Sunday, June 29, 2008

I See Blue in the Sky... But....

The sky is almost blue when I look straight up this morning. The key word there is "almost". Yesterday in the early evening I could actually see a couple fluffy little clouds in the sky above. But there's still an overall gray/brown cast to everything. The bad news is that there are even more fires. The number of fires burning as of 9:00pm last night has risen to 1,395 now. Here's the news according to the CalFire website:
Current Situation: State, local and federal firefighters continue to battle hundreds of wildfires throughout California. Fires are actively burning and continue to spread. Firefighters are prepared for the potential of new fires due to the predicted dry thunderstorm activity through the weekend, with reported numerous lightning downstrikes throughout Siskiyou County and Southern Oregon. The priority of firefighting is for the protection of life, property and natural resources.
Download the latest fact sheet.
Fire Statistics
Total Fires: 1,345
Total Acres Burned: 333,858

Resources Committed:
  • Personnel Committed: 18,039
  • Fire Engines: 1,356
  • Hand Crews: 466
  • Dozers: 310
  • Water Tenders: 368
  • Helicopters: 92
(These numbers are totals from state, local and federal firefighting agencies. Updated 6/28 at 9:00 p.m.)
I visited the website that has the satellite photos of the smoke (and other phenomena that can be seen from space... The site is called Modis Rapid Response System and I've linked to the image gallery portion of the website.

It's fascinating to look through the satellite images in that gallery. One of the images is a view of fires in Southeastern Russia!


We've had a couple days of "mild" weather so the firefighters have been able to get a handle on some of the fires, but the weather forecast is for a bit more wind, and more thunderstorms in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Which is bad news. The increasing winds will make it harder for the crews to contain the fires and more thunderstorms mean the possibility of more fires. One of the headlines I read this morning in the Sacramento Bee said "Fire season may get worse". I think that's an understatement. There's no "may" about it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

More Fires, But a Little Less Smoke

The DC-10 tanker above is dropping a load of fire retardant on the fire near Green Valley, CA. Which is near Fairfield, CA and that is South and West of where I am. With the direction the "wind" is blowing, alot of what I'm seeing in the sky today is probably from there. Sunrise this morning wasn't as ugly as it has been for the last few days. We have a slightly clearer view of the sky. It's still not blue, but it has a little less "brown" to it. According to the CalFire website, the number of fires has risen.
Current Situation: State and Federal firefighters continue to battle hundreds of wildfires throughout Northern California and are preparing for light to moderate dry thunderstorm activity beginning tonight through the weekend. Fires are activity burning and continuing to spread. New fires are being identified on a regular basis. Priority of firefighting effort is for the protection of life, property and natural resources.

Total Fires: 1,211
Acres: 193,470
Contained Fires: 266
Personnel Committed: 11,322
Resources Committed:
  • Fire Engines: 458
  • Hand Crews: 225
  • Dozers: 224
  • Water Tenders: 278
  • Helicopters: 68
  • Air Tankers: 14
(These numbers are totals from state, local and federal firefighting agencies. Updated 6/27 at 9:00 a.m.)
1,211 fires! Yesterday's tally for the fires was 1,088.... They were (and are!) predicting more thunderstorms, so I'm guessing that some of the new fires were started by more dry lightning strikes. Here's a link to this morning's fire map that was updated at 8:00AM this morning. (It's a pdf file, so it will take a few moments to load.)

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called on President George W. Bush to declare a federal emergency in the state on Friday, as more than 1,000 wildfires continued to burn.

In a statement, Schwarzenegger said he had written to Bush to request the declaration, which would make federal resources available to firefighters who have been stretched to capacity by the sheer number of fires.

Schwarzenegger said the fires were "of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state," stating that "federal assistance is necessary to save lives."

The firefighters need whatever help they can get. Those men and women out on the fire lines have been working nearly non-stop for the last month now. I hope Bush gives the state what the Governor has asked for. We also need some better weather. Fewer thunder storms, maybe some rain....

The California Fire News blog has an entry up this morning about the Red Flag and Fire Weather warnings that have been issued. It's pretty scary reading through the list. Predictions of bad air due to smoke, more thunder storms... It's bad. And I have a hunch it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Quick Update on Rex Archer

The Appeal Democrat has a "Breaking News" article about the status of Rex Archer's case this morning. Posted at 9:37AM, it states that after watching the taped interviews with the victims in the case, Archer will be held to answer for the charges.

From the article:
Yuba County Superior Court Judge James L. Curry scheduled an arraignment hearing at 9 a.m. July 14 for Archer, who is accused of molesting female foster children under 10 who are not related to Archer.
So, July 14th (or shortly thereafter) is the next date to watch for.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Too Many Fires and Too Much Smoke

The smoke in the air seems to get worse and worse every day. But, there's a good reason for it. The latest count on the number of fires burning in California is up to 1088 now. Summertime in the mountains mean thunder storms. And with the shortage of rainfall the last year or so, that means more fires started by dry lightning strikes. Look at the image below. Click on it and enlarge it. All the red "dots" are active fires. That white/gray stuff you see over land isn't clouds. It's smoke. The white you see offshore is the coastal fog/marine layer.

I've borrowed the image from the Sacramento Bee... Here is the description for the satellite image:
This photo, supplied by NASA, is an Aqua satellite view of the smoke drifting from the wildfires, denoted by red dots, raging Wednesday evening, June 25, 2008, in Northern California. Hundreds of firefighters worked Thursday to protect the scenic community of Big Sur from a lightning-sparked wildfire that inched closer to historic structures after burning 16 homes and threatening another 500 houses. The white area in lower left are clouds.
Even San Francisco is suffering from all of the smoke. Just take a look at the skyline shot below (also "borrowed" from the Sacramento Bee article.) It's not often you see the skyline of the city so obscured by anything other than fog.



The Calfire Wildland Fire information page lists all the fires. It also has information about the current conditions that the firefighters are dealing with. And they are predicting more lightning.
Current Situation: State and Federal firefighters continue to battle hundreds of wildfires throughout Northern California and are preparing for light to moderate dry thunderstorm activity beginning tonight through the weekend. Fires are activity burning and continuing to spread. New fires are being identified on a regular basis. Priority of firefighting effort is for the protection of life, property and natural resources.

Total Fires: 1,088
Acres: 158,818
Contained Fires: 241
Personnel Committed: 12,512
Resources Committed:
  • Fire Engines: 933
  • Hand Crews: 288
  • Dozers: 262
  • Water Tenders: 330
  • Helicopters: 68
  • Air Tankers: 14
I've watched what the fire service has to deal with for many years. I can't remember another fire season like this one. It's scary. I feel so sorry for all those men and women out on the fire lines fighting these fires. I remember what my husband was like when he came home from a big fire. Drained, exhausted and incredibly dirty. He would be torn between taking a shower and falling on the bed to sleep. And it's still just June. "Fire Season" normally runs until November. 5 more months more or less. These people are true heroes in my opinion. They are doing the best they can to save lives and protect property. Heroes. Yep... Definitely heroes.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Smoky Sunset

Yesterday evening we saw a very smoky sunset. This was taken about an hour before the sun actually set, but you can certainly see how much smoke was in the air to the West of where I live. The sun was a bright, vivid red. To the east it wasn't a whole lot better, the smoke was a bit less obvious, more of a smear across the sky, not like what we saw to the West. I can only guess that the smoke to the west was coming from the fires down towards Napa. The photo was taken from my front yard, looking across the street towards my daughter's home.
Today, the sky doesn't have any big billowing smoke plumes. It's just an overall tan color and the sunshine has an orange cast to it. It's still warm today, but not terribly hot, thank heavens.

As for the fires, there are still a lot of them from the lightning the other day. I'm going to copy/paste what it says from the CalFire incident page.
Summary of Fires by Unit

Siskiyou Unit: All 8 fires have been contained for a total of 10 acres.

Humboldt-Del Norte Unit: 50+ fires for more than 900 acres, with 4 new fires today. The Paradise Fire is Northeast of Shelter Cove and is 600 acres and 5% contained, The Redcrest Fire is 30 acres, the High Fire is in Humboldt Redwood State Park with unknown acreage or containment, the Carson Fire is 40 acres and 50% contained, the Hansen Fire is 2 acres with unknown containment, the Williams Fire is 25 acres and 50% contained, In the BLM Headwaters Forest there are three additional small fires buring.

