Saturday, December 31, 2011

As It Stands Wishes you a Happy New Year and Positive Paths

We all must travel paths that will lead us to crossroads in our lives

Choices to be made challenges to accept

Some of you are on paths to destruction and others to enlightenment

Today we all set out on a new path… 2012

With all of the hopes and fears of prior years

That were full of laughter and bitter tears

Happy New Year’s!


‘May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions’


quote by Joey Adams

Previewing new laws – and new movies - for 2012

    Good Day Humboldt County!

As we prepare to say good bye to 2011 today, I thought a quick glance at some of the many new laws that will go into effect on January 1st, 2012, would be worth the read.

I also threw in some new movies to look forward to in 2012. Enjoy…

New laws toughen rules on abortions, immigrants, voters

About 40,000 state laws taking effect at the start of the new year will change rules about  getting abortions in New Hampshire, learning about gays and lesbians in California, getting jobs in Alabama and even driving golf carts in Georgia. Several federal rules change with the new year, too, including a Social Security increase amounting to $450 a year for the average recipients and stiff fines up to $2,700 per offense for truckers and bus drivers caught using hand-held cellphones while driving.

NBC News, the National Conference of State Legislatures, The Associated Press, and other organizations tracked the changes and offered their views on the highlights. Many laws reflect the nation's concerns over immigration, the cost of government and the best way to protect and benefit young people, including regulations on sports concussions. Jan. 1 is the effective date in many states for laws passed during this year's legislative sessions. In others, laws take effect July 1, or 90 days after passage.

       Movies to look forward to in 2012

The world's supposed to end in 2012, if you believe certain folks. But before it does, there's a boatload of big movies to eagerly anticipate. I tried to pick just one per month, but my resolve quickly fell apart there.

There's plenty of Oscar talk surrounding Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." As an Anglophile as well as a person who doesn't mind getting often-grossly-error-ridden history from movies, I can't wait for this one. The hilarious, though, disagrees, writing, "Can you imagine fast-forwarding through scenes about proper elocution lessons ('King’s Speech' much?) to get to the F***ING FALKLANDS WAR? This makes Ken Burns look like Michael Bay." I'll still be there, Union Jack in hand. (Jan. 13) (Read more here)

Time to walk on down the road…

Friday, December 30, 2011

‘A Bunch of Crock’: A look at the absurdities of our bullshit society

Graphic designer and satirist, Safwat Saleem, concocts a series of retro images and poignant words to highlight the absurdities of our bullshit society. He calls his creation: A Bunch of Crock.












Thanks to Time Soak

A helpful guide: Zombies vs Supermodels in the 21st Century




When sports fans attack, Combat Marine shot stateside, and Babysitter charged with murder

Sharks fans   Good Day Humboldt County!

 Thanks for stopping by. Today’s theme is violence in our society. I’ve selected three current stories that illustrate how much it plays a part in all of our lives.

 No matter where we go, or what we do, or how young or old we are, we all can become victims of random violence…


When Sharks fans attack… A teenager with a brain tumor

Fans behaving badly isn’t anything new these days, but sometimes there are stories that just make you shake your head. One such story concerns 16-year-old Canucks fan in California Maggie Herger. Herger was attacked by a fan during a recent Canucks-Sharks game in San Jose that resulted in her being taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a concussion.

That might not sound so bad until you consider Herger’s recent battle with a benign brain tumor. Attacking a teenager is one thing, but one that’s already dealt with a lot of crap in life? That just makes this whole thing a lot uglier. Fans in California have had a bad  run of late when it comes to doing awful things at sporting events. Bryan Stow was nearly beaten to death at a Giants-Dodgers game in L.A., some fans shot each other after a 49ers-Raiders preseason game plus a stabbing at a Raiders-Chargers game, and now this case.

As Herger told Mike Rosenberg of the Mercury News, ”I was just really disappointed. I didn’t think that hockey fans were as bad as the baseball fans,” she said, recalling the Stow attack, which drew national headlines. “I didn’t think that anyone would physically hurt me.” Sharks fans don’t have that reputation of being jerks the way others do, but having one of your own attack a girl with a brain tumor is a good way to earn a really bad rap.

After surviving combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Karl Trenker came home to Deerfield, Florida and was shot three times. His training probably saved his life.

Babysitter charged with killing, dismembering girl

Image: Mike Plumadore

Prosecutors on Friday charged a babysitter with murder and two other felonies Friday in the bludgeoning and dismemberment of a 9-year-old girl just days before Christmas.

Michael Plumadore, 39, was charged in Fort Wayne with murder, abuse of a corpse and removing a dead body from the scene in the Dec. 22 killing of Aliahna Lemmon.

Time to walk on down the road…

Thursday, December 29, 2011

When people pay for nothing you have to wonder…

A man in China, recently spent $16,000 for a virtual sword on a game that has not even been released yet. "Age of Wulin," by California-based company Snail Games, has not even been released on mainland China but that isn't stopping some from spending serious cash on the game.

The game is a role-playing one that is set in ancient China and is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, or better known as MMORPGs.

article source

How a tooth got stuck in one man’s foot, and a man lives 80 years with bullet in his skull

                Good day Humboldt County!

