, 2022


GUEST BLOG / By Mona Mahajan and Greg Fehr, Edward Jones Company
--Markets react to a full-scale invasion by Russia. Equity markets moved sharply lower yesterday morning around the globe, with U.S. indices adding to losses and European markets lower by 3.0% - 4.0%.1. 

These moves come as Russian President Putin began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine last night, violating international law and inciting acts of war. In response, oil prices have also moved higher, with WTI crude briefly surpassing $100, and investors have flocked to traditional safe-haven assets, including U.S. Treasury bonds, the U.S. dollar, and gold. 

Notably, the VIX volatility index is now at its high for the year, underscoring the near-term uncertainty that markets are facing. This chart shows the recent run-up in the markets volatility index as stocks have sold off on the Russian crisis. 

Geopolitical shock will drive additional volatility but shouldn't set a new course. Historically, markets tend to look past geopolitical conflicts and focus primarily on economic spillovers. Given that the situation in Ukraine has escalated beyond the level of "tensions", we don't think it's unreasonable that equity markets are reacting sharply. 

However, history shows us that geopolitical events tend to be temporary, with broader economic fundamentals serving as a more sustainable market driver. Notably, the direct implications of this conflict to the U.S. economy and markets are limited, with the primary impact likely to come from potential inflationary impacts that would stem from higher commodity prices and expanding sanctions on Russian exports. These are likely to be more acute for Europe, which gets roughly 40% of its natural gas and 30% of crude oil imports from Russia. 

So, while markets are likely exhibiting discomfort with the fact that the Fed will be hiking rates amid this global uncertainty, we don't expect the jump in oil prices to alter the broader path of above-trend economic growth and moderating core inflation as we progress this year. 

While we still see the Fed moving forward with a rate hike in March, the probability of a 0.50% hike has come down substantially. In our view, we see scope for the Fed to move less aggressively with policy tightening this year relative to current consensus expectations, which ultimately could provide support to markets as well. 

This table, above, shows the immediate, 3-month, and 1-year price action in the S&P 500 after similar shocks to the market. The general trend is that the market moves higher over the long-term. Our broader take: Markets can climb these walls of worry. The rising geopolitical tensions are certainly a headwind for markets in the near-term, and they come at a time when investors were already grappling with uncertainty around inflation and Fed rate-hike expectations. 

Higher oil prices and potential supply-chain disruptions also weigh on inflation and consumer confidence. However, markets have now fallen well into correction territory, with the S&P 500 down over 10% from recent highs, perhaps now reflecting some of these headwinds. 

More broadly, the S&P 500 is still up nearly 80% from the March 2020 lows1, perhaps just now giving back some of the excess valuation expansion in the post-pandemic period. 

Taking a step back, we continue to see a U.S. economy that remains in the later mid-cycle of its economic expansion. This is supported by a relatively healthy consumer, above-trend economic growth, and robust corporate balance sheets and earnings growth. 

While we will be watching the impacts to inflation and confidence, it is notable that the direct economic impact from Russia to the U.S. is also relatively limited, as Russia accounts for just 1% of U.S. revenues and is a minor trading partner for the U.S. (European economies have notably more exposure). 

While markets are facing sizable walls of worry - both with rising geopolitical tensions and a Fed that will lay out its tightening policy in mid-March - we see the potential for stability in the weeks ahead as we get more clarity on both fronts. 

Although defensive posturing makes sense in the near term, in our view market opportunities may be forming, particularly if economic and earnings growth continue to hold up well. While volatility was expected this year, investors can use these periods as opportunities to re-balance, diversify and ultimately add quality investments to portfolios at attractive prices and valuations. Action items for investors: 

While market volatility is likely to remain elevated in the near term, we see the potential for stability looking further ahead as we get more clarity from both geopolitics and the Fed. While we may continue to see an investor flight to safe-haven assets in the near term, we believe buying opportunities are forming, especially if, as we believe, economic and earnings growth continue to hold up well through 2022. 

