Archive | Scene

Sony Cyberattack: Hackers Win

 

 

But We’ll Show You the Film Trailers Anyway !

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

U.S. officials are treating a cyberattack on Sony Pictures as a “serious national security matter,” with the National Security Council considering a proportionate response, the White House said.

Evidence shows the attack against Sony was carried out by a “sophisticated actor,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.  But he declined to blame North Korea, saying the investigation is still progressing.

That country is suspected of orchestrating the hack in retaliation for the Sony film The Interview, about a fictional plot to assassinate Pyongyang’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

The film portrays Seth Rogen and James Franco as frustrated television journalists who are recruited by the CIA to assassinate the North Korean leader. 

Wanna go kill Kim Jong-un?” Franco’s character asks in the movie.

“Totally.  I’d love to assassinate Kim Jong-un – it’s a date,” Rogen’s character replies.

In the film’s climactic scene, Kim Jong Un’s head is seen exploding when his helicopter is hit by a missile.

The company on Wednesday cancelled the film’s scheduled December 25 release after the four largest U.S. theater chains said they would not show it.  A spokesman said Sony “has no further release plans” for the $44 million comedy, The New York Times reported.

According to media reports, U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity said investigators have connected North Korea to the cyberattack.  North Korea denies involvement and wants to join the US probe into the matter, saying they can prove they’re not behind the security breach.

The massive breach resulted in the leak of tens of thousands of documents of confidential Sony data, including the private details of thousands of company employees, former employees and freelancers, as well as several Hollywood stars and their squabbles.  The leaks also include financial data and high-quality copies of films yet to be released.

The leak has also escalated to threats of terrorist attacks over the film.  A hacker group calling itself Guardians of Peace promised a “bitter fate” to those who attend The Interview showings.  

The group– invoking the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States– warned people to stay away from theaters where the film is playing.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says “there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters.” 

President Barack Obama also downplayed the threat, calling Sony’s quick cancellation “a mistake” and saying his “recommendation would be that people go to the movies.”

Nonetheless, Sony raised the white flag and surrendered, even though, surprisingly enough, its economy is larger than that of North Korea’s. 

Yes, that’s true.

 

Sony’s Response

Sony was preparing for a Christmas Day release of the comedy about two journalists recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency to assassinate North Korea’s leader.

But not anymore.  They’re backing down altogether.

In a statement about its cancellation, Sony said it was “deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie and, in the process, do damage to our company, our employees and the American public.  We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

In an interview late Wednesday with ABC News, Obama called the cyberattack on Sony Pictures “very serious.”

 ”We’re investigating it.  We’re taking it seriously.  We’ll be vigilant,” Obama said.  ”If we see something that we think is serious and credible, we’ll alert the public.  But, for now, my recommendation would be that people go to the movies.”

 

Pyongyang Condemns Movie

While Americans might be used to such irreverent humor, Pyongyang isn’t laughing.

In fact, they’re pissed.  Crazy-pissed.

Pyongyang has strongly denounced the comedy as an act of terrorism and had called for Sony to cancel the film.  It has praised the hacking as a “righteous deed,” while insisting it is not involved in the intrusion.

“The act of making and screening such a movie that portrays the attack on our top leadership… is a most wanton act of terror and act of war, and is absolutely intolerable,” a Foreign Ministry statement carried by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency on Wednesday read.

The ministry called on Washington to ban the film from being screened, warning that failure to do so would trigger a “resolute and merciless counter-measure response.”

It is not clear whether the Guardians of Peace group is linked to Pyongyang, which is known to have a capable group of Internet hackers at its disposal.  Some suspect the hackers may have been aided by an insider at Sony.

Pyongyang was angered by the film and in June promised “merciless retaliation.”  But it has denied involvement in the attack.  A North Korean diplomat said earlier this month the accusation was a “fabrication.”

Eriq Gardner, senior editor of The Hollywood Reporter, said the scale of the Sony hacking is unprecedented.

“There have been things that have made Hollywood studios change distribution of movies, but nothing like an attack from a nation-state forcing its hands on a movie that is really just a comedy,” Gardner said.

“… There have been some people who have speculated, maybe jokingly, that this was all just a publicity stunt,” he added.  

“But really, no matter how much money the film makes from here on out, it will not have been worth it to Sony.  This is absolutely terrible for them.”

 

Financial Loss

Doug Stone of the film industry newsletter Box Office Analyst believes Sony is set to lose up to $55 million and could opt to release the film at a later date or offer it as a video on demand.

Bruce Bennett, a North Korea analyst for the think tank RAND Corp., said Sony’s decision to cancel the film’s release sets a bad precedent.

“Foreigners who want to stop the release of a film can now follow the example of these hackers.  That’s dangerous for the United States,” said Bennett.

And, he added, it is good news for North Korea’s leaders.

“They don’t want this film to get out.  They particularly don’t want it to get on DVD and get circulated into North Korea, which a lot of outside DVDs do because it depicts Kim Jong Un accurately as being ruthless and deceptive, and in ways that don’t coincide with the regime’s propaganda,” Bennett said.

 

Hollywood Reacts

Many in Hollywood spoke out against Sony’s decision to scrap the movie’s release.

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel called the move “an un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist’s actions and sets a terrifying precedent.”

George Clooney said “Hollywood hung Sony out to dry.”

Actor Rob Lowe declared it an “utter victory” for the hackers.  “Wow.  Everyone caved.  The hackers won.  An utter and complete victory for them.  Wow,” Lowe tweeted.

Steve Carell, whose own film set in North Korea has been canceled, said it was a “sad day for creative expression.”

This isn’t the first time North Korea’s leadership has been on the receiving end of Hollywood’s particular brand of parody.

In 2004, the South Park creators portrayed Kim’s late-father Kim Jong-il as a speech-impaired, mass-murdering alien despot in Team America: World Police

While Kim Jong-il, a noted film buff, never publicly commented on the film, North Korea’s embassy in Prague demanded that the film be banned in the Czech Republic.

“It harms the image of our country,” a North Korean diplomat said at the time.  A Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman rebuffed Pyongyang, saying “it’s absurd to demand that in a democratic country.”

Kim Myong-chol, executive director of The Centre for North Korea-US Peace and an unofficial spokesman for the Pyongyang regime, strangely enough said North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, in fact, plans to see The Interview.

~Via BBC, VOA, Google News, RT, Sony Pictures, YouTube

 

 

* * * * * * * *

Regardless of the threats and hacks and attacks, we’ll show you the film trailers anyway– while they’re still up and running.

If North Korea and Kim Jong Un don’t like it, oh well, that’s too bad.   Cry us a river.  What would America think if Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 ‘The Great Dictator’ was cancelled because Der Führer didn’t like it?

The movie may be in poor taste but that’s how politcal satire goes.  The Sony story is downright bizarre — and we don’t just mean the hacking.  We mean the decision to make the stupid movie in the first place.

Nevertheless, we believe in free and independent media and we’ll stand up for it– even if Sony won’t. 

We may be small, but we’re still Humboldt.  So come and get us.  We’re waiting.  And we’ll leave the light on for you.

 

 

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Gravity’s Got A Hold On Me

 

 

–And I’m Looking for Something to Set Me Free

 

**Viral VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

You can almost fly.  If gravity doesn’t get you down.

World’s Best Trampoline Tricks is the latest video by Devin Graham, aka YouTube’s uber-darling devinsupertramp.

In this edition, Devin joined with the leading trampoline manufacturer Eurotramp to film an amazing video on trampoline jumps, flips, and tricks.

The epic video features the amazing trampolinist Greg Roe, with an assist by Botond Dajka and Csanad Borlay of the Lords of Gravity.  The background music, Gravity, is by the Vibrant Sound.

Below is the behind-the-scenes take of how Devin made the video.

Jump on.

 

 

* * * * * * * *

For you camera techno-geeks out there: 

Devin Graham and Parker Walbeck filmed World’s Best Trampoline Tricks at 6k with the RED Dragon downscaled  to 4k and with the Phantom Miro at 1000fps at 1080p–  upscaled to 4k with the Glidecam HD 4000 for stabilizing. 

It was edited by Parker Walbeck using Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

 

 

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A Sun Dog and His Master

 

‘Sun Dog’

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s no secret:  We love our dogs.

While ski towns everywhere are bracing for the absolute insanity that occurs in mountain towns during the holidays, here comes a video to remind us of what’s important in life.

In Sun Dog by Sturgefilm and DPS Cinematic, filmmaker Ben Sturgulewski tells the story of skier Santiago Guzman and his dog Conga in the wild mountains of Patagonia overlooking Bariloche, Argentina.

The place they call Refugio Frey is the only protection from the ravaging winds, drawing wanderers of all sorts to its doors.  Santiago and Conga slide down the hills effortlessly with an infectious energy, the windswept landscape a backdrop for the pure joy of two mountain souls sharing a day in the wild together.

Unlike much of the sub-par ski films out there, this short segment isn’t about big powder, big lines, or big tricks.  It’s about a happy little black dog named Conga who can’t get enough of playing in the snow with her best friend.

So even though the mountains might be packed this holiday season with tourists and snowboarders galore, take a deep breath.

As Conga teaches us, life in the mountains is pretty amazing, no matter what the conditions or circumstances.

 

 

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Happy Xmas

 

(War is Over)

 

John Lennon’s VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

In the 1960s The Beatles delighted their fan club members by sending them
a specially recorded 45rpm single every Christmas filled with comedy, music
and festive fun.

The following decade the Christmas single as we know it– a one-time seasonally themed hit—had arrived.

Fittingly though, it was ex-Beatle John Lennon who changed the whole Christmas game.

Lennon was born October 9, 1940, at a time when World War II was raging across Europe.  Liverpool was under attack, bombed by Nazi Germany when John was born.  The rest, as you know, is history.

Sung by John and Yoko Ono and accompanied by the Harlem Community Choir, Happy Xmas (War Is Over) was released in the States on December 6 of 1971.  It was released in Britain the following year, and again following Lennon’s death after being violently gunned down outside of his New York City apartment on December 8, 1980.

The Vietnam-inspired sing-along was the culmination of more than two years of peace activism undertaken by the couple that began with the bed-ins they convened in 1969, the first of which took place during their honeymoon. 

President Nixon had said at the time that the Vietnam War would soon be ending “as a result of the plan that we have instituted.”  In April 1970, however, he had expanded the war by ordering US and South Vietnamese troops to attack communist sanctuaries in Cambodia and Northern Vietnam.  The resulting outcry across the United States led to a number of antiwar demonstrations– and during one of these demonstrations the National Guard shot four protesters at Kent State.

The couple had launched an international multimedia campaign preceding the song in December of 1969 – at the height of the counterculture movement and the massive protests against America’s involvement in the war– by renting billboard spaces in 12 major cities around the world for the display of black-and-white posters declaring, “WAR IS OVER!  –If You Want It– Happy Christmas from John & Yoko.”

Lennon said he conceived the antiwar campaign to promote social unity, peaceful change, personal accountability and empowerment, and writing the happy holiday tune to convey a sense of optimism but without the glowing sentimentality typically associated with the holiday music season.

“I was sick of White Christmas,” he said, and “I wanted to pen the peaceful anthem using the lyrical lesson I learned while recording Imagine.  I understood what you have to do:  Put your political message across with a little honey.’”

By the time Happy Xmas (War Is Over) was released, Lennon’s antiwar activism had brought him under the scrutiny and ire of the Nixon administration and the FBI.  Lennon had already returned his “Member British Empire” medal back to Queen Elizabeth, citing Britain’s support of US troops in Vietnam and its own involvement in Biafra.  He was involved in so much radical activity in the US that the FBI had 216 pounds worth of files about him. 

In 1972 he received his ignoble payback– a deportation order to leave the United States.  It was later stayed due to his broad popular support and the issuance of a green card for US residency. 

By 1973, the Vietnam War was grossly unpopular.  After extensive negotiations and the bombing of North Vietnam in December 1972, the Paris Peace Accords were signed in January of 1973.  The war was finally over– after nearly 20 years of US involvement.

Yoko Ono later wrote:

“Never in a million years, did we think that promoting world peace could be dangerous.  Were we naive?  Yes, on that account, we were.  

John said:  ‘Nobody told me there’d be days like these.’  That was his true confession.  These songs have become relevant all over again.  It’s almost as if John wrote these songs for what we are going through now.”

Among the many items Yoko donated for an exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame following his death were the bloodstained glasses he was wearing when he was shot.   Lennon was legally blind without them.

Yoko refused to hold a funeral for Lennon.  By not doing so, she said, ”his spirit would live forever.”

 

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Rebounding Resilience

 

Life is More than a Game

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Life, not just games, happens on the Filipino basketball court.

Weddings, celebrations, meetings, festivals, and memories occur there.

The damage done by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013 was catastrophic, leaving homes destroyed and 580,000 people displaced.  It was the deadliest typhoon in modern history, rated at a Class 5 with winds recorded at 275 mph.

More than 6,300 people lost their lives in the record-breaking super storm.  As of January 2014, bodies were still being found.

After the typhoon, the aid organization Samaritan’s Purse gave out food, tarps, building materials, and other emergency supplies– on the basketball courts.

Now it’s where healing is found. The Rebound gives a touching take of how Filipinos found help, healing, and resiliency through basketball in the wake of the storm.

 

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Australian Security Forces Storm Sydney Cafe

 

 

Hostage Siege Ends With Attack, Gunshots

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s over.

Australian security forces on Tuesday stormed the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney where several hostages were being held at gunpoint, in what looked like the dramatic ending to a standoff that had dragged on for more than 16 hours.

Heavy gunfire and loud bangs rang out shortly after 2 a.m. local time today, and moments earlier at least six people believed to have been held captive had managed to flee the scene.

Australian state broadcaster ABC reported that three people were dead and four others were wounded and in serious condition.  Police said the three people killed were the gunman and two of the hostages.

It is unknown whether the two hostages who were killed, a 34-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman, were caught in crossfire, or shot by the Iranian-born gunman.  Among the four wounded was a police officer shot in the face.

Medics moved in and took away seven injured people on stretchers, but it was not clear whether they included the gunman.  He was identified as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee and self-styled sheikh facing multiple charges of sexual assault.  Local media reported that Monis, who was known as Manteghi Bourjerdi before he changed his name, was 49 or 50 years old.

Chris Reason, a correspondent for CNN affiliate Seven Network, said the gunman became “extremely agitated” when he realized what had happened and “started screaming orders” at the remaining hostages.

Reason said he could see the gunman pacing past the cafe’s windows from his vantage point at the network’s nearby offices.  He described the man as unshaven, wearing a white shirt and black cap and carrying a shotgun.

