Face to face with Larry Blagg

first_imgQ Tell me about your own background.A I was born in St Louis in the middle of the USA and grew up in Ohio, which is in the mid-West. I’ve only come to California since my involvement in the raisin industry.I spent 23 years living in Tokyo, Japan. I actually went over there to start a frozen food company for Heinz. We were a chip manufacturer and introduced the Japanese to the wonderful world of fast food.I then set up my own company and was the only non-Japanese person working there. But the good news is that I was one of the two owners, so they could not kick me out. I have always struggled with Japanese. I can speak a little bit, but that’s all.My 16-year-old is struggling with the language right now; she is half-Japanese and she has grown up with the language, but you have to learn 1,600 Japanese and 1,800 Chinese characters to get your high school diploma.It is an interesting country, housing 126 million people in a small space. Q What does your day-to-day job involve?A I am mostly a paperwork guy or I am busy attending trade shows and visiting overseas markets. I have spent some time with the growers in the harvest season and have gone out and picked grapes.You really need to get involved so that you can understand the process completely. It makes you appreciate how hard a task it is. Q What is the freight system like in the US?A The train and track system in the US is very under-developed. We are not big on public transportation in this country, it’s just too much of that independent spirit, I guess.We have a very well developed road system. Part of the excuse I give for gaining weight since I got back is that I never walk any more! I never have reason to.All the raisins produced in the US are within 60 miles of Fresno, and are moved by truck. We ship overseas in rail cars and containerised freight.One of the joys of living in California is that there’s an amazing array of fresh produce. Twenty-five per cent of the US’ fruit and vegetable crops are grown in the San Joaquin Valley. Q What are the issues facing raisin growers in America?A Because our harvest is essentially driven by temporary labour, it is quite difficult to ensure that we have a constant labour supply. There’s an element in the US that wants to shut the borders to immigrant labour, and that’s not going to help the progress of California or any other state.We are really hoping that the government will come up with a guest worker programme, as in many other countries, but the signs are not good.Our US congress has just voted to build a 700-mile wall between Mexico and the US. They have funded enough to start it, but I don’t know if they have enough money to finish it.We have enough things to spend money on, I don’t know if that one is my idea of a great thing. Q California must be a real contrast to JapanA I love the space of California. I like being able to get out and drive around freely; the average speed on the expressway around Tokyo from 8am to 8pm is around 12 miles an hour.I made up my mind several years ago that, if I was going to retire, I would like to retire here. The climate is good; we very rarely have snow and I grew up in very heavy snow country, so I have no intention of going back.I am 61 at the moment. Retirement age was 65 in America but is now moving towards 70. I don’t know when I will retire. I like what I’m doing and, as long as I am contributing, I will continue to do so.center_img Q How have you enjoyed the first year in your new job?A There’s an awful lot to do! It has been great fun and the last year has been incredible.We are spending money in areas that we feel will return benefit to our growers and our industry. We have been out of proportion with our spending, putting a lot more money into bakery.Bakery and confectionery, snacking and dairy are four areas to which I want to devote more attention. We previously had a campaign here in America, called ’Look Who’s Cooking’, that was focused almost 100% behind foodservice.But the foodservice industry only represents about 15% of the total value of raisin sales; bakery is about 34% of the business, so we are now focusing on that much more.That’s for the USA. In other parts of the world, it really depends on the infrastructure. Q What are the trends in raisins at the moment?A We are getting requests for flavoured raisins and, over time, that’s something that will become more popular. But, as of right now, it’s still a small portion of the business.They have mostly been infusing some natural flavour from some of the higher-cost fruit, so that they can help cut the overall cost of the finished bakery product.We are now getting requests for savoury and have heard that cinnamon would be a popular flavour, so I am hoping that we can get one of our producers to put that together. It would be useful for cinnamon raisin rolls. Q Where do you see California Raisins expanding in the next few years?A We just opened an office in South Korea. We had an office 10 years ago, but it was closed. The market is getting stronger, so we think it makes sense to put more effort there.China is also a source of new business for us; it is very underdeveloped at the moment. In terms of developing into any other new countries, we don’t see that happening in the next three years.The first estimate for this year’s harvest was 259,000 tonnes, but that estimate is done before the crop is fully off the vine. A final estimate will be given in January. In 2005, the crop was fairly decent, at 310,000 tonnes.We want to find ways of using raisins in value-added products. We are interested in selling to the fast food market.One of our processors, Sun-Maid, is selling food to Subway and your Jamie Oliver has also helped us; we are making a serious effort for sensible foods for school lunch programmes.We were pleased to see that one of the bakers in the UK is taking a quarter cup of raisins for each muffin, making it a portion of fruit. We are trying to do the same thing here now.last_img read more

