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MCT: Sunday, April 5, 2020

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STEADY RAIN and high elevation snow this morning will gradually become showers by early afternoon. Isolated thunderstorms and small hail will be possible in the showers this afternoon. Showers will become more isolated on Monday. Drier and warmer weather is then expected during middle to later portions of next week. (NWS)

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MURIEL ELLIS of Yorkville has died. Mrs. Ellis was the mother of Terry Ryder also of Yorkville. Muriel was perhaps best known in the Anderson Valley as a devoted and formidable participant in the Trivial Pursuit nights at Lauren's Restaurant.

Interviewed by Steve Sparks (2011)

I met with Muriel at the Redwood Drive-In a week or so ago and we sat and drank coffee as shared her story with me. For those who don’t know, she is Terry Ryder’s mother and a part-time Valley resident who I know as a result of her regular attendance, and quite frequent victories, at the General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz held every Thursday at Lauren’s Restaurant in Boonville.

Muriel was born in 1924 in El Paso, Texas, the only child of Ernfred Herman (‘Bill’) Berg and Ruth Dewey. The Bergs were originally from Sweden, Muriel’s grandparents coming to the States in the late 1800s and settling in Chicago before moving down to El Paso for her grandmother’s health — she ended up living into her mid-90s. On the Dewey side the family was originally from Wales and in the mid 1800’s came to the U.S. and settled in Pittston, in northeastern Pennsylvania, Muriel’s maternal grandmother was a 15-year-old dressmaker who eventually married the son of the family who employed her as their dressmaker. They raised a family in this mining community and at one point, in 1903, Muriel’s grandfather, Isaac Thompson ‘Tom’ Dewey, a free-spirited character and adventurer, left to work in mines in Mexico for several years, before Pancho Villa literally chased him back to the States in 1910 during the Mexican Revolution, and he settled down across the border in El Paso with his family from Pennsylvania.

Muriel’s parents met, and were married in El Paso in 1923. Muriel’s mother’s sister had died in childbirth and Muriel’s parents adopted the baby. Muriel was born less than a year later so a big ‘sister’ was already there — her cousin Mary. “For a few years, with my sister calling my parents Uncle Bill and Aunt Ruth, I did too. That was confusing to people I’m sure… Eventually, when I was about four and my cousin six, her father re-married and took my cousin with him to California — that was very hard on my parents, particularly my mother, who obviously thought of Mary as their own.”

“My father had left school with just six weeks of high school education and worked several jobs by the time he started at the Federal Reserve Bank at 18. He was to stay there until he was 65, getting a self-taught master’s degree in banking at the age of 60. He read constantly and ended up being one of the most educated men I have ever known.”

In 1933, when Muriel was just nine years-old, her mother died of pneumonia at the age of 32. A year later her father remarried a woman from Louisiana, Lucille Soniat. “She and I developed a wonderful relationship. She was like a big sister to me, a great friend, and a good mother too. I was very fortunate. In 1936 my half brother was born, Robert K. Berg, who was to later join the navy and ended up as a full Commander. He now lives in Cheshire, Connecticut where he just celebrated his Golden Wedding anniversary.”

In El Paso, Muriel attended seven years of grade school and then four of high school, graduating at 16 in 1940. “I moved in with my grandmother for my final couple of years at school. She was lonely, it was easier for school and worked out better for everyone. Plus I had begun dating and father’s can be strange about that. I was a good student, a member of the National Honor Society, and editor of the school newspaper. I loved English, journalism, and history. I have always wanted to write. On the other hand, math and the sciences were not things I cared about. I did not play sports, although I sometimes went bowling I guess, but I did love to roller-skate. I was brought up in a Presbyterian household and attended Sunday school every week. I then went to a Methodist church that was really to watch and laugh at the minister scream, holler, and cry as much as anything. I am not an atheist but I don’t believe in a bunch of that stuff. I sang in the choir at the church and at college. I am not a follower of organized religion but at college I wrote a paper on Buddhism which I found fascinating, and the idea of reincarnation certainly appeals to me.”

“When I graduated high school I remember it was at the same time as the World War II Dunkirk evacuations out of France. We had a farewell high school dance and I went with my girlfriend’s date because she was out of town. He called and asked me. His name was Bob Broyles and after that we were together every day that summer until the fall of 1940 when I entered the University of Texas in Austin while he remained in El Paso to resume college there. He was a year ahead of me. My friends said I’d forget all about him. I didn’t. I’d rather be a widow than an old maid! He transferred to join me in Austin a year later. However, just a few months later in December 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor took place and he immediately tried to sign up for the Air Force, or Army Air Corps as it was at that time. He was turned down because he had broken his collarbone previously and they thought this might cause him problems when parachuting. Instead he signed up for the Air Corps Engineers. We were married in August 1942 and in March 1943 he was called up. He had been upset it had not been earlier because with El Paso being an Army town he had got some abuse for being an able-bodied young man not at war.”

Bob was still not sent overseas at that time, instead he was sent to New Haven, Connecticut where Muriel found work as part of the war effort making rubber life rafts for 54 hours a week. Bob was sent on from there to Seattle, Denver, and for final training in Salina, Kansas; each time Muriel going with him. He was assigned as a B-29 pilot but the planes were not ready so eventually he was assigned to the B-17s. He went through all this training with three men, Ned, Larry, and Benny, who all became very close friends, along with their wives, getting together for drinks, dinner, and games of bridge. Finally by November 1944 they were all overseas and flew several missions together. Meanwhile Muriel returned to El Paso where she worked in a photo studio.

In February 1945, Bob and two of these close friends were reported missing close to Guam in the Pacific. Benny had made it back to base. A few days later Ned, who had been in a different plane to Bob and Larry, was found dead in a life raft, but Bob and Larry remained missing. Exactly a week after they went missing, February 21st, 1945, they were declared MIA. It was Bob’s 23rd birthday. In February 1946, he was classified as missing, presumed dead. His body has never been found nor has the plane.

“It was the hardest thing. I have thought about what happened many, many times. I still think about it. I’m sure he went down with the plane and was killed. His father told me that Bob had told him that the crew had agreed to do that rather than parachute out and die in some other way. At the time, what was I to do other than just pick up the pieces and carry on? My cousin Mary was in Los Angeles, so in October 1945 I decided to move there and moved in with her and her husband. There was a photo studio for sale for $1000 in Inglewood so I bought it with cash I had saved.”

This business fizzled out but she got some money back on the sale. Then another opportunity came along when Muriel spoke to a local builder/landlord by the name of William Ellis who was working on two storefronts and she opened her photo shop in one of these and lived in the very small space behind the shop. “I lived there for years and in that time the landlord’s son, William Ellis Jr., and I started dating. I eventually sold the photo shop but continued trying to sell my short stories and during our courtship he encouraged me by saying if I had a story written and in the mail to a possible customer by Friday evening we could go out on Saturday. I had dreams of taking my portable typewriter and a camera on a trip to Mexico and on to Central America, taking pictures and writing about my travels. It was a pipe dream but Bill said he would support me so I thought ‘this guy’s a keeper’ and we were married in 1948. At that point I pretty much quit sending off my stories and got a job at an advertising agency as a bookkeeper/publicist, etc.”

Muriel voted for the first time in the 1948 election at the age of twenty-four. “We stopped off at the Beverly Hills City Hall on the way to our honeymoon so I could register to vote. It was Truman against Dewey, a distant cousin, but unfortunately he lost. That was fine. I thought Truman as President was terrific in the end, one of the best we’ve had I’d say. He was very honest and he had to fill some awful big shoes coming after FDR. It was a very tough decision but he made the right one to drop the bomb. It was an amazing time. We kept hearing that the Japanese were going to surrender but they didn’t for a few days until finally they did and it was over. It was a great feeling. My Dad ran into the street rejoicing with his co-workers at the bank.”

Muriel’s daughter Terry (Ryder) was born in 1950 and within a few years Bill’s sisters also had babies. “It was our own baby boom!” Over the next several years, during which time Muriel was a homemaker, she became increasingly involved with the Parent Teachers Association and even more so when a second child, son Dirk, was born. They bought a house in west LA and were generally homebodies. “I became President of the PTA and that was very satisfying, as was starting the gift shop at the school and a craft fair for the kids. However, Bill was a loner and for him a social life was his family and that is who we spent time with when I was not involved with the school. As for my own family back in Texas I neglected to see much of them and I regret that now.”

After a time in the aircraft industry, both preceding and following the war, Bill had been a house builder, selling the homes he constructed, but by the mid-50s he was working as a Housing Inspector for the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), checking the new tract homes being built everywhere. He moved away from this for a time, working for different contractors, before returning to the FHA and working there until retirement. “In 1969, Bill got an itch to travel and we made a trip to Prescott, Arizona. While we were there we decided to buy a couple of acres in a place called Wilhoit, Arizona, sixteen miles south of Prescott. There was nothing there, in fact the sign said ‘Population 2’ but our plot was on the other side of the road where new buildings would soon be going up. Terry had moved out of the family home and was married in 1972, but Dirk was still in school so we stayed in California until he graduated in 1976.

In 1972, Muriel had attended a group counseling for women, “to decide what we would do with the rest of our lives! That gave me some ideas and I followed up by taking a course at UCLA in student counseling which led to a part-time volunteer position at the UCLA Extension as a career counselor for the students — one of them was Lorenzo Lamas, who later became a relatively famous television actor, the son of Fernando. Bill and I celebrated his retirement on July 3rd, 1976 and the next day the country celebrated its bicentennial! Dirk had just graduated and so we sold our house in California and moved to Arizona. We were to be there for 28 years.”

By this time the town had grown much bigger and although Muriel and Bill had a very good well on their land, others did not. “The community needed more water or it would not survive A co-op was formed to oversee this process of getting water in and I was the vice-president of this group, writing letters to everyone from President Reagan on down, eventually getting a government grant for a water system so that over time everyone there had water. Other than that, in those years I loved to garden and started to work on stained glass, as well as getting back into the creative writing by taking classes. Eventually I ran out of classes to take so I began to give them myself at the Senior Center and ran that workshop for 15 years there.”

In December 2003, Bill had heart failure. “He had been fighting it for years. The doctor told me he would not be coming home but Bill fooled them. He did come home and was even driving again but in November 2004 his heart failed again and he died in his sleep. He did not want to go back into hospital and fortunately he didn’t have to. The kids came out and dealt with all the ‘stuff’ that has to be done and in December I packed up and left, going to stay with Terry in Anderson Valley.

“I did not know where I was going to live and looked all over this area. I loved the Valley but felt I needed to be less isolated so I got an apartment in Santa Rosa in February 2005. I did go back to Arizona that summer, to get things and sell the house, but that was it. After all those years, I was moving on. With Terry living in the Valley I feel I have one foot here. It is a lovely place and I ask myself ‘How did I get to be this lucky?’ I am so grateful to have her here, where I get to spend some time, and yet also ‘do my thing’ down in Santa Rosa.”

Since September 2005, Muriel has made a wide circle of new friends through a couple of writing groups and she has resumed her writing once again in earnest. “On top of that, I had always wanted to travel but Bill, who was a wonderful guy in so many ways, and whom I loved dearly, did not want to, and when he did I’d have rather traveled with Godzilla! So, in recent years I have proceeded to travel. In the spring of 2006 I took a cruise down the Rhine in Germany and then visited London; in the fall of 2006 I went to London again and on to Wales, using a bus pass to get around. I saw Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument in southern England — it was fantastic. Then in 2007, UC Berkeley offered a three-week course at Merton College at Oxford University in England called ‘The art of lying — creative writing.’ That was great, living on the campus. I went with my friend, Pat from the writing group, and together with another women there, a judge in San Francisco, we talked about going to Paris the following year, meeting for breakfast every day and then going off on our separate ways all day before meeting up in the evening. It did not happen but I went anyway, alone. I spent the month of May 2008 in Paris, writing a lot about my trip as it happened. I loved sitting in the parks, observing and writing. I love traveling alone too. You can do whatever, whenever you want. I went back in October of 2010 for another couple of weeks but I think that will be my last time. It is a little too much for me now, despite the benefits of been whisked through the airports on a golf cart because of my gray hair and cane.”

In 2010, Muriel was having some trouble with her legs so she went into the hospital for a check-up. They decided to give her a chest x-ray and found some cancerous cells that were removed. She was not going to go through chemotherapy but the cancer was caught in time. “I seem to have had a guardian angel taking care of lots of things in my life. Many of the sad and bad things have turned out to not be as sad and bad as I thought and now I’ve ended up where I want to be. I love the writing classes, one of which is called the ‘Feisty Five’ and I continue to read a lot, fiction and non-fiction; and do crossword puzzles. I have done the one in the NY Times for years and that has given me lots of miscellaneous information, very useful for the General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz at Lauren’s Restaurant every Thursday night which I rarely miss. It’s lots of fun.”

I asked Muriel for her thoughts of her father. “The most intelligent man I have ever met. Very loving and gentle too, although he did have an unpredictable temper.” And her favorite memory of her mother? “Very sweet and quiet. I have her diary from the last four years of her life. Health-wise she was very fragile.”

As Muriel does not live in the Valley and has only been a regular visitor over the last several years I decided to forego the usual Valley questions and go straight to the final questionnaire.

What excites you; makes you smile; gets your juices flowing creatively, spiritually, emotionally? “Being with all the friends I have made in recent times.”

What annoys you; brings you down; turns you off creatively, spiritually, emotionally? “Negativity. Current politics; Sarah Palin.”

Sound or noise you love? “Classical music, new age music… A babbling brook, water over rocks.”

Sound or noise you hate? “New music, or the noise of a plane.”

Favorite food or meal? “Steak.”

If you could meet one person dead or alive, one on one for a conversation, who would that person be? “Mark Twain.”

If you were to be left completely alone indefinitely on an isolated island in the ocean, but with unlimited provisions, what three possessions would you like to have with you? “Pen and paper, an encyclopedia, and family photographs.”

Where would you like to visit if you could go anywhere in the world? “Sweden — the family connections on my father’s side.”

Favorite film/song/book or one that has influenced you? “For books that would be ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ ‘Gone with the Wind’, and Armistead Maupin’s ‘Tales of the City’ series set in San Francisco. The film would be ‘Gone with the Wind,’ and may be ‘ET’ or perhaps ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ from a couple of years ago. A song would be anything by Glenn Miller, or may be some of the Broadway show tunes, and Bob and I always liked ‘The Breeze and I’ by Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra in the forties.”

Favorite hobby? “Many years ago it was sewing but now I guess it is writing.”

Profession other than your own would you like to attempt if you were given the chance to do anything? “Newspaper reporter or photo journalist. Oh, boy, yes!”

Profession would you not like to do? “Nursing or being a maid.”

Is there something you would do differently if you could do it over again? “I would have given my children more access to my side of the family. And I wished I hadn’t stopped writing for such a long time.”

Tell me about a memorable moment in your life; a time you will never forget. “The war years, not just in this country from 1941 but the whole war, from 1939 to 1945. I was very aware of it all and I knew that what was happening would change the world forever.”

What was the happiest day or event in your life? “Well, the birth of my children and also raising them, but also now.”

What was the saddest day or period of your life? “The death of my mother.”

What is your favorite thing about yourself, physically, mentally, spiritually? “Well. Yes, I’m going to say it — that I’m a damn good writer of short stories and essays.”

Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Seeing all those people I’ve known and trying to cope with that scares the hell out of me. I guess if He said, ‘You did the best you could, Muriel’ that would be good.”

(To read the ‘stories’ of other Valley Folk, visit the archives at

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Photo by Larry Wagner

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Not only will a lucky dog get out of the shelter and into a warm, snuggly home, we learn a lot about each dog—information that helps his or her eventual adoption. Also, the shelter benefits by having an empty, available kennel for any emergency dog surrenders during this difficult time. Of course, fingers are crossed 'cause we’re hoping fostered dogs will find permanent homes with their foster guardians. All Mendocino County Animal Care shelter dogs are licensed, altered, vaccinated, micro-chipped and have passed the required behavioral testing.

Our longer-stay dogs have reduced adoption fees. You can see all of our available guests by visiting our website: Call Amy at the Ukiah Shelter: 467-6453 and Adriana or Jennifer at the Ft. Bragg Shelter: 961-2491 / 961- 2526, if you are interested in adopting of fostering.

Our poster dog this week is Fanny, 7 years young and living it up in her foster digs!

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Domestic and Sexual Violence Support

I have been an Advocate/Crisis Counselor for victims/survivors of rape and domestic violence since 1999. I have worked countless hours in hospitals, shelters, courtrooms, and on the telephone with women who have been or are in fear of being assaulted. I have been highly concerned about the Shelter In Place Order exacerbating abusive environments for women and children since it began and, even, posted that I am available for FREE respite (urgent/emergency) child care in my State Licensed Home here in Gualala.

Indeed, the numbers of violent incidents are increasing (there was a woman murdered by her husband in Willits this week) and I am writing to let you all know that I am available to take crisis calls 24/7 at 707 884 9674. Also, I have extra room, beds, blankets here at my house if any natal born woman, with or without children, needs to escape abuse (including emotional/psychological) or assault.

I mean it with all of my heart.


I will listen.

I will, even, come to pick you up from the side of the road somewhere.

I ask that communities keep an eye/ear out for their neighbors - CALL 911 if you see/hear women and/or children screaming or being abused - it could save lives getting professionals to the scene as quickly as possible.

Here are, also, some other resources:

Here in Mendocino County, Project Sanctuary provides free resources and support: Inland: (707) 463-4357 - Coast: (707) 964-4357

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800 799 7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522:

StrongHearts Native (American Indians and Alaskan Natives) Helpline: 844/762 8483

National Organizations Supporting Crime Victims:

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act:

Beauty surround inside out:

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It's normal to feel sad, stressed, confused, or scared during a crisis. Mendocino County Behavioral Health launched the Warm Line, which is a telephone-based non-crisis support that provides emotional support and a compassionate ear for Mendocino County residents. It’s a resource for individuals who are feeling stressed, isolated, overwhelmed, or need emotional support. The Warm Line is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm at (707) 472-2311.

For those experiencing a mental health crisis and need help right away please call our Crisis Hotline at 1-855-838-0404. The line is toll-free and open 24/7.

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MENDOCINO COUNTY LIBRARY BRANCHES and mobile services closures have been extended past the original date of April 6 until further notice. Book drops are closed and locked, and you are encouraged to keep your materials borrowed from the library until it is reopened. All due dates on materials are extended.

Karen Horner, county librarian, says, “It is a difficult decision to close libraries at any time, and the library will continue to respond according to Public Health Orders. During this time, it is best to close until our communities and the staff are no longer at risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. We are glad to be able to provide online services until we are able to reopen.”

The library staff are striving to support our communities in creative and dynamic ways and are available Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to answer questions via branch phone numbers. The library is also increasing the checkout limits of various online resources such as Overdrive, and Zip Books, which deliver to your home.

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IN A PRESS RELEASE DATED MARCH 31, Mendocino County Treasurer/Tax Collector Shari L. Schapmire issued a statement about the upcoming secured property tax deadline on April 10. She said the bills need to be paid on time if at all possible, although if certain circumstances exist, such as a loss of a job due to COVID-19, the County has the authority to waive penalties and other charges that might incur due to a delinquent payment.

“As Mendocino County Tax Collector, I understand and share in the public’s anxiety and concern about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Schapmire wrote.

“So the public is aware, County Tax Collectors cannot change the April 10 deadline for the second Installment of secured property taxes because the delinquency date of Friday, April 10, 2020 is established by State law. Furthermore, critical County services, such as emergency response, public health, schools and other local financial obligations are dependent on these scheduled revenues.”

In order to avoid late fees and other charges, homeowners must fill out the ‘Request for Penalty Cancellation’ form that can be found on the County’s website at The County Administration Building is closed to the pubic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and therefore, all taxes, assessments, penalties, fines and fees must be paid via the US Postal Service; electronically online or by phone; or dropped into the payment box in front of the County Administration Building. (See detailed instructions below.)

When paying with cash, it must be converted to money orders or cashiers checks. County staff are available by telephone to deal with urgent matters and answer questions.

Electronic Payment Information:

To pay your Current Year Secured 19-20 tax bills, visit and have your parcel number ready. This portal allows for direct payments to the property system and will look up the amount due on your single parcel for the current secured tax year only. If you have multiple parcels/bills to pay, enter it as one transaction and incur one fee by going to the miscellaneous tax payment page below.

To pay any other tax bill such as Unsecured, Supplemental, Multiple Current Year Secured Tax, Transient Occupancy Tax, or Business Licenses, visit You must have your bill number available and the amount due.

To pay Cannabis business tax, call the County office at (707) 234-6848 to obtain the correct payment amount and information regarding electronic payments.

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Chris Calder in the AVA, yea!

Hey, Chris. It’s so good to read your reporting in the AVA. A big THANKS to you for writing and to Bruce for featuring your coverage now.

Greatly appreciated.

Tom Wodetzki


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To the Editor:

To the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors,

Please Check this out:

Those Big Scary Maps in the new media of Coronavirus Clusters are as scary as the boogey man until you zero in on the maps via magnification options.

My Thoughts are: Damn our California Government Leaders for shutting down all those businesses for a limited number coronavirus clusters in limited areas. “My humble opinion” that our government powers are doing overkill “just exploded” after looking at the magnified versions of that Microsoft based interactive Coronavirus Map showing the specific areas of the coronavirus are just in limited areas, and are not involved throughout the entire State of California.

Our CA economy is at serious risk of tanking downward big time by what I personally think is an overkill mistake made by the California leadership. Those recent decisions pose a worse risk to California as opposed to the actual risk of the coronavirus itself. Of course it is easier make armchair comments, and I do not envy the humongous challenge of those in charge of such huge responsibilities. I am speaking up to ask our leadership to seriously reconsider!

Yes to washing hands often, and slapping us into better social distancing habits including staying home when sick, and staying away from sick people.

I am critical: I see an extreme economic killer route coming from the top decision makers, with what I believe are paranoids surrounding them. I believe the statewide protocols aimed at prevention make sense to apply to, and surround the few coronavirus clusters areas of California that show up on the virus map when you magnify; NOT to the entire state of California (with talk of this route possibly being applied to the entire nation)!

My two cents: I believe our California leadership is making a huge economic killing mistake.

I respect there will be a variety of beliefs and opinions on this.

Best Wishes to All of Us, and All Healthy Endeavors!

Here one web link to that Interactive Map on Fox News (with some picture following representing a huge shift when that map is magnified!):

William Self

Redwood Valley

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CATCH OF THE DAY, April 4, 2020

Anaya-Mellott, Cassidy, Swenson


LAYNE CASSIDY, Domestic battery, assualt with deadly weapon not a gun.

ERIC SWENSON, San Jose/Ukiah. DUI-drugs&alcohol.

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Is Capt. Brett Crozier the incompetent party, or did he just take one for the team? The Navy could have taken the opportunity to show the world how readiness is maintained. Instead they claimed leaked command communications disturbed the crew and laid down blame.

The service could have assigned someone handling boatswain, engineering and medical chiefs on the vessel to crack the whip on an assigned skeleton crew disinfecting everything from top to bottom. They could have imposed strict sanitary protocols.

The Seabees could have pounded out temporary quarters on the beach for testing and quarantine. The shipboard staff could have cycled back in when possible.

The good story could have been the Navy maintaining readiness efficiently in public view. Instead we heard media leaks caused a good man’s head to roll. Why is information about our service persons’ health and well-being even considered a leak?

Bobby Collier


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Photo by Skip Taube

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Trump ended pandemic early-warning program to detect coronaviruses

Two months before the novel coronavirus probably began spreading in Wuhan, China, the Trump administration ended a $200-million pandemic early-warning program aimed at training scientists in China and other countries to detect and respond to such a threat.

The project, launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development in 2009, identified 1,200 different viruses that had the potential to erupt into pandemics, including more than 160 novel coronaviruses.

The initiative, called PREDICT, also trained and supported staff in 60 foreign laboratories — including the Wuhan lab that identified SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Field work ceased when the funding ran out in September, and organizations that worked on the PREDICT program laid off dozens of scientists and analysts, said Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a key player in the program…

(Los Angeles Times)

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BASED ON CELLPHONE LOCATION DATA, the New York Times was able to draw a map of where and when people started complying with coronavirus stay-at-home orders. The answer is infuriating.

The map doesn’t look this way because people in the South are idiots. It’s almost certainly because they’re conservative and they watch a lot of Fox News.

They also listen to President Trump. And Rush Limbaugh. And what they heard was that the coronavirus was “just a bad cold.” That “within a couple of days it’s going to be down to close to zero.” That the hysteria was nothing but a “new hoax” from Democrats who want to bring down the president.

For weeks that’s what they heard. And they believed it. And so they resisted taking it seriously.

That’s starting to shift now that Trump and the conservative noise machine have changed their tune, but it’s several weeks too late. What a shameful performance.

— Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

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‘I WORRY I COULD BE SPREADING IT’: Local FedEx Drivers Say They’re Not Getting Enough COVID-19 Protections

by Ryan Burns

Last week, Bo Escareño came down with a fever of about 101.5 degrees, but he didn’t see staying home as an option.

“I have to show up to work because we don’t have people who can cover our routes,” he told the Outpost by phone earlier today.

Escareño drives a delivery truck for FedEx Ground. His route takes him out State Route 36 through Carlotta, along the Van Duzen River past Bridgeville and Ruth Lake and then south all the way to Garberville.

He’s not a FedEx employee, though. Like other FedEx Ground drivers, Escareño is technically employed by a contractor who works for FedEx and then subcontracts with drivers. Escareño said his boss hasn’t exactly been sympathetic to employee concerns about COVID-19.

“Any time we bring up concerns he tells us to do the best we can,” Escareño said.

He and his fellow drivers haven’t been given gloves or masks, and in the Arcata warehouse where the packages are transferred from long-haul trailers to delivery trucks, “nobody’s taking safety precautions, like staying six feet apart,” Escareño said. “Everybody’s always huddled together.”

When a coworker showed up to work visibly sick a week or two ago, Escareño didn’t see anyone disinfecting or cleaning the surfaces he handled, including packages. “His job is to work on the conveyor belt,” Escareño said. “He scans the packages. He’s at the front of where packages come off the truck, so we’re touching all the ones he [handled].”

When Escareño himself came down sick, he was conflicted. “I have kids at home, a family I need to support,” he said. “But I also deal with the elderly.” He worried that he might be contagious or the packages he’s delivering might be contaminated with coronavirus, which can remain on cardboard for up to 24 hours.

Escareño said that as an independent subcontractor, he has not been given any additional health benefits, such as sick leave.

“If we try to stay home because we are sick, we could potentially lose our job,” he said.

Nick Beckett, another FedEx Ground driver based out of the Arcata warehouse, said in a message to the Outpost that he believes his work conditions are jeopardizing the health of the local community.

“I feel like package handlers are actually spreading this virus more than anyone,” he wrote. “Many of us package handlers are not happy that we have to do this and go to everyone’s home spreading this virus.”

FedEx directly employs more than 200,000 people in the U.S. and works with about 5,000 contractors, which the company calls “service providers,” according to NBC News. Those contractors, in turn, employ more than 100,000 workers like Escareño and Beckett.

The Outpost reached out to FedEx to pass along the concerns of these local drivers, and in an emailed statement a spokesperson said the company is working diligently to provide supplies such as hand soap, disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer, and is encouraging team members “to take any signs of illness seriously.”

The company has taken steps to support the health and safety of service providers and their employees as well as the customers with whom they interact, the spokesperson said. “For example, to help adhere to social distance guidelines, signatures will no longer be required for most deliveries.”

But Escareño said that, aside from the waived signature requirement, these safety measures generally aren’t trickling down to service providers like him.

“Everybody is asking for hazard pay,” he said. “They’re trying to work it out with FedEx. The thing is, [the company doesn’t] want to help out with anything. Yesterday we were finally given a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol. They never supplied us with gloves or masks. They’re not really concerned about our safety, straight up.”

Asked whether it’s entirely up to FedEx contractors to ensure that the health and safety of their employees are being protected, the spokesperson didn’t provide a direct answer.

“Communication with service providers during the pandemic has been consistent and frequent due to the essential nature of the services we provide to customers and our communities,” the statement reads. “FedEx Ground provides a mix of information and resources that service providers can use to communicate with their employees, including printable and video materials, links to the latest updates from the CDC and other leading health experts, and FAQs.”

A Google search reveals that this statement was provided verbatim to NBC News, which published a story yesterday showing that FedEx Ground drivers across the country have the same concerns as Escareño and Beckett. They say they’ve seen little evidence of increased safety precautions.

“When we bring things up to the warehouse manager, she basically turns us away, says you have to go speak to your boss, our contractor,” Escareño said. “He just shrugs shoulders and goes about his business. He’s not taking things seriously.”

Escareńo is taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously. He bought his own gloves, and he said today his boss finally started providing them to other workers. Escareño hasn’t seen anyone else in the warehouse wearing them, though. And nobody’s wearing face masks. These drivers deliver packages all over the county.

One last time in our phone conversation, Escareño repeated the basics of his dilemma, as if they’re running on a loop in his head.

“I have a family to support, but I worry about the safety of everybody I bring packages to,” he said. “I worry I could be spreading it to everybody else.”

* * *


* * *


A partial list of people organizations and things to blame for covid-19 or its spread: Batshit, global warming, Trump, feminism, boomer generation, international bankers, Chinese wet markets, big pharma, Jews, Fox News, Chinese bio research security policies, computers, socialist medicine, Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, Wuhan and Hubei regional authorities (popular beef in Beijing), boomers, Hollywood celebrities, lack of preparation for a pandemic, Greta Garbo, Greta Thurnberg, nose picking, Chinese cuisine, planes, trains, automobiles, ineffective hand washing, spitting on sidewalks, drunk driving, not closing cover of toilet seats after use, cork bats, WHO, Bill de Blasio, urban lockdowns without curfews, Rachel Maddow, breathing, aluminum bats, firecrackers, Neil Ferguson, insufficient social distancing, lineups in general, gas station hose handles, grocery stores counters, civets, park benches, touching one’s face, Chinese defective testing equipment donated to Europe, statistical models, Lysol, Chinese propaganda, Chinese opera, Chinese foot binding, (actually anything connected to China qualifies).

* * *


Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird -

equal seekers of sweetness.

Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.

Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?

Am I no longer young and still not half-perfect? Let me

keep my mind on what matters,

which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.

The phoebe, the delphinium.

The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.

Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

Which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart

and these body-clothes,

a mouth with which to give shouts of joy

to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,

telling them all, over and over, how it is

that we live forever.

—Mary Oliver

* * *

Soldiers wearing early gas masks—essentially goggles plus cloth/gauze soaked in urine strapped to their faces with thin belts.

* * *


When I was 13 I was with my uncle on the shore of Mille Lacs Lake in MN. A summer vacation at a fishing resort. Our family had rented a cabin on the east shore.

Everyone else had taken off somewhere eight people, my mothers extended family. Off to get supplies I think.

My uncle and I heard screams for help and my eyesight being eagle good could see a boat swamped with water in the distance. A tiny glint of aluminum fishing boat in the waves. The screams were faint.

I burst into action and my uncle a retired Air Force Lt Colonel was only half a second behind me. We had our outboard motor on our boat going and were out the quarter or mile we needed to be in no-time.

An elderly couple was hanging on the outside of their boat to the gunwales. The water was cold and they were about to go under. They were not screaming anymore and were white and weak. I reached for the woman but my uncle shouted, no get the dog. Inside the boat a small poodle was swimming. I grabbed the dog and put it in our boat. Then I reached for the woman who moved away so I could get her husband first. I pulled his dumb ass into our boat and then got the woman in. My uncle was manning the outboard the whole time.

The couple left the next day after being warmed up and staying overnight in their cabin. When I asked my uncle why get the dog first he said because if we had not got the dog first the woman would have given trouble and wasted time. Once my uncle Don said that I could see that he was right. Every second counted.

My uncle said, You really surprised me and I’m very proud of you.

* * *


by Morgan C. Smith

Recently I have gone through the process of Covid-19 onset of viral pneumonia, the symptoms and into recovery. That makes me a really lucky and unlucky person at the same time.

I thought I’d share since there is little information out there on this development of this illness in the more severe cases. Most stories in the media focus on two true facts: 80% of cases are mild and those that die tend to be older with health problems like degraded lungs, diabetes or other issues. All certainly true. But if you look at the opposite side of that 80%, those remaining 20% with “not mild” cases occur pretty evenly across most all age groups from teenagers to advanced ages. Luckily kids seems much less likely to get anything more than a mild case. So by those odds, with a family of 5 very healthy people all above the age of 15, on average, one of those people will have a “not mild case”. Sheltering at home is the way we can slow the progression, but the progression will continue until there is a vaccine or everyone has been exposed.

I’m not sharing this for sympathy since I’ve already received lots of that, but just to give a heads up on this topic that is front and center is our country and thought people might find it useful.

First, what is a mild case. I know this since basically everyone else in my family had that. We are quite sure we were exposed when we went up to Boulder, CO on March 14 to pick up my son where he is a Freshman at CU. There were a number of confirmed Covid 19 cases on campus when CU closed it down, including at least one person who worked at the main food service area where Kyle ate at regularly. While driving him home to Telluride (Highway 70 across the continental divide in March and about 30 degrees outside) he was asking us to turn on the air-conditioning because it has hot, which made no sense. He slept most the way home but had a small cough that lasted a few days and resolved. He likely had a small fever while in the car and then had a cough that lasted a few days. Basically that the extent of all his symptoms but it was all that was necessary to transmit it to others. Later that week after he was home in Telluride, both Sarah Lavender Smith and my daughter also developed low level fevers (either below 100 or barely above 100) with slight headaches. My daughter’s symptoms continued for awhile longer with some light fatigue. In short, that was the total extent of all the symptoms for those lucky 80% who have “mild symptoms”. Although the key to remember about all those people with “Mild” symptoms is that they are infectious likely before they show any symptoms, and during the time they have little to no real symptoms. This is why this spreads so easily and so hard to stop. Since Telluride was an early city to require everyone to stay at home, we did that and luckily likely did not infect others.

So what’s it like for the other 20%? Obviously, not so good. This is my story.

6 Days post exposure: I started with showing signs of tremendous fatigue. I woke up, had breakfast and promptly fell back asleep for three hours, had lunch then fell asleep for three hours and pretty much went to sleep after that for the night. I also developed a similar cough to what Kyle had but I never had fever.

Days 7-12 post exposure: Really pretty mild symptoms during this whole time, but I kept up pretty full activities. Since I work from home with the rest of my staff in Oakland and Sacramento I was mostly dealing with business issues but still got outside a lot. I probably had some shortness of breath, but it’s hard to tell with living at 9000 feet. I started developing aches on my body that were unusual mostly around the back and arms and my skin started becoming sensitive to the touch by the end of this time, but all really seemed mild. I should add that none of us got tested because we knew it was impossible to do so unless you were in the hospital with severe symptoms so that was not available.

Days 13-14 from exposure: I was trying hard to get our paddock ready for bringing our horses back home to altitude and building a chicken coop and definitely felt like I overdid it and was exhausted beyond reason from the activity I actually did. I started sleeping as a full-time job (pretty much not getting our of bed for anything, and was taking the maximum dose of Tylenol that I could daily to control the painful body aches). This was Thu 3/26 - Sat 3/28. I called the doctor and they had me hold my breath for ten seconds, which I could do without issue, and with my breathing sounding ok, they said I was probably fine to stay at home but I could add Ibuprofen to the Tylenol by alternating between them. So during this time, I was in bed all day and taking the maximum dose of both Tylenol and Ibuprofen to try to control the aches and pains on my back and arms that felt similar to having shingles. At the start of this period I started to develop a mild fever (like 100) that would come and go. I also had a cough.

Day 15 from exposure (late in day Sat 3/28): This is the day/night all hell broke loose. I really could no longer get out of bed and was unable to do any activity. I was telling myself that my body was doing what it needed to do to get better so that it’s all good. The rest was allowing my body to make the antibodies necessary to fight what I assumed was Covid 19 and so I just had to let it do its thing. I called the doctor again that day and still could hold by breath without coughing for like 10+ seconds and did not have chest pain at all, but told them I literally could not get out of bed. I decided to still stay to let my body heal and sleep more. About midnight Sarah woke me up saying that I was rapidly breathing and sounded bad and I should go to the hospital. We took my temperature and it had shot up to 103. Being exhausted, I did not want to and wanted to go back to sleep but she made me because I did not look good. As I tried to get ready, I noticed I had lost coordination and balance and could barely get dressed and just moving was causing difficultly breathing.

So I arrived at the Telluride Medical Center a little after 1 a.m., which is not really a hospital but they have very good imaging equipment available because of all the serious ski injuries and they do have a 24 hour emergency room. The hooked me to the machine and turns out my oxygen saturation level was at 74% (normal at sea level is 99% and about 95% average at this altitude). With this lack of oxygen and fever of 103 I was likely incapable of making my own decisions so thank God Sarah forced by butt out of bed at that time. I was given oxygen and that was able to get my levels back to normal as long as I have a continuous supply. They tested me for the virus but said it could still take a week for the result. They also tested for regular flu and that came back negative. They recommended a CT Scan of the chest to check for pneumonia (since they do have really nice imagining equipment!). My result showed the classic sign of the COVID 19 pneumonia pattern in both lungs, which is patchy spots all over the lungs bilaterally. With this the radiologist could unequivocally state I had Covid 19 virus. The pneumonia was shutting down my oxygen intake, even though I had no chest pain and could still hold my breath for 10 + second without any issue.

This point is a really big deal since a number of ER doctors have commented on how unusual this virus is from normal bacterial pneumonia. With normal pneumonia you get lots of symptoms of pain that precede the spread and typically you can hear it easily with a stethoscope. With Covid 19 you can have massive spread of the pneumonia with little breathing symptoms until it hits like a ton of bricks and might be too late to do anything about it. This is why you see some really healthy people dropping dead from this disease even without any underlying medical conditions.

Another ER doctor friend of mine said on that low level of oxygen people are presenting with at the ER as I did with a 75% level: “Weird thing about this virus is that people show up in ER's with oxygen saturation of 70% or 75%, which would normally make you extremely short of breath, but [people] are not feeling it. Very weird. Sneaky. Normally if you dropped your O2 sat to 85% you would be gasping and freaking out… hypoxia is a very strong drive.. normally.”

So back to my story:

Montrose Hospital: Since I had to go to a “real” hospital, Sarah got me in the car and drove me the hour and a half to Montrose Hospital (yes William Fellows your link to the YouTube video of Bad Motor Scooter by the band Montrose was greatly enjoyed!!). Sarah was not allowed outside the car, since she is obviously a potential carrier, so I had to get myself in and be put in an isolation room where I was allowed no visitors. Sarah had to drive home alone wonder if or when she would see me again. The medical staff at Montrose were all wonderful and amazing knowing the risk they are putting themselves at by taking care of people like me. The doctor told me that basically , there is no actual treatment for this viral pneumonia, but we’re following the recommended doses of antibiotics and we’ll know soon if it helps or not. So in short, if it helps, you’ll get better, if it doesn’t, you’re probably screwed. Knowing that an antibiotic should not have any effect on a viral agent, I was not feeling supper strong about my chances.

Luckily for me though the antibiotics started working is some fashion very soon and combined with the oxygen which I have now and will continue with until healed, I did not need a ventilator and I was release a couple days later and feeling a good deal better from where I started. The antibiotics will not get rid of the viral pneumonia, but they did work to help my body so that my body can develop the antibodies necessary to kill the virus over time. I will be recovering for a good long period and I have to have a continuous supply of oxygen for the foreseeable future, but I’m out of the zone of worry! Since coming home, I still have symptoms of night sweats (drenched with sweat at night), easily fatigued, and headaches, but no fever.

I guess the key takeaway point of all this is to watch out for this virus. It is sneaky, hard to detect, and hard to tell the difference between a mild case, which can be little or nothing and the unlucky 20%. The reason we have all upended our lives and we are taking all these precautions makes a whole lot more sense when you realize what this thing can do if it’s allowed to infect everyone without limitation at the same time. I was very lucky to be in a small town that has not yet been hit hard so I received all the care I needed when I needed it. Others are not so lucky right now.

The good news, as always is that 80% will have little or no symptoms, also the vast majority of those 20% with serious cases will actually survive, but damn this is not a virus to play around with!!

It does explain why we as a country are going to such lengths to try to "flatten the curve" to allow proper treatment for those who need it. My heart goes to all those in places like NY that are dealing with these issues under the most unimaginable conditions possible, and patients going through this and dying alone due to necessary visitor restrictions. I was very lucky to have great medical care and attention in a place not yet overwhelmed.

I hope this helps some people out there.

* * *

* * *



We the American people have a common enemy. It is not drug addiction, it is not the coronavirus. It is the left wing anti-American Democratic party and the rotten filthy liberal media New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS. These people are rotten to the core and lie and spread lies to the American people without any rebuttal. They lie about President Trump and try to make serious problems with him and his job, even though he is the best president that we have ever had.

I would also like to thank Dennis Winchester for his great letter. I am proud of him for having enough balls to speak his mind. I hope he continues to do so. Thank you Dennis. Thank you for a good job.

I would also like to thank Sheriff Matt Kendall for keeping the county Clean of criminals and illegals. Thank you Matt.

God Bless Donald Trump.

Jerry Philbrick


PS. I would like to thank Jay Williamson for his article for telling me to get my ass in gear and fix the roads and cut the brush. I would do all you said Jay by fixing the roads and cutting the brush but I would get sued by every agency known to man.

* * *

* * *



I wrote a letter over a month ago about the discontent I feel for the local District Attorney and his lapdog Robert Smith and the public defender’s office. I must say at this point my flames are throughly fanned as my letter has not been published in one of the greatest newspapers ever, the AVA!

My family has been in residence in Mendocino for over 50 years. My father and uncle are Bob and Tom Spinardi who owned property in Philo and Boonville with Butch Defreitis. I’ve been reading the AVA since I was a child. I’m now 33 years old. I am resending my letter in this envelope as I am thorougly pissed off because the public defender continues to neglect to do his civic duty knowingly! And the judge and Robert Smith are both using intimidation and threats to force me to take a deal. That is injustice and as unAmerican as it gets! I would greatly appreciate it if you would include my letter in your next edition.

Thank you very much


John Spinardi, A-98867, concerned citizen

951 Low Gap Road


* * *

* * *


"They resolved to leave means neither of ingress nor egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within. The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the Red Death."

The recording of last night's (2020-04-03) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show on KNYO-LP Fort Bragg and KMEC-LP Ukiah is right here:

Furthermore, at you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile educational items I set aside for you while gathering the show together. Such as:

Tense. Man asks cop the same questions cops have asked him, and uses the same tone of voice they do, to see how they like it. Answer: they don't. Also, the thought comes to me belated because I'm white: good thing he's white. Jesus, that look the cop gives him at the end. I often use the term looking daggers at someone; that's that look:

Bird flight paths. Brushstrokes:

Walruses can whistle. "So no-one was gonna tell me? I had to find this out on my own?" (via Everlasting Blort):

And the global haiku project. I played with this a little. Try it; you'll get sucked in. You get emails afterward when the ones you participate in are complete:

Marco McClean,,

* * *



  1. Craig Stehr April 5, 2020

    “It is of little consequence to one who has awakened to normal consciousness whether he or she was a king or a beggar in last night’s dream. Likewise, what one is in this world matters little to one who has awakened to the Presence of God.”

    Swami Krishnananda >>> <<<

  2. Eric Sunswheat April 5, 2020

    RE: Also, I have extra room, beds, blankets here at my house if any natal born woman, with or without children, needs to escape abuse (including emotional/psychological) or assault.

    —>. natal sex: A baby’s birth sex

  3. James Marmon April 5, 2020


    Coronavirus: Mendocino County Health Officer issues new guidance on masks
    Everyone urged to cover their faces outdoors

    Mendocino County Public Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan announced Friday that she is now recommending that “everyone who leaves their home for an essential activity wear a face covering, such as a mask, scarf, bandana, or similar garment.”

    As for face coverings, Doohan said that while they have not be proven to protect the wearer, “when worn by someone with COVID-19, they may reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others. And since not everyone with the virus knows that they are sick, wearing a face covering helps make sure that you are not unknowingly affecting others. If worn by everyone when outside the home doing essential activities, this can help slow the overall spread of the virus and keep our community safer.”

    ‘be courteous, protect others’

    James Marmon
    The Prophet

  4. dbyron April 5, 2020

    The walrus’s predicament is so sad

  5. Aaron Sawyer April 5, 2020

    Mr Self,

    The number of confirmed cases, as displayed on the maps you referenced, bear little resemblance to the true number of cases present in any one area due to a lack of testing. In our county there hasn’t been significant testing of the population, just the higher risk individuals who meet certain criteria. Also we don’t have information on how many of the reported tests have been done on the same high risk individuals, such as ER personnel or first responders who may have been exposed multiple times I know of two families, 8 total people, who have been told by MCDH that they likely have to virus due to the symptoms they are reporting, but to avoid coming to the hospital unless they seriously fear they will die. They were not offered tests but told to stay home if possible. The number of tests that have been done to date, especially here in the hinterlands, is not enough to have a statistically significant sampling of the population on which to base decisions about where the virus is or is not. We need to make informed decisions which recognize the shortcomings of the information of our current dataset which is what I believe the Public Health folks are doing.

    I had a thought the other day that few countries have a health system that is prepared for an epidemic until after an epidemic.

    The human population growth we’ve experienced the last century and a half has always seemed unlikely to just reach some predetermined “carrying capacity” and then just taper off (approach an asymptote, if you’re into math). A more probable outcome, from this hill muffin’s view, is that the human population would reach an inflection point where numbers would drop; maybe precipitously, maybe just a little. Maybe the drop in population experienced depends on where you are on the globe?

    • Pam Partee April 5, 2020

      Remembering from college days, downfalls in past civilizations have been caused by war, natural catastrophe, or pestilence. Population density and infectious disease spread are obviously directly proportional.

  6. James Marmon April 5, 2020


    Would somebody please inform Mendocino County Public Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan that CDC’s recommendation on social distancing is 6 feet, not 600 miles.

    There are 558.35 miles from Ukiah to San Diego in southeast direction and 609 miles (980.09 kilometers) by car, following the I-5 S route.


  7. Lazarus April 5, 2020


    Hey H! Is this caused by that Coronavirus…?

    As always,

  8. Susie de Castro April 5, 2020

    Happy Daze


  9. Bill Pilgrim April 5, 2020

    RE: Online comment #1; Things to blame for virus.

    You didn’t list 5G wifi, the latest theory gaining traction.

  10. David Eyster April 5, 2020

    Sunday Update on John Spinardi and his criminal justice woes:

    Defendant John Robert Spinardi, age 33, reported to be a transient in and around Ukiah at the time of his arrest by the Ukiah Police Department, entered pleas of no contest on January 22, 2020 to a January 7th attempted vehicle theft with a prior conviction for vehicle theft, a felony, as well as a separate petty theft, a misdemeanor.

    He was eventually sentenced on March 20, 2020 to a Realignment County Prison (RCP) sentence of 18 months. That RCP sentence was split, between 9 months of incarceration (meaning 4 1/2 actual jail time) and 9 months on mandatory supervision, a New Age form of local parole.

  11. James Marmon April 5, 2020

    RE: 19 DAYS AGO

    Believe Science But Be Skeptical of Scientists
    By Alan Dershowitz
    Wednesday, 18 March 2020 11:55 AM

    “I am a skeptic by nature. I never believe what I read or hear without independently checking it. So when I read that public health officials were urging people not to buy face masks, because they don’t work, I was doubtful.

    The officials also said that if individuals buy facemasks in large numbers, there won’t be enough for health providers. That I believed. But the combination of reasons — they don’t work, but they are important for health providers — immediately set off alarm bells in my skeptical mind.

    If they don’t work for ordinary individuals, why should they work for health providers?

    Maybe there is a relevant difference. I kept an open but skeptical mind, while wearing the single N95 mask that I bought just in case.

    It now turns out that the public health officials who were telling us not to buy masks were not telling us the whole truth. They were giving us only half the equation.

    While it’s true that a mass run on masks might deny them to health providers, it’s equally true that masks may provide some layer of protection above and beyond the other precautions that everyone should take, such as hand washing and social distancing.

    Those who misled us did so deliberately, but with a benign motive: they truly believed that it was more important for health providers to have masks than for every individual to stock up on them. When providers get sick, it has a greater impact on public health than if ordinary individuals catch the virus.

    In order to make sure that individuals did not place their own safety above that of the community, a decision was made to present the facts in a skewed manner to disincentivize private purchases of masks.

    Although well intentioned, this deception has apparently backfired.

    Many people saw through the ruse and thought that what was good for health providers was good for them and their family, and they stocked up on masks. So we now have a situation where there has been a run on masks, while at the same time there has been a diminution in the credibility accorded those in charge of telling us how to react to the crisis.

    The worst of both worlds. Honesty may not always be the best policy in extreme emergencies, but dishonesty — even when positively motivated — is not likely to work for long in a society in which the social media amplifies the voices of critics, and reasonable people don’t know who to believe.

    Another claim about which I was skeptical was that the virus is only contagious by physical contact with infected individuals or surfaces which they touched.

    Over and over again it was emphasized that this particular virus could not be caught by airborne or aerosol transmission. In other words, it doesn’t travel through the air. I was skeptical of this claim because it seemed inconsistent with the speed and frequency with which transmissions were occurring around the world.

    I told my friends and family to act as if they could get the virus through the air. There is no downside to being more careful.

    Recently research has confirmed my skepticism. It now turns out that the virus can remain suspended in the air for a relatively short time, though it loses its potency while falling to the ground. This means that we are at far greater risk of catching the virus even if we wear gloves, wash our hands and avoid touching surfaces.

    It probably also means that masks may be even more important than we were previously lead to believe, even if we were skeptical about the “masks don’t work at all” message.

    These are only two examples of what are sure to be other false messages we have been receiving in the early stages of the pandemic. As more data emerges, we will receive more advice from scientists, most of which will probably be accurate, but some of which will almost certainly turn out to be less than fully accurate.

    How should we assess this mélange of information, misinformation, partial truths and outright falsehoods to which we are certain to be exposed? It won’t be easy, especially in the age of social media, where everyone is an expert and all opinions are created “equally.”

    A cartoon that was recently circulated makes the point. It has a typical guy looking at his computer and saying: “That’s odd: My Facebook friends who were constitutional scholars, just a month ago are now infectious disease experts . . . ”

    James Marmon MSW
    Scientist Skeptic

  12. chuck dunbar April 5, 2020

    Can someone enlighten me?

    Several times in the last days, including once in today’s comments, I’ve come across the term “natal born woman.” In each instance, the context seemed to be that of excluding transgender women, (in today’s comments excluding them from help in escaping domestic violence) but it eludes my grasp why that would be so.


    • chuck dunbar April 5, 2020

      Correction–The reference I noted today was in the main part of MCT (“She Will Help”) not the comments section

    • James Marmon April 5, 2020

      Chromosomes Chucky, Chromosomes (female XX, male XY)


    • Eric Sunswheat April 5, 2020

      “If plaintiff’s natal sex were female and it was medically necessary for her to have a vaginoplasty to correct a congenital defect, coverage would have been available under AlaskaCare,” Holland wrote. “But, because plaintiff’s natal sex is male and she was seeking to transition to a female, coverage was not available.”

      That amounted to discrimination based on sex, even without considering the question of gender identity, Holland concluded.

      Tara Borelli, a Lambda Legal attorney representing Fletcher, said similar cases reached the same verdict in Wisconsin, and another case is pending in Arizona.

      “The plaintiffs are prevailing in these cases because it is so clear that this is sex discrimination,” Borelli said.

      Fletcher filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which found in March 2018 that there was reasonable cause to believe the state had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

      Enlisting the help of Lambda Legal, Fletcher sued the state in June 2018, alleging that she had been discriminated against her based on her sex. The state responded, arguing that the denial of care was not motivated by Fletcher’s sex…

      “”Transgender employees should never be forced to endure what Jennifer endured, to be denied potentially life-saving treatment simply because of who they are,” Borelli said. “Jennifer was denied coverage for medically necessary treatment while her co-workers received full coverage for all their health care needs, all because of a discriminatory policy. The court rightly saw that as wrong and found that Alaska broke federal law, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in employment.”

      All mainstream medical associations, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, recognize transition-related surgical treatment is considered medically necessary for transgender people struggling with gender dysphoria.

      For that reason, the AMA and other medical organizations have called for an end to exclusions on surgical care in private and public health insurance plans.

      “It was stigmatizing and traumatic to have my colleagues receive coverage for their medical needs while I was denied,” Fletcher said in a statement. “I am grateful that the court saw that treatment for what it was — unlawful discrimination — and I hope that this ruling means that no one else will have to go through being targeted for discrimination by their employer. We should all be able to count on our employers to treat us equally, especially for something as important as our health care.”

      • chuck dunbar April 5, 2020

        Thanks, Eric, for this post. I actually am aware of these kind of legal issues regarding transgender persons. But I find it strange, and offensive, unless I have misunderstood something, that persons wanting to help others, obviously a caring and good cause (as in “She Will Help”). would limit their help to “any natal born woman”, but not, it appears, a non-natal born woman, that is, a transgender woman. What gives with this? This offer does not list a name, but gives a number, perhaps I’ll call and inquire…

  13. James Marmon April 5, 2020



    California State Association of Counties (CSAC) and the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors issue the following statement regarding the COVID-19 crisis and the April 10th property tax deadline.

    “Taking care of Californians is our top priority, and counties, cities, and schools are burning through local reserves to do so. Any delay in payments beyond the April 10 property tax deadline, for individuals or businesses that can pay, will tip local governments into insolvency at a time when our residents need us the most.

    Counties will use all existing authority to cancel penalties and other charges for homeowners, small businesses, and other property owners that are unable to pay their property taxes due to circumstances caused by COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis. However, property owners who can pay or that haven’t been directly affected by COVID-19, including international corporations and out-of-state landlords, still need to pay on time to keep critical government services running. Assisting taxpayers in this way is not new to Tax Collectors, who most recently worked to help those who were affected by the Camp and Woolsey fires.

    Property taxes only go to local governments—schools, counties, cities and special districts—not to the state or federal government, and directly fund education, health care, hospitals, welfare services, fire protection, and homelessness efforts, to name a few.

    Delaying the April 10 property tax payment would take tens of billions of dollars away from local government, create cash flow problems, and cause some to default on their loans, which would have significant long-term effects on all local agencies in California.”

    California State Association of Counties (CSAC) is the voice of California’s 58 counties at the state and federal level.

  14. Lazarus April 5, 2020


    The Yurok Tribal Chairman Joseph L. James has issued an emergency closure order of the Yurok reservation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic effective immediately on April 4, 2020, pursuant to the Yurok Constitution, Article IV, Section 1 (g). The Yurok reservation will be closed to non-residents however, essential tribal government employees, authorized vehicles and essential services will continue to have access. State highways will still be open to through traffic. This order has been issued to protect reservation residents’ health, safety, and welfare.

    Signed by authority of Yurok Tribal Chairman

    Joseph L. James

  15. James Marmon April 5, 2020

    Lake County’s first COVID-19 case confirmed

    LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – On Sunday, Lake County Public Health Officer Dr. Gary Pace said the first positive case of COVID-19 in Lake County has been confirmed.

    The transmission appears to have been from contact with a known case at an out-of-county workplace, Pace said.

    Pace said there is no evidence of community spread of COVID-19 at this point.

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