Category Archives: Opinion

Fitness machine: exercise in futility?


NEWS-LEDGER — JUNE 13, 2012 —


I was talking to a longtime friend the other day who had just made the terrible mistake of purchasing something she had to assemble out of a cardboard box, and our little conversation went something like this:

“I am such a fool!”

“What did you do this time?” I asked her with interest.

“Well, let’s just say that I currently have a half-assembled recumbent exercise bicycle scattered all over my living room floor.”

“You mean one of those bikes you can kind of lay back on in a sitting position while you pedal it?”


“But isn’t that kind of cheating?”

“How so?”

“You know, basically relaxing while you’re supposed to be exercising?”

“Well,” explained my friend, “I guess everyone has their own way of getting into shape when its swimsuit time again, and I just prefer to do it the easy way, with as little sweating and expenditure of energy as humanly possible. Anyway, the 24-page manual that came with the darn thing had way too many surprises in it.”

  “Like what?”

“To begin with, it says two people are required to assemble the bike, but when I looked inside the huge box it came in, they had neglected to include the other person. Oh, and do you happen to have a rubber mallet I could borrow?”

“Why do you need a rubber mallet?”

“I’m not exactly sure yet, but the instructions said I will definitely need one to complete the assembly. I think maybe it’s to hit myself over the head with after going through 24 pages of instructions and countless hours of Allen-wrenching when I could have just paid someone $50 to assemble the whole thing for me. I really hate that I am so cheap!”

“Why do you want an indoor bicycle to exercise on anyway?” I asked with interest. “The summer is finally here now and it’s going to be perfect for real bike riding.”

“Well, to tell you the truth, I would much rather exercise in the comfort of an air conditioned room than ride around on a hot summer day in a sweaty t-shirt and soggy sports bra, not to mention a dripping-wet pony tail stuck to my neck. Plus real bicycle riding can be pretty dangerous when you’re a klutz like me. Didn’t you once write a column about falling off your bike and almost killing yourself?”

  “Oh, you mean the time I tried to `pop’ the front wheel of my bicycle up onto a curb in front of McDonald’s in my haste to get a couple of cheeseburgers and a large fry? I haven’t thought of that in a long time. I was sure lucky to land on that poor homeless person after I had hit the curb and flown over my handlebars!”

“Well,” said my friend with a smile, “I doubt that there will be a nice soft homeless person for me to land on when I fall off a real bicycle, so I will just stick to exercising at home, thank you very much. Plus this way I will be able to exercise year-round, no matter what kind of weather we’re having. I really do hate to sweat!”

“Why do you think that is?”

“I don’t really know. I mean, steamy, sweaty love-making back when I was first married was certainly no problem. Isn’t it funny how the situation makes all the difference in this life? For instance, why do you think it is that getting caught out in the rain is so uncomfortable, while my morning shower is always so enjoyable?”

“Good question.”

“Anyway,” said my friend, “I figure I will have my indoor recumbent exercise bicycle all assembled by the end of the week and I will be able to go shopping for a brand new bathing suit before I know it! Oh, and the bike is a beautiful ocean blue, which will go really well with my bedspread and pillow coverings.”

“You’re going to put the bike in your bedroom?”

“Sure! That’s where I have my large screen TV and new speakers for all my favorite music. Like I said, exercising should be as much fun as possible!”

“So,” I asked with interest, “how much did this ocean blue recumbent exercise bike cost you?”

“I’m not going to tell you.”

“That much, hey?”

“A person’s health is priceless!”

  “You do realize, don’t you, that by no later than this time next year, you will be bored to death with that bike, no longer be able to stand having it take up space in your bedroom, taken up Yoga or belly dancing or some other fun way of staying in shape, and end up selling the darn thing at a garage sale for 25 bucks?”

“You know, Daryl, I really hate it that you know me so well!”

  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

From local farms to local schools

NEWS-LEDGER — MAY 30, 2012 —

By John Young, Yolo Co. Agricultural Commissioner and Sealer of Weights & Measures

Farm-to-School programs combine public health and agricultural marketing objectives with the potential to change the way young people eat, think about food and improve their health through development of life-long healthy eating habits.

Farm-to-School Yolo is a three-year program that will link YoloCounty agriculture with the National School Lunch Program,which is offered in YoloCounty to 38,000 students of whom, 65% are eligible for free and reduced meals, five days a week.