We recommend using this period of volatility to rebalance, enhance diversification and ultimately add quality investments within portfolios at better valuations, as economic growth remains above trend in the year ahead. 


Mona Mahajan is responsible for developing and communicating the firm's macroeconomic and financial market views. Her background includes equity and fixed income analysis, global investment strategy and portfolio management. She regularly appears on CNBC and Bloomberg TV, and in The Wall Street Journal and Barron's. Mona has a master's in business administration from Harvard Business School and bachelor's degrees in finance and computer science from the Wharton School and the School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Craig Fehr is a principal and the leader of investment strategy for Edward Jones. Craig is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic trends and market conditions, along with constructing investment strategies and and asset allocation guidance designed to help investors reach their financial goals. He has been featured in Barron's, The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, SmartMoney magazine, MarketWatch, the Financial Post, Yahoo! Finance, Bloomberg News, Reuters, CNBC and Investment Executive TV. Craig holds a master's degree in finance from Harvard University, an MBA with an emphasis in economics from Saint Louis University and a graduate certificate in economics from Harvard.

Thursday, February 24, 2022


Could be

Is that the end of the article? 

Not really. 

Pursuing an answer to that question is fodder for many such investigations. 

Maybe wins every time. 

But for the sake of good cheer, the following is an entertaining article, which appeared recently in The Wall Street Journal. 


GUEST BLOG / By Lettie Teague, wine columnist, The Wall Street Journal.
—At the end of recent visit to my gastroenterologist, he handed me a list of prescribed foods. 

“What about wine?” I asked, noting its absence. 

“Red wine is good for you,” he said. 

“And white?” I inquired. 

“White wine is just alcohol,” he replied. 

Many wine drinkers believe that my doctor is right. Indeed, just about every one of the friends whom I surveyed declared that red wine is healthier than white—though few could say why. 

Once again we ask is red wine really more healthful than white wine? 

And is either one truly healthy? The reports indicating the health benefits of red wine are many—and speculative, according to Dr. Andrew Waterhouse, a wine chemist and director of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at the University of California, Davis. 

Dr. Waterhouse further explained that there isn’t really data to support the notion that red wine is more healthy than white. To establish that, Dr. Waterhouse said, it would be necessary to truly separate the two wine types in an independent study. For example, researchers could look at two towns; the citizens of one would drink only red wine and the citizens of the other would drink only white. There would have to be a third town, as well, where the citizens drank neither red nor white, as a control. 

It was an intriguing idea, even if I couldn’t imagine a town whose entire citizenry would willingly give up drinking wine.

On a more serious note, Dr. Waterhouse acknowledged that many studies over the years have seemed to indicate that red wine has certain health benefits thanks to a group of compounds called polyphenols, such as resveratrol, which is believed to have heart-protective qualities. 

White wine contains some resveratrol but less of it than red wine does. 

Red wine also contains compounds white wine does not. “There are many studies which suggest a diet high in polyphenols has health benefits,” said Dr. Waterhouse. “The issue that is not definitive is a direct epidemiological study (a comparison of red wine drinkers vs. non, and their health outcomes) that shows red wine drinkers are healthier.” 

Reports indicating the benefits of red wine are many—and speculative. Dr. Waterhouse flagged two studies that showed modest benefits to drinking alcohol. A 1997 study published in the American Journal of Cardiology took the form of a questionnaire presented over several years to almost 129,000 members of a prepaid health program that included men and women, nondrinkers, light drinkers and heavy drinkers. 

It concluded that “(1) drinking ethyl alcohol apparently protects against coronary disease, and (2) there may be minor additional benefits associated with drinking both beer and wine, but not especially red wine.” 

The second study, published in the American Society for Nutrition in 2007, investigated the cardioprotective potential of both red and white wine among a group of 35 women over two four-week periods (with two four-week breaks or “washout periods”). 

