Homegrown Tragedies and the High Cost of Just About Everything

A busy news day puts things in perspective. And a random morning comment sparks a column.


In the News Biz, days like yesterday are known as "Code Three" days. We borrowed the designation from the police -- it's their term for a rapid, lights and siren response.

Monday was a Code Three day.

Our morning started with multiple contacts from worried friends of , people talking in hushed tones about the popular local couple's overdue plane, afraid to give voice to concerns about their whereabouts and well being.

Phone calls confirmed the worst, the Branagh's colleagues fighting tears to share the news that the couple had been killed when their light plane went down in Central Utah.

People we contacted to address the tragedy spoke through their shock and dismay, gracious with their time despite their obvious pain. We pushed a story live and the calls started to come... then the emails, as the Branagh's many friends called to question the news. But it was true. Our condolences to the Branagh family and thanks to those of you who agreed to speak with us about this local tragedy Monday. We'll post news of services for the couple when the details firm up.

Also yesterday, the phones lit up with tips from neighbors up on , who reported that Lafayette police and a canine search team were looking for someone in that neighborhood -- apparently shortly after a burglary attempt around noon. Residents have been organizing and pledging to watch out for suspicious folks cruising the area after a .

Police caught and broke up one prolific crew but there appear to be more out there and they seem to like homes with easy freeway access, sooo...

While neighbors kept us on the line to talk about the ongoing police action we also got wind of an accident involving a . Few things trigger a response quite like you see when there's a school bus accident so we added that to our "to get" list -- while penning the yarn about a sartorially-minded bank robber who struck locally in May and who was caught after Lafayette police developed information on his whereabouts. The FBI is now taking the lead on the case and suspect is talking freely about his exploits.

As this was happening Lamorinda Patch continued to receive tips from other local folk, unmindful of the news storm that was brewing and the whirling Code Three lights atop our smoking laptops. Interesting tips they were, too, and look for more on them after we do a little more digging.


Tuesday started out a little more quietly (at least we think so, what have you heard?), and your editor luxuriated over a dawn-lit, home-brewed latte with She Who Does Everything Else While Her Husband Pecks Away At The Computer.

"Wow, I mean, what's up with the muffins?" She Who Does Everything mused, poking at some ridiculously small English Muffins, each about the size of a communion wafer. "How come prices keep going up and they keep giving us less?"

"Well, ahem, I er, uh... That's why I'm out there in my garden trying to grow stuff to keep us fed..."

"It's crazy," She Who went on, declining to accept my proferred pearls of wisdom. "Eight dollar melons... two dollars for a .35 cent bundle of spices... milk up, the price of coffee up, everything up. It's insane..."

"Maybe I'll write something about..."

"You should write about it," She finished for me, ending the conversation with one of her patented "get on it, slacker"-looks.

So, I am. How about you? Feeling the pinch at the register? Feeling just a little bit gouged? Looking to the drought in the Nation's Breadbasket and thinking: "The worst has yet to come?"

Let us know. I'll pass along your suggestions, observations to She Who.

Stay safe out there.

pegb12 July 18, 2012 at 03:29 AM
A lovely summary!
Jon Chambers July 18, 2012 at 01:44 PM
JD, I hear what you are saying about the cost of things, but it conflicts with government data. Here's what hit my inbox this morning: "On a seasonally adjusted basis, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) was unchanged in June after declining 0.3% in May. The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.2% in June, the same increase as in May." Is this CPI-U data a conspiracy to mislead consumers? An example of governmental incompetence in data gathering? An indication that we happen to live in an inflationary pocket among a sea of stable prices? Or something else entirely? I don't know, but maybe a good investigative journalist could get to the bottom of it!
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) July 18, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Morning, Jon, I'll confess I'm no financial whiz and relegate my discretionary purchases to antiques and stuff needed to keep the home and gardens running (my wife is on the front lines of the shopping wars), but I was struck by your "inflationary pocket" reference. I can only think this comes into play for us here in Cali and I would cite the "spike" in gas prices for us here as opposed to the rest of the country. Perhaps the Numbers Crunchers among us can weigh in and explain the discrepancy. But those muffins are definitely smaller!
Gr8Wahl July 18, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Everywhere but California it seems...
Nicholas July 18, 2012 at 06:11 PM
I ride a bike only so it's not an issue but I agree that things are really really expensive essentially for people like me who hold one job and depend on tips to get by.
Amanda July 18, 2012 at 08:46 PM
I was just having this conversation with my husband about how all the bills are going up and we are getting less (DirecTV). Just the bill for milk for our two boys is making me think about buying our own cow.
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) July 18, 2012 at 08:49 PM
How 'bout we do a time-share on Bossie? Still trying to convince my bride to let me get chickens... so far, no go. I guess the price of eggs will have to go up a bit more before we reexamine the issue!
Amanda July 18, 2012 at 09:54 PM
You just need to have all your neighbors get chickens, and then you can eat the extra eggs. My neighbors are on vacation and their housesitter keeps bringing us fresh eggs.
Sara July 18, 2012 at 11:23 PM
There are *secret* coops all over town. You can always tell who has chickens though because the neighbors are all over there having breakfast or coming away with baked goods. Everything tastes better!


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