Monday, December 28, 2009

Eel River Jade

common name for either of two minerals used as gems. The rarer variety of jade is jadeite, a sodium aluminum silicate, NaAl(SiO3)2, usually white or green in color; the green variety is the more valuable. The commoner and less costly variety of jade is nephrite, a calcium magnesium iron silicate of varying composition, white to dark green in color. Jade has been prized by the Chinese and Japanese, as well as by pre-Colombian Mesoamerican peoples, as the most precious of all gems. The Chinese in particular are known for the objets d'art they carve from it, and they traditionally associated it with the five cardinal virtues: charity, modesty, courage, justice, and wisdom; they also attributed healing powers to it. It was much used for implements by ancient peoples.

When I was a kid, every rock that I found was a "Rock". There were pretty rocks and ugly rocks. As I got older and more sophisticated, rocks became either jasper, sandstone, quartz, soapstone or isinglass. They still fell into two classifications for me, pretty rocks and ugly rocks.

Back in the fifties, everybody took on a new interest in mining. Uranium became a big item after they developed nuclear weapons. They also needed uranium to power the nuclear power plants that they were starting to build. A friend of my grandmothers asked her for permission to “prospect” on her property in Laytonville. Of course she said yes. It was pretty exciting for her to think that somebody might find something valuable on her property.

The old prospector was very knowledgeable about rocks. He didn't expect to find Uranium, but he did expect that he would probably find something worth mining on Gramma's property. He found some fairly favorable tungsten ore, but not in the amounts that would have been worth mining.

The one thing that the old prospector did find, was me at his heels. He became the total focus of my insatiable curiosity. I learned quite a bit about the names of rocks from him. He knew about the “Jade” on the Eel River. He told me that it is really not Jade, but “Nephrite”. He said that is was pretty like jade, but not nearly as valuable. For a 9 year old boy, that was hard for me to understand. To me a pretty rock was a pretty rock, I couldn't understand the concept of “valuable”.

I found out from him that the stuff we called “Fools Gold” was really iron-pyrite. Again, I couldn't understand why it was not valuable. We found fools gold all over the ranch. He soon started asking me where certain kinds of rocks were. And, of course I knew where all of the “pretty rocks” were. I was able to lead him right to wherever he wanted to see a certain type of rock. We had a little trouble communicating at first. He had all of the Newcomer names for my pretty rocks. But, we were able to teach each other a lot. One of the things that I found to be really interesting about hin is that he used to be a cop in Texas, and he still packed a 45 cal semi-automatic pistol in a shoulder holster. I had never seen an a semi automatic pistol before.

The reason that I tell you all of this, long story, is just to prove that I was right all along. “A pretty rock, is a pretty rock”. The stuff in the Eel River that we called “Eel River Jade” has slowly changed from worthless to semi-precious.

The main deposits of Eel River Jade is in a place called Mina, just north of Covelo on the North Fork Eel River. A fellow by the name Sam Gitchel, from Philo, California, bought the ranch out there, and has been mining it. Jade is found in several locations on the main Eel, and is of varying colors, from white to dark green. Some is almost black. There are shades of blue and also red. But it is all called “Nephrite”. The stuff that my old prospector friend called “worthless”.

Here are some Photo's from Sam's website:

The art of "Suiseki" is the Japanese art of stone appreciation. They will display the stone in it's most natural form, depicted in an artful way.

Interesting links to Eel River Jade collecting:;_ylt=AkynArY6m33UotFIGV7o0jftiBIF;_ylu=X3oDMTJpNDl2aGl2BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTAwMTE4L2FzX3ZpZXRuYW1fYmlnX2J1ZGRoYQRwb3MDNARzZWMDeW5fbW9zdF9wb3B1bGFyBHNsawN2aWV0bmFtYWltc3Q-

Once in a Blue Moon

This is going to be all-over in the Mainstream Media, but you heard it here first! This month is going to have a Blue Moon. A Blue Moon is the second full moon that happens in a single month. The Lunar Cycle is 29.53 days, or 29 days 12 hours and 44 minutes. If you are an astrophysicist, all kinds of things change that cycle. Like, how fast the Earth revolves around the Sun, the distance the Moon is away from the sun and the Earth etc. But, for you and me, if we went out and set on our lawns, and timed the full Moons, we would find them to be 29.53 days apart.

