Archive | Scene

American Dream


Ian Ruhter: The Photographer, The Alchemist



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


American Dream is a remarkable work.

Photographer Ian Ruhter’s all-consuming preoccupation in the last two years has been creating a series of dreamlike and elusively temporal images.  People, places, hints of moments that reach back to something not just deep inside our past but within our subconscious.

This is the alchemy:  Both the actual chemistry of his photographic process as well as the interaction between people and place, perception and reality.

Ruhter had begun tweaking and bending the possibilities of an antique photographic process called wet-plate collodion, a technique that dates back to the 1850s.  Instead of “film,” a photographic surface is coated with sensitized material:  the exposures are protracted; their development is a sensitive affair.

The effect of the chemistry– the dappled surfaces, the blurs and bubbles, the shock of the perception of texture on a two-dimensional plane, and an iridescence that sometimes mimics the luminescence of a half-shell or a surface shimmer replicating motion– demands a second look at something or someone you might look past or through.

Ruhter’s “American Dream Project” is a multi-dimensioned road-bound journey winding him through the country.

This protracted road trip, like an oral narrative full of pauses and diversions, didn’t start with pins on a map but the camera itself.  

To record the detail and the precise majesty he was after, the surfaces themselves had to be large: 48 by 60 inches and beyond.  To take this project on the road, Ruhter traveled in a re-converted delivery truck of his own design housing both camera and darkroom — allowing him to work much like the 19th century photographers who inspired him.

With an engine fueled by word of mouth, a healthy gust of social media goodwill and donations that filter in through the kindness of strangers, this project is Ruther’s attempt to create not just art but a record of the contemporary United States:  a sense of place, people and their dreams.

This is Ruhter’s take:

“The American Dream video is based on the fear of success.

An extremely powerful thing, this fear has the ability to cripple us from pursuing our dreams.  The moment I embraced my dreams, it was as if the universe had drawn people to share their stories and help us.

Our goal is to tell the stories of the people who live in America.  What I’m finding as people encounter it, is that they want to be in some way part of it.  Maybe this is more of a movement than a photography project.

We could not have done this without you.  We have made it this far because you shared and supported us through our social networking sites and we were able to connect with the people because of the internet.

Every time you share or like this project, it brings us one step closer to photographing your town, the people you know, and possibly even you.  Become a part of our journey.”


Sourced from George/Vimeo

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Bustin’ Out Some Bad Boy Moves


A-Z of Dance



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


It’s time to step up.

Shot on the streets and rooftops of sunny LA, Jacob Sutton’s fast moving film highlights breakout stars performing 26 mad dance moves and scoring the alphabet of different styles and techniques from bhangra, krumping, rumba, to the much-loved– or scandalously titillating– twerking.

You, too, can walk on thin air and shake your booty unmercifully ’til the cows come home.  And float like an Arabesque, spin like a B-Boy, wobble like Chicken Noodle Soup, or jerk to some mad Memphis Jookin’.

Yeah, right.  When pigs fly. 

After all, what would your mother say?

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A Beautiful Lapse of Time


A Magical European Photographic Trip 

Award Winning VIDEO


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


We love fine photography and here is an example by one fine photographer with a sharp eye for detail.

Stan Chang spent the best part of two years traveling around Europe with his wife and small son. 

This is a remarkable compilation of time lapse photography he created while on his family’s sojourn throughout the continent.  Taken altogether, it is quite an amazing accomplishment and one that is very pleasing to the eye. 

We particularly enjoyed the beautiful architecture and the accomplishments of early European engineering.  The transitions from day to night were also compelling– but the most fun was simply trying to name the places.

It’s a beautiful world, and Chang’s images, viewed on your largest screen setting, represent the splendid best that nature and mankind can offer.

Have fun, relax, …and enjoy the scenery.


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Teen Stowaway Survives 5-Hour Flight in Jet’s Wheel Well


‘Lucky Survivor’ was Running Away from Home



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


The FBI is calling it a “miracle” and the airline says a teen
who hopped the fence at a San Jose airport is “lucky to have
survived” a 5-hour flight to Maui in the wheel well of a Boeing


The dark of night covered Mineta San Jose International Airport when a 16-year-old boy from nearby Santa Clara wandered onto a secure airport ramp and toward a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767.

Then he quickly disappeared.

The slight teenager, first seen on a security camera video, would not appear again until later Sunday morning, when airline workers spotted him 2,350 miles to the west, walking on the tarmac at Kahului Airport on the island of Maui.

In the interim, authorities say, it was one heck of a flight.  The boy survived a perilous, 5 1/2 -hour odyssey– enduring frigid temperatures, oxygen deprivation and a compartment unfit for human habitation– as he traveled over the Pacific Ocean in the jet’s wheel well.

The incident prompted baffled authorities to question both how the teen so easily gained access to the jumbo jet and just how he survived with so little apparent trauma.

Aviation security experts said it was troubling that the teenage had been able to bypass security and get to the plane undetected.  U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he wanted more answers, adding that the incident “demonstrates vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.”

The Transportation Security Administration planned to meet with law enforcement and airport officials to review security after the incident, which experts noted could have been catastrophic had the stowaway been armed with explosives.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, an estimated $57 billion has been spent on airport security improvements, including new passenger screening measures and additional security both in airports and on airplanes.

Brian Jenkins, an aviation security expert at Rand Corp., said he expected the incident to prompt airport security reviews beyond San Jose.  ”Everyone will tighten up. I suspect everyone will be going up a notch just as a consequence of this,” he said.

The airport, which serves Silicon Valley, is located on the north side of San Jose, near the junction of the 101 and 880 freeways.  A chain-link fence covered with wood slats and topped with three strands of razor wire surround parts of the airport.  San Jose is the 44th largest airport in the nation, according to a Federal Aviation Administration report, with about 8 million passengers a year.

It remains unclear how the teen got onto the tarmac.  Authorities said the teenager apparently had no malicious intent.  The flight, carrying 212 passengers and 10 crew members, took off at 7:55 a.m. Sunday.

Shortly after the plane landed at 10:31 a.m., airline workers spotted the dazed stowaway and reported him to airport security.  

A Maui News photo showed him some time later sitting upright on a gurney.  He was attended by paramedics, apparently alert and showing no obvious signs of his ordeal, and wearing a sweat shirt with an orange hood. 

The teen reported that he had run away from home.  Officials believe he hopped into the first plane he saw on the tarmac and had no thought-out plan.  He will be reunited with his family after some counseling– and due admonishment.

The son of a California cab driver, he is a junior at Santa Clara High School and reportedly moved to the school this year.  

The teen told authorities he left home after a fight with his father and step-mother.  He scaled a fence at the San Jose Airport at about 1 a.m. Sunday, hiding in the Hawaiian Airlines 767 wheel well for nearly seven hours before the plane took off at 7:55 a.m.

Fellow student Emanuael Golla said the student is shy.  “He really didn’t speak that much,” Golla said.  “We were all surprised at what happened.  We really didn’t believe it was him.”

Authorities said the temperature at the jet’s cruising altitude of 38,000 feet could have dropped to 50 degrees below zero or less.  Oxygen would have also been in painfully short supply at that altitude, about 9,000 feet higher than the summit of Mt. Everest.

An FBI spokesman said the boy apparently had been unconscious for the “lion’s share of the flight.”

Such ordeals do not usually end well.  Those who do not fall to their death can be crushed by landing gear or succumb to cold and lack of oxygen.  FAA records show that of the 105 people who stowed away on flights around the world over the last 67 years, 25 lived through the ordeal, a survival rate of 23%.

“He must have had the four-leaf clover in his hand or something,” said Jeff Price, an aviation security expert in Denver.

Armand Dorian, a Los Angeles doctor who treated a high-altitude stowaway survivor in 2000, said the teen’s survival over the weekend was not as surprising as the fact that he appeared unruffled.

For the minority of stowaways who survive, “the planets align,” said Dorian, an associate clinical professor of emergency medicine at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital.  For the lucky few, “the need for oxygen declines as the body cools.  It’s exactly like the concept of cryogenic freezing… The boy’s body went into a frozen state.”

When Dorian treated another wheel-well stowaway in 2000, the patient suffered much more obvious trauma.  That victim, in his 20s, crumpled on to the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport after a 7 1/2 hour flight from Tahiti.  His body core temperature had dropped to 79 degrees, which would normally be fatal, according to accounts at the time.

It wasn’t exactly an Aloha moment for the lad with free airfare.  In a statement released yesterday, Hawaiian Airlines spokeswoman Alison Croyle said the airline’s “primary concern now is for the well-being of the boy, who is exceptionally lucky to have survived.”

The city of San Jose said it will not pursue criminal charges against the boy, officials said.


Via Google News, NBC, CNN, YouTube/Times


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The Tumultuous World of Puberty


‘Four Eyes’

Award Winning Video


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


Let’s face it.  Puberty is about as rough as it gets.

Especially for Bobby Bowersox.  When the 10-year-old gets beaned with a baseball in right field, it is crystal clear he needs to get glasses.

When does get them, he can suddenly see things clearer– from the objects around him to the glossy pictures of smiling women in swimwear that previously were only a mysterious blur.

Although reluctant to accept his need for glasses, after some awkward and caring guidance from his nerdy parents Boyd and Paulette, Bobby’s world view soon changes as he delights in the whole new phase of life lying just ahead.

A charming and enjoyable flick, we’re reminded of how humorous life, and its cruel and funny phase of puberty, can really be for us all.


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Growing Up


You Only Have Once



Catie Warren
Humboldt Sentinel


I’ve always been the free spirit of the family.

The loud one, the silly one, the one who never really had it all together.  My mom says I’m adventurous, my dad calls it independence, and my grandmother–well, she’s never really understood it.

I marched to the beat of my own drum, I strayed from the pack, I didn’t fit into the mold.

I wanted life experience, wanted to make mistakes.  I yearned to make something of myself, to stand on my own. I wanted to live.  And for whatever reason, I thought that in order to do this– in order to be happy–  I had to do it on my own.

I looked at my mother and my sisters, the ones who had gotten married young and had babies young and had settled young, and I pitied them.

“What a waste,” I used to think.  

“How sad for them.  How sad they all must be.”  I imagined they looked at my life and envied me.  Envied my late nights and strange men and my I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude. I wondered if they regretted their choices, spent their nights longing for a life of what could have been, for a life without monotony, for a life full of risk and uncertainty and not knowing what tomorrow might bring.

It all seemed so awful, so boring, so normal.  So I rebelled.  I took a stand against everything the women in my life had ever done.  I wanted to be careless and carefree, and I wanted not to care about anyone other than myself.  I thought I was breaking the mold.

I thought I was really showing everyone what they were missing out on.  Now, I see, I’m the one who’s missing out.

Now, I look at my sisters and my friends and my mother, the ones who have settled down and the ones who have someone and the ones who have little someones, and I can’t help but feel overcome with jealousy.

I want what they have.  After the late nights at work, the later nights at bars, and the hungover mornings that come too soon, I’ve realized that happiness isn’t found at the bottom of a bottle.  Happiness isn’t found next to a stranger in

Happiness isn’t found in dancing on tables or triple digit bar tabs or hangovers that nearly kill you.  It’s not found in bottomless mimosa brunches or happy hours that continue until last call, and it’s not even found in a really good shot of tequila. 

It was at one point. It really, truly was. But it’s not anymore. And I don’t really know how to cope with that.

My entire life thus far has been one giant middle finger to everything my parents have ever stood for.  The suburbs and the station wagons and the Sunday Schools– it’s all I’ve never wanted.

Suddenly, everything I’ve been running from is now everything I truly ache for.  

It is everything I think about when I drift off to sleep, everything I dream about, everything I see when I envision true completion.  I look at the faces of my nieces and nephews, how they light up when my sisters walk into rooms, how they giggle and smile and are full of such genuine happiness.

I see the sonograms and the onesies and the hair bows and the baby dolls and the crooked smiles and, most importantly, the love.  And I want it.

I’m tired of being alone.  I’m tired of being selfish.  I’m tired of thinking that growing up means giving up.

Happiness, for me, is no longer dancing on table tops.  It’s not drinking until I pass out.  It’s not 3 a.m. phone calls, and it’s not passionless sex.  It’s not about having more friends as having real ones.

