TIME – Person of the Year review



I began blogging in January 2008 with thoughts about what was memorable that had happened the previous year. That idea has grown into my mentally projecting myself five hundred years into the future and looking back at someone who did something this year that is still remembered at that distant time.

Here is the long list published by TIME magazine of their potential selection for TIME – Person of the Year

The % symbol is the number of their reader’s rating of these people’s fame for the previous year. But, TIME executives will make their own choice.

BTS  9% South Korean boy band

Planet Earth 9% Ecological interests

Thai Cave Divers 6% A successful rescue operation

Mohammed bin Salman 5% Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia

Moon Jae-in 4% President of South Korea

Undocumented Children 4% In the United States

Michelle Obama 4% Former First Lady of the United States

Jair Bolsonaro 4% Prsident-elect of Brazil

Christine Blasey Ford 4% Accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault

Robert Mueller 3% Director of the FBI

Colin Kaepernick 3% SF 49er Quarter Back took a knee for the US

Simone Biles 3% Artistic gymnast

Serena Williams 3% No. 1 ranking women’s tennis player

Meghan Markle 2% New member of British royal family

Justin Trudeau 2% Canadian Prime Minister

Pope Francis 2% Current Catholic Pope

Stacey Abrams 2% First black woman gubernatorial nominee in US

Donald Trump 2% 45th US president

Lady Gaga 2% Provocative actress

Ariana Grande 2% American singer, songwriter, and actress

Donald Glover 2% American actor

Aly Raisman 2% American gymnast

Angela Merkel 2% German Chancellor

Beyoncé 2% American singer

Elon Musk 2% Created reusable rockets, Tesla, Open AI

Elon Musk appears to be the most likely person on this list to be remembered in 500 years for something he did this last year.

Maxine Waters 2% Chair of House Financial Services Committee

Kamala Harris 2% US Senator from California

Emmanuel Macron 1% President of France

Taylor Swift 1% American singer-songwriter

LeBron James 1% Basketball player

Kim Jong-un 1% North Korean Supreme Leader

Ryan Coogler 1% American film director

Carmen Yulín Cruz 1% Mayor of San Juan Puerto Rico

Nancy Pelosi 1% Leader of US House of Representatives

Sandra Oh  1%  Canadian actress

Jeff Bezos 1% CEO Amazon

Stormy Daniels 1% American pornographic actress

Vladimir Putin 1%  President of Russia

Cory Booker 0%  US Senator from New Jersey

Melania Trump 0% Wife of the 45th US President

Jon M. Chu 0% Filmmaker

Mark Zuckerberg 0% Chairman of Facebook

Cardi B 0% American rapper

Kanye West 0% American rapper

Xi Jinping 0% President of China was a former Probaway Person of the Year

  • 2016 – Xi Jinping for taking China from a backward economy to the most powerful one on Earth.

Brett Kavanaugh 0% Supreme Court of US

Rod Rosenstein 0% US Deputy Attorney General

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan 0% President of Turkey

Jack Dorsey 0% CEO Twitter

Mike Pompeo 0% US Secretary of State

Michael Cohen 0% Trump’s lawyer is under FBI investigation

Lisa Murkowski 0% US Senator from Alaska

Jeff Flake 0% US Senator from Arizona

Susan Collins 0% US Senator from Maine Majority Leader

Mitch McConnell 0% US Senator from Kentucky Majority Leader


One of my first Berkeley friends, Julia Vinograd, died yesterday.


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I copied the article below the photo from Facebook because I don’t know how to link to the article. I will link it properly when told how to do so.

A month or so after I departed the US Air Force, I ended up on Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, California. I had just resigned my commission as a B-47 pilot because I didn’t want anything to do with killing innocent people with H-bombs. Julia was one of my first friends there and we met every night at Robbie’s Cafeteria, just two blocks up the street from where she is standing in this photo. She lived in the Berkeley Inn in the room just touching her shoulder until it burned down. We were part of a strange group of half a dozen people; Marty Schwartz was always “word processing” his PhD thesis using whiteout, while Julia and I and one or two others listened to Marty Horowitz talk. He was one of the most interesting people I ever met in Berkeley and I lived there on that street for fifty years. She wrote some of her poems about him, but never about me. I was far too normal and not nearly weird or desperate enough for her to consider poem-worthy. Horowitz had a much more interesting story … recently out of jail, for loaning a pistol to a guy who then went and murdered a Cal professor with it. Also, he had been a scientist who worked on the development of the atomic bomb, and he claimed he had derailed a street car back in Brooklyn when he was a teenager. I often thought he was the model for Professor Farnsworth of TVs Futurama. There were a couple of Harley riders who hung out with us; at that time I too was riding a motorcycle, although it was what was considered a vastly inferior one, a Triumph. 

