The New Price of Freedom

Officials have approved an alternative for NV Energy customers who don’t want the new smart meters. The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada says southern Nevada customers opting out can pay $98.75 to install an electric meter, plus $8.14 every month.

Northern Nevada customers opting out will pay a $107.66 upfront cost, plus an $8.04 monthly fee. Northern Nevadans can also opt out of a smart gas meter for a one-time fee of $6.08.

Some customers critical of the meters fear they might cause health hazards or invade their privacy. The alternative meters require someone to manually check the readings each month.

NV Energy has installed about 1.3 million smart meters, which can transmit meter-reading data directly from a home or business to the utility.

Silver Tailings: The Brother Grosh

Credit for the discovery of the Comstock Lode remains disputed. It is said to have been discovered, in 1857, by Ethan Allen Grosh and Hosea Ballou Grosh, sons of a Pennsylvania minister, trained mineralogists and veterans of the California gold fields.

The Grosh brothers occupied a shack along with a Canadian named Richard Bucke, and Henry Tompkins Paige Comstock, which the ledge is named after. It should be noted that some written histories report the Canadian’s name as only that of McLoud.

They made their way to Gold Canyon and searched for the claim that would make them rich. However the brothers were a bit different in their approach to mining.

From the testimony of many miners who knew them, they were men of much scientific attainments, being chemists, assayers and metallurgists. In addition to all this, they also had assaying equipment and a large library on mining.

Unlike most miners, who looked only for gold, Ethan and Hosea were also looking for silver. They found silver, a strike they described as the “monster ledge,” in the Silver City area, but did not live to develop their discovery.

There is no authentic record of any assay made by the Grosh brothers, but they had the necessary appliances for the work and must have made the assay, for in the fall of 1857 they told Comstock that they knew of rich silver mines in the vicinity, and were going back to Philadelphia to secure capital to work them.

Unfortunately, before this could happen, Hosea injured his foot by running a pick-ax through it and died of an infection in 1857.

Ethan wrote a letter home to their father where he fills in details such as the cup of peppermint tea he made before going to find a doctor, but forgot to set near his sick brother. He concluded that when he returned later that day, Hosea had died.

A couple of months later, to raise funds, Ethan, accompanied by Bucke, set out for California with samples and maps of his claim. Comstock was left in their stead to care for the Grosh cabin and a locked chest containing silver and gold ore samples and documents of the discovery.

Grosh and Bucke never completed the journey, getting lost and suffering frostbite while in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Ethan died on December 19, 1857, three days after being found by a group of hunter.

Bucke lived, but upon his recovery, he returned to his home in Canada.

During their ordeal, Bucke claims Ethan tied up his maps and tha assay sample in a piece of canvas and hid them in the hollow of a pine tree. He further stated a wind-storm had snapped the tree off at about 20 feet and that Allen cut a mark into it and rolled a “good-sized stone in front of the hollow.”

When Comstock learned of the death of the Grosh brothers, he claimed the cabin and the lands as his own. He also examined the contents of the trunk but thought nothing of the documents as he was not an educated man.

What he did know was the gold and the silver ore samples were from the same vein. He continued to seek diggings of local miners working in the area as he knew the Grosh brothers’ find was still unclaimed.

Upon learning of a strike on Gold Hill which uncovered some bluish rock, Comstock immediately filed for an unclaimed area directly next to this area. Legal efforts were considered by the Grosh family, but noted-attorney Benjamin F. Butler persuaded them to avoid it.

Accounts would tally the yield from the Comstock Lode at 9 million ounces of gold and 220 million ounces of silver.

Oscar Gensaw, Jr., 1959-2012

My heartaches as I read from the Del Norte Triplicate about the passing of my friend Oscar Gensaw. He and I grew up a year apart in Klamath, attending grade school and high school together.

He was born July 3, 1959, at Seaside Hospital in Crescent City, and passed away November 8, 2012. He was a lifelong resident of Del Norte County having graduated from Del Norte High School in 1977.

As kids, we didn’t always get along. One time he punched me in the face for picking on another kid as we rode home on the bus from Crescent City to Klamath.

Outside of stuff like that, I always thought he was a pretty-good guy. I saw into his soul one Spring day in 1975, when every kid from Klamath gathered to lay Robert Pasche to rest; Oscar was brave enough to allow everyone to see how emotionally distraught he was over his classmates death.

I had never seen any of my male classmates cry like that before.

Now, with Oscar’s passing, it’s hard not to think long and hard about my morality and if anyone will carry me to my resting place when that day arrives.

My heart continues to ache.

Nevada to Protect the Rights of Communists

Nevada has decided to repeal a state law that allows job discrimination against communists. A 12-member Legislative Commission agreed to introduce a bill at the 2013 session that would repeal a law passed in 1951 during the anti-communist fervor of the Cold War.

The law allows employers to reject job applications from communists and their sympathizers, and to fire any communists in their workforce. Staffers say the law has remained on the books, even though Congress repealed similar federal laws in 1971.

The law took effect as Communists were infiltrating all walks of American life, concerns that gained the national stage with hearings conducted by U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. Thousands of Americans, including entertainers, teachers, union activists and government employees were accused of being Communists or sympathizers.

Nevada’s U.S. Senator Patrick McCarran secured passage by Congress of a bill creating the federal Subversive Activities Control Board. The law required the registration of communist-front organizations with the U.S. attorney general, and paved the way for states to approve their own anti-communist laws.

No Nevada lawmakers who voted on the 61-year-old state law are alive today. It’s unknown whether the law has ever been enforced.

A Bear’s Rug

The Beaver’s moved into the old house at the end of the long dirt road as if overnight. The next day there were two more children in the neighborhood to play with.

Bridget and Brett Beaver were both blonde and slight in build. Bridget was the younger of the two and had difficulty breathing at times.She had her own personal tent to sleep in when her breath became noisy and quick.

For this reason Adam and I weren’t allowed to go inside the Beaver’s home. This seemed strange to us.

“We used to play in it all the time,” Adam said. “And that’s before anyone lived there.”

It was true. All of the kid’s that lived along the road that was Sander’s Court had played in the abandoned house. It was a castle one day and then a fort the next during a game of combat.

It had even been rumored to be haunted, but that was never proven.

Brett was always off in the woods with us boys, but Bridget usually stayed home so she could be near her breathing tent. Someday’s, she wouldn’t even leave the house to play at all.

About two-weeks after moving in, I decided to go around to the back of the house and visit with Bridget. I had convinced myself that she had to be pretty lonely with no one to talk to or play with all day.

Brett’s and Bridget’s room was in the lower southeast corner of the house. I quietly walked up to the window and peeked in.

I could see Bridget, with her head and chest inside the clear plastic tent, was asleep so I decided it was best not to disturb her.

Slowly, I backed away from the window — but that’s when I heard a small noise behind me. I spun around expecting John Paul Arnold or Chucky Yates to be there, ready to jump on top of me or something.

Instead, I found myself standing face to face with a black bear less than ten-feet away. I froze in my footsteps and sucking in my breath as I tried to think what to do next.

My mind reeled at what to do. My instinct said to run away as fast as I could.

Yet, I recalled what Dad had said to do if I ever ran into a bear, “The best thing to do is play dead.”

“Maw,” cried the bear as it pushed itself from standing on all fours to standing upright.

The blood drain from my face as I pitched myself face down into the dirt and leaves. I laid stone still and feared to even allow a breath to escape my lips, fearful the animal would realize I wasn’t really dead.

I could feel its cold, wet nose press against my clammy skin and the warm, misty breathes as the bear snuffed and smelled me.

Then it stepped over me. I tensed, fearing the worst, however instead of being bitten, the beast dropped his weight down on me.

It rolled over and over on me, yet I did not dare move. Instead I pressed my face into the earth to stifle the grunts I let out as the bear forced his heft against my smaller body.

“Maw!” came the bear again and again as he continued to roll over me. Then the animal grew still.

The bear had laid his entire body completely atop me and breathed deeply as if resting. I still refused to move.

I knew I dared not even twitch a muscle, for the bear couldn’t be allowed to know I was alive.

“Someone will come along and find me,” I remember thinking — or perhaps it was a prayer.

Then I felt a sense of panic wash over me as I heard voices coming nearer. They were coming from up above me, along the Old Ranger Road, which was jus’ a few feet away from where I lay under the now slumbering bear.

