Thursday, October 5, 2017

Instead of rushing to "do something" about gun control, let's focus on something that works. The lessons from Las Vegas, more bobcats sighted in town and my verdict on the Santa Carota hamburger

 * ... GUN CONTROL: One of the difficulties in the debate over gun control is the definition of exactly what turns a semi-automatic weapon into an "assault rifle." Regulating (or outlawing) weapons by design or how lethal they "look" is foolhardy when the internal mechanisms are basically the same as a hunting rifle, which is why I found this piece in the Washington Post by Leah Libresco so interesting. Libresco works for FiveThirtyEight, a website  that focuses on opinion poll analysis, politics, economics, and sports blogging. Said Libresco: "When I looked at the other oft-praised policies, I found out that no gun owner walks into the store to buy an 'assault weapon.' It’s an invented classification that includes any semi-automatic that has two or more features, such as a
bayonet mount, a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher mount, a folding stock or a pistol grip. But guns are modular, and any hobbyist can easily add these features at home, just as if they were snapping together Legos. As for silencers — they deserve that name only in movies, where they reduce gunfire to a soft 'puick puick.' In real life, silencers limit hearing damage for shooters but don’t make gunfire dangerously quiet. An AR-15 with a silencer is about as loud as a jackhammer. Magazine limits were a little more promising, but a practiced shooter could still change magazines so fast as to make the limit meaningless." If the Las Vegas shooting demands a national conversation on gun laws, and I for one think it is appropriate, then we need to spend less time focusing on "doing something" and more on doing something that works.

* ... BOBCATS: Remember those two bobcats that were seen off the bike path below the Panorama Bluffs? Doug White spotted two more, adult bobcats on the bike trail two to three miles east of Enos Lane in August. "The female had already crossed while the male just stood motionless at the path's shoulder while I rode by.  I wasn't about to stop to take a picture. Since they are so rare here, I wonder if they are the same pair."

 * ... CAROTA BURGER: I checked off the Santa Carota burger off my bucket list when I accompanied a group of friends to Temblor Brewing Co. to try the famous grass and carrot-fed beef. My verdict: a delicious half-pound burger but at almost $14 with a side of fries, perhaps a little too rich for my wallet. Still, it's worth a try.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "I'm having people over later to stare at their phones if you want to stop by."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Frances Quiroz gave a shoutout to local Dr. William Baker. "My 17-year-old son broke his fibula playing football. I couldn't get him into an orthopedic, because no one would see him. I was referred to Dr. Baker by the athletic director at my son's school. Within 30 minutes we were sitting in his waiting room... and he managed to get my son seen by an ortho within hours. After the day I had, dealing with the stress of my son having a broken leg, not knowing if he needed surgery to repair it and none of the ortho doctors the urgent care referred us to would see/access him.... the care Dr. Baker and his staff treated us with was so overwhelming that it literally brought me to tears. I would recommend Dr. Baker to anyone and everyone. I feel blessed to have him as my son's doctor. His kindness, care and generosity is not easily found."

 * ... MORE GOOD FORM: Hats off to Tony Martinez who is now volunteering his time with a non-profit that helps needy families renovate their homes and neighborhoods. Martinez, a retired Bakersfield police officer who ran for mayor this last go around, is working for Rebuilding Together/Kern County, a group formerly known as Christmas in April. The organization is helping homeowners in the "Carnation tract" of homes near McKinley Elementary School make basic repairs on their homes.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Can it be possible that the best of humanity was on display in the carnage of Las Vegas? Meanwhile back home, St. Vincent de Paul holds its fund raiser to help the needy

 * ... HOPE: Is it possible that something good can emerge from the tragedy of Las Vegas?
What I witnessed was incredible courage and bravery among so many at the concert, people putting their own lives in danger to rescue others, regardless of race or age or skin color, people called upon to do the right thing when the stakes were highest. It was the human condition at its best, putting to shame the partisan tactics of our ruling political class, the hurtful polemics of our Hollywood elite and the narcissistic behavior of our sports icons. The best of us was on display a night when it rained gunfire on the innocent.

 * ... LOCAL VICTIMS: The list of those killed with links to Kern County is now five: Jack Beaton died shielding his wife from gunfire, Bailey Schweitzer was just 20 years old and starting off in the workplace, 52-year-old Victor Link was originally from Shafter, Kelsey Meadows was a 27-year-old Taft resident and Melissa Ramirez was a recent graduate of CSUB.

* ... GARCES BBQ: Leave it to the folks at Garces Memorial High School to put on a steak barbecue for the ages. The annual Holy Smoke Barbecue was held last week on a perfect evening for steaks, twice baked potatoes and libations. Among those I spotted were Brian and Melissa Dignan, Joe Zeiman, Bruce Haupt, Tommy and Jenny Haupt, Scott Spielman, Gina Pearl, Dan and Katy Raytis, county CAO Ryan Alsop, David Jensen, Jeff and Shauna Rockwell and Victor Martin and Mariah Schultz. Thanks to my friends at Mission Bank, Samy Abiaoui, Lisa Boydstun and Bob Meadows among others, for asking me to attend.

 * ... MORE STEAKS: Yet another of my favorite fund raisers is coming up this Thursday when St. Vincent de Paul Homeless Center holds its annual barbecue to support its work feeding the homeless. The center now provides two hot meals a day to upwards of 400 homeless men, women and children in our community. They receive no federal funds, so they rely on the success of their annual fall barbecue which will be held this Thursday, October 5. Doors open at 5 p.m. and they start serving Harris Ranch New York  steaks and all the trimmings, grilled by Gary and Adam Icardo, at 5:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door - 318 Baker Street, or at the thrift store next door in advance. Tickets are $30. It may be the best $30 bucks you spend all year.

* ... SANTA CAROTA BEEF: And speaking of steaks add this to my bucket list: I see that Temblor Brewing Co. is now offering a specialty hamburger featuring Santa Carota beef, a locally produced grass and carrot fed steak that is unrivaled in taste. Sign me up for that.

 * ... SPOTTED: Two adult bobcats are seen off the bike path at the base of the Panorama bluffs.

 * ... DOWNTOWN: The Soul to Soul concert featuring the husband-wife team of Faith Hill and Tim McGraw was a huge success, not only on the stage before a packed house of adoring fans but in the downtown area where the restaurants were jammed wall to wall. There was a 90-minute wait for a table at Mama Roomba, Urhicchio's Trattoria was packed and we finally snagged a seat at the bar at Jin Sushi before the crowd melted away around 7:30 p.m.

 * ...KUZZ: Congratulations to Melissa Joy Dignan, the former local TV weather anchor who is returning to media to work as an on-air personality for KUZZ radio on the weekends. Dignan worked for KERO TV from 2008 until 2011 when her contract was not renewed. During her time off she spent time raising her three children. She is married to Brian Dignan, head basketball coach at Garces Memorial High School.