Berkeley has to be the most hypocritical city in the entire United States. Berkeley’s traffic makes the traffic in San Francisco look well managed. The prevailing attitude towards the car in Berkeley seems to be: “Everyone should be forced to ride public transit…except me.” Of course, this is the city that brought you the “Nuclear Free Zone,” so I don’t know why I am surprised at that fact.

We have The Nine Most Useless Buttons in America. Our microwave (manufactured by Kenmore) has nine buttons labeled:

  1. Frozen Vegetable
  2. Frozen Entree
  3. Potato
  4. Popcorn
  5. Pizza Slice
  6. Fresh Vegetable
  7. Roll/Muffin
  8. Soup/Beverage
  9. More/Less Doneness

The idea is that one could insert a slice of pizza into the microwave, push “Pizza Slice” once, and walk away secure in the knowledge that one’s faithful microwave was dutifully reheating one slice of leftover pepperoni and mushroom pizza via a precisely determined method to the optimal temperature for enjoyment.

The reality is, however, that none of these buttons have any use in the real world. For instance, there are several different sizes of potatoes commonly sold in the grocery store, and I doubt that heating one little red potato takes as long as heating one large brown potato. I know from experience that putting microwave popcorn in the microwave and pushing “Popcorn” is a recipe for disaster. The microwave will happily stop heating the popcorn at the precise moment that doing so will produce the smallest number of popped kernels.

Pushing “Pizza Slice” will heat one slice of pizza to exactly room temperature. Using the “More/Less Doneness” button will produce such culinary delights as “Bubbling Mountain of Cheese” from pizza slices and “Awful Stench of Burnt Popcorn.” That button would be more truthfully labeled as “More Raw/More Burnt.” If there was some way to get rid of these buttons that we never use and replace them on the panel with a larger display, that would be a truly useful thing.

Bought Ani DiFranco’s new album “To The Teeth” today. The title song is a long drawn out editorial against gun ownership. Her relatively simplistic solution to the problem of gun ownership is to just stop acknowledging the existence of the Second Amendment. Of course, if we just stop acknowledging the existence of the Second Amendment, what’s to stop us from conveniently forgetting about the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, etc.? That idea falls into the category of “Not Even a Good Idea in Principle.”

Visited Point Richmond today for the first time. Richmond itself is a really rough town. Someone once joked to me that the toughs from Oakland don’t go to Richmond because they’re not tough enough. Point Richmond, however, is actually pretty nice. It’s a pleasant little alcove of shops, offices, houses, and restaurants tucked into the shadow of the San Rafael bridge, oil refineries, and an interstate highway.