Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My Last Zimmerman Post

Never say never, but I'll try to make this my last post on the Zimmerman/ Martin affair.

Reason magazine has a nice article on the misinformation in the case spread by most of the mainstream media. I can't help but think that it was deliberate.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Following & Being Followed

I've been appalled by some of the comments I've heard regarding the Martin/Zimmerman case. Some think it's ok to attack someone just because they felt that person was following them. I'm not just surprised at the number of such comments, but by some of the people that made them.

I got to thinking about my experiences in that regard and came up with a couple stories:

Back in the late 80s I was living in Cutten. One afternoon I needed to go to Myrtle Avenue Market for reasons I can't now recall so I headed into town.

As I made the right turn off Walnut Drive near Sequoia Park I ended up falling in behind a white sedan. I could tell a female was driving from her silhouette. I followed her down Dolbeer Street and, lo and behold, she turned right on Chester- the same street I was going to turn on. Then she turns left on Montgomery just as I had planned to do.

I wondered if she'd be thinking I was following her and hoped she'd eventually make a different turn but she didn't. She turns right on Harris, then left on Hubbard, then left on Myrtle Avenue, just as I'd been planning to do. Now I know she's probably getting to wonder about me.

I get held up at the stop sign at Myrtle but as I leave the stop sign I see her pull into Myrtle Avenue Market! She goes into the store as I'm pulling into the parking lot. I'm thinking she must be freaking at this point.

I go in the store, round a corner and there she is. She looks at me like ..are we going to have a problem here? Before she can say anything I say, "No. I'm not following you. Believe it or not, I was coming here too.". She was relieved telling me she was getting worried as she thought I was following her. We shared a laugh at the situation and went our separate ways.

Some might say she'd be justified in attacking me because I seemed to be following her, but she would have been wrong to do so.
I was still living in Cutten when I ended up being followed. I was working at Juvenile Hall at the time.

I was headed to work one morning. It was still dark out at around 6am. I drove the same route as I described above, at first. I turned off Walnut drive onto Dolbeer Street. As I'm about half a block down Dolbeer I see headlights turn on behind me. The car pulls out into the street and comes up fairly close behind me. No big deal at the time.

I turn right on Chester. The car turns right. I turn left on Montgomery and head through the Harris Street intersection. The car is still behind me and it really seems as if he's following me cause he's so close.

I head down Harrison past the hospitals. He's still behind me. I come to the turn to go into the Probation Dept. and Juvenile Hall and turn left. I'm thinking, if he is following me, those signs should scare him off. They don't. He stays behind me.

I enter the parking lot out in front of Probation. It's dark and I'm the only one there. I pull into a parking space and stop. The other car swings by me on my left, then turns quickly around the front of my car coming to an abrupt stop maybe 8 feet from my passenger side. At this point I'm like "WTF??? What does this guy want?".

I was pretty buff back then being a regular gym rat. I figured I should be able to handle myself, but still, I don't know who is in that car and this is downright creepy.

I get out of my car to go into the Hall. He gets out at the same time and quickly walks around his car towards mine as if he had business to tend to. Except as soon as he sees me- a buff looking guy- he stops. I act nonchalant and say, "What's up?", and keep walking as if it's no big deal. He kinda stammers and says he thought I was someone else. He says when I flashed my lights as I passed by him he thought I wanted him to follow me.

Bullshit! I never flashed my lights. I was driving my old Volkswagon Rabbit diesel. He probably figured a car like that was likely being driven by some female, or a male he might be able to rip off so he followed it in hope of attacking whoever was driving it. In either case he was there for no good.

I just told him I hadn't intended him to follow me and that I had to go in to work. He got in his car and left.

Years later a local prostitute was killed. They suspected the boyfriend but couldn't prove it. A few years after that the boyfriend killed himself somehow or another. They published a face picture of the guy in the Times- Standard. I'm 99.9% sure that was the same guy that followed me to Juvenile Hall that morning.

Some say I'd be justified in attacking the guy under those circumstances. I don't think I would have been but, if there was any justice, I probably should have.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Eureka's Henderson Center

Julie Timmons, over at the Redwood Coast Business blog, has a post up about Eureka's Henderson Center- the past and the future. We've gotten into a little back and forth about "the good old days" there. Feel free to pipe in and add your own recollections or clarifications.

For instance, she recalls a Grace's PIzza where Hunan's is now. I don't recall a pizza place but do recall Grace's Bar, although you did pass some sort of restaurant setup as you walked back to the bar. It was always closed later at night when I went there.

I mostly wish we had the old Food Mart back (where Rite- Aid is now). What a loss to the neighborhood it was when that closed down.