I’m over it, done with it, can’t-turn-the-page-fast-enough ready for the next chapter.  But I don’t know where this leaves me.

I don’t know if this makes me an adult or if it just makes me a little more mature than I once was.  I don’t know if this makes me someone who’s looking for love or someone who wants a baby or someone who’s just tired of being on her own.  I don’t know if this means that I’ll one day become just like my mother– and I don’t even know if I want to be just like her.

But I know that this, what I’ve been doing, it’s not me anymore.  It’s not what I want.

Maybe this is what growing up is.  And for the first time ever, I’m okay with it.



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I’d Rather Have a Free Bottle in Front of Me…


…Than a Prefrontal Lobotomy



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


Sit back and enjoy the amusing ride.

Alcohol always seems to produce the best and the worst
in people. 

From Benjamin Franklin to The Simpsons, here’s a few favorite
quotes from both sides. 

If you have any of your own, feel free to toss them into the peanut
gallery of comments below.


“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk.  That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”
~ Ernest Hemingway


“No animal ever invented anything as bad as drunkenness – or so good as drink.”

~ G. K. Chesterton


“I got so wasted one night I waited for the stop sign to change, and it did.”
~ Steve Krabitz


“Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed.  Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams.  If I didn’t drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered.  Then I say to myself, It is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true than to be selfish and worry about my liver.”
~ Jack Handey


“When you stop drinking, you have to deal with this marvelous personality that started you drinking in the first place.”
~ Jimmy Breslin


“If you drink, don’t park; accidents cause people.”

~ Anonymous


“The answer to life’s problems aren’t at the bottom of a beer bottle, they’re on TV.”
~ The Simpsons


“Drink what you want; drink what you’re able. If you are drinking with me, you’ll be under the table.”
~ Mae West


“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
~ Benjamin Franklin


“I envy people who drink.  At least they have something to blame everything on.”

~ Oscar Levant


“Beauty lies in the hands of the beer holder.”
~ Anonymous


“Here’s to alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all life’s problems.”
~ The Simpsons


“Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer.  Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.”
~ Dave Barry


“It’s like gambling somehow.  You go out for a night of drinking and you don’t know where you’re going to end up the next day.  It could work out good or it could be disastrous.  It’s like the throw of the dice.”
~ Jim Morrison


“Alcoholic friends are as easy to make as Sea Monkeys.”

~ A Dry Bartender in Muskogee


“Maybe talking when I’m piss ass drunk isn’t entirely bright.”
~ Chris McGowan


“It takes only one drink to get me drunk.  The trouble is I can’t remember if it’s the thirteenth or the fourteenth.”
~ George Burns


“I know a lot more old drunks than old doctors.”
~ Joe E. Lewis


“I knew I was drunk. I felt sophisticated and couldn’t pronounce it.”
~ Anonymous


“When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.”
~ Henny Youngman


“He that drinks fast, pays slow.”
~ Benjamin Franklin


“Drinking beer doesn’t make you fat; it makes you lean.  Against bars, tables, chairs, and poles.”

~ Anonymous


“Whenever someone asks me if I want water with my scotch, I say, I’m thirsty, not dirty.”
~ Joe E. Lewis


“Responsible drinking? Now that’s an oxymoron.”
~ Aaron Howard


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Our appreciation and thanks goes out to Tom Sebourn and Jen Savage. 
Drink responsibly.  Yeah, we really mean that.  Your liver needs you.


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Secrets of the Egyptian Pyramids


Cairo: 1920



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


It’s an amazing tale.

There are many ancient Egyptian secrets out there begging to be
discovered underneath the sands of time. 

We only have to find them.  This video from Kheops Pyramides lets us in on one of these shocking untold stories. 

No one believed these deeply kept rumors until now.  It was only after the hard evidence was found that this dark mystery was finally revealed for the first time and brought to light.

Keep looking.  Under the couch.  …That remote must be somewhere.

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Making the News


From Headlines to Hard Times

Award Winning VIDEO


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


Ed Mitchell is a former Reuters, BBC and ITN-TV journalist who lost it all.

Educated at England’s prestigious Durham University, Mitchell had stints at Channel Four, the European Business Channel, Asia Business News, European Business News and CNBC Europe in the 1990s until he was let go by CNBC in 2000.

From there it was a downward spiral for Mitchell.  He struggled to find work without success.  Once earning a salary of $200,000 per year, he fell into a vicious cycle of alcoholism, divorce, credit card debt and bankruptcy, and then ultimately, homelessness.

In 2007, the media revealed that the once famous newscaster had become homeless, sleeping on the park benches of Brighton’s Hove seafront.

In January 2008, the documentary Saving Ed Mitchell was shown about his struggle.  The end of the bleak documentary, presented by his former ITN colleague Carol Barnes, showed him being given an opportunity to return to news casting if he attended the Priory Clinic for his alcohol abuse treatment.  He made the choice to do it.

Successfully abstaining from drinking after his treatment, Mitchell got back onto his feet and returned to broadcasting.  He is the author of the best-selling book, From Headlines to Hard Times

He now helps with the recovery of others and considers himself fortunate for being given a second chance turning his life around.  He emphasizes that a life of regrets lead to resentments, alcoholism to homelessness, and that it can happen to anyone.

Making the News, an award-winning video, reflects on the period of life when Ed was homeless, living on Brighton’s seafront.

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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.

* * * * * * * *

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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Study: Vegetarians Less Healthy Than Others


Report Shows Significant Correlation Of Disorders



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


Oh no, say it ain’t so.

Vegetarian diets are tied to generally poorer health, poorer quality of life, and a higher need for health care than their meat-eating counterparts, a new study reports.

The study from the Medical University of Graz in Austria finds that vegetarians are more physically active, drink less alcohol and smoke less tobacco than those who consume meat in their diets. 

Vegetarians also have a higher socioeconomic status and a lower body mass index.  But the vegetarian diet– characterized by a low consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol that includes increased intake of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain products– carries elevated risks of cancer, allergies and mental health disorders.

Vegetarians were twice as likely to have allergies, a 50 percent increase in heart attacks and a 50 percent increase in incidences of cancer.

The cross-sectional study from Austrian Health Interview Survey data and published in PLos One examined participants’ dietary habits, demographic characteristics and general lifestyle differences.

The most significant dietary habit difference between meat-eaters and vegetarians concerned their BMI and alcohol consumption – with both being higher for those who consume meat.

Many past studies have instead put an emphasis on the health risks associated with red meat and carnivorous diets, but this study points in the other dietary direction.

Overall, vegetarians were found to be in a poorer state of health compared to other dietary groups. 

Vegetarians, according the Austrian study, also reported higher levels of impairment from disorders, chronic diseases, and “suffer significantly more
often from anxiety and depression.”

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This is a hard one to fathom.  There’s goes the tempeh, quinoa, and Baba Ganoush.

An excerpt, you can read the full article here at CBS-Atlanta.


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…and please, no vegetable violence.

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The Icelandic Jungle Hop


Amazing Land of Contrasts



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


Iceland is an amazing place.  Its people call it a place of magic and wonder, a land of contrasts, and a jungle where
everything is uniquely special and different.

When most people think of Iceland, the first thing that comes to mind is probably ice—lots and lots of ice. However, strangely enough this actually isn’t the case at all– it’s quite green.

And while Iceland may not have much ice, it does have many unique things to offer the world:

Iceland has sufficient natural resources to generate all the electricity needed for mainland Europe.  It can do this without burning any fossil fuels, relying only on its geothermal and hydroelectric energy.  The difficulty, however, would be in transporting the energy to the mainland.

Iceland only has 321,000 people.  The majority of them believe in elves.  They also smile a lot as a whole.

Part of Iceland is on the North American tectonic plate and part is on the Eurasian plate.  These plates are moving away from each other at a rate of about 2 centimeters per year– and the gap fills in immediately with lava.

Most men knit.

When the early settlers arrived, they encountered a rich forest which they promptly cut down for construction and firewood.  What they didn’t realize was that, with Iceland’s long winters and indirect sunlight, each tree takes about 50 years to grow back.  Most of the island is now devoid of trees, but progressive reforestation efforts are underway.  Always one to share a tongue-in-cheek joke, Icelanders sometimes refer to themselves as living in the ‘jungle’.

Public nudity is perfectly acceptable at its numerous hot springs and showering facilities.  However, Iceland has banned strip clubs and is looking at banning online pornography.  The reason isn’t for puritanical beliefs, but feminist ones.  Iceland’s government is close to half female and considered one of the most feminist-friendly countries in the world.  The reasoning for the ban is that stripping objectifies women while hardcore online porn can also be violent—all in all, it gives the wrong message to children.

The crime rate is extraordinary low in Iceland.  The country’s 700 police officers do not carry guns, and many of them have roles other than law enforcement (like, ambulance drivers).  Iceland has no standing army.  It is protected by a lightly armed Coast Guard.

Iceland has 137 prisoners.  4 of the prisoners are women.

Icelanders have one of the highest life expectancies in the world: 81.3 years for women and 76.4 years for men.

About 10% of Icelanders have a family name that is passed down from generation to generation, as is done in North America and Europe (e.g., Mary and Joe Smith’s kids have the last name of Smith).  Most families in Iceland instead use a patronymic naming system, where the last name of the children is taken from the father’s first name.  For example, if the father’s first name is Gunnar, his son’s last name will be Gunnarsson and his daughter’s last name will be Gunnarsdóttir.

English has gained a number of words from Icelandic, including:  geyser, berserk, gush, cunning, eddy, and sagaThere’s more.

Vigdís Finnbogaadóttir, a woman, was elected president of Iceland for four consecutive terms– sixteen years.  After a couple terms in office, she found the young boys would ask her if, they too, could become president.  They had only seen a woman holding office.

Apart from drinking more Coca Cola per capita than anywhere else in the world, Iceland also has a jungle drink all their own they call Brennivin

Having a nasty reputation among Icelanders, Brennivin is an alcoholic beverage– a sort of schnapps distilled from potatoes.  While this doesn’t sound too bad, it also uses caraway seeds, giving it a wild and vile flavor.


* * * * * * * * * *

A beautiful land and people.  Our kind of place.

Via Sourcelists, Hamar Guest House, Inspired By Iceland, Peter Hammer (top photo) and Vimeo

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Back To Their Future


Irina Werning’s Stunning Film Project

Award-Winning Viral Video


Irina Werning


I love old photos.

I admit being a nosey photographer.  As soon as I step into
someone else’s house, I start sniffing for them.

Most of us are fascinated by their retro look, but to me it’s
imagining how people would feel and look like if they were
to reenact them today.

Two years ago, I decided to actually do this.  So, with my camera,
I started inviting people to go back to their future…


Behind The Scenes And ‘Back To The Future’ With Photographer Irina Werning from NPR on Vimeo.

Film and Photo Credit:  Irina Werning, Jamie Jessett, and NPR


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‘Honey, There’s A Giant RAT In The Kitchen’


Ratzilla On The Loose


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


It was a monster, all right, and the stuff of nightmares.

A family in a suburb of Stockholm was briefly terrorized by an
enormous rat  that had family members jumping on chairs and
left the cat “terrorized for a week.”

The behemoth, dubbed the “rat from hell” by Swedish website
The Local, crawled into the family’s kitchen through a hole up
from the cellar.  It tried to eat the family cat.

Signe Bengtsson was the first family member to spot the beast.

“I couldn’t help but do the old classic and jump on the kitchen table and just scream,” she told The Local.

Reached by phone Thursday at their house in Solna, a small town near Stockholm, Erik Korsas said he at first didn’t believe his wife’s description of the scurrying critter.

“Next time I will believe my wife when she hears something rattling around behind the dishwasher,” he said.

“I was away for a few days on business when my wife called me and told me that there was a mutant rat in the kitchen,” Korsas said.  “I thought to myself that she was just over exaggerating and told her not to worry until I got home.”

“I said, ‘Yeah, sure, take it easy, I’ll be home on Sunday.’  But by then it had jumped into the waste bin and had a Swedish smorgasbord with all the leftovers,” he says.

