Contradictions at Milan’s Expo 2015

The Roman ruins and Renaissance cathedrals are getting some competition for tourist dollars this year from something decidedly contemporary: Milan’s Expo 2015, this year’s international exposition. Having opened in May to great fanfare – as well as charges of incompetence and indictments for corruption in its construction – features acre after acre of spectacular national pavilions that focus on this year’s theme: Food production.

To live life unburdened by stuff

I really did love my stuff. I even used a lot of it. And I had a lot: My gorgeous Victorian home in downtown Sacramento held closets full of clothes, a kitchen crammed with utensils, a garage full of sporting gear, a formal dining room, a roomful of records, even a library, floor to ceiling with books. So much stuff. These days, I have a backpack and a duffel bag

A day on Angel Island

Angel Island looms large in the geography of the Bay Area, but it also occupies a special place in time.

It’s been revered by early residents, such as the Coast Miwok tribes, and used by various branches of the U.S. military for nearly 100 years. It was the first place many Asian immigrants touched ground upon arrival in America.

Diving lessons: Thailand’s Koh Tao

Vacation is not the time for multitasking. Especially on a classic beach vacation, days spent vegging out, dining out and splashing about are as ambitious as one need get.

Still, if you’re like many active people, a few days of nothing but relaxation can get a bit … dull. So, while you’re on vacation – even just a beach vacation – you also can learn a thing or two.

Mare Island charts a new course

The biblical phrase “to hammer swords into plowshares” has a nice, logical feel to it. And it’s a relatively simple operation: Once the hammering’s done, you hitch up a mule and start plowing.

But what if your “sword” is a 5,000-acre naval base that was in operation for nearly 150 years and built everything from Civil War sidewheelers to Cold War nuclear submarines?

Remembering ‘Rosie’ the Riveter

When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, Ollie M. Hawkins, a young woman in Flagstaff, Ariz., watched her three brothers and a cousin march off to war. “I wanted to help bring the boys home – my boys, all the boys,” she says at her home in Oakland. “That’s why I came to California.” Now 84, Hawkins has finally seen her home-front work remembered, with the dedication last month of the new Rosie the Riveter Memorial in Richmond.

Flying for a million miles

I recently spent a week traveling hopefully, never really arriving for long, in and out of eight countries and 11 airports, on 14 flights on eight airlines. What I hoped for — and am still hoping for — was the brass ring for many veteran travelers: the big frequent-flier miles score. My companion and I would travel about 13,000 miles, but we hoped to bag many times that: half a million frequent-flier miles.

Pumped and Pampered in Palm Springs

You don’t have to play golf, or be retired, to have fun in Palm Springs. If you play your cards right, you can finish a week in Palm Springs in dire need of a vacation. If you’re an athletic thrill-seeker of any age, you can beat yourself up here, but good. Fortunately, you can also pamper yourself within an inch of heaven. By alternating the two – activity and passivity, the hard and the soft, the challenging and the relaxing – one can theoretically find a blissful middle ground of total physical satisfaction.