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SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA HISTORY |

Entries Tagged 'SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA HISTORY' ↓

Monster Houses and Eating Crow

One of the really great things about being on a spiritual path is that you get to eat crow really often. A few days ago, I wrote and published a scathing article talking about monster houses and other things, my dad, Andy Oddstad among them. (My dad built houses, but not monster houses.)

How scathing? I spoke of the “McMansions littering our hillsides” and hoped that the home in which I grew up “doesn’t get transformed into an ostentatious edifice fit for pseudo-royalty.” I closed with an indictment of modern capitalism: “Today, companies are about marketing position and branding, about the “USPs”–unique selling propositions––magic words to charm the consumer into buying an illusion that she can’t afford and doesn’t need.”

Those words scathe effectively.

The Palace at Versailles: A true monster house

A TRUE MONSTER HOUSE: The Palace of Versailles was home to Actual Royalty. I’m illustrating this post with photos the prototypical Monster House, elegant in every way, full of pretension––I mean, if you think you’re God, you could live in this house with a straight face––and the best of everything. It differs from modern monster houses in that its real, way upscale, and conforms to the principles of design, listed down below.

Only a few hours after posting my position statement on large houses and the contemporary practice of flashing every dime you’ve got, I went to a social function at a home that can be described as plu-perfect, and huge. A monster house, by size, anyways. Oops.

I wandered around the edifice, marveling at the workmanship, the 3 ” thick marble counters, wood floors, plaster finishes, gorgeous fenestration (windows), views of the Pacific Ocean from every window. Sweeping panoramas of the City of Santa Barbara, offshore islands, gardens. Everything.

This was the most beautiful home I’d ever seen, and a monster house. I’d never want to own it: I couldn’t afford the gardener, much less the utility bills. But, wow. And what a spiritual feeling about the place.

Plus the owners were really nice, humble, kind people.

0versaille

Never underestimate the value of nice landscaping in increasing property values. Look what it did for Versailles!

My cheeks burned and I felt that inevitable, “I blew it,” walking around that beautiful place. So what’s wrong with this picture? First off, my original mind set was that big equals evil. Big is just big. And wealth is OK. Better than OK. Where’s the wisdom in this experience?

I immediately thought of the four goals of life. You know them:

  • Dharma: righteousness
  • Artha: wealth
  • Kama: pleasure
  • Moksha: liberation

These are straight from the Guru Gita, an ancient Vedic text. Other philosophic systems will have different goals, but I like the simplicity of the four above.

Dharma refers to living a spotless life by whatever moral system you espouse.

Artha––well, we all know what wealth means. Pile it on. My mom had a great poster in her house: A southern mansion with the line, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.” That’s easy.

Kama––kama as in kama sutra. Pleasure. Better far better life goal than pain. Pain comes on its own.

And Moksha––liberation. Means liberation from the wheel of life, attainable by union with God.

3versailleskingsbedroom

The King’s Bedroom at Versailles: With the right karma, you could sleep here. Of course, it didn’t do much for Louis XVI.

The magnificent edifice I wandered into after my rant about monster houses was the fruit of a life well lived. The individuals owning the house had all four goals, in spades. The wealth one, artha, very obviously. And humility.

3versailleinterior

Versailles, Beautiful, Ornate, Over the Top. Sparked a revolution.

The difference between a monster house and a very large and beautiful house rests in the five principles of design:

  • Balance
  • Proportion
  • Scale
  • Harmony
  • And one other, which I forget. Let’s call it taste, or beauty.
  • Oh––rhythm. Remembered it.

I’ll discuss those principles in a later post. Here’s a link to an article about the importance of beauty in book cover design. Says it very well: Lewis Agrell’s Article About Book Covers.

Here I am, ready for Versailles.
Here I am, ready for Versailles.

Sandy Nathan is the winner of seventeen national awards, in categories from memoir, to visionary fiction, to children’s nonfiction. And more.

Her books are: (Click link for more information)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice

Two sequels to The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy are in production with a late (very late) 2011 publication date, or early 2012. If you liked  The Angel you’ll love Lady Grace and Sam & Emily.

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Father’s Day Tribute to Andy Oddstad, my Dad

Andy Oddstad skiing in the SF Bay 1960s

Andy Oddstad water-skiing in the SF Bay 1960s

Okay, so it’s a little after Father’s Day––the thought was there. One of the terrific things about the Internet is that it brings people together. People you didn’t even know introduce themselves. About a year ago, I heard from the daughter of the folks who bought my family home in Atherton CA about 35 years ago.

It is a special house. Built in six weeks (that’s right, 6 weeks) in the middle of a carpenter’s strike (you got that right, too), the house was destined to be memorable. Not because it was a McMansion of the type littering our hillsides today. The home my parents, Andy and Clara Oddstad, built in the 1950s was a comfortable rancher on an acre. It had a pool, but it wasn’t a showy house. Atherton always has been a pretty fancy address, a bit more restrained in those days.