There were many, many famous and infamous things that happened within a block of where Julia is standing. Major demonstrations for Free Speech, People’s Park, Viet Nam; and lots of famous and infamous people too.  Directly across the street is the Caffe Mediterraneum and we used to joke that the pole holding up the middle of it was the center of the world. The Med was only closed on Christmas day and a little ritual Julia and I had was to stand in the alcove set into the face of it at midnight and talk about the good ole days. I stood in that exact spot innumerable times after the Med closed at midnight until 1am talking with people who refused to admit that that day had ended. That it has now ended for Julia brings sad tears to my eyes.


Julia Vinograd, the Berkeley Poet Known as ‘The Bubble Lady’ Dies at 75

by Tom Dalzell

“Julia Vinograd died last night. She was Berkeley’s poet laureate and she was the Bubble Lady.

Born in 1943, Vinograd got her BA at Cal and then earned an MA at the University of Iowa at the Iowa Writers Workshop. Her studies focused on poetry. Literary and creative influences that she cited include William Butler Yeats, Elinor Wylie, Federico Garcia Lorca (in English), Leonard Cohen (as a poet), and Yehuda Amichai. While at Cal, she was taught and inspired by Thom Gunn, Gary Snyder, and Josephine Miles. At Iowa, Vinograd says Paul Carroll “blew the lid off all my safety boxes.”

Vinograd returned to Berkeley in 1967 to find massive cultural and political changes in full swing. “Everyone had long hair, bare feet, bright clothes, and looked like they’d just stepped out of a tapestry.”

Telegraph Avenue was her stomping ground, her nation. She lived at the Berkeley Inn and spent her days at the Caffe Med, drinking coffee and watching the world pass by. She described the first years of writing in Berkeley: “I decided Telegraph was Desolation Row, and I liked it that way. I was in total culture shock. I scuttled around with my mouth and my notebook both open, staring at what I saw and trying to write everything down at once. I forgot about writing styles and just wrote. I didn’t want any of it to get away.”

The poetry continued, honoring the lost, the misfits, the downtrodden, the abandoned, the wild and the free. She was called a street poet. I am not sure what that means unless it means that she wrote about the street in the figurative sense of the lower socioeconomic strata. I know this – she was for decades part of Berkeley’s cultural DNA. She wrote 50 volumes of poetry, much of which is about Berkeley. She probably could only have existed in Berkeley.

And then there was Julia Vinograd, the bubble lady.

During the People’s Park uprising in May 1969, Vinograd was troubled by a sense of impending violence. She lived right on Telegraph Avenue, the artery that bled so profusely on May 15. In a moment that evoked Allen Ginsberg, Vinograd bought some bubble soap and went to Telegraph Avenue to blow bubbles. It set a tone. It helped defuse. And she did it for the rest of her life. She was known to generations of Cal students simply as The Bubble Lady.

Julia Vinograd lived her life with Dylan’s “Desolation Row” as the soundtrack, Berkeley and Telegraph Avenue of the last 50 years swirling around her, saints and angels and martyrs and holy men. Julia Vinograd made real for us those who are wanting and lacking and forgotten and invisible. She did this with humor and verve and, as Herb Caen would say, brio. In her poem “On the Berkeley Inn, Where I lived for 15 Years, Being Torn Down,” she wrote: “Were we all crazy? Mostly we were friends / And with friends it’s not a pertinent question.”

In 2004, Berkeley honored Vinograd with a lifetime achievement award. City Councilman Kriss Worthington presented the proclamation to her at the Berkeley Poetry Festival. (See video below).

When Julia and her sister Debbie were girls, they sat by a Ming lamp in their grandfather’s house. The girls thought that the lamp’s name was Ming. Julia made up stories about Ming’s life. There were five green marbles. Julia told Debbie stories about the marbles. Debbie, came to Berkeley in 1973 to see her big sister Julia and stayed, painting as Julia wrote poetry. Debbie sat with Julia the night she died. Somewhere in that room were Ming and the five marbles.”


