Author Archives: “

With rising prices, how are we supposed to keep healthy food on our tables?

Read full article  | No Comments

Congress did not agree on a new five-year Farm Bill by the New Year, and milk in the grocery stores are expected to skyrocket, making the dairy industry sell more to the government and less at a much higher rate to us the consumer.

Gasoline and natural gas prices are expected to flux in rates throughout the year, with some heavy spikes upward but tapering down toward the end of the year. This is something that many Americans believe can be cured by local drilling and fracking for energy sources, but this market is controlled globally and we have no control over the worldwide price of a barrel of oil.

We already pay anywhere between $2 and $5 for a 12 ounce box of cereal, the price of bread, eggs, meat, you name it, just keeps spiraling upwards while the content we buy shrinks. I for one am tired of being gouged every day for what are necessities of life.

Though the economy is slated for a slight recovery in some areas there are many of us out there that are now making wages that we made in the early 90s (at an entry level position). This is something that needs addressing from the local to the national level.

It is understandable for the outlandish prices for the luxuries of life, but is a sad state and nation when we have to live paycheck to paycheck just to pay for a place to live, gas to get to work and to keep food on the table. And if you want to eat better, healthy does not come cheap. It does not help that we live in an area that is prone to high home costs, some of the highest gas prices in the nation and with many of our cities taxing us every time we turn around.

By the way, whose stupid idea was it to have property taxes due during the holidays and at tax time? (Sorry, I wandered)

There are ways around the price gouging, but it comes at a cost. Creative shopping usually means shopping for the best deals at the right time and right place. Collecting coupons that normally bring a product down to its original price makes you feel better at the register when the receipt states that you have saved so much money on your purchases, but in reality it is all a rouse. We are still overpaying for the necessities of life, and we are spending more time, energy and gas trolling from store to store to get the best deal. And the best deal usually means a lower end product, gadgets made in third world countries and seafood from places that we have no control or there are no regulations to protect our safety. It is a dim reality and it does not look as if the powers that be care enough about its own citizens to ensure that the people have affordable access to healthier products.

So we start at the bottom, which is easy because we are already there. with our city governments. We continuously hear about expansion, bringing jobs in, drawing in tourism to bring dollars to the cities, but the money rarely increases in the pockets of the average American. What is needed is a government that looks at the big picture, and that includes the daily lives of constituents. When it comes to a roof over my head, gas to get to work, the ability to stay warm in winter and keeping food on my table, there is very little I see in city halls to the congressional floor that make it through our labyrinth of current politics that addresses these basic needs in life.

Only we the people can change this. Over the past few years we have seen countries in uproar because of the disparity and suppression of the people. This might work for a quick change, but not a better one, because chaos begets chaos. We need to find a common way to make sense of how our dollars and cents dictate our lives.

As another election year is ready at the gate, the one question that I want every politician to answer is how will your representation for me in government help me keep my family sheltered, clothed and fed in such a volatile economy, broken by the greedy and the inability of bipartisanship for the good of all?

Read More

A great show for all at the Cuyamaca College’s Winter Wonder Jam

Read full article  | No Comments

Winter Wonder Jam

Winter Wonder Jam Concert

Cuyamaca College’s Music Industry students put on a great performance on Friday, Dec. 6, at the Cuyamaca College Performing Arts Theater. This is an event that is entirely produced by students in the program and they cover every facet of the concert, from finding local talent, marketing, and stage set up and transitions. Now in its fifth year, the Winter Wonder Jam is a tradition for this program and students work all semester under co-instructors Annie Zuckerman and Taylor Smith.

This year’s line-up was impressive, both in style and genre and provided the audience with an impressive array of talent in the four performances of the evening.

Jay Williams

Jay Williams

Jay Williams

What began as a band singing a Christmas song, quickly transitioned into the instrumental guitarist displaying his mastering fingers on the fret of an electric guitar. His jazzy blues style of playing was as soothing and electrifying as a vocalist that understands when and where to put the power of voice in a song. As soon as he would pull back in a soft melodic rhythm, his fingers would dance up and down the fret bringing powerful runs from high to low with the precision of a brain surgeon.

Not a note was missed, and his proficient playing proved to be the perfect start to a great show.





Gabriel Valentin Digital Lizards of Doom

Gabriel Valentin
Digital Lizards of Doom

Digital Lizards of Doom (D.L.O.D.)/Gabriel Valentin

Gabriel Valentin stole the show and the audience in the second act. A one-man band that depends on electronic beats, a floor based vocal processor and his talented finders on the electric guitar, his personality lit up the stage. He commanded the stage with his wit and charm, making people move up to the stage and his whimsical comments to production to turn down the lights and “keeping it sexy.”

