From the emails, voicemails and other sources:
TEAM ROPING MEETS TECH – Attended the 64th Oakdale Saddle Club Rodeo on Sunday. Every year, it seems, the bulls get bigger and meaner. But what stood out to me about last weekend’s event – the caveat being that I hadn’t gone for a few years – is how much technology comes into play in a sport that otherwise prides itself on being a throwback to the Old West.
The big-screen TV at the west end of the arena provided high-quality video replays within seconds of each ride or roping, but it also took fans into the bucking chutes as the cowboys settled in for what, in many cases, were very short rides with very hard landings.
But wait – there’s more: Rodeo barrel clown Justin Rumsford guided a remote-controlled sombrero (mounted on wheels) that entertained the crowd by zipping across the arena floor at high speeds. But the gadgetry also drew the attention of some of the bucking stock, protecting the riders once they were on the ground. And Rumsford tied part of his schtick to a drone aircraft that hovered over the arena and dropped down to within about 30 feet before flying away.
Remote-controlled sombrero ... big-screen TV with the back story ... an aerial drone ...
It’s certainly not your grandparents’ rodeo anymore.
BOTTLED-UP FRUSTRATIONS – According to the Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs, global food giant Nestlé is under federal investigation for continuing to take water from a national forest in the southern Sierra even though its permit for such expired in 1988. Nestlé bottles the water and sells it under the Arrowhead label.
Permitting private companies to bottle water from government sources isn’t unusual.
Former Tuolumne County resident G. Scott Fahey, now of Idaho, in 2011 received a permit from the State Water Resources Control Board to take water in the Stanislaus National Forest. He also received a permit from the U.S. Forest Service to truck out the water. He has taken more than 25 million gallons of water in that time, according to state records.
Nestlé is one of his customers, as detailed in a 2011 story in the Union Democrat in Sonora. Fahey is up to date on his permits, including his forest transport permit, according to Rebecca Garcia of the Stanislaus National Forest.
And last year, I wrote about Oakdale resident Bill Bossard, who, on a trip to Las Vegas, picked up a bottle of water at his hotel. He happened to notice the label read, “Source: Modesto Municipal Water Supply/Modesto, CA.”
It is bottled in Modesto by a company called Hydration Source LLC for companies based in Michigan and Texas, and has been for more than a decade. The Lubbock, Texas-based parent company, the Hurley Cos., is one of the largest private-label bottled water providers in the nation. Some of the water, pumped from city wells and bottled in Modesto, is shipped directly to Las Vegas, while other shipments go to Texas for labeling.
Modesto Public Utilities Director Larry Parlin said he will be reviewing the contract, with the drought making the thought of a Texas company selling Modesto water far less feasible than it was more than a decade ago or even four years ago.
“We’re looking at everything,” he said.
TOP-FLIGHT TWEETING – Monday, The Record in Stockton retweeted one of the great all-time great tweets, posted moments earlier by Jason Anderson @Stockton911.
“Strange scanner traffic: #Stockton PD in pursuit of white man with curly hair who ‘kinda looks like Michael Bolton.’”
And he included a photo of Bolton, just to show you what the perp looks like.
IN SEARCH OF – During World War I, the Patterson & Western Railroad transported minerals from Del Puerto Canyon to a processing plant in town. It operated from September 1916 until August 1920, from Patterson some 23-plus miles to Jones Station. During World War II, it became a road that stretched from Patterson to San Jose, according to the monument west of Patterson erected by E Clampus Vitus in 2001.
The Patterson Museum is hoping to acquire the railroad’s safe. Museum officials know only that it was sold from Edwards Hardware in 1969 or 1970. Anyone with information about it can contact Ron Swift at (209) 892-6355.
MEMORIAL SET – The memorial service for Patterson resident Les Williams, who served in the famed Tuskegee Airmen and died March 25, is scheduled for Saturday in San Mateo, where he lived until moving to the Valley in 2014. The service will begin at 11 a.m. at Sneider, Sullivan and O’Connell’s Funeral Home, 977 El Camino Real, followed by burial at the Skylawn Cemetery at Skyline Drive and Highway 92 in San Mateo.
AUTHOR! AUTHOR! – Matthew Berlin, a 17-year-old Johansen High student, has self-published a fantasy novel titled “Legends of Lustria: Embark” and will sign copies at Modesto’s Barnes & Noble store at 2 p.m. Saturday. More information can be found on Twitter, Facebook or his website www.legendsoflustria.com.
AND FINALLY – To perhaps ease some of drought-related angst, this from comedian Steven Wright: “I bought some powdered water. I didn’t know what to add.”
A dry sense of humor, indeed.