Dunkin’ Donuts and coffee

No East Coast adventure is complete without sampling Dunkin’ Donuts – and a cup of its “premium” coffee.

Dunkin, also known by the initials DD, was founded in Quincy, Mass., outside of Boston back in the ’50s.

There’s one Dunkin’ Donuts franchise for every 5,000 to 6,000 people in New England.

Since 2020, Dunkin has embarked on a plan to open a thousand locations in California.

A charmed visit to “Charm City”

We headed out to Baltimore for a visit with our son at Johns Hopkins University.

The United Airlines flight from Sacramento was not memorable, an experience we’ve come to expect in this era of airline deregulation. 

We upgraded to first class as United “Silver Status” members, which — of course — was full of other upgraded “Silver Status” members.

But except for a wider seat, our flight — with an hours-long connection in Denver because of a snow storm — wasn’t much to write home about. We landed at 4 a.m. (instead of 10 p.m. as planned), and we struggled to find a taxi cab at that hour of the morning.

We are settled in Baltimore now, enjoying a visit with our son and his classmates. After a long weekend of warm weather, it has been raining almost nonstop. But we are glad to pad around the beautiful campus, a short walk from our hotel. And the pitter-patter of rain is a welcome sight rather than a deterrent, since it is such a rare occurrence back home (We’re “Singing in the Rain.”)

We’ve had a great time catching up with our son, and hearing about his classwork and campus life. Johns Hopkins is on Cloud 9, because philanthropist Michael Bloomberg has donated a record-setting $3 billion-plus to his alma mater. The donation has allowed the school — ranked in the top 10 of our nation’s universities for its academics — to strengthen paths for talented undergraduates in STEM fields. 

The timing has been fortunate for the Class of 2024-5. Our son’s major is biomedical engineering, one of JHU’s strong suits, and the school is investing even more in the program.

We are enjoying our return visit, eating fresh seafood, and touring some attractions, including neighborhoods such as Fell’s Point, the Inner Harbor, museums, art galleries, and a science center. 

Our Saab convertible: “What’s old is new again”

“The seats hold you like your mom did when you were three and are just as comfortable.” — Car & Driver review

Thanks to Plaza Tire & Auto Service and owner Mark Heauser in Nevada City for the new battery to get our beloved ’93 Saab convertible back on the road after being garage bound during much of the COVID era. Fingers crossed.

We have fond memories with this cabriolet, going back to, well, 1993: The commute across the Golden Gate Bridge from home to the parking garage at CNET near PacBell Park in San Francisco; frequent rides along the West Shore of Lake Tahoe; car camping adventures with our son and our dog riding in the backseat (with a duffle bag in the middle); as well as trips to Southern California for the beaches and Del Mar horse races. Oh, and one long roadtrip to Death Valley in the wintertime, with the top down, no less.

For the record, I was reminded this week that convertibles are getting scarce. I had been looking at a Mustang (plain Jane interior) and an Audi (aargh, $$$) ragtop, since Saab is no more. At just 84,000 miles, we’ve got “miles to go before I sleep,” as Robert Frost put it.

A review is here:

Trump part of a “conspiracy” to overturn 2020 election, committee alleges

Former President Donald Trump and a right-wing lawyer were part of a ‘criminal conspiracy’ to overturn the 2020 presidential election, the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot alleges in a court filing Wednesday,” as CNN and other media are reporting.

“The filing is part of an attempt to convince a judge to allow the panel access to emails from lawyer John Eastman, who is claiming attorney-client privilege. The committee said he helped to orchestrate the plot.

“The filing is the most extensive release to date from the House’s January 6 investigators as they try to obtain Eastman’s emails – and comes well before the House select committee releases its final report on its findings on Trump. House members have also signaled they may make a criminal referral to the Justice Department about Trump, depending on their findings, and the House’s arguments Wednesday could be seen as a preview of a case that could be made by federal prosecutors.

“In the 61-page court filing on Wednesday, lawyers for the House wrote: ‘Evidence and information available to the Committee establishes a good-faith belief that Mr. Trump and others may have engaged in criminal and/or fraudulent acts, and that Plaintiff’s legal assistance was used in furtherance of those activities.’

