If you or a loved one receive regular intravenous injections, beware that there is a national shortage of the saline IV bags used to inject drugs in hospital and outpatient settings. It turns out there are only a few providers nationally, and one of them was located in Puerto Rico, owned by Baxter International. Hurricane Maria almost destroyed the Baxter facility, and a second manufacturer in Orange County has had quality control issues. That has left doctors and hospitals across Kern County scrambling to find new suppliers. The Food and Drug Administration is allowing Baxter to import saline and other IV bags from its other facilities in Australia and Ireland until the shortage ends.


Of all the new California laws that went into effect this year, more than a few have me scratching my head. To wit: we now have a third gender choice on our California driver's license: "non binary," which lives somewhere between male or female. Yet another law says Californians can no longer buy dogs or cats on installment plans (huh?) and a third forbids companies from asking prospective employees if they have a criminal record. To what end?


"Yes you impress me. But so do plants that can go two weeks without water."


"It's so cold in the upper half of the USA today that politicians will put their hands in their own pockets."


Last week I threw out some names of promising young people who I hope will consider running for office here, be it the City Council or a local school board. A friend reached out and said I had overlooked one important person: Samuel Van Kopp, a Bakersfield High and West Point graduate who was gravely injured in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan in 2012. He was right. Van Kopp, 29, has worked for Rep. Kevin McCarthy and is now studying for his law degree. Thoughtful, witty and razor sharp, he personifies the type of leadership that this community needs to serve its citizens.


And add Jim Damian to that list as well. The founder and chief executive officer of Stria technology company, Damian is active in local organizations and has the knowledge, commitment and progressive attitude that would serve our community well.


I was pursuing one of my favorite websites (the Facebook page "Kern County of Old") and found a reference to an old watering hole on Edison Highway called Chet's Club. The Facebook entry had this to say about Chet's Club: "Located next door to the Lucky Spot, it was a well known 'watering hole' for Kern residents. The founder and early owner was Chester Earl 'Chet' Thompson (1902-1966). Chet was the biological father for my many-, many-year friend and Kern County of Old member, Jerry Frederick."

Email contributing columnist Richard Beene at His work appears here on Wednesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own. Read more on his blog at

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