Archive | Features

Ordinary Love

 

U2 Takes It Higher

 

VIRAL VIDEO:  The Official Song Trailer

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

As simple as this:

Ordinary love makes for something extraordinary.
A beautiful message for a beautiful day.


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Their first release in over 3 years, Ordinary Love is performed by U2.  The track was composed and recorded for the soundtrack of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

Created, Directed & Made by Mac Premo & Oliver Jeffers.  Filmed in high-def, it views well on a large screen.

 

 

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Have a good Sunday.  Or anyday.  And thank you for your love.

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Morgan Maassen’s ‘Water’

 

About As Dreamy As It Gets

Award-Winning Video

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

We know excellent photography when we see it.

To be a well-rounded surf photographer, shooting from the water is key.  

With a number of factors that aren’t relevant while shooting from land, water photography can take a bit more time and work to master.  Knowing your equipment, the waves, and the surfer you are shooting are paramount for capturing that perfect moment.  It doesn’t come easy.

Morgan Maassen’s odyssey of moving water is nothing less than spectacular.  Thanks to his photography and a sharp natural eye for the aquatic perspective, every hard-earned clip in Morgan’s new short film, Water, is beautifully done.

About the film Morgan simply said:

“I’m very pleased to launch my newest short film, “Water.”  I filmed it across several different trips to Tahiti and Hawaii on my Red Epic.

It’s a brief odyssey into the world I cherish most, that of the ocean.”

 

This is about as dreamy as it gets. And deservedly, this natural high is a Vimeo Staff Pick.

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Film Credit:  Morgan Maassen, Vimeo

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California: Dogs In Cars

 

Doing What They Love Most

VIRAL VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

If three minutes of sunshine and dog smiles doesn’t make you grin, we’re not sure what will.

In his short film Dogs In Cars: California, director Keith Hopkin captures eight dogs doing what they love and do best:  leaning out the passenger side of their owners’ cars.

Set to the song California by Phantom Planet, the slow-motion video has the flapping ears and rippled fur of Jasmine, Kona, Bailey, and others as they ride shotgun through the streets of LA.

It’s a moment of sheer bliss and a kind reminder.  Dogs filled with the joy of life, closing their eyes and giving themselves to the happy pleasure of it all:  the sun, the wind, and everyday love.

When life gets overwhelming, take a page from the dogs’ playbook.  Let yourself be satisfied and content with a simple ride through life and the little things around you.

 

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Posted in Features, Media, Scene2 Comments

A Good Life, Too

 

The Touching Story of Alonzo Clemens

 

An Award-Winning Video

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

“That man glows.  Straight up.  There’s something in his eyes.  
Just watch the video.  There’s a depth of humanity there that
I’ve not quite been able to understand.”

~Joseph LeBaron, filmmaker

 

Alonzo Clemons is an artist.  One with a remarkable background.

His sculptural specialty is the creation of animal figures, full of life and spirit.  They are made in his own hands without the use of tools, and with amazing speed and accuracy and great artistic beauty.

As a toddler, Clemons suffered a head injury in an accident.  It dramatically changed the way he thinks, learns, and communicates.  Institutionalized for ten years in a state hospital, he continued to find ways to make delicate figures using his hands.  When they wouldn’t give him clay, he would scrape
warm tar from the parking lot to sculpt the animals he loved to see.

While much was lost due to the injury, something miraculous also occurred.  As Clemons puts it, “God gave a gift.”

He began showing a fascination with modeling materials.  He nurtured a tremendous inner drive to make sculpture.  Even in situations where he did not have access to modeling clay, his determination to make models of animals was so great he found materials in his environment he could use for sculpting.

For over twenty years he continued to practice his art in obscurity until the early 1980′s when the movie Rain Man, featuring Dustin Hoffman in the role of a disabled man, brought international media attention to the phenomenon known as Savant Syndrome.  Savant Syndrome refers to individuals who have both a developmental disability and a spectacular, genius-level skill ability in a specific area.

Clemons is recognized as one of the world’s prodigious savants and has been featured 60 Minutes, Geraldo, and the Discovery Channel’s World of Wonder.  The resulting media exposure gave him
the opportunity to gain worldwide recognition for his art.

From his youth, Clemons had not only the genius for his art, but an inner vision to become successful with it.  The dreams he consequently realized are truly continuing to unfold in his life.

Clemons has a rich and active lifestyle in his community of Boulder, Colorado.  Living in his own home with some assistance, he works part time on jobs in the community and demonstrates sculpting at children’s schools in the area.  He does this in addition to his work as a fine artistic sculptor.

His other personal interests include power lifting, where he competes at the Special Olympics.  Clemons also thoroughly enjoys visiting the animals he loves so much at the Denver Zoo, the National Western Stock Show, and at local farms and ranches.

But above all, his radiant personality touches all who know him.

 

 

 …for JEH and LC Ash, with thanks…

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…And Now For Something Completely Different

 

Thinking Outside the Box

A Truly Awesome VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

The first time watching “Box” is a unique and awesome experience.

The viewer must juggle pure enjoyment with logistical questions and thoughts about the potential boundaries.

The second time watching it—and we recommend that on a full screen—makes the magical illusions less illusory, meshing the images back to a state of reality that we can fully comprehend.

We watched in awe.  How did they do it?

The production house Bot & Dolly introduces us to special robotic camera systems that can move objects with remarkable precision.  Flat images projected onto the screens make it seem as if 3D objects move around a room while a man, seemingly in total control, interacts with them.

It is rare to come across a video that introduces a technique that is completely new to the film industry and to see it on the grandiose scale of “Box” is unforgettable.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

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Altered Route

 

A Short and Bizarre Skate Film

VIRAL VIDEO

 

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Truly strange:  Skating the day away and greeting the Ghosts of Time along the way.

Filmmaker Brett Novak and skater Kilian Martin teamed up to make this eerie flick, considered to be one of the best skate flicks ever.

Known for his creativity, Kilian isn’t your typical skateboarder and “Altered Routes” isn’t your typical skateboarding video.  It’s a strange little scintillating gem, shining like a lost lost  jewel in the Bagdad Cafe desert sun.

Set in an abandoned family fun park in the Mojave Desert, with tumble weeds and the melancholy atmosphere of a more glorious past rolling through it, this artistic glimpse of a bygone era highlights some spectacular skate skills, board control, and an atmospheric– if not outright spooky– soundtrack from Patrick Watson.

 

 

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The Changing Economics of Farmland

 

Driving Up Food Costs:

Aging Farmers Retire Family Farms to Private Investors

VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

The family farm is changing.

An estimated 400 million acres of farmland in the United States will likely change hands over the coming two decades as older farmers retire.  New evidence indicates this land is being strongly pursued by private equity investors.

Mirroring a trend being experienced across the globe, this increasing focus on agriculture-related investment by the private sector is already leading to a spike in U.S. farmland prices.  Coupled with relatively weak federal policies, these rising prices are barring many young farmers from continuing or starting up small-scale agricultural operations of their own.

In the long term, critics say, this dynamic could speed up the already fast-consolidating U.S. food industry, with broad ramifications for both human and environmental health.

“When non-operators own farms, they tend to source out the oversight to management companies, leading in part to horrific conditions around labor and how we treat the land,” Anuradha Mittal, the executive director of the Oakland Institute, a U.S. watchdog group focusing on global large-scale land acquisitions, said.

“They also reprioritize what commodities are grown on that land, based on what can yield the highest return.  This is no longer necessarily about food at all, but rather is a way to reap financial profits. Unfortunately, that’s far removed from the central role that land ultimately plays in terms of climate change, growing hunger and the stability of the global economy.”

In a new report, the Oakland Institute tracks rising interest from some of the financial industry’s largest players.  Citing information from Freedom of Information Act requests, the group says this includes bank subsidiaries– the Swiss UBS Agrivest; pension funds like the U.S. TIAA-CREF; and other private equity interests such as HAIG, a subsidiary of Canada’s largest insurance group.

“Today, enthusiasm for agriculture farmland borders on speculative mania.  Driven by everything from rising food prices to growing demand for biofuel, the financial sector is taking an interest in farmland as never before,” the report states.

“Driven by the same structural factors and perpetrated by many of the same investors, the corporate consolidation of agriculture is being felt just as strongly in Iowa and California as it is in the
Philippines and Mozambique.”

As yet, the amount of U.S. land owned by private investors is thought to be relatively low.  The report points to a 2011 industry estimate that large-scale investors at the time owned around one percent of U.S. farmland, worth between $3 to $5 billion dollars.

Last year, however, another industry analyst put this figure at around $10 billion dollars, suggesting that the institutional share of farmland ownership is rising quickly.

In the year after food prices suddenly rose in 2008, global speculation in land rose by some 200 percent.

With the international financial meltdown coinciding almost simultaneously with this crisis, investors have increasingly viewed agricultural land as a relatively safe place to put their money amidst rising volatility.

In the United States, investors are eyeing potential future returns from mineral prospecting, water rights and strengthening trends in meat consumption.  U.S. farmland is also seen as globally desirable due to a combination of high-tech farming opportunities and lax regulations regarding the use of genetically modified crops.

As a result of this new interest, land prices in the United States have risen by an estimated 213 percent over the past decade.  This could now play into two trends at once.

The most recent statistics suggest that just 6 percent of farmers are under 35 of age.  Further, some 70 percent of U.S. farmland is owned by people 65 years or older.

“The older generation needs to cash out because they have no retirement funds, even as the new generation doesn’t have the capital to get into the kind of debt that starting a farm requires,” Severine von Tscharner Fleming, a farmer and co-founder of the Agrarian Trust, a group that helps new farmers access land, said.

“Today there is a huge number of older folks trying to decide what to do with their land, and in many places we don’t have many years to help them make that decision.  So in that sense there’s an urgent need, and we don’t have many tools at the federal level to help.”

For the most part, Fleming suggests, U.S. federal agriculture policy today is not aligned to the country’s best interests, instead pointing away from greater agricultural diversity, regional resilience and greater strengthened opportunity for rural economies.  Nonetheless, she says that her organization is encountering a surge of attention from young people that want to start their own farms.

“Over the past seven years, we’ve had an explosion of interest in being trained as a farmer and entering the trade of agriculture, and this is very much related to the crises around the banks and the environment,” she says.

“The problem we’re facing is not one in which nobody wants to farm, but rather the fact that the U.S. economy is structured in such a way that makes it really hard to start a farm in this country.”

 

Via Undernews/Popular Resistance

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Bigfoot Found: Bagged, Stuffed, and Coming to a Town Near You

 

There is a Sucker (and Huckster) Born Every Minute

(VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

SAN ANTONIO, TexasDon’t believe everything you hear.

In 2009, San Antonio dispatchers couldn’t believe their ears.  A 911 call was made from a homeless couple camping near Hwy 151 who claimed a Bigfoot was in the woods with them.  The story made the news and the chase was on.

“That news story that you covered, that’s what let the cat out of the bag,” said self-proclaimed Bigfoot hunter Rick Dyer.

Dyer said that report prompted him to head to Texas, where he tracked down the Sasquatch and shot not one– but two– of the beasts near Loop 1604 in northwest Bexar County.

“There’s no allegedly about it.  I shot and killed the beasts there,” Dyer said.

Dyer said he baited the creature with $200 worth of ribs before he shot and killed it.  “I nailed … pork ribs from the WalMart down the street to the side of the tree, and low [sic] and behold, he came out and started eating the pork ribs off the tree,” Dyer said.

If Dyer’s name sounds familiar to viewers, it’s because he made the news for other reasons of credibility.  In 2011 San Antonio police arrested him for defrauding folks on eBay for allegedly selling them Corvettes he never delivered.

But Dyer’s real fame comes from among the Bigfoot hunting community themselves.  He is known for a Sasquatch hoax in 2008 that gained international attention.  The Bigfoot specimen he obtained and exhibited at the time was revealed to be a fake after a researcher stuck his hand inside the case and discovered it was merely a rubber ape costume.  Dyer claimed the ‘real’ Bigfoot had unknowingly been stolen the night before– and deviously switched with an identical replacement.

“Yes, I played a hoax, and I take full responsibility for it,” Dyer said.  ”I did the hoax and ever since then, I have been a Bigfoot tracker.”

Dyer said he’s on tour now with his latest “kill,” to restore his reputation.  He plans to exhibit his second specimen in the coming weeks.

“It’s just impossible to be faked.  I don’t have the budget to fake it, if it could be done,” Dyer said.

His tour is called the “I told You So” tour, currently located in the Texas panhandle with stops planned in Houston, Austin and San Antonio.

According to news reports, stops in parts of New Mexico and Arizona have reportedly fallen apart, with venues refusing to hold his exhibit.

So, what exactly is in the glass enclosure in his trailer?

Dyer calls him “Hank,” and says it’s an 800-pound, 8-foot creature—stuffed and mounted for public viewing.  It’s a new species, Dyer insists.

When pressed for details about claims of DNA tests, an autopsy and an MRI, Dyer said an unnamed, West Coast university has taken 15 months to complete them all.

“They dissected the body.  The heart and lungs will be on display at the medical press conference.  I love the controversy because people think, ‘Oh, this is just another dumb country boy hoax,’ but what they’re looking at is a real Bigfoot,” Dyer said. 

“On Feb. 9, we’re going to unveil the medical results.  And then on the 28th, we’re going to do an international press conference.”

At first, Dyer’s promoter said the tests haven’t been released yet.  But now Dyer says he’s signed a non-disclosure agreement with the college and cannot tell the results of the research.