Football faces uncertain future

first_imgFootball is officially back. I’ve waited for what seems to be an eternity to write those words. And while my excitement for the new season is at an all-time high, my enthusiasm for a sport I love has been greatly tarnished over the past offseason.It seems that at every level of football, collegiate or professional, there is some sort of conspiracy or cover-up.Take the NFL’s handling of Deflategate, for instance. After hiring “independent” investigator Ted Wells to conduct an investigation into the events of Deflategate, the NFL was able to conclude that Tom Brady may have known a ball boy deflated footballs during the AFC Championship Game.It’s been almost eight months since the New England Patriots steamrolled the Indianapolis Colts 45-7, and there is still no resolution to the matter.Tom Brady has appealed, been denied by “impartial” judge Roger Goodell, and now sits in court awaiting a decision on his four-game suspension. Though the case has been in court for a few weeks, the judge has yet to come to a verdict. He expects to rule by the end of the week, but with this case, who knows?Deflategate is just one of the many situations the NFL has messed up over the past decade or so.In fact, you may have been so caught up in the Deflategate drama that you could have missed the trailer for Will Smith’s new movie, Concussion. The movie centers on the work of Bennet Omalu, a pathologist, who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy after performing biopsies on several ex-NFL players.For those of you who are unaware of the NFL’s handling of concussions, it isn’t pretty. When Omalu went to the NFL to discuss his work, he was rebuffed repeatedly. The NFL basically discredited any work by any scientist that wasn’t paid by the league. Sound familiar, Ted Wells?The NFL eventually admitted that repeated head bashing was a serious problem in the league. After being sued by hundreds of former players, the league was mandated to set up a system to help retired players who suffered from CTE and other        brain-related diseases.Will Smith’s movie promises to bring light to the struggle that Omalu went through in getting his work recognized by the NFL. I was genuinely happy that finally the NFL would be exposed for mishandling a vital situation. After botching the Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and now Tom Brady cases, the NFL would have its unethical practices seen by millions of people.Or so I thought.While browsing through my Twitter feed on Wednesday morning, I came across a tweet from                       a fellow USC student.In his tweet, the student said that Sony altered the movie Concussion so they wouldn’t anger the NFL.After looking into the issue myself, I found that what Schwartz had said was true. According to emails leaked during the Sony hack, executives at the company, the director of the movie and representatives for Will Smith discussed ways to not antagonize the NFL, instead of focusing on telling the complete truth on the subject. Sony has since denied the allegations.If the NFL has the power of censorship now, there’s basically no stopping Roger Goodell and company from accomplishing anything they please.Its own players have slowly started turning against the league. During this past offseason, numerous players as young as 24 walked away from millions of dollars due to fears of their health and safety while playing football.Star 49ers rookie linebacker Chris Borland was the biggest name to walk away after just one year.When you have former players suing you and current players retiring over fear of health safety, you know you have a big problem on your hands. Instead of owning up to its mistakes, the NFL continues to look for ways to hide and cover up anything that will cast the league in a negative way.Until the NFL allows truly “independent” researchers and investigators to come in, there will be no progressive change.I, just like most of you reading this, will be watching college football this weekend and the NFL in a week’s time, despite all the wrong the NFL has done. And while the popularity of the sport has never been higher, football faces an uncertain future off the field.Nick Barbarino is a senior majoring in business administration. His column, “Beyond the Arc,” runs Thursdays.Nick Barbarino is a senior majoring in business administration. His column “Beyond the Arc” runs Thursdays.last_img read more

Latest cost of living report shows Mason City still a good value

first_imgMASON CITY — The latest Cost of Living Index Report from the Council for Community and Economic Research shows that living costs in Mason City continue to be a good value. The index is based on six components — housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, healthcare, and miscellaneous goods and services. A score of 100 represents the national average of 268 metropolitan and micropolitan areas. Mason City Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Robin Anderson says Mason City’s score of 89 indicates a lower-than-average cost.  “It just solidifies the fact that North Iowa is a very economical place to live. When you consider our quality of life, having a low cost of living really contributes to that.”Anderson says she was pleased with two components of this latest report.  “We were extremely competitive in groceries, and hopefully our citizens are noticing that when they bring their shopping carts to the checkout lane. We’re also very competitive in the healthcare sector, and when you consider the quality of healthcare that we have here with a top 100 hospital, it’s pretty remarkable that that is such a bright spot as well.”Anderson says the transportation component is something she’ll be watching in the next few reports.  “We’re a little concerned, normally we are competitive in transportation,  and it looked like that was unusually high, so we’ll be watching that to see if that is a trend or if it was just a blip.”The least expensive place to live in the most recent survey was Little Rock Arkansas with a score of 80.4, while Manhattan in New York City is the most expensive with a score of 254.7.last_img read more

