Thursday, February 26, 2009

How to save California's economy

How would it help you, personally, if Marijuana was legalized?

From Drug Reporter:
California state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) has announced the introduction of legislation to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcoholic beverages. The bill, the first of its kind ever introduced in California, would create a regulatory structure similar to that used for beer, wine, and liquor, permitting taxed sales to adults while barring sales to or possession by those under 21.

Estimates based on federal government statistics have shown marijuana to be California’s top cash crop, valued at approximately $14 billion in 2006 — nearly twice the combined value of the state’s number two and three crops, vegetables ($5.7 billion) and grapes ($2.6 billion) — in spite of massive “eradication” efforts that wipe out an average of nearly 36,000 cultivation sites per year without making a dent in this underground industry.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano compared marijuana to alcohol, saying that it needs to be "Legalized and Taxed" like alcohol. I think that Ammiano must be smoking the green weed himself if he thinks that the marijuana compares to the alcohol industry.

Back during prohibition, My Grampa Bill was rumored to have a little Moonshine for sale at his service station north of Laytonville. They say that he kept the shine in the battery acid jugs in the back of the station. He probably generated a little extra money pedaling the stuff. But, it was in no way his main income, or even a significant portion of it. He still had to pump gas, mount tires, change oil, and do a little mechanic work to make ends meet. He didn’t drive around town in his tricked-out jacked-up high-dollar Model-T. He still had to work for a living, and the town people that he sold his shine to had no doubt as to what he did for a living, he ran a service station.

Alcohol, back in those days, was NOT California’s main crop! Marijuana is now, by FAR, California’s main crop. If you want to put it in perspective, marijuana is a 16 billion (With a “B“) dollar crop. Grapes are what they make California Wine from. Grapes only bring in 2.6 billion. Marijauna is six time more valuable than Grapes in California.

Now, back when booze was legalized, all it did was increase the consumption. My Grampa’s little Moonshine operation didn’t miss a beat, because he could sell his alcohol tax free. His business only dropped of a little bit and it was a hell of a lot easier to hide his nefarious little sideline, because alcohol was legal, and it was hard to separate the legal stuff from the illegal stuff. It was kinda’ like 215 marijuana grow. It was hard it ferret out the outlaws, because they looked just like the good guys from a little distance.

Now, I have to say that I’m proud of my Grampa, he was a genius in many ways, he made ends meet, and had a little fun doing it. You have to admit, there is just something romantic about an outlaw. Okay, follow me back to today, and lets talk about the businesses in Humboldt County. Some businesses have a grass for sale out of their backrooms, and they still earn their livings the honest way. Kinda’ like Grampa.

Some businesses don’t pedal any grass at all, but their businesses are totally focused on supplying the Marijuana industry. You know the ones that I mean, they sell fertilizer, and they sell black plastic pipe, tanks, drip nozzles, lights, co2 generators. Then there are the businesses that sell Diesel, diesel tanks, containment tanks, and plumbing fittings for diesel pipes. Whole industries are built around Electrical generators. Whole businesses are built around soil and soil amendments. But they are all legitimate businesses and perfectly legal operations.

Some Businesses are one-hundred percent legitimate businesses, that don’t cater to, nor do they supply the Marijuana industry. Grocery stores, Banks, Hardware stores, and Restaurants. But, do they NOT really have anything to do with marijuana? If Marijuana was instantly not worth anything, and any profit that was left in the weed would go to the state. Do you really think that those businesses would be just as well off?

I really do think that Humboldt County will have quite a few business doors close if the weed is legalized. I also thing that any weed sold after legalization will be on the Black Market. I hardly think that the people that have been outlaws for all these years are going to say “thank-God we are legit now, and all we have to do is give the profit that we would make to the state”.

The other thing that I don’t like about legalizing Marijuana is, I really don’t think that it is as “Medicinal” as some people think it is. ( I know that there are obvious exceptions). I don’t like trying to carry on a business deal with somebody that is stoned, anymore than I like to carry on a business deal with somebody that’s drunk. Why is it that some people can’t figured out that they are Just plain tedious to tolerate, when they think that they are cool, when they are just plain stoned. Sober up for a while and talk to a stoner sometime, and you will see what I mean. There is a time and a place to diminish your capacity and kick back and enjoy yourself, be smart enough to know when that is.

I think that if our legislators think that they are going to balance their budgets with tax dollars from marijuana, they need to rethink their positions. They will turn a 16 billion dollar crop to the value of peanuts (Literally). They will be cooking our Goose that laid the Golden Egg. California will go almost instantly broke, and I can’t believe that they are stupid enough to not see that…

But damn, I forgot, they really are that stupid. Pray for us.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lake Mendocino

A more recent photo of Lake Mendocino

So, you think that this is a drought year, this is what it was like when I was a kid. Lake Mendocino looking south.

This is Coyote Valley, when Lake Mendocino was first filed we called it "Coyote Lake". It is now known as Lake Mendocino. We had friends that had a summer home in Clear Lake Oaks and we would quite frequently drive through the valley on what was known as the "Coyote Cut-off".

Coyote Lake today. (looking west)

Monday, February 23, 2009


These mills were located in Willits. ( now confirmed by Ross Sherburn to have been located in Ukiah) I showed these to you to show you a typical town in the Northwest Coast of California in the Fifties.

Bottom of Photo is the Harold Castell Mill later sold to Pacific Coast. West of highway 101 is the Little Lake Lumber Co and then at the upper right is the Southwick Lumber Mill and the Kelsey Lumber Mill to the right. ( photo and text from The Mendocino Historical Society)

This photo is most likely from the '50's, and back before anyone even thought about air pollution. How many tepee burners can you spot.

