Canadian astronaut and Space Station Commander Chris Hadfield just finished his five-month tour of duty aboard the International Space Stationship (ISS) this Monday.
During that time he sent out a flurry of songs, thousands of snapshots and tweets, and other social media beamed directly from outer space to Earth.
And this is what he also did: a rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Since its posting this Sunday, it’s been viewed more than 14 million times. Even Bowie has been retweeting it.
This music video took months in the making: With Bowie’s approval, copyright permissions, and NASA signing off, the song’s lyrics were tweaked to reflect Hadfield’s return from the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz craft. His son, Evan, worked diligently on the production, too. From Earth.
“Lock your Soyuz hatch and put your helmet on,” Hadfield sings in the video. After showing scenes of Hadfield strumming on his guitar and gazing soulfully out the station’s windows in zero gravity, the video winds up with a Soyuz parachuting down to its landing– which is exactly how Hadfield returned four days ago.
Why did he do it? Commander Hadfield said he wanted to do a different kind of farewell video than others have done, and using social media as a platform. It was an emotional send off.
“Who’d have thought that five months away from the
planet would make you feel closer to people?” he asked.
“Not closer because I miss them, just closer because seeing an experience this way, and being able to share it through all the media we use, has allowed me to get a direct reflection immediately back from so many people,” Hadfield said.
“It makes me feel like I’m actually with people more– that we’re having a conversation. This experience isn’t individual; it’s shared and it’s worldwide,” he said.
It’s easy if you know where and when to lookfor it. The ISS is the third brightest object in the sky, after the sun and moon. You can’t miss it because it looks like an incredibly bright, fast-moving star.
Just remember there are people up there, an international crew of seven living for months at a time in a station, which, with its solar arrays out, is about the size of a football field.
Built in pieces and weighing in at over 4,000 tons, it has more livable room than a conventional five-bedroom house, with two bathrooms, a gymnasium, and a 360-degree bay window.
It’s been up there for 12 years now and has traveled more than 1.5 billion miles, or the equivalent of eight round trips to the Sun. It’s made 57,000 orbits around the Earth traveling at 17,500 miles per hour. That’s five miles per second.
110 years following the Wright Brother’s first flight, 204 individuals have visited the Space Station via rockets and shuttles, taking a total of 164 space walks outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
Utah native Devin Graham’s video of people cliff jumping in Hawaii will mostly leave you wishing you were there, though
some moments– especially with the point of view cameras–
are a little stomach churning.
They deserve to be.
Cliff jumping or tombstoning sometimes makes the news, and unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.
Every summer, many youngsters severely injure themselves or die because they dive off rocks and cliffs – often inebriated – into waters of unknown depths and submerged obstacles. Some are knocked unconscious; others drown.
We’ve had our fair share of accidents off Big Rock, Sandy Beach, Swimmer’s Delight, and a host of other Humboldt jump spots. It’s a death wish of sorts if one isn’t thinking about taking the fun jump halfway seriously and with a clear head.
Tombstoning, however, has a long tradition that goes back to ancient tribes – inhabitants of Easter Island or Hawaii, for example – that used cliff jumping as an initiation rite. Tombstoning is done in such a way that the jumper enters the water from a very high point vertically straight, like a tombstone. It was practiced with some degree of, well, let’s just say institutional experience, the wisdom and experience and trepidation of those mentors and elders who went before you. If you didn’t listen to your elders, you were toast. After all, these were the same guys who navigated thousands of miles across the ocean using only the stars and memory for a compass.
Instead of condemning the activity, we say go ahead and do it if you must– but do it wisely with someone who knows and has carefully checked out the lake, pond or ocean they’re jumping into. Or simply watch the pros do it. Heed your elders, because as you can see there are plenty of cool cliff jumping and tombstoning sites all around to live and dive for.
These viral videos by Devin Graham are best seen at full-screen resolution.
Tarsiers, the Wild Kingdom, and Finding Out Life Isn’t Fair
Skippy Massey Humboldt Sentinel
Freaky, freak, freaky.
