Archive for September, 2011

CR News Visits a Homeless Camp

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

All Happy Now (by Bailey Fletcher)

Monday, September 19th, 2011


After two years of wanting to go but not being able to find the time (or afford the $5 entry fee), I finally woke up early on a Saturday to make the brief 4-hour window of accessibility into the gorgeous Humboldt Botanical Gardens, which is a burgeoning project full of possibility. It’s quite a steep hike up the hill behind College of the Redwoods but there are plenty of benches along the way overlooking the bay, and shaded gardens that offer reprieve. The path is lined with kooky modern art projects like string tied to trees and buttons lining the ground, but if anything, they are good for a chuckle. The winner of these artsy fartsy projects is hands-down the phenomenal labyrinth at the end. It’s a spiral mound that takes you on a silent, spiritual journey to the center, where traditionally, one meditates until fulfilling the labyrinth’s name-sake, “All Happy Now”.

The title of this project is appropriately”Strings”.

The Foxglove, also known as Dead Man’s Thimbles, has purple pendent flowers that may look charming but it is one of the most poisonous plants known to man. If leaves, seeds, or flowers are consumed, it brings instant death to all living creatures.

From the top of the hill is a rewarding vista of the wildlife refuge and the bay.


Bailey writes at “Humboldt Moments”, where this article was originally posted. Thanks Bailey

Rita’s – No Mas Thank You

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

     Normally I wouldn’t be writing something like this, but my experience today left such an impression I couldn’t help but write about it.

     Sometime in the summer of 1995 (give or take a year) I had just finished a job and was on the way back to the shop when the two other members of my crew decided to grab some lunch before reporting in. We stopped at a Mexican place on Wabash St.

     It was a single wide trailer that had been modified to be a restaurant. The décor, like the building was, not much to look at. There were only about 5 tables to sit at and a reach in refrigerator that held beer and soda for customers to “self serve”. Aside from myself and two crew members, there were only two people other people in the whole place; the girl at the counter and the woman in the kitchen cooking.

     I ordered 4 of the then $1 tacos and felt disappointed at the size of them when the order came up. I was used to Taco Bell “regular tacos”, but what I got was meat, onions, and cilantro on two small corn tortillas laid flat on the plate with a wedge of lime next to each. It looked pretty skimpy for the $4 I just paid.

     I looked at the lime and thought “be daring, try it with lime”. Then something amazing happened; I tasted them! They were the most magnificent tacos I have ever tasted. They were simple, juicy, and filled with flavor! I was sold! My $4 was a wonderful investment, and I would end up visiting the small trailer at least 2 times a week to fill my new addiction, occasionally getting an equally amazing burrito or enchilada. I ended up going cold turkey in 1998 when I moved out of the area, and I never visited another Mexican food place that could compare to my wonderful little trailer called “Rita’s”.

     When I moved back a couple years ago, one of my first stops was to my favorite Mexican food place. I don’t know if I had just built up in my mind just how wonderful Rita’s used to be or if there was something a little off, but I could tell either I or it had changed. I would go visit Rita’s every so often with my friends, but I could always tell it wasn’t the “real” Rita’s I once loved so much. I would hear reviews of how good it was from radio personalities and others that now felt what I once did, but I knew the truth, it just wasn’t as good as it once was.

     The last time I visited Rita’s before today was about 5 months ago. It was completely unrecognizable from its humble and magnificent beginnings. The inflation had taken firm hold and my $1 tacos were long gone, replaced with a price around $2.50 or so and the enchilada plate was fetching a good $7 or so. The food couldn’t compare with the days of the trailer, and it was the first time I felt I would have been better off going to Taco Bell since I first looked down at my plate in 1995. I chalked it up to a “new cook” or some other explainable reason for such a wrong turn.

     Fast forward to 9/12/11, I was downtown today when I thought “hey I should go check out the new location for Rita’s”. I got to the place at 12:00 and waited to be seated like the sign said. While I waited I looked around. The place was not swamped, but you could tell it was lunchtime around there. I stood next to the counter, within reach of the hostess for almost 4 minutes without even being acknowledged while she tinkered with the register. I was finally asked “how many in your party?” I answered “1” and was promptly handed a menu and motioned I could sit anywhere. The thought of grabbing the largest table in the place just to get back at the rude hostess crossed my mind, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt since we have all had computer problems that required our immediate attention.

