Playing With Fire

It was a stupid thing to have done. Adam and I were playing with matches, lighting spider-webs on fire.

We burned down a shed and part of a fence. And we came pretty damned close to torching two homes.

It was the first and only time I got four whippings in one afternoon.


Nevada – The Newest Nanny-state

Nevada has entered the anti-cell phone nanny-state after lawmakers in the Assembly approved a measure banning cell phone calling or texting while driving beginning July 1. The vote was 24-17 without debate on Senate Bill 140.


Under the bill, drivers will be allowed to make calls if they use a “hands-free” system while keeping both hands on the steering wheel. A driver cause violating the law could be fined $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense and a possible six-month suspension of their driver’s license for a third offense.

So much for personal responsibility and that rugged sense of individualism Nevada was known for at one time.

There are exemptions, however to SB 140. Emergency personnel and law enforcement officers will be allowed to use a cell phone while on duty, and motorists would be permitted to place cell phone calls to report or request assistance for a medical emergency, a safety hazard or criminal activity.

As a former risk manager, I have to ask: Are they going to create cell phone safety courses for police, fire and ambulance personnel and how much will this cost Nevada taxpayers?

Strangely — language pertaining to this question is absent from SB 140.
Lauren Weinstein of People for Internet Responsibility says banning the use of cell phone while driving makes politicians feel good about themselves. However, he adds, there are no studies that show hand-held cell phones are any more or less distracting than “hands free” devices.

How long will it be before Nevada lawmakers decide it’s a good idea to ban the children sitting in the backseat — after all, they can be a distraction and cannot be rendered “hands-free,” much to the wish of some parents.

Fighting Versus Self-Defense

In recent years, school district’s everywhere have gone into the politically correct zone by applying disciplinary measures to everybody involved. There seems to be few opportunities for both parents and students to appeal the rules which are written on paper — but set in stone.

And sometimes, you have to wonder, who the real bully is in these cases.

For example, Elko County school trustees have turned down a father’s appeal to lift a disciplinary sanction and let his class president daughter speak at her senior class graduation at Spring Creek High School. The board’s decision upholds Superintendent Jeff Zander’s original decision.
Savannah Amberson’s father, Ward Amberson, argues his daughter didn’t start the lunchroom fight in April at the high school. He maintains she’s being punished for being a victim.

“I’m not saying my daughter is perfect,” he says, “but she was defending herself after another student threw a punch at her face.”

I agree with him completely — there is a difference between fighting and defending yourself.

Amberson says his daughter is an honor student who has been involved in leadership for four years. Savannah will attend Boise State University in the fall on an academic scholarship.

I had the same problem when it came to Kyle defending himself, but the outcome was much different from Mr. Amberson’s results.

He was in second grade when a sixth grader started picking on him — knocking him to the ground and pushing him around. I told Kyle that he had my permission to defend himself and that’s exactly what he did.

Kyle had been enrolled in Karate class at the time and he used it only after being trapped against a fence on the school ground. He not only slugged the bully in the gut and face, he flipped the kid over his back and threatened to stomp on him if he got up.

Unfortunately, that’s all the teacher on duty saw and he wa immediately sent to the principal’s office and sent home. From there the principal decided he should have a few days off from school for his actions.

I disagreed.

The following Monday, I went to the principal’s office to discuss the situation with her. She told me over and over that the school had a none-violence policy that Kyle had violated.

I asked her to suspend, or whatever she called it, the other kid too then — but she refused.

Then I asked her if I might demonstrate for her the difference between fighting and defending one’s self. Much to my surprise she agreed.

The second her said yes though , I jumped on her desk and started kicking everything off of it and onto her. She eventually reached out and grabbed my leg to stop me.

I stopped at that moment and hopped down from her desk.

She was visibly shaking and cowered in the corner in her big leather chair. I calmly started picking stuff up off the floor and neatly placing it back on her now-bare desk.

