Thursday, December 28, 2017

Looking forward to 2018 and thinking about those New Year's resolutions ... a hope for new leadership and saying goodbye to some inspiring local leaders

 * ... HAPPY NEW YEAR: Have you sat down to list your New Year's resolutions? If you could have three wishes for 2018 what would they be? My top three don't change through the years,
because they represent wealth that money cannot buy: personal happiness for those I love, health and hope for those less fortunate.

 * ... LOCAL POLITICS: On the local political level, I hope 2018 brings a new wave of younger, savvy, more forward thinking and thoughtful candidates to put an end to the clubby, risk averse and often backward reputation that Kern County has earned over the years.

 * ... OPIATES: Along those lines, wouldn't it be nice to hear our city council or Board of Supervisors express as much - or more - concern about the opioid crisis than they do about marijuana? While we fritter the night away wringing our hands about pot, people die every day from crushing addictions that start with legal prescription drugs and often end with crude and dangerous forms of street drugs. And some of the hardest hit? Our combat veterans - who we claim to admire and love - who often return home with crippling injuries that can lead to addiction to opiates.

 * ... RICO'S LIST: I compiled my own list of younger, engaged citizens that I hope one day will consider running for office. I do not know their personal politics, but all are educated and smart and have shown a love for this community. My "watch list" includes Michael Bowers, Melissa Poole, Lauren Mae, Don Bynum, Thomas Maxwell, Patrick Wade, Jay Tamsi, Justin Salters, Dana Culhane Brennan, Anna Smith and David Milazzo. Who did I miss?

 * ... ANIMALS: And how about this for a resolution: Here's hoping we stop treating our pets as disposable items here in Kern County and see fewer of them roaming our streets hungry, afraid and alone.

 * ... HORACE MITCHELL: We will lose Horace Mitchell to retirement as president of CSUB this year, and here's hoping his replacement is as dynamic, forward thinking and inclusive as Mitchell has been during his 13 years at the helm of our local university. These are all tricky decisions, and there is no guarantee that the next CSUB president will show the vision that Mitchell brought when he arrived on campus in 2004.

 * ... STEVE SCHILLING: Another notable retirement is that of Steve Schilling, the longtime head of Clinica Sierra Vista which provides basic health care services to thousands of Californians across multiple counties. Schilling almost single handedly built Clinica into a massive, important health care organization, and let's hope his replacement- Brian Harris - shares the energy and vision that Schilling brought to his job.

 * ... SMALL GIFTS: Happiness is never tied to a zip code, and isn't it true that it is always the small things that make life such a gift? A few of mine: an 11-year-old tabby whose love is boundless, friends who make me laugh so hard my side hurts, grown children whose success and happiness brings me such joy, a hike in the hills above Hart Park on a crisp Bakersfield morning, indescribably delicious Christmas cookies from my neighbor Robin, sitting under my grand sycamore tree in downtown Bakersfield while listening to the train couplings, a cozy evening at the "Italian embassy" (Uricchio's Trattoria as Rick Kreiser calls it) seeing old friends, and a new wife who gets my jokes, makes me laugh and fills a room with her smile.

* ... THANKFUL: And finally, here's to some of the local cast of characters who continually surprise, challenge and inspire me in so many different ways: Monsignor Craig Harrison, Louis Gill of the Bakersfield Homeless Center, CSUB basketball coach Rod Barnes, Dr. Raj Patel of Preferred Family Care and Randy Martin of Convenant Community Services.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The state of California ushers in an expected $7 billion industry next week with legal marijuana, criminals hit local churches to steal and break into cars and animal control officers capture some wild dogs on the bike path

 * ... LEGAL CANNABIS: While the city and county have opted out of regulating the legal sale of cannabis beginning next week, the emerging $7 billion state industry is moving forward. One of the
latest developments: Bill Lockyer, formerly California's top cop as Attorney General, has co-founded a company to distribute marijuana concentrates and edibles to retail outlets. That's right, the same person who was in charge of California's "war on drugs" is now hoping to cash in on the medicinal and recreational use of pot. As Lockyer told The Los Angeles Times:  “For me as somebody who was on the law enforcement side for so many years, I saw the inadequacies of the effort to regulate something just by calling it illegal. I think legalizing will help stabilize and help legitimize this industry and result in better consumer protection and other public benefits. This whole industry has to come from the dark side to the light."

