Saturday, January 7, 2012

Have you heard the one about the Congressman and the little girl?

A congressman was seated in first class next to a little girl on an airplane.   He turned to her and said, "Do you want to talk?   Flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger."

The little girl, who had just started to read her book, replied to the total stranger, "What would you want to talk about?"

"Oh, I don't know," said the congressman. "How about global warming, universal health care or stimulus packages?" as he smiled smugly.
"OK," she said. "Those could be interesting topics but let me ask you a question first.  A horse, a cow and a deer all eat the same stuff - grass.  Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty but a horse produces clumps.  Why do you suppose that is?"

The legislator, visibly surprised by the little girl's intelligence, thinks about it and says, "Hmmm, I have no idea."

To which the little girl replies, "Do you really feel qualified to discuss global warming, universal health care or the economy when you don't know crap?" Then she went back to reading her book.

The Standoff: Leo had no intention of saying he was sorry…

Throne for the lion's queen - kiev, Kyyivska

photo source

‘Help! I have plastic cups glued to my head!’ and Zoo plans ‘Adults Only Tour’ for Valentine’s Day

               Good day Humboldt County!

 Today we’re going to talk a stroll down humor lane. People and animals can be really hilarious and I enjoy reporting on the activities of both.

  There’s so many serious stories out there it’s a nice break to read something funny and entertaining. I hope these two stories tickle your funny bone:


Man calls 911 after gluing plastic cups to head

A man who "accidentally" glued five plastic cups to his head put in a desperate call to 911 seeking medical attention. But that's just one of the more ridiculous non-emergency calls being highlighted in the Shields region of England. The Shields Gazette has posted a list of the more unusual Northeast Ambulance Service (NEAS) calls the region has recently experienced. The glued cups to the head takes the ribbon, but some of the other contenders include:

- One woman dialed 999 because she had the hiccups

- A rabbit owner called because her pet had a sore leg

- A caller phoned in because a contact lens had become stuck in his eye

It's also worth noting that unlike in America, but perhaps to the delight of Herman Cain, British emergency calls are placed to "999."

"All 999 calls are treated as an emergency. That means a call-taker has to go through a series of questions to establish the facts of an incident," said a NEAS spokesperson. "Handling requests which are clearly not an emergency means a call-handler is tied up, when they could be dispatching an ambulance to someone genuinely in need." The NEAS said they received nearly 1,200 emergency calls on "Black Eye Friday," a 20 percent increase over the usual caller traffic. The NEAS has been publicizing the non-emergency calls to help educate the public on when it is appropriate to request immediate medical assistance.

Pittsburgh Zoo hosting “Adults Only” Valentines Day event

The Pittsburgh Zoo is hosting a Valentines Day dinner that promises to reveal "the intimate secrets of exotic animal mating." It sounds like the ideal romantic date! As the zoo's website explains:

Join us for dinner, cocktails, and an adults-only presentation by Henry Kacprzyk, who will reveal the intimate secrets of exotic animal mating. From the most violent mating battles to the subtlest courting rituals, learn how the animals of land, sea, and air find love in the wild.

It's a little like the lyrics to Cole Porter's classic song "Let's Do It" come to life: "And that's why birds do it, bees do it. Even educated fleas do it.
Let's do it, let's fall in love."

And though love itself may not cost a thing, tickets to see these lascivious lions are $75. The amorous animalistic display also comes fast on the heels (or hoofs) of the news that animals are far better at detecting human intent than previously thought. Still, one needn't carry out advanced zoological research--or possess an animal's native intuition-- to deduce the intentions of couples showing up on Valentines Day to study animal mating routines up close.                                                                                             Via

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Marijuana study focuses on effects of THC and CBDs

Smoking marijuana can mean different things to different people -- for some, anxiety and paranoia can set in, while others mellow out.

Now, a unique brain scan study suggests two ingredients in pot may work independently to achieve these effects.

British scientists who watched the effects of the two marijuana ingredients -- Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) -- on the brains of 15 young men say the research shows how the drug can either ease or agitate the mind.

"People have polarized views about marijuana," said study lead author Dr. Sagnik Bhattacharyya, a researcher in the department of psychosis studies at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London. "Some consider it to be essentially harmless but potentially useful as a treatment in a number of medical conditions, and others link it to potentially severe public health consequences in terms of mental health. This study explains why the truth is somewhere in between."

The findings were published in the January issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. According to Bhattacharyya's team, it's long been noted that cannabis can prompt the onset of psychotic symptoms, such as paranoia and/or delusional thinking, among otherwise healthy people.

