Saturday, March 31, 2012

Humboldt County: Classic 8-Bit Nintendo Version

Posted By on Sat, Mar 31, 2012 at 6:03 PM

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Someone(s) at Google was A) born in the late '70s/early '80s and B) has a little too much time on their hands.

How else can you explain the totally rad April 1 "release" of Google Maps 8-bit for NES featuring maps modeled after the video game classic Dragon Warrior (1986). We need this!(?) Let Google explain: 

In our pursuit of new digital frontiers, we realized that we may have left behind a large number of users who couldn't access Google Maps on their classic hardware. Surprisingly, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was unsupported, despite its tremendous popularity with over 60 million units sold worldwide.

!!!

The new "Google Maps Quest" features garishly colored "overworld" and street view maps rendered in beautiful 8-bit detail. So we thought we'd poke around HumCo (so that you don't have to). Anybody else's thumbs hurt just looking at these?

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Beautiful Humboldt Bay! (Click to enlarge.)

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8-bit Arcata!

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8-bit Eureka!

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8-bit Ferndale!

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8-bit Fortuna!

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You can still get (8-bit) detailed directions. Here asked how to get from The Shanty to The Alibi. Now we know to essentially just head northeast and stay on the dirt path. Thanks, Google!

(If you wanna try, go to Google Maps and click "Quest." Goodbye, morning.)

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Friday, March 30, 2012

St. Joe's 'Vastly' Downplays Layoffs

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 4:10 PM

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Back on Monday we reported that 68 people were losing their jobs at St. Joseph Hospital and Redwood Memorial Hospital. At a press conference, CEO Joe Mark said the jobs being cut were "predominantly in non-clinical support staff." Moments later he one-upped "predominantly," saying that while there were "some nurses" and "some clinicians" being let go, "the vast majority are coming out of the support area."

How vast was this majority? As it turns out, roughly as vast as the pie slice majority in the Trivial Pursuit tray pictured above. After several back-and-forth emails, St. Joe's spokesperson Leslie Broomall provided us with the numbers: 10 nursing positions were eliminated and another 12 positions came from the clinician side. Together that accounts for nearly a third of the total layoffs.

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W-- Now Hiring

Posted By on Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 3:57 PM

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Job seekers, an announcement: You may now go apply for a job at Wal-Mart in Eureka. The job announcements have just gone up on all those fun sites the unemployed pore over seeking something, something, to do with their groceries-yearning, bills-owing or parent-harangued selves. One site notes they're looking for a pharmacy manager (by the way, Cloney's, Safeway and CVS are also looking for pharmacy types). Another, AllRetailJobs.com, heralds the abundance:

FRONT END

Cashiers, Customer Service Desk, Cart Pushers, People Greeters

RECEIVING

Stockers and Unloaders

SALES ASSOCIATES

Associates and Supervisors for all Departments

OVERNIGHT

Maintenance, Stockers

They're taking applications at the Wal-Mart Hiring Center, 301 7th Street; at the Employment Development Department/Workforce Services at 409 K Street; and online.

Wal-Mart haters, an announcement: It looks like the nearly 3,000 of you who've signed that petition to keep Wal-Mart outta here have your job cut out for you. It's apparently still coming. However, the site where you can sign the petition is also still up.

Now go forth, warriors. For you who want to work at Wal-Mart, mind your motto (well, Wal-Mart's): "Your spark makes us Wal-Mart." For you who want to stop the Big Smile, maybe just flip that around to "Wal-Mart makes us spark."

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The End of Occupy Eureka? (UPDATED)

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 9:44 AM

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Doesn't appear that way.

As expected, Humboldt County Sheriff's Department deputies arrived in front of the Humboldt County Courthouse at 4 p.m. Wednesday to begin enforcement of the "urgency ordinance" passed by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

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Prior to their arrival, Occupy Eureka members moved their information tables over the crack in the pavement denoting where the public sidewalk begins. (The new ordinance notes that it "shall not apply to the public sidewalks directly bordering the grounds.")

Deputies cut down signs and tarps affixed to the fence while protesters hurled "traitor" and "fascist" their way.

