Sunday, April 26, 2015

Welcome to a new century of air travel, a world of cramped seats, canceled flights, angry passengers and flight attendants caught in the middle of it all

 * … AIR TRAVEL: I got a glimpse at the future of air travel and trust me, it's not pretty. On a flight from Denver to Chicago last week, I boarded a beautiful spanking new United Boeing 737 800/900, richly
trimmed with leather seats and adorned with soft blue lights. The problem: the seats were so cramped only a would-be dwarf king like Peter Dinklage from Game of Thrones could possibly find them the least bit accomodating. A flight attendant told me that United squeezed four to five extra rows of seats into the new version of the aircraft. "Please write United," she told me. "This is going to be a nightmare and we are going to take all the heat."

 * … MORE UNITED: And it doesn't stop there. On the way home, I learned passengers on a United flight from Chicago to Denver suffered a nightmarish indignity. The flight was supposed to leave Chicago at 7:30 a.m. but because of mechanical issues the passengers were loaded and off loaded three different times until the flight was finally canceled at 5:30 p.m., a full 10 hours late. "People were furious," a flight attendant told me. "One guy was throwing F bombs and two families headed to Hawaii for vacation missed all their connections." And once United finally canceled the flight, everyone had to go to customer service to rebook their own flights. Welcome to commerical air travel in the 21st century.

 * … OVERHEARD: A waitress at a coffee shop is overheard telling a customer about some advice she received as a child from her great grand mother. "She always told me that men were like shoes," she said. "You have to find the exact right size. But also, remember that just because you put black polish on a brown shoe,  it will always be a brown shoe." Sounds like good advice to me.

 * … BAD FORM: Since when did spitting in public become acceptable? A middle aged woman told me the story of driving down Chester Avenue when a woman pushing a stroller let out a huge wad right in front of her car as she passed by. Then, later the same day, another woman accompanied by her small children did the exact same thing on Columbus. "In full public I am telling you," she said. "This was no small thing. The wads were so big they were clearly visible from inside my car. It was disgusting."

* … SCAMS: If it's a new day, it must be time for a new telephone scam. Kristin Moore has received more than six calls from a strongly accented woman claiming to be from Delta Air Lines.
"She stated that she was from Delta promoting their new reservation center 'here in Bakersfield '…  They offered me two free round trip tickets within the U.S. I said great, and I was then put through to her supervisor who then went through the whole line … she asked me if I was married I said no (I am married) and then asked me about my significant other. I said I did not have one, so she then told me that they would call back. The free tickets are couples only. I questioned the legitimacy of the call then CLICK. So weird. Not sure what they were going for. The ladies actually got really mad when I challenged them. Delta Air Lines….. Sure!"

  * … JAZZ: And don't forget the 29th annual Bakersfield Jazz Festival is coming up May 8-9 out at the CSUB amphitheather. This is always a terrific two days of jazz that benefits some worthy CSUB scholarships. And trust me: you don't have to be a jazz aficiando to appreciate the talented musicians and singers that will appear on stage.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Former homebebuilder Kyle Carter buys the American Sound Recording Studio to create a Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame, and Rick Kreiser brings more talent to town

 * … HALL OF FAME: Former homebuilder Kyle Carter has purchased the American Sound Recording Studio and is looking at creating a Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame to recognize our area's
rich musical past. Carter, who incidentally is eyeing a run for mayor, puchased the state of the art recording studio recently and promptly initiated a complete renovation that will make it our area's premier venue for showcasing local and out of town artists. His idea: create a facility that will showcase our history while providing venues for shows and local rentals. Carter's vision is shared by his wife Kim McAbee, a singer with Buck Owens who has her own musicial career.

 * … DESERT ROSE BAND: My personal taste in music runs a tad eclectic, and I am not one to pine away for the music of my youth. That said, there is one musician (Chris Hillman) who I will simply not miss when he comes to town. As an original member of the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Souther-Hillman-Furay and now the Desert Rose Band, Hillman was a pioneer in the evolution of country rock, one of the first big-time rock musicians to embrace country and bring the pedal steel guitar, mandolin, banjo and fiddle to mainstream rock. A gifted song writer and vocalist whose melodies will tear at your heart strings, Hillman will bring his band to the newly renovated Bakersfield College indoor theater thanks to Rick Kreiser and his Guitar Masters series. This can't miss acoustic event is this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $33 or $18 for students.

