Thursday, June 30, 2011

Noisy Falling Stars?

Okay, while we are on the subject of celestial objects, here’s a story that comes under the heading of “Ya’ll ain’t gonna believe this stuff”.

When we were kids we would go out in the orchard on the family ranch in Laytonville on the hot summer nights. Usually at family gatherings there were 8 or 9 kids. We would find a nice warm grassy spot still hot from the heat of the day. We would lay on our backs, tell a few scarey stories and watch the night sky. We would tell stories about the big dipper, the north star, the milky way and the moon.

We would keep count the falling stars that we would see. Whoever got to see the first one got to recite the poem “I wish I may, I wish I might, make a wish on the first falling star I see tonight”. You say it your way, we said it ours. Then we would make a wish. The other rule that we had is, that you could never reveal what you wished for. Which made wishing a lot more fun when you didn’t have to tell anybody.

As we counted the stars, whoever counted the most got to win. Of course there were endless arguments over whether or not you reaaallly, really saw one. If somebody was a star behind, and they saw one “Out of the corner of my eye right over there, it was so faint that you could just barely, barely see it, but it was there!” Another kid would say; “Twas not, you cheater” and the argument was on. There was no chance that you could hear anything besides kids arguing.

My uncle, who would be in his nineties now if he had lived. A man who I would trust with my life, anywhere any time. Came out one night and told us about when he was a kid, that he would come out to our spot in the orchard and lay on his back and watch the falling stars. He said that it was so quite when he was a kid that you could hear the falling stars pass overhead. He said that they made a very, very faint hissing, sizzling sound, that sounded like the old 4th of July sparklers that were made out of magnesium powder on a wire. The 4th of July was never over until every little kid had a third degree burn or two from them. And he said that some times you could hear a slight booming sound like far away thunder after a long time, that could have really been far of thunder but he liked to think that it was the falling stars. Remember, this was back before airplanes made sonic booms, so it was strange to connect the phenomenon. But he thought that it was related.

He was sure that the hissing sound came from the meteors because you could hear them go over. In my heart, I know that he actually heard them. Can you explain this to me? Or, have you heard a falling star on a quiet night. This is not a trick or a set-up, but an actual story that my uncle told, and as I said, I believe it with all my heart, but I've never been lucky enough to hear one.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Earth off its axis?

 I had a chance encounter with a friend today that led to a different discussion than we normally have. Normally we talk about history, Indian wars, or unique geology. He is a man that I respect for his knowledge and wisdom. So, I was taken a little bit aback when he asked me if I had noticed that the sun had started setting somewhat north of what is usually does. I said, “Well of course, we just passed the Summer Solstice, it sets way, way north this time of the year.” He explained that no, that is not what he meant, he knew all about the solstices and the equinoxes. So, he asked again, knowing that I grew up here, if I had noticed that the sun might be setting further north than it used to. He had heard a theory that the earth's axis was changing

I started searching my memory for some way to prove that the sun was setting in the exact same place. I remember thinking the other night that the sun was setting way north, but I had no frame of reference to decide if it was setting in the normal place or simple my imagination that it was further north.

So, my stomach tensed a little bit and I said: “Well if the earth had changed on its axis, we would be having major earthquakes, volcanoes, melting ice caps and strange weather patterns. My stomach tensed a little more as I thought about what I had just said. I stared to recall that we have been having all those changes. We even had snow in Tahoe today… at the end of June for crumb sakes.

I laughed a little nervously and told him, “Well I have an open mind, and you know me, I don’t believe in anything without absolute proof, so maybe I’m the wrong person to ask.”

About then we got interrupted and we went our separate ways. I spent the rest of the day thinking about what he had said, and what I could say that would set his mind at ease. I thought about the fact that Japan had just had a major earthquake, and that it had moved the island 8 feet, and supposedly moved the earth off it’s axis about 10 centimeters, which is about 4 inches in American. I pondered that 4” shouldn’t even be noticeable. I was somewhat comforted by the thought that at least somebody is checking it. Then my stomach did that thing again. I thought: “What if the axis has already been moving? And, the Japanese earthquake just moved it that much more!” Crap, that thought wasn’t that comforting.

I spent a little time wondering if the government would tell us if the earth was moving off its axis. Then I thought about all those science fiction movies where the President gets a very serious look on his face and says: “We can’t tell the people about this, it would cause panic and people would be jumping out of windows and stuff”. I always think, what the hell difference would it make to tell people if the world was going to end anyway? That, and the government would lie to us when the truth would serve better.

At my earliest convenience I decided to use my old fall-back. I Googled it. Well that wasn’t very reassuring! I found Article after article about the earth moving on it’s axis. Now, I know that there are things that can’t be hid. Like where the needle on a compass points. No comfort there, Magnetic North is moving wildly toward Russia. Moscow will probably be the Magnetic North Pole someday. Well at this point, I need a little reassurance, can anybody tell me that we are on the same axis? It sure feels like we are. But…..

I put some links, for you to follow, down below. You can spend hours clicking through them. I had the same thought as I had with the government. Why are they spending so much time warning us? The guy down town, that walks around with the big stick, (he calls it “A Staff”) will give you his prophesy if you ask. I always feel obligated to ask him. He says that the only thing that is saving us from major tidal waves in the Pacific Ocean is God is holding them back. I’m thinking tomorrow that I’m going to ask him about this axis thing. I’m getting a little nervous.
Did you look at them?

The star that all of the others are circling in this time exposure is the North Star. The center of the Earth's axis. Photo taken from Death Valley CA.

I will have to admit that my curious friend had me going for a bit, but all-that-I-am said, “the Earth hasn’t moved.” When I say “all that I am” I mean that I started out worrying about how EVERYTHING worked, even as a small child. No alarm clock or watch was safe from me. I ruined more clocks than any kid that I know. They ticked and kept time. I had to know how they did that! I just knew that the secret was inside, so I took them apart. Wow! Gears! One gear turns left, others turn right, big ones, little ones, the little one that tick-tocks back and forth. You have no idea how fascinating that was for me. When I “fixed” a few and made them run better I couldn’t understand way people were so upset that the clock now ran two or three hours fast every day. The Grumps!

