Strawberry Music Festival returns to Nevada County Fairgrounds on May 21-24

From the blog of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:

“Great news folks!  We could not be happier to announce that the Spring 2015 Festival is taking place at the Nevada County Fairgrounds on Memorial Day weekend- Thursday, May 21st through Sunday, May 24th.   We’ve already got some great music in the works and look forward to more exciting announcements regarding lineup and ticket sales beginning before Christmas. The office will be closing at noon today for Thanksgiving and will reopen on Tuesday, December 2nd.

Wishing you and yours a happy and safe holiday,

Strawberry Staff”

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The Illusionists on Broadway

We enjoyed the opening of The Illusionists on Broadway on Wednesday night, and it was right in our son’s wheelhouse. I figured he was looking for a break from a musical. The Illusionists, which features seven world-class magicians, is going on a national tour next year, including San Jose in June.

We witnessed various acts of illusion, levitation, mind-reading, disappearance and a Harry Houdini-like water  escape. Performed by the acclaimed “escapologist” Andrew Basso of Italy, he held his breath for 2 minutes and 47 seconds tonight while escaping from an underwater cell (shown in this video). This group took their cue from famous showmanship illusionists, such as Houdini, and paired it with a new and updated contemporary aesthetic. I joked to my wife that King Kong would appear on the stage next, as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” I have no doubt the show is going to be a big hit on its U.S. tour.

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A visit to the United Nations: The “knotted gun” vs. our gun culture

photo We enjoyed our visit to the United Nations this week. I joked to my wife that the UN is anathema to western Nevada County, where the gun culture reigns. But on our never-ending quest to introduce our son to multifaceted perspectives, we trudged onward.

The UN tour began with a big security check, then a walk along the promenade of the East River, with artifacts that included a good-sized chunk of the Berlin Wall.

Once inside we were introduced to a presentation on Palestine, “School in a Box,” and “Plumby Doz,” and a Security Council meeting room where UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was present.

The School-in-a-Box has become part of the UNICEF standard response in emergencies, used in many back-to-school operations around the world. The kit contains supplies and materials for a teacher and up to 40 students. The purpose of the kit is to ensure the continuation of children’s education by the first 72 hours of an emergency.

As for helping the hungry, one variety (Plumpy’Doz, by Nutriset) comes in tubs containing a weekly ration. Another (Plumpy Sup, also by Nutriset) comes in one-day sachets. Both can be eaten directly from their containers and are designed to be eaten in small quantities, as a supplement to the regular diet.

At, for each answer you get right, the group donates 10 grains of rice through the World Food Program to end world hunger.

photo-1A highlight of our tour was a mosaic based a on a work by American artist Norman Rockwell, long a favorite attraction on tours of the United Nations that was re-dedicated following its restoration during the recent reconstruction of the headquarters complex.

Entitled “Golden Rule,” the work was presented to the UN in 1985 as a gift on behalf of the United States by then First Lady Nancy Reagan. The half-ton mosaic depicts people of different nationalities standing together with the words “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is inscribed on the surface.

We also were introduced to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. Colombian musician Cesar Lopez created the unique Escopetarra musical instrument and the only escopetarrist in the world out of an AK-47 rifle, which was on display.

In addition, while exiting the UN grounds, we saw the work shown in the photo above — a 45-caliber revolver with its barrel knotted that is titled Non-Violence and is frequently referred to as the “knotted gun.” It was created by Swedish sculptor Carl FredrikReutersward in 1980.

A cast metal version was gifted by Luxembourg to the United Nations in 1988. The piece makes an immediate impression, with its message quite clear. The inspiration for the piece was the death of John Lennon, a friend of the sculptors.

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Pre-Thanksgiving at the United Nations’ Delegates Dining Room

From the blog of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:

It isn’t every day that the public get to sit with ambassadors, delegates, and other international dignitaries, but that’s precisely what the Delegates Dining Room at the United Nations offers.

This week FoodWineArt magazine visited the newly refurbished Delegates Dining Room and enjoyed eclectic and globally inspired cuisine with breathtaking views of the East River, including Roosevelt Island with its new Four Freedoms Park, and the Long Island City waterfront.

The food was spectacular: from the starters to entrées to desserts. For full details click HERE for a slideshow. We also enjoyed the historic artifacts. For example, the entrance to the dining room includes a silver Dallah (Omani-style Coffee Pot) from the Sultanate of Oman in 1973.

We also toured the United Nations building, where UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was speaking to delegates. The tour included a visit to Security Council Chamber, the Trusteeship Council Chamber, and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber in the newly renovated Conference Building. We learned about how the United Nations addresses issues such as disarmament, peace and security, human rights, and the Millennium Development Goals.

The Delegates Dining Room offers a unique and upscale dining experience. Executive Chef Dan Lopez and his highly trained culinary team feature recipes from Greece, Italy, China, Germany, Spain, Morocco, and other nations, as well as authentic, high-quality ingredients, to high-profile guests such as President George W. Bush, Kofi Anan, Jacque Chirac, and 191 Ambassadors, Kings and Queens from around the world.

Lopez is a graduate and a guest instructor at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, where he teaches preparation techniques and kitchen operations management, along with French cuisine. Lopez also was Senior Executive Chef at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he served over 36,000 meals a day for the most diverse collection of people in the world.