The next photo is from the Humboldt State collection. I included it because the men have obviously inlaid the center rot and the riff crack. I got a kick out of it because it's also apparent that it was cut off an old rotten stump and filled in to be some kind of a show piece. Not too elaborate!

It reminded me of the old loggers that would send a log to the mill with a rotten spot on it. They would rub mud on the rotten spot, hoping that the log scalers at the mill would miss the rot, and pay them full price for the rotten log. What ended up happening was the log scalers would just dock back any log that had mud on the end. Turn-about was fair play!

It kind of looks like the Old-Timers are proud of their axes. The one laying at the bottom left of the photo is a long bit axe and it was used for chopping notches deep in the side of a tree to install springboards. Spring boards were installed on the side of a tree and a board platform was built on them to make a place to stand far enough up up the tree to get away from the butt taper when they were cutting the tree down. What's commonly called falling the tree. The newcomers always correct you when you say "falling a tree". They will tell you it's "Felling at tree". Yeah, maybe where they come from!

Most of the old loggers worked for "Scale", they got paid for the board foot of timber that they sent to the mill. They didn't get paid by the hour. So the scale was important to them. The more scale the more money. They got paid by the thousand board foot. A board foot is 12"x 12"x 1" and thousand board foot is abbreviated as MBF. (M=1000. BF = board foot)

This idea is important, because how much lumber that you can get out of a tree determines how successful you will be.

The lumber business was always based on efficiency. The woods workers always worked harder when they got paid for what they produced. They didn’t get paid for their logs by the hour, the got paid by the MBF.

So the logger always produced the best log that he could, to make the most “Scale”. The mill then had to cut that log to make the most scale. If the mill was too sloppy and made off-size lumber, that was too large or small, they would not get enough out of the logs that they bought to make a profit.

The original scale book was made up to be able to measure a log and tell what the mill would be able to cut out of it. The mill bought the logs by whatever the scale book said that they could cut out of it in lumber.

The original lumber was full dimension. In other words, a two by four, would be a full two inches by a full four inches. The mill workers soon learned that the closest that they could cut to those dimensions, the more lumber they could get out of the log. When the lumber went to the planer mill to be smooth surfaced it would come out 1 ¾” x 3 ¾”. That size has crept smaller through the years to the point that our standard finished board size today is around 1 ½” x 3 ½” for a two by four. Do the math, the logger is still being paid on the old scale book and the mill is getting paid full price for the smaller size. The mill's saws cut between 3/8” and ½” curf. Curf is the thickness of the saw cut. The mills figured out that if they could use narrower saws they could get even more boards out of that same log. So they started experimenting with narrower saws. The problem with narrower saws is the problem of stopping the saw whip and the crooked cuts, and wasting more lumber than they could increase with the narrow saws.

The original mainsaws, called a headrig in the mill, cut the log into slabs. The slabs would drop down onto a set of rollers that would move the slab to what was called an “Edger”. The original edger had fixed blade saws in it. It would be set up to cut the slab into fixed width boards. The lumber that came out would have a ½ inch curf on the head rig saw and the edger would cut a 3/8 inch curf. The fixed blade edger just cut the slab into boards that it was set up for. The lumber that came out was the luck of the draw. Anything that wasn’t a full dimension board was pushed into the conveyor and sent up to the Teepee burner.

The mill operators learned that they could cut narrower curfs with a band saw headrig. Then they made moveable blades in the edger and made much more accurate lumber.

A fellow by the name of Al Thresher from Blue Lake developed what they call the “Thresher Edger.” He used very narrow saws. The saws were placed on a huge arbor shaft. The saws floated on the arbor shaft, and they could be quickly repositioned by the use of saw guides. They fit the lumber size that the mill needed to cut for maximum efficiency. They cut a very narrow curf and they gained a bunch on efficiency. Ah, but the “Problem”. Nobody could make them run. They broke saws. They cut crooked and everybody hated them. They smarter mills and the smarter saw filers realized that to be able to make the Thresher Edger work would be the key to a high efficiency mill. They sprayed the saws with water to keep them cool. They soon learned that you could have too much or to little cooling water. The saw had to be tensioned with more stress in the leading edge so when they warmed up they would cut true.

I’m going to brag a little here, so bear with me. My uncle Ben Branscomb was one of the first people figure out how to make a Tresher Edger run consistently true with very little down time. Harwood Products sawmill in Branscomb California became the most efficient mill on the north coast. My uncle soon learned that no good deed goes unpunished. Before my uncle was able to make the edger run, it was pretty much hated by mill workers, and they thought that the old edgers were better. After he got the edger to run, he was pestered to death night and day for information on how to make the damn thing run. He decided early on that it wasn’t something that could be taught over the phone and anybody that wanted to learn had to apprentice under him and that was the way it was. He taught many people to run the edger.

When Harry Merlo was buying up timber and saw mills, he said that he was looking for people that could make a mill work more than he was looking for timber or assets. The Crawford Mill in Covelo was one of those mills, They had perfected the use of the Thresher Edger. Here is what Merlo said about that acquisition. He following is taken from The Mendocino Redwood company’s web-site:

Merlo considered F.M. Crawford Lumber Company his best acquisition in Mendocino County. He suggested the acquisition around 1968 when he was still a new V.P. with Georgia-Pacific(G-P) in Samoa, CA. This proposal illustrated Merlo’s early strategy to focus on people rather than timber. “Frank Crawford’s people,” Merlo said, “were the best to be found.” One reason for this assessment, according to Merlo, was that Crawford used the Al Thrasher edger to produce lumber with minimum waste. “If you have the best mill,” Merlo said, “the trees will come to YOU!”

