Sunday, November 24, 2019

A breakthrough in solar technology could spell trouble for fossil fuels, Cafe Med closes abruptly and Mexican drug cartels are now focusing on the latest cash crop: avocados

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of any other individual, organization or company. 

 * ... SOLAR BREAKTHROUGH? A story that didn't get much play this week involved a potentially game changing technology in the fight against global warming. Backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the technology uses concentrated solar energy to exceed temperatures greater than
1,000 degrees Celsius (1,800 degrees Fahrenheit). Said one story: "For perspective, that kind of heat is about one-quarter of the temperatures found on the surface of the sun. At that temperature, the energy company—Heliogen—can replace the use of fossil fuels in critical industrial processes, including the production of cement, steel, and petrochemicals, dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions from these activities. This singular scientific achievement was accomplished at Heliogen’s commercial facility in Lancaster, California." Keep an eye on this techonology.

 * ... AVOCADO CARTEL? Are you ready for this? Apparently avocados have become so valuable that Mexican drug cartels are now adding the popular fruit to the list of other products - marijuana, cocaine and other drugs - that they want to control. According to a piece in The Los Angeles Times, Mexican cartels have beens seizing hundreds of thousands of acres of land to plant avocados in Michoacan state, already a region notorious for cartel activity. Said The Times: "Mexico's multi billion dollar avocado industry, headquartered in Michoacan state, has become a prime target for cartels, which have been seizing farms and cleaning protected woodlands to plant their own groves of what locals call 'green gold.'" (LA Times photo)

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER :Saw a rival dad unloading a turkey fryer so I brought him a fire extinguisher.

 * ... ADIOS CAFE MED: Cafe Med, the iconic Mediterranean eatery on Stockdale Highway, is closing after three decades in business. Owner Meir Brown said business had grown soft in recent years and factors out of his control - increases in the minimum wage, skyrocketing utility costs to name two - had made going forward untenable. The closing triggered a tsunami of criticism on social media over customers who held Cafe Med gift cards, some purchased recently, that are now virtually worthless. Brown first announced he was closing this Wednesday but the doors were shut for good on Friday, leaving fans torn between sadness and anger over being stifled with gift certificates. The closing of Cafe Med is just the latest in a long string of local businesses to shut their doors. Others include Joseph's Italian Restaurant, Red Door Interiors and Beverly's Craft store.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to Gary and Deborah Leary, who celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary this weekend. If you have attended a fund raiser where steaks are involved, chances are you spotted Gary and his son Anthony tending to the grill, while Deborah worked the room making sure the trains ran on time. Whether it is CSUB or the St. Francis du Paul homeless shelter, the Learys are among those who have contributed to its success.

 * ... MEMORIES: Here are a few pictures worthy of a walk down memory lane, thanks to the Facebook pages Kern County of Old and Kern County History Fans.

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