Saturday, April 2, 2011

A view of the Eel River Valley taken on April 2nd…


This photo was taken by a local veteran activist, Fortuna resident, and my buddy, Carl Young. He likes to roam around taking photos in Humboldt County with his fancy camera, and often shares them with me. In turn, I’m sharing one with you now… 

Corporate Scumbag for April: Transocean gives safety bonuses despite Gulf spill deaths

Image: Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns

I’m establishing the first “As It Stands Corporate Scumbag of the Year Award” and Transocean Ltd. is the first entry.

Company filing calls safety record 'exemplary' for meeting internal goals…

“Transocean Ltd. gave its top executives bonuses for achieving the "best year in safety performance in our company's history" — despite the explosion of its oil rig that killed 11 people, including nine of its own employees, and spilled 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.”

Story here.

Southwest passengers recount harrowing ordeal as hole opens in plane fuselage

Southwest flight

I’ve never never been a fan of flying – see

“Kauai or Bust”


“I was never enthralled with the concept of hurtling through Earth’s atmosphere at 20,000 or 30,000 feet above the ground. Call me silly or a coward. It was a plane that took me to that dirty little war in Vietnam, and I’d never forgive that airline if I could just remember which one it was!” Editor’s Note: scroll down stories until you get to my column.


“Passengers described a harrowing journey Friday when a Southwest Airlines flight from Phoenix to Sacramento suffered a rapid loss of cabin pressure, and the crew found a hole in the top of the fuselage.”

Photo - A cellphone image of the hole in the cabin of a Southwest flight from Phoenix to Sacramento. Flight 812 was diverted to Yuma, Ariz., Friday where it landed safely. (Joshua Hardwicke via Associated Press / April 1, 2011)  Story here.

Here’s five rare disorders you probably never heard of…

Jumping Frenchmen of Maine: Jumping Frenchmen of Maine is an extremely rare neuropsychiatric disorder that causes an exaggerated startle reaction. Something as small as an unexpected poke in the ribs can cause sufferers to jump, scream, flail their arms, hit or throw things, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.

The oddly named condition is a nod to the French Canadian lumberjacks in the Moosehead Lake region of Maine -- the original jumping Frenchmen. The cause is unknown, although some researchers believe that a behavioral disorder is at the root of the strange condition, while others argue that it's caused by a gene mutation.

Fregoli delusion: What if your sister, your boyfriend, your boss and your next-door neighbor were really all the same person, who was constantly altering her appearance in order to fool you? Sufferers of Fregoli delusion believe (very, very mistakenly) that different people in their lives are actually the very same person, using an elaborate array of disguises and costumes to trick them.

It's related to Capgras delusion, a rare psychiatric disorder that causes a person to believe her friends or family members have been replaced with impostors. And like Capgras, psychiatrists believe it's the result of troubles with facial perception, which can be caused by traumatic brain injury.

Swallowing syncope: Ever eat such a good meal it made you feel faint? In 2007, UCLA reported a strange case of a 68-year-old woman who was standing at the sink, drinking a glass of milk  -- when she suddenly fainted. Three months later, it happened again, this time while she was eating a bagel. Swallowing syncope -- or, fainting after swallowing -- is unusual, but not unheard of; case reports date back as early as 1958. In this woman's case, doctors prescribed an anticholinergic medication, which stopped her from losing consciousness when swallowing.

Kung fu colitis: This is the sad story of a blow to the stomach that resulted in bloody diarrhea, a trip to the emergency room and an eventual diagnosis of colitis for one poor 21-year-old dude.

The cramps and bloody mess started an hour after he was kicked in class, and it was still happening the next morning, according to a case report in this month's Annals of Emergency Medicine. He was observed for 12 hours in the ER, and then sent home with strict instructions to stick to a clear-fluids diet.

Spasmodic dysphonia: Is it a crime if one can only speak in rhyme? About 30,000 Americans suffer from a mysterious condition called spasmodic dysphonia, which means the parts of their brains controlling speech have malfunctioned. Strangely, many sufferers have found they aren't able to speak in their normal voice -- but if they sing, speak in a silly higher or lower pitch, or recite poetry, they regain their ability to speak.

