HARDIN: Lots of Soil, Not Many Vegetables

John Hardin / Today @ 7:47 a.m. / Op-Ed

We don’t garden much, but this year we thought we’d grow some purple carrots, garlic, chives and green onions in pots around our home. We stopped at Dazey’s garden supply store to look for some vegetable starts, because, as I recall, they used to have a pretty good selection in the spring. When we got there, the place was mobbed. All around us people were piling sacks and loading and unloading trucks in every available space. We asked about plant starts. They told us they don’t do plants anymore.

They’d happily sell me a trimming machine, bubble bags and all the soil and amendments I could ask for, but they had no plants at all in their “garden center.” They sent me to Sylvandale’s and Redway Feed, both of which, like Dazey’s, were hopping with customers, but unlike Dazey’s, actually had a few plants. Still, the selection seemed pretty slim at both locations.

Back in high school, I used to work in a garden center. We had more plants than all of the “garden centers” in SoHum put together. I mixed mountains of soil, filled thousands of flats with six-packs and soil and watered millions of tiny seedlings every year for people who grew flowers and vegetables in their gardens. That’s why they called it a “garden center.” I guess we don’t even pretend to grow anything but pot around here anymore.

A friend of mine who works at one of our local “garden centers” told me they had an order for 600 pallets of bagged soil (that’s well over 1,000 cubic yards of sterilized potting soil, packed into over 30,000 bags) for one customer. I have no idea how many tractor-trailer loads that comes out to, but the delivery driver is going to know that route well by the time it is all delivered. The garden center I worked at couldn’t move that that much soil in a decade, no matter how they sold it. Here, you could sell all the dirt on the planet to Humboldt County pot growers if you could just find enough trucks and drivers to deliver it.

Who’s got the time for a vegetable garden when you’ve got 30,000 bags of soil to open before you plant, and you pay almost as much for soil as you would for all the vegetables you could grow in it? If it doesn’t make sense to grow vegetables that way, why grow pot that way? If it weren’t for marijuana prohibition, no one would dream of cutting down trees or draining salmon streams or hauling 600 pallets of sterilized potting soil halfway across the state and ten miles up a muddy dirt road to a hole in the forest, to grow a common, hardy agricultural staple. None of this makes any sense, outside of the War on Drugs, but it looks like we’ll see more Drug War madness in 2017 than we ever saw before.

2017 promises to be the biggest soil delivery season in Humboldt County history, and our roads are in the worst shape I’ve ever seen them. Just add the cost of the road damage, both to county roads and to private roads and adjacent habitat, to the long litany of costs born by the community at large for the War on Drugs. I know you don’t want to think about that. You really don’t want to think about the millions of lives, lost and ruined, even though you know some of them. You don’t want to think about what it has done to you and your kids, and how it affects our community. You don’t want to think about what it says about our society, and what it is doing to the Earth. You don’t want to think about it, because you don’t want to know, and you don’t want to know because if you knew, you couldn’t do it. You wouldn’t do it. You wouldn’t tolerate it.

According to 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell, so far Humboldt County has only granted 19 cannabis cultivation permits, and they’re holding meetings all over Humboldt County to decide how to spend the tax money they collect from these few growers who paid the fees, made the improvements and submitted to inspections, and still dare to compete with the black market. Meanwhile, the vast majority of Humboldt County’s growers have opted to remain in the shadows to serve the nationwide black market.

The county received more than 2,000 cannabis permit applications before the deadline last December. Most of those permit applications will never get approved. Growers knew that they could file a little paperwork and pay a fee that would keep the Sheriff out of their hair for a year or two. The black market has always had a cut and run attitude.

The fact that over 2,000 people filed applications for permits doesn’t mean that they intend to comply with state and county regulations, it just means that they intend to cut big this year. Instead of bringing the cannabis industry out of the shadows, Humboldt County’s cannabis permit program seems to have allowed a couple thousand growers to buy cover for all of them for one more big year in 2017. After that, we’ll see what’s left of Humboldt County.


John Hardin writes at Like You’ve Got Something Better to Do.


Warehouse Completely Destroyed By Fire Last Night, Humboldt Bay Fire Says, But Surrounding Buildings Were Saved

Hank Sims / Today @ 7:38 a.m. / Fire

Photo: Kati Barrett.