I thought of a couple of dozen very scientific ways to prove that the axis hasn’t moved. But, science just doesn’t get you very far with some people. There are those that think that the moon landing was a fake. So I wracked my brain for a few easily understood solutions. So, here they are:

1- find a sundial that has been in the same place for a hundred years or so, and see if the shadow is still in the same place.
2- And this is my favorite, because it involves duct tape! Find the North Star. It’s right there where it always is. If you can’t find it have a smart friend show you where it is. Take a 6 foot length of plastic 4” sewer pipe. Have your smart friend hold the pipe beside a pole. Sight the north star through the pipe, then quick duct tape it to the pole so it stays in the exact same position. The north star will remain right there in the middle! On the axis, unless it has moved! Okay, it wobbles a little bit because it is not Perfectly north, but it’s so close that even your smart friend can’t tell.
3- Turn on your TV, if you see a picture, the satellites are still in alignment. It seems unlikely that they would change orbit just to accommodate the Earth’s new axis. Watching Sponge Bob Square Pants works the best.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Slippery Slope, or... Human Nature.

You know how I like to go on about reality. Things have to be pretty obvious before I trust in them. I know that not all things can be tangibles, it's just a lot easier for me to grasp when they are. So, I have a tendency to discount anything that appears to be a variable, like the way that people believe. Some people are of one religion, and some people are of another. Even though most people will claim that "there is only one God", they seem to bow to their God in different directions. When there is a different perception of what is real, I have a tendency to be suspicious. I usually fall back to my "hammer test". If it can be hit with a hammer it is real. If it can't be hit with a hammer it should be viewed with a healthy amount of suspicion.

A lot has been happening in the world lately that has me wondering "what the hell were they thinking".  Bloggers have a tendency to feed upon each others stories, I think that it's part of that "Slippery Slope" that we are all familiar with. A little bit of feeding on each others stories, or adding pertinent information in one's own blog is probably okay, but at some point copying other blogger's stories becomes plagiarism. Myself, I usually feel quite honored when somebody uses a quote, or part of a story that I have written. Usually it means that I've made some good points. But, when I'm using material from another bloggers story, I find myself on the precipice of that slippery slope, and I have to decide if I'm adding to a story or simply stealing it.    

Recently, Kym Kemp wrote about a lady in Fortuna,  So, I have to give Kym full credit for my mental meanderings here, although I'm not sure she wants the credit... She wrote about the lady that allegedly swindled people out of hundreds of thousands of hard earned dollars. Some people claim that the lady is really the salt of the Earth, and simply got caught on the down side of the cash flow and was unable to recover, others claim that she was cunning and conniving, and is the lowest form of swindler. It's always that line between what people believe and what is the truth, or in my case "reality" that causes me to wonder.

I wonder how people get so far over that slippery slope that they can never recover. In the beginning, does someone simply "misuse" somebody's money, just for a little bit? Then miracle of miracles, fortune comes their way, and they pay back the money before anybody even knows that it was missing. Maybe it works so well that they keep skating other people's money for their own benefit. Then one day they build such a huge house of cards that they are so completely dependant upon the economy improving that they have no other options. They are completely in over their heads, then the economy folds, disaster ensues and they keep shuffling money until they can no longer cover their debts, and everything comes tumbling down. Is that how Bernie Madoff got his start? When did he start dancing on the top of the slippery slope and then slip irretrievably over the edge.

The man that managed the Humboldt Creamery had a similar story. He was faking the creamery's inventory to make the business seem to be worth more. It seems like such a small thing as long as business is improving, and the income can eventually cover the fraud. Who would ever know? But, the business didn't do well enough to cover his fraud, he eventually confessed to his misdeeds and resigned. Later, to be fined millions of dollars and put in jail. What the heck was he thinking? Was it ego that made him want to appear to be a successful manager. He surely lost more than he ever stood to gain.

Is religion like that? Can the truly religious people go out and sin everyday? Then simply pray for forgiveness then start all over again with the sinning? I see a lot of that. What is it with human nature that keeps us on the edge of that slippery slope? We all temp fate. We eat too much hoping that we may not gain too much weight, but if we do we can always go on a diet... right? Then there is that car or house that we really can't afford, but our credit is good. If things keep improving we should pay everything off.. right?

I'm not saying that I'm perfect. Far from it. I'm skate at the top of that slippery slope all of the time. But, I'm ever-vigilant of where the edge is. I never want to find myself somewhere past the point of no return. I see too many stories in the newspapers about people that have been sucked over. Now, I think that I will go have the Hungry Man Special Breakfast... I will diet next week. Hopefully, before I have a heart attack.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Scotia, On the chopping block?

An old friend, and former Garberville resident, tipped me off to this article on Scotia California, The squeeky clean town that was run by the company mill, Pacific Lumber Company. Pacific Lumber logged their forests on a sustained yield, selective cut, non-clear-cut,  basis. Had their stock not been undervalued because they weren't cutting for maximum yield, they never would have been bought out, and there would still be an operating mill with a happy-family crew still working there.

Now the Pacific Lumber Company lays in ruin while the fat-cats that raped the forest,and destroyed the company, have cut and run with their millions of dollars, and Scotia is trying to decide how they might go on.
Old lumber town balks at independence
Scotia, Calif.'s latest owner, a hedge fund, is preparing to unload the town and is giving the 800 residents a choice between taking it over themselves or seeing it sold. But residents are used to not running the place.
By Alana Semuels, Los Angeles Times
6:54 PM PDT, June 24, 2011
Reporting from Scotia, Calif.

The Wall Street investors who own the last company town in California want to return it to the people.

Many of the people don't want it back. They like Scotia just fine the way it is — a North Coast paradise of pastel saltbox homes and lush lawns, where the company keeps everything spick-and-span and residents don't have to worry about budget deficits and zoning spats.

"People who live in town aren't political. They don't know about planning commissions and all that malarkey," said Mel Berti, who has tended the meat counter at the local grocery for 35 years. With independence, he said, "Who the heck knows what's going to happen?"