"A number of studies have (also) clearly shown that regular marijuana or cannabis use in vulnerable individuals is associated with increased risk of developing psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, where one loses contact with reality," Bhattacharyya said.

Just how this occurs in the brain wasn't understood. In the new study, the researchers used functional MRI brain imaging on 15 healthy men, roughly 27 years old on average and described as "occasional cannabis users."

On three occasions under fMRI monitoring, the men received one of three identical-looking gelatin capsules: one containing 10 milligrams (mg) of the marijuana ingredient THC (deemed to be a "modest" dose); another containing 600 mg of CBD; and a third filled with flour.

Testing was conducted in a highly controlled and monitored environment, in which no marijuana was actually smoked.The fMRI scans (which track brain activity in real time) were conducted one and two hours after capsule administration. During the scans, the men engaged in simple visual-cognition tasks (such as pressing buttons to reflect the direction of a series of flashing arrows). Psychopathological assessments were conducted throughout the brain imaging process.

The team found that THC and CBD appeared to affect the brain in different and opposite ways. Ingesting THC brought about irregular activity in two regions of the brain (the striatum and the lateral prefrontal cortex) that are key to the way people perceive their surroundings. THC seemed to boost the brain's responses to otherwise insignificant stimuli, while reducing response to what would typically be seen as significant or salient.

In other words, under the influence of THC, healthy individuals might give far more importance to details in their environment than they would have without the chemical in their brain.

THC also prompted a significant uptick in paranoid and delusional thinking, the authors said, and the more that "normal" brain responses were set off-kilter, the more severe the paranoid or even psychotic reaction.

The effect of the other main pot ingredient, CBD, was nearly the opposite, however. Ingesting the CBD capsule appeared to prompt brain activity linked to appropriate responses to significant stimuli in the environment, the team reported.

According to Bhattacharyya, this suggests that, on balance, marijuana may play both a good and bad role in the context of psychosis. The study also suggests that CBD, at least, may "have potential use for the treatment of psychosis," he said, even as marijuana's other principle ingredient, THC, raises the risk for developing psychotic complications.

Dr. Joseph Coyle, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said the current work goes a long way toward "connecting all the dots" when it comes to understanding the marijuana experience.

"What we're talking about here is the kind of perception, in this case prompted by marijuana, that leads a person to think that other people who are just talking in the subway are all actually talking about him," he noted. "Or people who are just tipping their hat for no reason are actually doing so specifically about him. And so this paper strikes me as important, because it actually looks at this kind of increased anxiety and increased hyper-alertness which are major factors in psychosis -- and then finds out what's going on in the brain among people who experience them.

"So I think this provides another brick in the foundation when talking about direct causality," he said. "It links the psychological state marijuana brings about with a specific psychophysical response in the brain. And that's very, very interesting."

There's more on marijuana at the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse .

Article Sources: Sagnik Bhattacharyya, M.D, Ph.D., department of psychosis studies, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London; Joseph Coyle, M.D, Eben S. Draper professor of psychiatry and neuroscience, Harvard Medical School, Boston; January 2012, Archives of General Psychiatry

Reports of legendary 'Oily Man' monster terrorize Malaysia

Around Christmas, something unusual was seen in Malaysia, and it wasn't Santa Claus. Residents of the Kampung district of Melaka were alarmed over reports of the orang minyak (Malay for "oily man"), a bizarre monster said to abduct young women by night throughout Malaysia. The creature has been occasionally sighted for decades, but never captured.

According to a report in Malaysian newspaper The Star, there were multiple sightings over the Christmas holidays. One eyewitness saw it "crawling up the stairs of the house, just like Spider-man. When it reached the top it suddenly jumped onto the roof. I don't think a human could do that. It then just disappeared. ... We can laugh and joke about it, but this is serious. All the families here have young girls."

No matter if the orang minyak is implausible, it's feared in many places throughout Malaysia. Villagers don't trust police to protect them and have instead taken to the streets on citizen patrol, armed with machetes, to seek out the monster.

The orang minyak is only one of many similar mythical beasts in the region. There's also the orang ekor (the "tailed man," a race of men and women who have tails); the orang gadang (the "big man," a 10-foot-tall beast with long hair), and the orang bati (the "flying man," a creature that stands about 5 feet tall, has black, leathery wings, and allegedly makes its home in dormant volcanoes).