The move from San Francisco was a huge leap for my folks, both of whom had grown up on the rough side of the Great Depression. “If we can’t afford it, Honey Chum, we can always sell it,” my dad told my mom, thinking positively. (He called her Honey Chum, typical of those goofy ’50s nicknames.)

My dad was Andy Oddstad, President of Oddstad Homes, which was at that time closing in on being the largest residential developer in northern California. He started out as a carpenter, which is why the guys built his house during a strike. He had been––maybe still was––an AFL/CIO Carpenters’ Union member.

The house was built, we moved into it and spent many happy years living there–-my folks didn’t have to sell it after all. Oddstad Homes became the biggest home builder in northern California by a long stretch.

In 1964, my dad was killed by a negligent and possibly drunk driver. Everything changed. After a few years, my mom found the house was too big and too laden with memories. She sold it and moved on––regretting the sale almost immediately, actually.

The house passed from our hands but continued to glow in our memories.

What a surprise when I heard from Stephanie, the daughter of the people who bought our house! She found me searching online. We hit it off by email right away. The house continued to charm: Her family lived there for years, kids growing up with memories as glowing as mine. She told me stories of the house––including a real ghost story! I was so glad that our old home had been so cherished.

Recently, Stephanie emailed me again to say that her parents had sold the house. It was time for them to leave. But they didn’t want to move. None of the solutions Stephanie showed them felt like their nest of so many years. Other houses just weren’t the same.

“I found one house for them, and just felt ‘This is the one.’ I cut through all the ‘We don’t like it’ and got them to move.” When she was moving her parents into their new home, she found something in a kitchen drawer. It was a brochure by the developer, pointing out a philosophy of building. The brochure dated from the 1960s and was signed by the builder, Andy Oddstad.

From the minute Stephanie’s folks knew they were living in an Oddstad Home, they settled down and felt they were in the right place.

An amazing story, yes? It brought tears to my eyes. I hope the new owner of our families’ home at 69 Catalpa Drive in Atherton hears it. I hope the simple and comfortable home that we knew doesn’t get transformed into an ostentatious edifice fit for pseudo-royalty.

What did the brochure say that prompts me to post it here? The text of the message is below. It’s a clarion call of an era based on true value, not show and appearance. Listen to my dad’s words:

The brochure’s title:
FARM HILL
ODDSTAD HOMES
MEDALLION SERIES

“WE FIRMLY BELIEVE that every home buyer should select a home with an eye on investment, as well as a place to live. We firmly believe that every builder has a responsibility for the kind of homes he creates. We accept this responsibility. As local builders, not here for a day on a quick investment, standing behind the 8,000 homes we have already constructed in the bay area, we realize that keeping an eye on the investment value of your home is a solid, responsible way to do business.

“We have carefully selected conservative designs because experience tells us this is the surest way to keep property values high––for the individual owner and for the community. Fads come and go; we’re here to stay.

“We purchase land in the thriving Bay Area communities, easily accessible to work centers, and because we are a big outfit, we buy big––we develop the land ourselves put in the improvements: roads, sidewalks, and sewers; no middle men [implying] no hidden costs when you buy one of our homes.

“Our production is enormous. Each working hour, a new foundation is poured; each working week, 40 new homes are completed.  Skilled crews go from job to job without wasted motion or lost time; ready made forms, jigs, scaffolding and labor saving equipment go with them to save time and expense––so we can deliver a better home, better built, at a lower price.

“The executives in our organization came up from the ranks. I myself was a carpenter. I still am. I take pride in the materials and the workmanship that go into each of our homes––from the foundations to the trim. You are invited to come out and watch us build––to see for yourself why our homes cost less when you buy … are worth more if you sell.”

Andy Oddstad
President
ODDSTAD HOMES

We’re in the middle of the Great Recession now. I read my dad’s words and thought, “If our society had continued to be base itself on the solid reality and true financial conservatism that this brochure demonstrates, we wouldn’t be in the fix we’re in.”

Today, companies are about marketing position and branding, about the “USPs”–unique selling propositions––magic words to charm the consumer into buying an illusion that she can’t afford and doesn’t need.

My dad’s words on a forgotten brochure reminded me of who he was. I could almost hear his voice. Growing up around Andy Oddstad was a lot like growing up in the Marines––he was very demanding. He required excellence of everyone around him. But he had something very valuable to say and a product to offer. Mostly, the way he lived––athlete, body builder, community member, husband, father, philosopher––was his message.

