Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Roll up your sleeve past your bicep, bend your arm at the elbow, and squeeze your bicep muscle. Now, relax and contract again. And relax. What do you see? Movement, right? Do you see a little mouse?

Well, some anatomist did when the word ‘muscle’ was coined; it comes from the Latin word ‘musculus’ – meaning little mouse named such because the movement of a muscle is reminiscent of a little mouse moving under a blanket.

In fact, a number of terms for our anatomy have animals hiding within.

The coccyx, commonly called the tailbone, is the small triangle-shaped bone at the base of the spinal column and named for its resemblance to the beak of a cuckoo bird. ‘Coccyx’ comes from Greek for cuckoo bird.

The cornea, the transparent membrane covering the surface of the eye comes from the Latin word ‘cornu’, meaning “animal horn,” because – delicate though it seems – this tissue is surprisingly hard, like an animal’s horn.

Another anatomy term comes from cornu. Keratin is the tough protein that is the main structural component of hair and nails in humans and hooves, claws, feathers, beaks, and horns in other animals.

The cochlea, a spiral-shaped cavity of the inner ear is called such because it looks like a snail shell: snail is ‘kokhlos’ in Greek.

And if you think you’re going to have trouble remembering all of this, you’re underestimating your hippocampus, the part of our brain crucial for long-term memory. The hippocampus was a mythological sea creature who was part horse – ‘hippo’ is Greek for “horse” — and part fish. An Italian anatomist thought this area was suggestive of the curves of the Hippocampus’s tail, and so it was named.

We also have a few less scientific terms for parts of our anatomy inspired by animals: cowlick, dewlap, crow’s feet, buck teeth, harelip, goatee, ponytail, and pigtails.

These and many more animal-related words reflect how deeply rooted animals are in our consciousness, in our history, in our lives – and deep in our animal bones.

With a Perspective, this is Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is an author and animal activist living in Oakland.

Carol Denny

People go to People’s Park and look for different things. Tourists look for a 1960’s museum experience so they can go shopping. University of California officials worry that the sixties are still there hoping they’ll be over someday. But others look for the people who make the Park what it is, people who, as much as the weather, predict the likelihood of good music, good stories, arguments and jokes. Maybe a friend they met in a holding cell they can borrow a couple bucks from or pay back. And usually there was Hate Man.

Hate Man, born Mark Hawthorne, was a philosopher who encouraged people to confront negative feelings, which he saw as more honest. He was articulate, educated, and loved conversation. He dressed in creative attire unusual even for Berkeley, which, like his philosophy, gave quiet permission to others to stretch their ideas of personal expression. And when he died recently, our town stopped to pay him and his eccentric ideas gratitude and honor.

The University of California’s war on eccentricity still exists in their “People’s Park Rules”, which criminalize baby strollers unless carrying a baby. That was for Hate Man’s colorfully decorated baby stroller he used to carry his possessions, and for the strangely gracious power of a philosopher they repeatedly forced into court.

After the block now known as People’s Park was bulldozed in 1967, the university tried to quell the revolutionary culture and its gentle warriors. Hate Man’s embrace of “oppositionality”, fit right into this revolution.

We are sad to lose him, but will forever see Hate Man on our streets and in our park, and loosen our constricted expectations, of ourselves and others, and even of baby strollers

With a Perspective, this is Carol Denney.

Carol Denney is a musician, writer and activist living in Berkeley.

CarolArnold

Lately I’ve been thinking about fear, probably because I feel some of my own when reading the paper or watching the news. It doesn’t come from any one thing in particular, but arises from a free-floating sense that the whole world is falling apart.

I have faced a number of intensely fearful situations in my life. Hearing the word ‘cancer’ in my doctor’s office sent a wave of fear so powerful I jumped up from my chair and headed for the door. Thankfully, my doctor understood, and during the next few weeks we made a plan for surgery and here I am 14 years later.

