- Hit & Run
- Dog Adoptions
- Historical Society
- HCSO Dissatisfaction
- Flynn Appreciation
- Gualala Wastewater
- FB Planning
- Empty Houses
- Sorry Soldier
- Jerry Sabbatical
- Yesterday's Catch
- Cold Cases
- Park Maintenance
- George Everest
- FBI Surveillance
- UFO Investigations
- Campaign Season
- Constricted Freedom
COVELO FATAL HIT & RUN
The Garberville CHP issued the following press release Tuesday morning:
"On Monday, January 21, at approximately 6:02 pm, an officer with the Round Valley Tribal Police was driving on Highway 162 (Mendocino Pass Road), when he noticed a bicycle on the shoulder which had collision damage to it. The officer stopped to investigate and found the male rider, deceased near the bicycle.
Officers from the California Highway Patrol were summoned to the scene and determined that the bicyclist was struck by a vehicle, which subsequently fled the scene. The suspect is believed to have fled the scene, eastbound on Highway 162 (Mendocino Pass Road).
The California Highway Patrol is investigating the collision. Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office responded to handle the coroner’s report. Personnel from Cal-Fire and the Round Valley Tribal Police assisted with the scene.
The California Highway Patrol is requesting the public’s help in finding the driver and involved vehicle. If anyone has information regarding the identity of the driver or the vehicle, please contact the California Highway Patrol, at (707) 923-2155."
ARCHIVIST & HISTORIAN ALYSSA BALLARD BRINGS NEW ENERGY TO MENDOCINO COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
by Carolyn Ponts-Steckter
When Dr. Paul Poulos retired as longtime director of the Mendocino County Historical Society last year, he planned to continue as a Historical Society board member and volunteer. He has in fact done that, and also states with pleasant vigor, “I’m still a director, a member of the board of directors, very active, quite active.” He’s filling in for the current director, Tim Buckner, as well, and as he begins hosting an informal tour of the Held-Poage Memorial Home on Perkins and Dora streets in Ukiah, he explains, “The house was given to us to use, and the family wanted it maintained as a Victorian as much as possible. The bookshelves were installed when it started out as a lending library. When the Judge died, his family and friends took a lot of the furnishings, but this desk and the chair and lamp were original to the house. This was the parlor.”
Dr. Poulos and archivist Alyssa Ballard stop to have a picture taken by those original furnishings, and there together stand the heart and hands of the Mendocino County Historical Society, with Dr. Poulos’s contribution of years of experience and wisdom, and Ballard’s new energy, with the goal of bringing in a new generation of people to learn about Ukiah and Mendocino County history.
Ballard started at the Mendocino County Historical Society in 2017. She began volunteering there, and then was hired on as their archivist, resident historian, and curator. A Ukiah native, she has her Masters from Sonoma State University in 19th and 20th Century American History. About Ukiah she says, “I decided I wanted to stay here because I loved it here.” Her grandparents came to Ukiah in the 1950s, “I grew up here, and as a family we’ve kind of never left Church Street.” Her love of history began as a child, at which time, “My mom loved going to museums, and she drug me around with her. Every time we went out of town we went to the museums.” As an adult, “I volunteered at Mendocino County Museum [in Willits] for five years in learning how to catalog collections, re-house them, learning preservation techniques, and putting information into a museum software database.”
About the Held-Poage Memorial Home, which is currently under restoration, Alyssa explains, “Mendocino County Historical Society didn’t have an actual brick and mortar place before the house.” The historical society itself was established in 1956. In 1969 the family of Judge William D.L. Held and Ethel Poage Held donated it to be used as the society’s headquarters and a lending library. At that time many bookshelves were installed, which are now in the process of being removed, as they were not original to the home. Carpeting is also being removed, and period furniture will be reintroduced into the home. During 2016-2017, through a handful of dedicated volunteers, the books, filing cabinets, and computers were moved into the newly completed Archive building, which was built around what used to be the carriage house. “The idea is we’re going to restore the home into a period home as close as it can be to the time it was lived in.”
