Playing With Fire

It was a stupid thing to have done. Adam and I were playing with matches, lighting spider-webs on fire.

We burned down a shed and part of a fence. And we came pretty damned close to torching two homes.

It was the first and only time I got four whippings in one afternoon.

Nevada – The Newest Nanny-state

Nevada has entered the anti-cell phone nanny-state after lawmakers in the Assembly approved a measure banning cell phone calling or texting while driving beginning July 1. The vote was 24-17 without debate on Senate Bill 140.

Disgusting!

Under the bill, drivers will be allowed to make calls if they use a “hands-free” system while keeping both hands on the steering wheel. A driver cause violating the law could be fined $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense and a possible six-month suspension of their driver’s license for a third offense.

So much for personal responsibility and that rugged sense of individualism Nevada was known for at one time.

There are exemptions, however to SB 140. Emergency personnel and law enforcement officers will be allowed to use a cell phone while on duty, and motorists would be permitted to place cell phone calls to report or request assistance for a medical emergency, a safety hazard or criminal activity.

As a former risk manager, I have to ask: Are they going to create cell phone safety courses for police, fire and ambulance personnel and how much will this cost Nevada taxpayers?

Strangely — language pertaining to this question is absent from SB 140.
Lauren Weinstein of People for Internet Responsibility says banning the use of cell phone while driving makes politicians feel good about themselves. However, he adds, there are no studies that show hand-held cell phones are any more or less distracting than “hands free” devices.

How long will it be before Nevada lawmakers decide it’s a good idea to ban the children sitting in the backseat — after all, they can be a distraction and cannot be rendered “hands-free,” much to the wish of some parents.

Fighting Versus Self-Defense

In recent years, school district’s everywhere have gone into the politically correct zone by applying disciplinary measures to everybody involved. There seems to be few opportunities for both parents and students to appeal the rules which are written on paper — but set in stone.

And sometimes, you have to wonder, who the real bully is in these cases.

For example, Elko County school trustees have turned down a father’s appeal to lift a disciplinary sanction and let his class president daughter speak at her senior class graduation at Spring Creek High School. The board’s decision upholds Superintendent Jeff Zander’s original decision.
   
Savannah Amberson’s father, Ward Amberson, argues his daughter didn’t start the lunchroom fight in April at the high school. He maintains she’s being punished for being a victim.

“I’m not saying my daughter is perfect,” he says, “but she was defending herself after another student threw a punch at her face.”

I agree with him completely — there is a difference between fighting and defending yourself.

Amberson says his daughter is an honor student who has been involved in leadership for four years. Savannah will attend Boise State University in the fall on an academic scholarship.

I had the same problem when it came to Kyle defending himself, but the outcome was much different from Mr. Amberson’s results.

He was in second grade when a sixth grader started picking on him — knocking him to the ground and pushing him around. I told Kyle that he had my permission to defend himself and that’s exactly what he did.

Kyle had been enrolled in Karate class at the time and he used it only after being trapped against a fence on the school ground. He not only slugged the bully in the gut and face, he flipped the kid over his back and threatened to stomp on him if he got up.

Unfortunately, that’s all the teacher on duty saw and he wa immediately sent to the principal’s office and sent home. From there the principal decided he should have a few days off from school for his actions.

I disagreed.

The following Monday, I went to the principal’s office to discuss the situation with her. She told me over and over that the school had a none-violence policy that Kyle had violated.

I asked her to suspend, or whatever she called it, the other kid too then — but she refused.

Then I asked her if I might demonstrate for her the difference between fighting and defending one’s self. Much to my surprise she agreed.

The second her said yes though , I jumped on her desk and started kicking everything off of it and onto her. She eventually reached out and grabbed my leg to stop me.

I stopped at that moment and hopped down from her desk.

She was visibly shaking and cowered in the corner in her big leather chair. I calmly started picking stuff up off the floor and neatly placing it back on her now-bare desk.

“I think using your definition of violence, you need to be expelled,” I said to her, “after all you reached out and grabbed my leg to stop me from doing what I was doing.”

“No,” she replied, “I was defending myself!”

“My point exactly,” I returned.

Yeah, I could have been arrested for doing what I had done — but I did ask for her permission before I demonstrated my point. Kyle was allowed to return to school and she restored his clean record.

Long Time Del Norte Judge Dies

Former California state senator and Del Norte County Superior Court Judge Frank Petersen died May 23, 2011, in Fort Bragg from complications of a stroke. Petersen represented the 4th Senate District from 1962 to 1966 as a Democrat before being appointed by Gov. Edmund G. Brown as a judge for Del Norte.

Frank was born June 20, 1922, in a logging camp at the head waters of Alder Creek, Elk, Mendocino County, California. He attended Fort Bragg Elementary, Junior High, and High School, graduating in 1940. 

He served in the South Pacific for three years during World War II with the U.S. Navy Seabees. Following his honorable discharge in 1945, Frank returned to Fort Bragg and worked in the woods on the Crispin Ranch.

In the early 1950s, Frank practiced law, became the deputy district attorney and eventually the district attorney of Mendocino County.  In 1962, he was elected as state senator of the 4th District, which then included Lake and Mendocino counties, leaving office in 1966 when California’s Senate districts were redrawn.

Initially residents believed, that as a former Mendocino resident, he should have not been appointed to a judgeship in Del Norte county. Frank held the position for 22-years and went unopposed in every election following his appointment.

Twice I had to come before Judge Petersen for having done something wrong.  The first time in 1981, after throwing away $1200 from a restaurant I was working at as a bus-boy and dishwasher, the second in 1982 following the time Adam was knifed during a street brawl.

I can honestly say — Frank was fair in both situations and I always appreciated that.

Frank retired from Del Norte County’s Superior Court in 1988 and went into private practice in Crescent City. He also presided in courts all over Northern California as part of the Assigned Judges Program until 2009. 

He is survived by his wife, Marianne Petersen; children Gregory Petersen, Christine Petersen-Nave, Marcia Sanderson, Wanda Petersen-Alfven, Sandy Petersen-Miller, and Mary Petersen-Pool; brothers Kenneth Petersen, Robert Petersen, Allen Petersen and Richard Petersen; twenty grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Frank was 88.

In a Cloud of Dust

“We’re still twelve nautical miles out,” said the pilot, adding, “Besides with all that cloud cover, your probably couldn’t see a thing.”

The pilot was looking out the left side of the plane as spoke. So I looked too, hoping to catch a glimpse of the mountain turned volcano that hat been in the news for the past 30 days.

“Its ashame,” told myself.

The day had started early. I was up long before the sun, finishing the packing of my B-4 bag.

I hardly slept that night as I was getting ready to go on emergency leave.

Remembering back, I thought about the telephone call – the one where Dad said he had cancer and that he and Mom were separated and getting a divorce. It still left me sick to my stomach to think about these two things.

“Yeah, I’ve been sleeping in your old room,” Dad had told me.

“How long had that been going on?” I recalled thinking.

After driving through the base gates, I met Deanna at her home. She had a single bag to load jus’ like I did.

“Are you excited to be going home?” I asked.

“You bet,” she answered, “I hardly slept a wink last night.”

“Me either,” I returned.

We both laughed as I lifted her B-4 bag into the back of my Datsun station wagon. After climbing in behind the steering wheel, I started to pull away for the curb.

“Hold on!” Deanna suddenly said.

Stepping on the brakes, she jumped out of the car and disappeared through the front door of her home. In less than a minute, she was back in the car.

She smiled at me and said, “I thought I forgot to turn the stove off.”

“Oh,” was all I replied.

Within minutes we were at the airport, jus’ outside of Cheyenne. We quickly parked and grabbed our respective bags and rushed to report to the flight office. From there we were escorted to an awaiting C-130 Hercules.

“Ever been in one of these things?” I asked Deanna.

“No,” she answered.

“Good morning,” a voice from inside the aircraft said. It was the flight engineer, a Master Sergeant.

He point to the area where we would be sitting as he secured our luggage. I knew all to well that the red cargo net seating would not be all that comfortable during the long flight ahead.

“We won’t be getting into McChord until late,” the Master Sergeant said. Then he added, “We have to go to Luke first to drop off a Red Horse team then Mountain Home.”

At that moment the members of the U.S. Army’s crack engineering unit appeared. Each arrived with a green backpack and in formation. Again the flight engineer played host, welcoming them aboard the plane and securing their gear.

The last to be loaded was a mini-bulldozer. It was obvious at that point to me that the flight engineer was also a payload master as he carefully and precisely directed then secured the heavy machine in the planes hold.

After we had taken off and the nose of the aircraft was pointed in a southerly direction, I decided to get up and go into the cockpit. I told Deanna what I was doing and invited her along, as I got up and walked the few steps to the small ladder leading to the flight deck.

“No, thanks,” she replied.

“Howdy, Doc!” came a friendly voice.

It was a Major, who had jus’ been to my office and who had jus’ completed a flight physical. He offered me a hand and we shook.

Soon we landed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. That’s where the Red Horse team was off loaded onto a tarmac that was already unbearably hot.

Next we winged our way in a northerly direction, heading towards, Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. The weather was much cooler there and the wait was much longer.

The passenger list also increased by one as an Airman boarded the Washington bound plane. He introduced himself to me and then Deanna. The pair immediately hit it off as they started talking right away.

“I feel lucky getting this hop,” he told Deanna, “I jus’ spent the last 24-hours stuck in the terminal.”

Minutes later we were airborne.

“Hey, Doc, come forward, the Major wants to talk to you,” the Master Sergeant directed.

I climbed up the ladder leading to the flight deck.

“You were asking about seeing Mount Saint Helens, earlier,” the Major said.

“Yes, sir,” I responded.

“Unfortunately,” the Major commented, “The weather report says its overcast.”

“Damn,” I said aloud.

I sat there for a couple of minutes before deciding to return to my cargo-net seat. I was hoping that the weather report was wrong – but knew they very, rarely ever were.