 * ... CRIME: Not sure if this is a trend but car thieves seem to be singling out local churches to steal and break into cars. At least two friends had their cars stolen this Christmas, right from the parking lot of their local churches. Yet another left the service to find his car had been broken into and his wallet stolen.

 * ... DOG POUND: It was nice to see two Bakersfield animal control officers on the bike path near Manor Drive on Christmas Day looking for a pack of wild dogs that has been chasing cyclists and runners. So far they have captured six dogs, mostly pit bull mixes, while two or three remain loose.

* ... SHOPPING MAYHEM: On Christmas Eve every single shopping cart at the Target on Stockdale Highway was in use, not to mention every checkout line was open with a line. I wasn't the only shopper to wait to the last minute.

 * ... CHRISTMAS LAMENT: I spotted this on a friend's Facebook page: "I really hope to wake up to a brand new car with a huge red bow, but I’m pretty sure my husband just got me socks."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I’m pretty sure that it’s easier to leave most street gangs than it is to cancel a membership to a gym."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Everyone is talking about Star Wars and I'm here thinking about tamales."

 * ... ALARM CLOCK: Local appraiser Gary Crabtree wonders if he is alone in noticing a new alarm clock about town. "Is it just me or has anyone else noticed the new town alarm clock in the form of the 'pile driving” taking place for the Centennial Corridor project over the Kern River. For the last two weeks I’ve been awakened by the 'gong' that starts around 6:30 to 7 a.m.  I can hardly wait for them to begin on the California Avenue and Stockdale Highway’s bridges."

  * ... GOOD FORM: Sandra Morris was dining with friends at Joseph's Italian restaurant recently when a kind looking man eating by himself picked up her bill. "A friend from Nigeria is here for the holidays and we were giving her a going away party and an Italian food experience... My friend from Nigeria always says how good and generous Americans are and she got to see a fine example today."

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Winter Solstice marks the beginning of the long march to summer, the Bakersfield Homeless Center faces relocation and a new children's book celebrates a gay Santa

 * ... SOLSTICE: We may be in the early days of winter, but if you are a fan of warmer weather you won't have to wait much longer. The winter solstice (December 21) marks the shortest day of the year
as well as the longest night of the year. So starting today the sun will begin to rise a little earlier every day as we begin our long march toward spring and another Bakersfield summer. In Pagan times, the winter solstice was called Yule and was a celebration of the Goddess Moon, which (it was believed) gave birth to the sun. Some families use the solstice as a time to renew family ties with an eye toward spring.

* ... HOMELESS CENTER: It looks like the Bakersfield Homeless Center will be one of the losers when the High Speed Rail project finally comes to Bakersfield. Both of the two favored routes will force the center to relocate, and that has CEO Louis Gill worried and looking for alternatives. But Gill said he can't move forward until the High Speed Rail Authority agrees to buy the homeless center, and that isn't happening anytime soon. Gill needs regular donations to operate the center, and is concerned about asking for money for capital improvements when the facility will eventually have to move.

 * ... GAY SANTA: So did you hear about the new children's book called "Santa's Husband?" Its theme: Santa Claus is black and gay and is married to a puffy white man. The couple deals with relevant social issues as labor disputes, "good dental plans," and climate change. Not everyone thought it was a good idea. Consider this review on Amazon: "I run a parenting group for multiracial families, and we had high hopes here. This book is tokenizing and tries to address far too many social needs. I learned it was written by two white people, and that might explain the problem. Input from a black author would have resulted in a better book for our kids, who deserve better. A Black Cake for Santa is an excellent alternative for race-conscious parents." Unnecessarily provocative or a sign of the times?

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "It’s horrible when you congratulate a woman on being pregnant and she’s just fat. Especially when it’s your wife."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Don't mess with someone who has reindeer antlers and a tree nose on their minivan. They are obviously past their breaking point."