Tarsiers are that much and more, as the above video shows.
Don’t worry, it’s safe to watch. There’s not too much drama and trauma going on. Just those big bug eyes staring blankly into your soul.
I’ve always been wary of animal flicks ever since they offed Old Yeller. Some boundaries are sacred and shouldn’t be crossed. Old Yeller was one of those. A protective and gentle yellow Lab winning the heart of the frontier family, the faithful old dog was put down because he contracted rabies. It was one of those unfair endings brutally assaulting and ripping the innocence out of our childhood and leaving us bawling on the floor.
OK, life is unfair. We get that. And we’ve never been
the same ever since. Thank you, Walt Disney.
Then there was the “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin. He was a total pain in the ass for any animal crossing his path. There’s a way to film animals without harassing them and screwing up their day, but this guy didn’t know it. He constantly had to be poking, taunting and wrestling them, working his schtick to prove what a brave Aussie scamp he was until nature finally canceled his film contract.
You’ll recall it was a benign stingray calling it curtains for Irwin. This should have been a normally uneventful crossing of paths between man and aquatic beast. But no-o-o-o… Mr.Crikey had to screw with the stingray and catch a spike to the heart. Nature is all about the quick and the dead. Nature batted first, not last, with the Crocodile Hunter. It’s surprising it took that long.
Mutal of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom reflected the realism of nature early on for those who remember. No longing shots of doe-eyed baby seals and cute furry-faced koalas here, but ’round-the-clock-murder that constituted the natural world and made observing its moments of grace such an ephemeral joy.
Wild Kingdom was hosted by the gentlemanly, avuncular, and dapperly-dressed Marlin Perkins. Mr. Perkins was an expert on reptiles and particularly venomous snakes, of which he was bitten four times. Unlike Irwin, however, he survived.
Perkins took his viewers all over the world and was one of the first voices to embrace the idea of conservation and the protection of endangered species. He had a particular love of odd animals and was fond of civets, mongooses, hyenas and the wild dogs of Africa. Neatly dressed in his khaki safari suit, Perkins loved square-offs and showdowns between nature’s Davids and Goliaths– the weasel-like mongoose killing the infinitely more frightening king cobra, a scorpion backing up a coyote with a bad-ass tail display, a six-ounce kestrel pounding the holy crap out of a pigeon in flight.
We learned all manner of weird facts from this show. That many people in India wear masks on the back of their head to stave off tiger attacks. That snakes actually hear with their tongues. That bluefin tuna, depending on water temperature, can be cold-blooded and warm-blooded. Or that the honey badger is immune to cobra venom. Oh, it might make him fall asleep for a minute or two, but upon waking up Mr. Honey Badger continues to eat the heck out of the cobra with a zest and zeal like it’s nobody’s business.
Mr. Perkins was a stickler for realism. His show was filmed on location and very often his co-stars, Jim Fowler and Stan Brock, would wind up in some hair-raising struggles with wild animals. Being the boss and certainly being no one’s dummy, Mr. Perkins usually stood in the foreground when danger was most imminent. He would remind the viewer just before the commercial break, “If a Bengal tiger ever tries to chew your face off… make sure you have adequate insurance coverage with Mutual of Omaha.”
I vividly remember Jim and Stan wrestling a 27-foot anaconda in the Amazon once. Jim’s head was buried in the snake’s coils and held underwater. Mud, leaves, swampy water, parasites, brains and who knows what else were leaking out of Jim’s ears as he’d come up and gasp for air every few seconds. Stan was desperately trying to get the snake into a gunny sack before Jim succumbed to an untimely fate.
Mr. Perkins calmly provided the narrative: “While Jim struggles to free his head, Stan is on task collecting the specimen into the snake bag.”
Jim Fowler, freaked out and frantically pointing at his head, was screaming and yelling as stuff poured out. Perkins wryly retorted, “Jim is getting quite a workout now, isn’t he!”
It was honestly scary. They finally got the snake into the sack. Jim Fowler was seriously fucked up, out of breath, looking short of brain cells, and covered head to toe in snake crap.