His wife Signe, 39, added: 

“I heard some rustling and I looked and I saw this enormous rat eating the leftovers in the rubbish bin.  It really was a monster and it just sat there in the bin, staring at me.”

“I was absolutely terrified, petrified, and I just couldn’t believe that such a monster could exist– and be in my kitchen.  I have to admit, I just jumped onto the chair and I screamed.”

When Korsas did return, the mega-rat had chewed through water pipes and started a small flood.

Korsas said his smallest boy had labeled it a “Putin Rat,” but not because of any resemblance to the Russian leader.  “He said it was a ‘Putin Rat’ because it had invaded our home — and therefore it was like Putin.”

The huge beast – many times the size of a normal rat – chased the family out of their kitchen and attacked their pet.

An exterminator eventually killed the beefy rat, which was the size of a small cat and weighed one kilo– about 2.2 pounds.  It measured 16 inches from nose to claws– and that doesn’t include the tail.

Ordinary rat traps wouldn’t do the trick for Ratzilla: For this task, the exterminator brought in three special giant rat traps.  When one of them snapped shut on its neck, it continued to run around the kitchen.

“When they build mouse traps or rat traps, you think that the mouse or rat should be killed by the spring when it is activated.  This rat was so big over the neck the trap didn’t kill it,” Korsas said. 

The women of the house– mother Signe and daughters Dana and Erica, 17 and 15-years old– took fright but his sons, 13-year-old Justus and six-year-old Laurentius, proved themselves genuine rat-hunters, he said.

It was the boys who investigated after the trap was sprung and the
injured animal crawled away.  It was they who brought him tools to
help establish it was truly dead.

Korsas had heard tales of rats that grow to the size of dogs in New York City subways, an urban myth apparently known around the globe.  Korsas said the exterminator told him about similar beasts in Sweden’s big cities, which live the good life and gain weight– just like people do.

“In Scandinavia, everything is bigger,” he joked.

While the rat ate its way through solid concrete and wood and scampered up through the hole that has since been patched, there’s still a chance the family may see more of the creatures.

“The exterminator said the rat came from our basement.  It had gone from a cellar.  He said if there’s one, there are more.  Now they’ve fixed the hole that the rat made.  But we will see.” 

“We didn”t go into the kitchen afterwards and the cat, Enok, is still terrified.”


…And wait until the rest of the angry ratzilla family finds out what just happened.

* * * * * * * * *

Sourced from The Local, BBC News, Fox and Metro News, and USA Today

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California: Dogs In Cars


Doing What They Love Most



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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Robert Ripley’s Unbelievably Amazing Statue


–Believe It or Not!–

Ripley’s Believe It or Not Films


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


It’s an amazing one-of-a-kind work of art that still baffles people today.

When Hananuma Masakichi learned he was dying of tuberculosis, he wanted to give his girlfriend a way to remember him.  So he painstakingly constructed a life-sized and startlingly realistic statue of himself using thousands of strips of wood– some reports say between 2,000 and 5,000 strips; others say as many as 20,000.

The Masakichi Statue was reportedly Robert Ripley’s favorite exhibit.  Ripley had spent 20 years looking for the masterpiece before finally landing it in 1934.

Working with adjustable mirrors, Masakichi made each body part separately using strips of dark wood.  The statue is mostly hollow inside.  No nails were used; the strips were assembled using dovetail joints, glue and wooden pegs.  They are joined so perfectly that no seams can be seen, even with a magnifying glass.

The wood was painted and lacquered to match his skin tone and reflects every tendon, muscle, bone, vein and wrinkle and pore. 

Masakichi also handcrafted glass eyes that are so technically and visually
perfect that they still baffle members of the optical profession.

But what came next was stranger still.

The artist bored a tiny, individual hole for every pore on his body and plucked the corresponding hair from that pore and inserted it into the exact position on the statue.  In this manner he covered the entire sculpture with all of his own hair– from his head, beard, the backs of his hands, legs, eyebrows and eyelashes, and, yes, “that private part,” too.

Then Masakichi pulled out all of his own fingernails, toe nails and teeth and carefully put them in their exact place on the statue.  As a finishing touch he gave the statue his glasses, his clothes, a sculpting tool and a tiny mask he had made.

After years of meticulous labor, Masakichi held a private exhibition of his work.  It was met with the utter confusion and awe of the audience who could not tell how such a magnificent work was created.

Standing next to the statue in the same pose, many viewers couldn’t tell which was the real man and which was the one made out of wood.

Masakichi was 53 when the amazing statue was finished in 1885.  The figure appears somewhat emaciated because the suspected TB was already taking its toll.

Sadly, it was all for naught.  Pouring his heart and soul into the work, Masakichi’s girlfriend left him; he never made any real money from the statue; and some reports say that when he finally died 10 years later at age 63, it wasn’t even from TB.  Apparently he received a bad diagnosis.

When Robert Ripley began collecting the world’s oddities in the 1930s, Masakichi’s statue was one of the first items he acquired, paying a San Francisco saloon-owner $10 for it.

Considered the world’s most life-like sculpture ever created, it was among the hundreds of items Ripley owned over the years.  One of his favorite items in a worldwide collection of globetrotting throughout the world, Ripley often displayed the Masakichi statue in his Believe It or Not! museums and even in his own home.

Believe it or Not.

* * * * * * * * *

We all leave a legacy, great or small, behind. 
What is yours today?

~Sourced from: Vimeo, Robert Ripley’s Believe It or Not!,
Inside the Vault, and Mental Floss

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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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Portrait of a Runner


A Little Film About Focus and Reason



Sean Michael/MP Cunningham


Grant Davis is the runner and voice of the film.

He’s also probably the smartest friend that I have.

He can find meaning to just about everything.  If he decides to do something, he’ll do it right, and then he’ll tell you all about why it matters.

I was stoked to team up again with my good friend MP Cunningham to shoot this little film as he always has amazing ideas that make things a million times better.

Sometimes while shooting, I think you can be so overwhelmed and distracted by not only what you see with your eyes but also by what you hear and smell and taste.  It’s hard to actually know how to capture what’s in front of you.

Yet there are other times when the complete opposite is true and everything you sense seems to just ease itself into an image.  I think a lot of it has to do with your intentions, and who you have around you.

We came into it relatively unscripted and without any real burdening expectations. I think that, coupled with just being with good friends, it all lent to some good karma.

We landed in San Francisco and spent the next 3 days driving north to Arcata and shooting what we saw along the way…

* * * * * * * * * *

Shot on the new Sony F55 camera and edited by Sean Michael & MP Cunningham
Color and sound design by Wayne Nillson
Produced by Kurt Hale
Title by Davis Ngarupe
Still photography by Weston Colton

The song is Arrival of The Birds by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra

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Malaysian Flight 370 Disappearing Act


Little Progress Made Into Fate of 239 Missing Passengers



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


It is still a mystery as to what happened to the large Boeing
777 plane and its 239 passengers aboard that disappeared
altogether off the face of the earth.

Investigators are looking at the flight simulator taken from the home of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah.  They have discovered that some data had been erased from it, Malaysia’s acting transportation minister said Wednesday.

The investigators didn’t say what had been deleted.  They also did not say who might have deleted the data.

“It would be suspicious to me, because there’s no need to do it,” said Jay Leboff, owner of HotSeat, a simulator manufacturer.

The revelation came as the search for the missing airliner neared its 13th day.  No distress signals were made.  No cell phone communications sent by passengers have been uncovered.  No terrorist links have been discovered nor have any organizations claimed responsibility for foul play.  The Boeing plane disappeared without a trace or explanation.

After veering off course, the pilot relayed a simple message:  ”Everything all right.  Good night.”

Although the search area spans a vast area of nearly 3 million square miles between Australia and Indonesia, a U.S. government official familiar with the investigation said the plane is most likely somewhere on the southern end of the search area.

“This is an area out of normal shipping lanes, out of any commercial flight patterns, with few fishing boats, and there are no islands,” the official said, warning that the search could well last “weeks and not days.”

The lack of progress has angered and frustrated families, who have accused Malaysian officials of withholding information.  Some family members staged a protest at the hotel where media covering the search are staying.

“We have been here for 10 days, no single piece of information,” one woman said. “We need media from the entire world to help us find our lost families, and find the Malaysian 370 plane.”

Malaysian authorities appeared to hustle the women away.

The plane’s disappearance continues to intrigue the public and frustrate officials, who have turned up no sign of the plane despite the involvement of teams from 26 nations.

On Tuesday, a law enforcement official said that the aircraft’s first major change of course — an abrupt westward turn that took the plane off its route to China and back across the Malay Peninsula — was almost certainly programmed by somebody in the cockpit.

Malaysian authorities, who are coordinating the search, say the available evidence suggests the missing plane flew off course in a deliberate act by someone who knew what they were doing.

Particular attention has focused on the pilot and first officer on Flight 370, but authorities are yet to come up with any evidence explaining why either of them would have taken the jetliner off course.

Investigators are looking into the background of all 239 passengers and crew members on board the plane, as well as its ground crew, Malaysian officials have said.  They’ve received background checks on all nations with passengers on board with the exception of Russia and Ukraine.

Searchers are racing the clock in their efforts to find the plane and its flight-data and cockpit-voice recorders. The devices have batteries designed to send out pings for 30 days.  That leaves 18 days until the batteries are expected to run out.

U.S. military and intelligence officials emphasize that while no one knows what happened to the plane, it is more logical to conclude it crashed into the Indian Ocean.

Malaysia’s public face of the search efforts, has repeatedly said that little is likely to be established about the mysterious flight until the plane is found.

But in the Indian Ocean, where Australia and Indonesia have taken the lead in the hunt, some of the depths that searchers are dealing with are significant.

The Bay of Bengal, for example, has depths of between about 13,000 feet and 23,000 feet.  Wreckage and bodies of 228 passengers from Air France Flight 447, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, were found at depths of around 12,000 feet by unmanned submarines. 

It took four searches over the course of nearly two years to locate the bulk of the wreckage and the majority of the bodies. It took even longer to establish the cause of the disaster.

Right now, authorities don’t even know for sure if the missing Malaysian plane crashed or landed — or where.



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The Burden of the Beard



–Award-Winning Short Documentary–


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


‘Passion’ is the story of Jack Passion.  And his beard.

Defying social convention and an ambassador for the sport of competitive beard growing, Jack has pushed on to become the two-time world beard champion through good times and bad.

He shares his inspirational story with us, guiding us into his world and this award-winning 7 minute narrative documentary by Zach Bainter.

He considers what his world has become due to his beard, contemplating the thought of a cold bare world without it. 

Much like the story of Samson and Delilah, he, too, faces the conflict of losing his identity and all he has become– with only a momentary decision and the quick cut of his hair.

* * * * * * * *

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Micro Homes On The Road


Tiny Self-Sustainable Living



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


The freedom of having a home, being self-sufficient, and traveling on the road is the quintessential American Dream. 

Why not combine them into one?

This student-designed micro home is completely self-sufficient and can be towed by your average car.

This prototype for a new kind of self-sufficient mobile home was designed with reclaimed materials by an innovative group of sixteen students, members of a Renewable Energy and Ecological Design course at Green Mountain College in Vermont.

The Optimal Traveling Independent Space is a pod-shaped home with a reduced environmental footprint that is equipped with a composting toilet, a rainwater collection system to provide indoor plumbing, and 120-watt solar panels to provide its own electricity off the grid.

The home is selling between $8,000 and $10,000.

OTIS can be towed easily by a 5-foot-by-8-foot trailer, giving the freedom to live a nomadic life to a generation that would rather reduce their carbon footprints than be tied down by mortgages.

“The appeal of living a more 21st century nomadic lifestyle represents a new take on the American Dream, especially among students in this millennial generation,” Professor Lucas Brown, Director of the REED course, explained.


Via Utne/Gizmag/Inhabitat
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Arcata Lights the Way Forward


Small City Big on Progressive Thinking



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


We’re inspired by the City of Arcata.

One of the most progressive and forward thinking communities in California, its civic leaders think outside the box, helping people and businesses alike to build prosperity and community.

Arcata just approved $600,000 in loans and technical assistance to build a new industrial park on the Happy Valley Industrial Park property for the ‘incubation’ of new business. 

