Finding My Roots Through DNA

By Jeffrey the Barak. How my knowledge of my ancestry suddenly jumped from the 19th Century to tens of thousands of years ago. A couple of months ago a friend told me she had used an online DNA testing service, 23andMe, to research her ancestry. The ancestral history of her DNA revealed some unknown ancient…

Scoot USC

By Jeffrey the Barak. Los Angeles is a better place to be than many cities when it comes to finding a nice place to scoot. But sooner or later the 26 mile beach bike path becomes so familiar that the urge to explore further kicks in. Google Maps has a bicycle overlay with puts bright…

I used to be Hawai’i

By Jeffrey the Barak. __ I used to be Hawai’i I am the Detroit Tablemount. I am two and a half thousand meters under the sea. To my East is the West, Attu Island, the edge of the USA. To my North is the East. Ostrov Mednyy, the edge of Russia I used to be…

L.A. Beach Bike Path, Part Three

By Jeffrey the Barak. Part one took us from Torrance to Manhattan Beach on the L.A. Beach Bike Path, and part two began in Manhattan Beach and ended as we arrived at Venice Beach. This article is part three so if you are starting here, you may want to navigate to parts one and two…

The alleys turn to dust

By Jeffrey the Barak. When a city or a state runs out of money, it takes longer for potholes to be fixed in the roadway. It takes even longer for sidewalks to be repaired, despite their upheaval due to short-sighted tree planting decades ago. But far behind on the priorities, are the service alleys. Behind…

Lahaina Noon in Hawai’i

By Jeffrey the Barak. The State of Hawai’i is the only place in the United States in which you can lose your shadow, outside, in the middle of the day. when there are no clouds. In Hawai’i this is known as Lahaina Noon and it happens twice a year, but on different dates, depending where…

2010 Columbus Day Rant

By Jeffrey the Barak. I hope that our post office and banking employees have a very nice day off today, for Columbus Day, but let’s not forget, he did not discover America, He did not come to America,  and he was by today’s standards an all round horrible guy. We can thank him for murdering…

How Art Almost Killed An Entire People

By Jeffrey the Barak. At times, we wander the galleries and see pieces of art that look as if they could hurt someone, or kill someone, but in a way this has actually happened. I refer to a place commonly known as Easter Island. This is it’s modern name, given to the place by Christian…

Renaming MyPop to POSSS, and recalling Banias

By Louis the Scooterer. Oh well.. I love being a quitter (like when I quit smoking !) but I hate being a “loser” as I am NOW with smokers all around.. and them winning, and by choice I need to leave a place. Today.. this beautiful beginning-of-summer-morning..first cup of coffee at the square where the…

Los Angeles, what are we standing on?

By Jeffrey the Barak. Geologists would say that the Los Angeles Basin is like a huge bowl of sand The geologic center for the Los Angeles Basin is the place where the Los Angeles River and the river known as Rio Hondo merge in South Gate. At this central point, sand, silt, clay and other…

The hazards of imagining countries

By Jeffrey the Barak. Nomadic tribes move independently of each other and occasionally come together to interact through trade, war, sport, cultural exchange, intermarriage, murder etc. In the dense jungles of South America and Africa and Asia, the boundaries formed by geographical features such as ridges and valleys are all it takes to keep two…

Scooterer Stories, Part Fifteen – Bridges over the Jordan

By Louis the Scooterer Okay early up, sunrise seen, breakfast eaten.. lets go find some bridges that River Jordan flows under…in this area. Remember we stopped at Arik bridge which is on the main road, where the Jordan flows into the north end of Kinerret (Sea of Galilee).. where many people stop and walk across…

Taking the “A” Train

By Cherie Magnus What is it about trains? We all love them–the waiting, the leaving, the whistles. Who can hear the distant “woo-woo” of a train without feeling something’s longing, nostalgia, the urge to hop on and leave your old life behind? Literature abounds with romantic train symbols: The Polar Express, Streetcar Named Desire, Train…

An American Diary from Mexico – Episode 12

Leaving San Miguel By Cherie Magnus If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else. –Yogi Berra That terrible ache and nostalgia for home when home is gone, and this isn’t it. And the sun so white like an onion. And who the hell thought of placing a city here with no…

An American Diary from Mexico – Episode 11

The Worlds of Xochimilco By Cherie Magnus A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable. ~William Wordsworth In gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death. ~Sam Llewelyn Xochimilco, the “place of the flower fields” (in Nahuatl), is at once an ancient Aztec dream, a modern Mexican fiesta, and…

An American Diary from Mexico – Episode 10

Tango Magic in Oaxaca By Cherie Magnus Imagine a large leafy square with fountains and huge trees, surrounded on four sides by the colorful arcades of ancient colonial buildings. Imagine the kiss of a chocolate scented breeze on your skin. Imagine a concert band playing a classical concert with elderly couples rising casually from their…

