The New Price of Freedom

Officials have approved an alternative for NV Energy customers who don’t want the new smart meters. The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada says southern Nevada customers opting out can pay $98.75 to install an electric meter, plus $8.14 every month.

Northern Nevada customers opting out will pay a $107.66 upfront cost, plus an $8.04 monthly fee. Northern Nevadans can also opt out of a smart gas meter for a one-time fee of $6.08.

Some customers critical of the meters fear they might cause health hazards or invade their privacy. The alternative meters require someone to manually check the readings each month.

NV Energy has installed about 1.3 million smart meters, which can transmit meter-reading data directly from a home or business to the utility.


Silver Tailings: The Brother Grosh

Credit for the discovery of the Comstock Lode remains disputed. It is said to have been discovered, in 1857, by Ethan Allen Grosh and Hosea Ballou Grosh, sons of a Pennsylvania minister, trained mineralogists and veterans of the California gold fields.

The Grosh brothers occupied a shack along with a Canadian named Richard Bucke, and Henry Tompkins Paige Comstock, which the ledge is named after. It should be noted that some written histories report the Canadian’s name as only that of McLoud.

They made their way to Gold Canyon and searched for the claim that would make them rich. However the brothers were a bit different in their approach to mining.

From the testimony of many miners who knew them, they were men of much scientific attainments, being chemists, assayers and metallurgists. In addition to all this, they also had assaying equipment and a large library on mining.

Unlike most miners, who looked only for gold, Ethan and Hosea were also looking for silver. They found silver, a strike they described as the “monster ledge,” in the Silver City area, but did not live to develop their discovery.

There is no authentic record of any assay made by the Grosh brothers, but they had the necessary appliances for the work and must have made the assay, for in the fall of 1857 they told Comstock that they knew of rich silver mines in the vicinity, and were going back to Philadelphia to secure capital to work them.

Unfortunately, before this could happen, Hosea injured his foot by running a pick-ax through it and died of an infection in 1857.

Ethan wrote a letter home to their father where he fills in details such as the cup of peppermint tea he made before going to find a doctor, but forgot to set near his sick brother. He concluded that when he returned later that day, Hosea had died.

A couple of months later, to raise funds, Ethan, accompanied by Bucke, set out for California with samples and maps of his claim. Comstock was left in their stead to care for the Grosh cabin and a locked chest containing silver and gold ore samples and documents of the discovery.

Grosh and Bucke never completed the journey, getting lost and suffering frostbite while in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Ethan died on December 19, 1857, three days after being found by a group of hunter.

Bucke lived, but upon his recovery, he returned to his home in Canada.

During their ordeal, Bucke claims Ethan tied up his maps and tha assay sample in a piece of canvas and hid them in the hollow of a pine tree. He further stated a wind-storm had snapped the tree off at about 20 feet and that Allen cut a mark into it and rolled a “good-sized stone in front of the hollow.”

When Comstock learned of the death of the Grosh brothers, he claimed the cabin and the lands as his own. He also examined the contents of the trunk but thought nothing of the documents as he was not an educated man.

What he did know was the gold and the silver ore samples were from the same vein. He continued to seek diggings of local miners working in the area as he knew the Grosh brothers’ find was still unclaimed.

Upon learning of a strike on Gold Hill which uncovered some bluish rock, Comstock immediately filed for an unclaimed area directly next to this area. Legal efforts were considered by the Grosh family, but noted-attorney Benjamin F. Butler persuaded them to avoid it.

Accounts would tally the yield from the Comstock Lode at 9 million ounces of gold and 220 million ounces of silver.

Oscar Gensaw, Jr., 1959-2012

My heartaches as I read from the Del Norte Triplicate about the passing of my friend Oscar Gensaw. He and I grew up a year apart in Klamath, attending grade school and high school together.

He was born July 3, 1959, at Seaside Hospital in Crescent City, and passed away November 8, 2012. He was a lifelong resident of Del Norte County having graduated from Del Norte High School in 1977.

As kids, we didn’t always get along. One time he punched me in the face for picking on another kid as we rode home on the bus from Crescent City to Klamath.

Outside of stuff like that, I always thought he was a pretty-good guy. I saw into his soul one Spring day in 1975, when every kid from Klamath gathered to lay Robert Pasche to rest; Oscar was brave enough to allow everyone to see how emotionally distraught he was over his classmates death.

I had never seen any of my male classmates cry like that before.

Now, with Oscar’s passing, it’s hard not to think long and hard about my morality and if anyone will carry me to my resting place when that day arrives.

My heart continues to ache.

