Monday, May 31, 2021

A Bit of Glory on the Plaza

Posted By on Mon, May 31, 2021 at 9:57 AM

June Moxon’s cheshire grin helps The Enchanted Slipper gloriously slip through the course. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • June Moxon’s cheshire grin helps The Enchanted Slipper gloriously slip through the course.

If this Memorial Day weekend has felt decidedly glory-less, with the Kinetic Grand Championship cancelled due to COVID-19 yet again, well, you're not alone. But a handful of Kinetic diehards took matters into their own hands Saturday, holding the Glorious and Official Unofficially Sanctioned 2021 Kinetic Grand Championship, which featured a handful of sculptures making a quick jaunt around the Arcata Plaza. Fortunately, local photographer Mark McKenna was there to capture the moment, and the glory.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Rare Catch: 'Butters' the Albino Crab Finds a Home at HSU's Marine Lab

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2021 at 1:51 PM

"Butters," a rare albino crab, has a new home at the HSU Marine Lab. - GRANT EBERLE/HSU MARINE LAB
  • Grant Eberle/HSU Marine Lab
  • "Butters," a rare albino crab, has a new home at the HSU Marine Lab.
An albino Dungeness crab caught in the Bay Area was brought up to local outfit Comet Fisheries, which help revive the unusual crustacean by placing it in an aeriated tank before HSU’s Marine Lab came Tuesday to take it to a new home.

It now goes by "Butters."

Based on pictures on a Facebook post by Comet Fisheries, based over at Woodley Island, a crab expert says looks like the real thing.

The crab has been taken in by HSU's Marine Lab, which notes it is not currently open to the public due to COVID-19.

" We will keep the crab until we are able to display it to the general public," a Facebook post by the lab on the Comet Fisheries' site states.
Scott Groth, a shellfish biologist with Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW),  described them as rare, according to an announcement from the Oregon Coast Aquarium when it had one on exhibit, possibly as rare as one in a million.

“In Oregon, we harvest between 15-20 million pounds of Dungeness a year,” Groth told the aquarium. “Each adult crab averages about two pounds. That’s something like 8 million crabs annually. We receive reports of these anomalous individuals maybe two or three times a year, so the odds of finding them are quite low.”

Edit's note: This story has been updated to correct where the crab was found and the role of a local fisheries outfit.
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NCJ Archives: Snow Fun in 2019

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2021 at 6:14 AM

Two year ago tonight, a flurry of snow began falling on coastal Humboldt, much to the delight of grownups and children alike who rushed out into the night (and the next morning) to enjoy an impromptu snowball fight, build a snowman or snowwoman and simply revel in the moment.

The rare coastal arrival, the likes of which had not been seen since 2002, did make for some treacherous driving conditions and shutdown U.S. Highway in northern Mendocino County.

When the dusting settled, McKinleyville saw 2 to 4 inches while at least one-half inch blanketed areas of Eureka.

Here's a look back at the snowy scenes some fine folks shared with the Journal at the time.

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Thursday, January 7, 2021

We all Need this Video Right Now. Cue the Guinea Pigs!

Posted By on Thu, Jan 7, 2021 at 1:22 PM

Amid everything that’s going on in the world — from the COVID pandemic to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — the Sequoia Park Zoo has come through with the video we all need right now. Cue the Guinea pigs' bedtime parade!

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Friday, October 30, 2020

County to Begin Reviewing Applications for Outdoor Live Performances

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2020 at 3:56 PM

Health Officer Teresa Frankovich
  • Health Officer Teresa Frankovich
The state of California has released limited guidance that could allow live performances to resume in a limited capacity outdoors on the North Coast in the near future.

The interim rules — which the state is expected to followed up with more thorough guidance soon — allow two types of live performances in counties in the “minimal” risk tier, like Humboldt. The first essentially just dovetails with the social gathering guidelines the state released earlier this month, which allow no more than three households to gather for physically distanced or masked outdoor get-togethers. The state has now clarified that if those groups want to play music, do something theatrical or otherwise perform together or for each other, that’s allowed, so long as no more than three households are involved.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, October 29, 2020

All Ghouled Up

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2020 at 7:29 PM

Hodgson and W Street in Eureka - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Hodgson and W Street in Eureka
Humboldt County brought its A-game to the Halloween scene this year, with some spooky offerings to send chills down your spine. So beware out there and enjoy this slideshow of hauntedly inspired homes, if you dare. Want to show us what you've got going? Send a photo with a brief description to [email protected]. Happy Halloween!
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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

NCJ Archive: Bring on the Bugs

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2020 at 10:23 AM

Female cross orb weaver showing distinctive cross pattern on her back. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Female cross orb weaver showing distinctive cross pattern on her back.
Editor's Note: It's that time of year again, the pumpkin spiders (aka cross orb weavers) are back. And while the world around us may seem a bit, well, scary right now, at least nature is staying the course by delivering up a cadre of crawling critters just in time for Halloween. So, here's a story on their annual arrival from the fall of 2007, a simpler time, perhaps, but isn't it also nice to know some things haven't changed.

