Saturday, April 9, 2016

House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy recognizes the heroes that live amongst us

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill.

"True heroes are all around us. Each day hundreds of people impact our communities, touch lives, and generate immense positive change. This week I was fortunate to spend time with several of our heroes and recognize their actions.

 "Last Saturday, I had the honor of presenting the Military Hero award at the Kern County Red Cross Heroes dinner. It was a pleasure to spend time with Julio Torres, this year’s recipient, who served in the Marines for 12 years, and now helps fellow veterans suffering from PTSD regain their independence by pairing them with trained service dogs. Torres’ efforts have played a critical role in alleviating symptoms of PTSD and have helped numerous veterans gain a new lease on life. Torres, and all of those recognized by the Red Cross, have made our community a better place through their selfless acts of courage and humanitarian service.

 "Another highlight of my week was welcoming a piece of the World Trade Center to Bakersfield. The arrival served as a reminder of the strength of our country and how in times of crisis we always come together – not as Republicans, Democrats, or Independents, but as Americans. It was special to see our local police, firefighters, and others drive alongside the steel beam as it made its way through downtown. The six-and-a-half-ton beam traveled nearly 3,000 miles from New York and will be used for a 9/11 memorial between the Bakersfield Fire Department Fire Station and the Police Department substation at 1315 Buena Vista Road.

 "It was an emotional scene as all of us in attendance took a moment to reflect on one of the darkest days in American history. It's hard to believe fifteen years have passed, but I will never forget the response of the men, women and children in our community and in every community across the nation. We were overwhelmed with emotion, but while we mourned, we chose courage and we chose unity over division. And America was at its best.

 "That is why we never forget the fallen and the first responders who rushed into the rubble in search of survivors, including our own first responders from Kern County who flew to Washington to help at the Pentagon. We also must never forget the important role first responders play in our daily lives. Their work takes place every day often with little fanfare.

 "I urge everyone in our community to take a moment and thank our local heroes who without fail, endure danger and challenges every day to keep us safe.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Noting the passing of Merle Haggard and his theme of "rebellion and escape," recognizing the rise of young musicians from North High School and Bakersfield Track Club plans an event this Saturday

 * ... MERLE: The coverage of Merle Haggard's death by my colleagues here at The Californian was without peer, but I am always interested in how others viewed the passings of local legends
. These phrases from The New York Times pretty much tell the story: "a supple baritone suffused with dignity and regret; the pliancy of his singing voice, a deeply expressive instrument that lent itself to a variety of tempos, arrangements and emotions; an architect of the Bakersfield sound, a guitar driven blend of blues, jazz, pop and honky tonk that traced its roots to Bakersfield, Calif."  And finally: "Rebellion and escape, themes steeped more in rock 'n' roll than in country music."

 * ... FOODIE: My recommendation for a refreshing (and super healthy) summer salad is the chilled seaweed salad from Jin Sushi on 19th Street downtown.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The best way to get a man to do something is to suggest he’s too old for it."

 * ... NORTH HIGH: I was leaving a downtown restaurant the other night when the melodic sounds of jazz caught my ear, a siren's call that enjoined me to follow the source of the music. I ended up at the beautiful outdoor seating area at The Mark restaurant where the 30-piece North High School Jazz Ensemble (led by band director Mike Wawrzynski) was performing before a group of parents, boosters and strangers like me who happened to be in the area. I know little to nothing about jazz, but I am a sucker for the soft wail of horns while watching youngsters embrace a musical education, and these kids were simply amazing. It was all part of Bakersfield Jazz Workshop that performs every Tuesday at The Mark, sometimes featuring acts like the kids from North High and other times impromptu jazz sessions from folks in attendance.

 * ... THE JUICE:  Tony Malon has been following the recent docudrama and coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial and had this comment: "I have watched everything published, TV, magazines, books etc. since the original O.J. trial. Do you know they still continually get the verdict wrong?"

 * ... RIVER RUN: If you are into fitness check this out: This Saturday is the Kern River Trail Run out at Hart Park, starting at 7:30 a.m. The Bakersfield Track Club is putting on the event to raise money for scholarships, and it will feature runs of 5K, 10K and a killer 10-mile run. (Please, no strollers or dogs). The cost is $50 for the 10K and 10-miler and $40 for the 5K.

 * ... MEMORIES: Can you stand one more memory about former KERO TV weathercaster Marge Stiles? This comes from former station employee Vinny Calaustro: "I worked at KERO-TV (then channel 10) as a props-assistant back in the summers of 1969 and 1970. At that time, Marge had her own separate studio which was permanently set-up. She used 'mirrors' to recreate that unique effect of writing backwards while delivering the weather forecast. I remember that the lighting and the angle of the mirrors was very critical. Very cool then and is still very cool. I also worked on the Don Rodewald Show, Meet Mitchell Show, and Uncle Woody Show. I was blessed to have known and worked along side these people."