 * … BAKO: Local architect Steve Kieke was in Charlotte, N.C., recenbtly when he spotted a local eatery called Bakersfield East Tacos. "It turns out that it is the newest location of the Bakersfield OTR restaurant in Cincinnati that TBC has reported on previously (can’t recall if it was you or Robert Price. Mayor Hall presented the owners a key to the City in Cincinnati in 2012). They now have five locations; Cincinnati, Columbus, Nashville, Indianapolis and Charlotte. According to the owners, ‘the concept was taken from Bakersfield, Ca., where outlaw country music and Mexican restaurants find a comfortable cohabitation. Bakersfield is a spot where the food is simple, the service is warm and the atmosphere is alive.’ Sounds like us alright. It was even featured in Diners, Drive-ins and Dives last summer; it might have inspired Fieri to come here!.. It’s great to see Bakersfield mentioned in a positive light as opposed to all of those nasty ‘quality of life’ lists we always end up on the wrong end of."

* … SPOTTED: On a friend's social media post: "Just saw a girl driving a pink Smart Car with a Disney Princess license plate. A moment of silence for whatever poor guy ends up dating her."

* … FOODIE: One of my favorite Bakersfield steak houses is KC Steakhouse, an understated eatery with a lot of history and color. This week it is offering some killer deals with coupons in The Californian, including a "buy one and get one free" offer for both lunch and dinner. Check it out.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Texas veterinarian is fired after claiming to have killed a feral cat with a bow and arrow, another successful Mac 'n Cheese Festival and the moth invasion continues

 * … VETERINARIAN: This is one of those stories that makes you cringe, and wonder what makes some people tick. A veterinarian in Brenham, Texas, has been fired after she posted a picture online of herself holding up a dead, orange tabby cat that she claims to have killed with a bow and arrow. It is a
horrific picture and you have to question the sanity of anyone who does this kind of thing. The caption read:  "My first bow kill lol. The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through its head! Vet of the year award… gladly accepted." The local sheriff's department is investigating, but the business booted her out and took her name off its sign.

* … MAC FEST: Shame on you if you missed the second annual Macaroni and Cheese Festival out at Cal State Bakersfield Saturday. More than 2,500 folks showed up to sample mac 'n cheese creations from more than 30 food vendors, ot to mention unlimited amounts of wine and beer and music by Monty Byrom. The winners: Murray Family Farms came away as the crowd choice, followed by last year's champion Cafe Med with Catering Affairs in third place.

 * … MOTHS: The one upside of this invasion of moths is the fun it brings to our cats and dogs. Consider this note from Loretta Pedroza: "I too have never seen so many moths and I have lived here my entire life. There are little ones and some really big ones. At least they are not as bad as the year we had crickets. I can remember sitting in my car at 24th and Oak and hearing them even with my windows up. As far as the moths go my three cats and dog are having lots of fun chasing and trying to catch them. I can't believe how high my cat Abby can jump. Really funny to watch, but I still hope they go away soon. Love your column! Keep up the good work! "

 * … MORE MOTHS: And finally there was this bit of irony from reader Denney Evans: "Our pest control service always leaves the invoice on our doorknob when they finish. This past week my wife snatched it off the door knob and found a bug crawling around on it!  What are we paying for?"
 * … KINDNESS: Here is an example of kindness that I promise will impress you. Arelene Bonner is a senior who lives alone in an apartment complex. On a recent Sunday afternoon, she was attending a show when - unknown to her - two teenagers tried to kick her door in. "The couple upstairs heard the noise and scared them away," she said. "The door was loose so they called the manager and the police and the maitanance man. He came and fixed the door and I got home at 5 p.m. only knew about it because the manager left me a note. On Tuesday the maitanance man put a security door on that was paid for by the couple up stairs, who I hardly knew. I am a senior, living alone and thought this kindness should be shared."