Expect his taxidermied tour to reach San Antonio’s citizens in the coming weeks.

“I’m not trying to make them believe.  I’m just giving them the opportunity to come and see it.  And they can leave here and make up their own mind,” said Dyer.

We believe it’s the death of a myth and the birth of a legend.  Rick Dyer’s legend. 

We can’t wait to see how the public will respond to Dyer’s Bigfoot body tour and how the scientific world will weigh in on his alleged DNA evidence. 

Don’t hold your breath.  Remember what P.T. Barnum said about suckers.

 

Below, you can catch the 9-minute video posted this morning by Dyer himself and narrated in his own words, deciding for yourself if he truly caught and killed the elusive legendary creature or not. 

 

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Via KENS/Huffington Post/KCTV/Rick Dyer and YouTube
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Native Americans: ‘No Keystone XL Pipeline Will Cross Our Lands’

 

Native Groups Vow Resistance Against ‘Black Snake’ Pipeline

(VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Sarah Lazare
Common Dreams

 

It could get loud.

Native American communities are promising fierce resistance to stop TransCanada from building, and President Barack Obama from permitting, the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“No Keystone XL pipeline will cross Lakota lands,” declares a joint statement from Honor the Earth, the Oglala Sioux Nation, Owe Aku, and Protect the Sacred.  “We stand with the Lakota Nation, we stand on the side of protecting sacred water, we stand for Indigenous land-based lifeways which will NOT be corrupted by a hazardous, toxic pipeline.”

Members of seven Lakota nation tribes, as well as indigenous communities in Idaho, Oklahoma, Montana, Nebraska and Oregon, are preparing to take action to stop Keystone XL.

“It will band all Lakota to live together and you can’t cross a living area if it’s occupied,” said Greg Grey Cloud, of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, in an interview with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.  “If it does get approved we aim to stop it.”

The indigenous-led ‘Moccasins on the Ground’ program has been laying the groundwork for this resistance for over two years by giving nonviolent direct action trainings to front-line communities.

“We go up to wherever we’ve been invited, usually along pipeline routes,” said Kent Lebsock, director of the Owe Aku International Justice Project, in an interview with Common Dreams.  “We have three-day trainings on nonviolent direct action.  This includes blockade tactics, and discipline is a big part of the training as well.  We did nine of them last summer and fall, all the way from Montana to South Dakota, as well as teach-ins in Colorado and a training camp in Oklahoma.”

“We are working with nations from Canada and British Columbia, as well as with the people where tar sands are located,” Lebsock added.

“As an example of this nonviolent direct action,” explains Lebsock, in March 2012 people at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota held a blockade to stop trucks from transporting parts of the Keystone XL pipeline through the reservation.

In August 2013, members of the Nez Perce tribe blockaded megaloads traveling Idaho’s Highway 12 to the Alberta tar sands fields.

Descendants of the Ponca Tribe and non-native allies held a Trail of Tears Spiritual Camp in Nebraska in November to prevent the construction of the pipeline.

More spiritual camps along the proposed route of the pipeline are promised, although their date and location are not yet being publicly shared.

The promises of joint action follow the U.S. State Department’s public release on Friday of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). This report has been widely criticized as tainted by
the close ties between Transcanada and the Environmental Resource
Management contractor hired to do the report.

While the oil industry is largely spinning the report as a green-light for the pipeline, green groups emphasize that it contains stern warnings over the massive carbon pollution that would result if the pipeline is built, including the admission that tar sands oil produces approximately 17 percent more carbon than traditional crude.

The release of the FEIS kicked off a 90-day inter-agency review and 30-day public comment period. 

The pipeline’s opponents say now is a critical time to prevent Obama from approving the pipeline, which is proposed to stretch 1,179 miles from Alberta, Canada, across the border to Montana, and down to Cushing, Oklahoma where it would link with other pipelines, as part of a plan to drastically increase Canada’s tar sands production.

The southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline — which begins in Cushing, passes through communities in Oklahoma and East Texas, and arrives at coastal refineries and shipping ports — began operations last month after facing fierce opposition and protest from people in its path.

“Let’s honor the trail blazers from the Keystone XL south fight,” said Idle No More campaigner Clayton Thomas-Muller. “Time for some action, and yes, some of us may get arrested!”

 

~Via UnderNews /Common Dreams, Indian Country News, Censored News, Honor the Earth and Winona LaDuke/YouTube

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Click here to look for an event near you, and sign up to host if there isn’t one near you.

Click here to sign a petition to urge Obama to stop the Keystone XL.

Support Moccasins on the Ground to organize further grassroots resistance.

 

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Posted in Environment, Features, National2 Comments

Report: North Korea Lands Astronaut on the Sun

 

Maybe.  It’s Possible.

(VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

The source for this is something we’ve never heard of
before today – a web site called
Waterford Whispers News.

There was also a report last year from Investors Business Daily that the North Koreans– Norks for short– had announced their intention to put a man on the sun.  If you haven’t been to North Korea lately, and many of you haven’t, you should know that the world is their oyster.  Might as well throw in the universe, too.

We can’t find anything about this on the English-language version of the KCNA, which is the Norks’ official news agency site, but the report says it was uttered in the State News Agency of North Korea televised newscast– for which they offered no video as backup.

We don’t know.  We suppose it says everything about the madcap nature of this regime that one finds to hard believe anyway.  Surely they could make such an outlandish claim and one can never be entirely sure of what they may or may not be up to next.  Kismet happens, you know.

And we want to believe!

It reported that astronaut Hung Il Gong left for the sun on a specially designed rocket ship at approximately 3 a.m. yesterday morning:

Hung, who traveled alone, reached his destination some four hours later, landing his craft on the far side of the lonely star.

 “We are very delighted to announce a successful mission to put a man on the sun,” a North Korean central news anchor man said on a live broadcast earlier.  

“North Korea has beaten every other country in the world to the sun.  Hung Il Gong is a hero and deserves a hero’s welcome when he returns home later this evening.”

The specially trained astronaut was expected to return back to earth at 9 p.m, where he will meet his uncle and supreme leader Kim Jong-un.

 It is understood that the 17-year-old ‘space explorer’ traveled at night to avoid being engulfed by the sun’s rays, and that this genius approach has brought the nascent Soviet state to the top of the global space rankings.

While on the sun, Mr. Hung collected sun spot samples to bring back to his supreme leader as a present.

The 18 hour mission is already being called the ‘greatest human achievement of our time’ by the North Korean central news agency.

 

Oh please, don’t tell us some knucklehead made this up. 
Or that the Norks aren’t really making this claim.

After all, they did claim Kim Jong Il shot somewhere between 5 and 11 holes-in-one– and that was the first time he ever played golf.  He may be short, stout and portly, but c’mon now.  Move over, Tiger.  That Kim got swing!

And don’t believe the stereotype that Asians can’t drive.  Kim Jong-un learned how to take the wheel at the age of three and drive like the gifted speed demon child that he is.

Then there was that other story.  You remember the one.  The unicorn lair that was found near Pyongyang in 2012.  Now that’s one for the science books.  Move on over, Bigfoot; there’s a new dog moving on in.

Those possibilities are slightly less plausible than this, but the Norks clearly aren’t too concerned about incredulity from the masses.

But wait, you say . . . they’re crazy, this is just too much!  To the sun and back in 18 hours?  He “traveled at night to avoid being engulfed by the sun’s rays”?  

He brought back “sun spot samples” as a gift for Jong Jr.? 

And… the 17-year-old’s name was Hung Il Gong?

Come on.  This has got to be the work of some wisecracking crackhead and not the usual hardworking North Korean propagandists working overtime extolling the virtues of their Triumphant First World Nation State.

Our initial theory?  Both could be true.

You see, who’s to say there’s not some village idiot who wormed his way into the propaganda ministry – someone who has a clear understanding of how insane all this is, but noticed that Kim Jong Un and his inner circle are so divorced from reality that, no matter how absurd the material is, they keep signing off on it.  So why not have some fun, push the boundaries, and get away with it?

They let you put out that business about Kim Jong Un’s uncle being fed to starving dogs?  Hey!  Up your game, buddy!  If you can’t make it, fake it.  How about landing a man on the sun?  Surely you’re not going to get that one through . . . whoa, ha-ha, chuckle and whoopee!  The sun’s the limit!

Hey, it’s plausible.  It could happen.  Maybe they really did it.  Maybe that undying faith Obama, Bush, Boehner, and Pelosi have in the great power of government doesn’t go far enough like what the Little Big Man can do. 

But alas, all good stories must end.

Spoiler alert:  If you’re a fan of the alternately horrifying and fascinating news coming out of the Hermit Kingdom’s squalid dictatorship of starving masses and gulags, read no further.  We’re warning you.

Ok, you stuck with us this far.  Here’s the skinny of what happened:

Where the joke originated:  Did North Korea really claim to put a man on the sun– or do people just like making Kim Jong-un look like a super-duper extra sillypants after palling around with Dennis Rodman several weeks ago?

Despite outlandish Norky propaganda, this article originally appeared on the Waterford Whispers News, a satirical Irish site (think The Onion) running headlines like ”Ground-Breaking WIT Study Finds Link Between Obesity and Over-Eating” and “World Leaders Renew International Lie-To-People Pact.

Believing this story was genuine propaganda would require an assumption that North Koreans are either blindingly stupid or all carbon copies of Winston Smith at the end of Nineteen Eighty-Four, both of which are clearly untrue.

North Koreans aren’t scientifically illiterate enough to believe you can land on the sun.  In fact, depending on who you ask, North Korea can’t even build real missiles.  A pair of German missile experts says that the ICBMs North Korea is so fond of parading around are low-quality mockups.  Other experts disagree, saying the mockups are evidence that the North Koreans are getting closer to building an ICBM capable of striking the continental United States.

Either way, they can’t even launch satellites properly, so the sun seems a little bit out of their league.

Let’s do the math.  Traveling to the sun in 4 hours would mean traveling at 23,240,000 miles per hour.  That would be 640 TIMES faster than the current spacecraft record of 36,373 mph– or 30,500 times the speed of sound.  Another way to see it:  Mr. Hung guy flew at 1/28 the speed of light.

Whew.  That’s fast.  Very fast.  And the sun is hot.  Very, very hot.  Even at night.

Well, our hats could have been off to the North Koreans for shattering all previous speed records to smithereens and setting a new milestone for the epic discovery of the sun. 

Sadly, they didn’t pull it off after all.

Darn.  We so wanted to believe.  In unicorns and hole-in-ones and gifted children.  And now this happens.

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(Sourced from YouTube/PolicyMic/Canada Free Press/and others)

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Texas Tea and Wildcat Oil

 

Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale Play Making Crude Millionaires Overnight

(VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

THREE RIVERS, Texas– Not long ago, Richard Dockery was a real estate and insurance broker in this town of 1,800 residents, putting together small land deals and cobbling together a nest egg for retirement.

Today, Dockery, 47, lives in a new, 2,400-square-foot home that he bought with cash and will have his 23-year-old daughter’s medical school bills covered before she steps into her first classroom.

Once a month, a six-figure check in his name arrives in his mailbox from an energy company — royalties earned by leasing his property to oil companies and co-owning wells.  It’s one of several that appear in his box each month that, added up, equal roughly the annual salary of a midlevel NBA player.

“It’s crazy,” Dockery says.  ”And I’m small fry. There are literally thousands of people out here who are millionaires, and some who are going to be billionaires.  It’s the wild, wild West.”

Dockery and this small city, 75 miles south of San Antonio, are at the epicenter of one of the biggest oil booms ever to hit Texas — and possibly the USA.  A vast oil and gas reservoir in South Texas known as the Eagle Ford Shale, along with another in West Texas known as the Permian Basin, is driving the boom and could make Texas one of the leading oil producers on the planet.

Advanced drilling technology, such as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and horizontal drilling are unlocking huge reservoirs of oil previously deemed impossible to reach, doubling the state’s crude oil production the past two years.

This year, Texas is projected to produce more than 3 million barrels a day — moving it ahead of Kuwait, Mexico and Iraq to become the eighth-largest oil producer in the world.

The U.S. still imports far more oil than it exports, due in part to a law restricting crude oil exports.  Last year, the U.S. imported about 7.5 million barrels a day, while exporting only about 100,000 barrels a day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  The exports ban, dating to the Arab oil embargo of 1973, is now being challenged by lobbyists and lawmakers because of the huge amounts of oil being produced, primarily in Texas and North Dakota.

Energy companies are likely to invest more than $100 billion in Texas in the next few years to extract oil from the shales.  In 2011 alone, the boom created more than 38,000 jobs in South Texas and poured more than $500 million into local and state coffers.

It’s not just oil companies and counties profiting.  Ranch owners who previously had only scrub bush and white-tailed deer on their property are leasing their land for millions of dollars a month.  Schoolteachers lucky enough to have oil beneath their yards have left their jobs to travel the world or open boutiques.  Small-town real estate brokers, like Dockery, have become overnight millionaires by selling plots of land that once sold for $2,000 an acre for 100 times that much.

This is the latest in a string of Texas oil booms — and perhaps one of the biggest — since Anthony Lucas punched a hole in Spindletop Hill near Beaumont in 1901, thrusting the country into the modern petroleum era.  The Spindletop discovery and another one in East Texas in the 1930s at the time made Texas the largest producer of oil in the world. This one is far bigger.

“It’s as significant as the discovery of oil itself,” says David Arrington, a Midland, Texas, oil executive who made nearly $900 million plumbing for natural gas in North Texas eight years ago.  Today, he’s investing “every penny of it” in the Permian Basin.