Whoever made up the universal cycles had a sense of humor. The Moons trip around the Earth does not correspond the length of the days, nor number of days in a month. So it’s all screwed up. We have leap years to keep the days timed to the years, and leap hours and even leap seconds that we use to keep our clocks right. We have Blue Moons to add a Full Moon to the other wise unwieldy Lunar cycle.

Unlike we do with the "time" to keep it corresponding to the movement of the Earth around the Sun, we just let the Moon do whatever it wants to. So, when ever an extra Moon shows up in a month, we just call it a Blue Moon, and go on. It doesn’t change a thing.

However, a blue moon is very rare! We only have one every 2 1/2 years, or one every 41 months. (again, there are tons of scientific variables, that would only bore people like you and me) The really unusual thing about the one coming up this month is that it is happening on the very last day of the year, December 31st. To make the Blue Moon even more rare, there will be a partial eclipse in certain places around the world. How cool is that!

A Blue Moon, on the last day of the year, and a partial eclipse, what could be more rare? One more thing, it is also my wife and my aniversary!  Now, if I take her out to dinner, buy a good bottle of wine, buy her a nice little gift, and just be a super romantic guy. Imagine the possibilities! The Sky is the limit!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More recently found local artifacts

These arrowheads were found on the main Eel River between Spyrock and Alderpoint. They sure had some beautiful chert out there.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Midwintersday!

Happy Midwintersday. This is the day that the spiritual and the physical join in agreement and look forward to new beginnings. The photo below is of a mount in Ireland built by the ancients. It is a physical manifestation of their spiritual beliefs. The whole structure is dedicated to detecting the winter solstice, or the longest night and the darkest day.

I will be writing much more about this subject later. But if you have any thoughts about Midwintersday, or what it means to you, please dive in. I just wanted to start the day with a good thought.

This large mound is called "Newgrange" and it is estimated to be over 3,200 Years old.

At the very lowest point the the sun reaches in the winter sky, a beam of sunlight shines though the opening above the entry and shines on a mark all the way back into the central chamber.

I read somewhere that they used to sacrifice humans at the winter solstice, but the catholic Church stopped it. I guess they figured that human sacrifice was their prerogative.

Some of my ancestors are from Ireland, so I find the Early Irish to be, at least, as fascinating as the Early American Indians. Indeed there are many similarities in the two people. They were both extremely creative. They both used stone tools, and many of their legends and stories were the same. They both had rebirth or renewal celebrations. They based many things on information passed down from generation to generation. Neither of the two people had written language. The French gave Britton their written language in about 650 AD.

At one time my accumulated knowledge and memory would have been considered to be very valuable. An old person back in stone age times was the ancient equivalent to Google today. If you needed to know something, you had to converse with the elders. Elders were the most revered people of all of the culture back then.

The modern Irish estimate The Newgrange Structure to be between 5,000 and 5,200 years old. The mound is not more than 10,000 years old, because all of the British Iles were covered with a glacier before that. As the glacier melted stone age man moved northward. Unlike modern day man, they looked forward to global warming. But that was the period where global warming was slowing down considerably.

One of the things that made me realize that all people are the same is the similarities in the stone writing. The spirals, circles, boxes, and zigzag lines are found in all Neolithic stone carvings. The carvings could easily been done by our local Indians.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Santa 2009

Every year, starting clear back before I joined the Redway fire department, (Joined in 1973) Santa has been hauled around town on the old American LaFrance fire engine. Nobody is sure when the tradition started, but I remember when I was a kid the Old Lafrance and Santa would make the rounds in Redway.

In all of the years that I have been one of Santa's helpers we have never been rained out. We have had rain before and after, and some days we've had light rain, several times we've had freezing cold, or windy weather, but we've never been rained out. Several years we had large beach umbrellas up to stave off the mist, but nope... never been rained out!

The Photo card at the top is By Kim Sallaway. The pretty woman at Santa's side is Yvonne, Kim's helper.

