Thursday, April 16, 2015

So what makes you happy? A British study finds it is not wealth but rather the small things in life that we often take for granted. And more on those pesky moths that have invaded Bakersfield

* …. HAPPINESS: I loved the recent British healthcare study on the sources of true happiness. As expected, it wasn't wealth or a fast car that makes us happy, but rather the small things. The company
surveyed more than 2,000 people and found the top six things that trigger happiness: sleeping in a freshly-made bed; feeling the sun on your face; people saying "thank you" or a random act of kindness from a stranger; finding money in unexpected places; having time to yourself and laughing so hard it hurts. Here are a few items I would add: the soft purr of a cat or a face lick from your dog, dinner with friends, or those rare occasions when your children call out of the blue just to say hello.

* … MOTHS: Well, my little item on moths triggered a lot of response, and it appears there isn't a neighborhood in town that isn't battling an invasion of the pesky pests. "I am almost afraid to go outside," said Nancy Burciaga, "and I carry a fly swatter with me." And Leslie Duplan, who lives in Bear Valley Springs, added this: "I've had at least 30 in the house over a two week period. Went to my garage door yesterday and found another 12 or so just lying there. Took a broom to sweep them out and lo and behold most started to fly away… thought they were dead. Thankfully they don't seem
to cause any problems, just a nuisance."

 * … MORE MOTHS: I spoke with Cesar Diaz, owner of Best Pest control, who told me all this is likely a combination of the drought and a mild winter. "Moths don't do well in extreme cold and we had a really mild winter, so we are paying for that now," he said. In addition to moths, Diaz said there has been an explosion of other pests as well (ticks, fleas etc) for the same reasons. Diaz said the type of moth he has been seeing is called the 'willow moth.'

 * … BAD FORM: So what is the new protocal for draining swimming pools in this drought? Cathie Morris had this view: "If you have ever witnessed a swimming pool being drained into a gutter, you can visualize the amount of water I have seen coming from a neighbor’s yard on several consecutive mornings. I initially assumed that the neighbor didn’t know about the massive amount of sprinkler runoff because I was out walking before dawn when this occurred. That afternoon, I nicely let the resident know, as I felt she were not aware of the issue. I was thanked, and curtly told that she would check on it. Since the flow of gutter water has continued since then, it is obvious that either the residents are not aware of our water crisis or that they just don’t care. Either way, it’s very frustrating and the waste is disgusting, if not criminal."

 * … SCAMS: The number of telephone scams around the deadline for income taxes is off the charts, so my advice is: ignore them. This note from reader Bill Upshaw is typical: "I was told that the U.S. Treasury would take action against me if I did not return their call. I would have to face a federal magistrate to answer the charges. The call was a recording with a foreign accent. The area code was 573, which is in Missouri."

 * … NUN RUN: And finally, I am happy to help the good people over at the Our Lady of Guadalupe School publicize their annual Nun Run and Family Picnic which will be held next Saturday, April 25, at the school's new site at 4600 East Brundage Lane. The run (or walk) starts at 10 a.m. and the picnic an hour later. Call the school for more details, (661) 323-6059.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Washington Post debunks more scare tactics trying to link hyrdraulic fracturing with California's drought, and get readty for the second annual Macaroni and Cheese Festival this Saturday at Cal State Bakersfield

 * … FRACKING: The latest attempt to mislead the public on hydraulic fracturing is tied to the California drought. The idea - that banning fracking would help deal with the drought - is a spurious notion at best, according to a report in The Washington Post. Said the Post: "Whatever you might think about fracking — and there is ample room for disagreement on this complex issue — it is pretty hard to argue that the amount of
water that the oil and gas technology uses in California reaches a scale sufficient to count as a major drought contributor. Rather, in the grand context of California’s water woes, the numbers appear small indeed." Apparently fracking in California consumes 70 millin gallons of water a year, a mere drop in the bucket when NASA estimates it would take 11 trillion gallons to end the drought. "Fracking accounts for 0.00062 percent (or 0.0000062) of the state’s annual freshwater withdrawals," the Post said. "A lot of water? Not in my book. In fact, I thought there was an error – that the figure should have been 70M gallons per day." But the group called Californians Against Fracking has never let the facts get in the way of a good narrative.

 * … MAC N CHEESE: Tickets are still available for the second annual Macaroni and Cheese festival coming up this Saturday. Organizers are promising more food, a greater wine and beer selection, shorter lines and more shade. The event runs from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Cal State Bakersfield amphitheater. There will be 12 wineries represented, craft beer and plenty of restaurants showing off their versions of macaroni and cheese. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased in advance at

 * … MOTHS: Is anyone else facing an explosion of moths in their homes? I can't remember a year when the moth infestation has been as bad as this year.