The gunman demanded a flag and phone call through hostages who contacted several media organizations, Sky News Australia reported.

Monis, also known as Sheikh Haron, was found guilty in 2013 of sending offensive and threatening letters to families of eight Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan and calling them “Hitler’s soldiers,” as a protest against Australia’s involvement in the conflict, according to local media reports.

He was also charged with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife.  Earlier this year, he was charged with the sexual
assault of a woman in 2002.  He has been out on bail on both
of the charges.

“This is a one-off random individual.  It’s not a concerted terrorism event or act.  It’s a damaged goods individual who’s done something outrageous,” his former lawyer Manny Conditsis told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.  “His ideology is just so strong and so powerful that it clouds his vision for common sense and objectiveness,” Conditsis said.

He was believed to be acting alone and does not appear to be part of a broader plot, US law enforcement said Monday.  Beyond the demands for the flag and phone call, precisely what he wanted remained murky late Monday.

During the siege, hostages had been forced to display an Islamic flag, igniting fears of a jihadist attack.  The black flag with Arabic writing read, “There is no God but God and Mohammed is the prophet of God.”

At least six hostages were either released or had escaped, with terrified cafe workers and customers running into the arms of paramilitary police.

Fifteen or so hostages were understood to have been holed up inside the cafe, said Chris Reason, a reporter at Channel Seven, whose office is opposite the cafe.

The incident forced the evacuation of nearby buildings and sent shockwaves around a country where many people were turning their attention to the Christmas holiday following earlier security scares.

In September, anti-terrorism police said they had thwarted an imminent threat to behead a random member of the public and days later, a teenager in the city of Melbourne was shot dead after attacking two anti-terrorism officers with a knife. 

Tough anti-terror laws were passed by the Australian parliament in October in response to the threat of homegrown extremism.

The siege cafe is in Martin Place, a pedestrian strip popular with workers on a lunch break, which was revealed as a potential location for the thwarted beheading.

“We’re possibly looking at a lone wolf who has sympathies to global jihad or someone with mental health issues in search of a cause,” said Adam Dolnik, a professor at the University of Wollongong who has trained Sydney police in hostage negotiations.  “This is all about attention.”

In the biggest security operation in Sydney since a bombing at the Hilton Hotel killed two people in 1978, major banks closed their offices in the central business district and people were told to avoid the area.

Australia, a staunch ally of the United States and its escalating action against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, earlier this year raised its domestic terror threat level from medium to high, mainly due to concerns about home-grown extremists.

About 70 Australians are thought to be fighting for militant groups in the Middle East.

A number of Australian Muslim groups condemned the hostage-taking in a joint statement and said the flag’s inscription was a “testimony of faith that has been misappropriated by misguided individuals.”

~Via Google News, ABC, Seven Network, WRAL, Reuters

 

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Mad Max’s Road Warrior Meets Disney’s Pixar

 

 

The 2015 Official Movie Trailers

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

 

Cinema, movies, and magic have always been closely associated. 

The earliest people who made films were magicians.  And they knew it was always better to surprise and change other people’s expectations than to give them exactly what they wanted.

In the latest trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road, forget about the oil wars and civilized gentility. 

The world is almost out of water, everyone’s gone out of their minds, and it’s all gone to hell in a handbasket.  Amidst all of this chaos, toss in more than a few Hollywood-style big-budget car chases and explosions and you’ll get the general idea.

The fourth installment of George Miller’s post-apocalyptic dystopian series, Mad Max: Fury Road stars Tom Hardy in lieu of Mel Gibson’s old role as Max Rockatansky, a man living in a world that’s turned into nothing but “fire and blood.”  

Haunted by his turbulent past, Mad Max believes the best way to survive is to wander the Wasteland alone.  Hoping to find a way to exist in the midst of all this insanity, he finds a heroine partner in an elite Imperator named Furiosa– played by an unrecognizably macho-looking, crew-cutted, smokin’ hot Charlize Theron– who has no time for any nurturing and coddling.  True to the original story of Mad Max, we’re talking about surviving in the post-apocalyptic world here.

“Out here, everything hurts,” Theron’s character fiercely says in the above clip.  ”You want to get through this?  Do as I say.  Now pick up what you can– and run!”

Between those well-chosen bits of Shakespearean dialogue, clever editing and breakaway pan shots, there’s a dynamic soaring score pulsating throughout every moment and even those unfortunate few who missed out on Miller’s original Mad Max movies will be curious to see what Fury Road is all about when it opens May 15, 2015.  For premature voyeurs, we have
another alternate film trailer for you here.

If apocalypse, mayhem, and hardcore survival aren’t your flavor, there’s another gentler and kinder movie arriving around the same time:  Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out.

The animated movie trailer, seen below, takes us inside the emotional mind of a typical adolescent doe-eyed girl named Riley, in the middle of a major transition as her family relocates from the Midwest to San Francisco. 

Seeing and hearing the voices of Riley’s various turbulent emotions swirling about in her head– playing the characters of Joy, Fear, Anger, Sadness and Disgust– we get to relive our own childhood and dance the sweet teenage tango of life’s angst once again.

The Emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life.  Riley herself tries to keep things positive, and how best to navigate a new city, house and school.

Growing up can be a bumpy road.  But as the latest trailer for Inside Out shows, it’s not just young Riley whose emotions are at the center of attention – we get to see inside her parents’ heads, too.  And true to the Disney paradigm of how things naturally happen, the parents are always wise and right again.  Take that, teens!

Inside Out opens in theaters on June 19, 2015.

Wizards and vampires and zombies will be out for the coming year.  The upcoming film noire will be dominated by societies in breakdown.  And yes, the revolution will be televised for teens, parents, and survivalists alike.

 

 

 

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Life in the Nordland

 

‘The Fox of Bloody Women Island’

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

 

Vern Cummins and Jamie Gallant
Bureau of Explorers.com

 

 

How does one find happiness throughout a winter when the sun barely makes an appearance?

This source of curiosity took us to Nordland– a mystical Viking land of changing light, deep fjords and mountainous archipelagos.

We arrived in the small town of Kjerringøy, where had we heard there was a man who built traditional boats.

His name was Ulf, his house had the red trim around it, and he’ll
meet us at the end of the drive in the freezing rain.

This was all we knew.

The land was rugged, the sea cold and forbidding, the people of ancient Viking stock strong and independent and peaceful.

Could this man’s belief in his work and connection to his environment be the root of his happiness?

Shot entirely during the twilight hours of Norway’s northern Arctic, this is his story.

* * * * * * *

Filmed by Vern Cummins and Jamie Gallant for the Bureau of Explorers,
‘The Fox of Bloody Women Island’ was the Official Selection of the Chicago
International Film Festival and a Vimeo Staff Pick in 2014, and the Official
Selection of the American Documentary Film Festival for 2015.

 

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The Moped Diaries

 

Hope, Loss, and New Beginnings

 

**Award-Winning FILM**

 

Keith Cartwright
A Life of Gratitude.com

 

 

Levi is a boy growing up on Collington island off the coast of North Carolina.

When a new bridge is built connecting his island to the mainland he has to come to grips with both the change and opportunities that come along with it.

There’s the love of home, love of a partner, and the love of family.  And they’re falling apart– pushing him towards a dead end or crossing that bridge to see what lies beyond the horizon.

 

Twenty years ago I started a job that changed my life.  And although I’ve been gone from that job for eight years now, I was reminded it hasn’t finished changing me.

The job was with Eckerd Youth Alternatives.  I was a counselor working with middle and high school students in a wilderness program.  The kids were labeled at-risk, troubled, hopeless, and countless other terms to suggest they were much better suited to live in the middle of the Croatian National Forest than their communities. 

The first year I spent with those kids I was all about the labels.  There were days I coined one or two of my own that were far less complimentary than the standard ones.  Over time, though, as I got to know them better and built relationships with them, I came to understand the label they really deserved was, well– just plain kids.  

Kids who needed someone to listen to what made them mad in the world and not tell them why they should never be angry at all.  Kids who needed someone to identify a thing or two they were doing right to soften up the endless lists of failures others had attached to them.

They needed someone to give them permission to dream.  And not just because that’s what “normal” kids did, but because someone believed those dreams could come true. 

But this week I was moved by one of those young men who’s always held a special place with me.  Several years ago I actually had the privilege of officiating his wedding. In the Virgin Islands, no less.  At the time, I thought he and I were caught up in one of those crazy circles of life that loops us around from a point of chaotic introduction to an inexplicable point of connectedness.

But this week, that young man, Tyler, showed me that the circle back then was filled with gaps.  They felt more complete when he shared something– making this mentor suddenly feel like the one
being mentored. 

Tyler has been working in the movie and television and camera business for years.  And a handsome face it is.  Earlier this week he shared his latest creation on social media:  a short 10 minute movie called The Moped Diaries.

When I watched it I was struck by how much the story reflected his life.  One of overcoming challenges.  One of picking a story and living it out, refusing to let anything or anyone alter the plot.  

But, what stuck out even more– I was basking in the creation of a kid who once came looking for help and was now a young man offering it to the world with his movie.  

His story is timely for so many people in my life who’ve faced or are facing hardships.  This is a story of hope and determination and that they can be conquered.

Having children helped me understand the importance of living a life of gratitude, and how impossible that life is without saying “thank you.”

I hope you’ll take 10 minutes and watch Tyler’s film.  I hope you’ll consider his message.

I’m proud of you my friend, Tyler Nilson

Well done.  Thank you.

* * * * * * * *

Tyler Nilson played the adult character of Levi, and wrote, directed, and produced The Moped Diaries. 

He works for Lucky Treehouse, a San Francisco and Los Angeles based collective of filmmakers and artists working together to make films, commercials, and television content inspired by the stories of youth, the unknown on the road ahead, and the feeling of summer days, rope swings, experience & adventure.

~Via Keith Cartwright, A Life of gratitude.com, Tyler Nilson, Lucky Treehouse and Vimeo. 
   Photos courtesy of Tyler Nilson’s Facebook page.

 

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Eaten Alive by a Giant Anaconda

 

 

Reality TV Stunt Brings Attention and Criticism To the Plight of the Amazon

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

We all have goals.

When Paul Rosolie wanted to focus attention on the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, he decided he needed a stunt guaranteed to get people looking.  For the past two years, the naturalist and author had a goal that no man in the history of the world has ever had:  to be eaten alive by a giant green anaconda.

So the staunch environmentalist offered himself as dinner to the monster snake — and was swallowed alive, filming every moment.

Anacondas, the largest snakes in the world, typically suffocate their prey before ingesting it, making Rosolie’s attempt the first of its kind and very dangerous.

Rosolie survived, and people all around the world got to see the harrowing journey on Sunday night into the belly of the beast.  The two-hour special, Eaten Alive, aired on the Discovery Channel and was widely criticized by animal activists.  Rosolie, author of the widely praised eco-adventure book Mother of God, was slammed as a snake-torturing opportunist.

The idea came to him after a decade spent working in, and working to save, the rainforest habitat, Rosolie said.

“Everybody on Earth knows that the rainforests are disappearing and most people can tell you how important they are, but still, not enough people are paying attention, not enough people realize this is such a problem.”

The American activist said he was proud to take on the adventure, even though the prospect of dying was hard to swallow.

To avoid suffocating, his team of experts crafted Rosolie a specially designed carbon fiber suit, equipped with a breathing system — as well as with cameras and a system to communicate.

“We didn’t know if this was going to work, if I was going to be eaten, but we made sure that if I did make it inside the snake, I wouldn’t suffocate,” Rosolie explained after the ordeal.

The next challenge was trying to find a snake in the Peruvian Amazon jungle. 

Rosolie and a camera crew spent eight weeks in the Amazon seeking a hungry anaconda and along the way encountered piranhas, electric eels, giant crocodiles and other deadly creatures.

“We spent 60 days out in the jungle, camping, hiking, looking through swamps every night,” Rosolie said.  “During our expedition in the Amazon, several times we encountered this anaconda with the girth of an oil drum.  The problem was we couldn’t restrain it.  There was no way to capture this snake.  We had a 10-person team and they couldn’t hold onto it.  That started spooking us — it was 26 feet and 400 lbs.  We decided to test the suit on a more normal-sized snake.”

 Eventually, they found a female snake, which at 20 feet long, fit the bill.

“When I went up to the snake, it didn’t try to eat me right away,” Rosolie recounted.  “It tried to escape.  And when I provoked it a little bit, and acted a little more like a predator, that’s when it turned around and defended itself.”

The explorer was swallowed head first and spent more than an hour inside the giant snake, adding that he kept in touch with his team the whole time.  He said he was scared that something would go wrong, but at the same time, “I was very excited to do it.”

“You are going up against one of the greatest predators of the planet and doing something that no one has ever done before,” he said.  “Everybody says an anaconda can’t eat a human, that it’s physically impossible.  I’ve seen an anaconda break a wild boar in half.  I’ve seen an anaconda constrict a black caiman, which is a crocodile that grows up to 15 feet.  Anacondas eat animals much bigger than humans.  Once you crush a human ribcage — squeezing before they eat — we’re much smaller than some of the animals they’re eating, Rosolie said.

“And I know of people who have been eaten.  The cook who tours with us in the Amazon — his father was eaten by an anaconda.  So it’s not a myth.  When you’re in these small villages and your mom gets eaten by an anaconda, they’re not running to get a camera.”

He did not give details on how he was freed from the snake, but insisted his team was careful not to harm it and that he was the only one in danger.

“We didn’t force the snake to do anything, we didn’t ask from the snake anything out of the ordinary,” Rosolie said, explaining that “snakes very often regurgitate if they’re eating something and a predator comes by, they have to give up their meal so they can escape.”

The anaconda is now doing well, he said.  But Rosolie faced fierce criticism from animal rights groups, including from PETA, who said “the snake was tormented and suffered for the sake of ratings.”

Rosolie said he even received death threats.  But he wasn’t fazed, saying the shock value is important to increase attention to his cause of the Amazon’s plight.  As he explained it:

“I’ve worked in the Amazon for 10 years, as well as India and Indonesia and other places, and it all goes back to the loss of biodiversity, plants and animals.  

I’m seeing the Amazon disappear.  I’ve seen entire 1,000-mile stretches of rainforest burnt to the ground where every single plant and animal is destroyed — and no one pays attention to that.  I’ve seen scientists spend their entire lives trying to rally public opinion and support, and people just don’t care.

Anacondas, as an apex predator, are a part of that.  I said, ‘I want to do something completely crazy.’  I’ve studied anacondas for years.  They’re a misunderstood species.  People hunt them and kill them.  And I said I wanted to do something that’s going to grab people by the eyeballs. 

