Tell people you’ve invented “the world’s first origami kayak,” and you’re likely to be met with wry grins and chuckles. The mind runs to images of paddlers astride giant paper gewgaws, sodden and sinking in the surf. But, rest assured, the Oru Kayak is no joke: It’s a sleek, honest-to-god kayak that folds together in minutes from a single sheet of corrugated plastic, then folds again into a carrying case about the size and shape of an overstuffed garment bag.
When close to three dozen anchor rods snapped on the nearly completed new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge this spring, it was just the latest in a series of controversies that have dogged the $6.4 billion project since the start.
When I first got to know Joe Blum nearly 40 years ago, he was a union boilermaker working as a shipfitter and welder in the fabrication shops and shipyards of the Bay Area. Joe was a single dad and a workingman. He had dropped out of grad school at Berkeley to enlist in the progressive politics of the day, making common cause with his union mates. He hadn’t yet taken up photography in a serious way.
Warren Hellman was driving home to San Francisco from Stinson Beach a while back when he saw a woman hitchhiking. He pulled over. “I said, ‘Are you an axe murderer or anything?’
“Create your own future,” cried the new age tapes I chanced upon in a California bookstore a few years ago. Not far away, at the Crystal Cathedral in Orange County, the Reverend Robert H. Schuller was singing his own gospel of “Possibility Thinking” with the help of books called Your Future Is Your Friend and Success Is Never Ending, Failure Is Never Final. Around him, the latest immigrants, from Vietnam, Mexico, Taiwan, were acting with their feet on those very notions.