College towns: This is one list that won't come as a surprise to all you Cal Poly graduates, but San Luis Obispo has been recognized as one of the best college towns in America. That's according to a new survey by Travel and Leisure, which ranked San Luis Obispo as the third best college town in America. Running ahead of Cal Poly were Burlington, Vt., and Charlottesville, Va. Rounding out the top five were Williamsburg, Va., and Harrisonburg, Va.

Smart dogs: So you think your dog is smart? Check to see if it makes the list of the smartest breeds. According to a survey of more than 100 veterinarians, the smartest breed is the border collie, followed by the German shepherd, poodle, Australian shepherd and golden retriever.

Here's a local version of a near Christmas miracle, compliments of reader Gina Hayden: "Last Saturday morning Sue Anthony from Youth for Christ and volunteer Lewis Lowe were driving up to Camp Owens bringing Christmas dinner to the boys there. The truck Sue was driving blew a tire, shot up an embankment, flipped and rolled back down. Sue and Lewis were banged up but unhurt, but the turkeys, potatoes and pumpkin pies ... scattered across the road. They called for help, and rescuers came. While Sue and Lewis were taken to the hospital to be checked out, the food was gathered to see how much could be salvaged. As it turned out, all the turkeys and potatoes were fine and the 20 pumpkin pies ... not even the crusts were cracked! Dinner was a little late but it was all there."

Good will: Mark Wyatt is the principal of the Bakersfield Adult School who was recently singled out for his generosity to a student there. He wrote me with this thoughtful message: "Student success stories are the fuel that drive great teachers to do what they do. There is a symbiotic relationship between student and staff and nowhere is it more evident to me than at Bakersfield Adult School. Difficult for me is to receive or accept any credit for playing such a small part in someone else's accomplishments. Please give credit where the credit is due -- a tenacious student, dedicated teachers, a hardworking staff, and a community who supports adult education."

Toys: Local Democratic activist Linda Fiddler dropped me a note to tell me about what the local Young Democrats have been up to this holiday season: "They are an energetic group of '20 somethings' that collected over a hundred coats and sweatshirts this fall and donated them to McKinley School for students who needed them. This December they asked people to bring unwrapped toys to all of their events. They have an SUV full of donated toys they are dropping off at the Homeless Center this week. I love these kids!"

Richard Beene is president and CEO of The Bakersfield Californian. He blogs at These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian. Email him at