Thursday, April 16, 2020

U.S. oil independence is threatened by the coronavirus, wild sturgeon return to the San Joaquin river and are you spending the lockdown fat, drunk and happy?

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.

 * ... OIL SLOWDOWN: Under the Trump administration, the United States has enjoyed a period of energy independence, but the coronavirus pandemic threatens to upend all that. That's according to Chad Hathaway, CEO of Hathaway Oil, who says worldwide consumption of oil is down 30 percent and that may not be the bottom. "We have changed the fundamental nature of travel," Hathaway told
me. "There are no places to sell our product." Hathaway says by the time the U.S. emerges from this pandemic, we will be an oil importer once again. Across the globe, Hathaway said tankers full of oil are sitting idly on the world's ocean, waiting for a place to dock and sell their goods. It's not happening. "We are running out of places to store" the oil, he said.

* ... LOCKDOWN HABITS So how are you spending your time in lockdown? Tutoring your children in math? Reading a novel? Working on a home improvement project? Researching ways to help humanity in this time of need? Well those are good thoughts, but if you believe Forbes, most of us have devolved into couch potatoes who drink too much, eat fatty foods and watch pornography. Listen to Forbes describe us: "It looks like Americans are collectively channeling their inner-slacker attitude. People are consuming more alcohol, smoking weed, playing video games, eating a lot of junk food, binge-watching Netflix and adult films more than ever before... According to investment advice site Motley Fool, 'During the first few weeks of the month, cannabis sales were soaring and spiked around the middle of the month as fears heightened that people would be confined to their homes in an effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic.' Marijuana sales are high in a number of states where it's legal... Pornhub, if you can’t tell by its name, is a popular online adult film site visited by roughly 120 million viewers every day. Now that Americans are self-quarantining at home, Pornhub has seen a large rise in traffic—up 11.6 percent."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Well, millennials finally stopped going out for avocado toast. Can everybody afford a house now?"

 * ... QUOTE OF THE DAY: You just have to love this quote from Sheriff Donny Youngblood, commenting on the party where - amid the pandemic - 400 people gathered for a party in east Bakersfield. A drive by shooting left six wounded at the party and the victims are refusing to cooperate with deputies. Said Youngblood: "You can't regulate stupidity."

 * ... GOOD MARKETING: You have to give it to the folks over at Hoffman Hospice for coming up with a brilliant way to a) lift our spirits while b) raising money for the non-profit during a difficult time. I am talking about those red "Everything Will Be Okay" signs that are popping up in yards around town. Hoffman sells them for $20 each and will deliver to the house of your choice. When one mysteriously appears in your yard (thank you Karen Rowles for the joy you brought to me and Alysia Beene) it is certain to lift your spirits.

 * ... WILD STURGEON: It's been a long time but a rare, wild green sturgeon has been found on the San Joaquin river near Merced. According to Lois Henry writing on her SJVWATER.ORG blog, it had been years that the fish had been spotted that far up the river. Like salmon, sturgeon spawn in rivers and then swim out to sea, only to return to spawn once again. Most sturgeon are bred in farms for their eggs, or caviar. Said Lois: "Though the San Joaquin River Restoration Program is concentrated on bringing back spring run Chinook salmon populations, green sturgeons were also native to the area and evolved in the same habitat so it’s not surprising to see them return as the river has been brought back to life."

 * ... EASTER SUNDAY:  This is a lovely and telling photo spotted in The Los Angeles Times of Easter Sunday in Los Angeles. Enjoy.

 * ... MEMORIES: From the Kern County History Fans Facebook page: "This is the Lakeview #2 gusher at Maricopa, May 1914. It produced 20,000 barrels a day from a depth of 3400 feet."

Sunday, April 12, 2020

A compassionate and empathetic nation comes together on Easter, a local convenience store to give away gas to doctors and nurses, and Pyrenees Cafe closes to wait out the pandemic

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.

