Wednesday, January 31, 2007

We Know What's Best For You

Once again the bright minds in Sacramento have decided they know what's best for us. Now some are trying to ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs in California, the reasoning being that compact fluorescents (CFLs) are more energy efficient, among other things.

I actually prefer to use CFLs myself, assuming the light fixture will accept them. Hey, anything to save money on energy sounds good to me.

Problem is, many of our light fixtures don't accept them. Not only that but contrary to claims made by the ban proponents, I've found CFLs often don't last more than a few months, if that. Sure makes me wonder about the supposed energy cost savings when you consider the cost of CFL bulbs.

And I love the comment in the SacBee article from the guy from Citizens Against Waste:
"We're not telling consumers what to do, we're ending a technology that's obsolete,".

It's shouldn't be government or the Citizens Against Waste's function to put an end to obsolete technology. That decision should rest with the consumer.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hislop Joins Gallegos

Who'd a thunk it possible? What I thought was a pretty hard core Eureka Police Dude, Sergeant Mike Hislop, has bailed from Eureka P.D. and signed on with the district attorney's office as Chief Investigator.

I can't help but think there's more to this than meets the eye but, for D.A. Paul Gallegos, this has to be the first half decent recruitment his office has made since he took office. As far as Hislop is concerned, I would of thought peer pressure alone would have made him think twice about signing up with Gallegos.

The Weather

I guess I must have really "jumped the shark"- or however someone put it some time ago- with this blog if all I can write about is the weather, but I have to vent about this crappy weather we've had in Eureka for however long. I'm sick of this cold weather with the added insult to injury of the fog we've had of late.

There doesn't seem to be any change in store soon, although does show it getting maybe a little warmer as we get into February. I'll believe it when I see it.

Eric Kirk mentioned the other day, on his post about the Clam Beach Run, that the Little River was lower than he remembered it being last time he ran. That got me to thinking that it hasn't really rained in some time. Might we be facing another drought, the last one we had ending back in '92?

Apparently some are thinking we might be, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. I guess we're short of rain around the state, with the north part of the state faring slightly better than the south. One thing in that Chron story was a bit of a surprise: I thought that last drought lasted around ten years. The Chron article says it was only six years. Just another sign of my failing memory.

The Chron story once again illustrates the geographical confusion of the media in regards to the state. They apparently consider Redding part of Northwest California, mentioning some Redding weather stats with no mention of Eureka.

I kind of wondered how Eureka was faring compared to the rest of the state. Thanks to the Times- Standard (hard copy version) I can see Eureka's gotten 17.06 inches of rain since July 1. That's down from the norm of 21.47 inches. I think that's over 60% so I guess we're close to Redding.

It will be interesting to see if we still end up getting a wet spring after this miserably cold dry winter. All I really care about, though, is that it starts warming up a bit.

Harbor Freight Tools- Part 2

Actually, probably not as much about Harbor Freight Tools as about something I bought from them. I already mentioned my first order of disposable earplugs that took nine days to get here from Southern California.

A little over a week ago I ordered a trailer kit from Harbor Freight since I needed to replace my old work trailer that got wrecked. The one Harbor freight had available was the same kind of trailer I'd been using: A "kit" trailer. That's one you have to assemble. The one I'd been using, though, was one I'd bought from someone who'd already assembled it.

It just arrived yesterday, taking six business days to get here from SoCal. Better than my first order but not nearly as good as something I ordered from another company down south that made it here in three days.

The first disappointment was coming home and expecting to see a partially assembled trailer sitting in my driveway. There were just two medium size boxes sitting there. BUMMER!

For some reason I was under the impression that these things came at least partially assembled and all I'd probably have to deal with was adding a deck, sideboards and such to it. Where I got that impression I don't know. Maybe it's because every picture I'd seen of the trailer showed it pretty much assembled except for the deck and sideboards.

Also, the trailer I've been borrowing from the father- in- law was one he got partially assembled at Costco. All he had to do was but a deck and sideboards on his.

So, not only am I bumbed I'm going to spend a lot of time and effort putting this together, I'm worried how hard it will be. I'm sure we've all bought things we had to assemble and were amazed at how difficult the instructions for assembly are to follow. I wasn't to be surprised.

Taking a quick look at the instructions, it looked like they were doable, even for me. Opening the boxes gave me my first shocker: Not one part appeared to have any part number or id on them. The instructions are what you would expect: Attach part 1L to part 3B using the "3/8 bolt...., but none of the parts have any identification on them and many of them look similar. GREAT!

But, I was able to rise to the occasion. I spread the parts out as best I could on my driveway and finally got some vague idea as to how the thing goes together. Just as I started trying to put the thing together I got my next surprise- something I'd never seen before:

There were two plastic bags of nuts and bolts in the shipment, with no identifying marks. I finally figured those were the nuts and bolts that would connect most of the trailer parts. I figured they probably required a 5/8" wrench or ratchet. I was right, at least in part.

The bolt was indeed 5/8", but when I tried using a 5/8" wrench to secure the nut while attaching them the wrench didn't seem to fit the nut. I take a closer look and the nut is a different size than the bolt. I look at the other sizes of ratchets I have available and realize there's no way they're the right size. Then I thought to myself, "No way these nuts are metric are they..." only having a handful of metric ratchet heads in my tool kit.

I tried a few of my metrics to see if they fit and, sure enough, the nuts were 17mm as opposed to the 5/8" bolts. Unbelievable. Why would anyone do that? It's one thing, as I'm sure we've all seen more and more with cars, where you run into a certain part on a car that might use metric fasteners, while another uses standard size connectors, but to have a nut and bolt different sizes?

What is it with the Chinese (Like everything else, this trailer is Made in China)?

Once again just moved on and actually found it kind of nice that the 17mm ratchet works on the 3/8 bolt but not vice versa. Small consolation but consolation nonetheless.

Anyway, just started with this yesterday afternoon and got close to half way through the front part of the trailer in about an hour and a half, which included laying out all the parts to figure out how they fit together. Still, this is going to take a while.

What really gets me is the insurance company got one over on me as they really nitpicked their assesment of how much they would pay. I agreed at the start and then suggested I should get paid for time spent putting the trailer together. The insurance gal said she couldn't authorize that but I could talk to her supervisor about it. I decided not to make a fuss over it since how long would it really take to add a deck and sideboards to the trailer? I wasn't thinking about a couple of full days work.

Oh and learn.

Depending on how much of a headache this ends up being, I was wondering if I could buy another one of these trailers, assemble it, and sell it for a profit? Think that would work?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Dealing With Forest Critters

The mountain lion attack of the couple up at Prairie Creek is still in the news with the Sacramento Bee running a nice feel- good editorial on the incident. (As always, if asked for login, use humboldtlib as the username and blogspot for the password.)

Our very own John Driscoll wrote his own feel- good commentary on the incident in the Times- Standard this morning, John being the one who wrote the first Times- Standard coverage of the attack.

I'll have to say, I don't mind inspirational type feel- good commentaries. Don't get me wrong, but it seems something's been missing in all the talk about these animal attacks. With all the talk dealing with potential dangers in the wilds, why do so many people seem afraid to suggest carrying a firearm while walking in the woods?

Finally, after the Times- Standard published some of the online comments on Driscoll's first story, I see at least a couple folks agree with me. Still, it's a shame that such a common sense protection measure is left out of most commentary and I suspect that's mostly with an eye toward political correctness on the media's part.

A word of warning, though: I believe it might be illegal to possess firearms in national parks. They might be illegal in state parks, as well. Still, as they say: better tried by twelve than carried by six....
In my early days of backpacking, when I was just a kid, I never carried a gun and don't recall ever having any serious problems.

Once I got older and had acquired a number of firearms I nearly always carried a handgun with me. I got to thinking what a hassle it was. It was heavy, at least by backpacking standards, and I only used it once, firing twice into a tree to scare off an overly familiar bear at One Mile Lake in the Marble Mountain Wilderness.

