What is Lump Charcoal and Why Use It?


From THE LUMP CHARCOAL DATABASE

[Years ago, when I learned Alice Waters over at Chez Panisse in Berkeley used Lazzari Mesquite Charcoal in her restaurant grilling, I converted from briquettes and have used only Mesquite since. The co-op now carries lump charcoal and so does the Farm Supply. I get large bags of Lazzari Mesquite from Harvest Market in Fort Bragg when we are over on the coast. Lamb sausage hot dogs, and lamb burgers, from Owens Family Farm in Hopland, over mesquite... oh, yeah! I'm headed to the Farmers Market right now. And: Is lump charcoal a local business opportunity? (see photos below) -DS]

What is charcoal?

In general, wood charcoal is a substance obtained by partial burning or destructive distillation of wood. It is largely pure carbon. Wood charcoal is prepared by heating wood in the absence of oxygen. In this process volatile compounds in the wood (e.g., water, hydrogen, methane and tars) pass off as vapors into the air, and the carbon is converted into charcoal. (Tar is a generic name for big, smoky, sticky molecules that form liquids when they’re cool. The tars, in particular, can contain carcinogenic compounds, like benzo-A-pyrene.) With the volatile component driven off, you are left with wood charcoal that is about 20 to 25-percent of the original volume of the wood. It’s chiefly carbon, with traces of volatile chemicals and ash. When it burns, it won’t produce as much smoke as burning wood, and it will burn long, hot and steady. Charcoal, being almost pure carbon, yields a larger amount of heat in proportion to its volume than is obtained from a corresponding quantity of wood.

What forms does charcoal come in?

As far as cooking is concerned, there are two main forms, lump charcoal and briquettes. Lump charcoal is charcoal which has not been formed into briquettes. Briquettes are the pillow shaped little pieces of compressed ground charcoal.

Which is better, lump or briquettes?

Tony Miksak: Heard At The Bookshop


From TONY MIKSAK
Words on Books KZYX
Thanks to Tom Davenport

I’ve been out of the bookselling biz for some time now. That old familiar monkey on my back bothers someone else with his bad breath, scratchy claws and constant demands for attention.

This week it all came back – the adventure, the heartbreak, the humor of working in an independent bookstore. It seems that bookseller Cynthia Christensen of Book Stop in Hood River, Oregon, recently came down with pneumonia and laryngitis, and her husband stepped in for a couple of weeks in her place.

He kept notes:

“Do you have this used?” (Customer holds up a book just released in paperback that day.) “It was just released today.” “But you’re a used bookstore.” “Sorry, they haven’t figured out how to print them used.”

“Do you have a restroom? My son needs to poop.”

“I’m just browsing.”

“I’m just killing time.”

“Can my kids stay here while I’m eating next door?”

“There’s a hair on this sofa.”

“Can I make you a deal on this book?”

“Have you seen my wife?”

“Do you have maps?” (Looks at map, copies directions, incorrectly folds map, leaves it on the sofa.)

“Where am I?”

Culture of Narcissism


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Anderson Valley

“Every age develops its own peculiar forms of pathology, which express in exaggerated form its underlying character structure.” ~Christopher Lasch

A few weeks before my second novel was to be published in 1980, I got a call from my editor at Simon & Schuster saying that Sales had decided my title wasn’t strong enough and they needed a more seductive replacement. Mackie was the title of my novel and the name of its central character, a charismatic narcissist on the verge of a nervous breakdown. As it happened, I was in the midst of reading Christopher Lasch’s remarkable book The Culture of Narcissism, and therein found the expression “forgotten impulses”, which Sales adored. Thus my novel was published as Forgotten Impulses and garnered the following from The New York Times. “Piercingly real eroticism told in an ear-perfect rendering.” Oh, for such a review today.

For those not familiar with The Culture of Narcissism, I will briefly synopsize this seminal work. Seminal is an appropriate adjective, for The Culture of Narcissism spawned dozens of other works in response to it. Lasch, a historian with a special interest in the history of psychotherapy, theorized that the social developments of the 20th century, particularly World War II and its aftermath, suburbanization, consumerism, the movie industry, and the conquest of our psyches by television, created a perfect storm of conditioning from which emerged a society of narcissists: individuals with no reliable inner sense of self, and thus prone to fixations on celebrities and extreme vulnerability to manipulation by mass media.