So I wanted to do something that would sort of shock people and force a dialogue about what’s going on here — and it’s working.  People all over the world have been calling me saying they hope I get Ebola, that they hope I die, that they think I’m heinous and inhuman and horrible, and that I’m “the Hitler of animals.”

People care about animals.  They don’t make the jump to caring about the habitat the animals live in. 

What’s interesting is that PETA has something like 40,000 signatures protesting Discovery’s special from people who care about a snake — which is awesome.

But those people don’t realize this is one snake– when there are millions of snakes and other animals that are being incinerated right now.

Yet a petition to protect the standing Amazon rainforest has — wait for this — 159 signatures.”

 

A fund linked to the show was set up to raise awareness and money to protect the Amazon and allow for more research of anacondas in their habitat.  After the US showing, Eaten Alive will air around the world.

The Discovery Channel said it expected at least three million viewers in the United States and a million more from around the world.  They got the views alright, except the stunt didn’t go as planned and viewers and critics alike were disappointed Roaslie didn’t get eaten alive after all.

~Via Paul Rosolie, Discovery Channel, EW, YouTube, and Times of India

 

 

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Rivages

 

A Film of Work and Men– and Women

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

In the secluded port of Le Havre, France, the docks are
run only by men.

No women are allowed within the confines of the port.  The male dockers fortunate enough to work there inherit the profession as it’s handed down from their fathers, from one patriarchal generation to the next. 

Last month, a container ship left the port to cross the world all the way to Malaysia.  It had an unusual embellishment visible for all to see: 2,600 strips of paper—making up a woman’s eyes– pasted on the containers by an artist named JR and his team in 10 quick days.

Guillaume Cagniard’s beautiful black and white film, Rivages, pays tribute to these men, and to the women who are mysteriously absent.  He explained his collaboration with both the dockworkers and the artist:

“I wanted to show through the portraits of dockers an example of a profession embodied by proud and solitary men.

Deeply rooted in traditional values, passed on from father to son, these dockers challenge the constant coming and going of ships.  I wanted to pay tribute to the various trades in the port, without which JR’s project would not have been possible.

The port is a very secluded place, closed off by barriers, without any women.  One can only become a docker strictly through father-son legacies.  That is what I wanted to show with the three generations of dockers stacked on top of each other, watching the boat drift away.

Thanks to our exchange, a friendship was born. They joined with us to paste the eyes of a woman, the very first woman to be allowed in the port.”

 

The artist JR explained his role and what he was trying to accomplish:

“In 2007, my project, Women Are Heroes, was created to pay tribute to those who play an essential role in society, but who are the primary victims of war, crime, rape, or political and religious fanaticism.  They gave me their trust and asked for a single promise:  ’make my story travel with you.’

Portraits and eyes of women were pasted on a train in Kenya, a Favela in Brazil, a demolished house in Cambodia, a building in New York, on bridges in Paris, on the walls in Phnom Penh.

Women Are Heroes is this legacy;  ending with a ship leaving a port, with a huge image that turns microscopic after a few steps closer.  It’s the idea of these women who stay in their villages and face difficulties in regions torn by wars and poverty, and facing the infinity of the ocean.

We have no idea where and how people will see this artwork.  We are sure women far away will feel something; seeing this boat, her lonely eyes passing by silently and quietly, never to be heard from again.”

 

 

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Pop Insanity

 

So What’s New?

 

**Viral VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Once in awhile we pop in on pop culture to remind ourselves of what we’re not. 

We’re not rich.  We’re not trendy.  We’re not fashionable, hip, mod, awesome, totally dank or driving late model luxury rides.  Humboldt is more akin to homegrown grassroots music, beer, muddy trucks, weed, tofu and vegans more than it is anything remotely connected with urban couture.

But we do peek once in awhile to see what’s been happening out in the insane world beyond the Redwood Curtain.  It’s a big world out there past the trees, streams, and forests we call home. 

Jolin Tsai is an example of that.

The youngest of two sisters born in Taipei, Tsai was an outstanding student who attended Taiwan’s most prestigious schools including Jingmei Girls High School and Fu Jen Catholic University, where she majored in English literature.

She decided to leave the education gig behind and become a pop music entertainer instead.

She first broke into the Taiwanese entertainment industry at the age of 18, winning first place in an MTV singing competition with her cover of the Whitney Houston song, The Greatest Love of All.  Now one of Taiwan’s biggest stars on the rise, Tsai has become a famous pop princess releasing more than a dozen award-winning albums under notable record labels and selling more than a million copies of each by the age of 34.

And despite being only 5’1” and weighing in at 90 pounds the diminutive diva can sing, dance, and twist herself into more shapes than a balloon animal.

Although she’s not a household name in America yet, she is a huge star in her native Taiwan where her mantle overflows with trophies and statuettes from the MTV Asia Awards, the Golden Melody Awards, and the Global Chinese Music Awards, among others.  Extremely popular in Taiwan and China, she has seen her pop cred soar in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia, as well.

She’s now plying her magic by developing a fanbase in the United States with the above video from her 13th album, Play.

The video and album predictably dominated the pop music charts upon its release, having 3 millions views in the first 3 days and 5 millions more by the end of the week– claiming the record of most video views of Mandarin music of all time.

Tsai collaborated in the above video with American designing team, The Blonds, who previously worked with artists Beyoncé and Katy Perry, spending five days shooting film in New York City.

The album title, according to Tsai, was to relay how singing, acting and performing helped mature her experience and wisdom throughout the past two years.   Tsai says she hopes that with “her new witty music and image, fans will find her album to be playful and joyful, as well as being optimistic for the future.”

We’re reminded that pop culture is not about depth.  It’s about marketing, supply and demand, and well,  let’s face it: shameless, shallow, mindless consumerism. 

That why we love Humboldt, hidden behind the Redwood Curtain, where the values of the local community is our culture. 

But we do take a peek outside, once in awhile.

 

 

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Colonizing the Red Planet

 

 

Mars:  The Epic Dream Vs. the Harsh Reality

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s a one-way ticket to Paradise.

In 2012, a Dutch nonprofit led by entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp announced plans to send four citizen astronauts to colonize Mars in 2023.

The motivation behind the project was later revealed to have little to do with the pursuit of science.  Instead, the organization— known as Mars One— plans to film the whole thing, turning the far-flung mission into a bizarre reality TV show.

The call for applications began back in 2013.  No previous intergalactic experience was necessary, Mars One said in their release.

Applying is easy.  Applicants just need to be over the age of 18 and comfortable with the notion of spending the rest of their mortal lives on a different planet.

In the first two weeks, more than 78,000 people applied for the one-way trip into space.  That number now tops a surprising 200,000 folks wanting to start a new life someplace else.  Mars One hopes to pick between 28 to 40 candidates by the year 2015 and train them for the final mission.

One small problem though:  The organization also needs to raise around $6 billion in funding to pull the whole thing off.  That’s one heck of a Kickstarter project.

Named after the Roman god of war, Mars is the fourth rock from the sun and lies roughly about 140 million miles away from us– depending on our elliptical orbits with one another.  First recorded by Egyptian astronomers 4,000 years ago as “the Red One” due to its iron-rich rocky and dusty surface, Mars has always captured our imagination for travel, exploration, and potential colonization.

Mars has roughly the same landmass as Earth.  Martian surface gravity, however, is only 37% that of Earth– meaning you could leap nearly three times higher on Mars. 

Mars, to note, also sports two moons.

The Martian year is 686 earth-days long, causing some extreme temperature variations in its four seasons.  At the closest point to the Sun, the Martian southern hemisphere leans towards the Sun causing a short, intensely hot summer; while the northern hemisphere endures a brief, cold winter.  At its farthest point from the Sun, the Martian northern hemisphere causes a long, mild summer with the southern hemisphere having a lengthy, cold winter.

Mars has the largest dust storms in the solar system.  They can last for months and cover the entire planet.  The seasons are extreme because its orbital path around the Sun is more elongated than most other planets in the solar system.

There is no oxygen on Mars except in minor trace amounts and the atmosphere consists primarily of carbon dioxide gas.  Water on the surface of Mars does exists in its polar ice caps but it’s prone to either freezing or evaporation.  There is abundant water trapped below the surface; enough to cover the whole planet to a depth of 115 feet.

So, just how scientifically sound is sending four normal people, with no scientific background, to another frontier planet in the hope of making it habitable for future generations?

Not very much, according to a team of MIT engineering students.  The group made a detailed simulation of the Mars One settlement to assess the mission’s feasibility.   Their results, published last month, show that it will be virtually impossible for humans to survive on Mars with the current technology that exists.

“We’re not saying, black and white, Mars One is infeasible,” said Olivier de Weck, MIT professor of aeronautics and engineering systems.  “But we do think it’s not really feasible under the assumptions they’ve made.  We’re pointing to technologies that could be helpful to invest in with high priority, to move them along the feasibility path.”

The researchers began by looking at each component outlined in Mars One’s plan, from living conditions and life-support systems to logistics and emergency procedures in case of fire.

The first problem is food.  Mars One plans to build a series of capsule-like habitats to house the settlers, using solar panels to supply electricity and extracting drinking water from the soil with an irrigation system.

Using a typical work schedule and metabolic rate of astronauts on the International Space Station, the study estimated that a settler on Mars would have to consume 3,040 calories a day to stay healthy, subsisting on a diet that includes foods like beans, lettuce, peanuts, potatoes, and rice.  The researchers found that producing enough of these crops to sustain settlers would require almost four times an area as the one laid out in Mars One’s plan– 2,150 square feet, as opposed to the 530 currently allotted.

Further, if the crop-growing area is part of the settlers’ habitat as proposed, the crops would end up producing unsafe levels of oxygen that would need to be abated with a constant supply of nitrogen.  This process would require technology that has yet to be developed for use in space.

The same goes for water.  The Mars One plan is to melt ice for drinking water, but the MIT study found that current technologies that can extract and melt water from soil are not yet ready for use in Mars’ harsh environment.  Eventually, the study found, the total atmospheric pressure inside the habitat would drop to unsafe levels, suffocating the first settler within a mere 68 days.

Can Mars be colonized?  Undoubtably it will, someday.  And when it happens, it will be the farthest journey mankind will ever have traveled.  As of September 2014, there have been 40 unmanned missions to Mars, including orbiters, landers and rovers.  18 of those missions have been successful.  There have been many more flybys.

The Indian Space Research Organization’s MOM Mangalyaan orbiter recently arrived on September 24, 2014.  The next mission to arrive will be the European Space Agency’s ExoMars project, comprising of an orbiter, lander, and rover;  followed by NASA’s InSight robotic lander mission, slated for launch in March 2016 and with a planned arrival in September of 2016.

Essentially, colonizing Mars for humans is the kind of thing that presents great challenges and requires an enormous amount of preparation.  

“There are just so many unknowns,” said Sydney Do, one of the graduate students who led the MIT study.

“And to give anyone confidence that they’re going to get there and stay alive–  there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.”

 


 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Erik Wernquist’s award-winning film at top above, Wanderers, was made using actual digital images and real locations gathered from NASA/JPL, NASA/CICLOPS, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, European Space Agency, John Van Vliet and Björn Jonsson. 

It is best viewed on a full screen and with the volume cranked up.

‘Mars One: Introduction Film’ was produced by the MarsOne Project.

Images by Space.com.

 

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Wandering Nature

 

‘Wanderment’

 

**Award-Winning Film**

 

Doug Urquhart
Upthink Lab

 

 

Wanderment is the result of a 12-month collection of 4K time-lapse
sequences captured while backpacking.

From meandering streams and forest-dwelling organisms to the grandeur of high mountains above tree-line, this short film wanders through the contrasting wilderness of Alaska, North Carolina, Georgia and California.

Countless miles of hiking in the Appalachian Mountains and adventurous backpacking in California and Alaska provided no shortage of opportunity to capture the planet’s poetry in motion.  Further juxtaposing these contrasting landscapes is the use of both color and black and white techniques throughout the film.  

Each time-lapse sequence, comprised of hundreds of still images, represents a chance to share these reflective moments far away from our urban epicenters.  It offers a simple reminder to step outside with your friends and family to experience and respect nature first-hand.

This film is best viewed in Full Screen with scaling turned off.  A majority of this film was shot using a 3D printed motion control dolly.  For more info about printing your own version of this dolly, check out: youmagine.com/designs/ultralight-pet-timelapse-motion-control-dolly

The various technical equipment and software I used were:  a Canon 6D, Canon 5D3, Canon T3i running Magic Lantern (3+ month SolarCam, underwater control), Samyang Cine Primes (14,24,35,85), Canon 70-200, eMotimo TB3, Dynamic Perception Stage Zero & One, Custom 3D printed motion control gear powered by eMotimo code to reduce weight for backpacking, custom focus stacking technique via Dragon Frame (we hope to see this as a real feature in a future release), Adobe After Effects, Premiere Pro, LRTimelapse, and some quality outdoor gear from Western Mountaineering, REI, The North Face and Outdoor Research.

And a High-Five to all my friends who shared the path less traveled and hauled extra equipment along the way:  Upthink Lab, Karen Urquhart, Guy Thorsby, Chris McClure, and Greg Gunter.

Thanks for watching!

 

 

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Star Wars Awakens After a Decade of Slumber

 

 

The Movie Trailer Goes Mega-Viral 
  A Year Before Release

 

**Viral VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s been in a deep freeze cryo-sleep for the past decade.

And it’s waking up after a long slumber.  Nine and a half years since the last live-action Star Wars movie opened in theaters and just over two years since Disney acquired Lucasfilm and the Star Wars brand, the saga (depressingly) lurches forward.

In 2005, you remember, it looked like the Star Wars saga was officially over.

Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Fox released Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which completed the prequel trilogy and tied the story back to the first film in the series.

It was done, finished, kaput, and ended.  Or so you thought.

But then along came Disney.

In October 2012 the studio brokered a whopping $4.05 billion deal to buy Lucasfilm, and with the deal came the announcement that they would be starting production on a whole new trilogy of Star Wars films that would keep the epic story going for years and years and even more years to come– and far into the next galaxy if they could.

From the get-go, Disney made their intentions clear to not only continue the saga, but to blow it wide open with annualized releases, transmedia connections, franchising plugs and licenses, and with still more merchandise to sell, sell, sell. 

It’s already begun with Star Wars:  Rebels on TV and it’s only going to keep growing.  In fact, there already are another three directors lined up for four more Star Wars movies after J.J. Abrams launches Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

And that brings us to today.  The first official Star Wars 7 teaser trailer just dropped online and is trending around the world with a staggering 36 million views even though the flick won’t be here for another year.

