5 interesting stories about Mexico and her people

·      Fewer Mexican immigrants are coming to the United States, and those who do are more educated.

·      Apple is opening a flagship store in Mexico this month; the only country in the Western Hemisphere outside the United States that will have such a store.

·      San Diego Border Patrol announces 43 percent drop in arrests from May to August.

·      French auction house sells artifacts against Mexico’s wishes.

·      A ballet dancer changing Mexico through the arts.

Book Review: Trevor Noah nails it with ‘Born a Crime’

It is hard to imagine anyone’s birth could be a crime. The reality is it’s another byproduct of racism.

Comedian Trevor Noah, who now is best known as the host of “The Daily Show,” was born to a white father and a black mother in South Africa during apartheid. While apartheid might be a footnote in history for some, it existed from 1948 to 1994. Just think, that’s only one generation that has grown up without these discriminatory practices. However, just because something ends legally, doesn’t mean it magically disappears. Ask anyone who has been marginalized and then has his or her “freedom.”

Noah’s book “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood” (Spiegel & Grau, 2016) looks at what his life was like in South Africa as a boy who didn’t belong because of his skin color. He certainly wasn’t the only child to face this dilemma.

This is how Noah describes apartheid, “Apartheid was a police state, a system of surveillance and laws designed to keep black people under total control. In America you had the forced removal of the native onto reservations coupled with slavery followed by segregation. Imagine all three of those things happening to the same group of people at the same time. That was apartheid.”

It’s not that white people were the only skin pigment who were racist. Anyone can be. The problem, though, as a child Noah had to be hidden at times.

“Where most children are proof of their parents’ love, I was the proof of their criminality. The only time I could be with my father was indoors. If we left the house, he’d have to walk across the street from us,” he wrote. There was always a threat of the government finding out about him being racially mixed. “The wrong color kid in the wrong color area, and the government could come in, strip your parents of custody, haul you off to an orphanage.”

Because Noah is a comedian he is able to add humor to a topic and life events that most would find absurd or even callous.

He holds nothing back in describing his mother, her beliefs, quirkiness and love for him. She was determined he would make something of himself. His choices, though, left that reality in jeopardy on multiple occasions.

This book is a glimpse into life in South Africa during apartheid and just after. It’s brutal, but honest. It’s humorous and poignant. It’s educational, but not preachy.

Hopefully, it makes people realize the stupidity in treating people differently (better or worse) because of skin color.

Find ‘Dirt Around Lake Tahoe’ easier; 3 events coming up

While the list of retailers carrying “The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Hikes” continues to grow, I don’t actually know where all it is located. This is because it is available through the distributor IngramSpark, which then gets it into various bookstores and libraries.

An easy way to find out which independent bookseller near you has the book is to go online; from there you type in your ZIP code and the nearby bookstores that carry the hiking book will pop up.

Another option is to click here to see retail locations beyond bookstores.

As for events, there are three coming up in the next week. They are:

Sept. 7, 3-4pm: Flashlight Books, 1537 North Main Street, Walnut Creek. Presentation, sales, signing. Books are $15 each.

Sept. 8, 1-3pm: Bounty Books, 877 Merchant Street, Vacaville. Sales and signing. Books are $15 each, cash only, with 10% off at the signing.

Sept. 11, 6:30-8pm: REI, 1790 Expo Parkway, Sacramento. Presentation, signing, sales. Books $15, cash only. Register online.

Book Review: Story of ‘The Pearl’ still relevant decades later

Depressing. That would be one world to sum up “The Pearl” by John Steinbeck.

I know I read this in school – not sure what grade and what the purpose was. I can say that same thing for a lot of the literature that passed before my eyes.

I revisited the book (Viking Press, 1947) because Steinbeck wrote it after being in La Paz, Mexico, which is just an hour from Todos Santos and is the capital of Baja California Sur. The images were done by José Orozco, who I was introduced to earlier this year when I was in Guadalajara.

“The Pearl” is in part about family, poverty, dreams, and the evil of greed. The basic consensus would be money can’t buy happiness. It’s a hard, tragic lesson for Kino, the pearl diver, to learn.

I had forgotten how sad the book is. Still, there are lessons to be taken from it. It’s a glimpse at humanity, and how money/wealth or the lack thereof plays a part in how we treat one another. It shows examples of how people are changed by the prospect of wealth.

In the version of the book I read published by Penguin Classics is an 18-page introduction by Linda Wagner-Martin. It read more like an abridged version of a thesis on the book. It’s her analysis of the book, giving perceived insight into Steinbeck’s thoughts. While her perspective was somewhat interesting, it wasn’t a normal introduction. It would have been better to have been at the end.