 * ... CONGRATS: Congratulations to former CSUB pitcher Michael McCarthy who announced this week that he is joining the Minnesota Twins organization as a coach with their AAA team (Rochester Red Wings) in 2018.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Pyper Von Normann shared this uplifting note about an incident recently at Red Robin where she was having lunch when her 4-year-old daughter Goldie suffered a seizure. "We called 911, and spoke with a very kind and competent operator. Within minutes, the Bakersfield Fire Department was there, and three fantastic firefighters were tending to my little girl. Just behind them was a wonderful Hall Ambulance paramedic and EMT who took over from there. All of the first responders were kind, compassionate, concerned, helpful, intelligent, alert... just to name a few. When we arrived at Adventist Health, the story didn't change. The medical staff was incredible, every single one of them. I also need to give a shout out to the staff at Red Robin who were so caring and concerned, and insisted on comping our bill. I am so thankful to live in this community, and yesterday was a good reminder of that."

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Bakersfield police reveal the extent of our gang problem, CSUB makes the right call in calling the Icardo Center home and a mea culpa on an earlier blog post

 * ... GANGS: Most of us are fortunate to live in neighborhoods that are safe from the scourge of gangs. We go about our lives, shop, raise families and work with little regard for what
happens in the less fortunate neighborhoods. Which is why I was stunned to read the front page story in the Sunday Californian by Harold Pierce shedding light on the extent of gang activity in town. The most shocking part of the story? The half page map showing where the gangs operate, their names and the extent of their influence. From Colonia on the far east to the West Side Bakers to the west, gangs operate in a remarkably large part of our city.

 * ... CSUB: The smartest thing the CSUB Roadrunners did a few years ago was return to the iconic Icardo Center for home basketball games. Certainly Rabobank Arena had the fancier facilities, but the intimacy (and foot stomping noise on the old bleachers) of the Icardo Center plays better to whip up the crowd. And there is nothing like a Roadrunner basketball game on a crisp fall Saturday to renew some old friendships. Some of those I spotted enjoying CSUB's victory over Georgia Southern were former Mayor Harvey Hall, sporting a wintry white beard, Mel Atkinson, Greg and Mary Bynum, Patrick Wade, Alan Wade, Dr. Vip Dev, Mike and Claudia Stepanovich, Assemblyman Vince Fong and Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

   * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK:  “I ordered a chicken and an egg from Amazon. I’ll let you know” what arrives first.

 * ... MORE FACEBOOK SPOTTED: "If you’re not fully satisfied with your life, do something about it. Or complain about it on the internet. Whatever you prefer."

 * ... GOOD ADVICE: This good advice came from a high school teacher to her students about "news" stories: "Always ask yourself: Who writes these stories? Who benefits from the stories? And who is missing from these stories?"

 * ... BAD FORM: My friend Justin Salters posted this on Twitter: "Hey @SunworksSolar- I just had to dodge an empty can thrown by your employees into the street. Stockdale Hwy and Stine Rd in Bakersfield, Ca. Guess which solar company I’ll never use..."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to the young father who, along with his young sons, were seen walking the park at the Panorama Bluffs picking up trash, a heart warming example of a teaching your children the importance of having pride in your community.

 * ... MEA CULPA: Bruce Jay, president of Valley Republic Bank, wrote to correct me on an earlier item I published. "The Kern County Cancer Fund is in fact a part of the CBCC Foundation, but is a separate division with a separate mission, Board of Director, books and records, etc. The KCCF only provides financial assistance for cancer treatment. The typical client is either a single working parent or a working family with one bread winner that has cancer and can no longer work and household income has become compromised. Often, there is not sufficient income to pay monthly health plan premiums. So KCCF provides funds for cancer care medical costs including prescriptions, co-pays, insurance deductibles and COBRA. Without this assistance, patients can be forced into a horrific situation of having to suspend treatments due to household financial restraints. The good news is KCCF has provided financial assistance to over 450 clients over the past four years with a financial commitment of over $2 million."

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Fires, mayhem and high taxes force more Californians to give up on the Golden State, Villaraigosa closes in on Newsom in the governor's race and Rick Kreiser raises $42,000 for the Kern County Cancer Fund

 * ... GOODBYE CALIFORNIA: It looks like the recent fires in Santa Rosa and Ventura County are
pushing yet more people to finally leave California for good. At least that is what the New York Times reported recently, citing our long frustration with the high cost of living here. "For many Californians," the paper reported, "the question is always sitting there: Is this worth it? Natural disasters are a moment to take stock and rethink the dream. But in the end, the calculation almost always comes down to cost." Since 2010, it continued, "the state has lost more than two million residents 25 and older, including 220,000 who moved to Texas... Arizona and Nevada have each welcomed about 180,000 California expatriates since the start of the decade."