Yet I couldn’t shout or even whisper for help, afraid I wake the beast. And the result could end in something worse than being a rug for bear.

The underbrush moved. It was all that I could see, with my face pushed into the dirt. Then I saw a pair of black and white high-top sneakers appear from the bushes.

It was Brett. Once he saw what was happening, he yelled, “Yogi!”

With that the bear jerked with a start and rolled from me. I jumped to my feet and then fell down, then got back up, as my legs had grown numb after laying still for so long.

“Run,” I screamed at Brett as I raced around the corner of the house.

But Brett didn’t follow. Instead I discovered the boy hugging and scratching the bear neck and shoulders.

It was at that moment, I realized the bear was a pet. I sheepishly approached and asked Brett if I could also scratch the black bear who had made me into a human rug for a day.

Reid Interupted

It was the day after President Ronald Reagan ordered a strike against Libyan Dictator Muammar Gaddafi. I was working for KROI/KPLY in Sparks at a remote for a home and garden show inside the Conventions Center.

I was accompanied by the station’s program director.

As I was prepping to do another sixty-second cut-in on the air, I saw Harry Reid approaching our booth. He had not yet been elected to the U.S. Senate and was out and about shaking hands and kissing babies.

My topic suddenly took a turn from the home and garden show to the attack on the Libyan leader. He passed in front of our booth jus’ as the announcer on the air introduced me.

I didn’t hesitate, announcing I had the pleasure of talking with Mr. Reid, candidate for U.S. Senate.

The future senator didn’t hesitate to start talking to me about his candidacy. I let him talk for a half a minute, and then I asked him about the missile strike.

He started answering the question, but we were interrupted by the program director. He grabbed the microphone from me, introduced himself and sent me back to the booth.

He took over the interview I had started. He later the program director chewed on me for having asked Harry Reid such a question.

Later I found out he had asked several questions along the same line of the senatorial candidate. Needless to say my ego was severely bruised after he took the mic from me.

Forward Operating Base Nine

“Merry Christmas, Doc!” the gunnery sergeant barked as he spooned a heap of dressing on my tray.

“Same to you, Guns,” I replied half-heartedly.

Setting my tray at a the stand-up table where a few other Marines were wolfing down their Christmas Eve fare in the makeshift mess hall, I stared at my food not certain if I were really hungry or not. I pushed the two slices of turkey and re-hydrated green beans about my plate as my mind wandered.

Looking around at the decorations the cooks had put up, made the huge tent seem like a stateside Christmas. They’d spared no effort in preparing the meal, plus some of the officers and senior NCOs tried to lift spirits by manning the serving line.

But it wasn’t working — at least not on me.

Emptying my tray, I stepped outdoors. I walked around the base, eventually ambled toward the Enlisted Men’s Club.

The smell of beer turned my stomach, so I decided to have a soda instead. I sat at the end of the bar, and as I sipped my drink, I knew inside what was really bugging me.

In a flash of inspiration, I decided to call my mother.

Maybe talking to Mom would lift my spirits, and I needed to tell her and my sister’s Merry Christmas anyway. Amazingly, I found just a few Marines at the phone exchange.

The operator was able to patch me through to my mother’s home in Fortuna. This in itself was remarkable, since often it took longer. Even though it was early in the morning, Mom sounded excited when she answered the phone.

By the time I hung up the phone, I could feel the burning of the tears as they rolled down my face. Then I noticed the Christmas music playing over the tinny squawk-box as I veered toward the chapel.

Sitting alone under the chapel fly with its benches and an altar, I looked at the Bible in the pew. I remembered how the chaplain said reading it would help build me up for the storms of life that were sure to come.

Having read some of the New Testament they gave all recruits at the induction station, I recalled many of the passages caused me to see things I didn’t like in myself. Yet I remembered the verse in the Book of Matthew about personal troubles.

Here, now, it felt as if Christ were standing beside me, saying, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

I felt for the first time in months the heaviness in my heart evaporate as I repeated the quote.

Then without warning, it was as if someone had smashed a hardball against my helmet. The blow sent me sprawling to the ground, where I found myself struggling to get back up.

Chaos was everywhere, as some Marines dove for cover and still others moved into fighting positions. The base erupted with gunfire; all of it out going and concentrated in one area.

Slowly I got to my feet and looked around, my ears weren’t ringing like they had been a few seconds ago. And I expected my head to hurt, but I didn’t feel dizzy anymore.

“Holy shit!” I exclaimed as the Gunny came rushing past me and towards the body of a man lying dead near where I had sat.

“Hell,” I said aloud, “I didn’t even know there was anybody there.”

“Corpsman up!” someone yelled, while others shouted, “Doc!” repeatedly.

Guys were looking all around for Doc even though I was standing right there. It left me confused

Then Guns rolled the dead Marine over onto his back, and someone said in disbelief, “Crap, it is Doc.”

I look around me, thinking, “No, it can’t be. I’m right here.”

Then from someplace behind me, I felt more than saw a faint glow. As I slowly turned to see what it was, it grew brighter, until I could no longer see anything but the light.

“Doc, you’ve been reassigned,” a voice called out to me, “We require your presence at Forward Operating Base Nine.”

I looked back at the body still lying on the ground and knew then what was happening.

Docent

Even though a storm left several inches of new fallen snow in the Sierra Mountain this last week, I decided to use one of my days off to get out and enjoy the winter weather with a hike at Donner Lake.  Once in the parking lot of the interpretive center, I found I couldn’t visit the bronze statue because of construction.

So I went inside, paid for my parking spot and then sat down and watched a 20 minute film about the Donner Party. From there I followed the trail south to one of the three cabin sites, so I could get a feel for the remoteness of the place.

In April 1846, a group of families left Missouri, bound for California. Their wagon train was seriously delayed when a “shortcut” was anything but.  An early and severe snowstorm prevented passage over the High Sierra forcing the ill-fated party to spend the winter near present-day Truckee.

Once their provisions were gone and the oxen consumed, the desperate emigrants resorted to cannibalizing their dead friends and relatives. Forty-two of the 89 would-be settlers perished.

But that was long ago, and today the sights along the trail are breathtaking, especially with a layer of snow on the ground and Donner Creek flowing through the grasslands. I am glad I had my camera in hand as I stopped several times to snap photos of the beauty.

As I approached the site of the Murphy cabin, a young brunette woman in her mid-20s named Ellie met me. Dressed in a period costume of dark brown, a dirty bodice and skirt with an apron that had at one time been white, she looked like she had stepped right off the Emigrant Trail.

She also wore raw-hide, square-toed boots, a dark-blue cotton “slat” bonnet. And round her shoulders was a tattered old blanket, folded in a triangle.

Not only was she dressed for the part, she played the part too. Ellie told me her  husband Will built the cabin, which housed 13 people, using a large granite boulder for its west wall, keeping the snow from collapsing the wooden frame.

Ellie’s authenticity and knowledge and the fact she was willing to brave the chill to teach visitors about this sad piece of history, left me impressed. I went to take her picture but my camera’s battery was dead.

After she told me about the cabin site, and the horrors that occurred there, we said goodbye and I wandered back towards my truck. But I stopped into the center first to look around some more and to pay a compliment to Ellie.

The two woman, staffing the center, looked at me as if I were out of my mind as one stated, “We don’t have anyone named Ellie working here.”

“What?” I asked.

Then the second chimed in,”And we don’t do tours.”

The Battle Within

When I was in the U.S. Air Force, Strategic Air Command was still a part of the services’ culture. It disbanded in 1992, considered an outmoded form of defense.

What I recall from those days was Sac’s motto:  “Peace is Our Profession.” I’ve often thought about this and long ago realized it was true because peace comes through strength.

Once again, like during the Carter presidency and the Clinton presidency, we are seeing a downgrading of our military forces. President Obama and his ilk are bent on reducing our strength to the bare bones, if not farther.

This gives the signal to other world powers, like Russia, China and Iran the idea that this nation no longer has the will to fight for the rights of other countries who are being aggressed upon by rogue nations.  The threat has turned from a Cold-War mentality to a financial, geographical and theological warfare.

The only thing that deters rogue nations is our military strength. Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill understood this, Bill Clinton and Neville Chamberlain didn’t.