  Farm-to-School Yolo is working with school districts in YoloCounty to increase the amount of fresh, local produce offered in breakfast, lunch and after-school snacks in all five school districts and in the Yolo County Office of Education’s Head Start Preschool Program. Farm-to-School Yolo will not only increase the use of fresh, local produce, it will also teach students and staff where food comes from, who grew it and how it should be prepared for peak flavor and nutritional value.

Regrettably, Yolo County has an obesity rate of 26.1% in its Kindergarten-12th grade student population. Intervention is necessary starting with the meals that our most vulnerable young people are eating in our schools. Farm-to-School Yolo recognizes the role of agriculture as part of the solution to this public health issue.  Once fully implemented, Farm-to-School Yolo, working with local farmers, will provide the tools for school food service programs to serve increasingly healthy meals made from scratch, thus avoiding many of the hidden ingredients which contribute to obesity epidemic.

“Farm-to-School Yolo is a piece of the puzzle in building a local food economy, turning the tide of childhood obesity and reconnecting our residents to the land and the people who produce our food,” said Yolo County Board of Supervisors Chair Jim Provenza.

Farm-to-School Yolo is not a start-up.  It isan objective specifically called out in the Yolo County 2030 General Plan, adopted in November of 2009.  It also builds on the successful three-year Yolo Agricultural Marketing Initiative, completed in 2009 by local food, food policy and marketing experts Georgeanne Brennan and Ann Evans.

Recently, Farm-to-School Yoloconcluded a two-year development phase incorporating in its implementation plan the successes of the Davis and Winters Farm-to-School programs. A 60-member, multi-stakeholder Advisory Task Force, chaired by Delaine Eastin, former California Superintendent of Public Instruction, is now in place to facilitate program implementation.

“In Yolo County, we want to take the successful Farm-to-School program in Davis and expand it on a countywide scale,” said Chair Provenza. “We seek to be the model for California, connecting our food service directors to our farmers, bringing fresh, local produce to the plates of our YoloCounty children.”

  Ultimately, the program will deliver school food service professional development; grower/farmer assessment, training and development; menu and recipe templates; a feasibility study of a food hub through the Yolo County Food Bank; and private sector marketing and distribution linkages.

Farm-to-School programs  will contribute to the health of our children, farms, the environment, the economy and our communities.

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

GUEST COMMENTARY: join up & fight tobacco


Yolo County Tobacco Prevention Coaltion

The Yolo County Tobacco Prevention Coalition is seeking new members!

An article in The Sacramento Bee entitled “Wealthy Counties Top the List of California’s Healthiest,” published on April 4,  stated that Yolo County citizens have a far lower smoking rate than the majority of counties in California. This is a huge achievement for Yolo County and we must keep it up. Community members that are willing to do their part to help stand against the effects of the tobacco industries are the key to upholding this consistently low smoking rate, and play a key role in increasing awareness and supporting efforts for a healthier community.

  Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death globally, taking over 5 million lives a year. Today’s cigarettes deliver nicotine more efficiently to the brain, addicting kids more quickly and making it harder for smokers to quit. Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke cause immediate harm to the human body, and can lead to cancer, heart attacks, and lung disease.

The purpose of the Yolo County Tobacco Prevention Coalition is to prevent and reduce tobacco use through education, social norm change, and individual empowerment in our culturally diverse county. The coalition tries to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, counter “Big Tobacco” influences, reduce the availability of tobacco to minors, and promote and provide help with quitting tobacco. A few of the coalition’s recent accomplishments include assisting Yolo County cities and supervisors in reducing cigarette sales to children (via licensing retailers), and supporting Woodland and Winters City Councils in adopting resolutions to offer more smoke-free apartments.

  There are so many benefits to joining the coalition! Coalition members are a group of advocates representing the general public and various agencies including those from the Yolo County school districts, law enforcement, and healthcare professionals. Make a difference in your community, be part of the decision making process, and make your community a healthier place. The coalition meets every other month to network, plan activities, and address current tobacco issues affecting Yolo County.

If you have an interest in preventing another generation from becoming addicted to tobacco products, being part of this coalition is a great opportunity to make a difference.