Welcome to my humble abode/blog. Today I’ve got a couple of stories about unusual wounds. Sometimes people suffer weird injuries that they miraculously survive from, and then there are those with (shall we say) unusual wounds. Do you know of any incidents of wounds that would qualify as weird or miraculously? If so, please share them here. 

How a tooth got lodged in some guy's foot

Not much good can happen when you send a bare foot smashing into someone's jaw. But during a summer beach brawl, a kick to the face caused one man to get part of his opponent's tooth stuck in his right foot.

Published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery, this case is the first to report a tooth "traumatically implanted in the foot." The case describes a 29-year-old Croatian man who came to the hospital emergency room complaining of swelling and severe pain in his right foot. At first, he claimed he had stepped on a piece of glass while walking on the beach.

The man had a wound on the sole of is right foot in the gap of skin between his third and fourth toe. When doctors x-rayed the foot, they didn't find a shard of glass but saw "an opaque object" that resembled a human tooth. So, they questioned the patient again and this time he came clean.

He admitted that two weeks earlier he had been involved in a fight with another guy on the beach. He had been wearing flip-flops but they flew off during the scuffle as he kicked his opponent in the jaw with his right foot. That strike to the jaw broke off one of his opponent's teeth, which then embedded itself beneath the man's right foot. (Photo)

Engineer lived with bullet in his head for 8 decades

When a Russian man was only 3, his older brother accidentally shot him with a pistol. More than eight decades later, the bullet was still there, according to a case report just published online in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The bullet hit the little boy right below the nose and eventually lodged itself in his foramen magnum, the opening in the bottom of the skull that allows the spinal cord to pass through and connect to the brain. The 3-year-old lost consciousness for several hours. At the time, a doctor examined the poor kid, but didn't remove the bullet for fear of causing more harm than good, says Dr. Marat Ezhov of Moscow's Cardiology Research Center, who examined the patient more than 80 years later. Incredibly, the boy recovered completely.

Time to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Do you know what’s causing the waves in California to glow?

Bioluminescent waves in California

It looks like something from the movie "Avatar": ocean waters that light up like neon glow sticks when they splash. Beaches across southern California have recently been alight with eerie, glowing waves. What could be causing such an otherworldly phenomenon?

A recent report by Discovery News has provided an answer. According to marine biologist Jorge Ribas, the glowing is caused by a massive red tide, or algae bloom, of bioluminescent phytoplankton called Lingulodinium polyedrum. The microorganisms emit light in response to stress, such as when a wave crashes into the shore, a surfboard slashes through the surf, or a kayaker's paddle splashes the water. The result is a wickedly cool glowing ocean.  Photo: msauder/Flickr

Five top science journal retractions, and ‘Dino-chickens’ for pets

                  Hello Humboldt County!

Good day to you. I’m going to quit saying good morning,  because my posts of late, have been made in the afternoon. Maybe it’s a sign. Time for change.

With a new year around the corner, changes are inevitable. To make these changes, and to survive another year full of question marks, I’ve written up a Survival Guide for 2012. Look for it in this Sunday’s Times-Standard.

Here’s today’s offerings: 

     Top science journal retractions of 2011

Bad science papers can have lasting effects. Consider the 1998 paper in the journal the Lancet that linked autism to the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. That paper was fully retracted in 2010 upon evidence that senior author Andrew Wakefield had manipulated data and breached several proper ethical codes of conduct.

Each year hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles are retracted. Most involve no blatant malfeasance; the authors themselves often detect errors and retract the paper. Some retractions, however, as documented on the blog Retraction Watch, entail plagiarism, false authorship or cooked data.

No journal is safe from retractions, from the mighty "single-word-title" journals such as Nature, Science and Cell, to the myriad minor, esoteric ones. Here are the top five examples:

#1: Chronic fatigue syndrome is caused by a virus.

#2: Litter breeds crime and discrimination.

#3: Treat appendicitis with antibiotics, not surgery.

#4: Butterfly meets worm, falls in love, and has caterpillars.

#5: Los Angeles marijuana dispensaries lead to drop in crime.


Image: Rooster.

Dino-chicken: Wacky but serious science idea of 2011

Paleontologist Jack Horner’s newest idea takes iconoclasm to a new level. He wants, in short, to hatch a dinosaur.

Use the living dinosaurs among us to recreate creatures dead for millions of years. Anyone who's seen "Jurassic Park" knows that birds are dinosaurs, part of the evolutionary line containing those toothy Velociraptors.

LiveScience talked with Horner about his "chickenosaurus" plan and what sort of dinosaur he'd like to keep as a pet. [ Infographic: How to Make a Dino-Chicken ]

Time to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One for the cynics…

 Originally titled “Even God has a sense of humor”, this photo shows a horrible aftermath of a location devastated by heavy floods.

Cynics among you will spot it immediately, while for the rest it will take few moments before they can see it.



via Mighty Optical Illusions


Tea Party Pol Calls for Killing Obama Family

Tea Party Pol Calls for Killing Obama Family

In another of the long line of racist comments directed at President Obama and his family, a wannabe Tea Party politician and supporter of Ron Paul called for the assassination of the first family.

