Friday, February 13, 2009

Memorial service set for Sunday for Troy Marschang

Local friends will hold a memorial service in Kroll Park this Sunday for Troy Marschang, the former Bakersfield teen who was killed in a Texas car accident. There was a wonderful paid obit in today's Bakersfield Californian that paid tribute to Troy and the amazing life he led. After attending grade school and junior high in Bakersfield, Troy moved to Kuala Lumpar with his father, became senior class president and then earned an academic scholarship to Texas A-M University. His friends have set up a Facebook tribute to Troy (see the details here). At the end of his obituary, his family left this cautionary tale:

"For Troy's sake and your family and friend's sake, wear your seatbelt. Troy failed to negotiate a turn and his vehicle rolled several times. He was ejected from the vehicle since he was not wearing his seatbelt. While there was speculation that he may have fallen asleep, a seatbelt likely would have saved his life."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ayurveda: the "Mother of all Healing" comes to CBCC

Antoinette LaBarbera, local yoga intstructor, is out promoting Ayurveda, called the "Mother of all Healing" with roots that go back 5,000 years. Antoinette used to own the yoga studio downtown near Dagny's coffee house, sold it, and is now back to practicing yoga but also has something she calls her "Healing Ministry" located at 1616 10th Street. She's excited that the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center (CBCC) is now embracing Ayurveda. In her words from her blog:

"Ayurveda places great emphasis and encouragement on maintaining wellness and preventing illness through close attention to balance in one’s life, right thinking, diet, lifestyle and the use of herbs and spices. Knowledge of Ayurveda enables one to understand how to create this balance of body, mind and consciousness according to one’s own individual constitution and how to make lifestyle changes to bring about and maintain this balance."

Check out her website here.

Send a kid to Duke and they become a "crazy"

Duke University is not only of the most select universities in the nation, but it's also home to one of the perennial college basketball powerhouses in the Duke Blue Devils. Not a lot of kids from Bakersfield end up at Duke, due in no small part to the selectivity of the school but also its price tag. One local kid who did end up there is Bhavana Venkataram, a standout Stockdale High graduate last year who had her pick of some of the best schools in the nation. So it was nice to see Bhavana all painted up in the crowd of the "Cameron crazies" (so named for Duke's home court at the Cameron Indoor Stadium) at the epic Duke-North Carolina basketball game this week (sorry Duke fans, but Carolina won). That's Bhavana peaking over the shoulder of another "crazy" with her face painted white. And by the way, Bhavana reports she just "loves" being at Duke and living in Durham, N.C.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Finally some good news:

It's one of the most common complaints about the media (and newspapers): we never report any "good news." And particularly now, with the economy in the tank and consumer confidence at an all-time low, we certainly do need some good news. So it's probably a good time for an "all good news" website to emerge. Called "Tonic," it is devoted to "making a difference" and accentuating the positive. From it's welcome page:

"What is Tonic? The answer is simple: Tonic is a news site and a shop that makes it easy for you to do good things and change the world in a positive way."

Steve Enders, the director of content, is a Cal Poly graduate who worked in newspapers and later did a stint at Yahoo! I think they are onto something here and plan to bookmark the site myself.

Texas car accident claims former Bakersfield teen

Got word that former Bakersfield resident Troy Robert Marschang, a junior at Texas A-M University, died in a car accident on Saturday. Troy and his parents lived in Stockdale Estates and he attended Stockdale Elementary before moving to Kuala Lumpar. He later enrolled at the university where he was a junior majoring in petroleum engineering. Apparently he was on the university debate team. A full report of his death is posted on the university newspaper's web site. The picture of Troy with a friend was taken off Troy's Facebook page.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Yet another DUI crash claims another teen

Another promising young kid has been killed in a DUI collision. This time it was 18-year-old Noemi Perez of Arvin, who ran track Cal State Bakersfield. Is it me or does it seem Bakersfield has more than its share of these horrific DUI-caused deaths? And I often wonder: when these guys (and yes, they are normally men) are sentenced to jail, how many really serve time and for how long? Last week at my Rotary Club, the local chapter of "a life interrupted" presented its program that it takes to thousands of high school kids every year. Featuring Police Chief Bob Rector and Nancy Chaffin (Nancy is our VP/HR at The Californian and lost a son in a DUI several years ago)coordinate the program and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. By the way, Noemi is the third kid from the left in the photo.

Wendy watch: hopeful and surrounded by love

Finally caught up with Wendy Wayne over a glass of wine at Uricchio's as a cold sleet came down outside and a magnificent rainbow appeared over downtown. I took that as a good sign. Wendy looked great and had plenty of energy as we swapped stories of our children and she updated me on her treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She's doing fine now but is headed toward stem cell replacement, and that can be grueling. But she's surrounded by support in the community and an incredible family that (beyond husband Gene Tackett of course) includes son Larkin and his wife Katie in Austin and son Benji and his wife Amy in San Jose. Wendy and Gene just returned from Austin where they doted on little Maya, Larkin and Katie's daughter. For daily updates on Wendy go to a special website called "the status" and search for "Wayne" with the password "hugs661." That's Wendy with Maya in the photo.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Seth Godin on the power of tribes and being small

Recommended reading: Seth Godin is a marketing blogger and best selling author whose blog is a must read. For a really powerful interview, go to this video interview for a taste of his blog. He talks about the power of the tribe, of how being small and committed to excellence (think niche) is the path to greatness as opposed to being large (think mass) and trying to be everything to everybody. Real lessons for newspapers and the media in this.

Prop 8 backlash turns ugly

Nothing like reading the New York Times on a quiet Sunday morning to get your juices going. I happened on to a story on a new website called "eightmaps" which pinpoints every donor - and lists them by name - who gave money to support California's Prop 8, which defined marriage as that between a man and a woman and effectively bans gays from marrying. Turns out some who didn't like Prop 8 are using it to intimidate those who supported it, and that's just plain wrong, no matter how strongly you feel about the measure. An excerpt from today's New York Times:

"The site takes the names and ZIP codes of people who donated to the ballot measure — information that California collects and makes public under state campaign finance disclosure laws — and overlays the data on a Google map.

Visitors can see markers indicating a contributor’s name, approximate location, amount donated and, if the donor listed it, employer. That is often enough information for interested parties to find the rest — like an e-mail or home address. The identity of the site’s creators, meanwhile, is unknown; they have maintained their anonymity."

Bakersfield of course overwhelmingly supported Prop 8 and while it is interesting to use to see all the folks who wrote checks to support it, it's terrifying to think some of these citizens are being harassed for engaging in the civic process.