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Mendocino County Today: December 7, 2020

Warm & Dry | 22 New Cases | ICU Beds | Masked Barber | 4.4 Quake | Daisy MacCallum | Grinch Grange | Rocky Shore | Old McDonald | Historical Society | AV Village | Early Mendocino | Tracing Overwhelmed | Kamikaze Parade | Missing Johnny | Toll Bridge | B Visions | Pearl Harbor | Ed Notes | Yesterday's Catch | Medical Miracles | Babe Ruth | PG&E Rates | Megadrought | Floating Cabin | Fragile Democracy | Human Chess | Continental Cuisine | Clearlake Monolith

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HIGH PRESSURE BUILDING into the area is expected to bring mainly dry weather for the work week. There is a chance for a few periods of light rainfall in the northern areas mid to late week. High temperatures will be above normal through Tuesday. More rain is possible for the weekend. (NWS)

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22 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Sunday bringing the total to 1759.

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Stats/info From Dr. Coren, 12/4/20: 1 death every 9 seconds worldwide. 200,000 US cases per day with a total of +14 million that represents 25% of the cases worldwide; 275,550 deaths in the US that represents 18% of worldwide deaths.

The Northern Region: Fewest ICU beds in any region are available - we could run out of ICU beds in the next few weeks; 171 cases per week with a 12% expected admissions rate = 21 admissions. 2-5 of those people have a longer ICU stay resulting in 20 additional ICU patients in the next few weeks. We are already receiving out of county patients

Staffing is tired; state volunteers are short. Anyone with any medical condition or an accident victim may have problems receiving adequate care

7 of 16 ICU beds are currently occupied in the county Adventist hospital network; 28 negative pressure rooms in the 3-hospital network; We have cross trained nurses and staff to work on other units in the hospital as needed.

It’s all about the Nurses as a critical resource. Coast Hospital has already more than adequately met a surge challenge in the Sherwood Oaks outbreak.

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Masked Barber, Pandemic of 1918

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Mag. 4.4 earthquake - 5 mi northeast of Hopland, Sunday, 6 Dec, 7.03 am 

A 4.4-magnitude earthquake struck between Hopland and Lakeport Sunday morning. The tremor was recorded at 7.03 am local time, at a very shallow depth of 5 miles below the surface. Based on the preliminary seismic data, the quake was probably felt by many people in the area of the epicenter. It did not cause significant damage, other than objects falling from shelves in areas near the epicenter. 

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Daisy Kelley MacCallum taken in 1952, the year before she died, sitting on the sun porch of her home on Albion Street in Mendocino.

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With great regret AV Grange won't be having our traditional Holiday Dinner. It's one of our most favorite things to do. Darn!

BUT: How about a Christmas Drive-in movie at the AV GRANGE? OK! Take a break from all that Xmas bustle, bring the kids, (or not), wave at your friends in their car 6ft. from yours, bundle up and enjoy, from Dr. Seuss,


SATURDAY, December. 19th

Parking lot opens at 5:00 the movie will start at dark, probably 5:30 or so.

This movie is the people version starring Jim Carrey

We will have cart to car snack service including hot drinks. We obey the Covid protocols and you will too.

If the rains finally come, and we feel certain it'll be rainy on Sat. the 19th we will publicize a rain date, (Sun 20th, or Tues. 22nd)

Also, if there is enough interest we would like to show a movie in the doldrums between Xmas and New Years, (Dec. 27, 28, or 29) How about Modern Times with Charlie Chaplin? or…?

Contact Cap Rainbow 895-3807 with excitement and ideas

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Rocky Shore, Glass Beach

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Esteemed Editor:

Thank you Wes Smoot for your story about the wagon road origins of Highway 128. Please tell us more about its route between Yorkville and Navarro.

Joan Bloyd told me that it took all of a mid-June day to go from the Cloverdale train station to Floodgate Ranch where her father held a summer camp for polite young ladies from Pasadena. Walter Gschwend drove the four mule wagon, Joan reported.

I can still find pieces of the McDonald to the Sea highway inside the whole length of my highway fence here in Navarro, macadam, wooden culverts and black and white redwood posts to mark them. Also there's a two hundred foot piece of the old wagon road, a cut in the side hill about twelve feet wide that avoids the swampy spot at the Ingram Ranch's piece of the current highway.

And know that the wagon road came up the hill from the Greenwood turnoff and right through the middle of Edmeades' barn when it was the Hamar Olsen Ranch, too wet half the year to drive across the low ground in front of Day Ranch where the current 128 runs. Heading north you can still see this right-of-way through the oaks and pines on your left before the Husch Vineyard entrance if you slow down to 45 miles an hour.