I finally decided to leave my pistol at home deciding it wasn't worth the extra weight. The first trip I took without it was up to Canyon Creek Lakes in the Trinity Alps. No danger that trip that I was aware of but I couldn't honestly say I noticed the saved weight from not carrying the gun.

A few hours after I got home a friend called. He asked me if I'd been up at Canyon Creek Lakes and just when I'd been there. It turned out that while I was there, just about an hour or two timewise, in the same place on Canyon Creek, a guy was shot and killed.

Some of you old timers (this was in the early eighties) might remember the guy who got killed worked for Fish and Game, out of Arcata, and was up there hiking with his wife. They met some guy and didn't think much of it. The guy came back a short time later, with a rifle.

He started shooting and killed the husband. The wife jumped over the side of the trail down to the river bed and got away. She made it back to the trailhead and eventually the Sheriff was contacted. They arrested the shooter some days later in either Weaverville or Redding. I forget which.

Boy, that kind of got to me. The first time I decided not to carry my gun and I was within an hour or two of possibly needing it.

I wasn't sure of the exact location the killing occured at but I was right in the area, as best I could determine from what I'd read, within an hour or so of the shooting. I don't recall hearing or seeing a thing and didn't recall seeing any couple walking in as I walked out. How'd I miss them?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Humboldt Whaling

Interesting story on one of the big players in Humboldt's commercial fishing [and whaling] industry in today's Times- Standard. Frankly, I don't think I'd ever heard of Gib Hunter before, despite having lived up here almost 34 years.

What I was surprising to me was being reminded that whaling took place here all the way up until 1970. For some reason, in the back of my mind, I always was under the impression it ended decades earlier.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Not quite sure to make of today's My Word piece by Denver Nelson. He lists a number of things around Humboldt County he seems to find confusing. In closing, he notes that our Congressman, Mike Thompson, has been appointed to the House Intelligence Committee.

Not sure why he points that out. Is that supposed to be deemed as odd as he finds the other items he lists, or is he suggesting Mike Thompson is supposed to be here in Humboldt trying to work on all these supposed odd problems? If the latter, what exactly does Dr. Nelson think Thompson is supposed to do?

Seems to me most of the things Dr. Nelson mentions are local issues, not federal. At least they're supposed to be.

Friday, January 26, 2007


As much hate filled commentary as I've seen in the comments about politics in the local blogosphere in Humboldt, I'm surprised we don't see things happening more along the lines of what happens in other countries like Spain.

The story begs the question of how the guy managed to serve twelve years as Mayor.

Thanks to the Classically Liberal blog for the heads up on this story.

Gridlock Is Good?

I've said before that I like gridlock in government, at least most of the time. So, it came as a pleasant surprise to see the Humboldt County Association Of Governments once again in gridlock regarding allowing indian tribes representation in the HCAOG.

I'll admit that, despite not following the issue all that closely, I'm pretty much opposed to the tribes having a seat on the HCAOG. I think they have more than enough power already, albeit through the indian casinos which some claim isn't the same thing.

I'd figured that with Bonnie Neely giving Roger Rodoni the boot from the Association, and her taking his place, that would break the tie votes and the tribes would finally win. I'd never thought about Eureka Mayor, Virginia Bass, replacing Pete LeVallee on the board and voting against tribal membership.

Now we're back to square one, at least for now.

Good. Way to go, Virginia.

Lion Attack Makes CNN

That mountain lion attack up in Prairie Creeks Redwoods State Park actually made it to CNN.

Don't you love it at the beginning of such stories when they start off with San Francisco, CA?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

This Blog Is Updated

I just upgraded this blog to the new Google version. All of the sudden a window popped up saying I could upgrade. Wow! I feel so special. We'll see how well this works out.

Speaking of foreclosures...

looks like the chickens have come home to roost, at least in the Sacramento area. Home foreclosures there have risen sharply, as many had expected, due to the way people financed their home purchases during the big rise in housing prices over the last few years.

I'm curious how Humboldt home owners are faring in this regard? It seems to me housing sales have slowed quite a bit, but I'm not really in that loop.

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

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Overdraft Fees

Something I've been wanting to rant about for some time but never found a news related item to use for reference is overdraft fees. Those are the penalties financial services charge when you bounce a check. For those of you in Arcata, bouncing a check is writing a check with insufficient funds in your account to cover the check. Thanks to Eric, who made a comment about overdraft fees on Jennifer Savage's blog, I was reminded of the issue.

Eric refers to overdraft fees as a "racket". Libertarian though I may be, I think I'd use stonger words than that. I think charging $20 to $40 for a bounced check the bank didn't even cover is a ripoff.

And it's not just the person who writes the bad check that gets charged. The person who tried to cash the check gets charged as well. I've had a number of checks people write out to me bounce over the years. Each time I've deposited a check from someone with insufficient funds the credit union would charge me $20.

One customer told me his bank, it might have been Bank of America, charged him $40(!!!) or more for a bounced check. So, not only was he short on cash in the first place, his bank charges him big time for the bounced check. He's also pretty much responsible for the $20 penalty I paid and he's much worse of than he was before. Clearly a case of beating someone when they're down and could put someone in a situation they might not be able to get out of.

I brought up the issue to one of the gals at my credit union a few years ago. She replied something along the line of, "I think it's good they do that. It sends a message that people shouldn't be writing checks that they can't cover and should pay closer attention to their checking account....". Right, as if most people are bouncing checks on purpose.

B.S. This goes way beyond that, punishing people that have no idea someone wrote them a bad check. Besides, if someone regularly bounces checks, the bank always has the option of closing their checking account, as happened to me over thirty years ago when I was on the down and outs.

Surprisingly, I guess I still agree with that part of the Libertarian Party platform that opposes usury laws- laws against loansharking and such- at least in part. Hey, if I want to voluntarily borrow money from someone at 100% interest, that's my business.

Why I don't think this is the same I'd have to think about a bit longer but I suppose it's because the penalties banks charge are way beyond what it costs them to process a check with insufficent funding. I could see five dollars, maybe ten dollars max, but $20 to $40 from both the writer and receiver of the check? Nope.

I know some of my fellow libertarians might argue that there is a free market of sorts in regards to financial institutions and I could always shop around. That might be true but I'm not sure that really applies in the case of bounced check fees. After all, can you imagine a bank seriously selling the fact they're the best bank around to bounce checks from? Are those the kinds of customers you'd want to attract? Wouldn't make sense from a business standpoint.

Does anyone know of any banks that advertise No Overdraft Penalties?

Insomuch as government already regulates the banks- whether for better or worse- it wouldn't bother me if they put a cap on the penalties financial instituions can levy on bounced checks.

In the meantime, if you haven't already done so, I strongly suggest checking to see if your bank or credit union offers overdraft protection. My credit union doesn't charge anything for it unless I write a check with insufficient funds. If I do, they transfer money from my savings account to my checking account for a fee of two or three dollars a check. That's far better than what it would cost for bouncing a check. If your bank doesn't offer such protection, find one that does.

State Of The Union Speech

Didn't watch or listen to it. Didn't care.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Anyone want to hazard a guess as to the real size of this lady's dogs. She says they're " approximately 6 pounds and 8 inches tall. The other dog in my yard was much smaller, about 4 pounds and 6.5 inches tall.".

I've been moving her figures around, replacing the weights with linear measurements, and I don't believe I've ever seen a dog that big or small before. Turn 6 pounds into 6 inches- pretty small. Turn it into 6 feet- too big.

If you turn her supposed height to weight, 6.5 inches to 6.5 pounds, our cats are bigger than that.

Either a strange typo, or really strange dogs.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Rogers vs. Cosby

I was listening to KHUM radio a little while ago and the disc babe was listing upcoming local events. She mentioned Bill Cosby appearing at HSU soon. Tickets were $75.00(?!?), $65.00 for HSU students.

