Saturday, December 17, 2011

I didn’t let the day pass without looking up at the sky in appreciation of the painting it presented…knowing there would never be another like it

Clouds on Fire

Title: Clouds On Fire     Go here to see more stunning photos

Student suspended for ‘Tebowing’, Superhero breast self exams, and ‘Whatever’ is most annoying word says survey

           Good Morning Humboldt County!

 Time flies. Here we are in the weekend and it seems like the week just started. Thanks for stopping by. Step right in and have a cup of coffee with me. Relax and read what I’ve selected for you today.

High-school students suspended for “Tebowing”

Two New York high-school students have been suspended for organizing a bended-knee tribute to Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow


Comic superheroes perform breast self exams

An advertising agency in Mozambique has created a new campaign for breast cancer awareness featuring some leading female superheroes performing self breast exams (SBE). The ads feature Wonder Woman, Catwoman, X-Men's Storm and She-Hulk.

The ads feature the caption: "When we talk about breast cancer, there's no women or superwomen. Everybody has to do the self-examination monthly. Fight with us against this enemy and, when in doubt, talk with your doctor."

"Whatever" deemed most annoying word – poll

Do you want to kill a conversation? Try saying "whatever." Words like "you know" and "like" might be irritating to hear, but for the third year in a row, it's "whatever" that holds the most power to annoy, according to an annual survey by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

Nearly four in ten adults named "whatever" as the most annoying verbal filler in casual conversation, while one in five adults had similar disdain for "like" and 'you know."

Time to walk on down the road…

Friday, December 16, 2011

What a party our forefathers had before signing the Constitution

History tells us the delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention spent much of their time getting drunk.

How do we know this?

One surviving document is a bill for a party on September 15, 1787, two days before the signing of the Constitution.

Items on the bill were: 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, 8 bottles of whiskey, 8 bottles of cider, 12 bottles of beer, and 7 bowls of alcoholic punch, all for 55 people.
Party on dude!

Double It Up: Can You Make Out The Two Words in This Box?



Reflections on ‘Tricky Dick’ and sneaky politicians today

Who could forget “Tricky Dick?”

When President Richard Nixon was hounded out of office for being involved in illegal practices (like spying on his political competitors) aka WaterGate – a generation considered him the most corrupt president ever.

21st Century politicians are making Nixon’s crimes look mild in comparison. They’ve become experts at hiding their past public performances to clear the way for moving on to bigger and better positions of power.

The latest example -Romney's missing hard drives raise questions over government records – clearly illustrates how corruption and cover ups are par for the course these days. Things have become easier to hide, always a plus for politicians, both legally and illegally. Romney isn’t the only one that’s scrubbed his past from government computers (paid for by the taxpayers); President Obama did the same thing. It’s not a partisan tactic…all of our politicians seem to think because they claim what they’re doing is legal…it is. Morally, hiding one’s past is not a plus point. The only reason politicians are getting away with it is because they make the laws – they stack the deck – and we keep electing the thieves!

Outwalk the Grim Reaper, Man steals Woman’s car during date, and Cat’s with Thumbs

             Good Morning Humboldt County!

It’s another day in paradise and your invited to stop in and have a cup of coffee. Take a seat and make yourself comfortable. I have a trio of tales for you this morning to start your day. Enjoy:

Walk 3 mph or faster to outpace the Grim Reaper, scientists say

Seniors who walk briskly may be able to delay death, essentially outrunning the Grim Reaper, a new study suggests.

Australian researchers with a wry sense of humor say they have calculated the average walking speed of the specter of death -- and it’s about 2 miles per hour. Walk faster than that and you may outrun the Grim Reaper, too, they argue in a new study published in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal.

              Cops: Man Stole Woman's Car During Movie Date

The 27-year-old Floridian was on a movie date last week with Sarah Bush, 35, when he asked for her car keys so that he could retrieve something from the vehicle. Bush gave him the keys and went back to watching “Immortals” (Pratt had paid for the movie tickets, while Bush shelled out for a nacho combo).

However, Pratt--who had been dating Bush for two weeks--never returned to the Cobb Theater in Wesley Chapel. When Bush departed, she realized that her rented Ford Focus had been stolen. When she called Pratt, he left no doubt about the whereabouts of her wheels: “Ha ha I stole your car,” he said, according to a Pasco County Sheriff’s Office report.