 * ... VILLARAIGOSA: Does former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have a shot at beating former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in the governor's race? Apparently he does, at least if you follow the polls. Villaraigosa started off more than 20 points behind Newsom among Democrats and has now narrowed that to about five points. And Villaraigosa, who swung through Bakersfield this week, is making a bold bid to lure moderate Republicans by courting the conservative San Joaquin Valley. Expect to see more of Villaraigosa locally as we head into the new year.

 * ... SEASONAL LIES: Some of the lies we tell ourselves: "I am starting my diet tomorrow ... He will never hear from me again ... I'll just have one drink."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: I saw this on my friend Justin Salter's Twitter feed: "If we can train ourselves to be optimistic, as soon as life gets difficult, we will have the mental toughness to persist and succeed. "

 * ... GREGORY PORTER: Here's a worthy fund raiser that you may want to consider: Habitat for Humanity will be holding a concert featuring Grammy winning jazz singer Gregory Porter. Porter is one of the most famous singers to come out of Kern County, having graduated from Highland High School and going on to San Diego State. Habitat says Porter will be singing some Nat King Cole tunes. The concert will be held in the Dore Theater at CSUB on Saturday, Jan. 20. Tickets are just $50 and all proceeds will benefit Habitat for Humanity Golden Empire. Porter appeared on NBC's Kathie Lee and Hoda earlier this week to belt out a tune. Check out the Habitat for Humanity Golden Empire Facebook page to buy tickets.

 * ... CANCER FUND: Hats off to Rick Kreiser and his Guitar Masters series, which raised $42,000 for the Kern County Cancer Fund during his annual concert featuring Christmas with the Cranktones. Kreiser sold out the Crystal Palace for the annual event, benefitting an organization that says all the money stays in our community to help cancer patients and their families pay for cab rides, living expenses, wigs and other items during their fight with cancer.

* ... HARVEY HALL: Another reason why I miss Harvey Hall as our mayor. Even out of office, Hall continues to give back to his hometown by funding the Downtown Street Ambassadors who pick up trash in our downtown area. Since kicking off April 1, the street ambassadors have removed 2,714 bags of litter. That's an average of 340 bags collected each month. Some good news: the amount of trash collected actually decreased in October. Hall stepped up to fund the program in February.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

RIP local cyclist Dale Northrop, readers lament pedestrian deaths and jaywalking and a new vaccine for shingles hits the market

 * ... SAFETY: Gabrielle Lopez spoke for many of us in lamenting (while expressing frustration)
with the number of pedestrians who are hit and killed by cars. Said Lopez: "I do not think that there is anything anyone can do about the
pedestrians/cars issue. I am constantly seeing people run red lights as if they are not breaking the law and they have zero shame about it. I honk at them if I am in the front of the light and they run it. I
have been given dirty looks and the finger as if I am doing something wrong. They have absolute no regard for other people who are waiting and they think they don't have to wait. And I constantly see people walking against the light mostly NOT in a crosswalk though I have seen them in a crosswalk when my light is green. I honk at them too. I just think there is an epidemic of 'it is all about me' going on. There is nothing that can fix stupid."

 * ... JAYWALKERS: Some of the worst cases of jaywalking occurs around our local high schools when classes begin and end, including the lunch period. And it is particularly bad around Bakersfield High School where students regularly dash across a busy California Avenue to beat the bell before classes.

 * ... SHINGLES: Here's a tip for those of you who have reached the age of 50 or beyond: get the new shingles vaccine recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration. According to Dr. Raj Patel of Preferred Family Care, the new drug Shingrix is more than twice as effective as an older vaccine (Zostavax) and should be taken by anyone over the age of 50 with a normal immune system. Check with your physician to determine if the drug is available locally.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I removed all the fattening food from my house. It was delicious."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "I am more likely to be sexually assaulted than I am to benefit from this tax bill."

 * ... HEALTHY EATS: I was out in the Southwest this weekend and stopped by Eureka Burger, perhaps one of the few chain restaurants I frequent. After I tried their Protein Chopped Salad, I may have to return more often. It is a delicious and healthy salad featuring romaine, kale, quinoa, roasted beets, red onion, carrot, three types of beans, sunflower seeds and a red wine vinaigrette.