Getting up, I leaned down and poked my head through the doorway. I was surprised to see Deanna kissing the Airman we had jus’ picked up from Mountain Home.

Having seen them kissing – I returned to the jump-seat and stared out the window at the mountains sliding by underneath us. I felt that terrible pang of jealousy thrust through my chest.

Time seemed to drag to a stand still as I sat there trying to think of anything but what I had jus’ witnessed. I did my best to console myself with the fact that Deanna and I weren’t an exclusive couple – so I had no reason to feel hurt.

Conversation slowly increased in the cabin with the main topic being the landing. I knew we were getting close to McChord Air Force Base, even thought I couldn’t see a thing.

“Hey, Major, I lost ground,” said the co-pilot.

“What?” responded the pilot.

He reached over and pulled his headphones from the hook that held them. Then he pulled them over his ears.

Meanwhile, the co-pilot continued to call out to ground control. It was obvious to me that no one was answering.

Since I was sitting in the jump-seat, I decided to put a pair of headphones on so I could listen in on what was happening. They had been setting on the flight engineers desk, unused.

I heard nothing but the continued hiss of static.

Suddenly the Major shouted, “What in the hell is that?!

I looked straight ahead to see what it was the pilot was so excited about. Ahead of us was the flat, feathery surface of the clouds as we skimmed over top of them.

At first that was all I could see. To me the clouds appeared featureless.

Then something caught my eyes. It was a dark cloud that seemed to boil up from the otherwise white surface.

I felt my pulse start to race as it pushed up higher and higher through the clouds.

“Put your visor on,” the Major directed the co-pilot.

“Do you think it’s a nuclear blast?” the co-pilot asked.

“I don’t know,” was the Major’s answer.

Suddenly, I felt a wave of nausea wash over me. I continued to look at the dark gray cloud as it mushroomed skyward above the cloudy ceiling.

For the next few of minutes, the pilot and co-pilot flew head long towards the dark mass. They spoke to each other only now, and only about the aircraft, flying and the gray mushroom-like cloud.

By this time the Master Sergeant has returned to the flight deck and had taken his seat. That left me standing on the flight deck jus’ in front of the doorway.

I didn’t want to return to my seat as I was afraid of what I might see.

Meanwhile the air was beginning to grow more turbulent with each passing minute. Suddenly the aircraft pitched hard to the left and then upward.

The movement slammed me into the wall then tossed me backwards. I struck my head on the door frame as I literally fell off the flight deck and down the ladder.

“Man, are you okay?” called out the Master Sergeant.

“Yeah,” I answered, “I think I’ll go get buckled in.”

“Are you sure you’re okay,” he asked me again.

I answered, “I’ll survive.”

By that time, I was busy strapping myself into one of the red cargo net seats. The aircraft bounced and shuttered violently in every direction.

Air sickness over took the Airman from Idaho. He vomited hard several times to his left.

Soon Deanna followed suit. She heaved between her legs.

Meanwhile I swallowed hard and gulped a large breath of air to keep from joining the pair. Over and over again I gagged and nearly threw up.

“I’ve had rough rides before,” I thought, “but never like this.”

Looking out the window, I could see nothing but gray clouds as they rushed over the aircraft. I was sick to my stomach from the turbulence and my head ached from where I had smashed it into the door frame.

I tried to concentrate on the sound of the aircraft’s engines as they seemed to be coughing repeatedly.

Then I grew vaguely aware of a new noise. It sounded more frightening than the coughing engines.

It was a loud scraping noise, followed by two huge thumping sounds. My fear ebbed as I recognized what they were.

“Hang on,” I shouted, “We’re landing!”

The three of us gripped the netting and held tightly as the Hercules made contact with the runway. The engines screamed and aircraft groaned as the brakes were applied. Within minutes the plane was taxiing to a stop.

The Master Sergeant climbed down the ladder and threw back the latch, opening the side door, then calmly announced, “Mount Saint Helens jus’ blew her top. Welcome to Washington.”

The three of us looked at one another in shock as Deanna asked, “Did we fly over it or something?”

“Jus’ about,” was his answer as we stepped out into the ash-filled air.

Dog and Donkey Show

The Israeli government is not happy with President Barack Obama after he suggested Israel return to pre-1967 borders. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the original border when Israel was only about eight miles wide, is indefensible considering today’s technologies.

Then while at the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee meeting in Washington, D.C., Netanyahu was joined by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

“The place where negotiating will happen must be at the negotiating table — and nowhere else,” Reid declared in his speech to AIPAC,  “Those negotiations will not happen — and their terms will not be set — through speeches, or in the streets, or in the media.”

Reid made clear he viewed it as unfair to ask Israel to return to its contours before the Six-Day War, when Israel conquered territory from Jordan, Egypt and Syria.

“A fair beginning to good-faith talks means that Israel cannot be asked to agree to confines that would compromise its own security,” Reid stated, “The parties that should lead these negotiations should be the parties at the center of this conflict – and no one else.”

The idea of Reid disagreeing openly with Obama is refreshing from witnessing his usual ass-kissing — but truth be told — we’ve seen this dog and donkey show before. Reid was trotted out there by the administration to contradict Obama so American Jews wouldn’t abandon the Democrat party.

Insomnia

As children we battle with our parents when they want us to take a nap. As adults we tend to relish the moments when we can lay down and take a short siesta.

Finally, as we grow older — approaching the elderly years — we discover a real need to get an extra half hour of sleep during the middle of our day when possible. But then there are nights and mornings anymore that no matter how hard we try — sleep simply evades us.

Aging and insomnia — its a real ugly bitch.

Post- Apocolyptic Monday

Sincerely, and I mean this with all my heart, for those looking forward to the Rapture, a new body and a clean soul, I’m sorry it didn’t happen for you. However, end-of-the-world prognostication is neither an art nor a science.

The First Commandment reads:  “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:1-3)

Thus one is prohibited from “worshipping” money, sex, success, beauty, status, or another human, etc. This is where Harold Camping falls on the God-O-Meter of faith.

Because he is “religious” leader, some people assume he has a direct line to the Almighty. He has no more a direct line than you or me.

He claims to have “found a code hidden” in the Holy Bible that showed him a specific date. And now it can be said that hidden code was a falsehood.

As a believer in Jesus Christ — I’m willing to go on record as saying  the hidden code, and it’s revelation, to Camping is nothing more than the trickery of Satan. Period.

This led Camping to spend millions of dollars on billboards across the nation, trumpeting his message. The sad thing is — not one hungry mouth was directly fed and not one homeless person was directly sheltered by that cash spent on advertising.

At least five people I know truly believed that they were about to find themselves in Heaven having been Raptured. One of those five people tell me they gave over all their worldly assets to the preachers radio network.

That smacks of a scam. Furthermore, MinistryWatch.com, which grades Christians organizations on financial transparency, Family Stations, Inc., which does business as Family Radio, which Camping founded, has a transparency grade of “C.”

I’d like to add — Camping’s actions have painted all Christian with the same brush — so look for your faith to be lampooned by the media, comedians and such.

There must be something that can be learned from this over-publicized, much laughed at and joked about event that each person can take home. I think that lesson will be different for each of us.

For me, I’m considering it a dry-rehearsal for events much ballyhooed by those infatuated with the Mayan calendar. For those believers, the world either ends December 21, 2012 or we shift into a new plane of existence within the universe. 

Sigh…

I can only deal with one belief system per life-time.

Absolutely Positive

Peter Adair died in 1996, five years after releasing his independent documentary, “Absolutely Positive.” It is a film about the lives of eleven people and their experiences living with AIDS.

For some reason I was watching the local PBS station when it came on. As I sat on the couch of our little apartment living room, watching this documentary, I saw a face I knew all too well.

My reaction was to jump up and scream, “No f–king way!”

Sitting at our dining table, my bride asked me what was the matter. I told her: “I jus’ saw Mom and Del on T.V.”

“What?” she asked as if not believing me.

She then sat down next to me to watch. By this time I was shaking from fear, grief and a lot of anger.

My mind raced — how could she not say anything to me? Why didn’t she warn me about this movie? How did she get it? How long would she live?

“Holy shit! What a way to find out,” I recall thinking.

I tried calling her and Del, but there was no answer.

Later, I found out they were at a premier party for the film. That, to me, was like rubbing salt in a fresh wound.

Being head strong — I decided to not speak to Mom for a long while afterwords. I refused to make myself available to talk if she called and I failed to answer her letters.

I made it ALL about me — rather than who and what it was really all about.

It wouldn’t be until after Kyle was born in mid-1992 that I decided it was time to let “bygones-be-bygones.” After all she had a deadly disease and what time I would have with her and Del would be precious.

Del passed away in 1997, while Mom lived until 2002. Neither one of their death certificates indicate their deaths were caused by the virus.

(Ed. note — My step-dad, Del is in the upper left corner of the poster, while Mom’s picture in the lower right corner. As for the film, it can be purchased through Amazon. com or your favorite online movie retailer.)

Walking a Mile

It started out as a project for our scouting den in order to earn a merit badge. But by the time it was over — it was so much more — that it got my ass kicked.

There was a particular family which lived in the Glen. Their home had no electricity, or phone service and what running water they had, was cold.

All their meals were cooked over an open flame from the fire pit built into their front room. It’s also the place that they slept as it was also the warmest place in the house, especially during the winter months.

To many people, they were poor — and at the time I thought the same. That’s why I was excited when it was decided we should help this family by providing them with boxes of food jus’ before the Thanksgiving holiday.

It was amazing to see that every boy in our den had filled two “banana boxes,” full of non-perishable foods to be delivered a week or so ahead of the holiday. The plan was simple — we’d load up Dad’s truck and with a caravan in tow — drop the food off at their home, shake hands and leave.

The plan went off without a hitch — until the following day at school. That’s when the oldest boy, who was a grade ahead of me, singled me out and beat the crap out of me, leaving me sitting in the corner of the restroom.

