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Monterey Bay Aquarium announces reopening date

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Call it a golden oppor-tuna-ty for ocean lovers.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of Northern California’s top visitor attractions, will reopen in May, 14 months after it closed due to the COVID pandemic.

The facility draws roughly 2 million visitors a year to Monterey’s Cannery Row to see exhibits of pulsating jellyfish, frolicking sea otters, waddling penguins, and cruising sharks.

The aquarium will reopen to members only for two weeks starting May 1, and then to the general public on Saturday May 15. Admission for members and the general public will be by advance reservation only at the aquarium’s website, www.montereybayaquarium.org

“We are super excited about having people back in the building,” said Julie Packard, the aquarium’s executive director. “It’s not just right to have the building be empty.”

During the pandemic, with no visitors, the aquarium suffered a major financial setback. To offset $55 million in losses over the past year, aquarium managers laid off about 40% of their staff of about 560 people to conserve enough money to continue to properly care for the animals and maintain the facilities.

Continue Reading on The Reporter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elevate Dance Center wins big in regional competition

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Emma Mackley, Aubrey Colvin and Ashley Ede of Elevate Dance Studio perform a tap routine choreographed by Hailey Doyle and set to Christina Grimmie's "Absolutely Final Goodbye" at the Rainbow Dance Competition in Reno, Nevada. The trio won first place in the Rising Stars Duo/Trio category for ages 12 to 14. (Contributed Photo -- Rainbow National Dance Competition)

The past year has not been an easy one for the budding young dancers at Elevate Dance Center, having to shift from Zoom lessons to a hybrid model to back to Zoom to comply with COVID-19 regulations.

But throughout it all, the dancers kept on dancing. It paid off in a big way for them as Elevate Dance Center swept the Rainbow Dance Competition held March 19 to 21 in Reno, Nevada.

Elevate’s 28-member team performed 38 routines and received 32 Platinum awards, six Double Platinum awards, two first-place awards, one second place award, nine top 10 overall awards, the prestigious Al Gilbert Award for excellence in tap dancing, and the highest tap scoring routine for the weekend.

“We were so proud of them,” instructor Jennifer Daugavietis said. “We hadn’t seen a stage in almost two years because (of the COVID restrictions). The last time we had been on a stage was our recital in 2019.”

When the team last prepared for a competition in March 2020, half of the team were in San Mateo and received the call that the county would be implementing its shelter-at-home orders, prompting the competition to be canceled.

Continue Reading on The Reporter

Amazon Is Getting Sued for Failing to Give Warehouse Workers Meal and Rest Breaks

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It’s well documented that some Amazon employees work in gruelingphysically taxing, and unsafe conditions. In fact, a former Amazon warehouse employee in California has sued the company for not allowing its workers to take their full mandated meal or rest breaks, even though it discounts time for the former in their paychecks.

The case, which was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Friday, was filed on behalf of Lovenia Scott, a former logistics specialist that worked at Amazon’s warehouse in Vacaville, California for more than two years. Scott alleges that Amazon did not let her and other employees take their lawfully mandated 30-minute meal breaks in full for every five hours worked or their 10-minute rest breaks for every four hours worked.

Scott’s attorneys are asking the court to certify her case as a class action and to grant a trial by jury. Amazon, meanwhile, has denied any liability in the case in regard to Scott’s claims as an individual and her claims on behalf of a larger class of affected employees.

Continue Reading on Gizmodo

‘It’s just us being neighbors’ | Yeast for Change wants to bridge AAPI communities to others with Filipino food

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VACAVILLE, Calif. — Mark Famularcano, cook and baker with Vacaville non-profit Yeast for Change, really misses potlucks.

“I really enjoy it because it’s kind of like an outlet for me and at the same time, I really like sharing my own creations,” Famularcano said.

In the age of coronavirus, it has been hard to connect with people via food sharing. However, Famularcano is determined to make it happen for his local community, and he is doing it through an edible cultural exchange.

“The reason why we’re doing this initiative is so that we can try to be able to create a bridge to our neighbors, you know, try to ease this tension, and try to be able to communicate with food,” Famularcano said.

The Asian American and Pacific Islander [AAPI] communities in the U.S. have faced difficulties as of late, fighting back against prejudice and hate, especially in the wake of a mass shooting at three Atlanta spas that primarily targeted Asian women. The killings came amid a surge in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans and those of Asian descent across the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic.

Continue Reading on ABC 10

California Thai chicken specialist finds niche with self-order

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When COVID-19 forced The Chicken Hawkers to close its indoor dining back in May, co-founder Deo Suwan decided it was a good time to introduce a self-order kiosk, along with takeout and third-party delivery, to the Vacaville, California store.

Fortunately, his POS provider, Clover, included an option to integrate Applova kiosk software.

“It’s picking up a lot (more) than before we used the kiosk,” Suwan told Kiosk Marketplace in a recent phone interview.

“It’s got the image of the food, and is easy for them to pay,” he said.