For a ten-year old kid, it was a terrifying drama to see unfold in the living room.
Mental note to self: ‘Never go to the Amazon. It sucks, and you will die. You won’t live long with wild animals and bugs, you will die a slow and horrible and painful death, and you will probably get eaten somewhere along the way.’
We’ve come to realize an important lesson early on from
these real-life animal shows. Life, like nature, is a brutal,
quick, and patently unfair business.
We’ll stick to seeing tame videos. Cordial ones. Where they don’t torment and torture wild animals. Like Tarsiers, seen safely from a distance.
Have you ever said to yourself, “Marathons are too easy, and Triathlons are for sissies?”
Well, we haven’t either. Those races are hard. Really hard. Think about it. The first person to run a marathon actually died. Yes, he died! And we surmise he didn’t have fun along the way.
Welcome to a new kind of race: THE DIRTY DASH. It’s a perfect fit for Humboldt to do. Or shamelessly imitate. It’s independently zany, it’s crazy, and it’s wildly colorful. A racy race that would cause your Grandma to blush her bloomers.
This dirty race puts all other races to shame. The Dirty Dash is a mud run obstacle course where military boot camp meets your inner five-year-old fantasy. It converts boy to man, and then man to swine in a really dirty sort of way.
It’s also fun. And we mean Way Fun.
You’ll need endurance to trudge up mountains of sludge, courage to overcome uncompromising obstacles, a complete lack of shame to wallow in pits of mud, and then a smile to show how happy you are making it through to the end!
This mud-run obstacle course could become your new guilty pleasure and your Facebook wallpage photo. Going solo or with some of your dirtiest, filthiest, & uncouth friends, you’ll be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I am a Dirty Dasher and there’s no shame in my game!”
Then, and only then, can you proceed to clean yourself off like the cheeky monkey you are.
Eleven 3-5 mile charity races are run throughout the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest– from Oregon to New Mexico– from June through September. Some of the shorter races also sport a 3 ½ mile shortcut. Why not? Everyone loves a shortcut.
They don’t care much about timing the races, either. It doesn’t matter. They also run rain or shine, saying:
“Seriously? How can the weather be bad? Shame on you; your glass is clearly half-empty. If it rains, even better, more mud! The Dirty Dash is as dependable as (and far less subsidized than) the US Postal Service and goes on rain or shine, global warming or global cooling.
If it gets too hot, feel free to bask in the mud pit for longer and if it gets too cold, feel free to drop into the fetal position with your teammates and cuddle for warmth.
However, rule #1 is safety first, so if there is lightning, we’ll postpone waves and running until it blows over. In case anyone was wondering, rule #2 is complete and brutal honesty amongst group members, and rule #3 is everyone hooks up with a local.”
Because it’s a family race, there’s only one version to do. You Dirty Dash however you need to and however long it takes.
You can walk. Run. Crawl. Wallow. Skip. Clamber. Lollygag. Grovel. Just be yourself and just finish before sundown so the coyotes and mosquitoes don’t git ya. You can run in sublime running shorts or dress up in a flashy costume. Pets and kids are welcome, too, but not necessarily in that order. They’ll also take you as on as a volunteer and ease you into this dirty lifestyle nice and slow. Keep in mind there is an age limit. It’s 106.
You can run it by yourself or with a team of your favorite friends, enemies and friendemies. Whoever likes to get dirty or whoever needs to simply get down and dirty in the worst way. Teams may encourage each other, mock each other, or drag each other over obstacles. “Feel free to clasp hands, smack bottoms, or open mouth kiss,” the rules say.
Did your last personal record run have a 175-foot slop n’ slide in the middle of it? Probably not. And a final finale mud pit? Nope. Sprinklers and showers and water blasters? Heavens to Betsy, no. While we’re at it, let’s throw in a Pig Sty, a Hog Wash, and a Piglet Plunge. Now
that’s what we call a race.
Wherever they go, runners completely change the landscape to an ultra muddy hue, making for the most interesting and diverse course ever run. The course itself, as you can see in the video, is full of obstacles ranging from mud pits, water slides, tires, logs, hay bales, wood structures, to just plain mud, more mud, and even muddier mud everywhere. Uh, did we say mud?
Why do it? Exercise? Maybe. Camaraderie? Most likely. Fun? You bet your mud-balls. Good cause? Check. Besides benefitting your cardiovascular system, each muddy Dirty Dash benefits local charities through the registration fees, online donations, water balloon sales, and shoe donations.
In this viral video best viewed at full-screen resolution, cinematographer Devin Graham filmed a Dirty Dash race taking place in Soldier Hallow, Utah. The race, like most of them, completely sold out in record time. Let’s face it:
people love to get dirty when it’s socially acceptable. A good
Dirty Dash race beats a bad diaper rash case.
It’s a perfect fit for our area– and it would be a muddy hit for someone getting it together for the Humboldt peeps. Half of our towns would turn out to run and watch. We would, too. In two shakes of a kitten’s whiskers.
If you know of someone in our running community interested in putting on something similar, share this with them.
Six Rivers Running Club? HSU? Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence? The Kinetic Sculpture Race or the babelicious Rutabaga and Humboldt Roller Derby Queens? Justin Bieber? (Sorry, all you Beliebers). Send it along …and we’d thank you for it! We’d love to see them all get a bit dirty. Sarah Palin and Anderson Cooper, too. We’d pay for that.
After all folks, this isn’t Survivor. It’s more like Jackass mixed with Dirty Jobs mixed with America’s Got Talent. And we’d like to have more fun with like-minded Humboldt folks and friends and cheeky monkeys everywhere.
No time for nattering nabobs of negativism here! It’s time to smile– and run a muck.
If you’d like to know more, you can find out all about these mud races in this link:
Just folks having fun and letting loose on the world’s largest rope swing at Corona Arch in Moab, Utah.
It’s become the newest and most popular pendulum destination for thrill seekers. The red sandstone formation’s popularity has risen over the past few years with the arch becoming known as “The Granddaddy of all Cheap Thrills” after climbers used their equipment to set up a giant rope swing last year.
Thanks to this viral video dubbed “World’s Largest Rope Swing” garnering over 19 million views, adrenaline junkies everywhere have been jumping off and swinging wild while tethered to climbing ropes.
Commercial tour companies even started rope swinging trips to Corona until they were recently banned. Nonetheless, the arch has remained open to individual swingers, hikers, climbers, partygoers, and weekend warriors– as long as they use their own private rigs.
Officials from the agency that manage the land the arch is on, the Utah Trust Lands Administration, said they can’t outright ban or prevent visitors from swinging from the arch, but will continue to emphasize its potential dangers: they’ve posted a sign warning of “severe injury or death even if your equipment works.”
“There’s no way on Earth you can tell someone not to climb a mountain,” Kim Christy, a deputy director at the agency, said.
That may change very soon. Due to the unfortunate death of a young jumper who miscalculated the length of his rope and fell to his death on Sunday, the days of swinging off the arch may be darkening.
Council punts on Eureka Fair Wage Act; voters to decide on November 4, 2014
By Charles Douglas Humboldt Sentinel
Not worth passing, and not worth studying.
The value of a $12-per-hour minimum wage in the City of Eureka was lost on the Council’s conservative majority, which rejected the citizen petition to immediately adopt the increase, and also rejected the option of ordering a 30-day study period to allow City Hall to research the matter.
“I’m not convinced at all we need a 30 day report,” Councilmember Melinda Ciarabellini said. “I’m also not convinced that the City of Eureka should take responsibility for a full and complete report assessment.”
Aside from the cost of a report — Ciarabellini cited a San Jose study, brought up by initiative proponents, as a $50,000 expenditure — the elected reps seemed predisposed in their decision. There was no amount of inquiry which appeared to interest them in creating the first municipal minimum wage in Humboldt County was advisable.
“We don’t have an option to alter the ordinance, so basically the interim study-type thing wouldn’t be complete, it wouldn’t change the outcome,” Councilmember Marian Brady said. “People will hopefully get educated on what the unintended consequences are.”