It’s just a teaser of course, but by all accounts you’ve’ve heard actor John Boyega is playing a stranded trooper and Daisy Ridley a Tatooine local, piloting her own transport speeder which looks like it’s used for salvaging.

We also see the Falcon flying through the dunes of Tatooine, presumably after meeting up with these characters where they begin their adventure to find Luke Skywalker.

Without context, it’s just guess work as to what the Sith warrior (with the new lightsaber design) scene and the X-Wing sequences are from, but visually J.J. Abrams and company honored the sounds, visuals and tone of the original trilogy.

You can feel the old saga revving up when hearing the X-Wing and Falcon engines roar or seeing those Tie Fighters appear on screen.  Even the look of the Rebel pilot’s (Oscar Isaac) helmet and the X-Wing interior are appropriately grungy compared to those all-too-shiny prequels.

The questions remain:  who is the lighsaber-wielder, who is offering the voiceover, and can that lightsaber hilt actually stop an opponent’s lightsaber from sliding down the blade?

Prepare for patience.  Prepare for The Force bringing you an onslaught of teasers, hype and plenty of merchandise between now and December 18 …of 2015. 

We see Jar-Jar getting his groove back on and Jedi alarm clocks on the shelves next Christmas.

 

 

 

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Adriatic Skate

 

Three Friends and The Goodship Galeb

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It’s good to be young and alive.

Heading out to the Adriatic sea and back onto land in some of the oldest cities in the world, skaters Donovan Piscopo, Daryl Angel, and Wieger Van Wageningen explore Croatia via the Goodship Galeb, while camping on the islands situated in the midst of crystal blue waters.

To coincide with their friendship together, we’re taken on a journey full of beautiful scenery, clear waters, barking dogs, and soaking up some Mediterranean rays, they show us plenty of their skateboarding skills.

Directed by Alex Craig and Dave Ehrenreich for Nike and Poler, The Goodship Galeb perfectly illustrates the strong ties between Croatia, its Adriatic islands, and with a subtle mix of skateboarding and diving and some great music thrown in for good measure, it sublimely blends together for a perfectly chill time.

Travel further, live longer, be healthy, and skate on. 
Life is as short– or as long– as you make it.

 

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Greece’s Largest Mystery Tomb Unearthed

 

 

Identity of Ancient Tomb’s VIP Skeleton a Mystery

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

The ancient sands of Ozymandias are slowly and painstakingly being pulled back to reveal their secrets.

Coins featuring the face of Alexander the Great have been found at the largest tomb ever unearthed in Greece, where archaeologists are hunting for clues to solve the mystery of who lies buried there.

The enormous tomb at Kasta Hill in Amphipolis in northern Greece dates back to the fourth century BC and also contains near-intact sculptures and intricate mosaics.

Kasta Hill lies in what was once the ancient city of Amphipolis, conquered by Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, in 357 BC.  Experts have known about the existence of the burial mound in Amphipolis, located northeast of Thessaloniki, since the 1960s, but work only began in earnest there in 2012, when archaeologists discovered that Kasta Hill had been surrounded by a nearly 1,640 foot wall made from marble.

Earlier this year, archaeologists discovered a path and 13 steps leading down from the surrounding wall.  It was then that they uncovered a limestone wall protecting and concealing the entrance of the tomb.  Behind the wall, archaeologists revealed two marble sphinxes, both headless and missing their wings, recovered during excavations.   Bit by bit, the grand tomb began revealing the Ozymandian secrets that had lain hidden for 2,300 years.

The discovery of a skeleton inside the structure has added to the excitement over the site, which has enthralled the Greek public.

The archaeologist in charge of the dig, Katerina Peristeri, on Saturday said they still did not know the identity of the skeleton but it was likely the tomb was built for a high-ranking individual.

Giving the first complete presentation of the excavation results at the Ministry of Culture in Athens, Peristeri said the quality of the statues and the sheer scale of the tomb “show that a general could have been buried there”.

The tomb was repeatedly plundered before being sealed off but Peristeri said the team still found several coins around the tomb, including some showing the face of Alexander the Great and some dating back to the third and second century BC.

Archaeologists had to dig their way past huge decapitated sphinxes, break through a wall guarded by two caryatids — sculpted female figures — and empty out an antechamber decorated with lavish mosaics to finally find the tomb’s occupant.

As they entered the second chamber of the tomb, more spectacles awaited – a magnificent mosaic which covers the entire floor area and depicting a well-known scene.  The mural shows the abduction of Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter and goddess of agriculture and fertility, by Hades/Pluto.  A mural representing the exact same scene was discovered in the tomb of Philip II, Alexander the Great’s father.

In the third chamber, archaeologists found a hidden vault in the floor that had been sealed with limestone.  It contained human remains inside a sarcophagus.  The skeleton had once been inside a wooden coffin– now disintegrated– which had been sealed with iron and bronze nails.  Bone and glass decorative elements and skeletal remains were found both within and outside the limestone sarcophagus.

“We knew we had to return there and solve the mystery of the hill,” said Peristeri.

New research has revealed that the vast tomb had been open to the public in antiquity, leading to looting and damage by the invading Romans.  Sealing walls at the tomb were constructed during the Roman era to keep vandals and looters away, but much damage had already been done.  This has made it difficult to immediately identify the owner of the tomb, as many artifacts that would been buried alongside the individual, and would have helped with identification, are missing.

“It is certain there was damage and plundering in ancient times as it was a large monument that people could visit,” said Peristeri.

Since the unearthing of the site, deemed to be of huge historical importance and visited by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in August, there has been widespread speculation over who was buried there:  from Roxana, Alexander’s Persian wife, to Olympias, the king’s mother, to one of his generals.

“We have no clear clues on the identity of the buried person based on the sculpture of the Lion which stood on top of the hill and the other architectural finds,” said archaeology architect Michael Lefantzis.  “We do know that the dead was a prominent figure… In my opinion he was a warrior.”

But historians say it is highly unlikely to have been Alexander himself, who conquered the Persian empire and much of the known world before his death at the age of 32.

Geophysical scans of Kasta Hill have revealed that there is much more lying hidden within the enormous burial mound, and archaeologists have announced that more excavations will begin in the near future.

~Via Archaeology Today, Ancient Origins,
Megalithic.co, Peter Sommer, MSN News

 

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Remember the Future: Chernobyl Revisited

 

 

Radiation Never Really Dies

 

**VIDEO**

 

Danny Cooke and Bob Simon
CBS News

 

 

Some tragedies never end.  Just bury the horror and move on.

Ask people to name a nuclear disaster and most will probably point to Fukushima in Japan three years ago.

The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in Ukraine was 30 years ago, but the crisis is still with us today.  That’s because radiation virtually never dies.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to visit Chernobyl while working for CBS News on a ’60 Minutes’ episode which aired on Nov. 23, 2014.  Bob Simon was the correspondent and his video can be seen below.

Chernobyl is one of the most interesting and dangerous places I’ve been.  The nuclear disaster, which happened in 1986 (the year after I was born), had an effect on so many people, including my family when we lived in Italy.  The nuclear dust clouds swept westward towards us.  The Italian police went round and threw away all the local produce and my mother rushed out to purchase as much tinned milk as possible to feed me, her infant son.

It caused so much distress hundreds of miles away.  I can’t imagine how terrifying it would have been for the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens who were forced to evacuate.

During my stay, I met so many amazing people, one of whom was my guide Yevgen, also known as a ‘Stalker’.  We spent the week together exploring Chernobyl and the nearby abandoned city of Pripyat. There was something serene, yet highly disturbing about this place.  Time has stood still and there are memories of the past floating around us.

Armed with a camera and a dosimeter Geiger counter I explored the ruins and made the above film.

After the explosion in 1986, the Soviets built a primitive sarcophagus, a tomb to cover the stricken reactor.  But it wasn’t meant to last very long and it hasn’t.  Engineers say there is still enough radioactive material in there to cause widespread contamination.

For the last five years a massive project has been underway to seal the reactor permanently.  But the undertaking is three quarters of a billion dollars short and the completion date has been delayed repeatedly. Thirty years later, Chernobyl’s crippled reactor still has the power to kill.

It’s called the Zone and getting into it is crossing a border into one of the most contaminated places on Earth. The 20-mile no man’s land was evacuated nearly 30 years ago.  

Drive to the center of the Zone today and you’ll see a massive structure that appears to rise out of nowhere. It’s an engineering effort the likes of which the world has never seen. 

And it’s a race against time.

With funds from over 40 different countries, 1,400 workers are building a giant arch to cover the damaged reactor like a casserole.  It will be taller than the Statue of Liberty and wider than Yankee Stadium — the largest movable structure on Earth.

The radiation won’t die or go away.  It will just be encapsulated, a sealed tomb inside a steel skeleton, a buried edifice of horrors to remember the future by.

 

~Via Danny Cooke/Bob Simon and CBS News

 

 

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Clean Water for All

 

 

Sumba Sammy’s Story

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

There is a big world out there to explore and Sammy from Sumba is keen to see it all.

Why is that awesome?  Because it’s entirely possible now. You see, water is the basic building block for communities to prosper and grow well.  Without it they suffer.  There was a time when a lack of clean drinking water meant Sammy, his family, and the local community, were prone to disease and illness.

This all changed after Sammy discovered the Ocean People (well, a bunch of surfers) representing Hurley H2O and SurfAid Sumba.

They worked with local communities for three years to build wells providing clean and safe drinking water for over 7,000 people.

Sammy is just one of many whose life has changed as a result, and now his sights are set on the world.

One in six people don’t have access to clean water.  Five in six can help.  For more information on Hurley’s efforts and to see what they’ve done, visit hurley.com/h2o or visit Waves for Water.com

 

 

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Musical Chairs

 

 

Musicians Who Died Too Young

 

Viral **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one.

We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up.  And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know.

It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.”

~Lemony Snicket

 

Some of the most promising people throughout music history checked out long before their time.

A depressing number of them were brilliant, troubled musicians who defined an era.  Too many bright lights died too young, leaving behind legacies having an extraordinary influence in the music world.

Stars who were taken too soon include rock’n'roll front men, pop icons and some of the best soul singers. Some encountered huge commercial success in their lifetime; others only achieved it after their death.

An astounding majority in the above video were young and incredibly talented artists who experienced difficulties coping with the fame and lifestyle that came with their musical success.

They experienced careers sometimes leading to self destructive habits, addiction, and notoriety, all of which inevitably culminated in tragic deaths– cutting short the success of their musical prime.

Young, famous, and dead.  For them, perhaps passing over was the next great adventure left to experience.

“I’m the one that’s got to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to.”

~Jimi Hendrix

 

 

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The Art of Kaiseki

 

The Thoughtfulness of Food

 

Award-Winning VIDEO

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Niki Nakayama, renowned chef and owner of LA kaiseki restaurant n/naka, lays down a beautiful palette representing the taste, texture, and sheer thoughtfulness of food in a way we’ve never seen done before.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Niki began her career at the renowned Takao restaurant in Brentwood, working under the guidance of esteemed chefs Takao Izumida and Morihiro Onodera.  

Committed to exploring new techniques, Niki embarked on a three year working tour throughout Japan, sampling her way through different regional flavors and immersing herself in the essentials of Japanese cuisine, both traditional and cutting-edge.

While working at Shirakawa-Ya Ryokan, (a Japanese inn owned by her relatives) Niki trained under chef Masa Sato in the art of kaiseki– the traditional Japanese culinary practice that emphasizes the balance and
seasonality of a dish. 

She returned to Los Angeles to start two other wildly successful restaurants, with Zagat, the Los Angeles Times, and Citysearch awarding her the “Best of Sushi” distinction in 2006.

Focusing on tasting menus allowed Niki to do what she enjoys and thrives with most: creating a thoughtful and cohesive series of dishes that provides a personal experience for each diner.

Her latest venture, n/naka, has been ten years in the making and is an expansion of Niki’s previous endeavors, applying the artistic and technical notions of kaiseki to create an ever-evolving seasonal narrative within each meal.

A curator of edible art, she believes that plating is as captivating for the eye as it should be for the palate.  She plates a selection of poetic dishes from her 13-course tasting menu and intimately explains what the idea of
kaiseki means to her.

In the above video she thoughtfully prepares:

Zensai, seasonal ingredients presented as an appetizer with lobster shumai, grilled duck, calamari with blue crab, and hirame ceviche.

Saki Zuke, a pairing of something common and something unique with a lobster potato with cold corn soup, crème fraiche, and ikura.

Modern Zukuri, a modern interpretation of sashimi with Japanese scallop, bell pepper gellee, golden kiwi, and dill.

Otsukuri, traditional sashimi with Oh Toro, hirame, kampachi, nama toko, and kumamoto oyster.

Niku, a meat course with grilled Japanese ishiyaki wagyu beef.

 

We hope you find Niki’s kaiseki as pleasing and beautiful as we did.

 

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The Sounds of Interstellar

 

Making The Blockbuster Film Sound Real

 

**VIDEO and TRAILER**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Interstellar is a film representing some thrilling, thought-provoking, and visually resplendent filmmaking moviegoers have come to expect from writer-director Christopher Nolan.

Supervising Sound Editor Richard King talks about the sound team’s extensive work on the immersive sci-fi film– in which a team of explorers undertake the most important mission in human history by traveling beyond the galaxy to discover whether mankind has a future among the stars as the Earth is
coming to an end.

Interstellar has been the subject of criticism about its layered sound design, which occasionally buries dialogue from the actors underneath its sound effects and Hans Zimmer’s booming score.

But that’s the point, says director Christopher Nolan,who also brought us the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception.

“Many of the filmmakers I’ve admired over the years have used sound in bold and adventurous ways,” Nolan told The Hollywood Reporter.  “I don’t agree with the idea that you can only achieve clarity through dialogue.”

Nonetheless, his sound design has come under fire from many.

Nolan, who visits theaters in advance of his films’ official release to make sure the audio is up to snuff, says he hasn’t heard of any problems.

“The theaters I have been at have been doing a terrific job in terms of presenting the film in the way I intended,” he said.  

“Broadly speaking, there is no question when you mix a film in an unconventional way as this, you’re bound to catch some people off guard, but hopefully people can appreciate the experience for what it’s intended to be.”

It could be worse.  He could have used Metallica instead.

 

 

 

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The Little Person Inside

 

Hope, Passion, and Goals

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Talan Skeels-Piggins was severely injured in 2003 when a car
side-swiped him, ramming his motorbike head-on into traffic.