“I desperately want the house to get moved along because I think it will be such a pull for here. We’d like to host things here, rent it for meetings, hold society events here, like a Christmas tea, things like that. It is going to be similar to the Sun House.” About the history of the house itself being given to the Historical Society, Dr. Poulos adds, “When Judge Held died, his son Bill inherited it. He wanted it preserved, but he didn’t want it rented, and he didn’t want it sold. The term was [for the historical society] to have it kept up for 20 years and we could keep it. We did and he did.” The house was dedicated on April 5, 1970.
Ballard explains, “My push – that’s what pushed me to let people know where we are and get people here, is with this happening it’s been quite the expense. We discovered that moisture has been getting into what used to be the carriage house that the Archive was built around. All the archival materials used to be stored in the house and the outbuildings. The moisture is getting to the paper materials, so we need to get the materials treated as well, so that we can introduce them into the new part of the archival environment without contaminating the rest of the collections. It needs to be done, and it needs to be done soon.”
“So this really pushed me to get involved with a new generation,” she continued, “I’ve contacted the Main Street Program, finding ways to get us out there, so people can find out who we are and what we do. Our first step is to get people to see the collection downtown. We have tens of thousands of pictures.”
“I thought Art Walk would be great. We’re set up for First Friday in February at W Real Estate, on the corner of Perkins and State. They agreed to have us as their actual artist, and I got approval from the board. This month I’m going to do Mendocino County travel advertising from 1900 to 1940. I’m also going to get a variety of photos that I think are really great. I just want to share it with people.” Eventually she would like to host “current, living artists” for Art Walk in the lobby of the Archive.
Part of what an archivist does is assess whether a given piece of information is of value to the collection. Information that archivists examine and maintain can take on many forms, such as documents, letters, photographs, audio recordings, and videos. In arranging records, archivists apply the principles of provenance and original order. Ballard would like to strengthen the order between the historical objects and archival materials held at the Mendocino County Museum in Willits and the Mendocino County Historical Society.
In regards to the historical society, Ballard states, “It’s a misconception that it’s a museum. There’s been a breakdown in the original intent of the symbiotic relationship of the two institutions. Over generations the County Museum has acquired their own archival collection, and we have acquired objects. The new curator has expressed interest in possibly repairing that relationship, so that ideally, they would take all of our artifacts, and we would take their archival collection, so it just functions better, which is what the original intention was.”
“Part of the archive is narrowing down the collection to the mission, which is to preserve Mendocino County history specifically. We also keep counties that are bordering us as well. We have about 30 boxes of books we’ve isolated as needing to be sold. We’re planning a big book sale for March 9 which will be open to the public. A lot of stuff we’ve been holding onto for a long time is up for grabs: all history books, just shedding the extra weight. I’m hoping the book sale will be a draw to bring people here and they’ll see what we actually are.”
Another aspect to Ballard’s focus is in growing membership in the historical society. “Not only my generation, but even the one ahead of me, they’re really not present in our membership, especially the millennials. Most frequent new members are people who move into Ukiah into historic homes from out of town and inquire here, or word of mouth people who know other members. Our members are what keep the lights on, and are a huge part of what keeps us going. I really want the newer generations who live here to know about it too, and on top of that is our need for volunteers.”
Members receive a quarterly journal published by the Mendocino County Historical Society, an invitation to quarterly luncheons which host a guest speaker, and discounts on in-house publications. Members will also get first pick at the book sale.
“Our director recently reached out to students at Mendocino College,” Ballard said. “We’re trying to partner with the college and the high school in a way that people could do learning here as part of their coursework. Steve Hellman at the college sends his students here, and they do research and work on topics and write papers that I publish in our historical journal. We’re always looking for stories people write about their family histories and information for our journals.”
“A group of girls from the high school are doing their senior project with me. It was my grandma’s idea – to teach more people about the history of where they’re from before they leave and go off to college. I’m teaching them how to archive.”
