News from Sacramento, Portland, Oahu

This catches my eye as I arrive in Sacramento:

George Francis, the nation’s oldest man, who lived through both world wars, man’s first walk on the moon and the election of the first black president, has died. He was 112.

and here is some of that vibe I didn’t like in Portland:

PORTLAND — On the streets of Portland, the brawny twin brothers James and Michael Johnson were known as the “Twin Towers,” 32-year-olds whose mere presence could strike terror among the homeless.

Police say they have linked them so far to five unprovoked assaults against transients at Colonel Summers Park in Southeast Portland, and say they suspect more victims are out there.

“They’re always picking on people who are older and frailer. There’s no fair fights here,” Portland Detective Kevin Warren said. “For the most part, it’s just a beat-down. They’re just beating people up because they’re thinking they’ll get away with it.”

One man sleeping on a park bench was pounded with his own bicycle, and another homeless man who yelled at the twins to stop was stabbed in the leg, police said.

In November, one of them allegedly threw a homeless woman in her 50s down a flight of stairs at the park after she asked them why they attacked the homeless. A witness who tried to intervene was then assaulted.

“I’ve never seen a couple of guys doing serial assaults like this with no apparent motivation … which got us motivated to find and locate other victims,” Warren said.

Meanwhile, back in Hawaii there was a blackout and the Obama girls caused a ruckus:

Barack Obama, trying to enjoy the last semblance of normal life before he becomes U.S. president on January 20, caused a commotion when he took his daughters to a shopping mall in Hawaii on Friday.

It made for a surreal scene — the president-elect, daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, and family friends eating at a table at the mall watched by a crowd of onlookers and surrounded by anxious-looking Secret Service agents.

The agents struggled to hold back people trying to get closer to snap pictures of Obama eating a tuna and melted cheese sandwich and the girls enjoying shave ices, a local treat made from finely shaved ice and fruit syrup.

Mountains that shouldn’t be there.


We like to think that science can give us all the answers but sometimes we don’t know as much as we think we do. Take the huge range of mountains that goes across Antarctica and the fact that scientists can’t explain why they are there, they can explain why they shouldn’t be there though.

An Antarctic mountain range that rivals the Alps in elevation will be probed this month by an expedition of scientists using airborne radar and other Information Age tools to virtually “peel away” more than 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) of ice covering the peaks. One of the mysteries of the mountain range is that current evidence suggests that it “shouldn’t be there” at all.

And while the UFO’s that an Australian Psychic predicted would hover over Alabama didn’t materialize, a recently released report shows that U.S. fighters have been scrambled to see UFO’s in Britain.The files are online at: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ufos

One pilot said he was seconds away from firing 24 rockets at the object, which moved erratically and gave a radar reading like “a flying aircraft carrier.” The pilot, Milton Torres, now 77 and living in Miami, said it spent periods motionless in the sky before reaching estimated speeds of more than 7,600 mph (12,000 kph).After the alert, a shadowy figure told Torres he must never talk about the incident and he duly kept silent for more than 30 years.His story was among dozens of UFO sightings in defence ministry files released at the National Archives in London.

And here is a story even more bizarre…who the hell would do this?

The Asheville (N.C.) Citizen Times reports, “A dead bear was found dumped this morning on the Western Carolina University campus, draped with a pair of Obama campaign signs, university police said.”

Maintenance workers at 7:45 a.m. found a 75-pound bear cub dumped at the roundabout at the entrance to campus, said Tom Johnson, chief of university police. “It looked like it had been shot in the head as best we can tell. A couple of Obama campaign signs had been stapled together and stuck over its head,” Johnson said. University police called in N.C. Wildlife Resources officials to remove the body and help in the investigation. “This is certainly unacceptable,” Johnson said. “Someone was wanting to draw attention to the election.

“If we find out who they are, we’ll make sure Western Carolina University deplores the inappropriate behavior that led to this troubling incident,” said Leila Tvedt, associate vice chancellor “We cannot speculate on the motives of the people involved, nor who those people might be. Campus police are cooperating with authorities to investigate this matter.”

So, what is real? Can you steal something that doesn’t actually exist in the real world? Apparently you can. You can even get punished for it.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – A Dutch court has convicted two youths of theft for stealing virtual items in a computer game and sentenced them to community service.

Only a handful of such cases have been heard in the world, and they have reached varying conclusions about the legal status of “virtual goods.”