Scotia, 30 miles south of Eureka, was built in the 1880s by Pacific Lumber Co. to house the lumberjacks and mill workers who harvested the thick forests of this isolated region.

The town was named for the Nova Scotians who came here for work, and who reported for duty on the lumber company's whistle, bought groceries at the lumber company's store and lived in the lumber company's houses.

But the tree-cutting business, shrinking for decades, finally tanked as the housing boom petered out, and Pacific Lumber filed for bankruptcy protection in 2007. Its largest creditor, a hedge fund called Marathon Asset Management, obtained the town in bankruptcy proceedings.

Now, Marathon is preparing to unload Scotia and is giving the 800 residents a choice between taking the place over themselves or seeing it sold to the highest bidder.

On Aug. 30, voters will decide whether they want Scotia to become an independent community services district within Humboldt County. On the same ballot, they'll be asked to choose five board members to run the area. A majority "yes" vote is needed for Marathon to subdivide the 300-acre town and sell it off in parcels, and to ensure that there is a government to oversee sewage, fire protection and other public services.

If the nays prevail, Marathon says it will sell the town lock, stock and barrel, since Scotia cannot be subdivided without a governing body in place. Company executives say Scotia then could wind up in the hands of a movie studio, a religious sect or the developer of a retirement community.

If the entire town is sold, Scotians probably would have to leave the community where many of their families have lived for generations — especially if the collection of old, outdated homes doesn't fit into the new owners' plans.

That residents could balk at independence might seem surprising in light of the history of the company towns built near coal mines, textile mills and steel factories a century or more ago.

In that era, "company town" often meant corporate tyranny. Employees and their families were quartered in cheap company housing and were typically paid in scrip that could be redeemed only at the overpriced company store. At its worst, the system resembled medieval serfdom.

The labor movement and the automobile helped end many of the estimated 2,500 company towns across America. Some were abandoned, but many evolved into cities of their own.

Lowell, Mass., became a commuter suburb. Hershey, Pa., boasts an amusement park for chocolate lovers. Port Gamble, Wash., a timber town like Scotia, became a tourist destination.

William Stephens, 68, thinks Scotia can have the same happy fate. Stephens, a nurse practitioner who is a candidate for the board of the community services district, envisions a new, better Scotia, with a gas station and bike trails.

"I have zillions of ideas," he said. "This town has some real potential."

Pacific Lumber started converting Scotia into a community services district in 2003. It's taken eight years to jump through the necessary hoops, and all that remains now is the vote.

For many Scotians, the case for taking a private town public is no slam-dunk.

"It's going to change too much," said Jason Calkins, 21, who has lived in Scotia his whole life. His father — who claims to be the last baby born at the Scotia hospital — was once a lumber grader, evaluating the quality of the redwood logs that came through the mill.

Calkins' life in Scotia is simple now: It takes him just 30 seconds to walk from the blue gingerbread house he shares with his fiancee, Brandy Green, to the hardware store where he works, but he's not sure he wants to stick around.

It's not just the prospect of a takeover by a religious sect or movie studio that worries residents. It's the inescapable reality that there will no longer be a benefactor presiding over the town, keeping the workers happy and the ruffians out.

"They're going to let just anybody in," said Green, 19. "It used to be you could only get in if you know someone."

The town's quiet streets, surrounded by trees sheathed in layers of fog, feel frozen in a bygone era. Outside the small grocery store, a code of conduct instructs residents not to yell, sing, deface property or sit on trash receptacles, and reminds them that "loitering, delaying, lingering or remaining idle" are prohibited.

The mill whistle still goes off three times a day, at 7:30, noon, at 4:30. Marathon wanted to turn it off, but residents protested. Drivers keep their cars in converted stables because many of the houses were built before the automobile.

Lisa Baney, a voice-over artist for audio books, moved to Scotia from San Francisco in 2009 and was immediately struck by residents' passivity.

"People here are used to getting up and going to work every day when the first whistle blew, and letting the company tell them what to do," Baney said. "They've never had to confront the fact that they have civic responsibility. They've never had to grow up."

Indeed, residents seem used to having the lumber company making decisions for them. They wave at the maintenance men who deal with their plumbing problems and cheerily mow the lawns in the common areas. It's as if they've lived in a storybook world where people didn't have to nag their local government to fill potholes and maintain parks.

Many say they didn't even know there was a vote coming up.


Frank Bacik thinks he can persuade Scotians to take charge. As president of Town of Scotia Co., the Marathon subsidiary that runs the place, Bacik is responsible for taking Scotia public.

Bacik arouses the suspicion of some Scotia residents because he was general counsel for Pacific Lumber Co. through its painful bankruptcy. But the stout lawyer with a neatly trimmed white goatee exudes a childlike glee over the novelty of ushering a 19th century relic into the 21st century.

He's started putting signs throughout town: "Vote YES for an Independent Scotia," in red, white and blue. He pitches the transition as a way for the town to become re-energized.

"There are cities that had no reason for being, where weeds started growing in the streets," he said. "We have been spared that, but no one knows what will happen here."

To bring the town up to code, Marathon is spending $12.7 million on improvements, including an updated sewer system and insulation for the many houses that lacked it.

Bacik has sold the power plant and is looking for buyers for industrial lots and the Scotia Inn, a stately hotel with a bar and restaurant valued at $3 million. He's recruited outside businesses, including a water-bladder manufacturer and a brewing company, to diversify the economic base.

Residents will have the option of buying the town's 270 homes, which they now rent. Houses vary in size but come in only five colors; prices would probably start at around $180,000 for a 1,100-square-foot model. Bacik is seeking buyers for the shopping center, built from old-growth redwoods, that houses the grocery, hardware store and pharmacy.

Nine people have signed up to run for the five-member board of the community services district. They are both new residents and people who have lived in Scotia for generations — a cast that includes a onetime cowboy, former lumber company workers, a truck driver and a pharmacy technician.

"We're moving along towards independence," he says. "But to keep it as a town, it has to change."