“The Pearl” is a quick read that really has nothing to do with Mexico other than the setting. It has everything to do with the human psyche.

‘Dirt Around Lake Tahoe’ accolades; event, retailer lists grow

Check out this review from the Tahoe Mountain News about “The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Hikes.”

There are two events coming up in the next week — Aug. 22 at the Sports Basement in Berkeley starting at 6pm. This will be a presentation that includes photos from various hikes, a reading from the book and other details. The Aug. 24 event at Lava Cap Winery in Placerville is a signing from 11am-3pm. Books will be available at both events for $15 — cash only.

If you can’t make it to either of these events, check out this list for other events and where to buy the book in person — retailers keep being added. “The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe” is also available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble as an eBook and paperback.

Wineries, sporting good stores hosting ‘The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe’ events

There are a slew of opportunities in the next two weeks to get a copy of “The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Hikes” directly from me.

I will be at Rucksack Cellars in Placerville on Aug. 17 and on Aug. 24 at Lava Cap Winery in Placerville. Those who buy a book that day will receive $2 off a bottle of wine from the respective winery on the day of the event.

I also have presentations and signings coming up at the REI in Folsom and Sports Basement in Berkeley this month.

For a full list of events and locations where to buy this unique hiking book, click here.

Book Review: ‘The Great Quake’ entertains and educates

The 9.2 earthquake that shook Alaska on March 27, 1964, and created deadly tsunamis not only changed the landscape of the state, it fast-forwarded the scientific understanding of earthquakes and other geological phenomena.

New York Times science reporter Henry Fountain in his book “The Great Quake: How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet” (Crown Publishing, 2017) takes readers on a humanitarian and scientific journey. The book is masterfully written.

George Plafker, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Society based in Menlo Park, California, is the main focus of the narrative. Plafker arrived in Alaska the day after the quake to begin field work. His boots on the ground investigations led to discoveries about how the earth moves and the consequences.

“The collapse of the Valdez waterfront and the slides in Anchorage were just two elements of the destruction in Alaska that revealed, to an extent seldom seen before, the dangers of soil liquefaction during an earthquake. Engineers learned that identifying soils at risk of failing in a quake was as important as designing structures to withstand shaking. Earthquake codes were made stricter, in Alaska and elsewhere,” Fountain wrote.

Most earthquakes are measured in seconds. This one was about five minutes.

What Fountain is able to do is elevate what can be dry science into prose that makes even the non-scientist want to know more, to learn. The author also weaves in tales about the people who called Alaska home. After all, the tumbler didn’t just move the earth, it forever altered lives by wiping out towns and killing dozens. It wasn’t just people in Alaska who died. The waves flowed down the West Coast into Baja California. Several people in Crescent City, California, died from the tsunami.

‘Dirt Around Lake Tahoe’ book event dates growing

“The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Hikes” is now available in a multitude of retail outlets throughout Northern California and Northern Nevada.

Events are scheduled now through the end of September where people may get a signed copy, be entertained with firsthand exploits and see some incredible photos from various hikes.

The first review of the book was outstanding. Check out what Tahoe Onstage had to say about the hiking guide.

Events include:

Aug. 8, 7:30am: Soroptimists International Tahoe Sierra, Senior Center, South Lake Tahoe. Presentation, signing, sales. Books $15, cash only.

Aug. 20, 6:30-8pm: REI, 2425 Iron Point Road, Folsom. Presentation, signing, sales. Books $15, cash only.

Aug. 21, noon-1pm: Soroptimists International of South Lake Tahoe (Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Stateline) — talk, signing, sales. Books are $15 each, cash only.

Aug. 22, 6-7pm: Sports Basement, 2727 Milvia St., Berkeley. Presentation, signing, sales. Books are $15, cash only.

Aug. 24, 11am-3pm: Lava Cap Winery, 2221 Fruitridge Road, Placerville. Everyone who buys a book that day at the winery receives $2 off a bottle of wine that day. Books are $15 each, cash only.

Sept. 7, 3-4pm: Flashlight Books, 1537 North Main Street, Walnut Creek. Presentation, sales, signing. Books are $15 each, cash only.

Sept. 8, 1-3pm: Bounty Books, 877 Merchant Street, Vacaville. Sales and signing. Books are $15 each, cash only, with 10% off at the signing.

Sept. 26, 6-7pm: Book Smart, 421 Vineyard Town Center, Morgan Hill. Presentation with wine and cheese, sales, signing. Books are $15 each, cash only.