Someone made a comment about how high priced the tickets for Kenny Rogers were. I did a quick check of the Arkley Center web site and found the tickets seem to be all sold out so I couldn't get a price on them.

Anyone know what the price range was for the Kenny Rogers tickets?

Second question: Will Cosby get sold out as well?

Eureka Greens?

Just who is who in this outfit? Seems like you need a program to figure out who all the players are.

Just checked the Eureka Greens blog. It's been updated for the first time in a while. They've got meeting minutes posted and a bunch of resolutions there for all to see.

Still somewhat confusing as you have to figure out who is doing what. We now have the Eureka Greens, the Waterfront Greens and the map of Eureka even shows some supposed other sub groups. I know there's been some sort of split amongst them but it's hard to tell who split from whom.

It gets even better with the Eureka Greens web pages, there being at least two now. One , I would think the older one, is There's also the newly established The two domains are owned by two recognizeable names amongst those that pay attention to such things: Xandra Manns and Heidi Calton, in that order.

Good thing the Libertarians aren't that confusing. That's one good thing about not being organized: Nothing to get confused about.

Does that make any sense?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

New Blogger Restrictions?

Don't you just love campaign finance reform?

This just in via an post on the West Coast Libertarians Yahoo Group. Looks like there's some provision in a bill currently in the U.S. Senate that may require bloggers with readership of more than "500 readers" to register with, and report to, the federal goverment or face possible fines and/ or jail time.

Not sure what to make of this. Can't help but wonder if it's another internet hoax, but such things certainly aren't unheard of, especially coming from the best and brightest in Washington D.C.

Taking an actual look at the bill and section in question, Section 220 of Senate Bill 1 To provide greater transparency in the legislative process, sponsored by Sen. Harry Reid (D- Nev) the wording certainly could do something along those lines but I don't have time to really pick it apart, especially in my frustration in being slowed down by the DSL blackout.

It does seem to involve reporting requirements, but whether it applies to bloggers (which is fair to expect) isn't quite clear. It also lists criteria for being a registrant, one of which is being a member or making payments, although payment doesn't seem to be exclusively regarded as paying cash.

It's certainly worth taking a further look into. Perhaps Eric or some of the other legal types around here used to picking apart such stuff could give us their own opinions as to what this bill is supposed to do?

PS: Hope the link to the bill works. The first time I bookmarked it and went back to it, I got a message to resubmit my search. If you get the same message, simply go to Thomas Locator and put S1 in the search field and be sure to select the Bill Number radio button below the search field.

Update 1/21/07: Just received notice the provision for registering bloggers was removed from the bill. Will have to keep an eye out for confirmation.

Second Update: Here's something saying how the anti- blogger provisions were thrown out. Don't have time to look much further right now. Looks like the Senate Republicans saved the day on this one.

Harbor Freight Tools

I'm getting to wonder about these Harbor Freight Tools folks. Until a few weeks ago I didn't realize they actually have an outlet out at Valley West in Arcata.

I'd enjoyed getting their hard copy catalog years ago and actually bought a few things from them on occasion. A lot of their tools were chinese junk, if memory serves me correct, but they had a few deals worth taking advantage of.

One of them was boxes of foam earplugs. I bought a box of 250 pairs a few years ago for $20.00. That's quite a bargain compared to buying them a few at a time as I've been doing lately.

I just ended up buying another box of earplugs. I was up at their web site checking if they had utility trailers since I needed a replacement for my old one that got wrecked.

I found the trailer and then wondered if they still offered those earplugs. Yep, they did, so I ordered a box. They were still same price as last time I paid for them. Cool. Shipping seemed pricey, though, at $7.99- and that's from Southern California.

Oh well, I figure shipping costs are going to be high because of gas prices... or are they?

I placed my order on Jan 5. Their records show the item was shipped on the 9th. Seems like a long time to process an order but I'm cool with it. Problem is, as of yet, I haven't received them.

So I check their online shipping tracker page and it says it was sent Parcel Post, that's U.S. Mail, for those of you in Arcata.

The mail guy comes yesterday and I ask him about it. He reminded me that Parcel Post would have been the slowest way to ship it and it would take a while. This, despite the Postal Service web site saying Parcel Post could be expected within three days.

I guess I can't blame Harbor Freight for Post Office problems, but it got me to thinking: If Parcel Post is the slowest, then I would think it would cost less than the $7.99 I paid in shipping charges. I went to the USPS web site this morning to see how much they'd charge.

The Harbor Freight web site didn't list a shipping weight. I figured 250 styrofoam earplugs couldn't weigh more than a couple pounds so I used 2 pounds as the shipping weight. Using the USPS shipping calculator that came to $4.36. They charged me a bit more than that: $7.99. I don't know about that.

Ok. They might of had to charge for the shipping container and whatever, but still...hmmm?

Getting back to our local Harbor Freight outlet, I've never been there. Didn't even know we had one up here until I mentioned checking out the Harbor Freight web site and the wife said there was a store in Arcata. That was a surprise. I do need to get out more often.

Her father and brother went there about that time and said they had a couple trailers in stock. I guess I should of rushed down there to buy one but held off and called them a day or two later and they said they didn't have any in stock but some should be coming in and to call in a couple days, on Friday.

I forgot to call that Friday. Next time I did call they told me again they didn't have one and to call the next Thursday. The next week I call again and they tell me the same thing and to call the next Friday.

I called yesterday and the gal says they don't have any in stock but they can request one. I asked her if maybe she could order one for me, assuming that's different than requesting. She puts me on hold and comes back after a while and says the trailers are shipped regularly so no need to order one, just call next Friday.

Enough! I didn't know what to do as Harbor Freight is the only place I know of to get those trailers. Finally, against my better judgement, I just went ahead and ordered one off their web site. I figured that way at least it's been ordered and when it shows up, it shows up.

I just hope they don't ship it Parcel Post like they did the earplugs I have yet to receive.

Anyone else have any good or bad experiences with Harbor Freight Tools?

Stuck On Dial Up

Boy, what a pain. Got up this morning and couldn't go online with DSL. Tried everything I could think of but no luck. That little green light in the number 4 slot of the DSL modem isn't on so it just doesn't seem to be working.

So, in desparation, I pulled my extra phone line out of my laptop bag and connected the dial up modem to the phone jack. That got me connected. That's one good thing about AT&T internet: If DSL fails you, you always have the option of using standard dial up, and free dial up numbers are provided throughout the state.

I've been on the computer for almost two and a half hours now and haven't come close to getting the stuff I'd normally have done by this time. I can't believe how slow dial up seems. It seemed faster than this last time I used it. Then again, I have to remember the dial up modem I'm using was given to me- One of those things someone had just laying around. It's never really been up to speed, pardon the pun.

I've had more problems connecting since I went to DSL than I ever did with good old Humboldt Internet dial- up. In fairness to AT&T, outages like this don't happen all that often- maybe once or twice a year.

Anyone else with DSL having problems connecting this morning? I hope it's not just me.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Palco Files Bankruptcy

Looks like Palco finally filed for bankruptcy. Why am I not surprised?

The question now is; Which lumber company gets attacked next?

Greens Take A Beating

Looks like the Green Party got a verbal lashing by the speaker at yesterday's Republican Women's Federation meeting at the Red Lion in Eureka. Author Holly Swanson blasts the Greens as being akin to socialists or communists and suggests much of the environmental stuff being taught in our schools is part of a broader agenda.

Our very own Dennis Mayo showed up for the meeting. I'll agree with him when he said that, while the earth may be sacred, "so’s our personal liberties and our property rights".

Green Party Chairgal, Dana Silvernale, couragiously entered the lion's den and sat in on the event finding herself disturbed by what she was hearing. She felt it must be the result of some misunderstanding saying the Greens aren't communists. I found that interesting since I believe Green Party candidate for Governor last time around, Pete Camejo, has described himself as a watermelon: Green on the outside, red on the inside.


No surprise that political parties can't understand why another party sees them as the devil incarnate. The weird part is that seems to always work both ways: Those guys are evil, but we're squeeky clean. Vote for us!

