Monday, April 6, 2020

When will Kern County wake up to the dangers of the coronavirus? Plus the oil patch takes a big hit as it struggles to survive, and the small acts of kindness in our world

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 represent any other person or organization.

 * ... CORONAVIRUS: They are telling us that the coronavirus is this generation's Pearl Harbor. It will be terrifying. Thousands will die. And yet, so many in our community flaunt the social distancing guidelines, assuming they have done everything possible and they may be immune from
the virus. You see it at Riverwalk Park where families and friends gather for a day in the sun. You see it on the bike trail when groups of riders in tight formations pass in unison. You see it virtually
everywhere. Is there a point where the deaths and illnesses will spike to such a level that we will all just do the right thing? Or does the human condition defy logic? Kern County is now heading toward 300 infections. What is our number? Five hundred? A thousand? Two thousand? (Social media post of a bike ride this weekend. What is wrong with this picture?)

* ... IS THERE AN UPSIDE? If you look closely, you may find evidence of a silver lining in this lockdown. Friends check in on us out of the blue. A random text from a long lost family member brightens our day. Kindness from strangers. Small gestures that signal we are all in this together. This weekend, this chalk work titled "Be Safe" appeared on one of the shady streets of Oleander, a virtual work of art performed anonymous during the time of peril.

 * ... STARRY NIGHT: Okay, maybe it's not worthy of the great Van Gogh masterpiece "Starry Night" (image below) but have you noticed that the quarantine has cleared our air and skies? Across the world, as well as here in the southern San Joaquin Valley, the stars are visible at night, an unexpected treat and the result of fewer cars and trucks on the road. Tonight, check them out. You will not be disappointed.

 * ... SPOTTED ONLINE: "So now it's cool to walk into a bank with gloves and a mask, but when I did it, it was a felony."

 * ... OIL PATCH: Big trouble in the oil patch. First the price of oil sunk because of the feud between Russia and Saudi Arabia. And now the coronavirus sends oil stocks into the tank. Locally, California Resources Corp. (CRC) is flirting with bankruptcy as it struggles with massive debt associated with its spinoff from Occidental Petroleum a few years ago. AERA Energy also announced cutbacks, yet another shoe to drop in the collapse of the American economy that seemed so robust not that long ago.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check this out, social distancing back in the day, compliments of Art Moore and the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

A leading doctor warns we are entering into a crisis of care locally, The Padre Hotel closes temporarily, words of wisdom from a young teacher and must-see TV in the morning

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 represent any other person or organization.

 * ... CORONAVIRUS: If you listen to the medical experts, we are in for a bone chilling, terrifying month as illnesses and deaths from the coronavirus spike in April. Dr. Brij Bhambi, cardiologist and a physician-owner of The Bakersfield Heart Hospital, said the specter of the virus killing thousands and sending thousands of others to the hospital "sends shivers down my spine." Bhambi said California is
not ready for the virus and in fact there is a dangerous shortage of PPE (personal protection equipment) like face masks, gloves and even respirators. Nationally, the experts warn that between 100,000 and 240,000 could die because of the virus, and that is a "best case" scenario. If the public does not heed the call for social distancing, the death toll could go north of 2 million people. Even worse, Bhambi worried that if we run out of hospital beds and critical equipment like respirators physicians may be forced to make heart-breaking decisions on who gets treated, and who doesn't.

 * ... THE PADRE: The iconic Padre Hotel downtown, resurrected to life with a dramatic renovation back in 2009, has shut down because of the coronavirus. A sign on the Padre's main entrance said the hotel was was expected to reopen on April 30.

 * ... BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB: Hats off to Aera Energy, which donated $100,000 to the Boys and Girls Club at a time when non-profit needs it the most. In normal tines, the organization serves some 8,000 kids at four main facilities and 65 satellite facilities, but today because of the coronavirus, it is serving a little over 100 children as well as providing lunches for 1,000 others daily.

 * ... MUST SEE TV: If you want to keep up with the coronavirus, it's wise to tune into the daily press briefings by President Trump and his crisis team, the briefings by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and locally, Maddie Janssen and Dr. Hemmal Kothary on the KGET morning show. Kothary is a breath of fresh air: authoritative, calm and a straight shooter. Kudos for KGET for locking down Kothary for this important daily segment.

 * ... BAD FORM: I suppose it's good to see people wearing face masks and rubber gloves during this crisis, but is it too much to ask them to discard them properly. In parking lots across town, people are unceremoniously discarding their gloves in the parking lots. Go figure.