“Eastman and Trump have not been accused of any crime by federal or state prosecutors, and no top advisers around Trump have been charged for January 6-related crimes.

“The House has no ability to bring criminal charges. A judge overseeing the civil lawsuit will review the emails himself and decide whether they should stay protected.”

The rest of the CNN report is here.

Local courtroom drama fit for a Perry Mason episode

This morning, we settled down at the breakfast table with a cup of coffee from Caroline’s and read our print copies of the The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Union, our usual routine.

The Union’s headline caught our attention: “Hearing on door tiff opens; Elections office staff said they felt unsafe as supporters tried to barge in” is here.

The facemask with stars and stripes was cool. It reminded me of the stars and stripes “powder pants” I wore as a teenager when I was learning how to ski in Colorado. That was back in the ’70s.

Upgrades underway at Utah’s Place

I received this press release from Hospitality House:

“After two years of pandemic-related expanded operations to help more neighbors in need, Hospitality House’s homeless shelter, Utah’s Place, is under construction to create additional space to allow for greater social distancing and to continue to meet the needs of individuals in crisis. The expansion plan will increase the kitchen’s food storage footprint, provide additional outdoor space, and add an ADA lift. Construction broke ground in mid-February; intentions are to complete the project by June. 

“This one-time specialized project is made possible from California’s Department of Housing and Community Development for homeless shelters to help make them less congregate during the pandemic. Additional funding was provided by individual and business donors who gave during the ‘Fund the Freezer’ campaign in September of 2020.

“Thanks to community members who gave generously in support of Hospitality House expanding its refrigeration capacity, Hospitality House was able to order a much larger freezer unit (17’L X 7’W X 8’H), which is better suited to keep up with the increase in meal needs. The expanded size will also help the shelter accept more food donations and buy in bulk to stretch donated dollars further. When installation of the unit was delayed and the costs increased due to COVID-19, the freezer supplier, Commercial Cooling/Par Engineering, offered a 50 percent discount on installation, effectively erasing the cost inflation. 

“Adding additional food storage space to the kitchen is critical for Hospitality House’s efforts to aid individuals experiencing homelessness. In the 2020/2021 fiscal year, Hospitality House served 84,664 meals to Nevada County residents in need. Upon comparison of the 40,871 meals served pre-pandemic in 2019, the 107 percent increase illustrates the necessity of having significantly more food storage capacity. In that same period, 44 percent of guests at Utah’s Place reported living with a physical disability, making the ADA lift essential.

“Currently, guests with mobility limitations cannot utilize the stairs to access the second floor where the majority of beds and showers are located; instead, they are wheeled up a hill on the backside of the building to gain access. Having an ADA lift right onsite immediately increases safety and accessibility to beds, showers, and related services, making it easier on disabled guests to utilize both stories at any time. Lastly, the expanded deck, which will be triple the size of the preceding deck, will allow guests to easily enjoy fresh air and keep healthier distances, given the increase in space. The new deck will be constructed of concrete and steel, making it both low maintenance and fire-resistant. 

“’The pandemic has provided unique challenges for Hospitality House,’ shared Tyson Powers, Hospitality House’s programs officer. ‘Since March of 2020, we have been operating at expanded capacity to provide shelter, food, emergency services, and more to as many individuals in crisis as safely as possible. Additionally, we’ve partnered with multiple agencies, including County of Nevada, to serve more individuals and families through motel rentals to ensure safety for as many folks as possible.’ 

“Hospitality House will remain open to guests and operate at total capacity during the construction. However, due to safety concerns from active, ongoing construction, donations of goods have been suspended until the completion of construction.

“In-person donations are expected to resume by July 2022, unless otherwise indicated. Hospitality House asks individuals and businesses to please consider financial contributions during this time in lieu of physical goods to reduce the possibility of injury in a construction zone. Donations may be made at hhshelter.org, by calling 530-615-0852, or by sending a donation made payable to Hospitality House at 1262 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, CA 95945.”

Keep our Courts downtown!