Mendicino Unit: 90 fires have been reported for a total of more than 7,625 acres. The Orr Fire is 200 acres and has evacuations of the Orr Springs Resort and 50 homes in the area, the Navarro Fire is 1,400 acres and 5% contained, the Cherry fire is 50 acres and 50% contained, the Foster Fire is 50 acres and 50% contained, the Table Mtn. Fire is 1,000 acres and 5% contained, the Mallo Pass Fire is 800 acres, and the Juan Creek fires (2) are at 100 acres each. There are 8 additional fires at 30 acres each.

San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit: 15 fires have been reported. The Quarry Fire is located near the base of San Bruno Mountain is 300 acres and 85% contained. Click Whitehurst/Hummingbird Incident for more information on these fires.

Amador-El Dorado Unit: All fires for a total of 80 acres have been contained.

Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit: 7 fires reported. The fire of concern is the Mosquito Fire which is holding at 75 acres.

Butte Unit: 24 fires for a total of more than 1,397 acres. The Rim Fire has burned 50 acres with unknown containment. Butte County Sheriff’s department is effecting a Precautionary Evacuation Advisory for the Lake Concow Area for a lighting fire in excess of 100 acres burning off of Rim Rd. (Also referred to as Andy Mountain Rd.) in the Concow area. The American Red Cross is setting up an evacuation shelter at the Spring Valley School at 2771 Pentz Rd. off of Hwy 70. There are four road closures in effect: Concow Rd. from Yellow Wood Rd. north to the end of the pavement on Concow Rd, Concow Rd. from Nelson Bar to end of pavement, Rim Rd. (also known as Andy Mtn. Rd) from Hwy 70 to end of Rim Rd., Deadwood from Hwy 70 to Concow Rd.

Tehama-Glen Unit: Over 36 fires for a total of 2,146 acres.

Shasta-Trinity Unit: Over 130 fires for a total of 5,000 acres. Shasta-Trinity Unit Information (530) 225-2510

Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit: 6 fires with 4 contained. Two fires for a total of 7,250 acres. Over 300 homes threatened. The Wild Fire is burning near Napa West of Fairfield. Click on Wild Fire Incident for more information.

Lassen-Modoc Unit: 45 total fires for 500+ acres

Tuolumne-Calavares Unit: 16 fires for a total of 140 acres. Currently the counties of Tuolumne and Calaveras are experiencing heavy smoke in low lying areas due to fires caused by heavy lightning activity yesterday.

Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit: 15 fires reported
The Cunningham Complex (5 fires total) are burning 3,150 acres total, the Stumpfield Fire is burning 2 acres, the Indian Peak Fire is burning 60 acres, and the Oliver Fire is burning in the Sequoia National Forest. The Sequoia National Forest has reported 25 fires.
It's an unbelievable amount of fires that the firefighters are trying to cover, isn't it? I read in one article that the National Guard has also been called out to assist. Too many fires and not enough resources to fight the hundreds of fires that are burning all over the state. The fellow over at California Fire News has a link to a map of all of the fire incidents that are going right now. (The map is a pdf file so it may take a few moments to load.)

The Indians Fire is also still burning more acreage. It's only 58% contained still and it's burned close to 58,000 acres. The Indians Fire has been burning for two weeks now! (I can't get my normal links for the Indians Fire to load today... Server problems? Bandwidth? I don't know. So the link goes to a page that was updated yesterday.)

I am wishing for some cooler, wetter weather to help the firefighters out... How about sending some good wishes for that towards California, folks?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More Fires, Weather and Everything Else.

Wow.. It's been a week since my brother or I posted. This week has been so hot that I just haven't sat in here at my computer a whole lot. And when I have been at the computer, I'm semi brain dead! lol... No, not really. I got sidetracked a bit watching some of the Neil Entwistle trial among other things.

First of all I'll start the "news" with an article in the Appeal Democrat (the local newspaper) about Rex Archer. The preliminary hearing for the case was supposed to have happened last Wednesday the 18th, but was postponed again at the request of the defense attorney. The new hearing is supposed to happen this coming Wednesday, June 26th now. We shall see, I guess.

I got a bit of information about Mario Lozano's location from a couple of sources. He was apparently transferred from the El Dorado County Jail to Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI) at Tracy. My sources tell me he could be there anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on how long his processing takes. They'll be looking at his entire history; medical, psychological, criminal, his life and everything about him before deciding where to house him next. Kacie's family and friend as well as the other people this man victimized are hopefully resting much easier knowing that Mario is secure in the hands of the California Corrections Department.

As for the fires I had been following and reporting on, most of them have been 100% contained or extinguished. (Thank goodness!) The Humbolt Fire near Chico, the Whiskey Fire and the Martin Fire are all at 100% contained. The problem the firefighters are having today though are hundreds of new fire starts as result of dry lightning strikes all over the state yesterday. With manpower stretched over all of the fires, it's going to be a mess to clean up! California Fire News had a couple of images up that showed the dry lightning strikes yesterday. Very scary..

The Indians fire is still very active though. It's 59% contained and has burned over 53,000 acres. Fort Hunter Liggett is still somewhat "safe" as the fire is burning more towards the North and East. The fire did manage to get onto the Fort's territory some before turning back on itself and going to the North again. They have determined that the cause of the fire was an "escaped campfire". The Inciweb site has no estimation of control or containment yet.

A new fire, the Wild Fire near Napa is causing evacuations and a lot of fear today. They've lost 1 home so far and over 100 more are threatened. The fire is only 10% contained as of 8am this morning and the acreage scorched is over 1000 acres.

I'm not going to list all of the fires that are going on. There are just too many. If you click on this link to the CalFire Current Incidents page, you'll see what I mean. Or just click on this link to CalFire's Northern California Lightning Series Summary you'll see even more. Between the hot dry weather here in the West, the floods in the Midwest and other "weather events" around the world, the news media is going to be very busy reporting on disasters this summer, I think.

As for me right now, I'm going to go fix some iced tea and perhaps turn my air conditioner on. It's not even 11am and it's getting uncomfortably warm in the house.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

MAY 16,2008, The People vs Mario Lozano. Transcript of Report and Sentencing.

May 16, 2008. El Dorado Co. Superior Court. People vs. Mario Lozano.
Case # P06CRF0427. Report and Sentencing.

This is a copy of the transcript I purchased. I will copy it in the format I received it in. It does not have the times as I included when I was “reporting” and I will keep my comments and corrections in italics.

