Thursday, December 24, 2015

El Nino brings snowpack to the Sierras but it's too early to declare the drought over, and some really good form around town

* ... EL NINO: We spent the early part of the year waiting for El Nino to arrive, hoping a strong storm season would help alleviate our long drought. Well it is here, and there is encouraging news
even if no one is ready to declare the drought over. A series of storm in the Sierras has pushed the snowpack to 111 percent of the average for this time of year, bringing joy to the ski resorts and the mountains. But we have a long way to go and the key date seems to be in April, when the snowpack traditionally peaks. Stay tuned and enjoy the weather.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The two best times to keep your mouth shut are when you’re swimming and when you’re angry."

 * ... SPOTTED: John Strand spotted this message written on a sweatshirt in a Lake Isabella market: "Life is like a roll of toilet paper; the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes."

 * ... LOCAL BUSINESS: Shopping at a locally owned business is always a good idea, and Kay Bardin just gave me another reason to do so. Said Bardin: "Stopped by Knight's Jewelers for a watch battery recently. When I got ready to pay, they said 'Just put the money in the Salvation Army kettle' which was located between their door and Trader Joe's! Wow, that's the Christmas spirit in action."

 * ... GOOD FORM: LaVonne Templeton shared this bit of good form after she locked her keys in her trunk at the Walmart parking lot near East Hills Mall: "Standing there trying to think what I could do, a young couple with two small children came by and asked if they could help me. He got on his cell, found AAA, told them 'There is a lady here that needs help'" and handed me the phone. Their little boy, about four, said to me 'You can come to our house.' How sweet! I apologized to the couple that I was taking up their valuable time but they said they were in no hurry AAA was then on their way.  We exchanged names and hugs and I am sorry to say that I don't remember. I am soooo grateful to them to help a 79-year-old lady in a stressful situation. I hope they read this."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: When Gene Bonas wrote recalling the days when folks would fuel your car and clean your windshield, it triggered some memories from Stephen A. Montgomery. Said Montgomery: "Back then I may have been that guy wearing a white shirt, bow tie and dark blue slacks fueling Gene’s car and cleaning his windshield and checking his tires. Back in the day I used to routinely fuel State Senator Walter Stiern’s car and clean his windshield. However he never let me open the hood. Then I worked for Art Folsom who operated Union 76 stations at the corner of 21st Street and Union Avenue. (a tacky check cashing shack is on the site now), F Street and Golden State, (Mobile station now) SR 99 frontage road just north of 7th Standard. (Volvo equipment rental now) There one of my jobs was to drive the water truck to a fire hydrant on Snow Road to supply the station with water since it had no well or other water supply connection."

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Students at Oberlin College complain their dining hall sushi has been "culturally misappropriated," some kudos to our local AAA office and some other good form about town

* ... CAMPUS LIFE: Are you ready for the latest silliness making news on college campuses? Consider the small liberal arts school of Oberlin College where a group of students are complaining that food in the dining hall has been "culturally misappropriated." That's right, the students are demanding changes because,
according to them, sushi recipes have been manipulated and are "disrespectful" to Japanese. As reported in The Atlantic: "The core student grievance, as reported by Clover Lihn Tran at The Oberlin Review: Bon App├ętit, the food service vendor, 'has a history of blurring the line between culinary diversity and cultural appropriation by modifying the recipes without respect for certain Asian countries’ cuisines. This uninformed representation of cultural dishes has been noted by a multitude of students, many of who have expressed concern over the gross manipulation of traditional recipes.'” Fredrik deBoer, an academic, posted this on Twitter: "When you’re defending the cultural authenticity of GENERAL TSO’S CHICKEN, you’re a living Portlandia sketch."

* ... GOOD FORM: A bit of good form to start your day. This from Deanna and Wally Haulman: "Disappointed and encouraged at almost the same time. Someone dumped three very tiny baby kittens at Hart Park. They were cold, shaking and scared... (until) a lovely couple from The Cat People scooped them up so they had a second chance. We just wanted to thank them for their willingness to help."

