Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame gets ready to open, and local Bako boys Derek Carr and Cody Kessler shine on the gridiron

* ... GUITAR MASTERS: It looks like former homebuilder Kyle Carter and wife Kim McAbee are drawing closer to opening their Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame. I am told the facility, located off Q and 23rd streets, will be a one-of-a-kind venue with over-the-top studios and electronics for shows and other private events. If you want to get a peek, plan on attending Rick Kreiser's Guitar Masters series that will feature the international duo Loren and Mark on Wednesday, Dec. 9. Said Kreiser on the new Hall of Fame: "Studio A will be an even better venue than it was, and with 250 comfy seats it is right in the sweep spot for attracting a lot of the wonderful talent we weren't able to accommodate in the past. On Dec. 29, Guitar Masters will present "Christmas with the Cranktones" as Carl Verheyen brings his band of legendary LA musicians to Studio A to help raise money for the Kern Country Cancer Fund. Carter purchased the old Bakersfield Sound Studio and has put his heart (and pocketbook) into creating this new addition to our community.

 * ... FOOTBALL: It was great to see two local Bakersfield products - Cody Kessler and Derek Carr - have good days on the gridiron this weekend. Kessler, who went to Centennial High, led the USC Trojans to a 40-21 victory over cross town rival UCLA, passing for two touchdowns and running for a third. Meanwhile Carr, who went to Bakersfield Christian and later Fresno State, led the Oakland Raiders to a come from behind 24-21 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

 * ... BAD FORM: A pox on whoever decided to leave a McDonald's bag, cups and trash next to the Bank of America drive-through teller on 17 Street downtown. Just how hard is it to find a trash bin anyway?

 * ... TRASH: And speaking of trash, the homeless encampments along the bike path between Beach Park and Manor Street have expanded significantly in recent months. But as one ranking officer at Bakersfield Police Department told me: "If we sweep them out, they head to the downtown neighborhoods and then we get complaints there. There is no easy solution."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "When a woman says, 'Do whatever you want,' by NO means should you do whatever you want."

 * ... KUKA'S: It looks like Kuka's Folk Arts, the cheery little boutique located downtown, is closing after 10 years in business. Owner Ruth Darrington slashed prices for Small Business Saturday and those discounts will continue until the end of the year.

 * ... ACHIEVER: Congratulations to Kern County native Dr. Stephen Pandol, who recently received a Lifetime Achievement award at the American Pancreatic Association's annual meeting in San Diego.  Pandol, who grew up in Delano and is the son of Winnie and the late farming giant Jack Pandol, is the Director of Basic and Translational Pancreas Research in the Gastroenterology Department at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Pandol, a gastroenterologist, is a noted expert in pancreatic cellular physiology and mechanism of the disease.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Congressman Kevin McCarthy extends his Thanksgiving weekend wish

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority leader, extends his Thanksgiving weekend wishes.

 "As our son Connor comes into town from college this week, Judy and I are grateful to have our family together for Thanksgiving. Families and friends around our community will be doing the same as they gather for Thanksgiving dinner reflecting on the blessings they have in their everyday lives. We all will be enjoying family traditions whether it is a special recipe for dinner, a touch football game at the park, or just simply catching up with family visiting from afar.

 "As we count our many blessings, let us remember to help those who are less fortunate as that is the true Thanksgiving spirit. We have such a generous and giving community, and I know that many of our friends and neighbors will be spending time serving others.
 "And of course let us also remember to be thankful for the brave men and women in our military who are away from their families defending the freedoms we enjoy. Our nation throughout our history has been blessed with individuals who serve and sacrifice for all of us and we are a grateful community.
 "Judy and I and our entire family want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving thanks to all the guardian angles who steer and support us and another Thanksgiving Day Pie Run goes down at Hart Park

 * ... GIVING THANKS: How do you define happiness, and how often do you give thanks to the people in your life who bring a smile to your face? If you are like me, I have always believed that
happiness is a personal choice, so I don't spend a lot of time longing to live on the coast or in a sexier zip code. Kern County is home, and it would be unfortunate to go about life believing that geography or a change of scenery are the keys to happiness. So here's to all the people in my life, all you guardian angels (and you know who you are), who make Bakersfield such a special place to call home.

 * ... PIE RUN: I spent Thanksgiving morning in the hills overlooking Hart Park watching the sun come up, a speculator scene framed by a vibrant canvas of yellows and reds from the forest of trees below. I was among the 300 or so folks who attended the annual Pie Run, which coordinator John Rous says is the best deal in town. Said Rous: "There is no course, really no beginning and no end, no cost and no rules. Just run or walk at your own pace." Rous ran through 300 cups of coffee in an hour as runners feasted on several dozen pies, cakes, doughnuts, muffins and cookies. (photo courtesty of Margaret Scrivano Patteson)

* ... TRAFFIC DEATHS: The number of deaths from traffic accidents in the United States has spiked sharply this year, and experts believe smartphones may be a big cause of it. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says traffic deaths jumped more than 8 percent the first half of this year, a big increase after leveling off in recent years. Should we be surprised by this? Probably not, considering the number of people I see in traffic glancing down on their cell phones and they weave across the road.

