Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Counting our blessings during this Thanksgiving week, hoping for rain and props to a Boy Scout and a Rotary Club for helping those in need

 * … GIVING THANKS: Life can be chaotic and challenging, and sometimes heart breaking, but we all have our lists of things to be thankful for in this world. Among mine this Thanksgiving: I am blessed
with a core group of friends who have been there to listen, support, guide and challenge me; I have two grown daughters, Bakersfield girls them both, who are off making their own way in the world; I have a rewarding job and live in a town I proudly call home; I have my health that I work every day to maintain; I have the memories of a mother who had no equal; and finally I have a 9-year-old Tabby cat whose soft purr and head nudges wake me each morning. To ask for more would border on pure greed.

 * … RAIN: Do we dare expect more rain like the downpour we experienced over Halloween? The National Weather Service is predicting "a potential significant rain event for Southern California Sunday through Tuesday." Of course, a lot can change over the next week but let's keep those positive thoughts for another drenching.

 * … SPOTTED: Posted on Facebook by Larkin Tackett, son of the late Wendy Wayne and now an educator in Austin, Texas: "Our nation could benefit from extra servings of empathy, humility, and listening."

* … NORTH ROTARY: Hats off to the Bakersfield North Rotary, North High School Interact Clubs, Standard School District and the Bakersfield Jam who are joining together to feed 350 North of the River families for Thanksgiving. This is the 13th year that Bakersfield North Rotary has raised money for their Thanksgiving Basket project. It is a favorite project among Bakersfield North Rotarians who donate funds for baskets as well as securing corporate donations to ensure that these families have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

 * … GOOD FORM: And kudos to 14-year-old Fruitville Jr. High student Travis Wilkinson who completed his Eagle Scout Project for HALT Rescue. The project used wooden pallets, which Travis  and his fellow scouts from TROOP 147 transformed as platforms to elevate dog houses at the kennel , which serves as a temporary home for HALT's adoptable large breed dogs.

 * … MEMORIES:  Ken Barnes wrote to comment on a photo published in The Californian of a train loaded with military vehicles. "When I was twelve years old and attending Beardsley Elementary
school in 1951 I saw the same sight on the railway behind the school during recess one morning. The entire train was loaded with flatcars with military tanks on them headed to the Bay Area for shipment to Korea, I guess. It was a real scary sight to someone my age at that time."

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Monday Bako Bits: burglaries and thefts spike as we head into the holiday season and residents of Lake Isabella mark the passing of Lloyd "Country" Huckleberry

* … CRIME: We have entered the high crime season as we head toward Thanksgiving and
Christmas. I have heard reports of packages being stolen off porches and of residential burglaries, from the Bakersfield Country Club area to downtown and out to Seven Oaks. In Westchester, thieves made off with the wheels of two newer trucks, and in La Cresta two friends chased a young man who was spotted stealing some packages just delivered by a United Parcel Service truck.

* … BAD FORM: Keitha Turner was westbound on Highway 178 last week when she found herself behind a late model Mazda CX5 with a vanity plate including the word "HUG." Said Keitha:
"As we approached the M Street signal the driver rolled down her window and threw a bright gold food wrapper out  Obviously she didn't care about being seen, and I thought being called out in your column might just embarrass her into thinking twice before the next time threw trash onto the roadway."

 * … TRIBUTE: Patricia Basset wrote to remember a longtime resident of Lake Isabella, Lloyd "Country" Huckleberry. "He was amazing in that he never forgot a person's name, even after only meeting them one time, and he always stopped to visit with everyone he knew - including buying their breakfast or lunches as he went out the door. Country unhesitatingly helped others who needed his help and he was the first person to volunteer if he saw a problem. Country was one of the WW II vets that flew to Washington, D.C. for the ceremonies there, and he had lived a very full life before doing that. Country was not just a man who knew no strangers, but in his 87 years he had been a top-notch pilot, a Navy underwater demolitionist, a rodeo rider, a professional auctioneer, and a heavy equipment owner and operator.  He also was active in his motorcycle group right up to the end and could be seen driving that big old bike all around town at 87 years of age. The church was SRO for his service. We in Lake Isabella lost a good man and a terrific friend with his passing."

