Thursday, February 12, 2015

Local attorney George Martin plans big music festival, KC Steakhouse to be featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and a Valentine love story

 * … MUSIC: Local attorney George Martin is at it again, this time bringing a huge music festival to Bakersfield on May 23. There is not doubt that Martin, brains behind the highly successful Bakersfield Business Conference, knows what he is doing but I have to wonder about the price to attend. The
cheapest tickets are going for $135 each and "preferred seats" are a whopping $425. That's $270 to $850 per couple just to walk in the door to hear bands like Steppenwolf, Chubby Checker, Asleep at the Wheel and LeAnn Rimes. (Food and drinks are extra) These long-in-the-tooth acts are well beyond their prime (Steppenwolf's first hit was 47 years ago), but if anyone can pull this off, it is George. Yikes.

* … SCAM: Those scam phone calls from the Internal Revenue Agency just won't stop. This from Arnold Johansen: "I came home yesterday to find the phone message light blinking. I hit the play button and heard the following; 'This is an official final notice from the IRS. We are filing a lawsuit unless you immediately call (206) 501-3133. Thank you.' I knew mnothing was pending and I called my CPA. She said it is a scam of course and that her aunt got taken in by the call. You might want to alert your readers."

 * … FOODIE BEST BET: The Padre Hotel bar boasts an excellent grilled cheese sandwich with an added savory twist: a fried egg.

 * … KC STEAKHOUSE: And speaking of food, it looks like Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives will feature our own KC Steakhouse on Friday, March 6. That's the word from the popular downtown restaurant.

 * … VALENTINE: Today's valentine comes courtesy of Beverly Hayden: "The old miniature golf course on Mount Vernon has a special place in my memories. One summer evening my sister Judy and a few classmates from Bakersfield High School had finished playing miniature golf there and were waiting for one of our parents to give us a ride home when a car pulled up full of cute guys from East Bakersfield High. They invited us to go hang out with them, we said no because we wouldn't have had our parents permission. We did exchange phone numbers and I am thankful that the guy I had my eyes on persisted. His name is Rod and that was 57 years ago and we have been married 55 years."

 * … ROBOTICS: Judy Henderson wrote to send kudos to the robotic teams of Centennial and Highland high schools. "The have competed and won their way to the state competition. The matches will be held at the Pasadena Convention Center this Saturday. Each year, an international committee decides what the challenges will be in the robotic  arena. Students throughout the world then build a robot that can meet the new challenges. These students are tomorrow’s engineers."

 * … MEMORIES: Some memories of old Bakersfield from reader Elinor Grant: "Does anyone else remember when car license plates changed color every other year? One year they would have a black background with orange letters. Then they would switch to an orange background with black letters. Black denoting oil and orange for the California poppies. And mail delibery was twide a day Monday through Saturday. Ours came at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. And during December that included Sunday. At three cents for a letter and a penny for a postcard."

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

American aid worker who died in captivity in Syria pens an emotional letter to her parents, and trying to find reason over the fears of a measles outbreak

 * … KAYLA: One of the most emotional, and inspiring, messages I have read recently was penned by Kayla Mueller, the 26-year-old Arizona woman who died at the hands of the Islamic State militants. After her death was confirmed (she was kidnapped while working as an aid worker in Syria) her
parents released a letter she wrote while held captive. In part it read:  "If you could say I have 'suffered' at all throughout this whole experience it is only in knowing how much suffering I have put you all through; I will never ask you to forgive me as I do not deserve forgiveness. I remember mom always telling me that all in all in the end the only one you really have is God. I have come to a place in experience where, in every sense of the word, I have surrendered myself to our creator b/c literally there was no else….by God… by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall. I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that even in prison, one can be free. I am grateful. I have come to see that there is good in every situation, sometimes we just have to look for it."

 * … MEASLES: The percentage of Kern County residents who have been vaccinated for measles now sits around 93 percent. That's the word from Steve Schilling, chief executive officer of Clinica Sierra Vista, which provides services to some 200,000 residents in Kern, Fresno and Inyo counties.
Despite the outbreak at Disneyland in Anaheim, Schilling noted that not a single case has been traced to Kern County. By contrast, there are some "micro communities" like in Marin County where parents are resisting vaccinating their children. The vaccination rate in Marin, Schilling speculated, is likely in the 60 to 70 percent range. As for Kern County, Schilling noted he "would not get too panicked about it." Clinica is also a leading provider of putting residents in the Covered California program.

 * … COBBLER: Congratulations to Sam Ames and Keith Barnden for staging an incredibly difficult cross bike race this past week throughout the hills of Kern County. This ridiculously challenging race, called the Rock Cobbler, covered more than 100 miles both on the road and in the dirt and it took most of the 180 riders a full eight hours to complete. It attracted ultra cyclists from across the west and and SamBarn (that's the name of the company run by Ames and Barnden) once again proved itself worthy of hosting a first class event.