Jules Manson, who fell flat on his face when running for California City Council years ago, went on a Facebook rant that makes Rush Limbaugh's and Matt Drudge's comments about the Obamas look mild. "It must be countered with assassinations onto them and their children," he wrote in the original posting, which has since been scrubbed from his Facebook profile.

"Assassinate the f----n (N-word) and his monkey children," he prodded, according to a screen grab obtained by

An angry backlash followed on Facebook, and Manson apologized for his words but defended his right to speak freely. "Once you have taken the position that anyone should be imprisoned for careless emotionally driven remarks that had no real substance, you deserve what your government has become," he wrote in the new Facebook post.

This isn't the first time Manson attacked Obama: He put up a picture of the president dressed as Hitler earlier in the year.

Read more at the Daily News.

Have we met before? and new ‘Museum of Clean’ ready to shine

       Good Afternoon Humboldt County!

 Forgive me if you stopped by this morning and didn’t find anything new. I got a late start today. I think the holidays are catching up to me. I do have hot chocolate and cold beverages so feel free to share some with me while you check out today’s offerings:   


      Tracing the origins of face blindness

Close your eyes. Picture your closest friend. Maybe you see her blue eyes, long nose, brown hair. Perhaps even her smile. If you saw her walking down the street it would match your imagined vision. But what if you saw nothing at all?

James Cooke, 66, of Islip, N.Y., can’t recognize other people. When he meets someone on the street, he offers a generic “hello” because he can’t be sure if he’s ever met that person before. “I see eyes, nose, cheekbones, but no face,” he said. “I’ve even passed by my son and daughter without recognizing them.”

He is not the only one. Those with prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness, can see perfectly well, but their brains are unable to piece together the information needed to understand that a collection of features represents an individual’s face. The condition is a neurological mystery, but new research has shed light on this strange malady.

One of the keys to understanding face recognition, it seems, is understanding how the brain comes to recognize voices. Some scientists had believed that faces and voices, the two main ways people recognize one another, were processed separately by the brain. Indeed, a condition parallel to prosopagnosia, called phonagnosia, similarly leaves a person unable to distinguish a familiar voice from an unfamiliar one.

Idaho man's Museum of Clean ready to shine

Don Aslett may be more than a half century into his fight against dirt and clutter, but he still can't take a stroll without bending to pick up litter from the sidewalk.

As a child, he can remember cringing at the site of spilled coffee grounds and in high school, finding it strange the other boys didn't like to clean their rooms. Even now at the age of 76, his battle against grit and grime has yet to relent.

Those who may not understand his devotion, he reasons, have likely never felt the satisfaction of making a toilet bowl shine. "I'll tell you, clean is a hard sell," said Aslett, who has written 37 books on the topic and founded a janitorial business with branches in most states and Canada.

While mothers may threaten their kids with having to clean their rooms as punishment, Aslett knew he was different from an early age. "I love to clean," he said with a shrug.And now, he has a six-story shrine dedicated to his craft — the Museum of Clean — that recently opened to the public in southeastern Idaho.

Among the exhibits: A horse-drawn vacuum dating back to 1902 ( see graphic above); a collection of several hundred pre-electric vacuum cleaners; a Civil War-era operating table; a 1,600-year-old bronze pick that was used to clean teeth, and an antique Amish foot bath.

Time to walk on down the road…

Monday, December 26, 2011

Researcher says that medieval knights may have had PTSD


Medieval knights may have had PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder. Often portrayed as courageous and cold-hearted killers, knights were human, too.

In movies, medieval knights are portrayed as courageous and loyal heroes who will fight to the death without fear or regret. In reality, the lives of knights were filled with a litany of stresses much like those that modern soldiers deal with.

They were often sleep-deprived, exhausted and malnourished. They slept outside on hard ground, fully exposed to whatever weather befell them. And their lives were full of horror and carnage as they regularly killed other men and watched their friends die.

Faced with the trauma inherent in a life of combat, according to a new look at ancient texts, medieval knights sometimes struggled with despair, fear, powerlessness and delusions. Some may have even suffered from post-traumatic stress or related disorders, argues a Danish researcher, just as their modern-day counterparts do. (Read more here)

When tattoos aren't nearly enough, and a 1941 Fruit cake sold for $525

          Good Morning Humboldt County!

How are you this morning? C’mon in and have a cup of hot coffee with me. Are you going to be one of the thousands of post Christmas shoppers today? Many Americans have today off and retailers are trying to cash in one more time before the year ends.

As for me…I’m content to stay at home and relax. Whatever you decide to do, make it a good day.

      When tattoos aren’t nearly enough

In some primitive cultures, beauty and status are displayed via large holes in the earlobe from which to hang heavy ornaments or to insert jewels or tokens, and BBC News reported in November that an "increasing" number of counterculture Westerners are getting their lobes opened far beyond routine piercing, usually by gradually stretching but sometimes with a hole-punch tool for immediate results. The hard core are "gauge kings (or queens)," showing a "commitment" to the lifestyle by making holes up to 10 mm (three-eighths inch) wide. (Cosmetic surgeons told BBC News in November that they're already preparing procedures for the inevitable wave of regretted decisions.) [BBC News, 11-21-2011]

           1941 Fruit Cake Sold for $525

A 1941 fruitcake has sold for $525 to an Arizona man in an Ohio company’s online auction, and the money will go to the homeless in southwest Ohio.

