Infospigot: The Chronicles

I thought you'd never ask

Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke
Editor, writer, journalist, student of history. Chicago native, long-time resident of Berkeley, California.


Dan Brekke's Links

With my dad's recent passing, and having made several (unrelated, except for my mood) recent visits to Chicago cemeteries, I've been thinking about epitaphs. Webster's defines epitaph as "1. an inscription on or at a tomb or a grave in memory of the one buried there. 2.: a brief statement commemorati… Read full post »

AUGUST 3, 2012 3:39AM

'A Private in Uncle Sam's Army'


It's my last night in Chicago for awhile--early morning, actually. I've stayed up way too late looking through a collection of letters Dad wrote when he was in Army basic training. That was in 1946, after World War II ended. The story we heard growing up, and I've got no… Read full post »

JULY 30, 2012 1:59PM

Dad: The Archive


We will be some time going through the archive of pictures and other effects our dad left behind. There's a lot there I don't remember having seen before. For instance, my brother Chris brought out a binder of transparencies last night that included some stunning shots of our mom during… Read full post »

JULY 30, 2012 2:00AM

For Dad: Three Readings

"...When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a… Read full post »

JULY 27, 2012 9:35PM



That's me and my dad and namesake, Stephen Daniel Brekke, back in 1955, when I was about a year or so old and he was 33 or 34. He was not a bad-looking guy, and he could rock a bow tie, as the young people say today. When my parents… Read full post »


My brief stay in Chicago has included a couple of Summer of 2012 heat spikes, interspersed with less radical summer weather, as a frontal boundary oscillates across this part of the Midwest. Today's National Weather Service forecast map for the Chicago region is orange in every direction, ind… Read full post »

JULY 23, 2012 12:30AM

Runaway Sun

A subject I haven't broached much in the past and one that's become central part of my daily consciousness over the last couple of years: my dad's decline and dire condition as the weight of ninety-plus years settles upon him. He's up in a hospital in Evanston fighting his third bout… Read full post »

JULY 21, 2012 2:30AM

Red Tails, Berkeley Hills Edition


We went for an afternoon hike up on the Seaview Trail in the Berkeley Hills. It was hot up there for the dog, but it was apparently perfect flying weather for red-tailed hawks. We saw a couple of them as we got up onto the ridge, apparently young one without… Read full post »

JULY 19, 2012 10:18PM

Yellow Bay, Blue Bay

There is also a sort of natural-colored bay, but I couldn't find it after processing some Berkeley waterfront pictures from this afternoon.



JULY 19, 2012 6:04PM

A Round Thing Out There in Space


KTVU ("There's Only One 2") News is very excited about NASA's upcoming landing attempt on Mars. It did a little item on the Curiosity mission a couple nights ago. The graphic accompanying the piece was attention-getting. Never has the Red Planet looked so ... moon-like. That's because instead… Read full post »

JULY 15, 2012 8:53PM



Growing just up the block, at the edge of a neighbor's yard. I'm sure it's noxious, non-native, invasive. For today, anyway, it's both severe and beautiful, something to steer clear of and wonder at. (And yes, whenever I see a thistle part of my brain zips back to the lobby… Read full post »


That's my mom, Mary Alice Hogan, posing with Old Glory. There's no date on the picture, but I would guess this was the 4th of July and that she was about 16. That would place the picture in 1945 or '46. A further guess: The picture was taken at her… Read full post »

JUNE 29, 2012 2:40PM

Embarcadero Pedicab


Short version of this post: A very cool pedicab driver gave me a free ride a couple weeks ago, and I want to say "thanks again." I'm also including a pretty picture of the Ferry Building taken on another night altogether, because I like it.

Longer version: Most Fridays, I… Read full post »


While the rest of the world reacted to today's Supreme Court health care decision, we were witnessing the miracle of insect sex here in North Berkeley. To wit: Kate has been raising silkworms as part of her science teaching. We had a little plastic storage container that has become home… Read full post »

JUNE 27, 2012 10:40PM

Lest We Forget ...

Most Amazing High Definition Image of Earth - Blue Marble 2012

... What a beautiful place.

Was just thinking about whether there might be some interesting satellite pictures of the fires in Colorado. I'm sure there are. On my way to finding them, I encountered the shot above, which is a NASA mosaic of our planet taken this past January 4.… Read full post »

JUNE 27, 2012 3:14PM

Compost Community News

compost062712.jpgWe have a compost bin in our backyard. It's had its ups and downs over the years. Sometimes it has actually supplied organic-fertilizer-type material that we have used here on our extensive North Berkeley estate. More often, it has been a way of dealing with food scraps that we and the… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JUNE 24, 2012 4:40PM

Live at 16th Street BART


Here's Dennis Blackwell, a guy who was playing at the 16th and Mission BART station on Friday. It does not look like a nice spot. The crowd's hustling by, you have a little pigeon dung to deal with, and station agents who take in the whole thing with a cold… Read full post »

JUNE 20, 2012 11:32AM

Weeping in My Cappuccino


The other adult in our household teaches school. She happens to work in a community where many families are intimate with poverty and some of its associated experiences, including a poor diet, lack of access to regular medical care, limited opportunities for exercise because of generally dang… Read full post »

Current reading: "Beyond the Hundredth Meridian," by Wallace Stegner. It's a biography of John Wesley Powell, known popularly for making the first boat trip through the Grand Canyon (in 1869), for being among the founders of the U.S. Geological Survey, for his thorough and sympathetic study of Native… Read full post »

A long, long time ago (sometime last fall), one of my fellow editors at KQED radio asked if I'd be interested in doing a story for a series on water and power in California. The series would look at the close relationship between water and energy in the state: on one… Read full post »

JUNE 9, 2012 8:59PM

Front-Porch Visitor


This specimen, an Indian Walking Stick, showed up on the front porch this past Tuesday (Election Day). Or maybe it was there earlier and we took no notice. It's certainly unobtrusive. In fact, we didn't try to identify it until today. And when we did, we found out that this… Read full post »

JUNE 3, 2012 4:07PM

Hill Climb

Yesterday, to demonstrate a point--water is heavy and it takes a lot of energy to move it--I walked with a cubic foot of water on my back up Marin Avenue, a well-known hill here in Berkeley. A cubic foot of water is 62.4 pounds. To get it into a relatively manageable… Read full post »

JUNE 2, 2012 2:57AM

Midday Deer Encounter


About 1 this afternoon, walking south on the north end of Shattuck Avenue (the end that turns into a narrow residential street in the lower hills after coursing six-lane style across downtown). The Dog was off the leash after we crossed Los Angeles Avenue, and out of nowhere (a… Read full post »

MAY 31, 2012 2:04PM

Posted in Berkeley: Lost Key

toyotakey1.jpg toyotakey2.jpg

I saw the posting at left about two weeks ago on Grant Street near Ohlone Park. As part of my ongoing interest in Berkeley flier culture, it piqued my interest. I especially like the handwriting and the attempt to attach the sign to a tree with packing tape. I… Read full post »

MAY 31, 2012 2:35AM

War of 1812: A Quiet Bicentennial


President James Madison's proclamation of war against Great Britain. (Library of Congress. Click for larger image.)

I'm not hearing a lot about the 200th anniversary, on Friday, of President James Madison asking Congress to declare war on Great Britain, opening the way to the War of 1812. The… Read full post »