Double Jack Dilemma

I had been home a few minutes when my wife told me she had problems with the new set of headphones she’d planned to use the evening before to watch some television shows via the Internet. I didn’t understand what she was talking about.

“Here, I’ll show you,” she said as we walked to the room where we keep our computer.

Once there she lifted a chord and stated, “I don’t know how to plug this kind of jack into the computer.”

I looked at it and immediately started laughing.

“What’s so funny?” she asked slightly peeved.

“That’s the plug to my cellphone — not the headphones,” I answered.

As I replied to her question, I picked up the headphones and dangled the jack in front of her. She turned slightly red and then started laughing at the situation.

As we left the room, she looked at me and in a very serious tone and commanded, “You’d better not write about this!”

Well, guess what, hun?

Silver Tailings: Slothfulness in Nevada

Did the now-extinct giant ground sloth live alongside native Paiute and Shoshone tribes?

In 1930, archaeologist M. R. Harrington started working in Gypsum Cave, in the Frenchman Mountain Range. He found evidence of mankind along side deposits of petrified feces.

Then he found the skull and bones from a giant ground sloth. Below these, he discovered spear points and evidence of cooking fires.

Harrington noted the bones had been split, showing stone knife cut marks. It left no doubt in his mind that humans had co-existed with prehistoric animals.

Meanwhile many Native legends hint at a giant, slow-moving animal seen wandering through the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Historic Comstock Home Burns

Its been a difficult day for people living on the Comstock as a historic building from 1876 is gutted by flames. The Seven Gables House at 98 Howard Street in Virginia City, was one of the oldest homes in Northern Nevada.

It took crews from Storey, Carson City and Lyon counties as well as the Reno and Sierra Fire to keep the flames from spreading to other nearby structures. Unfortunately the roof collapsed, leaving  jus’ the walls standing, as the fire gutted the old building’s interior.

No one was directly injured by the blaze, but one fire fighter had to be taken to the hospital after he suffered an apparent heart attack. He’s currently listed in satisfactory condition and is expected to make a full recovery.

The house had been being used as a rental while the owner is in China on a teaching assignment. Also the home’s current residents weren’t there at the time the blaze broke out.

Neighbors braved the smoke and flames to enter the home to pull two dogs out. One dog was non-responsive but first responders were able to get it breathing again and it was taken to a veterinarian for observation.

The blaze’s cause remains under investigation.

A Lesson on Corporate Punishment Lost

Once again — the few screw it up for the many and in the true form of corporate punishment the many get screwed by a few. Common sense be damned!

An Internet posting of a fist fight between students from Reno and Galena High has led Reno High’s student leader’s to cancel the schools’ Winterfest Week.  The festival’s a week-long celebration that ends in a prom-like dance.

Washoe County School District Police say one person from Reno High, two from Galena High and a former student were in the fight. Furthermore it occurred off school property and there were no reported victims.

The student leadership was allowed to cancel the  event as a way of meting out discipline for the one student’s bad behavior — which isn’t really discipline but rather punishment for the remainder not involved.  Somehow the real lesson that could have been taught — which is what discipline is and is not — was never mentioned.

Now every student at Reno High’s on notice that if their school mate messes up — expect to be held responsible.  While  it keeps the student body in line, it also creates a lack of personal responsibility and a sense of fear in the form of the “Big Brother Effect.”

Smaller organizations use the system of corporate discipline to correct behavior of individuals by leveraging peer-pressure against the offender. It works well in the squad-bay — but loses its effectiveness when administered to a crowd of a few hundred.

So, why not discipline the individual seen fighting in the now-viral Internet video?

Because it’s easier for an assembled body to hand down sentence on a faceless crowd than to look in look at the  accused, sift through evidence and draw a conclusion before pronouncing sentence. It’s a shame that such a real-life teachable incident has been wasted.

Silver Tailings: A Big Fishes Tale

Asked once if I were to write a history of the Silver State, where would I begin? My answer:  Berlin, Nevada.

That’s because long before it was a mining camp – and I mean LONG BEFORE – it was home to a prehistoric creature we know as the Ichthyosaur. In fact the area was acquired by the State of Nevada in 1970 and turned into a state park featuring 40 fossilized remains of the ancient sea monster.

