Santa Clara Mag Blog
Santa Clara Magazine's blog, updated whenever the writing goblin visits the editorial staff of the magazine.
Thursday, May. 5, 2011
L.A. readers can catch Carroll Kearley in Venice on Saturday
In the past two years Carroll Kearley ’52 has published two collections of poetry: Deity-Alphabets and The Armenian Watchmaker (Tebot Bach, 2009 and 2010), which both portray vivid portraits of humanity from varied spectrums.
In the first, Kearley depicts the homeless on the streets of Los Angeles and evokes themes of endurance, creativity, and beauty. For his second collection, he takes to a global stage to emphasize the fortitude of the human spirit amid a century strife with tragedy.
Kearley is an emeritus professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University, where he taught for 30 years and currently resides in Los Angeles.
Folks in the LA area: Hear Kearley read on May 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center located at 681 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291. General admission for the event is $7, students/seniors/children are $5 and members are free.
Here's a taste of Kearley's work, from Deity-Alphabets:
I have known numerous homeless:
here for a while, most move on.
If you talk about them,
Tell it right or tell it not.
Just find an overhang,
a space for crawling in,
a doorway to an establishment
where somebody says, “Okay.”
Pulled each day by necessity’s
gravitation, each lodger
seeks a place for night-long rest,
before getting on the next day.
Like boy scouts on a weekend trip,
many sleep in the open air.
A few have a bed inside somewhere,
but many roll up in a sleeping bag.
Billy D is not a pleasant person.
“Life sucks,” is his appraisal.
“You ask where I sleep a night?
Right here, in my godamned wheelchair.”
He leans back rigidly defiant,
speaks his mind, keeps
direct eye contact, beyond deception,
no frills of customary propriety.
“Right here on this stinking sidewalk.
Nobody takes care of me.
An extra buck would be a sign
of your genuine concern.”
— Liz Carney '11
Santa Clara Mag intern
Thursday, Apr. 28, 2011
Two Santa Clara grads on the road promoting their new book, The Miracle Chase.
A pair of Santa Clara alumnae—Katie Mahon ’78
and Mary Beth Phillips ’76
are on tour for the book they co-wrote with friend Joan Luise Hill. The Miracle Chase: Three Women, Three Miracles and a Ten Year Journey of Discovery and Friendship
) centers on the stories of three women, who each overcome tragedy—an escape from serial killer Ted Bundy, the blindness of a daughter, and the catastrophic illness of a son. They're tales of faith, friendship, and survival.
You can meet Mahon and Phillips in person in California, Colorado, and Massachusetts in the months ahead at these readings and talks.
St. Monica's and Santa Maria Churches — Moraga and Orinda, Calif.
Tuesday, May 3, 10 a.m.
1001 Camino Pablo
Kepler's Books — Menlo Park, Calif.
Reading and Book Signing
Thursday, May 5, 7 p.m.
1010 El Camino Real
A Great Good Place for Books — Oakland, Calif.
Reading and Book Signing
Friday, May 6, 7 p.m.
6120 La Salle Avenue, Montclair Village
Abbot Public Library — Marblehead, Mass.
Reading and Book Signing
Wednesday, June 15, 7 p.m.
Denver Eclectics — Denver, Colo.
Lecture and Discussion
Friday, September 9, 10 a.m.
-- Liz Carney '11
Santa Clara Mag intern
Monday, Apr. 25, 2011
A moment of levity for a Tuesday morning: "Mrs. Eddy and Mr. Rock 'n' Roll" on KQED Radio
What do Keith Richards and Mary Baker Eddy have in common? The folks at Amazon.com have some ideas. And a little bit of digging in the musings of the Rolling Stone guitarist and writings of the founder of Christian Science reveals a few more surprises -- and, I hope a few laughs on a spring day.
Take a listen to this "Perspective" I recorded for KQED Radio and that airs on April 26 at 7:35 a.m. and again on Saturday morning. Or download the podcast at your leisure.