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A German Shepherd loses a leg hunting for bombs in Afghanistan and earns a prestigious British medal, those political signs are popping up around town and it's time for the big Ken Barnes Skeet Tournament out at the Kern County Gun Club

* ... LUCCA: A Marine veteran buddy of mine alerted me to the story of Lucca, a 12-year-old German Shepherd who was awarded the animal version of the British Victoria Cross for service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lucca served with the U.S. Marine Corps and successfully completed more than 400 missions over six years before she lost a leg in the explosion of a roadside bomb. "On
March 23, 2012, Lucca lost her front left leg and suffered burns to her chest, neck and head while searching for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan," a news release noted. "Ahead of a foot patrol, she found a weapons cache hidden in a haystack in a poppy field and later discovered a 30-pound IED, which was cleared. But a second IED went off when she was looking for additional dangers in their way. No soldiers were injured in the explosion." The dog was evacuated to Camp Pendleton where she recovered and is now living with Gunnery Sgt. Chris Willingham, who served with her during two tours in Iraq. Now that's a happy ending.

* ... ELECTIONS: You know it's election season when the political signs start popping up around town. So far I have spotted signs for two mayoral candidates - Kyle Carter and Nannette Gonzalez - as well as a few for Supervisor David Couch and judgeship candidate David Wolf. In another month the city will be blanketed with this evidence of visual democracy.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "When I die, I want my grave to offer free Wifi so that people visit more often."

 * ... SNAKES: There is no surer sign that summer is coming than spotting rattlesnakes on the local roads and bike paths. I have spotted two near Hart Park in the past week, sunning themselves on the blacktop.

* ... KENNY BARNES OPEN: Free this weekend? If want to witness some of the best skeet shooting in the west head out to the Kern County Gun Club to take in the Ken Barnes Open Skeet Championship. Named after our own Ken Barnes, it will run Friday through Sunday and feature All American and former world champions. My favorite: The Sunday "shutoffs" that determine class champions.

 * ... MARGE: We've had some fun recalling former KERO TV weathercaster Marge Stiles, and how she used to write "backwards" on the weather board. Not so fast says reader Terry Gaiser, who told me this: "With regards to Marge Stiles writing backwards... she really didn't. That is what it looked like, but the picture that the camera was taking was reversed through the magic of electronics and TV.

 * ... MORE MARGE: And lastly, agreeing with Terry Gaiser was Diana G. Conner: "Actually she was not writing backwards. The camera only gave the appearance of her writing backwards. She actually was writing forward from behind the clear weather board. If she stood in front of the weather clear weather board and wrote the temperatures we would of seen the numbers backwards. But standing behind it allowed us viewers to see the numbers correctly but made her look as if she was writing in reverse. Maybe someone out there could explain it better than I just did. But it was all the 'trick' of the TV camera!"

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Thanks to a Western diet of sugars and empty carbs, the obesity epidemic is going global and a Vietnam veteran is the recipient of a random act of kindness

 * ... OBESTIY: A new study by The Lancet predicts that the obesity epidemic is going global. The study predicts that 18 percent of men and 21 percent of women will be obese by the year 2025. The culprit: A "Western diet (that) is spreading across the world. It's characterized by a high intake of red
meat, refined sugars and saturated fat - but little fiber." I might add to that a lack of serious exercise and a general lethargy among young people and adults in North and South America. Already in the United States alone more than a third of adults are technically obese, and it is only getting worse.

 * ... GET OUT: And speaking of obesity, shame on you if you didn't put your sneakers or hiking boots on and enjoyed our Mediterranean-like weather this weekend. Dozens of bike riders were spotted making the 50-mile round trip to Woody, the parks were full and the Panorama bluffs were alive with activity.

 * ... KINDNESS: Vietnam veteran Mike Huckert wrote with this word of thanks. "I look forward often to reading your column and thought this would be a great way to publicly thank the young lady who bought my lunch and cookies for my grandkids last Thursday at Sequoia in Rosedale. She thanked me for my service as a Vietnam Nam vet and related that her dad was a helicopter pilot and was there the same years I was. Thank you so much for a much appreciated act of kindness and for paying it forward. "

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The day I see a runner smiling is the day I’ll consider it."

 * ... OVERHEARD: "He's a very emotional guy. He cries when supermarkets open."

 * ... MEMORIES: I wrote earlier about the old days of KERO TV and it triggered this response from Ken Caskey: "Thought I would let you know that my father-in-law and mother-in-law (Carlos and Nena Amado of Carlos Shower Doors) made the weather map that was used on KERO TV by Marge Stiles. My wife thinks it was sandblasted on glass. Marge stood behind it and wrote backwards."

 * ... MORE MARGE: And R.B. Mushaney added this: "Today, I saw the remembrance about our weather lady, Marge Stiles. I know very little about her on a personal level. As a kid in the 1960s, I was mesmerized by her ability to write backward on her clear acrylic board all the while delivering a comprehensive weather report. I clearly remember thinking that writing backward with that speed and accuracy had to be as great a talent as typing 100 words per minute. She made me thoroughly enjoy the evening news! One word, amazing."