This is how you back up the LaFrance. You set the hand throttle, shift into reverse, then let the clutch out. When the truck starts to move backwards, you step out on the running-board and steer the truck backwards. The truck moves at about one-mile per hour.
Photo of me, Ernie, driving. By Pete Genolio.

There are so many kids at the Orchard Street Apartments that Santa got off the truck to talk to them and ask what they wanted for Christmas. The speaker system on the escort truck was playing loud Christmas music. The kids found it to be very amusing when Santa broke out dancing to Jingle Bell Rock. It broke the ice for the little True-Santa-Believers, and instead of being so painfully shy, they were willing to ask him for what they wanted for Christmas.
Photo by Ernie's cell phone
Photo by Pete Genolio's cell phone.

After all of the candy canes were passed out, we sent Santa Back to the North Pole, and parked the LaFrance. We all went home and put on our best clothes and met back at the Redway Fire Hall for a Christmas dinner and party. We ate, made speeches, past out awards, did Karaoke, and danced until the new day was upon us.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wouldn't it be great?

Anon said:
"You have every right to your find no matter what some tinhorn Fed says. This is Humboldt County after all.

Great story Spyrock. It illustrates the energy side. Rocks hold energy longer than wood or water. When you hold that pestle in a quiet way, there may be energies, old, old energies that come to you as a gift. Think of all the life experience associated with that pestle, and admire the amazing craftsmanship. You are fortunate."
Yes, Spyrock is always interesting. The greatest thing about this blog is the things that I have learned from the people that comment. I won’t go into great detail about the people that do comment, because I would end up leaving someone out, and I encourage everyone to comment here when they have something to say.

I have always been interested in other people’s knowledge. I have long been the person to stir up a conversation, then just sit and listen and enjoy. When I was a kid they used to accuse me of “bringing up sore subjects, and starting disagreements”. To me I used to like to wonder how anybody would just plain personally disagree with each other, I always though that there would only be one “Truth” and that they could find it together.

I’ve come to understand as I’ve gotten more “sage” that some people don’t care about truth, and they base most of their decisions on their beliefs, or faiths. Somehow that always scares me. Most times I will find that their reality is based on their own personal agenda. I try to avoid agendas. Some commenters are seekers of truth, like I think that I like to be. Even when I don’t agree with them, I value their opinions of being those of an honest person. Sometimes I’ve even found enough wisdom in their thoughts that I’ve changed my mind about things.

In the last post, about Indian artifacts, I have had many people come to me on the street and tell me about the artifact that they have found. Usually they found it in a place that they shouldn‘t have been, or on State Property and they don’t want anybody to know about it, because they find a personal connection to their “find”. In all cases, they felt a connection to the small chips of rock that they have found that it causes me to wonder why honest people would even defy the law to keep what they feel is “theirs” by the right of finders-keepers.

I guess that people feel that they can trust me, but they tell me about their find but they never reveal any details that might get their find taken away from them. Wouldn't it be great if we could say that “I have an Indian artifact and here are it’s details.” and not have it taken. I think that we could all learn so much.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Local Indian stone tools

Pestle from Eel River Near Alderpoint. Most likely Wailaki or Lassic, depending on the age of the artifact:

A long-time aquaintence of mine told me the other day that he likes reading this blog, and that he especially likes the stories about the Indian culture, the Indian people and the Indian artifacts. So do I. He went on to tell me that he had found a pestle in the area of Alderpoint while on a kayak trip down the river. He said that he had to stop and relieve himself. Near the bank of the river he saw about four or five inches of the pestle sticking up out of the river silt. He at first thought that it had something to do with the railroad, so he went over to it, and pulled it out of the sand. This pestle is what he found. As you can see from his photo it is one of the most perfectly formed pestles that I've ever seen. It is perfectly round, and the sides are perfectly staight, It has a perfect taper to the hand shaft. The end is broken off with only slight wearing of the sharp edges, which lead me to wonder if it was just left that way, or if it got broken somehow.