     I grabbed a small 2 person table within site of the door and looked over the menu. The first thing I noticed was the price hike. My tacos had a price tag of $2.89 each and the enchilada plate was now $8.99, I didn’t even want to know what they were getting for a burrito now. I made my selection and set my menu down to signal I was ready to order, and that’s when I realized nobody had come with chips and salsa. I took a look in the menu to see if they were still free or if I would have to pay $3 for them as some other places charge. I was happy to see that they were not listed on the menu, but then thought “where are mine?” About 5 minutes later a bus person came by with chips and salsa and a glass of water, and then disappeared as fast as they arrived.

     I snacked on the chips while I waited for the waitress to come by. Before I knew it I had an empty basket of chips and still no sign of a waitress. I took a look at my phone to check the time and it was now 12:18. I started to think “if I don’t see a waitress soon, I am just going to leave!” At about 12:22 my waitress arrived and took the order (1 taco, 1 enchilada combo for $8.99) and was gone as soon as the last word left my mouth; no drink, no up sale, no “thank you”, just *poof* and gone. A minute or two later I asked one of the passing bus people for a soda.

     I sat, and sat, and sat waiting for my food. I checked my phone when I first thought I might not get to eat my lunch before I had to go back to my meeting. It was 12:44 when my order finally arrived! OVER 20 minutes for 1 taco, 1 enchilada, beans and rice!!! When it finally got there I thought “I should have paid for the coke and gone someplace else!” and you know, if I would have had more time I would have.

     The combo looked small on the plate, but this was nothing new; looks can often be deceiving. I squeezed my lime over the taco and picked it up knowing what it once was and ready for what it was now. No fireworks, no flashes of bright lights, no “wow this is the best ever!” It was just the same as it has been for a few years now; not bad, but not magnificent. The enchilada was the same way, good but nothing that could compare to the flavor I got from that trailer.

     I finished my meal quickly, since I didn’t have much time to get back, and thought about waiting for a check. Then I thought “screw that, I can’t wait another 20 minutes!” I went directly to the register and paid as quickly as I could.

     On the way back to my meeting I thought “that’s my last visit to Rita’s, they are nothing that I can’t get from any of the other Mexican food places except maybe better service.”

     I guess the only thing I can really say about Rita’s now is “thanks for the memories”.

Northcoast 9/11 Memories

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011


Monday, September 12th, 2011

     Today is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. A day forever burned into the heart of America. A day that forever changed the lives of not just Americans, but the world. A tragedy so horrible it we no longer say we live in the information age or the age of rapid medicinal advances; we say “A post 9/11 world”.

I have heard all the plans this last week of ceremonies to remember the heroes and those lost 10 years ago. The media has dusted off the photos and videos of 9/11 to remind us of our loss and obligation to those lost and those that still wish to do harm; life is frail, stay strong, and you can never take our spirit.

9/11 is here and this morning I logged into Facebook , everyone I knew had something to say about 9/11 or show their pride in America or even just pay quiet tribute with the words “God bless America”. I thought “what should I write? How will I express my feelings today? What can my humble voice contribute?” I couldn’t think of anything at all! I was tempted to cut and paste the “show your support” quips that people were posting, but in my opinion that is cheap and put you at no risk in exploring your feelings or expressing your own genuine thoughts

As I was changing the clothes from the washer to the dryer it hit me; start writing and see where it leads. I had many thoughts and feelings on what to write, how to say it, and threw out many ideas that were just wrong. I thought of just how I have changed, how my family has changed, how America and the world have changed since that day. I thought of all the people that would be speaking and what great words might be committed to history on this anniversary. I thought of those that haven’t been able to say anything since that day, and the heroes that have passed or are suffering now from exposure to toxins of that day. I explored my thoughts, feelings, emotions, and I was still at a loss for words.

Maybe that’s the real goal; thinking about it all. Maybe it’s enough to reflect on the past 10 years and the events of 9/11. Maybe we don’t have to say anything at all if we can take the time to grow from the event and see just how much it has changed not only us, but the world we live in.

I still don’t have an answer on what I could say; but I have given a true effort and maybe that is worth more than any “cut and paste” slogan I could place on a website.

