Gator invades Florida home: “He got my red wine; the good stuff.”

An 11-foot alligator invades Clearwater, Fla., home and breaks into the wine cabinet. “I’m sorry, you said it’s in your house? In the kitchen?” the dispatcher said. The woman replied: “I don’t know why he wanted my red wine, but he got my red wine; the good stuff.” The video is here.

Summer programs that help educate high schoolers and launch their careers

Editor’s note: I had written earlier that our son, a student at Ghidotti High, was excited to attend a four-week “COSMOS” program (California State Summer School for Math & Science) at UC San Diego this summer. Parents are kept in the loop with a 10-page weekly newsletter (this was an excerpt from the first), along with a parents weekend.

In this program, about 200 students are chosen and assigned to academic “clusters” that interests them. There’s “playtime” (trips to the San Diego Zoo or the beach on weekends, for example), but it also exposes them to some accomplished academics — another “excellent adventure” on their path toward college.

This is just one example. All sorts of cool programs are held in the summer for college-bound students: from ones at NASA and JPL to others such as international relations at Georgetown. Here’s a longtime program for journalists at Northwestern — the five-week Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute. I was a counselor as a graduate student for this program back in ’82. I got to know the kiddos in my group, and some went on to successful careers: one is now creating documentaries like this while the other is a New York Times reporter. Exciting times for millennials! Don’t let the curmudgeons sell them short.

Our first week of COSMOS 2019, has been GR8! We settled into our dorms and meet our Cluster 8 Resident Assistants, Sammy and Brandon. In the evenings we have spent time working with them on COSMOS Olympics and have had variety of programing activities, our favorite being volleyball and Frisbee! We are super excited for COSMOS Olympics on Friday night!

“On Monday morning we began our day with two safety meetings as safety is our top priority. Then during the remainder of the week we have had lectures and discussions with our esteemed professors. Dr. Sah, who is a Professor in the Departments of Bioengineering and Orthopedic Surgery at the University of California-San Diego and a Professor at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Dr. Gaetani who is an Assistant Research
Scientist, Department of Bioengineering & Sanford Consortium Regenerative Medicine at the University of California-San Diego and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine Sapienza at the University of Rome.

“In the lab we were guided by our GR8 Cluster Assistants (CA). Shitian, who is getting a B.S with a double major in Bioengineering: Biotechnology and Mathematics: Applied Science, Veronica, who just graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Bioengineering and in the fall will begin her Masters in Bioengineering at UCSD, Swetha who is currently pursuing a Masters in Bioengineering in UCSD and Arya, who just finish his B.S. in Bioengineering: Biotechnology and in the fall will begin his Masters in Bioengineering. We
have learned how to pipette, make dilutions, perform sterile technique, make solutions, make media for cell culture, and pH the solutions we make.

“Outside of lab we attended a GR8 Discovery Lecture on Nanotechnology and a library presentation so we can do all of our research for our Ethics papers and projects. In Science Communications, with our Teacher Fellow, Mrs. Patty Fowler, we have evaluated and discussed presentations, been introduced to and begun our Ethics Project, learned how to maintain our data in laboratory notebooks, and reviewed how to present our data thoroughly and clearly.”

Park Service diverting $2.5 million in fees to pay for Trump’s expanded July Fourth

“The National Park Service is diverting nearly $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees primarily intended to improve parks across the country to cover costs associated with President Donald Trump’s Independence Day celebration Thursday on the National Mall, according to two individuals familiar with the arrangement,” The Washington Post is reporting.

“Trump administration officials have consistently refused to say how much taxpayers will have to pay for the expanded celebration on the National Mall this year, which the president has dubbed “Salute to America.” The two individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, confirmed the transfer of the Park Service funds Tuesday.

“The diversion of the park fees represents just a fraction of the extra costs the government faces as a result the event, which also includes expansive displays of military hardware, flyovers by an array of jets including Air Force One, the deployment of tanks on the Mall and an extended pyrotechnics display. By comparison, according to former Park Service deputy director Denis Galvin, the entire Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall typically costs the agency about $2 million.

The White House is also distributing VIP tickets for Trump’s planned speech at the Lincoln Memorial to Republican donors and political appointees, prompting objections from Democratic lawmakers who argue the president has turned the annual celebration into a campaign-like event.

“The Republican National Committee and Trump’s reelection campaign confirmed Tuesday that they had received passes they were handing out for the event.

“‘We’ve never seen anything like this,’ Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, said in a phone interview. ‘No ticketed political event should be paid for with taxpayer dollars.’

“The White House referred questions about the celebration to the Interior Department, which declined to comment.”

Note: The Washington Post reported this article, and it ran in the San Francisco Chronicle.