-- Steven Boyd Saum, Editor
Photo courtesy David Marks, KQED
Monday, Apr. 4, 2011
SCM Literary Editor Ron Hansen M.A. '95 headlines literary fest in Irvine April 9.
SoCal readers mark your calendars: The 5th annual Literary Orange festival happens Saturday, Apr. 9 with Santa Clara Magazine's own Ron Hansen M.A. '95 delivering a keynote address. The festival takes place in the U.C. Irvine Student Center 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hansen's forthcoming novel is A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion, a tale of illicit passion and murder set in hard-drinking, fast-living 1920s New York. It's due out in June from Scribner. Check your hip flask at the door.
Hansen is the bestselling author of Atticus (a finalist for the National Book Award), Exiles, Mariette in Ecstasy, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, among other works.
He is the Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. Professor of Arts and Humanities at SCU, and he serves as literary editor for Santa Clara Magazine.
Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011
The Spring '11 Santa Clara Magazine hit mailboxes last week. And there's a new look online.
Hope is the thing with feathers, Emily Dickinson wrote. And there, on the cover, captured by the lens of Susan Middleton ’70, behold: What feathers! There’s a story behind them, of course. It’s a story about a male trying to impress a female, and wouldn’t you know it -- this dazzling multicolored beauty is what turns her head, perpetuates the species. In this case, the (threatened) species is Gallus varius -- a Green Junglefowl, from Indonesia. But it’s a bigger story than that. Hope is a hefty part of it.
Inside the print mag -- and here on the Web, too -- you'll find a photo essay by Middleton. Life Cycle
draws from two projects, Evidence of Evolution
And you'll find some reflection on what matters most in a tribute to Richard Coz, S.J.
, a Jesuit who so inspired generations of Santa Clara students that they created a scholarship in his name in 2007. Hundreds of folks have given gifts big and small to pay tribute to a resilient man who cheered for them on the playing fields and counseled them and wed them and baptized their kids, who traveled the world and brought back pictures to share, and to say: Look! Isn’t it wonderful? Fr. Coz died on New Year’s Eve, but he touched the lives of thousands.
Do you have a Fr. Coz story to share? Or read something in this issue that fires your imagination or causes you concern? Let us know.
Monday, Mar. 7, 2011
New medals on the mantle at Santa Clara Magazine.
A wise man once said: He who tooteth not his own horn remains in a state of untootedness.
With that as our cue, we’re happy to share some news from the regional awards for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE): Santa Clara Magazine is once again the most lauded mag in the West. At an awards ceremony hosted in Los Angeles on March 4 by CASE’s Region VII, SCM was honored with seven medals, including top honors for staff writing and a silver medal for overall excellence.
At the ceremony, the 2009 SCU President’s Report, “Keeping Our Commitment to Students,”
was also honored with a bronze medal for excellence. The CASE District VII competition includes more than 100 colleges and universities from Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah.
Gold for staff writing
Five articles from 2009–10 earned SCM a gold for staff writing—with articles running the gamut from a look at “Bad Journalism 101” by Mansi Bhatia to a profile of Barry O’Brien ’79, an executive producer for CSI: Miami and co-creator of Hannah Montana.
SCM earned a silver in the category College and University General Interest Magazine with a circulation of over 75,000.
Another silver for Excellence in Editorial Design honored the photo essay on Haiti by Michael Larremore ’08
, “Courage in the Face.”
Larremore went to Haiti following the devastating earthquake in January 2010 as part of a medical relief mission. His photos capture resilience and strength in the face of disaster.
The cover illustration by Keith Negley for our Winter 2009 issue — “Imagine. Go. Do.”
— earned a silver for cover design. Last fall, the University and College Design Association selected Negley’s cover illustration for a national award for excellence as well.
And triple bronze
For overall design SCM landed one bronze medal.
Lastest but certainly not leastest: Photographer Bud Glick’s portrait of Pat Mangan ’84
for the article “Hold the line”
was awarded a bronze in the photography category. Mangan, athletic director and basketball coach at Frederick Douglas Academy in Harlem, has built a stellar high school hoops program by putting emphasis on family first, school second, then basketball.
