Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Trip To The Redwoods

I believe this is the first I've read of a bizarre incident down in Legget on July 16.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

So Long Jim Bernard

Such a shame to see Channel 3 News Weatherdude, Jim Bernard, have to step aside. At least we now know something of what was going on with him. We could tell something wasn't right.

I've been watching him on the news from way back. When he left Channel 6 (we used to have two local stations up here) to Channel 3, I followed him. He was a big part of the reason many of us watched local news on TV. It will be tough for whoever tries to fill his shoes.

It's good to know TV weather wasn't his only job and he'll continue working as airport director in Del Norte County.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

OH, NO!!!

We're doomed! The universe might tear itself apart. At least we still have some time left.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Humboldt Bulletin Board

I noticed a new listing on Humguide the other day.  A new online bulletin board for Humboldt County. Not sure if it will do much, being a Yahoo group, but that Humboldt Freecycle one really took off. Join up and let's see how it does.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Man To Mars: Why?

This guy makes a good point: Why should we spend so much money sending people to the moon and Mars? Nearly all the knowledge gained is of little practical use and could be duplicated using robots.

I'll have to admit being one of those who thinks heading to the stars is our destiny. On the more practical level, though, If the Cylons or The Borg ever find out where we are we'll likely need to get the heck out of here fast. Knowledge of manned space flight would certainly helpful in such an event.

Speaking of colonizing Mars, if you want to read a good book about it, try James Oberg's Mission To Mars. It's an oldie. I read it back when it was first published in '83. He's a NASA guy and tells how such a mission would likely take place. A fun and easy read as I remember it.

I wish I still had that book. It would be interesting to compare how he saw it to what we know today.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Yet Another Presidential Candidate Matcher

I think I like this one better than others I've posted about before. Click on the Try It Now link to take the test. It not only tells you what candidates you most closely identify with, but also what political party.

I also found the Results By State (below the Try It link) interesting. You click on a state and it tells you how that state breaks down by support for candidates and political parties. I'm not sure how they came up with those results as they don't ask any personal info to take their test. Must be from voter registration info or something along that line.

I was surprised to score 95% Gary Johnson, 93% Ron Paul and 82% McMillan, with others further down the line. I scored higher with Romney than Obama. They also gave me 95% compatibility with the Libertarian Party and 72% with the Republicans.

Anybody match the candidate most opposite of the one they were planning on voting for?

Summer School

Some retired military officers say that lack of summer school availability is affecting national security. Their idea being summer school would stop kids from just laying around, getting fat and not learning anything during summer vacation and thus be better prepared for military service. Still, I don't know that I'd wish summer school on anyone.

I hated summer school. It wasted 6 weeks of my summer vacation while everybody else was out screwing off. And it seemed to be just me. None of my friends went. It might not have been so bad if one or two people I knew had to go but, nope, it was always just me.

Adding insult to injury, I couldn't even go to my own school. Since a minority of kids attended, they'd consolidate summer school at one school in the district which wasn't the one I normally went to. So there I sat, in a school I'd never been in before, surrounded by people I didn't know. It sucked.

I can't think of anything I learned in summer school. The only class I specifically remember taking was Typing. I don't know that I ever learned to type in that class but I did remember finger placement on the keyboard- ASDFJKL- all my life. That made it easier to learn typing on my own as an adult...maybe.

Then there was that one fight back in 6th or 7th grade summer school. Well, not actually a fight. I just got knocked out cold.

During recess we were playing four square and this little black kid kept walking straight up to the front of the line. Everybody was telling him, "No cutting!". He'd still cut to the front of the line and no one stopped him.

Taking charge, I grabbed him lightly by the arm and said something like, "C'mon. It's not cool to cut to the front of the line". I tried to lead him to the back of the line and that was all I remember.

I woke up laying on the ground and could see the back sides of all the kids going back to class as recess was over. Nobody waiting behind to see if I was ok. No concern from them about the guy that tried to step up and stop the kid from cutting. So much for trying to be the hero.