 * ... EASTER AND THE VIRUS: Easter could not have come at a better time, a full month into the nation's lockdown. At a time of sacrifice and illness and death, Easter brings us hope and a sense of context that suffering is universal, just as is hope. One of my favorite essayists, former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that this crisis has brought out the best in us, if only we look for it. Wrote Noonan: "As a nation we've learned that as a corporate entity of
330 million diverse souls we could quickly absorb, adapt and adjust to widespread disruption. I'm not sure we knew that. Crazy cowboy nation cooperated with the authorities. America has comported itself as exactly what you thought it was or hoped it was but weren't sure: compassionate, empathetic, committed, hard-working, creative and, as a friend said, funny as hell. Under great and immediate stress there's been broad peacefulness and civility. So far we done ourselves proud."

 * ... GRATEFUL: Rami Batikh is the gregarious, no nonsense owner of the Ramco Express gas station at the corner of 23rd and F streets downtown. He knows most of his regulars by name, is diligent about shooing away the homeless to keep his customers safe, and always greets you with a smile. To show his appreciation for our first responders, Batikh is offering free gas to hospital doctors and nurses two days this week. "I will have someone outside in gloves so they don't have to get out of their cars," he told me. "I am just so grateful for all they do." To qualify just show the attendant a valid ID and enjoy some gas compliments of Rami.

 * .., PYRENEES: Rod and Julie Crawford are owners of the iconic Pyrenees Cafe, and when the virus hit, they pledged to to it the old way: stay open, endure, remain focused on the customer and live up to the proud history of the old saloon and eatery adjacent to the railroad tracks in historic east Kern. For a while it worked. Then the orders came to shut its doors, and that was followed by a brisk take-out service welcomed by its legions of fans. In the end, it was just too much, and Pyrenees will shut down until the pandemic passes. On Facebook, Rod shared this: "Julie and I would like to thank everyone who came to support our family at Pyrenees Cafe, it means the world to us. After crunching the numbers and working with a shoe string staff we have been forced to make a decision that we are not happy with but I hope you will understand. We have decided that we have no choice but to close the doors until this Covid - 19 thing is over. We have had regular customers come every single day and have had the opportunity to meet so many new faces that never even knew Old Town Kern existed until this unfortunate event happened. Since this has happened we have been using the time to remodel and get things done in the restaurant and bar, new seats and booths in the dinning room, fresh paint ... Please accept our deepest apologies for closing the doors, but to reopen, this is something we must do so all our family has a home to come back to and we mean all of you. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. Sincerely Julie and Rod and the staff."

 * ... AUTHOR AUTHOR! Jeremy Adams, longtime history and political science teacher at Bakersfield High School, has authored a book that has hit the market. Called "Riding the Wave," the book is available on Amazon and offers Adams' views on teaching, relationships and how professional teachers and repurpose their classroom strategies. Said Amazon: "Deftly navigate the constant cycles of change and reform with the support of this actionable resource. Author Jeremy S. Adams identifies five key teacher relationships--the self, students, colleagues, administrators, and the community--and outlines how change impacts each. Discover concrete strategies for not only strengthening these relationships but also rediscovering professional purpose and truly thriving in the classroom."

 * ... LOW ACHIEVERS: Are we really one of the worst counties in the nation when it comes to social distancing? That's what a new website says based on "app partners" that record how well we are doing keeping a safe distance from one another. Our grade? According to UNACAST we have inched up to a "C" grade after previously earning an "F" and then a "D." A week ago, UNACAST rate nine counties in California, Kern being one of them, an "F" grade.

 * ... THE BEST, AND WORST, OF US: The pandemic and accompanying lockdown has brought the best, and worst, out of some people. As evidence check out these photos, the first one shot by Peter Wolleson in Seven Oaksand the second by Lois Henry.

* ... GAS ENVY: Check out this photo of a gas station in New Orleans. No commentary necessary.

 * .... MEMORIES: Courtesy of the Facebook page Kern County History Fans, check out this picture of Union and 21st Street in the 1940s and how it looks today.