Another terrifying experience happened in Alaska. At the end of a backpack trip in a remote wilderness, my husband and I woke to the sound of something scratching outside. Unzipping the tent fly, we stared at a huge grizzly bear. After several attempts to scare him off, my brave husband picked up our dome tent, held it over his head and growled like a gorilla. The bear didn’t like this. He ran off minutes before our float-plane arrived to pick us up.

Humans seem particularly adept at handling direct fear like the last two examples, but free-floating fear like the first is different. As much as I would like to make a plan with my doctor to take on the horrors of the world, or lift a tent over my head and growl at them, it wouldn’t do much good.

I haven’t yet figured out exactly how to deal with free-floating fear, but I suspect it has something to do with generosity, as well as taking action, no matter how small. I love the idea of the butterfly effect, which, in my version, I envision as the flap of wings stirring daisies in San Francisco, while a few minutes later palms rustle in Sri Lanka. I know from experience that small actions can produce bigger ones. So, little monarch in my back yard, as I write out a check to Save The Children, please send a butterfly kiss to a Somali baby, and while you’re at it, a full tummy, too.

With a Perspective, I’m Carol Arnold.

Carol Arnold is a retired environmental planner. She lives in San Francisco.

Jolie Kanat

What does it take to graduate with a PhD in How to Find the Silver Lining? Being able to “see the positive” in a life just charging at you like Mongol hordes is not enough to result in a diploma. But how I, and parents like me, who have a child with disabilities, have been able to muster enough wherewithal to manage those hordes of confusion and challenge, and come out somewhat whole, might be enough to earn that diploma.

Giving birth to a child with a disability, it was as if I jumped out of life’s hot air balloon into open space with no net. And so I fought, clawed and wove my own net of support for my daughter, with years of special schools, tutors, hobbies, outings, guidance. So much care. My daughter, Sophie, born with Down Syndrome, was flourishing. Her speech was clear, she could read, write, sing, run, tell bad jokes. In short, she was perfect. The silver lining was blinding.

But recently Sophie has become lost in a haze of her own confusion and disconnection. Forgetting where she was, talking to herself, withdrawn. And not snapping out of it, no matter what. Sophie has been diagnosed with early onset dementia. So how could I possibly find anything positive against this backdrop of loss?

The silver lining is my daughter’s 24/7 caregivers; Kat, Annie, Jessica, Sami and Christina. They bring her lessons, music and conversation. They cook and shop for her, they dance with her, give her sponge baths and hugs, they comb her hair, help her dress. They take delight in Sophie’s successes, they make sure she is warm and safe and engaged. And they set me free to be Sophie’s mom and not her nurse.

To earn the PhD in How to Find the Silver Lining, you have to be capable, intrepid, your upper lip stiff, your chin forward, your heart able to heal magically. The degree is offered at the University of What the Hell is Next.

And it has become my most valuable possession.

With a Perspective, I’m Jolie Kanat.

Jolie Kanat is executive director of a supported living services agency in Marin. She’s the mother of three, including her daughter Sophie, now 32.

Whitney Heavner

I’ve come to realize that when I’m out on my bike, I’m not the most popular girl in town. It’s only on my bike, for instance, that I get honked at while being cut off.

With experiences like these, it’s no wonder that male cyclists outnumber female cyclists by three to one. According to one University of Washington survey, the most cited reason women give for opting out of cycling is fear of distracted drivers.

A few years ago, I faced my own fear of distracted driving when I decided it was time to shelve my aging vehicle for a used road bike. Around then, I rode in my first Bay Area Bike to Work Day. For me, the reward that day was more enduring than the smoothie I savored in Millbrae. Bike to Work Day boosted my confidence in my own riding ability and reassured me that riding on the roads isn’t as dangerous as I had imagined.

Unlike a distracted driver. I now notice things I would otherwise miss, like the smell of the Bay when the wind blows from the East. Or the tents that pop up and reproduce in hidden corners only to be broken down all at once. Or the amount of rage wasted on getting from intersection A to intersection B a fraction of a second faster.