That change is what's causing turmoil among native Scotians. They feel ambivalence about the future because they were treated so well by the lumber company in the past, said Hardy Green, a New York-based history professor and former journalist who wrote "The Company Town: The Industrial Edens and Satanic Mills That Shaped the American Economy."

In some company towns, goons assaulted union sympathizers, and private detectives infiltrated the ranks of labor. Scotia, by comparison, was a "pin-neat, saloon-free Shangri-La amid redwood forests," Green wrote.

"This was an amazing place," said lifelong resident J.J. Johansen, 30, as he guided his towheaded son through the vegetable aisle of the grocery store. "All the houses were nice, all the yards were nice, but now, people don't care as much. It's going downhill."

Ronda James, 49, feels the same nostalgia.

"They were so good to us. We were spoiled," she said. Her husband worked at the mill until he was laid off seven years ago; she used to rent a beauty salon in town until costs became too high.

Some new residents have brought drugs and wild parties, James says, and others just aren't friendly. Back in her childhood, families knew each other because they worked together at the mill.

But even utopias have to end, James said, sitting in her cheery kitchen as a light rain drizzled on the roof.

"What kind of real town can keep undesirables out?" she said. "You just can't."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

More Skippy treasure

From Skippy:

Your Own Treasure Hunt?Thank you, Ernie, olmanriver, Kym, Joel, Fred, Ben, Spyrock, Beachcomber, Oregon, Jonathon, charlie two crows, Anonymous, and all of you posting interesting discoveries. They were fascinating. May I offer an appreciation in return? Here's an easy Internet-Treasure-Hunting Adventure to have fun with-- for you, Ernie's readers, making it down this treasure thread so far.

It's called California's Unclaimed Property Fund. You might have heard of it. Think of it as a 'Lost and Found' for money gone awry due to mistakes, moving, wrong addresses... you name it. It's billions of dollars covering nearly 20% of our California residents. Fairly good odds, better than the lottery and easier than a metal detector. Searching is easy, fast, and fun. Try it, I think you'll like it.

But first, may I offer a few caveats and tips? I would kindly suggest reading this through, first, for your success and for some realistic expectations:

1. More often than most you won't find yourself listed; but you will find family, friends, neighbors, businesses, and acquaintances that you know listed.

2. Most of the amounts are small and insignificant; but 5-10% of them are very worthwhile for to pursue.

3. Put only a last name in the name box of the link, below, if you can. Leave the rest blank. I suggest only using a last name-- and leaving the other fields blank-- to broaden the search field. If it's a common last name try using a first initial, or a first name, and narrowing down the prospects below the 500 entries possible.

4. For additional searching fun, put in only a single letter as the last name, and the city. For example, "A", and the city-- say, "Phillipsville"-- and you'll bring up everyone listed in the locale starting with A; you can roll through the alphabet seeing who you might know.

5. If you come across a 'hit', click on the blue property ID numbers to the right of the listing. If the amount is worthwhile to claim, follow the instructions.

6. If you come across someone you know and like-- and the amount is worthwhile to pursue-- please let them know. It's a courtesy, a kindness, and a Santa Claus sort of thing. They usually don't know it exists; that's why their listings made it to the State's Lost and Found in the first place. If you don't let them know, chances are no one will. They'll usually be appreciative and thankful.

Good. You're set to go. Thank you for your patience so far. Here's the State's Unclaimed Property link to begin your search:

California State Controller's Site for Unclaimed Property

Don't forget to search business names, too. Yours truly found $6k for his wife's place; $7k for the vet; more for others. Some under different spellings, addresses, name variations or other errors.. Others, in plain view. Oh, and while Mr. Schwarzenegger only has a listing for 15 cents... he may want to claim it to remove his personal address from view.

...skippy has helped 150 folks find $350,000 so far. They've been very surprised, pleased, and satisfied overall. There are far too many listings for yours truly to possibly even begin to locate. Maybe you can help?

You, your friends, and Ernie's readers are next. Give it a try. It's as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. You might find hours of enjoyment searching. Feel free to pass this on to others-- and send them to Ernie's Place here for the link, won't you? Let us know if this pans out for you-- like the gold in Ernie's photograph.

--Happy hunting, good luck, and wishing you more adventure and fun for you and yours this Humboldt summer.


As you know, I’ve found hundreds of dollars on that web-site. Most of it was from an insurance company that flaked on me. I have not as yet gone to the effort to apply for it. I hope that there is no statute of limitations, or the state doesn’t decide to steal it as unclaimed property.


Heat wave

Summer came right on cue. The temperature soared into the 90's on the 21st of June, the summer Solstice. I'm going to be busy for the next few days, so I'll be checking in less often but I will be here. I liked Skippy's post on found treasure, it was fun. Garberville had a parade last Saturday, but I don't have any pictures yet. The parade was one of the best that we have had in a long time. The Blue Room, Gary Futrel, Twango Macallen, and a few others had a rolling Honky-Tonk saloon scene and band goin, on. I didn't get to see the whole parade because I was with the Fire Department.

Well,,, I gotta' get busy...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Country Wisdom. Horse sense?

Maybe I'm wrong, there always needs to be a first time, but maybe I'm right, I think country people may not be smarter than city people, but they are a hell of a lot wiser. Yes, I'm picking a fight, as long as it's a fair fight. If you want to tell a story about wisdom that you've seen, it's okay, but you have to tell us about it. It's okay to point out why you think city people might be wiser if you want, I'm all ears, as they say. What made me think of this is my cousin Oregon explaining why somebody only found broken dishes in the dump sight. It just seemed reasonable to him that "I figure they only threw out the broken china." Now to a country person, that just makes plain old ordinary horse sense.

Granted, it’s been a while, but when I worked in the woods, sometimes we were so anxious to get to work on time that we would leave to work without enough gas to get home. When you work on a crew, you had to be to work on time so as not to hold other people up. There was a saying on our crew that, "If you show up to work on time, you are already late". It was imperative that you be to work, before starting time. Then we were stuck with figuring out how to get home. A lot of times we would mix all of the chain saw gas, a little bit of diesel, and siphon the gas out of the Cat starting engines to get home. Now that's what I call "wisdom". Then, the next morning we had to be to work early enough to replace all the fuel before starting time.