Banning Lawn Chemicals


From SANDRA STEINGRABER
Author, Living Downstream

DDT is now so universally used that in most minds  the product takes on the harmless aspect of the familiar. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Harmless aspect of the familiar was the phrase that leapt into my mind when I watched a scantily clad woman—the day was hot and sunny—lie down in a green sward of grass in front of the Women’s Center on the campus of DePauw University in Indiana. Next to her waved a small yellow flag that warned passers-by to keep off the grass as it had just been sprayed with pesticides.

I guess the word irony might also have applied. On the other side of the flag, a card table was piled high with copies of my book, Living Downstream, which, among other topics, discusses the dangers of lawn chemicals. The books were for sale. I was positioned up on the porch, encouraged by my faculty host to chat with students, drink punch, and sign books as part of an informal reception before my all-campus Earth Day lecture.

Yes, I intervened. The reclining woman seemed bewildered by my concern for her, pointing out that the yellow flags are so ubiquitous that no one notices them. She reluctantly promised to shower and launder her clothes before attending the evening’s lecture.

No flags wave from the lawns in many parts of Canada. Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island—and many cities across the rest of the nation—have expressly outlawed the cosmetic use of pesticides. Within these provinces and municipalities, the use of synthetic pesticides to improve the appearance of lawns and, in some places, gardens is now illegal…

more here
~~

The Digger Dogs of Last Chance Hollow


From BRUCE PATTERSON
4Mules.com
Anderson Valley

All us humans need something to distinguish ourselves from the dirt. Don’t matter what it is: a human will take pride in anything. If one fellah takes pride in having traveled the world round, the next will take just as much in never having laid eyes on anything beyond what he can see from his porch. If one fellah is generally acknowledged to hold clear title to the strongest, hardworkingest and sweetest-tempered mule in the whole valley, another will claim to have the laziest, stupidest and most ornery. A fellah with the fastest horse won’t take kindly to a stranger with a reputation for gambling that rides into town aboard a sleek and feisty colt. The township’s undisputed checkers champ will generally hold a low opinion of the fellah who’s even more highly regarded as being the best damned horseshoe-chucker, or the most crack with a long barrel or deck of cards.

It’s a well known scientific fact that you can take a ragamuffin hillbilly and have him win a giant lottery jackpot and, at least until the novelty wears off, he’s gonna be as happy as a hog rooting around in hog heaven. But make it so that no-good brother-in-law of his wins a jackpot the same size or bigger, and he’s going to feel like his own good fortune has been cheapened. If he’s the sort of fellah whose pride is easily wounded and hardly mended, the other winning himself a jackpot will take all the fun out of him winning his.

Damnest thing, human pride. As far back as there’s been head-scratchers, they’ve been scratching their heads over that one.

On Shirley Sherrod: The heroism of responding to the low-life, racist, right-wing smear campaigns


From GLENN GREENWALD

[...] But — just as happened with Octavia Nasr and so many before her, including the now-destroyed ACORN — the blinding, lying, depressingly common right-wing hysteria churned out by Brietbart/Fox meant that no nuances were permitted, no reason could breathe, and few people had the courage to defend Sherrod or even demand that she be allowed to speak before being thrown to the trash heap.

And that’s where the truly significant and rare courage of Sherrod becomes so consequential.  Unlike so many who are caught in similar right-wing/media smear storms and (understandably) back down, Sherrod refused to meekly slink away.  She conspicuously refused to apologize for things that merited no apology.  Rather than legitimize the accusations with defensive self-justifications, she put the blame squarely where it belonged:  on Brietbart, on the NAACP for condemning her without all the facts, and on the Obama administration for demanding her “resignation.”  And as a result of her refusal to allow these false smears to go unchallenged and the low-life smear artists to be rewarded, the true facts have emerged.  The actual culprits in this episode — basically everyone except her and the white couple who came forward to defend her — are clearly identified and exposed, with their credibility in tatters.  And it’s hard to imagine the administration’s not reversing itself and offering to re-hire her, thus being forced to reverse a serious injustice.