The 4-1 vote sends the Eureka Fair Wage Act to the next regularly scheduled municipal election, to be held on November 4, 2014. Proponents had hoped to gather the signatures of 15% of Eureka’s registered voters, which would have forced a special election this summer. About a fifth of the submitted signatures, however, were determined to be invalid, leaving them with 1,635 which counted; this still meant they were well ahead the 10% mark needed to qualify for a spot in the next general election. This will put the $12 wage question on the same ballot where the Mayor and three out of five members of the City Council will appear.
As ever, Councilmember Linda Atkins dissented from her colleagues, arguing strongly that the city need not wait nearly two years to alleviate the suffering of poverty-wage workers.
“I hope we can discuss this in kind of an unbiased way because I think in the last 30 years we’ve been inundated with a mindset that hasn’t worked…starting somewhere in the 80s, there’s been a concentrated effort to think of working people as the enemy,” she said. “We’ve been told that to raise people’s wages, we’re going to hurt businesses, when the San Jose study has showed that putting money in working people’s pockets helps the economy.”
Atkins pointed to figures provided by the California Budget Project, which show that it would cost a single adult $13.32-per-hour to skip any assistance from the government and pay for their own food, health care, transportation and housing — assuming a remarkably low rate of $569-per-month for an apartment.
“We’re not even talking about raising this wage to the point that people could actually live on,” she said. “I think we should just vote to pass this, and tell the people of Eureka we support you…our poverty level is hideous and I think this could help.”
A majority of public comments at tonight’s meeting made the same case on poverty, as Humboldt continues to rank as the third-poorest county in California.
“Many of Eureka’s problems are inseparable from our income being half the state average,” retired restauranteur George Clark said. “Sub-poverty wages require enormous public subsidies…a cycle that turns the poor into the destitute.”
Clark also called out the Councilmembers — namely Brady, Ciarabellini and Atkins — who form a majority of registered Democrats on the Council. He said they should honor their party’s platform to legislate on behalf of the working majority, a point also made by initiative proponent James Decker, who cited President Barack Obama’s call for a smaller federal minimum wage increase in this year’s State of the Union address.
“The critical variable in all the statistics is poverty,” Eureka retiree Lorraine Dunaway said. “Poverty is the number one risk factor for kids, for families, for females who make up far too much of the minimum wage work force. We would have a whole lot less dependence on social services if people could make a decent living.”
Neither party loyalty nor poverty appeared to motivate Brady and Ciarabellini; more apparent is the lasting impact of their cross-endorsement in their respective political campaigns with each other and with Mayor Frank Jager, a leading local Republican figure who served as County Coroner, and Councilmember Mike Newman, the former Chair of the Greater Eureka Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber has come out swinging against the $12 wage proposal, even though it wouldn’t directly affect a majority of its members, as the act excludes businesses with 24 or fewer employees.
Heavy hitters like Liana Simpson, owner of Sequoia Personnel Services, one of the largest temp agencies in the region, suggested people would drive from Eureka to Trinidad for the same meal if higher wages led to a four dollar increase in price.
“Employers of 25 or more who have minimum wage [workers] are less than 5% of the population,” she said. “These are the same employers who provide retirement benefits, education benefits and other incentives to our community.”
The “San Jose study” cited by both sides of the debate was produced by The Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, part of The Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley. The author, economics professor Michael Reich, concluded that San Jose’s Measure D, which raises that city’s minimum wage to $10 (without any exemption for small businesses), would pump $190 million into the regional economy without hurting employment levels.
“Measure D will increase operating costs of the average business by less than 0.25 percent,” Reich states. “These costs will be partly offset by cost savings to employers, such as more workers applying for jobs, lower employee turnover costs and higher worker productivity.”
“Prices in low-wage industries such as restaurants will increase by less than 0.71 percent, which translates into less than twenty-five cents on a $30 meal. Price increases of this magnitude do not measurably hurt sales.”