Where to buy “The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe” in the Lake Tahoe Basin:

Freel Perk — Meyers; Sports Ltd — South Lake Tahoe; Studio 4 — South Lake Tahoe; Angora Lakes Resort — South Lake Tahoe; The Ridge Tahoe — Stateline; Visitors’ Center — Stateline; Lakeside Inn — Stateline; Robin’s Nest — Kings Beach; Potlatch — Incline Village; Visitors’ Center — Tahoe City, Obexer’s General Store – Homewood.

Where to buy the book outside Tahoe:

Sorensen’s Resort — Hope Valley; Fresh Ideas — Gardnerville; Placerville News Co. — Placerville; Sports Ltd. — Redding, The Hermit’s Hut — Redding; The Fifth Season — Mount Shasta; Sports Ltd. — Chico, Whim House — Danville, Towne Center Books — Pleasanton, The Avid Reader — Davis, Bounty Books — Vacaville, Grassroots Books — Reno, Sundance Books — Reno, REI — Reno, Book Smart — Morgan Hill.


Amazon and Barnes & Noble have the book as a paperback and eBook.

Book mark this page to stay up-to-date with current book events and locations to buy “The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe.”

Books and Brews in South Lake Tahoe

Hike and then hydrate, or something like that.

I will be at Lake Tahoe Mountain Brews on July 19 starting at 4pm selling and signing my just released book “The Dirt Around Lake Tahoe: Must-Do Scenic Hikes”. Everyone who buys a book that night will receive $1 off one of these unique craft brews. The brewery is at the corner of Third Street and Eloise Avenue in South Lake Tahoe. It’s on the bottom floor of the Tahoe Mountain News.

Books are $15 each (cash only).

Bookmark this page to stay updated on events and locations where to buy the book.

If you can’t make it that night, here are other events:

  • July 30, 6pm: South Lake Tahoe Friends of the Library (Rufus Allen Boulevard) — talk, signing, sales. Books are $15 each, cash only.
  • Aug 8, 7:30am: Soroptimists International Tahoe Sierra (Senior Center, South Lake Tahoe) — talk, signing, sales. Books are $15 each, cash only.
  • Aug. 21, noon-1pm: Soroptimists International of South Lake Tahoe (Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Stateline) — talk, signing, sales. Books are $15 each, cash only.
  • Aug. 22, 6pm: Sports Basement, Berkeley — talk, signing, sales. Books are $15 each, cash only.

Books are available at:

Lake Tahoe Basin                                                           Outside Lake Tahoe

Freel Perk – Meyers                                                        Sorensen’s Resort – Hope Valley

Studio 4 – South Lake Tahoe                                      Fresh Ideas — Gardnerville

Angora Lakes Resort – SLT                                          Placerville News Co. – Placerville

Sports Ltd. – SLT                                                               The Hermit’s Hut – Redding

The Ridge Tahoe – Stateline                                       The Fifth Season – Mount Shasta

Visitors’ Center – Stateline                                          Sports Ltd. – Chico (July 22)

Lakeside Inn – Stateline

Potlatch – Incline Village

Robin’s Nest – Kings Beach

Visitors’ Center – Tahoe City

Obexer’s General Store – Homewood

Paperback and eBook copies are also available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Book Review: ‘Hummingbird’s Daughter’ a captivating story

Teresita was a woman who beheld healing powers that led to many calling her a saint. They flocked to her; seeking health, peace and a better life. Hers was a complicated existence.

“The Hummingbird’s Daughter” (Little, Brown and Company, 2005) by Luis Alberto Urrea is fiction, though it is based on a real person who lived in Mexico in the late 1800s.

I listened to the book on my drive north last month from Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, to South Lake Tahoe, California. It seemed so appropriate to be captivated by this mystique novel as I spent hours in Mexico. Even though I was on the peninsula, and not mainland Mexico where the book takes place, I felt a connection that seemed to disappear as I crossed the border and kept listening along the busy highways of Southern California. Perhaps she had a spell on me.

I am sure some would be put off by this book based on the religious aspect. Don’t let it stop you from reading (or listening) to this captivating tale. It’s not really what the book is about.

Teresita is a wonderful main character. This young woman is so incredibly strong, determined and progressive. She is the reason to read the book.

Even though I prefer non-fiction, one thing about historical fiction that I like is the aspects of truth that spill forth. The social and physical settings are almost always true in their descriptions. In this case the large ranchos, the wealthy v. impoverished, racial struggles, infidelity, children sired by men who never intended to be fathers are all believable.

There is so much depth to this book. It was the perfect companion on a long drive.

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