Al Thrasher was born in 1920 in Chelan, Washington and started working at age 10 in the sawmill industry to help his family. Later he became a sawmill owner in Oregon. In the late 1960s, he revolutionized timber saw blades. His technology drastically reduced the thickness of the saw blade and, therefore, increased the amount of lumber recovered from a log. He also designed a “floating” saw that, unlike the earlier fixed collared saws, could easily glide for adjustments.

Although not a technical wiz himself, Frank Crawford hired individuals like Herb Ryan who would pore for hours over log data and propose sawing patterns that would optimize the amount of lumber recovered from a log. Merlo wanted people in the mold of Herb Ryan, who were oriented toward maximum efficiency and could get the most “product” out of a log. In fact, Herb Ryan became a consultant to L-P.

In part, it was a family tragedy that precipitated Merlo’s acquisition of Crawford Lumber Company. Frank (55) and Vivian (53) Crawford, along with two companions, were killed when their Cessna 320, piloted by Vivian, crashed in Canada on September 7, 1966. The group had left Ukiah on September 2 for a fishing trip; they were returning when their plane went down in a remote area, thick with timber. Exactly two years passed before hunters accidentally spotted the wreckage. Struggling in those intervening years to carry on the inivestigation of the missing plane and to keep the business going, the Crawford family finally decided to sell F.M. Crawford Lumber Company to G-P in 1968. Merlo had negotiated the deal with George Schmidbauer, who was married to Peggy Crawford, the daughter of Frank and Vivian. Schmidbauer became G-P’s general manager of Crawford operations.
Shortly before the negotiations, the three family-owned Crawford corporations—Covelo Lumber Company, Dinsmore Lumber Company, and Apache Lumber Company—were merged under the name F.M. Crawford Lumber Company (UDJ 10 April 1968). The eventual sale to G-P included about 62,000 acres, as well as sawmills in Ukiah, Willits, Alderpoint, Potter Valley, Covelo, and Dinsmore, and a re-manufacturing plant in Ukiah (PD 1 September 1968). At the time, there were 550 employees in the Crawford company.

In the mid-1980s, L-P proposed to spend about $2.5 million to rebuild the old Crawford mill and install computer equipment (PD 12 Sept 1983). Around 1993 the mill was shut down; its crew went to the Willits sawmill until LP built the new computerized mill between 1995 and 1996. This mill is still operational and is now the Ukiah sawmill of Mendocino Forest Products (MFP), one of the sibling companies of MRC. MFP has upgraded three of the major components of the sawmill equipment since 1998

The first photo is The Al Tresher Mill in Blue Lake back in the fifties. The second photo is The Frank Crawford lumber company in Covelo in the fifties.

Crawford Mill Ukiah

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More, on Rules That Just Don't Apply to Me!

My brain takes these little side trips often. This whole rule thing started yesterday when my wife said that we had to check into our room in Fort Bragg by 4 pm.

My wife and I are taking a much needed getaway to Fort Bragg. I had decided that we would pack our bags the night before, and maybe eat breakfast on the road somewhere, or whatever we felt like. Janis likes to do photography, and she has very little time for it. So, when we can get away, I like to let her take her time. She has to meet deadlines all the time, and it is just nice to just get away. I enjoy watching her get lost in looking for the right angle, the right light, and just being lost in the fact that she can take as much time as she likes, and the time is finally hers to enjoy, without any deadlines.

Our room is paid for, and the motel sent us a letter of confirmation that the room was paid for and it would be waiting for us. Then the thousand pound weight was put on my shoulders. “You must check-in before 4:00 PM.”

Here we are, taking a couple of days to get away from deadlines and worry, so what does the motel do to help take away our worries? They give us a dumb-assed deadline rule, which most people don’t even think about, but with me if you tell me I have to do something, I have to worry about it. First I worry about the consequences. “Is it a life or death rule?” If the answer is “No” I move to the next question; “Is it a rule that I should follow?“ If the answer is “No”, I move to; “Why would there be such a rule anyway?” Then I move into; “This rule really shouldn’t apply to me!”

I’ve discovered that most of the rules in the world, really shouldn’t apply to me. So, why do people spend so much time making up rules. When I was a little kid they told me that I “had to go to church, or I would go to hell.” I always thought that my way around that rule would be, to be a really nice person, and maybe I wouldn’t have to go to Hell. So that rule didn’t apply to me.

Then I went to school and everybody told me that I would get along great in school, as long as I followed the rules. Some of the rules were like in spelling; “It is always ‘I’ before ‘E’ unless… then there are so many corollaries that not even an English Professor can keep track of them all. And, when it really comes down to the bottom line, it’s really not a very good rule. And, It really shouldn’t apply to me.

When I was in high school my goal was to join the Air-Force and learn to fly at the Governments expense. A teacher at school pointed out that I wasn’t following one of the school rules, which I pointed out to the teacher, that it was a really dumb rule, and it really didn’t apply to me. While sitting in the school councilors office he told me that when I joined the Air-Force that I would have to follow rules even dumber than that! Well… that ended my military career. I don’t like following rules that just plain don’t apply to me.