Harpham Clears The Air

More proof that anyone who's anyone in Humboldt visits this blog:

Eureka's interim police chief, Murl Harpham, wrote a commentary published both in the Eureka Reporter and Times- Standard today. He's clearing up what he feels are a few misconceptions about some statements he's recently taken some heat for here.

Well, ok, not just here but in the local papers as well.

I see he echoes what I said about Prop. 36, the law that requires treatment programs for first and second time drug offenders: There's no teeth to the law, which can certainly be a problem.

Cap'n Murl then quotes Phil Crandall, director of Health and Human Services: “Adopting a zero tolerance approach for methamphetamine that combines vigorous prosecution with community and school education, as well as outreach and treatment for users, is the balanced approach Humboldt County should provide.”. The Cap'n agrees.

Whatever. That might well be true.

I don't know what the answer is to this drug and crime problem, but I'll stand by what I said before about those simply arrested for drug crimes: If they've harmed no one but themselves, they've committed no crime and should be left alone unless they need and want help.

I'm always skeptical about this Zero Tolerance and Let's get tough on... stuff we hear all the time. I keep thinking a lot of places are already doing that with mixed results. Maybe I'm wrong, though.

Looks like we may find out what Get Tough really means from our neighbors to the south in Mendocino County. Newly elected Sheriff, Tom Allman, says he wants to make methamphetamine the top enforcement target in his county, although he doesn't appear to have a plan of action yet.

No matter what means he uses to deal with the problem, I'm sure we'll all be watching to see what kind of results he gets.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Backyard Bird Stuff

Eric Actually inspired this post with yesterday's advisory on hummingbirds. We just recently got back into backyard birding after a lengthy hiatus. It was nice to see others are intersted in the same thing.

We used to be avid bird watchers, feeders and homegivers years ago, before we adopted some kittens. Naturally, after the kittens were here, the birds got rather scarce. We used to have sometimes up to a couple hundred birds in our two apple trees at times, or so I figured one day after making a rough estimate.

We started out just by putting out a bird feeder, bought at a local store. It might have been Pierson's. Then I went one step further and started making birdhouses. At least one of the birdhouses was quite successful.
For feeding, at first we used the standard bird seed blend you find just about anywhere; A few sunflower seeds mixed with millet, thistle and whatever. That turned out to be not only expensive but wasteful. Most birds seems to prefer the sunflower seeds and would ignore the rest. I found it made much more sense to buy black oil type sunflower seed in fifty pound bags that I found at Nielsen Company in Eureka.

That worked well. About the only problem to keep an eye out for is rodents. I used to feed birds by placing seed on top of a fence when I lived in Myrtletown until one night I was outside and noticed a big brown rat scurry along the top of the fence and start eating the bird seed. That put an end to bird feeding there.

Connie just started feeding the birds again a couple weeks ago after we noticed their usual congregating in the yard as they do in the dead of winter. The robins seem to come in mass whenever it gets real cold and they really raise hell in the yard. There's probably twenty or thirty in the back yard as I write this.

Along with the robins came some more solitary birds like warblers and fox sparrows, although some of them have actually been hiding in the yard all along. The robins don't eat normal bird food, but some of the other ones do so Connie tried feeding them, at first just using some seeds of various types she had around the house but that certainly couldn't last for long.

So, I went to Rite Aid and bought a small bag of sunflower seed that should do for the time being. We have an upside down garbage can in the back yard she puts the seed on. Perfect place to watch the birds from and, hopefully, the rats won't be able to climb up there.

Some bird people recommend suet in the winter for birds. That's fat of various kinds, usually mixed with seed. I never had much luck with it. You can buy suet blocks already prepared. I figured it make more sense to make my own.

I went to the meat department of a local grocery store and just asked for any waste meat they had. That usually has a lot of fat with it. I'd take it home and cook the oil out of it and, while still warm so it wouldn't congeal, mix it with normal commercial bird seed mix and set it in the fridge to let it set.

That was probably more trouble than it was worth. Not only was it a mess to have to render the fat, I don't recall any significant attention it got from the birds. I gave up on it. Maybe the commercially available suet blocks would work better. I don't know.

Of course, there's also the hummingbirds that got me started on this thread.

We started with hummer feeders years ago, using the standard store bought feeders. They worked fine, except for one big one I bought. It was a huge egg- shaped thing that must of held a quart of sugar water. I liked it because I didn't have to refill it that often.

One problem, though: It didn't have bee guards. Those are the little screen type things that fit over the feeder holes to keep bees and yellow jackets from going for the sugar water. I'd read of the need for the guards but never had a problem until a few months after I started using the egg- shaped feeder.

We couldn't figure out why the hummers stopped using it all of the sudden. Upon closer inspection there were all kinds of yellow jackets feeding at it and the hummers knew enough to stay away from them.

We went back to the old feeders with guards on them, but soon stopped feeding altogether as our newly acquired cats chased most of the birds away anyway. The feeders eventually broke and we never replaced them until Connie got a couple of glass feeders as a gift a few years ago.

She hung the big one up in the apple tree but for some reason no hummers came around. She had a smaller one that looks kinda like a flower that she put just outside the back door. We'd started seeing at least one hummer hanging around lately so she filled up the one at the back door. It started feeding from it, not seeming to pay any attention to the one in the apple tree to this day.

This is one friendly hummer. It goes to the feeder all the time, even when the cats are nearby. It seems to make a special trip to the feeder whenever we go out the back door. Either it feels safer with us there, or maybe it's trying to show us she's using it so we'll keep the feeder full? I don't know. It was so close to me the other day I could have grabbed it. Fun bird.

When the weather warms up and the bugs come out we'll have to see if the yellow jackets are a problem with this feeder. They didn't come with bee guards but I suppose we could improvise something.

I got into building birdhouses back in our bird feeding heyday, however long ago that was. I bought a book on birdhouses that showed different designs for different birds.

A lot of the birdhouses you see sold at stores are really only suitable for ornamental purposes. Different birds like different dimensions to their homes and prefer their homes within a certain distance from the ground.

I thought the book I bought on birdhouses was one of the Ortho series of books but maybe my memory fails me. I couldn't find it in the storage room but found another one from a different publisher. Never mind about that as there's plenty of info available online for building birdhouses, like this site.

I built a few different styles. First was a nesting shelf, or whatever it was called, for robins. I put one up on the south side of the storage room about ten foot high, just under the eaves of the roof. It sat there for years unused. I finally took it down when we repainted the house. It must have been too close to human activity for the robins to feel safe with it. Or, maybe robins just want to eat in our back yard, not live in it.

Since we had a whole bunch of sparrows around, I put a sparrow house up on the east side of the house by the corner near an upstairs window and, again, just under the eaves of the roof. Seems to me I saw a sparrow interested in at one point but he or she never settled in. It sat there for years unused until, just like the robin's nesting shelf, I took it down when we repainted the house.

The real success was my chickadee house. I built one, then another, to the proper specs. I put one up on the north side of one of the apple trees, with it tilting at a slight downward angle as I'd read was preferred by chickadees. Did the same thing with the second one on the north side of one of our chestnut trees.

I put those out in late winter or early spring. Within a week or two I could see a chickadee taking the makings of a nest to the house on the chestnut tree. How cool!
That house hosted chickadeess three years in a row, if memory serves me correct.

The birds finally seemed to get leery of it, perhaps because some of the cats were trying to work their way up there, or maybe it was because I let the ivy grow up the tree until it got to almost covering the birdhouse. Either way, they gave up on it.

The one house on the apple tree never ended up with any chickadees, although I did see one start a nest one year. The cats chased that one away, I'm pretty sure.

Both those houses are still up there but can barely be seen from all the ivy growing up the trees. I'm working now to sever the ivy at the bottom of the tree so it doesn't grow any higher. Maybe I'll see if I can get the one on the chestnut tree to get some chickadees in it this year.

