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Mendocino County Today: Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017

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Sad Story - Historic 'San Juan' Sinks Today

The iconic former commercial fishing vessel (that also laid cable back in the 70's from the West Coast to Japan) had a hull failure and took in water today.

Rex Gressett, who has had a recent run of bad luck, lived aboard. We understand a canine might have been lost in the sinking but that is unverified. We received an email from Rex, but we'll let him explain what transpired in his own hand.

The boat is 71.9' and built in 1930. It weighs 72 gross tons.

(courtesy MendocinoSportsPlus)

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Boat Sunk, Dog Dead

When Olive was taken to the animal shelter in Ukiah thousands of people reached out to me. Every day I meet people who ask me about the dog. Folks that I do not really think of as readers of the AVA, but who may indeed read the fine little paper say hi. There are a surprising number of them. But the greatest number of people who now know Olive and me discovered us on Facebook, a media that I know very little about.

I try and write newspaper articles. I do not really do or understand Facebook. I know this is shamefully backward of me. When I writ, my objective is to narrate. I want to tell what, in the honorable colloquial of newspapers, is referred to as an angle. I write for readers. I want a beginning, a middle, and an end. I try to the best of my ability to do a bang-up article but the mode of expression is archaic newspaper speak. I want to convey hard information uncovered for the reader by an investigative process. I want to make you mad or happy or outraged or something and do it succinctly. I don’t know Facebook from Chinese.

Because of the story of Olive's abduction, I have learned firsthand the power and reach and penetration of this new thing Facebook (well new to me). So many people have heard of Olive and me that way, so many wished us well, a number sent money. I got enough cash to bail her out and pay for the licensing of all my dogs and get a burger for us all. It was a huge generosity, and I like to think a kind of kiss off to Olive's abductors.

Grocery clerks and stackers, people on the street, have called me by my first name and asked about my dog. A car full of kids drove by me and yelled out the window in kidtalk something unintelligible but clearly supportive of Olive.

Three days after we got Olive home she started bleeding from her nose. It got worse. There was a lot of blood. Olive was what she has always been, a lady. Patient, kind, long suffering, and loyal. I held her and mopped up the blood with kleenex. I took her to the vet, of course, and gave her the lousy pills they tossed at us. She died in my arms four days later. I could not believe it. She was so immensely health when she left for Ukiah.

The same night that Olive died something hit the ship. I reckon it was a big floater. They were coming down the river in ranks, pretty heavy after the rain. I had the radio on low, and when I turned it off to go to bed I heard that terrible sound for a seaman of running water below the decks. I went down and the hull was half way full.

I did what you do. I ran like hell for the Coast Guard and screamed for help at their front gate until I woke some poor kid up and they came over and we all worked hard with their big pump. We worked all night and it became apparent that we could hold it with their pump, but we needed more than the smaller pumps I owned. It was a pretty good hit.

I worked for the dawn, planning and thinking and calculating the way you do. And worked out a plan to go to my friend Paul Katzeff, the smooth proprietor of Thanksgiving Coffee who owns my dock. I figured things might work out, if we could buy some more pumps, but when the day dawned and the world started up, it turned out that Paul was in San Francisco. And his gracious wife (I mean that) Joan would not make the loan. She offered me part of what I needed but I knew right then.

That was Monday morning. Now I am sitting beside the ship and marveling at how graceful and alive it seems as it slips away. I am watching it sink.

The San Juan was built in 1929, she is eighty one feet of cedar and oak. Still strong, not rotten in the least. It has been too long since she had a botto job and she loos a little rough and has not that much value in industrial fishing, but everybody that was born here, knows the ship. Knew. In Fort Bragg they kill boats, even graceful wonderful ones, in methodical business-like ways as they improve their fishing fortunes. There is no real sympathy for my poetic bullshit. Shit.

I know this is a great deal of crying. I ought to suck it up and let it go. But I have lived for fifteen years on the old boat. Ten of that with Olive. I have learned to be a writer, not a really good one, but a newspaper writer, a practical, easy kind of thing that I hope serves some real social and political purpose. I know I don’t write all that well. I just do my thing and because they are short and, I hope, punchy people read them. I learned how to do that living here on the ship. It is not nothing but it is not all that much. Still, damn, there are a lot of things I learned and read and thought here. A river can teach you things and that is true.

It was a lot of tragedy in a short span. And that is why I decided I would write it down. Tragedy happens. People get hit. Millions of us. Millions of people who we will never know get creamed and run out and evicted and sick. It happens with dismal regularity. It is common and not pretty but I wanted to write about it anyway, just because it is a story that happens zillions of times almost always in quietude and obscurity, and I thought that was an angle worth noting. It is sad, awful, and it does happen all the time. Most of us have to overcome. Of course I am very sad about Olive. Stricken. But so also are millions of us stricken. We should think about that. Maybe you do.

As I said, in an article there has to be an ending, a conclusion, a point. And there is one here. I have taken a bump and stepped out into that enormous ocean of people that have also taken viscious bumps, hard hits. Harder than this one. Most of them don’t cry in their beer like I am doing, at least not so publicly, and but I just wanted to point out that in the end, all that drink from the fountain of fucking disaster have a sort of crown of laurels. Unacknowledged to be sure. They are the salt and the grist and the substance of the long march of humans, damn it. It is not all glory, you know. A great deal of it is just what this is. A bummer. But the march goes on. And you watch, so will I.

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How do you top the story of the Fort Bragg City Council approving an ordinance that provides for cannabis manufacturing within the industrial zones of city limits. With four magic words that at once ignite and divide public sentiment in Mendocino County's second largest municipality: Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center.

On Monday night, February 13, the cannabis measure was adopted by a unanimous 4-0 vote (Councilman Dave Turner was out of town) with nary a grumble in the forty person audience. On the other hand, the Hospitality Center, situated in what was once the Old Coast Hotel at 101 N. Franklin Street, and its flagship entity Hospitality House (237 N. McPherson St.) prompted public comments of support and many more questioning its ability to function within Fort Bragg's downtown business district.

