Thursday, June 22, 2017

It's time to ban fireworks in Bakersfield, Chick-fil-A is ranked as the best limited service restaurant in the nation and I launch a search for the best watermelon margarita in town

 * ... FIREWORKS: Count me among those who agree with Californian columnist Lois Henry that it's time to ban the personal use of fireworks. For years, much of the resistance has come from non-
profits who argue the sale of fireworks is an important source of funding. Well then how about this idea from my friend Mary Hellen Barro: "Why not publish the names of those non-profit organizations that depend on fireworks sales for their funding? That way, people could donate to those organizations directly, bypassing the fireworks vendors who make a profit off their good will." Sounds reasonable to me. It's time for the non-profits to put the risks to the community over their own needs.

 * ... FOOD: For the first time in 10 years Americans prefer limited service restaurants like Chick-fil-A to the traditional full service establishments. That's the word from the American Customer Satisfaction Index which ranked Chick-fil-A as the top rated limited service restaurant in the country. McDonald's was the worse. In the full service category, Cracker Barrel was ranked highest followed by Texas Roadhouse.

 * ... MARGARITA: And speaking of food,  at the request of a friend I am looking for the best watermelon margarita in town. If you know of a good one, email me at

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Remember that no matter how much somebody loves you, there is a dog somewhere that loves you more."

 * ... PICKLEBALL: Heads up to all you pickleball players out there: Greenacres Park, part of the North of the River Recreation District, has restriped its tennis courts to create four new pickleball courts for this fast growing sport. Meanwhile, the Bakersfield Racquet Club is hosting a big pickleball tournament this weekend, drawing almost 100 players. The tournament runs from Friday to Sunday.

 * ... ORGANIC: Some good news for the folks who live in the Tehachapi area: the annual opening of the Cal-Organic Farms produce stand is opening this Saturday. Cal-Organic, part of Grimmway Farms, opened its Tehachapi stand in 2007 in response to requests from local residents for fresh organic produce like arugula, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, cilantro, collard greens, green onions, parsley and much more. The stand, located at 23968 Bear Valley Road in Tehachapi, will be open every Saturday, June 24 through Sept. 2. Operating hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and cash and checks are accepted (no credit or debit cards).

 * ... BILL LEE'S: Art Moore is a local history buff who shared this memory on the "Kern County of Old" Facebook page. "With $600, Bill Lee founded 'Bill Lee's Bamboo Chopsticks' in September of 1938 on 18th Street in Bakersfield. Born in 1910 in Canton, China, he came with his mother to Bakersfield in the 1920s where he worked in his father's restaurant on 20th Street. He disliked the business and left back to China in 1928 for his education where he began his interest in cooking. Returning to Bakersfield in 1932 he engaged in the grocery business. Urged by his cousin in New York, he entered with him into a partnership to open a Cantonese restaurant. Bill gained sole control of the business shortly after opening when his cousin lost interest. One of the first 'home deliver' food services in Bakersfield came about in 1955 when Bill commissioned his 'Flying Chopsticks' delivery truck. Today, Bill Lee's Bamboo Chopsticks remains one of the more popular Chinese restaurants in Bakersfield. William Chong (Bill) Lee died on June 11, 1990, and is buried at Hillcrest Memorial Park."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bakersfield flirts with setting a new record for heat as we welcome the season of rolling blackouts, professional cyclist Tyler Williams returns to California for a break and some good form around town

 * ... HEAT WAVE: Welcome to the season of excessive heat, rolling blackouts, faulty air conditioning units and the general resignation that we are in for a long summer of temperatures well above 100 degrees. The folks who live in the Haggin Oaks area got their first nasty taste of summer Monday
when some 450 homes lost power, and other blackouts were reported in the Northwest as well. Will we break any records? The website says the hottest day on record for this month was set June, 29, 1976, when the mercury hit 113.9 degrees, and the hottest month on record was July 1988 when we averaged 102.7 degrees. According to another weather website, Bakersfield averages 33 days a year with temperatures over 100 degrees. But hey, it's a dry heat, right?

* ... WELCOME HOME: Welcome home Tyler Williams, the Bakersfield lad and professional cyclist for the Israeli Cycling Academy team who just wrapped up a race in South Korea. Williams took to Instagram to say he is headed back to California after more than five months abroad (he is based in Spain) and is looking forward to being reunited with his wife, Brea Williams.

* ... RAAM: And speaking of cycling, good luck to a crew of local cyclists who are participating in the Race Across America, but this time riding fixed gear bikes. Among those racing are local fitness instructor Joe Peterson, Bill Elrich, Albert 'Vegas' Vasquez, Misha Tyler, Bo Bohannan, along with two riders from Los Angeles. The eight-man team is crossing the country headed to a finish line in Annapolis, Maryland.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Amazon is buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. That's about a  year's worth of groceries at that store."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "It's so hot a Tennessee Williams play just broke out in my room."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Here's an example of some good form compliments of King Door sales consultant Michael Whitmore: "I just wanted to send you a note about the great folks at Stockdale tile. Remember the disabled vet that had his donation jar ripped off a week or two ago in front of Walmart? Well the owner and staff at Stockdale Tile presented a $1,000 check to that gentleman this week to replace the money that was taken. It’s great to know that there are still kind hearted people around."

 * ... BAD FORM: Here's a good reason to avoid California Avenue between H Street and Oak Street while it is being repaved. I was on H Street headed south at the bottled up California Avenue intersection when the driver of a silver pickup tried to cut in front of a woman driving a black SUV. A verbal argument broke out, complete with heads popping out the windows hurling insults, and it ended when the man driving the silver truck threw a soda can at the woman, bouncing off her window.

 * ... MEMORIES: Karene Williams wrote to say she enjoyed "your short piece about the old Sears store in downtown Bakersfield. My mother, Winifred Williams, was auditing supervisor at that location from 1955 until it moved into the new store at Valley Plaza. She continued as auditing supervisor at the new store until she accepted a position in the headquarters offices in Alhambra. After she retired from Sears many years later, she moved to Lake Isabella and worked at the catalogue store until Sears closed their catalogue businesses. Our family has fond memories of Sears and are sad to see it go downhill."