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.

Jet Blue “Mint”: new competition for bigger airlines

“Welcome aboard”

“Isn’t it ironic we’re driving west to fly east,” our son said as we were driving to SFO to fly nonstop to New York City this week. Good point.

I covered the airline industry for years at newspapers in South Florida and at The S.F. Chronicle: Eastern Airlines under Frank Borman, Air Florida, Pan American World Airways and United Airlines, among others.

I also freelanced as a “stringer” for the New York Times during my years at South Florida newspapers, dictating my stories into an answering matchine in the ’80s — decidedly “low tech.” My stories about Eastern and Air Florida also ran in the Chicago Tribune because of the “snowbirds” who flew to Florida to escape the frigid winters.

The airlines were full of drama in the aftermath of airline deregulation in 1978, and it was a great “beat”: Characters like Col. Borman, the storied history of airlines such as Pan Am, labor unrest, layoffs and Chapter 11 bankruptcies galore. The national dailies wanted a reporter who was “on the scene” to supplement their own coverage.

The reason for driving to SFO this week was to try out a new transcontinental service by Jet Blue called “Mint.” I’ve flown Jet Blue on and off for years to the East Coast: It is a classic post deregulation airline: low cost with signature blue “Terra” chips for in-flight “dining.”

"Good Morning Lake Tahoe" iPhone photo transferred to Facebook in real-time on Instagram
“Good Morning Lake Tahoe” iPhone photo transferred to Facebook in real-time on Instagram

Jet Blue Mint is different: It’s a business-class product for about half the cost of what American and United charge. It is aimed at business travelers on the busy and competitive LAX-JFK and SFO-JFK markets. We used credit-card miles for our tickets, and had a great dinner with some friends in San Francisco before departing the next morning.

The “Mint” experience includes faster check-in, lie-flat seats, free in-flight broadband to stream videos (and to work), 15 inch video screens, multiple in-seat power plugs, fresh food from the New York restaurant Saxon + Parole and organic Blue Marble ice cream, an amenity kit with cool products — all on a new Airbus A321 aircraft.

We each sat in a Mint “suite” across from each other. It is best described as a little “house” with every creature comfort imaginable. The lie-flat seats are great for “red eye” flights. Mint also promises “first bag to carousel” at JFK — and ours were the first two off the plane.

It was one of the best premium services on an airline that I can remember, rivaling an upgraded first-class TWA flight that I once took from LAX to London Heathrow where a prime-rib roast was carved from a cart that was rolled down the aisle on a Boeing 747.

Jet Blue’s Mint is redefining the business class flying experience because it is so much more affordable for executives (about $600 each way for a cash fare, compared with a “four-digit” one-way fare in United and American). I visited with the flight attendants who were happy with the service. They enjoyed their jobs.

Jet Blue’s stock price has been receiving some ratings upgrades recently. The coach experience includes redesigned cabins, with improve lighting, more “living space,” wi-fi, a new entertainment system and in-seat power. Like Southwest, Jet Blue is going to start charging for checked bags.

We mostly fly Southwest, or Delta or United out of Sacramento or Reno for long-haul flights, so the Jet Blue Mint flight was a treat. It won’t come to Sacramento for a long time because the market is so relatively small.

Airline deregulation has been a bumpy road: Now airlines are benefiting from low jet fuel prices and “a la cart” pricing for extras that were once taken for granted. But the best part is the range of choices and competition: truly something for everybody.

Scoop: Reinette Senum is 2014 Elza Kilroy Award recipient

reinette-senum-8-28-14Former mayor and longtime Nevada City community leader Reinette Senum has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Elza Kilroy Award for outstanding community service, Sierra Foothills Report has learned.

The Nevada City Chamber of Commerce presents the prestigious Kilroy award annually to a citizen whose efforts help make Nevada City a better community.

The Chamber’s Board of Directors selected Reinette for the award to honor her dedication and support of Nevada City.

Chamber Executive Director Cathy Whittlesey and, of course, Reinette, confirmed this “scoop.” “Reinette did win, and she is so pleased,” Whittlesey told me today. “She fits so well. She makes it happen, and it comes from her heart.” Reinette also was excited.

An official press release is forthcoming. I’m excited about this, just as I was excited to see another young adult, Paralympic Gold Medalist Evan Strong, named as the Grand Marshal in the Fourth of July parade, which you also read here first. Some pioneering young adults are helping to reshape our community, as I’ve written before.

Previous winners of the Elza Kilroy Award have included David Painter, co-owner of SPD Markets; Duane Strawser, owner of Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop; historian Ed Tyson; former Mayor Steve Cottrell; longtime city engineer Bill Falconi; retired City Manager Beryl Robinson and Whittlesey, among many others.

The award will be presented at the Chamber of Commerce’s 113th Annual Installation and Awards Dinner on January 31th at the Miners Foundry. The Kilroy Award is one of the several annual awards presented by the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce.