Addendum: I moved up here 40 years ago, almost to the day. I'm trying to remember what businesses were in Henderson Center back then that still exist today. Unless I'm mistaken, I can only come up with three. I might be wrong about at least one of those.

Cherry Blossom Bakery, right across from what is now Rite- Aid. Henderson Center Laundromat- right next the Cherry Blossom and, of course, Fresh Freeze. Not completely sure about Cherry Blossom because I never paid much attention to it until maybe 30 years ago. That's the only three I remember. Any others?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Humboldt's World Class Port In Doubt

The North Coast Journal has a summary of a report on the feasibility of the east- west rail line. Looks like my earlier observations were right. We'd have to have more freight coming through Humboldt Bay than some larger ports to make the rail line cost effective and it would be problematic for the bay to accept that sort of traffic.

Then again, I've gotten the impression the writer, Ryan Burns, isn't exactly friendly to commerce. Maybe he's reading the report differently than some of the rest of us would?

That doesn't really matter. What wasn't mentioned was the difficulty of even starting any project of that magnitude in this state because of our regulatory and anti- business climate.

Even if the numbers penciled out in regards traffic through the bay vs. costs, I still couldn't see something like the east- west rail line happening if only because this is California- The State of NO.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Real George Zimmerman

Haven't had anything to write about lately. I don't want to roll this blog up and shut 'er down so here's some light reading about George Zimmerman.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Web News Site Upgrades

Two local news web sites recently went through transitions. Both the Times- Standard and Santa Rosa Press- Democrat seemed to upgrade their sites within days of each other.

I'm finally getting used to the Press- Democrat's new format. It is a bit less cluttered, although I'm still having to look a little harder to find the items I normally read.

The Times- Standard seems to have gotten rid of the slide out windows telling you what other stories you might be interested in- an annoying feature at best. At least I haven't noticed them the last couple days. Maybe they forgot to add them? I hope not. Nobody should miss them.

They have yet to add a section for letters to the editor, although you can get to them through the Opinion links at the top of the page. I suppose that's not too big of a deal. Despite the letters page supposedly being one of the most highly read in any paper, we don't seem to get many letters in the Times- Standard for some reason.

They still have that lame Today's Promotion tab type thing at the bottom of the page. That, and the occasional ads that pop up when you click on a link. I'd like to see them go, too, but understand they're desperate for advertising revenue. I wonder if they actually make any money from them?

One thing I wish both papers would do is dump the Facebook format for comments. I find FB comments format both annoying and awkward. I'd prefer they use Disqus comments as the Sacramento Bee and Lost Coast Outpost use. Disqus allows you to subscribe and unsubscribe to comment threads, something I'm not sure Facebook allows anymore.

Maybe FB still allows you to follow comments? It has a Follow Comment link you can click on, but it stopped working for me. I found it very useful when I'd make a comment on a story in the T-S or SR- PD and get a notified when someone replies to my comment. All of the sudden it stopped working and I can't find a way to get it started again. Disqus still works right so I'd prefer they all use Disqus for that reason alone.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Vaccination Stuff

This Popular Science article may be of interest to some of you. It supposedly refutes arguments anti- vaccination zealots have made. Whatever.

Vaccination is one of those things I roll my eyes about when I hear the complaints and conspiracy theories regarding it. My only question is when vaccination should be mandatory. Regardless, the info in the PS article might clear up things for some folks.

My only problem is the references to government approval of vaccines and no credible scientific evidence which seem eerily reminiscent of claims by the pro- fluoride folks in wanting to force fluoride on everybody: Trust us. We know what's best for you.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Zimmerman Did Nothing Wrong

I was going to stay out of the Zimmerman/ Martin fray but after reading some shameless news and commentary, I decided to weigh in on at least one aspect: Some accuse Zimmerman of being a vigilante. I suggest he did nothing wrong.

It took me a while to come to that conclusion. At first I mostly agreed with this writer that it was poor judgment on both sides. Then I started reading criticism of Zimmerman for literally stalking Martin and tracking him down. I don't think so.

What's wrong with someone taking an active role in a Neighborhood Watch program and looking out for suspicious people in his neighborhood? That sort of thing should be applauded, not condemned.

And if you saw someone in your neighborhood you thought suspicious, might it be a good idea to follow him to see what he's up to? Some of us would, some wouldn't, but there's nothing wrong with it.

What's wrong with confronting someone you think suspicious and asking him what he's doing? I did that myself just a couple days ago when some weird guy was hanging around my house and the house next door. Nothing wrong with asking a question and it might just send a bad guy packing when he realizes people are watching him.

Some of us might not have followed Martin as Zimmerman did. Many of us might not have had the courage to confront him and ask him what he was doing, but Zimmerman shouldn't be faulted for doing so.