Additionally, the small municipality also approved expanding and improving a condominium-style complex in the Aldergrove Industrial Park enabling private local companies to purchase and acquire their own property.

At the Arcata Courtyard Circle Apartments, the first solar-powered apartment complex of its kind in Humboldt County, Arcata team leader Sean Armstrong
is creating a ‘food forest’.  

Armstrong envisions building and strengthening the Arcata community “one fruit tree at a time.”  The food forest, co-funded by the city of Arcata, will be planted and maintained by like-minded volunteers.  It will include peaches, grapes, Chilean guavas, blueberries, tayberries, marionberries, kiwis, pears, cherries, oranges and native plants that will grow well in the local climate.

The city is also making major improvements to the Juniper Apartment low income housing project with capital repairs of new roofing, siding, stairs, landscaping and other repairs, keeping it maintained and looking good for residents and citizens. 

The city’s other development, Windsong, has prospered nicely under a similar plan, with those homes bought and owned by low-income residents who never dreamed of becoming proud homeowners themselves one day.

There are more examples:  the community farms, bird marsh and wildlife sanctuary, the recreation and community centers, the community forest and parks, and others. 

Arcata, through some smart urban planning, is a liveable, walkable, bicycle-able, and safe workable city.  It’s residents are,
for the most part, happy and satisfied.  Businesses locating there 
have been growing steadily.

Humboldt State University (HSU) in Arcata has also fostered its share of forward thinking through University improvements, increased enrollment and endowments, the construction of multiple new dorms and the science, kinesiology, and behavioral and social science buildings under the leadership of President Rollin Richmond.

HSU has expanded new research opportunities in Regenerative Medicine and the CSU Program in Biotechnology, the Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology, and the Agricultural Research Initiative.

HSU’s Schatz Energy Lab pioneered the first developments of creating hydrogen energy from water, performing innovative energy research and in-
ternships for engineering and science students under
the direction of Dr. Peter Lehman.

These are only a few examples of the innovative planning and thinking Arcata and HSU have jointly advanced benefitting the people living here.  New ideas are constantly in the works.

This video that you see here by Shugo Tokumaru reminds us of this progressive legacy, and what Arcata, Sean Armstrong, HSU, Dr. Rollin Richmond, and others are doing.  Find the biggest screen you can, turn up the volume, and watch this video again to see what we mean.  You won’t regret it.

Why?  There are many similarities. 

The sheer amount of work and thinking involved.  The colossal amount of energy expended. The amazing attention to detail.  The bold beauty and foresight to bring forth something better and improved for everyone– collaboratively using skills, given talents, and our imagination on a wider scale. 

The woeful city of Eureka, with a staff and budget far larger than that of Arcata in comparison, could certainly gain from Arcata’s example, direction, and wisdom.

Arcata, our hat is off to you.  Cities just like you– and their timely planning and constructive hard work– built America. 

Leading the visionary way forward, you’re the bright light for the future of Humboldt.

* * * * * * * * *

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Bitcoin CEO Found Dead in Singapore


Mysterious Suicide One of Many in Financial Industry


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


The American CEO of a Bitcoin and virtual currency exchange was found dead in her Singapore apartment last
week under mysterious circumstances, multiple sources report.

Autumn Radtke was CEO of First Meta, a virtual currency exchange based in Singapore.  The company allowed users to buy and sell virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, as well as exchange national currencies for virtual currencies and virtual currencies for national currencies, according to Forbes.

Prior to taking the reins at First Meta in 2012, the 28-year-old Radtke had once closely worked with technology giant Apple to bring cloud-computing software to Johns Hopkins University, Los Alamos Labs and the Aerospace Corp., according to her biography.  She then took up business development roles at tech start-ups Xfire and Geodelic Systems, according
to information on her LinkedIn profile.

Radtke was discovered in her apartment on February 28, the Daily Mail newspaper in London reported.  City officials are waiting for the toxicology results but local media outlets are calling her death a suicide.  She was 28 years old.

Autumn’s death comes on the heels of the collapse of the Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange Mt Gox last week, after $500 million went missing overnight, as well as the March 4 closure of the Flexcoin bank in Canada after hackers stole $600,000, according to the UK’s Daily Mail.

A note on the company’s website said, “The First Meta team is shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of our friend and CEO Autumn Radtke.  Our deepest condolences go out to her family, friends and loved ones.  Autumn was an inspiration to all of us and she will be sorely missed.”

According to the website, Radtke had lived in Singapore since January of 2012.

Her death comes as troubles swirl around the nascent cryptocurrency industry, and amid a rash of suicides in the financial industry as a whole. 

Radtke’s death is one of eight suspected financial sector suicides in 2014.

Other mysterious deaths in the field include:  

a 33-year-old JPMorgan finance pro who jumped off the roof of the JPMorgan Hong Kong office on Feb. 18; Gabriel Magee, 39, a vice president with JPMorgan’s corporate and investment bank technology branch in the UK who jumped off the roof of the bank’s Canary Wharf tower in London on Jan. 28; and Ryan Henry Crane, 37, a JPMorgan executive director who was found dead inside his Stamford, Conn., home on Feb. 3.

Financial-related suicides are common during times of market upheaval, such as were witnessed during the Great Depression or the Crash of 1987.  However, the recent deaths are unusual inasmuch as they have coincided with a surge of major indexes to record highs.


Via Daily Mail/CNN/Google News/CNBC

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Altered Route


A Short and Bizarre Skate Film




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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Passes By 



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



Lost time is never found again. 
You may delay, but time will not.

~Benjamin Franklin

Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.

~Bil Keane

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.

~Carl Sandburg


If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?  Patience and time do more than strength or passion.

~John Wooden

Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life.

~Michael LeBoeuf

Time has been transformed, and we have changed; it has advanced and set us in motion; it has unveiled its face, inspiring us with bewilderment and exhilaration.

~Khalil Gibran


We must use time as a tool, not as a crutch. 

The great French Marshall Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years.

The Marshall replied, ‘In that case, there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon!’

~John F. Kennedy

 * * * * * * * * *


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Runnin’ Down a Dream


Childhood Beauty of Flight and Imagination



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


Never stop being a kid.

Never stop feeling and seeing and being excited with great
things like air and engines and planes and flight and the roar
of sounds and sunlight within you.

It’s like running down a dream.  Science, freedom, beauty, adventure.  Each curve of an airfoil, each angle of metal and wire, every spinning prop or color of the exhaust flame offers dreams of a newly found freedom.

There is freedom in the unlimited horizon, on the open fields, surrounded by beauty of earth and sky. Brushing treetops with birds, leaping valleys and rivers, exploring the cloud river canyons we gazed at as a child.  Adventure lays in each puff of the wind.

It’s wonderful to climb the liquid mountains of the sky.  No one can realize how substantial the air is, until its supporting breadth of power is felt beneath you.  The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious– the same
as the angels breathe.

Man must rise above the Earth– to the top of the atmosphere and beyond– to fully understand the world in which he lives.  A  tree isn’t really seen until you’ve gazed its shadow from the sky.  Sometimes, flying feels too godlike for mere mortals like us.  Sometimes, the world from above seems too beautiful, too wonderful, too distant for human eyes to see and grasp.

It is exhilarating to hang poised between the illusion of immortality and the fact of death.  Those who fly and dream know the unconscious, subtle desire to slip into precious wings and try again for those elusive boundaries of our origin. 

Don’t let that child disappear or you will be all grown up.  The dreams and imagination you once had will leave you, flying away like the sands of time and those ethereal clouds above.




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Nature Pooh


The Greatest Thing You’ll Ever Learn
Is Just to Love and be Loved in Return



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.

“Pooh?” he whispered.

“Yes, Piglet?”

“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand.  ”I just wanted to be sure of you.”

“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet.

“Even longer,” Pooh answered. 

 “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you,” Piglet said.

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember, Piglet.  You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. 

“But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart I’ll always be with you.”

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard,” Piglet replied.


* * * * * * * *

From Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. 

An unusual song for its time, Nature Boy by Nat King Cole went to the top of the charts and stayed there at #1 for eight weeks in 1948. 

Originally sat on for a year by Capitol Records and Cole– who thought the lyrics and tune were strange and risky for the post-WW II generation– the haunting recording was finally released as a B-side single to surprisingly worldwide acclaim.  Written by eden ahbez, the first homeless hippie who gave it all away and birthed the hippie movement (and insisted his name not be capitalized), Nature Boy was subsequently recorded by dozens of other famous artists.

Despite the richness of fame and royalties that could have followed, eden and his family could have cared less.  They continued camping outside and lecturing on street corners about the benefits of vegetarianism and Eastern philosophy.  Eden died in relative obscurity in 1995 from injuries sustained in a car accident.


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Beautiful Day in Paradise


Life is Long and Time is Short

(VIRAL VIDEOS: U2 and Coldplay)


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


A star falls from the sky and into your hands.

Then it seeps through your veins and swims inside your blood and becomes every part of you.

And then one day, far from now, you will have to put it back into the sky– and that will be the most painful thing you’ll ever have to do.

But for now, what’s yours is yours.  Whether it’s up in the sky or here in your hands, it’s real.

You’ve got this life and while you’ve got it, treat it well and gently.

Don’t think too much about making life better for those who don’t care.  Simply take what is good and make it better.  Make your life the best, for yourself and those who love you.

Kiss like you only have one moment.  Hold someone’s hand like you will never see them again.  Look into a person’s eyes like they’re the last person you’ll ever see; watch your children sleeping like there’s no time left.

Every rose loses its bloom.  When the time comes that we become that star again, a drop returning into the vast ocean, you will look at yourself and see you were suddenly more beautiful than you ever were before.


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


There is a Sucker (and Huckster) Born Every Minute



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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Ancient Infant’s DNA Unlocks Clues to Origins of First Americans


Genome Mapped of 12,600-Year-Old Clovis Culture Baby


–Child Found to be Direct Ancestor of an Entire Continent


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


Move over, Europeans.  A genetic study suggests present-day Native Americans are descended from some of the continent’s earliest settlers– and they’re not your ancestors.

The DNA of a baby boy who was buried in Montana 12,600 years ago has been recovered, and it provides new indications of the ancient roots of today’s American Indians and other native peoples of the Americas.

It’s the oldest genome ever recovered from the New World.  Artifacts found with the infant show the boy was part of the Clovis people, a widespread, sophisticated Ice Age culture in North America.  They appeared in America about 13,000 years ago and hunted mammoth, mastodon and bison.

The boy’s remains, uncovered at the Anzick Site in Montana in 1968, were associated with distinctive Clovis stone tools.  In fact, it is the only known skeleton directly linked to artifacts from this culture.

The DNA indicates the boy’s ancestors came from Asia, supporting the standard idea of ancient migration to the Americas by way of a land bridge that disappeared long ago.

The boy’s genome showed his people were direct ancestors of many of today’s native peoples in the Americas, researchers said.  He was more closely related to those in Central and South America than to those in Canada.  The reason for that difference isn’t clear, scientists said

The researchers found that around 80% of today’s Native Americans are related to the “clan” from which the boy came.  The researchers said they had no Native American DNA from the United States available for comparison, but that they assume the results would be same, with some Native Americans being direct descendants and others also closely related. 

The burial site, northeast of Livingston, Mont., is the only burial known from the Clovis culture.  The boy was between 1 year and 18 months old when he died of an unknown cause. 

He was buried with 125 artifacts, including spear points and elk antler tools.  Some were evidently ritual objects or heirlooms.  The artifacts and the skeleton were covered with powdered red ochre, a natural pigment, indicating a burial ceremony.

The skeleton was discovered in 1968 next to a rock cliff, but it’s only in recent years that scientists have been able to recover and analyze complete genomes from such ancient samples.

The DNA analysis was reported online yesterday in the journal Nature.  Some researchers have raised questions about the origins of early Americans, with one theory even proposing a link to Ice Age Europeans.  But the Nature study places the origins of these ancient people in Asia.

The burial site lies on the property of the parents of one of the study’s authors, Sarah Anzick.  It is known as the Anzick site.

