It’s not a doll…It’s an action figure!

I’ve always been a collector of things, I’m not sure why. Whether it be rock-n-roll, hot rods, or pop culture, there has always been “something” I just had to have. When I first started working full time and was still living at home, I was able to buy just about anything I wanted, and I still managed to save most of my pennies for a rainy day. I commonly refer to this as my “before the storm” period.

Then the rains came. I had kids. And, like most, I was limited on what I could spend on myself outside of necessity, because, obviously, I had kids. Anything more than about $20 required me to plan and save. Not that this was a bad thing (the kids), just that it was rare when I would be able to purchase anything frivolous I truly wanted. I called this my “dreamer” period, because, more times than not, I could only dream about it…

As the years went by and I became more established in my career, I experienced an influx in my disposable income. I was able to buy all those things I had only dreamed of…and more! And, as a bonus, that new thing called the World Wide Web? Well, they started accepting credit cards and I just happen to have one (okay, several) and then it really got bad, much to the embarrassment of my kids (“Our house looks like a store!”). I called this my “gluttony” period, and glutton I did. I bought so many collectibles, for a while the UPS driver had a spot at our dinner table.

The next couple of years, I went through a period of “resentment and repent,” and maintained almost complete abstinence from buying any “stuff.” Other than the basics, I kept my plastic in my pocket, and if I did dust it off, it was only for others on special occasions and such. Sure, there were a lot of great things I missed out on, but I maintained my resolve and refused to give into temptation and, funny thing, my wallet started to get fatter.

Which is the whole reason behind our annual Cheap Eats feature. Over the past year, we sampled hundreds of dishes and compared that to online reviews and narrowed our picks down to just over 40 of the best local restaurants where you can get a great bite for $10 or less, thereby making your wallet fatter, too. No need to thank us; we’re just nice like that. Cheap Eats starts on page 63.

This is also our annual Kern Health edition and, as always, we’re showcasing the latest advancements in local healthcare with our Hospital Update (page 37) as well as the latest in local cancer care with our Cancer Update (page 45). Both of these annual features are an invaluable resource to help give you the most up-to-date information on the world-class care available in our community.

And our history feature this issue is another Gordon Lull must-read. “In the Stills of the Night” (page 23) is a look at Prohibition and how “Kern County, like the rest of America, was swept up in this nationwide tussle over demon alcohol.” This, plus all our regular features, make for another awesome issue.

Recently, I‘ve been going through a “what were you thinking?” stage and started contemplating the idea of slowly (very slowly) getting rid of some of those “must have” collectibles I’ve amassed over the years. Most of them are part of a larger collection of some kind or another, so in effect, I’d just be scaling down my hoard, and, seriously, what am I doing with, like, 18 guitars anyway? Sure, they all still hold a special place in my heart, but maybe it’s time to get all Frozen on it and “let it go.” Well, at least it’s something to think about.

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