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Mendocino County Today: Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017

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CHP UPDATES (1:08 am, 02/19/17)

  • Highway 20 at 53 completely open.
  • Per Cal-Trans: Highway 20 at Highway 16 now open to one way traffic w/fire escort.

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by Michael Koepf

Early January. Big storm, lots of rain; the electricity goes off for four days. I'm not home. I'm traveling. I return a few days later and there it is: the long puddle of putrid water emanating from the bottom of the refrigerator.

Many people who live in the woodsy, rural areas of northern California have seen this puddle before. We know the drill. Mop up the water; open the freezer and refrigeration compartment and get your butt to work. Later, it's all wiped down with Clorox.

What was my damage this time? Eight packages of Costco chicken; blanched and frozen vegetables from last year's garden; steaks and pork chops; a pack of Italian sausage; something weird and yellowish in a plastic container that may have been there for years. But most importantly, the tuna and salmon I'd stashed away. I buy the fish off the docks from fishermen selling it fresh from their boats. There were salmon steaks and albacore fillets, all laboriously vacuumed packed: two-dozen packages or more.

After the lights went out, it was now a total waste. I cut everything out of their packages. Into buckets it went. I didn't toss it in the compost, because it's much too close to the house. A black bear knows where I live. It may have taken days to finish his meal. Then what? Hang around for another bite? I put the tasty morsels in my truck and dumped them a mile away. If the garbage police are looking for evidence to lock me up for littering, the raccoons and skunks have eaten evidence.

I was saddened by my loss. The bill for the raccoon dinner added up to $300 or more. Seeking compensation, I complained to PG&E. Here ís the answer I got.

"Thank you for your patience while we investigated your claim. The cause of the outage was a tree which [sic] fell onto PG&E facilities due to the server [sic] storm which [sic] struck the region. PG&E does not insure its customers against losses arising out of circumstances beyond our reasonable control."

PG&E used to compensate for food losses due to long periods without electricity. I recall when neighbors and myself received a $100 check for losses sustained. Of course, that was long ago before PG&E was caught up in millions of dollars of fines and lawsuits resulting from the San Bruno pipeline disaster of 2010 when eight PG&E customers were burnt to a crisp “arising out of circumstances beyond our reasonable control.” I guess the power monopoly is low on money. That's why they keep raising our rates while their profits zoom to the sky.

The PG&E power line that serves hundreds of customers scattered along the ridge where I live runs parallel to my property. Over the years, I've watched PG&E's vegetative clearance that keeps trees and branches from fouling the lines. They've hired various private companies to keep the power lines cleared. When I first built my house, three guys in a pickup showed up. The pickup door read Sonner Tree Services, if I remember it right. The foreman was a muscular Mexican-American. One guy was thin and nimble, the other was a tall man, a former logger and biker who rode with the Gypsy Jokers. They had various chainsaws and climbing gear, and as soon as they arrived they went immediately to work; their foreman was a hard-ass guy. However, he led by example, working as hard as he ruled.

Beneath and along the power line, these guys took everything down to earth. Tick brush, fir and tan oak; if it was green it was going down. They pulled the slash into piles. They cut the hardwood into four-foot sections, piled it up, and left the wood for those in need of fire wood. After that, they climbed the big trees next to the wires to remove overhanging branches that could have fallen or shorted the wires. When they finished, there was virtual roadway under the lines. It was so clean of vegetation that it created a firebreak that could have stopped a forest fire.

In the winter they returned and burned the piles of slash. They did a fantastic job. After Sonner left, Davey Tree Service came in for the work. They had more employees and equipment, but they did a decent job, reinforcing what happened before, clearing everything under and over the lines. Of course, there were outages during these times, but are there more outages now?

After Davey Tree everything changed.

One day a strange looking fellow came walking out of the woods onto my property. He wore a pith helmet. He was attired in an orange vest with many pockets containing pencils and rolls of multi-colored tape. There were dual canisters of spray paint in scabbards on his belt, and he held some kind of computerized clipboard in his hand. He looked like a cross between an old-fashioned African explorer and a crossing guard for school kids.

I asked him what he was doing. He said he was marking and taping trees for PG&E to clear vegetation away from their power lines. As best I can recall, he wasn't employed by PG&E. He was employed by some kind of environmental company. One thing I clearly remember about our conversation was that he told me that in the future there would be no need for power lines. No need for harming and removing vegetation. In the future power would be distributed wireless through the air by some kind of process or principle discovered by Nikola Tesla.


A couple of weeks later, another guy shows up out of the woods. He's older. No orange vest; no tape; no spray cans. His job? He checks on the markings of the first guy out of the woods — Tesla man with the pith helmet. The second guy was forthcoming. He too worked for an environmental company. Whether the same or different company from Tesla man, I don't recall.

What's the difference? It's all about green companies chasing the lucrative green. He told me that there were lots of new rules concerning clearing vegetation beneath PG&E power lines. We chatted for some time, and when I offered an opinion that since most environmentalists create nothing, and since their parents pay tons of money for their education, the State of California, in all its liberal wisdom, must find some way for them to eat. Regulations are their food. I'm sure he thought he'd met another oddball in the woods, but since he was an older guy and probably once had a real job, he didn't disagree.

