TUESDAY, JANUARY 23
Not to be snooty or anything, but Michelle Fleming has become accustomed to certain standards of living while growing up in Hesperia—she’s Miss Teen Hesperia, after all. It’s therefore understandable that she’s a little bit nervous today as she leaves her hometown—which boasts probably the highest culture in the high desert—on a 4,000-mile flight to a city called Lima (pronounced: LEE-ma), the capital of a South American country called Peru (pronounced: pur-EW), where the national language is called Spanish (prounounced: SPAN-ish). Fleming is going to Lima to compete in the Miss Teen International Pageant, but that isn’t until February 10, so the obvious challenge is finding something to do for nearly three weeks in this city of seven million people and 33,820 square kilometers. It’s not so much that she doesn’t speak the language. “No, I don’t speak Spanish,” Fleming tells the Hesperia Star, “but I have really good communication skills.” It’s more that Lima is, well, different than Hesperia—different weather, for one example, and different food, for another. Like, they really like to eat duck. And if Fleming doesn’t happen to like the weather or the duck? Well, that’s tough. She’s got to stay until the pageant. Coming home early is not an option. “No,” she says. “I’m stuck.”
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24
Annette Petty of Big Bear leads a small group of consenting men and women through another session of pickleball, which turns out to be neither as sexual nor as briny as you might imagine—unless you count the fact that one of the members of her class is named George Clapsaddle. Anyway, Petty was the 1999 Senior Olympics gold medalist in pickleball, a sport designed to incorporate the rules and tactics of games like ping-pong, tennis, badminton and wiffleball without so much of the pesky running around. Now she’s teaching it twice a week to Big Bear seniors at the Meadow Park gym. Participants (two per team) stand on a small court, on either side of a small net and swing oversized ping-pong paddles at a wiffle ball and, apparently, have fun. And why is it called pickleball? Again, it has nothing to do with sexual innuendo, unless Mr. Clapsaddle is saying it. Instead, it’s something about the name of a dog that used to run off with the ball, back when the game was being invented. So that’s kind of a letdown, too—although rumor has it the dog was naked.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 25
The Palm Springs city council continues to consider a deal to conduct an Indianapolis 500-style event during the typically slow, post-Labor Day tourist season in September. It would be an historic event for the valley, featuring cars reaching speeds of up to 200 miles an hour—or about 195 miles per hour faster than typical traffic.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 26
Raising kids within 500 yards of a freeway drastically reduces the size, function and future of their lungs, according to a 13-year study just released by researchers at USC. According to the report, these kids can inhale 3 percent less air and they exhale it 7 percent slower. It’s even worse in places that already have bad air—the researchers mentioned Riverside, Upland and Mira Loma by name—where kids have an average 9 percent deficit in the amount of air their can expel from their lungs. “You get a doubling” of the damage, says W. James Gauderman, the report’s lead author, adding that “someone suffering a pollution-related deficit in lung function as a child will probably have less than healthy lungs all of his or her life.” It probably doesn’t do any good to panic your children with this information, but you don’t want to tell them to calm down by taking deep breaths, either—that is, if they can even take deep breaths anymore.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 27
Statistics released today reveal that officers from the Barstow office of the California Highway Patrol wrote 35,257 citations in 2006—that’s nearly 97 tickets a day and 5,000 more than they handed out in 2005. CHP officer Greg Smoak wasn’t completely-for-sure-positive, but speculated that the increase in citations could be due to increased traffic on Barstow area freeways and that drivers still are not slowing down.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 28
People mellow out after learning that the nine pot plants stolen Friday from a medical marijuana dispensary in Claremont are pretty much bunk. Darrell Kruse, who owns the controversial business—and expects city officials to use this burglary as another weapon in their fight to shut it down—says the plants were “mother” plants which had not yet matured and would not deliver the desired effect when smoked. “You won’t get high,” he says. “You might get a headache.”
MONDAY, JANUARY 29
Anybody got a couple of Tylenol?