Wednesday, Mar. 2, 2011
What happens to a volunteer when the Peace Corps service is over? For John Johnck '60, international work was just beginning.
“I really loved my term of service in Peru,” John Johnck ’60 says of his years with the Peace Corps in the mid-1960s. “It was ennobling and enabling – and humbling. It’s really a transformational experience for anybody who goes into it.”
Answering Kennedy’s call took Johnck into the Peace Corps. In Peru, he had audited credit unions. (See previous blog post
Back in the States, he went to work for Del Monte International’s management training program. That took him all around the world – from the Philippines to Italy, from Mexico to England – training staff in financial analysis and capital asset budgeting.
For three years he returned to Latin America, serving as controller for a corporate subsidiary in Caracas, Venezuela.
A buyout brought retirement, so Johnck went to work in construction: supervising a team remodeling Victorians in San Francisco and running a hot tub business in Berkeley with one-time colleagues from Del Monte. Since 1994 he’s been retired.
Along with working he got involved in Republican politics in the Bay Area, serving a few years as chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party.
Back in the day, he worked for California Governor Ronald Reagan and considered himself a Nixon Republican. He still has his finger on the pulse of politics: These days, he’s proud to call himself a Tea Party Republican.
He splits his time between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe. He and his wife are currently remodeling a house in Reno.
When we caught up by phone, he was in the middle of buying windows for the place.
Santa Clara grads who also attended St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco have another fellow alumnus in Johnck. He and his Class of ’56 buddies from SI (and they were all boys back then, just as Santa Clara was all-male) like to catch up at Caesar’s Italian Restaurant in San Francisco — a North Beach institution, it so happens, that opened its doors the same year he graduated from high school.
— Steven Boyd Saum, Editor
Tuesday, Mar. 1, 2011
Marking five decades since the founding of the U.S. Peace Corps. With more than 300 Santa Clara grads having served around the world.
Peace Corps Five-O
Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy signed the Peace Corps into existence. Since that time, more than 300 Santa Clara grads — as well as faculty, staff, and current students — have served (and are serving) as volunteers across the globe: from Africa to Latin America, Asia to the former Soviet Union.
This month kicks off a worldwide launch of “Peace Corps Month.” For us here at Santa Clara Magazine, it also inaugurates the beginning of a series of blog entries from returned and current Peace Corps volunteers spanning nations and decades, with plans for a special feature in the summer magazine.
For your humble editor, this is a bit of a labor of love: The Peace Corps took me to Ukraine in 1994, so I bring both an earned respect and clear-eyed assessment of what is good and bad and beautiful about the Peace Corps and what it does — whether the experience is the toughest job you’ll ever love or, as you cope with what is an enormous government bureaucracy in its own right (with all attendant acronyms and responsibilities), the longest vacation you’ll ever endure. Like so much in life, what you get out of the experience has a fair amount to do with what you put into it. Plus a bit of context.
Kicking things off for our first-person accounts is an entry from John J. Johnck ’60, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru in the mid-1960s.
Do you have a Peace Corps story or photos to share? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
. And read on.
— Steven Boyd Saum, Editor
• • •
AGENTS OF CHANGE
John J. Johnck ’60
Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru — 1964–66
When President Kennedy was assassinated, I was at work as a back office assistant at the stock broker Reynolds & Co. in San Francisco. I heard the news and recalled his famous line: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” So, at the age of 26, I filled in the Peace Corps application and was accepted to join a university education program as a math teacher targeted for Peru. I was elated that I could give back.
Sixty of us were trained for Peace Corps work as teachers and “agents of change” at the University of Washington in Seattle. In order to teach in Spanish, it was mandatory that we be fluent in Spanish to graduate and go to Peru. We were immediately thrown into Spanish class from 3 to 11 p.m., five days a week — and eight hours each on Saturday and Sunday. The immersion worked for me. However, 15 fellow trainees were “de-selected.”
When I first arrived in Peru, I had to use Spanish immediately. It was scary to walk into a meeting and try and understand and communicate at the same time. Jokes were impossible to understand. Fortunately, the Peruvians I spoke with realized I was new to their language and were patient with me. Slowly I learned and even dreamed in Spanish.