* … PIE RUN: One last reminder for all of you who have never done the Thanksgiving morning Pie Run. This is one of our town's signature, fun events and all you have to do is rise early and join the fun. Is there a better way to start the holiday than a brisk morning walk or run? Bring a pie and be ready to roll at 6 a.m. Pie Run founder John Rous will signal the start. Simply follow the car lights to the starting point.

 * … MEA CULPA: We goofed badly in printing an advertisement last week regarding folks who contributed to the Wounded Heroes Fund. At the Diamond Level, we misspelled the last name of the Don. C. and Diane Lake family. The Lake family is one of the most generous in our community, giving quietly and constantly. Our apologies.

Friday, November 21, 2014

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy: Obama's executive orders on immigration are not only wrong, but also do nothing to solve the problems of a broken immigratiomn system

House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy reacts to the executive action on immigration announced by President Obama:

 "The President announced this week a striking unilateral rewrite of our immigration laws against the expressed will of Congress and of the American people. The President doesn’t seem to get the point But despite Congress and the American people’s resistance to President Obama’s unilateral action—action the President himself said would ‘violate our laws’ and be ‘very difficult to defend legally’—the President has decided to go it alone yet again. As President Obama himself said, ‘there are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system.’ I urge the President to listen to his own words. America is a country of laws, and our Constitution does not grant the President the authority to legalize millions of immigrants with the stroke of a pen.
that he must work with the government he has, not the government he wants.

  "Not only is this action wrong, it does absolutely nothing to solve the underlying problems of our broken immigration system. In fact, it may exacerbate the problem.

  "The President’s action is a prime example of Washington cynicism. He has responded to Congress and the public’s desire for positive change with an all-or-nothing approach that only damages the prospect of future cooperation. He did not even attempt to start on the right foot and work with us in the New Year.

  "This overstep from the President is unfortunately not new. Time and again, this Administration has changed laws of the land to appease its political intentions - such as choosing to enforce some provisions of Obamacare while ignoring others. This has led the U.S. House of Representatives to take the necessary step of filing suit against the Administration to regain the constitutional footing between the branches of government that our Founders intended.  Additionally, the House has focused much of its legislative efforts on returning the power to the people, not unelected bureaucrats. And few agencies exude bloated power as much as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

  "The EPA proposes and enforces rules and regulations that can have major implications on our economy – especially here in the Central Valley. The EPA, however, insists that each new regulation is based on science and data. But despite this intended commitment, they refuse to share the data with the public and stack the board in charge of regulation recommendations (Science Advisory Board or SAB) with a majority of members that favor the heavy regulated agenda of the Administration. This week the House passed two bills that ensure greater transparency and accountability within the EPA by making public all data and science that proposed rules and regulations are based on. We also passed legislation that improves the make-up of SAB and its sub-panels by reinforcing peer review requirements and reducing conflicts of interest.

 "Our government is one that should work on behalf of the American people and ensure that laws written and passed by their representatives are not upended or contorted by an Administration. The House will continue to listen to the American people and fight for a government that is representative of its will.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Researchers say eggs may not be so bad after all, it's time for another Pie Run on Thanksgiving morning and a puppy gets trapped under a recliner

 * … EGGS: If you are of a certain age, you were raised that eating eggs would increase your risk of heart disease. But now, according to The New York Times, scientists are thinking all that. Said The Times :"Clinical studies show that dietary cholesterol from eggs, shrimp and toher animal foods has only a modest effect on blood cholesterol." The story went on to say that the American Heart Association "no longer condemns eggs in its guidlines." But it does recommend that we limit ourselves to 300
milligrams of cholesterold a day (one egg has about 200 milligrams of cholesterol." So for all us egg lovers, that is certainly good news.