Brad Wiley


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New! AV Village Activity: Trippin’

Monday December 7th, 4:30 to 5:30 PM

Join AV Village member Mary O'Brien for this entertaining new event! Participants should have 2 or 3 pictures of a particular place they have visited, which they’ll share on Zoom. Then they’ll give a few facts about the place and ask participants to guess the locale. After that they can share an event - humorous or sobering - that happened while they were there and why it was meaningful to them.

AV Village Zoom Book Conversation (Part 5) and CODA

Tuesday December 8th, 1 PM

The Book is still Elderhood - Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life by Louise Aronson - we are only focusing on chapters 12-14 but folks are encouraged to join us even if they haven't been able to read it all. We will focus on how we can make changes to improve aging in our community. If you are interested please contact Lauren for more details 

Virtual Holiday Party

Every Thursday in December (10th, 17th, 24th and 31st)

2-3 PM. Bring your Favorite Holiday Dish Recipes or Handicraft Projects.

AV Village Volunteer Lucinda Walker, MSW, will lead this innovative group - Please join in a community gathering and share your delicious holiday recipes or your craft projects with us. Bring a sample to show everyone; show it off with pride and describe how you make it!

With our Holidays cancelled, let’s have our own Zoom parties. I’m always looking for new ideas for homemade food to cook for friends, family, and, let’s be honest, myself during the holidays and fun craft projects to keep me busy while listening to traditional holiday tunes by my fire. Let the holidays begin!

AV Village Monthly Zoom Gathering: AV Village looks at Gratitude, Sunday December 13th, 4 to 5 PM

Hope you can join us for a refreshing look at Gratitude!

Please RSVP with the coordinator ( so we can get an idea of attendance, thank you.

Looking forward to seeing you soon! BYOB for a more enjoyable event!

Same Zoom Link for all the activities above:

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 434 337 6734

Passcode: avv

One tap mobile: +16699009128,,4343376734#,,,,,,0#,,490940# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location: +1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)

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‘There are definitely strains on the system,’ Sangiacomo warns

by Justine Frederiksen

The 420 new cases of Covid-19 reported in Mendocino County last month was twice the number reported in October (210), and Ukiah City Manager Sage Sangiacomo warned this week that there are now simply too many cases for contact tracers to handle.

“All the numbers are increasing significantly, and are higher than we’ve ever seen before, to the point where it is causing significant issues with being able to do contact tracing,” Sangiacomo told the Ukiah City Council at its last virtual meeting Wednesday. “And now contact tracing is, in fact, limited to those that are at higher risk of transmitting to a larger population base, such as first responders.

“Those who are in quarantine who might not be in that higher risk category are being asked to basically contact their close contacts directly,” he continued. “So there are definitely strains on the system related to contact tracing given the larger numbers that we are seeing.”

Mendocino County spokeswoman and Deputy Chief Executive Officer Sarah Dukett confirmed Friday that the surging numbers of Covid-19 cases had overwhelmed the county’s contact tracers, particularly over the weekend, but that the county has “had higher numbers for weeks now.” Dukett said more information would be released Friday afternoon during the Public Health Office’s regular update.

Sangiacomo also said that on Tuesday, the Mendocino County dashboard of data listed 398 people in quarantine (after close contact with a positive case) and 225 in isolation (after testing positive), and explained that the “number in isolation represents known, active cases, which is a higher case load and count than we’ve had before.”

Sangiacomo also pointed to the county’s positivity rate, which he said was increasing despite the increase in the number of tests being given. On Dec. 3, the Mendocino County Public Health Office reported that the percentage of positive cases was 4.31 percent. On Nov. 1, that number was 3.73 percent.

“Sometimes you’ll see the percent positivity rate increase if there’s not enough testing being done, but in the state of California and county of Mendocino, we’re actually doing more testing,” he said, explaining that the high percentage of positive cases statewide was creating concern about the “impact to our medical providers, so all of those numbers needed to be tracked very carefully.”

In spite of the sometimes staggering numbers, however, Sangiacomo advised residents and the council that, “we still control, in part, our own destiny. Wearing a mask doesn’t have to be a political issue – if you want to keep our businesses open, wear a mask. If we want to control our own destiny here in Ukiah, doing what we can, limiting gatherings, wearing a mask, socially distancing and proper hygiene, goes a long way.