See what cats with thumbs can do…

Cat with thumbs tops TBS review of the funniest commercials of 2011

What do a cat with opposable thumbs, a Sasquatch, and a pug with supersized strength have in common (aside from the fact that, as far as anyone knows, they’re all mythical)?

They’re all part of the commercials that were voted as this year's funniest on Turner Broadcasting System’s annual  “Funniest Commercials of the Year” special, which debuted Wednesday night.

Time to walk on down the road…

Thursday, December 15, 2011

American public to Congress: Get out. All of you…

My last T-S column (12/11) Scroll down, or click link on left side of page:

 PAB Award: What Congress deserves for Christmas -

Apparently the pollsters agree with me when I said we had the worst Congress ever last week. Compare my column with the following:

The American electorate is primed to throw out record numbers of incumbents in the 2012 election, according to new polling from the Pew Research Center.

Everywhere you look in the numbers, which were released this morning, you see political land mines for incumbents.

Sixty seven percent say they want to see most Members of Congress voted out in 2012, the highest that number has ever been in Pew polling. And, while people are more favorably inclined to see their own Member re-elected, (50 percent yes/33 percent no) those numbers still match historic lows.

The Pew data also suggests that incumbents can’t hope to be saved by simply blaming the institutional problems of Congress.” (news source)

New trial in bizarre murder case, Woman gets $6.1 million from unclaimed property, Survey asks ‘If you could rape someone, who would it be?

                 Good Morning Humboldt County!

I’m glad to see you made it this morning. It’s cold outside. C’mon in and have a cup of hot steaming coffee and relax for a little bit. I’ve collected three stories to stimulate your senses as you sip the gourmet brew we’re having today.  

Author Michael Peterson wins new trial in bizarre murder case

Michael Peterson, the best-selling author whose 2003 murder conviction in the death of his wife inspired the movie "The Staircase Murders," has been granted a new trial.

Peterson's motion for a new trial was granted Wednesday based on new evidence suggesting that the original investigation was botched and a bizarre alternative theory that has drawn support from scientific experts: the possibility that an owl killed Kathleen Peterson in Durham, N.C., in 2001.

Missouri woman gets $6.1 million from unclaimed property

The holidays this year will be especially memorable for a Kansas City woman who has received a state record $6.1 million from a Missouri unclaimed property fund consisting of a single security.

The Missouri state treasurer maintains some $600 million of unclaimed property, most of it cash from bank accounts, the contents of safe deposit boxes, stocks and bonds, according to the treasurer's office. The average payout is about $300.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------   Frat Survey Asks: 'If You Could Rape Someone, Who Would it Be?'                                                                                                      

Frat Survey Asks: ‘If You Could Rape Someone, Who Would it Be?’

The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at the University of Vermont (slogan: "Building Balanced Men") is suspended and under investigation by campus police, because they allegedly circulated a quiz among their members that included the following question: "If you could rape anyone who would it be?"

Greeeeat question, guys. How could you possibly be expected to be molded into a well-balanced man without first telling your closest scros who you'd most like to rape? Rape on, scrah. [, Screengrab via]

Time to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Temporary delay saves Eureka Mail Processing Center and local jobs until May 2012 – then what?

(editor’s note: I’ve corrected the address below for mailing in comments)

What’s the future hold for the Eureka USPS Processing Center? Will it be shut down? Local jobs lost?

The U.S. Postal Service agreed to delay the closing of 252 mail processing centers and 3,700 local post offices until mid-May yesterday.

There will be a public meeting addressing the challenges the Eureka USPS Processing Center faces when this delay is over.

The meeting is set for Today December 15th at 6:00 p.m. at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka.

 Closing Mail Processing Centers, like ours in Eureka, and cutting service is a penny wise and pound foolish. Reducing the scope and quality of service will not restore the Postal Service to health. What will, is for Congress to act to address the insane 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. This act required the Postal Service to pre-fund employees retirement/health benefits 75 years in advance but make payment within 10 years at the tune of 5.5 billion dollars.