THE COURT: (Judge Keller) Good afternoon. This is the matter of the people of the State of California versus Mario Lozano. This is Case P06CRF0427. And this is the time and place for sentencing. And counsel are ready. I see Mr. Atwell is here on behalf of Mr. Lozano. The District Attorney is represented by counsel (Gomes) this morning. And is there any legal cause why judgment should not now be imposed?
MR. ATWELL: No your honor, there is not.
MR. GOMES: No, your honor.
THE COURT: The Court has read and considered the probation report that was filed on May 7th, 2008, consisting of seven pages.
Has everyone had the time and opportunity to read that probation report?
MR. ATWELL: Yes, Your Honor.
MR. GOMES: I have, Your Honor
THE COURT: Have there been any statements in mitigation or aggravation filed? I didn’t see any with the report.
MR. ATWELL: No, Your Honor, no statements that I am aware of.
Mr. Lozano has asked that he be allowed to address the Court, however.
THE COURT: All right.
MR. GOMES: There are three individuals, family members of the victim that also would like to address the Court at the appropriate time.
THE COURT: All right. We’ll do that.
The Court intends to follow the report and recommendation and finds it is without power either to grant or deny probation or suspend imposition of sentencing by reason of rule 4.413(a), statutory provisions prohibit a grant of probation pursuant to PC 190(a), and the jury found that the defendant was guilty of murder in the first degree.
Mr. Atwell first. Do you wish to be heard concerning the sentence?
MR. ATWELL: No, Your Honor. We’ll submit to the matter.
THE COURT: Okay. Mr. Gomes.
MR. GOMES: The People are prepared to submit to the matter as well.
THE COURT: All right. And you indicated that there were three individuals that wanted to speak on behalf of the family; is that correct?
MR. GOMES: There are.
I will let you guys decide the order and grab the podium for you guys.
(Pat Barron steps up to the podium first.)
THE COURT: Yes, sir, your name.
MR. PAT BARRON: My name is Pat Barron. I’m Kacie’s older brother.
Thanks for this opportunity to do this right now.
I wrote a letter, something, (at first) but I kind of put it together in a little presentation.
My sister Kacie was four years younger than me. This is my sister as I know her. (Indicating.) (Pat shows each picture to the court and turns around and shows it to us.) She is in second grade right here.
(Then he steps from the podium to behind Mr. Atwell and reaches the picture in front of Mario’s face.)
THE COURT: Mr. Barron. Mr. Barron, stay back by the podium, if you would.
MR. BARRON: All right. I am doing my best here.
This is another picture of myself, my brother Johnner, and my sister. We’re at a funeral.
Here’s another one (Indicating.) at my wedding with the wife that my sister introduced me to, my brother, my sister. I don’t know why my wife isn’t in this picture. She took it, maybe. And my mother is in this picture.
This is a family barbeque, my wife, my mother, my brother, my nephew Nick, my brother’s, lady, and my sister, you know, doing family things.
This is my sister being a mom at her son’s graduation.
And when he was a small - - young man, young boy.
Kacie was a very good mom.
This here is a picture of the last barbeque we had, my nephew’s birthday. You see me, you see my brother, and you see Nick, my sister’s son.
There’s something wrong with this picture. There’s something wrong with this picture.
I am no poet, I am no author. So what comes out of here is what you get.
I’ve already told you guys I’m Kacie’s older brother. What am I to say To the Court about a killer that took my little sister’s life?
I feel empty. I am full of rage.
I don’t know how I stayed in my seat during this trial with the guilt, the fear. The helplessness has been absolutely dreadful beyond description. (More than once Pat exercised control over his temper by getting up and walking out of the courtroom.)
This person that sits here before us today, as far as I’m concerned, does not even have an identity.
I refer to him as: The killer.
He is a sick puppy and deserves to never see the light of day .
He murdered my little sister, Kacie.
She did not deserve to be robbed of her life. She was only 40 years young. She’s gone forever.
I cannot even imagine the sick demented thoughts that went through this killer’s head at the time he shot Kacie to death.
The testimony of this killer was riddled with confusion and lies. My only help was to sit through this God-awful trial and make some sense of what happened that day.
I feel that I will never know the complete truth.
For nearly two years waiting for this day, my life has been at a standstill. I felt as if I could not move forward.
My only saving grace is the fact that when this killer hears the clang of those prison gates behind him that what he has don’t to Kacie, myself, and my family, I hope will torment him daily as it has me.
I hope that prison is everything they say and more.
Stuff him in the cell, throw away the key.
I love my sister Kacie, and I miss her.
P.S. In prison I hope you find the love that you have been looking for.
THE COURT: Thank you, Mr. Barron.
MR. PAT BARRON: Thank you.
THE COURT: Good afternoon, ma’am. And your name?
MS. SHARON BARRON: My name is Sharon Barron. I am Kacie’s sister-in-law. Pat’s wife.
Thank you for this opportunity.
Kacie was taken from our family and community July 26, 2006. Kacie was a mother, a daughter, a sister, and an aunt, a cousin, a sister-in-law, and a friend.
The family and friends will never be the same without Kacie, and I worry about Nick, her son who found her, and the impact of the scene that will forever be etched in his mind.
From all the things that he will miss without his mom being there. She didn’t get to celebrate Nick’s twenty-first birthday, the day when he gets married, or when he has a baby. She won’t be there.
All the things that will happen in his life, he can’t share with his mom anymore. Kacie loved babies. She loved her nephew Ian and she didn’t get to even see her newborn niece Ella before she died.
She loved to raise a garden, and she had a big one growing when she died.
Do you know how hard it is to water the garden knowing Kacie couldn’t enjoy it anymore?
It upset me so bad taking the veggies that she had been so happy to grow. It just wasn’t right, although I know that she would have wanted us to enjoy what she loved doing.
Kacie loved to ride motorcycles. When my Pat—when Pat, my husband, her brother, bought his new Harley, he stopped by to give her a ride. And that was the last time he ever saw her alive.
She would brag to her friends about the bikes that Pat had, and if they needed a part for it, Pat probably had it. She loved her brother, always bragged. Then I think she went to every performance that her brother Johnner’s band played in.
She took pictures and showed them of to everyone. She was really becoming quite the photographer.
I know Kacie dearly loved her son Nick and her brothers and little nephew.
I don’t know what to call the murderer. I do not believe that he deserves a name, and it makes me ill to think about him ever having a name.
He not only took Kacie’s life, he also took part of our life, and she was an important part of our family and a friend to many.
Why couldn’t he have dealt with rejection like a man and just left Kacie and be on your way?
Instead, you decided to take her life.
You said it was an accident. You lie. You deliberately did this heinous murder with the gall to steal her credit cards, handguns, and her car. What a total lowlife.
In your confession you had the audacity to tell lieutenant Nida that you loved Kacie.
Prison time is not good enough for the premeditated and malicious murder of Kacie. You deserve to die.
You are a murderer, a liar, a thief. And why should you live?
The only hope I have with you being in prison is that you will think about what you did every day and I hope you burn in hell.
The only thing we want is to have Kacie back with us. But that’s not possible, is it?
Thank you, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Thank you, Ms. Barron.
Good afternoon, sir. Your name?
CHAPLAIN GENE JOHNSON: I’m Gene Johnson.
I have known Kacie and her family for over 25 years. When I started dating Kacie in May of 2004, she told me then that Mario had been making advances towards her and she wasn’t interested in responding to him at that time.
She shared a couple things with me about his actions at that time that I thought were pretty immature, pretty infantile and selfish.
(He left notes around her office saying things like “Queen Bitch” and helped himself to an unopened bottle of wine without asking or even telling her that he drank it.)
Sometime around 2005, Mario borrowed and crashed Kacie’s car without bothering to mention he didn’t have a valid license at the time until he was on the phone with her after the collision.
He couldn’t make—she couldn’t make an insurance claim because of that. She didn’t want to get him in trouble at that time.
He told her someone else had been hit also, and he left the scene when he heard that the sheriffs were going to come.
Mario promised to fix her car but never did anything about it.
So after several months she talked to me about helping her to fix it. So that’s been completed, unfortunately after she’s gone.
I still don’t understand how a hit-and-run driver could swipe the passenger side of her car.
Kacie and I dated for about five or six months, and I('d) drive up from Colusa almost every weekend to spend time with her.
I really thought she was a strong individual. She didn’t need to be maintained. She was resourceful and she wouldn’t bat an eye at going out of her way to help someone truly in need. She had serious back injuries but refused to be disabled.
I loved her and wanted her to be my companion.
But when I even mentioned marriage, she wasn’t going to even consider that, and I wasn’t going to settle with just living together. So when things weren’t going that way, I was able to step back and I wanted to continue enjoying the friendship that she was able to give.
I still enjoyed coming up occasionally and helping her with her projects, whether it was working on the house, the garden, cars, appliances or computer, whatever, or her trailer, or whether it was helping her to help someone else.
I visited her, I can’t remember if it was the weekend or two weekends before she died and refilling (refilled) cartridges for her printer(s).
(She was working in her garden and I brought the cartridges and refill kit out to the garden to be able to visit while we were working.)
I don’t think Mario could even appreciate Kacie’s strength and character.
It probably bothered him that she had a life and opinions of her own and that she wouldn’t respond obediently to his desires or his demands.
I have met so many people that were rescued from abusive relationships by Kacie, some when they were children and some when they were adults.
The person—I will leave that out.
But she would not hesitate to put herself in harm’s way to give her friends a safe haven and time to think. She helped several escape dangerous relationships. She literally saved a lot of lives just because it was the right thing to do and that’s where her heart was.
So how the hell did she end up with Mario in her life?
To end her life because she pissed him off?
He had to selfishly hang around and forced her to have to stay at other friends’ houses waiting for him to leave. And he just wouldn’t leave without his bags. So he got Nick’s shotgun and was going to show her, huh?
It doesn’t matter whether Mario turned off the safety or even chambered the first round, he should have just left.(!)
Even if the first shot was an accident, he should have just left.(!)
(The first shot wouldn’t have even happened if he had just left!)
So after she was hit with the first shot, he had to kill her so she wouldn’t suffer?
He had been making her life hell long before he even argued with her that day. She was already suffering because of him.(!)
Mario’s lack of self-control, his inability to control his anger and just walk away cost Kacie her life and tore up more lives than he can imagine. He ripped off the world.
At first I was a bit disappointed that the death penalty was not an option for this trial. But then I realized that death would probably be the kindest sentence for him. It would allow him an escape from the memory of what he’s done to Kacie and her family, an escape that Kacie’s family and friends can’t have.
But I strongly feel that if Mario lived 60 years without learning to control his temper, he would just be a time bomb if he was ever to be paroled and allowed the possibility to use it and destroy more lives.
THE COURT: Thank you, Mr. Johnson.
Is there anyone else who wishes to make any comments?
Mr. Atwell, you indicated Mr. Lozano wanted to make a statement?
MR. ATWELL: Your Honor, could I have one of his hands released here so he can handle his paper?
THE COURT: Yes, go ahead.
THE DEFENDANT: (Mario Lozano.) Thank you, Your Honor.
Your Honor, you do not have before you a stack of files, chronically innumerable papers by any other person in the 60 years prior to my arrest in August of 2006. No rap sheet has ever been compiled detailing arrests and convictions for crimes of any kind, other than my period of incarceration, no parole or probation, no pages of fines or orders for restitution. I have no history of drug or alcohol abuse, nor of any related problems such as DUI, public drunkenness, property damage. I have no record of weapons discharged or even of weapons purchased.
I have no guns—no weapons registered to me because I have never owned any.
I have no record of domestic violence, moral turpitude, or crimes against nature.
I do not have a history of failed business enterprises one after the next, no bad dealings with buyers, no contracting license law violations, no insurance scams, no price fixing, no bribery charges, no tax evasion charges.
I had top secret security clearance while in the military, so you may correctly assume that nothing lurks in my juvenile record as well.
We know all of this is true because the prosecution has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, if not intentionally, then, by it’s failure to introduce evidence to the contrary.