From Humboldt Bay Fire:

At 8:55 this evening four units from Humboldt Bay Fire responded to a reported structure fire at 3rd and R Streets in Eureka. Upon arrival, fire personnel found heavy smoke coming from a warehouse at 211 R Street (just east of Hwy 255 between 2nd and 3rd Streets). Based upon the volume of fire and potential spread to two adjacent buildings, a “commercial second alarm” was requested, bringing the last remaining Humboldt Bay Fire engine and mutual aid crews from Arcata to assist. Because access to the fire was directly off of R Street, the northbound lane of Hwy 255 was closed at 4th Street for the duration of the incident.

Crews attacked the fire and searched the buildings for victims, with none being located. Fortunately the fire was contained in 20 minutes to an approximately 1,500 square feet storage building, with only minor fire damage to an attached 5,000 square feet warehouse which contained crab pots and related fishing gear. In addition, an ice cream storage and distributor business located directly behind the fire building was not damaged by the fire.

Full fire extinguishment was achieved in approximately two hours. The involved fire building was completely destroyed by the fire, with an estimated loss of $50,000. The fire cause is under investigation at this time.

Man Stabbed to Death in Alderpoint; Assailant Says Boyfriend Had Been Beating Her, According to Sheriff’s Office

Hank Sims / Today @ 7:04 a.m. / Crime

From the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:

On Sunday 3-26-2017 at around 7:58 P.M. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center received a 911 call from a female who stated she had just stabbed her boyfriend because he was hitting her. Deputies responded to the incident location in the 1500 block of Steelhead Road in Alderpoint.

Upon arrival, Deputies located a male who was unresponsive. Medical aid was brought on scene where the male was pronounced deceased.

H.C.S.O. Investigators were called and responded to take over the investigation. This case is currently under investigation. Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to call Investigator Todd Fulton at (707) 268-3646.

Fire at Eureka Warehouse Near Foot of Samoa Bridge

Andrew Goff / Yesterday @ 9:42 p.m. / Fire

Humboldt Bay Fire is currently battling a structure fire at a warehouse located at the corner of R and Second streets in Eureka, near the base of the Samoa Bridge. Highway 255 is closed for the time being.

A reader sends in the picture below. Looks to be a building right behind the ol’ H. Dinsmore & Son Painting building. 

We will update when we know more. 

Submitted by reader “John”

(VIDEO) ‘Deceptive’ Slide Continues to Dump Mud on Route 1 Near Leggett, the Road is Also Sinking and Caltrans Doesn’t Know Why

John Ross Ferrara / Yesterday @ 4:51 p.m. / Traffic

Trees falling from the top of the slide. Video from Caltrans.

The section of Route 1 that was shut down almost two months ago due to active slides west of Leggett, isn’t reopening anytime soon.

Caltrans reports that while one slide is mostly cleaned up in the area, another is still spilling mud and rock across the roadway.

A video posted by Caltrans yesterday shows crews encountering trees crashing down the hillside from more than 120 feet up.

The roadway is also sinking and Caltrans isn’t quite sure why.

“One lane of the roadway has begun to sink,” Caltrans wrote on Facebook. “We do not know why … It may be that we will find that section was originally built on fallen logs, a practice that was common at one time.”

The road will have to be excavated so Caltrans can determine the cause. Read more from Caltrans below.

Caltrans Facebook post:

Update on the Route 1 closure just west of Leggett The two slides will be referred to as the near slide (Postmile 104, the closest to Leggett), and the far slide (Postmile 103).

The near slide was active Friday when these photos were taken, with several inches of mud and rock flowing across the highway. This slide is deceptive: from the roadway you cannot fully see the extent of the slide.

We hiked up over 120’ next to the slide to get photos and video that you cannot otherwise see. While we were there trees came down from the top of the slide.

The far slide is stable and cleaned up well, but one lane of the roadway has begun to sink. We do not know why, but the roadway will be excavated to determine why it is sinking. It may be that we will find that section was originally built on fallen logs, a practice that was common at one time.

Photos by Caltrans.


Barry Evans / Yesterday @ 7:57 a.m. / Growing Old Ungracefully

(On the Iraq war) I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.

— Vice President Dick Cheney, May 31, 2005


Sun Tzu’s 5th century BC “Art of War” (Chinese bamboo book, University of California, Riverside. Creative Commons) closed to display the cover. This copy of The Art of War (on the cover, “孫子兵法”) by Sun Tzu is part of a collection at the University of California, Riverside. The cover also reads “乾隆御書”, meaning it was either commissioned or transcribed by the Qianlong Emperor.