 * ... RETAIL: The boutique store Fashionista has moved next door to QwikCafe and Sequoia Sandwich Co. on 18th Street. The store was previously located near the Fox Theater.

 * ... RIP DALE: I was saddened to learn of the death of Dale Northrop, one of the first people I met in the cycling community when I moved to Bakersfield in the 1990s. Northrop was an avid cyclist and was deeply involved in helping organize the annual Spooktacular century ride as well as the New Year's Day ride. I spent many hours at the 24 Hour Fitness off White Lane chatting with Dale on our stationary bikes and will miss his large smile and kind spirit. He was 78 years old.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sexual harassment is alive and well in Kern County, Wood-Dale Market to carry fresh fish at its new location and Kevin Burton joins a local law firm

 * ... SEXUAL HARASSMENT: Given all the sexual harassment and groping charges on the national level, did you ever think if it is better - or worse - here in Kern County? I posed that question to Katy Raytis, a lawyer who specializes in sexual harassment for Belden/Blaine/Raytis. Her answer might surprise you. It is actually worse here, she told me, because of the chummy nature of our community. "Everyone knows everyone," she said, "and that leads to familiarity and the idea that it
can't happen to me. But it does." The time of year when we should all watch our behavior? The holidays, of course, when we find ourselves at company Christmas parties with our guard down while alcohol is being served.

 * ... ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIPS: And speaking of surprising, did you know that only 2 percent of high school athletes actually receive some sort of athletic scholarship to attend college? That's the word from Trevor Horn, prep sports writer for The Bakersfield Californian. The number is so small, in fact, that Horn has this advice for parents who are dreaming their children will get a scholarship: "Relax and just enjoy the ride," he said. "Enjoy them participating in sports and let them play multiple sports."

 * ... FISH MARKET: It looks like the new Wood-Dale Market at Grand Island Village will be opening sometime after the first of the year. And here is some good news: Chris Vasquez, son of owner Israel Vasquez, says the old-style meat market will also be carrying fresh fish. Vasquez told me they will start with the most popular types of fish - salmon, sea bass etc - but will let the customers decide what they should carry. Work at the new location, next to the Sol Y Luna restaurant across from Wiki's Wine Dive and Grill, is well under way as they shoot to open after the first of the year.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Congressmen only make $174,000 a year! How can they be expected, on such a meager pittance, to raise a family, buy groceries, send their kids to school, and pay massive sexual harassment settlements? Impossible."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "One day you're 18, eating pizza for every meal, wearing a size 4 and the next you're 30, drinking kale and debating wearing a T-shirt in the pool."

  * ... KEVIN BURTON: Kevin Burton, who has been the face of the marketing for Adventist Health for the past seven years, is leaving his job as head of its foundation to join the law firm of Klein DeNatale Goldner. Burton will be overseeing corporate and business development as well as marketing the firm.

 * ... THE TOWER: It looks like the old downtown church that has housed several restaurants (Bell Tower Club, The Ivy) is about to get a new owner. Robert Alimirzaie, executive chef at Bakersfield Country Club, has purchased the elegant old church and will open it as a restaurant called "The Tower" in February.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Packs of wild dogs appear on the Kern River bike path, a local fraternity at CSUB shows some class and the annual 'elf on a shelf" craze catches hold

 * ... HEADS UP: For those of you who use the bike path to run, walk or ride, be aware there is a
pack of eight to 10 dogs (a mixture of pit bulls and some smaller mutts) that are chasing cyclists and runners on the stretch between Beach Park and Manor Drive. These dogs appear vicious and in a pack, they are dangerous.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I’m pretty certain everyone waiting to board at this gate is praying they’re not sitting next to me on this flight. Also, this airport burrito is pretty spicy."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "I have a secret lock button like Matt Lauer’s except it locks my family in the dining room until they finish their food."

 * ... CHRISTMAS ELF: The annual "elf on a shelf" Christmas tradition is starting to show up in workplaces across town. I spotted the first one at a hair salon (it was a gay elf teamed with a shirtless boyfriend elf) and yet a second one appeared at a local Starbucks.

 * ... ARMY-NAVY: My old pal Gene Bonas, a proud Navy veteran who knows his way around submarines, dropped me this note about the upcoming Army-Navy football game. Said Bonas:
"As a Navy veteran, I'll be cheering for both teams. And, you can bet that no one will be taking a knee during the national anthem at this game. This is the only game where everyone playing is willing to die for everyone watching, including those pampered millionaires and their asinine owners.  I'll certainly say a prayer and drink a toast to both teams and to the nights I can't remember and the shipmates I'll never forget when I served four years on submarines."