Left paralyzed from the mid chest down, Talan was told he had just a 30 percent chance of survival and would spend up to two years in hospital.  He was also told he would never walk again if he lived.  

Talan defied those expectations by being discharged from the hospital only six and a half months later.

Undaunted by his injuries, he set about to prove that being in a wheelchair would not stop him from doing what he wanted to do.

In less than a year, he had returned to his passion for skiing– in a specially adapted sit-ski.  Despite the numerous setbacks and personal tragedies, Talan raced down Vancouver’s Whistler Mountain at the Winter Paralympics in 2010– with a best result of 15th in the Giant Slalom only six years after learning how to ski again.

A shoulder injury forced him to retire from competitive skiing.  But Talan set himself to another goal:  to ride a motorcycle again.

No easy challenge, his next feat was not only to ride a motorcycle but to race one.  After a long battle with officials, he was finally granted his race license in 2011– the first paralyzed rider to ever do so.  He competed against able-bodied racers in bike Hill-Climbs, Sprints and Twisty Sprints and went on to make history by setting up the world’s first motorcycle training school for disabled motorcyclists.

“When I am riding I do not feel disabled, I feel free from my wheelchair,” Talan said.  “I enjoy the sense of excitement and independence just as I used to.”

Talan still continues to strap himself to a bike and take on his competitors in one of the most dangerous sports on the planet. 

He is also an advocate for the disabled to remain physically active in their lives, and a widely-sought inspirational speaker on the challenges of overcoming adversity through
perseverence, hope, and passion.  

Delivering talks on Wellness and Healthy Living to health care professionals throughout Europe, he has visited a number of the Spinal Units in the UK to show what opportunities still exist for someone who has been paralyzed, and giving his personal take on how he has managed his life, health, and well-being.  He also trains PE teachers how to include disabled pupils within mainstream PE programs and teaches both able-bodied and disabled students.

And his bike is still his passion.

“Getting to this point has been a struggle, but it’s been worth it.  I want to help other disabled motorcyclists and folks to have the fantastic feeling of being back on a bike, without the falls and setbacks I suffered,” he says.

Facing these challenges, Talan’s unique personality, never-say-die attitude, and his experience of triumph over adversity shows just how tough the human spirit can be.  And to this day he never fails to show his everpresent smile to everyone he meets along the way.

The next time you find yourself worrying about life’s little miseries and complaints, think about Talan.  Embrace what you have enjoyed and done– and what is still left to do.

 

 

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Slow Motion BMX

 

Capturing the Moves

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

What goes up must come down.  Slowly.

Devin Graham, aka DevinSupertramp, dug deep into his bag of high-tech trickery and equipment for another superb action video.

This time, Devin and his team used a spectacular Phantom Miro camera to capture BMX jumps and flips in 1000 frames-per-second glory footage.

Adding an extra dimension to the video, it certainly multiplies the cool factor of the Red Bull BMX Rodeo riders dancing footloose through the air without a care, showing us their high-energy biking skills and awesome tricks in slow motion.

 

 

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Sound Meets Matter

 

Nigel Stanford’s Cymatics

 

A Unique Music Video

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Audio frequencies meet physics.  Who knew?

Sound makes funny shapes.  We don’t usually see it in real life.  But when you put together water and sand and flames with speakers bumping at different frequencies, you’ll start seeing spirals and kaleidoscopes and other wild objects.

This new video by electronic music artist Nigel Stanford and directed by Shahir Daud features all those awesome things in action.

Cymatics, inspired by synesthesia and created for Stanford’s new album “Solar Echoes,” uses technology to illustrate the physics of sound.

Using a variety of tech– from plasma balls to Tesla coils, chladni plates and ferro fluid– Stanford created some truly awesome visual representations of music.

What’s even more impressive about the Cymatics project? 
The music was created after the video was made.

 

 

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A Town Called Trona

 

 

Life in the Desert

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Trona, California is known by few.

Those who have ventured to its hot and barren landscape arrive with the feeling that they’ve left the Earth for some sort of hell-like desert planet on the far side of a distant galaxy, too close to its sun to even remotely harbor life.

It does get hot.  Temperatures during the Trona summer consistently range well over 100 degrees.  The asphalt melts into oozy goo sticking to the bottom of your shoes and bicycle tires; sometimes gloves are required opening your car door. 

Shade is in short supply.  Everyone has an air conditioner, staying indoors during the sweltering heat of day.  Plants rarely survive here.  No one has a vegetable garden or fruit trees; things just don’t grow well.  The area sees about 4 inches of rain a year if they’re lucky.

In the winter, it dips down to freezing.

Few drink the water.  It tastes like a fine mix of desert alkali, minerals, metal, salt, and with a slight touch of urine.  It can also be a dusty place when the sand devils blow through in circles, sending their fine-flour silica silt into every crevice and crack imaginable.

Trona is located in the Greater Mojave Desert, near Death Valley.  Its main feature is Searles Lake, a now-dry Pleistocene lake formed during the Ice Ages and containing a plethora of sodium and potassium minerals of the carbonate, sulfate, borate and halide classes, due to the long sedimentation and evaporation processes occurring over a period of 150,000 years.

The main industry of the town is mining.  Specifically, Borax.  Later, soda ash.  Back in the day 20-mule teams hauled the stuff to the railroad station 30 miles away for market.

A main residential street existed for a while, called “Tent City” because of the tent-type houses that the residents lived in back then.  Around 1916 a few real houses were built for the upper management employees and their families, and the town grew.  Very, very slowly.  It has about 1,800 folks living on the shores of the dry flat lakebed today.

There’s not much to do.  Oh, there’s a library, a community swimming pool, a brown-sand golf course and more than a few churches.  Pretty much, you work.  You can smell the sulfurous fumes of the town before you actually get there, courtesy of the main employer, Searles Valley Minerals, Inc.  The local school, home of the Trona Tornadoes, plays on a dirt football field because the searing heat and highly saline soil kills the grass.  They get teased by visiting sports teams who say ‘Smell you later’ when leaving the place.

They filmed a movie here, Planet of the Apes, set amidst the desert sandstone pinnacles and the tufa mounds of calcium carbonate.  Charles Manson & his girls made Trona their home back during the 1960s, Charlie for some reason saying “he wanted to take over that town.”

There’s not a lot for kids to do.  They do what other kids do.  Play sports, explore the mountains, ride bikes, get stoned, party in the hills, have sex.  For fun, they drive the 170 miles to see the big city and bright lights of LA.  Trona is known for its isolation and insular desolation.

There’s 162 kids at the high school.  After graduation, they leave.

Such is desert life. 

The Chamber of Commerce says, ‘The small desert town of Trona holds a lot of history and offers modern living at an affordable price.” 

And that’s about it.

 

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Make Stuff

 

Mac Premo’s Reflections in a Carved Nutshell

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Mac Premo, b. 1973.

American artist and stuffmaker.  Graduate of Rhode Island School of Design ’95.

Exhibited art in NYC, LA, Miami, DC and Belfast, Northern Ireland.  His fine art, sculpture, and collage is represented by Pavel Zoubok Gallery in NYC.

Mac has won 7 New York Emmy® Awards, including awards for best commercial, best photography, best set design and best PSA.

He currently makes art, illustration, commercials and dinner, at least most nights.  He swears from time to time emphasizing a point.

Mac is active in the New York community: he serves on the board of the Friends of Douglass Greene Park, a community organization working for the revitalization of Thomas Greene Park in Brooklyn and is a 2008 fellow from the NY Foundation for the Arts.

He likes nature, society, science, emotional data (whatever that is), archaic objects, and oh, he definitely loves getting his wood on.  He also likes to reflect on life, wonders about death, and worries about the fine balance between making art and making money.  He gets angry about shit.

Mac lives in Brooklyn with his wife and totally rad daughters.  And he made The Dumpster Project (with a lot of help from some really good folks).

 

 

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Share No More

 

90-Year-Old Florida Man Faces Jail
for Feeding the Homeless

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recently joined more than 30 cities that have restricted or are taking steps to restrict sharing food with the homeless.  But one Good Samaritan, Arnold Abbott, says he plans to keep breaking the law by feeding the homeless.

 

Late last month, the city of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., passed a series of laws that restricted where organizations could feed the homeless.

On Sunday, when a 90-year-old man received a citation in Stranahan Park, the effects of these new laws came into full view.

Arnold Abbott, who is ordered to appear in court, says that hundreds of homeless people had gathered in the park and then police arrived.  

Police issued court orders to him and two members of the clergy, who were handing out food.  He says he faces a maximum of a $500 fine and two months in jail.

During his arrest, onlookers were outraged and shouted ‘shame on you!’ to Fort Lauderdale officers.  At one point an officer yelled at Abbott to ‘drop that plate right now!’ as if it were a dangerous weapon.

Abbott put up his food-gloved hands to calm and quiet the crowd as he was quietly led away by the officers.

“These are the poorest of the poor, they have nothing, they don’t have a roof over their heads.  How do you turn them away?”Abbott told NBC News.  “I don’t do things to purposefully aggravate the situation.  I’m trying to work with the city.  Any human has the right to help his fellow man.”

Also cited were two Christian ministers — Dwayne Black, pastor of The Sanctuary Church in Fort Lauderdale, and Mark Sims of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs.

In 1999, Mr. Abbott sued the City of Fort Lauderdale after he was banned from feeding the homeless on the beach.  A court ruled that such a law was against the Constitution. 

The new regulations require groups to be at least 500 feet away from residential properties and food sites are
restricted to one per city block, but various charities have
criticized the rules as forms of social cleansing.

Mr. Abbott is a longtime advocate of the downtrodden.  He says he has been feeding the homeless at a local beach for more than 20 years, and founded his organization, Love Thy Neighbor, in 1991.  He says he will return to that beach tonight– and expects a repeat of Sunday’s interaction with police.

“After I was cited, I took everybody over to a church parking lot,” he says in a phone interview.  “We did feed everybody.  It wasn’t a complete waste.”

Mayor Jack Seiler, who was unavailable for an interview by press time, told the Sun Sentinel that providing homeless people with a meal perpetuates a “cycle of homeless” in Fort Lauderdale.

“Providing them with a meal and keeping them in that cycle on the street is not productive,” Seiler said.

David Raymond, who served for nine years as executive director of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, said last month that limiting outdoor food service could make sense.  Food, he said, should connect homeless people with other services.  And he noted the tensions that can occur when those providing food bring homeless people periodically to the same place, which can hurt area businesses.

One of the recent laws passed in Fort Lauderdale, aiming to mitigate this tension, will require volunteers to bring portable toilets to all food distribution events.

These rules, Abbott says, are “ridiculous.”

“They’re doing everything in the world,” he says, “to rid the area of homeless persons.”

The National Coalition for the Homeless released a report last month called “Share No More,” listing more than 30 cities that have restricted or are taking steps to restrict food-sharing programs.  The report also aims to correct assumptions about food sharing.  To the coalition, a lack of affordable housing, few job opportunities and disability perpetuate homelessness more than food-sharing programs do.

Other cities that have attempted to restrict, ban, or relocate food-sharing programs are Denver, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Phoenix, according to the report.

Rules that restrict organizations from feeding the homeless, Abbott says, show a lack of common sense among legislators.  Without outdoor feedings, homeless people would need to resort to digging through dumpsters or similar drastic measures, he says.

“This I don’t want to happen,” he says.

“I will continue fighting, I will promise you that. I will not let up.”

  ~Via Christian Science Monitor, Broward-Palm Beach New Times,
    Sun Sentinel, UK Daily Mail, and YouTube

 

 

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The Ambition of the Rosetta Mission

 

The European Space Agency Gambles Big

 

**Award-Winning Film**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Ambition really took us by surprise.

Made in collaboration by the European Space Agency (ESA)—the European equivalent of NASA—it is remarkably unlike any other film NASA has ever done for its own space missions.

It is definitely something out of the ordinary: a big-budget-style sci-fi movie directed by Tomek Baginski with famous actors, such as Aidan Gillen of Game of Thrones fame, and a subtle yet powerful message relating to the Rosetta mission.

On November 12th, something spectacular will happen in space history.  The Rosetta spacecraft, launched back in 2004, will drop its Lander onto the surface of comet 67P. 

Part of what has been so impressive is the length of time this mission has taken to finally get to the comet– 20 years since the planning began, and ten years since its launch.

It is a complex mission.  Rosetta could not head straight for the comet.  The remarkable feat of the Rosetta spacecraft is that it has been ping-ponging its way through the solar system, beginning a series of looping orbits around the Sun that brought it back for three Earth fly-bys and one Mars fly-by.  The mathematical calculations alone were mind boggling.  

Each time, the spacecraft changed its velocity and direction as it extracted energy from the gravitational field of Earth or Mars and then spiraled out on different trajectories to eventually meet up with comet 67P– a decade later.

Rosetta, reaching the bizarrely shaped rubber-duck icy comet, has spent the last three months mapping its surface in the hope of finding a suitable spot to place its Lander. 

It is the first time a spacecraft has entered into orbit around a comet, which is a celestial body formed during the Big Bang– and with almost no gravity.

The Philae Lander– packed with a science laboratory, harpoons, scrapers, computers, and even ovens – will obtain samples, do analyses, and beam the information back to the earth about the basic origins of the universe.  The hope is that Rosetta mission will help answer some of the most basic questions about our existence.

When the Lander touches down seven hours after its release on November 12, all manner of things can go wrong.  The gravity of 67P is so small the Lander could hit the surface, bounce off and be lost in the vast emptiness of space.

Rosetta is truly a milestone of mankind’s achievement.  And, in order to succeed, it’s a mission taking a true amount of… Ambition.

~Via ESA, Vimeo, PhyOrg

 

If you enjoyed this film, you may like our other post:  Genesis

 

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Hobbit Humans

 

 

The Mysterious Race of Little People

A New Species of Human Evolution

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

The tiny skeleton found buried in a cave on Indonesia’s Flores island is a unique and ancient species of man, researchers insist.

In October 2004, excavation of fragmentary skeletal remains from the island of Flores in Indonesia yielded what was called “the most important find in human evolution for 100 years.”

Its discoverers dubbed the find Homo floresiensis, a name suggesting a previously unknown species of human.

Ten years after being discovered, the “Hobbit Human” remains a controversial figure.  Some researchers think that while this diminutive human-like being certainly existed, it might not have been human after all.  Others adamantly disagree.

A commentary in the latest issue of Nature theorizes that the Hobbit Human could have descended from a more ancient pre-human group called Australopithecus, of which the 3.2-million-year-old skeleton “Lucy” is the most famous representative.  

Lucy might have to share the spotlight with the Hobbit, though, if the theory is proven to be correct.