A couple hints about birdhouses, in case the web sites don't mention it:

You often see commercial birdhouses with a little dowel below the "door" that the bird can supposedly use as a perch. Don't do that. Birds don't need it and it can actually give predators a helping hand into the birdhouse.

Make some accomodation to allow cleaning out of the birdhouse after the birds leave. If you leave the old nest in there, a new pair of birds the next year might think it's already occupied and look elsewhere for their nesting place.

Both of mine have small hinges on the front panels, so they open like a door, and one of those hook and eye type latches to lock it closed. Worked well enough.

So, maybe we'll get back into this bird thing again. Oddly enough, our two kittens seem to have lost interest in birds over the years. One of them would catch one on occasion and Miss Kitty still comes to attention sometimes when she sees one, but neither of them seem to have the energy to go stalking them.

Cloney, our half cat- the cat that must live somewhere but seems to spend most of his time in our back yard- seems to not care at all about the birds.

Maybe it would be worthwhile to keep feeding and we won't have too many casualties.

Then again, even before we had our own cats, the neighborhood cats would get wind of our bird sanctuary and they'd become regulars in the backyard, in search of prey. let's hope our lazy cats are enough to keep the more energetic ones away.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Harpham Backs Mental Health?

I'm always skeptical when I hear of government programs supposedly being eliminated or "cut". Nine times out of ten such claims are the result of a program's funding not being increased as much as some would like, not being cut.

That said, I don't know what to make of the claim that the latest state budget proposed by the Governator eliminates funding for the Humboldt County's street outreach program. Certainly it's to be expected that Phil Crandall, director of the county Health and Human Services, would be crying foul once again. Is he being up front with us? I don't know.

The interesting thing is, Acting Eureka Police Chief, Murl Harpham, who recently took heat for suggesting drug abuse treatment programs attract the riff- raff that have flooded the county over the years, seems to appreciate at least some aspects of some programs. He's quoted as saying, "Mental Health is very successful at what they do.".

I realize we might be talking two separate issues here but I'm still not sure what to make of this.

Republican Gals To Look At Greens

Boy, this little announcement in the Eureka Reporter got me going:

Looks like the Eureka Women's Federation will be discussing the Green Party at their meeting on Thursday. One Holly Swanson, who has something to do with an Operation Green Out, is will be discussing something along the line of how to "get Green politics subjected to scrutiny and out of the country's schools.".

Just enough info there to have me dying of curiousity. I wonder if any of the local media will be covering the meeting? If not, any of you bloggers gonna be there?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Security Stuff: Cyber and Otherwise

I've mentioned the case of Matt Bandy here the last couple days. He's the 16 (now 18) year old that was arrested for having child pornography on his family's computer.

Looks like a web site is up dealing with his case.

CLS, over at the Classically Liberal blog, is still pursuing this issue with more information out on the case and cyber security today.

One thing that still puzzles me, cyber- security aside, I believe I alluded to before and it hasn't been answered:

How can they threaten a 16 year old with life in prison unless he's been deemed fit to be tried as an adult? There's no mention of him being tried as an adult.

The only thing I can think of is Arizona law must be quite a bit different than California law in regards to juveniles. In California a juvenile can't be sentenced to the Youth Authority past his 25th birthday, unless the court has deemed him fit to be tried as an adult and he's tried as an adult.

I don't believe they require juveniles to register as sex offenders in California, either, although I can't say that for sure.

I noticed today that Bandy was sentenced when he was 18. That shouldn't make any difference. In California, it matters how old a kid is when the crime occured, not when he finishes going through the court system. Maybe Arizona's different, but it would have to be quite a bit different to consider someone an adult just because he was 18 when he was sentenced.

Then again, maybe 16 is the age of majority in Arizona? I don't know.

Speaking of security, I was up at the Zonelabs web site this morning. I decided to take advantage of what I thought was their free online spyware search of my computer. I could of sworn that's where I did it before but couldn't find any link for it. Oh well.

I did notice one thing in regards to what Rose asked on Chris Crawford's blog: Zonelabs says their spyware protection actually keeps spyware from getting on your machine rather than just locating it once it's there. Hmmm...didn't know that.
I also found an interesting page from a link on Zonelabs regarding credit card applications and the security thereof. The guy is pretty much as uptight about throwing away credit card applications as I am. The difference being he was just tearing his up.

I usually tear out any fields on the application with my name on them and throw the rest of the application in with the magazines that I'll be taking to the recycling center, credit card applications nearly always being printed on glossy magazine type paper that can't be recycled with office paper. That really irks me.

Anyway, looks like even if you tear the application up, at least some credit card companies still accept them. Check out this guy's experiment. Scroll down to the bottom to get the link to the next page. It's three or four pages but they're short.

Sommerville Fights Back

I suppose editor of the Times- Standard, Rich Sommerville, isn't really fighting back, as he seems pretty calm about it, but he addresses bias in newspapers in his column this morning.

I've mentioned my own feeling on the issue here before. Sure, there might appear to be deliberate bias because of frequency of reporting on a given issue more than one would think necessary, but I think that's because of a natural tendency for reporters (heck, anyone for that matter) to hang around people they know and deal with subjects which interest them.

Most of the time I've seen people complain of bias in the newspapers, it's because the story wasn't written the way a reader might have liked it written.

I had to bring up, in a comment to the T-S web site, I remember a while back when the T-S ran two different letters to the editor side by side one day. One letter accusing the paper of right wing bias, the other accusing of a left wing bias.

Cracked me up. Brilliantly done. They should do that more often.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Free Car Dumping

Now's the time to tell your friends or neighbors with those ugly old cars on their property that haven't been driven for years to get rid of them.

The Eureka Reporter has what appears to be a public service notice, not available online apparently, the the county has announced you can dump off those old cars at John's Used Cars and Auto Wreckers on Jacobs Avenue, just north of Eureka.

Even if you don't have the paperwork, the powers- that- be will take care of that for you. You just need to get the vehicle to the wrecking yard. Even if you can't get it there, it might be worth it to have it towed.

I think they usually charge $100 for cars to be dumped, although I drove my old truck in there a couple years ago and they took it without charging. No mention of any charges for this amnesty program.

They say only passenger cars, pick up trucks, vans and motorcycles will be accepted. No extra tires or garbage in the vehicles, please.

The amnesty program goes from January 2 (now they tell us) through February 15. They're open Monday thru Friday 9 to 4pm, Saturday from 9 to 2pm.

Any questions? Call 443-7065

Ok. You all have your marching orders. Let's get rid of all those old junk cars.

A Life Of Its Own

Here's a story about one of the early anti- smoking nazis who seems to feel the movement has taken on a life of its own and is going too far.

More On Cyper Sneaking

I mentioned yesterday the case of Matt Bandy, the 16 year old who was arrested in Arizona for having kiddie porn on his computer. CLS, who gave us the heads up on the situation via his Classically Liberal blog did some follow up on the issue of computer security. Some disturbing information there.

There's two entries with the follow up. Both are dated January 15.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Trivia/ Media Question

Ok. This guy has worked for City Garbage Company for ten years. Name a place he worked before that. No, I don't really know him. Just seen him around.

I'm Sure I've Met Her

Or have I?

I've been wondering about Polly Endert, the newly appointed Eureka City Councilgal. Seems to me I did some work for her and her husband Roger a while back. Although I'd never met her in person, I did meet Roger. I thought they were related to some other old- time customers of mine but couldn't figure the relationship.

Today's Times- Standard had me wondering if I was thinking of the right people. They go on to talk about her family and not a name do I recognize, until they mention her husband Roger. Ok, then it is the same Polly Endert, isn't it?

Buhne Warehouse: The End?

I think I appreciate history and historical structures as much or more than most, but I really think Eureka's been beating itself over the head trying to save the old Buhne Warehouse. Looks like they've finally decided it will cost too much.