The historical society is also a guide in researching Mendocino County ancestry, family history, and genealogy. “A lot of the focus was on genealogy and collecting Mendocino County genealogy when it was the Held-Poage library, so we have file folders and file folders of information. If we don’t have it, I’ll create a new file for them on all the research. If anyone wanted to create a family file of the history they’ve done to keep here, I’d take it.”
When asked if she feels she’s bringing new, younger energy to the historical society, Ballard responds, “I think so. I would say that I’m definitely the youngest person here. I’m fresh out of college and this is my passion. As part of a younger generation, I’m well-versed in social media and technology. I want to get us as close to as we can, as a 20-year plan, to get the museum software Past Perfect. It allows your collection to be accessible and searchable online. I have a lot of energy when it comes to here, and I have a lot of ideas. I really just want people to know that we’re a resource. That’s literally our function. We’re here for the community.”
“We have all the information at our fingertips, and we’re set up and have it ready to provide information to people. There’s no point in preserving everything if it’s never going to be utilized. That’s the point in saving your county’s history.”
The Mendocino County Historical Society is open Wednesday through Friday from 1-4 pm., at 603 W. Perkins St. in Ukiah. They are on Facebook, online at mendohistoricalsociety.com, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal.)
Super Blood Wolf Moon
Sea Ranch, California 2019
MURDER MOUNTAIN VIC'S FAMILY BLASTS HUMCO SHERIFF
To whom it may concern,
I am Bonnie Taylor, the paternal aunt of Garret Rodriguez, and the family representative for Garret’s case.
This letter is the result of my no longer being able to keep quiet and wait for the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. I have been more than patient for six years while the HCSO has conducted themselves in an incompetent and unprofessional manner in the handling of Garret’s case from the very beginning. I had hoped that Sheriff Honsal would invite a new era of professionalism into the department, but after the recent HCSO press release regarding the “Murder Mountain” series, I now feel the HCSO (Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office) will only continue to hide behind excuses.
It is also clear to me that they only sought to discredit the documentary because it exposes their incompetence in the case. I will now outline for the public to see exactly what I have been dealing with the last six years when I speak of their incompetence and unprofessionalism:
1) Det. Todd Fulton told me within the first weeks of the missing persons report that “[my] nephew was a drug dealer, and these are the consequences of that life.” Det. Fulton later went on the record for the Times-Standard before Garret’s truck was found, and claimed there was no evidence Garret made it to Humboldt County. It is only through the professional and highly competent efforts of Cook & Associates that the evidence of Garret’s truck was discovered and eventually returned to the family.
2) When we first approached private investigators about Garret’s case after getting the aforementioned responses from Det. Fulton, Cook & Associates outlined for us the problem of hearsay evidence in Garret’s case. The recent HCSO press release even went so far as to give the public a legal definition of hearsay. The HCSO wants the public to believe their hands are tied on the case due to the lack of non-hearsay evidence. Why did Det. Jennifer Turner tell me in July of 2017 that the suspect “gave an original statement to law enforcement, and it is on file as, ‘I shot Garret and buried Garret'.”?
Please tell the public, Sheriff Honsal, under what conditions you chose to ignore probable cause for arrest?
3) The HCSO took several days to come and retrieve Garret’s body after Alderpoint residents had repeatedly called them about the now infamous “Alderpoint 8” incident. This is in direct conflict with the false narrative of the HCSO that Alderpoint residents forced the alleged murderer to confess due to “increased pressure on the community […] because the community wanted the Sheriff’s Office to stop looking for Rodriguez […].” HCSO was not out looking for Garret. If HCSO had been out looking for Garret, we never would have had to get private investigators involved.
4) The HCSO published the identification of Garret’s body in the media before the family had been notified. Despite near-daily and weekly calls to the HCSO and national news media coverage, the Rodriguez family was not given the professional courtesy of being notified their loved one was dead before the public knew.