Elite Estate Group sold the cake in an auction on its website. Company owner Larry Chaney says the man, who wanted to remain anonymous, probably bought the cake as an investment.

Chaney says he doubts anyone would eat a 70-year-old fruitcake even though it was vacuum packed and contained rum that probably helped preserve it.The cake was made in 1941 by The Kroger Co. It was returned unopened to a Kroger store in 1971. The manager took it home and kept it until recently when his son was helping him get rid of some things and gave the cake to Chaney.

Time to walk on down the road…

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I wish you a Merry Christmas and memorable traditions

        By Dave Stancliff/For The Times Standard
Christmas traditions.
Sometimes solemn. Sometimes silly. Always special.
Presents for my two sisters, brother, and me always appeared under the tree on Christmas morning. Never before.
On Christmas Eve we each got to open a present. Without fail, it was pajamas for all of us. Santa always wanted us to look good on Christmas morning. He also didn’t want us poking and prodding presents to see what they were until that magic morning.
My mother, never one who liked surprises, always opened her Christmas presents while the rest of the family were supposedly sleeping, then carefully re-wrapped them. We were all wise to that game but never said anything. Sorry Mom; I had to share your touching little holiday habit.
In the winter of 1979 my wife and I wanted to start a new tradition. Cutting down a real Christmas tree. Both of us were raised in the city and the only Christmas trees we saw were for sale on wooden stands in corner parking lots.

 We went with another couple who were longtime residents of Humboldt County, to a thick strand of trees on the side of a mountain on Highway 299. We took our three young sons, who eagerly anticipated the new experience of cutting down a tree for Christmas.
It was cold and snow blanketed the ground. And the tree tops. My wife, sons and I went in one direction, and our friends the other. We agreed to meet back at the pickup trucks. The crisp wind made me wish I’d remembered my gloves, but I didn’t let that dampen my spirits.
My little family was out in the woods on an adventure and I felt pretty good about it. The boys and my wife plowed through snow drifts with laughter that never seemed to stop. What a day. The stuff memories are made of.
 After a free-for-all snow fight, we walked around until we found the right tree. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Christmas Vacation” there’s a part where Clark cuts down a monstrous tree that barely fit in their house. I did not make that mistake.
 The tree we selected would easily fit into our little house. It was on a steep incline, but no problem. I  cautioned my family to step back. It was time for the man of the house to take care of business.

Despite my friend’s advice, I had not brought a full sized ax to cut down the tree. Instead, I had a recently purchased hatchet, and was confident of my ability to get things done with it. I was just cutting down a spruce, not a Redwood!
  There were a few things working against me as I peeled off my jacket and took up an awkward stance in preparation for the assault. The tree stood on a steep hill. I missed my first mighty swing and rolled a short way down the hill! I jumped up instantly as my concerned family looked on.
“Just playing around,” I joked and trudged back up to the tree whistling “Silent Night.” My hands were really cold by now so I wanted to make short work of the job. On my next swing the sharp hatchet bit into the bark with a satisfying thunk.

 I swung again, suddenly confident, and the hatchet glanced off the tree and struck my left shin with a sickening smack! My wife and the boys were at an angle that prevented them from seeing where the second swing landed. I gritted my teeth and felt real stupid as I smiled down at them and tried to staunch the blood with a handful of snow.

 They all looked so innocent. So trusting of my abilities, that I knew I had to conceal the wound. At least until we got home and I could take my dear wife aside and get some medical attention.
  I stood on one leg and one knee hacking away like a man possessed. The tree couldn’t withstand my ruthless attack for long. It finally fell over and slowly slid down the hill. I pulled it over to the truck as my wide-eyed sons babbled happily. With my friend’s help we hefted it into the back of the truck.
 No one noticed my bloody shin in all the excitement and I managed to drive back to the house with my secret intact. Afterward my wife treated the deep cut (right to the bone) on my shin between fits of laughter. We agreed not to share what happened, but the story came out the following year when we didn’t cut a tree for Christmas and our sons wondered why.
  As It Stands, sometimes traditions are short-lived, but none the less memorable. Merry Christmas to you from the Stancliff family!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Special Report:What kids around the world feed Santa

 Good Morning Humboldt County!

Here we are the day before  Christmas. C’mon inside and have a hot cup of coffee with me and see what Santa get’s to eat tonight. I even have cookies for us this morning! 

As a child, did you ever wonder whether Santa got tired of eating the same thing at each house he visited? Turns out, you needn’t have worried: though American and Canadian children leave out milk and cookies, the treats left out for him in other countries keep Santa’s night from being anything but monotonous. Here’s a look at what Santa (in whatever form he takes) can expect at houses around the world on Christmas eve.

On Christmas Eve, Danish children leave out a bowl of special Christmas rice pudding called risengrød. The pudding is said to appease Tomte, a white-bearded mythical figure, similar to the English Father Christmas, who brings presents but has been known to cause household mischief if his requisite bowl of risengrød is missing.