Then the clearing began.

Some weeks later, I heard chainsaws down along the power line. They'd start up for a minute or two, cease for a bit and then begin again, also for a short time. I walked down to check it out. Three guys were clearing vegetation beneath the lines. But not like old Sonner or Davey Tree where the buzz of saws went on all day. These guys were the manicurists of vegetation, a little here and a little there, but mainly very little. Guided by the spray dots and hanging tapes Tesla man had placed, they were removing selected pieces of vegetation like a hair stylist manages hair.

One guy was up in a tree, a tanoak not more than six inches at the butt. He was harnessed in climbing gear and was using his chainsaw to lop about three feet off the top of the tree. Three feet! I wondered why the slender tree didn't bend and lower his ass to the ground. What he was doing took some time. The guys from Sonner would have sawed the tree off at the ground in ten seconds and moved on to the next.

Another man who I observed had a long pole used for lopping branches. He was taking the tops off of tick brush that was growing towards the wires. Ditto for some tiny firs. It was haircut time beneath wires.

After these fellows left, did they think the tick brush would cease to grow or that the sapling fir wouldn’t extend a branch to keep growing towards the clouds? Within minutes, they could have easily dropped it all.

I'd learned from the second man out of the woods, the one who checked on the first, that the men I was observing did not climb trees to address the overhanging branches. That was a job for a union man, special training and all. I'd learned from the biker with Sonner that they didn't need to be in a union to climb and limb trees. They had one essential rule: stay four feet from any active power line. Inside of that, electrocution was their fate. How much training did they need?

This Sisyphean process that I observed that first morning when I heard the sporadic buzzing of the chainsaws has continued on for years. The little haircuts never cease. Worse, the cuttings are left haphazard where they fall. There are now solid mattings of dry, dead brush beneath the lines — perfect roads for forest fires.

The letter I received from PG&E also stated that they could not guarantee continuity of electric service due to inevitable accidents of nature. I think that people who live in rural settings know more about acts of nature than most. Isn't nature why we're here?

Not all accidents are inevitable. Take San Bruno as an example. Take our overgrown power lines for instance. If the vegetation were properly cleared with rules of common sense, there would be a lot more light in our lives. And, there'd be no more stink on my floor.

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An 82-year-old Ukiah woman was found living in her residence without food, water or power last week, the Ukiah Police Department reported.

According to the UPD, officers responded to a mobile home park in the 400 block of East Gobbi Street around 3 p.m. Feb. 9 when assistance was requested with a welfare check on a resident there.

According to Adult Protective Services, neighbors had reported not seeing the woman lately and being concerned for her wellbeing.

When an officer entered the mobile home, he reportedly found an 82-year-old woman who was “unable to walk unassisted.” There was also no food in the house, and the water and electricity had been shut off.

The woman was deemed “gravely disabled,” and since no known relatives could be contacted, a Mental Health caseworker responded to help care for the woman.

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HOMELESS IN WILLITS? A reader comments:

"Yes. Fewer 'regulars' visible on the street lately for whatever reason, maybe right now, just a very wet winter, but even over the last couple of years there seems to be fewer visible. (This is not counting the trimmigrants, who of course are here only for a while). There are hoboes camping outside, along the RR tracks and behind the skate park. But they get rousted out before the creek cleanups every year, and maybe more often. We do still see quite a few calls about 'illegal campers' in the police log. There are definitely people who aren’t street people who are homeless in the Willits area, too, as per Willits Community Services. We should have some data from the point in time (“homeless”) count.

One thing for sure: if Willits is still 'cranktown' it’s a whole hell of a lot more hidden than ever before. So much rarer to see obvious tweakers roaming the streets. Changes in law affecting availability of ingredients seems to have helped vanish/vanquish some of the small scale dealers/users. Higher rents in the area, maybe, too?"

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INFORMED LOCAL political opinion — one of maybe twenty people in the county who pay attention to local matters on a regular basis — doesn't think former Third District supervisor, John Pinches will be appointed by the Governor to finish out Tom Woodhouse's term:

"I THINK that the Supervisors endorsing him was the death knell, frankly. The whole point of having the governor endorse, instead of having fellow board members appoint (as is done on, say, a school board) is so that the other members of BOS do not get to decide based on their agendas, as opposed to the voters of the district. So having non-3rd district politicians, and a non-3rd district newspaper (the Ukiah Daily Journal editorialized for Pinches) endorse is not helpful to the person they have endorsed, as I understand it.

And the argument regarding how it’s 'fair' because Pinches won’t run again I understand that the Governor's appointment office has told reporters that Brown does not appoint placeholders."

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LITTLE DOG SAYS, “The boss complains a lot. This morning he told me a cat lady from Mendocino wrote him a single-spaced denunciation about something he said about the Animal Shelter. I told him, ‘There, there, boss. Everyone knows cat ladies are nuts’."

