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Pier Under the Stars annual benefit for historic Ventura Pier

stuff pier under the starsBreeze music writer Pam Baumgardner (, Breeze co-founder Staci Brown and Diane who lives with the Breeze publisher (poor lady) enjoying Pier Under the Stars—the annual benefit for the historic Ventura Pier that was held on Saturday, October 3 under an absolutely beautiful Ventura evening.

Restaurants, cafes, wineries and breweries served their signature dishes and beverages from tented booths along the seaside Promenade while guests enjoyed live music by Caliente while dancing and bidding on silent auction items, all to benefit the city’s 139-year-old pier.

The sell-out event hosted by Pier into the Future–-a non-profit 501 c (3)—“is a much anticipated community gathering of friends that raises funds for our beloved Pier”, said Pier Into the Future Executive Director Jenise Wagar.

Tech Today with Ken May

Ken May

What to look for when buying a computer – Part 1

Buying a computer is no easy task, and with the cost of many of the machines out on the market today, you want to make sure you’re making the right purchase so you don’t blow your money on something that stops meeting your demands within a year. Not all machines are created equal, and unless you’re pretty familiar with computer hardware, you might have a hard time determining just how unequal they are.

This guide should help you get a better understanding of what all the components of the computer will mean for you and make it easier to decide what you want, need, and which elements to prioritize so you get the right computer for you and don’t spend any more money than you must.

  1. Desktop or Laptop?

This is probably one of the simplest choices to make and can have a big impact on the overall cost of your computer, including expenses that might not come right at the time of the purchase. In general, if a laptop and desktop are boasting all of the same performance specs, the desktop will be cheaper. It might not make sense, since it’s a bigger piece of hardware, but the ability to cram a lot of components into a small space and the need for a battery is what ups the price of the laptop — notice the premium paid for Apple’s thinner devices.

If you often need your computer on the go, the choice is simple: laptop. If it’s only occasional and you don’t need much more than a browser or word processor, you may be able to find a cheap tablet or netbook to do the job, and could potentially afford it with the money you save by getting a desktop as your primary computer.

  1. Know the processor and what it means

The simplest way to explain the processor is that it’s the brain of the machine. If you want a fast computer that boots up programs in a flash, completes tasks as soon as you start them, and doesn’t keep you waiting, then you want the strongest processor available — and who doesn’t? You just have to know what you’re looking at when you see a processor’s details.

The short and simple of processors is in the number of cores and the speed (labeled in GHz or Gigahertz) of the processor. The speed of the chip will tell you how much data it can process in how much time, so the bigger the number, the better. The number of cores functions as a multiplier, as the processor is actually a stack of cores that each run at the listed speed (e.g. a single-core 2GHz processor is a lot slower than a four-core 2GHz processor). Multiple cores can also help with multi-tasking, as each can be working on different tasks.

Make sure to ask how many cores are on the chip and what the clock speed is. Two computers might both say they have an Intel i5 chip, but the number of models that go into the group are many and their speeds and core counts can be leagues apart.

Tune in next issue for Part 2!

Grand Jury Speakers Bureau

The County of Ventura Grand Jury is an all-volunteer group serving as an independent agent of the public to investigate complaints from the public pertaining to government agencies in our community.    Is your organization interested in hearing about these investigative duties and procedures?  The Grand Jury Speakers Bureau is available to educate the public in its endeavors as the “public watchdog” for Ventura County. To learn more or schedule a date for a presentation, please call the Grand Jury at 477-1800.  For additional information, you may also refer to its website,

CATCH project receives second year funding

The Ventura County Health Care Agency’s Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Access to Community Health (CATCH) project has been awarded a second year of funding through the Health Care Innovations Award (HCIA) program in the amount of $1.3 million from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). The total grant award is $4.1 million dollars over three years.  Ventura County is honored to be one of only 39 organizations nationally to receive this prestigious award.

COPD is an umbrella term that includes chronic lung diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma.  The CATCH program has implemented new, evidence-based guidelines throughout the County for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of COPD because it is the third leading cause of death in the nation and the fourth leading cause of death in Ventura County.  There are more than 28,000 people that suffer from COPD in Ventura County and many are unaware that they have it.  A simple test called a Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) can be performed to determine if someone has COPD.  Identifying and treating COPD in its early stages can drastically change/slow the progression of the disease.

“CATCH is also reforming the way in which we pay for the treatment of COPD, reducing costs by an estimated 22% over all. During the first year of the project, CATCH has been able to reduce Emergency Room visits by 18% and the number of critical vaccinations for COPD patients has increased by 25%.  CATCH is improving the quality of life for COPD patients while reducing the costs of treatment,” says Dr. Renee Higgins, CATCH Principal Investigator.