All four councilmembers present asked Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (MCHC) Board President Lynelle Johnson tough questions, beginning with Mayor Lindy Peters who wanted to know if MCHC's funding through grants was secure into the future. Ms. Johnson essentially dodged a straightforward answer by replying that MCHC is always looking for new grants. Peters asked about Hospitality Center (HC) and Hospitality House's (HH) relationship with neighbors. Ms. Johnson ducked again, citing her role with the “Downtown Watch,” an ad hoc group which has devolved into a pat-each-other-on-the-back gathering of pro-Hospitality business owners (a scant handful), most of whom are outside the immediate sphere of negative behaviors emanating from HH and HC. The negatives are: clientele who use drugs, are drunk, take food from HH and turn it into garbage on the streets, spit on neighbors doors and windows, urinate on neighbors walls, leave human and canine feces unattented on neighbors' property; the list goes on. The additional, and probably more important, negative is this: HH and HC staff and its Board are in denial about the mounting public safety issues that some of their clients are creating on the streets of Fort Bragg.

As questions from Councilmembers Will Lee, Mike Cimolino, and Bernie Norvell followed those from Mayor Peters something did become clear: Ms. Johnson, occasionally accompanied by MCHC chief operations officer, Paul Davis, were not going to give straight answers. Case in point: the packet of supporting materials for the MCHC agenda item contained more than two dozen emails from a business owner near Hospitality House, describing in detail almost daily instances of essentially criminal behavior going on in the alleyway behind HH (See my Nov. 16, 2016 article for just a few examples; similar behavioral incidents have continued through today). In response to questions from Councilman Norvell about the problems described in the emails from the business neighbor of HH, Paul Davis stated that he had been in more or less constant contact with said business owner. Councilman Norvell more or less flatly contradicted Davis, as in something to the effect that the business owner had seldom, if ever, received any responses to the emails. Readers may want to keep in mind that the business owner who sent the emails pointing out problems right outside HH's gate, problems/incidents involving HH's clientele, also included possible solutions in several of the emails. No one, including Mr. Davis, even bothered to respond to those emails.

In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird there is a line that reads, “The truth is not in the Delafields.” When it comes to the Hospitality House, the truth is not in Ms. Johnson or Mr. Davis. Lee's narrator Scout Finch goes on to expand on her thought, “[These] were simply guides to daily living: never take a check from a Delafield without a discreet call to the bank.”

Back to the emails. There appear to be about twenty-seven of them in the supporting materials packet for the February 13th city council meeting. Reliable sources indicate that there were more, but some may have been withheld to protect the identity of the business owner and family members. Why does the business owner feel the need to remain anonymous. Simple, cursory conversations with other business owners will let you know that they either don't want to get involved, though they share similar questions, concerns, and frustrations. In addition some, if not many, business owners in Fort Bragg feel that HH and HC have been treated like sacred cows by city government in the recent past. Whether or not that is the absolute truth, folks are wary of speaking up about issues connected to Hospitality Center or Hospitality House.

At the risk of burying the lead, I've left an elephant in the Town Hall room out until this point. A simple glance at the emails sent regarding a laundry list of ongoing problems around Hospitality House  made this reader stop at one dated January 19, 2017 (the emails run from late October, 2016 into February, 2017). At this point the business owner gave up addressing the emails to HH and/or HC and took the matter up with Fort Bragg's City Manager, Linda Ruffing.

The Jan. 19th email to Ms. Ruffing redacts the business owner's name and address. Otherwise, this is the entirety of it:

"My name is __________ My husband and I were born and raised in Fort Bragg, and have a deep love for this unique and special community.

"I have a business located at ______________ in Fort Bragg which shares an alley with the Hospitality House at 237 N. McPherson Street. The City did a beautiful job of putting in this alley, and it should be a pleasant and convenient way to to go to the post office, get a gallon of milk from my neighbors at Purity and say hello to the people receiving services at the Hospitality House.

"Instead, it is full of feces, garbage, urine, loitering, drugs, alcohol and physical fighting among Hospitality Center clients who are waiting for services, creating a dangerous and insanitary environment. It is unsafe for those using services as well as residents and visitors, who are vital to our town's economy. The Hospitality House should provide full time staff monitoring people showing up for sign in and services, just as they provide staff for full time monitoring of the emergency shelter service. At this time, there are no staff monitoring the clients waiting for services in the alley, and this is unsafe for all concerned.

“I am sending over, in separate emails, several letters I have already sent regarding this subject. The situation remains unchanged and I am hopeful that the City of Fort Bragg will help in solving this problem. Please let me know your thoughts on this issue and how we may best address it. I would love to see the alley [behind HH] safe for everyone to walk, drive down and use. I care about my store and community. I have invested time and money and am deeply committed to both.

“Our community has great potential for growth in all areas and I look forward to working together to make our town a great place to live and work.

“Please make sure this email and the others I am sending to you are sent to Fort Bragg City Council.

“Thank you for your consideration and your service to our city.”

When did City Manager Ruffing send the emails to the City Council members? As far as can be ascertained, she waited until February 8th when the agenda for the Feb. 13th city council meeting was made public. In the meantime Ms. Ruffing went around to several of the shop owners in the business district gathering information and very possibly contacted Ms. Johnson of MCHC on more than one occasion. Meanwhile the Fort Bragg City Council members had four to five days, including a weekend, to pursue the topics broached in these emails after Ms. Ruffing received them from the business owner. Certainly Ms. Ruffing is entitled to do as much research on a civic matter as possible, but withholding the emails from the City Council for approximately twenty days leads to ethical questions best left to the citizens of Fort Bragg to raise for themselves.

The very same Hospitality House/Hospitality Center issue will be taken up again by the Fort Bragg City Council's Public Safety Committee (Mayor Peters and Councilman Norvell  will be there) on Wednesday, February 15, at 3 p.m. In Town Hall.

–Malcolm Macdonald

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ANOTHER WEEK OF RAIN starting late Wednesday. Accumulations expected to reach over four more inches. Cool temps most of the time with daytime highs struggling to get above 50.

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OROVILLE RESIDENTS were holding their breath Monday night hoping that releases over the damaged main spillway will lower the lake level enough for it to absorb the next round of rain starting Wednesday night. As of 8 p.m., Lake Oroville's water level was at 901.02 feet -- the lake is 901 feet deep. The water flow over the emergency spillway was ending and taking pressure off of it. "The lower it gets the less pressure there will be," KCRA meteorologist Mark Finan said.