Obviously, Barack Obama get’s it and is forcing it to happen because it fits in with his over-all plan to drag America in third-world status. The battle must start from within our nation.

When the Sewage Treatment Plant Burned

The look on the deputies face was one of puzzlement, I thought. I recognized him as someone who I had attended high school with, though he was three years older than me.

“Yes, Darby,” I repeated to the deputy as we both stood in the glare emitted from the patrol car’s headlights.

I was holding the top of my head, a faint line of blood trickled its way from under my hand. I offered to show the deputy the injury.

After a quick look the deputy asked, “So where’d this happen?”

Both my girlfriend, Cathy and I pointed to the open field and the half-burned out wood framed shack.

“We saw somebody sneaking around it as we drove up the road,” Cathy offered.

“So how’d you get hit in the head?” the deputy asked as he turned back to look at me.

I looked down at my feet and then back up towards the deputy and replied, “I went over there to confront whoever was sneaking around the place.” I paused to gather my thoughts, then added, “I stepped around the backside of the building and that’s when I got smacked on top of the head.”

The deputy and his partner both turned and aimed their flashlights towards the derelict shack. Then the pair cautiously proceeded across the field to it.

After walking around the building and checked the field, the two wandered back to the patrol car. They explained to us that they couldn’t find any sign of an intruder and that had one been there, he or she were gone now.

“So are you sure you got hit in the head here?” the deputy asked.

“Yeah, I’m sure,” I answered, feeling a little on the indignant side.

Cathy and I glanced at one another, then she asked, “Why?”

She didn’t get an answer, instead her question was met with another, “Where were you coming from?”

“The football game,” I answered, adding, “Look, if you’re not gonna believe us then quit wasting our time, so I can get inside and get a rag to put on top of my head!”

After a few seconds of silence, the deputies partner responded, “Okay then — we can’t really do anymore here anyway.”

The pair then got back the cruiser and backed down the driveway a few yards, turned around and drove back to Lake Earl Drive. Their sudden departure left the night feeling darker than it had before their their arrival.

“What the fuck was that about?” Cathy asked me as we walked towards the main house.

I shook my head and answered, “I don’t know.”

The following day, Cathy got up and headed into work at KPOD. She called me a few minutes after arriving at the station and told me about the sewage treatment plant being destroyed the night before.

It was unusual for her to call me, jus’ to let me know something she knew I’d hear about on the radio as soon as I got around to turning it on. So I felt compelled to ask her, “Why are you telling me this?”

Cathy paused a couple of seconds, then replied, saying, “Your brother’s name has come up in connection with what the cops are calling an arson investigation.”

“Ah, shit!” I exclaimed.

Within hours the news about the arson fire was all over the news, and in the newspapers of Del Norte, Humboldt and Curry Counties. However, Adam’s name was never mentioned in any of the articles.

Yet, less than two-months later, Adam joined the U.S. Army and would never return to the county to live again. The rapid decision to suddenly enlist wasn’t lost on me either.

And while I can only speculate about what actually happened that night, I know the crime has remained officially unsolved since it occurred.

Between Great and Good

There is a difference between a great nation and a good nation. America is not only a great nation, but moreover, it is a good nation.

Russia is also a great nation. But this is simply in terms of military power and influence within the United Nations.

Likewise, China remains a great nation, in the same respect as Russia.  But we know neither nation is all that good.

A good nation is not defined by its greatness, rather it is judged by what it has done to help other nations throughout this world. Yes, mistakes have been made, but in the end, those errors are far outdone by the help we’ve rendered as a people, though our military and through the spreading of democracy.

In the end, I’ll take good over great any day.

Harry’s First Order of Business

The day following President Obama’s election to a second term, Nevada Senator and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he is working to change the rules governing filibusters. He claims Republicans had “abused” the procedure and hamstrung the chamber.

“Everyone should understand we’re going to move to change the Republican plot to make the Senate an institution that has no bearing,” Reid said.

Reid said Republicans had made passing legislation impossible by using filibusters on the motion to proceed. He cited the Farm Bill and the Postal Bill as two specific examples of the things he said the Senate still had pending.

“We can’t vote on it. Why? Because it takes three filibusters, we have to overcome three filibusters,” he said. “We’re going to really make an attempt to change the rules, and we are working to make sure we have the votes to change the rules.”

Meanwhile Nevada continues to lead the nation in unemployment, and the national numbers continue to tick back upward over 8-percent.

Guess the old saying is true: If you can’t win using the current rules, change them.

Final Flight

Hiker Preston Morrow found Steve Fossett’s identification cards on in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. The crash site was discovered a few days later, 65 miles due south from the Flying-M Ranch where he took off, and 5 miles  due west of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s base operations, although his remains were not initially found.

“This is beyond the realm of anything imaginable,” Morrow said. “I personally don’t like it, but I will say I’m happy I found what I found.”

At 8:45 am, on Monday September 3, 2007 — Labor Day — Fossett took off in a single-engine Bellanca Super Decathlon airplane from a private airstrip in Yerington, Nevada, owned by Barron Hilton. Fossett was reported missing the same day.

The search for Fossett began about six hours later. Despite a month of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and others, Fossett could not be found, and the search by CAP was called off on October 2, 2007.

The aircraft had tail number N240R registered to the “Flying M Hunting Club, Inc.” There was no signal from the plane’s “Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon” emergency locator transmitter (ELT) designed to be automatically activated in the event of a crash, but it was of an older type notorious for failing to operate after a crash.

It was first thought that Fossett may have also been wearing a Swiss-made Breitling Emergency watch with a manually operated ELT that had a range of up to 90 miles but no signal was received from it. Fossett’s wife, Peggy, later issued a statement clarifying that he owned such a watch, but was not wearing it when he took off for the Labor Day flight

Steve Fossett was born April 22, 1944 and grew to be a businessman, and a record-setting aviator, sailor, and adventurer.  Fossett was born in Jackson, Tennessee but he grew up in Garden Grove, California and graduating from Garden Grove High School.

He made his fortune in the financial services industry, and was best known for many world record, including five nonstop circumnavigations of the Earth: as a long-distance solo balloonist, as a sailor, and as a solo flight fixed-wing aircraft pilot. A fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Explorers Club, Fossett set 116 records in five different sports, 60 of which still stood when he disappeared.

Fossett’s interest in adventure began early. As a Boy Scout, he grew up climbing the mountains of California, beginning with the San Jacinto Mountains.

His father, an Eagle Scout, encouraged Fossett to pursue these types of adventures and encouraged him to become involved with the Boy Scouts early. He became an active member of Troop 170 in Orange, California.

At age 13, Fossett earned the Boy Scouts’ highest rank of Eagle Scout and was a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, the Boy Scouts’ honor society, where he served as lodge chief. He also worked as a Ranger at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico during the summer of 1961.

Scouting was the most important activity of his youth admitted in 2006.

“When I was 12 years old I climbed my first mountain, and I just kept going, taking on more diverse and grander projects,” Fossett wrote.

In later years, he was described as a “legend” by fellow Scouts.As a national BSA volunteer, he served as Chairman of the Northern Tier High Adventure Committee, Chairman of the Venturing Committee, member of the Philmont Ranch Committee, and member of the National Advisory Council.

He later became a member of the BSA National Executive Board, and in 2007, Fossett succeeded Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as president of the National Eagle Scout Association after having served on the World Scout Committee.

Fossett was honored with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 1992. In 1999, he received the Silver Buffalo Award, BSA’s highest recognition of service to youth.

In college at Stanford University, Fossett was already known as an adventurer; his Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity brothers convinced him to swim to Alcatraz and raise a banner that read “Beat Cal” on the wall of the prison, closed two years previously. He made the swim, but was thwarted by a security guard when he arrived.

In 1966, Fossett graduated from Stanford with a degree in economics. Two years later, Fossett received an MBA from the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and married  Peggy Viehland of Richmond Heights, Missouri.

Fossett’s first job out of business school was with IBM; he then served as a consultant for Deloitte and Touche, and later accepted a job with Marshall Field’s.

Fossett later said, “For the first five years of my business career, I was distracted by being in computer systems, and then I became interested in financial markets. That’s where I thrived.”

Fossett then became a successful commodities salesman in Chicago, first for Merrill Lynch in 1973, where he proved a highly successful producer of commission revenue for himself and that firm. He began working in 1976 for Drexel Burnham, which assigned him one of its memberships on the Chicago Board of Trade and permitted him to market the services of the firm from a phone on the floor of that exchange.