Nevada to Protect the Rights of Communists

Nevada has decided to repeal a state law that allows job discrimination against communists. A 12-member Legislative Commission agreed to introduce a bill at the 2013 session that would repeal a law passed in 1951 during the anti-communist fervor of the Cold War.

The law allows employers to reject job applications from communists and their sympathizers, and to fire any communists in their workforce. Staffers say the law has remained on the books, even though Congress repealed similar federal laws in 1971.

The law took effect as Communists were infiltrating all walks of American life, concerns that gained the national stage with hearings conducted by U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. Thousands of Americans, including entertainers, teachers, union activists and government employees were accused of being Communists or sympathizers.

Nevada’s U.S. Senator Patrick McCarran secured passage by Congress of a bill creating the federal Subversive Activities Control Board. The law required the registration of communist-front organizations with the U.S. attorney general, and paved the way for states to approve their own anti-communist laws.

No Nevada lawmakers who voted on the 61-year-old state law are alive today. It’s unknown whether the law has ever been enforced.

A Bear’s Rug

The Beaver’s moved into the old house at the end of the long dirt road as if overnight. The next day there were two more children in the neighborhood to play with.

Bridget and Brett Beaver were both blonde and slight in build. Bridget was the younger of the two and had difficulty breathing at times.She had her own personal tent to sleep in when her breath became noisy and quick.

For this reason Adam and I weren’t allowed to go inside the Beaver’s home. This seemed strange to us.

“We used to play in it all the time,” Adam said. “And that’s before anyone lived there.”

It was true. All of the kid’s that lived along the road that was Sander’s Court had played in the abandoned house. It was a castle one day and then a fort the next during a game of combat.

It had even been rumored to be haunted, but that was never proven.

Brett was always off in the woods with us boys, but Bridget usually stayed home so she could be near her breathing tent. Someday’s, she wouldn’t even leave the house to play at all.

About two-weeks after moving in, I decided to go around to the back of the house and visit with Bridget. I had convinced myself that she had to be pretty lonely with no one to talk to or play with all day.

Brett’s and Bridget’s room was in the lower southeast corner of the house. I quietly walked up to the window and peeked in.

I could see Bridget, with her head and chest inside the clear plastic tent, was asleep so I decided it was best not to disturb her.

Slowly, I backed away from the window — but that’s when I heard a small noise behind me. I spun around expecting John Paul Arnold or Chucky Yates to be there, ready to jump on top of me or something.

Instead, I found myself standing face to face with a black bear less than ten-feet away. I froze in my footsteps and sucking in my breath as I tried to think what to do next.

My mind reeled at what to do. My instinct said to run away as fast as I could.

Yet, I recalled what Dad had said to do if I ever ran into a bear, “The best thing to do is play dead.”

“Maw,” cried the bear as it pushed itself from standing on all fours to standing upright.

The blood drain from my face as I pitched myself face down into the dirt and leaves. I laid stone still and feared to even allow a breath to escape my lips, fearful the animal would realize I wasn’t really dead.

I could feel its cold, wet nose press against my clammy skin and the warm, misty breathes as the bear snuffed and smelled me.

Then it stepped over me. I tensed, fearing the worst, however instead of being bitten, the beast dropped his weight down on me.

It rolled over and over on me, yet I did not dare move. Instead I pressed my face into the earth to stifle the grunts I let out as the bear forced his heft against my smaller body.

“Maw!” came the bear again and again as he continued to roll over me. Then the animal grew still.

The bear had laid his entire body completely atop me and breathed deeply as if resting. I still refused to move.

I knew I dared not even twitch a muscle, for the bear couldn’t be allowed to know I was alive.

“Someone will come along and find me,” I remember thinking — or perhaps it was a prayer.

Then I felt a sense of panic wash over me as I heard voices coming nearer. They were coming from up above me, along the Old Ranger Road, which was jus’ a few feet away from where I lay under the now slumbering bear.

Yet I couldn’t shout or even whisper for help, afraid I wake the beast. And the result could end in something worse than being a rug for bear.

The underbrush moved. It was all that I could see, with my face pushed into the dirt. Then I saw a pair of black and white high-top sneakers appear from the bushes.

It was Brett. Once he saw what was happening, he yelled, “Yogi!”

With that the bear jerked with a start and rolled from me. I jumped to my feet and then fell down, then got back up, as my legs had grown numb after laying still for so long.

“Run,” I screamed at Brett as I raced around the corner of the house.

But Brett didn’t follow. Instead I discovered the boy hugging and scratching the bear neck and shoulders.