BUT THEY’RE NOT OUT OF THE WOODS. A quick look at the map shows that Lake Oroville is at the center of several watersheds that all drain into the lake. And whether it overflows from the damaged main spillway or the “emergency” dirt spillway that has been eroding, the runoff goes right down the Feather River into central Oroville.

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by Chris Megerian, Bettina Boxall, Melanie Mason and Laura J. Nelson

With more storms expected to slam Northern California later this week, officials worked frantically Monday to drain water from brimming Lake Oroville in hopes of heading off a potentially catastrophic flood.

The operators at America’s tallest dam found themselves in a precarious position Monday, with both of the spillways used to release water compromised and the reservoir still filled almost to capacity after a winter of record rain and snow. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of evacuated residents downstream of the dam still have no clear word when they can return home.

Officials sent millions of gallons of water per minute down the massive reservoir’s main spillway. Engineers said that despite a huge gash that opened in the concrete channel a week ago, it was their best option for lowering the dangerously high lake level.

They hoped this would avert further use of the emergency spillway, where damage was discovered Sunday afternoon.

“It was the lesser of two evils,” state Department of Water Resources spokesman Eric See said Monday. “We didn't want to have more damage, but we needed to evacuate water.”

The emergency spillway suffered severe erosion the day after water cascaded down the unpaved hillside for the first time since the dam opened in 1968.

The damage occurred even though the spillway was designed to handle much more water than the amount that overflowed. Some questioned why officials didn’t heed suggestions more than a decade ago to fortify the emergency spillway.

When it appeared the erosion could quickly worsen Sunday afternoon and potentially undermine the spillway’s concrete lip  — a scenario that could unleash a massive wall of water — officials ordered more than 100,000 people to evacuate the low-lying areas along the Feather River.

Racing against Mother Nature, water resources officials Monday sent water surging down the concrete main spillway -- a move that lowered the lake level by several feet but threatened to widen the gash. Erosion on the main spillway so far was manageable, See said.

“I’ve been doing these flood battles since 1978,” said state Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber). “This is the one with the greatest potential for damage of all the ones I’ve dealt with.”

Both spillways are separate from the Oroville Dam itself, which officials say is not in danger of collapsing.

Officials said they want to lower the lake 50 feet by Wednesday to avoid another overflow on the damaged emergency spillway. If the head of the spillway crumbles, a 30-foot wall of water could go crashing down the hillside into the Feather River and toward Oroville, Marysville and Yuba City.

“Obviously any rain this week is not helpful at all,” said Tom Dang, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Sacramento.

On Monday, geysers of water shot from the placid lake and down the concrete spillway, like a water slide the width of a freeway.

Helicopters flew overhead and dump trucks shuttled across the top of Oroville Dam, carrying loads of rock to fill the eroded section. Without reinforcements, water could creep beneath the lip, causing it to crumble and allowing water to gush over the side.

In a letter Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown asked the Trump administration for a federal disaster declaration, saying the problems were likely to be more than local and state officials can handle.

Brown told reporters that he spoke to a member of the president’s Cabinet on Monday, but declined to say which one. “My office has been in touch with the White House,” Brown said. “I think that will be sufficient.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, meanwhile, sent an eight-person team to the area to help California officials prepare for potential flooding.

“We are trying to plan for the worst-case scenario,” said Ahsha Tribble, acting regional administrator for FEMA’s Region 9, which includes California. “It’s not a wait-and-see game.”

Lake Oroville is the keystone of the State Water Project, which sends Northern California water hundreds of miles south to the southern San Joaquin Valley and the Southland.

During much of the five-year drought, the lake level was far below normal, forcing officials to slash water deliveries. But an extraordinarily wet winter filled the lake so close to capacity that officials have been forced to release water to prevent flooding.

A series of powerful storms Tuesday sent runoff rushing into the reservoir, just as the hole appeared in the main spillway. Managers slowed the release of the water, and on Saturday, Oroville overflowed.

Earth and weak rock near the top of the spillway started to erode, when peak flows were 12,600 cubic feet per second, compared with the designed capacity of 450,000 cubic feet per second, according to the Department of Water Resources. The erosion happened so quickly that officials feared the concrete wall would be undermined and ordered sweeping evacuations in Butte, Yuba and Sutter counties that remained in effect Monday night.

Bill Croyle, the acting director of the Department of Water Resources, said Monday that he was “not sure anything went wrong. This was a new, never-happened-before event."

But during 2005 relicensing proceedings for Oroville Dam, several environmental groups argued that substantial erosion would occur on the hillside in the event of a significant emergency spill. In a filing, they asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to order the state to “to armor or otherwise reconstruct the ungated spillway.”

State Water Project contractors, including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, were involved in the relicensing. MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said Monday his agency deferred to the state and federal agencies on the matter.

“They did look at that issue and they determined that [the existing emergency spillway] did meet the appropriate FERC guidelines,” Kightlinger said. “In the FERC guidelines, they talk about how you don’t put a lot of funding and concrete, etc. into emergency spillways because presumably they will rarely if ever be used.”

“We did not say it was a cost issue,” he added.

Brown, after meeting with advisors at the state’s emergency operations center near Sacramento, was asked by reporters about the concerns raised in 2005 about Oroville’s spillway system.

He said he welcomed calls for more scrutiny. “We’re in a very complex society where things can go wrong,” he said. “When they do, they ripple out and affect hundreds of thousands and in some cases millions of people.”

(The Los Angeles Times)

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NO ONE KNOWS how many hundreds of millions of dollars this foreseeable, avoidable, preventable fiasco will all end up costing taxpayers.