 * ... WORDS OF WISDOM FROM A TEACHER: Listen to Jolie Brouttier, a first grader teacher at the Downtown Elementary school, on how we should view this time when our children are out of school. Words of wisdom from a teacher who cares: "Whether this lasts two more weeks or two more months, do not worry---we will get your kids caught up. It is our job; it’s what we are trained to do. Don’t worry if you are not the perfect homeschooling parent; don’t worry if you are torn between working at home and helping your kids. Don’t let these days be joyless for your kids. Twenty years from now, your children will not remember what they learned during the spring of 2020---honestly, they won’t. They WILL remember the time they stayed home with you (or with whomever is caring for them) for a few weeks. They will tell their own children about feeling safe, and loved, and peaceful during an anxious time. They will remember the fun things you did with them. Do what is most important for your family these days."

 * ... HOMELESS: If you notice an increase in homeless encampments along the Kern River, there is a reason for it. Adhering to some new national recommendations, authorities are not disturbing the homeless as long as they are not in dense public settings. That's the word from Jim Wheeler, executive director of Flood Ministries, who questioned the wisdom of breaking up homeless camps and dispersing the homeless in established neighborhoods at a time when  the coronavirus poses such a threat to the general public.

 * ... TRAFFIC (OR LACK THEREOF) When was the last time you saw the 405 this empty. According to a Facebook post, this picture was taken early Monday morning.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out these contrasting pictures from the bottom of the Grapevine, complements of Art Moore and the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Kern County's coronavirus toll reaches 50 (with one dead) and are the numbers getting ready to explode? Plus non profits struggle during the community lockdown and bocce ball is coming to the park along the Panorama Bluffs

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 represent any other person or organization.

*... CORONAVIRUS: Call it gut instinct, or maybe just a hunch, but does it feel like the coronavirus cases are set to explode here in Kern County? Anecdotally we have all heard the stories that we
cannot confirm: a prominent member of our community is in bad shape at a local hospital, a friend of a friend was exposed after a trip to New York and is now sick, two more people are on death's doorstep. The local numbers are spiking and to be fair, this was expected as testing became more widespread. But there is also a  sense that this is now something real, something scary, and something that can happen here. Stay home, we tell ourselves. How silly we were two, three weeks ago when we thought this was something that could not happen here.? In this way Bakersfield is not much different than any other American town that lives in the shadow on the great cities of this nation, but it is now our turn to share the burden of this deadly virus. As reported in The New York Times, smaller communities across the country are now the emerging hot spots, places like Greenville, Miss., Pine Bluff, Ark. and Albany, Ga. Said The Times: "This week, cities and states that had no known cases of coronavirus not long ago have seen the infection's sudden, intense arrival."

 * ... ANOTHER VICTIM: A 19-year old from Shafter has become one of he latest coronavirus victims in Kern County. According to KGET, Joel Herrera says he was diagnosed with the virus last Thursday. KGET said Herrera works at a pharmacy and believes he could have contracted the virus there. He currently is at home recovering. No other family members have been tested. “It feels like the regular flu, you know. It doesn’t feel like anything else, [it doesn’t feel] like something you can’t beat. It’s a flu, that’s how I see it,” he told KGET. There are now at least 50 people who have tested positive in Kern County and one person has died from it.

* ... NON PROFITS: Kern County is blessed with some terrific non-profits, all of which have a few things in common: they run lean, hand-to-mouth operations that depend on the generosity of the public, and they are never far from turning the lights off if their donations tank. So what effect will the coronavirus have on their ability to raise money and keep the doors open? Heading into the prime spring fund raising season, things look bleak. Fund raisers are being canceled, programs put on ice and those who run the non-profits are praying all of this passes soon. Said the New York Times: "Crucial fund raisers and conferences have been canceled or moved to less lucrative online venues. Donors are stretched in many directions, preoccupied with their own problems and much less flush than they were two months ago. Nonprofits that are paid by local governments said new rules against large gatherings were making their services impossible to deliver, placing their existence at risk." Well, we can't do anything but the coronavirus, but we can decide today which non-profit is near to our hearts and we can write them a check. This shouldn't be hard because there are plenty worthy of our largess: CASA, the Boys and Girls Club, League of Dreams, St. Vincent du Paul Homeless Center, the Red Cross, any one of the slew of cat and dog rescue organizations,  the Golden Empire Gleaners, the Bakersfield Homeless Center, the Mission of Kern County, the Kern County Museum, the Bakersfield Museum of Art and more.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Waiting for the government to ban gatherings of more than 4 people so I don’t have to go home."

