Venice: Terrazzo lights and Vivaldi and drones! Oh my!


View from terrace at Hotel Danieli

VENEZIA – This city has beautiful Terrazzo tile floors, thanks to the nearby town that made the floors famous. But don’t let those “worldly” Nevada City naysayers fool you: Venice also is known for its terrazzo lights, including year-round ones. And they are magical at night.

This past weekend Venice held its annual Festa del Redentore, giving thanks to the end of a terrible plague in the 1500s that killed tens of thousands of locals. Boats lined the Grand Canal, festooned with balloons and garland. Locals feasted on fresh seafood, and a fireworks display lit up the night sky.

Terrazzo lights

Terrazzo lights

The next day most of the brightly colored lanterns were removed — but the terrazzo lights inside were left intact.

You can’t help but be reminded of the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Disneyland, Lido Island in Newport Beach and even the Campanile at UC Berkeley when you’re tooling along the Grand Canal in the pubic vaperrato, but this “version” of Venice is the real deal.

We enjoyed going to church at Basilica di San Marco  (where the line was much shorter than the one for tourists) and gazing up at the ornate tile ceilings.

The nearby St. Mark’s Campanile is a wonder, with its gold weathervane. We sat at Caffè Florian, the historic coffee bar in St. Mark’s Square, and watched the activity while a small orchestra played classical music. We dodged some pigeon poop.

We visited museums such as the Naval History Museum and Peggy Guggenheim Collection, art galleries, hotels such as the Gritti Palace and enjoyed the fresh, local food. Seafood from the Adriatic Sea is a specialty. We visited the year-round famers market at the Rialto Bridge, with fresh-caught fish and veggies grown on nearby islands. At breakfast, we drank our juice out of colorful glasses designed by the Massimiliano Schiavon Art Team on Murano Island.

Vivaldi concert

Vivaldi concert

At night, we listened to a string ensemble play classical music from Vivaldi (who was born in Venice) at an outdoor concert in the courtyard of an historic building.

One of the more bizarre sights occurred at the Hotel Danieli, where we were enjoying cocktails on the terrace overlooking the Grand Canal. All of a sudden a drone appeared overhead, apparently capturing us on camera. Our son videotaped the drone (see below).

Best of all, we enjoyed our journeys off the beaten path to explore the less crowded fingers of the canals of Venice. Our hotel was in a locals’ neighborhood, which we appreciated.

Venice is not without its problems: Once the center of a trading empire, it now suffers from a declining population, due to a lack of jobs and the crippling cost of living. It is gradually sinking too.

A few years ago some locals staged a “funeral” to mourn the decline of its resource of people.

We’re on vacation, to be sure. But we’re also interested in exposing our son to Europe and its vibrant history. He is having a blast.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Stone Brewing Co. to be first American craft brewer to own brewery in Europe

From the blog of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:

The 10th largest craft brewer in the United States, Stone Brewing Co. of Escondido, Ca., announced plans this weekend to open a production brewery and expansive destination restaurant in Berlin, Germany.

With an anticipated opening in late 2015 or early 2016, Stone is making an initial investment of more than $25 million to renovate a historic gasworks complex in Marienpark Berlin, turning the more than two acres (9,290 square meters) of indoor and outdoor space into a world-class operation that will welcome beer enthusiasts from around the globe.

Stone will be the first American craft brewer to independently own and operate a brewery in Europe. Stone Brewing Co. – Berlin will encompass three components: a brewery and packaging hall, a Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens restaurant and a Stone Company Store.

“This is a historic moment for Stone. I’ve wanted to say these next words for many years now: We’re coming to Europe. We’re coming to Germany. We are coming to Berlin!” said Stone CEO and Co-founder Greg Koch.

“It has been a long time coming and I couldn’t be more proud to say that we are finally on our way to being the first American craft brewer to own and operate our own brewery in Europe. Once open, we will bring Germany and the rest of Europe a taste of our craft beer vision, and look forward to sharing the unique beers that we have spent the last 18 years brewing.”

The rest of the article is here.

-By Stone Brewing Co.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Will marijuana ordinance “get out the vote” in November?

Editor’s note: The local GOP is opposing “Measure S,” the marijuana ordinance, while the local Democrats are supporting it. The details are below. The voter turnout in June was dismal, and I wonder if the marijuana ordinance will improve the turnout.

The Nevada County Democrats voted on Thursday to endorse Measure S, the Medical Marijuana ordinance on the Nevada County ballot in November 2014, according to a news release from Democratic Central Committee Chair Jim Firth.

The Nevada County Democratic Central Committee heard a one-hour presentation from Measure S proponent Patricia Smith that included discussion of its features and time for questions and answers, the release states. The Committee then deliberated for another half hour to make sure members “fully understood the positive benefits not only to patients, but also to our community as a whole.”

“The Committee feels Measure S is the sensible solution to providing medicine to patients suffering from a variety of chronic conditions like, seizures, cancer, arthritis, glaucoma, or multiple sclerosis,” Firth stated in the release. “Medical Marijuana can sometimes provide relief to patients who are not relieved by conventional medicines.

