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.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Counting our blessings during this Thanksgiving week, hoping for rain and props to a Boy Scout and a Rotary Club for helping those in need

 * … GIVING THANKS: Life can be chaotic and challenging, and sometimes heart breaking, but we all have our lists of things to be thankful for in this world. Among mine this Thanksgiving: I am blessed
with a core group of friends who have been there to listen, support, guide and challenge me; I have two grown daughters, Bakersfield girls them both, who are off making their own way in the world; I have a rewarding job and live in a town I proudly call home; I have my health that I work every day to maintain; I have the memories of a mother who had no equal; and finally I have a 9-year-old Tabby cat whose soft purr and head nudges wake me each morning. To ask for more would border on pure greed.

 * … RAIN: Do we dare expect more rain like the downpour we experienced over Halloween? The National Weather Service is predicting "a potential significant rain event for Southern California Sunday through Tuesday." Of course, a lot can change over the next week but let's keep those positive thoughts for another drenching.

 * … SPOTTED: Posted on Facebook by Larkin Tackett, son of the late Wendy Wayne and now an educator in Austin, Texas: "Our nation could benefit from extra servings of empathy, humility, and listening."

* … NORTH ROTARY: Hats off to the Bakersfield North Rotary, North High School Interact Clubs, Standard School District and the Bakersfield Jam who are joining together to feed 350 North of the River families for Thanksgiving. This is the 13th year that Bakersfield North Rotary has raised money for their Thanksgiving Basket project. It is a favorite project among Bakersfield North Rotarians who donate funds for baskets as well as securing corporate donations to ensure that these families have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

 * … GOOD FORM: And kudos to 14-year-old Fruitville Jr. High student Travis Wilkinson who completed his Eagle Scout Project for HALT Rescue. The project used wooden pallets, which Travis  and his fellow scouts from TROOP 147 transformed as platforms to elevate dog houses at the kennel , which serves as a temporary home for HALT's adoptable large breed dogs.

 * … MEMORIES:  Ken Barnes wrote to comment on a photo published in The Californian of a train loaded with military vehicles. "When I was twelve years old and attending Beardsley Elementary
school in 1951 I saw the same sight on the railway behind the school during recess one morning. The entire train was loaded with flatcars with military tanks on them headed to the Bay Area for shipment to Korea, I guess. It was a real scary sight to someone my age at that time."

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Monday Bako Bits: burglaries and thefts spike as we head into the holiday season and residents of Lake Isabella mark the passing of Lloyd "Country" Huckleberry

* … CRIME: We have entered the high crime season as we head toward Thanksgiving and
Christmas. I have heard reports of packages being stolen off porches and of residential burglaries, from the Bakersfield Country Club area to downtown and out to Seven Oaks. In Westchester, thieves made off with the wheels of two newer trucks, and in La Cresta two friends chased a young man who was spotted stealing some packages just delivered by a United Parcel Service truck.

* … BAD FORM: Keitha Turner was westbound on Highway 178 last week when she found herself behind a late model Mazda CX5 with a vanity plate including the word "HUG." Said Keitha:
"As we approached the M Street signal the driver rolled down her window and threw a bright gold food wrapper out  Obviously she didn't care about being seen, and I thought being called out in your column might just embarrass her into thinking twice before the next time threw trash onto the roadway."

 * … TRIBUTE: Patricia Basset wrote to remember a longtime resident of Lake Isabella, Lloyd "Country" Huckleberry. "He was amazing in that he never forgot a person's name, even after only meeting them one time, and he always stopped to visit with everyone he knew - including buying their breakfast or lunches as he went out the door. Country unhesitatingly helped others who needed his help and he was the first person to volunteer if he saw a problem. Country was one of the WW II vets that flew to Washington, D.C. for the ceremonies there, and he had lived a very full life before doing that. Country was not just a man who knew no strangers, but in his 87 years he had been a top-notch pilot, a Navy underwater demolitionist, a rodeo rider, a professional auctioneer, and a heavy equipment owner and operator.  He also was active in his motorcycle group right up to the end and could be seen driving that big old bike all around town at 87 years of age. The church was SRO for his service. We in Lake Isabella lost a good man and a terrific friend with his passing."

* … PIE RUN: One last reminder for all of you who have never done the Thanksgiving morning Pie Run. This is one of our town's signature, fun events and all you have to do is rise early and join the fun. Is there a better way to start the holiday than a brisk morning walk or run? Bring a pie and be ready to roll at 6 a.m. Pie Run founder John Rous will signal the start. Simply follow the car lights to the starting point.

 * … MEA CULPA: We goofed badly in printing an advertisement last week regarding folks who contributed to the Wounded Heroes Fund. At the Diamond Level, we misspelled the last name of the Don. C. and Diane Lake family. The Lake family is one of the most generous in our community, giving quietly and constantly. Our apologies.