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November 3, 2005

The Weekly Wrap

He loved the outdoors
Sierra Institute graduate's legacy honored with scholarship

9 Questions for Wayne Gould
Sudoku 101

The Weekly Wrap

CHESBRO 2008: It was originally just an off-hand remark, made to members of the Mendocino Coast Democratic Club last week, but his press secretary has since confirmed it: State Senator Wes Chesbro plans to run for the state Assembly in 2008. Assuming that current California term-limit regulations survive another 12 months (we hear there's talk in Sacramento of modifying them) Chesbro will be booted from the Senate in 2006. What's a career officeholder to do? Well, the 54-year-old Democrat's idea is to take a couple of years off -- perhaps visiting his district once or twice in the meanwhile -- and come back tan, rested and ready for a stab at the lower house seat currently occupied by Patty Berg (D-Eureka), who will herself be termed out at that point. If elected, Chesbro could then serve a maximum of six years, according to current rules. But then what? Either up or down, you'd have to guess: A stab at some minor executive branch office (state controller?) or an inglorious return to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. Otherwise, appointment to some dreary commission or task force. Unless isn't it at least possible that Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena) could be elevated to the U.S. Senate by 2014? Put that out of your mind, though. Chesbro has. "The senator is focusing on the last year of his senate term for the next 12 months," said Chesbro aide Darby Kernan Tuesday.

SHERIFF OFFICE SCANDAL: Deputy Mike Gainey has resigned from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office after allegedly committing perjury and falsifying evidence in a recent trial of a McKinleyville man who was convicted of stalking. As the McKinleyville Press first reported last week, Gainey allegedly lied on the stand about forensic tests on an audiotape -- a key piece of evidence in the trial -- that he had supposedly contracted a company called Renaissance Recording to perform. It was later found out that the company does not exist. When confronted with this fact, Gainey said that he was under a great deal of stress because his father had recently died -- another falsehood.

Lt. Mike Downey of the Sheriff's Office said Tuesday that an internal investigation into the matter should be complete within the next 10 days. In light of these developments, the McKinleyville man will be retried.

PULP ME: Every town's got its lurking monster, a beast that rides the horizon spewing smoke -- or steam -- while wickedly plotting the villagers' grim demise. For some folks in Humboldt County, that beast is the pulp mill on the Samoa peninsula. `Course, the mill's owner, Evergreen Pulp, wouldn't care to view its charge as monstrous, but rather just as an aging workhorse busy chomping wood chips into pulpy mash while, admittedly, expelling rather more particulates than allowed under official environmental standards. Beast handler and villagers clash regularly in air quality hearings. The latest was last Friday, before the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District board, at which Evergreen Pulp requested an interim variance to keep operating despite out-of-compliance emissions from its lime kiln, a 300-foot long, 10-foot diameter furnace, until a Dec. 5 hearing on a regular variance. The regular variance would allow the mill to operate yet longer while long-term upgrades take place. Without the variances, Evergreen warned Friday, it would have to shut down and lay off 180 workers. With the variances, countered emotional residents, particulates will continue to clog their lungs and burn their eyes and, some alleged, cause or exacerbate an array of horrifying disorders. Evergreen proposes adding new, state-of-the-art equipment to fix the kiln problem -- and seems offended, in general, by the animosity cast its way. On Friday, Evergreen consultants dusted off a 1992 study by the Desert Research Institute that bespeaks of a greater source of particulates in the region than the pulp mill: sea salts and unleaded auto emissions. "The mill is not a significant contributor to ambient PM-10 [particulate matter less than 10 microns] concentrations," said an Evergreen consultant. "Is there an elephant out there?" The district's air pollution control officer, Lawrence Odle, called that study's conclusions "ludicrous." "The pulp mill is a very significant source" of particulates for Eureka, Odle said. He said the DRI study has since been questioned, in part because the monitoring station the data came from is poorly located. "There's a 95 percent [chance] that [the mill's] emissions would not be picked up by that station," Odle said. In the end, the board granted the variance, on the condition that by Nov. 21 Evergreen have a damned good plan of action, with a firm timeline, for monitoring and mitigation for the duration of any subsequent variances, and for complying with regulations.