Occupier James Decker stated that the occupation would continue, albeit in the much more cramped confines of the narrow strip of sidewalk.

"The sidewalk will still be open at 9:30 p.m." Decker said. "We still plan to be 24/7."


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(Verbena monitors from the sidewalk.)

One arrest was made (below): During the sign excising period, Patricia Kanzler wrapped herself in an American flag-style banner to keep it from being confiscated. Deputies let her keep it and moved on. Immediately, Kanzler attempted to reattach the banner to the fence. After being told she would have to stop putting things on the fence, she responded:

"I can't do that."

She was asked to put her hands behind her back. She complied, was cuffed and trotted away.

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(UPDATE, 11:40 a.m.): The HCSO released the following press release this morning:

              On 03-28-2012,  after receiving a copy of the Humboldt County Urgency Ordinance #2477 regarding Health and Safety issues and use of Humboldt County Courthouse property, Humboldt County Sheriff Michael Downey contacted the group in front of the courthouse. Many of this group had attended the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting on March 27th, 2012. Sheriff Downey met with the group at approximately 10:00 a.m., passed out copies of the Ordinance, and attempted to answer any of their questions. Sheriff Downey requested the group comply with the new ordinance, and requested they remove their belongings, including signs on the fence which violated the new ordinance. Sheriff Downey told the group he would allow them until 4:00 p.m. to collect their belongings.
 
              At approximately 4:00 p.m. Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputies assisted by Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office Investigators contacted the group again on the Fifth Street Side of the Courthouse. The group had moved their table and chairs to the sidewalk, which is not covered by the ordinance. They were again requested to remove their signs from the fence and personal property, such as tarps. They were advised the signs and other property would be considered abandoned if no one claimed it. No one claimed the signs or other property. The deputies were told by the group they would not remove the signs, deputies then removed the signs and property that was in violation of the Emergency Ordinance. Immediately after the deputies removed the signs one of the members of the group, Patricia Ann Kanzler, 59 years from Eureka was witnessed by the deputies putting a sign back on the fence. She was asked to remove the sign and told if she did not she would be arrested. She refused and she was arrested and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for violation of Humboldt County Ordinance 2477, which is a misdemeanor, bail is $5,000.00. She was released on her own recognizance.

Did Occupy Eureka last past last night's 9:30 p.m. deadline? Sure enough, protesters and tables remained amidst Thursday morning's drizzle (below).

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(UPDATE 3/30) Video shot by Occupy Eureka of Pat Kanzler's arrest:

Previously: Supes Restrict Occupy Protesters.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Humboldt County: Beer Champion

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 4:41 PM

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Today's New York Times features a lip-smacking review of American porters -- those deliciously dark, British-style ales -- and get this: The expert panel's top 10 list includes not one but two porters brewed right here in Humboldt County: Mad River Brewing Co.'s Steelhead Scotch Porter ("earthy, grainy flavors with a mild hint of chocolate") and Eel River Brewering Co.'s Certified Organic Porter ("balanced, with strong chocolate flavor and a touch of sweetness"). Cheers to that!

Sure, San Francisco's Speakeasy Payback Porter nabbed the top spot. (With Sierra Nevada's entry coming in fourth, that's four of the top 10 from NorCal.) But no other county had two winners. And two is more than one, so we win. Right? I'll drink to that.

Previously:  Beer in the Headlights

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Supes Restrict Occupy Protesters

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 2:28 PM

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This morning the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 (with 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace opposing) to enact an "urgency ordinance" ostensibly designed to address "health, safety and access concerns" on county courthouse grounds. These concerns (or complaints, if you prefer) have accompanied the Occupy protests that have been taking place there since September.

Among other, seemingly redundant prohibitions, the ordinance outlaws all of the following on courthouse grounds: 

  • "Using" them between 9:30 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Camping
  • Storing personal property
  • Erecting structures or securing items to county property
  • Obstructing access or interfering with the passage of others
  • Using or interfering with county water and electrical services
  • Operating a food facility

You can download the draft ordinance -- along with a whole bunch of written complaints compiled by county staff -- here. One highlight (lowlight?): A letter-writer addresses defecation in the bushes across the street from the courthouse thusly: "Sorry to say, some of us actually witnessed the commencement of the unmentionable deed this morning (not as entertaining as you would expect)."

Another witness to such an event used more colloquial terms: "There was a scruffy guy squatting and emptying his bowels -- and I could see his junk."

Feel free to, uh, deposit your opinions on the ordinance below.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Hawk Murders Pigeon

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 3:16 PM

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On 03-26-12 approximately 1:40 P.M. this Journal reporter encountered an avian assault in progress at the Old Town Gazebo, near the corner of F and 2nd streets in Eureka. The victim, who is described as a chubby, partially beheaded pigeon, was alive but did not respond to the blank stares of numerous onlookers. Residents of the area say pigeon gangs are known to frequent the neighborhood. 

When the reporter arrived at the scene, the victim was under attack from sharp talons and a hooked beak, likely belonging to the suspect, who is described as a juvenile raptor, possibly a Sharp-shinned or  Cooper's hawk, approximately 10 inches tall with light brown eyes and a hunter's build.

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Neighborhood residents have reportedly found several mutilated pigeon carcasses in the vicinity in recent weeks, suggesting that the suspect may be a serial killer. It is unknown at this time whether or not the assault was a hate crime.

The suspect was last seen disemboweling the victim on the cobblestone sidewalk. Residents are advised not to be overweight, bagel-eating pigeons.

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St. Joe's, Redwood Memorial Lay Off 68

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 3:03 PM

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St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka and Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna are laying off 68 employees today and tomorrow, Chief Executive Officer Joe Mark announced this afternoon. At a somber press conference, Mark said the reduction in workforce is necessary after a "significant dip" in the number of surgeries and outpatient services at both hospitals, but especially St. Joe's.

Of the 68 layoffs, 62 will come from St. Joseph. The vast majority are non-clinical support staff, though a few are nurses and a few are clinicians, Mark said. He attributed the decline in services to both the economy and the recent loss of four surgeons -- two general surgeons and two orthopedists -- who either retired or found other opportunities elsewhere. Rising health care costs have also taken a toll.

"As people have either lost insurance or their insurance has gone with higher copays and deductibles they've had to make a tough decision of fixing the car, fixing the roof versus maybe getting my hip replaced," Mark said. 

Calling the layoffs "a very difficult message but very necessary," Mark said there will be no loss of services associated with the layoffs. The affected employees will receive their full salaries and benefits until May 30, regardless of whether they continue to work during that period, Mark said. After that date they will be given two weeks' severance pay, plus an additional week for each year of employment at the hospital (up to a max of 26 weeks). They will also be eligible for unemployment benefits.

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How I was (temporarily) banned from the KIEM News Channel 3 Facebook page

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 2:45 PM

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I arrived at my home on H St. in Eureka Saturday afternoon around 3:30 p.m. and soon found myself sucked into Facebookdom. Scrolling down my newsfeed, I was confronted with the following screaming status update:

News Channel 3 A GUNMAN MAY STILL BE ON THE LOOSE IN EUREKA. … SEE WHAT OUR CAMERAS CAUGHT AS EPD HAD WEAPONS DRAWN NEAR G AND 11TH STREET

MORE DETAILS AT 6 PM….

Since "G AND 11TH" is a block from my house, I got up off my couch and glanced out my window, not wanting to be oblivious of any potential bullets whizzing by. I wasn't actually that concerned. Were a manic gunman to reach for my doorknob in hopes of finding an EPD shelter, he'd be thwarted by serial door-locking tendencies. Fortunately, there were no Tombstone-ish scene to be seen.

But as I stuck my brain back into Facebook, I noticed the less-CAPS-heavy comments that followed. A sampling:

Jessica Bones Douez: We seriously have to wait until 6 for details about a gunman on the loose (30 likes!)

Ashley Helena Ann: If people's safety is at risk why r we not being given the details now ??? (20 likes!)

Joslyn Nelson: That's a block away from where I live. YIKES!!

Patty Sue: WTF kind of reporting is THAT? … There is no update….the town is on lockdown!

Chelsea Smith: im a little freaked out can we get some more info

Uh oh. That's not good. The commenters swayed me from my initial feelings of invincibility to instead being a little put out by the -- by consensus -- alarmingly vague post.

At about the same time, the Times-Standard responded to a request on its own Facebook wall for information on all the hubbub. The information it provided at 5:09 p.m. was certainly more thorough (commenter Joslyn from the News Channel 3 post above chimed in with "Thanks for telling us. Had me worried cause I live a block away.").

I generally like it more when people aren't fearing for their lives. Like any good Facebook activist, I Ctrl-C'd that link and Ctrl-V'd it on the News Channel 3 thread. Confession: I added a light, snarky "Sorry if this messes up some Nielsen ratings thing" to the end of it. Guilty.

For whatever reason, someone internally at News Channel 3 recharted its "MORE DETAILS AT 6 PM" course from earlier and posted a more detailed update to its Facebook page at 5:44 p.m. Again, confession time: I commented "Spoiler alert!" 'cuz sometimes I think I'm clever. Then I went on with my weekend time wasting.

The next morning I logged in for my morning Facebook fix and decided to see who else might be adding irreverence to the slight debacle of the previous afternoon. Oh. My comments were gone. And I could post no more.

Bummer. (Also, the initial "ON THE LOOSE" update now appears to have been deleted. You can view it here.)

I'd seen this before. News Channel 3 has had an itchy ban finger in the past (Full disclosure: I've been critical of the station's work in the past, if that matters to anyone.) In fact, an entire Facebook group called Real News for the North Coast sprang up back in January of people "sick of being censored on the News Channel 3 Facebook page."

But I wasn't sure which of News Channel 3's rules for appropriate Facebook discourse I had violated. Previously, News Channel 3 has written in threads on Facebook, "The only responses we delete are those with cursing or threats."

Did that policy change?

I called News Channel 3 News Director Betsy Lambert to inquire. She said she was aware that people had complained about the station's Facebook post, and she had spoken to the reporter responsible. However, she said that she was unaware that comments I'd posted had been deleted or that I'd been banned.

She then called my editor and my publisher. Ms. Lambert told editor Carrie Peyton Dahlberg  that a temporary ban applied to everyone on that thread and has now been lifted.

(Here's the post as it appeared before I'd been reinstated. Here is the live post now.)

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Here Comes American Airlines

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 5:03 PM

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A deal has been struck. American Eagle, a subsidiary of American Airlines, will start direct flights between the Arcata-Eureka Airport and Los Angeles International Airport on June 14. The company is expected to formally announce the deal via press release on Monday.

Details remain sketchy. County staff has been working furiously with the Redwood Region Economic Development Commission (RREDC) to come up with a $1 million revenue guarantee -- one of several prerequisites set forth by American Airlines for coming to Humboldt County. (Read more here.)

RREDC's board of directors is scheduled to authorize a contract for the guarantee at its Monday meeting. (You can download the agenda here.) Public Works Director Tom Mattson was not immediately available for comment.

The deal comes amid labor disputes and merger/takeover talks with US Airways. American declared bankruptcy last November and continues to work through corporate reorganization. That process might eventually lead American to sell off American Eagle, the subsidiary company that will provide local service. 

When the Journal talked to American Airlines Market Development Manager Brett Hooyerink earlier this week he said that, prior to declaring Chapter 11, American was planning to sell off American Eagle by the end of last year.

Those plans are now on hold indefinitely, Hooyerink said, adding that a sell-off would have no effect on the local market. "The reason for divesting is to make American Eagle more competitive," he explained. As a separate company, American Eagle could provide regional flights for mainline carriers besides American Airlines -- in the same manner that SkyWest operates flights locally on behalf of United Express.

At the March 20 meeting of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, Public Works Director Tom Mattson said round-trip tickets to L.A. are expected to cost between $250 and $400.

Memo to SoCal bivalve fans: Your direct 90-minute flights up here start two days before the 2012 Arcata Oyster Festival. Just sayin'.

We'll pass on more details as soon as we get 'em.

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