I understand the contempt for cyclists, though. I’m a driver sometimes too. I get stressed when I’m stuck behind someone slower than I. I get a burst of cortisol every time I barely miss a green light. But bike commuting has given me the hyper focus and 360-degree vision of someone constantly on the lookout for danger.

So when I see a cyclist on the road, I appreciate that she is saving me a parking spot when I get to my destination. I understand that I take up six times the space she does. Whatever decision she makes on her bike, she has calculated how to maximize her own safety as well as mine. If she swings wide, there’s a pothole ahead. If she catches my eye when she pulls up beside me, she wants to make sure she has my attention.

She’s an easy target.

She’s a fragile life.

Take care of her.

She loves this city.

With a Perspective, this is Whitney Heavner.

Whitney Heavner is a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and lives in San Francisco.

Andrew Desruisseau feat

One autumn day I brought my children to work with me in the Tenderloin. We took the 38R down O’Farrell and jumped off between Jones and Taylor. Their elementary school eyes gathered scenes common downtown: A lanky doorman hailing a Prius taxi cab, sneakered hipsters wearing Beats by Dre swaying down the street, a hose power spraying the sidewalk in front of a convenience store. The kids were out of school and going to work with Papi in the city.

We walked into the clinic where they drew pictures while I saw patients. At lunchtime we walked down Ellis to get Banh Mi for lunch and passed a young bespectacled man sitting “criss-cross apple sauce” against a concrete building, his arm tied off sliding a needle into his vein. He didn’t look up. My kids stopped until I pulled them along.

“Papi, is that guy sick?” my son asked.

“He is,” I replied, “and so are we for allowing this to happen on our streets.”

The opioid epidemic and overdose statistics continue to startle our country. Open drug use is a common sight in San Francisco. But in the Tenderloin, home to the city’s densest population of children, the site of someone injecting into his arm, foot or neck vein, is traumatizing, especially children.

But there is a safe, compassionate solution out there. Safe Injection Facilities, or SIF’s. A SIF is a place where people can inject drugs out of public view and under medical supervision. They ostensibly eliminate the risk of fatal overdose and prevent infections like HIV and Hepatitis C while linking clients to drug treatment programs. They work. They save money and save lives. Recently, Seattle became the first US city to approve them creation of SIF’s and a piece of legislation, AB 186, is moving in our Assembly.

If my kids grow up to be addicts, heaven forbid, I pray that they inject in a SIF rather than risk dying of an overdose in an alley alone. Wouldn’t you?

With a Perspective, I am Andrew Desruisseau.

Andrew Desruisseau is an infectious disease physician practicing in San Francisco’s Tenderloin.

Jane Lee

I searched up beauty on Google Images once.

Photoshopped images of flawless women with perfect features filled up my screen. I suddenly felt self-conscious and looked away.

I think each one of us feels this way to some extent; picky with the difference between ourselves and these images. Striving to replicate the images into ourselves, we look into the mirror and say, “Why can’t I be more beautiful?”

We have distorted our perception of beauty.

I have scoliosis. The rest of society stands straight, but my spine is curved, putting even farther of a distance between the images and myself. I don’t have perfect curves, or the symmetrical torso that defines a beautiful figure.

People judged me. They whispered about the brace I wore to fix my spine, and the uneven curves of my hips. I was always insecure; worried my flaws had chipped away at my self-image.

I went to the bathroom mirror to examine my own reflection. My features. Weight. Style. Height. Sexuality. Even thoughts. Everything that is a part of who I am is different.

I don’t look like the women in those images, not even close. No one’s characteristics apply to me so there’s no need to compare. They can’t be beautiful in the way I am.

We filter ourselves with what people say, and we focus on our differences and call them imperfections. We try so hard just to fit in, to be the same as what we call beautiful that we forget to accept ourselves.

I mean, if we were all identical, fixed to perfection, would beautiful even exist?

Even with imperfections, even with differences, even with scoliosis and a bent spine, I am who I am. Self-confidence has allowed me to realize that I am beautiful.

So forget about the imperfections and embrace the many aspects that make up who you are. Remember that the original is always worth more than a copy.

