Thursday, June 4, 2015

New smart TVs will start to resemble our cell phones as consumers move away from traditional programming, and more criticism of Cal Water over its confusing drought decisions

 * ... MOBILE: Get ready for a whole new line of "smart TVs" designed to leverage the growing time we spend on our mobile devices. The new flat screen TVs, from manufacturers like Sharp, Samsung, Sony and Insignia, are designed to take advantage of a growing trend by consumers to ditch traditional TV programming, which has been in a long slow slide that is now accelerating. As noted in The Wall Street Journal, the share of traditional network TV and local programming is
quickly eroding as consumers opt for devices like Roku and Apple TV to access Netflix and other programming on their mobile devices. TV manufacturers are eager to capitalize on alternative and mobile programming, and they say the new TVs will begin to look more like the screens of our cell phones.

 * ... DROUGHT: I wrote earlier wondering why Cal Water Company does not provide a rebate for artificial turn, which drew this response from David Crabtree: "I have been a certified water auditor for over 20 years and landscape contractor for over 30 years. It is a head-scratcher why the $1 rebate from California Water Service does not apply to artificial turf, which is truly a no water element.  I do agree converting turf to drought tolerant landscape is a positive change for water conservation and done properly is visually appealing. But just as important is changing popup spray irrigation to either drip or bubbler application to irrigate your drought tolerant plants. Also, what is puzzling to me is unlimited time allowed for watering on odd and even days. Without that restriction, in some cases, more water is being applied than before the restrictions."

 * ... MORE DROUGHT: And David George added this: "I echo Heather Van Arkle's confusion. We are working with a landscaper to replace our front lawn with flagstone and artificial turf. After reading the guidelines, we will put drought tolerant planting where the turf was supposed to be.  Not sure how that will save as much water, but those are the guidelines.  ut here is the bigger issue. I have been attempting to fill out an online application, which is the only way to get my plan approved.  Unfortunately the website is not up and running. According to our local Cal Water office, it will be one to two weeks before the system is ready. Seems it would have been smarter to get the system working before all the hype about rebates."

 * ... CROSSING: This from reader Ronald Belair: "Just a small concern I have. The local railroad crossings at Hughes Lane, White Lane, Gosford Road and New Stine have all been well repaired and are smooth to vehicle traffic. However the crossing on District Boulevard just west of New Stine is in very bad shape, and is in much need of attention. Anything that you do to see if this can be remedied would certainly be appreciated. After all there is much more traffic on District than on Hughes."

* ... BAD FORM: Jamie Butow was at home in the southwest when she spotted three teenagers in a red Honda Pilot circle her cul-de-sac and stop in front of her house. "They proceeded to throw several soda cans, plastic water bottles, and other assorted trash out the window and into the street and then drove off. On a work call, I was stuck. What %@#*! jerks!" But what happened next is enough to warm any mother's heart. "Then my 11-year-old son, who also saw them, went out and picked up all the trash they left behind."

 * ... GOOD FORM: And here is a shoutout from Michelle Corson to some folks who always do good work: "I saw Bakersfield City Animal Control in action today and they have a heart wrenching job. They responded to calls from me and my colleagues at our workplace about two stray dogs today.  After much effort, they were only able to catch one of the dogs. Tears filled my eyes as I watched this worker try to help these forgotten, hungry, thirsty dogs. Thanks for their hard work, a job I could not do."

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

More confusion over new rules on the California drought, Mexicali closes its two locations to honor Esther Gamez, and celebrating CSUB's run in the college baseball regional playoffs

 * ... DROUGHT: Here is a real head scratcher, compliments of Heather Van Arkel who recently replaced her lawn with artificial turn. "California Water Service recently sent out an informational flyer on water use during the drought. I read it thoroughly and was excited to read that they are now offering a new Turf Replacement rebate which 'provides a $1 rebate per square foot of turf that is
removed and replaced with low-water-use landscaping. This rebate applies to turf replaced between January 1 and December 31, 2015, or until rebate funds are depleted which means I will qualify as we put in our artificial turf in January. (And, like Terry Stoler in your column today, we love it!)
But then my bubble was burst as I read the next sentence which said 'Replacement with artificial turf is not eligible.' What is artificial turf if not 'low-water-use?' It is, in fact, no-water-use! A call to the Drought Call Center left the agent as perplexed as me - she had no idea why artificial turf was excluded."

* ... MEXICALI: The family that owns Mexicali and Mexicali West have decided to shut both restaurants down today (Wednesday) in honor of the late Esther Gamez, one of the owners who passed away at the age of 84. This one-day closure is a fitting tribute to a woman who meant so much not only to the restaurants, but to the community as well.

