Category Archives: A blogger’s musings

And we’re officially on hiatus for a week. . .


Or maybe more.

We’re moving this weekend, and there’s lots to be done.

From Berkeley to Gardena, what a move.

We’ve made some good friends here in Berkeley, and we’ll miss them, but in Southern California we’ll have a two kids and a granddaughter close by.

Once we’ve got a new Internet connection, we’ll be back up and running, though posting will be slow as we get settled in.

Oh. We may add an occasional posts during the remainder of the week as we pause for a breather, but don’t count on it.

Meanwhile, enjoy the show!

Well make the rest of our signoff graphic:

First, from the Sacramento Bee:

Jack Ohman: Give him a small hand. . .

BLOG B Ohman
Next, from the Arizona Republic:

Steve Benson: Donald Trump’s teapology

BLOG B Benson
We give equal time, first with the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Steve Sack: The Hillary Clinton stash

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And from the Indianapolis Star:

Gary Varvel: Clinton Foundation money

BLOG B VarvelAnd finally, the show must go on, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Mike Luckovich: Faux

BLOG B Lucko

Destructive ‘afterslip’ followed Napa earthquake


And free books, too

We’ll begin with the free books.

We were once buried in books.

It was at 0136 hours on 3 September 2000 and we were sitting in our recliner in the livingroom of our apartment in Napa California when the lights went out and we were pummeled repeatedly by invisible assailants.

It was a magnitude 5.2 earthquake, and our assailants were books, an avalanche vomited forth by falling and collapsing bookcases.

We’re moving this weekend, and we again are buried in books, too many to carry south to L.A., so every day this week we’re putting lots of them out on the media between sidewalk and street, free for one and all.

The address is 2032 Prince Street in Berkeley [one house south of Shattuck Avenue between the Starry Plow and the Ashby BART station], and subjects range for brain/mind science to history, science, biography, media, and much more.

Fresh offerings daily through Saturday.

And the afterslips from another Napa quake

A map shows the location of the August 24, 2014 earthquake just south of Napa, California. In a new report, scientists from MIT and elsewhere detail how, even after the earthquake’s main tremors and aftershocks died down, earth beneath the surface was still actively shifting and creeping — albeit much more slowly — for at least four weeks after the main event. Image: Gareth Funning/University of California, Riverside

A map shows the location of the August 24, 2014 earthquake just south of Napa, California. In a new report, scientists from MIT and elsewhere detail how, even after the earthquake’s main tremors and aftershocks died down, earth beneath the surface was still actively shifting and creeping — albeit much more slowly — for at least four weeks after the main event.
Image: Gareth Funning/University of California, Riverside

A fascinating story from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

Nearly two years ago, on August 24, 2014, just south of Napa, California, a fault in the Earth suddenly slipped, violently shifting and splitting huge blocks of solid rock, 6 miles below the surface. The underground upheaval generated severe shaking at the surface, lasting 10 to 20 seconds. When the shaking subsided, the magnitude 6.0 earthquake — the largest in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1989 — left in its wake crumpled building facades, ruptured water mains, and fractured roadways.

But the earthquake wasn’t quite done. In a new report, scientists from MIT and elsewhere detail how, even after the earthquake’s main tremors and aftershocks died down, earth beneath the surface was still actively shifting and creeping — albeit much more slowly — for at least four weeks after the main event. This postquake activity, which is known to geologists as “afterslip,” caused certain sections of the main fault to shift by as much as 40 centimeters in the month following the main earthquake.

This seismic creep, the scientists say, may have posed additional infrastructure hazards to the region and changed the seismic picture of surrounding faults, easing stress along some faults while increasing pressure along others.

The scientists, led by Michael Floyd, a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, found that sections of the main West Napa Fault continued to slip after the primary earthquake, depending on the lithology, or rock type, surrounding the fault. The fault tended to only shift during the main earthquake in places where it ran through solid rock, such as mountains and hills; in places with looser sediments, like mud and sand, the fault continued to slowly creep, for at least four weeks, at a rate of a few centimeters per day.

“We found that after the earthquake, there was a lot of slip that happened at the surface,” Floyd says. “One of the most fascinating things about this phenomenon is it shows you how much hazard remains after the shaking has stopped. If you have infrastructure running across these faults — water pipelines, gas lines, roads, underground electric cables — and if there’s this significant afterslip, those kinds of things could be damaged even after the shaking has stopped.”

There’s lots more, after the jump. . .

Continue reading

esnl becomes a septuagenarian. Godfrey Daniel!


For those who might not recognize those last two words, they were employed by the late, great comedian W.C. Fields to elude the film censors of his day, who wouldn’t allowed the words “God damn!” to be uttered from the silver screen.

esnl, left, was feted by good friends from UC Berkeley, Ignacio Chapela, center, and Gray Brechin, right, and Chapela’s family for a delightful evening of great food, good wine, and delightful companionship.

UPDATE: We had an extra cause for celebration, since it was only four years ago our oncologist told us we have only a 17 percent chance of making it this far. . .

29 July 2016, PanasonicDMC-ZS19, 4.3 mm, 1/60 sec., f3.3, ISO 160

29 July 2016, PanasonicDMC-ZS19, 4.3 mm, 1/60 sec., f3.3, ISO 160

Repost: Our two most popular photo posts


For some odd reason, of the many of our own photographs we’ve posted, two images draw esnl readers back time and again, so we decided to repost both.

Our first and most popular image was original posted 19 January 2012, along with an essay:

The view from the gunfighter’s seat

Nikon D300 16 January 2011, 20mm, 1/250 sec, f4.5

Nikon D300 16 January 2011, 20mm, 1/250 sec, f4.5

Two phrases from the days of the Old West still resonate in modern speech. The first, of course is “Shotgun!,” the call made when claiming the front seat next to the driver.