The assignment collapses
During 1964 and 1965, the Vietnam War had a powerful affect on America’s image overseas. In Latin America, the Peace Corps was pegged as an arm of the Central Intelligence Agency, especially on college campuses in Peru. Those of us assigned to public universities were met with sit-ins, anti U.S.A.–Peace Corps graffiti, and protests. My Peace Corps teachers college assignment collapsed. It was left to me to find alternative work.
In Lima I met some fellow Peace Corps volunteers who were leaving after their two-year assignment. They were auditors for the Peruvian National Association of Credit Unions. They introduced me to the association president, who immediately asked me to join and help to protect the work they were doing. Credit Unions played an important role in Peru, because the banks only catered to the upper classes and to Lima’s professional business and government employees. That meant 98 percent of the country had limited access to banking. Churches, unions, agricultural workers, and farmers turned to credit unions.
I performed about 10 audits of credit unions all over Peru from January 1965 to December 1966. A third were so poorly run that I recommended they be shut down. In these instances, a follow-up audit by my superiors usually validated the lack of ledgers, bank statements, board minutes, and cooperation from those particular credit union leaders.
I traveled with my sleeping bag and slept wherever I could—so long as it was free. My Peruvian Peace Corps stipend was only $100 per month. The Peru National Association paid nada for Peace Corps assistance. I was responsible for my own shelter, food, transportation, and other living expenses. I sometimes slept in a priest’s rectory, credit union office couch, or in other Peace Corps volunteers’ rooms. Occasionally, I would find a dump for $5/month during an audit.
Save the credit union
My most interesting audit was for six months in Iquitos, at the headwaters of the Amazon River. I assisted the association president and vice president with a four-week audit. After their board approved the audit, they left me behind to implement the audit recommendations. This credit union was the second biggest in Peru, with 5,000 members and a capitalization of U.S. $5 million. It was founded by Padre David, a Spanish missionary, 15 years prior; he was still on the board of directors and served as treasurer.
The padre built this credit union with deposits from Iquitos businesses, doctors, pharmacists, teachers, working people, and small farmers. Small loans were made out the back door by the padre, with the credit committee only told weeks later. Needless to say, the padre was not pleased that I was assigned to stay and implement the audit.
My work there was difficult; we had shouting matches in public. However, there were many credit union committee members who approved the audit, and who were concerned about the solidity and future of their credit union.
Padre David was demoted during my tenure there; lending policies were tightened; interest rates on loans and dividend rates increased; and uncollectible debts were written off. I slept next door to the credit union office, sandwiched between it and the outdoor fish market that set up every morning at 4. With that location, many flies lived there, too; the chameleons who fed there ate well.
I returned to San Francisco in December 1966. The credit union in Iquitos is still in existence in 2010, despite the efforts of the leftist government that took over Peru to close it down in the 1970s. This is an “AMDG” outcome which gladdens the heart of a Class of 1960 old alum of Santa Clara University.
John J. Johnck
Tomorrow, read about what John Johnck has been doing in business and politics since finishing his Peace Corps service in Peru in '66.
Friday, Feb. 25, 2011
NOT YOUR GREAT GRANDDADDY'S ELECTRIC CAR
It’s taken more than a century, but the auto industry is about to come full circle. Introduced in the 1890s, electric vehicles (EVs) soon eclipsed gasoline cars in popularity. By the end of the decade, EVs outsold gasoline cars 10 to 1. The trend did not hold. Henry Ford’s gaspowered Model T appeared in 1908, igniting the century-long reign of the internal combustion engine. But, according to James Billmaier ’77, EVs are poised to dominate once more—this time for the long haul.
Billmaier, a Silicon Valley veteran with three decades of experience in the computer systems and software industries, is the author of JOLT! (Advantage, 2010), a primer on the coming dominance of the electric car. An unabashed EVs enthusiast, Billmaier does have a stake in the outcome he prophesizes; he’s a founding partner of Charge Northwest, a company focused on hardware, software, and consulting solutions for charging EVs. But he is also a reliable guide for consumers seeking answers before deciding to invest in the first wave of the new generation of EVs—the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt or all-electric Nissan LEAF— or those to follow.
