Exiting the Main Gate to Vandenberg AFB, I again saw protestors with banners, waving slogans that told passing motorists, local news and our military men and women that “weapons don’t bring peace.”

I loved all the holiday events happening in town this past weekend — the parade, Master Chorale concert, Lompoc Pops concert, and the Creche Community Concert at the LDS church.

Ten more days until the solar cycle renews and the sun starts its return to the northern hemisphere; winter solstice is the darkest day for us up here north of the equator.  We hardly think of it in today’s world of eternal electric light, but ancient people held this day in holy reverence. …

The ashes of Santa Barbara County Fire Heavy Equipment Operator Dean Moore are brought down from a tractor during the procession at his funeral Thursday in Solvang. Moore died Nov. 29 after a two-year battle with lung cancer. //Ian Gonzaga/Staff

The gray rain clouds mirrored the somber emotions Thursday as the final alarm was rung for Dean Moore, a heavy-equipment operator with Santa Barbara County Fire Department, who died Nov. 29 after a two-year battle with lung cancer.

The gray rain clouds mirrored the somber emotions Thursday as the final alarm was rung for Dean Moore, a heavy-equipment operator with Santa Barbara County Fire Department, who died Nov. 29 after a two-year battle with lung cancer.

The lifeguard at the girls water polo match Thursday between Lompoc and Righetti high schools in Orcutt sits in the cold and rainy weather. //Bryan Walton/Staff

A faulty steering system on a Delta 2 rocket engine prompted a three-day delay for a mission to launch a NASA satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base, officials said Thursday.

Two men whose brush-clearing efforts along a local trail allegedly sparked the devastating Jesusita Fire in May have been charged with misdemeanor violations of county codes, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

Red Kettle Campaign Chairman Cozetta Blow greets customers as she rings a bell at the Vons in Lompoc. At left, Maurita Jaurequi of the Salvation Army rings a bell for donations in Santa Maria. //Ian Gonzaga/Staff

They’re not jingle bells or silver bells, but the ding-a-ling chime from Salvation Army bell ringers heralds the coming of Christmas just as effectively.

Nipomo’s Cami Castillo try’s to take the ball from Cabrillo’s Taylor Wagonseller during the Moriarty Enterprises Holiday Classic Thursday. //Photo by Phil Klein

In the closing minutes of the Cabrillo/Nipomo girls basketball game, Cabrillo head coach Mark Tasch was yelling, “Anybody but her! Anybody but her!” from his side of the gymnasium.

Lompoc’s Erica Elenes tries to shoot over Righetti’s Linsey Avila during non-league girls water polo action at Righetti High. Elenes scored two goals and even played goalie in the first quarter, saving six shots. //Bryan Walton/Staff

With two new head coaches, the Lompoc and Righetti girls water polo teams are still trying to get used to changes in the learning curve.

The annual Nativity Pageant scheduled for tonight at Solvang's outdoor Festival Theater has been canceled because of rain, and this evening's Santa Ynez Valley Jazz Band concert has been moved from tonight to 4 p.m. Wednesday in Solvang Park.

Concerning the jogger hit by a car on West Ocean and Bailey, I travel West Ocean almost daily, and have had many close calls with joggers and others walking or riding bikes on this road.

Conflicting claims from both sides of the health care debate can produce side effects of confusion and  irritability. On the one hand, we are told that the pending health care  bill will be “deficit neutral.” On the other, we hear that over time it would add billions of dollars to America’s …