Friday, December 28, 2012

38 elementary school children and 6 adults killed in Bath Michigan school.

I was looking to verify that the number one murder weapon in the United States is the common baseball bat, number two is a knife. I was not able to verify those two items as fact. I'm also not sure where bombs fit in as a murder weapon. As you probably know, I get easily distracted, so that is probably why I got hung-up on the following article.

Article from Wikipedia:
The Bath School disaster is the historical name of the violent attacks perpetrated by Andrew Kehoe on May 18, 1927 in Bath Township, Michigan that killed 38 elementary school children and six adults, and injured at least 58 other people. Kehoe first killed his wife, fire-bombed his farm and set off a major explosion in the Bath Consolidated School, before committing suicide by detonating a final explosion in his truck. It is the deadliest mass murder in a school in United States history.

Andrew Kehoe, the 55 year old school board treasurer, was angry after his defeat in the Spring 1926 election for township clerk. He was thought to have planned his "murderous revenge" after that public defeat and he had a reputation for difficulty on the school board and in personal dealings. In addition, in June 1926 he was notified that his mortgage was going to be foreclosed. For much of the next year, a neighbor noticed Kehoe had stopped working on his farm and thought he might be planning suicide. During that period, Kehoe purchased explosives and discreetly planted them on his property and under the school.

Kehoe's wife was ill with tuberculosis, and he had stopped making mortgage payments; he was under pressure for foreclosure. Some time between May 16 and the morning of May 18, 1927, Kehoe murdered his wife by hitting her on the head with a blunt object. On the morning of May 18 at about 8:45 a.m., he set off various incendiary devices on his homestead that caused the house and other farm buildings to be destroyed by the explosives' blast and subsequent fires.

Almost simultaneously, an explosion devastated the north wing of the school building, killing many schoolchildren. Kehoe had used a timed detonator to ignite dynamite and hundreds of pounds of incendiary pyrotol, which he had secretly planted inside the school over the course of many months. As rescuers gathered at the school, Kehoe drove up, stopped, and used a rifle to detonate dynamite inside his shrapnel-filled truck, killing himself, the school superintendent, and several others nearby, as well as injuring more bystanders. During rescue efforts at the school, searchers discovered an additional 500 pounds (230 kg) of unexploded dynamite and pyrotol connected to a timing device set for the same time as the first explosions; the material was hidden throughout the basement of the south wing. Kehoe had apparently intended to blow up and destroy the entire school. 

 Well... A gun was used in this story, but only to set off another bomb. The common denominator of all the violence and murder is the perpetrators mental condition. We need to spend more time ferreting out and dealing with mental instability.   There was also a school attack in China where a man used a knife. He killed or injured 22 kids.

For what it's worth....

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gun control?

    All people of any compassion what-so-ever are suffering over the latest insane shooting of innocent people and especially innocent children, infants really, at Sandy Hook School. What possible motive could there be to kill an innocent child? As we anguish, we look for solutions and ways to prevent these kinds of tragedies in the future. It occurs to us that the massacres were committed with guns. The simple solution to the problem is to ban guns right? What a wonderful world it would be if there were no guns. Students of history know that there was no violence back before there were guns. Nobody had a gun, so there was no such thing as murder or mayhem. No killing, no murder, no rape, and especially no massacres. You would need an automatic weapon to commit a massacre, right? Of course I'm being facetious. I'm trying to be a bit ridiculous to get you to see my point with an open mind.

    To me, any attempt at gun control is a bit ridiculous. I have really done a lot of thinking about this so don't stop reading now, you might like my conclusion.

    I believe that we all know the the problem is insane people, people that act out their insane philosophies. They somehow think that what they are doing will make themselves important in history, or in someway teach someone an important lesson. There is no rational thought in their heads. They develop a plan and implement that plan with a fierce sense of purpose. Their weapon of choice has little to do with their fuzzy thinking.
    The Unibomber used bombs to deliver his message. Osama Bin Laden used large passenger jets. Timmy Mcvey used a truck load of fertilizer. Jim Jones used poisoned cool-aide to commit his massacre; that and a heavy dose of religion. Religion is a whole different category of weapon, untold rape and murder have been implemented by religion. I'm not saying ALL religion is bad, but I'm sure you get my point. If guns were banned the insane would find a way. Think of all the murders that happen in prisons. The murders that happen in prison are made from the simplest of hand made weapons. The insane really don't need guns.

    I was raised with guns, so I have no reasonable fear of them. I have always thought of a gun as a tool. I enjoy games of shooting skill like target shooting. We had many guns on the ranch that I was raised on as a child. I was raised on all of the gun safety rules and how to handle them. We were taught that "a gun is always loaded". We knew that was not literally the case, but a good practice. If you always thought of a gun as being loaded you would not be tempted to point it at anyone or pull the trigger. You could never be sure whether someone else had used the gun and left in loaded. "Gunpowder and alcohol don't mix", basically means that if you've been drinking, you should not use a gun. You never chamber a round of ammunition while heading to your hunting ground. After you are on the hunting ground, you chamber a round then leave your safety on, and your finger off the trigger. You only took the safety off when you had a target, you only placed your finger on the trigger when you wanted to shoot. You never handed anyone a loaded gun, you always cleared it first. When somebody handed you a gun you always made sure that it was clear of ammunition. I could go on about gun safety lore that all of us kids were raised with.

 A gun was simply another tool that you had to handle safely. There were safety rules for axes, buzz-saws, slopping the hogs, being around dangerous cattle. I could go on but I hope that you get my point.

Now for the reason that I made this post. Somehow there are people out there that think that this would be a safer world with gun laws. I can think of many circumstances that I would need a gun to protect myself, my property or my family. If our government should become corrupt, I think that owning a fully automatic weapon would be a good idea. If the Jews that were massacred in Germany had weapons they might have been harder to round up and haul off. Remember ,Hitler was an elected official. Elected in much the same fashion that we elect our leaders. I know, again that is far fetched reasoning, until you remember that Hitler's party killed five million plus innocent men women and children. Do you think that they could have succeeded against a well armed militia? We never know what tomorrow might bring us.

Or, what would happen if we have complete economic collapse. I won't outline any scenarios for you, I might scare myself along with you.

So, I want reasonable, sane, people to have guns and be well armed. I DON"T want insane people, nor criminals to have any kind of weapon. Not even a spit-wad. That has not been working out well for me. The government that we depend on to take care of us seems to be failing to take care of the insane and keep them safe and away from the rest of society's innocent people. We see far too many insane massacres. Most of them were by well know mental cases with documented mental problems and drug use, both prescription and illegal drugs.

The thing that I fear most, is that the domino theory will apply and they will ban assault weapons, then all semi-automatic weapons, then hand guns, then rifles and shotguns. Soon we will be a gun less society, where criminals will have guns, because, remember, they are criminals. We will be defenceless, they will walk into our houses with impunity. Don't say that won't happen, because just down the street from me a house was robbed at gunpoint. The man was shot in the head, but survived. So, home invasions are already happening. I know of at least two families where the thugs broke into the wrong house. I also know that most everyone in Humboldt County knows someone whose house has been invaded.

So, my final thought is about gun laws. If the people think that passing laws against guns will solve a problem they are sorely mistaken. No cop wants to be in charge of taking weapons away from people. There are far too many weapons out there, and far too few jails to fill with gun law violators. It won't work. But... go ahead, put your foolish laws on the books, and see what good it does. I won't even say I told you so.... I promise. I might even vote for it, just to hide and watch what happens.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Laytonville sawmills of the '50s

We have had a small discussion about a sawmill located north-west of the new Laytonville high school. Ross Sherburn identified it as the Sulphur Creek Lumber Company. I remember the mill operating before the '55 flood, but I believe that the '55 flood either took it out or damaged it heavily. According to Ross' mill history book, the mill closed in '56. Maybe they rebuilt and struggled to survive after the flood but failed. The times were tough for sawmills back then, especially mills that had problems, and there is no problem like a flood. Most of the sawmills were built near creeks or water because they needed water for their log ponds. A lot of sawmills were lost in the floods because of that fact.

 Trying to find the name of this mill caused me to wonder about other mills that were scattered about the valley. There were three other mills around the lake. There was the Jack Crawford mill, the Sherburn-Ford mill owned by Ross' dad, Shine Sherburn, and Frank ford. There was the Lakeside Lumber Company, that was built right on the lake. They even used the natural lake as a log pond. I'm not sure how they handled all the flooding. I think that they were high enough that the mills weren't bothered that much, but I really don't know.

 On out the Branscomb road, four or five miles, was the Ben Mast Lumber Company. The mill got it's water from huge artesian springs on the property. The Mast mill was larger than most mills around the valley. They cut a lot of redwood lumber. He was able to make his fortune by building the only plainer mill in the valley. Not only did he plain his own lumber, most of the mills in the valley would send their lumber through his mill to have it surfaced. The Mast plainer mill also produced redwood siding lumber. It was a very modern  mill by 1950's standards. Ben Mast owned everything in his lumber operation from the saws that cut the timber to the logging equipment, the trucks that took the logs to the mill, the mill, the plainer, to the trucks that hauled most of the lumber to San Francisco.

South of Laytonville, on Davidson Lane(?), was the PH&E lumber company. I don't remember much about it, but I do remember the trucks that they used. The trucks were GMCs with Detroit Diesel engines in them. They sounded different than any other trucks that I had heard. I remember the lope of the idling engines. They would rev up, then fall back against the engine speed governor. Then they would rev up again. They would idle like someone was goosing the throttle every few seconds. They said that you didn't dare let them run out of fuel, because it you did, the speed governor would lock wide open and the engine would blow-up. Wow, pretty dramatic!

At the north end of the valley, about three miles south of Black Oak Ranch was the Ben L. Branscomb Lumber company. The mill was owned by my uncle Ben. I remember a lot about that mill. The mill was powered by Caterpiller engines. The head-rig engine was the largest V-8 engine that I ever saw. Ben had a log pond. He fed the pond off the log deck with a Skagit triple drum cable loader. The head rig was two large over and under circular saws with insert saw bits. He had an adjustable gang saw edger, a trim saw and a burner for the trimmings. He had his lumber surfaced at the Mast mill.

I can't remember the name of the mill across the street, east of Ben's mill, I believe that there was two of them. I know that they had a pond, because my cousin Roy and I used to catch bull frogs out of the pond after the mills closed.

The mill that I would particularly like the name of was a mill at the very south end of Long Valley on the west side of the highway. It was in a small canyon right beside the 101 highway. I used to know the name of it, but it slipped my mind. I didn't worry about it too much because I thought that someday it would jog back into my head.... But alas and alack... it didn't.

Maybe Ross knows, he has that book. It was before Robin's time, so she probably didn't know about it. It was about a half mile past Red Buck. I had a friend who's father, Cotton Stein, was the bookkeeper there. My friend's name was Royce Stein.

Anybody know of other mills?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How high's the water Mama

Well... I don't want make fun of people. Especially people that have never seen the water this high before, because it has been awhile since it has been this high. The river was clear over the road at Kimtu. Apparently that's a big deal nowadays. It used to be pretty routine to see water that high. The people that live in kimtu are pretty used to driving through some water up over the road, but not so much anymore. The water being over the road at Kimtu made photos in all of the important blogs and most of the local papers. It came as a little surprise to me that it was "news". Hmmmm....

The river has been moderately high, but not close to flood stage for a few years now. The river used to reach flood stage at least once or twice every year. I figur' it's global warming, that's what causes everything now. Global warming has been going on for close to 200,000 years, so you should expect to see things getting be really bad, shouldn't you?

Last year, or maybe sooner, I was musing about the moderate rainfall that we have been having and how clean the river was getting. All of the old traditional fish resting holes were clearing out, the gravel was moving out to sea, and the light rain was not causing too many great slides like we used to have every winter. I boldly stated the river was looking good and we could expect some pretty fabulous fish runs. (you could look it up)

The river was full of fish this year, but we had some pretty late rains and the run was delayed a little. When the fish finally got enough rain to head upstream, the water was not high enough to make it up some tributaries, so most of the fish spawned in the mainstream. I'm not sure how the spawn will fair in the high water we are having now, but it must be very destructive to the fish roe. The good thing is that there were thousands of fish spawned in the Eel river this years. (yes thousands!)

It is strange what mother nature will do. The old tradition fish resting hole under the bridge below Garberville, on the way to the airport, was full of salmon. Some reports said up to 200 fish at one time. The resting hole is not nearly as good as it was when the local folks saw it before 1964, but the salmon still choose to rest there. It must be genetic.

This year, environmental groups were having their praises sung for their great work in restoring the fish runs. Again, don't get me wrong, we need people to be concerned about the river and the fish, and we especially need people with the autority to stop fish habitat destruction. However, having seen the whole cycle, it was Mother Nature that caused the two major, and several minor floods that destroyed the quailty of the river fish habitat. It was also Mother Nature that brought the resting holes back.

I wish that I knew how this year's spawn is doing.

e e

Friday, November 30, 2012

Historic remains of sawmills from the 1860s

I had a fellow email me the other day and ask the question about what would he look for to find the remains on an 1850s era sawmill located in the Sacramento valley This man is a serious historian with genuine credentials, so the mere fact that he is asking ME anything is quite a boost to my pride. As many of you know this blog is mostly about historical stories. A lot of the stories told here are shared as tidbits of information that could possibly lead to the true stories that seem to come out after some great discussion. But sailing ships, sawmills, and big machines has been one of my life long passions, so here's what I came up with.

As honored as I am that he asked me, I'm not sure how much help that I could be. I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about it. He told me that he thought that he had found the flume that lead to mill, and he has a board known to be from the mill. He said that the board was made from a circular saw. He knows that the saw was a 48" diameter blade because he measured the saw-kerf.

I started thinking about what I would do if I were looking for 1850s sawmills. The only conclusion that I came to is that I would give up. However, I'm not sure that would be the answer that he was looking for. Many people succeed because they don't realize that their attempts are futile. I thought about what artifacts might be left behind. Hardly anything back in the 1850 had any iron in them. I assume that iron was rare and expensive in California back then. All the Iron had to be shipped into San Francisco, then blacksmithed into whatever parts that were needed. I assumed the sawmill of the 1850s were mostly made of wood. Wood was free and plentiful. The Drive belts would have been made from leather bands. The pulleys were most likely made out of wood. Any iron shafting would have been more valuable than gold, so any remains would have certainly have been salvaged, The saw blade would have also been expensive and highly salvageable.

The only possibility of remains, that I could think of, would have been iron nails. If the mill had burned there would have been some nails left in the ashes. Even then I can remember my grandfather sifting through the ashes of a house that had burned to collect the nails, so I'm sure that any remains of an 1850s era structure would have been picked through very thoroughly for Iron, no matter how the mill ended.

Then as a "Bullshistorian" I put myself back in the 1850s and became a sawmill. I am a fine sawmill. Back in the 1950s (when I was a kid) you were considered to be a darn smart man if you could make a success out of running a sawmill. So if I were a sawmill with a darn smart man running me, where would I be found in 2012? I have the brilliant advantage of being able to see what I'm headed into, because if I can be a sawmill, then I can also have the power to ask the people of the future where I'm going to end up. Okay, Enough silliness, but we do know what the mill had to go through getting to 2012.

The first thing that the mill would have to go through would have been salvagers. There would be no metal at all. I thought of the shafting, saw blades, nails, I even thought about the old poured babbit bearing caps that the must have used. they would all had been salvaged. So, I was left with rock structures, ditches and excavations. The mill would have been built on a flat large enough to hold logs and the lumber production, there would have been a road away from it. There would have been a need for power. Back then everything would have been mule power or water-wheel driven. The flume that this historian talked about was maybe for power or maybe ti transport logs too the mill. Some plumes were used for both power and log transport. The historian says that he can possibly identify the plume. The mill would have definitely been located near the river... no doubt in my mind.

If I were a mill by the river, I would have certainly been washed completely away by the huge flood of 1862, called the "Noachian Deluge" . It was by far the greatest flood that the western United States has ever known. I really don't think that any viable remains of sawmill could possibly be left. We have also had numerous floods since then that would have further cleared out any remains.

If I were a mill on high ground (I doubt that to be the case) I would leave rust, ashes, excavations, rock structures and absolutely nothing of any intrinsic value.

I'm kinda looking for comment about what I might have forgotten. Most of the early mills that I know of from the early days of California were frame saws, with a man on top and a man on the bottom The saw was lifted by the man on top, then when the saw was pulled down it made the cut.

I'm kinda also hoping that "Oregon" might know how saws were made back then. Insert bits?

Anybody have any ideas how we might help a REAL historian find his mill???

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Folks, the 70's and today

Comment script is OFF. I sure miss the days when we didn't have to use squiggly words to make a comment.

It is good to see that you folks still check in. I keep jotting down ideas for posts... then misplace them. I do remember one though that I have spent a quite a bit of time ruminating over.

An old acquaintance who came to Garberville with the back-to-the-landers asked me if they were as unwelcome when they came to town as the people that are filling our streets now. I found this to be a really tough question. I keep coming back to my old mantra that you can't judge back then by who we are now. I think that this is a great opportunity to point out what I mean by that. Most of us remember the 70s when the back-to-the-landers showed up. It was best described as culture shock more than anything. The back to the landers had to adjust to us a little, and we had to adjust to them a little.

One of the biggest things that I noticed back in the 70's is the thought that if someone found something on the street they would take it, because if they didn't take it someone else would. Up until that point it was pretty much understood that, all you needed to know is that; If it wasn't yours you didn't touch it. We started having to lock doors and take the keys out of our cars. The culture that the back-to-the landers came from, it was understood that things had to be kept locked, so they saw us as foolish for not knowing that.

I think that it is important to point out, as I always do, that all people are different, and not all people took things that didn't belong to them. But they all looked alike to us, and some were thieves. I'm not saying that we were perfect, but at least we knew who our thieves were. If something came up missing, we knew who took it and went to get it back.

One of the other differences that I noticed was the grinding filth on the new people. We never came to town without taking a bath and putting clean clothes on. The only exception would be the people coming home from work that stopped at one of the honky-tonk bars, or to pick up some food at the grocery store on their way home. I once asked one of the new people how they could stand being so filthy all the time. He replied in a voice of incredulity... "How can you think that this is dirt? The land around here is so clean. The air is clean and everything is so clean. Filth is only in the cities". So, that was their answer to why they didn't think of themselves as dirty.

An old friend of mine, by the name of Fred Wolf, once said to me. "You'd better make friends with these people, no matter what you think of them, they're buying land and they are here to stay. Someday they might be running you off." Fred was a remarkably perceptive fellow. I always thought hard about what he said. I did try to meet the new people half-way and accept at least some of their cultural differences. Some I probably will never accept, and I'm sure that some have some problems with me. But, for the most part, I think that the old-timers and the new people have formed a new society that that works quite well. I know that some of them that showed up looking like dirt-balls look pretty spiffy now. I'm not sure why they cleaned up but I sure appreciate it.

But, the question was how do the new people of today compare to the new people that came in the 70s. They don't... there is absolutely no comparison. The new people of today are just as filthy as the new people of the 70's, some of them are thieves. Shoplifting is rampant. Our store has security systems that record their crimes, we usually find them down at the park at the North end of town. They always justify the reason that they stole stuff by saying that they weren't hurting anyone personally, they were just taking from the greedy corporations. I can tell you that it feels pretty personal when we have to pay for it. Believe me when I say that the that corporations are glad to sell us more. So the thieves are doing more to help the greedy corporations than hurt them.

The people that came in the 70's would seem to start a complete new life. They dressed up in country clothes, bought themselves "mountain boots". They would walk in mud all day long and then they would walk right into a store with them. I once did an informal survey back then. When someone would walk in a store and track mud everywhere, I would ask them where they were from, most of them were from a city and didn't know that they should clean their feet before coming inside. The country folk are getting worse about that, and the city folk are getting better. Believe me you notice when you have to clean up after them to keep your store clean. We want the business, and we pretty much accept the mud. But really folks......

Some of the 70's folks were kind of comical, they were obviously from the city but they would play country dress-up; boots, 14 inch hunting knife on hip, jeans and a holey shirt, a beard was mandatory. We used to call them "Later-day Daniel Boones." They adopted new names, which was also curiosity to us. The local people honored their names and their families, to change your name would be an insult to your family.

Today's new people are today's carpetbaggers. Most are blatantly here to trim marijuana. They are not buying land. They have no interest in being part of the community. They will be gone as soon as people stop handing them money and bags of weed. Sheriff Downey asked me the other day if I thought that the people hanging of all over town were hurting my business. I replied "Yes, Definitely. I can give you a list of people that have told me that they won't come to Garberville anymore, specifically because of the pan-handlers and bums that litter our sidewalks". He then went on to ask me, "Well how bad is business off?" I had to tell him that we are doing better than ever, the same industry that brings the bums to our streets is the same industry that brings Garberville prosperity.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but some of my best friends are now among the new people that moved here in the 70's. The biggest similarity between today's new people and the new people of the 70s is that they are new, and culturally different from what we are used to. We adjust, we have no choice.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Some More

Hi, It's me again...
I have been through so many computers lately that I can hardly remember how to find my blog on the Internet. I have one AT tablet at home that runs Windows Seven, and one at work that is just like it, only it is set up differently. It gets confusing. Then I have a Samsung smart phone that runs Android. The smart phone is where I go to check on the blogs. As you might guess, the phone is not really a great forum to use in publishing on a blog. The Android system is not compatible with the programs the Generation "Y" uses now. They seem to like any system that is different from that status-quo. It somehow makes them feel smarter if they can leave others behind... that would be me. But I never give up, no whippersnapper is going to leave me in a snowbank for long. I also still have my old Dell that is quite comfortable for me to use, but, alas... it is being abused as a store cash register. My revenge is that if they ever turn it off they have to unplug it, disconnect all of the wires and peripherals, remove the memory batteries, then wait 5 minutes. Then they have to put the batteries back in, plug it back in, push the start button and reconnect all the wires and peripherals, then set all the dates and times so it knows what day it is. I get some joy out of knowing that there is thirteen computers on the system, and mine is number thirteen. I bet that they worry about the bad luck thing.

We have discussed what is wrong with my computer a thousand times, but we never seem to get around to fixing it. Being from the old school, I had assumed that it was a weak power supply. My theory was that the computer has a lot of bells and whistles built in to it, so is uses a lot of power. It keeps my office quite toasty in the winter time. My office is an old produce walk-in refrigerator, which seems somehow fitting for a refrigeration contractor. It's easy to heat, so the computer is all that I need for heat.

The monitor that I use was a 32 inch High-Definition 1080i television. It was a television that was returned to the store as "defective". In actuality it was hit by lightning. The verdict was to send it to the dump. Being an old school repairman, I assumed that it was just a bad power supply. I took it apart and tested the power supply with a tester. Sure enough, it had power into the supply but none out. After discussing it with the crew a thousand times they said that the TV would be no good that it was not worth fixing. Being one to not take the word of a whippersnapper, I found a power supply on the Internet and paid @200 dollars for it. I installed it, and the TV worked perfectly. I put the TV back on the floor and told the crew to sell it as used, get what ever they could, but not to lie to anybody, to tell them it was repaired, and give a 1-year money-back guarantee. The crew said that they would not sell it under any circumstance because they didn't want to risk THEIR reputations on a repaired TV.  So, I took it into my office, secretly being somewhat insulted, but strangly proud of our crew, even if they were wrong, and I have been using it as my computer monitor ever since. I get a lot of complements on my fine monitor. It sits about four feet away and I don't even need my glasses to see it quite sharply.

Anyway, I discoverd a long time ago that the problem with most failed electronics is... DUH... a bad power supply. Around 90% of all failures is a bad power supply, so if all you did was change power supplies you could fix 90% of the things that you work on. My computer use a lot of power, so by unpluging everything then turning it on, only the computer starts on low power. After it is running the rest can be added without tripping out the power supply. The whippersnappers save time thinking about the "whys" and just say "Yep, a bad power supply". I know the theory is all wrong, but hell, 90% of the time I am right by accident.

So much for my computer. My blog works best in Internet Explorer, so I switch to IE ( I hate abreviations because I think that it is just plain lazy to do all that writing, then leave your readers behind, stuned and confused by using abreviations that they might not pick up on. So, when I say IE I mean Iternet Explorer. Now you know why I just spell everything out... it's easier) The problem that I'm starting to experience is that hackers and spammers have found all the chinks in IE's armor. To much span gets through and some of my most beloved commenters don't. Dang!

I'm Hoping that Santa Claus will bring the store some new computers and I can have my old stand-by Dell back. Then maybe I can do some Blogging. If you have problems my email is
ernie @ Tighten up around the "@" to email me. I had to leave the space so that the dang spammers don't pick up on it as a link.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veteran's Day

Today is the day that has been set aside to honor the men and women who protect our great country. Actually we all know that Veteran's Day officially happens on the 11th of November, but when it falls on a Sunday it is moved to the following Monday, which is today. Veteran's Day is one of our most solemn holidays. It's not really a celebration as much as it is an observance of the value of our soldiers, and a remembrance of their dedication.

I hardly ever vote for a tax increase, but I can honestly say that I have always voted for any measure on the ballot that would help our soldiers. I can only hope that some of the money that we have voted for them actually helps them. Sadly, I suspect that some of the money that was supposed to be set aside for them has disappeared through some political wrangling. Only the lowest of the low would do such a thing, but it does happen. We need to pay more attention.

I have a veteran friend that I have breakfast with every Friday, last Friday I insisted that it was my turn to buy, I know that it is not much, but it makes me feel just a little bit better to thank a Vet. If you know a Vet, be sure to thank them.

I've been very lax about blogging lately, but the Veteran's Day observance has sprung me loose from my dry spell. Many good stories have stacked up and I would like to put them out there. I would like to thank all of my gentle readers that have expressed their desire to read more... so brace yourselves. I feel a new wave of "Bullshistory" coming on.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Be there or be square

Fire Department retirement party. As you know, I am retiring from the Redway Fire Department. 

Really? A quarter page ad???
  I stopped at the Redway fire hall the other day, just to say hello, and find out if they wanted anything from me for my fire-retirement party, the crew was on an emergency medical run. When they came back to the hall I got a chance to talk to Richard Rotbergs and Brian Harper. Brian said that if I wanted someone special to be there that I should invite them. I told Brian that the whole community was special to me and that I wasn't sure that they could feed them all. I also said that I thought that everybody was supposed to call Pat Dowd to R.S.V.P. (923-2579.) He said that there will be PLENTY of food... tri-tip steak, with fixin's. So they should just come, everybody will get fed, it would just be nice to call Pat. I also know that there will be plenty of beer. I'm bringing my Guinness tapper and the fire department tapper will have Sierra Nevada and a sissy beer for the lightweights. They will even have bottled water.

The party will be from 4:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. The 9:00 P.M. thing will be pretty firm, after all they crew will have to clean up and make it back into a fire hall when we are through partying.

The band "Twango Macallan", who has become the official "Redway Fire Department Band", will be there. I can't say enough good things about this band. They not only play for us at the Barbecues, but they entertain the patients at the hospital, the people at the farmers market, and other worthy community happenings. I understand that they even like getting a paid gig periodically.

So, it sounds like a fun time and EVERYBODY is welcome. Now you've been told. So, be there!
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 4:00-9:00 P.M. At The Redway fire hall, 155 Empire Avenue. Behind Shop Smart, in Redway.
 R.S.V.P Pat Dowd at 923-2579 or just show up, I would.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Is that a rock on your desk or a dead potato?

Click on rock for a close-up.

Anonymous said...
So, is that a rock next to the keyboard or a really old potato?

In the previous post, about pie, I took a photo of the pie and in the left-hand side was a rock that I use as a paperweight, or a Pet Rock as the case may be. It's funny that anyone would ask about the rock. It is also characteristic of a natural born seeker. Did anybody else notice the rock on my desk?

My whole life I have spent noticing the things around me, I have an insatiable curiosity. I can't walk down a river bar without trying to find the prettiest rock. I start off by limiting myself to collecting three rocks. After I have collected three rocks I have to throw one away to collect another prettier one. Usually I find more than three pretty rocks and I can't stand having to throw away a pretty rock to save another. So.... I revert to "Ernie's Rules". When I don't like a rule, or I resent that a rule would apply to me, I change it. Simple huh? Wouldn't it be nice if all of life's rules could be so simple. So my silly rule changes from three pretty rocks to four... or five... or six. Soon the whole rule seems to be silly, so I change the rule to all that I can pack. As it turns out the all that I can pack rule has it's own built-in limits.

At some point, I have to impose limits on myself, or I try to make bargains with my wife to help pack some rocks for me, but she by then, has her own pretty rock collections... that she would like me to help her pack. I would be wise to not ask her for help, because then she feels free to ask me for help. She has far better bargaining abilities than I have. She is usually able to convince me that HER collection is far prettier, and therefore far more valuable than my rocks. My rocks usually end up back on the river bar to await the next seeker of pretty rocks. Sometimes I stash them with a plan to return for them later.

Now, back to the rock on my desk. I found it on the main Eel River. It is six inches tall, eight inches wide, and three inches front to back. That, of course depends on which side is chosen as the bottom. It has two fairly flat sides, and it will stand on the narrow end as it is shown, or lay flat. Both positions are stable, no wobble. I like stability in my life, so the rock is somewhat symbolic of me in that respect. 

The rock first attracted me because of it's pretty, and varied coloration. I used the pretty rock test that every pretty rock collector uses, I dipped it in water. The colors popped out. The colors vary from rose to deep red, yellow to gold, with many spots of blue black and green. The white streaks and spots are quartz. I was drawn to polish it for a desk decoration and paperweight. As I tried to polish it, it soon became apparent that there was a significant amount of quartz in it. The quartz is grainy, and it simply won't take a polish. I thought about coating it with a shiny epoxy polish but decided that was just plain unnatural. So I left it as you see it. To me, I know that it is beautiful just the way that it is. I still see it as I did when I dipped it in the cool clear waters of the Eel River.

I found the rock more than twenty years ago while on an outing with my wife. We were walking on the river bar at Fort Seward, down by the railroad tracks. The rocks that she found were by far prettier than mine (She reasoned) so I packed her rocks back to the truck. But, something forced me to keep this rock. It's been on my desk since then.

I have grown quite fond of the rock and I even find the thought of parting with it as unreasonable. The rock is a lot like me. Varied, but refuses to take polish.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Huckleberry/Apple Pie

Huckleberry/apple pie is my favorite pie in the whole world. Here's a picture picture of what is left of two pies that I made last night. With two slices cut for Gabby Haze and Olmanriver. They usually eat off the same plate, it's like they're joint at the hip or sompthin'.

Then... after the giant sucking sound!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Volkswagens, the worlds most economical car, or the bane of the highway!


This is the model that broke the old hippies heart,
 it was the last V.W. bug to roll off the assembly line forever.
The 2003 Volkswagen Beetle 
 The Volkswagen Beetle, or “Bug” as it was affectionately known.

You either loved them or you hated them, there was no in-between. The Volkswagen Bug was manufactured from 1938 to 2003. There were 21,529,464 (twenty one million, five hundred twenty-nine thousand, four hundred sixty four) Volkswagen Beetles manufactured in all. It was the most manufactured and produced car in history. No other car maker sold as many of a single model than the Volkswagen Beetle.

…and, back before freeways, in the early ‘60s, it seemed like they were the single most impediment to traveling down the highway. I can still hear the whistley little four-banger air cooled engines in my ears. It seemed like no matter what hill that you were on, there was a Beetle up there in front, bugging you, leading the parade. Even though they were getting great mileage, they were holding up everybody behind them, causing trucks busses and passenger cars to use their very lowest gears. The wear and tear, plus the wasted fuel caused by slowing down to follow the whistley little annoying Beetle more than sapped any fuel savings that the Beetle could have saved the world. Not to mention all of the labor of the people that were providing time for the freight industry. Sales people, and people headed toward their jobs were held up. You could be late to work and you could tell your boss that you got caught behind a Volkswagen on Benbow hill. It was an acceptable excuse.

I have always over-thought everything, so being trapped behind a V.W. pulling a hill allowed me way to much time to think. I have never taken a psychology class, because I’m afraid of what I might find out about myself, but that doesn’t stop me from delving into the psychology of those around me. It always seemed to me that the people that drove V.W. Bugs were doing it with some kind of a smugness about them. Their philosophy seems to be: “If everybody drove bugs, the world would be a better place, we would be using less fuel, and we would be moving at a slower and more relaxed pace”. So, they feel obliged to hold you up, because they are better and smarter than you. No way would they ever pull over on a hill, they couldn’t afford to loose what little teeny-weeny bit of momentum that they had wound up in their little itty-bitty motors. If they pulled off, nobody would EVER let them back in in front of them. NO WAY! It was like a V.W. driver could die on a turn-out before anybody would let them back in. I think that people that drove real cars would be secretly happy to see a V.W stranded in a turn out forever. Plus, if the V.W. drivers were really that concerned about the environment, why weren’t they driving bicycles, hand-carved out of driftwood? They are all pretentious phonies. There, I said it, I feel better.

The early sixties were a time when more powerful and economical engines were being developed. Trucks were being produced with large diesel V-8 engines with magnesium frames and wheels that could move freight up hills and 55 miles per hour, only to be held up by a whistley little V.W. Bug. State and federal officials recognized the problems of the highway system. They realized that there was no sense in building faster, more powerful trucks and delivery systems if they were only to have the pace set on the highways by a V.W Bug. So, the Interstate Highway System was upgraded so that every state was to have a major freeway. After the freeways were built, the popularity of the V.W. dropped off, which proves something to me. Bugs are just no fun unless you are holding something up.

As you might have guessed, most of this was written a little tongue-in cheek. And, maybe some lingering annoyance at having had to follow way too many Volkswagens...  Deal with it.

My wife’s second car, way back before we were married, was a Volkswagen. She loved it because she liked to shift all those gears, I can understand that. It gave her great gas milage, and it was a time in her life that she was not in any big hurry to be anywhere. Ah... the freedom of youth.

Volkswagens awaiting restoration. Photo by Kim Sallaway.
VW Transporter
The den of the hippie bird, used to lure young chicks with
the promise of a whole wheat alfalpha sandwich.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Lost Seagull

Young seagull

At about 10:30 this morning, I went out to my truck in the parking lot across from our store in Garberville, I looked up into the sky, as I often do, day or night, and I saw a seagull flying over. As I watched it curiously it circled around to look at me curiously. It occurred to me that it might be hungry. I had just bought bag of corn chips, so I reached in the truck, grabbed the bag and opened it. I threw a few chips on the ground. Sure enough the gull swooped down. He landed on the parapet wall of the adjoining building. He eyed me curiously like he wasn't quite sure of my intentions. Smart bird! I walked over to the store and went inside. As soon as I stepped inside several crows, ravens and blackbirds swooped in to gobble up the corn chips. Soon the gull got brave enough to fly down and grab a few for himself,

Quite often I see seagulls in Garberville, but not often in the summertime. Usually there is a strong wind blowing or a storm out to sea, or maybe the gull came inland to get out of that darn fog that they have along the coast this time of the year. I can certainly understand that.

Anyway it was cool. The dishwasher next door said that there was another young gull joined the first one to help finish of the corn chips. Call me a romantic fool, but I concluded from that that they were probably a young couple eloping. Why else would they be in Garberville this time of the year.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Ross Sherburn said...
What about Huckle Berries?

You can even buy huckleberies at the above website.

Wow, Ross doesn't realize how cruel some questions can be... Reminding me about huckleberries is like reminding a person about their true love that slipped away and married someone else. Huckleberries just happens to be my most favorite berry in the whole world. The long sad story is that huckleberries are too hard to come by anymore. Now that you are hooked, I'll back up and tell you the long sad story of one of my true heartbreaks.

Years ago, back when logging was a highly a highly revered profession, great orchards of huckleberries grew at the feet of the giant redwoods. When the Redwoods were selectively logged, it would let in just enough sun to cause the huckleberries to bear large quantities of big, fat, juicy and tender fruit. Being a logger allowed a person access to all of the huckleberries that you could pick. Many times when my family went huckleberry picking we would come home with four or five gallons of huckleberries. Those were the good old days before modern logging and rogue corporations bought up logging companies and started clear-cutting and spraying the forests for “conifer release”. I tell you, some times it almost makes a person be ashamed of being a logger. Many loggers didn’t approve of the corporations over-cutting, clear-cutting, and spraying of the forests. I was one.

Tip: To clean picked huckleberries, take a clean piece of synthetic fly screen, tack it to a frame four feet wide by eight feet long. Make the frame four feet wide at one end and two feet wide at the other end. Stretch the screen tight across the one end and let it sag down loose to the other. Sprinkle the berries across the top end then lightly tap the screen from underneath. The berries will slowly flow toward the sagging end. By the time that they get there they will have left all the leaves, stems, and twigs behind. Place a bucket under the sagging end to catch the berries. When the screen gets too many leaves on it, simply brush it off and start over. It makes picking berries much faster and easier, because you can simply strip the branches loosely with your hand. The few leaves that you get doing that can be sifted out using the separator screen.

Before modern forest practices, huckleberries were easy to get. Kids would pick various wild berries throughout the summer, they used the summer work to buy school clothes, or the boys were usually working to buy a bicycle or a new 22-caliber rifle. The berries were sometimes sold to the local restaurants to make their “homemade pies”. Most of the restaurants took great pride in their pie making. Many people frequented the coffee shops back in the ‘50s and ‘60s just for a cup of coffee and a nice slice of “homemade pie a la mode”. (pie, with a scoop of ice cream)

In the '70s, two things happened to ruin huckleberry picking, the timber companies started spraying herbicides for conifer release, and the newcomers started showing up. The newcomers were strangers to the local folks and there was no trust between them. The new people that were buying property were quick to put up "no trespassing" signs, so the berry patches that were available for generations to the local folks all but disappeared. Woe is us.

If you never saw the massive huckleberry patches that were in our hills before the '70s, you are a newcomer to this canyon. Huckleberry brush was so plentiful that we had a huckleberry brush picking industry. It was mostly a side industry of logging. If a logger lost his job, because of seasonal lay-offs or any other reason, they simply picked huckleberry brush or made redwood split stuff. The ones that picked huckleberry brush did quite well as a side job. The brush picking did not deplete the huckleberries, but encouraged new growth that delivered better berries. Yum!

The spays of brush were used in the florist industry for making floral displays. The brush pickers also picked fresh sword fern and sold them to the same processing facility. The large metal building behind the Lutheran Church in Redway was a huckleberry brush processing factory. (Now Johns auto repair?) It was run by the Hunt brothers. Not the famous ones, but the infamous ones. The thing that I liked about the factory is that they refrigerated the sprays of brush before shipping them. I used to get paid to maintain the refrigeration.

The brush was picked as flat sprays, as they were called. The flatter and the more foliated among them were the most premium. The sprays were delivered the processing plant in the metal building where they were graded and bunched for sale. The people that worked in the factory were SoHum’s first "trimmers". The brush was immediately placed in bins with a water spray over them to keep them from wilting, the dead leaves and braches were trimmed out, then they were placed into graded and counted bundles for sale. Once they were graded and bundled, they were wetted again and placed into the large cargo container sized walk-in refrigerator. The entire walk-in full was shipped out to a floral supply house in one big pay-day, then they would start all over again.

But, we were talking about huckleberries themselves, weren't we? As I was saying, huckleberries are my favorite berry. The huckleberries have a very strong sweet flavor, similar to a blueberry, but much more intense. I like to mix huckleberries about one third berry and two thirds apples for my pies. The huckleberry flavor completely dominates the flavor of the apple pie, yet the apple moderates the flavor of the berries for a super delicious pie. You could eat two or three pieces without going catatonic. Home-churned ice-cream goes well with it also.

You can still find huckleberries in the remote locations in the backs of state parks, but nothing like the "good old days". One of my favorite huckleberry picking stories takes place about thirty years ago when my wife, Janis, and I were picking berries in the back of a state park when we came across some bear "sign", that's a polite way of saying "crap". Bears like huckleberries as much as I do. In fact, they will even eat them before they are totally ripe, which seems kinda' like cheating. My wife said, "shouldn't we be worried?" I said "not really, black bears are really fairly timid and they try to get away from you if they can". I saw the look of doubt on her face. I just could not resist going on to say: "They don't usually bother you unless they have a cub. Or, maybe you surprise them or something". I told her, "Just look big if you can, and yell and scream a lot". Then I got to really enjoying her uncomfortable feeling and just could not resist saying: "For some reason, black bears will usually attack women first". Before she could ask why they would do that, we came across more sign... And it was still steaming. Being the gentleman that I am, I quickly escorted her out of there. My plan was that if the bear started following us, I would sprinkle my bucket of Huckleberries behind me. I know full well that if the bear truly liked huckleberries as much as I do, that it would stop to eat the berries instead of me or my wife.

Tip two: Huckleberry pie should ALWAYS be served with barbecued wild salmon.

An interesting side note:

"Huckleberry" was commonly used in the 1800's in conjunction with "persimmon" as a small unit of measure. "I'm a huckleberry over your persimmon" meant "I'm just a bit better than you." As a result, "huckleberry" came to denote idiomatically two things. First, it denoted a small unit of measure, a "tad," as it were, and a person who was a huckleberry could be a small, unimportant person--usually expressed ironically in mock self-depreciation. The second and more common usage came to mean, in the words of the "Dictionary of American Slang: Second Supplemented Edition" (Crowell, 1975):

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Secret patch

I went blackberry picking again today. I have a secret patch of blackberries that grows in a spring. Because of the spring, the berries grow big fat and juicy. The berries also grow on the north side of the mountain so they ripen very slowly. The berries are just now getting ripe. They seem to ripen all at the same time, so it's like picking grapes or something. I usually only get one picking, because what is left is not worth coming back for.

The bad side of this berry patch is that a lot of berries are just out of reach, but I can't resist going after them anyway. Sometimes I end up in the middle of a berry bush and have a hard time getting back out. I always carry my cell phone just in case I have to call the Technical Rescue Team.

I know that nobody would believe my good berry picking, so I took pictures. I took the photos with my cell phone and I'm not nearly as clever as Kym Kemp at Photoshop, so what you see is what you get.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Branscomb Retires from the Redway Volunteer Fire Department

Just so you out of towners know. I retired from the fire department. This is a reprint from Redwood Times

Thanks for the memories; Ernie Branscomb reflects on 39 years of volunteer service Susan Gardner, Redwood

Posted: 08/01/2012 02:35:15 PM PDT
There isn't any organization more important that our volunteer fire departments. The key word here is volunteer. These men and women who are also our friends and neighbors give many, many personal hours to help save our property and sometimes even our lives and those we love. They all deserve a great big thank you.

One such volunteer comes to mind when you think of community service and volunteering. That is Ernie Branscomb. How many times have you seen him on the scene of an accident or fire? Or at a community event helping fix the refrigeration system for a local non-profit group?

Perhaps one of his greatest performances has been in the Garberville rodeo parade each year. He's usually the one who starts the water fight between fire departments. Unfortunately, this past June was the last time you will see him in that capacity. He had been warned that he shouldn't do it, but he went out with a splash, much to the delight of those watching the parade. After all, it's tradition and Ernie is all about tradition.

After 39 years of service to the Redway Volunteer Fire Department Ernie has hung up his turnouts and turned in his pager. He said it's so the “younger kids” can take over where he left off. Let it be known that these “younger kids” have some pretty big boots to fill.

The following is in Ernie's own words, with just a bit of editing by this very humble editor.

How do you summarize 39 years in the Redway Volunteer Fire Department? You don't, so I won't try. I would like to make it clear that I didn't retire because they are threatening to make me stop having a water fight in the rodeo parade.

Kids love the water fight and that includes me. The parade is all about kids and having fun. With the water fight rumor gone, the real reason that I'm retiring is that all of my certifications are expiring and I am faced with once again studying for recertification as a Medical First Responder, CPR, and firefighter. Also, a firefighter must be licensed to drive fire trucks.

Being faced with all of that studying for the limited time that I might still feel young enough to drag a fire hose with the younger firefighters compelled me to consider retiring from the fire department. Recertification is no small task. Firefighters take their jobs very seriously and they consider certification to be very important, but it is also very time consuming.
Ernie Branscomb

A good friend of mine, also in the fire department, said, “being a first responder is the dues that you pay for the life that you get.” And, what a life you get. I would recommend to any young person that is capable, to become a volunteer first responder. There is no better feeling than knowing that you saved a family's home, or saved someone's life. Especially if you are part of a group that did those things as a team where everyone gets to share the credit.

Ernie (center) in his favorite habitat

We always had something to talk about back at the fire hall. The stories are much more glorious in the re-telling. There is no way to explain the bond between firefighters. You would have to have been a firefighter or soldier to know the bond of trust that forms when you trust your life to the person who “has your back.” My life has probably been saved several times by other firefighters. We watch out for each other. It is so routine that you don't even think about it, but you know when it happens.

I joined the fire department “officially” on March 14, 1973. I was a probational firefighter for a length of time before that. We had a serious call at least once a week back then. The houses were wood-framed and had board siding with no sheetrock inside. They had wood shingles on the roof with wood heat or fireplaces. They had copper pennies under the fuses in the fuse box. The houses were leftover from the mill camps that we had in this area. The average cost of a house back then wasn't much over $10,000. Losing a house wasn't much of a loss. We lose fewer houses today. Today's houses are built much better and they are worth a whole lot more, and of course, people are much more fire-conscious.

There is absolutely no way to summarize my experiences in the fire department. That's because each fire, or emergency, has it's own complete story, and there are just too many, but I was there at all of “The Big Ones.” My first call was to the Texaco bulk plant. We got our fire calls from the lady that lived behind the fire hall. If someone called in a fire, it went to her phone, she would sound the siren that called us to the station. After she sounded the alarm she would run to the fire hall and write the call on a chalkboard. I read that board as we were leaving the station on my first call. It said “Texaco Bulk Plant, Rusk Lane.” I swallowed my heart a couple of times and said, “What do I do?” The other firefighters told me to watch them, “and don't do anything stupid, or anything that scares you, and don't get hurt!” That was my very first training as a firefighter. Talk about trial by fire. As it turned out, it was just a broken filler-hose with about 100 gallons gasoline spilled. AND NO FIRE! Whew! Back then, we would wash down fuel spills to reduce the fire hazard. Now, we would soak up the gasoline and put it in containment barrels.
Ernie, shouldn't you be running to the fire?

My very first “real fire” was the Hartsook Inn down in Richardson Grove. With the exception of the north end, the whole building was a total loss. I was stationed at the north end of the building, and I had a lot to do with saving it. It was with a considerable amount of pride, for a new firefighter, that I humbly accepted the praise. It must have been like they say in the theater. The applause can be addictive. I knew from that moment on, how good it felt to be part of a team that could save buildings from fire. What a great feeling!

From the Hartsook to many small structure fires my volunteer career became more routine and my confidence level grew. Among the “big ones” was the Garberville Fireman's Hall fire. The sky was so bright from the fire that I could see to get in my truck at Benbow. I knew the fire was next to the propane bulk plant. I remember the surreal feeling of knowing that the fire was next to a propane plant and I was still headed in that direction. I felt somewhat vindicated that when I got there, all the other firefighters were showing up. I remember feeling that we must be insane. My first station was between the propane tanks and the fire to keep the tanks cool. In theory, if you keep them cool they don't blow up. We had to sacrifice a few small propane bottles to save the larger tanks. Some of the valves on the tops melted off. The flames would shoot like a rocket blast with a roaring blue flame about 25 feet into the air. The Garberville fire department was in the south end of the hall and they lost several of their fire trucks to the blaze. The only injuries that were suffered were some smoke-inhalation and exhaustion. I was totally unscathed, as was the rest of the team that I was stationed with behind the hall. We only had to stand there to hose down and cool the tanks. Some of the other firefighters had to drag numerous hydrant lines to the fire. They got pretty tired.
The next big fire was at the Murrish Food Center in Redway. I was late getting there, because I was responding from Benbow. When I arrived and asked the assistant chief, “Whatta we got?” He replied, “We're (screwed).” That's not an exact quote, but I can't repeat what he really said. It seemed like the fire was everywhere and we tried to keep the fire as cool as we could. After a few sections of the roof collapsed we went inside to start mopping up. One of our team members said that there was fire on the other side of the wall from us. I told him “No way, that's an eight-inch thick firewall.” As we got all the way over to it, flames were shooting 20 feet into the sky. After we finally got the fire completely out the investigators told us that it was an arson fire. They said that there had been 12 “sets.” No wonder the fire was on both sides of the firewall.

Then there was the Southern Humboldt Building Supply fire on March 17, Saint Patrick's Day. We were at a Rotary Club Saint Patrick's Day party and car raffle at the Hartsook Inn. We were coming back into town on the shuttle bus when we saw the fire shooting through the roof. I, and several others, were in tuxedos. I was the best-dressed firefighter in town that night until my wife brought me my fire turnout clothes. Two firefighters climbed up into the building from underneath with a hose and put the fire out. Due to some compromising circumstance I am sworn to secrecy as to who those firefighters were. It wasn't me but they were the ones that finally brought the fire under control. Southern Humboldt Builders and the Branding Iron (Chick's Bar) were total loses. That fire was also arson, but was set by a different person.

As you can see, I could go on and on. I was on the last real fire call that the 1937 American La France fire truck went on. I drove the truck to a house up the hill behind Ruby Valley. We still have the truck and we use it in the parades and to deliver Santa Claus to the Redway children. I was also at the fires at the Log House Museum, the Trees Restaurant, and The Branding Iron Saloon, once again. I was once involved in a fire on Hillcrest Drive that back-drafted while we were inside. I have worked at Landing Zone Safety training, at The Eel River Conservation Camp during several major wildland fires, and I have also worked on many wildland fires.

Of course the highlights of my career have to be the Redway Barbecue held every Memorial Day weekend and the rodeo parade water fight.

He that shall see this day and live t' old age...
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars...
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages what feats he did that day.
Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words ...
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered...
This story shall the good man teach his son...
But we in it shall be remembered,
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother.
-Band of brothers, (greatly edited) Shakespeare

Copyright 2012 Redwood Times. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Environmentalism, really?

Think locally act globally!
Rachel Carson
May 27, 1907-Apr 14, 1964
Rachel Carson probably awakened more people to the cause of environmentalism than any other person. Her Book "Silent Spring"(1962) was about the dangers of pesticides. Although DDT was labeled as completely harmless to man, it was found to soften the egg shells of top predator birds. Silent Spring probably saved the American Bald Eagle from certain extinction.

It is easy to be a good guy, all you have to do is label yourself as an environmentalist. I certainly don't want to take anything away from the true custodians of the environment that work hard to protect nature from harm, like Carson and many others, but what hurts the environment on the other side of the earth certainly hurts us here. If you want to see what I'm talking about, go to the beach and try to decide where the junk washing up on our shores is coming from. For the most part... it ain't ours. What are we doing about that? Beside continually picking it up!

Recently we've had to wonder if some of the junk from Japan might be radioactive flotsam from the Fukushima Nuclear plant. It was built to withstand a 7.2 earthquake, but it wasn't designed to withstand a tidal wave. How do they ever plan to sell us on the idea that nuclear power is safe if they can't even get past an earthquake. Japan is capable of providing an even larger quake than they had that caused the Fukushima disaster. Why aren't we all screaming for better standards? Not just here, but world-wide. They have sold us (some of us) on the idea that we "live in a world economy now" so they can sell us cheap products that can be made cheaply offshore, but at what expense? What countries adhere to the high environmental standards that we here in the U.S. do? Certainly not China.

Some of you have heard me say, repeatedly, that the Three Gorges Dam, that was just recently put into operation in China, is the direct equivalent of placing a dam across the Golden Gate in San Francisco and flooding the Sacramento valley. The dam displaced more Chinese citizens that we have people in the Sacramento valley, not to mention that they flooded antiquities and artifacts tens of thousand of years old. China did this for cheap power to provide cheap products to sell to the rest of the world. What do you think that the chances of placing a dam across the Golden Gate are? We would be able to compete with cheap Chinese products then. We would have almost unlimited free hydro-power. Think what a boon it would be to the U.S. economy. Anybody that wanted a job could be hired for the construction. America would be sitting in Fat City.

Our chances of a dam being placed across the Golden Gate are ZERO, because, rightfully every environmentalist in America would be against it. Man woman and child would be screaming at the top of their lungs that it shouldn’t happen. Politician’s heads would roll, there would be rioting in the streets, there would be pandemonium. Soooo… why is it okay with all of us “environmentalists”, that are so busy “thinking globally and acting locally“, while using cheap Chinese products and being grateful for the “good buy” that we are getting? Shouldn’t we be thinking locally and acting GLOBALLY?

They say that the Three Gorges Dam generates as much power as 15 nuclear power plants, but at what cost? The kinds of fish in the river will change, the valleys are gone, the antiquities are gone. The birds and animal life will change. Some say the they worlds weather will change because of the size of the dam. There are theories that the dam will cause earthquakes due to the weight of the water. The people that used to live in the valleys and grow their own food are no longer able to do so. The displaced people were moved in to large apartment complexes in the cities. I can’t believe that they are, in any way, happier. Our own local second district supervisor, Clif Clendenen, just lost his job, in part, because he suggested that the people that live in the hills should move to town where they would be easier to care for. Say What??? Not many people like living in a town compared to having their own space and garden in the country. So, why did we, in the rest of the world, allow China to do this to their people? Shouldn’t we have been fighting for them to be left on their farms? If we live in a “world economy” we should darn well have some say over what the rest of the world does to the environment and their people. Too bad we don’t have a vote in this “World Economy” that we live in.

Eric Kirk just did a post on GMO foods, and whether or not they should be labeled. It starts out like it's about Kepler, but it ends up about GMO labeling. It was one of the most interesting discussions that I’ve ever seen on a blog. The comments were educated and articulate. My only hope is that GMO foods would be labeled. If your are going to sell me food, you should be obligated to tell me all about it. One of the points that was made was that we would need genetically modified foods to feed the world. Maybe so, but we wouldn’t need GMO foods if we had more space to grow natural food. In our own valleys we have replaced prime agriculture land with brick and mortar industry. A good example of that is “Silicone Valley” thousand of prune and walnut trees were removed from the San Jose Valley to make room for buildings. The buildings would have probably been better placed in the foothills and the valleys left for agriculture, quite the opposite of the plan to move everybody to the cities. Sadly, The San Jose valley was known by the Indians as The Valley of the Acorn Oaks. The oak trees were removed to plant prunes and walnuts. I don’t necessarily disapprove of planting a better crop, as long as in doesn’t glow in the dark, like some GMO plants. Or if it glows in the dark, it should be at least labeled that does that.

I guess my whole point is, why are some of our “environmentalists” so darned obstructionalistic locally, when they don’t seem not to care a rat’s patooty about what the rest of the world does.

Link: Three Gorges dam
link: 17 facts about the three gorges dam

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Richardson Grove realignment Bruhaha

In view of the recent Judge Dale A. Reinholtsen ruling on Richardson Grove approving of the project and soundly slapping the face of EPIC, who apposed the realignment of the grove, I looked back to a a time when blogging was semi-intelligent and fun. I found the following post in my archives and decided to make a link to it. Please read the intelligent comments!

Link: Pigs Fly

Have fun!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

So sorry!

As much as I love blogging, I haven't been doing much lately... maybe you noticed. I do have a quite a few half-written posts that I have in my "Blog Drafts" file. Some are still timely and some are simply outdated, but I will probably go through them and see if there is anything still in there that will pique your interest. This is just a short note to say how sorry that I am that I haven't been keeping up.

But of course, you will be wanting to know why I haven't been here writing. Well the old cliche "I been busy" still holds true. I am very fortunate in these times that are difficult for some, because of the bad economy, I have been getting a lot of jobs. I hate turning down jobs for fear that there may not be as many in the future. Springtime is always good for refrigeration, but this have been a great year for me. Deferred maintainance can eventually catch up with people, and I believe that a lot of the majors repair calls that I've been getting are because people have put repairs off too long.

I have also been installing some new equipment, some has been in Fortuna. I bid the Fortuna job last summer and it is just now being finished. Gas prices went sky-high, so I tried to put in full days to minimize trips. Fortunatley gas is coming back down again, that and the job is 99% finished. I'm looking forward to catching back up again. Usually I catch up around the first week in July, but I don't see any end in sight this year.

I need to apologize to some people, Mainly Joe Erwin, who tried to meet with me for lunch. I was not able to reply in a timely fashion and my window of opportunity closed. Joe, if you are still reading, email me at my email address in the upper left corner on this blog. I don't get email addresses on comments, and yes, I'd like to meet for coffee or lunch. Also, a few other people have emailed me that I could not respond to, I regret that, but when you are up to your ass in alligators, it's hard to remember that you were trying to drain the swamp.

The part that I enjoy the most about blogging is the comments that I get. I think that this blog has the better  comments than most other blogs. Did I say that right???

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Estelle Fennell Elected 2nd Dist Supervisor

Estelle Fennell has been elected as Humboldt County's new second district Supervisor.
It is a new day in day dawning. Estelle worked very hard to gain this elected position. She is a very hard worker and she is very intelligent. She will find ways to help all the people of Humboldt County to get their fair due. Her job will be made even more difficult by the whole nations poor economy, but she is capable of doing quite well as a negotiator, and there will be a difference.

 Estelle's partner, Kathleen Creager, was the second most involved and equally as hard a worker in the campaign. She is one of the hardest working "behind the scenes" workers that there is. Estelle had a lot of people involved in her campaign, too numerous to name them all, but it seemed that if only Estelle's campaign workers voted for her she would be sure to be elected.

On a personal note, I often wondered if my support helped her or hurt her more, and I expressed that to her several times. She assured me that it didn't bother her that I might have lost her votes and that she appreciated my support. She ran her campaign honestly and enjoyed the people that tried to help her. She took an "it is what it is" approach. Her first comments when it started to become hopeful that she might be elected was to thank the people that supported her. Her text to me at 2:23 AM June 6th was, "I love you, Thank you for all you did to help". I couldn't help but think of all of the things that I did that was maybe not that helpful.

I have purposely avoid terming this election as a "win or lose" situation. I don't think that anyone truly wins or loses in an election. It is simply a changing of the guard. But, I do think that the people of Humboldt County have gained a great leader.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Irish Slaves?

If you have Irish ancestry, I do, your folks may have been sold into slavery. Sound strange? Not as strange as it may seem if you know the history of the British Isles. The British and the Irish had no love for each other. Indeed, Oliver Cromwell advocated the complete extermination of the Irish. Many Irish slaves were supposedly sold in Jamaica and other British colonies. I say supposedly, because, as you know history is written by the survivors, so room for actual facts are much debated. Some people even doubt the Holocaust.  Slavery was common in the world up until about the 1700s. Depending on what you term as "slavery", the Nazis had up to ten-million captives that were used as human medical experiments, used as labor in the Nazi factories and in the agriculture fields, most would call them slaves.

All of this is not to diminish the fact that America held blacks in slavery, and that fact is was very well documented, and seldom glossed over. Laws against slavery were passed in the British Isles in 1839 forbidding the selling of slaves, but there was still a good market for slaves in Jamaica long after those laws were passed. Just as many people today will do anything to make a buck, legal or not, I'm sure that the slave trade persisted long after laws were passed against it.

African Slaves were bought from African leaders that rounded up their own people to sell into the slave trade. The Irish were also famous as Slavers, as were the Dutch. It was much easier to get Irish slaves because most of them were criminals that the British rulers were glad to get rid of. The slave trade in Jamaica and Australia was mostly furnished from the British prisons. An Irish slave was only worth about one-tenth of what a black slave was worth. The Irish slaves were bred to the blacks to get a much higher quality slave.  They felt that the blacks could work harder in the heat, and the Irish were used as cheap breeding stock.  I'm not sure how I feel about that. It must have been horrible for everybody involved. The children automatically became slaves.

As I have said many times, we can't judge what happened in history by who we are today. We are all genetically the same people that lived two hundred years ago, but we are much better educated and we see the benefit of getting along with one another. Also, our laws are much more likely to be enforced. I often wonder what would happen to our nice cozy society if the law should happen to go away. Would that monster that lives inside us revert and make us the brutes we once were?

Please find the article below about the Irish slaves

The Irish Slave Trade – The Forgotten “White” Slaves

The Slaves That Time Forgot
By John Martin
They came as slaves; vast human cargo transported on tall British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by the hundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children.
Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. They were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives.
We don’t really need to go through all of the gory details, do we? After all, we know all too well the atrocities of the African slave trade. But, are we talking about African slavery?
King James II and Charles I led a continued effort to enslave the Irish. Britain’s famed Oliver Cromwell furthered this practice of dehumanizing one’s next door neighbor.
The Irish slave trade began when James II sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.
Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.
From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade. Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well.
During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.
Many people today will avoid calling the Irish slaves what they truly were: Slaves. They’ll come up with terms like “Indentured Servants” to describe what occurred to the Irish. However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle.
As an example, the African slave trade was just beginning during this same period. It is well recorded that African slaves, not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology and more expensive to purchase, were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts.
African slaves were very expensive during the late 1600s (50 Sterling). Irish slaves came cheap (no more than 5 Sterling). If a planter whipped or branded or beat an Irish slave to death, it was never a crime. A death was a monetary setback, but far cheaper than killing a more expensive African.
The English masters quickly began breeding the Irish women for both their own personal pleasure and for greater profit. Children of slaves were themselves slaves, which increased the size of the master’s free workforce. Even if an Irish woman somehow obtained her freedom, her kids would remain slaves of her master. Thus, Irish moms, even with this new found emancipation, would seldom abandon their kids and would remain in servitude.
In time, the English thought of a better way to use these women (in many cases, girls as young as 12) to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls with African men to produce slaves with a distinct complexion. These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled the settlers to save money rather than purchase new African slaves.
This practice of interbreeding Irish females with African men went on for several decades and was so widespread that, in 1681, legislation was passed “forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.” In short, it was stopped only because it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company.
England continued to ship tens of thousands of Irish slaves for more than a century. Records state that, after the 1798 Irish Rebellion, thousands of Irish slaves were sold to both America and Australia.
There were horrible abuses of both African and Irish captives. One British ship even dumped 1,302 slaves into the Atlantic Ocean so that the crew would have plenty of food to eat.
There is little question that the Irish experienced the horrors of slavery as much (if not more in the 17th Century) as the Africans did. There is, also, very little question that those brown, tanned faces you witness in your travels to the West Indies are very likely a combination of African and Irish ancestry.
In 1839, Britain finally decided on it’s own to end it’s participation in Satan’s highway to hell and stopped transporting slaves. While their decision did not stop pirates from doing what they desired, the new law slowly concluded THIS chapter of nightmarish Irish misery.
But, if anyone, black or white, believes that slavery was only an African experience, then they’ve got it completely wrong.
Irish slavery is a subject worth remembering, not erasing from our memories. But, where are our public (and PRIVATE) schools???? Where are the history books? Why is it so seldom discussed?
Do the memories of hundreds of thousands of Irish victims merit more than a mention from an unknown writer? Or is their story to be one that their English pirates intended: To (unlike the African book) have the Irish story utterly and completely disappear as if it never happened.
None of the Irish victims ever made it back to their homeland to describe their ordeal. These are the lost slaves; the ones that time and biased history books conveniently forgot.

Some More Reading: