Friday, June 30, 2006

Just in time for July 4 – yet another lifejacket lecture...

(Photo source:

Earlier this evening I heard a report on the scanner that a boat had flipped in Humboldt Bay. No further details were available.

My first thought was that if the boat was a small skiff or a sailboat, the occupants should be fine as long as the incident didn’t take place near the jetty. The bay is narrow, and if you’re wearing a lifejacket you should be able to swim to shore.

You’ll be cold, wet and miserable, but you will survive. Besides, if it’s light outside, there’s a good chance someone will see you and come to your aid.

But then I remembered the obvious – a lot of people don’t wear lifejackets.

That means all bets are off.

Year after year, journalists write the same stories over and over again.

Boats capsize and people die. The common factor among the victims is that they weren’t wearing lifejackets.

I’ve written these stories myself. In most cases, the victims were strangers, but some I actually knew.

All the victims I wrote about would be alive today if they had worn lifejackets.

I could go on and on, but I’ll just cut to the chase – wear a lifejacket. When you spend $10,000 on a boat, why not set aside a couple hundred dollars and buy some really nice lifejackets? Heck, I even grant you permission to be frivolous and buy several jackets so you can color coordinate. Slap some bling-bling on your lady’s lifejacket and if you’ve got kids, adorn the jackets with whatever cartoon characters are fashionable at the moment.

You can flat-out bribe people to wear their lifejackets. If worse comes to worse, pull out your rusty bait knife and threaten them with bodily harm. Say something like “Put on that lifejacket or I’ll carve out your eyeball with my rusty blade.”

They’ll get the point, and you may save their lives.

Oh, and don't forget to eat your vegetables, wear your seatbelt, wash your hands and, if you sleep curled up with a shotgun, make sure the trigger lock is on.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Policy Shmolicy

I’m a volunteer for a public radio station. I’m not much of a volunteer, but a volunteer none the less.

Like all volunteers, I have the option of signing up for the organization’s listserv – which is basically an e-mail list. The listserv is a tool the station’s management uses to send out messages to the volunteers and the volunteers use to communicate with each other.

The content of the listserv is pretty mundane. There’s nothing earth shattering.

So earlier this year I was surprised to receive a form in the mail that I was required to sign if I wanted to stay on the listserv. It stated that I had to agree to keep the listserv content confidential.

It was a secrecy agreement which isn’t something I’m fond of, especially when it comes to public agencies.

So I complained and so did several other folks. The station did the right thing by forming a committee to actually develop a written policy on this issue. That was a reasonable move.

Today the new policy showed up in an email and included language that would require a participant to obtain written consent before making any listserv comments public.

It was just another secrecy agreement,

As I stated before on this blog, I have problems with this. What if listserv comments reveal financial irregularities at the station? What if there’s an abuse of power? Or what if one of the volunteers discloses the secret location of Jimmy Hoffa’s body?

All of this is highly unlikely. But anything is possible in Humboldt County. Weirder things have happened and the station is not without its past scandals.

Under the policy, I would have to obtain permission before revealing the listserv contents. If I didn’t get permission, I would have to either keep the information secret, or violate my volunteer contract.

Neither is a reasonable option.

I had heard that a public agency’s listserv is public record and decided to do some research on the internet.

It turns out that this is correct. The listserv is public record under Government Code 6250. The law is clear.

Can a station require a volunteer to keep a public record confidential? Of course not.

I suppose the station could ask, as a courtesy, that I obtain consent before publishing listserv comments. But they can’t require it.

So I submitted some revised policy language.

The station can come up with just about any kind of policy it likes whether I agree with it or not. But I don't see how the current policy is even legal.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

No interview, no story

In Humboldt County we have a newspaper war going on. It’s a competitive environment and we’re all involved to some degree.

But the main battle is between the two dailies. For a variety of reasons this has spawned all sorts of conspiracy theories and accusations of the owners using their clout to tilt the coverage to further their own agendas.