Andy Oddstad & Triff Trifeletti

Andy Oddstad & Triff Trifeletti

Thank you, dad, and many thanks to all those who worked for Oddstad Homes and with him. I remember Triff Trifelletti, Gordon Hanson, John O’Malley, Chuck Jonas and so many others who worked with and for Oddstad Homes. And of course, I love and remember my dear auntie Elma Mendola, who worked with my dad from the beginning, along with my mom, Clara Oddstad.

As of 1964 when my dad was killed, Oddstad Homes had completed over 14,000 homes, 2,500 apartment units, three shopping centers, a youth center, and a couple of churches in the San Francisco Bay Area. An incredible legacy of achievement.

I often wonder what my dad would think of the world today if he could see it. He died before the Beatles became popular, when a really nice house could be purchased in the SF Bay Area for $36,000, when cars had fins and so did guys’ hair styles. He would not be able to believe housing prices or the consumer lifestyle of today.

Sometimes networking on the Net isn’t about wasting time, it’s about remembering what’s important.

All the best,
Sandy Nathan

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NUMENON: WINNER OF FOUR NATIONAL AWARDS––SO FAR!

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

NUMENON (Book 1 of the Bloodsong Series) is an astonishing spiritual adventure. Critically acclaimed and beloved by readers, Numenon has now won FOUR NATIONAL AWARDS. (You can read about them below.)

ISN’T IT TIME THAT YOU READ NUMENON?

You can also buy Numenon directly from Sandy Nathan’s website, and get great deals:

A message from Sandy Nathan:

“I’ve been thrilled and shocked and grateful this spring as the book contests announced their winners. Numenon won two more national awards in prestigious contests. All the information about Numenon’s wins is below. I’d like to invite you to read my book. I spent years writing it and fine-tuning it until it said what it was supposed to say. More years getting it published. Now you can reap the fruit of my work and read my book at your leisure.

“I’m hard at work rewriting, re-visioning, Mogollon, Numenon’s sequel. I think you’ll agree that the promise of Numenon is more than delivered in its sequel.

“I appreciate all of you who have purchased Numenon and given me such wonderful reviews. Please let your friends know about Numenon if you’re so moved. We authors need a boost, too!

“All the best on your journey,

Sandy Nathan

NUMENON’S BOOK CONTEST WINS:

Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!

Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!

In May 2009, Numenon won the 2009 SILVER NAUTILUS AWARD for INDIGENOUS/MULTICULTURAL FICTION. The Nautilus Award was established to “change the world one book at a time.” It is devoted to “Recognizing Books and Audio Books that Promote Spiritual Growth, Conscious Living, and Positive Social Change and stimulate the ‘imagination’ and inspire the reader to ‘new possibilities’ for a better world.” Previous Nautilus winners include: Deepak Chopra, M.D., Thich Nnat Hanh, Jean Houston, PhD., Eckhart Tolle, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Andrew Weil, M.D.

(The bestselling book, The Shack, was also a 2009 Silver Nautilus Award winner.)


INDEPENDENT PRESS SILVER MEDAL

INDEPENDENT PRESS SILVER MEDAL

NUMENON has just received a Silver Medal in the 2009 IPPY Awards, claiming its fourth national award. The “IPPY” Award is one of the oldest and largest book contests for independent presses. This year’s awards attracted 4,090 entries from throughout the U.S. and Canada, plus most English-speaking countries worldwide. Medal-winning books came from 44 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, eight Canadian provinces, and six countries overseas.

Book contest judges noticed Numenon before it was published. As an Advance Reading Copy (ARC or galley), Numenon WON in two contests:

THE BEST BOOKS OF 2007 AWARD in VISIONARY FICTION, USA Book News. The Best Book Award is a large, prestigious contest entered by the major publishers as well as independent presses.

THE 2007 NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCE AWARD in RELIGIOUS FICTION. The Indie Excellence contest stresses true excellence produced by independent presses.

THE NUMENON VIDEO:



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Numenon wins the 2009 Nautilus Silver Award––now it competes for the Gold!

Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!

Numenon, by Sandy Nathan, is a Nautilus Book Awards Silver Winner!

By winning a Nautilus Silver Award with her book, Numenon,  author Sandy Nathan joins the ranks of  Deepak Chopra, M.D., Barbara Kingsolver, Thich Nnat Hanh, Jean Houston, PhD., Eckhart Tolle, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. All are Nautilus Award winners. “Joining the company of these people moves me to tears,” says Sandy.

As a Silver Award Winner, Numenon will pass to the highest level of judging for the Nautilus Awards, the Gold Award level. If Numenon wins at this level, it will be featured at the Book Expo America and win many other honors.

“As wonderful as it would be to win the Gold Award, what thrills me is what the Nautilus Awards are about,” says Sandy. “My writing and life are directed toward making this planet a better place. I feel like I’ve found a spiritual home with the Nautilus contest and the people behind it.”