Please contact Steven Jensen with the Yolo County Tobacco Education Program at (530) 666-8616 or email

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Epic road trip: my parents recall a youthful drive across Route 66 in a ’36 coupe

DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger columnist

NEWS-LEDGER — MAY 16, 2012 —

As all of you know, another Mother’s Day has just come and gone, and like everyone else, I spent some time visiting with my mother this past weekend, and my daughter also had her over to her house for one of my mother’s favorite meals, a yummy steak sandwich from West Sacramento’s popular Club Pheasant.

My mother is 91 years old now, has more energy than I do, and lives in her own little apartment in Sacramento, which she has called home since the passing of my father seven years ago. Until then, West Sacramento had been their home for most of their 63 years of marriage, having moved here shortly after the end of World War II. With the help of the G.I. Bill, they bought a little tract home on Michigan Boulevard and my father went to work for the Southern Pacific Railroad, where he toiled away for the next 39 years. Anyway, while my mother and I were chatting the other night, it dawned on me that when children reflect back on the lives of their parents, the time frame that comes into play usually begins with their own birth, and more or less covers their years of growing up in their parents’ house. In other words, we really do think of our parents “as parents”, and often forget that they were young once, too, with hopes and dreams and a whole life still in front of them long before they ever got around to getting married and raising a family.

  In my case, I know most of the basic stuff about my mother’s youth, that she grew up in a little town in Southern Missouri and that she and her family lived through the most difficult days/years of the Great Depression; that she met my father in grade school and that he was in her life for almost as long as she can remember; that as a young girl she worked in a beauty shop to earn extra money and was always very responsible; and that she adored her father, who passed away much too young from a burst appendix before I ever got to meet him. But other than that, my mother’s life before I became a part of it isn’t all that well-known to me, and I thought I would start doing a little something about that this Mother’s Day.

“So, Mom,” I asked her last weekend, “how did you and Dad get all the way out to California from Missouri after you were married?”

“We drove in a car, silly,” she answered matter-of-factly.

“I know that, Mom,” I said, “but why don’t you tell me all about it?”

“Why?” she asked suspiciously. “And will what I tell you end up in that newspaper column of yours?”

“Maybe,” I admitted.

“Well,” she said with a smile, “it actually is a pretty funny story.”

“How so?”

“Well, you have to remember that your dad and I were just a couple of young green kids back then and we didn’t have a clue about what traveling halfway across the country might be like. Plus I had just had my appendix out and the doctor wasn’t too happy about me bouncing around in a car all the way to California. But your dad had found work out there so we jumped into an old 1936 Chevy coupe and off we went. And you have to remember that this all happened back in the winter of 1941 and since they didn’t have fancy weather forecasts back then, we ended up driving through snow and on icy roads most of the way.”

  “So, did you stay in nice hotels and use the trip as kind of a honeymoon?”
“Are you kidding? We had less than $75 to make it all the way to California – more like $50 if I remember right – and most of that was going to have to be spent on gas, so we stayed in the cheapest places we could find. And for food we had brought some of my mother’s fried chicken with us, along with a pound of bacon, a loaf of bread, and a dozen eggs. And I went and dropped the darn eggs and busted all of them the first night we were unloading the car. So we had nothing but toast and some bacon for breakfast all the way to California. And how we made it through those high mountain passes in all that bad weather I’ll never know. Plus when the windshield wipers stopped working I about froze to death hanging my head out of the window to tell your dad what was ahead of us.”

When I started laughing, my mother said, “Well, if you think that is funny, you should have seen what happened to us when we finally got through the mountains and all that bad weather and out into the desert just before we got to California.”

“So what happened then?” I asked with interest.

“Well, the radiator sprung a leak and started spewing out smoke and water and of course we didn’t have any money to stop and have the darn thing repaired. But it got so bad we finally had to find a gas station and ask for help. After this really nice man looked at it and showed us the problem, we told him we didn’t really have any money for him to fix it, and he said he knew of a little trick that would probably get us all the way to Sacramento before the radiator completely blew up.”

“A little trick?”

“Yeah, and what he did was go get a big old bar of lye soap and then he started shaving it all into the radiator until he had the whole thing filled up with soap shavings and water.”

“You’re kidding?”

“Nope, and sure enough, once we started rolling along again, I guess that soap somehow filled in the hole in the radiator and just like he said, we made it all the way to Sacramento.”

“That is a funny story,” I said.

“But that’s not the funny part!”