 

Boom Brings Headaches

But for every story of overnight riches, there are tales of the boom’s potentially negative impact:  overpowering chemical smells near wells;  residents waking up in the middle of the night with headaches or nosebleeds;  threats to drinking aquifers;  roads banged up by oil trucks and spikes in traffic fatalities;  soaring rents; and even earthquakes.

“It’s brought money to people overnight,” Three Rivers Mayor Sam Garcia says of the boom.  ”But it has its own set of challenges.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” where water, sand and other materials are injected into underground rock formations at high speeds to free pockets of fossil fuels, and horizontal drilling have been used for years, mostly to harvest natural gas.  But oil’s high price, hovering at around $100 a barrel, has given energy companies unprecedented financial resources to put the technology to work for crude.

Today, more than 7,000 oil and gas wells have been drilled or are scheduled to be drilled along the Eagle Ford Shale, a crescent-shaped formation 4,000 feet underground that stretches 400 miles along the Texas-Mexico border.  The technology used in South Texas could soon migrate to similar shales around the world, unlocking billions of gallons of more crude and buying valuable time to develop alternative energy sources, Tinker says.

Just how much crude is down there? That’s been a point of hot debate in the industry.

Given the current rate of extraction and number of wells, the shale could produce for another five to 10 years, then become mostly dry, says Arthur Berman, a Sugarland-based petroleum engineer and shale skeptic.  The technology that reached the tucked-away crude is also sucking it out at record speeds, he says.

“We’ve been given a gift, a reprieve, from where we thought we were a few years ago,” Berman says. “But that reprieve is a short one.”

 

Dancing Sugar Plum Fairies and Dollar Signs

In the meantime, wildcatters, residents and ranchers of South Texas are cashing in.

When the oilmen came calling, David Martin Phillip, a former mining executive and cattle rancher in Karnes City, refused to let them drill on his ranch.  Instead, he leased them his mineral rights that allowed them to drill on neighboring ranches and reach the oil beneath his property horizontally, he says.

Using royalties from that transaction, Phillip, 64, recently bought a restaurant and two local radio stations, which he plans to use to broadcast oil news.

Down the road in Three Rivers, 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers rumble through town, hauling sand or enormous engine parts to drilling pads.  West of town, Texas Highway 72, once lined with acre after acre of scrub bush, today is populated with oil supply companies, RV parks and “man-camps” housing oilmen, and drilling wells alighted with gas flares stretching to the horizon.

Dockery, the real estate broker, says he sniffed out the rush in 2009 when out-of-town researchers began showing up in the local courthouse, looking up property titles.  He quickly started buying land he thought would be useful to oil companies.  Developers built two man-camps on one of his lots and an oil company drilled a water well for a fracking pond on another of his properties, for which he gets monthly royalties.  Dockery used money from those ventures to buy a stake in four wells.

The monthly royalties — “mailbox money,” he calls it — started pouring in.

“I was this sleepy broker in this small town,” Dockery says.  ”Then, all of a sudden, the world drops a bomb on us, and we explode.”

Tax revenues from the oilfields have built Three Rivers a new high school and state-of-the-art football field.  Four new hotels sprouted up in town and four more are in the works.

But the army of workers and supply trucks are also taking a toll on the small town, Mayor Garcia says.  Traffic accidents are now a daily occurrence.

The city’s 10-man police force is struggling to keep up with traffic calls, break-ins and an influx of prostitutes from San Antonio looking to strike up business with the new residents, he says.  Another concern:  oil companies tapping out the city’s water supply.  “Water’s a big issue right now,” Garcia says.  ”It’s as valuable as the oil.”

Water is a top concern amid all the drilling of the Eagle Ford Shale, especially in a state still weathering a historic drought, says Scott Anderson, an Austin-based senior policy adviser with the Environmental Defense Fund.

Each well uses between 3 million and 7 million gallons of water, and then workers dispose of the wastewater — known as “flowback” — in disposal wells, he says.  There is a risk of contaminating drinking aquifers if the disposal wells are not made or maintained properly, Anderson says.

 

The Highs and Lows of Drilling

The oil wells also burn off natural gas that bubbles up during the drilling, he says.  That flaring and other venting at the wells release harmful chemicals into the air, including carbon dioxide, methane and ozone.  

San Antonio, located on the northern ridge of the shale, has recorded higher-than-normal ozone levels in its air since the start of the drilling, Anderson says.

“Anytime you have large amounts of flaring, it’s a good bet there’s a large amount of venting going on, too,” he says.  ”Then you’re releasing methane and other potent greenhouse gasses.”

Cynthia Dupnik, 55, lives in a double-wide mobile home on 25 acres of land in Karnes County, in the heart of the drilling.  Often, she and her daughter, Michelle, 34, wake up in the middle of the night with headaches, body aches and nosebleeds, she says.  Since the oil companies began drilling less than a mile from her home, she says, there have also been overpowering rotten egg and chemical smells, especially at night.

She has tried to bring up the issues with the energy companies involved in the drilling, but to no avail, she says.  She’s not against the drilling; she just wants the smells and headaches to stop, she says.  ”There’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything they’re doing out here,” Dupnik says.  ”This is not the right way.”

Already, state lawmakers have tightened rules surrounding the drilling, including more disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking and extensive new rules on well-making, says Bill Stevens, a spokesman
with the Texas Energy Alliance. 

“Is it perfect?  No,” Stevens says. “But the industry is doing a lot.”

The bigger question is what to do when the oil stops flowing.  Once the shale is tapped, there won’t be other reservoirs to siphon — the end of the line for fossil fuels in Texas, says Berman, the geologist and shale skeptic.  ”We’re drilling shale not because it’s a good idea but because we’ve exhausted all other good opportunities,” he says.

“It’s all we got left.  When this is done, we’re done,” Berman added.

Unlike some of his fellow residents, Dockery says he realizes this boom will end someday and South Texas will return to the quiet life of ranching and hunting.  Accordingly, he’s investing much of his money in long-term projects that will generate revenue beyond oilfields, he says, such as developing a software program that allows online property title searches.

“People are fooling themselves that this will last forever.  Nothing lasts forever,” he says.

“But in the interim, it’s pretty damn good.”

* * * * * * * * *

 

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(Via Google News/CBS News/YouTube)

Posted in Environment, Features, National0 Comments

There’s A Hippo In My Bed!

 

Jessica, the World-Famous Pet Hippopotamus

(Video)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Meet Jessica.

She’s a very special creature.  A very special hippo, that is.

Jessica is a 10-year-old female hippopotamus who lives near Hoedspruit in South Africa.  What makes her so special and unique is the fact that she’s a wild animal yet interacts with humans in a rather different way than nature has intended.

Jessica doesn’t know she is Africa’s most dangerous animal.  It’s well known that hippos are some of the most dangerous and fearsome creatures in Africa.  There are scores of accounts of hippos attacking and killing people who invade their space or disrupt their normal everyday routines.

Not Jessica.  She’s a different sort of bird altogether. 

Separated from her mother at and rescued as an orphan from a rising flood, Jessica was adopted by game warden Tonie Joubert 12 years ago.  He noticed something uniquely different about her.

She loves interaction with humans.  She loves her treats.  She opens doors and likes to nap with people.  She loves her bull terrier companions, her massages, and her special pink blankie.

In the wild, a lone premature calf won’t survive for long, but Tonie and his wife Shirley nursed Jessica to health with baby formula after she was found.  

 Jessica is the world’s most famous hippo and perhaps the only one who seems to have forgotten how aggressive and scary she really is supposed to be.  The Jouberts have never seen her display the slightest amount of aggression.

Jessica the Hippo has made herself at home as a member of this South African family.   Since she already broke a couch and a bed, she now is restricted to the kitchen only.  She weighs nearly 2,200 pounds and sleeps on their veranda in the Limpopo province of South Africa.

Joubert has put more than 1,000 hippos to death in his lifetime, but Jessica found a special place in his heart.

So special, in fact, that he spends nearly $2,000 a month to keep her alive.  He buys corn and sweet potato for her to eat – hippos are vegetarians – and replaces her mattress every two weeks.  She also has a tea fetish and greedily slurps away at decaffeinated rooibos tea fed to her from a 2 liter coke bottle.

Although she regularly frolics with wild hippos in the Blyde river and is free to do as she likes, Jessica returns to the Joubert’s home every night. But now that she is beginning to reach a weight that primes her for bearing her own calf, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen next.

In fact, Jessica shows some mind-boggling characteristics that questions our attitude towards wild animals.  When considering the natural behavior of the species, it is hard to determine whether Jessica considers herself as human– or us humans as fellow hippos.

Make room for baby.  Due to her behavior, Jessica has become somewhat of a lovable worldwide phenomenon. 

Featured in over 60 documentaries, Jessica now has a large following of supporters, her own website, and of course, an international fan-club of admirers.

Above is Part I of Jessica’s story.  Part II is seen below; and for you hippo lovers out there, Part III can be found here.

 

 

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Posted in Environment, Features, Scene3 Comments

Rev. Freed’s Slaying and the Deadly Probation Fail

 

One Small Detail Not Mentioned: 
Suspect Was on Probation and Shouldn’t Have Been Released From Jail 

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

The crime stats for Eureka are indeed bad.  Very bad.  
The reasons are varied and many.

The Eureka Police Department has 100 sworn employees for less than a 15-mile square area.  To note, the top 10 EPD officers make upwards of $90,000+ a year.  The Chief of Police pulled in a total compensation of $156,000 in 2010.  Eureka also has the agreed upon assistance of the HCSO, CHP, Humboldt Bay Fire, the Probation and Parole Departments, and the FBI within the city limits.

That apparently isn’t enough to take a bite out of crime in Eureka.

An overcrowded jail that releases offenders early doesn’t help matters of crime, either.  But let’s take a closer look at one situation that happened recently.

After being brought to the jail on a new offense, Gary Lee Bullock, the alleged suspect in Rev. Freed’s slaying, was released on his OR (own recognizance) only a few hours before Freed’s murder.  Unbelievably, EPD was called back and contacted him again a second time due to his erratic behavior.  Bullock was merely referred to the Rescue Mission at that time.

One of the rarely mentioned points to consider is this: Mr. Bullock was placed on a three-year probation term
back in April for cocaine possession.  Along with that grant
of probation came a set of terms which Bullock agreed to for
obeying all laws of the community– or he’d be back in  jail.

When originally brought to the jail he should have been retained on a ‘Probation Hold’ until the Humboldt County Probation Department or District Attorney’s Office—who had the  jurisdiction in the matter– properly assessed his situation.  That didn’t occur.

That’s the whole idea behind the preventative  ’community safety’ thing.  There are pre- and post release procedures in place that should have been followed for individuals granted probation.  Were they?  A process exists providing for an appropriate level of scrutiny and investigation of probationers arrested for new offenses, duly superseding jail overcrowding and holding them before subsequent release into the community.

Once Bullock’s second law enforcement contact was made, he certainly should have been returned to the jail so his situation could be looked into further by his probation officer.  He was clearly– twice– in violation of the terms of his probation in a relatively short period of time.  And yet nothing happened.

Mr. Bullock, despite his felony probation status, surprisingly wasn’t held whatsoever for his case to be reviewed.  More unbelievably, he was released out of the jail– kicked out the door and onto the street to himself without assessment or any supervision whatsoever– at 12:43 in the morning on January 1, hours before the Catholic priest’s slaying in the Eureka rectory merely a few blocks away from the jail, EPD headquarters, and directly across the street from the Probation Department’s Adult Services Division.

Bullock’s probation status and lack of supervision hasn’t been brought up nor
is it widely known to the public.  It warrants investigation because other incidents, similar in nature, have been occurring routinely.  In fact, it is quietly happening all too often following our review of several hundred crime reports over the past two years. 

Think Jason Warren’s alleged brutal murder of Dorothy Ulrich and the subsequent hit and run of the Bayside joggers.  In that instance, Warren, already sentenced to State Prison, never should have been released from the jail to freely engage in his murderous rampage upon others.

We wonder if things would have turned out differently if the ‘probation hold’ process that was in place and should have occurred actually happened, and to what degree it did in both cases.  When the system fails, it fails for all of us.

Both situations should have turned out differently.  But Probation Officers and District Attorneys don’t like to work after 5 pm, on the weekends, or on the holidays.  And the jail and courts finds it far too easy to release those in custody early as long as nothing bad ever happens.

In these cases and others, however, something bad did happen.  With deadly and dire consequences.  Oops.

We hope the Grand Jury or Superior Court will look into whether the proper probation pre-and post release procedures were actually followed in both the Gary Lee Bullock and Jason Warren cases– and to the totality of circumstances as to why they happened in the first place.

Otherwise, these situations will happen again and again with random precision, a deadly and ongoing criminal problem falling through the cracks of a complacent bureaucracy– and swept under the rug as necessary.

* * * * * * *

As the County pleads for more jail funding and the Eureka City Council and Police Department look to increase taxes by extending Measure O (which provided $8.7 million for public safety since it was enacted in 2010), citizens may want to ask the conductors of the ‘give-us-more-money’ gravy train if we’re actually getting the services we’re already paying for.

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Posted in Crime, Features, Local, Opinion1 Comment

Local Loyalty Prevails in Duck Dynasty Town

 

Hometown Folks Back A&E’s Robertson Family

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

WEST MONROE, La. —  “Faith.  Family.  Ducks.”