Gene Logsdon: Despite Gloom, Things Are Looking Up For Garden Farming


From GENE LOGSDON
OrganicToBe.org

There were several times so far this year when I almost wished I lived in a high rise luxury apartment in New York far removed from the paltry world of cutworms and purslane.  First the crows ate up my whole first planting of open-pollinated field corn and when I replanted, too deep for the crows to peck out, several oceans of water fell on the cornfield and hardly a fourth of the kernels came up.

However, the sweet corn in the garden grew just fine. The raccoons and deer thought so too and somehow outwitted the electric fence. The score of the first planting: coons 65 ears; deer 18, squirrels 11, Carol and Gene, 8. And the eight were still immature because if we had waited one more night, they’d have been gone too. Still we had second, third, fourth and fifth plantings coming on and were getting the electric fence more fine-tuned for the job. So?  A storm flattened planting No. 3. Why it bypassed most of planting No. 2 next to No. 3, I do not know. Meanwhile, the biweekly deluges also kept our onions from growing much beyond the size of ping pong balls and peas produced only about half. To top off all other calamities, the wheat crop in this part of the eastern cornbelt became infected with a  fungal disease with the appetizing name of vomitoxin and lots of it can’t be used for human food and probably not animals either.

To raise food means to understand that Americans constantly totter on the brink of starvation and don’t know it. Society worries instead about where LeBron James is going to  play basketball.  We need a LeBron James of garden farming to put peoples’ heads back on straight…

more here
~~

As Demand Grows for Locally Raised Meat, Farmers Turning to Mobile Slaughterhouses


From WASHINGTON POST

When Kathryn Thomas wanted to turn her sheep into lamb chops, the federal government required her to haul them across Puget Sound on a ferry and then drive three hours to reach a suitable slaughterhouse.

Not anymore. These days, the slaughterhouse — and the feds — come to her.

A 53-foot tractor-trailer rattles up to her farm on Lopez Island, the rear doors open and the sheep are led inside, where the butcher and federal meat inspector are waiting. When the job is done, the team heads out to the next farm.

The slaughtermobile — a stainless steel industrial facility on wheels — is catching on across the country, filling a desperate need in a burgeoning movement to bring people closer to their food. It is also perhaps one of the most visible symbols of a subtle transformation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, long criticized for promoting big agribusiness.

Under the Obama administration and the 2008 farm bill passed by Congress, the USDA is shifting attention to small and mid-size farms, encouraging organic and sustainable agriculture, and investing in projects to bring locally grown meat and produce to consumers.

“There is unbelievable consumer interest in local agriculture that we haven’t seen in decades,” said Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. She is overseeing the agency’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” program, designed to revive the processing, marketing and distribution networks that once made small farming viable but disintegrated in the last 30 years as U.S. agriculture went through a dramatic consolidation.

Janie Sheppard: Murals in the Mission


From JANIE SHEPPARD
Mendocino County

Inspired by the Ukiah controversy over murals, Laura Fogg and I decided to do some community mural viewing.  Laura wanted to investigate the murals in San Francisco’s Mission District and I was game to go along.

We started early, 7 a.m., stopping at the Flying Goat Coffee House in Healdsburg for scones and coffee, and arriving in the Mission around 10 a.m.  We parked easily near 17th and South Van Ness, very close to our first stop:  Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP), near the intersection of Mission and 17th Streets.  Facebook says about CAMP:  that it chose social inclusiveness and aesthetic variety as its themes.  The result is more than 100 murals on and around Clarion Alley by Latino, Caucasian, African-American, Native American, Asian, Indian, Queer and disabled artists of all ages and all levels of experience.  Here are a couple of the murals.

Balmy Alley, between Treat Avenue and Harrison Street, offered more treats, including a scary robot taking over the Mission District.  A resident explained that when the Dot.com economy offered high incomes to many energetic young people, they chose to move to the Mission, threatening its local culture.  The resulting robot mural depicts the crushing power of dot.com monster.

Gardening for the Next Generation


From DEBRA ESCHMEYER
Civil Eats

Gardening is hot, and I don’t mean just sweaty work in July while you hoe the purslane and harvest beans, squash, and zucchini.  Working the land is a trendy topic from web-rooted FarmVille to the White House to the written word.

