Minnesota is gorgeous this time of year.
I just got back.
It's green all over, a break from the yellow and brown of California by air, and most days are cooler than here. The thought of living there would excite me if it were not for the minus-below temperatures of winter that send a lot of the wealthier snowbirds down to Arizona or Florida in their RVs.
There are lots of ways Minnesota differs from California, such as the accent. Ya sure, you betcha.
My first-ever driving experience through a diverging diamond - this one underneath a freeway overpass - came near Minneapolis. As you know, a diverging diamond design is being suggested in Ceres for the new Service Road interchange. Caltrans has said yes to it, so far. I breezed through it, even though it was different.
I also noted the use of the yellow arrow to make left turns, which I think is ingenious. Here in California, of course, we have the green arrow and the green ball. Sometimes people get confused between the green ball and green arrow of the protective-permissive signal light cycle. The yellow arrow is clear: you may make a left turn if it's safe against oncoming traffic. Seems like a good thing for California to try.
Lots of rural intersections in Minnesota are fitted with wide roundabouts that reduces fatalities. Imagine having roundabouts at places like Service and Crowslanding roads.
I did some calculations based on population and it appears Minnesotans have a lower traffic death rate. That just may be why.
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The Stanislaus County Fair is over. I took notice of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving DUI trailer - encasing a crashed car - parked near the 4-H textiles building. It was eerie to see the translucent images of three sisters printed on a plastic window, who were killed in that crumpled wreckage. More specifically, it was the Toyota Yaris that carried Jennie Monreal, Josie Contreras and Dolores Rodriguez to their deaths on Jan. 25, 2014 near McCall and Belmont avenues east of Fresno. A fourth sister, Elizabeth Rodriguez, survived the collision. Their car was struck head-on by Tranquilino Figueroa, who was sentenced to 18 years and eight months to life in prison for driving drunk during the crash.
That's bad but the danger of texting while driving has surpassed DUIs. The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving drunk. And tragically 11 teens die every day as a result of texting while driving.
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Do you ever feel like there's so much information it's becoming absolutely useless? So much useless information. A lot of the drama that fills cable news is based on lies. Much ado about nothing, especially when it comes to the national media trying to beat down the new president. I'm convinced the goal is to beat on him incessantly to the point that in 2020 Americans will be so fatigued they'll seek change for a relief and then we're likely to get someone worse. We sure didn't see this during eight years of Obama and let's just say there was lots to go after but it was all kid glove treatment.
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The vitriol for the left reaches disgusting, jaw-dropping levels. When it was announced that Sen. John McCain has brain cancer, Australian writer Caitlin Johnstone wrote a piece on medium.com titled, "Please Just F---ing Die Already." She cites the 2008 Republican presidential nominee's support of military interventions as the rationale for her death wish.
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There seems to be some discontent about the color of the new Save Mart Shopping Center, specifically the brown color. Our Facebook link contained this comment from a reader: "Who on God's green earth picked that ugly brown?" I was thinking that when I saw the colors first appear on the Bank of America building, the first in the center to undergo remodeling. The same woman said that "one of my friends described it as baby poop."
I'd have to agree. Other than that, the center is looking very nice.
Similar comments sprung forth from the lips of council audience fixture Len Shepherd who commented about the colors of the shopping center at the northwest corner of Mitchell and Fowler. Yuck.
And someone needs to tell them to do something about the dead landscaping and remove that rotting 4' x 8' piece of OSB attached to the north side of Donut Town that so many travelling southbound see daily.
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If you didn't catch my print interview with Corbin Bernsen, it was videotaped as well. Nearly eight minutes of my half-hour interview may be seen on Youtube.com by searching for "One-on-One with Corbin Bernsen."
Bernsen was very approachable, likeable, down to earth and I must say I have a good feeling that the film Ceres contributed to be a great one. I cannot say the same of Christian Mingle, shot in Turlock a few years ago.
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Speaking of the Hollywood types that descended on our tiny burg of Ceres, I quoted Michael Brown, the husband of actress Marilu Henner, in my article published June 12. What I didn't mention is how he asked about my job, asking "That's not a full-time job, is it?"
I laughed and resisted asking him if being the husband of Marilu Henner was a full-time job. He apparently has never worked as a small town newspaper editor and doesn't understand how much time can go into it, not to mention all the hours one puts in - without overtime.
