Blog

Welcome to my blog where I will post commentary on issues ranging from fiction to public policy. Tucked away in the Idea Boxes are “how to” tips on a variety of projects that have become part of our family’s culture over the years. I hope you’ll find some useful ideas there. My blog will take you through the fantastic journey of writing fiction, as well as the decisions I will be making about publication of my first novel One Summer in Arkansas. Thanks for your interest.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

An Open Letter to Stanford University

The Committee for Dish Access speaks for friends, alumni, donors, former and current faculty and staff and other local supporters of Stanford University. We do not live on campus, but we do love and appreciate the university and all it brings to our area.

In particular, we love the Dish. So do lots of others, witnessed by 750,000 entries through the Dish gates annually.

The popularity of the Dish trails can be attributed to an increasingly urban environment surrounding Stanford, intense residential development, awareness of the health benefits of exercise, desire for access to nature, women’s safety concerns, the convenience of paved paths for mothers with strollers and an accessible and challenging 3.5 mile workout for people with busy schedules.

The traffic congestion along Stanford Avenue is the result of too many cars competing for too few parking spaces. The university has reduced available parking over the past few years by implementing parking restrictions on almost every nearby street, even as the Dish has grown in popularity.  And the Stanford Avenue gate has become virtually the only access point to the hills.

Although there are many sites where the university could accommodate parking and many gates that could be opened, Stanford has resolutely resisted proposals to provide parking or to open alternative access points. We believe this is based on outdated and overly conservative legal advice about loss of private property to public use in a way that might limit the university’s future options.

Stanford’s current proposal to eliminate half the parking along Stanford Avenue and replace it with parking on Coyote Hill Road, without providing access anywhere near Coyote Hill, can only be explained as an effort to limit the number of hikers and runners on the Dish.

The plan Stanford filed with Santa Clara County makes Dish access more difficult and hazardous, sending hundreds of Dish walkers across the busy Page Mill/Junipero Serra intersection at rush hour.  The proposal works at cross-purposes with the university’s own promotion of healthy lifestyles -- BeWell@Stanford -- and with the construction of a new $5 billion hospital complex.

We urge Stanford to reconsider its current parking proposal.  The university should promote the common good of its greater community and find a way to facilitate, and not discourage, access to the Dish.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

John Adams and the Government Shutdown


Our family reads aloud at the dinner table after meals, the current selection being John Adams: Revolutionary Writings 1775 – 1783.  The volume consists mainly of letters written during the years when Adams and the other founders were in Philadelphia putting together a government that would serve the people of the American colonies.

I have ever thought it the most difficult and dangerous part of the business Americans have to do in this mighty contest, to contrive some method for the colonies to glide insensibly from under the old government into a peaceable and contented submission to new ones.

Adams’ letters reflect the commitment these men felt to creating a form of government that would work for the people.  They negotiated and argued fervently among themselves about how such a government should be constituted – what class of people should get the vote, how to give the individual states autonomy within a single nation, what tenure to give elected officials and so on.  But they felt a strong sense of common purpose.

There must be a positive passion for the public good, the public interest, honor, power and glory, established in the minds of the people, or there can be no republican government, nor any real liberty.

Can’t help but wonder what John Adams would have thought about today’s impasse in Congress and the shutdown of our government.

Partisanship is inevitable, and maybe necessary, in a democracy.  What has changed is the sense of common purpose and the passion for the public good. 

I’m not sure what it would take to make us feel once again part of the same team.

But, like John Adams, I think both our liberty and our very form of government are put at risk when we consider only our own needs and preferences and lose our focus on the common good.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Committee for Dish Access

Please join those of us from the Peninsula who want to continue to have access to Stanford’s Dish hiking trail.  As you may know (http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=30977), Stanford is planning to eliminate over half the parking spots on Stanford Avenue and substitute parking on Coyote Hill Road, south of Page Mill and a good half mile from the Dish gate.

Two community meetings have been held on this subject, but few Dish walkers have shown up.  The audience consisted largely of Stanford neighbors who are tired of so much traffic on Stanford Avenue and on their streets.