There. I got that off my chest.

Also: Pat Buchanan takes a look at the case. Eric Peters has a pretty strong opinion, as well.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

EHS Auto Shop Continued

Got to thinking the other day. The big reason Eureka High's auto shop was being shut down was because of dismal attendance. What will they do if its replacement- the Hydraulics and Mechanics class- has the same dismal attendance or worse?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Eureka High Closing Auto Shop

I'm not sure what to think about the school board shutting down Eureka High School's auto shop program. I was appalled at first. I think it's important that kids learn skills they can use to get jobs later on in life.

Then I read the enrollment figures the Times- Standard published: 31 students for Auto 1, 11 for Auto 2 and only 1 for Auto 3.

Maybe those classes aren't cost effective? I suspect it costs quite a bit to keep the tools and equipment for those classes up and running. If there's not enough kids interested in using the equipment, is it worth the expense? I'd be curious to see the enrollment figures of other elective classes for comparison.

They're replacing that auto shop with some sort of power mechanics class involving diesel, hydraulics and such. Sounds like a good alternative and maybe auto tech could be incorporated into the class for interested students?

Regardless, I'm not sure this sounds as bad as it first did, so long as kids still have the opportunity to train for useful and needed employment. From what I've seen the auto repair shops are always busy.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

State Business Rankings

CNBC has ranked the different states in regards business competitiveness. There's an overall ranking and ranking by various categories. South Dakota, Texas and North Dakota are the top three. The bottom three are West Virginia, Rhode Island and Hawaii. California ranks 47 but came in second in technology and innovation.

Friday, July 12, 2013


CNN has a fun read on internet trolls.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

45 Enemies of Freedom

Reason magazine lists their top 45 enemies of freedom. Not just in the U.S., but around the world. Some of the names I don't recognize.

I certainly agree with their #1 choice of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He would have been my first choice. Somebody needs to off that guy. Dianne Feinstein should certainly be on the list, too.

I'll disagree with at least one choice: Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio listed #3. I'm not much of a fan of his anymore, but I'm not sure it's fair to say he's attacking freedom because he runs no frills (to put it mildly) jails. Same with his enforcement efforts against illegal aliens. There are a number of legitimate criticisms of him, but I don't think those two equate to being an enemy of freedom.

I'm surprised they didn't have Barrack Obama or George W. Bush on the list, but not to worry. Reason supplied its own poll where you can vote for your favorite enemies of freedom.

I voted for Obama and Bush, but drew a blank when trying to come up with others. Our new congressman, Jared Huffman, might qualify.

You might also enjoy reading Reason's list of Heroes of Freedom from back in 2003.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Blue- Green Algae: First in 15 years?

Am I missing something in this Times- Standard story on the recent Board of Supervisor's meeting? They've backed a request by the Eel River Recovery Project for $200k for a public education campaign for, among other things, water conservation. Says Volunteer Coordinator, Pat Higgins:

 "...drought conditions have caused major tributaries of the river to run dry and blue-green algae blooms -- toxic to humans and animals -- have been reported for the first time in the last 15 years."

Fifteen years? Seems to me we get warnings for that blue- green algae just about every year along with the usual stories of dead pets. I'm guessing this is just hype to help get the money?

I suspect it will be a waste of money to try and educate people about water conservation. If folks down on the Eel don't know about dry rivers and the necessity of conserving water by now, will they ever?

Monday, July 08, 2013

101 Corridor Plan Stalled

CalTrans' plan to modify the 101 corridor between Arcata and Eureka is being postponed because of concerns over a coastal commission ruling. Just as well, I suppose.

I haven't thought much about the plan to make that stretch of road safer, but I'm wondering if their supposed safety improvements might cause more problems than they solve? After all, as others have pointed out, even before the speed limit was lowered there weren't that many accidents along that stretch. With the lowered speed limit, I can't recall the last time we've had a bad one there. I'm sure it's been at least a year or two. Maybe longer?

And this idea of stoplights and intersections has me concerned. Seems to me they might cause more accidents than they prevent. As it is it's kinda hairy trying to get onto 101 from the two or three crossroads between Arcata and Eureka, but it's fairly easily done in actual practice.

Maybe that's why there's not so many accidents along that stretch of road? People are paying more attention to traffic because they're nervous about what they're about to do. When people feel safe they don't pay as much attention. That's when accidents happen.

I'm thinking maybe we should leave the corridor as- is.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Car Fire!

A car was fully destroyed by a fire across the street from our house this morning.

Was laying in bed around 5am when I heard a loud bang followed by some loud voices. It didn't sound like yelling, just people talking rather loud. The voices seemed to come from the direction of our local "druggie house". Heard two or three more bangs over a period of five minutes or so with the voices still being heard.