“There’s more?” I asked my mother, returning her smile.

“The funny part,” she explained with the kind of warm, happy expression on her face that only comes from recalling a cherished memory, “was that all the way from at least Bakersfield to Sacramento our car kept blowing bubbles out from underneath the hood and everyone who passed us – coming or going – ended up waving and laughing at us. We looked like we were on the Lawrence Welk show with all those bubbles coming out of our car.”

“Now that is a funny story!” I said.

“Oh, what a trip that was,” said my mother, obviously wishing she was 21 years old again, had her whole life with my father still ahead of her, and that they could jump back in their 1936 Chevy coupe, motor out onto old Route 66, and travel every one of those long ago miles all over again.

  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Where the Delta came from

SEABIRDS on a flooded Delta Island (courtesy of Tuleyome)


By Glen Holstein
Tuleyome Organization

Fifteen thousand years ago what became California had no Delta and was in a very different world in which much of North America and Europe were covered by vast continental ice sheets.  By then people occupied most of the eastern hemisphere but few, if any, had yet reached the Americas.

Then what is now central California’s coastline was 26 miles west of its present location.  The Farallons were then not islands but coastal headlands overlooking an open ocean dropping abruptly to great depths.  What is now the continental shelf was a vast dry land plain bisected by an ancestral Sacramento River swollen to great volume by melting glaciers then widespread in the Sierra Nevada.  It entered the Pacific south of the Farallons and flowed through the Coast Range 300 feet below present water level in deep canyons at what are now the Golden Gate and Carquinez Strait.

The climate then along the lower Sacramento was much like the present coast of southern Alaska and British Columbia, but the world was warming.  The great continental ice sheets began retreating, and their meltwater caused seas to rise everywhere.  By ten thousand years ago they neared the present shoreline and by eight thousand had entered the Golden Gate.

  People were definitely in what would become California by then and had established villages in a broad valley just inside the outermost Coast Range ridge.  Soon, however, rising seas following the ancestral Sacramento River’s channel inland completely flooded their valley and created what later arrivals would call San Francisco Bay.  Inexorably seas pushed farther inland flooding more valleys and creating new bays like San Pablo and Suisun until they finally stopped near the present Montezuma Hills five thousand years ago.

There freshwater flowing downstream from the Sierras and Cascades through the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers met seawater flowing inland through the Golden Gate.  They mixed some, but the freshwater mostly flowed outward some distance in a shallow lens above the heavier salt water, which also acted as a hydraulic dam to stop most river flow at the Montezuma Hills and cause freshwater to backup and flood a vast area in the lowest part of the Central Valley.

This flooding starting just five thousand years ago created California’s Delta.  Because sea level rise was gradual, the flooded area always remained very shallow beyond the deeper river channels and became covered by tall marsh plants called tules.  Seas still slowly rose, though, and freshwater in the flooded Delta area also did just slowly enough for each new tule generation to grow on the last’s flooded remains.

  Eventually the latest tule generation grew on many feet of ancestral organic remains which became the Delta’s famous peat soil.  A similar process in the same time period north of East Anglia created England’s famous Fenlands and provided the term fen for similar wetlands around the world.  Consequently the Delta is California’s largest fen and one of the largest in the world.

What happened to it next is another tale.

  Dr. Glen Holstein received his PhD in Botany from UC Davis and is a Senior Scientist with Zentner and Zentner, a local biological consulting company. Glen is Chapter Botanist for the Sacramento Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society , represents that Chapter at Habitat 2020 and was the California Prairie spokesman at its Wildflower Weekend in April , 2005 . He’s also on the Board of Tuleyome, a non-profit organization working to protect the wild and agricultural heritage of California’s Inner Coast Range and Western Sacramento Valley.

Visitor traffic at WESTSAC.COM, plus some tips on online advertising


The News-Ledger’s presence on the web is getting bigger all the time.

Six months ago, the News-Ledger launched and revitalized its sister website,  Since that launch, visitor traffic has about doubled –and it continues to grow. We expect to double the traffic again in the next six to 12 months, aided partly by a new set of website improvements and upgrades.

So if you want to connect with West Sacramento online, there’s no better choice!

BY THE NUMBERS: Our web traffic from the last 30 days:
Monthly Visits:                              5,541
Monthly Unique Visitors:     4,302
Monthly Pageviews:                 11,573
Average Visit Duration:             1:27
(Data is from Google Analytics, an industry standard traffic analyzer, for the 30 days ending on May 9, 2012.)