It’s the unofficial motto for the family featured in the TV reality show
Duck Dynasty and that homespun philosophy permeates nearly
everything in this small north Louisiana town.

It’s perhaps most on display at the White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, where the Robertson family prays and preaches most Sunday mornings.

The family — including patriarch Phil Robertson, who ignited a controversy last week when he told a magazine reporter that gays are sinners and African-Americans were happy under Jim Crow laws — were in a front pew this past Sunday.  And standing by beliefs they say are deeply rooted in their reading of the Bible.

The rest of the flock, decked out in Duck Dynasty hats and bandannas, stood by the family and the sentiments Phil Robertson expressed.

Alan, Robertson’s eldest son, helped deliver a Christmas-themed sermon.  He started off by referring to last week’s controversy.

“Hope your week went well,” he dead-panned. “Ours was kinda’ slow.”

He was referring, of course, to Phil’s forced hiatus: TV network A&E suspended Phil last week after remarks about blacks and gays caused a public uproar. 

The Robertson family has threatened to pull out of the reality show altogether if the suspension stayed.  It didn’t; A&E lifted the penalty against Phil this week and, reversing its decision, will resume shooting episodes in January, an A&E spokesperson said.

But the controversy barely resonated above the choir at White’s Ferry Road Church, where some people wore T-shirts that said “I support Phil Robertson.”  Son Willie — the CEO of the multimillion dollar Duck Commander duck call and decoy enterprise that inspired reality show producers to give the family a show — put on camouflage wader overalls
and baptized three people, including one man with cancer.

“Who’s going to be the lord of your life?” he asked, before dipping
the man back into the baptismal pool at the front of the church.

To the people of West Monroe, this is the Robertson family:  honest, family-focused and filled with the love of God and Jesus.  It’s the family that brought the spotlight to West Monroe, population 13,000, and in doing so put in sharp relief the cultural, political and religious differences that define — and often divide — America.

Folks here don’t care that Phil Robertson told a GQ reporter that gays are sinners who are going to hell.  Or that as a youth he picked cotton with African-Americans and never saw “the mistreatment of any black person.  Not once.”

They do care that A&E suspended Phil.  The move, they say, was unfair and an affront to viewers, to the Robertsons and to Christians everywhere.

“The program and his comments take a snapshot and it doesn’t represent the totality of what the guy is all about,” said Richard Laban, the owner of Redneck Roots, a downtown West Monroe store that sells some ‘Duck Dynasty’ T-shirts and souvenirs.

“A&E reacted entirely too quickly,” added Laban.  “They really treated Phil as if he was a terrorist.”

With its lakes and rolling hills and pine forests, West Monroe in northern Louisiana is Duck Country USA, a place where Robertson and his four sons built an empire on duck call devices and decoys before becoming wildly popular TV stars.  Their show garners 14.5 million weekly viewers, an unprecedented amount for what’s become a wildly popular reality series.

Politicians have taken a stand on the controversy — Sarah Palin posted a picture on her Facebook page of her
with the reality show clan with the message, “Free Speech
is an endangered species.”  Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also
lamented the suspension.

Even State Rep. Marcus Hunter — a Democrat and black man who represents West Monroe — issued a statement saying that “the faith and family structure exhibited by the Robertsons on the hit A&E show is part of the allure which makes it so special.”

Hunter did say he would like to “enlighten” Robertson about the “challenges and triumphs of black people during and after Jim Crow.”

To be sure, not everyone here agrees with the Robertsons.

John Denison, a former Monroe TV personality who is gay and the head of Forum for Equality, a group that advocates for the equality of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, said he’s appalled by Robertson’s remarks.

“I want Phil Robertson and the world to know that what he said hurt me and many people here in our state,” said Denison, who wrote an open letter to Robertson, asking him to dinner to discuss “not what separates us but what brings us together.”

Denison said Robertson’s beliefs do not resonate with everyone in Louisiana.  “I’m a Christian,” said Denison.  “No one wants to talk about my Christ, they only want to talk about their brand.”

Rev. Welton Gaddy, who preaches at the Northminster Baptist Church in Monroe and is the president of a national group called the Interfaith Alliance, said it saddens him to think that people would assume all Louisiana residents think the same as Robertson about gays and African Americans.

“There are some of us who are working hard every day for justice for everybody in this nation, for equality for everybody in this nation, and we don’t appreciate people tearing that down,” Gaddy said.  “If Robertson wants to do that as an entertainer, go to it.  But to do that in the name of religion crosses the line.”

But like many people across America who enjoy the show, Robertson’s fans here in West Monroe see something genuine about the reality TV family and believe he speaks his brand of the truth.  

Even though it’s a program about a group of wealthy business owners who hunt and fish, people say it accurately reflects life here, as well as its Christian and American foundations.

When outsiders in New York or Hollywood make fun of the show — or worse, criticize Robertson for his beliefs — it’s like part of the country is criticizing the essence of West Monroe.  To the people here, it’s just proof that a segment of America doesn’t understand the rural, conservative, Christian part of this country.

They — the Northerners, the liberals, the non-Christians — don’t get us, people here think.  Ironically, those Northerners are the ones who put West Monroe on the map in the first place by producing Duck Dynasty for TV.

Marilyn Lovett of West Monroe shrugs off the criticism.  The “ducks,” as she calls them, reflect her and her people.

“Wholesome values,” she said.  “The fact that they pray after every dadgum meal.  I just think it’s wonderful.  I wish there was more people like them.”

When asked about what people elsewhere in America thought when they read Robertson’s comments in GQ, she shrugged.

“I don’t really care,” she said.  “They sure as hell don’t care about what we think down here.”

Duck Dynasty, which is one of the most-watched reality shows of all time, is naturally the area’s biggest tourist draw.  

The Robertsons not only own a large gift store and warehouse where they sell everything from branded body wash to “Bearded Blend” coffee to a camouflage recliner, but they have opened Willie’s Duck Diner and a women’s boutique called Duck and Dressing.

There are self-guided tour maps, so fans can visit places seen on the show — the church, hardware store and doughnut shop are on the tour — and people say that West Monroe, and the Robertsons, are popular because it’s all a throwback to small-town America.

“I’ve known Phil for 30 years,” said Mike Walsworth, the owner of the Gingerbread Shop, an antique and gift shop. 

“He hasn’t changed for 30 years.”

In the store’s window, there’s a miniature holiday village and model train in the window.  It’s a pleasantly bucolic Norman Rockwell kind of scene that harkens back to a time when the nation was a more peaceful and homogenized place.

The tiny drive-in theater’s movie marquee shows “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and, indeed, West Monroe could perhaps be mistaken for a smaller Bedford Falls — if only reality hadn’t come to town and the overall duck nation.

* * * * * * * *

(Via Yahoo News)

Posted in Features, Media, Scene0 Comments

Grass Kart Racing

 

Crazy Speeds

(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Devin Graham and Company go grass kart racing and catch some wind in Australia’s Kurrajong Heights.

It’s never too late to have some fun, build a simple kid kart, 
and relive those downhill childhood Big Wheel dreams– while
filming it.

Below, Devin talks about  his behind-the-scenes shooting, which
for some reason, was oddly sponsored by Turkish Airlines.

Have more fun Humboldt.

 

 

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Thanks.

Posted in Features, Media, Scene0 Comments

A Rare Rendition of ‘Tubular Bells’

 

Played on a Vintage Collection of Keyboards

(VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Brooklyn, NYIt may be the rarest collection of
electronic synthesizers and keyboards in the world.

Keyboardist, producer, and songwriter and Joe McGinty has amassed an amazing collection of vintage synthesizers over the last three decades. 

You can see some of his keyboards go ‘round and ‘round in the intriguing Carousel Studios music video above, “Tubular Bells” by Mike Oldfield featuring the all-female Brooklyn Organ Synth Orchestra and with a short Peter Sellers’ Pink Panther clip at the end.

Located within the Pencil Factory at Greenpoint Ave and Franklin in Brooklyn, Carousel is where McGinty produces his own projects or keyboard parts for other artists’ records and where he can articulate damn near any synth part a band can dream up.

The Collection

McGinty’s personal keyboard collection goes back to the 1950s and includes a number of rare electro-mechanical synths, some of which were used in the video:

We have Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Clavinet, and the Baldwin Electric Harpsichord, a Hammond Organ & Leslie 147 and Yamaha CP60 and CP30 Electric Pianos;  combo organs like the Fender Starmaster, Vox Super Continental and the Farfisa Combo Compact;  vintage analog synthesizers such as the Moog 15 Modular, Mini Moog, Memory Moog, ARP 2600, Omni and String Ensemble, the Oberheim Xpander and the Gibson Clavioline. 

McGinty also has ample playback machines via his Mellotron M400, Mattel Optigan and Akai S612; vintage digital stuff like the RMI Keyboard Computer and Korg DS-8; and modern instruments such as Moog’s Little Phatty, the Nord Electro and the Dave Smith Poly Evolver.

That’s just for starters.  If it all sounds Greek to you, you’re not alone and you’re obviously not a keyboard afficionado of history, like McGinty.

The Tour

Taking a spin around Carousel with McGinty, he points playing some of the more notable instruments, providing a few musical reference points for novices.

Stopping at the ARP 2600, McGinty noted:  “I recently got a bunch of keyboards from Mark Lindsey, former lead singer of Paul Revere & the Raiders.  That’s where I got this ARP 2600, which is pretty rare.  Genesis used it a lot, and Edgar Winter.”

Moving on, he points out the original Mini Moog.  “This is another of my favorites.  It’s a classic 70s synth – nothing sounds like it.”

An Atlantic City native, McGinty came up playing the hotel-casino circuit, and over the last three decades has recorded and/or performed with artists such as The Psychedelic Furs, The Ramones, Debbie Harry, Devendra Banhart, Nada Surf, Ronnie Spector, Daniel Johnston, Ryan Adams, Bright Eyes and Space Hog.  Music came naturally and it paid the bills.

His keyboard collection reflects a lifelong obsession with keys.  Looking at the collection as a whole, McGinty says, “This is about 25 years of collecting, and a lot of it I got cheap when people were getting rid of stuff, pre-eBay. Luckily, I hang onto things!  And there’s definitely some stuff here I never thought I’d have, like this rare 1968 Baldwin harpsichord.  I also never thought I’d actually own a Mellotron.  I know of maybe one or two others in all of NYC– it’s such a classic sound.”

The most prized of the collection, McGinty points out, is a rare modular Moog.

“This is like Switched on Bach era – you really need to know what you’re doing to use it,” he says of it. “There are so many options in terms of patching and stuff.  The guy who restored it gave me a tutorial.  I always thought the modular synths were really cool, but now that I have one, I really get it.”

As we move around Carousel, McGinty riffs on the keyboards and the classic records that feature them.  Every era of popular music is represented here, from the classic 1914 Steinway upright to the Hammond organs to the space-age synths to the Casio keytars to the Dave Smith Poly Evolver and Nord Electro, and so on and so forth.  The collection and history are dizzying.

“Sometimes people come in with CDs and ask me about a particular keyboard sound, and I can tell them exactly what it is,” he notes.  “Like, the Clavinets are the classic Stevie Wonder funk machine.  And the ARPs do the 70s string sounds – like you hear on “Dream Weaver” and a lot of classic 70s disco songs.”

“This is a Clavioline,” he points out proudly.  “It’s used on the Beatles’ ‘Baby You’re A Rich Man’ and ‘Runaway’ by Del Shannon, and ‘Telstar’ by Joe Meek,” McGinty says like a professor admiring his graduate students.

A Passion for the Old

 “You go to some studios and they have to get their older keyboards out of a closet or something, and maybe it doesn’t totally work.  All these keyboards are instruments I use on my own stuff, so I know all the ins and outs and can even repair them to a point.  I also have a few techs I can call on.”

“This Yamaha piano has pickups inside so you can electrify it. It’s a very 80s kinda sound, like Peter Gabriel’s ‘Red Rain’ or ‘Private Eyes’ by Hall & Oates.  It’s very useful around here,” McGinty notes.

He also has a unique digital keyboard made by Allen Organs, a primarily church organ manufacturer based in Allentown, PA.  “This Allen Organ is pretty fun – it was one of the first digital keyboards they made and it licensed NASA technology and uses old-fashioned computer punch cards.  This is their first attempt at a synthesizer so it’s kind of weird, but it sounds really cool.  And it’s sort of a secret weapon… people come in and they’ve never heard of it, but it sounds like nothing else so it often works.”

“I really like it when different kinds of bands come in,” says McGinty.  “It makes me happy that they’re into the old stuff!  And it tends to be cool bands, like this Brooklyn band who came in – they’re doing a kind of 80s, Roxy Music, Bowie-style thing – and another artist who’s doing this over the top glam-pop, like Queen or Sparks.

Carousel/McGinty also does what he calls “long distance” sessions, where clients send files to McGinty with some direction and he’ll send the synth parts back to them.  “It’s been a lot of fun to help people realize the sounds bouncing in their head.”

“I’ll give people a few options, for example, Nada Surf was doing their record in Seattle, and they wanted me to play Hammond on a song, so I put up the mics, and sent them a few different versions of that.  The long distance thing really opens things up and with the new software like Pro Tools, it makes it all really easy.  There’s really a lot of potential here.”

Indeed.  Keep on keyboarding, McGinty.  You’re a man out of time and music and history, and with the right patch cords and modulation to put it all together.