FORTUNA FRACAS: Things are getting downright nasty in Fortuna, and we're not even talking about the burgeoning skinhead community. Remember when the council voted to have a heart and pitch in for poor Debi August's legal fees? It seemed like a friendly gesture, a display of solidarity by the town's leaders and also a way to avoid future lawsuits. But councilmen Mel Berti, Doug Strehl and Odell Shelton have another think coming. Dean Lewis, a Fortuna resident and former mayor claims that the three amigos committed "grand theft" when they awarded August $52,000 to cover a third of the costs stemming from the 2004 conflict-of-interest lawsuit brought against her. The criminal complaint was filed with the Fortuna Police Department and sent to the District Attorney's office, where the grievance was rejected. Lewis is still on the warpath, however, saying that the city had no right to hand over Fortuna taxpayers' money to August and that he will likely pursue charges though the Humboldt County Grand Jury -- the body that brought the conflict-of-interest charges against August in the first place.

BYE BYE, MARBY: This time of year along the Pacific Coast, as winter approaches, the stubby, long-winged marbled murrelet heads out to sea and stays there, not to return until spring, when it flies into the coastal forest to lay a single egg in a mossy cushion on an old growth redwood or Douglas fir branch. Some scientists and activists are doomsaying, however, that the coy tree-nesting seabird -- which, alternating with its mate, makes food forays to the ocean while raising its single chick -- may someday soon not have anything to return to if the Bush administration has it way. That, in turn, could accelerate Brachyramphus marmoratus marmoratus' plummet to extinction -- a demise predicted by one Fish and Wildlife Service report to occur within 40 years if the bird goes unprotected. But in late October, according to news reports, the F&WS admitted it was considering moving ahead with delisting the marbled murrelet, which under the federal Endangered Species Act is protected as a threatened species. This decision comes despite disagreement from the F&WS' western branch and the state Department of Fish and Game, and follows a Bush administration ruling in September 2004 that declared the roughly 20,000 murrelets of California, Oregon and Washington no different, biologically, from the 900,000-plus murrelets in Canada and Alaska. The delisting was prompted by a petition from the American Forest Resource Council, a group whose "mission is to create a favorable operating environment for the forest products industry," according to its website. Ever since the marbled murrelet was listed in 1992, its protected status has halted or delayed many proposed timber harvests.

NEW TRAIL: For 22 years, Larry Evans has tramped into the mountains every summer to build backcountry trails for a living, and to soak up the starry mountain ambience. Winters, he hunkered down on the North Coast and fought the good fight for the environment as a volunteer activist. For the past two years, Evans has served as president of the board of directors for the Environmental Protection Information Center. He's leaving that volunteer position for a paid post, beginning Nov. 7, as EPIC's new executive director, replacing Cynthia Elkins, who now works for the Center for Biological Diversity. His overall charge, he says, will be "getting a handle on the details of our wide array of activities" that embrace "five and a half million acres of forests, from ridge to sea." Evans says he loved his backcountry work, but it's time for a change. "I think what EPIC does is so important," he says. "We represent the ecological realities that society -- our culture, our economy -- are either unwilling, or not set up, to face. Another reason I'm doing it is I have a 9-year-old son, and society's failure to respect our natural community is robbing him of his future. Humans are part of nature." Among EPIC's battles that Evans will guide, while also coordinating fundraising -- protecting Clam Beach (and snowy plovers) from rampaging vehicles, monitoring dredge plans and other activity in Humboldt Bay, continuing the organization's lawsuit against Pacific Lumber Co.'s habitat conservation plan and scrutinizing timber harvest plans.


He loved the outdoors
Sierra Institute graduate's legacy honored with scholarship

by Helen Sanderson
Photos courtesy Sierra Institute.

A little more than a month after her son's death, Patricia Scoggins of Castro Valley still slips into present tense when talking about her only child. Kenton Dornbush was a 20-year-old college student, an optimist, a joker, a chess player, a skateboarder. He loved the outdoors.

"My son always loved a sense of community and friendship, having to work with others, cook with others and make decisions in a group," she said in a recent phone interview. "It's something he really likes. It's very important to him."

By all accounts he lived in the present, and perhaps that makes his departure that much harder for a parent to accept. But after Dornbush, a UC Santa Cruz junior, was killed in a car accident on Sept. 27, Scoggins and Dornbush's father, Keith Dornbush, knew how their son would want his memory honored. In lieu of flowers, they asked mourners to donate to a scholarship fund at the Sierra Institute, an outdoors education program at Humboldt State.