Postal Service customers need and deserve first-class service. The Postal Service is
critical to our economy - delivering mail, medicine and packages on time and at
an affordable price, without a dime of taxpayer money
The Postal Service is the only federal agency to be mandated this pre-funding. No other public agency or
private sector has this requirement. Currently, the Civil Service Retirement System is over funded 50-75 billion. The Federal Employees Retirement System is over funded by 7 billion. The Postal Service would not be recording a deficit if Congress did not impose this unrealistic law. If the Postal Service ignores YOUR comments and letters, here is what to expect:

• It goes against the purpose of the Post Office and is in violation of the law
• It is at the request of large mailers who stand to benefit
• The proposal is a rate increase since local overnight delivery will now be at
  It is at the request of large mailers who stand to benefit
• The proposal is a rate increase since local overnight delivery will now be at
express rates
• Workers, their families and communities will be devastated by the loss/transfer
of jobs
• Veterans returning from wars will have fewer opportunities for living wage jobs
• Checks, other income, and critical time-sensitive documents will be delayed
• Senior Citizens and Veterans medications will be delayed
• Mortgage and other bill payments could be delayed causing late charges or worse
• Election results could be negatively affected by the delay in mail
• Small local businesses and non-profits will see further delay in their local mailings
• The delay in service problems will be even greater for those in rural areas.
• The Postal Service willfully failed to notify all the affected communities of the proposal

This is your Service mandated by law, to provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities.

For more information about the meeting, or the service you may lose someday contact Mike Hetticher, president of Eureka Local 1056

at 707-616-5265

Let the Postal Service hear your VOICE!!!
Send your comments and letters to:
Manager, Consumer and Industry contact

San Francisco District - P.O. Box 193000

San Francisco, Ca. 94188.

Dec 31st is the deadline for letters

VW of the future, Immigration crackdowns snares Americans, and a Chinese artist’s portraits of corruption

(Image courtesy of Volkswagen.)

       Good Morning Humboldt County!

As the day dawns a Bluejay can be seen on the lower limb of the young Redwood Tree across from my front porch. C’mon in and pull up a seat and have a cup of coffee with me. I’ve selected three stories to start your day. 

Volkswagen's Delivery Vehicle of the Future

 Volkswagen Group Research and the German postal service teamed up to envision what the (far into the) future postal-delivery vehicle could look like. They came up with the Volkswagen eT! delivery vehicle, with autonomous driving capabilities and a passenger side "drive stick."

                    Immigration crackdown also snares Americans

A growing number of United States citizens have been detained under Obama administration pAn American college student, Romy Campos, was sent to a California jail on an immigration detainer. rograms intended to detect illegal immigrants who are arrested by local police.

In a spate of recent cases across the country, American citizens have been confined in local jails after federal immigration agents, acting on flawed information from Department of Homeland Security databases, instructed the police to hold them for investigation and possible deportation.

Photo - An American college student, Romy Campos, was sent to a California jail on an immigration detainer.

Americans said their vehement protests that they were citizens went unheard by local police and jailers for days, with no communication with federal immigration agents to clarify the situation. Any case where an American is held, even briefly, for immigration investigation is a potential wrongful arrest because immigration agents lack legal authority to detain citizens.

Americans should have their own hall of Shame for politicians!

      Chinese artist's portraits of corruption

Zhang came up with the idea of creating his “hall of shame” as early as March 2009, during China’s National People’s Congress, the annual meeting of Communist Party officials.  It was then that he learned that 3,000 officials had been convicted for corruption in the previous year alone. “I was shocked at the numbers, I did not realize there were so many,” Zhang told NBC News during a recent visit to his studio.  “China is in such a transition period, those corruption issues also should be witnessed in a historic context.”

Time to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why is someone who is feeling great 'on cloud nine'?

The answer is…

Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud

If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.

US calls for ban on in-car phone use ... even with Bluetooth

I think banning in-car phone use is a GREAT IDEA. There was actually a time in this country when people drove cars without having a phone in them. 

The government's transportation safety experts recommended Tuesday to ban all American drivers from using portable electronic devices — including cell phones, even if you use a hands-free device.

The recommendation, which isn't binding but which is likely to influence the decisions of Congress and state legislatures in writing  new safety laws, makes only two exceptions: You could still use GPS navigation devices, and you could use your cell phone in an emergency.

Besides calling for government action, the NTSB also urged consumer electronics manufacturers to figure out a way to "disable the functions of portable electronic devices within reach of the driver when a vehicle is in motion" while at the same time allowing the driver to make a call in an emergency.