Reinette is a 1984 Nevada Union High School graduate who went on to travel widely, visiting some 50 countries, and to become the first women to walk and ski solo across Alaska. She studied film in Southern California before returning to Nevada City in 2004.
She co-founded the Alliance for a Post Petroleum Local Economy (APPLE) and Power Up-NC before being elected to a four-year term on the City Council in 2008. She served as mayor in 2010.

Reinette is a co-founder and former manager of the Nevada City Farmers Market and advocate of the Commercial Street Boardwalk, its acoustic Thursdays and Farm to Table events. She also is the winner of the 2014 Col. William H. “Bill” Lambert award.

The prestigious Lambert Award award is presented annually by the Famous Marching Presidents of Nevada City to recognize outstanding contributions to Nevada City and the Nevada City way of life. It is named in honor of the late Col. William H. Lambert, founder of Nevada City’s annual Constitution Day Parade

The Kilroy award was established in 1969.

“Elza Kilroy worked for the Nevada City Post Office for 32 years,” according to Ancestry.com. “He was greatly interested in Nevada City affairs and worked tirelessly in improving the town. Yearly he sat on the Fourth of July committee and was once a parade grand marshal.

“Kilroy spearheaded the effort to raise money to restore the old Nevada City Theatre and was on the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital board of directors. His wife, Luvia, taught school for 32 years at Nevada City Elementary.

“A large cross on Drummond Street in Nevada City, lighted every Christmas, was erected by Elza Kilroy in 1932. It is still illuminated each year at holiday time.

“Elza Kilroy put in so much of his time and energy to make Nevada City and Nevada County a better place that the Elza Kilroy Award would eventually be established. It is given each year by the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce to a person who exhibits outstanding community service. Elza died in 1981, as full of honors and as sorely missed by the community he served as had been his father.”

A way to move forward on the Sierra’s toughest issues

“As the 2014 election season came to a close many of us were left reflecting on our divisive political system. How did we come to a point where even the most straightforward of questions becomes politicized? With so many looming issues, from climate change, to the spread of disease, to international military conflicts, (don’t think we’ve missed the connection between them!) how have we become so paralyzed?,” writes Brittany Todd, the communications manager of Sierra Business Council on the SBC blog.

“At Peak Innovation last month, a common theme arose. SBC’s 20th Anniversary Conference became a lesson in ‘coming to the table,’ in bringing together people with differing opinions and objectives and finding common ground.

“Acclaimed citizen writer Terry Tempest Williams spoke in length about the strategy during Peak Innovation’s opening night. She gave anecdotes from the gatherings she’s held, coined, ‘Difficult Dinners,’ where thought leaders, divided by background, opinion, political leanings and more, are brought together to share a meal, as well as the societal etiquette that such a social contract demands.

“NY Times Bestselling Author and Co-host of CNN’s Crossfire Van Jones closed Peak Innovation with a similar message. Jones called for us to accept our common ground, or come to the table, and listen. Through listening we can find shared priorities, the possibility of cooperation, and ways in which we may take collaborative action.

“And I didn’t just hear about this simple strategy at Peak Innovation, I saw it in action. I won’t name those who were at the table, but following the Vision Awards Ceremony I found myself in deep conversation with a county supervisor, the head of a conservation group, and a fellow SBC staff member, discussing whether there’s any value in taking local action on climate change when the global picture seems so grim.

“And that’s what it all comes down to. If we can all come to the table and recognize the common ground, the humanity, that represents each of us regardless of opinions, then we can have a real conversation, one where we listen to each other and come to understand how our opinions were formed. Perhaps then we can reach real compromise and start moving forward on the many issues that our world is facing.”

The rest of the article is here.

Nevada City Council nixes year-round lighting — forgets that Commercial is the “new” Broad Street

996592_10201194555200390_1676370434_n-300x224A majority of the people speaking at last night’s Nevada City Council meeting were in favor of year-round string-lights in downtown. They included the small business owners who are “economic engines” in the downtown, creating jobs and drawing locals and visitors.

Without the lights, it is too just too dark downtown for businesses and their patrons, they kept saying. Nevada City’s street lights are gas lamps. The pro-lighting advocates included popular downtown businesses such as Treats and Matteo’s Public.

But the Council — reflecting a Laurie Oberholtzer political mindset that has long gripped the city — said “no,” you can only have the string-lights between November 15 and January 15.  This included two council members, Jennifer Ray and Terry Anderson, who effectively act as Laurie O.’s “proxy” on the council.

This time the vote was 4-1, with Evans Phelps the lone dissent.  Evans also objected to the Council’s decision to reject a privately funded trail at Sugarloaf and ran for City Council. The Sugarloaf decision left me shaking my head, too, as I discussed it with Tom Mooers of Sierra Watch one afternoon while we were both in town — he with his dog, and me with our magazines.