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Wow, so this fellow named Mark Ramirez really loathes me. Two weeks ago he had a lot to say on Facebook about my column of July 12 in which I shared how I believe most of the younger homeless men are lazy bums. Apparently Mr. Ramirez doesn't read the entire content of my columns because some of his comments are off-base.
Well, here, since the words were put on blast for the world to see, let's put them in print, unedited, to give you full effect: "Benzinger your nothing but a racist immigrant hating big mouth. because you use your biweekly little editorial trying yo convince those 15 reliable readers yippy actually know what you talk about and the crazy thing is the Ceres Courier struggling to compete will put your one-sided views. the only reason I read this piece of trash paper is for the local sports. funny how we went back and forth about the homeless people you decide to make it look you have a heart. you broadcast how you fed a homeless man sleeping under a phone booth which there is none in our city near a subway and you don't even pay for it. wow you should be citizen of the month... that cost you a stupid coupon n you boast but this take me back to our previous discussion about upholding the law regardless of color or crime. vagrancy is a crime but you did nothing but you would call the ice hotline if you THOUGHT a person was an illegal. was that homeless man illegal? are you sure or because he wasnt hispanic you didn't think about that this is why i say you are a RACIST IMMIGRANT HATING BIG MOUTH. i will surely pray for you when you have to account for your actions standing before the only Judge..."
How he ended up mixing race and homeless I don't understand.
Politics can be ugly, I get that. It's rather disheartening though to put time into reasoned thought and logic writing columns only to realize some readers fail to process concepts like the rule of law, compassion versus enabling of laziness and objectivity blinded by ethnic bias.
Social media can be a very rude and forboding, as evidence by a recent exchange on the Ceres, CA - Memories and Current Events page on Facebook. It came when Marco Moreno posted a photo of one of the downtown murals, asking about the project. A cascade answered him, saying it was a result of the celebrated Ceres Paint Festival of May 1961. Then comes this comment by Bryan Strange: "Marco why do you keep taking pictures of our town you're not even from Ceres what does it matter to you." Marco apologizes, saying, "I love local history and I am writing a book about local history. The book will be in Spanish. So the Hispanic community will learn the beautiful history of this town and the man and woman who built Ceres. Again my apologies."
I quickly rose to his defense, saying "You don't need to apologize. You're great."
So much for being a ... what was it ... a racist immigrant hating big mouth?
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Here's your "Crazy Becerra" alert of the week. Our state attorney general contradicts himself again. He sent out a piece titled, "Attorney General Becerra takes action against transaction that could raise gas prices for California families." I was thinking he was opposing his Democrat Party's raising of the gas tax. Instead, he was waging war - as he always does against the fuel industry - against Valero selling assets "that could lead to higher gas prices." Hmm, wasn't it his party - with the help of Republican state Senator Anthony Cannella - who passed the 12-cent increase in the base gasoline excise tax and a new fee based on vehicle value? Becerra continues to be a hypocrite. It's okay for him to pretend like a defender of the people by crushing business interests while he rolls out the red carpet for government to steal more money from you and me.
Do us a favor and the next time you see the name of Xavier Becerra on the ballot, absolutely do not vote for him. What an utter fraud. Yes, I have contempt for him because of his policies. His race has nothing to do with it.
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From my mailbox comes this jewel from Cheri Seibold-Jeffers. It is in answer to the story about the Fourth of July arrest of Sabrina Ann Dial, 46, of Ceres, for striking her 8- and 9-year-old daughters while inside their pickup. I'll share this email with you, titled, "You have committed a crime," unedited, to show you what newspaper editors have to deal with from time to time: "Falsely information,slander,and disfragment of charcitor.You did no investigation for your story ignoring all the surivilence cameras on Hatch rd.Producing and encouraging Ceres police of their long time of corruption.My God have mercy on you for your part in this unethical behavior.I have prayed for you I explained maybe your just lazy or my be you have a family member with special needs,some type of mental illness to where that relitive had to be supervised so she didn't get out of control.Are you seriously thinking any part of Sabrina Ann Dials behavior would be that out rageous to having been completely naked from the waist down abusing her babies.How dare you she is a personal friend of mine as others.We are gonna take you down.Are a Christian or a Demon.I have an answer but I want you to prove you are a child of God in which I challenge you to investigate make contact with people who know her.God says the four horsemen have been seen and the days of end are here.You repatriate the black horse.Death and War.Write a article that proves I was wrong about you or may God have mercy on you for you will reap what you sew."
Do you have any feedback about this column? Let Jeff know by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will read it, promise.