An American Diary from Mexico – Episode 9

Dancing Down The Aisle By Cherie Magnus I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance. ~Friedrich Nietzsche I dance down the aisle of Saint Paul’s Anglican Church in San Miguel twice a month, carrying my cross. Like most people, I’ve always had a cross to bear, except for that brief perfect…

An American Diary from Mexico – Episode 8

Corpus Christi in San Miguel By Cherie Magnus My first day back in San Miguel de Allende after three weeks, I ran around doing errands, unpacking, organizing, but I wasn’t too busy to notice the hanging of red and gold satin and velvet banners from balconies along the main streets. Thinking a weekend fiesta was…

An American Diary from Mexico – Episode 7

The Field Trip By Cherie Magnus Early on Saturday morning, I climbed into the minivan, found the last seat, and introduced myself to the seven women and one man filling the cramped interior. “Buenos dias! Won’t it be fun to see another state, archeological ruins, a lake?” All of us on the tour to Michoacan…

An American Diary from Mexico – Episode 6

The Monarch Milagro By Cherie Magnus Dear Ones Back Home, Well you know me, a real Type A. Hopefully I will eventually learn to take it easy and be on Mexican Time. That’s one of the benefits of living here and one of my goals. But in the meantime, I like to accomplish things, quickly…

Spielberg’s Mom and The Milky Way

By Nicola Pittam He’s the biggest director in the world and the mastermind such box office hits as ET, Jurassic Park, Jaws and Indiana Jones. But while Steven Spielberg makes movies that pull in hundreds of millions of dollars, his mum still runs the tiny restaurant she began 25 years ago. Petite Leah Adler, who…

Hotel Home

Hotel Home – Peter Greenberg’s Unique Odyssey By Nicola Pittam Traveler Peter Greenberg has transformed his house into a real holiday home. Peter was so impressed with his stay in hotels around the world, that he immediately turned to them when he wanted to decorate his home. Now the travel writer has decked out his…

An American Diary from Mexico – Episode 5

Not All Mariachis and Margaritas By Cherie Magnus Many people come to San Miguel de Allende for a vacation and end up buying a house. Folks fall in love with this place, ardently, illogically, hopelessly. It’s that kind of town. I decided to move to San Miguel, a colonial city of 50,000 in the heart…

An American Diary from Mexico – Episode 4

Semana Santa in San Miguel By Cherie Magnus I can’t think of a better place for a practicing Christian to be for Holy Week than San Miguel de Allende–except maybe for Rome, but I’ve never been there, and here I am in Mexico. (Who knew?) Even for those not Christian or Catholic, the cultural expressions…

An American Diary from Mexico – Episode 3

Auto Mexico By Cherie Magnus After a mind-expanding long day with ghosts, pyramids, and mysterious ancient art in Teotihuacan, our little tour group cruise along the Autopista with just two hours to go before hitting San Miguel de Allende and home. Gene, an archeologist from the University of Texas, Jaime, our Mexican guide/driver, and me,…

An American Diary from Mexico – Episode 2

Heart of Fire By Cherie Magnus Dear Ones Back Home, When I searched the Internet last summer for a San Miguel apartment, I only had five requirements–reasonable price, quiet, accepts Phoebe the Cat, no more than a fifteen minute walk into town, and a wood-burning fireplace. I soon found one which had everything on my…

An American Diary from Mexico – Episode 1

Mexico, Christmas Milagros, and Me By Cherie Magnus Well I made it! After leaving work and selling my furniture as so many have done before me, Phoebe the Cat and I arrived in San Miguel de Allende to begin a new life. It had been a difficult time these past three months, having garage sales,…

The Church of Tango

By Cherie Magnus   It was known as La Cat’dral. Not easy to find in Buenos Aires’ dark side streets at three in the morning–no signs, no cars, no people in front. But once I climbed the stairs to the second floor of the old warehouse, I could hear the siren call of music. It…

Memorial Day Weekend, One To Remember, for sure!

Memorial Day Weekend, One To Remember, for sure! How a novice hiker almost put the Death into Death Valley By Frank Moss Frank Moss is new to hiking but his story, told here in his own words acts as a warning to the inexperienced and a reminder to the accomplished hiker, of just how dangerous…

La Salsa Cubana Experience

By Cherie Magnus These days ladies alone do pretty well anywhere in the world they travel. The world has gotten used to women on their own in airports and hotels due to business traveling, and more recently, vacationing. I’ve traveled alone in many countries and I wholeheartedly recommend it for those decisive independents who don’t…

Disenchanted September

By Cherie Magnus August 8, 2000 Tired of going to Europe alone and inspired by romantic films of the Edwardian Grand Tour, I asked all my friends one April, “Want to rent a villa in Tuscany?” And several did. Because it was spring, we had time for monthly planning get-togethers where we decided on which…

The Wonders of Southern California’s Historic Ridge Route.

It’s still there! The Wonders of Southern California’s Historic Ridge Route. By Jeffrey the Barak Horseshoe bend It began with an intriguing map tumbling out of the Los Angeles Times in October 1997. Like a map to hidden pirate treasure, it showed the way to an adventure that would become one of my most memorable…