Goodbye Julia Vinograd! You were one of the people who made Berkeley into the greatest place on Earth!

A possible word game to play at the library.


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Just for fun, and to learn some new words, I was thinking about doing a monthly series at our local library. There is a pleasant room near the front entrance that is free for once-a-month meetings. I have attended many meetings there which usually have an attendance of between ten and thirty people. That would be a good size for a group to play with some specific words.

My intention is to make it useful to the people who show up. We could begin by doing about three different categories of words at each meeting. For example, we could begin with the Reader’s Digest current month’s list of words. Play the game of each person picking what they believe to be the best definition. Then move over to the RD’s definition and then go to the internet and compare a couple of online dictionaries’ definitions. If we had about ten people we could do a round robin with each person making a sentence using the word. The goal in this first exercise is to make it a fun way for people to get in touch with some common words.

The second set of ten words could be derived from some special social group, such as modern kids talk, valley girl lingo, local place names, computerese, and one I encountered yesterday – made up words that should exist, like chairdrobe which is the use of a chair for a clothing wardrobe.

The third set of words could be brought in by the individuals in attendance. Those could be anything they found interesting and which might be interesting to others. Many people will have some special words that they know that the general public doesn’t. As a kid growing up on a farm I encountered lots of specialty words that were common to us but unknown to city folk. No doubt the Manhattanites would have lots of special words that are unknown to Bendites.

Tomorrow I will draft a meeting handout. We need a name. How about Funny Words?

Mirror Pond in different lighting conditions.



Here in Bend, Oregon, I’ve been photographing Mirror Pond from Drake Park, a scene that includes one of the viewing benches. A rainbow appeared and a dog ran by too, adding to the color and the action. Of course, the river is flowing and the trees are growing and the day is constantly changing, but they are slower to evolve and thus are harder to see.

The next day I came by and the same scene is different. The dog and rainbow are gone, the sky has changed from grey to bright blue, and there is a bit of snow. The trees and river are still doing their thing, even if that Classic Greek philosopher Heraclitus claimed that it was a different river now and you could never step into that previously existing river a second time.

Well, the next day the river was a bit different because the dam just a short distance to our right had closed its locks and the portion of the river called Mirror Pond is a couple of feet higher. Then the weather warmed a little and the snow melted a little and we have yet another view of the same old thing. Boring?

Well, maybe not boring, but different. A couple of hours ago I went over to see how things were looking and took this picture. It is a six-second exposure taken with my new Huawei 40-megapixel smartphone. This was a handheld exposure where the camera somehow kept track of all my jiggles and made a steady picture.

Things have changed again. The river isn’t gone, but it is invisible, except for the reflections. The dog is long gone, and the snow is almost gone. The leaves fell from the birch trees weeks ago, but the birds haven’t gotten to the red berries on the mountain ash yet. Note the sharp light reflections off of Mirror Pond.

A little reflection on light can sometimes be enlightening.

An evening with the Impressionist painters


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My friend John gave a lecture tonight to our Big Picture club on the Impressionist art movement. It was well attended and every seat was filled. ~”The group was named because of a 1872 painting by Claude Monet named Impression, Sunrise It is a painting first shown at what would become known as the “Exhibition of the Impressionists” in Paris in April, 1874.”~ 

Our group discussed many of the paintings that John displayed on the screen, but the one that we discussed the most was Renoir’s 1876 Le Moulin de la Galette.

To our modern eyes, this picture seems like a color photograph of an open-air dance party set in a public street. We can see lots of activity and even the people sitting have the feeling of active engagement with the action. It is an ordinary scene of a group of average people enjoying a holiday afternoon. There is an interesting play of dappled light that seems to be actively dancing with the people. These were all elements of what the Impressionists were intending to display in their paintings.

Each of the individuals is engaged in whatever social obligation is important to them and their individual emotional needs are easily seen. The people are important to a viewer of this painting but the artist, although very sensitive to the people, is primarily interested in the painting revealing the light, its transformations of reality, which is subtly illustrated in the form of the overhead lights which wouldn’t be needed for lighting in the daytime. One proof that it is a sunny day is seen along the top edge where a series of green roof trimmings are casting sharp shadows as they would at midday at midsummer.

