Saturday, December 12, 2015

A lost and abandoned Boxer mix is rescued off of South H street, more on the litter problem and look for familiar faces during the Tournament of Roses Parade

 * ... LOST DOG: If you believe one person can't make a difference, consider this uplifting note
 from reader Kristin Townsend about a Boxer mix who had been abandoned and was living for months in a field near the intersection of South H Street and Pacheco. He was elusive and scared, yet Townsend said he "developed quite a fan club... people left food, water, treats and even a dog house! But Bubba defied being caught until an animal advocate named Barbara Stubblefield became involved and spent weeks visiting and feeding him hot dogs and treats to gain his trust. Well this
morning she got him in her car and he is on his way to rescue! So many people cared and reached out to him. Thank you all! Bubba is now safe!"

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I know you’re supposed to have three balanced meals a day, but how many can I have at night?"

 * ... BAD FORM: You don't have to go far in this town before you find old sofas, chairs, televisions and refrigerators discarded in alleys, along roadsides and in parking lots. So it should not have surprised me when someone dumped a filthy old sofa and matching chair at the end of the bike trial off Enos Lane.

  * ... ROSE PARADE: If you are watching the Rose Bowl Parade you might spot a couple of familiar faces. Barry Rosenfeld and former local TV executive Jim Bell will be walking alongside Rotary International's 37th consecutive entry in the parade on Jan. 1, 2016. Rosenfeld and his wife Pat will be part of the group who will be assembling the float in December. Rosenfeld is a member of the Twilight Rotary Club while Bell serves as Rotary district governor.

 * ... THEFT: The theft of packages off our porches is a national trend, but Aneta L. Adams has a word for all those UPS and FedEx drivers out there: make sure to ring the doorbell. Said Adams:
"We had been expecting a delivery, so we were waiting for a knock or the doorbell. We went on with our business and forgot about it, until about an hour later.  We checked out the front door, and lo and behold, there the package was, behind one of our columns. The driver, however, never rang our doorbell or knocked on our front door, and we know for sure because we have two dogs! ... We understand their not wanting to wait at the door, but waiting is not necessary.  Notifying us that you just delivered a package at our front door, a package that we've been anticipating, or needing, or planning on giving as a gift, is mandatory.  This package was a gift, packed in dry ice, and therefore, perishable! For the love of God, drivers, KNOCK or RING!"

 * ... GOD: Jim Rummell of Springville sent me this note about the state of our nation: "I always enjoy your insights on current events, not only locally but in the world as well. I couldn't help but notice that it is easy to 'connect the dots' on several of the stories that you mentioned. Many people have turned their backs on God, in fact, it is now common to find an outright distain for those of us who pray and still believe. The handwriting is on the wall on where our world is going, and it starts with having no respect for the law or God, and begins with 'running stop signs' no matter who gets hurt. But Richard, make no mistake, putting 'gates' at every stop sign, or gun control laws, will not fix this world. Only a return to the teaching of Jesus will put an end to this madness. Maybe we should start by putting prayer back in school or teaching the 10 commandments. Just sayin."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Amazon enters the war of streaming content as consumers abandon cable and traditional TV programming, and local donors make a local children's hospital a reality

 * ... AMAZON: The long, slow decline of cable and local TV is showing signs of accelerating with the announcement by Amazon of plans to stream popular new content via its Prime membership.
The idea: offer Amazon's Prime members (they pay $99 a year for free shipping and streaming video) access to Showtime, Starz and more channels at a low added cost. As noted in The Los Angeles Times: "Traditional pay-TV operators have struggled for years to come up with easy-to-use streaming options for their consumers." Amazon's move is similar to that of Hulu and Netflix, which charge a monthly fee so folks can cut the cord to traditional cable. This fragmentation in programming has been long in the works, and it has already taken its toll on the once robust marketshare of the major networks and their local affiliates. Millennials and those younger are leading the charge in cutting the cord (there has been a 16 percent decline in viewership for young adults aged 18-24), and it won't be long before most of us are cobbling together streaming options that bypass cable.

 * ... MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: We live in a generous community, and sometimes we forget to thank those for have done so much to lift the tide for all of us. So here's a big hats off to all the people who contributed to the Bolthouse Family Pediatric Department and the Helen Taylor Cobbs Children's Healing Garden over at Memorial Hospital's Lauren Small Children's Medical Center. (Joe and Jana Campbell funded the garden in memory of Jana's late mother, who loved gardening). Memorial is doing something important here, putting together a facility so local families with ailing children will not have to leave town for treatment.

 * ... NORM HOFFMAN: I took a short bike ride up Fairfax Road the other day and noticed that someone repainted the yin-yang symbol at the spot where Norm Hoffman was struck and killed by a motorist back in 2001. Hoffman, the popular Bakersfield College health professor with a larger-than-life personality, inspired many with his healthy lifestyle, outgoing personality and emphasis on the spiritual. The ancient Chinese symbol for yin-yang was painted after its death, it faded, but someone freshened it to remind us of a life well lived.

 * ... POLITICAL HUMOR: A Muslim journalist from Chicago posted this on Twitter: "Does anyone know if the concentration camps Trump is planning for us Muslims will have WiFi?"

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Beer comes from hops. Hops are plants. Beer is salad."

 * ... SPOTTED: On Mount Vernon near the Starbucks a late model SUV is spotted with these two messages taped to its windows: "Radical Muslims R Here ... Buy a Gun!"

 * ... ACTIS: Hats off to the girls volleyball team from Actis Jr. High, the lone team from the San Joaquin Valley to make it to a tournament in Los Angeles. The team compiled an overall record of 37-3 and capped off the historic season with a 16-14 victory over Commerce Jr. High in the final game on the LA tournament. Congrats to coach Dan Letourneau, his coaches (daughters) and these amazing student athletes. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The oil sector and environmentalists square off at Vision for the Valley at Bakersfield College, more rants on climate change and and some really bad form at a local Target

 * ... ENERGY PANEL: Can you envision a time when the Kern River oil field is shuttered and its wells capped? It's hard for me to fathom, given the abundance of affordable oil and natural gas here, but the
Natural Resources Defense Council thinks that should be our ultimate goal. That was the word from NRDC's Victoria Rome, a legislative advocate who appeared on an energy panel at Bakersfield College Tuesday morning. Rome's organization has long been at loggerheads with energy companies, arguing for a full moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and an accelerated timeline to end our use of fossil fuels to help combat global warming. Tupper Hull, vice president of the Western States Petroleum Association, argued that fossil fuels should always have a place in our world, even at a diminished state, and he lamented how oil companies have become demonized in the conversation about climate change. The event was organized by the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce and TBC Media and was held in the Simonsen Performing Arts Center.

 * ... SIMONSEN: And speaking of the Simonsen, this was my first visit to the relatively new performing arts center and it is a stunning venue. If you are a BC graduate and haven't been in the Simonsen, stop by to catch this new addition to your campus.

 * ... BAD FORM: Don't you hate it when people leave used napkins and other trash in their shopping carts? Well it just got worse. At the local Target near East Hills Mall, someone left a soiled paper plate with uneaten food and - yes, you guessed it - a dirty diaper perched on the cart handle, leaving it for the next person to discard in a trash bin just a few feet away.

 * ... TRASH: And speaking of litter, reader Nancy Vibe recently took matters into her own hands. In her words: "I just thought I would fill you in on a rather interesting and fun day I had. I made room
in the trunk of my Buick... then I gathered up my tools of the day (trade). Lets see, one long handle flat edge hoe, one small metal ladder and a pair of garden gloves. And off I went... I filled that trunk in no less than 20 minutes. And it was full too. Of what  you ask? Those hideous plastic signs that are nailed up on telephone poles, or stuck in the ground with wire supports. The ones that read 'Diabetic test strips' or  'Part time jobs from your home' or 'I will buy your house.' The really fun part is taking a razor to them and slicing them up, never to be used again. My point...  IT'S GRAFFITI  PEOPLE! Take is down, rip it up. No one has been given permission to put these tacky, invasive and useless signs up around Bakersfield."