Part of the reason for the new interest in the simple but yet so intensely complex act of growing food is that we have a clear problem and myriad solutions. The problem: obesity rates increased in 28 states in the past year. As recently reported in “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2010,” obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges our country has faced. With 1 in 3 US children age 2-19 overweight or obese, we need to end this trend and fortunately, many organizations, initiatives, and resources aim to solve child obesity in a generation.

Part of the solution starts with students and a seed. The benefits of gardening are far beyond the average 270 calories burned while digging in the dirt. The Royal Horticulture Society reported in new research that “as well as helping children lead happier, healthier lives today, gardening helped them acquire the essential skills they need to fulfill their potential in a rapidly-changing world and make a positive contribution to society as a whole.”

Our society craves a connection to a sense of place, to where our food comes from, to the community that used to surround a meal. We are so far removed from agriculture that over 20 million people daily use a mouse instead of a hoe to harvest on FarmVille. While living in DC during snowpocalypse 2010, I achieved level 30 in FarmVille in a few short weeks—albeit extremely frustrated at the ridiculousness of never actually ‘harvesting’ the farm animals and collecting chocolate milk from a brown cow.

Rep. Alan Grayson: The Republicans are trying to revive an America of desperate straits and cheap labor


From digby
Hullabaloo

[Unemployment Insurance] “The Republicans are thinking, why don’t they just sell some of their stock? If they’re in really dire straits maybe they can take some of their art collection and send it to the auctioneer. And if they’re in deep deep trouble maybe the unemployed can sell one of their yachts. That’s what the Republicans are thinking right now. But that’s not the life of ordinary people…”

“I will say to the Republicans who have blocked this bill for months, to those who have kept food out of the mouths of children, I will say to them now, may God have mercy on your souls”
~~

Dan Hamburg: Pandora’s Box in the Gulf — Does Hope Remain?


From LEWIS SEILER & DAN HAMBURG
CommonDreams.org

[...]

1.  Why was BP allowed to drill in this location?  Both the MMS and BP geologists cautioned against drilling in the location of the Deepwater Horizon due to evidence of a highly volatile methane bubble beneath the seabed.  They warned that if this bubble was disturbed and exploded, it could cause a 200 foot tsunami that would virtually wipe out six Gulf states!  In spite of all this, MMS waived environmental impact studies for the rig and well.

2. Why aren’t all oil companies exploiting the land and seas of the United States, required to drill relief wells and to have equipment at the ready to deal with accidents?

3.  Why aren’t the perpetrators of this disaster being charged for negligence, manslaughter, or worse?  Whistleblowers pointed out before the explosion that the last several hundred feet of the well borehole lacked protective cement casing, a dangerous situation that increased the chances for an explosive event to occur.  Just five hours before the rig went up in flames, an expert who’d worked with the US Army extinguishing oil fires in Iraq was flown to the rig for consultation.  He informed BP that if they continued to pump saltwater into the hole it would blow.  He then demanded immediate evacuation for himself and his men.  The Transocean Corporation, whose blowout preventer failed to operate on April 20, advised BP to stop drilling after receiving negative pressure test results.  Despite these warnings BP did nothing, allowing eleven men to die, and inflicting incalculable damage on the lives of Gulf coast residents, the environment and economy that will take decades, if not centuries to recover.

Michael Laybourn: Our Real Teachers — At Grace Hudson Now


From MICHAEL LAYBOURN
Hopland

Hot Tip:
Go down to the Grace Hudson Museum and see Seaweed, Salmon and Manzanita Cider, a California Indian Feast exhibition. This exhibit is a gem. Not only to see and taste what the the California Natives ate in past times and still do to some extent, but to sense the needed equilibrium necessary to live on this planet.

I saw the opening exhibit Sunday and rediscovered some the fundamental truths about the balances of life we all need to keep in mind. The show is called a feast and it is — a feast for the mind as well as the mouth. Here are some quotes from the (cook)book that is sold with the show. The book is put together by Margaret Dubin and Sara-Larus Tolley. Buy it — It is well worth it. Learn something.