 * … PIE RUN: Speaking of diet and exercise, the annual Pie Run is set for Thanksgiving morning out at Hart Park. This is a terrific way to start the holiday. Grab a friend, your dog or a bike and join a couple hundred cheery people to run or walk into the hills above Hart Park. The price of entry: bring a pie, biscuits or cookies and follow the cars to Hart Park. The walk starts promtply at 6 a.m.

 * … OVERHEARD: At a local restaurant a man is telling a friend about his new puppy: "I called my wife and asked about the puppy and she hadn't see it for a while. It turns out the puppy was trapped under the recliner with only its paws sticking out. It had been there for a while."

* … BANKS: Another reader weighed in on the local Chase bank. Said Molly McKean: "Chase is not our favorite bank. A couple years ago they would not give my husband change for a $20 because he was not a Chase client. My husband told them: 'I thought this was a bank. Don't you guys have money here?' They just repeated that they were not able to make change for him.  We still laugh about it today.

 * … SPOTTED: A beautiful new Mercedes convertible is parked outside a local fitness center with a license plate frame reading: "Alumni … Migrant Farm Labor."

 * … SPOTTED: On a friend's Facebook wall: "Overheard: We weren't poor. We were broke."

 * … HOME TOUR: It's that time of year again for the 25th anbnual Chez Noel Holiday Home Tour. This is a self-guided tour of four privately owned residences beautifully decorated fro the holidays. Tickets are just $35 each and all proceeds benefit the Assistance League and its programs. The tours are Friday and Saturday Dec. 5-6 and tickets are available at the Bargain Box, Sugardaddy's, Christine's, Victoria's and Inspire Salon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bako Bits: Bass Pro Shops once again eyeing Bakersfield, construction under way on BevMo! at the Shops at RiverWalk and a good deed for a deserving Vietnam veteran

 * … RETAIL: Had a nice chat with three of the partners at Cushman and Wakefield- Duane
Keathley, Wayne Kress and Jeff Andrew-who appeared as my guest on First Look with Scott Cox on Tuesday. A couple interesting tidbits: construction is well under way for the BevMo! wine and spirits store out at the Shops at Riverwalk, and Keathley says that Bakersfield is once again on the radar for a Bass Pro Shops, likely near the new Hoskings Road interchange off Highway 99.

* …GOOD FORM: Here's a little story that should brighten your day. Jim Atkins, a Vietnam veteran, was at Vons on North Chester last Friday proudly wearing a hat that identified him as a veteran. He was getting ready to purchase $40.40 in "bare essentials" when a stranger approached and insisted on paying. Atkins, who has suffered from a series of health setbacks and is legally blind, was stunned. "I about shook his arm off in gratitude. I've been thinking about this young man and am so thankful," said the Navy veteran, who was too flustered to remember to get the name of the good Samaritan he describes as between 30 and 35 years of age. "I'm on a limited income, so $40.40 will get me through until I get paid."

 * … SAY WHAT? Here is a real head scratcher for you, complisments of Jo Lynn Moralez: "I recently went into Chase Bank on Mount Vernon Avenue to deposit some cash ($120) into a friend's account. Since I do not personally have an account at this bank, I was informed by the teller that it was bank policy they could not accept cash. I was, however, allowed to write a check. Huh?"

 * … NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH: Hats off to the South Oswell Neighborhood Watch, which reached a milestone related to improving the quality of life in that area of town. Said watch founder David Collins: "We recently picked up the 1,000th bag of litter since our organization was founded in 2009. This represents about 20,000 pounds of debris that have been removed from our streets.  SONW board members that make key contributions are president, Don Moran; first vice president, Barry Wallace; second vice president, Herman Lopez; treasurer, Tomeka Powell; director of technology, Chris Keeler and secretary, Velma Flores.