It was at that moment, I realized the bear was a pet. I sheepishly approached and asked Brett if I could also scratch the black bear who had made me into a human rug for a day.

Reid Interupted

It was the day after President Ronald Reagan ordered a strike against Libyan Dictator Muammar Gaddafi. I was working for KROI/KPLY in Sparks at a remote for a home and garden show inside the Conventions Center.

I was accompanied by the station’s program director.

As I was prepping to do another sixty-second cut-in on the air, I saw Harry Reid approaching our booth. He had not yet been elected to the U.S. Senate and was out and about shaking hands and kissing babies.

My topic suddenly took a turn from the home and garden show to the attack on the Libyan leader. He passed in front of our booth jus’ as the announcer on the air introduced me.

I didn’t hesitate, announcing I had the pleasure of talking with Mr. Reid, candidate for U.S. Senate.

The future senator didn’t hesitate to start talking to me about his candidacy. I let him talk for a half a minute, and then I asked him about the missile strike.

He started answering the question, but we were interrupted by the program director. He grabbed the microphone from me, introduced himself and sent me back to the booth.

He took over the interview I had started. He later the program director chewed on me for having asked Harry Reid such a question.

Later I found out he had asked several questions along the same line of the senatorial candidate. Needless to say my ego was severely bruised after he took the mic from me.

Forward Operating Base Nine

“Merry Christmas, Doc!” the gunnery sergeant barked as he spooned a heap of dressing on my tray.

“Same to you, Guns,” I replied half-heartedly.

Setting my tray at a the stand-up table where a few other Marines were wolfing down their Christmas Eve fare in the makeshift mess hall, I stared at my food not certain if I were really hungry or not. I pushed the two slices of turkey and re-hydrated green beans about my plate as my mind wandered.

Looking around at the decorations the cooks had put up, made the huge tent seem like a stateside Christmas. They’d spared no effort in preparing the meal, plus some of the officers and senior NCOs tried to lift spirits by manning the serving line.

But it wasn’t working — at least not on me.

Emptying my tray, I stepped outdoors. I walked around the base, eventually ambled toward the Enlisted Men’s Club.

The smell of beer turned my stomach, so I decided to have a soda instead. I sat at the end of the bar, and as I sipped my drink, I knew inside what was really bugging me.

In a flash of inspiration, I decided to call my mother.

Maybe talking to Mom would lift my spirits, and I needed to tell her and my sister’s Merry Christmas anyway. Amazingly, I found just a few Marines at the phone exchange.

The operator was able to patch me through to my mother’s home in Fortuna. This in itself was remarkable, since often it took longer. Even though it was early in the morning, Mom sounded excited when she answered the phone.

By the time I hung up the phone, I could feel the burning of the tears as they rolled down my face. Then I noticed the Christmas music playing over the tinny squawk-box as I veered toward the chapel.

Sitting alone under the chapel fly with its benches and an altar, I looked at the Bible in the pew. I remembered how the chaplain said reading it would help build me up for the storms of life that were sure to come.

Having read some of the New Testament they gave all recruits at the induction station, I recalled many of the passages caused me to see things I didn’t like in myself. Yet I remembered the verse in the Book of Matthew about personal troubles.

Here, now, it felt as if Christ were standing beside me, saying, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

I felt for the first time in months the heaviness in my heart evaporate as I repeated the quote.

Then without warning, it was as if someone had smashed a hardball against my helmet. The blow sent me sprawling to the ground, where I found myself struggling to get back up.

Chaos was everywhere, as some Marines dove for cover and still others moved into fighting positions. The base erupted with gunfire; all of it out going and concentrated in one area.

Slowly I got to my feet and looked around, my ears weren’t ringing like they had been a few seconds ago. And I expected my head to hurt, but I didn’t feel dizzy anymore.

“Holy shit!” I exclaimed as the Gunny came rushing past me and towards the body of a man lying dead near where I had sat.

“Hell,” I said aloud, “I didn’t even know there was anybody there.”

“Corpsman up!” someone yelled, while others shouted, “Doc!” repeatedly.

Guys were looking all around for Doc even though I was standing right there. It left me confused

Then Guns rolled the dead Marine over onto his back, and someone said in disbelief, “Crap, it is Doc.”

I look around me, thinking, “No, it can’t be. I’m right here.”

Then from someplace behind me, I felt more than saw a faint glow. As I slowly turned to see what it was, it grew brighter, until I could no longer see anything but the light.

“Doc, you’ve been reassigned,” a voice called out to me, “We require your presence at Forward Operating Base Nine.”

I looked back at the body still lying on the ground and knew then what was happening.