California’s San Joaquin Valley produces 25% of our nation’s table food using 1% of the nation’s land. Grapes – table, raisin and wine – cotton, nuts – especially almonds and pistachios – lettuce, citrus, tomatoes are among the more than 250 crops grown in the area. Pretty impressive for what is basically a desert. But it’s using up what water it has available.
During the Independence Day weekend, the downtown plaza in Sonoma (population 10,600) was filled with people enjoying the holiday entertainment and browsing the surrounding shops and restaurants and wine-tasting venues. Two blocks beyond the plaza, three hundred baseball fans watched the Sonoma Stompers take on the San Rafael Pacifics. The finale was a Sunday double-header: afternoon game in Sonoma, then a thirty-mile ride to San Rafael for the evening contest. The Pacifics won both.
Our local history museum has opened an exhibit displaying the work of photojournalists Hansel Mieth and Otto Hagel. Mieth and Hagel chronicled the struggles of working people and persons displaced during the Great Depression and mid-twentieth century America.
Does softball lead to crime? Maybe in this instance. Authorities in Kentucky have broken up a whiskey-theft crime ring. Nine people, who got to know each other from playing softball, were charged with conspiracy. They stole eleven stainless-steel barrels of whiskey worth $100,000 from Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey distilleries. The stolen whiskeys included seventeen-year-old Eagle Rare bourbon and twenty-year-old Pappy Van Winkle.
Also indicted was a security guard for Buffalo Trace, who was paid $800 by the conspirators, to look the other way while thefts occurred. You can read about it here.
Thirty-five years ago – May 18, 1980 – Mt. St. Helens, in southwest Washington, erupted. Fifty-seven people died and property damage totaled billions of dollars. The mountain was suddenly thirteen hundred feet shorter than before. Previously, 9,677 feet tall, its elevation now stands 8,364 feet. Prior to erupting, the mountain had been the subject of daily news reports for months. Every puff of steam or movement at the peak was reported. A daily Mt. St. Helens story became a news staple.
Over the years, I have been to a lot of music concerts and clubs. Lately, there’ve been all these grey-headed and bald people at the shows I attend. Old people have always hated my music. Now the audiences are filled with old people. Why are they there if they don’t like the music? And why are the performers so much heavier than they used to be?