In Germany, Santa can only satisfy his appetite for reading. Children there leave letters, not cookies, for Santa (who in Germany takes the form of Christkind, a white-robed, present-bearing figure from which “Kris Kringle” is derived). The letters are usually doused with glitter and attractively displayed on the windowsills. On Christmas morning, when the children wake up, the letters are gone, replaced by presents under the tree.

In France, children don’t leave cookies for the French Père Noël, but instead make sure to fill their shoes with carrots and treats for his donkey, Gui. Père Noël will remove the treats for the donkey and in their place leave small trinkets and tokens for the children.

Dutch children leave out carrots, hay and a bowl of water on Christmas Eve for Sinterklaas’ horse. Sinterklaas, in return, leaves hot chocolate, mandarin oranges, chocolate coins and marzipan figures. Not a bad trade.

Britain and Australia
The Australians and Brits figure Santa needs something a little heartier than milk and cookies to sustain him through his big night, so children leave out sherry and mince pies. The traditional Christmastime treats are made with sweet, sticky fruit and brandy, and baked into bite-sized pies.

Santa can expect more mince pies when he gets to Ireland, but there he’ll get to wash it down with some Guinness, which Irish families traditionally leave out for him on Christmas Eve. And after a long night of hard work, Santa definitely deserves it.

In Chile, Viejo Pascuero (Old Man Christmas) is greeted with a traditional Chilean pan de pascua, a sponge cake flavored with ginger and honey and full of candied fruit.

Other Christmas Eve eats around the world
Not all cultures set aside food for Santa on Christmas Eve, but if he gets hungry on his long trip, here’s a look at what he can expect in other parts of the world.

Children don’t traditionally leave food out for Christmas Baba in India, but they do make Christmas treats called kulkuls, which are sweet balls of fried dough made from coconut milk. Want to make your own? Get the recipe here.

In Japan, children can snack on a traditional Japanese Christmas cake, a white sponge cake covered with cream and decorated with strawberries, while waiting for the arrival of the Santa-like Hotei-Osho.

Filipino children go to bed on Christmas Eve dreaming not of sugarplums but of the traditional nochabuena Christmas meal, which involves queso de bola (a ball of Edam cheese) and tsokolate (a hot-chocolate type drink).

A Kenyan child might save lucky Santa a bit of roasted goat, which is the traditional Kenyan Christmas Eve repast.

And if Santa gets thirsty on his trek through Argentina, he can duck into the kitchen for some sidra, an alcoholic apple cider that’s traditionally used to toast on Christmas Eve.

What kind of food did you leave out for Santa when you were a kid?

(Report by By Chiara Atik)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dear Santa Letter sent 100 years ago found up chimney

The 100-year-old letter to Santa found in the chimney of a Dublin house.

IT MAY have been slightly scorched over the years but a letter to Santa written 100 years ago, which was later discovered in a Dublin fireplace, has the magic of Christmas written all over it.

On Christmas Eve 1911, a brother and sister, who signed their names, “A or H Howard”, penned their personally designed letter to Santa with their requests for gifts and a good luck message at their home in Oaklands Terrace, Terenure (or Terurnure, as the children spelled it) in Dublin.

They placed it in the chimney of the fireplace in the front bedroom so that Santa would see it as he made his way into the Howard household in the early hours of the morning.

The letter was discovered by the house’s current occupant, John Byrne, when he was installing central heating in 1992. Since then, he has retained it as a souvenir of another time and place but with the stamp of childhood innocence which still exists today. The message to Santa was warm but explicit.

“I want a baby doll and a waterproof with a hood and a pair of gloves and a toffee apple and a gold penny and a silver sixpence and a long toffee.”

Ownership of the house changed over the decades, with the Byrne family moving there in 1961, but the letter survived. “At that time, the fireplaces were made of brick with a shelf on either side,” said John Byrne who works in the building industry.

The letter was found on one of the shelves.” The letter remained remarkably intact given the passage of time and was only slightly burned from fires set in the house over the years.

As well as the requests for gifts from Santa the letter also contains drawings and a message of “Good Luck” to Santa from the children. According to the 1911 census there were three children living at the address in the year in which the letter was written.

The youngest of them, Hannah, who was 10 at the time, and Fred (presumably short for Alfred) who was seven, fit in with the initials on the letter. A third child, a 13-year-old called Lily, is also listed. The Howard family were all born in England, including parents Fred Hamer Howard, an “under manager” in a plumber merchants, and his wife Mary Elizabeth. They listed their religion as Church of Ireland.

(Via Irish Times)

Bull Frog Plays Video Game, and an 80-Year Old Fights Off a Gunman

This frog could probably beat me at gaming, although that isn’t saying much!

   Good Morning Humboldt County!

Only two more shopping days left until Christmas. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by. I’ve got a fresh pot of coffee on, so c’mon in and relax for a few and see what stories I have for you.

In this video, a frog plays video games. No, really. Specifically, an African Bullfrog plays an app for the handheld game, Ant Smasher. The makers of the game note that more than 15 million people have downloaded it but we're pretty sure this is the first non-human player caught on video.


        80-year-old grandmother fights off gunman

An 80-year-old grandmother in Florida successfully fended off an armed attacker who was attempting to rob her 61-year-old daughter.

Josefa Lopez told the Sentinel Sun she felt "no fear" when she used her aluminum cane to fight off the gunman who had physically assaulted her daughter.