* ... GOOD FORM: A reader named L. Houston was having trouble using her cell phone to hail an Uber ride when a young man intervened. Using his own cell phone, the stranger set up an Uber ride and said he would absorb the charges. "He would not accept reimbursement," she said. "I didn’t get a name but he sure has my heart felt thanks from a nice little old lady."

 * ... MORE GOOD FORM: And here is a special hats off to members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity at Cal State Bakersfield who donated their time to help the Assistance League during its Chez Noel Holiday Home Tour fund raiser. Said Dona Chertok: "We are so grateful to these fine gents."

 * ... FEEDBACK: George Russell wrote to respond to a piece about Rance Howard written by Nick Thomas in a recent edition of The Californian. "Writer Nick Thomas’ article about Rance Howard in Saturday’s paper brought to mind one of the last films Rance participated in. It was directed by Bakersfield transplant Tom Russell, writer, director and BYU film instructor. The movie 'Redemption' starred such notables as Margo Kidder, Ed Hermann, Rance Howard, and was produced by Firstlight Independent, with offices here in Bakersfield. Producers of the film included local support from Bill Nelson, Russell Judd and Mark Eddy. Great film based on a true Utah frontier story."

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Big oil places a big bet on solar, CALM ushers in another year of holiday lights and yes, it's time for those seasonal telephone scams again

 * ... CALM LIGHTS: The California Living Museum (CALM) is kicking off its annual holiday lights show this weekend, and it promises to be the biggest year yet for the popular light show. This
is the fifteenth year CALM has presented this dazzling show, which runs until January 6. Tickets are available at Valleytix and at the door. The show runs nightly from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

* ... OIL PATCH: In the battle for public opinion, the oil industry has done a poor job of telling its story. Instead, environmental organizations have enjoyed free reign to demonize fossil fuels, spread half truths about fracking and demand an end to the production of oil and natural gas. So it was good to see Aera Energy CEO Christina Sistrunk take a more proactive role in explaining the company's plans to build what will be California's largest solar farm to power its oil operations in the Belridge field. This is Aera's first foray into solar and it is a big bet that will provide jobs for more than 500 people. The solar farm is expected to be operational in 2020.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I wish I could enjoy the preppy style and comfortable torso warmth of a sweater vest without looking like the manager of an Office Depot."

 * ... SEASONAL SCAMS: Karen King wrote to remind me this is the season for telephone scams. Said King: "I just had a reminder that the scammers are still at it. I just received a phone call and a man said 'Hi, Grandma... it's your favorite grandson.' I said 'What?' He repeated himself. Since my only grandson is seven years old, this was a no-brainer and I told him off. He quickly hung up and I'm sure he is going down the list of other seniors. Apparently, there are people who think gray hair equals dead brain cells. I just wanted to give a heads up to all seniors NOT to accept any such calls."

* ... DOG LOVERS: If you are a dog lover, take heart. According to a Swedish study, dog owners are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease and death than those who don't own dogs. Scientific Reports had this to say: "Owning a dog was associated with a 20 percent lower risk of all cause death and a 23 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease." It went on to say that "the effect was stronger with certain breeds, particularly pointers and retrievers." The reason? Researchers speculated that owner of these breeds were more likely to get out and exercise more.

* ... BAD FORM: Joe Mitchell sent this reminder about traffic safety. "As I was driving up Wible Road this afternoon and listening to the radio news report the latest pedestrian casualty - 38 this year  a record -  a yellow school bus was stopped ahead with flashing lights and the 'STOP' sign extended.     I waited along with several other autos, traveling in both directions, as a line of students descended onto the sidewalk. These students were not children. They were what I call young adults. High school students... By high school age have they learned not to walk out into the street, and not all drivers are going to be alert and stop for them? I believe these students have been trained from their first day of school that autos are going to stop and wait for them, but unfortunately, not all will stop. That’s when we mark up another pedestrian death!"