Shane Doyle of Montana State University in Bozeman, another of the authors and a member of the Crow tribe, said the indication of such ancient roots for American Indians fits with what many tribal people already believed. He also said plans are underway to rebury the boy’s remains at the site after the winter.

The boy “was not a chief or a great hunter,” but his burial showed love and respect, Doyle said at the Montana Historical
Society in Helena on Wednesday.

Next will be a memorial at the site, he said, “Something small, so that the state of Montana, people around the world will know the importance of that place.”

In a telephone conference with reporters, the researchers said that once they discovered the link between the boy and today’s Native Americans, they sought out American Indian groups to discuss the results.  Co-author Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, an expert in deciphering ancient DNA, called for scientists to work closely with native peoples on such research.

On Wednesday, he noted there were Native American groups who said their oral history showed that they were descendants of the first people in the Americas.

“Well, they turned out to be right,” Willerslev said at the Montana museum, where artifacts from the site are on display.

The results are “going to raise a whole host of new ideas and hypotheses” about the early colonization of the Americas, said Dennis O’Rourke, an ancient DNA expert at the University of Utah.  The DNA casts doubt on theories that the Clovis were descended from Europeans or colonists from

The former theory relies, in part, on close similarities between Clovis tools and those of the Solutrean culture, which thrived in Ice Age France and Spain.

The latest results place the homeland for Native American peoples – including the Clovis – in Siberia.

Interestingly, however, the teams found that Native American ancestors coming in from Asia split into two groups.

One group was ancestral to native peoples presently living in Canada and the other one– which is represented by the Clovis boy– was ancestral to virtually all Native Americans in South America and Mexico.

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Via Google News/BBC/CBS

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Human Bowling– On Ice


Shaken, Not Stirred



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


Filmmaker Devin Graham is the man, making videos appealing to young, attractive people who like watching other
young, attractive people do some insane stuff.

The 30-year-old filmmaker and YouTube uber-darling, aka devinsupertramp , has almost 2 million subscribers to his channel, which is stuffed with jaw-dropping stunt videos we’ve covered like World’s Largest Rope Swing (22 million views) and Human Slingshot Slip and Slide (13 million views).

Graham humbly started out making unbranded videos capturing awesome sights and beautiful scenery, with fun loving folks and a detailed eye for visual cinematic precision on a tight bare bones budget.  In the early days he often slept in his car, couch surfed, and recharged his camera batteries at the 24-hour WalMart– while sleeping in the parking lot.  His following soared into the millions.

Honing his skills to a razors edge, big name marketers– including Mountain Dew and Ford– have come knocking on his door, looking to tap into the millennial audience that followed.  They also offered him a lot of swag;  cameras, travel accomodations, clothing, and other products that greased the wheels of Devin’s progress, passion, and obvious product placement along the way.

The latest, released on Monday, is for Bear Naked granola, which teamed up with Graham for a stunt on California’s Mammoth Mountain called human bowling:  people happily rolling down a snow covered hill inside a clear plastic Zorb ball into some giant red bowling pins while also happily munching on granola.  They call it Zorbing.

“We’d seen one Zorbing video on snow, but never anything with bowling,” said Graham.  ”We figured, let’s make it larger than life and see what happens.”

Graham doesn’t work with a script or storyboards.  ”It’s more documentary filmmaking,” he said.  “We create an awesome experience, we capture it, and then we make a story out of it.  We wanted to make sure it was super safe, because there’s always an element of danger,” said Graham.

He and four friends shot with Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 1D C cameras.  A remote-controlled helicopter got the overhead shots.  “If it feels like a straight-up commercial, no one shares it,” Graham said.  “If it feels like a fun video that people can relate to, it gets shared.”

He’s also learned not to make the videos too extreme. “You create a cool experience that’s larger than life but that people can still believe, ‘Hey, I could go out to the mountain and set up something like that with my friends.’  That’s what people share.”

Graham invited fans to the shoot via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  ”It wasn’t actors or people that were faking having fun.  It was people really having fun,” he said.  And yes, they really do laugh, dance, and party the night away.

His directions are generally simple.  ”It’s kind of like impromptu acting, where I’ll say, ‘All right, I want everyone to run over here and throw snowballs at the Zorb!’”  And voila!  Everyone runs over and throws snowballs at the Zorb, laughing and playing like young kids seeing fresh snow for the first time. 

The soundtrack is a driving dance tune by Con Bro Chill.  ”We always try to have happy, positive, uplifting songs that are family-friendly and can hit every audience out there,” said Graham.  The musical artists in his videos generally license the tracks in exchange for the revenue from iTunes sales.

Most brands want Graham to host the videos on his YouTube channel because of the huge audience he has.  Doing so also allows him a great deal of artistic license, control, and independence to present those projects as his own.

“It’s a win-win for both parties,” he said. 

And lots of swag along the way.  It sure beats working the 9-5 gig and sleeping in parking lots.


Below, Devin shows the behind-the-scenes effort it took filming his Human Bowling video.



Sourced from Devin Graham/YouTube/Ad Week
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Myths and Memories of Alcohol


Genie in the Funny Bottle



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



“Ho! Ho! Ho! To the bottle I go
To heal my heart and drown my woe
Rain may fall, and wind may blow
And many miles be still to go
But under a tall tree will I lie
And let the clouds go sailing by”

 ~J.R.R. Tolkien

“It’s a great advantage not to drink among hard drinking people.  First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”

~F. Scott Fitzgerald


“I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
after four I’m under my host.”

~Dorothy Parker, The Collected Dorothy Parker

“I always take Scotch whiskey at night as a preventive of toothache. I have never had the toothache; and what is more, I never intend to have it.”

~Mark Twain

“For the first twenty years of my life, I rocked
myself to sleep.  It was a harmless enough hobby, but eventually, I had to give it up.  Throughout the next twenty-two years I lay still and discovered that after a few minutes I could drop off with no problem.

Follow seven beers with a couple of scotches and a thimble of good marijuana, and it’s funny how sleep just sort of comes on its own.  Often I never even made it to the bed.  I’d squat down to pet the cat and wake up on the floor eight hours later, having lost
a perfectly good excuse to change my clothes.

I’m now told that this is not called “going to sleep” but rather “passing out,” a phrase that carries a distinct hint of judgment.”

~David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day


“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk.  That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

~Ernest Hemingway

“I went out with a guy who once told me I didn’t need to drink to make myself more fun to be around.  I told him, I’m drinking so that you’re more fun to be around.”

~Chelsea Handler, Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea

“Drinking is an emotional thing.  It joggles you out of the standardism of everyday life, out of everything being the same.  It yanks you out of your body and your mind and throws you against the wall.  

I have the feeling that drinking is a form of suicide where you’re allowed to return to life and begin all over the next day.  It’s like killing yourself, and then you’re reborn.  I guess I’ve lived about ten or fifteen thousand lives now.”

~Charles Bukowski


“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.  In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria.”

~Benjamin Franklin

“A lady came up to me one day and said ‘Sir! You are drunk’, to which I replied, ‘I am drunk today madam and tomorrow I shall be sober, but you will still be ugly.”

~Winston Churchill

“Fell in love with a beautiful blonde once.  Drove me to drink.  And I never had the decency to thank her.”

~W.C. Fields

“Alcohol ruined me financially and morally, broke my heart and the hearts of too many others.  Even though it did this to me and it almost killed me and I haven’t touched a drop of it in seventeen years, sometimes I wonder if I could get away with drinking some now.  I totally subscribe to the notion that alcoholism is a mental illness because thinking like that is clearly insane.”

~Craig Ferguson, American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot


“There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne.”

~Bette Davis

The problem with the designated driver program is, it’s not a desirable job.  But if you ever get sucked into doing it, have fun with it.  At the end of the night, drop them off at the wrong house.”

~Jeff Foxworthy


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A Match Made in Heaven


Nuns Give Elderly Pit Bull Nobody Wanted A Home



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.

~Cecil F. Alexander: Hymns for Little Children, 1848


They were on a mission looking for love.  They found it.

On Sunday, three nuns from Nyack, N.Y., walked into Hi Tor Animal Care Center with one intention:  to adopt a dog that no one else wanted.

When the women met Remy, a 9-year-old female pit bull who’d been at the shelter in Pomona, N.Y., since October, they knew she was the animal for them.

I wanted to bring a dog home that might get euthanized if we didn’t take her,” Sister Veronica Mendez told News 12.  

“And when I noticed the sign said ’9 years,’ I said, ‘Virginia,
we want this one, because nobody else is going to want her!’”

West Artope, executive director at Hi Tor, said that he was surprised that the nuns– all over 70 years old– weren’t deterred by the thought of owning a pit bull.

“Most people have a pretty bad understanding of pits,” Artope said.  ”But Remy was so sensitive to the sisters, especially to Sister Virginia, who walks with a cane.  She kept up with her and was so attentive.”

Remy, given a second chance at life, now lives happily with the nuns at Sisters of Our Lady of Christian Doctrine. 

Hi Tor volunteer Pauline Jarney and board member Roberta Bangs were so moved
by the nuns’ actions that they covered the bill so the sisters didn’t have to pay for her

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Travels and Tails in Humboldt


Our Nomadic Gypsy Trip to Humboldt in Pictures


By Gypsy Tails


Humboldt is a beautiful, beautiful place. 

We packed up the dogs and cats and loaded up the caravan and hung out awhile.  The pictures here are only
a little bit of what we saw.  Just a little flavor of the people 
and places making it real. 

Everybody was laid back and happy to give.  Super friendly and invited us in and around, showed us things, and had a lot of warmth and welcome and things to say.   We heard about the fog but it wasn’t all that bad by afternoon. 

It was an experience different from the other places we had been to.

Sequoia Park, first day in Eureka


Humboldt Folklife Society Saturday night barn dance: Irish square dancing


Oh, hullo… you got a currot?




Sand dollars for miles




Logger town


Ohhhh, Humboldt


Fish tacos and game night with co-workers and Koa the vicious box-cat


Arcata Farmer’s Market


My favorite house in the new neighborhood.


Transient kid from Mendocino outside the co-op.
 I didn’t have cash but he gladly pocketed a handful of cashews and candied ginger.


Crab traps, and then some more crab traps!


Lazy Saturday morning with coffee, snuggles, sunshine, and squirrel-watching.
Contentment all around :)


We love you Humboldt.  Thanks for having us.  We enjoyed all you gave and offered.

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The Real Tammany Hall Political Machine


The Forgotten Virtues of Corruption and Social Service, Intertwined


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


Terry Golway
The New York Times


Political machines clearly aren’t what they used to be.  

Last fall’s designation of the old Tammany Hall headquarters on Union Square as a city landmark is a reminder of just how powerful the nation’s most famous machine was, and why it remains a presence in political conversations.

Tammany Hall — shorthand for the faction that controlled Manhattan’s Democratic Party for most of a 150-year period — has a well-deserved place in the annals of urban misgovernment in the United States.  It stole elections, it intimidated political antagonists, and it shook down contractors and vendors.

It produced the very face of political corruption, William M. Tweed, known to friend and foe as “Boss.”  And it was, at best, indifferent to the grievances of African-Americans and later, Hispanics, in New York.

But there’s more to the story:  Tammany Hall’s leaders delivered social services at a time when City Hall and Albany did not.  They massaged justice at a time when the poor did not have access to public defenders.  And they found jobs for the unemployed when the alternative was hunger and illness.

Barbara Porges, a Tammany district leader years before women won the right to vote, prided herself on knowing the names and predicaments of peddlers who worked on Orchard Street in the heart of her district.  When one of them, an onion seller, contracted tuberculosis, Ms. Porges raised money to send him to a drier climate.  Nobody saw reason to ask how this was achieved.

For generations of immigrants and their children in Manhattan, the face of government was the face of the local Tammany ward heeler.  And it was a friendly face.  This was something entirely new for Russian Jews, Southern Italians and, to be sure, the Irish who dominated the machine.  Their experience with politics in the old country was not quite so amiable.

For Tammany, power rested on voter turnout.  And turnout was a function of relentless outreach and tireless service.

The legendary Tammany leader George Washington Plunkitt — the man who coined the phrase “honest graft” — met with constituents and lesser Tammany officials in his district several times a week to find out who was happy with Tammany’s services and who required some special attention.