The Ichthyosaur was a giant marine reptile that resembled a dolphin. Ichthyosaurs averaged six and a half to 13 feet in length and could weigh anywhere between 360 pounds to jus’ over a ton.

At Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in Nye County, a 55-foot skeleton remains embedded in the rock and is protected from the elements in a large barn.  In 1977, the Ichthyosaur became the State Fossil State of Nevada, which is some 90 million years after it became extinct.

As for the mining camp of Berlin — in 1911 it also suffered extinction.

Nevada Marine Returns Home

A private jet carrying U.S. Marine Cpl. Jon-Luke Bateman’s flag-draped casket landed at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.  A half-dozen family members, a flight of airmen, the base color guard and seven white-gloved Marines met the plane on the tarmac for his final journey home.

The 2007 Pahrump High School graduate died January 15th while trying to rescue another Marine involved in an electric generator mishap in Helmand province.  Lance Cpl. Kenneth E. Cochran of Wilder, Idaho, was also killed in that accident.

The incident remains under investigation.

Nevada Woman Arrested for Voter Fraud

The FBI arrested a woman in Henderson on charges that she tried to vote twice. Roxanne Rubin, whose a registered Republican according to the Clark County Registrar of Voters office, is accused of trying to vote a second time on the same day.

Miller said poll workers questioned Rubin when they found her name in a database showing she had already cast a ballot, but she denied having voted and insisted she be allowed to vote. The election workers did not allow Rubin to vote and reported the incident to the Clark County registrar, who notified the secretary of state.

An investigation was launched by the Nevada’s multi-jurisdictional Elections Integrity Task Force (EITF). She was later arrested and charged with one felony count of voting more than once in the same election.

“There are two important points worth noting in this case,” Miller said. “First is that, as we’ve said and demonstrated in the past, we take all elections complaints very seriously and investigate them thoroughly. Second, this demonstrates the integrity of the system. Someone thought that by going to two different locations they’d be able to cast two ballots. The system immediately caught that, the task force responded and an arrest was made.”

The EITF is investigating at least one other incident of someone trying to vote twice.

This begs two yet unanswered questions: If she did try to vote again, how many other attempts has she made? And finally, if she didn’t actually vote as she claims, who voted in her place?

Hairy Ticks

It was nearing the end of the year and nearly half a year since I had last seen my son. Kyle was living in  Oregon with his mother while I continued living in Reno.

At the time he had jus’ started what he called “school.” Actually it was a pre-school with a religious curriculum and he was telling me all about it.

The big story was about the “hairy ticks that the church guys like to put on fire with their candles.” I had no idea what he was talking about but I listened jus’ the same.

Later that night as I lay on the bed next to him, watching him sleep, I reflected back on the day’s events. The story about the “hairy ticks” popped into my brain and I let it linger there for a few seconds.

Then like a bolt out of the blue, it hit me what Kyle was telling me. He wasn’t talking about insects – rather how the church used to punish people who didn’t fall in line with their teachings.

He was talking about heretics – not hairy ticks!

Deadly Blaze Threatens Reno

Fire officials say 29 homes have been destroyed by a 3,200 acre brush fire near Reno, that forced 10,000 people to evacuate their neighborhoods. Firefighters were able to stop the fire’s progress, but not before wind gusts of up to 82 mph sent it rushing through a valley south of town, creating flames up to 40 feet high.

By late afternoon, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval asked for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency which is responding with a special team. They will look at the number of homes and businesses impacted by the fire and whether there should be an emergency declaration.

One person died in the fire. Authorities say 93-year-old June Hargis was trapped inside her daughters home.

While her cause of death remains unknown, officials believed she died from smoke inhalation. Autopsy results are pending

Then there’s the person described only as “an elderly gentleman,” who has confessed to improperly disposing of fireplace ashes, possibly starting the blaze.  The cause is still under investigation.

As for the family of June Hargis, they’re against prosecuting the man who started the fire. They add prosecution would do no good.

Meanwhile, rain and snow helped firefighters surround the fire, declaring it fully contained early Saturday.  Evacuations were also lifted and U.S. 395 reopened to through traffic.

