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649 stairs to the top at Piedra de Peñol in Medellín, Colombia

"Visitors to the Piedra de Peñol in Medellín, Colombia, had best be prepared for quite a workout on their way up. There’s no elevator available in this amazing combination of natural and man-made wonders. 649 stairs lead to the top of this 200-meter-tall granite batholith, but the view once you get there is said to be worth the extraordinary effort required."
http://weburbanist.com/2008/11/26/creative-modern-stairs-staircase-designs/

Winter & Spring/Whining & Exulting

Winter has been long and cold (for our part of the world, that is). It seemed like 4 months of darkness and rain. The only heat I have in the office is an 800 watt radiant electric heater that I keep right next to the computer and turn on for maybe an hour in the morning. Otherwise. I wear 5 or so layers of clothing: cotton, silk, and wool. A homemade Merino wool scarf and wool hat, sheepskin Ugg boots, and fingerless gloves complete the early morning attire.

In running each Tuesday night, it was chillingly cold at the start of each run, then invariably feet wet from the puddles. In the evenings we were going through firewood at a good clip.

Then the world suddenly changed. The rains have diminished, the sun has been out (a lot), the hills are a verdant green, life is more relaxed. The time change has helped. It's also my time of year, born in late April. Last week I ran on the beach to get warmed up, then swam across the channel and ran on Stinson Beach. I was almost ecstatic with the sunshine and blue water, running in and out of the white foam from the waves. The beach is the interface of land, water, air, and sun, a powerful chi generator. Red-winged blackbirds are chirping their Spring notes, and a robin has been warbling melodic triplets. Spring has sprung!

ebook sales exploding

From Mark Coker on his Smashwords blog March 20, 2010:
"According to the AAP (Association of American Publishers), in 2009 ebooks accounted for 3.31% of all trade book sales, up from only 1.19% in 2008. Even if sales stay flat from January onward in 2010, we're looking at ebooks accounting for 6-8% of U.S. book sales in 2010. If sales accelerate further, a 10% monthly run rate is certainly likely by the end of this year. These numbers are dramatically higher than most reasonably-minded industry watchers predicted even a few months ago.…"
"In January, during Amazon's quarterly earnings conference call, Jeff Bezos announced that for books it sells in both Kindle and print formats, ebooks were then accounting for 60% of unit sales.…"
"…the latest Book Industry Study Group survey.…BISG found that 47% of all ebook reading is happening not on these new-fangled devices, but on ordinary computer screens."
http://blog.smashwords.com/2010/03/ebook-market-exploding-says-new-idpf.html

Graffiti in San Francisco yesterday

On 24th street in the Mission district

Devil Makes Three in Petaluma last night

Devil Makes Three, a band from Santa Cruz  (Calif.) plays bluegrass, rockabilly, and blues, and performed before a wildly cheering crowd last night in Petaluma (Calif.). The crowd, mostly in their 20s and 30s knew all their songs, and things were jammed close to the stage. Every so often someone would get passed along above the crowd and the big bouncer at left would jump in, grab the person, and hustle him/her off to the side.

Here's one of their songs on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fut6zeXtyN0

Soulful old VW van

This van some how just had it. (I'm sure this will only make sense to past or present-VW van owners.) It was rigged up nicely for living inside.

Into San Francisco early this morning…

I drove in to the city along the coast as the sun came up. Heading down Fulton St. here, which focuses on city hall (unfortunately painted black and gold).
Storefront next to Ritual Roasters on Valencia. Your guess as good as mine. Sometimes there's a cat prowling around or sleeping in the window.
Another store window on Valencia ( near 20th-21st -- a vital couple of blocks in contempo San Francisco)
It's now 8:20 AM, I've had a latte and donut, now going to check the NY Times and email on speedy wi-fi. Billie Holiday CD playing.  I love coming into the city.

Vintage VW vans


Greg Urrutia with his '60 VW van. There were 3 of these old vans downtown last Friday. I'd just swam across the channel and ran on Stinson beach and when I got back, I grabbed my camera out of the truck. (I'd owned a '60 VW van that I'd driven across the river into Puerto Vallarta in '63, to NYC and back in '64 (December-brrr!), and on (and in) which I'd carried half of the materials for my house in Big Sur in '67, so I love these old vans.)

This is a group of guys who own vintage VW's.
Check out: http://www.beetleball.com/
Requirements: that you have a VINTAGE CLASS VW (1966 and Under): Bugs, Bus, Single Cabs, Crew Cabs, Ghia's, Fastback, Notchback, Squareback

Canyon climbing and bushwhacking yesterday…

Yesterday 3 of us went exploring up a narrow, steep canyon out in the hills. There was Tomas -- a botanist,  Peter -- a local organic farmer, and myself. Tomas and I are both trained runners and I guess we both thought we'd have to go slow for Peter. We got about 10 minutes into the hike, up a steep fire trail and I notice Tomas and I were breathing heavily — and Peter wasn't. We were at it for 5-1/2 hours, wading through the water, crawling over logs and ducking under brush.
Peter and Tomas
It continually amazes me what"s in one's own territory. If you get away from electronics and roust around in the nearby world, there's a treasury of riches -- true wherever you live.
Bones of a deer, laid out in precise order, deep in the canyon. Peter says coyotes would scatter the bones, but this was a mountain lion, who meticulously consumed its prey. You can barely see the skull with horns at the top. An artistic predator, leaving something that resembles a cave painting.

When we got as far up the canyon as we could, we climbed up the side and headed vaguely in the direction of a place called Pablo Point. For an hour and a half we bushwhacked through the brush, following the faintest of animal trails, doubling back, crawling and sometimes bellying along until we finally reached Pablo Point, trails to which are now abandoned. I won't say Peter kicked our asses, but I'll say that keeping up with him had me totally exhausted at the end of the day. We had just the greatest time. A beautiful day, exploring unknown territory, little waterfalls on the sides, listening to these two guys swapping info about trees and plants and — getting a killer workout.
Lloyd and Peter

PS I love doing stuff and coming back and writing it up like this. There just ain't enough time to do as much of it as I'd like. 

Chubby Mitchell walking the nose in Santa Cruz

Chubby was about 5'7" and weighed 285 pounds. He, George Kovalenko, and I lived in a couple of small cabins on Moran Lake, near Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz in 1955. This was the year of the Big Flood (water over the parking meters on the main street, 3 bridges washed out). The floods deposited a sand bar at the Rivermouth and there were Rincon-type waves there in the Spring. Chubby was a pure Hawaiian, a football player, and in spite of his bulk, a good surfer. Here he's gracefully walking to the nose at the Rivermouth that year.

Round barn in Chile

This just in:

"Hi,
I was just in southern chile and saw this round barn at a german heritage museum. (see the attached pics)
In the display they said that one reason for the round barn was so that horses could be used to thresh grain out of the rain. I knew that round enclosures keep animals from being caught in corners, but had never heard of threshing grain out of the weather. It rains A LOT in southern Chile.…
Thought you might enjoy that bit of info and the pics.

Best, Joel Glanzberg"