Human Behavior

To Hell and Back: A Paradise Educator Reckons with the Fire

That day started out as any other for Ambrosia Krinsky. She woke up in her Chico home, dropped her four-year-old off at day-care, then drove up The Skyway, the road that connects Chico to the smaller city of Paradise. Even before she got into town, she knew something was amiss: The sky was turning red. Paradise was burning. She sped to the town’s high school, where she teaches biology and English.

Life After Berkeley: How an Alum Survived Running with the Bulls

 I blame Hemingway. Looking for something to read last year, The Sun Also Rises fell into my unwilling hands. I’d never understood why so many people lived and died by his writing, so I decided to offer him a second chance. There it was: the book that brought Pamplona to the world and then the world to Pamplona. Hemingway be damned; I found myself booking a flight to Spain.

I was going to run with the bulls.

From the Winter 2018 Play issue of California.

Can’t Get No Satisfaction: Gambling and the Inevitable Remorse

So you’re in Vegas at the penny slots, and you promise yourself you’ll only play a dollar. That’s it! No more. Just enough to have the Vegas experience. If you win, you may regret not wagering a ten-spot to get a bigger jackpot. If you lose, you’ll probably regret sitting at the machine at all. But no matter what, you’re gonna be thinking: “Shoulda coulda woulda.” Or at least, that’s what recent findings out of Berkeley indicate.

From the Winter 2018 Play issue of California.

Go Play! You Can Read This Later.

was during the Great Malaise of the Jimmy Carter years that Zippy the Pinhead, clown prince of non sequiturs, first wondered, “Are we having fun yet?” The questioner was a simpleton, but time has endowed his question with the ring of profundity.

Or is that an alarm bell? A warning from our inner child to slow down, ease off, throw our hands in the air like we just don’t care?

Listen up, America. We are failing at play.

From the Winter 2018 Play issue of California.

What’s The Deal with Daylight Saving Time?

Older than Red State versus Blue State, older than the Montagues versus the Capulets, humankind’s primal combat is the age-old conflict between the Night Owls and the Early Birds.

Night Owls, of whom (full disclosure here) this writer is one, are sophisticated folks who believe the pleasure of staying up late is exceeded only by the pleasure of sleeping in the next morning—or the next afternoon, if it comes to that. Their hero is Elvis Presley, who famously said, “The sun’s down and the moon’s pretty; it’s time to ramble.”

Slender Man: A Perfect Monster for Our Time

In 2014, Slender Man, the shadowy Internet meme in formalwear who inspired two 12-year-old girls in Waukesha, Wisconsin to lead their friend into the woods and stab her 19 times, caused a widespread panic. Adults everywhere saw Slender Man’s influence—albeit fictional and web-based—as a potential threat to the wellbeing of their children and themselves.

Always a Maverick: Cynthia Marshall Made Her Mark Before Dallas

In February, Cynthia Marshall took over as CEO of the Dallas Mavericks—becoming the first African-American female CEO in the NBA. She also inherited an organization in crisis, after a Sports Illustrated story revealed rampant sexual harassment, incidents of domestic abuse, and a toxic culture.

Smile! You’re On Candid Camera Phone

It was many years ago, when I worked in a large city and I often had to walk several blocks from one large office complex to another during the course of the average work day. One afternoon I was trudging between buildings, head bent, lost in thought; I passed the entrance to a small, dark alleyway just as a new Porsche roared up from the gloom. The car fishtailed to a stop a few inches from my kneecaps, and I froze, immobile with fear. The driver was a budding Master of the Universe—thirtyish, well dressed, obviously used to money, privilege, and a certain quantum of power.

From the Fall 2018 Culture Shift issue of California.

Q&A: Roberta Grossman on the Untold Story of the Warsaw Ghetto

In 1940, a Polish historian named Emanuel Ringelblum and a group of 60 scholars, journalists, and local leaders, known as the Oyneg Shabes, set out to record Jewish life in the Warsaw Ghetto. The Nazis had taken over, and, unbeknownst to Ringelblum, a plan for the “Final Solution”—the systematic extermination of the Jewish people—was beginning to formulate.

Don’t Get Down, Get Outside: How Awe-Inspiring Nature Heals

About three years ago, UC Berkeley psychology PhD candidate Craig L. Anderson started investigating the components and implications of awe. Not the bad kind of awe—the sort you might experience if a mushroom cloud suddenly loomed on the horizon. But the good kind, specifically the variety associated with nature and all its manifold wonders: A sunset on a South Pacific atoll, icebergs calving from an Alaskan glacier, a hike through alpine meadows. Or in Anderson’s case, river-rafting.

In Hoboken, Humility Proves Stronger Than Hate

Hoboken, New Jersey: birthplace of Frank Sinatra, modern zippers, the edible ice cream cup and, if some historians are to be believed, baseball (although the good people of Cooperstown, New York might beg to differ).

And on November 7, 2017, Hoboken’s voters scored another first, electing Ravinder “Ravi” Singh Bhalla ‘95—who proudly calls himself “everything Donald Trump hates”—as the city’s 39thmayor and the first Sikh mayor in the city’s history.

The Mannequin In the Room

Years ago, I worked for a San Francisco woman who had a mannequin named Lady Lillian. I found that odd, but I was there to cook, not judge.

I took the job because it meant I could cook in a quiet space and would have access to health care.

A Diamond In The Rough: Ray Weschler’s Weekly Ballgame

On a cloudy Sunday in mid-May, Raymond Weschler chose Jim McGuire (Cal professor of biology) as his opposing captain, and teams were drawn up. Ray’s booming voice announced the lineup as chatting players finished stretching and headed out to the field. On the diamond at Berkeley’s magnificent Codornices Park, players are surrounded by towering oak trees, redwoods, walnuts and, lining the left-field foul line, Ponderosa pines, which are home to rowdy crows and, when struck by a foul ball, release a cloud of pollen.

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