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Love Letters to California – The New York Times

The state might be drought-stricken, fire-ridden and wildly expensive, but our readers love it all the same.

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It’s been a long week, so this morning I’m offering a little serotonin boost to carry us into the weekend.

Last month, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I asked you to submit love letters to your corner of California. You emailed me dozens of charming tributes to Santa Cruz, Aliso Viejo, Glendale, Sausalito and more.

I was able to publish only a handful, but today I’m back with another round. Your odes are heartfelt and goofy and, frankly, they prove that love really can be blind. Enjoy.

“When I moved to Long Beach from Philadelphia more than a decade ago, I thought SoCal would never feel like home. I missed the sense of history and the distinct seasons that characterize Philly. Stuck in traffic on the 405, I even missed SEPTA. Over the years, however, I have come to appreciate much about Long Beach — especially the birds. Most mornings, my son and I wake up to a cacophony of wild parrots that frequent the tall palm trees near our house. Spotting the pair of peacocks that wander around our neighborhood is a favorite pastime. And I find true joy in watching the hummingbirds hover outside our dining room windows while I work from home these days.” — Gwen Shaffer, Long Beach

“‘Why do you stay there?’

Because I was born here 10 days after Loma Prieta.

My dad poured detergent soap in the fountain by the city limits as a kid.
My mother’s mother sighed with delight when she first visited — San Francisco was the closest city in America to her hometown.

Here, my great-grandfather sold suits in ways that were maybe a little sketchy.
Here, I ran into my dad on BART and we did the N.Y.T. crossword together.
Here, I stood and fought eviction and its violence.

And here, I see the ghosts of so much of my family gone, but their presence remains.
Here is home.

Where a mutt and a refugee’s daughter who identifies as nothing else identifies as San Francisco’s own.” — Sarah Hartman, San Francisco

“I LOVE the seasons in San Diego. Yes, the seasons. Being a native, I grew up hearing the transplant residents commiserating, ‘There are no seasons here!’ as they stood in their driveways, happily donning sunglasses and short sleeves.

They’re missing it, I’d think. The changing shadows, the subtle and beautiful shifts in the Chinese oak trees, the brilliant and changing hues in the morning and evening skies, the homey smell of wet neighborhood streets, the ebb and flow of the scents of desert herbs … and so much more.” — Sylvia Padilla Sullivan, San Diego

“When I moved from Ohio to Sacramento in 1976, California was suffering from a serious drought that I was not aware of at first. I marveled at day after day of sunshine and blue sky … even into winter! I thought I had moved to Camelot! And now, after all these years and more drought and forest fires, I still think of California as my Camelot.” — Mary Kay Goodley, Sacramento

“I’m a Bay Area girl through and through and every part of my life has been indelibly shaped by the long-term love and commitment this Golden State and I have shared. My youngest daughter and I were both born at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View. My closest friends are the very same friends from Kennedy Jr. High, Monta Vista High (go Matadors!), and my college days at U.C. Berkeley. I met the love of my life here (he went to Stanford and the rivalry is real), got married in an epic Indian wedding for the ages here, and our two girls were born here. My parents live here, my bestest friends live here, and my work for over two decades in the nonprofit/education sector has taken place here. Literally and figuratively, California and my heart are inextricably entwined.

And here’s what I know to be true — when you can go for walks outside every day, when you can cheer on the incredible sports teams that we are proud to call our own, when during a pandemic you can easily see your loved ones outside and go for hikes amid stunning landscapes and eat delicious meals at incredible restaurants outside on a winter’s night … if there is a heaven on earth, it is the Bay Area, and I’m so thankful to have known and to be loved by it.” — Aditi Goel, Los Altos

For more:
In the mood for romance? Read the latest from Modern Love.

Does the songwriter of “I Love L.A.” actually love L.A.?

What songs best capture the spirit of the Golden State?

Once full of hope, Oakland cannabis sellers face a harsh reality.

Ride share fuel costs: A rise in gas prices has made it difficult for many Uber and Lyft drivers to justify the work. One San Francisco-area driver said he was barely breaking even.

Plea to Putin: Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recorded a video directed at Russian citizens telling their president, Vladimir Putin, to end the war on Ukraine. Schwarzenegger is among just 22 accounts Putin follows on Twitter.

Drought check: Drought conditions are predicted to continue across more than half of the continental United States through at least June, with most of California returning to “severe” or “extreme” drought status.

Transgender youth refuge: State lawmakers plan to introduce legislation that could make California a legal refuge for displaced transgender children, The Associated Press reports.
Abortion legislation: California lawmakers on Thursday voted to make abortions much cheaper for people on private health insurance plans, The Associated Press reports.


Police video released: A video from two years ago depicts police officers kneeling on the back of a man who was pronounced dead hours later. The man, Edward Bronstein, yelled, “I can’t breathe,” in the footage.

Mask mandate poll: More than half of Los Angeles Unified teachers want to continue the district’s indoor mask mandate, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Basketball: The N.B.A. may soon get its first Orthodox Jewish player, and he’s from Los Angeles, The LAist reports.