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THERE ARE BIG TIME literary names who cause my eyeballs to ricochet clear off the page and out of the room — Thomas Mann; Kafka; Virginia Woolf, Beckett. But no name makes me run faster than John Ashbery, the alleged poet, whom I've long suspected is some kind of high end faculty fiction, not an actual person.

HERE'S his latest poem in The New Yorker. Yeah, yeah, it's poetry, and I concede my low brow, but I defy anyone to write a simple, understandable prose translation, like you can with any Frost poem, say:



Listen to it the way everybody
here was naughty today,
of how broad it is.

Foreign man with an affluent cigar,
he used to live on top of this bed
on the local rails he was so proud of
among the recyclables, this morning,
spouting words that I thought were other.
Yes, and they became addictive. Oh,

make me a boy again! Do something!
But the little candle just stood there,
reflected in its lozenge-shaped mirror.
Maybe that was "something,"
a lithe sentence.

He's only going to do it for the first time.
It's snowing hard.

Hand me the orange.


PRETENTIOUS, deliberately obscure English department bullshit.

BUT IT'S INSPIRED ME to try my hand at deliberately obscure English department bullshit.



by Bruce Anderson, after John Ashbery with no apology

Listen to it like it makes no sense
because it doesn't,
and lacks even so much
as an affecting image.

I knew a guy who lived at the landfill.
Because he worked there,
and wanted to save commute time
from God's pocket, curled up in the fine lint.
Smoked expensive cigars out of his wife's ear
and drank old cognac from a bee's bonnet.
He was union, you see.

Make me a boy again! But not for more than a minute
or the phone book and the washing machine
will bounce off
my dear old granny's bald head
like cilantro off a cell phone tower.

It's raining.
The sun was out earlier.
Hand me the gun.
No, not that one.
The one that kills New Yorker poetry
and most of its fiction, too.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, February 18, 2017

Amador, Donovan, Finger, Ford

AGUSTIN AMADOR, Willits. Probation revocation.

DYLAN DONOVAN JR., Gualala. Controlled substance, paraphernalia, probation revocation.

GEOFF FINGER, Willits. Drunk in public, probation revocation.

AARON FORD, Clearlake/Ukiah. DUI.

Harris, Langenderfer, Mejia

KEVIN HARRIS, Ukiah. Dirk-dagger.

BRANDON LANGENDERFER, Laytonville. Probation revocation.

VICKIE MEJIA, Eureka/Ukiah. Petty theft, receiving stolen property, probation revocation.

Sheddan, Shivalia, Thornton

SUSAN SHEDDAN, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

ITURI SHIVALIA, Willits. Battery of peace officer, competency status.

RICHARD THORNTON, Ukiah. Drunk in public.

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Three Scotia Homes in Escrow and More to Follow, as the Historic Pacific Lumber Company Town Begins to Transfer Itself to the Citizenry

by Hank Sims

212 Mill Street (left) and 360 Eddy Street. Two of the “hot homes” listed on, the website set up to move property in the former company town.

Today comes word that the final stage in transforming Scotia — one of the nation’s last operating company towns — is underway.

Three of the town’s 270 or so single-family homes are currently in escrow with private purchasers, according to the legal entity that has managed the properties since 2008, when the remains of the once-mighty Pacific Lumber Company — which owned and operated Scotia for more than 100 years — were parceled out in bankruptcy proceedings.

Since that time, Town of Scotia LLC — a holding firm set up by creditors to manage the town’s real estate — has been working with county government and other regulators in the enormously complicated process of subdividing the large parcels on which the town’s homes sit, and setting up a community services district to manage water, sewage, fire and recreational services for the new property owners.

A key milestone was reached yesterday, according to Town of Scotia — the Scotia Community Services District came to an agreement on future water and sewage rates. That trigger sent the first three home sales into escrow, with more to follow soon.

For most of its life, Scotia was occupied completely by employees of the Pacific Lumber Company, many of whom worked in the massive old-growth redwood sawmills on one edge of the town. Rents were low, and services were free. Its cogeneration plant burned the mills’ wood waste and delivered both electricity and radiator steam to every corner of the village.

Its halcyon days inevitably wound down when Pacific Lumber was acquired by the Texas-based junk bond king Charles Hurwitz in a hostile takeover in 1985. Hurwitz’s Maxxam Company promptly pilfered from the employees’ retirement plan, tripled the rate of cut and ransomed the Headwaters Forest to the state and federal government, extracting all the value it could out of its acquisition before it put the company out of its misery in bankruptcy court.

Pacific Lumber’s timber operations ended up in the hands of San Francisco’s Fisher family — scions of magnate Don Fisher, founder of The Gap and other clothing-based retail chains — who rebranded as the Humboldt Redwood Company. The town and other real estate assets ended up in the hands of a group headed by Marathon Capital, an investment bank that held some Maxxam debt. Marathon formed the “Town of Scotia” company to subdivide and sell off the Pacific Lumber homes. Which is where we are today.

Press release from Town of Scotia LLC:

The final step has begun in the process of private home ownership in the former company town of Scotia.

There are pending sales on three of the homes in Scotia and the property sales transactions have been placed in escrow. The escrow process is anticipated to close in 60 days. Several other Scotia properties will begin the escrow process in the coming weeks.