5) The family was never informed about the local and federal prosecutors declining the case. The first time I became aware of this information was when it was published publicly in the recent HCSO press release.
Despite HCSO calling “Murder Mountain” “sensationalized,” I feel as a person who lived through this horrific event that the producers and the persons interviewed accurately portrayed the events that led to the recovery of Garret’s body. While there are elements of the story that no one knows but those who were present, the main element of Garret’s story that the public needs to take away is this: Garret’s alleged murderer is still at large, and the HCSO has not conducted this investigation in a way that is satisfying to the family of the deceased. We do not feel that justice has been served in this case.
I look forward to seeing Justice for Garret!
Goddammit! I am just SO BUMMED about Flynn Washburne! God damn that tweak! What on earth is there about that shit that it can seduce even a mind as clever and sophisticated as his into throwing everything he has away for some stupid sensation?
For years now, my wife and I have gotten so much enjoyment out of the Stony Lonesome author's work; the years of laughing to his unique missives from behind bars. I remember when I first read about how long his sentence was, it seemed like we would never see him get out of there, but time flies, and before you know it he's out, holding down that dishwasher gig at Chipotle and turning it into a decent career.
My wife Candida actually went in and looked him up there — neither of us know what he looks like — just to tell him how brilliant she thought he was. I had been meaning to do likewise, but now circumstances have changed irreparably. Damn! We're just both so heartbroken over it.
Guess I'll send him a few shekels to that GoFundMe thing and just hope that some heavier duty rehab will someday free him from that God damned scourge!
SOMETHING'S STUCK IN THE SOUTH COAST SEWER, PART 2
by Spike McGinness
So Adshade is out, and in walks a guy who is going to resolve the issues, not by default, but by direct confrontation. Pat Bailey became the new chair of the board of Gualala Community Services District (GCSD), and he was going to show the folks of the world that he was boss in resolving the issues of wastewater treatment and how his side would be paid for their treatment of wastewater to serve the Golf Course. What Pat did not understand and subsequently did not want to listen to, was there was a three-part agreement of all parties to wastewater treatment were tied to. Commonly referred to “The Tri-Party agreement,” signed by Robert Sundstrom of GCSD, and Tom Cochran of the Golf Course, and, of course, The Sonoma County Water Agency (They owned the Sea Ranch Sewer Collection and Treatment facilities) The agreement was old and arcane, but hell, if you wanted a sewer system back in the old days you would construct anything that made sense at the time, and remember back then contracts and handshakes were only as good as the people who signed them and of course much better than now. Arcane yes, but they provided what was understandable and necessary at the time.
Well, old Pat and Robert Juengling visited the Sea Ranch for a Tri Party meeting after Pat became board chair of GCSD. Present at the meeting, and as called for as Sonoma County representative, Kevin Booker appeared in the parking lot to welcome them to the meeting. Kevin Booker was a representative of Sonoma County Water agency and is of Afro-American descent.
Upon Pat Bailey’s arrival, he immediately stated that “we don’t need no N_____’s here.” So Pat and Juengling were sent away, and the meeting began. Meanwhile, as a result of Marshall Sayegh contacting LAFCO (the local agency formation commission), Mr. Frank McMichael said that the Mendocino Grand Jury had begun investigating the GCSD.
All hell was breaking loose, yet the Royal Flush website went silent. Pat Bailey still went on saying that someone had to pay. Surely Greg Girard’s shutting off the system was a wake-up call, but as time would tell, the Board of GCSD and he did it unilaterally, not in conformance with the Tri-Party agreement, nor representative of respective public health requirements.
Some things never change here on the coast, and not performing to the agreement was one of them.
So, the Grand Jury did its investigation, and the GCSD board seemingly complied; with new board members, and a new board chair.
But it was not over yet.
Over and over, the board went over all the lawsuits possible, as did the golf course.
