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    HERB BENHAM: Family flocks around their feathered friend

    By The Bakersfield Californian
    Friday, Mar 27 2015 12:25 PM

    Jimmy has a pet bird. Not a $1,200 Congo African grey parrot preening in a fancy cage, but a plain brown sparrow he found five years ago on the ground at his family's ranch on Stockdale Highway.

    "I asked Mom and Dad if we could keep it," Jimmy said. "I was so happy when they said yes." Now Tweety is the Man -- or, in this case, the Bird.

    "Tweety thinks she's a dog," said Rochelle Bittleston, mother to 10-year-old Jimmy and wife to Brad, a tight family unit that is seriously outnumbered by the menagerie surrounding them: 80 Appaloosa horses, eight dogs, two cats and Tweety, the undisputed center of this animal universe.

    Old friend Molly Carnal, who teaches at Rio Bravo-Greeley Elementary, where Jimmy is a fourth-grader, emailed me...

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    VALERIE SCHULTZ: God is a God of change

    The stories of the Bible often serve as proof that, no matter how many thousands of years pass, our fundamental human distaste for change has endured. We humans don't like change. This struck me anew while I was reading a daily Lenten...

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    BAKERSFIELD OBSERVED: A blog about life, media, politics and people

    OIL PRICES: Oil producers have sharply curtailed drilling as the price of crude has plummeted, but it may not last for long. At least that is the opinion of oil magnate T. Boone Pickens, who predicted this week that oil prices would...

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    HERB BENHAM: Be prepared to fall in love, Grandpa Herb

    Columns about pets -- especially cats -- usually find an receptive audience, but Sunday's piece on the birth of Andrew Hunter Oliver, our new grandson, was overwhelming. I learned this: Those who have grandchildren may love them more than...

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    BAKERSFIELD OBSERVED: A blog about life, media, politics and people

    MONTGOMERY WARD: It's amazing how quickly rumors circulate in this age of social media and instant messaging. On Monday, rumors were flying that the old Golden State Mall on F Street was about to be turned into a homeless center run by its...

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    HERB BENHAM: With Sue gone, it's crackers, cheese or whiskey for dinner

    Sue is gone for two weeks. My wife would rather be with her sweet grandson than her husband with the wrinkly neck. Go figure. I'm on my own, which includes providing my own meals. Prior to leaving, she pulled the ripcord on shopping. The...

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    BAKERSFIELD OBSERVED: A blog about life, media, politics and people

    FRACKING: Gov. Jerry Brown launched a no nonsense defense of hydraulic fracturing on "Meet the Press" Sunday, dismissing host Chuck Todd's concerns that the practice uses too much water and could be dangerous. Brown noted California oil...

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    HERB BENHAM: Tears of joy for my grandson

    "Andrew Hunter Oliver Jr. "Born 10 p.m. 3/14/15. "Healthy, nursing, loved." This was the message I sent to my parents, friends and family last Saturday night. I kept it brief. There will be room for superlatives later. Now I understand...

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    BAKERSFIELD OBSERVED: A blog about life, media, politics and people

    MARCH MADNESS: It turns out that our obsession with the NCAA Tournament has to do with a lot more than simply college basketball. According to researchers, doctors report up to a 50 percent rise in the number of vasectomies during the NCAA...

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    BAKERSFIELD OBSERVED: A blog about life, media, politics & people

    R.I.P., SHORTY: Every death is accompanied by a personal story and most of them go unnoticed by the public. John Sacco wanted me to know that the death of 66-year-old Lauren "Shorty" Bristol was not one of them. Bristol was killed in a...

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    HERB BENHAM: New Jeep puts Honda in rear-view mirror

    Heated seats. I have heated seats in my new car. Front and back. It's not the first time I've had heated seats in a car. Every car I've owned has had heated seats. Step into my fleet June through September and the seats are shirt-sticking...

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    BAKERSFIELD OBSERVED: A blog about life, media, politics and people

    KINDNESS: Two talented musicians will make an appearance in town this week, but it is what they will do before their concert that should be noted. Tom Scott and wife Hannah Alkire will be playing as part of Rick Kreiser's "Guitar Masters"...

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    HERB BENHAM: Judge gladly pronounced us man and wife

    John Jelletich died last week. The passing of the former judge brought back memories. Good ones. Sue and I were married on a stormy September day nearly 35 and a half years ago. I mention stormy because September rain in Bakersfield is...

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