Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mining Lore: A quick take from today, and a short history on the Yreka Mine

Yreka Mine, 1860

For a brief period of time, from 1992-94, I had the gold fever and was searching in the Siskiyou’s with a couple of buddies.

We spent a lot of time at the BLM office pouring over old records of mines. Some were still active, but most had reverted back to the state.

Long story short…never found enough to make our efforts worthwhile. I recall one day when the three of us went to the Siskiyou County Court House and saw a fabulous display of gold nuggets in the lobby behind a glass case.

We all wondered about how secure they were there. There was no apparent way to stop someone from doing a smash and grab. One in particular caught my eye – it looked like a big fat dog bone! We decided no one would be stupid enough to rob this display in such a public place. There were cops wandering around the halls a lot. (graphic - Yreka Mine, 1860)

On February 1, 2012, the LA Times reported:

“Thieves in Yreka, Calif., made off with $3 million in gold nuggets Wednesday after breaking into the Siskiyou County Courthouse and smashing a glass case that contained a display on the area's mining history, officials said.”

So much for someone being stupid enough to rob it. How about some local history about Yreka to wrap this post up with”

It was March, 1851 and gold had recently been discovered about 30 miles south of here on the Scott River.

A group of six men... while striking camp the next morning, Thompson observed something extraordinary. Because of heavy rains the ground was soaked, and the bunch grass, serving as breakfast for the pack mules, was being pulled out of the ground, exposing the roots. And on those roots, Thompson noticed, were flecks of gold. He and his men decided to stay.

Unbeknownst to Thompson, he had just spent the night on what would soon become known as “the richest square mile on earth.” As well, his accidental discovery set in motion the creation of a new town.

With so many gold-seekers already in California due to the ’49 gold rush, it wasn’t long before word got out, and within six weeks of Thompson’s discovery there were 2000 miners on Yreka flats. In those early days it was known simply as Thompson’s Dry Diggings, and was basically a huge camp full of transient gold miners. By August of that year, as the miners discovered that this area was the “second mother lode,” the population swelled to 5,000. At that time, the town, now called Shasta Butte City, moved to its present location, in order to be closer to the nearest water supply (Yreka Creek).

Slowly but surely, the new town was taking shape, and the first real structures were going up on Main Street (today’s Miner Street). In early 1852, with the population continuing to grow, the State Legislature created Siskiyou County. At that time, because there was another town called Shasta in the region, Shasta Butte City changed names again, this time choosing the local Indian word for Mt. Shasta—Yreka.

from "The Boomtown That Didn't Go Bust--A History of Early Yreka"

Richard Barter, also known as Rattlesnake Dick ...[d]uring California’s Gold Rush days, [settled] in at Rattlesnake Bar, a small mining camp in Placer County.....

However, Barter was unsuccessful in his quest for gold and soon decided to turn to a life of crime. ... In 1856, Barter learned from a drunken mining engineer that large gold shipments were being sent down Trinity Mountain from the Yreka and Klamath River Mines.

Barter sent George Skinner and three others to intercept the gold shipment, which was packed on mules. George and the other bandits stopped the mule train outside of Nevada City, California holding guns on the muleskinners. Meekly the men turned over $80,600 in gold bullion to Skinner and his men, without a shot being fired.

The bandits then made off with the shipment to keep a rendezvous at Folsom with Barter and Cy Skinner. However, George Skinner found it next to impossible to take the heavy gold shipment down the mountain passes without fresh mules. Soon, he split up the gold shipment burying half of it in the mountains.

Making their way to Auburn, the outlaws were soon intercepted by a Wells Fargo posse and gunfight ensued. In the melee, George Skinner was killed and his confederates fled. The lawmen recovered $40,600 of the stolen loot and though they searched diligently, they failed to find the remaining $40,000. ...

The treasure has never been recovered and is said to be somewhere on the slope of Trinity Mountain, said to have been buried about 12 miles south of the hold up point.

-- from Legends of America

America’s National Parks under siege: environmental threats, invasive species and climate change to blame

         Good Day Humboldt County!

  The reasons why our national parks face such challenges today can be attributed to several things.