One of the strengths of JOLT! is in dispelling myths that threaten to slow the adoption of EVs. Billmaier raises, and deftly dispatches, nagging questions: Won’t EVs merely swap emissions at the tailpipe for emissions from a (likely coal-fired) smokestack? Aren’t EVs much more expensive than gas-powered cars? Will an EV leave me stranded roadside? Won’t EVs overload the electricity grid? The answer in each case, writes Billmaier, is a resounding “No.” Take just one: cost. After the (for now) higher upfront cost, which is offset by government tax incentives, EVs are cheaper to maintain—with 70 percent fewer parts than gas-powered cars, and no smog checks or oil changes either—and cheaper to drive each mile. At $3 a gallon for gas and 10.2 cents per kilowatthour for electricity (the average U.S. price), “a highly efficient gas-powered car getting 30 miles to the gallon costs around 10 cents per mile; an EV running on electricity costs just 2.5 cents per mile,” writes Billmaier. And it’s a cost differential that will only grow as oil becomes scarcer and batteries cheaper over the next couple of decades.
Billmaier is confident that within the next 20 years all of us will be driving electric cars. “Electric vehicles are our future no matter who builds them,” he says—but he also believes smart incentives can speed their adoption in the United States and ensure we don’t cede market advantage to competitors such as China. In the last chapter, Billmaier outlines the “JOLT Program for America,” a policy framework for government, business, and consumers that aims to have 100 million electric cars on the road by 2020. Get the incentives right, Billmaier believes, and the market will flip. He predicts electric cars will make up 60 percent of all new car sales by 2030.
“By 2021,” he writes, “there will be no reason not to buy an EV.”
Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011
Justin Gerdes interviews James Billmaier '77 about his new book JOLT! The Impending Dominance of the Electric Car.
With gas headed toward $4 a gallon, that’s put a charge on one of the news stories that closed out 2010: the re-emergence of the electric car.
Born before the Model T, given up for dead a decade ago by General Motors, the electric car is now roaring... make that gliding back to life. In the closing weeks of 2010, a few hundred plug-in hybrid Chevy Volts and all-electric Nissan Leafs were delivered to U.S. customers.
The trickle of deliveries presages a coming deluge. Nissan has already booked 20,000 reservations for the LEAF, plans to make 50,000 in 2011, and expects to sell 500,000 annually by 2013; G.M. plans to make 10,000 Volts this year, and recently boosted 2012 production from 30,000 to 45,000 units.
Watching the developments is Silicon Valley veteran and electric vehicle evangelist James Billmaier ’77, author of JOLT!: The Impending Dominance of the Electric Car (Advantage, 2010).
Santa Clara Magazine spoke with Billmaier a few weeks before the delivery of his very own Nissan LEAF. He won’t be the only EV early adopter in the family. Billmaier’s father, 92, is the oldest customer to have reserved a LEAF.
SCM: Why will consumers choose electric vehicles over the gas-powered cars they now drive?
Billmaier: The short answer for the consumer is better, faster, cheaper – and electric vehicles are a blast to drive. But, the great thing about plug-in vehicles is that there are so many reasons for consumers to buy them – and the reasons vary based upon the individual. This was a major reason for me writing JOLT!
I discovered that while the planetary reasons, what I call “the Al Gore arguments,” were a huge motivator for a certain set of people, those same arguments were polarizing for another set of people.
The father of the Chevy Volt, G.M. Vice Chairman Bob Lutz [now retired], believes that human-caused climate change is a hoax. However, Bob Lutz is a huge fan of electric vehicles.
In Bob's case, it’s all about eliminating our dependence on foreign oil and the problems associated with defending the part of the world where we source 30 percent of our petroleum.
The meta-level arguments for Americans buying electric vehicles are reasons of national security, economic recovery and expansion, competition with China – but mostly EVs are a blast to drive. EVs are addictive in a good way.