 * ... LOCAL RESTAURANTS: When was the last time you supported your favorite local restaurant by grabbing a meal to go? I put that question to my listeners on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM and here are some of the restaurants that folks said they would visit this weekend: Mexicali, Burger Factory, La Mina, Angry Barnyard, Leo's, Hodel's, Uricchio's Trattoria, the 18Hundred, Luigi's, Mossman's, Los Tacos on Olive Drive, Frugatti's. Aunt Mae's, Los Mocaljetes, Zorba's, Bill Lee's, Lam's Chinese, Red Pepper, New Vintage Grill, Tina Marie's, Ruben's on Gosford and the Burger Factory.

 * ... BOCCE BALL: Have you heard of bocce ball? It's a type of lawn bowling game popular in Europe that is coming soon to the park along the Panorama Bluffs. Kern County chief administrative officer Ryan Alsop said several bocce ball courts are being built now, offering yet another alternative for the thousands of people who use the park for early morning or afternoon recreation.

 * ... MEMORIES: From the Facebook page Kern County History Fans comes this:

Thursday, March 26, 2020

A CSUB economist predicts we are in for a long recession because of the coronavirus, the number of infected in Kern County reaches 30 and Deborah Leary is recognized for her work with the homeless

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 represent any other person or organization.

 * ... HOLD ON FOR THE RECESSION: Will the coronavirus plunge our country into a recession? That's the word from Richard Gearhart, a professor of economics at CSUB. Gearhart told me it was
 likely we are in for a "long recession' - between 12 and 18 months - as the nation struggles with a
spike in unemployment thanks to so many businesses shutting down. In addition to the jobless claims, Gearhart said keep an eye on the number of workers who have held onto their jobs but saw their hours cut, another sign of a sick economy trying to get back on its feet.

 * ... SMARMY CHARACTERS: I was chatting with Supervisor Mike Maggard the other day and he offered up the simplest, and most accurate in my opinion, reason why the two recent marijuana initiatives failed at the ballot box. Some of the proponents of the initiatives, Maggard said, were "smarmy" and appeared to discredit the effort to bring medicinal pot sales to Kern County. I don't use the word "smarmy" often, but Supervisor Maggard chose exactly the right word.

 * ... CORONAVIRUS: Do you ever wonder why the Kern County Public Health Department doesn't report the communities where the people are sick from the coronavirus? Former city councilman Mark Salvaggio put that question to Public Health Director Matt Constantine who said reporting the communities where virus cases occur may violate HIPPA laws. Constantine also said, "Unfortunately, we are now detecting more positive cases within Kern County and as such we will be able to release some broad geographic areas with positive test results next week."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My husband is working from home and he’s still late."

 * ... DEBORAH LEARY: Hats off to Deborah Leary, a tireless advocate for the homeless and other local causes, who was featured in The Bakersfield Californian this week. Leary was featured in a piece on St. Vincent du Paul on Baker Street, which provides meals for hundreds of homeless every day as well as providing showers and mail boxes so people will have a place to receive their mail. The facility takes no state, federal or local money and exists solely on donations and proceeds from its thrift store. (photos courtesy of The Californian)

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: Only in California.

 * ... FARM BUREAU: Colleen Taber has been named administrator of the Kern County Farm Bureau, replacing Ariana Joven who was appointed government affairs for Kern's largest farming company, Los Angeles-based The Wonderful Co. Taber previously worked as regional manager of the FARMS Leadership Program, where she partnered with Kern high schools to teach young people about local farms and careers in agriculture.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this front page of The Bakersfield Californian during the great Spanish flu.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

As Californians shelter at home, businesses close, the roads clear and people keep a respectful distance from each other. Another casualty: the iconic restaurants that make our community special either close or go to take-out only

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 represent any other person or organization.

 * ... SHELTERING IN: So how did your first weekend go sheltering in place? The town was eerily - and appropriately - quiet with restaurants, bars, movie theaters and events shut down. The bike path
was moderately busy with runners, walkers and cyclists, but other than that it was certainly an odd weekend. We now have six cases in Kern County, and you have to wonder about all the naysayers who complained this was much ado about nothing.

As of 4 p.m. PST on Sunday, the United States had 32,000 cases and 201 deaths. In California, as of 2 p.m. Sunday, we have had 1,468 positive cases of the virus and 27 deaths.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Waiting for the government to ban gatherings of more than 4 people so I don’t have to go home."