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RECOMMENDED WALKS, Frisco Division: Specifically, turn right at the city end of the Golden Gate Bridge, park any old place in the abundant free lots for the next quarter mile and walk on! You'll soon be treading the bluffs above the ocean, but the more adventurous (and fit) will enjoy the fairly well-maintained trails running parallel to the pavement down below, just above the breakers which, at this time of year, are spectacular. I like to make a big loop from the Bridge and down on to Baker Beach, up the sand stairway from the Beach, on up another set of stairs and sea cypress leading to the overlook on Washington Boulevard. To me, and not to go all woo-woo on you here, this area inspires kaleidoscopic images of the entire history of the state, from the centuries of expeditionary sailors, beginning with the Spaniards, who were oblivious of the great bay hidden by its tiny mouth, as they sailed on by out to sea. sometimes only a few miles offshore. If you take a good long look at the Golden Gate you understand why it remained unexplored for so long even after Sir Francis Drake had lingered just a few miles up the coast at Tomales, where he marveled at both the hospitality and the physical beauty of the Indians. He especially marveled at the strength of the males, noting that one Indian easily carried a sea chest that it took two of his sailors to tote. Fairly early in the twentieth century, after too many ship wrecks, the Marin side of Gate was dynamited to enlarge the passage to the bay. It remains a visible gash. I always feel like a character in one of those corny old movies where a character wakes up from a coma and says, "It all comes back to me now," but it really does, everything from the Russians at Fort Ross to John Sutter, to the Gold Rush, to the waves of immigrants, to the outbound troop ships, many of whose troops never came back. In the summer months, especially at Baker Beach, this walk can be X-Rated. The beach is a gay trysting zone where, ah, outdoor consummations of sudden friendships are not an unusual sight, as is the occasional outdoor hetero boff. Mid-winter is the best time to explore the acres beneath the west side of the Bridge to enjoy the full force of the Pacific as it batters at Frisco's door.

Baker Beach

THE MOST MEMORABLE outdoor exhibitionists I've seen in the area were a youngish couple posted at the foot of the Baker Beach sand stairs in a way that forced persons climbing the stairs to walk around them. They were both nude, and she was fondling his flaccid penis. I wanted to call the Appropriate Police, but I didn't have either a phone or the number.

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COUNTY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT of Education, Warren Galletti, published a long, cancer-causing essay in Sunday's Ukiah Daily Journal apparently intended to reassure the slower members of the local edu-bloc that they were safe from Trump.

WE'VE GOT this theory that falsity, carried to extremes, and cumulatively, especially in persons who deal in it all their stunted lives, shortens one’s lifespan. Read Galletti's op-ed front to back and deduct that time spent from your longevity.

IN IDLE moments at Boonville's beloved weekly, we nominate people for our Insincerity Roster. Scott Simon, the supreme audio ass kisser of all time, sets our standard. So far, a few people have come close but nobody has surpassed Simon. David Muir and Scott Pelley, national newscasters, have been put forward but, phony as they are, they still can't touch Simon. Wolf Blitzer at CNN? Comedians don't count, nor do the chuckle buddies we see on the television news out of Frisco. They'll all die young.

GALLETTI'S DEPRESSING DOCUMENT might get a charity 'C' at a reputable high school, but really, it's a strong argument every which way for a total re-build of public ed which, at this point, resists all reform. Also note that Galletti now has two assistant drones where the last time I checked he had only the hyphenate, Joens-Poulton:

THE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION begins, "I was talking with the Mendocino County Office of Education Associate Superintendent Paul Joens-Poulton and Assistant Superintendent Becky Jeffries about our local educational programs and funding, and we realized that many people do not know how lucky we are to be in California…"

OF COURSE YOU WERE, WARREN. You don't have anything else to do in your big, silent office at the Talmage compound, where perfumed men and women, Moonie-like smiles plastered on their uncomprehending, unevolved pusses, wander around with their coffee cups on expensive flooring, talking about in-services and new paradigms.

I'D REPRINT the whole thing again here if I wasn't afraid of killing someone.

THIS DEAD HORSE has been flogged so many times it's been a mound of glue for at least thirty years. One more time: The Mendocino County Office of Education does not perform a single function that the individual school districts of the County could not do better and cheaper. If Trump accomplishes anything, it is my fervent wish that he not only destroys the pointless federal office of education, and all the state offices of education, but pulls the plug on MCOE as a ceremonial last act.

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FIRE CHIEF Andres Avila told the Fire Department’s Fire Protection Committee last week that when crews responded to a recent medical aid call at Blackbird Farm on January 16 he “found that the road was in terrible shape thanks to some ill-advised grading work.” AV Fire Department also went on a structure fire call to Shenoa Resort (‘The Land’) on January 20 and got good support from residents there. Neighbors said that the fire in the straw bale house was caused by someone soldering a leaky shower head and inadvertently (and unknowingly) starting a smoldering fire in the wall. That fire at Shenoa was difficult to extinguish because it occurred in dense hay bale construction. Shenoa has donated $5,000 to the department.”

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IN JANUARY the Community Services District authorized Fire Chief Andres Avila to begin work on procurement of a new fire engine for Holmes Ranch at a cost not to exceed $320,000 which would be paid for out of several years worth of accumulated apparatus reserves (mostly from strike team reimbursements), and donations from the Volunteer Firefighters Association’s fundraising campaigns. However, this month Avila announced that volunteer firefighter Kris Kellem had come across a used CAL-Office of Emergency Services engine in excellent condition available for $85k. Upgrades for rural firefighting will bring the total cost of the vehicle to around $120k. Avila and his procurement team are now considering using some of the savings for the purchase of a new or used water tender.

COMMUNITY SERVICES BOARD MEMBER Paul Soderman said last week that the rainwater catchment project for the Philo fire station is now fully plumbed and electrical wiring nearly complete. A convict crew did a good job of clearing some overgrown blackberries to make room for two more 3,000-gallon storage tanks, bringing the number of storage tanks to seven. Needless to say, the tanks have been filled by recent rains.

CHIEF AVILA also announced last week that the Department’s long-time mechanic Steve Weir (a retried CalFire mechanic) was planning to also retire from his local duties. The invaluable Weir will be hard to replace. He has been a staple of the fire department for well over a decade, keeping the firefighting equipment in top notch shape without running up costs. A search for a replacement mechanic for the irreplaceable Weir will soon begin.

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “They ever find my namesake over in Fort Bragg? I heard that they did. I prefer to be called L.D., but like the Fort Bragg mutt, my given name is Mojo.”

MENDOCINOSPORTSPLUS took note and answered the question with a re-post of Monday’s Little Dog:

“AVA'S 'Little Dog' Was Checking Out MSP...

A screen-grab from yesterday morning's "Mendocino County Today" in the Anderson Valley Advertiser. This site is a "must read" to start off the day to see what happened around the county... And "Mojo" the lost chihuahua was reunited with his human.”