Throughout the trial the prosecution’s table was festooned with all manner of electronic gimcrackeries. So we can be certain that they scoured every corner of my life, attempting to bolster their case. No doubt exists in my mind that any negative evidence that could be dredged up by the prosecution would have landed in this courtroom with the same melodrama hit with a thud when any (my) bags hit the floor in front of the witness stand.
Your Honor, my main goal in life has been the pursuit of happiness. I have cleaved this best by staying to the happiness of others, my family first and foremost.
I have been blessed with two fine sons who are the light of my life, both of whom are a credit to the state of Hawaii to the branches of military in which they both have served respectively, and who are now going on to raise their own families.
(About here I am looking at others in the audience getting looks like “what the hell has this got to do with you killing Kacie!”)
I have derived no amount of satisfaction from my chosen profession. For 22 years I worked for a company that built custom homes ranging in size from 10 to 50,000 square feet or more, most multi-million dollar home(s) for very wealthy people, people who you have maybe seen on television or movies, or whatever. The type of work that requires a high degree of proficiency of very demanding clients who do not suffer fools gladly and for whom money is no object.
I have—I obtained my license in 1990 and that will—my client is rarified as is my former employers. What I learned in all that time has made it possible for me to operate strictly on a referral basis. I worked around the world as the need arose to various cities. All of this has made for a very nice life in a place everyone refers to as paradise.
(Again… what??? And, so what!!!)
It has made it possible for me to sail my own boat to 17 different islands in the Central and South Pacific. And if you look at my past through the files, you will find that I have traveled to over 30 countries, family vacations, most of them.
My life has been a gift that at one point several years ago I felt compelled to do more than merely pay taxes and donate my money to this, that, or the other charity, so I became involved with building homes for people less fortunate than I.
And more recently have begun to donate time in a hospice for the terminally ill down the hill from my house. The gratitude expressed by those for whom we built homes and by those for whom a little time is more than most people can afford, more than made up for my money I did earn working for myself.
And that is the spirit in which I came to help my friend, my intention, based on what she had told me, were to finished getting her moved out of her house and get her and her trailer down to Kingman, Arizona, after which I had no idea what her plans involved, nor did it matter to me because I had to be back home by the 1st of August for a project that I had already spent two years on.
I had not ever lived with Ms. Barron at her Placerville house address. If I had, her father (Actually, her step-father who removed Mario’s clothes and personal possessions from the house after the dectectives were finished.) would have required that I pay her rent, and while it makes absolutely no sense to live with Ms. Barron, especially not in a 24-foot trailer in Kingman, Arizona.
(Hmmm… sure sounded like you were planning on traveling with her in your statements to Lt. Nida. Remember how upset you were when the trailer wasn’t done and you complained about feeding gas to a Chevy with a 454 on a limited income? Were you lying then or now?)
I own my home in Kauai. I own it and the land it sits on outright. Outside of property tax, I behold no man for any part of it. I built it myself. And it is only one of three cantilevers on the island of Hawaii. I love that house and regret very much that I will never see it again.
The idea that I traded my home in paradise for a 24-foot travel trailer in a place that can get 117 degrees in the shade is someone’s allegations, fantasy. Not mine, I assure you.
I sent Ms. Barron money so she could catch up on her phone bills, and find and pay for a different storage place, fix whatever was wrong with her trailer and truck, and be ready to go by August.
I have also bought and sent her a laptop computer and enough money to buy a wireless card, along with the service contract. I did all of this because I believed what she told me. I had no reason not to, and she did not have a reputation as a liar.
And here’s where we run into the elephant that everybody has been tiptoeing around in this case: Methamphetamine.
It is the only explanation for the 180-degree personality shift that I witnessed in my friend. It’s sustained use has caused my friend to mislead me about her situation, and prevented her from simply being honest with me while I was still in Hawaii. Had she told me the money I sent was gone and she was nowhere ready to leave to Arizona, I would have advised her to seek help if she felt she needed it, and I would have told her if she was inclined to get out from under that, she could count on my support.
I am a patient man, Your Honor. The length of my career bears witness to that.
(What??? What did you say? That didn’t even make sense! Patience had nothing to do with me being a mechanic for 30 years…)
I live on an island and is part of an archipelago, which is considered to be the most remote spot in the planet. It has been my experience impatient people do not live long when they are there.
When I tell you my friends would have my support, I mean if she was to have made a sincere effort to turn her life around, I would have been there until the cows came home.
However, this doesn’t mean that I would have volunteered to pay for her rehab. And as a practical matter, there are many other ways to help a person find their way to recovery.
But by July of ’06 this was no longer a possibility. The horse had left the barn long before I got there, and all that was left for me at that point was to take care of what was still mine.
(The autopsy did show some trace of methamphetamine but no signs or indication of chronic use. She probably used to stay alert when she was afraid to sleep.)
The imagination of the prosecution had me playing hide and go seek down in Mammoth Lakes preparing to take on the Eastern Sierra and armed with a .226 caliber six-shooter.
The reality is much less melodramatic. My oldest son lives in Oahu. And when I moved down to Mammoth Lake enough time—
THE REPORTER: Excuse me, you are speaking too fast.
THE COURT: She has to take this down, Mr. Lozano. I’ll ask you to read a little bit slower.
(This was actually the second time she had to slow him down.)
THE DEFENDANT: When I got down to Mammoth Lake, it was enough time to have my son go over to Kauai, meet with my attorney, and transfer everything I owned into his name, house, trucks, everything. And for the next couple of weeks by virtue of Fax and Fed Ex, that is precisely what I did.
Because in this Brave now world O’Patriot Acts and such, I had no way of knowing for certain whether or not any assets I possessed at the time of my arrest would be frozen pending the outcome of any state or civil action against me and then subsequently be auctioned off for the benefit of whomever were I to be convicted of any crimes. I found such a scenario as this or any irrelevant variation thereof completely untenable, to say the least.
(In other words: I’m so selfish I couldn’t stand the thought of my belongings paying restitution to the family or the state.)
In all my life many say to be a suffusion of struggle to house, clothe, feed and otherwise provide for my family, far from it. In fact, neither has it been without some rough spots along the way. There is no day without night.
And I believe that my family and I came to appreciate our bounty all the more for having experienced both times and belt-tightening and penny-pinching.
For those and many other reasons, I simply could not allow something like that to occur. I could not stand by and just let the State of California, El Dorado County, or Placerville sell off everything I owned and then distribute the proceeds however they saw fit.
I had already donated a fair sum to this part of the world. And my reluctance to continue that largesse cannot be overstated.
By the time I got back to Mammoth Lakes from Idaho, it was all pretty much done except for a few loose ends, and I could simply wait for the authorities to arrive, which is what I did.
Your Honor, I sent money to my friend as a way to help her obtain her goals of going to Arizona to visit and travel around the state sightseeing and working on her photography. She was very good at it, and we discussed the possibilities of publishing and/or showing some of her finished work at sometime.
I was happy for my friend, Your Honor, glad that I could help her on her way to fulfilling her dreams. I know just how good it feels to sit—to sit and to achieve life goals and besides the fact that all plans are usually only good for the first 30 minutes once they are implemented.
But nevertheless, it is nevertheless both necessary and fun to make them. They generally tend to serve as guideposts along the way, and it is always fun to compare the estimate with the end result.
I also had plans, Your Honor, long-range plans that I had been firming up for a number of years. Plans that involved the sale of my business, the initiation of my retirement accounts, the purchase of (and) outfitting of a new boat, and the setting up of accounts that I could access with no problem.
I have made many passages all over the Central and South Pacific, some 200,000-plus nautical miles at last count. I intended to do another thirty or forty thousand miles to that total by sailing up to Alaska and just deploying the coast from there down to Tumaco to South America taking perhaps a couple of years to do that, approximately 50,000 miles, give or take.
(I see people in the courtroom looking around at each other again with that same look on their faces. What the hell does this have to do with you killing Kacie!!!)
It wasn’t meant to be, I suppose. In a few minutes this will all be over with and we will all go our separate ways. Most of you here today will take a certain amount of satisfaction that I will die in prison. So be it.
(Wahhh, wahh, wahh!!)
Life guarantees two things, that we all die and, two, that we all die alone. It doesn’t matter where we are when this happens, nothing can be done to change it. And we either go on from there or we do not, depending on your beliefs.
I believe that I have been here before and that I will be here again. And one of these times I will get it right and won’t have to continue these visits anymore.
It doesn’t matter to me that any of you believe this or not. It only matters that I believe it.
I have many things to be grateful for in my life, especially my son.
I also have a few regrets, most especially that I ever left my other home and came to this place, and that is my last word on the subject.
THE COURT: Thank you. One thing, Mr. Lozano, that speaks loud. Based on your statement to this court, I didn’t hear one word of remorse for the victim or the family of the victim for your conduct on the 26th of July of 2006.
I think that the remorse, if you have any at all, is only because of the predicament that you currently find yourself in.
The jury having found the defendant guilty of Count I, murder in the first degree, 187 of the Penal Code, the Court adopts Count I as the base term.
The defendant shall be committed to the California Department of Corrections for Count 1 for the term of 25 years to life.
The jury further found the defendant was personally and intentionally discharged a firearm causing death, and an enhancement which requires an imposition of an additional 25 years to life to run consecutive.
Total term of commit(ment) to the California Department of Corrections for Count I with the enhancement is 50 years to life.
Total—the jury on Count II found you guilty of 10857 of the Vehicle Code, commonly known as auto theft. The Court imposes the midterm of two years in State Prison for Count II. The Court finds that the crime was committed at the same time and place as Count I and orders this sentence to run concurrent with Count I
Total time of commitment to the California Department of Corrections is 50 years to life.
The defendant is given credit for 644 days actually served pending these proceedings.
The defendant is assessed a civil judgment pursuant to Penal Code 1202.44(f) for restitution in the amount of $2,741.96. Said amount is Payable to the California State Victim Compensation Board.
Defendant is assessed a civil judgment for Penal Code 1202.4(f) for restitution to the victims in this case, and in the amount to be determined by the probation department.
The defendant is ordered to pay a restitution fine in the amount of $5,000 pursuant to 1202.4.
The defendant is to pay a restitution fine, a parole revocation fine, in the amount of $5,000 pursuant to Penal Code Section 1202.45. And this fine is stayed pending satisfactory completion of parole.
The Court finds the defendant is able to pay a cost of the probation report in the sum of $460 pursuant to Penal Code Section 296.
The defendant is advised that he is subject to a period of parole for up to five years following release from the Department of Corrections and any violation of the condition of parole can subject you to incarceration up to one year for each such violation.
You are advised of your right to appeal this sentence and/or the verdict in this matter. You must file your written notice of intention to appeal in the Superior Court within 60 days of today, signed by you and your attorney.
If you do appeal, you have the right to a complete transcript of the trial proceedings at no cost to you.
You also have the right to a court-appointed attorney to represent you if you do not have the financial ability to retain the service of an attorney to assist you with an appeal.
If you do not file your written notice of intent to appeal within 60 days of today, your right to file an appeal will be lost forever.
Do you understand what I just told you about your appeal rights, Mr. Lozano?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: And do you have any question you wish to ask me about your appeal rights?
THE DEFENDANT: No.
THE COURT: Defendant is remanded to the custody of the sheriff of El Dorado County for the transportation to the California Department of Corrections.
The reporter is directed to prepare a transcript of the entire sentencing proceeding and file a copy with the clerk of the court. This matter is concluded.
(The proceedings concluded.)
---oOo---

