Far North

HumBug: Three for a Rainy Day

With rainy cold days suppressing entomological activity it put my assertion that there’s always, ALWAYS something interesting to find outdoors to the test. So, camera in hand, I went looking. The weather forecast said it would snow down to 1,000 feet elevation, so it was indeed cold out and there was very little activity above ground. But a quick tip of an old cinderblock showed three denizens often found there: a centipede, a Jerusalem cricket and a ground beetle. These centipedes (Scolopocryptops gracilis) often exhibit maternal protective behavior. When fully mature, Jerusalem crickets are one of our most massive local insects. With a range limited to the Western U.S., they have no real relationship with Jerusalem. As I discovered some time ago picking up a bunch of soggy leaves they can bite hard enough to draw blood. That domed head is full of not brains but muscles to drive their massive jaws. The small black ground beetle (family carabidae) is locally common. As with most members of this family it is likely to be predatory, feeding on other invertebrates. …

North Coast Night Lights: Art Utility Boxes of Eureka: Marine Life Triptych

Wintertime has dampened my nighttime roaming and kept my photography a little closer to home of late. But as a famous photographer once said, though I can’t recall who it was, and I’m afraid I must paraphrase, “You can find plenty of beauty to photograph right in your own backyard.” That idea has stuck with me for decades. It was easy to dream of faraway places growing up with National Geographic’s fantastic photography from around the world, and I did. But I live in a remarkably beautiful area right here in Northern California and hearing that idea expressed in an early photography class I was taking helped me appreciate the beauty already around me. I’m usually drawn to the nighttime magic of our gorgeous North Coast’s natural landscape, out where the starry skies glitter overhead without the interruption of humanity’s ground lights. But it is also rewarding to direct some attention a little closer to my home, especially when the weather is inclement. I find myself attracted to the mural paintings on the utility boxes around Eureka, the many instances of public art beautifying the…

NCJ Preview with Access Humboldt

This week news editor Thad Greenson and arts and features editor Jennifer Fumiko Cahill talk with host David Frank about an off-duty assault that cost a local police officer his job, a not weird enough Netflix series set (but not filmed) in Humboldt and a couple of classic Chinese American recipes for crab. Watch the video below and click to subscribe. …

Down at the Docks

Sometimes I walk from the Journal offices down F Street to the plaza, with its wind-whipped flags, and look across the water as the fishing boats come into the bay as they have for lifetimes, bringing their haul back from the unkowable depths and think, “Shouldn’t we have, like, a million places for fish and chips, chowder and steamer clams?” There is a solid handful but among those three items, it’s hit or miss at each. What happy news, then, to discover Jack’s Seafood (4 C St., Suite B, Eureka), overlooking the bay and the crane lifting catches from boats just a couple of blocks over, has conquered the trifecta. The chowder is more about the fresh cream than the usual New England soup, with chopped clams, vegetables and a little pepper ($5 cup, $8 bowl). It’s light on the salt and served with crackers, herb butter and sliced sourdough — it’s the North Coast, after all and nobody’s defecting to Maine. Steamer clams, in their amphitheater bowl, are your basic white wine and clam broth, garlic, parsley, green onions and black pepper, and that is…

A Keeper

Thank you for publishing David Wilson’s beautiful photo and essay about the vacancy at Fourth and E streets (“Vacancy at Fourth and E Street,” Jan. 16). It’s a keeper. Jenny Lovewell, Eureka…

Dark Energy: Blunder or Boondoggle?

Albert Einstein told physicist George Gamow that the greatest blunder of his life was his introduction of a “cosmological constant” designated by Λ, the Greek letter lambda. In his 1915 theory of general relativity, Λ, a sort of ubiquitous “anti-gravity,” keeps the universal static, neither expanding nor contracting. But in 1929, Edwin Hubble showed that the universe is expanding — hence Einstein’s “blunder” remark. Fast forward to 1998, when two teams of cosmologists determined that the rate of expansion was accelerating. Since all matter is attracted to other matter by gravity, the cause for this acceleration couldn’t be particles (which mutually attract) but some mysterious repulsive field permeating everywhere and everything: dark energy. Which, in its simplest form, is Einstein’s cosmological constant: not a blunder but a stroke of genius. The teams used distant type 1a supernovae to detect this cosmic acceleration. A supernova is a massive, violent, short-lived explosion as a star ends its life. What’s special about type 1a supernovae is their uniform brightness, so by measuring their apparent luminosity, astronomers can calculate their distance, like observing the apparent brightness of a known…

Hybernacula

Seventy degrees below zero, he woolly bear caterpillar rolls into a ball, and survives an Arctic winter.            For years, in rain, hail and lightning storms,            a woman hunches deep in her camo cocoon            on a bench in downtown Eureka. The little bears heart can stop in winter and then start again next spring seven times before emerging as a moth!            The empty bench on the corner            startles the hearts of those who cared.            What happened to their butterfly? Jenny Lovewell…

‘Tarnished’

How an off-duty incident cost an EPD officer his badge It was about 1 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, and then Eureka Police Sgt. Brian Stephens was in the briefing room at the department’s headquarters on C Street when one of his officers approached, saying he needed to notify him — his supervisor — of an off-duty incident the week before. What followed was a bombshell: Visibly upset, according to Stephens, the officer alleged that one of his fellow officers, Mike Stelzig, had repeatedly groped his wife while drunk at an off-duty social gathering and behaved in a sexually predatory manner toward another woman. It’s the kind of allegation one can imagine some departments treating with a boys-will-be-boys, all-in-the-family approach — maybe giving the accused a stern talking to, but keeping the allegations in-house. EPD, to its credit, went a different route. Within hours of the conversation, Stephens reported the allegations up the chain of command to then Lt. Capt. Tony Zanotti and then Chief Andrew Mills, who immediately agreed the issue needed to be investigated. Within three weeks, the department had stripped Stelzig…

Is This the Real Life?

Life is a Dream at NCRT Are we here right now? And if we are, can we trust what we see before us? The idea of life as a complete or occasional dream state isn’t new — it goes back millennia, stretching through Mahayana Buddhism to the ancient Greeks and into the Renaissance. In the past few decades, the idea that perceived reality is in fact a quantum computer simulation has gained a lot of cachet, too. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here; let us return to the 17th century in what’s known as the Spanish Golden Age. It’s then that live theater thrived on the Iberian Peninsula, when Pedro Calderón de la Barca wrote Life is a Dream, now staged, with a youthful cast and spirit, at North Coast Repertory Theatre. Calderón’s play, written and first performed in 1635, took place in Poland and what was then the Grand Duchy of Muskovy, but director Elio Robles has set the production in the manner and dress of 17th century Spain. At its center is a story central to many European plays of the era:…

About 55

Editor: I have noted several letters proposing voluntarily limiting speed to 55 MPH on roads like U.S. Highway 101 to lower emissions and gasoline usage (Mailbox, Dec. 26, 2019). This idea has some merit, as I most often drive below the speed limit despite my auto being easily capable of exceeding the limit all day. May I suggest that drivers that choose to drive significantly slower than the speed limit stay in the right (slow) lane. Not everyone will be on board with the idea, and I can see a monster truck running over the top of, or forcing slower drivers playing CHP into the weeds. Were that to become a tragic occurrence, I can envision an appropriate memorial for the fast lane turtle. Perhaps a site in a centrally located square in Arcata. The mounted twisted wreckage of the Prius with a plaque and inscription: “In memoriam to so and so. Progressive to the end, martyred by Dodge Ram.” John Dillon, Eureka Editor: I wish to include my own two cents: I am 66 and I ride my bike as much as I can;…

Davos Won’t Save Us

The global elite jumped on their Gulfstreams this week to descend on Davos, a small town of about 11,000 residents in the Swiss Alps, for the 50th annual World Economic Forum, a chance for the globe’s richest people to rub shoulders and talk policy and investment with world leaders. And for the second year in a row, the cannabis industry will have a seat at the table. One hundred of them, actually, in the Cannabis House, an exclusive industry-specific sidebar conference held in a swanky restaurant that’s accessible only by cable car. According to the sponsors, this year’s event aims to highlight “the economic role of cannabis in the future of healthcare, international trade, investment and environmental and resource security, with the goal of creating a fair and viable cannabis-related industry globally.” And this folds into the framework of Davos 2020, which will roll out under an espoused theme of using “stakeholder capitalism” to usher in a “new era of sustainability” aimed at reversing the global climate crisis. Perhaps underscoring the ridiculousness of the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent convening to talk…

No One to Blame but Ourselves

Editor: Ms. Savage is right! (“A Reasonable Ask,” Jan. 16.) It’s those evil Republicans that are to blame. If it wasn’t for those people, we’d be living in a land flowing with milk and honey. But wait! Shouldn’t we be already doing that? We’re living in California, where those evil Republicans have trouble getting elected to dog catcher. So we should be living like an illustration from a Jehovah’s Witness leaflet. The fault lies not in our stars, dear Brutus, but in ourselves. Richard C. Brown, Eureka Editor: To respond to Jennifer Savage’s question “Why can’t we have affordable healthcare, America? (“A Reasonable Ask”, Jan. 16). Obviously, we could have affordable healthcare in America. Most of the industrialized world has managed to pull this off, but they don’t have a medical industrial complex like we do. Just like the military industrial complex that wants endless war, the medical industrial complex wants endless sickness, simply because that’s where the money is. What we have is a medical system governed by marketing in the pursuit of profit. Expensive diagnostics and treatments are aggressively promoted when less expensive…

‘A Portrait of Aggravated Devotion’

Editor: Thanks are due to both Dr. Kim Ervin and the North Coast Journal for telling this story (“The Whistleblower,” Jan. 16). As is expected in such situations, the executives of Mad River Hospital have responded to real concerns with personal attacks on the integrity of the messenger, rather than addressing the actual points raised. Such are the effects of light shone in dark corners. For shame. They have now attempted their petty, local exile of a highly experienced physician. Fortunately, this article is very instructive: Dr. Ervin’s is a portrait of aggravated devotion and courage throughout her professional life, a doctor whose current callous mistreatment shines a light on issues of the state of family and women’s healthcare in Humboldt County. (We have here a hospital that sees little need for community doctors or continuity of care and whose executive staffing is a bit shady, it seems.) In her interview, Dr. Ervin teaches a bit about the nuts and bolts of healthcare services and technology, the importance of electronic records and ethical commitment. She has shown how administrative whim and expediency trump the availability…

Grave Concerns

Facing backlash, Trinidad gives back $700K trail grant The city of Trinidad is returning a $714,000 Caltrans grant after a contentious council meeting in which residents raised concerns that the trail renovation project it would fund might disturb a Native burial site. “What is the cost of integrity and honor?” one of 20 or so public speakers at the Jan. 14 meeting said. “That is what is at stake here. The people affected have a right to say no. And we’re saying, ‘No.'” Getting to the beach in Trinidad is not easy if you are a pedestrian or bicyclist. Edwards Street, a steep two-lane road with no sidewalk, is the only street accessing Trinidad State Beach, Trinidad Head, a restaurant, a commercial fishing pier, a boat launch and two other little beaches. The street’s visibility is poor, blocked by a sharp turn about two-thirds of the way down the hill. Large trucks that serve the local fishing industry traverse the street, as do smaller trucks hauling boats. For decades, local pedestrians have used a small gravel trail to bypass Edwards. Known as the Van Wycke…

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