His rock, blues and dance music is as exclusive as his voice and each piece performed was different in style, message and delivery. There would be no mistaking his sound and his unique voice is unmistakable. From hard rock to melodic blues, he entertained the crowd and watching how much he loved to perform was as enjoyable as the music. He is one to watch for, and should have a great career in the music industry ahead.




It All Starts Here

It All Starts Here

It All Starts Here

This pop/punk four man band had a rough beginning, but mostly due to technical difficulties. The music overpowered the vocals and for the first couple of songs they just didn’t get into sync with each other. It was more like dueling guitars. When they began to play “Disaster” the first thought was that this should be the name of the band, but something changed and they finally clicked together. From there on out, they were entertaining and the crowd loved them. Much of the band’s sound is reminiscent of the grunge rock style, and the vocals interestingly reverberate off the music to create a punk style that stands on its own. After Friday’s show, they had just received notice for its first performance at San Diego’s House of Blues.




Lyrical Groove

Brisa Johnson Lyrical Groove

Brisa Johnson
Lyrical Groove

Awesome. That is the best word to describe this band. The players and vocalists were spot on and its message was brought through a hip-hop, bluesy jazz combination. Kendrick Dial’s hip-hop rap was as smooth as butter and best of all the messages of all the band’s songs were in the light, and not the dark of many of today’s hip-hop artist.  Along his side, the stellar voice of Brisa Johnson stood well on her own and complemented Dial’s hip-hop magic. They were great from the first note to the last. And surprise is great, and that is what they did as Johnson channeled some of Aretha Franklin’s “Killing me Softly” in the middle of one of the songs. Already sold solidly into the performances from the get-go, that was a special moment, not soon to forget. This talented band is ready for the mainstream and well worth looking for performing around the county.

Read More

Small Business Saturday is here and open for discussion.

Read full article  | No Comments

In speaking with a small business owner earlier this week, she said that if everyone dedicated $20 in holiday spending in local shops, it would make a large impact on the local economies of our communities. Small businesses are the backbone of our communities and need to be supported all year long, not just once a year.

There are several other benefits in shopping local other than stimulating the economy in your own neighborhood. In most cases, you can find the really unique gifts that you are looking at for the special people in your life. Many of the local shops also have one of of kind gifts that you will not find anywhere else and are truly one of a kind. From toys, clothing, jewelry, art, food, there is no better way to say you are special than finding that perfect gift for the holidays.

Not many things are as exciting as receiving a gift that is custom made and one of a kind and East County is the home of  mom and pop shops where young and old entrepreneurs alike, provide a service or product that no one else does. It has more meaning, sentiment and longevity that the 75 percent discount at WalMart (or any other mass retailer).

Support small business Saturday as many of our local entrepreneurs will have specials going on, but it is smart shopping to support these businesses year-round. They are your neighbors and the love they have for their own business surpasses that of anywhere else.

Let’s open this for discussion, tell us what small businesses your support, who has the best gifts and why. There are so many to choose from and prices range from business to business that fits the needs and pockets of every economic class.

Support your local small businesses tomorrow and do not stop there. It is good for the shopper, the business and the community.

Read More

El Cajon’s Council Meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 12 is one not to miss

Read full article  | No Comments

11-12-13agenda El Cajon

This coming Tuesday, Nov. 12 should prove to be a very interesting council meeting. The agenda shows an action item to fill former Mayor Lewis’ position and subsequently, if the new mayor is appointed, the process in filling the vacant councilmember seat by January 12.

Even with the short-term requirements to replace the mayoral seat, there are many in the community that feels a special election is needed. I disagree with this point of view, but not for the reasons most might think.

Though I have made it clear that I believe El Cajon needs a more diversified council to represent the community, I still hold firm to the fact that special elections this close to election year is more of a burden on the city and community in terms of dollars spent. And the economy, though growing, just cannot afford what I consider wasted money. A year will not make that much of a difference in policies or projects created and the ones already in place are already well underway.

But that being said, and a sole opinion of one, I think it is imperative, especially with the events that led to Lewis’ resignation, that the diverse population of El Cajon needs to be at the city council meeting on Tuesday to let their concerns, opinions and visions be heard.

Yesterday, El Cajon councilmembers Gary Kendrick, Bob McClellan and Tony Ambrose released statements about the mayor’s resignation and their commitment to providing equal support for all constituents. (Look at attachments below.)

I will be surprised if council votes to spend money on a special election, but the strength of a community combined can be a strong influence on decisions made. Who knows what will happen?

With elections coming soon, and campaigns getting ready to go into full swing, members of the council that want to keep their positions or run for the mayor’s position in 2014, need to comprehend the consequences of their decisions today, because the positions they stand behind today made will follow them to the polls.

I hear from many in the community, and they come from the many diversified community members is that it is time to break up the “Good ol’ boys” pack that leads the City of El Cajon. This is not my terminology, but a phrase I hear repeated consistently in my wanderings throughout the city.

