Sunday 25 March 2012


Before I go into today's theme, let me clear up a minor mistake made by readers of the preceding post. "No" the post wasn't an April Fool's joke. No elaborate hoax was attempted, letting you believe in vain that I had produced a book. In fact, I wish I had thought about this a year ago, since it would have saved me a lot of money spent on printing 500 copies, buying tickets to the US and renting an apartment here for two months and a half. I could just have stayed at home and written virtual blog posts, without bothering to go through the travails of getting 300 pages of text and pictures to the printer!

This still leaves us with the question why I went back to Berkeley, carrying (figuratively speaking) 100 copies of the book with me? I can't really give you a good answer to that one, besides having had the vague ambition that people who live in this beautiful area described in the book should be made aware of the book's existence (not to speak of its greatness ;-)).

Just like my earlier trip two years ago, this one started without any prior planning. I will once again have to play it by ear, as concerns what to do with my 100 books. But not to worry, I have more than two months to bring this exercise to a successful conclusion.

Since coming here, I have already developed some ideas of how to get rid of the inventory. The most important is – don't laugh – to give away a substantive number of them. This may sound funky, but I think it is a basically good idea. My intention is to locate, as many as possible, of the persons figuring in pictures and text in the book and gifting them a copy. I trust you agree with me, that this may give a lot of pleasure to the people concerned and at the same time get them to appreciate a bit more this enchanted place on Earth, the East Bay area. As a side effect, they might also show the book to others, and – through word of mouth – get me some paying customers.

The second idea I have developed is to try to get people, that is, various types of association, to invite me to give a presentation of the book, in the form of signing, talking about its creation and showing a slideshow with the best pictures. I love to hear myself speak, so any audience audacious enough to invite me will certainly not be disappointed.

The question is just, how to I get various associations to know about me and become intrigued enough to invite me for a presentation. I do not have a good answer for that yet, but am working on it. Of course I will always be ready to support organizations who would like to invite me to support a good cause. The Americans love to support good causes and if it would please them to have a European author and photographer helping them out with it, I would be all for it and even be prepared to donate some books to that effect.

I am glad to say, that my stay here in Berkeley came off to a good start, with two invitations for presentations already in the first two weeks. For this I have to thank my landlady, who is of Japanese origin. My very first event took place yesterday, given for friends from the Berkeley Nikkei Senior Centre. I was glad to feel that the Japanese audience shared my appreciation of the beauty in all things, especially as it can be found here in Berkeley and the Bay at large.

The third idea I am now starting to work on, is to develop a website for the book. The site is in its first design stages but I know already what I would like to do with it. I intend to put, each month, one Chapter of the book on the site, with text and pictures. This brings me back to my original idea of gifting a copy of the book to anyone figuring prominently in the book. I would love to have those friends helping me out in producing some bonus material to add to the various chapters. For instance, each Chapter could ideally contain an interview with one of the persons figuring in the Chapter. Even more desirable, the person in question could be asked to read the text of the Chapter, while I document the reading on video and put the video on the site. I could of course read in the text myself, but – with my terrible accent – that may frighten people off instead of enticing them to dive deeper into the website.

In line with all those ideas, I have already started to contact people here for meetings to move things forward. Hopefully, I will get a lot of further ideas from them of what to do with my books. But, whatever comes out of those meetings, I am convinced that meeting a lot of people from the area will not only be a learning experience but also a very pleasurable experience for me.

Sunday 18 March 2012


You thought that this blog had come to an end, admit it! So did I, but blogging, like history, tends to go in circles, so in a way we are back at the beginning when it all started.

When writing this, I am sitting again in my apartment on Stuart Street in Berkeley. Rain is gushing outside, temperatures are in their 50s (10 degrees Celsius for you Europeans) and there is little else for me to do but working my trusted McBook Pro.

Whilst looking out into a rather hopeless fall of waters, I am consoling myself with the hope that my book will arrive from the printer tomorrow or at least the day after tomorrow. I have ordered 100 copies to be sent to me here, with the rest destined for Sweden and Austria; and I hope that cross-continent transport will work smoothly and bring me my books in pristine condition.

Did I say "BOOK"? "Yes", dear readers and friends, this blog has been reincarnated in a paper product, I have gone RETRO in this computer day and age. If you would care to back read some of the comments to this blog (always welcome!) you couldn't help find there some persistent demands to make a book out of my humble scribblings! Your wish was my command, dear readers. I have spent the better part of the two years since my first visit to Berkeley in abiding by your wishes.

Does it really take two years to produce a book, you say? Well, if you have the ambition to present a high quality product and, furthermore, to do all the work on your own, two years appears rather short. I  am proud to say that the book contains most of the material presented to you in the blog. This means that it contains almost 300 pages of text and pictures. I have tried to preserve, as far as possible, the intrinsic quality of the blog. Some editorial adaptations had to made, of course, but I hope that the freshness and immediacy of my earlier writing have been preserved. What is new in the book is that the 100 best pictures are being presented in full page size. I hope that this will bring out their full potential.
Of course, the proof of the pudding lies in the eating (buying and reading in this case)!

To give you a foretaste of the book, take a look at the title picture to this blog post. It is also the title picture of the book. It shows the University of California at its best, I trust, and I can tell you that this picture takes some mighty digital post-processing to accomplish; you would not be able to produce it by simply pointing your camera at the motive and pushing the button, take my word for it!