It wasn’t until newly appointed Manager, Jerry Orth, that things started to happen. Jerry, an avid golfer and State Certified Grade III wastewater operator approached the golf course administrators, and a deal was worked out to satisfy GCSD and the golf course for the cost of tertiary treatment. The effort seemed miraculous, as nobody else, including the GCSD Board could have achieved such a result, especially after two or three years of bickering. This one man, through a golf game, achieved a pay schedule for wastewater treatment that was beneficial to all. Who would have thunk that the guy who knows water volumes and treatment processes would ever broker a deal agreeable by everyone? But JerryOrth knew the system which he had worked very hard to learn. Really old school, but very effective as time would show.
As all of this was happening, the Board dealt with the Grand Jury findings, and things went around as normal. The Cease and Desist order was fulfilled with a required capacity study completed, Greg Girard (the violator was gone from the premises), and a new district manager was at the helm in the person of Jerry Orth.
But trouble was still a-brewing. That trouble was named Bonnie Adshade, and the newly elected board of directors that followed her.
Also, sorry to say, the originator of all this drama, Mr. Marshall Sayegh and his website are now just a moment in vital history.
Next up: Part 3: “The Revenge of Bonnie Adshade.”
UNRAVEL THE AVALON
"Avalon" motel signage on the FB Planning Commission agenda, Wed. Jan. 23, 6pm
The Fort Bragg Planning Commission is meeting to decide on placement of development signs announcing a proposed 3-story, 65-unit motel on the Coastal Trail haul road north of Pudding Creek. This would add to a string of three existing motels, would obliterate two designated wetlands, and impact adjoining State Park areas in the Coastal Zone. Come make your concerns heard, 6pm at Town Hall, on Wednesday, January 23.
David Gurney, email@example.com
by Jim Luther
“There are two principal races of the Britons… Both inhabit wild and waterless mountains, desolate and swampy plains, holding no walls, nor cities, nor tilled fields, but living by pasturage and hunting and a few fruit trees… Their form of government is mostly democratic and they are very fond of plundering. Consequently they choose their boldest spirts as leaders… (They are) very quick at running and very firm in standing their groun… and inspire the enemy with terror. They also have daggers. They can endure hunger and cold and any kind of wretchedness. They plunge into the swamps and exist there for many days with only their heads above water, and in the forests they support themselves on bark and roots…”
— Dio Cassius, writing in the early 3rd Century about the tribal warriors first encountered by the Romans north of Hadrian’s Wall
Camp Roberts, California; Winter, 1960 — Sitting on his half-folded, inverted entrenching tool, its handle stuck into the mud, Private Jamieson shivered awake as a gust of wind tore the poncho roof away and the water poured down on him. He got to his feet, handed his M1 to Private Wong sitting on the log, and pulled his soggy boots out of the big mud puddle. There were three steps at the rear of the hole but it was so dark and the steps were so muddy that Jamieson knew he would slip if he tried to use them. Feeling along Wong’s log, he found the limb that went up out of the hole, pulled himself up and climbed out.
The four corners of the poncho had been tied down, three of them to staked twigs, but the one that had been tied to Jamieson’s bayonet had come off in the wind. Slip-slopping under the angling rain, he found the loose end, dragged it across to where his bayonet was still stuck in the mud, and tied it again with the string. It was too dark to see, but he knew his bayonet must be rusty and that there was mud and silt inside the handle. Just like his M1. He had tried to fire his rifle that afternoon when the Aggressor detail had started up the hill, but the receiver was so full of crud that he couldn’t pull the operating rod back. Not that it mattered much; the Aggressors hadn’t been able to get very far up the hill it was so muddy. After they’d all slipped and fallen a lot of times they’d finally given up and gone away. Jamieson had kept trying to fire his blank cartridges at them. He had put the butt of the rifle down on the ground and jumped down on the operating rod handle with his boot, but it still wouldn’t come back. There was rust and caked mud all over it, probably even in the bore. Now he knew his bayonet was the same way.
He slipped going back into the hole and when his feet hit the puddle he splashed muddy water all over Wong, but Wong didn’t say anything. Jamieson took his rifle back and sat back down on his entrenching tool and lit a cigarette. He was careful to cup it and it got wet from his hand.