The term originates from the days when folks traveled by stagecoach. When passing through dangerous country or when the stage contained a valuable cargo, an armed, shotgun-toting guard as assigned to sit up top on the bench beside the driver.

The other term, less well known, is “the gunfighter’s seat.” It’s the chair in the corner of the room farthest from and facing the door. Its name comes from its preference by ever-vigilant armed men who lived in daily expectation of violent confrontations with other armed men.

Sitting in the gunfighter’s seat gives a panoramic view of everyone in and entering the room.

We snapped this shot the other day while waiting for a friend at a local tavern. The Stetson belongs to esnl. Appropriate to our theme, it’s the Gun Club model.

Back in the 1970s, we had a friend who’d been a Los Angeles Police officer before signing up with the Central Intelligence Agency, then retiring to take a job in private security in the corporate sector.

We took him to a nice little French restaurant in Santa Monica, and planted our posterior in the gunfighter’s seat, which left him, the former cop and spook, seated facing the corner of the room.

We talked a few minutes, and then he stopped. His eyes lit up, followed by a grin, then a quick shake of his head. Then he fixed me with a bemused smile and intense gaze, followed by a laugh as he shook his head again.

“Brenneman, you son of a bitch, you did it on purpose!” He didn’t have to say what “it” was. I’d put him in the one seat in a crowded room certain to make to make him the most uncomfortable.

I smiled. He nodded.

We’ve always picked the gunfighter’s seat, a lesson our children quickly learned, sometimes to our disadvantage, as when they prankishly plant themselves in our chair of preference, forcing us into the blind seat because they know it’ll bug us, just as it did our ex-spook friend so many years before.

The journalist and the gunfighter

In many ways, the mindset of a journalist shares many traits with the gunfighter of yore, most particularly a peculiar sort of hypervigilance, attuned to changes and anomalies in the environment.

Because of our life circumstances, we’re particularly attuned to environmental changes and out-of-the-ordinary events.

We’d like to think that we turned what might have been a handicap into an asset, as is the case of many of the best journalists we’ve met during the course of the decades we spent behind first a lens and a typewriter, and later, a lens and a word processor [what an infelicitous pair of words].

Some of the best journalists are misfits. Why else would smart, perceptive people work at a craft where they earn much less than they might had they opted for law, medicine, business, or countless other “careers”? We suspect a lot of good reporters heard the same phrase we heard from our mother more than once: “Why a reporter? You could’ve been a doctor!”

Journalism, at least for us, is a calling, an engagement with the world that evokes the fullest possible use of our abilities, knowledge, and experience, turning an innate and potentially enervating vigilance into a positive force engaged, hopefully, for the benefit of the larger community.

But such is life in the Gunfighter’s Seat.

And the second image, originally posted 18 January 2012. . .

Isle of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice

Shot from the Bridge of Sighs [Ponte dei Sospiri] on a cloudy summer day. Folks aren’t supposed to take cameras into the Doge’s Palace, but the staff was gracious enough to let me take my camera so long as I didn’t shoot interiors. Lord Byron gave it a name, poetically describing the last gasps of prisoners marched through its artful enclosure to the prison across the canal.The church with the dome and spectacular Romanesque facade is Andrea Palladio’s 16th Century Church of San Giorgio Maggiore.

To see the photo full size, go to the original post and click on the image, since WordPress no longer offers that option on newer posts:

29 August 2006, Nikon D70, 38mm, ISO 320, 1/2000 sec, f4.2

29 August 2006, Nikon D70, 38mm, ISO 320, 1/2000 sec, f4.2

Here’s a romantic addition to the original post from the Wikipedia entry on the bridge:

The enclosed bridge is made of white limestone and has windows with stone bars. It passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the New Prison (Prigioni Nuove) to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. It was designed by Antonio Contino (whose uncle Antonio da Ponte had designed the Rialto Bridge) and was built in 1600.

The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment. The bridge name, given by Lord Byron as a translation from the Italian “Ponte dei sospiri” in the 19th century, comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells. In reality, the days of inquisitions and summary executions were over by the time the bridge was built and the cells under the palace roof were occupied mostly by small-time criminals. In addition, little could be seen from inside the Bridge due to the stone grills covering the windows.

A local legend says that lovers will be granted eternal love and bliss if they kiss on a gondola at sunset under the Bridge of Sighs as the bells of St Mark’s Campanile toll.

Intermittent posting back on the agenda


Our move has been delayed for a month, but there’s much packing to do, so we’ll be posting on a much reduced basis over the next few weeks.

That’s it. We’re officially on a brief hiatus. . .


This will be our last post until we get settled in our new digs in Los Angeles. Or maybe Redondo Beach. Or wherever.

We hope to be back up in a week or so, but until then, a little something for your amusement from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert:

Hungry For Power Games: Democratic National Convention Edition

Program notes:

Julius Flickerman and his pet weasel Caligula are back, descending into the belly of the beast to report from the DNC in Philadelphia.

We’re saying adios to Berkeley, gentrification wins


We can no longer afford to live in Berkeley, after our rent was jacked up by $800 a month.

We hate to leave the San Francisco Bay Area, which has the best climate we’ve ever experienced. but we’ve been gentrified out.

Our own neighborhood used to be mainly African American, but it’s now a haven for Anglo professionals, a phenomenon that’s happening throughout the region, recently named as the country’s most expensive place to live..

So we’re headed to Torrance in Southern California, where two kids and a grandkid live, and two bedrooms in a home in Torrance where our younger son and his spouse live.

We’ll be leaving behind the best friends we’ve ever had, the kind of friends who’ll stick by you when times get rough.

We’ll keep posting here at esnl, though infrequently till the move is over.

We’ll keep you updated.