Additionally, the sale of two garage lots in Scotia is also in escrow.

Because the transactions have not been finalized, the names of the buyers, addresses of the homes, and the purchase prices will not be released.

Several factors will influence the length of the escrow process. Two important preconditions to close of escrow relate to the Scotia Community Services District (SCSD):

Final sales require, first, that the SCSD have established its new utility rates for Water, Sewer and Storm Drainage services. These rates were established and adopted by the SCSD Board at its February 16, 2017 meeting after a noticed property owners’ ballot “election” in support. The rates will become effective shortly.

Second, the Town of Scotia (TOS) informed the Bureau of Real Estate that it will promptly complete the long planned dedication to the community, not only of the public utilities treatment plants, but also of several essential historic, civic and recreational community facilities. As a consequence, before close of any home sales, TOS plans to complete the transfer to SCSD of the much beloved Winema Theater, the Scotia Museum, Carpenter’s Field Ballpark, Fireman’s Park Picnic Area and the Scotia Soccer Field. That transfer should be concluded by April 1, 2017.

Phase one sales (which includes 39 houses) now underway are in the neighborhood called The Redwoods, which includes properties on Eddy, Mill, and Church Streets. Home sales will continue in phase one until all properties are sold.

Phase two of home sales in Scotia is expected to begin in September 2017. This neighborhood is called Eagle Crest and includes 71 homes and properties from 1st and B Streets, through 3rd Street.

Phase three home sales in Scotia, scheduled to begin in August of 2018, is in the neighborhood called Murphy’s Pointe. It includes 67 houses on B and Main Streets and 4th through 6th Streets.

Phase four and five are several years down the road, with sales anticipated to begin in August of 2019 and August 2020 respectively. The phase four neighborhood is called Salmon Run and includes 74 houses along Williams Street, and the phase five neighborhood is called The Depot, and includes 19 houses in the North Court area of Scotia. All dates are subject to change due to unforeseen factors.

The cost of the homes in Scotia is quite often the number one question that is asked. The answer is that there is no base-price, since no two homes in Scotia are the same, other than the bedroom and bathroom configuration.

Because of the many questions arising about the home sales in Scotia, a Frequently Asked Questions document has been developed to provide additional information. This information is available on the Scotia Living website ( and copies may be found at the Scotia Living office at 108 Main Street.


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Sometime after 1:00 PM yesterday I was tuned in to the Trump press conference. My lunch was in front of me – a salami and cheese sandwich and a small ice cold can of 7 Up. I took a bite of the sandwich, gave it a few chews and was about to send it on its way, washed down by a swill of my soda, but at that very instant I heard Trump say: “This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.”

I burst into a short and violent spasm of laughter while in mid-swallow causing the highly carbonated 7 Up to shoot from my nose along with some sandwich particles. What kid hasn’t had milk shoot from his nose?…but for a unique experience try 7 Up sometime!

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The Case of Tony: Inside A Lifer Hearing

by Luke Meyer

I’ve put off writing about lifer hearings because I don’t like to relive painful experiences and I’ve been hung up on trying to find an angle. What would be a good, illustrative case? There are a variety of types: Perhaps the campesino from the highlands of Mexico, more Old World than New, going through the process via an interpreter, getting all of his instructive, lengthy documents in English and often finding his credibility fatally undermined through simple and obvious misunderstandings in translation.

Then there’s the one who receives a disciplinary write-up through a petty misunderstanding, or an officer having a bad day, or a new officer unaware of the tacit agreements in place -one typically has to go about 5 years without a write-up to have a chance at parole.

Or there’s the one who is several lifetimes removed from the teenage street gang and violence of his youth and you want to sweep aside all the hoops he has to jump through and all the boxes he has to check, and shout, LOOK AT HIM. HE’S FIFTY. HE WAS SEVENTEEN. HIS ENTIRE LIFE OF CRIME WAS TEENAGE BULLSHIT THAT PEOPLE GROW OUT OF! And, of course, there are the roughly 10% I meet who I do not think committed the crime that put them there.

I decided to write about the next hearing on my schedule:

Tony is in for first-degree murder. Some descriptions of a commitment offense can break your heart and make it clear that here was a menace-to-society who had to be locked up for a long time. That’s not the case with Tony, but he committed the act: A “tax-collector” gangster let it reach Tony’s ears that he was going to kill the heroin-dealing, heroin-addicted Tony and a couple of other Valley miscreants. They decided to get out in front of the threat and somehow got him to use enough smack to pass out. They drove to a quiet spot by an irrigation canal where their rookie hired hitman realized that he couldn’t do it. Believing that turning back now meant certain death in the very near future, Tony pulled the trigger and got twenty-five-to-life. It was his one documented act of violence before and after his arrest. It’s been thirty-seven years since he shot that man to death but at seventy, he seems like a nice enough guy.

Tony used and smuggled in prison until about ten years ago. For this he picked up two consecutive terms totaling six years, to commence when he is paroled for his commitment offense.

Tony is a terrible test-taker, especially at oral exams. His word is “brainlock” for what overwhelms his thought processes when talking to important people on important topics pertaining to his freedom. Because he is a terrible test-taker and, to get paroled, he has to nail the most difficult oral exam of all, his Parole Consideration Hearing, he is still awaiting a grant of parole so that he can at least see the finish line.

He’s fairly slow and deliberate in general, but when he senses that the line of questioning has reached a pivotal point, he freezes. His denial of parole a couple of years ago was narrowly based on the difficulty he had reciting and discussing the 12 steps to recovery. At his recent hearing, every time the topic got around to the 12 steps, his slow, thoughtful, sometimes grasping, answers ground to a clock-ticking… chair-squeaking… fluorescent-light-humming… throat-clearing. Halt.

Once someone has reached his minimum eligibility date, a grant of parole “shall normally be given” per the penal code. The ‘fundamental consideration’ for the Board is whether or not Tony is still an unreasonable danger to the public. To find this in a seventy-year-old with minimal violence beyond his thirty-seven-year-old commitment offense, they must find a ‘rational nexus’ between past criminality and current dangerousness.

As it goes in the vast majority of these hearings, a ‘rational nexus’ was found. The Parole Board concluded that because he experiences his “brainlock” under stress, he will be unable to handle stress in the “free community” and is therefore dangerous. He was denied parole for the ninth time.

I can only imagine a situation remotely comparable to being grilled for a couple of hours by two flinty-eyed, hard-to-read, squares across a long table knowing that if you respond properly, you might get to walk out of prison before you die.

This case was interesting because the Board made an end-run around my analysis of his “brainlock” and my confident assertion that “this is not a performance test,” but the catch-22-laden, surreal, aspect is all too typical. Common sense slowly dissipates and the aura of hope fades from the room if the hearing doesn’t have the right feeling and flow, regardless of whether or not the person on the spot is remotely like the person who put himself there.

(Luke Meyer is the pen name of a Bay Area lawyer.)

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Re: ‘Ellen Rosser just accused me of writing "fiction" re: illegal abortion…’

Eleanor Cooney wrote:

What I've said here is not an "argument" to "keep it legal." It's a dissemination of facts. Knowing the facts, people can then draw their own conclusions about legality or illegality being the better choice. There are, by the way, those who take what I say about the realities of illegal abortion as an "argument" to recriminalize.

I repeat:

"My purpose in these discussions is to educate people re: the reality of how it is when abortion is illegal. Having experienced it first hand, I'm particularly passionate about not letting them off the hook. They can then do with that knowledge whatever they wish..."

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GT wrote:

not letting who off the hook? Your grammar implies all people.

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Eleanor Cooney wrote:

Oh, gosh, sorry--

Here's the complete paragraph. Pretty plain by "them" I mean people who, either through ignorance, denial or revisionism, don't know the reality of illegal abortion.

My purpose in these discussions is to educate people re: the reality of how it is when abortion is illegal. Having experienced it first hand, I'm particularly passionate about not letting them off the hook. They can then do with that knowledge whatever they wish, but I won't let them squirm away from the truth via denial, revisionism, et al.

* * *

GT wrote:

I don't deny that there have been horrors and there could be again. But that is not the whole story.

Having your body sliced into bits and sucked through a tube seems pretty horrible too, so you entire premise ignores and denies that there is any human suffering caused by legal abortion. You win that argument because unborn humans have no voice, but what does supporting that make you?

Attempts to appeal to compassion for the horrors of legal or illegal abortion disguise the fact that they are a risk of a choice made willingly for self interest with knowledge of the danger.

Every argument made for the the needs of underprivileged or oppressed people that have no power or voice, abused animals, and even the planet applies to an unborn child and most pro choice advocates support, preach or march loudly about those issues. It's just when it comes home and costs them something personally all that goes out the window. Then it's "screw the kid, I don't want to deal with it"

In the end there is no valid argument that supports the value of human life AND accepts abortion as OK. They are contradictory values people want because it serves their personal preference and desires. If you want to say it's not the mothers responsibility to allow the kid to live, then it's no one's responsibility to be concerned with any other human life if it inconveniences them. Killing you for the clothes on your back because I am cold would comply with that moral standard.

The entire pro choice argument is based on personal preference and self interest. All the rest of it is noise to obfuscate that point.

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Eleanor Cooney wrote:

You're attributing a whole payload of arguments to me that I've never made.

I'm here to educate people about how it was (is) when abortion's illegal. It's the territory I've staked out, and it's what I stick to.

I quite literally meant it when I said people can do with that knowledge what they wish. Some will perhaps reject a system of vigilante punishment of women and girls, others will think it's just the ticket.

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by Louis S. Bedrock

The snowfall had diminished, almost stopped, when the doorbell rang. He thought it must be Jitterbug and his older cousin Malik, the two neighborhood kids who normally came around to clear his driveway and sidewalk after a snowstorm. However he opened the door and discovered a young woman armed with a large snow shovel.

—Clean your sidewalk?

—Two kids from the neighborhood come around and do it.

—I’m here now.

He laughed.