 * ... CLIMATE CHANGE: Dan McGuire responded to an earlier post from a reader casting doubt about climate change. Here is his take: "When you share your reader’s rants I’m not sure if you’re making fun of their ignorance or showing your own. Your posting of Joe’s rant about climate change was even below par. The tens of thousands of expert scientists from every country in the world are not trying to save the planet. The planet has got along fine for over four billion years before humans, and will get along fine without us if we become extinct like 99.9 percent of all living things that have already gone extinct. What over 98 percent of the experts are warning us about is the energy we humans have been pumping into the atmosphere is creating atmospheric conditions and rising oceans that will probably not kill us for another few hundred years or so, but displace hundreds of millions of people. Won’t that be a fun world for our grand kids to live in? Maybe you and Joe can share a room or two for the twenty million folks from Bangladesh which will be under water before the end of the century."

 * ... PRAYER: Can you stand one more rant from a reader? This one was responding to my blog post lamenting "prayer shaming." Said Alan  Neumann: "This morning Richard Beene opined about the NY Daily News cover and the idea of 'prayer shaming' and how bad they were. He commented on the headline 'God Isn't Fixing This' and said no one was suggesting he would. Yes Richard, they are, that is what prayer is, asking God to help with what you can't handle, change or in some cases, what you can't get." Thanks for your note Alan but when I pray and don't really expect God or any other higher power to directly intervene on my behalf. Rather, for me prayer is a deeply personal exercise in empathy that - contrary to what you think - really doesn't anticipate action from above.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

'Prayer shaming' takes the level of civil discourse to a new low, the annual Christmas parade is a trash fest, and more rants on climate change

 * ... PRAYER SHAMING: Right when you thought the level of civil discourse in this country could not get any worse, it did. Now comes a concept called "prayer shaming," which arose when
Republican presidential candidates sent out messages on social media saying they were extending their "thoughts and prayers" to the victims of the San Bernardino shootings. Seems innocent enough, but then anti-gun lobbyists struck back, belittling the idea of prayer if those offering the prayers were not supportive of gun control. First came the New York Daily News which devoted its front page cover to this headline: "God Isn't Fixing This." (No one suggested he would, by the way) That prompted one U.S. senator, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, to come forward with this missive: "Your 'thoughts' should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your 'prayers' should be for forgiveness if you do nothing—again." So now offering a sincere thought and prayer is subject to public ridicule? And so it goes.

* ... TRASH: The annual Bakersfield Christmas Parade is a great way to usher in the holiday season, but it also reveals a dark underside of our community. When the festivities ended the parade route downtown, along 21st Street particularly, was left with mountains of litter that city crews were left to collect.

 * ... VALLEY VISION: An important panel discussion on the future of the Central Valley will be held Tuesday at the Simonsen Performing Arts Center at Bakersfield College. The event will cover the energy sector, agriculture and water and housing, land use and transportation and will bring together some of the foremost experts on these topics, including spokesmen for the oil industry, environmentalists, state officials and conservationists. The first Vision for the Valley is sponsored by the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce and TBC Media and will begin with a 7 a.m. with breakfast with the first panel under way at 8:30 a.m. Contact the Chamber for tickets.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My special talents include: jumping to the worst conclusion possible and worrying about that thing for hours."

 * ... BAD FORM: Gabrielle Lopez shared my concern with those folks who blow through red lights, putting them and others at risk. Said Lopez: "I am so sick and tired of seeing all these people run red lights every day. I mean they CLEARLY could stop but choose not to and just blow right on through like there is no one else on the road. I had an idea come to me today which while probably costly to implement may be a good solution: at random stoplights around town we could install a gate that pops up when the light turns red. So if there is a red light runner they will severely damage their vehicle and since they are randomly placed they don't
know when they will pop up and MAYBE people will think twice about running that red light if it costs them MONEY which is the only way that some people are going to get it."

 * ... CLIMATE CHANGE: And finally, reader Joe Chavez shared with me this rant on climate change: "Climate change. Well here they go again feeling like they can control nature. The world is going to do whatever, be it heating, cooling, icing. Just like it's done for eons. To think we humans can save it or help it is ridiculous, We can't  even care for ourselves yet were going to save the planet. So ignorant, so self important."