Here is Armand Guillaumin‘s Soleil Couchant a Ivry. I wasn’t aware of this Impressionist painting, but it seems to epitomize all of the qualities they were interested in.

I am thankful to John for reawakening my long forgotten love of the Impressionists. 

Women have been fussing over me.


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In the previous twenty-four hours, I have had three separate events where I have been treated to special care by women. That was in addition to the wonderful treatment I get on a daily basis from my companion Debbie. Yesterday it was a Reiki session which mellowed me out with soothing words and gentle touching. What a calming effect it has on me to just lie still and be guided into a blissful state of awareness. That treatment is great, but the lasting value for me is that when things happen that disturb my usual tranquil cruise through my life, that is ideal in so many ways, I can intentionally bring into my consciousness a portion of that Reiki calm. And, for a few moments, all my troubles fade away. So, you may ask, how can it get better?

Already scheduled several weeks ago was this last massage treatment for my forty-four radiation treatments for prostate cancer. Those treatments ended five weeks ago, but the overall schedule of treatment includes several Reikis and massages to help with our recovery. It really helped me to feel much better about the whole series of radiation events. Those were not painful, and I very much enjoyed the waiting room encounters with other people facing life-threatening events. Our conversations get through to the really meaningful things in our lives quickly. That massage was this morning and while my physical massage was going on my therapist and I had a very intelligent conversation about the progress of our modern lives.

Debbie and I went to Spork restaurant for lunch, which has some of the most interesting food imaginable and then across the street to my appointment for three small dental fillings. As it turned out two of the minor fillings had deterioration under the old fillings and thus a half-hour event turned into an hour and a half dental marathon. The doctor and the nurse were into me almost the whole time, and they were working fast. As they were working I was constantly amazed at how quickly and accurately everything they were doing proceeded.

That’s how in 24 hours I was carefully fussed over by women trying to please me. I am a very happy guy. Thank you all.

I can’t read DESIGNA without shutting my eyes.


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I love the book DESIGNA – Technical Secrets of the Traditional Visual Arts and I pick it several times per day, but I can only read a page or two and puzzle my way through the illustrations without having to close my eyes and think. When you do get this book go to page 149 and try to imagine doing these drawings before the current computer drawing programs became available. It hurts my mind. My mind needs a rest! I close my eyes and these images and similar ones swirl and morph and swirl and morph some more, and soon Debbie calls me to lunch or dinner or this time it was, “You haven’t done your blog yet.” This is a ten-minute effort. But I am going to download a William Morris artwork to give you a sample of what’s been going on behind my eyelids.

Google result – William Morris artist

It was a day of repeatedly falling to sleep after looking carefully at images such as this one.

What good is religion?


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In an organized book discussion with about sixteen guys who are reviewing John Shelby Spong’s book Unbelievable, the question came up several times, “What good things does your religion give to you?” There were quite a few responses which made good sense because they made the person saying them feel good.

Their church gives meaning to their life because they become part of something much greater than their self. Their religion existed before them and will continue to exist after they die. It gives a stability and meaning to their routines. It gives a whole family a structure and a feeling of unity which helps them focus their family values and thus it stabilizes their relationships to one another. It provides a way to help the greater community that they are immersed within in a more visible way than they could do as individuals. It gives a spiritual link to God through the group’s prayers that feel more meaningful because of the group’s harmonized unity of feeling while saying the prayers. It gives a structured way, in words and actions, to say prayers that bring about the feeling of being in communion with God. It gives plausible reasons for our human existence and for the evils that surround us at times.

In general, the group gave the feeling that they are happy to be alive and are comfortable with being part of the existence of life in the more expansive evolutionary sense. There were expressions of being comfortable with their mortality, and they hope for an afterlife, but even if that doesn’t happen, they are happy with being given the opportunity to have lived as long as they have in the world they are immersed within.

Although I am not a member of this group on Sundays, I do routinely participate in their excellent Monday afternoon book discussions. I generally agreed with what was said but submitted that I feel best about going to the UU church because it gives me a chance to do some good actions that help other people. I quoted John 10:10 “To help them live and live more abundantly.” I shovel snow, and carry rocks, and fill the water bowls for the animals. I did say that I am comfortable being alive and with the matter that constitutes whatever it is that I am and whatever it was before it was the living me. When I think about life in those terms I feel comfortable with being made up of incomprehensible subatomic particles.

Some people may think I am weird, but now I can say, “Of course, I am made up of quarks.”