—We kind of have an unwritten contract. Isn’t it heavy work for you?

—It’s honest clean work. I like it. My name is Tasha. Can I leave you my number 'case they don’t show up?

—As in Natasha?

—No, jes Tasha. Gotta piece of paper?

He had liked her. He thought about her after she had left. He regretted not hiring her.

When it snowed again a week later, Tasha reappeared at his front door, even before the snow had stopped. This time he paid her $20 to clear the driveway and get the snow off of his car. He saved the sidewalk for his regulars.

He noticed than a young man had gotten out of a car that was parked nearby to help her. He would later learn that he was her brother.


That was the last storm of the winter, so he didn’t see Tasha for several months. However, in June he had to undergo minor surgery that incapacitated him for several weeks. Vatsala flew in from Hanalei, Hawaii and stayed eight days shopping, cleaning, and cooking for him. When she left, he found Tasha’s phone number and called to ask for help with the housework.

He had been reticent about calling her for help with housework. This reticence was due to a network of reasons involving age, gender, skin color, and economics. But Tasha was grateful for the call and the work. He worked with her doing what he could: supporting the step ladder when she dusted or vacuumed the bookshelves, helping her move the couch, desk, or chairs, fetching rags and towels.

He told her that he was retired and liked living alone. He complained about how the surgery had limited his activities.

She told him about her brother and her fourteen-year old daughter; about her life on a small farm in South Carolina, on the dangerous streets of West Philadelphia, and in the apartment she shared with her brother, his girlfriend, and her daughter in nearby Linden, New Jersey.

He was surprised that she had a fourteen year old. She looked young.

She was solicitous about his health and meticulous about her work. She would not allow him to go up and down the stairs to help her, nor to lift anything heavy. Although their agreement was $75.00 for three hours work, Tasha did not leave until she was finished and would not accept any extra money that was offered.

Even after he was strong enough to do things himself, he continued to pay her to come over and help out once or twice a week. He knew she needed the money and he enjoyed her company.

He invited her to bring her daughter, her brother, or both to his house while she worked, but she never did.

Occasionally, she would stay for lunch. He was a vegetarian and often prepared an Ethiopian lentil salad for lunch, served with rice, with lettuce and tomato on the side. Sometimes he would heat up food from an Ethiopian restaurant in nearby South Orange. He taught her how to scoop up the shiro, atkilt salata, gomen, or aterkik alicha with the injera.

She also liked his simple Spanish dishes of rice and beans or refried beans with lettuce, tomato and hot sauce on soft tortillas.


He went to Vermont in September to visit some friends and his ex-wife, and to look at a house on a street called Robinwood Lane in the woods above Montpelier. When he returned at the end of the month, he called Tasha several times without getting her or her voicemail. When at last someone answered, a male voice gruffly informed him “They ain’t no Tasha here.”

He put the house up for sale and made a down payment on the little house in the woods of Montpelier. Tasha stopped by late in November without calling first. He discouraged even close friends from doing this, but was glad to see her.

They sat in the kitchen over cups of tea and talked.

She talked about the boyfriend she never saw again after she had told him she was pregnant. He admitted it was difficult to live alone, but less difficult than living with someone--even if one loved the someone, and he mentioned Barbara and Krystyna.

He didn't mention his ex-wife or how after three years of married life she discovered she preferred women to men.

Tasha asked when he was moving. He told her he needed to sell the house first: he could not afford two mortgages. She told him she might take her daughter to South Carolina and live with her sister and her two daughters.

When she left, they said goodbye with an undertone of finality.


He was unable to sell the house and stayed in New Jersey. He was disappointed but not that disappointed: he wasn’t sure he could have endured the prolonged winters, muddy springs, and black fly assaults in Vermont. He was not sure if he wanted to live anywhere near his ex and her "wife".

There's something grotesque about gay marriages. They are even more grotesque than regular marriages.


When it snows these days, Jitterbug and Malik come by to clean his sidewalk. The two young men have found a lot of business in the area. He noticed that they now clean the sidewalks and driveways of three of his neighbors.


It’s been two years since he last saw Tasha. He still thinks of her now and then and hopes she is doing well. She deals in good faith and tries to do what’s right--whatever the hell that means.

* * *


by Garance Burke

The White House distanced itself Friday from a Department of Homeland Security draft proposal to use the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants, but lawmakers said the document offers insight into the Trump administration's internal efforts to enact its promised crackdown on illegal immigration.

Administration officials said the proposal, which called for mobilizing up to 100,000 troops in 11 states, was rejected, and would not be part of plans to carry out President Donald Trump's aggressive immigration policy.

If implemented, the National Guard idea, contained in an 11-page memo ( ) obtained by The Associated Press, could have led to enforcement action against millions of immigrants living nowhere near the Mexican border. Four states that border on Mexico were included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompassed seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Despite the AP's public release of the document, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said there was "no effort at all to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants." A DHS official described the document as a very early draft that was not seriously considered and never brought to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly for approval.

