Category Archives: San Francisco

San Francisco

“On the rim of the world I am dancing!”

The Huchiun Tribe of Native American Ohlones first settled along the shores of Richmond and the East Bay, across the water from present day San Francisco, 4000 years ago.

One Ohlone song translates in English as:

“See! I am dancing!

On the rim of the world I am dancing!”


It certainly feels as if Rochelle and I have been riding our bikes on the (glorious) rim of the world! On Sunday afternoon, after the conference finished, we rode North West from the Berkeley Marina, hugging the coast along the Marina Bay Trail (part of the San Francisco Bay Trail). We cycled past Point Isabel to the Richmond Marina and on to Ford Point.

We passed marshlands.


We stopped for lunch at Richmond Marina.


We then rode around Richmond's industrial waterfront. In the early years of the 20th century, the Santa Fe Railroad made its way to Richmond. Richmond's first port was built in 1915 (Terminal #1), with two new port terminals added in the late 1920s. By 1930, Richmond Port was home also to the Filice and Perrelli Cannery and the Ford Assembly Plant. In the 1940s, Henry J Kaiser built four giant shipyards. The Marina, completed in 1981, stands on the site of the former Kaiser Shipyard #2.


The Richmond Ford Motor Co Assembly Plant was the largest assembly plant on the West Coast. During World War II it rolled out combat vehicles rather than motor cars. In recent times, the beautiful building, designed by Albert Kahn in a distinctive 20th century industrial style, fell into disrepair and was scheduled for demolition. But it has been rescued and renovated.


The Bay Trail is beautiful, although it seemed strangely deserted. A local man, a Native American who grew up in the East Bay, rode with us for a time and told stories of playing as a boy in the coastal salt marshes that the Trail now passes through. Near the Marina, we stopped to buy and drink home made lemonade at a lemonade stand set up by some local children: 50 cents for a cup, 75 cents for two cups. I paid $5 for 4 cups and waited for change, but they were quite little kids and perhaps had not yet learned in their math class about subtraction and making change. But $5 seemed a small price to pay to pump prime the American (children's) economy during a week of budget crisis and government shutdown!

My daughter Louisa and her Balloon Stand


You can find out more about riding the 500 miles of planned bike paths around San Francisco and the East Bay here:


Memories of Berkeley and International House

This morning Rochelle, Vince, Maja and I caught the shuttle to downtown Berkeley (Rochelle Cox and Vince Polito are two of my former PhD students, now Postdoctoral Fellows at Macquarie University; Maja is Vince’s partner). We walked through the UC Berkeley campus and then up Bancroft Way, which serves as the southern boundary of the University. At the top of Bancroft Way on Piedmont Avenue, looking west, is International House.


International House opened its doors to international and US students and scholars in 1930. It was built and paid for by John D Rockefeller Jr and Harry Edmonds, who also built International House in New York. I learned today that Berkeley's International House was built facing west over the Pacific to mirror New York's International House, which was built first and faces east over the Atlantic.

I lived at International House for 6 months from January 1998. I was lucky to have a Bay View room. When the weather was fine I could see all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Here is a photo of Rochelle, Vince and Maja today in front of I-House with the window of my old room circled.


International House was built in Spanish Colonial Revivial style, with enormous black wrought iron chandeliers in the Great Hall, beautiful tiles everywhere, elaborate ceilings, and the large white dome that sits atop the building. The Great Hall (pictured below) was the place where we could sink into oversized leather sofas, watch basketball on a giant TV (first there got to choose the channel), dress up for the Winter Ball, or play a game of Cleudo that might go on for days.

The Great Hall, International House


In April of 1998, during the Spring Break, I joined an International House trip to Redding in Northern California. We were hosted by members of Redding's Rotary Club and their families. I stayed with a lovely family (whose name escapes me now although I can picture their house and garden in my mind's eye). I learned today, wandering through a display on the history of I-House, that these trips to Redding started in 1952! I read this:


Just like scholars and students since 1952, I visited the local newspaper, took a boat ride on the amazing Shasta Dam, walked through a pulp mill, and was treated to a BB King concert (which, unfortunately I slept through because I was so tired, dreaming the whole time of plates crashing on the floor; the drums and guitars must have filtered into my subconscious as I slept in my seat). I learned what a pot luck dinner was and discovered a flair for bowling. Most importantly I was treated like a part of my host's family when I was far from home and very homesick.