* … CSUB WRESTLING: The folks who raise money to keep the CSUB wrestling program going - the Coyote Club - have two upcoming events worthy of our support. On Tuesday, May 5, "An Evening with Stephen Neal" is coming up at Stockdale Country Club. For information on sponsorships, tickets or live or silent auction items call Janis Varner at (661) 979-7136. Later on May 23, a Saturday, the 21st Annual Coyote Club/Stephen Neal golf tournament will be held at Rio Bravo Country Club.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

So what makes you happy? A British study finds it is not wealth but rather the small things in life that we often take for granted. And more on those pesky moths that have invaded Bakersfield

* …. HAPPINESS: I loved the recent British healthcare study on the sources of true happiness. As expected, it wasn't wealth or a fast car that makes us happy, but rather the small things. The company
surveyed more than 2,000 people and found the top six things that trigger happiness: sleeping in a freshly-made bed; feeling the sun on your face; people saying "thank you" or a random act of kindness from a stranger; finding money in unexpected places; having time to yourself and laughing so hard it hurts. Here are a few items I would add: the soft purr of a cat or a face lick from your dog, dinner with friends, or those rare occasions when your children call out of the blue just to say hello.

* … MOTHS: Well, my little item on moths triggered a lot of response, and it appears there isn't a neighborhood in town that isn't battling an invasion of the pesky pests. "I am almost afraid to go outside," said Nancy Burciaga, "and I carry a fly swatter with me." And Leslie Duplan, who lives in Bear Valley Springs, added this: "I've had at least 30 in the house over a two week period. Went to my garage door yesterday and found another 12 or so just lying there. Took a broom to sweep them out and lo and behold most started to fly away… thought they were dead. Thankfully they don't seem
to cause any problems, just a nuisance."

 * … MORE MOTHS: I spoke with Cesar Diaz, owner of Best Pest control, who told me all this is likely a combination of the drought and a mild winter. "Moths don't do well in extreme cold and we had a really mild winter, so we are paying for that now," he said. In addition to moths, Diaz said there has been an explosion of other pests as well (ticks, fleas etc) for the same reasons. Diaz said the type of moth he has been seeing is called the 'willow moth.'

 * … BAD FORM: So what is the new protocal for draining swimming pools in this drought? Cathie Morris had this view: "If you have ever witnessed a swimming pool being drained into a gutter, you can visualize the amount of water I have seen coming from a neighbor’s yard on several consecutive mornings. I initially assumed that the neighbor didn’t know about the massive amount of sprinkler runoff because I was out walking before dawn when this occurred. That afternoon, I nicely let the resident know, as I felt she were not aware of the issue. I was thanked, and curtly told that she would check on it. Since the flow of gutter water has continued since then, it is obvious that either the residents are not aware of our water crisis or that they just don’t care. Either way, it’s very frustrating and the waste is disgusting, if not criminal."

 * … SCAMS: The number of telephone scams around the deadline for income taxes is off the charts, so my advice is: ignore them. This note from reader Bill Upshaw is typical: "I was told that the U.S. Treasury would take action against me if I did not return their call. I would have to face a federal magistrate to answer the charges. The call was a recording with a foreign accent. The area code was 573, which is in Missouri."

 * … NUN RUN: And finally, I am happy to help the good people over at the Our Lady of Guadalupe School publicize their annual Nun Run and Family Picnic which will be held next Saturday, April 25, at the school's new site at 4600 East Brundage Lane. The run (or walk) starts at 10 a.m. and the picnic an hour later. Call the school for more details, (661) 323-6059.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Washington Post debunks more scare tactics trying to link hyrdraulic fracturing with California's drought, and get readty for the second annual Macaroni and Cheese Festival this Saturday at Cal State Bakersfield

 * … FRACKING: The latest attempt to mislead the public on hydraulic fracturing is tied to the California drought. The idea - that banning fracking would help deal with the drought - is a spurious notion at best, according to a report in The Washington Post. Said the Post: "Whatever you might think about fracking — and there is ample room for disagreement on this complex issue — it is pretty hard to argue that the amount of
water that the oil and gas technology uses in California reaches a scale sufficient to count as a major drought contributor. Rather, in the grand context of California’s water woes, the numbers appear small indeed." Apparently fracking in California consumes 70 millin gallons of water a year, a mere drop in the bucket when NASA estimates it would take 11 trillion gallons to end the drought. "Fracking accounts for 0.00062 percent (or 0.0000062) of the state’s annual freshwater withdrawals," the Post said. "A lot of water? Not in my book. In fact, I thought there was an error – that the figure should have been 70M gallons per day." But the group called Californians Against Fracking has never let the facts get in the way of a good narrative.

