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The 10 best things about Berkeley

I’ve been in Berkeley over two weeks and leave in a couple of days for Palo Alto, then Monterey.  Obviously I have a  shallow impression of the city, but here’s what I’ve liked best:

1. ) The way people age here.  I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: white-haired people cycling, hiking, even a man pushing a scooter around the Berkeley campus.  They not only know how to age, they know how to have fun. It should be studied.

2) Nearly every other car is a hybrid.

3.)  Nearly EVERY car has bumper stickers expressing the convictions of the driver.   Vegans Ate my Lawn, Obama ’08 (which we have at home in Toronto), Yes on 8, No on 8 (one foresees a nasty crash at Shattuck and Vine). I haven’t seen the bumper sticker we saw in Toronto that says Republicans for Voldemort but I’m sure somebody has it.

4.) the campus at Berkeley has a tower called Campanile which looks like it was shipped from medieval Italy. Bells toll the hour throughout the day and into the evening and, seemingly whenever the carilloneur feels like it, beautiful bell-song peals out over the campus.  Maybe I wouldn’t feel so good about this aspect of Berkeley if I were a student recovering from a bender.

5.) the squirrels here match the redwood trees, with lovely rusty-tipped fur.  A tip of the hat to Mr. Darwin.

6.) Sit yourself down in most cafes or restaurants and the conversation around you will be worth listening to.   Some topics I’ve heard so far include Native representation on education councils, strategies for winning a debate against hundreds of other high school students (this weekend Berkeley hosted the California Invitational and there were lots of ill-fitting suits walking around), and something to do with physics.

7.) Climbing the hills, believe it or not.  For some reason it’s easier than coming down.

8.) Noah’s bagels, toasted, with a low-fat shmeer.

9.) Watching the Winter Olympics opening ceremonies from a country not my own and actually hearing wonder expressed at the beauty of my country. Although, conversely, it is getting a little hard to listen to NBC’s gung-ho enthusiasm for the American team.

10.) The view from the hills above Berkeley.  The Golden Gate Bridge rises above the mist at the horizon and the hills and ships seem to swim in it, all against a pink-and-yellow sunset.  Beautiful.

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