Everything must come to an end at some point in time. I think it's past time for the Buhne Warehouse. It would be fun to take it apart and use some of the materials for other new buildings or renovation projects. Don't you think it would be cool to be able to point to a room in your house and say it was part of some historic place in Eureka?

But seriously, why all the brouhaha over an old warehouse? I could see it if it was an old house or business but a warehouse? Time to move on.

Cyber Snoopy Stuff

Chris Crawford's blog takes a look this morning at intrusive software that seems to be everywhere on the web nowadays. Despite having a firewall I still can't help but wonder if I have any spyware on this machine.

One of these days I'll have to try one of those free spyware search deals. I believe I used Zonelabs free spyware evaluator a year or so ago.

One thing I posted a comment on was his suggestion to use the System Restore function in Windows. I'd suggest only doing that as a lost resort. I used it a few years ago on my old E- Machines computer and it was a big headache.

The biggest problem was it never quite ran the same again. I finally fixed it months later by reformatting the hard drive.

Speaking of computer intrustions, not so sure to what to make of this:

Apparently a sixteen year old kid in Arizona was arrested for possessing child pornography on his computer and threatened with life in prison.

I'd have to question the "life in prison" aspect of this as this did involve a juvenile. I hardly think they'd be threatening life in prison for a kid in possession of dirty pictures. They'd have to try him as an adult, but, I guess you never know.

Despite the difficult reading, I found the story interesting. Supposedly some computer expert located some child porno on the family's computer. The blogger suggests it was weak evidence, with another computer expert supposedly finding " 200 infect files “so-called backdoors that allowed hackers to access the family computer from remote locations.”.

Boy, I don't know if that means 200 different trojan horses, or what, but I suppose it could be possible. According to Chris Crawford's blog "the average PC has some 70 or 80 items of spyware on it at any given time."

So, I suppose 200 isn't necessarily out of the question. Whether the porno was put on the family's computer is anyone's guess. Reading the blogger's account I'd have to say it was a pretty lame case, but he or she certainly seems to be predisposed against the prosecutor.

I couldn't help but wonder if the pictures in question were in the browser's cache?

At any rate, it is troubling to hear of what seems to be malicious prosecution, spyware and trojan horses aside. Not sure what exactly to do about malicious prosecution but to prevent stuff from being stuffed on your computer, a firewall certainly helps.

Zonelabs has a free firewall available. Give it a try.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Local Events Falling Apart

First, what was it; North Country Fair(?) that seems to have went down the tubes with their new ownership. Then it was The Mateel, and Reggae On The River. Now the world famous Kinetic Sculpture Race seems to be in jeopardy.

Is this just another symptom of the deterioration of Humboldt County?

Maybe not. We do have Kenny Rogers coming to town next month. Doesn't get any better than that.

Ron Paul in 2008?

Looks like Congressman Ron Paul, Republican from Texas, has filed papers to form an exploratory committee for a run for the White House in 2008. This seems like good news to me, at first glance.

Problem is, when I heard the first rumblings about this earlier today, there was only speculation as to what party's nomination he'd be seeking. Turns out, he'll be seeking the Republican nomination, a long shot at best.

Ron Paul, as some of you may know, ran for president back in 1988 on the Libertarian Party ticket. When I first got word of him running again this morning, I'd hoped he might run with the LP, not that I thought that would go anywhere.

I'll have to say, of all the other names I've seen thrown out as possible presidential candidates from all parties, including the Libertarian, I haven't been impressed with any of them.

There actually was one, a Democrat (for perhaps the first time in my life), that actually had me a bit interested, but I lost interest in him just recently.

So, since I'm 99.9% certain Paul will fail to get the Republican nomination, looks like I might be stuck with casting a protest vote for whoever the LP candidate is in 2008. Either that, or not vote at all.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Getting Publicity You Want...

and hating it.

Will this news item have Cap'n Buhne ending comments on his blog once again?

Looks like this blogger, hiding behind the alias Spocko, has been attacking talk radio he doesn't like, namely right- wing talk radio specifically in the form of KSFO.

We've seen some comments here disparaging KSFO. I'm not sure I've ever listened to them.

What gets me is the story says Spocko had something like fifteen regulars visiting his blog every day. Wow! Is this guy the King of Bay Area Bloggers, or what?

So, the guy has a rarely visited blog and uses stuff he hears on KSFO to try and get advertisers to stop buying space on at least some KSFO shows. KSFO doesn't like it so they put pressure on Spocko. Spocko pulls some stuff off his blog.

Hey, I can understand KSFO not wanting the guy to misrepresent things that have been said on their radio shows. But you can't help wonder if they're making a mountain out of a molehill. After all, hardly anybody was visiting the blog anyway.

At least not many visited before a big issue was made out of it and it made the papers. Let's see how many people start visiting his blog now.

Sometimes it's probably best to just let misfits be misfits. They could have tried to keep this issue a little more low profile.

Who handles this sort of stuff for radio stations anyway?

Will It Snow?

Doppler radar shows even more light snow a little ways off the coast than it did an hour and a half ago. Might we get some snow showers?

I'm guessing within three hours from now we should find out.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tressler Goes Libertarian?

Some of you might remember James Tressler, Times- Standard reporter from a few years ago. He moved to Czechoslovakia some time ago yet still sends in a piece to the T-S on occasion.

I wouldn't say his most recent piece has him joining the libertarians, but it was nice to see someone recognize that, just because government isn't running full speed all the time, society won't collapse.

A Couple Things:

Blogspot had one of it's weirdest spazzouts yesterday that I can remember. Couldn't get in at all for at least a couple hours and kept getting weird Google messages as to why. Even after it seemed like it was back up and running I couldn't seem to log in here.

Had problems for a short time this morning. Seems to be up and running now. For how long? We can only guess.

I expected to get up freezing my ass off this morning, the Weather Service issuing that cold alert of temperatures 10 to 20 degrees below the last two day's highs. Doesn't seem all that cold to me. In fact, I have yet to turn the heater on yet his morning. This is good, at least so far.

Dealing With Lawsuits

It's almost to be expected: Someone gets killed. Someone related to them files a lawsuit, in this case the father of recently deceased armed robber Zachary Cooke. I agree that it's Mr. Cooke's prerogative to file a lawsuit. I guess that's the only way we can have it. Or is it?

I do have questions about some who file lawsuits where I see them plainly in the wrong. In this case, it appears the father must have known what his son had been involved in. Note the father saying his son "wanted to turn himself in but he was afraid that they would kill him..". How would he know that if he didn't have intimate knowledge of his son and what he had been involved in?

So here's a guy that's going to sue despite knowing quite well what led up to the death. That's not to say that simply because someone is an armed robber the police have a right to kill him, but it seems to me his father might well have contributed to this situation by simply letting his son run wild.

I know. I hate the finger pointing myself, but when someone has the nerve to file a lawsuit after something like the the Cooke incident...

I can't help but wonder if more communities should follow the lead of the City of Los Angeles?

Many of you might remember the big shootout down in West(?) Hollywood a few years back. A couple of guys robbed a bank. The cops interfered and a big shootout resulted. The robbers, in full body armor and a car trunk full of automatic weapons, really lit up the area, even shooting at a news helicopter. Remember that one?

One of the guys ends up sticking a handgun in his mouth and doing himself in. The other one continued shooting until some LAPD guys moved in close with AR15 rifles and shot him. The last part I remember seeing is the guy on the ground, his hands up in the air, surrendering to police.

The guy ended up dying from wounds received. No sense of sorrow here. I figured the guy punched his ticket.

After all was said and done, the guy's mother decides to sue Los Angeles, claiming medical care wasn't delivered soon enough to save her son's life. Figures.

The people of Los Angeles are outraged at the lawsuit, as are others around the country. I believe it was the Los Angeles City Attorney who made the bold move: Counter sue the mother for her part in the shooting. After all, she raised the son and gave him the values that resulted in him shooting the whole town up.

The counter- suit was something along those lines, anyway.

I have no idea how successful such a counter- suit would have been, but it worked without going to trial. The mother dropped her suit.