Suwan and his partners — Bua Deva and Lui Kancatta — launched The Chicken Hawkers two years ago mainly as a takeout restaurant after operating a more traditional restaurant with a more extensive menu, Thai Canteen, in Davis.

Continue Reading on Kiosk Marketplace

Vacaville Music Therapy is touching young lives

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Music therapist, Brianna McCulloch (left) uses sign language to communicate with Rayna Neff, 13 of Vacaville during a recent session. McCulloch uses the rhythm of the music to help Neff learn words by regulating her speed and to help form syllables.Ê (Joel Rosenbaum -- The Reporter)

Sometimes when 13-year-old Rayna Neff sees her music therapist, Brianna McCulloch, she gets so excited that she can’t get her words out.

Rayna was born with Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome, a rare disease that appears in just one out of 50,000-60,000 people. The syndrome, which prevents the body from making cholesterol, has also caused Rayna to be on the moderate to severe spectrum for autism. Her body cannot make cholesterol.

“It really affects her brain,” said her mom, Nicole Neff. “Her neurons do not fire properly. It causes intellectual disability.”

Rayna is at the developmental level of a toddler. She is so happy when she sees her therapist that the words won’t come. But McCulloch knows how to help.

Continue Reading on The Reporter

Hamilton’s ‘My Shot’ Been Adapted By CA Doctors To Convince People To Get Vaccinated

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The songs of Hamilton have been stuck in our heads since the Broadway musical was made available on Disney+ last summer. The Tony-winning show from Lin-Manuel Miranda has had its second wind of having a huge cultural moment since first debuting on the stage in 2015. It has become the inspiration for a YouTube music number adapted by North California physician Dr. Andrew Liu, who wrote a new version of “My Shot” to educate the public about getting their COVID-19 vaccinations.

The doctor, who practices in Vacaville, California, decided to remix one of the popular big numbers from Hamilton and create a music video to promote the importance of vaccines to make the COVID-19 pandemic a distant memory. He recruited his wife, Dr. Tuong-Vi Ha, and six other local healthcare workers to reimagine “My Shot.”

Physicians… they get the job done. It’s a super impressive video complete with new raps and lyrics to the song from the award-winning musical about Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. They cleverly trade out the metaphorical “shot” of taking a chance with the two literal shots in the arms they hope everyone will decide to make an appointment to get done once it becomes locally available to them. The song switches out “young, scrappy and hungry” for ”down, tired and angry” to describe medical workers’ deposition following a year of treating 124 million cases worldwide and 2.73 million deaths.

Continue Reading on Cinema Blend

Free Krispy Kreme Doughnut For Vaccinated Vacaville Customers

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VACAVILLE, CA — Many have heard health officials tout the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine, but there’s a new sweet deal for those who do get vaccinated. Krispy Kreme is offering a free doughnut to those who have received one or two doses of the vaccine.

Krispy Kreme announced the promotion starting on Monday, March 22. Anyone who has received one or two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine can request one free glazed doughnut. A COVID-19 vaccination record card must be shown to receive the offer.

The offer can be redeemed in the drive-thru or walk-in location but not through online ordering or delivery. A customer can receive one free doughnut per day with no purchase necessary, but there are no limits to how many times you can redeem it. All customers in a group can receive the free doughnut if they show their vaccination card. All U.S. locations are participating in the offer.

Continue Reading on Patch

Doctor rewrites ‘Hamilton’s’ ‘My Shot’ to get word out about COVID-19 vaccines

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A California doctor is trying to make sure that no one misses their shot so he’s rewritten the lyrics to one of the songs from the Tony Award-winning Broadway show “Hamilton.”

Dr. Andrew Liu who practices medicine in Vacaville, California, put his own spin on the song “My Shot,” rewriting it to tout the benefits of getting vaccinated against COVID-19, KVOR reported.

He and other medical professionals, who call themselves Vax in 8, sang and danced to the re-imagined song after he realized how many people were unwilling to get the vaccine, The Los Angeles Times reported.

After Liu had the idea for the song, he then asked others at his hospital not only to help brainstorm ideas, writing the song about four months ago, but also to appear in the production. The final edit was released earlier this month.

Dr. Tony Berger’s son made the animation used to illustrate how the vaccine works.

Continue Reading on Boston 25

5 Bay Area nurseries have the plants you’re looking for — orchids, palms and more

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VACAVILLE, CA - JANUARY 29: Ornaments and plants are displayed for customers at Morningsun Herb Farm in Vacaville, Calif., on Friday, Jan. 29, 2020. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Sure, you can go to your favorite home improvement store and pick up the plants that everyone grows. But if there’s something special —something unique — you just have to have for your garden, nothing compares to a homegrown nursery, and the Bay Area boasts plenty of them.

While it’s true that big box stores, which often offer plants at discounted prices, have driven several family-owned businesses under, the nurseries that survived did so with clever pivots: They expanded their plant selection and focused on specialty plants, such as herbs, orchids, California natives, Asian plants and palms.

These are some of our favorites.

Continue Reading on Mercury News

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