Stanford Community Relations will take additional comments on this subject before it goes to County of Santa Clara for approval at communityrelations@Stanford.edu.  Please let them know that you care about access to the Dish and appreciate the health benefits of Stanford’s beneficence, but that Coyote Hill Road is too far from the gate and too cumbersome to cross busy Page Mill and walk so far along Junipero Serra before hitting the first hill.  You can ask Stanford Community Relations to be put on their mailing list for information about Dish parking.

Also we have formed a Committee for Dish Access and hope you will consent to joining our email list by sending an email to CommitteeforDishAccess@gmail.com.  This will not result in your name or email address being sent to anyone else without your consent.  It just enables us to keep you informed and to organize the community if future opportunities come up for your input.

If people who hike the Dish don’t speak up, we could find ourselves without access to this wonderful space.

PLEASE FORWARD THIS LINK TO FRIENDS WHO MAY BE INTERESTED IN DISH ACCESS.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking


America’s love affair with extroverts began in the early part of the 20th century, when people like Dale Carnegie impressed upon our parents the importance of winning friends and influencing people in order to be successful. 

But our cultural preference for extroversion was not always a part of our national psyche.  In the 19th century, America judged leadership potential the same way many countries do today – on the basis of integrity, judgment, reliability and intelligence.

The emerging growth cultures of Asia are not the only places in the world today puzzled by the America’s continuing obsession with popularity and by our insistence upon turning over most of our elective offices, executive management positions and financial control to people who would rather talk than listen, who make quick decisions based on gut instinct and who prefer risk to contemplation.

Susan Cain’s defense of introverts, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking weaves together research and personal anecdotes to make a case for taking a second look at the value brought to relationships and organizations by our quieter, more sensitive citizens.

She challenges the corporate focus on team building, open space offices and endless meetings, recounting histories of influential leaders who had a preference to work alone and in quiet.  She is surprised that scarcely an introvert is to be found on the hallowed grounds of Harvard Business School and wonders whether Enron or the economic collapse of the housing market would have happened if the investment banks had put in positions of responsibility fewer talkers and more thinkers.

 Ms. Cain’s chapter on raising sensitive children provides useful guidance to parents of children who don’t easily adjust to the forced extroversion of years of schooling in an environment better suited to outgoing personalities.

I’m not generally a fan of self-help books or psychological non-fiction.  I listened to the audio version of this book while running errands.  But Susan Cain is insightful and perceptive, and this book is worth reading.  





Monday, August 5, 2013

August Special!

The first 25 people to purchase a copy of One Summer in Arkansas from Amazon.com during the month of August will receive an additional, signed copy of the novel delivered to the recipient of your choice. Not only will you end the summer with a great read, you will be able to share an amazing story with a friend or family member at no charge! Simply email your date of purchase on Amazon along with the name and address of the gift recipient to Marciakempsterling@sonic.net and we'll mail a signed copy of One Summer in Arkansas to the book lover of your choice! Happy Reading!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summertime

Summer is the season for family and vacation, so my focus on selling books has been set aside for the moment.

I’m on a flight back to the Bay Area after a week in Boston for our annual Uniform Law Conference.  Since Nat is a commissioner and has to be there, he booked a flight, while I’m travelling standby, one of the perks associated with having a pilot in the family.  Note to parents:  Make sure that at least one of your kids pursues a career flying for a commercial airline. 

Our speaker at the ULF dinner this year was Doris Kearns Goodwin, discussing the Lincoln presidency, a topic of much interest to our conference of lawyers.



We arrive home with only a week to prepare for Cousin Camp, the annual gathering of our clan when our children and grandchildren make their way to Palo Alto from all over the world.  It’s always interesting to have 22 people in your house for a week, but this year will be special, culminating in Deb and Steve’s wedding in the backyard.  Arts and crafts at Cousin Camp will be devoted entirely to wedding decorations this year.

All five granddaughters will participate in the ceremony, providing a charming pink backdrop for our beautiful bride.