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For more on Carousel Studio and Joe McGinty, visit www.joemcginty.com and www.joemcginty.com/carousel

Sourced from Joe McGinty and Carousel, SonicScoop, and Youtube.  Our appreciation to Humboldt’s Highboldtage for his tipped awareness.

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For Iona brother and keyboardist, Brian Burman.

Posted in Features, Media, Scene3 Comments

Piano On The Lake

 

Surreality Around You

(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

There’s just something so surreal about playing a piano on a lake. 

An amazing collaborative project, pianist William Joseph teamed up with Devin Supertramp to produce a one of a kind dubstep-piano music video cover of the Radioactive tune by Imagine Dragons that you see here.  With a very real piano in the shallow waters of a lake.

Let it be a reminder the beauty of Humboldt– or anywhere for that matter– is that you can do what you set out to do, to be whom you want to be.  All you have to do is think and imagine and try and you’ll find it’s been there all along– right at your fingertips.  Just listen closely.  Very closely.

You are free to choose what you want and what you wish to realize.  You can even play a piano on the water if you had dreamed of it.

 

 

* * * * * * * *

But we didn’t say there wasn’t gonna be some blood, sweat and tears involved and some hard work along the way.  That’s reality, and reality bites sometimes.  Life isn’t a bed of roses, you know.

Just remember the personal love part, like the ditty we found below in– of all places– Craigslist.  It makes the hard work part much more pleasant.

Reality is where you find it.
 

 

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Posted in Features, Media, Scene3 Comments

Banksy’s ‘Sirens of the Lambs’

 

Big Art in the Big Apple

(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Vegetarians unite.  Banksy is taking on the Big Apple.

The famous underground artist unleashed a disturbing delivery truck on the streets of New York City, sending cuddly farmyard animals bleating all the way to the slaughterhouse.

Appropriately enough, the truck is currently touring the meatpacking district before moving on to the rest of the city.

How long the artwork– titled ‘Sirens of the Lambs’– will last, however, is anyone’s guess, given that Banksy’s previous installations in his month-long New York residency have been defaced by rival graffiti artists, painted over, and even hijacked by opportunistic locals looking to charge visitors for taking photos. 

Yesterday’s ‘installation’ marks day #11 for the artist in New York.

The animals’ faces look adorable, but the truck emits loud screaming noises that indicates the creatures are in distress.  According to an audio guide on Banksy’s website, the animals’ heads are controlled by a team of mime artists inside the vehicle.

The guide jokes: “This is a piece of sculpture art, and I know
what you’re thinking:  isn’t it a bit… subtle?”

Banksy, it says, is either “making some sort of comment on the casual cruelty of the food industry” or forging “an attempt at something vague and pretentious about the loss of childhood innocence”.

The website guide continues:  

“The truck contains over 60 cuddly soft toys on the road to a swift death.  However, in order to bring them to life, four professional puppeteers are required, strapped into bucket seats, dressed entirely in black lycra, pulling on an array of levers with each limb and given only one toilet break a day – proving that the only sentient beings held in lower esteem than livestock are mime artists.” 

It also offers a possible explanation as to why Banksy created the truck:

“From what we know of Banksy he spent time working in a butcher shop as a youth, where he was in charge of mincing beef– an experience that seems to have resonated with him in later life.”

You can see what else Banksy has been up to over the past several days in NYC, here.

* * * * * * * * *

 Sourced from YouTube and BanksyNYC, the Belfast Telegraph, and UntappedCities.com

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–For Suzy Blah Blah and Isaiah–

Posted in Features, Media, Scene5 Comments

Matrix Puppies

 

52 Go Pro Cameras Make for Unique Clip

(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

It’s a happy Sunday and the end of a fine Indian Summer spent with your pup.

Enjoy them all while you still can.

Puppies are cute.  Period.

Setting up 52 GoPro cameras in a park and showing them jumping and playing in “The Matrix”-style fashion, filmmaker Devin Graham (aka devinsupertramp) captures the animal antics in slow-motion display in a fun and furry new video.

Below, Devin explains how he did it with a push and a plug from the Orapup company.

 

Via Devin Graham/YouTube

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Paying For Your Own Surveillance

 

It’s ALL About YOU

(GOOD HUMOR VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Introducing the new iPhone NSa…

NSA, get it?  Life is full of ironies and so is the fun technology driving it.

For decades, we paid– paid big bucks– for those 21st century tech improvements putting us all on the same page.  It took a lot of doing.  Think, for example, of your monthly cable bill and your big screen TV.  Those things didn’t come cheap and they weren’t free and easy.

Now we’re taking it up a notch and improving things even further by concentrating more on your security.  And we’d like you to pay the ever-increasing costs for ever increasing-levels of surveillance in the New World Order.  It’s the least you can do.  You’ve had it too good for too long and now it’s time to pay up.

We only ask that you don’t say “no” to the latest necessary conveniences we’d like to deliver.  Otherwise we’ll have to embed explosive devices which aren’t healthy for you and other living things.

We need technology that can always be interrupted, turned off, taken away, or re-priced in a way that’s financially ruinous.  Well, ruinous to you, that is. 

That’s why we’re constantly changing the game and rendering technology, privacy, and your old phone obsolete.  Every six months, in fact.

Just don’t think about the implications too much.  Better yet, don’t even think.  Just trust us.  We’re looking out for you.  Believe us when we say we’re living in a brave new world and it’s for the greater good and you better not spoil it for everyone. 

Thank you for being part of the team.  Tin foil hats optional.

(Via John Amren, Ameratsu Solar, WeAreChange,
JoyCamp and Youtube/Brass TV)

* * * * * * * * *

 

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Colorado’s Massive Pet Rescue

 

Saving Pets and People from the Rising Waters: “No Pets Left Behind”

(VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

BOULDER, Colorado–  Some helicopters rescuing people
after massive flooding in Colorado carried more dogs, cats and fish than people. 
Rescuers using zip lines to evacuate people over raging rivers also risked their
lives to make sure the four-legged members of families were safe.

In contrast to stories of people forced to leave their pets when New Orleans was swamped by Hurricane Katrina, the motto during one of the largest evacuations in Colorado history was “No pets left behind,” said Skye Robinson, a spokesman for the National Guard air search and rescue operations during Colorado’s floods. 

That’s because including pets in the rescue effort helped convince even reluctant residents to leave their homes.  Officials also had more than enough space for the animals and even carried animal crates with them.

More than 800 pets have been ferried to safety with their owners via helicopter, the National Guard said.  Hundreds more were rescued by ground crews. Livestock, like horses and cattle, were left behind, but a monkey was among those saved.

Once safely on dry ground, Red Cross shelters had water bowls, on-site dog kennels and all the necessary supplies to ensure already stressed evacuees wouldn’t be separated from their pets.

“We kind of learned after Katrina, when people wouldn’t evacuate because of their pets,” said Kathy Conner, a worker at a shelter at a YMCA in Boulder.

Evacuees Jerry Grove and Dorothy Scott-Grove said they never would have abandoned their vacation cabin in Estes Park without their two
golden retrievers. 

But they didn’t have to make that hard choice.  Firefighters carried the two large dogs to safety on the same zip line used to rescue the retired Ohio couple.

“They put them in a harness and one of the firefighters hooked himself to them and brought them across,” Dorothy Scott-Grove said.  “We will not be separated.”

Once out, the Red Cross found the couple a pet-friendly hotel where the dogs the next day “were resting comfortably on our king-sized bed,” she said.

In a state where dog passengers are as common as humans in cars, Lisa Pedersen, CEO of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, said taking care of pets has become a central part of disaster planning.

It appears to be working. 

One week after floods and mudslides forced the local evacuation of more than 3,000 people, Pederson said the Boulder area shelter had just 72 pet evacuees – all but two of which were delivered by their owners for temporary shelter after they were forced from their homes.

“It just makes sense that you bring the pets along.  They are part of the family,” Robinson said.  “You wouldn’t leave a family behind because they had kids.”

(Via Omaha.com and YouTube/AP)

* * * * * * * * *

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So, Who Owns the Moon?

 

–As Explained by Vsauce

(Viral Video)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Space ownership?

Since the 1967 Outer Space Treaty says that everything in space
is the “common heritage of mankind,” it makes it kind of difficult
to define to whom the moon belongs to.  But as things change,
so do the rules.

In the video garnering over one million hits since its posting yesterday, Vsauce explains the numerous scenarios, treaties, and technical information regarding ownership of the moon, and if it really belongs to anyone in particular.

It’s also a pretty cool subject to bring up with friends, if being a lunar land baron and the ownership of celestial real estate is your cup of tea.

* * * * * * * *

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Posted in Environment, Features, Media0 Comments

Straight Up Feminist Satire

 

The Robin Thicke ‘Blurred Lines’ Parody Trumping All Others

(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

If the above video isn’t to your taste, that’s the whole role reversal point. 

It’s a parody of the current pop music genre of submissive and scantily clad women prancing about to overly suggestive and eroticized lyrics, and it’s hilarious, if not thought provoking, in its message.

Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines may have been unofficially declared one of the songs of the summer, but we’re happy to end the season with this amazing parody of the decidedly sexist hit.

In response to the criticism surrounding “Blurred Lines,” an Auckland University student group, the smartly scholastic and sarcastic Law Revue Girls, created Defined Lines.”

The parody reverses the original video’s gender roles in an attempt to “define those supposedly ‘blurred lines’” and declares:

“What you see on TV / Doesn’t speak equality / It’s straight up misogyny.”

We couldn’t love it more.

“The message really is just that we think that women should be treated equally, and as part of that, we’re trying to address the culture of objectifying women in music videos,” Olivia Lubbock, one of the women featured in the video, said.

The Independent reported that Defined Lines” was removed from YouTube briefly on Monday after being flagged for “inappropriate” sexual content, but has since been restored.

Lubbock called the video’s removal a “massive double standard,” since the models in Thicke’s original video are arguably far more sexualized.

“It’s just funny that the response has been so negative when you flip it around and objectify males,” Lubbock said.

We’re glad YouTube put “Defined Lines” back up.  Having gone viral with over one million views during the past five days, it’s one music video the pop masses should see.

* * * * * * * * *

(Via Huffington Post, The Australian, and Independent.UK)

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The Four War Coups of Joe Medicine Crow

 

The Little Known Story of the Warrior, Soldier, and WW II Hero

(VIDEO by Ken Burns)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

“War Chief of the Crow Indians” isn’t a title that’s just
randomly thrown around to any guy who happens to own a
gigantic, awesome-looking headdress and a really bitchin’
traditional-style wooden bow made out of the bark of dead
Treants.

You don’t become a War Chief just because you’re the oldest dude in the tribe, or the most badass hunter, or the only guy in the hood capable of bench-pressing an automobile.  

It’s an ancient, prestigiously honorific position bestowed only upon the bravest, the strongest, and most hardcore person around and the only way to attain this hallowed title is by proving yourself in combat and unlocking the four achievements the Crow believed to be the most insanely-difficult things a warrior can attempt in battle:  Leading a successful war party on a raid, Capturing an enemy’s weapon, Touching an enemy without killing
him, and Stealing an enemy’s horse.

None of this stuff is easy, and pretty much all of it requires you put your life on the line by voluntarily bringing yourself face-to-face with at least one warrior who is presumably in the process of actively trying to rip you limb from limb with a bowie knife and then splatter your corpse across the countryside with a well-placed headbutt.  

It’s like the Crow Indians’ way of making sure they don’t have any sucky weaklings leading their tribe into combat.

At 98 years old, Joseph Medicine Crow-High Bird is the last surviving War Chief of the Crow Indians.  He is a hardcore, fearless, neck-snapping warrior who accomplished all of these tremendous feats of bravery in combat and proven himself a step above the majority of humanity on a really super badass scale.

And he did it all in World War II.

Early Life

Joe Medicine Crow was born on a reservation near Lodge Grass, Montana in 1913.  Raised in the illustrious warrior tradition of the Crow, this dude had some pretty hardcore people to look up to as a young man – his step-grandfather had been a scout for Custer at the infamous Battle of Little Bighorn (the Crow had a generations-long blood feud with the Lakota Sioux), and his paternal grandfather was a guy named Chief Medicine Crow who was like the Michael Jordan of Crow war heroes.

So, naturally young Joseph was drilled into a tough-as-hell warrior capable of handling himself in any situation.  The majority of this young warrior’s childhood was spent undergoing hardcore Spartan-style feats of strength, piledriving buffalo, riding horses bareback, swimming through mighty rivers, punching things, and running barefoot through the snow-covered plains uphill both ways.  

He was taught to control his fear in the face of imminent peril, learned to hunt dangerous animals by himself, and trained his body to survive prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures.  He was also taught the war history of his tribe, and in addition to honing his body to the ultimate wilderness survival machine, became the first member of his tribe to graduate with an advanced college degree, receiving his MA in Anthropology from USC in 1939.

Joe Medicine Crow was in the process of working on his PhD when the United States entered World War II.  Never one to back down from the opportunity to put his powers of mass destruction to good use, Crow enlisted as a scout in the 103rd Infantry and was sent to the beaches of Normandy to wreak havoc on the forces of European Fascism.

Despite serving in a war dominated by automatic weapons, heavy artillery, and gigantic tanks armed with 88mm cannons, Medicine Crow held on to the time-honored practices of his tribe – he always wore bright red war paint into combat and strapped a sacred yellow-painted eagle feather to his helmet for good luck.

He also counted the four coups required to distinguish himself as a Crow war chief, which is no small task when one of those tasks involves stealing a horse from the enemy.