The left side of my throat hurt. Apparently, he punched me right where my throat met my jaw and knocked me out for who knows how long. I wasn't just hurt, but humiliated.

After school that day I was walking out in front by the parking lot and saw that little black kid waiting for a ride. He never gave me a second glance. I suppose us white boys all looked the same to him. I quickly crossed the street and scurried home never to see that kid again.

A fitting last memory of summer school.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mercatus' State Freedom Index

I'm not sure I've seen this before. The Mercatus Center has a freedom index of all 50 states. Criteria includes such things as marijuana and business laws. California ranks 48 overall. No surprise there. Their analysis even points out how a state can improve its freedom rating.

You can click on the map to get a breakdown on other states.

Hat tip to the Rational Review News Digest for the link. Subscribing to RRND is free. You'll receive their news digest in your inbox Monday through Friday, or you can just read it online.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Miami Herald Does Gary Johnson

Short but sweet, the Miami Herald published a really nice piece on Gary Johnson. If more of the larger papers gave him this sort of coverage maybe he'd get somewhere?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Rain

I love it. I wish this happened more often. Maybe once a week.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The November Ballot Initiatives

This November's ballot initiatives now have numbers assigned. I'm assuming from the way the Oakland Tribune wrote it this is it and no more will be added? Let's take a look at them:

Prop 30- The Governor's tax increase proposal. Sales and income tax increase:

I'm voting NO despite being one who thinks we may well have to raise taxes to balance the budget. The legislature funding the start of the High Speed Rail project was the straw that broke this camel's back, and that's not the only example of the legislature showing no sense of fiscal responsibility. Why give them more money to play with?

Prop 31- Establishes a two year budget cycle:

Yes. Might save some money and makes the budget only a two year headache.

Prop 32- Union and corporate contribution limits:

I believe the Tribune describes this initiative wrong. It says it prohibits unions using members' dues for political campaigns. Unless I'm mistaken, it just requires unions to get the members permission before using their dues for campaigns.

I'll likely vote Yes, although it probably won't amount to much after all is said and done. Everyone can still contribute to campaigns in any number of other ways. I'm not a big believer in campaign finance restrictions, anyway. I suppose I could just stand aside.

Prop 33- Auto Insurance Changes:

"Drivers could switch insurers and keep loyalty discounts, but those who allow their insurance to lapse could face steep hikes."- so says the OT description. Whatever. I'm not sure I like the idea of voters setting insurance rates. I'll sit on this one but I'm leaning towards a No vote.

Prop 34- Replaces death penalty with life without parole:

I helped gather signatures for this one so I'll be voting Yes. Among other things, it will save money.

Prop 35- Enhances penalties for human sex trafficking:

No opposition, yet, according to the OT. One reason is it's so non- politically correct to oppose any increase in penalties for crimes that involve sex in any way. Go public against something like this and you're likely to be accused of child molest or sex trafficking yourself.

Well, let me be one of the first. I'll be voting NO because I'm sick of feel- good laws that duplicate laws we already have and amount to solutions in search of a problem. That's not to say there aren't sex related crimes taking place. We just already have ways to deal with them.

Prop 36- Amends Three Strikes Law:

Changes the Three Strikes Law so that third strike has to be a serious, violent felony to qualify for life in prison. Didn't we already vote on this? I suppose I'll vote Yes, with reservations. Some of these guys should probably spend life in prison even if the third strike isn't violent.

Prop 37- Genetically Modified Foods labeling requirement:

I'm sympathetic with the idea, if only because I like to be able to see what's in food I eat. I don't really care whether it's genetically modified, though. I don't like throwing in with the food labeling hysteria, either. I don't like food producers being asked to add more and more to labels that most people don't even read. I'm leaning toward voting NO or just standing aside. 

Prop 38- Tax increase for schools only:

Molly Munger's counter to the Governor's tax increases. I'll vote NO if only because we have more than enough spending formulas holding our budget hostage as it is.