Middle school crash: Eight adults were injured when a car smashed into a Perris middle school on Wednesday, The Associated Press reports.

U.C.L.A. housing: Two new apartment buildings will make Los Angeles the first U.C. campus to offer four-year housing, The Los Angeles Times reports.


Abortion politics: Reuters takes us inside the struggle to open an abortion clinic in Visalia — and what it says about America’s complicated and emotional politics of abortion.


New reservoir: A plan to build a giant reservoir in Colusa County got a huge boost when the federal government signaled its intent to loan the project nearly $2.2 billion, The Associated Press reports.

San Francisco recall: A new poll finds that 68 percent of voters support recalling District Attorney Chesa Boudin of San Francisco, SFGate reports.

Ukraine: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine hits close to home for the people of San Francisco’s Little Russia, The San Francisco Examiner reports.

Bear theft: A man who took two bear cubs from their den in Shasta County pleaded guilty to possession of a prohibited species, The Associated Press reports.

Court appointee: The Senate on Thursday confirmed Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley as a federal judge in San Francisco, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Spicy green garlic chicken soup.

Today’s tip comes from Luz Consuelo Triana-Echeverría, who lives in Minnesota.
“My favorite place to visit in California is Palm Springs during February or March, when it’s still very cold in Minnesota. My boyfriend used to go every year but now that he passed, I still go by myself. We made it a tradition to stay at a hotel with a nice pool where not surprisingly, we meet many Canadians and Minnesotans trying to beat the cold.

One nice trip is to take the Aerial Tramway, where you can appreciate the Chino Canyon as you arrive to the San Jacinto Peak and have lunch at the nice restaurant on top of the mountain. Another day, I drive through Chino, where I always stop at a fig plantation and buy figs for the rest of the year.

On another day, I cannot help but drive through Joshua Tree National Park, where if I’m lucky to be there during the perfect week, my sight is embellished by the presence of wildflowers everywhere. But the most amazing place in Palm Springs is the oasis of California Palms on the San Andreas fault lines. When I’m driving through the desert, it’s mesmerizing to see a green area far away. As I get closer, that greenery starts becoming a reality, but once I’m right there, the incredible width and length of the palms are just jaw dropping. Because who would expect to find dense and luxuriant palm trees in the middle of the desert?”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
A new book about the many constellations of communities in the Southern California desert.
After a major fire swept through Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest six months ago, the famous grove has been either closed or open to visitors on a limited basis.

But park officials recently announced that the Giant Forest — home to five of the largest sequoias on the planet — is once again open seven days a week, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

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Russell Wilson quarterback coach Jake Heaps joins Broncos QB in Denver