 * ... DROUGHT: Keep your eye on a new $1 billion desalination plan that is opening next month in Carlsbad, a project expected to supply up to 10 percent of San Diego County's water supply. I have often wondered why California, in the midst of a record drought, is not investing more in these types of facilities. Experts often say they don't pencil out economically, but the Carlsbad facility is a private venture so someone is betting that desalination is a good bet.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I’m amazing in bed. I have the ability to stay there all day."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to the folks over at the CARE Foundation which just distributed $36,125 in grants from money raised through Village Fest. Among those organizations that received grants were Optimal Hospice Foundation, CASA of Kern County, Henrietta Weill Institute, Kern Partnership for Children and Families, Kelly's Therapeutic Riders, League of Dreams, Bakersfield Police Activities League, and the Boys and Girls Club of Kern County.

 * ... MORE GOOD FORM: Deanna Haulman sends this shoutout to some folks who volunteered to clean up one of our parks: "Last Saturday it was nice to see employees from the local Coke company cleaning up at Hart Park  Love seeing local companies taking time out of their weekend to help the community."

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Celebrating all our young adults who come home during the Thanksgiving holidays, Kiyoshi Tomono is leaving KGET TV for a career in health care, and remembering the giant personality of Norm Hoffman

* ... THANKSGIVING: One of the great joys of the holidays is reconnecting with some of the young men and women who moved away after college but always return home for the holidays. You will see them this weekend at Luigi's, Woolgrowers, Pyrenees and all the haunts that beckon the
young home. I had a chance to catch up with four of them at The Padre the other day and left thinking: a few years ago these knuckleheads were driving their parents nuts in high school, and yet today they are holding down great jobs, buying homes and seemingly on top of the world.

* ... KIYOSHI: KGET TV is losing one of its most popular anchors with the announcement by Kiyoshi Tomono that he is leaving to pursue other interests. The long-time morning co-anchor said only he was leaving the station to go into the health care field, but he did say he was staying in town. Tomono is widely recognized as one of the smartest of the local TV anchors and has worked at the station since March 2004. With two young children, he no doubt will enjoy a new career that doesn't entail a 2 a.m. wakeup call.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "People who say, 'I’ve got your back' are usually looking for the best place to stick the knife."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Here is a note from Wofford Heights residents Dave and Helen Escobedo that is worth sharing in this holiday season. "My wife and I had eye doctor appointments in Bakersfield yesterday morning. After our visit to the doctor we stopped at the Panda restaurant on Rosedale for lunch before our drive back up the canyon for home. As we stood in line a young man behind me asked if I had served in the Navy (he saw my Navy hat( and I said yes I had been in the Navy a long time ago. (I am 78 yrs old, my wife is 74). When it came time to pay for our food this young man stepped forward and paid our bill for us. He would not take no when I said he didn't have to do that. He said that he wanted to. What a wonderful surprise and a beautiful thing for him to do. He brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. His name is Steven. Thank you Steven, whatever discomfort I may have from my service to my country, you and other young people like you makes it all worthwhile. God Bless you and thank you again."

 * ... CALM: I took a bike ride out to Lake Ming this weekend and noticed that the annual Holiday Lights event at CALM is about to open. This Bakersfield family tradition features over three million lights designed by Josh Barnett, and all proceeds benefit CALM. The show opens Nov. 27 and runs through Jan. 2, 2016. IT will be open every day except Christmas from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

 * ... NORM HOFFMAN: And speaking of cycling, I was headed up Fairfax Drive with my friend Scott Rosenlieb the other day when we passed the spot where former Bakersfield College health professor Norm Hoffman was struck and killed by a car on March 1, 2001. Scott and I shared a few laughs recalling Norm, a physical specimen with a huge personality and over-the-top charm. When he was hit by an inattentive driver, Norm was 59 years old and training for the U.S. Masters National Cycling Championship. At the exact spot where he was hit, someone painted the ancient Chinese symbol for yin and yang, a fitting tribute. The paint is faded, but not the memory of Norm Hoffman.