There has been a lot of bug action at my house lately. On warm nights, the chorus of crickets from the front yard is loud enough to get a little embarrassing. If I go outside and walk up and down the street, it becomes obvious that the entire cricket scene is happening at my house alone. They have made themselves very, very comfortable in the tall grasses and asters in my front yard. That’s great, but their enthusiasm can be a bit much after a while. I keep waiting for the neighbors to step outside and tell them to keep it down.
The spiders have moved in as well. A cross spider hung inside my kitchen window for a month, growing bigger every day. Outside, more cross spiders — easily recognizable by their brown bodies and spotty white crosses on their backs — strung elaborate webs between the shrubs. Just now, as I was typing this, a spider dropped from the rafters onto my desk. Is this Halloween season or what?

Ladybugs waddle across my kitchen table in the morning. One night, a moth fluttered onto the book I was reading in bed. The next night, a spider showed up in the same place at the same time. “All right,” my husband said, jumping out of bed. “That’s enough. Do something about that spider!” “

Wouldn’t it be interesting,” I asked, as I swept the spider carefully onto the back of a magazine, “if a different bug came to visit us in bed every night at the same time?”

“No, that would not be interesting!” he said. “Where are you taking that spider?” I think he suspected that I’d set up a bug menagerie in some unused corner of the house, but I assured him that I was going to sweep my little visitor out the window.

I got to wondering why so many creepy bugs appear, as if on cue, around Halloween, so I called our resident bug expert Peter Haggard, who wrote Insects of the Pacific Northwest (Timber Press, 2006) with his wife Judy.
“It’s a good time of year for spiders,” he said. “Their life cycle is such that the females are ready to lay eggs right now. You might see a cup of sewed-together leaves off the web where she spends her time. In the cup you will find her husband. She’ll keep getting bigger and bigger until she lays her egg case, and then she’ll lose 80 percent of her body mass. In fact, that egg case will be larger than she is. And she’ll die within a couple of days.” There it is: the drama of a spider’s life. Big pregnant spider in the center of the web, little husband off to the side, and a litter of eggs that will have to fend for themselves.

The brown cross spider is a European introduction that does well around humans, but there’s a native spider that’s easy to spot right now too: Argiope aurentica, the big black and yellow spider that also lays its eggs in the fall. I asked Pete if people should be worried about getting bitten by these spiders.
An Argiope aurentica. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • An Argiope aurentica.
“You know,” he said, “all spiders make their living biting. Most of their toxins don’t do more harm than a mosquito. Spiders have no interest in biting you. I handle them all the time, and they’re just not that aggressive.” (Although I wasn’t worried about getting bitten by the spider that was living in my kitchen window, I did decide to move her outside, in the name of marital harmony, once I realized that she was getting ready to lay eggs.)

He had some surprising information about the crickets in my yard, too. “You know, there was no cricket noise around here years ago,” he said. “In the last decade or so, gardens have really gotten to be full of crickets. But they’re an introduced species sold in pet stores. You know, the black ones? They like to live under boards and around people’s homes.” Although they’re not native, they’re not much of a problem, he tells me. “We have native crickets too, but you won’t see them around humans much. It’s these introduced crickets that like to hang around and chirp at sunset. That’s all right — it’s a nice sound.”
A woolly bear. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • A woolly bear.

He also suggests keeping an eye out for banded woollybears, Pyrrharctia isabella, the fuzzy black and orange caterpillars that turn into orange moths. “They say you can tell what kind of winter we’re going to have by looking at how wide the orange band is around their bodies,” Pete said. “I don’t know about that, but they’re interesting to watch, anyway.”
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Thursday, October 22, 2020

NCJ Archives: The Haunting of Carson Mansion

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2020 at 11:50 AM

The Carson Mansion beneath the Snow Moon of February, 2020. Eureka, Humboldt County, California. - PHOTO BY DAVID WILSON
  • Photo by David Wilson
  • The Carson Mansion beneath the Snow Moon of February, 2020. Eureka, Humboldt County, California.