               Story Source

Friday, April 1, 2011

As I predicted, hate-monger Pastor Terry Jones burned the Koran

Intolerance of American Muslims…

I’ve provided two links below to show how predictable cult leader Pastor Terry Jones is. One reader, commenting on my column when it came out, thought I should just ignore him and he’d go away.

I can’t do that. Jones is part of an overall assault on American Muslims that has seen them go on public trial twice now. First, when lawmaker Peter King held his witch hunt a couple of weeks ago, and then this latest outrage.

If you’re not a Muslim, then you don’t know what it’s like being prosecuted for your religion in America today. In my opinion, there’s already too much intolerance in this country without targeting religious groups.

American pastor promotes 'International Judge the Koran Day' today Did you catch the part about “so-called peaceful Muslims” like such a thing is impossible? That tells you that no matter what argument is made for Islam, Pastor Jones and his prejudiced flock will find the religion guilty. Then what? Threaten to burn the Koran again and incite every devout Muslim in the world?


Florida pastor oversees Quran burning The controversial Florida pastor who halted plans to burn a Quran on the 9/11 anniversary last year oversaw the burning of the Islamic holy book on Sunday after it was found "guilty" during a "trial" at his church.

I should note that eight UN workers were murdered, two were decapitated, by an outraged crowd in Kabul, Afghanistan when they found out what Jones did.


My son Nate is in the news today talking about his up close encounter with a massive land slide

From the Times-Standard today:


“Seeing and hearing the landslide up close; a forgotten clipboard may have saved a life”

By Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard

Posted: 04/01/2011 02:30:36 AM PDT

Plainly, Nathan Stancliff has never liked the route.

Though he's driven his Del Reka Distributing truck from Eureka to Garberville once a week for several months to deliver to Southern Humboldt grocery stores, he's always done so a bit nervously.

“I've told everyone that I don't like this route because I feel there's going to be a landslide,” Stancliff said Thursday -- a day after a massive slide covered all four lanes of U.S. Highway 101 with tons of mud, rocks and debris. “I'm always worried I'm going to end up in a situation where there's going to be a landslide coming down and a cliff on the other side. Imagine that.”

On Wednesday, Stancliff (shown above driving in his truck) didn't have to imagine. He was there to see, hear and feel what he described as “this huge green blob” descend from the mountain to eat the highway. According to Caltrans, what Stancliff saw was a 600-foot-wide piece of earth stretching 1,500 feet up the hillside move at once, descending on the roadway and buckling it 50 feet in both directions.

And if it weren't for an absent-minded moment, Stancliff said, he and his truck might also have been right in the middle of it.

When preparing his truck to head south, Stancliff said, he left his clipboard on the ground of the loading parking lot. He had to turn back to get it, putting him a couple of minutes behind schedule -- a couple of minutes that may have saved his life.

Not thinking much of it, Stancliff said, he proceeded on his route, listening to music and enjoying the day

Everything was pretty calm -- kind of eerie calm,” he said.

Near Phillipsville, Stancliff said, he rolled down his window. A few minutes later, he noticed a growing noise in the distance that began drowning out the music playing in his cab as he came around a sweeping corner.

“You could just hear this crunching -- just crack, crunch, snap, crack,” he said. “Then it didn't take long to realize what the snapping and cracking was -- I saw this tree that is upright sliding down right onto the road in this huge green blob. When I first saw it, the top was moving so quick it was like when you take butter and put it on a hot pan and it just goes bloop. ... And you could feel it when it hit.

”Needless to say,” Stancliff continued, “I was in complete shock. It was dumbfounding. I don't even have the words for it.”

In the moment when he was downshifting his truck, slowing down while approaching the massive slide, Stancliff said he felt oddly calm. His life didn't flash before his eyes. There was no panic.

“When it was so intense there for a minute, I felt kind of at ease and pictured my daughter smiling,” Stancliff said, referring to Carissa Ann, his 4-year-old.

On Thursday, Stancliff said, he's just grateful to be around to tell his story -- grateful that he absent-mindedly left his clipboard on the ground while closing up his truck's tailgate.

“Those couple of minutes were crucial to my being here today,” he said. “It's pretty heavy. It really makes you appreciate life when something like this happens.”

