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Edmonton is about 1,300 kilometers from Bakersfield, California, my childhood stomping grounds, but it doesn't keep the news from migrating north of the border (thanks to friends with internet connections). Recently, two interesting tidbits crossed my desk. Both shook the city.
Bakersfield (AKA "Bako" or "the armpit of San Joaquin valley") is mostly known for Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, the "Onion Field" murders, a certain Rolling Stones song, really hot summers & taking the brunt of many a Hollywood joke.
SHAKE YOUR BOOTY: Yesterday, a magnitude-5.1 earthquake rattled residents. It was felt as far away as downtown Los Angeles (about 80 miles from the epicenter). The quake was near the town of Maricopa, 25 miles southwest of Bakersfield. Besides mild tremors, no serious damage was reported. You get a sense for what Maricopa is like, from the API newswire article.
The quake hit at 12:18 PM, but "didn't knock anything off the walls of [Nelda's] mobile home". (Nelda lives on the "right side of the railroad tracks"!). It's that kind of place. Interesting too, that Nelda was preparing dinner at the time the quake hit, while the only other person interviewed, Larry, was having breakfast. What are these people thinking? Hello, it's 12:18 PM. Anybody eating LUNCH?
KICK YOUR BOOTY: The other tidbit isn't quite as recent, but it shook up Bakersfield as much, if not more. There's been a photo floating around on the internet for nearly a year and a half (I received it only a week ago - which only shows how far out of the loop I am), accompanied with the following:
The Kern County, California, Sheriff's Department orders plain white patrol units and has the graphics applied locally. In this case, what they ordered was not quite what they got.
This car was driven for 1 week before an officer noticed what the graphics company employee did on the passenger side of the car. The employee did this on his last day working for the graphics company before he retired.
In this age of digital image manipulation, it's difficult to believe your eyes. As usual, I turned to the 'net to answer the question and, as it turns out, truth is stranger than fiction!
Firstly, it appears that the image HAS been manipulated, but only to a degree. (The part about the doughnuts was photoshopped). The "Kick Ass" part, wasn't, although there are conflicting stories regarding WHO is responsible. As it turned out, it wasn't a paint-shop employee, but rather, the Sheriff's department itself! Mack Wimbash, long time CHP spokesperson turned Sheriff, is partly responsible for his own faux pas, by casually suggesting such a logo was amusing. Locker-room talk gone arwy.
A local news station (KGET 17) ran a story on the incident detailing a timeline of exposure and attempted cover-up. It appears that Mack's efforts to be 'one of the boys' cost him popularity points around town.
Identifying an Urban Legend
Everyone gets those forwarded emails. You know, the ones that have passed through too many email inboxes and would be getting unreadable had they been FAXed. Are thieves targeting women at gas stations by claiming to have picked up your "lost" money? Is Congress passing a bill that would levy a tax on emails?
Is it a fraud or should you applaud?
Usually, one can uncover whether a story is true, by conducting a quick search on the internet. In my searching, I often come across www.snopes.com. They do a great job of identifying those 'urban legends'. It's worth a bookmark. Here's what they had to say on the whole ass-kicking fiasco.
I also found this story, as well. Apparently there was even a "We'll BITE Your Ass" logo pasted on a K-9 car. Smart move, Mack.