Palo Alto

Weekly Must Reads

An important read (sorry, by me) on how sequester-induced budget cuts have directly affected many living in affordable housing. Federal budget cuts raise affordable-housing rents

Obama’s back on the immigration reform train. Will he succeed in making something happen? Marco Rubio thinks no way; others continue to fight. More on the topic from Politico, here.

New Jersey will allow same-sex marriages starting Monday,  Oct. 21. Poised for ‘I Do’ as soon as New Jersey allows

A chronicle of Banksy hitting NYC.

Indulgent read: analysis of the selfie. Only in The New York Times’ Sunday Review. My Selfie, Myself

And one more on underground, themed pop-up dinners on the Peninsula. Eat (read) your heart out. Eating underground

Weekend Reads

Starting this fall, Bard College applicants can submit something other than SAT scores to get into the New York liberal arts school. What’s the catch? The alternative to taking the SAT is writing four 2,500 word research papers on pre-determined topics. Will this be a successful “attempt to return the application process to its fundamental goal: rewarding the best candidates, rather than just those who are best able to market themselves to admissions committees”? Read more: Didn’t Ace SAT? Just Design Microbe Transplant Research

What’s up in the world of Google Glass? A few Bay Area techies play with the wearable tech to go beyond what Google imagined.

A really interesting, in-depth investigative piece on unintentional/accidental shooting deaths of children. Children and Guns: The Hidden Toll

In honor of the Breaking Bad finale tonight: Breaking Up With ‘Breaking Bad’ Is Hard for Albuquerque

Some food for thought on Obamacare from the New York Times editorial board. Dawn of a Revolution in Health Care

Weekly Must Reads

Everyone except France has backed out of supporting an air strike in Syria, but Obama has said he’s set to move forward alone.  Obama Set for Limited Strike on Syria as British Vote No

The impact of the fire currently raging in northern California is also felt on the tourism industry in Yosemite. Interesting take: Wildfire Chokes Off Tourist Towns’ Livelihood. Some useful info/links about the fire can be found here.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the number of millenials living at home with their parents is still rising. More than a third of Americans between 18 and 31 are currently living with their parents, according to the Current Population Survey. Why?  The Atlantic tries to answer.

How do you create the perfect burger? It’s a daunting task, but with tricks of the trade and recipes from Joel Gott of Gott’s Roadside, Adam Fleischman of Umami Burger, Chef Ryan Shleton from the Palo Alto Grill and Mark Dittmer from Dittmer’s Gourmet Meats & Wurst Haus (old-school meat market in Los Altos) you might be well on your way to impressing friends and family at a Labor Day barbecue this weekend. Read my story, starting on page 20 of the Palo Alto Weekly’s virtual edition of this week’s paper. If you’re in the area, go out and grab the printed and very handsome edition.

A cool feature on various graffiti projects in New York, with a photo tour. I snagged some photos of my own of Bushwick and Manhattan grafitti/street art a few weeks back on a July 4th trip to New York. Read the article here: A Feast of Urban Scrawl, Luminous and Legal


Cronut Madness Has Arrived


In my city, mouth and digestive system. Needless to say, I was immediately infected by the cronut craze that started with Dominique Ansel’s magical pastry hybrid creation a few months ago and have been dying to try the thing itself. I was encouraged by the knockoffs popping up everywhere – on the East Coast, in the South, and finally, in San Francisco two weeks ago. And then I heard Paris Baguette in downtown Palo Alto was making their own version, called the NYC Croissant Donut.


I don’t particularly like Paris Baguette (that’s a nice way of putting it) but I knew I had to see what all the hype was about. It wasn’t going to be any Dominique Ansel product, but how bad can any deep-fried sweet be?


Not bad. After dropping in yesterday (silly me) to pick up a cronut and being told that Paris Baguette only sells these puppies at 11:30 a.m. at 2 p.m. and, not only that, you have to call to pre-order a minimum of two before those times. They were obviously already sold out for the day, so I called this morning and placed my order.


The verdict: Delicious, but way, way too rich. There’s not only that custard squiggle on top, but also lots o’ custard inside (see oozing above). The custard was too sweet and took away from the rest of the pastry. But otherwise, it was pretty great. Quite the indulgence, needless to say.