From the Foreword by Kathleen Rose Smith (Bodega Miwok and Dry Creek Pomo):

Before Euro-American domination, more than 1000 nations (including bands and tribes) thrived in the place called California… Such long-term rootedness was possible due to the knowledge, respect, and restraint with which Native Californians approached plants and animals that sustained them. Strict rules governed their interactions with the environment: they gathered plants only at certain times; they burned, pruned, and dug in prescribed ways and at carefully calculated times, and they gave something back for whatever they took. The “untrammeled wilderness” the Europeans thought they discovered was in fact a carefully managed ecosystem…

My mother told me this when I was young. I didn’t understand what she meant then, but I do now. She said we had many relatives and we all had to live together; so we’d better learn how to get along with each other. She said it wasn’t too hard to do. It was just like taking care of your younger brother or sister. You got to know them, find out what they like and what made them cry, so you’d know what to do. If you took good care of them you didn’t have to work as hard. Sounds like it’s not true, but it is. When that baby gets to be a man or woman they’re going to help you out.

Book Reviews: Going ‘off the grid’ — what it means and what it takes and why


From LA TIMES

Eight books about moving away from the city and living without power, running water, cars and in some cases, companionship.

It’s all Thoreau’s fault. In the whirring, churning American imagination, that vast and lovely virtual world — fed by books and stories — with territory one can still “light out” for, Thoreau is the guy who showed it was possible to get off the merry-go-round, the constant forward movement, and still walk into town from time to time. Plant yourself within spitting distance of civilization, refuse to participate in the orgy of commercialism, refuse to pay taxes if you don’t agree with how they’re spent. You don’t need everything they tell you that you need. You can do more for yourself than they tell you that you can. The message was political, spiritual, practical and environmental. It contained a fine amount of humor, a pinch of self-doubt and a smidgeon of hypocrisy. Today we would call Thoreau’s move to the banks of Walden Pond going off the grid.

Although books about carving out your own piece of the pie have been written ever since the Transcendentalists took issue with the direction that American democracy was taking, never before have I seen the current deluge of books on how to escape the American Dream. I grew up in New York City in an apartment full of them — my mother spent her short life trying to get out of Dodge and into the hills, though the schools she attended surely did not teach survival skills. I’ve chosen seven new tomes that represent various approaches, or should I say escape routes, but there are at least a dozen more. Why? Why now?

Nick Rosen sees going off the grid as a political choice. In “Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America,” he writes that corporate greed, massive layoffs, healthcare wars, ecological disasters have caused many true believers to question the American Dream. “Most of the people I met on my tour of America,” writes the British Rosen, “are losing faith in the grid, both in its literal and metaphorical sense. They don’t feel a sufficient advantage to being inside the fabric of society.” The grid was created…  more here
~
See also Why Thoreau Is Still Relevant
~~

The Dirty F@#*ing Hippies Were Right!


From DAILY KOS
Thanks to Bruce McCloskey

Click On Post Title For Viewing

[This gives me both deep sorrow, and a great, sustainable joy! Living here among the last outposts in Ecotopia, we should always celebrate our fun-loving creativity, foresight, and wisdom, and never, never, never let down the good fight. -DS]

It’s hard to believe but there is still a lot of hippie hating going on. It can even be found here at daily kos from time to time. How ignorant or brainwashed does one have to be to rail against those who tried to save us from the fate that bedevils us now? If we’d heeded their cries for sanity and change we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in. Not saying it would be utopia but it wouldn’t be the hell on earth the establishment conservatives have created for us.

Imagine no possesions, I wonder if you can, No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people Sharing all the world.

John Lennon – Imagine

The hippies were powerful proponents of universal brotherhood, peace, love, tolerance, understanding and ecological stewardship. They tried to change our culture and point out that it was superficial, mean, hateful, wasteful, rapacious, violent, greedy, selfish and unsustainable.

And that, I think, was the handle – that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of old and evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look west, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark – that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

Hunter S. Thompson

If the hippies and their message had prevailed we wouldn’t be pouring trillions of dollars into stupid and immoral wars of choice. We’d have (arguably) switched to alternative forms of energy, adjusted our lifestyles, reined in the greedheads,

A Conservative Groks Obama


From Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post

In the political marketplace, there’s now a run on Obama shares. The left is disappointed with the president. Independents are abandoning him in droves. And the right is already dancing on his political grave, salivating about November when, his own press secretary admitted Sunday, Democrats might lose the House.

I have a warning for Republicans: Don’t underestimate Barack Obama.