Finally I noticed a flickering on my living room wall from something outside. I get up, look out the living room window and there's a car- Jeep Cherokee?- fully involved on the Trinity Street side of the house caddy- corner from us. It was really burning. I called 911. 911 gal said they were already enroute.

I see the asian guy that lives on the corner backing his pick up truck away from the burning car. He was parked directly behind it.

Eureka Fire shows up a minute or two later. A loud bang comes from the car as they get out of their fire truck. There's a couple tenants from the druggie house standing out front of the corner house watching. Strange that they're fully dressed and standing there not seeming excited at all about what's going on. You'd think they'd have something to do with it but wouldn't someone run off if they were involved?

Eureka Fire puts out the fire and drives off by about 5:45am. I would have expected Eureka P.D. to show up as this sort of thing that early in the morning was probably arson, but I never saw them.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

American Arrogance

We need more leaders from other countries like this.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Gay Weddings In The News

Just about every newspaper and web site I've read the past week seems to have had at least one story covering the same- sex marriages that resumed after the recent Supreme Court decision.

I realize it's probably not a conspiracy. It is news and I can't blame the news media for running with a story. I don't think it's of benefit to the LGBT community to publicize this.

Keep in mind I opposed Prop. 8 and am glad the Supreme Court ruled the way it did, especially considering it could have come out worse. I don't think it's a good idea to rub this in the noses of those who remain bitter over the outcome and, reading comments to some of the news stories, many are very bitter.

There are those still strongly opposed to anything homosexual. They will see this as having it being rubbed in their faces and that will stiffen their resolve to keep fighting. If the marriages that have taken place were done more discretely, those opposed to gay marriage might have been more able to ignore them and hopefully move on.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

National Highway Ratings

The Reason Foundation did a study on state highway conditions and cost effectiveness. I'd been reading recently that California's highways were among the worst in the nation and wanted to see how California ranked among other states. Here's the top and bottom 5 rankings:

Best state highways:

North Dakota
New Mexico

The worst:

New Jersey
Rhode Island

I keep reading about how bad California freeways are. I realize the only freeway I frequent is from Eureka to San Francisco but, quite honestly, that stretch of freeway seems fine to me. I wonder what the good freeways must be like?

As far as cost per mile goes, I've probably mentioned more than once here that California ranks third highest in the country as far as dollars per mile of road built. This recent Dan Walters commentary claims we're up to number 2 now.

Does that mean California is spending even more, or did another state reduce its spending ratio somehow?

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Earthquake Photo Needed

I'm looking for a photo of the downed 101/ Tompkins Hill Road overpass from the November 8, 1980 earthquake. Shame of it all is that this report on the quake apparently had the photo, but that was likely before computers were so common. No links to the picture I need.

Can anyone find the picture? Times- Standard search doesn't seem to be working this morning.

Addendum: Still can't find the picture, but I did find this Santa Rosa Press- Democrat story on the guy who drove the Volkswagon off the bridge.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Jury Duty

Reason magazine has an article on jury duty titled Twelve Apathetic Men. I'm not sure I like the title. Sure, most of us would prefer not to hassle with jury duty, but we still show up when summoned. Okay, maybe some of us show up when summoned, but the few people I've known that actually got chosen and served on jury duty told me they were anything but apathetic.

One gal I know that served says she was really impressed with her fellow jurors and how they really tried to do the right thing and come up with a just verdict. Another gal related a similar experience.

Maybe there could be some improvements made to the jury system, but seems to me the system works pretty well here in Humboldt.

I believe I've shown up a couple times when summoned and there were at least a hundred others alongside me. Maybe more. One time I never got called to the jury box. The other time I actually got called and they asked me about my situation. Once I told them about the wife's cancer and having to go to UCSF fairly often the judge let me go.

Lately I've been trying to go down to the Jury Commissioner's office and get a one year deferment. That's easy enough to do, assuming I can drag myself down there. Last year it completely slipped my mind and I missed it. This year I told myself to go down and get a deferment well in advance of the show up date but one thing led to another and I never made it.

Come the day to show up I was actually feeling a little guilty. I had work to do and didn't want to get stuck for hours down at the courthouse. I was considering just blowing it off. After I got out of bed I got to thinking about it, took a look at the summons and decided to call the number on the summons. They have a notification system to let you know if your jury group has to show up.

Maybe I don't have to show up anyway? So I call the number and find my group's summons has been cancelled. Sweet! Now I don't have to feel guilty about not showing up.

I'm not sure I'd want to be in the position to pass judgement on most people. Still, I think jury duty is important and told the judge that one time I wouldn't mind serving for three days or so, if it was later in the summer when I wasn't busy. Maybe one of these days I will?