Some Thoughts After Thanksgiving

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Some Thoughts After Thanksgiving

Have you ever wondered why turkey is the traditional meal on the Thanksgiving table? The common tale is that after the colonists arrived in Plymouth in 1621 and had their first harvest, they expressed their gratitude to God by having a turkey for their feast, since turkeys were plentiful in the fields.

No one really knows what the pilgrims ate during the celebration. However millions of people have chosen to follow the tradition. As it turns out, this is likely just a legend.
To make my point, let me share with you another turkey story.

A husband noticed that that his wife cuts both ends of the turkey before putting it into the oven. When he asked her why, she referred him to her mother, who, in turn, sent him to her mother. When he asked Granny, she said that when she was growing up, her mom had a small pot. For the turkey to fit in, she cut both ends. And so it goes. Both of those stories demonstrate how often we believe in stories and try to convince others without finding the source.

By the time I am writing this story, Thanksgiving is over and the turkey has been digested. Though during some Thanksgiving gatherings, some families had difficulty digesting the results of the recent election of our 45th President-elect, Donald Trump.

Fortunately for all of us, Thanksgiving is followed with “Black Friday”, during which people of different beliefs and affiliations pursue the same goal. As a bottom line, we all want the same – give presents and receive them, preferably while buying them at the discounted price.

The term “Black Friday” was coined in the 1960s to mark the kick off of the holiday shopping season. “Black” refers to stores moving from the “red” to “black” at the time when records were written by hand and red ink indicated loss and black – profit.
The “Black Friday” tradition crossed the boundaries of the United States and is now followed in other countries as well.

For me, “Black Friday” offered the opportunity “to shop” with my camera, since I needed the right images for this story, though I also contributed to the economy by buying a pair of new jeans at 50% off the price.

Enjoy and Share on Facebook. Please like my author’s page on Facebook.com/42encounters.

P.S. As you know by now, my photo-story book, “42 Encounters in San Francisco” is ready. My goal is for more people to enjoy it. And perhaps, to make it a best seller on Amazon! I could use your help. Next Friday, December 9th please log on to Amazon.com and buy the book and use social media to encourage others to do the same. It is a marvelous gift for the coming holidays and other occasions. Start your personal collection. I guarantee you will enjoy it very much, and if it will not help you smile, please return it for a full refund. I am grateful to you in advance.

P.P.S. A letter from one of my early readers:

“As an immigrant who calls San Francisco home, I have enjoyed reading your book and its pictures very much. The book has captured the never ending colorful moments of San Francisco spectacularly and the little timeless stories just make this book delightful.

I look forward to sharing your book with friends and family who visit and would like to place an order for 20 copies to gift to my very San Franciscan clients this holiday season.

Thank you, Manny, for loving San Francisco and keeping it alive and authentic”

Kajal Pashmi

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Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature

Mount Davidson

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Mount Davidson

Three months ago I decided to share my experiences from the streets of our beautiful city with you. After a recent visit to Mt. Davidson, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, I decided to add it to my list of special places. Since we live close to this nature wonder, I often walk up there early on weekend mornings, to witness the sunrise.

Mount Davidson is the highest natural point in our city with an elevation of 928 feet. It is one of the “Seven Hills”; San Francisco is known for – Telegraph Hill, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Ricon Hill, Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson and Lone Mountain or Mount Sutro (I will share stories and images with you about those in the future). There are actually 43 hills in San Francisco, each offering great views of the city. It is not surprising that real estate prices in those areas are so high, since the views command higher prices. But let’s go back to our original destination. Before Adolf Sutro (who deserves his own special story) purchased the land in 1881, it was called “Blue Mountain”. It was renamed for George Davidson, who among many other accomplishments was the president of the California Academy of Sciences. In 1911 Sutro’s appraiser, A.S. Baldwin, bought this land from his heirs and began plans to develop Forest Hill, St. Francis Wood, Westwood Park, Balboa Terrace and Monterey Heights, where our house was built in 1928.

Mount Davidson Park is located near the geographical center of the city. It can be reached by the 36 Teresita Muni Line, if you prefer not to drive, or by foot, if you do not mind walking up the steep hill. In 1923 a wooden cross was erected on the top of the hill, only to be burned down. It was replaced and burned down again. In 1929, 20 acres at the top of Mount Davidson was purchased by the City of San Francisco for use as a park. After a number of crosses were burned down in 1934, the 103-foot high concrete and steel cross became a permanent fixture. This area holds Sunrise Services every Easter. In 1991 a number of organizations sued the City over the ownership of the cross. Instead of the demolition of this historical monument, it was sold for $26,000 to the Council of Armenian American Organizations of Northern California, which installed a bronze plaque at the base to honor the victims of the 1915 Armenian genocide.