“I think using your definition of violence, you need to be expelled,” I said to her, “after all you reached out and grabbed my leg to stop me from doing what I was doing.”

“No,” she replied, “I was defending myself!”

“My point exactly,” I returned.

Yeah, I could have been arrested for doing what I had done — but I did ask for her permission before I demonstrated my point. Kyle was allowed to return to school and she restored his clean record.

Long Time Del Norte Judge Dies

Former California state senator and Del Norte County Superior Court Judge Frank Petersen died May 23, 2011, in Fort Bragg from complications of a stroke. Petersen represented the 4th Senate District from 1962 to 1966 as a Democrat before being appointed by Gov. Edmund G. Brown as a judge for Del Norte.

Frank was born June 20, 1922, in a logging camp at the head waters of Alder Creek, Elk, Mendocino County, California. He attended Fort Bragg Elementary, Junior High, and High School, graduating in 1940. 

He served in the South Pacific for three years during World War II with the U.S. Navy Seabees. Following his honorable discharge in 1945, Frank returned to Fort Bragg and worked in the woods on the Crispin Ranch.

In the early 1950s, Frank practiced law, became the deputy district attorney and eventually the district attorney of Mendocino County.  In 1962, he was elected as state senator of the 4th District, which then included Lake and Mendocino counties, leaving office in 1966 when California’s Senate districts were redrawn.

Initially residents believed, that as a former Mendocino resident, he should have not been appointed to a judgeship in Del Norte county. Frank held the position for 22-years and went unopposed in every election following his appointment.

Twice I had to come before Judge Petersen for having done something wrong.  The first time in 1981, after throwing away $1200 from a restaurant I was working at as a bus-boy and dishwasher, the second in 1982 following the time Adam was knifed during a street brawl.

I can honestly say — Frank was fair in both situations and I always appreciated that.

Frank retired from Del Norte County’s Superior Court in 1988 and went into private practice in Crescent City. He also presided in courts all over Northern California as part of the Assigned Judges Program until 2009. 

He is survived by his wife, Marianne Petersen; children Gregory Petersen, Christine Petersen-Nave, Marcia Sanderson, Wanda Petersen-Alfven, Sandy Petersen-Miller, and Mary Petersen-Pool; brothers Kenneth Petersen, Robert Petersen, Allen Petersen and Richard Petersen; twenty grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Frank was 88.

In a Cloud of Dust

“We’re still twelve nautical miles out,” said the pilot, adding, “Besides with all that cloud cover, your probably couldn’t see a thing.”

The pilot was looking out the left side of the plane as spoke. So I looked too, hoping to catch a glimpse of the mountain turned volcano that hat been in the news for the past 30 days.

“Its ashame,” told myself.

The day had started early. I was up long before the sun, finishing the packing of my B-4 bag.

I hardly slept that night as I was getting ready to go on emergency leave.

Remembering back, I thought about the telephone call – the one where Dad said he had cancer and that he and Mom were separated and getting a divorce. It still left me sick to my stomach to think about these two things.

“Yeah, I’ve been sleeping in your old room,” Dad had told me.

“How long had that been going on?” I recalled thinking.

After driving through the base gates, I met Deanna at her home. She had a single bag to load jus’ like I did.

“Are you excited to be going home?” I asked.

“You bet,” she answered, “I hardly slept a wink last night.”

“Me either,” I returned.

We both laughed as I lifted her B-4 bag into the back of my Datsun station wagon. After climbing in behind the steering wheel, I started to pull away for the curb.

“Hold on!” Deanna suddenly said.

Stepping on the brakes, she jumped out of the car and disappeared through the front door of her home. In less than a minute, she was back in the car.

She smiled at me and said, “I thought I forgot to turn the stove off.”

“Oh,” was all I replied.

Within minutes we were at the airport, jus’ outside of Cheyenne. We quickly parked and grabbed our respective bags and rushed to report to the flight office. From there we were escorted to an awaiting C-130 Hercules.

