Human Behavior

Michael Pollan and Me: When Lives, Books and Acid Trips Collide

Two journalists who’ve spent varying amounts of time teaching their craft at Cal give themselves an assignment that, in the end, blows away that well-worn rubric of “who, what, where, when, why.”

They are Michael Pollan, famous for his smart writing about food, and Don Lattin, a.k.a. me, known for my reverently irreverent writing about religion. Pollan and I found a subject that falls within each of our “beats,” a magic mushroom that offers the omnivore a tantalizing glimpse of God.  

The Canna-beat Cub

Everyone’s talking about marijuana—not to mention smoking it, eating it, vaping it, or rubbing it all over their bodies.

Just the other day, the San Francisco Chronicle GreenState website announced the winners of its 2018 Cannabis Awards. The Hepburns took the prize for “Best Pre-Rolls” and Kyle Kushman took the honors for “Best Cultivator.” HerbaBuena and its sensual lubricant won for “Best Intimacy Product.”

Berkeley, of course, won hands down for “Best Cannabis City.”

From the Spring 2018 Edibles and Potables issue of California.

A Tour of the Gourmet Ghetto with “the Balzac of Berkeley”

L. John Harris, food writer, filmmaker, Gourmet Ghetto fixture, has been called the “Balzac of Berkeley.” But on a recent drizzly morning, he could have passed for Proust as he stood outside the original Peet’s, describing the caffeinated madeleine moment he had at the shop nearly 50 years before.

“It was a house blend, mostly likely a French roast, and it reminded me of coffee that I’d had in Europe,” he said. “We’ve all had food epiphanies that flood us with memories. This was one of those for me.”

We’re Not on OxyContin Anymore, Toto

Perry Solomon is used to people extolling the virtues of medical cannabis.

Dr. Solomon is the chief medical officer of HelloMD, a website that bills itself as one of the nation’s largest online medical cannabis communities. Over the past five years, the site has issued more than 70,000 recommendations for patient cannabis use in the state of California alone. And 65 percent of those recommendations, Solomon says, have been for pain.

From the Spring 2018 Edibles and Potables issue of California.

Back to the Land: Richard Sanford and the Tao of Pinot Noir

Richard Sanford graduated from Berkeley in 1965, served a combat tour in Vietnam, and by 1971 found himself working from a mossy old barn near Lompoc with no plumbing or electricity.

A geographer by training, the Navy veteran was engaged in an improbable quest—transforming the barn and adjoining bean fields into a classic, Burgundian-style vineyard.

From the Spring 2018 Edibles and Potables issue of California.

Rorschach on Skis: Elizabeth Swaney’s Terrible Olympic Halfpipe Peformance—And Us

Elizabeth Swaney’s day-to-day life is not unlike that of any other Olympic athlete. She trains with a coach in Park City, Utah, and spends hours practicing her sport, freestyle skiing. She works multiple jobs—eight, at one point, by her count—in order to make ends meet. And just like any other Olympian, she expected all that hard work to pay off during the Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

Student, Doctor…Spy? The Secret Life of Maurice Fruit

In early 1918, a 26-year-old Russian émigré named Maurice Fruit enrolled as a freshman at UC Berkeley. He threw himself into campus politics, helping organize a socialist club and announcing to a dean that he was “thoroughly in sympathy” with the Bolsheviks who had just seized power in Russia. He also claimed to have been friends with Leon Trotsky.

All STEAMed Up: Retirement Takes an Unexpected Turn to an Elementary School

At Eagle Elementary School, located in a  suburban district in New York’s Capital Region, 12 fourth and fifth-graders are inventing. Two students are trying to work the bugs out of a miniature electronic sliding door. Another team is setting up the tiny equivalent of a washing machine drum. Still others are building a robotic fan.

Is Augmented Reality the News Media’s New Frontier?

Earlier this month, the New York Times published its first feature story with augmented reality, or AR, depicting 360 degree models of Olympians suspended in action: a figure skater frozen in the middle of his quadruple jump, a speed skater paused during the sharp angling of a turn.

Q&A: Behavioral Finance Expert Terrance Odean on the Stock Market Drop

We accept that what goes up must comes down. What we don’t always understand is why. Like countless financial shakeups throughout history, this week’s stock market plunge has sparked widespread debate as to its causes. While there are no hard-and-fast answers, there are educated insights.

Pot of Gold: A Former Silicon Valley Executive Turns to Weed Farming

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Cultivating some dynamite weed, that is. In 2015, UC Berkeley grad, former Daily Cal photographer, and superstar digital engineer Mike Lovas purchased a 70-acre farm near Brandon, Oregon, with his wife, Donna, and his stepson, Nick. Their goal: sustainable and, they hoped, profitable agriculture. The first part was relatively easy, they say.

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