Timber Train–A Rail Good Time

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

See a need fill a need

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

  Technology is pretty much a required part of today’s world. The internet has now become a standard household utility bill almost equally required as electricity or gas. Nobody uses typewriters or stand alone word processors anymore; the computer has completely replaced them altogether. E-mail is now so powerful that the American postal system is facing significant problems and branch closures. I can’t even remember the last time I even saw a pay phone. Becoming a celebrity does not require finding an agent or going on casting calls anymore, just get a good Utube video and you can go from zero to hero in just a few video submissions.  Even this article is a testament to technologies place as ruler of our society; I wrote it on a computer, submitted it online, your viewing it online (or someone printed it from online for you to read), and I am just some schmuck sitting in my underwear at my kitchen table writing it rather than some trusted journalist with years of experience. Most of us take this technology we use almost every day for granted.

  The point to all of this you ask? What about those that don’t have access to this tech? It’s hard to have a computer when you are homeless. Not all school children have access to a computer help with education. Job seekers can’t even pick up a newspaper and browse the employment section because newspapers are outsourcing to internet job boards, and employers prefer to take online applications only these days. There are plenty more examples of people without access to technology as well.

   So what about public library or ETD for computer use? Yes, those are very good and available resources. There are limitations to these resources though, and not all needs can be met by them.

  There is a new and emerging need for all towns and cities, a free community technology center. A safe place that all are welcome and have access to computers, internet, email access, free phone service, scanning, copying, faxing, free basic computer skills classes, and much much more.

   As of writing this, I am pleased to inform you that Humboldt County will have a community technology center of its own. We are still in the early stages of development, but I am part of a small group that is dedicated to filling this need in our community.

   I do hope that you will continue to read future articles and postings of our progress as we try to bring this needed service to our community.

 If you are interested in helping, please email .

CR Construction: A Pain-in-the-Rut

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Syllabus for Journalism 5 — Mass Communication

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Journalism 5Introduction to Mass CommunicationTTh   FM 104Instructor: Dave Silverbrande-mail address:  Work no. 443-6666 

Office hours: By previous arrangement.  My mailbox is in the Arts and Humanities Office.  This class is a 3-unit General Education class, transferable to UC’s and CSU’s.

Class objective: An introduction to the history, purpose and methods of print and electronic media. Issues involving social, political and technological impacts on mass communication will be studied through exploration of newspapers, magazines, film, television, computers and emerging technologies.

–We will also be looking at examples of current and past documentaries to evaluate their message and technique.

–We will study the effect of the media on national and local policy changes as well as evolving social attitudes.  This class relies heavily on participation and discussion.


Critical Thinking: This is primarily a theory course designed to sharpen one’s skill at evaluating media messages.  This involves judging information sources as well as content.  We will compare and contrast skills required to evaluate different media sources: Internet, broadcast, print and movies.

Class perspective.  I am a career television reporter and much of what I deal with each day is determined by unpredictable events.   Similarly, much of what we talk about will be dictated by news events and technology revelations.  That’s why it will important to have some working knowledge of current events and methods of obtaining information about those events.

Required Materials:  There is no standard text but I will be making reading assignments in current publications.  You are also required to keep a notebook of class information.

Attendance: It is mandatory and an important component of your final grade.  Excused absences are recognized only by a doctor’s signed note. You are also responsible for material covered in class.  Don’t ask me what you missed.  Get it from someone else.

Tests: There are no formal exams but your grade is weighed heavily by other factors.  Furthermore, attendance at the final exam period is required by the college.  Failure to so can result in failure from the course.


Use of cell phones, text-messaging or private conversations will not be permitted in this class.  You instructor has the right to discharge you from the class either for that period or for the entire semester.  I have exercised this right in the past and will do so again, no questions asked.


Semester-Long Project:  Your grade is determined in large part by your semester-long commitment to a media-related project or endeavor.  You may fulfill that commitment in one of four ways, or in a combination of those four ways.


Term Paper:  Select a media-related topic of interest and prepare a presentation based on your findings.  This would be a 12 to 15 page paper (which may include charts or graphs).   You are not required to use MLA or other formal citations but you must reference the sources of your specific information. 


For example, if you say that the Internet is the number one source of information for high school students, you must explain the source of that information (Ex: According to The Columbia Journalism Review)   The role of local broadcast stations in advertising and the impact of social media on our lives..