Spokesmen for the Consumer Electronics Association and CTIA—The Wireless Association did not immediately return calls for comment on whether such a device is possible .

"No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life," Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said at a news conference in Washington.

Safety advocates have long called for such a ban to reduce the phenomenon of distracted driving, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says killed 3,092 people in 2010.

The HTSA reported last week that about 20 percent of all drivers and 50 percent of drivers 21 to 24 years old admit to having texted while driving. Overall, more than three-quarters of drivers say they are willing to answer calls on all, most or some trips.

"People continue to make bad decisions about driving distracted — but what's clear from all of the information we have is that driver distraction continues to be a major problem," NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said last week in reporting the numbers.

But similar studies linking cellphone use to poor driving have been challenged, most recently by researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit, who concluded last month that some earlier studies were seriously flawed.

The report, published in the journal Epidemiology, examined to earlier studies that examined crashes in which cellphone records showed that the driver had used a cellphone. Those studies "likely overestimated the relative risk for cell phone conversations," the researchers said, because they improperly assumed that the drivers were actually in motion when they were on the phone — in other words, they didn't factor in such so-called part-time driving.

Abstract: Cell Phone Use and Crash Risk: Evidence for Positive Bias

Only 10 states ban handheld devices right now, and 35 ban texting while driving.

The recommendation comes following the NTSB's investigation of an August 2010 accident in Gray's Summit, Mo., involving a pickup truck, two school buses and several other vehicles.

The accident was blamed on the 19-year-old driver of the pickup, who sent or received 11 texts in the 11 minutes before the pileup, which killed two people and injured 38 others.

"That finding raises a red flag to all of us on the highways," Hersman said.

Full NTSB report on 2010 Missouri crash

The NTSB recommendation wouldn't cover GPS devices, but — if it eventually becomes law — it would ban using your phone for any reason, even with a Bluetooth headset or speakers. The only exception would be to call 911 in an emergency.

(News source)

A $13 million dollar cat, psychedelic geckos among 200 new species discovered in Vietnam, and a stray dog saves an abandoned baby

      Good Morning Humboldt County! 

 It’s great to be back home. C’mon inside and have a cup of coffee with me. Grab a seat and let me start your day with a few animal stories.  

     Former stray cat inherits $13 million

It's hard to imagine an heir more indifferent to his huge inheritance than Tommaso. The 4-year-old Italian black cat -- a former stray on the streets of Rome -- is apparently now the richest cat in the world, according to the International Business Times. Tommaso inherited an estate worth $13 million when its owner, Maria Assunta, died two weeks ago at the age of 94, The Telegraph reported. Assunta was the widow of a property tycoon, and had no children or living relatives.

Other famously wealthy pets: Tommaso is the latest in a long line of pets that became millionaires upon the death of their wealthy owners.

Leona Helmsley's Maltese, Trouble, was probably the most famously wealthy pet when his owner died in 2007, leaving $12 million to the dog. The dog itself passed away in June, at the age of 12, and the money reverted to the Helmsley Charitable Trust, The Street reported.

Other rich animals include Alexander McQueen's dogs ($82,000) and Michael Jackson's chimp, Bubbles ($1 million). Oprah Winfrey's dogs are set to inherit $30 million, according to Woman's Day.

However, none are as wealthy as an Alsatian dog named Gunther IV, who inherited a fortune worth about $372 million from a German countess, according to The Guardian.

Psychedelic gecko one of 200 new species discovered in South East Asia

A psychedelic gecko (photo right) recently discovered in Hon Khoai island, Ca Mau province, in southern Vietnam.

HANOI, VietnamA psychedelic gecko and a monkey with an "Elvis" hairdo are among 208 new species described last year by scientists in the Mekong River region of Southeast Asia, a conservation group announced Monday.

The animals were discovered in a biodiverse region that is threatened by habitat loss, deforestation, climate change and overdevelopment, the WWF said in a report.

The newly described species include a "psychedelic gecko" in southern Vietnam and a nose-less monkey in a remote province of Myanmar that looks like it wears a pompadour.

 Stray dog saves abandoned baby from death

A stray dog saved an abandoned baby from certain death in freezing temperatures in Romania. The hound stood guarding the child and barking and howling in a public park until it alerted passers-by to investigate.