Plunkitt was a leader of Tammany Hall and was, by the standards of our times and his, undeniably corrupt.  As his Boswell, newspaperman William Riordon, noted:


“In 1870 through a strange combination of circumstances, he held the places of Assemblyman, Alderman, Police Magistrate and County Supervisor and drew three salaries at once — a record unexampled in New York politics.

Facing three bidders at a city auction of 250,000 paving stones, he offered each 10,000 to 20,000 stones free and having thus dispensed with competition bought the whole lot for $2.50.”


Plunkitt was not only corrupt but a hardworking, perceptive and appealing politician who took care of his constituents, qualities one rarely find in any plurality of combinations in politics these days.

Politics, Plunkitt said, “is as much a regular business as the grocery or the dry-goods or the drug business” and it was based on studying human nature.  He claimed to know every person in his district, their likes and their dislikes:


I reach them by approachin’ at the right side . . . For instance, here’s how I gather in the young men.  I hear of a young feller that’s proud of his voice, thinks that he can sing fine.  I ask him to come around to Washington Hall and join our Glee Club.  He comes and sings, and he’s a follower of Plunkitt for life.

Another young feller gains a reputation as a baseball player in a vacant lot.  I bring him into our baseball club.  That fixes him.  You’ll find him workin’ for my ticket at the polls next election day. . .

I rope them all in by givin’ them opportunities to show themselves off.  I don’t trouble them with political arguments.  I just study human nature and act accordin’.”


Plunkitt also believed in sticking with his friends: “The politicians who make a lastin’ success in politics are the men who are always loyal to their friends, even up to the gate of State prison, if necessary.  Even if it’s only one man. . . you get his cousin, and his cousin and so on, until you have your own organization.”

His prescription for becoming a statesman was to go out and get supporters.  Nothing so dramatically illustrates this than a typical day for Plunkitt, as recorded by newspaperman Riordon:


Plunkitt was aroused a two a.m. to bail out a saloonkeeper who had been arrested for tax law violations.  At six he was again awakened, this time by fire engines.  Tammany leaders were expected to show up at fires to give aid and comfort.

“At 8:30 am he was getting six drunk constituents released.  At nine he was in court on another case.  
At eleven, upon returning home, he found four voters seeking assistance.  At three he went to the funeral of an Italian, followed by one for a Jew.

“At seven p.m. he had a district captains’ meeting.  At eight he went to a church fair.  At nine he was back at the party clubhouse listening to the complaints of a dozen pushcart peddlers.  At 10:30 he went to a Jewish wedding, having “previously sent a handsome wedding present to the bride.”

He finally got to bed at midnight.”


It was a principle that worked well for Tammany Hall, which at its height early this century had 32,000 committeemen and was forced to use Madison Square Garden for its meetings.

Another notable Tammany district leader who worked his way up from poverty, Jeremiah T. Mahoney, once insisted that he and other Tammany colleagues never forgot the dire circumstances of their impoverished childhoods amid the splendor of late 19th-century Manhattan.

Those memories, he argued, led Tammany to support progressive reforms like workers’ compensation, the beginning of minimum-wage laws, the federal income tax, public pensions for widows and children, greater government regulation of the workplace and private property, and other laws that helped set the stage for the New Deal in the 1930s.  The Tammany machine’s two greatest advocates for social reform were Mahoney’s law partner, Senator Robert F. Wagner, and the four-time governor Alfred E. Smith.

At the same time, Tammany resisted the reform movement’s impulse to impose an evangelical Anglo-Protestant morality on the Catholics and Jews who made up the bulk of New York’s poor.  Many private charities in the early 20th century were obsessed with dividing the poor into those considered worthy of help and those whose personal lives disqualified them for assistance.

Tammany figures, many of them descended from survivors of the potato famine in the mid-19th century, made no attempt to investigate the claims of those who sought their help.  One of the machine’s legendary scoundrels, “Big Tim” Sullivan, explained how he approached those who sought a free meal in his clubhouse: “I never ask a hungry man about his past.  I feed him not because he is good, but because he needs food.”

Yes, many Tammany figures, including Sullivan, were corrupt.  But it’s hard not to detect more than a little bigotry in the rhetoric of the machine’s foes.  

Andrew D. White, president of Cornell University and one of the late 19th century’s most-celebrated reformers, once complained that under Tammany and its imitators, a “crowd of illiterate peasants, freshly raked from Irish bogs, or Bohemian mines, or Italian robber nests,” exercised “virtual control” over New York and other cities packed with immigrants.

Indeed they did, thanks to Tammany’s embrace of an early form of multiculturalism.  Tammany’s Irish leaders were quick to incorporate Jews into their clubhouses (Herbert Lehman, the first Jew elected governor of New York, was vice chairman of Tammany’s finance committee in the mid-1920s), and while it was hardly ahead of its times on race relations, it encouraged black participation at a time when fellow Democrats in the South suppressed voting rights.

Tammany Hall certainly was guilty of many of the offenses arraigned against it.  But those flaws should not overshadow Tammany’s undoubted virtues.  

Tammany Hall was founded in 1854; its golden age lasted until the three-term LaGuardia administration began in 1934.  For only ten intervening years was Tammany out of office.  We got rid of people like Plunkitt and machines like Tammany because we came to believe in something called good government.

But in throwing out the machines we also tossed out a philosophy and an art of politics.

The machine succeeded not simply because it could round up votes.  It succeeded because it was unafraid of the grunt work of retail politics and because it rarely lost touch with its voters.


Terry Golway is the author of the forthcoming book “Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics.”

* * * * * * * * *

(Via Undernews)

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Sara Bareilles: Brave


Hometown Girl Gone Good



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel



“I’m of the mindset that nothing lasts forever and I’m stoked that things have gone as well as they have this far.  If it all ended tomorrow, it’d be OK. I would still play music and still love what I do.  

“You know, I think it’s kind of a kick in the pants that this has happened at all.”


It’s been a fast road to the top.

On Jan. 26, Sara Bareilles will be returning to California to attend the 56th Annual Grammy Awards.  She was nominated for the Album of the Year award for her 2013 album, “The Blessed Unrest.” 

She will also be performing at the ceremony.

Her sound has been described as everything from Norah Jones to Joni Mitchell, Fiona Apple to Alicia Keyes.  While it’s tempting to make comparisons, she’s more an individual finding her way through the musical styles and industry as she gracefully ages.

Influenced by soul, jazz, rock, and pop genres, her writing is bold, honest, and edgy.  Intelligent, unpredictable lyrics and melodies delivered courtesy of a truly soulful and powerful voice, Sara’s music is something setting her apart from the crowd.

Despite her seemingly sudden fame and fortune, Sara still hasn’t forgotten her roots here in Humboldt.


Growing Up Behind The Redwood Curtain

A native of Humboldt County, Sara Bareilles grew up in the city of Eureka.  She spent much of her early life in a rural setting, living in a home situated on several acres of redwood forest country where she sang to herself and learned to ride horses.

Spending those early years surrounded by dense woods helped her develop a “delightfully overactive imagination,” according to her estimation.

“Marijuana seems to be the only thing anybody knows about Humboldt County,” Bareilles said.  ”You tell them you’re from Humboldt County and everybody automatically assumes that either you grow weed or you have it with you.  It’s funny because my family is actually pretty conservative.  But I had friends whose parents were growing in the backyard!

“What I know it for is it’s a real artistic community up there,” she said fondly.  “It’s a very small town, very rural– but gorgeous.  It is so beautiful up there.  It’s basically nestled in amongst all these millions of acres of redwood trees and it’s just beautiful.  It’s right on the ocean.  It’s not very far from rivers and lakes.  It was a wonderful place to grow up.”

Following high school, Bareilles moved down to Los Angeles to study communications at UCLA.  In addition to her academic studies, she joined a singing group known as Awaken A Cappella, who would go on to record her track “Gravity.”

Growing up, Sara got into Broadway music and musical theater — as well as the Mickey Mouse Club, VH1 “Storytellers” and whatever else was on the radio. 

Bareilles has been writing songs or as long as she can remember, and much of her adolescence was spent perched in front of a worn piano teaching herself chords and scribbling out simple melodies and lyrics in Humboldt.  She honed her vocal skills singing in high school choirs, and also appeared in local community theater musical productions.  Surprisingly enough, she has had no formal training in either voice or piano.

Sara’s father, Paul Bareilles, is an insurance adjuster and a logger; mother Bonnie Halvorsen works at a funeral home.  Sara has two sisters — Jenny and Stacey.



Bareilles said the message behind the song “Brave” was inspired by a friend who was dealing with personal struggles.  Since its release in April, the song has become an anthem for people who are facing a difficult period in life, whether it be coming out to friends and family or battling cancer.

”It’s a love letter to a friend of mine who was struggling with her life and who was trying to speak what was true to her,” Bareilles said.  

“I’m so glad people are finding a connection with it.  I feel like the song is taking on a life of its own.”

Sharing her private feelings through her songs isn’t really all that scary, she said, but it was difficult at first.  “I get nervous or shy about sharing my ideas,” she said.  “Turns out, having the right people in the room can make a huge difference.”

“It’s kind of the only place where it feels really natural and normal to bear your soul — at least for me,” Bareilles said.  ”So I look forward to it. It’s a nice place to speak your mind and your heart and not feel like you’re gonna be judged for it, although you do get judged for it.  But for some reason, it doesn’t feel as bad.”

“I think if anything would have happened to me at a younger age, I would have had a mental breakdown,” she said.


Developing An Inner Voice

“I definitely feel like it’s very beneficial to know who you are and know what you want before things start moving for you.  Or at least, in my experience, I’m grateful it happened that way.

 ”I think it’s very easy to lose yourself in this industry and there’s so much self-doubt that can come along.  So if you’re a little bit older and you have some more years and experience under your belt, I think it’s easier to stay true to who you are.

“My songs are about your conscience and your inner voice and just being really connected to yourself and how to move forward and really speak your mind,” she said.

“I felt like as the process was getting started, I was feeling really lost and I didn’t know what my own opinion was.  I didn’t know how to communicate.  And then I started to really focus it on the idea of my own little voice, the fact that I had the answers inside me;  I just had to be able to hear them.  So it became a really special idea to me and something that was very intrinsic to the whole process.”


Humboldt County Home

Though she now lives in New York City, Bareilles said Humboldt still holds a place in her songwriting.

”I actually attribute a lot of my musical mind to the nature up there,” Bareilles told Will Houston of the Times-Standard news.  “As a kid, I ended up spending a lot of time alone in the forest and fields, making up stories and playing with my cousins.  It was a very imaginative and creative foundation, being among the redwood trees and being so far removed.”

Bareilles said that her parents– who still reside in Humboldt– “gifted me with everything.”

”They made me feel that whatever I wanted was possible and that they would love me unconditionally,” Bareilles said.  “It wasn’t about success.  It was about following my heart.”

“I’m so proud to be from Humboldt County and to be a small town girl,” Bareilles said. “When I come home, I’ve always felt so embraced.  It’s an embrace I take with me every time I leave.”

“I still go back to that place in my mind, standing on a tree stump in the backyard, overlooking the fields and singing to nobody,” Bareilles said of growing up here.  

“In small places, you can dream really big dreams.”

* * * * * * * *

Good luck, Sara.  We wish you the best at the Grammys.  We’re pleased that, as a hometown girl, you’ve remained refreshing normal and good and wonderful throughout– and still remember and cherish your Humboldt homegrown roots.

You can catch her interview with the Times-Standard’s Will Houston here.


Posted in Media, Scene0 Comments

Learning to Fly– Underwater


Hawkes Ocean Technologies “Flying” Submarine



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


Behind closed doors at a workshop near the quiet waters
of Brickyard Cove in San Francisco’s Point Richmond is one
of the most exotic vessels in the world– a “flying” submarine.

It looks a bit like a fish with stubby wings, can swim with the sharks and dive like a whale, and one just like it can be yours, custom-built for a mere $1.7 million.

“It is like an airplane with wings upside down,” said Graham Hawkes, founder and chief technical officer of Hawkes Ocean Technologies.  “It is like flying in the air, but we are flying underwater.”