 * ... CHEZ NOEL: Another seasonal event of a different slant is the 28th Annual Chez Noel holiday home tour set fro Dec. 4-5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ticket prices are $40 and all the proceeds go to benefit the good folks over at the Assistance League of Bakersfield. Pick up tickets at the Bargain Box Thrift Store on Q Street, Kern Travel, Christine's, Inspire Salon and Span, SugarDaddy's or Victoria's at the Marketplace.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

This winter's El Nino will be the strongest on record, and get ready for the annual Thanksgiving Pie Run out at Hart Park

* ... PIE RUN: Thanksgiving is this week, and I can't decide what I enjoy more: the traditional dinner with friends or the annual Pie Run that kicks off the holiday at 6 a.m. at Hart Park. If you are new to town, this is a signature Bakersfield 'can't miss' event. All you need is the discipline to get up before dawn, drive to Hart Park and join a couple hundred other folks to either walk or run the course through Hart Park. Bring your dogs, some warm mittens, your running shoes and don't forget some breakfast food for the pot luck.
 John Rous, one of the founders of this annual event, reminds me that all of the leftover food goes to the homeless shelter. This is also the event that drew the wrath of the air pollution police a few years ago because - heaven forbid! - Rous had the chutzpah to light a small bonfire to warm the runners. (The air pollution control district later relented after Rous agreed to convert the bonfire into a barbecue pit, the only way a fire would be permitted.) That aside, the event goes on. "This is not just for runners," he said. "There are mothers pushing infants in strollers, walkers, bicyclists, all enjoying the morning." Make sure you arrive before Rous stands on a picnic table and kicks off the event precisely at 6 a.m.

 * ... EL NINO: This will be a wet week in Kern County, thanks to an El Nino that scientists say will definitely be the most powerful on record. The real question is what parts of California will get the rain, and how it will affect the drought? What we need is snow - not rain - in the Sierras so the reservoirs will will be gradually restored over time. And unfortunately, it looks like Central and Southern California will get more precipitation than Northern California. Still, this promises to be a wet winter, a bit colder, and that is something to welcome.

 * ... BABY NAMES: If you want a peak into how our world has changed, consider the top ten baby names popular in the decade of the 1970s. Here they are, in descending order: Kimberly, James, Michelle, David, Melissa, Jason, Amy, Christopher, Jennifer and Michael. Do you see yourself, or your children, on this list?

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Wouldn’t exercise be more fun if calories screamed while you burned them?"

 * ... MORE TWITTER: "I won’t come to your party unless you have an animal I can spend the whole time hanging out with."

 * ... MARE: Hats off to the good folks over at the MARE Riding Center which celebrated its 25th anniversary in October. Said Diane Hopkins: "Thanks to all our sponsors, donors, supporters, board members, volunteers and staff.  Everyone had such a good time and we are very thankful and proud that MARE has served the Bakersfield community for 25 years."

Friday, November 20, 2015

House Majority Leader McCarthy: the measure blocking the quick acceptance of Syrian refugees was bi-partisan and picked up 47 Democratic votes

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

 "This week we officially completed months of bipartisan negotiations to give our commercial space innovators in Mojave and East Kern County the certainty they need to continue to expand our reach into space. On Monday, the House passed the SPACE Act, a bill I sponsored. And on Friday, I sat
with Speaker Paul Ryan as he signed the SPACE Act and sent it to the President’s desk for his signature. I looked forward to the President promptly signing this bill into law. Our community’s support for commercial space is strong. Upon the firm foundation of the SPACE Act --- I know they and others will lead us far --- and that our limits are only bounded by what we can imagine as we continue our journey to the stars.

 "As our reach into the cosmos saw great opportunity this week, as a nation we continue to respond to the terror that occurred in Paris, France a week ago. Beyond the tragedy of the innocent lives lost, Americans are looking to leaders in Washington to make sure our nation is secure and our citizens are safe. And in Congress that is our number one priority.

"That is why this week I led my colleagues in the House to act swiftly to ensure our government’s refugee process is guided by a simple but important principle:  if you are a terrorist or a threat to our country, you are not getting in. Period.

" And this is not a partisan belief. That is why 47 Democrats joined with Republicans and voted for our bill that adds accountability to our refugee program. The bill we voted on increases the standards to keep those who want to do us harm out. But America is not saying ‘no’ to refugees. America always stands as a beacon of hope for everyone fleeing oppression and terror. Nothing will stop us from protecting the innocent while continuing our fight against evil. Instead, this bill puts a pause on our refugee program until we are certain that nobody being allowed in poses a threat to the American people.

 #Here in the House, we will not accept half measures. We are committed to keeping America safe.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy raps Obama on the Syrian refugee question, the Padre Hotel menu gets a makeover and remembering the South Chester Drive-In

 * ... SYRIAN REFUGEES: Is there are hotter issue domestically than the question of allowing thousands of Syrian refugees to resettle in the United States? Citing humanitarian concerns, the president wants to allow some 10,000 Syrians into the country, an idea the House of
Representatives shot down Thursday by voting to halt the program. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader, took the floor to remind the president that "our duty is to protect the American people," adding that is it "against our values to give terrorists the opening they are looking for" to sneak into the country. McCarthy noted the United States spends some $6.5 billion in humanitarian aid alone, and that pausing the resettlement was necessary until all refugees can be property vetted. The House measure also called for the heads of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and National Intelligence to personally vouch that those admitted aren't a threat.