* … HOT TUBS: Fred Valenzano read about the folks who dump old hot tubs off Round Mountain Road and had this helpful tip. "I posted mine as FREE on Craigslist and had a line of people clamoring to take it away. Talked to a man who said he rehabs and resells them, somewhere in the Taft area. He agreed to come over that afternoon and pick it up. A group of three guys with a small old pickup truck and a handful of 2-inch PVC pipes went into my backyard. They worked like ancient Egyptians to tilt it and roll it across the yard, then tip it up onto the bed of the truck. In 30 minutes I was taking a picture of it sailing down my street. Much easier than dumping it anywhere."

 * … NORTH-SOUTH: And lastly, Gilber Alemao offered this answer to the point at which our city is divided. "To answer your poll, the dividing line is the Stockdale Hwy/Brundage Lane alignment. It is at this location the mailing addresses are at their lowest point increasing northward as well as southward but as South. Such as: Chester Avenue/South Chester Avenue, Union Avenue/South Union Avenue, Real Road/South Real Road, etc."

 * … SCAMS: A new day and a new scam. This from William Black: "Just wanted to let you know that there is a new scam hitting our area. Caller states they are from the Department of Legal Affairs and gave an 949 area code as a call back number.  I was 'informed' that unless I call back (and I should hire an attorney) that legal action would be taken."

Supper time at Hart Park: A heron dines on a local squirrel

 A terrific series of pictures by Californian photographer Felix Adamo …. enjoy.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

California farmers are caught flat footed and on the defensive in the fight over water, almonds become the new bogeyman and no doubt local water agencies will be the next targets

 * … DROUGHT: The long drought and the fight over water has revealed a glaring weakness facing California farmers: as a group they have done a terrible job of explaining the importance
of what they do. Remember when the oil and gas industry was caught flatfooted when the anti-fossil fuel crowd attacked hydraulic fracturing using half-truths and junk science? Well thanks to the drought, our local farmers find themselves in the exact same spot, and the almond crop is the new bogeyman. (And you can bet that the next target will be the alphabet soup of hundreds of local and state water agencies that buy, sell and bank water, a group that up to this point has flown largely under the radar) All these groups - oil, farming and water agencies - would do well to sharpen their messages and get in front of the inevitable second guessing that is coming their way. Do we really want Mother Jones setting the agenda about what crops we can grow, and where? And speaking of inaccuracies, one widely used statistic (that farmers use 80 percent of the state's available water) turns out to be incorrect. In fact, farmers use 41 percent of the available water in the state, and an equal or greater amount goes for environmental purposes like protecting endangered species. Urban sources use just 10 percent of the supply

 * … PRODUCE: And speaking of the Central Valley bread basket, it is true that almonds consume a lot of water but so do many other crops, including broccoli, not to mention the water consumed in beef production. Almond growers, by the way, have reduced their water use per pound of almond production by 33 percent in the past 20 years. And there is this: a recent U.S. Davis report cited "tree crops:" (almonds, pitachios etc) as the perfect high value crop for California. Finally, consider these statistics: 99 percent of all the artichokes and almonds produced in the United States come from California, as does 98 percent of garlic, 96 percent of tomatoes, 96 percent of olives and 92 percent of strawberries, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

 * … GOOD FORM: Erin Kloepper had some praise for one of my favorite eateries in town: "Wanted to share a great experience my husband Matt and I had at Urrichio's last night.
Date nights are few and far between for us, but when we do get to go out on the town, we support our local restaurants. My husband made us a reservation at Urrichio's, and while our experiences there have always been good ones, this particular evening was special. We mentioned to Claire we were on a date night, and she ensured that her staff treated us like royalty.  Delicious food that is fairly priced, and customer service that can't be beat!"

 * … BAD FORM: Here are a few things I spotted while on a bike ride on Round Mountain Road: two discarded sofas, soiled old carpeting, a TV set and yes, yet another huge jacuzzi unceremoniously left on the side of the road.

 * … NORTH HIGH: Here's a memory of those drive-ins from our past from Jim Smith: "Richard, love it when you mention the early days of North High. Best I remember, the name of the drive-in on North Chester was Art De Cews. Famous for its cherry Cokes and burgers and car hops, it was the place to be after school and on weekends."

* … POLL: Jim VanderZwan would like some input on this question: "I need help settling a debate I’ve been having with some of my fellow Bakersfieldians and hoped TBC could help. What would generally be considered the dividing line of north and south Bakersfield: Stockdale Highway/58 or Rosedale Highway/24th Street/178?  Of course I know what the correct answer is, but I would like to get some independent verification."