Now, Just to show you how wise I really am, I already know what you're thinkin'... You're thinkin' that a city person would have been smart enough to put gas in his tank. That's probably true, but, that's where the ol' country wisdom really kicks in. The city guy would have been smart enough to get gas in his tank, he would have apologized to his girlfriend, left her standin’ on the dance floor with her motor already runnin', and he would have gone to the gas station to get gas for morning, then he would have gone home and got a good nights sleep.

To me that's just plain stupid. When I worked in the woods, I would hang out on the dance floor, and dance my girl around the pool table until she wanted to go home. My wisdom tells me that you already know where this story goin’ from here, so I’ll spare a few details. The short version is I would already be awake (still) when it was time to go to work in the morning. I already knew that I had enough gas to get to work, so I would figure how to work out the details on how to get home… later. One option would be to ride with somebody else, but that would put a person on somebody else’s schedule. The number one rule of a country person is “never let anybody else run your schedule”.

I always got to work on time when I worked on a crew. I’ve seen people that thought that they could show up late and get away with it. The bull-buck didn’t even have to fire him. The crew would run him off. It’s a pretty humiliating thing to be run off by a logging crew. You would have to be a pretty valuable employee with a darn good excuse to get by without being run off for being late. A logging crew’s language can melt the bark off trees. There is no word that doesn’t get used. The logger language includes good hearted racism, sexism, homophobia, hog swill, and then really rough language. I know the city folks would say that some of that kind of cussin’ goes too far. The loggers liked criticism, when that happened, it was an opportunity to fight. Don’t get me wrong, the reason that I say that their cussin’ was “good hearted” is that they would fight FOR anybody if somebody was being unfair to them, no matter what race, creed, color, or sex. To quote a logger friend of mine, for an example. “My friends call me “Fat Boy” but you shouldn’t try it.” It was kind of a cliquish group. You were either IN or OUT, but you got a fair chance.

Wisdom: When I was young and dumb. I always thought that I could work hard enough to impress the old guys. In the winter time, a lot of the guys that worked in the woods would make redwood split-stuff, like rails, boards and posts. You always stacked the work as you made it. At the end of the day, you tallied your work. No matter how hard I worked, the old guys would always beat me. The kicker is, they didn’t work that hard.

One of the old timers said; “You know what your problem is Ernie? You’re dumb”. Now, you city-slickers would probably be insulted if somebody said that to you. But in the woods, you know that an Old-timer is about to spill his beans. My reply was: "You wouldn’t say something like that unless you intended to prove it, what makes you think that I’m ‘Dumb‘- asshole.” That’s woods talk. It’s strategy to get the old timer to spill his guts. By calling him “asshole” he knows that I respected him a lot, because I wouldn’t call him "asshole" unless I respected him. Because, he would kick my butt if he even half-way thought I was serious. So, then he knew that I  respect him, and that I had just challenged him to “Put-up, or shut up”. He goes on to say. "You just gotta’ be smarter than a board to make more rails.” He went on to show me how to "push my split". When splitting boards into 2x2 rails, the work always had to be divided evenly to get the rail to split down the middle. If the split is not exactly divided in the middle it will run out to the weak, or narrow side. To split a six inch board into 2x2 rails works out that you have one narrow side. One 2" side and one 4" side. He showed me how to "fool a board into thinking it was a two by eight". You stick the board into the crotch of a tree and bend the board to the fat side while pulling the 2'x2' off the narrow side. To steer the slit you just lean heavier onto the board and the split will follow the pressure. It's easier to show you than explain it, but it works. You can steer perfect splits every time. Before that, I was loosing a 2" inch rail on every odd size split, because it would run out on me and be ruined. I had to throw it on the burn pile.

The Old-Timer explained to me that he didn't give a damn that I wasn't making better money. He said that he was tired of watching me ruin good redwood. Some people are hard to read, but I think that he liked me. It seems that I've learned everything that I know the hard way, but I had a lot of good people break the trail for me. I did notice that they still out-split me. I finally figured out that they could "read a log" and tell how good it was going to split before they ever chose it. They explained to me that some things you just have to know. That there is no way that you can be smart enough to know a good log, that's wisdom that comes with experience.

I've run into more country wisdom than most people because I've been around a lot of the wise Old-Timers. I can almost always coax a story or two out of them because I listen to everything that they have to say. That's a little of MY wisdom.

I'm open to any stories that you might have about city or country wisdom. This is your chance to defend your honor.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Skippy Question

Skippy said:
Ernie, this is an aside to the philosopherings here.

I'd be curious to know from you and your readers, what's the most interesting thing you've ever discovered or found? You've discussed treasure, the Shelter Cove and King's Peak stories, the Brother Jonathan, fossils and arrowheads, but surely you-- or readers-- have your own interesting finds? Here's some examples.

I remember an out-of-work father restoring old pianos on the side so his family could get by. He found $2,000 inside one of his player pianos: 1930 era bills in a brown paper bag stashed underneath the hood. That came in handy.

Years ago, a Eureka watch and clock repair business, The Oldtimer, showed me his unusual find of the day: an 1848 Scottish will, elaborately written on a sheepskin parchment with a wax seal stamping, found behind the old grandfather clock he was tinkering on. "That's not unusual, clocks were a common place that everyone hid their stuff in," he said, "as well as in Prince Albert cans on strings lowered in walls behind the light sockets, down gas tanks of junked cars, or behind a removable stone of an outside wall. Usually the hiding place is where the keeper can keep an eye on it from the master bedroom," he said.