  I recall working as an editor of a small town newspaper (The Desert Trail) during the 1980s, and going to Joshua Tree National Park numerous times; both recreational and on the job when a hiker would get lost or something along those lines. Today, Joshua Tree National Park is suffering from air pollution, among other things.

Joshua trees face peril from air pollution and climate change, which could leave Joshua Tree National Park with just 10 percent or less of the trees by 2100

“Disappearing glaciers, decreasing air quality and foundation species pushed to the brink of survival. America’s national parks are facing environmental threats that range from tiny invasive species to the planet-spanning impacts of climate change. In some cases, the situation is dire; in others, progress is being made. In aggregate, the issues point to how important — and how fragile — these special places are.

“Each unit in the system has its own unique challenges,” said Al Nash, spokesman for Yellowstone National Park, “but they all reflect a component of who we are and where we’re going. They’re about our shared experience as Americans.” (source)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, June 8, 2012

As It Stands Unique People: Part one – meet Derek Amato muscial genius

Amato’s life-changing head-injury happened in 2006 when he was horsing around with some friends.

I’m launching a new feature for this blog today – As It Stand’s Unique People. I love reading about people who do unique things and lead unique lives.

My definition of a unique life is one lived off the beaten path. People are often in awe of what another person does and either considers them a genius or a crazy person.

      My first candidate is Derek Amato: 

“When Derek Amato crashed headfirst into the hard bottom of a pool, he was scared about what he might have done to his brain. But amazingly the fallout from that accident wasn’t all bad.

Along with the headaches and other post-concussion symptoms, the accident brought Amato an unexpected gift: it turned him into a musical savant.” (Continue reading the story here)

RECORD BREAKING WEATHER: 2012 is the Warmest U.S. Spring on record

              Good Day Humboldt County!

  Scientist are calling this year a carbon dioxide milestone. Every kind of weather record imaginable was broken thus far and we have six more months to go. But whatever you do, don’t say “global warming” or you’ll rile up the crazy disbelievers! You know what group I’m talking about – they still think the earth is flat.

  I find it interesting how people can ignore facts and the changing world around them, and rely instead on misinformed rhetoric from the extreme right. There’s no fixing stupid, so clueless conservative partisans will continue to ignore the science even when their wearing shorts in the dead of winter in Alaska!

“So far, 2012 has been the warmest year the United States has ever seen, with the warmest spring and the second-warmest May since record-keeping began in 1895, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on Thursday.

Temperatures for the past 12 months and the year-to-date have been the warmest on record for the contiguous United States, NOAA said. Record warmth and near-record warmth blanketed the eastern two-thirds of the country from this spring, with 31 states reporting record warmth for the season and 11 more with spring temperatures among their 10 warmest.

"The Midwest and the upper Midwest were the epicenters for this vast warmth," Deke Arndt of NOAA's Climatic Data Center said in an online video. That meant farming started earlier in the year, and so did pests and weeds, bringing higher costs earlier in the growing season, Arndt said.

"This warmth is an example of what we would expect to see more often in a warming world," Arndt said. More long-lasting heat waves, record-high daytime temperatures and record-high overnight low temperatures are to be expected in a warming world, said Jake Crouch of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.” (Continue reading here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Election Madness 2012: White supremacist wins county GOP seat

How could a self-avowed skinhead have won a seat on a Republican committee? This surprising article not only explains how, but also exposes a flaw in the system. The GOP committee’s current bylaws don’t include a provision that would allow a member to be expelled for his/hers beliefs so they’re stuck with Steven Smith.

“Leaders of the Republican Committee of Luzerne County, Pa., are trying to figure out whether they can oust a reputed white supremacist who was elected to the committee with one vote – his own.

Steven Smith, co-founder of a racist group called the Keystone State Skinheads, was elected to one of two committee seats for his district, Pittston City's Ward 4, during Pennsylvania’s April 24 primary election.

The county GOP chief said that as much as other committee members want to distance themselves from Smith, their hands are tied for now by committee bylaws.” (Continue reading the story here)

In the name of art: dead flying feline causes global outrage and curiousity


                   Good Day Humboldt County!

I’ve heard it said that art is in the eye of the beholder. Artists are constantly exploring new avenues of expression using materials from the world around us.