 * ... CHRISTMAS: If you are in to the Christmas spirit, you might consider attending a special event this Saturday at St. John's Lutheran Church. It is the annual Master Chorale Christmas featuring your favorite calls and the 80-voice Bakersfield Master Chorale and Brass a la Carte under the direction of Dr. Robert Provencio. Stop by California Keyboards on Brundage Lane for advance tickets ($15) or buy them at the door for $20. The fun starts at 7 p.m.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The season of giving is upon us, mega gyms move into vacant mall space and the CSUB Roadrunners hits it big with a move to the Big West Athletic Conference

 * ... CHARITY: Did you open your wallet and donate to your favorite charity on Giving Tuesday? The day is set aside to put a focus on philanthropy, but giving should not be reserved to one day a
year. If you are part of the CSUB alumni, why not contribute to the university's scholarship fund? Same for Bakersfield College and Taft College. If you are fond of dogs or cats, there is the local SPCA. Want to help the needy? How about the Assistance League or the Boys and Girls Club? Or better yet, volunteer your time at one of our local homeless centers. It will be a gift to yourself.

 * ... HAIL UTAH: And speaking of charity, did you know that Utah is ranked as the most charitable state in the nation? According to USA Today, Utah topped the nation both in terms of money donated and time volunteered. Rounding out the top five were Maryland, Minnesota, Wyoming and Wisconsin. The least charitable state: Hawaii. California, the Golden State, ranked a lowly 43 among all states.

* ... NEW LIFE FOR MALLS? Across America malls are struggling to compete in this new age of online shopping and the demise of local retail. But some are finding new life by converting retail space once devoted to shoes and sweaters to treadmills and weight machines, opening up thousands of square feet to state of the art gyms. In Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, one mall now sports a huge gym in a former department store space next door to a juice bar, restaurant and Trader Joe's. I wonder if the folks who bought the old East Hills Mall have thought about incorporating a gym into the plans for the new project?

 * ... CSUB: Congratulations to CSUB for joining the Big West Athletic Conference, a pure natural fit for the Roadrunners to compete in almost all sports. And the best part? CSUB gets to play its natural rivals, from Cal Poly to UC San Diego to CSU Northridge and Long Beach State. Fans will be able to travel to games and the university saves $400,000 not traveling to far flung destinations like Seattle, Chicago and San Antonio. I am told that President Horace Mitchell, who will retire next year, worked tirelessly to make this happen. That's a big feather in his cap on his way out the door to retirement.

 * ... MAMMOTH: Good news for all you skiers and snow bunnies out there. Mammoth Mountain is getting some snow, as much as eight inches the other night, ushering in a ski season that will be welcomed here in the lower valley.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The endless expanse of red brake lights on freeways trying to leave Los Angeles for Thanksgiving was our Fall foliage."

 * ... ST. FRANCIS: St. Francis is holding one of its big winter fund raisers on Saturday, December 2, when it presents "A Night in Assisi" at the St. Francis Youth Center. Tickets go for $75 each and that includes wine tastings, local breweries and hors d'oeuvres. You can purchase tickets online at or by calling Carla at (661) 327-4734.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Pro marijuana organization targets Supervisor Mike Maggard in radio commercials, Celeigh Chapman unveils a new album and Lisa Green's son joins the ranks of attorneys

 * ... MAD MIKE: A radio commercial attacking Supervisor Mike Maggard has hit the airwaves, taking him to task for opposing the legal regulation of marijuana. The ad says "Mad Mike" Maggard endangered the public by opposing the sale of legal pot under strict regulations. In the absence of regulations, the ad argues that taxes will go up and crime will increase as the sale of cannabis is
pushed underground. Expect more of this type of blowback from the supervisors' decision not to allow the legal sale of cannabis. Meanwhile, the American Legion endorsed the legal                   sale of cannabis for medicinal purposes, citing research showing an overwhelming number of combat veterans use marijuana regularly to control pain and get off opioids doing so.

* ... LISA GREEN: District Attorney Lisa Green has a lot to be thankful for, but perhaps this Thanksgiving was more special than most. Green reached out to me to share this: "In 2006 my middle child, Andrew, became interested in mock trial while he was a student at Bakersfield High School.  When the other coaches found out I was an attorney, they asked me to help with the team and so began my first of approximately eight years coaching mock trial at BHS (I continued to coach well after Andrew graduated). The really cool thing, is, last Friday Andrew passed the California Bar Exam and in doing so became my first mock trial student to actually become an attorney. Anyway, as you might imagine Jeff and I are so proud of him." As you should be, Lisa. Congrats to you Andrew.