This man gave me permission to identify him. Then changed his thoughts to just give his first name. This item is so precious and perfect that I think that I will leave it to him to identify himself, if he wants to. He reads this blog. He also has a collection of about a dozen very crudely worked arrow heads. He didn't send me any photos of them, or I would include them here. It always amazes me what the local Indian people could do with simple stone tools.

Most of the mortar and pestles that I have seen from the local Indians looked like the photos below. This mans find is amazing. The shaft near the bulb end shows the pecking that the Indians used to shape their stones. I have ofter wondered what kind of stone that they used to peck the stone tools. There are two methods that they used. The direct method, by hitting the stone with a sharp tool, and the indirect method, where they used the working tools like a hammer and chisle.
Mortar and pestle from Clear lake:

Stone bowl from "Humboldt County"

Monday, December 14, 2009

Everybody's got heroes.

Archie Brunkel and his truck.

We all have our heroes. Most people have at least one person that they look up to or admire. Somebody that taught them how to do something special, or taught them a special skill. Or somebody that did it better, or different, than anybody else. Somebody that really stands out and stands above the rest in our minds.

Most basketball fans will probably agree that Michael Jordan would be an all time stand out. He was and is many peoples hero. No matter what kind of foolishness that Tiger Woods did to his private life, I think that we would all agree that we have never seen a better golfer. Many people think that Barack Obama is their hero, he came riding out of Chicago on a tall white horse, ready to save us from the evil Bush administration.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that many of us have chosen personal heroes that many others might not agree with, but we stick with them through thick and thin. Some of us choose stock car racers, potato farmers, carpenters, and so forth, but most of us have somebody that stands out in our minds as their own personal heroes.

Most of my personal heroes have been loggers. I haven't helped ship a log to the sawmill since 1964, but I still think of myself as a logger.

Back in the '50s logging was a proud profession, so if you were a highly respected logger, you were the king of the hill. Most of the loggers were flat broke, but trying to break into the big time. Most of them knew many people that had made it big with very meager beginnings. They figured you had to be working hard enough to get your grubstake together if you were ever going to make it. So most of the loggers were trying to parlay their fortune with a good idea, negotiating a good price on a patch of timber, or get more logs to the mill than anybody else, and pull ahead of the debt game.

The people that made it, or showed the best potential were actually admired by the rest. They would say, “Well if old whozzie can make it, I'm surly not far behind”. They would be happy for the person that succeeded, and they would try that much harder to “make it” themselves.

Such a person was one of my, and many other loggers personal heroes. His name was Archie Brunkel. Loggers never got paid by the hour. They got paid by the thousand board feet of lumber that they moved to the mill. The only people that got paid by the hour were the Catskinner, choker setter, and the mechanic. Timber fallers and truck drivers were paid by the thousand. Most timber fallers parlayed their fortune by working hard, fast and long. Truck drivers made their fortune by making as many trips to the mill as they could. If they thought that it was an off-day for “The Gestapo” (CHP) they would haul an overloaded truck load of logs to the mill. Sometimes they would try to sneak a hugely overloaded truck down the highway. Most of the time they would succeed. Sadly, sometimes they lost all their profit in overload fines.

Some of the truckers were good mechanics, so they would build their logging trucks themselves out of what ever kind of salvage truck parts that they could find. If they didn't spend a lot on their trucks they made more profit. Sadly the old homemade trucks moved very slowly, or they broke down.

Now, my personal hero, Archie Brunkel had a plan. This was just after the World War Two, and many things were available military surplus. He was a cracker-jack mechanic and he knew every part that worked good on a truck, and every part that didn't. He knew that Mack Bogie rear-ends were the only rear axle differential that would hold up to high power and steep hills. They were thought of as bullet-proof by the loggers. He had an old truck that he put these rear ends in. He had a tough transmission, and here was his plan to get more logs to the mill. ---He would buy the biggest, most powerful motor that he could find, and put in his truck---. He went shopping for an Army Surplus motor. He found two military tank engines made in Cadillac Michigan. They were the biggest gas engines that I've ever seen. I only vaguely remember them. The one thing that I remember is that they had three 4 barrel carburetors across the top of the engine. He had two of the carburetor linkages disconnected and he ran it on just one carburetor, because he said that it would use too much gas and tear things up too bad.