Now, I find myself driving down the road and wondering when it’s time to turn my windshield wipers and headlights on. There’s a rule that if you can’t see a thousand feet you have to have your headlights on. I spend a lot of time deciding whether or not I can see a thousand feet. They say the rule is so people can see me coming when I have my headlights on. The way I figure it, it really doesn’t make any difference how far I can see, if somebody is trying to see me coming they should decide how far they can see me, so that rule is ridiculous, and it really shouldn't apply to me.

As you can see, most of my life is being taken up with somebody else’s ridiculous rules. They should just have one rule for me, and that should be: “If it’s Ernie, he will decide what he should do, and the rest of the world should just deal with it”. It would be much simpler for the rest of the world to deal with me than it is for me to deal with the whole rest of the world.

Anyway, we are going to take a much needed vacation. My wife will be taking pictures, and I will be watching my watch to see if it’s 4:00PM yet.

I asked my wife why we had to be there before 4:00PM. Why couldn't the Motel just say; "Your room is ready and waiting, and the key is in the office when you get there." They wouldn't even have to say; "If you're too dumb to not show up for a room that's already paid for, that's just tough! We won't even have to change the sheets for the next customer". Nope they have to say; "You must check in by 4:00PM!" Anyway, my wife's answer was; "That rule probably doesn't apply to us."

Well, DUH....

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Some people like rules.

Place rules here!

No matter who you are, or what you do in life, somebody else has a set of rules for you to follow. I understand that when you live in a society that there has to be rules for that society to follow. I always thought that if somebody wants me to follow a rule, that they should make it real simple and unambiguous. The reason for the rule should be plain for everybody to understand.

Some people like rules, and they just bumble along, as long as they have a rule to follow, they don’t have to think or apply themselves… Yup, yup, that’s the rule… don’t have to think.. yup, yup. And life is good for them.

When I was a little kid, I thought about everything, and wondered how everything worked. If there was a silly rule, especially like one that applied to me, I spent a lot of time thinking about it, and wondering why anybody would make up such a silly rule, a rule that had no real meaning other than; That’s the Rule.

Maybe some of you remember, from some of my other stories, that I was always a smart little kid and caught right on to some, very complicated, ideas. But, when I was a little kid, my mother would come up with some of the most unfounded rules that you can ever imagine. Of course, I was always quick to question why whatever she said was a rule. It always started with something like her saying; “Don’t do that!” And I would say; “Why not?” because I was a curious little kid, and I was always eager to learn something new. She would follow up with something like; “Because I said so!” Well heck, that’s really not a good reason to base a rule on. So, I would point that out to her. She would follow that with something like; “Because I’m your mother, and you’re the kid, and you’re supposed to do what I say!” Well heck, anybody can see that’s nothing to base a rule on, so I would point that out to her.

As I sat upstairs in my room, I would ponder where I went wrong. It would occur to me that I had just explained myself poorly, so in my mind I would carefully craft my phrases. At the next opportunity, I could explain myself, and it would occur to Mom that that I was indeed right, and she was wrong. She would apologize and I would be allowed outside to play again.

I knew that it wouldn’t be long until she would be at the door of my room eager to gloat about her victory. All I had to do was bide my time and wait. Sure enough, she would come to the door and say; “Are you ready to come out and behave?” I would say; “But mom, I was being-haave, and I would go into my much smoother explanation. She would say; “You can’t come out of your room until you can come out without saying “But Mom!” The door would close, and there I would be, working on a yet smoother explanation.

Sometimes I would still be in my room until Dad would come home. I would hear voices downstairs. Then I would hear the creak of the steps coming up to my room, the knob would turn and the door would slowly open. My dads expression was always unreadable, his face was the face of a good poker player. He would come in and sit on the edge of the bed. Then he would say; “What do you have to say for yourself?” My father was always much more reasonable than my Mom. So, would explain that I wiggled my feet, or what ever I did, and Mom made a rule out of the clear blue sky, for no reason, and that I felt bad for her and tried to explain that there really was no good reason for a rule like that and I tried to explain it to her many times but she just didn’t get it.

My dad's face would stay the same, you really couldn’t tell whether he was mad, happy, sad, frustrated, disgusted, or bewildered, it just looked like this was something that he just wanted to put behind him. He would say; “The next time that your Mom uses a sentence that ends in an exclamation point, just get up and say that you are sorry and go outside and play.” My face was not nearly as unreadable as dad's, and he could see the questions coming to the surface, and he would say; “I know that you always like to know how everything works, and what the reason for everything is, so I’m telling you that this is not a rule to follow, it’s just a way to live longer". His face was hard to read... But I believed him.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Time to pay up! I need help.

I'm looking for stories about the Finley Creek fire. Niel Logans son, Andrew recently wrote me looking for information about the Finley Creek fire. Correspondence as follows:

I found your web site researching the Finley Creek Fire. My father was on that fire and having taken many classes and the newer CALFIRE instructors do not have much info on that fire.

I am looking for other events that caused the wind reversal, it is mentioned that a volcano eruption caused the wind reversal. I am looking for time of the fire, days burning, weather, any notes or diagrams, or other info. I will be in the greater SoHum area in the next two weeks. I would be willing if the creek don't rise to meet with you for lunch to cover any information you have to give.

Andrew Logan

I replied:

Good to hear from you. I was not at that fire, in fact I was in San Francisco at the time. But, I have a lot of friends that know a lot about the fire. Some of the stories about surviving the fire are incredible.
I was just looking for something to put on my blog and it looks like this is it. Your father, who you probably already know, is one of the most respected firefighters that we ever had here in Garberville.
Please call me when you get to town. I'll be a lot smarter then!