 * ... CELEIGH: And congratulations to Celeigh Chapman, an East High and USC graduate who has produced a new album called "The Winner." Chapman, 32, now lives in Los Angeles and is part of the fabric of the SoCal country music scene.

  * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My husband let me sleep in late and then made me pancakes. Someone please let Dateline know my death was absolutely premeditated."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "If you speed up yoga, you then have breakdancing."

 * ... FALL FOOD: Here are a couple of my favorite culinary tips for Fall: try the lamb lollipops from Pyrenees Cafe, absolutely mouth watering, and the tortilla soup at Mama Roomba. Both perfect for a crisp fall day.

 * ... FAVORITE PIES: And speaking of food, an annual survey of the most popular Thanksgiving Day pies is out and once again pumpkin pie reigns supreme However, it appears that pumpkin is more beloved by Baby Boomers than millenials so a change may be coming. But for today the most popular pies are pumpkin, pecan, apple, sweet potato and chocolate in that order.

 * ... GOOD FORM: And finally, here is some good news to start your day, compliments of Jim and Diane Hankins. "My wife and I attended the Western Band Association (WBA) Championship competition at Buchanan High School in Clovis. Hundreds of wonderful young people from high school bands all over Southern California competed. The splendor and choreography of the bands reflected the untold hours of rehearsal and practice in the months leading up to this championship of the best of the best. Bakersfield was proudly represented by Bakersfield High and West High. The best part of the night was when my wife and I were sitting in the bleachers, the entire West High unit filled in all around us. It was a treat for us to be surrounded by so many enthusiastic young people. They were so full of good cheer and energy. Not one curse word was uttered during the time they sat around us. When competing bands took the field, many West High members shhhh’ed the group. All then watched, cheered and applauded for their competitors."

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Updating that list of things we are thankful for, Taft College pitches in to help victims of the hurricane and Leticia Perez gets a statewide honor

 * ... GIVING THANKS: Have you done a self audit about the things you are thankful for? I have, and it starts with two healthy adult children, a cadre of friends who uplift me and provide a
sympathetic ear when I am down, a job that challenges me and work colleagues who always make me laugh, a doctor (Dr. Raj Patel) who walks me through the mine field of middle age, and a pair of tabby cats (one inside, the other out) who always great me with soft purrs and kisses.

 * ... MORE THANKS: Add to that all the local business owners who go out of their way to provide me with top flight service and food: Claire from Uricchio's Trattoria, Rod and Julie from Pyrenees Cafe, Jake from Jin Sushi, Meir from Cafe Med, Victor from Mama Roomba, Jeff from Salty's BBQ, Shauna from Muertos and Sonny from Mexicali.

* ... TAFT COLLEGE: Did you know that the Taft College baseball team has eight players from Puerto Rico? In solidarity with these athlete-scholars, the campus is holding a campaign to raise $10,000 for hurricane relief aid.

 * ... LETICIA PEREZ: Congratulations to Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez who will be sworn in as president of the California State Association of Counties later this month in Sacramento. The organization is a lobbying, advocacy and service organization representing the state's 58 counties at the state and federal level. It deals with issues as diverse as health care reform, water and climate change and the budget. Perez is the first Latina to ever head the lobbying group.

 * ... KUDOS: Hats off to CSUB political science professor Jeanine Kraybill, who edited a new book coming out exploring the new age of hyper partisan politics. The book is titled "Unconventional, Partisan and Polarizing Rhetoric... How the 2016 Election Shaped the Way Candidates Strategize, Engage and Communicate." Kraybill is a professor of religious studies and political science and appears on my radio show (KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM) every Thursday.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Just when I thought this year couldn’t get worse, I heard a grown woman describe time spent doing art projects as a 'crafternoon.'"

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I'm going to make Thanksgiving bearable this year with my super laid back Xanax cranberry sauce."

 * ... PIE RUN: Don't forget the Pie Run on Thanksgiving morning out at Hart Park. It's the perfect way to start the holiday with a quick run (or hike or walk) into the hills overlooking the park and returning to connect with old and new friends and enjoy some hot coffee and plenty of pastries. Get there before sunrise (follow the tail lights in front of you) and start the day with some exercise.