I’m not sure if I’m a pacifist, and possibly not a Buddhist, despite what I told Mr. Nakamura 20 years ago. I’d been living in the U.S. on a green card for two decades as a resident alien with a Canadian passport, paying taxes, staying out of trouble, never giving citizenship a thought. I’ve never been much of a nationalist, patriot or flag waver, considering this planet far too small and vulnerable for us-and-them politics and wars.

Then I happened upon a news item in the back of our local paper: a group of Republican senators were mulling the idea of cutting Social Security benefits for non-citizens. Where neither sentiment nor ideology moved me, economics could and did. A few months later, I was sitting at a desk in the San Jose INS office as Mr. Nakamura went over my application.

“Why you not willing to bear arms?” he asked. Oh yeah, that’s right, on the second page, I was asked if I had any problem with the Oath of Allegiance I’d be taking, and instead of giving a straight yes/no answer, I’d fumbled around with the part where I had to promise to:

“…support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law…”

“Um. Well, I’m a Buddhist,” I said, adding, “I don’t believe in violence.” Possibly a lie — a gray area, at the least. He looked me in the eye. “I am Buddhist. I serve in U.S. Army, no problem. What your problem? You say ‘yes’ here, OK?”

And really, what was my problem? No one was going to ask me to start shooting “enemies, foreign and domestic” at my age. Just go along with it, Barry. Yet some perverse limbic brain function took over and I told him I couldn’t. He sighed. This freaking peacenik here was screwing up his day. “When you become Buddhist?” I thought back. I suppose I’d started conflating Buddhism and pacifism back in the good old days of the Nuclear Freeze movement. I told him so. “You prove this?” I could, yes, I’d been an ardent letter writer and op-ed contributor. “I can show you my pacifist writing.” “You come back, show me.”

And so it was, a month later, that Mr. Nakamura examined my newspaper tearsheets from the mid ’70s with ledes like, “Ten Myths about the Arms Race” and “Why ‘First Strike’ Won’t Work.” “You wait,” he said, heading off down the hall clutching my pleas for nuclear sanity. He was back in five minutes. “Boss says OK.” And that was it, my application for citizenship had a waiver about bearing arms, I was silent during that part of the Oath. And here I am.


But am I really a pacifist? Are any of us, if we were faced with a life or death decision, especially with family to defend? Of course not. (The Buddhist line was a red herring; Buddhism can be as bloodthirsty as any other of the world’s nominally peace-loving religions, as I realized during my two spells in Sri Lanka.)

All of the above is a prelude to noting that the Trump administration is calling for yet more money for the U.S. military while cutting State Department funds. We already spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined, that is, over a third of global military spending. But it’s not enough, apparently.

Because, somehow, the power-brokers of this country have confused “strong military” with “ability to bring about peace.” If that was the case, we wouldn’t still be in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria; we’d have helped bring about an end to warfare there instead of radicalizing young people who would otherwise be living productive lives.

Didn’t our experience in Vietnam, not to mention our ongoing adventurism in the Middle East, teach us anything? You don’t defeat enemies, you turn them into friends. It’s called diplomacy, working for the common good. Big picture diplomats are essential to bringing wars to an end and avoiding getting into them in the first place.

DJT disagrees, apparently, with his proposed 29 percent cut to State Department funding.

Sun Tzu got it right 2,500 years ago: “The supreme art of war is to subdue your enemy without fighting.” Which, I guess, is too subtle for our current leadership.

Ferndale Woman Rose Clothilda Ambrosini Celebrates a ‘Fantastic’ 101st Birthday Today

John Ross Ferrara / Saturday, March 25 @ 3:41 p.m. / Celebration

LoCO has been informed that Rose Clothilda Ambrosini turns101 today. Although we say she doesn’t look a day over 75. 

A little bird told LoCO that a certain someone is celebrating a very special birthday.

Ferndale woman Rose Clothilda (Katri) Ambrosini turns 101 today. That’s right, 1-0-1!

When asked by her granddaughter Katie Hunter how it feels to be 101, Ambrosini replied: “Just perfect. It’s fantastic!”

Born in Waddington on March 25, 1916, Ambrosini went on to graduate from Ferndale High School and marry her husband Donald. Together they had three children.

Ambrosini’s family tells us that she was also one of the first women to study business at Humboldt State University.

Happy Birthday from all of us at LoCO, Rose! May your second century of life be even better than the first. And remember to save us a piece of that cake!