He was angry that I had embarrassed him by bringing the food to his home. He knew Dad was the area scout master and thus, concluded it was my fault that his family was humiliated by such a unneccessary gift.

Until that day, it never occurred to me to look at such a situation from the eyes of the person I thought I was helping. Turns out walking a mile in someone else’s moccasins — has two meanings.

It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

Attitude Adjustment

Working as an order-taker for a company has never been my idea of fun employment. However, this is exactly what I found myself doing shortly after the radio station I was working for sold to another company.

As a general rule, or at least every time I’ve been employed at a station that has sold, most everyone gets a pink slip. While I think it’s a piss-poor way to operate a business – that’s the way things go.

So in between radio jobs, I landed a position with the Regional Transportation Commission’s CitiLift. It is the Reno and Sparks area’s Para-transit system and at the time we were located on Hymer Avenue.

Originally, I was hired as a van washer, but because I had some radio skills, the yard manager went to the general manager and I was hired to answer phones and dispatch radio calls. It wasn’t a bad job – unless you were the only one working in the office at night.

While it didn’t often happen – it did occur to me at least once. The night it did, I was given a lesson in customer service and good manners.

While attempting to handle both the radio, responding to drivers as they completed their routes, manually insert trip-tickets for passengers, I also had to answer the telephones and make reservations for people needing a ride. Needless to say – by the time I was nearing the end of my shift – I was feeling angry at the system.

Now I don’t recall the elderly woman’s name – but I do remember what she said to me over the phone as I lost my temper at the situation: “Tommy, I am so ashamed of you.”

She didn’t yell or say it in a mean manner. No, she simply said it and let it hang there.

Immediately, I apologized and corrected my bad attitude. Her pointed statement taught me a lesson: I am dealing with a person, who has feelings too and not a statistic.

I still get an uneasy feeling in my gut every time I think about that night.

Surviving Anita

The small sailing boat’s bow raised high into the air, hanging silent against the gray sky, before dropping into the bottom of the swell. The fall caused the timber to give a loud crack as if the vessel were coming apart plank by plank.

Greg shouted at me, “Grab tight!”

As quick as he shouted, I gripped the metal cable along the side of the boat that made up part of the railing. Then for the uncounted time the sail boat rose high against the dark waves and crashed down the backside.

Time and again, I found myself coughing up the salt water that entered my nose and mouth, only to find myself taking in more as the waves roared over the deck. I turned my head away of from the rushing water but the cold liquid always managed to push its way into my nostrils and between my lips.

Greg, the Captain, was at the tiller fighting to keep the vessel into the waves. He knew that if he allowed the wooden craft to drift sideways we’d be swept from the deck and would soon die in the icy Pacific Ocean.

He shivered but held tight to the handle of the only thing keeping the boat on course. Not even our wet suits were keeping us warm or dry.

The older man was leaned his entire body against the stick as the boat rose upward yet again. I wanted to go help Greg with the steering but knew Greg had me in the bow of the craft for a reason.

Numbing cold and the constant spray slowly caused a feeling of exhaustion. It had been hours since I had slept and my mind wandered from the danger I was in, to a point before we left the safety of Crescent City’s harbor.

*******

Looking for extra work, as my reservist pay was not enough, I had been down to the docks. I needed the extra side job to fill that gap that threatened to leave me both homeless and hungry.

My most recent deployment had been a three-week jaunt half a world away and I had missed the sailing of the crab fleet by three days. I’d been promised a spot on board vessel but as it turned out, the Captain could not wait for my return as there was too much money at stake to wait even a few hours before putting out to sea.

Standing by the dock offices, I watched the horizon, hoping to see a returning boat and possibly getting a chance to help off load some newly captured cargo. At the bottom of ramp, two slips to my right was a man laboring with a sanding block along the deck of a wooden sail boat named, “Anita.”

I watched as the man aboard the 40 foot vessel pressed the sanding block back and forth. It occurred to me that I should offer to help him for some cash and then I could say that at least I had been working.

“Need any day labor?” I asked.

The man continued to sand the area as he looked up. At first he didn’t say anything, he jus’ kept working. A minute or so later he stopped and looked at me standing on the dock.

“I could use a hand getting her ready,” the man finally answered.

Then he said, “I want to be underway by this Sunday.”

Then he tossed the piece of wood with the gritty sand paper wrapped around it to me. I clamored aboard the craft as the man, who called himself Greg, instructed me on what he needed done.

“It needs to be sanded down hard especially along the joints and seams,” Greg instructed, “As soon as that’s done and the dust is cleaned away, it has to be varnished.”

Greg told me that as the sanding was being done, he’d start behind me with the varnish. This would make the job go faster.

He offered me three hundred dollars if I’d stay and get the job done. I agreed to the terms.

The next four days we worked in tandem in order to get the deck sanded down and resealed in a thick coat of varnish. On Saturday the new sails were delivered and hosted into place.

This was work I wasn’t used to doing. It was both a learning situation and adventurous and we worked late that last day.

Finally the sanding and vanishing was completed and Greg, being true to his word handed me three one-hundred dollar bills. After shaking hands, I pushed the bills into my jean pocket.

I stepped off the Anita and started for the gang way that led to the dock office, feeling both a sense of pride and loss as I started on my walk home.

The gulls were crying even though it was dark and I also heard the pay phone which was bolted to the dock offices outside wall, ringing. I hurried to answer it, knowing many of the fishermen used it to get messages and talk to family members from time to time.

The voice on the other end of the phone was very serious as he asked for Greg by name calling him Captain. I shouted for the older man.

“Phone for you Greg,” I hollered.

Greg stopped what he was doing and hurried up the pay phone. I noticed that he had a worried look on his face, the wrinkles appearing deep in his forehead.

I handed the phone over and stepped back, but was slow to turn and walk away, being curious about the call and the conversation.

“Hey Tommy,” Greg shouted.

Turning around, I saw Greg walking towards me. I waited, not answering him.

“Are you interested in making a hundred bucks a day?” Greg asked.

“Sure,” I answered with some hesitation.

Then Greg explained that the boat’s owner had decided not to come up to Crescent City to help sail the vessel back to Newport Beach. Greg needed a deck hand and offered the job to me.

Both the idea of a voyage and the money appealed to me and I said yes to the offer. We agreed to meet at the boat by 4:30 the next morning.

*******

The forty foot vessel, which had felt large at one point, now seemed like a speck as it was knocked about by the waves. I felt both trapped and scared by the churning seas.

The craft lifted quickly as a swell passed beneath us, then dropped violently as we crested the huge wave. Still Greg kept his body pressed against the handle of the tiller.

Without warning the boat lifted nearly straight up, the bow pointing towards the cloudy skies. I was unprepared for the sudden vertical lift and my hands slipped from the railing.

Immediately, I found myself tumbling downward through the rigging, slamming into the main sail’s pole. I bounced off the mast as I attempted to grab a hold of it, but jus’ then the boat changed position and heaved to its right and dropping as sudden as it rose.

The unexpected movement caused me to twist around the mast and slip downward. I found myself airborne for less than a second, then crashing hard, head first through the top hatch to the cabin below deck.

The waves rushed in and over my body. I smashed into the table breaking it from its stand. Items like books and a pile of papers spread around the cabin creating an even further confusing mess as I struggled to figure out up from down.

Meanwhile Greg held tight to the tiller. He had managed to lash himself to the left side of the boats railing using a small piece of rope he had secured to the stern of the vessel for jus’ such an event.

Within seconds the vessel righted itself and I found my way to the stairs and climbed out of the galley. I tried to smile at Greg, as if to say I wasn’t worried, but it didn’t work.

The older man could see my fear and shouted, “While you were down there, did you make some coffee?”

The question caught me off guard and I found myself laughing along with Greg at the joke. It broke the tension for the moment and helped set aside the thought that I could have been swept over board and into the frigid ocean waters.

With each wave, water poured into the below deck. It was now up to me to repair the hard plastic hatch I had fallen through in order to protect the “Anita”, from taking on too much water.

Quickly as possible, I scrambled back down into the cabin and found the tool box which remained in place because it had been bolted down. I grabbed the hammer and a box of nails and hurried back up topside.

While Greg steered into the waves and bow pitched upward then fell down the mountainous swells, I went to work making emergency repairs.

First, I pulled open the back-up sail hold and yanked on the off-white canvas. It unfurled easier than I thought it would which caused me to stumble and fall back onto my butt.

However, I didn’t slow down, instead I rolled over and laid my body on the large piece of cloth and pulling my knife from my pocket, began cutting a large square from the now useless sail. I didn’t have time to measure the piece; instead I cut out an area larger than I thought I’d need.

*******

Rolling over, I turned off my alarm. I laid there for a moment and thought about the sail boat and the voyage that was jus’ ahead of me, realizing I had done a number of things before but this was one thing I had no idea about.

Getting out of bed, I quickly dressed, jeans, tee-shirt, sweat shirt and a pair of tennis shoes. Then I went out and made a cup of instant coffee and stood by the kitchen sink drinking it.

Within half an hour I was walking down the street towards the docks. My path took me by the Catholic Church and the St. Joe’s parochial school, which I had attended at one time.

Knowing that I had long since fallen away from the church, I paused and dropped to my knees anyway. I bowed my head.

“God I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into here, but please keep me safe and let me come home alive,” I said in a little prayer.

I got back to my feet and continued on my way to the boat dock and the “Anita.”

Greg was already there and he looked at his wrist watch, “I was afraid you had bailed on me.”

“So where do we start?” I asked feeling a little pained by Greg’s remark.

There were a couple of boxes and a large bag on the dock. Greg pointed at the boxes and told me to take them down below and stow the items inside the boxes in the cupboards.

Meanwhile Greg hauled the large bag onto the deck and unzipped it. It was filled with sailing canvass and he started placing it in a three-by-two box behind the hatch cover which I was going in and out of with food from the boxes.

