Friday, September 11, 2015

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy: we will never forget 9-11

On this anniversary of the 9-11-01 terrorist attacks, this note from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy:

 "September 11, 2001 is a day that we as a nation will never forget.  We can all remember where we were when we heard news of the attacks. And all of us watched in horror and disbelief as the images played throughout the day on television.  The world dramatically changed from that day on.

"Today, we honor the innocent lives lost in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania and we remember the incredible acts of bravery and selflessness we witnessed as our fellow Americans put their own lives in grave danger to protect and rescue the innocent victims.

"The attack on September 11 was a cowardly attack on the values we stand for as Americans, but our country will always stand for freedom and we will always fight for liberty.  The men and women in our armed forces and intelligence communities have been steadfast in the mission to defeat the terrorists responsible for the attacks and to keep our families safe at home.

 "Let us always remember all those who have been directly or indirectly affected by the events of that fateful day. Maintaining our nation as the beacon of freedom in the world is our duty as we honor the lives lost.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

City of Bakersfield gets serious about imposing fines during the drought, and a couple awakes to find a homeless person camping in their backyard

 * ... DROUGHT: Now that the city has put us on notice that it is getting serious about water restrictions by threatening abusers with fines, let's see if anyone is listening. One thing seems to be clear: either folks are still confused about the mandated watering times or people just aren't paying attention. Go anywhere in town and you will see sprinklers running during the day (a no-no) and on the wrong day of the week (another no-no). The city is looking at fines of $50 for the first offend, $150 for the second and anywhere from $250 to $1,000 for a third during the same calendar year.

* ... CRIME: Ever wake up to find a homeless man camping in your backyard? A downtown homeowner did, and here is his story: "As my wife and I started cooking dinner this evening, I went out to the garage to get some things from the fridge out there. I jumped up about 10-feet high when I found a homeless guy in our garage. He was sitting down drinking one of the beers from the fridge. Fortunately, he was so completely inebriated that he passed out after two words and was incapable of being belligerent. BPD came out and arrested him for trespassing. After running a check on him, BPD told me he had been arrested two nights ago on 19th Street for the same sort of trespass! While waiting for BPD to arrive, I noticed the trespasser had eaten an orange from our tree, drank water from our garden hose, laid in our outdoor furniture, threw lemons in our pool, and drank a couple sodas from the fridge. He had been here for quite awhile during the day. After reflecting on similar odd findings my wife and I have encountered in the past few weeks, I am beginning to think he may have been here before!"

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Just got 30 minutes of cardio trying to pick up an ice cube from the kitchen floor."

 * ... TRASH: Is Bakersfield any better or worse than anyplace else when it comes to trash and litter? Bryan Williams had this take: "I am fresh off a trip to San Francisco this past weekend. Yes, the Emerald of the West Coast was just as trashy, if not more so, than here. I travel to the Los Angeles area nearly every weekend to see family, and yep - there is trash all over the 405, and the streets of West Los Angeles, Torrance, and Long Beach. Littering is an inherent (if unfortunate) human trait.  It's everywhere. Bakersfield is no less trashy than some of the other cities in our Golden State that people seem to hold on a cleanliness pedestal, and give a pass.  Could it be we get a bum wrap because our beloved town is not on the coast and instead in a hot, dusty bowl? My hat is off to the city of Bakersfield, the Bakersfield Homeless Center, the Kern County Sheriff, and the inmates from Lerdo, along with Caltrans, that are regularly picking up trash along our roadways. Give Jon Enriquez with Keep Bakersfield Beautiful a call - he'll fill you in on all the good work our public and private entities are doing to keep Bakersfield a clean, lovely, inland city."

 * ... GOOD CAUSE: If you need a reason to attend East Rotary's "An Elegant Evening of Wine" look no further than the scholarships it provides for needy students who want a higher education. Over the last 25 years, this event has helped support the Joe Alexander Memorial Scholarship Foundation which has helped so many students over the years. The Foundation is on track to amass a corpus of $1,000,000 to help students. The event is planned for Saturday, Sept. 26, at the downtown home of Dr. Mark and Sue Ashley.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Looking for the most affordable place to retire? Who knew that Medellin, Colombia, would appear on the list, celebrating a new sushi place and getting ready for a huge music festival in town

 * ... RETIREMENT: Thinking about retirement and weary of high California taxes and housing costs? The AARP has a new list of the cheapest and best places to retire, and some of these may
surprise you. Austin, Tx., came in No. 1 but that's not surprise given that Texas is the top destination for folks leaving California. Then comes Tuscon, Az., followed by Medillin, Colombia, a locale best known as the hometown of the notorious (and thankfully dead) Pablo Escobar, formerly head of the Colombian drug cartel. Other cities listed included St. George, Utah, Savannah, Ga., St. Augustine, Fla., Bloomington, Ind., and Huntsville, Ala. (file photo of Medellin, Colombia)

* ... TRASH: This note from a man who recently moved back to Bakersfield pretty much speaks for me: "Bakersfield pride.... or perhaps a lack of it. This is what I see and think of as I drive down various streets, not only in Bakersfield but, in Kern County. I moved back recently after a 25 year absence and am appalled at the amount of litter lining our roads and highways. I can't remember EVER seeing a trashier town. What happened to Bakersfield pride? Did it go the way of the dinosaur? Does anyone still care?"