The CATCH team of specialists, led by Susan White Wood, CATCH Program Director, can travel county-wide to provide services. The team includes a Project Director, two Registered Nurses, two Respiratory Therapists, two Community Health Outreach Workers, a Medical Office Assistant and contracts with numerous specialists throughout the community.  CATCH can be reached at  677-5162 or

Health Insurance Counseling And Advocacy Program

The County of Ventura Area Agency on Aging’s Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) will be giving a series of Medicare One Stops in November and December for Medicare Plan year 2016.  Medicare beneficiaries may attend any One Stop Shop for any of their Medicare needs during this time.  To streamline your wait time call our office for a Part D Worksheet comparison list.  Our counselors will compare your comparison ahead of your appointment time.

During the One Stop Shops HICAP is screening and completing Public Benefit Applications through their Benefit Enrollment Check Up program. Counselors will be looking to see if one qualifies for Medi-Cal, Cal Fresh, Extra Help with Medicare Part D Prescriptions, LIHEAP, and other programs.

Monday, November 2, 2015, Ventura County Area Agency on Aging, 646 County Square Dr. Suite 100, Ventura, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, one on one counseling appointments, walk-ins and Spanish-Speaking counselors are available.

Vol. 9, No. 1 – October 14 – October 27, 2015 – Ventura Film Society Season 7

Please join the Ventura Film Society at 7:15pm on Wednesday November 11th at the Century 10 Downtown Ventura for “Advanced Style”. This 2014 documentary examines the lives of seven unique New York women, aged 62 to 95, whose eclectic personal style and vital spirit have guided and inspired their approach to aging. Based on Ari Seth Cohen’s famed blog of the same name, this film paints intimate and colorful portraits of independent, stylish women who are challenging conventional ideas about beauty, aging, and Western’s culture’s increasing obsession with youth. A loving, candid and self-searing look at women who refuse to dress or act their age. The VFS is proud to present “Advanced Style” as the 11th of 12 films in our 2015 season. Tickets are $10 general, $7 seniors & $5 students and are available at the VFS Will Call table outside the theatre or in advance from Visit our website for additional screening information and to see the film’s trailer, or call the VFS Info Line at 628-2299. Special thanks to all of our donors, volunteers, and patrons, especially the Ventura Breeze, for supporting the Ventura Film Society, where we bring people together in the dark.

Robotic Surgery to Treat Endometriosis focus of seminar

The role of da Vinci robotic surgery to treat endometriosis – a disease in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it – will be the focus of a free seminar Community Memorial Health System is holding on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

Edwin Ramirez, M.D., who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology, will cover the treatment options available for women facing endometriosis, including laparoscopic and robotic-assisted surgery, at the seminar that will run from 6 to 8 p.m. in the eighth-floor Nichols Auditorium at Community Memorial Hospital, 147 N. Brent St.

Dr. Ramirez will discuss how robotic-assisted surgery can lead to fewer complications; less blood loss and pain; less infection risk and scarring; shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery; and better outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Registration is free but reservations are required. Visit or call Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800/838-3006.

Future scheduled Speaker Series events include: the Latest in Food Allergies on Nov. 5 at the Courtyard by Marriott Oxnard; Ethics in Healthcare: Should Your Doctor Be Your Friend? on Nov. 12 at the Museum of Ventura County; TEDMED 2015 on Nov. 19 at the Museum of Ventura County; and Celiac Disease on Dec. 1 at Community Memorial Hospital.

Auxiliary raises money for CMH and seeking volunteers

CMH Auxiliary Gift shop will have a special sale October 14 & 15 “Books are Fun” in the CMH Lobby 147 N.Brent Street.  All are welcome to shop this sale.  Books make great holiday gifts.  And mark your calendars  for their Holiday Boutique November 5th and 6th.  All proceeds from Auxiliary Gift shop are donated back to Community Memorial Hospital.

The Auxiliary continues to take applications for new volunteers.  Many of their services have available openings on various days and times for volunteers .  Bookcart is one of those services.  This service provides donated magazines for visitors as well as patients.  And.  supports the gift shop by offering recycled books for sale there. Volunteering gives back to the community and provides much needed support to CMH, which is Ventura’s only nonprofit hospital.  Please stop by the Auxiliary front desk for more information and to pick up an application.

Vol. 9, No. 1 – October 14 – October 27, 2015 – Movie Review

Sicario/4 Palm Trees
By Eduardo Victoria/

Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario doesn’t allow us to be a bystander – if you come at it thinking you can just sit back and enjoy, you’re wrong – it’ll chew you up and spit you out. At the very least, it’s a compelling crime drama with unrelenting tension; what separates it from most films of its ilk however, is the way that Villeneuve and scriptwriter Taylor Sheridan deliver a nuanced take on the hopelessly twisty Mexican drug wars. Like real life, there’s no easy solution to this rampant problem, nor does the film truly provide one.

After a botched raid involving rotting, mutilated corpses and a battering ram, FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) comes into contact with a DOD consultant named Matt (Josh Brolin). If Kate will volunteer, he promises to give her a real shot at combatting the Mexican drug wars, which are spilling into her jurisdiction. After hesitantly accepting, Kate is thrust into an exceedingly complex web of deception and brutality, with no clear sign of understanding or even a way out. Clinging to her idealism and true desire to set things right, the by-the-book Kate must learn to survive in a land of wolves.

