CVIndependent

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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Know Your Neighbors

17 May 2017
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The French have always enjoyed a reputation for being much more blasé about matters of amour than Americans, yet the election of new French President Emmanuel Macron, 39, has been accompanied by publicity on his wife, Brigitte—and the fact that she’s 64 and his former high school teacher. Older men with younger women, too often called “trophy wives,” have long been socially accepted with a wink and a nod, while older women with younger men are derogatorily called “cougars,” with varying degrees of disapproval. Celebrities like Cher, Demi Moore and Madonna have brought these relationships to the forefront, all too often with tongue-in-cheek negativity—but the presumption of sex as the key attraction is particularly demeaning to older women in serious relationships with younger men. Social acceptance can be a big factor. Cindy Gallop, a web entrepreneur, points to sexism. “It makes people very uncomfortable … to see the gender equation…
03 May 2017
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April 4 was Equal Pay Day, the day when the average woman finally earned enough to catch up with what the average man had earned by the end of last year. The day started in 1996, when the National Committee on Pay Equity decided there must be a day dedicated to increasing awareness about the gender wage gap. Interestingly, the co-called “liberal” 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned a lower court’s decision and held that it is justifiable when women’s salaries and salary increases are tied to past salary history—even if that history may be discriminatory. The original case involved a Fresno County public schoolteacher, Aileen Rizo, who learned in 2012 at lunch with her colleagues that her male counterparts were making more than she was. A lower court in 2015 ruled in her favor, because, according to U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Seng, women’s earlier salaries are likely…
19 Apr 2017
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You never know whom you might meet at a dinner party. I was surprised when my hosts invited their excellent “caterer” to join the table. I was even more surprised when the affable young man was asked if he would sing to us after dinner. Michael Graham stood by the table and blew the group away with his resonant baritone voice in an a capella rendering of “If Ever I Would Leave You.” We enthusiastically applauded while he modestly beamed. Only 29, Graham is a young man who not only loves the culinary arts, but who sings his heart out with the California Desert Chorale; takes award-winning photographs; and offers personal services from organizing events to IT consulting. “I like helping others whenever I can,” he says. Born in Victorville and raised in Desert Hot Springs and Palm Desert, Graham now lives in Sky Valley. His motivation comes from advice…
05 Apr 2017
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When you move to a new area, there are a few services you must find: a good dry cleaner, someone who knows how to cut hair, perhaps a computer specialist, and a good mechanic. As for that mechanic, there’s La Quinta resident Guy Allchin, who owns Cam Stone’s Automotive in Palm Desert. It’s always refreshing to find native locals in the Coachella Valley who either stayed or came home to start businesses and raise their families. Allchin, 45, was born in Indio and raised on a “farm/ranch” with an older brother and sister. He graduated from Indio High School at 17—knowing exactly what he wanted to do. “I had a Jeep that kept breaking down, so I learned how to do it all myself,” he says. “My dad was a mechanic who owned two gas stations and fixed everybody’s cars. I knew I wanted to own a two-bay repair shop,…
22 Mar 2017
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The service people you encounter every day, to most, are basically invisible: the clerk at the cleaners, the waitress at the café where you get your morning coffee, the plumber who comes to fix a clogged drain, the salesman at the pro shop, the person who checks you in for your doctor’s appointment. Most of us never know who these people really are, or what their lives are like, until the moment one of them displays the kind of interpersonal skills that make them not only personal to you, but also highly effective representatives of the organizations with which they work. One such individual is Carlos Castro Jr., property manager with Public Storage in Palm Desert on Fred Waring Drive. Castro was born 44 years ago in Indio, where he still lives. He is the oldest of four children, who grew up with the understanding that as the oldest, he…
08 Mar 2017
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Many of my friends have stopped watching the news, checking their social-media feeds and listening to talk radio. They feel bombarded by claims and accusations and misstatements and alternative facts and post-truth political strategy. Even people who have been active in the past are feeling disempowered and just hoping their lives don’t go too far south over the next four years. They hope we don’t get into a war. They wish the president and political parties would just get on with governing and let the process take its course. They’re tired. However, Carlynne McDonnell isn’t tired at all. In fact, she’s expanding her activism—and organizing others to do the same. Back in 2015, I wrote about McDonnell and her efforts to support and influence women with her book, The Every Woman’s Guide to Equality, containing advice on how women can stand up to situations in which they are treated with…
22 Feb 2017
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It’s been more than four years since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., yet the bone-chilling horror of what happened should never be forgotten. We can never know what those lives might have contributed to America in the future, and we can only imagine the agony of their families. I was overcome with emotion when I walked into the main hall of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rancho Mirage and saw the chairs on the stage, each with a T-shirt draped over it, bearing the name and age of a victim. Only one shirt was an adult size honoring one of the teachers killed; the rest were small—almost all of them showing age 6. The event, marking the four-year anniversary of Sandy Hook, was co-sponsored by Moms Demand Action Coachella Valley, the local group affiliated with the national group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. Presenters…
08 Feb 2017
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Occasionally, you meet someone who seems to have been destined to do the work they do—someone who not only is good at their job, but who also loves doing it. Dierdre Wieringa—better known as Dee—is one of those people. Wieringa, 60, a Palm Desert resident for the past seven years, serves as administrator/executive director of Caleo Bay Alzheimer’s Special Care Center, a residence facility in La Quinta dedicated to serving those coping with a form of dementia. Built in 2013, Caleo Bay is designed to provide comfort and security to those who can no longer be cared for by family or who can no longer live independently. It includes 24/7 nursing staff, motion sensors in each room to ensure no guest is left on their own, and specialized training for staff to deliver “patient-centered care” with attention to building relationships with clients. “The layout is designed to provide a sense…
26 Jan 2017
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I’d like to share some of my reactions to the inauguration—rough notes I took while watching wall-to-wall coverage from Thursday through Sunday. Think of it as a sacrifice made on your behalf. TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER I’m a sucker for tradition and ceremonial continuity. Even parades make me cry. So when President-elect Trump and Vice-President-elect Pence visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to place a wreath on Thursday, my first tears of the weekend began to flow. When representatives of the armed services marched out—holding the flags of their service, along with the American flag—and then executed the perfect turn and dipped the service flags just the right amount to highlight the national flag for the playing of the national anthem, I was moved. The solemnity of the event and the significance of what that location represents cannot be minimized. INAUGURAL CONCERT I didn’t cry at all watching…
11 Jan 2017
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After 30 years of working as a civilian employee with the Department of the Army, John Reece, 73, of Palm Springs, finally feels like he’s home. “I spent 25 of those 30 years overseas, from Japan to South Korea to Saudi Arabia to Greenland,” says Reece. “I’m finally in a place where I feel I can be totally myself.” Reece was born and raised in Missouri, to a minister father with strict religious standards. “It took me a long time to get over that,” says Reece. Reece was around church music throughout his childhood, with his father playing the organ and directing the choir. “My mom insisted we all take piano lessons when we were young,” he recalls, “and my older brother played trumpet and tuba and my younger sister was in the band.” It’s not so strange, then, that Reece worked as an entertainment director with the Army throughout…

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