* ... PIE RUN: It's almost time for the Pie Run, one of the great Bakersfield traditions that comes every Thanksgiving. Started by retired insurance manager John Rous years ago, the Pie Run is a perfect way to start Thanksgiving with 300 to 400 of your closest friends. At the crack of dawn every Thanksgiving hundreds of local runners, cyclists and walkers (with their dogs of course) show up at Hart Park for a chilly morning jog (or walk) in the hills overlooking the park. Everyone brings a dessert (usually a pie but also doughnuts, coffee cakes etc) which are all eaten after the folks descend from the hills in front or a roaring bonfire. It all starts at 6 a.m. so arrive early. Look for the bonfire. If you haven't experienced the Pie Run, this is the year to do it.
* ... GIVING THANKS: I always find a moment this time of year to jot down some of the things for which I am thankful. Try it yourself. It's a revealing exercise that can't help but make you feel blessed, despite any challenges you face. Here's my list:
1) I am thankful to have a job and health insurance and work for a company that truly cares about its people.
2) I am thankful to live in this wonderful community. Yes we have our challenges, but the inherent goodness of so many people here is impressive.
3) I am thankful for two smart, beautiful daughters who never cease to amaze me.
4) I am thankful for having the most wonderful friends, truly outstanding and giving people, who are always there when I need a sympathetic ear.
5) I am thankful for my health.
6) I am thankful for Jeff and Katie Dunlap, the previous owners of my little bungalow, who left me Latte, an adorable gray tabby who greets me with a sharp meow and long body stretch each and every time I pull into the driveway.
7) I am thankful for the wisdom that comes with age that teaches you to tune out the petty and embrace the positive.
8) I am thankful to live in this great country that - wounded as it is in this economy - is still the best place on earth.
9) My friends: did I mention that?
10) And finally, I am thankful for living in a generous community that embraces anyone who wants to be involved.
* ... ROBERT SWIFT: Saw a story in The Wall Street Journal the other day noting that Bakersfield's Robert Swift is now playing professional basketball in Japan. The story noted that Swift's team, the Tokyo Apaches, had been purchased by a U.S. hedge fund. Swift played at Garces Memorial High School and later for the Seattle Sonics in the National Basketball Association before being cut. (photo courtesy of the NBA)
* ... SPOTTED: Colby Lewis, the North High grade and Texas Rangers ace pitcher, was spotted at Lifetime Fitness the other day. According to Sheryl Barbich, who was there working out, Colby walked in to spontaneous applause. Welcome home, Colby.
* ... WOODY: Spent part of last weekend up on a ranch between Woody and Glennville, owned by local businessman Mel Atkinson. I've done a great deal of traveling, and I would be hard pressed to name a more naturally beautiful setting than those stone and rock covered hills between Woody and Glennville. Another reason to count our blessings. (photo courtesy of Blake School District)
* ... CHINA LAKE: Sometimes you forget how big and diverse our county is. Dave Dmohowski reminded me of this when he spotted a nugget in a commercial real estate report about the construction of a two-floor, 170,000-square-foot Weapons and Armament Technology Center at the Naval Air Weapons Station in China Lake. It was a $63.8 million project built by Barnhart Balfour Beatty.
* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Jack Kelly: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if "you can remember the Union Oil 76 sign halfway up the Grapevine on the old Highway 99. You could see it at night from Bakersfield."