Happy Fourth of July!
On this day in 1776 the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress which announced that the 13 American colonies were no longer part of the British Empire. That was the culmination of the American Revolution.
The American Revolution refers to the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which the Thirteen Colonies of North America overthrew the governance of the Parliament of Great Britain, and then rejected the British monarchy itself to become the sovereign United States of America. In this period the colonies first rejected the authority of the Parliament to govern them without representation, and formed self-governing independent states. These states through the Second Continental Congress then joined together against the British to defend that self-governance in the armed conflict from 1775 to 1783 known as the American Revolutionary War (also called American War of Independence). This resulted in the individual states uniting to form one nation, breaking away from the British Empire in 1776 when the Congress issued the Declaration of Independence. While the states had already rejected the governance of Parliament, through the Declaration the new United States now rejected the legitimacy of the monarchy to demand allegiance. The war lasted for seven years, with effective American victory in October 1781, followed by formal British abandonment of any claims to the United States with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. [Wiki.]
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It’s been a while since I was in the US on July 4th — the last time was back in 2003. As I mentioned before, I am teaching a course on economic development at UC Berkeley over this summer. It is a wonderful break to teach a topic close one’s head at a place close to one’s heart.
So the rest of the post is personal — the what I had for breakfast type. Here’s what’s happening.
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Date: Thursday 25th June
The first week of class is always the busiest week for an instructor (as opposed to the last week of class which is the busiest for a student.) Class started this week and so I am really busy. I just can’t figure out where the time goes.
Today the weather in the Berkeley/Oakland area is totally different from yesterday’s. Yesterday when I came home (I live up in the Oakland hills, overlooking the San Francisco bay — see satellite map), the fog from the Golden Gate of the San Francisco Bay was rising up to the Bekeley/Oakland hills and engulfing the house. That leads to the strange effect of rain only under the trees — the trees were condensing the moisture. It was cold and windy. It reminded me of Mark Twain’s observation that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.
Today it was clear. Sunny but not too cold.
Drove to school and did my teaching. I teach Monday through Thursday. Office hours are 2 to 4 Tue and Wed at Evans 697. My office is next to Brad deLong’s. As good neighbors, we are going out for lunch on Wednesday next week after class.
Campus is about 6 miles (10 kms) from home. I cannot use a bicycle because of the steep climb on the way back. I will be driving to school — or when possible, my friend Courtenay will give me a ride. Rides are always welcome as parking is a major hassle around campus. I am not willing to pay for a parking permit in one of the UC parking lots. That means that I have to often park around a mile away from campus. But that is not so bad because walking up and down hills is good for the body.
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Here’s how Google cameras captured the address I live at:
If you mouse over the picture, you can change the orientation and see the neighborhood. Actually, the drive up is over 2 miles of winding and steep climb up quite a narrow road. If I were living down in the flatlands of Berkeley, I would have used a bicycle to get to school. Going up 2 miles of steep climb with cars coming around blind corners is hard and dangerous.
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Date: Sunday 28th June
(Picture on the right: Cassie at 2 years of age.)
Everyone is home today. I live with my friend Courtenay, her husband Alexis, and Cassie — she’s just turned 4. Courtenay is presently laid-off and looking for a job. She does advertising media director type of work; Alexis works for Abbot Diagnostics.
Wow! It is hot! It was probably 95 degrees inside the house in the afternoon. No fans in the house. We had to go outside because at least in the shade under the trees it was manageable.
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The weather around here is really variable. One day it is sweltering hot — and the next day it is freezing cold. On Monday it cooled down. The fans that Courtenay had brought from her mom’s place on Sunday night aren’t needed.
Bob passed away on Sunday night after a year-long fight with cancer. He was 78. He was Courtenay’s step-father.
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Date: Wednesday 1st July
Courtenay said that she would take me to school today after dropping Cassie off at day care. It was one of those perfect days: perfect temperature in the 70s, clear blue skies. I was driving and Cassie in the backseat was being needy and cranky, as she often is. Courtenay was doing her best to calm her down. Let’s listen to a song, we all decided. Which one? How about “Should I stay or should I go”? Cassie likes that.
We put on that song. We were driving along San Pablo St in Berkeley. Traffic was light, it was 9 AM. The song ended and the next song on the CD began with the long familiar notes of the piano. It was Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over troubled water.” For some reason it was magical. We all sang along.
(That song was recorded exactly 40 years ago. Amazing, isn’t it.)
We arrived at the day care and I said that I will wait in the car for Courtenay to go and drop off Cassie. I had a bit of reading to do before my class, anyway. But the song following S&G was “What a wonderful world.” I ended up listening to it a couple of times and did not bother with reading. Reading can wait. Louis Armstrong’s song in the here and now cannot.
(Here’s a video of Louis Armstrong singing that song. Wonderful expressions on his face.)
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Today I am in San Jose at Adrian’s.
Yesterday (Friday) was “4th of July” holiday. When the 4th falls on a Saturday as it does this year, the holiday is on the 3rd, and when it falls on a Sunday, the holiday is on the 5th.
I drove down yesterday afternoon from Oakland. Adrian was alone at home as the family is in Boston. He’s always doing something — building something, fixing cars, building houses — all that you’d expect guy who grew up in a farm to do. He’s also a crack packaging engineer. Works for semiconductor firms designing those little black packages that chips live inside of.
Prasad came over to Adrian’s place so that he could catch him before he left. Adrian took a red-eye to Boston, on his way to Ireland. His mom is not doing well and he’s taking Niamh and Christopher to see their grandma perhaps for the last time.
Prasad and I went out for dinner. Fast food at a restaurant on Santa Teresa in San Jose.
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I have some work to do today. As I am alone at home, I will have no distractions. It is 11 AM now and I have not even gotten out of bed. I have to grab something to eat before I pass out from hunger. I will do so as soon as I post this.
Talking of food, dinner tonight is at Prasad’s place. It will be fish.
OK, that’s it. I am out of here. Happy 4th of July once again.