As soon as the little boat was loaded, Greg called for me to untie lines that held the vessel in the slip. As I undid the ropes, the small engine coughed to life and the boat pulled smartly from between the docks and started for the harbor mouth.

It would be about three days before either of us would set foot on dry land.

The weather service reported a low pressure area was moving in along the coast but it was farther south. Greg said it would be on shore before we reached it and it would cause little concern for us and the sail craft.

*******

The deck raised the fell beneath me as I began hammering the stubby nails into place. I wanted to cover the shattered opening with the heavy canvas and prevent water from filling the cabin as much as possible.

My hands were numb from the chill of the wind, and the sting of the rain and sea water. This made it hard to hold onto the hammer and furthermore, every time I struck the head of the hammer against the tack driving it into the outer edge of the hatch, it would sting.

Still I pushed myself to complete the job.

It had taken nearly three hours and I was feeling exhausted and every bone and muscle in my right hand ached from the bitter cold. I looked at Greg again and again seeing that he too was getting exhausted.

At last, I tucked the hammer into me belt and crawled over to Greg. I moved clumsily into the padded seat to the right of the tiller and placed my hands on the stick, helping to take some of the strain off of Greg.

The weight of the rudder pressed into my body as Greg gave in to the help. It had been more than 40 hours since the storm first braced us and the sail boat.

I looked at the expressionless face of Greg, “Thought you said this was going to be an easy job?”

Greg failed to see the humor in my comment, so I decided to remain quiet.

The waves continued to heave and drop beneath the craft. But the two of us remained side by side on the tiller waiting for the storm to let up.

Another twenty hours passed before the skies showed a decrease in clouds and rain. Even the wind died down making the swells less treacherous. We had literally weathered the worse of the storm and knew it when a patch of blue skies showed itself jus’ above the horizon.

*******

Shaking Captain Greg’s hand, I prepared to board the bus home. It would be a 10- hour ride back up the coast to Crescent City, but I was looking forward to the rest as my muscles were sore from the two-day storm we encountered aboard the “Anita.”

The boat’s owner paid me a bonus for the trouble, doubling my original fee. The extra cash would come in handy and help pay my rent for the coming month.

It was good to be back on solid land and I couldn’t wait to get home. I knew I’d soon have orders to head overseas again and I was certain that they would have very little to do with storms at sea, but it would involve a storm jus’ of a different sort.

Rapture Saturday — Really?

If you believe what a small group of non-denominational Christians are preaching, the rapture is coming this Saturday. If you don’t — you probably fall in those who think the prediction is nothing more than a clever advertising campaign designed to get people to listen to a certain radio program.

For those who believe the prediction, which was calculated by Harold Camping of Family Radio Worldwide, it’s a day that will be marked with an earthquake and ending in the “taking”  the faithful to Heaven. Camping apparently decoded verses in the Bible and did a little math to come up with the May 21st date.

Problem is, as non-believers like to point out, he miscalculated the end of the world before. However for believers like me — I mean believing in God and not rapture predictions — this Saturday could be like most Saturday’s.

Believers point out in the bible that there are clear references to the end-of-world predicts. “Therefore keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matthew 24:42) and then in Matthew 24:44, Jesus says, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

For me the most telling part of the biblical literature comes from Matthew 25:12-13. It reads, “But He answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

The “He” in the verse refers to Jesus and not Harold Camping.  To put this into context —  if Jesus couldn’t tell his disciples, how can Camping claim to have the information?

Jus’ asking.

As for this Saturday, whether the rapture comes or not — I expect to be here.  And should it occur and you’re taken up — then good-bye and pray for me.

Besides, President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will save us and the world too.

General Disappointment

It was a story told to me more than once and which I believed for years. That is until I started digging around for some history on the person I consider to be one of the most important person with my last name.

Dad claimed William Orlando Darby was a second cousin or something along those lines. I believed it was true because the future brigadier General was raised in Fort Smith, Arkansas which is jus’ “down the road a piece” from Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Darby was a U.S. Army officer during World War II. He led the famous Darby’s Rangers which evolved into the U.S. Army’s Rangers. His father, Percy Darby, owned a print shop, and his mother, Nell, was a homemaker and he had a younger sister named Doris.

Bill Darby was born February 8, 1911 and graduated from West Point June 13, 1933, a second lieutenant. On April 30, 1945, a German shell exploded near Colonel Darby’s location and a piece shrapnel tore a dime-sized hole in his heart and he was dead within minutes.

Darby received many awards, including two Distinguished Service Crosses, a Silver Star for “Gallantry in Action,” a Purple Heart, and a Combat Infantry Badge, as well as the British Distinguished Service Order. A week later, President Truman promoted Darby to Brigadier General.

Named for him are the USNS General William O. Darby, a U.S. Army troop ship, which is now retired. Cisterna, Italy, has a Darby School, and Fort Smith, the sister city to Cisterna, the senior high school he attended is now called the William O. Darby Junior High.

Darby was originally buried in a military cemetery outside of Cisterna, Italy, but on March, 11, 1949, his body was returned to Arkansas and reinterred at the Fort Smith National Cemetery which is jus’ a few blocks from his boyhood home. I visited that boyhood home, at 311 General Darby Street (formerly East 8th Street.)

Unfortunately, the home, now a museum, was closed that day. Needless to say I was a bit disappointed in myself that I hadn’t taken better care to find out the site’s hours.

And to this day I have in my book collection, “We Led the Ways: Darby’s Rangers,” written by Darby and William Baumer and “The Spearheaders,” authored by James Altieri, a member of Darby’s original Rangers.

Unfortunately for me, Brigadier General William O. Darby is not related to my family.

Chasing Ancestors

“Harriet A. Darby wife of Peter Darby and mother of Mrs. Thomas Duffy and Thomas Darby, died May 9, 1891. Survivors , husband, son and daughter.” So reads a small article from a long ago newspaper from Crescent City.

As far as I can figure out Thomas Duffy was employed by his brother, James, whose listed as the proprietor of the Palace Saloon. He also worked with another brother named John.

Thomas is also listed in the 1880 census for Del Norte as a Justice of the Peace along with a Dougald S. Sartwell. I’m also unable at this time to find out what Thomas’s wife name happens to be.

This seems peculiar as Peter Darby, who was one of the original founders of Crescent City also owned a saloon. It was known as Darby and Donovan.

A fourth brother, Owen was a foreman with Hobbs, Wall and Company. I found this information in an 1885 county directory.

The business of Hobbs, Wall & Co. employed two hundred men. Their property included the mill, a shingle and box factory, four and a half miles of railroad, a large general store and a controlling interest in the principal wharf and steamship business. In 1883 their mill turned out 8,250,000 feet of lumber and 8,000,000 is about the average output.

According to an article from either the Crescent City News, Argus or the Del Norte Record, “Mrs. Darby had been sick for some weeks during which time she suffered greatly. Her complaint was general debility and from the first but slight expectation of her recovery were entertained.”

By the way, this is how the Del Norte Triplicate gained its name. In 1909 John Child’s owner of the Crescent City News sold the publication to Tommy Thompson, who eventually consolidated it with Argus and Del Norte Record.

As for Mrs. Darby, the article adds, she was born in New Hampshire and was 63 years old. “She was an old resident of this place, having come here in the early days with her husband,” it finishes.

So far I cannot locate any information on Thomas Darby, Peter and Harriet’s son. Also there appears to be no photographic record of any of the founding Darby family in existence.

Heading Westward

Sometimes one piece of information can open a flood gate to a rush of facts, which can nearly drown the person looking at it. That’s what has happened in the last couple of days after I was asked to add any information I had gathered on Bridgeville, California to the town’s webpage.

It started with the last name Hufford — my Grandma Leola Olivera’s maiden name. I still haven’t gotten back to Bridgeville’s webpage.

David Hufford was born July 26, 1828 in the state of Kentucky. He was the son of Jacob Hufford Sr. and Elizabeth Ann Allen and was married twice. 

His first wife was Mary Morris, with whom he had seven children: Walter Sylvester, David, Elizabeth, Ida Rose, William, Frank L., and George Washington.

George Washington is my grandmother’s father. He died in 1950 or there about. And one of Great-grandpa George’s brothers, Frank has lengthy Humboldt County biography, which reads:

“One of the old-time settlers in the vicinity of Orick, Cal., Frank L. Hufford has made for himself a reputation there as an enterprising business man, and liberal and active in the furthering of any project for the betterment of the community where he resides. Mr. Hufford is truly a native son of California, having been born in Contra Costa county, this state, November 24, 1866, the son of David Hufford, a native of the state of Ohio, and grandson of David Hufford, a pioneer of this state who came from Ohio across the plains in 1852, and made his home in Butte county, where his death occurred.

The father of Mr. Hufford was a cooper by trade, who made the journey to California in 1849, three years earlier than his father, and followed mining in the Sierras, in which occupation he attained a good measure of success. Later he bought land and improved a farm in Contra Costa county, where he was the owner of about seven hundred acres of property whereon he raised wheat and grapes.

In 1877 he removed to Humboldt county, locating for one year at Gold Bluff, near where the town of Orick is now, going thence to Trinidad; in the same county, where he bought twenty acres of land, selling the same after four years and locating at Arcata, where he became the owner of sixty acres, which property likewise he sold, removing to Alliance and thence again to Arcata, where he died at the age of seventy-seven years. In 1888 he made butter kegs for Griffin & Swan at Gold Bluff (now Orick), for the shipping of their butter to the San Francisco market.

Of the five children by David Hufford’s first marriage, his son Frank was the fourth in age, his mother dying when he was only three years old, his brothers and sisters being: Walter, an attorney-at-law, who now lives in Oregon ; Lydia, now Mrs. Sweem, of Stockton, Cal.; Rosa, now Mrs. Ferril ; and George, who resides at Bridgeville, Cal.

By the father’s second marriage, there were four other children. Frank L. Hufford grew up on his father’s farm. He was deprived of school advantages, but by self-study and observation he has become a well-informed man, possessed of noteworthy business acumen.