It concluded that moderate wine consumption is cardioprotective because it is “associated with beneficial effects on various inflammatory pathways...” 

WSJ contacted Dr. Erik Skovenborg, a Danish general practitioner and founding member of the Scandinavian Medical Alcohol Board, for his thoughts on the red versus white question. “The problem with the widespread hype of resveratrol is that the many beneficial effects of that particular substance have been found in test tube studies in the lab and studies with animals, fish, etc.,” he wrote in an email. 

Dr. Skovenborg believes that the white wine versus red wine question is also difficult to answer because of “confounding issues like possible lifestyle choices of people preferring white wine versus people preferring red wine.” 

As Dr. Waterhouse noted, there are simply too many variables. 

Dr. Eric Rimm, director of the cardiovascular epidemiology program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has studied alcohol and health for three decades. While many studies seem to show certain health benefits to drinking red wine, he noted, many of those studies lasted just a few weeks or months. “There isn’t any conclusive science that says there is a true benefit of red wine over white,” Dr. Rimm said. “There’s clearly not one right answer. It’s not like asking ‘Should you smoke or not smoke?’” He also pointed out that red wine has considerably fewer polyphenols than, say, dark chocolate or blueberries. Dr. Rimm did turn up a study out of Barcelona, published in 2019, that included 38 men who were 46-77 years old and “at high cardiovascular risk” due to obesity, hypertension, and other factors. They consumed 30 grams of alcohol daily in the form of Andalusian-aged white wine or gin. 

(In the U.S., 14 grams of alcohol is about the average for what is considered a standard drink.) The results suggested some cardioprotective benefit to moderate consumption of Andalusian-aged white wine specifically. 

The study noted that the wine was chosen because it contained polyphenols, the gin because it did not. 

What if it isn’t about polyphenols at all? Dr. Rusty Gaffney, a retired ophthalmologist who has studied wine and health (and writes the newsletter the PinotFile), noted an article that showed white wine drinkers may be overserving themselves. 

According to “Half Full or Empty: Cues that Lead Wine Drinkers to Unintentionally Overpour,” published in 2013 in the journal Substance Use & Misuse, researchers found that, on average, white wine pours were 9.2% more generous than red wine pours. (Other factors associated with larger servings in this study: pouring into a wider glass and holding the glass in the hand as opposed to setting it on a table for the pour.) 

So, do white wine drinkers have a less healthy lifestyle than red wine drinkers? 

Is it a matter of fewer polyphenols, or is there simply a lack of white wine research? 

And if neither white wine nor red wine is particularly “healthy,” does it even matter to most wine drinkers? I wonder how many people really drink wine for its purported health benefits. 

Is it about health or pleasure? 

Let’s just say that my own reasons for drinking wine are very much in line with those of Dr. Rimm. “Maybe the conversation shouldn’t be driven by health but by how it would make your food more flavorful,” he said. “What wine makes it taste better?” Regarding the choice between red and white, Dr. Rimm wisely advised: “Sometimes it’s dictated by dinner.”

Wednesday, February 23, 2022


USModernist's mission is to document all modernist architecture in the nation from the modest to classic residents like (above) the 1946 Kaufman House in Palm Springs, CA, which was designed by Richard Neutra.  Image by Sim Aarons.

Last week, the national AIA granted honorary membership (HAIA) to USModernist's founder, George Smart. Honorary AIA Membership is conferred upon individuals who have made notable contributions to the advancement of the architecture profession but are not otherwise eligible for AIA membership. 

George Smart
Candidates must be nominated by a member of the AIA Board of Directors, Strategic Council, chapter leadership, or Knowledge Communities. USModernist provides donors, volunteers, and advocates the information and organization they require to passionately engage the documentation, preservation, and promotion of residential Modernist architecture. 

USModernist provides documentation for nearly every iconic Modernist house in America. We educate the public to preserve Modernism through our archives, giving millions of people access to the most exciting residential architecture, past and present. 