“Ever been in one of these things?” I asked Deanna.

“No,” she answered.

“Good morning,” a voice from inside the aircraft said. It was the flight engineer, a Master Sergeant.

He point to the area where we would be sitting as he secured our luggage. I knew all to well that the red cargo net seating would not be all that comfortable during the long flight ahead.

“We won’t be getting into McChord until late,” the Master Sergeant said. Then he added, “We have to go to Luke first to drop off a Red Horse team then Mountain Home.”

At that moment the members of the U.S. Army’s crack engineering unit appeared. Each arrived with a green backpack and in formation. Again the flight engineer played host, welcoming them aboard the plane and securing their gear.

The last to be loaded was a mini-bulldozer. It was obvious at that point to me that the flight engineer was also a payload master as he carefully and precisely directed then secured the heavy machine in the planes hold.

After we had taken off and the nose of the aircraft was pointed in a southerly direction, I decided to get up and go into the cockpit. I told Deanna what I was doing and invited her along, as I got up and walked the few steps to the small ladder leading to the flight deck.

“No, thanks,” she replied.

“Howdy, Doc!” came a friendly voice.

It was a Major, who had jus’ been to my office and who had jus’ completed a flight physical. He offered me a hand and we shook.

Soon we landed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. That’s where the Red Horse team was off loaded onto a tarmac that was already unbearably hot.

Next we winged our way in a northerly direction, heading towards, Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. The weather was much cooler there and the wait was much longer.

The passenger list also increased by one as an Airman boarded the Washington bound plane. He introduced himself to me and then Deanna. The pair immediately hit it off as they started talking right away.

“I feel lucky getting this hop,” he told Deanna, “I jus’ spent the last 24-hours stuck in the terminal.”

Minutes later we were airborne.

“Hey, Doc, come forward, the Major wants to talk to you,” the Master Sergeant directed.

I climbed up the ladder leading to the flight deck.

“You were asking about seeing Mount Saint Helens, earlier,” the Major said.

“Yes, sir,” I responded.

“Unfortunately,” the Major commented, “The weather report says its overcast.”

“Damn,” I said aloud.

I sat there for a couple of minutes before deciding to return to my cargo-net seat. I was hoping that the weather report was wrong – but knew they very, rarely ever were.

Getting up, I leaned down and poked my head through the doorway. I was surprised to see Deanna kissing the Airman we had jus’ picked up from Mountain Home.

Having seen them kissing – I returned to the jump-seat and stared out the window at the mountains sliding by underneath us. I felt that terrible pang of jealousy thrust through my chest.

Time seemed to drag to a stand still as I sat there trying to think of anything but what I had jus’ witnessed. I did my best to console myself with the fact that Deanna and I weren’t an exclusive couple – so I had no reason to feel hurt.

Conversation slowly increased in the cabin with the main topic being the landing. I knew we were getting close to McChord Air Force Base, even thought I couldn’t see a thing.

“Hey, Major, I lost ground,” said the co-pilot.

“What?” responded the pilot.

He reached over and pulled his headphones from the hook that held them. Then he pulled them over his ears.

Meanwhile, the co-pilot continued to call out to ground control. It was obvious to me that no one was answering.

Since I was sitting in the jump-seat, I decided to put a pair of headphones on so I could listen in on what was happening. They had been setting on the flight engineers desk, unused.

I heard nothing but the continued hiss of static.

Suddenly the Major shouted, “What in the hell is that?!

I looked straight ahead to see what it was the pilot was so excited about. Ahead of us was the flat, feathery surface of the clouds as we skimmed over top of them.

At first that was all I could see. To me the clouds appeared featureless.

Then something caught my eyes. It was a dark cloud that seemed to boil up from the otherwise white surface.

I felt my pulse start to race as it pushed up higher and higher through the clouds.

“Put your visor on,” the Major directed the co-pilot.

“Do you think it’s a nuclear blast?” the co-pilot asked.

