Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Holiday Thoughts

This time of year is strange and in some ways wonderful. For those of us who grew up in families that celebrate Christmas, it is a magical time of year, especially for children. The excitement of waking up to presents under the Christmas tree from "Santa Claus" is palpable.

At the same time, the calendar year is winding down and for those of us who work, this is a time when exhaustion can take over. It has been a long, difficult year, for example, to those of us who are journalists.

We've had to cover many disturbing events and trends, and we are, frankly, very tired.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Home for the Holidays

My three youngest came across town and had lunch with me at El Matate, one of our long-time haunts.

So great to see the boys, back from college, and Julia, out of school for the holidays.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Family Matters

When I bought my first and only new car, a 2004 Saturn Ion, in December 2003, I was so proud I sent photos of it to several family members and friends.

That was 13 years ago and it now has around 133,000 miles on it. In the past few years, I've been driving less and less. It is so crowded and dangerous around here, with people dressed in all black walking right out in front of your car at dusk, bicyclists dart in and out of traffic and many other hazards exist.

I  opened Uber and Lyft accounts for my younger kids plus the boys both have their own cars now. Except for going to Safeway now and then or my dentist, the only "trips" I take are to my kids' houses, on Bernal, Glen Park, San Jose or El Cerrito.

A couple months back I got a notice that I needed to get a smog certificate by December 28th in order to get my car registration renewed. Yesterday, after weeks of procrastination, I drove the car to a nearby Shell station but the smog guys were late and nowhere to be seen. So I drove down Potrero to a little hole in the wall place I'd noticed over the years and they agreed to give it a smog test for $40 (a very good price.)

It failed. Then, after the stress of the test it failed to start and could not be jump-started.

It has a new battery so I knew that could not be the problem. The mechanics determined it was the ignition switch. They also told me that once they installed a new switch the car would have to travel 300 miles to build up enough computer memory for it to pass the test.

Worse, they could not get the needed part until next Tuesday, the 20th.

As I absorbed this news, and imagined the very expensive tickets no doubt awaiting me as the registration runs out, I called my oldest son, Peter, and asked him if he might be able to drive the car 300 miles over the coming week.

He said yes.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Family Trees and Rains

My sisters and I are trying to help my oldest daughter research our family tree(s). It appears we have a geat deal of information for both the Weir and Anderson/Wishart sides. If it ever becomes available in a digital form I will post it here.

Both of my parents were immigrants, my mother from Scotland and my father from Canada -- coming to Detroit in the 20s. I was born in the 40s and grew up in the 50, went to college in the 60s, and moved to SF in the 70s.

Have been here ever since except for one year in D.C.

Of course I am only one branch of their shared family tree.


Rainy and windy here today and tonight. Saw my oldest son this morning and he drove me to work. He's going to start working at Yelp next month.

I've been busy ordering presents for my children and grandchildren. This is a time of year I enjoy.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

My Cowboy Past

Courtesy of my cousin Dan, here is a photo of him, his brothers and me from the early 50s. I am on the far right, with the cowboy hat and gun. I remember getting that outfit but not when or why.

For me, getting together with my three Anderson cousins was always a highlight -- relatively rare (because they usually lived in other states) but fun. Not having any brothers of my own, they were like brothers to me.

Happy holiday season, everyone!


Thursday, December 08, 2016

Losing an Artist

There was a terrible warehouse fire in Oakland last Friday night, and one of the 36 people killed was a colleague at KQED, Alex Ghassan. One of his closest friends works on my staff and others who report to me knew him as well. I'd met him once or twice but cannot say I knew him well.

The link above describes him and his work and was written by one of my colleagues, David Markus. Soon after he wrote this tribute, David learned that his mother had died.

It's been a very rough week here...


Friday, December 02, 2016

Julia Meets Bernie

Quite a day. We had a Facebook Live broadcast with Bernie Sanders today on our Forum program. It went an hour.

My youngest came to KQED to watch it with me and she got quite a surprise. I was giving her a tour of the building when we noticed a crowd of maybe 20 employees gathered at the window at the east end of the second floor (where the newsroom is.)

We decided to go down there and just as we arrived, a car pulled up to the building's entrance below as we were watching through a window.

"There he is!" someone shouted. Most everyone pulled out their cellphones and started snapping pictures.

We then gathered near the elevators and stairs, not knowing which way he would come up.

Elevator. He emerged to cheers and cameras snapping. He then walked up to each and every one of us to say hello and shake our hand. After he greeted me he shook Julia's hand and said hello to her. She broke into a broad smile and pretty much kept smiling the rest of her visit.