The big engine was in a vee shape and stuck out both sides of the hood. He had a radiator off of a bulldozer. He always made more trips to the mill than anyone else, but he only fooled himself, because the extra money he made was used up in gasoline expenses. He only got two miles to the gallon.

I don't ever remember that truck going by without everybody on the street stopping and staring. No conversation took place until it was around the bend. There was not a muffler big enough for it, so he ran the exhaust through a big tank in the back. I think that it only made the truck louder. He went up the hills in the same gear that he did the flats.

The last I remenber the truck being used was when I was in high school in Miranda. When the truck went by, the windows shook so bad that we thought that they might break.

I don't know what ever happened to Archie, but he sold his truck to a fellow that ran into another truck with it. One of the engines that Archie bought is still in a shed in Briceland. I asked the owner if I could get a picture of it, and he said; “Sure, it might take a while to dig back to it, but I'll let you know when I do”. That was a while back.

Everybody's got to have their heroes, Archie Brunkel was one of mine.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The world is ending tomorrow!

Or: "I've discovered the ememy, it is us!"

Human body heat equals 182,500 BTUs per year.
Standard heat load calculation tables tell you to allow 500 B.T.U.s per day, per person, in a building occupation heat load. So, if a human gives off 500 B.T.U.s per day, they will give off 182,500 B.T.U.s per year.

6.8 billion people on the earth.
If there are 6.8 billion people in the world, (there are!) that would be 1,241,000 billion B.T.U.’s per year in human occupation load. Or 1.241 Quadrillion B.T.U.s.

Human body heat melts 4.31 billion tons of ice per year.
I takes 144 B.T.U.s to melt a pound of ice. I'll skip through all of the calculations, because if you really cared, you would have already calculated this out. There are enough humans on the eath to melt 4.31billion tons of ice with body heat alone.

That's a lot of Polar Bears.
How many Polar Bears can float on 4.31 billion tons of ice??? That's per YEAR.

Now sadly, that is not the only warming that humans do. Other things that they do to contribute to keeping the globe warm is: Most of them have heated houses, cars that take them hither and yon, heated swimming pools. They uses tons of energy that is wasted as heat. It soon becomes appearent that humans are a real problem on this Earth.

Earth is a big place, and we are such small people.
Fortunately the Earth is a large dynamic, many things also serve to cool the Earth. The Earth radiates heat back out into space. Much like when you stand in front of a heater, you feel the heat radiating toward you, only the heat from Earth radiates into outer space. Gone forever, never to return. There is nothing out there to reflect it back once it leaves our atmosphere. Our Earth would get mighty chilly if it weren't for the Sun shining on us. The sun is the only thing that keeps us warm. All of our energy comes from the sun. Our days are shorter in the winter, and we get colder, because we have less Sun.

Co2 blocks the Sun from coming to Earth, and it also blocks the heat from radiating back out. It has some effect, but not as much as dust in our atmosphere. Back in 1991, when Mount Pinatubo erupted, the summers got cooler and the winters got warmer. The good news is most of us lived through it.

Here is a little "Climate change graphic that you can play around with. just to see if you can kill the world with Co2.
Climate change model graphic

Global warming conference in Copenhagan.
The Copenhagen Climate Conference will be using 140 private aircraft, and 1,200 limos. There is such a shortage of limos that they are driving them in from other European countries. They will be using so much fuel during the conference that they will equal the Co2 output of Middlesbrough UK. The good news is that the prostitutes are offering free sex to anyone carrying a climate conference pass. It seems to strongly imply that someone is going to get screwed.

Why not just send emails? Oh that’s right, they are too easily intercepted. Al Gore should have worked on that when he invented the Internet. (Joke) It seems like even the best plan has it’s flaws.