He is looking for any Scientific details that might pertain to the fire. As all of us know that were here at the time, the hills were completely covered with brush, and the wind that night was one of the strongest winds that we've ever had on a north coast fire. I don't remember the exact date of the fire , but I believe it was in the Summer of 1972. I remember that it burned ten thousand acres in one night. The wind was a land breeze, Like what they call a "Santa Anna Wind" in Southern California.

The fire started at the bottom of the Wolf Ranch on telegraph ridge. I knew Old Fred wolf pretty good at the time. We used to help him round up his sheep. I asked him what happened. He said he didn't start it and he would say so even if he had. I really don't think that he had anything to do with it, but it was quite common in the early days for a rancher to burn the brush off of their ranches. I thought that maybe he was trying to burn brush and the wind went the wrong way. I guess we will never know for sure.

I know that I lot of people have written on this blog about that fire, but if you will write one more time I'd appreciate it. Andrew is looking for fire details and I'm just looking for anything that anybody remembers about the fire. We are getting fairly close to the same brush conditions as we had then. It's really kind of spooky to remember that fire. It might be time to start making a fire plan.

Thank-you to Kym Kemp for the following Times-Standard stories. Click on article for readable enlargement.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shipping logs out of Eel Rock.

Photos from internet, kind of like the equipment used at Eel Rock.

My father and his partner shipped millions of board feet of timber out of Eel Rock, back in the early sixties.

North coast timber and lumber must have been the mainstay of the train business. We shippied most all of our logs by rail, some premium logs that were used for "peelers" (Plywod logs) we shipped over the hill to the Highway. Poles we sometimes shipped by truck, but mostly by rail. Peelers had to be stright, tight grain, and no knots. That's kind of hilarious if you've bought any plywood today. You used to be able to buy plywood with "No Defect". Some times you could buy cheap plywood with no more than three "Boats" (patches) in it. The poles had to be straight and long, and we needed a special permit from "The Gestapo" to haul them.

I remember that our freight and packages were delivered to the train station in Eel Rock, but somebody had to be there to sign for them. There was a roofed loading dock on one end of the station and a small shed was the other end. There was a small shed about the size of an outhouse that had a phone and all of the shipping papers in it. You had to have a key to get in. The siding only held about ten railcars. But we had a booming logging operation. The railway had it's own phone system strung along the tracks. It all went away in the '64 flood.

We hauled our logs across the river on one of those long sideways riffles that are so common on the main Eel. The trucks that we used were modified highway rigs that had their bunks widened, lengthened, and had swing down stake-sides welded on. The truckers loved it. They got paid by the thousand board feet that they hauled, and they could haul about twice what they could on the highway. They didn’t have to license their trucks, and they didn’t have to pay fuel tax. So they were in fat city, and hog heaven. The conversations around the landing at lunch were always about how nice that it was to work off-road. They could haul anything that they wanted, any way that they wanted. They could even drag a log behind them if they wanted. Of course they wouldn’t, but the thought that they could tickled the crap out of them. They said the best part about hauling off-road was that they didn’t have to put up with the Friggin’ Gestapo! (CHP). And, OH… The language was much more colorful than I could ever post here! They got pretty graphic about what they thought should happen to the cops, then they would laugh like Hyenas.
I was fifteen at the time that we lived there and my job was to keep the roads and landing watered. I drove an old White brand dump truck with a water tank and a bar spreader across the back. The truck had a five speed main transmission, and a four speed brownie transmission, and a Duplex box. (two gears) Altogether you could be in any of eighty speeds forward or eight in reverse. The truck had square gears and vacuum brakes. I learned early on to be in the right gear before I needed it. The old square geared truck would not shift on a hill, and the brakes would only stop the truck once. If you tried to stop it twice the brakes would heat-up and fail. If the motor died it had a reserve vacuum tank that would stop you once, but then you didn’t dare let off the brakes because the vacuum would be gone. The only good feature was that the driveline emergency brake held good, but if you applied it while it was rolling, it would snap the drive-line in two.

You couldn’t water going up the hill because the road would be to slick to come back down. If you watered going down the hill, and you got too much water flowing, it would run up under your wheels and would start sliding down the hill. I soon learned to use very little water and go real slow. I learned that without even dieing first, like a lot of water truck drivers have.

On days off I would fish in the Eel River. In the fall of the year, half pounders would come up before the fall rains and you could catch them by the dozens. Or, I would go quail or deer hunting. I spent a lot of time swimming and being a boy. That was just yesterday, wasn’t it?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cain Rock & the Golden Spike.

October 23rd 1914: North Western Pacific Railway drives the Golden Spike at Cain Rock (east of Garberville) connecting Sausalito and Eureka by rail.

The location of the Golden spike Celebration is 1.7 miles South of Alderpoint on the main Eel River.

The top photo is the general location of the Ceremony, with Cain Rock on the lower left of the photo. There is a flat piece of ground with and old orchard just above it that can be seen clearly from the road just above Alderpoint.

The middle photo shows the perspective of Cain Rock from Alderpoint. Cain rock is in the lower right of the photo, on the inside bend of the river.

The bottom photo is a closer view of Cain rock.

The North Coast Journal on the railroad. An informative article written by Hank Simms, during the last hurrah of the Eel River Railroad, back in 2003.

Click on this link for an interesting Train trip down the Eel Canyon, Fernbridge, Trinidad, and the Golden Spike Ceremony. Historically interesting.

Some nice photos of the last of the passenger train trips up the Eel Canyon.