Consider what he has already achieved. Obamacare alone makes his presidency historic. It has irrevocably changed one-sixth of the economy, put the country inexorably on the road to national health care and, as acknowledged by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus but few others, begun one of the most massive wealth redistributions in U.S. history.

Second, there is major financial reform, which passed Congress on Thursday. Economists argue whether it will prevent meltdowns and bailouts as promised. But there is no argument that it will give the government unprecedented power in the financial marketplace. Its 2,300 pages will create at least 243 new regulations that will affect not only, as many assume, the big banks but just about everyone, including, as noted in one summary (the Wall Street Journal), “storefront check cashiers, city governments, small manufacturers, home buyers and credit bureaus.”

Third is the near $1 trillion stimulus, the largest spending bill in U.S. history. And that’s not even counting nationalizing the student loan program, regulating carbon emissions by Environmental Protection Agency fiat, and still-fitful attempts to pass cap-and-trade through Congress.

But Obama’s most far-reaching accomplishment is his structural alteration of the U.S. budget. The stimulus, the vast expansion of domestic spending, the creation of ruinous deficits as far as the eye can see are not easily reversed.

Conservatism is an Ideology of Death


From GEORGE LAKOFF
Common Dreams

The issue is death – death gushing at ten thousand pounds per square inch from a mile below the sea, tens of thousands of barrels of death a day. Not just death to eleven human beings. Death to sea birds, sea turtles, dolphins, fish, oyster beds, shrimp, beaches; death to the fishing industry, tourism, jobs; and death to a way of life based on the beauty and bounty of the Gulf.

Many, perhaps a majority, of the Gulf residents affected are conservatives, strong right-wing Republicans, following extremist Governors Bobby Jindal and Haley Barbour. What those conservatives are not saying, and may be incapable of seeing, is that conservatism itself is largely responsible for what happened, and that conservatism is a continuing disaster for conservatives who live along the Gulf.

Conservatism is an ideology of death. It was conservative laissez-faire free market ideology – that maximizing profit comes first – that led to:

* the corrupt relationship between the oil companies and the Interior Department staff that was supposedly regulating them
* minimizing cost by not drilling relief wells
* the principle that oil companies could be responsible their own risk assessments on drilling
* maximizing profit by outsourcing risk assessment that told them what they wanted to hear: zero risk!
* maximizing profit by minimizing cost of materials
* maximizing profit by failing to pay cleanup crews and businesses for their losses
* focusing only on profit by failing to test the cleanup methods to be used if something went wrong
* minimizing cost by sacrificing the health of cleanup crews, refusing to allow them to use respirator masks to protect against toxic fumes.

It is conservative profit-above-all market fundamentalism that has led other oil companies to mount a massive PR campaign to isolate BP as an anomalous “bad actor” and to argue

Todd Walton: The Double


From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Anderson Valley

I still find it hard to fathom that there are men walking the earth who resemble me so exactly that even their close friends can’t tell us apart. But ever since I was a teenager, and until quite recently (I’m approaching sixty), I have had several remarkable experiences of being taken for someone I am not. These were not incidents of mistaken identity at a distance. No, these were encounters with people—complete strangers—who saw me up close, studied me, spoke to me, and swore that I was the person they thought I was—a person they knew intimately. And when I told them I was Todd, and not Mike or Paul or Huey or Jason, they thought I was either joking or lying. Furthermore, they told me I possessed this other person’s voice and physical mannerisms to such an uncanny degree, that if I was not the person they believed me to be, I must be his identical twin—or his ghost.

I was a junior in high school—1966—when I was first mistaken so completely for someone else. I was coming out of Discount Records in Menlo Park, California, when an immaculate two-door 1956 Chevrolet, black top, gray bottom, pulled up beside me, and the driver rolled down his window to say, “Hey, Mike. Listen to this. Something doesn’t sound right.” Then he gunned his engine. “See what I mean? Carburetor?”

“I don’t know who you are,” I said, shrugging politely. “And I don’t know anything about cars.”

“Mike?” he said, incredulously. “You’re not Mike?”

“I’m sorry. No.”

“Wow. You look just like him. Clothes and everything. And you sound like him, too.”

My outfit—blue jeans and T-shirt and high-top tennis shoes—was not particularly original in that era,

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