(Courtesy, MendocinoSportsPlus)

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SMART, Northwestern Pacific reach tentative agreement on gas tanker cars near Sonoma.

(As we noted at the time the dispute arose, it could have been solved easily if Bosco’s railroad had agreed to simple terms that the SMART people asked for right off the bat. Instead we had a pointless, expensive, weeks-long legal dispute that ended up with “Under the terms of the proposed settlement … [NCRA] is [agrees] to disclose manifests that include hazardous materials and to provide that information to first responders and SMART dispatch. The railroad also would agree to not store hazardous materials anywhere along the Highway 101 corridor where passenger service will run.”

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Dear Editor,

"A small group of ingrates are about to sue Mendocino County on a bogus claim essentially arguing that they shouldn't be taxed but claiming the tax initiative statutes that apply to everyone else don't apply to them." ~ Editor, AVA

As one of the "ingrates" I take issue with everything you said to wrongly characterize our challenge to the county.

First, last week you refused to print my article that explained our thinking and what led up to our decision to challenge the county's unconstitutional claim that the Cannabis Tax Act (AI) passed.

May I ask that you reconsider and print it now, perhaps on the website, so that readers can have more information to judge whether your biased characterization is correct? It was a very unfair act of censorship unworthy of AVA, which generally engages in debate rather than censoring points of view you disagree with.

Second, your incorrect comments (AVA 2-8-17) about our lawsuit against the county's pretense that AI passed biased the reader off the bat. You distorted the meaning of our challenge with the comment, "A small group of ingrates are...essentially arguing that they shouldn't be taxed but claiming the tax initiative statutes that apply to everyone else don't apply to them."

We are arguing no such thing. Our lawsuit has nothing to do with paying taxes. By now, that is an accepted part of the 'new era', which we are a part of, for better and for worse.

We are stepping up to say something wrong is happening here. We're asking the Court: Is Cannabis Tax Act a special tax, requiring a super-majority of 66 2/3% for voter approval, or a general tax requiring a bare majority? We need a court ruling.

If it's a special tax, it failed. We should all be concerned about this and get it right the first time. It will eventually go to the ballot in virtually every city and county in the state with similar tax guidelines as ones determined here.

California Constitution Article XIIIC outlines the distinction between specific and general funding purposes and defines "special tax" as "any tax imposed for specific purposes which is placed into a general fund." That nails it on AI.

We believe it is clear that AI is a special tax containing specific funding purposes, as outlined in the Voter Handbook by author and Supervisor John McCowen, Sup Gjerde, as well as County Counsel: road repairs, mental health services, fire and emergency medical services, marijuana enforcement (criminal/illegal activity).

In the words of Sup McCowen: "A YES vote on AJ will tell the BOS you want a majority of proceeds of the 'Marijuana Tax' to be spent for marijuana enforcement, mental health services, county road repair, fire and emergency medical services."

It is clear in the ballot arguments that AI and AJ are paired by design with intent to use AJ as the funding mechanism for AI, with specifics listed. Four supervisors who submitting separate ballot arguments coupled them as intended.

We are not against cannabis businesses being taxed. We are against the County claiming the Cannabis Tax Act passed when it actually failed. AI got 63.62% of the vote, roughly 3% short of the needed 66 2/3% for a special tax to pass. The County's claim that it is a general tax and only needs a majority is belied by the measure's author in his own words in the most authoritative source, the 2016 Mendocino County Voter Handbook.

There is a genuine controversy here -- Whether the Cannabis Tax Act is a special tax or a general tax will determine whether it passed or not. So we're asking the Court to determine which it is.

The Complaint for Declaratory Relief asks the Court for a Declaration on definitions based on California Constitutional principles. If Injunctive Relief is also needed, that can be handled in a separate complaint. Lawrence Rosen has agreed to represent the plaintiffs, as needed, including on appeal.

Plaintiffs: Michael Johnson, Pebbles Trippet, Teri Johnson, Paula Deeter, Ron Edwards, Ralf Laguna, Noel Manners

Defendant: Mendocino County

Attorney for Plaintiffs:

Lawrence Rosen 707-478-8932

Pebbles Trippet, co-plaintiff

Johnson v Mendocino County

ED NOTE: You missed our deadline, Pebs, as you habitually do. As extremely uptight white boys, we work on schedules. No offense intended, but we can't help but have noted, after years here at ground zero stoner heaven, Mendocino County, that habitual users of the magic herb DON'T GET ANYTHING DONE ON TIME!

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IF THE MENDOCINO CARDINALS WIN 2 GAMES - They'll Be NCL Division III Champ. They Travel To Point Arena Today For 'Must Win' Game

It's all come down to this - Mendocino has to win today in Point Arena and tomorrow in Mendocino (against Laytonville) to become league champs. It's that simple.

They defeated the Pirates February 5th in Mendo 61-44 (for the eighth straight time going back to Jan 9, 2015) but they always play Mendo tough in Point Arena.

Laytonville nipped Mendo in overtime 52-49 (snapping a 7-game losing streak vs the Cards) but haven't been playing well of late - they lost to Anderson Valley (who Mendocino swept this season) last week, then escaped from Round Valley Friday night with a two-point victory - Mendo easily beat the Mustangs 82-65 last Tuesday.

Point Arena helped Mendocino by upsetting Laytonville the second time they played them thus setting up the climactic last week of the season.

Point Arena has a grueling schedule this week - Mendo at home tonight and then they travel to Anderson Valley Tuesday, travel to Covelo Wednesday than then host a makeup game with Anderson Valley Thursday.

Laytonville only has one game after they play Mendo - against Calistoga

The mind whirls at what could transpire this last week of league play if Mendo is upset in their back-to-back games.

Mendo finishes their season Thursday night at home with a "Seniors Night" game against winless Potter Valley.

Box Score from last Point Arena game:

Mendocino 14 12 20 15 = 61

Point Arena 14 11 06 13 = 44

(Courtesy, MendocinoSportsPlus)

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CATCH OF THE DAY, February 13, 2017

(Monday’s Booking Log contained only one entry for Feb. 13:


LLUAN FUENTES, Ukiah. Community Supervision violation.

