TUESDAY, JUNE 20
Riverside Press-Enterprise “humor” columnist Jeff Girod did not write today’s little feature story about the Redlands company, Trimflex, which is kind of surprising because . . . you know, hahaha . . . the story is about a company that . . . you know, haha . . . sells trim. Don’t know how he could have missed it.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21
No question about it, the people of Apple Valley support our troops, although that’s not the only reason for them to be pleased that a big Pentagon spending bill just survived the partisan politics of Congress. See, $4 million of the money in that bill, which might have gone to keep US soldiers in Iraq better armed and reinforced—and maybe less apt to be left stranded at checkpoints, where they can be kidnapped, tortured and murdered—was steered toward a special Apple Valley school. Who can Apple Valley thank for that? Its own Republican congressman, Jerry Lewis, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Lewis had to fight off the partisan attempts of Congressman Jeff Flake, a Repub—oh, wait, so this wasn’t partisan?—lican from Arizona, who’s been trying to strip self-serving spending amendments from important bills. Flake didn’t stand a chance against Lewis, who’s so experienced at finagling such “earmarks” that he’s being investigated by federal law-enforcement agencies. To Lewis, getting $4 million of Pentagon spending bill money for this particular Apple Valley school was worth it. Why? Well, for one thing, awhile ago the school was renamed the Lewis Center for Educational Research. The services held there every Sunday by the High Desert United Reformed Church also provide a nice opportunity to pray for our troops.
THURSDAY, JUNE 22
I’m watching the United States play World Cup soccer in Germany via a signal bounced off a satellite while reading the morning paper on a broadband Internet connection when I learn that the Temecula police just got a grant to attach Global Positioning System monitors to convicted drunk drivers who are on probation. The cops will be able to follow these people everywhere they go. Suddenly, I don’t feel so good. I mean, last year at this time, they started attaching GPS devices to paroled sex offenders. In March, paroled gang members got tagged with them. By 2007, the GPS device OnStar—which has occasionally contacted the cops against its customers’ will, and whose data has been used in court—will be standard on all General Motors vehicles sold in North America. Yes, this GPS technology is an awesome thing, but it might be a good idea to stop and consider whether it’s really being used in our best interests. Because the US soccer team is losing to Ghana, 2-1, and nobody can find Landon Donovan.
FRIDAY, JUNE 23
Marine Corporal Michael Estrella is laid to rest at Riverside National Cemetery after a bilingual funeral Mass at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church in Hemet. Estrella, a 2003 graduate of Hemet High, was only 20 years old. When he was killed June 14 in combat in Iraq, he became the 2,500th member of the United States military—and second Hemet High alum—to die in that country since the war began. By now, the number of US fatalities has jumped by 20. Meanwhile, some 50,000 Iraqis have been killed in the three years since President Bush ordered the US armed services to attack their country in an operation entitled “Shock and Awe.” Proportionately, that would be the same as if 600,000 Americans had been killed by invaders since 2003. No need to look any further for weapons of mass destruction. We have found them. They are us. It’s shocking. It’s awful.
SATURDAY, JUNE 24
Social justice organizations and third-party candidates join with musicians and artists at Peace Fest 2006, a two-hour rally at San Bernardino’s Feldheym Library to address “Challenges to Safer Communities.” Turnout is so-so. Then again, people can only incorporate so many events into their busy schedules, and Peace Fest 2006 shared the day with closing ceremonies for the Kiwanis Knights of Columbus Little League—which doubled as a memorial service for 11-year-old Anthony Ramirez, whose shooting death on a school basketball court three days earlier made him San Bernardino’s 28th homicide victim this year. A few hours later, 16-year-old Travelle Williams was shot and killed in front of his house in an apparent dispute over a cell phone, becoming San Bernardino homicide number 29. Peace.
SUNDAY, JUNE 25
It’s the morning after the Empire Football Classic—a game between the best high school players from Riverside County and San Bernardino County—and the IE wakes up with nothing but memories of the Toby Gerhart Era. They’re pretty damn good memories, though . . . unless you happened to play against Gerhart during his four years at Norco High as he rushed for a California record 9,646 yards. Then, apparently, you’re left with a lot of sour grapes. Consider some of the reactions after the Empire Classic, Gerhart’s final game, in which he led Riverside to a 34-14 win by rushing for two touchdowns and—while playing defense for the first time since junior high—returning an interception 45 yards for another score. “Toby has proved he is one of the best, but he needs to become more aggressive and show more heart,” said Shareece Wright of Colton High, even though Gerhart outran and tackled Wright during the game. Another Colton player, Alan Bradford, said: “Toby is good and we have respect for each other, but it sure looked like he ran harder on film.” And how about this, from Mike Battisti of Sultana High, who suggested that lots of players could have earned Gerhart’s career-yardage total if they’d gotten to carry the ball as often. “We had a runner in the high desert who is as good as Toby,” said Battisti. Of course, the Toby Gerhart Era hasn’t actually ended, it’s just moved on to the Pacific 10 Conference, where he’ll play for Stanford next year—against Wright and Bradford, who’ll be at USC.
MONDAY, JUNE 26
The Inland Empire chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, which recently added a San Bernardino group to reach out to relatives of homicide victims, announces its next meeting will be July 6 at 7 p.m. . . at 923 W. Mill Street. That’s the address of the Preciado Funeral Home.