A friend dug up a rotting leather pouch holding silver coins from the early 1900s on his California Street property, encased in rhododendron roots. Another found two silver dollars at Sequoia Park using his metal detector. Our local thrift stores have their own stories of money rolls and jewelry 'left forgotten in the pockets of donated clothing all the time.' While not truly treasure, another friend found a large, handmade brass ring hanging to a rotting fence post of an Arcata pasture. "It was used in oxen's noses," he said, that being the most likely and interesting of all answers to believe. An acquaintance restoring an old oak desk bought from a hotel discovered-- to his horror-- a long-lost suicide note stuck inside giving him both the willies and the heebie-jeebies. Of course, Petrolia residents still remember marijuana bales washing up onto the beach one day in the mid 70s.

Beyond the normal clay marbles, glass bottles, and an occasional rusty object like railroad nails and horseshoes, has yours truly discovered anything interesting? One day was a spectacular one in memory, Ernie. While digging a garden, I hit something hard, solid, and deep with the shovel. Whatever it was, it wouldn't budge and nearly crimped the shovel. A careful excavation revealed a seriously large and heavy ingot buried several feet in the ground. Brought to the surface, it was shiny and silver colored, encrusted with dirt, shaped like a brick with curved edges, and weighing several pounds. Yahoo! I couldn't believe it. Skippy hit the mother lode: a silver ingot! Skip's heart stopped knowing his ship had finally come in.

But those visions of sugarplum fairies soon faded. Cleaned off and examined more closely, it certainlywas an ingot all right... but it was a lead ingot. A wiser and older gentleman explained these things were commonly used for the soldering of plumbing pipes; apparently workmen discarded it after finishing their building project long ago. Sigh. So close and yet so far. Skippy kept his day job.

Ernie, perhaps you, readers, Charlie 2 crows, Oregon, olmanriver-- even Suzy Blah Blah!--have their own treasure story or discovery to tell? I bet so. Just a thought for some future summertime musings.

(sorry so long and off-topic here; my e-mail isn't working to send this to you otherwise.)
Skippy, It sounds like a lot of fun, but I can't help but think that you are not going to find too many valuable finds out there. The most "treasures" that I have found have been things like old horseshoes or a hand forged gate hinge. I used to work for a guy that had a second-hand goods store. He went to the auction yard every week thinking that he was going to run across some undiscovered treasure. Sometimes he would find something a little bit unique, something that he could maybe make some money on, but in most all cases he ended up paying too much for the item, and then his wife would fall in love with it and take it home. He mostly lost his butt. 
You might believe this if you knew me better, but my biggest treasure is a well told history tale. It doesn't have to be a true story, because the legends that rise out of stories handed down from generation to generation are going to have a direction of their own, and soon get bigger than life itself. Some of the stories that I treasure the most are stories that I can only pass on to my family or a very trusted friend. I know stories about family history that explains why some families don't exactly look like the rest of the family. Stories that the family itself doesn't know. I know stories about historical happenings that the descendants don't want to be known, nor do I blame them, the descendants of the perceived miscreants are not treated very well even though they are not to blame themselves. People can be vicious. Somehow they feel that it is fair to judge people by today's standards. 
The really good stories are the ones that have many different versions. I always like a good story, and I very much encourage people to tell me their stories. I prefer to talk to the teller of the story, just between the two of us, because in my experience anybody else will always interrupt with an opinion or their version of the "truth". I hate that! Sometimes the version that I'm hearing the latest has a better ring of truth than the twice told tale. I've learned a lot being a good listener. sometimes when I'm being sceptical inside, some piece of the tale will come around with a ring of truth that I would have never gotten if I had interrupted. Even when I know that the story that I'm hearing can't be true, they can be darn fine stories.

So, if anybody's willing, they can tell us about the best treasure that they have ever found. In lieu of that tell me your best tall tale... But remember, the truth doesn't have to count, unless you want it to.

Found in creek by an Ernie's Place commenter

Philosophical Phoolishness

Okay, this is going to be one of those posts that is totally not worth reading because it’s not going to cure anything or fix any world problems. I’ve always thought if I just applied myself and tried a little harder that I would be able to not only figure out what’s wrong with the world, but I would be able to point out how to fix it. A very wise person once told me that I should never complain about anything unless I was going to offer a working solution as how to fix it. That has always kept me remarkable quiet.

Another thing that I was told by this very wise person was, not to ever say or do anything that I wasn’t willing to sign my name to. That’s always been a little easier for me, because I always give my best. I know full well that other people can do better than me, but I always try to give my best, and I’m willing to own up to the things that I do. So, people that do and say mean things, and sign their name as “Anonymous” always kind of makes me wonder who would do a thing like that. I know, I know… there are “good anonymouses” (Anonymice?) but they seem to be few and far between, and they also seem to be completely overpowered by the meanies.

Where’s this going… Oh yeah, I was going to solve the worlds problems. The way that I see it is that human nature is the worlds biggest problem. Some would say that over-population is the world’s most major problem, but if you scratch down to the bottom of it, you will find that it is “human nature” that requires babies. So, I’ve figured it out for you. That’s my first recommendation is to stop having babies. If you're not going to stop having babies, the world problems are only going to get worse.

The other thing that I see wrong with the world is people that want to run other peoples lives. You find a lot of that in religion. There are religions in the world that teaches that if you draw a picture of Mohamed, they will have to kill you. The reasoning is that Mohamed is so perfect that no image of him could even come close to who he is, so, if you draw a picture, they have to kill you. That kind of makes sense if it were true. I'm not saying that it is not true, you understand, but you won't see me trying to draw any pictures of him.

Then there are the people that try to save you, whether you want to be saved or not. I really don't get that. I go way out of my way to leave people alone, yet some people follow you around like flies on Buttermilk trying to save you. I really don't get that at all. It's like they have to "save" at least ten souls or they don't get to go to heaven. I'm not really sure why they want to save me. If they really knew me they might not like me. Why would they want somebody they didn't like up there in heaven with them? Go figur'.