As we gethered outside the courtroom, Dale Gomes commented that most of what Mario was whining about were lies anyway.

Happy Father's Day & Stuff

I'd like to wish a Happy Father's Day to all the guys that stop in here on my blog. I don't know how many of you there are, but the wish is here for you. I'll be calling my Dad and Stepdad later today to wish them a good day.

The weather is pretty good today. Very light wind out of the South, the sky is actually mostly blue today! I'm seeing very little of the brown/tan color from the smoke this morning. This calmer and cooler weather is definitely working for the firefighters. Here's the rundown on the fires for this morning:

Humbolt Fire: It's 50% contained as of 7:00am this morning. It's burned over 23,000 acres so far and unfortunately has also destroyed 74 residences and 8 outbuildings. 20 more residences have been damaged. According to the California Fire News website, the fire is burning slowly towards the East now, which means it isn't heading towards Chico or Paradise.

Martin Fire: 90% contained as of 7:00am this morning! At the rate they are going, they should have a line around it for 100% containment by the end of today. They've lost 3 homes and 8 outbuildings there, with 1 home and 2 more outbuildings damaged. (Yesterday they were saying that 10 homes had been lost, so the crews must be checking the buildings more closely to have downgraded the number of homes lost.) The California Fire News website is reporting that the authorities there are looking for a "person of interest" who had been seen in the area near where the fire started. The website has a copy of a sketch of the person up for folks to look at. If you're from that area, please follow the link and see if the sketch resembles anyone you know or have seen.

Whiskey Fire: This one has grown considerably since yesterday but they've got it 15% contained now. It has charred over 6,500 acres as of 7:00am this morning. (The Inciweb site is loading extremely slow for me this morning so the link goes to the California Fire News blog entry for the Whiskey Fire.) There are no reports of structures being lost so far since this fire is burning in some very rugged terrain.

Indian Fire: It's 31% contained and has burned over 33,000 acres. Yesterday the containment percentage was higher, so they've "lost" some of their headway towards controlling this fire. It's still highly active on the North and East sides. According to the entry for the Indians Fire on the California Fire News website, the fire behavior yesterday was "extreme". According those on the fire lines it was pulling Oak trees out of ground during its run. Fire storms are scary things.

Other News... I've been halfway watching the trial of Neil Entwhistle, the Englishman who is accused of murdering his wife and 9 month old daughter in January of 2006. On Friday, a fraud inspector from eBay and PayPal, Jeremy Roybal, was testifying to Neil's bad behavior on eBay. Apparently he was defrauding eBay buyers and had been kicked off the site. Anyway, the prosecution did a pretty good job of showing what a weasel Neil was. (I only saw part of the direct questioning because I left to make the trip up to Redding with my family.) Then the defense attorney, Elliott Weinstein, got up to cross examine the eBay guy. Sad to say, this defense attorney should have done his homework before he attempted to question Mr. Roybal. His "questions" were more like statements (erroneous ones!) about how eBay and PayPal work. Mr. Roybal did his best to answer, but apparently the answers weren't what Mr. Weinstein wanted so he gave up saying "You know what Mr. Roybal, I don't think I'm going to ask you anymore questions today", then grumpily stomped back to the defense table. A person with the name of RealityCanBeEvil on YouTube has been uploading most of the testimony for the trial and late last night, she uploaded the clip of the cross-examination. It was pretty funny to watch the clip this morning. The expression on Mr. Roybal's face when Mr. Weinstein gave up was priceless. Check it out below. (The person recording the trial had some issues with frame rate and all that, so the video isn't the best, but you can sure see the fellow's face... lol)



Sprocket, over on the Trials and Tribulations blog has been posting a lot of the testimony from this trial. Check it out!

Update 6/19/08
Apparently someone got upset over RealityCanBeEvil posting videos of the trial testimony and YouTube has disabled their account. Unfortunately that means that all the videos she/he had been posting have been "removed" from YouTube, including the one that I linked above. If I can find that video posted elsewhere on the net, I'll post a link or embed it here again.

Another Update! 6/30/08
RealityCanBeEvil has found a new place to post the videos from the Neil Entwistle trial! And she has reposted the video of Mr. Weinstein's goofy cross examination of Mr. Roybal. I still think that Weinstein should have studied up a lot more on how eBay and PayPal works, because he apparently had absolutely no clue... Or maybe he got his information from Neil? Anyway, enjoy the video!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

LOZANO SENTENCING TRANSCRIPT ARRIVED

I received the transcript for the May 16, 2008 proceedings of the sentencing of Mario Lozano today. As I read it I was still appalled at the selfishness of Mario in his letter. I will start copying it today and should have it posted by tomorrow.
Gene.

10:30 AM Sunday, I'm on page 11 of 21...

Fires and a Local Crime Update

Updates on fires have been posted below.

I drove North to Redding yesterday with my Mom, Stepdad and my brother. The sky was nasty looking because of the fire near Chico, we thought. But, as we drove up the highway, we saw another plume of smoke to the west of the highway. Chico is East of I5! Another fire in the mountains... We took care of our "business in Redding, had dinner and then headed back towards home after having been in Redding for 4 hours or so. The smoke on both sides of the highway was worse. The smoke over towards Chico was thick enough that we couldn't see the mountains at all in the East. The "new" smoke on the West side was thicker and it wasn't just one plume of smoke anymore. It was split into at least 3 columns of smoke!

I checked the CalFire incidents web page to see if they had any new information on the Chico fire and to see if there was anything about those other plumes of smoke off to the West. They had both, and they've named the "new" fire the "Whiskey Fire". So here's the updates on the fires:

Humbolt Fire: It's still going strong apparently. As of 7:30pm last night, the fire was only 20% contained and has burned about 23,000 acres. It's destroyed about 50 homes and damaged a dozen more. 5,600 more homes are still in danger. The town of Paradise has essentially been cut off from the outside world because of the fire and road closures. The fire is still endangering the city of Chico. The Chico news paper has put together a google map of the fire, view it here.

Whiskey Fire: This is the "new" one we saw from the highway yesterday. As of 6pm last night, the fire was 10% contained and had burned over 2,500 acres. No calls for evacuations yet, as the fire is burning in the Mendocino National Forest.

Electra Fire: When I was browsing through the active incidents on the Cal Fire incidents page, I found another "new fire". This one is over in Amador County... This one isn't big, but it's given the firefighters a different problem. All along the foothills over there are high voltage electrical lines. You know, those big towers with the power lines? Well, the fire has damaged some of the lines so power has been shut down for the majority of that county. I do not envy the folks living over there.. With this heat and no electricity, that means no relief from the heat.

Indians Fire: From what I can get out of the update sites for the forestry, the fire has changed directions and is no longer headed towards Fort Hunter Liggett. As of 8pm last night it is 36% contained and has charred almost 24,000 acres. It's also destroyed one home and it's threatening 660 more. They've also determined that the cause is "human, under investigation". So someone set it.. Whether intentionally or accidentally, we don't know yet.

Martin Fire: Firefighters seem to be fairly successful with this one. As of 7:25pm last night it was 65% contained and has burned less than 1,000 acres. They have lost 10 homes though, and more are still threatened.


At least the winds have calmed. No North winds yesterday and so far none today either. That should help the firefighters get a handle on all the blazes. There is a lot of smoke in the air as you can see from the photo above. I took it about 7am this morning, the sky is an ugly brownish color and the sun can barely shine through... I'm typing this at about 8am and the sun still isn't really shining..

On to other news; The local paper has an article about Rex Archer and the hearing that happened on Thursday. It was posted as "breaking news" last night, but the full article is in today's paper:
Archer ruling expected Wednesday

What it boils down to is that the judge will watch the recorded interviews with two alleged victims before ruling this coming Wednesday whether Earnest Rex Archer will be held to answer on seven child molestation charges. Archer was in court for the preliminary hearing Thursday morning.

I'll be watching the paper this coming week to see what the judge has to say after he's watched the interviews of the two girls.

Fire Updates @ 9:30am:
I just checked the CalFire website for the current incidents and it's reporting that the Electra Fire has been 100% contained. Great news!

The other fires still have a ways to go though. The Humbolt Fire is 35% contained, but they've lost more homes. The count is up to 66 homes lost now. The Whiskey Fire is 15% contained and has charred 3,477 acres as of 6:00am this morning. The Indians Fire is at 38% contained and almost 25,000 acres burned. The Martin Fire is 75% contained this morning and they are reporting that the cause is "human".

Hopefully the winds will stay away again today. It's still calm outside and that helps the firefighters. The sky is still pretty mucky looking, but the sun is managing to shine through it now.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More Wind....

The North wind is blowing again today. And yes, there are still a lot of fires burning around the state this morning. A couple of the fires I wrote about yesterday have been contained or controlled. Which is good news. But with the wind blowing the way it is, I'm sure there will be more starting up.

The fires in Stockton, Sacramento and Lincoln aren't in the "active" list anywhere that I can find this morning, so they are in the clean up stage I'm guessing. (And hopefully they will stay that way!)

The fire near Palermo, named the Ophir Fire, is apparently 100% contained now, but the fire crews will be out there mopping up for a while longer. Especially since the wind is still blowing.

The Chico area fire is still very active today. It has been named the Humboldt Fire and from what it says in the last update on the CalFire incident list it's only about 10% contained. It's burned over 6,000 acres so far. I can still see smoke in the sky above me from this one.

The Indians Fire down near Fort Hunter Liggett is at 16% containment now with almost 17,000 acres burnt. Apparently this one is still pretty scary, especially since it's burning towards the Incident Command Post where they are making evacuation and protection plans this morning. The Incident Command Post is the main "fire camp" where they plan for the attack on the fire and where the firefighters can go to eat, rest and recharge before going back out on the fire lines. Unfortunately the news is reporting injuries to firefighters on this fire. Five firefighters were injured fighting the blaze Wednesday. One firefighter was hospitalized for serious burns on his hands. One firefighter suffered a leg injury, one suffered smoke inhalation and two sustained minor burns on their ears. The fire doubled in size yesterday.

The fire near Santa Cruz/Bonny Doon is named the Martin Fire is small in comparison to some of the others, but it's still moving. And it's only 5% contained this morning and is still threatening over 1,100 structures.

On another note, one of the local news stations, KCRA Channel 3 has an item about a stop sign in Stockton that was mispelled and they got a picture of it before the crews went back out to correct the mistake. "SOTP"? Ok... lol

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wind, Weather and Fires.....

Updates below....

Another windy day here... The North wind has been blowing for what seems like days now. The wind dries everything out. This year seems to be working into being a really nasty one for fires here in California. The weather seems to be very odd all across the country too. Heat wave in the Northeast, floods in the upper Midwest, tornadoes in the rest of the Midwest and here in California, we have had many days of dry and warm North winds so far. And it's only the beginning of June!

Yesterday was a particularly bad one for fires here in the valley.
  • In South Sacramento fires burnt 6,400 acres and destroyed 10 buildings, including 2 homes. That fire also injured a firefighter when the wind changed direction and the fire overran an engine company. One man, the captain didn't manage to get inside the firetruck before the flames roared over. Firefighters have a control line around the fire. Hopefully the winds will not send it across the lines again.

  • In Stockton fires damaged or destroyed 32 homes and condos near I5. That fire is out for the most part now, but it's going to be hard for the people who lived in that neighborhood to go back and try to pick up the pieces.

  • Another fire near Palermo (Which is Northeast of where I am.) has burned 1,600 acres so far, and has destroyed 21 residences, 99 vehicles and 28 outbuildings. The picture below is from the newspaper in Oroville and shows flames coming dangerously close to a Cal Fire truck along Highway 70 as an air tanker drops retardant overhead.

  • Another fire I've been reading about is the "Indians Fire" and is down near Fort Hunter Liggett where my folks and I were a couple weeks ago. That one has been burning since Sunday and is only about 10% contained according to the InciWeb website. The image below shows a smoke column from a flare up.
I also just read about 2 more firefighters having been injured and sent to the hospital at yet another fire near the town of Lincoln this morning. This year, I fear, is going to be a really bad one for fires. With the drought conditions we have, and with the dry, hot and windy weather, the firefighters are going to have a very, very bad time. I try to keep up with fire news around the state, and around the country. Too many years of having been a firefighter's wife and also having family members in the fire service still, I guess.

Here are some good websites to check out for news about fires, especially wildland fires:
Update @12pm
Make that three firefighters injured in the fire near Lincoln now. The Sacramento Bee is reporting that two firefighters were transported by helicopter to UC Davis Medical Center's burn center and another was taken by ambulance to Sutter Roseville Medical Center. They were apparently trapped by the fire according to a spokesman. And from what I can tell from the reports, the fire is still burning...

Update @6pm
Another fire burning.. This time it's North of where I am. This one is burning near Chico and it looks like a bad one too. The Chico newspaper has an article up as well as a lot of pictures, both from their photographers and from local folks who are uploading photos. Like the one below.

This one is named the "Humbolt" fire and as of 45 min. ago, it was at 1000 acres burnt, 1000 homes evacuated and 0% contained.

And yet another fire is in the news tonight. This time near Santa Cruz. Actually, its closer to the community of Bonny Doon. Here's a link to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Wildfire chases hundreds of residents from homes near Santa Cruz

Adding one more fire information link that I happened across:
Fire Information Engine Toolkit: California Active Fire Mapper

The sky above me is turning an ugly color with all the smoke in the air.. This is definitely going to be a very bad fire season......

Monday, June 9, 2008

Office Meltdown?

A lot of bloggers are talking about the latest "viral video" that shows an office worker in the midst of a meltdown. I stumbled onto it on the ABC News site, in their video section; "Office Freak Out: Real or Fake?". (I sure hope that the link works.. it sometimes takes me to other videos on the ABC site.. For instance, I got one about some elephants that freaked out when the tornado sirens sounded. lol) That led me to search Youtube and I found the following video set to music:


Second angle from a cell phone:


Best detective work on figuring out if the video is real:

"Office Meltdown" Theories

and:

“Insane Office Worker,” what happened?

Here's the original article explaining what happened (it needs to be translated):
http://news.mail.ru/incident/1800104/

Here's the Google translation of the article:
Today, a new online video scandalous - Record with surveillance cameras in one of the metropolitan office. At the black-and-white screen can be seen as a man who sits outside his table, suited man, after several seconds of conversation vskakivaet first, and begins to offset the premises.

First - launched a monitor in a woman, then became destroy everything. At the same time nobody tried to stop it, despite the fact that in the room was full of men.

Only when the guard intervened, who twice "vrazumil" elektroshokerom young man, managed to stop the madness. In LJ said that incident occurred in the office of the advertising edition "Yellow Pages". The reason buystva young man - the failure of a vital earned commissions.

Podoshedshy man named Igor cattiness joked - Pier was thought to rest in Thailand, and now poedesh in Crimea. That was the last drop.

LJ - mostly community understands and sympathizes clerk to derail him - monotonic work in any office can bring to this.


A lot of people are saying in the comments for the videos on Youtube and elsewhere that incident is "faked", but if you watch videos anywhere on the internet, you see lots of those comments. Apparently this one seems to be real. As far as I can tell at this point....

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Travels ~ Fort Hunter-Liggett and Beyond ~ Day 4

For the last day of our little "vacation" we decided to head towards the Santa Cruz area before heading for home. We first wanted to stop in Aptos and visit Seacliff State Beach and the concrete ship. Back when I was a kid, my father's Dad (my Grandad) had built a house on the southern edge of the beach at Seacliff. His was the last house on the street than runs along the creek towards the ocean. We have a lot of fond memories of visiting there. Walking along the beach with Grandad early in the mornings was a lot of fun. Grandad had a walking stick kind of thing that he drug through the sand to unearth things that people had forgotten or lost the day before. Plus there were the nifty things that would wash up with the tide to pick up and examine. Grandma and Grandad always had a big box full of things that he had picked up. Flip-flops, frisbies, flat beach balls that just had to be blown up again to play with. Grandma had a huge stack of beach towels from those walks along the beach, too. She used them as fillers in the hand made quilts she made for all the grandkids. I still have mine tucked away in my cedar chest. Fishing from the cement ship was a lot of fun too.

Concrete Ship and pier at Seacliff State Beach at Aptos. The concrete ship's name is the Palo Alto and was originally built in 1917 for use as a tanker in the war effort in World War 1. But the war ended before the ship was finished and she sat docked in Oakland until 1929 when the Seacliff Amusement Company bought her. She made her maiden voyage under tow to where she now rests. The company that bought her intended make her into an amusement and fishing ship. They positioned her, then opened the seacocks and she settled to the bottom. After months of construction, the pier was finished, the ship was revamped and they were open for business in the summer of 1930. The brochures I have from the State Park visitor's center says that the ship had a ballroom on the main deck, a restaurant in the superstructure and a series of carnival type concessions on the afterdeck.

By the time our family visited there in the 50's, all the "extras" were gone except for the pier. It was still a very popular place to visit. Where else could you walk out a pier and fish off the deck of a huge ship? My brothers and I would fish in the hold of the ship while my Dad and Grandad would fish off the side or in the hold. And yes, we caught fish.

In the 80's there was a really bad storm and it damaged the ship, destroyed the pier leading out to the ship, destroyed some of the park buildings up next to the cliff and washed away much of the sand on the beach. The storm was bad enough that it actually broke the ship! Then another storm, this time in the 90's, I think, did even more damage to the ship. The pier ends with a tall fence where the ship begins now.

Another view of the ship and pier from the Aptos side of the bridge over a creek that goes out to the ocean. I'm not sure what the name of the creek is, but looking at Google Earth it might be Trout Creek. By the way, they say that fishing is still pretty good from the pier..

Here are some stats on the ship:
  • Cost__________$1,500.00
  • Material_______Reinforced Concrete
  • Weight________7,500 tons / 6,380 stripped
  • Length________435 feet
  • Width_________54 feet
  • Draft__________30 feet
  • Engine_________2,800 horsepower
  • Propeller_______15 ft 9 in. diameter
  • Rudder________15 tons
  • Mast__________2 (each 76 feet)
  • Anchor Chain____39 tons
  • Capacity_______about 10,000 tons
  • Woodwork______white ash

My Mom and I wandered up the street that Grandad and Grandma used to live on trying to spot the house he built. The houses have multiplied and have been remodeled so many times, there is no sight of the rock house. But, we found one house that looked "right" on one side and it was still the last house on the street. The position of the door and windows on the side reminded us of how the house used to be. The back door went out of the kitchen into Grandad's garden. A window in the kitchen and a window in the bedroom at the back. Could this one be Grandad's house?

There is a house in what used to be the garden, a fireplace has been added and the garage has been replaced by a 2 story addition, but that back door and the windows on that one side sure look *right*. The house is unoccupied (or at least it was the day we were there.) so I went up and peeked in the front window. The doorway into the bathroom and bedrooms was in the right place! I really think this just might be the house Grandad built with a whole lot added on.

Another view of the house we think is the one my Grandad built.

Here's a view of the street next to the creek. Grandad's house is the last house on the street before you get to the beach.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention what the TomTom GPS unit did to us. Before we left Fort Hunter Liggett, we programmed it to take us to Aptos. We followed the directions it gave us, turn for turn. And ended up out in the countryside! When it said we had reached our destination, we were right in front of a driveway into a ranch! lol.. We reprogrammed it to go to Seacliff at that point, and then we got where we wanted to be. Like I said in an earlier post. TomTom is great, but it helps it a lot to give it an address, not just program it to go to a "city center". We still can't figure out why it thought that driveway was the "city center" for Aptos!

After leaving Seacliff, we headed into Santa Cruz. We drove around a bit, looking at things from the car, but my Stepdad decided at that point that he'd had enough and it was time for us to head back towards home. We wanted to get back closer to home before the rush hour hit on the highways around the Bay Area. It being a Friday, there was plenty of traffic anyway but we did manage to miss the worst of it. So, that is the end of the tale of our travels this time... Hope you've enjoyed the pictures!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Travels ~ Fort Hunter-Liggett and Beyond ~ Day 3

The third day of our travels, we decided to head North towards Carmel and Monterey. After visiting the Mission San Antonio just down the road, I wanted to show my Mom the one at Carmel. I'd visited there years ago on a photography workshop trip that I took with a photography class at a nearby junior college. So, we programmed the TomTom for Carmel and headed out towards Highway 101. After a stop for breakfast in King City again, the TomTom did pretty good at getting us to the general area. Although, since we didn't have an address as a destination, we told it to go to the Carmel "city center". Well, we ended up in a residential area a ways away from the actual "downtown" area of Carmel. After cruising around town, admiring the buildings and finding a lovely beach we found some workmen and asked one of them how to get to the mission. He gave us some great directions and we found the mission with no problems.

This is the front of the Carmel Mission Church or the Mission San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo as it's properly known. The mission is still a functioning church and has a school in the rest of the buildings on the site. When you visit, you can opt for a docent guided tour or just to wander the grounds, taking care not to disturb the school or any other functions that happen to occur. We chose to wander the grounds. Inside the church, off to one side is a small chapel that contains the crypt or tomb where Father Junipero Serra is buried.

This is part of the courtyard where the school is at the Carmel Mission. The gardens we blooming like crazy and it was very quiet there when we wandered around. I suppose the fact that the walls are so thick in the buildings around the courtyard that the sounds from the school children in their classes were barely heard.

Also in the courtyard there was this huge tree. I had to back up almost to the other side of the courtyard to get the whole tree in the viewfinder. I'm not quite sure what kind of tree it is, but it was very striking. The smaller tree to the left is a pepper tree.

I'll be honest here, I did read the small plaque placed near this statue, but I do not remember who it is supposed to be or who sculpted it. I just thought it was rather striking and thought provoking. Like why is he holding that odd looking branch with birds perched on it?

After wandering around Carmel and the mission we headed for Monterey. This time the TomTom got us pretty much where we wanted to be. We wandered through the shops at Cannery Row for a while then decided that the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant would be a good place to have a late lunch. The food was delicious, especially the clam chowder and the "Hush Pups" which were different from any other "hushpuppies" that I'd ever had. Bubba Gump's puts shrimp, fish and corn in the middle of the "pups". Just plain delicious!

When we got back to Fort Hunter Liggett, there was a distinct smoke smell in the air. A fellow told us that the forestry had done a "controlled burn" in the hills, and the breezes just filled the valley where the main part of the fort is with smoke. I kept going out and walking around with my camera at sunset, hoping for a beautiful sunset photo to add to my "album", but every evening was cloudless so the sunsets were rather "brief" and not very colorful. This smokey sunset from the hill behind the Hacienda was the most colorful one we had the entire time.

Now a bit about the history of the Hacienda and the land around it. Way back around the turn of the century, William Randolph Hearst had begun buying up the land and ranches in the area. In the late 1920's, he commissioned Julia Morgan to design and build the Milpitas Ranch headquarters. Construction of the complex started in 1929 on the site of the original Milpitas Ranch headquarters which had burned down. The original plans for the complex indicate that the buildings were to house 20 employees and it was supposed to have a wing included that would have been Mr. Hearst's private quarters. That wing was never completed, but the rest of the building was expanded to house 30 employees.

Ms. Morgan's design reflected the California Mission style, but differed in that it was constructed of poured concrete instead of adobe or bricks. All the materials for the construction of the buildings was hauled in by trucks from Santa Cruz. And none of the materials went to waste. Even the wood used in the forms for the concrete was used later for the ceilings. Wood stoves and fireplaces provided heat and water was supplied by a well near the San Antonnio River nearby and stored in a tank in the tower over the part of the building that housed the kitchen. The building housed the ranch manager, the mechanics, gardeners and cooks needed to care for the ranch year round. The cowboys, however, camped in the fields.

The Hacienda was used all through the 30's as the headquarters for the ranch. In December of 1940, the Hearst era ended when the approximately 158,000 acre ranch was sold to the government along with some neighboring properties to form Fort Hunter Liggett.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Travels ~ Fort Hunter-Liggett and Beyond ~ Day 2

The morning of our 2nd day at Fort Hunter Liggett started fairly early. We had tickets for a 1pm tour at Hearst Castle and we weren't sure how long it would take us to get down there. We also wanted to stop somewhere along the road for breakfast. A month or so ago, my Mom and Stepdad bought a TomTom GPS unit so we wouldn't have to be trying to read maps as we went down the road. So we set the GPS unit for San Simeon and headed back over to Highway 101 and then South. The GPS unit was pretty neat. It got us where we wanted to go, but the pronunciation of the towns and street names was kind of funny. (I should say that the GPS got us where we wanted to go most of the time, but I'll write more on that later.. lol)

Anyway, we stopped at the Paso Robles Inn for breakfast, which pleased my Stepdad. He had a lot of memories of hanging out there back when he was stationed at Camp Roberts. The next stop was San Simeon and the GPS unit directed us right into the parking area for the Visitor's Center for Hearst Castle. We got there a little after 11am, so we checked in at the desk and they told us to trade our 1pm tickets in and get on an earlier tour. We had plenty of time to watch the movie about the building of the Castle. Very interesting movie, I might add. After the movie, we boarded the bus for the 5 mile trip up to the Castle. My "seat-mate" was a nice lady from Germany, her husband was sitting across the aisle.

I took this shot from the viewing area at the back of the Visitor's Center. They've got a lovely patio out there with telescopes set up to look up at the Castle (Or "The Ranch" as Mr. Hearst called it.) I just set my camera up on one of the posts in the wall there and zoomed it in.

The visitor's center at Hearst Castle. Look closely at the hilltop above and to the right of the visitor's center building. You can almost see the Castle! lol... (I took this shot after we got back down from the Castle, but it fits into the page better right here.. lol)

One of the many fountains at Hearst Castle. One of the guest houses, Casa Del Sol, is behind it. We were on Tour #1 which is "The Experience Tour".

The Neptune Pool was our second stop on the tour. Just beautiful! It was kind of hard to get a good shot of the pool without getting the heads and bodies of all the other folks on the tour.. It seemed like every time I lifted the camera up to my eyes, someone would step in front of me with their camera!

Statues at The Neptune Pool. With the sun shining on them, they almost seemed to glow.

Statuary near the gardens, which were absolutely gorgeous. Many, many varieties of flowers and all in glorious color.

The main entrance to the Castle, which we didn't enter. Apparently over the years, the tile mosaic that is on the floor in the entrance had been seriously damaged by all the people walking over them through the years. They've closed and locked the gates and no one uses the front door anymore. Not even the people who work there. We entered through a side door which is just out of sight off to the right.

After taking the picture of the main entrance, I turned around and just had to take a shot of the view from the terrace there. There were many many places where Hearst and his guests had these fantastic views of the ocean, the hills and mountains around the Castle.

Fountain and pools right outside the main entrance to the Castle. After listening to our guide give us stories and more of the history of the buildings, we went inside the Castle.

I didn't take many pictures inside the Castle because of the crowd of people in the tour and how dark it was. Flash photos are prohibited inside the building, so the pictures I did take are kind of dim and don't really show how beautiful everything is inside the rooms, but this one turned out pretty fair. The fellow on the left is our guide. This is in the dining room for the Castle. I never knew that there was only one kitchen and one dining room for the whole Castle. There were no breakfasts in bed or cozy dinners for all those movie stars and notables that visited Mr. Hearst at "The Ranch".

Now, here I could take some nice pictures inside. The "Roman Pool" is an indoor pool built under the tennis court. The pool is 10 feet deep from one end to the other. The only shallow area is in an alcove to the right beneath the dive platform. A lot of the tiles on the floor, walls and ceilings are made with gold, real gold. All of the yellow that you see in the pictures are the tiles made with gold!

This shows the dive platform and shallow portion of the indoor pool. Beautiful, isn't it? That was the last stop on tour number 1. The bus was parked right outside the building to take us back down to the visitor's center. The road goes right past where Mr. Hearst had his zoo. Some of the pens for the bears are still there. The guides say that there are still zebras and a few other range animals that still roam free on the Ranch, although we didn't happen to see any. I guess it just wasn't the right day for seeing them.

After we left San Simeon and the beautiful Castle, we drove a few miles North on Highway 1 to a view point where there are beaches full of elephant seals. And the parking area had bunches of little squirrels running around. I tried to get a few shots of the squirrels, but they just moved too fast.. All I got were blurs.. lol

A couple of the elephant seals were having a disagreement about which one gets that spot to sun themselves in. The noise was incredible...

We found a beautiful view from one of the vista points a few more miles north of where the elephant seals are. Near the town of Gorda, I think. The colors of the water was so vivid, the photo just doesn't do it justice. After we pulled out of the vista point we found a lovely place for a late lunch in Gorda. Very picturesque little inn there. After we ate, we followed Highway 1 North again until we came to the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, a narrow and winding road that heads east back into Fort Hunter Liggett. We had a bit of a scare on that road. For most of the way, we saw no traffic at all, but once we got past the ranger station that is near the summit, we met several of the forestry trucks that were headed towards the ranger station or the coast. I had been hugging the right hand side of the road for most of the way, thank goodness, because on one of the blind curves, we met one of those trucks. And he wasn't hugging his side of the road! I swear, there were only inches between our front bumper and the rear end of that truck! It gave us quite a scare! That narrow, winding road is only about 18 to 20 miles long, but it took us about almost an hour to get from Highway 1 back to the Fort.

Once back at the Hacienda, we spent the evening relaxing and enjoying the evening. The Hacienda has quite a flock of swallows that flutter around. We also saw buzzards, hawks and of course, the cotton tail rabbits munching on the lawn.