By Allen David
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14
Meanwhile, up in Big Bear, it’s time to count bald eagles. Nope, not some euphemism for payday. Volunteers really are sought—every year at this time, for the past 34 years in a row—to take a winter census of bald eagles in the San Bernardino National Forest. Sounds thrilling! Volunteers are stationed at vantage points around the lakes, where they map and note any eagle observations during a one-hour period. Before they are dropped off they are told to dress warmly, and bring binoculars and a watch. When they are picked up most of them have resolved to get a hobby.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15
Herb Higgins, who was elected to the Norco City Council after campaigning to eliminate council pay and benefits, is signed up for the pay and some of the benefits that Norco provides its elected officials. Natch, he says he isn’t violating his campaign promise. Natch, he says he is donating his pay to needy groups. City records show Higgins signed up for monthly council pay of $550, including $100 that will go into his retirement account. Higgins did not sign up for health benefits but did elect to receive life insurance for him and his wife. Dork.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16
The Temecula Valley is living up to its name, according to the results of a just-released economic impact study, which indicates that spending by visitors from at least 50 miles away is up by 16 percent since 2000—or didn’t you know that the city’s name is a Native American word that loosely translates to “tourist trap”? Oh, yeah, that’s totally true. Father Junipero Serra, himself, used to take the occasional break from expanding the Spanish empire and fostering genocide to sneak out to Temecula for a bottle of wine, a massage and maybe a balloon ride—or maybe catch a show at Pechanga. There’s a funny little story—the locals insist it’s true—about the time he bumped into Sir Francis Drake in the steam room. Embarrassing! And Drake, who had that dry British wit and plenty of time to develop it out there on the bounding main, didn’t make the mistake any easier on the old padre by making some comment that referenced seamen. Ha-ha! Oh, to have lived in those days, with their simple pleasures, unspoiled lands and widespread cases of tuberculosis. Anyway, like I said, according to the results of a new report from the Temecula Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau visitors to the region spent $557 million in 2010. Somewhere, Junipero has that “look” on his face. Love that look!
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18
MONDAY, DECEMBER 19
Superstar guard Chris Paul, whose trade to the Lakers a couple of weeks ago was nullified by an outrageous and unethical move by National Basketball Association President David Stern, comes to the Staples Center for a pre-season game as a member of the Clippers—and helps kick Kobe Bryant’s smart ass by 19 points.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20
On the other hand, that other look—the one that is just this minute crawling across Junipero’s face as he hears that Pope Benedict XVI has moved Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha to the last step before canonization as the first American Indian saint—that one is not so lovable. Serra’s attitude toward the Native Americans he tried/forced to convert to Catholicism and engaged/enslaved to work for the wealth of the chain of Spanish missions in California has always been suspect. It may be the reason he’s still not a saint, getting close to a quarter-century since he was canonized in 1988, although the excuse everybody gives is that he is one miracle short. And now to have Little Miss Kateri Tekakwitha pass him by? This is not a happy dude. Although the Morongo Band of Mission Indians who worship at a chapel in a parish named after Kateri are happy, it’s kind of icky how the church uses sainthood as a marketing and conversion tool. Think about this: Whether intentional or not, Native Americans suffered greatly under missionaries. Lifting Kateri Tekakwitha to sainthood will mollify many Native Americans. But Kateri Tekakwitha is praised for abandoning her own religion and her own people to flee to a Catholic mission in New York and convert to Catholicism—and the members of her family and village who criticized her are portrayed as cruel and wrong. Merry Christmas!