While these creatures are rooted in myth and folklore, some people argue that the orang minyak is not a creature of folklore but instead a real, but unverified, monster akin to Bigfoot. According to Michael Newton in his "Encyclopedia of Cryptozology: A Global Guide" (McFarland and Co., 2005) the orang minyak "is an aggressive unknown hominid or primate reported from peninsular Malaysia. Natives of the region claim that this large, hairy biped attacks rural villages by night and carries off young women." It's not clear what he (or she — they can't all be males if there's a thriving population of them) does with these young women, but it's probably not pleasant.

By far the best known of all these is the orang pendek, or "short man," that has been reported in the forests of Sumatra. This pot-bellied creature is said to stand between 2 and 5 feet tall and range in color from yellow to dark black. Some believe that the hard evidence for the orang pendek is far better than for Bigfoot or the orang minyak, though that's not saying much.  (article source)

Warning! Computers and Smart Phones are attacked every day

                 Good Day Humboldt County!

Today we’re going on a walk down Technology Road. It’s not a smooth road despite the many benefits associated with computers and smart phones.

The fact is, you better be on guard when you take that walk with either technology, because there’s dangers ahead. To make your journey safer I advise reading these two articles to see what challenges you’re facing right now, and further on down the road. 

Information is power, and being informed is the key to staying on a safe path. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you never have to deal with a computer or smart phone virus. 


                                      New virus raids your bank account - but you won't notice

The best way to protect yourself from an online financial scam is to diligently check your bank accounts. At least, until now.

Israeli-based Security firm Trusteer has found an elaborate new computer virus that not only helps fraudsters steal money from bank accounts -- it also covers its tracks. Think of a crime plot involving a spy who plans to break into a high-security building and begins by swapping out security camera video so guards don't notice anything is amiss. Known as a surveillance camera hack, the technique has been used in dozens of movies.

A new version of the widely prevalent SpyEye Trojan horse works much the same way, only it swaps out banking Web pages rather than video, preventing account holders from noticing that their money is gone.

The Trojan horse employs a powerful two-step process to commit the electronic crime. First, the virus lies in wait until a customer with an infected computer visits an online banking site, steals their login credentials and tricks the victim into divulging additional personal information such as debit card information.  Then, after the stolen card number is used for a fraudulent purchase, the virus intercepts any further visits to the victim's banking site and scrubs transaction records clean of any fraud. 

That prevents -- or at least delays -- consumers from discovering fraud and reporting it to the bank, buying the fraudster critical extra time to complete the crime.


Victim account holders who check their balance at an ATM -- or even at a second uninfected computer -- would be able to spot the fraudulent transactions. The virus doesn’t impact bank systems, merely the characters that are displayed within the infected system's Web browser.  That means paper statements would reveal the fraud, too.

Of course, consumers who rely on paper statements could be a full 30 days behind when it comes to spotting fraudulent transactions.While Klein is worried about the "post transaction" attack, he said consumers who have vulnerable Web browsers are bound to be victims of one fraudster or another. "My take is that if your computer is infected with financial malware, it's game over anyway," he said. "My takeaway is you need to prevent getting infected with financial malware in the first place."


Smartphone hacking will rise in 2012, experts warn

Security experts predict 2012 will be a breakthrough year for cyber-attacks on smartphones. There are now enough of these mobile computers in use to make them an inviting target.

“Shopping and mobile banking are things that are going to leave a trail and contain lots of goodies that criminals can go after,” says Rachel Ratcliff Womack with the digital security firm Stroz Friedberg.

In addition to all of your personal information, you probably have business email and contacts on your phone. “It brings those two worlds together in a very convenient package for criminals to target,” Womack says. Not only are they loaded with all sorts of personal information a crook would like to steal, most smartphones are also completely unprotected.

The subject of malicious cell phone attacks has been greatly hyped the last few years. But during 2011 it became clear that this is a real threat that must be taken seriously. “We are only at the beginning of the wave,” says James Lyne, director of technology strategies at Sophos, an international firm that specializes in online security for businesses. “We’ve definitely got to start worrying about security on mobile devices.”

But people don’t seem to have the same security concerns with their smartphones that they do with their PCs. “The problem is that users may view these devices as eminently secure, when in reality they are just waiting to receive more attention from cyber-criminals,” Lyne says.

All smartphones can have security vulnerabilities, but right now most mobile malware is aimed at Android devices. That’s because Android powers more devices and it’s an open platform, which makes it’s easier for the bad guys to distribute their malicious software.

In a new report, Lookout Mobile Security estimates that Android users lost more than a million dollars to cyber-thieves last year. The company says the annual risk of encountering malware on an Android device is now 4 percent, up from 1 percent at the beginning of 2011. “In 2012, we expect to see the mobile malware business turn profitable,” says Kevin Mahaffey, Lookout’s chief technology officer. “What took 15 years on the PC platform has only taken the mobile ecosystem two years.”