“What is going on in our personal lives could, and does, have a direct impact on our economy and our small businesses,” Sangiacomo continued. “I appeal to everybody to do their part so that we can keep our businesses open and we don’t have draconian measures placed on us that limits unnecessarily our economic activity. Because that has a significant adverse impact on top of the virus itself.

“If we lose businesses at this time, regaining the backbone of our community, the mom and pop businesses, those can’t recover quickly,” he said. “If we lose those businesses, the likelihood that they will be back when the vaccine is out, is very slim. And the ability for them to rebound is much harder than the big box retailers and other businesses. So let’s all do our part to help keep our businesses open and support our business community here locally.”

On Thursday, the county Public Health Office reported that 14 new cases had been reported for a total of 1,671. The number of patients hospitalized at the time was six, with two people in the Intensive Care Unit. The number in quarantine was reduced to 373, and the number in isolation was also lower at 215.

(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)

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CHRIS CALDER WRITES: Yeah. No. This is done. I love the Lighted Truck/Holiday Lights parade. This year it's a kamikaze mission. Super. Spreader. Event. The opposite of a community celebration. A community killer. A roll of the dice sure to breed resentment. Sorry to be such a downer but please don't infect us. Please. We're doing OK right now.

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I am old and retired but… Just imagine if Johnny Pinches was back in the seat for the 3rd district again. Likely, his “one paragraph ordinance” would be something like: “Mendocino County will NOT charge any fees or permits, as our county earns plenty of sales taxes at the use end of all small businesses that we support to flourish. That said, there are State Regs re this particular product that safeguards and protects the environmental concerns via CEQA and the State Water Board. And they are the appropriate entities to oversee such concerns.” BOOM

Frankly, I am exhausted just following the 1st and 2nd district Supes over their careers these 40+ years. Both are sooooooo busy making no-sense. Unable to protect their homes, friends, and bank accounts. There would be no grapes if they had to follow “rules” they have created for that other businesses. Or what about the millions of public funds spent on a new courthouse that has never actually been built. Or now, the Measure B funds, that could have created positive mental healthcare in communities all around the county, not just in Ukiah. Will it ever actually be built? What about the walk & bikes to school programs? Millions awarded to the county, via the BOS, that never actually paid a dime in making safe crossings for kids, much less a bike lane, or a safe way to walk to school. I miss Johnny being on the Board, with his eye on the spreadsheets and common sense way he would tell his fellow board members: “AW, common....It’s Nut Cuttin’ Time!”

PS. what do you think of letter from Emmy Good in current issue of “Willits Weekly” on page 2? (Reposted below)

She was one of the originals who supported Measure B, because being a business owner right on the center of town, she was aware that the need was not for “transients” or “transplants w/troubles” but for many generations of locals who were needing support while recovering from alcohol, drugs, trauma, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, Etc. and came to the realization that creating such a warm and sunny place could create wellness for the entire community, in a way that could be sustainable. The CEO and heads of Ukiah “services” still has this “gauntlet” concept in: “You have arrived from elsewhere, and such, we must treat you as broken/fix/and or directly expunge via control, in order to protect our communities.” Hence everything on Orchard Street now. When originally Measure B was all about, finally, creating a warm hand to extend to help neighbors. (Much like Richard & Fiona did when creating such a beautiful spot out of an old storefront into the Pt Arena library, for a fraction of what the County planners would have made the public pay.

Ted Williams responded: Measure B is largely an embarrassment. I'm not here to justify the execution of what was promised, but on the 15th we'll share current ownership of the various tasks. There won't be much left for the eleven member committee to recommend.

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Toll Bridge across Big River

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To the Editor: 

Almost two years ago, I made this 3 minute presentation of a vision for a Mental Wellness Center to be located at the old Howard Memorial Hospital site in Willits, to the Measure B Oversight Committee which as tasked with creating and coordinating mental Health services here in Mendocino County using funds approved by the taxpayers. 

Here we are having spent a great deal of money on reports, architects, coordinators, and so far, nothing on much-needed services. I want the board of supervisors and the oversight committee to know that the public still cares. 

This is the 2/2020 Original 3-minute vision, a work in progress. Still a good idea. What do you think? 

As I entered the old Howard Hospital, I experienced a wave of feelings. Many family members and friends' lives were helped and saved here. This old building is filled with loving memories and such potential. 

I was pleasantly surprised to see how clean and well-kept the building is. Over 30,000 square feet of space on over 3 acres that have been beautifully maintained. I took about 60 photos as we studied the map, remembering so many of the rooms and imagining what could be there now. 

First, we would like to think of this as the Howard Memorial Mental Wellness Center, offering a wide range of professional services and activities that promote good mental health. Residential programs are ideally suited to this property. There are 14 bay- windowed rooms with bathrooms. 

Good mental health begins with good health which begins with good nutrition. Classes in cooking, nutrition, supplements, and diet can be here. The kitchen has the potential to become a culinary arts training program in addition to feeding staff, clients, visitors. The Seabiscuit Cafe could offer healthy food to go. 

There are conference rooms for meetings and support groups that could be used for needs from young folks to seniors. There is plenty of room for services for those who are dealing with substance abuse, depression, psychological needs, homelessness, unwed mothers, abusive situations and more. 

Because of a lack of time to expand on these exciting ideas for using this space to promote wellness, here is just a list of intriguing thoughts. 

A variety store, a thrift/craft shop, where items made by clients can be sold, hair salon /barbershop, classes in knitting, crocheting, handicrafts, use of herbs and growing herbs on site, cleansing and detox programs, relaxation techniques, yoga, tai chi, Qi Gong, juggling, meditation, dance and movement, drama groups, music, and art therapy, computer skills classes, a game room for quiet games, ping pong and small pool table, library, and more. 

Just think about what makes you happy and healthy. This is a kind, caring community and we can – with the help of Measure B funding, county support and perhaps state matching funds – do something very special right here in Willits, which may give people a reason not to bypass this town and opportunity. 

Thank you for your consideration. 

Emmy Good


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I GET all my covid information from Dr. Grant Colfax on the Bay Area TV news, Dr. Fauci wherever he shows up, Mendo County's daily covid chart, and random magazine articles. Governor Newsom's breathless, confusing covid briefings I tuned out months ago. (I'd pay attention to Grant Colfax's little brother, Dr. Drew Colfax here in Mendo, but I only hear KZYX early in the morning, and he appears much later in the day. These two Boonville-raised medicos, home schooled btw, do Mendo proud.) 

THE BASIC political dilemma that the true covid experts face is created by non-medical government, especially its elected people like Governor Newsom. With them, and their bureaucracies, we get the basic obscenity of highly paid people in secure jobs driving small business people to the poor house. Count me as one of thousands happy to see California sheriffs refusing to enforce state covid edicts, which are not only unfair to working people but often arbitrary. And always confusing. Most people are already masking up and conscientiously keeping their distance from the rest of the herd, so why shut down, for instance, outdoor dining?

I WAS DIMLY aware that Trumpers were unhappy with Fox News because a couple of their fascist-lite commentators had demanded that Trump put up some evidence of election fraud. When their leader is even too much for Fox… To catch our leader live last night (Saturday) out of Valdosta, Georgia, I had to go to the new home of mass delusion, NewsMax.

AS USUAL, Trump delivered more than an hour of stream of consciousness riffs about how the election was stolen from him, but with timeouts for long, filmed segments from some nut raving about the great fraud on a big screen that the NewsMax crew was unable to capture, instead lingering for long minutes on the portly figure of Trump casually leaning up against his podium. The president offered no evidence of election fraud beyond a grainy film clip allegedly from a Georgia election office showing a small bunch of boxes he said contained jiggered ballots. 

THERE wasn't any election fraud, but it creates a sustaining myth for Trump's credulous millions, as untrue as Hitler's sustaining myth that Jews had stabbed Germany in the back after World War One. 

AS THE ORANGE ORACLE rambled on to great cheers from the Georgians, a sales pitch for a book called, ‘Socialists Never Sleep’ scrolled across the bottom of the screen. 

HARRUMPH! INSOMNIAC SOCIALISTS? This socialist logs 7 hours a night, and he seldom misses an afternoon nap, but he won't presume to speak for the rest of the comrades. Drumming up big fear about socialists, let alone communists, and maybe a coupla thousand self-identified Marxists in the whole country, none of whom lead a political party with more than twenty people active in it? Excuse me, but where's the threat? (Boredom maybe, if you get one of them going.) But the Trumpian point is to scare the remedial readers with a non-existent threat from social democrats of the Bernie type, and to scare the dimmer rich that their money is at risk from, of all people, Biden. 

IF THERE'S a single Marxist on the entire Northcoast I'm unaware of him/her. Socialists? A few probably who know what socialism is and identify with it. Marxists? Maybe a couple of plump, caponized academics of the harmless type you might hear on KZYX, but probably not. Thousands of NorthCoasties went for Bernie not because he identifies as a socialist but because millions of people identified with his economic program, which included most famously single payer. Interesting that a lot of Trump voters said they would have gone with Bernie if he'd been the Democrat nominee.

WELL, WELL. Look who's here, George Orwell with another brain tickler:

“The following often-quoted passage comes from Act V of Shakespeare's tragedy, Timon of Athens:

Come not to me again: but say to Athens

Timon hath made his everlasting mansion

Upon the beached verge of the salt flood:

Who once a day with his embossed froth

The turbulent surge shall cover.

This passage contains three errors. What are they?”

HMMM. Who should be whom, dare I or anybody else correct The Bard. I guessed at who/whom but figured the other two errors had something to do with the Mediterranean Sea, about which I know virtually nothing.

A FEW PAGES ON, George gives us the answer:

(a) The 'who' should be 'whom.'

(b) Timon was buried below the high tide mark. The sea would cover him twice a day, not once, as there are always two high tides within twenty-four hours.

(c) It wouldn't cover him at all, as there is no perceptible tide in the Mediterranean.

ONE OUT OF THREE? Not bad. Maybe a C in a lenient classroom.

BILL KIMBERLIN isn't the only person wondering, "Why is there no more public access to the Albion River? I used to be able to launch our Kayaks just up from the ocean and paddle upriver. Last time I tried this, it was all fenced off with a pay-station. Isn’t public access a fundamental right on the California Coast to both the Ocean and to the waterways that connect to the Ocean?"

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CATCH OF THE DAY, December 6, 2020

Andino, Camarillo, Cody

MICHELLE ANDINO, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Controlled substance, getting credit using someone else’s ID.

ESTEBAN CAMARILLO, Willits. Domestic battery, criminal threats.

VERONICA CODY, Ukiah. Controlled substance. 

Guyette, Palma, Spaggiari

THOMAS GUYETTE JR., Lakeport/Ukiah. False ID, failure to appear, probation revocation.

OSCAR PALMA-SOLANO, Willits. No license, suspended license for DUI, probation revocation.

DIEGO SPAGGIARI, Willits. Parole violation.

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by Tommy Wayne Kramer 

Just like you and everyone we know, I’ve been spending the past few decades not paying much attention to my ever-worsening eyesight.

This is because it takes a few decades for it to get really bad. But by last summer my vision was to the point that driving a car was like an amusement park adventure, except that on Highway 101 the bumper cars go pretty fast. Not that I could see them of course, but they definitely sounded fast.

When my eyeballs started going south I did what everybody else does, which is nothing. It’s hardly noticeable in the beginning, but ignoring the problem isn’t really the answer. Eventually my eyes were watering, I was squinting at street signs and seeing blurry strips on the road instead of a single white highway stripe. Driving at night I may as well have had a bag over my head.

It got worse. A month or so ago I was looking at the world as if through a very dirty windshield. The problem? For that I had to enlist the help of Dr. Lori Shafer, an optometrist, at her clinic over on Hospital Drive.

She’s got the eye charts, the machines with dials and, most of all, the knowledge to come up with the answer: Cataracts.

To remove the cataracts I hurried over to the Eye Care Institute in Santa Rosa where Dr. Arwa Alsamarae waved a magic wand or used a vacuum cleaner or sprayed some Windex on my eyeballs and presto! The cataracts were gone and I could see.

Well, not exactly. It took a couple days after the 15 minutes of surgery, but that’s not a long time to wait if you’ve been seeing things through gauze a decade or more. And the result is miraculous.

In the old days I saw the world maybe a bit better than Stevie Wonder, but now everything is in full widescreen, Technicolor 3D Cinemascope. I even think my hearing has improved some.

A mere 24 hours after the magical laser optic tricks Dr. Alsamarae performed, I began seeing shades, colors and hues I barely remember ever seeing. It was like experiencing a whole new range of brilliant colors (Magenta! Vermilion! Burnt Umber!) in a box of Crayolas in third grade.

There are drawbacks when it comes to eye surgery. In a small pamphlet handed out following the procedure was a list of activities not permitted following the procedure, but as there was no mention of cage fighting, fencing or boxing, few applied to me. No alcohol for 24 hours meant it was just me and my li’l ol’ crackpipe for entertainment, and the ban on hot tubbing for an entire week temporarily interrupted my swingin’ California lifestyle on Ukiah’s groovy west side.

But small sacrifices bring a big payoff: Breathtaking vision. Today if I stand on my tiptoes I can see Willits, and instead of a grayish blur off to the east I now enjoy a clear, sparkling view. Unfortunately it’s of Lake County.

I see bright, individual leaves on trees; before I couldn’t be sure I was even looking at a tree. Might’ve been a big greenish tarp draped over a telephone pole for all I could tell. Also, I now walk around town and can see inside your house, so either dress right or pull the shades.

My new lenses are designed to provide maximum distance vision and oh boy, do they. Every time I open my front door and step onto the porch I erupt in soft chuckles at the bright new shimmering panorama laid out before me.

Unfortunately I can no longer read things close-up. I suppose the easy fix is to have wife Trophy hold up a book from 200 feet away and flip pages for me. Longterm, a batch of new reading glasses is in my future. That last sentence has Anne Nix breaking into a little dance in her living room. She realizes I’ll be soon be stopping by Mendocino Optical to buy fresh eyewear, and she also knows I’ll be losing my new glasses as fast as I buy them, returning two or three times a month for replacements. Maybe Santa Claus will stuff my stocking with six lbs. of prescription glasses this year.

But who cares about reading? Right now I’m all about seeing objects more distant than a book on a table. The crystal clarity of brightly colored thingies a hundred yards away is still thrilling.

If my vision gets any better I’ll soon be seeing through walls, and maybe in a month or so I’ll be seeing into the future.

Crocs, the other miracle

Restored vision is surely a stunning medical achievement, but I’m here to report I’ve experienced one other such miracle in my life: Crocs shoes.

I was functionally crippled until about 15 years ago when daughter Emily insulted me with a Father’s Day gift of a pair Crocs, the ugliest shoes ever made. Crocs are uglier than Ugg Boots, uglier than platform shoes, uglier than flip-flops on German tourists wearing knee-high black socks.

But Crocs are the equivalent of surgery for ailing, painful feet, and with no bloodshed, no stitches and no driving to medical appointments. So as of today I can see and walk for miles; my vision and mobility both are better now than 20 years ago.

I am one happy, rebuilt customer from the soles of my feet to the tops of my eyebrows. Next I think I’ll get a lobotomy.

(Tom Hine has been writing under the Tommy Wayne Kramer byline for many decades. He’s a licensed private investigator and worked criminal defense for 35 years.)

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Babe Ruth Retires, 1948

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PG&E To Raise Rates 8% to help pay for wildfire mitigation. 

Beleagured utility is belatedly upgrading equipment, adopting safety measures to avoid another deadly wildfire.

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Western states face megadrought, experts warn

"Eleven of the past 14 years have been drought years in much of the American West, including California, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona and across the southern Plains to Texas and Oklahoma, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor <>

A READER WRITES: It’s time to start seriously considering lifestyle and agricultural changes. We cannot continue using water resources the same way as 100 or even 50 years ago. Time to consider a moratorium on new vineyards and large cannabis grows.

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Floating Cabin, Mendo Coast

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Donald Trump’s wild claims of fraud and his attacks on the electoral system came too close to creating an unnecessary constitutional crisis. We can be grateful that a couple of Republicans, like the secretary of state in Georgia and that Michigan election board member, refused to buckle to political pressure and voted to certify their states’ elections. Had they not, a series of dark scenarios leading up to Trump being declared president by a Republican Congress might have happened.

Why? Because our Founding Fathers, unsure how the common man would handle democracy, put safety checks in the Constitution so legislatures and other officials could bypass the will of the people. No other presidential candidate has tried to exploit those dark alleys. But Trump, whose ethics are those of a Mafia don, pushed (and is still pushing) every lever he can find to overturn the election.

It’s time to fix our outdated, creaky election system so this can never happen again. Let Reps. Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris know that fixing this — and maybe the Electoral College itself — needs to be a top priority of the next Congress.

May we — and democracy — never face another post-election crisis like we’ve just experienced.

Rick Childs


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Human Chess, Leningrad

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by Marilyn Davin

All emergency staff meetings at the tony French Laundromat bistro require mandatory attendance, but the latest meeting announcement was a picture of existential urgency. The first hint was that the meeting was called by the owner, Monsieur Bandit, instead of by head chef Monsieur Maȋtre Queux. Whatever fomented this latest crisis clearly did not concern the timbre of the crackle of duck skin or the lopsided shape of a crème caramel, shaped into a pear, complete with stem, for the holiday menu, but must be about something else entirely. The staff, wearing identical white linen uniforms so heavily starched it was difficult for them to sit down normally (designed to discourage sloth), filed silently into the windowless, soundproof staff room at the back of the bistro and perched on high stools. A blow-up of the seasonal menu was tacked to one wall next to a complicated reservation flow chart and what appeared to be a loyalty oath, complete with space for a notary’s seal below the signature line. 

Monsieur Bandit (furiously tossing his custom, medium-sheen midnight navy silk suit jacket onto a chair and tugging at the collar of his shirt, cursed under his breath as a platinum cufflink disengaged and flew across the room, landing on the floor with a dull clunk).

“Mon dieu! I wake up this morning to what? The governor and the San Francisco mayor both splashed all over Page One of the news dailies. For what? For having the good taste to choose the Laundromat for their celebratory dinners! Forget the revolution, Bernie’s (metaphorically) dead and gone and the U.S. thankfully has no barricades in its future (quickly looks heavenward and crosses himself). We depend on the kindness and lucre largesse of the rich and politically powerful for our daily bread and beurre. (Turning an alarming shade of purple in sudden escalating rage) We love our one percenters and promise to protect their carefully cultivated working-class public images, which above all include shielding them from cheap shots from envious journalists whose credit cards would max out on a single mini bowl of our signature consommé. We ARE the French Laundromat! (pulls a muguet-scented pressed handkerchief from his back pocket and carefully dabs at a widening line of sweat at his hairline). 

Monsieur Maȋtre Queux: (tut-tuts in disgust): “And never forget that if we encourage every unwashed, social-climbing Tom, Dick, and Henri to dine here we’ll be left with nothing but declined credit cards and bounced checks – can chicken nuggets be far behind? (shudders dramatically). 

Monsieur Bandit (struggling and failing to appear encouraging, turns toward the hang-dog employees perched uncomfortably along the wall, knife-edge linen creases intact):

“Your orientations explained very clearly in the American Culture section that the rich have to appear poor and sympathetic to losers like the ones who line up at our disguised back door every night begging for scraps. We thankfully don’t have much to give since our entrées average a tasteful one-to-three ounces, but the shiftless American hoi polloi just keep on coming. If the Good Lord wanted these worthless parasites to eat like kings and queens He would have given them crowns – and much-needed eau de lavande! (dramatically sniffs in olfactory distaste).

(A diminutive female employee raises her hand, creasing the ‘Thérèse Hélène’ embroidered above her breast pocket)

(Monsieur Bandit turns toward her)”Yes, Kimberly?”

(Kimberly, aka Thérèse Hélène, raises her eyes from the floor to Monsieur Bandit) “How can we tell if someone is a journalist?”

(Monsieur Bandit, reverting to the pompous lecture style he adopts when explaining something obvious to the dimwitted hired help). “It’s getting trickier since, more and more, they look like the shabby beggars they claim to love so much. Like most American men, journalists wear baggy khakis, frayed at the cuffs. Their worn button-down shirts are rarely pressed and they almost always wear neon-colored athletic shoes (involuntarily shudders). The women are harder to spot but generally dress like the gypsies you see camped outside the Paris city limits. In the winter both sexes wear the adolescent “puffer” jackets they think make them look hip and “one of the people.” Their cell phones - usually beat up from subjects who ripped them from their hands and threw them to the ground – never otherwise leave their hands, and both the men and women quickly look around furtively in hopes of spotting someone famous.”

(Thérèse Hélène looks dubious as a male server with the embroidered name Jacques Pierre raises his hand).

“Yes, Jake,” Monsieur Bandit said dismissively (underscoring his oft-repeated disgust with the uniquely American trait of turning every name into a childish nickname).

Jacques Pierre (aka Jake): “But that’s also how rich tech-types dress. How can we be sure they’re not journalists?” 

Monsieur Bandit: (pivoting to the wall and gesturing to what looks like a revised reservation form)

“Aside from the poor quality of their haircuts and shoes, our new Laundromat reservation process should help with that. There is now a box to check in the upper right-hand corner that shows whether a reservation was made six months in advance, as required of the non-famous rich, or at the last minute, which is what the truly rich and powerful do. Always double check against our master list of the rich and famous, which has current photos. There is unfortunately no master list of journalists since slave wages have thinned their ranks. Hopefully they will soon disappear altogether. Pay particular attention to politicians since they decide whether we remain open during la peste. The hostess must be informed immediately so she can head off any suspicious-looking inquisitive types lurking outside and immediately seat the VIPs, facing away from the door, of course. If a man or woman who looks like a possible journalist pulls out a phone to take a photo at any point, walk quickly in front of him or her to block the shot.

(The staff looks dubious but appears to accept the new procedure’s logic)

Monsieur Bandit: “One more thing before I turn this over to Monsieur Maȋtre Queux. We are all family, here, but like all families we must have rules. As a valued member of the French Laundromat family, you must sign the new confidentiality agreement (gestures to the blow-up of the form tacked to the wall). This is purely pro forma and simply formalizes what you already know – to never to disclose anything you witness on French Laundromat premises. The clause about felony charges and jail time don’t really mean anything, it’s just boiler-plate verbiage our advocates threw in. A notary will verify your signature and fingerprints on your way out. Monsieur Maȋtre Queux?” 

Monsieur Maȋtre Queux: (walking over to the seasonal menu tacked to the wall before turning to the employees perched against the opposite wall) “You need to pay more attention to the daily wine recommendations.Today, for example, we received several dozen bottles of a cut-rate pinot that did not place in this year’s top rankings. If a guest suggests that only white wine should be paired with fish, inform him or her – politely and with all due deference, of course – that the white wine/fish pairing is old school and never followed in France. Tell them that top-rated chefs worldwide recommend California’s pinots for fish. You will receive a small bonus for each bottle you sell at the standard price of $615.00 a bottle. Double the bonus for every bottle sold of 1996 Dom Perignon Rose Gold Methusaleh (list price $11,900 USD, “coppery light pink, amber and gold tones, fruit in the most perfect state of ripeness, with wild strawberry and apricot, complemented.”) One final thing: Do not under any circumstances ignite the crȇpes suzette near anyone with a frizzy perm. A neighboring bistro just settled a nasty lawsuit after a guest’s perm caught fire.” (The staff gasps and their faces turn as white as their starched culinary coats.) 

(The meeting wraps up and staffers stand stiffly in their starched white coats and line up at a desk piled with “pro forma” loyalty oaths to be signed and notarized. Outside a U-Haul filled with bottles of pinot is being unloaded and carried down narrow stone steps to the wine cellar. The blow-ups of the new forms are taken down from the walls and marked for shredding. The first of the dinner crowd is just five hours away.)

* * *


  1. George Hollister December 7, 2020

    “Wearing a mask doesn’t have to be a political issue – if you want to keep our businesses open, wear a mask.”

    If wearing a mask shouldn’t be political, then why mention it as being political? Ukiah City Manager Sage Sangiacomo is not the only person who keeps saying this nonsense. Also, the people I see not wearing masks seem pretty a-political, and instead are out of touch for whatever reasons. The primary source of new Covid-19 cases in Mendocino County is in the Latino community. What is the city of Ukiah, and County doing about this? How about door to door outreach? In the past this is exactly what would have been done. Identify where the problem is and focus on it. We are failing ourselves if we think the California Governor, or the US President will act for us. I know most of us, maybe everyone, feels the County fails at everything, so the bar is set pretty low. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

    • Marmon December 7, 2020


      Sometimes I wish I hadn’t started this whole mask thing, I did not intend for it to become political. My intention was to get us out of lockdown and give people a sense of safety whether they worked or not..


      • chuck dunbar December 7, 2020

        You did the right thing and you did it well on masks, James. You kept it straight and all about protection and safety. Others politicized it all.

  2. Lazarus December 7, 2020

    RE Measure B

    I believe Ms. Good of Willits’s heart is in the right place. Unfortunately, multi-use for such an activities center which she envisions is not in the realm of reality of 2020 politics, let alone building codes.

    Public use in today’s litigious society is strictly enforced. CEQA, California Environmental Quality Act, is a very real killer of such concepts.

    Several builders have evaluated the building over the years and all came away with the opinion, it will take a lot, perhaps more than it’s worth, to bring it up to current codes.

    The place is nearly a hundred years old and there is nothing remarkable about it, except for the land it’s built on. It is a myriad of modular add-ons and poorly imagined additions. There are known mold issues, and it has asbestos throughout.

    Howard was closed as a hospital because it was deemed unsafe by the State. The owners felt it would be cheaper to build new than fix it. Eventually, building new ran over budget, and Adventist Health was brought in to finish it up.

    An amount of 15 million dollars was thrown around at the beginning of Measure B discussions nearly 3 years ago. Anyone who has ever worked with the Government, or remodeled a kitchen, knows that number could be easily be doubled to complete such a project.

    Then there’s, the building has been for sale for years. If it was such a great situation why hasn’t a developer made a move on it?
    In closing, who’s going to run the place and work there? The county can’t fill the positions they currently have open.

    Just look at what is happening with the Training Center and Sheriffs Sub Station in Redwood Valley, so far, it a bust…
    Be well,

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