The Nautilus Award was established to find and reward distinguished literary contributions to spiritual growth, conscious living, high-level wellness, green values, responsible leadership and positive social change as well as to the worlds of art, creativity and inspirational reading for children, teens and young adults.

The Nautilus Awards are dedicated to “changing the world one book at a time.”  Books are judged in a three-tier system using a carefully prepared list of notable characteristics. The judging process is laborious and long, carried out by three teams of highly qualified reviewers. They have successful careers in the book industry as well as the vision to pick out books that offer new options for a better world.  Each book is evaluated by at least two judges. Silver winners are selected from each category by the readers in Team #2, and these winning titles are then passed along to the third team where the Gold winners are chosen.  Two judges must agree on each Silver winner – and consensus is required for the Gold Winners.

Sandy Nathan, "one happy author!"

Sandy Nathan, "one happy author!"

“This blog is one way that I connect with my fellow writers and authors, as well as my readers,” says Sandy Nathan. “I have a request. I would appreciate your prayers, blessings, good wishes, positive thoughts, or whatever fits your personal beliefs for Numenon as it winds its way through the Nautilus judging process and the judging of the other contests in which it’s entered. It’s entered in four or five more. I believe in the power of prayer, and I always pray reciprocate. Actually, I just pray for everyone all the time. If you could cast a positive vibe in Numenon’s direction, I’d be very grateful.”

Please consult the Nautilus Book Awards web site for more information.

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Numenon Kindle Is .99 on Amazon!

The Kindle version of Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Mystery is available and priced at an unbelievable 99 cents!

Here’s a link to Numenon on the Amazon Kindle Store!

Am I crazy? Like a fox! When I last looked, Numenon was #8 in Religious Fiction (closing on The Shack), and #1 in Mysticism in two categories of Religion & Spirituality. JOIN THE STAMPEDE!

Buy the Kindle version of Numenon, and you can enter the world of Will Duane, the richest man on earth, and Grandfather, a great Native shaman, in less then a 60 seconds. Numenon won two national awards as an Advance Reading Copy. It’s entered in more contests. We’re waiting for results.

Here it is on my web site: Numenon on SandyNathan.com

Here it is as a print book on Amazon. Look at those Five Star Reviews.

Check out this video:

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Numenon A Tale of Mysticism & Money – A Video!

Here’s a video about Sandy Nathan’s new book, Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money. Click and be transported!

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Full Power Living with Sandy Nathan, hosted by Ilene Dillon MSW “The Emotional Pro.”

I discussed creativity and my novel Numenon with Ilene Dillon on February 12th. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SHOW .
At last, a video about Sandy Nathan’s new book, Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money. Click and be transported!

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I’M ON FULL POWER LIVING, THURSDAY FEBRUARY 12TH, 9AM PST

I’ll be discussing creativity and my novel Numenon with Ilene Dillon MSW. The Emotional Pro, Ilene is my favorite radio personality. CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE SHOW.  It’s live 9 to 10 AM tomorrow. Show will be archived on Ilene’s web site if you can’t make it.
An exciting video about Numenon. Click and be transported!

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NUMENON: A TALE OF MYSTICISM & MONEY A VIDEO!

At long last, a video flash of Numenon. What’s it all about?

NATIONAL AWARD WINNER: NUMENON won USA Book News' BEST BOOKS AWARD IN VISIONARY FICTION and THE INDIE EXCELLENCE AWARD for RELIGIOUS FICTION. "Five Stars! A fantasy set in the real world to draw readers in and never let them go, NUMENON is highly recommended to readers seeking modern fiction with fantastical elements." MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW NUMENON is available at sandynathan.com, on-line, & wherever books are sold. Get a free e-book by signing our mailing list: http://www.sandynathan.com/newsletter.htm

This is on animoto.com. The HTML is in there. If the link doesn't show up, CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE VIDEO.

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Amazon Bestseller Day Amazon Best Seller or Bust? Part 2

Hop on over to YOUR SHELF LIFE: How Long Will You Last? my blog for writers and authors, for the rest of this post.

Sandy Nathan, award winning author of NumenonSandy Nathan, award winning author of Numenon

I paid for my Amazon Bestseller Launch Day with ReaderViews on November 3, 2008. My Day was December 9th, a month and 6 days later. I was still on crutches after surgery as I leapt into the world of internet marketing.

“Drive traffic to your web site!”

“Drive customers to buy!”

“If you buy my book on February 31st, you will win $34,974,957 worth of prizes. In addition, we will match those gifts by reducing the national debt a trillion bucks!”

Hurrah! Hurrah! Step right up!

See what happens as I approach my Amazon Bestseller Day!

Sandy Nathan, award winning author of Numenon Sandy Nathan, now.

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