Editor's Note: With Halloween just around the corner, here's a blast from the past story (October of 2010) about Eureka's landmark Carson Mansion, which is not only one of the most photographed Victorian homes in the United States, but also a muse of sorts, in a creepy sort of way.

As the haunted holiday approaches and our thoughts turn to creepy wonders, things that go bump in the night and pillow cases full of candy corn harvested by the kids, one might be startled to know that a real scary celebrity resides in our midst, hidden in plain sight in Eureka on a hill overlooking Humboldt Bay, except when enshrouded by the fogs that plague our little Victorian seaport.

The Carson Mansion, one of the most photographed Victorian homes, is known for its unsurpassed redwood woodwork and extraordinary architecture, but few realize it has served as a template for haunted house art throughout the world, inspiring website design, video animations, posters, paintings, book covers and even amusement parks.

Do a Google image search for the phrase "haunted house," for example, and repeated among the top results is an eerie creation by Daniele Montella, one of Italy's top graphic artists. This image in particular, created in 2004, has gained a life of its own on the Internet, having been used for everything from website home pages to haunted house posters to news articles.

"The Haunted House" by Italian graphic artist Daniele Montella. - COURTESY OF DANIELE MONTELLA/DAN-KA.COM/COPYRIGHT 2004
  • Courtesy of Daniele Montella/ 2004
  • "The Haunted House" by Italian graphic artist Daniele Montella.

“Each year, during Halloween, I get requests for use of the image, even from sites of paranormal research, or even by groups claiming to be ghostbusters,” Montella said in an email interview.

Thanks to Montella’s digital expertise, the house is a jumble of horrors: its decaying exterior is flanked by gnarly trees and crumbling tombstones. But the menacing nighttime shadows cannot hide one simple fact: The building is essentially the Carson Mansion.

“I think the Carson Mansion is by definition a haunted house. It is a wooden house, with a structure shaped like a castle, complete with a tower, patio, all of which lend themselves to the theme of the haunted house,” he said.

Other digital artists have fallen under the spell of the Carson. Arlen Nielson, a graphic artist from Vancouver, Canada, used it as the basis of a popular computer desktop background image with a haunted house theme. Daniel Norbury, a 3D animator from Nottingham, England, selected the Carson house as the location of a murder mystery for a video game demo. Bryan Camilleri, a spray paint artist living on Gozo, an island near Malta in the Mediterranean, is selling Haunted Mansion paintings, with the historic Eureka house as the unmistakable subject.

How did the Carson Mansion travel to such distant canvases and computer screens? There are several reasons. First, there are countless images of it that can be easily accessed on the Internet.

"It's well known that the Carson Mansion is the most photographed Victorian in the United States," says Ray Hillman, Eureka's premier historic tour guide. "Its images have been broadcast through the media, so that it can easily be an inspiration for those looking for something to make a haunted house image."

Norbury confirms that assessment. "I looked at various existing spooky looking houses and found the Carson Mansion, which had many different photographs taken of it at different angles," which was essential to making an animation.

Many such images find their way to stock photo websites, which graphic artists frequent. Nielsen said he found a Carson Mansion image from one such Internet stockpile. Indeed, there are plenty. Go to or, for example. Type in "haunted house." One soon finds oneself at the virtual corner of Second and M streets in Old Town.

Second, the house is such a Victorian oddity that it lends itself to imaginative fancies, including scary ones. "I don't think the Newsoms [the architects who designed the house] realized what it was going to be until it was built. They threw everything at it, including the kitchen sink," said Jill Macdonald, a Eureka historic architecture expert.

Despite its riot of styles and features, there is one structure on the house crucial to its elevated status in the realm of eerie abodes — its imposing 100-foot-high tower, which rules the landscape on the east side of the Eureka waterfront.

"The Victorian flamboyance of grand central tower is rather dominating, just by its sheer mass," Hillman said.

Macdonald agreed. "The top cupola is very Alfred Hitchcock-looking. It's a defining characteristic of the house."