There were only a few more hours and the two-day foxhole problem would be over. Two whole days in a foxhole. Actually they’d been able to get out a few times for attacks, and then again it wasn’t always the same foxhole. And they hadn’t actually had to dig any of them; the same area had been used for the two-day foxhole problem for years by different troops. This was the third foxhole he and Wong had been in and if it wasn’t for the rain he probably would have thought it was the best. Anyway, it was the biggest. Listening to the rivulets of water coming in over the sides, he knew it was way too big for the poncho.
He remembered the sergeant telling them that this was the kind of weather when the goddam Red Chinese had been most likely to attack. Jamieson thought about how the steep, wet, muddy hill had looked when it was still light and he couldn’t imagine anybody even trying to crawl up. The sergeant had said that they’d had to stay in their foxholes for weeks, and Jamieson had tried to imagine that, along with only cold C-rations—“Cold Charlies,” the sergeant cheerfully called them—to eat, no showers, and no place to take a crap except a muddy hole and wet paper.
Jamieson listened to the steady pelt of the rain and tried to think of something good. He remembered hearing a rumor that they might call the problem off early because of the rain. After thinking about that for a while, he wondered if he really cared whether they got out early or not. It had been raining steadily since noon and he was wet and cold with mud all over him. A few more hours didn’t matter anymore.
Sitting there soaked on his entrenching tool in the mud hole under the dripping poncho, Jamieson let himself play make-believe. Because he hadn’t anything else to do he pretended as hard as he could that he would have to stay there another ten days. He thought about how that would be. Ten more days. Raining all the time. Trying to sleep on the entrenching tool. The poncho coming loose and having to go out to fix it, slip-slopping out in the rain to take a crap. He imagined it all and tried to convince himself that it was true. Wet, cold, shivering, dirty—filthy dirty—mud on his face, in his hair, mud all over him. No showers. Never. Never any clean clothes. He’d never be clean again. He’d always be covered with mud, and his scalp would always itch, and his breath would always stink. Always.
Daydreaming and imagining things had never been hard for him. When he finally admitted to himself that it was all true, that it was really all going to be that way, he tried to feel bad about it. He sat there and for a long time tried to feel sorry for himself. But he couldn’t, he decided. He could tell that his face hadn’t changed its expression and that beyond that, inside, he really did feel neutral about it. It didn’t make any difference whether he left that wet, muddy hole now, or never left it. It was all the same.
He kept thinking about all the wet muddy things for a while, that they were really all going to happen and last all that time, and the dull, reflective reaction he was having to it all, and it seemed to him that there was a feeling of accomplishment, that he had arrived in some way. Maybe that was what it took: To sit in a wet muddy foxhole for two days.
Then he knew he had forgotten something and he tried to imagine all the goddam Red Chinese slithering towards him in the dark up that steep wet muddy hill, and he couldn’t.
JERRY TAKES A SABBATICAL
I think this will probably be my last letter for a while. I'm tired of bashing the Democrats, those anti-American liberals. I'm tired of trying to get the Republicans, the conservative people, to vote. That's the only way we are going to get these rotten people who are running the state of California out of office. It just doesn't make sense to me to try to do it any other way. The Republicans won't get off their lazy asses and vote. So all you liberals out there: Don't worry about me. I'm not going to start shooting until the revolution starts. Thanks to the AVA for allowing me to write the letters that I have. Good luck to everyone out there. Remember: God bless Donald Trump. MAGA.
CATCH OF THE DAY, January 22, 2019
JESSE BLANTON, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
RICKEY ESTRADA IV, Redwood Valley. County parole violation.
JESSICA FLOWERS, Ukiah. Domestic battery, disobeying court order, failure to appear.
KIMBERLY FRANCO, Covelo. Battery.
SAMUEL FRANCO, Covelo. Assault with deadly weapon with great bodily injury, special allegation: victim over 70 years old.