As I read the words of the Indian student in the photo above, memories of my homesickness as well as gratitude for the care of strangers came flooding back. I hadn't thought of that trip to Redding in probably 15 years.

An earlier generation of I-House residents visiting the Redding Newspaper and Shasta Dam


Every day I lived in Berkeley I walked onto the campus through historic Sather Gate (below), past Sather Tower (below; a clock and bell tower nicknamed “the Campanile” after its architectural inspiration, St Mark's Campanile in Venice), and over to Tolman Hall, home of the Psychology Department and of the sponsor of my visit, Professor John Kihlstrom. You can read more about the history of UC Berkeley here and about its architecture here. It was lovely retracing those steps and remembering my days in Berkeley: days that often challenged me, sometimes delighted me, and definitely changed me. Berkeley has changed too it seems, with Telegraph Avenue more run down that I remember; Shattuck Avenue more built up; and a lovely new shopping and restaurant area way down on Fourth Street.

Sather Gate, UC Berkeley


Sather Tower


Tomorrow will be another chance to revisit the past (and hopefully point to some possible futures) when our hypnosis conference starts. Until then I leave you with this quote from John D Rockerfeller Jr on his vision for International House (from a fascinating history):

The idea of the establishment of this institution on the Pacific Coast was suggested by the success of a similar one on the Atlantic Coast, in New York City, which has become well and favorably known throughout the world. By bringing together in unfettered cooperation the educated young people of all lands, many of whom will in years to come be leaders in their several countries, and by giving them the full opportunity for frank discussion on terms of equality, there is being performed, I believe, a service for the well-being of the world, the importance of which it is difficult to over-value. International House is a laboratory for a new kind of experiment – the day-to-day practice of international fellowship among men and women.

Tonight I am thinking of you, my long ago friends from I-House: Dimitar from Bulgaria (who taught me how to say “epiphany” in Bulgarian) and Shigeru from Japan.


Back across the Bay

I am reviving this blog for a couple of weeks to record my upcoming trip to the 64th Annual Workshops and Scientific Session of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis in Berkeley, California, across the Bay from San Francisco. This venerable Society was founded in 1949 following the success of hypnosis on the battlefields of World War II. SCEH formalised these clinical successes as well as capitalised on an experimental history as long as any other area of psychology (and perhaps longer than psychology itself).

SCEH 2013


My personal history in hypnosis also is entwined with SCEH. My very first international conference was SCEH's 45th Annual Meeting way back in 1994. It was held in San Francisco's Hotel Nikko in Japan Town.

I remember:

  • Meeting all of my heroes in hypnosis, who I only had read about: Ernest Hilgard, John Kihstrom, Kenneth Bowers, Jean-Roch Laurence, Erik Woody, Bob Nadon, Steve Lynn, Mike Nash;
  • Feeling like a Martian who finally had returned home to her people (because almost nobody else was doing hypnosis research in Australia when I was doing it);
  • People coming up to kiss me and congratulate me after my talk; my first big international talk;
  • My parents standing proudly up the back listening to my talk;
  • My supervisor trying to get us into a bikie bar!

It will be lovely to be back in San Francisco at the same conference nearly 20 years after I first attended; seeing some of the same faces again.

Following my PhD I spent time as a Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, working in Professor John Kihlstrom’s laboratory and living in Berkeley’s beautiful International House. I-House stands at the top of the Berkeley campus, at the foot of the Berkeley Hills, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay. The building itself is gorgeous; built in Mission style and opened in 1930. Although I have been back to San Francisco many times since that postdoc year in 1998, I have not been back to Berkeley. I am looking forward to it.

International House, Berkeley, California


So I will post to let you know the latest from the world of hypnosis and from San Francisco, one of my favourite cities in the world.

If only the America's Cup was still on!