When he was finished with Forum, he proceeded across the floor to our TV studio, amid dozens more KQED employees, where he appeared on KQED Newsroom, one of the programs I manage. Julia was for a time in the control room with me. it was packed.

Back to the Facebook Live, views and interactions are still coming in, but already the numbers by afternoon were great:  1,529,000 reach and 189,797 views. We expect those numbers to go up a lot over the weekend.

Best of all for me? I got to seem a little bit cool for a change in the eyes of my 18-year-old.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Moderation? Perhaps.

So Trump gave an interview to The New York Times yesterday, during which he appeared to pull back from some of his most extreme positions. This was something I speculated about back when I first predicted he would win the election, six months or more ago. Compared to many of my friends and colleagues, this is what would be considered a naive or unduly hopeful view.

But I've never been sold on Trump as a right-winger, any more than I ever considered Obama a left-winger. These are rhetorical terms the parties heave at one another, whereas most people who make a serious run for President tend to be centrists. Obama certainly is; we'll see about Trump.

He's starting to pull back from "jailing crooked Hillary," which was always a preposterous notion. He's pulling back from torture after speaking with a general. He's pulling back from threatening the press. He's got an "open mind" about climate change. His "wall" on the border sounds more like a fence.

Next he has to renounce the notions of registering Muslims and deporting millions of immigrants. He's also got to appoint some Democrats and moderates to his cabinet. That will no doubt happen.

Call me an optimist. That's what I've always been. I don't think Trump wants to be a dictator but the center of media attention. What's certain is he has certainly accomplished the latter.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Difficult Days Ahead

It is a gray, rainy weekend here in San Francisco. I took a short walk this morning and the air felt fresh and clean.

I have been thinking a lot about whether we are entering an era of fascism. Many of my friends think so, but I doubt it.

Nevertheless, the evidence is there to support their view. Trump and his supporters have suggested that all Muslims be "registered," and some have said they should be put into concentration camps.

In case anyone thinks this is a Republican problem I would point out that Japanese-Americans were rounded up and interred under a Democratic president during World War 2.

All it may take would be one more terrorist attack on the homeland by a n Islamic extremist to provoke President Trump to enact such a plan.

The question is what would the rest of us do about that?


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hopeful Things

Yesterday I met Manu Prakash, who has invented a very cheap paper microscope that allows anyone, particularly children in poor countries, to explore scientific subjects, especially micro-biology. He recently won a MacArthur Genius grant and was a guest on our TV news show, KQED Newsroom.

He's a delightful geek, who grew up in India and is now a bioengineer at Stanford. His microscope is basically built from origami and small lenses and, once assembled, can magnify tiny things by at least 150 x.

The cost of the paper miscroscope is 55 cents. I have been trying to figure out how to order it -- I think that will become possible on Monday via Kickstarter. I'd love to order a bunch of them for my grandchildren.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Updates This Week

I picked up my youngest, Julia, from SFO, as she arrived after a weekend visit where she saw her grandparents and Bard outside New York. On the way to the city, I noticed the engine light come on in my car.

On Tuesday I dropped the car off at the mechanics.

Today my oldest son, Peter, dropped by in early afternoon to update me and discuss the job offers he has started receiving. We talked through negotiation strategies.

After that I got a bus (after a long wait) and pretty long walk to the mechanics to pick up the car, now fixed (for $600.)

Tomrrow I meet a group of students in the morning and my dentist in the afternoon.


At work my staff remains somewhat exhausted from the long, hard election effort. We are working to prepare them for the possibility of a major attack on our rights under the First Amendment by the Trump Administration.


Saturday, November 12, 2016


I did not predict this election correctly. Although I'm a pretty good data analyst, it is always important to remember the old saying: "garbage in garbage out."

The data I relied on, polls from hundreds of sources, were completely wrong. They failed to understand how deeply the white working class people feel left behind by an economy that has benefited those of us on the coasts.

My origin area, the so-called 'rust belt', rose up and elected Donald Trump. That that was a ridiculous decision doesn't matter any longer. He is president-elect.

I was wrong.


Saturday, November 05, 2016

Best Guess: 312-226

I have read every article and studied every poll I can find. As of today, I believe Clinton will win the electoral and the popular votes by relatively comfortable margins.

Above is my current assessment of the all-important Electoral College tally. I think Clinton will win the popular vote by between 2.5 and 3 percent.

Both campaigns and the major media organizations will probably know the likely outcomes by mid-afternoon on Tuesday, due to exit polls. Everyone else will have to wait until the polls close in one of the four major time zones (sorry Hawaii and Alaska.)