                            What are the threats?
Mobile malware
can do all sorts of things. It can spy on you, run up your wireless bill or steal your personal information.

“The things they are doing on PCs, they’re also doing on smartphones — and even more,” says Gary Davis with McAfee Labs.

  • There are banking Trojans that will intercept financial transactions with your bank and then use that information to drain your bank account.
  • Other malware can send text messages to premium SMS services without your knowledge. You wind up with a huge bill at the end of the month for text messages your phone sent.
  • Spyware can harvest information about the places you go and when. It can also record phone conversations and forward them to the attacker. 
  • Quick Response codes (those black-and-white squares starting to show up in all sorts of ads) can also pose a security risk. Internet security company Kaspersky Lab recently reported that it found QR codes can link to malicious text messages or websites. And of course, you can always click on a malicious link yourself or be tricked into giving out your personal information via a phishing scam directed to your cell phone.

What can you do to protect yourself?
The first security software for smartphones is now available and more will soon hit the market. McAfee is working on a product that analyzes the “permissions” an app wants from your device and warns of possible threats. For example, a flashlight app doesn’t need to look at your location or your phone book. If the security software found a flashlight app asking for access to that information, it would flag it.

But do you really need security software for your mobile devices? “We don’t think that people have to install yet another program for security on their phones, at least not now,” says Paul Reynolds, electronics editor at Consumer Reports. “Probably the biggest security threat is losing your phone.”

Security expert Lyne agrees. He says mobile security today is about the basics: have a decent password, use encryption and make sure your device is patched — running the latest versions of both apps and the phone operating system.

But he says in the next year to 18 months, you probably will need to seriously consider security software, especially if you use your smartphone for shopping or banking. You also need to be careful about the apps you install. Think before you download. Check reviews. Be skeptical. “Stick with the major apps and the major app stores,” advises Rachel Ratcliff Womack. If you go to Amazon or the iTunes store, your chances of getting malware are relatively low, but still possible. You run a greater risk at the Android Market.

Time to walk on down the road…

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Doors to release first new song in 40 years

Good news for Doors fans (I’m one)…

The Doors will release their first new, unreleased track in 40 years on Monday to kick off the belated 40th anniversary of the band's landmark "L.A. Woman" album.

Lost track "She Smells So Nice," which "L.A. Woman" co-producer Bruce Botnick discovered while reviewing the album sessions for a re-mastered re-release project, will debut on the band's page at noon EST a day before it is released to radio.

The tune kickstarts what is being called "The Year of The Doors" and will pre-empt a new DVD, "Mr. Mojo Risin': The Story of L.A. Woman" and the release of a 40th anniversary package featuring the remastered 1971 album and previously unreleased tunes from the recording session and alternate takes of classic tracks "L.A. Woman," "Love Her Madly" and "Riders On The Storm."

A century of world history from 1911 to 2011 summed up in 10 minutes of YouTube clips

It’s a great way to brush up on your history – but some may find parts a bit depressing. Here’s 100 years of world events from 1911 to 2011 boiled down to a 10-minute clip using authentic/archival footage. It charts some of our greatest achievements, but also some of man’s most terrible acts.


Although a bit long, this video is fascinating and will keep your attention if you give it a chance. Thumbs up!

It begins with Roald Amundsen reaching the South Pole in 1911 and then takes in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, World War I, the erection of the Empire State Building in 1931, Hitler’s inauguration in 1933, World War II with Pearl Harbor and the atomic bomb attack on Japan in 1945 through to the Vietnam War, the election of Pope John Paul II in 1978, the Berlin Wall coming down, the last French atomic bomb test in 1996, the Mars Rover landing in 1997, the Twin Towers attack in 2001 and this year’s dreadful tsunami in Japan.

Booze hounds acting badly in public – have another drink!

The painting 1957-J No. 2 by Clyfford Still.

        Good Day Humboldt County!

 Today we’re going down the path of people acting badly in public places. Note that both stories involve drinking and drunken activity.

  But that’s okay right? Booze is legal. Drunken behavior in public is common. But heaven forbid we legalize marijuana! So pot heads watch drunks beat themselves up with amusement.

Cops: Colorado woman punches, rubs her buttocks against $30 million painting

A 36-year-old woman was charged Wednesday after punching, scratching and sliding her buttocks against a painting worth more than $30 million, authorities in Colorado said.

