In 1982, I read Blue Highways, a bestseller written by William Least Heat-Moon. It chronicled a journey by car taken entirely on the small roads—the mapmakers’ blue highways. An English instructor as a small Missouri college, Least Heat-Moon, disoriented by a fracturing marriage, chose to look for himself by choosing, as Paul Simon put it, to “look for America.”
Buoyed by Least Heat-Moon’s adventures and observations, I have, whenever practicable, chosen those blue highways for my travels: a two-laner and small towns versus hurtling through interchangeable Interstate spaces at 70 mph.
So, for our road trip to Ann’s high school reunion in Casper, WY, I planned to include back roads whenever possible.
Day #1 was to begin at our home in Sonoma County’s Wine Country and end Continue reading “Road Trip 2015: Sonoma County to Trinity Center”
The following, in Shonnie Brown’s “Neighbors” column, appeared in The Healdsburg Tribune, our local weekly, on February 9, 2012. [Most of the images were not in the original.]
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Ann, born and raised in Casper, Wyoming, has the dubious distinction of attending high school with both Dick and Lynne Cheney and participating in student government with Dick. Dick, who Ann recalls as being “good looking” back then, wrote “I’ll be your friend forever” in Ann’s yearbook.
Ann attended a Catholic college in Denver and then got married — resulting in a breakup and three kids. She returned to college, putting herself through law school, and then became a New Jersey prosecutor. She moved to the Bay Area in 1984 and Continue reading “Two Lives in a Small Town”
Drill down just a few miles into the earth’s crust, and the temperature will rise substantially. This heat comes from three sources: emissions from radioactive minerals, the compressive force of gravity, and to a lesser extent, solar energy absorbed at the earth’s surface. Although such energy is not truly renewable (radioactive elements do eventually decay to energy-flat states), within any reasonable estimate of mankind’s tenancy on this planet, geothermal power is essentially limitless.
There are several techniques for transducing this energy from underground heat to in-the-grid electricity. One of these, a technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS), is currently being tested by Sausalito-based AltaRock Energy only 12 beeline miles from my home in Northern California. Continue reading “Enhanced Geothermal Energy and Man-Made Earthquakes”
Do students still read Robert Louis Stevenson? Treasure Island? The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Or have cinema and television overtaken literature, the adaptation become the source, and the source forgotten?
Stevenson was a mainstay of my childhood, a lingering consequence of his immense Victorian popularity. I suggest that it was this popularity that removed him from today’s scholarly reading lists.
On a recent visit to Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, I came across a small monument that mentioned his honeymoon there in 1880 (he married a San Franciscan) and the short travelogue he wrote, Silverado Squatters. To be sure, the style is from another era, but it is witty and alive with observation and analysis.
Continue reading “Silverado Squatters”