There is a guy that walks around town with a large walking stick. He will give you his prophesy if you ask. That is my kind of guy. If you want to be saved, you have to ask him for it. Apparently he works directly under God, and God tells him what's going on. It's a nice arrangement. It seems that God is holding back great tidal waves in the Pacific Ocean until enough people start praying for forgiveness. Then God's going to kill the rest of us with a tidal wave. Religion is soooo cheerful. My only problem is, I can't believe in anything unless I know it's real, I lack that faith thing. Now if God shows up, I can hit his big toe with a my Hammer. If he yells OUCH! I will be come an instant believer, I will pray like crazy, then I will get to go to heaven with the rest of the Godly devote, because it says right in the Holy Book (Depending on which Holy Book you read) that God has to take you into heaven if you pray hard enough. Believe me, if I hit God on the big toe with a hammer, and he yelled ouch, I would be the most sincere praying person on Earth.

Now this global warming thing... Why do we care if we over-populate the earth if its going to die anyway? Global warming has been happening for the last 220,000 years. If you haven't noticed, you simply haven't been paying attention! So, global warming is going to kill us. It's only been it the last 10 or 15 years that people have gotten extremely rich predicting that the sky is falling, before that, there was very little money in it. In fact, Chicken Little died a pauper's death, he is in an unmarked grave, nobody even knows where he is buried. But, Al Gore? Everybody knows about him, he is practically the modern day Messiah. If anybody is going to be able to save us, it will be Al Gore. Shouldn't we be praying directly to him, or should we still go through God with our prayers as a common courtesy. I believe in courtesy.

Let's see, what have I left out? Oh yeah, Earthquakes and Volcanoes... Crap, some of this stuff gets to scary to contemplate. Back in 1906, "The Great San Francisco Earthquake" fractured the San Andreas fault from The Triple Junction off of Petrolia to San Juan Bautista. That’s a three hundred mile long fracture folks. The little village of Branscomb California sits just a few miles east of the San Andreas fault. My grandmother Ruby (Middleton) Branscomb was almost killed by a falling fireplace at a cabin on the headwaters of the South Fork of the Eel River on April 18th 1906 at 5:12 AM. I understand that the earthquake shook a lot harder at the north end than it did in San Francisco. The quake shook so hard that they felt it in Nevada. It knocked over redwood trees in Branscomb. Rightfully, the quake should have been known as the “Great Branscomb Earthquake”, that shook so hard that it knocked down the city of San Francisco 200 miles away! I know how Chicken Little felt, he was the one that predicted that the sky was falling, and Al Gore stole his thunder. Well san Francisco stole our earthquake!

Uninhabitable area of Yellowstone Eruption
 Volcanoes… Urgh… These are just to scary to talk about. The ground around Yellowstone is starting to tip up, the lakes are moving to the side. They say that if Yellowstone blows that it’s going to remove, or inundate, or make uninhabitable, 2/3 of the United States. Can you say...  TEN THOUSAND times the size of Mount Saint Helens!? The good news is the coast of Northern California should be in the safe zone…. If the wind is blowing in the right direction. Pray to Al Gore that the wind is right the day that Yellowstone blows. More good news is it will stop the illigal imigration out of Mexico. The ground has been lifting at an ever rapidly moving rate. I changed my mind, I don’t want to even talk about volcanoes.

This has already gone on too long. So, I’m going to stop here and post this. Can you see it?


Monday, June 13, 2011

Charlie Two Crows asked for Hasenfeffer (sour Rabbit Stew Recipe)

Here you go Charlie.

2 3/4 cups red wine vinegar
3 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
8 whole cloves
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
5 stalks celery, chopped
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pickling spice
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 (2 1/2 pound) rabbit, cleaned and cut into pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1.In a large pot, combine the water, white sugar, whole cloves, onion, celery, lemon, cinnamon, ground cloves, salt, pickling spice and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn off and allow to cool. Place the rabbit pieces into the mixture to marinate. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spread flour out onto a parchment or aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the flour is a light brown color.
3.Remove the rabbit from the marinade and pat dry. Strain the marinade, and discard the solids. Reserve the liquid for later.
4.Heat the oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Coat the chicken with the toasted flour. Place into the hot oil, and cook until browned on both sides. Remove from the pan, and set aside. If there is oil left in the pan, sprinkle enough of the toasted flour over it to absorb the liquid.
5.In a jar with a lid, mix 1/2 cup of the marinade with 1/4 cup of the remaining toasted flour. Close the lid, and shake vigorously until well blended with no lumps. Heat the pan with the rabbit drippings over low heat. Gradually stir in the marinade mixture, stirring constantly until slightly thickened.
6.Return the rabbit pieces to the pan. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour, or until the meat is falling off of the bones. You may remove the bones prior to serving if desired.

That sounds a little complicated for camping. What you might want to do if you want a delicious camp rabbit, is use the following recipe:

First take a 357 magnum pistol, strap it to your hip, set a 30-06 rifle within arms reach, because every bear within 60 miles will head your way when the rabbit starts cooking.

Kill a rabbit, skin and dress it, soak it in the creek to cool it. When it's cool, after about an hour, pat it dry. Mix up 2 cups of sautern wine, the juice of one lemon, and a half cup of vegetable oil. Clean about five cloves of garlic, slice about 1/8 inch thick throw in the mix, add a little salt @1 tsp, add 1/4 tsp pepper. Put all the ingredients in a large zip lock bag. Keep it as cool as you can, or put everything back in the creek. A little before dinner time. Open the zip-lock, pour the juice off the rabbit into a pot. Place the pot over the fire and simmer until the garlic is tender, add a half cube of butter to the mixture and return to a simmer. Place your rabbit on an open grill over the fire, or put it on a spit. Turn the rabbit often and baste it often with the butter wine sauce. Use Kosher salt, pepper, and garlic powder to season while basting often and cooking. Cook slowly until very well done.

Look around for bears, then have dinner. Use the little bits of garlic in the wine sauce for snacks. If there is any Sautern wine left in the bottle, drink that too.

This recipe also works good for Quail, Chicken, and Grey Squirrel. Another good tip is, this recipe works good for hunting bears, they come to you and you don't have to fool around with those darn yodeling hound dogs.

Lepus Californicus, (California Jack Rabbit, or Black-Tailed Rabbit)
(Bunnius Pissedofficus?)

Now that's a Jackrabbit

Friday, June 10, 2011

Harley Week... end

I checked the fine print, she is wearing a thong. You didn't think
that I would post anything indecent, did you???
Photo from Google images.
There is The Harley Run this weekend. I’m not really sure how big that it will be, or how organized it is. It is being held at Keith Bowman’s county line ranch. It seems like there is a lot of motorcycles in town. Not as many as usual, but a steady flow of them. All of the bars and restaurants are full, so I guess that if they are full, it can’t get much better for the Townies. Full is full.

The Kiwanis is running it this year. Doug Macaulay is taking a break. So it’s kinda’ gone full circle, Kiwanis started it and it slowly moved into private hands, now it’s back to the Kiwanis. They are still calling it “The Redwood Run” I’m not sure who owns the name. But I hope everything works out well for everybody.

It’s cold and windy here this year, pretty typical weather for the run actually. I bet it’s miserable at night if you don’t have good accommodations. Myself, I have a nice warm bed, in a nice warm house, far far away from Harley motors.

I saw my favorite bumper sticker that I’ve seen lately, on a nice super-quiet Harley dresser. It said “Good horns save lives, loud pipes make you deaf”. I had a friend that ran chainsaws all his life. He talked so loud that you tell if he was in town, because you could hear him talking from just about anywhere. I had breakfast at the Eel River Café this morning. Myself and the person that I was there with were the only people in there that wasn’t a Harley rider.  The voices were a small din, you couldn’t hear yourself think. Everybody was yelling at the top of their lungs. It occurred to me that most of them were probably deaf.

I haven’t heard of any accidents this year, but they just changed most of the frequencies that we use for Fire/Rescue and ambulance, so I’m not sure if there has been any and I haven’t picked up on them.

I’ve seen a few of those “Boss Hogs” that have the Chevy v-8’s in them. They sound strange going by. They sound like a truck. I keep looking for the truck and all that I see is a motorcycle. It’s very incongruous. I can’t believe that they are very much fun to ride. They look too heavy and too powerful to do anything but draw attention. I can’t believe that a biker might be seeking attention, can you?

Anyway it looks like fun. A few of the booths that I saw in town showed up late and unprepared. Mostly the booths didn’t work and they had to start from scratch. My friends “Twango Macallen” were invited to set up a band down town. The town group, Chamber of Commerce(?) provided a nice flat bed trailer as a stage, at a good location on the North end of town. But, their electrical plug-in didn’t work because everybody had already plugged into it, and it blew the fuse, so nobody had electricity. But of course, the guy that owned the breaker that was tripped had gone home for the weekend. The food booths wisely got a generator. Poor Twango was left with-out electricity. I walked by as they were lamented their ill fate. We spied an electrical box that used to go to a phone booth. I took the cover off and Gee-Wizz there was electricity in it. I put an electrical outlet on it and the band played on… I hope the guy paying for the electricity doesn't mind, they are playing real good music.

More as time and circumstance permit

Monday, June 6, 2011

Big Doe

Click Photo to enlarge
This doe has had triplets the last two years. One of the fawns died each year and she only raised two. Year before last the fawn died in the orchard across from my house. last year I never found it. This year she is big enough to have another set of triplets.

I haven't made any scientific study of this doe, so it may be different one each year and I may be mistaking another doe's fawn for hers. But, she is larger than the other deer in the valley so she stands out.

She was eating my wife's flowers, so I sneaked out the front door onto the deck to get a picture, but she was smarter than me and took off.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Scotch Broom

Click any photo to enlarge

Red Broom with yellow in background
You know how I go on about those “newcomers”. How they wiggle their way in and take over. How they displace the natives.  How they become an invasive species. But dang, some of them can be so darn beautiful. Some can be real heart-breakers. You know, like Scotch Broom.

 I made a trip to Whitethorn today, that’s a place that used to be called just plain “Thorn” before it was renamed. But that’s another story, for another day. Today I couldn’t help but notice the great abundance of abundantly flowering Scotch Broom. The broom in Whitethorn blooms in a wide variety of shades of yellow and red. Some can be so pale yellow that they are almost white, then others can be almost completely red. The rain this spring has made for a great blossom year, so the various shades are most noticeable.

My Great Grandmother Laura Middleton used to live at Usal and Rockport. Her husband, my great Grandfather, Lafayette Middleton ran a redwood slit-stuff camp. After he died, Laura moved to Laytonville to be next to my Grandmother Ruby Branscomb, (her Daughter) she brought most of her yard plants with her.

The most memorable yard plants, to me, was some Opium Poppies. Grandma Middleton told me that the Chinese road workers had brought them from China. I’m not sure where they are actually from, probably not China, but they were very beautiful red poppies. She said the Chinese road workers would cut them, bleed the sap, dry it and smoke it. She grew the poppies because they were beautiful.

Some other things that she brought with her were some Lilac Bushes that she kept beautifully trimmed and neat. Plants were hard to come by back in the early 1900’s they weren’t any nurseries around. You had to get plant starts from your neighbors, or get things from other local people like Albert Etter. Grandma Ruby always called her strawberries “Etters Strawberries”. She was quite proud of them. They were very sweet strawberries, not like the ones that you buy today that need sugar.

The other memorable plant that my Great Grandma had was a Scotch Broom. It’s kind of funny, today the scotch broom is a noxious weed, But to my Grandma Laura they were one of the most precious and beautiful plants in her yard. She always kept it neatly trimmed and clean around the base. She told me that it was from Europe, and very hard to come by, fortunately they grew well here, and they were quite easy to propagate. Apparently, the early European settlers brought some of their plants and animals with them to keep them from missing their homes so badly. I think that probably bringing the plants was one of the few ways that the early men could get their wives to come with them. Today, they pay people to weed Scotch Broom out, because they have a tendency to choke out evergreen trees that are used for lumber. The Scotch Broom costs the forest industry millions of dollars.

Sorry, but this invasive plant  is one that I find to be very pretty, and I hope that they never learn how to get rid of it. The other invasive plant that I hope they never figure out how to get rid of is the Himalaya Blackberry. Yum!

The following is Scotch Broom: