Trip to Frankfurt, the Cologne Cathedral, and the Adriatic Coast of Italy
Frankfurt Book Fair
We barely finished HOME WORK, and I caught a plane to Frankfurt. I go to the Fair each year and time it so I arrive on a Monday so I can rest on Tuesday before the fair opens on Wednesday. This year instead of resting on Tuesday, I caught the high speed train from Frankfurt to Cologne to see the huge cathedral, the Dom. Ive wanted to see it for years. I got up early and went flying through the countryside at 195 mph to Cologne. There was a 4x8 ft. picture window, the passenger compartment is slickly designed, and the towns and churches,the fields and woods flashed by. Sure a relief from cramped airplane seating.
The cathedral is right next to the train station, it looks so weird coming into the city, with this magnificent building from the middle ages right next to the electric trains like a bizarre special effects scene. Its 515' feet tall (to give you some perspective, the Golden Gate Bridge is 690 feet tall from top of towers to water); it was built over a 600-year period (1248-1880) and it survived 14 Allied bombing raids in WWII. I walked up the narrow circular staircase to the top, 520 well-worn steps, stepped out on the deck, and looked. down on the city. Its awesome to realize that this structure was built by hand, with stone and mortar. The stone masons of the middle ages they dont make em like that any more. A young woman was on her knees in one of the pews, looking up at a stained glass window, tears streaming down her face.
The cathedral in Cologne
Foreign Versions of HOME WORK
We have already signed a contract with World Photo Press in Tokyo to do the Japanese version, and it looks like it will also be translated into Spanish. Our agents in Germany, Italy, and France will be looking for publishers in those countries once the book is out. It obviously wont get translated into as many languages as our fitness books (STRETCHING is in 29 languages), since its so expensive to translate and print a 4-color book like this.
Getting Out of Shape
Youd think Id have known better Id been producing fitness books for 20 years, and hanging out with professional athletes and fitness gurus but during the last year of doing HOME WORK, with all the stress and long hours, I cut way down on working out. Ran only once a week, surfed infrequently, stretched seldom. I got stiff and stiffer (dumb and dumber) and just felt mildly krappy. When I got back from Europe, with all the sitting and plane travel, my neck and shoulder hurt so much it was painful to walk. WAKE-UP CALL! After 2 weeks of deep tissue massage and stretching every night, the pain disappeared, and Im back to running 3 times a week and do I feel better! The worst culprit in all this is the computer, which encourages what Bob Anderson calls creeping rigor mortis. Youre sitting stock-still most of the time and that aint good. Balancing all this sitting-still time with a steady dose of exercise keeps the chi flowing. Use it or lose it, so true.
I have a bunch of exercise devices in the office: a pair of 20 lb.dumbells, a 3/4 pipe chin-up bar that I can reach up to from where I stand at the Mac. A pair of tubular elastic straps for arm exercises, a thump-thunmp-thump vibrating massager, various of Bob Andersons body tools, and a Back Revolution, a device for hanging upside down from your hips that I keep just outside the door; I usually hang in it while waiting for QuarkXpress to take forever to open.
Plus I just got a great machine for upper body training, the Vasa Trainer. Surfers can keep in shape for serious paddling at home; swimmers can gain strength that will help in the water. Its an elegant device, can be used for a variety of exercises and stretches, but excels at swimming and paddling training. Costs about $700: http://vasatrainer.com/
Spam Spam Spam
We were up to 2000 spams a day. (Having a website invites a lot of them.) We have a pretty good filtering system, but it takes hours to download. In the last few weeks our server, NetNation has started using SpamCop, and its cut it down to maybe 700 per day. BTW, Eudora (5.1) is a marvelous email program, way better than anything from Microsoft. I do more filing in my Eudora mailboxes these days than I do in file folders. The entire program is extremely well thought-out.
You can use Google to look up words on the web. Type in dictionary, followed by a colon, no space, and the word, i.e. dictionary:iterate and voilá, you get a choice of dictionaries with the definition of iterate.
This is the end of the publishing stuff. The rest is the extracurricular and fun stuff and should not be read while you are at work.
Low-cost Airlines in Europe
From Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door, I learned that there are half a dozen or so low-cost inter-European-citty airlines. RyanAir is the largest, and I got a round trip from Frankfurt to Pescara, Italy for about $100. Other flights are ridiculously cheap. Like London (Stansted) to Rome is 9.99 Euros. These are ultra non-frill flights, and the airports are usually a ways out from the big cities.