The Leeuwarden District Court says the culprits, 15 and 14 years old, coerced a 13-year-old boy into transferring a “virtual amulet and a virtual mask” from the online adventure game RuneScape to their game accounts.

“These virtual goods are goods (under Dutch law), so this is theft,” the court said Tuesday in a summary of its ruling. Identities of the minors were not released. The 15-year-old was sentenced to 200 hours service, and the 14-year-old to 160 hours.

Here is another question that needs an answer since we don’t have one…why are middle aged American white women killing themselves?

U.S. suicide rates appear to be on the rise, driven mostly by middle-aged white women, researchers reported on Tuesday. They found a disturbing increase in suicides between 1999 and 2005 and said the pattern had changed in an unmistakable way — although the reasons behind the change are not clear.

One can certainly speculate…especially about the emptiness of the career track.

Finally, it appears that we are close to the time when we can make cars and planes out of paper. Now who in the world would believe that?

Unhappy Birthday for Americans- even The Optimists

This is a long article and I am posting it in full below. On another sad note, Larry Harmon, aka Bozo the Clown died on July 3rd. Once my brother and I subsisted on Larry Harmon peanut butter and bread plus coconut rum when we were marooned in the bahamas in squeaking slippers…but that is another story.

Even folks in the Optimist Club are having a tough time toeing an upbeat line these days. Continue reading “Unhappy Birthday for Americans- even The Optimists”

Woman who lived for 58 years in Iron Lung dies during power outage

I post this not because it is sad or ironic, although it is both, but because of the amzing quality of the story. This woman spent all of her life since she was three years old living in this contraption and still managed to graduate high school, take college courses, and get a write a book for children. I wouldn’t imagine anyone would have expected her to go when the power went out, but one has to wonder if she felt relief or sadness or regrets as she left this world.

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Dianne Odell, 61, had been confined to the 7-foot-long machine since she was stricken by polio at 3 years old.

Family members were unable to get an emergency generator working for the iron lung after a power failure knocked out electricity to the Odell family’s residence near Jackson, about 80 miles northeast of Memphis, brother-in-law Will Beyer said.
Odell was afflicted with “bulbo-spinal” polio three years before a polio vaccine was discovered and largely stopped the spread of the crippling childhood disease.

She spent her life in the iron lung, cared for by her parents and other family members. Though confined inside the 750-pound apparatus, Odell managed to get a high school diploma, take college courses and write a children’s book.

The iron lung that she used was a cylindrical chamber with a seal at the neck. She lay on her back in the device with only her head exposed, and made eye contact with visitors using an angled mirror above her head. The lung worked by producing positive and negative pressure on the lungs that caused them to expand and contract so that she could breathe.

Iron lungs were first used to sustain life in 1928, and were largely replaced by positive-pressure airway ventilators in the late 1950s. A spinal deformity from the polio made it impossible for Odell to wear a more modern, portable breathing apparatus, so she continued to use the older machine.

It is not known how many polio survivors still use iron lungs, but Odell was believed to have used it for longer than most.

Odell was determined to live a full life — she earned a diploma from Jackson High School as a home-bound student and an honorary degree from Freed-Hardeman College. A voice-activated computer allowed her to write a children’s book, “Less Light,” about Blinky, a tiny star who dreams of becoming a wishing star.

In a 2001 interview with The Associated Press, she said she wanted to show children, especially those with physical disabilities, that they should never give up.

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you see someone do the same thing,” she said.

‘Father’ of LSD dies at 102

NEW YORK (AP) — Albert Hofmann, father of the mind-altering drug LSD whose medical discovery grew into a notorious “problem child,” died Tuesday. He was 102.

Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, in 1998, long maintained that LSD had many medical uses.

Hofmann died of a heart attack at his home in Basel, Switzerland, according to Rick Doblin, president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, in a statement posted on the association’s Web site.

Hofmann’s hallucinogen inspired — and arguably corrupted — millions in the 1960’s hippie generation. For decades after LSD was banned in the late 1960s, Hofmann defended his invention.

“I produced the substance as a medicine. … It’s not my fault if people abused it,” he said.

The Swiss chemist discovered lysergic acid diethylamide-25 in 1938 while studying the medicinal uses of a fungus found on wheat and other grains at the Sandoz pharmaceuticals firm in Basel.

He became the first human guinea pig of the drug when a tiny amount of the substance seeped onto his finger during a repeat of the laboratory experiment April 16, 1943.

‘Father’ of LSD dies at 102 – CNN.com