 * … MAC N CHEESE: Tickets are still available for the second annual Macaroni and Cheese festival coming up this Saturday. Organizers are promising more food, a greater wine and beer selection, shorter lines and more shade. The event runs from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Cal State Bakersfield amphitheater. There will be 12 wineries represented, craft beer and plenty of restaurants showing off their versions of macaroni and cheese. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased in advance at

 * … MOTHS: Is anyone else facing an explosion of moths in their homes? I can't remember a year when the moth infestation has been as bad as this year.

* … HOT TUBS: Fred Valenzano read about the folks who dump old hot tubs off Round Mountain Road and had this helpful tip. "I posted mine as FREE on Craigslist and had a line of people clamoring to take it away. Talked to a man who said he rehabs and resells them, somewhere in the Taft area. He agreed to come over that afternoon and pick it up. A group of three guys with a small old pickup truck and a handful of 2-inch PVC pipes went into my backyard. They worked like ancient Egyptians to tilt it and roll it across the yard, then tip it up onto the bed of the truck. In 30 minutes I was taking a picture of it sailing down my street. Much easier than dumping it anywhere."

 * … NORTH-SOUTH: And lastly, Gilber Alemao offered this answer to the point at which our city is divided. "To answer your poll, the dividing line is the Stockdale Hwy/Brundage Lane alignment. It is at this location the mailing addresses are at their lowest point increasing northward as well as southward but as South. Such as: Chester Avenue/South Chester Avenue, Union Avenue/South Union Avenue, Real Road/South Real Road, etc."

 * … SCAMS: A new day and a new scam. This from William Black: "Just wanted to let you know that there is a new scam hitting our area. Caller states they are from the Department of Legal Affairs and gave an 949 area code as a call back number.  I was 'informed' that unless I call back (and I should hire an attorney) that legal action would be taken."

Supper time at Hart Park: A heron dines on a local squirrel

 A terrific series of pictures by Californian photographer Felix Adamo …. enjoy.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

California farmers are caught flat footed and on the defensive in the fight over water, almonds become the new bogeyman and no doubt local water agencies will be the next targets

 * … DROUGHT: The long drought and the fight over water has revealed a glaring weakness facing California farmers: as a group they have done a terrible job of explaining the importance
of what they do. Remember when the oil and gas industry was caught flatfooted when the anti-fossil fuel crowd attacked hydraulic fracturing using half-truths and junk science? Well thanks to the drought, our local farmers find themselves in the exact same spot, and the almond crop is the new bogeyman. (And you can bet that the next target will be the alphabet soup of hundreds of local and state water agencies that buy, sell and bank water, a group that up to this point has flown largely under the radar) All these groups - oil, farming and water agencies - would do well to sharpen their messages and get in front of the inevitable second guessing that is coming their way. Do we really want Mother Jones setting the agenda about what crops we can grow, and where? And speaking of inaccuracies, one widely used statistic (that farmers use 80 percent of the state's available water) turns out to be incorrect. In fact, farmers use 41 percent of the available water in the state, and an equal or greater amount goes for environmental purposes like protecting endangered species. Urban sources use just 10 percent of the supply

 * … PRODUCE: And speaking of the Central Valley bread basket, it is true that almonds consume a lot of water but so do many other crops, including broccoli, not to mention the water consumed in beef production. Almond growers, by the way, have reduced their water use per pound of almond production by 33 percent in the past 20 years. And there is this: a recent U.S. Davis report cited "tree crops:" (almonds, pitachios etc) as the perfect high value crop for California. Finally, consider these statistics: 99 percent of all the artichokes and almonds produced in the United States come from California, as does 98 percent of garlic, 96 percent of tomatoes, 96 percent of olives and 92 percent of strawberries, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

 * … GOOD FORM: Erin Kloepper had some praise for one of my favorite eateries in town: "Wanted to share a great experience my husband Matt and I had at Urrichio's last night.
Date nights are few and far between for us, but when we do get to go out on the town, we support our local restaurants. My husband made us a reservation at Urrichio's, and while our experiences there have always been good ones, this particular evening was special. We mentioned to Claire we were on a date night, and she ensured that her staff treated us like royalty.  Delicious food that is fairly priced, and customer service that can't be beat!"