Change is inevitable in many cases, but in situations like this, if change is wanted it is up to the people to create the avenue for change. Sitting at home and not letting your voice be heard, leaves a person no right to complain if the hoped change does not happen. If your choice is for the city to keep running as it is, or that change is the way to make the city move forward, then take the time to be at City Hall on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s agenda is attached.

13 11 05 Letter from Councilmember Kendrick

13 11 05 Letter from Councilmembers McClellan and Ambrose


Read More

Pumpkin pie better than Mom’s?

Read full article  | No Comments

DSC_0008Tis the seasons for pumpkins-and pumpkin pie. Take a trip back in history and try this old-fashioned way of creating the perfect pumpkin pie right inside the pumpkin. It is said that this was George Washington’s favorite-but all I know is that since my mother-in-law introduced me to it many years ago, it is a family favorite and a big hit for parties and those who got the recipe and tried it themselves. This traditional pie can easily become a family tradition.

One thing though, do not depend on the time that the recipe says it takes to cook. It usually, depending on the size of the pumpkin takes much longer. Just make sure the custard is done and each scoop will be a delight.

Simple, easy and inexpensive, this is the pie recipe that will have all your family and friends talking about. Once completed, just scoop the custard along with the meat of the pumpkin and you will not be disappointed.

George Washington Pumpkin Pie

Here’s the original recipe:

1 pumpkin 5-7 pounds
6 whole eggs
2 cups cream
1/2 cup brown sugar *
1 T. molasses
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ginger
2 T. melted butter

Cut off the lid of the pumpkin (hold knife in V position, so outside is wider than inside, so lid won’t fall inside). Remove insides. Mix remaining ingredients, except butter. Fill pumpkin with custard and top with butter. Replace lid and put on pan. Bake at 350F for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until custard is set. It’s great warm or chilled.

Read More

Generation Y columnists coming to the East County Californian

Read full article  | No Comments

Over the past few weeks, it has been exciting working with the journalism program at Valhalla High School. After several submissions by young, intelligent, talented and eager journalists, there will be a new edition to The East County Californian newspaper. Generation Y (the name of the column) will appear weekly, with insights alternating from one young woman and one young man on the problems, needs, wants and desires of this generation that is preparing to be the next generation in charge.

We here at The Cal are extremely excited to see what possibilities this column will bring. Even though we have all been there, times are always changing and a peak into the mind of today’s teenager is not only something that our young readers can relate to, but something that can edify and enlighten parents on what is going on in the every day life of a teenager today. With all of the peer pressure, the exposure to expansive knowledge at a young age, young adults from Generation Y are the best source of information that pertain to their generation.

After reading the first columns, I am extremely excited of what is to come and these young adults definitely have a voice and are keenly aware of what is happening around them. Readers will be introduced to our two new columnists over the next couple of weeks.

In my short time in working with these young journalists at Valhalla, I am impressed with their determination, skill level and desire to delve into subjects and happenings that many teens disregard at this age. It is a great program that will help bring the next generations of journalists on the streets, standing out from the bloggers and revitalization of the age-old yellow journalism that seems to be taking a great hold on America’s media outlets today.

I hold great expectations for the new Generation Y column and higher expectations for the young journalists writing it. It is sure to be an adventure, with great insight and a welcomed edition to The Cal.

Read More

Welcome Rock Church to El Cajon

Read full article  | No Comments

Through the years, I have known many people that attend Rock Church. A strong spiritual entity in San Diego for years, Rock Church just officially opened its new doors in East County, i.e. El Cajon this weekend after a weeklong celebration of prayer and events.

Already, in looking at its calendar of events, Rock Church is wasting no time getting involved in the community and getting the community involved in the church.  Rock Church is well known for focusing on family, faith and kids of all ages and getting them involved in the community, music, bible studies, missions within and around the community and helping people in need. And that is just a few of the many things that Rock Church does in its outreach.

We want to welcome Rock Church to the community and look forward to interacting with them in the near future.

To find our more about Rock Church’s new location and what it is up to and how to get involved if you would like go to its website at You can also find the new location on Facebook at

Rock Church is located at 804 Jackman St., 804 Jackman St, El Cajon, California 92020.

Welcome to the neighborhood!


Read More

Summer Harvest Family Festival begins tomorrow at El Cajon Farmer’s Market

Read full article  | No Comments

Tomorrow begins the Summer Harvest Family Festival at the downtown El Cajon Farmer’s Market. It looks entertaining for the whole family and along with the vendors, there will be music, activities for children, animal ambassadors and much more.

Something new in the mix is the Farmer’s Market is a new non-profit project of the International Rescue Committee. Just a few quick facts, this is supposed to provide healthy choices for low-income families and now they accept EBT.