(Perhaps Mr. Fuentes’ hatchet-style mohawk broke the booking camera.)

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by Paul Krassner

The Los Angeles Times obituary of the unique comedian Irwin Corey stated, “Over a career that spanned more than 70 years, Corey performed in vaudeville, radio, television, films, Broadway, nightclubs and Las Vegas showrooms.”

In 1983, I was fortunate to be booked as the opening act for Corey in a four-day run at the Julia Morgan Theater in Berkeley. He revealed his dark side in a room backstage, where we smoked a joint, and he told me how he used to read Nazi hate literature to get him in the mood to perform. And there was a certain sense of continuity on his deathbed. The night before he died, Corey said to a close friend, James Drougas, “Trump will be assassinated soon.”

“Professor” Corey also had a humanitarian streak. In 1996, in my magazine, The Realist, I published a photo of him, from a video by his son Richard, presenting Fidel Castro a bag of California-grown pistachio nuts (Castro said, “California, hmmmm, good climate there for nuts”), a book on the Rosenberg controversy, and a credit-card-size calculator (Castro said, “I’ll have to use my little pinky to push the buttons”). Dave Channon reported that Corey went there on a diplomatic mission to lift the embargo on health supplies to Cuba, and he visited a hospital that was providing sophisticated treatment for the survivors of Chernobyl. Cuba provided health care for more radiation victims than than did the US.

(Paul Krassner is the editor of The Realist.)

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Which brings up another PC disallowed observation: The neurosis (grandiose paranoia, really) of the so called Women’s March on Washington was highlighted by inclusion of Muslim women wearing traditional Muslim garb, the hijab and other aspects of ancient pre-sewing machine desert trappings from the 8th Century. Though the most prominently visible symptom of the hysteria that has become the “women’s movement” of this generation, it was only the icing on a Neapolitan layer cake of zaniness, from the “no national borders or immigration laws” crowd, down to “white people should be bred out of existence” faction, on down to “non-binary sex” proponents. Shame on them all, but most particularly the Muslim women for deceitfully utilizing freedoms here that are nearly universally disallowed wherever Muslims dominate (now even in districts of European cities). That the Muslim women didn’t use the occasion of the march to rip off their traditional garments in protest against how the Muslim faith institutionally sanctions overt oppression of women simply shows how fearfully obedient are Muslim women even in our nation.

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by James Kunstler

Don’t be fooled by the idiotic exertions of the Red team and the Blue team. They’re just playing a game of “Capture the Flag” on the deck of the Titanic. The ship is the techno-industrial economy. It’s going down because it has taken on too much water (debt), and the bilge pump (the oil industry) is losing its mojo.

Neither faction understands what is happening, though they each have an elaborate delusional narrative to spin in the absence of any credible plan for adapting the life of our nation to the precipitating realities. The Blues and Reds are mirrors of each other’s illusions, and rage follows when illusions die, so watch out. Both factions are ready to blow up the country before they come to terms with what is coming down.

What’s coming down is the fruit of the gross mismanagement of our society since it became clear in the 1970s that we couldn’t keep living the way we do indefinitely — that is, in a 24/7 blue-light-special demolition derby. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with accounting fraud, but in the end it is an affront to reality, and reality has a way of dealing with punks like us. Reality has a magic trick of its own: it can make the mirage of false prosperity evaporate.

That’s exactly what’s going to happen and it will happen because finance is the least grounded, most abstract, of the many systems we depend on. It runs on the sheer faith that parties can trust each other to meet obligations. When that conceit crumbles, and banks can’t trust other banks, credit relations seize up, money vanishes, and stuff stops working. You can’t get any cash out of the ATM. The trucker with a load of avocados won’t make delivery to the supermarket because he knows he won’t be paid. The avocado grower will have to watch the rest of his crop rot. The supermarket shelves empty out. And you won’t have any guacamole.

There are too many fault lines in the mighty edifice of our accounting fraud for the global banking system to keep limping along, to keep pretending it can meet its obligations.

These fault lines run through the bond markets, the stock markets, the banks themselves at all levels, the government offices that pretend to regulate spending, the offices that affect to report economic data, the offices that neglect to regulate criminal misconduct, the corporate boards and C-suites, the insurance companies, the pension funds, the guarantors of mortgages, car loans, and college loans, and the ratings agencies. The pervasive accounting fraud bleeds a criminal ethic into formerly legitimate enterprises like medicine and higher education, which become mere rackets, extracting maximum profits while skimping on delivery of the goods.

All this is going to overwhelm Trump soon, and he will flounder trying to deal with a gargantuan mess. It will surely derail his wish to make America great again — a la 1962, with factories humming, and highways yet to build, and adventures in outer space, and a comforting sense of superiority over all the sad old battered empires abroad.

I maintain it could get so bad so fast that Trump will be removed by a cadre of generals and intelligence officers who can’t stand to watch someone acting like Captain Queeg in the pilot house.

That itself might be salutary, since only some kind of extreme shock is likely to roust the Blue and Red factions from their trenches of dumb narrative. If the Democratic Party had put one-fiftieth of the effort it squanders on transgender bathroom privileges into policy for mitigating our tragic misinvestments in suburban sprawl, we might have gotten a head-start toward a plausible future. Instead, the Democratic Party has turned into a brats-only nursery school, with the kiddies fighting over who gets to play with the Legos. The Republican Party is Norma Desmond’s house in Sunset Boulevard, starring Donald Trump as Max the Butler, working extra-hard to keep the illusions of yesteryear going.

All of this nonsense is a distraction from the task at hand: figuring out how to live in the post techno-industrial world. That world is not going to operate the ways we’re used to. It will crush our assumptions and expectations. Lying about everything won’t be an option. We won’t have the extra resources to cover up our dishonesty. Our money better be sound or it will be laughed at, and then you’ll starve or freeze to death. You’d better hope the rule of law endures and work on keeping it alive where you live. And nobody will get special brownie points for the glory of sexual confusion.

I look for the financial fireworks to start around March-April, as the irresolvable debt ceiling debate in Congress grinds into a bitter stalemate, and it becomes obvious that there will be no voucher for the great infrastructure spending orgy that Trump’s MAGA is based on.