I’ve seen some pretty crazy things done in the name of art, but a remote-controlled dead cat takes the honor of being the most bizarre piece of art I’ve ever witnessed.

  “A Dutch artist, upset over losing his beloved pet, Orville, had the animal stuffed and transformed its body into a remote-controlled helicopter, according to a Sky News report

A video posted to YouTube shows the flying feline slowly hover several feet in the air in a park, its body permanently spread eagle with propellers on its front paws. Artist Bart Jansen teamed up with radio control helicopter expert Arjen Beltman (photo above) after having a taxidermist preserve the pussy cat, Reuters reported.

The bizarre creation was then unveiled at the Kunstrai art festival in Amsterdam. The Orvillecopter doesn’t fly quite right, however, a glitch Jansen hopes to fix. “He will receive more powerful engines and larger props for his birthday,” Jansen said, adding that he hoped the upgrades will allow for a more “steady flight.”

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You’ll be surprised how easy it is to come up with ‘scientific results’ on dubious studies and polls

                  Good Day Humboldt County!

If you watch, or read, the news every day then you probably saw or heard of at least one study, or poll, that claimed to use scientific methods to reach a conclusion. Political, scientific, and entertainment polls are a way of life in America.

Many people accept their results with no question, assuming experts know what their doing. They’re right about some pollsters and researchers with ethics and morals perhaps, but many others manipulate figures, numbers, and percentages, into a false picture according to their agenda.

Flat out. Don’t believe every poll or research paper is an honest assessment of things. Some polls have a certain amount of credibility – like Gallup for instance – but you still have to look at factors like the questions asked. Do they lead you into an inevitable conclusion? Who conducted the poll or research? Why? Who financed it?

There’s a lot to consider when you look at a poll or read a research paper. How do you tell if one research paper claiming marijuana is harmful and can give you cancer, and another tells you the complete opposite? Who is telling the truth? You have to do your own research to determine that. It’s often not easy, but I think preferable to being a lemming and not questioning polls and surveys.

Take them all with a grain of salt. Polls are playthings for politicans and in election years like this we’re bombarded with them. Consider this; it’s easy to publish statistically significant evidence consistent with any hypothesis.

See what you think about the following article - a “scientific paper” - on how easy it is to bullshit people!

 “Would you believe a scientific paper that said listening to the Beatles song "When I'm 64" made people get younger? It was tested by experiment, and the result came out with "statistical significance," which is the gold standard for incorporating new findings into the established scientific literature.

The point of the experiment was not really to test the youth-restoring effects of the song, but to show how too many dubious studies in social sciences are getting published in respected journals. (If it were really true, Paul McCartney would get even richer.)

Wharton researcher Uri Simonsohn constructed the song experiment as a sort of test case, along with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Berkeley. They conducted a similar experiment showing that listening to the children's song "Hot Potato" made people feel older.

The researchers got both results using well-accepted practices for collecting, parsing, and analyzing statistical data, and both easily met qualifications for acceptance in peer-reviewed journals, said Simonsohn, a co-author of the paper.

"It's unacceptably easy to publish statistically significant evidence consistent with any hypothesis," he said.”

(read the entire story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road….

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Last in a lifetime event: Venus transit: A last-minute guide

Thousands of scientists and skywatchers around the world have made detailed plans to monitor today's transit of Venus across the sun, but chances are that word of the last-in-a-lifetime event is just now sinking in for millions of just plain folks.

Venus' disk begins to pass over the left edge of the sun's disk a little after 6 p.m. ET, and makes a stately crossing that lasts until about 12:50 a.m. ET. (Of course, the sun will have set on the East Coast by then.)

Some part of the transit will be visible from most locations on Earth — though you're out of luck if you're in eastern South America, western Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, Antarctica or the middle of the Atlantic.

The precise time when different edges of the planet's disk cross the sun's edge is actually a big deal. Those times vary by location on Earth, and the variations can be used to calculate dimensions and distances in the solar system.

Today, so much is known about those dimensions that astronomers can predict the key times of the transit based on your location. To find out what you can see when, use the U.S. Naval Observatory's transit computer.

You should never gaze at the sun without proper eye protection. Sunglasses are not adequate. Neither are black plastic garbage bags, or film negatives. Unsafe viewing can damage your retinas.

(Read the whole story here.)

Homegrown Terrorists: American gangs wage war against each other and the public

          Good Day Humboldt County!

Gangs are nothing new in America’s history. They’ve been around since the Declaration of Independence. I remember growing up in Southern California in the 50s and 60s in the Mexican barrios (La Puente, El Monte, Baldwin Park and Azusa) where I was a minority.

I grew up fighting in those neighborhoods. I didn’t have a choice. The first time I was attacked by a gang (five kids) I was in the third grade. I was walking home from school when they came after me like animals. I picked up a couple of rocks and threw them before being overwhelmed in the front yard of a house. They beat me senseless. An old woman came out of the house – at some point – and put a wet cloth on my head. I was bleeding from the nose and from several cuts, including one over my left eye that is still visible today.

Somehow, I survived that and countless other encounters, and graduated from Azusa High School in 1968. My reason for mentioning my experience with gangs, is that I understand the gang culture. In time, I earned the respect of different gang members and was even accepted by them because I was ready to fight despite the odds.

I didn’t hang with them, but could pass them on the street – have a conversation – and go on without having to fight them. Back then I realized gang members were “born” into gangs. I fought with the sons of the fathers who ran tough street gangs or were lifetime gang members.

Today, gangs are so powerful that we can’t seem to stop them, or even contain them. They come in every nationality and race, but all have one thing in common; they’re waging bloody wars against each other and law abiding Americans. They’re homegrown terrorists. What can be done to stop them?      

The recent surge in violence that left 10 dead in Chicago during the Memorial Day weekend underscores a continuing national struggle to control criminal gangs whose numbers continue to grow even as violent crime has declined throughout much of the nation.

Of the 200 murders in Chicago so far this year — up from 139 at the same time last year — local police said that about 80% were gang-related in a city whose gang membership is estimated at more than 100,000.

"We're trying to get our arms around it," said Robert Tracy, Chicago's chief of crime control strategies. "We're trying everything."

Tracy attributes much of the violence to a rapidly-changing gang structure in which young members of the city's established 59 gangs have splintered into more than 600 subgroups, all seeking to assert their authority

Chicago's gang presence largely tracks a troubling national trend in which criminal gangs have been expanding in number and reach throughout the country, according to the National Gang Center, an arm of the Justice Department.

"At a time when most cities are experiencing their lowest levels of violent crime in a quarter of century, gang activity remains a potent problem," concluded an April report released by the National Gang Center.

James "Buddy" Howell, a senior research associate at the gang center, said gangs have become so "entrenched" in some of the nation's largest cities that gang-related crime is largely immune from forces that have been driving down overall crime.” (Read the whole story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fantastic New Invention: Sleep anywhere in public and people won’t know!

 Designer Jamie O’Shea must have really wanted a nap when he created his vertical bed design. The vertical allows the user to sleeping standing up right in the middle of the street. Not satisfied without testing his own creation, O’Shea slept for 40 minutes in downtown New York. The bed design can be collapsed into a small suitcase and is attached to a subway vent when in use. The user gets a peaceful rest, as the bed comes with noise canceling headphones, opaque sunglasses and a free-standing umbrella for napping in the rain. Next time you walking down the street and feeling tired, simply set up the vertical bed and take a nap.

I can see politicians of all stripes wanting one of these vertical beds. It has to beat bumping their heads on desks and podiums while trying to stay awake during long meetings.

STUPID LAWS: Today we’re featuring 12 laws in the great state of Alabama

2308_stupid-laws          Good Day Humboldt County!

If you just happen to be traveling through Alabama in the near future here’s some laws you might want to be aware of:

  Bear wrestling matches are prohibited.

             Why does this law exist?
                 Full text of the law.

Incestuous marriages are legal. Full text of the law.

It is illegal to impersonate a person of the clergy. Full text of the law.

It is illegal to maim oneself to escape duty. Full text of the law.

It is considered an offense to open an umbrella on a street, for fear of spooking horses. Full text of the law.

It is illegal to wear a fake moustache that causes laughter in church. Full text of the law.

It is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while operating a vehicle. Full text of the law.

It is illegal to sell peanuts in Lee County after sundown on Wednesday. Full text of the law.

It is illegal to howl at ladies within the city limits. Full text of the law.

It is unlawful to wear women’s pumps with sharp, high heels. Why does this law exist?

No person within the city may possess confetti. Full text of the law.

Bathing in city fountains is prohibited. Full text of the law.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, June 3, 2012

AS IT STANDS: Controversial conversations about politics


             By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
First Partisan pol:
“My Super PAC is raising more money than your Super PAC.”
Second Partisan pol: “Oh yeah. My National Party has raised more than yours this year.”
Observation: Lots of money targeted for mud slinging by both sides.
First Tea Party member: “I hear Obama has come out and admitted he’s gay.”
Second Tea Party member: “Fact is, I hear Obama can’t produce a real marriage license proving he and Michelle are legally married.”imagesCA4LMW4X
Observation: Some conservatives are over the edge.
First Hispanic: “What do you think about voting for Romney? I hear he has some family in Mexico.”
Second Hispanic: “No way would I vote for that ‘etch-a-sketch’ hombre. It’s true though, he has family in Mexico. I hear they’re in hiding.”

Observation. Romney will not do well with Hispanic voters.
First CEO: “Now that we have legally achieved transforming corporations into people, we’re ready for the next step.”
Second CEO: “Taking over the White House?”
First CEO: “No…becoming gods.”
Observation: The way Americans worship money why can’t divinity be bought?

imagesCATMGVDOFirst 99% : “I’m getting clobbered because I don’t qualify for any tax breaks this year. I may have to live in my car after paying my taxes.”
Second 99% : “I hear you. I paid a higher tax percentage than Mitt Romney did.”
First 99%: “What do you expect from a guy who has overseas accounts to dodge taxes here in the U.S?”
Observation: Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s bad form for a future U.S. president to have financial accounts overseas. A bit hypocritical, don’t you think?

First 1%: “The rabble simply doesn’t understand business. What is it about the “trickle down theory” that they don’t get?”
Second 1%: “The part where they’re downing.”
First 1%: “We’ll have to work on that. Give Mitt a call for me will you?”
Observation: It’s going to be a tough sell for Romney to act like he cares about the 99% ers when he’s a 1% er with a vision of more tax breaks for the wealthy.

First Gambler: “I bet Obama and Romney will pour equal amounts of cash into buying the presidency.”
Second Gambler: “That’s pretty much a given. How about betting they’ll set a new record for money raised (wasted?) in a presidential election campaign?”
Observation: This will be an historic presidential election for some pretty sad reasons.
Religious Right Voter #1: “That’s it for Barack Hussein Obama! Siding with the homosexuals and granting them equal rights is going to get him struck down by lightning from God almighty! Pass it on!”
Religious Right Voter #2: “There’s just one little problem with that thought brother…Romney is a Mormon. You know, a cult member.”
Religious Right Voter #1: “You had to bring that up, didn’t you?”
Observation: I don’t believe religion will play a major part in the upcoming debates for several reasons. The majority of Americans are much more concerned about the economy and spending for wars than they are about conflicting religious beliefs.

First Homeless Man: “If I could vote, I’d vote for Romney.”
Second Homeless Man: “You got to be kidding! He’s a Republican. They hate us!
First Homeless Man: “Yeah, but the Republicans don’t pretend to care about us, unlike the Democrats. At least I’d know for sure what I’d get for my vote.”
Observation: The number of homeless people in America is a national shame. The statistics show the ranks of the homeless are swelling even as social help programs are cut from state, city, and county budgets.

President Obama: “When you’re President, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot.” (Source - )

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney: “This president is putting us on a path where our lives will be ruled by bureaucrats and boards, commissions and czars. He’s asking us to accept that Washington knows best - and can provide all.” (Source -
Observation: This is the kind of smack talk we can expect from Obama and Romney in the coming months. It’s not enough. Americans want to hear solid proposals on how to solve the many challenges this country faces.
As It Stands, did you hear the one about the partisan politician who always told the truth? Neither did I.

Website that picked this column up:

1) News Now – USA Politics (Pg 12)


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...