Thursday, November 27, 2014

While OPEC floods the market with oil, U.S. energy producers begin to cut back on production, shutting down some operations and laying off contractors, and recognizing the young people who come home for Thanksgiving

 * … OIL AND GAS: There is a quiet concern and worry among the oil and gas producers that have thrived in Kern County during the energy boom. The benchmark price of oil has now dipped
below $70 a barrel, a four-year low and more than a 30 percent dip since it spiked at $108 not long ago. One thing is certain about the energy sector: the major players don't hesitate to shut down production when the price dips, and already I am hearing of contractors being laid off as the energy sector pulls back. The problem: OPEC has rejected the idea of curtailing production to stabilize the price, putting enormous pressure on the booming U.S. energy business. Keep and eye on this one because it will certainly affect our local economy.

* … THANKSGIVING: One of the great joys of this time of year is catching up with so many of the young men and women who grew up here, left and returned for the holidays. They gather at Woolgrower's, Narducci's, Luigi's and all their familiar haunts, carrying the confidence and swagger that only a few years of living on their own can afford. I spotted a slew of them at the Thanksgiving Day Pie Run out at Hart Park and when I stopped by Woolgrower's the night before. Among those I caught up with were Michelle Keathley of San Diego, Dustin Glentzer of Santa Monica, Thomas Benham of Yountville, Phil Brandon of Martha's Vineyard, Sarah Baker of Flagstaff and Elizabeth Hill of Washington, D.C. Here's to all the kids and their smiles.

 * … BAD FORM: I am constantly amazed, and disappointed, with the amount of trash I see discarded on our local roads. On a recent bike ride on Granite Road I spotted an old (and large) Magnavox television, discarded on the side of the road, as well as two mattresses and an overturned hot tub. Really? Meanwhile, the Goodwill has TV advertisements offering to pick up these large items at no cost. Go figure.

 * … SCAM: Alice Merenbach weighed in with yet another scam from someone posing as an agent from the Internal Revenue Service. Her report: "Another call from someone purporting to be from the IRS, telling me her name is agent Julie Smith and I was to call 415-296-1297 right away.  'Do not disregard this message, or we will be forced to take steps against you,' she said.

 * … SERVICE: I picked up a Honey Baked Ham the other day and was amazed at the excellent customer service. Recognizing this must be the busiest time of year, the Ming Avenue store had no less than five checkout stations manned by some of the friendliest young people I have had the pleasure to encounter.

 * … CALM: Don't forget to visit CALM’s HolidayLights that returns for its 12th year with over three million lights designed by Josh Barnett’s Lightasmic. Money raised from HolidayLights supports CALM’s efforts to grow. In addition, Teen Challenge benefits from the concessions and corporate part tent and catering. The show runs from Nov. 28 through Jan. 3.

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