Merry Christmas from UC (or should I say “Happy Holidays from UC?”). Have fun decorating that “holiday” tree, no, not the Memorial Day holiday tree or the Groundhog Day holiday tree, silly, the holiday-Holiday tree... you know, the one that comes around at (whisper) Christmastime...). Please note that even the word “holiday” has traditional Christian religious overtones, for it was derived from the Old English “haligdoeg,” meaning “holy + day.” So, who knows, maybe even the term “holiday” is next on the PC hit list and may soon be replaced with the phase, “Celebration Day,” “Festival Day” or even, “Pleasant Euphemism Period,” but I digress.
On the first Thursday of each month, the UC Botanical Gardens is generous enough to offer free admission to all visitors (the regular daily adult admission fee is now a pricey five dollars). So on Thursday, December first, in the pouring rain, I drove up to the Botanical Gardens and parking in their parking lot. Having previously checked out their website, I was aware that the minimum parking charge is now 75 cents for 30 minutes, so I had brought along several quarters. I went to their high-tech ATM-like parking fee machine and pecked in my parking space number. Then I dropped in the required three quarters. Clank, clank, clank. The quarters did not register, went through the machine and came out the bottom slot. I tried putting them in again. Clank, clank, clank. Apparently, my non-academic U. S. quarters did not measure up to the high standards required by this UC Botanical Gardens parking lot machine. By this point I was beginning to seriously wonder why I had even ventured out of the house.
I had an uneasy feeling that if I ignored the dysfunctional parking meter machine and just visited the Botanical Gardens that I would come back and find a nice new 20- or 40-dollar parking ticket for my troubles. Then, to fight the ticket, I would have to go to traffic court in downtown Oakland and then plead before the judge and tell him about the “clank, clank, clank” of my quarters. He would airily say, “Sure, kid...” (Somehow, having long blond hair and a nice fluffy gray-white Santa beard somehow classes me as a “kid,” even though I am sixty-three going on sixty-four...).
I decided to give up on my little dream to see Cycads and Palms in the same location, and so I continued driving up the hill to Grizzly Peak Blvd. and then returned towards home down Claremont Blvd. So my little trip would not be a total loss, I stopped at the pricey Star Grocery and checked out their half-price produce rack. Nothing but some dried up old mushrooms. Determined more than ever to find or get something out of this benighted trip, I walked around the corner and checked out their dumpster. Hmm. I found a couple of packages of some fancy organic reddish “Sweet Potatoes” (more likely, yams, in my mind) and brought them home. There was one spoiled one in each package, but the rest of the yams were fine. (Cooking note: wash, fork, microwave five minutes, add butter: delicious).
A day and a half later, I was still stewing about UC. The UC that wanted to charge me 75 cents for 30 minutes parking at the Botanical Gardens is the same UC that was exposed in a recent series of articles in the San Francisco Chronicle with giving obscenely massive bonuses and sometimes even providing rent-free mansions to top administrators. This is the same UC that is continually raising student tuition and fees. This is the same UC that is allowing the corruption of its science departments by private biotechnology corporations. This is the same UC that is denying free Internet access in its libraries to the general public and even its currently-paid-up alumni association members. This is the same UC that keeps destroying the free boxes for clothing placed in Peoples’ Park.
It would seem that the vicious GOP corporate greed mentality has spread from the Bush administration out to good old UC Berkeley. The Republicans currently running this country seem to feel that the main purpose of government is to provide further opportunities for them to enrich themselves and their campaign contributors. It’s greed for the ruling class, tax increases and service cutbacks for the middle class and stomping on the poor. Merry Christmas from UC.