In 1980, Fossett began the process that eventually produced his enduring prosperity: renting exchange memberships to would-be floor traders, first on the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

After 15 years of working for other companies, Fossett founded his own firms, Marathon Securities and Lakota Trading, from which he made millions renting exchange memberships.  He founded Lakota Trading for that purpose in 1980.

In the early 1980s, he founded Marathon Securities and extended that successful formula to memberships on the New York stock exchanges. He earned millions renting floor trading privileges (exchange memberships) to hopeful new floor traders, who would also pay clearing fees to Fossett’s clearing firms in proportion to the trading activity of those renting the memberships.

By 1997, the trading volume of its rented memberships was larger than any other clearing firm on the Chicago exchange. Lakota Trading replicated that same business plan on many exchanges in the United States and also in London.

Fossett would later use those revenues to finance his adventures.

“There was a period of time where I wasn’t doing anything except working for a living. I became very frustrated with that and finally made up my mind to start getting back into things,” he said

He began to take six weeks a year off to spend time on sports and eventually moved to Beaver Creek, Colorado, in 1990, where for a time he ran his business from a distance. Fossett later sold most of his business interests, although he maintained an office in Chicago until 2006.

Fossett became well known in the United Kingdom for his friendship with billionaire Richard Branson, who’s Virgin Group sponsored some of Fossett’s adventures.

Steve Fossett was well known for his world records and adventures in balloons, sailboats, gliders, and powered aircraft. He was an aviator of exceptional breadth of experience, from his quest to become the first person to achieve a solo balloon flight around the world (finally succeeding on his sixth attempt, in 2002, becoming the first person to complete an uninterrupted and unrefueled solo circumnavigation of the world in any kind of aircraft) to setting, with co-pilot Terry Delore, 10 of the 21 Glider Open records, including the first 2,000 km Out-and-Return, the first 1,500 km Triangle and the longest Straight Distance flights.

His achievements as a jet pilot in a Cessna Citation X include records for U.S. Transcontinental, Australia Transcontinental, and Round-the-World westbound non-supersonic flights. Prior to Fossett’s aviation records, no pilot had held world records in more than one class of aircraft; Fossett held them in four classes.

Fossett made the first solo in 2005, nonstop, unrefueled circumnavigation of the world in an airplane, in 67 hours in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, a single-engine jet aircraft. The following year, he again circumnavigated the globe nonstop and unrefueled in 76 hours, 45 minutes in the GlobalFlyer, setting the record for the longest flight by any aircraft in history with a distance of 25,766 statute miles.

He set 91 aviation world records ratified by Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, plus 23 sailing world records ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council. Then on August 29, 2006 he set the world altitude record for gliders over El Calafate, Argentina at 50,722 feet.

Management and sponsorship of the majority of his projects was handled by UK based sports marketing agency Project 100 Communications Ltd for whom Fossett had first driven at Le Mans in 1992.

Fossett landed in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada, on  February 21, 1995 after taking off from South Korea, becoming the first person to make a solo flight across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon.

He became the first person to fly around the world alone in 2002, nonstop, in any kind of aircraft. He launched the 10-story high balloon Spirit of Freedom from Northam, Western Australia, on June 19, 2002 and returned to Australia on July 3, 2002, subsequently landing in Queensland.

Duration and distance of this solo balloon flight was 13 days, 8 hours, 33 minutes 20,626.48 statute miles. The balloon dragged him along the ground for 20 minutes at the end of the flight.

Fossett’s top speed during the flight was 186 miles per hour over the Indian Ocean. Only the capsule survived the landing; it was taken to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, where it was displayed.

The trip set a number of records for ballooning: Fastest (200 miles per hour, breaking his own previous record of 166 miles per hour), Fastest Around the World (13.5 days), Longest Distance Flown Solo in a Balloon (20,482.26 miles), and 24-Hour Balloon Distance (3,186.80 miles) on July 1.

While Fossett had financed five previous tries himself, his successful record-setting flight was sponsored by Bud Light. In the end, Fossett actually made money on all his balloon flights; he bought a contingency insurance policy for $500,000 that would pay him $3 million if he succeeded in the flight, and along with sponsorship, that payout meant that in the end, Fossett did not have to spend any of his money other than for initial expenses.

Fossett was also one of the world’s most accomplished sailors. Speed sailing was his specialty and from 1993 to 2004 he dominated the record sheets, setting 23 official world records and nine distance race records.

On the maxi-catamaran Cheyenne (formerly named PlayStation), Fossett twice set the prestigious 24 Hour Record of Sailing. In October 2001, Fossett and his crew set a transatlantic record of 4 days 17 hours, shattering the previous record by 43 hours 35 minutes — an increase in average speed of nearly seven knots.

As skipper, Fossett set the world record for fastest circumnavigation of the world (58 days, 9 hours) in Cheyenne with a crew of 13 in early 2004. Nearly three-years later, Fossett held the world record for crossing the Pacific Ocean in his 125-foot sailboat, the PlayStation, which he accomplished on his fourth try.

At the time of his death, a submarine, DeepFlight Challenger, was under construction to let him be the first solo submariner to reach the Challenger Deep. That honor eventually went to film director and adventurer James Cameron in April 2012.

Fossett set the Absolute World Speed Record for airships on October 27, 2004. The new record for fastest flight was accomplished with a Zeppelin NT, at a recorded average speed of 62.2 knots.

The previous record was 50.1 knots set in 2001 in a Virgin airship. In 2006, Fossett was one of only 17 pilots in the world licensed to fly the Zeppelin.

He made the first solo nonstop unrefueled fixed-wing aircraft flight around the world between February 28, 2005, and March 3, 2005. He took off from Salina, Kansas, where he was assisted by faculty members and students from Kansas State University, and flew eastbound, with the prevailing winds, returning to Salina after 67 hours, 1 minute, 10 seconds, without refueling or making intermediate landings.

His average speed of 342.2 mph was also the absolute world record for “speed around the world, nonstop and non-refueled.” His aircraft, the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, had a carbon fiber reinforced plastic airframe, with a single Williams FJ44 turbofan engine.

It was designed and built by Burt Rutan and his company, Scaled Composites, for long-distance solo flight. The fuel fraction, the weight of the fuel divided by the weight of the aircraft at take-off, was 83 percent.

Fossett set the absolute world record on February 11, 2006,  for “distance without landing” by flying from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, around the world eastbound, then upon returning to Florida continuing across the Atlantic a second time to land in Bournemouth, England.  The official distance was 25,766 statute miles and the duration was 76 hours 45 minutes.

The next month, Fossett made a third flight around the world in order to break the absolute record for “Distance over a closed circuit without landing” (with takeoff and landing at the same airport). He took off from Salina, Kansas on March 14, 2006 and returned on March 17, 2006 after flying 25,262 statute miles.

There are only seven absolute world records for fixed-wing aircraft recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale and Fossett broke three of them in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer. All three records were previously held by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager from their flight in the Voyager in 1986.

Fossett contributed the GlobalFlyer to the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent collection. It is on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum after he personally flew the plane to the Center and taxied it to the front door.

The record setting pilot added two U.S. transcontinental fixed-wing aircraft records to his list of achievements in the same day. On February 5, 2003, he flew his Cessna Citation X jet from San Diego, California to Charleston, South Carolina in 2 hours, 56 minutes, 20 seconds, at an average speed of 726.83 mph to smash the transcontinental record for non-supersonic jets.

He returned to San Diego, and then flew the same course as co-pilot for fellow adventurer Joe Ritchie in Ritchie’s turboprop Piaggio Avanti. Their time was 3 hours, 51 minutes, 52 seconds, an average speed of 546.44 mph, which broke the previous turboprop transcontinental record held by Chuck Yeager and Renald Davenport.

Fossett also set the east-to-west transcontinental record for non-supersonic fixed-wing aircraft on September 17, 2000. He flew from Jacksonville, Florida to San Diego, California in 3 hours, 29 minutes, at an average speed of 591.96 mph.

On July 2, 2005, Fossett and co-pilot Mark Rebholz re-created the first nonstop crossing of the Atlantic which was made by the British team of John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown in June 1919 in a Vickers Vimy biplane. Their flight from St. John’, Newfoundland, Canada to Clifden, Ireland in the open cockpit Vickers Vimy replica took 18 hours 25 minutes with 13 hours flown in instrument flight conditions.

Because there was no airport in Clifden, Fossett and Rebholz landed on the 8th fairway of the Connemarra Golf Course.

The team of Steve Fossett and Terry Delore set ten official world records in gliders while flying in three major locations: New Zealand, Argentina and Nevada, United States. An asterisk indicates records subsequently broken by other pilots.

Fossett and co-pilot Einar Enevoldson flew a glider into the stratosphere on August 29, 2006. The flight set the Absolute Altitude Record for gliders at 50,727 feet.

Since the glider cockpit was unpressurized, the pilots wore full pressure suits (similar to space suits) so that they would be able to fly to altitudes above 45,000 feet. Fossett and Enevoldson had made previous attempts in three countries over a period of five years before finally succeeding with this record flight.

As a young adventurer, Fossett was one of the first participants in the Worldloppet, a series of cross country ski marathons around the world. While he had little experience as a skier, he was in the first group of ‘citizen athletes’ to participate in the series debut in 1979.

And in 1980, he became the eighth skier to complete all 10 of the long distance races, earning a Worldloppet medallion. He has also set cross-country skiing records in Colorado, setting an Aspen to Vail record of 59 hr, 53 min, 30 sec in February 1998, and an Aspen to Eagle record of 12 hr, 29 min in February 2001.

Fossett was a lifelong mountain climber and had climbed the highest peaks on six of the seven continents. In the 1980s, he became friends with Patrick Morrow, who was attempting to climb the highest peaks on all seven continents for the “Seven Summits” world record (which Morrow did achieve in 1985).

He accompanied Morrow for his last three peaks, including Vinson Massif in Antarctica, Carstensz Pyramid in Oceania, and Elbrus in Europe. While Fossett went on to climb almost all of the Seven Summits peaks himself, he declined to climb Mount Everest in 1992 due to asthma. He also later returned to Antarctica to climb again.

He competed in and completed premier endurance sports events, including the 1,165-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, in which he finished 47th on his second try in 1992 after training for five years. He became the 270th person to swim across the English Channel on his fourth try in September 1985 with a time of 22 hours, 15 minutes.

Although Fossett said he was not a good enough swimmer “to make the varsity swim team”, he found that he could swim for long periods. Fossett competed in the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii (finishing in 1996 in 15:53:10), the Boston Marathon, and the Leadville Trail 100, a 100-mile Colorado ultramarathon which involves running up elevations of more than 14,000 feet  in the Rocky Mountains.

Fossett raced cars in the mid-1970s and later returned to the sport in the 1990s. He competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans road race twice, in 1993 and in 1996, along with the Paris to Dakar Rally.

He tried six times over seven years for the first solo balloon circumnavigation. His fifth attempt cost him $1.25 million of his own money; his sixth and successful attempt was commercially sponsored.

In 1998, one of the unsuccessful attempts at the ballooning record ended with a five-mile plummet into the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia that nearly killed Fossett; he waited 72 hours to be rescued, at a cost of $500,000.

The first attempt began in the Black Hills of South Dakota and ended in New Brunswick 1,800 miles later. The second attempt, launched from Busch Stadium, cost $300,000 and lasted 9,600 miles before being downed halfway in a tree in India; the trip set records at the time for duration and distance of flight — with Fossett doubling his own previous record — and was called Solo Spirit after Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis.

Fossett slept an average of two hours a night for the six-day journey, conducted in below-zero temperatures. After taking too much fuel to cross the Atlantic Ocean and circling Libya for 12 hours while officials decided whether or not to allow him into their airspace, Fossett did not have enough fuel to finish the flight.

That year, Fossett flew farther for less money than better-financed expeditions — including one supported by Richard Branson — in part due to his ability to fly in an un-pressurized capsule, a result of his heavy physical training at high altitudes. The Solo Spirit capsule was put on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum across from the Apollo 11 command module.

In 2002, Fossett received aviation’s highest award, the Gold Medal of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) and in July 2007, he was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame. He was presented at the ceremony by Dick Rutan.

In 1997, Fossett was inducted into the Balloon and Airship Hall of Fame. In February 2002, Fossett was named America’s Rolex Yachtsman of the Year by the America Sailing Association at the New York Yacht Club.

He was the oldest recipient of the award in its 41-year history, and he was the only recipient to fly himself to the ceremony in his own plane.

He received the Explorers Medal from the Explorers Club following his solo balloon circumnavigation. He was given the Diplôme de Montgolfier by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale in 1996.

He received the Harmon Trophy, given annually “to the world’s outstanding aviator and aeronaut”, in 1998 and 2002. He received the Grande Médaille of the Aéro-Club de France, and the British Royal Aero Club’s Gold Medal in 2002 and the Order of Magellan and the French Republic’s Médaille de l’Aéronautique in 2003.

The Scaled Composites White Knight Two VMS Spirit of Steve Fossett was named in Fossett’s honor by his friend Richard Branson, in 2007. Following his disappearance, Peggy Fossett and Dick Rutan accepted the Spread Wings Award in Steve Fossett’s behalf at the 2007 Spreading Wings Gala, Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, Denver, Colorado.

Fossett took off with enough fuel for four to five hours of flight, according to Civil Air Patrol spokesperson Major Cynthia Ryan. CAP searchers were told that Fossett had gone out for a short flight over favorite territory, possibly including the areas of Lucky Boy Pass and Walker Lake.

At one point it was suggested that he might have been out scouting for potential sites to conduct a planned land speed run, but that later turned out to be untrue. A Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson noted that Fossett apparently did not file a flight plan, and was not required to do so.

On the second day, Civil Air Patrol aircraft searched but found no trace of wreckage after initiating a complex and expanding search of what would later evolve into a nearly 20,000 square miles area of some of the most rugged terrain in North America. The search presented a severe challenge from the standpoint of flying hundreds of hours in very difficult conditions safely.

On the first day of CAP searching, operations were suspended by mid-day due to high winds, according to Ryan. By the fourth day, the Civil Air Patrol was using fourteen aircraft in the search effort, including one equipped with the ARCHER system that could automatically scan detailed imaging for a given signature of the missing aircraft.

By the end of the week, search crews had found eight previously uncharted crash sites, some of which are decades old, but none related to Fossett’s disappearance. The urgency of what was still regarded as a rescue mission meant that minimal immediate effort was made to identify the aircraft in the uncharted crash sites, although some had speculated that one could have belonged to Charles Ogle, missing since 1964.

All told, about two dozen aircraft were involved in the massive search, operating primarily from the primary search base at Minden, Nevada, with a secondary search base located at Bishop, California. CAP searchers came from Wings across the United States, including Nevada, Utah, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Google Inc.. helped the search for the aviator through its connections to contractors that provide satellite imagery for its Google Earth software. Sir Richard Branson, British billionaire and friend of Fossett, said he and others were coordinating efforts with Google to see if any of the high-resolution images might include Fossett’s aircraft.

The first of a series of new high-resolution imagery from DigitalGlobe were made available via the Amazon Mechanical Turk beta website so that users could flag potential areas of interest for searching, in what is known as Crowdsourcing. Within three days up to 50,000 people had joined the effort, scrutinizing more than 300,000 278-foot-square squares of the imagery.

Peter Cohen of Amazon believed the entire search area had been covered at least once. Amazon’s search effort was eventually shut down without any measurable success.

Ryan later said it had been more of a hindrance than a help. She said that persons purporting to have seen the aircraft on the Mechanical Turk or have special knowledge clogged her email during critical days of the search, and for even months afterward.

Many of the ostensible sightings proved to be images of CAP aircraft flying search grids, or simply mistaken artifacts of old images. Psychics flooded the search base in Minden with predictions of where the aviator could be found.

Ryan got the majority of these calls personally, often at her home, in the middle of the night. One man from Canada was particularly persistent with daily calls to Ryan, interfering with her press briefings.

Ryan asked her Incident Commander to issue a ‘cease and desist order,’ backed up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) if necessary. Ryan noted that every message, letter, or phone call was taken seriously — which swamped the USAF specialists assigned the task of reviewing every one of them without regard to apparent plausibility.

In retrospect, the crowdsource effort was “not ready for prime time,” according to Ryan.

Of course Ryan sparked her own troubles when she suggested the adventurer may have faked his own death, speculating he’d done so because of personal problems or fears about his business dealings.

“I’ve been doing this search and rescue for 14 years. Fossett should have been found, she said. “It’s not like we didn’t have our eyes open. We found six other planes while we were looking for him. We’re pretty good at what we do.”

After her comments were picked up by the national and international media, the national headquarters of the Civil Air Patrol responded.

“Recent comments attributed to Ryan regarding the search for Fossett contain errors of fact, appear to be taken out of context and were not released with the knowledge or approval of CAP,” said CAP Lt. Col. E.J. Smith.

Ryan’s comments also drew the ire of Branson.

“I’m absolutely sure that it’s absolutely bullocks. And you know he’s was the most wonderful man and he had everything to live for,” Branson said. “I think it’s pretty unfortunate that people are speculating this way. It’s below the belt and pretty unpleasant.”

Furthermore, speculation started to take amore sinister turn as Internet sites began offering up the idea that Fawcett was being used as a cover-story to assist the U.S. Air Force recover a 150 ton nuclear warhead.

This story originated two-days before Fawcett’s disappearance when it was learned a B-52 bomber took off from Minot Air Force base in North Dakota, flying to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana while carrying five or six Advanced Cruise Missiles.  Many conspiracy theorists came to believe a warhead was missing due to the discrepancy in the count.

“There was an error which occurred during a regularly scheduled transfer of weapons between two bases,” commented a Pentagon spokesperson. “The weapons were safe and remained in Air Force control and custody at all times.”

Eventually the rumors faded allowing teams to return to looking for the missing flier.

Survival experts speculated that Fossett was likely to be dead. Within five day of this announcement, the Nevada Wing of the Civil Air Patrol said it was suspending all flights in connection with its search operations, but National Guard search flights, private search flights and ground searches continued.

The National Transportation Safety Board began a preliminary investigation into the likely crash of the plane that Fossett was flying. The preliminary report originally stated that Fossett was “presumed fatally injured and the aircraft substantially damaged”, but was subsequently revised to remove that assumption.

Authorities confirmed they would stop actively looking for Fossett in the Nevada Desert, but would keep air crews on standby to fly to possible crash sites.

“Nobody is giving up on this man”, said department spokesman. “The search is going to continue. It’s just going to be scaled back”, he said.

However, it was announced that after further analysis of radar data from the day of his disappearance, ground teams and two aircraft had resumed the search.

The Civil Air Patrol announced it had called off its search operation. Ryan later noted that the search was the largest, most complex peacetime search for an individual in U.S. history.

Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons’ spokesman, Ben Kieckhefer told the media that Gibbons had decided to direct the state to charge Steve Fossett’s family for the $687,000 expense of the search for Fossett.  Kieckhefer later played the report down saying Gibbons did not intend to demand an involuntary payment from Fossett’s widow, but that such a payment would be voluntary

“We are going to request that they help offset some of these expenses, considering the scope of the search, the overall cost as well as our ongoing budget difficulties,”  Kieckhefer said

Kieckhefer denied outright that a bill for the family was being prepared, and he said, “It will probably be in the form of a letter,” which Kieckhefer indicated would include a financial outline of the steps taken by the state, the associated costs, and a mention of the state’s ongoing budget difficulties.

Days prior to this announcement, state Emergency Management Director Frank Siracusa noted that “there is no precedent where government will go after people for costs just because they have money to pay for it. You get lost, and we look for you. It is a service your taxpayer dollars pay for”, although he conceded that legally any decision would rest with Gibbons.

During a 2008 Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee hearing, Siracusa indicated that he had hired an independent auditor to review costs incurred by the state in searching for Fossett, but added, “We are doing an audit but not because we are critical of anybody or suspect something was done wrong”.

Chairman Morse Arberry queried Siracusa as to why, since they lacked funds, had the state not billed the Fossett family for its search costs, to which Siracusa did not directly respond. Later he stated his comments to the Committee may have given the false impression that he had hired an auditor for the purpose of later challenging the state’s financial burden incurred on its behalf by the National Guard during the search operation.

Hilton, from whose ranch Fossett had departed on the day he went missing, had previously volunteered $200,000 to help pay for the search costs. In the end, the Nevada search cost $1.6 million, “the largest search and rescue effort ever conducted for a person within the U.S.”

In the end it was the hiker who found the missing adventurer, the widow chose to praise.

“I especially want to thank Preston, who made this discovery and turned over Steve’s belongings to the authorities,” Peggy Fawcett said.

Almost a year after Fossett went missing; twenty-eight friends and admirers conducted a foot search based on new clues gathered by the team. That search concluded September 10.

Late in the day, air search teams spotted wreckage on the ground at coordinates and a team was sent out to search for possible remains. But Gary Derks, Director of the Nevada Division of Emergency Management, said it was unlikely that any significant remains would be found.

“If they are, it’ll be a miracle,” he said, citing the passage of time, the rough winter and the presence of animals in the area.

Near the end of the month, search teams recovered two large human bones that they suspected might belong to Fossett. . Tennis shoes with animal bite marks on them were also recovered.

These bones were found a half miles east of the crash site on Volcanic Ridge, part of the Ritter Range.

Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said that DNA testing of the two bones by a California Department of Justice forensics laboratory confirmed a match to Fossett’s DNA.  He added Fossett would have died on impact in such a crash, and that it was not unusual for animals to drag remains away.

This fact does not explain how the ends of the aerobatic harness he was wearing could have come free from the 5-point cam-lock, considering that their release requires the cam-lock knob be twisted a quarter-turn. Manipulating the cam-lock could not have been accomplished by someone other than Fossett.

According to interviews by the Discovery Channel — who provided a camera crew the day after his ID was found by a hiker — the one fact that disputes the official findings was the location of hardware that had been part of the pilot’s harness. Pilots who knew him were interviewed by the Discovery Channel for a January 2009 documentary on the incident in which they expressed certainty that the harness could not have been released by any animal that may have moved his body.

The reason for their opinion pertains to the mechanism (twisting) required to release the harness and the fact that no other hardware was attached. However, there is no evidence to suggest that this harness was in use or being worn at the time of the crash.

The NTSB issued its report and findings. It states that the plane crashed at an elevation of about 10,000 feet, 300 feet below the crest of the ridge.

The elevation of peaks in the area exceeded 13,000 feet. However, the density altitude in the area at the time and place of the crash was estimated to be 12,700 feet.

The aircraft, a tandem two-seater, was nearly 30 years old, and Fossett had flown approximately 40 hours in this type. The plane’s operating manual says that at an altitude of 13,000 feet the rate of climb would be 300 feet per minute.

The NTSB report says that “a meteorologist from Salinas provided a numerical simulation of the conditions in the accident area using the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting numerical model. At 0930 — the approximate time of the crash — the model displayed downdrafts in that area of approximately 300 feet per minute.

There was no evidence of equipment failure.

Finally, the NTSB declared the probable cause of the crash as “the pilot’s inadvertent encounter with downdrafts that exceeded the climb capability of the airplane. Contributing to the accident were the downdrafts, high density altitude, and mountainous terrain.”

Asked why he takes risks, Fossett claimed they simply a set of problems to be solved.

“I don’t seek risk,” he said. “I don’t like to be scared and I spend a lot of effort figuring out how to reduce risks.”

As of 2012, Fossett’s remains had not yet been interred.

Christmas Star

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

“Oh, Mary, my dear wife,” said Joseph the Carpenter, “we shall rest here in this manger for there is no tavern open for us.”

“It shall be alright,” Mary replied,” My worried Joseph, will be alright.”

“I pray that it shall,” Joseph responded as he helped her down from the donkey and in the hay.

“It is time,” Mary said as her breathing became labored.

Joseph watched and helped as best he could while Mary gave birth to the baby named Jesus.

Overhead a star shined brightly. It was brighter than any star ever seen. Then angels appeared. They whispered among themselves so as not to wake the newborn babe.

Soon shepherds arrived at the stables entrance, walking on broken sandals. They said in unison, “We have heard of a King being born here.”

Joseph just nodded his head and Mary warmly smiled as the three ragged shepherds walked up to the manger to gaze upon the sleeping baby Jesus. They smiled, then kneeled down and began to pray.

Just as that happened, three Kings appeared at the stable’s entrance, asking about the baby. They asked in unison, “Is the child-King born upon this blessed morn?”

Again Joseph nodded and Mary smiled as they walked up and looked into the manger at the baby.

The first King said, “I have frankincense to offer.” He handed it to Mary for the baby and kneeled to pray.

The second King said, “I give myrrh to him.” He gave it to Mary for Jesus. He kneeled and began to pray.

The last King gave incense to the baby’s Mother and also started to pray. As the third King started to pray the Angels started to sing “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

Without warning all the stage lights came on and the Director shouted, “Alright folks lets call it a night! Don’t forget tomorrow night is opening night!”

Soon everyone was gone. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the Kings. The little Baby Jesus and all the host of Angels in heaven were gone. The stage was in total silence. The props were put away except for the star. It still shined brightly.

Someone had forgotten to turn it off…or was it something else?

Irish Family Reunioun

1996

Now when the family gets together
We laugh and we sing and we drink
Then “Do you remember…” stampedin’
The tears we find hard not to blink.

My kinfolk will poke fun at my style
Of clothes that I’ve chosen to wear.
“Code of the West” is fiction to them,
Even though common stock we do share.

I swear I’m a Mick through and through
As they guffaw and fill me with guilt,
Til I point out my boots and hat ain’t bad,
When most of the men are wearin’ a kilt.

White Butterfly

I dreamed of my dead brother, Adam in the early morning hours of the day. And as usual we were in some sort of heated exchange with one another.

When I woke up, I lay in bed and thought hard about the dream and tried to recall what it was we were spatting over, all to no avail. Then I noticed a slight movement in the corner of the room, near some family pictures.

Finally, after getting my glasses on, I saw it was a small white butterfly, flitting about the framed photos. I told myself, “It’s too cold for butterflies now,” as I jumped out of bed.

As quickly as I could, I went to the room across the hallway to grab my camera, so I could document this. But by the time a returned, the white butterfly had disappeared, and I’ve been unable to locate it since.

Did my deceased brother’s spirit come to visit me?

Revenge

I don’t expect to be a free man by the end of the next four years. I see myself either purged from the coming “New Society” or imprisoned for seditious acts against the state. I suspect there will be many others accompanying me, so I will not be alone in this journey.

Here’s why —

Socialism is the first stage in Communism, to wit, from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

It is also defined as any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; a system of society or group living in which there is no private property; and a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state.

When the Communist takes control of the U.S., he will begin removing ten’s of thousands of people from the cities. Those unable to make the journey will be abandoned, left to die from starvation and diseases relating to malnutrition.

Those who are able bodied will find themselves forcibly transported to rural areas and worked extremely hard. The Communist will also exterminate “undesirables,” meaning anyone able to read, ethnic minorities and homosexuals, etc.

Since we’re in the throes of this first stage, and I’ve already made it clearly known where I stand, I accept my fate and carry on until that awful time comes.

As Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama and Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs said, “After we win this election, it’s our turn. Payback time. Everyone not with us is against us and they better be ready because we don’t forget. The ones who helped us will be rewarded, the ones who opposed us will get what they we don’t forget.”

This of course was backed up a few days later by Obama, when he said in a speech, “Don’t boo, vote, voting is the best revenge!”

To Rig or Not to Rig? What a Stupid Question!

When campaign minions aren’t fudging the physical vote count, computers, tasked with tallying the vote, are susceptible to hacking – and Republican’s are jus’ as guilty as the Democrats. This year, Barack Obama won the election in Ohio by only 103,481 votes out of the total of 5,291,039 votes, a difference of only 1.9-percent of the vote.

Going back to March 2006, while testifying under oath before the Ohio state legislature, computer programmer Clint Curtis testified about how easy it is to program voting machines to rig an election to come out with the results you want. Curtis testified that he wrote such a program to help Tom Feeney with his bid for re-election to the US House of Representatives.

Unfortunately, the national media has very little news or information on these proceedings or anything like it – unless you want to review the 2000 Presidential election between Al Gore and George Bush. There is however a number of Internet sites that show a video of Curtis testifying.

This leads me back to my original premise that the Republicans and the Democrats are all the same and that the ‘two-party’ ruling class is pulling on over on, “We the People.” And it’ll get worse as time goes on.

The Pain in the Passing

A friend of mine writes:

“Sitting with our Mother, my 3 brothers and I, holding her hands and telling her she can go now. I have fixed her hair, applied full make up, donned her most beautiful robe.

She hasn’t opened her eyes in 3 days.

Although while turning her over to change the bedding I rammed her head into the railing of the bed. Lets just say she can FEEL pain! It didn’t help that I did the same thing to the other side of her head as well.

And when clipping her toenail, I cut her toe! I don’t mean to do these things.

She told me once, ‘Colleen, you only hurt the ones you love. Please Dear, stop loving me so much!’

I tried Mama…I did.”

After reading her pained prose, I was transported back to the early evening my mom died. The memory brought with it an old pang of guilt that I thought I’d laid to rest years ago.

Alas, no.

Everyone was gathered around her bed, her tiny frame curled on her right side, when I suggested we reposition her so she could see everyone. None of use were certain that Mom could see by this time, but we all knew she could hear us.

After telling her we were all there, and that we were going to move her, Deirdre and took her bed sheets and as gently as possible, used it to roll her onto her back. That’s when the dreaded moment began — her heart went into a compensating state, rapidly increasing in its beating.

Within three minutes, she began de-compensating — her heart failing, each spike on the overhead monitor becoming longer and longer between sounds. Then there was silence, that awful, gut-wretching forever silence that one know means there’s no return.

For the longest time afterwards, I emotionally beat myself in every way possible, convinced that she’d have lived longer had I not suggested moving her onto her back. While still feeling guilty, I do realize she was simply waiting for us all to gather to say good-bye before she left this physical world for the next.

So, yes, sometimes we do hurt the one’s we love — but most times, especially in situations like this — we also hurt ourselves unnecessarily. In the end, all I can say is that Mom knows we did our best for her in her passing minutes, and both she and God loves us anyway.

Why the GOP in Nevada is Losing

Word up for the Washoe County, the Nevada state and the Republican National Committees: the Democrats are kicking your arses when it comes to campaigning. Really!

Case in point, I work for a 50,000 watt radio station, which during the day covers most of Nevada and eastern California and at night blasts from Canada to Mexico, with hourly live newscasts.  Yet, none of you pin-heads are calling our news department to ask for interviews.

Well guess what? Your competitors are, and they’re sending fairly well-known names our way to get their message out.

Yeah, names like David Crosby and Stephen Nash. They’ve offered us interviews with folks like Marisa Tomei, Ice Cube and the vice-president’s son Beau, too.

Last week, our state held its 148th birthday bash in Carson City. The RNC had John Ratsenberger, Jon Voight and Kelsey Grammer out pumping hands and kissing babies on behalf of the candidates, but did anyone call the largest radio signal in Reno for a news interview?

That would be a big, fat, no!

No wonder Nevada is being carried by your competitors – you’re too busy bickering among yourselves, with those still carrying a torch for Ron Paul, to the south refusing to work with the north and the state committee arguing with the national committee. Meanwhile our news department, which prides itself on being non-partisan in its reporting, will continue to use what we get and this includes what your competitors sent us.

Frustrating!

RNC Claims Voter Fraud in Nevada

The Republican National Committee is alleging voting machines in Nevada are flawed and improperly casting votes for President Obama. The RNC’s chief counsel says some cases have been reported of votes being placed for Obama when a voter cast a ballot for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

Similar claims were raised in the 2010 U.S. Senate race between Democrat Harry Reid and Republican Sharron Angle.

Nevada’s Secretary of State Ross Miller responds to the charges saying, “Preliminarily, it is nearly technically impossible to pre-program the voting machines in Nevada to vote for a specified candidate because it is not a centralized process and is tested individually by each of Nevada’s 17 counties.”  He also notes the chief counsel did not “provide any direct evidence” that any particular voter experienced ‘errors’ with their voting machines or any contact information to open an investigation.

This means no investigation needed by his office.

Finally, a civil rights group says Reno is one of 30 places where people may be intimidated into not voting. The Advancement Project says it will have staff and lawyers at polling places to aid people having trouble voting, claiming a lack of bilingual poll workers, adding only 29 of 525 the workers are bilingual compared to a 25 percent Spanish-speaking population expected to vote.

The Advancement Project has on its board Gerry Hudson, executive vice-president of  Service Employees International Union and Harry Belefonte, who is also listed as a board member of the progressive think-tank Institute for Policy Studies. Both the Advancement Project and the Institute for Policy Studies have been linked to George Soros, who openly funds progressive-liberal groups through his Soros Fund Management.

Nothing yet from Nevada’s Secretary of State or his office about this.

Signature Song

Early in my career as a radio-music jock at KPOD in Crescent City, I used to sign off every evening with what was known at the time as a “signature song.” I’m not sure if there are any stations left anymore that allow their talent to do this sort of thing, if there are, I haven’t heard them.

The song I selected was “Wildfire,” by Michael Martin Murphy. He wrote the tune in 1968 with a fellow by the name of Larry Cansler and it appeared on Murphy’s 1975 album, “Blue Sky –Night Thunder.”

The first time I heard the song, I fell in love with it for its imagery —

She comes down from Yellow Mountain
On a dark, flat land she rides
On a pony she named Wildfire
With a whirlwind by her side
On a cold Nebraska night

Oh, they say she died one winter
When there came a killing frost
And the pony she named Wildfire
Busted down it’s stall
In a blizzard he was lost

She ran calling Wildfire [x3]

By the dark of the moon I planted
But there came an early snow
There’s been a hoot-owl howling by my window now
For six nights in a row
She’s coming for me, I know
And on Wildfire we’re both gonna go

We’ll be riding Wildfire [x3]

On Wildfire we’re gonna ride
Gonna leave sodbustin’ behind
Get these hard times right on out of our minds
Riding Wildfire

In a 2008 interview with writer Vernell Hackett, Murphy talked about the origins of the song and the context in which in was written.

“I was working on a concept album called The Ballad of Calico for Kenny Rogers with my friend Larry Cansler. I was in my third year of college at UCLA, but I was living in the mountains in California. I would drive down to Larry’s apartment in Los Angeles and sleep on his floor, because we would work sometimes 22 hours a day on the album.

The night “Wildfire” came to me, Larry went to bed and I went to sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor. I dreamed the song in its entirety. I woke up and pounded on Larry’s door and said, “Can you come down and help me with this song?”

His wife got up and made us coffee and we finished it in two or three hours.

The song came from deep down in my subconsciousness. My grandfather told me a story when I was a little boy about a legendary ghost horse that the Indians talked about. In 1936, author J. Frank Dobie identified this ghost horse story as the most prominent one in the lore of the Southwest.

We were working on my album Blue Sky – Night Thunder at the time, and my producer Bob Johnson said, “I don’t see how that song will fit in with the rest of the material for that album.”

I asked him if I could record it as an album cut, because I felt very strongly about it.

We recorded the song at Caribou Ranch in Colorado, ten thousand feet up in the Rocky Mountains. After we recorded the song, Bob said, “You know it came out better than I thought it would. Let’s play it for the kitchen staff here and see what they think.”

They loved it, so Bob said, “OK, we’ll release it as the first single.”

I can’t tell you that I understand what the song means, but I think it’s about getting above the hard times. I’ve had people tell me they wish they could ride that mystical horse and get away from their hard times, whatever they are. I also think a lot of it is wrapped up in my Christian upbringing.

In the Biblical Book of Revelation, it talks about Jesus coming back on a white horse. I came to be a Christian when I was five or six years old and I was a cowboy kid with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, so when the preacher told me that Jesus would come back for me on a white horse, I was all wrapped up in that.

In the ghost story, the horse is a symbol of the Savior, in the same way C.S. Lewis used animals in The Chronicles of Narnia. When I lived in California in the late 60s, a lot of my friends were into the culture of the day—drugs and free sex—and I felt out of place there.

After “Wildfire” came out and was a hit for me, I was able to move back to Texas. So not only was a song I dreamed my most famous song, it also helped me get back to my native state.

People always ask me if I have a horse named Wildfire, and up until a few years I did not. I always said I’d never name a horse after the song. But when I got my Palomino mare, she was exactly what I always dreamed Wildfire to be, so gave her the name to my most famous song.”

Even today, if “Wildfire,” comes on the radio, I find myself belting out the lyrics and painting pictures in my mind from the words as I sing them.

Silver Tailings: There’s a New Show in Town

Perhaps you’ve watched the new CBS television series, “Vegas.” The shows main characters Sheriff Ralph Lamb, is based on a real person.

The show depicts his battle with Vincent Savino, a ruthless Chicago gangster who plans to make Las Vegas his own. Dennis Quaid plays Lamb in the series and Michael Chiklis portrays Savino.

Lamb was sheriff for 18 years, longer than any Clark County sheriff. He forged a rural department into an effective urban one, and was largely responsible for merging the sheriff’s office and the Las Vegas Police Department into the single police agency dubbed Metro.

His grandfather died working cattle, when a horse bucked him off. Later, Lamb’s father met the same fate in 1938, while working as a pick-up rider during Tonopah’s July 4th rodeo.

The deceased Lamb left 11 children, one so young that the father died with a telegram in his pocket announcing the boy’s birth. The future sheriff was only 11.

Lamb served in World War II in the Pacific with Army intelligence. He aspired to become a FBI agent, but the family’s immediate need for income put college out of the question even with the GI Bill.

So he hired on as a Clark County deputy sheriff and soon became chief of detectives.

Lamb departed the force in 1954 to form a detective agency with another ex-policeman. Their best-known client was Howard Hughes.

Lamb ran for sheriff in 1958 against Butch Leypoldt, and lost. But in 1961, when Leypoldt was named to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the Clark County Commission appointed him to the unexpired term.

He won the election to a full term in 1962.Lamb’s administration brought in a modern crime lab, a mobile crime lab, and the city’s first SWAT team, which was kept secret until one of its snipers killed a bank robber who was threatening to shoot a hostage.

His most important contribution was helping form the Metropolitan Police Department. In the early 1970s, both the Las Vegas Police Department and the Clark County Sheriff’s Department struggled with jurisdictional problems.

People called the wrong agency to report crimes in progress, delaying police response. Both agencies were strapped for staff, yet used a lot of it duplicating record-keeping and administrative functions.

Unlike most efforts at consolidation, the Metro legislation slid through the Nevada Legislature with ease, and Lamb ended up in charge of the joint agency. Most people attributed that to Lamb’s political muscle, since  his brother Floyd was a senator and his younger brother Darwin a county commissioner.

One of Lamb’s efforts at efficiency, however, helped cost him the post that seemed made for him. It was called the Task Force, and was an élite unit of experienced officers, handpicked by Lamb himself.

If burglars became particularly aggressive, the Task Force set up sting operations buying stolen goods and then busting the sellers. Then it moved on to attack some other kind of crime.

It made life miserable for crooks. When a hotel building boom brought in a new crop of hoods trying to gain a foothold in casinos, Task Force officers identified and kept track of them.

Lamb believed it worked like a charm. But many of his officers hated it, seeing the Task Force as an arrogant outfit, hogging the glory and leaving the real work to everybody else.

Then there was Joe Blasko. A controversial Las Vegas officer known for beating up suspects — one died — Blasko ended up in Metro’s organized crime unit after the merger. In 1978 he was accused of leaking information to mob boss Tony Spilotro, and Lamb fired him, but the damage was done.

The longtime sheriff was also weakened by his 1977 indictment for income tax evasion. The IRS attempted to prove Lamb spent more money than he earned as sheriff in such activities as building a home, complete with guest house and horsemanship facilities; proving it would mean Lamb had concealed income and evaded the taxes on it.

They also tried to prove certain loans, including one for $30,000 from casino owner Benny Binion, were never meant to be repaid and were, therefore, taxable income. However, U.S. District Judge Roger D. Foley acquitted Lamb of all charges.

He said the IRS had failed to prove that anybody paid for the building materials, so they probably were gifts, not subject to taxation. Similarly, said Foley, it was up to the government to prove that Binion’s loan was never repaid, and it failed to do so.

But Lamb was politically wounded, and didn’t recover. The following year he lost a bid for re-election, by a landslide, to his former vice-squad commander, John McCarthy.

He made another bid in 1994 but lost.