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Sequoia and Kings Canyon
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
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OH, WHAT A TANGLED WEB… For the past three years, at least, we’ve known that the next obvious step in this newspaper-publishing venture would be a website. Well, finally, almost one year ago, we got serious about it, hired a web designer, and the site was online as of March 2003.
With that comes a whole new set of responsibilities and a learning curve that resembles a Mount Everest expedition on the ins and outs of the Internet. It’s all been worth it and, honestly, quite mind-boggling as weekly we are contacted by someone with an interest in Three Rivers or the nearby national parks — whether researching history, planning a trip (remember the Mt. Whitney-bound brothers?), looking for a long-lost friend, searching for lodging, a former resident who’s homesick, or someone wanting to move here — and we’ve even been contacted by old acquaintances and past classmates who found us via the website.
As a journalist who is always trying to right what’s wrong in the world, however, a recent incident proves that all is not right with the Internet and there is evil and conspiracy lurking. And I’m not even talking about the creeps who prey on children or scam innocent, credit card-wielding victims.
On June 23 of this year at 3:05 a.m. an email was sent to us that said:
Then, after some specific instructions on how exactly to do this, the correspondence warned:
"If you choose not to renew your domain by November 30, 1927, the domain will become available to the public for registration."
We were unfamiliar with the address from which this email was sent, and since the redundant date was erroneous, we largely ignored the correspondence. We assumed that if it was a legitimate renewal invoice, the sender would realize the error and resubmit the correspondence with correct information.
A worst-case scenario would be that the domain name would expire November 30 of this year and we would be notified again prior to that date.
Well, unbeknownst to us until after the fact, our domain name expired August 30. Who knew? But still no notice, no correspondence prior to, on, or even after that date.
Instead, sometime during the weekend of October 4 and 5, we were disconnected from email and our website became inaccessible to all. During numerous subsequent phone calls, our website host blamed the disconnect-without-notice on the domain registrar and, go figure, the registrar blamed it on the host.
What’s an Internet novice to do? We did what they told us to, of course.
But, hey, they gave us options. Option 1: Pay $235 for immediate reconnection. Option 2: Wait 30 days, let the domain become available to the public and, hopefully, grab it up before someone else does for $10 (by the way, there are scammers out there waiting for that, too, who buy expired domains for $10 or whatever, then put porn, etc., on the site and hold it for thousands of dollars of ransom).
Well, since our email has become an indispensable part of our job and, thus, livelihood, out came the credit card and we paid the extortionary sum of $235… but they haven’t heard the last of us.
Now, comprehend this if you can. The Internet is worldwide and the number of websites is infinite.
If this domain registrar or website host (the guilty party is yet to be determined) disconnects, let’s say, one million customers from the Internet, then whether the affected parties pay the $235 or the 10 bucks, somebody is getting extremely rich.
Whoever these faceless people are, they are totally desensitized and forget they are dealing with the human race as they hide behind their computers night and day. A physical address for any of these places cannot be obtained; phone numbers are a little easier to find, but plan to be placed on hold for the better part of the workweek because, apparently, in the Internet business, work ethics and customer service disappeared with typewriters and Linotypes.
A rose is a rose, and this is extortion, plain and simple. We, as a society who are becoming ever more dependent on Internet communication and services cannot morally allow these types of business practices to take place.
We need to make a stand by hitting these companies and their scams right in their gigabytes.
October 17, 2003
Fall sports are us… or at least should be
by John Elliott
Is fall a great time of the year for sports or what? Be sure to check all those great student athletes in our special fall sports section inside this issue.
Whether you get out and play a sport, are a dedicated fan in the bleachers, or enjoy the armchair variety, October has it all. From football, volleyball, cross country, and girl’s tennis in the schools to world serious baseball, and even the NBA and NHL, who are starting their seasons in professional basketball and hockey, respectively.
World Cup and recreational soccer, thanks in part to Brandi Chastaine and her joyful display of women’s athletic wear, has untold millions running around playing and watching in the fall season what the rest of the world calls "futbol." Being physical and obsessed with playing games while exercising has become an important part of Americana.
Being physical is the key, whether you’ve got game or not. That physical part, and being able to just do it in some of the planet’s special places, is what’s so appealing about the outdoor sports like hiking, climbing, backpacking, trail running, kayaking, mountain biking, skiing, etc. There is — somewhere, someplace — something to do in the fall.
For parents who have passed this love of sports to their kids, it’s all about youth sports. Soccer moms epitomize what so many parents do to facilitate these sporting activities for their kids.
At no time in the history of our culture is it more important to (1) play games or participate in some outdoor activity with your kids, (2) be a facilitator so other kids besides your own can play; and (3) make an effort to attend and support youth sports from recreation soccer to high school football games.
Most importantly, kids need to get off the couch and away from the computer and TV screens and get physical. Facilitating the games and making certain that all kids have the opportunity to play increases the chances that they will enjoy one or more of these activities and continue to be physical as adults.
We are the biggest, fattest fast food-consuming Americans ever. Type 2 diabetes is an epidemic among children and adults and endemic of a national healthcare crisis.
LeBron James, an extraordinarily gifted 18-year-old Ohio athlete, who was drafted No. 1 right out of high school to play basketball in the NBA this season, is already visiting schools to inspire kids to get physical. He is devoting some of his millions to setting up a non-profit foundation to help obese kids get off the couch and exercise through playing sports.
For another segment of our youth, it’s not fast food that’s the temptation, but illegal drugs. Last Friday’s congressional hearings at Wuksachi Village in Sequoia National Park revealed that Tulare County is now the pot-growing capital of the nation.
More children are smoking pot than ever. What is alarming, however, is that this is not the low-grade grass that the boomers like President Clinton tried and didn’t inhale. This is a hybrid "killer weed"that is now scientifically cultivated to be three to five times stronger than it was in 1970.
This new marijuana is highly addictive and produces a euphoric sensation of similar intensity to cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, or any of the so-labeled dangerous drugs. The same cartels that produce methamphetamine and smuggle heroin and cocaine now have added pot-growing to their multi-million dollar conglomerates.
Why are the drug syndicates investing millions in the cultivation of marijuana? It’s because 60 percent of all drug use is pot consumption.
Do the math. There is big money to be made from all those pot smokers, many of whom are the children of affluent families such as those in Three Rivers.
These users (at least not yet) are not the eight percent of druggies who are so hopeless that they would sniff, smoke, or inject highly toxic methamphetamine. But once they are addicted to the new pot of today, there is a much greater probability to try meth.
So rather than preach gloom and doom, let’s all get more involved with our youth. Play games, go to games, support athletic fundraisers, or just go outside and play.
Say yes to sports. Just say no to drugs.
October 10, 2003
DAM IT… This caption heading was more appropriate than we realized as we sent the September 19 issue to press. Within the pages of that week’s paper were some extraordinary photos of work associated with the Lake Kaweah Enlargement Project.
On page 10, however, the photo of a fusegate under construction was inserted upside down onto the page at the printer. This, I’m sure, inflicted vertigo on many a reader because it’s a rather complex photo even when viewing it right-side up.
The caption was titled "Dam it," and that’s pretty much word for word what both John and I uttered as we respectively reviewed the newly printed edition. Just another day at the office.
COMPUTE THIS… Apologies to all who tried to access our website during the period from Sunday to Tuesday this week and especially those who attempted to email us and found their correspondence returned to sender.
An interesting situation arose when our Internet host suddenly and without notice canceled our service. When tracked down and asked why, it was stated that we had not renewed our domain name. There is much more to this intriguing story that could possibly have implications for a world of Internet users.
I will discuss the cancellation and its implications in-depth in my next column but, until then, we are back online, so check out the website (see the gorgeous fall photos on the Weather page — www.kaweahcommonwealth.com) and send us a letter or press release via email.
THE GOOD OL’ DAYS… In an attempt to keep history alive, a user group formed this past summer so people can post messages and have online discussions about their memories of living, working, or camping in the Giant Forest area of Sequoia.
"Camping closed there in 1971 and, hopefully, this group will help relive the experiences enjoyed by hundreds of people," said Darrell Douglass, the group’s moderator.
To read or post messages, go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sequoia-park-giant-forest.
THREE RIVERS-INSPIRED ARTIST… "It was pouring rain and cold the night Suzanne Baker and her family arrived at their new home in Three Rivers, near California’s Sequoia National Park, but when she awoke the next morning she was greeted with the warmth of a blazing sun. Walking outside, she noticed a carpet of green moss covering the roof and sunlight reflected in each drop of water from the previous evening’s storm. In the front yard, a group of cows lazily grazed. Just shy of her 5th birthday, Baker was awestruck. Decades later, memories of those first days in Three Rivers are indelibly etched in her mind."
So begins an article entitled "Freedom to Roam"that appeared in the March 2003 issue of Southwest Art magazine, sent in by Carol Rookstool of Three Rivers. Suzanne Baker, whose childhood and teen years spent in Three Rivers have inspired her work, has become a successful artist who exhibits her art in galleries in Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and California.
Her paintings focus on landscapes and the cowboy life in California, Nevada, and the High Sierra. She is married and, for the past 30 years, has lived in "California’s Central Valley near Yosemite National Park."
I don’t know if Baker is her maiden name or married name, but does anyone remember this woman from her days in Three Rivers or know where the family lived?
The article continues," It was the 1940s and the family had packed up and left Los Angeles in search of a new life. Homesteaders, they settled on a small, rustic ranch in the shadows of the towering Sierra foothills. The house had no electricity and was heated by a single wood stove. Baker’s father was an alcoholic and her mother, who had been raised in a privileged family, was unprepared for the hardscrabble life, so the couple’s four children were mostly left to their own devices. Baker found immense comfort and pleasure in the land…
"School, for Baker, was restrictive in the extreme. She felt compelled to be outdoors and spent all her free time climbing, the steep, craggy Sierras, on foot and on horseback. At 11, to buy her first horse, she earned money collecting worms in beer cans and selling them to anglers who came to fish in the Kaweah River. She rode bareback through the mountains; three years later, when she’d saved enough to buy a saddle, she was an expert horsewoman. Spurred by passion, ingenuity, and necessity, she taught herself to ride, shoe horses, and care for the family’s livestock…
"Many an evening in Baker’s household was spent painting. Around the kitchen table, by the warmth of the stove, mother, children, and neighborhood artist friends would share a meal and take turns modeling or arranging objects for still-life paintings…
"To earn money for college, Baker worked summers as a pack guide in the High Sierra and by age 18 was in great demand by the numerous outfitters in the area. Despite her aversion to school, she knew she needed to get away from home and experience a bit of the outside world. She enrolled at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, known for its horse and cow programs, and formalized much of the practical knowledge she’d already gained living the life of a cowgirl."