I left my stomach in San Francisco

It is hard to leave San Francisco when it is warm and sunny; going back to the winter and cold of Stockholm. Here are some photos of beautiful Rodeo Beach in Marin County, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, on a warm January day.



I have been a lot of places this last year, and in each place, people have complained of the same thing; traffic.   Vilnius is overcrowded with cars. Bogota and Belo Horizonte. Rio, Delhi and Istanbul, Cape Town, Cartagena, Lima, Stockholm and San Francisco. It is bad in Geneva, one of the richest cities in the world. I can only imagine Moscow or Manila. People are trying to get around, but there are just too many vehicles. Think about how much steel and vinyl, rubber and petroleum it takes and then multiply that by billions. If I were to rule the world, I would ban the automobiles and have people take bikes, buses and subways. I would also ban meat consumption and I would encourage a one-child policy worldwide. There would be no borders or nations. There is a book that I read a long time ago, Ecotopia, by Ernest Callenbach. My society would be somewhat like that, but perhaps more extreme, because right now, the biological world is losing.

Besides the automobiles, San Francisco is an exceptional place. The neighborhoods each have a distinct flavor. The Mission has changed the most in the last 10 years, and I could have predicted that it would be the most desirable neighborhood for young people working in high tech – the hipsters. I had dinner at Gracias Madre tonight, with its delicious organic hand made corn tortillas and vegan cashew cream on cauliflower. This food is not easy to find anywhere else besides San Francisco.  For vegans, I think it is the best in the world.   Be sure to visit Just for You in Dogpatch, excellent vegan squash risotto, and if you were there on Friday, you would have heard some lovely chamber music for oboe, viola, cello and bassoon (with this blogger on the bassoon).


Is the opposite of homeless homefull? Right now, I am officially living in 3 different places in 3 different countries. I am certainly not homeless. I have telephone numbers, bank accounts, transit passes and things to do in Vilnius, Stockholm and San Francisco.

It is great to be in San Francisco, even though it is only a short visit. There are already flowers blooming on the back deck. The sun is providing me with some vitamin D, and the city seems cleaner and greener after the December rains. The reconstruction on Castro Street is complete, and the wider sidewalks make it more pleasant to walk around the neighborhood.  I still think it would have been better to simply make it a pedestrian zone, with no cars.

The sidewalks on Castro Street are double-wide now.
Succulents blooming in front of house.
Mini-fuschia plant blooming on deck

This week one of my Master’s students, Allison Nelson, delivered her thesis talk about her research on the migratory connectivity of Hermit thrushes. You can see a video about her work and read about it here. The best part of being a professor is seeing students develop into scientists with successful important research projects. The worst part about being a professor is writing grants and raising money for the research; something that I am doing this week.

The Berkeley Symphony had an interesting program with some difficult music last week. After that concert, I don’t think I can play bassoon for a week. First up was Thomas Ades’ “Asyla”, with a lot of rhythmic complexity. Then came Tchaikovsky’s 6th symphony, the “Pathetique”, which is notoriously difficult for the bassoons. Here is the review, and I agree completely that the orchestra is sounding better than ever under Joana Carneiro’s baton.

Rehearsal at Berkeley Symphony
There is the part in “Asyla” where the conductor beats differently than what we are supposed to play.

Rainbow grocery continues to astound me with its selection of all things vegetarian. The vegan cheese world is taking off, and I got some nice ones yesterday. Also rhubarb strawberry pie, and chocolate peanut butter coconut milk ice cream. I lose weight when I am not in San Francisco. There are all kinds of new restaurants and they seem full all the time. I like watching all the bicyclists with their different colored bicycle tires in the Mission. Pretty soon the birds will return and it will be spring.

God fortsättning

Happy New Year from Stockholm!

In Sweden after the New Year, people greet each other with God fortsättning, which means “good continuation”. I am wishing all of my friends and readers, a great continuation of the New Year 2015.

Here are some photos of the first full moon of 2015 over Stockholm. The first is over Globen, the largest globe structure in the world, which also serves as the sun in the Sweden Solar System model. Then I have a photo of the moon over the Wenner-Gren Center, where I lived when I first moved to Sweden in 1992, now nearly 23 years ago.

Full Moon over Globen
Full Moon over Wenner-Gren Center

2014 ended with me learning that my proposal to the National Science Foundation was not funded.   The process of getting government funding these days is difficult to say the least. You submit a pre-proposal in January. Then you find out if it passed the first stage in May. The deadline for the full proposal is in August. Final results come out at the end of December. It seems through the entire process only about 5% are funded, meaning that 95% don’t make it. But this year I was close. The project is terribly important, studying the effects of deforestation on malaria transmission. I am sure that I will find some way to do the work, but for the short term, it means that I will be spending more of my sabbatical in Europe, instead of Cameroon.

It was a long holiday for Swedes. Most are starting back to work today, January 7th. The stores are full of shoppers looking for deals at the after-Christmas sales. The economy seems to be doing fine here. But people also take time to go ice-skating or to performances. If you have skates, there are several outdoor rinks open for free to the public. I saw a very modern performance of Othello, in modern Swedish. I like how theater takes risks here. It was a stark stage, in simple contemporary costumes, and in the end, when everyone dies, there was blood all over the place.

After my experience at the Bogota airport where I ran out of breath running between airplane gates, I decided to start running. I bought some good shoes and the outfit. Stockholm is the perfect place for runners, because of the many huge flat parks. The Lill-Jansskogen is a large forest park right across the street in the center of the city.

Next week, a short trip to San Francisco!