A quick refresher:  The Hobbit Human, aka Homo floresiensis, was a 3 1/2 foot tall species with huge flat feet that lived on the remote Indonesian island of Flores as early as 13,000 years ago.  Weighing in at 55 pounds, they lived on the island for what is believed to be tens of thousands of years.  It is still not known how these early hominins got to Flores or how they evolved their small stature. 

By modern comparison, an African pygmy human is only 4 1/2 feet tall.  Floresiensis was much smaller than that.

The prevailing theory has been that the Hobbit was a member of our family tree, belonging to the genus Homo and having descended from a population of Homo erectus that made its way to the island and shrunk in stature over evolutionary time.  Remains for a handful of Hobbits were found with stone tools and the bones of an extinct pygmy form of an elephant-like creature called a Stegodon.

Renowned paleoanthropologist Chris Stringer from the Natural History Museum in London wrote that the tiny brain of one of the excavated Hobbits as well as its body shape and individual bones “look more primitive than those of any human dating to within the past million years.”

The Hobbit jaw and chin are “most like those in pre-human fossils more than 2 million years old,” Stringer wrote.  And their primitively evolved wrist bones fall off the evolutionary chart of humans altogether.

The Hobbit therefore shares traits with Australopithecus.  And this is where the real mind blower comes in.

We’ve tended to assume that only Homo sapiens left Africa, interbred with locals in Europe and Asia (like Neanderthals and Denisovans), and resulted in today’s non-Africans.

But what if other species, similar to Australopithecus, also left Africa, made it to places like Indonesia, and successfully settled there until very recent times?  This is where the plot thickens.

Stringer points out that if the ancestors of Homo floresiensis reached a place as far out as Flores, then they probably also went to places like Sulawesi, the Philippines and Timor, which would have been along their proposed route.

There are the ancient folklore stories told by Hawaiians of the Menehune, a prehistoric tribe of little people that settled the islands of Hawaii and predated the Polynesian arrival, leaving behind their ancient stone ruins still seen today.

Then there are also the stories of WWII soldiers stranded on islands in the South Pacific who reported finding very old skeletons of very small people buried in the area’s remote caves.

It could even be that they accidentally rafted to such places “on mats of vegetation in such a tectonically active region,” Stringer wrote. 

While that might sound preposterous and far fetched, keep in mind that people wound up doing just that during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Stringer explained the significance of the renewed look at the Hobbit Human.

“If the H. floresiensis lineage had a more primitive origin than the oldest known H. erectus fossils so far identified in Asia, then we would have to re-evaluate the dominant explanation for how humans arose and spread from Africa,” he wrote.

“It would mean that a whole branch of the human evolutionary tree has been missing,” Stringer said.

Still, a controversy still brews in the paleo-world of researchers.

“First they claimed the Hobbit was really a modern person with microcephaly – an abnormally small head,” said Floresiensis expert Professor Dean Falk of Florida State University.

“We showed that this could not be true.  Then they claimed he had Laron syndrome, a form of dwarfism.  Again my team showed this was not true.  Now they are taking a shot with Down’s syndrome.  Again they are wrong.”

Whatever the debate, Homo floresienses is an important paleoanthropogical find that will undoubtedly rewrite our understanding of human evolution– and how our own family tree came about.

 

~Via Nature, The Guardian, Discovery, Bradshaw Foundation,
SciShow, Smithsonian NMNH

 

 

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The Road to Wolfeboro

 

A Photographer’s Maturing Journey

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.  It requires the ability
of judgment and the severe discipline of hard work, with the
tempering heat of experience and maturity.

From the bustling concrete jungle of New York, photographer Brian Gaberman found authenticity and legitimacy in his pioneering skateboard portraiture.

Brian began his journey as a staff photographer at Slap magazine in San Francisco in the 1990s and, with one eye set on the horizon and the other looking to the traditions of his craft, he’s been breaking new ground ever since.

Brian since struck out from the city to lead a more self-sufficient life on a Northern California farm, where he lives with his family.  In forging this path, he’s had to adapt to new responsibilities without forgetting where he came from.

“My life on the road is the polar opposite of my life at home,” reflects Brian.

“I realized that my whole life revolves around the process of adjusting and readjusting to being a travelling photographer one day, and a husband, father, farmer, artist, etc., the next.”

Now, making the pilgrimage to the rural small town sanctuary of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, Gaberman has found a new emphasis in nature, artistic freedom, and the beauty of simple living.  Wolfeboro became Gaberman’s own personal spot of serenity and, for 10 days, a place to call home.

Gaberman has evolved from a great photographer to an outstanding artist, implementing his unique form of art, tediously reviving antiquated photographic techniques through the use of wet and dry plate glass negatives, colloidal silver, etched framing, and capturing the seasonal goods.

Always found with his camera slung around his neck, Brian’s career has been a journey toward maturity through his many years of photography. 

His work, and the above video, will be presented in The Road To Wolfeboro exhibition, a European tour with showings in Barcelona, Lisbon, and London in November and December.

‘Age’ is the acceptance of the years.  But maturity is the confidence, accomplishment, experience and the beauty that shines forth from those growing years.

 

 

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Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be… Militants

 

 

Poster Kid Jihadists

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Samra Kesinovic, 17, and her friend Sabina Selimovic, 15, left the Austrian capital Vienna in April this year, leaving a note for their parents explaining that they had gone to fight in Syria, a decision believed to be influenced by their recent radicalization through a local mosque. 

But they later claimed that they wanted to leave and come back to Austria– reportedly infuriating ISIS leaders waging a constant propaganda war for new talent.

 

Two Austrian teenage girls who ran away to Syria to join Islamic State fighters are beginning to regret their decision.  Unnamed security service insiders told Austrian media that the girls have managed to contact families and that one of them wants to go home.

The pair left home to join the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, or ISIL) in April.

Little information was immediately known, aside from that one had been 16 and one 14 at the time of their departure.

Both reportedly married Chechen fighters after their arrival in Syria and became pregnant.

Samra Kesinovic, 17, and her friend, Sabina Selimovic, 15, are children of Bosnian migrants, but grew up in Vienna, where they became accustomed to talking to whomever they wanted, saying whatever they pleased, and wearing whatever clothes they liked.

But with their views believed to have become increasingly radical in recent years, Kesinovic and Selimovic decided to leave all that behind, run away, and cross the Turkish border into Syria, a decision believed to be influenced through the internet and their recent introduction to a local mosque. 

After the girls were persuaded to leave the country, police managed to track them to the Turkish border.  They believe that they went by car into the war zone where they were married to extremists and then sent out to fight.   They then regularly posted status updates on social media from Syria.

On their departure from Austria, they left a note, telling their parents: “Don’t look for us.  We will serve Allah – and we will die for him.”

Since their departure, pictures have emerged online of the pair brandishing Kalashnikov rifles and wearing full niqab clothing.

For weeks, social media accounts believed to belong to the girls have been posting pictures and information leading
many to feel they enjoyed living a life of terror. 

Sabina first claimed she was pregnant, then retracted it and said she wanted to go home to Vienna – until she gave another interview and expressed how much she loved Syria.  Samra has also given conflicting reports on her condition and whether she actually enjoys her time with ISIS in Syria.

Austrian anti-terrorism police said that an interview given to a French magazine allegedly with one of the two teenage girls was probably carried out at gunpoint.  They believe this was a plan set up by ISIS in order to get people to think the two wanted to be the poster girls for jihad in Syria, and that their social media accounts were overtaken and manipulated by ISIS.

“It is clear that whoever is operating their pages, it probably is not the girls, and that they are being used for propaganda,” a security expert told the Austrian Times.

An Austrian security insider said: “If they really want it to be believable that the girls are now claiming they don’t want to come home, they should let them give the interview on neutral territory where it’s possible to see that they aren’t being threatened by a gun.  If the claim they want to come home is untrue, they have the opportunity to walk back into Syria.”

Both the girls were instantly married as soon as they crossed over the border into Syria and although Sabina and her husband initially lived in the same room with Samra and her husband, the 15-year-old has now reportedly moved out into a new flat.

Speaking over SMS text messages to French weekly magazine Paris Match, Sabina said she was not pregnant as had been claimed and added that she was really enjoying life in Syria and felt free to enjoy her religion in a way that she did not in Austria.

The magazine did manage to confirm that the teenager had only been allowed to speak to them with the permission of her husband who was also reportedly in the room as she wrote back answers to the questions.

She said that after arriving to Turkey from Austria they had crossed over the border into Syria on foot and ended up in the city of Rakka and where they had nothing other than the clothes they were wearing.

Sabina said her “husband” was a soldier and added: “Here I can really be free.  I can practice my religion.  I couldn’t do that in Vienna.”

In Vienna, experts who studied the transcript of the interview said it was almost certain that the teenager had been forced to speak to the magazine by her husband, who was a fighter in the ISIS-terrorist militia.

Asked about the routine of life in a war zone and how they started the day, Sabina said:  ”I like to eat. The food here is very similar to Austria even if it’s mainly halal food.  But you can get ketchup here, Nutella, and cornflakes.”

Interpol released images of the two girls in April, after they disappeared. Both sets of parents have been attempting to make contact and unconfirmed reports have stated that communication has been established.

Both are still believed to be in Rakka, in northern Syria.  According to the Vienna-based newspaper Österreich, Samra wants to return home as the horrors of Syria “have become too much.”

The story of the plight of the girls went around the world once it became known.  The pair wanting to leave had done a lot of damage to the ISIS campaign, experts said, and it was clear ISIS leaders were irritated and trying to limit the damage control to their own advantage.

Speaking to the Österreich, an official with the home office said that escaping Isis in Syria “after such a long time” would be extremely difficult.

The newspaper, which is known for its close links both to the security services and the children’s families, says that death is a “constant companion” for the girls.

There is some hope for women wishing to flee ISIS, however.  In recent days, a Syrian woman fled from the group back to Turkey.

But the two young girls may find attempts to come back difficult.  Austria’s laws bar citizens from returning once they have joined a foreign war, and the two could face prosecution.

“The main problem is about people coming back to Austria.  Once they leave it is almost impossible to return,” said Karl-Heinz Grundboeck, a spokesman for the Austrian Interior Ministry.

In total, around 130 Austrian nationals are believed to have left the country and become foreign fighters for ISIS.  Many more have come from other countries throughout Europe as well.

~Via UK Independent, CEN, MK Independent,
NY Daily News, and RT Today

 

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The Incredible Amazing Flying Car

 

It’s Here.  It’s Real.  And It’s Spectacular.

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Up, up and away.

Meet the AeroMobil 3.0, a car and plane hybrid that its inventors say will revolutionize the transportation industry.

The flying car weighs just 880 pounds and has a flying range of 435 miles– making a trip between San Francisco to Los Angeles in one easy hop.

The prototype and video seen above was unveiled by the AeroMobil company at a technology conference in Vienna,
Austria, yesterday.

It has a sportscar cockpit and dragonfly wings.  It can drive on the road, park in the garage, and take to the skies in short order.  It does not need a paved runway for takeoff or landing. 

Its inventor, Juraj Vaculik, says he’s been working on the project for the past 30 years and his dream of offering a fully functional flying car in production is almost a reality. 

Vaculik is one interesting CEO cat.  He was a former theatre director and a student activist in Czecheslovakia’s Velvet Revolution, before turning himself into an inventor, engineer, and entrepreneur.

“Our plan, the optimistic one, is that between 2016 and 2017 the first products will be delivered to customers, but that’s still an open question.  The next period will be testing, testing, and testing of the prototype,” Vaculik said.

The AeroMobil 3.0 contains advanced plastic composite materials for the body shell, wings, and its wheels.  It also contains avionics equipment, autopilot capability, and will have an advanced parachute deployment system.  Other proprietary details are being kept secretly mum for the time being.

The magical flying car still has to meet regulatory standards and gain European flight certification.  

The current prototype has wings that fold out to a span of 26 feet for flight.  Running on standard gasoline, it flies at 125 mph, consuming only two gallons of gas for every 62 miles traveled.  It had a successful maiden flight and was developed in ten months by a team of 12 people.

The two-passenger car was designed by Stefan Klein, founder and head of the Department of Transport Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Slovakia. 

In 2010, he teamed with Vaculik to start AeroMobil and commercialize the project.   In 2013, a previous prototype of the car was certified by Slovakia’s Aviation Authority for use in that country.  The latest prototype is now undergoing testing for certification in Slovakia, and the company says it’s close to being commercially available.

The company wants to use the latest version to begin marketing the product.  Of course, they believe commuters would love to get their hands on one.  But on a bigger scale, they are aiming the flying car at developing markets where there is minimal infrastructure like roads, highways, or airports.

Vaculik says the machine’s sleek design is as much about form as it is about function.  He insists that when the final production is ready for consumers, it will soon change
the way people travel.

“No, it’s not a boy toy.  It’s not something strange just for Hollywood movies… it is something which is really necessary for transportation.  It’s just more efficient,” Vuculik said.  “We think it’s time to make transportation much more emotional and more personal.  You really can travel simply from point A to B.”

Giving people the option to take to the air and avoid increasingly congested roadways makes for an interesting idea, alright.

Flora Petersen came from Vienna for the unveiling and to see what all the aerocar hype was about.

“I love it!” Petersen said.  “I didn’t even know it was possible, that you can actually make a car fly, so I really wanted to see how it works.  I want to try it out, for sure.”

And she may get her chance soon.

The biggest challenge going forward for Vaculik’s team is reducing the amount of runway needed for the little aerocar to take off.  It currently needs a safe takeoff distance of 220 yards– a distance that’s hard to come by in the everyday urban landscape.  Contrastly, it only needs a length of 50 yards for a safe landing.

But Vaculik is confident.  The prototype works beautifully.  It flies, it’s safe, it’s efficient, and although the price hasn’t been determined or disclosed yet, it looks like it’s going to be a relatively affordable number for many.

Hold onto your seats and buckle up.  It’s gonna be a bumpy ride in the friendly and
crowded skies of everyday commuting soon. 

 

 

 

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Solving the Mystery of Amelia Earhart

 

Metal Fragment of Amelia’s Plane Found

 

**VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

What happened to Amelia is an unsolved mystery that has captivated
the world’s attention after she disappeared 77 years ago.

A fragment of Amelia Earhart’s lost aircraft has been identified to a high degree of certainty for the first time ever since her plane vanished over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937, in a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator.

Researchers at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) announced that a piece of famous flyer Amelia Earhart’s missing plane was found in Nikumaroro, a tiny uninhabited island along the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati, midway between Hawaii and Australia.