Tuesday, February 22, 2022


This classic photograph was taken in 1951 by American Gordon Parks, who said “…my favorite thing in Paris, sitting outside people watching…: 

The image, above, is of young Americans stopping for coffee, cake, cokes and cigarettes at Café Colisee after a cine matinee on a Saturday afternoon. 

Gordon Parks
Photo by Alfred Eisenstadt
Gordon Parks, left, moved from his native Fort Scott, Kansas, to Minneapolis in 1928 and became a photographer in 1937 after seeing examples of Farm Security Administration photographs reproduced in a magazine. He was a fashion photographer in Minneapolis and Chicago, before going to Washington, DC and finding work with Roy Stryker at the FSA; he subsequently photographed for the Office of War Information and at the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. Parks worked as a fashion photographer at Vogue beginning in 1944, and when Life hired him as a staff photographer in 1948, he accepted assignments both in fashion and photojournalism. He remained at Life until 1970, producing many of his most important photo essays, such as those on Harlem gangs, segregation in the South, his own experiences with racism; on Flavio da Silva, a poor child living in Brazil; and on Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Black Panthers. Parks's many books include Camera Portraits (1943), A Choice of Weapons (1966), Born Black (1971), Moments Without Proper Names (1975), and Half Past Autumn: A Retrospective (1997). Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at the Art Institute of Chicago, ICP, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. ICP presented Parks with an Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1990. Parks's photographs were among the most effective documents of their era. In several cases, as in that of Flavio da Silva, they moved people to action and changed lives. Parks's photography was only one among many talents; he was also an accomplished musician, composer, poet, novelist, and filmmaker, whose films include Shaft and Leadbelly. Towards the end of his life, Parks experimented with digital imagery and created subjective, abstract color landscapes and still life photographs.

Monday, February 21, 2022


Laura Barquero and Marco Zandron of Spain perform during the figure skating mixed pairs free program during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at Capital Indoor Stadium.  USA TODAY photo. daily online magazine salutes USA TODAY for providing excellent coverage of the 2022 Games in Beijing. 

Close to 100 countries competed at the Winter Olympics in Beijing with nearly 3,000 athletes representing them. A total of 109 events were held in 15 disciplines across seven sports: biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating and skiing. Twelve different venues, split between the zones of Beijing, Zhangjiakou and Yanqing, were used during the 17 days of the Games. 

CLICK HERE for an amazing gallery of Olympic photos by USA TODAY photographers. 

Final Count: 

Sunday, February 20, 2022


Modernism Week poster by Shag. 

Modernism Week’s annual 11-day festival will feature more than 350 events including the Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale, tours of iconic homes in more than 30 neighborhoods, and the popular Signature Home Tour on both weekends. 

Also offered are architectural walking, biking and double-decker bus tours, tours of the historic Annenberg Estate at Sunnylands, a classic car show, garden tours, nightly parties, and a special series of compelling and informative talks. All events are open to the public, and many events are free or low cost. 


Saturday, February 19, 2022


On a coffee break: “Figgins 1961, Johannesburg” by the late photographer Sam Haskins. [Me too-ers, relax, she’s wearing a body suit.] 

“…Sam was a broad ranging commercial freelancer with a diverse portfolio that spanned a ton of industries and many decades. His most famous artwork, Cowboy Kate and Other Stories (1964), is a series of black and white nudes that experimented with form, purposeful film grain, and overexposure. He was also heavily influenced by the imagination and whimsy of the circus. “ –Tim Nguyen. 

Another coffee break by Sam:

Friday, February 18, 2022


U.S. Army infantrymen fighting on Bougainville, in the Solomon Islands, March 1944. (National Archives and Records Administration) 

World War II Memoirs: The Pacific Theater, Library of America’s first release of 2022, brings together the firsthand perspectives of three Americans who came of age fighting in the Pacific and who survived to tell their stories. 