Using wings the way fish use fins, his submersible, called the DeepFlight Super Falcon, can do barrel rolls underwater, dive straight down, or make sharp turns.

The DeepFlight submersible, which can carry two people seated under Plexiglas domes, is 21 feet long with a wingspan of 9 feet.  It weighs 4,00o pounds.

Hawkes, a British-trained engineer, likes to talk about underwater cruises in the Super Falcon in Lake Tahoe, or places like the Gulf of Aqaba in the Middle East.  And there was the time he and a client were moving along the Pacific Coast of Mexico and swam, as it were, alongside a great white shark that he thinks was 20 feet long.  The shark came very close and gave the sub a hard glance, he said.

“I was staring into the cold eye of this … this … animal,” Hawkes said.  “It was awe inspiring.”

It was also an adventure, and that is the market for the DeepFlight Super Falcon.  His companion that day was Richard Branson, the airline billionaire.  “It was the first time a mini-sub ever had a chance to fly with a great white,” Branson wrote in a blog.  “What a privilege it was.”

Hawkes, Branson wrote, was “a genius.”

At 66, Hawkes has 45 years’ experience in underwater engineering.  Among other things, he has developed diving suits and deep diving submarines.  In 1985, Hawkes set the solo depth record– 3,000 feet under the surface– aboard a submarine of his design called Deep Rover.


Inventor, Adventurer

Hawkes is famous in the undersea world. 

He is an inventor, designer and adventurer in one package.  The BBC called him “an underwater maverick.”

He does not look the part. 

Hawkes is of medium size, wears round glasses that make him look a bit like an owl, and speaks so softly he often has to repeat himself.

But his goals are clear:  He plans to sell his submersibles to clients like Branson and others in his financial class, people interested in what Karen Hawkes, his wife and the company vice president for marketing, calls “private exploration and adventure.”

It is an endeavor that only the very wealthy can afford – “people with who have mega yachts,” Graham Hawkes said.

It is the ultimate niche market.  Hawkes believes there are about 7,000 supersize luxury yachts on the oceans of the world.  What he wants to provide to their owners is the opportunity to own an onboard private submersible to offer guests the chance to explore what he calls “the ocean planet.”

“This is the very beginning of the era of private ocean exploring,” he said.

At the very least, one could ride aboard a flying sub and swim with the dolphins, or look down from the twilight zone of filtered sunlight into what deep sea divers call “the darkness below.”


Training Sessions

Hawkes Ocean Technologies offers a training course with each purchase.  At the very minimum, it takes three days to learn how to operate a Super Falcon.

So far, his customers include Branson and Tom Perkins, the Bay Area venture capitalist. 

On a trailer at the Point Richmond workshop is a new Super Falcon being built for Dietrich Mateschitz, the Austrian entrepreneur who made a mint from Red Bull, the energy drink.

“He called last Christmas and placed an order later last year,” Karen Hawkes said.

The new boat, which takes about nine months to build, has a pressure hull built of carbon fiber, is powered by lithium batteries, mounted aft.  There is a single propeller.  The craft will be delivered in April.

About 500 feet deep is the limit of underwater flight, but Graham Hawkes says it can go to 1,000 feet down.  The crush depth– or absolute limit — is 2,500 feet, he said.

“It looks like a James Bond wild machine,” said Karen Hawkes, “but it is positively buoyant, so it’s really safe.”

In fact, Graham Hawkes built a submersible that was used in the 1981 James Bond film “For
Your Eyes Only.” 

Hawkes piloted the vessel himself.



(Via Google News, Hawkes Ocean Technologies, GoPro, KQED and YouTube) 

Please share this post and others with those you know.  Thanks.

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There’s A Hippo In My Bed!


Jessica, the World-Famous Pet Hippopotamus



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

Devil-Worshippers Unveil Statue Design for Oklahoma


Oklahoma Legislators:  Not OK in our State



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


A satanic group unveiled designs Monday for a 7-foot-tall statue of Satan it wants to put at the Oklahoma state Capitol,
where a Ten Commandments monument was placed in 2012.

The New York-based Satanic Temple formally submitted its application to a panel that oversees the Capitol grounds, including an artist’s rendering that depicts Satan as Baphomet, a goat-headed figure with horns, wings and a long beard that’s often used as a symbol of the occult.  

In the design rendering, Satan is sitting in a pentagram-adorned throne with smiling children next to him.  The monument would also include quotes from Lord Byron and William Blake, the Deseret News reported.

“The monument has been designed to reflect the views of Satanists in Oklahoma City and beyond,” temple spokesman Lucien Greaves said in a statement.  “The statue will serve as a beacon calling for compassion and empathy among all living creatures.”

“The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation,” Greaves said.

The Satanic Temple maintains that the Oklahoma Legislature’s decision to authorize a privately funded Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol opened the door for its statue.  

The Ten Commandments monument was placed on the north steps of the building in 2012, and the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has sued to have it removed.

Similar requests for monuments have been made by a Hindu leader in Nevada, the animal rights group PETA, and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The Oklahoma ACLU warned lawmakers before the 10 Commandments went up that by allowing one religious group to have its say at that location, others would follow, according to Reuters.

“We opposed this because it shouldn’t be the business of the state government to make decisions on how appropriate people’s religions are,” Brady Henderson, legal analyst for the Oklahoma ACLU, said to Reuters.

But lawmakers are calling the request by the Satanists “a joke” and they plan to block requests for competing monuments, according to the Tulsa World.

In response, the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission recently placed a moratorium on considering any new requests.

 “Anybody can still make their request, but we’ll hold off on considering them until the lawsuit is adjudicated,” commission Chairman Trait Thompson said.

The push by the Satanic Temple has rankled elected leaders in this conservative state known as the buckle of the Bible Belt, who say such a proposal would never be approved by the commission.

“I think you’ve got to remember where you are.  This is Oklahoma, the middle of the heartland,” said Rep. Don Armes, R-Faxon.  “I think we need to be tolerant of people who think different than us, but this is Oklahoma, and that’s not going to fly here.”

While Greaves acknowledges the Satanic Temple’s effort is in part to highlight what it says is hypocrisy of state leaders in Oklahoma, he says the group is serious about having a monument placed there.

The group already has raised nearly half of the $20,000 it says it needs to build the monument.

“We plan on moving forward one way or another,” Greaves said.

Another Oklahoma legislator, Rep. Earl Sears, called the group’s effort “an insult to the good people of the state.”

“I do not see Satanism as a religion, and they have no place at the state Capitol,” said Sears, R-Bartlesville.  “This is a faith-based nation and a faith-based state.  I think it is very offensive they would contemplate or even have this kind of conversation.”

“It is not going to get approved here without a court battle,” added Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove. “I can assure you.”

On its website, the Satanic Temple claims that it “seeks to separate Religion from Superstition by acknowledging religious belief as a metaphorical framework with which we construct a narrative context for our goals and works.”

“Satan stands as the ultimate icon for the selfless revolt against tyranny, free & rational inquiry, and the responsible pursuit of happiness,” the website says.

* * * * * * * *

Sure it does.  And we have an ocean bridge to sell you.  In Oklahoma.
We’ll hang with the Ten Commandments– if politicians would only follow it.

Posted in Scene2 Comments

Sunday’s Hot Pancake Breakfast: Freshwater Grange


Hearty Pancakes and Eggs and Maple Syrup For Your Sunday Morning:

January 5th, 8-11 am



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

The Freshwater Grange Friends and Volunteers are hosting their fresh hot pancakes and real scrambled egg breakfast– with all the fixin’s– this Sunday.
There’s breakfast, conversation and all the fine local flavor served up fresh.  We welcome, delight, and would love to have you come enjoy it with us in the beautiful Freshwater Valley.
The menu features delicious buttermilk and whole grain pancakes, plus ham, sausages, scrambled eggs, orange juice, tea, and bottomless French Roast coffee. 
Hungry?  Come back for more.  It’s all included. 
James cracks all the eggs fresh in the morning and our pixie pancake makers– Sue and Shirley– are mixing the batter to the right proportions for the griddle.  Patrick and Laura, the dynamic duo, are stirring the eggs and fixing up the sausage and ham.  Wanda and Mary will be sure your coffee is brewed hot and fresh for your cup.
The aroma of fresh pancakes and sausage– just like you remember at home during the holidays– is happening all morning and it comes together like magic
with everyone’s help. 
Well, most of the time it does.
What’s best is the rock bottom price:  $5 for adults, and
only $3 for the kids. 
Heck, for that kind of convenient deal you can bring the whole family.  Why not?  Mom, Dad, the kids, Nana and Grandpa, and all the neighbors and Aunts and Uncles you can squeeze into the family SUV. 
You can’t do that at home and everyone may not be able to squeeze back into that SUV for the ride back home, but, hey, at least Mom doesn’t have to wash all those maple syrupy dishes afterwards.  She has better things to do.  Keep her in a good mood.  Otherwise she may make brussel sprouts for dinner.
So stay awhile.  Linger.  Relax.  Enjoy it.  Why not?  No mess, no fuss, no worries.  Mom deserves it and so do you.  And no one deserves brussel sprouts.
Afterwards, take a walk afterwards thru Freshwater and out to the County park if you like (admission is free if you walk in).  It will be a warm (well, sort of) sunny day in downtown Freshwater and you and the family will be feeling fine and good and all smiley-smiles after a healthy and filling breakfast, a cup of joe or two or maybe three, some fine conversation, and the enjoyment of a pleasant sunny Sunday in Humboldt.
And the money all goes to a good cause:  fixing up and restoring the old Freshwater Grange.  That’s why the volunteers are all there serving you up right, just like you deserve. 
So far, you’ve helped put on a new roof, repair the drainage and walkway, install a new heater, and otherwise help spiff up the historical place.  It is over a 100 years old after all, and every little bit helps.  It needs our community help and care.
We hope to see you there– and hope to fill your plate with some good down-home Wrangletown lumberjack cooking!
When: First Sunday of every month, 8-11 a.m.
Phone: 442-7107
Price: $5 adults; $3 kids
The PlaceFreshwater Grange,  49 Grange Road
…Just follow the signs:  up Freshwater Road, about 2.2 miles east of 3 Corners market and then turn right past the Garfield Little
Red Schoolhouse. 
You can’t miss it.  If you do miss it, just ask anyone happening to be standing nearby.  They’re all friendly, they’re all on Aloha Time, they have no worries, and you may be the highlight of their otherwise slow and bucolic day.

Posted in Local, Scene0 Comments

Safeway Throws 6,000 Workers Under The Bus


Employee Video Parody Highlights Safeway’s Skewering of Workers



Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


By Robert Oak
The Economic Populist


In case you hadn’t heard, Safeway closed a whopping 72 Dominick’s grocery stores resulting in 6,000 jobs lost last week.  

They acquired the Dominck’s grocery chain and promptly shuttered the Illinois neighborhood grocery.  The excuse they gave is Dominick’s grocery stores serve low profit margin geographical locations.  

In other words, Safeway doesn’t want to offer grocery access to poor people. Of course, a hedge fund is involved and executives made huge bucks from the introduction of another predatory hedge fund into the Safeway shareholder mix– while workers got pink slips right at Christmas.

Dominick’s was founded by one man, an immigrant named Dominick DiMatteo, whose son helped him build the grocery chain.  But unraveling the question of who was responsible for the demise of Chicago’s second-largest supermarket company isn’t quite so straightforward.

The trail leads to Northern California, where Dominick’s owner, Safeway, is headquartered. And from there it goes to New York.  This year, a Wall Street hedge fund called Jana Partners invested more than $300 million in Safeway stock and demanded that the company make changes, notably that it exit “subscale and lower margin geographies.”  That demand was made public Sept. 17.

About three weeks later, on Oct. 10, Safeway announced that its struggling chain of more than 70 Dominick’s stores would be shuttered Dec. 28.

The decision meant as many as 6,000 employees could lose their jobs right after Christmas and that customers who shopped at Dominick’s stores throughout the Chicago region would need to find other places to buy groceries.

In the meantime, Jana Partners scored millions in profits on its Safeway investment.

In response, workers made an outrageously creative video thanking Safeway for their unbridled greed and disregard for Dominick’s workers.  