 * ... AUTO CLUB: And speaking of good form, it's hard to beat the service at our local AAA office over off Truxtun. The annual membership fee is a bargain compared to the misery of standing in line at the DMV office, and the AAA customer service reps are always knowledgeable and friendly.

 * ... BAD FORM: And then there was this, compliments of reader Doug Wagner: "I guess the holidays can make some folks really impatient. On Sunday, as I was coming out of the Smart and Final on Rosedale Highway, trying to make a righthand turn onto northbound Calloway Drive. I was waiting for a pedestrian who was using the crosswalk, to make it all the way across. I figured that was the right and legal thing to do. Well, I thought wrong, as the young lady in the white sedan behind me honked her horn for me to start moving, which I couldn't. Well, at least I received a 'thank you' hand wave from the pedestrian. As for the impatient young lady that honked her horn at me for waiting on a pedestrian, I hope she got to were she needed to get to in a hurry. As I don't like to wish bad on anyone, but in the honor of holding the Christmas Spirit, I hope the Grinch steals all her presents and she gets a lump of coal in her stocking hanging over the mantle. Merry Christmas, everyone!"

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "I don't care what your religion is as long as you use your turn signal."

 * ... SPOTTED ON THE ROAD: Linda Welch spotted this bumper sticker about town: "My son was inmate of the month at Lerdo."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: My good friend Gene Bonas, a Navy and submarine veteran, says you may be a Bakersfield old timer "if you can remember when you pulled into a real service station and got you car windows cleaned, oil checked, tires checked for correct air pressure, and gas pumped all for free. And you got green stamps to boot!"

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Remembering some lives cut short while celebrating a youngster named a partner in a law firm, and our signature local eateries enjoy huge holiday crowds

* ... LIVES CUT SHORT: We've lost a lot of good people this year, and their contributions to our community should not go unnoticed. In the past week, we noted the death of Steve Starbuck, the 48-
year-old partner in the tax/audit firm of Brown Armstrong, and Ray Bishop, the former head of the Kern County Airport who helped build the Bill Thomas Terminal. Bishop was a Vietnam veteran who left Bakersfield to run the airport in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He was 69. In October, we said goodbye to Steve Ruggenberg, former head of Golden Empire Transit who left us to pursue his love of baking and cooking. Also a Vietnam veteran, Ruggenberg was 70. Three good men, now gone. As my friend Brad Barnes says: "Every heartbeat counts."

* ... LAWYER: Here's a reason to applaud those children who go away to college but return to put down roots in our community. One of them is Neil Gehlawat, who has been named a partner in the plaintiffs law firm of Chain Cohn Stiles. Gehlawat is a Stockade High School graduate who went on to attend UC Berkeley and the University of Texas School of Law. Not a bad accomplishment for this 27-year-old wunderkind.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "They don’t make pizza or beer out of celery. And that is all you need to know about celery."

 * ... HOLIDAYS: One of the great joys of this time of year are the holiday parties that showcase our community's signature restaurants. On a rainy weekend like the one we just experienced, you could barely find a seat in the iconic food joints like Luigi's Delicatessen, Noriega Hotel, Uricchio's Trattoria or Pyrenees Cafe and Saloon. Good to see these locally owned eateries doing so well.

 * ... FOOD: And did you catch the mouth watering, special Pete Tittl section of food and restaurants in the Saturday Californian? I did, and I immediately hurried over to Coconut Joe's for their signature fish and chips. Located off California Avenue, Coconut Joe's has always offered some of the most consistent food and service in town.

 * ... SCAM: We have yet another scam to worry about, and this one could destroy your credit and put you at risk in other ways. Here's how it works: you receive a check in the mail from ATT for $3,650, part of a larger gift you have "won." The letter says the check helps cover a $1,450 tax fee. This happened to reader Carla Rivas, and when she checked with her bank, she was told if she cashed the check the scammers would have access to her checking account number, routing numbers, Social Security and other information. "I am so angry because I know that some elderly people will fall for this, and they will be out the $1,450 'tax fee,' and their vital info will be stolen," she said, "After the check bounces, I have to pay the bank back and now I have sent a Western Union payment and I am out that." The lesson: if it looks too good to be true, it normally is.