You were made to stand out, to be different, to be unique in your own way. And really, that’s the beauty of it.

With a perspective, I’m Jane Lee.

Jane Lee is a freshman at Cupertino High School.

Les Bloch

“Hold this,” she says.

My three-year-old granddaughter places an invisible something into my open palm.

“What is it?” I ask.

“It’s a donut. For D.”

D is her imaginary friend. D has been a boy, a girl and a dog. All I really know is that D follows her around, appearing and disappearing at her whim. At some point, D will disappear altogether. For now, I go along with the ruse. She will eventually figure out what is real and what is not.

My granddaughter will experience a tidal wave of fake things in her lifetime. One day it will occur to her that she is not a princess, or that the butterfly wings on her Halloween costume won’t actually make her fly. Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny will evaporate. She will notice that Auntie’s red fingernails are longer and larger than they were yesterday. She will notice that the grocery checker’s hair sits on top of his head at an odd angle and doesn’t match his sideburns. She will look out the window in her car seat and see a rock made of plastic covering a plumbing valve and pass a cell phone tower that almost looks like a tree.

She will grow older to see images of politicians photoshopped next to Bigfoot. She will watch YouTube videos of mermaids and aliens. She will meet boys who will say anything to get her attention, or a kiss, or more.

She will find that the world is filled with people of many faiths, each believing in something that no one can actually prove. She will wade through the discourse and chatter of opinions in her college dorm and listen with a trained ear. She will understand that more than any truth, what is most important is having the ability to understand and determine what is false. This skill will allow her to survive in a world where falsehoods can end a species. She will look back on that bittersweet moment when D, her imaginary friend, disappeared forever, and she began to see the world as it truly is.

With a Perspective, I’m Les Bloch.

Les Bloch is a construction project manager.

Deidre Green

I walked along the leaf-strewn path flanking the eastern base of Mt. Tamalpais. A soft fog floated aimlessly between naked trees and redwood groves. A gentle rain was falling. The only sound was the crush of my boots against a tapestry of fallen leaves. Nothing stirred. I was an intruder almost in a glen stilled by winter, eerily motionless. How calm, how quiet, how. . . misleading.

I stooped to pick up a fallen leaf; vivid splashes of red and gold but crimped by age at the edges. A dead leaf, yes, but also a symbol of renewal. This panoply of leaves on which I walked would gradually decompose, providing sustenance for insects and fungi which would, in turn, produce a nutrient-rich soil for future growth; a constantly on-going, recycling process where nothing really dies but merely changes character, from leaf to mulch to growth again. And though the process is terrestrial, it requires an orchestration of sun, wind, rain and soil in the miraculous recycling of Earth’s components.

The sky opened up as the gentle rain turned to a heavy downpour. My usual reaction would be to run for cover, but this time, I lifted my face to the rain, and tasted the sensation, realizing at once, that we, too, are a part of this renewal process. At the end of the path, I spotted a sapling, alone but well-nurtured by the process that had brought is this far. I looked back at where I had strolled: nothing was really calm or still in this glen. Rather, it was all a staging area, a reassemblage of energy poised and ready for the next Spring.

With a Perspective, I’m Deidre Silverman.

Deidre Silverman lives in San Raphael.

Richard Swerdlow new

Tax day is here again.

Like most average Americans, around 29 percent of my paycheck goes to income taxes. As a teacher, in such a costly city — San Francisco is rated the world’s second-most expensive city – ahead of New York and Tokyo — I should probably be upset.

But you know what? I’m not.

I may not have a lot of extra money, but I don’t mind paying for things I use every day. And I see my tax dollars at work all day long. From clean water to make my morning coffee, paved roads I drive, buses I take, health department food inspectors making sure my lunch is prepared hygienically, to police officers keeping my city safe while I sleep. And in my professional life as a public school teacher, every day I see the life-changing power of education, free to everybody, thanks to tax dollars.