"I thought she was dead," Lopez said in Spanish. "I yelled at [the gunman], 'I am going to kill you, [son of a b----]!' I wasn't myself. To me, she was dead." The assailant, who fired a gunshot at Lopez but missed, is still at large. He reportedly pulled Lopez from her Ford Expedition, shouting, "Give me," and pistol-whipped her. That's when the 4-foot-9 Josefa took control of the situation.

"When you see your daughter in trouble," Lopez said, "you have to do something." Lopez reportedly grabbed the gunman by the back of his shirt and began pulling him away from her daughter. She was about to strike him with her cane when he fired the shot at her.

Time to walk on down the road…

Thursday, December 22, 2011

We could all use a comforting snuggle now and then…

They say the holiday season is hard on a  people for different reasons:

Not being home for Christmas.

Being alone on Christmas.

The stress of buying gifts you can’t afford.

The holiday season is also hard on animals for different reasons:

They’re given as gifts, but later when they grow up they’re given away.

Outdoor stray cats, for whatever reasons, have to deal with freezing winter conditions.

Take a look at these two natural enemies. A dog and a cat. A puppy, to be sure, but still a dog.

Look at the eye contact. An unspoken agreement made in moments.

The puppy trusts the cat and comes over to cuddle.

The cat, because cats are independent, doesn’t want to look too happy with the situation…

…but it’s hard.

The warm body next to it is reassuring.

In the end the cat closes it’s eyes (a sure sign of trust) and allows the gangly puppy to snuggle up.

Is there a message here for humans?

You tell me.

photos found here


Autism-friendly Santas a hit at malls & parties, Santa’s reindeers prepare for Christmas, & John Lennon’s ‘Happy Xmas’ (War is Over)

          Good Morning Humboldt County!

 Only three more days until Christmas. Can you believe it? It’s cold outside, but no snow. C’mon in and have a cup of coffee with me and check out the following seasonal stories:


Autism-friendly Santas a hit at malls, parties

Visiting a shopping mall to share Christmas wishes with Santa had always been too much for 10-year-old Ben Borre, due to the autism that makes the noise, lights and crowds an unbearable torment.

But now a growing number of "sensitive" Santas in shopping centers, at community parties and elsewhere are giving Ben and others a chance to meet the big guy in autism-friendly settings — allowing their families to capture Christmas memories that other families may take for granted.

For a child on the autism spectrum, sometimes the smallest item or gesture can spark a connection — such as the Northtown Mall Santa's gold watch or the tiny Christmas train that rotates inside of it.

The big day is drawing near….
In honor of the Iraq War ending…

Time to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Once upon a time…


Moms turn to phone-sex to supplement income, support families during hard economic times

An increasing number of cash-strapped mothers are taking jobs as phone-sex operators, finding that talking dirty to strangers is an easy way to support their families.

The number of mothers with young children who have become telephone temptresses over the last 18 months has shot up about 400%, reports ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The data comes from, a website dedicated to helping mothers find jobs that allow them to work from home.

Chris Durst, who runs the online organization, has been tracking the working habits of mothers for more than a decade. She says the number of women who search for phone-sex work generally spikes after Labor Day, as their children return to school. But in the past two years, the level of interest in phone-sex employment has been extraordinary — and Durst blames it on the economy. (Read more here)

Manning defense's focus on gender identity disorder alarms some

It appears that Manning’s lawyers are desperate enough to use a defense - that isn’t a legal defense for the type of crime committed - hoping the gender card will save him somehow.

“Raising the hackles of some attorneys who work on transgender legal issues, defense attorneys for Bradley Manning apparently intend to make an almost novel legal argument -- that the Army private was suffering from gender identity disorder when his alleged crimes were committed -- if his case proceeds to court martial as expected.

Several attorneys who work with transgender legal issues said they were not aware of a gender identity disorder defense being raised in a civilian court, and King said it’s easy to see why not, noting that such a diagnosis “doesn’t prevent you from knowing right from wrong.” The disorder is most often raised in criminal proceedings as part of an overall insanity defense, or by expert witnesses arguing that a defendant is so mentally damaged that he or she should be committed, he said.

And several lawyers who work with transgender clients indicated they were not happy with the direction that the Manning proceedings have taken. “We don’t think that being transgender, if he in fact is, has anything to do with him breaking the law,” said Kylar Broadus, an attorney with the Transgender Law and Policy Institute. “Obviously the charges are serious and we don’t want the trial to be sensationalized or detracted from by him being transgender.”

“Our opinion is there is no correlation between anything he has done and gender identity disorder,” agreed Dru Levasseur, a transgender rights attorney with Lambda Legal.

“This plays into stereotypes that are not true,” he continued. “There are a lot of people with gender identity disorder fighting for their lives to be respected and understood as human beings who need equal access to the law. This type of scenario just confuses the situation.” (Story source)

‘Ninja Cow’ beguiles town, Boy’s chimney made with Santa in mind

                Good Morning Humboldt County!

 Only four more days until Christmas. Thanks for stopping by this morning. I got the coffee on and a couple of stories to start your day.Enjoy: 

              ‘Ninja Cow’ beguiles Nebraska town

It didn't happen overnight, but residents of Plattsmouth, Nebraska have finally outsmarted a deceptive, wayward bovine known as the "Ninja Cow."