Each year I try to go somewhere in Europe after Frankfurt and this time it was to the little-known area of Abruzzo, on the Adriatic Sea east of Rome. I travelled in trains and busses up and down the coast, between Pescara and Tremboli, and rented a car for 2 days to explore the hill towns.
These fishing shacks, called trabocchi, are along this stretch of the Adriatic, and are ancient in origin.
An old Fiat beauty. Similar in economy and efficiency to Englands Mini of the 60s
Smart Car, an accurate appellation for this intelligently designed little car by Mercedes. This one in front of a slate-covered half-timber building in Bad Homburg, Germany
A closer look at the building behind the car shows a witty face created out of slate shingles
In Vasto I stayed in hotel with view from up high/open balcony doors to stormy Adriatic which is about the same size as Gulf of Cortez. Great fish meal there, Italians dont use menus, they have intricate conversations with the waiter, they may take 10 minutes to decide what theyre going to have.
Italy is incredibly fertile. Everybody has olive trees. In this area the grapes were staked so they formed a solid canopy and the grape pickers work underneath in the shade. They were harvesting when I was there, I picked some grapes from a field and ate them, chewing and spitting out the seed and skin so it was like fresh grape juice. The soil is loamy, its been cultivated for 1000s of years.
Bad Day at Black Rock
There are down sides to travel. It started with the only bad meal Ive ever had in Italy. I should have known, since there was no one else in the restaurant. The next morning I caught the twin-hulled ferry from the port of Tremboli to the Tremeti Islands, since I have a thing for islands and beaches. We left Tremboli at 9 AM and the sea was ROUGH. Wham, wham, the front of the boat kept going airborne and smashing down on the water. Barf! Well, almost. When I got (woozily) out to the islands, they were pretty much deserted, the summer snorkeling crowds long gone and I spent a very weird and lonely day wandering around. Couldnt find any food, slept on the beach a while, disconsolately caught the ferry back that afternoon. Oh well.
A lot of this kind of unplanned travel sucks, like being on foot in a city with too much ground to cover amidst exhaust and fumes, but its seeing new sights, going down roads never seen, that keep me going back out there. I felt smug this time: I was going to an out-of-the-way area, few tourists, where Lonely Planet or Rick Steves had not been . . . well, I found out that this doesnt always work out, that unless you have the time to float around free-form for a month or two, the guide books are indeed valuable.
Backpack With Wheels
Wish Id had one of these years before. From REI. Its a great backsaver anywhere there is pavement or sidewalks, and it fits in an airline compartment.
Our Governator and Worse
How embarrassing to be asked by my European friends about Arnold. Ive always been proud of being a native Californian even if were perceived as being a little, uh, intellectually challenged. (Hey, we can surf!) How could people be so manipulated by the entertainment industry and big biz? The state where Hollywood rules. Voters who cant tell the difference between make-believe and reality. Like Nancy Pelosi said, I had a nightmare that Arnold was elected governor, and I woke up and it was true. Recently the gov proposed 2 billion $ in cuts, reducing care for the elderly and shut-ins, keeping children from enrolling in basic health plans, and reducing fees for doctors treating the poor. And lets not get started on whats going on with our (non-elected) national leader and his old-consciousness thug buddies. Lawrence Felinghetti recently said that his Italian friends tell him that whats going on in America right now reminds them of the early days of MNussolinis fascism in Italy in the 1920s.
Kevin Kelly continues with his weekly emails of useful stuff. Cool Tools is the 21st century Whole Earth Catalog. To check it out and/or subscribe (its free):
Being around my friend Sherm, whos in a wheelchair with a spinal disconnect and Parkinsons, has taught me something. Even when hes shaking and cant talk, his brain is receiving input clearly. (I check this out with him every once in a while, just to be sure.) Its made me rethink handicapped people, like the people in wheelchairs in Berkeley. People with Parkinsons, MS, Lou Gerhigs disease, and certain other maladies, are receiving information clearly, even though the output isnt working. It must be terribly frustrating. Like Sherm said to me one day, Yeah, they treat you like an idiot. I look at people in wheelchairs or those that have some kind of physical disconnect entirely differently these days.