At the age of eleven years he moved with his family to Humboldt county, where he assisted his father in his work, also being employed on a dairy in Orick for five years and working in the woods for four years. In 1897 Mr. Hufford started to work independently, renting a ranch from Peter Hansen where he conducted a dairy for three years.

His wife received from her father’s estate eighty acres of wild land, at the mouth of Redwood creek, two miles from Orick, which Mr. Hufford improved. He also took up a homestead of one hundred sixty acres within one-fourth miles, to which he added by a purchase, thirty-eight acres more, thus becoming the owner of two hundred seventy acres in all, upon which he engaged in the dairy business and the raising of stock.

Mr. Hufford was likewise employed for six or seven years in hauling freight from Bald Hills to Arcata with a six-horse team, and he has been for the past eighteen years overseer of roads in District No. 5, which comprised the country for fifteen miles around Orick, also being school trustee of the same town for a period of time, in all amounting to sixteen years. In his political interests he is a member of the Republican party.

Mr. Hufford’s first marriage was to Miss Ella Montgomery, a native of Humboldt county, who died leaving him two children: Floyd, of Bridgeville, this county, and Mrs. Josephine Gallon, of Clinton, Mo.

The second marriage of Mr. Hufford, to Miss Myr Griffin, took place at Eureka, June 18, 1892. Like himself, his wife is a native of California, having been born at the mouth of Redwood creek, near the present town of Orick, her father, George Griffin, having been a native of Pennsylvania, who came to this state as a pioneer.

After being engaged in gold mining at Gold Bluff for a time Mr. Griffin took up land on Redwood creek, where he also followed mining, later engaging in the dairy business upon his ranch, and afterwards taking Robert Swan into partnership, living here until his death occurred ; and here his daughter, later Mrs. Hufford, was brought up.

Mr. and Mrs. Hufford became the parents of seven children : Ida ; Blanche, wife of John Francis, a farmer living near the mouth of Redwood creek ; Vina, Walter, Leslie, Elmer and Kenneth, all of whom, with the exception of Mrs. Francis, make their home with their parents in Orick.

Mr. Hufford has built a five-thousand-foot sawmill on his property, where he engages in the manufacture of lumber, and also runs a blacksmith shop on the place. He. also engaged in mining near Gold Bluff, where he owns one hundred fifty acres, with an ocean front of three-fourths mile, and is extracting gold from the black sand on the beach.

By his business enterprises and public-spirited acts Mr. Hufford has won a high place in the esteem of all who know him. He attributes no small degree of his success to his wife, who by her aid and encouragement has been an able helpmeet in his different enterprises.”

Now back to David.

After his first wife died, he married Mary Melcher, with whom he had six more children. They are Mary, Catharine, Melvina, David Fred, Tessie, and Mantie E.

Elizabeth Ann Allen, David’s mother was born in the month of April 1803, the same year Lewis and Clark set out to explore the continent. She died in Butte County, California on October 13, 1880 and is buried in the Cherokee Cemetery in Oroville.

She and Jacob parented nine children. Their names are Sally, Surrilda, Nancy Jane, David, James, Jacob, Elizabeth, John, and Eliza

As for David Hufford, he died in Arcata on April 3, 1906. His grave can be found in the Greenwood Cemetery in Arcata.

Life in the Grand Army

The town is often threatened by forest fires, most recently on July 29, 2006. Much of the town was evacuated for two days, but the fire was later controlled with little damage due to the efforts of federal, state and local firefighters.

That’s about the time I was traveling along Highway 299, having been to the coast for a short visit with my sister and her family. I was forced to stop for a little while as a parade of fire engines and water tenders rolled their way north to the blaze burning up some few thousand acres of Redwood forest.

So in order to kill some time – which I hate to do – I strolled up the sidewalk to a little diner and had a plate of eggs and potatoes. After washing them down with some coffee, I started back to my truck.

Along the way I spotted a sign advertizing a “wide assortment of antiques.” I’m like a moth drawn to a flame when it comes to looking at collectibles.

The store was located in the ante-room belonging to the historic Weaverville Hotel. There were glass counters with old skeleton keys, tea cups and saucers, thimbles and such.

But at the back of the room – was a shelf full of older, hard bound books. I found myself looking at them with interest.

It didn’t take me too long to find one that really interested me. It was a personal account of the Civil War by a man who fought in it: Robert W. Patrick.

I thumbed through the first few pages gentle.

“Knapsack and Rifle,” was published in Philadelphia in 1886 by Calypso Publishing Company, which would make sense knowing more veterans of that era were easterner. So I found it intriguing to say the least that this book would be found so far west – even after so many years.

I had to buy it.

When I got home I did a little bit of research only to find little to nothing about Patrick. And there is even less noted about the illustrator, E.B. Williams.

It’s a shame there’s no history to be found directly on either of these two people. I haven’t given up though as there is a chance I’ll stumble upon that one key piece of information that’ll unlock the whole story of both the author and the artist.

Finally, I thought I had a real bargain at 30-bucks for the book. But in my excitement and haste, I discovered after looking at the small set of numbers written in pencil on the inside of the tome, I paid ten-times that amount.

Needless to say – my wife was a bit ticked off at me for not double-checking the credit card slip before signing it. Oh, how I hate expensive lessons.

Here Comes the Judge

Walter Sylvester Hufford was born September 7, 1853, in Charleston, Lee County, Iowa  and passed away May 19, 1931, Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon.  He was elected as Corvallis County Recorder  and later as a Corvallis County Judge. Prior to becoming a judge he was also Corvallis County District Attorney

Walter Sylvester is the son of David Hufford and Mary Morris. He married Martha M. Graham in 1876 and together had four children: Edwin Joseph, Walter Graham, Jessie, and Bessie K.

Martha died sometime before 1920, and Walter remarried Mary H. However, I have been unable so far  to find a maiden name for Mary.

Walter was my Great grandpa George Washington Hufford’s older brother. I think that would make him my great-uncle — but I get all that family relationship stuff confused — so I could be wrong.

Anyway, I located an article about Walter in Republican League Register of Oregon, 1896, on page 158: 

“Walter S. Hufford, of Corvallis, was born at Charleston, Lee County, Iowa, September 7, 1853, and came to Oregon in 1873, locating near Albany. He studied law in Corvallis, and was admitted to the bar in December 16, 1875.

He engaged in farming five years, and has been in active practice of his profession sixteen years. He has been a delegate to nearly all county conventions since 1874, to the state conventions of 1890 and 1892, and the league in 1896.

He was elected City Recorder of Corvallis in 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885; was nominated District Attorney in 1888, and was elected County Judge in 1892 and 1894.

Then there is this notice of death from The Oregonian published May 22, 1931:

“Masonic Lodge No. 114, A.F. and A.M. — Special communication today (Friday) at 1:45 P.M. to conduct the funeral services of our late Brother Walter S. Hufford. Services at 2:30 P.M. at Finley’s Chapel, Fifth and Montgomery, with Masonic services at Riverview Cemetery, Visiting brethren welcome. Please bring autos.”

History, Nailed

Have you ever wondered about the history of the nail in America? I didn’t think so, but I thought it polite to ask jus’ in case.

This subject comes up after I found an old envelope with a handful of cut nails my Grandpa Bill gave to me when I was in my early teens. I didn’t even know I still had them until I started going through my large tool box.

As I recall, Grandpa recovered them from an old shack that had eventually fallen down on some property he purchased shortly after World War I. I remember him saying the building was in disrepair and took several years to finally collapse.

I started to throw them away but set them aside instead.

They got me to thinking – why are those old nails shaped different from the one’s we use today?

Doing a little research, I found out nails have four distinct styles in U.S. history. These include hand-forged nails, before circa 1800; type-A cut nails, circa 1790-1830; Type-B cut nails, circa 1820-1900; and the Wire nail, circa 1890 to present.

The cut nail made its appearance in the mid-1700s. For instance, Thomas Jefferson built a nail factory on his plantation at Monticello as a way to make extra money. His nail factory made both hand-forged and cut nails.

It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that cut nails began dominating the marketplace. Cut nails are not actually “cut,” they’re sliced from steel plate the thickness of the nail shank.

Generally referred to as “square nails”, because of the head, the cutting machine tapers the nail shank as it is sheared from the steel plate, while a second machine forms the head of a cut nail. With the hand-forged nail, all four sides are tapered.

I’m pretty sure this is what a regular  horseshoe nail is, since it has a “square” head.

In the mid-1800s Daniel Dodge, Silas Putnam, and George Capewell patented a nail-making machine to mass-produce horseshoe nails. With mass-produced horseshoes invented about the same time, the need for blacksmithing skills diminished – but I’m getting sideways here.

As for the cut nail, two sides are parallel because they represent the thickness of the plate they were sheared from. Cut nails had their heyday from about 1820 to 1910, the advent of the wire nail.

Wire nails have replaced the cut nail, except in the of refinishing antiques or hardwood floors. Steel wire is fed into a machine that grips the wire, cuts it, makes the head, and chisels the point, all in one operation.

The process is completely mechanized, requiring only one person to turn the machine on and off. Plus wire nail machines can make thousands of nails a minute.

As for the nails in the old envelope – they’re “cut” or “square nails.” And while they don’t hold much in the way of sentimental value – I think I’ll keep them as I’m a sucker for anything considered “old-fashioned.”

Internal Conflict

Yeah, I’ll probably catch hell for being a bleeding heart — but I jus’ have to share my feelings and thoughts about this situation. Forgive me for wearing my heart on my sleeve.

A 13-year-old Reno boy is being charged as an adult in a shooting that left a man dead. Jose’ Cruz and three others have been charged with murder in the killing of a local musician who tried to stop a robbery on the southwest edge of downtown.

The four face several charges in connection with a string of armed robberies in Carson City and Reno that police say ended in the shooting death of Steve Gale. The Reno resident was walking home and was shot in the back as he struggled with the robbers trying to steal a friend’s purse.