 * .. PRICE GOUGING: District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer has a warning for all of you who want to take advantage of the run on food, toilet paper and hand sanitizers: if we catch you price gouging, you will be prosecuted. Zimmer said investigators from her office are routinely checking out reports of price gouging and if a case can be proven, she will not hesitate to bring charges. If you know of instances of price gouging, contact the DA's office.

 * ... RESTAURANTS: One by one the iconic restaurants that serve our community - Uricchios Trattoria, Luigi's Delicatessan, Jake's Tex-Mex, Mexicali, Two Goats and a Goose (formerly Muertos), Pyrenee's Cafe , Cafe Smitten etc - have shut down or gone to curbside takeout service only because of the coronavirus. We will find out shortly how important a role the bars and restaurants play in our community, in terms of socializing, doing business and family time. I miss them already, and I fret over the well being of the owners and the servers, bartenders, cooks and busboys who serve us every day.

 * ... SIGN OF THE TIMES: I came home to find this on my door, notice from one of my favorite Mexican restaurants that they remain open, at least for take-out.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: Speaks for itself...

 * ... MEMORIES: If you didn't think there was traffic back in the day, think again. Take a look at this nugget from our past.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Will the coronavirus trigger a recession, or at worse a depression? Hang on because we are in for a wild ride in the months ahead. Plus Bakersfield College also cancels its commencement

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 represent any other person or organization.

 * ... CORONAVIRUS: Kern County has four confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and now that testing is in full swing countywide, you can expect that number to spike dramatically. No one knows
just how high it will go, but don't be surprised if we end up with 100 local cases or more given how contagious this virus has proved to be. Both the city of Fresno and San Luis Obispo County have mandatory shelter in place rules, and who knows if Kern County and Bakersfield may do something similar? Meanwhile. some economists believe we may be headed to a depression - yes, I said depression - while others are hoping that the worst case scenario is a prolonged recession. Hang on because we are in for a difficult period ahead.

 * ... RESTAURANTS: My heart goes out to all the locally owned restaurants who have been thrown into uncharted waters thanks to the coronavirus. Most have gone to curbside service, while others are considering closing temporarily. Here's a novel concept: buy a gift certificate from your favorite eatery to help them get through this period, and when things clear, use it to celebrate the return to normalcy. In some markets, communities are using GoFundMe to raise money to help the restaurant staffs ride through the recession.

 * ... COMMENCEMENTS: Bakersfield College became the latest educational system to cancel its spring commencement, dealing yet another blow to seniors who had hoped to walk across the stage. CSUB and Fresno State University did the same, and we can expect high schools to follow suit.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Just finished the laundry and all my socks had their partners. Is this what having your life together feels like? "

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Everything you need to know about social distancing you will learn from marriage."

 * ... TODAYS CHUCKLE: I just had to share this.

* ... CRIME: Homelessness, the coronavirus, hoarding... what has our world come to? Well don't forget crime, that has yet to take a day off despite all the other distractions. A friend woke to find his truck had been broken into by thieves who unsuccessfully tried to hot wire the ignition. And so it goes.

 * ... MEMORIES: Back in the 1920s, the Panorama Bluffs were the scenes of weekend social activities as hundreds would gather to watch morotcyles race up to the top. Thanks to the Kern County of Old Facebook page for these magical old photos.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

A Bakersfield teacher implores Gov. Newsom to close our schools. Do the math, she says, without protocols 10,000 people here may be infected by Easter and that is the "best case" scenario

A math teacher’s perspective on Covid-19: Even the best case mathematical scenario results in an over run system  

 By TAMARA CLARK          

A math teacher’s perspective on Covid-19: Even the best case mathematical scenario results in an over run system  
Exponents. Here we are, in the midst of the most pertinent exponent lesson we’ll ever have the displeasure of sitting through. However this time, the bell won’t ring after 55 minutes, freeing us of our mathematical woes. No, Covid-19 is here to stay. Perhaps we do not have any confirmed cases yet, but it’s closing in and fast. Exponents are one of those concepts that can be hard to wrap your brain around. If I save a penny on day 1 of the month and double my savings each day in 30 days I will have $5,368,709.12? That is correct.

This morning March 15, 2020 the Kern County Superintendent of Schools issued a statement reiterating their decision to keep schools in Kern County open. Governor Gavin Newsom took to the airwaves Sunday updating infection numbers to an increase of 14%; 335 confirmed cases and six
Covid-19 related deaths statewide. He also announced the closure of bars and wineries and for home isolation of citizens 65 and over. Closing public places is not enough. We need to close our schools, too.