Mendocino County Supervisor Johnny Pinches watching one of the last loads of logs being shipped out of Island Mountain, just south of Cain Rock.

To look at the area today, it is difficult to see that this was the location of an important part of early California, and railroad history. The Golden Spike was the pin that connected Humboldt County to the rest of the world, and opened up the markets for redwood lumber. The driving of the Golden Spike was a three day celebration, with a train coming from the north and a train coming from the south. They met at Cain Rock for the Golden Spike Driving. The mayor of San Francisco and the future governor of california, James "Sunny Jim" Rolph, came on the south train and made a glorious speech.

From Wikipedia: James "Sunny Jim" Rolph, Jr. (August August 23, 1869 – June 2, 1934) was an American politician and a member of the Republican Party. He was elected to a single term as the 27th Governor of California from January 6, 1931 until his death on June 2, 1934 at the height of the Great Depression. Previously, Rolph had been Mayor of San Francisco from January 8, 1912 until his resignatin to become governor. Rolph remains the longest serving mayor in San Francisco history.


Dreams are nothing to be ashamed of, no matter what happens in them, after all they are not reality. However talking about your dreams, opens them up to the real world, and to everyone’s interpretation. Most people have dreams that are just simply not the kind of things that you would want share with anyone, but a most trusted and intimate friend.

Most of us have had a dream where we devise a special trick that helps us fly. One person that I talked to said that he would just think about walking up into the sky, like climbing a stairway, and soon he would be standing there, looking down at the houses just like he was standing on a tall hill, only he was in mid-air. He said that he had to be very careful around power lines. Another person would tie a towel around his neck and spread his arms and run as fast as he could, and soon he would be flying. He had to keep running in his dreams or he would have to land.

A large percentage of people dream that they find themselves in public places and discover that they are either naked or scantily dressed. It becomes most embarrassing, but because you can’t do any thing about it. You just go about what you were supposed to be doing, but you hope that nobody notices.

A dream that I sometimes have, is when I’m just going to sleep I get a sensation that I’m falling, and I wake up in a start, and grab the bed. My wife does the same thing every now and then. It’s hard to pretend that nothing happened, when you explosively shake the whole bed.

Some people dream that they are being chased by a bear, a dog, a mountain lion, or some other scary critter. These dreams are terrifying, and often you wake up with your heart pounding, and in you are in a sweat.

I try to keep this blog at least “R” rated, so I can’t go into great detail about sexual dreams, but I find it interesting that eighty-three percent of men will admit to having them, and thirty-seven percent of women will admit to have them. That is according to the Kinsey Report. Hmmm… Either men just have more fun or they are bragging. But what's up with the women? Is it that they function better in the real world? There are groups of people that try to focus their dreams on having satisfying sexual dream experiences.

Some cultures of people try to dream, and figure out the meaning. Some believe that their dreams are a connection to the spiritual world, so they try to remember them, and discus them with the elders, to see if the meaning can be determined.

"In past centuries, the Iroquois indians of the Great Lakes considered dreams to be a guide to their lives, to dictate their choices in regard to fishing, hunting, war, dancing, marriage and other significant life events. The Iroquois especially listened carefully to dreams their people had prior to war and hunting - a war party would even turn back if one of its members dreamed of failure immediately before or during the hunt.
In The Shaman's Doorway, Stephen Larsen quotes the French missionary Ragueneau's Jesuit Relations, (and material by Ragueneau originally appearing in the American Anthropologist, April 1958) who carefully documented the Iroquois approach to dreams:

"The Iroquois believe that our souls have other desires, which are, as it were, inborn and concealed. These, they say, come from the depths of the soul, not through any knowledge.... They have no divinity but the dream. They submit themselves to it and follow its order with the utmost exactness. Whatever they see themselves doing in dreams they believe they are absolutely obliged to execute at the earliest possible moment. Iroquois would think themselves guilty of a great crime if they failed to obey a single dream."

Dream Quests Men in the Iroquois society ritually did dream quests as part of their initiation, in order to awaken both visions and dreams that would guide them.

The Ojibwa Indian tribe of the upper Mississippi River and southern Canada, construct dream-catchers by tying sinew strands in a web around a small round or tear-shaped frame of willow. A feather is attached to the frame. The resulting "dream-catcher", is hung above the bed. It’s used to protect sleeping children from nightmares. Dream-catchers made of willow and sinew are not meant to last forever but instead are intended to dry out and collapse over time as the child enters the age of adulthood. It's recommended to hang the dream catcher above someone sleeping, to guard against bad dreams. Good dreams pass through, and slide down the feathers to the sleeper. Few people truly believe in the power of the dream-catcher, but it is such a sweet and tender symbol that it has been adopted by other tribes, and the dream-catcher has become a common household item in America.

The following is a romantisized video on the dreamcatcher.

There is a group of native people in Malaysia called the Senoi. They are hunter gatherers. They practice what is known as Lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is where you are aware that you are dreaming, and you can manipulate your dream to have it do what you want it to do, or you can completely recall your dream upon awakening. One other method of lucid dreaming is to concentrate on a subject as you fall asleep and simply move into the lucid dream. The Senoi actively pursue pleasurable or meaningful dreams.

"Senoi Dream Theory is a set of claims about how people can learn to control their dreams to reduce fear and increase pleasure -- especially sexual pleasure. It was a key element in a whole new orientation toward dreams that first became popular as one small strand of the human potential movement in the 1960s. Since then this new approach has grown to the point where it is now a separate movement, called the "dreamwork movement." It has its own in-group vocabulary, bulletins, workshops, and meeting places. Books on "creative dreaming" and "dream power," often invoking the wisdom of other cultures and classical Greece, have sold in the tens of thousands.”