Elections in France and the Netherlands have the potential to shake apart the European Union, and with that the footing of European banks. Pretty soon, everybody in all parties and factions will be asking: “Where did the glittering promises of Modernity go…?” As we slip-side into the first stages of a world made by hand.

(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page:

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Democratic Club Meeting Feb 15th in Ft Bragg.

Resist the Trumplicans! All welcome. Moving Forward 2017 Indivisible!

All are welcome to join us Wednesday, February 15th Harbor Lite Meeting Room 120 N. Harbor Dr, Fort Bragg 5:30 pm

Join the Coast Democratic Club for a planning session to resist the Trump agenda threatening our country and community. Bring appetizers and ideas to share about these concerns and others: Ocean Protection/Environment, Equal Pay/Minimum wage, Protection for our undocumented citizens/Citizenship/Human Rights, Free and Fair Public Education, Rural Community Healthcare, Access Rights/Voting Procedures...

More information from Karen Bowers

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The Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project (RVOEP) is excited to again host a tour of award-winning films from the International Wildlife Film Festival (IWFF) in Missoula, Montana. Beginning February 24, the series will run for five consecutive Friday evenings at the Ukiah Civic Center, 300 Seminary Avenue. Doors will open at 6:15 with live music, snacks, and a time to socialize. Films begin screening at 7 p.m. This year we have worked hard to select films that give us a sense of hope at a time when many of earth’s ecosystems are in peril, says Steve Prochter, chair of the selection committee. The first film, Earth — A New Wild: Home, investigates our changing relationship with the wilderness by focusing on powerful stories that demonstrate how animals and humans can thrive side by side. Nature lovers of all ages will enjoy Flight of the Butterflies, a beautiful Canadian film that traces the life cycle and migration route of monarch butterflies and received the top award at the IWFF.Series ticket holders can look forward to seeing a wide variety of wildlife and visiting extraordinary habitats that span the planet. A full schedule of films and music is available at the RVOEP website:

Tickets are available at Mendocino Book Company or at the door. A series ticket for all five nights is $45. Single tickets are a $10 suggested donation for adults and $5 for children. Films are appropriate for older children. Proceeds from the film festival will benefit the Redwood Valley Outdoor Education Project. The RVOEP is a special program of the Ukiah Unified School District that provides outdoor environmental education programs to over 2,000 students each year on a 45-acre woodland in Redwood Valley.

For more information contact Maureen Taylor, RVOEP Education Coordinator, at 707-489-0227.

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by Manuel Vicent (translated by Louis S. Bedrock)

The ancestors of Virginia Woolf were merchants and smugglers, people of iron; people of distant Irish lineage, with reddish freckles on their rugged forearms. One of them, a fellow named William Stephens, made a huge fortune in the Antilles at the end of the eighteenth century. He would buy sick slaves at a bargain price, cure them, and resell them at a good price when they were healthy.

Thanks to this pious detail, one of his descendants, Leslie Stephen could be an honorable man one hundred years later: a critic, a historian with a great reputation, and the father of four renown children: Vanessa, a postimpressionist painter; Adrian, a doctor; Virginia, a writer; and Thoby, who despite dying young of typhus, still had time to found, with some of his friends at the university, an esoteric society called The Apostles of Cambridge, which would later be known as The Bloomsbury Group.

Who would not want to have a slave trader in the family tree and inherit his money — laundered over the course of several generations, in order to be a rich and entertaining snob, aesthetically wicked, and to be admitted to an intellectual aristocracy after passing through Trinity College?

Julia Duckworth, Leslie Stephen’s second wife, brought three children from her prior marriage to the family: George, Stella, and Gerald. Siblings and step-siblings, together with their deranged friends from Cambridge, formed an eccentric, neurotic, and promiscuous brood from which Freud could have brought to light traumas with a shovel.

It was a matter of demonstrating who among them would go the furthest. Virginia, whom everyone called “The Goat,” was the winner. This nickname displayed remarkable insight until it drowned definitively in the River Ouse.

Her parents had died early and these blows of destiny spawned a fog, very close to madness, in the brain of the adolescent Virginia. Her primary goal seemed to be escaping from this filthy world and she attempted to do so with an almost mystical rhythm: one time she threw herself out of a window; on another occasion she took five grams of barbiturates during a lavish outdoor breakfast.

The family abandoned the old mansion in Kensington in order to burn the past, but the ghosts followed the children to the new house at 46 Gordon Square, in the neighborhood of Bloomsbury. Bloomsbury would become famous because of the Thursday night tertulias run by the exotic friends of Thoby from Cambridge — each one more modern, frivolous, and inane.

They hunted Lepidoptera in the gardens of their country houses wearing diaphanous clothing and sporting soft hats; they traveled to Greece and to Constantinople with their many trunks lined with canvas, and there they reconciled the vision of Phidias or the Blue Mosque with their contemplation of ragged children, which permitted them to be at once aesthetes and elegantly compassionate beings. Later, back at Gordon Square, beneath chocolate-flavored pipe smoke, they argued about psychoanalysis, quantum physics, the Fabian Society, the new economics, and about Cézanne, Gaugin, and Picasso.

These creatures seemed happy in a path somewhere between intelligence and neurosis, in a tortuous plot of crossed relationships, beyond good and evil; however, their butter colored fabrics covered the same base passions shared by all mortals. Ultimately, all their philosophy would be reduced to having house parties and wearing costumes of sultans.

While the members of the group hunted butterflies, enjoyed the languid life in white hammocks in the meadows of Asham, at Monk’s House, or on the beach, George wound up raping his sister-in-law while she was still a teenager and from that moment on she couldn’t reconcile herself with sex.

The migraine headaches and the nervous breakdowns quickly blended with the hysteria of precocious and always thwarted infatuations that the apprentice writer described in her intimate diary — along with her impressions of excursions, landscapes, and the people who surrounded her.

In the house at 46 Gordon Square, the philosophers Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein, the art critic Clive Bell — who would marry Virginia’s sister Vanessa, the economist John Maynard Keynes, the writer Gerald Brenan, the novelist E. M. Forster, the writer Katherine Mansfield, and the painters Dora Carrington and Duncan Grant would come and go.