Regardless of where your thoughts fall on these updates locally and by Governor Newsom, I urge you to consider the exponential reasoning explained here. Further, consider that these figures are reflective of the absolute BEST CASE scenarios as our heroic researchers and first responders work tirelessly to discover the truths and care for those affected by this infection. It is my assertion that we must not discount the documented courses of trajectory regarding Covid-19 in China and Italy and begin our community on the path to social distancing procedures immediately.

The below is what our city will look like in just 30 days, if, for the sake of this discussion, ONE patient tested positive in Bakersfield today and the absolute best case scenario of suggested infection ranges occurs. For every 1 case confirmed it is estimated by virologists at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital that between 10 and 50 exist that are positive for the infection and are unknowingly spreading the virus.

512 is the MOST CONSERVATIVE estimate of the serious life threatening cases (5% of the infected population) requiring ICU hospitalizations in Bakersfield within the next month. Yes, that’s if ONLY ONE patient tests positive today based on our population of 383,579.                                                      

Without social distancing protocols instituted immediately, there will, mathematically speaking, be 1,024 TIMES [not 10 times, 20 times, or even 100 times, but OVER 1000 times] the number of infected people in our city after only 30 days. In this best case scenario, 10,240 Bakersfield residents will be positive for the virus by Easter -- unless protocols to slow the spread are put into effect immediately.

The worst case scenario numbers are much larger, with a multiplier of 50 infected per 1 confirmed case, and the number of ICU critical patients (still assuming, on the lowest side of projections, 5% of those infected needing an ICU bed) would be 2,560 in Bakersfield and a total of 51,200 cases in our city alone.

Here is the real problem, as our seven local hospitals stand today, only a limited number of dedicated ICU beds exist. My research of public record indicates the number is currently in the low 100s. It won’t matter that the majority of the critical care beds will already be occupied by patients not suffering the extreme respiratory distress of Covid-19. The existing non-Corona patients will already be receiving monitoring and ventilation by the doctor, a respiratory therapist and nurse each critical care bed requires. Based on those percentages, even in the best case scenario above even if all ICU beds in the city became available and alternative outdoor shelters were in place, how could the system possibly offer those 512 Bakersfield residents needing critical ICU care?

Only if we now, today, put in place the CDC recommendations including social distancing measures of self quarantine, enhanced infection control in healthcare settings, long term financial crisis planning, and protocols to temporarily empower residents to impose movement restrictions upon themselves does our healthcare system have a chance to weather this. We are all going to have to give up a little to gain a lot in the long run. Why should you limit yourself and your routine if "the odds are in your favor" and you are not in a high risk category? What are the chances we will ALL know someone very personally that will be affected by this shortage of available care? 100%.

Perhaps it won’t be you or one of your children, or even your elderly family members with one of the 5% of Covid-19 cases requiring hospitalization. I’m betting if you’re in a car accident anytime soon your doctor will have been working 18 hour days for the last months because it was required to care for patients. Further complicating things, if you or someone you care about needs a ventilator to survive hospitals overseas are already reporting shortages and attempting to acquire more vents. Here in the U.S. hospital staff and administrators are working tirelessly in attempting to find what they can get their hands on. What if your elderly and ailing parent suffering from diabetes or a stroke goes into distress and may not receive care because the doctors, as widely reported in Italy, are having to make battlefield triage judgement calls on which patients have the best survival chances. In this triage scenario your elderly mom will not get the upper end of that argument when entering the emergency department next to a healthy forty year old father of three. The triage choices that Italian medical professionals are having to make are unfathomable, and they are happening now. It’s not just the elderly that are succumbing to this virus, the immunocompromised cancer patients or bone marrow recipients may not receive the specialized care required for their treatments to continue, let alone be successful. All of the above is currently happening in Italy, who had roughly the same number of infections we have today in the U.S., just weeks ago.  WE must start today.

Above all, let us be kind and empathetic towards one another as we travel this contagion path as a community.

Tamara Clark is a mother to 3 sons, wife to a local fire captain first responder, and 15 year vetern mathematics instructor.