Carmen Tisch is accused of pulling her pants down to rub up against the work, an oil-on-canvas called "1957-J no.2", by the late abstract expressionist artist Clyfford Still.Image: Carmen Tisch

Tisch allegedly caused $10,000 worth of damage to the painting.Citing the police report, the Denver Post reported that the suspect was apparently drunk at the time.

Tisch was charged with felony criminal mischief on Wednesday and has been held on a $20,000 bond since the incident in late December, said Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney's Office. Kimbrough said Tisch urinated after she rubbed up against the canvas at the recently opened Clyfford Still museum in Denver.

"It doesn't appear she urinated on the painting or that the urine damaged it, so she's not being charged with that," Kimbrough said according to the Denver Post.

Flyers fans filmed beating Rangers fans

A man boasted on Facebook that he and his friends beat up two Rangers fans outside a Philadelphia cheesesteak hotspot following Monday's NHL Winter Classic. Police have released video footage online in the hope of catching the group of Flyers fans, but a man named Edward Neary appeared Wednesday to admit his participation in the attack.

Neary wrote on Facebook, "it was me and my friends do something about it," and then used a homophobic slur. His Facebook page, which has since been deleted, said that Neary graduated from high school in 2009. Neary later blamed the incident on his friends, identifying three by name, and claiming the Rangers fans instigated the fight.

He made the claim on a Facebook page for Flyers fans called Broad Street Hockey. The operator of the page had posted video of the fight in an effort to help police identify the attackers.Three suspects wearing Flyers jerseys are seen in the video repeatedly punching the two men in Rangers jerseys outside Geno's Steaks in the south of the city. Officials said the attack occurred around 7:15 p.m. local time.

One of the victims, later revealed to be off-duty Woodbridge, N.J., police officer Neal Auricchio Jr., was hospitalized with a concussion following the attack, his father told the New York Post. He said his son, a former US Marine who served two tours and earned a Purple Heart, had driven down to Philadelphia with a friend to watch the outdoor Winter Classic between the two rivals.

Time to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

‘In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous…’

photo source                                                   above quote by Aristotle

File this one under - ‘Where do these people come from?’

Alvin and the Chipmunks usually don't wear pants, and for a while last week, neither did a man watching their latest movie.

According to Chicago NBC affiliate WMAQ, Edward L. Brown, 34, attended a showing of "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" last week.

A half-hour into the movie, he took off all his clothes and walked completely naked in front of nearly 100 moviegoers, many of whom were children.

Instead of fleeing the scene, Brown then sat down, still naked, in the front row, where police found him. He's now facing numerous charges, including sexual exploitation of a child and disorderly conduct.

According to,  "Brown told officers that he had been let inside the movie theater for free by an unknown female who allegedly told him to have a seat in the front row of the theater, take off his clothes and wait for her, so they could have sex, smoke crack and do heroin."

Bail has been set at $100,000 and Brown remains in custody, RBLandmark reports. The Classic Cinema movie theater refunded patrons' ticket money. (article source)

Apocalypse not now: NASA debunks doomsday predictions

                  Good Day Humboldt County!

 One of the many subjects that will stay in the news this year is the earth, and how people are predicting it’s demise in 2012. The kooks are out there, no doubt, but it makes for some interesting reads.

Not everyone is a kook because they believe in myths, but given the chance to view facts regarding their mythical belief doesn’t always convince them. People have been predicting earth’s destruction since ancient times.

  The following is a wrap-up of beliefs and legends about the perceived apocalypse that’s supposed to happen this year:

On Dec. 21, 2012, many doomsday believers fear the apocalypse — anything from a rogue planet smashing into us to our world spinning end over end. However, the world should expect nothing more next year than the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, NASA says.

Many people point to the end of the Mayan Long Count calendar on Dec. 21, 2012 as evidence of the coming apocalypse, but astronomers have been quick to stress that there is nothing to be concerned about.

According to the ancient Mayan calendar, next year's winter solstice marks the end of a 144,000-day cycle. This cycle, which begins at the mythical Maya creation date, has already been repeated 12 times. The 13th will end in 2012, capping a full 5,200-year Mayan cycle of creation.

This date has long been shrouded in mystery, with many claiming that it will bring destruction to our planet. [End of the World? Top Doomsday Fears]

Rogue planet Nibiru?
One fear is that a rogue planet that has been dubbed "Nibiru" or "Planet X" is supposedly aimed at Earth. Self-proclaimed Nibiru expert Nancy Lieder, who says she is in contact with the aliens from Zeta Reticuli, first said Nibiru would cause widespread disaster in May 2003, only to change it to Dec. 21, 2012.

There is, however, no evidence that Nibiru is real.