For security reasons, all guests must be escorted to and from the Delegates Dining Room. The Dining Room also requires proper attire, including jackets for men and no jeans nor sneakers. The Delegates Dining Room is open Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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Hard to know what’s going on with our local newspaper

Editor’s note: I fired up on Tuesday, November 25, to see what was going on back home, and came across this article from November 25. The first sentence reads: “Tomorrow, Saturday November 29 at the Safeway on Sutton Way in Grass Valley …” In fact, tomorrow is Wednesday, November 26 — at least here in New York City.

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No indictment in Ferguson case

“A St. Louis County grand jury has brought no criminal charges against Darren Wilson, a white police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, more than three months ago in nearby Ferguson,” as the New York Times and other media are reporting.

“The decision was announced Monday night by the St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch, at a news conference packed with reporters from around the world. The killing on a residential street in Ferguson set off civil unrest — and a national debate — fueled by protesters’ outrage over what they called a pattern of police brutality against young black men.

The rest of the article is here.

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A poignant visit to the 9/11 Museum in New York


Virgil’s words read, “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” A sea of blue surrounds the quote: 2983 individual paper watercolors in different shades of blue pay tribute to the people killed on 9/11 and in the 1993 bombing. (Sierra Foothills Report)

Our son, his friends and his classmates belong to the post 9-11 generation, a period of American history that we are still trying to assimilate. It goes well beyond the more upbeat “iGeneration” label for them, forever changing our nation’s psyche. God bless these kids.

New 9/11 Museum (NBC News)

New 9/11 Museum (NBC News)

As a next-door neighbor who had two children in the ’80s in Marin County before we were parents once joked to me: “When your first child eats dirt in the backyard you get all worked up; when it happens with your second child you just shrug your shoulders.”

Since 9/11 it’s been harder to shrug your shoulders: You are more likely to be protective and prepared, at least in the back of your mind.

In our case, my wife was two months pregnant when I, as an early riser, watched in horror as the first commercial jetliner crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center on CNBC. I went into the bedroom to wake her up, muttering something like “you’ve got to get up and see this,” and we both watched the tragedy unfold all day long — just like much of the planet. A few days later, I flew to New York to be with colleagues who were part of our newsroom at CNET. They were scared. As the plane flew over lower Manhattan to JFK, it was eerie to see the skyline without the two World Trade Center buildings.

Three years ago, when our son was old enough to understand the horrific attack, at least in an abstract way, our family visited the 9/11 Memorial on a trip to New York City. We wanted to honor the victims, and we wanted our son to better understand a milestone event that we knew would define his generation, as Pearl Harbor did for my parents.

Flyers of missing people were posted at hospitals for weeks (NBC News)

Flyers of missing people were posted at hospitals for weeks (NBC News)

We all stared into the nearly acre-size dark pools of water that sit on the original footprint of the North and South Towers. We ran our fingers across some of  the names of the nearly 3,000 men, women, children, as well as the unborn children, who perished in the attacks.

This summer, the 9/11 Memorial Museum opened. This week we returned to visit the Museum.  “In the same way that the fields of Gettysburg, the beaches of Normandy and the waters of Pearl Harbor are places that teach each successive generation of Americans about who we are as a nation, the 9/11 Memorial, built at ground zero itself, will forever be a part of our collective fabric,” summed up Joe Daniels, president and CEO of the Museum.

“No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”

The museum includes the personal stories of courage, loss and resilience, the intimate memories of 2,982 victims and the countless artifacts, images and recorded sounds. We had planned a shorter visit but stayed at the Museum for hours.

In one exhibit, as another blogger summed up,”Virgil’s words read ‘No day shall erase you from the memory of time.’ A sea of blue surrounds the quote: 2983 individual paper watercolors in different shades of blue pay tribute to the people killed on 9/11 and in the 1993 bombing. Artist Spencer Finch created this exhibition titled ‘Trying to remember the color of the sky on that September morning’ especially for this space in the museum.”

The artifacts tell the story in the way that words cannot.

We saw a squeegee handle that became a life saving tool. Six men used it to pry open an elevator door that was stuck, break through sheetrock into a bathroom and escape down the stairs.


Mark Beamer’s watch and Oracle business card. The watch shows the date “11.” (NBC News)

We saw wallets, shoes, memos and keys (smashed) that were recovered from the World Trade Center. We saw a tattered American flag recovered from the World Trade Center. We saw the battered watch of Mark Beamer, the Oracle Corp. worker who helped to overpower hijackers on United Airlines Flight #93. We saw steel beams found in the rubble, including the one that was bent from the impact of the first jetliner.

In another exhibit, we also saw a brick from the “safe house” where Osama Bin Laden was killed. “For many, the brick represents the fall of bin Laden’s reign of terror; a storied piece of solitary rubble denoting renewal of life in a world in which he no longer remains at large,” as the 9/11 blog wrote.

We also learned about the lives of each victim, including recorded messages from their friends and family members. It was heart wrenching.

Only about 40 percent of the remains of the victims have been identified. It is not widely discussed, but the Museum also includes the unidentified remains in a specially built repository. Docents are on hand who were 9/11 survivors. One of them named Mark told us about an eldery woman who showed up to find her relative’s remains.

We have been to the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu, where fuel continues to leak from the wreckage. It is a poignant memory.

Our two visits to the 9/11 Memorial and now the Museum have helped educate us about that fateful day, but it still seems unimaginable.

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