SCM: One of the strengths of JOLT! is in dispelling many of the myths that threaten to impede the adoption of EVs – that they are prohibitively expensive, that you are merely trading emissions at the tailpipe for those at the (likely coal-fired) smokestack, that drivers will be stranded by a dead battery. How will EV supporters overcome these misconceptions?
Billmaier:: These types of myths have existed for every previous technological paradigm shift. When I was running the software networking group at Sun Microsystems at the outset of the Internet revolution, every week the media would run doom and disaster stories of how the entire Internet infrastructure was about to explode.
The Chevy Volt was just named North American car of the year; the Nissan LEAF was just named European car of the year.
Both cars are sold out.
Every major car company in the world is bringing a plug-in car to market this year or next year. High-information consumers who understand the benefits of EVs are buying these cars.
Those consumers are the most influential component of the adoption food chain. The influencers are buying the cars, they will drive the cars, and they will tell their family, friends, and neighbors to do the same.
The transition of personal transportation from one powered by petroleum to one powered by electricity is "impending." It is not a question of if; it is only a question of how soon.
SCM: Better Place CEO Shai Agassi has predicted that by 2020 electric cars will outsell gas-powered cars. Is that timeline too ambitious?
Billmaier: I agree with Shai's prediction. Based upon the predictable technology advancements of electrical energy storage combined with all of the other significant advantages of electric drive trains vs. internal combustion drive trains, by 2020 the advantages of EVs over gas-powered cars will be so significant that even the most naïve consumer will choose a plug-in car.
SCM: Speaking of Agassi, the Better Place model (miles as a service comparable to minutes and mobile phones; the use of battery swapping stations) is not mentioned in JOLT! Can the Better Place model work? Is there room in the marketplace for competing EV networks and technologies?
Billmaier: There are many different business models being tested right now.
I believe that the Better Place battery swap concept has huge adoption challenges throughout the auto value chain. I think this model will only be successful in small market niches.
There are some models, such as what NRG is trying in Houston, based upon a monthly subscription, that are interesting.
However, I believe that the EV will be treated like any other electric appliance (air conditioner or computer) and the electricity will be paid for in a similar way.
As for competing EV networks and technologies, just like the cell phone business, there will be competitors. At a high level, there will be cooperation, just as you can roam from a Verizon cell network to a Sprint cell network.
SCM: How long do you think EVs will need government support such as tax incentives and grants for charging stations? Billmaier: The interesting thing is that EVs would need no government support if we would just remove taxpayer subsidies paid to offset the true cost of gasoline.
U.S. taxpayer dollars used to protect oil pipelines and oil-tanker shipping lanes, combined with direct subsidies paid to oil companies, amount to about $2 per gallon of gas. We are really paying at least $5 per gallon each time we fill up our tanks with gasoline.
That equates to about $12,000 in taxpayer subsidies over the life of a gas-powered car.
Many argue that the true cost of gasoline is much higher due to downstream health and environmental impacts.
That said, I do not believe it is politically feasible to remove taxpayer-provided subsidies to the oil industry at this time.
However, in an effort to level the playing field and allow accurate market forces of capitalism to occur, U.S. and state governments should offset the taxpayer subsidies being provided to gas-powered cars for the next 5 to 10 years – or until we find the courage to remove the oil-industry subsidies.
SCM: Has the landscape changed even in the few months since the publication of JOLT last fall?
Billmaier: The manufacturing capacities of both Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF have increased multiple-fold.
Nissan is now talking about a 500,000-unit worldwide production capability by 2012; Chevy has increased their manufacturing capacity plans four times, based on the demand they’re seeing.
To put this in perspective, Nissan has a worldwide manufacturing capacity of this first-run car of about 20,000 cars, which sold out. In just the Seattle area, where I live, we had 2,200 reservations – 10 percent of global capacity – and 11,000 households did a “hand raise” to say they were interested in buying one. The demand is huge.
-- Justin Gerdes, freelance writer for SCM
Coming tomorrow here on the Santa Clara Mag Blog: A review of JOLT! by Justin Gerdes.