Sunday Reads

This is a great piece on the gentrification of Boyle Heights in L.A. At first, it reminded me of the gentrification stories about the Mission in San Francisco, but it’s slightly different – the concept in Boyle Heights is “gentefication,” gente meaning people in Spanish and the term implying that it’s not outsiders, but rather Boyle Heights residents or residents’ children themselves who are returning to the neighborhood to revamp and “gentify.” The detail in this article is great — one source opened up a slightly hipper coffee shop than the neighborhood is accustomed to four years ago, called Primero Taza (first cup), that redubbed Americano-style coffees “Chicano.” Read more: Los Angeles Neighborhood Tries to Change, but Avoid the Pitfalls

Another Sunday New York Times story on how getting a master’s degree online through MOOC’s might be the next big thing. The premise: the Georgia Institute of Technology plans to offer a master’s in computer science next January for $6,600 (versus the $45,000 on-campus price tag). Master’s Degree Is New Frontier of Study Online

After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, there were huge waves of Vietnamese immigration to the United States — to California and San Jose in particular. Many Vietnamese refugees were well-established doctors, business people, etc. in Vietnam. But upon their arrival to the United States – without knowing the language, system or culture – they basically lost their previous professional lives and thus, themselves. One Palo Alto man – now a retired psychologist who worked at the Palo Alto VA for many years — met and helped many of these refugees rebuild their lives in the United States. Read more (written  by yours truly): Refugees honor man who helped them start over

Another must read from my own paper (I’m biased, but still) is this week’s cover story, on cyberbullying and the sometimes harmful role that social media plays in young peoples’ lives today. Really powerful, interesting and well-reported.  Power to hurt: How social media impacts our kids

I like these, maybe you will too: Around the world in food-related photos taken this week from InsideScoopSf

Friday Reads

San Jose State University, which has been a pilot example for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), has suspended five Udacity online classes after more than 50 percent of students failed the final exams. The five  courses being suspended are elementary statistics, college algebra, entry level math, introduction to programming and introduction to psychology. Looks like it might be more about students having trouble “showing up” to class/the final because of jobs or having little college experience, but that’s a kink that needs to be worked out.

Bitcoins are on the rise, with the first business in Palo Alto (and the surrounding area, as far as I know, besides San Francisco) accepting the digital currency. Read my story on Coupa Café and the phenomenon of  e-cash: Paying the Silicon Valley Way

The Senate finally reached a deal on student loan rates this week, linking interest rates to the economy. Undergrads this fall could be borrowing at  3.9 percent rate, graduates at 5.4 percent and parents at 6.4 percent.

In response to the Rolling Stone cover story this week, featuring Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (dubbed “The Bomber”) looking a lot like Jim Morrison on the front of the magazine, Massachusetts State Police Sgt. Sean Murphy – a tactical photographer who has been with the police force for 25 years – gave Boston magazine hundreds of photographs that he took from “behind the scenes” of the manhunt for Tsarnaev in April. Murphy was not fired, but “relieved of duty” this week. He wrote:

As a professional law-enforcement officer of 25 years, I believe that the image that was portrayed by Rolling Stone magazine was an insult to any person who has every worn a uniform of any color or any police organization or military branch, and the family members who have ever lost a loved one serving in the line of duty. The truth is that glamorizing the face of terror is not just insulting to the family members of those killed in the line of duty, it also could be an incentive to those who may be unstable to do something to get their face on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

“I hope that the people who see these images will know that this was real. It was as real as it gets. This may have played out as a television show, but this was not a television show. Officer Dick Donohue almost gave his life. Officer Sean Collier did give his life. These were real people, with real lives, with real families. And to have this cover dropped into Boston was hurtful to their memories and their families. I know from first-hand conversations that this Rolling Stone cover has kept many of them up—again. It’s irritated the wounds that will never heal—again. There is nothing glamorous in bringing more pain to a grieving family.”

I’m all for controversial journalism, but it’s definitely food for thought. The photos are really, really chilling and really worth looking at.