* … ECONOMY: There was little surprise in the latest UCLA report on the California economy, which showed an uneven recovery across the state. Coastal counties, from San Diego north, have shown strong gains in employment and housing, while here in the San Joaquin Valley we actually may have lost ground. Some areas of the coast boast jobless rates about half of what they are here and in the Inland Empire.
* … COURTESY: Most of the random surveys you see online - covering everything from sex to intelligence to healthy communities - aren't worth their weight in salt, but that doesn't mean we don't read them. Which is why I am passing along this survey from the online news aggregator buzzfeed.com ranking the most and least courteous states. This information was gleaned from hundreds of telephone surveys, or so I am told. The most courteous states: South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Louisiana and Georgia. The least: Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Indiana, Tennessee and Ohio.
* … SNAKES: And speaking of odd stories, did you hear the one about the U.S. government dropping thousands of dead mice on a U.S. military base on the island of Guam? That's right. Apparently they did it to thin the population of the brown tree snake, an invasive species that has
"caused millions of dollars in wildlife and commercial losses since it arrived a few decades ago." The mice were pumped full of painkillers. As NBC reported: "The unlikely invasion was the fourth and biggest rodent air assault so far, part of an $8 million U.S. program approved in February to eradicate the snakes and save the exotic native birds that are their snack food."
* … STEPANOVICH: Mike Stepanovich, executive director of the Bakersfield College Foundation, has announced he will be retiring next year. The gregarious Stepanovich, known for his knowledge and love of wine, has long been active in our community. Next year, Stepanovich will serve as president of Breakfast Rotary. Previously he worked at Cal State Bakersfield as well as The Californian.
* … FIRST FRIDAY: The Bakersfield Art Association's art center will be holding a Christmas open house party this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. There will be a raffle for workshops and art supplies valued at $600. And make sure you stop by the art center, located an 1817 Eye Street, on First Friday to view the works of more than 40 local artists.
* … MEMORIES: Reader John D. Mixon wrote to say he remembers the old World War II military housing site near the airport. "After I returned from the Korean War in the summer of 1951, I bought a house on Margo Lane from Ralph Smith. Brand new three bedroom, hardwood floors, for $7,600, with a GI loan of 4 percent... just south of the Wingland School which was built later, around 1955. (Reader) Russell (Rink) should remember the 'Little Green Store' which was just southeast of that complex, and the fact that you could see clear to the old airport terminal."