Speaking of the great suspensefilmmaker, Hitchcock is associated, albeit tangentially, with the Carson Mansion's scary legacy, revealing that 

Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful - RANDOM HOUSE, 1961
  • Random House, 1961
  • Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful

it predates the Internet by decades. In 1961, Random House published "Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful: Nine Cool Stories About Haunted Houses and Ghosts for Boys and Girls." The book cover, illustrated by the late Fred Banbury, sports the looming face of Alfred Hitchcock alongside a cartoon-ized Victorian home. The inspiration is clear to Hillman.

"Oh, the Carson Mansion is there," he said. "They've increased the size of one of the gables, but look at the sunburst panel at the cap of the tower, and that lunette [half circle feature] on the tower. Whoever drew that book cover definitely had images of our mansion."

Steeped in California history, Hillman recalls other ways in which the Carson Mansion has influenced fantastical architecture in the Golden State. At Disneyland in Anaheim, for example, the train station tower was inspired by the Carson Mansion cupola, he said. The former has circular clocks in the place of the semi-circular lunettes. Otherwise, they look strikingly similar.

"The architect that built the train station visited the Carson Mansion before construction of Disneyland," Hillman said.

The Carson Mansion has impressed imaginative creators in the past and present. What about the future? Well, speaking of Disneyland, another Mickey Mouse theme park is slated to open a major attraction in 2013, inspired by, according to many ... you guessed it.

Last year at the Disney Fan Club Expo in Anaheim, Disneyland Hong Kong created a buzz among amusement park enthusiasts when it unveiled sketches for Mystic Point. The main attraction will whisk visitors back to the year 1908, into a Victorian home on a remote hilltop known as Mystic Manor. A mischievous monkey opens an enchanted music box and all sorts of shadowy shenanigans ensue., the leading Internet clearinghouse for news related to Disney theme parks, came alive with posts on its forum. A leading question: What inspired the design for the Mystic Manor exterior, a mostly Victorian horror with a strangely added onion dome? A handful of candidates were forwarded, such as Morey Mansion in Redlands, Calif., which has such a feature. But overall, most agreed that the primary muse was the green, many-gabled wonder built for the family of William and Sarah Carson in 1885.

"It struck me that the Carson Mansion in Eureka, which I suggested would be a great building to house an attraction, looks a lot like Mystic Manor," one member named CaliforniaAdventurer said.

Hillman agreed. "Look at the porch, the spacing of the columns, the general configuration, I'd say no doubt. And the tower, they just doodled with it a little."

Certainly visual artists can transform the Carson Mansion into super-scary houses, but the question remains whether the house is inherently creepy or whether said creepiness needs to be brought about through creative manipulation.

"I may be too close to it, but I don't think it's scary," said Macdonald, who has studied the building extensively and regularly visits the house, which since 1950 has been owned and operated by the Ingomar Club, a private civic group. There may be paranormal rumors, Macdonald said, but they are whimsical and fun, not frightening.

Hillman agrees, to a point. "In the daytime, it has an uplifting look, a fanciful look," he said. "But at night, when the shadows are deep, and our thoughts are more in the dark world, you can start spinning tales."

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Saturday, September 26, 2020

CDC Releases Halloween Guidelines, Warns Against Traditional Trick-or-Treating

Posted By on Sat, Sep 26, 2020 at 2:41 PM

A zombie Princess Leia from Star Wars (Leslie Quinn) joined a past zombie flash mob performance of "Thriller." - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • A zombie Princess Leia from Star Wars (Leslie Quinn) joined a past zombie flash mob performance of "Thriller."
The Centers for Disease Control this week released its guidelines for celebrating Halloween in the COVID-19 era, and they're surely going to leave some kids disappointed. Probably some adults, too.

"Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses," the CDC's announcement states. "There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween."

Obviously, the CDC warns that those confirmed to have COVID, who have been exposed to a positive case or are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should isolate. But for those who are symptom, exposure and positive-test free, the CDC offered a list of Halloween activities it classifies as "lower," "moderate" and "higher risk." They range from the low risk "virtual" costume contest to the the higher risk "attending crowded costumers parties held indoors."

Here's a quick breakdown of the tiers:

Continue reading »

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Ferndale Enterprise: Humboldt County Fair Board Cancels this Year's Fair

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2020 at 8:00 PM

The midway rides were a popular way to catch a cool breeze. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • The midway rides were a popular way to catch a cool breeze.
The Ferndale Enterprise is reporting that the Humboldt County Fair Board of Directors voted to cancel this year's fair due to concerns over losing money because of decreased attendance, lack of sponsors and because large crowds may not be permitted.

Check out Ferndale Enterprise's tweet about the fair below:

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