The video creator was suspended from his job on the day he would be fired anyway.  Yes, they disciplined the poor worker bee as Safeway was shuttering the store.  The video he created is amazingly well done and just freakin’ funny!  

Great job, grocery bag boy no-longer!  What we also have here is yet another fine example of the race to be underemployed in America.

It is just incredible Safeway would fire someone with that level of creativity and initiative.  But, well, that’s corporate America for you.  Large corporations want drones, slave marchers, and nary an original thought shall be issued.  Exercising individual freedom of expression will be punished as one of the commandments of corporate policy.  Of course, some executive surely received a multimillion dollar bonus at the checkout for slashing labor to pieces.

Folks, here’s a thought:  let’s all not shop at Safeway chains in response to this absurdity. 

Safeway chains are Vons, Tom Thumb, Pak’n Save, Pavilions, Randalls and Carrs-Safeway.  The reality is Safeway ran Dominick’s into the ground in the first place.  They replaced affordable quality foods for everyday folks with their higher-profit margin and lower quality ones, ruining the name.

The above video is most apropos.  How many other workers have been fired for speaking out?  The list is long and workers generally are at risk for almost anything deemed to be an offense. 

Hostess shuttered the plant to get rid of worker pensions and unions, only to have Hostess return with non-union, low paid workers.  Domino’s workers were fired for protesting low wages.  An entire sandwich shop staff was fired for participating in wage protests.  Walmart workers were fired last year for their low wage and working conditions Black Friday protest.  In Texas, a study showed 21% of workers were fired after being injured on the job.

The attack on labor in this country is epidemic.  The reason the Thanks Safeway video is so funny is its ring of truth.  Corporations come in on a whim and fire people like the Star Wars evil empire Death Star ray.  Wall Street rewards these behemoths for such actions by raising their stock price.  The only time wages are even mentioned on Wall Street is when consumer spending and retail sales do not give them the increases they are looking for. 

The consequences to real people and their economic well being isn’t even a consideration anymore.

Thanks, Safeway.


Meanwhile, other profit-minded investors think food prices– and American farmland producing crops- are undervalued.  They believe more profit can be derived by simply squeezing consumers to fork out more for food.  After all, you and your family have to eat. 

Wait until the hedge funds execs get a load of this one.  What’s in your wallet?

* * * * * * * *

Please link and share this post with others you know.  Thanks.

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Recreational Pot Industry Legally Opens for Business in Colorado


Rocky Mountain High


Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel


DENVER, Co.– They lined up before dawn and in the snow on Wednesday, baby boomers from Nebraska, retirees from Denver and a young man who had driven all
day from Ohio.

They were among the hundreds of tourists and residents across Colorado who eagerly took part in the country’s first-ever sales of state-regulated recreational marijuana.  They walked into 40 shops, from downtown Denver to snowy ski resorts, flashed their identifications and, in a single transaction, took part in what supporters hailed as a historic departure from drug laws focused on punishment and prohibition.

“It makes you giddy to say it: I went into a store and bought pot,” Linda Walmsley said as she walked out of the Denver Kush Club, where a line of shivering customers stretched down the block.

While about 20 states allow medical marijuana, voters in Colorado and Washington State decided last year to go one step further, becoming the first in the nation to legalize small amounts of the plant for recreational use and regulate it like alcohol.  

Colorado began promptly on New Year’s Day.

To supporters, it was a watershed moment in the country’s tangled relationship with the drug.  They said it was akin to the end of Prohibition, albeit with joints being passed instead of champagne being uncorked.

To skeptics, it represented a grand folly that they predicted would tarnish the image of a state whose official song is John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” and lead to higher teenage drug use and more impaired driving.  

The governor and the Denver mayor both opposed legalization and stayed away from the celebrations and inaugural sales on Wednesday.

Regulators said Colorado’s first sales — on a day called Green Wednesday by enthusiasts– went smoothly. Security guards were stationed outside dispensaries, and police officers and state officials watched closely.

Skeptical federal authorities are also paying attention.  Although marijuana remains illegal under federal law, the Justice Department has given tentative approval for Colorado and Washington to move ahead with regulating marijuana.  But it warned that federal officials could intervene if the state regulations failed to keep the drug away from children, drug cartels or federal property, and out of other states.

On Wednesday, Colorado had eight investigators out checking retailers’ licenses, inspecting packaging and labeling, and ensuring that stores reviewed customers’ identification to see if they were 21 or older, said Ron Kammerzell, the director of enforcement for Colorado’s Department of Revenue.

“So far, so good,” he said.

Ever since voters in Colorado and Washington approved recreational marijuana last year, the states have been racing to
devise rules on how to grow it, sell it, tax it and track it.

In both Colorado and Washington, recreational marijuana has been legal for more than a year.  Adults can smoke it in their living rooms and eat marijuana-laced cookies without fear of arrest.  In Colorado, they are even allowed to grow up to six plants at home.  But until Wednesday, marijuana dispensaries could sell only to customers with a doctor’s recommendation and a state-issued medical marijuana card.

Many people who lined up on Wednesday said they did not have medical cards, and had relied on drug dealers or friends with medical marijuana to satisfy their cravings.  They were paying high prices for new recreational marijuana — $50 to $60 for an eighth of an ounce, nearly double the price of medical marijuana — but said it was worthwhile to avoid the risk.

“People don’t like breaking the law,” said Andy Williams, who runs the Medicine Man dispensary in an industrial park in Denver.  “The burden has been taken off them.”

Now, any Colorado resident who is at least 21 can buy up to an ounce of marijuana at one of the dispensaries that began selling to retail customers on Wednesday.  Out-of-state visitors can buy a quarter-ounce, but they have to consume it here.  

Carrying marijuana across state lines remains illegal, and the plant is not allowed at Denver International Airport.

On Wednesday, some tourists puzzled over where they would consume their purchases.  It is illegal to smoke marijuana in public, in public parks or in campgrounds, and it is against the rules at many hotels. One group from Nebraska said it would find a parking lot and roll up the car windows.  Others said they would return to their hotels and crack the windows.  Some bought marijuana-laced baked goods to avoid the problem altogether.

Kirstin Knouse, 24, flew here from Chicago with her husband, Tristan, to take her first marijuana vacation, and she said the couple would smoke their marijuana at the home of a cousin.  She said that she suffered from seizures and fibromyalgia, and her husband from post-traumatic stress, but that they had not been able to get medical marijuana at home.  When Colorado opened sales to out-of-state residents, she said they leapt at the chance.

“This is our dream,” Ms. Knouse said.  “We’re thinking about moving here because of it.”

Washington’s marijuana system is at least several months behind Colorado’s, meaning that fully stocked retail shelves probably will not be a reality for consumers until perhaps June.

While Colorado has incorporated the existing medical marijuana system, Washington is starting from scratch, with all production and sale of legal recreational marijuana linked to a new system of licenses, which will not
be issued until late February or early March.

“After that, it is up to the industry to get it up and running,” said Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesman for the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which regulates the system and is reviewing almost 5,000 license applications to grow, process or sell marijuana.

Growers can start a crop only after they get a license, Mr. Carpenter said, and retailers can sell only marijuana produced in the state by licensed growers.

What happens next in both states will be watched closely by Arizona, Alaska, California, Oregon and other states flirting with the idea of liberalizing their marijuana laws.  Questions still abound.  Will drug traffickers take marijuana across state lines, to sell elsewhere?  Will recreational marijuana flow from the hands of legal adult consumers to teenagers?  Will taxes from marijuana sales match optimistic predictions of a windfall for state budgets?  What will happen to the black market for marijuana?

But on Wednesday, enthusiasts like Darren Austin, 44, and his son, Tyler, 21, just embraced the moment.  They arrived a few months ago from Georgia and North Carolina, respectively, and decided to stay.  

The father said marijuana eased his anxiety and helped him quit drinking, and the son said he simply liked smoking it with friends.  On Wednesday, they slept in their truck outside a dispensary, to ensure their place in line.

“We wanted to be here,” Darren Austin said. “It’s historic.”

(By Kirk Johnsen via Google News)

* * * * * * * * *

Bob Dylan was right.  The times they are a changin’. 



Posted in National, Scene0 Comments

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  • First anti-fracking trial wins $3 million payment to dmaged family
    Nation of Change - It took three years, but a Texas family finally emerged victorious in a case that could long impact fracking companies and the impact they have on the communities in which they operate.A Dallas jury favored the Parr family, which sued Aruba Petroleum back in 2011 after experiencing an array of health issues attorneys argued were the result […]
  • Gallery
    Chicago rush hour, 1909 […]
  • Did ducks drive legislator out of office?
    TPM - New Hampshire state Rep. David Campbell (D) says his decision to not seek re-election has nothing to do with those ducks.The 56-year-old Democrat starred in some unfortunate headlines late last year, after he admitted that he had run over a group of ducks outside a hotel in Nashua, N.H. According to WMUR, Campbell now says he won't seek re-electio […]
  • Louisiana compiling database on every citizen to identify those at "risk to the state"
    Global Research - Authorities in Louisiana are compiling a database of information on every citizen in order to identify people who are “a risk to the state,” as well as pinpointing future criminals in an effort to allow the state to “intervene in that person’s life”.The Comprehensive Person Profile, developed by software company SAS, uses information from e […]
  • Huge iceberg breaks off in Antarctic
    Boing Boing - One of the largest icebergs on the planet, about six times the size of Manhattan, has separated from an Antarctic glacier and is floating out towards open ocean. The iceberg is named B-31, and is roughly 255 square miles. Its estimated maximum thickness is 1,600 feet. Last fall it broke off from the Pine Island Glacier. Researchers have been wa […]
  • Bill Clinton punished students for enjoying pot like he did
    National Journal - It didn't make it into the flurry of news coverage, but when the latest batch of internal documents was released from the Clinton White House, a particularly curious line of poll questioning stood out.In 1998, the Clinton administration poll tested the idea of making college students pee in cups to prove they're not on drugs in o […]
  • PLO and Hamas end dispute, leaving Israel mad
    Common Dreams - The Palestine Liberation Organization and the leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip announced an end to their seven-year political dispute, saying that the two main factions of the Palestinian people have signed a "historic" pact to re-unify the Palestinian governments in both the West Bank and Gaza within weeks and plans for new el […]
  • Republicans like war but not veterans
    Forty one GOP senators voted against a bill to improve the provision of medical services and benefits to veterans […]
  • FCC on verge of ending Internet fairness
    Institute for Public Accuracy -  The Wall Street Journal is reporting: "Regulators are proposing new rules on Internet traffic that would allow broadband providers to charge companies a premium for access to their fastest lanes."National Hispanic Media Coalition  - NHMC has long-opposed paid Internet fastlanes because they would be out of reach for […]
  • Booklyn DA wants to stop prosecuting low level marijuana cases
    Gawker - The Brooklyn district attorney's office will stop prosecuting low-level marijuana arrests, according to a confidential memo obtained by the New York Times.The district attorney, Kenneth P. Thompson sent the policy proposal to the New York Police Department earlier this month.The memo states that charges against anyone arrested with a small amou […]
  • Today in history
    1908 -- US: Mr & Mrs Jacob Murdock become the first to travel across the country by car; they leave LA in a Packard and arrive in NYC in 32 days, 5 hours, 25 minutes.  1970 -- Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane is invited to a White House party by Tricia Nixon, daughter of the President. Slick shows up with "escort," Abbie Hoffman. He is on tria […]
  • Pocket paradigms
    The untold truth is that the post-WW2 American military hasn't that much to be proud of. It fought to a draw in Korea, was humiliated in Vietnam, removed a drug dealer from Panama but left all his peers and all the drugs, slunk off from Somalia and was careful not to hang around too long in Haiti. And then we had the Iraq problem and Afghanistan, the lo […]
  • Word
    Deeflation is inflated the dollar so the sovereignity on the fundaments is entire in escrow. So even if you gives a thing away you still gotta git paid for it or the whole fiascal system becomes a automatic infield out or a groun' rule double - Albert Alligator, Pogo, 1953 […]
  • Great moments with Hillary Clinton
    State Department spokeswoman  can't think of any Hillary Clinton achievementsBut then the best HRC can come up with is "stabilization" or something […]