I can't help but wonder how many others should have the same strategy used against them? In the Cooke case it seems the father was well aware of his son's activities. It also seems this sort of activity might be common within that family, the father blaming his son's crime on the influence of his step- brother.

About the only problem with the idea of counter suing parents for the actions of their kids is it might be intimidating to those that have legitimate lawsuits to file against The State in incidents of wrongful or negligent death. Believe it or not, I wouldn't want that to happen.

It would be nice, though, for some parents to realize they'll have to lay in the bed they made and not blame others for it.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Greenhut's Predictions?

I'd call it a wish list rather than predictions. The Orange County Register's, Steve Greenhut, one of my favorite columnists, lists three things he'd like to see happen in the state in 2007.

His first item, Independent Police Commissions, which I assume are the same as Civilian Police Review Boards, I'm ambivalent about. I'll go along with the other two.

I actually hadn't ever really tried to prioritize things I'd like to see happen on the local, state and federal level. I think I'll just let Steve do the work for me on this one.

I'm Freezing

Well, maybe not freezing, but winter and I don't get along anymore. It seems as I get older I can't handle the cold as well. The cold weather of winter, coupled with a poorly insulated house, makes for a fairly miserable time for me.

If that's not bad enough, has a weather advisory up saying the highs on Wednesday and Thursday might be ten to twenty degrees cooler than the highs today and Tuesday. Just what I needed.

I kinda wish I could find one of those cheap old pot bellied wood stoves. I used to see some for sale that might actually be small enough to fit in this house. I could probably feed that thing for next to nothing just from stuff I pick up at work.
Along that line, the Sacramento Bee (username humboldtlib, password poopster) tells us that those who bought those wood pellet stoves, when they became all the rage a few years back, are hurting.

I guess wood pellets are in short supply because of the slowdown in building projects. Not only is there a shortage of wood pellets, the price has almost doubled over the last year.

Anyone out there with a wood pellet stove that can tell us if there's a problem finding wood pellets in Humboldt?

Speaking of Druggies

USA Today reports that the "San Francisco metropolitan area" has the highest rate of regular drug users of any area of the country.

Although not surprising, I wondered if Humboldt County would be considered part of the San Francisco area. I've often spoken to people unfamiliar with Eureka who ask me, "Isn't that up near San Francisco...?".

It seems those doing the study might well consider Humboldt County part of San Francisco since they say in the article, "The coastal area north of San Francisco, included in the study as part of the metropolitan area, is known as a popular marijuana growing spot.".

I guess that means us.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

AT&T Goes One Better

I'd mentioned here before how I started out with Yahoo DSL at $19.95 a month. That's the teaser deal for one year. I'd heard different figures on what the rate would be after the trial period.

I was almost shocked when the trial period ended and my phone bill was way up there. Checking my bill, it turned out the higher rate someone mentioned was indeed the regular service rate: $49.95. Yikes!

I was getting ready to either try and dicker down the price with AT&T, assuming they'd play that game, or consider switching to another service provider. Just about that time I noticed my phone bill went down. Checking it again, I could see they dropped the DSL charge to $39.99 a month. That was better, but still not all that great.

Lo and behold, today I received my phone bill and it was even lower. Checking it yet again, I see they've dropped my rate back to $19.99 a month, same as Yahoo DSL cost originally. Now that's just fine. I lOVE the competition within the telecommunications industry.

Let's just hope this isn't some kind of mistake or a one time thing for whatever reason.

Redundant Broadband Lines For Humboldt

The Times- Standard Business Section reports today on the need for a second line for broadband access to Humboldt. That need became clear when the county lost much of its communication capability as a result of the main feed getting severed on December 26.

I wonder if this latest action by the Governator, nixing fees telecommunications companies pay to lay lines alongside freeways, will help get things going.

As always, if asked for a login on the Sacramento Bee web site, username is humboldtlib, password is blogspot.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

BECOMING A Hellhole?

Some say Eureka's been one for some time. I don't know about that, but Eureka cerainly does seem to have deteriorated people- wise, at least since I moved up here in '73.

Eureka's Acting Police Chief, Murl Harpham, places much of the blame on methamphetamine, going so far as to say, " the treatment programs and lack of punishment enable meth users, attracting users here from other areas. We're giving them the opportunity,”.

I suppose some of that could be true, but I'd have to argue a little about throwing the blame on treatment programs. Do we have more treatment programs for drug addiction as opposed to other communities? I don't know. I'm not in that loop. I suspect some places have more and some have less.

What I find most bothersome about this is Chief Harpham, and other like minded folks, seem to offer no other alternative to methamphetamine abuse than incarceration or being killed.

It would seem to me to be in our best interests to try and get people off meth, if they have a problem with it, rather than keep throwing them in jail or, worst case scenario, ending up in a violent confrontation where someone ends up dead.

Maybe treatment doesn't work with everyone, but it seems to me to be the logical first step if one has an uncontrollable problem with drugs. I personally don't want to be left with incarceration or killing as the only ways to deal with the problem.

Fortuna Pharmacists: "Walgreens No Big Deal"

I must have missed news that a new Walgreens was going to be opening in Fortuna. Apparently, at least some of the existing pharmacies in Fortuna aren't all that concerned about the added competition.

You can hardly blame them. We have not just one, but two, Walgreens in Eureka and I haven't heard of any of the other pharmacies going out of business, at least not yet.

As an aside, I found the comment the one pharmacist made about all stores charging pretty much the same for drugs interesting.

Back when I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, the doc asked me where I'd like to purchase my medication so they could write up the prescription. I told them I wasn't sure but somewhere close to home and from whomever had the best price. I suggested Rite- Aid (at the Eureka Mall) figuring they'd have the best deal, being a chain store.

The nurse made a few calls right there to compare prices and it turned out Henderson Center Pharmacy (now Redwood Pharmacy) in Friendly Henderson Center offered the same medication for a lower price.

I've been going there ever since.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Acrobat Reader Fixed

Looks like the new version of Acrobat Reader takes care of the security flaw mentioned here yesterday. Thanks to Kim Kommando's daily news for the heads up.

How Dare They!?

The nerve of PG& E letting the power go out right in the middle of town yesterday. Hey, it's one thing to have the power go out in the outlaying communities. You folks out there are used to it, but here in the middle of Eureka? I don't think so!

I guess it must have been about three o'clockish when the power went out. I was outside so didn't know what time it was. Then the wifey comes out and says the power was out and she wasn't sure how to deal with the computer since it was still on.

That was about the only almost fun thing about the power outage. We have two of those Uninterruptible Power Supplys that the computers are hooked up to. I believe this is the first time they actually got to do their thing.

They're only meant to keep the computer running long enough to safely shut it down without losing data. I'm not sure exactly how long the Alienware computer would run on the power supply alone, but yeserday it proved it was long enough.

That didn't really matter, as far as data was concerned, since the wifey was just playing her game, tossing eggs. Still, it's nice to know those things work.

I highly recommend them. The smaller one costs less that $100, I believe. The size you want depends on how much power your system draws. A look at the box they come in should give you an idea of what size you need.

As far as everything else, I guess we're as screwed as anyone else, although we do have a gas stove. Our heating is gas but, being forced air, if the electric fan that moves the warm air doesn't work, you can't heat the house anyway.

We lucked out the outage only lasted for no more than maybe two hours, or so.

Good job on getting power restored, PG@ E, but let's not let this happen again.

You Snooze, You Lose

Well it finally happened to me. My Humboldt Shooter's Page got hijacked. Well, I don't know that it was really hijacked, but the domain I bought kinda was.

A couple years ago I bought the domain I used that for my Humboldt Shooter's Page. Despite having warned others in the past to keep their domain registrations updated, I failed to follow my own advice.

Some guy e-mails me last night telling me that no longer goes to my Shooter's page. It goes to some spam kind of page and apparently some guy/ company in Washington now owns the domain. I feel SO violated.