 * ... HART PARK: And there was no better example of this than at Hart Park after the Labor Day holiday. The park was strewn with trash from picnic revelers, begging the question: is it asking too much to bring a black trash bag and hauling home your garbage?

* ... FOODIE BEST BET: I finally got around to visiting Jin Sushi, the new eatery that opened a few weeks ago on 19th Street downtown. The interior is comfortable and the staff friendly, and the sushi could not have been fresher. The owners told me they are undergoing a "soft opening" while they train the staff and work out the kinks.

 * ....SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Jellyfish have survived here on earth for 650 million years without brains. Great news for stupid people."

 * ... MUSIC FEST: The 99 Music Fest, a celebration of Americana music that will showcase some nationally known acts on two stages, is just one month out and prices will soon be going up. Early-bird pricing (at $40 a ticket) ends next Monday when individual tickets jump to $45. The event is planned for noon to 6 p.m. at the CSUB amphi-theater. Among the acts include Sam Outlaw, whose band just performed on the CBS Saturday Morning show, Ray Wylie Hubbard, James McMurtry, Monty Byron, Truxton Mile, the Sheepdogs and others. Buy your tickets at

* ... KUDOS: Hats off to Ali Schroeter, a 2012 Bakersfield High graduate who is now a starting libero on the Rutgers University volleyball team. The Big Ten Conference recently recognized Schroeter not only for her skills on the court, but for her civic engagement off the court. She was cited for her work assisting the cleanup operations on Staten Island after Huricane Sandy. Schroeder is is fifth in the Big 10 Conference in digs and has a 3.9 grade point average going into her last semester in college.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

California legislature looking at legislation that could have a devastating impact on the oil industry, some really bad form on the bike trail and more on our long drought

 * ... FOSSIL FUELS: Most of us pay little attention to what is happening in Sacramento, but if you live in the oil patch as we do, it is time to take notice. A fierce debate is under way over pending
legislation (SB350) that could have a devastating affect on California's energy sector. And that of course means Kern County, which could potentially lose thousands of jobs if the bill becomes law. The legislation would require a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use by Jan 1., 2030, just 15 short years away. The bill easily passed the Senate but is finding resistance in the House from moderate Democrats who represent the Central Valley. Critics claim, accurately, that the bill fails to say exactly how we are going to get there. Instead, it simply sets a target, a familiar tactic that makes politicians feel good but does little to deal with the details that will affect all of our lives. And others complain that the working poor, those who can hardly afford higher gas prices or the price of an electric car, will suffer the most. This is the work of Sacramento that needs our attention.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to Varner Brothers who responded to the long drought by removing the grass in front of its offices and replacing it with 1,600 linear feet of concrete sidewalks. Said project manager Brian Stanley: "Although it won’t bring rain and it was expensive, we think hardscapes can help."

 * ... BAD FORM: I was cycling with a group of friends this weekend when two oncoming cyclists careened hot into a sharp turn that led to a small bridge and went down. Our group was on the bridge and our lead rider could not avoid the spill, plowed into one of the riders and did a 360 over her handlebars and landed on her face. Bloodied and skinned up, she was able to ride home thanks to her helmet and overall fitness. The lesson? Cycling is fun but can be dangerous. Ride at your talent level and for goodness sake, slow down in tricky situations. (file photo of a bicycle wreck)

 * ... SPOTTED: John Strand of Lake Isabella shared with a picture of his bumper sticker. It reads: "Stop Global Whining." I could not think of a better message.

* ... DROUGHT: Here's a timely tip about water use from Ryan Olson. "Just a reminder to all those folks who are conserving by watering at night (especially school districts, corporations and properties with common areas): sprinklers need to be checked once a month, at the very least. In areas that have a lot of foot traffic, once a week would be best. I was at our local junior high in the evening last week and watched water pour onto the asphalt and into the drains in several areas with broken or misdirected sprinkler heads. Driving home, I saw several more properties (common grounds which surround neighborhoods) with the same problem. Ten to fifteen minutes of visual inspection by groundskeepers once a week could save hundreds of gallons of water, all over the city.
Kudos to the city of Bakersfield crews, by the way, for doing just that. I watched as they worked their way down Ming Avenue recently, testing, repairing, and adjusting sprinklers on both sides of the street, as well as the median."

 * ... CROSSING GUARD: A reader wrote to heap some praise on a longtime crossing guard who works the corner of White Lane and Akers. "You can tell he takes this job seriously and displays much pride in how he does this job.  His energy level is amazing. It is refreshing and renews faith in our fellow human beings that no matter what your job or profession ... there are people who do give it their best shot every single day."