The sole intention of my thoughts expressed here is to raise awareness of basic exponential growth mathematics in relation to peer reviewed published assertions of the heroic medical professionals that are working tirelessly to keep us safe and informed. The opinions expressed here are that of me personally and I have supported my mathematical reasoning with the work of respected researchers and leaders in the field of virology. I have researched the facts and figures included herein and anyone requesting citation is welcome to email me. Anyone, including the metia, is free to share these words, any related content, all or in part, for any purpose in any format with simple attribution to my name, and background if applicable. Please feel free to direct message me via email.

When Starbucks opened its doors (and bathrooms) to the homeless did it also welcome in the coronavirus? Plus Jeff Pickering's hunt for a monster, and are you ready for a two-week lockdown?

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 represent any other person or organization.

 * ... HOARDING AND THE VIRUS: Now that we have survived our first weekend of hoarding and "social distancing" over fears of the coronavirus, are you ready for a total 14-day lockdown ? As
Draconian as that sounds, get ready for it. Throughout Europe - in Italy, France, Spain and Denmark - governments have put the nations on lockdown. The only businesses that are open are banks, grocery stores and gas stations. If you can work at home, do it. Otherwise everything is closed: no bars, restaurants, sporting events or cafes. My hunch is that President Trump, sensing that his reelection is now at stake, will opt for a forceful action that will curtail the virus and show America he is an effective leader. Get ready for it.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I don’t want to be presumptuous, but you can also just wash your hands even if there’s not some pandemic currently capturing your attention. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion."

 * ... GLASS HALF FULL: Meanwhile, is there light at the end of the tunnel? Can something good come from all of this? According to trend forecaster Li Edelkoort, this may be the best thing that has happened to the planet in years. First, Edelkoort said the coronavirus epidemic will lead to "a global recession of a magnitude that has not been experienced before" but will eventually allow humanity to reset its values. According to the website Dezeen, Edelkoort said the virus was causing a "quarantine of consumption" and would have a profound cultural and economic impact. "People would have to get used to living with fewer possessions and traveling less, she said, as the virus disrupts global supply chains and transportation networks. "It seems we are massively entering a quarantine of consumption where we will learn how to be happy just with a simple dress, rediscovering old favorites we own, reading a forgotten book and cooking up a storm to make life beautiful," she said. So there you have it, reason for hope.

 * ... STARBUCKS AND THE VIRUS: Remember two years ago when Starbucks decided to open its doors to the homeless, arguing that we should all be more sensitive to the plight of those who live on the street? It sure seemed like a good idea at the time, unless you happened upon a naked homeless man washing his privates in the sink (yes, that happened to me), or had to endure the endless parade of homeless hitting you up for coffee. And now we have the coronavirus where experts say you can contract it simply by touching a surface where a carrier laid his hands. Those same experts now warn it is just a matter of time before the virus infects the homeless community and spreads like wildfire. Outside of nursing homes, there are few more vulnerable populations than the homeless, many drug addicted and most living in filthy and squalid conditions. So now how will you feel about sitting down at a Starbucks table where a homeless man or woman may have sat? Will you willingly share an eating surface at Starbucks where you know a homeless person may have sat just moments before? Will you lay your hands on the "to go" counter as you wait on your carmel macchiato? Have you ever seen a barista disinfecting the inside of a Starbucks? Well neither have I. Ex Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz loved social engineering, and now his company has to live with his decision.

 * ... HUNTING DOWN A MONSTER: Jeff Pickering is better known as the past CEO of the Kern County Community Foundation, which he ran for five years before landing a new gig in his home state of Florida. But Pickering is now known for something other than philanthropy, the victim of a childhood molestation that he repressed for 30 years before the memory was triggered by the #metoo movement. Grappling with issues he had repressed for decade, Pickering decided to track down the man who molested him when he was just 15 years old, an orthopedic doctor who later faced  similar charges of molestation by other men. To Pickering's horror the doctor, William P. Zink, remains practicing today, despite being prosecuted years ago only to see that trail end in an acquittal. Zink is now practicing in the Orlando area, just an hour or so from where Pickering now lives. Picketing tracked him down, found he was affiliated with AdventHealth in Orlando, and began lobbying the Adventist CEO and others to have him fired. The lobbying seemed to work, and Zink resigned from his Adventist affiliation but his still working. Undaunted Pickering will not give up, and he is now on a mission to have Zink exposed so he can no longer come into contact with young men. Listen to Pickering's story this Wednesday exclusively on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM on the Richard Beene Show. (Jeff and Stephanie Pickering above and Dr. William Zink below)

 * ... MEMORIES: Enjoy these old photos courtesy of my friend Art Moore and the Kern County History Fans Facebook Page.