The race probably will be called at 5, 6, 7 or 8 pm PT. I'm guessing 7, when certain mountain state polls are closed.

p.s. My electoral prediction for Clinton is 15 points higher than when I started this post, because I am now calling North Carolina for the Dems, based on new polls.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Birthday Boy

 Oliver is five! Claire drove Peter and me down to San Jose through a heavy rain today. We stopped at Target to get the little guy presents, then proceeded to Sarah's new house.
 Laila and family arrived just before we did, including Betsy.

 Sarah and kids have a new kitten, "Silver Streak," who is six weeks old. She is the smallest kitten any of us has ever seen.

Sophia and all the kids held Silver Streak.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Rain and Techno-Politics

New green shoots of grass cover the backyard after a storm this week. More rain hangs in the air, and the air smells delicious as a result.

But I've been focusing on the election cycle as ten days remain until voting day. I think Clinton will win but she is wounded by the continuing controversies around her use of email.

In several ways, this election has strangely become one based on different ways of using communication technology.

Clinton and Trump are of a generation (mine) that formed our habits long before email or Twitter. So we had to adapt ourselves to new technologies when they appeared. Most of us did so imperfectly.

Clinton screwed up her email big time and Trump has certainly screwed up on Twitter -- practically beyond belief. Have you noticed he has stopped late night Tweeting recently? That mst be the result of pressure from his wife, kids or campaign chair -- more likely all of them.

It comes down to two old folks uncomfortable with using technology. They both would have been served better had they hired a campaign engineer!


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Birthday Party

 My lovely and brilliant youngest daughter turns 18 in a few days and last night we had a small gathering for dinner in honor of her.
 Peter and Claire were there.
 She loved her presents and gave a short speech.
Dylan also drove up from Santa Cruz for the event.

A wonderful night!


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Financial Aid Forms

Out on a rainy Sunday to help my youngest as she filled out her FAFSA form. Unlike her brothers at this age, she does it herself, just asking for a bit of help. Her school counselor also got her going earlier in the week.

The proactive role she takes on applying to colleges impresses me. She is applying to at least 14 schools all over the country, including five here in California, though she disclaims any interest in those five.

She prefers the smaller private colleges at this point over large schools. That might or might not reflect the fact that the only schools she has attended -- Synergy, Oxbow and Gateway -- are all relatively small schools.

Her mother, who recently was laid off :( again, also thinks she should go to a small school. Part of me thinks she should experience a larger educational institution, but I will defer to my daughter's judgement.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Building Blowout

Studying the polls and the math, I'm convinced that if the election were held today, Clinton would win with some 330 electoral votes and probably close to 50 percent of the popular vote to about 42 percent for Trump.

It could easily get worse for Trump at this point. The multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump are eroding his support among many sectors of the electorate, not just women. This kind of behavior offends many men as well.

The mainstream media -- CNN, Washington Post, New York Times -- have definitively turned against Trump, not so much out of a liberal bias but out of concern that he represents a dangerous authoritarian streak that threatens American democracy.

As always, the people will decide, not the media.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Lunch and Tour

For the first time in ten years, Peter is back here living in San Francisco and today, after a job visit here in the Mission, he came by KQED and we had lunch. Then I gave him a tour of the office, where he met my staff members, saw television and radio control rooms, and got a sense of the energy in our newsroom.

What a wonderful thing to have my oldest son nearby again!

We also got a dusting of rain today, very welcome, with a promise of much more on the way...


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Mid-Week Get-Together

Left work mid-day and took my youngest to the Verizon store on Mission Street, where we have been going for years. She wanted a new phone, the iPhone 6 Plus, I believe.

Here she is with it.

We also had a nice long chat about school, applying for college, the election (the first one she can vote in!) and her upcoming birthday (18!).

It was one of the best visits we've had in a while.


Saturday, October 08, 2016

Unprecedented Chaos

The latest estimate by the most reliable statistical service has Clinton's chances of winning the election now at 82 percent, before any measurement of yesterday's abomination. My guess is that soon her chances will be measured at 85-90 percent by mid-week.

If Trump is not done, I'll be more surprised than I've ever been in any election cycle.

Today it is clear that many Republicans are abandoning Trump. That could soon surge into a landslide. At that point, Trump should just wuit.

His quest is over.


Friday, October 07, 2016

Turning Point in Election

Having covered so many Presidential campaigns, I'm reluctant to make a prediction a month out. But the video released today of Trump claiming in 2005 that he could essentially sexually assault women because he was a "star" is so sickening that I strongly suspect he will not win the election on November 8.