CODY FURLINE, Fort Bragg. County parole violation.
JEDIDIAH LYLY, Ukiah. DUI.
ANAKRISTINA MACKEY, Clearlake Oaks/Ukiah. Failure to appear.
NOELLE POTTER, Willits. Disobeying court order, failure to appear, probation revocation.
TANYA REID, Ukiah. Domestic abuse.
NIKOLAS RODRIGUEZ, Redwood Valley. DUI.
ANTHONY TANTARELLI, San Jose/Ukiah. Reckless driving with great bodily injury.
11 INFAMOUS NORTH COAST COLD CASES
Over the past half-century several unsolved murders have haunted the North Coast.
I’m an East Coaster who recently visited Northern California and hiked Bodega Head, part of the California state parks system. This compact park has a lot to offer — thrilling views of the craggy coastline, whale watching and stiff winds to rival the Outer Hebrides. Sadly, it’s also one of the worst maintained parks I’ve seen in this country.
The parking lot is cratered with potholes, bathrooms appear condemned, trash cans are rusting away, fencing is decrepit, and so on. Infrastructurally it appears it was last maintained during the Eisenhower administration.
More troublingly, no effort is made to control the flow of hikers, resulting in numerous ad hoc paths winding their way throughout the park, destroying vegetation and creating erosion. I know that both state and national park systems are financially stretched, but California should be able to do much better than this.
‘EXTREMISTS’ like Warren and Ocasio-Cortez are actually closer to what most Americans want
I AWOKE IN HOVE, exactly where I wished to be, and exited the bus with my usual stumbling haste. I had recently by chance read about George Everest, the man for whom Mount Everest was named, and learned that he was buried in St. Andrew's churchyard in Hove, and I thought I might look in on his grave. Until I read about old George, I had never paused to wonder how the mountain got its name. It turns out that it should never have been named for him. For one thing, he never saw it. Mountains, in India or elsewhere, hardly played a part in his life at all.
Everest was born in 1790 in either Greenwich or Wales (depending on which sources you credit), the son of a lawyer, and educated at military schools in Marlow and Woolwich before being packed off to the Far East, where he became a surveyor. In 1817 he was sent off to Hyderabad, in India, to serve as chief assistant on an enterprise known as the Great Trigonometrical Survey. The aim of the project was to survey an arc of longitude across India as a way of determining the circumference of the Earth. It was the life's work of an interestingly obscure fellow named William Lambton. Nearly everything about Lambton is uncertain. The "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography" says he was born some time in the period 1753 to 1969 --- an arrestingly broad range of possibility. Where he grew up is quite unknown, as are all the other details of his early life and education. All that can be said is that in 1781 he joined the army, went to Canada to survey its boundary with the new United States, and then was dispatched to India. There he got the idea of surveying his arc. He worked on it exhaustively for some twenty years before dying abruptly in northern India, in 1823 --- though exactly where, when, and of what are not known. George Everest merely completed the project. It was important work, but it went nowhere near the Himalayas.
Photos of Mr. Everest from late in life show a cheerless face almost perfectly encircled by white hair and beard. Life in India didn't much agree with him. He spent twenty years there more or less constantly unwell, suffering from typhus and chronic bouts of Yellapurum fever and diarrhea. He spent extended periods at home on sick leave. He returned permanently to England in 1843, long before the mountain was named. It is almost the only mountain in Asia to have an English name. British cartographers were generally fairly scrupulous about preserving native designations, but Mount Everest was known locally by a range of names -- Deodhunga, Devadhunga, Bairavathan, Bhairavlangur, Gnalthamthangla, Chomolungma, and several more -- so there wasn't one to fix on. The British most commonly called it Peak XV. No one at the time had any idea that it was the tallest mountain in the world, and therefore deserving of special attention, so when someone put Everest's name on the map it wasn't intended as a momentous gesture. In the end the Trigonometrical Survey was found to be largely inaccurate anyway, so Lambton and Everest died having achieved very little.
George Everest, incidentally, didn't pronounce his name Ev-er-est, as everyone says it today, but as EVE-rest -- just two syllables -- so that the mountain is not only misnamed but mispronounced. Everest died aged seventy-six in Hyde Park Gardens, London, but was carted off to Hove for burial. No one knows why. He had no known connection to the town or to any part of Sussex. I was greatly taken with the idea that of the most famous mountain in the world being named for a man who had no connection to it and whose name we don't even pronounce correctly. I think that's rather splendid.
— Bill Bryson, 2015; from "The Road to Little Dribbling"
Op-Ed: MLK Offers a Lesson on Why We Should Be Worried About Amazon and the FBI
WE USED TO ROOT for the Indians against the cavalry because we didn’t think it was fair in the history books that when the cavalry won it was a great victory, and when the Indians won it was a massacre.
— Dick Gregory
ESTIMATING THE UFO SITUATION
…A new project, code-named “Sign,” based at Wright Field (now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) outside Dayton, Ohio, was given the mandate to collect U.F.O. reports and assess whether the phenomenon was a threat to national security. With Russia ruled out as the source, the staff wrote a top secret “Estimate of the Situation,” concluding that, based on the evidence, U.F.O.s most likely had an interplanetary origin.
According to government officials at the time, the estimate was rejected by General Hoyt Vandenberg, the Air Force chief of staff. From then on, the proponents of the off-planet hypothesis lost ground, with Vandenberg and others insisting that conventional explanations be found.
Project Sign eventually evolved into Project Blue Book, with the aim of convincing the public that flying saucers could be explained.
Yet behind the scenes, authorities grappled with something sobering: well-documented U.F.O. encounters involved multiple trained observers, radar data, photographs, marks on the ground and physical effects on airplanes.
In 1952, the office of Maj. Gen. John Samford, the Air Force director of intelligence, briefed the F.B.I., saying it was “not entirely impossible that the objects sighted may possibly be ships from another planet such as Mars,” according to government documents. Air Intelligence had largely ruled out an earthly source, the F.B.I. memo reported…
…in 1967, a glowing red oval-shaped object hovered over Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, and all 10 of the facility’s underground nuclear missiles became disabled almost simultaneously while the U.F.O. was present, according to interviews with witnesses and official government reports. Technicians could find no conventional explanation…
…Clearly, government agencies continued to have some level of involvement in U.F.O. investigations in the decades following — and to the present. Despite government statements to the contrary, once-secret official documents include detailed reports of dramatic U.F.O. events abroad. Many cases at home were not investigated, including a 2006 event in which a disc-shaped object hovered over O’Hare Airport for more than five minutes and shot straight up through the clouds at an incredible speed…
(New York Times)
PISSING IN GLACIER BAY
A very pleasant young man with all the right tools installed a new toilet in my apartment not long after I moved in. A corporation named Glacier Bay, with its manufacturing probably in China, sold it into the American market. Thus, this product of world trade networks and vast, tentacled distribution systems effectively forces me to ponder the meaning of it all every time that I pee.
I would prefer to forego this pleasure. The throne, so called, should be a place of escape, if sought. Good heavens, we ought to be able to pee in peace!
I would like to live what is left of my life as free as possible from corporate influence, but such is hardly possible outside the tiny circle of the ideal. My wristwatch is made, or at least marketed, by Timex. The sleek machine into which I was inserted for an MRI was, I believe, made by General Electric. The plainer machine I type this on was manufactured and delivered by Amazon. If we were geese, we'd be well cooked by now. The ganja we perhaps go to for respite is probably still a respite, but unlikely for long.
Without welcoming ignorance, nearly always a bad move, we cannot, as products of our culture, escape this. Sadly, it is not too much to say that corporations truly own us. Our very existence serves the ends of unseen investors worldwide, giving an unexpected spin to the ideal of 'freedom.' Verily, this the constricted freedom of a Russian doll. One can only look out and wonder, what if?