“Dreams can be important in many different ways in Senoi culture. They can reveal that a woman is pregnant or why a child is sick. They can tell a man whether or not his new field will be productive. Dreams are essential in contacting the supernatural world, and they play a role in healing ceremonies. It is even claimed that dreams can predict the weather. Still, most Senoi are very reluctant to make very many predictions on the basis of their dreams. They tend not to mention a predictive dream to anyone until the prediction has come true. "Thus," says Dentan, "no one ever told us about having a weather forecast dream until after the prophesied weather had occurred.”
Whatever our dreams are trying to tell us, I don’t put much faith in having their meanings interpreted. If someone dreams of a cat, it might be a warm and fuzzy dream, but another person might be terrorized by cats, so I don’t think that dreams of cats mean anything. I just don’t believe that the meaning of a dream can be correctly determined by someone else. I’ve never tried to “steer” my dreams toward more pleasurable goals, but I have realized that I was dreaming and forced myself to wake up. Next time that I’m being chased by a bear in a dream, and I figure out that I‘m dreaming, I’m just going to turn around and kick the crap out of the bear!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Willits firefighter training facility

Please click on photo to enlarge.

Photo by Elaine; from Willits Daily Photo blog.

This is a photo of the Willits California Little Lake Fire Department training tower. It is made up of five modified cargo containers. The containers are perfect for tower construction, they are already made to stack and lock together. The possibilities are endless as far as training scenarios go. Furniture and smoke can be added, and training for five story rescue can be implemented. The stairway on the outside is for training officers to view the students progress and an escape as an mechanism.

I called the Little Lake Fire Department and asked the training officer, Carl Magann, about the 6000 lb blocks. I had guessed correctly, but I didn’t want to commit to my opinion of what they are used for. The blocks are used for urban rescue training exercises. They move the blocks around with their equipment to get the firefighters used to using moving large objects safely.

They place the blocks for a training situation and the firefighters have to move them to a different place safely, without harming anyone or anything. The trick is redundancy. Nothing is moved without back-up. Firefighters use jacks, air bag lifts, hydraulic rams and jacks, but they always back up what they do with cribbing so nothing can slip. A back-up system is always in place.

Anyone that has looked in a newspaper has seen the large blocks of concrete that are scattered about after a building or bridge collapse. Remember the Cypress Structure Bridge in Oakland after the Loma Prieta earthquake? The firefighters are using those blocks for that kind of training.The town of Willits is very lucky to have such high quality training facilities, and such well trained personnel. The town has state of the art firefighter training. As a firefighter I am envious!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Am I the only one that needs spell-check?

I've been having all kinds of computer problems lately. You probably don't know this about me, but I couldn't even type one complete sentence per hour without spell / grammar check. Okay, maybe some of you knew it, but not all... Well at least a few of you didn't know. Like Abraham Lincoln said; "You can fool some of the people all of the time". Fortunately those are the people that come to read my blog.

Well, when spell-check craps out, it makes blogging difficult. I correct one mistake after another. They say that lexdysic people can be very intelligent and good story tellers, but they usually have difficulty with spelling. For them, words just spell out differently than they sound.
Did you know that Walt Disney had dyslexia? Did you know that neither Albert Einstien or Thomas Edison could read well, or spell good? Albert Einstien could see the theory of relativity in his head, but he struggled to put it into words.

I have reinstalled "spell-check" on my computer. But the problem is in the English language. It doesn't have the words I need to use! For instance, there is the word "proclivity" which means; toward the slippery slope. There is "declivity" which means; down the slippery slope, but no "inclivity" which would mean; up the slippery slope......That’s where I spend most of my life. Why is there the word "incline" and "decline", but no "procline"? Just because I have a proclination to use words like that? The darn language monitors are always correcting me, instead of paying attention to what I am saying!!! How the heck do they expect to learn anything!!! The really great thing about "spell-check" is you can teach it new words. If It were up to the hoytie-toyties that spend their whole life correcting people, we would all just be saying "ugh" because it would be the only "correct" word to use! I just found out that there is a book out there with all my words already in it, called "The New Bush Dictionary". It seems Ol' George and I have a lot in common......It's nice to know there are still people out there that know how to talk...well I'd better go........It seems that my spell check is getting that smoky smell it got the last time it crapped out......Did you know "crap's' a word.............And strangely, “Ern” not a word.....interesting!

Rats! Tagged!

Back on the first of February I was tagged by Indie of “The Bitten Apple”. The tag said that I should post the 6th photo in my 6th file.

…Umm… I don’t keep photo files. So, decided that what I would do is post the 6th photo in the 6th blogsite listed over there on the left. When I checked who that would be, it turned out to be Ekovox’s 299 Opine. I scanned down six pictures and this is what came up.

The photo is of a Nestles “Chunky” bar. The Carson Park Ranger wrote: "......and who ever ate those damned Chunkys?"

To which Ekovox replied: “I did and I do on quite a regular basis. It's one of the best damned candy bars in the western world.”

Well… The best damned candy bar in the western world would be debatable. My personal opinion is that somebody was trying to get rid of raisins. Somebody probably said: “Why don’t we stick these raisins in a candy bar, just to see if anybody will be desperate enough to eat them?