I don’t want to go too much into it, as I will be there tomorrow for the first day of the festival, to learn more about it and pass it along to you.

If you see me there, (white cowboy hat and a camera around my neck) stop me and talk to me and we can find out what’s happening in your part of town. Here are the dates for the festival that I received from the press release.

Hope to see you there!

Summer Harvest Family Festival at the Downtown El Cajon Farmers’ Market

When: Thursdays in August, August 8, 15, 22, 29, 4 – 7pm

Where: Prescott Promenade, 201 East Main Street, Downtown El Cajon

What: Children’s activities, face painting, animal ambassadors, live music, hot food vendors, artisan food vendors, farm-freshproduce from local farmer

Please join the weekly Downtown El Cajon Farmers’ Market for a series of “SummerHarvest Family Festivals” on the last four Thursdays in August (08/08, 08/15, 08/22, 08/29, 4 – 7 pm). The event features family-friendly live entertainment, special children’s activities, animal ambassadors and face painting alongside the market’s regular attractions of gourmet hot food vendors, specialty artisan food vendors, and farm-fresh produce from local farmers.

Read More

Loving what you do can turn exhaustion to exhilaration

Read full article  | No Comments

Some days you just don’t want to get out of bed. I usually feel that way by mid-week when production is done and the next issue is ready to hit the stands. But like many of our jobs, the cycle never ends. There is very little in between time to recharge our batteries and get you geared up for what needs to be done next.

But, in this line of work, I love what I do and in many cases, it is that getting back to work that rejuvenates me more than a day off.

Last week was a prime example.

Exhausted after a brutal week, late nights and many articles to write and proofread, the process began again on Thursday as usual.

I woke up Friday, had a full day scheduled, but lacked the energy and desire to do so. But what can you do? You get up, get dressed and try to make the best out of the day.

My first assignment was at Challenge Ranch. As much as I love horses, my plan was to get out there, get my interview done and split as soon as possible. It was a hot day and I knew the summer sun would just drain me more.

Everything changed once I got there. My interview with Challenge Ranch and speaking to the six young women that I would have never guessed came from troubled homes and foster care reminded me why I love my job so much.

The horses there were beyond stellar, and in the company of such energetic, intelligent and enthusiastic people that love what they do inspired me to the point I became energized for the rest of the day. I stayed much longer than planned, but did not regret a moment that I spent there. As a matter of fact, I could have stayed there all day.

Saturday morning was the same, but this time I went with the hope that I would meet the same fate as Friday. Going to cover the fundraiser for Chappie Hunter and then the Pride & Identity Celebration were my agenda of the day-a very long day.

But once again, once on site, the energy, determination and enthusiasm of the people I met and spoke with that day energized and inspired me and reminded me of why I do what I do.

I consider my job as a journalist as a community service and when inspired by the people and events that I cover, it drives me to write. I never feel I give full justice to what I witness, but have come to realize that it is because in many cases, I receive much more than I give.

It is a rule, unless you are writing an opinion, blog or column that you keep yourself out of the story. But I think many journalists would agree with me that in most instances, the story becomes a part of the writer. A memory, a moment and an inspiration that is carried on, and inspires me to move forward to the next great adventure, lesson in life, or inspiration that crosses my path.

Find what you love to do and follow that path. If you are not fortunate enough to do it for a living, make every attempt to make it part of your life routine. It will continuously charge your battery and turn exhaustion to exhilaration.

Read More

East County needs more venues for young adults under 21

Read full article  | No Comments

It is very difficult for young adults, between high school and 21 to find things to do to keep them entertained. This is lacking in all of the San Diego region, but is some parts of the county there are very successful venues that specifically cater to this age group.

They provide adult entertainment in music, comedy, pool halls, but without the alcohol. Too many times, these young adults wind up at house parties, binge drinking and getting into trouble. In many cases, just because of boredom and lack of things to do.

After leaving high school, they want more than hanging out at the mall, going to movies, or chilling at a friend’s house. It is a normal progression to want more adult styled entertainment that doesn’t cost them a days worth of pay.

This is a service that every city should look into and one that is often overlooked. And places like this are a proven success, as young adults will travel many miles for a night of live music or comedy. Most of which are found nearer to the City of San Diego and Northern San Diego County.

During this in between age, many find themselves in trouble, travel to Tijuana for kicks and spend their time getting faded with their friends at our local parks or in the privacy of homes. Then they hit the road driving. That is a no win situation.

Providing an outlet for this age of young adults has many benefits, both for the community, parents and the young adults themselves. Family restaurants are fine, but they need a place to be with their peers, meet people their own age and enter into adulthood with safe and entertaining venues.

There is so much local talent here in East County, that this type of place could be filled nightly, making good revenue for a smart business owner, jobs, and most of all, a place for young adults to go and have a good time

Read More