This fragment of Earhart’s vanished aircraft is the first piece of information about how she crashed while on a fateful expedition to circumnavigate the Earth.  She never accomplished the goal and her disappearance has been a mystery ever since.

TIGHAR posted a photo of the 19-inch-wide by 23-inch-long piece of a metal portion patch installed near the window of Earhart’s Lockheed Electra during the aviator’s eight-day stay in Miami in 1937, the fourth stop on her attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

The aluminum patch had replaced a navigational window.  A Miami Herald photo shows the Electra departing for San Juan, Puerto Rico on the morning of Tuesday, June 1, 1937 with a shiny patch of metal where the window had been.

Researchers found the piece in 1991, but had not identified the piece to the plane until comparing it to a Lockheed Electra aircraft in Wichita Air Services in Newtown, Kansas.  The rivet pattern and other features on the Nikumaroro artifact, labeled Artifact 2-2-V-1, matched the patch and lined up with the structural components of the Lockheed Electra, TIGHAR said on its website.

The patch found in the Pacific was a “complex fingerprint of dimensions, proportions, materials and rivet patterns as unique to Earhart’s Electra as a fingerprint is to an individual,” according to TIGHAR.

After the pilot and plane disappeared on July 2, 1937, a wide array of conspiracy theories sprouted.  This new discovery debunks any theory that Earhart and Fred Noonan, her navigator, made it across the Pacific Ocean.

TIGHAR hypothesized that the duo made a forced emergency landing along the smooth flat coral reef of Nikumaroro after their fuel supply ran out 350 miles before
their next pit stop on Howland Island.  

The two likely died as castaways with limited resources.  Other evidence also supports this account of what happened.

The breakthrough would prove that, contrary to what was generally believed, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, did not crash in the Pacific Ocean or were taken prisoner by Japanese military forces as spies.

In 10 archaeological expeditions to Nikumaroro, Gillespie and his team uncovered a number of artifacts which, combined with archival research, provide strong circumstantial evidence for a castaway presence.

“Earhart sent radio distress calls for at least five nights before the Electra was washed into the ocean by rising tides and surf,” Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, said

“This is the first time an artifact found on Nikumaroro has been shown to have a direct link to Amelia Earhart,” Gillespie said. 

“The many fractures, tears, dents and gouges found on this battered sheet of aluminum may be important clues to the fate and resting place of the Electra.”

Previous research on a photograph of Nikumaroro’s western shoreline taken three months after Earhart’s disappearance also revealed an unexplained object protruding from the water on the fringing reef.

Forensic imaging analyses of the photo suggested that the shape and dimension of the object are consistent with the landing gear of a Lockheed Electra.

Moreover, an “anomaly” that might possibly be the wreckage of Amelia Earhart’s aircraft emerged from analysis of the sonar imagery captured off Nikumaroro during TIGHAR’s last expedition.

The object rests at a depth of 600 feet at the base of a cliff just offshore where, according to TIGHAR, the Electra was washed into the ocean. An analysis of the anomaly by Ocean Imaging Consultants, Inc. of Honolulu, experts in post-processing sonar data, revealed the anomaly to be the right size and shape to be the fuselage of Earhart’s aircraft.

The organization will now travel to Nikumaroro in 2015 to conduct further exploration in the area searching for other pieces of Earhart’s wreckage.  TIGHAR believes that partial remains of the Electra are likely buried deep off the west end of the island and will investigate the anomaly with Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) technology.

During the 24-day expedition, divers will search for other wreckage at shallower depths and an onshore search team will seek to identify objects detected in historical photographs that may be relics of an initial survival camp.

“Funding is being sought, in part, from individuals who will make a substantial contribution in return for a place on the expedition team,” Gillespie said.

The mystery as to what happened to Amelia may soon be at hand.

~Via LA Post, My Way, Fox News, Vimeo, TIGHAR

 

 

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Jordanne

 

“Just Be the Person You Were Born to Be

…And Live On”

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Meet Jordanne Whiley. 

She’s the 22-year-old Grand Slam tennis champion of Britain.  Four times.  And she’s broken her legs 26 times.

She is Britain’s youngest ever National women’s singles champion in wheelchair tennis at the tender age of 14.

The Paralympic bronze medalist recently took a silver medal at the World Team Cup in Netherlands.  She and Japanese partner Yui Kamiji triumphed in the women’s doubles at the French Open.  Jordanne and the Great Britain team came away with three medals from the World Team Cup, beating the USA 2-1 to take the gold.  And she’s won Wimbledon. 

Born with the degenerative disease of Osteogenesis imperfecta, as does her father, Keith, she began playing tennis as a very young girl.  And she’s never looked back nor allowed her disability to define her or interfere with an intense spirit to win, as Zak Razvi’s short film, Jordanne, above shows.

Aside from her extreme focus on tennis– with training sessions three times a day– she enjoys studying languages, speaks French and Dutch, and has aspirations to coach abroad someday once she has finished competing.

Her injuries have been frustrating and presented challenging setbacks for her, but she refuses to toss in the racket and quit.  Her competitive drive and human spirit to be the best athlete that she can be just won’t allow her to do that.

“I’ve struggled a bit this year because of injuries and I haven’t played as many tournaments as I would have liked to do,” Jordanne said. 

“It’s disappointing– but I will do all I can to make sure I’m ready for the next tournament.”

Her champion advice for herself and others?

“I’m not ashamed to say I’ve got a lot of flaws, but can’t change it, so get on with it.  I just feel that you were the person you were born to be …and live on.”

 

 

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Sexting and Kids

 

Why Do Kids Sext?

 

**VIDEO**

 

An Excerpt from Hanna Rosin
For The Atlantic Monthly

 

 

The following excerpt by Hanna Rosin for the The Atlantic Monthly
looks into one recent scandal and reveals how kids think about sexting–
and what parents and police should do about it.

 

It was late on a school night, so Jennifer’s kids were already asleep when she got a phone call from a friend of her 15-year-old daughter, Jasmine.

“Jasmine is on a Web page and she’s naked.”

Jennifer woke Jasmine, and throughout the night, the two of them kept getting texts from Jasmine’s friends with screenshots of the Instagram account.  It looked like a porn site—shot after shot of naked girls—only these were real teens, not grown women in pigtails. Jennifer recognized some of them from Jasmine’s high school.

And there, in the first row, was her daughter, “just standing there, with her arms down by her sides,” Jennifer told me.  “There were all these girls with their butts cocked, making pouty lips, pushing their boobs up, doing porny shots, and you’re thinking, Where did they pick this up?  And then there was Jasmine in a fuzzy picture looking awkward.” (The names of all the kids and parents in this story have been changed to protect their privacy.)

You couldn’t easily identify her, because the picture was pretty dark, but the connection had been made anyway.

“OMG no f?ing way that’s Jasmine,” someone had commented under her picture.  “Down lo ho,” someone else answered, meaning one who flies under the radar, because Jasmine was a straight-A student who played sports and worked and volunteered and was generally a “goody-goody two shoes,” her mom said.  She had long, silky hair and doe eyes and a sweet face that seemed destined for a Girl Scouts pamphlet, not an Instagram account where girls were called out as hos or thots (thot stands for “that ho over there”).

That night, in March of this year, Jennifer tried to report the account to Instagram’s privacy-and-safety center, hoping it would get taken down.  She asked several friends to fill out the “report violations” page too, but after a few hours, the account was still up.  (Instagram’s help center recommends contacting local authorities in cases of serious abuse.)

She considered calling 911, but this didn’t seem like that kind of emergency.  So she waited until first thing the next morning and called a local deputy sheriff who serves as the school resource officer, and he passed the message on to his superior, Major Donald Lowe.

Over the years, Lowe had gotten calls from irate parents whose daughters’ naked pictures had popped up on cellphones, usually sent around by an angry boyfriend after a breakup.   But he immediately realized that this was a problem of a different order.

Investigation into the Instagram account quickly revealed two other, similar accounts with slightly different names.  Between them, the accounts included about 100 pictures, many of girls from the local high school, Louisa County High, in central Virginia.  

Some shots Lowe later described to me as merely “inappropriate,” meaning girls “scantily clad in a bra and panties, maybe in a suggestive pose.”  But some “really got us”—high-school girls masturbating, and then one picture showing a girl having sex with three boys at once…

…A brief excerpt, you can read Ms. Rosin’s full article
in the
The Atlantic Monthly here.

 

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Touchable Memories

 

Seeing Eyes, Helping Hands,
 and Winning Hearts

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

If you were blind, how would you “see” a photo?

This is how.

The third dimension can be the critical bridge for the visually impaired — the difference between the flat, indistinct, and illusive surface and the tactile one that provides an alternative to sight.

In a poignant mini-documentary produced by Singapore-based 3D printer company Pirate 3D, five visually impaired people are given the gift of preserved memories via 3D prints of photographs or images that have a personal meaning to each.

Directed by Brazilian filmmaker Marco AslanTouchable Memories features short snippets of five very different people, all of whom are blind — some since birth.

One is Gabor, a filmmaker.  He lost his sight about twelve years ago, but resumed making films despite the obvious impediments.  His first project after returning to filmmaking was a short movie shot in Bolivia.  His memory is a still image from the movie of an elderly woman seated alone in a room.  “I know all the room’s details in my mind but I cannot see it,” says Gabor.  The 3D-printed “memory” he receives is like a small diorama, a box with the top and front open.  Inside sits a stout, elderly woman in heavy garments.  Two of the box’s sides are pierced by windows and a small table under one window.

Mario, an Italian, is a musician.  In the documentary, he explains that music connects him with others in a very personal way.   He’s seen performing in a subway passage, and then is presented with his “memory.”  It’s a 3D print of his first CD cover, designed by a close friend who’s a graphic designer.  The lavish design is meant to describe the energy of his music.  There are two representations of Mario himself in the 3D piece along with musical instruments — his guitar, a tambourine, a xylophone.

Meritxell from Barcelona has been blind since birth.  She explains in the film that it’s a tremendous source of frustration for her not to be able to remember memories as most people do via photographs.  An array of Meritxell’s personal photographs appear in the documentary.  The one that’s printed is a photo from her childhood, created for her as a sculpture of two small figures.   She stands with her cousin; the two wearing festive, pointed caps at the carnival they attended together.

Yassine, also blind since birth, lost his father when he was five years old.  In the film, he’s given a 3D printed sculpture:  a father tossing his son high into the air.  Yassine is able to recall playing with his father, who would call him “my little bird” when they played.  It was a memory made tangible.

Daniela works with people with special needs.  She says, “If I can touch the picture, it brings all emotions to life,” reflecting on the differences between memories for a sighted and blind person.  Her 3D-printed “memory” is from a family ski trip; she, her older brother and her parents pose for a family portrait wearing their skiing gear.  “This creates a whole sensation, because I can really recall that moment,” she says as she lightly touches the figures, “it’s something that’s there forever.”

As each of the five individuals is presented with their 3D printed memories, they examine them slowly and gently with fingertips carefully touching every surface.  

The scenes and their reactions are emotional — brief, and with tremendous impact.

~Via Pirate3d/3D Design, Marco Aslan, Vimeo

 

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Passing Time

 

It Changes with Age

 

**Award-Winning VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

We thought we’d bring you a pleasant little diversion and video this fine Sunday.

It was only 40 seconds into the short film Snooze Time, yet this marvelous piece
smartly captured our attention.

With words like this, how can one not be captivated:

“It’s funny isn’t it?  The older you get, the more time plays tricks on you.  When you’re young, it’s no big deal.  There are just different kinds of time.  Like snooze time…”

 

Written by Matthew Harris and directed by Ivan Barge, Snooze Time
is a short film that follows a couple from the start of their relationship
to the eventual demise of it.

Overall, it is quite a simple narrative to follow, yet the way it’s shot and the finer details going into it really highlights the emotional depth of the story.

Director Ivan Barge says that it was important to him that “All the art elements tell a story. Alone they were meaningless, but together they signposted the road ahead.”

Have a good Sunday, keeping time and the road ahead in mind.

 

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Fighting Ebola, Street by Street

 

Shortage of Ambulances and Help
 for Liberia’s Ebola Victims

 

New York Times **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Ambulance work in Liberia is a busy and lonely business.

Racing along cracked and bumpy roads here, Gordon Kamara shouted into his cellphone over the shrieking sirens of his ambulance.  The phone had been ringing nonstop since 5 a.m.

“Not today!  Not today!” Mr. Kamara, an ambulance nurse, yelled.  “We are on the opposite side of town!”

The calls have all been the same in recent weeks:  from friends, friends of friends, extended family, complete strangers.  All of them have loved ones sick with Ebola and beg him to come quickly.  Seven days a week, Mr. Kamara and his crew span Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, in a donated, old American ambulance — with California license plates still attached.

“It never stops,” said Mr. Kamara, getting another call the moment he hangs up.

The 15 or so ambulance teams bolting around the city have had many days of hard choices like this.  Hundreds of new Ebola cases are reported each week in Monrovia, with many more never accounted for.  And over the course of the epidemic, only a small percentage of them have ever made it to a hospital.

“We see it flow through the communities;  first one, then many,” Mr. Kamara said.  “The map is being painted red with the virus.”

To confront the spread of Ebola, some community groups have stepped in, motivated by altruism, desperation and, in some cases, political opportunism.

In some neighborhoods, teams of volunteers fan out to track victims and educate households on staving off the virus, though their pockets are so shallow that they often do not have enough supplies, like chlorine, to thwart the epidemic’s advance.

Mr. Kamara does not work for the government.  He does not even have a dispatcher to tell him where to go, or which patients to pick up.  Instead, his team is financed by an opposition member of Parliament, Saah H. Joseph, who imported two used American ambulances to Monrovia this year.

Mr. Joseph claims to bankroll the operation on his meager government salary, and he deployed the ambulances even before Ebola overran this city.  It was a way of shoring up Monrovia’s tattered health system — and of making a name for himself.

There is little question that the city has long suffered a major ambulance shortage.  And since the epidemic struck, other independent ambulance teams have sprung up, adding a few more vehicles to what is still a tiny fleet in this sprawling city of nearly 1.5 million people.

At the end of a recent 15-hour shift, Mr. Kamara took his final patient of the night, a 17-year-old girl, to an Ebola treatment center.  Wrought with fever, she had stripped off her clothes in the back of the ambulance and fallen off the stretcher, lying twisted and barely conscious on the floor.

“If she does not get treatment, she will die,” Mr. Kamara said.

But as soon as they arrived, he and his team were turned away.  All the beds were full.  The center, meant to house 50 patients, was packed with 85.

 “We could either leave her on the ground to die, or return her to die at home,” Mr. Kamara said.  “There’s no hope here.  We try our best.  But we cannot do more than we can do.”