This conversation he was having with another man is not only disgusting, it is disqualifying. We'll see what happens over the next week, including at Sunday night's debate. The polls have stayed pretty close -- Clinton is probably up ~5 points nationally and leading in most of the contested states, the swing states.

I'll revisit whether I can make a projection by Monday or so.


Sunday, October 02, 2016

Brunch Today

With Dylan and Peter and Julia and Claire, a wonderful get-together. We had a slight rain today as well. The Giants made the playoffs. All is well.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Weekend News & Thoughts

Nice dinner with Julia at Wiz Burger last night after she walked over to KQED from the SPCA, where she was volunteering.

Just talked with Dylan, who drove up from Santa Cruz today. Sounds like he is doing well in classes and is planning to go to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in GG Park tomorrow.

We hope to have a brunch Sunday morning before he heads back to his apartment in Santa Cruz.


Donald Trump is very possibly the craziest person to ever head up a major party ticket for the presidency. The only comfort in that is he appears to be self-imploding. I hope all responsible citizens will make sure he never sets foot in the White House.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Election Report

It looks like Trump leads Clinton now. Tomorrow night's debate may prove pivotal but I do not think she is likely to win at this point. So unless key demographics come out to vote for Clinton in great numbers, she can lose.

Women, African Americans, Latinos -- it's really up to them. If they stay home, Trump will win.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Meeting

I met Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker writer and CNN commentator, today as he visited KQED to promote his new book about the Patty Hearst kidnapping on KQED's talkshow program, "Forum." It turns out Toobin was running late for the interview and the senior producer asked me to stand in for him at the start of the program.

So I went over and waited in the control room, ready to perform, when Toobin arrived just in time for the show. It was a very good show. In addition, host Michael Krasny and Toobin mentioned the articles in Rolling Stone that my friend Howard Kohn and I co-authored many decades ago three times.

Afterwards I introduced myself and walked Toobin out of KQED. He told me I was his "hero." I told him he was mine.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

All Matters

Claire with Peter at last night's Giants' game.

Unfortunately the Giants lost. But she was appropriately bundled up for our climate.

There were three apparent terror attacks last night, which somewhat diminishes what happens at a sports game.

Monitoring media today as I try to figure out what is going on here...


Saturday, September 17, 2016

How Candidates Fail

The Clinton political machine, which is far more sophisticated in conventional terms than Trump's, has seized on two messages this weekend -- Trump's long overdue admission that his role in the "Birther" movement was based in a lie, and Trump's despicable suggestion, once again, that a gun advocate should consider shooting Clinton.

He can, and does, contest both points, but he is wrong and the Democrats are right.

In a few days, another wave of polls will come to light.

Clinton will be back up by 3-5 points nationally; Trump will have fallen behind once again in the critical swing states.

This back-and-forth is to be expected but I have never witnessed a candidate who makes so many self-inflicted wounds as does Trump. This weekend is a media disaster for him. The polls will confirm that.

The Dems have another new rhetorical weapon -- demanding that Trump release a letter from the IRS proving he is under audit, which is the excuse he uses to not release his tax forms. Is this a huge lie? Knowing what Trump says and does, I believe it is.

Having been audited six times myself, I am very familiar with the form letter that arrives, with dread, when it starts. He could easily black out the few specifics such letters contain, while proving he is indeed under audit. The IRS, by law, cannot confirm a taxpayer is under audit until the appeals process reaches what is known as Tax Court.

Given Trump's penchant for litigation, if he indeed is under audit, maybe his return will get there, which is the only time it would become public without his consent.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Election Analysis

Hillary Clinton no longer clearly leads Donald Trump either in the popular vote or via the electoral map. The political landscape is changing and anyone analyzing it has to admit that Trump has been peaking lately.

Now the question is whether Clinton and the Democrats can regain the momentum. There still are almost two months left before the race gets decided.

If the present trend continues, Trump could well win. But I would venture a guess that the present trend will not continue.

That's because I think most of the tightening in the polls lately is a result of natural trends in an election year when no incumbent is running. The election may be up for grabs, but the electoral map continues to favor the Democrats.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sunday Update

Picked up Julia as she returned from a retreat with Girl Ventures, where she is on the advisory board, and drove her to Bernal. I had a little package of jelly beans for her.

She seems to be doing very well in school and is one of the top students in her senior class at Gateway. Maybe the top one.

She is applying for colleges. Her first choice would be a small private college but I hope she gets into U-C, Berkeley, where I think she would thrive. I think having a big network after college is better than a small one.


Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Happy Birthday, Aidan!

My middle son's 22nd.

We had a long talk today by phone.

And I am so proud of him.


Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Election Update

Polls indicate that 42 percent of the public identify as independent. Only 29 percent identify as Democrat and 26 percent Republican.

Nate Silver's 538 says Hillary Clinton has a 68.5 percent chance of winning the election. Personally, I believe the race is tightening at this point.

But the Democrats maintain an electoral advantage that is significant even if the popular vote is essentially split by the major parties, with perhaps 8-10 percent going to the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson.

538 predicts Clinton will win the electoral college, 307-231.


Monday, September 05, 2016

Labor Day Reflections

A nice brunch with Peter and Claire yesterday at the Atlas Cafe, where I have not been in a long while. Jack stayed in my apartment while we were away.

It's Labor Day but I do not expect to expend any labor today. Doing chores and getting ready for the week ahead is the best I can offer.

I have to report for possible jury duty early tomorrow morning -- the third time in a month. Not looking forward to that trek to the Hall of Justice.

I'm paying attention to the political race. For President, Trump continues to make mistakes but does not trail Clinto by that much in the polls. It's a hard race to fathom at this point. As I've written before, the electoral map is so favorable to the Democrats that I don't see how Trump can win, even if he draws even in the popular vote.

The other day I looked state by state and what shocked me was the extent of the divide between most blue and red states. Hillary is not only likely to win most of the blue states, her odds are in the 80-90 percent range.

Trump is not only likely to win the traditionally red states; his odds of doing so are in the 70-80 percent range. When analysts say we have a badly divided electorate they are not exaggerating.


Sunday, September 04, 2016

Weekend Quiet

Peter and Claire are settling into their new home in San Francisco; Aidan and Zaira into theirs in Missoula this weekend. Dylan is a week into his place in Santa Cruz.

I'm enjoying a weekend of sports watching -- Michigan won its first football game of the season, 63-3, and the Giants are within two games of the Dodgers in the NL West. I'm part of a fantasy football league at work and my fantasy baseball team, the Mud Lake Mafia, is in third place in a league of 13 teams.

It's sunny here today after a foggy stretch. Tomoko stopped by for tea yesterday.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Semesters Start

Aidan and Zaira have arrived in Missoula; Dylan in Santa Cruz.

I'm missing them.

Today I finally did some shopping -- tonight's meal was a lamp chop, pico de gallo, and guacamole. Comfort food, you could say, for an empty nester on his own.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Off to College Soon

New driver Dylan drove Aidan over to the neighborhood today at lunch hour, picked me up at work and we went to one of our favorites, El Matate, for a meal together.

They both leave for college on Saturday. Aidan off to Missoula; Dylan to Santa Cruz.

Both have cars now. Dylan's moving in with friends to an apartment; Aidan and Zaira will be in student housing.

I'll miss these guys, of course, but am grateful that within a week my oldest son, Peter, will be living here in the city.


Monday, August 22, 2016


Spending way too much for my taste of yet another Monday in Room 307 of the Hall of Justice. Most people only seem to get called for jury duty every few years, but I get called every single year. Someone must really want me to serve on a jury.

Inevitably, once I make it through all the way of the grueling process to sit in a judge's room as a potential juror, I always get dismissed by the prosecution. Who on that side wants an investigative reporter/editor on the jury?

This month, there was a screwup by the court two weeks ago and I had to waste another Monday dealing with this, only to find out later that week -- Thursday -- that my reporting responsibility had been delayed until today. That was because I had requested a deferment a month earlier due to our impending trip to Seattle for Peter and Claire's wedding and the court had not responded until I had spent that Monday-Thursday checking the court website, trying to find out whether to report.

If this round turns out the way it now appears, I will have to report again in two more weeks -- Tuesday, September 6 -- for a criminal trial that will last two weeks.

Whatever, I no longer care but I hope this bureaucratic nightmare somehow comes to some sort of end.


Sunday, August 21, 2016


You know, most people when they talk to me these years tend to compliment me on my career as a journalist, which is by any objective measure in its final years. And I thank them, because I *am* proud of the things we all have accomplished (as a team) and it is kind of them to have noticed. There are articles, books, documentaries and other artifacts to document what has happened due to our work. We've won awards, changed the world a bit, and hopefully helped lay the groundwork to improve life as we know it, even though I often doubt that, given the state of the planet.

But whatever has happened in my career is secondary and always has been because of what has occurred in my family life. Above please see my oldest son, Peter, his wife, Claire, and my daughters Laila, Sarah and Julia and sons, Aidan and Dylan.

As of today, it is official that Peter and Claire will be moving into an apartment 10 minutes from here in two weeks.

That means more to me than any journalism award.