Generally, I’m a hard-ass when it comes to crime and punishment, but this one has me doubting my belief system. Honestly, I know very little about the case, other than what I’ve heard or seen in the press, so I’m in no position to judge what is happening.

Not only is he baby-faced — he looks absolutely terrified and as a father, that breaks my heart. I want to reach out and wrap my arms around him, protect him and calm his fear.

Other than that, I’d love to know why this teen was running around with a bunch of adults. I’d also like to know where Jose’ Cruz’ his parents were and why he wasn’t home in bed at the time they were out killing a defenseless man.

Lastly — what is his relationship to the three adults, who took this child along with them? As far as I’m concerned — those three can rot in hell for what they’ve done — but can’t Jose’ somehow be turned around?

The teen was being held in the Jan Evans Juvenile Detention Center, but ended up transferred to the Washoe County Jail since being charged as an adult. He spent one night in the adult jail before a judge returned him to the detention center.

It was deemed necessary to protect him, as the adult facility isn’t designed to keep children locked up. I’m cool with this as I believe the “state” has a duty to protect those it has incarcerated.

Jacob Sanchez, 21-years-old, is accused of firing the fatal shot. His 19-year-old brother Luis Sanchez and 23-year-old Aurora Rodriguez-Perez also face murder charges along with Jose’.

Ultimately, he’s going to have to pay for his criminal activity and there must be justice for Steve Gale. So I’m okay with whatever punishment is meted out by the system.

I jus’ wish I had never seen his prepubescent face.

Finding Jobs for the Few

The Nevada Senate has approved a bill to include gender identity and expression in employment anti-discrimination protections. Democrat Senator David Parks of Las Vegas told the chamber the bill is a continuation of Nevada’s history of extending personal liberty to its citizens.  Senator Ben Kieckhefer of Reno was the sole Republican to support the bill.

File under: How to put jus’ a few people back to work  — if at all.

Arcata, McKinleyville and an Assassinated President

It was Mr. Costello, a Del Norte High coach and history teacher who asked: Why is there a statue of President William McKinley in the town plaza of Arcata? And why is it “McKinleyville” if it doesn’t have the statue or any relation to the 25th president?

At the time I recall thinking, “Who gives a shit?”

As it turns out – his asking led me becoming interested in the seemingly obscure points of history often forgotten about. I learned the answer to both questions that day and to keep an open mind when it came to what some may deem insignificant.

The statue was presented to the City of Arcata by George Zehndner, July 4, 1906. It cost him $15,000 to have it shipped up from the bay area and erected on the 25 ton granite base is still rests on.

Whose George Zehndner?  And why the hell such a weird gift?

Zehndner  was a native of Bavaria, born in 1824 and had come to America in 1849. He worked his way to California, chopped wood in Sacramento, invested in a pack train in Weaverville.

While in Trinity County he traded some mules for some cows and drove them to Angel’s Ranch, east of Arcata proper. He started ranching, only to be burned out by Indians in 1862

But by 1866, he was back in business at the ranch. Four years later he sold his share in the ranching business and bought a home in Arcata.

Zehndner was an admirer of McKinley and a Republican, through-and-through. The 81-year-old man took the 1901 assassination of McKinley to heart and decided to create a monument to the “first modern president.”

As for the nine-foot statue – it was sculpted by Armenian-born artist Haig Patigian in San Francisco, and whose credits include a statue of Abraham Lincoln in San Francisco and a bust of Herbert Hoover in the White House. The statue’s unveiling was postponed because of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.

Patigian found the statue had been toppled by the quake; however a large plaster model had braced its fall, but he had to leave it because it was too large to move. A week later, the foundry owner told him the statue had been destroyed.

But the foundry owner was wrong and Patigian soon learn the statue had been saved from the burning foundry. It was then moved by steamship to Humboldt Bay in May 1906 – later to be presented to the city.

Now – what about the town of McKinleyville, which is named for the late president but lacks the statue which Arcata owns?

Prior to the turn of the twentieth century,  McKinleyville was known as Minorville. It was named by Isaac Minor, who had a number of businesses there including the Minor Store, A & L Feed Store and a lumber company.

Minorville, believe it-or-not, was at one time home to a large number of die-hard Republicans. So after McKinley was assassinated September 6, 1901, they changed the town’s name to McKinleyville.

Isaac Minor was also a big name the in Arcata area, with his name appearing on a “Minor Alley,” and the “Minor Theater.”  As a kid, I thought it was named the “Minor” Theater because the other one was the “major” theater in town.

One more thing about McKinleyville: It reportedly is home to “The largest totem pole in the world,” at 160 feet tall. Go figure.

UPDATE: On February 21st, 2018 the Arcata City Council voted 4-1 to remove the statue of William McKinley. The next step in the process is for the city to hold a meeting to initiate the Environmental Impact Report.

Hapless Harry’s Big Fall

Reno 2011 — Senator Harry Reid looks like he got his butt kicked in a bar room brawl, but an Aide to the 71-year-old Nevada native says he fell while exercising in the rain. The fall caused him to dislocate his right shoulder and left him with a black eye.

Another report says the fall occurred when Reid leaned against a wet car, slipped then fell to the ground. And still a third claims he slipped in a puddle of water while jogging.

Almost sounds like the number of changes made to the story of how Osama bin Laden died. Whatever really happened — it must be hard for the old pugilist to admit he took an ass-whipping from himself.

Meanwhile, the hapless Harry continues to “Dream,” which is another subject altogether…

A Hard, but Good Lesson

This is where I learned how difficult being a sprinter could be — as I had yet to be beaten. But then like that — big Mike McMillian from Eureka High slammed my big-ego into the ground.

Worse yet — he did it by setting a new regional record. I learned this day that losing in a one-on-one contest can be a good thing — as it caused me to refocus my God-given talent as a sprinter.

It would take me another two-years to run as quickly as Mike did that day — he smoked me with a 10.3 second 100-yard dash. His continued rivalry made me a better person.

I finally broke under 10 seconds in 1978 — and I’ve never been better in my life.

The Change in Hope and Change

The national media is littered with jumbled up stories regarding the death Osama bin Laden. Much of the confusion has been caused by the Obama administration and the ever changing narrative they’ve been dishing out over the week.

Original report: Bin Laden died in a firefight.
Changed: Bin Laden did not engage in a firefight.
Change 2.0: Bin Laden had an AK-47 “nearby.”

Original report: Bin Laden was shot once in head.
Changed: Bin Laden shot once in head, one in chest.
Change 2.0: Bin Laden shot twice in head, once in chest.

Original report: Bin Laden used his wife as a human shield, was shot in chest and killed.
Changed: Bin Laden’s wife did not die, wasn’t used as a human shield and was only shot in the leg.
Change 2.0: Someone else’s wife was shot and killed, someplace else in the house.

Original report: Four helicopters used in raid.
Change: Four helicopters used during raid.
Change 2.0: Secret stealth helicopters used in raid.

Original report: Bin Laden’s compound had no television, computers or electricity.
Changed: Compound had TV’s, DVDs, multiple computers and satellite dish.

Original report: President Obama acted with “calm” and “steeled-nerves,” making the decision on his own.
Changed: Obama was listening to Advisor Valerie Jarred, who told him not to “proceed with the raid.
Change 2.0: Obama waited for 16 hours or more before deciding and CIA Chief Leon Panetta made the final call.

Original report: Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and close advisers watched raid unfold in real-time and a photo showing this was posted on the White House website.
Changed: They weren’t watching real-time video because there was 20 minute time frame that they “didn’t know just exactly what was going on,” as stated by Panetta.
Change 2.0: Photograph may have been staged according to the UK Guardian.

Original report: Obama’s order was to kill, not capture, bin Laden.
Changed: Obama’s order was to kill or capture bin Laden.

It’s certain that more changes will be forthcoming. It is also possible that we will never really know the truth as to what occurred in those hours between the time the Navy SEAL’s launched and when they returned to their staging point.

As for hope – there is none.

Looking for Your E-Taxes

A coalition of Nevada businesses is launching a $50,000 ad campaign for a change in tax laws to force Amazon and other e-commerce firms to collect state sales taxes when they sell goods to Nevadans. The Retail Association of Nevada and the Nevada Resort Association says that’s costing Nevada about $16 million a year.

Talk about economy killing!

No. 18 Goes Hollywood — Again

A Virginia and Truckee Railroad train has a starring role in the movie, “Water for Elephants.” The 90-ton steam engine No. 18 was shipped to Los Angeles to be used in the film about a circus train. No. 18 has been in 15 movies including “Young Tom Edison,” “The Last Stagecoach West,” and “Frontier Badmen.”

It might be worth the price of a ticket jus’ to see the train on screen…

Kung Fu

From about 7th grade on through high school I was stuck with a nickname that I didn’t like very much, “Kung Fu.” It came about after the television show of the same name and the fact that I had been taking martial art classes at the air base.

After a year and a half of training, the Air Force sergeant who was teaching me, was reassigned. Because of that I decided to sign up for Judo classes with College of the Redwoods, which held training sessions at the high school.

Our instructor was Rick Madonia. He was not only a Judo instructor, but also an instructor in Karate, Aikido and several weapon forms — not a guy you’d want to pick on in some dark alley.

In the right side of the photograph, clipped from the Del Norte Triplicate, is me. I look like I’m holding hands with the guy I’m supposed to be sparring with, rather than battling him.

Oh — and did I mention — I never really liked being called “Kung Fu?” It doesn’t bother me now, as I find it rather amusing.

Revising the Death of a Terrorist

U.S. authorities, relying on Pakistani intelligence, say the raid on the compound where Osama bin Laden was living wasn’t the first time the property was targeted in a search for a top al-Qaida figure. A senior Pakistani intelligence official says the Pakistanis staged a 2003 raid there in search of a man regarded as al-Qaida’s third-ranking leader.