Remarkable literary achievements that capture history with the immediacy of lived experience, all three—With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa, by E. B. Sledge; Flights of Passage: Reflections of a World War II Aviator, by Samuel Hynes; and Crossing the Line: A Bluejacket’s Odyssey in World War II, by Alvin Kernan—are classics of the modern literature of war. 

Editor of this new compilation is Elizabeth D. Samet, professor of English at the United States Military Academy at West Point and the author of Willing Obedience: Citizens, Soldiers, and the Progress of Consent in America, 1776–1898; Soldier’s Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point; and No Man’s Land: Preparing for War and Peace in Post-9/11 America

Samet’s most recent title, published in the fall of 2021, is Looking for the Good War: American Amnesia and the Violent Pursuit of Happiness


Thursday, February 17, 2022


Shelby's, a gem of a restaurant in Orinda, California

GUEST BLOG / By Holden DeMayo, Editor, I was a kid our family didn’t have a lot of disposable income to dine at higher end restaurants, but my parents were picky about where we did dine. They avoided both the expensive as well as the greasy spoons. We dined those places that offered a thrifty menu but also had a personality and for the most part good American comfort food. 

Albeit a chain, one of my dad’s favorites was Du-Pars in the Original Farmer’s Market/Wilshire Corridor part of Los Angeles. I loved Du-Pars, especially the pies. They served good food and good prices. They didn’t pretend to be more than they were. 

Far more recent, my wife and I discovered Shelby’s, a northern California contemporary cafe with a French accent.  We were sightseeing in the village of Orinda, a Norman Rockwell suburb east of San Francisco, when we came upon a welcoming café with nice lighting and artistic decor. It reminded me a lot of Du-Pars. 

Located by the historic Orinda Movie Theater in the center of Theatre Square next to a fitness studio, Shelby’s was at the opposite end of another eatery jammed with bicycle and Tesla loving locals. 

Happy to be tourists, we picked Shelby’s at random for a Saturday lunch. Staff turned out to be friendly and not in a phony way. We relaxed and watched kids jam the ice cream parlor across the street. We were glad the locals didn’t swamp our new find. 

Our order took a bit longer than we expected, but we were not in a hurry. Our patience paid off. My BLT salad and her Belgian Waffle with mango and blueberries arrived well presented. This kitchen is experienced and the flavorful fare delighted us enough to wish to share it with you. My BLT was served with delicious and very fresh arugula and a large serving of avocado. I’d say the entire avocado greeted me this day. Seeing how well the food was presented overcame my concern over the longer wait. The bacon was three slices cut in inch long cuts and accompanied with half an tomato sliced in quarters. A delicious homemade salad dressing was the prize. 

Belgian Waffle with mango and blueberries

The waffle was a bit thin (unlike attached photo) for being Belgian but it tasted great. No skimping on the maple syrup and the fruit was fresh no limp servings. 

Shelby’s also serves alcoholic beverages but we added calories by sharing a side of frittes instead of booze. 

Fair prices and a flair for presenting delicious food is what we will remember about our lunch in faraway Orinda. 

If you click here for its website you’ll see the menu and read all about the chef behind this village delight. 

Here’s what the website said about the chef Arno Kober and his kitchen staff:

“…Our food is serious, but we want people to have a good time with it." A native of Germany, our Chef began his culinary career at a very young age. He served as an apprentice in Stuttgart in Southern Germany at the French Restaurant Soerenberg. 

After four years and completing his studies in the kitchen, he then relocated to Rudesheim on the Rhine River where he served as Commis de Cuisine in the upscale Hotel Traube. 

Continuing on his culinary journey, he then served as Commis De Cuisine at Hotel St. Raphael and Chef de Cuisine at Borchers Restaurant both located in Hamburg, Germany. 

 In 1994, our Chef relocated to Oaxaca, Mexico to work at the Hotel Victoria as Sous Chef. 