Prop 39- Tax increase for multi- state businesses:

Gets rid of a so- called loophole where businesses from out of state can choose what method they get taxed by. Seems like just another California anti- business rant to me. Businesses here are already facing what could be substantial tax increases from the cap and trade scheme where they get punished for emissions. I'll likely vote NO unless someone comes up with a compelling reason to do otherwise. It's either NO, or stand aside.

Prop 40- Referendum on State Senate districts:

This would nullify the new districts created by that newly formed redistricting commission. No real benefit from either a Yes or No vote. I'll be standing aside just as I did on the initiative that formed that redistricting commission in the first place.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What is.....Jeopardy?

I don't watch Jeopardy much anymore but still consider myself a fan. I've always wondered how they find the contestants and put the show together. Anybody else?

Here's a fun read by a guy that was a contestant- and winner- on Jeopardy, albeit over 20 years ago. I'm sure it's changed a little since then. One thing I never knew was that the audience consists of contestants waiting their turn to play.

He also wrote a piece on how to win at Jeopardy, although I'm not sure anybody would be all that much better prepared for the game after reading it, except for his tips on handling the buzzer.

I used to think I was pretty good at Jeopardy. I've gotten much worse with age as I don't seem to get many answers right anymore. I thought I'd take a shot at the online contestant quiz they use to screen contestants on the show. Unfortunately, those were closed. did have a version of the contestant quiz linked on their site yesterday. I only scored 63% and that was guessing at probably half the answers. I guess you won't be seeing me on the show.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

New Book By Gary Johnson

Not yet released, but Libertarian Party Presidential candidate, Gary Johnson has a new book coming out: The Seven Principles of Good Government. You can pre- order your copy here.

Those "Heroic" Drone Pilots

Glenn Greenwald has another great piece up at Salon magazine taking a look at efforts to award medals to drone pilots who often work hundreds or thousands of miles from the battlefield.

More nice work by Greenwald. I hadn't read much from him until recently but I'm becoming a fast fan. Link was courtesy of

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

CalTrans Beats EPIC

Hooray! Looks like the court ruled against the Environmental Protection Information Center in their lawsuit to stop the Richardson Grove realignment. I'm actually surprised. Common sense would dictate EPIC's suit was bogus, but after the judge came to the grove and quibbled over which trees were what diameter, I wondered if sanity would prevail.

Other than that, it's not too big a deal. They're not really going to do much to the road after all is said and done. I'm just glad to see EPIC get bitch slapped for a change.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Internet Blackout Monday?

Some of you may have heard that there could be an internet blackout on Monday for some computer users due to a malware problem. Here's a more detailed explanation.

There's some links at the bottom of the story where your can check your computer's DNS settings. I just used McCaffee's online tool to check mine. Took just a second and it told me my system is fine. Is yours?

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Obama's Accomplishments

I found this piece from the Huffington Post a fun read. A not quite tongue- in- cheek list of President Obama's accomplishments by David Boaz.

Friday, July 06, 2012

High Speed Rail Boondoggle Approved

They actually did it. The Democrats approved funding for the initial laying of line for the high speed rail line in the Central Valley. If nothing else, this leaves no question that the Democrats hold the lion's share of the blame for the fiscal wreck this state is in, and the even worse that's yet to come.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Chickadee House Update

You may recall back in April I reported on a new chickadee house I built and put up in one of the apple trees in our back yard. It was hard to tell if the chickadees were actually nesting in it this time. One day we'd see mama and papa going back and forth to the nest, sometimes carrying nesting materials. Other times, it seemed we wouldn't see them for days.

I wasn't absolutely sure they used the box until yesterday morning. I put a ladder up and tapped on the box first. If you hear peeps that means the chicks are still inside. No peeps, so I opened up the box and found this nest.

They seem to have used some kind of animal fur for the top layer. The bottom seems to be made from wood shavings, or maybe shredded palm tree leaves. Pretty neat, huh? Now that the box is cleaned out, they'll hopefully come back to nest in it again next year.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Fred's Garden Update

Some of you might recall I've been clearing out my old garden area after letting it go for about ten years. I cleared out even more this last year but the problem of morning glory and blackberries remains. 