49ers Kyle Shanahan gives vote of confidence to defensive coordinator

first_imgGREEN BAY, Wisc. — As guilty as the 49ers offense was for failing to get a first down on its final three series, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s unit couldn’t stop Aaron Rodgers from rallying for a 33-30, Packers victory.Afterward, coach Kyle Shanahan and cornerback Richard Sherman staunchly defended Saleh, whose become a hot-button topic among frustrated fans.Rodgers produced a game-tying touchdown pass with 1:55 remaining, then led the winning drive in the final 1:07 that led to Mason …last_img

Paige Lyons awarded West Coast Jamboree scholarship

first_imgEureka High’s Paige Lyons was one of three high school athletes to be named a 2018 West Coast Jamboree Scholarship Program winner.Lyons, a 2019 graduate who played volleyball and was named the Eureka girls basketball team MVP her senior season a year ago, was one of 24 finalists selected from more than 50 applicants who met the award’s criteria — a GPA of 3.0 or higher (Lyons was co-salutatorian of her class), documented community service, letters of recommendation from coaches and …last_img

Amphioxus Is Green, Like Coral

first_imgEvolutionists may want to combine their song “It’s a long way from Amphioxus” (02/23/2006) with “It isn’t easy being green.”  Green fluorescent protein (GFP) has been found in the lungfish Amphioxus, according to a press release from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  Why is this not easy?  Because it’s a long way: “The researchers say amphioxus’ GFPs are very similar to those of corals, an interesting fact since the two animal groups are separated by hundreds of millions of years of evolution.”  Now they are trying to find a function for GFP in the slender, slippery lancelets that allowed them to hold onto an ancient evolutionary innovation for so long.If you are laughing out loud, good.  It shows you are not completely hypnotized by evolutionary mists and vapors.  How did you like that euphemism they tossed out, as if we weren’t paying attention?  “Interesting fact,” they called it.  Try “devastating falsification.”    GFP may well have a function in lancelets, but that has nothing to do with helping Charlie weave his fable that they got it from corals.  Finding GFP in lancelets is like finding human genes in a shark – it’s not at all what Charlie would have expected.  Wait a minute – they found that, too (12/26/2006).(Visited 7 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Nelspruit’s 2010 transport plans in place

first_img20 May 2010 Host city Nelspruit has announced its 2010 Fifa World Cup transport plans to accommodate the influx of visitors and ease potential traffic congestion on match days. Nelspruit, in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, will play host to four World Cup matches, starting with a group H clash between Honduras and Chile on 16 June. The city’s 2010 plan would ensure “that travelling in and around Nelspruit is safe and convenient for residents and visitors,” Mbombela 2010 World Cup coordinator Differ Mogale said last week. The 2010 transport system, an additional service to the city’s regular public transport system, will comprise a public transport hub, six park-and-ride points, and one park-and-walk point, all with free and secure parking, as well as an airport pickup point. “Shuttle services to the stadium, Fan Fest and public transport hub will be operational from the park-and-ride and airport pickup points,” Mogale said. Six hundred specially branded buses and minibus taxis will provide the shuttle services, with a number of primary and alternative routes developed to ensure the that the system runs smoothly and congestion is kept to a minimum. “The transport venues will open three hours before the first match of the day and close two hours after the last match of the day,” Mogale said. “Shuttle services will run every 20 minutes, depending on demand, and will be free from June 11 to 25. Thereafter a nominal fee will be charged.” Mbombela Stadium will not provide public parking for general spectators on match days, and entry will be strictly enforced by law enforcement officials. About 650 transport volunteers have received training and will be on hand to assist spectators using the transport system at all the transport venues. “Event-specific signage will be installed throughout the host city to guide the public to dedicated transport venues,” Mogale said. He added that print and broadcast media awareness campaigns would be undertaken and detailed pamphlets made available prior to and during the World Cup. Road users passing through Nelspruit, especially the freight industry, have been encouraged to use the N4 ring road detour route, which is fast nearing completion. Road signs will be erected on the N4 to identify the route. Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