In recent days, the flow of patients, somewhat inexplicably, seems to have slowed, and beds are suddenly available in some places.  

But the current ebb is a rare — and not entirely trusted — respite from the typical frenzy.  Most days, Mr. Kamara and his team work from sunrise to long past sunset, often sleeping in the ambulance for rest.  On a slow day, he has ferried 10 to 15 new patients from their homes to Ebola treatment centers.  On a busy day, the number has been between 20 and 30.

“When there are beds at the centers, we can do our work,” Mr. Kamara said.  “When there aren’t, we must sit and wait,” he added, explaining that his ambulance would sometimes wait outside a hospital for hours, with a patient
in the back, until a treatment slot opened up.

Mr. Kamara is no stranger to suffering.  More than a decade ago, he worked as a combat medic during Liberia’s civil war.

“It is nothing compared to this,” he said.  “The bullets you can get away from.  Ebola is hidden within our own families.”

Last month, he received news of an uncle falling ill.  He rushed to the hospital to help, only to be turned away by workers there.

“Nobody knows who is alive or who is dead in here!” Mr. Kamara shouted.  “I would go treat him myself if they let me.  I just want to protect my family.”

He takes many precautions at home.  With his constant exposure to the virus, he sleeps in a separate house from his six children to prevent them from getting sick.  In the past five months, he has seen them only a few times.

“It’s a very lonely virus,” Mr. Kamara said.  “Not just for me, but for the entire country.  We are all together, but all alone.”

As he returned the 17-year-old girl to her home, Mr. Kamara explained to her brother why they had brought her back.

“We didn’t want to leave her outside and alone,” he said. “We will come back to pick her up tomorrow in the morning and try again.”

Her brother calmly accepted the news.  He thanked the ambulance crew for trying, and opened the door as they carried her limp body inside the house.

She died the next morning, before the ambulance team could
return.

~Via New York Times/Vimeo

 

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Because ‘I Got High’

 

Driving a Stoned Sofa

 

**VIRAL VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Afroman’s old novelty song has taken on a whole new toke.

The simple little tune once sluggishly lamented the lethargy and uselessness of weed consumption.  But it’s been given a rework to promote the legalization of marijuana. 

Now, I Got High (Positive Remix) lists the healing qualities of weed– ranging from the treatment of glaucoma to staving urges to consume booze, cigarettes and Xanax– while also pointing out legalization benefits to society, mellowing out some criminal activity, and underscoring how amusing it is to drive a sofa on the streets

The remix of the 2001 track is a collaboration with online community Weedmaps and marijuana reform campaign NORML in the run-up for votes taking place in November in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia to decide on the legalization of marijuana, while Florida will decide on a medical marijuana amendment.

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Afroman described how the original song, which landed him a record deal and a Grammy nomination, might be a tool to influence the forthcoming reform.

“Getting high– and rapping about it– got me to where I am today and I’ll be forever grateful for that,” he said.

“With the current political battle of states trying to legalize weed, I thought it was a good time to educate– or set the record straight– about marijuana’s benefits, which is why I wanted to remake the song.”

Afroman’s original single was lifted from the album of the same name and became a huge hit.  It was picked up by the stoner flick Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and hit No. 1 in nine countries.

While the controversial promotion of weed via song has a long lineage in the music world, this pro-marijuana remix comes stoking on the heels of Pharrell Williams and Snoop Dogg’s recent track for corporate-branded marijuana which appears in a video for Kurupt’s Moon Rock and sold at some medical cannabis dispensaries in California.

Afroman’s positive take on cannabis has apparently hit a chord:  the above video scored 2.2 million views on YouTube in 3 days.

And to note, 23 states have legalized medical marijuana thus far. 

Nonetheless, we don’t advocate driving sofas under the influence, whatsoever.

 

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Glow in the Dark Skiing

 

Let There Be Light

 

Award-Winning **VIDEO**

 

Skippy Massey
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

Show us your silver lining– and make it glow.

Shot on location at the Golden Alpine Holidays Sentry Lodge, Alyeska Resort, and the Alaskan Wilderness, Afterglow is a short and surreal night ski film.

There’s illuminated deep powder, massive pillows, Alaskan spines, dark canyons, and some twistedly dank glow-in-the-dark moves and jump-offs.  It was all filmed at night with massive lights, custom made 7,600-piece LED lightsuits, and a ton of logistics, planning, and engineering to make it happen.

It’s the first ski flick shot completely in the dark, with a rainbow of colors lighting up powdery runs throughout the backcountry of Alaska and British Columbia.  See it on the largest screen you have.

Filmed as a partnership between Sweetgrass Productions, Philips TV, and the Swedish Agency Ahlstrand & Wållgren, Afterglow is two parts creativity, one part content, and a pinch of cool and spooky scenes thrown in for good measure.

Overall, it’s an incredibly unique film combining a different vision of skiing with the color and light technology of the Philips Company.

If you want to see the full 12-minute version, you can find it here
If surfing is more your thing, try this.

 

 

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My Life As A Carny

 

The Corn Dog Summer on the Road

 

**VIDEO**

 

Harry Payne
Humboldt Sentinel

 

 

It was one big juggling act.

We were coming off our first winter out West.  My buddy Brad finally made it back from Bend a couple weeks later and was seeking gainful employment, too.

Mom and Dad ran into some old friends from Michigan:  Butch and Petunia.

Butch, a barrel-chested, fast talkin’ rabble rouser; sorta famous for tearin’ the hell out of that little town and making all the concerned father’s shit-lists.  Petunia straightened Butch out, and they were slowly growing their amusement business.

They had a couple of food carts and rented out some space in a small, Mid-Michigan-based traveling carnival.  They were looking for a couple of nice young bucks to man their pizza and food wagon, across the way from their lemonade/corn dog wagon.

I spoke with Butch and we agreed on $250 cash, per weekend.  That sounded really good.  $250 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, under the table.  Adventures.  Carny chicks.  

Not bad, and, I’d get a truck to drive for the summer.  I accepted and got Brad hired, too.

There was a lot of ‘jockeying of equipment’ moving from event to event.  Butch and Petunia had a fifth wheel they slept in, so they’d drive down separately, with Petunia towing the lemonade wagon and Butch towing their summer home on wheels.  It took a couple days just to get all the gear to the site and up-n-running.

The final piece to show up was the trailer Brad and I slept in.  Hot and musty, the bathroom smelled of piss and the shower more or less peed lukewarm water on you.  But these were ‘luxury accommodations’ considering the shady and sheisty sleeping quarters for the regular ragtag roster of carnies.

Our day in the wagon consisted of waking up around 9 am, prepping dough, sauce, toppings, and the rest.  Thawing the goods was a crucial step.  We’d make sure the soda was flowing like a river.  

It would always be a long day, every day.  The crowds would show up around 10 am, first couple slices of pie hittin’ the gums around 11 am.  The lights and pizza and food would go down around midnight.

In no time, we were six weeks into the season and humming along.  Man, we hit some ugly little towns.  Our downtime on the road was spent reading, drawing, junkin’ in between, and sweating the nights out in the fifth wheel.

Things weren’t so bad and hell, if anything, the constant traveling was dirty, kinda reckless, and fun.

The carnival’s family hierarchy is broken down systematically.  At the top of the food chain you have the owners.  They own the equipment, book the shows and cut the checks.  The main guy had this perpetual look of disgust and exhaustion on his face; his wife had big blonde hair and lots of gold bling dangling off her buxom chest.

Oh yeah, and a couple of spoiled shit-ass kids running around getting into everything.

Moving right along, the next step down is the food court.  The food vendors rent space from the owners.  If they’re lucky, they’ll build a little empire of fried pig ears and corndogs and have a whole row of wagons set up at any given event.  Butch and Petunia were responsible people with a nice house in some little pleasant town somewhere, a couple of big trucks, and lots of determination and grit to succeed.  For all I knew, they took the winters off due to the riches of summer.

Brad and I—somewhat reluctantly—were part of the “food court” caste.  The worst sweaty weeks spent were selling pizza, corn dogs, curly fries, loose-meat sandwiches, flat bread tacos, corn-on-the-cob, red vines and caramelized apples.  But in our hearts, well, we were pumping carny blood.

The carnies.  Oh man, what a lot.  Rough around the edges, oddly enigmatic, stereotypically undereducated, dirty, colorful, loyal, sunburnt, simple, repressed, and kinda lost, all are descriptions that come to mind.  Some never showered and stunk of stench.  Their faces and strong personalities are ingrained into me forever.

There was this older lady named Agnes who’d lie like a rug. One day she’d have six kids, the next day, seven.  Her husband “Zeke” was this hefty redhead some 20 years her junior with no front teeth, deep-set eyes, a dangling smoke and a big smile to share with everyone.  He’d just nod to all of her lies.

There was another guy who’d get a big Mountain Dew from us each morning with green, rotting teeth.  He’d ask me about living Out West.  I’d ask him about living in Saginaw.  

One time I asked him if he ever planned to fix his teeth.  With a toothy grin and poetic delivery, he said, “Hurts too much to brush ‘em, so I’m just waitin’ for ‘em to fall out!  Ha-ha-haa!”  

And that was that.

There was the erotic vampire novelist who worked the fryer; the old, troll-like man with no teeth who liked to stare at my butt; the U-Haul converted into an apartment others slept in; and showering in the 4-H showers, the same ones the horses are washed in. 

There was also a carny who got pissed at his ex, drove her out into the desert somewhere, and left her there.  We were all hating on her because she was being a drunk crazy bitch– scaring off customers with her brown leathery skin.

Then there was the carny ‘marriage’.  After hours when the park closed, the betrothed couple-to-be would take a few runs up and down on the dinky roller coaster by themselves to consummate their ‘marriage’, much to the amusement and chagrin of the other carnies– the ’witnesses’– watching, drinking, clapping and cheering about in the bleachers.  Don’t ask me more.  You don’t want to know.

Make no mistake.  Carny life is a tough go.  First of all, they don’t get paid shit, and are expected to work long, long hours. 

Some say the men are sleazy perverts, the women tough and catty;  tattooed crackheads and alcoholics and lost souls alike.  I don’t know.  They work hard and wear their hearts of gold on their sleeves.  I do know one guy who smoked 54 cigarettes.  Every eight hour shift.

Set the shit up, run it, tear it down and travel to the next gig.  And that was their summer.  Each night after they shut the fair down, they were allowed a “draw” on their earnings.  The cash was dispersed in an envelope, carefully recorded, and doled out to the eager workers.  Their money often went to smokes, trashy food and beer.

This “draw” business was a calculated part of the relationship between the owners and the carnies.  And man, the whole “draw” thing was one more way to keep them under their thumb and eating out of their hands.  Cuz then when payday would hit, well, they would be taxed for the whole amount and have tiny paychecks.  Plus, they had to rent out sleeping quarters.  The deck was stacked against them in every way:  the work, the hours, the safety issues, the food offered.  Nothing was in their favor.

So we took matters into our own hands. After seeing how much money the wagon made and how fast they made it, I started to “give back” to the people who I felt were taken advantage of.  The carnies had to pay for the food, which, considering how they were treated overall, was complete bullshit.

So a guy would come up to get his daily 50-ouncer of ‘Dew.  It was three bucks.  He’d give me a five dollar bill.  I’d give him a wink, and seven dollars in change.  And so on.  I took it upon myself to give these guys a break, and in the process, won them over.

Now, if anyone messed with us, the carnies would come to our rescue.  I remember some drunk frat fucks messing with us somewhere in the Upper Peninsula and one of the carnies coming over to stand guard by the wagon’s canopy area.  Backup.  Brothers.  It put smiles on their faces and maybe, just maybe, made ‘em feel like someone gave a shit about their plight.

There’s a language, yeah.  And a carny code.  Rules to live by.  Don’t nose into anyone else’s business, don’t screw up anyone else’s hustle, and when the trucks leave the lot all debts are paid.  Band together to protect yourselves, to make a buck, and don’t give ‘em your real name– remember that little disagreement in the last town a few miles away?  And stand by your fellow carnies.

It was one big juggling act.  And things were rolling along just fine.  Until a meltdown changed everything.

It was a late night in Norway, Michigan.  We were busy right up until closing, and being hungry after a long day, we shut the rig down and left without “cleaning up.”

We come back to find Petunia feverishly cleaning up.  We offered to help.  She didn’t reply, visibly miffed, feverishly scrubbing away.

And that’s when Butch showed up, and he went nuts. Accusing us of “not caring anymore.”  I remember him specifically bringing up an incident about the pantyhose.  

At the end of the night, we were “trained” to put a pantyhose on the release drain, and then release the wastewater into the grass or dirt, catch all the crud in the pantyhose, then remove it.  This was against the law as we were supposed to drain the wastewater into a state-sanctioned receptacle.  

So this one night, Brad forgets to remove the pantyhose.  We crash out and the next morning we’re greeted by an official from the Michigan State Health Dept.  Well, Butch got a big fine for that one and was pretty bummed out on us.

Then he started to talk about how, “He oughtta fire us.”  I interrupted him and said, “Nah, you don’t have to do that.  …I quit!”  And man, it stopped him in his tracks.  He went double nuts at this point.

I think I made a point of saying something about how pathetic his “career” was as a fucking corndog huckster or something.  I just remember Brad cautioning me as I unloaded a summer’s worth of disgust on the guy. Fuck him.  We worked hard for them and never lost a sale or turned people away.  We made them a TON of loot and were always there on time.  And this one time when we broke protocol he freaks on us.

So I quit on the spot, and man, it felt good.  I had saved all my summer loot so my Western nest egg was secure.  Then they asked Brad what he was gonna do.  I remember Brad saying, “I’m outta here.  I’m not gonna listen to you talk shit about Harry for the rest of the summer.”  My carny brother had my back.

I remember being outside the owners’ fifth wheel and hearing that little snake-tongued wife say something along the lines of, “I wouldn’t give them a thing.  Get ‘em out of here!” as Butch sought guidance on how to handle our leaving.

And that was it.  We were free.

It was 2 am and we were done.  Stick a fork in us like a baked potato, we were done.  Butch paid us out for the weekend and gave us a hundred bucks for Greyhound tickets.  He recruited this guy with bad hearing and Coke bottle glasses to drive us off the premises and to the next little town where we’d wait the night out until the next bus came through. 

He dropped us off at a 24-hour Laundromat where we caught up on laundry and watched the sunrise. 

The days of the juggling act were over.

Mom and Dad came to our rescue the next morning.

–Thanks: Aaron D., Skippy, Josh, Alicia, Myrtle the Turtle

 

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