"Nibiru is ridiculous because it doesn't exist — it never existed as anything other than a figment of the imagination by pseudo-scientists who don't seem bothered by a complete lack of evidence," astronomer Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object program office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told

There is no basis for the claim that it might be lurking behind the sun, as it could not have hidden from observation until now, Yeomans said. If such a planet was headed toward Earth by Dec. 21, 2012, it would already be visible to the naked eye.

Cosmic alignments?
There are also concerns that planets or stars might line up in ways that will transform Earth. For instance, some theorists claim that from our point of view, the sun will cross in front of the plane of our galaxy on Dec. 21. However, the sun already does this twice a year, Yeomans said.

In fact, the sun will eventually cross the plane of our galaxy. However, the sun is about 67 light-years from the galactic plane, so it should take several million years to do so, Yeomans said. Even then, when our solar system finally does cross the plane, nothing special will occur, he added. [10 Failed Doomsday Predictions]

Some also claim that gravitational effects from planets lining up with each other will somehow affect Earth. However, there is no planetary alignment due on Dec. 21, 2012, "and if there were, it wouldn't cause any problems," Yeomans said.

Flip-flopping Earth?
There is some alarm that 2012 could see the flipping of Earth's poles — either the planet's geographical poles, which mark the Earth's axis of rotation, or its magnetic poles, which our compasses point toward.

But, there is no reason to fear such an occurrence, scientists said, because the moon stabilizes our planet's spin. The planet's magnetic poles do flip, but over periods of about 500,000 years, and not suddenly, "but over thousands of years," with no evidence of a flip on Dec. 21, 2012, Yeomans said.

Even if the planet's magnetic poles do flip, no real problems would occur, other than the inconvenience of us having to change our compasses from north to south, he added.

But despite evidence to the contrary, doomsdays theorists have garnered attention, and similar prophecies will continue to proliferate unless scientists become more involved in bringing truth to these outlandish claims, Yeomans said.

Mounting hysteria regarding these unfounded doomsday predictions "will improve only if scientists get more engaged in debunking pseudoscience," he said. (article source)

Time to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Supersized saddles for fatties, and Cops go after 5-year old for overdue books

                Good Day Humboldt County!

 The holidays are over and it’s time to get back in the saddle… Today we’re going to look at why saddles have to be made larger nowadays. And for that little touch of stupidity that seems to make the world go around, there’s the story of a 5-year old who got a visit from the cops because of overdue library books.

Supersized saddles find home on the range as Americans fatten

In a sign of America's growing girth, dude ranches and hunting camps in the Northern Rockies are adding heavyweight horses and super-large saddles to seat swelling numbers of outsized clients.

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that a third of U.S. adults and 17 percent of children are obese, Western wranglers and outfitters say they are doing all they can to accommodate the widening of waistlines and other anatomical areas. "To put it bluntly, we call them the big-butt saddles," said Lee Hart, owner of Broken Hart Ranch in Montana. The business near Yellowstone National Park seasonally provides trail rides and guided hunting by horseback to nearly 2,000 people from across the country.

Hart and others said the 18-plus-inch saddles they now stock were all but nonexistent 30 years ago, when just 15 percent of American adults were considered obese. At that time, a 16.5-inch saddle would have been considered ample enough for a stout rider.Guest ranches and outfitting operations also are bulking up on riding stock crossbred with draft horses -- weighing in at roughly 1,500 pounds -- to fit their super-sized customers.

Cops In MA Sent To Retrieve Overdue Library Books From 5-Year-Old

Can it really be true? Police dispatched to retrieve overdue library books from a five-year-old? It is.

The chief of police in Charlton, Massachusetts sent a uniformed police officer to pay a visit to a home and demand the return of two overdue library books.

A sergeant from the Charlton Police Department was dispatched to the home of Shannon Benoit and her five-year-old daughter (pictured right). The sergeant’s task: to investigate two library books that were a few months overdue. The CBS affiliate in Boston covered the story:

The books were recovered and returned to the shelves for use by other Charlton residents.

Was this a good use of police assets? Even the man assigned to the case was not so certain. He told the CBS reporter;

“Nobody wanted to, on this end to get involved in it,” says Sgt. Dowd. “But the library contacted us, and the chief delegated, and apparently I was one of the low men on the totem pole.”

Time to walk on down the road…

Monday, January 2, 2012

Okay…It’s time for a laugh don’t you think?

Does It Bother You When..