Paul Matson, a longtime civic leader, city council member and former mayor of Nevada City, phoned this morning, and in his ebullient manner, asked if he could put this sign in our yard (see below). We happily agreed because it was for a great cause: Keeping the Nevada County Superior Court downtown.

The courthouse has been a longtime fixture in downtown Nevada City. It provides economic benefit (for our restaurants and stores), close proximity to the DA’s office, as well as “sense of place.”

The first courthouse on this site was built around 1856. Having been a juror a few times, it’s more pleasant to explore a cute little town such as Nevada City on foot on lunch breaks (Three Forks, Heartwood, Classic Cafe, The Place on South Pine, Treats and so on) rather than being forced to get in the car and drive to a fast-food joint. I’ve experienced that at the Placer County courthouse in Roseville (think Mickey D’s) and the Marin County courthouse in San Rafael (A&W fast food for “hometown goodness”).

This spring, officials are expected to revisit the Nevada County Superior courthouse’s future. Most residents, including our family, would like to see the historic building updated — but also remain at its current location.

Courthouses have long been a centerpiece of California towns, from Sonora (in “courthouse square”) to Mariposa (the state’s oldest courthouse) to Santa Barbara (one of the state’s original counties). All of them help make their downtowns vibrant and relevant — not just “tourist towns.” In addition, their architecture often is noteworthy and historic.

You’re bound to see other signs such as the one below popping up around town in coming weeks. Thanks to Paul Matson and others for their civic pride and volunteerism (or “many thanks” as Paul likes to put it).

Nevada Union High closed again today!

Our local high school is closed again on Friday. Here are memos discussing the closure:

February 25, 2022

“Good Evening Miner Families,

“This is Kelly Rhoden, Principal of Nevada Union High School. Nevada Union High School will again be closed tomorrow, Friday, February 25, 2022, due to the ongoing teacher shortage. It is our top priority to get students back in the classroom to further their education as soon as possible. We will continue to work with the teachers union and the district administration to find a resolution to our current situation. 

“We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and support as we work through these challenges. Have a good weekend and I look forward to seeing everyone on Monday, February 28, 2022.

“Thank you –

“Kelly Rhoden, Principal, Nevada Union High School”

And:

“Good afternoon NU Teachers: 

“I am reaching out to again apologize for the confusion and stress over the last couple of days that has taken place due to the unprofessional conduct displayed at the board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. I am still embarrassed and ashamed by the disrespect shown not only by the adults in attendance but also by the board’s message and lack of control over the meeting.  I want you to know that I understand why we have the number of teacher absences that we do. I also hope you know that the presence at that meeting was small in comparison to the voices of support for our teachers that I have heard from.

“In planning for tomorrow, I am reaching out to ask those that are planning to be absent again tomorrow to put the absence into AESOP by 6:00 pm tonight so that I can help students, families, and staff plan ahead.

“I appreciate all of you.

“Kelly Rhoden, Principal”

Biden nominates Ketanji Brown Jackson to be first Black woman to sit on Supreme Court

“President Joe Biden has selected Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court, according to a source who has been notified about the decision, setting in motion a historic confirmation process for the first Black woman to sit on the highest court in the nation,” as CNN is reporting.

“Jackson, 51, currently sits on DC’s federal appellate court and had been considered the front-runner for the vacancy since Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement. 

“She received and accepted Biden’s offer in a call Thursday night, a source familiar with the decision told CNN.

“Jackson clerked for Breyer and served as a federal public defender in Washington — an experience that her backers say is fitting, given Biden’s commitment to putting more public defenders on the federal bench. She was also a commissioner on the US Sentencing Commission and served on the federal district court in DC, as an appointee of President Barack Obama, before Biden elevated her to the DC Circuit last year.”

School closure on Sacramento news

“A school in Grass Valley is closed Thursday over a teacher shortage, school officials said. Nevada Union High School posted the announcement on the school’s home page. In a letter to families, Kelly Rhoden, the school’s principal, said: ‘It is our top priority to get students back in the classroom to further their education as soon as possible. We will be working closely with the teachers union and the district administration to find a quick resolution to our current situation. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and support as we work through these challenges.'”