* ... INDIGNANT: A handful of readers wrote to correct the misspelling of the word "indignant" in a recent post on student protests. It should have read like this: "The activities of students at two universities remind me of Al Capp’s name for similar students of the 1960s and 1970s in his Li’l Abner comic strip – Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything." One reader, Richard Rivera, showing a bit of indignation himself, offered this: "Try wildly indignant if you and your reader wish to mock these students who are raising legitimate concerns."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The difference between in-laws and outlaws? Outlaws are wanted."

 * ... FOODIE: The chef at The Padre Hotel and given its bar and restaurant menus a complete makeover, and it's worth checking out. The Brimstone bar now offers a full array of "craft burgers" along with mussels and a variety of flatbreads.

* ... BOOK SIGNING: A Highland High graduate is returning to town this weekend for a book signing for his recently released children's book, 'Baxter Bu's Epic Beach Day.' Shaun Sturz, who went on to graduate from Westmonth College and later became a "manny" for Kenny G's children, will appear at Amy's Hallmark on Oswell this Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. Sturz was noted to be the top “manny’ in Beverly Hills by Los Angeles Magazine and was cast on ABC Family’s reality show "Beverly Hills Nannies,” where he was one of ten high class nannies chosen for the series. Sturz was also approached by Brooke Burke of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” to blog for her popular mommy site,, where he gave advice and shared fun stories from his perspective as a male nanny.

 * ... BAKERSFIELD SIGN: Bryan Kelly read the story about the city of Lamont refurbishing its welcome sign and had this to say: re: "What we need to do is resurrect the old BAKERSFIELD-SUN-FUN-STAY-PLAY sign, only this time make it read BAKERSFIELD-SUN-FUN-STAY-PLAY-LITTER... perhaps people traveling through at least might think we do this on purpose and we're not just a bunch of pigs."

 * ... MEMORIES: You may be a Bakersfield old-timer if you remember going to the South Chester Drive-In. Built in 1945 to hold some 600 cars, the drive-in went out of business and was torn down in the early 1980s.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

California universities admitting record number of foreign students, two new studies say fracking has no ill effect on groundwater and more on those Mizzou protests

 * ... COLLEGES: As our public colleges and universities struggle with tight budgets, they are admitting record high numbers of foreign students simply because they pay three times as much
tuition as California residents. According to The Wall Street Journal, a record 975,000 international students were enrolled at two and four year U.S. schools this year, representing a 10 percent jump over a year earlier. And now, predictably, some California families are pushing back, saying their own children are being pushed aside simply because foreigners pay a higher tuition. Here is how bad it is for California students: the UC system accepted 62 percent of in-state student applicants in 2014, compared to 84 percent just four years earlier.

 * ... FRACKING: Two more major studies have been released that conclude that hydraulic fracturing does not pollute groundwater supplies. The latest studies, by Yale University and the other by Colorado State, dealt with fracking operations and groundwater in northeastern Pennsylvania and northeastern Colorado. According to the Denver Post, "The Yale-led study — the largest of its kind, according to a university press release — found "no evidence that trace contamination of organic compounds in drinking water wells near the Marcellus Shale" resulted from underground migration of the chemicals. The Colorado State study reached a similar conclusion. Of course, for many the debate over fracking is not based on science, but rather on emotion and the dream of a world without fossil fuels, so no doubt these latest studies will have little effect on the civic dialogue.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back."

 * ... MIZZOU: Jon Crawford weighed in on the student protect activity at the University of Missouri and Yale with this missive: "The activities of students at two universities remind me of Al Capp’s name for similar students of the 1960s and 1970s in his Li’l Abner comic strip – Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything."

* ... ALIENS: Have you seen the Facebook thread about aliens falling from the sky? That's right, someone posted a picture of what looks like an animal fetus and claimed that it was an alien that had fallen from the sky in the San Jose area. Hundreds chimed in buying into the theory that the government was covering up an alien invasion. Said one post: "We see what it looks like, we know there are other life forms being generated... (but) our government works for the devil and is able to create life forms of whatever. .. God sees all and when he wants his children to know the truth it will all be revealed." Okey doke.

 * .... LOCAL HERO: Hats off to 19-year-old Abby Harwell who was shopping at Walmart near East Hills Mall when she performed CPR on a woman who had collapsed. Said her aunt Linda Daniels: "Our niece Abby Harwell works two part time jobs and takes classes at BC in the medical field... She jumped into action and performed CPR until paramedics arrived. The lady was breathing when they arrived. I think she needs a shout out for stepping in while others stood by. We are very proud of her."