Young climate activist is Time magazine's "Person of the Year"

“Time on Wednesday named the young climate activist Greta Thunberg as its person of the year, in a nod to the next generation’s surging prominence in worldwide efforts to prevent the worst effects of climate change,” as The New York Times is reporting.

“It was an irony, perhaps, that the designation, announced on television and online, is a ritual marketing stunt that is one of the last vestiges of an era when weekly print magazines were a major force in the news cycle.

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump, the Ukraine whistle-blower and the Hong Kong protesters were all on the shortlist for this year’s selection, according to the anchors of the “Today” show.

“The activist’s rise started in August 2018, when she skipped school to protest climate change outside the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm, where she grew up. Since then, she has become an international fixture, speaking before the United Nations and meeting with numerous heads of state as well as the pope.”

The rest of the article is here.

Dr. Phil visits Whoville in time for Christmas

We sat in our living room last night with the Christmas tree glowing, cheese from Wheyward Girl artfully arranged on our Spode Christmas dish, and a glass of Nevada City Winery chardonnay in hand, and we watched in awe another marathon Nevada City Council meeting on our MacBook Pro last night. (We have Dish, not Comcast, so we can’t watch the meetings on the local government TV channel).

Every “Tom, Dick and Harry” (excuse me, I mean residents, those who live outside the incorporated city, and even our former city mayors), all got up to express their “two-cents” (and in some cases vent) about Mayor Reinette Senum (AKA winner of the prestigious 25th annual Lampert Award). You could tell this made some of them feel “real swell” about themselves. All of this — even the snippiest of remarks about Reinette — was in front of God and everyone.

It’s the American way. And the American way (Senum’s own right to express her opinions) finally prevailed when  a possible motion to censure Senum or remove her ceremonial title pooped out at the finish line.

Dr. Phil would have been proud of the proceedings. In fact, he might have even been in attendance, lapping it all up from the back row. After all, everyone else was there.

For those who want to catch up with the latest drama that unfolded at 317 W. Broad Street, a recorded version of the meeting will soon appear here. Check it out with a glass of delicious eggnog — now stocked on SPD’s shelves on Zion St.

Now the rest of us can get back to work. And that includes the Council. As Council member Erin Minett (who floated the bright idea of censuring Senum at a previous board meeting) put it: “Make sure we have clean water, sewer, our parks, support our police and fire and get some business done. Yes, we have a lot of serious issues, fire, blackouts, insurance issues. 5G is not the only issue.”

Wouldn’t that be special. Because this little city faces all of the above — and more! In fairness, participating in local politics is “God’s work,” so thanks to Erin and the rest of the Council for all you do. And Happy Holidays!

Now that this latest heated local issue is behind us, all of us Who’s in Whoville can stand hand-in-hand and start singing:

Nevada City is not a Thomas Kinkade painting — it is much more

Thomas Kinkade’s “A Peaceful Retreat”

Thomas Kinkade was an American painter of popular pastoral and idyllic subjects. The “painter of light” was known for his paintings of cozy cottages with windows that glowed, quaint towns with twinkling lights, and English gardens. “I love small towns. I love their scenic charm, their local history, their strong sense of community and their fast ties to family heritage,” the late painter once said. (For another perspective on Kinkade, read “Dark Portrait of a Painter of Light” here).

If Nevada City didn’t exist, Kinkade would have painted it. We have been residents for over a decade, and we enjoy all it has to offer. This weekend we enjoyed Victorian Christmas. It was packed with locals and visitors alike.

But the “real” Nevada City is much more than that. While romanticized like a Kinkade painting, it also has embraced diversity and differences of opinion — in what is now largely a homogenous, lily-white county.

Embracing differences is not a new theme for Nevada City. “There were black cowboys and miners, and Nevada City even hosted services of the African Methodist Episcopal Church,” as Robert Scheer wrote in the Los Angeles Times in 1991. “Schools were integrated in 1876 and ‘coloreds,’ including freemen from the East who augmented the ex-slave population, entered the commercial and social life of an area that had been strongly pro-Union.

“The Bonanza market on downtown’s Broad Street, for example, has been run by a Chinese family since I first came to town, and you can check with proprietor Jack Yock as to memories of his family’s history there.”

David Osborn and Charles Woods were two transplanted San Francisco designers who helped shape the town. The graphic artists and partners helped invigorate the town, now known for its arts and culture scene.