I think that the best damned candy bar it the world would have to be a “Butterfinger”. I liked Butterfingers since I was a little kid. My grandfather used to walk to town once a week, and when he returned he would always have a Nickel Butterfinger and a Dime bag of jerky. For my sister he would bring a Cherryalette (sp?) and a bag of peanuts. I know that the Butterfinger is a damn fine candy bar, in anybody’s opinion, but maybe I like them because it reminds me of my poor beloved grandfather, staggering home from his weekly drunk, but still remembering the grandkids.

The best thing that I ever saw done with raisins was at the Eel River Con Camp back in the early ’60’s. They ground them up with the leftover cinnamon rolls, then soaked them in warm water. They mixed it all up in a stainless steel pot and tightly covered it, and made a “Bubbler” to let the gases out. Then they would take the kitchen hood apart and place the little brewery inside the hood until it was “Pruno”. Then they would get drunk on it.

The funny part of the story is that they said that I knew what they were doing, so I was part of the crime. They decided that I should bring them some “Girlie magazines” and they would cover for me. I laughed at them, and told them that I had no idea what they were doing, and maybe I should ask a guard about it, and suggested that maybe their Pruno was doing their thinking for them. Otherwise they should just pretend that we didn’t see each other. They decided that was cool with them.

Now, I'm supposed to pass this pyramid chain letter on. But I don't do chains. Although I am honored to have been chosen, I don't know how other people feel about them so I won't impose.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Ground Hog Day

My month long hiatus from serious blogging is now over. I'm glad to be back to my normal self. I left this blog with "Flying Pigs" and I am returning with "Ground Hogs". I should change the blog name to "The Porcine Picayune". But then, I promised pertinence.

The Ground Hog is also known as a Marmot, a Woodchuck, and a Whistle pig. It is a large sized member of the squirrel family. (Sciuridae) It makes a whistling sound when it is alarmed. Ground hogs generally live from two to three years old, sometimes as long as six years in the wild, but they have been known to live up to twenty-two years of age in captivity. They weigh from four to nine pounds. They eat seeds and clover, they love alfalfa, and make real pests of themselves in alfalfa fields. They eat bugs and bones to a smaller degree than ground squirrels do. They climb trees and often rest in the branches. They have a two layer fur coat that keeps them quite warm. They live in ground burrows, and hibernate during the winter. They stick their heads out in the early spring. They look around a little bit then go back into hibernation. It’s probably fun to watch them speculate about whether or not it’s time to get up, much like we peek at the clock in the morning when it nears time to arise.

The old story about Ground Hog’s Day, is that he comes out of his burrow on February the 2nd, and if the ground hog sees his shadow, we will have six more weeks of winter. I guess that means that if he comes out and the sun is shining, he knows that it is a false spring, and he goes back into hibernation. I figgur’ that it’s a trick, because they don’t say what happens if he comes out and it’s raining. Does that mean that we are going to have instant spring? Oh well, we don’t need to worry all that much about it, the old-timers told me that all of the local north coast ground hogs must have drowned back in the beginning of history, because we don’t have any around here.

When I was a kid, we used to go out and try to find a ground squirrel to see if it would give us a weather forecast, but we usually got rained out.

I’ve always thought that they should make Ground Hog’s day a national holiday, after all, there is no celebration between New Year’s Day and Saint Patrick’s Day. Ground Hog’s day is right in the middle and it would be a great time to have a party! So I will be celebrating February the 2nd, I can hardly wait to surprise my wife.

The legend of Ground Hog’s Day is sketchy; “The legend of Groundhog Day is based on an old Scottish couplet: "If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year." It must have some connection to that old legend. Again, I’m just going to have to guess, I figgur' the old timers got as bored with no-holidays as I do, and they got to making up stories about why the ground hogs stuck their heads out of their burrows.

Anyway I’m back, just like I promised. As far as being pertinent now, that was just another one of my jokes.

Happy Ground Hog’s Day!!!


Olmanriver wrote about The Hibernating Woodchuck. I found it to be more interesting than what I wrote, so I moved it up here to the front page. I didn't ask his permission so I'm going with the old saw: "It's easier to say that you are sorry than get permission". I'm sorry Olmanriver!

The following is by "Ol Man River":

The humble woodchuck has an amazing ability to hibernate, the facts of which may fascinate this audience; perhaps as much for what scientists are willing to do as for the facts: "A hibernating woodchuck is coiled into a tight ball with the head resting on its lower abdomen and the hind parts and tail wrapped over the head. During this deep sleep, respiration and heartbeat are greatly decreased, and body temperature is considerably lower than when the animal was active. In general, the metabolic rate of animals in hibernation is between 1/30 and 1/100 of the "resting" metabolic rate of non-hibernating animals. During hibernation, the breathing rate may be reduced to only one breath every five or six minutes, while the woodchuck's heartbeats may be as few as three beats per minute, in contrast to the normal rate of 80 to 95 beats per minute. Rectal temperature reaches a low of 3°C(38°F) during hibernation, while the normal summer reading is 32°C(90°F)." this deep hibernation also has hidden is a weight loss program allowing the woodchuck to eat all summer long, get good and fat and then... during hibernation males will lose about 47% of their body weight and females about 37% of their body weight. this higher loss rate in males is thought to be due to energy consumed by spermatogenesis during hibernation. (so that is why i was skinny when i was younger!) the male groundhog wakes up first, starving and horny. and that is what we base our "weather report" on.

Addendum two:

This is probaly the basis of the "Ground Hog Weather forcast". All males wake-up starving and horny, and that is that leads to the first decision of their day. They have to decide whether They are most starving, or whether hey are most horny. A newcomer came along and changer the spelling to "Weather". It's all coming together for me now!