Although he doesn’t vote on such matters except to break a tie, the Mayor did attempt to strike one conciliatory note with the initiative’s backers, many of whom were involved in the Occupy Eureka activist group. The local version of the ‘Occupy Movement’ had encamped on the Courthouse lawn in late 2011 in a weeks-long protest before being raided and forcibly removed by the Eureka Police Department (the results of which are still being played out in court).
“I appreciate you going through this process than the process we just went through in the courthouse,” Jager said. “So thank you for this.”
He had previously accused Occupy Eureka of trashing the courthouse and wasting public resources, and advised them to “go home and use a different tactic.”
Apparently they have, and this time the voters, not the police, shall decide the outcome.
It is beautiful, sustaining, intriguing and fearsome.
The ocean is the life-giving force of our planet. Earth is
called the Blue Planet for this reason.
Often taken for granted, the ocean is the greatest resource we have—it’s vast blue body teeming with organisms from microscopic zooplankton to the behemoth blue whale. Planet Earth’s greatest mystery and uncharted wilderness, it is the primoridal soup of whence all life– and us– came.
The richest sources of biodiversity on Earth are found in both the tropical rainforests and the ocean. All surface life depends on life inside and beneath the ocean. Sea life provides all of our fresh water, half of our oxygen, regulates our climate, and is essential for providing our food.
Without the oceans, we would perish. In thetruest sense, we are all citizens of the sea.
* * * * * * *
This high-def video is best viewed at full screen resolution. The song is “Paradise” (Glebstar Dubstep Remix) by Coldplay.
Unlike cowardly California reps, the junior Senator from Kentucky defends Constitutional rights
While the simpering lickspittle politicians spend their time sucking up to corporate lobbyists at their endless round of fundraisers, a few brave souls in the United States Senate are actually on the floor of the Senate doing their job.
Bringing back the novel idea that a filibuster actually involves holding the floor and speaking — a spectacle last witnessed when Senator Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vermont) held the floor for nearly a day to hold up Obama’s tax cuts for the wealthy in 2010 — the junior Senator from Kentucky took the floor this morning, and as of press time, has not relinquished it.
Rand Paul (Rep.-Kentucky) is holding up the confirmation vote on John Brennan, who served as a Central Intelligence Agency official during the George W. Bush administration, to be the director of said spy shack. Brennan’s role in the Bush-era launch of indiscriminate rendition and torture of suspects in the never-ending War on Terror is legendary, but Paul is specifically targeting the purported “right” of the Obama regime to used unmanned aerial drones to kill anyone on Earth, without judge, jury or conviction under any due process.
“The idea that you don’t get due process is really repugnant to the American people, and it should be,” Paul said on the Senate floor just minutes ago. “There should be a huge outcry, and the president should come forward and explain his position.”
“There are some rights that are so special that we aren’t willing to give up on these…it’s about principles that are bigger than the people involved. It’s about Constitutional principles.”
We couldn’t agree more. The power to kill at will is the power of a dictator, no matter how much Obama says he isn’t one.
Thankfully, there are a few brave Senators that agree, including Mike Lee (Utah), Ted Cruz (Texas), Jerry Moran (Kansas), Marco Rubio (Florida), Saxby Chambliss (Georgia) and Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania). Oddly enough, all these men are Republicans, and several of them were silent when the Bush Administration promulgated the very Constitution-shredding policies that Obama has expanded.
Paul says he would be doing the same thing even if a Republican were in the White House, and we are grateful that somebody on Capitol Hill puts their oath of office ahead of their political party.
Somebody else up there is acting in a similarly honorable fashion: Ron Wyden (Dem.-Oregon), who has also stood up against the National Defense Authorization Act and various other attacks on civil liberties over the last several years.Nowhere to be seen, naturally, are Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California. Their lack of respect for the Bill of Rights and their disregard for the tyrannical direction of the federal government have been confirmed by their negligence — and in the case of Feinstein, active cheerleading for more police state powers to be concentrated in the Executive Branch.
Tune in to CSPAN-2 and see for yourself what a real American hero looks like. Rand Paul, we salute you, and we salute everyone who stands with the Constitution against its domestic enemies.
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