"It sounded like hoofs on the pavement, and by the time I could focus on it, all I could see was the rear end of whatever it was," local computer programmer Kevin Moon told the Wall Street Journal.

Wayward livestock can pose serious threats to human and other animals. Even a small deer can destroy a car, seriously injuring the occupants in a collision. Still, for months, the Ninja Cow eluded police and locals, making late night appearances on private lawns, leaving behind only cowpies as evidence of its existence. The effort to bring in, or even bring down, the Ninja Cow was not lacking. Police and local experts tried just about everything from luring the cow with biscuits and gravy to capturing her on an infrared camera. They played cow sounds on a laptop. But every attempt failed. Pretty much the only thing they didn't try was recreating the cow costume from Top Secret. And the more adept Ninja Cow became at eluding capture, the more her story captured the hearts and minds of Plattsmouth residents, spawning several Facebook fan pages and talk of an annual Ninja Cow Day celebration.


         Boy's chimney designed with Santa in mind

A worried letter from six-year old Leo Park sparked a mammoth operation to test what is believed to be the world's first chimney specifically designed to accommodate Santa Claus. The little boy's parents are having a house custom built and when Leo viewed the plans he was concerned that the chimney wasn't big enough for Father Christmas and his famous belly that shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly.

As he was penning his traditional letter to Santa, Leo decided to also write a heartfelt missive about the chimney design problem to Jeremy Paxton, who owns the estate on which the new house is being built. In childish scrawl the letter reads: "Dear Mr Paxton, I am worried that my mummy's house does not have a big enough chimney. I think Santa Claus will get stuck. Please can you help. Love Leo Park."

Paxton, founder and owner of luxury holiday home development Lower Mill Estate in the Cotswolds decided to commission a special formula to satisfy Leo's concerns.

Obviously size was the key consideration to ensure Santa won't get wedged tight on his way to stuffing the stockings and so Paxton enlisted a mathematician to take on the challenge and save the jolly old elf from turning red for the wrong reasons.

The Santa-friendly formula looked at risk factors of chimney entry, the size of St Nick's girth versus the width of the chimney at its narrowest point. To test what they said was the perfect chimney, Paxton enlisted the help of a stand-in Santa Claus in full padded outfit, a crane, a harness and winch to put the new chimney through its paces.

Leo was invited to watch as the great experiment got underway. "Go on Santa" he shouted out as the faux Father Christmas was lifted into the air towards the chimney. A few seconds later and Santa was successfully lowered into the chimney of the half-built house, re-emerging shortly after to deliver a hearty: "Ho Ho Ho."

"I can guarantee that this chimney is big enough for Santa and all the presents," he told Leo.An excited Leo gave a thumbs up to the St. Nicholas impersonator and rushed to hug him. "I'm absolutely delighted not just that Santa fitted into the chimney, but that that little boy, Leo, said to me: 'That was the best day of my life' which made the whole thing worthwhile," said Paxton. The Park family won't be able to inhabit their new holiday home until next December, just in time to get the milk and biscuits ready for their very special Yuletide visitor.

Time to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

X-47B - Unmaned Combat Drone stirs interest passing through town

As flatbed truck driving down the middle of US Highway 77 was spotted cruising down a main street in Cowley County, Kansas a few days ago.

From at least one angle, the strange-shape aircraft resembled a saucer, and was covered by what appeared to be an industrial-strength tarp (or perhaps a badly malfunctioning cloaking device). Who ever heard of the X-47B? There’s only two in the country. Read story here.

Does it look like a UFO to you? Some people thought so.

History of Santa Claus, Rapper gets pass on pot in airport, Gas prices hit new heights in 2011

Did you know all this stuff about the jolly old elf?

        Good Morning Humboldt County!

Five more days to Christmas. We don’t expect snow, but it sure has been cold lately. Glad you could stop by and have coffee with me this morning.

TSA agent finds pot in rapper's luggage, just leaves note

A Transportation Security Administration inspector found marijuana in the checked luggage of rapper Freddie Gibbs this week, but rather than confiscate it the screener left a mildly chiding note, the musician told the world via Twitter.r

"C'mon Son," the screener wrote on the TSA "Notice of Baggage Inspection" on Wednesday, when the rapper flew to Denver to perform.

Gibbs, who has publicly expressed his love of the green bud, tweeted a photo of the notice and two bags of weed. "The TSA found my weed and let me keep it. They just left me a note," he told his followers, ending with "Lol."

Gibbs has since deleted the tweet, which several folks pointed out incriminated him for illegally transporting a controlled substance and that might get the TSA agent fired.

A TSA spokesman told The Hill that airport security workers are supposed to notify police when illegal items are found.


At gas pump, 2011 was the year of the big squeeze

It's been 30 years since gasoline took such a big bite out of the family budget.

When the gifts from Grandma are unloaded and holiday travel is over, the typical American household will have spent $4,155 filling up this year, a record. That is 8.4 percent of what the median family takes in, the highest share since 1981.Gas averaged more than $3.50 a gallon this year, another unfortunate record. And next year isn't likely to bring relief.

