Happy Wanderer: For unique San Fransciso food tour, try ‘Inside the Kitchen’

Fortune Cookie Factory

Fortune Cookie Factory

MERCURYNEWS.COM: November 22, 2013

It’s Saturday afternoon and I’ve got a bird’s-eye view of one of the largest Chinatowns outside of Asia. Laundry flutters on the roof near a jade-colored pagoda. Four iron crosses stretch toward the heavens from Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral, built by Chinese laborers in 1854. In the distance, a smattering of sailboats punctuates the Bay. Continue reading

Happy Wanderer: For a unique stop, try Hyatt Regency SFO

HILLS NEWSPAPERS: November 9, 2012

His steely eyes stared at me from across the sweeping lobby. Long hair tumbling down his back, he wore black boots and armor and spoke in a strange, guttural tongue.

I’ve met a lot of men in my travels, but never a Klingon. In fact, dozens of these Star Trek aliens were staying at the Hyatt Regency SFO recently as part of a science fiction and fantasy convention. Continue reading

Oakland Zoo to unveil new veterinary hospital

MONTCLARION: October 5, 2012

Lions and turtles and condors — oh my. The Oakland Zoo opens its impressive 17,000-square-foot veterinary hospital on Oct. 11. This handsome cedar structure at the top of the hill will be a lifesaver for animals of all stripes. There’ll be two veterinarians on staff (in addition to zoo director Dr. Joel Parrott), two vet techs and interns from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Continue reading

Happy Wanderer: The San Mateo Coast


In all the Bay Area, who knew that Half Moon Bay would be a great place to pick up chicks?

I’m talking about the feathered kind, the kind popping up in coops around the Bay. Day in and day out, Half Moon Bay Feed and Fuel sells more baby chicks than their competitors — some 200 peepers a week. And these are not your father’s hens. Some lay white eggs, and some lay light brown. But some chicks lay pink, green and blue. Think Easter eggs without the dye.

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Black & White Ball on Steroids

Civic Center turns into a carnival for Pow Wow


It was the Black and White Ball on steroids — cakebread cabernet flowing like water; lavish presentations of food every few feet and pulsating entertainment on several stages.

The climax of five days of International Pow Wow was a party of epic proportions, where Civic Center became a sort of San Francisco Disneyland, complete with a Ferris wheel and confetti raining down on the crowd during a laser light show on the front of City Hall.

City Hall with Stripes

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A little bit of country comes to Oakland

HILLS NEWSPAPERS: January 14, 2011

The three guitars resting on her living room couch tell the story. “These are the girls” says Oakland hills singer/songwriter Caren Armstrong — each instrument poised to be played by an artist who can make the strings sing.

Mention the name to any local guitarist and you’ll find Armstrong has a big following. The free-spirited redhead with hair the color of warm cherry wood teaches as many as 25 lessons a week in her cozy hills apartment and is a regular in acoustic clubs around the Bay. But her monthly songwriter’s showcase may well be her signature event. Continue reading

Boy plays piano to help children around the world

OAKLAND TRIBUNE: January 6, 2011

For many kids, playing the piano is a rite of passage that ranks somewhere between breaking a bone and getting braces. But for 13-year-old Omar Abdul-Rahim, the piano holds the key to helping other children.

On Sunday, this eighth-grader at Corpus Christi School in Piedmont will play a benefit concert for the George Mark Children’s House in San Leandro, a hospice for terminally ill children. It’s his second fundraising performance in a year, and it underscores how even a child can make an important contribution in the world.

Omar’s epiphany came after hearing a speaker in church make a plea for donations for children living in the slums of Calcutta. After Mass, he went up to the representative and said, “I don’t have any money, but I can play the piano.” Continue reading