But I guess it's fair play if I let the registration lapse. What I can't figure out is why they did it. Usually people snag domains like that so they can sell it back to the original owner at a premium price. I don't see anything on their page asking if I wanted to buy that domain.

What could be their motive? Political perhaps? If they were doing something along that line, and that sort of thing does happen, you'd think they'd use the domain for some anti- gun message.

Any ideas? I suppose it's not really that big a deal since doing a search for Humboldt Shooter's Page still takes me to the actual location on my freeservers account. It does go to show, though: You snooze, you lose.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Speaking of Critters

A day or so ago I found this picture of a supposed wildcat, or bobcat, in the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat. Doesn't look like a bobcat to me, thought I. Looks like a regular old house cat.

Then today, while looking at that same picture, I noticed a related story and was led to this picture (picture is to the right of the story). Now that's what I thought a bobcat looked like.

I must have been right.

North Coast Critter News

I had to wonder about that story in today's Times- Standard about the people feeding the feral cats living in the Balloon Tract. It said they would often capture their wild kittens and try and find homes for them.

I had to ask myself, wouldn't be a better idea to trap the cats themselves and have them neutered, thus not having to worry about the kittens in the first place?

It didn't say so in the story but today's T-S editorial mentions that they do often try to trap the cats to get them spayed and neutered. How successful they are in that endeavor, I don't know.

But, that's good to know. I was just wondering.

Yet another supposed animal horror story in the Eureka Reporter this morning. This time a dozen or so animals being taken from some property near the Safeway out near Redwood Acres in Eureka.

It's kind of hard to make heads or tails out of this one. The animal rescue activists, like Shannon Miranda and company, say the conditions the animals were kept in were "disgusting", three dead animals being found on the scene.

Sheriff's Lieutenant, Steve Knight, said the animals weren't in really all that bad of shape, at least not bad enough for him to intervene.

Who does one believe?

I suspect it's probably a little of both. The animal rescue folks most likely to see the animals in the more dire of circumstances, naturally having more of an emotional viewpoint. Steve Knight probably having more of an objective look at the issue more in line with what the law provides for.

No word yet on who the owner of the animals is and what he had to say about it. Still, I can't help but wonder if any of the animal rescue folks came to our house, would they have a problem with the way we take care of our two and a half cats?

Ahhh...probably not. But you never know.

Don't Open That .pdf File!

Looks like the trusty old Acrobat Reader we all use to open .pdf files has a security flaw in it. Apparently you can initiate malicious script and such by using it and it's recommended to not open .pdf files until the problem is taken care of.

Boy, now even Acrobat Reader is a potential entry point for hackers. Is nothing sacred anymore?

Thanks to Kim Kommando's News of the Day newsletter, which I seem to just recently started receiving, for the tip. I don't recall ever opting in for that newsletter, but I've found it offers some interesting tech news.

I've subscribed to Kim's Tip of the Day newsletter for quite some time. It seems to deal much of the time with issues I'm not all that interested in, like picture albums and music, but there's enough stuff I'm interested in to keep me on that list.

If interested in signing up for any of her newsletters, you can do so here. If you find you don't enjoy them, you can always unsubscribe.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Endert Vote Looms

Pretty soon we'll see how the Eureka City Council stands on the appointment of Polly Endert to a seat on the council, the vote supposedly taking place tomorrow.

I was surprised to see councildude, Chris Kerrigan, quoted as saying he's optimistic he'll be able to cast a Yes vote for her.

I thought Chris would be a little more mysterious about how he might vote at this point. Of course, it ain't over 'til it's over.

Tish Died

Why am I shocked at this news?

He Doesn't Care

Some of you can say what you want about our local news reporters. I won't comment on that, but I can't help but like this guy from the L.A. Times. He doesn't care what we have to say and he's quite articulate about why.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Amazing Shantaram!

I think it's the first time I've heard of this guy, but I guess it's not the first time he's made press around here. Shantaram Jones; I guess we should call him the Amazing Shantaram.

But he's not just a magician. Apparently he's an entrepreneur as well. Might this be Humboldt's next Rob Arkley? Might he eventually end up buying Bridgeville?

Only time will tell.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Mexico, Southern Cal and Google Earth

My brother called on the phone last night for one of his seeing how you're doing calls. I actually had the presence of mind to ask him if he remembered where we lived in Mexico as kids. He surprised me by saying Mexico City.

I'd mentioned in some comments earlier on that I'd thought we lived on the outskirts of Mexico City and, some time ago, I thought he said we didn't. I guess I misunderstood him as he said exactly what I'd always thought; That we'd lived just outside of Mexico City. He couldn't remember the exact name of the town, though.

I was ahead of him on one thing: I remembered our street address, 170 Sierra Guaderamma (I thought there was only one m in the street name, not two). He said if I could figure out what the name of the town was to let him know.

I tried doing a search of just the street address last night and came up empty. This morning I started again with renewed energy except I didn't bother with doing a web search. It suddenly struck me I should try Google Earth.

What a "trip" that was. I've had Google Earth on this computer ever since the North Coast Journal said they'd be using it in conjunction with their web site but I hadn't done much with it except find a few houses around town, including my own.

So I went to Mexico City. First time I'd been there in probably 40 years. I was lost. Tried typing in the street address and got nothing. That city is so big I didn't know where to start looking. I gave up.

Then I started thinking about other places. Checked out Acapulco. Yep, you can even see the beach at Las Roquetas(sic?). That's an island just offshore of Acapulco we used to take a glass bottom boat to.

Then I decided to see if I could take a look at my old stomping grounds of Tustin and Irvine in Southern CA. I couldn't remember the street address of our house on Butler Street in Irvine but it was near what I felt should be some recognizeable landmarks so it should be fairly easy to find my way to our old house.

A bit confusing at first as the area has been heavily developed, but it didn't take me too long to find it. Here it is:

Wow. That's kind of neat. Even moved the picture around and found University High School. I went there for most of my high school time.

So what about Tustin. For some reason I still remember the street address: 12812 Charloma Drive.

I zoomed in to get a wide view of the Tustin area, centering the picture where my best guess of the location of my house. Then, I typed in the street address in the search field. I guess I was wrong as the image shifted to the upper right and then zoomed in.

Boy, that kinda looks like the house, but not quite. Of course, it's been 35 years or more since I've lived there and even when I lived there I'd never seen it from above.

I started looking around to see any recognizable landmarks and, yep, everything else seems to be in the right place. That's our old house. The thing that really convinced me was the houses behind us then were on a cul- de- sac and there was a cul- de- sac there.

Moving up the street I could also see what used to be Sycamore Elementary School. That was where I went to school. Looks like the playground is still there but hard to say if it's still a school.

Next I tried to find my favorite beach. It was called Scotchman's Cove back then. A few years ago I spoke with a guy that lived right near there and he'd never heard of it, so it must be named something different now.

I knew it was just north of Laguna Beach so, after comparing a few areas, I found it. To confirm, since much of the beach area looked the same, I used the "ruler" Google provides. You can start at one point, draw a line to another point, and it tells you the distance.

I drew a line from what I thought would have been the old Irvine Company private beach to Scotchman's Cove. It was about two tenths of a mile. That's about right.

Since you had to pay to enter Scotchman's Cove at the entrance on Pacific Coast Highway, we used to enter at the Irvine Co. private beach (we had the key) and walk just a ways down the beach to Scotchman's Cove.

Ahhh...the memories. That was fun stuff. I'll have to play around with Google Earth more often. If you haven't already downloaded Google Earth, it's a free download here. Try checking out your old stomping grounds.

The Hussein Hanging Video

I knew one would hit the streets eventually. Well, here it is; A supposedly surreptitious video of the Hussein hanging that goes beyond what we (at least those of us with morbid curiousity) have seen so far.

Not very good quality. Hard to really see what's happening after the trap door opens. It was supposedly taken with one of those cell phone cameras. Credit goes, if credit should be given, to for the link.