Today I was thinking about my experience as a reporter and whether owners ever tried, or were successful, in manipulating the coverage.

During the short time I worked for the Willits News as a freelance reporter this was never an issue. They were happy to have someone write articles, work for cheap and do so with some enthusiasm. Zero interference.

Then I worked for the Daily Democrat in Woodland. It was part of a corporate chain. My impression was that the owners didn’t care about anything but money. Editorial content was irrelevant. We probably could have printed a photo of a dog’s butt on the front page every day and, as long as the money flowed upstream, the owners wouldn’t care.

On one occasion the publisher asked me to write a feature about his Rotary buddy who won some sort of award. He was a rich prune grower. I agreed and wrote an extremely boring feature story. (I deserve a Pulitzer for resisting the temptation to write “He was a regular guy.”)

Then it was off to the Arcata Union. No interference at all, although my editor got berated by the publisher AFTER the paper ran my front-page feature on a fellow who got famous by running up on stage and breaking a statue that had just been presented to former President Ronald Reagan by a broadcasters association. The guy spent time in federal prison for this, and I interviewed him after his release.

The publisher was a conservative Republican, and the guy I wrote about was obviously a liberal Arcata activist. The publisher didn’t seem to understand that the fellow was newsworthy.

Then the Arcata Union was closed and I was transferred to the Humboldt Beacon – owned by the same publisher.

Circa 1996 there was a proposal to locate the Midway aircraft carrier in Humboldt Bay as a tourist attraction. It was an interesting idea, but there were some concerns. The Midway is BIG and Humboldt Bay is SMALL. There were some environmental issues.

Oh, and my publisher owned a bunch of land on the waterfront close to where they wanted to locate the Midway. He was opposed to the project and hired an attorney to write letters to the city detailing the reasons for his opposition.

The publisher, by the way, was slightly more elusive than Bigfoot. I met him a couple of times and it always seemed clear that I was supposed to keep my distance. I was a commoner and he was royalty, at least that’s how he acted.

The publisher contacted my editor and told him that an article needed to be written about the Midway controversy.

And then the editor assigned me the article and provided me with the attorney’s letters as background information.

I agreed to do the story, but on one condition – I would be allowed to interview the publisher. I explained to my editor that it would obviously be unfair to exclude the publisher from the story, being that he was the main opponent of project.

The editor retreated to his office.

I began making phone calls. It was an interesting story and I found myself thoroughly fascinated by the topic. This was a good story. The story had been covered by other media outlets, but I had at least two “scoops.”

First were the environmental and legal issues raised by my publisher’s attorney. He had some good points to make which I hadn’t read about anywhere else.

Second was the fact that a local millionaire newspaper owner was the main opposition to the project.

At the end of the day, my editor informed me that the publisher would not allow an interview. I informed my editor that due to the publisher’s decision, I would not be able to write the article.

I kept it simple. It was a yes or no proposition. No interview, no article.

No need for any drama or yelling. My editor knew that I meant it and didn’t challenge me.

I was happy about this because it meant I had one less article to write that week. Researching and writing an article takes time and, being that I was on salary, more hours didn’t result in more money – just more work.

So now I had more time to plot my escape from a company I no longer wished to work for.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Another crash

Friday is crash day.

I don’t know why, but it’s the day of the week that I typically photograph traffic accidents.

I don’t have any statistics to back this up, but people seem to crash more on Fridays.

It makes one re-think the TGIF concept.

This afternoon the alarm sounded with a report of a roll-over traffic accident on U.S. Highway 101, just a half mile south of my house.

I tossed the press pass over my head and grabbed the camera, pen and note pad.

I also grabbed the advertisement that I was about to take to a client to be proofed.

A horrific event and personal tragedy just happened to fit into my schedule. That’s gross, but true.

Upon arrival I realized I had gotten there before the firefighters and the ambulance. Thank goodness the CHP was on scene. First aid was being administered, at least that’s how it appeared.

The report of a roll-over was inaccurate. A woman had gone off the freeway and slammed into a tree.

Reasons unknown. Investigation ongoing.

She was pinned inside a red Pontiac. She was screaming. It was like the screams you hear in a horror movie when a woman is being attacked my an ax-wielding maniac, but slightly muffled and less animated.

Basically, screams of horror and fright.

That got under my skin.

It was disturbing, but I couldn’t help but think of those sounds as a good sign.

Screaming is a sign of vitality.

She’ll be OK, at least I hope so.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


• Today I finally received a check back from the Superior Court for $156. I received notice that I won my traffic ticket case on April 27 (See previous blog entry). Those bastards took nearly 60 days before refunding my money and didn’t even pay any interest. That’s a pretty sweet racket they’ve got going there. The good news is that I nearly forgot about the money, so it seems like “extra” dough. Which is good because I’m contemplating the purchase of a new toy, the details of which will be revealed here as things unfold.

• The roof on my garage is finally covered with wood. No gaping holes. I was worried about punks climbing inside and stealing stuff at night, but no more. I was going to work on it today, but decided to stay away from power tools and off the roof after a foolish accident. I was doing some paperwork when my stapler jammed. I went to fix it and, after a series of unfortunate events, a staple was lodged in my finger about as far in as physically possible. I removed it and iodine was applied. No biggy. But if I could do something that stupid with a stapler, I figured I had better stay away from electric saws.

• My previous blog entry was about the documentary “Grizzly Man.” Good stuff. But that’s not the only recent quality viewing on the boob tube. On Monday we watched “Entourage” on HBO. It’s a 30-minute show, but it’s so enthralling and entertaining that it feels like it goes by in 8 minutes. And then there’s “Deadwood,” which the San Francisco Chronicle critic aptly describes as “Shakespeare in the mud.”

• Today I received a nice card from one of my columnist. On the cover was a photo of Muhammed Ali hovering over a knocked-out Sonny Listen. Great image! What’s weird is that my columnist had no way of knowing that boxing was on my mind. Over the weekend I watched hours of Classic ESPN, which was a free preview on the local cable. I had it on in the background while working. It was a real distraction, almost a curse. This is gripping TV. There were classic Ali fights, but the best was Rocky Marciano. I hesitate to write anything about boxing because I’m far from being an expert. In fact, my knowledge is minimal if not deficient. Still, there’s something about boxing that keeps me interested. It’s a savage sport, in which the ultimate goal is to inflict a brain injury on one’s opponent. It’s also very personal. Marciano and Louis cried together in the locker room after their infamous fight. It was great to watch entire Marciano fights. He had a street style of fighting. Very entertaining.

Grizzly Man

(Photo Source: USA Today)

Everyone knows that you shouldn’t play with grizzly bears.

Well, almost everyone.

Timothy Treadwell seemed to think it was a good idea. And, amazingly, he got away with it for nearly 13 summers in the wilds of Alaska.

Until the inevitable happened – he and his girlfriend were killed and eaten by a grizzlies in the summer of 2003.

Treadwell’s amazing and tragic tale of stupidity is chronicled in a fantastic documentary titled “Grizzly Man,” which we watched last night. The director was fortunate enough to have hours of footage shot by Treadwell. It also includes interviews with friends and family, along with archival footage of Treadwell’s appearances on shows like “60 Minutes” and “David Letterman.”

Treadwell is portrayed as a troubled, wannabe actor with mental health issues who finds some celebrity in his grizzly adventures.

The footage is amazing. Treadwell wanders out into a field inhabited by grizzlies and gets up close and personal. He talks to them. He gets in the river while they’re catching fish. He touches them.

In a lot of the scenes, Treadwell seems to be a one-man show with his camera mounted on a tri-pod and filming him giving commentaries about the bears.

Sometimes he speaks in an authoritative voice with an upbeat enthusiasm and excitement for his topic. Then Treadwell switches to a fake-sounding voice as if he’s narrating a program for children. This is interspersed with occasional swearing and narcissistic/paranoid rants.

He was a weird dude.

Then he gets mauled and eaten. The lens cap was on his camera when this happened, although the audio was recorded. Rather than play the audio, the director/narrator listens to it with headphones and we hear his reaction.

That was a good move on the director’s part.

The director also offers some good advice to Treadwell’s friend who inherited the tape – destroy it.

That’s sound advice, no pun intended.

This is one of those films in which you almost feel guilty about your reaction. Treadwell was naive, somewhat deranged and ultimately got eaten by a wild animal. Maybe we should feel bad for him and the loved ones he left behind.

But I didn’t. All I could think about was his stupidity.

His death was no more surprising than if he had jumped out of an airplane without a parachute.

The only surprise is that it didn’t happen sooner.

I was also angered by the fact that he put others in danger. And not just his girlfriend, but any other person that might wander upon the bears that he had acclimated to the presence of humans.

Grizzlies aren’t exactly shrinking violets. But it’s possible they could be scared away from the unknown with enough screaming, hollering and rock tossing.

The bears that hung around Treadwell got the opposite training. Humans are harmless fun – and tasty snacks.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Project

I’m working on Phase 1 of a project that would take a normal person one or two weekends to complete.

So far, I’m at least six weeks into the project with another month or so to go before Phase 1 is finished.

The overall project involves refurbishing my garage, a detached structure consisting of two parts – the original garage built in the 1950s, and an addition which was tacked on a couple decades later. At least that’s my guess.

The old section of the garage is a simple square on a cement slab, with a pitched roof and small loft for storage.

The addition was tacked on to the side, at a slightly lower elevation. It was built with a gently sloping roof which almost looks flat. The builder used inferior materials and craftsmanship.

The addition was dry walled, had a ceiling with acoustic tiles and even a built-in electric heater. It appears as if it may have been used as a makeshift apartment or office in its prime.

Then the property became a rental unit and was inhabited by various criminals in the years before we purchased it. I’m told that it was a meth lab and a marijuana grow room, although that’s just hearsay. All the electrical wires were cut. There were holes in the drywall.

The condition of the garage was considered bad enough when we bought the property the garage wasn’t considered when calculating the value of the bank’s collateral when making the loan – or something like that. I don’t recall all the details because at the time. I didn’t care – I just wanted the house.

The garage had its problems. But it’s a garage. It functioned and has served us well.

But a leak developed and, during this winter’s record rainfall, the addition began to leak more and more.

I got up on the roof to inspect it and could feel the wood cracking and splintering underneath. In one spot, I probably could have stuck by foot through the roof if I applied enough force.

Not good. This was going to require some serious wood replacement.

Out with the crowbars.

The ceiling consisted of acoustic tiles glued to thin sheets of plywood. After scraping off the tiles, I attempted to pry off the plywood. I began to pull down a sheet when I noticed it was covered with hundreds of little black dots.

Suddenly, the dots were creeping and crawling and cascading right towards me as I pulled down the plywood – TERMITES!

The plywood formed a chute which deposited the bugs on my head and torso, and there was nothing I could do but try to keep my mouth closed and try not to swallow any. They crawled in my hair and beard.

Eight sheets of plywood later, the ceiling was down and I took a giant trailer load of crap to the dump – $40 worth.

Then it was on to the roof. Boards were removed and eaves replaced.

My carpentry skills are somewhat lacking – some might even say nonexistent. I have trouble keeping things straight. But I plow ahead.

I’m now about 80 percent done with this portion. A couple more hours and Phase 1 will be complete.

Phase 1 is wood replacement.

Fortunately I discovered that the old section of the garage was built out of redwood. This is covered with asbestos siding – great stuff as long as you resist the temptation to grind it down and snort it. It’s fire proof, rot proof and bug proof.

Phase 2 will involve pealing off the shingles on the old part of the garage and then reroofing the entire structure. This all has to be done at once – and done quickly – because you never know when it’s going to rain.

Phase 3 will involve new gutters, some exterior paint and finishing work. I’ll take my time with this phase. There won’t be any rush.

Phase 4 will probably take place in the winter months. It involves some drywall replacement, painting and the construction of THE MOTHER OF ALL SHELVES.

But, hey, I’m getting ahead of myself. First I need to get out a newspaper.

Prophet Mark

Today I received a post card from Prophet Mark with the message "Pacific Tsunami will be soon! Not coming to California!"

I've seen Prophet Mark on the Arcata Plaza holding a sign with a similar message. And sometimes he comes to McKinleyville and stands at the corner of School Road and Central Avenue.

Prophet Mark claims to have set a "hedge of protection" along the coast so that when the tsunami hits, we'll be spared.

Who needs FEMA when you've got Prophet Mark?

But, just in case, get to higher ground when the tsunami sirens sound.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Drag Racing

Bow down to the awesome power of my 1998 Chevrolet Prizm, which won 4 out of 5 races this evening at the Samoa Dragstrip.

In the first race, I faced North Coast Journal scribe Luke Johnson, who was a formidable foe in his 1991 Honda Civic DX. My four-cylinder automatic left him in the dust, although he started to catch up near the end where speeds reached a scorching 70 mph.

After my overwhelming victory, race officials decided in the second heat to give Luke a car length's head start, as seen in the photo above. That, along with a strategic blunder on my part, allowed Luke a single win, and my only defeat. (Note: My car begins to float and wobble at about 70 mph. I got nervous and I assumed he wouldn't catch up, so I let up on the gas. Big mistake. He won.)

The next two races were mine – with the pedal to the metal all the way. No more hesitation on my part.

A highlight of the race was hearing Dennis Mayo yell "All journalists are socialists!" at the starting line. Dennis is the one that talked me into racing. He was joking... kind of. I endorsed a candidate he disagrees with. He considers her too liberal.

I also endorsed a candidate that Dennis agrees with. That got me labeled a "right wing moderate" by a guest columnist in the Arcata Eye. Oh, and the publisher of another publication suggested that my paper, along with others, is secretly controlled by a local neocon billionaire.

All good fun – socialist, liberal, right wing and ultimately a neocon puppet. That's OK with me. Just don't call me a fascist or a Nazi. But I digress....

In the fifth and final race of the evening, I faced Tom Marking, manager of the McKinleyville Community Services District. Tom drove a 1972 MG Midget.

Above is a photo before the race. I'm in the orange shirt with the hair sticking up and looking awkward. I didn't know we would be posing for a photo. I was looking at CP's camera, while everyone else was looking at a different camera. Check out the photo. And while everyone was getting ready to shake hands, all I could think about was how the track was sticky with rubber. Weird.

Tom's MG looked like a sweet ride. I was jealous and figured defeat was imminent.

Tom had me in the beginning, shifting gears like a pro and taking the lead. I was behind. But the MG's 1200cc were no match for the 1.8 liter Prizm, which eventually passed Tom and cruised to victory.

Anti-freeze was dripping out of Tom's car at the end of the race. I was a little worried about how he and his wife would get home until I remembered that Tom is an engineer. He'll figure it out. Give Tom enough cardboard and duct tape, and he'd probably turn the MG into an aircraft and fly it home.

After the race, I posed with Luke for a glamour shot. That's me on the left. We were trying to look mean and tough.

We were among the "celebrity racers" for this weekly event. Yeah, you read that right... welcome to Humboldt County. I guess the weatherman had the day off.

But we weren't the only racers. The place was packed with lots of kids.

The only qualifications to race are that you have a working car, a driver's license and no drugs or alcohol on board. You sign a piece of paper and line up to race. It's totally free.

There were kids in pickups, Camaros, Hondas, Mazdas and just about every make and model you can think of.

Two guys raced in a Dodge Viper. There were some muscle cars on hand and a lot of fast-looking bikes.

Good fun. I may write a more detailed account of my experience later. In the meantime, these scribbles will have to do.

Friday, June 09, 2006

(Source: Collings Foundation)

When I came to McKinleyville about 12 years ago I rented a shack at the end of Holly Drive. It was referred to as the “drive through house” because once a vehicle had literally driven into the living room.

That’s what happens when you have a house located at the end of a long straight-a-away – eventually someone gets liquored up and fails to negotiate the 90-degree turn.

This house was a real piece of crap. Where the floor met the walls, there was a crack where you could see outside. A frog lived in the bathroom. There was no heat. The oven didn’t function properly. It was drafty and the roof leaked. Next door were a couple of meth heads who snorted powder night and day and played “Back in Black” at 3 a.m.

It was far from the ideal house, but I didn’t have the luxury of being choosey.

I had just gotten a good job as the news editor at the Arcata Union. It was a sweet position.

I needed a place to live, one that would accept both of us along with our two dogs. Options were limited. So we grabbed the shack.

On the first day I moved in, the landlord was there trying to repair the roof. I decided to help.

I was smearing some tar around when I heard the sound of an airplane. I looked up and saw a B-24 Liberator coming right at me! It flew at a very low altitude almost directly over the house before banking west towards the airport.

For a second or two, I entertained the notion that this was a “Twilight Zone” moment – I had been inexplicably transported back to the early 1940s.

Later I learned that it was the Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour. It’s a cool organization that has a Liberator and a B-17 – both fully functional. They fly them from airport to airport and give tours.

In this week’s paper, I printed an article about the foundation’s planned visit to the McKinleyville airport this weekend.

But I print a lot of stuff – week after week after week. So after the paper comes out, I clear my memory banks. Out with the old, in with the new. I don’t want the time, date and location of every bake sale, ball game and public hearing clouding my mind.

So I was driving down Central Avenue this afternoon when I heard an usual sound. I looked up and saw a B-17 Flying Fortress overhead! WTF?

Of course, the Collings Foundation.

I had my window rolled down and my head out the window admiring the aircraft. I was gawking as if I had just spotted a topless Victoria’s Secret model prancing down main street.

There’s something about the B-17 that triggers an emotional response. It’s not just an aircraft, it’s an amazing aircraft.

There’s all sorts of history behind it. It’s an icon. Maybe it’s all the movies I grew up watching.

On Saturday I’ll take some photos and climb inside.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Celebrities with Albums

Carroll O'Connor - Remembering You

As I previously noted, on another blog I started a celebrity album series. Some of the celebrities with albums listed are Goldie Hawn, William Shatner, Farrah Fawcett, Keanu Reeves, Jasmine Guy ("A Different World"), Brian Austin Green ("Beverly Hills 90210"), John Tesh, the guy that plays Uncle Junior on the Sopranos (I don't recall his name right now), Tina Yothers, John Schneider ("Dukes of Hazzard"), Woodly Allen, Bruce Willis, etc. etc. etc.

Turns out that someone has already compiled an extensive list. Check it out at:

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Album series

On another blog, I started an album series. The idea is to find albums put out by actors and other celebrities. The more absurd – and the more obscure – the better. Some are just too good not to share on this blog. Above is one. It's from the website below, which has all sorts of oddball records.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Today I walked to the Mad River with Big Brown Dog. There’s a green field, sloping down to the river, covered with little yellow blossoms.

If you squint your eyes, the contrast becomes sharper. The greens become greener, the yellows more yellow.

There are meticulous patterns of waving green stalks, topped with random spatters of color – mostly yellow, but some white, some purple.

The closer you look, the more you see. In the spring, there’s even a very rare flower. It’s considered an endangered plant species. I don’t recall the name, but I’ve seen them.

I’m also always impressed by the wild purple iris. They grow in abundance around the Hiller Loop Trail. There's a nice stripe of yellow in the purple.

And then there’s the common yellow daffodil. They grow all over. In the early days, a lot of McKinleyville landowners tried to make a living in the flower bulb business. Their businesses died, and they died too. But their legacy blooms every year.

Today I was admiring the yellow blossoms near the Mad River when I noticed something moving in the grass. About a dozen bright yellow finches fluttered into the sky and flew away.

They were spectacular. Just finches, but beautiful. Like race cars. Bright yellow.

I couldn’t help but think of Phil, my neighbor where I grew up. Phil built an amazing aviary filled with finches. Next time I go down to San Mateo, I’ll look forward to seeing Phil – and his aviary.

The finches were the highlight of this week’s wildlife viewings. I saw the yellow ones near the river. At my house I have finches with orange or red heads.

The cats enjoy the starlings. They kill them and present them as gifts. It fills them with a sense of pride.

I don't care for the starling corpses. I prefer the finches, which the cats for some reason avoid.

The finches are the stars. They even surpassed the great blue heron, the white herons, the harbor seals, the angry sea lion, the Roosevelt elk and even the fox that I saw this week.

I saw the fox on Tuesday. Mid day on the Hammond Trail. Weird. Was he rabid, or just enjoying the sun? I’ve never spotted a fox on the trail before.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

This and that

• The “media bias” scandal seems to have gone away. That’s funny, because this week I endorsed two candidates. My personal “bias” is now out there for everyone to read. The candidate who complained before has been silent on the issue. Go figure.

• In an unrelated endorsement, a woman called and left a message on my answering machine saying I was “brave.” That always cracks me up. There’s nothing brave about me expressing my political opinions, especially in this case. Another newspaper endorsed the same candidate, while the local daily endorsed the opposing candidate. It’s just newspaper people espousing their opinions. Nothing more. Nothing brave. I trust that readers are smart enough to take these opinions for what they are – opinions.

• Speaking of newspapers, a competing publication will soon suffer the wrath of my 2001 Toyota Corolla. Backed with a solid 1.8 liter, 4-cylinder engine and the extra fancy Toyota “LE” package, which includes high-tech electric windows, power-adjusted side mirrors, and fold-down rear seats, I’ll be racing at the Samoa Dragstrip on Saturday, June 10. Race time is 6 p.m., or so I’m told.

The Humboldt/Del Norte Timing Association sponsors street legal drag racing every Saturday and invites media folks and public figure to participate.

Why? I haven’t a clue. But I was asked to participate.

I was told to bring whatever car I would like – it doesn’t matter.

I considered several options, but ultimately decided that the Corolla would be best. I just need to make a few “adjustments.”

Besides emptying the old newspapers out of the backseat, I’m considering constructing a rear spoiler out of cardboard – maybe out of old pizza boxes with a few leftover cheese chunks and giant grease stains.

A tin-foil fin sticking out of the roof may also improve the performance.

More details to come....

• I should post my thoughts on the following subject in a separate posting, and maybe I’ll do so in an upcoming blog entry. But today the plug was finally pulled on my local BBS.

BBS? What the ....?

That’s a reasonable question. A BBS is a Bulletin Board System. I’m not sure how to describe it. It’s like a pre-internet community. You download a special software and then you log in to your local BBS – in my case Smugglers.

There were a whole bunch of “folders” where you could post items. There was a technical support folder, a local politics folder, a recipes folder, a weather folder, and so on and so on.

The system was extremely simple and easy to use. Even people with ancient Apple computers could log in. The internet had surpassed their hardware, but they could still get email with their crusty dinosaur machines.

The people on my BBS were local. I knew some of them. After awhile, I met some of the people I didn’t know. Friendships were forged. I met my dear friend Casey on Smugglers. We now kayak almost every week.

When I had a computer meltdown, I logged on to Smugglers and pleaded for advice. “HELP! I’m having a meltdown and I can’t put out my newspaper!”

Answers were forthcoming. Emotions and personal relationships aside, I was wired in to computer experts who could solve my problems at all hours of the day – without pay! That’s amazing. Imagine having a team of professional computer consultants at your disposal during a meltdown?

Over time, participation dwindled. Only a small group of us posted items of interest. The BBS was a non-profit operation run by volunteers. It’s closing was inevitable.

And so it goes.

I’ll miss Smugglers. But I understand its demise.


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