Whenever I hear someone complaining about taxes, I wonder: Don’t you drive across bridges, maintained by taxes? Do you fly in airplanes, guided by tax-funded air traffic control? Have you visited a national park or beach, funded by us, the taxpayers? And if your house were on fire, would you call the fire department, paid for by, yes, your tax dollars.

I’m pleased my doctor must meet government safety standards, as does my auto mechanic, and barber, enforced by tax-funded licensing agencies. I’m glad intersections have stoplights. I’m glad streets have street lights. I’m pleased I can flush, courtesy of the sanitation department. In fact, I’m OK with contributing to a functioning society – and I’m not alone. According to a Pew research study, about a third of Americans like paying their taxes.

Not to say I’m totally thrilled. I don’t always agree with how our money is spent, and, like 57% of Americans in that study, I think the wealthy should pay their fair share, despite our current president who announced not paying taxes makes him smart.

What’s smart is each of us, reasonably pitching in to making a country that’s livable for all of us, not just billionaires. So, on Tuesday, maybe it will lessen the pain to consider the many benefits your taxes provide for you, for me, and for everyone who lives our country, even if you live in the White House.

With a Perspective, I’m Richard Swerdlow.

Richard Swerdlow works for the San Francisco Unified School District.

Adam Browning

You know how other languages have single words for concepts that English needs a whole sentence, or maybe even a paragraph, to express? The German ‘shadenfreude’, the pleasure one takes in the misfortune of others, is a great example. These days, ‘backfeifengesicht’ — roughly, a face badly in need of a fist — is one that has been alarmingly relevant, for some reason.

English can catch up. My wife is excellent at coming up with new words. For example: pupsetto. You know how you speak in a higher register when talking to something cute? That’s pupsetto.

I myself came up with kindlespointment. That’s when you open your Kindle and realize you’re too cheap to buy books you actually want to read.

Evolution in language goes beyond just new words. If you really want to improve accuracy and conciseness, I say you have to reach higher. I invented a new tense. It’s called the ‘past prohibitive’. You use it when you did something, but wished you hadn’t.

For example, you could say. “I had the oysters, but one was bad and I was up all night puking.” Or, you could say: I hud the oysters. The rest of the experience is implied. Get it? That’s the past prohibitive.

She slud with him. No sad details about her perennial gap between romantic hopes and romantic reality needed.

He vud for Donald Trump. Useful, isn’t it?

These days, when we rely so much on texting, I think the next evolution should be with emojis. We need better ones, with more refinement and complexity. For example, how about one that says, ‘I’ve seen this passive-aggressive game before, and I’m just not going to play this time?” An emoji like that would save the need for a lot of honest sharing of thoughts and feelings.

With a Perspective, I’m Adam Browning.

Adam Browning is executive director of a solar advocacy non-profit. He lives in Oakland.

Evan Sagerman

I was in Florida with my 11-year old daughter, visiting my parents. Sitting around the pool at my parent’s condo were other grandparents, parents, and grandchildren enjoying family time together. While my daughter splashed in the water, my mother asked if I’d take her to a chamber music concert. I said I’d love to. Good, she said, grandpa would have one-on-one time with his granddaughter, and we weren’t going far away, just to Mar-A-Lago.

That’s when my brain exploded. Mar-A-Lago? Trump’s Mar-A-Lago?!

Yes. My parents are subscribers to the Palm Beach Chamber Music Society. The concerts are held at Mar-A-Lago. Which was never an issue – until now.

It suddenly felt like 1933, and my mother was calmly inviting me to a musical soiree at Reich headquarters. Ok, I know, that reaction is totally over-the-top. But, I’m a Jew who grew up next door to a restricted country club. Those were legal then. I learned about the holocaust from people who had numbers tattooed on their forearms. When Trump campaigned on banning Muslims, I did not doubt who else was on the hate list. Sadly, I was right.

I called my wife for advice. She asked if I was going to be spending any money at Mar-A-Lago. No. The evening had been booked and the tickets purchased long before Trump was elected. If I wasn’t enriching the President, she reasoned, I probably wasn’t doing anything wrong. And depriving my 84-year old mother of an evening of musical pleasure…well, that seemed a little flinty.