 

#1.  Leading a Successful War Party on a Raid

As an infantry scout, you probably don’t get too many opportunities to lead a group of men into combat.  Pvt. Medicine Crow got the opportunity to do just that in the snow-covered battlefields of Western France while the Allies made their push from Paris towards Berlin.

The border to Germany was a heavily-fortified wall of impenetrable machine gun bunkers, tank traps, trenches, moats and artillery positions known as the Siegfried Line, which was basically like a functional, not-worthless version of France’s Maginot Line.

Well, during one particularly nasty portion of the battle for the Rhine, Medicine Crow’s commanding officer ordered the Native American warrior to take a team of seven soldiers and lead them across an field of barbed wire, bullets, and artillery fire, grab some dynamite from an American position that had been utterly annihilated, and then assault the German bunkers and blow them up with TNT.  

This was basically a suicide mission, but, according to Medicine Crow, when he got the mission his CO’s exact words were, “if anyone can do this, it’s probably you.”

That’s not exactly a phrase that inspires tremendous confidence, but Joe Medicine Crow didn’t give a twit’s wit.

He charged out, evaded an endless rain of fireballs, shrapnel, and misery, grabbed the TNT from a supply crate while tracer rounds zipped past his head, and then charged balls-out towards some German machine gun nests while carrying an armload of ultra-high explosives.  He miraculously reached the wall in one piece and blasted a hole in the Siegfried Line so the infantry could advance.  

Medicine Crow received a Bronze Star for this action and his squad did not lose a single man in the battle. 

Yeah, I’d call that a win.

 

#2.  Taking an Enemy’s Weapon Away from Him

Shortly after moving through the Siegfried Line the 103rd Infantry was ordered to capture a nearby town that was being staunchly defended by the enemy.  (I read one source that Joe was photographed leading the charge and leaping through the breach he’d created in the wall thus making him the first American soldier to set foot on German soil;  however I wasn’t able to verify this fact or locate the photo.)

While the main elements of the 103rd moved into the well-defended main street of the village, Joe Medicine Crow’s scouts were ordered to flank around through a back alley and get behind the German fortifications. Well, as this was going down, Medicine Crow got separated from his unit and while he was in the process of sprinting through some German family’s backyard, a random Nazi stepped out from behind the wall with his rifle at the ready.

Joe didn’t see the guy until the last second and ended up running right into the guy like the Juggernaut from the X-Men.

The two guys smashed helmet-to-helmet in a maneuver that would have netted Medicine Crow a 15-yard penalty in the NFL, and the force of the running mega-Indian flying headbutt sent the Nazi and his rifle sprawling aimlessly across the lawn.

Joseph Medicine Crow, however, still had his rifle firmly wedged in his kung fu grip and was ready to pull the trigger.

 

#3.  Touching an Enemy Without Killing Him

Joseph Medicine Crow now found himself standing rifle-to-face with an unarmed German soldier, but gunning down an unarmed man wasn’t his style– he was much more of an “honorable combat” sort of warrior– yet he wasn’t about to let his enemy off the hook without getting in a red, white, and blue knuckle sandwich, either.

So Joe Medicine Crow threw down his rifle and cold-cocked the guy in the face, Batman-style.

The two guys started going at it, and at one point the Nazi almost flipped the tables and pinned Joe.  Our Native American warrior freaked out, grabbed the German by the throat, and started squeezing.

Just as he was ready to choke the life out of his enemy, the German, sensing imminent death, started calling out for his Mom.

That kind of put the kibosh on Joseph’s kill thrill. 

So he let the guy live, taking the German– and his rifle– as a prisoner of war and knocking out the two War Chief prerequisites with one well-placed face-punch.

 

#4.  Stealing an Enemy’s Horse

Of all the stuff on this borderline-impossible list, this is the one that seems would trip up most people these days.  But, no lie, in early 1945 Joseph Medicine Crow stole 50 horses from a group of surprised German officers.

The account starts with Joe and his men on a scouting mission deep behind enemy lines.  While surveying the landscape for enemy troop movements, Medicine Crow’s small team of recon experts just happened to come across a small farm where some senior members of the German officer staff were holed up – along with some awesome thoroughbred race horses.

So, naturally, Joe had to steal them.

In the early hours of the morning, Joseph Medicine Crow, dressed in his blazing U.S. Army uniform, snuck past the sleeping guards armed only with a rope and his Colt 1911 .45-caliber service pistol.

He found the best horse in the group, tied the rope into a makeshift bridle, mounted the horse bareback, and then gave a super-outrageous-loud Crow war cry as he herded as many horses out of the corral before the startled Nazis started firing bullets at him.

Hauling butt through the German countryside in the dead of night, Joseph Medicine Crow sang a Crow war song while German officers ran outside in their underwear taking potshots at him with their Lugers.  Around 50 horses were stolen from the battalion of German officers.

This stuff is so crazy you couldn’t even make it up.

 

Later Years

In the last days of the war, Joseph Medicine Crow helped liberate a concentration camp in Poland by ramming a jeep with his commanding officer through the front gates. 

The SS guards immediately dropped their guns and ran away without a fight. 

After the war, Joe finally headed home to his tribe in Montana.  When the Crow elders heard about his through-the-roof Gamerscore they made Joe an official War Chief in the Tribe– a post he now holds by himself.

Joe Medicine Crow-High Bird was also made a Knight in the French Legion of Honor, received three honorary PhDs, authored nearly a dozen books on military history, stayed married to the same woman for over 60 years, and has been the official historian for his tribe for the last fifty years.

In August of 2009 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest honor awarded to American civilians – for his combined military service and all the work he has done to help improve the lives of the people of the Crow people.

The 95 year-old Medicine Crow personally led the ceremonial
dance after the ceremony.

 

From BadassoftheWeek.com– and slightly abridged 
Images and additions by the Humboldt Sentinel

* * * * * * * * *

 Thank you, Joe

Links:

Billings Gazette

Joe Medicine Crow

Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow

Crow Nominated for Congressional Gold Medal

Wikipedia 

Sources:

Ken Burns and KPBS-San Diego:  Medicine Crow War Chief Story from “The War”  (via YouTube)

Nabokov, Peter.  Native American Testimony.  Penguin, 1999.

Robinson, Gary and Phil Lucas.  From Warriors to Soldiers.  iUniverse, 2010.

 

If you enjoyed this story, you might like Reckless, The Mongolian Mare

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Posted in Features, History, National2 Comments

Summer Fun: The Human Bungee Slingshot

 

Catapulting Into Oblivion

(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

The end of summer fun is near.

You’ve might have seen their cross-canyon rope swing, the Dirty Dash Mud race, Trike drifting, and the colorful Holi Festival, but where else could the daredevils participating in Devin Graham’s viral videos go next?

If you guessed a human catapult, you’d be right on target.

The contraption, which is described as the “Human Bungee Slingshot – Human Catapult,” combines the use of an ATV, bungees and telephone poles in what appears to be someone’s backyard in the Utah foothills.

The courageous– or crazy, depending on how you look at it– daredevil is loaded into the bungee harness.  It looks minimal, but judging from past experiences with these guys, it’s probably pretty safe.  An ATV pulls the human piñata back and voila!  It releases, launching them into a horizontal, back-and-forth bungee.

Although it appears this stunt might be whiplash-inducing, the participants seem to be having a good time.  Perhaps it’s all the Mountain Dew they’re drinking.

Either way, the team lead by Graham (aka Devin Supertramp) has launched another thrilling viral video classic, garnering more than one a half a million views in five days.

Below, Devin explains filming behind the scenes while shamelessly shilling for Mountain Dew.

Have more fun, Humboldt.  Grab it while you can.  Summer will be over before you know it.

 

Via Blaze

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Wild Horses Rounded Up For Slaughter by BLM

 

Advocacy Group Files Lawsuit to Protect Herd– as the Law Requires

(VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

(Via Yahoo News/Wild Horse Education.Org)

LAS VEGAS– Another showdown is looming between the federal government and animal advocates over the wild horses that wander the American West.

Last week, 486 horses were gathered from the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone reservation in northern Nevada during a three-day roundup.

Tribal officials say the animals were traditional pests that cost them money to maintain.  But wild horse advocates claim that many of the animals were wild mustangs that should have been protected by the federal Bureau of Land Management under the 1973 Wild Horse and Burro Act.

Laura Leigh, founder of Wild Horse Education that produced the above video, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Nevada, claiming that the BLM participated in the roundup instead of protecting the horses as the law requires.

The suit demands that the agency halt an auction scheduled for Saturday in Fallon, Nev., until it can determine which horses are unbranded and wild.

It also alleges that wild horses were removed through an agreement with tribal authorities, the U.S. Forest Service and the BLM. Many unbranded wild horses were removed, including those residing in an area of BLM-managed public land, it says.

Leigh told the Los Angeles Times that many of the horses collected may have been from BLM-managed land traveling the area in their normal seasonal migratory patterns.

She said the horses to be auctioned Saturday would probably be purchased by so-called kill buyers, who would ship them to slaughterhouses in Mexico.  

Such slaughterhouses in the U.S. were closed in 2007, but there have been recent court battles over whether to allow such slaughter to resume in the U.S.

“The reservation land can only support about 100 horses,” Leigh said.  “We believe that the other horses headed for auction and probably death are mustangs
that the BLM should have protected.”

In a post on her website, Leigh said:  “I am literally ill that the horses that we have fought so long and hard to protect may now face certain death.  I pray that the courts can suspend this sale and help sort this out before it is too late.”

The BLM has denied that any wild horses were taken off the range.

JoLynn Whorley, a spokeswoman for the agency’s Nevada office, acknowledged that the tribe collected horses last week, but said the BLM was not part of the effort.

“We weren’t involved in it,” she said.  “If these were our horses, we would step up and take responsibility for them.  We’ve always done that.  Our position is that these animals aren’t horses managed by the BLM and are not protected by law.  They are animals that have been on tribal land for decades.”

Maxine Smart, tribal chairwoman for the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone reservation, acknowledged that several hundred horses were rounded up from tribal territory.

She said that a BLM observer was on hand during the process.  “There was a BLM observer,” she said.  “She was one of their wild horse and burro specialists.”

Smart said the animals taken were not mustangs.  “They’re all domestic animals,” she said.  “We took these horses from deep in the desert, far away from human domain.”

Gordon Cowan, a Reno-area lawyer who filed the lawsuit in federal court, said it remained the BLM’s duty to determine if any of the horses are wild.

“The ones with brands they can do whatever they want with,” Cowan said.  “But the unbranded ones, or ones that are suddenly sporting new brands, could be wild horses.  We want the BLM to clarify the origin of these horses.”

Leigh began her court battle to observe and protect wild horses in the BLM’s Owyhee Herd Management Area in 2010 and has filed numerous court actions alleging the agency’s mistreatment of wild horses under its program to remove some mustangs from the range and put them up for
adoption.

Currently, the BLM has stockpiled 50,000 wild horses on Midwest farms — more than the total that remains on the range.

 

For Linda, Remington, Harley, Ballian, and Sabo

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The Man Who Planted Trees

 

Single-Handedly Planting a 1,360 Acre Forest

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Deforestation and desertification are critical problems in India that have led to barren land, increased soil erosion, decreased agricultural production, and devastated
local wildlife.  

However one Indian man has made a stand – by single-handedly
planting and cultivating a 1,360 acre forest that is home to a complex,
thriving ecosystem.

Jadav “Molai” Payeng started his project 30 years ago when he was still a teenager.  Then, in 1979, flood waters washed a large number of snakes ashore on the local sandbar in Jorhat, some 350 km from Guwahati.  When the waters receded, Payneg– who was 16 at the time– noticed the reptiles had died due to a lack of forestry.

“The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover.  I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms.  It was carnage.  I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there.  They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo.  It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me.  Nobody was
interested,” said Payeng, who is now 47.

Payeng chose to live on the sandbar, starting a life of isolation as he began work to create a new forest.  Planting the seeds by hand, watering the plants in the morning and evening, and pruning them when required, he cultivated a huge natural reserve.

After a few years, the sandbar was transformed into a bamboo thicket.

“I then decided to grow proper trees.  I collected and planted them.  I also transported red ants from my village, and was stung many times.  Red ants change the soil’s properties. That was an experience,” Payeng recalled.

Over the years, the reserve has seen a huge variety of flora and fauna blossom on the sandbar, including endangered animals like the one-horned rhino and Royal Bengal tiger.

“After 12 years, we’ve seen vultures.  Migratory birds, too, have started flocking here.  Deer and cattle have attracted predators,” claims Payeng. 

Unfortunately, locals reportedly killed a rhino which was seen in his forest, something that Payeng clearly disapproves of.  

”Nature has made a food chain; why can’t we stick to it?  Who
would protect these animals if we, as superior beings, start
hunting them?” Payeng said.

Amazingly, the Assam state forest department only learned about Payeng’s forest  in 2008 when a herd of some 100 wild elephants strayed into it after marauding through villages nearby.  It was then that assistant conservator of forests Gunin Saikia met Payeng for the first time.

“We were surprised to find such a dense forest on the sandbar.  Locals, whose homes had been destroyed by the pachyderms, wanted to cut down the forest, but Payeng dared them to kill him instead.  
He treats the trees and animals like his own children.  
Seeing this, we, too, decided to pitch in,” says Saikia.

“We’re amazed at Payeng. He has been at it for 30 years.  Had he been in any other country, he would have been made a hero.”

(Via The Times of India)

 

 

Decades later, the lush ecosystem he created is now a safe haven for a variety of large and small species that include birds, deer, rhinos, tigers and elephants impacted by extensive habitat loss.