More hateful words from local blogger Rebane: this time targeting Kamala Harris

Wonders never cease when it comes to the “pearls of wisdom” ( at least in his mind) that come from local right-wing blogger George Rebane — who also has a weekly slot on the KVMR News Hour, sits on the board of Music in the Mountains, and has helped administer a “tech test” to our area’s high school students. (Also note the spelling error, for a PhD, no less: writing “here” for “her”):

Rebane writes on his blog: “Kamala Harris owes here (sic) career to being a privileged mulatto – Jamaican father, Indian mother – which in today’s racial labeling allows her to call herself a black – ‘I am black and I am proud of it.’  She has played the black card for advancement all her life, and now she is beating her fellow Democrat presidential candidates over the head with it.  And it might even get her the nomination, unless one of her opponents has the courage to tell voters that her claims of having risen through racial discrimination is just politically motivated bull crap.”

What hateful words masquerading as “commentary.”

Summer Thyme’s is closing at end of today

We received this email from Amy Cooke of Summer Thyme’s:

Dear Friends,

We are writing with news of a heart-rending decision we’ve had to make for our physical, emotional, and financial health. Today, June 30, 2019, at the end of the day, Summer Thyme’s Bakery & Deli will close its doors. We hope you will come by today to celebrate all that Summer Thyme’s has been as we serve our last muffins and lattes, breakfasts and lunches.

When we bought Summer Thyme’s in 2008 from Sara and Jeromy Laurin, it became clear to us that serving food was a front for what was really going on at Summer Thyme’s – Love. Love is what Summer Thyme’s was about from the beginning. Love for people. Love for food. For farms and for health. Love for community and music and art and kids.

We can hardly express the gratitude we have for this journey. From momentary connections across the counter to friendships that have grown over years, we have gotten to know remarkable people. Our customers are truly our friends. Together we have celebrated loves and births and graduations and weddings and all the little and big triumphs along the way. We have mourned losses and hardships. You have honored us by inviting us to serve food at memorials and weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. We often stood in the back with teary eyes and full hearts as we witnessed the love that these events conveyed. Thank you.

We have been privileged to be a part of the local arts community through our gallery and live music. Musicians have filled our dining room with joy, some of them from the earliest days of Summer Thyme’s. Our walls have featured artists showing for the first time and those who were well established. It has been an honor to nurture the arts through our restaurant.

Our dream of supporting nonprofits found fulfillment through Summer Thyme’s. We are honored to have taken part in the annual SYRCL Yuba River clean up, in donating to the Interfaith Food Bank, and in sponsoring the Turkey Trot and the Woolman Salmon Run. Sierra Harvest has held a special place for us, and we’ve loved taking part in the farm to school weeks. Being able to support people who are working so hard at making our community a better place has been deeply gratifying.

Thank you to the farmers who grew and raised the food we served. It has been a particular joy to see how the farm to fork movement has blossomed in our county.

Our last words are for our employees. You are where our love for Summer Thyme’s started. Your poured your hearts into this restaurant. You made incredible food, served people from love, stayed late and came in early. You cared (and you know what that means)! You laughed with us and cried with us, saw us at our worst and at our best. If family means people who stick with you through thick and thin, then yes, you are family. And we are grateful to you more than words can say.

Today, June 30th, we will close our doors. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for taking part in the true mission of Summer Thyme’s.

Amy and Chamba Cooke

(Photo: John Burnett)

Photojournalism that matters: from “Napalm Girl” to drowned immigrants

Photo credit: Kim Phuc, AP photographer

Many of us remember this moment of desperation, captured in a photo from 1972 that “went viral” before “viral” as term or Facebook or YouTube was even around: It shows nine-year-old Kim Phuc, also known as the “Napalm Girl.” As the PBS website recalls: “It’s a hard image to forget. A young girl, naked, runs screaming toward the camera in agony after a napalm attack incinerated her village, her clothes, and then her skin.”

Associated Press photographer Nick Ut’s image became the epitome for illustrating the terror of war. More details here.

Photo: Julia Le Duc, Mexican newspaper La Jornada 

This week, we were introduced to another powerful photo. We subscribe to The New York Times and it was “above the fold” on the front page — hard to miss as I retrieved the newspaper at the crack of dawn from the front lawn. (I’m an early riser). As The Times described: “Photo of drowned migrants captures pathos of those who risk it all.”

“The portrait of desperation was captured on Monday by the journalist Julia Le Duc, in the hours after Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez died with his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, as they tried to cross from Mexico to the United States.

“The image represents a poignant distillation of the perilous journey migrants face on their passage north to the United States, and the tragic consequences that often go unseen in the loud and caustic debate over border policy.”

Photojournalism like this can be a game changer. Ut’s photo helped change the Vietnam War. Watch the video report here.

I cringed this morning when I saw the photo of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, who had died with his 23-month-old daughter .

But as we discussed it at the breakfast table, Shannon reminded me that it also could be a game changer when it comes to addressing the immigration issue. I hope she is right.