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Village Chat: 04/15/2015

Village Chat

On the morning of April 5, David Field, who lives off Schultz Road, found a pile of bear scat. He said, “There were a number of paw prints in the ground - we had just dug a trench for a water line, so the paws impressed nicely into the soft soil. Secondly, we had about a half yard of sand (from the water line trenching) left over, that was neatly piled into a tight pyramid, with a shovel stuck in the top. This pile was pawed through and strewn all over. All this happened before this recent rain.”

David didn't see the bear, but he knows what he's talking about, having lived for many years in the mountains of Mendocino County. He said, “I have seen dozens of bear scat, at all seasons. I have also backpacked extensively in the Sierras and Rockies, having seen my first bear (in a wilderness camping tent) when I was 14.” He was not able to reach any of the local park rangers - maybe they don't get as excited about bear sightings as we do - but it makes sense that bears and other wildlife are on the move looking for water due to the drought. Thanks for the heads-up, David.

Ben MacLain, astronaut?
Mars One, a Dutch nonprofit group, wants to start a colony on Mars within 10 years. According to their website, “The global search has begun for the first humans to set foot on Mars and make it their home. In an extensive training period, candidates will learn the skills they will need on Mars and on their journey there.”

More than 200,000 people from around the world responded to the first call for astronauts. Those 200,000 were whittled down to 1,058, then to 705, and most recently down to 100 potential astronauts. And one of those is Ben McLain, age 31, who grew up in Kenwood, on Frederica Ave., and went to Kenwood School. Ben and the other remaining candidates will next be divided into teams of four, and “receive their first shot at training in the copy of the Mars Outpost on Earth and will demonstrate their suitability to perform well in a team.” This part of the selection process is being turned into a reality TV show that producers hope will generate funds for the $6 billion program. Oh, and there's one more thing about this mission - it's a one-way trip. The technology exists to send a spaceship to Mars, but not to send one back to Earth.

Although it is unclear if this project will ever get off the ground (pun intended), Ben is excited to be part of it. You may remember Ben as half of comedy team Dakaboom (the other half being Paul Peglar). He's an entertainer, not a scientist. But if I were establishing an entirely new colony on another planet, I think I'd want an artist or two to be part of it.

When asked about his interstellar wanderlust, Ben said, “I think that growing up in such a small town, such an isolated environment, created a sort of cultural vacuum. Everything on TV seemed far away. Popular culture seemed foreign and exotic. I think this vacuum has indeed shaped my life in a dramatic way. I am currently living in North Hollywood and spend most of the year touring the US and traveling the world. Besides almost 30 states this year alone, I will also be visiting Dubai, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Alaska, the Bahamas, Denmark, and Poland. Who knows how directly or indirectly the small-town feel of Kenwood provoked this, but I have to believe it had some effect.

“Traveling is exciting, revitalizing, invigorating. Traveling makes me feel young. I believe my desire to go to Mars is probably an extension of this. What a great adventure. Obviously there is more at stake than just adventure: inspiring humanity, science, humanity's first permanent steps off the planet. In fact my decision to try for this is very complex and multi-layered.” We'll just have to stay tuned … literally.

From left: Suzette, Jeff and Sydney Tyler celebrate Jeff’s birthday with afternoon pedicures.
We saw Jeff Tyler at Palooza on April 1, which happened to be his birthday. He had spent the afternoon with his wife Suzette and daughter Sydney getting pedicures, and Jeff didn't just go in for the foot massage. He had his toenails painted bright blue! However, he did lament that it looked a little too much like Dodger blue. When we saw them, they were off to a birthday dinner at Yeti - a nice change of pace for the owners of Palooza. Happy Birthday, Jeff!

From left: SAY employee Erica, 6th grader Hunter Halkovich, Anya Halkovich, 6th grader Kyle O’Donnell, and SAY Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Eastland.
Last month I told you how Sheila Morrissey's sixth-grade class at Kenwood School was collecting hygiene supplies for homeless youth. The drive ended a couple weeks ago and it was a huge success. Andrea Halkovich, mother of sixth-grader Hunter Halkovich, sent this update: “Nora Russo, owner at Nora Art and Design, dropped off another couple boxes of supplies. Sarah Poletto of Glen Ellen also read about this project on Facebook and talked to her hygienist, Renee Marchant of Wine Country Smile in Rohnert Park [who] donated a big bag full of dental products. The collection box in front of the school has been overflowing and there's a mound of supplies in the sixth grade classroom. This has been such a successful campaign.” The kids delivered 11 boxes of supplies to SAY (Social Advocates for Youth) in Santa Rosa. Good work!

Marion Williams sent in some good news about her son Matt Williams. On Feb. 8, John and Dianne Samples hosted a party to announce the engagement of their daughter Kate to Matt. The two met in a high school chemistry lab that appears to have ignited their love (hey, another pun!) Matt is a graduate of Kenwood Elementary, Montgomery High and Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He works for the County of Sonoma and is a volunteer with Kenwood Fire Department. Kate is also a graduate of Montgomery High, Sacramento State and University of Oregon. She works as a Speech and Language Pathologist in Santa Rosa. The wedding will take place in September. Congratulations, Kate and Matt!

From left: Lisa O’Connor, Michelle Kerwin and John Christofil, with Ed Kerwin (in back), reviewing the Kenwood Press with Emiliano Zapata Salazar in Punta de Mita, Mexico.
Michelle and Ed Kerwin, Lisa O'Connor, and John Christofil were all visiting Gary Doty at his place in Punta de Mita, a sleepy fishing village 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast of Mexico back in February, and they snapped this great photo for us. That is, of course, a bust of Emiliano Zapata Salazar, one of the leading figures in the Mexican Revolution, and Doty orchestrated the photo shoot. Thanks, guys!

Jim and Debbie Knapp of Oakmont are back from their 10th trip with Overseas Adventure Travel, which specializes in small group (less than 16) travel with an emphasis on learning and discovery. Jim said, “This trip was called Ancient Kingdoms and for 16 days we saw a great deal of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, including the temples around Angkor Wat, the secret extensive tunnels call Cu Chi tunnels that the Viet Cong fashioned to hide from us, and others, in the 60s, the killing fields in Cambodia, floating villages on the Mekong … And we ate a ton of delicious Southeast Asian food!

Debbie and Jim Knapp and the Happy Buddha read the Kenwood Press at Angkor Wat.
Obviously Jim and Debbie are big fans of Overseas Adventure Travel, which Jim says are a very good value for the money. “One stays in 3-star, not 5-star hotels, and there is always a good deal of cultural interchange, meals with host families, etc. We have stayed on a farm in Turkey, a relocated farming village in China, a tent camp on the edge of the Sahara in Morocco, etc. Here they are (above) at Angkor Wat in Cambodia in March. Thanks, Jim and Debbie!

Well, this has been a very long chat. I hope you're still with me! One more thing - we are fast approaching graduation season, and we want your news. If you are graduating from high school, college, or post-grad, please send us all your news and information. We'll be publishing all the high school news in the June 15th issue, and the college news as it comes in. Remember, inquiring minds want to know! Thanks to everyone who sent in their news for this issue. It's easy to do. Just email, or call 833-5155 and chat me up! - AQP


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Community Calendar

Food Bank comes to Sonoma Valley
Funky Fridays concerts at Hood Mansion
“Fantastical Family Night” at Jack London
Oakmont Farmers Market
Walk ‘n Wag
‘Forest bathing’ hike
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Kenwood Community Church service
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Al Anon meeting
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