I stepped forward.


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I have had the habit for many years of stepping forward when others don’t. It seems to happen when it might be embarrassing because it is taking a chance in public in front of friends. The situation is always one of improvisation on an undefined field of what is to be done. It differs a little from stage improvisation, where anything is acceptable and there are no wrong behaviors. On stage, the other actors in the events are there to help you, and to make you look good. The rule of those fellow improvisers is to respond with a hearty “yes and…” to everything you say and do. You can do no wrong because they are there to pick you up if you break a leg and fall on your face.

In other, perhaps more real life-like situations, the other people there are more motivated by attempts to prove that you are wrong. In those more common scenarios, the common polite phrase is, “Yes, but … ” followed by an attempt to make the way you have just said or done something look wrong, or foolish, or absurd, or even stupid. That is much closer to the environment I spent my fifty adult years in Berkeley coffee shops immersed within. Thus, my training isn’t as an improviser, or a debater, or as a psychiatric confidant, but as a raconteur.

What is a raconteur, you may ask? Usually, it is defined as one who is skilled at telling stories, or when not so skilled, as a bullshitter. In my self-chosen environment of trying to reach a little beyond the undefined but bordered-veil of a conversation, in an attempt to find a deeper meaning in those cloudy places, I lose the positive virtues of the raconteur because I break contact with my interlocutors’ visual imagery and then appear to them to be a bullshitter or worse … crazy.

The more willing I am to step forward past the social veil and into the unknown murkiness of the realm just beyond accepted social customs, the more likely it is that I will lose contact with whoever is there to potentially participate.

There was a call today to an audience of over a hundred people for someone to come forward and be a sub-audience for a little story about to be told that might require some participation. I was near the back wall and furthest from the potential action when it became apparent that no one was willing to step forward. So, I did. While I was walking up the aisle I motioned to people in the audience to join in and a few did. We were asked to sit on the rug at the front of the crowd.

While we were sitting there, the whole audience was asked several difficult questions, like “What do you know for sure?” and there were a few answers, “What don’t you know?” and a few answers. Then, of course, the mike was in front of my mouth and I hadn’t had a chance to think, as had the other members of the audience who had raised their hand.

I had been thinking about something absolute, like a number, and was mentally going over pi. That is 3 point 14. But, I knew that was wrong … only a rough approximation. Did I know that for sure? Not really, but I had been told many years ago that it was an infinite number. What’s the proof? I don’t know. A web search gives pi = 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286 – but what does that mean? It is only an approximation.
So, there I was distracted by the thought of something I simultaneously knew and didn’t know. And, I knew that I knew and didn’t know. My head was slightly turned down when I noticed the mike a few inches in front of my face. I don’t know why I said …

I know that I should treat others better than I treat myself.


Improving your own bad behavior


When rereading yesterday’s post, Responding to good and bad habit triggers, it became apparent that the concluding statement could be restated as its opposite and produce an equally valuable tool. The original statement was, When you do a good deed, either for yourself or for another person, make it a point to smile for two seconds. It may be equally powerful to do the opposite. When you intentionally, or unintentionally through the expression of a habit, do something that is a bad deed in your own view, you may help to correct that behavior by doing something that sends a message to your brain that you morally disapprove of that action. This can be done intentionally using the same technique as was used in sending an encouragement to your brain for a good action.

I am making a distinction between the brain and the mind in this usage to mean that the mind is the conscious part that is making conscious decisions and the brain is the mechanical unconscious part where nearly everything else is stored and functionally implemented. The goal is to improve the brain’s responses to situations by using the mind to give responsible oversight and to make positive and negative encouragements. These fleeting encouragements from the mind may last only a few seconds, but the brain responds to them automatically. When we smile immediately during an action and for a few seconds at the completion of an act, the brain responds and puts that behavior on track to become a habit.

The opposite probably functions in the same way. That is, as your brain does an action which your conscious mind does not approve of, you can intentionally help eliminate that as a habit by putting on a negative facial expression of some type, such as disgust for a few seconds. Here is the new proposition: You may not have much control over your brain’s functions and its automatic actions, but you do have considerable control over your facial expression, and it is with this intentional control of your facial expression that you do have some control your brain and its habits. Therefore …

When you do a bad deed, either to yourself or to another person, make it a point to intentionally scowl at yourself for two seconds.