So, I went. I borrowed a navy-blue blazer from my dad, and escorted my elegant mother to Mar-A-Lago. The historic mansion is a Spanish-Moorish delight, graciously proportioned and startlingly opulent. The Trump additions are very Russian banquet room: faux Versailles coated with regular layers of gilt filigree. We listened to the Zuckerman Trio – all foreigners and immigrants – bring Schubert and Mendelssohn to life. The 250 people in the room were intent and appreciative. The music was vivid; the situation surreal.

It’s a strange time that can turn an annual family vacation into a test of ethics. My mother and I enjoyed our evening together. I think I did the right thing taking her to Mar-A-Lago, but I haven’t shaken my doubts

With a Perspective, I’m Evan Sagerman.

Evan Sagerman is an architect and children’s book author in San Francisco.

MarilynEnglander

Over the years I have learned a great deal from my adolescent students, even though they thought I was the one teaching them.

The principal work of the early teenage years is learning to manage change, saying goodbye to a former self and gracefully slipping into new skin. Both kids and their parents lament: This is not the way we did it last year, his old friends have moved into new circles, Spanish verbs are confusing. They campaign to continue doing things the way they always have, in familiar terrain. But 14-year-olds need to learn to tough out a few hours of hard work. Those about to enter high school have to figure out how to connect to a new set of friends.

I think about this as I look at my own changing life. I wince when old friends divorce. The local Italian restaurant closes its doors. My sister and her husband sell their home of 40 years in San Francisco and move back east, far away. The friendly old guy next door passes away. The kittens we adopted when our kids were young now need help to get up onto the bed.

Change is often painful, disorienting. It makes us want to howl at the universe. Waking up in the wee hours, I contemplate a foreign landscape. I resist getting accustomed to new ways.

But a Thai restaurant opens up nearby. The new neighbor shares her homemade cookies. I recultivate the art of writing letters to faraway friends.

Learning is struggle. I saw this all the time in my young students. But watching is not the same as living the challenge.

There is an old saying,” The barn burned down: now I can see the moon.”

I recall Pete’s tortured efforts to learn to write. I remember how hard it was for Dirk to learn to throw a ball straight, for Gail to master the geography of Asia. My old students are my new mentors as I forge ahead, appreciating a different view of the sky.

With a Perspective, this is Marilyn Englander.

Marilyn Englander is an educator in the North Bay and founder of REAL School Marin.

Bernie Krause

As a soundscape ecologist, I study natural sounds produced in the landscape. And for the past 50 years, I’ve focused on the collective organic sound – or the biophony – that’s generated in any wild habitat. After nearly five decades of working in the field and recording almost everywhere, I’m often asked to reveal my favorite place. ‘Alaska, by far’ I reply, because it’s truly wild .

In late spring and summer, Alaskan habitats everywhere are pulsating with the sounds of wildlife.

(Sounds of the Yukon Delta)

Just inland from the west coast of the state, the tundra of the Yukon Delta Wildlife Refuge is the nesting and breeding site for millions of marine and inland birds that converge from as far away as New Zealand and even Africa.

(Tundra sounds)

We’ve been told by politicians wanting to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that there’s nothing there. Well…in June 2006 we found this:

(ANWR sounds)

Along the shoreline of the spruce rain forests of Alaska’s Southeast, across from Glacier Bay, American eagles scream, as humpback whales feed, rest, and blow twenty feet offshore from where we’ve set up camp on an island across from Glacier Bay.

(Sound of Humpback whale breath)

Alaska is one state where we can range over huge tracts of protected land in any direction and rarely hear another human noise, where there’s no eager ranger to tell you about the life-cycle of a grizzly, and, best of all, where there’s nothing to buy. Now that’s wild! And, to me, it’s my favorite kind of place.

With a Perspective, I’m Bernie Krause.

Bernie Krause is a naturalist, composer and soundscape ecologist. He lives in Sonoma County.

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