However, DHS staffers said Thursday that they had been told by colleagues in two DHS departments that the proposal was still being considered as recently as Feb. 10. DHS spokeswoman Gillian Christensen declined to say who wrote the memo, how long it had been under consideration or when it had been rejected.

The pushback from administration officials did little to quell outrage over the draft plan. Three Republican governors spoke out against the proposal and numerous Democratic lawmakers denounced it as an overly aggressive approach to immigration enforcement.

"Regardless of the White House's response, this document is an absolutely accurate description of the disturbing mindset that pervades the Trump administration when it comes to our nation's immigrants," said U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he would have "concerns about the utilization of National Guard resources for immigration enforcement," believing such a program "would be too much of a strain on our National Guard personnel."

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert would have serious concerns about the constitutional implications and financial impact of activating the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants, the governor's office said in a statement.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval questioned the legality of the plan described in the draft memo and said it would be an inappropriate use of guard resources.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), said, "This administration's complete disregard for the impact its internal chaos and inability to manage its own message and policy is having on real people's lives is offensive."

The AP had sought comment from the White House beginning Thursday and DHS earlier Friday and had not received a response from either. After the AP released the story, Spicer said the memo was "not a White House document" and said there was "no effort to do what is potentially suggested."

Governors in the 11 states would have had a choice whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the memo, which bears the name of Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general.

At a maximum, approximately 100,000 Army National Guard and Air National Guard personnel would be available for stateside missions in the 11 states, according to statistics and information provided by the National Guard Bureau.

While National Guard personnel have been used to assist with immigration-related missions on the U.S.-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north.

The memo was addressed to the then-acting heads of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It would have served as guidance to implement the wide-ranging executive order on immigration and border security that President Donald Trump signed Jan. 25. Such memos are routinely issued to supplement executive orders.

Also dated Jan. 25, the draft memo says participating troops would be authorized "to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension and detention of aliens in the United States." It describes how the troops would be activated under a revived state-federal partnership program, and states that personnel would be authorized to conduct searches and identify and arrest any unauthorized immigrants.

If implemented, the impact could have been significant. Nearly one-half of the 11.1 million people residing in the U.S. without authorization live in the 11 states, according to Pew Research Center estimates based on 2014 Census data.

(Read draft memo here:

(Associated Press)

* * *


"I’m gonna let you enjoy this for 60 seconds. Then I'm turning the reality hose back on." -Shauna

The recording of last night's (2017-02-17) KNYO (and, three hours in, also KMEC) Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show is ready to download for free and enjoy, via

By the way, that was just twenty years of Memo of the Air that went by, just then. February 1997 to last night, whoosh. And the main thing it makes me think is, I had a House of Mystery comic book when I was in fifth grade, the year white men landed on the moon (thanks to a lot of black lady mathematicians) (and, before that, Nazis, don't forget them), where the cartoon story was about an evil photographer who ruined people's lives with blackmail, and this was shown by a blackmail-ruined businessman, whose twenty year business is about to be destroyed even though he paid the blackmail money, and he's running after the photographer's car in the night, wailing, begging, "Twenty years! TWENTY YEARS!" Like Kilgore Trout running after Kurt Vonnegut in his Breakfast of Champions dark parking lot of the soul, yelling, "Make me young! Make me young!"

I didn't sleep right and so was kind of tired for this show, and you can hear that, but it's still all there. Alex Bosworth called very late, and that was nice, though I almost fell asleep while we were talking. Alex has been a constant over the years, except for the two or three years where we all thought he was dead, but even then I had his stories to read and recordings of his stories to play. He's had an amazing life. The world used him for a punching bag, and he just keeps getting back up, like one of those inflatable clown things that you punch and it rights itself or, no, more like Captain America, who's beat all to shit by a bully, and the bully is vile, snickering, a little out of breath from all the kicking and beating he's been doing, and Captain America (he's half the size of the bully) gets up, spits out blood and a tooth, raises his fists and says, "Hey. I can do this all day." That's a hero.

Also this show's The Shadow episode is a particularly good one. And Rich Alcott's Attention Deficit News.

Also, at you'll find thousands of links to not necessarily radio-useful but certainly worthwhile things to see and/or do and learn about, such as:

Charles and Emma Darwin had ten kids, and the kids drew and painted and scribbled all over his manuscripts, and at first, whenever one did, Emma would worry, but when Charles saw the damage he’d go Oh, look at that. Such a clever child.

Dolls that are creepy because they suggest real people more than regular dolls do.

Time-lapse military airplane boneyard. Recall the used-spaceship lot scene in the Out of Gas episode of Firefly. "She’ll be with you till the day you die."

And speaking of which, and of Darwin:

–Marco McClean

* * *


Recommending Ananda Fuara Restaurant

It has been some years since I've eaten at the Sri Chinmoy group's vegetarian restaurant. Dinner tonight was just as satisfying as I remembered it to be. Had the house specialty nutloaf with mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, and a dinner salad with sesame herb dressing. A large cup o' chai washed it all down nicely. They're still on the corner of Larkin & Market Streets in the civic center area of San Francisco. Just couldn't eat any more...will save the strawberry-rhubarb pie for next time.