Payeng makes a living in the forest he planted, rearing cows and selling milk in the nearest town with his wife and three children.

The extraordinary, yet humble, eco-conscious farmer stands as a shining example of what one person can accomplish to make the world a better place.  Now he is planning on devoting his next 30 years to planting another forest.

He says, “I feel sad when I see people felling trees.  We have to save the nature, or else we all will perish.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Our appreciation goes to Onahunttoday who sent this article along to us, and author Timon Singh of Inhabitat.com.

We feel everyone can and should make a difference in the world, making it a better place for future generations.  We like stories of those bringing about positive change, leading by example with ethical values and a strong moral will, and who often are the inspiring underdog bringing better things about for all through their sheer determination.

You can do it too.  In your own way, in your own community, with your own ideas and imagination.  Be inspired.  Plant a seed.  Grow a tree.  Like Payeng walking in his forest below, you, too, can make the magic happen.

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Posted in Environment, Features, Media1 Comment

‘The Australian Town That Will Bankrupt Saudi Arabia’

 

The Bizarre Town of Coober Pedy– Sitting Atop Billions of Barrels of Oil

(VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

That’s what the headline said last week in the Australian Advertiser,
a dubiously and quirky enough title catching our eye and piquing our
interest
.

We’ve heard of the place.  If you haven’t, you soon will.  Coober Pedy is on the verge of an oil boom, an enormous one, sitting atop one the planet’s largest shale oil reserves ever discovered.

Situated in the middle of a god-forsaken nowhere, Coober Pedy is a South Australian Outback hamlet straddling the Stuart Highway, roughly 300 miles from Alice Springs in one direction and 500 miles from Adelaide in the other, and without much of anything in between.  It lays claim to being the largest opal mining area in the world, with over 70 opal fields supplying most of the world’s gem-quality opal.

It’s also an inhospitable place:  an uninhabitable desert, a dry, stark and sterile environment, a grassless and forbidding not-very-pretty hinterland place.  The area resembles a lunar landscape, abounding with jutting mineralized mounds of rock and hardscrabble as far as the eye can see. 

There’s no substantial vegetation nor a single tree to be found unless you count the metal sculpture one welded from scrap iron. 

It’s also unbearably hot.  During the summer months temperatures soar to 113+ degrees for weeks on end, with 20% humidity.  Water is in short supply.

“Living here is like living inside a dog’s mouth,” one resident complained, swatting away the enormous population of black flies and camouflaged grasshoppers lighting everywhere from the ever-pervasive orange dust.

Nonetheless, locals and oil promoters alike are hoping to strike it rich.

The astounding get-rich-quick scheme we saw last week read like this:

SOUTH Australia is sitting on oil worth more than $20 trillion, enough for Australia to become a self-sufficient fuel producer.

Brisbane company Linc Energy yesterday released two reports based on their drilling and seismic exploration.

They estimate the amount of oil in the as yet untapped Arckaringa Basin surrounding Coober Pedy ranging from 3.5 billion to 233 billion barrels of oil.

At the higher end, this would be “several times bigger than all of the oil in Australia,” Linc managing director Peter Bond said.

Shale oil extraction involves using new technologies to drill vertically and then horizontally for distances of more than one kilometer through shale rocks that contain oil.  The process was once prohibitively expensive but advances have created a new oil boom in the US.

This has the potential to turn Australia from an oil importer to an oil exporter.

“If the Arckaringa plays out the way we hope it will, and the way our independent reports have shown, it’s one of the key prospective territories in the world at the moment.”

Mr. Bond said each well could flow at 1,000 – 2,000 barrels per day.

“You put in 50 of them and that’s a lot of oil,” he said.  “We have a very good idea that this will be an oil-producing asset.”

“If it comes in the way the reports are suggesting, it could well and truly bring Australia back to (oil) self-sufficiency,” Mr. Bond said.

“If you look at the upper target, which is 103 – 233 billion barrels of oil, that’s massive, and the opportunity of turning this
into the next shale boom is very real…”

 

Some oil industry experts are skeptical that much oil remains to be found in and around Coober Pedy.  Others say the find will potentially shift the strategic balance of power away from the Middle East.

To put the above figures into some context, Saudi Arabia has an estimated remaining reserve of 263 billion barrels.  Other oil producing countries such as Iraq and Iran are sitting on reserves of 115 and 137 billion barrels respectively; Canada and Venezuela are at 175 and 211 billion barrels.

The oil industry is rife with such optimistic speculation and hype whenever it comes to attracting potential investors.  Coober Pedy may very well fall in that category.  Or, if some industry reports and the Australian government are to be believed, Coober Pedy is destined to become very, very rich soon. 

Australian State Mineral Resources Development Minister Tom Koutsantonis believes the recent discovery will be a key part to securing Australia’s energy security now and into the future.  “We have seen the hugely positive impact shale projects like Bakken and Eagle Ford have had on the US economy.  There is still a long way to go, but investment in oil projects in South Australia will accelerate as more and more companies prove up the resources,” Koutsantonis said.

Waiting for the expected gold rush succeeding the opal boom to happen, Coober Pedy’s population has risen from 1,700 in 2011 to almost 4,000 today, comprising between 45-48 different nationalities depending upon whom you speak to.  Residents are building new homes, amenities, and businesses for the coming oil boom.  Real estate prices have already risen 300%.  A hotel room will set you back about $200 a night but even that’s open to question for the near future.

But Coober Pedy is also unique in another way aside from opal and oil:  the name comes from the Aboriginal words kupa piti, which loosely translates as “White man in a hole.”  Or a burrow.

To escape the oppressive heat of summer, the freezing cold of winter, and the occasional dust storms, residents live underground in “dugout” homes, a Down Under concept that’s turned worked-out mines into practical shelters. 

A standard three-bedroom cave home with a lounge, kitchen, and bathroom can be excavated out of the rock in the hillside for a similar price to building a house on the surface. However, these dugouts remain at a constant temperature of 70 degrees, while surface buildings need air-conditioning.

While the structures may be located underground, they are surprisingly modern.  The underground interiors take full advantage of the beautiful red rock sandstone hues and feature modern amenities like tiled floors, bathrooms, walk-in closets, modern kitchens and televisions.  As the years have gone by, the homes have become bigger and more sophisticated.  Finding opal during the excavation of homes has helped spur and pay the way for their expansion.  One hotel reported finding $360,000 in opal digging out two additional rooms.  Another resident found over $1.2 million of the precious gems carving out stairs for their visiting Mum.

There are several above and below-ground hotels and inns in Coober Pedy accommodating tourists and oil seekers flocking in from all over the world to see this unusual town.  Coober Pedy has more than a few underground restaurants and bars, gift shops selling precious gold and opal jewelry, a spa, several museums, two churches, and of course, mine tours.

The food isn’t bad in this ethnically diverse melting pot of a town, either.  One can dine on Italian falafels, Greek pizzas, Chinese hamburgers, outback beef, fried lizard and kangaroo, washed down with copious quantities of fresh Australian beer and wine. 

After that, you can head up above ground where there’s a small colorful pool housed inside a large industrial water tank, kept cool and sheltered from the scorching sun.  You can also gaze at the lonely 1,800 kilometer long ‘dog fence’ designed to keep wild dingoes away from the interior’s sheep herds.  Just don’t fall into the estimated one million holes of mining shafts and air vents dotting the surface.

Not to be outdone, the town also offers a golf course, one of the few signs of civilization found above ground.  No ordinary course, this one is devoid of grass and trees, comprising a huge sand trap and nine holes dug in mounds of sand, diesel, and oil.

Golfers tee off by using a small piece of turf that they drag around with them.  On the many days when it’s too hot, avid golfers play at night– using ‘glow in the dark’ golf balls. 

In a show of either sympathy or support, the Coober Pedy Golf Club is the only one in the world to enjoy reciprocal rights at the Royal Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland.

“It’s a very strange and whacky place, full of beautiful people and beautiful landscapes,” resident Anthony Russell said in a thick Aussie drawl. 

“Oh, we’re a bit batty, eccentric characters if you will, but when I walk up the street I say hello to a hundred people and they’ll all wave and say hello back to me.  It’s a friendly place and not a day goes by where you don’t have a good belly laugh and a beer with someone.”

We thought Humboldt had its quirky points but it’s nothing compared to Coober Pedy; a strange and friendly and bizarre place where residents are waiting to strike it rich, waiting for their boat to come in, dreams awash in rich, rich oil amidst the precious opal, orange sandstone dust, and the searing heat of South Australia’s outback.

 

Posted in Environment, Features, Media, Scene0 Comments

An Adorably Slothful Existence

 

Costa Rica’s Baby Sloth Sanctuary

(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

What’s not to love about baby sloths?

They’re fuzzy, smile, have big adorable eyes, and move as slow and gentle as a spoonful of molasses dripping on a cool spring day.  Their squeaks and squeals are as adorable as any kitten. 

They’re also pretty damn cute.

The Aviarios Del Caribe Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica is the world’s only sloth orphanage, home to over a hundred very sleepy adopted urchins whose lives have been saved by legendary sloth whisperer Judy Arroyo.

Sloths are fantastically weird animals, slow moving junkies of the jungle who seem to spend their lives either nodding off or scratching– and occasionally eating a bean or two before drifting back to a blissful daytime nap.

The sanctuary has tours, programs, and overnight accomodations available for visitors receiving rave reviews.  One visiting family wrote:

We were in Costa Rica in January and we visited the Sloth Sanctuary.  This is a low key, charitable establishment that is totally dedicated to the preservation of the native sloths.  The Center give tours of the sanctuary, a film presentation on native sloths, a talk by the staff on their work, a visit to the nursery, and a visitor encounter with the sloths.  The place is very clean and well maintained.

These animals are fascinating and very endearing!  We were introduced to some of the more sociable sloths and the staff are very caring and protective of them.   The center has a dining room with great food, a shop, a small nature walk displaying native plants and trees, and an opportunity to go on a boat ride through the mangroves.  We were lucky and saw three wild sloths in the tree canopies as we sailed along the mangroves!

My favorite was the three-toed guy named Laylo.  I carried him around for two hours.  He looked just as bummed as I was after I had to leave.

This is a great place to visit and I’m sure if you do – you too will be charmed by these strange creatures.  This was my favorite part of our trip to Costa Rica!!

 

If you’re one to fall in love with these animals and can stay awhile, you can also join the sanctuary’s volunteer program.  Trainee sloth wranglers feed the sloths and help exercise and potty train the babies.  

The sanctuary runs solely on donations and voluntary help– so you can do your bit helping these vulnerable creatures whose jungle homes are slowly being destroyed by pesticides, encroachment, sold off to US real estate agencies, and sliced and diced by roads and power lines.

Sloth, smile, and love on, people.

 

Posted in Environment, Features, Media1 Comment

Marilyn

 

Monroe Candidly Remembered On Celluloid

(VIRAL VIDEOS) 

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure.  I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle.  But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

 

Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson) was an American actress, model, and singer, who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful Hollywood motion pictures during the 1950s and early 1960s.

After spending much of her childhood in foster homes, Monroe began her career as a model, which led to a film contract in 1946 with Twentieth Century-Fox. Her early film appearances were minor, but her later performances in The Asphalt Jungle, All About Eve, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Some Like it Hot, and Bus Stop drew attention.

Typecast by Hollywood as the “dumb blonde” persona, not many knew she was a passionate reader, owning four hundred books at the time of her death, and often photographed with a book in hand.

Despite her fame and fortune, she could never rise beyond her insecurities.  The final years of Monroe’s life were marked by illness, personal problems, depression, and a reputation for unreliability and being difficult to work with. 

The mysterious circumstances of her death, from an overdose of barbiturates, have been the subject of debate.  Her death at the young age of 36 was officially classified as a “probable suicide” although the conjectured possibilities of an accidental overdose and homicide have not been ruled out.

A few weeks before her death in 1962, Marilyn’s career and personal life, in a sense, were on the rise.  She was invited to a number of new film projects and spent a weekend with her former husband and baseball great, Joe DiMaggio, and according to rumors they planned to re-marry.   Marilyn was found dead at her home in Brentwood the following weekend.

The funeral arrangements for Monroe were made by DiMaggio and he had a half-dozen red roses delivered to her crypt three times a week for the next 20 years.  He never spoke publicly about his relationship with Monroe.

In the decades following her fast rise from humble origins to stardom and ultimately to a sad and untimely death, Marilyn Monroe ironically became a larger than life pop and cultural icon– and America’s quintessential sex symbol.

“Life is what you make it.  No matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes, it’s a universal truth.

But the good part is you get to decide how you’re going to mess it up.  Girls will be your friends – they’ll act like it anyway.  But just remember, some come, some go.  The ones that stay with you through everything – they’re your true best friends.  Don’t let go of them.  Also remember, sisters make the best friends in the world.

As for lovers, well, they’ll come and go too.  And baby, I hate to say it, most of them– actually pretty much all of them, are going to break your heart, but you can’t give up because if you give up, you’ll never find your soulmate.  You’ll never find that half who makes you whole and that goes for everything.

Just because you fail once, doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything.  Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always believe in yourself, because if you don’t, then who will, sweetie?

So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”

 

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Posted in Features, History, Media, National3 Comments

Rescuing Bethany, Saving Grace

 

A Sick and Homeless Dog’s Inspiring Transformation

(VIRAL VIDEO– Please Share)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Everyone needs a helping hand—or a paw—and someone
to lean on.