These papers must involve some local aspect of the media.  This is to dissuade use of cutting and pasting on-line articles, a frequent problem.


CR Website and Video Magazine: This is a video project produced by us and posted on the web.  You may see examples of it at  .  No technical skill is required but time commitment is essential.  We are usually able to produce 15 or 20 o9f these projects a year.


Documented Participation in a media-related project:  This can include such activities as working at a radio station, job-shadowing a reporter or media worker or writing for a blog or print publication.  We can help you find internship opportunities with local media.


Except for the term paper, you must log the time you devote to all activities, presenting that log to me on the final day of the class.  The log should include date, activity and time spent on that activity.  Failure to submit the log will result in failure to pass the class.


It is expected that you log a minimum of 20 hours of activity in the media related project.


Class responses: Every class lecture is vital to understanding media.  With that in mind, I am requiring a weekly written response to the topic of the week.  This is a one-page synopsis (what you took away from the discussion) of the topics discussed.  It can be submitted either in hard-copy form or on-line.  The on-line submissions will be used in the on-line blog.  This is also your opportunity to comment on lecture topics you may not have understood.


This means that at any time during the semester, you will be able to track your grade and progress in this class. 


Term Paper or Project:                                                                          1000 points

Lecture response papers                                                                         1500 points

                                                                        Total                              2500 points.                                                  


Syllabus for Journalism 1 — Beginning Reporting

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Syllabus for Journalism 1 – Beginning ReportingMW: 8:30 a.m. to 9:55 a.m.  FM 205Dave Silverbrand, Instructor  Contact info:  das1721@att.netTel: 443-6666 What We Teach: This class is directly transferable to any CSU in the state, including Humboldt State University.  It is the equivalent to their Beginning Reporting so it is important that we achieve certain academic standards.  Purpose of the Course:

The nature of the media is changing every day, but not our need for good journalists.  In fact, they are more important than ever. This class will introduce you to the basic skills of reporting—gathering information, evaluating it and providing a comprehensive and credible account of events.  At the end of the semester, you will be competent in various methods of reporting and in the various mediums available to you.  And please remember that journalism is fun.Methods:We will employ in-class activities and individual projects to help you experiment with reporting styles and in preparing your work for mass communication.  Those skills will involve:1: Interview techniques2: News conference experience3: Breaking news coverage4. Critical thinking skills5. Employment options.6. Video-taking and photo techniquesRequirements:No text is required for this class.  Information will be provided to you on-line or in class.  That will include presentations by working journalists and those connected to the media.  You are encouraged to use media-related equipment to include tape recorders, video cameras of any format and/or still cameras.Grading will be on the basis of in-class work and contributions to our media sites,, our exclusive news blog. Each completed project will be counted as 100 points with minimum contributions for the class 1500 points.  That is one project a week.  At any time during the semester, you will be able to determine how you are performing in the class.  That project will include an interview, story or contribution to our media outlets.  I am asking a minimum of one page on each story and we invite pictures and/or video. 

That vidieo will be uploaded to YouTube and then embedded on the blog site. 

We will cover the following sources of news:

  1. Police and Crime – visit with police information officer
  2. City government – visit to city hall and attendance of city council meeting
  3. Sports (Optional)  HSU events and Sports Information Officer visit.
  4. Entertainment including the night scene and theatre.
  5. Feature stories including one class – weather permitting – on Arcata Plaza.


I am also coordinating a collaborative story in which you will each contribute some aspect of a big story.  This will be offered to the Lumberjack, Arcata Eye or Northcoast Journal. 

Please keep copies of all your work for an end-of-the-semester portfolio.  You can use this to seek employment in local journalism or related work.Attendance:This is essential to the fulfillment of our goals.  I have the option of dropping you from the class for six un-excused absences.  Make-up work is available by pre-arrangement with the instructor. 

You are expected to document your work for a final log.  You should plan on logging 30 hours of work on a media-related project in the course of the semester. 

Text messaging and cellphones will not be permitted during class time.  Violators of this guideline will be asked to leave the classroom immediately.  Each infraction will result in deduction from your semester score. 

Remember, this is a rare opportunity for hands-on journalism experience.  Make the most of it.