The current ordinance passed by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors in May 2012 without thorough review or adequate input from the community resulted in a countywide petition drive to place this item before the voters. The petition garnered over 11,000 valid signatures, but was delayed until the November 2014 election.

According to the release, Measure S provides strict limitations on the number of plants grown outdoors in rural zones; forbids outdoor growing on residential lots of less than 2 acres; adheres to the State of California setback standards; and reverses “non-sensical restrictions like not growing plants on hillsides.”

“The criticism that Measure S lacks enforcement provisions is groundless,” the release states. “Measure S intentionally and appropriately leaves enforcement to county officials. Furthermore, there are adequate laws in place to address the illegal activities of drug peddlers, or those who cause environmental damage, such as illegally diverting water or allowing toxins to pollute our streams and rivers.

“We encourage all thinking voters to read the language of the ordinance. It can be found at the Americans for Safe Access web site We urge voters not to be misled by false statements and hyperbole. The “negative impacts” have been mitigated while allowing for responsible cultivation of medical marijuana.”

•Resolution of the Nevada County Republican Party Opposing Measure S

WHEREAS, the Nevada County Republican Party supports the protection of personal property rights and the rights of all to enjoy the beauty and outdoors of Nevada County;

WHEREAS, the Nevada County Republican Party supports the rights of County residents to the quiet enjoyment of their own property;

WHEREAS, the Board of Supervisors have carefully deliberated on the issue of legal marijuana growing within the County boundaries and have set reasonable laws, regulations, restrictions and consequences for growers;

WHEREAS, the current rules and regulations governing the growth of legal marijuana in the County for medicinal purposes is sufficient;

WHEREAS, Measure S has qualified for the November ballot and seeks to expand the rights of marijuana growers without protecting the right of individual property owners;

WHEREAS, Measure S significantly reduces and in many instances eliminates the ability of County law enforcement to enforce growing restrictions;

WHEREAS, the Nevada County Republican Party believes that the expansion of marijuana growing rights under Measure S would be detrimental to the residents of this County by impinging upon the quiet enjoyment of personal property by having to be subjected to: odors, fumes, pesticides, ground water contamination, creased crime and health concerns related to expanded marijuana growing;

WHEREAS, the passage of Measure S will encourage the expansion of illegal marijuana growing by lessening the penalties and impeding the enforcement by County officials; and,
WHEREAS, the only purpose in passing Measure S would be to increase marijuana growing in the county and substantially reduce enforcement measures and penalties for those violating the regulations.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Nevada County Republican Party opposes Measure S and urges all voters (regardless of party affiliation) to protect the health, safety and quiet enjoyment of all County Residents by voting No on Measure S.

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

A journey beyond the State of Jefferson

10436129_10203279246413755_4158285333356812790_nLIDO ISLAND, VENEZIA - We are on holiday from the State of Jefferson, starting our journey at the seashore near Venice. When I showed our passports at the front desk of the Hotel Rivamare for check in, the clerk smiled when she read we were from California. I asked her if she knew about the State of Jefferson. She did not.

We are in room  No. 37 with a small Romeo balcony and sweeping view of the Adriatic Sea. It is spotless with new furnishings and goes for 167 Euros a night for a “triple.” The prices are much more reasonable than Venice, just across the lagoon.

We are headed to Venice next, but this is a good place to unwind after a long journey from the state of Jefferson:  swimming in the Adriatic Sea, walking along the beach and eating fresh fish, fruits and veggies. Our son is enjoying the pizza and gelato.

Beautiful Terrazzo tile floors are in our hotel and the restaurant (named after the town near Venice), and we are on the lookout for terrazzo lights.

There is not a whiff of politics on Lido Island, just people outdoors enjoying the weather. We are next door to the Venezia Tennis Club, which includes some well maintained clay tennis courts and a good, reasonable restaurant on the beach, with fresh fish and homemade pizza. It is a locals hangout.

We also are next door to the five-star Excelsior hotel, where the ice tea is infused with fresh peach and the swimming pool is sparkling. We are also near the Hotel Des Bains, the scene of Thomas Mann’s classic Death in Venice.

All is well at home, with one exception: our dear neighbor who is house sitting and watching our dog informed us she was  “skunked” in the front yard, so she gets a bath.





Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Norwegian Air being called a troublemaker’s airline

Norwegian_air_shuttle_b737-300_ln-kko_arpSTOCKHOLM – Being a troublemaker, I decided we’d fly a troublemaker’s airline to Europe. The airline is called Norwegian Air. The low-cost airline flies a fleet of brand new Boeing 787 “Dreamliners” on long-haul flights from the U.S. to Europe.

In May, Norwegian began flying a nonstop from Oakland to its hub in Stockholm, which connects to all the major cities in Europe with short-haul Boeing 737-800 flights (also new planes). Our final destination is Italy: Venice, Florence, Tuscany-Umbria and Rome, all on trains, but we connect in Stockholm for the flights to Venice and from Rome.