Two years later, he moved to California and served as Personal Chef for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. After working with the Railroad, our Chef took trips around the U.S to explore the flavors of New Orleans, Miami, Los Angeles, Utah and Orlando. His experiences in Mexico and throughout the U.S. brought multicultural flare to his cuisine. 

He then settled in Oakland, California and served as Chef de Partie at the Waterfront Plaza Hotel at Jack London Square. 

Caesar and Shrimp salad worth the trip

In 2005, our Chef partnered with two friends and took over the Shelby's Restaurant in Orinda, California which became a destination restaurant known for its innovative, compelling cuisine. The restaurant features his French influenced Contemporary California cuisine presented in a pleasant space. 

It's all about the presentation: French lamb shoulder

Wednesday, February 16, 2022


View of the restored auditorium with its redone horseshoe-shaped curve.

Modern times have seen yet another rebirth of the ancient (first built 1635) Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London’s West End. The recent (2021) incarnation celebrates one of the longest-standing places in the UK and is now the largest and thoroughly functional and detailed Georgian Theatre in the realm. 


Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber, the icon composer and impresario of musical theatre is the “Lane’s” present owner and chief among those leading its restoration. Lloyd-Webber owns seven London theatres, including Adelphi, Cambridge, Gillian Lynne, Her Majesty’s Theatre, London Palladium, The Other Palace, and as mentioned Theatre Royal Drury Lane. 

Lloyd-Webber purchased the acclaimed theatre on Catherine Street in 2000. The Lane’s amazing history includes being renowned for its spectacular Victorian melodramas and pantomimes but since the 1920s its history has mirrored the development of the modern musical. From the original London productions of American musicals Rose Marie, The Desert Song and Show Boat, through Ivor Novello’s romantic operettas and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s groundbreaking post-war shows to The Producers and The Lord of the Rings. My Fair Lady held the record as the theatres longest run for many years but Cameron Mackintosh’s record breaking production of Miss Saigon, at ten years, is the current record holder.


The new Saloon
Russell Street Entry.

for a remarkable Dezeen Magazine article on the design and construction elements of the joyous refurbishment of this venerable theatre.

The massive stage and reinforced fly now can hold two London double decker
buses if ever needed.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022


Just one of the beautiful hills in Paris.
Photo by John Heseltine. 
 This week’s photo essay follows a simple theme: All things uphill. No rhyme or reason just great images: 

Angel Flight Funicular in downtown Los Angeles opened on the last day of 1901 and after being renovated is open for business. 

 Mayan Pyramid of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza, Mexico. 

Spanish Steps (1723 and refurbished in 2016) in Rome as seen from Piazza della Spagna and the Fontana della Barcaccia.Cream colored building at far right housed an apartment once rented by poet John Keats. 

One of Lisbon’s famous seven hills. 

Lass in Scotland 

San Francisco cable car climbs Hyde Street Hill.
Painting by Brian Blood. 

The Pittsburgh PA Duquesne Incline, a funicular built in 1870 continues to operate. 

Hill near Canberra, Australia. Note 1930s Vauxhall.
Photo by Frank Hurley. 

French Countryside

Full nude, half dome

Charge of the U.S. Army Rough Riders at San Juan Hill, Cuba during the Spanish American War, 1898.  Painting by Frederic Remington.

Monday, February 14, 2022


Political cartoon by Paresh Nath, The Khaleej Times (Dubai).

GUEST BLOG / By Associated Press journalists Brian Carovillano and Ted Anthony with AP journalists Dasha Litvinova and Anatoly Kozlov in Moscow, Eric Tucker and Lisa Mascaro in Washington, and James Ellingworth, in Beijing, who all contributed to this report.

Be it sports, politics, hacking or war, the recent history of Russia’s relationship with the world can be summed up in one phrase: They get away with it. 

Vladimir Putin’s Russia, an in-your-face authoritarian regime, has perfected the art of flouting the rules, whether the venue is the Olympic arena, international diplomacy or meddling in other countries’ elections from the comfort of home. 

