Column: Christmas in Las Vegas, Part One

By Susan Parker
Tuesday December 19, 2006

Friday, 4:30 p.m.: Arrive at Oakland International Airport with sister-in-law, one four-year-old and one two-year-old. Stand in line to check in bags. Stand in line to pass through security. Stand in line to view flight schedule. Learn that all Southwest Airline flights to Las Vegas are delayed by at least two hours due to bad weather in the Pacific Northwest. Stand in line at gate to see if tickets can be changed to fly out on 4 p.m. flight that is now leaving at 6 p.m. -more-

Crow Talk and Chickadee Alarms: What Birds Are Saying

By Joe Eaton, Special to the Planet
Tuesday December 19, 2006

I’ll admit that I don’t have much of an ear for the language of crows. Ron says they have a specific call that means “Raven!,” uttered when the crows are harassing one of their larger relatives or escorting it out of the neighborhood. This wouldn’t surprise me at all, since they do have an extensive vocal repertoire. -more-

Column: The Public Eye: Designing an Ideal UC Art Museum: Back to the Future

By Michael Katz
Friday December 15, 2006

Next Tuesday morning, UC’s Berkeley Art Museum will host a public discussion of goals for its planned new downtown site. Attending will be Toyo Ito, the Tokyo architect whom the museum has engaged to design its new building. With this internationally renowned designer on board, and a downtown location on the map, BAM and its visitors face exciting possibilities. -more-

Column: Undercurrents: Behind the Scenes With Actor-Politician Jerry Brown

Friday December 15, 2006

In a scene in the Civil War movie Gettysburg, a Confederate spy named Harrison is sent out on a night mission to scout out the position and strength of the Union army encamped in the Pennsylvania valley. The spy, identified in the movie as a former Mississippi stage actor, takes the assignment, but tells the general “but I must confess, sir, the thing that bothers me about this job [spying] is the absence of an audience. When you do it right, no one knows you’re doing it. Nobody watches your work. It’s very hard on an actor.” -more-

East Bay Then and Now: Charles Manning MacGregor, Indefatigable Builder

By Daniella Thompson
Friday December 15, 2006

Between 1900 and 1910, Berkeley’s population more than tripled, from 13,214 to 40,434 inhabitants. Much of the growth was stimulated by the flight of thousands of San Franciscans to the East Bay following the 1906 earthquake and fire. -more-

About the House: The General Contrator Problem

By Matt Cantor
Friday December 15, 2006

I met a nice couple the other day. Sadly, they were clearly in some distress over the fortunes of their remodeling process. They’d engaged a GC (builder-speak for general contractor) last year to do a rather sweeping and costly rehab on a mid-sized house in the hills of Oakland and things hadn’t gone quite as well as they’d hoped. -more-

Garden Variety: Gift Houseplants That Don’t Give Tsuris

By Ron Sullivan
Friday December 15, 2006

Oh my, this is a touchy time of year, all those cultural sensitivities waiting to be stepped on. Wishing someone “happy holidays” would seem universal enough, but I read a newswire piece the other day in which a guy was quoted as bragging that he’d bullied some hapless WalMart clerk into wiping that phrase off a window because, “It’s supposed to be ‘Merry Christmas!’” Honestly, sometimes it makes me miss good old Saturnalia. -more-