On this roses-and-raspberries Saturday we’ll save the bitter fruit for last. But first:

Win, lose or draw, our collective future is in the hands of our children, who in the case of the robotics teams from local schools Blochman and Fesler earn roses all around for achieving the right to compete this weekend in the First Lego League Robotics Championships in Los Angeles.

The Santa Maria student teams will compete against counterparts from 90 other schools across California.

This kind of event gives budding scientists the chance to hone critical thinking, collaboration and creativity skills while exploring the intricacies of robotics, coding and computer programming. Students have been working since late summer to plan, design and program their creations.

And this reminds us of something physicist Stephen Hawking predicted — that artificial life forms, what old-timers think of as robots, will be the planet’s dominant “species,” perhaps within our lifetimes.

Good luck to the young scientists from Blochman and Fesler.


Roses also for organizers of the Santa Ynez Valley Christmas Basket Program, which this season is supporting 151 needy families that include 337 children.

This is the 17th annual basket program, and each family will receive a hamper of food, staples and toiletries. There will also be a box filled with wrapped presents for each family member.

The Christmas Basket Program is organized by volunteers from Old Mission Santa Ines, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church and Santa Ynez Valley Presbyterian Church.

But none of it would work without the support from hundreds of Valley residents and more than 30 local businesses and organizations.

Rose-worthy, to be sure.


The next one mixes roses and raspberries. First, the flowery part.

Libraries throughout Santa Barbara County will be receiving funds promised by the Board of Supervisors and written into the 2017-18 fiscal-year budget.

The move increases funds going to Lompoc, Santa Maria and Santa Barbara by a total of $162,000, of a total allocation of just more than $3.8 million, to be divided among the three cities and used to operate their main libraries as well as the smaller libraries within city zones.

The $162,000 is earmarked for use by smaller branch libraries that have been struggling — which is the basis of Part 2, and the dispensing of raspberries.

In what alternate universe do elected officials starve libraries for funding in the first place? We understand that when government revenue streams dry up, something has to be cut out of a spending plan, but there is no moral, ethical or intellectual justification for cutting programs that encourage citizens to read and learn.

Some members of the Board of Supervisors seem to get that, arguing that the smaller branch libraries are just as crucial to a community’s well-being as the main facilities.

Roses to those elected officials who have their eye on the future, rather than the bottom line.


We end the day with another roses/raspberries combination.

First, roses to those responsible for the second-degree murder conviction of a Santa Maria man driving drunk in a crash that killed a man near Arroyo Grande.

Drunken driving cannot be tolerated. The conviction means a prison sentence of 23 years to life.

The raspberries go to any and all who decide to get behind the wheel after having “a few drinks.” The truth is, it doesn’t take a lot of impairment to slow the reflexes and cloud a person’s decision-making abilities. Those are skills that are tested every time you get out on the road.