“I don’t know,” was the Major’s answer.

Suddenly, I felt a wave of nausea wash over me. I continued to look at the dark gray cloud as it mushroomed skyward above the cloudy ceiling.

For the next few of minutes, the pilot and co-pilot flew head long towards the dark mass. They spoke to each other only now, and only about the aircraft, flying and the gray mushroom-like cloud.

By this time the Master Sergeant has returned to the flight deck and had taken his seat. That left me standing on the flight deck jus’ in front of the doorway.

I didn’t want to return to my seat as I was afraid of what I might see.

Meanwhile the air was beginning to grow more turbulent with each passing minute. Suddenly the aircraft pitched hard to the left and then upward.

The movement slammed me into the wall then tossed me backwards. I struck my head on the door frame as I literally fell off the flight deck and down the ladder.

“Man, are you okay?” called out the Master Sergeant.

“Yeah,” I answered, “I think I’ll go get buckled in.”

“Are you sure you’re okay,” he asked me again.

I answered, “I’ll survive.”

By that time, I was busy strapping myself into one of the red cargo net seats. The aircraft bounced and shuttered violently in every direction.

Air sickness over took the Airman from Idaho. He vomited hard several times to his left.

Soon Deanna followed suit. She heaved between her legs.

Meanwhile I swallowed hard and gulped a large breath of air to keep from joining the pair. Over and over again I gagged and nearly threw up.

“I’ve had rough rides before,” I thought, “but never like this.”

Looking out the window, I could see nothing but gray clouds as they rushed over the aircraft. I was sick to my stomach from the turbulence and my head ached from where I had smashed it into the door frame.

I tried to concentrate on the sound of the aircraft’s engines as they seemed to be coughing repeatedly.

Then I grew vaguely aware of a new noise. It sounded more frightening than the coughing engines.

It was a loud scraping noise, followed by two huge thumping sounds. My fear ebbed as I recognized what they were.

“Hang on,” I shouted, “We’re landing!”

The three of us gripped the netting and held tightly as the Hercules made contact with the runway. The engines screamed and aircraft groaned as the brakes were applied. Within minutes the plane was taxiing to a stop.

The Master Sergeant climbed down the ladder and threw back the latch, opening the side door, then calmly announced, “Mount Saint Helens jus’ blew her top. Welcome to Washington.”

The three of us looked at one another in shock as Deanna asked, “Did we fly over it or something?”

“Jus’ about,” was his answer as we stepped out into the ash-filled air.

Dog and Donkey Show

The Israeli government is not happy with President Barack Obama after he suggested Israel return to pre-1967 borders. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the original border when Israel was only about eight miles wide, is indefensible considering today’s technologies.

Then while at the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee meeting in Washington, D.C., Netanyahu was joined by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

“The place where negotiating will happen must be at the negotiating table — and nowhere else,” Reid declared in his speech to AIPAC,  “Those negotiations will not happen — and their terms will not be set — through speeches, or in the streets, or in the media.”

Reid made clear he viewed it as unfair to ask Israel to return to its contours before the Six-Day War, when Israel conquered territory from Jordan, Egypt and Syria.

“A fair beginning to good-faith talks means that Israel cannot be asked to agree to confines that would compromise its own security,” Reid stated, “The parties that should lead these negotiations should be the parties at the center of this conflict – and no one else.”

The idea of Reid disagreeing openly with Obama is refreshing from witnessing his usual ass-kissing — but truth be told — we’ve seen this dog and donkey show before. Reid was trotted out there by the administration to contradict Obama so American Jews wouldn’t abandon the Democrat party.


As children we battle with our parents when they want us to take a nap. As adults we tend to relish the moments when we can lay down and take a short siesta.

Finally, as we grow older — approaching the elderly years — we discover a real need to get an extra half hour of sleep during the middle of our day when possible. But then there are nights and mornings anymore that no matter how hard we try — sleep simply evades us.

Aging and insomnia — its a real ugly bitch.