A little bit about a lot of things:

• Blue is very much in vogue on our local high school campuses....at least when students are in attendance, that is.

And, to be more precise, we’re talking blue corduroy....those distinctive jackets which FFA members at Gustine and Orestimba high schools wear with great pride.

We are happy to present our annual Salute to FFA in this week’s edition of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard, recognizing those young men and women for their achievements and the contributions they make to their respective schools and communities.

Granted, the past year has been challenging for an organization in which personal interaction and activities that bring people together are foundational.

But they have persisted, and are making the best of a difficult situation.

I am always impressed when interviewing our local FFA members.

They tend to run a full gamut. Some want to avail themselves of every possible FFA opportunity, while for others the interest is more narrowly focused to specific project areas or activities.

Yet at the same time they share several common traits.....responsibility, courtesy, work ethic, leadership, confidence, maturity....the list of attributes is lengthy.

FFA is about many things, learning skills, meeting people, new experiences.....in short, personal growth.

Probably every generation looks at those which follow and shake their heads, questioning everything from the music to the dress of young adults and wondering how in the world we’ll ever survive, right?

Well, I can tell you from my experience of working with FFA members that I think the world is going to be in pretty good hands when they take charge.

Our FFA chapters are a credit to our schools and our communities.

They are made possible by the support of boosters, supportive administrations, community members and experienced, dedicated ag teachers/FFA advisers.....all of which allow members to thrive.

FFA is a priority, not an afterthought.

And our students are better for it.

• Should be an interesting conversation tonight (Thursday) when the Newman Planning Commission considers the proposed ARCO AM/PM project at 6 p.m.

The project has generated extensive social media comments, and I suspect commissioners will be hearing sentiments pro and con during the public hearing.

I, personally, would love to see something happen with that project site, which for far too many years has stood vacant (other than the pigeons) at one of our busiest highway intersections.....but that’s just one person’s opinion.

Ultimately, that decision rests with the Planning Commission.

For those who are interested in “attending,” such as it may be, the links follow.

Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/98729291645, Passcode: 294356

Teleconference: 669-900-6833, Meeting ID: 987 2929 1645, Passcode: 294356

• I often miss my native Iowa, with its rolling green hills, four distinctly different seasons and easy-going lifestyle.....but any thought of ever moving back is always chilled by the reminders of how harsh winters can become.

California has many shortcomings, to be sure, but our weather generally isn’t one of them.

Granted, we get our severe storms at times and summers are hot. Sometimes excessively so.

But I’ll take that any day over a Midwestern winter at its worst. Earlier this week, for example, the mercury in my native Northwest Iowa was expected to hit minus-7.....and that was the high, with low temperatures south of minus-20.

Now, we do see temperatures into the 20s occasionally here in the winter months, but not with a minus sign.

The arctic weather throughout the upper Midwest this week has been been part of the record-setting arctic blast and winter storms pummeling much of the central and southern United States. Those extremes, and the damage the storms are inflicting, are almost unfathomable.

You never know what Mother Nature is going to dial up.

Family in the Salt Lake City area, for example, reported “mud rain” falling earlier this month, coating everything in a messy muck. Apparently that unusual event occurs when rain falls through dust or other particulate matter that has been carried airborne by high winds.....think dust storm colliding with rainfall.

Never seen, or heard of, anything like that but apparently mud rain is a real (if rare) thing.

Mother Nature is an amazingly powerful and unpredictable force, and occasionally reminds us of just how much we are subject to her whims.

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.