This isn't the first time that the world has ended.
In 1798 Thomas Malthus incorrectly predicted that population growth would outrun food supply by the mid 19th century. In 1968, Paul R. Ehrlich reprised this argument in The Population Bomb, predicting famine in the 1970s and 1980s. The dire predictions of Ehrlich and other neo-Malthusians were vigorously challenged by a number of economists, notably Julian Lincoln Simon. Agricultural research already under way, such as the green revolution, led to dramatic improvements in crop yields. Food production has kept pace with population growth, but Malthusians point out the green revolution relies heavily on petroleum-based fertilizers, and that many crops have become so genetically uniform that a crop failure would be very widespread. Food prices in the early 21st century are rising sharply on a global scale, and causing serious malnutrition to spread widely.

Too many people anyway.
I really don't like to complain about things without offering a solution. Throughout history it has been obvious that all of the worlds problems have been caused by the fact that there are just too many people on this small little Earth. So, I'm making a survey to find how many people are willing to get off. I pass....


Sunday, December 6, 2009


I got up this morning, built the fire, made my wife and I a cup of coffee. Made some bacon eggs and pancakes for breakfast. I checked outside to see what the weather was doing. The sun was shining brightly, it was 30 degrees with frost on the ground. I knew that we had a special fire drill at 9:00 AM, so I was pleased to see the Sun. I turned on the news while I was getting ready to go to the drill. I started to go out the door and the air was filled with the lightest, fluffiest, airy snowflakes that I've ever seen. They were coming down in exceptionally slow motion.

On my way the the truck I came upon a spider web strung from my truck to the house. The web had collected a chain of the little fluffy snowflakes. Like mother nature saying “Do not pass”. I hesitated, then moved on. I had a little trouble destroying the beauty of the moment, but like so many of the wonders of nature, I realized that it was a fleeting moment, and would soon pass all on it's own.

We drilled on fire suppressant foam application and I came back home about noon. I fixed the kitchen faucet while my wife worked in “her hobby room” downstairs. About 3:00 PM, it started snowing again. It was a real light airy hail. Not the rattling bouncy kind, but the stuff that makes a hissing noise as it lands. My wife, and old snow skier, calls it “Corn Snow”. We had about ½” of it and it stuck real good. Now it looks like it's going to freeze tonight.

If you are going anywhere be careful, it might be slippery.

Did it snow where you are?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

School project

I openned my email last night and found this note there. I really don't know the right answer, so I thought that I'd ask my blogger buddies to respond.

Dear Ernie,
I am 6 and 1/2 years old. My name is (Withheld). My mamma is typing for
 me while I talk.
 I found some arrow heads on the top of Pratt Mountain.
 My Daddy was able to go there because he knows someone who has land
 Ernie, I am really into arrow heads and I was wondering if you could
 give us information about the Indians that made the arrow heads on the
 top of Pratt Mountain or if you could tell us how to find that
 I found a "scraper" and 2 spears that they were making but didn't
 finish and I found a little white one that looks like a really sharp
christmas tree.
I want to do a presentation for my class on spears and where they came
 Please write me back. This is my mammas email.

 Thank You.
(Name withheld)
 (and his mamma)

Dear (Name witheld)

First, I'm sorry that it took so long to get back to you. I have had many things to deal with lately. If you are anything like me, you must be getting very annoyed by now.

Pratt Mountain is at the point that four different tribes joined. But, rather than me guessing, I’m going to post it here on my blog. I have many friends that are students of the local Indian tribes. I’ll ask if anybody knows, or has an opinion.

Thanks for writing
P.S. If you want to find arrowheads, ridgetops are a good place to look for them. The soils don't collect over them, but washes away, leaving them expossed. Fields where Indians were known to camp is another good spot. Watch the gopher and squirrel mounds. After a rain they will show up because the arrowheads are made out of glassy rock that will sparkle in the sun. Check after a field has been plowed. Then check the field again after a rain. The bottom of drywash creeks are also a good spot to find arrowheads.
There are thousands of arrowheads still undiscovered. The Indian People made them in great numbers.
The Four tribes that joined at Pratt Mountain were the Nongatl, the Lassic. the Shelter Cove Sinkyone, and the Matole Wailaki. But... I am no expert. I am just a person that is interested in everything about the South Fork of the Eel river and the surrounding areas.

Please help us on this school project.

Found in Humboldt Ca. but not Pratt Mountain.