* … BIGGAR: A small clarification on an item involving the late David Biggar and some property he owned downtown. This from his son, Bruce Biggar. "My father, David Biggar, purchased the property in the early 1950s when he began his construction company. The building to the north, Panda Palace, was constructed by Blue Chip and they originally occupied the entire building. My uncle, Whitney Biggar, had his office at corner of Stockdale Highway and Real Road, present site of the 7-Eleven. In the early 1960s, the office was moved to the south when my uncle sold the corner for the convenience store."

  * … LANDSCAPING: Betsy Gosling wrote about thje lush new landscaping on Buena Vista Road. "It is beautiful and lush, but I'm wondering, are they using a drip system or not, did the city approve this landscaping system without any restrictions on water usage? If the city isn't restricting use of water by these companies building homes and adding landscaping, what are they thinking? Are they wearing blinders? This is very poor planning by everyone, unless they are using a drip system.  s the city just ignoring the fact that we are in a terrible, and I do mean TERRIBLE, drought?  If the city is going to close the spray parks, they should certainly be restricting landscaping."

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Will NBC anchor Brian Williams survive the firestorm over his inflated memory about what happened a decade ago? And some more walks down memory lane about old Bakersfield

* … ANCHOR: NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, caught in a lie about being on a
helicopter that came under fire in Iraq a decade ago, is off the air for now as the network conducts an internal investigation. And now comes word that Williams may have exaggerated his reporting from Hurricane Katrina, where he recounted seeing bodies floating down the street outside his French Quarter hotel. The problem: the French Quarter was never flooded during Katrina. Williams has been pilliored on social media, prompting this thought from the New York Times' Maureen Dowd: "Social media — the genre that helped make the TV evening news irrelevant by showing us that we don’t need someone to tell us every night what happened that day — was gutting the institution further. Although Williams’s determination to wrap himself in others’ valor is indefensible, it seems almost redundant to gnaw on his bones, given the fact that the Internet has already taken down a much larger target: the long-ingrained automatic impulse to turn on the TV when news happens."

* … ACHIEVER: Kudos to Victoria Cody, a 2009 graduate of Garces Memorial High School and a recent graduate from the University of Southern California. The English major was appointed young alumni counsel at USC and she also serves as the vice president of the local alumni chapter.

 * … HONOR FLIGHT: The folks who run the Kern County Honor Flights are looking for World War II veterans for a spring trip to Washington, D.C. If you know a deserving veteran, call (661) 204-9680.

 * … SERVICE: Helen Venosdel wrote to give a big shout out to some great customer service over at Rosedale Automotive. "We have dealt with Julie and Bruce at Rosedale Automotive for years, and they are not only professionals, but very compassionate people," she wrote. "We brought my sister's car up from LA because we wanted to help her with smog compliance. They spent two days on phone calls and then yesterday morning examining the vehicle. When we determined the extensive repairs needed to smog it were not worth it, Bruce and Julie did not charge us for all their time and effort. I am grateful to deal with such amazing people at a superior business!"

 * … GOLF: Yet another reader recalls the old miniature golf courses. Said Irene Randolph: "I recall Harvey Richey's miniature golf course on Oak Street that adjoined Young's Market back parking lot.  Part of it became Whitney-Biggar general contractors, part of the back was Blue Chips Stamps. Today Barnett Superior Tire,  California Keyboards, and Panda Palace occupied the former miniature golf course."

 * … MEMORIES: Today's walk down memory lane comes from reader David Clark. "I love your blog about memory lane and wanted to add one more. When I was in elementary school in the 1960s there was a county dump at the southeast corner of Highway 65 and James Road. I lived in Oildale and a boy down the street from me had some pet pigeons. One day his mother decided the pigeons were too messy and told us to put them in a box and she drove us out to the dump to let them go. There was a large flock of pigeons that lived at the dump so we thought they would like it there. We let them go at the dump and drove directly home; we lived on DeVore Street so it didn’t take very long to get home.  By the time we got back the pigeons were already back at his house. I guess that is why they are called homing pigeons."

 * … MORE MEMORIES: And finally, Rebecca Wyatt submitted this thought from her father, Rudy C. Wyatt. "My dad was a student at Bakersfield High School when his art teacher, Mrs. Emerson, commissioned him to prepare identification signs for the holes on this miniature golf course (on Brundage and Oak streest). Mr. Battastoni, the owner of the golf course, had a contest to name the holes. My Dad entered the name, 'Triple Whammy' the tri-level hole, the most difficult hole in the course; he won a season pass and had many pleasant memories on summer nights at the golf course. My dad recalled another hole that looked like a volcano named 'The Stromboli.'"