 * ... SPOTTED: On Twitter was this missive: "Have you ever listened to somebody speak and wonder who ties their shoelaces for them?"

* ... TRADER JOE'S: I read the other day that Whole Foods is getting to roll out a smaller, cheaper retail store that will compete with Trader Joe's. I know some folks in the Northeast and downtown who would kill to have a new neighborhood market.

 * ... RUNNERS: How fun was it watching the CSUB baseball team make it to the College World Series regional playoffs? None of this would have been possible without the effort that President Horace Mitchell and his team put into taking Cal State to Division 1, which was quite controversial at the time. There is not doubt that having the Runners play teams like UCLA and Ole Miss has elevated the program to an entirely different level.

 * ... FOODIE: I finally stopped by the new Johnny Garlic's, TV host Guy Fieri's new restaurant out at the Marketplace. Bakersfield always goes crazy over new restaurants and it took a couple months before the crowds died down and I could land a table without a 90-minute wait. My favorite: the lamb slider appetizers that include a thin slice of cucumber to give it that extra crunch.

 * ... THEATERS: I promised no more posts on old theaters in town, but this note from Bill Varner was too good to resist. He wrote that in the 1930s, the old Granada Theater in east Bakersfield was occasionally converted into a boxing ring. "There was a full card of preliminary bouts with a main event, featuring two local lightweights, Charly Sullivan and my brother Pat Varner. All went well (until) the middle round of the main event the lights went out. The crowd was stunned but I think most of them grabbed their wallets wondering what was happening. The lights were back on in a few minutes... Charly won the decision. I don't if that was the end of the Granada."

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Esther Gamez, whose family founded and owns Mexicali Restaurant, passes away leaving a legacy of grace and kindness, while another young waitress at The Mark shows some real class

* ... ESTHER: Our community lost a terrific person recently with the passing of Esther Gamez, a daughter of the founders of Mexicali restaurant and quite possibly one of the most gracious, and kind, people I have been fortunate to have met. She was 84. Esther was a Bakersfield success story, born during the
Great Depression when women were not expected to run businesses. After her parents founded Mexicali, she and her three sisters worked as waitresses while their mother worked in the kitchen. In her early years she ran her own business on Chester Avenue called the Chili King, but later returned to Mexicali. Later she threw herself into the community, volunteering for too many good causes and non-profits to list here. If a life can be measured by sheer kindness and grace, then Esther's was a life fulfilled.

 * ... SPOTTED: A young woman is in Valley Plaza wearing a T-shirt with this message: "I like long romantic walks to the bank."

 * … GOOD FORM: Isn't it surprising how a simple act of kindness can lead to such positive emotions? I recently lost a pair of my favorite sunglasses and I had no idea where they were. Then, to my surprise, six weeks later, hostess Crystal Garcia at The Mark Restaurant on 19th Street downtown surprised me by saying she had found them on my table and put them away for me for whenever I came back. Now that, friends, is white glove service by a young lady who goes above and beyond.

 * ... FRONT TRUNK: Tom Koski read my posted about the owner of a $300,000 McLaren spotted at Costco loading groceries in his front trunk. "I also owned a car where I loaded groceries camping supplies and other items into what would normally be the engine compartment, but the car did not cost $300,000. I think that I payed a little less than $3,000 for my first new car, a 1973 VW Bug."

* ... DROUGHT: Have you ever been tempted to install artificial grass? Terry Stoler did so about three years ago, using Dan Monji to install fake grass at the family's weekend home in New Cuyama. "And we love it!" she said. "We put native oaks on drip to soften up the landscape and there were tons of rocks on the place to fill in the flower beds. I don’t miss the flowers or shrubs. The Monji firm has great designers that know how to soften the look of artificial turf. Yes they have the more natural artificial turf with some blades of brown. The first shock was the price. Yes it is pricy. However when you think about the maintenance on real grass it turns that around pretty quickly. Add up the mowing, fertilizing, water costs and weeding. There are no weeds or gophers or insects! I think it raises the value and salability of a home... As farmers our water has been cut back to barely maintenance of our crops. Hope people will weigh the options. Our population continues to grow. California will never have enough water for our past lifestyles."

 * ... ACHIEVER: Hats off to Michelle Heredia, a freshman at East Bakersfield High School, who swam on the varsity swimming team. Said proud grandparent Johnnie Adams: "She won three medals and a certificate as most improved athlete. She also plays violin in the orchestra."