Ray, Anderson, Duane Strawser and Robert Bergman all voted for the lighting restrictions. Compliance will be voluntary, however.

On Facebook, Reinette Senum was critical of Laurie O. “Let’s talk about the fact that you are the one behind the anti-boardwalk campaign and won’t let it rest, Laurie,” Reinette wrote. “That’s why you went after the terrazzo lights, because, god forbid, it actually was good for Commercial Street and that damn boardwalk.”

To be sure, Laurie O. has been good for the city in some respects, honoring the need to maintain its historic character, as stated here before.

But the rigidity has also been polarizing and unrealistic. And a good example was the outcome last night.

We get around to a lot of towns in our business — from Truckee, to Tahoe City, to Old Town Auburn, to Auburn, to Loomis, to Lincoln and to Grass Valley. Most of them are being revitalized with new businesses and energetic entrepreneurs.

Comparatively speaking, Nevada City has too many vacant buildings, particularly on Broad Street. In fact, there’s no restaurant anymore on upper Broad Street, with the closures and continued vacancies of Las Katarinas, Cirino’s and Citronee. A worthy addition has been the Szabo tasting room, however.

Commercial St. is the “new” Broad St.

I would argue much of the action has shifted to Commercial St., with Matteo’s, Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co., the Boardwalk and stalwarts such as J.J. Jacksons, Ikes Quarter Cafe and Sopa Thai.

Reinette Senum has been a force in bringing new vibrancy to Commercial Street, thanks to the Nevada City Farmers Market (which the “old guard” did not think of), and — yes — the Boardwalk. Reinette also was a major force in getting Three Forks to open.

The First Friday Artwalk is a wonderful event, bringing locals and visitors alike to town. It features the Boardwalk, which also is home to the annual farm-to-table dinner and live music weekly.

Nevada City needs some downtown business owners on the City Council. There was apathy in the last election, much of it from dissatisfaction with the “old guard’s” lock on city politics. But Evan Phelps has helped change that, though she was a lone voice last night.

We need to celebrate the innovations in Nevada City and the innovators, not live in the past. It’s the right thing to do, but Nevada City also faces too much competition from neighboring foothill towns. It’s living on a reputation from the past, a dangerous economic dilemma.

(Photo: Reinette Senum’s Facebook page)

TV pilot called “Grass Valley” on “world of medical marijuana growers” is in the works

Heather Donahue (Credit: Getty)

“Talent is currently being cast for the television pilot ‘Grass Valley,'” according to casting news for Backstage.com, a long-established, popular publication where actors go to find casting information. The producers include Heather Donahue, actress of the Blair Witch Project and author of a book called “Grow Girl.” (Here’s a People magazine article about Heather).

“‘Grass Valley’ is a half hour, single-cam pilot that takes a look at the world of medical marijuana growers.

“Four lead roles and one supporting role are being cast for this paid production. Additionally, this is a great opportunity for actors anywhere (including L.A.), as travel expenses will be provided. Submissions are being sought worldwide.

“For more details, check out the casting notice for “Grass Valley” here, and be sure to check out the rest of our Los Angeles audition listings!”

Here are the details:

‘Grass Valley’

Casting notice expires: November 14, 2014

Grass Valley Productions
Matt Herman and Heather Donahue (author of “Growgirl,” actress of the “Blair Witch Project,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Taken”), writers.

Casting “Grass Valley,” a half hour, single cam presentation pilot that takes a look at the world of medical marijuana growers. Stacks of Franklins and pint sized mimosas, baby mamas and sheriffs, the weed world is flush with cash, sort of illegal, devoid of sense, and overripe for comedy.

Rehearses and shoots Fall 2014 in Grass Valley, CA.

Pays $100/day. Travel and expenses covered.

SEEKING TALENT Select a role below for more information and submission instructions.
Carly (Lead): Female, 25-33, All Ethnicities
single mother of two who is smarter than she pretends to be. Mark’s friend with bennies and the object of Pete’s obsessive affections. Works… more

Pete (Lead): Male, 30-35, All Ethnicities
short. If he were in a comic he would have a !@#^)*& in a thought bubble over his head. He’s really smart, but has the worst luck in the wor… more

Leon (Lead): Male, 28-35, All Ethnicities
spirit baller whose face gives up nothing but stubble. Lean guy with a smooth way about him. A meditator, ladykiller, and an incredibly gift… more

Mark (Lead): Male, 30-40, Caucasian
Jewish, skaterboy hooligan from SoCal who still looks like both of those things, even as he approaches middle age. Has a daughter age 8 and … more

Jaime (Supporting): Male, 18-34, All Ethnicities
Leon’s live-in assistant. Sort of like Anthony Hopkins in that movie where he played a butler, except he’s also a fabulous gay burner. He ma… more

Seeking submissions nationwide/worldwide Sign up or Log In to apply.
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