If you’re thinking of advertising your business on the internet for the first time — either on our website or on someone else’s — you will have to learn a few new tricks.

But it’s not rocket science.  Here are some of the basics:

DO START by making sure, first of all, that you have your own website — even if yours is a very small business. People use the web to find a business more often than they use the yellow pages these days. Your business needs to be on the web when potential customers are looking for you. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy and very cheap to have a basic business website online (as little as around $10-$15 month if you do it yourself).

 READY TO BUY AN ONLINE AD? You can’t just scan your business card, pay somebody to put it on their website, and consider yourself to have successfully “advertised on the web.”

When you go shopping for those online ads, here are some things to consider:

  •   Find a website that your potential customers are visiting. If your ad is going to be seen mostly by people outside your customer base (wrong town, wrong gender, wrong age, etc.), then most of your money will be wasted.
  •   What CPM will you pay? The CPM, or cost-per-thousand “impressions,” tells you the rate you are paying for every 1,000 viewers exposed to your ad. Look beyond any flat rate you’re offered, and find out the CPM. Get a guaranteed number of impressions for your dollars.
  •   Ask for a Google Analytics report for the past few months. In the report, understand that a “unique visitor” counts how many different people (actually, computer IP addresses) visited that website over a period of time, and that’s an important number. “Visits” counts total visits, even by repeat customers. “Pageviews” counts the number of website pages viewed by all these visitors on all their visits. Make sure you “compare apples to apples” when navigating through terms like these.
  •   When you pay for an ad on someone’s website, where will they put it? Will it be right next to the website’s prime content — the stuff people go there to see? Or will it be somewhere way down the page? Will it be buried in a clutter of other ads? Get good page position!
  •   Your online ad should not just be a scanned business card. Plan your ad carefully. It should contain a strong special offer or a promise to satisfy the viewer’s curiosity about something. The appeal should be so strong that the viewer will take the time to  click on the ad. Aim for an offer that’s bold, simple and compelling — like something of value, free, to help you get a new customer in the door.
  • Customers will click on your ad to find out more about your business offer. When they click on your ad, they should be redirected — but not to your website’s home page! Where should they be taken? The answer to that question will cost you the price of a cup of coffee with us!

Call Steve Marschke at (916) 371-8030 or email for more information on advertising at and its sister site,

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

EDITORIAL: crime drama lessons & more

NEWS-LEDGER EDITORIAL, published April 25, 2012

Friday’s (April 20) crime drama caught the region’s attention. Apparently, a lone gunman shot at West Sacramento citizens and police, rammed a patrol car, caused at least one other car crash. He carjacked several vehicles, beat up a birdwatcher, and eventually was cornered in a Sacramento apartment, where he refused to surrender.

Finally, the suspect was shot and killed by deputies.

Amid all that action, there were certainly a lot of chances for other people to get killed or badly hurt, but none were. It sure could have been a lot worse.

  Meanwhile, it will be interesting to watch the actions of law enforcement be dissected and analyzed – the length of time they kept I-80 closed for public safety, the final decision to shoot, and so forth. There will be lessons to learn for next time.
When the River City High School football team had a breakout season a couple of years ago, winning nearly every regular-season game and making it to the playoffs for the first time in what seemed like forever, West Sacramento got excited.

The community paid attention to the winning season, and the city council even presented the team with a proclamation.

This year, the school’s girls’ basketball team had its own breakout season, going 27-4 overall after a near-perfect regular season. They earned their first trip to the playoffs ever.

They deserve a city council plaque, don’t you think?

  No more capital “I” in internet.

As one more tiny sign of a new era, the News-Ledger is going to try to make a slight change in the spelling of the word “internet” – no longer capitalizing the word like just about everybody did when the darn thing was invented.

And if it seems odd to you that the word ever was capitalized in regular use, just consider that this is a common thing with big new technologies. When that exciting and groundbreaking technology called “Radio” was invented, it also originally came with a capital “R.” Only after people got used to the idea did the “R” shrink.

So spelling the word as “internet” is pretty much an admission it’s been around a while and we’re used to it.

TO COMMENT on this editorial, please visit the same editorial at our sister site at by clicking here.

  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper.  It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012