A memorial service was held a few days after the accident in an area of the UC Santa Cruz campus that overlooks Monterey Bay. Santa Cruz-area newspapers depicted the scene, with a large number of friends and family wearing Hawaiian-print shirts, listening to Dornbush's favorite Bob Dylan tunes, reminiscing and keeping the mood lighthearted, the spirit for which the young man was best known. They talked about his big hiking trip and how it gave him a deep philosophical outlook on life.

In the summer of 2004, Dornbush joined a nine-week course with the Sierra Institute. The 12-unit class is called California Wilderness: Nature Philosophy, Religion, Ecopsychology. Scoggins remembered when her son pitched the idea of taking the class to her: "I have to do this," he said one day over lunch.

The group of 13 hiked through the Yolla Bolly Wilderness, camped in the Covelo Hinterlands and San Luis Reservoir, backpacked through Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park and explored Inyo County's White Mountains, along Cottonwood Creek.

"It was his first big backpacking trip," Scoggins said. "Sequoia National Park was a place he really fell in love with. He would talk about it forever."

Dornbush was an avid nature photographer and got his start with Thrasher, a skateboarding magazine. Snapping the perfect shot, freezing a stunning moment in time, meant a lot to him and throughout the summer he lugged a heavy tripod everywhere. Sierra Institute Instructor Willow Abel, who attended Dornbush's funeral services, told Scoggins that her son was very attached to that tripod.

"[Willow] would say to him, `You know, we're hiking eight miles uphill today, I wouldn't bring that if I were you.' But he didn't care, he brought it anyway," Scoggins said.

Keith Dornbush said that his son was a transformed person after the expedition.

"When he left, he was still kind of like a kid," Dornbush said with a shaky voice, pausing and apologizing as he regained his composure during a phone conversation. "When he came back he'd really become more of a man."

In the weeks that have followed his death, 24 people have contributed to the Kenton Dornbush Scholarship fund at HSU.

Ward Angles, program coordinator for the Sierra Institute, said that so far, $1,480 has been collected. The intention of the fund is to defray some of the costs for students unable to afford the full price of the program, which can run up to $3,000. Financial aid is hard to finagle for students who attend universities other than HSU.

"What happened is so sad," Angles said. "But the scholarship has given some new opportunities for the program. It validates that the instructors are doing a worthwhile job."

Angles said that other Sierra Institute students, like Dornbush, have described feeling like a different person after the trip.

"For many of the students it is the best thing that happened to them," Angles said. "They say things like, `For three years I went to such-and-such campus and I wanted a different experience from my education, I wanted to learn about nature in nature, not just in the classroom."

While most of the participants are students, Angles points out that anyone over 18 can take the course, but groups are small and often there is a waiting list.

On Monday, Angles was sorting applications for the winter session. Courses on rainforest field studies and the natural history of the Patagonian Cordillera will take place in South America from early January into March.

In the spring, as the weather warms, a new group of students will take the same course Dornbush did, trekking through the California wilderness, working as a team, admiring the enduring sequoias. By then, maybe one of them will get some scholarship money to make the trip possible. And when it's over, maybe they'll be a new person, too, with a deeper appreciation for the outdoors, and for living.


9 Questions for Wayne Gould

by Hank Sims

photo of Wayne GouldSTARTING THIS WEEK, the Journal proudly adds the wildly popular puzzle Sudoku to its [printed] pages, where it joins David Levinson Wilk's witty crosswords. To mark the occasion, the Journal exchanged e-mails with Wayne Gould, whose one-man Sudoku house, Pappocom, has turned the game into an international phenomenon in the last year.

Gould [left] was a judge in Hong Kong when he first discovered Sudoku on a trip to Japan, where it has been popular for some time (the name of the puzzle is said to derive from Japanese words meaning "numbers singly"). He was so captivated by Sudoku that he spent several years writing a computer program to generate new puzzles. (That program is now available on Gould's website,, along with a wealth of tips, tricks and discussions for hard-core Sudoku fans.)

Just one year ago, he began syndicating the puzzle in The Times, one of the leading British newspapers. They were an instant hit. Since then, hundreds of newspapers from all six continents have picked up his puzzles.

1. Sudoku has exploded in popularity in the English-speaking world over the last year, and you've become something like a Sudoku evangelist. What do you think accounts for the speed in which Sudoku has caught on? Why did the world seem to need this puzzle so?

We have been in the thrall of the crossword and the word-game puzzle for so long, we had forgotten that there are other kinds of puzzles. Sudoku is language-independent, so there were no obstacles to its spread across international boundaries.

2. Before discovering Sudoku, you worked in the legal profession -- a calling that requires (or should require) strong powers of logic and deductive reasoning. Do you think that logic is like a muscle -- the more you exercise it, the stronger it grows? In other words, could Sudoku be more than a mere time-waster?

Definitely, it is possible to exercise and improve your logic. Most Sudoku solvers will see their solving times come down, the more they do. You can dismiss it as just "practice," if you like, but whatever you call it, people are achieving things with logic that they could not do when they began.

3. You were born in New Zealand, you worked in Hong Kong, you're published in the U.K. and you live part-time in the United States. Have you noticed any broad cultural differences in the way that these countries have responded to Sudoku, and can you draw any conclusions, however tentative, from such observations?

No, the response has been pretty uniform, around the globe. Humans like to be puzzled, and to overcome a puzzle. It's as fundamental as that.

There are a few differences, in some countries. The British tend to like their puzzles (not just Sudoku, but puzzles generally) to be very hard, whereas in the USA we like something that we can be sure to solve.

4. Since you introduced Sudoku in England last year, newspapers there have developed all sorts of baroque variations on the theme -- 3-D Sudoku, Sudoku with added arithmetic challenges, etc. In your opinion, do these versions of the puzzle lack the elegance of the basic 9x9 grid?

There is a place for the variants. Most of them are entertaining, but they may not have the longevity of the basic ("classic") Sudoku puzzle.

5. According to the Wikipedia, the puzzle was created by a man named Howard Garns in the 1970s. Have you met Mr. Garns? Have you met any of the Japanese Sudoku setters?

The Wikipedia entry is wrong. No one knows who invented the puzzle. The gentleman you name may have been responsible for a known appearance of the puzzle in the U.S. (even that has not been proved to my judge's satisfaction), but even if so, that doesn't mean that he invented it. (If the Japanese and American records were wiped out, it might appear that I invented the puzzle, but I didn't.)

My own theory is that some academic mathematician posed this puzzle as a variation of the curiosity that mathematicians know as the Latin Square.

6. Does Sudoku ever work its way into your dreams?


Sudoku 101


Here's a puzzle with numbers. Do you have to use arithmetic? No! Nothing has to add up to anything else. Instead, you solve the puzzle with reasoning and logic.

Fill in the grid so that every row, every column and every 3x3 grid contains the digits 1 through 9. That means that no number is repeated in any row, column or box.

Where do you start solving a Sudoku puzzle? Anyplace you can!

For example, take a look at this puzzle. Let's try and place a 7 in the top-left box (call it "box 1"). You could just guess where the 7 goes, but that might get you into trouble. It's more fun to reason it out.

Note the 7 in box 3 (the top-right box). It's the 7 for the whole top row, so the 7 for the box 1 cannot go in Box 1's top row. Box 2 also has its 7 already. It is the 7 for the whole 2nd row, so the 7 for box 1 cannot go in Box 1's middle row. That leaves just the 3rd row. In box 1, there is only one empty cell in the 3rd row -- so we can write the 7 in, between the 9 and the 2.

Now let's try and find the 6 for box 1. If you look down at box 7 (the bottom-left box), you will see it already has a 6. That is the 6 for all of the 1st column -- and of course you can only have one 6 per column. Box 4 (the middle-left box) also has its 6. That 6 is the only 6 allowed in the 2nd column. So the 6 for box 1 must go in the 3rd column. This time, there are two empty cells left in box 1. However, look to the right. There's a 6 in box 2, and it eliminates one of the possible locations for the 6 in box 1.

With that kind of thinking, you can finish the Very Easy and Easy puzzles. The Medium puzzles will need a little extra. You will need some other tricks and techniques, but discovering them for yourself is part of the fun. The Hard puzzles, however, will need a lot extra!

Each Sudoku puzzle from Pappocom has just one solution.

Each Sudoku puzzle from Pappocom can be solved using logic alone. If you prefer guessing, you can -- but there is a logical way to solve every puzzle.



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