And it has suffered little consequence for its actions. 

At the Beijing Winter Olympics, Russia the country isn’t here — technically. Its athletes are competing under the acronym ROC, for Russian Olympic Committee, for the second time. The national colors and flag are banned because of a massive state-sponsored doping operation that goes back to the 2014 Sochi Games, which Russia hosted. 

And yet the 2022 Games’ first major scandal has managed to involve a 15-year-old figure skater who has tested positive for using a banned heart medication that may cost her Russia-but-not-really-Russia team a gold medal in team competition. 

Her provisional suspension, like the so-called ban on Russia’s official participation in these Games, didn’t do much. Kamila Valieva continues to train even as her final disposition is considered, and she may yet compete in the women’s individual competition, in which she is favored. 

Those who have watched the country’s interactions with others in recent decades aren’t entirely surprised at the developments. “In Russia, the culture is generally that the ends justify the means, and the only thing that matters is the outcome,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, the chairman of the Silverado Policy Accelerator think tank, who grew up in the former Soviet Union. 

Doping in particular has been a longstanding tradition in the Soviet Union and Russia, Alperovitch said. 

But Putin frequently operates with impunity in other arenas, including when the stakes are much higher than bronze, silver and gold. More than 100,000 Russian troops are currently massed along the Ukrainian border preparing for a possible invasion. 

Despite weeks of diplomacy, Putin still seems to hold all the cards, pushing Europe to the brink of war and prompting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to call this the continent’s “most dangerous moment” in decades. Many have accused the Russian government of dabbling in poisoning with little consequence. Among those poisoned after criticizing the Kremlin: investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who fell severely ill after drinking a cup of tea in 2004 and recovered, only to be shot to death two years later; and Russian opposition politician and vocal Putin critic Alexei Navalny, who fell gravely ill from poison in 2020. He recovered and is currently in a Russian prison. Neither poisoning was explicitly linked to the Russian government. 

Putin’s efforts to upend U.S. elections included hacking the Democratic National Committee in 2016 in an effort to aid then-candidate Donald Trump and damage his rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. federal investigations showed. 

Russian government hackers were also blamed last year for a massive hacking campaign that breached vital federal agencies. 

The current Ukraine standoff isn’t the first time Russian militarism has threatened to upend the so-called “Olympic truce,” an agreement among nations to set aside their conflicts during the Games. 

In 2014, while hosting the Sochi Olympics, Putin seized control of the Crimean peninsula and its strategic Black Sea ports from Ukraine. And during the 2008 Summer Olympics, also held in Beijing, Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two breakaway regions of neighboring Georgia, as independent nations and bolstered its military foothold there following a five-day war. 

Economic sanctions and other punishments imposed by the United States and its allies after various Russian transgressions seem to have had little effect as a deterrent against future bad behavior by Putin. In 2020, the U.S. Justice Department charged six current and former Russian intelligence officers in a hacking campaign targeting the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. 

They were accused of unleashing a devastating malicious software attack during the opening ceremony of those Games, in apparent retaliation for the IOC’s decision to ban Russia from future Games for doping. 

“Time and again, Russia has made it clear: They will not abide by accepted norms, and instead, they intend to continue their destructive, destabilizing cyber behavior,” then-FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said at the time the indictment was announced. 

And time and again, Russia presses on unchastened. So there was Putin last Friday, waving from his luxury box to Russian athletes entering Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium during the Games’ opening ceremony. Even though it is banned on Russian uniforms at these Games, Russian flags waved in the stands as the ROC men’s hockey team, clad in their traditional red, shut out Switzerland in their inaugural match. 

“I don’t know why the Russians are competing as they are given their history of doping,” said Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who helmed the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. “I think it is a huge mistake.” Russian athletes’ involvement in the Games, Romney said, “is something which I think is leaving a great stain on the Olympic movement.” 