Fighting Somali Pirates with Science is okay, but armed guards are better according to statistics

 “Piracy is a serious problem in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. While NATO, Russian, Iranian, and Chinese ships all escort merchant vessels through the Gulf of Aden, foreign militaries can't be everywhere at once. Ships traveling through dangerous waters often need to create their own improvised anti-pirate defenses ... and the market for these products is booming.

A variety of arms contractors and boutique manufacturers are producing everything from “stinky water” walls to high-powered water cannons to deter murderous Somali pirates.

One firm, the International Maritime Security Network, markets an expensive defense package called the “Triton Shield Anti-Piracy System.” The integrated product, which includes everything from on-ship security guards to a specialized camera system, also creates a wall of very stinky water. Bloomberg's Julie Bykowicz uncovered an impenetrable wall of stinky, foul-smelling water that can be deployed by Triton against potential pirate skiffs. International Maritime Security's Ralph Pundt described the smell as that of “a skunk on steroids.”

Lasers can also be used to defend against pirates. Earlier this year, British defense contractor BAE Systems announced the successful deployment of its prototype anti-pirate laser. BAE's Laser Distraction system uses a special eye-safe laser that can either provide a visual warning to pirates at distances greater than two kilometers or temporarily disorient attackers at closer distances. Ships can either deploy the Later Distraction system semi-autonomously or have a crew member operate the product.

Meanwhile, fellow British manufacturer BCB International (which has been featured in Fast Company before for its miniature drones) markets an anti-pirate air cannon. The Buccaneer is a lightweight air cannon designed to fire and deploy a net around any small craft trying to board a ship. The cannon has a range of approximately 2,700 feet and fires proprietary projectiles that create a net in the water around the craft. Apart from net projectiles, the Buccaneer also fires high-powered smoke projectiles.

BCB International's Phillippe Minchin told Fast Company that “the use of lethal force should be selected as a ‘last resort,’ whereas non-lethal protective measures can help to create a ‘layered’ and proportional defense around a vulnerable vessel or offshore platform. BCB International’s Buccaneer launchers utilize compressed air to launch entanglement nets up to 60 meters, which are designed to foul oncoming skiffs’ props and therefore disable the attacker before they have a chance to attempt boarding. Usefully, the Buccaneer can also deploy payloads such as smoke cartridges out to 700 meters, which means that like the LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) system, it can create an effect on a target well before it comes into close proximity with the vessel.”

This ship is equipped with the latest safety package called the Triton Shield anti-piracy system.

LRAD systems are frequently used by military and civilian craft to repel pirates. The sonic systems, often deployed by police and military forces at riots worldwide, create an unbearable wall of noise. In 2008, a British cruise ship successfully used LRAD to repel Somali pirates.

LRAD is a proprietary product of the LRAD Corporation, who make a significant portion of their sales from commercial shipping.

Fast Company reported previously on the growing use of advanced technology by Somali pirates. Because pirates have begun using more sophisticated methods to trap shipping vessels — it's not unknown for savvy maritime criminals to track sea traffic via Internet postings — protective measures have changed.

However, according to one expert, the best security is the old-fashioned kind. Jay Bahadur, author of "The Pirates of Somalia," believes that armed guards are the most important anti-pirate defense. In an email, Bahadur told Fast Company that while “I think there have been some valid counter-piracy technologies developed by defense contractors — the proposed BAE "laser distraction system" comes to mind — but in the end, it comes down to what ship owners can afford.

Commercial shipping is one of the most cutthroat industries in the world, and ship owners don't have the budgets to spend on space-age defenses. The recent drop-off in piracy has been due to the increased use of armed guards, not technological innovation, which in turn have been made economically feasible by skyrocketing ransoms and lengthening captivity periods.

One insurance company issued a stat a few months back that 80 percent of pirate attacks were being repelled by armed guards, and no vessel employing them has been hijacked.”

Additional anti-pirate security devices are expected to be unveiled at the 2012 Transport Security Expo, which will be held in London this coming November.” (article source)

Geologists suspect ‘Fracking’ is the cause of earthquakes in Ohio

Good day Humboldt County!

I’ve been following the earthquakes in Ohio with interest. I was born there, not far from Youngstown in 1950.

Last year I started researching the ill effects of fracking and was motivated to write a column about some of the concerns with the practice -

Earthquakes is one area that I didn’t touch on. People should be aware of what happens when we mess with mother nature.

                                      Ohio suspends well operations after series of small quakes

Ohio has suspended operations at five deep-well hazardous fluid disposal sites after a series of 11 earthquakes in the Youngstown, Ohio, in the past year, including one on Saturday with a magnitude of 4.0, officials said. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said Sunday it was halting operations at five Mahoning County wells owned by Northstar Disposal Services LLC as a precaution, citing concerns of a possible link between well activity and the quakes.