Labor Department says more jobs added, but people are still losing jobs for numerous reasons

Middle-aged casino waitresses fired after told they don't look good in new uniforms

Employment grew solidly in March; jobless rate declined

“The U.S. economy posted a second straight month of solid gains in March as the nation’s jobless rate fell to a two-year low of 8.8 percent, marking a decisive shift in the labor market that should help to underpin the economic recovery.” Story here.

Waitresses fired when new uniforms don't fit

“Sixteen cocktail waitresses at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City were fired after being told they’re not a fit for the casino’s new sexy uniforms.”  Story Here.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

IT'S NOT JUST GLENN BECK: FOX News Has Lost 21% Of Its Audience This Year


Apparently people are figuring out how truthful Fox News is. I knew that it was only a matter of time. The Fox family is losing ratings while the other news outlets are gaining on them.

All in all Fox News actually lost 21% of its primetime audience during the quarter.
Compare this to CNN which is up 28% in primetime and MSNBC which is up 9% (Rachel Maddow increased by 16.65% and Anderson Cooper by 18%) and then take into consideration all the breaking news there's been since Christmas, and one might begin to draw the conclusion that people are beginning to turn elsewhere for news news coverage.”


Want to reduce BPA exposure? Cut canned foods from your diet, report says


Exposure to the chemical Bisphenol A, or BPA, through canned foods and other food packaging can be significantly reduced with simple dietary changes, according to a report released Wednesday by the nonprofit Breast Cancer Fund and the Silent Spring Institute, a breast cancer research group.

BPA is a chemical that is often used in clear, shatterproof plastics, such as baby bottles and food-storage containers, as well as the liners of metal food cans. Studies have shown BPA can leach from plastic and cans into food. Story here.

Bottled water largely unmonitored - flush your habit and turn the tap

Image: Discarded water bottles

Bottled water? That's so '80s.

The $14.4 billion bottled-water market has come under fire for being environmentally incorrect as those discarded plastic containers keep piling up in landfills.

Meanwhile, decades of marketing that touted costly bottled water as cleaner, healthier and better tasting than tap water turned out to be a lot of hype. Not only is most good-old-fashioned tap water safe and clean, experts say, but swearing off the bottle also saves you a bundle.

Here's how to turn on the tap and let the savings pour in — without sacrificing flavor: Full Story

Thanks to Eva for the support.  Currently taking "degree courses online,” she avoids buying bottled water to protect the environment and to save money.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Breaking Local News: landslide on 101 stops traffic both ways!

Update below (as of 2:48 p.m.)
I just got a call from my son who drives a big rig for Del Recca Beverages in Eureka. He was on his way down to Southern Humboldt to make deliveries when a mountain slide happened right before his eyes! A tree fell first, but then more of the mountain collapsed (he called us on his cell at 9:21 a.m. after calling the CHP first) and within minutes the road was impassable. (CHP reports say the slide happened at 9:22 a.m.)
My son, Nate, was able to stop his truck in plenty of time. He’s the first in what is rapidly becoming a long line of vehicles that are stuck! The slide happened just north of Redway. Nate reported that the road is splitting open (Go to KMUD link provided below for photos) and the earth is still moving. He’s pretty uncomfortable being stuck right now, but is perfectly safe.
The question now is “How are all those vehicles – on both sides of the slide – going to turn around? stay tuned, as Nate gives me updates. Right now, he said there’s lots of CHP on the scene.
  First reports are saying the slide happened a quarter mile north of the Dean Creek exit. 12-15 feet deep. via Redheaded Blackbelt Go here for more updates and photos.
More info on KMUD website:
UPDATE From CalTrans update
Eureka  – Caltrans has announced that Route 101 in Southern Humboldt County
is  closed  due  to  a  large mudslide approximately one mile north of Dean
Creek.  Caltrans crews are currently onsite and assessing the situation.
No estimated time of opening is currently available.  Caltrans will issue
another update by 2:00 PM today.
Motorists are advised to use an alternate route.  For the most current road
information   on   all   State   highways,   please   call   1-800-427-7623
(1-800-GAS-ROAD) or visit
California Highway Patrol says highway may be closed for two weeks.
2:48 p.m. update:
Nate was able to turn his truck around and go back to the distribution plant in Eureka. He called to let his mother and I know everything was okay. He also told us this, “I forgot my clipboard this morning and had to turn around (after just going a block) and went back to get it. That’s never happened before. Gives me goosebumps just thinking about it!”
Me too.

