Thursday, November 26 , 2015, 5:31 am | Fair 39º

Bill Macfadyen: Who Am I Kidding? Daughter’s Graduation Is My Biggest News

NoozWeek’s Top 5 has a Lompoc wildfire, killer orcas, my column, a downed crossing guard and a plastic-bag ban

Proud dad and Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen celebrates daughter Kirsten’s graduation Friday from the University of San Francisco.
Proud dad and Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen celebrates daughter Kirsten’s graduation Friday from the University of San Francisco.  (Colin Macfadyen / Noozhawk photo)

By William M. Macfadyen, Noozhawk Publisher | @noozhawk |

By the time you read this, my daughter, Kirsten, will have graduated from the University of San Francisco.

It wasn’t the easiest path to get to this point, as many of her teachers at All Saints By-the-Sea Parish School, Marymount of Santa Barbara and Laguna Blanca School can attest. Plain-spoken and often headstrong (gifts she gets from her mom), she challenged them every bit as much as they challenged her.

In fact, it wasn’t until the second semester of her freshman year at USF that Kirsten realized school was for her and, boy, did she make up for lost time. She dedicated herself to academics, blossomed as an advertising major, three years ago won a campus-wide contest for the school’s new slogan (USF: Occupying San Francisco since 1855), and became the center of an increasingly large Kmac pack.

Maybe it’s because she’s our youngest, but Kirsten’s college years just flew by in a way that my wife and I didn’t seem to experience with her brothers. Now, she’s about to receive her diploma, and yet we don’t think we’re ready, even though we know she is.

On the drive to San Francisco, moments and memories raced past like mile markers in my mind — things said and left unsaid, things done and left undone. Oh, that I could freeze time so I could keep her for just a little while longer.

She makes me proud every day, and every night I thank God for allowing me to be her dad. Kirsten has filled my life with joy, and even though I may not want her to take that very last step from childhood, I also can’t wait to see where she goes from here.

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There were 91,579 people who read Noozhawk this past week. What were your top five stories?

How close was the Miguelito Canyon Fire to Lompoc? That close. (Lee Knodel photo via Instagram)
How close was the Miguelito Canyon Fire to Lompoc? That close. (Lee Knodel photo via Instagram)

1. Winds Subside as Crews Continue to Battle Fire in Miguelito Canyon Near Lompoc

A wildfire fanned by hot, dry winds ignited the afternoon of May 13 near Lompoc, burning nearly 650 acres of mostly heavy brush. Although nearly 1,200 residents were evacuated, no structures were damaged and no injuries were reported.

Santa Barbara County fire Capt. David Sadecki said investigators are blaming untrimmed trees and high-voltage power lines for the conflagration.

“A 12,000-volt power line feeding the (Celite) plant located at 2500 San Miguelito Road … contacted a tree, causing embers to drop down and ignite the dry brush along the hillside,” he said.

At its peak, more than 500 firefighters were battling the Miguelito Canyon Fire in near-record heat. Full containment is expected the evening of May 16.

Traffic spiked on Noozhawk as soon as our Tom Bolton reported the blaze. Throughout the afternoon and well into the evening, we had around 400 readers or more on the site at any given time.

You have to admit this is a whale of a picture even if death by orca isn’t a pretty sight for gray whale lovers. (Mike Baird photo)
You have to admit this is a whale of a picture even if death by orca isn’t a pretty sight for gray whale lovers. (Mike Baird photo)

2. Orcas Photographed Attacking Gray Whales in Morro Bay

Orcas make a living preying on gray whales, but their feeding frenzies usually happen at sea, out of sight for most of us.

On May 8, however, a guy burst into Mike Jones’ Azhiaziam surf and clothing store in Morro Bay to report that a pod of killer whales was on the attack just offshore. Jones, an amateur wildlife photographer of local renown, quickly closed up shop, grabbed his gear and headed for the water.

He and a friend set off in a boat and soon found the show of force about a half-mile from Morro Rock. There about 15 to 20 orcas were herding their target, a gray whale calf, away from its mother.

“It was a pretty sad story,” he told Patrick Pemberton of the San Luis Obsipo Tribune.

Jones quickly began taking pictures, including shots of orcas breaching and leaping into the air.

Howard Garrett, founder and president of the Whidbey Island, Wash.-based Orca Network, which collects information about orcas, said he’d heard about the Morro Bay attack, which apparently lasted about seven hours.

“They play with their prey,” he said of the whale killers.

A favorite tactic after they get between a mother and calf is to lie on the calf, pushing it under water while covering its blow hole.

“They’re very methodical about it,” Garrett said.

Click here for more of Mike Jones’ orca attack pictures. 

3. Bill Macfadyen: Another UCSB Student Found Dead on Beach Below Isla Vista

In last week’s column, the top two stories were the tragic death of Sierra Markee-Winkler, the 20-year-old UC Santa Barbara student whose body was found May 4 on the beach below Isla Vista, and the savage assault on Thayer White, the UC Berkeley sophomore, who was beaten with a baseball bat outside a Cal fraternity party earlier in the month.

UCSB and Isla Vista are potent link bait and White is a popular former star athlete at San Marcos High School so I figured their stories were driving the traffic on that column. They were factors, but it actually was the No. 5 story that put me in the No. 3 spot this week. That story, you’ll recall, involved a Goleta residence used as a vacation rental that neighbors call a house of horrors. 

In the last 18 months, Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies have responded to 29 complaints about noise and other disturbing the peace issues at the two-story home at 830 Serenidad Place, off La Goleta Road a block west of Santa Marguerita Drive. Three criminal citations have been issued.

A fed-up City Council is now involved, and has asked city staff to make one last attempt at mediation with the allegedly recalcitrant landlord, Robert Bullemer, before considering municipal code changes that would put “teeth” into enforcement and even lead to potential condemnation of the property.

4. School Crossing Guard Struck by Vehicle in Santa Barbara

Crossing guards are deployed to help kids safely cross streets near elementary schools. They typically wear reflective vests and carry bright red, octagon-shaped signs with the word STOP printed on them. That’s usually sufficient to get motorists to yield to pint-sized pedestrians and slow down around school zones.

It wasn’t enough to protect one unlucky crossing guard who was accompanying a Peabody Charter School student across the 300 block of East Alamar Avenue about 7:45 a.m. May 14.

According to Santa Barbara police Sgt. Riley Harwood, a slow-moving vehicle hit the 84-year-old woman from behind, leaving her with a broken ankle and a slew of cuts and bruises. The woman, whose name was not released, was taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment. The student was not injured.

The driver of the car, a 73-year-old man whose name also was withheld, told police he did not see the crossing guard until it was too late. Harwood said he was found to be at fault for failure to yield the right of way to a pedestrian.

5. Santa Barbara’s Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags Goes Into Effect Wednesday

The City of Santa Barbara has banned single-use plastic bags. Mankind has been saved.

                                                                        •        •

I usually side with dogs, not cats. Not this time. 

(Roger Triantafilo video)

                                                                  •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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