It was a gem of a 9:40 hour flight from Oakland to Stockholm: premium economy class seats for about 50 percent of the price on Alitalia, complete with reclining seats, leg rests, good food (shrimp scampi), a dry white wine and a fresh fruit plate for breakfast.

For the “geotourism” buffs, the tail is painted with famous Norwegians (Olympic skater Sonja Henie, for example), and the meal card includes a bio for adventurer Thor Heyerdahl of Kon-Tiki fame.

Being an airline buff (and longtime aviation writer), I wanted to try out the new “Dreamliner,” just like when we flew the Airbus A380 two years ago to France — that time from LAX.

The 787 jetliner is fuel efficient, has “mood” lighting to help you sleep better, and bigger windows.  One drawback has been flight delays, partly because of “growing pains” with the plane including a well-publicized battery problems, but our flight was on time without a hitch.

It’s not the flight experience on Norwegian Air that has raised a ruckus. It’s the airline’s operating strategy.  “Norwegian Air International (NAI) recently made headlines with its announcement to launch a low cost airline in the U.S. This may sound great on the surface — who doesn’t want to save money on flights? — until you realize what NAI is intending to do: set up a shell corporation to skirt existing laws and put American carriers at a competitive disadvantage,”  Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) wrote.

The airline also has drawn the ire of labor unions. “The Airline Pilots Assn. International and the Assn. of Flight Attendants have petitioned the U.S. Department of Transportation to refuse to accept Norwegian flights out of Ireland. Delta, United and American Airlines also oppose the move,” as the L.A. Times reports.

“Norwegian Air Shuttle rejects such contentions, saying it will abide by the labor laws of every country in which it operates. The airline says critics are just trying to keep out low-fare competitors. ‘This is a frantic attempt at blocking competition, consequently preventing the American people access to affordable airfare to Europe and blocking the creation of new jobs in America,’ the airline said.”

Having covered the aftermath of airline deregulation in South Florida (Eastern, startup Air Florida, Pan American World Airways and others), as well as San Francisco (United, American and Southwest), I understand the arguments.

But the “horse is out of the barn” on this one. In fact, this month Lufthansa announced it would start a low-cost, long-haul airline akin to Norwegian Air. If you can’t beat them, join them. Some 35 years after U.S. airline deregulation, the market is still adjusting itself to a new world order.




Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Scoop: GV exec will ride with Tour de France racers this month

Screen-Shot-2014-06-18-at-10.04.58-AMThe Tour de France is arguably cycling’s most prestigious competition.  As it turns out, Jonathan Morgan, president and chief executive of Applied Science in Grass Valley, will embed with pro cycling teams for the last six stages of the race culminating in the final celebration on the Champs-Élysées in Paris later this month, Sierra Foothills Report has learned.

“The opportunity to be embedded with a professional team as they compete during the greatest of all bike races is a historical experience. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rub shoulders with the best cyclists in the world,” Morgan said in the Chasing Atlas blog. Chasing Atlas, a travel company, arranged the experience.

As a triathlete, Morgan finished 9 Iron Man’s including KONA and is also an Ultra Marathon runner, the Chasing Atlas blog reports. A former Alpine Racing Ski Coach in Canada, he has spent his life working with professional athletes. For him, the Tour de France is epic. “I am looking forward to asking Jens Voigt and Chris Horner how they have managed to stay competitive for so long,” says Morgan. “I would also love to meet Fabian Cancellara… and, the Green Jersey! Peter Sagan.”

Morgan, 60, writes on his own blog: “These three days of cycling in the Pyrenees include some of the most iconic climbs in the history of the Tour.” He adds: “Simply, it was the opportunity, with a small number of folks, in this case two other guys, to take part in a unique cycling adventure: to “embed” with the Cannondale Cycling Team during the last week of the Tour de France.”

Morgan’s cycling itinerary, from July 22-28, is here: Chasing Atlas TDF ITINERARY

(Photo: Chasing Atlas)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Foothill Flowers in GV cited for energy savings in Sierra Business Council newsletter

Foothill Flowers of Grass Valley is cited as benefitting from the Sierra Nevada Energy Watch program sponsored by the Sierra Business Council in a letter to members throughout the region.

“For 20 years Sierra Business Council has been finding new ways to make Sierra businesses in the Sierra more prosperous and sustainable.

“Recently, Foothill Flowers experienced over $2,000 years savings by working with the Sierra Nevada Energy Watch team to change their lighting fixtures, which has made a huge difference for the owners. ‘Every time I open my utility bill I look forward to seeing the savings,’ says Mark Johnson in the letter.

“So far this year, the Sierra Nevada Energy Watch program has helped PG&E customers reduce their energy use by 2,706,000 kilowatt house by installing energy efficient equipment in 145 local small businesses, primarily in the Sierra Nevada foothill region.”

Good going to the Sierra Business Business Council and Foothill Flowers!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment