Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I was wondering if this latest salmonella outbreak might of been what got Connie and some of her family sick a few weeks ago? She ended up having a big- time vomiting and poop event that put her down for about 3 days.

Her mother and a few of her other relatives got the same thing. They all were involved in a little food event at her mothers house but not everybody got sick. The map on the Sacramento Bee web site only shows one case of salmonella up here, but you have to wonder if there was only one reported?

Maybe not, though, as I've heard from people outside the state that complained of some stomach bug. Maybe it was just a stomach flu?

As an aside, something I learned while looking into this salmonella thing: I guess there's a potential outbreak of it each spring due to kids handling baby chickens and ducks that are passed around and given away during Easter. The Center for Disease Control say kids under five should never handle baby chicks and ducks because of the salmonella threat.

I never knew that.


The Crescent City Tsunami

The Triplicate started their six part series today on the tsunami that hit Crescent City in 1964. It was news to me that the earthquake that spawned the wave was a 9.2 magnitude quake. I was always under the impression it was only a 6 something on the richter scale.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Weed, CA & Tyler, Texas...

who are you?

I occasionally check the statistics on my hit counter to see how many people are coming here and where they're located. There's two people that pique my curiosity because they seem to visit this blog nearly every day.

One is from Weed, CA and seems to come straight here. The other is from Tyler, Texas and usually seems to come here from other local blog sites.

Who are you two?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gottschalks Going Commie?

Maybe, according to this news report. If that Chinese company buys it, they may not have to liquidate.

Then again, there's no mention of what Shandong plans on doing with the stores if they do end up buying them. You can't help but feel a bit suspicious of the Chinese after they way they seemed to have taken the money and run with Evergreen Pulp.

I suppose I'll be happy for any Gottschalks employees that might get to keep their jobs, but I'll still be concerned over more and more of the country falling into Chinese hands.
As an aside, I first heard about this yesterday on the Times- Standard web site as breaking news. Got up today expecting to see it on the T-S front page but it wasn't there. Finally saw mention of it in the business section but couldn't find that mention on their web site.

Maybe this isn't all that important of a news story? Maybe it happens all the time?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Since a number of other libertarian oriented blogs have posted this Youtube video, I figured I'd do the same. It shows a member of the European Parliment, Daniel Hanna, chastising England's Prime Minister over his fiscal policies. Quite funny, from my point of view.

Not sure if the Prime Minister is actually present, or if the speaker is addressing him in general:

May Ballot Measures Fate Uncertain

It's probably too early to say for sure, but polls are showing most voters oppose the ballot measures scheduled to be on the ballot for the special election in May. The one exception being Prop 1F.

I think I agree with the current majority in favor of Prop 1F, which blocks pay raises for state elected officials when the state is running a deficit. Of course, the way I see it, that means most elected officials will probably never get a pay raise, at least in my lifetime.

Meanwhile, the Sacramento Bee reports sides are starting to be drawn as far as who is for and who is against the propositions. In a rare instance of agreement, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is siding with a couple of government employee unions against Prop 1A. They might be on the same side, but no doubt have different reasons for opposing the measure.

As for myself, I'm still not sure just how I'll vote on any of the props but 1F

A Teacher Talks About Teachers

A long- time teacher takes a look at the recent politics behind his profession in today's Los Angeles Times.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Last Frost of the Year?

I'm wondering if this will be the last frost, at least in Eureka, this spring?

I was thinking the last expected day for frost was the middle of March, but I wasn't sure. You usually find rough estimates of the last day of frost in seed catalogs, but this table from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (.pdf file) makes it seem a little more complicated.

They break it down into probabilities and even further into low temperature expectations. So, the simplest way to put it is there's a 90% chance of the last frost date being around February 14. A 50% chance of it being around March 18 and a 10% chance of it being around April 19.

This seed catalog frost table says the last average frost around here in Spring is March 14. That goes along with my recollection.

I can't, for the life of me, remember when the last Spring frost was last year. Can anyone remember when that was?

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Zoning Goes to Ballot in Ukiah

I really like the way the Ukiah Daily Journal does these videos where they cover different issues around Mendocino County. The one below has UDJ Editor, K.C. Meadows talking about a movement to rezone an industrial area in Ukiah.

Sounds like it might be similar to the Walmart rezoning we had up here a few years ago and she mentions our issue. You can see some of their other videos here, including the one where she talks about her chemotherapy due to cancer.

Too bad more newspapers don't do videos like this:

Food Stamps

The Times- Standard reports Food for People is trying to get everyone who is eligible to enroll in the Food Stamp program. It might surprise some to know I've never had too much of a problem with food stamps. I figure it's the least we can do to provide food to people in need.

It might also surprise some to know it's actually more difficult to qualify for food stamps than it is to qualify for MediCal or the County Medical Services Program.

We applied for food stamps a couple years ago after a particularly brutal month in regards work and travel to UCSF. It rained and rained and I wasn't working. Then, we had to go to UCSF for a consultation. To add insult to injury, not only did we have to stay two nights because the roads were snowed over, we had to return to UCSF a week later.

Then it rained and rained more when we returned and I basically only got about a week's work done that month. I was starting to worry we might not have enough money to buy food so, when we reapplied for MediCal, I went ahead and applied for food stamps and we eventually both qualified.

I pretty much just used them when cash was low. One month I didn't use food stamps at all and I received a letter from the Welfare Dept. shortly thereafter advising me that if I didn't use the food stamps by a certain date, I'd be taken off food stamps.

I say "I" because with food stamps you have to file a quarterly income report. Once Connie ended up on Social Security Disability, they threw her off food stamps, saying she couldn't get food stamps if she was on SSD (I know. Go figure. I asked about that but never got a response).

So, I got them for a while longer and used them. Then I filled out the quarterly report one time and sent it in. I was advised shortly thereafter I was being dropped from the Food Stamp program because I'd made too much money.

What a surprise. I make too much money? Oh well.

Anyway, the qualifications for all these social programs were made up some 30 years ago, I was told by one of the social workers, and it shows. For food stamps, you can't have more than $2000 in the bank (or cash on hand) to qualify.

That might seem doable for someone working for minimum wage and living in the Eureka Housing Authority projects but it's very difficult when you're self- employed and need money stored away for business or travel purposes.

For MediCal you can have up to $3000 in the bank. Interesting that the amount allowed for MediCal is greater than for food stamps, isn't it? Especially with all the stories I've heard about how easy it is to get food stamps.

They also look at your income. I'm not sure just how Food Stamps compares with MediCal but I think they might have roughly the same income formula since I don't recall two formulas.

Basically, they take your mortgage or rent costs and the costs of your utilities (water,power and phone). Add $600.00 to that and that's how much you supposedly can live on. If you make a certain amount more than that, you either get a reduction in food stamps or get booted altogether.

MediCal works slightly different than food stamps: If you make more than rent + utilities+ $600, they put you on Share of Cost. That basically means that the difference between rent plus utilities minus what you earned a particular month is what your share of cost towards medical care is. So, you basically spend any extra money you make on medical care until MediCal or CMSP takes over.

Both are unpleasant systems to deal with but it has always surprised me how the qualifications for food stamps were higher (higher= lower for purposes here: $3000 vs. $2000) than for MediCal. You'd think they'd be pretty much the same, or at the very least that it would be easier to qualify for free food than free medical care.

HSU Alumni Breaks Kayak Record

You'd never catch me pulling a stunt like this, but some former HSU student seems to have broken the record for a kayak descent.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Going Galt?

Looks like the libertarian classic Atlas Shrugged is getting some attention again, at least according to some folks like CLS over at the Classically Liberal blog. I don't know that sales are "skyrocketing"- a term CLS used.

Still, nice to see some interest picking up in Ayn Rand's work. Will Going Galt become a more common place term? Only time will tell.

If you decide to try reading it, a word of warning: The first chapter's a bear to get through. At least it was for me.

As an aside, I heard something about Atlas Shrugged coming out as a movie. Anyone heard anything further on that? I also heard there was a movie based on the book was filmed way back when, but I've never seen it.

Along this same line, here's an old interview of the late Milton Friedman by Phil Donahue discussing the virtues of selfishness. Hat tip to Leonidas for the heads up on the video:

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Gas Station Closures Loom

According to the Sacramento Bee, there could be a lot of gas stations going out of business because they might not be able to afford a pump upgrade meant to curb vapor emissions. Just what we need in these tough times, huh?

It's hard for me to believe the upgrades cost $11,000 per pump. You can't help but wonder if the price is that high because the gas stations have no choice in the matter but to buy them.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More Taxes, More Spending

Not content with passing what might well be the biggest state tax increase in history, Democrats in our state legislature assure us they're not done yet. New taxes and tax increases are still being proposed. The Sacramento Bee lists some of the proposals.

As always, if asked for a login to the Bee site, you can use humboldtlib as a username and blogspot for a password.
The San Diego Union- Tribune also makes mention of the new tax proposals this morning, recommending state leaders focus on spending, not revenue. One interesting quote about the latest budget from their commentary:

"...more than half the $15 billion in “cuts” were actually a reduction in projected future spending increases."

Hmmm...a reduction in spending increases being called "cuts". What a surprise? NOT, although I had wondered just how much of what I was hearing involved actual cuts.
Along that same line, Pete du Pont looks at two different states in the Wall Street Journal today. He compares California and Delaware- Delaware having past history similar to California's sordid spending practices.

Delaware rose above those practices and put their house in order. We've seen what's become of California following the old spending habits of Delaware. What a mess.

So which state is the Obama administration seem to be using as a model for its economic polices, according to du Pont? California, of course.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Scary: I Couldn't Wake Up

An almost scary situation this morning in a dream, if you can believe it. I don't know that I'd ever had this happen before:

I finally get back to sleep this morning. It was an hour or so before wake up time. I ended up in one of my usual less than pleasant, but not really a nightmare- type dreams. The common theme in these dreams is trying to travel somewhere and not getting anywhere.

It was one of those dreams where I must actually be at least partly awake as I knew I was dreaming.

Finally, after dealing with the same stuff going on over and over again in the dream, I told myself it was getting old and I should get up and put an end to it. Problem was, I couldn't wake up. I started getting nervous and was asking people present in the dream if they knew how I could wake up. Nobody answered.

This was getting scary. What if I'm trapped in this dream forever?

Eventually, I told myself I should at least roll over on my side in bed as I often do throughout the night. When I rolled myself over, I woke up.

Whew! That was a close one.

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The End of Family Farms?

I wrote a few days ago how small produce farmers are worried about the formation of a new federal bureaucracy that they'll have to report to. Turns out cattle farmers are facing the same sort of threat according to this commentary at dcexaminer.com.

I'd heard rumblings about this idea earlier on and, as the writer notes, no specific legislation has been introduced...yet. Small farmers mostly oppose the idea since they'd have to put a radio frequency tag on every head of livestock they own. Naturally, large cattle producers, some restaurants and companies that sell the necessary technology support the idea.

Wonder when they'll introduce legislation that all U.S. citizens get microchipped?

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CA Government Still Growing

Who'd a thunk that the state employee work force would actually grow, even during the last budget "crisis"? The Sacramento Bee says it did.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ending the 2/3 Majority Requirement

A rather odd guest editorial in today's Orange County Register. Unless I'm reading it wrong, the writer thinks we should get rid of California's 2/3 majority requirement for passing a budget, but not for raising taxes.

I might well agree, but I get the impression the writer assumes that would put an end to fiascos like our last budget battle. One of the reasons this last budget fight went on for so long, if not the biggest reason, was it would have required the largest state tax increase in the history.

It seems to me the 2/3 majority requirement he proposes wouldn't have changed a thing in regards this last budget fight.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Medical MJ Raids: Yes, or No?

Most people are aware of recent news that the Obama Administration indicated they'll be ending federal raids on medical marijuana clinics. This article in the L.A. Times says the U.S. Attorney down there ordered a ban on the raids, then lifted it shortly thereafter.

I've heard nothing in the news about this issue since. Wonder what's going on?

Friday, March 13, 2009

The End of Farmer's Markets?

This just in from the Redwood Peace and Justice Center. I was surprised that Paul Cienfuegos and the others would be troubled by this. I thought food regulation was a Lefty thing. Maybe I should pay more attention to their announcements in the future?

More troubling news from Washington. Please forward widely.
Paul Cienfuegos

What this will do is force anyone who produces food of any kind, and then transports it to a different location for sale, to register with a new federal agency called the "Food Safety Administration." Even growers who only sell only fruit and/or vegetables at farmers markets would not only have to register, but they would be subject inspections by federal agents of their property and all records related to food production. The frequency of these inspections will be determined by the whim of the Food Safety Administration. Mandatory "safety" records would have to be kept. Anyone who fails to register and comply with all of this nonsense could be facing a fine of up to $1,000,000 per violation.

I've bought food at several farmers markets for years and I have yet to meet any vendors who are fond of the government. I think it's pretty safe to say that most vendors at farmers markets won't go along with this. The problem will be that the people who run the farmers markets will be forced to make sure that vendors are "registered" with the government.

Is this Change we can believe in? Maybe it is for Obama's Secretary of Agriculture, Tom "I Fly with Monsanto" Vilsack.

For the rest of us, this is a nightmare.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Eureka's Campaign Finance Reform Proposals

Eureka City Council Dude Jeff Leonard's latest question on his Open Town Hall web site asks how you feel about limiting individual donations to local campaigns. Only seven votes, so far, and six are NO with my own vote being Maybe, although I'm more in line with the NO folks.

I think Ron Kuhnel and Nancy Abrams comments really bring home the point that city council members don't vote a certain way because of campaign contributions. They receive the contributions because of the type of candidate they are and positions on issues they already hold.

As Nancy Abrams pointed out, she got roughly the same percentage of votes both times she ran regardless of how much money she raised:

"Your base is your base, maybe? We live in a small community and it is not hard to make yourself known. Put yourself out there and let them know your philosophy and no amount of money will change their vote."- N Abrams

Agreed. Still, with all the talk about campaign finance reform going on in some circles, you'd think there would be at least one person with some kind of argument for limiting individual donations.

Where's The Sun?

I could of sworn the guy on KMUD radio yesterday said sunrise was around 6:30am today. The sun is nowhere to be seen as I write this.

I guess I must be remembering wrong? Either that, or he got his info from some source that didn't take Daylight Savings Time into consideration. That's hard to imagine.

As an aside, I was kind of surprised to hear an announcer on KMUD earlier in the day while he gave the weather forecast. He was going over the frost warning and ended it with something like this: "...until 10am PDT...hmmm...I have no idea what PDT means, do you?". The girl in the studio responds that she doesn't, either.

How can anyone not know that PDT stands for Pacific Daylight Time?

But there was one thing about that I didn't know: PDT is only used during Daylight Savings Time. The rest of the year it's referred to as Pacific Time, or Pacific Standard Time according to Wikipedia. I guess I never knew that because I hadn't paid much attention to the term before.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Beer: An American Revolution

Reason T.V. has produced a short video on beer making in America. It runs a bit over 6 minutes.

I didn't find it all that exciting except about half way through the video one of the guys doing the talking mentions some ground making moment in his dealings with beer while on a trip to Eureka and he stops by the Hopland Brewery on the way up here.

Thanks to Radley Balko at The Agitator blog for the heads up.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

California Teachers Well Paid

One thing that always irks me is the suggestion that Californians don't put enough money into education. Along that same line, we're told we don't pay our teachers enough. Well, all the school teachers I know seem to get along quite well.

The Orange County Register takes a look at teacher's pay and notes California teacher's pay is the highest in the nation.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Gore Effect

In honor of the International Conference on Climate Change that begins tomorrow in New York City, here's another fun editorial on global warming that was run recently by the Washington Times.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The New Speed Trap?

The Sacramento Bee's, Dan Walters, tell us of a new scheme being adopted by local governments to fill their coffers: Charging out- of- towners for emergency services. Fresno County Fire Protection District has already signed on. The City of Modesto is considering it.

As always, if asked for a login to the Sacramento Bee web site, you can use humboldtlib as a username and blogspot for a password.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Plastic Bag Recycling Clogging Up

I'd wondered if plastic shopping bags might end up in the same predicament as other recyclables. Looks like they are, according to today's Times- Standard, with fewer places accepting them for recycling.

I'm not one that thinks plastic bags are all that bad, as some do, but I do get a bit tired of having to deal with all the ones the wife brings home with her when she goes shopping. I kept suggesting she make some of her own reusable shopping bags but, for some reason, she never has.

I usually use paper bags but a few weeks ago I broke down and bought one of those shopping bags the stores were forced by the state to make available because some people didn't want so many plastic bags being used.

I bought my shopping bag at Winco. They only cost something like 89 cents and I figured I could use it when I go to the store to buy just a few things.

I love that bag! It can hold a lot more than you would think from just looking at it folded. I'd bet it could carry more than a paper shopping bag, at least if you take weight into consideration, and I'd also bet I could put a weeks worth of groceries into one or two of those bags.

One neat thing about having that bag is I don't have to hassle with a shopping cart most of the time I'm not doing weekly shopping. I just go straight in the exit door, bag in hand. I put whatever I'm buying in the bag and unload the bag at checkout and put everything back in again once all is paid for. Then sling the bag over my shoulder and walk to the truck.

Give those Winco shopping bags a try and you won't want to go shopping without one.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Most Free States

Thanks to CLS over at the Classically Liberal blog for the heads up on this George Mason University study that came up with an index showing which states are the most free. Unlike other indexes that only rate economic freedom, this one also rates personal, or social, freedoms.

Unfortunately, looks like the study and index itself is only available in .pdf format (hate it when they do that). You can download the .pdf file from here if interested. For those that don't want to go through the hassle of the .pdf file, here's the top ten free states in the U.S. :

1. New Hampshire

2. Colorado
3. South Dakota
4. Idaho
5. Texas
6. Missouri
7. Tennessee
8. Arizona
9. Virginia
10. North Dakota

Here's the least free states in the U.S.:

1. New York
2. New Jersey
3. Rhode Island
4. California
5. Maryland
6. Hawaii
7. Washington
8. Massachusetts
9. Illinois
10. Connecticut

As CLS notes, if some other factors were taken into consideration, some states would see their scores decline. Some might see theirs improve. Hey, no rating system is perfect.

Thanks to CLS for making the info available.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

North Coast Travelogue: 3/1-3/2

We went to UCSF Medical Center again on Sunday.

Glad I thought ahead and took the time to clean the windshield and apply Rain- X. That stuff really helps a lot with driving in the rain. I've found a lot of the time you can drive in the rain without using your windshield wipers when you have Rain-X applied.

No cure- all, and it still got kind of hairy Monday morning driving into The City when the mist from the cars ahead of me made it so hard to see, even with Rain-X and wipers going. Got a little hairy coming back up through North Mendocino and Southern Humboldt, too. Still, it would have been much worse without it.
I was surprised, Sunday morning, at the Eel River as we got into Mendocino County. You'd think, with the rain we've had over the last week, the river would be all muddy. In North Mendocino the Eel was almost clear green. I'm guessing it should be muddy now?
I keep hearing of people making reservations for lodging online. I'd become a bit skeptical since the last time we stayed at Day's Inn, Novato, I ended up paying $12.00 more making reservations through Wyndham Rewards than I would have if I would of made reservations directly through the motel.

Of course, I don't know that Wyndham Rewards claims to provide good rates. They just give you a free stay after you've acquired so many points through them. Still, I was wondering what the difference would be between making reservations online or just using the hotel's 800 number.

So, this time I went to the Day's Inn web site and brought up Day's Inn, Novato. They had the room we usually stay in for around $69.00 a night. Sitting at the computer, I called their 1-800 number and told them I was comparing prices. She told me she could give me the room for around $62.00 for the night.

Cool. I made the reservation directly through her and will continue to do so in the future. You might want to check on making reservations directly through the hotel if you normally make them online. You might save some money.
Coming back Sunday night the rain got heavy at times in North Mendocino and South Humboldt. I'll be the first to admit to finding driving at night, in the rain through curvy forested roads, frightening. I find Richardson Grove scary even during the daytime. It was real scary to me last night. Straightening out the road there still won't make it easy, but anything will be an improvement.
On a slight different take on the issue; Well said, what Kitt Mann wrote: Maintaining the restriction at Richardson Grove would be sort of like only allowing people to use dial-up Internet access or cars built before 1989 -- less efficient and less effective technologies.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Saving The News

The Los Angeles Times' David Lazarus thinks newspapers can, and should, charge readers for their online content. That might be the only way they'll survive.

I suppose I agree but have to wonder how much I would be willing to pay versus how much they end up charging? It also begs the question of what changes would have to be made in the blogosphere as we wouldn't be able to casually post links to newspaper web sites anymore. That could be a problem.