Friday, December 19, 2014

Rep. Kevin McCarthy: At this time of the year, let us never forget those in uniform at home and abroad …

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

 "Merry Christmas! During the rush to get and wrap last-minute gifts and see extended family, let us not forget the true meaning of the Christmas season – the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and the blessings of God’s love for all of us.

 "We celebrate Christmas not just for the time to be with our families and spread a little joy in the world, but we also remember that our truest opportunity for happiness and peace comes through Jesus Christ, whose birth we will celebrate in just a few days. He is the reason why this season is so joyful.

  "In our daily lives, we strive to mimic the example that Jesus taught us and the Christmas season marks the start of a new year to renew this commitment to others. As Jesus teaches, we are meant to serve others and let us continue to help those in need in our community.

  "Few emulate this more than the men and women in uniform home and abroad, and the intelligence professionals and diplomats who are spending this Christmas season away from their families in defense of our country and the freedoms we enjoy.  We thank them and their families every day for your sacrifice. They may not be home for Christmas, but their service gives the rest of America the opportunity to celebrate this season in peace and security. We should continue to keep these individuals and their families in our thoughts and prayers.

Judy and I and our entire family wish everyone the merriest Christmas, and a happy New Year.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Instead of caving to the North Korean cyber bullies, let's show The Interview at Rabobank Arena and see if we can fill the house, and New York moves to ban hydraulic fracturing

 * … THE INTERVIEW: The idea that threats from a rogue North Korean state could force Sony Pictures to cancel the release of the Seth Rogan comedy The Interview should concern us all. Who
cares about the quality of the movie - early reviews have not been kind - but Americans hate the idea of caving to any dictator, much less the erratic Kim Jong Un. Here's an idea: screen the movie locally at Rabobank Arena, charge $5 a ticket and give the proceeds to local charities. Trust me, we could pack the house.

 * … FRACKING: The state of New York is on the verge of banning hydraulic fracturing, making Gov. Andrew Cuomo one of the first major politicians to come down on the side of environmentalist on the issue. All this comes as yet another federal study found fracking relatively safe. Still, those opposed to the process continue to argue that the process is dangerous and should be banned or highly regulated.

* … BREAK-INS: Over the course of a recent lunch I learned of: United Parcel Service packages being stolen in Seven Oaks, two smashed windows of cars in Rivera Westchester (in one case someone smoked a cigarette in the car after breaking its window), a home burglary in the Northwest near Riverlakes and a ransacked car in the Northeast near Lowe's. It's that time of year.

 * … GOOD FORM: Edith Lyon called and left a message for me commending two women who rescued an elderly dog out of a busy road recently. The dog, who turned out to be 15 years old, was eventually reunited with its owner despite the fact it had no collar and was not micro chipped. "She was only wearing a bandana and was very sweet," she said. "This should be a lesson that we all need to micro-chip our pets."

 * … SPOTTED: Hats off to the middle aged woman who regularly walks the bluffs off Panorama Drive picking up the discarded fast food wrappers that so many people carelessly leave behind.

 * … OVERHEARD: In a local restaurant a young mother is talking to a friend about Christmas: "She wants an iTouch for Christmas. That's $200! She is 7 years old! What happened to Barbies?"

 * … BAD FORM: My life flashed before my eyes in a split second this week when a late model black sedan came within a few feet of broadsiding my Subaru at the intersection of 19th Street and Chester Avenue. The driver was not speeding but apparently was distracted  (talking on the cell phone? texting?) as he/she blew through the stop light. It's time we all put the cell phones down and pay attention.

 * … BRITISH: Did you know that there was an organization in town called the Sir Edward Elgar Chapter of the Daughters of the British Empire? I am told the ladies held their final meeting on December 17. Said Constance Corbell: "The Bakersfield chapter was started in 1965 with approximately 100 members.  At the closing meeting we had eight members left, oldest being 97 and youngest 78. The Daughters of the British Empire, a philanthropic organization, was founded in 1909 for women of British or British Commonwealth birth. Over the years the local chapter has donated funds to the British Retirement Home in Sierra Madre near Los Angeles and also to local charities."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The top reasons people hate flying: rear seat kickers, misbehaving children, body odor and people who take off their shoes and socks. And will cyber threats keep you from viewing the new Seth Rogan comedy The Interview?

 * … AIR TRAVEL: What do you think is the most annoying thing about air travel? There is plenty to complain about (cramped seats, delays, high prices, baggage fees) but according to a new national
survey, the most annoying travelers are the "rear seat kickers" followed by parents who allow their children the run of the cabin. In third place were passengers with horrific body odor. My personal beef: folks who take off their shoes and socks while they sit next to you.

 * … THREAT: The people who hacked Sony Pictures Entertainment are threatening an attack on movie theaters that show the Seth Rogan comedy The Interview, based on a screenplay revolving around a scheme to kill North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un. The hackers have already released a boatload of embarrassing personal emails and are promising a "Christmas surprise" with even more data. This is cyber bullying at its worst and - however good or bad the movie is - I hope this doesn't intimidate people from attending.

* … ACHIEVER: Hats off to Malcolm Rivera, a 2013 graduate of Arvin High School and a recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, which will enable him to double major in medieval studies and political science with a minor in Latin. Malcolm was among the students who represented California at the 2013 National 'We The People competition' in Washington, DC. and he now attends UC Davis.