Some — the most talented, would disperse promptly. Ultimately the Bloomsbury group ended up as a bunch of mediocrities who owed their posterity to the genius of Virginia Woolf when her novels were accepted by the public and the critics finally admitted that this writer had revolutionized the art of narration.

She never had the opportunities that were given to male offspring. Since women were excluded from the university, Virginia studied Greek and Latin on her own at home; she consumed the family library; she married Leonard Woolf, a member of the group, who also was a writer. For their honeymoon in Spain, she drank goat’s milk and experienced the poverty of the South in slow, filthy trains, or the rugged terrain in the mountainous regions of Malaga on the back of a mule, in search of their old friend Gerald Brenan.

Her husband accepted it without any reaction when she informed him that Edward VII was watching her from the azaleas or that the birds were singing in Greek. Never has there been a man so patient and so loving with a neurotic whose literary talent ran ahead of her madness. Leonard would take her to the country or to the mental hospital in step with the tides of her mental state; he even founded an elite printing house, The Hogarth Press, to print and hand-bind her own books as well as those of T. S. Eliot, Freud, and Katherine Mansfield. And in photographs he is always by her side, smiling and full of admiration.

At that time of Victorian morality, to wear men’s pants, to be a suffragist, to smoke Egyptian cigarettes in public, to be a lady of high society and give talks at a workers’ circle, and to fall in love with a friend, the poet Vita Sackville West, the wife of a lord, and to live with her in a lesbian relationship were not aesthetic games like the ones her friends played, but rather a way to break the iron dog collar that was suffocating her: an attitude that converted her into a banner for feminism.

Surrounded by nurses and maids, suitcases for voyages and return journeys, by parties and guests, Virginia Woolf began to forge a fractured literature which would become a stream of consciousness.

In this sense, she was ahead of Joyce at the moment of experimenting with interior monologue, a form of regurgitating thoughts like a ruminant.

Virginia Woolf was the first to hear superimposed voices, the same voices that affected her mind and led her to the clarity of the sun amidst the fog.  In the end, this had an impact on her and she allowed herself the luxury of suicide. This time she couldn’t fail.

It happened the 29 of March in 1941, in Sussex. She filled her pockets with stones and waded into the Ouse River until she was underwater. Some children found her body fifteen days later.

* * *


The look of love
Is in your eyes
A look your smile
Can't disguise

The look of love
Is saying so much more
Than words could ever say
And what my heart has heard
Well it takes my breath away

I can hardly wait to hold you
Feel my arms around you
How long I have waited
Waited just to love you
Now that I have found you

The look of love
Is on your face
A look that time
Can't erase

Be mine tonight
Let this be just the start
Of so many nights like this
Let's take a lover's vow
And seal it with a kiss

I can hardly wait to hold you
Feel my arms around you
How long I have waited
Waited just to love you
Now that I have found you

Don't ever go
Don't ever go
I love you so

–Hal David (words) and Burt Bacharach (music)


  1. LouisBedrock February 14, 2017

    Poem for February 14

    “For love it is pleasin’ and love is teasin’
    And love is a treasure when first it’s new.
    But as love grows older, then love grows colder
    And it fades away like the morning dew.”

    “Love is Teasin”
    Sung by Marianne Faithfull and The Chieftains.
    Written by Jean Ritchie

  2. Harvey Reading February 14, 2017

    “Supermajority” = minority rule.

  3. Alice Chouteau February 14, 2017

    One possible way to discourage the criminal element among the homeless group, is to require HC and HH to run criminal background checks on everyone coming here for food, shelter, and other free services. If this is standard procedure, it is not discriminatory. The Eureka Police Chief state on the record, that 87% of the homeless there were documented as criminals. So the EPD must be running checks. CHP runs such checks constantly on drivers. This would do a great deal to bolster public safety, for the residents, biz people, and transients too.

  4. Jim Updegraff February 14, 2017

    It is time for the boys of spring. The pitchers and catchers are arriving in their training camps in Arizona. Hopes that the A’s will improve this year and the Giants will fill the gaps.

    Football is over and the players are checking with their doctors to see how much brain damage they suffered this year.

    Grown men in their underwear continue to chase a ball up and down a hardwood court as the NBA moves towards the play offs.

    In hockey the season continues and the players continues to bash each other with their hockey sticks.

  5. Jim Updegraff February 14, 2017

    BBGrace: What is a Freethinker?

    Free-thinker-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief.

    • BB Grace February 14, 2017

      I would agree with that Mr. Updegraff, though I think there are better definitions:

      (I have a thing for the American Heritage Dictionary) freethinker n. One who has rejected authority and dogma, especially in his religious thinking, in favor of rational inquiry and speculation. -The American Heritage

      I would also go so far as to say that to be a free thinker and not just a MSM stinker (Happy Valentines’ Day Jimmy) One should know the subject one is rejecting to enable rational inquiry and speculation.

      I find the basket of deplorables free thinkers who reject the UN globalism, MSM. I haven’t seen much free thinking on the left since 1840s.

      • james marmon February 14, 2017

        “What makes a freethinker is not his beliefs but the way in which he holds them. If he holds them because his elders told him they were true when he was young, or if he holds them because if he did not he would be unhappy, his thought is not free; but if he holds them because, after careful thought he finds a balance of evidence in their favour, then his thought is free, however odd his conclusions may seem.”

        — Bertrand Russell, The Value of Free Thought. How to Become a Truth-Seeker and Break the Chains of Mental Slavery-

        James Marmon MSW
        Personal Growth Consultant.

        “don’t just go through it, grow through it”

  6. sohumlily February 14, 2017

    Poor Rex. :(

    Best wishes to him and his pup.

    • sohumlily February 14, 2017


      On first pass, I guess I missed Rex’s sad account.

      Deepest sympathy and much respect for your humility, a very rare trait these days. Riding the waves with grace, you are.

  7. chuck dunbar February 14, 2017

    “It is sad awful, and it does happen all the time. Most of us have to overcome. Of course I am very sad about Olive. Stricken. But so also are millions of us stricken. We should think about that. Maybe you do.”

    Thank you, Rex G., for the story of your losses, your beloved Olive and your old boat/home. And thank you for these wise and compassionate words, moving beyond your own losses to the whole wide world where there is so much sadness, loss, tragedy–always, on and on. And, yes, march on…

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