"Our geologist would say there is a strong chance there is a fault line very close to the site of the well," Ware said, adding the department was concerned that pressure from the fluid disposal could be affecting a previously unknown fault line.

Earthquakes induced by human activity have been documented in a few locations in the United States, Japan and Canada, according to the U.S. Geological Survey website. The largest and best known resulted from fluid injection at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal near Denver, Colorado, where in 1967 a 5.5 magnitude earthquake followed a series of smaller quakes.

Ware said Northstar began drilling in mid-summer. The injection disposal started in December 2010 and the first earthquake occurred in 2011. A representative for Northstar could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Earthquakes are not common in Youngstown, and seismic records going back to 1980 show no reports of earthquakes prior to the series of quakes last year. A 2.1 magnitude quake, the first of 11 in 2011, was reported on March 17. More were reported in August, September, October, November and December.

Ware said after a 2.7 magnitude quake was reported on December 24, Northstar voluntarily lowered the pressure at one well. On Saturday a 4.0 earthquake was reported, "causing the Ohio Department of Resources to recommend all wells in the area stop operations," Ware said. After the initial spate of earthquakes in the area, four more monitors were set up near the first well to get more data on the source of the seismic activity.

There are 177 disposal wells currently in operation in Ohio. The Mahoning County well is 9,000 feet/ deep and is used to dispose of hazardous fluids, injecting fluid that cannot be disposed of in landfills into sandstone well below groundwater level.”

Time to walk on down the road…

Sunday, January 1, 2012

As It Stands Proudly Presents a Survival Guide for 2012


     By Dave Stancliff/For The Times Standard

   Happy New Year!
   You did it. You survived, and hopefully thrived, for another year.
   Today you can throw out last year’s survival strategies and draw up a new one, or if I may suggest, use my Survival Guide to cope with challenges coming up in 2012.
   For starters, rip up that list of well-intentioned resolutions. You’re not going to keep them  anyway. With that pressure off you can relax and read some helpful tips for the year ahead.
   How to cope with the gathering of clowns known as Congress:
1) Clear your mind of any expectation of meaningful laws passed this election year.
2) Put your Congressman on an election hit list (they all come up for re-election at one time or another)  and vote for Daffy Duck if no credible candidate steps forward.
3.) Sit back, have some popcorn, and let the clowns entertain you. Laughter is good for your health.
   Things to avoid:
 1) Investing in the stock market unless you’ve had a full physical and mental evaluation, have money to burn, and don’t mind riding a financial roller coaster throughout the year.
 2) Buying Honey unless from a bee keeper or local source because 75% of what’s sold in stores is not technically honey. Most honey sold in the United States is processed through filtration that removes virtually all of the pollen naturally occurring in the product.
  In no particular order:
1) If you’re a woman planning to go on a holiday, don’t pick Aruba.
2) If you’re a man looking for a place to lose a pesky woman, pick Aruba.

  When on the internet:
1) Don’t feed the trolls.
2) If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of collecting prizes for contests you never entered.
   Getting along with fellow workers:
1) Always smile, even when you stab someone in the back, in order to maintain an air of professionalism at your workplace.
2) Bullied by your boss? Get a photo of your boss by whatever means. Drain the water out of your toilet and have an artist paint your boss’s picture (from the photo for reality) in the bowl. You’ll get even every day and not lose your job!

   Ways to pass time when bored:
1) Bungee jump off high bridges.
2) Watching people bungee jumping off high bridges and listening to their gut-wrenching screams! Especially first-timers.
    When followed around by a pesky sales clerk in a store:
1) Whip out a undercover police ID Badge (fake of course) and demand to know who they really work for?
2) Claim to be a long-lost relative in need of financial help and count the seconds it takes for the salesperson to disappear.
  How to know when to trust people:
1) If they’re a politician and their lips are moving, you know they’re lying.
2) If a person has no problem taking a lie-detector test with a list of questions you provide, it’s safe to say you can trust them. You may even want to marry them if you are single.

   Keys to coping with bad days:
1) Eat or drink chocolate while reading a good book or listening to music.
2) Use humor in any shape or form. For example, draw a funny face of whoever is ruining your day and use it as a dart board.
   Advice for controlling anger:
1) Think about funny things you’ve seen and heard…then smile and flip your tormentor the bird! 
2) Don’t be around rude or stupid people. Warning: this may mean staying in your house for the next 364 days!
    As It Stands,  this survival guide is list of suggestions. Please feel free to modify it for a more personal fit.

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...