Back home, Valieva’s positive test has been met with outrage, fueling a sense that when it comes to sports, politics and international relations, it’s Russia vs. the world. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the scandal has been fueled by “those who did not have the appropriate information.” 

And other prominent Russian skaters, including Tatiana Navka, former Olympic ice-dancing gold medalist and Peskov’s wife, spoke out in support of Valieva. 

“This is some kind of a fake,” said Russia’s top figure skating coach, Tatiana Tarasova. “She’s only 15, what do you mean doping?” 

Ordinary Russians questioned the allegations as well. Nikolai Stashenkov, 88, blamed the scandal on the “impudence of European and Western politicians.” “This is not nice,” he said. “This is not sport. This is dirty politics.” 

Politics were also to blame, according to Russian officials, in the doping scandal that resulted in a reduced squad of Russian athletes being allowed to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. “This has become one of the most compelling evidence of direct political interference in sports,” Putin would later say in a meeting with Russian Paralympians. Polling has shown the tactic is working with the Russian public. 

A 2016 poll by the Levada Center, Russia’s top independent pollster, showed 76% of Russians viewed the decision to bar the Russian track and field team from the Rio Olympics as “politicized” and “aimed at discrediting Russia.” 

But Russia has often done an able job of discrediting itself. 

 For the Sochi Games in 2014, Russian medal contenders handed over samples of clean urine months in advance before taking a cocktail of steroids dissolved in alcohol, according to Grigory Rodchenkov, then the director of the drug-testing lab for the Games. He later fled to the United States. 

During the Olympics, Rodchenkov said he swapped out samples via a hole in the wall of the laboratory to a person from the Russian security services who opened the urine sample bottles and replaced the contents with the stored, clean urine. Russia has admitted some individual lapses on doping, but strenuously denies it formed part of an organized program or that the Russian state supported doping. 

In Beijing today, events are moving fast. At deadline, urgent hearings are being convened about Valieva, and lots of officials are saying lots of things behind lots of closed doors. It remains to be seen whether her case becomes a new chapter in Russia’s twin track records of operating with impunity in both sport and geopolitics, or a footnote to the rise of another Olympic superstar. 

Either way, Alperovitch, who is also the co-founder and former chief technology officer of the CrowdStrike cybersecurity firm, sees all of it as of a piece — evidence of a facet of Russian culture that prizes outcomes above everything else and will do what it takes to achieve them. “The thing in Russia is that cheating is acceptable if you don’t get caught,” Alperovitch said. “Shame on you if you do. 

But if you think you can get away with it, go for it.” 

Sunday, February 13, 2022



A Novel By Kerri Maher. 

 This article first appeared in Click here. 

When bookish young American Sylvia Beach opens Shakespeare and Company on a quiet street in Paris in 1919, she has no idea that she and her new bookstore will change the course of literature itself. 

Shakespeare and Company is more than a bookstore and lending library: Many of the prominent writers of the Lost Generation, like Ernest Hemingway, consider it a second home. It's where some of the most important literary friendships of the twentieth century are forged—none more so than the one between Irish writer James Joyce and Sylvia herself. 

When Joyce's controversial novel Ulysses is banned, Beach takes a massive risk and publishes it under the auspices of Shakespeare and Company. 

But the success and notoriety of publishing the most infamous and influential book of the century comes with steep costs. The future of her beloved store itself is threatened when Ulysses' success brings other publishers to woo Joyce away. Her most cherished relationships are put to the test as Paris is plunged deeper into the Depression and many expatriate friends return to America. 

As she faces painful personal and financial crises, Sylvia—a woman who has made it her mission to honor the life-changing impact of books—must decide what Shakespeare and Company truly means to her. 

About the Author 

Kerri Maher is the author of The Girl in White Gloves, The Kennedy Debutante, and, under the name Kerri Majors, This Is Not a Writing Manual: Notes for the Young Writer in the Real World. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and was a writing professor for many years. She now writes full-time and lives with her daughter and dog in a leafy suburb west of Boston, Massachusetts.