 * … ACHIEVERS: Some more good news for some of our local scholar-athletes who have taken their talents to colleges. Centennial High graduate Molly Pruett and Bakersfield High product Evan Bowman both run cross country for Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, and both qualified this past weekend for the NAIA Cross Country Nationals to be run in Lawrence, Kansas. Thanks to David Coffey for passing this along.

 * … BENEFACTOR: Congrats to Don Barnes who will be recognized tonight (Wednesday) at the Kern Community Foundation's 15-year anniversary celebration for his lifetime achievement of giving that has benefited local charitable causes dear to him. Barnes and his first wife, Audrey, who passed away after 50 years of marriage, generously donated to causes such as Bakersfield Christian High School and the Bakersfield Museum of Art. Don and his current wife Earlene, a friend from church whom he married in 2011, continue to donate regularly from the Donald and Earlene Barnes Charitable Fund to organizations where they see significant impact.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

More on my verbal altercation on hydraulic tracking, The Mark restaurant opens a beautiful outdoor seating area and celebrating the best burger around town

 * … SCAM: A reader who asked that I not identify her offered this warning about yet another scam: "I opened a letter today from Amex saying my data had been breached. I Googled the name at bottom
of letter and found a lot of people have gotten this letter or have been called from this number 1 (855) 693-2213.  I called instead the number on the back of my card and asked if they sent this letter, which they said they hadn't. I asked for a new card, but wanted readers to know as this was a very good scam letter… They wanted me to sign up for a free year (of identity theft protection) but of course I would provide them with Social Security and other vital information."

 * … FRACKING: LaNell Hart responded to a recent post in this blog about an altercation I had while on a trip recently. "I just finished reading your column in today's paper including your story of being verbally accosted about hydraulic fracturing. Perhaps your accoster never thinks about where the jet fuel comes from that powers the planes that fly in and out of Denver International Airport. Was he accompanied by a horse and buggy? Perhaps you could have asked where his horse was so you could pet it." Well said.

 * … GRANTS: The Bakersfield Californian Foundation (this is the charitable arm of the family that is separate from TBC Media) has given out some important new grants to some deserving non profits, including three $50,000 awards and one for $100,000. The winner of the $100,000 grant was the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault. The award will fund a portion of their Shelter Rehabilitation project. The three $50,000 winners were the Art, Science and Technology Educational Corporation of Tehachapi for its Joint STEAM Center and 4-H Facility; Bakersfield ARC for its Innovative Education Program for the Developmentally Disabled and the Mercy Foundation-Bakersfield/Friends of Mercy Foundation for its Community Wellness Center Kitchen Classroom. In addition, the foundation offered the opportunity for matching grants to both the Bakersfield Memorial Hospital Foundation and the Tejon Ranch Conservancy.

* … FOODIE: Claire Uricchio and the folks over at Uricchio's Trattoria downtown have introduced a splendid new salad, adding strips of cripsy chicken to the eatery's classic house salad. It's worth a try.

 * … BURGERS: And speaking of food, Scott Burgy weighed in on my quest to find the best hamburger in town. Responding to an earlier reader he said: "I imagine Bryan Kelly has never had the 'Kenny Burger’ from Mexicali West! It is an off the menu item, hence few people are aware of its existence. The 'Kenny Burger’ would easily add 75 pounds to one's weight if indulged on a regular basis! It is a work of art and by far the best burger in Bakersfield."

 * … THE MARK: I stopped by the grand opening of the new outdoor dining area of The Mark Restaurant on 19th Street this weekend. This is a stunningly beautiful addition to The Mark, which has made a name for itself in its short period of existence. Called The Park and The Mark, the area offers water features, beautiful lighting and ceramic planters.

 * … GOOD FORM: Lara Kimm headed over to Milt's Coffee Shop intent of treating some veterans for breakfast, but as she asked for their bill, she learned someone had anonymously picked up her tab. Said Lara: "Wow, that really made our day!  I have paid it forward many times, but I have never been on the receiving end. It is such a great feeling that it makes me want to make someone else's day by paying it forward more often  And of course, I picked up the vets' tab as planned. I hope I made their day as well."