I took violin lessons for 7 years as a kid, but quit in high school because it wasnt cool. One day recently I wandered into a music shop in SFO and picked up a used violin and found to my amazement that I could still play. I bought it for $200, and some bluegrass music and Irish jigs, went home and excitedly started playing. I was thrilled that, after over 50 years, my fingers knew where to go. I downloaded a simple Bach choral and a Vivaldi Concerto they must have been written for kids. But gol darn it if I couldnt play them! Not perfectly, but serviceably. The Irish jigs and hornpipes were easy (havent I done this in a past life?). Two of my three sons are musicians and they were faintly surprised and mildly amused. One day I took the violin over to my Moms, who is 95 and said, Mom, I want to thank you for the violin lessons, and played her some classical music, then Irish jigs and then finished by playing Hold Me, a 20s ballad that had been her and my Dads song. (She cried.) Lately Ive been taking along my ukulele and we sing songs from the 20s and 30s; Im getting her to sing harmony.
We had a record-setting hot late summer/early fall. Big corn crop, lots of raspberries. Right now we have a nice winter garden of salad greens, broccoli, purple kale, artichokes, peas. Using a borrowed apple press we pressed 3-4 gallons of apple juice this year. Am experimenting with making hard cider, using champagne yeast. In looking into the subject, I learned that Johnny Appleseed was actually planting cider apples, and that cider was THE drink of American pioneers and homesteaders, before refrigeration, and used in all kinds of recipes. After getting cider figured out, Im going to try distilling it into Calvados (applejack).
Ohlone Art in Mission Dolores
Last week I was wandering in SFOs Mission district and shot this pic of the ceiling of Mission Dolores, built in 1791. The original redwood logs are still in place, lashed together with rawhide. Although the ceiling has been repainted, it is a copy of the original Ohlone (pre-whiteman San Francisco natives) design made with vegetable dyes.
Back On the Road & the Wild Kingdom
OK, so runnings an addiction. Every runner knows what I mean. You get used to that endorphin-charged well-being, everything is circulating from head to toe, plus you are HUNGRY and eat with great zest (and burn it up). Nothing points this out like quitting and then coming back. Im working my way up to keeping up with the guys I run with each Tuesday night, so lately when we all take off, I split off at a certain point and run on my own, more slowly. A few weeks ago I was going up a fire road, halogen headlight on, and there were these tiny owls by the side of the road ((obviously looking for mice) and as the light passed over them, theyd flutter up in the air and fly to a higher part of the road. About 8 high, so as I went up the hill, there were these intermittent fluttering baby-sized owls. Cute! Later that night I came real close to a doe and her fawn, they let me get pretty close, and when I shined the light on them their eyes glowed a brilliant green. As you pass deer, they rotate their heads, with antenna-like ears, to keep you squarely in focus, I think theyve got 350 degree neck rotation capability. About 4 hours ago, I was running in the nearby hills and saw a big (about 48 long) bobcat, tawny colored with dark spots, gliding across the field, followed by a smaller one.
Powers of 10
View the Milky Way at 10 million light years from the Earth. Then move through space towards the Earth in successive orders of magnitude until you reach a tall oak tree just outside the buildings of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida. After that, begin to move from the actual size of a leaf into a microscopic world that reveals leaf cell walls, the cell nucleus, chromatin, DNA and finally, into the subatomic universe of electrons and protons.
Skateboarding For Uh, Older Guys
Porcinis. Wild Duck, and Red Wine
Last week I took off in a rainstorm to visit my friend Louie in Mendocino county. Hes the guy that kick-started me on doing HOME WORK, and I visit him whenever I can get away.
He lives in a cabin across a river and the only way to get across the river this time of year is on a 500-foot cable in a bosuns chair (from a platform 30' high). I got a bunch of porcini (boletus) mushrooms on the way up and after a scary ride across the river in the dark and mist, we had some ouzo, then wild duck and basmati rice with porcinis, along with Louies home-made Merlot, with a wood fire going during the stormy night. Yeah!
A few weeks ago there was a TV program on The Desert Fox that showed Field Marshall Montgomery defeating Rommel in Northern Africa in WWII. There was a clip of Winston Churchill in London, saying:
|This is not the end,
it is not the beginning of the end,
but it is perhaps the end of the beginning."
Lloyd Kahn, Publisher
Shelter Publications, Inc.
P.O. Box 279
285 Dogwood Road
Bolinas, CA, 94924 USA