The house was just being built at the time. The target of the search wasn’t found, but U.S. officials have said he once lived there.

Bin Laden is believed to have lived there for up to six years, raising questions as to how he could have moved in without the knowledge of Pakistan’s government. Residents said they sensed something was odd about the walled three-story house.

Most neighbors didn’t even know foreigners were living there. But they say two men would routinely emerge to run errands or occasionally attend a neighborhood gathering and they speculated the residents of the home were smugglers or drug dealers.

In a 180-degree turn, the White House says bin Laden was not armed when a Navy SEAL raiding party confronted him during an assault on his compound in Pakistan. White House press secretary Jay Carney acknowledged that bin Laden did not have a weapon even though administration officials have said that bin Laden resisted during the raid.

“In the room with bin Laden, a woman bin Laden’s wife rushed the U.S. assaulter (sic) and was shot in the leg but not killed, bin Laden was then shot and killed, he was not armed,” Carney said.

Carney said resistance does not require a firearm as he added the woman was never used as a human shield. These details differ widely from the initial accounts of the raid released by administration officials, including counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan during an on-camera White House briefing Monday.

As for the “kill or capture” question, Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, told NBC anchor Brian Williams that “the authorities we have on bin Laden are to kill him. And that was made clear.”

“But it was also, as part of their rules of engagement,” Panetta continued, “if he suddenly put up his hands and offered to be captured, then they would have the opportunity, obviously, to capture him. But that opportunity never developed.”

Beyond that, there are reports that say President Obama was less than decisive, despite all his aides presenting Obama as a commander in chief with a studied calm and steely resolve.

Tom Leonard of the Mail Online reports, “Details have emerged it actually took 16 hours for him to decide that the world’s most wanted terrorist should be taken out.”

“Far from making his mind up quickly,” Leonard writes, “Obama kept his top military officials waiting overnight before finally telling them: ‘It’s a go.’”

Leonard’s report adds, “Presented with the latest intelligence last Friday, Obama could only muster silence before telling his top military staff: ‘I’m not going to tell you what my decision is now – I’m going to go back and think about it some more. I’m going to make a decision soon.’”

While Carney avoided these details, he did continue, saying a photograph of a dead Osama bin Laden is “gruesome” and that “it could be inflammatory” if released. Carney added the White House is mulling over whether to make the photo public, but he said officials are concerned about the “sensitivity” of doing so.

Carney also said there is a discussion internally about the most appropriate way to handle it, but adds, “there is not some roiling debate here about this.” Asked if President Barack Obama is involved in the photo discussion, Carney said the president is involved in every aspect of this issue.

As U.S. officials consider whether to release graphic photos and other evidence that Osama bin Laden is dead, the Afghan Taliban are voicing some doubts. A spokesman for the Taliban says the talk of bin Laden’s death is “premature,” and that the U.S. hasn’t presented any “convincing evidence” of it.

Meanwhile, the Senate approved a resolution commending U.S. military and intelligence teams on the death of bin Laden. The terror leader had been the most wanted man in the world for nearly ten years following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, that left nearly three-thousand people dead in the U.S.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada praised operatives who planned and carried out the successful mission saying, “As they set out to kill or capture our most valuable target, they captivated us with their skill and expertise, their patriotism and their professionalism.”

Also resurfacing since the death of bin Laden is the subject of waterboarding, a practice that the current administration halted. White House officials at first stated that some of the intelligence they gained came after a terror suspect was treated to the “harsh interrogation practice.”

“Osama bin Laden would not have been captured and killed if it were not for the initial information we got from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after he was waterboarded,” Long Island Rep. Peter King told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

As that was happening, the staff director for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee was objecting to the U.S. military’s use of the code name “Geronimo” for bin Laden. Geronimo was an Apache leader in the 19th century who spent many years fighting the Mexican and U.S. armies until he surrendered in 1886.

The staff director and chief counsel for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Loretta Tuell, says it is inappropriate to link whom she calls “one of the greatest Native American heroes” with one of the most hated enemies of the United States. Tuell is a member of the Nez Perce tribe and grew on the tribe’s reservation in Idaho.

And now, the U.N.’s top human rights official says the global body wants details on the death of Osama bin Laden. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay says the raid on the al-Qaida leader’s hideaway “was a complex operation, and it would be helpful if we knew the precise facts surrounding his killing.”

Pillay has frequently stressed the importance of respecting international law during counter-terror operations. But in a statement Tuesday she acknowledged that “taking him alive was always likely to be difficult,” adding had bin Laden been captured alive he would likely have been charged with the most serious offenses including crimes against humanity.

Finally, there are new questions coming to light since the raid and it involves the helicopters used by the Navy SEAL’s. And it goes beyond the question of whether there were two, four or more aircraft in support of the SEAL team according to David Cenciotti, a former Lieutenant in the Italian Air Force and current journalist.

He writes of a series of photographs published of the down U.S. helicopter, “the depicted horizontal stabilizer and tail rotor of the wreckage don’t seem to be any form of H-60. Both the shape and position are not common to either Black Hawks or Apaches helicopters.”

So there are more questions than answers at this time — as well as more revisions to the administration’s depiction of events in what is otherwise a historic and significant American victory in this nation’s continuing Global War on Terror.

Campaigning Amid Convolution

Jus’ days after the death of Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama paid a visit to the place where al-Qaeda inflicted its greatest damage. The president placed a wreath at the outdoor memorial where the World Trade Center once stood, then met privately with about 60 relatives of those killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

On the way to ground zero, the he visited with firefighters and police officers who responded to the terror attacks. He stopped at a firehouse that lost 15 firefighters on 9/11, calling it “a symbolic site of the extraordinary sacrifice that was made on that terrible day.”

Without mentioning bin Laden by name, Obama told the firefighters that he hoped the military’s success brought them “some comfort.” He thanked them for their daily work and told them their president has “got your back.”

Obama also stopped by the First Precinct police station in lower Manhattan. It was Obama’s first visit since coming to office.

And new details indicate bin Laden may have been ready to flee at a moment’s notice when he was killed.  Top intelligence officials have been briefing lawmakers on the assault that killed the world’s most wanted man.

According to Politico, sources who attended the briefing say bin Laden had 500 Euros and two phone numbers sewn into his clothing when he was killed.  Five-hundred Euros is equal to about 750 dollars.

CIA Director Leon Panetta reportedly told lawmakers that bin Laden may have believed his network was good enough to give him advance warning if the U.S. made a move against him.

Then there is this: did Panetta order the raid? This comes as officials are beginning to ask questions about a Mail Online report that claims the president initially hesitated to act and still further reports that he was advised by Aide Valerie Jarrett not to “go after bin Laden.”

But it’s an article in the San Francisco Chronicle by Kimberly Dozier and Robert Burns of the Associated Press, who ask the question on everyone’s mind: “Has anyone noticed that CIA Director Leon Panetta has said a lot more about the Navy commandos’ killing of Osama bin Laden than has the Pentagon chief, who, after all, is second in the military chain of command behind President Barack Obama?”

Meanwhile the debate continues after the Obama administration initially said bin Laden was armed or even firing a weapon when he was killed, but later said he was unarmed. Still, officials are defending the legality of the shooting.

Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the operation was “lawful” and “justified as an act of national self-defense” against a “lawful military target.”

Holder spoke in response to some critics of the raid on bin Laden’s hideout.  The attorney general revealed that bin Laden had no intention of giving himself up to the U.S. military and said he was a lawful target as an enemy commander in the field.

Then there’s the White House’s Spokesman, Jay Carney, who continued to say the SEAL team that raided the compound where bin Laden was living had the authority to kill him unless he offered to surrender. In that case, he says, the team was required to accept the surrender.

Officials have said bin Laden resisted, though they have not offered any further details.

Carney also defended the president regarding the release of photos of bin Laden’s body, saying they could pose a national security risk to the United States. He says Obama has seen the photographs taken after the al-Qaeda leader was shot and killed.

As for President Obama, he says he believes the DNA and facial analysis proves the man U.S. forces shot was bin Laden, and the photos are not needed as further proof.  Obama made his comments in a CBS News interview.

Also a top Republican, who has seen the death photo of bin Laden, is agreeing with the decision not to release it. Congressman Mike Rogers says releasing the picture publicly could endanger U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, says the picture could inflame anti-U.S. sentiments around the world and hamper intelligence cooperation with the United States. He says conspiracy theorists won’t be persuaded no matter what the U.S. does.

However, Nevada’s Republican Congressman Dean Heller tells Reno’s Newstalk 780 KOH,  he doesn’t understand why the Obama administration opposes releasing photos of  bin Laden’s dead body. Heller says he’s confident the violence depicted on nightly television programs is more graphic than anything in the bin Laden photos.

Heller is due to be sworn in as a U.S. Senator next Monday, replacing embattled Senator John Ensign, who resigned last month.

In a side-bar regarding the photographs — online thieves and spammers are using the killing of bin Laden to send out malicious software and spam to unwitting Internet users. In what’s become common practice among the Internet’s less savory citizens, these scammers are sending out emails and spreading Facebook posts that purport to be videos or photos of the dead bin Laden.

They are not.

But by clicking the links, users can download computer viruses that steal personal information or otherwise infect their computers. Computer security firm Symantec says one spam email contains a link to bogus photos and videos purporting to be from CNN Mexico.

Instead, it directs people to a scam site designed to look like the real thing but created to steal passwords. Facebook users also fell victim to fake bin Laden links.

Meanwhile Rogers, tells ABC’s “Good Morning America” it’ll be a big task to go through the material, which includes encrypted information and writings in Arabic.

Some that information includes al-Qaeda considering an attack on U.S. trains during the upcoming anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, but counterterrorism officials say they believe the planning never got beyond the initial phase. The officials say they have no recent intelligence pointing to an active plot for such an attack.

Information on the train plot appears to be the first widely circulated intelligence pulled from the raid this week on bin Laden’s secret compound. Rogers said documents indicated a desire to hit the U.S. with large-scale attacks in major cities and on key dates such as anniversaries and holidays, but there was no sign those plans were anything more than ambitions.

Following up on the reports of planned train attacks, officials with the FBI and Homeland Security told local law enforcement to be on the lookout for clips or spikes missing from train tracks, packages left on or near the tracks and other indications that a train could be vulnerable.

Rogers also warned, “we’ve got to be careful. They still need us and we still need them.”

He was speaking about demands in Congress for answers from Pakistan — about how bin Laden could have been living in a well-protected home in a city not far from the country’s capital. Rogers says he worries about a “love-hate relationship” with Islamabad.

At the same time, he cautions against terminating U.S. assistance.

As for the Navy SEAL team, military officials say the highly secretive unit that killed bin Laden will likely be honored in the only way such a covert group can be: in private with nobody but themselves and their commanders in the know. The Navy still has not even confirmed its SEALs carried out the much-lauded, 40-minute raid on bin Laden’s compound.

But privately, Rear Adm. Edward Winters, at Naval Special Warfare Command in California, sent an email congratulating his forces. Navy officials say the names of those on the force will not be revealed for their personal safety.

Then there are the ever-changing narratives as to what happened — now administration officials says the raided on bin Laden’s lair met far less resistance than first described. In the latest account, a senior defense official says the commandos encountered gunshots from only one man, whom they quickly killed, before sweeping the house and shooting others, who were unarmed.

In Thursday’s revised telling, the Navy SEALs mounted a precision, floor-by-floor operation to find the al-Qaeda leader and his protectors — but without the prolonged and intense firefight that officials had described for several days.

And as for the strange helicopters used in the raid, a military aviation experts looking at pictures of one of the helicopters got a surprise — a chopper he hadn’t seen before. The editor-in-chief of Defense Technology International says photos of the remains of the helicopter destroyed in the raid shows an unusual number of blades and a dishpan-like cover.

Bill Sweetman says that’s when he knew he was looking at “some kind of stealth helicopter.” Sweetman says the chopper was clearly designed to not give bin Laden any advance notice that U.S. forces were coming.

It also was likely to evade Pakistani radar. One of the two helicopters made a hard landing at the compound and was destroyed by the military team.

Along with a successful raid comes a new House budget approval of $10.5 billion for Special Operations Command and the Navy SEALs. By voice vote Wednesday, the House Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities approved its portion of the overall defense bill for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. It includes money for the command.

The amount represents an increase of about 7 percent over this year. The full committee will consider the legislation next week. The chairman of the subcommittee, Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, and the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Jim Langevin of Rhode Island, praised the Special Operation Forces, saying what they do is unmatched and that the nation owes them a debt of gratitude.

Lastly — and like we really need to know this — a doctor who sold the piece of land where  bin Laden’s final hideout was built is identifying the buyer as Mohammad Arshad, a name that matched one of two Pakistani men often seen coming out of the al-Qaeda chief’s compound.

The doctor says he sold a plot of land to Arshad in 2005. He said the buyer was a “modest, humble type of man” who claimed to be purchasing it for his uncle.

Property records obtained by The Associated Press show Arshad bought adjoining plots in four stages between 2004 and 2005. Though it is unconfirmed at this time, it’s believed Arshad was one of those killed during the raid.

Bin Laden — Dead!

Only a few months shy of the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks on America, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is dead.  President Barack Obama announced from the White House that bin Laden was killed by a U.S.-led operation in a mansion outside the Pakistani capital of Islamabad and the al-Qaeda leader’s body is in U.S. custody.

According to Obama, he was briefed on bin Laden’s possible whereabouts last August. He said he felt the White House had enough intelligence last week to stage an attack.

The U.S. offered a reward of 25-million dollars for information leading to bin Laden after he was implicated in the 9-11 attacks.  He was suspected of being involved in the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 and the 1996 bombing of a U.S. military barracks in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 American soldiers and indicted for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.

“We have been pursuing bin Laden for ten years, and obviously that puts us at greater risk. There are probably going to be a number of follow on attacks,” said Retired Navy Commander Kirk Lippold to KOLO-TV in Reno, who was aboard the Cole when it was struck by terrorists.

“I don’t think any American realistically expected that, when we caught or killed bin Laden, that the war would suddenly collapse in on itself and be over in a matter of days if not weeks,” said Lippold.

Born in Saudi Arabia in 1958, bin Laden was the 17th of 57 children of a Saudi construction magnate.  Bin Laden attended college in Saudi Arabia.

He was 23 when he arrived in Afghanistan to join the jihad against the Soviet Union.  Bin Laden used his family’s fortune to help the mujahideen, then after the Soviets were defeated in 1988, he decided to form what would become al-Qaeda as a potential general headquarters group for future jihads.

In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and bin Laden proposed to the Saudi monarchy that he summon his fighters for a jihad to retake Kuwait.  The Saudis turned him down and instead joined the U.S.-led coalition.

Bin Laden publicly spoke out about Saudi Arabia’s decision to allow U.S. troops to be based there.  Saudi Arabia eventually froze all of bin Laden’s assets and revoked his citizenship.

He moved to Sudan in 1991, where he set up a large and complex set of businesses and terrorist enterprises including Al-Qaeda. He also issued a call for jihad against the West, especially the U.S.

Bin Laden eventually returned to Afghanistan, where its Taliban government was overthrown by U.S.-backed forces in 2001.  Since then, he was believed to be hiding in the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where he was estimated to have about 300-million-dollars in personal assets and rumored to be suffering from kidney ailments and receiving dialysis treatment.

Intelligence reports indicate DNA testing on bin Laden’s body is a perfect match.  A woman believed to be one his wives also positively identified the al-Qaeda leader’s body.

Most Americans stand behind the killing of the al-Qaeda leader.  An online Reuters poll indicates 79 percent believe killing bin Laden was the right thing to do.

However, 14 percent of respondents said killing him was not a good decision.  The poll also shows just 25 percent feel safer, compared to 59 percent who do not feel that way after his death.

Dead or alive — that’s how White House counterterrorism advisor John Brennan characterized the mission to go after bin Laden. Brennan told the Associated Press that U.S. forces were prepared for resistance and for the possibility of a relatively peaceful capture.

As it turned out, bin Laden fired at U.S. forces before being killed, but Brennen adds bin Laden tried to use women as human shields when U.S. special forces raided his compound.  Brennan said the women died in the attack as a result.

He said it was inconceivable that bin Laden did not have some sort of support system within Pakistan.  Brennen said the U.S. acted alone and did not inform Pakistan government beforehand.

Pakistan is a U.S. ally and a major recipient of American aid received an estimated $1.2 billion in military and security aid in the last fiscal year and another $1.4 billion in economic assistance.  Questions have been raised about Pakistan’s commitment to the fight against terrorism.

Nevada Senator Harry Reid tells The Economic Times the successful operation against bin Laden was mainly due to President Obama’s efforts to refocus on Afghanistan and Pakistan as a central battleground in the fight against terror, adding “Over the past two and a half years, the Obama administration has significantly escalated our military, diplomatic, intelligence and economic efforts to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al- Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan and around the world.”

Meanwhile, Brennan described the scene in the White House situation room as extremely tense as the President and high-level officials awaited word about the outcome of the mission.  Brennan said minutes passed like days.

He also sidestepped questions about whether photos of the dead bin Laden will be released.  He said the issue is being assessed.

Brennan stressed the U.S. will do everything possible to head-off speculation that bin Laden was not killed.  Brennan confirmed that bin Laden was buried at sea, in strict compliance with Islamic practices.  He declined to say where the burial occurred — although it was later learned to have been the Arabian Sea.

He said the bin Laden strike is a strategic blow to al-Qaeda but probably not the end of the terror network.  Brennen stressed that the U.S. is on alert for possible retaliatory actions as al-Qaeda and its sympathizers ponder possible moves to avenge bin Laden’s death.

With news of  bin Laden’s death, al-Qaeda’s second in command may be taking over.  Egyptian-born doctor Ayman al-Zawahri is largely rumored to be the first choice to succeed bin Laden.

Zawahri was bin Laden’s closest mentor after meeting him in the mid-1980s when both were fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan.  Since the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, Zawahri has broadcast dozens of anti-American messages, most recently, urging Muslims to fight NATO and American forces in Libya.

There is no word yet on who — if anyone — will collect the $25 million dollar bounty offered on bin Laden’s head.

Those Other Acquisitions

Not every book I purchased from the libraries recent sale is a winner with me. While I really love my Doten Journal and the two Don Garate books on the Susanville-Reno connection – one tome – “Tahoe beneath the Surface” – is not so good.

It’s written by Scott Lankford and is about “the hidden stories of America’s largest mountain lake,” — early 264-pages of wordy articles that talk about global warming and other political treatise that I don’t agree with — mixed with tales about Lake Tahoe.

I’m trying – trying – trying.

As for Don Garate – the two books I have in my possession are histories of northern Lassen County. I had never heard of Don Garate before though I do know another Garate, who I once worked for.

The last name is Basque and that might be a dead-give away that this is the same family – but I don’t know for certain. What I do know is what is written on the back of those books:

“Donald T. Garate was born in 1950 and has lived his entire life on the Madeline Plains, being a member of the third generation of Garates to have lived there. He attended the Ravendale Elementary School and Lassen High School and is a graduate of the University of Nevada with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture.”

“Don has written newspaper articles, family histories and a thirty-page pamphlet in both English and Spanish on the history of the Garate family. He is married and his wife Alice (Nord)… (and) are the parents of five children.”

“He is of Basque descent…mak(ing) his living from cattle and sheep ranching on the family ranch east of Ravendale. Over the years he has ridden for cattle and put up hay on every ranch on the Madeline Plains, making it possible for him to write about the area with familiarity and understanding.”

I had to combine the last couple of parts from both books, as one was published in 1975 and the second in 1982.