Friday, November 14, 2014

House Majority Leader McCarthy: the House passes a bill to approve the Keystone pipeline and now it is time for the president to support it

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader and a Bakersfield Repbulican, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "This week marked the return to Congress following the November elections. On November 4th, the American people sent a message to Washington, DC.  It was a message of frustration and discontent
with the direction of our great nation. The American people want Washington to function again and get our country moving in the right direction.

 "The House has fought against this Administration’s government-first agenda that continues to put the direction of the economy more in the hands of Washington and federal agencies, and not with local communities or the private sector.  One of the policy areas that can immediately have a positive impact on creating jobs and jumpstarting our economy is to focus on enhancing our nation’s energy production.  We should encourage more domestic energy production as well as focus on updating our energy infrastructure.

 "Few things in this country have more bipartisan and nationwide support as approving the Keystone XL pipeline. The states it would run through support it. Our northern ally, Canada, supports it. Most importantly, the American people support it because the project will create jobs and lead America one step closer to North American energy independence.  If this decision were based on merits alone, Keystone would have been approved and built years ago. The President said himself that a critical decision point would rest on levels of increased emissions—something his own State Department said will not be a problem.

 "After over six years of waiting and with no reason to wait further, it’s time to act.  Today the House passed H.R. 5682, which would immediately approve the Keystone pipeline.  I am hopeful that the Senate will finally follow the House’s lead to get this project off the ground, and send the bill to the President for his signature."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The millenial generation has a negative savings rate, a reader weighs in on the best burgers around town and the hysteria over hydraulic fracturing reaches an airport bar in Denver

  * … SAVINGS: If you have children under the age of 35 (this is the millenial generation) a recent report about their lack of ability to save money may not surprise you. According to the Wall Street
Journal, this generation has a negative 2 percent savings rate, making their position in the world "increasingly precarious despite five years of economic growth and sustained job creation. A lack of savings increases the vulnerability of young workers in the post recession economy, leaving many without a financial cushion for unexpected expenses."

 * … FOODIE: Bryan Kelley wrote to send his recommendations on the best burgers in town after I visited Ethel's Corral. "I can only hope that you ordered the (Ethel's) buffalo burger. THAT is the reason you brave the rattlesnake signage! Trust me on burgers… I do not carry around 75-plus vanity pounds from eating at salad bars. Ethel's buffalo burger, Lie-n-Den backyard burger, Happy Jack's California burger. Simple." (photos of Lie-n-Den burgers)

 * … BAD FORM: I was verbally accosted over the issue of hydraulic fracking at a Denver International Airport bar this week when a stranger learned I was from Bakersfield. "You are causing earthquakes, contaminating water and poisoning the earth!" he bellowed. I found another pub and left thinking the oil and gas industry needs to do a better job in telling its side of the story.

* … KART RACING: Heard the other day that Mason Marotta, a CSUB student and 20-year-old son of Mike and Lynda Marotta, is heading to Spain for the world championships in kart racing. Mason was invited to join the Rotax Team USA for the World Game Final in Valencia, Spain, competing against drivers from more than 60 counteis. The race is Nov. 25-29.

 * …COACH: The East Bakersfield High School community lost one of its own recently with the death of former head football coach and teacher Armando (AJ) Vazquez. He was beloved as an inspirational teacher and coach who always displayed a positive spirit. Keep his family in your thoughts.

 * … GOOD NEWS: And finally, kudos to the Stockdale Christian Band wind ensemble which is raising money to play a concert at Carnegie Hall in the spring of 2016. Said band chair Donna Johns Hylton:  "Giving these young students an opportunity to perform at a prestigious concert venue as Carnegie Hall will create lasting memories and a positive ripple effect in our community." she said. "The band performed at Disneyland Friday and now fundraising is in full swing to reach the $600,000 goal by spring of 2016 for instruments and the trip! I'm thrilled to be chairing this wonderful cause for these young musicians!"