Time to walk on down the road…

Monday, December 19, 2011

At sunset nature is painting for us... day after day... pictures of infinite beauty

(photo original unknown)  Quote by John Ruskiin

I’ve got a good idea…how about a smile break?

My pug Millie (below), thought this photo was hilarious so I’m sharing it with you.


Interestingly enough, we use to have the same door mat (yea I know they were mass produced) and Millie never had an issue with it.

With pending ban, people hoard light bulbs

Karen Beseth is all about energy conservation. She shuts off the lights when leaving the room and sets the thermostat at 67 degrees through her small town's blustery winters. But there's one concession the DeWitt, N.Y., insurance consultant won't make -- she loves her incandescent light bulbs.

No surprise then that in advance of the federal phaseout of traditional bulbs starting Jan. 1, she's stocking up. Her garage and basement shelves are filled with 100-watt four-packs. "There's just some things we put our foot down on," she says.

Polls show that many Americans aren't even aware of the pending ban, but 13% say they are hoarding to prepare for a time when the 134-year-old technology joins heroin and sea-turtle meat in the banned-products pantheon. Home Depot, which supplies nearly a third of the bulbs that plug into the nation's 4 billion light sockets, says that as 2011 draws to a close, incandescent sales have jumped.

House Republicans succeeded in eliminating funding for enforcement of the new efficiency standards from the Department of Energy's budget last week. However, major makers of light bulbs have already made the switch. Also, to be clear, the new standards don't ban incandescent bulbs, but require that they be more efficient.

Experts like Bill Hamilton, Home Depot's merchandising VP for electrical, say alternatives to old-style incandescents have vastly improved -- light quality is up, and prices are falling fast. But not everyone's convinced.

In the House of Representatives, some Republicans are still hoping to see the ban repealed. And in Texas, the state legislature passed a bill declaring it legal to manufacture and sell incandescent bulbs within state lines -- never mind the fact that there's not a single bulb factory in Texas. "Everyone loves it," says a spokesperson for George Lavender, the representative who wrote the bill. (Smart Spending)

Holiday cards from the grave, Anonymous donors paying starngers layaways, and Santa’s ward off crime in the streets

             Good Morning Humboldt County!

Christmas is in the air this chilly morning and I have some hot coffee ready to go. Pull up a chair, grab a mug, and see what you think about the three holiday headlines I’ve selected for your reading pleasure today.

   Ho! Ho! Ho! Happy holiday cards from the grave
The holiday cards
from ad man Bob McCully were truly a special delivery - from beyond the grave. About 400 people recently received the macabre but humorous greetings from McCully, who died in August at 88, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported (

The former Pittsburgh advertising executive is pictured on the front of the card talking on the phone in an office. "Hello, please don't call," it reads. "I recently moved to a quiet neighborhood ..."

Inside, the card says: "My new place doesn't have a phone and our gates close after dark." Pictures show the gates at Allegheny Cemetery in Lawrenceville and McCully's tombstone. Friends say a relative produced the card, which generated a mix of emotions for longtime McCully friend David Newell.

"It was the strangest feeling getting that card. It was almost eerie. But when I opened it, I laughed out loud. It was the ultimate Christmas card," Newell said. McCully often performed locally in satirical musical revues and was known for his darkly funny Christmas greetings. For several years, Newell said, cards were written from the perspective of McCully's former dog, Rolf. This year's card might be the most memorable of all.

Anonymous donors pay strangers' layaway accounts

The young father stood in line at the Kmart layaway counter, wearing dirty clothes and worn-out boots. With him were three small children.

He asked to pay something on his bill because he knew he wouldn't be able to afford it all before Christmas. Then a mysterious woman stepped up to the counter. “She told him, `No, I'm paying for it,'" recalled Edna Deppe, assistant manager at the store in Indianapolis. "He just stood there and looked at her and then looked at me and asked if it was a joke. I told him it wasn't, and that she was going to pay for him. And he just busted out in tears."

At Kmart stores across the country, Santa is getting some help: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers' layaway accounts, buying the Christmas gifts other families couldn't afford, especially toys and children's clothes set aside by impoverished parents.

Philippine policemen wearing Santa hats are deployed in downtown Manila on Monday. The program aims to bring police closer to the public as increased visibility along high traffic areas will be implemented during the holiday season, officials said.

'Santas' ward off crime in the Philippines

Ho! ho! ho! you're under arrest!

More than 1,000 police officers wearing Santa hats have fanned out across the Philippine capital in time for the Christmas holidays — traditionally the busiest period for thieves in Manila.

Metropolitan Manila police chief Geary Barias said 1,000 officers and 700 police recruits have traded their blue caps for Santa hats while conducting more patrols of Manila's crime-ridden streets. Residents generally praised the idea. "This serves as a reminder that Christmas is coming and we should have peace," said Dennis Perez, a pedestrian.

"The Santa hat is OK, but of course they should focus on their duties," said Jenny de Jesus, a parishioner in Quiapo district's Roman Catholic church.

Time to walk on down the road…

GOP Governors Unite in Fight to Stop Unions in their States

Six Republican Governors have gathered to warn their residents against the evils of unionization which they claim would threaten their jobs...