 * … EAST HIGH: Many people aren't aware that East High School is home to an impressive collection of art, donated to the school over the years. Mike Warner, the school's archiving teacher, reached out to explain what happened to the art.  "The paintings were always in the library," he said. "Their significance and background had been lost over time. Several of them were in a storage closet in the library, while others were on display (but neglected.) Thanks to the efforts of librarian Dawn Dobie and Principal John Gibson the paintings were appraised and cleaned up. We discovered that we do indeed have a valuable collection of original artwork. Once the paintings were cleaned they were warehoused for a few years by the Kern High School District. Now all of the paintings are once again on display in the EBHS library. The public is invited to check in at the front office and visit the library during regular school hours. Since our library is frequently reserved for school activities, it is a good idea to call ahead. The school’s number is (661) 871-7221."

 * … SPOTTED: On a friend's Twitter feed: "Teens, you should not being getting drunk. You’re annoying enough as it is."

* … KINDNESS: This act of kindness was shared by Cherryl Biggar: "A FedEx truck happened to be driving down our street as we were attempting to load a large chair into our SUV this morning.  The driver stopped, jumped out of truck, ran over to assist, wished us a Merry Christmas, jumped back into his truck and took off. I want to thank the driver, Frank, for the very nice gesture!"

 * … KIWANIS: John and Judy Henderson gave a shout-out to Westchester Kiwanis which recently "took forty-one needy kids shopping at East Hills Walmart. These children came from six different charitable organizations. Chaperones were Kiwanis members, their families and friends. One chaperone came from Aberdeen, Scotland…Yes, good things happen during the holidays."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Despite attempts to save energy, the average American household using the same about of power as it did 40 years ago, and scam artists posing as debt collectors for utilities call on a restaurant owner

 * … ENERGY: I picked up this interesting tidbit in my weekend reading: Despite energy efficient appliances, better windows and an overall focus on reducing our energy consumption, the American
household is using about the same amount of energy it did 40 years ago. Why? It appears that all those savings via energy efficient homes and appliances are being offset by our fondness with power consuming electronics, larger homes and higher ceilings. Said the Wall Street Journal: "Twenty-eight percent of homes built in the 1980s have ceilings higher than eight feed. Now, more than half of new homes have high or vaulted ceilings."

 * … SCAM: The scam artists posting as debt collectors for various utilities are at it again, this time calling local Sonic Drive Ins to intimidate the local managers. Scott A. McMillan is a franchise owner and told me he was out mountain biking when he got a call from his 23rd Street location. "The text stated that a 'Stacey' from Edison had just called and that they were coming to turn off power unless we paid our account current immediately. The amount was $900. I knew intstantly that it was a scam as PGE is our power supplier in Bakersfield, not Edison. I texted her back and told her it was a scam and to not pay anybody even if they came by." Later, McMillan thought he'd have some fun with the scammers so he called Stacey back. "When Stacey answered, she asked how she could help. I thought that was nice that someone was trying to help me. I told her that my store (Sonic name NOT given) had just been called and that I owed some money immediately or my power was going to be shut off. She then proceeded to tell me the name of my restaurant, the phone number and the address…. impressive, I thought. I then asked her if she could look at my account without my account number, as I was not in my office. She confirmed that I had a $900 balance due. I told her that I was sure my account was current and was suprised the balance due was only $900 as my monthly bills this time of year for power are closer to $3,000 per month. She didn't budge from the $900. Well, at this point, I was getting bored with Stacey, so I told her, 'You know Stacey, it's funny. My energy supplier at this location is PGE." Instantly, the phone disconnected and I mean instantly! I was rather bummed with that as I wanted to tell Stacey a few more things."

* … SPOTTED: On Facebook: "Sometimes it’s just better to buy new Tupperware than to risk opening the leftovers."

 * … KINDNESS: Sometimes it is the smallest of gestures that restore our faith in mankind. Angela Barbero shared this:  "The other evening my husband and I purchased lumber at Home Depot on Gosford. We wheeled it to the car and a total stranger came over and said I'll help you with that and he helped my husband load it into the car. We moved to Bakersfield in 2000 and I have always said this town has the nicest people. Thank you again to this kind gentleman."

* … GOOD FORM: Laurie Green wrote to give props to the FFA group over at Frontier High School, where she lives. "Last night the Frontier FFA were Christmas caroling in our neighborhood. They had a truck pulling a flatbed trailer decorated with lots of lights, music playing, and carolers singing. Other students were going door to door, asking for canned goods to donate to the homeless shelter. Even Santa and his helper were walking around greeting people. I was babysitting my little granddaughter and took her outside to enjoy the music and lights. A big thank you to the FFA students for bringing Christmas joy to our neighborhood, as well as doing it to help the homeless. I also want to thank the Frontier students who live in our neighborhood for being very respectful of our yards as they walk to and from school. I live on a corner and have never seen any of them cut across our yard or any other yard, and they never drop any kind of litter. I can't say that about other neighborhoods I have lived in, so their courtesy and respect are very much appreciated."

 * … MEMORIES: This memory of a simpler time comes courtesy of reader Linda Brammer: "Another fond memory of the Bakersfield that is no more:  remember the Christmas decorations that most of the homes on Panorama would put up?  Then the procession of cars would start at about north Union Ave and Columbus Ave to drive slowly by all the homes and view the decorations.  Sadly, that had to be discontinued due to vandalism, but it’s still a fond memory of Christmas in Bakersfield."