The view of the story’s central conflict makes Villeneuve’s film fascinating, presenting it as a breathtaking cinematic descent into hell. The deeper we go, the more nightmarish it gets, but never for the sake of shock, instead illustrating the war on drugs as a savage mobius strip that thrives on ordered chaos, supply and demand.

In the hands of any other writer or director, a film like this would go from one action set piece to another. Instead, there’s a weight to everything, with humanity in the balance and poetic contrasts that are dark, yet too urgent to ignore.

In addition to the story’s focused themes, the film still manages to deliver two of the most intense sequences of the year. Without spoiling things, one involves an extended excursion across the border and into Juarez, while another involves thermal photography against the pitch black darkness of night. Villeneuve’s direction is as taught and tight as it gets, utilizing stunning photography from Roger Deakins to get both our minds and hearts racing as his characters face insurmountable odds psychologically as well as physically.

There are three incredible performances at its core. Emily Blunt as the idealistic Kate Macer plays a modern heroine who must confront her integrity and the impossible reality of her situation. She’s in a tough spot, and Blunt allows the character to be more than just our audience surrogate, but also a relatable cipher that calls us out and makes us complicit in her journey.

She’s far from a cartoony archetype thanks to Blunt’s simultaneous strength and fragility, but also a fierce character clinging on to what she believes is right. Benicio Del Toro gets the second most play in the film as the mysterious, shady Alejandro. This is one of his best performances ever, and he is the personification of what the entire film is about, challenging our allegiances through an ambiguous, primal mix of opposing character traits. Josh Brolin’s Matt, provides a lot of the film’s levity, but it comes with an undeniable dark side. There’s a sinister slant that contrasts with his nonchalance about the entire ordeal that’s a bit creepy and keeps things always on edge.

Simply put, Sicario isn’t just one of the most intense experiences of the entire year, it’s also of one the year’s best, period. Villeneuve’s thriller is on a league of its own, proving that action films can go deeper than empty thrills to explore the consequence and the ideas behind the chaos. My best advice to you: see this and don’t forget to breathe; focused and fully formed on every level, it’s an unforgettable revelation of the human darkness that lies at the fringe of everything we hold dear.

Playing Century Downtown  Rated R

Vol. 9, No. 1 – October 14 – October 27, 2015 – Two on the Aisle

Small Engine Repair works at Flying H
by Jim Spencer and Shirley Lorraine

On a New Hampshire evening three former high school buddies, now in their mid-30s, reunite for an evening of alcohol, testosterone, tall tales, pot and erotic braggadocio.

The three – Packie, Swaino and Frank – arrive separately at Frank’s Small Engine Repair shop.  Actually, Frank has invited each guy without revealing the other would be there. His ostensible goal is to smooth a rift between the others that started years ago.  However, when a younger, fourth guest arrives it turns out there is a darker hidden purpose for the get-together.

This is the setting for Small Engine Repair, the dramady currently being presented by Ventura’s Flying H Theatre Group.

Playwright John Pollono has given each character a history of underachievement.  Packie is unemployed and lives in his grandmother’s basement. Warehouse worker Swaino is obsessed with spreading his legend (in his own mind) as a super stud.  Frank is a high school drop who started repairing small appliances when he became a father at age 17. Their back stories provide the comedy, raw dialogue, taunting and male rivalry on display in this 70-minute revenge comedy.

Enter Chad, played by Joshua Kahn. He is an entitlement-minded, over-privileged, college preppy who is a local supplier of ecstasy and pot. The social gap between the trio and the newcomer soon expands into a chasm that leads to a series of plot twists involving the internet and technology, as well as attitudes and hazards fostered by social networking.

The play features solid acting by Brian Robert Harris as Frank, Michael Wayne Beck as Packie and Eric Mello as Swaino, each of whom creates a well-defined character and gives a tightly balanced ensemble performance.  Although, when they deliver dialogue in rapid fire fashion it is difficult to hear and catch it all.

The set of the fix-it shop designed by Flying H Theatre Group Artistic Director Taylor Kasch is superbly appointed with tools, stored detritus and things that will be needed someday.  His personal garage has probably not been so empty in years because all his man cave stuff is on the set.

The direction by Kathleen Bosworth is equally artistic. The pacing, utilization of the actors, and other touches reflect a studied sophistication.

The script, first performed in 2011, is by a newer playwright. It has a few technical rough edges. For example, the playwright repeatedly uses the same device for the same purpose. Three times a character abruptly announces, “I have to pee,” and leaves the stage just so the action can continue as a two-person scene.  Additionally, we found the ending to be less than equal to its build up. Nevertheless, the play is current, significant and for adults only.

Small Engine Repair plays Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays, October 9-18, and Thursdays/Fridays/Saturdays, October 22-31. Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. All other performances are at 8 p.m. Flying H Group Theatre Company, 6368 Bristol Rd. (between Johnson Dr. and Victoria Ave.) in the Montalvo area of Ventura. All seats $15. Cash or check only at the door. Reservations recommended 901-0005. Advance tickets on-line at