Unlike other hills, Mount Davidson does not have many visitors (except, of course, on Easter). I usually only meet some of our neighbors there, who come to this beautiful place with their dogs. It is often covered by fog; but when the sky is clear, it offers panoramic views from downtown to the hills of San Bruno. When I get there, it is still dark, but then gradually the sky grows brighter, eliminating the hills on the other side of San Francisco Bay, from where his majesty the Sun makes his daily appearances every morning. Enjoy and Share.

P.S. Please let me know if you want to join me on one of my walks to Mount Davidson. As the days get shorter, it can be after 6 am. Until then, please enjoy these four images of the beautiful sunrise. In the future, I might put together a book of the sunrise images I’ve taken all over the world. Meanwhile, please buy “42 Encounters in San Francisco” at encounterspublishing.com. This is an endorsement that I received from one of my readers, Marc Litton.

Dear Manny,

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book and marveling at the pictures. I really think you captured San Francisco as San Franciscans know this great city. Great, as you clearly know, because of its wonderful diversity and rich cultural history. What I really enjoyed most was your melding of serendipitous thoughts on your subjects with quintessential aspects of the city. It was like enjoying a delightful dream, which I guess, from your comments, is how you view life in this city. I also think it was important to work a picture of yourself in your book and I was happy to see it on the last page. I can’t wait to see your next installment.

 Cheers, Marc

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Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature

Walking Through Life

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Walking Through Life

The Torah, which is believed to be written by Moses in 1312 BCE, is divided into 52 weekly chapters, which are read in the synagogues or in private, every Saturday. Last week’s chapter was called Lech Lecha (usually the title is the word or phrase in the beginning of the first sentence). It begins with God giving instructions to Abram: “Lech Lecha”. “The Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your land, from your relatives, and from your fathers’ house to the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation.” (Genesis 12:1-2) The idea of walking appeared in the Torah before. After God created Earth and people started to populate it, one of them “Enoch walked with God for three hundred years after begotten Methuselah” (Genesis 5:22). And in the next chapter “Noah was righteous man, perfect in his generation. Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9). Enoch was part of the generation that disappeared in the flood, while Noah’s job was to save only his family and the birds and animals. But Abram had a different mission. “Hashem appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Shadai; walk before Me and be perfect. I will set My covenant between Me and you, I will increase you most exceedingly.” (Genesis 17:1-2). “No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations.” (Genesis 17:5)

It turns out that to enable someone to accomplish his or her mission in life, one does not have to follow God, but rather to leave everything behind, the familiar and comfortable environment, to find their own path, knowing that God is behind watching their journey.
The problem is only that there is a condition, one needs to know what it takes to be perfect. And of course the answer is going to come after one learns the Torah. And what if you do not have the time, knowledge or desire to do that, or cannot connect with the Torah’s teaching? Perhaps then you need to head to another wise teacher.
The saying “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” belongs to the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (who lived in 6th -5th century BCE). He was known for many popular sayings like, “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading”. Lao Tsu also said, “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality, let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they live.”

When I started writing this story, I had no idea where it would lead me and which images I will use to support it. But on Friday, coming home at the end of a long day, I felt tired, and instead of taking a nap, I decided to go for a walk without any expectations, to follow my regular path with my small camera in my pocket. When I first saw the horizon, there was only one line from the setting sun (Technically, the sun does not set, it is the earth, which is rotating around the sun). I snapped a photo and kept walking, but when I noticed more colors on the sky, I changed the direction (following Lao Tzu’s wise words), and came to a spot with a better view. You see the result. If I kept going, the sunset would be there anyway, but neither you nor I would see it. Enjoy and Share, and keep walking.

P.S. Three images can tell you their own story. While I was photographing the sunset a man came to me and asked if I saw the sky behind me. To get this image, I had to turn around. One of the rules in photography is not to settle with what is in front of your eyes, to change your surroundings, turn around and keep shooting, or you can buy my book “42 Encounters in San Francisco” at encounterspublishing.com. and have it all there.

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Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature

How To Express Gratitude

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How To Express Gratitude?

On a recent Tuesday evening I was watching an episode of the British TV series, Dowton Abbey, followed by a documentary about how this production was made. The moderator explained that the actors had to learn how to behave in the time of Edwardian England. One of the traits at the time was that aristocratic masters did not acknowledge or even say “thank you” to their servants.
I have been thinking about that, as we are approaching Thanksgiving Day.
The first celebration of this holiday is traced to 1621, when a group of Pilgrims, who came to Plymouth from England, gathered together for a meal three days after the first harvest, to express their gratitude to God. Thanksgiving became a federal holiday in 1863, when during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it a national day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.