I wasn't quite sure what to do as spring came around. I was tempted to let the beds sit and spend the summer trying to clear the weeds that keep popping up. After all, what's the point in planting vegetables if the berries and morning glory pop up right in the middle of them? I finally decided to make a go at planting a few things. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Here's what it looks like now. I started out with bush peas which you can't really see on the backside of the potato plant because there's not much left. They were a flop. Slugs and snails got to them from a start. What was left didn't do well and I gave up.
There's some onions scattered in front of them and in the bed to the back and right. They haven't done well, either. I think it's either a nematode or onion maggot problem. 

You can see the funky trellises I made for Blue Lake pole beans. They're just starting to climb up the netting. They're doing ok but I lost a bunch on the row to the left due to slugs and snails.

Out a bit further, you can see some of the broccoli with a zucchini in the middle. I grew two zucchini plants this time. Hardly any fruit on them yet. What's with that?

The broccoli is doing pretty well, despite a rough start. About the only problem is it looks like most of them are going to mature around the same time. I wanted the harvest spread out a bit more. Funny that I tried planting them weeks apart but they still mature the same time.

We had the large head to the left for dinner last night.

For once I've had no problem with cabbage worms or loopers. Unlike last year, I applied Bacillus Thuringises a couple times this time. Probably in a bit stronger dose than recommended. They say to use it every two weeks, but I sprayed it last time over a month ago and no caterpillars are to be seen.

This picture shows the zucchini with some fave beans on the far side. To the left of those favas I just planted another bunch of favas that haven't come up through the ground yet.

Here's from the far side of the yard looking back towards the greehouse. Doesn't look so bad from here, huh?

Here you can see the lame fence the neighbors put up a while back. It turned out to be a bit of a blessing. We helped clear the area for the fence. It used to be filled with a sprawling banksea rose with ivy  and other weeds overgrown through it- never mind the old fence.

Once the fence was up, it actually made the yard look bigger, probably just because of the clearing we did. That gave us the idea to clear out even more to give us a bunch more gardening space. It's taken me a few days but I've cleared it out to the old compost piles (far end of picture). The debris on the bottom right is part of what I cleard. It's laying on the old banksea rose.

We both enjoy artichokes so we're thinking of cramming this whole new area full of artichoke plants. We'll have to wait and see what sort of stuff pops up after the soil gets wet again. I'm sure there will be all kinds of berries and morning glory that I've missed.

Here's a close up of the far end of the picture. Towards the back is my old wooden compost bins (covered with berries and morning glory) and to the left what used to be a cleared area I grew tomatoes in years ago. That's kind of what the cleared area looked like before we cleaned it up. Now I've got to work my way through to the left about ten feet and I'll have yet more freed up space. After that I'll have to fight the stuff growing out of the old compost bins.

Not sure if I'll plant any more veggies in the near future. I will try and start some brussell sprouts in a couple months so we can have some for winter or early spring. I botched my attempt at brussell sprouts last year.

These six packs are my last planting for now. They're dwarf marigolds "Sparky". I like them cause they only grow to about 6" and add color to the garden, along with repelling some pests. I'll fill in some empty spots with them. They should pop up out of the soil by Friday or Saturday.

So that's it for now. I'll be working on clearing the weeds and brambles all summer and beyond, I'm sure.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Open Office: How Rude!

Some time ago I got rid of MS Office and installed Open Office, that free open source word processing program. I've generally been satisfied with it, until I downloaded the first upgrade yesterday. Now, every time I boot up the computer, Open Office starts.

HOW RUDE! I realize it's a free program but I can't imagine why anyone would want a word processing program to start on boot up? If anything, running on start should be an option, not the default. I didn't see anything on installation that gave the option of having it start on boot up. Maybe I missed it?

I've been trying to figure out how to make it stop. Found an Open Office icon in my start menu and thought I removed it by dragging it to the desktop (worried about registry errors if I deleted it). Nope. It still opens once the computer boots up. Can't find any reference to this in its Help section. Any suggestions?