–Craig Stehr, San Francisco



  1. LouisBedrock February 19, 2017

    I could not agree more strongly with your comments about John Ashbery.
    I would not call him a poet: he’s a creator of cryptograms.
    Below is a portion of a comment I posted a few months ago in which I blasted HARPER’S, Truman Capote clone Tom Wolfe, and Ashbery:

    I despise John Ashbery.

    John Ashbery is the Maya Angelou of wealthy white people.

    John Ashbery is the house poet of The New Yorker and NPR.

    He is the poet of the snot nosed bourgeoisie who prefer cryptograms and acrostics, but who enjoy the edification and prestige of reading a poem now and then: especially one that no one understands.

    John Ashbery–the poet of people who have read FINNEGAN’S WAKE and enjoyed it.

    How do write a verse of an Ashbery poem:

    1.     Compose four or five sentences that have nothing to do with one another.

    2.     Three of the sentences should be obscure and abstract, but one should sound common and intimate

    3.     Use the secondary and tertiary denotations of words—like “saw” in the example below.

    4.      Title should suggest relevance and universality, but have nothing to do with the poem. 

    by John Ashbery Clone

    There’s a simple way out of this.
    Daydreams of Ukrainian housewives in waiting rooms.              
    Say hello to Deidre when you next see her.      
    Grandfathers’ saws may serve on such occasions.

    • LouisBedrock February 19, 2017

      This is one of my favorite poems.
      Sounds great read aloud.
      Intriguing rhythm and rhyme scheme.
      Great imagery.
      Intriguing suggestion about the contradictions of human nature.

      Tastes differ and not everyone will like this poem as I do; however most people who read it will understand it.

      Elinor Morton Wylie

      This is the bricklayer; hear the thud
      Of his heavy load dumped down on stone.
      His lustrous bricks are brighter than blood,
      His smoking mortar whiter than bone.
      Set each sharp-edged, fire-bitten brick
      Straight by the plumb-line’s shivering length;
      Make my marvellous wall so thick
      Dead nor living may shake its strength.
      Full as a crystal cup with drink
      Is my cell with dreams, and quiet, and cool. . .
      Stop, old man! You must leave a chink;
      How can I breathe? You can’t, you fool!

    • Bruce Anderson February 19, 2017

      Thank the muse. I am not alone!

      • Bill Pilgrim February 19, 2017

        We’ve simply got to got to chase poetry out of academia with pitchforks!

      • Betsy Cawn February 20, 2017

        Don Marquis for me!

    • Bill Pilgrim February 19, 2017

      Agree completely, Louis & Bruce. The so-called New York School served no artistic purpose other than removing poetry and visual arts even further from the public domain and further into irrelevance.
      In all my years of reading, studying and contemplating poetry I can’t recall a single Ashbery stanza or line that stirred my soul.
      He should have jumped off Hart Crane’s “Bridge” decades ago.

    • Bill Pilgrim February 19, 2017

      Ashbery and his ilk claimed to be revolting against ‘confessional’ poetry. What bullshit. They didn’t want to write verse, like the Moderns, utilizing metaphors for the vicissitudes of the times. So they retreated into abstraction and the netherworld of “art for art’s sake.” Mental masturbation.
      Find a single Ashbery line that can touch the heart and intuition as does “…and miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.”

      • LouisBedrock February 19, 2017

        Or my favorite lines,

        The only other sound’s the sweep
        Of easy wind and downy flake.

  2. Lazarus February 19, 2017

    “if Willits is still ‘cranktown’ it’s a whole hell of a lot more hidden than ever before.”
    What? Willits is and has been a lot of things but if it’s crank-town, Trump is Hillary in drag…Pot has always been the real deal. For decades it has dominated the economy in the Willits, SpareTime Supply and MendoMill to mention the most obvious..
    The Chinese are moving in too, remodeling long unused buildings for indoor, buying up thousands of acres for outdoor.
    Big change is coming, and the dope will lead the way…for better or worse.
    As always,

  3. George Hollister February 19, 2017

    I have enjoyed reading Michael Koepf over the years. There are somethings we disagree on, but he is a good writer. I look forward to his next.

  4. Kathy February 19, 2017

    Michael Koepf- for every line-clearing advocate, there is a corresponding tree-hugger in Mendocino county. PG&E stepped up its line maintenance program here in the early 2000’s. It has resulted in a lot less power failures. (Remember the two-week power outage in 1995)?

    • George Hollister February 19, 2017

      Kathy, you nailed it. The tree hugger types tend to be the recent arrivals from the city, whose perspective on a forest is what they had in their back yard, or what they experienced in a city park. And the tree crews are from the blue collar class, and can not trusted to know their business.

      So PGE, the de facto public agency that they are, takes the politically correct and necessarily more expensive route to get their job done. Hey, the ratepayer will pay for it anyway, right?

  5. Jim Mastin February 19, 2017

    Other than suggesting that portions of two lines in the third stanza be transposed to read:

    Smoked expensive cigars out of a bee’s bonnet
    And drank old cognac out of his wife’s ear

    I suggest Bruce Anderson as our next California State Poet Laureate!

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