Against this backdrop of tolerance, it seems out of the town’s character to propose that its current mayor, Reinette Senum, be censured or demoted. It will be debated at a Nevada City Council meeting on Dec. 10. More details are here.

“I’ve had the great pleasure of knowing Reinette for many years and she still finds ways to amaze me,” said Marching Presidents founder David Parker, who presented a community service award to her at the Marching Presidents post-parade awards banquet at Miners Foundry.

“Her list of community accomplishments is long and growing longer each year. She has helped transform our historic community in ways that have put Nevada City on the cutting edge of the 21st Century,” he said. “The Famous Marching Presidents are proud to honor Reinette with our 25th annual Lambert Award.”

In the agenda packet, I was surprised to read that some of her vociferous critics (read their letters in the link to the agenda packet) were the same people we saw standing in line for the farm-to-table dinners that Reinette organized.

I don’t always agree with Reinette or her approach, and she has made mistakes. But I also appreciate what she has done for our town — as a council member and a volunteer.

Nevada City is not a Thomas Kinkade painting — or the setting for Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery,” where act of stoning someone somehow “purges the town of the bad and allows for the good.”

To be sure, the punishment directed at Reinette is not that extreme. But the “punishment does not fit the (alleged) crime.” It will set a ugly precedent.

I am hoping common sense prevails when the Council meets on this agenda item, but I am doubtful. This is a provincial town and it’s often “personal.”

We face some real big issues in our town that have nothing to do with Reinette. This is where the Council should direct its attention.

You Tubers The Piano Guys: "O come, O come, Emmanuel"

The Piano Guys are an American musical group consisting of pianist Jon Schmidt, cellist Steven Sharp Nelson, videographer Paul Anderson, and music producer Al van der Beek,” as Wikipedia reports. “They gained popularity through YouTube, where in 2010 they began posting piano and cello compositions combining classical, contemporary, and rock and roll music, accompanied by professional-quality videos. As of August 2018 the group had surpassed 1.6 billion views on their YouTube channel and had 6.2 million subscribers. To date, they have topped the Billboard Classical Albums chart six times and the New Age Albums chart eight times.”

"It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas"

We cut a beautiful Douglas Fir tree at McBurney’s Tree Farm in Cedar Ridge this afternoon (while enjoying the crackling outdoor fire and hot chocolate); brought it home in our Chevy pickup (free netting and loading, as always); and hung its branches with our beloved collection of hand-blown glass ornaments. Each one has a “story.” We wrap them in tissue paper like jewels and store them in big, sturdy boxes in the garage.

It is an eclectic collection: Some of them date back to my grandma Ella’s childhood in Park City, Utah (fragile!). Others come from the famed Podesta Baldocchi Flowers in San Francisco (a fabulous store that made a cameo appearance in Hitchcock’s Vertigo), the striking Neiman Marcus Rotunda, fabled Bullock’s Wilshire in Los Angeles, and joyous FAO Schwarz in Manhattan, as well as our trips to Europe. One is from Tokyo, a harrowing journey for such a fragile thing.

Our son Mitchell made some of the ornaments in grade school at Mt. St. Mary Academy (one reads “I love everyone in the world”). Others are vintage hand-painted ornaments from the iconic De Carlini in Italy (https://www.unoallavolta.com/…/artisan/the-de-carlini-family) and  The Christopher Radko Company (https://slate.com/…/christopher-radko-the-man-who-super-siz…).

Some have nicknames, such as “Icicle Man.” And I’m sad to say that a few (like “Mr. Octopus” with its fragile tentacles) broke in past years.

As a child, I used to lie down on the floor under the tree and look up into the ornaments and lights, imagining a magical world. Now it’s an opportunity to reflect upon the past and contemplate another New Year.

PG&E reaches $13.5 billion deal with wildfire victims

“After months of tense negotiations, Pacific Gas & Electric and lawyers for victims of wildfires that killed dozens of people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes and businesses have agreed Friday to a multibillion-dollar legal settlement,” as The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting.

“The victims would not receive all of the $13.5 billion that is being made available under the agreement. Some of it would go toward paying the claims of federal and state agencies, and the victims’ lawyers would receive a portion.

“The accord is a big step forward for PG&E, whose response to wildfires has often faltered. For victims, the money would help them rebuild homes and lives after months of uncertainty, though many would most likely get a lot less than they had hoped for or need.

“And a settlement would significantly increase the likelihood that PG&E will emerge from bankruptcy before a crucial deadline in June. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in January, saying it faced an estimated $30 billion in wildfire claims.”

The rest of the article is here.