Editor's note: Our fourth-quarter visiting editors offer comments on a topic of their choice.
Like many in our community I was disgruntled upon reading about the new fireplace burning restrictions. They don't affect me. I have a lovely gas fireplace, complete with remote control, that heats without fuss or mess and provides all the ambience I require. Still, there is a certain back stiffening that comes with each new ban. A sense that the freewheeling California of my youth is a thing of the past.
A little context and perspective changed my mind. I was unaware of the rigorous efforts of agriculture and industry to comply with the constantly evolving regulations of the Clean Air Act. I didn't know that despite those efforts we in the valley had incurred a $30 million fine that we are paying off through increased car registration fees for the next three years. I didn't know until it was confirmed by Seyed Sadredin of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District that we will certainly incur more fines unless the new burn bans are followed because there is simply nowhere else to seek improvement. I understand the issue differently now and I believe that if we can approach the issue in the spirit of community for the common health and common wealth, we can succeed in regulatory compliance. I was fortunate to have the opportunity of sitting in an editorial meeting at The Modesto Bee while the the challenges were defined. I am sorry to have come to the end of my term because I truly enjoyed every discussion, from groundwater to particulate matter. But, hopefully I will carry forward the lesson of context and perspective applied as I read about each new challenge our community faces without the privilege of a seat at the table.
Ogden, of Modesto, is a homemaker, community volunteer and blogger.
It's about to happen again. I can absolutely guarantee it. I'm rolling my eyes even thinking about it. The only difference this year is that I am jumping into the fray. It has been my MO to show a certain amount of disdain for those who set New Year's resolutions and then promptly drop the ball. Consequently, I don't make New Year's resolutions for myself, and as a rule, I won't offer opinions in that regard. Until now.
Getting and staying fit and losing weight are, by far, the most frequently chosen resolutions. Apparently, there are a lot of people that have trouble with this. If you are one of those, read on. If you've tried everything else and still truly want to lose weight and get fit, try swimming. No, I wasn't a swimmer before, and in fact, no one is more surprised than me that I can actually make it across the pool, much less swim for health and stick with it. (Three years and counting).
United States Master's Swimming (www.usms.org) is a nonprofit organization designed to support organized adult swimming for ages 18 and above. Modesto Area Aquatic Club, our local master's swimming group, uses Modesto Junior College's heated pool for morning, noon and evening swims weekly. MAAC successfully caters to all swimmer levels, from beginners to triathletes. Yes, the pool is heated, and yes, all levels really are welcomed. And no, no one cares what you look like in a swim suit.
Is swimming for everyone? Of course not. But if you haven't tried it yet, trust me you don't know what you're missing. This may be your year to actually achieve that stubborn new year's resolution. Check MAAC's website at http://maacswim.org for all of the information.
Sinclair teaches computer graphics at Modesto Junior College.
I told Clint, "If I kill something, I'm going to eat it, and I'm not about to chew on some greasy bear meat." He told me he didn't want me to shoot anything, explaining he just wanted me to buy a tag so he could use an extra dog. One tag, one dog out of the pickup to chase the bear. Those were new restrictions on my first and only bear hunt about three years ago at Anderson Flat, deep in the Stanislaus National Forest. There, we met about 10 other houndsmen.
Forget about the hunt. We didn't find any bear even with 10 dogs. This is about the men I met that day. Rugged, weathered houndsmen. Men whose animals defined them. Men who would have beaten me for revealing their hunting spot like I did, information that's worthless now with the ban on using hounds to hunt bears and bobcats.
Even that fall day, there was talk about outlawing bear dogs. I wasn't worried as I looked around at those wild, bearded men. No one would dare stand between those guys, their precious dogs and their prey. They would lead an armed insurrection before they drove respectable trucks, carried a dog around in a handbag or wore slacks.
But no houndsman has immolated himself on the statehouse steps, or even set his beard on fire in protest of the end of his way of life this Jan 1. Instead, they signed some petitions and called some legislators and in their doomed campaign, I saw the bird hunters' future.
Very soon, my yellow Labrador's treatment of a wild pheasant will be called "barbaric" and likened to murdering a chicken in a zoo. But I'm warning you, I'm not going quietly like they did. I'll grow a beard and I'll get a lighter.
Taylor, a behavior analyst, lives in Oakdale.