Saturday, January 21, 2023

The man responsible for the success of the VW Beetle dies, California winter heating bills skyrocket with the price of natural gas, San Jose requires gun liability insurance and a Harvard study finds warm friendships may be the secret to happiness

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 company or publication.

 * ... RIP CARL HAHN: If you ever owned a Volkswagen Beetle, and if you are of a certain age chances are you did, you owe a nod of gratitude to Carl Hahn, the German marketing whiz who as CEO oversaw an

explosive grow of the German "people's car" in the United States. With Hahn as CEO, and behind a clever advertising campaign that emphasized the Beetle's small size and practicality, sales of the VW Beetle rose to a peak of 423,000 in 1968. Hahn died this week at the age of 96. This bit of counter marketing, emphasizing smallness and practicality in a market dominated by Detroit muscle cars, proved a master stroke for sales of the Beetle.

 * ... WINTER HEATING BILLS: Have your heating bills skyrocketed this year? If you're in California, there is aa reason for that. Experts are pointing to uncertainty over when a new pipeline will reopen to deliver relief to customers who are experiencing sticker shock. Heating bills in Bakersfield, depending on the size of the home, have jumped to $400-$500 a month in many cases, and more is on the way.  San Diego Gas and Electric, owned by Sempra, said typical residential gas bills averaged $120 higher in January alone. The Wall Street Journal noted that natural gas production in California is about half of what it was a decade ago.

 * ... GUN INSURANCE: The first mandatory gun insurance law has taken the books in San Jose, and gun owners are already finding a way around it. On Jan. 1 a new law went into effect mandating that gun owners have insurance covering costs related to accidental gunshot injuries or death. Some gun owners are simply placing their weapons elsewhere, outside the city, or joining new legal challenges to the new law.

 * ... LIFELONG FULFILLMENT: At some point in life we will all ask ourselves this: what is the real secret of a full life? Well according to an 85-year study by Harvard, personal connections are the most important factor in long-term health and happiness. Said The Wall Street Journal: "Contrary to what many people might think, it's not career achievement, or exercise or a healthy diet. Don't get us wrong; these things matter. But one thing continuously demonstrates its broad and enduring importance: good relationships.... Good relationships keep us healthier and happier. Period. If you want to make one decision to ensure your own health and happiness, it should be to cultivate warm relationships of all kinds."

 * ... MEMORIES: A couple of important old historical pictures from the Kern County of Old Facebook page, a treasure trove of historical photos. The first one shows Merle Haggard at his local office an the second a wonderful old photo of the Kern County Union High School.