You might be wondering what is the connection between my two stories. It is very simple. Do we have to wait for the one day in a year to express our gratitude by “eating turkey”? Are we like the British Aristocracy who do not notice those who serve us and acknowledge them and say “Thank you”, throughout the remainder of the year? Today is Veterans Day. Like Thanksgiving, it became a holiday as a result of a war. In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day after the end of World War I, known as “The Great War”. Since then, the United States has taken part in many more wars, and it is our duty to express gratitude to those veterans, who served our country. Is there anyone else in your life that you forgot to say “Thank you” to? Perhaps it is your parents, children, siblings, friends, teachers, co-workers, waiters who have served you in restaurants and a myriad of other people?

There is a special reason why I am writing this story two weeks before Thanksgiving – to give you enough time to buy a gift to express your gratitude. Flowers and candies are good, but a good book can last longer.
I created “42 Encounters in San Francisco” as my expression of gratitude to my city. I want to share it with you as well. I guarantee that you and your friends will enjoy it. You will open it again and again when you will feel down, just to get uplifted and smile. Start your collection. I expect to have the sequel, “42 Encounters with Couples in San Francisco” to be available soon to help you with finding the right holiday present, again. You can order the book @encounterspublishing.com.
Enjoy and Share.

P.S. Recently I received an endorsement from one of my readers (Carle Horne)

Your book took me on such a wonderful journey of San Francisco and all it’s incredible people and beauty. It is so easy to take life for granted, and it reminded me of why I moved here in the first place. You have truly captured the pictures and the stories. What I really love is all the history you provide us with in telling these stories. I look forward to sharing this journey with others.
Warm Regards
Carl Horne

If you think that my book is not good as a present to express your gratitude, then perhaps flowers can be an alternative. You have four to choose from.

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Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature

Do People Have A Choice?

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Do People Have A Choice?

Some time ago I went to the book reading “The River in My Backyard” by Mikkel Aaland. I wrote about his books before. In the book the author writes about his brother murdering their father because “God told him to do so.” It turns out that his brother has schizophrenia – a mental disease. He was acting odd during his life and consumed big amounts of marijuana in his teenage years. During his talk Mikkel pointed out that consumption of the marijuana can stimulate the development in those who have predisposition for the disease. Unfortunately, in spite of acting weird, sick people do net get adequate medical assistance until like in the case of the brother, the murderer is locked up and receives all necessary medications to control their condition.

I thought about this recently while visiting Portland, Oregon. When we stepped out from our hotel in the downtown, we noticed quite a few weird people, who by their behavior looked crazy to me. And not in the way I would like to photograph them. When I saw a man, whom I noticed before as lying on the pavement, vomiting on the road, I wondered who will wash it out. The solution came the next day – it rained. (It rains a lot in Portland.) With the population of about 600,000, Portland is a diverse and green city and had quite a few areas to visit. But it also has problems with over 1800 homeless population. Perhaps similar to one we have in San Francisco.

Lately there is a lot of attention to this problem and press coverage. To help to solve homeless conditions, four cities in the Bay Area put measures on November ballots tout tax hikes bonds to build 20,000 low cost units by generating 3 billion for the next 25 years.

During the recent dinner in the friends’ house, one of the guests asked what I think about an article in the San Francisco Chronicle regarding construction of the prefabricated buildings with the 160 square feet units for the homeless. My view is that unless there is a system, which will help less fortunate people by offering medical assistance to get rid of the drugs habits and to put away mentally sick people, nothing will work. The goal should be to assist those who are capable and willing to become contributing members of our society, to repay the cost of helping them. So far it costs San Francisco about $80,000 a year per person to deal with the problem. But this problem is not new and probably will never go away. In the book “Talks on the Parasha” Rabbi Adin-Israel Steinsaltz points out “The pauper says “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but provide me with my daily bread” (Proverbs. 30:8). Proverbs were written by King Solomon, who lived in 10th Century B.C. He also pointed out that “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

P.S. Haight-Ashbury, which was the heart of the Hippie movement, still serves as a magnet and attracts drifters, which are easy models to photograph. You will find a few of the images and stories in my book “42 Encounters in San Francisco.” @ encounterspublishing.com.

Do Not Keep Me As A Secret!
Smile And Please SHARE It With A Friend!

Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature