Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bako Bits: beware of all those panhandlers at our local gas stations and who in the world would put a metal clamp on a dog's leg to keep him tethered?

 * … SCAMS: I can't get enough of these scams going on around town. Listen to this reader who had an encounter at the downtown AM/PM gas station where a nicely dressed young man was seen using a plastic container to pour gas into his own car. "While I was filling my car, I saw him talking to another
customer and heard him say he ran out of gas in the country; a friend picked him up, and brought him to the gas station.  'If you could just fill my gas can with gas, I think I will have enough to get my car back into town.' Sounds honest enough; clean cut guy; not asking for money. But he would take the full gas can to his car, parked behind Subway, poured it in his car tank and then went back to the station, telling the same story to another unsuspecting customer."

 * … BAD FORM: This week brought a torrent of bad news, starting with the discovery of a stray black dog who was found with a large metal clamp piercing his leg. The clamp was used to tether the dog to a post, and veterinarians believe it was put there about a week ago. What kind of monster would do this to a dog? Then, later this week, someone burned down the playground equipment at Endeavor Elementary School in Rosedale.

 * … GOOD ADVICE: But every bad deed is answered by someone like Drew Douglas, who at just 9 years old has something to say about our litter problem. In a well thought note to The Californian, she said this: "Littering is bad but people do it anyway… Littering hurts animals, the ground and the earth. If you’re one of those people, then I would try to stop as much as you can. Littering destroys the world with trash! Me and my friend found all kinds of trash at our school and we threw it away. Don’t you want a better, cleaner place to live too?" Sound advice.

* … FOODIE: I have two recommendations if you are in the downtown area: The Union Station Deli across from the post office on 18th Street offers excellent service and a killer pot pie soup, and The Wall Street Cafe on L Street features one of the best beet salads I have ever had.

 * … CARR: Local talk radio host Ralph Bailey, who boasts an impressive deep knowledge of sports and the Oakland Raiders in particular, dropped me a note to share a few differences between the pro football debuts of brothers David and Derek Carr. "In David's first 167 pass attempts he was sacked 41 times, while Derek, even behind the blocking of my Raiders, has only hit the ground three times, according to CBS Sports. From a loyal yet miserable Raider fan." Thanks Ralph. (file photos of the Carr brothers)

 * … KUDOS: Hats off to the folks at Chevron for volunteering to clean up trash along China Grade Loop. Said reader Carole Cohen: "There were at least 15-20 volunteers working, and the before/after difference is quite spectacular. Take a drive through the area - start at Manor - and enjoy the results of their hard work. Thanks to all who participated for a job well done."

 * … PETS: The other day I mentioned the annual effort to collect blankets for stray dogs and cats that is planned for Saturday, Oct. 25, at the Petco on Gosford Road. Turns out I didn't correctly identify the group accurately. The organization is called Busters Pet Fund. Kudos to these folks who care for the strays among us.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The never ending scams that exploit the kindness of strangers, this one appearing at gas stations around Bakersfield, and get ready for the Bakersfield Film Festival coming up next month

 * … SCAMS: Here is yet another example of the scams going on around town. The person who submitted this asked not to be named. Here is his story: "A few weeks ago I was filling up at a gas
station near Taft Highway and Highway 99. Two young men came up to me, one carrying a gas can, and said they needed help. The older looking one said his father had a heart attack and they were trying to get to Los Angeles to see him. They said they were out of money and gas and they pointed towards an older, white, Ford Explorer. I said sure, just pull your car around I will fill it up for you, so they did. As they were filling up I asked the one whose father had the heart attack, what is your father’s name was and if I could pray for him. He said sure and I prayed and they both hugged me and thanked me, and then they took off. I finished my business at the gas station and proceeded to head to the post office on Larson Lane. So I got on the 99 North and low and behold there was that same white Ford Explorer right in front of me heading North instead of South to Los Angeles. So I gave them the benefit of the doubt and thought they might be getting something to eat. As I got off on White Lane to turn on to Wible, there is another gas station. The same white Ford Explorer pulled in to the station, I thought surely not, hopefully there was a good explanation. So I went ahead to the post office knowing that I would have to come back by the gas station, and as I passed back by the gas station, there was those same two me, with their gas can, going around to every customer. I thought about confronting them, and taking the situation into to my own hands,  but then I remembered Romans 12:19; and left it in God’s hands."

* … FESTIVAL: Mark you calendar for the weekend of Nov. 7-9 when the Bakersfield Film Festival gets under way at the historic Fox Theater. The festival will feature some 50 movies over four days, including "Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound" and an inspiring Spanish documentary called "Unstoppables." Tickets are just $10 per day or $20 for all three days. (file photo from Unstoppables.)

 * … SPOTTED: A friend posted this on her Facebook page: "Seeing as I drive up and down Union Avenue everyday, I'm kinda used to seeing people do strange stuff. This morning was a winner. Traffic came to a screaching halt by the on-ramp to 58 as a dude crossed the street (against the light of course) on a pogo stick... I think I saw that on an episode of the Roadrunner once."

 * … CARR: This from the news source SF Gate: "Oakland Raiders rookie QB Derek Carr of Bakersfield has more four-touchdown games (1) than his brother, 2002 No.1 overall pick, David, had in his 11-year career (94 games)."

 * … THE WALK: If you are looking for a way to spend a splendid day while helping a terrific cause, consider attending the Kern County National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk this Saturday at the Park at Riverwalk? Registration is at 9 a.m. and the walk program starts at 10 a.m. KBAK anchor Kurt Rivera, emcee of the event, reminds me that mental illness is all too common but yet gets so little exposure. You can register at the walk itself or beforehand online at

 * … BLANKET DRIVE: It's not too early to start putting away old blankets for the annual blanket drive at Petco on Gosford Road. This one is put on by a group called Love Buster and the group wants to collect blankets, towels and dog and cat beds. Volunteers will be at Petco on Saturday, Oct. 25.

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: Craig Holland says you may be a Bakersfield old timer if you remember "Congoland with Jean-Pierre Hallet at 30th and F streets where Lyles Beauty College is now."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Monday Bako Bits: Dr. Ravi Patel to appear on First Look this week to talk breast cancer awareness and noted bluegrass great John Jorgenson to appear in Bakersfield for the Guitar Masters series

* … CANCER: October is breast cancer awareness month and a brief look at the statistics are humbling. For example, about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2014, an estimated 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer were
expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 62,570 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer. And, about 2,360 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in men in 2014. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000. On Tuesday, at 9 a.m. on NewsTalk KERN 1180 and on First Look with Scott Cox, I will be talking with Dr. Ravi Patel of the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center about the progress being made against this deadly disease.

* … SPOTTED: I spotted this post on a friend's Facebook page: "I've totally been taken advantage of… at the gas station on the corner of Cali and Oak this man told me he was trying to get to the hospital because his wife was in an accident. He left the house without his cell and wallet and ran out of gas. He was dressed nice and had an older Ford Taurus. He reminded me of my dad. Then a few days later I saw him running the same scam at another gas station."

 * … OVERHEARD: "You are a true '08er if you live south of Decatur (street)."

 * … GUITAR MASTERS: If you appreciate great musicians, then you should consider attending the final session of the Guitar Masters season this Thursday over at American Sound Studios, 2231 R Street. The brains behind this series is local businessman Rick Kreiser, and he told me this final session will feature multi Grammy winners John Jorgenson (Desert Rose Band, Hellecasters, Elton John) and Jim Cox (Mark Knopfler, Lyle Lovett). Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the cost is $30 with a cash bar by Cafe Med. (file photo of John Jorgenson)

 * … SABA Congratulations to Tom Saba and the folks over at the Saba Agency, the creative media group that is now celebrating 25 years in business locally.

 * … MEMORIES: The memories of life when Baker Street was the center of town keep rolling in. Consider this one from Richard Giachino: "I also have some great memories of Baker Street. I went to Saint Joseph's, remember watching all the pretty girls across the street at Washington Junior High.
Mothers Bakery was great. Tejon theater, where forgive me Mr. Lemucchi, we would walk in backwards while people were leaving after the movie was over! I also worked there after, but kept that to myself. Great memories and great times!"

 * … MORE MEMORIES: And finally this last word on the old Golden Crust Bakery from reader Dennis Claxton: "My dad was a salesman for Golden Crust Bakery, one of the 60 salesmen employed by Golden Crust in Bakersfield. In the summers, between the ages of 9 and 11 years old, dad would take me on his route which covered Taft, Maricopa, and Ford City.  He would wake me around 4 in the morning to go down to load his truck.  The smell of the fresh bread is something you don’t forget.  We would travel to the stores and restaurants that were on his route.  When we arrived at Jo’s restaurant, in Taft, i would get a piece of fresh pie or cake from the owner.  One time, again in Taft, i was at the back of truck and a guy rode up on a horse to go inside the market.  He asked me to hold his horse, and of course i said yes.  As soon as the rider walked into the store, this huge animal stepped on my foot and i couldn’t get him off, that hurt. In Ford City, my dad and I would meet Al Green, aka “Whitie”, and have lunch. Al, founded Pizzaville here in Bakersfield, and from time to time still drops into the business, now run by his son.  At the end of the work week, my dad would pay me $10 for the weeks work.  I still have one or two of the Golden Crust key rings and i think i have one of his old work shirts, lots of good memories."

House Majority Leader McCarthy: While the world focuses on the Ebola virus, the Central Valley continues to battle Valley Fever

House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "The health of family and friends is so often at the top of our minds that we toast to good health at dinners, take daily vitamins to keep our immune systems strong, carry around small bottles of de-sanitizer in our bags and pockets, and console those who have fallen ill.  And as we are all aware, the front pages and nightly news programs over the past month continue to lead with the spread of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. I share the concern of many about this disease making its way onto our shores.  Our public health officials are working diligently to ensure any cases that are found here at home are isolated immediately as well as preparing to control and ultimately defeat this horrible illness in the West African countries where it has stricken thousands.

 "We also know that more must be done about indigenous diseases as well.  In the arid Central Valley, we have a disease called Valley Fever that is also a frequent topic in our local and regional news.

 "For decades, so many of our neighbors were stricken with an illness that could not be identified or treated with any certainty that one would be fully healed. Much of the country outside of the Valley, including the medical community, was virtually unaware of it. This led to frustration and concern in our communities over the seemingly helpless fight. It left us with only the blind hope that a loved one wouldn’t contract the disease.

 "It is my goal to change that.

 "Our community symposium last year has focused much needed attention on Valley Fever, and our discussions have not stopped. Recently, I discussed our current effort with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I remain in contact with CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden and NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins as we continue our work to raise awareness about the disease as well as develop our random clinical trials on Valley Fever treatments.

 "Just this week, it was announced that Kat DeBurgh, who has been working with us to develop a continuing medical education program on Valley Fever, will be taking over at the Health Officers Association of California (HOAC) as their Executive Director.  She has been instrumental in HOAC’s efforts to educate California doctors and public health officials on this disease. A Valley Fever CME raises awareness of this disease with medical providers, helping them make earlier diagnoses that can potentially reduce the length and severity of Valley Fever in patients. I look forward to continuing to work with Ms. DeBurgh on Valley Fever and other important public health issues in the Central Valley and California.

 "While the fight against any unknown pathogen can be long, just a year after the Valley Fever symposium, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released positive news that a potential treatment drug for Valley Fever was going to be fast-tracked into clinical trials. In 2012, Congress passed what was called the GAIN Act, which helps provide support for treatments for fungal and bacterial diseases. The news of a potential treatment, nikkomycin Z, entering the critical clinical stages through the GAIN Act highlights the strides our community has made in fighting Valley Fever.

 "More progress must be made and we continue to collect real data on this potential treatment. But progress alone towards curing a disease that was largely off the radar of health officials no more than four years ago gives us reason to be optimistic that our neighbors who are suffering from the disease could soon find relief and that future generations will not have to resort to hope alone in the fight against Valley Fever.

 "Enough cannot be said of the hard work of the people in our community, from Dr. Claudia Jonah, the Einstein family, the Larwoods, Dr. Royce Johnson, and countless others, who make the time and commitment to continuing the fight against a disease that has affected too many of our loved ones.