 * … BAD FORM: Here are a few things I spotted while on a bike ride on Round Mountain Road: two discarded sofas, soiled old carpeting, a TV set and yes, yet another huge jacuzzi unceremoniously left on the side of the road.

 * … NORTH HIGH: Here's a memory of those drive-ins from our past from Jim Smith: "Richard, love it when you mention the early days of North High. Best I remember, the name of the drive-in on North Chester was Art De Cews. Famous for its cherry Cokes and burgers and car hops, it was the place to be after school and on weekends."

* … POLL: Jim VanderZwan would like some input on this question: "I need help settling a debate I’ve been having with some of my fellow Bakersfieldians and hoped TBC could help. What would generally be considered the dividing line of north and south Bakersfield: Stockdale Highway/58 or Rosedale Highway/24th Street/178?  Of course I know what the correct answer is, but I would like to get some independent verification."

Friday, April 10, 2015

House Majority Leader McCarthy: The Obama administration fiddles as California's long drought drags on and water allocated for environmental purposes is flushed into the ocean

 House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "The historic drought has been one of the more devastating and frustrating challenges our community Like many natural disasters, the American people have a history of rallying around solutions to help pull a region out of crisis. To achieve the solutions that will prevent this man-made crisis from griping our state in the future, public opinion will play a role, which makes getting the facts straight surrounding the drought so important. 
has faced in some time. And as I said last week following the executive order by Governor Brown to reduce water consumption by 25 percent, our state’s crisis is front and center to millions of Americans from the Mississippi to the Potomac River as they gasp at the sights of fallowed fields and dried up lakes.

 "A popular meme within the mainstream media, Internet blogs, and cable television over the last week was how agriculture in California is such a water hog—using 80 percent of California’s water. However, this leaves out water usage that serves the benefit of fish over people. As the Public Policy Institute of California reports, this is “water in rivers protected as 'wild and scenic' under federal and state laws, water required for maintaining habitat within streams, water that supports wetlands within wildlife preserves, and water needed to maintain water quality for agricultural and urban use." When added to the usage referred above, agriculture’s take drops to 40 percent and environmental usage stands at 30 percent. And as we know, water for agriculture is water for America’s salad bowl.

 "But as we have hit the fourth year of the drought, our farmers, their workers, and consumers of American-made produce and beef have been hit the hardest while the fish, that 30 percent of the water is used to protect, swim carefree throughout the delta. And now, painful reverberations to families has reached urban and suburban communities. In a recent Bakersfield Observed post, Richard Beene highlighted the buried lead in a Los Angeles Times article that “low income households are carrying the heaviest load when it comes to conserving water.”

 "So the very communities that many Democrats claim to be top advocates for will soon face water shortages and or higher bills for their vociferous defense of fish.

  "This imbalance has to stop and that is what the House plans to do with legislation. Unfortunately, the legislative storyline to this point has been Democrats standing in the way of progress. But the state of this crisis transcends traditional battle lines.
 "Far from a common theme in the White House briefing room, the California drought has the White House defending its harmful position. At a press briefing last week, CBS White House correspondent Major Garrett asked press secretary Josh Earnest if, as a result of the crisis, the White House is reconsidering their veto-threat of House legislation. Unsurprisingly, the Earnest deflected.

  "But the brief exchange was instructive as the House continues to work towards legislative solutions. Continuing to stand behind fish as human suffer is an untenable position. And as the truth reins over “facts” that tell half the story, the American people will stand firmly behind the fight our community is in.
 "Congress’s role is critical and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to continue to move our state and country forward with commonsense California water policy.