They heard the child's cries and found the baby girl hidden in a plastic bag under a picnic table. The baby is recovering in hospital - and the maternity unit has adopted the stray dog. Doctors say the newborn would most likely have died from hypothermia very quickly unless the stray dog hadn't discovered her.The umbilical cord was still attached. She was taken to a hospital from Oradea in Arad county.

Dr. Gheorghe Tirla said: "It is a normal baby-girl of three kilos. She was lucky with that dog or she could have frozen to death. "She hadn't even had the umbilical cord severed but everything turned out fine and she is now recovering." The baby is going to be placed in an orphanage, reports the National newspaper. Police are trying to find the mother of the baby.

Time to walk on down the road…

Monday, December 12, 2011

As It Stands: PAB Award: What Congress deserves for Christmas


                 By Dave Stancliff/for the Times-Standard
  Welcome to the first annual As It Stands contest for Politicians Acting Badly (the PAB award). This year we have a lot of candidates to choose from. Based upon most Americans disgust with them, members of the current Congress, have to be considered the frontrunners for this special citation.
   Still, we can’t overlook the likes of ex- Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and his cell phone shannigans, or Rep. Spencer Bachus’s (R-AL) inside trading behavior which recently came under fire in a 60 Minutes report. 
   This year’s long shots for the award are: Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) who in the heat of a political debate in August crossed the line when he said being associated with President Obama would be similar to touching a “tar baby.”  Another contender is ex-Congressman David Wu who resigned amid allegations he engaged in "aggressive and unwanted sexual behavior." He also came under fire for possible mental health issues after he mailed a picture of himself in a tiger costume to his staff.
  Here we go. Are you ready? Pass the envelope please... (tense pause). This year’s winner of the PAB Award is…the 112th U.S. Congress!
  Santa will leave rocks for every member of Congress this Christmas. The normally jolly old elf is as sick of partisan politics as most Americans.
Congress' supercommittee conceded ignominious defeat in November, setting the stage for another new low. Even for them. Neither side shows the spirit of the season.
 Our lawmakers are a pack of Scrooges stealing holiday cheer. None of them are comfortable about automatic cuts going into place if they don‘t come up with a plan. Yet the no-compromise committee, formerly known as the supercommittee, threw up their hands in defeat in time for the holidays.
  Political divisions over taxes and spending have cast a cloud of uncertainty over the U.S. economy while Greece, Italy, Spain and other European countries are reeling from a spreading debt crisis and recession worries.
  Congress continues to act as if they don’t care if their approval rating in the polls is well below 20 percent. It’s amazing to me. It’s as if  our elected officials don’t understand there will be an accounting when they’re up for re-election.
   Based on accounts provided by officials familiar with the talks, it appears that weeks of private negotiations did nothing to alter a fundamental divide between the two political parties.
   "Despite our inability to bridge the committee's significant differences, we end this process united in our belief that the nation's fiscal crisis must be addressed and that we cannot leave it for the next generation to solve," the panel's two co-chairs, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Tex., said in a recent AP report.
  Don’t feel alone if this statement makes you want to vomit. Have you ever heard a bigger bunch of baloney? United in their belief? They’re not united enough to decide when to take a coffee break let alone solve problems for future generations!
  Has there ever been a worse Congress? I can see political historians comparing it with some in the 1880s, but unless someone proves otherwise, our current Congress must be considered the worst of the worst. Thus the PAB Award.
  I know what Americans want for Christmas. A Congress that can balance the budget. A Congress that is proactive about stimulating jobs in this down economy and passes bills with real teeth. A congress that doesn’t enrich its members with inside stock trading. A Congress committed to doing what the American people really want. A Congress that doesn’t appear to the rest of the world as a bunch of greedy partisan clowns.

  I don’t think those are unrealistic expectations. When our lawmakers took their oaths of office they promised to serve their constituents. That means they should represent the voters wishes and not those ideological demigods who demand partisan pledges that prevent compromise.
   The good news during these holidays is that things can change. Americans are rising up across the country demanding real change. I can’t wait until this time next year. I suspect we’ll elect a more responsive group of lawmakers who’d like to avoid getting my PAB award.
  As It Stands, for Christmas this year, members of Congress deserve a rock signifying their stubbornness, and they should also receive a pink slip from their constituents.  

This column has been picked up by the following websites:

#1 Politics Daily #2 Silobreaker #3 David Wu News #4 Global Associated News 

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...