Finally, Vice President Joe Biden was forced to cut short a speech about college costs at Galena High School.  Aides summoned him off stage 25 minutes into his speech where he told the audience he would have to move onto a question-and-answer time before officials “make me get out of here.”

Pahrump Marine Killed in Afghanistan

A 22-year-old U.S.  Marine has died in Afghanistan.  Cpl. Jon-Luke Bateman of Pahrump is the first Nevadan to die in overseas military operations this year.

On his Facebook page Bateman listed his favorite quote as, “Ducle et decorum est pro paria mori.”  It’s Latin and translated reads, “It is sweet and right to die for your country.”

Bateman was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton and on his first deployment.  He died last Sunday while conducting operations, though it remains unclear if he died due to hostile action or in an accident.

Bateman’s military honors include the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, and Good Conduct Medal.  He was returned to the U.S. last Tuesday.

Funeral and burial arrangements are pending.

Silver Tailings: Walker Lake’s Serpent

When white’s settled Walker Lake in 1881, they noted the local Paiute’s didn’t own boats. A local paper, the Hawthorne Arsenal, reported it was “believed to be have been the only lake in the country near which resident Indians had no boats, and they had no desire for any.”

Two year’s later, the Walker Lake Bulletin reported settlers were “awakened by a horrible, soul-shrinking screech” when a pair of serpents started fighting. The loser measured “seventy-nine feet, seven inches and a quarter in length.”

The serpent caught the curiosity of professor and Stanford University President David Starr. During the Summer of 1907, newspapers reported he planned to capture it and send it to the Smithsonian.

A 1930 story in the Hawthorne News claimed it was sighted in a cave at Mount Grant. A couple of years later, local businessman E. J. Reynolds told the Goldfield Daily Tribune he’d seen it sunning itself, saying it was at least 70 feet long.

In a letter to the editor of Hawthorne’s newspaper, a couple claimed to see “something moving in Walker Lake at a terrific speed.” They added, “It must’ve been 45 to 55 feet long and its back stuck up above the water at least four or five feet when it was swimming fast.”

Biden Speaks at Galena in Reno

Like all high schools in Washoe County, this week’s been Finals Week at Galena High School. It’s also been a week of unusual activity with the Secret Service on campus preparing for a visit from Vice President Joe Biden.

Amid this activity, which allegedly entailed one male teen taken from class for uttering something inappropriate, students have been trying to get their school work completed and handed in. This is never an easy task — let alone one where the nation’s Vee Pee’s speaking about higher education and what the Administrations doing to make it more affordable.

My son, Kyle goes to Galena High School, summed it up, saying, “The Vice President picks Finals Week to come talk to us about going to college; you’d think he’d be smarter than that.”

Rednecked

I can hear Jeff Foxworthy’s voice ringing in my head, “If you spend more on your dogs in a year than you do on your wife – you might be a Redneck.”

Now, he didn’t really say this – but I did jus’ to make my point.

Right before Christmas, our pit-bull, Roxy got the crud beat out of her and I figured her was a goner. But after several hundred dollars she’s mending very well.

Then last week our Yorkshire terrier, Trixie, had a run-in literally with the dog door that fractured her lower jaw. She’s 11-years- old and doesn’t see very well anymore and didn’t know that the door was down when she was called in.

She made a mad dash in to the garage and ran face first into the closed-door. She hit it with such force that it bounced her backward about four feet and left her sitting on the cement, stunned, for about half a minute.

For the next day she refused to eat or drink and wouldn’t allow anyone to touch her mouth. I ended up taking her to the veterinarian and for a few hundred bucks more, had her treated.

She’s now on the mend too. I wish I could say the same for our budget.

Perhaps it’s time to have my wallet euthanized.

Taking the Silver

I wrote this with the intent of having it published in the Ramona Sentinel — but somehow it was overlooked. It’s fun to look into a time capsule — even if its only in writing.

After the sun set through the beautiful stained glass windows of the First Congregational Church of Ramona, Miss Mary Conklin and Thomas Joaquin Darby were united in marriage on January 17, 1987 at seven in the evening by the Reverend Alexander S. Dreese.

Guests were seated by ushers Steve Conklin of Ramona and Fred Conklin of Fontana, California. The organist played Pachelbel’s’ “Canon in D,” to the traditional “Wedding March.

Mr. Don Conklin escorted his daughter to the altar. Mary’s Matron of Honor was Mrs. Sarah Hart, sister of the bride, of Ramona. Mr. Adam Darby, brother of the groom, from Fortuna, California stood up as Best man for Tom.

The Bride wore a beautiful two piece mid-length ensemble made of winter-white silk, accented by her black hair which was pulled up by two pearl combs. She carried a bouquet of pink and white flowers.

A dress of dusty rose with a french lace collar was worn by the Matron of Honor. The Groom and Best man wore winter-white double-breasted jackets with charcoal gray slacks and dusty rose bow-ties.

A reception followed the ceremony at the home of the Bride’s parents in Ramona. Decorations and wedding cake were in dusty rose and winter-white with the cake having flowers of pink and white cascading down its two layers.

Assisting with the guest book was Miss Cathy Harrington, friend of the Bride. She doubled by helping at the gift table as well.

The couple honeymooned at Disneyland before returning to their home in Reno, Nevada. Both are employed by major hotel and casino’s.

The new Mrs. Darby is the daughter of Helen and Don Conklin of Ramona. Tom is the son of Margery Olivera of Fortuna, California and Tom Darby of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Conserve Water, Shower with a Marine

On my way into the radio station, I saw a bumper sticker on a truck in front of me. It caused me laugh as I read, “Conserve water, shower with a Marine.”

It wasn’t that the quote was all that funny, it’s the memory that it brought up. I promised myself that the moment I got my official paperwork and had been reassigned to the 1st Civilian Battalion, I never take another two-minute shower again.

A real two-minute shower consists of turning on the water while standing under the spray nozzle. If you’re first in line, this means your first few seconds are an icy cold blast of water cascading down your body.

About thirty-seconds or so later, jus’ as the water’s getting hot, you have to turn it off and lather up.  Within another half-minute or maybe  a few seconds more, you turn the water back on and rinse yourself as thoroughly as possible.

I never felt sufficiently clean — unless I was off-base and was free to take and enjoy a real shower.

In fact, after being discharged, I checked into a motel and took a hot shower that was so long, my skin wrinkled up like a prune. I was determined at the time to run the hot water completely from the lodging’s tank.

And I damn near succeeded — but the pizza I’d ordered arrived before I could accomplish my mission.

Stuck, In Between

This is a cautionary tale of authority —

Stuck was caught between a Rock and a Hard Place. It’ not the first time Stuck had been in this position — but as usual — it was uncomfortable.

Rock was the top of the hill. What Rock said rolled downhill.

Hard Place was the newcomer — still searching for a place in the pecking order. With that in mind, Hard Place decided Stuck needed pecking on.

When Stuck decided to complain to Rock about Hard Place, it became clear to Stuck, Hard Place had the upper-hand. Therefore nothing would change.

Stuck resisted no more, seemingly bowing to Hard Place’s idea of a pecking order. Meanwhile Rock happily maintained the status quo from the hilltop.

Thus, it goes for being Stuck, between a Rock and a Hard Place.

In the Game Still

I’ve stopped posting for a while — too much work and lack of sleep are the two main reasons.  Plus I’d like to recharge my internal batteries before heading off on another writing jag.

As I wait for my muse to awake, I’ve been playing with a small idea.  Hell, it might be a big idea — depending on who it affects:

It’s been said life’s a young man’s game.
Unfortunately — I’m an old man now.
However, I’m not content to simply sit
On the sidelines and spectate.
So I’ve made a decision.
If I can’t participate —
I’ll jus’ become a referee.

Background on The Iowa Caucuses

Here’s a break-down of The Iowa Caucus results going back to 1972:

  • 2008 —

Democrats: Barack Obama 37.6%, John Edwards 29.8%, Hillary Clinton 29.5%, Bill Richardson 2.1%, Joe Biden 0.9%, Others 0.2%

Eventual nominee: Barack Obama

Republicans: Mike Huckabee 34.4%, Mitt Romney 25.2%, Fred Thompson 13.4%, John McCain 13%, Ron Paul 9.9%, Rudy Giuliani 3.4%

Eventual nominee: John McCain

Barack Obama won the presidentcy

  • 2004 —

Democrats: John Kerry 37.6%, John Edwards 31.9%, Howard Dean 18%, Dick Gephardt 10.6%, Dennis Kucinich 1.3%, Wesley Clark .1%, Uncommitted .1%, Joe Lieberman 0%, Al Sharpton 0%  Eventual nominee: John Kerry

Republicans: President George W. Bush unopposed

George W. Bush won the presidentcy

  • 2000 —

Democrats: Al Gore 63%, Bill Bradley 35%, Uncommitted 2%

Eventual nominee: Al Gore

Republicans: George W. Bush 41%, Steve Forbes 30%, Alan Keyes 14%, Gary Bauer 9%, John McCain 5%, Orrin Hatch 1%

Eventual nominee: George W. Bush

George Bush won the presidentcy

  • 1996 —

Democrats: No caucuses, President Bill Clinton unopposed.

Republicans: Bob Dole (26%), Pat Buchanan (23%), Lamar Alexander (18%), Steve Forbes (10%), Phil Gramm (9%), Alan Keyes (7%), Richard Lugar (4%), and Morry Taylor (1%)

Eventual nominee: Bob Dole

Bill Clinton won the presidentcy

  • 1992 —

Democrats: Tom Harkin 76.4%, Uncommitted 11.9%, Paul Tsongas 4.1%, Bill Clinton 2.8%, Bob Kerrey 2.4%, Jerry Brown 1.6%, Others .6%

Eventual nominee: Bill Clinton

Republicans: No caucuses, President George H. Bush unopposed.

Bill Clinton won the presidentcy

  • 1988 —

Democrats: Richard Gephardt 31.3%, Paul Simon 26.7%, Michael Dukakis 22.2%, Jesse Jackson 8.8%, Bruce Babbitt 6.1%, Uncommitted 4.5%, Gary Hart .3%, Al Gore 0%

Eventual nominee: Michael Dukakis

Republicans: Robert Dole 37.4%, Pat Robertson 24.6%, George H. Bush 18.6%, Jack Kemp 11.1%, Pete DuPont 7.3%, No preference .7%, Alexander Haig .3%

Eventual nominee: George H. W. Bush

George H. W. Bush won the presidentcy

  • 1984 —

Democrats: Walter Mondale 48.9%, Gary Hart 16.5%, George McGovern 10.3%, Uncommitted 9.4%, Alan Cranston 7.4%, John Glenn 3.5%, Reuben Askew 2.5%, Jesse Jackson 1.5%, Ernest Hollings 0%

Eventual nominee: Walter Mondale

Republicans: No caucuses, President Ronald Reagan unopposed.

Ronald Reagan won the presidentcy

  • 1980 —

Democrats: Jimmy Carter 59.1%, Edward Kennedy 31.2%, Uncommitted 9.6%

Eventual nominee: Jimmy Carter

Republicans: George Bush 31.6%, Ronald Reagan 29.5%, Howard Baker 15.3%, John Connally 9.3%, Phil Crane 6.7%, John Anderson 4.3%, No Preference 1.7%, Robert Dole 1.5%

Eventual nominee: Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan won the presidentcy

  • 1976 —

Democrats: Uncommitted 37.2%, Jimmy Carter 27.6%, Birch Bayh 13.2%, Fred Harris 9.9%, Morris Udall 6%, Sargent Shriver 3.3%, Others 1.8%, Henry Jackson 1.1%

Eventual nominee: Jimmy Carter

Republicans: Gerald Ford (1st), Ronald Reagan (2nd)

Eventual nominee: Gerald Ford

Jimmy Carter won the presidentcy

  • 1972 —

Democrats: Uncommitted 35.8%, Edmund Muskie 35.5%, George McGovern 22.6%, Others 7%, Hubert Humphrey 1.6%, Eugene McCarthy 1.4%, Shirley Chisolm 1.3%, Henry Jackson 1.1%

Eventual winner: George McGovern

Richard M. Nixon won the presidentcy