PARKER, Colo. – On Thursday morning, Jake Heaps spent four hours on the radio airwaves in Seattle, wrapping up his final day as the co-host of a mid-day sports show.
Less than 24 hours later, he found himself walking between fields among roughly 500 campers at Colorado’s Chaparral High School, in the market he’ll be building the next phase of his career and life in.   
Heaps hopped on a plane to get to the greater Denver area for the first of what will be many Russell Wilson Passing Academy camps, having worked with Wilson, the Broncos’ new star quarterback, for the past five years.
Heaps, a Washington native who played quarterback for BYU, Kansas and Miami (Fla.) in college and who spent parts of three offseasons on NFL rosters, will continue to be involved in Wilson’s Passing Academy but also will serve as Wilson’s full-time, private quarterback coach.
“We’ve been doing stuff in the offseason and all that, but with him moving to Denver – for me, my home base was Seattle, so everything was just kind of worked out and it was nice and in sync. But I think to do what we want to accomplish and for Russell, what he wants to accomplish in his career over the next 10 years here in Denver, there’s a lot of things we wanted to do not only for him and his career but for the Denver community from a training aspect and all that,” Heaps told USA TODAY Sports on Friday. “It’s a big change for me personally, but I’m excited to jump two feet in and to work with him super closely and do whatever I can to be at his best.
“That’s what it’s really about.”
More Broncos:Russell Wilson already in touch with Broncos’ future ownership group
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Heaps and Wilson first crossed paths when Heaps spent an offseason on the Seahawks roster and then part of the 2016 campaign on the franchise’s practice squad.
“I was on and off the roster for two years and we really just connected through the work,” Heaps said. “He saw how hard I worked. I tried to beat him to the facility every day and we grew a bond through that. I got a random phone call from (Wilson) asking to fly out and come train him at UCLA and said sure. We’ve been together ever since. It’s been really cool to have that friendship and to have that trust that he has in me and have honest conversations and to evaluate his game and do whatever I can to help him be better. Whether that’s making things that he’s struggled with better or just maintaining what he’s doing.
“He’s one of the best in the world, so it’s not like you’re wholesale trying to change everything every year, it’s just trying to make him 1% better every year and find ways where he can be better and stay sharp and be on top of things.”  
Wilson, of course, is learning a new offense in Denver under first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who has made it clear that the playbook building has been a collaborative effort between the offensive staff and the quarterback.
The system, though, is at least somewhat familiar to Wilson because he played for offensive coordinator Shane Waldron last fall in Seattle after Waldron coached the previous four years with the Los Angeles Rams under head coach Sean McVay. Hackett, meanwhile, spent the past three years with another member of that McVay and Kyle Shanahan coaching tree in Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur.  
“There’s a lot of mental aspects of what you’ve got to work on and make sure (Wilson’s) sharp on the new plays and new aspects of the playbook, testing him and quizzing him and all those things,” Heaps said. … “There’s familiarity there, but it’s been really cool to watch everybody work together to mesh this thing and make everyone comfortable from the coaching staff to Russell to the guys on the team. It’s been really awesome and, honestly, I’m blown away from where they are at this point in the offseason with the install and where everybody’s at.”
Before the offseason program began, Wilson hosted the Broncos’ wide receivers plus center Lloyd Cushenberry at his home in Southern California to get several days’ worth of work in and build chemistry. The quarterback said recently they’ll be reconvening again next month before Denver’s training camp begins July 27.
“We’ll let guys get away. We’ve been going for 2.5 months now, it feels like, so we’ll let the guys get away, spend family time, do whatever they need to do, travel, whatever it is,” Wilson said. “The last couple weeks we’ll really spend some time before we come back. We’ll spend some quality time down in Southern California.”
Wilson, like a few other top-tier quarterbacks, has built an operation around himself that is designed to help him excel despite all the time spent away from the facility. One week, between a Thursday OTA practice and a Tuesday practice, Wilson and his wife Ciara traveled to the Monaco Grand Prix and back. On another off weekend, he flew to Dartmouth College, the alma mater of his late father and several other family members, to give a commencement address. A couple weeks before that, he was at a Seattle Children’s Hospital event on an off-day. 
Joked teammate Melvin Gordon: “When you’re making $30-some million a year, you can private jet around wherever you want. He’s all about football, though, man. He’s locked in. There’s no other way to put it.”  
Wilson, for his part, described the importance of the people around him. 
“Having an amazing team, my performance team comes with me everywhere I go. My assistant helps with everything,” he said last week. “Everybody’s super organized so there’s never wasted space, and I think that’s the key thing. There’s never wasted space.”
Heaps is a full-time member of that team now. He’ll be in California for the offseason training sessions and then back in Denver to help Wilson get ready for the regular season. Simultaneously, he’ll be part of the group that works to build out the RWPA camps, develop more high-end quarterback training opportunities here and continue to broaden the way Wilson’s presence is felt in Denver.
“He wants to be great. He already is great, but what he wants to accomplish over the second half of his career, he wants it to be special and I think he has the ability to do that in Denver,” Heaps said. “This organization has been fantastic from Day One with him and the guys have been fantastic. Obviously, this is the honeymoon phase and everything is great, everything’s special, but I truly believe that they’ve got what it takes to really make some noise and accomplish the goals that they all have.”


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Sis Wins Gold Medal With USA Volleyball at Pan American Cup –

Volleyball 6/12/2022 11:55:00 PM by Rob Anderson
Volleyball 6/12/2022 11:55:00 PM by Rob Anderson
Sis Helps USA Volleyball To Gold Medal Match
USA Volleyball Wins Pool C at Pan American Games
Sis Stars as USA Volleyball’s Under-21 Team Sweeps Canada
Sis Helps USA Volleyball To Sweep in U21 National Team Debut
Sis Named To USA Volleyball’s Under-21 National Team; Will Compete in Mexico

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Sexual, Physical Abuse Allegations Hit Ex-USA Volleyball Coach – The College Post

The former head coach of the University of South Alabama (USA) women’s volleyball team has been hit with sexual harassment allegations and other serious charges. 
Another victim has accused Alexis Meeks-Rydell of physical and psychological abuse, bringing the total number of accusers to nine.
In the new complaint, former USA student-athlete Cassadi Colbert alleged that Meeks-Rydell convened “breakfast clubs” where players would be instructed “to run and do other physical drills” early in the morning until they vomited or passed out from exhaustion. 
According to court documents, the practice caused Colbert extreme stress, anxiety, and distress. Colbert said Meeks-Rydell also behaved inappropriately, engaging in unwanted physical touching, such as forced hugging and pinching students’ buttocks.
The Plaintiffs claim that USA Athletic Director Joel Erdmann and former volleyball assistants Rob Chilcoat and Patricia Gandalfo were aware of the situation but did not intervene. The university declined to comment on the addition of Colbert’s lawsuit.
Rachael DeMarcus and Alexis Silver are former athletes who filed a similar lawsuit last August against Meeks-Rydell. It was later amended to include six other USA alumni. 
The initial complaint said the ex-head coach allegedly enforced “a climate of fear and intimidation” among the team. She would overtrain her players and force them to play or practice through injuries. 
“Plaintiffs’ athletic and academic aspirations were negatively, severely and irreparably impacted, damaged and ruined by the misconduct,” according to the complaint.
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