Sunday, March 15, 2020

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.

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