Morning meanderings and joy that there’s no rain today!

Here we are… it’s Wednesday and it’s NOT RAINING! First order of business is the following interesting email:

Mr. Stancliff,
I hope this finds you well, thank you for your time.
I read your piece “AS IT STANDS: Collecting war trophies...” with interest and was curious where the photograph of the soldiers in Vietnam originated? Do you know? I’m assuming this is something you found on the internet, but I can’t discover the source.
Any help would be appreciated. Many thanks,

Patrick Witty
International Picture Editor

My reply to Mr. Witty was basically, “I know who took it – but the person doesn’t want his name associated with it.” That person is in the photograph (center) but he doesn’t exactly go around showing it off. I have to admit it’s kinda odd (to me) that he’s kept it (and other one) all these years. He said he keeps them to remind himself of what an animal he once was. We all (combat Vietnam veterans) have different ways of coping. Update:

Dave, I really appreciate you writing me back. Should we decide to publish the image on, I will certainly not mention the source. I just wanted to certify it’s authenticity with someone who would know. Again, thank you very much.


                                                 Magazine Covers from Time’s Archives

I read about an interesting Supreme Court ruling this morning - Court: Eagle feathers only for American Indians -  which upheld Native American’s rights to have eagle feathers (they’re part of religious ceremonies). Non-Indians filed a discrimination claim, but lost their case.

For the second time in less than a week of an air traffic supervisor working as a controller being suspended we have this: FAA suspends second air traffic controller in one week I already have this phobia of flying, and hearing this kind of stuff just reaffirms my fears.

I’m always on the lookout for odd news stories and found this one this morning: Police: Pa. trucker saved from choking by crash It’s a case of a bad thing happening that suddenly turns out to be a good thing! How about that?

I read a good Op-Ed piece in the Times-Standard this morning, and will go so far as to say I agree with the writer, Cedar Reuben. There’s Not much to celebrate in log export from Humboldt County. It was a well-written piece and made a strong argument for not shipping off our raw materials (wood).

Looking forward to going for a walk on the beach this afternoon with my honey Shirley. I’ll take my regular walk with Millie (our Pug) first, and then we’ll go. I’m reasonably confident that it won’t rain today (gee… I hope those aren’t famous last words!) You have a great day. Live it like it’s your last!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Researchers find a new way to fight fire using a magic wand!

Gotta love the new technology that incorporates the stuff of legends – a magic wand that snuffs fires. My boyhood hero, Buck Rogers, didn’t even have that in his arsenal of scientific stuff. Pretty cool, I’d say: 

“Researchers say they've found a new way to snuff out flames using an electric field-generating wand — and the seemingly magical technique just might be put to use in future fire rescues.

The technology sounds a bit like the fictional flame-freezing charm or the Aguamenti spell mentioned in J.K. Rowling's series of Harry Potter books, and the fact that it's done with a wand-like electrode makes the story even better.”

Story Here

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bomb threat closes buildings at Humboldt State University

From the Times-Standard/Posted: 03/28/2011 12:29:51 PM PDT

A suspected bomb threat prompted Humboldt State University to evacuate both Founders Hall and Van Matre Hall around 11 a.m. today.

HSU spokesman Jarad Petroske said that University Police Department personnel was on scene to investigate the bomb threat, and that classes in both buildings have been canceled through 2 p.m. Petroske could not provide any additional information as of 12:15 p.m., except that the buildings remained closed and all available UPD officers were on scene.

I’ll post updates as I hear them. GOOD NEWS – There was no bomb. Just a note in a hallway warning of one.

Sidebar story: March 23, 2011 - “Humboldt State University text message alert system has record sign-up” at least one commentator on the T-S noted the bomb threat is on the Emergency Broadcasting System. I don’t think this is the same system. I do wonder how this text message alert system worked however. Can anyone ring in on this?

Filthy London show digs up the dirt at new exhibition

“Filth, fecal matter and grime in all its forms are the subject of a new exhibition in London. "Dirt: the Filthy Reality of Everyday Life" features around 200 exhibits ranging from vials of urine to air samples and a floor pattern made from dust found in homes, all of which are used to examine humanity's ambivalent relationship with dirt through the ages.