Outcomes from the WCF

first_img15 March 2016During the 2016 World Communication Forum (WCF) in Davos, Switzerland, BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – agreed to establish a BRICS Communicators Forum.The focus of the BRICS group would be on defining the communication strategy of the world’s five fastest growing economies, said acting director-general of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), Donald Liphoko.Liphoko was part of the South African delegation at the WCF, which ran from 7 to 10 March. The 2016 conference was the seventh annual forum.“The WCF was a major success in that it provided South Africa with a platform to engage with communicators from other parts of the world, but the major highlight is that we were able to agree as BRICS countries to establish a BRICS Communicators Forum on the sidelines of the Davos WCF that is going to focus on defining the BRICS communication strategy as well as positioning the geo-political group,” he said.Listen to what Communications Minister Faith Muthambi had to say:South Africa’s ubuntuThe participation of countries such as South Africa in WCF was crucial, said Dr Jon-Hans Coetzer, the executive dean for undergraduate programmes at the Glion Institute of Higher Education in Switzerland.“We all know the history of South Africa and now you just have to look at what South Africa has produced, what the country has brought to humanity in terms of great leadership, what it has brought to the international community in terms of big changes such as the promotion of equality for all, social justice and education in the world today.”“What I like more about South Africa is this concept of Ubuntu, which is so much part of the DNA of all South Africans. This concept is also relevant in global communication because we all need each other – business, the media, communication, education and public relations.”Coetzer said he taught ubuntu as a management concept, emphasizing to his class that without their customers and community they were nothing.About WCFThe annual meeting in Davos brings together industry leaders in public relations, marketing, media, political and business communications and corporate finances, as well as a large number of media representatives and international partner associations and organisations.According to the official website, the goal is to “unite trend-makers and influencers from the global communications elite and provide a platform for discussion focused on the future development of communications and their role in business, society and politics; to provoke in-depth analysis of the form and content of interaction between business, media, and society, on the one hand, and the state, on the other.”Source: South African Government News Agencylast_img read more

Become Trackable on Geocaching.com – Tattoos to Travel Bugs

first_imgShare with your Friends:More Additional Trackable Stories:Click on the image for a 30% savings on orders of Travel Bugs (U.S. customers only)Check out a Travel Bug race with do-it-yourself tipsWatch a soldier receive a Travel Bug tattoo.Read about a Travel Bug Rescue program.Share your Trackable stories for a chance to win Trackables. Trackable Week presents a new story Monday through Friday this week about creative ways to experience Trackables. Geocaching.com Trackables allow people to tag and track an item from location to location. Trackables typically come in three varieties, Geocoins, Travel Bugs® or Promotional Trackables like the “Find the Gecko,” Geico campaign. (Watch a video on Travel Bugs)See the bottom of this article for a place a share your Trackable stories, links to other Trackable stories and a limited time special offer for 30% of individual orders of Travel Bugs this week only (US costumers only). Check out Tuesday’s installment for Trackable Week:BECOME TRACKABLE ON GEOCACHING.COM – TATTOOS TO TRAVEL BUGSWhether your decision is permanent or a passing phase, becoming trackable on Geocaching.com offers you a new way to interact with the world around you.  Some geocachers choose a Travel Bug tattoo. There’s even a special icon available on Geocaching.com for those with a trackable tattoo.Click the image to see the story behind this Travel Bug tattooOthers decide to add a Travel Bug decal to their car, put a Travel Bug on their dog’s collar, or even make themselves trackable. Every Lackey at Groundspeak is trackable. It’s easy. Other geocachers must discover you in person. They enter your unique tracking code on the Geocaching.com Trackables page. They then log their discovery and often leave fun and entertaining log entries.CSavvy recently made himself trackable. He discovered geocaching about two years ago. He’s an Australian sound technician and frequently travels to record natural sounds. He enjoys geocaching because he says, “I love being in the outdoors. I am very outgoing and love an adventure. Geocaching is the perfect sport for me as it’s exactly that – an adventure!!”CSavvy spoke with Geocaching.com about becoming trackable and sent in the video below. You can get clues about where CSavvy might be next on his Savvy The Trackable Sound Guy Travel Bug page.Geocaching.com: What inspired you to become a Travel Bug? SAVVY: ” I Thought it would be a great way to track my adventures while also meeting fellow geocachers and making new friends along the way. And because I work in television and always out recording sound at various locations for TV shows, it’s also a chance for my fellow geocachers to get a look “Behind the scenes” of TV production as not many people get to see that side of things.”Geocaching.com: Will there be any clues as to your next location? SAVVY: ” I can mainly be found around Adelaide in South Australia and also Mount Barker which is in the Adelaide Hills…..But I do travel around the country (Australia) sometimes, so I could pop up anywhere! To make it a bit more easy for people to locate me while I am out and about, I will be posting clues of my location on the TB page on Geocaching.com and I have also set up a Facebook Page where fellow Geocachers can follow me.”Geocaching.com: What advice do you have for those considering becoming a Travel Bug?SAVVY: “My advice would be…..get out into the great outdoors…..travel, see places and meet people, and make yourself easy to find. I am easy to spot, as I carry around a big fluffy microphone and also have a big audio bag strapped to my waist! I am also never too far away from a broadcast camera!!!”See CSavvy’s video here:center_img SharePrint RelatedNottingham to Nottingham Travel Bug RaceSeptember 12, 2011In “Community”The Center of the Trackable UniverseSeptember 15, 2011In “Community”Trackable Tattoos – Never LostSeptember 23, 2012In “Community”last_img read more