Eldad Hagar is well known online for his animal rescue endeavors, and with the help of Annie Hart of Hope For Paws and the Bill Foundation.org, frequently posts the emotional rescue videos for others.

His latest rescue was of Bethany, a sick and homeless dog.

After being contacted by a worried animal lover, Annie and Eldad coaxed the sick dog into the car with the help of a cheeseburger to take her to the vet.  Soon, with plenty of love and attention and care, Bethany would turn out just fine.

Making a touching account of her progress, Eldad and Annie ask that you share this with others.

 * * * * * * * *

If you liked this story, you may enjoy the Sentinel video article,Fiona’s Second Chance”

Please spread the word.  Share this– and all of our posts– with others, and friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.  We appreciate and thank you for reading, and for giving us a little push in the right direction.

 

 

Posted in Features, Media, Scene1 Comment

The Great Navigators

 

Tahiti, Hawaii, Polynesia, and Ocean Voyages Beyond

(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Across Humboldt’s rugged Pacific ocean, 2,500 miles away
in a Southwesterly direction, lay Tahiti, Hawaii, Fiji, and the
greater Polynesian islands.

The Polynesians were intimately tied to the ocean.  No other culture embraced the open sea so fully with such skill and an adeptness for navigating it.

They sailed the sea 1,300 years before Christ, and hundreds of years before the Europeans, using voyaging canoes crafted from island materials and stone tools.  The ocean was naturally integrated into Polynesian culture;  the people came from small islands surrounded by vast and extreme ocean expanses.

waveFor the continental Europeans, the ocean was looked upon as a menacing and terrifying world that only the bravest of explorers would venture out upon for any length of time.  To a Polynesian islander of Tahiti, however, the world was primarily aquatic.  It had always been that way.  The Pacific Ocean covered more area than land on their little corner of the planet. 

In island culture, the navigator and his double outrigger canoe were integral to the survival of the people.

As their islands became overpopulated, Polynesian navigators were sent out to sail uncharted seas to find thousands of undiscovered islands.  For weeks at a time and with only a few earthly possessions taken aboard, they and their families would live on the small flotilla of boats made from wood and lashings of braided fiber in search of a new homeland for the next generation.

It was a dangerous undertaking.  A mistake, an error in judgment, or any lapse of memory on the part of the navigator, no matter how small, could have deadly consequences on the open sea.  The navigator’s responsibility was great and exacting.  He held an enormous position of leadership, knowledge, and trust for which everyone in the clan depended upon for their mutual survival.

Thousands of miles were traversed by these ancient navigators without the aid of maps, sextants, or compasses.  They navigated their canoes by the stars, swells, natural life, and other signs coming from the ocean and sky.

wave3Asleep during the daytime, the paths of the stars and the rhythms of the sea guided these navigators by night.  The color of the sky and sun, the angle of the light and the shapes of the clouds, the movement of the breeze and the direction from which the swells were coming, guided them by day.  The ocean swells and the presence of certain sea and land birds would tell them exactly where land lay ahead.  Several days away from an island still out of sight, they could determine the exact day of landfall.

Navigation was a precise science to the Polynesians, a learned art passed on verbally from one navigator to another for countless generations.  Only the best, brightest, bravest and wisest were chosen to be navigators:  taught over many years through lecture, songs, or with sticks and seashells laid out like a mental map on the sand by elders, they knew over 150 stars by name, as many islands and their chains, and the methods of vessel construction.  It was all burned into the navigator’s collective memory, having no written aids to assist them during their long voyages.  Stories are still told by the Polynesians today about the adventures and travels of these early explorers– whom they refer to as the Great, or Master, Navigators.

In 1768, as he sailed from Tahiti, Captain Cook was amazed to find the Polynesians could always point in the exact direction in which Tahiti and the various 118 islands that make up French Polynesia lay, without the use of the ship’s charts. 

Unlike later visitors to the South Pacific, Cook understood that these Polynesian Great Navigators could guide canoes across the Pacific over great distances without help, discovering and colonizing New Zealand, New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Hawaii, the Marquesa, Cook, and Easter Islands, among others.

These traditional navigation skills, along with the double canoe, eventually disappeared with the emergence of Western technology, which mariners over the world came to rely upon.

pic 8By the 1970s, these Great Navigators from Tahiti and Polynesia, now old men with the millennia of experience taken from generations of explorers before them, began passing away in record numbers.

Except for Nainoa Thompson, these navigators are mostly gone, their knowledge lost forever.  No longer do these ancient aquanauts– or even the newest generation of Polynesian mariners– need brave the open seas  for a place to call home.

* * * * * *

We wonder:  traveling thousands of miles in exploration across the Pacific, did these great navigators ever reach the shores of present-day California?

Recently, linguist Kathryn A. Klar of University of California, Berkeley, and archaeologist Terry L. Jones of California Polytechnic State University have proposed there were contacts between Polynesians and the Chumash and Gabrielino Indians of Southern California, between 500 and 700 AD.

Their primary evidence consists of the advanced sewn-plank canoe design, which is used throughout the Polynesian Islands, but is unknown in North America — except for those two tribes. 

Moreover, the Chumash word for “sewn-plank canoe,” tomolo’o, may have been derived from kumulaa’au, the Polynesian word for the Redwood logs used in construction.

This film is by courtesy of Devin Graham and best seen at the full-screen setting.  For the good folks of Molokai who spent hours patiently telling us the story of these great navigators at the Coconut Grove, thank you.

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Posted in Features, History, Media0 Comments

Our Story in Two Minutes

 

A Time Capsule History

(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Here’s a fascinating video made by Joe Bush, a 19-year old film student as part of a project for his video productions
class.

Joe gathered hundreds of images from all over the Internet and mashed them up to form a 2-minute dramatic video depicting the history of mankind.

Traveling through time highlighting Earth’s events in chronological order, it starts with the formation of the universe, the evolution of man, and fast forwards to the mostly American present day– followed by glimpses of our predicted future on a small and fragile planet.

We’ve come a long way in 650 million years.  Let’s hope we can last the next hundred.

* * * * * * *

This clip is suitable for the full-screen setting.  If you’re curious, the song is ‘Mind Heist’ by Zach Hemsey from the Inception soundtrack.

(Our appreciation to local media guy Jim Hight tipping us off)

 

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Posted in Features, Media1 Comment

The Blob

 

 

Launching Humans 50 Feet High

(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Remember:  for every action, there is an equal and opposite
reaction. 

And what goes up must come down.

Devin Graham visited Bullfrog Marina at Utah’s Lake Powell filming this video with the the help of friends jumping from the top of a houseboat onto The Blob, sending some adventurous soul high into the air and then back down again with an amusing splat.

Below is the behind-the scenes-take of how it all went down.  It wasn’t easy, there were accidents, and fat guy Matt is choice in both his comments and shameless plugs.

 

 

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Posted in Features, Media, Scene2 Comments

A Different Sort of Basketball Slam Dunk

 

Flying From Trampolines

(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

They not only can acrobatically dunk in freestyle form, but fly doing it.

These athletes from the Hungarian Acrobatic Sports Team have been travelling the world for years entertaining crowds with their visually stunning dunk-off trampoline exhibitions choreographed to music.

The Faceteam entertainers are probably closer to circus acrobats than actual basketball dunkers, but every basketball fan can appreciate the skill, precision, and what these guys can do flying through the air to the hoop.

Shot in in Budapest over the course of two days, the filming was done by Devin Graham and Lindsey Stirling.  The song is Higher by Peter Hollens, and friends Scott and Brendo.  This high-def clip is best seen at the full-screen setting.

* * * * * *

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Thank you for reading, and for giving us a push.

Posted in Features, Media, Scene3 Comments

Splendor of Kauai

 

Lost World, Lost Paradise

(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Its beauty is spectacular.

Kauai, the oldest island of the Hawaiian Island chain, was born of rock and fire long, long ago.  It’s a special place having a natural beauty and unique geographical features unlike any other place on earth.

The 553-square mile island has a stunning array of rainforests, beaches, deserts, swamps, and mountains, many of which are remote and untouched, bathed in the tropical rain and sunshine.

Among its diverse landscape are sea caves, waterfalls, steep canyons, river valleys, and endangered species of plants and exotic birds, some of which are found nowhere else but on this precious isle.

God shined when he made Kauai– a heaven on earth, a scintillating pearl among pearls.

Aloha on.

 

(This video is best viewed at the full-screen setting)

Please spread the word.  Share this– and all of our posts– with others, and friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.  We appreciate and thank you for reading, and for giving us a little push in the right direction.

Posted in Environment, Features, Media6 Comments

Into the Wild: Africa

 

Taking a Trip to Somewhere Different

Or, Taking a Trip Back Home

(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Africa is one vast, beautiful, and spectacular place.

It’s the most interesting and diverse continent on the earth:  home to an incredible variety of people, animals, geographies and climates.

Africa covers six percent of the earth’s total surface, has a billion people, and speaks over 2,000 languages in its 54 countries.

It was also your house at one time.  Like, home.

africa skullLong before we were around, Africa was joined to the other continents in a massive continent called Pangaea.  Over millions of years this huge continent broke apart, shaping the landscape as we know it today.

The cradle of mankind, ancient ancestral hominids first appeared in Africa more than 3-4+ million years ago; anatomically modern human beings migrated in several waves from here more than 200,000 years ago.   The first great civilization, Egypt, arose from Africa’s humble origins.  All of humanity– all of us, you and I, we– likely descend from this very place.

It’s also home to the world’s largest and shyest primate (the gorilla), the largest land mammal (the African elephant), and the fastest and the tallest animals (the cheetah and giraffe)– among its 3,700 unique species.  It is where the largest reptile, the Nile crocodile, resides.

Straddling the equator, Africa is the only continent to extend from the northern temperate zone to the southern temperate zone, laying claim to being the hottest continent on the planet.

afirca victoria fallsAfrica has the longest river in the world, the Nile, meandering along for 4,132 miles.  The world’s largest desert, the Sahara, is almost the size of the United States.  Victoria Falls, Africa’s largest waterfall, is 355 feet high and one mile wide.

Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain on the continent, towers above 19,300 feet.  It’s so tall that glaciers can be found at its summit– even though the mountain is near the equator.

What a long strange trip it’s been:  Out of Africa and Into the Wild.  We’re fortunate to be here in this diverse world, a beautiful planet, living, breathing, and dancing for a brief evolutionary moment.

Let’s hope we don’t wear out our welcome.

Devin Graham’s high-def video is best seen at the full-screen setting.  You might also enjoy his ‘Children of Africa’ video, too, one of our favorites.

Giving us a special glimpse into an extraordinary place, he and his girl describes their mighty-white-of-you Mogambo experiences in Kenya, below, along with some stunning visuals and an absurd breakfast on the Maasai Mara savannah.

 

 

Please spread the word.  Share this– and all of our posts– with others, and friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.  We appreciate and thank you for reading, and for giving us a little push in the right direction.

Posted in Features, Media, Scene2 Comments

Space Oddity: The International Space Station’s Viral Video

 

Ground Control to Major Tom

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

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.

ISS“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.

ISS2Indeed.  You can see the International Space Station from Humboldt.

It’s easy if you know where and when to look for 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.

ISS3110 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.

What a long, strange trip it’s been, Major Tom.

 

 

(For the best picture definition, see the video at the full-screen setting)

Posted in Features, Media, National2 Comments

Sad Cat Diary

 

Pages From A Forlorn and Depressed Feline Existence

(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Now we know what lurks in their little minds.

Living in a world of insufferable confusion and loneliness, devoid of any logic, and surrounded by neglectful authorities, it’s a tale of sorrowful tragedy we can scarcely fathom.

The full story of their life hasn’t been revealed until now:  the Diary of a Sad Cat.

Posted in Features, Media, Scene2 Comments

Cliff Jumping and Tombstoning

 

Be Scared and Be Prepared

(VIRAL VIDEOS)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

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 older pros do it.

Heed your elders, Grasshopper, because 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. 

Posted in Environment, Features, Media, Scene1 Comment

One Freaky Creature You Likely Never Met

 

Tarsiers, the Wild Kingdom, and Finding Out Life Isn’t Fair

(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

Freaky, freak, freaky.

Tarsiers are that much and more, as the above clip 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.

old yellerI’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 lines.  A protective and gentle yellow Lab winning the heart of the frontier family, the faithful old dog was put down after contracting rabies.  It was one of those unfair endings brutally assaulting and ripping the innocence out of our childhood and left us bawling on the floor.

OK, life is unfair.  We get that.  And we’ve never been the same ever since.  Thank you, Mr. Disney.

steve irwin2Then 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.

wild kingdomPerkins 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 freshly pressed 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 eating the heck out of the cobra with a zest and zeal like nobody’s business.
 
marlin perkinsMr. 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 his 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.”
 
wild kingdom comicJim 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 and 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 very long with the wild animals and bugs, you will die a slow and horrible and painful death, and you’ll probably get eaten alive 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.

Posted in Environment, Features, Media4 Comments

The Dirty Dash– World’s Muddiest Race

 

A Perfect Fit for Humboldt
(VIRAL VIDEO)

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

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.

dirty dash1This 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!”

dirty dash3Then, 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:

 “Sdirty dash2eriously?  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.

dirty dash5You 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?

dirty dash7Why 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.

dirty dash6After 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

http://www.thedirtydash.com/

Happy Running.

* * * * * * * *

dirty dash4

(For our Humboldt County runners)

Posted in Environment, Features, Media, National2 Comments

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