"Dirt is everywhere and periodically we get very worried about it. But we have also discovered that we need bits of it and, guiltily, secretly, we are sometimes drawn to it," said Ken Arnold, Director of Public Program at the Wellcome Collection, where the exhibition is being held. The exhibition takes anthropologist Mary Douglas' view that dirt is "matter out of place" as a cue to investigate human attitudes toward cleanliness.”  Story Here.

Chamber Pot plays roll in exhibitionphoto source

‘She hexed me!’ Whistle-blowing witch grounded by TSA

It sounds like Wicca believers need a good PR person. They don’t cast spells like traditional witches – or so they claim. The problem seems to be when they started calling themselves witches people associated them with Satanic stereotypes.

Wiccan is fired after complaint about casting spells — and after she complained about lax security at the airport

“Here's a situation for all you aspiring managers: If you were the boss at a U.S. government agency and one of your employees complained that she was afraid of a co-worker's religious practices, what would you do?

Would it change your decision if the religion were Wicca, and the employee feared her co-worker because she thought she might cast a spell on her?

Here's how the Transportation Security Administration handled it:

It fired the witch.  Story Here.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

As It Stands: Gaming the system -- frivolous lawsuits flourish in our courts

By Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard
Posted: 03/27/2011 02:40:32 AM PDT
I'm always amused, and sometimes disgusted, to read about frivolous lawsuits that regularly pop up like jack-in-the-boxes in the news. The most recent that caught my eye was a mom who sued a preschool for not prepping her 4-year-old for Ivy League colleges.
No, I'm not kidding. The New York Daily News recently reported it. The plaintiff is Nicole Imprescia of Manhattan, who filed suit against New York Avenue Preschool for a refund of the $19,000-a-year tuition she had paid. Why? Are you sitting down for this?
Imprescia claims the school jeopardized her 4-year-old daughter Lucia's chances of getting into an elite private school by not preparing her for the admissions exam one has to take to get in. And here's the clincher: She claims the preschool ruined her daughter's chances of being a future Ivy Leaguer.

No joke. She contends her “very smart” daughter was put in a class with kids half her age and that the focus of the class was on shapes and colors. I wonder. The school's website indicates students do more than just learn shapes and colors.
One of the many things they learn is the alphabet. There's much more, of course. The preschool had never been sued before in its 20 years of existence.
Imprescia says it's more “one big playroom” than a preschool. Oh, my. How terrible is that? We're talking about 2- to 4-year-olds. If all they learned was shapes and colors, she might have a point. Maybe. That doesn't appear to be the case, based upon available information.
That's still not the final kicker to this story. Imprescia took her daughter out of school after a mere month, according to her lawyer, Mathew Paulose.
Her daughter might have had a chance to learn the letter “C” before she pulled the plug on the preschool. In all fairness, this was her daughter's second year there, and it seems she wasn't excelling. Whose fault was that? Apparently not the daughter's, according to Mom.
She's filed a lawsuit because she thinks her 4-year-old won't get into Harvard. Is this the American way of handling things? Sue the school rather than face up to her own responsibilities as a parent?

I understand that “lawyering” is a competitive profession, but I think many lawyers have been reduced to carnival barkers. They jump though frivolous lawsuits for money like trained sea lions jump through flaming hoops. As for you legitimate lawyers, you can exhale now, secure in the knowledge that you're doing the right thing. I'm not talking about you. OK?

Arguably the most notorious of frivolous lawsuits was Pearson v. Chung. This was the case of Roy Pearson, a judge in Washington, D.C., who sued a dry cleaning business for $67 million (later lowered to $54 million). According to Pearson, the dry cleaners lost his pants (which he brought in for a $10.50 alteration) and refused his demands for a large refund.
Pearson believed a “Satisfaction Guaranteed” sign in the window of the shop legally entitled him to a refund for the cost of the pants, estimated at $1,000. The $54 million total included $2 million in “mental distress” and $15,000 which he estimated to be the cost of renting a car every weekend to go to another dry cleaner.
As It Stands, Nicole Imprescia's beef with the preschool may seem pale in comparison to Pearson v. Chung, but it's another example of people gaming a system that probably needs an overhaul.

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...